27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I inform the House of the death on1 6th March 1971 of Mr Roy Crawford Wheeler who was a member of this House for the division of Mitchell from1949 to 1961. On behalf of the House,I have forwarded a message of sympathy to his wife and family. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I invite honourable members to rise in their places. (Honourable members having stood in their places)
-I thank the House.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter Valley areas respectfully showeth:
That the Queensland Aboriginal and Islanders Act is Discriminatory
That Article 1 of Declaration of Human Rights says:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’
That Queensland Aborigines and Islanders are not equal, in that they are not entitled to use their money or property as they so desire.
That this Legislation should immediately be repealed.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps towards the abolition of this discriminatory Legislation, by applying pressure to the Queensland Government.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Mr Speaker, I desire to inform the House that the Minister for Defence (Mr Gorton) is leaving today for South Vietnam in order to assess the military situation and the progress made towards Vietnamisation. He is expected to return to Australia on 21st March and during his absence the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) will bc Acting Minister for Defence.
– I give notice that, at the next sitting,I shall move:
That the City Areas Lease Ordinance 1970 (No. 45 of 1970) and the Leases (Special Purposes) Ordinance 1970 (No. 46 of 1970), made under the Seat of Government Administration Act 1910-1970, be disallowed.
I give notice furtherthat, at the next sitting, I shall move:
That this House is of the opinion that the matter of land tenure and land administration, planning and development in the Australian Capital Territory should be referred by the Minister for the Interior to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory for examination and report.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and is supplementary to the question which I asked yesterday of the Minister for Defence and in which I suggested bringing forward the helicopter programme. The Prime Minister is aware, becauseI know that he has spoken to them, that there is in Canberra today a deputation of workers and union officials associated with the aircraft industry in Victoria. These people are deeply concerned about the future of this great industry. I ask the right honourable gentleman: Will he arrange an early conference with his Minister for Supply, Minister for Defence and Minister for Labour and National Service, who are involved in fhe future of this industry, with a view to establishing stability in its operations, bearing in mind Australia’s needs, defence and civil, and halting the imminent dismissals in the industry?
– The honourable gentleman is correct when he says that I spoke to some delegates who came here today from the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. I suggested that they might put their proposals to the Minister for Supply who is primarily responsible for the continuation of the helicopter programme. I subsequently spoke to the Minister for Supply and he agreed to meet the delegates. I understand he has done that. Already Cabinet has looked at the problem of the stability of the aircraft industry in Australia. As the Minister for Defence said yesterday, arrangements have been made for part of the helicopter programme to be developed at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. I will also speak immediately to the Minister for Supply, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Labour and National Service to see that once again a submission is put to Cabinet so that we can give the matter further consideration.
– Is the
Minister for Immigration aware that a percentage of Australian university graduates from Asian countries, after being refused residential status in Australia, migrate to developed countries such as Canada? Does the Minister agree that it appears senseless for Australia to educate even one Asian for the benefit of a developed country when the scheme is meant to assist the socalled developing countries? Remembering that we cannot dictate policy for other countries, will the Minister give consideration to instigating the convening of an international conference of developed migrant-accepting countries so that the intention of our contribution might become nothing but 100 per cent effective?
– Since the programme for private overseas students was initiated, some tens of thousands of students, mainly from the South East Asian and Pacific areas, who have been educated in Australia, have returned to their homelands and have made a meaningful contribution to the economic development of the countries concerned. At the present time there are in Australia some 10,000 private overseas students studying under this programme. As the honourable gentleman by implication said, if not by direct statement, the purpose of the programme is to assist the developing countries by increasing their numbers of qualified people in areas of special and particular need. Some weeks ago I did check the number of students who return to their homelands and I was informed that some 86 per cent of students leaving Australia state their intention of returning to their homelands, recognising of course, as the vast majority do, their obligation to assist their country and to meet the objectives of the programme which I have mentioned.
In his final comment the honourable gentleman suggested that a conference of nations should be called to consider the problem which arises when some students do not return to their homelands. While I have a high regard for the honourable gentleman and the suggestions he puts forward in this House, frankly I am not disposed to accept the suggestion he has made on this occasion. After ali, it has long been the policy of this Government that the immigration requirements of any country are matters solely for the judgment of the country concerned. In the light of this principle I do not believe it would be proper to convene any meeting of nations which would have as its intention a discussion of the admission requirements of countries other than Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Does he consider that General Sir Thomas Daly behaved with propriety when he accepted the invitation of the former Prime Minister to meet him and discuss allegations about the conduct of the former Minister for Defence? Does he consider that the actions of the former Minister for Defence were sufficiently serious to justify this unprecedented procedure? Has he made, representations to the new Prime Minister to ensure that he or the Minister for Defence is not again by-passed in this way?
– I do not accept any of the assumptions implicit in the honourable member’s question. I think the matter has been already fully explored.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that almost every overseas segment of the wool industry including processors, scourers, combers, toppers, spinners and weavers is apprehensive about the operations of the Australian Wool Commission? Is he aware that these people fear that a collapse of the whole industry is imminent? Will the Minister table in this House the financial position of the
Commission as at 28th February and give full particulars of stockpiles of wool? Is the Minister aware that lack of confidence is a factor in the present depressed price of wool?
– I assure the honourable member that artificially generated lack of confidence in the Australian Wool Commission is aggravating the present deplorably low state of the market. Any circumstances which would tend to provoke further lack of confidence would be calamitous to not only the purchasing policy of the Commission but the whole of the Australian economy.
– 1 direct a question to the Prime Minister. He will be aware that the latest report of the Commissioner of Taxation has revealed that a little more than 1 per cent of companies - the monopoly or oligopoly sector - accounted for more than 57 per cent of company profits. Will he agree that it is this sector which is mainly responsible for the inflation in our community? ls he aware that this sector includes in the cost of goods it manufactures or distributes a type of indirect tax which allows for future growth as welt as an excessive profit? What action does his Government intend to take to curb this sector of industry and check inflation?
– No, I am not aware of that part of the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. We live in an economy where it is frequently necessary to base prices not on historical costs but on replacement costs and it is frequently necessary to build into the pricing mechanism the amount of money that will be necessary to cover the increased cost of purchase of equipment. If this were not done we could nol take advantage of technological developments and we would not be able to prevent costs rising at a much more substantial rate than they are at the moment. Nonetheless 1 will have a look at the question asked by the honourable gentleman and if I think it is desirable I will give him a more detailed reply.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry 1 refer to a fairly recent meeting of rep resentatives of the meat industry in Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America which was held in Denver, Colorado, to discuss plans to promote and expand the market for lamb in the United States. What was the outcome of the meeting? Can the Government see any way in which it can help the fat lamb industry in its export activity?
– The honourable gentleman is correct in his surmise that there has been a joint meeting of representatives of the lamb producers of the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia as a result of which it has been determined that a campaign should be embarked upon, with the joint support of these 3 bodies, to try to promote the palatability and marketing of lamb on the United States market. T believe that this campaign will considerably assist the exporting countries - New Zealand and Australia - and will also be to the advantage of the United States lamb producers. In this way it might help to offset some of the marked resistance which, in the past, has been demonstrated by ranchers in the United States to imports of meat, from Australia and New Zealand in particular. With regard to other ways in which help can be given to expand lamb markets, the honourable gentleman will also be aware that a lamb committee has been constituted by the Australian Meat Board, and at this stage it is pursuing active inquiries into ways in which improved markets can be developed overseas and also into ways in which Australian housewives can be persuaded to accept the pre-eminent position of lamb as a meat.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question, ls it a fact that the Government has decided, and ail interested parties have been advised, that tariff concessions on a wide range of commercial vehicle components will be cancelled as from 1st October next? I ask him: What is the justification in the present circumstances for a decision which will so obviously increase the costs of all those who use trucks in primary production, in manufacturing enterprises and in transport businesses?
– I am not aware of this matter at all.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask the Minister: In view of the widespread public uncertainty and speculation, will he inform the House what action the Government intends to take with respect to the collection of outstanding fines owed by several trade unions?
– Yesterday the Commonwealth Industrial Court imposed fines of $100 a day for the period covered by the notice in relation to Commonwealth Engineering (N.S.W.) Pty Ltd. That strike commenced on 19th January and the strike still continues. The procedures taken in relation to that notice were taken under the amended legislation that came into effect last year. The purpose of that legislation was to make it clear that action in the courts should be the last resort and that there should be opportunity for the consideration of merits before a matter went to court. That this has been done here is apparent from the length of the strike. It has been before one conciliator, 3 commissioners and a presidential member who spent 6 days trying to settle the matter before he issued his certificate.
One thing has been made abundantly clear, and that is that the law must be enforced. There are 2 very important principles involved. One is that no union or group of unions can stand above the law. The second is that the industrial law is depended upon by 95 per cent of the Australian community. I have used that figure before, and it was used by the Leader of the Opposition and another front bench member of his Party in a debate this week. The principle involved is: Does the arbitration system survive? No other principle is involved. It is in the interest of 95 per cent of the community that the system survive. Some who possess power, and want a situation in which they take the best of the arbitration system and its benefits, put the system in jeopardy by saying: ‘Irrespective of what we have gained by the use of force we will press for more.’ I believe that when the Government considers this matter in detail it will come to the conclusion that the interests of this nation require that the system should be maintained and therefore that thelaw should be enforced.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer him to the fall in employment in the shipbuilding industry. When does he expect to announce the Australian Shipbuilding Board’s approval or acceptance of further shipbuilding tenders?
– The Government’s policy in this regard is well known. It is simply to try to maintain in operation efficient shipbuilding yards. The Australian Shipbuilding Board has before it a number of tenders for ships to be constructed in the near future. I am not able to say when I will be announcing the decisions.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, going right outside his official position by making a threat to certain commercial organisations that he will call their employees out on strike or declare the organisations black if they do not supply Bourke’s in Melbourne with certain goods at prices which he dictates? Is Mr Hawke authorised to take this action under the Trade Practices Act, or is it just plain public blackmail?
– In 1969 we, as a nation, suffered from almost 2 million man-days lost by strikes. In 1970 the figure had climbed to almost 3 million man-days. The strike weapon is two sided. Sometimes it may be serving an immediate purpose to the people on strike, but it does immense social and industrial damage and therefore it is not a weapon that should be acceptable to the public in general. Mr Hawke has two distinct identities: He is a captain of commerce apparently, and he is the President of the ACTU. When the strike weapon is mobilised to serve political purposes we all condemn it. When it is mobilised to serve an individual commercial purpose the position should be intolerable to the Australian community. If there is a commercial dispute - as apparently there is - it ought to be resolved in a commercial manner, not by depriving this community of the production of the men on strike and not by depriving the families of the men on strike of their income which is so necessary to maintain their standard of living.
– 1 ask the AttorneyGeneral whether, pursuant to the statements made over a month ago by the former Prime Minister, any steps have yet been taken to prepare amendments to the Trade Practices Act to ensure that in Australia, as already happens throughout north America and western Europe, retail price maintenance is outlawed by the law of the country and is policed by the government of the country instead of being left, as it is at the moment, to trade unionists and discount stores?
– I would answer the question asked of me by the Leader of the Opposition by saying that this matter is currently under consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it the Government’s intention in the near future to submit to a further poll of growers of dried vine fruits a plan for the stabilisation of the Australian dried vine fruits industry?
– Representatives of the Australian Dried Fruits Association came to see me in Canberra about a fortnight ago and discussed with me proposals surrounding a stabilisation scheme for the industry on a basis somewhat different from that which was submitted by poll to the growers about 12 to 18 months ago. They explained to me that the circumstances of production this year were such that they expected the overall quantities to be down considerably and individual growers to be very adversely affected in the result. Whether or not the scheme can be developed to the point of resolution fairly quickly, I do not know, but discussions are continuing between officers of ray Department and the Australian Dried Fruits Association. When 1 am in a position to advise the honourable gentleman further I will do so.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Which Minister provided the selective briefing - in plainer language, leaked the story - published today of the recommendations to Cabinet by the Minister for Labour and National Service for a major confrontation with the trade unions? Is it correct, as published, that the Cabinet paper being prepared by that Minister recommends action to bring about this clash, one ground being that it must gain substantial party political advantage for the Liberal and Country Parties, another ground being that it is a course backed by major groups of powerful employers? Is this so, despite the grave public injury calculated to be caused by such a tactic? If the facts as published are not entirely correct - or if they are inconvenient - can the House rely on it that the Minister involved will be required to make a public denial?
– I am not aware of the leak that the honourable gentleman says has occurred. What I can say is that every single statement made by him is false. No such recommendations have been made by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health, ls it a fact that a compromise has been negotiated between the South Australian Labor Government and that State’s branch of the Australian Medical Association concerning proposed increases in medical fees? Does the proposal mean that any fee increases will now be restricted to consultations and home visits? Can the Minister indicate what progress he has made in negotiations with the National Executive of the Australian Medical Association to prevent the proposed overall 15 per cent increase in medical fees that would affect all persons outside South Australia?
– 1 am not aware that anything has been negotiated between the South Australian branch of the Australian Medical Association and the South Australian Government. I think that the honourable gentleman may be referring to the statement which I read in the Press made by the South Australian President of the Australian Medical Association in which he said that the South Australian branch of the AMA would be putting to a special meeting of the Federal Assembly of the AMA on 17th April that particular proposition. He also expressed a view about where things stood in relation to the statements that had been made previously by the Premier of South Australia in connection with getting the Prices Commission to look at medical fees. I think this is the situation which has probably led the honourable gentleman to the impression which he conveyed in his question.
I think that I have already answered the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question. Let me remind him of the events that took place. The previous Prime Minister called the Federal Executive of the Australian Medical Association and the presidents of the State branches to meet him in Canberra a couple of weeks ago. He put the Government’s position to the AMA. As a result of that, the AMA undertook to consider its position. The Government is still waiting to hear from the Association in response to that.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. It is supplementary to those asked by the honourable member for Warringah and the honourable member for Eden-Monaro concerning the fining of 5 unions yesterday for penal clauses breaches. If this is persevered with, it undoubtedly will result in one of the most serious industrial upheavals for many years.
-Order! The honourable member is giving information. 1 suggest that he ask his question.
– 1 ask the right honourable gentleman whether he will immediately initiate discussions between the Federal Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions in a genuine attempt to conciliate in this dispute, as it is obvious that the provocative statement made earlier today by the Minister for Labour and National Service will only worsen the position. Also, does the right honourable gentleman agree with the reported attitude of the managing director of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd, Mr Gibbs, who states that he does not consider that industrial upheaval should be precipitated by collection of the fines?
– As to” the last part of the question, I think the honourable gentleman has misunderstood what was said by the managing director of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd. What he said was that he felt that the old fines should not be collected. That is his view, but it is one that I do not support and one that is not supported by the Government. As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I did read in today’s newspapers that Mr Hawke would like to have a discussion with me prior to the date on which the fines that were imposed yesterday were collected or an attempt was made to collect them.
The first part of the answer depends upon the procedures that have to be followed before the fines can, in fact, be collected. I leave it to my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service to explain at a later date how an order must first be made; action must be taken before the Industrial Registrar; letters must be written to the unions in order to put them in default of payment; and certain other procedures have to be followed before the Government may decide what it will finally do with regard to the collection of the fines themselves.
Secondly, I had discussions early this morning with the Minister for Labour and National Service and other Ministers so that arrangements could be made to meet Mr Hawke as soon as possible in order to discuss this question of fines. I believe that my colleague is writing to Mr Hawke. It is highly probable that the letter has already been dispatched. It should be in the hands of Mr Hawke, without any doubt, by the latter part of this afternoon.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Snipping and Transport. He will be aware that twice during the past few weeks the train from Port Augusta to Alice Springs on the Central Australia Railway has been derailed just north of the Northern Territory and South Australian border. In spite of the Government’s intention to build a standard gauge railway from Tarcool to Alice Springs, bypassing the areas where the derailments occurred, will the Minister see to it that the present 3 feet 6 inches line is maintained to a suitable safety standard pending the building of the new standard gauge line?
– The present line between Marree and Alice Springs, as the honourable member says, is a 3 feet 6 inches line. It is very prone to flooding and creates a great deal of difficulty for the Railways
Commissioner. Because of that, the Commonwealth Government has agreed to the construction of a new line about SOO miles in length and of the standard gauge. We have informed the South Australian Government of that decision and we are now negotiating about that. The honourable member can rest assured that the Railways Commissioner will keep the safety standard of the present railway at the best possible level in the meantime.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. Was the Minister aware that the Army in Vietnam was running down its civic action activities, or did the Army take action by default in the absence of any interest or decision from Canberra?
– The assumption again is incorrect. The Army was not running down its civic action programmes. The controversial aspect that was raised a few weeks ago arose from a paper produced by the Chief of Staff Australian Force Vietnam which was headed ‘Guidelines for Planning’ and nothing more than that, and certain viewpoints were expressed therein. It was then to be discussed by Army officers, then by the Ambassador and then by the Minister for Defence and myself.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask the Minister to inform the House whether it is a fact that as a result of a recent reduction in tariff on man made fibres, dumping prices at which acrylics are available in Australia are having an adverse effect on the competitive price of Australian processed wool and in turn having an adverse effect on the Australian wool processing industry. If this is a fact will the Minister undertake to have a further look at the level of tariff on acrylics and man made fibres in order that the competitive situation of the Australian industry can be maintained?
– This question has not been raised with me. I sometimes wonder about the logic of the argument used by people that this tariff is having an adverse effect on the wool industry. These people talk in terms of a high tariff here being of assistance to the manufacturers of man made fibres and enabling them to command a bigger part of the market. But let us look at this question conversely. If we lower the tariff protection on man made fibres we only allow more overseas products to come on to the market and so in turn compete with wool.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Has he made any estimate of the time taken and the cost of answering each of the many questions on notice - they now number nearly 3,000 with another 20 added today - asked by the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Opposition, and has he any evidence that a significant part of the information which has been compiled has been used for a constructive purpose?
– I do not have the full details of the actual cost to the various departments of providing answers to the questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition or, for that matter, the honourable member for Hindmarsh. What I do know is that it seems obvious that it is intended to obstruct the sensible conduct of government business-
– I rise to order. Surely that remark is a contravention of the standing order which provides that an honourable member should not cast aspersions upon other honourable members. That is a part of the procedure of the House. The Prime Minister probably has not read that part of the Standing Orders.
-Order! The right honourable gentleman has been asked a question and he is answering it. I do not think that at this stage there has been any aspersion to which an honourable member could take objection.
– Speaking again to the point of order, 1 point out that the right honourable gentleman asserted that the placing of the questions on the notice paper was designed to obstruct the working of the Government, the Parliament and the Departments, and if that is not an aspersion what is it?
– Order! I do not think that is a reflection on an individual member.
– If it had been, Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition could well have objected himself. But he did not do so and one of his cohorts or followers had to take up the cudgels on his behalf. From my personal experience of looking after the interests of 3 departments I believe that a great number of questions are seeking information that could be of no practical use to anyone. In most of these cases the amount of effort that has to be put in by the departments in order to provide the answers is so great that I believe some action will have to be taken sooner or later to determine whether this practice should not be restricted in some way, particularly in the case of the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Firstly, does his Government intend to take delivery of the Fill aircraft ordered from the United States nearly a decade ago? If not, what does he intend to do to recoup some of the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent on the aircraft? Secondly, are the Fill aircraft to be flown to Canberra later this year and are they to be used for fly-past displays? If so, will the right honourable gentleman see that Canberra residents are informed both of the intended presence of the aircraft and of their propensity to crash with the frequency of Liberal Prime Ministers and other Ministers so that property and life may be adequately insured and protected?
– If the honourable member had been listening diligently to the debates that took place in this House he would have known from the then Minister for Defence exactly what the Government’s intentions are about the Fill aircraft. 1 shall find out the exact pages of reference in the parliamentary debates and see that they are communicated to the honourable member.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the serious financial situation developing in local government? Have State Government representatives approached the Commonwealth to obtain assistance for this very important form of government? If so, what was the result of such representation?
– My experience suggests that State governments take the same view as the Commonwealth Government of the relationship of local government finance to the Commonwealth, namely that it is a State matter and a State responsibility. If local authorities wish to seek direct access to the Commonwealth for funds - as sometimes they do - representations should be made through the State Government concerned. It is not within my memory that a State Government has invited the Commonwealth in to discuss any council’s financial position.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise who 1 find has no difficulty or reluctance in answering questions on notice or without notice. I ask him: Is it a fact that the Government has decided and that all interested parties have been advised that tariff concessions on a wide range of commercial vehicle components will be cancelled as from 1st October next. What is the justification in present circumstances for a decision which will so obviously increase the costs of all those who use trucks in primary production, in manufacturing enterprises and in transport businesses?
– 1 thank the honourable member for his complimentary remarks but the first question which flashes to my mind is: ‘Oh death, where is thy kiss?’ Memory tells me that in 1965 a Tariff Board report on the commercial vehicle industry which listed the components of commercial vehicles or trucks was considered and accepted by Cabinet and accepted by this Parliament. At the time the Tariff Board said that the commercial vehicle industry should try to obtain its requirements more and more from local sources. As the honourable gentleman would know, the Act gives the Minister for Customs and Excise, or his delegate, power to admit under by-law or duty free those goods for which a suitable equivalent is not reasonably available in Australia.
Because a great number of parts for trucks have not been made locally, parts from overseas have been admitted duty free. Approaches to my Department have been made over a period by the component manufacturers, who say that they do manufacture these parts now. So I am obliged by the law passed by this Parliament to cancel those by-law concessions which hitherto had allowed parts from other countries to be admitted duty free. The policy of my Department, which has been accepted by the industry, is in certain instances to look at one industry at a time. When looking at the commercial vehicle industry, we considered that it would be unfair to cancel these concessions immediately because it would throw the industry into disarray in the short term. Therefore it was agreed that they should apply for a further period of 12 months. I think the date on which these concessions will be cancelled is 1st October 1971. The industry was advised of this date well in advance to give it a period of time in which to readjust.
– Does the Prime Minister recall that his predecessor at the opening of the last Senate election campaign promised that the Government would bring in legislation to inplement proposals for more help for the sick aged in nursing homes? Is he aware of the recent announcement of the South Australian Government that, in an effort to meet the grave financial crisis facing non-profit nursing homes for the aged, it has made a grant of $1 per occupied bed per day over the period from January to September of this year? Is he further aware that the total cost to that State will be $300,000? Since he has modified his predecessor’s attitude on age and other pensions, I ask: What decision has been made on the timing and the amount of the increased Commonwealth subsidies for nursing homes promised 5 months ago?
– I am not in a position to give an explicit answer to this question, but as soon as I leave the chamber I will make inquiries in my Department and let the honourable gentleman know what the facts are.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During question time the Minister for Trade and Industry implied that I had suggested that tariffs on imported man-made fibres should be reduced in order to make these fibres competitive. The reverse was the case. I pointed out that by reducing tariffs last year the Government had placed Australian processed wool in a non-competitive situation with imported and dumped fibres. I asked that this situation be examined and, if possible, reviewed. I want to set that matter straight because I think the Minister misunderstood the question.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1971.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1971.
New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Government to report to Parliament on the operations of the Australian Wool Commission and on the critical economic condition of the Australian wool industry.
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).
– There is still difficulty or even reluctance to appreciate fully that the critical economic condition of the Australian Wool Industry is a national disaster. It is a tragedy of profound importance. Already the deteriorating economic conditions of the wool industry are having a marked effect on the Australian economy. During the last 8 months Australia’s wool income has fallen by $140m or by 36 per cent compared with the corresponding period in 1969-70. The sheep industry’s indebtedness to lending institutions is now running at about § 1,000m. The debt has increased by more than 500 per cent in the last 5 years. This rate of increase in rural indebtedness is paralleled only by the situation that arose in the great depression of 40 years ago.
At least one-third of Australia’s 93,000 wool producers are in a serious financial situation and under current conditions have no future but bankruptcy. The Australian Wool Commission within a period of only a few months of operation has amassed a stockpile of wool to a value of about S30m. As a result of the Commission’s decision, that wool is now unavailable for sale. Storage costs of this growing stockpile are already becoming an embarrassment and could well amount to $20 a bale per annum. Has the Government been consulted in the decision to freeze the massive stockpile? If it has been consulted, why has the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) not informed this Parliament of that most important decision?
The Australian Wool Commission has panicked because of its failure to bludgeon the wool market into accepting higher prices. Grave fears are now arising that the Commission’s activities could wreck the entire economic foundation of the wool industry. Some authorities even predict that this massive stockpile of wool will reach 700,000 bales by the end of June next. The aggressive policy of stockpiling wool with the objective of forcing up wool prices is now seriously depressing the market and the immediate future level of wool prices. As the Commission buys and stockpiles more wool, synthetics progressively capture an increasingly greater share of the world’s textile markets.
Powerful sections of the industry are now on the verge of revolt. One of Australia’s largest farmer organisations - the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation - has condemned the present tactics of the Commission and has recommended thai the Government should act as quickly as possible to acquire the entire wool clip. Even senior members of the Australian Wool Board have taken the unprecedented action of suggesting that wool production should be controlled and, if necessary, restricted by quotas. Meanwhile the highly organised and efficient synthetic fibre industry is operating at incredibly low prices, relative to wool, and making the position of wool on the world’s markets almost intolerable.
In the last 10 years the prices of nylon, acrylic and polyester fibres have fallen by an average of 35 per cent, relative to the price of wool, even though wool prices have fallen also and are now at bedrock levels. A further crippling factor is the insidious increase in costs which is virtually smashing the viability of almost every sector of sheep production in Australia. Although a large proportion of Australia’s most important export industry is faced with financial disaster and even extinction, the Government has made no effort to inform the Parliament, the wool growers or the taxpayers of this nation of its proposed actions in the immediate future to counter this crisis.
The Government once again is guilty of gross complacency, lt has no forward plan. It is obviously backing the stockpiling activities of the Wool Commission to the hilt on the fallacious assumption that it is in the best interests of wool to remove wool from the world markets. The Government is sitting back hiding behind the skirts of the Wool Commission and handing the Australian wool markets on a plate to synthetic manufacturers. All this Government has done in recent months, to the knowledge of this Parliament and the people, is to echo those profound sentiments of the majestic and incredibly costly International Wool Secretariat that the price of wool is expected to rise perhaps to 40c per lb in the next 10 years. Even if costs in Australia were stabilised for a long term price of 40c per lb this would wipe out a large proportion of wool growers in Australia. But with the Government taking no real action to reduce fixed costs like property rates, land rents and interest rates as well as general farm production costs, the wool industry is entitled to be told of the seriousness of the consequences and the Governments attitude to the decisions of the Wool Commission.
The nation is entitled to be told the truth about the future of wool in relation to synthetics. Wool growers cannot be expected to wait for 10 years to judge whether the Government’s prediction of a price of 40c will be right or wrong. There may be no increase in the world price of wool. In fact, international evidence strongly points to the conclusion that the gap in price between synthetics and wool will widen in favour of synthetics The sheer volume of throughput in the highly organised synthetic factories as compared with the great number of small units of sheep production give decided comparative economic advantages to synthetics. The continuous stockpiling of wool is not sound policy if it means the permanent loss of valuable markets. The Federal Government must take the initiative and attempt to negotiate with other governments, such as those of Japan, the United Kingdom and countries on the European Continent in an endeavour to shift this mounting stockpile of wool and place it strategically on world wool markets. Every effort should be made to negotiate bilateral agreements with major wool consuming countries, even if this does involve government to government trading and the acquisition of the wool clip by the Commission.
Amendments should be made to the Australian Wool Commission Act to give the Commission power, if authorised by the Government, to acquire wool and to abandon the auction system if this be in the interests of wool growers, the taxpayer and the nation. At the same time the Commission should be given the power to negotiate and sell wool direct to manufacturers throughout the world. The Commission should have, in regard to acquisition and disposal of wool, the same flexible powers over wheat as are possessed by the Australian Wheat Board. All of us, including wool growers, are aware of the dangers of cost inflation to export industries. The action of deliberately stockpiling wool must be regarded as highly inflationary unless the wool sold is able to command a significantly higher price. This has not happened.
Up to the present time no authoritative organisation has expressed the conviction that a state of chronic over-production may exist in the wool industry or at least among certain types of wool. The Government point-blank refuses even to countenance the view that wool may be oversupplied in relation to the specialised markets on which the future of wool so heavily depends. Most industry leaders take the view that there are serious production and marketing problems, including collusion and buying cartels, but so far they refuse to admit that over-production in relation to market demand may be the real cause. Always there is the argument that all wool can be sold. But at what price? Wool growers are now seriously questioning the future of wool. The plain fact is that the world price of wool has fallen to bedrock level. The only conclusion that can be reached, unless buyer collusion or buyer resistance exists on a very significant scale, is that the market is over-supplied with certain types of wool. In other words, the low price of wool is due to the relationship between the supply and price of wool and the supply and price of synthetics.
The streamlined and highly efficient marketing and promotion techniques for synthetic fibres, which are backed by enormous industrial research programmes, are a threat of unqualified importance, lt would be an act of gross irresponsibility for industry leaders or any government to refuse to recognise this technical and economic threat. The Opposition demands of this Government that it face up to its responsibilities. The primary producers who are in trouble have for too long had to listen to the Government’s pathetic bleating that it will not act at all unless the industry tells it what to do. The consistent failure of the Liberal-Country Party Government to provide forward thinking and positive leadership and to implement progressive agricultural policies has undoubtedly resulted in economic hardships to primary industries and ancillary servicing industries.
What are the real recommendations of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the Australian Wool Board and the International Woo) Secretariat on the best course of action to be taken by Australia in the immediate future? This is what the wool growers and the Parliament want to know. Do these organisations endorse the policies of the Wool Commission of stockpiling wool and refusing it to be sold or placed on the world market in competition with synthetics? Why can the Government not tell the Parliament and the wool growers whether these illustrious organisations, which are financed by wool growers, fully support the actions of the Wool Commission in deep freezing and stockpiling wool? I find it incredible that the Australian Wool Board and the International Wool Secretariat could endorse a policy which deliberately reduces the amount of wool available 10 textile manufacturers throughout the world. If wool had a monopoly certainly (his type of action to regulate prices would be justified, but wool is faced with dynamic cutthroat competition in the textile fibre industry. The Wool Commission is gambling heavily on the short term and apparently believes that its actions will be justified by a rise in wool prices. lt is the future of wool which the Government should be seriously considering and acting upon. What is the Government doing about the immediate future of wool? lt must be clear to everyone that the future of wool will depend heavily upon its capacity to compete in a fiercely competitive market with man-made fibres, if wool fails to do this its future will be tied to small, selective markets which concentrate on highly priced commodities for an exclusive clientele, lt will be analagous to the demand for fillet steak relative to the more popular and lower priced cuts which collectively yield the highest return from a carcass. 1 believe that the present policy of the Wool Commission of deliberately acquiring mounting stockpiles of wool and withdrawing it from the market is a dangerous gamble which has all the earmarks of backfiring. To withdraw wool from the cutthroat markets of the world at a time when these markets are exposed to gluts the over-production of all fibres - man made and natural - is playing right into the hands of the synthetics manufacturers, who are quickly filling the vacuum left by the reduction in the supply of wool on the world market.
The Opposition wants a full debate on this most ‘ important subject. The wool industry is Australia’s greatest export earning industry. There have been export earnings of up to $800m a year in the past. The economic lifeblood of this nation depends on these export earnings, lt would seem that the Government is apathetic to the degree that it has even refused to tell the wool growers what it intends to do. They have to wait for shock announcements from the Wool Commission as to what is going to happen next. It is quite obvious that the Government, as the elected representatives of the people of Australia, has a responsibility to tell the Parliament, the wool growers and the taxpayers what it intends to do to save and to salvage this great Australian industry.
– Having read the terms of the matter of public importance which the Opposition has sought to debate this afternoon and having listened to the speech of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), I am a little confused. The honourable member started off by saying that wool should not be stockpiled and then he proceeded to enunciate a theory which implied that all of the wool clip should be acquired. If the wool clip is acquired it is quite obvious that the position will be reached where all the wool that is grown will be handled by a central marketing organisation. If the whole of the Australian wool clip is to be acquired it is obvious that dependence will have to be placed on finding marketing outlets for it. The first part of the honourable member’s argument was that wool should not be acquired for stockpiling, but he finished up by saying that it should. Honourable members should therefore pardon my confusion.
I am completely in agreement with the honourable member as far as the general predicament of wool growers is concerned. Over the last few years there has been a very marked deterioration in the prices received by wool growers. The honourable member has matched this deterioration with the very considerable increase in indebtedness. 1 find no disagreement with the figures he gave. It is because there has been such a substantial decline in wool prices that wool prices are at the lowest point today that they have been at for 23 years. Costs have risen, too. The general circumstances of the average producer of wool are far worse than the general circumstances of almost any other member of the community. It was because of this situation that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), who was my predecessor in the portfolio of Primary Industry, introduced a Bill late last year to constitute the Australian Wool Commission. The general circumstances surrounding the creation of the Wool Commission are now history.
We are all aware that the main motivating factor which brought together at long last the representatives of the differing groups within the wool industry was their concern at the circumstances of the collapse of the wool market last year. However, the fall last year was nowhere near as critical as it has been in the opening months of this year. The Wool Commission was constituted specifically at the request of the members of the 2 principal national wool growing organisations, namely, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. It was constituted with the objective of trying to put into the auction market place a body which would be able to act in accordance with the criteria which were laid down quite extensively within the Bill and further elucidated by the then Minister for Primary Industry in his second reading speech to the House on 27th October last. There have been, of course, continual discussions, in accordance with the requirements of the legislation, between the Commission and the Government. There has also been, within the context of the Outlook Conference, an opportunity to examine many of the problems which the honourable member for Dawson referred to and which he sees as being probably the principal factors which make the wool market so uncertain at the present time.
At the Outlook Conference papers were presented by all who are responsible for the handling of wool - the grower, the buyer, the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board and the officers of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Department of Primary Industry. Each of these persons looked very closely at the problem which the honourable member has suggested is quite critical, namely, the future expectancy of the demand for wool and the relationship between the supply and price of synthetics and the supply and price of wool. I do not disagree with many of the conclusions the honourable member arrived at. Indeed, I would like to draw the attention of the House to some of the observations made by the present Managing Director of the International Wool Secretariat, Mr Alf Maiden, who in a report made to the Australian Wool Industry Conference yesterday, set out for all of us to read and understand and for wool growers to look at and consider the circumstances which he sees as being probably the most significant in affecting the adverse trend in wool conditions today. Mr Maiden said:
The basic reasons tor the low wool prices are the same as those outlined in my reports and statements over the last 12 months - weakening of demand brought about by mild but widespread recession in major wool consuming countries, high interest rates and the effect of exceptional increases in supply over the 196S-69 and 1969-70 seasons. If there is any change I should want to make today in our analysis it is in the weighting of the 3 factors 1 have just mentioned. The supply situation is no longer as unfavourable to wool as it was and interest rates are now slightly lower in various countries. Furthermore the impact of interest rates on wool prices through the increased costs of stock holding must at some time become attenuated as those who are holding stocks can to some extent adjust their stocks to ratios.
He went on to enunciate some bearish factors which he sees as being quite significant in determining the present decline. In particular, of course, he speaks about the general textile recession. That is the first point that I should like to bring to the notice of the House.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I ask the Minister whether he would mind tabling that document in accordance with standing order 321.
– I have only one copy. I will table a copy of it.
– That will be all right.
– I cannot quite see why the honourable gentleman is so concerned with the document being tabled. I certainly will be happy to table it, but it is a publishable document.
– I raised the point of order because sometimes in the Parliament Ministers quote from confidential documents and there is no way in which honourable members can look at those quotations in context.
– But I have said that the document is available and is publishable. The significant factor that I wanted to bring to the attention of the House was that what we are concerned with is not just a recession in wool prices but a general recession in textile demand. This is quite apparent from the extent to which the synthetic fibre manufacturers in some countries and in some mills have curtailed their level of production and have significantly reduced the volume of the raw materials that they are making available to the top makers and to the mills in the textile trade. This partly is the result of the economic factors that I mentioned a moment ago. lt is difficult and complex to isolate the circumstances that surround the decline in profitability in Japan, western Europe and even in the United States of America, lt is even more difficult to understand that there should be a decline in demand when wool sales have been maintained at the level of about 30c per lb since the beginning of this selling season. The price varies only to the extent to which the quality varies. The average price is far below anything that has been paid for wool during the past 23 years. When one considers that on 6th March 1964 the selling price was 1 2 1 c per Jb and compares that wilh today’s price, and when one realises that as many clothes are still being worn, as many garments are being made and as many products are being produced, it is hard to assess why there should be such a marked falling off in demand for textiles generally. In this respect one factor needs to be considered, and that is, that apparently for all those who are wool buyers and who are equally buyers of other fibres the important thing is not how much they pay but how much more or less they are required to pay than their competitors. It is this, more than any other factor, which lies behind the present problem of determining just what sort of impact there would be if the Wool Commission were not active within the market.
The paper that was presented by Mr Maiden referred to a few of the bullish factors, which I think I should mention. Mr Maiden pointed to the very considerable efforts that are being made by the Nixon Administration to stimulate the American economy. He pointed to the further reduction in interest rates in a number of countries. He suggested that there could well be an upswing in Japanese purchases in the remainder of the current season. One of the factors which concerns me about this year’s purchases is the extent to which generally there has been a lessening in demand from Japan which, no doubt, is partly related to Japanese dependency on the American market for their own exports. When one considers that only about 7 per cent of the wool purchased by Japan finishes up in exports from Japan to the United States one finds it difficult to understand why Japanese purchases of wool should be down to the extent that they are.
There is another factor to which Mr Maiden referred and which also is of tremendous significance, that is, that the wool trade may be expected to learn to live with the Australian Wool Commission. I mentioned, in answer to a question in the House today, my concern at the extent to which, among the rumours that fly around in the wool trade, such a pronounced attack has been levelled against the operations of the Commission generally. Whilst I would not suggest that the honourable member for Dawson had this in mind when proposing the discussion of this matter of public importance today, the criticism that has been levelled within the trade, within the Press and even within this Parliament at the circumstances and operations of the Commission has created a feeling of uncertainty among buyers. In the conclusions that he drew in his report to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Mr Vines says:
A number of members of the wool trade however, including some who. for understandable reasons, did not approve of the Commission being formed, have said that in their opinion the market would have been 4c to 5c lower than it has been. If this is true, and it could well be, it means that we shall have avoided a loss of proceeds of upwards of $80m.
To my mind that really is the significance of the operations of the Commission in the market. There is a potential within which the Australian Wool Commission could have saved the Australian economy about $80m in export earnings. Whilst it is true that there are some bearish factors and some bullish factors in the wool market, in Mr Vines’s presentation to the Conference, in Mr Maiden’s presentation to the Conference and in the submissions that have been made to the Agricultural Outlook Conference by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, there is a reasonable expectancy that the market will firm later in 1971. The timing and the extent of the improvement obviously cannot be determined.
In these circumstances one finds it hard to report daily, weekly or monthly to the Parliament just what is happening to the wool trade. The circumstances of the wool trade always have been a little uncertain. One factor that is quite new is the extent to which, because of the operations of the Commission, the forward selling that so used to dominate the market has now been considerably limited. In other words the quantity of wool that the Australian Wool Commission holds is largely wool that otherwise would be somewhere in the speculators’ stores or possibly in a pipeline. It is wool that normally would not necessarily be going into consumption. It is difficult to assess just how much greater that stockpile is than the quantity of wool in the pipeline otherwise would have been.
The circumstances of the wool industry are of tremendous economic concern. It is in recognition of that concern that over the years the Government has introduced a number of successive measures all of which have been designed to offset the expenses of the wool grower. It was because of the circumstances cf depression in the wool market that the Australian Wool Commission was constituted. I believe that discussion of this subject as a matter of public importance is quite unjustified but to the extent lo which it may draw to the attention of those who are critics of the Wool Commission the efficacy of the Commission’s operations perhaps some good may yet come from it.
– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has done a national service today in bringing this matter before the Parliament. He did so because of the critical situation of the wool industry at the present time and the apparent absence of firm Government policies and firm plans or even guidelines for the future in relation to wool. The drift of the situation was recognised the other day when Australia’s largest farmer organisation decided to ask the Federal Government to act as quickly as possible to acquire the entire Australian wool clip. That was done against the situation which has developed in the industry in relation to the operations of the Australian Wool Commission.
The fact is that the cartel which is enshrined in wool buying operations is making a monkey out of the Government and the Commission. The cartel is showing us that for obvious reasons the feed-in into its pipeline is being kept to a minimum. All that the cartel has to do is to ride it out. The cartel knows, for example, that the will of the Government in doing anything in relation to wool is not terribly strong. So what is the cartel doing? It is refraining from feeding into the pipeline the material that it needs. It is waiting for the crash of the’ Commission and then it will pick up what it needs. Look at the pies and monopolies which have operated in wool buying over the years. We can see that the pattern is clear and definite. At the present time some of the most powerful monopoly forces in the nation have joined together to frighten the Government into doing as little as it can and what it is doing is not very much. The Australian Wool Commission is a very pallid organisation compared with the kind of full blooded body that we had in mind to set up as a national wool authority and which we will set up in government. The cartel knows that a gesture has been made, but it is only a gesture so it is doing everything it possibly can to create a situation in which it can pick up bargains. That is the clear situation at the present time.
The Minister came into the discussion on this matter of public importance and indicated that all possible was being done. He said that we will have to wait until the market in the world tells us where we are going. He concedes that wool prices are the lowest for 23 years and the growers are in crisis, but he has no new policies and no firm answer to that. The activities of the greatest monopolies which have caused the crisis are ignored completely. The buying monopoly is clear, definite and established. In fact it was established as long ago as 1955 when Mr Justice Cook indicated clearly the existence of 6 major wool pies. Some of them represent the most powerful forces in the political life of Australia at the present time. It should not be overlooked that perhaps they represent the supreme forces in the political life of Australia at the present time.
It is well worth remembering that the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) entered a debate some years ago in relation to wool and was definite that there was a defence to be made of the present system and the present operation of the market forces which have brought us to this state. What I put to the Minister, and to his colleagues who no doubt will support him, is that the present honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony), as Minister for Primary Industry, talked about wool going up to 40c in 10 years. I noticed that the honourable member for Dawson put that clearly to the present Minister for Primary
Industry (Mr Sinclair) and gave him an opportunity to say whether that was his assessment of the situation, and he avoided the question. He did not reply to it. He left it there. If we accept as the target the assessment of the honourable member for Richmond that the price of wool will rise to 40c in 10 years, how can we marry that with the announcement made the other day by the new officer in charge of the Wool Commission Intelligence Service who said:
We can expect wool prices of the order of 30c to 32c in the future. The days of 38c and better are over. In fact we will be lucky to hold at 30c during the next 10 years.
The Government should make up its mind on exactly what voice it has in this matter. The Minister has said 40c in 10 years and then we hear another voice of government saying that the price will be of the order of 30c to 32c in the future. That indicates that perhaps only the biggest will survive. Again we come back to the ugly concept in government thinking - get big or get out. Only the corporation which has its fingers not only in producing wool but also in processing and handling it will be able to survive in a situation like that. That truly is the logic behind that statement. Let us again have clarification of the situation. Growers across the nation who are in crisis - 100,000 of them - want to know. They will not be satisfied with leaving it to what the market might or might not do. Either the Government has some guidance to offer and some intestinal fortitude with which to face up to the exploiters in the wool situation or it has not.
We have dealt with the cartel situation. It is obvious, definite and known to everyone who has studied closely the operations of wool buying in this country. It is well known. But the Government has also run away from the shipping aspect of this matter and the fact that Australian wool growers have contributed very large sums of money over recent years for the privilege of using the present shipping arrangements. After 21 years of uninterrupted power the Government has accepted repeated freight rises which are crippling industries, the wool industry among them. Let us look briefly at the situation. In 1966 the freight rate for wool was $94 a ton and for canned fruit in containers $24 a ton. After the introduction of the Government’s famous container arrangement, door to door, the rate for wool went to $104 a ton. Since then, further increases have taken place.
– Has the honourable member ever compared the land and rail transport of wool with the sea transport?
– The exploiting forces have encompassed not only the sea but the land. The Minister would know that wool has helped to subsidise rail systems in New South Wales and other States for a very long time and there has been no action on it. Perhaps there was justification for it when the wool industry was strong and buoyant but there is no justification whatsoever for accepting the present situation in respect of handling or freight, internally or externally. Yet the Government has accepted it. There has been no action on it. The wool industry has been in a state of crisis for a considerable time now. Many of the families in it are on the edge of disaster but still there has been no concerted attack on these problems. We are still freighting wool in a container inside another container at 4 times what it would cost if we went into open competition on the coastline. The Minister may smile but I represent a great number of people who are not smiling at the present time.
– You also represent a lot of nonsense most of the time.
– I am delighted that the Minister has shown his colours in defending the 3 monopolies and the 3 situations that I have mentioned.
– Do you not favour the Commission?
– If the honourable member for Wimmera wants to fight the next election on the present situation in regard to wool he may do so, and I wish him luck because he will need it. He has allowed the wool grower to be exploited not only by overseas cartels but also in the interests of overseas shipping concerns which have forced on this industry and on others the highest freight rates in the world. If he defends them I am ashamed of him.
– Do not get excited.
– It is about time a little excitement were engendered in these matters and a little more done than simply rising in one’s place, as the Minister did when replying to the honourable member for Dawson, and saying: “We have to rely on what the market will do.’ The wool industry is a colonial industry in our country. We process only 6 per cent of the clip. We do less processing now, perhaps, than we did many years ago, certainly at the basic level of scouring. The Government’s attitude is: ‘We will look into it. We will have some inquiries made.’ After 21 years in office the Government says that it will make some inquiries about the basic processing of Australian wool. We should be joining with New Zealand and South Africa to bring some world stability to the situation and to confront the monopoly which is waiting for the crash. If the industry is allowed to crash it will be the responsibility not only of the Minister but also of the Government and the people who support it and who have no interest in the survival of the family enterprise but look for the day when the corporation will be able to handle wool at both ends, that is, the growing and producing end, the handling and even-
– The Minister says: Rubbish’. Therefore he defends the present situation. All I can say is that he has a very poor reply to the urgent needs of an industry in dire trouble at this time. The policy of the Australian Labor Party is clear and given the chance we will fulfil it.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Not for the first time I find myself speaking after that poor man’s Al Jolson, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). Similarly not for the first time I found some difficulty in following his argument. For instance, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said, as I understood him, that the Australian Wool Commission was unsuccessfully trying to force wool prices up and that this could not be done. On the other hand the honourable member for Riverina criticised the Australian Wool Commission for not forcing prices up far enough. I find this yet another fascinating example of the conflicting attitudes of the Opposition shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honour- able member for Dawson, and his ever present, and one cannot help but suspect, rather unwelcome shadower. 1 find it extraordinary that this motion should have been moved by the Opposition. The inevitable inference is that the Opposition lacks confidence in the Australian WOOl Commission and wishes to spread this lack of confidence to the wool growers, to the wool trade and to the rest of Australia. Why on earth should the Opposition want to do this? Quite frankly I find it difficult to understand why. The only reason 1 can think of is that it is just one further example of the Labor Party’s attitude to the Australian economy as a whole. The Opposition is always looking round for another peg on which to hang its doom and gloom policies. It is almost as if the Labor Party had a vested interest in prophesying recession or depression in Australia. When it cannot find any other industry on which to hang it, it turns to the poor old wool industry. This is like kicking a man when he is down.
Let us consider the terms of the motion moved today. Firstly, the Opposition is critical of the Government for its ‘failure to report to Parliament on the operations of the Australian Wool Commission’. [ would like to ask the Opposition a question, Mr Deputy Speaker. Does the Australian Labor Party want the Australian Wool Commission to publish all its confidential intelligence information? This information is confidential because publication of it would harm the competitive position of wool. Is that what the Opposition wants? Does it want to splash across the front pages of the world’s Press details of confidential information which wool competitors would give anything to get hold of? If that is nol what the Opposition wants then it has given very little thought to the wording of this motion because that would be the inevitable result.
The second point about which the Opposition is critical of the Government is its ‘failure’ to report to Parliament ‘on the critical economic condition of the Australian wool industry’. Anybody who knows anything at all about wool does not need a report to Parliament to be informed of the economic conditions of the wool industry. It is no coincidence that this request has been made by honourable members opposite, lt is for the very good reason that they do not know anything about the industry. How many wool growers are there on the Opposition side of the House? There is none. Therefore it is not surprising that they want something which would tell them about the plight of the industry. It is a sad reflection on the supposed alternative Australian Government to have to admit that it does not know anything about the country’s greatest single industry, ft is even more unfortunate that its shortcomings in this regard are not limited to the wool industry.
Let us examine the consequences of acceding to the request of the Opposition. It is obvious that the Opposition is trying to throw doubt on the activities and competence of the Australian Wool Commission at the very time when confidence in the Commission has never been more vital to the industry’s survival. The Opposition’s alleged concern for the industry is nothing but a shallow mockery, a particularly unpleasant example of political expediency which will be recognised as such without any difficulty at all by the wool growers of Australia. If there is one thing which has to be stressed at the present time it is confidence in the Commission. What would happen if this confidence were undermined as the Australian Labor Party apparently is trying to do? The already depressed world textile market would have yet another element of uncertainty introduced into its calculations. Obviously if those in that industry thought that their competitors might get wool more cheaply than they, they would stay out of the market and perhaps turn to synthetics. This point was made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair).
The Opposition apparently believes that the stocks held by the Commission are a matter for concern but what does it think should be done? If it considers the stocks are too high, presumably it would like to see them unloaded at prices even lower than they are now. Such action would further depress the market and certainly would be a body blow to the wool growers.
– T rise to a point of order. The honourable member for Corangamite has been saying what we are going to do. The motion before the House relates to a request for the Government to tell us what it is going to do.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– Expert opinion is that the activities of the Commission have resulted in present prices being about 4c or 5c per lb more than they otherwise would be. Over the Australian wool clip this would amount to approximately $80m. Yet the Opposition is questioning the operations of the Commission.
– Who said that?
– That was the impression I got.
– Who said it would be 4c or 5c?
– That is the opinion I saw.
– Of Mr Vines?
– No, not only of Mr Vines but of many other experts as well. What is the alternative of the Opposition? I gather its alternative is that it would advocate complete acquisition of the wool clip. However we have to consider the price at which the clip would be acquired. If it is acquired at the present price of about 30c per lb this would confer no benefit to the grower at all. If it was acquired at, say, 40c per lb this almost inevitably would result in an enormous stockpile and could involve the Australian taxpayers in a bill of, perhaps, $200m. The Australian Government has a responsibility to all sections of the community and to act in such a fashion would be a denial of responsibility.
The wool industry at the moment is living in hope - hope for an improved trading position in textiles throughout the world and therefore for better prices; hope for reductions in costs as a result of the quickest possible introduction of new handling and selling techniques through objective measurement. We heard the honourable member for Dawson speak glowingly of the marketing expertise of the synthetic fibre producers. He said not a word about the tremendous effort made by all sections of the wool trade to modernise the wool selling system by objective measurement. Many dedicated and very experienced men are giving generously of their time and talents to help to solve these tremendous problems. The Government has seen to it that adequate finance is available for their work and in my opinion their efforts provide the most promising line of investigation for the future of the industry. Perhaps there are some commercial risks involved in the operations of the Commission. All I can say is that the wool growers of Australia have every reason to be grateful ?fiat at this very difficult time we have such a Commission. From personal experience, something with which honourable members opposite would not be familiar, I know that woo! growers appreciate the actions of the Commission and the Government on their behalf. If we destroy faith in the Commission at the. present lime we run the risk of destroying faith in the industry itself.
– The House must agree that this is a very important and necessary debate. I was rather distressed to find when the House was asked whether it would allow this debate to take place that not one honourable member on the Government side rose to support the proposition. Not one member of the Australian Country Party, the party which pretends to be the watchdog of rural industry but which, of course, is only the pawn of the manufacturers, rose to support the motion for this discussion. One can only conclude that they see no good reason why (he wool growers should be told anything of the activity or inactivity of the Australian Wool Commission, lt seems also that they see no good reason why the taxpayers should be told how their money is being used. I was also very distressed to learn from the remarks of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) that this Government, under no circumstances apparently, will accept any responsibility for the marketing of wool or any other rural product, lt is prepared to leave it to any other instrumentality irrespective of what the effect may be. disastrous or otherwise, on the industry concerned.
The Australian Wool Commission Bill was introduced in this House on 27th October last year and we were told on that occasion by Government speakers that it was the answer to all the problems of the wool industry and that growers could look forward to a very rosy future. Shortly after the Commission was set up a Senate election was held. Just prior to that election we noticed that there was a slight firming in wool prices. We had the spectacle of supporters of the Government running around the countryside telling the people what the Wool Commission had achieved. The people were told what the Commission hud sold and that there were great things for the future. Of course, it is well known now that the price of wool did not continue to firm after the Senate elections. A number of people are suspicious as to why this should be. They have become even more suspicious since they have found that this Government is not prepared to make a report to Parliament on the activities of the Commission.
Wool growers are not the only people who are concerned about this situation. They are not the only ones concerned about what: the Commission is doing, will be doing or is expected to do. There is also that great body of Australian people - the taxpayers - who want to know what the expenditure of their money is achieving. As recently as the end of January this year the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board said that the Government had given an assurance that no limit would be placed on the amount or value of wool which can be bought or stocked by the Commission. In introducing the Bill to set up the Commission the Minister said that it hud been estimated that the Commission would require about SI 15m by way of working capital in a full year and about SI 8.7m to meet annual operating costs. T suppose that those amounts were arrived at on the assumption that there would be some sale of stocks every now and then. However, if sales do not take place we can expect that the amounts referred to by the Minister will advance very considerably. If the extent of purchases indicates that this will happen surely this Parliament is entitled to know what the situation will be.
The Australian Labor Party, with some criticisms, supported the Bill when it was introduced last year. We gave it our entire support but offered some suggestions and some criticisms. In view of this surely we are also entitled to be told from time to time just what is actually happening in relation lo the activities of the Commission so that we can give the matter some consideration and proceed along lines that we think would be best for wool growers and for Australia. It is quite clear, of course, that the Commission is not having the effect that supporters of the Government hoped it would have and that we all hoped it would have. If it were having this success there would be no lack of statements from the Government telling us what the Commission was achieving and telling the wool growers how lucky they were to have such a government in office. So here again we find a situation that is pretty hard to follow. Of course, it may be claimed that information given to this House about the activities of the Commission could tip the hand of the buyers as to what the thoughts of the Commission may be. This is a lot of nonsense because surely no-one would suggest that the wool buyers do not know what is going on; surely no-one would suggest that they are not aware of moves that will or may be made. Therefore, this can be no excuse for the Government’s failure to report.
Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the wool growing industry has lost confidence in the situation. 1 am informed that in one district in my electorate every sheep station is up for sale and very few offers of purchase are coming forward. The offers that are being made are such as could not possibly be accepted. If this situation is to extend further to other parts of Australia - and undoubtedly it will unless something positive is done about the price of wool - not only will it have an adverse effect on wool growers but also it will have a very, very serious effect upon Australia itself. The wool industry still provides some 20 per cent of our export income. The industry also provides - and this is very important - the wherewithal for inland centres and communities to exist. These centres can exist only as long as the wool growing industry continues to exist. This is certainly something that should be kept in mind. Therefore, if it is at all physically and financially possible to save the wool industry and to place it on a firm footing we must do just this. If the present organisations are not able to ensure the future of the wool industry we will have to find ways and means by which this can be done. However if we are not told what the Commission is doing, what are its suc cesses, or its failures or how it is going along, how can we decide whether something else should be done?
Mention has been made about what the price of wool will be in 10 years time. The question was raised as to what would happen in a decade from now and whether there would be a price of 40c per lb for wool. The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) put the other side to the House when he said that this would not occur. But even if this does occur and the price is 40c in 10 years, unless something is done about the cost of production that will be no better in the overall situation than a price of 25c today. Therefore, to say that the price for wool will be 40c in 10 years time does not mean a thing. The Government has done nothing to try to check the ever increasing cost of production. This is another field in which it has failed. The Government gives tariff protection to manufacturers of items for the rural industry but does absolutely nothing to ensure that they make their articles available to industry at what could be termed a reasonable price. This is one of the things that is going on. It does not matter what the price of wool, the price of wheat or the price of any other rural product happens to be. Unless something is done to check the ever increasing cost of production people in these industries cannot continue. This is certainly one of the situations in which we find ourselves today.
I support fully the contention of the honourable member for Dawson that the Government has failed in its duty and responsibility to this Parliament, to the wool growers and everyone else who is associated with the industry, and to the people of Australia by not giving to this Parliament some report, some information or some advice, not only about what are or are not the activities of the Commission, but also about the economics of the industry generally.
– Some 2 hours ago I was informed that a matter of public importance would be introduced into this House by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). Along with my colleagues the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) who is Secretary of the Government Members
Wool Committee, I as Chairman of that Committee am very happy lo be able in the few minutes 1 have available to answer some of the questions that have been raised this afternoon by members of the Opposition. I believe that people outside this place must be notified of the broad principles for which the Opposition is fighting in relation to such matters as the wool industry. We have seen today an exercise which has proved beyond all doubt the lack of knowledge of honourable members opposite about this industry. This can be seen in the arguments they have presented.
Firstly I would like to refer to the honourable member for Dawson. He talked about total acquisition and in the same breath he said that we should not buy in wool. He cannot have 2 principles. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) endeavoured to do all he could to sap the confidence of the wool industry, the wool trade and anyone that is connected with this industry to a degree where the price of wool could go even lower than it is today. The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) in this place yesterday opposed decisions made by the wheat industry. Today, because one section of a rural industry decides that it wants an acquisition scheme the honourable member supports that proposal. This proves that these honourable members do not know where they are going. They are diving all over the place. There is not one wool grower on the other side of the House. Indeed, there is not even a primary producer over there. How would they be expected to know anything about the wool industry?
I have no quarrel with the statement that the wool industry is in trouble. The v/Jol industry certainly does have tough times ahead. It has had tough times for quite a while, but so have many of our export industries. I have no quarrel with what was said in that regard. But the question is: What is the Government doing to try to assist the industry? I could spend some time on this subject, but I have not the time available to me to mention all that the Government has done. It has provided much assistance as drought relief and superphosphate subsidies amongst many other things which have been available for a number of years. In recent times the Government has introduced many new forms of assistance, including $30m financial assistance to the wool industry. The grant for research and promotion has been doubled and now runs at S27m a year while the growers’ contribution has been halved. The honourable member for Riverina must appreciate this. In addition SI. 5m has been set aside for objective measurement in the next 2 Tears. that is, 1970-71 and 1971-72.
The Government has provided a guarantee to the Australian Wool Board to enable it to borrow for rebuilding wool stores, and if the industry requires it a further guarantee is available for the building and equipping of the integrated wool selling complexes. There was no mention of this point by the Opposition; yet they could require about S90m. The Commonwealth has agreed to make $100m available for farm and debt reconstruction and, naturally, a big percentage of it will find its way to the wool industry. Finally there was the introduction of what I call the Anthony Wool Commission which provides a real breakthrough for the industry in orderly marketing. The timing of the setting up of the Australian Wool Commission is terribly important, so let us consider that aspect. I have not time to mention all the finer details, but I remind honourable members that in April 1970 the Australian Wool Industry Conference voted in favour of the establishment of a single marketing authority. In July 1970 a sub-committee of the Australian Wool Board reported favourably on that suggestion. On 6th October the then Minister for Primary Industry announced the Government’s approval of the scheme and its intention to set up the Australian Wool Commission. The first sale was held on 16th November. If ever a Minister and a Government deserve to be congratulated, they deserve to be congratulated on the way that the suggestion was implemented and on its timing. When the chips were down the Government got in behind the industry and not only said that it would do these things but also did them.
Many comments have been made about the Commission since it came into operation. Generally speaking wool growers and others in the wool industry have spoken very favourably of the Commission. I followed some of the movements of the then Minister for Primary Industry when he went into Queensland not so very long ago and on not fewer than 4 occasions in that State large gatherings of wool growers passed resolutions complimenting the Minister and the Government and affirming their confidence in the Commission. Unfortunately, however, many people are prepared to snipe at the Commission’s activities. We have seen instances of that this afternoon. This is to be regretted. The Commission is doing a magnificent job in the circumstances, but one will always find knockers who are prepared to criticise anything that has been introduced by the Government. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the price of wool has now dropped to a level which would never have been thought of a few years ago. But since the price has fallen the industry has acted, the Minister and the Government have acted, and we now see in operation the Australian Wool Commission.
There has been much criticism today. The honourable member for Dawson talked about not buying wool. He said that we should not buy so much wool, but at almost the same time he spoke in favour of acquisition. Where does the honourable member stand on these matters? One minute he says that we must not buy wool and the next minute he says that we must take it or acquire it. I think anyone can see through his attitude; he is after some cheap political kudos. We know that the Commission is buying in a considerable amount of wool, but what would have been the position if the Commission had not been doing so? Today we are receiving an average of 29c or 30c per lb for our wool and the trade is buying 75 per cent or 80 per cent of it. If the Commission had not been in operation could we have expected to receive 29c or 30c per lb for wool today? I very much doubt it. The most important point is that individual wool growers are being paid for the wool which is purchased by the Commission.
Perhaps I should explain at this stage that although Australia’s wool clip is in the vicinity of 6 million bales we cannot expect the trade to buy and use wool on a day to day basis. The trade purchases and keeps in reserve certain quantities and qualities to suit its requirements. Today, because the trade has the assurance that wool is available at a price, it is not carrying surplus stocks. Because surplus stocks are being reduced there is a tendency for the price to fall. Eventually when stocks run out we hope to. see an increase in price. We must remember that it is no sin to carry a load of wool in store. Wool is a non-perishable item. I ask honourable members to consider how much produce other industries keep in reserve. Even the wheat industry today, not only in Australia but also in all exporting countries, is carrying at least a 12 months’ surplus. Many other industries are doing the same thing. 1 sum up by saying that 1 have complete confidence in the Australian Wool Commission. I know that the industry has complete confidence in it and that there is no alternative to it at this stage. 1 have mentioned already the question of acquisition. It may be said that Australia had an acquisition scheme during the war. This is true, but it must be remembered also that during the war we had a firm price and a firm market. We do not have this situation today. 1 believe that the Wool Commission has a charter wide enough to enable it to buy wool and to sell wool by readmitting it through the auction system, by negotiation, by tender or in any other way. This is the first occasion, apart from war time, on which the wool industry has had any authority to dispose of wool by negotiation. It has never been able to do this before. In the circumstances 1 believe that this could be one of the most powerful weapons that the industry could have.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Order! 1 call the Minister for Immigration.
– I take a point of order. I was on my feet before the Minister. At least I am entitled to some courtesy. If the Minister wants to gag me, let him do so.
– Order! There is no substance to the point of order.
– But I want to raise this as a point of order.
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I want to raisea point of order but you make it very difficult. If I am not allowed to speak now 1 will speak on the adjournment tomorrow night.
– Order! I call the Minister.
Motion (by Mr Lynch) agreed to:
That the business of the day be called on.
– Mr Deputy Speaker. I wish to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) criticised me and said that I had stated that the entire wool clip should be acquired. I shall read from the Hansard report of what I did say:
One of Australia’s largest farmer organisations, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, has condemned the present tactics of the Commission and has recommended that the Government should act as quickly as possible to acquire the entire wool clip.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Clause 2. (1.) Subject to this section, this Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.
Section 43 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - “(2.) The Commission shall appoint such other officers and engage such temporary employees, as it thinks necessary.”.
After section 132 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “132a. - (1.) A summons for the appearance before a court of summary jurisdiction of a defendant charged with having committed a prescribed offence may be served upon the defendant by posting a copy of the summons as a registered letter addressed to the defendant at the address shown in the summons, or in any information, complaint or similar document relating to the summons, as his address. “(2.) An affidavit by a person staling that -
Senate’s amendment No. 1 .
In clause 2, after sub-clause (1.), insert the following sub-clause: “(1a.) The amendments of the Principal Act effected by sections 4a and6a, and by sub-section (2.) of section 8, of this Act shall take effect on the twenty-eighth day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 2.
After clause 4, insert the following new clause: “4a. Section 1 1 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 1.1.- (1.) A member of the Board shall be paid such remuneration, and such annual allowance (if any), as the Parliament provides, but until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-two, that remuneration and that allowance (if any) shall be as are prescribed. (2.) A member of the Board shall be paid such other allowances as are prescribed.’.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 3.
After clause 6, insert the following new clause: “6a. Section 33 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: -
Senate’s amendment No. 4.
In clause 8 at end of clause, add the following sub-clause: “(2.) Section 43 of the Principal Act is amended -
Senate’s amendment No. 5.
In clause 17, before sub-section (1.) of proposed section 132a, insert the following sub-section: “ ‘(1a.) A person who lays an information or makes a complaint alleging that another person has committed a prescribed offence shall state in the information or complaint the address of the place of residence or business last known to him of that other person.”.
Senate’s amendment No. 6.
In clause 17, in proposed new section 132a (1.), leave out “address shown in the summons, or in any information, complaint or similar document relating to the summons, as his address”, insert “address shown in any information or complaint relating to the summons as his address”.
Senate’s amendment No. 7.
In clause 17, in proposed new section 132a(2)(b), leave out “address shown in the summons, or in any information, complaint or similar document relating to the summons, as the address of the defendant”, insert “address shown in an information or complaint relating to the summons as the address of the defendant”.
Senate’s amendment No. 8.
In clause 17, in proposed new section 1 32a (4.) (d), after “conviction”, insert “or within such further period as the court allows”.
Senate’s amendment No. 9.
In clause 17, in proposed section 132a (4.), leave out “may”, insert “shall”.
Motion (by Mr Lynch) agreed to:
That the amendments be agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Division 4 of Part II of the Principal Act is repealed and the following Division inserted in its stead: -
Division 4. - Finances of the Commission. “52. - (1.) The Commission issubject to taxation under the laws of the Commonwealth. “(2.) Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, the Commission is not subject to taxation under a law of a State or of a Territory of the Commonwealth. “(3.) The Minister may declare, by instrument in writing under his hand, that the last preceding sub-section does not apply in relation to taxation under a specified law of a State or of a Territory of the Commonwealth.
In clause 7, in proposed new section 52 (3.), leave out “Minister may declare, by instrument in writing under his hand,”, insert “regulations may provide”.
Motion (by Mr Lynch) agreed to:
That the amendment be agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 24th February (vide page 591), on motion by Mr Hughes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the Opposition supports the Bill. The Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill 1971 is a very small Bill indeed. However, if honourable members are to follow it they will have to look through quite an amount of paper. The Bill amends the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act which was last consolidated up to 1959. Since then, there have been 6 subsequent amending Acts. However, 1 do not think there will be any necessity to go through the 7 separate Acts to get the gist of the present Bill.
There are only 2 points to which I wish to draw attention. We are still only tinkering with the position of the Federal judiciary. The creation of the Commonwealth superior court has been mooted for many years. I would certainly have thought that by this stage not only would this Court have been in existence, but also there would have been enough judges on it to staff the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court adequately. There is scarcely a Federal judge in any jurisdiction who does not hold a commission in at least one other jurisdiction. The most rapid perusal of the ‘Commonwealth Directory’ or of the ‘Federal Law Reports’ would establish that proposition. Years ago, it was expected that there would be a pool of Federal judges who would be able to sit in any of the existing jurisdictions and who would be members of the Commonwealth superior court. As it is, even after the passage of this Bill, the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court will have a smaller membership than any State court has had since the days of Governor Macquarie.
The other point that I would like to make is that pending the establishment of the Commonwealth superior court there will be no appeal from the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court except to the High Court of Australia itself. It is not reasonable to expect that the High Court should be concerned with appeals from decisions of judges of the Supreme Court of first instance. It was long ago suggested - I quote from a speech made by the former Attorney-General in introducing the Commonwealth Superior Court Bill on 21st November 1968 - that among the functions of the Commonwealth superior court would be this function:
It will be the general court of appeal from Territory supreme courts.
I must confess that I feel particularly frustrated about the delay in establishing the Commonwealth superior court. I first suggested its establishment at law conventions back in 1957. In this place I first suggested its establishment in a debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s
Department in 1958. An earlier AttorneyGeneral, Sir Garfield Barwick, was authorised by Cabinet to establish such a court in December 1962. In 1964, just before he became Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Garfield wrote an article for the initial issue of the ‘Federal Law Review’, the journal of the Law School of the School of General Studies at the Australian National University, outlining the functions of such a court. The former AttorneyGeneral, the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), made a ministerial statement concerning the court on 1 8th May 1967. As I have already said, he introduced the Commonwealth Superior Court Bill on 21st November 1968.
Earlier today and yesterday, a great number of references were made to the futility of questions on notice. I find that questions on notice on this matter are futile only because one cannot obtain an answer. As the present Attorney-General Mr Hughes knows I asked some 3 questions last year on this subject. They were intended as so many of my questions to him are intended to help him in achieving some reforms in the face of the torpor, the reluctance, the conservatism and the backwardness of his colleagues. I cannot quote the answers to those questions because they just show that no decision has yet been made in the matter.
– Surely you do not include me?
– No, I readily acknowledge that on a matter in which the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen), the AttorneyGeneral and I are united in our interests and our efforts - that is. off-shore mining and the continental shelf - we have tried to help one another. I hope that our efforts will meet with fruition even in the little time left to the present Government. My comments on the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill are limited to the fact that if only the efforts of AttorneyGeneral Barwick, Attorney-General Bowen and the present Attorney-General, following my own farsighted suggestions of 1957 and subsequent years, to have a Commonwealth superior court established had come to fruition, there would have been no need for this Bill. However, small as it is, trivial as it is, we support the Bill for what it is worth.
– In view of the fact that the distinguished Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spoke on this measure for only approximately 7 minutes perhaps very little calls for reply from me. As the Leader of the Opposition said, it is a comparatively small measure which merely increases the number of judges who may be appointed to the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. However, the significant matter is the reference in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) to the fact that the need for this Bill arose from the Government’s decision to establish a law reform commission for the Australian Capital Territory. The House will recall that the announcement of this decision was made by the AttorneyGeneral on 19th May 1970. That was a very significant step in the direction of the establishment of law reform in the Territory. Certainly so far as I was aware both the Attorney-General and the Government were fairly substantially commended for the Attorney-General’s announcement on that date.
Of course, the law reform commission will not have all-embracing jurisdiction so far as law reform is concerned, and in particular the Attorney-General specified in his statement on 19th May 1970 that the commission would not be concerned with what were referred to as ‘matters which involved significant policy decisions’. Those matters will remain in the general departmental analysis and examination of law reform. The machinery that has been in operation for some years has already produced a considerable number of reforms and it seems to be working fairly well. Nevertheless the fact remains - this was acknowledged by the Attorney-General when he announced the creation of the commission to the House last year - that many areas of law could well be examined very closely by a body such as the proposed law reform commission. As I say, the significant aspect of the measure is the fact that it is made necessary by the Commonwealth’s declared intention to establish such a commission and the fact that it will have as its chairman a judge of the court.
Having said that, it remains for me to refer only to the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition with respect to the establishment of a Commonwealth superior court which was proposed at one stage. My impression of this proposal was very favourable for some time. Being a legal practitioner before I came into this House I had occasion to examine public comment and discussion on the proposed Commonwealth superior court. I greeted with a great deal of approval some of the earlier proposals to establish that Court. 1 suppose it is an indication of the broadmindedness of those who comprise my profession that I have had some further and second thoughts. My present view, although I do not guarantee not to change it if subsequently contrary evidence comes before me, is that the establishment of a Commonwealth superior court would be perhaps a further fragmentation of the judicial structure throughout Australia and that such a fragmentation would not by any means be desirable.
As honourable members would be aware, there is a very wide-ranging structure of courts in Australia. There are the Commonwealth or Federal courts, as one might refer to them, starting with the High Court and the Bankruptcy Court. Then, of course, there is the whole range of State supreme courts, county courts, local courts of petty session and so on. We have already a fairly fragmented judicial structure. My view at the moment is that the establishment of a superior court would be a further fragmentation of that judicial structure, lt is very easy to say: ‘Well, yes, it would be desirable to have this Commonwealth court to take over a number of areas of federal judicial power.’ But when one looks nl the situation in more detail, particularly from the point of view of a legal practitioner, one sees that it is not necessarily a conclusively desirable proposal.
I thought that one particular oversight in the measure as it was proposed initially related to matrimonial causes. If the Commonwealth superior court had been established within the framework proposed it would not. on my understanding of it, have concerned itself with matrimonial causes. The State supreme courts vested with Federal jurisdiction would have continued io be concerned with those causes and would have to continue to deal with those matters on circuit, as they do now, and even travel to provincial cities in the States. However, wilh other Federal matters falling within the jurisdiction of the proposed superior court, one might find the rather ridiculous situation where both the State supreme court and the Commonwealth superior court were sitting at the same far-flung place perhaps on the same day but dealing with different matters. That is just an example of what might tend to bring about a further fragmentation of the judicial structure as it is in Australia. So one need not automatically accept, I say with respect, the rather glib assertion made by the Leader of the Opposition on this occasion and on other occasions that a Commonwealth superior court is conclusively desirable; but it is certainly a proposal that one should continue to look at with a fresh mind. The Attorney-General has reflected by his own attitude towards the creation of the proposed law reform commission that he will continue to look at this matter and other related matters.
As I say, 1 do not think it is necessary for me to go any further than to say merely that it is very desirable that the law reform commission should be established in the terms that have been outlined by the Attorney-General. This measure is made necessary by the proposal to have a judge of the Suprme Court of the Australian Capital Territory as chairman of that commission. One of the criticisms that has been made in relation to the establishment of the commission is that a judge will be the chairman of it. When one looks at the structure of law reform commissions both here and overseas I think one can go so far as to say that a judge is frequently the chairman of such commissions. I believe that it is very appropriate that a judge should be the chairman of this proposed commission.
Other criticisms have been made about this proposed commission, as they have been made about other law reform commissions. One criticism is that the commission may concern itself only with those matters referred to it by the AttorneyGeneral. Indeed, the proposed ordinance to establish the commission provides that the reference to the commission must be made by the Attorney-General. But it is significant to recall in considering this aspect that the commission itself may suggest to the Attorney-General that he make a reference on a particular matter worthy of examination. As a result of that, the
Attorney-General may well refer that matter to the commission for examination. That situation has existed in New South Wales for some years. Comments have been made, and I understand them to be correct, that that system has worked fairly well.
One must rely on the Attorney-General, on the Government and on the advice given to the Attorney-General, to ensure that this system works. But there is power for the Attorney-General to refer matters to the law reform commission. That power can be exercised at the prompting or suggestion of the commission itself. It could also be exercised at the suggestion of interested parties - the legal profession and other people concerned with the administration of the law. It would seem to me to be a workable proposal and is one that I personally welcome.
– In commenting on the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) said that the previous system for law reform in the Australian Capital Territory had to all accounts worked well. To any lawyer who practises in the Australian Capital Territory and has practised in the Territory and to any person learned in the law in the Territory that assertion is not correct. The story of law reform in recent years begins in about 1964 when Professor Richardson, the then Dean of the Law School at the School of General Studies in the Australian National University, saw fit, and was perhaps driven, to write a series of articles on the urgent need for law reform in the ACT. He highlighted and spelt out this need in great detail and his articles attracted a great deal of attention. It would be fair to say that 1964 was the commencement of the attack on the Government’s neglect of the problem of law reform in the ACT. Amongst the proposals put forward by Professor Richardson back in 1964 was a strong demand for an independent law reform body. He criticised the practice that then existed of having departmental officers from the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Health, the Department of Interior and other departments trying to concern themselves with law reform. He drew attention to the chaos - 1 think he used that word - that existed in the system at that time. In about 1965 the story was taken up with a strong demand by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council to set up an independent law reform body. That was 6 years ago. The ‘Canberra Times’ took up the fight and ran editorial after editorial at that time drawing attention to the chaos - I think the word used by the ‘Canberra Times’ was ‘fiasco’ - which obtained under the system of law reform which existed or did not exist in Canberra. My predecessor, the late Mr Jim Fraser, campaigned strongly on this issue during the 1969 Federal election. All that his demands brought from the Government were strong denials that there was any need for an independent law reform body. I think it was in 1965 that the then Attorney-General, Mr Snedden, and the then Minister for the Interior, Mr Anthony, expressly .rejected the demand for an independent body. During the intervening time the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory had taken the matter up and had pressed it very strongly, and continued to press it. I believe that the Bar Association of the Australian Capital Territory continued to press for the setting up of such a body. A joint statement by the then Attorney-General and the then Minister for the Interior said they had considered very carefully whether the law reform proposals should include provision for the creation of a separate law reform body. They said they thought that the idea of officers within departments working exclusively on law reform side by side wilh parliamentary draftsmen, and with outside consultation, would produce the quickest and most effective results. As I said, time proved that proposition to be quite wrong.
Taking the story further, one comes to the by-election of May 1970 when the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) announced out of the blue that it was the intention of the Government to set up an independent law reform commission, notwithstanding the fact that for about 6 years there had been a persistent demand for the setting up of such a body. This announcement followed my repeating the demands which had been put forward by Mr Fraser before he died. I think it is only fair to say that this announcement gave to the people of Canberra - it drew comment from the Press, the Law Society and perhaps the Bar Association of the Australian Capital
Territory - the impression that it had all the features of an election gimmick.
– It was a simple attitude.
– It was the attitude of the lawyers of Canberra. 1 claim to be reasonably familiar with their thinking on this subject. Be that as it may, the fact remained that when the announcement was made to set up such a commission it had to be welcomed. We had been asking for it ourselves. The only criticism that we make of the decision was that it should have been taken a long time before. If I recollect correctly, the then Attorney-General said in his statement that the Chairman of the Commission would be a person with the status of a Supreme Court judge. We applauded that because it would ensure that presumably there would be a man of quality in charge of the law reform commission.
It is because there has been a longstanding demand for the setting up of such a body that I personally support this Bill. It does not really do anything for the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory - or at least very little. The Attorney-General made it perfectly clear in his second reading speech that although the Chairman would have the status of a Supreme Court judge he would perform very few judicial duties except perhaps in the first few months, to use his own words. Although the amendment adds to the requirement that there bc a single judge of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court the provision that there shall now be not more than two, the clear thinking and the purpose behind it is not to create a second judge in the real sense of performing judicial duties but to create the status of a judge for a person who will be essentially a chairman of a law reform commission. We applaud the law reform commission aspect but I am critical of the fact that what has been overlooked is the great need in Canberra for an additional full time judge. This need has existed for some time.
To understand this need one has to consider to some extent the history of the Supreme Court of the ACT. It has had a single residential judge since about 1933. The present resident judge came here, I think, in about 1964. In 1933 the population of Canberra would have been perhaps 10,000 and today it is moving towards 150,000. One can see the extreme changes that have occurred. In the Supreme Court there is a large volume of passing-through trade. Anyone who is familiar with the Court knows that motor vehicle collisions account for much of the work performed in the Court. Canberra attracts a lot of litigation over and above the normal amount that would be associated with a population of 140,000 or 150,000. Canberra is a most sophisticated centre of commercial dealings; it has administrative law problems. It is very arguable that the intensity and volume of the work which goes through the Supreme Court, and has been going through for some time, warrants the appointment of more than one resident judge. In about 1957 the Government recognised this problem because it changed the system, although it kept the idea of a single resident judge. The Government introduced what could be called a panel of additional judges who are referred to in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act. The Government appointed Supreme Court judges such as Justices Eggleston, Joske, Sweeney, Gibbs, Nimmo and Kerr.
– All the Commonwealth Industrial Court judges apart from the Chief Judge.
– Yes. I think the total number on the panel is about 8. That system did not work badly in the sense that whereas great time lags occurred in the States the position here improved. I believe it has improved considerably in New South Wales - I am not too sure about Victoria - where many years ago you would have to wait 2 or 3 years before you could get a case listed. Notwithstanding the expense involved and the occasional thing that went wrong with the system, with good management visiting judges were able to operate the system in such a way that you could have a case called on in 2 or 3 months, which was a desirable thing. Everyone knows - it is a trite saying - that justice delayed is justice denied. Nothing is perhaps more important in the administration of justice. This is a notion that goes back to the days of Magna Carta. While it worked that way it worked well. There were some difficulties, I am told. I understand that certain Industrial Court judges, because of their own commitments, often could not come here when it was hoped that they would come. I have had experience of counsel having come from Sydney to Canberra and the visiting judge having said: T cannot possibly get this case more than part heard because I have a committment in a day or so’. Everyone went away empty handed notwithstanding the expenses that had been incurred. Witnesses had been assembled, often from out of town. These are very unfortunate happenings. Cases last longer because they cannot be resumed the next day. They are stood over for months on end. Witnesses, counsel and solicitors forget. No doubt judges forget and have to put in a lot of extra effort to work.
With all those defects and with the extra expense, the system was made to work reasonably well. What went wrong was that a large number of the Industrial Court judges found themselves doing other chores - and quite rightly so. Mr Justice Gibbs is now on the High Court. Mr Justice Kerr is on a committee which is dealing with defence pay and conditions. I think Mr Justice Sweeney is on the Bankruptcy Court. I understand that Mr Justice Nimmo is helping out in some way in the Attorney-General’s Department. Perhaps he is helping with the proposed draft criminal code for the Commonwealth Territories. I am not sure of that because it is not always easy to get information of that kind. I say that as I smile at the AttorneyGeneral. The number of judges available to hear cases here has been depleted by about half. As a result, in about October last year, it became apparent that the ideal or model system of justice that had been achieved, with all the extra expense involved, with cases being heard quickly, was beginning to crumble and fall apart at the seams. Civil cases were taken out of the list. The position now is that no civil case has been listed since, I. understand, about November last year. My inquiries reveal that there is a waiting list of a year for defended divorces to be set down and there is no certainty that the cases will be set down then. That flies right in the face of all the ideals that were enunciated in the Magna Carta. Justice delayed is justice denied.
I understand that the resident judge has made a number of public announcements in the Press about the situation. He has said that he regrets the situation but that he has no judges. What can he do? This situation requires attention. The Bill does not attempt to remedy the situation. The Bill puts a limit on the number of judges - no more than 2 judges. We should ask ourselves: ‘Why? Why not say that 3 judges should be appointed as funds become available, if funds are the main concern? Why not a Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory?’ We should ask ourselves questions of this kind. If the delays continue the situation will worsen. One cannot see an end in sight.
I understand that in about November last year the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory made another representation to the Attorney-General on this subject. It expressed concern about what was happening in the courts, about the resident judge’s repeated announcement on scarcity of judges, about the taking of civil cases out of the list and about the uncertainty of when they could be put back on the list. I understand that no more are to be listed until the end of May and that the judge is giving priority to criminal cases. The Society made representations to the AttorneyGeneral. I. paraphrase those representations a little loosely. It asked for the appointment of a second resident judge. The Attorney-General in his reply, acknowledged the trouble that has arisen in the courts through the Industrial Court judges having other chores to perform. He said that he hoped that the problem would not last too long. Presumably he held out hope that something would be done to solve the problem. That was in November last year. The situation has worsened since then.
The Bill, when it is enacted, will mean the appointment of a second judge. .1 say this with the greatest respect to the gentlemen who will be appointed, but it is not intended - as f read and heard the second reading speech of the Attorney-General - that the judge will perform judicial duties except perhaps for the first month or so. One can assume only that the situation will worsen until extra judges are appointed. The Bill does not cure the faults and defects in the system under the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act. The judge is to be appointed for another purpose altogether - for a purpose which we applaud - and that is the purpose of setting up the Law Reform Commission. It is true that the setting up of the Commission is long overdue, but we applaud its introduction now. The appointment of a second judge will do nothing to speed up the volume of work going through the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
– in reply - I should like to reply briefly to the contributions made to the debate by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), by my honourable friend the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) and by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby). Firstly, 1 was chided for not doing something definitive about the Commonwealth superior court proposal. I am bound to say that the proposal is awaiting consideration by the Government. Until the Government has considered my views on this matter I cannot make any announcement about the proposal or about the future or otherwise of the court. However, I was interested to hear my honourable friend from Diamond Valley this afternoon express some views from which it appears quite clearly that the proposal to establish the Commonwealth superior court has many problems associated with it. I am not. saying that they are insuperable problems or what the outcome of the Government’s consideration of the proposal will be, but I think one has to look at the experience of the United States of America. 1 think it is fair to say, taking a line through the experience in that country, that a 2-tier system of jurisdiction - Federal and Stale - does carry ils own very considerable problems. For instance, there are jurisdictional problems. All these matters should be most carefully and anxiously considered because once a decision is made, whichever way it goes, that decision will affect the development of this country’s judicial system not for a generation or two, but more probably than not. for centuries.
– What about a second and third judge for the Supreme Court?
– I will come to that in a moment, if I may. 1 took careful note what the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory said when he spoke. I wanted to come to thai point after completing, as 1 now have, the remarks I wanted to make on the criticism that was directed at me for doing nothing, so it was alleged, about the Commonwealth superior court proposal, because the ultimate decision as to the composition of the Supreme court proposal, because the ultimate decimust depend on the outcome of that proposal. The realities of that situation have to be studied. The 2 matters are not dissociated. I am sure that, upon reflection, my honourable friend from the Australian Capital Territory will see the force of my argument on that point. I want to make one point quite clear. I anticipate that the additional resident judge who will bc appointed when this Bill becomes an Act, although his task will be concerned mainly and principally with his duties as a law reform commissioner, will be able to lend the aid of his experience, learning and diligence to the judicial work of the court. During the initial period of his appointment the Law Reform Commission will be gearing up, as it were, for an attack upon the various problems that will be referred to it. I have had consultations with the person whose name I have in mind for appointment to the new judicial office.
– He will be a good judge.
– The Leader of the Opposition will not tempt me to say anything that would reveal his identity because to do so. as my honourable friend would recognise, would be a breach of proper protocol of the most serious kind. But 1 have had consultations with the gentleman whom I have in mind for appointment, and he will be very willing to assist in the judicial work of the Court from time to time, and he will be particularly able to do so during the earlier phase of the work of the Law Reform Commission.
Having said that, 1 indicate that I have taken careful notice of the argument put to the House and really directed to me by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory as to the need for a third resident judge in the Australian Capital Territory; another judge in addition to the judge who will be appointed pursuant to the amending legislation now before the House. I say to the House - and I hope that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory will take some comfort from this - that I have by no means put out of mind the possibility of making yet another appointment to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. But it seemed to me that the first thing to get done was to add to the strength of the Court by appointing one more permanent resident judge and then, when he has been able to assist in the judicial work of the Court for some time, to take stock of the situation and determine, in a calm and deliberative way, whether the work of the Court is such that a further appointment is needed.
I think that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory would agree, upon reflection, that by and large - and 1 think he said as much, very properly, in his speech - the system under which the Court has been staffed has worked well. The position was, and still is, that each judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court is an additional judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and when His Honour Mr Justice Gibbs was Federal Judge in Bankruptcy, he was also an additional judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
As honourable members would know, the work of the Commonwealth Industrial Court fluctuates. It might be said that at times that Court, in terms of the work before it, has either a feast or a famine. The amount of work varies. It so happens that in the past several months that Court has had something that is more in the nature of a feast than a famine of judicial work, and hence there have been minor difficulties in seconding additional judges of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory from their primary duties as judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. I have faced this administrative difficulty, and I appreciate that this difficulty has led to delays in the work of the Court.
– Repeal the penal clauses and you will have plenty of judges.
– Do not tempt me to engage in a polemical argument. That is a matter for another day. But this Government will not be repealing the penal clauses. The Australian people would not want this Government or any other Government to repeal the penal clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act because to do so would destroy the very basic principles of arbitration. The Leader of the Opposition gave me the opportunity to distil, in summary form, my views on that question, and I shall now get back to the Bill.
– A good idea.
– Whenever the honourable member for Wills comes into the House nothing he says, when he interjects, adds any light to what has been said in the House. We know that he is irrepressible, but he would do himself quite a lot of good, or at least less harm, if he were to be a little more repressed in his utterances.
– You represent everything that is worst in Australian politics.
– I wonder whether there is anything else that the charming gentleman from Wilis wants to get off his chest.
– Order! I think that the Minister might proceed to discuss the Bill.
– I shall as soon as the honourable member for Wills obeys the rules of the House.I was going to say that when the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory referred to delays in the hearing of cases in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory he mentioned a delay, I think, of one year from the time of setting down a case. 1 informthe House that on the information available to me the delay is not of that order. I am told that at the moment it is of the order of 8 months. . I do not accept this as being a satisfactory situation - far from it - but what I do say is that when the Government appoints an additional permanent judge pursuant to this Bill when it becomes an Act, I expect that substantial inroads ought to be made into the period of delay and that when 1 have taken stock of the position 1 shall give further and anxious consideration to the proposal which has been made, that the Court should have yet another judge, namely, a third resident judge.
– I hope that you do not wait 7 years.
– I am not in the habit of wailing any longer than I need to. I am not, 1 hope, generally regarded as a Fabian in these matters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I raise a point of procedure? 1 have discussed the matter with the Leader of the Opposition. This may be a case in which it would be thought to be convenient and appropriate for the House to proceed to the third reading forthwith.
– Is it the wish of the Houseto proceed to the third reading forthwith? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hughes) read a third time.
Approval of Work - Public Works Committee Act Mr CHIPP (Hotham- Minister for Customs and Excise) (5.18) - 1 move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, 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 Parliament: Construction of an electricity supply power station at Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves construction of a new power station to replace the existing station and to meet increasing demands for power supplies in Alice Springs. The new station will contain 2 new generating sets and the two largest sets from the existing station. There will be 2 spare bays for future expansion. Associated works will include switchgear, transformers, roadways and oil supply line and storage. An acceptable working environment will be achieved by air conditioning the control room and providing evaporative cooling to the other building areas.
The Committee’s report draws attention to concernthat because of planning delays, Alice Springs may experience a power shortage in the winter of 1973. These delays were due to the need for investigation into the desirability, price and supply conditions of natural gas and the siting and air pollution questions raised in relation to the proposed location of the new power station. The Government is taking steps through contract and construction arrangements to minimise the possibility of power shortages. The Department of Works has finalised arrangements for the calling of tenders for the work so that subject to the approval of this House, the timetable for construction and commissioning can bc adhered to.
In considering the possibility of use of natural gas as fuel, the Committee concluded:
If natural gas becomes commercially md economically available in sufficient lime to be planned for in the new power station, dual fuel generators should be installed from the outset.
Tender documents prepared by the Department of Works include special clauses for alternatives so as to enable the final choice of equipment, particularly auxiliaries, to be deferred - at no loss of time - pending further evaluation of the relative economics of suitable fuels. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, final planning and construction can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
– I support the motion. While 1 commend the Government on the proposed erection of a S2.5m power station at Alice Springs 1 note that the Public Works Committee showed some concern about the delay in receiving the plans. To a great extent the delay in this matter was probably caused by the consideration that the Government was giving to the possibility of using gas from the Palm Valley gas well which is only about 80 miles south-west of Alice Springs. The piping of that gas into town has been the subject of some deliberations. I hope that the delay which was thereby caused will not result in the citizens of Alice Springs being short of power in 1973. I imagine that if the installation goes according to plan there will be no such shortage. I notice from the report that the control room is to be airconditioned. I think that that is a forward step. The present control room is not only deadly hot but also indescribably noisy. I hope that the plans make some provision for dampening that noise. I support the motion and hope that the planned work does continue on schedule.
-] support the proposal to augment the electricity supply to Alice Springs by the provision of a new power station. I am concerned about several things, each of which has been referred to briefly this afternoon. 1 am concerned first of all with the fact that the Public Works Committee found it necessary to draw attention to the lateness of presentation of the proposal to the Committee which made very pertinent comments about this matter. I believe that on every occasion when the Committee is disadvantaged in its work by the lateness of submissions the Parliament and the Minister responsible should be made aware of those circumstances. The Committee stated:
Although there was some delay on the part of the Committee in conducting this inquiry because of the Senate election, the fads are clear :t llC once again we have been asked to consider a proposal whose timetable has lagged badly. As with the Avalon Airport development proposal on which the Committee reported in a similar vein on 21 October 1970. we were placed under pressure to approve the project. The Committee would have felt compelled to support the present proposal even if there had been a belter alternative method of tackling the problem because Alice Springs may have been left without an adequate electricity supply.
That is the kind of thing we do not want to happen again. The Committee went on to point out:
I hope that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) is just as concerned about that effect as 1 am.
– 1 live there. I ought to be.
– If the honourable member lives there he should be more concerned than I am. When the term ineffectual management of the proposal’ is used it simply means the management of the proposal as it is brought to the Committee, the sequence of events and the timetabling which brought about the inevitable results that Alice Springs will be short of power by the end of 1973. That kind of pressurisation is inimical to the proper conduct of the Committee’s work. This project will cost about $2. 5m. lt is not a big project by the standards of Commonwealth public works. Nevertheless, when one takes into account that for some years the electricity load in Alice Springs has been rising by about 22 per cent per annum one can understand that considerably more people will be affected in the future than is the case at the present time.
I take this opportunity to draw attention to the indifferent and dilatory altitude of either the Department of the Interior or the Department of National Development which is shown by the failure of one or both of those departments - in any case it is a failure of the Government - to examine the question of utilising natural gas in Alice Springs. It is a most astounding matter that oil is transported half way across the continent to Alice Springs, a place where undoubted substantial supplies of natural gas are available. It was established to the satisfaction of government departments early in 1967, according to the expert evidence given to the Committee, that adequate supplies of gas were available in Alice Springs to meet power requirements - not just the requirements of the new power station but all the additional requirements which will inevitably flow from the development which is bound to take place in that flourishing area.
As honourable members know, Australia is using its own oil resources to some extent, but only to some extent. To a considerable extent oil for furnace or power purposes is still being imported. A company called Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd owns the gas supply in Alice Springs. This is a regrettable circumstance. I think I can speak for honourable members on this side of the Parliament when I express the view that a more desirable situation would be for the resources of this country to be retained in the ownership of the people. But that has passed us by already, and the supply of natural gas in Alice Springs is already in the hands of private enterprise. About 90 miles from Alice Springs in a westerly direction the Magellan company has its Christmas tree. That term does not imply a bonanza. It is applied to the pipes and valves standing there as evidence of a very substantial supply which, according to the Bureau of Mineral Resources, amounts to 1 trillion cubic feet. That is the size of the known reserves of natural gas in that area, which are said to be completely adequate.
The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) said that because the submission to the Public Works Committee was late there would be power deficiencies in
Alice Springs, and consideration of the utilisation of natural gas was responsible, but the evidence indicated that the principal witness from the Department of Works had the opposite point of view. He thought that inadequate consideration was given to the utilisation of natural gas. He made extensive mention of this in evidence. I do not think I can find that evidence conveniently now but honourable members will have the opportunity to read it for themselves.
The witness, a Mr Weiss, was not at all reluctant to make the point that had his Department had the perogative in this matter, instead of either the Department of National Development or the Department of the Interior, something would have happened a long time ago. He said: If the Department of Works had been given authority to proceed with negotiations with Magellans we would have done it. But we were told this was a matter for others to investigate and we were not in it. We were raring to do it’. He went on in a similar vein in various other parts of his very long submission to the Committee.
I want to emphasise that not only does this matter have a bearing on the supply of power but the fact is that if natural gas is to be utilised for any other purpose in Alice Springs a prior necessity is to integrate it into the power producing system; that is to say, it will never be utilised for any other purpose in Alice Springs unless it is used for the production of power. That is the very real likelihood. The fact that this Government has been so unsystematic in its approach to the question is a matter for great regret. It is a further indication of the very great need for the Government to adopt a national fuel policy so that the regions of the nation can have the advantage of the utilisation of Australia’s internal resources.
I believe that it will not cost very much to convert this power station to gas at a subsequent stage. From memory, the figure might be $260,000. It might be something less, but it certainly will be no more than that. But it is still regrettable that the matter was not given the consideration it needs. I strongly suggest that, arising from the discussion today, the Minister refer the matter to Cabinet in the hope that at some future time the people of Alice Springs may derive the benefit of the Government giving encouragement to the people who hold the licence to produce gas in that area. Clearly, there is no prospect that gas will be produced unless there is a Government initiative. I believe that the fact that that initiative has not been in evidence up to this point of lime is worthy of note. I bring the matter to the attention of the Parliament in the hope that these deficiencies will be overcome.
– I support the motion now before the House for the provision of more efficient power facilities at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. I think the House is indebted to my colleague the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) for the comments he has made in raising this problem which the Public Works Committee experienced in its investigation of this proposal, namely, whether natural gas or other types of fuel should be used. He has stated that if the power station is to be converted to natural gas it might cost up to $260,000.
One would imagine that it would not be difficult to have a feasibility study of this matter made either by the experts in the Department of National Development or by other departments that the Commonwealth has at its disposal. Surely the Government should take some initiative in giving the Parliament views on whether this is economic or not. The Committee has used the words If natural gas becomes commercially and economically available in sufficient time to be planned for. That could mean that natural gas might become commercially available just after the installation of the power house facilities. If $260,000 is involved, this is a matter which must be looked at seriously. 1 fully endorse the remarks of the. honourable member for Hughes that surely the Department of National Development should have arranged for a feasibility study to be made at least to test whether natural gas could be applied commercially to this project and other projects and to give the Public Works Committee the benefit of the decision arrived at. As it is, the matter is left up in the air. What we need for the Northern Territory is the cheapest possible power, in contrast to what has happened in the past. I do not know what the honour able member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) is laughing at. As soon as one mentions northern development he wants to oppose it. I do not know what he said just now, but as soon as one mentions anything about the development of northern Australia he opposes it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 24 February (vide page 594). on motion by Mr Hughes:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
– This Bill carries out the programme which the former Attorney-General, the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), outlined in a ministerial statement on 29th May 1969. In commenting on his statement, I said that 1 welcomed most heartily the initiative which he had announced. I am still of the same mind. The great thing that this Bill does is to get the Commonwealth’s foot in the door of one of those social fields where Australia will continue to delay at her peril. There is. of course, no social or economic reason why the criminal law should not be the same in every part of Australia and everywhere in the world where Australia’s writ runs.
We know, however, that constitutionally the Commonwealth is limited to making laws with respect to its own Territories, its own properties. Australian ships and aircraft, Australian forces and police overseas and extradition. By contrast, how fortunate Canada is. The British North America Act gives the Parliament of Canada the exclusive power to make laws with respect to the criminal law, except the constitution of courts of criminal jurisdiction but including the procedure in criminal matters. For over 100 years there would have been no difficulty in Canada in having every aspect of criminal law co-ordinated, modernised and researched.
The fact that it has taken 22 months to achieve this Bill is, I am certain, no reflection on the capacity or dedication in this respect of the former Attorney- Gen era) or the present Attorney-General (Mr Hughes). In fact, the delay was due principally to the altitude of the Minister of Justice in
New South Wales. We must accept the fact that in Australia one still suffers from the jealousies of the States in those matters over which they still have jurisdiction. That is particularly the case where it is not really necessary to spend very much more money. We can still have reasonable criminal laws in Australia if the States will only get together.
The Commonwealth can certainly give financial assistance, but it is not as necessary to have Commonwealth financial assistance for the States to provide adequate law enforcement and research services as it is for the Commonwealth to give adequate financial assistance to enable the States to play their part in providing adequate educational, health and environmental services. So, we now have this Bill. The Commonwealth has been trying to get something done since early in 1968, when there was the governmental seminar in Canberra. Correspondence has been exchanged between the Commonwealth and the States since 24th October 1968. I get this date and most of the other information I will cite to the House not from the second reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral and not from any ministerial statement but in fact from answers to questions on notice. I notice that one hope expressed by the former Attorney-General has not been fulfilled. He said:
We have hopes that New Zealand will also join in the scheme.
There is no reference to the position of New Zealand in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General. But a month ago the Attorney-General gave me a answer to a question on notice in these terms:
New Zealand has indicated that it does not propose to join with the Commonwealth and the Stales at the present stage in the setting up of facilities for research but would wish to send officers to participate in training courses conducted by the Institute.
While I am disappointed that New Zealand has not seen fit to participate in this scheme as it has in the proceedings of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General, yet I am consoled by the references that the Attorney makes to the relevance of South East Asia in this context. When I spoke in the debate on the ministerial statement of the former Attorney-General, I said:
Might 1 suggest that the Attorney-General should also consider an invitation to Singapore.
Singapore, of all our neighbours, has the political, judicial and economic system with which we are most familiar, lt is, moreover, a centre through which and wilh which many crime problems are experienced in common with Australia, lt is quite possible that persons on lawful as well as unlawful occasions pass through Singapore on their way to and from Australia, more than through any other centre. Moreover, Singapore has a very efficient, honest system of administering justice.
I found that my comments on that occasion had been widely reported and supported in Singapore. I appreciate the remarks that the Attorney made in his second reading speech on the Bill concerning South East Asia.
There are many features which one would like to see covered in criminology. One would hope that there were more guidelines laid down as to the qualifications of persons to be appointed to the bodies set up by this Bill. One would hope that there would, for -instance, be judicial and academic as well as professional appointments or qualifications specified. I acknowledge, however, that one had to secure the concurrence of the States. However skilful, enlightened and energetic academics may be in Australia they cannot pursue research in criminology unless they have more funds than are available to them at the moment from any source and unless they also have access to more information. The States do not give access lo such information. At least this Bill will ensure a reasonable prospect of co-ordination and information in matters of research in criminology.
It is only very recently that anything has been done to collect statistics. Ministers concerned with penal administration held a meeting in Sydney on 27th March 1969. On 2 1st May 1969 the former Attorney, in answer to a question on notice, informed me that they decided, inter alia, that penal statistics should be compiled on a common basis for use by the States as a guide for considering and determining penal policies. This decision implemented proposals made by the Commonwealth as part of a plan to establish a system of national crime statistics. A further meeting of prison administrators was held on 23rd June 1969 to discuss this decision. They agreed on a basic programme prepared by New South Wales for the compilation of penal statistics on a uniform basis. That information was contained in an answer to a question on notice which the present AttorneyGeneral gave me on the first day of this sessional period. So at least statistics are now being compiled and co-ordinated. Now there may be some research into them.
The remainder of my remarks will turn upon the condition of the police forces. I am not to be taken to assume or assert that the police are the only aspect of criminology with which we should be concerned. I merely refer to this aspect because it is one on which it is possible to gather some information, even in Australia. The police in Australia are suffering from the same attenuated resources as do other professions which are still kept solely within State jurisdiction. They suffer the same disadvantages of recruitment, resignation and conditions of service as do teachers and nurses. Accordingly police, like teachers and nurses, suffer a declining standard because the Commonwealth has not been involved. Liberals hitherto have insisted that enforcement of law, detection of crime and the apprehension and rehabilitation of offenders are matters solely for the States. Liberal concern for law and order was expressed in the 1969-70 Budget by an appropriation of $115,000 for the Australian Police College and in the 1970- 71 Budget by $107,000 for the same purpose. Even Liberals now acknowledge it is time the Commonwealth played a greater role.
The present Bill has been introduced against a background of mounting crime and declining competence in the deterrence and detection of crime. The incidence of crime for every 100,000 of Australia’s population has increased since 1964 by 25 per cent. It has increased in the case of Victoria by 16.9 per cent, of New South Wales by 20.7 per cent, of South Australia by 26.5 per cnt, of Queensland by 34.8 per cent, of Western Australia by 53.4 per cent, of the Australian Capital Territory by 65.2 per cent, of Tasmania by 89 per cent and of the Northern Territory by 148.3 per cent. At the same time police are identifying and apprehending fewer offenders then ever before in our history. The ratio between crimes reported and crimes solved has fallen since 1964 in New South Wales from 75 per cent to 56 per cent, in Victoria from 42 per cent to 33 per cent, in South Australia from 46.3 per cent to 45.7 per cent and in Western Australia from 39.2 per cent to 35.2 per cent. Improvements have taken place only in Queensland, where the ratio has risen from 40.2 per cent to 41.9 per cent, and in Tasmania where it has risen from 38.4 per cent to 41.4 per cent. The grim fact is that in only 1 of our 6 States do criminals run a worse than even chance of escaping detection. Nor is this surprising. Britain’s 1962 royal commission on the police recommended that there should be 1 policeman for every 530 head of population and the 1967 United States presidential task force report on the police recommended 1 to 500. But Liberal indifference and Commonwealth detachment oblige Australians to make do with 1 policeman for every 650 head of population.
Numbers alone moreover do not convey the full extent of the problem. Forty-five per cent of Queensland’s police, 16 per cent of the police in Tasmania and 15 per cent of those in South Australia have had no more than a primary school education. University degrees are held by only 2 per cent of the force in Tasmania, 1 per cent in Queensland and less than 1 per cent in South Australia. Instead of gaining additional qualified staff our police forces are actually losing those they already possess. Let me illustrate these matters by reference to Victoria where both the quality and the supply of police services have come under close scrutiny through the Kaye royal commission and the St Johnston report. Let me refer in particular to the Victoria Police Company Squad. In June 1970 the Company Squad lost the services of Detective Sergeant Bob Stewart, in August of Senior Detective Kevin Ritchie and in November of Detective Sergeant Kevin Byrne. Those officers were respectively 40, 35 and 38 years of age. They all were qualified accountants. They had between them more than 50 years of experience in police work.
– What is the honourable member reading from?
– Victoria Police Association surveys and my speech on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department last September.
– Is this the same speech again?
– No. I can understand that the [honourable gentleman would not wish honourable members of this House to inquire into the efficiency of State police forces in apprehending offenders. He was the third man. He was the one who got away. Is it any wonder that each of the men I have spoken about - as honourable members will note from the date this is the first time I have cited their cases - arrived independently at the conclusion that there was no future for him in the police force? Is it any wonder too that last year 15 senior constables - 2i times as many as in the previous year - resigned from the force? Surveys conducted by the Victoria Police Association reveal that the 130 policemen of all ranks who resigned in 1970 now earn on an average $800 a year more than their police pay. In 1954 a first constable’s salary was 6.32 per cent more than average weekly earnings. Today it trails average weekly earnings by 21.4 per cent. Nor are alternative incentives available in the form of rapid promotion. The youngest sergeant in the Victoria Police is 37 years of age, the youngest inspector 45 and the youngest superintendent 54. Given these disabilities it is not surprising that the force was able to expand its strength between 1965 and 1969 by only 4.7 per cent. At this rate of expansion it will take 46i years to acquire the extra 2,000 officers recommended by the St Johnston report.
Nor can the Commonwealth afford to be complacent. Let me remind the AttorneyGeneral that last year the Commonwealth police force lost to Melbourne the services of 26 year old superintendent Kevin Milte. Superintendent Milte was the youngest officer of his rank in Australia. He held a degree in law, a diploma in criminology and he had almost completed his master’s degree in criminology.
Sir Henry Bolte asserts that he has no money to pay additional police or to provide adequate overtime for present members of the force. He says that the $41m it would cost to implement the St Johnston report is beyond Victoria’s means. Australia’s law enforcement services, like its schools, hospitals and urban environment, are victims of the impasse in Commonwealth and State financial relations which Liberals have devised as a pretext for under investment in every aspect of public activity. They are a victim of the Liberal conviction that trespass, creating an obstruction and disturbing the peace are the most important crimes of which the Commonwealth takes cognisance.
I have quoted the position in regard to Victoria. But some police forces are answerable to this Parliament. There is the Commonwealth police force itself. I notice from its annual report for the year 1969- 70 that its establishment was 1,042 and its strength 892. In the middle of last year it was thus under strength by 150. On the 24th of last month the Attorney-General told me in answer to a question on notice that last year 225 members were recruited for the Commonwealth police force and 104 resigned from it. In the previous year 194 were recruited and 53 resigned. Then there are the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory police forces. Until I asked a question of the former Minister for the Interior last October no thought had been given to the tabling of the annual reports of the Commissioners of the 2 Territory forces. Today I ascertained that the report of the Australian Capital Territory police force has still not been tabled - 5 months after the matter was first brought to the attention of the Minister.
Last year the Australian Capital Territory police force recruited 28 police and lost 23. The Northern Territory police force recruited 96 members and lost 21.
In addition there are other Commonwealth law enforcement agencies of a considerable size. I refer now to information which the former Prime Minister gave to my colleague the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) in answer to questions on notice. The answers reveal that between 1950 and 1970 the cost of the Revenue and Special Services Branch of the Department of Customs and Excise has risen from $264,256 to $3,316,498. At the moment it employs 765 males and 20 females. Salaries in the Special Reports Branch of the Department of Immigration amount to $67,195. Eleven males are employed. In the last 20 years the expenditure of the Postal Investigation Section of the Postmaster-General’s Department has risen from $93,059 to $511,332. There are 163 males employed. Lastly there is the Outdoor Inquiry Branch of the Department of Social Services. In the last 20 years its expenditure has risen from $100,636 to $513,103. There are 113 male and 1 female employed. It is plain that the Commonwealth has a considerable law enforcement work force and also a considerable expenditure.
For all its shortcomings this Bill marks a breakthrough in Commonwealth commitment to the control of crime. It is ironic, indeed incongruous, that legislation so forward looking in character should share a notice paper with so many anachronistic features of a Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill. Australians do not need enactment of new Federal political laws but enforcement of existing State criminal laws. The key to crime prevention is the speed and sureness of detection. An ounce of detection is worth a pound of laws. The States do not need Federal laws to supplement their own: they need Federal assistance to enable their own police forces to carry out their own laws. Like the Army the police force is an essential occupation and like the Army it will be unable to attract and retain men in sufficient quality and numbers unless it is treated by governments as an essential occupation.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had been speaking in support of this Criminology Research Bill and I haJ expressed my wholehearted welcome of the Bill as 1. had expressed my welcome of the ministerial statement by AttorneyGeneral Bowen concerning the overall proposal 22 months ago. I had quoted from answers which the present Attorney-General had given to questions I had placed on the notice paper, the intervening history, the size of the problem and the deterioration in the condition of our law enforcement agencies.
In conclusion I would like to say that, like the Army, the police force is an essential occupation. Like the Army, it will be unable to attract and retain men in sufficient quality and numbers unless it is treated by governments as an essential occupation with wages, conditions and opportunities provided accordingly. This is an approach which makes sense in terms not only of criminology but of economics. It cost the Victorian Government $500,000 to train the J 30 police who resigned last year ahead of time. As the AttorneyGeneral himself admits, estimates which put the total cost of crime in Australia at about S350m a year are almost certainly conservative. The Commonwealth can help the States provide proper career opportunities for the men and women in their law enforcement services; it can help the States provide the highly extensive, and expensive, communications and computer techniques and equipment needed by modern law enforcement services as the Federal Administration already does in the United States.
We are fortunate that the Commonwealth Government is awakening to its responsibilities at the very time when Colonel Sir Eric St Johnston’s inquiries have demonstrated conclusively how funds can best be spent. The present Bill conforms, at least in its intentions, to the spirit of the St Johnston report. We must hope that the Attorney-General is giving close attention also to the recommendations set out in that report. In fact I have invited his attention to it by further questions on the notice paper concerning the Commonwealth Police Force, the Australian Capital Territory Police Force and the Northern Territory Police Force, all of which are indubitable Commonwealth responsibilities. I have not as yet directed attention to those other departments such as the Department of Social Services, the Department of Customs and Excise and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department where there are also very large Commonwealth enforcement agencies costing millions of dollars a year. In particular the AttorneyGeneral should note Colonel Sir Eric St. Johnston’s warning that ‘all the main proposals hang together and that it will be useless to accept some and not others’.
It may be that in matters of law enforcement there are, to quote the United States President’s task force report, ‘no startling truths, no unique insights, no simple solutions’; but the Commonwealth hai> a unique opportunity to initiate and effectuate the transformation of such enforcement agencies which have become as archaic in their administrative structure as they are inadequate in their resources and scope. It is through such a transformation, and only through such a transformation, that we can avert a further deterioration in the detection and deterrence of crime and the development in all our major cities in Australia of a crime rate comparable to that of the cities in the United States. Only in this way can the Commonwealth Government demonstrate that its rhetorical obsession with law and order springs not from cynicism or political calculation but from genuine concern.
– This is a very important piece of legislation and, as has been indicated, it has been overdue for some time. It will enable Australia to speak with a voice as a nation in the world of crime and criminal research. Over the years there have been many national reports on the problems associated with criminal behaviour. Many of them have revealed statistics which we in this country would not yet have available. But the point we want to emphasise is that this should not be merely an exercise in statistics. We are pleased to note that the research will be into the causes, correction and prevention of criminal behaviour. If we look at some of the research papers that have already been produced we find there is a similarity right throughout the world as to what might be the causes. There is a great deal of confusion as to what might be the proper method of correction. There are certainly some different ideas as to what would be the proper method of prevention.
When I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament, we never really effectively debated the problem of crime. Crime is one of the most costly items in any State Budget. The New South Wales State Budget allocates a sum in excess of §45m for what is euphemistically termed the maintenance of law and order. Of course the problem is that when we look at the statistics that we now have available we find that crime is rapidly increasing, ls it any wonder that the public is very concerned? It is the public which is affected if it is crime against the person or against property. 1 indicate quickly that statistics show that, for example, for the crime of robbery between 1967 and 1969 the number of convictions went from 386 to 777. It doubled. Likewise with breaking and entering there has been a substantial increase. There has been a substantial increase also in motor vehicle thefts. So it follows that all the efforts that have heretofore been made - they have been very futile, I submit - have not been able to reduce crime and have not been able to provide any effective treatment for the criminal. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table showing statistics for various crimes in New South Wales for the years 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Are we really detecting all crime? It was clearly and properly pointed out by the British seminar on criminal conduct, at which all the experts discussed criminology in the fashion which criminologists would be prone to discuss it, that they had left somebody out of their considerations. The people had been left out. In other words, they had not considered what the views of the citizens were. In my view it would be appropriate for this national Parliament to set up a standing committee that would always have access to the citizens of the nation, because they are the first to understand where criminal behaviour may at first occur. They would be the first injured if crime occurs against them. One of the great tragedies at the moment is that any so-called investigation into crime is usually done by those closely associated with its control and supervision. The cynics are entitled to say: ‘How can one investigate oneself?’ It creates a real problem for many law enforcement agencies.
This legislation is setting up what is called the Australian Institute of Criminology and an associated board to direct it. There will be a Director, who will be the main man. The merits of this legislation will rise and fall with the effectiveness of that Director. We must be anxious to ensure that he does not become just another servant. He must be an outstanding individual who can listen to all the pleas put to him from all quarters, particularly from this Parliament. If a member of the Parliament is able to say: ‘I have information and some knowledge and I would like research done into this field because the people in my area feel there is a problem,’ it should be effective for him to say it here and to ensure that by saying it here it will be the subject of some investigative research. T think the Bill is somewhat defective in the sense that it does not provide for that. It provides for the conduct of research approved by the Board, but we are fearful that the Government might be setting up another Public Service section. We do not want to have people associated with prisoners as they now exist discussing research in relation to the existing system. There has to be a brand new approach, an approach from the point of view of what is the most effective method of the prevention of crime and the correction of crime. A study of the treatment of criminals in the Soviet Union shows how far we are behind in our methods in this country.
– In the Soviet Union attempts are made to reform a criminal, to convert him to be a useful member of society. Even the honourable member who interjected would not disagree with that aim, despite his politics. Even in those totalitarian countries the opportunity is taken to examine the rights of an individual as a useful member of society. West Germany claims that its penal system is conducted with regard to families and links with group discussion. Opportunities are given to work under supervision and that has been the case for some years. Similar methods are employed in France, the Netherlands and Sweden. They follow the concept of having a look at the rights of the individual, lt has never been done here and that is the great tragedy of our prison system. We apparently inherited the British method of building a very substantial prison structure. Those buildings have been said to be a credit to any builder but a disaster to a penologist because of the dungeons they contain.
Honourable members would be amazed if I were to state some of the facts of life in my electorate. There 3 people are incarcerated in a cell measuring 10 feet by 7 feet. No toilet facilities are available and a bucket has to be used. Those people are locked up from 4 o’clock in the afternoon to 7 o’clock the next morning. The establishment I have in mind houses about 1,400 people, not all necessarily under the conditions I have described. However, the great majority are treated in that way. It is called the college of knowledge because of the amount of crime committed within the prison walls. The situation is not an indictment of the prison warders. They are the first to say: ‘Look, there will be a fatal stabbing here unless something is done. Why is not more money allocated by the Government for research? Why is it that we, the warders, cannot take part in group counselling and a study of the needs of individuals? Young men are committed here for what might be termed minor offences but they are thrown in with hardened criminals.’ Male rape is no accident in the prisons. It is hushed up. In the Parliament with which I was formerly associated we of the Opposition set up a committee to take evidence. Every official in the Prisons Department was told that he would be ill advised to talk to us. That is the position now.
The prisons have a rapid turnover. About 14,000 people go through the New South Wales prison system each year. About 3,500 of them would be in prison each day and night, the majority of them serving sentences of less than 6 months. Recidivism, as it is termed, is excessive, as about 75 per cent of prisoners return to gaol. The failure rate in prisons of the type I have described is about 80 per cent. The cost to the community runs into millions of dollars. Is there an alternative system? I submit that there is. In California in 1941 it was decided at Chino to institute a method of treating convicted prisoners as individuals. It was deemed to be sufficient shame for a person if a conviction was registered, followed by incarceration in a reasonable manner.
In Australia we have always adopted a system of revenge, of taking it out on the individual by incarcerating him - putting him away. Almost everybody would think that people so treated would return to society as better citizens. The statistics show that they come out of prison as confirmed criminals. They are convinced that they have reached the bottom of the barrel after treatment in an animal-like society. They have to fight to survive and to prevent themselves from being destroyed as men. ls it any wonder that a prisoner loses respect and on his release regards himself as a second class citizen? Nobody respects him. He has lost all his associations with former friends. It is said: ‘Of course, you have to put some people behind bars’. That is certainly true of people who are a danger to life and limb, but we are committing so many people to our prison system. For what purpose? ls it for education? it is a complete farce. There is one education officer for about 1,400 inmates of the State penitentiary in my electorate. No courses are available to them. It is a complete farce and cannot be considered as effective treatment.
Are better examples of prison treatment available throughout the world? I again cite the example of California where the prison officials assess a person brought under their notice. Psychiatrists, psychologists and educationists study the prisoners and consider their defects. They ascertain where they have gone off the rails and determine what should be done. It is discovered that in 99 cases out of 100 a significant factor is lack of educational opportunities. Some prisoners ;.re found to be illiterate. That is also true in New South Wales. When I visited the Goulburn gaol I found that 10 per cent of the prisoners there were illiterate. Perhaps illiteracy had contributed to their situation. Again 1 refer honourable members to the example of California. Prisoners are given a complete analysis and vocational guidance tests. They are saturated with education and the result is 80 per cent success as against 80 per cent failure in New South Wales.
If a research director was appointed under this legislation I am sure that he could achieve similar results. The Commonwealth is to be congratulated on entering this field. Unless it takes a lead nothing will be done for the many thousands of unfortunates in prisons throughout Australia. What else must we look at? My next important point concerns white collar crime. It is very seldom detected, but in my submission it is destroying the whole fabric of society. I refer to graft and corruption, fraudulent company directors, people making money through land speculation or using their offices, inside Parliament or outside it. for improper gain. But what do we do? If the illegal income is included in an income tax return that is as far as it goes. 1 would think that under section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act it would be appropriate, in fact essential, that when the Commissioner of Taxation detected that assets or income were gained in a fashion not in accord with the stated occupation, such a discovery would be the cause of comment to somebody.
It should not matter whether the person concerned is the highest official in the land. A person who is corrupt is causing so much damage that he should not be beyond review. This point was mentioned by Sutherland in the United States in 1945. It is one of the great problems of that nation that there is an inability to detect what Sutherland terms white collar crime. The inmates of prisons to whom I have been referring and who are merely the thugs of society need all the correction that can be achieved, but (hey say: ‘What about all those others who get away with it? How is it that their crimes are passed over without any notice being taken?’
A prize example occurred in a Sydney suburban council. A building was erected in a wrong position and a case went to court for a certificate of compliance. It was well known that an official of the council concerned suddenly blossomed into a wealthy man. When the case was called he did not appear because he offered the excuse of sickness. The people in the area knew that something was radically wrong when a council official could gain so much wealth for himself. But no action was taken in respect of that white collar crime. White collar crime is extensive and unless this Parliament studies the problem we will be weakening the strength of this democratic nation. It is not of much use catching the thief and the thug and missing the more sophisticated criminal such as the fraudulent company director. Why should he be allowed to go from company to company after he has been convicted of fraud, or if from his income tax returns it is established that he has been receiving secret commissions or acting improperly in dealings within the company structure? Why should he not be penalised? Why gloss it over?
The Sydney legal profession was interested in the case of an individual who failed to disclose a certain amount of income in his income tax returns. His name appeared in the honours list of the Commissioner of Taxation, but that was the only criticism, if I might so term it, directed at him. Had the case been followed up and the source of that income discovered a number of savage situations in Sydney could have been corrected and people who were mulcted of thousands of dollars could have been protected from the practice of secret commissions and backhanders.
We now have a golden opportunity in this Parliament to study the existing legislation and the use that could be made of it. I respectfully suggest that section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act could be strengthened. Another important point is the inability of investigators properly to investigate themselves. In public life one often is visited by people who say: ‘I know there is a problem but I am frightened for my life if I complain.’ This is a well known fact. I suggest that an ombudsman should be appointed to deal with matters relating to crime. I would support the appointment of a judge of a Supreme Court or the High Court. Every citizen should have an opportunity to go to the Attorney-General and to say: ‘I have a serious problem. I have information which ought to be investigated at another level. I am not prepared to give it to the investigators to investigate themselves because that is merely indicating to them that I am aware of their misconduct. It follows, whether we are dealing with prostitution or any other problem, that we could quickly ascertain in any city these people who are not coming up for review before the courts, who are causing much crime, misery and death while nothing is being done because we are just perhaps collecting statistics. This is not good enough.
The Opposition welcomes this legislation. We do say though that there should be provision in it - and we propose to move an amendment accordingly - that if this House wishes that there should be some criminological research it will be done. At this stage 1 do not think that such a provision is in the Bill. I know the Attorney-General will say that he will give it favourable consideration and we would welcome that. But from the point of view of getting people involved in criminal research this would be a most effective way to do it. If we had a commtitee of this Parliament to look at the reports of the director as they are submitted to us and perhaps call evidence in relation to what he has ascertained and listen to the people - the evidence could be in camera if it were deemed to be privileged - and check out the position, we could solve many a crime. Here wc have a solution for the Government.
Of the convicted criminals, many come under notice when they are at school. In fact in New South Wales, of the people continually going through the prison system, 33 per cent have been before the Children’s Court at some time. They come under notice very early. That in itself indicates again that there is no real success there. If we were to look to the educationalists, the people in the schools, they could say: ‘That youngster is not making the progress he should.’ It could well be due to a bad home environment. Perhaps better child endowment should be given in that particular case because if the youngster has talent he should be encouraged. If he has delinquent parents this fact should be established very early. The situation should not be allowed to drift on because we then penalise him to such an extent that he never recovers. We should tear down every prison wall because of the failure the prisons have been. We have inherited these buildings. Any prison officer will tell us that he will get much more out of the men if he is allowed to talk to them. Any prison officer would say: ‘If we were only trained for the job.’ At present they cannot get enough staff. It is said that they meet the boats to get people to take work in the prisons. If there is a problem there how can we get a result?
In the Long Bay penitentiary I saw a prisoner without arms. The obvious reason he was in there was that he had no arms and was deemed to be a vagrant. This is how society treats him. lt locks him up in a mangey cell when he is unable to look after himself because he has no arms. There he was and this is our modern society. When we want to investigate these matters they are hushed up. We are told: Do not have an investigation here because we cannot solve the problem.’ I admit that they cannot solve the problem because they have inherited this outdated system. They have not sufficient money and this is where the Commonwealth could readily come in. The first thing in research ought to be to determine how much money is necessary to provide a proper vocational and rehabilitation system for people who are convicted. It is recognised throughout the world that the best method would be to keep them under supervision and to effectively get them back into the community as quickly as possible. Do not leave them in this dire strait.
I have here a letter from a mother in which she says that her son is 18 years of age. He was convicted of a crime which he committed with a man aged 23. This was her son’s first crime but the man aged 23 was a known criminal. Her son was sentenced to 4£ years gaol and he is now, she has found, still in the same gaol as the man who got him into trouble. She asks What is to be done for her boy. No educational facilities are available. The mother asks whether judges and magistrates can sleep at night when they confine her boy to an institution which will treat him only in a fashion whereby he will learn more crime. This is not an indictment of any government. There are no votes in this legislation. But let us look at it from the point of view of what has already been established throughout the world. We can do better if we can get into this white collar crime. We would be leading the field and that is the submission I want to make to this Parliament. I think much that is worthwhile could come of this from the point of view of every citizen in this nation.
– It has been clear for some time that there has been a pressing need to place the study of crime in our society and the measures to combat it on a rational, co-ordinated and scientific basis. Additionally, it has been obvious that these objectives could not be achieved without adequate finance, a task which is generally beyond the resources of the States. Clearly there has been a long standing case for federal co-operation with the States in this field. To the extent that this proposal involves such co-operation it is welcome. Nonetheless, I have some reservations about it which I will mention either later in this speech or at the committee stage.
To pass on to the main point I want to make, information which is available suggests that crime is worsening in its challenge to our society. Merely referring to slogans and catch cries such as ‘law and order’ is no way to combat and successfully quell this problem. It is far too complex to be handled in such a simplistic way. Some appreciation of the complexity of crime can be gained from a statement in an official United States report entitled The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society’ which was prepared by the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. The report says inter alia: . . ‘crime’ is not a single simple phenomenon that can be examined, analysed and described in one piece. It occurs in every part of the country and in every stratum of society. Its practitioners and its victims are people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. Its trends are difficult to ascertain. Ils causes are legion. Its cures are speculative and controversial. An examination of any single kind of crime . . . raises a myriad of issues of the utmost complexity.
To me, this report indicates just how extensive and how complex and how deep is this problem with which at last we have come to grapple in federal Parliament. I feel we have to contribute much more than we are proposing to contribute under this Bill which, to be fair, and as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said, is a foot in the door. It is an opportunity for us to improve the services of law enforcement and related agencies which support law enforcement in the community. On the evidence available, crime seems to be a worsening problem in the States. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard 3 tables.
Before commenting on these tables I indicate that one should approach comparative statistics on crime in the States and internationally with some caution. There are variations in the way in which recording procedures are practised in the States and one could possibly get a biased appreciation of the crime rate and solution rate in the States if one does not allow for the fact that there are probably more effective and efficient recording systems operated by the police today than was the case in the past. Also the public is probably more prone than it was in the past to report crimes to the police departments. If one looks quickly at Table I one sees that there has been a diminution in some cases in the rate of crime solution in the States. In New South Wales it fell from 71 per cent in 1965 to 56 per cent in 1968. If one looks through the Stales one finds that the solution rate of crimes reported is roughly between 30 per cent and 40 per cent; not a particularly impressive figure, but on international comparisons it is about par for the course. This indicates the difficulties which confront law enforcement agencies in their efforts in the anonymous society in which we live in trying to clear up the challenge of crime in our society. I leave it to anyone who has the stamina to read through Hansard to interpret the rest of the tables as he sees fit.
The next point 1 want to make in relation to Table I is that the extent of crime is even greater than is indicated and the solution rate is lower than is indicated. When we appreciate the fact that what is called the ‘dark number’ - that is,the proportion of the total number of crimes committed in the community which is not reported to the police - is estimated at 4 times the actual number of crimes reported, and we make some adjustments and find that only about one-third of crimes reported are cleared up, it means that of all crimes committed one in every 15 is cleared up by our law enforcement agencies at the present time. This indicates the need for the research which is to be carried out. It also indicates the need for more material equipment for the law enforcement agencies and those supporting agencies such as the courts and parole and probation agencies which are so essential if we are to talk realistically and in an enlightened way about law enforcement in a modern society. It would be a shame if we were to become emotionally concerned and reacted in an exaggerated and illinformed fashion by looking at the statistics on crime and calling for tougher measures. In ‘Crime in a Changing Society’ Howard Jones pointed out:
The price of a high detection rate would be dear, if in its place we had to endure an arbitrary police force, with unrestricted rights of interrogation and arrest.
This sort of measure would be anathematical to people like us who live in a relatively free society. I move on to Table II., which relates to convictions in magistrates courts and higher courts in Australia for certain serious offences. One finds that between 1959 and 1968 - to impress the essential points in the. table - crimes against the person increased by 68.3 per cent, crimes against property increased by 56.5 per cent and forgery and offences against the currency by 150.4 per cent. The types of offences 1 have mentioned increased in total by 58.9 per cent. The population increased in the same period by only 18.4 per cent, lt is therefore quite clear that criminal offences against people and the public are increasing at a much faster rate than the population of the community. This is again the general trend throughout the world today.
Owen Thomson wrote some excellent articles in the ‘Australian’ last year which I think deserve an award for the social concern which they displayed and for the indepth approach to the research which was obviously involved. He pointed out in an article on 9th November last year that the prisoners are tending more and more to be in the younger age group and there tends to be more medium term sentences meted out. Only 5.86 per cent of the persons convicted in. 1954 were between 18 and 20 years of age whereas today the percentage is 14.95. Only 507 prisoners received medium terms of imprisonment in New South Wales in 1954 whereas today the figure is 1,155. If one looks at the ‘Commonwealth Year Book’ one will find that a greater proportion of the population is going into prisons. For example, it was 6.9 per 10,000 of the population in 1964 but by 1968 it had risen to 7.3. lt would therefore appear that, notwithstanding the qualifications I mentioned about the comparability of statistics, there is evidence of a mount ing crime problem in the community and the community has to bear it at a considerable social cost as well as a direct economic cost.
Let me again state the need for restraint in approaching this problem. We should not allow ourselves to be panic stricken. We are not, as is sometimes claimed, tending to become one of the worst crimeridden countries in the world. I have another table which shows a comparison of selected serious crime rates per 100,000 population in .1965. This is the most recent year for whic’h I could make i comparison. The comparison is between Australia and the United States of Amenca. One finds that, for instance, the homicide rate in Australia is 2.3 and in the United States of America it is 5.1. To select mother one, the robbery rate is only 6.3 in Australia and in the United States it is 61.4. However, for breaking and entering offences it is 405.4 in Australia and 299.6 in the United States. If these statistics are a reliable comparison we display a greater propensity lor breaking and entering offences than does the United States. We are almost on a par wilh the United States in regard to motor vehicle thefts. I mention these figures mainly to assure anyone who feels that we must become alarmed and react excessively in an oppressive manner wilh tougher measures that this i.; not the answer to the problem. The problem or the challenge of crime in our society is, while a mounting one. far below that which exists in many other advanced countries in the world. Our approach ought to be a more constructive and enlightened one than the taking of tougher and more oppressive measures.
The cost factor is why we should become more and more involved in combating crime in the community through direct participation and co-operation with the States. The cost of the administration of justice, prisons and the police in the States of the Commonwealth in 1968-69 was approximately SI 38m. This is a lot of money which has to be provided by the taxpayers. In a few seconds 1 want to ask some questions about the system of law enforcement and the system of corrections which we apply in this country. Clearly they have failed. The answer is not more and tougher police, more and tougher courts, more and tougher gaols and, least of all, more and tougher laws. The evidence is, I repeat, that the system has clearly failed. The courts have become the gateway to a penal system which is inspired not by any desire to apply therapeutic measures but by the injunction of the Mosaic law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We have a negative approach to the concept of justice. Detection and retribution are accentuated. The positive aspects of prevention and rehabilitation are understated. Howard Jones, in the work I quoted a few moments ago, said:
How a society treats its offenders is an index of ils basic attitude towards human personality; if, for instance, we ill-treat our thieves, we show only too clearly what we put first, property or people.
On the balance of the evidence available we have tended to put the rights of property too far ahead of the fundamental rights of human beings in a society which essentially should be constructive and should operate to serve the needs and the aspirations of human beings. No matter who a human being is. what his economic or social standing is, or whatever differentiation there is about him, if he is a human being on the face of this earth he is important and we should be concerned about him above property rights.
I turn to the Bill which is before the House. 1 shall approach it by discussing some of its negative aspects. My major criticism is that there is no direct federal involvement proposed in the legislation which is before the House for financial grants to the States on whatever appropriate conditions might, in a particular case, be applied for assistance to meet capital and recurrent expenditures. This is probably where some of the most urgent need lies if we are going to operate effectively our law enforcement agencies and the supporting agencies, which are a part of the overall structure, to combat the challenge of crime in our society.
Let me start with the police forces. Policemen in our society have to be seen as more than mere law enforcers, lt is true that they have to perform this task, but they also have to be top administrators. A policeman who is in charge of a district probably has 200, 300 or 400 men under him. If it is a big district in a city the number would probably be in the thousands. So he is a top administrator. He has to handle the delicate field of civil liberties, which calls for an open mind and a flexible sense of judgment and, most of all, a great deal of restraint. The policemen of today are asked to do all sorts of difficult things for most of which they are not trained, such as working as a literary, artistic and cultural censor in our community. We do not train our law enforcement officers to do these things.
What we really need is to have a great deal more money poured into an educational programme so that these men will be able more successfully to do their jobs. The sorts of things which ought to be covered in these courses are police science, police administration, correctional administration, law, criminalistics, penology, criminology, urban affairs, public administration, political science, behavioural science, economics, business management and computer or systems science. 1 quote these to indicate that we have to get away from the old fashioned concept of a policeman as a flatfoot 6 feet tall walking the beat, with brawny muscles and a limited education. A policeman should be a much more important figure in our community today and he should gain much more respect than he currently attracts. For instance, public opinion polls indicate that only 64 per cent of Australians compared with 82.7 per cent of the people in Great Britain respect their policemen. Yet iti many respects one feels that this is unfair. On looking at the 1968 annual report of the New South Wales Police Force I discovered that 23 men had been commended for bravery. Each had placed his life in serious jeopardy.
Let me go on to deal with the courts. The lack of dignity and the dingy buildings which often pass for courts., especially in the inferior levels of jurisdiction, undermine respect for the system. The backlog of cases and then, contradictorily, often the assembly line system of justice, also undermine respect for the system of justice. More especially there is the lack of particular attention for each case which comes before the court, and the failure of our system of justice to recognise that each human being who comes before the court is a human being. He is an individual, he has special problems, and he should attract certain fundamental rights and certain recognition of his special problems in our society. After all, our society is wealthy enough to be able to afford this.
Our system of parole and probation should contribute most beneficially to the rehabilitation of people who have come in conflict with the law but, without exception, the parole and probation systems in Australia are overloaded. In the Australian Capital Territory there is one officer to handle parole and probation. He also has to prepare pre-sentence reports and supervise juvenile delinquents. I understand that the social welfare branch to which he is attached has not had a director for 2 years, so low does this particular area rate. The Victorian social welfare report of last year discloses the severe overloading of staff working on parole and probation. In Ballarat one officer has to. cover an area of 23.000 square miles. At one stage he was dealing concurrently with 291 cases from twenty-six different courts. The system of parole and probation is of such unchallengeable benefit to the community that one wonders why we have skimped money in this particular area. In the report ‘The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society’ it is stated:
One summary analysis of fifteen different studies of probation outcomes indicates that from 60 per cent io 90 per cent of the probationers studied completed terms without revocation. In another study, undertaken in California, 11,638 adult probationers who were granted probation during 1956 lo 1958 were followed up after 7 years. Of this group almost 72 per cent completed their probation terms without revocation.
Quite clearly we are being stupid in the way in which we allocate public finance by building gaols, by providing a minimum amount of cash to operate our police forces, by starving our court systems and, worst of all, by gravely overstraining our parole and probation system, because the final result is a severe overburden of social and economic costs which must be carried.
In the area of prisons, we use last century buildings and methods appropriate to the century before that at a time when we should be preparing to enter the 21st century. Prisons cost too much to want many in our society in any case. As the United States report I mentioned stated:
Life in many institutions is at best barren and futile; at worst, unspeakably brutal and degrading.
There are positive sides, of course, to the proposal including research, provided that it is not suppressed and provided that adequate publicity is given to what is being done. Possibly research could COver such things as the role of the police force generally. Perhaps we need different structures within the police force - the general policeman who requires only a moderate form of education and fulfils the more stringent physical requirements generally applied to police today, and a specialised policeman much like they have in the French Surete who will be an investigator with higher qualifications. I ought to add the qualification that, of course, we would not exclude the opportunity for the general policeman to move into this area. I am not one who believes that a degree alone will make a good policeman, but a degree will make a good policeman better.
We should look at jaw reform. Why should policemen chase homosexuals, apply abortion laws, harass prostitutes or intimidate drunks and vagrants? Policemen do not like this work. These people are not threats to our society and they should be phased into some other area of responsibility. Science and technology will need to be examined. Finally 1 refer to the people who will be controlling the institute - the board. I regret that it seems to be fairly firmly under the foot of the executive - of representatives from the Commonwealth and States. Victoria’s inquiry into the corrupt dealings of its Homicide Squad with abortionists has demonstrated abundantly that in a serious matter the executive may be utterly incompetent and therefore cannot be relied upon to ferret out the truth about its administration. The Police Commissioner’s own inquiry into the allegations of bribery produced not one fact at all. We need a predominantly independent representation on the advisory council but, alas, our approach in this respect will be, I expect, defective.
– Order! The honourable member’s lime has expired.
– I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. In the main, I support the remarks of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). However, I om disappointed that there are not more Government supporters speaking on a matter of such public importance as the Criminology Research Bill. Last night, we saw the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) and the Government hurriedly expedite the presentation to the House of a Bill dealing with law and order and concerned primarily with young university students whom history will show are displaying a deep sense of true Australian nationalism. However, governments, State and Federal, are virtually dragging their feet in proposing reforms to the criminal law. The legislation now before the House is long overdue. Whilst on the one hand I am critical of the Attorney-General for the Bill he introduced last night, on the other hand I admire him for introducing this Bill, despite its lateness. Crime in Australia. Great Britain and the United States of America has reached an all time high and it is only when it reaches an all time high that people in the respective nations begin to show concern.
When I was a mere boy in this Parliament - about 8 years ago - 1 pointed out to the Parliament that police commissioners were not disclosing to their State governments the true rate of crime, lt was suggested in the lobbies that 1 was being vindictive to a former superior officer. Now, the police commissioners are revealing, because they realise they cannot hide them any longer, the true crime figures to their respective State governments. It is difficult for a police force to correlate true figures relating to crime and J shall give the House an instance. Recently, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, there were approximately 40 robberies committed in an identical manner. No honourable member, if he had known the details, would have suggested that all these robberies had not been committed by the one person. Then, the evil-doer was caught in the act. He said that he was looking for an aunt but the police had some common sense and told him to think of another excuse. He was convicted and - I think I am correct in saying this - the Police Department wiped off from its crime records the other 39 robberies. The Department said that it was convinced that the convicted man had committed an 40 robberies, because after his arrest that type of robbery had ceased.
Other things go on which are not always in keeping with my own principles, where the police departments probably go too far in expunging from the records some crimes that should be truly shown to their governments. Indeed, where police forces in cer- tain States formerly claimed an 80 per cent clear-up of crime they are now coming closer to the truth and are showing about a 40 per cent clear-up of crime. I am doubtful whether the figure is as high as that. Many crimes are falsely reported, especially crimes which, in a capitalist, free enterprise society, are committed for money. People will often report to their insurance companies the theft of much more than has, in fact, been stolen. If one were to know the actual value of goods stolen and could compare it with what has been claimed from insurance companies, it would be just laughable. These are the people who serve on juries, the pillars of society, probably the only people in the civilian section of the community who are invited to a royal dinner in Kings Hall. They are probably running a business and if they are robbed they say: ‘He got away with S3,000’, when the thief probably got away with . only $1,200. These are the people we have to salute. These are the people who are knighted. These are the pillars of society who contribute funds to the coffers of the Liberal-Country Party Government. I could name certain people whom 1 feel confident have robbed insurance companies in this way but I will not do so even under the privilege of the Parliament because I do not believe in using the privilege of the Parliament unless I am absolutely positive that what I am saying is true.
Later I. will refer in the Parliament to severe criticism which I directed to one of the senior members of the Press Gallery who tried to silence me in connection with an allegation I made in the Parliament some two or three years ago. As a result of the allegation that I made some five or seven people are now, two or three years later, standing trial at the Sydney criminal court in connection with a serious offence. I have no doubt that if the jury, the judge, the crown prosecutor and the counsel for the defence do their jobs fairly and squarely the persons now standing trial will receive a substantial sentence. When the case is concluded I will then refer to it in the Parliament.
No-one has ever diagnosed the cause of crime or even put forward an adequate theory to account for it. University research has progressed no further than laying down pilot schemes in an endeavour to learn how the causes of crime may be discovered. Since the great train robbery in Great Britain in 1962 referred to in the book The Crime Explosion’ by Peter Gladstone-Smith - the book refers to the situation in Great Britain - much thought has been given to the subject. Nevertheless crime has increased steadily and no easy answers have been forthcoming. To my mind the capitalist free enterprise society is the cause of crime. Certain social changes seem to contribute to increasing crime. In particular, immigration on a large scale seems to bring about a more unsettled state of affairs. Since the war and the incidence of large scale migration bank hold-ups in Sydney and throughout the Commonwealth have become the order of the day. They were seldom heard of prior to the war. Dugan and Meares were about the first people in this nation to perpetrate a machine gun bank hold-up. That occurred at Ultimo about 20 years ago. In America, a nation made up entirely of immigrants, the crime rate is about 10 times higher than it is in our mother country Great Britain.
One should not allow himself to think that in Great Britain or even in Australia crimes are committed mainly by immigrants. We in Australia should be grateful for the contribution that large sections of immigrants have made to our society. We appreciate the many thousands of very worthy migrants who have come to Australia since the implementation of our migration policy. We should also be frank with ourselves and with the nation and state that much of our violent crime has been and is being perpetrated by a minority of the new arrivals. How they got through the screening of our immigration officials in other lands is beyond me. Our immigration officials must be incompetent. I prefer to say that to saying that they are subject to graft and persuasion. Only about 10 per cent of new Australians are inmates in New South Wales prisons. I was amazed to learn recently that at the hospital for the criminally insane at Morisset which is in my electorate - formerly it was in the electorate of Robertson which now is very worthily represented by Mr Cohen - 50 per cent of the criminally mental inmates are immigrants to Australia. To my knowledge no statistics are kept by the respective State police forces relating to crimes committed by new Australians. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on our very worthy migrants from other lands.
Will this Bill solve the problem? No doubt it will assist. I welcome the introduction of the Criminology Research Bill. It is long overdue. I expected that some legislative action of this nature would have come before the House many years ago. This is an historical move by the Parliament which I welcome. In his second reading speech the Minister, when referring to the cost of crime in the United States, said that it amounted to some $20,000m. The Rural Bank of New South Wales estimated in 1968 that the cost of crime in Australia was about $350m a year. That too was mentioned by the Minister in his second reading speech. Is it any wonder that the Attorney-General and the Government have had to tackle the problem? Will this measure now being debated provide the answer? The Minister said:
There can be no gainsaying that the incidence of crime is rising in Australia.
I think that the Minister is very considerate in his use of words. Crime in Australia is galloping, the primary reasons in my view being the shortage of police and inadequately trained police. Low morale due to low wages and inadequate equipment because of the low priority that State governments have given in years past to the allocation of funds in this direction have further contributed to the upsurge in serious crime. Once a police force has been allowed to fall below strength it takes, in my view, 20 or 25 years to recover. Recruits are taken In and, before they are properly trained, are assigned to the duties formerly carried out by senior and experienced officers. They become senior officers before they are themselves trained. Then they become responsible for the training of juniors. These factors apply not only to the State police forces of this country. Almost identical circumstances have been the burden of the police forces in the United States and in the United Kingdom which also have experienced an upsurge in crime. Now that the door has been opened to the Commonwealth by the States’ co-operation in approving this legislation, it is hoped that this will be the forerunner of other action designed to improve the lot of those persons charged with the responsibility of relieving law abiding citizens of the constant fear of being the victim of organised crime.
How has this Parliament been affected by crime? We have seen an attempt on the life of a former Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt. We have seen an attempt on the life of the former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). The life of the honourable member for Lalor (Dr Cairns) was placed in jeopardy. We have seen a bomb attack in Sydney recently on the home of Senator-elect Gietzelt. The newspapers have not indicated whether there is any prospect of arresting anyone for it. Unfortunately it is not until the lives of important citizens are placed in jeopardy that our parliaments move into the field in which we are now moving.
I was happy that the Minister referred in his second reading speech to unreported crime. That is referred to in one or two of 3 books that I have here. 1 have referred already to “The Crime Explosion’ by Peter Gladstone-Smith. The second is The Honest Politician’s Guide to Crime Control’ by Norman Morris and Gordon Hawkins. If time permits, I hope to make some reference to that book. But the gem of them all, one to which I shall make some reference before I exhaust my time, is ‘All Manner of People’ by Mr A. E. Debenham, a highly respected man who formerly was a magistrate at one of the Sydney metropolitan children’s courts.
I am glad that the Minister referred to unreported crime. No-one knows the extent of unreported crime. If the claims figures from insurance companies were collated they might give some indication but in my view they would be somewhat inflated. I am referring mainly in this respect to claims for goods lost or stolen in transit, whether by ship, rail or road. I remember an incident during the war years when a case of micrometers which were vitally important to the Australian war effort was shipped here from the United States. When the case was opened it was found to contain bricks consistent with the weight of the micrometers. 1 hope that this legislation will overcome some of the problems encountered in crime detection. The bricks were taken to a certain section at the University of Sydney for analysis and it was found that they contained soil which was very common near the place where the micrometers were made in the United States. This proved beyond any doubt that our unfortunate wharf labourers, who, it is alleged, are the greatest pillagers in the world, were not responsible and that the theft occurred in the United States. The micrometers had been taken out of the case and probably were sold elsewhere. It is hoped that this legislation will make scientific facilities accessible to police forces in this Commonwealth so that they can quickly test the contents of such things as those bricks. Police will be able to go to some establishment and say: ‘This case is supposed to have come from Turkey. Where did these bricks come from?’. Then the police will be able to determine whether a crime was committed in New South Wales, in Australia or overseas.
I think that the allocation of S50.000 by the Commonwealth to set up an Institute of Criminology and a Criminology Research Council is far less than adequate but it is a step in the right direction, in Australia crime investigation has been given a low priority for many years. Police forces have been reluctant to reveal the true incidence of crime for too long. As I said earlier, I mentioned this fact soon after coming to Parliament. In a murder case the police department will depute scores of detectives to the investigation and will provide clerks to assist them. I realise I will have to curtail my remarks, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I would like to have imparted more information to the House. A crime investigator spends one-third of his day investigating crime, one-third of his day in attending to correspondence and one-third of his day attending court. This is over a period of 1 2 months.
I have heard people say that this could and should be overcome by having civilian typists to do confidential reports. However, police officers are no more immune from libel actions than is John Citizen in the street. A police officer has to ask himself: Ms this fair?’. Therefore civilians cannot be used to type confidential reports for superior officers if that report is along these lines: ‘While there is an absence of evidence to lay a charge against John Smith, I believe that he is responsible.’ If that civilian leaked that information to someone other than the superior officer the police officer concerned would be liable to a civil action for damages. Yet a policeman is a low wage earner. He will not take the risk. That is one of the principal reasons why crime throughout Australia has reached the unprecedented heights that it has reached.
What do we find in other professions? I will refer to the medical profession, many of whom are members of my Party. I admire them greatly. The medical profession has a fund. To illustrate this point I would like to quote from the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of Thursday, 4th March. On issues such as this, the ‘Daily Telegraph* could be right but on political issues I would not accept anything that it said. In this article the ‘Daily Telegraph’ said:
An infallible fact of life is that nobody is infallible and - as uncomforting as the thought might be - doctors are no exception. … So much so that in New South Wales alone doctors are currently paying out nearly $200,000 a year to insure themselves against the financial repercussions of mistakes.
In other words, legal action. But what happens in the case of the poor old cop? He has no safeguard and his wife and children can be thrown to the wolves. He is no longer prepared to take the risk for society and the politicians who are not prepared to introduce legislation to protect him.
In conclusion, I want to say that it is the capitalist society which is responsible for crime. I want to quote some of the words of the learned magistrate I mentioned, Mr Debenham. He said:
I saw the misery of broken homes and deserted wives and neglected children. (Extension of time granted) I thank honourable members for their courtesy. Mr Debenham said:
I saw the misery of broken homes and deserted wives and neglected children. I saw the beginnings of resentment and hatred in the faces of small children whose attitude towards life was warped by drinking and gambling. I saw murder, assault and woe marching behind the bottle and the bookie. In my years as chamber magistrate and later on the bench I saw all the variations of agony they brought in their wake.
I applaud the Government for introducing this legislation; but we will never overcome the incidence of brutal crime until we overcome the problems of a capitalist society.
– The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) made what I will call a picturesque speech and I will refer to it in a moment. I sought to intrude into this debate for no other reason than to put on record my appreciation of the first class speech made by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen). I have, I am told by my critics, little capacity for flattery, but I think the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith made one of the most thoughtful speeches I have heard in this House in nearly 16 years. It is a pity that we do not have the opportunity of approaching these problems a little more frequently in this non-partisan and dispassionate way. I think some of the great debates I have had the privilege of listening to in this House have been those in which there has not been a manifestation of fierce Party views. The speech made by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith certainly vindicates that view, in my opinion.
The honourable member for Hunter spoke, as I said, in a most picturesque way. When the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) spoke he looked at me and said that he did not advance the proposition that it was necessary for police officers to have a university degree in order to be good police officers but they would be better police officers if they had a university degree. I want to say something about that proposition in general. In my opinion the fact that a person has a university degree does not necessarily advance him one iota. Some of the finest men I know in various walks of life are those who have had little if any formal education. I refer to men who knock about shearing sheds and mustering camps and who have had no opportunity to go through a silver tail existence. To my mind, these are some of the finest men and I recall them with the utmost affection. They have a firm handclasp, their word is their bond and even though they may not practise the most fancy manners and cannot discuss the most abstruse academic problems they, in my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of the great majority of Australians, . still represent the great essential backbone of this country. I do not want any person to say to me that you have to go to a university in order to get some sense of respectability. This observation applies to the police force. Some of the finest police investigators whom 1 have met and whom 1 have cross examined have been those who have had no connection whatsoever with a university.
– You could not break them down.
– What my friend from Hunter has just said is perfectly true. These people have a intuition lor their job.
– What about letting a few laymen make judgment?
– The honourable member has made a rather inane remark which cannot help the cause at all. 1 would have hoped to keep this debate on some sensible basis.
I want lo deal with the proposition put forward by the honourable member for Oxley, which was apparently supported by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), that a person must go through university in order to command some respectability, lt is perfectly true that over the years there has been a steady change in the attitude of society towards those who participate in crime. Nevertheless, I think society is entitled today to seek to find an equapoise between deterrence on the one hand and effecting a form of sanction on the other. It is all very fine to say that we can take hold of a character who has been involved in half a dozen breakings and enterings and say to him: ‘We will try to correct voir. Some of these people, to use the language of my friend from KingsfordSmith, are essentially recidivist and unless they are shown that society has some authority to interpose, any other treatment is quite futile.
I think one can give some illustrations of that statement. Take a young man who may be 19 or 20 years of age who has been brought up in an environment in which his family has given him every access to a motor car and wealth. His father may have told him: ‘For heavens sake do not drive the car if you have been to a party. Do not drive the car over 45 miles an hour’. Nevertheless the young man gets into the car and does not realise that he has in hands something which is in effect a potentially lethal weapon. The next time one sees the young man and his parents is in court One has to go through the agony of talking to the patents of the young man who may be lacing a manslaughter charge. This is where the agony occurs. What is society to do? ls society to say in that instance where the young man has all of his normal cerebral processes: Well, we will try to correct you without imposing sanctions on you’. I am talking about a specific case in which there is complete normality and where the young man involved has been given every opportunity.
On the other hand take the case of a person who has very slow reflexes. Let us assume that this person when driving his car is involved in an accident in which a person is killed, and he faces a charge. There again society has to make up its mind. How does society make up its mind? Society makes up its mind by medium of the jury and by medium of the judge when the matter comes to sentence. I have had the great privilege and honour of knowing many judges. I do not know one of them who has not said to me at one time or another that in his experience the most distressing thing is the matter of sentence. Some judges have a reputation, as we all know, for being a little brittle during the course of a trial. But those judges may be the very quintescence of sentimentality when it comes to the matter of sentence. But a judge has a duty to perform. That duty is performed. However, the passing of sentence is the distressing feature as far as the judge is concerned. What this Bill seeks to do is to try to find an area in which the equipoise between deterrence on the one hand and sanction on the other can be found. This is not an easy area in which to find an answer.
The speech made by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith illustrates the fact that there are people who are involved in crime who have a great variety of mental attributes. I was once instructed to appear for a person charged with attempted murder. I went to the gaol to see him and the warder said to me: ‘If you would not mind I will stand over here’. He pointed to where he would stand. 1 said: Why is that?’ He said: ‘This man is quite dangerous’. I asked why. He said: ‘I fear that he will be violent with you’. The accused had sought to kill another man with a heavy rasp at night time. He had hit the victim around the head. Although the victim put his arms over bis head he was shockingly injured. I said to my client: What is the defence?’ He said to me: ‘It could not have been me’. I asked him why. He said: ‘I was out killing another man that evening’. There is a rather macabre sort of humour in such a statement. That person told me that he would conduct his own defence.
– You could not blame him, could you?
– You would be the sort of person whom I would meticulously keep off a jury. I went to the trial judge because I took the view that I had a duty to the court and to society. I told him that if I had been retained by this man I would have sought to raise the plea that he was incapable of pleading to the crime. Under the law at the time - I think this is still the case - that issue had to be determined by a jury. I hold a personal view and I am sure my friend the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) will forgive me if I intrude. I think it is wrong to ask a jury of 12 people whether such a man is medically fit to plead to the crime with which he is charged. I think that such a matter should be best determined by two or three psychiatrists. This man suffered from a form of mental abnormality. He had moments of lucidity and intelligibility but he had other instances of fierce delusions. The judge found 2 doctors to examine him and the man was put away until he was capable of standing trial. This is the sort of area - it is a little point, but a vital point - that the Attorney-General is seeking to advance. To that extent I believe the community should welcome this legislation.
I would like to say one or two other things about this Bill and about the remarks that have been made on it. I think it is a pity that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has sought to raise the old argument of Commonwealth and State relations with respect to this matter. In my experience I have never heard a Premier, a State Treasurer or for that matter a State Member of Parliament, no matter what his Party may have been, say that the police force was put at a disadvantage because of any austere approach by the Commonwealth in the field of Commonwealth and State relations. Secondly, I think it is a pity that the honourable member does not recognise the fact that many police officers today perform their duties under extreme provocation. Let me give an illustration of this. I have seen a young girl at a gathering jab a hat pin into the backside of a police officer. 1 know what my instinctive reaction to that would be; I would turn round and slap her across the face. It is not a matter of lack of gallantry. This is exactly what the police officer did, instinctively, and the charge made against him was one of police brutality.
I have seen a number of police officers under extreme provocation. It is very easy to rubbish those who serve in the Commonwealth Police Force and in the police forces of the States of Australia, but my experience has been that to the best of their ability they try to do their jobs. They are no better and no worse than people in any other segment of the community. They seek to do their job as they understand it. I believe that the Attorney-General and certainly the Government through this legislation are seeking to find out what today is the contemporary thinking of society in relation to crime, the best way to combat it, the best way of ensuring that society has its say in striving to find that equipoise between deterrence on the one hand and, on the other hand, ensuring that the individual meets what is regarded as his due punishment.
– This Bill represents a very welcome change from the historical attitude of Liberal Party and like-minded governments to the problem of crime. The traditional attitude has been to enforce the law rather than to treat the cause of the crime. This has meant the use of police to defend those who have property from those who have not. There is an urgent need to study the causes of all human individual and group behavioural deviations, not only of crime in its conventional sense, but also of racism, drug taking and war. In the long run, prevention of these things is cheaper, in every sense of the word, than waiting until they occur and then trying to cure them. Expenditure on the investigation of the root causes of these current social problems will be money well spent. It is about these root causes that I want to talk tonight. The intial outlay of $100,000 is very small, but I expect that it will increase as the Institute of Criminology becomes operational. But even this amount, small as it is. I am sure will be a very good investment in the future security of Australia, the security of our children and a better investment than the expenditure of lives and money in a futile war, such as the one in Vietnam.
The historical attitude of our society to criminal behaviour has been like the attitude to sin - that such behaviour follows the exercise of free will and that, like sin, due retribution, if not eternal retribution, must follow. Nowadays there is an increasing realisation that there are determinants of human behaviour, normal or abnormal, other than free will. One of the most moving experiences 1 have ever had was to visit the graveyard of the old penal settlement at Norfolk Island. Here was the sorry record of our so-called civilisation, not much more than a century ago. It is a chilling experience, on that beautiful landscape, to look at the headstones of those wretched men, the so-called incorrigible criminals, men who had been brutalised by savage repression, deprivation and physical hardship. Yet the headstones gave testimony to how these wretched creatures had strayed from the path of righteousness and had entreated their Creator to grant them forgiveness. My reaction was that the wickedness lay not in these captives but in their captors, the prison governors, with one honourable exception, and the masters of the whole system which oppressed them. Doubtless the captors and tormentors, such as the succession of prison governors, regarded themselves as good Christians.
This attitude that criminal behaviour must be met by retribution is dying a death which is, sadly, rather a slow one. 1 see that the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) has a question on notice about a reverend gentleman calling for the retention of the death penalty as the divinely imposed sanction. Last year we had the experience of a well known politician calling for severe penalties for people who take drugs. Evidently if you are addicted to drugs this is not in itself punishment enough; you must be punished further, and severely. I wonder what penalties this politician had in mind. Perhaps he was thinking of the thumb-screw. Incidentally, he reads the Bible on the train every morning. Notwithstanding the persistence of such attitudes there is an increasing awareness of the fact that there are factors other than free will which determine criminal behaviour. These are biological factors and factors in the individual’s present and past environment. There is a school of thought which rejects entirely the concept of free will and takes a position of biological and historical determinism. Not that it matters, but my own view is that the concept of free will is rather nebulous. What does matter is that, from a practical viewpoint, we can do a great deal to prevent crime and other behavioural deviations by a study of their biological and environmental causes. The 7 governments of Australia - even the Country Party Government in Queensland, surprisingly - have acknowledged this fact. Hence this Bill, which is the child of an unusually harmonious Commonwealth and State relationship.
The most spectacular discovery on the biological side of criminology in recent years has been that of the extra Y chromosome in some habitual criminals. It is early days yet to draw any firm conclusions, but findings so far suggest that the incidence of the XYY pattern is higher in criminals than in the non-criminal population. More research is necessary. This might be a fruitful line of research for the Institute of Criminology. Other avenues for advance may be in the area of endocrinology. The pituitary gland and the parathyroid glands have been implicated and the effect on human behaviour of a lowering of blood sugar, from excessive insulin and other causes, is well known. Drugs are an important cause of criminal behaviour. One can consider, for example, the effect of alcohol. Heroin addiction is a major cause, if not the greatest cause, of crime in some large United States cities as the addict resorts to desperate measures to obtain supplies.
The real test of this Government and its successors will come from the environmental factors, because to act on the findings big money will have to be spent and big changes will have to be made, upsetting many vested interests. Great courage and determination will be necessary because radical change is not politically easy. In his second reading speech the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) referred to critical problems related to crime and he instanced increasing population and urbanisation. There is a substantial amount of empirical evidence to suggest that crime, and especially organised crime, is a phenomenon of big cities. All governments of Australia should ponder over this. Perhaps they have pondered already; but if they have, it has produced only some perfunctory talk about decentralisation and not much action. Commonwealth and State governments really must get together and solve the problems of over-large cities. I would like to dwell briefly on this problem, because if governments do not come to grips with it as a matter of urgency we may eventually face the reality of Australian cities with populations of 10 million and over, with appalling rates of crime, drug taking and other social problems.
One year ago when I made my first speech in this Parliament I advocated a joint Commonwealth and State venture to deal with modern urban development, as no single State has the resources to deal with the problem. At that time I was speaking about traffic problems. If this suggestion cannot be adopted for the sake of transport, then perhaps Commonwealth and States could come together and tackle urban problems in the name of crime prevention. This very Bill shows that cooperative federalism, a policy first espoused by the present Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan, can be achieved. If it can be achieved in the field of an institute of criminology surely it can be achieved to implement the findings of that institute. The Commonwealth could lead the way through an expanded Department of the Interior, utilising the experience of the National Capital Development Commission, which has had a spectacular success in the development of Canberra.
– That is because it has had the money.
– That is right. I refer how to another problem which is evident in the United States. It is not realistic to say that everything that applies in the United States is applicable here, but we must take what we can and learn what we can from the experience of cities in the United States. Another problem that has been evident is that the incidence of crime is very high in inner urban areas, especially among disadvantaged racial and national groups. We must focus our efforts on that severely disadvantaged minority in Australia, our
Aboriginals. If we are to prevent crime on a United States scale from occurring amongst the original Australians, we must make an all out effort to help them to achieve a stake in the system the same as the white man. Although we do not have anything like the problem in the United States of America, there is enough to make us sit up and take notice. The Aboriginal population in my State of South Australia represents 1 per cent of the total State population. Yet 24 per cent of admissions to Yatala prison last year were Aboriginals. The solutions are not easy. The Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan, for a long time has been a champion of the cause of the Aboriginals. South Australia has led the way in providing Aboriginals with land rights, and in the passage of legislation prohibiting discrimination. I hope that the Institute of Criminology will give a great deal of attention to the problems of this under-privileged group. I have no doubt that a programme of massive Commonwealth aid will be needed to afford all Aboriginals absolute equality with everyone else.
Some interesting recommendations have emerged from the United States National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. There is some discussion in the Commission’s report on the role of local government. The view is expressed that local government has an important role to play in that in its relatively small area it is the best agency to determine policies and develop programmes responsive to community needs. I believe that there is a great potential for local government here. But, in South Australia at least, it is only a potential. I have already mentioned the unduly high proportion of Aboriginal prisoners. A special problem exists within the city of Adelaide itself. Yet the Adelaide City Council has never provided a single social amenity for young people in its area. Unfortunately, local government in South Australia is elected on a property franchise, and the elected councillors consequently are concerned only with the defence and interests of property. I hope that the South Australian Labor Government will be successful in its current efforts to introduce adult franchise and that a council will be elected to serve the interests of people rather than of property.
The Attorney-General referred also to the problems of rising population in that it has become recognised as having a casual relationship with rising crime rates. At first blush it would appear absurd that Australia could be over-populated in the foreseeable future. However, it is not just a question of looking at the size of Australia on the map and counting the number of people. The problem is, of course, complicated by the fact that most of the population is concentrated in a few cities. Again, we come to the question of urban development. Because in the last 20-odd years we have been supplementing our natural population increase by immigration the expansion of the cities has been accelerated. I think that the Government will have to look seriously at whether our immigration quota is too large to allow our urban development programmes to adapt to the rapid population increase, although, as the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) has mentioned, the incidence of crime amongst migrants is much lower than in the Australian born population. Related to the population increase is the problem of overcrowding. Apart from population itself within a city, there does appear to be a problem of population density. High crime rates appear to occur particularly in overcrowded areas. We now have evidence of this from a study conducted in Sydney. Honourable members probably have seen that study. This is something that must be borne in mind when considering high density development in cities as part of a programme of slum clearance. The cure may sometimes be worse than the disease.
I have not discussed the problems of prison reform, of the alterations to modernise the police force, or of law enforcement. These are very important matters. But I have deliberately confined my remarks to what I believe are some of the basic causes underlying deviant human behaviour. I hope that these factors will receive a high priority in the deliberations of the Institute of Criminology. We must aim at prevention. The present AttorneyGeneral is ever-ready, as we know, to refer to the need for law and order. I suggest that the next time he uses the term he ponders whether the 2 words really belong together. In a sense the terms ‘law’ and order* are incompatible, because the only way to ensure order is to have a system where order prevails by public consent. For order to prevail, we must have a system which all citizens have a vested interest in maintaining. If some do not have a stake in the system, the situation will arise where the law must be invoked. And if the law has to be invoked, this is not order but repression, which in turn invites large scale disorder.
The success or failure of this Bill and of the Institute of Criminology will probably depend on the attitude of the Institute’s political masters through their appointees to the Board. It is not therefore possible to predict the outcome. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I must admit to some apprehension following the public order measure introduced in the Parliament last night and the law and order legislation recently enacted by the New South Wales Government. If you set out merely to find a more efficient means of defending the status quo, you will fail. If, on the other hand, you set out to achieve a just society, there is a chance of success.
Finally, I would like to refer to the final recommendation of the recent United States National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. The Commission stated:
An improved criminal-justice system is required to contain the growth of violent crime, but only progress towards urban reconstruction can reduce the strength of the crime-causing forces in the inner city and thus reverse the direction of present crime trends.
– The first thing that I wish to do in this very short speech on the Criminology Research Bill is what my colleague, the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen), did at the beginning of his speech - this is, to congratulate the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen). My own assessment of his speech is that it was quite excellent, lt was a very sustained and substantial contribution to the debate. The honourable member, no doubt due to an excess of modesty, confined himself in the number of the matters that he could have mentioned. I know that, because a prison of substantial size is located in his electorate, the honourable member does come in contact with the problem that this legislation seeks to solve. I wish to do no more at this stage than to congratulate him on the substantial and original contribution that he made to the debate.
Secondly I wish to state shortly and simply - 1 would have thought that some of the speeches in this debate could have been confined to this simple proposition - that this legislation recognises a serious need in the community and sets out to meet that need. I would have thought that this was a worthy measure indeed. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) seemed to discern in his comments, with some almost Delphic perception, that crime was on the increase in Australia and that there were serious problems associated with the enforcement of law and order, with the police force, with shortages of money and so on. But, of course, these are the very problems that the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) identified in his second reading speech. No great credit . is due to one for merely repeating what the AttorneyGeneral has stated is all too obvious. It is because the increase in crime is so obvious and the instruments that we have to solve the problems of crime are so inadequate that this legislation has been brought forward.
I congratulate the Government unequivocally on introducing this legislation and on taking positive steps to establish the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Criminology Research Council and the Criminology Research Fund. Having made those congratulatory and probably kind remarks - I think it is fair to describe them that way, and no doubt the AttorneyGeneral agrees - may I turn to a less fortunate aspect of the debate. This is the only other thing that I wish to mention. I refer to the opening remarks of the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun), who preceded me. The honourable member, as the House will recall, indicated in the first place that this measure was welcome but secondly, that it was an extraordinary departure from the normal Libera] Party or Country Party tradition relating to law and crime. I cannot quote him word for word, but the substance of what he said was that the traditional non-Labor attitude to this type of problem is to clamp down, to ensure that the law is enforced, to impose harsh penalties, and so on.
As I said, this type of legislation is to encourage research into the real problems of crime - why crime is committed and how best to deal with criminals. This is a departure from tradition. If I identified some initiative coining from the Opposition that I thought was worthwhile being a fairly generous person I would be able to recognise that it was worthwhile and say so. Of course, I cannot agree with all of the proposals put forward by the Opposition. Indeed, there are comparatively few with which I can agree. But when a desirable recommendation conies forward from the Opposition I would certainly do my best to agree with it if I thought it were in the best interests of the people.
I would have thought that the proper course to be taken by the honourable member for Kingston would be for him to say purely and simply: ‘There is a problem that has to be identified by the Government. lt is a problem that can be met by establishing the proper machinery. This legislation establishes that machinery and the Government is to be commended for introducing it.’ As I say, it is rather unfortunate that the honourable member for Kingston should have said that it is quite unique, quite unusual, for the LiberalCountry Party Government to embark upon a measure of this type. Some Opposition members seem to hold the unfortunate view that they have a prerogative or exclusive franchise on social reform measures - on those measures that deal with people in the community who are less fortunate than ourselves and with criminal reform which is the example before us tonight. I utterly reject that view. 1 think it is very unfortunate that the honourable member for Kingston should have put it forward.
The basic situation so far as this legislation is concerned is clear and everyone on this side of the House supports it. lt is that there is a considerable problem in relation to those who are involved in crime and in relation to the increase in crime, and that as affluence increases apparently so does the crime rate. These are the problems. They are very serious problems that go to the whole root of our society. The legislation is a substantial attempt to answer some of these questions. I have no hesitation in giving my wholehearted support to the legislation and to the very commendable spirit behind it.
– I together with my colleagues on this side of the House support the Bill. All responsible people throughout this country will applaud and support the measures contained in the Bill. I congratulate the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) for introducing it. It will certainly be supported by an overwhelming majority of those who are specially responsible in the various fields of crime detection, particuarly the police forces. This measure has the equal support of those who are charged with the ultimate responsibility of dealing with the offender following indictment. Here I am referring to the prison officer, the parole officer, the social welfare officer and those people who are charged with responsibility from the psychiatric aspect, namely doctors and nurses.
The one basic criticism to be levelled against this Bill is that it should have been placed on the statute book decades ago. The measures contained in the Bill are not new or revolutionary. To my knowledge, police forces, police associations, prison officers and prison officers’ associations throughout this country have pleaded with governments in relation to the necessity for a co-ordinating research body where information and statistics can be collated and, more importantly, where such information and statistics can be analysed in an endeavour to assess the reasons which cause and motivate crime. One must commend the setting up on a national basis of the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Criminal Research Council and the Criminal Research Fund.
It is beyond question that the cost of crime is enormous. I wholeheartedly support the Attorney-General in his statement that this cost must be reviewed not only from the aspect of loss of Government expenditure but also from the aspect of the tragic waste and loss of human resources. I would go further to state that the loss of human life could well be attributed to the fact that for too long too few have been charged with what has been and always will be the collective responsibility of the community as a whole. Dedicated men in this field have been and still are making great personal sacrifices to preserve the safety and security of the individual in society. The number of police officers, prison officers and others who have paid the supreme sacrifice has increased in recent years. Current figures clearly reveal a growth in the crime rate, and this sacrifice will increase rather than decrease despite the fact that we live in a so-called affluent society.
I do not intend to quote statistics because during the course of the debate several speakers have devoted quite a proportion of their time to this exercise, lt is beyond doubt that the rate of unsolved crime is increasing in all States as well as under the Commonwealth jurisdiction, but rehabilitation of offenders has not increased. It has decreased. A department of criminology alone will not solve or prevent crime. The same instrumentalities will be charged with the responsibility and the pevention and detection of crime will remain with the man or woman engaged on the job. But it is beyond question that this prevention and detection will be much more speedy with the aid of the knowhow passed on from this research body. Surely we are all aware of the need to improve this situation. The problem is: How should it be done?
I state categorically that the Australian Institute of Criminology will certainly help but surely it is obvious that there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. Before the benefits become tangible or rewarding obviously there will be a considerable gap in the time factor. But what is more obvious is that in the meantime the crime rate will continue to increase, the population will continue to increase and similarly the cost of crime will be inflated. If current law enforcement agencies are to continue at the current personnel strength their effectiveness will decrease tragically. In my view, this is the immediate problem. The Bill before us is geared to cope with the long term aspect. It will in no way cope with the current crisis.
There is not one police force in this country that is not in need of more men, there is not one police force that is not in need of better accommodation, and not one police force is not in need of more specialised equipment. In my view, this situation must be corrected now. Such police forces will not obtain or be in a position to retain suitable personnel unless and until they are granted reasonable promotional opportunities, better than average wages and, above all, working conditions that will encourage them to overlook the many disabilities associated with the work they have to perform. I am the first to admit (hat wages alone are not the only problem in relation to recruitment or the retention of personnel. Working conditions, morale and job satisfaction are also high on the list of needs, if the plug is to stop the present trend of resignations from all police forces. What is needed above all is that the Commonwealth Government must now grant greater financial assistance to the States to enable such police forces to have sufficient funds to overcome these problems.
Our society is becoming more complex with each passing day. Governments are finding it necessary to rely more and more on police forces for their administrative responsibilities. No better example of this can be seen than in the Commonwealth Government itself. Under its control is the Australian Capital Territory Police Force, the Commonwealth Police Force, the Northern Territory Police Force, the New Guinea and Papuan Police Force, the Narcotics Bureau, the Customs and Excise officers and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. AH of these bodies are either a police service or a type of police service and operate in many instances in all States of the Commonwealth. In addition to serving their own governments, the State police forces liaise with and assist a number of Commonwealth agencies. State police forces also conduct inquiries on behalf of the Commonwealth Government in such matters as pension inquiries, statistical reports and the like. Postal investigation officers are also assisted in many ways by the State police forces. So it can be seen that the Commonwealth Government has more than a passing interest in the need to raise standards in the various State services.
If the criminology research programme is to be successful the co-operation of all police forces is essential. If all police forces are assisted to achieve the standards they have set for themselves they will be able to provide a launching platform for this research project. In ray view research will no doubt reveal the motivation for criminal acts, the density and the areas of crime and indeed will lay down the guidelines for correction. But we will not know who the criminals are or who requires corrective treatment until the offender is detected. By all means give the police the benefit of a criminology research department but surely no-one in this chamber is so naive as to believe that this alone will be the answer to the crime problem. There is a need to provide accurate statistical information but there is little use in proving that crime has increased or that a particular type of offence has increased by 5 per cent if the police forces who are responsible for coping with the problem are inefficient or ill equipped.
In this debate honourable members have relied heavily upon and have quoted the findings of Mr D. Chappell, Mr P. R. Wilson and Sir Eric St Johnston. 1 think that there is one singular aspect of their reports. There is one common factor. It is the recommendation to upgrade the police with a view to providing efficient police departments educated and equipped in such a way that they properly can meet the demands made upon them in a modern society. This is where the real need lies and the establishment of such a research organisation is in my view supplementary to the real problem. The real answer to the crime problem lies basically in better police public relations. This can only be achieved by the police departments themselves. lt can be achieved in a very practical way by the police becoming more efficient and providing better services to the community, and by recognition of the importance of the administrative function of the force. The police forces should take steps to make this a process which is systematic, intelligent and articulate and one which anticipates social problems and adapts to meet them before a crisis situation arises.
What is needed above all is the recognition by this Government of its financial and social responsibilities, and of the importance of police and related agencies in an area which for far too long has been divorced from consideration, by both this Government and a large section of the community, although it is a very important link in the infrastructure of a well balanced social community. This measure will have the support of honourable members on both sides of this House. The funds which are to be appropriated lor criminology research are important but what 1 am endeavouring to suggest is that we ought not get our essential priorities mixed up. In my view, one measure complements the other. Criminal research is vital and crucial for efficiency and to bring about a decrease in the growing crime rate, but obviously if we increase the efficiency of the theoretical arm and do nothing to increase correspondingly the capacity of the practical arm to implement the measures contained in this Bill, then I seriously suggest that we have embarked upon an academic exercise.
It has been stated in this House and outside that the current structure, the current attitude of many executive officers and the current establishments that institutions are geared to cope with and to persevere with, are prejudicial to any change relating to law enforcement or to the creation of constructive corrective rehabilitation. In effect many institutions and agencies are operating on a 19th century concept, clinging to patterns, procedures and attitudes which are both regressive and oppressive and clearly outmoded. Above all they are self perpetuating insofar as crime is concerned. I for one do not disagree with this contention but I sincerely challenge the assumptions upon which it is based. In many cases the assumptions are based on effects and evade the struggle to grapple with direct causes. Prior to my election to this Parliament I had some experience in looking after the welfare of prison officers, social welfare officers and psychiatric nurses, particularly those charged with the care of people whom I might loosely term as criminal mental defectives.
It is all very well for members of Parliament or people outside this place to level criticism. Criticism is not confined to this House, but there has been ample reference in this place today to reports, surveys and statistics. Far too often I have heard people who have made inspections of these institutions bluntly state that all is wrong, and that if this were done or if that were done all would be resolved. For far too long people who have executive responsibilities in this field have been sickened by the repeated catchcry: ‘We agree with the proposals and steps will be taken to implement them as soon as finance is available’. The operative section in that sentence clearly is ‘as soon as finance is available’. In my experience in the past decade there have been dramatic changes in these institutions, but not one executive officer, whether he was a police commissioner, a comptroller of prisons, a director of mental services or a director of social welfare, has to my knowledge ever stated that he was satisfied with the existing situation. Anyone who takes the time to study police commissioners’ annual reports will find ample testimony to this effect. All have persistently and consistently pressed for constructive and much needed reform.
The men and women employed in these controlling departments are fully conscious of the need for better facilities and equipment and for modern buildings. They are constantly endeavouring to reorganise and carry out reform. But tragically this matter is often shuffled into a ministerial pigeonhole because these areas rarely, if ever, attract public support or votes. The public is less likely to complain if tax revenue is spent on better roads, water and sewerage and better education. An entirely different approach is adopted when money is required for a complete review of penal reform or social welfare corrective agencies. Let me state a couple of instances of this.
In my State of South Australia dramatic changes have taken place in these agencies and institutions and they have come about only because of the action of Labor governments in that State since 1965. Until this year the women’s prison in South Australia was situated in the middle of the Adelaide Gaol which was built 2 years after the State was colonised. It has been modified slightly since that time. Women were incarcerated in that place without segregation. In other words, a female prisoner on an indictable charge such as murder would be placed in the same section as a. female prisoner on a charge of petty larceny. It needs little imagination to visualise the problems which this situation created for the prisoners and, more importantly, for the staff. Every executive officer and head of department year after year made representations to the Government about the appalling conditions arid the crying necessity for a change because the situation was intolerable for both the staff and the inmates. It took about 15 years before the Government decided there was something ‘ wrong with that system. A similar situation existed in a criminal mental defective ward where the staff repeatedly, year after year, appealed for additional staff and better buildings. An officer almost lost his life before steps were taken to increase the staff and modify the buildings. There has been a constant struggle by officers in the departments to induce governments to bring about these changes.
One could recite incident after . incident, some tragic and others not so tragic. Ali these things can be sheeted home squarely to the fact that in almost every case these situations and the consequent human suffering could have been avoided had there been adequate staff, equipment and buildings. Their efforts to achieve much of what this Bill is geared to achieve will be doomed to failure. It will be impossible to achieve what they seek unless and until the agencies which will have the ultimate responsibility to put theory into practice are given the finance to update and upgrade the facilities, thereby instituting the reforms necessary not only to meet and decrease the ever-rising crime rate but also to ensure that those who place themselves outside the arm of the law and those who are entrusted with the responsibility of both custody and rehabilitation are given the equipment to do so. Bluntly, one complements the other; one is rendered useless without the other. While I support the Bill, I remind the Mouse that, in the light of what I have said, this Bill goes only part of the way towards solving this national problem or this national crisis which for too long the Government and the community at large have treated with appalling apathy and neglect.
– The opening comment of the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) in his second reading speech was:
The purpose of this Bil] is to establish facilities on a national level .for the conduct of research into crime and for the training of persons engaged in the prevention and control of criminal behaviour.
I would urge that, when such facilities are provided, they will be applied in a special way to dealing, on a national basis, with the most unspeakable of all criminals. I refer to the monster who organises the distribution of drugs, the ‘unhuman’ who reaps enormous profits and who introduces to this nation the most reliable of all degenerating factors - the hard drug. Not only is he a murderer but also he is guilty of the worst type of mass treason to this wonderful country.
I refer now to some statistics, instances and experiences in the United States of America. 1 state clearly that I do this not on the basis that the United States of America is the only country which is subjected to an intense problem in relation to the distribution of hard and other drugs but because it is interesting to note the statistics of drug trafficking in the United States, lt is estimated that in the 1940-45 period there were 20,000 addicts. In the 1950s there were 60,000 addicts. Currently there are 120,000 to 150,000 so addicted. It is interesting to note that narcotic addiction used to be a disease of Caucasians and Chinese, many in the older age groups. At present only 30 per cent of all addicts in the United States of America are Caucasians or Chinese. Heroin abuse is primarily a disease of repressed minorities: 50.4 per cent of the users are Negro, 13.6 per cent are Puerto Rican and 5.4 per cent are Mexican. Half the known addicts are under the age of 30 and growing numbers are under the age of 20. Much more recently there has been a veritable epidemic of heroin abuse in those aged 16 years and under. It is interesting to note that there is an increasing use of heroin by affluent white youngsters, both in major cities and in suburbia. One might well ask why this latter group of young privileged Americans should become so addicted. This is not surprising when one considers that wealth and affluence produce, to a large extent, a sensate society.
Sir Thomas Brown, when dealing with this social problem, stated that the race of delight is short. He pointed out that, to maintain the pleasure principle, one thrill must replace another in unceasing succession. It is inevitable that, where drugs become freely available, they will form an intrinsic part of the search for kicks or, as it is more often regarded, the ‘cult of experience’. Heroin gives a feeling of pleasurable lassitude and relaxation. Cocaine gives sexual stimulation. Tranquillisers and sedatives frequently produce a feeling of calm and serenity. Amphetamines increase awareness of a variety of individual physical sensations and, of course, the old LSD severs the norma] barriers to simultaneous perception permitting the mind to be bombarded with sensory stimuli. So it is obvious that with this trend these young people have, with rapidity, succumbed to this cult of experience.
In undertaking this avenue of research our criminologists, I think, should cooperate closely with our sociologists in order to restore the family unit both in congested areas and in the affluent suburban areas of this country. We see the beginnings of the deterioration of the family, and this could well explain many of the ills of our society for here, perhaps, is the primary tragedy of the 20th century. I have referred to Mr Big in the narcotic trade - the profit maker who operates no doubt in an aura of respectability. It is interesting to note that his methods of distribution have somewhat changed. The old concept of the venal purveyor of drugs waiting outside the school yard to entice some unsuspecting youngsters into the ravages of drug taking is today, and has been for quite some time, a totally incorrect concept. Today many factors conspire to introduce these youngsters to drug taking. It is usually the drug user who makes other drug users.
The motion picture industry in its present degenerate condition has played its part. Two recent motion pictures entitled The Love Ins’ and ‘The Trip’ have exploited the drug taking theme. In the United States of America there are in addition sleazy underground newspapers devoted to protests, attacks on law enforcement agencies and the promotion of the use of psychedelic drugs, especially marihuana and LSD. Some of these are the Berkeley Barb’, the ‘Los Angeles Free Press’, the ‘East Village Other’ and the Oracle’, to mention just a few of them. We have to add to this the sick condition of modern song writers. It is interesting to note that at one point in 1967 a survey of the top 40 pop records disclosed that 16 of them contained a positive drug message. To any of the hip group the words ‘my senses have been stripped’ in Bob Dylan’s song “The Tambourine Man’ are an obvious drug reference. Another obvious contribution is ‘Smoke Rings of my Mind’. Then, of course, we have the appalling situation where members of such groups as The Rolling Stones and the Beatles frankly admit drug taking. Of course, we all know that the Beatles have been awarded M.B.E.s. It is all very impressive.
It is impossible to determine what influence these people have on our youngsters. So these are the pressures that have
to be analysed and the problems that have to be tackled by our criminologists in their research work. Their task will not be assisted by those who, with ever-increasing intensity, will agitate for legalising the socalled soft drugs, such as marihuana. Before I deal with this matter of marihuana, I should like to look at the statistics regarding drug offences in Australia. They are rather startling. There were 82 offences in 1964, 125 offences in 1965, 276 offences in 1966, 233 offences in 1967, 480 offences in 1968 and 1,081 offences in 1969. Honourable members will note that there were 82 known offences in 1964 and 1,081 offences in 1969. In other words, in a period of 6 years there was an increase of approximately 1,000 offences - from the small figure of 82 to 1,081. These were the known offenders. The number of offenders who are unknown would probably have increased by a ratio commensurate with the increase in known offenders. Let us look at the matter of marihuana. I refer to the comments of Mr Bob Bartlett, an American who has founded 7 teenage treatment establishments in Philadelphia where teenagers who have become addicted to drugs are treated. Mr Bartlett, a man of tremendous experience, said:
The tragedy in the United States is that those who could have made a difference pretended there wasn’t a problem until it was too late. Children as young as 10 and 11, marihuana and heroin addicts, went to the Philadelphia centres. Drug taking has reached epidemic proportions but in the last eight months there has been a reevaluation among the young people. So many kids have died from overdoses.
Now here is the crunch:
There’s a lot of pressure in the US to legalise marihuana but the outspoken ones know nothing about the drug.
Mr Bartlett said that the pressure for legalisation came mainly from people with leftist leanings. We do not have to be told that. People who were outspoken on the Vietnam war and social issues also were outspoken on marihuana. Mr Bartlett said that there was a drug problem in Sydney. He said:
Gls I talked to in Sydney said it was as easy to get marihuana there as in Saigon.
Let me now quote some comments by no less worthy a person than Dr Wesley Hall, the President-elect of the American Medical Association. This might be hurting some members of the Opposition who are trying to interject. Apparently they go along with the legalising of marihuana and I am hurting their sensitivities. I cannot help that. Dr Hall said that marihuana smoking could cause impotence and birth defects. He told a news conference that the American Medical Association’s study would show a higher incidence of impotence among marihuana smoking males and an unusual number of birth defects and mental deficiencies in the babies of marihuana smoking mothers. He predicted that when the report was released the use of marihuana would decline. Dr Hall said:
We know marihuana is a dangerous drug. For instance, the report will show that a15 or 16- year-old girl who has smoked marihuana for a few years has a much higher chance of having a baby with birth defects and mental deficiencies.
If they are not 2 of the greatest indictments of marihuana, 1 do not know what further evidence is required. If this research is to be done on a highly organised basis, as this very excellent Bill indicates it will be, one of the most urgent tasks that should be undertaken by this group of criminologists isto have a very close look at the incidence of drug taking in Australia and to deal ruthlessly with those who are responsible for the wholesale distribution of hard drugs in this country. No lesser penalty should be provided in such cases than that which would apply in the case of a capital offence. Even then we would be letting them off lightly in this country where the maximum penalty for a capital offence is life imprisonment. These people are responsible for the slow deaths of so many people who start off innocently and soon become gripped by this terrible drug scourge. These offenders should be shown no mercy. It is the responsibility of the Government to see that one of the major matters discussed by the group of criminologists is the incidence of drug abuse in this country.
– in reply - This has been one occasion when the House has engaged in a thoroughly useful, non-partisan discussion of some great social problems. There have been many notable and, to my mind, altogether valuable contributions to the debate. I have listened to those contributions - those made by the honourable members for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), Hawker (Mr Jacobi) and Kennedy (Mr Katter) and others. IfI do not mention them all in my reply please do not let it be thought that I deny their value. They will make good reading for the future. Sometimes people are inclined to think that politicians are hard boiled characters without very much social conscience. I think it has been established in this House tonight that many of us do have a keen social conscience.
I have been very warmed by the generous support that has been given to this measure, which I believe to be a very important one. The honourable member for Hawker said, quite rightly, that this measure is not a panacea; that it is not going to cure the problem. Of course it is not. The problem of crime in a community is a perennial one. It will never be solved completely. We can only try to do our best - sometimes groping, but always trying to do our best - to tackle the problem. We cannot do that unless we recognise and know more about the causes of the problem. That is what this Bill is all about. I thank those honourable members who have taken part in the debate. Their suggestions will not go unheeded by me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
The functions of the Institute are - (a)to conduct such criminological research as is approved by the Board;
– I move the following amendment:
After paragraph (a) insert the following paragraph: (aa) to conduct such criminological research as is referred to it by either House of the Parliament or by the Parliament of any State;’.
The purpose of the amendment is to strengthen the clause. The reason for it is pretty obvious from the debate that has already ensued. As this Parliament is now, for the first time, taking an interest in this field and allocating substantial funds, and because the Institute will be solely the province of the Commonwealth, we believe that for a start the Parliament of the Commonwealth should have the opportunity to suggest that research be undertaken at a level that it determines. At the moment we are subservient to the Board of the Institute in indicating what research will be done. We do not think that is good enough.
In the Houses of this Parliament are representatives of the whole of Australia; those representatives should have the right to submit to the Institute a section of research that they believe is paramount. For example, it would be appropriate to suggest immediate research into the needs of the States for moneys to establish better facilities perhaps in educational research and the rehabilitation of prisoners. This would be well worth while and could easily be done, but it would perhaps never be done if it were left to the initiative of the Institute itself of its own good will.
Admittedly we can make pleas to the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) but if the citizens of this nation feel that an effort should be made in some particular field then it should be made. The State governments themselves readily admit that they are deficient in this field and need more resources for research, but if this research were done and these factors were established this Parliament would be the first to make the necessary funds available, lt could readily be done, and it is for that reason that the Opposition feels that it is essential to have research conducted in all fields and not have the Parliament ignored to the extent that we would not be able to initiate any aspect of research because we did not have this power under the terms of clause 6. For that reason I have moved the amendment.
– I support the amendment and endorse the points which have been made. I wish to raise some questions in relation to clause 6 which I hope the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) will be good enough to answer. Clause 6 (a) deals with the Board, which seems to have a key role in the whole structure of the various units which will be developed as a result of this Bill. I am particularly keen to know what feelings he has about this clause. I have no doubt that he cannot indicate now who will sit on the Board, but I would like to know what sort of qualifications the Government will be looking for in those persons it wishes to appoint. We would want information at this level because of the key function of the Board. It seems to me that the Board will have an overseeing and determining - or if not a determining then a very influential - role not only on the Institute but also on the Council. Will it consist of people with critical, evaluative and creative minds, people who are skilled in the natural and social sciences? Will the Government appoint people who have these skills, people such as sociologists, psychologists and criminologists, or will the AttorneyGeneral and his State colleagues rely largely on people who are already representatives of the Executive? 1 mentioned in my speech on the second reading that I have not only reservations but also some fears about putting people representing the Executive onto this body. If we are to appoint people who have not had some sort of training or contact with the liberal arts and humanities there is a very real possibility we will get people with closed minds who will perpetuate the mistakes of the past - the good old practical man - and frankly at this stage in our civilisation the good old practical man is not good enough. We are living in a technological age. Things change quickly, lt is regrettable that technology and science have spilt into this area of justice in such a minute sort of way. I also wish to raise a question in relation to the sub-section which will provide that certain research will be carried out. To what extent will the sciences and technology be involved? Will a high-powered section involved in research, the sciences and technology appropriate for justice services be developed within the Institute?
Will the Government take every possible step to have the results of research published and made available to the public? We have too many instances where very important social research is conducted by highly skilled people in the Commonwealth Public Service and the results are suppressed. No-one can have anything but the highest respect for our public servants and their qualifications in various fields. This is true in the field of health and welfare where people carry out very fine research work, but because the results of the research work could be offensive or embarrassing to somebody or to the Government they are suppressed. We should be big enough in our government and mature enough in our system of democracy to have reached the stage where, if it is not possible to afford expensive but needed services in the community without increasing taxes, we can confidently explain why it is necessary to raise taxes, why taxes or some other form of income raising will have to be accepted so that we can institute these services. We cannot go on kidding the public that they can live on pie from the sky. It will not work. Australia has many big social challenges ahead of it. We have to accept responsibilities if we want these things, and we jolly well have to pay for them. We ought to explain that principle to the public. 1 like the practice in Britain where reports are published not only on various aspects of health and welfare services but also on the broad span of public responsibility. The public are encouraged to involve themselves in debate and recommendations on what adjustments should be introduced into the proposals. From what I can see the British Government tends to refine the proposals according to its judgment as to what is desirable. I am especially concerned that in this area important research results may be suppressed because they represent challenges to fundamental values and to the fundamental structure and relations of our society. I believe that our problems are coming from excessive investment in materialistic values. There is altogether too much evidence that material acquisition is being extolled as the purpose of life, as the solvent of our deepest anxieties, and the means by which we may satisfy our aspirations. In our society the possession of inanimate, material property receives consideration elevated above the needs and values of human beings. I frequently think that this is where a lot of the motivation for crime is coming from.
The next question I ask is in relation to clause 6 (c). Who will train these persons in criminological research and what will their qualifications be? If I recollect correctly the seminars will be conducted for higher administrative personnel. They will not be conducted for the lower echelon people. In any event, who will conduct the training? I hope there will be a good injection of people from outside the traditional services maintained by our systems of justice and law enforcement, because we need this outside experience. We need to develop open, tolerant minds especially in our law enforcement operators. I do not say this in any denigrating sense at all because I served in a police force for nearly 9 years. I want into the police force with a very moderate standard of education, but having since matriculated and gained a degree in economics, I know how study opens one’s mind.
Believe me there is a need for much more investment in education for these people. For instance on 12th June last year in an article in the ‘Australian’ the Queensland Police Commissioner is reported to have stated that of the 44 per cent in his police force who were of primary school standard only half had completed primary school. At present there are 7 years of primary school in Queensland, starting at the age of 5. This is not to say that because a man has had only this standard of education we should automatically exclude him as one who has not the necessary qualities to be a flexible, tolerant, understanding and perceptive policeman. He may well have these qualities but he will be improved immeasurably if we can develop training schemes and use people who have open minds and who will pass on liberal, questioning, evaluating and creative values about our society and the people in it. If the training does not reach the lower echelons, at least I hope it will reach higher people who will filter these values down.
In regard to clause 6 (d), I have some concern that there might be some overlapping and that the Institute may run into some conflict with the work which the Council is going to do with its research fund. I commend the Minister for the many points which he made in his second reading speech and draw his attention to this statement:
The primary task of the . Criminology Research Council will be to assess needs in the field of criminology research and to allocate moneys from the Fund to specific research projects in universities and governmental institutions.
Clause 6 (d) states:
The functions of the Institute are -
I have some slight misgivings that the Minister may run into trouble. I would certainly feel no sense of celebration if this happened because this is an important project, in spite of its defects. He may run into trouble in that the Council could very well become State orientated and the Institute could become federally orientated. There may be some sort of clash, competition or overlap. I hope that a safeguard or two against this has been built into the legislation. Finally, I go back to the most important point that I think the Board members should be predominantly independent - from outside of the established executive.
– I should first say that while I appreciate that the motives which have led the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) to move his amendment to clause 6 are worthy and disinterested, I cannot accept the amendment. I should like to explain briefly why I take that view. The purpose of the amendment is to make it one of the functions of the Institute that it shoud conduct any criminological research that may be referred to it by either House of this Parliament or by the Parliament of a State. In short, without any disrepsect, I would answer the case put by the honourable member by saying that if one has referred to the detailed provisions of this Bill the amendment might fairly be thought to be in truth unnecessary. 1 say that for these reasons: The Board of Management of the Institute will be composed of persons equally representative of Commonwealth and State interests. If one looks at clause 9 of the Bill one finds that it is proposed that the Board of Management of the Institute Shall be composed of 3 members appointed by the AttorneyGeneral and 3 members appointed by the Criminology Research Council. It is clear enough, I would think, that those members of the Board who are appointed by the Attorney-General will be broadly representative of the national interest. I do not use the expression ‘the national interest’ in any sense of denigrating the State interests. But the Commonwealth will have 3 people appointed to the Board by the AttorneyGeneral of the day. The other 3 members, the total membership being 6, will be appointed to the Board by the Criminology
Research Council. The Criminology Research Council is, as is the Australian Institute of Criminology, a body corporate, and the point to be noted about the Criminology Research Council, in the context of the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, is that the members of the Criminology Research Council represent very preponderantly State interests. This is all part of an attempt to achieve a fair balance between the interests of all governments in Australia, including of course the national Government.
The Criminology Research Council will consist of 7 members, of whom only one will be a Commonwealth appointee. The other 6 members of this 7 member Council will be representative of the respective States. The point I want to make in reply to the honourable member for KingsfordSmith is simply that the amendment may be thought to be unnecessary when it is borne in mind that the people on the Board of Management of the Institute will represent fairly in equal part the viewpoints that may come up from the parliamentary institutions of the States. Having said that, I think there is fair ground to suggest that on reflection the proposed amendment may not be regarded as necessary.
We are setting up the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Criminology Research Council as independent or substantially independent bodies corporate. Of course, there is an element of ministerial control over the expenditure of funds. That is appropriate because the expenditure will be of public funds. These bodies corporate are being established to exercise important statutory functions in a broadly autonomous way. One might be pardoned for fearing that if projects are to be fed into the work of the Institute or proposed for work by the Institute by State parliaments upon terms that those projects must be considered, sufficient balance may not be exercised in relation to the disposition of the Institute’s resources.
The Bill contains ample machinery for views that may be held by State governments or State parliaments to be put before the board of management of the Institute through the State representatives on the board. I have stated briefly why I am not disposed to accept the proposed amendment although, as I have said, I fully appreciate the motives with which it has been moved. 1 should also say that the task - and it has been a pleasurable task - of formulating these proposals in legislative form, has been a fairly prolonged one and has depended on very close consultation with the States. It also has depended, as it properly should, upon obtaining the agreement of the States to every detail of the Bill. For that reason, even if I otherwise agreed with the proposed amendment, I would feel somewhat fettered in agreeing to accept it on the floor of the House. I put that as a minor point but I am sure that the honourable member for KingsfordSmith will appreciate it. 1 come now to answer the matters raised by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). He asked me what I would have in mind in appointing members of the board of management of the Institute who will be representative of the national interest, I have no fixed ideas on this subject. Of course, the honourable member rightly pointed out that even if I had any firm ideas on the identity of the people I might appoint, I could not tell the House tonight. In fact, I have no inflexible or fixed ideas on the subject. My broad aim would be- - and I think this will be satisfactory to the honourable member for Oxley - insofar as I have any choice, and I have the choice of appointing 3 members of the board, to appoint people who, by their qualifications and interests, would provide a spread or diversity of talents to the work of the Institute. I do not think I can usefully add to that at the moment. I would not have a predilection in favour of any person.
– You would be prepared to go outside of the executive?
– I would certainly think so, but I do not see myself necessarily appointing 3 public servants. I have a great admiration for public servants, as would the honourable member, but I should have thought that one would look for a spread of talents amongst the members. The honourable member next asked me what would be the position concerning the publication of the research work of the Institute. Perhaps I can best answer that question in this way: Clause 6 of the Bill really covers that subject, I think, pretty ade- quetely First of all, the functions of the Institute - and it is broadly speaking an autonomous body - are amongst others to communicate to the Commonwealth and the States the result of research conducted by the Institute. That comes under clause 6(b).
Clause 6 (h), which is the more important clause in this connection, states that it is one of the functions to publish such material, resulting from or connected with the performance of its functions, as is approved by the Board. The point I want to make is that I or the Attorney-General of the day will have no power, as I see it, under the Bill as it is framed to hold up a hand and say: ‘You will not publish this and you will not publish that’. In relation to the publication of research material the Board of Management of the Institute which is the policy directing part of the Institute, like the board of directors of a company, will have its own free hand. There are its statutory functions spelt out in very clear language. I would certainly hope that the policy of the Board of Management of the Institute from time to time would be to throw light on matters it investigates by giving the utmost publicity to the publication of research material because the whole object of this legislative exercise is to throw light on dark places. The next point that was raised by the honourable member for Oxley concerns clause 6 (c). All I would say is that there is in clause 6 (c) a very wide charter to the Institute, acting by its Board of Management, to conduct seminars and courses of training or instruction for the benefit of a wide classification of. people engaged in law enforcement, crime prevention and penal treatment.
– I was thinking more of the lecturers and so on who conduct seminars.
– I would imagine that the whole policy of this Bill - and it would appear clearly so to any Board of Management - is to get the best brains available to give these courses. I am not, nor will my successor whoever he may be and whenever it may be . . .
– Why do you say that?
– I am always cautious, unlike the honourable member. I would emphasise that it will not be the AttorneyGeneral of the day - this is what I was coming to when the honourable member for Reid interrupted me - who will be dictating, who will be the lecturers and what will be the course. This is a function committed to the Institute.
– You will get a sentiment out of Parliament.
– I am giving the rights sentiment or what the honourable member might regard as the right sentiment. I do not think we are very far apart on this. The other matter raised by ‘.he honourable member for Oxley concerned the Criminology Research Council. He expressed a misgiving that there might be some collision between the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Criminology Research Council. I do not think this will happen in a real world, lt is necessary in a complicated legislative exercise of this sort to balance the respective and proper interests of the Stales and the Commonwealth; and be it remembered that the Australian Institute of Criminology will provide the working secretariat for the Criminology Research Council. I do not see in this context much room for misgiving about colliding views on colliding functions. 1 strongly believe that in a practical way it will work out pretty satisfactorily.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Powers of Institute).
– I believe that clause 7 is defective in that it does not provide an additional power which would allow the Institute of Criminology to allocate financial assistance to the States for capital and recurrent expenditure on whatever conditions the Government thinks are, as a general policy guideline, nesessary to improve and expand the law enforcement, court, penal, parole and probation systems. I am not going to go into the reasons as they were mentioned earlier, except to give one illustration.
When I was in Chicago last year I saw the excellent communications centre at the police headquarters. I understand that it is possible to have a police unit at the scene of an urgent call within 3 minutes of the receipt of a call. A fairly complex communicational arrangement is involved. A computer service is hooked up with the communications room as an extension of this system. When descriptions of suspects or reports of suspected stolen cars and so on come in this information can be quickly transmitted to the computer room, which makes the appropriate responses, and within a matter of minutes these responses are passed on to investigating police. This sort of operation costs millions of dollars. The communications service alone cost over S2m. This is a lot of money for the State governments to allocate in a lump sum in a year or so for these services, yet they seem to be highly essential.
A terribly brutal murder of 2 little girls occurred in Townsville last year. The police had certain descriptions of a somewhat vague nature to work on. In an attempt to track down possible suspects the modus operandi section in Brisbane had to work over very long periods on weekends sorting out the files manually. Good communications and good computer services would impove the efficiency of our police forces tremendously. To wind up this point I quote again from the document entitled The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society’, which states:
There appears to be a correlation between crime solution and the time il takes for patrol officers to respond to a call. The average response time in cases in which arrests were made was 4.1 minutes; in cases in which arrests were not made it was 6.3 minutes. The Los Angeles study further shows that almost 36 per cent of all arrests were made within one half hour of the commission of the crime; more than 48 per cent were made within 2 hours.
That seems to be fairly convincing evidence of the advantages of good communications. Weighing up the social cost as well as the economic cost of crime, it seems to me that the case is overwhelmingly in favour of a greater public investment in these sorts of things. Many of these things will be a once only investment. Once they are out of the way we will find that the efficiency of our law enforcement agencies and the ancillary services will be tremendously improved. I put this proposition to the Minister in the hope that he will consider it. ft is possible that there will be in the future some development of this idea of direct financial assistance by the Commonwealth Government to the States in much the same way as there is in the United States of America with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Agency.
– Mr Chairman, I appreciate the point that was raised by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), but I do not agree that clause 7 of the Bill is deficient in that it does not give the Australian Institute of Criminology power to allocate money to the States for the purpose of crime prevention and law enforcement. I think that it would be inappropriate to confer such a function or power on the Institute. If money is to be given by the Commonwealth to the States for purposes such as the honourable member for Oxley suggested the proper way to do it would be by way of grants under section 96 of the Constitution and not by giving a lump sum to an institute which is charged with the task of research and giving that institute carte blanche to disburse this public money among the State agencies. I think that it may be said that some States, if not all States, might not altogether welcome the idea which has emanated from the Opposition tonight that specific grants should be made to the States for crime prevention or law enforcement purposes. I am not seeking to be dogmatic about this. A lot of the States, if not all of them, would say: ‘We would prefer to have funds made available to us in a general way, without strings, so that we may disburse them as we think, allocating our own priorities’. I do not want to get into a philosophical argument on this question. I am only emphasising a point.
– I disagree on that point.
– This is a point on which people may be entitled to disagree. I am only speculating. My point is that it would be altogether inappropropriate to confer upon the Institute, which is primarily a research body, power to disburse large sums of Commonwealth money for purposes other than research. If the money is to be made available to the States for specific purposes such as the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) indicated, there is another and better way of doing it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Constitution of the Board).
– I would like to refer to the composition of the Board of Management of the Institute of Criminology. I would dearly like to be able to afford to buy a few thousand copies of the Hansard record of today’s proceedings to give to members of the Liberal Party in Queensland because, after reading it, they would know truly from the speeches of Opposition members what centralism is all about. The Opposition’s policy of federal intervention has been made clear in the speeches of various members opposite tonight. I realise that in the Committee stage of the Bill I am somewhat restricted in what I can address myself to, but in spite of the earlier comments of the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) that the States had agreed with the Bill and on the composition of the various bodies, I wish to register a very strong protest not only at the content of the Bill but also at the way the States have been prepared to step down and hand over their rights to the Commonwealth.
Earlier, the Attorney-General said that the proceedings tonight would make good reading for the future, and would indicate that honourable members did indeed have hearts. I would regard the report of tonight’s proceedings more as a book which could be titled: ‘Paddy’s Day, 1971- Advice from the Child of Federation to the States’. Honourable members from both sides of the House, including the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen), have indulged in fatherly advice to the States. I do not understand why the Ministers representing their various States in the negotiations on the composition of the Institute so readily agreed to allow the Commonwealth Government to take over 3 of the 6 positions of management and to give the Commonwealth the casting vote. I am a humane man who would like to see ali crimes solved and I do not subscribe to a drug society. I regard that as dangerous. But I believe that the matters with which the Bill is concerned are very much the province of the States. Here the States have surrendered their rights to the Commonwealth; yet, almost in the same breath tomorrow, they will be jumping up and down claiming that the rights of the States are being whittled away.
I am appalled at the suggestion made by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) that if any person in this nation has earned income by illegal means, and has declared that income in his income tax return, that information should be turned over to the police, whether they be Commonwealth or
State. As a liberal - 1 use a small ‘1’ - I defend the right of the individual to confide his private information to the Treasury without the need for any suggestion along those lines from a Labor member. Not one of them has spoken against the suggestion so 1 can only assume that they agree that a private matter such as this should become police property.
– I am sure the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) will not convict me of discourtesy if I reply to him briefly. His complaint is that the States have given away too much in this exercise. Of course he is entitled to his view, but in my short experience I have never known the States to be particularly slow in asserting their rights or pursuing their interests. The legislation before the House represents a full measure of agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, an agreement arrived at in the course of prolonged and delicate negotiations which were conducted with goodwill on all sides. The honourable member is entitled to his view but I do not feel any sense of guilt.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
– I should like to ask 2 questions in a most uncharacteristic way in that they will be very shortly stated. They relate to clauses 28 and 46(1.). I refer first to clause 28. What amount of money will be budgeted for the Institute? That does not seem to have been stated but I believe that it would have to be a reasonable amount. Mr McGeechan, Commissioner of Corrective Services in New South Wales, is talking about $IOm. I am not sure how far he wants us to go or what he wants that amount to cover. I gather that it will cover research and experimental work in prison reform. 1 turn now to clause 46(1.). The allocation that the Federal Government is making to the Council is $50,000. There does not seem to be any mathematical formula in relation to the amounts for which the States or any other body will be committed. The next point is that $50,000 is a grain of salt compared with the amounts of money that the Commonwealth is throwing around in other areas. For the promotion of road safety practices, which is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Department of Shipping and Transport, $350,000 has been provided for the year. Some $500,000, funded by the Department of Customs and Excise, has been provided for the promotion of drug education. [ should imagine that the work of the Council would be much more important than drug education, important as that is, because the drug problem will be only a small part of the overall problem that this organisation will have to face. The Commonwealth grant to the National Health and Medical Research Council totals $l.8m, and the sum of $250,000 has been allocated for advanced education research for the 1967-69 triennium. In addition, S250.000 has been provided for research and development in education, and SI 2.5m has been allocated to the Australian Research Grants Committee for the 1970- 72 triennium. Although the concept seems to be fairly commendable so far as finance is concerned, I believe that the organisations have been given short weight and that they will not run very far in this kind of situation.
– The position in relation to clause 46.(1.) of the Bill, to which the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) referred, is that the Commonwealth is providing $50,000 for the Criminology Research Fund. The arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States is that that $50,000 will be matched by the States in accordance with the arrangements that they are making, or have made, between themselves. So the total will be $100,000. I regret that I am not able to inform the honourable member of the sum which will be appropriated for the activities of the Australian Institute of Criminology. I should think that the question would be better directed to the Treasurer (Mr Bury). I am very interested in this proposal and I appreciate the need to avoid a pinch-penny approach, but after all there are problems and the final amount will be decided not by me alone but by the Government.
Remainder of Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Hughes) - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Hughes) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, yesterday the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) introduced in this House the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill which further restricts-
-Order! If the honourable member-
– 1 am well aware of the Standing Orders, Mr Speaker, and 1 will only mention the introduction of that Bill in passing. That Bill represents a further restriction on persons to demonstrate openly within our community. Tonight I want to draw to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral the fact that scant attention has been given to attacks on political leaders in this country. Political leaders have been attacked from time to time. It seems that those who have been attacked in an extremely violent manner have been those on this side of the Parliament who are regarded ideologically as being to the left. As you know, Mr Speaker, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) was attacked outside the Mosman Town Hall and the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) was attacked in his home. The last victim of a serious attack was Councillor Arthur Gietzelt who has been president of the Sutherland Shire Council for 8 years. He is a distinguished man in public life and he holds an executive position in the New South Wales Local Government Association. He is also a senator-elect for the State of New South Wales for the next 6 years. About 2.20 a.m. on Sunday, 7th March, a bomb consisting on some IS to 16 sticks of gelignite, according to the investigating police in New South Wales, was placed near the doorway or on the top step of Councillor Gietzelt’s residence. His home is a brick building and luckily for him the bomb was placed against what was probably the most solid part of the house. Had the bomb been placed 3 ft to 4 ft further to the north I am sure that someone would have been killed, because Councillor Gietzelt and his wife were sleeping within a few feet of this point.
To my knowledge the Commonwealth security forces have not even interviewed people or made inquiries about the attacks on the honourable member for Lalor and Councillor Gietzelt. As far as I know the person who made the attack on the honourable member for Lalor is still free. Of course, great problems are involved in the case of Councillor Gietzelt. One does not really know the motive of the people who attacked Councillor Gietzelt. One does not know why they attacked him. One does not even know whether he was mistaken for his brother Ray who is the Federal Secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers Union and a member of the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Ray Gietzelt is more prominent in politics; in fact he has had more threats on his life of late than has Councillor Gietzelt. Councillor Gietzelt has had only one threat on his life in the last 12 months. Be that as it may, the bomb was placed outside his home.
I would like to know what is wrong with the Attorney-General and the Commonwealth security police. I believe that at least they should make some inquiries when an attack is made upon a political leader. After all, a political leader of the right representing the Government may be attacked. They seem to be more concerned about youths who want to demonstrate publicly, openly and honestly to express themselves in their own democratic procedure. To say that we need more legislation to curb these people is just utter rubbish. Recently in a court in New South Wales which I attended the magistrate said:
He went on to say:
This very often surprises people who believe their school history books. Nonetheless that is the legal situation.
There is no freedom of assembly or speech.
This is the position faced by people who want to demonstrate publicly in a democratic and open way against, in most cases, the war in Vietnam. The Commonwealth Government seems to be greatly concerned to curb and control this sector of the community and make it conform. Even though the war in Vietnam has dragged on people have agitated, although they do not seem to have made any impression on the stupidity - if I may use that term - of both this Administration and the Administration of the United States of America. The protest movements are disintegrating because of frustration. If one reads what has been said by serious students of the protest movement in the United States one sees that there is a greater fear about what will happen when the protests die. Over the years the extreme right has used either assassination or explosive devices to exterminate its political opponents, but the stage has been reached where impatient youths of the left, because of their disgust for law and order, may use explosives against governments. This is the fear in the United States at present.
I have spoken with the visiting bishop who was here and who has spoken about South Africa and the South African protest. He has been a very active member of the peace movement ‘in the United States and he, among others, is greatly concerned about developments that may occur in the peace movement in the United States and here also. There should be greater depth of consideration by the Government to reasons why people use violence to try to exterminate their political opponents or people who do not agree with them. In the face of these extreme attitudes the Government should, instead of increasing fines for breaches of law and order, do its homework to see why this happens.
– The honourable member should read up on this. We are reducing the fines.
– It is about time that the Attorney-General took action in his Department to ascertain why it has not checked the details of the Gietzelt affair or become involved in that. The Department should make some inquiries to find out why Mr Gietzelt was bombed and to disclose why these extreme elements of the right want to attack another political leader. I ask the Attorney-General to keep in mind what I have said. So far the threats have been by extremists of the right against the left. I remind the honourable member that tomorrow he could be one who is threatened. I do not want to see this happen and I think it is a stupid way to solve problems.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Last evening I had been prepared to speak on the question of the maiden performance by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) as the new leader of the country and to mention the incredible reaction of the Sydney Press. However, just prior to my turn to speak, the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), made a bitter attack on a friend of mine, Bishop Crowther, because of his recent outspoken criticism of apartheid and the proposed cricket and rugby tours of Australia by the South African teams. He said that Bishop Crowther had shown a complete lack of appreciation of the total situation’. Bishop Crowther is a former Anglican Bishop of Kimberley and is at present Assistant Bishop of California and Professor of African Studies at the Berkeley University in the United States. I wonder who is better qualified to comment on the State of South Africa and apartheid - Bishop Crowther or the honourable member for Lyne.
What was amazing was that the honourable gentleman should so misconstrue, either deliberately or through stupidity, the Bishop’s statements made in the Press or on television. The honourable member implied that Bishop Crowther had advocated violent protest against the visiting Springbok team and that his expression of solidarity with the Black Power movement was an endorsement of violence. I should like to deal with his first point about violence. I refer to this morning’s issue of the ‘Australian’ which, in referring to Bishop Crowther’s visit, said:
He advocated any legal means to protest against the Springbok tour, but emphasised his personal opposition to violence.
I have no intention of leading a children’s crusade to the barricades where they will be wiped out - I use that metaphorically. I think that protests do become a bore, but oppression becomes a bore too. I have never regarded doing nothing or saying nothing as the Christian way of doing things. I don’t accept violence as a means of achieving social protest, but I think demonstrations need not be violent.’
The honourable member’s comment equating Black Power with violence is a testimony to his ignorance of the Black Power movement. I can only assume that he has become somewhat confused with the terms Black Power’ and ‘Black Panther’. I want to quote from a book entitled ‘The Black Power Revolt’, edited by Floyd B. Barbour. I shall quote specifically an article entitled The National Conference on Black Power’ written by Chuck Stone. I want to inform the honourable member for Lyne of these things because he appears not to have done any study whatsoever of the question of black power. This article reads:
A week later SNICK’s chairman, Stokely Carmichael, marched through Greenville, Mississippi, leading the marchers in a new, militant chant, ‘We want black power, we want black power.’ It scared the hell out of white people and that fear, voiced in shocked editorials and public denunciations from both white and black leaders, nevertheless ushered in the era of black power.
Thirteen months later, on July 20, 1967, the black power movement was formally legitimatized by the National Conference on Black Power in Newark. New Jersey.
From 26 States, 126 cities. 286 different black or predominantly black organizations and institutions and two foreign countries . . . over 1,000 black people converged to write a glorious new chapter in black history.
I wish now to refer to the sort of programme that was undertaken at the National Conference on Black Power. Delegates were given their choice of 14 workshops and were asked to indicate second choices should some of the workshops be filled. These 14 workshops were divided into 6 sessions. At each session a different paper was delivered which dealt with a particular aspect of that workshop topic. For example, in the workshop on economic development, there were presented papers entitled ‘Economics of Poverty; We Do Not Control Black Money’; ‘Which Businesses for Black People?’; ‘Black Cooperatives and the Capitalist System’; Why Buy Black?’; ‘Research Marketing, Advertising and Production’; and Economic Control of Urban Rebuilding’. This is real anarchist stuff, is it not?
What the honourable member for Lyne does not understand is that black power means the use of the right to vote, the use of the legal rights of Negroes to gain their just rights and their human rights. The honourable member did. however, show one saving grace that gives one just the faintest glimmer of hope. He is the first member of the Country Party since I have been in this Parliament who has expressed any opposition to apartheid. It is a great pity that the honourable gentleman did not take advantage of the opportunity offered to him by the invitation I forwarded to him, and to other honourable members and honourable senators, to attend a meeting in committee Room No. 2 last Wednesday to listen to Bishop Crowther and to cross-examine him regarding his views on apartheid. The meeting was a repetition of the previous occasion when 1 invited members to attend a similar meeting to talk to and to debate with 3 members of the Australian Rugby Union team who have visited South Africa and whohave come out in opposition to the proposed South African tours. Not one member of the Liberal Party-Country Party coalition bothered to attend either of these meetings, although in fairness to the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer), the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) and the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) I must add that they sent their apologies. I want that to appear in the record Each of these meetings was attended by approximately 20 members of the Labor Party.
Let me assure the House that people such as Bishop Crowther and members associated with the campaign to stop the tour have sought over a long period to deal with this question in a rational, reasonable way. All of the people involved in the campaign, including the young students, in my view have taken a very logical approach in trying to get debate on the subject. Where were honourable members opposite when we tried to raise this matter last year? Not a word was heard from members on the Government side. Four times 1 stood in the House to raise this question. Not a word was heard from honourable members opposite. But now when we preach non-violence the honourable member for Lyne rises to try to accuse us of trying to ferment violence. The same people who deplore violence over apartheid applaud violence in Vietnam. I ask the honourable member for Lyne: Is it non-violent to banish a man to the wilderness or to detain him without trial indefinitely? Is is non-violent to deny a human being the right to vote, the right to free choice of employment or the rights to equal wages, equal justice, education, health and social welfare, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, equal participation in cultural activities, freedom to choose his own spouse, the right to strike, freedom of movement, of religion, of political views, and the hundred other rights enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Are these non-violent measures? Do not talk to me about building bridges towards apartheid. What evidence have we to show that in the last 60 or 70 years there has been any diminuation in the amount of apartheid practised? From 1910 when the republic was formed until 1948 when the Nationalists took over and until now it has got worse and worse and worse. Show me one bit of evidence to suggest that aparheid has started to diminish and I will go along with the honourable member. Talk this sort of hogwash to the 6 million Jews who listened to it back in 1933 and 1939. Talk to relatives of mine who listened to it and finished up in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and the rubble of the Warsaw ghetto. They believed in this nonsense.
The honourable member thinks this is different because the South Africans play rugby and cricket and they talk English. Do not believe it. It is the same mob dressed differently. It is the same Aryan master race. This evening we heard about the sort of action which I believe was responsible for the bombing of the home of Senator-elect Gietzelt. He is the one who said: ‘We will not have the South Africans on the beaches of our district’. It is my view that is where the bomb came from.
– Was it from the South Africans?
– Sympathisers of South Africa, yes. I may be wrong; I hope I am but I do not believe I am. Look at the people we support. Go home and tell your RSL clubs how Prime Minister Vorster spent all the war in an internment camp. Tell them how his brother, the moderator of the Dutch Reform Church, was sentenced to death for sending radio messages to Nazi Germany. The honourable member should do a bit of reading about apartheid and find out about the history of the Nazis and Fascists who run the country.
– Read about it? I was there during the war, you clot.
– I believe that the South African tour will take place, unfortunately, but I have news that later in the year the South Africans will be expelled from the Big Eight Rugby Conference and that Argentina or Fiji will take their place. I heard this on fairly good authority when I visited Fiji recently. I was fortunate on that occasion to meet the manager of the Fijian team which visited Britain recently.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I apologise to you, Mr Speaker, and to the House for the remark I made during the speech of the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). 1 should not have said what I did say, particularly in view of my position in this House.
– The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) claims to have invited members of this House to 2 meetings he has held recently. I wish to say very briefly and to the point that I for one have never received any such invitation. I doubt seriously whether honourable members on this side of the House were invited in the manner which he suggested. He claimed that the Labor Party was well represented.
– I rise to make some comments on the injustices of the Commonwealth secondary scholarship scheme. This is a system which builds inequalitiy into education. It is a major obstacle to equality of opportunity for students. It ignores the needs of the great majority of students. It rewards social advantage and it punishes need. It can be guaranteed in looking at the allotment Df Commonwealth secondary scholarships that those people who need the financial assistance of the Commonwealth most of all are those who are least likely to receive it. Today I received from the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen a reply to a question I asked about the allocation of Commonwealth scholarships in 1970 to be available this year. I strongly urge all honourable members to look in today’s Hansard for the reply to question No. 2762 because it reveals some very disturbing facts.
As 1 said, the whole Commonwealth scholarship system builds inequality into education. For example, last year in Victoria 36,955 students enrolled in government schools for the intermediate course. That figure represents 74 per cent of all students taking intermediate in Victoria last year. Those students won 1,239 scholarships or 45.8 per cent of the scholarship* available. Catholic schools enrolled 8,183 Students, 646 of whom won scholarships, and this represents 23.9 per cent of those awarded in Victoria. At the other private schools 4,819 students were enrolled at the intermediate standard and 819 students or 30.3 per cent won scholarships. It can be seen from these figures where the vast majority of scholarships are received. Almost three-quarters of the students are enrolled in Government secondary schools and they are getting less than half of the scholarships, lt can be seen that 9.6 per cent of all students enrolled in intermediate are enrolled in the other private schools in Victoria and they are getting 30.3 per cent of the scholarships.
The most interesting point is the percentage of intermediate students who received scholarships last year. Working out the figures on the. basis of the reply given to me by the Minister for Education and Science these are the results: Only 3.35 per cent of all students enrolled in Government schools last year in intermediate received Commonwealth secondary scholarships, while in Catholic schools 7.89 per cent of those enrolled in intermediate last year were awarded scholarships. When one looks at the greater public schools of which this Government seems to be terribly fond one finds that 17 per cent of all enrolled in intermediate last year received Commonwealth scholarships, and very substantial ones they are too. The average of scholarships received for the whole of Vic toria was 5.41 per cent of all students enrolled in intermediate last year. Those figures show that a student attending other private schools has approximately 5 times the chance of getting a Commonwealth secondary scholarship as a student enrolled in a Government secondary school and the student at the private school has almost twice the chance that a student at a Catholic school has of receiving a scholarship, lt is easy to see where the inequality is in this present system.
This type of examination, known as Competitive Examination Based on Ability Regardless of Your Needs’, will keep on reproducing a situation of inequality. I am particularly concerned about this because we are giving away money where it is not needed and it is being given away according to something we class as ‘tested ability’. In my electorate of Bendigo it can be seen how irrelevant the Commonwealth secondary scholarship system is to the needs of students. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard 2 tables which set out details in regard to Commonwealth secondary scholarships awarded to students in the electorate of Bendigo.
I would like to point out some of the inequalities evidenced by those tables. In my electorate I conducted a survey of 7 Government secondary schools, one Church of England Girls’ Grammar School and 7 Catholic private schools. Last year a total of 979 students were enrolled in intermediate in these schools. Of them 547 sat for examinations and 55 were successful. Therefore 924 students missed out. I will point to some of the inequalities. There are 4 Government schools with a total intermediate enrolment of 320 students. In those schools there were 135 candidates for the Commonwealth secondary scholarship examination and they received only 2 scholarships. Of those 4 schools one had an intermediate population of 103, 30 candidates sat for the examination but it received only one scholarship. Another school with a population of 104 and with 52 candidates received no scholarships. Another school with a total enrolment of 49 in intermediate had 16 candidates but received no scholarships. Three of the Catholic schools with a total enrolment of 45 did not receive one scholarship. This is an example of the inequalities in the system.
Many of the children in my electorate are the children of low income families. If they are middle income families they are in the lower section of the middle income families. They are the people who are missing out. I will give an example of the problem which is facing us to indicate how unjust and discriminatory the Commonwealth secondary scholarship system is. I will refer to one school. This school was among those least favoured in the allotment of scholarships. It had a total enrolment of 440 students last year. Fifty students last year were getting special financial assistance from the Victorian Education Department, on the basis of a means test on a weekly income of $38.55 for a family with 2 children. To be in receipt of that kind of income, a person would have to be very low down the scale of wage earners. Of the 440 students, 50 qualified for special assistance. This was on a means test based on an income lower than the minimum wage of $42.30 last year in Victoria. If the actual minimum wage had been the means test, the school would probably have had an additional 50 children receiving special assistance from the Victorian Education Department. In other words, probably about 2 in 9 of the school’s children were from families on very low incomes. Many of the children came from families living in poverty.
I have more details about this school. A 1970 survey of the school found that 10 per cent of the school’s children were children of pensioners or of widows; 50 per cent were children of labourers or of seraiskilled workers; 33 per cent had fathers in occupations ranging from semi-skilled to semi-professional; and 6 per cent had fathers who were foremen or professional people. Equally revealing are the family circumstances of the children at this school. A survey in 1969 showed that 47 per cent of the children were from families of 4 or more children. This is a clear case where inequality. poverty and low incomes were strongly entrenched. What was the Commonwealth’s assistance to the children at this school? Only one student received a scholarship. Similar comments can be made about other schools in the electorate. One has only to look at the document that I have had incorporated in Hansard to see that a number of Catholic schools and a number of State high schools are in areas of low income. In fact, by looking at the results of Commonwealth secondary examinations one could almost guarantee which school is in an area of high income and which school is in an area of low income. I suggest that the present method of providing assistance is a very unequal and very discriminatory way of giving financial assistance to people.
My belief is that everyone should be getting an allowance which would be sufficient to enable every child to continue its education to the best of its ability in the education system. This Government will not provide that assistance. If it is not prepared to do that, it should ensure that the money it provides is spent in the areas of greatest need. That would mean scrapping the present system and replacing it with a system which grants allowances and scholarships according to the means of the parents of the students. We are wasting the talents of thousands of children in Victoria and we are rewarding people who, in many cases, simply do not need the money.
– I will not delay the House long, but I think the time has arrived when we have to look the matter of the Australian Wool Commission and the plight of the wool industry throughout the world fairly and squarely in the face. The Opposition supported the establishment of the Commission, but today it bemoans what has occurred since the creation of the Commission. The
Opposition did not take notice of me when I forecast what would happen. I forecast correctly. I said that when the Commission commenced operations there would be an animated market for the time being but that prices would gradually fall. One maxim that is always good in most facets of life is to always give the other man credit for having as much common sense as yourself. We are not doing that any more with one of our best customers for wool.
I refer to the International Wool Textile Organisation. I met representatives of the Organisation in France. They came from Belgium, Germany, Holland and England. These families have been in the wool business for 300 or 400 years. They realise that if any section of the wool industry is depressed naturally other sections of the industry will be depressed. These people are distressed because they do not know from day to day the position in the wool industry. They put it to me in the plainest and simplest terms: ‘What would you do in our position when there is a stockpiling of wool in Uruguay, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa? If you were a purchaser and processor of wool, what would you do? You would do exactly the same as we are doing - buying our bare requirements.’ This comment applies to the wool stockpiled not only in Australia but in the other countries I have mentioned. These people, who are the backbone of the wool industry, deplore the secrecy surrounding the wool industry in Australia.
Under the Australian Wool Commission Bill which we passed in this Parliament the Commission has to report fortnightly to the Minister on the state of the stockpile of wool and the financial position of the Commission. Open confession is good for the soul, and it would be good if the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) were to come into the House and tell us the position of the Commission at this time. We have set up this very costly Commission whose main purpose to date has been to block up the potholes. We have already set up the costly Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Board which over the years should have carried out the functions which the Wool Commission is now undertaking. It should not have been left to the Commission, which has been recently formed, to block up the potholes. When I refer to potholes I am referring to such matters as making an appraisal of wool, core testing wool, devising a better presentation of wool and introducing better marketing arrangements for wool. All of these functions could have been undertaken by the Australian Wool Industry Conference or the Australian Wool Board.
A vast amount of money is being expended through the International Wool Secretariat. It financed Chichester’s trip around the world, but I would be a very surprised man if that resulted in the sale of an extra bale of wool. Chichester’s trip was a wonderful feat but, after all, the Secretariat is there to present wool in its best form to the public and to sell wool. After having expended thousands of dollars on the advertising stunt involving Chichester’s trip, the Secretariat is now to sponsor the Grand Prix of Great Britain. If anybody could convince me that that would result in the sale of one bale of wool or one yard of cloth I would be a very surprised man.
We want the Wool Secretariat and the other bodies involved in promoting the sale of wool to get the manufacturers to go in for blends. As we all know, wool makes the greatest cloth in the world and there is not one synthetic or man-made fibre which would not benefit from the addition of wool to its texture. Most suits which I wear consist of 45 per cent wool and 55 per cent terylene. For some unknown reason the International Wool Secretariat, which is the promoter of the sale of wool throughout the world, has neglected this blend aspect and still wants to sell wool in its manufactured form. We all know that wool is the most wonderful cloth in the world. I would like to see the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) 15 years hence walking about in a suit that he purchased today. A wool suit will last 15 years, but who wants a suit to last that long?
– I do.
– It would be pretty baggy at the end of that time. I think that the time has arrived when the Government should be honest with the wool grower.
Statements such as that made by Mr Vines yesterday are not fair. They give people false hope that the wool industry is likely to come good within the near future. That is only wishful thinking. There is no possible chance of that happening until the world surplus of wool has been used and until we find a better method of promotion. To say that the Commission may have saved the wool growers $80m is wrong and is giving false hope to those people who would like to get out of the industry. When these statements are made logic is put to one side. It is wishful thinking that the wool industry will come into its own within the very near future.
The huge stores in England and on the Continent are full of woollen clothing. Marks and Spencers have advised the Bradford woollen mills that they will not require any woollen garments for another 2 years. At the present time everything is militating against the manufacture of woollen cloth for fashion garments. How often does one see a person wearing a woollen sports coat now? The mini skirt has diminished the requirements for wool. The wool industry will have to go through a torrid time at least for the next 12 months. After that there may be a lift. We should be honest with the people who want to leave the industry. We should not give them false hopes. We should be truthful in our statements.
– My remarks will be directed to the ruination of Botany Bay which is bordering on my electorate and which, in any case, is a rare gem in our environmental heritage. Today in the Sydney ‘Mirror’ there was a dramatic heading which said: Death Warning! Botany Bay fish threat’. This highlighted a report by Dr Thomas Mullins, a lecturer in chemistry at the University of New South Wales. According to the Sydney ‘Mirror’ tonight, he called for an immediate inquiry into the dangerous amounts of poisonous mercury pollution found in fish. I think honourable members would know that it is less than a year since mercury was discovered in the Baltic Sea and in Lake St Clair in Canada. Since then mercury pollution has become well recognised and regarded as a potential killer. Dr Mullins went on to say that regular eaters of fish taken from Botany Bay are risking death. He said that 1,000 lb of fish were sent to the fish markets and sold locally. As well large consignments of oysters are sent to the Sydney fish markets. Honourable members will be interested to know that those oysters come to Parliament House and are indulged in to a considerable extent.
Dr Mullins said that commercial fishing in Botany Bay must be halted. He added that if people regularly eat fish from Botany Bay they will die. He is a qualified man. One might not be so impressed if only one expert were making these contentions. lt is important to know that these remarks have been confirmed by Dr Cummins, the Director-General of Public Health for New South Wales who today is attributed with having said that readings many times higher than the safety level are in evidence in regard to mercury at Botany Bay. Mercury poisoning is a frightening experience which affects the central nervous system, producing blindness, deafness and loss of voluntary body functions before death. Honourable members will recall the phrase ‘mad as a hatter’, lt is interesting to note that that phrase derives from the acute mercury poisoning that people in the hat making trade sustain by handling mercury in the processes involved in that trade.
The ‘Sunday Australian’ stated that there was up to 5.8 parts per million of mercury in fish in Botany Bay and 2.8 parts per million of mercury in oysters taken from Botany Bay. Dr Cummins at first refuted those claims, but now he agrees. The figure of 5.8 parts per million is much higher than the levels for Lake Erie and the St Clair River in the United States, where the mercury content in fish called pike went to 3.57 parts per million. It is very interesting to reflect for a while on where this contamination of Botany Bay is originating. Let me read the following remarks from an expert statement: it is the general heavily polluted condition of the Bay itself which is the main cause. Because of the large amount of sewage and other organic matter put into the Bay, a large amount of oxygen is used up to oxidise all the effluent . . the filling of swamps and wetlands, as well as general pollution in the Georges and Cooks Rivers which flow into (the Bay), help to produce a condition in the Bay itself which will encourage this transformation of mercury salts to methyl mercury.
There is specific evidence to indicate that industry is contributing in a substantial way to this hazard. I believe that Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd can fairly be indicted for its part in this polluting process. We are told that methyl mercury, or alkyl mercury compounds generally, are used heavily in the manufacture of paper as slimicides. In this case methyl mercury itself is probably entering Botany Bay in significant quantities. At this moment the Maritime Services Board is proceeding against Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd for pollution of Botany Bay by pulp which, in addition, adds to the general poor condition of the Bay. We are told that paper pulp almost completely covers the floor of Botany Bay. Then there is Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd, which is producing caustic soda and using mercury cells at Botany. It is almost certain, according to the experts, that this is a significant source of mercury entering Botany Bay. The Bunnerong power station - a public instrumentality - is also involved. We are told that the burning of coal can release mercury into the environment. In addition, there is the oil refinery at Botany Bay.
These matters are very important. I would like to go on and develop this general theme because the adverse effects of mercury poison in other parts of the world have been most disasterous. In Japan, for example, in one area 111 persons were reported to have been killed or to have suffered serious neurological damage as a result of eating fish and shellfish caught in mercury contaminated areas. There are several parts of Japan where the death rate has been exceedingly high - well in excess of 100. Mercury that enters the body has a cumulative effect similar lo that of strontium 90. Methyl mercury will accumulate in food chains because it is fat soluble. We are told that a hawk can descend from the sky and take the concentrated mercury that is in a small fish intake, and consequently suddenly nosedive out of the sky as a victim of this dread hazard-
Throughout Australia today there are people who are very greatly concerned about pollution matters. We hear the spontaneous agitation of certain people and other people, through organisations concerned with conservation, expressing their concern about the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, the Colong Caves in New South Wales, the Little Desert National Park in Victoria, the Cockburn Sound in Western Australia and the proposed ravaging of Wollongong’s northern beaches by the Bermudan owned company, Clutha Development Pty Ltd. It is going to stockpile the world’s largest pile of coal, pollute the coastline and ruin the environment in that area. We know of the problem in the great cities of Wollongong and Newcastle where there is air, water and noise pollution. We know that there is a threat to health and even to the very existence of life itself yet this Government, unlike the national governments of the United States and Canada, is failing to concern itself with these problems. In several of the States we already have a Minister for the environment. This is the case in New South Wales and Western Australia and, if I am not mistaken, it may be the case in South Australia as well. But it is a much bigger problem than just dealing with Botany Bay or a river or estuary. This pollution finally ends up in the off-shore areas. It finishes up on the territorial shelf and it is very apparent that we will need to approach this problem in a more cohesive way. The Commonwealth’s indifference will ultimately contribute to a degree of pollution which the States will be completely incapable of handling. Now we have had brought to our attention in a most dramatic form today in the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ through announcements made by Dr Cummins, the Director-General of Public Health in New South Wales and another very distinguished expert, a development which is exceptional to this country. We hope it will not become the order of the day. It will be an alarming thing if we start to hear of deaths from mercury poisoning as a result of the consumption of fish taken from Botany Bay. As one of those members representing an area bordering on Botany Bay I treat the matter as being of the utmost importance and I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) when constituting his new ministry might give heed to this very serious warning and include in his Cabinet complex a Minister with precise, overall and particular responsibility so that we can approach this matter in a more objective way than has been the case hitherto.
- Mr Speaker -
Motion (by Mr Wentworth) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved ‘ in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.53 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What amounts or assistance have been contributed by the Commonwealth Government in each of the latest 3 years for which figures or estimates are available by way of subsidy, tax exemptions or other financial assistance to non-profit, non-statutory organisations concerned with (a) military, paramilitary and related activities of military value, including cadet corps, gun clubs, flying clubs and ex-service organisations, (b) community welfare, including education, non-industrial science, health, emergency services, home help and institutional care and (c) sport, physical recreation and physical culture, including the Boy Scouts Organisation.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is set out below. The information has been compiled in consultation with the Departments concerned:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 March 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710317_reps_27_hor71/>.