26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Postmaster-General able to say whether the once a day delivery of mail has been successful or otherwise? Is he able to say whether complaints about single deliveries have increased? Has the Minister any plans to restore the old system of two deliveries a day? If not, will the Minister consider reducing postal rates now that the service has been cut by 50%?
– In answer to a question in the House some little time ago 1 indicated the approximate number of complaints received up to that time. Since then the two deliveries instead of three in the city of Melbourne and one instead of two in the suburbs of Melbourne have been brought into operation and consequently there were a good number of complaints flowing out of Victoria. But I believe there has been quite an improvement in the service and most honourable members will surely recognise that in this type of adjustment there will be some early problems. Tn the main these have been overcome and there are fewer complaints about the operation at this point of time. The honourable member asks whether it has been a successful operation. I think I should remind honourable members that this re-arrangement in mail deliveries was done as an economic measure, but still having regard to factors which applied to mail deliveries. He mentioned that mail deliveries had been cut by 50%. That was not the basis on which the Government made these appraisals. The basis was that 90% of mail was delivered in the morning and 10% in the afternoon. On that basis of calculation surely no reasonable request could be made for a reduction in price commensurate with a 50% reduction in the actual services. I believe that the public is in fact receiving a very good service from the Post Office. Considerable savings have been effected in the Department since the initiation of this system of mail deliveries, and whilst some advantages have been reflected in the accounts of the Post Office for this year I believe that next year even greater value will be shown in the accounts for the full year.
– I ask the Treasurer whether there has been a remarkable and disturbing rise in government expenditure - that is, Federal, State and local government expenditure - in recent years. Has government expenditure increased as a percentage of gross national product from 30% in 1960 to 35% today, and is the percentage rising? Have other countries run into difficulties when governments have failed to restrain expenditure? I mention the United Kingdom and New Zealand in particular. Has our economy now reached an explosive condition because of high taxes and high expenditures by governments?
– I think that the honourable gentleman is roughly correct when he says that there has been a large increase in total Government expenditures as a percentage of gross national product.
– How can one be roughly correct?
– I could not help but be rough if I had a good look at the right honourable gentleman. But I should ignore his interjection. The figures, so far as I can remember them, show that at the beginning of this decade - that is, somewhere about 1959-60 - the percentage taken up was of the order of 27% and that in the last year it was 33%. The same trend is shown in public expenditure on goods and services which excludes transfer payments to pensioners. This expenditure has increased over that period by 4% from 18% to 22%. I cannot agree with the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question in which he suggests that our economy is in an explosive position. The economy now is just about as delicately balanced as it can be. Whilst we do not need more stimulus, I have been at pains to point out that we can by financial means keep the economy on an even keel and keep it progressing at what will be regarded as a satisfactory and even a substantial rate. As to expenditure by the Commonwealth, it was pointed out in the last Budget that we were trying to control Government expenditure of all kinds. The Budget figures showed that the rate of increase had been reduced from 10.3% last year to the order of 7.5%. So we recognised the problem that has been mentioned by the honourable gentleman. We are doing 01 best to ensure that demand inflation is kept under control.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry a question relating to a written reply he gave me to a question in which I listed the dates on which he had previously told me in answer to other questions that his proposal for an Australian industries development corporation had been raised in Cabinet on three occasions - namely, 19th July 1966, 16th March 1967 and 6th September 1967, and in which I asked him on what dates Cabinet had since discussed the proposal. In his answer he told me that information about subsequent dates was confidential to the Cabinet. I ask: Why was he able to give the three earlier dates in answer to earlier questions by rae but cannot now give any subsequent date or dates? Can he not tell me whether Cabinet has in fact subsequently discussed the proposal at all? Is the Minister’s proposal for an Australian industrial development corporation only dormant or is it now extinct?
– I do not remember quoting dates to the Leader of the Opposition, but if I am on record as having done so I must have done so in a moment of mental aberration.
– It was a written reply.
– I still insist that I must have done it in a moment of mental aberration because I do not make a practice of giving the dates on which matters are discussed in Cabinet. If I did so, I regret my actions. I do not intend to do this again. The matter is neither dormant nor defunct; it is in a state of suspended animation.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for External Affairs, concerns what I believe is called the act of ascertainment In connection with West Irian. I ask: What countries or organisations, such as the United Nations, can be involved in the negotiations on this act of ascertainment? Can Australia be involved in any way in the pre-discussions or in the actual act of ascertainment?
– .The House will be aware that an act of self-determination or an act of free choice in West Irian is provided for under the New York Agreement of 1962, which was negotiated between the governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands. The Agreement provides that an act of free choice shall take place before 1970 and that it shall be conducted with the co-operation and assistance of a representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Australia is not a party to the New York Agreement of 1962, and its only legal interest is in the sense that Australia is a member of the United Nations. As I have informed the House previously, the representative of the Secretary-General is in Indonesia carrying out his functions under the Agreement. He has been to West Irian. So far as we know, there is a genuine intention at present on the part of the Government of Indonesia to observe its obligations under the Agreement.
I have said that I understand the proposals announced by the Indonesians for carrying out this act of selfdetermination. These involve no commitment so far as Australia is concerned in the actual event yet to occur. The act will be carried out between July and August. 1 think it is also correct to say that while we have no legal standing in this matter other than the one we have in common with all other members of the United Nations, we have a practical interest in the matter because we have a common border with West Irian. We have received full information on the subject from the Government of Indonesia. I think that the Government of Indonesia is aware that other countries are sensitive to any suggestions of repression, duress or unfair practice in this act of selfdetermination. I believe that it will genuinely try to meet the wishes of other nations and its obligations under the New York Agreement. As I said earlier, Australia has no legal standing in the matter apart from the fact that it is a member of the United Nations.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Social Services. What consideration is the Government giving to the appeal by the various national groups for a suitable interim increase in the present pension rates now instead of the pensioners having to wait until the Budget session for an increase? Is it the Minister’s intention to maintain the pension rate discrimination between married and unmarried pensioners? Does the Government intend to ease the means test in the 1969-70 Budget? What percentage of age, invalid and widow pensioners would benefit from an easing of the means test?
– Order! The honourable member is asking direct questions regarding policy. It will be up to the Minister as to whether he wishes to answer them or not.
– I will conclude with this last question: What would be the cost of the total abolition of the means test?
– As you have remarked, Mr Speaker, the questions involve matters of policy and it would be quite impossible for me to endeavour to answer them. But I can assure the honourable member that the Government gives very sympathetic consideration to all the matters he has raised. The present cost of totally abolishing the means test would be of the order of $340m a year. The cost of easing it in various ways depends upon the method adopted for doing so and, of course, one could not forecast that, apart from the method. At the present time approximately 12% of age pensioners, I think 7% of invalid pensioners and approximately 10% of widow pensioners are drawing partial pensions. They, of course, obviously would benefit from any easing of the means test. But on a matter of policy 1 think I can only give to the honourable member the assurance that the Government is considering all these matters.
– Can the Minister for National Development say, firstly, what percentage of fuel now consumed in Australia is obtained from Australian wells? Secondly, can he say in which year Australia is expected to provide sufficient oil to supply its requirements? Thirdly, can he also say whether, if and when Australia produces supplies beyond its requirements, any surplus will be available for overseas markets?
– At the present time Australian producers are producing just under 10% of our total requirements of crude oil. It is expected that the fields in
Bass Strait will come into production a little later than previously had been expected because of the gas blow-out which occurred earlier in the Marlin well. It is expected that these fields will come into production in about November of this year. It is also expected that by the end of 1971 production in Australia will be just about the level of light crude that can be consumed in Australia. Of course, the honourable gentleman will realise that the crude oil so far discovered in Australia is of a very high quality and will not provide some of the lower fractions of oils and bitumen which will still have to be produced from crude imported from overseas. In other words, we will still have to import about 30% of our total crude oil requirements. But by the end of 1971 we should be very close to production in Australia of the other 70% of our requirements.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen the reported statement by Senator Fulbright that he would be able to visit the space research establishment at Pine Gap, and his comment that he believed it should be possible to tell the people all about the defence installations in order to minimise confusion in the minds of the people? If so, does not the honourable gentleman regard it as ridiculous that American congressmen can visit the establishment while members of the Australian Parliament are denied this right?
– First of all, I think that I should commend the Australian Broadcasting Commission on its enterprise in getting Senator Fulbright to make a statement on this rather important public matter.
– Was he right or wrong?
– I will come to that in a moment if the right honourable gentleman will be patient. With due respect, I say that the ABC might have got a more reliable witness because although I did not have the pleasure and benefit of hearing Senator Fulbright myself, it has been reliably reported to me that his comments are highly qualified. For instance, he said that as far as he knew there was no intention of a visit. He said that generally United States Congressmen would be able to visit them. He said that he expected that the Russians would know about the purposes of these facilities. None of these statements is very positive and I would take issue with the senator about some of them. The level of security which presently operates at Pine Gap and which will ultimately operate at Woomera is a matter of agreement between the Australian Government and the United States Government covering the joint project. If the level of security that will apply is to be changed, it will equally be changed by agreement. If the United States should agree and we should agree that the security level should be downgraded to the point where United States senators, other than those involved in the committees that have access under secrecy to organisations of this kind. I have no doubt that people of comparable standing in the Australian Parliament will be able to visit on equal terms with members of the United States Congress.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister in his capacity as the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the right honourable gentleman able to indicate to the House the progress that the Tariff Board might be making in regard to Chapter 84 of the Customs Tariff which deals with machinery generally? In particular, is he able to indicate when the Tariff Board might be able to undertake a review of that section which deals specifically wilh laundry machinery?
– No, I regret I am not in a position to advise the honourable gentleman. It is not my practice ever to ask the Tariff Board at what stage it is in respect of one of its investigations. The Tariff Board determines its own priorities without interference from or direction by the Minister. But as the honourable gentleman has asked this question, T will see whether any information can be secured for him. If it can, I will convey the information to him.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question. Will he ask the Prime Minister to institute an inquiry, preferably by a mixed committee of parlia mentarians, representatives of the returned servicemen’s organisations and various pensioner organisations, to examine questions of repatriation and social service pensions and benefits, including a further easing of the means test, better repatriation benefits, increased pensions for those who have no income except their pensions and increased child endowment payments to help married couples share in the expected greatly increased gross national product about which the Treasurer speaks so often, so prophetically and so enthusiastically?
– I concede the merit of all the matters which the right honourable gentleman mentions. I have no doubt that he is a strong supporter of advances along this front. But so also is everyone who sits on this side of the chamber. Steps are taken along these lines year by year. I do not think there is ever a year in which we do not take some forward step in respect of quite a number of social services. The board of inquiry which the right honourable gentleman suggests seems to me to be rather a mixed brew. I would suggest as an alternative that, if a group drawn from the bodies which the right honourable gentleman mentions were to put a proposal to the Government and to the Prime Minister, I am sure it would receive full and sympathetic consideration.
– My question is also directed to the Acting Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister considered the statement by Mr Boyer, the longest serving and most experienced member of the Tariff Board, that tariffs are not the answer to many of the problems of manfacturing industries in the face of world competition? In many cases quantitative restrictions provide the only answer to carefully regulated pricing by overseas manufacturers. In view of the Board’s classification of industries into low. medium and high categories, will any request put to the Board for quantitative restrictions be arbitrarily brushed off?
– In respect to the latter part of the honourable gentleman’s question, it is the policy of the Government not to use quantitative restrictions for the purpose of protecting Australian industries unless the Government is satisfied that a tariff procedure would not be effective. If the Tariff Board is satisfied that a tariff would not be a satisfactory and adequate means of protecting an Australian industry the Board has the right to recommend to the Government quantitative restrictions, and I think that this exists in the case of two or three items. This Government takes the view that quantitative restrictions are an unpredictable and unscientific method of protecting industry. We encounter obstacles to our trade around the world more from quantitative restrictions than from any other means of protection, and we do not want to give countenance to them as a legitimate means of protection to ourselves. I am aware of the speech reported to have been made by Mr Boyer, who, as the honourable gentleman said, is the longest serving member of the Tariff Board. If the Tariff Board itself wished to make a suggestion to the Government in respect to a means of protecting Australian industries, I would regard the Board and I think that the Board would regard itself as free to transmit a recommendation to the Government. This Government is responsible for a tremendous amount of trade throughout the world. I think that Australia is the twelfth biggest international trading country, and the Government wants to give, by example, opportunities for a predictable basis of trade, but quantitative restrictions suddenly imposed are not a predictable basis of trade.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Can the Minister inform the House as to the present stage of the proposed plan to establish an Army ordnance depot at Elizabeth, South Australia?
– The Army’s ordnance depot in Central Command is situated at Keswick Barracks in Adelaide but as a consequence of the general build up which has taken place in the Army in recent years and the need at this stage for a considerable outlay on maintenance and repair items, the facilities there do not meet the requirements of the Army. The Commonwealth holds 300 acres at Elizabeth and it is planned to relocate the depot at that site. Although I cannot give the honourable gentleman a firm date for the construction of the depot
I can tell him that it is planned that the depot should be commenced in 1971 or 1972 and that adequate arrangements will be made to house the staff of the depot.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Social Services. In view of the changing pattern in the needs of rehabilitating the physically and mentally disabled in Australia, will the Minister consider the establishment of a committee to investigate the organisation of rehabilitation in Australia as part of a total health care scheme, as distinct from the Commonwealth’s present limited involvement in rehabilitation through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, which, although efficient is somewhat restricted in that it is only concerned with certain social service beneficiaries? Is the Minister satisfied with the restrictions that apply to the Commonwealth rehabilitation scheme, and is he in a position to tell the House what arrangements the Government may propose in order completely to integrate this scheme with the rehabilitation services operating in the various States within public hospitals?
– The question that the honourable member has raised is an important one and one which deserves a good deal of consideration. It is quite true that in recent years there has been a change in the concept and scope of rehabilitation. This has come about, I think, through three causes. The first is the development of the Commonwealth’s own schemes, not only in the rehabilitation centres but in the parallel sheltered workshops. The second cause is the development of State schemes and the new concepts of rehabilitation which have, very largely, been imported from overseas and to some extent developed in Australia. These have been a tremendous advance. The third cause is that there has been a new look at the position of patients in mental hospitals in which, I am glad to say, the Commonwealth has played some part by rearranging its social services pattern in regard to mental patients. Because of these things there are new horizons opening up in front of us. I believe also that when one looks at the corresponding experience abroad one sees the possibility of helping a number of invalid pensioners to a much better form of life and a much more satisfactory life. For all these reasons I have been exploring for some time, with my Department, the kind of question which the honourable member very properly raises in the House today. I am not at this present moment clear in my mind as to what is the best method of pursuing these investigations which, of course, are centred mainly in my own Department but which obviously touch the Commonwealth Department of Health and, I think, to some extent the Department of Labour and National Service and also go outside the Commonwealth sphere. I feel that probably we are not yet in a position to say what is the best and most appropriate way of going forward. I certainly will keep the honourable member’s suggestion in mind. It is a matter of policy and the final determination will lie with the Government, but to my mind the problem he raises is a most importance one and is worthy of the most serious consideration.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. As the medical staff concerned in Western Australia have reported their facilities to be inadequate to control leprosy will the Minister consider, with the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs, preparing an early statement to explain the Government’s policy which is leaving the problem of leprosy to the States and which appears inconsistent with the eradication policy being pursued against the most closely related disease, tuberculosis?
– 1 would be only too glad to discuss this matter with my colleague the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, but I remind the honourable member that this Government, as I understand it, under the direction of my colleague has made available to the States quite substantial sums of money in relation to Aboriginals, and included in them is a sum available for health. This matter comes under the control of my colleague and I do not know whether any of that money goes towards the control of leprosy, but if the Western Australian Government should choose to use it for that purpose I am sure the proposal would be given the most sympathetic consideration by my colleague in conjunction with my own Department.
– 1 preface a question to the Minister for the Army by saying that I have received quite strong inquiries concerning the formation of a Citizen Military Forces unit in Alice Springs which could be used in a practical way to train local young men not only in military skills but also in their individual work situations. Will the Minister inquire into the possibility of forming such a CMF unit in this rapidly expanding population area?
– I know that the honourable member takes a particularly keen interest in all matters affecting his electorate. I am sympathetic to his request for the establishment of a Citizen Military Forces unit at Alice Springs and I am encouraged by the extent of the interest that he intimates is present there. I assure him that the proposal will be thoroughly investigated and a report provided to him at the earliest opportunity.
– Will it be able to enter Pine Gap?
– I ask the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to contain himself for a moment. A number of important criteria must be met before a CMF unit can be established. In addition to there being a sufficient number of young men to ensure a viable unit, a unit must have the buildings to house Army staff and equipment. Also, the Army must be able to provide the necessary training and administrative personnel. I am sure the honourable member will appreciate that because of the current strain on Army resources, both financial and in terms of manpower, a system of priorities must be established. I shall look into the question and provide the honourable member with a written reply at the earliest opportunity.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Air by referring to a crash that has occurred in the last 48 hours near Los Angeles of a B42 plane with the loss of six lives, that aircraft having been equipped with experimental Mark II black box avionics equipment. Has the United States Air Force insisted on replacement of the Mark I equipment in the Fill plane wim Mark II equipment, at enormous cost over the original quoted price? Why does the Government insist on accepting the Fill with the Mark I equipment? Did not the United Kingdom Government, in placing the order for the Fill which was later cancelled, reject American in favour of English black box equipment? Has the Minister investigated the English system as a replacement for the discredited Mark I and Mark II systems? If not, why not?
– I am not clear to what the honourable member is referring in relation to the crash that took place, and what bearing it has on the Fill, but it was clearly stated yesterday in this House by my colleague, the Minister for Defence, that the Mark I equipment which has been installed in the F111C aircraft has been performing satisfactorily. The fourteen accidents that have occurred have not been attributable to the avionics Mark I equipment. I think this reply explains the situation to the honourable member.
– My question to the Acting Prime Minister relates to the inspection of overseas tourists’ baggage for items, such as books of doubtful quality, on entering this country, or, indeed, when passing through this country on tours around the world. Does the Minister see the role of the Department of Customs and Excise as one of trying to stop mass imports of such books into this country, for obvious reasons? Does he also recognise the point of view of private tourists wishing, perhaps, to bring in one of these items for personal use? Does he not think that the attitude of this country in this respect is a trifle immature in that it aims at preventing a tourist from having private property of a nature that does not meet with the complete approval of the Department of Customs and Excise?
– I cannot speak with any personal knowledge or experience of the matters raised by the honourable member. I know that the Department of Customs and Excise is charged with the responsibility of preventing the mass entry into this country of objectionable items or material or books. I do not know to what extent Customs officials search luggage to discover items of the kind referred to. I think I can best dispose of the matter by bringing the honourable member’s question to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, who is a very reasonable bloke.
– 1 ask the Treasurer a question. Yesterday the right honourable gentleman told the House that he had compiled schedules showing the rising incidence of taxation on the income group earning from $1,000 or $2,000 a year to $18,000 a year and showing also the severity of the Australian schedules compared with those of other countries, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States. Will the right honourable gentleman make these comparative schedules available to honourable members?
– The documents to which I referred are annexures to a Cabinet document. I will make inquiries to see whether they can be made available and I will advise the honourable member.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has the office of Consul-General in New York been vacant since the end of last December? What are the relief arrangements in respect of staff? Is the Consul-General’s apartment being left vacant? May the House be advised whether an appointment to the position of Consul-General is imminent?
– The office of ConsulGeneral in New York is at present vacant. The matter of an appointment is under consideration.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question. On Friday, 2nd May, the day after the Parliament rose for a short recess, it was announced by the Queensland Cane Growers Council that the Federal Government had rejected a request for financial assistance to support the 1968 season sugar price. That decision by the Government was widely publicised throughout Queensland. Why has the Government refused to inform the Parliament of this important decision? When will the Government inform the Parliament of this decision? Or is the correct position that as the request to the Commonwealth did not have the backing of the Premier of Queensland, this Government has still not received an official request?
– The Minister for Primary Industry will answer the question.
Mir ANTHONY - What the honourable member has said regarding the Commonwealth’s rejecting the proposal is true. It was my reply to the representatives of the Queensland Cane Growers Council that was given publicity. The Council’s representatives saw me in a private deputation and submitted a proposal that the Commonwealth should guarantee the No. 1 pool price of cane at $92 a ton. I said that the request was most unusual. The normal procedure has been for the industry - the Australian Sugar Producers Association and the Queensland Cane Growers Council - to get together and submit a united request to the Queensland Government. The Queensland Government then in its wisdom submits a request to the Commonwealth. Never before had there been an individual request from one of the cane growing organisations. It was on this basis that 1 said that 1 was unable to accept the request.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. In each of the years 1964 and 1965 I addressed questions to the previous Treasurer asking that consideration be given to decentralising taxation administration to the level of all provincial cities. What progress has been made in this regard and how long should it be before a city of the size of Orange in New South Wales will have its own taxation office?
– We are proceeding as rapidly as we can to decentralise the taxation offices of the Commonwealth. Only this morning, or yesterday at the earliest, I was told that we would be establishing another taxation office in Ballarat, which is in the electorate of my colleague, the Minister for Air. While I was in Bathurst on Friday of last week I received a deputation asking that a centre be established there at double quick speed. I think that was the phrase that was actually used. I can assure the honourable gentleman that we are now looking at this problem of further decentralisation in the middle west. I hope that it will not be too long before I am able to give him an answer.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:
Augmentation of sewerage services, Darwin, Northern Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The Government’s failure to provide increased and adequate age, invalid and widows’ pensions and other social service benefits.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.)
- Mr Speaker, 1 have pleasure in proposing that this matter be discussed as a matter of urgent public importance. At the outset let me express my regret that not one member of the Government parties saw fit to rise in his place to support this proposal. This says little for those opposite who preach the social welfare State and social justice, from the Prime Minister to the retired rebel who now occupies the position of Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I take this action on behalf of the Opposition because of the complete and utter failure of the Minister and the Government to honour their obligations to the pioneers of this country - the aged, invalids, widows and others dependent on social services, who are the most deserving and needy section of the community.
As at 30th June 1968 there were 682,265 age pensioners, 114,745 invalid pensioners and 75.065 widow pensioners in Australia - a total of 872,075 pensioners. On 3rd February this year there were 15,432 children of age and invalid pensioners and 37,111 children of widow pensioners. 1 ask the House: How are all these people living today? What is their share in our affluent society? Has the Government honoured its obligations to them? 1 propose to show that they are the forgotten people in affluent Australia today. I am supported in this by a pathetic letter - if I might use that word, not in any derogatory way - written by Mrs Irene Ellis to the Prime Minister on 19th August 1968. Mrs Ellis is the Secretary of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation. This is what she wrote:
On behalf of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation I have been instructed to convey lo your Government the rejection by the Federation of the 1068-69 Budgetary pension increases as being totally inadequate. . . .
Then the letter goes on to say:
That the Budget pension increases do not measure up to what the nation expected by the declaration of the Governor-General on March 12, last, ‘My Government will review the field of social welfare with the object of assisting those in most need’.
Then it continues:
The Federal ion asks you, Sir, ‘Where is the compassion in the pittance of 75c or $1 a week for the weakest and most defenceless in the community - the aged, sick and the widowed subsisting on $13 or $11.73 for the past 2 years? Can the pittance now allotted to them be considered as giving very special attention to “ their immediate needs?’
My time will permit me to quote only one more paragraph from this condemnatory letter to the Prime Minister. On page 2 of the letter Mrs Ellis writes:
Where is the promised ‘re-thinking’ of Government policy on social services?
We remember how the Minister used to assure us that thai would be done. The letter continues.
The provisions of the present Budget show the policy of your Government remains as before - to give as little as it can, and to stave off as long as it can any cash or other social service benefits, thereby saving millions of dollars at the expense of ‘those in most need’. The Government only yielding when public pressures, and the demands of the electorate, can no longer be denied.
Has there been any more striking condemnation of the policy of this Government than this letter from the representative of the most worthy section of our community today? I do not have to go over what the Prime Minister has said since he came into office. He has preached the welfare state and improved social services. This is shown in the first Governor-General’s Speech delivered since he became Prime Minister. But let us have a look at the record of the Minister for Social Services. He is the great reformer of days gone by. He sat on the back bench and told the nation what should be done about social services.
– He was a paper tiger.
– According to the Minister then, nothing was too great and the means test could have been abolished almost overnight without any effort at all. Justice for those most in need was his announced policy. He was such a bugbear to the Government, and he was such a paper tiger, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) says, that he was put into the Ministry to keep him quiet because be was embarrassing a government that did not want to do anything about social services and that thought he was fair dinkum. What is the position today? He makes a lot of speeches. At the Summer School on Poverty he said:
He went on to support the Prime Minister when he said:
My Government will review the full range of social services.
The Minister has gone on record with such statements a hundred times this year and in the past. That is why we ask him today why he does not at this stage give some practical indication of what he will do for the recipients of social service benefits.
He said on one occasion that while Australia was the richest country in the world per head there were still many people on the breadline. Last year the Minister said that social welfare measures announced in the Budget were only the first instalment of the Government’s plans. On 28th August 1968 he said:
The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, has set out the Government’s belief that the available resources should be devoted to those Australians in real need.
Let us have a look at what the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has said on the subject. Everybody reads from day to day of the glowing accounts of the economy given by the Treasurer. In Melbourne not so long ago he said:
We have never had it better.
On 10th March 1969 he gave the following address:
AUSTRALIA 1980- THE ECONOMIC PROSPECT
Growth and development in the Australian economy over the next decade. These are magic words.
In a country expanding and changing as rapidly as Australia, even the most optimistic could be wrong when predicting, even for 3 or 4 years ahead, what new developments will occur and what new problems we will have to face and solve.
Let us face the facts. The Prime Minister has said that the Government is concerned about social welfare; the Minister for Social Services, who has recently been promoted from the back benches, has announced to the world his belief in an acceptable policy of social services to give justice to all, and the Treasurer tells us every day, as I have just mentioned, that we can afford anything. Therefore, there is no reason why the Government should not give effect to policies giving justice to those on pensions. The Government should increase pensions according to the needs of the pensioners and not in an endeavour to attract votes.
How would any honourable member opposite like to live on the present pension rates? For the benefit of the House, I shall quote the rates the pensioners in this affluent society receive. A single pensioner with no other income above $52 a year receives the princely sum of $14 a week to live on. If he is absolutely destitute he receives an extra $2 a week, making a total of $16 a week. There are men out of a job who have been through two wars and a depression and have reared their families during hard times. Whereas they were previously earning, say, $40 a week the Government expects them to live on $16 a week. A married pensioner gets $12.50 a week. He is able to earn a permissible income of $8.50. The wife’s allowance of $7 a week has not been changed for years.
The Government believes marriage is a crime; it encourages people to live in sin. Married pensioners are discriminated against all along the line. As I mentioned earlier, a single pensioner receives $14 a week, but a married pensioner receives $12.50 and his wife receives an allowance of $7 a week. Those in receipt of these pensions are expected to live in a society where the average income is $70.80 a week. It is monstrous that such a situation should exist in this day and age. Any government worth its salt would ensure that pensions were increased in accordance with the average earnings and not when it believes that it will get a few votes. Plenty of money seems to be available for the Captain Cook celebrations. Why should the pensions not be increased as well? Why should the pensioners not receive some benefit from the celebrations? (Disorder occurring in the public galleries) -
-Order! 1 remind all visitors sitting in the public galleries that any applause, interjections or demonstrations of any sort, in approbation or otherwise, is distinctly out of order.
– What was the honourable member for Grayndler saying?
– I was saying that if the Askin Government and this Government can celebrate the bi-centenary of the arrival of Captain Cook, which is a great event, they can also afford to spend some millions of dollars to give pensioners a reasonable existence. I see no reason why we should not celebrate the discovery of this country. After all, it has proved to be a great boom for the Liberals and the wealthy people who live in Australia. Every pensioner should be given at least a week’s pension or a fortnight’s pension at the time of the celebration as an indication that all should share in the benefits that have flowed from the great event that we are celebrating. I make that suggestion to the Minister.
I have referred to the rates of pensions and I have referred to the fact that the Government discriminates against all pensioners. The Minister defines pensions in three grades of poverty; absolute, comparative and personal. Take your pick, you are poor one way or the other. The health programme caters for the frail aged, the sick aged and those of little means, the sick who can walk as well as the sick who cannot walk. But the Government discriminates against all pensioners in rates and benefits. That is why this matter has been raised. A married pensioner can earn only $8.50 a week but a single pensioner can earn SIO a week. Why does the Government not make these rates and benefits equitable? Why does it perpetuate a system which divides the deserving section of society into different categories? There is no reason for this.
I will give honourable members an indication of how pensioners are suffering today. We find that the number of pensioners in Australia today who are not earning more than $52 a year totals 131,000. They are living on $16 a week. There are 18,500 widows who receive the very minimum by way of widows’ incomes. If one runs right down the list one finds that very few of the pensioners who are really in need are getting any benefit from this Government today. 1 raise these matters so that the Parliament and the people will be awakened to the fact that this is a phoney Government in the field of social welfare. It has been in office for 20 years and it has brought down more budgets than one could count. In the years between elections pensioners are forgotten whilst others in this affluent society who receive large incomes - General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd, the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Esso Standard Oil (Aust.) Ltd - receive huge remissions of taxation which they could well afford to leave in kitty so that pensioners might receive a reasonable increase in pensions.
I have not time to elaborate further on these matters. I have pointed out the basic facts in the few short minutes at my disposal. The Government is recreant to its trust not only in relation to pensioners. Sickness and unemployment benefits for a man, his wife and two children, have remained at $8.25 since they were last increased in 1962. Consequently, many thousands of people have been living on sickness and unemployment benefits which were last increased in 1962. One finds a similar position regarding child endowment. Honourable members opposite were young men on the last occasion on which child endowment rates were increased. Now most of them are so old that I think they have forgotten what kids look like. So child endowment rates will not be increased. In addition, funeral allowances have not been changed since they were first introduced. These facts indicate the neglect that has occurred under this Government. Honourable members opposite do not like our discussing these matters because they remind them of their sins of omission and commission regarding the aged, the sick, the infirm and the other people who depend on social services. The Prime Minister stated that pensioners were entitled to a little frugal comfort and, at least, he has honoured that promise because that is all they are getting today, from this Government in this affluent society.
I want to finalise my remarks by pointing out that Australia is one of the richest countries in the world. According to the Treasury, the economy can afford these things. The Minister has said that he believes in social justice. The Prime Minister has spoken of the great success that has come to this country today, a success due to the efforts of those who pioneered in the early days. These people are entitled to a measure of support in this affluent age. That is why the Opposition has raised this matter today. We hope that it will stimulate and move the Minister. We hope that he will rebel again, defy Cabinet and give justice to those people about whom he talked for so long but for whom he has done so little since he came to the Ministry.
– Mr Speaker, I hope you will not think that I am criticising you when I say that perhaps you were a little hard on the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) a moment ago. He was playing to the gallery and I think that perhaps you were a little hard on him a moment ago
-Order! It is the duty of the Chair to interpret the Standing Orders and to maintain order. The Chair was not aware of that fact.
– I applaud the impartiality ot the Chair because you. Mr Speaker, would have been the only person in this House who was unaware of it. I think, perhaps, that the honourable member for Grayndler is a little simple in this. Of course, he will get a cheer. But if he thinks that he is being taken seriously, I believe he is rather deceived. The whole House knows that this is not a sincere and genuine feeling on his part. The whole House knows that he has raised this matter merely for political purposes and in a particular circumstance. Honourable members know very well that increases in pensions are made at Budget time. When every Budget has been announced in recent years pensioners have been better off than they had been previously. I believe that with the next Budget there will be no interruption of that succession.
The honourable member for Grayndler says that increases in pensions are granted only at election time. The last Budget was not an election Budget, yet if we look at it we see that an increase of $72m per annum was provided for social welfare. That $72m is cumulative. It goes on from year to year. It has been added to what has gone before, and it will be further added to in the future. The honourable member for Grayndler knows very well that these things are done in the Budget. If he wants to play to the gallery, if he thinks that there is a meeting in Canberra this week to which he would like to appeal, well, he is welcome to do so. But I do not think that the many worthy pensioners outside the House will appreciate the blatant political way in which the honourable member has done this. He has no reason and no justification to try to trade on these people in order to make a little bit of political capital.
I want to go through one or two matters in detail to show, as 1 have done in this House previously, the way in which the position of the pensioner has been improved under this Government. I do not want it to be thought that I believe this process of improvement has come to an end. I believe that this improvement will continue to be made. But do not let us forget what has been done under this Government of which the honourable member for Grayndler is so contemptuous. For example, his motion refers to the position of widows. Let us look at the position of a widow with one child today as compared with the position at the end of the term of office of the compassionate Labor Government of which the honourable member for Grayndler was so distinguished an ornament. At that time a widow received $4.75 per week. In the intervening time prices have increased approximately 2i times. Today, if one makes allowance for changes in price levels, that $4.75 would be worth just a few cents under $11. These are the facts. This is the bench mark from which one starts to make comparisons. What is the position of that widow today? If she has one child she receives $14 as the basic pension, $2 supplementary assistance, $4 mother’s allowance and $2.50 for the child, making a total of $22.50. In terms of real purchasing power it is more than twice what Labor allowed her.
I think it is perfectly fair to say that Australia has prospered under this Government and that our general standards of living have risen. It is also perfectly fair to say that some part of this rise in living standards is due to all our pensioners. But a widow with one child, in terms of real purchasing power today is getting more than twice what she would have got under Labor. That is not the whole story, because now she gets medical services, which she did not receive previously, and also a number of other concessions. They are not all monetary concessions. For example, only recently we introduced the widow’s training scheme. I am glad to inform the House that nearly 2,000 widows have already applied for assistance under this scheme. They are being helped and they deserve to be helped. They are getting help from this Government in a way that will give them something even more satisfactory than their pension. This is good. We are going ahead with our plan to help these people. We are giving them concessions which perhaps cannot be measured in money but which are of real value to them. This is in addition to the fact that the real value of the pension has gone up to over twice what it was. If we are not content now - and we are not content now - we will continue to increase these real standards as the real standard of the community rises. How much less content would we have been with the old Labor standards? If they say that the present standard of social services is only because the whole community has moved forward and is now more prosperous, I say that this is the result of 20 years of government from this side of the House - it is the result of Labor being out of office for 20 years.
Let us consider the old age pensioner. I will not go into this in the same detail but when we look at the rates and see what is available to the person who has no other income - the person who is at the bottom of the scale and who receives supplementary assistance - and add on the value of the fringe benefits, the medical service and so on, what he receives in terms of purchasing power is nearly twice what he received when Labor was in office. The honourable member is not doing the pensioner any service when he becomes captious and tries to create sectional advantages by comparing the married pensioner with the single pensioner or the frail aged with those who need intensive care. That was a mean thing to do because at present the Government is endeavouring to use its available resources in the fairest and most equitable way. Does a person who is frail need the same kind of intensive care as the person who is bedridden? Of course not. But what the honourable member says is that we should not help the person who is bedridden unless we give exactly the same help to the person who is frail. This means that we cannot help them at all.
The Government is trying to direct its programme in a selective way so as to give relief where relief is needed. It is with this idea in mind that we have, for example, put a new emphasis on the housing of pensioners. We believe that the provision of proper accommodation for pensioners at a reasonable rate is not the whole story but that it is perhaps the most important part of the story. Therefore, sectionally perhaps, we have tried to direct relief into places where it is most needed. The difference between the married rate and the single rate has been referred to. Here, I think that the Government is on very sound ground, lt is not that the Government has taken from the married pensioner; it has given something extra to the single pensioner. Those who are living alone have greater needs than those who are living in a married state. A married pensioner has savings in rent and things of this character. The general rule of thumb overseas is that a single pensioner is entitled to 60% of what the married couple receives. In Australia the single pensioner does not receive quite that percentage. I think he receives about 57% or 58% of the married rate.
We can see that when the honourable member for Grayndler appeals for a single rate for everyone he is really trying to take from the single pensioner, although he does not want to say so. But in effect, this is what he is saying. As I have said, the Government is endeavouring to direct its resources to the area where they will give most relief. We believe that the single pensioner is entitled to a bonus because he has different financial problems from those of the married pensioner. If one looks at these things one sees the meretricious nature of the plea - I would say a plea almost oozing with insincerity - that has been made by the honourable member for Grayndler. He can go outside and laugh in his Party room as much as he likes at the way he has put it over the pensioners and has won a few votes for his Party. But this is not the way in which the Government looks at it. We are looking at this matter in a responsible way. The Government allocates a certain amount - an increasing amount - every year for social services. Last year with new services, and particularly new services for those who are chronically sick, we allocated an additional $72m a year. This is cumulative; it goes forward. What was given last year in the form of new services is continued this year, and every year we add a little to it. Our assistance does not just disappear. We have a coherent forward scheme.
It is not right to try to use pensioners for political purposes or to take advantage of the fact that pensioners are now meeting in Canberra. It is not right to make pensioners a cockshy and to try to exploit their real needs. Pensioners have real needs. I am not, of course, any more than any other member of this Government, entirely satisfied with the position and I hope that we never will be. We are dedicated to progress and we will never be satisfied. We have raised the standards of social services and we will continue to do so. This was done in the last Budget and I have no doubt that the next Budget will show the same kind of story.
– This Government has been putting it over the pensioners ever since it came into office. It continues to adopt an attitude of almost callous disregard for the aged, invalid, widows and other recipients of social service benefits.
Those with the greatest needs and the smallest means are worse off financially than they were following the Budget of 1966, nearly 3 years ago. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) said that at each Budget pensioners have been better off than they were before. That is not correct. The 1968 increases in pensions merely restored to the pensioner the loss in the purchasing power which bad occurred in the intervening 2 years. But since then the cost of living has increased even further. This leaves the pensioner with less purchasing power in 1969 than he had in 1966.
The research department of J. B. Were and Son, stockbrokers, shows the decline in money values since 1949 - the year that Sir Robert Menzies said that he would put value back into the £1. Its summary shows that the purchasing power of the $1 had declined in 1968 to 42.5% of what it was in 1949. A perusal of the consumer price index which measures the increase in the cost of living shows that quarter by quarter the cost of living has continued to rise from the June 1966 figure of 136.5. The latest figure available is that for December 1969 of 146.7 - a rise of over 10 points. The Minister for Social Services has been asked to grant an interim increase in pensions to make up for the increased cost of living, but with the callous disregard that has been shown by this Government he has denied this increase to the pensioners and he has said that they will have to wait until the Budget is brought down. When he was a backbencher the Minister for Social Services spoke strongly about reforms in social service benefits. It is to be regretted that his performance is not in line with the promises which he then made. The sting was removed from him when he became a Minister.
The Government has the happy knack of using average weekly earnings as a measuring rod for showing how real wages have increased. If average weekly earnings are to be used as a guideline to measure the value of wages, surely the same guideline can be used to measure the purchasing power of the pension. In 1949, when a Labour government was in office, the age pension was 26.9% of the average weekly earnings. In 1963 it was 21.1% of the average weekly earnings. That was the last year that all pensioners were on the one pension rate. In 1966 the standard rate pension had dropped to 20.8%, but the married rate had dropped further still to 19.1% of the average weekly earnings. The average weekly earnings as at September 1967 were $63.40, and the standard rate pension had dropped further to 20.5%, and the married rate to 18.5%. At the end of 1968- these are the latest figures available - the average weekly earnings were $70.80, and the standard rate pension had reached an all time low of 19.8% of the average weekly earnings, and the married rate had dropped down to 17.7%. Those figures, which are the latest available, compare very unfavourably with that proportion of the average weekly earnings which was paid to the pensioners by the Chifley Labor Government.
Before he became Minister for Social Services the honourable member for Mackellar took every opportunity in this place to advocate the abolition of the means test. In view of his advocacy of this much needed reform, one would have thought that some move in that direction would have been revealed before this, but this has not been the case. In 1954 a single pensioner received a pension of $7 and the allowable income was $7 - the same as the pension. A married couple received a pension of $14, and the allowable income was $14 - the same as the pension. The pension is now $14 for a single pensioner, and the allowable income is $10. So the value of the allowable income has dropped from 100% in 1954 to 71.4% now. The pension for a married couple now is $25, and the allowable income is $17 between them. That is a drop from 100% to 68% compared with what it was in 1954. The Government made quite a song and dance about it some years ago when it increased the amount of the allowable income to $10 for a single pensioner and to $17 for a married couple. I think this was 3 years ago. It was the first increase in the allowable income since 1954, and in fact it did not represent the same value as regards purchasing power as did the $7 allowable income in 1954. Due to the increased cost of living in the last 3 years its value in terms of purchasing power has been further reduced, as I have just shown by the figures I have quoted. I have asked the Minister for Social Services a question on notice as to what it would cost to increase the amount of the allowable income to the equivalent of today’s pension. The answer to that question will be interesting. It will also be interesting to find out what this Government intends to do to restore to the pensioners something which they had in 1 954.
I believe that there should be a twopronged attack on the abolition of the means test. The allowable income should be increased so as to ease the financial position of those who are in receipt of a pension. The means test should be abolished by age groups so that its total abolition would be accomplished at least during the life of two parliaments. This is the policy of the Australian Labor Party. We believe in the abolition of poverty, and we also believe in justice to the retired. All these people are suffering when the standard of living of the community is supposed to be progressing, as the Minister himself said a while ago. The means test is a most frustrating and annoying factor with which retired people are faced. It makes a mockery of thrift and it denies age pensions to those who s.ave during their working lives. The abolition of the means test is not an impossible objective. It has been abolished in New Zealand, in Canada and in the United Kingdom.
Every honourable member in this place has been guilty of advising those who are reaching retiring age how to reduce their assets in order to qualify for the age pension. On our advice many people purchase tickets to go to the United Kingdom before they apply for a pension. Consequently, money that could be spent in Australia is spent in other countries. Assets are dissipated needlessly so that aged persons can qualify for a pension. This action has been forced upon these people by the means test. It is psychologically bad because it does not encourage thrift. To quite a number of people it is humiliating to have to go before an officer of the Department of Social Services and submit themselves to all sorts of questions about their private affairs. I am not criticising the officers of that Department. They do a good job. I have nothing but praise for them. But it is very embarrassing for those people who have to apply for an age pension. It is assumed that the poor will try to cheat, and consequently the applications are subject to all sorts of embarrassing questions. The abolition of the means test would remove this embarrass ment and would relieve the Government of the tremendous cost of administering and conducting these investigations.
The age pension should not be considered as a hand-out. It is the right of those who have contributed to the welfare of Australia throughout their working lives that they should receive something in return. The pension is no more a hand-out than a grant that may be given to a professor for scientific research. It is no more a hand-out than that which the farmer receives as a subsidy for wheat production or the portion of the S26m subsidy which a dairy farmer receives. Every recipient of social service benefits has been short changed since this Government came into office. Increases in social service benefits have not kept pace with price increases. Benefits are always dragging behind costs. As a result of inflation over the years the taxpayers have passed into higher income tax groups, and although the taxpayer receives less in real wages in his pay packet the Government takes more off him in taxation and gives him less in return. For some years the people have been victims of the thimble and pea trick. They have been giving good money for bad money. They have been contributing to the National Welfare Fund in the form of taxation, and getting shrunken benefits in return. The value of the $1 today, as I have shown, has shrunk to about 40c as compared with its value in 1949.
The people are losing in two ways: Firstly, the value of the social service benefits has been clipped just as though an extra tax had been imposed on the people; and secondly, they have moved into higher income tax brackets without getting any more purchasing power in their pay packets. The Minister quoted figures to show that the National Welfare Fund had been increased in the last Budget by, I think, $72m. You have to look at that as a proportion of the gross national product. As a percentage of expenditure it is no greater proportion of the gross national product than it was in 1949. It was then 3.4% of the gross national product. In 1967 the proportion spent on social services was 3.3%. In 1968-69 it is about 3.3% again. So it is of no use to quote how this has been increased. It must be borne in mind that in 1949 the population of Australia was 7.8 million and it is now about 12 million. This means that the percentage in the age groups has been disturbed, as was indicated in the report of the Director-General of Social Services.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This debate suggests that the Government has failed to provide increased and adequate benefits for aged, invalid and widow pensioners. This suggestion that the Government has so failed to improve the adequacy of social service payments and other benefits is patently false. This is not to say, however, as the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) himself said when speaking in this debate, that there is not much more to be done. There are rising standards and rising aspirations, and this Government over its years of office has recognised these rising standards and rising aspirations and has done what it bas thought fair and proper to assist all sections of the community, and in particular those who are dependent upon our social security programme. A security programme must provide adequate minimum standards for all and to do this it must take account of particular needs. At the same time it must provide encouragement for all to provide for themselves at rates above that minimum. A social security scheme must recognise that there is a rising threshold of standards of living. I was interested to hear the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) in this debate recognise that the provision now made is sufficient to provide for frugal comfort because in the last 18 months a significant change was made in the Government’s attitude towards the provision for those people dependent upon the social security programme. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in several significant statements indicated a change in attitude. He has said that the aim of the Government is a social welfare structure which identifies the most needy and sees that those who have no other mean* are provided with enough to live on in a modest self-respecting way without requiring any other assistance outside the pension. He also said in another speech that he was looking toward:
A society in which we will have abandoned the philosophy that a pension for old age is not one which is intended to keep somebody but merely an addition to what will come from charity or a family. I hope we can abandon that - and indeed, I have abandoned it-so that there should be nobody provided with a pension which will not give them at least a modest standard of living so that they do not need blankets to be provided for them in the winter, so that they at least have enough to eat and a roof over their head.
This is a far cry from an earlier attitude when age pensions were regarded as a supplement to private provision and charitable giving. This recognition of the need to provide an adequate minimum standard of living is something which this Government has put into operation, and I am pleased to have heard that the honourable member for Grayndler recognises that already this goal has been achieved. He can be assured that the Government will go on to improve the modest standards of living which are available to those solely dependent on a pension. The honourable member for Grayndler also did what I believe to be a great disservice to those who are dependent upon the social service payments because, as the Minister for Social Services himself pointed out, he tried to put against one another various groups of people dependent upon the social security programme. Implicit in what he said was the removal and abandonment of all so-called fringe benefits because the fringe benefits are made available on a selective basis, a basis of selection determined according to need.
The honourable member for Grayndler would take all this away and would provide instead flat rate single unitary cash benefits and he would say to every pensioner: ‘You may be well now, but you should provide out of that flat rate benefit reserves to meet the cost of your medical expenses. You should provide sufficient reserves to pay the cost of your television when you want it. You should provide sufficient reserves to meet the cost of going into a nursing home. You should provide sufficient reserves to meet the cost of intensive nursing care.’ The honourable member for Grayndler says that this Government has discriminated in favour of those in need of intensive nursing care and those in need of light nursing care and in so doing has not given sufficient to those not now requiring those benefits. I believe that there are few pensioners who would want to revert to a situation where they ceased to have security of medical care, where they ceased to have security in respect of their hospital expenses, where they ceased to have security in respect of the cost of normal nursing care, and security in respect of the cost of intensive nursing care. But that is what the honourable member for Grayndler was proposing. He said that if you have any difference between one pensioner and another in the provision of benefits you are discriminating against some pensioners in favours of others. 1 do not believe that in providing different benefits in this way according to need there is any discrimination at all because every pensioner - indeed every person - lives constantly in a state of insecurity as to his health. No-one knows whether tomorrow he will be struck by some form of illness that will require expensive medical treatment and long term hospitalisation or nursing care. Yet because we provide benefits for those in need, those who are in hospitals and those who need the services of doctors the honourable member for Grayndler says that we should take those benefits away, that we should give to everyone a cash benefit and leave it to them to provide out of their limited reserves the added cost of those unforeseen medical expenses. As is well known those expenses strike unevenly. Some people are more fortunate than others, but the honourable member for Grayndler says that the Government should abandon this care for those who are unfortunate and are afflicted with long term illness and need medical care. He would do the same thing in relation to many other fringe benefits. In so doing he would put the pensioners and those dependent upon the social security programme in a far worse position than they are today.
The Government in its social security programme has endeavoured to recognise that there are areas of need which call for different policies for different benefits. For anyone of pensionable age three areas of need are the need for a money income to provide for daily wants at an adequate standard of living, the need to provide in some way proper medical and hospital care, and the need to provide adequate accommodation. The Government has approached each of these tasks recognising that there are differences as between different groups within the community. It has endeavoured to alleviate what would otherwise be severe poverty by different programmes, some designed to alleviate and to cure and others designed to prevent. May I, Mr Acting Speaker, illustrate this point by referring to the Government’s attitude with regard to the housing of the aged. Here the Government has made available a supplementary benefit to rent paying pensioners who qualify under a particular test. People who pay rent and have not their own homes are recognised as being in a special position of need and they are provided with a special benefit. The honourable member for Grayndler would add up the total cost of supplementary assistance, apportion it to all the pensioners and pay it by way of increased pension to them aD, depriving those most in need of this important supplement. But the Government, in alleviating and in curing the need there also has recognised the importance of preventing accommodation insecurity due to lack of suitable housing. By such means as the Aged Persons Homes Act it has made remarkable strides, with the help of charitable, benevolent and church organisations, in providing more adequate accommodation for the aged.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) during the course of his speech said that I advocated the abandonment of all so-called fringe benefits. I did not use those words nor did I imply that course. The words and the interpretation are those of the honourable member for Sturt and are completely false.
– Having heard the address of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) I am reminded of the story of the member of parliament who was dreaming that he was making a speech in parliament while asleep. He woke up and found out that he was. The thing that concerns rae about the approach of the honourable member for Sturt, and indeed that of all Government members, is that apparently they are quite satisfied that social service pension payments are adequate for the needs of that section of the community which is dependent on these payments. I leave the decision on this to the people who are dependent on pension payments - the people who are spread throughout Australia including those living in Canberra and others visiting this place. I leave it to them to decide whether they are satisfied that the payments they receive can be justified as adequate.
I cannot see our making much progress with a Government that is blighted with the sort of complex which has been displayed repeatedly today, has been displayed before and will be displayed again in the future, by Government speakers, that pension payments are adequate. As a rider they add that the payments are adequate to provide frugal comfort for the recipients. What do they mean by ‘frugal’? Do they mean they are adequate to keep people at a level of poverty on which they can exist and not much better? This is something that causes me a great deal of concern. It is appalling that in this affluent society of ours there are chilling, grey, inhospitable areas of relative poverty, areas into which the promise of the benefits that this society is capable of providing, are not reaching. This is a very real problem.
Today we are really discussing not an increase of a few cents, half a dollar, or a dollar a week in pension payments, but relative poverty and its relation to the total environment of our society which perpetuates poverty. From what the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) has said in this House today, from what he has said on other occasions - important occasions such as the Institute of Political Science Summer School on Poverty - and from what he has said repeatedly, it is clear that he does not understand that this basic concept of poverty involves a total environment and that it is not just a matter of buying a little bit of breathing time each three years at elections.
Let me mention the appalling situation that affects recipients of unemployment and sickness benefits. The entitlement of a man, a wife and their three children is $18.75 a week or an average of $3.75 a head. When $10 a week rent must be paid, not much is left of the $18.75 unemployment or sickness benefit - certainly not enough to maintain that family on any sort of reasonable standard of living. Most of the people who are dependent on unemployment benefits are probably low income unskilled workers who are employed on work that terminates periodically, such as building labourers. For these people to be out of work for 3 or 4 weeks - and it does happen to them - the situation is critical. How will they pay the rent? How will they pay for their food and the hire purchase commitments which are so essential for people in receipt of low incomes if they are to ha ‘e in their homes even comforts of a minimal sort? How will they meet all these payments? How will they on a minimal living standard meet the cost of educating their children? These are the people about whom we should be concerned. This man and his wife and his three children receive only $18.75 a week when he is out of work. Payments of this sort for male and female adults have not been increased since 1962, and no increase has been made since 1957 for children between the ages of 16 and 18 years.
– lt is a public scandal.
– Indeed it is. Why has not the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) spoken about this subject? Let me quote from a leaflet ‘How 56 Low Income Families Live’ prepared by members of the Family Service Committee, the Chairman of which is a member of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The foreword contains this statement: lt is quite evident that these families-
Meaning low income families - cannot cope with the shortest period of loss of income. This is primarily due to the fact that food, fuel, rent and fares absorb up to 80% of the family income, so a short temporary period of unemployment or an acute illness upsets the balance of family finances. This is further accentuated by the cost of medical care, clothing and footwear.
So it is incomprehensible that these people, some of whom might be here today, could find that not one member of the Government is prepared to support this motion that social service payments are not adequate for the people who are dependent on them. Yet the main speaker for the
Government, the Minister for Social Services, argues that these payments are adequate.
Let us consider the age pension rate. It is only 28% of the average all-industry Australian wage rate for a single man and only 25% of the average all-industry Australian wage rate for the married man. This is a most unsatisfactory situation. Less than half of the average wage rate is being given to these people if single and only a quarter of that rate for each married person. It is a basic principle that when public money is to be spent, it should be allocated in the areas of greatest need. I believe that this is a basic principle that should be acknowledged by anyone with a social conscience, and it certainly must be accepted by democratic socialists such as members of the Australian Labor Party.
The Government has this responsibility of spending public money in the areas of greatest need for social services. If I had $50m to spend. I would give first priority to people who are totally dependent upon pension payments. I would give next priority to people already in receipt of pension payments. Although there is inequity in the present means test, to ensure an improvement in the living conditions of people who are totally dependent upon pension payments, they should receive priority over the elimination of the means test. So that my attitude on the elimination of the means test will not be misunderstood, I suggest that the Government ought to adopt a national superannuation scheme funded on a contributory basis, much as Professor Downer recommended in the December issue of the ‘Economic Record’.
To continue the point I was making about directing money to areas of greatest need, the concept of child endowment ‘gives us an excellent opportunity to provide money for an area of great need. It has been established by poverty surveys that large families in receipt of low incomes constitute a large proportion of the relative poverty core in our community. I suggest that child endowment payments be increased substantially and that they then become part of one’s taxable income. The benefit of this scheme would be that those who are in the lowest income groups and in greatest need of these payments would receive the greatest benefit. Those in the highest income group would receive the least benefit. After all, they need the benefit least. I do not need child endowment as I am in receipt of the satisfactory salary of a Federal politician. I do not need this benefit as much as some of my friends in my electorate who work for the city council or for the Department of Railways doing unskilled labouring. Many of them have bigger families than I have.
These are the sort of things that the Opposition is talking about - the poverty that exists in our community and the need for the Government to realise both that it exists and that it should take some positive action instead of allowing itself to be preoccupied with a rigid superseded system of social service payments that does not reach into vast areas of poverty. The present system of social services represents band-aid assistance for the broad problem of social need in the Australian community. We must accept that this is a problem affected by a total environment. Let me quote a statement made by Professor R. H. Tawney, which is quoted in Titmuss’s essays on ‘The Welfare State’:
The problem of poverty is not a problem of individual character and its waywardness, but a problem of economic and industrial organisation, lt had to be studied first at its sources, and only secondly in its manifestations.
Until the Government accepts this basic premise I am afraid that we shall continue to have in our community this unhappy, chilling area of relative poverty which is depriving so many people unnecessarily of a better standard of living in our affluent society.
Mr KATTER (Kennedy) 4. 1 9] - I believe that one of the greatest, most serious and most demanding responsibilities of any government, particularly in a country such as this, is to provide not adequate social welfare but, if at all possible, something that is more than merely adequate. Those pensioners who have not been aroused by political emotionalism will have to appreciate that there is not one member on either side of this House who would not most earnestly want to see the payment of a pension that is, not merely adequate but something more than adequate. So, having regard to the discussions on matters of public importance that we have had week after week, it rather appalls me now to see the Opposition, with a display of complete political humbug, raising this matter on this very day. Is the Opposition completely sincere in its attitude? I am greatly distressed to find one of such charm, character and good humour as the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) leading for the Opposition in today’s operation.
I say quite bluntly that in the time allotted to me to speak in this debate I propose to deal with a group of pensioners in my own electorate who in my opinion have special problems.
– You cannot defend the Government.
– As for defending the Government, perhaps the most shameful chapter In the history of the Australian Labor Party was the episode during the depression of 1931 - a time when people were reduced to a point of almost bare existence - when a Labor government reduced the pension from £1 to 17s 6d a week. Whom did the Labor Government attack on that occasion? lt attacked those least able to stand the stresses of the time. So let us not talk about who is culpable in this matter.
However, this does not affect the position of pensioners today. Despite what I have said I will agree that there is a great demand for an increase in pensions. If there is a demand in most parts of Australia for an increase in pensions there is a particular demand in the rural areas. I am obliged to come forward as the spokesman for inland Queensland; because there are very few representatives from that State now sitting on the Opposition benches. Let me give just a few examples of the difficulties which beset pensioners who live in the inland parts of this nation. I refer firstly to the matter of health. If a pensioner living in a city or a provincial town needs to consult a doctor specialising in a particular field of medicine, that person gets into a taxi, if he can afford to do so, and goes to consult the specialist. People living in outback areas of this country have a twofold problem when they need to consult a specialist. Admittedly train lares do not have to be paid by the pensioner but he must meet the costs of accommodation, meals and transport between the specialist’s consulting rooms and the pensioner’s accommodation in the city or provincial town. We must not forget that an elderly person who has to enter a strange environment to consult a strange doctor under strange circumstances faces emotional problems. So here is one matter that merits special consideration being given to pensioners who live in outback areas.
I had a lot to do with pensioners long before I became a member of this Parliament. I was involved in certain activities that brought me to close grips with the particular problems of the elderly. One has to move amongst pensioners - I include widows and invalid pensioners in this category - to realise the distress and loneliness of these people and the difficulties which they face. If anything appalls and upsets me it is the loneliness of old people. Those people who form senior citizens clubs are doing a magnificent job. This is a matter to which the Government could give particular attention with a view to encouraging the forming of senior citizens clubs and similar organisations, not only in the provincial or metropolitan areas but in the smaller towns where people may be prepared to set up these facilities. I know that in Brisbane a service club has a magnificent organisation operating for old people, who are provided with everything you can imagine - hair care, manicures and all the little things that go to make life more agreeable for these people.
I should like here to pay a tribute to the Queensland Ambulance Brigade. The Brigade carries out a job that is very demanding physically as well as financially. Its record in transporting pensioners, particularly invalid and age pensioners, to and from hospital, without any reimbursement, is a good one. I particularly have in mind the work done by the Brigade in Charters Towers, where many elderly people are accommodated in the Eventide Home. In view of the financial difficulties under which the Brigade operates throughout Queensland some consideration should be given to providing it with financial assistance.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) said that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) had claimed that the pension was adequate. I listened carefully to the Minister and I noted that he said: ‘We are not content now with the pension which is provided for our aged people’. Obviously none of us can be content with the pension. I think pensioners must be the greatest managers of all times to be able to live on the pension. But I do not support the contention that the Government has failed in its efforts to deal with the problem of pensions. Certainly the pension is inadequate; certainly it should be increased, and increased very considerably. How pensioners are able to exist I do not know. They must be the best managers in the world. But I do not concede that the Government has failed in its approach to the problem of pensioners. I remind the House that the Labor Party, which charges the Government with failure in the matter of pensions, has the sorry record of having, during the depression years, attacked the most vulnerable section of the community and reduced pensions from £1 to 17s 6d. I think that is a most appalling chapter in the history of the once great Australian Labor Party.
I urge all honourable members to give sincere consideration between now and Budget time to the problem of pensions with a view to producing something constructive. I am sure this can be done. It is hypocritical for Opposition supporters to allege that this Government and its supporters are not interested in the welfare of pensioners. Time and time again honourable members on both sides of the Parliament have read letters and cited cases dealing with the problems of pensioners. None of us needs to be reminded of these problems if we are doing our jobs properly and moving amongst pensioners within our electorates. I am proud to say that in one of the Labor Party strongholds in my electorate I was a few months ago made an honorary life member of the local pensioners’ league.
There arc two groups of pensioners with which we must contend. There are those who will sit down and help a member of Parliament to prepare a solid case for pensioners, providing all the relevant information, such as the fact that they cannot afford good cuts of meat, or that they are helping perhaps an invalid daughter, or they are helping to maintain a married daughter whose husband has left her. They may be doing this because they are too proud to make public their domestic difficulties. These people can provide constructive help to a member of Parliament seeking to submit to the Government a case for an increase in pensions. On the other hand there are people who use pensioners purely for political purposes. Such people do a great deal of harm to the genuine cases presented on behalf of pensioners. Because of the activities of these political opportunists, when a case comes before the Minister he cannot help wondering whether it is tainted with political intrigue or whether it is a vehicle for political staging. Recently when some Aboriginals were in the public gallery a question was asked about Aboriginals and a debate was initiated. If this type of activity is not a political charade what is it? It is taking advantage of people. I have heard it said by honourable members on this side of the House that people are more important than policies. Apparently to them people are more important in being used for purely political purposes. What a disgraceful exploitation of human dignity. Finally, I would say that I thoroughly agree that the pension is completely inadequate, but the Government is doing all in its power to discharge its responsibilities. We most certainly hope that when the next Budget comes along a pension which is adequate, if not a little more than adequate, will be paid to those people who need it so desperately.
– I am glad to have the opportunity of refuting some of the statements that were made by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). He suggested that the Opposition introduced this matter today for political purposes; but the purpose for which this matter was brought forward was to assist the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in bringing pressure to bear upon his Government. Everyone knows that at this time consideration is being given to the Budget and that it is no use bringing matters like this before the Parliament in August when the Budget has already been determined, when discussions among the Ministers have been finalised and when the situation is cut and dried. The honourable member for Kennedy introduced a number of matters into this discussion, including his suggestion that the Labor Party introduced this topic for political purposes. He said that it was a Labor government which, in the depression, reduced the pension from £1. or $2, to 17s 6d, or $1.75. We all know that a reduction was made in the pension at that time, but it is fair to put the record straight and say that that reduction in the pension was part of a general reduction in the salaries of public servants, in the salaries of members of the Parliament and, indeed, a reduction in spending right across the Australian community. None of us agrees with what happened in those days. We all live in happier days now. Following the teaching of the late Lord Keynes we believe in a country inflating its way out of depressions and recessions. It is only fair to say that that reduction of the pension in 1930 was not done in isolation. When the United Australia Party Government came into power at the end of the depression it took a long time to bring the pension back to the level at which it existed previously. I do not think that anyone should be allowed to lay such serious charges against the Australian Labor Party without those charges being repudiated.
The honourable member for Kennedy dealt with the disabilities of people living in his electorate. We all recognise that in places like Mount Isa, where employees receive the benefit of a lead bonus and where wages are high because workers must be given an incentive to live there, great pressures are placed on old people and pensioners. Indeed one need only go to a grocery store to appreciate the high cost of the ordinary necessities of life, or purchase a newspaper or loaf of bread to realise the extremely high cost structure which applies in Mount Isa. There is definitely a need for a pension loading in such high cost places. There is need for an arrangement similar to the taxation zone allowance system. I put this proposition to the Minister some time ago in a letter but he replied that he was not in favour of differential pensions. I can appreciate this but I find it hard to understand a great number of the differences between the various pensions that are paid in Australia today.
I am concerned also with the position of deserted wives in Queensland. Under an arrangement, which was supported by both sides in this Parliament, deserted wives are assisted substantially by the Commonwealth Government. The State Government is assisted in its payment to deserted wives up to the amount of the widow’s pension during the first 6 months that a woman has been deserted and until she qualifies or otherwise for a Commonwealth pension. I refer to the callous way in which the scheme is being administered in Queensland under the present Country Party-Liberal Party coalition Government. What happens in Queensland - and 1 should like the Minister to do something about this - is that if a woman is deserted by her husband’ and is left with a few children to maintain she goes to the Department of Children’s Services and asks for assistance under the grants tq deserted wives legislation. I know that the Commonwealth is willing to pay $1 for $1 on the amount of assistance that the State Government gives her. But she is told that she must go away and take maintenance action against her husband before she can be assisted at the rate applying under the aid to deserted wives legislation. Prior to the enactment of this legislation the rate paid to a deserted wife in Queensland was $2.35 for herself and $2.50 for each of her children. That rate is still applied. These women are told to take maintenance action- which can take a month to 6 weeks-r-and that until such action is successful the higher rate will not be paid. There are many ways in which the Government, with . which the honourable member for Kennedy is associated, has shown extreme callousness in its treatment of pensioners.
– Order! The discussion is now concluded.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: Erection of Commonwealth Hostel at Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves the construction of two three-storey accommodation units and a single-storey building containing administration offices, dining and kitchen facilities.
The new buildings will replace the existing Stott and Todd Houses. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $1.7m.
In reporting favourably on the proposal the Committee recommended that the Northern Territory Administration consult with the Young Women’s Christian Association with a view to making further land available to that organisation if necessary. The Northern Territory Administration has agreed to negotiate with the YWCA to ensure the satisfactory future development of both hostels. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
– Anything that the Government does at Alice Springs to improve the environment of the people working there isto be appreciated but I wonder whether the Government is going to spend on the indigenous inhabitants of the Nothern Territory as much money as it proposes to spend under this provision. It is time we applied some of the enthusiasm we arc now applying to the housing of ordinary Australians- or the later indigenous Australians - to the original indigenous Australians. I take this opportunity of saying this because we have very little opportunity in this place to discuss anything on behalf of the Aboriginals. I note that the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) is getting edgy, so I will sit down.
– The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who has just resumed his seat, seems unaware of the tremendous amount of effort and expense that is being put into helping the Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. However, I did not rise to speak on that subject but to commend the motion and the Public Works Committee which has treated this matter with such expedition. I welcome the proposal to construct three buildings that will form a part of the new hostel in Alice Springs and which will cost $1.7m. The residents will be pleased to know that the old Stott House building, which was built during the 1939 war and so is about 30 years old, is to be replaced. The motion demonstrates the recognition by the Government of the growing importance of the Northern Territory and Alice Springs and it is a practical step towards improving the living conditions of employees and other eligible people. I point out to the honourable member for Wills that there is no colour bar and if a person is a government employee he can live in the hostel. The hostel should assist the accommodation situation in an area which has a rapidly expanding population.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from I May (vide page 1573), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill makes certain fairly complicated alterations to the Superannuation Act as it applies to Commonwealth public servants. I understand that there are nearly a quarter of a million public servants now and that something like 150,000 of them are contributors to the fund known as the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. The handbook provided by the Fund describes it as a benefit purchase fund and explains that contributors who enter it at various ages and who in the course of their careers reach various salaries at different ages arc entitled to take up a certain number of units in the Fund. The units to which they are entitled have some relationship to the salary which they are drawing from time to time. A unit on final payment has a value of$91 per annum or $1.75 per week. Of that $91 per annum or $1.75 per week the contributor pays in the equivalent of twosevenths - that is, $26 per annum or 50c per week - and the Government contributes the remaining five-sevenths, which amounts to $65 per annum of $1.25 per week.
This measure does not affect everybody in the fund, although I suppose that a public servant is like a soldier in that he believes every private has a marshal’s baton in his knapsack and that some day he may reach the exalted level of a head of a department or something of that kind. While he may not be in the range today, he hopes that he will be tomorrow. The provision of the measure that is before us, as I understand it, will affect the future rights of people whose salaries will exceed the sum of $6,630 per annum. How many there are in this category I do not know. Apparently the superannuation scheme is so designed so that an officer on that salary or less will be entitled on retirement to a pension, if he takes the full number of units to which he is entitled, equivalent to 70% of the salary he was receiving at the time of his retirement. Officers on a salary over $6,630 per annum will receive a pension on a tapering basis, and the maximum pension would be 50% of the final salary. It is now proposed to taper it somewhat differently so that officers receiving more than $6,630 per annum, instead of receiving only 50%, in the future may be able to draw pensions equivalent fo 60% of retiring salary.
It has been found that, because officers reach this elevated level of salary in later years of their life, to take up the additional number of units to which they may be entitled often involves them in expenditure for the units that is greater than the increase in salary. This in the past has deterred many officers with family obligations or other financial commitments from taking the full units to which they are entitled. Therefore, there has been some agitation by the Public Service organisations that there should be introduced into this Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, as there was introduced into the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund in 1965, something that is described as a non-contributory unit. The logic for this proposal is that, whilst it may be a real deterrent to the member to have to find his two-sevenths of the unit, if he does not take it up, for every $2 that the contributor cannot afford the Commonwealth, a much more affluent body, saves $5. Therefore, it has been suggested - and this Bill adopts the suggestion - that the non-contributing unit, instead of being a final unit of $91, should be a unit of $65, comprising the Government’s share of the unit only. The contributor would not have to make any contribution for those units.
Certain reservations are placed on the ability of officers to take advantage of this concession. They are briefly set out in the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated to honourable members today. They will see that three tests are described on page 2 of the memorandum. It sets out an example illustrating the application of a unit entitlement test, a percentage of salary test and initial units test. Provided that the contributor meets all those tests he is entitled to take up a varying number of non-contributory units according to the level of his salary. There is’ even provision whereby officers who .have already taken out additional contributory units may, again if they meet the tests, convert those units to non-contributory units. That broadly outlines the provisions of the Bill. As far as it goes, it is acceptable to the employee organisations concerned, but nevertheless they have raised objections. Those objections are very well expressed in a letter that has been circulated. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the following letter dated 12th May 1969 from Mr D. L. Linehan of the High Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations in Melbourne:
SUPERANNUATION BILL (No. 2) 1969
The High Council, which is a national employee council representing 24 unions with 77,000 members employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, has examined the Bill which was presented in the House of Representatives on May 1, 1969.
The Council directs your attention to certain provisions of the Bill which in its .view are unfair, unjust and unreasonable.
At the outset it is of importance to note that the Superannuation Act 1922-1968 is in principle a unitary scheme. Each unit entitles the contributor on retirement, due to maximum age or invalidity, to a pension of $91 per annum, of which the contributor contributes $26 (2/7ths) and the Commonwealth $65 (5/7ths) Expressed in weekly amounts the pension is $1.75 per unit made up of $0.50 contributor and $1.25 Commonwealth.
The Superannuation Act also provides for optional retirement at age 60 years or age 65 years. Irrespective of the retiring age, a contributor, on retirement, presently receives the same amount of pension for each .unit, viz. $1.75 per week. In other words, the Fund contributes $0.50 and the Commonwealth $1.25. The above is a correct statement except in the circumstances where a contributor electing to retire at age 65 years subsequently retires at age 60 years or before age 65 years and accepts an’ actuarially reduced pension.
The provisions of the Bill which my Council find unjust, unfair and unreasonable are -
all non-contributory units will be age 65 units,
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.
Al) Non-Contributory Units will be Age 65 Units
This provision forces an age 60 contributor who meets the hardship test to continue to take a contributory unit. If he desires to retire at age 60 years he would, by accepting a non-contributory unit, automatically extend his retirement date for all future contributory and non-contributory units to age 65 years.
In such circumstances, the majority of contributors for pension at age 60 years would be forced to endure hardship rather than be disadvantaged concerning their date of retirement. Approximately one-third of all contributors to the Superannuation Fund have elected to retire at age 60 years.
If the hardship, caused by high contributory rates, eventually forces them to take a noncontributory unit dien such a unit is heavily reduced in pension value below the $1.25 per week. 1 understand that, in certain circumstances, the value could be as low as 5 cents per week.
I recommend to all members/ senators that they study the examples of the effect of the legislation which 1 understand the Treasurer is to supply.
In particular, I would suggest that a comparison should be made of the pension which a contributor taking a non-contributory unit at age 59 years and retiring at age 60 years would receive as compared with a contributor taking a non-contributory unit at age 64 years and retiring at age 65 years.
An Election by an Age 60 Contributor to take up a Non-Contributory Unit will be to make htm Thereafter an Age 65 Contributor for all Future Contributory Units,
Section 25 of the Principal Act enables a contributor who elects to retire at age 60 years to take, at any time, future units based on a retiring age of 65 years. lt is my Council’s view that non-contributory units should be distinguished from contributory units and that contributors at age 60 years should continue to have an option in regard to future contributory units.
Unless such an attitude were to prevail, the Fund would eventually become in fact one based on a retiring age of 65 years because of the cumulative effect of the adverse non-contributory unit provisions as they concern persons who desire to contribute for a retiring age based on 60 years.
Having regard to what the Treasurer stated on page 4 of his second reading speech - “ 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 non-contributory units on an age 60 basis would give rise to anomalous and unfair situations.” . . . , my Council recognizes that to grant an age 60 contributor a pension value of $65 per annum for each non-contributory unit would create an anomalous situation in relation to certain provisions in the Principal Act concerning contributory units. However, we see no reason why a noncontributory pension should not have a fixed value at a retirement age of 60 years. The Bill permits the value to range from as low as 5 cents per week. Legislation which it is stated is designed to alleviate hardship and which is allegedly designed to avoid a situation where the Commonwealth makes a saving at the expense of the contributor can hardly claim to do much in that regard when the additional Commonwealth contribution is so low.
A suggested appropriate minimum contribution for age 60 contributors is 89 cents per unit or $46 per unit per annum. The figures are arrived at by fixing the pension for a non-contributory unit at age 60 at 5/7ths of a non-contributory unit at age 65 years.
I might add that my Council does not accept that a non-contributory unit for an age 60 years contributor should have a lower pensionable value than a non-contributory unit for an age 65 years contributor. Because of the other provisions in the Bill which are generally beneficial to contributors as a whole, we would not want to firmly press that point at this stage.
We would, however, want to raise at a later date the matter of whether the Fund should pay an age 60 years contributor a $1.25 pension for a non-contributory unit. Acceptance of such a principle would require further amendment to the Principal Act.
My Council therefore suggests that the Bill would more adequately give effect to the intention of the legislation if:
In your consideration of the legislation I would be obliged if you would give support to the views expressed herein.
I particularly direct the attention of honourable members to the two objections the Council makes to the provisions of the Bill. It is not my intention to move an amendment to the Bill at this stage because, as this is a money Bill, such a move would involve many difficulties. But the Opposition asks the Government to have a look at the question of the age 60 non-contributory unit as against the age 65 non-contributory unit. I point out that a precedent has already been established in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. 1 draw the attention of the House to page 1879 of Hansard of 2 1st May 1965. When the amending legislation was introduced in the House by the present Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), who, I take it, was at that stage the Minister Assisting the Treasurer, he said:
The amount of the non-contributory element of pension provided by the Commonwealth will represent, on the average, 77.5% of the increase in pension that would be available if contributions were paid by the member, the actual percentages ranging from 80% at the earlier retiring ages to 71.4% for those retiring at 60 years of age.
Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service have always had the option of retiring at the age of 60 rather than at the age of 65. In fact, I am told that there are arguments among contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund as to whether the scheme is really an age 60 scheme with an option of retiring at the age of 65 or an age 65 scheme with the option of retiring at the age of 60. I do nol want to tread the tightrope of fine definition here.. Nevertheless, something like 1 in 3 of the officers of the Public Service have availed themselves of the right to retire at the age of 60 rather than at the age of 65. Those persons are now in a prejudiced position as against a person retiring at the age of 65 by reason of these new noncontributory units. In the view of some people the tendency will be to make the fund a 65 fund rather than an optional 60 fund. Again, I do not want to go into the effects of technological changes on society at the moment, but I do not think that it will be very long before the community as a whole is thinking in terms of earlier retirement. It would seem to me to be a deleterious step by the Commonwealth to reverse the tendency in the direction of a 65 retirement rather than a 60 retirement. I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), who is at the table and who is assisting the Treasurer to have a careful look at this aspect.
The suggestion is that a minimum value should be placed upon the non-contributory unit for the age 60 retiree, as is the case in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. In the course of the letter that has been incorporated in Hansard the High Council has suggested that the minimum value should be 89c, which represents fivesevenths of $1.25. 1 am not too sure whether there is any degree of logic about the fixing of a figure of five-sevenths. Nevertheless, some members of the High Council have worked out that in some instances the value of the unit at the age of 59 would be as low as 5c or 6c in the $1 as against the entitlement of those people retiring at the age of 64. This seems to be an anomalous position when one considers that up to date people have had the option of basing their superannuation units on a retirement at the age of 60. 1 ask the Minister assisting the Treasurer to give consideration to that aspect. A further amendment may be necessary to this legislation at a later stage. We are not pressing this point now because people who are on the verge of retirement at the age of 65 want this legislation to go through as quickly as possible.
Another matter upon which 1 have been asked . to seek information is the position of those who may have retired within the last few months or who will retire before this legislation is given effect. Is there to be a back dating of the provisions of this legislation? 1 have found that the Bill is a little complicated to read, This aspect may be covered in the verbiage, although I did not notice it. It does not seem to me to be any more than a prospective operation. Some people who have just retired have not had the opportunity of taking up noncontributory units, but those who remain in the Public Service will have’ the opportunity of doing so. This will, mean that those remaining in the Service will get correspondingly higher benefits on retirement than those who have already gone out even though they retired at comparable levels and comparable salaries and within a period of 1 year or even a few months. Again, I suggest that some bridging period may be necessary.
I would like to take this opportunity to say something about the important social implications that a superannuation fund has on the people who benefit from it. 1 wish to contrast the provisions of the Commonwealth Fund with the so-called private funds and to consider to some extent those people who are not covered by any fund at all. We have just heard quite an interesting debate in this House on the adequacy or otherwise of social service payments - payments which for the most part are the only source of income of the recipient. It is true that there are some- property provisions and some permissible income provisions, but the majority of the recipients of age pensions receive nothing but the age pension. Over recent years there has been a tendency for superannuation to become, an acceptable form of saving in the community. But one of the difficulties of belonging to a superannuation fund is that there is no certainty of transferring one’s, accumulated superannuation to another job. There is also the fact that even though one may be able to transfer one’s superannuation it may have a lesser anticipated .value in the new fund.
Some funds do not provide severance provisions at all. With many of the schemes the management is in the hands of the employer even though the employee is a contributor. That is certainly not true with the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, which has trustees representing the employee contributors. Of course, there is an Act of Parliament governing the operations of that scheme and the rights and entitlements of the contributors should be well known because of the circulation of the booklet I hold in my hand, entitled ‘Commonwealth Superannuation’. Everybody who is a member of the Commonwealth Fund should know his rights and entitlements. But this does not apply to many of the private funds.
In some respects, being a member of a fund, whether it is a private enterprise fund or a government fund, limits what might be called the mobility of labour. It is an impediment to a person leaving one sort of employment to seek other employment, if when he leaves his first employment he has accumulated certain rights in a superannuation fund. This may apply in the flow from government to private enterprise or from private enterprise to private enterprise or from private enterprise to government or from one level of government employment to another - whether it be from Commonwealth to State or local or vice versa - or from a statutory authority to government. All these matters are significant in a community which is going through a certain degree of technological change. There ought not to be rigidities in the structuring which impede the free flow of labour from one activity to another. The ability to transfer superannuation rights from one employment to another is generally described as ‘portability*, so that when a person is a member of a fund and he moves to another employment, under this principle he takes with him a right which his new employer will recognise.
Recently this matter was the subject of an examination in Victoria. The Victorian Government brought to Australia a Mr Coward, an expert from Canada. Candidly, I do not know why there was need to bring out an expert from another part of the world. Maybe it was thought that he would come with unprejudiced eyes and would see the matter clearly. Nevertheless,
Mr Coward came out to Australia and he produced the embryo of a report for the Victorian Government. But then considerable discussion arose because, if the claims that had been suggested by Mr Coward had been implemented, difficulties may have occurred in some respects when some people were transferring from one State to another, which is a common practice in Australia. The two great States of Queensland and Western Australia, in particular, still continue to receive imports of citizens from Victoria and New South Wales on a fairly permanent basis. Some of the people who transfer are already members of what are called ‘private funds’ which tend to be national funds rather than State funds. There could be some difficulty in the case of a firm in Victoria like the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, which has employees, I suppose, in every State of Australia, if there were a certain law in Victoria, which affected contributors to a fund, which was different from the law which affected contributors to funds in the other six States. I think that Mr Coward’s investigations revealed that, there was a lot to be desired so far as the control of many of these private funds was concerned.
When I was seeking information about these funds I must say that I was astonished to find that it is virtually impossible to ascertain the number of funds and contributors. One can get aggregate figures for them. But according to the latest information which is available to me and which is contained in a publication of the Commonwealth Statistician entitled ‘Insurance and Other Private Finance’, at 30th June 1967 private pension and retiring allowance schemes had accumulated assets of $870m. But no statistics exist as to the number of contributors to these funds. The level of the funds is increasing at a yearly rate of over $80m. The funds are significant in aggregate and they are significant so far as investable funds are concerned because the subscriptions to these funds form part of the capital accumulation in Australia. Mr Parsons, who is associated with the magazine ‘Super Funds’ which is circulated to fund members by the organisation of superannuation funds in Australia, estimates that there are some 30,000 separate funds. It is as vague as that. Mr Parsons estimates that probably they have over 1 million contributors to them.
To an extent those figures are supported by the separate survey which was recently published in Victoria by the Commonwealth Statistician. I presume that the study was published in association with Mr Coward’s investigation. The survey was issued on Monday, 21st April 1969, and it referred to superannuation in Victoria. 1 think there are some interesting facts in it, if one bears in mind that Victoria has slightly less than 30% - certainly more than one-quarter - of Australia’s population. The survey shows that of nearly 700,000 male employees in Victoria, 4 out of 9 had superannuation rights, that is, they were contributing to a fund and they could receive a lump sum payment or a weekly payment on retirement, and 5 out of 9 did not have any such right. Of those employed, 2 out of 3 were what was described as ‘manual workers’. Honourable members will find a description of ‘manual worker’ in the Commonwealth Statistician’s publication. One out of three was a non-manual worker and three out of four were engaged in private employment. The other quarter were in government employment. Of those manually employed, 1 out of 3 had superannuation rights and 2 out of 3 had no such rights. But in non-manual employment the position was reversed. Two out of three had superannuation rights and one out of three had no such rights. Of every 11 people in private employment, 4 had superannuation rights and 7 had no such rights. But of every 10 people in government employment, 7 had superannuation rights and 3 had no such rights. Thus a manual worker is much less likely to have a superannuation benefit than a non-manual worker, and a government employee is much more likely to have a superannuation benefit than a non-government employee.
That seems to draw a fairly broad distinction in the community. In many respects superannuation schemes - at least as they operate in the private field - tend to be for what might be called the ‘middle-class’ employees as distinct from manual employees. I think that in government activity the tendency is for 3 out of 4 people to subscribe to a superannuation fund. I have indicated that with government superannuation there is a Commonwealth Act or a State Act which at least regulates the rights of contributors to superannuation funds. But this is how Mr Coward rather graphically describes the situation as he found it in private funds:
If you are willing to stay to age 65 in one company and if the company is still in business-
And that is a proviso with some limitations when one considers that companies disappear in mergers and take-overs -
That seems to me to be a rather unsatisfactory situation for private funds which affect about one quarter of the current work force or over 1 million people. What the remedy is for this situation, 1 do not know.
I would suggest that with the welter of discussions that are taking place at the moment in regard to such matters as the abolition of the means test, an awful lot of unscrambling needs to be done as far as both the government and private superannuation funds are concerned. Both the government funds and the private funds, by reason of the Australian taxation laws, are heavily underwritten by the Government in the first place. In the Commonwealth fund, which I have referred to, $5 out of every $7 that goes as a final benefit to the recipient comes out of Commonwealth revenue. The remaining $2 out of the $7 can be claimed as a concessional taxation deduction by those who contribute and in consequence income tax is the loser. With the private funds, a company which contributes to the fund in fact saves 42.5c out of every $1 that it contributes. The employees’ contribution is likewise a deduction for taxation purposes. We can see thai there is an awful lot of interlacing of government subsidy in the scheme.
I think this matter will have to be taken into account when we consider abolishing the means test. In my view the abolition of the means test, as a sort of final sum, can be done only if it is tied in with something that we could call a national superannuation fund. If a national superannuation fund is to be established, to my mind a great deal of inquiry is needed to determine whether we will continue with private schemes on a contracting out basis from the public fund and only provide the public fund for that part of the public which is not already covered. If we take into account female employees as well as male employees - and we believe that the female has equal rights in this sort of arrangement - it seems that about two-thirds of the community is not covered. But even the one-third of the community that is fortunately covered is greatly underwritten by the Commonwealth Government by reason of the existing tax laws. lt is easy enough to say that those who have contributed are more prudent than those who have not. In many respects people who have contributed are more fortunate than those who have not because they perhaps have been in private employment that has a fund, in a level of employment that is looked after or in government employment where contributing to the fund is the rule rather than the exception. I believe that these are matters of great moment. Equally, if we have a contributory scheme for the two-thirds of the community who are not beneficiaries in any fund al the moment, this would be equivalent to a new tax for them. Therefore, the matter is meshed up in the total tax structure not only as it applies in Australia at the Commonwealth level but also as it applies to indirect taxes which, for the most part, are levied by State and local authorities. I believe it would be a gross iniquity to add on to an already unjust tax system a new factor which is a tax in disguise but which is called a contribution.
To my mind the same sort of argument applies to the so-called voluntary contributions to medical benefit funds, lt is not so much voluntary as a kind of conscription. A family man is foolish if he is not a member of a fund. In this sense the scheme is compulsory rather than voluntary. The sad thing is that about one-fifth of the Australian community is not covered for medical and hospital benefits. It is most likely that the one-fifth who are not covered are those who cannot afford to contribute in terms of total weekly commitments. This is another structure that needs to be looked at. At least when a Bill of the kind that we are considering comes before us we are able to look at these questions. It seems to me that at the moment we have two groups in the community. Firstly, we have an increasingly necessitous group which has suffered, in my view, because of the effect of inflation on past savings. We also have a necessitous group which is almost entirely dependent upon social services. I refer here to people over 60 and 63 years of age who are dependent upon the weekly amount of the age pension and who have nothing else beside the age pension for themselves. As 1 have said, I would not like to have to live on the $25 a week that is received by a married couple.
I was interested to see some figures that were supplied by an organisation in Western Australia. They show that the value of what might be called fringe benefits that attached to the old age pension is as high as $7 a week. This amount takes into account free medical attention, free dental attention, optical attention, hospital attention, pharmaceutical benefits, a commuting of rates, concessions on public transport, certain rights to entertainment, reduction of telephone rentals, a reduction of radio and television licence fees and so on. According to that compilation the weekly fringe benefit amounts to $5 or $7 per week. But even if the pension is built up to the equivalent of $32 per week it is still inadequate, especially for a person who does not own his home and has to pay rent.
At the other end of the community stream we have people who believe that somehow it is unjust that they do not receive a pension .and that the means test eliminates them. Some of them, as I have indicated, are already covered by superannuation benefits, either government or private, which have to a degree been subsidised by reason of past tax laws. These people have contributed at various levels. One of the problems, it seems to me that must face people who are members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, is that there are two grades of people in the Fund. Firstly, there is the group that is being looked after by the legislation which is before us today. But there are others who have been just as faithful in the course of their duties but who, for one reason or another, have never risen above the level of $6,630. I would think that they would be by far the majority of people employed in the Public Service. At the moment, a person receiving $6,000 who contributed for his full entitlement would receive a pension of 70% of his salary, which is about $4,000 per annum. But there are many people lower down the ranks who perhaps do not even reach the level of $3,500 in the course of their employment. When measured alongside the age pension plus the fringe benefits, the pension these people receive is very little better than the age pension. They are the kind of people who have a sense of grievance about the operation of the means test. It is not a simple matter to solve these problems. Anybody who believes that complicated problems have simple solutions is just flying in the face of the reality of circumstances. Nevertheless it seems that, rightly or wrongly, a growing number of people seem to see this as a question of social equity.
I submit that there are two problems of social equity here. One is the fact that the means test deprives a person of having any social service benefits. At the other end there is the question of the people who are entirely dependent upon the pension; people who have no other income. How to adjudicate between these two is one of the continuing problems for government. I hope that some consideration will be given to this instead of always making it a political issue both ways - a political issue as to whether the basic rate of the pension is to be increased, and a political issue as to whether or not the effects of the means test are to be mitigated. Which ever is done, whether the pension is increased or whether the effects of the means test are mitigated, it means that there has to be increasing provision at the level of Commonwealth Government revenues to provide for it. The Government will have to decide whether it can be done by a national superannuation fund. As I say, meshed in with that is the problem of those people who are already contributors to private or Government funds.
Finally there is the group of people in the community who are retired and who will never become contributors to the new fund. What sort of bridge is to be provided for those people in the 4 or 5 years that it takes to get a fund going7 All these matters will have to be contemplated when this social problem is approached. Although it may be said that here is one section of the community being looked after by a Government that has the affluence to be able to look after it. The Government has an equal responsibility not only to those who happen to be contributors to its own fund but also, in equity, to all sections of the community, because it is the central government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– I was most interested to hear the latter portion of the speech made by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). I too propose to spend some time in this debate dealing with the general principles related to superannuation funds. One should of course make brief mention of the particular purpose of the Bill which is now before the House; that is, to provide that non-contributory units within specified limits be available to members of the Commonwealth Government Public Service Superannuation Fund. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports pointed out a detailed explanation of the benefits that this Bill provides involves a complex analysis of the legislation. It is significant in that it does recognise that under certain conditions the contributions or would-be contributions of an employer should be made available to a contributor and, later, to a beneficiary under the Superannuation Fund. I wish to discuss, as did the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, a number of social implications of superannuation funds, and to draw attention to a debate which was foreshadowed some time ago and which is now taking place amongst those who are genuinely interested in the development of employer basted superannuation schemes and who see in them the fulfilment of aspirations that are now developing.
We see a growing tendency to regard the provision of superannuation benefits as part of the wage contract. One merely has to look at various levels of employment to find that today superannuation or retirement benefit programmes are part and parcel of the wage bargains. This applies not only to the salaried workers but also with equal significance to those in receipt of wages. There is also a growing desire for superannuation schemes to provide fully earnings related benefits. In addition I think there is a growing tendency for superannuation schemes to allow people a sufficient income in retirement so that they may maintain the levels of wellbeing related and comparable to those achieved in their earning years. It is my view that these particular aspirations can and will only be achieved through the encouragement and the development of employer based superannuation schemes. This desire to reduce the disparity between the standard of life before retirement and that after retirement is a worthy desire. It is a desire which I believe efforts must be made to fulfil so that every employee during his working life can with the help of his employer and with government provision, through whichever mechanism the Government chooses for the time being, make that provision which he desires. If an employee desires it to be related to his earning years, he should be encouraged and assisted to do so.
By encouraging the development of employer based superannuation schemes the employee is able to avail himself of the advantages that come from flexibility which otherwise would not be available if such schemes were based upon a wider premise, because an employer based scheme can take account of the particular circumstances of an industry. For example, an industry that is providing for employees in a mining town should, in my view, in planning for the retirement benefit programme for its employees, take account of the fact that adequate provision needs to be made for the suitable housing of the employees when they retire. This becomes more significant in the case of remote towns, cities and developmental areas because of the fact that employees often choose to retire to the more populous areas. It is important that provision during an employee’s lifetime, through, if possible, a superannuation scheme should take account of that factor. In contrast, an employee working in an industry in a large industrial city will in the normal course of events be encouraged during his working life to make provision for his accommodation. Therefore there is not quite the same need to place special emphasis on this aspect of retirement benefits. This sort of flexibility can only be achieved through employer based pensioner schemes.
If we look at the superannuation schemes that are now operating in Australia we see that some are government sponsored, some employer based. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has pointed out, it is not easy to obtain detailed information as to the numbers of contributors, the number of beneficiaries and the dates on which the contributors first joined the funds. I suggest that this analysis would be particularly important because as well as providing the interesting conclusions that can be drawn from the information which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has just given I think it would be found that in the superannuation funds there is a high proportion of younger employees than older employees. If provided for at all, older employees are provided for through different types of funds due to the short period in which those funds have been operating and the short period over which those employees have been able to make contribution to such funds.
We see in Australia a rapid development of employer based superannuation schemes, and it is my view that the Governmen should do all in its power to encourage this development and to increase what is said to be a one in three male, worker coverage to a much higher proportion so that when the employees of today reach retirement they will , have the benefit of their own savings, their employer’s savings, as a supplement to those benefits which .are provided under the social service legislation through the age pension. Through their own provision, through their employer’s provision and through the Government support given by means of the tax mechanism, employees, if they wish and if in- their wage contract so provides, can achieve and can be assured of a retirement income related to the income and standard which they have become used to and have, come to expect during their working lives.
We can look at the standards that must now be met not only by the private employer based funds but also by Government funds and can well ask ourselves whether from a national point of. view the standards achieved by superannuation funds are in the best interests of the nation and the contributors, and subsequently the beneficiaries of those funds. Some standards are already laid down by the Commonwealth through the tax mechanism. Funds, in order to obtain a tax concession, must meet a certain standard. These standards .have been introduced in a piecemeal fashion without, I believe, a full study being made of the objectives which we wish to see achieved by an employer based superannuation scheme. One can see the obvious reason for the socalled 30-20 rule that requires a certain proportion of investment by superannuation funds to be in Government or semigovernment securities.
One can see the reason for the limitations that must be included in the rules of funds with regard to the benefits if the tax concession is to be available. But I question whether the standards set are sufficient and adequate for the purpose of achieving proper encouragement and healthy development of employer based superannuation retirement benefit schemes. I too, like the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, have been interested in the study being made in Victoria and the work done by Mr Coward. He was brought out from Canada and his report seems to me to be very much based upon the experience of the standards legislation which was first introduced in the Province of Ontario and subsequently was adopted uniformly by the Canadian provinces and by the Federal Government itself.
Honourable members will recall that not long ago I asked the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) a question which highlighted the need for an examination of the standards now being set for superannuation funds. 1 drew to the Treasurer’s attention a statement attributed to Mr Niall of the National Mutual Association that he believed that a multiplicity of controls was undesirable for superannuation funds which operate Australia wide. In this view I would concur. I believe it would be undesirable for there to be a great variety of different standards applied to superannuation funds operating in the various States. I think with the mobility of labour that exists today the standards to be set for superannuation funds should be set by the Commonwealth and, if necessary, the tax mechanism should be used in setting these standards and establishing the guidelines along which superannuation funds should be encouraged to develop. The question I asked of the Treasurer was this: In view of the fact that the development of superannuation and pension funds may depend upon improved portability of pension rights, mini mum requirements as to the vesting of employers contributions and the encouragement of schemes which provide for income benefits rather than payments of lump sums, will the Treasurer review the controls now imposed upon superannuation funds by the Income Tax Assessment Act with a view to making appropriate amendments to achieve these ends?
I would urge the Government to examine the tax legislation with a view, in the first instance, to determining the ends which we desire to achieve in the encouragement we now give to the development of private provision through superannuation funds. Having determined the ends that we desire to achieve I believe that we should set standards and guidelines to be followed so that proper encouragement is given to the development of private provision for retirement through employer based superannuation funds. It is important, I think, that these standards should be uniform throughout Australia so that mobility of labour from one State to another is in no way inhibited. There should at this stage, I think, be no compulsion requiring the introduction of superannuation schemes though good encouragement should be given to their introduction. But the schemes that are introduced should be required to meet minimum standards and these standards should be directed towards the encouragement of private provision and towards the encouragement of the achievement of the objectives of providing for retirement through superannuation schemes.
There are, I believe, sound reasons why the Government should lay down certain basic minimum qualifications in order that superanuuation funds may obtain the concessions that they now receive through the tax structure. There is no reason why those standards cannot be improved so that the objectives that we desire to see achieved will be more quickly attained. These standards must be designed to achieve the social objectives upon which the very tax concessions now available to superannuation funds and in respect of contributions to them are founded. What should these standards be? It is interesting that the legislation now before the House is a demonstration in a small way of the Government’s recognition that employer contributions should vest in employees.
The very concept of non-contributory units is a recognition that if, subject to certain special conditions, an employee cannot take up contributory units, he should not be deprived of the employer’s contribution. This can be said of all superannuation funds, including the Commonwealth fund. In view of the Canadian experience it is interesting to note the recommendations made by Mr Coward that after a specified period of service the employer should not be entitled to deprive the employee of what would otherwise be the employers contribution towards that employee’s retirement. Under the Commonwealth scheme an employee who leaves the service of the Commonwealth forfeits all the employer’s contribution unless the reason for leaving is retirement. In the booklet that describes the fund the situation is explained as follows:
Under both arrangements all contributions are refunded without any deduction for administrative charges or for the cost to the fund of the reserve against which the contributor is insured.
The contributions which are refunded are the contributions of the employee. Whether the employee has worked for 5, 10, IS or 25 years, or longer, he forfeits the employer’s contribution. This restricts the mobility of labour between one employer and another. In this modern, technological age I question the reason that prompted the desire to restrict mobility. At one time it might have been sound to have superannuation schemes based upon the retention of employees. I think that in this modern age such an attitude is ill founded. I believe there should be encouragement of mobility of labour because by the cross-fertilisation of experience, knowledge and ideas, the economy will be the better for the transfer of labour. The transfer or mobility of labour should not be increased in cost by virtue of an employee leaving an employer and forfeiting his rights. Often to be encouraged to go to the new employer he has to receive, as Sir Leslie Melville has said, ‘a double golden handshake’.
I think taxation legislation should be designed to encourage vesting of employer contributions. Other matters that should be looked at in the setting of standards for pension funds should relate to what has been described as the ‘locking in’ of benefits. At present if an employee leaves an employer, he forfeits to the fund the employer’s contribution even though he has worked for him for a lengthy period. He receives a lump sum payment, paying, it is true, taxation on 5% of that sum. More often than not this lump sum ceases to be available to the employee when he needs it most - at retirement. The very fact that this money can be obtained often encourages a man, who for one reason or another is in financial difficulties, to leave an employer so that he might benefit from the lump sum. This payment may solve bis immediate financial difficulty, but it will mean that he and his family are deprived of the retirement benefit that would otherwise be available to him later.
So I urge the Government to examine the desirability of permitting’ these lump sum payments. I believe that a careful and objective analysis will reveal that the practice has persisted beyond its usefulness. A standard should be set to encourage the payment of pensions rather than lump sums, irrespective of whether they are made before or at retirement. I have mentioned two standards that 1 believe should be examined and, if found deserving,, should be established as criteria for the concession for tax benefit for superannuation funds. The first is the vesting of the employers contribution after a minimum period of service. The second is the locking in of benefits so that they may not be taken out prior to retirement, except in exceptional cases, and even then, on retirement, they should be taken out in an income form,’ subject again possibly to a limited amount being available in a lump sum.
I turn now to the question of portability. This is the third area in which I believe that standards should be set. ‘Portability’ is a term which is used to. cover a multitude of ideas. I think that careful examination should be made to ensure that when an employee leaves an employer, if he is not then to receive the lump sum payment to which he is entitled - either his own contribution or, after an adequate period of service, his own and those of his employer - he should be entitled to receive the deferred benefits upon retirement. He should be able either to take the benefits with him to be reinvested in his new employer’s superannuation scheme, or to have them deferred so that they will be available to him upon retirement.
Another area in which I think that standards for superannuation funds should be examined is the type of investment that is available for those funds. I believe that a careful analysis may show that the impact of inflation can be met by a proper standard of investment policy that allows for certain equity investment but sufficiently spread so as not to place the benefits available at a risk. This would mean that retirees would enjoy the growth and development of the Australian economy. In view of what I have said, I urge the Government to make a comprehensive examination of the social and economic implications of the development of occupational and employer based retirement schemes. I urge the Government to avoid the temptation to introduce piecemeal controls and to make a most careful and detailed analysis of the position so that the objectives to which I referred earlier may be achieved that people may retire with incomes in retirement related to the incomes they have received during their working lives.
– I was hoping to spend some little time on this subject tonight, but I understand that our programme may not permit me to do so. Therefore. I shall briefly mention that my attention was projected to this Bill particularly as a result of representations made to me by some of my constituents who I believe have made a fair approach to the problem posed by the failure to provide for backdating the provisions of the Bill. I appreciate that with legislation of this nature the Government finds itself in a difficult situation. The .legislation is sufficiently complicated as it stands but if we seek to include in it a measure of retrospectivity we will undoubtedly double the number of complications that may arise. Nevertheless we cannot by-pass the situation of a person who may retire today or tomorrow but who will not benefit from this legislation because it has not yet received the royal assent. This matter was referred to by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). I firmly believe that the Government cannot avoid considering the position of members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund or of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund who may already be retired or who may retire before this Bill receives the royal assent. In due course we will have to extend the benefits of this legislation to these people. Whether this will be done tomorrow or 12 months hence or whenever we find the finance and the direction to do it one cannot predict at this stage.
I am extremely interested in the submissions put forward by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson). Without referring to them in detail - they constitute a lengthy subject - I would say that 1 agree generally with what he has said regarding the introduction of employer based superannuation schemes in the private sector of the community. But my approach to this legislation would appear to be somewhat in conflict with the attitude of most honourable members and with the attitude of the High Council of Public Service Organisations, because 1 have some doubts regarding the principle behind this type of legislation. The honourable member for Sturt submitted that that portion of the superannuation benefit which is contributed by the employer should, with certain limitations, be available to the employee. This suggestion would be appealing to the employee but it could lead to a breaking down of the encouragement of initiative on the part of the employee, particularly an employee who has taken up 50% of his available units. One of the conditions of this Bill is that the employee must have taken up at least 50% of his available units. Assume that twenty units are taken up. That person would be making a contribution of about $5 compared with his employers contribution of about $ 1 2.50. The employee would be paying about 40% . In the case of a person who does not exercise the remainder of his options but accepts only the employer’s contributions, his contributions would be on the basis of only 20%. I submit that this is the basis upon which the system will1 operate henceforth. From now on the employee will contribute only 20% . This may not happen tomorrow, but the superannuation scheme will take on a personality of this nature - 20% instead of 40% contributed by the employee. It may be said that this is sufficient. I do not debate the issue at this stage. Perhaps an opportunity to do so will arise in the future. I make that one point, coupled with the observation about retrospectivity.
There were a number of other points that 1 wanted to raise. One was the lifting of the means test, which was referred to by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. To lift the means test is over simplifying the answer to the problem. Where a contributor to a superannuation fund is making heavy superannuation payments there may be some doubt as to the real value of his superannuation. In these days of inflation we know that many superannuated employees look in desperation to the removal of the means test as a way out of their problem. But I do not believe that they have sufficiently studied the situation. May I take a rain check on the other matters that I wanted to raise and deal with them in some future debate?
Since honourable members have been referring to superannuation in general terms I would like to deal with the position of a public servant who resigns or is discharged or dismissed from the Public Service. Paragraph 114 of the booklet which describes the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund states:
On resignation, discharge or dismissal a benefit equal to a refund of all contributions for active units is payable;
It may be validly argued that a public servant who resigns does so as a matter of choice with a view to taking a position at a better salary or with better conditions than were available in the Public Service. Such a person receives a refund of superannuation contributions but receives no interest payment on those contributions. He receives simply the total amount that he has contributed. The same situation applies in the case of a public servant who is dismissed or discharged.
There is a big difference between being forced to resign and resigning voluntarily. I submit that a public servant who is forced to resign because he seeks election to the Commonwealth Parliament is in a different category to public servants who resign in order to obtain better positions outside the Public Service or who are dismissed. I suppose that in the interpretation of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act there is no difference between somebody who is dismissed for an offence and somebody who is forced to resign because, as in my case, he seeks election to Parliament. But surely there is a substantive difference. All I say is that it is a paltry condition of the superannuation scheme that a man may contribute for 15 years or longer and upon resignation receive only what he has paid into the scheme and not1c interest. I do not know what sort of justice this is. This matter has been raised with me time and time again by various people. I have not had an opportunity to raise the matter in the Parliament but at a later stage I intend to explore this matter in greater detail than I can do at the moment. I fail to sec why a person who has contributed to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund for a long period of years should not receive, upon being forced to resign as distinct from voluntary resignation or dismissal, a refund of contributions plus interest.
– Who gets the interest?
– The Commonwealth, and it does not pay the interest to the contributor. At a later stage I hope to explore this situation in greater detail, quoting the provisions of the Act to support my arguments.
– in reply - All I say at this stage is that the points raised by the various speakers in the debate will be carefully examined.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– I refer to clause 11 which, in part, reads:
After Division 2 of Part111. of the Principal Act the following Division is inserted: -
Division 2a. - Non-contributory Units of Pension. ‘ “22a.- (1.) “22d.- (1.) “ (2.) An election by an employee under section twenty-two b of this Act does not have effect, and shall be deemed not to have had effect, in relation to a unit of pension where, if it had effect in relation to that unit -
in a case to which neither of the next two succeeding paragraphs applies - the number of units of pension (other than reserve units of pension) for which he would be, or would have been, a contributor as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect would be less than his initial unit entitlement;
in the case of an employee to whom section sixty-seven of this Act applies - the sum of the number of units of pension (other than reserve units of pension) for which he would be, or would have been, a contributor as at the time immediately after the lime as from which the election has or had effect and the number of units of pension tother than non-contributory units of pension) in respect of which he is in receipt of a pension under this Act would be less than his initial unit entitlement; or
in the case of an employee to whom section sixty-nine of this Act applies or applied - 4he sum of the number of units of pension (other than reserve units of pension) for which he would be. or would have been, a contributor as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect and the number of units of pension in respect of which his right referred to in section sixty-eight of this Act is or w-as, under section seventy-one or section seventy-two of this Act, commutable for new rights would be less than his initial unit entitlement. “22n.- (1.) . “ (2.) An election by an employee under section twenty-two b of this Act does not have effect, and shall be deemed not to have had effect, in relation to a unit of pension where, if it had effect in relation to thai unit -
in a case to which neither of the next two succeeding paragraphs applies - the number of units of pension (other than reserve units of pension) for which he would be, or would have been, a contributor as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect would be less than one-half of his full unit entitlement as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect;
in the case of an employee to whom section sixty-seven of this Act applies - the sum of the number of units of pension (other than reserve units of pension) for which he would be, or would have been, a contributor as at the time immediately after the lime as from which the election has or had effect and the number of units of pension (other than non-contributory units of pension) in respect of which he is in receipt of a pension under this Act would be less than one-half of his full unit entitlement as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect; or
in the case of an employee to whom section sixty-nine of this Act applies or applied - the sum of the number of units of pension (other than reserve units of pension) for which he would be, or would have been, a contributor as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect and the number of units of pension in respect of which his right referred to in section sixty-eight of this Act is or was, under section seventy-one or section seventy-two of this Act, commutable for new rights would be less than one-half of his full unit entitlement as at the time immediately after the time as from which election has or had effect. “ 22l. - (1.) Where, on or after the date of commencement of [his section, an employee makes an election under sub-section (6.) of section twenty, sub-section (1.) or sub-section (2.) of section twenty a, sub-section (2.) of section twenty b, subsection (1.) of section twenty-five or sub-section (1.) of section thirty-one of this Act (in this section referred to as “the basic election’), then -
I seek leave to move together the three amendments which’ have been circulated in the name of the Treasurer.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I. move:
Omit sub-section (2.) of proposed section 22o, insert the following sub-section - “ ‘(2.) An election by an employee under section twenty-two b of this Act does not have effect, and shall be deemed not. to have, had effect, in relation to a unit of pension where, if it had effect in relation to that unit -
the number of units of pension (other than non-contributory units of pension) in respect of which he is in receipt of a pension under this Act, would be less than his initial unit entitlement; or
Omit sub-section (2.) of proposed section 22e, insert the following sub-section - “ ‘ (2.) An election by an employee under section twenty-two b of this Act does not have effect, and shall be deemed not to have had effect, in relation to a unit of pension where, if it had effect in relation to that unit -
the number of units of pension (other than non-contributory units of pension) in respect of which he is in receipt of a pension under this Act, would be less than one-half of his full unit entitlement as at the time immediately after the time as from which the election has or had effect; or
In proposed section 22l (1.), after “ Act “, insert “or sub-section (2.) of section thirty-two of the Superannuation Act (No. 2) 1969 “.
The first and second amendments, which are related, correct a technical defect in each of the proposed new sections 22d and 22e. The provisions as presently drafted could operate to prevent a person who becomes entitled to additional unit entitlements on the date of . commencement of the legislation from taking up those units as non-contributory units. These amendments will ensure that this does not occur.
The third amendment corrects another minor technical defect in the proposed new section 22l. This provision will apply in a situation where a person has the right to make a non-contributory unit election that has effect retrospectively. The purpose of the section is to ensure that when a person makes such an election any election previously made that has the effect of reducing contributions retrospectively from a date before the date of effect of the non-contributory election is taken into account in applying the various eligibility tests for non-contributory units. Sub-clause (2) of clause 32 which is the subject of the amendment is one of the provisions under which a retrospective election to reduce contributions can be made.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Swartz) - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
Ministerial - Statement
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Law Council of Australia on a draft criminal code for the Australian Territories, with an explanatory memorandum and a commentary prepared by the committee of the Law Council. That committee was set up in Queensland to co-ordinate the work of the various committees appointed by the Law Council to undertake special areas of research into the criminal law. I ask for leave of the House to make a statement in relation to the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The President of the Law Council of Australia has presented to me a draft criminal code for the Australian Territories together with an explanatory memoranda of the committee of the Law Council responsible for the drafting of the code on the approach the committee has taken to the various branches of the criminal law for the preparation of the code. This project commenced in 1964 following discussions between one of my predecessors in office, Sir Garfield Barwick, and the Executive Committee of the Law Council. As a result of these discussions Sir Garfield asked the Law Council for assistance in the drafting of a criminal code that might be adopted at least in the internal Territories of the Commonwealth and in those cases where the Commonwealth needs a general criminal law - for example, on ships and aircraft and for use in the defence forces. Sir Garfield acknowledged the very considerable task which this would involve and the large amount of detailed work which members of the legal profession who undertook to help in the preparation of the draft would be called upon to undertake.
The Executive of the Law Council agreed to undertake the task and decided that as Queensland had had the longest experience in operating under a criminal code a co-ordinating committee to undertake general supervision of the task should be set up in that State whilst committees in other States should undertake specific areas of research into the present law in Australia and report to the Queensland committee. The first Chairman of the Queensland committee was Sir Roslyn Philp, who was then the Senior Puisne Judge of the Queensland Supreme Court and a judge of great experience in the operation of the criminal code of his State. The project was not long underway when Sir Roslyn died and his place as Chairman was taken by Mr Justice J. A. Douglas. Other members of the committee were
Judge Carter of the District Court of Queensland and the author of the wellknown work on the Queensland code, Mr F. G. Brennan, Q.C., Mr D. Casey, Mr J. M. Geraghty of the Queensland Bar Association, Mr Sholto Douglas of the Queensland Law Society and Mr J. M. Morris, reader in law at the University of Queensland. Mr K. S. Edmunds of my Department sat with the committee from its inception and he was later joined by Mr Halliday also of my Department. Unfortunately after several years work on the committee, pressure of duties caused Mr Justice Douglas and Judge Carter both to resign from the co-ordinating committee and Mr Brennan undertook the role of Chairman. It has been under his term as Chairman that the draft code has taken its final form.
The report which I table is the synthesis of the committee’s work. The working reports on the various branches of the criminal law were prepared by the committees set up in the States and by the Queensland committee and occupied approximately 500 pages. Many of these working reports were circulated and comments were received upon them. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), for example, was supplied with copies of these reports by my predecessor and myself. On behalf of the Commonwealth, I express appreciation of the many hours of voluntary service which various members of the legal profession have given to the preparation of the draft code. I would like to pay a special tribute to the Queensland coordinating committee for its work. Without attempting to single out anyone who was on a State committee, I feel 1 must acknowledge the work of Mr Acting Justice Zelling of the South Australian Supreme Court, who was President of the Law Council when much of the work on the draft code was undertaken, who served on the South Australian committee’ in the preparation of reports from that State and who undertook the heavy task of preparing the reports and draft proposals on the projects allocated to the New South Wales committee, when that committee found it would not proceed with its assignment.
The draft code which I have tabled is not the first criminal code prepared in Australia. In fact one of the great criminal codes of the English speaking world was the Queensland code drafted by Sir Samuel Griffith in the 1890’s while Chief Judge of the Queensland Supreme Court. Sir Samuel was. of course, afterwards the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. This code was adopted by Western Australia. In Tasmania in 1916 Mr Justice Ewing undertook the preparation of a criminal code for that State. Before presenting his code to the Attorney-General of that State in 1918 he submitted his draft to several justices of the High Court and also sought the collaboration of Mr Justice Cussen of the Victorian Supreme Court. This draft code was introduced into the Tasmanian Parliament and passed into law in 1924. It is no doubt due to the scholarship the Queensland and Tasmanian codes exhibit that caused the Law Council committee to acknowledge them as its principal sources from which drafting recommendations are taken. In addition, the committee acknowledges the assistance it gained from the model penal code of the American Law Institute and the codes of Singapore, Nigeria, Illinois and New York as well as work being done in England on reform of the criminal law. In acknowledging these sources 1 think the committee is not indicating the depth of the research which led to the draft it has presented. I know that it made a study of the work of those engaged in research in the English speaking world into the criminal law and text books written in the subject as well as codes from places as far apart as Korea and Italy. I myself had some opportunity of appreciating the thought which has gone into the preparation of the draft, as 1 attended joint meetings in Canberra and Melbourne of the Queensland co-ordinating committee and the State committees. lt is interesting lo consider earlier work done in the drafting of criminal codes before Sir Samuel Griffith commenced work on the Queensland code which has left its mark on the present draft. Perhaps the earliest worker in the field who could be said to have had an influence was Jeremy Bentham in the 18th and early 19th century in England. Other early works were Edward Livingstone’s draft for the State of Louisiana in the I820’s, Lord Macaulay’s Indian draft code of the 1830’s, the work undertaken by the commission in England in the middle of last century and other works leading to Stephen’s code. It was Stephen’s code which Sir Samuel Griffith kept closely in mind, although he did have a great respect for the Italian code of 1888 and Field’s New York code of 1882. I should make it plain that the codification of the law does not mean that all legal problems in the area of law which is codified are automatically solved. I think the words of Sir A. Cockburn, Lord Chief Justice of England in commenting upon the criminal code which was introduced into the House of Commons in 1880 best illustrate this point. He said:
In the first place it must be observed that codification merely means the reduction of the existing law to an orderly system freed from the needless technicalities, obscurities, and other defects, which the experience of its administration has disclosed. The process must be gradual. Not only must particular branches of the law be dealt with separately, but each separate measure intended to codify any particular branch must of necessity be more or less incomplete. No one great department of law is absolutely unconnected with any other. For instance, bigamy is a crime, but in order to know whether a person has committed bigamy it is necessary to know whether his first marriage was valid. The definition of theft, again, involves a knowledge of the law relating to property, and this connects itself with the law of contract and many other subjects.
It is, however, easy to exaggerate the extent o( this incompleteness. Practically, the great leading branches of the law are to a great extent distinct from each other, and there is probably no branch which is so nearly complete in itself as the Criminal Law. . . .
There are several controversial areas which the Law Council has not attempted to encroach upon or has encroached upon to a very limited extent. These areas cover offences of homosexuality and abortion. The view expressed by the Council is that it should not attempt to answer problems raised by these controversies, the answer to which must depend upon a Government appreciation of social conditions in the widest sense. In relation to abortion, where the law previously allowed the termination of a pregnancy but where the termination was perhaps lawful only by surgical procedures the Council has proposed an extension in respect of the termination by medical procedures other than surgical. In the case of suicide it has not recommended the inclusion of any offence of attempted suicide but has proposed the adoption of the recent Victorian provisions relating to suicide pacts.
I have mentioned the recourse which the committee had to earlier codes. To leave the subject there would be to ignore the survey which was made of the common law. Despite the fact that all of the earlier codes paid tribute to the common law and in great measure were based upon it, the Council has made a further review of the common law situation in Australia and has lent heavily upon the common law decisions of the Courts.
The question which will be asked is: What does the Government propose to do with the report, which has entailed so many thousands of hours of voluntary labour? Let me say that it is not proposed merely to table it and let history take care of it. I have already taken steps to detach from his normal duties a First Assistant Secretary of my Department who has a knowledge of the draft code and whose duties include matters relating to the criminal law to prepare a statement setting out the present position of the law in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and what changes are involved if the Law Council’s recommendations are adopted. Arrangements have been made for him to have the assistance of a principal legal officer. There is no statement of the criminal law as it applies in these Territories and the task 1 have set these officers will take some time to accomplish. There are decisions too to be made as to the approach the Government should make to the subjects proposed in the report as to criminal responsibility and other matters.
The draft code does not include recommendations as to penalties as these rightly fall into the area of Government policy. Whilst I. appreciate that it is not possible to balance crime against crime - for example, whether a conviction for housebreaking should weigh more heavily as a social evil than an indecent assault on a young girl - I do feel that it should be possible to devise a more orderly system of penalties than those at present existing in so much of our criminal law, and I hope to work to that end.
The work that has been accomplished in the report is, in itself, a milestone in legal history in Australia. It is a tribute to the legal profession for the work they have devoted to the task. It is an illustration of what can be achieved in the field of law reform and how code thinking and common law thinking can be reconciled if the subject is painstakingly prepared and then fully debated. I present the following paper:
Draft Criminal Code for the Australian Territories - Ministerial Statement, 14 May 1969.
– by leave - I believe that all honourable members and all residents of Australia will acknowledge that a milestone has been reached in law reform as a result of the report which the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) has tabled. The speech he made when presenting the report was refreshing and exhilarating. 1 not only compliment him on the work that 1 know he has contributed in a very real sense to this task in his present office and al the Bar, but I also acknowledge and applaud the hours of work and years of experience that have been put into preparing the code by people throughout Australia, but particularly in Queensland, following in the tradition of Griffith and his contemporaries.
Law reform in this sense is not particularly controversial as far as party politics go in Australia. This Parliament has proved less rigid in debates on strictly legal Bills than it has on other Bills. In fact, the only amendments in recent years which come readily to mind that have been moved in either place and accepted by the Government have been amendments to such Bills. I recall to honourable members a proposal for law reform which was made in July 1957 by the former Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, at the Tenth Legal Convention of the Australian Law Council. He said: ls it not possible to place law reform on an Australia-wide basis? Might not there be a Federal Committee for Law Reform? In spite of the absence of Constitutional power to enact the reforms as law, it is open to the federal legislature to authorise the formation of a body for inquiring into law reform. Such a body might prepare and promulgate draft reforms which would merely await adoption. In all or nearly all matters of private law there is no geographical reason why the law should be different in any part of Australia. Local conditions have nothing to do with it. Is it not unworthy of Australia as a nation to have varying laws affecting the relations between man and man? Is it beyond us to make some attempt to obtain a uniform system of private law in Australia?
A different method has been adopted on this occasion, but it works towards the same end. On previous occasions I have expressed the view - and I repeat it on this occasion - that I believe that in such relatively non-contentious matters, in the political sense, as law reform and scientific development the Parliament should set up a joint committee. I recognise that on these matters parliamentarians inevitably have to depend on the advice of experts. Nevertheless, the final decision and the final enactment has to be made by members of the Parliament. Theirs is the responsibility: unless they accept it there can be no reforms, however far-sighted and cogent the advice.
One difficulty associated with the preparation of codes by experts sitting in private is that although each of the State parliaments can pass Acts for its State, and the Commonwealth Government can pass ordinances for the Territories, in terms of the submitted code, if the Commonwealth Government varies any ordinance or one of the State parliaments makes an amendment to the code, the uniformity is lost. There is no guarantee, of course, that any parliamentary committee of the Commonwealth Government can ensure uniformity throughout State jurisdictions. Nevertheless, I believe that there is an advantage to be gained from parliamentarians being involved as widely as possible in the process and, as is possible with any committee if it chooses, involved in that process in public. If parliamentarians consult with experts on an all-party, joint house basis and if, as has happened with many of our parliamentary committees, evidence is tendered by State parliamentarians, I believe the chances of getting prompt, uniform law reform will be enhanced. The acceptance that parliamentary committees have secured for their recommendations and the unanimity they have brought to their recommendations is remarkable. The only exception seems to be the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House.
The Attorney-General has informed the House of, and has himself helped to erect, a milestone in law reform in Australia. I have spoken as I have tonight because I have been able to watch the process through the courtesy of the AttorneyGeneral’s predecessor and of the AttorneyGeneral who have given me drafts as they have come to hand. I believe that the public would be made aware of the benefits flowing from law reform and that they would enjoy those benefits more rapidly and more uniformly throughout the nation if we could go further still - if we could discuss reforms with experts in parliamentary committees. Then the elected representatives would feel an involvement in law reform in Australia to a greater extent than they have in our memories or during our careers. I applaud what the AttorneyGeneral has said and what he has helped to bring to fruition tonight. My Party, I am certain, would applaud his further efforts in implementing the recommendations of the Committee, in whose debt we are.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hughes) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mir McMahon, and read a first time.
– -I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to new arrangements for Commonwealth assistance to the States for roads during the next 5 years, 1969-70 to 1973-74. The new arrangements were announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at the Premiers’ Conference held in Canberra on 13th March.
In framing these new arrangements, the Government was greatly assisted by the information and advice furnished by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads which it set up to undertake a thorough survey and appraisal of the existing roads systems and of foreseeable roads requirements. The Bureau itself was generously assisted in its work by the various roads authorities of the States. We are grateful to them for their help in this great national undertaking.
After conducting, in conjunction with State roads authorities, an extensive road needs survey to establish what works would be required to bring the roads system up to standards considered desirable from an engineering standpoint, the Bureau undertook a detailed economic evaluation of those works to assess what expenditure would, in terms of yield to the community, be warranted during the next 5 years and what could be encompassed within the resources likely to be available. On the basis of this analysis, and after estimating the funds likely to be available from State and local government resources, the Bureau of Roads recommended a total Commonwealth aid roads grant for the next 5 years of $l,280m.
The amount proposed in the Bill is approximately$1, 252m. It comprises a principal grant of$1, 200m, to be distri buted among all the States, and supplementary grants to three States. Although the proposed principal grant is 60% greater than the grants for the previous 5 years, we recognised that, if it were to be distributed in a way which in the light of the Bureau’s assessments appeared desirable, the flow of assistance to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania could be too abruptly changed. Accordingly, we decided to provide supplementary grants, totalling aproximately $52m to these States.
During the current5 years, 1964-1969, total expenditure on roads will have amounted to more than $2, 500m. That is some 50% more than in the preceding 5 years. It also represents an increase, from about 2.1% to 2.2% in the proportion of gross national product allocated for roads purposes. Of the total expenditure of over $2,500m the Commonwealth Government financed approximately $850m and the States and their authorities approximately $l,650m. This contribution made by the States and their authorities was over 50% more than in previous quinquennium. If State and local authorities again increase expenditure on roads from their own resources by about 50% over the next 5 years, total roads expenditure could, with a Commonwealth aid roads grant of $l,252m, reach about $3,900m, an increase of about 54%. On the Bureau’s analysis, the projects that could be undertaken within such a level of investment in roads could produce returns to the community of 10% or more. It would. imply some further increase in the proportion of gross national product going to roads in the period. It would mean that investment in roads would have a higher place in our national priorities. Given a continued strong growth in our gross national product, this should be attainable without creating undue strains on available resources. .
Provision is made in the Bill to require each State Government to increase its expenditure on roads from its own resources at the rate at which motor vehicles on register in the State increase. This is a minimum requirement and it has been designed so as not to be unduly onerous for any State. It will mean that, if the rate of increase in motor vehicles on register is about the same as in the past 5 years, the State governments would be required to increase their expenditure on roads from their own resources by about 30%. We hope that the State governments and also local authorities, to which the minimum requirement does not apply, will in fact be able to achieve an increase of at least 50% in expenditures from their own resources.
One of the features of the proposed new arrangements is the provision, for the first time, of Commonwealth funds specifically for construction of major urban roads. Some S600m is to be allocated for construction of arterial and sub-arterial roads in the State capitals and major provincial cities. This is a very large sum and it should go far to assist in overcoming the difficult and complex traffic problems of the cities.
Besides the allocation for urban arterial roads, there are separate allocations for rural arterial roads and other rural roads. Although it is not proposed to continue the requirement that at least 40% of the Commonwealth aid roads grants be spent on construction and maintenance of ‘minor rural roads’, the proposed specific allocation for rural roads other than arterial roads should enable a considerable increase in expenditure on these roads to be achieved. The amounts to be allocated for expenditure on the construction and maintenance of rural roads other than arterial roads in each State have been determined by increasing by 5% a year the amount the State is required, under the existing legislation, to spend from Commonwealth funds on minor rural roads from its 1968-69 grant. Over the next 5 years this will yield a total amount of almost $395m, an increase of about $95m on the amount required to be spent on minor rural roads in the 5 years ending in 1968-69.
A further amount of almost $187m is to be allocated by the Commonwealth for expenditure on arterial roads in rural areas. Thus, there will be a total amount of $581 m of Commonwealth funds available for expenditure on rural roads under the proposed new arrangements. The States can, of course, allocate any portion of their own very considerable roads funds to these roads.
Each of the allocations for the three broad classifications are to be used for the class of roads specified. The amounts are large. In particular circumstances, a State might encounter difficulty in using all of its annual allocation for a particular class of roads because of planning or other delays. Provision has accordingly been made in the new legislation to meet such situations, if they arise. The present legislation requires that any Commonwealth funds not spent on roads by the States during a year be spent within 6 months after the end of that year. In future, a State may, on request, be permitted a longer time within which to spend a particular grant, subject to the Commonwealth being satisfied that every effort has been made to spend the money available within 6 months of the end of the year for which it was available.
A State may also be allowed limited transfers between the road classes for which the Commonwealth grants are available. However, it is our firm intention that, wherever possible, the grants should be used only for the class of roads for which they are being made available. We prefer that a State should have a longer time to spend a grant rather than see it transferred for expenditure on another class of road. Transfers will, therefore, be approved only in exceptional circumstances.
Honourable members will see that, in addition to the allocations for the three main types of roads, the Bill provides an amount of $18m for expenditure by the States on road planning and research. This sum will be available for expenditure on research and planning projects approved by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). We hope that this will encourage more and better forward planning of programmes of roads expenditure.
As to the division of the grants between the States, the Commonwealth agreed with the Bureau of Roads’ assessment that the present distribution should be modified so as to make a distinct move towards a distribution based to a greater extent on the relative economic road needs. However, as I have said, the Government considered that adoption of either the majority or the minority reports of the Bureau would have meant too radical a change in distribution. In particular, the effect on the existing road construction programmes of the outlying States would have been too abrupt and too drastic. Western Australia’s share of $l,200m, for example, would have amounted to only $160m or less than 20% more than it received in the current 5 years; South Australia would have received only about 40% more.
The Commonwealth therefore proposes, as a transitional arrangement, to provide special supplementary grants to these States. These special supplementary grants, which would be ‘phased out’ by the end of the quinquennium, are meant to ensure that no State receives, over the next 5 years, less than 50% more than in the present quinquennium. That means that no State will receive a smaller percentage increase in its grant than it would have done under the present aid roads scheme.
Obviously, roads grants of the size proposed will impose a much enlarged commitment on the Commonwealth Budget. It will involve an average annual rate of increase in the grants over the next 5 years of about 13%, compared with 8% in the last 5 years. That will put it among the fastest growing sectors of expenditure in our Budget.
We have necessarily had to weigh financial aspects such as these. But we have also looked at roads development in a much wider context and perspective. Engaged as Australia is today in the rapid up-building of a modern economy, we must see to it that land transport facilities, of which roads comprise a fundamental element, keep up with the requirements of growth. The call on resources is large as roads expenditure is about one quarter of all public works expenditures. But there can be no doubt that, wisely planned and efficiently carried out, roads expenditure can yield big dividends in efficiency of transport and therefore in national productivity. On these grounds, we regard the enlarged financial contribution we are making as being amply justified. Given the co-operation of the States and the municipal and local authorities, we believe that the new arrangements the Commonwealth proposes will open the way to a rapid and rewarding advance in this most important sector of national development. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Hulme, and read a first time.
When, on 17th April 1969, I. introduced the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1969, I indicated that I hoped, during this session of Parliament, to introduce subsequent Bills to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act in certain further directions. Accordingly, I now present for the consideration of the House, Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1969.
Honourable members may recall that, on 24th September 1968, 1 informed the House of proposals to extend to broadcasting stations some of the ownership and control provisions currently applying to television stations, while on the 19th March 1969, 1 informed the House of the intention to bring down an amendment to the Act to correct a shortcoming which had been found to be present in respect of the ownership and control provisions relating to television stations. This Bill deals with these matters and, in addition, provides for the grant of licences for small television stations to serve remotely situated communities and to amend the existing provisions relating to the broadcasting and televising of election matter.
I do not propose in this second reading speech to cover in any great detail the various clauses of the Bill. On the face of it. they are fairly complex and can, I think, be better dealt with in the committee stage. I propose, however, to outline for the information of honourable members, the background and broad import of the proposed amendments.
In 1960, and later in 1965, Parliament enacted legislation to deal with the question of the ownership and control of television stations. Broadly, the intention was to limit the extent of the control or influence which might be exercised by any one person or group over companies holding licences for television stations. The provisions which were enacted appear as Division 3 of Part
IV of the Act and it is gratifying to record that they have been most effective in ensuring compliance with the will of the Parliament. In contrast, the existing provisions relating to broadcasting stations, which have remained virtually unchanged since 1942, have, in the light of developments, proved to be not only inadequate but leave open ways for the evasion of the basic intentions of the provisions. In consequence, there has been an increasing trend towards a concentration of control arising from transactions in shares in licensee companies or in companies which are themselves shareholders in licensee companies. As I explained in my statement to the House on 24th September 1968, the Act now provides that a person shall not own or control, directly or indirectly, more than 4 commercial broadcasting stations, including 1 metropolitan station, in any one State, and more than 8 stations, including 4 metropolitan stations, in Australia. In this context, the Act does not define ‘control’ as is the case with television stations and, in respect of shareholding changes, the provisions do not extend beyond the beneficial ownership of shares in a licensee company. It has been necessary to provide for transactions of an indirect character through conditions of licences - an unsatisfactory procedure.
The position with respect to ownership of broadcasting stations is, therefore, that a person may own or control a total of 8 stations in the Commonwealth and may, in addition, hold up to 50% of the shares in any other number of companies holding licences. It is not proposed to change the present limitation on the number of stations which may be owned or controlled but it is proposed to restrict the interest which may be held directly or indirectly in any additional licensee company. This is to be done by extending to broadcasting stations some of the existing provisions of the Act currently applying to television stations, and I now propose to explain, briefly, the main features of these.
Proposed section 90c of the Bill provides that a person shall contravene the provisions of the Act if he has a ‘prescribed interest’ in licences for:
Proposed section 90 (2.), in turn, provides that a person has a ‘prescribed interest’ in a licence if he is:
The holder of the licence;
In ascertaining whether a person has a prescribed interest’ in a licensee company, the Bill provides in section 90b for indirect interests to be taken into account by the tracing back of shareholding interests through a series of companies. Tracing back through voting rights is provided for by proposed section 90e. This section, it will be noted, provides for ‘control’ of a company to embrace 15% of voting rights, the holding of 15% of the shares in a company carrying unrestricted voting rights or the holding of 15% of the total share capital of a company and, in effect, applies the principle of ‘one share - one vote’. Such a provision becomes necessary in order to prevent the manipulation of articles of association of a company with the intention of restricting voting rights, no matter how large the shareholding, for the purposes of preventing a contravention of the purely voting rights test of control of a company.
Changes in the ownership of shares in a company holding a licence, or of shares in a company having a shareholding interest in a licensee company are dealt with in proposed section 90j. It provides that the Minister’s approval must be sought in respect of transactions denned in that section which include the acquisition of shares which would amount to a prescribed interest and also where the holder of a prescribed interest becomes the holder of additional shares. Proposed section 90.7 (4.) states the grounds on which the Minister may refuse his approval.
The remaining proposed sections of the Bill relating to the ownership and control of broadcasting stations, with one exception, are extensions of similar provisions currently applying to television stations and are, I think, clear enough. The exception is proposed section 90a which refers to companies limited by guarantee to which I shall refer later.
At this stage, I should say that consideration has been given to the position of persons or companies who, by virtue of their present shareholdings in licensee or related companies, would be in breach of the Act when amended-. However, as was the case in respect of the 1965 legislation concerning television stations, it has been concluded that there would be serious difficulties in making the provisions of the Bill apply retrospectively in such cases. Accordingly, as indicated in my statement of 24th September 1968, it is proposed that no shareholding arrangement existing as at that date will be invalidated by the new provisions or will constitute an offence against the Act as amended. However, if a person or company who has acquired excess interests prior to 24th September 1968, subsequently divests himself of such interests be will not thereafter be entitled to recapture those holdings although he will be able to participate in any new issues of shares which may be made. This position is covered by section 90c.
Finally on this aspect of the Bill, I should point out that the provisions now proposed in respect of broadcasting stations differ from those currently in force in relation to television stations only in so far as the amount of shareholding interest constituting a prescribed interest is concerned and no regard is paid to loan interests. In the case of prescribed interests in relation to television stations a level of 5% shareholding was adopted whereas in the case of broadcasting stations a level of 15% is proposed. This course, together with the omission of any reference to loan interests, has been considered to be justified having regard to the fact that, in the main, the licences are held by private companies having a relatively small share capital.
As I mentioned earlier, my announcement of 19th March, 1969 foreshadowed an amendment to the ownership and control provisions of the Act relating to television stations to correct a shortcoming which had come to notice. I repeat here the relevant terms of my earlier statement on this matter. Section 92b (1.) (a), in dealing with control of television stations through voting rights, treats a person who is in a position to exercise control of more than 15% of the maximum number of votes that could be cast on a poll at, or arising out of, a general meeting of the company holding the licence, as being in a position to exercise control of that company. The limitation of this provision to the company holding the licence means that control based purely on more than 15% of voting rights cannot be traced through a series of companies. This limitation was unintentional. In most cases, the defect would not matter in practice, as other provisions of section 92b would operate to enable control to be traced through shareholding interests, irrespective of voting power. However, it appears that it may be possible to avoid these other provisions by the interposition of companies that do not have a share capital but are limited by guarantee.
In order to close these loopholes, a new section 91aa, together with an amendment to existing section 92b, are proposed. In clause 19, provision is made to protect any arrangements which may have been made, prior to my announcement of 19th March 1969, on this matter, although it is fairly certain that there are none. The amendments to the Act which are now proposed to cover the position of companies limited by guarantee have also been extended to embrace broadcasting stations. Proposed section 90a deals with this aspect.
I turn now to the provisions which are proposed for the purposes of facilitating the establishment of television services in remotely situated areas. As honourable members will be aware, continuous and persistent efforts have been, and are being made to extend television to areas which are, at present, not being served. The present position is that when the current sixth stage of development is completed during 1969-70 a coverage of the order of 96% of the population will have been achieved. The remaining 4% of the population is widely distributed over about 85% of the total land area. The low density of population in the areas remaining without service and the remote locations of such concentrations of population as do exist, present technical and economic difficulties in providing service and special measures are necessary. I hope shortly to be able to announce some of the measures which are to be adopted. I have mentioned this matter because it bears on the amendments which are proposed in this Bill in clause 10 to permit the licensing of what has been termed ‘television repeater stations’.
There are a number of small and remote communities in the Commonwealth, mainly mining centres, to which it is unlikely that service would ever be provided by normal type commercial stations and to which, because of the costs involved, the establishment of national stations is difficult to justify. A number of mining companies have indicated that they are prepared to establish and operate television stations of a modest character if the way can be made clear for them to do so. The scheme which has been proposed is that the companies concerned would meet the cost of establishing the transmitting facilities while the programmes would be provided by the Australian Broadcasting Commission at a central recording centre established for the purpose.
The establishment of the type of station to which 1 have referred gives rise, however, to some difficulties of a procedural and legal nature as the Act now stands. In the first place, the Act provides only for -the grant of licences for commercial television stations - as defined - involving a fairly complex procedure of inviting applications and the holding of public inquiries into them by the Broadcasting Control Board. Secondly, section 92d of the Act restricts overseas interests in television licences to 20% in the aggregate or 15% individually. Having regard to the present constitution of mining companies the latter provision would have the effect of placing an insurmountable obstacle in the way of such companies erecting and operating stations.
In the special conditions which prevail in respect of the particular areas concerned, no real objection can be seen to the control by mining interests of television stations which such companies may be prepared to operate in their area of activity. Indeed, it is. evident that unless the mining companies are placed in the position of being able to establish services there is little, if any, prospect of the residents of these remote areas having access to television. It is also clear that there is nothing to be gained from adhering to the present procedures prescribed in the Act in relation to the grant of licences. It is apparent that the only enterprise which would be interested in providing service in the areas concerned would be the organisation conducting the mining operations.
Accordingly, it is proposed in clause 10 that the Act be amended to include a new Division 5b to provide for the grant of licences for ‘television repeater stations’ and for their operation. The main features of the proposed provisions are that the Minister may grant licences on the recommendation of the Board and that the Board shall not recommend the grant if, in its opinion, satisfactory reception of programmes, is already being received in the area concerned. In clause 11 it is proposed that a new section 113a be inserted to authorise the Commission to make its programmes available to the type of station in question. 1 should point out that clause 4 proposes the insertion in section 4 of the Act a definition of ‘television repeater station’. It will be noted from this definition that the proposed stations in this category will be of low power and will be capable of transmitting only programmes, recorded on magnetic tape. The definition will, also have the effect of excluding such stations from the ownership and control provisions of the Act which are found in Division 3 of Part IV and the procedural requirements as to the grant of licences in Division 1 of Part IV.
The last matter I wish to mention is that relating to the broadcasting or. televising of election matter. Honourable members will. I think, be very familiar with the existing provisions of section 116 of the Act and will recall that I have on several occasions indicated that the Government was examining the whole question of the implications of the provisions of that section. As a result of this examination, it is now proposed in clause 12 of the Bill to amend the section to provide that the existing restriction on the transmission of election .matter, as defined, from midnight on Wednesday preceding the polling day to the close of the poli, will apply only to stations which are deemed to serve the area in which an election is being held, lt is proposed that the Board will, in respect of any by-election or State election, grant exemptions from compliance with this requirement to stations the transmissions from which are not ordinarily received in the area to which the election relates. The adoption of this amendment will alleviate considerably the many difficulties which the operators of stations have experienced in presenting programmes from which it has been necessary to exclude election matter during the restricted period. I think that I have covered in the foregoing the main features of the Bill. As I said at the commencement, it can be dealt with in greaeter detail during the Committee stages. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Kelly, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Under the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, the Commission is empowered to acquire and hold shares in an incorporated company. It was given this authority by the 1968 amendment to the Act. The amendment was introduced on the occasion of the Australian National Line’s proposed entry into the Australia-Japan shipping trade. It enabled the Commission legally to enter into joint ventures in shipping.
The Government’s joint venture arrangement with the member lines of Associated Container Transportation Ltd involving the operation by the Australian National Line of a container ship in the Australia-United Kingdom-Continent trade, is of this type. However, the Government is also proposing to acquire a share of the Australian land based facilities used to service the container ships and owned by the ACT lines. The purpose of acquiring a share of the land based facilities is to ensure that the Government has access to all costs and revenue details of the container ship operation.
Up to the present, three companies have been formed to own, operate and manage land based facilities of the ACT group in Australia. They are Trans-Ocean Containers Ltd, Freightbases Ltd and Terminal Properties Ltd. These companies have been formed fairly recently and are not yet fully operational or fully capitalised. Eventually they will own and control substantial assets in the form of land, buildings and container handling equipment.
The Commission’s investment in these Australian shore based facilities will be effected by taking a one-third share of the ACT lines’ equity in the three companies. In Trans-Ocean Containers Ltd and Freightbases Ltd this will mean that the Commission will hold one-third of the equity. In Terminal Properties Ltd it will hold only one-sixth equity representing the same share of the ACT group’s half equity in this company. The total cost of buying into these land based facilities in Australia is yet to be finally assessed, but will be of the order of $250,000.
Although the companies formed to establish the land based facilities are substantially owned by shipping interests, they will not be engaged in the provision and operation of shipping services as such. It is doubtful whether the present powers of the Commission are sufficiently wide to enable it to acquire the desired interest in the facilities. This Bill will ensure that the Commission has the necessary powers. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1727), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House on the alternative sites of Capital Hill and the Camp Hill area’ for the new and permanent Parliament House be adopted.
Upon which Mr Bryant had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the new and permanent Parliament House be situated on Capital Hill’.
– At the outset I should like to say that I was one of those who firmly supported the lake site. I still would support it if I had that opportunity. However, I no longer have that opportunity. I find that I cannot speak about the present choice - and it is a choice - between Camp Hill and Capital Hill without making at least some reference to the lake site. I suppose (hat really we are considering the whole of Canberra, or rather the whole of the area ranging from Capital Hill to the War Memorial as well as a considerable expanse of Lake Burley Griffin. I believe that the lake site was the largest, most prominent and most attractive site available. It was also right in what might be called the ‘forum’ - the national place. Apart from being the most dominant site it was the most central as well as tha one on both land and water axes. So it provided an opportunity for constructing a building with its feet on the ground in the forum or the national place and with sufficient height to balance both the land axis from the War Memorial to the Capital Hill and the water axis provided by Lake Burley Griffin. A balance could have been achieved even on the crossing of these axes by constructing a tall building with a gigantic arch in the middle to preserve visually both those lines of sight.
Both Houses of Parliament have voted against the lake site and this House now has before it a motion for the adoption of the report of the Joint Select Committee, which has recommended Camp Hill as the place for a new and permanent parliament house. We have an amendment to the motion calling for the site to be on Capital Hill. We had available three of the best building sites in Australia - the one beside the lake, the present site taking ii into account as being virtually the same as the Camp Hill site, and Capital Hill. By vote we have virtually decided to sacrifice two of them. To compound this sort of extravagance, Parliament has virtually voted, whichever site is chosen, for the destruction of this House. Only the lake site would have preserved this building. I believe that it could have a long life as a conference building. 1 do not accept the Committee’s view that its suitability for conventions of up to about 300 representatives is far too limited. I think that this building could handle a lot of conventions and conventions any bigger than a group of 300 are more like rallies, anyhow.
As I have said, we have been extravagant, and we have missed the opportunity to preserve this building with its history. Probably this aspect has more appeal to older members than it has to me, but 1 am certainly not unconscious of it. As a firm lakessider I found myself by natural progression an advocate of the Camp Hill site until I read the Committee’s report and had a look at the display in the library and made some inspections of the sites when I found time to do so. After such study as I was able to give I now find I am about fiftyfifty on the two sites. If I lean either way, I am inclined to vote for . Capital Hill, although I shall not commit myself until I have heard the rest of this debate.
From the earlier evidence presented, honourable members know that Burley Griffin intended to put a building on Capital Hill. He thought of it as a popular reception and ceremonial building, where archives could be stored and with a gallery of some sort, rather than a building for deliberation or counsel - a building similar to the national centre that is currently proposed for another site. Griffin discarded the possibility of placing the Houses of Parliament on Capital Hill because he considered that two Houses precluded making it a focal centre. The NCDC’s report of 1967 contains that statement. The Committee mentions in its report that Burley Griffin in some of his supporting papers said that the Hill could have other forms of treatment. For example, it could be terraced and have some kind of: a marking stick on top of it, such as is apparently now proposed. I would feel a little more inclined towards the Camp, Hill site if it were proposed to put a large, dominant building of a commemorative or gallery type on top of Capital Hill.
But that is not the proposal at all. The best one I have heard is to retain the existing flagpole. The worst I have heard is to have that funny looking fence post strainer that appears in the exhibition in the Parliamentary Library. I cannot imagine anything less inspiring as a focal point. However. I take it that the flagpole may survive if it turns out that we build on Camp Hill.
– This would be a matter for Parliament.
– I am very glad to have the Minister’s assurance that this would be a matter for Parliament. However, the choice now is between Camp Hill and Capital Hill - between the bump and the mound. The height of either of these knobs is, I believe, fairly irrelevant. From the design point of view the whole area under examination can be regarded virtually as flat, even though the little bit of height available will probably help with the design in the long run. Nobody can say that Camp Hill is a dominant height. The Committee has gone to some trouble to point out that visually Capital Hill is no higher, so personally I discount any element of height. From the point of view of the ground plan, the Camp Hill site is already far enough away from the forum or the national place, which is already half built, to be dislocated from it and it is not much further to Capital Hill - only another few hundred yards. I appreciate the crane that was erected on Camp Hill. I think it has helped us to get some idea of the site.
The Committee and the National Capital Development Commission have, in my view, done an excellent job in preparing the exhibition in the Library. It is first class in many ways but it is spoilt by just going a little too far with the visual comparison between the two sites. In fact it is, as the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) said, partially an exercise in visual semantics. Not only has the NCDC put the Camp Hill site visually higher than it would be, or at least higher relative to the Capital Hill site, but it has also flattened the Capital Hill site visually and extended the perspective. To make sure that the comparison really got home, the scale of the Capital Hill drawing is a little smaller than that of the Camp Hill drawing. The same comment applies to the size of the drawing. There are a lot of other points about the exhibition, although in many ways it is very good. There is the point which other members have raised that the design of the buildings in the exhibition begs the question more than somewhat.
As many of the advocates of Capital Hill stressed the visual aspects from the roads running to the hill, in the design for Capital Hill the Commission has put a rectangular thing with the corners pointing towards the roads. Anybody wishing to see the roads would have to lean sideways out of the building. Anybody approaching the building would see only a corner of it. The Commission has provided something in a shape least likely to go on Capital Hill. Both representations of buildings are more like a few cigar boxes put together. Nevertheless the exhibition still gives us a far better impression of what we are considering and what the debate is about than we would have had without it. So although I am critical of the unnecessary bias displayed in parts of the exhibition I am nonetheless very grateful to the people who constructed it, just as I am particularly grateful to those who have produced this excellent illustrated report, which has assisted me, admittedly, to graduate from being a fairly firm Camp Hill man to one balancing fifty-fifty between Camp Hill and Capital Hill.
There is another aspect to the Capital Hill site. I went to the foot of the crane erected on Camp Hill to look at the site. I took into account the fact that the buildings on either side would be dismantled. I climbed the crane to a height of about 82 feet. The crane held a marker at a height of 132 feet. I was not able to get anywhere near that height but at 82 feet I got a very good bird’s eye view of the entire area. Although it is nol the sort of view you would necessarily have from any part of a building, you realise, once you can see the whole of the area, that it is not very far to Capital Hill and if the treatment of the land and roads between Capital Hill and Camp Hill is well done this could become virtually part of the same area. So it becomes a little specious to talk of the existing parliamentary zone and the Camp Hill triangle as though these were completely static shapes. The circle could come in to the top of the triangle and either way we would have plenty of room. From the point of view of Burley Griffin’s plan - his land and water axes - it is actually more balanced to put parliament house on Capital Hill because as far as I can make out it is almost exactly the same distance from the centre of Capital Hill to the middle of the Lake as from the middle of the Lake to the War Memorial. Because it is virtually flat, visually that avenue up to the War Memorial is not too long in my opinion. It has been argued that this whole axis, which would be approaching 3 miles in length, is too long. I cannot see that it is too long visually or in any other way. 1 think it would provide a reasonable balance with the much more dominant axis of Lake Burley Griffin.
– I do not think you were ever a lake man.
– I was indeed a lake man. Let me now refer to Burley Griffin’s design and the way people see it. One of the most interesting pieces of evidence given to the Committee was that given by Mr Jonathan Rudduck, who is studying town planning at the Goldstein College in Kensington, New South Wales. He proposed a sky axis to provide a third dimension to the water and land axes. Senator Murphy asked Mr Rudduck to comment further on his proposal. Mr Rudduck said:
J fee) that the greatest force of a very strong vertical element in this central area is achieved when it is put very close to the intersection of the land axis and the water axis.
I believe this could have been achieved if we had erected parliament house to =» height of 300 feet or more on the lake site. We would have had parliament house as the only skyscraper in Canberra. Rising from a lower site it would have been more dramatic than if perched on a hill. Mr Rudduck suggested that the sky axis should be high enough to be seen from all parts of Canberra or at least from the centre of the new development in Canberra. He was not thinking necessarily of the building. He said:
Why have a high visual feature? It gives people the opportunity to communicate at least visually with the centre of Canberra. Although they live several miles away in Belconnen they can still feel part of the centre of Canberra.
He said that the highest such structure in the world at present is in Moscow and it is SOO metres high. He said:
I believe that we have plenty of stamina, guts and gumption in Australia to go a little higher than the Russians, perhaps only 50 metres higher but still higher.
I applaud that statement. If we are going to build on either of the hill sites I think we could have a vertical axis and it could be 550 or even 600 metres high. I realise that there is. already a proposition for a water spout of the order of 250 feet in the lake and that this will propel upwards of 7 tons of water. It will provide quite a dramatic vertical piece in the design. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in questioning Mr Rudduck at the Committee meeting, expressed his interest and said that he believed there are columns of water in Geneva and on the lakeside in Chicago 300 feet and 1,000 feet high respectively. Obviously water can be projected to quite incredible heights. However we have lost the opportunity to utilise what was the best, most graceful and most attractive site - the lakeside site. We are now stuck with the choice of two hills, or rather a bump on the side of a hill and the hill itself. I do not believe there is anything in the design, the access or the space which really recommends one site as against - the other in any overwhelming sense. However 1 feel that the Capital Hill site does give a little more room and a little more apartness, since we are already divorced from the forum of the national place. Although I am not. yet committing myself as to the way I am going to vote on this matter, 1 am presently inclined to support Capital Hill.
I am not at all impressed by the avenues of roads leading up to Capital Hill. 1 should like to bend them before they get to Capital Hill. T am not impressed by the suggestion of having something symbolic on Capital Hill or in the middle of a traffic roundabout. 1 am not interested, in, traffic: I do not want to look at traffic and 1. do not want traffic looking at a building in which I happen to be. But disregarding this and trying not to over-react against the bias that I saw in some parts of the report and in the display, 1 believe we have done the extravagant thing in chucking out two beautiful sites and leaving ourselves with one out of three, but .between . the two I will probably be inclined - towards the Capital Hill site. I will hear the rest of the debate before deciding my vote. Either way, 1 hope that we will not delay this project forever. We should get on with the job of building a new and permanent parliament house and, perhaps taking on electoral risk, do so without too much delay.
– Politics makes strange bedfellows. I thought for a few moments that I might be sharing a gunyah on Camp Hill with the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro); but he seems to have left himself standing on the saddle between Camp Hill and Capital Hill with a merino ram on one side and a question mark on the other. He will have to make up his mind when it comes to a vote unless he wants to walk down the centre of the table to the discomfort of Mr Speaker.
– I want to hear what you have to say.
– I shall do my best to convert the honourable member. The Joint Select Committee which examined evidence from expert witnesses and which had sent members abroad to study other houses of parliament was presided over by the President of the Senate (Sir Alister McMullin), with Mr Speaker (Hon. W. J. Aston) as deputy chairman. The Committee included the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen), the Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam), the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and thirteen other assorted senators and members from all parties. Only two members of the Committee, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), disagreed with the Committee’s Camp Hill recommendation. They presented a dissenting report favouring Capital Hill and, of course, this is the basis of the amendment which is before the House. In view of the overwhelming support given by the Committee to the Camp Hill site I found it quite extraordinary to detect among members present in the chamber last night fairly wide support for the Capital Hill site. On the occasions on which this question has been before the House the debate has provoked both acrimony and levity, and as you Mr Deputy Speaker will realise and as Mr Speaker pointed out, these are equally to be deplored. But when the House debated this question last year we had before us a choice of only two sites, the lakeside or Capital Hill.
It will be recalled that 10 years earlier in 1958 the Menzies Cabinet, without consulting the Parliament, had taken a decision that the new and permanent parliament house should be built on a lakeside site. This decision was reinforced by a majority decision of the Joint Select Committee in November 1967. In accordance with the wishes of the Government, and in order to facilitate debate in both Houses, the Committee on 14th August last year brought up a special report embodying the findings of the November 1967 report. The following day the Prime Minister moved for the establishment of the new and permanent parliament house on the lakeside site. He moved, technically, for the selection of that site as the site for the new building. This . motion was seconded by the Leader of the Opposition. In the subsequent debate members of both sides of the House had a free vote. Extraordinary heat was engendered in the debate last year and I think that honourable members will recall that there was a strongly organised campaign to seek to persuade members to vote for the Capital Hill site. Those who organised this campaign were both energetic and astute. They produced and distributed written material designed to persuade their parliamentary colleagues into voting for the Capital Hill site. I think it is fair to say - certainly it is in my view - that much of this advocacy was sponsored not so much by strong beliefs favouring the Capital Hill site as by a desire to rebuff and humiliate parliamentary leaders on both sides of tha House. Members of both sides of the House were parties to this campaign. It became evident that the campaign would succeed and there was little surprise indeed when the Senate on 22nd August voted 42 to 6 in favour of the Capital Hill site.
The present debate results from a decision of this House in October and confirmed by the Senate in November that the matter of the alternative sites on Capital Hill and Camp Hill should be referred back to the Joint Select Committee for investigation and report. It is the report of that Committee that we are discussing now on a motion from the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) for the adoption of the report, and an amendment which seeks to have the Parliament determine that the new house shall be built on Capital Hill. Last year when the choice was between the lakeside and Capital Hill I was for the lakeside site. Today when the choice is between Capital Hill and Camp Hill I favour the Camp Hill site. Accordingly I support the motion and oppose the amendment.
I am not one who believes that we should accept without question the opinions or the advice of experts. Too often the expert is standing too close to be able to see the full picture. I agree that proper regard must be given to the ability, training, professional skill and experience of the experts. But 1 think that we achieve the best result when the views or the evidence of the experts is assessed by a committee of laymen. It is the laymen who must make the decision after assessing the worth of evidence on conflicting points of view. This, of course, is the system we use under trial by jury in our courts of law. It is a system ‘hat we use in the procedures of the committees of this Parliament and it is, in theory at least, the system that we use in the Parliament itself, although in general members vote in accordance with decisions made by their parties, it is rare that we have the opportunity, as we have on this occasion, for the expert laymen of this Parliament to express individual viewpoints and record individual votes.
There has been a lot of what could be described at highfalutin, airy-fairy talk about this subject. J think that the ordinary man or woman in the street would barely understand the grandiose verbiage of some of the architects and planners. The report where it quotes from evidence is thick with these examples and one could pick it up and quote them almost ad nauseam. 1 do not know that 1 could set down explicit reasons for my preference for Camp Hill. I can only say that from my own survey and my own examination I prefer Camp Hill as the site for the new parliament house. 1 believe that I would always have preferred Camp Hill had we not been assured last year that Camp Hill could not be taken into consideration because of the existence of this present building. So I have no hesitation at all in expressing my opinion as favouring the Camp Hill site, and I hope that the Parliament will carry the resolution and defeat the amendment.
But whatever decision is made the Parliament will accept. Obviously the opinions of all members within this chamber and all members within the other place are of equal value and their votes are of equal value when the bells are rung. 1 think that a decision must be made and the site set apart. But I repeat what I said in the debate on the subject last year: In my view there is no real need at the present for a new parliament house. I find this building quite satisfactory for the purposes of the Parliament as it is at present, and I do not doubt that this building could be made to work effectively as a parliament house for another 20 or 25 years.
– That is ridiculous.
– It may be ridiculous, but I am expressing my viewpoint at the moment and that is very strongly my viewpoint. We have a responsibility to the people and to the taxpayers of this country.
– Does the honourable member have an office to himself?
– I have indeed, as the honourable member has in his electorate. This is my electorate and I have an office to myself here in my electorate.
– The honourable member should have it in the electorate.
– It is in the electorate. The honourable member is sitting in my electorate. All these people who are interjecting are sitting in my electorate. I am glad to have them here. I miss them when they go, but if they never come back I will not miss them. I honestly believe that this Parliament building could be made satisfactory for the purpose of Parliament for another 20 or 25 years.
– The honourable member does not have his meals here.
– I have had my meals here for a good many years, and I have been a member of this place for 18 years, Fortunately I have bien able to have my meals in a position in the dining room from which I do not have to watch the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). 1 repeat that I believe that the decision must be made and the site must be set aside, but I believe that there is no present need for the construction of a new parliament house. I believe that this building as it stands is adequate for the present number of members and senators. It can be made adequate, with additions, foi the purposes of Parliament for perhaps another quarter of a century, by which time it may be necessary to build the new parliament house on Capital Hill. I would envisage, if I may say so, the construction of the new building being put in hand during the life of the first Daly Ministry and at that time I will be graciously pleased to send a message to Mr Speaker recommending an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of legislation authorising the construction of the new building.
– I am one of the few members of the House who has not spoken in the previous debates on this subject. I do not intend to speak for very long tonight because I think that when this matter was debated in this House last year and again yesterday and today most of the arguments were covered. I do not feel that we should hold up the business of the House by discussing and just reiterating the same statements over and over again. For that reason I shall be brief.
– Hear, hear!
– I appreciate that ‘Hear, hear!’ coming from the Opposition. I do not think that being brief applies only to this debate; it applies also to a number of debates. I think that many members of the House should cut down on the length of time for which they speak. Originally the choice that we were given was between the hill site and the lake site. 1 was one who felt that we could have a good parliament house on either site. I tended to favour the lake at that time because I felt that it would have been quite a beautiful position, but I did feel that it would have lost the expansive view that we get from the present Parliament House when we go out on to the front steps here and look over Parkes Place across the lake to Anzac Avenue and the Australian War Memorial. It is a beautiful view in the day time or at night time. The latest I have sat in this House was a year or so ago, when Parliament sat until about 4.30 a.m. I remember walking out the front door that morning, feeling tired and looking at the view-
– And bleary eyed.
– Yes bleary eyed, and looking at the view across the lake to the War Memorial and still thinking what a beautiful view it was. Whenever I fly over Capital Hill coming up from Melbourne in an aeroplane I am always terribly conscious of this circle of traffic going around and around State Circle with all the traffic feeding in from two highways that come across the lake. This is one thing that has always worried me about Capital Hill. It tended to make me feel that perhaps Capital Hill was not the best site for the new parliament house. Now we have been given the opportunity to choose Camp Hill. I think that there are certain advantages about Camp Hill. It retains the same view that we get from the present Parliament House across to the War Memorial and, if anything, it betters it because it is a little behind and a little above the present site but is not so far behind or so far above that we lose the view in the immediate distance.
One honourable member said yesterday that we do not want an ivory tower stuck up on top of the hill. I am inclined to agree. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), when he spoke on this subject originally, said that Parliament House should not be set apart; it should be part of the people. I feel that Camp Hill site still keeps Parliament House within the parliamentary triangle. Indeed, it sets it off at the apex of the triangle and it is away from this whirling traffic on State Circle. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) made the point that there was not enough room on Camp Hill. 1 think that most of us are agreed that eventually the present Parliament House will have to go. It will, as we have been told by the experts, become too uneconomic to keep going. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) has informed the House that one site is 150 acres and the other 160 acres. I should imagine that when the present Parliament House is eventually demolished there will be more land available around the Camp Hill site than there is around the Capital Hill site. It has been suggested that the present Parliament House be kept as a museum. I would not like to see that happen because wherever the new Parliament House is erected, whether on Capital Hill or Camp Hill, it would be looking down on the present building. Somebody suggested that the present building could be kept as a museum. Presumably waxworks figures could be made of all of us sitting around so that people could come in and say: “That was the House of 1969.’ I do hot think that anybody would be particularly amused by or interested in seeing waxworks figures of us.
I do not claim to be an expert on this subject, but I feel that I represent the ordinary, average Australian. Like most average Australians, I would like to see a good parliament house erected in our own capital, Canberra. I would like to see it erected as near as possible to the historical site on which the present Parliament House stands. If it were erected on the Camp Hill site it would be fairly close. I am concerned to some extent with the length of time we will have to wait before a new building is erected. 1 have heard some honourable members say that it will be anything from 10 to 20 years before we get it, if we get it at all. I have heard others say that it will not come in their time. Unlike the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser), I share an office with two other members of Parliament, lt is not easy to work with three people in the one office. I share an office with the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) and the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland), who is a new member of the House. But we are not the only ones who work, three to an office. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) share an office. It is most difficult to work under those conditions. I do not want to quibble about the fact that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has an office to himself. Good luck to him. But, although this is his electorate, I do not think it is necessary for him to have his headquarters in Parliament House. I believe that he could have an office in Civic Centre and still share another office in this building with one or two honourable members as others have to do. I feel that that is fair.
I do not know the reason for the delay in going ahead with the building of a new parliament house. Is it because of the cost? Is it because some honourable members or members of the Government are scared that some people may say that it is extravagant to spend such a large sum of money on a new parliament house? I do not think that the average Australian would take this view. But if it is necessary to have a new building let us find some way of financing it When I was in Sydney recently at an area conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association I went out into the electorate of Barton to visit the St George Leagues Club, of which the honourable member for Barton (Mr Arthur) is so proud. It is a beautiful building. It probably cost far more than the new parliament house will cost and it was financed by the one-armed bandits. I stood there and watched the people pulling away at the handles of these machines. What did they get out of them? Usually nothing except the building. I am not suggesting that the Parliament should install onearmed bandits in King’s Hall, although I have been told that at one stage there was a roulette wheel up in the Press Gallery. I am going back to the 1930s now. I believe that the then Speaker ordered that the wheel be taken away because a quorum could not be kept in the House. I am not suggesting that the new parliament house should be financed from the receipts from one-armed bandits, roulette wheels or even an opera house type lottery. In fact, even with the opera house lottery, Sydney does not yet have an opera house. But I am concerned that members of the Parliament have to share an office with others. One cannot work properly and efficiently as a member of the Parliament when one is sharing an office. I think that it is time that something was done about the matter. If we have to wait another 20 years for a new parliament house to be erected then it is time that extensions were put on to the present building so that we can all have decent accommodation to work in.
I do not want to reiterate the previous arguments that have been put, but I want to say several things. Firstly, I think we should make a final decision on the location of the new building and we should do so as quickly as possible. I hope that once the decision is made it will not be too long before something is done about getting on with the erection of the building. The other thing I wish to say is that the present building is inadequate, as I have just said, in terms of space and I am sure that the work and the efficiency of the members of the Parliament suffer because of this. As has been pointed out, the economic life of the present building is nearing the end. Maintenance costs will rise rapidly in the future. I think that most of us agree that the new parliament house must be preeminent, but at the same time it should be complementary to the design of the parliamentary triangle. It is for these reasons that I come down on the side of the Camp Hill site.
The Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House has recommended the Camp Hill site and has supported its recommendation with what 1 believe are convincing arguments. Burley Griffin himself planned for Camp Hill as the site of the parliament house. I do not think that we can ignore this fact, no matter how hard or fast the honourable member for Wills talks in favour of the Capital Hill site. His main argument in favour of the Capital Hill site seemed to be that it was the most dominant point. But the Committee has shown that a building on Camp Hill would be more dominant than one on Capital Hill, which is half a mile behind Camp Hill. There are many arguments in support of the placing of the new parliament house on Camp Hill, but, as I said earlier, I would only be reiterating what other honourable members have already said and I would be taking up the time of the House needlessly by going through them again. However, I appeal to honourable members not to be stampeded by fast talking into accepting the Capital Hill site. We should give due weight to the views of Burley Griffin and the Committee; we should not ignore their recommendations.
Mi- UREN (Reid) [9.47]- This is the second occasion on which the House has debated the proposed site for the new and permanent parliament house. On the first occasion I said that the National Capital Development Commission was trying to use the Parliament as a rubber stamp. Frankly, if one looks at the case that was put forward on that occasion one must agree that the Commission was trying to use the Parliament as a rubber stamp. We were told that there was to be an open vote on the site, but we had the NCDC putting a case only for the lakeside site. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the
Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and all members of Cabinet with the exception of the present Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, who was then Minister for External Affairs, lined up in support of the lakeside site. The establishment had decided upon the lakeside site and the only case that was put forward by the Government was a case in favour of the lakeside site. Strange as it may seem, democracy functioned and the members of this House and the members of the other place decided by an overwhelming majority that they did not favour the building of the new parliament house on the lakeside.
In fairness to the NCDC I should state that it has prepared a very fine case on this occasion. I must commend it for its presentation. 1 am not trying to take a side swipe at the NCDC, but I think that the dice are still a little loaded in favour of the Camp Hill site. We are making a decision for posterity. Those people who have been overseas and have had the opportunity of visiting Washington D.C. will realise that the early planners and the early thinkers were planning for over a century ahead. In 1790 they set aside 130 acres on which the Capital was to be built. In fact, the Camp Hill site contains only 30 acres. Even if the present Parliament House and the two administrative buildings were demolished the site would still contain only 60 acres. But if we consider all the area within State Circle, the Capital Hill site contains 130 acres. I support the proposition that our capital is the symbol of the nation. Our capital has been planned. We are a young nation, and Canberra is a symbol of our nation. I hope that the new and permanent parliament house will be worthy of that symbol. If it is built on Capital Hill and if it is accepted as a symbol, I am all for it.
Some people say that if we placed the new parliament house on Capital Hill we would divorce it from the people. I do not think anybody could argue that I am a parliamentarian who tries to divorce himself from the people. I am a parliamentarian who supports demonstrations. I hope that we see demonstrations held in front of Parliament House in order to keep parliamentarians facing up to their responsibilities. There are many members of Parliament who do want to see any agitation from their constituents from one general election to the next, 3 years later. I am all for Parlaiment House being a symbol, and I hope that the people keep it that way. I was greatly impressed when I visited Washington. I stood in front of Lee’s Mansion in Arlington Cemetery, under that magnificent ginkgo tree, and looked down that beautiful avenue to the Lincoln Memorial. I remember how impressive it looked. I can envisage something similar in Canberra if the new parliament house is built on Capital HAI. People will be able to look along Commonwealth Avenue or Kings Avenue and see a sight similar to that of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
It has been argued that if the new parliament house is built on Capital Hill it will look down over a lot of backyards and that that will not be a very nice sight. I commend the National Capital Development Commission on the splendid job it has done in planning Canberra. It has planted lovely birches, beeches, oaks and elms, which blend with the magnificent gum trees to soften the landscape and make Canberra a city which represents an international outlook, I believe that this is a real achievement. When one looks down from Red Hill to Yarralumla, Deakin, Hughes and other suburbs in the Woden Valley one sees this softness and gentleness. In spring one sees the blossom and the new growth of Australian gums and in autumn one sees the beautiful autumn foliage of the trees from the northern hemisphere. It seems to me that if an imposing building were constructed on Capital Hill it would add to this beautiful city. At present our nation has a population of only 12 million people, but one day we will have a population of over 100 million people. This is why we must plan today and we must think for generations ahead. We must prevent this confined feeling.
I was against the proposal to build the new parliament house on the lakeside site. I expressed the view that it should be built on Capital Hill because one can look from Capital Hill across to the War Memorial. On the last occasion when this question was debated I was the only member in this Parliament who said: ‘As far as I am concerned, I want the new parliament house on Capital Hill. I want to demolish the present Parliament House. I want the permanent Parliament House to have an unimpeded view for the 2i miles to the War Memorial.’ Canberra is surrounded by lovely hills. It is a beautiful capital. We want to make something symbolic of it. Lord Holford warned that the parliamentary triangle was being over built. I want to have the new parliament house as the only building on Capital Hill. I want to look from Capital Hill and see the beautiful National Library, which has now been constructed, and also our courts which will balance up the triangle. We will have parliament house, the legislature, on Capital Hill. On one side we will have the National Library, from which will come knowledge, and on the other side we will have the High Court from which, I hope, justice will come. This is how I envisage it. We should plan for a great future.
I know that the National Capital Development Commission has made mistakes. One mistake is the planning as regards traffic. If the new parliament house is to be built on Capital Hill, 1 think it is about time that the National Capital Development Commission started to do some replanning as regards traffic; something can be done in respect of traffic. The fact remains that we want to make sure that Canberra is a symbolic capital. I hope that the parliamentarians who work and live in Canberra will try to maintain that symbol. Even though I disagree with people on many things, I have always tried to be fair on this question. I hope that we try to make the new parliament house a symbol of the nation. I hope that we can make it a beautiful parliament house. The only building which approaches international architectural standard is the National Library. In the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House a warning is given that it will be a challenge to construct on Capital Hill a building of real architectural design. But is not that a fact of life? Surely the most wonderful things in this country have been done under difficulty. We can build under difficulty. Certainly we have a magnificent position on which to build the new parliament house.
On the last occasion when we discussed this matter certain honourable members pooh-poohed the idea that we should build the new parliament house on Capital Hill. They wanted it built on the lakeside site. Most of them, wilh rare exceptions, have followed the leadership of the National Capital Development Commission. They now say that the new parliament house should be built on Camp Hill. Not only do these people want to demolish the present Parliament House, but they also want to demolish the two administrative buildings. But even then, the Camp Hill site will contain an area of only 60 acres. I hope that members of this Parliament will exercise their democratic rights and determine that the new parliament house should be built on Capital Hill. Then we will be able to plan correctly.
As regards getting on with the job of building the new parliament house, there are always people who want to be conservative and who say: ‘Let us not do something now. Let us wait 20 years.’ 1 do not agree with people who adopt this conservative attitude. I believe that we should start to move now. We should start to plan. I think it is about time we got on with the business of building a new parliament house. We should plan a building in which we can carry on the business of this nation not only for a few years ahead but for a century ahead. I support the amendment which was moved by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), and T hope that a majority of members in this place and in the other place support the proposal to build the new parliament house on Capital Hill.
– No-one knows whether we will get a majority in this House and in the other place in favour of one site or the other for the new parliament house. Tonight we are talking about the choice between Camp Hill and Capital Hill as a site for the new parliament house. I am very surprised to find that a lot of honourable members seem to be rather confused about what is involved in these two sites. [Quorum formed.] I am greatly indebted to my friend, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who directed attention to the state of the House and enabled a quorum to be formed. I understand that he is next to speak. Apparently he does not expect me to speak for very long and he hoped that sufficient honourable members would come into the House to form a quorum and would be here to hear him.
– They certainly would not have come here otherwise.
– That is the only reason they would come into the House. But at 10 o’clock at night 1 feel that this debate has been going on for too long. The only reason why 1 rise to speak in this debate is to make the point that it would be a great pity if this House did not sit for as long as it is possible to sit. The Parliament is filling in time with something that is not really legislation. It is filling in lime by debating a subject on which everyone in this House has already made, up his mind.
– I have not made up my mind yet.
– My friend, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro, says he has not made up his mind yet. He has spoken tonight in favour of Capital Hill. Yet, he still does not know whether he wants the new parliament house to be on Capital Hill or Camp Hill. What is the difference between Camp Hill and Capital Hill? It is SO feet. Anyone who likes to make an issue of this is just playing politics. We have been filling in time for the whole of this session because the Government does not have any business. The Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) has no right-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I ask the honourable member to resume bis seat. I point out that we are debating the matter of the site of the new parliament house. We are not debating the procedures of the Parliament or any other extraneous issues. I ask the honourable member to keep to the matter before the Chair.
– My audience has been querying my bona fides in speaking at all. I point out to them that I have another 15 minutes left. I am helping the Government to keep us here at a late hour when it is not necessary for the House to be sitting at all. I can see no reason why the House should be kept in session.
-Order! I have already asked the honourable member to keep to the matter before the Chair which is the question of choosing between Capital Hill and Camp Hill. If the honourable member persists in disobeying the Chair, I shall have to take action.
– 1 defer to your ruling. I hope I have made my point. Sir we have heard people put forward arguments in respect of the two sites. The only difference between the two sites is 50 feet. Most of the honourable members who have spoken have done so in an emotional vein and for some reason or other they have preferred one site to the other.
– One is the centre of Canberra and the other is not.
– Are you in favour of pulling down this place?
– If I may be allowed to get on with what I am saying, instead of interjecting-
-Order! I point out to the honourable member that unless he is prepared to speak to the matter before the Chair I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.
– If honourable members will observe a little bit of order, I would be very pleased to speak.
-I ask the House to come to order and enable the honourable member to speak.
– With your assistance, Mr Deputy Speaker, I hope I will be allowed to continue. I have made the point that the difference between the two sites is only 50 feet. Whether the new parliament house is on the top of the hill or a little way down the hill is a very minor aspect of the question which is before the House tonight. I believe that the main thing is that we should have a new parliament house.
The only reason I have risen - I should not have said ‘the only reason’ because you, Sir, have ruled against me and I am not allowed to speak about the real reason I rose tonight - but the other reason I rose tonight is to make a plea that we will have a new parliament house now that we have a choice of two sites. Some thought is in the minds of people who have to provide moneys for these buildings that accommodation in this place is entirely inadequate. Mention has been made of the fact that there are some people who share an office with two others. I share an office with one other member. One of my friends says that he shares a dog box and not an office at all. The main thought that I would like to bring to the attention of honourable members is this: We have a Parliament House which has been on this site as a temporary building. As all honourable members know, this building leaks every time there is a decent rain storm. The accommodation in it is completely inadequate, in spite of what the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr J. R. Fraser) had to say. The honourable member said that he is quite happy with his office. Because he happens to live in the Australian Capital Territory he can use his electorate office in Parliament House instead of having to establish one out in the electorate, as other honourable members are obliged to do. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory takes advantage of the fact that he has accommodation here and it saves him having to move around. But this is not the point. We are not here to provide for the comfort of one or two honourable members who happen to live so close to this area that they can use this building as their main office. Other honourable members are obliged to have their offices in the electorate or in the capital city of the State from which they come.
This Parliament House is not adequate to meet the requirements of a national parliament for the people of a nation which, I am told proudly by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), one day will have a population of 100 million. The honourable member said that we are looking forward to the time when we will have a population of 100 million people and not 12 million. We will have to build a Parliament House to suit that population. I appeal to you, Mr Speaker, and to all those people on the committees that are involved with the amenities of this Parliament House, to give us the opportunity to enjoy the facilities which should be forthcoming for the people who are obliged to come here and to try and do their best to run this country in the way it should be run. We are entitled to a little more consideration than is being given to us now.
My appeal is for a new parliament house building, whether it be on Camp Hill or Capital Hill. I assure the House that my own feeling is that the new building should be on Camp Hill and that this present building should be bulldozed out of the way. It would be nonsense to retain the back portion of this building as part of the background or a composite thing on which you could build a new parliament house. It would be unthinkable. There are strains in all the corners of this building and cracks in the roof. If we were to try and tear down some of these dog boxes which honourable members now use as offices, the whole place would fall to bits. The cost of retaining this building as a building would be enormous. My appeal is that the Camp Hill site be chosen as the site for the new and permanent parliament house. But more particularly I ask the Government, the committees concerned with this building, the people who advise the Government on these matters - I even humble myself to the NCDC; goodness only knows that I have had a lot of business with the Commission - to recommend the construction of a parliament house building that is fitting to the requirements of this nation.
I know that there are plans now to reorganise this building, to refurbish the back part of it so that it will be usable for another 25 years. I deplore this suggestion. The facilities in this building for providing meals to the hundreds of people who work here are totally inadequate, and they have been inadequate for a very long time. Improvements to overcome this inadequacy have been held up by the fact that the NCDC has an elaborate plan for the refurbishing of the back part of this building. This plan is a retrograde step and I appeal to those people who are putting forward this particular viewpoint to scrub the idea. Let us get on with the building of a new parliament house on the Camp Hill site. Again I appeal to those people who are concerned with trying to provide the facilities that there should be in this place to put aside any thought of refurbishing this building, which, as I have already said, is totally inadequate. It is impossible to provide in it the facilities to enable honourable members to conduct their business in a normal way and on standards that are available to outside organisations. 1 hope that when the decision is taken tonight it will be taken properly and that plans will immediately be put in hand to commence the new building on Camp Hill. I support the Camp Hill site.
– This debate is one of the rare occasions when honourable members on both sides are free to express their points of view, irrespective of Party decisions. The citizens of this country who are in the public gallery tonight are witnessing an occasion which happens about once every 10 years. These citizens will shortly see when the division is taken that honourable members on the Government side will walk across the floor to this side and honourable members on this side will walk across the floor to the Government side of the House. No-one knows at this stage how the vote will go. No-one could bet at this minute what will happen when the numbers are counted. I hope that ultimately when the numbers are counted the Parliament will decide - even though it may be by a small majority - to vote in favour of placing the new parliament house building on the top of Capital Hill.
This is one of the most important decisions honourable members have been called upon to make as Australian citizens. Some of us will not be here when the new building is erected. That will depend on when it is erected. Speaking for myself I want, to say that I do not care when the new building is commenced, but I do realise that we have to decide where the new building will be when it is built and that decision has to be made now. Until that decision is made the National Capital Development Commission cannot continue with its planning of traffic lanes, lt cannot decide ultimately what it will do with the ring road. It cannot decide where the subsidiary buildings, the art galleries and other buildings, are to be placed. Therefore we have to decide now where this new building will be built, when it is built.
Honourable members who supported the lakeside site, having been defeated in their choice for the lake site, now have to choose whether the building will be on Capital Hill or on the smaller hill in front of it, which is Camp Hill. They have to choose the greater of two hills in order to avoid the greater of two ills. We have to decide in simple terms whether we will have a hill site of 30 acres which will require the demolition of this building or whether we will have a higher hill of 130 acres which will not require the demolition of this old building the future of which we are now debating. This vote tonight is of necessity for the demolition of this building, or for or against national vandalism.
-Order! There is far too much conversation in the House.
– I believe that the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House was unduly influenced in its decision by the experts who presented evidence to it. I believe that this Committee, as is so often the case with committees, has allowed the experts to do much of the thinking for it. It is the easy way for a committee to let somebody else think for it. Too often have committees allowed this to occur. There is no shadow of doubt that this Committee has let it happen on this occasion, that on this occasion the experts have done the thinking for the Committee. Let us not forget that the experts who influenced the thinking of the Committee on this occasion are the very same experts who said that the new building ought to be on the lakeside. The Parliament rejected that idea. Let us not forget that a Senate Select Committee in 19SS voted in favour of Capital Hill. The Capital Hill site was subsequently endorsed in 1937 by the then President of the Senate and the then Speaker of the House of Representatives. Let us not forget that we are still stuck with a 42 to 6 decision of the Senate that the new building should be placed on Capital Hill. That decision of the Senate is still with us.
I want to say something to those people who want to demolish this building, those national vandals who want to destroy the only piece of national history that Australia has. The only national building that this nation has which it can point to as something that belongs to it as a united nation is this Parliament House. The first and only parliament house of our own as a Commonwealth is the one in which we now stand. The hundreds of thousands of people who have visited this building, the hundreds of thousands of people who have sal in the galleries and listened to the debates, every one of the people sitting up there now, will not stand for the demolition of this building. They will regard this as wanton destruction of a great national building, the wanton destruction of something that ought to be preserved, and when the word goes out to the public - as it will because so many of the public and so many of the people who will be voting for or against members in November of this year have been here - the people will want to know where members stood when the vote was taken for the demolition or otherwise of this building. Let us not forget that this was the site chosen by the Committee and endorsed by the Speaker and the President of the Senate. The Capital Hill site was the place accepted by everybody until a stranger to our shores, a stranger to our tradition and to our vast open country in the person of one Lord Holford from the United Kingdom sold the idea of the lake site to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. This was perhaps all right in the mind of somebody who was used to the congested and pigeon pocked surroundings of Westminster in the United Kingdom, lt might have been all right for him to have a place cluttered up wilh buildings and tiny narrow streets around it for the national parliament, but it did not represent the kind of choice that should and will appeal to any full bloode Australian citizen. It will not appeal to a people in love with the great open spaces that characterise our island continent.
Let us not forget when we talk about experts that when you want to have a tooth pulled out you do not go to a plumber. That is a good cliche but it does not make sense and it is not analogous to this situation because let us not forget that it was the experts who told us to buy the Fill and we did not query them. The experts told us to build the Chowilla Dam and now we are told it will not work. The experts told this country to build different railway gauges, and look what it has Icd us into. So much for the experts. I am not influenced by experts because we see experts who will give opposite points of view. One has only to go into the High Court of Australia to see experts on law put points of view which other experts have to decide as between one and the other, the result often being that four or five super experts cannot agree unanimously on what is correct. Do not talk to me about experts. I am not the least bit interested in experts and I am less interested in an architect’s point of view - that architect being Mr Bunning - who, first of all, said that the site had to be the lake site. Now he says it has to be the Camp Hill site of the two remaining sites. But, of course, Mr Bunning does very well out of the National Capital Development Commission. It pays him to keep on side with the NCDC point of view. He will probably get the contract for some other building. He has already had the contract to build the National Library. Do not tell me this is hitting below the belt because this is fact and only the uninitiated would be so stupid as to say that this does not count. Of course it counts, and let us not pretend that we are in kindergarten. I will take not one bit of notice of a man who gets his living by doing jobs for the NCDC for a start.
Therefore I want to know what it is that motivates the experts, to go to such extraordinary lengths to hoodwink and to deceive this Committee and the Parliament because they did hoodwink the Committee, they did hoodwink the Parliament and they did deceive every member who had a look at their sketches in the National Library. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro drew attention to it. Have a look at the artist’s impression of what parliament house will look like on Camp Hill and one sees a magnificent wide vista sweeping right down to the lake with the wonderful Mount Ainslie and the War Memorial in the background. Then have a look at the artist’s impression of how the vista will appear from Capital Hill, which they did not want. The picture is smaller, for a start. One can hardly see the great open expanse of green lawn which is so easily portrayed in the first picture. One can hardly see the great poplar trees, one on each side of the great expanse of open lawn in the picture which the artists have prepared at the behest of the National Capital Development Commission to show us what the vista will look like from Capital Hill. The lawn has gone yellow. Even the lawn refuses to grow green if we put the parliament house on Capital Hill. The poplar trees have become shorter. Even they refuse to grow if we dare to put the parliament house on Capital Hill. As if this is not enough they had to put a sighting board on the top of a crane on Camp Hill to try to make it appear that the top of the crane - which represents the top of the building, I suppose - is going to be higher than the top of Capital Hill. Why do they not put another 120 foot high crane with a sighting board on the top of Capital Hill if we are to get an idea of what two cranes look like? But to have one and not the second crane is only deceiving people and 1 hope the Parliament will not be so foolish as to be deceived so easily by it.
On the last occasion when Mr Bunning and the National Capital Development Commission were trying to con us into voting for the lake site they told us that we did not have to worry about floods because there was only a flood big enough to swamp parliament house once every 800 years. But they did not tell us when the 800-year period started. It might have started 799 years ago and therefore we are due for another one next year. Of course, these are some of the tricks that these people thought they could use to hoodwink members of Parliament and the thing, that surprises me is that they have succeeded so much in hoodwinking the Committee into falling for it. Now, what is the reason that motivates these people to do all these kinds of things, to resort to this deception? I have discovered what it is. I should have awakened to it before. It is this fixation that they have about the ring road. That is all they think about and dream about, this blasted ring road that is going around Capital Hill. One would think that the ring road is the reason for Canberra’s existence. One would never imagine that Canberra was built in order to accommodate a thing called Parliament House. The ring road becomes the focal point of everything in Canberra so far as these experts are concerned.
We are told that the present Parliament House has to go because it is too uneconomic. Well, what if somebody said that the Colosseum ought to be allowed to fall down because it is too uneconomic? Why is it that this Government is not prepared to look after this building - which was our first national Parliament - when it is spending thousands of dollars on Norfolk Island to keep the gaols from falling down, gaols where Marcus Clark and other people wrote about what was supposed to represent one of the darkest periods of our history? Everybody who has visited Europe will remember that one million francs a year is being spent to restore the Palace of Fontainbleu because the French are proud of their national heritage and of the things that make France the great tourist attraction that it is. Let us say it is not economic to restore Saint Paul’s Cathedral. It was not economic to keep the Clink Street gaol where the nobs used to go whenever they would not pay their debts or had committed offences against the English law. They even preserve the place where Katherine of Aragon spent a night on the Thames. The people of England relish all that as part of Britain.
-Order! I think when the honourable member is speaking about the Thames he is getting fairly far away from Capital Hill.
– This building should never be demolished. Australian history has been made in the chambers of this building, and in its halls and corridors the greatest men that this country has so far seen have walked, talked and thought. Is that not something we ought to be proud of? It was within the precincts of this building that men like Hughes, Bruce, Curtin, Page, Chifley, Scullin, Evatt, Menzies, Holt, Eddie Ward and Theodore thought and spoke and moulded public opinion and the trends of history.
Generations unborn should not be deprived of the opportunity to stand in the place and in the same surroundings as those great men. Once this building is destroyed, once it is demolished as the people who favour Camp Hill want - because if you want Camp Hill you cannot have this place, you have to demolish it - this part of Australian history has gone forever. It can never be restored, never brought back, and those of us responsible for destroying this part of Australian history will remain cursed in the memories of those who come after us. Never again will Australians with a love of history be able to stand in this place and meditate upon past events and upon leaders of our country long since departed. Many hundreds of thousands of Australians who have seen this building cannot understand why anyone would want to put the bulldozers through it. They will not support honourable members if they do it, and every one of us will have to stand, be counted and have his name recorded in Hansard so that the people may see how we have voted on the one and only national building of which we can be proud.
– We have a few weaklings on our side, you know.
– Fortunately a non-party vote will be taken. Much has been heard about the vista. It has been said that it will not be possible to have a new and permanent parliament house on the Capital Hill site because it will alter the vista. Let me remind honourable members that if they look down Anzac Parade from the War Memorial across the lake and up the expanse of lawn on this side of the lake, no better vista can be found in Australia. If the new building were built on the top of Capital Hill it would be part of that vista because it would be well above the top of the existing building. This in itself would be marvellous thing to indicate to our people how much we have advanced since Federation. The new House should be built initially to cope with future expansion. Even if space not now required were used for storing archives or other articles it could be used as office space as and when needed, provided the debating chambers were large enough to cope with the anticipated increase in members over the next 300 or even 400 years. The rest of the building could be used for some other purposes until a demand conies for extra space for parliamentary affairs.
I should like a competition to be conducted with the best artists in the world invited to compete in designing a building worthy of a country like ours. It should be possible to obtain from such people the best design. I should like to see Australians have the best parliament house in the world. Being the most progressive people in the southern hemisphere, they deserve the best and they should have the best. I do not care when all this is done, but the new building must be something of which our people can be proud. They should be able to look at their new and permanent parliament house with pride in their hearts and be able to say: ‘There is the parliamentary capital of our nation’. It is not possible to achieve this result on a 30-acre block of land. It can be done only on an area of 130 acres. Future generations will find, 400 years from now, as the Americans have found with their 150-acre site for their Capitol buildings, that even 130 acres are not enough.
The retention of the existing building will do much to emphasise the full extent of our progress since Federation, fewer than 70 years ago. I return to the point I made at the outset, that the choice for honourable members is whether they are to have a hill site of 30 acres, requiring the certain demolition of this old building, or a hill site of 130 acres that will not require that demolition. Demolition of this building or not - vandalism or not: That is the simple choice before honourable members.
– Honourable members have been entertained with some poetry. May I give them now some prose? When speaking in the original debate on this matter I came down in favour of the Camp Hilt site. This was when the choice was between Capital Hill and the lake site. I want to remind the House of one or two of the reasons why I favoured the Camp Hill site. The Capital Hill site was decisively rejected by Walter Burley Griffin.
– It was hot.
– I am referring not to Walter Burley Griffin’s preliminary report, which was prepared in Chicago, but to the report that embodied his considered opinion after he had tested his views on the location. This report, dated October 1913, was ordered in this House to be printed on 28th September 1916. Walter Burley Griffin’s view, as expressed at pages 18 and 19 of this report, was that the parliamentary building should be in an accessible but quiet area. He referred to Capital Hill as ‘Kurrajong Hill’, which it was known as in those days, but rejected it. Of it he said: it is deemed too large and too high for a convenient working organisation of Parliament.
He chose Camp Hill, which he referred to by the name by which it was known at that time, Canberra Hill, as the site for the Parliament. In his report he said of it: . . Parliament edifice has thus a lofty setting, stopping the long axis of the reservoir. crowned by the lofty Capital behind, and supported on the Ranks by the lower departmental buildings.
The fact that this was his plan is made quite plain from a study of the drawings that he prepared. One must conclude from them that what he envisaged was a parliamentary triangle. It has been suggested in the debate that Capital Hill is the apex of the parliamentary triangle. This is not so. I do not think that anyone who has looked at the plans and records of Walter Burley Griffin and has studied his drawings could possibly assert honestly that Capital Hill is in or even near his parliamentary triangle. Griffin’s plan has Camp Hill at the apex but Capital Hill is well away from the parliamentary triangle. Honourable members should recognise this fact. He proposed to use the hills, Mount Ainslie and Capital Hill, as a backdrop and to use the water, which he saw very much as we have it today although shaped slightly differently, and to create a vista with a massing of buildings, flanked at either end by the mountains. He was virtually painting with hills, water and buildings. We can go ahead and finish that painting with what he regarded should be placed at the end, the new and permanent parliament house on Camp Hill, or we can depart entirely from the plan, throwing it overboard completely, and adopt a different approach altogether. However, we should do it only with complete knowledge of what we are doing. That was his plan and I suggest it was a very fine plan. The alternative is to ask: Is Capital Hill a very good site for a parliamentary building? I suggest that the answer is yes, if that is what you are looking for. If all you are looking for is a good hill on which to place one building regardless of any plan, vista, massing of buildings and water views, by all means vote for Capital Hill. It is a very good site for one building in complete isolation. But I warn honourable members that they must realise what they are doing before they make such a decision.
But realise what you are doing, because Griffin’s plan was not to treat Parliament House as just one building for which he was seeking a site; it was to plan this massing of buildings and this vista. I suggest that even this building, as the end of that vista, gives us an indication of how good his plan was - how fine it could be - because the one thing that strikes you if you stand on the steps of Parliament House or if you look back from Mt Ainslie is that this vista and this massing are very fine concepts hardly equalled in other parts of the world. It is very big; it is magnificent. If you put the parliamentary building on Capital. Hill you will subtract the crowning feature of this plan. Know what you are doing, because that is what you are doing. 1 suggest that although Capital Hill would be a very fine site for a single building, we should not abandon the plan.
The previous discussion in this House was, 1 believe, bedevilled by an assumption that the present Parliament House could not be pulled down, either for economic reasons or reasons of history or sentiment. When Sir William Holford, later Lord Holford, came out here he made his report on instructions that he should act on the assumption that this present building could not be demolished. This is what has bedevilled the entire debate. It was because of this instruction that Lord Holford did not consider Camp Hill and opted for the lake site. But once you remove the assumption that this building cannot be demolished there is no excuse whatever for disregarding the Burley Griffin plan. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has suggested that it would be wrong to pull down this building but I suggest that if you read the evidence of Sir John Sulman, given before this building was erected, you will find that this building was constructed deliberately to last for no longer than 50 years. Those of us who have had to occupy it in times of rain and under other conditions know that the estimate of its length of life was about right. The rain comes in and the floors creak. By spending enormous sums of money it would be possible to maintain this building, but it was never intended to be maintained. It was what was called a cottage construction - a temporary building.
Why we should let this building stand in the way of our real history I fail to understand. After all, we are capable of making history, too, with a fine new building. I would say that you cannot erect a building on Capital Hill or Camp Hill without pulling down this building because if you have a building on Capital Hill and allow this building to remain standing you will have the worst of all possible worlds. If you want to keep the history of this place you could photograph it inside and out, from every angle, and put the photographs in the archives. We who have been in this place and have a sentiment for it would be very sorry to see it go but those who come after us in a quarter of a century or half a century will have quite sufficient conveyed to them of the nature of this place by the proper archives kept in the way 1 have suggested.
Other arguments have been advanced during the course of this debate. 1 refer to them briefly in passing. It has been suggested that honourable members directing their minds as to how to vote in this debate should in some way be influenced by the fact that it is alleged that in some way the Executive changed its view; that when it saw that it was to lose the lake site it opted for Camp Hill. I know something of how the Camp Hill site came to be put forward. The proposition did not originate with the Executive. But that is beside the point because even if the allegations were true, they would not be proper matters for any honourable member to take into account in deciding a matter of this importance. You have to decide according to the sites, not according to whether you want to administer a rebuff to an Executive. This would be a wholly inadmissible proposition for any honourable member to entertain when casting his vote. lt has been suggested that we would be bedevilled by the experts if we accepted the Committee’s recommendation. There has been an emotional attack on the experts. A revulsion to expert advice - a resistance; a sort of anti-intellectual approach - again is not a proper matter to take into account when casting a vote on an issue of this character. Weigh the expert advice by all means; one does not have to accept it. But you do not reject it on emotional grounds that you do not like taking the advice of experts.
The right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) said that parliament should be a place you could look up to. I can understand that a hill is a good place on which to erect a temple or a monument because you look up to the thing. Parliament is different. It is not a building; it is an institution. Parliament is as good as the people in it or as bad as the people in it. You do not put the building on a hill, because that is not parliament. Parliament will be looked up to according to whether the people in it behave well or ill. It is a bad argument to suggest that it be put on a hill. In some countries where 1 have had to climb to the parliament on the hill I have felt like Christina Rossetti’s traveller -
Oh! Does the road wind up-hill all the way?’
Yea, to the very end.’
The honourable member for Hindmarsh referred to the Colosseum. That has not been well maintained or used. I am told that this is because the lions ate all the prophets. If that is the test does he suggest that we should allow the vista to be occupied by a building going to ruin, like the Colosseum, for simply historical value? Surely that is not a valid argument in making up our minds about what is to be the future history of this country and a history that will apply for a long time to come.
When considering their vote on this matter I hope that honourable members will put aside these emotional and irrelevant arguments and will arrive at a reasonable decision. I hope that they will not lightly put aside the original plan of Water Burley Griffin, which was a grand plan - a compact of mountains, of water and the massing of -buildings. 1 believe that we should not reject that plan but should vote for Camp Hill.
– Before I say a few words about the matter under discussion I would like to reply briefly to the rather illogical speech made by the rather logical Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). He suggested that there was no need to retain this present Parliament House for historical reasons. He suggested that photographs of the House could be taken and displayed. Would the honourable gentleman suggest that we put a bulldozer through the War Memorial because of some emergency, first taking photo graphs so that the nation may see what had previously existed? Is it not more realistic and practical for the nation to be able to see in its actual form whatever we desire to maintain for historical reasons? I cannot subscribe to the view that this building should be demolished.
The Attorney-General said that Parliament should not be on Capital Hill. Every member of the Liberal Party who can afford to do so buys a home on a hill for the simple reason that it is the best position. People want to live on a hill if they desire a view of the countryside or if they want to create an impression. The Federal Parliament should be the most outstanding building in Canberra. As is the case with the Capitol in Washington and parliamentary buildings in other countries, parliament house should be a building which the people can recognise as a symbol of democracy. The AttorneyGeneral said that Walter Burley Griffin dismissed out of hand the Capital Hill site. Let me quote from Griffin’s evidence given to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
– When was this?
– On 22nd May 1923. Mr Griffin said:
I would not for a moment consider that to be a serious objection. Kurrajong Hill is eminently adapted to a structure symmetrical from at least four sides, dominating a site which spreads all around it. A Parliament House is a working organisation which cannot be manipulated into such a square form without doing violence to the necessities and also to the actual expression of a bi-cameral legislature. It ii not beyond the capacity or the brains of the architects to design a building of symmetrical architecture for erection on Kurrajong Hill as a parliament house.
Would anybody say that he dismissed out of hand a suggestion that the new parliament house should be on Capital Hill? Certainly I believe that the Attorney-General misled the House on that particular aspect when he said that such a suggestion was dismissed out of hand.
I believe it is unfair to criticise, as some honourable members have done, the views that have been expressed by other honourable members in support of a change from the lakeside site. It is a healthy sign for Australia, for Canberra and for the people that so many members have seen fit to participate in this debate, no matter what their point of view may be. It is unfair to reflect on the judgment and intentions of members. One of my colleagues has threatened to resign if the report of the Joint Select Committee is not accepted. But why are reports made? Why, even the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) has said that he will not accept some Tariff Board reports. But I have never heard him say that he will resign because the Board does not agree with him. I think every honourable member is interested in the siting of the new parliament house. Members have debated this matter objectively and the debate reflects credit on those who have participated in it. The fact that emotion and heat have been generated is all to the good because the building of the new and permanent parliament house will be one of the most important developments in this great city of Canberra. I believe that honourable members and senators have formed their judgments with the bes: of intentions. At times their views may differ from the views of others and from the views of the Joint Select Committee. Not only has pressure been exerted by some honourable members, as has been suggested, but Sir Robert Menzies, the former Prime Minister, lent his weight a short time ago to the move to restore the Parliament to the place he originally selected. While he is a reasonably good friend of mine, I am sorry to tell him that I was not influenced nor was my view changed by the article he wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald’.
As honourable members probably realise, I have always been a supporter of the Capital Hill site and today 1 support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the minority report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. I agree with the honourable member for Hindmarsh who said that experts can produce any opinion for which they are asked. They have this facility in common with lawyers. If a person puts his money on the table and seeks a certain point of view he will get the opinion that he wants from experts or lawyers. It appears to be beyond doubt that an attempt has been made to defeat the will of this Parliament as expressed by two overwhelming votes for the Capital Hill site. Once those who were sponsoring the lakeside site found their views rejected by the Parliament every effort was made to sec that some compromise site was introduced. No attempt was made to give effect to the Parliament’s expression of opinion thai the new parliament house should be on the Capital Hill site. All kinds of obstacles have been put in the way of members. I agree with what the honourable member for Hindmarsh said about the paintings in the library and about the display there. I do not think he exaggerated at all. I defy anybody to stand on Capital Hill or Camp Hill and get the two views that are presented in an attempt to influence members of the Parliament. This is completely misleading and I cannot see why it was done.
Even the architects have been brought into this matter. They have expressed their opinions in an endeavour, in effect, to stand over members of the Parliament. To the credit of my colleague the honourable member for Wills, he made his opinion known in no uncertain terms. We now have the amazing situation that most of the former lakeside supporters have become Camp Hill supporters. Just where do we go if Camp Hill is rejected? Will we end up on Red Hill, Mount Ainslie or somewhere else? This is precisely what might happen. Consequently we should bear in mind that already this House by 50 votes to 39 has endorsed the Capital Hill site. The Senate, by 42 votes to 6 - a 7 to 1 majority - held that Capita] Hill should be the site for the new and permanent parliament house. It is amazing, therefore, that in the face of this decision people should be prepared to try to defeat the majority view, in a non-party vote, on this great and important issue. I wonder why we did not have the choice of Camp Hill when the original debate took place.
– I told the House why.
– I did not hear the explanation. I think that those in control thought that they had the numbers for the lakeside site. Everyone will recollect that at the opening of the National Library Sir Grenfell Price announced that a tunnel was to be made to the new parliament house so that members could walk straight to the Library from the new parliament house. Somebody gave bad advice to those concerned.
I am concerned also with the ring road around Capital Hill. All kinds of arguments have been advanced about the ring road. 1 have some rather serious comments to make about those people who advance the location of the ring road as an argument against the Capital Hill site. I am a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory which, on Thursday, 26th October 1967, was called upon to pass judgment on whether or not construction of the ring road should commence. This project was described at that stage as variation No. 3. Those who appeared before the Committee on behalf of the National Capital Development Commission were Mr P. F. Harrison, Director of Town Planning - he has since resigned and has gone to the Australian National University - and Mr C. J. Price, Director of Engineering. Mr Wigley. Assistant Secretary, Land and Property Division, and Mr Corrigan. Senior Development Officer, Land and Property Division also attended the meeting on behalf of the Department of the Interior. Consideration was deferred pending the production by the NCDC of a model of the proposed road system. Subsequently, before a Liberal senator and I would vote for the construction of the ring road, Mr Harrison and other officers of the NCDC gave us an assurance that if it were constructed it would interfere in no way with the siting of a new parliament house ou Capital Hill. On 3rd November a plan was presented. Present at that meeting were Messrs R. Ciough, P. F. Harrison and C. T. Price of the NCDC and Messrs Corrigan and Wigley of the Department of the Interior. Variation No. 3 - the Capital Hill ring road - was further discussed and agreed to. As 1 said, a Liberal senator and I would not have voted for that project had the assurance not been given that the ring road would not interfere with the location of a parliament house on Capital Hill. If those officers gave that assurance knowing that it would be used as a subterfuge, the proceedings of that Committee must, in future, be recorded verbatim and evidence given on oath because undoubtedly we were misled in view of the argument which is now advanced by the Commission. I place the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory before the Parliament in order that members will know that this may have been another subterfuge in an attempt to intimidate and influence members in siting the new parliament house on the lakeside or Camp Hill. The argument is now advanced that traffic going round and round Capital Hill will not add to the splendour of Parliament. The honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) used that argument against the Capital Hill site.
I notice in the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House that at page 53 Mr Speaker said:
A lot of emphasis has been placed on the carrying out of the plan of Walter Burley Griffin. This plan has already been departed from about forty times. I am prepared to depart from it again if we can get what we want.
Evidently the Speaker of the House of Representatives was not averse to changing the plan of Walter Burley Griffin if he thought it necessary to do so. I mention these matters to show that efforts have been made by some interested people to ensure that the will of the Parliament on this question as expressed in the free vote is not given effect to. All kinds of arguments have been advanced. All kinds of plans and photographs have been submitted. 1 do not think that some of those who gave evidence favouring the Capital Hill site should be overlooked. Professor Crisp is a man of great standing in the community and a man who has a great knowledge of Canberra. He advanced evidence in support of the Capital Hill site.
Like the honourable member for Hindmarsh, 1 am not at all influenced by architects, planners or others who suddenly change from the lake site to the Camp Hill site because circumstances have changed. Either their opinions were right in the first place or they have changed as a matter of convenience. It only brings home to us in this Parliament that when we vole on this matter we are voting as parliamentarians responsible to the people of this country for the commencement of a parliament house which may stand for hundreds of years. We have a responsibility, similar to the responsibility of a jury, not to be guided so much by experts but to make an impartial judgment having in mind all these variations, subterfuges and endeavours to mislead ns that I believe have been made. I do not want to speak at greater length.
I mention these matters in support of the amendment because I believe that they are important. I believe that the Capital Hill site would give beauty, grace and architectural splendour to a new parliament house in Canberra, lt is probably not necessary for it to be commenced immediately, but we must plan ahead for it. I believe that with the growth of Canberra and its population a proposal for a new parliament house must be commenced at this stage.
– Does the honourable member think that the present building should be demolished?
– 1 think that there is no justification at this stage for the demolition of this building. 1 am inclined to agree with those who have said that it might well be maintained for historical reasons. I think the Government treated the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House somewhat strangely. The matter was referred to the Committee in the ultimate only because the Government was desperate to find some avenue of escape. Although certain members of that Committee were sent around the world to study parliament houses, the recommendation to give effect to the lake site was brought in before the report of the Committee that travelled was presented to Parliament. I believe that it was only because the Government was in a jam over this that the Committee was consulted. If the Government had really thought at that time that the Committee should study this matter, k should not have been debated until all the reports of the Committee had been presented to us.
If one looked at the parliament houses of the world one would find that those which are really outstanding as far as splendour is concerned are built on heights or hills. The Stormont in Belfast is probably not a good example for me to quote at this stage. Irrespective of what is wrong in Belfast in Northern Ireland, its parliament house is in a splendid position. I only wish that we had a situation here where we could have our parliament house standing in such a splendid atmosphere and in such splendid surroundings. At the same lime the situation here lends itself to the construction of the new parliament house on a hill site. The Congress building at Washington is also on a hill. Can honourable members not visualise in the future a beautiful structure on Capital Hill with all that modern architecture can give to it, with proper facilities for members and with the views that can be had only from that site all over Canberra and the surrounding districts? The people of this country would see it not as a place where parliamentarians live apart from the people but as a real symbol of democracy in a real Australian atmosphere and easily the most wonderful building in what will undoubtedly be the greatest city in Australia. I favour the Capital Hill site by tradition and by conviction. I believe above all else that it is the place where the Parliament ought to be because it will be really Australian and add a splendour to which this city is entitled.
– I had not intended to enter into this debate, but there has been so much kite flying going on that I thought 1 would throw in my two-pennyworth. Originally I was a supporter of the lake site because I have a great belief in the aesthetic value of reflections on the lake. This would have been engendered had the new houses of parliament been built out over the lake with a secretariat building behind. This view was strongly held by the people concerned. The National Capital Development Commission had undoubtedly been given a carte blanche to use Camp Hill and Capital Hill for other purposes. The fact that the National Library was built on the lakeside with a tunnel underneath and the fact that quite an amount of money was spent to clear the little mud hill in front to prepare the site for the new parliament house made it almost a fait accompli. The NCDC went on with its plans because the options were closed. The parliament house was to be built on the laks site, and the NCDC was to have the Camp Hill site and the Capital Hill site for departments of science and culture and other academies which it had in its programme.
When the lake site was put before this House it was defeated. The alternatives given at that time were the lake site and the Capital Hill site. We were defeated on the lake site. This left the Capital Hill site. Then out of the blue, irrespective of what a previous Minister has said, the Executive suggested Camp Hill as an alternative to Capital Hill. It is very strange that out of all the members on the Committee that was appointed to study the question of a new and permanent parliament house one Labor senator was the only person to opt out and recommend that it should be built on the Camp Hill site and that a bulldozer should be put through the present building. At that stage he was laughed at, but, strangely enough, when the recommendation to use the lake site was defeated the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) came forward with another alternative - the Camp Hill site.
Let us have a look at what happened. Prior to the vote being taken when the lake site was defeated in this House, the NCDC had plans for cultural centres to be built on Camp Hill. At that time the building of a new parliament house was, in the minds of most of us, 10, 15 or 20 years hence. We have grown from a small Parliament to a Parliament which has 120 members in the House of Representatives and 60 senators. The number of Ministers and the size of their staffs have grown. This place was bulging at the seams. Certain alterations were to be made to this place to provide more accommodation and improve the facilities for meals. Approval was given for this work to be done but the NCDC said: No. Just a minute. You cannot go ahead and spend any more money on this Parliament House until we beautify the back of it. It wanted to improve the front and the back. It wanted this building beautified because if it were not, it would present a poor outlook from the cultural centre that was to be put on Camp Hill. So the whole thing was stopped and our attempts to improve this building were aborted, though we thought it would still serve as the Parliament House for the next 10, 15 or 20 years. After the Commission had its way, we were stopped from improving this building so that it would give the necessary comfort, accommodation and facilities for the members.
Then the Executive said that it must have more accommodation for Ministers and their staffs. So having constructed the high rise new wing on the House of Representatives side, the NCDC decided it would duplicate that on the other side. The NCDC has a great belief in symmetry and con cord. We were given great plans for increasing the accommodation in this building. Finally the NCDC found that the options it had open on the Camp Hill site and the Capital Hill site were closed when the lake site was defeated by this Parliament. I do not know where the options lie at the moment, but there seems to be pressure on acceptance of the Camp Hill site. I am not concerned about Burley Griffin, who was here about 40 years ago, and I am not concerned about Lord Holford, who was here for about 5 minutes, but I respect the opinions of the men and women who have been in this Parliament from day to day over the last 15 or 20 years.
Why was the present building erected on this site in the first place? Who picked the site? The building may have been erected only as a temporary structure, but why was it not put on Camp Hill in the first place? Why was it put on this site? I do not know the answer and I do not know whether anybody else knows the answer. But the present Parliament House was put in the lowly foothills of Camp Hill. The present building was supposed to last for 50 years. For the life of me I cannot understand why we are spending thousands of dollars on repairing it and putting in air conditioning if we are to demolish it. After all, this building is the first Parliament House to be erected in the national capital. The Federal Parliament sat in the Victorian Parliament House from 1901 for more than a quarter of a century. That building is beautiful architecturally. We may as well suggest that somebody put a bulldozer through that building as well. The present Parliament House in Canberra should be kept not only as a memorial to those who have worked here over the last 40-odd years but also as a place where meetings and seminars can be held. There is still a necessity for high level meeting places in Canberra. The present building would serve that purpose well.
Reference has been made to the suitability of the Camp Hill site. When one looks at Camp Hill from the other side of the lake - Anzac Parade - one sees that it is backgrounded by Capital Hill. Not many of us go over to the other side of the lake, but this is a fact. But we look from this side of the lake up Anzac Parade to the War
Memorial. I ask honourable members: How much is the War Memorial obscured by Mount Ainslie and the trees at the foothills of Mount Ainslie? The War Memorial does not stand out at all. It is killed aesthetically because it does not have a decent backdrop. This is exactly what will happen if the new parliament house is erected on Camp Hill; it will be killed by the backdrop of Capital Hill. The new parliament house will not rise above Capital Hill.
Why does Canberra exist? Why is it not still the sheep station that it was earlier in the century? Because the Federal Parliament came here and Canberra became the national capital. If the Parliament had not come to this area there would still be merino sheep grazing on the grass along the banks of the Molonglo River. So, I believe that the Parliament must be the central point of Canberra; it must be the pivot of Canberra. What do the tourists see as they drive across the Commonwealth Bridge and the Kings Avenue Bridge? They see the flagpole on the top of Capital Hill. They do not see Camp Hill. Canberra is a beautiful national Capital; it is one of the best in the world. I have visited most of the world’s capitals and have seen most of the parliaments. I was sickened to hear the members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House say that they had viewed slides of Brasilia. I have been to Brasilia. In fact, I spent a fortnight in the Parliament House in Brasilia. That building was designed by Mr Oscar Niemeyer. It is not built on a hill; it has an artificial lake around it that is aesthetically false. I do not like the Brazilian Parliament architecturally. It does not do anything for me.
– That would not worry them.
– -It would not worry them. It may do something for the honourable member - he has been there, too - but it is not a great architectural triumph to me. It does not dominate and it does not blend in with the surroundings. The building looks rather silly. It has a saucer turned one way and another saucer turned the other way.
We have to make a far reaching decision tonight. It will bind the National Capital Development Commission and the Government on the siting of the new parliament house, although the building may not be started for 20 years or finished within 30 years. So, it is very important that we be definite in our actions. Camp Hill is the half way house for me; it does nothing architecturally, aesthetically or in any other way. If the penalty for erecting the new parliament house on Camp Hill is the demolition of the present Parliament House and of East Block and West Block- buildings that have cost the taxpayers many millions of dollars during the short life of the national capital - I say to honourable members: ‘Let us move on to Capital Hill if that is the only place left’. It appears that the lakeside site is out of favour. Let us go to Capital Hill and give ourselves the opportunity of spreading over quite an area of land. The Capital Hill site encompasses 130 acres of land whereas the Camp Hill site encompasses only 30 acres. Let us give the builders of the future an opportunity to grace Canberra with a wonderful parliament house which will be suitable for the great nation in which we live.
– I am more concerned with what takes place inside the Parliament of Australia than with where the building should be situated or what kind of structure it should be. I have no objection to this Parliament making provision for the future so long as the future is sufficiently distant. I was horrified tonight to hear honourable member after honourable member from both sides of the House stand up and say a new parliament house is needed almost immediately and that the present Parliament House should be bulldozed to the ground. The present building cost $5m at a time when every $1 was twice as valuable as it is today. That amount of money would turn suburbs like Redfern, which is represented by the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope) or Fitzroy, which is represented by myself, into ideal suburbs. That amount of money, without taking into consideration any expenditure upon the new building that is to be constructed upon some hill in Canberra, would be sufficient to care for all our aged sick people who cannot obtain admission to hospitals. Such a sum would enable the provision of increased hospital accommodation right throughout Australia. It would also provide better water supplies. Such a sum would also go a long way towards providing underground railways in places like Sydney and Melbourne to reduce the traffic menace. People come here and they think in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars when money is to be spent in Canberra, but no money is spent to eradicate the evils in the other cities of the Commonwealth. Vast millions of the population of this country live and will continue to live in these other cities, and these people will never see the present Parliament House or the parliament house of the future.
– Why did not you say this when we were debating the Australian Capital Territory sewerage ordinance?
– I say these things because they are the facts. Member after member has risen in his place tonight and has said, in effect, that it is essential that we immediately proceed to build the new parliament house. This was said by members of the Australian Labor Party and of the Government Parties. I find excuses for members of the Government Parties - they know no better. But members of the Labor Party certainly should say: ‘There is an order of priority regarding the provision of either public institutions or the requisites for the public of this country’. The first consideration is that those people who are most in need shall be attended to first. Previously I have referred to the conditions which obtain in many of the substandard tenements in Fitzroy and other areas. Great and terrible as are the conditions under which the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) and other honourable members must labour in this place, the need of the people in these substandard tenements is greater than the need of honourable members in this Parliament.
Because those people’s needs are greater, we in this Parliament should say: We will put up with these disabilities’ - disabilities which almost every member in this Parliament is anxious to see overcome as soon as possible. 1 will not suffer these disabilities much longer. But that is not because I do not want to suffer them. It is because 1 have been scrapped. Every member of this Parliament refers to the adverse conditions under which he labours. The honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) spoke of working in a dog box. I do not hesitate to say that most of the offices in this building are admirable for the purpose for which they are provided. I know that some honourable members would not be able to find their way to their offices because they go to them so infrequently.
I rose to indicate that while I am agreeable to provision being made for a new parliament house - and I will vote for the proposal to build it on the Capital Hill site - I suggest not merely to the Parliament but also to the people of Australia that there should be no undue haste in the provision of a new parliament house; that we should not spend untold millions upon the construction of a new parliament house. I am and always have been opposed to the construction of the Opera House in Sydney. If I had lived in the days of ancient Egypt I would have been opposed on the same ground, to the construction of the Sphinx. Although I am opposed to the construction of a new parliament house at the present time, I am not opposed to the proposal to provide a site for the future parliament house of this country. I reiterate what the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) said on this question. He said that a Parliament is not a building. Of course it is not a building.
The Witenagemot, the meeting of old men who met under the oaks of England, probably worked as effectively as a parliament as we do in this chamber today. It was the parliament of the time. A building does not constitute a parliament; it is the people who are within the building. Parliament is not looked up to, as the Attorney-General said, because it is on a hill. It is looked up to if the people in it serve the interests of democracy and ensure that the necessities of the very poor are attended to first. It is looked up to if within its order of priorities more importance is given to the provision of necessities than the provision of luxuries or luxurious edifices.
1 .26] - I shall be brief. An enormous amount of material has been covered in this debate and most honourable members probably have made up their minds on the issue long ere this. We had a great debate on the original contention between the high and the low sites for the new and permanent parliament house. Now we are debating the merits of the high and half-high sites. I believe that the arguments advanced in favour of the Capital Hill site as against the lake site dominate this present situation. I feel very sympathetic towards some of the comments of the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters). For instance, I believe with regard to this building that by the time a decision is made to build a new parliament house, for a majority of living Australians it will stand as the Parliament House to which they have looked during their lifetime as the centre of government in Australia, lt will bc an historic building and I believe it should remain. No attempt should be made to destroy a building which, in this young country, is one of the few buildings that future generations oan look to as a reminder of their forebears and of what has gone before to build up this country.
This building is admirably suited for innumerable purposes for the next century or more, lt is a place where the great international conferences of the Pacific can be held. For a relatively small outlay it can be made suitable for national and international conferences. 1 will oppose as strongly as I know how anything that would jeopardise its future. If what 1 have said is accepted, it seems to me that it would be unthinkable to build on the roof of this building, or just off its roof to the rear on Camp Hill, a new parliament house. I believe that such a building would be an architectural and aesthetic monstrosity. So we come back to the old arguments that this Parliament decided to favour, foremost among which was the argument that if we are to have an Australian Capital Territory, if there is to be a great city here in the future and if, as the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) so eloquently said last night, there is to be here a city nol of 100.000 or 200,000 but of 1 million or more people - a vast teeming metropolis - it is to the top of Capital Hill that the people will look for the building that will dominate the city and its skyline.
I believe that there is only one sensible answer, and that is to build for the futun on Capital Hill. Like the honourable member for Scullin I do not believe that we should hurry into the construction of a new parliament house. There is time enough to conceive of its planning in the way in which Canberra is built for the future. I too share misgivings about the way in which the other alternative site was placed before us. It seemed to me that a hurried attempt was made to save face by perhaps detracting a little from the strength of the case made for the high site. There was an unseemly rush to present evidence that Capital Hill was not quite the right place. If anyone with any sense of judgment went and saw what was supposed to be the impartial demonstration in the Library presented with models and with drawings with the most distorted of perspectives with every attempt made to denigrate one site and elevate the other, that alone in my book would make him suspicious - almost suspicious enough to vote without any other argument, as it does mc.
I do not like the methods that have been used. I do not like many of the arguments that have been used and I am emphatically against the destruction of what I believe to be an invaluable and what will be an historic building in the future. I believe that the hill is the obvious and natural site for the main building of the capital city. I support Capital Hill.
– I will spend about 2 minutes 30 seconds on this debate. First of all. I find it rather coincidental that for the first time in 4 years 6 months and 17 days I agree with the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), my esteemed colleague on the other side of the fence, in making quite plain my support for the establishment of Parliament House on Capital Hill. Secondly, 1 do not believe it is absolutely necessary to bulldoze the present establishment of Parliament House - the present House in which we sit today. Thirdly, and most important of all, I feel, as one of my Country Party friends on my right hand has said, that the National Capital Development Commission has in fact played ducks and drakes with the Parliament and with the parliamentary system. As this matter was so easily waived when it was last before the Parliament, I think that a lot of the members who plug for Camp Hill as against Capital Hill should remember that when this matter was last discussed the debate was either for the lake or for Capital Hill. Camp Hill was not even considered then. Now, because a report - and a somewhat biassed report - favours Camp Hill and not so much Capital Hill, which was overwhelmingly favoured by a majority in the other place, members of the Parliament should remember what did take place in this same House last year.
I would like to add my own comments and remarks by reminding honourable members of three things. Firstly, we should remember what was decided on the previous vote. Secondly, we should not allow the bureaucratic system of public servants to overrule, override, overstep or in fact attempt to influence the authority of Parliament. Thirdly, 1 think for all to see that Capital Hill will in fact be the most valuable site, not so much now but in future years, generations and centuries to come.
– -Having regard to the decision given in the other place I suggest that there should be a joint meeting of the Houses of Parliament. I think I am able to move that this course be followed under paragraph 1 1 of standing order 32 I will move that a joint meeting of both Houses take place to determine this issue.
– Order! The honourable member is out of order. The original question was that the motion moved by the Minister for the Interior be agreed to. To this the honourable member for Wills has moved as an amendment:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the new and permanent Parliament House be situated on Capital Hill.’
The immediate question is, That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question’.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Bryant’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Ashton)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the House to move the following motion:
That this House is of opinion that the new parliament house should be planned in such a way as to preserve the existing Parliament House.
– Is leave granted?
– No, leave is not granted. This would open up a new debate-
– Leave is not granted. Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh will cease conversation with the Minister for the Interior across the table. If he has anything to say he will address the Chair,
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Scholes) put:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) proposing a motion.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Thursday, 15th May 1969
Motion by (Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like to refer to properties acquired at Woolloomooloo for the proposed erection of an office block and a naval store on the site of premises on Nos 51 to 113 Dowling Street, Nos 9 to 21 Spring Street and Nos 4 to 144 Forbes Street. The matter has been the subject of discussion for the past 9 years. For instance, in 1960 the Minister for the Navy, then the Honourable J. G. Gorton, received a deputation from the Council of the City of Sydney which included the Lord Mayor, Alderman Jensen, Alderman Wallace and Alderman Pilone. The Lord Mayor, in presenting the case for the Council, stressed the concern of all aldermen over the rapidly dwindling population of the inner city of Sydney, which was and still is having an adverse effect on commerce, particularly retail trade in the city. Alderman Con Wallace, a devoted and untiring advocate on behalf of residents of Woolloomooloo and adjoining areas, supported the Lord Mayor. Alderman Wallace also expressed the view that a special allocation of money should be made by the Commonwealth Government to the New South Wales Housing Commission so that the residents involved in the acquisition of properties in the area could be suitably rehoused.
In 1961 the Sydney City Council again contacted the Minister for the Navy, the Honourable J. G. Gorton, in regard to the acquisition of these properties, especially the rehousing of the tenants. The Minister replied that the construction of the buildings would be phased in advance to allow the State Government ample time to provide tenants with alternative accommodation. In 1964 the council again communicated with the Honourable F. C. Chaney. who was then Minister for the Navy, informing him of its resolution to make strong representations for the removal of the naval stores from the Woolloomooloo area and that the Minister be requested to cede the land so occupied to the Council for residential purposes. Between 20th December 1964 and 28th June 1966 the Council received the six letters from the Minister for the Navy, all to the effect that as finality had not been reached in regard to the Navy’s proposed acquisition of the properties, he was not in a position to supply further information.
The Lord Mayor, Alderman Con Wallace and Alderman Pilone, representing the City Council, were received, as a delegation, by the then Minister for the Navy, the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp). However, despite the indefatigable efforts of Alderman Con Wallace on behalf of the residents involved, no satisfactory arrangement has been reached.
Let us examine the human side of this case. There are 275 adults and 37 children residing in the acquired properties. They are vitally concerned and worried, to the point of frustration, as to their future housing needs. If the Department of the Navy is adamantly determined to erect the naval office block and stores then I seek an assurance from the Government that it will arrange with the New South Wales Housing Commission for alternative accommodation to be provided. It does not matter one iota who provides the alternative accommodation but, in the interests of justice, it must be provided. I submit - and I believe rightly so - that if the Commonwealth de-houses people by means of acquisition of propertics, it must accept the full responsibility for providing alternative accommodation. In concluding my remarks, Mr Speaker, I pay tribute to the former Sydney City Council - ex-Alderman Wallace in particular - for its untiring efforts on behalf of the residents of Woolloomooloo.
As all honourable members know, the Australian Country Party continually has advocated better conditions for telephone subscribers in country areas. It would be quite safe to say that every member of the Party has made scores of representations in order to try to improve telephone services. During the last 8 or 10 years, or for a little longer, the Postmaster-General’s Department has been converting manual telephone exchanges (o automatic exchanges. This has brought about a crisis so far as we in the Country Party are concerned. The cost to the subscribers of building up private lines to meet the standard demanded by the Department has been tremendous in many places. 1 understand that, in some cases the cost has been $2,000 and that a charge of $500 is very common. The Country Party has been fighting this case for a long time. All of us have made representations and I am speaking on behalf of all members of the Party. We have at times told the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) that we have been very dissatisfied with him for not granting things that we have sought. However, when the Postmaster-General docs things which please us we like to say so. I would like to read this letter from the Postmaster-General to illustrate the point 1 make. It is dated 9th May 1969 and states:
Dear Mr Turnbull,
I refer to your representations regarding the reference in my statement in the House of Representatives on 28th November 1968 to the provision of line plant for country telephone subscribers at the time of cutover of their services to automatic working.
By way of explanation, I should mention that, when selecting sites for small country automatic exchanges, special attention is paid to the need to minimise the amount of line construction which might be required of subscribers. Nevertheless, there is a wide variety of conditions encountered when an exchange is being converted to automatic working. For example, the new exchange can be in a different location to the old, individual subscribers’ lines may or may not traverse an established departmental route, party lines may need to be converted to exclusive working, and some subscribers’ services may need to be diverted from other exchanges.
In dealing with this situation, and as indicated in my statement, a fresh allocation of units has been made to each existing local subscriber who had previously been called upon to provide part of his line. Then, under long-standing procedures, the extent to which new plant could be provided has been assessed after off-setting the subscribers’ unit entitlements against any existing departmental construction suitable for the provision of their services to the automatic exchange. Apparently it is this long-standing practice to which you have referred specially.
Since receiving your representations, 1 have had the matter studied further and, for automatic conversions, it is proposed that the entitlements of subscribers who have part privately erected lines be measured from the end of existing departmental construction. A similar approach will be followed in the case of subscribers with part privately erected lines whose services are transferred from another exchange. This should clarify the situation for die subscribers you had in mind when writing to me.
The necessary instructions will be issued as soon as possible.
The letter is signed by the PostmasterGeneral. I may say that I spoke personally to the Postmaster-General about this matter and be asked me to put my case in writing, which 1 did. Members of the Country Party, together with other honourable members who represent country electorates, have for years been making representations along these lines. We of the Country Party pay a tribute to other honourable members who have helped us to obtain this small improvement. Under the old agreement the departmental line went a certain distance and was taken into consideration as part of the allocation to the subscriber. Under the new proposal the subscribers entitlement will be calculated from the point at which the departmental line ends. Under certain circumstances ninety-six units are allocated for one subscriber; if there are more subscribers the allocation is increased.
The Country Party wishes to thank the Postmaster-General and the Government for the courtesy that has been displayed in handling this matter. We know that the new arrangement will not benefit all subscribers because some have not been on a departmental line and therefore will get only the original allocation. But those who benefit under this proposal will save a lot of money. We appreciate what has been done and we thank the Postmaster-General and the Government.
– 1 support the remarks of the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope). His speech tonight merits the interest of the Parliament. Here we have another instance of a defence department - in this case the Navy - grabbing a piece of land in the city area for the building of warehouses and stores. The area in question is in Woolloomooloo. It is within walking distance of the heart of the city of Sydney. On one side of the area are high density buildings in the city and on the other side the big development that is proceeding at Kings Cross. Planted in this spot will be a naval stores. Nobody knows what is to be stored there. People will be thrown out of their homes to make way for these naval buildings.
Defence installations should never be erected within city boundaries. They should be placed well away in country areas. Naval installations or stores should be placed down the coast - not within the city precincts. We know that the Army proposes to relinquish some of the land which it holds on South Head. This land will be used as parkland or for recreation purposes. This is reasonable because the area is close to the city. The submarine base which the Navy has established on beautiful foreshores on the northern side of Sydney Harbour should be transferred away from the city of Sydney. To me the proposal to build stores is a retrograde step. I think the Department of Navy should be censured for even considering building Naval stores in this area. We know that at present, as people are forced out of their homes, the places are shut down and nobody is allowed to rent them. People living in other houses nearby are on a weekly tenancy and can be thrown out into the streets on a week’s notice. If one casts one’s mind back into history and remembers the occasion of the building of the mail exchange at Redfern, the Commonwealth Government would not accept responsibility for rehousing the people who were thrown out of their homes to make way for that project.
– Over 300 people were thrown out.
– As I have just been reminded by the honourable member for Watson, on that occasion over 300 people were thrown out of their homes to make way for that project in Redfern. Here again a similar situation will exist. I think we, in the Parliament, should raise a voice of protest against the Department of the Navy. I sincerely hope that the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) justifies the reason for the building of Naval stores in the Woolloomooloo area. This area is close to the city and to King’s Cross, with its high density housing. Vast numbers of people live in this area. In the event of some conflict these people could be affected. The Department of the Navy wants censuring. I think this land ought to be used for housing. It ought to be used for the construction of homes for people who at present are waiting on Housing Commission lists in New South Wales. It ought to be used by the State Housing Commission for homes for these unfortunate people. I think this can be done. The Department of the Navy ought to realise that Naval stores should not be built on this valuable land when it could be used for another purpose.
I think there are too many defence installations around Sydney. They ought to be removed as quickly as possible. The Commonwealth should consider the removal of Victoria Barracks. The building could be left there and made into a housing project for returned servicemen or pensioners, as the case may be, but I still believe that that installation should be removed from the precincts of the city forthwith. I support the honourable member for Watson. I know that the proposal to erect stores is causing great concern to the people in the area, especially those who will be cast out of their homes. It is causing many people in the area to think that they may be next. They think that because the Department has taken one section it may grab more of the area. Consequently the whole of the Woolloomooloo area could become a defence installation. It does not matter what the Government says about the proposal to build these stores, the stores will be a defence installation. Therefore the area could be vulnerable in a period of conflict. I think the Department of the Navy has made a mistake. We accept that it can make a mistake. At least the mistake could be rectified by handing the land back to the State Government for the building of decent homes in which people could live. I think that would be a better purpose for which the land could be used than its proposed use as Naval stores.
– On the occasion of the inauguration of the late John Kennedy as President of the United States of America, he said that he did not believe that Americans would want to change places with the people of any other nation in the world. 1 believe that a great majority of Australians have sentiments about their country similar to those expressed by the late President about his country. However, on 1st July, in the State of Victoria, begins the introduction of the bugging legislation. 1 would like to make reference to the occasion when I first raised this matter in Parliament - on 20th April 1967 - when I asked the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) to consider the introduction of uniform legislation to ban the use of such devices. On 1 9th September that year the AttorneyGeneral said that at the first meeting of Attorneys-General concern was expressed at the possibility of invasion of privacy of the home.
The third occasion that [ raised this subject - on 30th May 1968 in another question to the Attorney-General - the Attorney-General said that he had been attending a conference in Teheran at which France had raised this problem. In the result there was general agreement that it was necessary to take some action to protect the privacy of individuals against the use of electronic devices for eavesdropping. On 27th August last year, during question time, I praised the action of the Victorian Government in introducing legislation for the purpose of protecting its people against bugging. Unfortunately, 1 have lived to regret that particular commendation. On 9th October last year in a speech on the adjournment I condemned the decision of the Victorian Government to give a blanket order permitting police to use bugging devices in their search for criminals and their determination to wipe out crime. At that time a gallup poll had been taken which established that 70% of the population was basically in favour of the use of devices, etc., for catching persons engaged in crime. However, I do not believe that those persons were asked to define in what area they would consider that permission should be given. 1 strongly believe that the average person - by far the majority of the population - will be opposed to the new laws in Victoria.
Victoria did amend its legislation so that the police did not have a blanket order, but as from 1st June, according to a reference in a Melbourne newspaper, the police will be able to use the devices if they have the written permission of a stipendiary magistrate. This is all very well. On the surface it appears that the Victorian Government has raised the level of permission required before use can be made of these methods, but when we consider that Victoria has 48 stipendiary magistrates, Queensland 54, New South Wales 82 with 7 more to be appointed in the near future, and we add to them a number of customs officials and security officers, it means that on the east coast of Australia alone over 200 people will have the right to sign authorities that will enable other persons to embark on eavesdropping by using these particular methods.
As a citizen and as a member of this Parliament I protest most strongly at so many people being given the right to decide whether or not the lives of individuals will be invaded. I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) and he has assured me that this right will be restricted to the Comptroller-General and furthermore that the Comptroller-General will delegate his authority only to a few in each State - only to the very top men. If it is good enough for the Minister for Customs and Excise to recognise that this would be an infringement of civil rights if applied widely, why cannot the Victorian Government see it in that light? lt frightens me, particularly when I look back on past comments made by the Attorney-General, that such devices can be used to record conversations held in innocent surroundings and without knowledge. He said that the report the AttorneysGeneral were discussing was similar for all States and had much in common with the Victorian reports. I ask whether or not every State in Australia is considering similar legislation.
I do not believe that this is merely a case of the police being able to obtain evidence. It has been suggested that the use of devices such as these enables police to gather evidence a lot easier than they otherwise would against persons who offer bribes. By the use of these devices they can pin them on the spot. At the present time there are devices not much bigger than the pin I have in my hand, which can record a conversation some 30 feet away. I believe that the future holds a lot that we need to fear. Honourable members may recall a Four Corners’ programme last year which showed a private detective in Sydney sitting in his car with a little device on the dash board listening to a conversation in a room 200 yards away transmitted by means of a magnetised little box which had been stuck to a bed beneath the mattress. That device was being used to collect divorce evidence.
I believe that the average person does not understand or appreciate just how dangerous these devices are or how much they can intrude into our lives. I am not against the use of devices in the detection of crime and the apprehension of those who take part in destroying property and in causing injury to other persons, but I believe that the use of these devices should he authorised only by people such as supreme court judges. When we consider that there are 191 stipendiary magistrates on the east coast of the mainland we must realise that they are almost two bob a dozen. This is such a basic matter of the protection of the individual that the right to authorise the use of these devices should be vested only in the most responsible persons and those occupying the highest positions in the land.
The Attorney-General should make available to all State governments a document setting out the various kinds of eavesdropping devices and so on which now are being produced overseas so that the State governments can evaluate for themselves the danger to our society. I call on the Minister for Customs and Excise to introduce legislation forbidding the importation into this country of devices of this kind, and I call on every State government in Australia to introduce complementary legislation to ban their manufacture and distribution. This nation, I believe, is on the brink of danger. If we do not take a stand now, every State government will be giving permission to persons in various positions to authorise police officers and the like to listen in to private conversations. It is a basic private right that a person should be able to carry on a conversation without the fear of someone listening. If something is not done shortly we will see throughout Australia exactly the same position as exists in Victoria right now.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.29 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Following upon Ministerial inquiry would you please supply urgently details of first aid facilities in Postmaster-General’s Department in South Australia.’
The matter was discussed with the Health Department in Adelaide by a responsible officer of my South Australian Administration during which it was suggested that in the interests of uniformity of information the request might be channelled through Post Office Headquarters. At no time did my South Australian Branch refuse to supply the information but having made the suggestion for redirection of the request, assumed no further action was necessary until again approached. My South Australian Branch heard nothing further from the Department of Health in Adelaide, nor was any request made to Post Office Headquarters for the information to be made available on a Commonwealth basis.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Comparable information on the overall position of national service registrants is only available annually. I have released statements, copies of which were distributed to all honourable members, of the position as at 30th April 1966, 30th June 1967 and 30th June 1968.
Number of persons registered:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What sums have been repatriated from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to (a) Australia and (b) other countries in each of the last five years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As Papua and New Guinea is part of the Australian monetary system and as the trading and savings banks operating in the Territory are branches of Australian banks it is not possible to determine precisely the sums that have been repatriated from Papua and New Guinea to Australia.
Provisional estimates of the balance of payments on current account for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea have been made for the period 1960-61 to 1966-67. These estimates, summarised in the accompanying table, cover conceptually, all transactions in goods and services and all transfer payments between the Territory and the rest of the world (including Australia) and are thought to provide a reasonable indication of the balance of payments of the Territory.
The Preliminary Bulletin of Overseas Investment for 1967-68 prepared by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics shows that income on direct investment receivable (but not necessarily actually received) by Australian companies from branches and subsidiaries in the Territory was $9 million in 1967-68, while investment by Australian companies in companies in Papua and NewGuinea amounted to $19 million in 1967-68 and $16 million in 1966-67. The figures for Australian investment in the Territory cover increases in investment by some investors offset by withdrawals of investment by other investors and do not represent an actual movement of funds between Australia and Papua and New Guinea as they include unremitted profits of branches and undistributed profits of subsidiaries of Australian companies in the Territory.
Sufficient information is not available to enable a break-down to be made between those transactions involving Papua and New Guinea and Australia and those involving Papua and New Guinea and the rest of the world, excluding Australia. Because of the close relationship between the two countries and the Australian currency common to both, a large number of Papua and New Guinea transactions are settled in and through Australia and are not separately identifiable. Officers of my Department have been collaborating with the Commonwealth Statistician and the Reserve Bank of Australia to improve the information available on financial flows to and from the Territory.
Unemployment (Question No. 1375)
asked the Minister for
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
What are the (a) numbers and (b) percentages unemployed among (i) youths and (ii) school leavers in (A) each district employment office area in Queensland and (B) each State and Territory?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Table 1 below shows the number of youths and male school leavers registered for employment at the end of March 1969 in Queensland by each District Employment Office area. Table 2 shows similar information for each State and Territory.
As relevant work force data are not available the numbers of youths and school leavers registered cannot be expressed as percentages of the work force.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatria tion has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The main conditions under which the allowances are available are summarised below, separately for the 1 914-18 War, and for the 1939- 45 War and subsequent operations:
To receive a decoration allowance, an Australian ex-serviceman must:
have been awarded a specified decoration (see below); and
Only one decoration allowance may be paid irrespective of the number of decorations awarded.
Decorations won by officers do not attract decoration allowance.
Subject to the foregoing, decorations in respect of which decoration allowance may be awarded are:
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Distinguished Flying Medal
To receive a decoration allowance, an Australian ex-serviceman must:
have been awarded a specified decoration (see below); and
No decoration allowance is payable to officers on or above the ranks of Lieutenant (Navy), Captain (Army), Flight Lieutenant (Air Force) and relative ranks, except where they are receiving a war pension at a special rate payable under the Second Schedule to the Repatriation Act, or at the temporarily totally incapacitated or intermediate rates payable under the First Schedule to the Act.
Decorations in respect of which decoration allowance may be awarded are as shown above for the 1914-18 War and, in addition, the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Military Medal and George Cross.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The Minister for Works has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Will he review the rate at student child endowment which is lower than the rate paid before the student reaches 16 years of age in larger families, with the result that such students, unless they obtain work or a scholarship, immediately cost their parents more to maintain?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Student child endowment rates wilt be considered as part of the annual review of social services benefits during the preparation of the forthcoming Budget
ns asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
How many persons are (a) imprisoned and (b) awaiting trial or sentence under the National Service Act?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Presumably the honourable member’s question relates to men who fail to comply with a call-up notice and on conviction are liable to imprisonment if they refuse to enter into a recognizance to obey a further notice, or if enlisted, fail to render the service for which they are liable.
Three men have been prosecuted under these provisions resulting in their imprisonment and one of them, shortly after his conviction, was released on licence on his undertaking to render the service under the National Service Act that he is liable to render. Action was initiated against a fourth man, but the proceedings were withdrawn when he enlisted before the case came on for hearing.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician has advised that official estimates of gross national product at constant prices have been compiled only for financial years and from 1948-49. The period has been covered by two overlapping series, one at average prices of 1953-54 (1948-49 to 1959-60) and the other at average prices of 1959-60 (1953-54 to 1967-68).
Using these official series, it is possible to derive a measure of the sort requested, beginning at 1948-49 and with 1967-68 as the latest available year. In order to provide a continuous series, it is first necessary that the two overlapping series of gross national product at constant prices are linked. There is no theoretical basis for preferring, as the basis for the link, any one year during the overlap period (i.e. 1953-54 to 1959-60) to any other year or combination of years in this period. In the present exercise, a link has been made on the basis of the earliest possible year, 1953-54. The resulting estimates have been expressed ‘per head of mean population’ and, converted to index number form, are shown in the table. The table also shows the percentage by which the figure for 1967-68 exceeds the figure for each of the preceding years in the series. It should bc noted that the results obtained may differ to some extent according to the basis adopted for linking the two overlapping series of gross national product at constant prices (for example, if 1959-60 is taken as the basis for the link, the resulting ‘per head’ measure would have shown an increase of 49.6% over the period from 1948-49 to 1967-68, instead of 47.9% as shown in the table).
The standard rate of age pension has been revalued in terms of the Consumer Price Index for 1967-68. This rate of pension was increased to $14 weekly (excluding supplementary assistance) as from 10th October 1968. lt is important to bear in mind that it is impossible to compile a single general measure that will show, for all purposes and in all classes of transactions, the change in the value of money from one time to another. Strictly speaking the Consumer Price Index relates only to purchasing power over the list of items of the index combined in their specified proportions. The validity of its use in any broader sense or in dealing with a particular problem (such as value of pensions over time) is a question of judgment by prospective users, on the facts of the case, and in the tight of the definition of the index.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690514_reps_26_hor63/>.