27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have to inform the House that I have received the following letter from the Clerk of the Central Court of Petty Sessions in Sydney.
I have to inform you that: -
The warrant of commitment was executed, and the imprisonment of Mr Uren occurred, during the Easier holidays. Official advice from the Chief Superintendent, Department of Corrective Services, Long Bay of the execution of the warrant and of Mr Uren’s subsequent discharge from prison was received by me this day. A copy of the statement from the Chief Superintendent containing that advice is attached hereto.
The statement attached to the letter is a formal return which I do not propose to read.
– I wish to raise a matter of privilege relating to the commitment to prison of the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). The Constitution of the Commonwealth, Section 49, states:
The powers, privileges, and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Par liament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
This House not having made any special provision for a situation such as this, it is clear that the privileges of the members of the House of Commons apply to each member of this Parliament. Therefore the commitment of the honourable member for Reid to prison in these circumstances was a breach of that privilege and I believe that the Privileges Committee ought to examine it.
The situation is that the honourable member for Reid was committed to prison, under a warrant, the day before Easter. As you, Mr Speaker, have announced, on5th January, as a result of a court action in which he was unsuccessful, costs were awarded against the honourable member for Reid. This, of course, is the important issue. He was ordered to pay costs of $80. He was not fined; be was ordered to pay costs. So it was ordinarily a civil debt that the honourable member for Reid incurred. I presume that he will take some exception to what I am doing here, as in no way has he set himself out on a course of selfmartyrdom. But privilege is the property of all of us. He went down and reported to the police that he was available to meet the costs, I suppose one could say, that is, he placed himself at their disposal as he was not prepared to pay the costs, the result being that he was to spend 40 days in prison. He did this to comply with the court order. He did not go there because he enjoys prisons or anything of that sort, as I understand it. If he did not do so, 1 would expect that he would be in contempt of court.
I believe that this Parliament must take action to protect its membership in accordance with the procedures that have been laid down over the centuries by the House of Commons. The difficulty that we face, of course, is that we have failed to act on privilege over the years. Ever since I entered this Parliament we have had it on the agenda somewhere. We were going to do something about privilege. We were going to do something about all these things and bring them into order. Oddly enough, we have done so in regard to other legislative assemblies for which we are responsible. For instance, we have clarified this matter in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Ordinance of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, as we have done in the case of the Northern Territory. That Ordinance states:
A person shall not, upon a day in respect of which this section applies, arrest a member upon any civil process.
This section applies in respect of -
a day fixed by resolution of the House or otherwise to be a day on which the House will sit;
the three days immediately preceding such a day; and
the three days immediately following such a day.
The House of Commons has been operating for centuries. It is much more liberal one might say, in regard to the time in which a member may not be under arrest. I suggest that honourable members take a look at ‘May’s Parliamentary Practice’. On this matter it states:
The privilege of freedom from arrest or molestation of members of Parliament, which is of great antiquity, was of proved indispensability, first to the service of the Crown, and now to the functioning of each House. . . .
Then it is all set out at page 67 of the edition I have here. It is clear enough that the objective was to prevent anyone from being able to stop members attending on the Parliament because that was much more important than anything else which that member might have to do. May states quoting Hatsell Precedents and Proceedings in the House of Commons: . . their attendance is more peculiarly essential to the Court of Parliament, the first and highest court in this kingdom, that the Members, who compose it, should not be prevented by trifling interruptions from their attendance on this important duty, but should, for a certain time, be excused from obeying any other call, not so immediately necessary for the great services of the nation: It has been therefore, upon these principles, always claimed and allowed, that the Members of both Houses should be, during their attendance in Parliament, exempted from several duties, and not considered as liable to some legal processes, to which otter citizens, not intrusted with this most valuable franchise, are by law obliged to pay obedience.
As far as the duration of privilege is concerned, it is set out as being 40 days before and after the meeting of sessions.
– Have it incorporated.
– I would think that even the least knowing citizen in this place would consider that the privilege of the Parliament, particularly in a case such as this, was important enough to deserve his attention. May states:
With regard to Members of the House of Commons, ‘the time of privilege’ has been repeatedly mentioned in statutes, but never explained. It is stated by Blackstone and others, and has been the general opinion (founded, probably, upon the ancient law and custom, by which writs of summons for a Parliament were always issued at least forty days before its appointed meeting), that the privilege of freedom from arrest remains with a member of the House of Commons ‘for forty days after every prorogation, and forty days before the next appointed meeting’; and this extent of privilege has been allowed by the courts of law, on the ground of usage and universal opinion.
It is obvious, then, that the honourable member for Reid was covered by the privilege of this Parliament. We may say that the time element allowed in those statutes is out of date now, but the fact is that whoever issued and carried out these operations was in breach of the privilege of this Parliament. The magistrate should have known this when he set out the procedure. The law officers who accepted the honourable member into custody or advised that he be accepted into custody should have known. The prison officials should have known. The important thing of course is that we must not allow anything to prevent honourable members from attending this place. To do so could be a threat to the parliamentary system. It would not be unique for some obstacles to be placed in the way of honourable members in order to prevent them carying out their duties. This could lead to the disruption of government and even the defeat of a government. Recently in Victoria 5 people were sent to prison whilst others who committed the same sin, if that is what it was, were allowed to go free - were not even charged in any way. That is a kind of government by selective malice. The danger of which I speak is apparent in a Parliament which is often just about equally divided. The arrest and incarceration of three or four members for a fortnight or so could make a fundamental difference to the government of the country. I believe that the Committee of Privileges should examine this matter thoroughly and I therefore move:
That the matter of the commitment to prison of the honourable member for Reid be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
– The Government has no objection to this motton and will support it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– 1 present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system.
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several State Government Departments.
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Committee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted _ to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underlie it: and its mode of operation and administration.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the residents of Victoria respectfully showeth:
That because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species, is now so low, that they may become extinct.
There are not sufficient wardens in any State of Australia to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws in existence. As a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to Australia.
It is an indisputable fact, that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale, when there is no provision being made for its future. We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:
The export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth take the necessary steps to bring all wildlife throughout Australia, under its jurisdiction.
Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes, can save surviving kangaroos.
And your petitioners, therefore as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Defence (Mr Gorton) left on 12th April to represent Australia at the 5-power ministerial conference in London on 15th and 16th April and to hold talks with Ministers and defence officials in the United Kingdom. He will then go to Washington for talks with defence officials, returning to Australia on 30th April. During his absence the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) will be acting Minister for Defence.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Bury) left Australia for London on 11th April to attend the 5-power ministerial conference on 15th and 16th April and a South East Asia Treaty Organisation Council meeting on 27th and 28th April. While overseas Mr Bury will attend- in Washington a meeting of countries contributing troops to Vietnam on 23rd April and will go to Geneva to chair a meeting of heads of Australian diplomatic missions. Mr Bury is expected back in Australia on 8th May. During his absence the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) is the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) left Australia yesterday for Manila to lead the Australian delegation to the 27th annual session of the Economic Commismission for Asia and the Far East beginning today. Mr Sinclair is expected to be back in Australia by 27th April. During his absence the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) is Acting Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) will represent the Acting Minister in this chamber.
– Has the Prime Minister been given the calculations which the Australian Medical Association has prepared to justify its claim for a 15 per cent increase in the common fees to be charged by all doctors or at least by general practitioners? So that honourable members and the public can be informed of the basis of the claims, which his predecessor found appalling, will the right honourable gentleman table the AMA document and also the results of the surveys of the Department of Health which have shown that last year doctors received an increase of 20 per cent in their payments from the medical benefits funds?
– I do not have in my possession the detailed working chart of the figures asked for by the honourable gentleman. But I want to put this matter into perspective. Some time ago the Australian Medical Association announced that it wanted a 15 per cent over the board increase in medical fees. Strong exception was taken by the Government, first, as to the size of the increase and, second, because the Government felt it was unjustified and had to be justified.
Subsequently I was given some figures by the medical authorities - that is, the Department of Health. They advised me that the fees for general practitioners had increased by only 7 per cent and the fees for specialists had increased by about 25 per cent. When these and other figures - I am not sure of the details of the second part of my remarks - were given to tha AMA its President and Secretary-General asked me whether I would mind if they reconsidered their position. I agreed and at the same time I suggested to them that the wise course to follow was to give up for the time being any increase in specialists’ fees and to concentrate on the general practitioners. This they agreed to.
Subsequently I was informed that after a meeting on Sunday they had agreed to the Government’s request, the effect of this being that the cost, instead of being $32m, as an across the board increase would have involved, would now be about $10m on their percentage increase. This figure of $10m as being the maximum, as advised to me by the Department of Health, has not been agreed to by the Government nor have the various percentage increases that have been proposed for the various States and in special circumstances by the AMA been agreed to. What has been agreed to is that the Minister for Health will have consultations with the AMA on Friday of this week in order to get a clear statement of what is meant by the words ‘for the time being* and to try to finalise the figures for general practitioners’ fees.
I want to make it abundantly clear, first of all, that the Government’s primary goal is to provide an effective health scheme for the benefit of the Australian community without unnecessary cost to those who have to contribute to the health or medical benefits funds. Secondly, whilst I have said that we have not agreed with the proposals made by the practitioners, we will look in detail at the proposals that they have made in order to make certain that they can be justified. I will try to get the figures for the honourable gentleman, and if I can get them I will let him have them.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that the heavily protected Australian price for PVC granules is 26c per lb? Does the Minister know that a plastics products manufacturer in Hong Kong can buy the same Australian granules for about 12c per lb? Does he realise that an Australian plastics products manufacturer can buy Hong Kong plastic buckets made from these Australian granules, ship them to Australia, grind them into powder and make them into plastic hose or even plastic buckets at a cheaper price than if he bought the granules from across the road in Melbourne? While certain old fashioned members of this House may think this is a splendid method of creating employment-
-Order! The honourable member’s question is far too long and he is giving a great deal of information.
– Does the Minister think that this is a good way to go on?
– The honourable member has given me a lot of information which I did not know before, but if he has any doubt about the rate of protection that is being given to an industry he automatically is questioning the activities of the Tariff Board because it is the Tariff Board that makes a recommendation to the Government as to the level of protection that is needed for an Australian industry to be economic and efficient, and in 99 per cent of the cases the Government accepts the recommendations of the Tariff Board. If the honourable gentleman is questioning the rate of duty that is being afforded to this industry, he is questioning the activities of the Tariff Board.
– My question is addressed to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. Did the previous Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, undertake during the 1969 election campaign to remove all discriminatory legislation against Aboriginals by 1972? Did the recent decision of the present Prime Minister and the PostmasterGeneral together with representatives of the Queensland Government provide for continuation of some of the restrictions on Aboriginals’ control of their own property? Does this not therefore still amount to paternalism? Do these remaining restrictions exist in any other State or Territory? Finally, does the Minister now regard the election promise to abolish all discriminatory legislation as being fulfilled, or has there been a sell-out by the Commonwealth?
- Mr Speaker-
– I raise a point of order. The question was addressed to the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs and not to the Prime Minister.
-Order! The Prime Minister is quite In order in answering any question that is directed to a Minister.
– It is the strong belief of this Government that where we can achieve all out objectives by persuasive means and negotiation rather than by compulsion we will do so. We are not a Labor Party and we are not dictated to by the Australian Council of Trade Unions or by the secretary-
-Order! I remind those honourable members who are interjecting that this is question time. 1 suggest that the House come to order and that honourable members conduct themselves as they should in this chamber.
– The facts are these: About 10 days or more ago the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs came to me and said that he had 11 requests to be made to the Queensland Government to amend its laws and practices relating to Aboriginals. I went through them with him and subsequently the Vice-President of the Executive Council and Postmaster-General, now the Minister administering the Department of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, came with me to Queensland where we discussed these 11 problems with Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier, and Mr Chalk, the Treasurer, and their officials. On the 11 points that were raised by the Minister for Social Services, we were immediately in general accord, other than that we did alter some of the words in order to make them more easily understood and to meet the request of the Commonwealth. There was agreement in 9 out of the 11 cases. All the points raised were for the benefit of the Aboriginals. 1 will mention three or four because as you know, Mr Speaker, at question time I cannot go through all of them. One of the points related to the right of the Aboriginal to leave the reserve if he wanted to do so. This was agreed to. Another was in regard to access to the reserves, and it was decided that the councils on the reserves should have the decision. Thirdly, we looked at the question of separate legislation for the Torres Strait Island Aboriginals. This was agreed to. Special regulations relating to a part of the vagrancy codes were also agreed to.
Consequently, we were then left with the other two problems that I have mentioned. One related to the supply of alcohol on native reserves. The agreement we reached here was that the officials of the reserves, who to a large extent are Aboriginals themselves, should have the right on each occasion to determine whether their own reserve should have free, limited or no access to alcohol. From going down to Ringwood and one other part of Victoria. I have found that this is the practice followed there, and consequently their wish is in accordance with the wish of people in local government areas. The second point related to the exploitation of Aboriginals if they were given freedom over their own assets and funds. I had to agree that in special cases there was a responsibility on the Aboriginal councils, if they wanted to exercise that responsibility, to protect - not to discriminate against - their own Aboriginal people.
It was also agreed that in cases of exploitation the administration itself should have the right not so much to control but to protect. It is a measure to protect the Aboriginal people themselves. So far from there being any discrimination now, the work done by the Minister for Social Services was really worth while. Every one of his recommendations has been carried into effect, in two cases with some modification and I believe this removes any claim of discrimination against the Australian Aboriginal.
– Has the Prime Minister heard of the intention of a prominent journalist and of others to visit mainland China in connection with certain sporting activities and of a member of the Opposition of this House to pay a visit to inquire into trade negotiations by this Government? Can the Prime Minister inform the House of the attitude of the Government to the movements of citizens for these purposes?
– Our attitude to the movement of Australian citizens and, for that matter, Chinese citizens to and from Australia has, I think, already been made clear by me in a statement made to the National Press Club one day last week. We do not place any embargo on the movement of Australian citizens to the People’s Republic of China unless there are security considerations involved. We do not place any obstacles in the way of the movement of people from the People’s Republic of China to Australia unless similar kinds of security considerations are involved.
Against this background I believe that the Australian Labor Party during the course of the last few days has made an abominable mess of its attitude to the movement of Australian citizens. Already the Leader of the Opposition has decided that this Party would make application to the Chinese Premier, Mr Chou En-lai, for a visa to allow one of the members of his Party to go to Peking in order to find out why continental China - the People’s Republic of China - is not purchasing Australian wheat. I am advised that so far he has not received any reply.
Secondly, a prominent journalist in the Press gallery did make an application to the Peking Foreign Office for permission to go at the same time as the member of the Opposition was going in order to investigate the position of wheat. He has been given approval to go with the ping-pong team. He has not been given any approval to go with the member of the Opposition, nor has he been given any approval to take part in any discussions relating to the purchase of wheat. Thirdly - and 1 think the House will be interested in this later development - there was a request by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to permit Mr John Penlington to go to continental China, the People’s Republic of China, in order to permit ‘Four Corners’ to produce a film relating to that country. The ABC was contacted by a Mr Edward Hill, the Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) who said-
-Order! On many occasions 1 have appealed to members of this House in relation to their behaviour at question time. I believe that members of a national Parliament such as this should regard this House not as a fun house and a circus, but as something of national importance in which the public and many members are interested. It should not be the subject of derision by certain members. I have already issued warnings during this question time. I shall not issue another warning to any member during this question time; I will deal with him directly.
– Mr Speaker, may I raise a point of order?
– There is no point of order unless the honourable member wants to raise a point of order on procedure.
– Yes, Sir, I want to raise a point of order on procedure. The disruption of which you speak is in my opinion being caused - and I would ask for your guidance on this - by the deliberate provocation of the Prime Minister. That is bringing forth these interjections. I ask for a ruling from you on the matter.
-Order! There is no point of order on which to give a ruling, but I would say that some of the questions that are asked are equally provocative. I suggest that when provocative questions are asked, although Ministers have the right to answer questions in the manner in which they think fit, provided that it is relevant to the question, honourable members should exercise the restraint which is expected of them by the electors and the people of Australia who send them to this Parliament.
– I repeat that subsequently Mr Ted Hill, the Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia, got in touch with the ABC and said that he had been asked by the Chinese authorities to handle the matter. Mr Hill wished to meet Mr Penlington and to form some impression of him before he would give his approval. When questioned Hill said that unless this course was accepted the applications would not be given any further consideration.
So here we have the ABC, wishing to go to continental China, being refused unless its personnel were vetted by the leading member of the Australian Communist Party. The Labor Party has not yet had an answer to the letter that was written to Mr Chou En-lai by the Leader of the Opposition but we have a prominent journalist being permitted to go there. I believe that the People’s Republic of China, while playing politics, nonetheless likes to keep fair and proper international relationships. I hope that on this occasion it will continue that practice.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport what action he has taken to ensure the resumption of shipping services to Tasmania. In view of Tasmania’s complete dependence on shipping and the retrenchments now taking place in industry, I ask the Minister to treat this matter with urgency.
– Having regard to the honourable member’s position as Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party, I would have thought he might have used any good offices he had to induce those taking part in the industrial action that is causing so much difficulty for Tasmania and other parts of Australia to do something about the situation. It appears to me quite apparent that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is impotent to act against the trade union movement which very strongly controls the whole of the activities of the Opposition in this Parliament. The situation is simply that on 23rd December last year an award was made for chief stewards of the coastal shipping lines and the Australian National Line granting them salaries which now amount to $7,685. An award which now amounts to $6,095 was also granted at that time for assistant stewards. An appeal against the awards was dismissed in March. In April a stop work meeting was held and the stewards decided to go out on strike. The shipowners have been taking the necessary action under the industrial laws of this land and I have been holding conferences today with the Minister for Labour and National Service to see what can be done.
J agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that employees of some of the major factories in Tasmania will suffer great hardship if the ships cannot get back to sea, but the difficulties will affect a much further area than that referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Great difficulty will be created for many coastal industries throughout Australia if the ships cannot get back to sea. Indeed, the operations of the ANL itself may well be placed in jeopardy if we do not have a settlement of this strike. This situation opens up the question whether there is need for stewards on these ships at all, and if the stewards do not adopt a more flexible attitude further studies will need to be made of this aspect. There is no question at all that the whole of the coastal shipping of Australia is in jeopardy as a result of this strike. Some 80 ships are tied up - and the activities of the ANL, of which Government members at least in this house are proud, are being placed in jeopardy, particularly its operations on the Japanese route. It is a very serious question indeed.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, is prompted by his previous answer. It concerns recent statements relating to Australia’s overseas wheat trade, this country’s defence policy and diplomatic relations with Peking China. Does the Prime Minister recollect similar circumstances some years ago concerning Australia’s relations with Russia after the split in the Australian Labor Party? Does the Prime Minister see a similarity in approach between the message recently sent to Chou En-lai and the infamous Molotov letter of 1955? Do not both these approaches represent the politics of desperation which is unacceptable to the Australian concept of patriotism?
– I cannot see an exact parallel between the activities of the former Leader of the Opposition to whom the honourable member for Kennedy has referred, and the present Leader of the Opposition. It is true that the former Leader of the Opposition was a lawyer and that the present Leader of the Opposition is a lawyer. It is true that the late Dr Herbert Vere Evatt was an eminent constitutional lawyer. It is true too that under strong emotional influences he was induced, or he was persuaded, to write to the Foreign Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
– I rise to order. The Prime Minister is casting a reflection on the late Dr Evatt. He has even described the state that Dr Evatt was in and I do not feel that the Prime Minister or anybody else in this House has the right to judge what state another member was in at a particular time. I believe the Prime Minister’s statement was a reflection or) Dr Evatt and I ask that it be withdrawn.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. In my view, the right honourable gentleman has not cast any reflection upon the late Dr Evatt.
– In my view he has.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I raise another point of order. Is this matter within the administration of the Prime Minister?
-The honourable member for Kennedy has asked the Prime Minister whether there is any similarity between our previous relationship with Russia and our present relationship with China. Those matters are within the province of the Prime Minister and, therefore, the question is in order.
– If he casts any further reflection I will challenge him.
– The honourable member for Reid will contain himself.
– I will contain myself.
-I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– He can please himself what he does.
– I will go further and say that, during the Petrov hearing, the late Dr Evatt stated in this House that he would send a letter to the Foreign Minister of the USSR in order to check whether the documents presented in the Petrov case were accurate. Of course he got the answer that he needed because the USSR Government was then implicated in the Commission and as to whether espionage had been carried out by the USSR Government in Australia.
In the second case that we are referring to, relating to wheat, we have a somewhat similar problem because here the Leader of the Opposition has sent a message to Mr Chou En-lai, the Premier of continental China.
– The pronunciation is ‘Lie’.
– I am giving the pronunciation of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
– They do not recognise you.
– They do not recognise you, either, but 1 have to look at you across the table. I will continue, despite these interruptions.
– After the next election I will not have to look at you across the table.
-Order! The House will come to order.
– Is your name Popov the clown?
-Order! I name the honourable member for Reid.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the honourable member for Reid be suspended from the service of the House.
– I give notice that as soon as this division is completed I will move a vote of no confidence in you as Speaker of this House.
– Very well. The ‘Ayes’ will pass to the right of the Chair, the Noes’ to the left of the Chair. I appoint the honourable members for Henty and Mallee tellers for the ‘Ayes’ and the honourable members for Wilmot and Hunter tellers for the ‘Noes’.
– I refuse to be a teller in protest against what has just been done. (The tellers for the ‘Noes’ having refused to act)-
-Order! The tellers for the ‘Noes’ having refused to act, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative. The honourable member for Reid is suspended from the service of the House. (The honourable member for Reid thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– I give notice that at the next day of sitting I shall move:
That Mr Speaker no longer has the confidence of this House.
-The Clerk has the notice of motion. I call the right honourable the Prime Minister in continuation.
– Relying on my memory of the stage 1 had reached in answer to the last question, the Leader of the Opposition sent a letter or made an application to Mr Chou En-lai, the Premier of continental China, asking that one of his shadow ministers be permitted to go there in order to ask why that country was not buying Australian wheat. Now, the real similarities in the 2 positions are these: What a strange thing it is that in the one case the letter should have been written to a country that -vas a Communist country, and that in the second case the application should have been made to another Communist country. What the two gentlemen attempted to do was this: In circumstances in which the political interests of both those countries were involved, they sought the support of those countries to interfere, in the first case, with legal processes that were taking place in Australia by means of a royal commission, and in the second case m the operations of the Australian Wheat Board which is appointed by the Government and which genuinely represents the wheat interests of this country. In the case of the sale of wheat, the Chairman of the Board says that this can have most unfortunate consequences. I agree with that and, as 1 said before, the People’s Republic of China does pride itself on its sound inter-State relationships, lt will be strange if on this occasion they turn round and do something quite inconsistent with their policies.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that the Minister for Trade and Industry is to lead a team of wheat lumpers to the People’s Republic of China to take part in a contest lumping Canadian wheat in Peking and that the Prime Minister will later lead a squash team to the People’s Republic of China? I remind Government supporters who are trying to interject that we must frame our questions in a manner similar to that in which the Prime Minister has been answering. We must keep them to his level.
-Order! The honourable member will not make comment.
– Does he believe that something even more significant should be done to improve Australia’s relations with China, not only because this is important in selling wheat, wool and other products, but also for peace in the world? If so, will he say what he intends to do to improve Australia’s relations with China?
– This is a heaven-sent opportunity to enable me to give the kind of answer I have been wanting to give during the whole of question time as to our general relationship with the People’s Republic of China. I. did say in answer to a question that, so far as the movement of Australian people to the People’s Republic was concerned, we would not interfere and do not place any obstruction unless there is a security requirement. If an application is made by a citizen of the People’s Republic the same principles are involved. Our trade with the People’s Republic of China, unless it comes within the strategic list or special military requirements, is free. The Government has made a decision, the details of which will be announced shortly by my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry, that we intend to liberalise our trade with that country. I repeat that the details will be decided by him in cooperation with the various interested departments.
Similarly, in sporting activities and cultural activities our action is the same. To my personal knowledge, the Peking Opera was invited to come to Australia as a cultural operation. But unfortunately the theatre to which they were to go was closed and they were not able to come. We are agreeable that sporting teams should go to China, subject to security requirements. If the Chinese like to send a sporting team here, subject to security requirements, of course we would welcome it. In other words, we want the People’s Republic to show that it is willing to become a member of the international community and act responsibly. This does not mean to say that we have moved quickly; nor, for that matter, has the United States moved quickly on interstate relationships. Mr Nixon - this has not been made public in the Australian Press, but it should be - has decided that his recent liberalisation programme for the People’s Republic, which by the way is nowhere near as liberal as ours, has nothing whatsoever to do with inter-State relationships.
In other words, it is premature in the United States’ view to consider the problem of recognition of the People’s Republic of China or, for that matter, to make decisions about the admission of the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations. In that respect the policies of the United States are identical with ours - not that we have moved together, but we have consulted fairly freely. Our attitude to admission is that, first and foremost, we want to protect the interests of Taiwan China and, secondly, we want to ensure that we take it step by step and methodically. We believe that the immediate problem is admission rather than recognition.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the imprisonment of 5 women in Melbourne following demonstration activities in and around the Princes Gate Melbourne office of the Department of Labour and National Service and to a subsequent demonstration involving the honourable member for Lalor in the same office yesterday. Has the Minister seen the statement by the honourable member for Lalor that he and other demonstrators did everything, and more, that the 5 women did and that he was subject to cynical and corrupt discrimination in not being similarly dealt with? Would the Minister indicate to the House what are the facts and whether the statement by the honourable member for Lalor accurately reflects the situation? Has the honourable member for Lalor established, as he claims, the right of freedom of movement in the office, or is this the usual grandstanding of the honourable member for Lalor?
– That is a reflection, surely.
– You can raise objection if you want to.
– Mr Speaker, I suggest that you should have called up or halted the honourable member in his question when he referred to another honourable member in such disparaging terms. I submit that honourable members should not have to draw your attention to it. If you had been paying attention you would have spotted it yourself.
-Order! The honourable member will not make any reflection on the Chair. As a matter of fact, I did notice the word ‘grandstanding’ and I took the view that in this House, which is not a kindergarten, in the context in which the word was used and in view of some of the debates and some of the statements that are made by people on both sides of the House, the word ‘grandstanding* is really very mild indeed.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. A moment ago you warned that if any honourable member was to interject again you would have him removed. The honourable gentleman from Mitchell has interjected-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Well, where is your standard?
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I am not aware of what the honourable member for Lalor has achieved. He has certainly not achieved freedom of movement in the office and if anything can be said at this time it is that what the honourable member for Lalor has achieved is to structure in this country a threat to freedom of movement in the office by his delibertae confrontation with civil authority and with duly constituted law and order as determined by government. I believe it would be wise for the House to reflect upon this situation. Many persons in Australia have a legitimate purpose in calling at offices of my Department but as a consequence of the activities of the honourable gentleman and his demonstrator colleagues a situation now obtains in this country where officers of my Department are subject to considerable difficulty in the processing of normal applications from persons who have a legitimate reason to be in my offices. On many occasions in the past and recently officers of my Department have been subjected to considerable abuse and intimidation by the colleagues of the honourable gentleman.
I wonder where the Leader of the Opposition stands in relation to these activities. Certainly he is most silent when these matters are a talking point in the public forums of this country. Either he does not agree with his colleague’s actions, or, if he does, his comment is made in such a surreptitious manner as to allow no mention of it to be made in the Australian’ electorate. The honourable member for La Trobe asked me specifically whether the honourable member for Lalor was correct when in Melbourne recently he said that his activities had exceeded those of the 5 women who served a term of imprisonment. According to the terms of a statement issued in Melbourne by the honourable gentleman he was not dealt with in similar terms to the 5 women and because of the absence of similar treatment, to use his words, there was cynicism in the application of the law. I think the word ‘corruption’ was used. I am informed by senior officers of my Department that the situation depicted by the honourable member for Lalor is a distortion and a misrepresentation of the facts because his misadventure at the office of the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne on Monday was very different from those of the 5 women concerned. That fact ought to be made clear.
– -In what way?
Mi LYNCH - 1 speak having regard to reports provided by senior officers who were involved. Firstly, the honourable gentleman was not sitting on the floor or in the lift as was the case with the 5 women concerned. In the second place, I understand that the honourable gentleman was not heard to be issuing vulgarities as one of the women involved was so heard.
– The honourable gentleman may laugh but I wonder how he would feel if he was called a Fascist pig; if he was a man who had served his country and all it stands for in the sense of a democracy. He might well regard that as an insult to his very integrity. Let honourable gentlemen opposite be critical of Ministers or of this Government but not of officers of my Department because they are trained civil servants who should not be the subject of the abuse and criticism which so constantly come from honourable members on the other side. The third factor in drawing attention to the distinction between the two situations is, I understand, that after a discussion with the Regional Director of my office in Melbourne the honourable gentleman agreed to leave, and he did so in a peaceful manner. That was not the case with the 5 women; they refused to leave.
– That part is completely wrong. There was no agreement.
-Order! If the honourable member for Lalor wishes to make a personal explanation he will have an opportunity to do so at the appropriate time but he should not interject at this stage.
– The final point I wish to emphasise in drawing attention to the difference between the two situations is that the honourable gentleman was, I understand, asked to leave. If he was not asked to leave he in fact left. The women concerned were asked to leave. They did not leave. They were subsequently dealt with under the legislation of the Victorian Parliament. These facts stand for themselves and, frankly, require no elaboration. Many members of the general public in this country have legitimate reasons to visit the offices of my Department or other Commonwealth departments. They should be so allowed to visit those offices without frustration and without hindrance, and we will ensure that that case is certainly maintained.
– I seek leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) has purported to give an account to the House of events that occurred in February when 5 women were arrested in or near the lift near the entrance to the Department of Labour and National Service on the tenth floor of the Princes Gate building in Melbourne and of events which occurred yesterday morning. Much of the account given by the Minister is, to my own knowledge, incorrect. Had many of the things that he said been true, they undoubtedly would have led to different consequences. In the first place, the 5 women concerned were charged with trespass, an offence which was created recently under an amendment to the Summary Offences Act in Victoria.
– That is not so.
– They were charged with trespass under that Act, and the magistrate said so. The magistrate in the case went to the extent of saying that the Parliament of Victoria had recently expressed its views of the seriousness of the nature of this offence and that was why he was imposing a sentence of 14 days without any alternative of a fine. If the women concerned had been sitting in the lift or in the passageway, as mentioned by the Minister, or if they had used any of the language that he mentioned, undoubtedly there would have been additional charges. As far as my inquiries of those concerned, of the Press and of others who attended the court can reveal, there was no suggestion in the evidence of the prosecution that any of the matters mentioned by the Minister took place. I have made my own inquiries to ascertain exactly what did happen when those women went there. I have not been able to discover any suggestion that any of the things mentioned by the Minister occurred.
Indeed, I asked the Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service yesterday morning whether he had any objection to what the women had done, and he said no. He told me that the action had not been taken against them as the result of anything for which he was responsible, lt seems to me very strange that the Regional Director could give me that impression yesterday morning in his own office and the Minister - who is a politician - can stand at the table of this House today and give a completely different impression. The Regional Director is not a politician. As the Minister said, he is a public servant. The Minister is a politician, trying to do his best today to aspire to a higher position in the Liberal Party.
– Withdraw that.
– Withdraw that? The Government will have to see about withdrawing the Minister. It is responsible for those who reach higher positions in the Liberal Party,
– You have been abusing your position in society and you are abusing it now.
– Well, you have been abusing question time all day. You are the last man in this House to talk about abusing anything.
-Order! I suggest to the 2 gentlemen, the one seated and the one standing at the table, that any remarks they have to make should be made through the Chair.
– 1 want to say something about the events of yesterday morning. As a result of the imprisonment of those women for 14 days for a trivial, insignificant offence, as far as I could discover - and nothing that the Minister has said today in any way contradicts that - I decided that from the point of view of civil rights and civil liberties this was going too far. A citizen should have the right to band out a piece of paper in the office of the Department of Labour and National Service where thousands of young men are compelled to go against their will and register for national service, a service with which they do not agree. There should be an equal right for a citizen peacefully and inoffensively to hand out pieces of paper, leaflets, to people whom they want to inform in that way. The Regional Director informed me yesterday that his office had no objection to that. For 2i hours I and four others proceeded to hand out those pieces of paper in the office of the Department of Labour and National Service, in the hall leading into that office, in and around the lift, on other floors, outside in front and in every part of the building. As far as I can make out, we did exactly what those 5 women did.
– Did you sit on the floor?
– No, and there is no evidence that they ever sat on the floor. It was never mentioned in court. I made inquiries yesterday in the office of the Department of Labour and National Service and I heard no complaints or suggestions about this. Nor did I hear any suggestions that the words ‘Fascist pigs’ were used by anybody. I think it is a very poor thing that at a time when these proceedings are being broadcast all over Australia a responsible Minister in a national government is willing to say things that were never given in evidence in court against those women and which were never suggested to me yesterday by officers of his own Department when I asked what complaints they had about these women. I have serious doubts about the credibility of the Minister on this point.
I was at the Department of Labour and National Service for 2i hours yesterday and J covered far more of the building than the women did. I was handing out leaflets far more extensively than they did and was continually in and out of the office of the Department. At no stage was any action taken against me. At no stage did 1 say I would leave. I left when 1 was ready, to be replaced by 5 others to continue the activity, which went on all day yesterday and which is going on all day today. If that has not cleared the way for the distribution of leaflets inside and outside the Department of Labour and National Service - which, in February and just before Easter, was a criminal offence punishable by 14 days imprisonment - I do not know what has. Nothing that the Minister has said has suggested that there has not been discrimination in this matter, when 5 women whom somebody thought they could intimidate along with a lot of others were imprisoned for 14 days for the purpose of intimidating them and when, for some special reason or other - whether it be political or some kind of view that one can go too far - no action was taken against me. A leading article in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ last week suggested that this matter should not be pushed any further. It may be a little politically unpopular to push it further.
I believe that there is a law for one set of people in this country and a law for the others. That is the way the law is applied, particularly in this field in connection with which I have had a question on notice for weeks now. It refers to 34,000 young men - not a few - who have failed to register for national service. Only six of them have been selected to be imprisoned for 2 years. That is not justice. Six of them have been selected. Why? To intimidate the rest, to try to make them come into line. The figures I have mentioned in my question on notice, which the Minister has failed to answer for weeks and weeks, indicate that of the 34,000 who failed to register 23,000 were found after inquiry to have committed no offence. What a high degree of probability there is of not committing an offence if one fails to register for national service in Australia. Another 8,000 were found after investigation to have explanations that were accepted by the Government. But six of them had to go to gaol for 2 years. The figures also indicate that 7,800 have been under investigation for more than 3 months and 2,600 have been under investigation for less than 1 month. How many people are investigating those nearly 11,000 cases? How long is it going to take to finish the investigations? What an enormous field of discrimination, choice and selection there is in the Government’s application of selective malice, as the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) put it today. The last thing that the Minister for Labour and National Service should do in this House is to attempt to make political capital out of the selective application of a law that comes under his administration.
– by leave - This statement describes an employment training scheme to give vocational training to workers displaced by technological change who may need training to convert their existing skills into skills required for alternative service. The introduction of such a scheme was anticipated during the election campaign of 1969. Technological change has been a continuing phenomenon in all nations since the beginning of industrialisation. It is a major determinant of productivity improvement and hence of material wealth, and the speed of its application by different nations has distinguished the more advanced and wealthy industrialised nations from those less advanced. The significant new characteristic of technological development that is now commanding attention is the rather dramatic increase in the rate of change that has become evident during the last decade or so. Undoubtedly, this owes much to the discovery of new materials and to the tremendous impetus of research in the physical sciences in the modern space age.
It is inevitable that the rate of change will have an impact on our society; new values and new attitudes will be required at work, at home, and in our institutional life. Although this scheme by itself touches on only one aspect of technological change, it is a necessary adjustment implicit in the maintenance of a full employment economy, namely, the transfer of people from redundant jobs requiring one set of skills to emerging jobs requiring different sets of skills. The purpose of the scheme is to provide training in certain circumstances for persons whose jobs are adversely affected by a direct technological change in the organisation where they are employed. The scheme has the support of the National Labour Advisory Council, whose membership includes representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and of employer organisations.
Direct technological change may occur in a wide variety of forms although most changes fall within the following categories: Mechanisation of particular operations or procedures within offices or factories; the introduction of new laboursaving equipment for materials handling; the introduction of new or changed technical processes that eliminate particular operations; and the introduction of substitute materials that require new or changed treatments. It is possible, of course, that equipment could be introduced in one location of a decentralised organisation and so affect jobs within the organisation at locations miles apart. An obvious illustration is a computer that centralises accounts. Such a change will be regarded as a direct technological change in the work place.
Negative effects of technological change on employment in general have been relatively limited to date. In a sense, therefore, this scheme can be described as precautionary should circumstances alter drastically. More immediately, however, the scheme deals with current circumstances in which some individual people have faced problems of the types illustrated in the following examples. A person may have to move his place of residence to a locality close enough to what he regards as suitable employment for his existing skills, for example, as happened with some specialised railway tradesmen when steam engines were replaced by diesels. Or he may have to change his occupation to one where the take-home pay with his existing skills is considerably less than he previously earned, either because less overtime work is offering or because the job rate is lower or both, for example, as happened with some jobs on the waterfront affected by bulk loading, mechanisation and so on. Or in order to continue the use of his present skills he may have to accept employment involving excessive daily travel, for example, when an accountant in a decentralised unit is faced with transfer to another unit when the head office of his organisation introduces a computer. Or a person having changed his job for another with his present employer, or with another employer, may subsequently find it unsuitable for understandable personal reasons, for example, as happened with some specialised clerks who, after the introduction of a computer, transferred to outdoor selling type jobs with the same organisation or elsewhere. These and like circumstances will be recognised as causing difficulty in obtaining alternative suitable employment and will create eligibility for training under this scheme.
On the other hand, people change their place of employment or occupation for many reasons other than as a result of a direct technological change in their place of work. By definition the scheme will not be available to them. Excluded, for example, will be persons who change their jobs voluntarily for personal reasons, those declared redundant by decisions, following takeover action or changes in market conditions, to rationalise organisations or close down particular production sections or factories, and those retrenched from organisations because of the indirect effects of technological change elsewhere in the economy. For people affected by technological change the scheme will bring opportunities to acquire new skills relevant to modern technology, lt should also help to reduce workers concern about technological change in blue collar employment and, particularly, in the white collar field where the computer is seen as a threat to employment.
Applications for training will be invited from men and women who, as a result of technological change introduced directly into the organisation employing them, have been retrenched or downgraded to a job of lesser status with their present employer, have accepted from another employer a job which they subsequently find unsuitable, or are under formal notice of retrenchment or transfer. Applicants must be without prospects of immediate alternative suitable employment, but they may elect to accept or to continue in what they regard as an unsuitable job while they undertake part-time training for a different occupation. The scheme will be operative from 1st July 1971. Applications for training must be submitted within 6 months of the date of dismissal, or of the receipt of formal notice of retrenchment, or of transfer to an unsuitable job. To avoid duplication, persons who are eligible for training under any more advantageous government training scheme, for example, national servicemen, widows of exservicemen and so on, will not be taken into training under this scheme unless there are special extenuating circumstances. My Department will advise inquirers of the benefits of alternative training schemes.
There will be an unrestricted choice of occupations for which eligible persons can seek training, subject to 2 qualifications: First, the training involved must be capable of completion within the maximum training period which will be specified later in this statement. Second, there must be a known continuing demand for workers in the elected occupation, and my Department must be satisfied that employment within reasonable travelling distance of the person’s chosen place of residence will be available immediately after the completion of training. Most applicants for training are likely to come from the clerical occupations or semi-skilled manual occupations, or from jobs requiring relatively lesser skills. It is to be noted, however, that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has agreed that eligible tradesmen may train under this scheme for another trade if the training can be completed within the approved training period and if the trade union covering the new occupation con curs. Consistent with clause 10 of International Labour Organisation, Recommendation 117 ‘Recommendation Concerning Vocational Training’, persons completing a training course will be assisted by the Commonwealth Employment Service ‘in obtaining work corresponding to the skill and knowledge they have acquired, the free choice of the place of work being guaranteed’. To facilitate this undertaking, applicants for training must register with the CES for employment, or improved positions, before the selection process has been completed.
Flexibility will be a feature of the training arrangements. Eligible persons may apply for an existing formal course at an approved technical school or vocational training institution, and training of this type may be undertaken either full time, part time or by correspondence. Alternatively, eligible persons may apply for on the job training with an approved employer, or for a combination of on the job training and a formal course where an appropriate course is available.
Approval of Institutions and Employers as Trainers
An approved training institution or employer within the meaning of this scheme is one nominated by the potential trainee as his desired trainer. Approval, however, will not be automatic. In the course of discussion with the potential trainee or as a result of investigating a training application, the Department might recommend to the applicant a change of nomination. In other words, institutions and employers will not be given any initiative to gain recognition as ‘approved’ and hence will not be in a position to use the scheme, or to obtain any payments under the scheme, for training and costs which ordinarily would have been incurred as part of their normal recruitment and training arrangements for new staff.
In common with existing schemes, relatively short-term training is envisaged and should generally be capable at completion within twelve months. Applications for longer training, up to a maximum of a further twelve months, will be considered by an advisory committee lo be appointed. Representatives of the appropriate trade union and employer organisations will, among others, be invited to join the committee. Where entry to a training programme depends on additional educational qualifications, applications for the tuition necessary to acquire the pre-requisite qualifications may be considered up to a maximum of 1 year. This extra tuition period will be additional to the maximum period allowed for actual training.
Applications for Training Applications are expected from both blue and white collar workers in all parts of Australia. To provide for adequate national coverage, including the remoter areas, application forms will be readily available from a variety of sources including offices of trade unions and of employer organisations, and any office of the Commonwealth Employment Service.
Employment Assistance on Completion of Training
Persons completing a training course will be assisted by the Commonwealth Employment Service in obtaining work corresponding to the skill and knowledge they have acquired.
Training costs will be borne by the Government and other financial assistance, including training allowances, will be available.
Adult male trainees in full-time courses of study at an approved technical or vocational institution will be eligible for a training allowance to a maximum of $46.20 per week. Women, and trainees who are minors, will receive the award rate of pay for their previous occupations, provided no allowance made cm this scale exceeds $46.20 per week. This allowance will be subject to an income test. If a trainee who receives, in the period during which the allowance is available, earnings from employment other than vacation-time employment, the amount of the allowance payable each week will be reduced by the amount of those earnings. In common with other Commonwealth training schemes, fees will be paid in full for formal courses at approved technical or vocational training institutions, and costs will be met for examinations and evidence of qualifications. There will be a maximum allowance for books and equipment of $80, and fares to and from the training institution will be paid. These provisions for fees, book and equipment allowances, and fares cover all courses, whether taken full-time, part-time, or by correspondence. In addition to the training allowance, there will be an additional contribution of $10 weekly for married trainees who may have to live away from home while undertaking full-time training courses not available at a local training institution. This amount is a contribution towards expenses and is not intended to meet actual living costs.
Where in-plant or on-the-job training is arranged a wage subsidy will be payable on a sliding scale to employers on principles incorporated in existing Commonwealth schemes. The wage subsidy provides for reimbursement to approved employers only and is calculated as a proportion of the award wage for age and job classification in respect of each trainee. The subsidy will be payable only to employers providing training at the trainee’s request through the Department, and in accordance with a previously approved time schedule. During training the employer will be required to pay trainees at least the appropriate award wage.
Information on the Scheme
Leaflets describing details of the scheme will be available as from 1st July 1971 from any office or agency of the Commonwealth Employment Service, or they can be obtained by writing to the Regional Director of the Department in each State capital, and to the Officer-in-Charge in Canberra. People wishing to apply for training under the scheme may, after July 1st 1971, obtain information from my Department on training facilities available in the chosen occupation, and on procedures for applying for training under the scheme. The Department’s vocational counselling services are available to all who wish to take advantage of them. I might add that if anybody wishes to enquire about this scheme prior to 1st July he or she may do so at any Employment Office or by writing to my Department or to myself. This scheme will help people at work to adjust to possible effects of technological change on their employment, lt is not expected to eliminate all difficulties which face people as new technologies are introduced. The new working relationships and environments which are an essential part of the introduction of fundamental technology changes require appropriate and realistic adjustments by people at many levels. The training scheme is an essential element in this continuous process of adjustment. The finer details of the scheme are set out in an Appendix to this statement, which, with the concurrence of honourable members, I shall incorporate in Hansard. I present the following paper:
Employment Training Scheme for Persons Displaced by Technological Change - Ministerial Statement.
To enable certain people who lose their employment or whose employment will otherwise be affected as a result of technological change to train for alternative suitable employment.
Persons displaced, or likely to be displaced, from employment by technological change introduced directly into their place of work who (a) are without prospects of immediate alternative suitable employment or (b) before retraining under this Scheme, find their new employment unsuitable.
Normally training programmes approved are expected to be short-term, and generally should be capable of completion within 12 months. Training in individual cases for a longer period, up to a maximum of a further 12 months, is subject to approval by the Minister for Labour and National Service or his delegate advised by the advisory committee. Where entry to a training programme depends on additional educational qualifications, tuition necessary to acquire the additional education may be considered up to a maximum of 1 2 months prior to commencement of the approved training programme.
Applications should be submitted to the Regional Director or Officer-in-Charge of the Department in any capital city by post or through any District Employment Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service. They must be submitted within 6 months of dismissal or of the initial job transfer because of technological change.
Application forms will be available from the Trades Halls in capital cities and major towns, from offices of employer organisations, and from any District Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service.
Selection for training will be subject to eligible applicants -
Training may consist of full-time or part-time (including correspondence) courses from approved training centres, or by a period of on-the-job training with approved employers or, where appropriate, a combination of both.
While undertaking an approved full-time training course at an approved training centre and not available for placement in employment -
While undertaking an approved parttime training (including correspondence) course at an approved training centre and presently in employment -
Reimbursement of a proportion of the appropriate weekly award wage to employers who are providing on-the-job training at the request of, and in accordance with an arrangement with, the Department of Labour and National Service, as follows - 1st 3 months of training - 30 per cent of award rate of pay 2nd 3 months of training - 25 per cent of award rate of pay 3rd 3 months of training - 20 per cent of award rate of pay 4th 3 months of training - 10 per cent of award rate of pay.
Trainees in on-the-job training with an approved employer must be paid not less than the award rate, for age and job classification, by that employer.
The scheme will be administered by the Department of Labour and National Service. An advisory committee which includes representatives of trade unions and employers will keep the scope and provisions of the scheme under review.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)by leave - I must begin by thanking the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) for his courtesy in letting me know several days ago that this statement was to be made. I thank him also for supplying me with a copy of the statement well before he was obliged to do so in accordance with the recognised traditions of the House. The 6 or 7 hours that I have had the speech have enabled me to reply to it immediately on behalf of the Opposition instead of a Minister moving that the House take note of the statement and the matter noted being put at the bottom of the notice paper, perhaps never to be dealt with again. I hope that the Minister’s cooperation on this occasion is a forerunner to the kind of behaviour that we can expect from him. When he was Minister for the Army and again when he was Minister for Immigration, his courteous behaviour was quite notable and was in strong contrast to the arrogance usually displayed by his ministerial colleagues.
As I said in my speech in the debate on productivity, there is just as much need for co-operation and a friendly frankness between the Government and the Opposition in regard to industrial relations as it will be necessary to have those qualities shown by employers and employees if industrial relations in this country are ever to return to the kind and degree of sanity that most of us hope will one day be the order in Australia. The move which the Government has taken in this matter is welcome. It has not been taken as early as I would like to have seen it taken but, of course, that does not surprise me because the Minister’s predecessor was not noted for prompt response. He acted only when he was forced to do so, it seems, by the senior officers of his Department, and apparently even then he would refuse to act, especially when he was supplied with information which was meant to answer questions on notice. He would tamper with such information and see that it was never issued. So it is quite refreshing to have this new approach.
The statement presented by the Minister reads in part:
It is a major determinant of productivity improvement and hence of material wealth, and the speed of its application by different nations has distinguished the more advanced and wealthy industrialised nations from those less advanced.
Of course, that is a statement of well known fact, and it is well that it has been repeated in this Parliament. If this country is to improve its productivity at the rate at which most of us would like to see it improved, we have to iron out some of the bugs in industry that are now making it so difficult to bring about that objective. In the main, increased productivity comes from increased technological change and the automation of industries rather than from the use of more muscle or from harder physical exertion. But if technological change and automation are to cause the displacing of people in industry - if that is to be the price for increased productivity - no-one should be surprised if the trade union movement and the employees of Australia, seeing a great danger arising to their own personal positions, do what they can reasonably be expected to do - and there may not be much they can do - to ensure that the technological advance which is taking place in the world does not affect them in their own positions.
In America this position has been faced reasonably well in most industries and very well in some industries. The more enlightened industries in America accept the fact that where technological advance brings about retrenchment in industry, it is the duty of the industry benefiting from that technological advance to share with the people who are retrenched some of the profits which flow from increased productivity. There are agreements which provide that men who are retrenched are retrenched on full pensions, that is, on pensions equal to their full wages, until they have reached the ordinary retiring age. I think that a wise employer in these circumstances naturally would select only the older employees to be retrenched on pensions equal to their normal rates of pay and would use the efforts sometimes needed to retrain those young men who would continue in employement. Young men would learn more quickly than older men and, having learned, would remain in the employ of the industry for a longer period than would a person whose date of retirement was just around the corner. Nothing like that has ever been attempted in Australia, but one day it will have to come, and certainly it ought to come. Perhaps without the Government realising it, the scheme which the Minister has proposed may be the very first and perhaps the most important step towards seeing that the situation about which I have been speaking arises. Later in the few remarks that 1 intend to make I will show where I think this proposition can be improved.
If it is the Government’s aim to treat every person in Australia as a human being who has loves, who has fears and apprehensions and who has the same ambition for the future of his children as any other human being has, then it will not want to see a person who has only his labour power to sell in this world, suffer simply because he happens to be in an industry which is undergoing technological changes which, as a consequence, throw him out of employment perhaps at the age of 45 years or over when it is nearly impossible for him to get another job. The Government may not want to see his children suffer; it may not want to see his children perhaps commencing their secondary or tertiary education and then having it interrupted because the breadwinner unexpectedly and through no fault of his own is thrown out of employment as a consequence of technological change. There is nothing in the Minister’s statement to indicate that this is not the Government’s aim: on the contrary, subject to some things to which I will refer later, one is entitled to believe that the Government sees the problems about which 1 am speaking. If this is the Government’s aim it will have to try to meet the situation by ensuring that the least possible injury is occasioned to the men and women who are affected by the things about which I am now speaking.
I think that more should be done by the Government - and here again, the Minister for Labour and National Service will have to pilot such a proposition to fruition - in hearings before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to support propositions submitted by the trade union movement concerning the principle of severance money. Some unions are already getting severance money for their members, but wherever they succeed they receive far too little. The Government should examine the system which operates in the United States of America relative to severance money and particularly what happens in the United States relative to the payment of a pension, for the rest of an employee’s working life, at a rate equal to his normal wages, in order to see how far the Commission can be persuaded to adopt this system as a normal method for dealing with retrenchment caused by technological advances.
No industry will introduce a technological change unless it is satisfied that the cost of introduction will be justified by increased productivity and higher profit. When industries are making this assessment they should be required to take into account not merely the cost of the machine - the computer or whatever it is that is involved in the technological change - but also the incidental expenses involved in meeting severance payments and the question of seeing that the employees who are retrenched are retrained and relocated. I note that the Minister proposes that in some instances make-up money should be paid by the Commonwealth in order to bring the total salary of the person being retrained into line with the award rate for the job in which he is being retrained. That is quite good, and I commend the Government for taking that step. However I am not certain that it should be the Government’s responsibility to meet the difference between the training salary and the award rate. That is another matter which, I suppose in due course will have to be ironed out. But the Government’s proposal is a move in the right direction, lt recognises the fact that in this day and age we have reached the point of civilisation where we are concerned with quality of life and human happiness. We are concerning ourselves more and more with the human happiness not only of certain sections of the community but of everybody. We are regarding all sections of the community as having an equal right to enjoy human happiness.
In his statement the Minister said:
The significant new characteristic of technological development that is now commanding attention is the rather dramatic increase in the rate of change during the last decade or so that has become evident.
Here again no-one can disagree with what the Minister said. However, the demand for increased productivity will accelerate the rate of change, and dramatic though the change has been over the last 10 years, it will be even more dramatic over the next 5 years. The change will be so dramatic that the need for meeting its incidental effects will become greater than ever. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if the change over the next 5 years is not very much more dramatic than it has been over the last 10 years we will have failed in the race for increased productivity. We have to get into the race because increased productivity is the thing that very shortly will determine which countries stay in world markets and which ones fade out. In Australia, where we are not economically viable and where we will have to continue to import enormous quantities of goods and a great variety of commodities and essentials, we have to be able to produce in order to pay for the things which we will have to import, otherwise the whole standards of living, as we now see them, will gradually slip back.
The Japanese nation has increased its productivity at an alarming rate, as has West Germany, but curiously enough in those countries the increased profit that flows from productivity, and the rate of increase in wages, are producing a situation in which the gap between increased wages and increased productivity is growing narrower instead of wider as it is here. In this country it seems that the more we produce and the greater the rate of productivity and consequent profitability., the wider becomes the gap between profits and wages. Today we have a gross national product of $30,000m, of which amount not much more than one-half goes to the 44 million salary and wage employees who constitute the Australian work force, leaving to the balance the right to share almost half the total, lt is this sort of distorted ratio between profits and wages which is having such a deleterious effect upon the efforts of us all to increase our rate of productivity. The Minister went on to say:
It is inevitable that the rate of change will have an impact on our society; new values and new attitudes will bc required at work, at home and in our institutional life.
Of course, this is beyond contradiction; noone cun deny it. Craft demand in the old sense of the word is diminishing; specialist, scientific and technological skills are in greater demand than ever before. Fitters and turners in some automated industries need nowhere near the degree of skill and versatility that fitters and turners needed in industry 30 years ago. So much of industry now is automated that although a fitter and turner may be required to become very proficient at one particular task he may spend the whole of his life doing that and nothing more, whereas in the olden days a filter and turner had lo know today how to turn up a bush, tomorrow how to drill a key hole and the next day something quite different. Imagine the fitters and turners employed in the Rolls Royce industry 40 years ago and compare the versatility and enormous skill they had to possess to keep their jobs with that required by the fitters and turners who work on the assembly lines of Rolls Royce today - and who still make Rolls Royce engines perhaps as well as they were made 40 years ago, well enough in any event to allow their company to retain the proud distinction of producing the best machine that the world has yet been able to produce.
– The honourable member is right. They have to be able to understand complicated machines but, in the main, that is the point I was making. Perhaps I have not made it very well. Engineers, fitters and turners are not the ones who understand these complicated machines; the technological experts, technicians, and sometimes even scientists are the ones who operate these very complicated machines, rather than fitters and turners. I thank the honourable member for his interjection because I feel sure it was made to help me bring out the point ( may not have made clearly enough. The Minister then went on to say that an obvious illustration of what will happen with technological change is to be found with computers. He said that computers now centralise accounts, and so they do. White collar workers will be more affected in the immediate future by computers than blue collar workers. White collar workers are certainly being more affected by computerisation now than blue collar workers are being affected by automation, (n addition there is a further difference, in that white collar workers today are finding it more difficult to get alternative employment than blue collar workers; fortunately at the moment, as blue collar workers are displaced by automation in one industry they are, due to the state of the labour market, able to find alternative employment. But this is not a situation which we should bank on continuing forever. It may not continue forever and the Minister is wise in taking now this precautionary step, as he describes it, so that he will not be caught unprepared if the demand for labour suddenly eases off, which is a situation which could easily develop. The scheme is precautionary, and should circumstances alter drastically, at least the Government will be in a position to start from the base it is now building. The Minister made a point on which 1 would like to comment when he said:
A person may have to move his place of residence to a locality close enough to what he regards as suitable employment for his existing skills, for example, as happened with some specialised railway tradesmen when steam engines were replaced by diesels.
This is a very good example in the blue collar field of how technological change affected the people to whom he refers, but it also reminds me that it was not only fitters and turners who were affected by this. On the Commonwealth railways long distances had to be travelled and with the steam engine it was necessary to refuel frequently and fill up with water. Consequently Commonwealth Railways had to station train crews along the Nullarbor Plain so as to relieve drivers as each engine completed its allotted course. This is no longer necessary with dieselisation. The rest houses have been done away with and engine drivers now drive much greater distances than they previously did.
The Minister said that by definition the scheme will not be available to people who change jobs. I can understand this precaution being taken but I hope that it will not be taken in a draconic way so that no sympathy will be given to a worker who may foresee technological changes occurring and who may at that point of time have an opportunity of getting a suitable job which would not be there if he waited until he was actually retrenched as a consequence of the change that he could see coming. The Minister goes on to say:
Excluded, for example, will be persons who change their jobs voluntarily for personal reasons, those declared redundant by decisions, following take-over action or changes in market conditions, to rationalise organisations or close down particular production sections or factories, and those retrenched from organisations because of the indirect effects of technological change elsewhere in the economy.
I regret that these people are to be excluded. At least some of them should not be excluded. 1 can understand the Government saying: ‘Even though we may like the idea, we cannot afford and have not the resources available for the retraining of every person who wants to change his job because so many people do want to change their jobs’. But surely when a person becomes redundant because of a takeover of an industry and, through no fault of his own and with no intention or desire on his part, finds that the job he is doing is no longer available, he should not be debarred from receiving the assistance which this scheme contemplates. The Minister also said:
For people affected by technological change the scheme will bring opportunities to acquire new skills relevant to modern technology.
I have spoken already about what is happening in the United States where people who are redundant because of technological changes are retired on a pension equal to their full salary. They are reemployed any time their services are needed. They are re-employed if employees are on sick leave or on annual leave. Perhaps this is the least that some of the more well-to-do industries should try to emulate. The Minister said:
Applications for training will be invited from men and women who, as a result of technological change introduced directly . . .
I take exception to that phrase. The Minister continued: . . into the organisation employing there, have been retrenched or downgraded to a job of lesser status.
What will happen in a company which, as a consequence of technological change, is in a position to take over another company and which, through technological changes in production methods, is able to make redundant all those employed in the company which it has taken over? Surely that kind of redundancy is as much the direct result of technological change as is any other kind of redundancy. The Minister continued:
Applicants must be without prospects of immediate alternative suitable employment.
Suitable employment’ is almost an abstract term; its meaning could be almost subjective. If the definition of ‘suitable employment’ is not too vague and uncertain, I see no great exception to the provision because, as I said earlier, a person cannot expect to have the right to be retrained and relocated simply because he wants to take up another position, perhaps no different to his present position, which carries a few cents extra pay or which is closer to the school which his children attend or to some other facility that would make the position more convenient. That h not the intention of the scheme.
I do not think 6 months is long enough to give a person to decide whether bs wants to take advantage of the scheme. I would like to think that when a person was retrenched it would be quite possible for him to try 2 or 3 different jobs before being retrained. When a person reaches middle age, the thought of having to be retrained is frightening. People who are retrenched should be given longer than the 6 months proposed here to make up their minds whether suitable employment is available. The Minister said:
To avoid duplication, persons who are eligible for training under any more advantageous government training scheme, for example, national service, widows of ex-servicemen and so on, will not be taken into training under this scheme.
The comment I make here is that the Government’s scheme should not be inferior to other schemes. I would hope that the Government’s scheme would be at least equal to the best scheme we have already for retraining people; for example, schemes for retraining widows or people from the Services. Under this scheme the Government proposes that there will be an unrestricted choice of occupations for which eligible persons may seek training, subject to 2 qualifications. Firstly, the training involved must be capable of completion within the maximum training period. That is 1 year with, in special circumstances, the right to have an additional year’s extension. I put to the Government that, in the field of white collar work, where computerisation is playing such havoc with the number of people being employed, white collar workers cannot be easily retrained for a blue collar job. lt may be necessary, and it may be a good thing for the community, for the period of retraining to be extended. Women who were being displaced could be trained as nurses or as teachers because there is a great shortage of nurses and teachers. These women are not incapable of being trained as teachers or nurses. To limit the retraining period to 1 year, with an extension of 1 year, is, I think, quite unreal.
The Government says it must be satisfied that employment within reasonable travelling distance of the person’s chosen place of residence will be available immediately after the completion of training. Apparently, if there is no reasonable opportunity of getting employment in close proximity to the person’s place of residence, that person will be disqualified from the retraining which the scheme proposes. Why does the Government not do what it has been forced to do already in the stevedoring industry, where not only retraining but also relocation was an issue? It will be necessary to relocate some people. The Government should be thinking of relocation for reasons other than redundancy. If it allows our big cities to get bigger it will have no hope of dealing with environmental problems. The Government should be thinking of new cities and new towns, as governments in Britain and in many other parts of the world have had to do. Relocation not only of the home but also of industries becomes necessary. Encouragement should be given to the relocation of industries. In Italy, for example, relocation of industries has been encouraged by the granting of taxation exemptions. In southern Italy now new industries are being set up. Calabria is a classic example.
Alfa Romeo has set up a big industry only because of the taxation exemptions which it got by spreading or decentralising its industry. The Government should be thinking of adopting similar measures so that as people are displaced and retrained they can be relocated.
I deal now with the matter of automatic approval. The Minister said that approval will not be automatic. I can see 2 arguments in relation to this matter. For example, we could not agree with the proposition that a poorly equipped technical school should be given automatic approval for retraining if nearby there was another technical school which was well equipped. To grant approval to the poorly equipped school would be absurd. If all the proposition had in mind was to guard against cases such as that, no-one could object to it. On the other hand, it may be a good thing if the Government let it be known that an institution which is prepared to go to the special trouble of catering for retraining programmes and which introduces special teaching devices for those programmes, would be given automatic recognition. We should say: ‘If you care to take the trouble and go to the expense of equipping your institution for the retraining of people who have become redundant, the Government is prepared to grant automatic recognition of your institution’. At least this would have the advantage of giving the institution concerned the opportunity to plan ahead, knowing that it would not be caught in the future with great and extensive programmes for retraining and with no people to apply them to.
I come again, as I must, to the short period that the Government has set aside for retraining - 12 months, with a possible extension of another 12 months. This is far too short a period for some cases. Earlier I mentioned teachers and nurses. But why cannot people who are prepared to take on part-time training be given the right to continue working in their usual industries, or in other industries, and do part-time courses in law, architecture or engineering? I have a friend in Adelaide, a young English migrant who came to Australia many years ago. He worked in a factory and did a part-time law course. After about 7 or 8 years he qualified, was admitted to the Bar and did exceptionally well. He was not a freak. He is typical of the ordinary, above average working man who can be found in scores and scores of industries today in Australia. We ought to recognise this fact. We ought not to treat as zombies people working in factories, or white collar workers employed as clerks, just because they happen to be engaged in those particular occupations. Many of them are in those jobs because opportunities were not available for them to do anything different.
The Minister went on to say:
Where entry to a training programme depends on additional educational qualifications, applications for the tuition necessary to acquire the pre-requisite qualifications may be considered up to a maximum of one year.
Surely that period of time is too short. Consider the case of a person who wanted to join the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. He would have no chance of getting into it until he matriculated. How can anybody expect to matriculate, no matter how bright he may have been at primary school level, in one year? Ye» that is what we would have to do if he wanted to gain any advantage from this scheme that we are talking about. I note that application forms for this retraining will be available through trade union offices. I am pleased to notice this. Although the Minister did not mention it, I hope that brochures explaining the scheme also will be available through trade union offices.
– I thank the Minister. This is quite a good thing. The Minister went on to make this point:
Persons completing a training course will be assisted by the Commonwealth Employment Service in obtaining work corresponding to the skill and knowledge they have acquired.
That is good, but will the Government guarantee that in these cases the re-employment will be at the proper award rates? I imagine it would because later in his statement the Minister alluded to this. He continued:
Training costs will be borne by the Government and other financial assistance, including training allowances, will be available.
At a later stage the Minister said that the maximum amount that will be allowed for books is $80. and that the trainees will be allowed fares to and from the training institutions. But he did not say that they will receive fares - indeed, rather did he say that they will not - in cases in which married trainees have to live away from home while undertaking full time training courses. I will use as an illustration the case of a married man in Port Augusta because I know the South Australian geography better. What will happen to a man employed at the Port Augusta railway workshops who is thrown out of work because of automation or some change in technology and who has to go to Adelaide, more than 200 miles away, to be retrained? Will he have to remain there for the full period of training, which is a year at least, without returning to his young wife in Port Augusta? If not, how often can he return to his wife? Who will pay the fares involved? He would not be able to afford to pay the fare out of his own wages because under this scheme he will not be allowed any more than $46.20 a week and he will be allowed only $10 a week for board and out of pocket expenses while in Adelaide. How on earth is this man going to carry out his marital duties if he is not permitted some reimbursement for fares?
– Someone will starve.
– Probably the man will have to starve because man does not live by bread alone. Probably that is what would happen eventually. I notice that the subsidy will be payable only to employers providing training at the trainee’s request through the Department. I hope that the approval of the union concerned will be sought. It would be a terrible thing if an employer noted for breaches of an award and for victimisation of union members were to be one of the people approved under this scheme. I hope also that one of the things that the Department of Labour and National Service will do - this is elementary - is to insist that persons undergoing training become members of the appropriate union. Nothing causes more disturbance in an industry than to have working in it people who will not join the appropriate union. More manhours are lost each year over disputes not involving wages than over wage disputes, and the majority of non-wage disputes relate to managerial policy. Close behind the number of man hours lost in that way is the number lost through demarcation disputes and the refusal of people to join unions. The Minister nodded approvingly of that statement and I hope he will look into this to ensure that a good scheme does not founder on this weakness or the failure to forecast the possible dangers that it could cause.
I think the Minister was a realist when he said that the scheme ‘is not expected to eliminate all difficulties which face people as new technologies are introduced’. That is true; it will not eliminate all of them but it will eliminate most of them. Perhaps the vast majority will be eliminated if the Minister continues to keep the open mind which it appears he had when he took over this portfolio. He will have to resist the pressures that will come from the National Employers Policy Committee which his predecessor did not resist. Rather it seems that his predecessor egged that committee on. The Minister will have to say to it: ‘I appreciate the money you have given our Party at election times. It has been very helpful. But if we are to stay in office we cannot appear to be offering a deaf ear altogether to the trade union movement.’ His predecessor did not do that. He seemed to think that you can win elections with donations to campaign funds. The trouble is that dollars do not vote, people do. That is what the Minister ought to remember.
– by leave- 1 thank the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) for allowing me to say a few words about this matter. Unlike my colleague and friend the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), the first 1 knew of the details of the statement was when it was distributed after the Minister began speaking this afternoon. I want to comment on that point. I think this method of distributing a statement is an extremely good one. lt is over a year now since I wrote to the former Prime Minister, now the Minister for Defence (Mr Gorton), and asked whether - and there had been one precedent for this since f entered this place - statements could not be distributed in the House when the relevant Minister rose to speak. I said that it helped one’s comprehension much more to be able to go through the statement in detail as the Minister made it to the House. On a later occasion when I had an opportunity to speak to the then Prime Minister, I reminded him of my letter. He said that he had received it and told me that very shortly he would be acting on it because this was the procedure in the Senate. But I think this is the first occasion on which the action has been taken. In thanking the Minister for this, 1 ask him to pass my comments on to the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz), who is not here now, and also to suggest to him that there is no reason why this should not be done in every case.
It is not just because this has been done that I have something to say on this occasion. The Minister will be glad to learn that I do not intend to go through the statement in detail. But I do take this opportunity to protest that we are not given the opportunity to debate this important statement. In dealing with this statement we are dealing only with technological change. 1 maintain that the country has tremendous problems at the present time in respect of all sorts of changes which are not covered in this statement. The greatest of all, of course, is what is happening in the countryside. It would seem that if we are to be honest with the people of Australia who live in the bush we will have to admit that the transfer of people into urban centres will continue. We hope that if we can get a government that will do something about decentralisation instead of talking about it-
– Order! I point out to the honourable member for Adelaide that he has leave to make a statement. When leave is given to make a statement there is no limitation of time, but the subject matter on this occasion should be related to the 2 statements that have been made by the Minister and the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I ask the honourable member for Adelaide not to proceed outside that framework.
– Certainly, Mr Deputy Speaker. 1 shall show you just how important this is. The statement that has been made by the Minister is full of serious omissions. It has to do with retraining. The omissions are that it deals with retraining only in the very narrow sense of technological changes within particular industries. I trust that in the short time available to me I have been able to comprehend the statement adequately.
– It does not cover primary industry.
– It does not deal with primary industry. I am suggesting that it should deal with the changes involved in people transferring from primary industry
– That is the subject of a different scheme which is currently under review.
– I am very glad to hear it. I had not noted that it was under review.I am very grateful to the Minister for telling me, as I think most honourable members are because this is the first time we have heard of it. There is another area whichI hope is also under review, namely, whether we are to have changes in tariff policy. I agree with the honourable member for Hindmarsh that these changes are necessary in the interests of productivity in a dynamie society. If we are really to increase the standard of living of our people these changes are necesssary. But we on this side of the Mouse anyway are absolutely devoted to the concept of full employment, and if you are to have these necessary changes the first thing is that you must have the structures for retraining, of which this is only the start and a very late start, and you must also have help for people in moving their place of habitation, which goes along with these changes. I promised that my statement would be short. I am disappointed that on this most important occasion we do not have an opportunity to debate this matter at greater length. But I thank the Minister for allowing me to say these few words on this occasion.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Social Services Bill 1971
Repatriation Bill 1971
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1971.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Criminology Research Bill 1971
Social Services Bill1971
Repatriation Bill 1971
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1971.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the reports of the Public Works Committee relating to the following proposed works:
Community College, Darwin
Domestic Accommodation, No. 2 Stores Depot, RAAF Chester Hill, New South Wales.
I seek leave to make a short statement about the report relating to the Community College, Darwin.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Committee’s report on the Community College, Darwin is an interim report only and is tabled in this form at this stage for one reason only. It is that the Committee is currently carrying out an examination of the costs and standards of residential accommodation at a number of different types of Commonwealth built institutions including the Community College at Darwin and would therefore not otherwise be able to report on this reference until that inquiry is completed. In this interim report, the Committee is endorsing all of the work in the proposal except the residential accommodation so that the Government can go ahead now and seek Parliament’s approval for that part of the work approved by the Committee without having to await the result of the inquiry into the residential accommodation. The Committee expects to be able to report on the residential accommodation section of the work early in the Budget session.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submilied to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Commonwealth Government to initiate a national policy to reduce Australia’s tragic road toll.
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)
– In rising to speak to the matter of public importance I have tabled, I wish clearly to outline the attitude of the Opposition in this field. Australia has one cf the best civil aviation safety records in the world and one of the worst road fatality and accident records in the more highly developed and motorised countries of the world. That statement can be borne out with facts published recently by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. in New York, an independent authority that has prepared a table which honourable members can obtain from the research section of the Library and which clearly shows the average mortality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles in various countries.
I wish to go through the figures quickly. They show that Norway has a mortality rate of 53.4 per 100,000 registered vehicles, the United States of America 54.4, New Zealand 56.1, the United Kingdom 59.1, Denmark 61.2, France 67.9, the Netherlands 71.5, Canada 76 and Australia the alarming figure of 78.7. I know that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) will be able to draw attention to perhaps 2 other countries in the category to which I have referred, which have worse records. But the fact of the matter is that on the figures I have quoted the Australian figure is sufficiently serious to warrant some very positive action by the Commonwealth Parliament.
Let me refer now to accidents in Australia. In 1969 there were 62,617 accidents, 3,502 people were killed and 87,888 people were injured as a result of those accidents. I believe that in round figures the statistics for 1970 are that 3,800 people were killed and 92,000 people were injured as a result of accidents. Various estimates or guesstimates have been made of what this costs the national economy. On various figures that have been quoted from time to time, the cost is in the vicinity of $400m to $500m a year. On those figures alone, the loss of life and the cost are sufficient to warrant some very positive action.
We on this side of the House believe that one of the major steps that the Commonwealth should be taking to overcome the problem of the carnage on our roads today is to provide more money for roads. Whether it be on the basis of the Commonwealth carrying out certain road construction or paying the direct cost of certain roads, at least the Commonwealth should make money available. In the 10-year period 1959 to 1969 the Commonwealth Treasury had a surplus of $598m over the amount it made available to the States. That money was collected from a source of revenue which is popularly known as petrol tax. Although no firm figures are provided in the present Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement covering the current 5- year period I estimate that the Commonwealth will make available to the States S 1,252m which will leave the Treasury with a surplus of approximately $700m. lt is time the Commonwealth Government made available to the States all or a substantial portion of that $700m or undertook some positive programme to improve the standard of roads in Australia.
It is obvious that there is a great need for improvement in our general road structure. For instance, in recent years the percentage of road accidents involving two or more vehicles has fluctuated between 54 per cent and 59 per cent of the total number of road accidents. On tollways, where it is almost impossible for an accident to involve two or more vehicles the percentage is as low as 12 per cent. The latter figure was recently released by the New South Wales Department of Main Roads and it relates to the Newcastle to Sydney tollway which carries a large volume of traffic. Those percentages give a clear indication of the position.
In reply to a question I asked of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) he informed me in March that the Road Research Laboratory in the United Kingdom had found that accidents involving two or more vehicles had been reduced by 30 per cent where divided carriageways had replaced roads carrying two-way traffic. There is clear evidence of the need for something to be done about the construction of roads in Australia. Throughout the Commonwealth 20 per cent of all accidents involve collisions between vehicles and fixed objects such as a tree or a rock. On
There are many points about which 1 could speak in relation to our roads, such as street lighting, sign posts and so on, but ] have sufficient time in this debate to deal with only the major issues. I reiterate that 20 per cent of all accidents in the Commonwealth are attributable to collisions between vehicles and fixed objects and that in the country areas the position is much worse. The position in rural areas is twice as bad as it is in the city areas. In the limited time available to me I want to deal with other matters in which I consider the Commonwealth should be leading the field. The first matter is that of seat belts. In the past Ministers for Shipping and Transport have been weak and have not had the courage to do something positive about seat belts. I congratulate the Victorian Minister for Transport and the Victorian Government on having the intestinal fortitude to introduce legislation for the compulsory wearing of seat belts. I think this is something which should have been introduced a long time ago in this country. I believe the Federal Parliament should have been the one to lead the way. The Minister for Shipping and Transport should set the pattern.
Research in the United States has shown that injuries have been reduced by up to
Another important matter which I believe warrants further examination is the obligation on drivers to give way to vehicles on their right. Why is it that Australia is the only major country which applies this antiquated regulation of give way to the right? If you are on a main highway and you come to a minor gravel track on your right leading into the bush some idiot can come flying out of that track and force you to give way to him. When this happens it usually results in a serious accident. The United States and the United Kingdom have introduced a system of major and minor roads which I honestly believe is better than our system of giving way to the right. We have stop signs at intersections but because a driver is on the right of a vehicle facing a stop sign he expects to be given the right of way. This situation has led to many accidents in Australia. There are no firm figures of the number of accidents caused by failure to give way to the right. The best information I have been able to obtain is that 10 per cent to 20 per cent of all accidents in Australia result from a failure to give way to the right. Some accidents involving a failure to give way to the right are attributed to drinking or some other cause, but the fact is that failure to give way to the right is one of the major reasons why there are so many accidents and fatalities in Australia today. This is a field in which the Commonwealth should set the pattern. It is something that we cannot have in the Territories alone; it has to be Australia-wide. This Government and the State governments should set aside politics and do something positive about this matter.
Alcohol contributes to 50 per cent of all serious accidents in Australia today. I am a teetotaller but I believe that the breathalyser system has been a failure. All it has done has been to scare off the law abiding citizen who has done his best to uphold the law of the land. This type of person has probably been at a party and has failed to pass the breathalyser test given following a minor breach of the traffic laws. The Government should carry out extensive research into the problems of alcohol. It is alleged that in the vicinity of 250,000 people in Australia have a drinking problem. That is roughly 2 per cent of the population. One of the principal recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety was that there should be research into the problems of alcohol but this Government has done nothing about it. Nothing has been done to overcome the problems and stresses created by alcohol in relation to road safety or society generally. The Government should inquire into this problem with a view to overcoming the social and road safety problems involved.
It does not mean a thing to cancel a driver’s licence or to impose a fine on him. As has been clearly disclosed by overseas research, the number of unlicensed drivers is increasing. The young people of today just do not care. Their licences can be cancelled or they can be fined, but they are still going to drive their motor cars and they are still going to drink. It is up to the Federal and State governments - I place most of the responsibility on the Federal Government because it has more money to allocate for projects of this type - to carry out some positive research into the problems associated with alcohol.
I would like the Minister to give some explanation for the Government’s failure to do something positive in this field where alcohol is responsible for 50 per cent of all road fatalities and serious road accidents. It is worth having a look at the matter. It is worth coming up with some possible solution to the problem. In the matter of driver education, we know that approximately 11 per cent of driving licence holders are under 20 years of age and they represent 21 per cent of the people involved in accidents. Yet this is the group in the community today that has probably been the most intensively educated in traffic problems and hazards. The question of education must be re-examined to see whether what we are doing is correct.
Honourable members on this side of the House firmly and strongly recommend that the Government make additional money available for roads, whether it be on the basis of State participation or the Commonwealth doing the job itself. We want to see more money provided to overcome the major problems of road safety. The Government should be leading the field, as recommended by the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, in research into road design, motor car use, the effects of alcohol, (he measurement of the success of the educational campaigns that have been undertaken, and the elimination of the ‘give way to the right’ rule and its replacement by ‘give way’ signs on side roads - a system which has proved to be quite successful in the Australian Capital Territory. It should be quite positive on the score’ of compulsory wearing of seat belts. I strongly support the compulsory wearing of seat belts and the slogan: ‘Belt up and stay alive’.
– There is no doubt that the subject being debated is a matter of public importance, but I think the difference between the Opposition’s stance and that of the Government is that the Government recognises the role of the States in this matter. We have a Federal system with sovereign States which have sovereign rights in respect of many matters. The Government has been co-operating and indeed giving a lead in the field which the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has raised today. He has ignored the leads given by the Commonwealth. I shall mention them in a moment. The majority of the areas affected in the matter of road safety are under the control of the States. Let me mention one or two of them. Road laws have to be passed by the State parliaments and there is very little that the Commonwealth can do unless it is to override the States. I do not want to be political about this, but I know that the Opposition has a tendency to want to see all power vested in a central government. I believe that in matters of this nature decentralised control is far better, and certainly people are much happier with it. But there has to be uniformity in the approach to the question. 1 shall set out in a moment or two exactly what the Commonwealth is doing in this regard.
The same thing applies in regard to the policing of the laws. The police are under State jurisdiction, not Commonwealth jurisdiction. The honourable member spoke about seat belts. I had an experience when my wife and I, both wearing seat belts and sitting in the front seat of our car, were involved in a collision with an oncoming car on our way to Parliament House one day. I hasten to say that the other car was on the wrong side of the road, as was proven. The occupants of that car were not wearing seat belts. I suffered minor injuries and they had quite severe injuries, lt proved to me several years ago that seat belts were very important. Nevertheless the matter comes under State jurisdiction and I, as the Federal Minister for Shipping and Transport, cannot introduce Federal laws to make sure that the States encourage or enforce the use of seat belts. Similarly, the liquor laws are under the control of the States.
The honourable member referred to road construction. 1 shall show later the great deal of research that is being done in that field, i draw to the attention of honourable members the recent announcement that an Expert Committee on Road Safety is being set up. The Chairman of that Committee is Sir James Darling. The members of the Committee who have been good enough to offer their services in this field are the Hon. Mr Justice Meares, who is the deputy chairman, Brigadier E. F. Campbell who is a consulting psychologist, Mr P. J. Kenny who is the President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Mr P. G. PakPoy who is a transportation planning and operations research consultant, Professor Robertson who is a professor of pathology, Mr S. E. Solomon who is a statistician, Mr Murray Sweeny who is a mechanical engineer and market researcher and Mr Jack Brabham who is a very well known figure in the car racing world. The Expert Committee on Road Safety will be studying the questions that have been raised by the honourable member for Newcastle such as the ‘give way to the right’ rule, the problems of alcohol, the types of road construction and angles on corners.
The honourable member for Newcastle ignored the great work that has been done by the Australian Transport Advisory Council. He may not know that within the last couple of years ATAC has been thoroughly reorganised to meet the modern needs of the States and Commonwealth in all fields of transport, including the problems of road safety. Several new committees have been put to work. For the information of the honourable member I would like to spell out just what this work is all about. I think he would accept that one of the fundamental problems in road safety is the car itself. There is no doubt that some features of cars can cause accidents. The Australian Transport Advisory Council has set up a committee known as the Advisory Committee on Safety in Vehicle Design which has done a great deal of work in studying the problems of design safety in road vehicles. Some very significant changes to car design have been introduced to meet this problem. I mention things like reversing signal lamps; the placement of door latches and hinges which can be dangerous in an accident or can be the cause of an accident if a driver should bump his knee on a door latch; and seat anchorages for motor vehicles to ensure that the seat belt is properly anchored, has been tested and the strength is known so that we know exactly what the reaction will be in the case of an accident. The standards for seat belts have been defined. There are now proper controls and uniformity in all cars whether they be imported or of local manufacture in such things as direction turn signal lamps, which are a very important feature in road safety and one which has been accepted uniformly by the car industry and by the people of Australia. Uniformity of hydraulic brake hoses has been agreed to and a certain standard test is applied to them. In regard to safety glass and the controls for automatic transmission the same position applies.
Regulations have been brought down to minimise the crushing or penetrating injuries to drivers caused by a steering column as a result of a frontal impact. Safety requirements have been defined for sun visors and rear vision mirrors, in regard to the placing, style and clearance they should have. A lot of work has been done in relation to the demisting of windscreens, as well as in relation to windscreen wipers and washers to ensure reasonable visibility through the windscreen in inclement weather. The location and visibility of instruments is also a very important matter. We have introduced a regulation relating to safety rims on motor vehicle wheels. I think the honourable member will agree that that is important. Similarly, consideration has been given to instrument panels, head restraints, anti-theft devices and the like. A great deal of work is being done. Presently this Committee is studying further changes that may need to be made to cars.
In addition we have the Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance, which draws up the draft regulations relating to standards of equipment for all motor vehicles and their loads. Draft regulations do not have any force of law, of course, until implemented by legislation in the individual States, and often this is not done on a uniform basis as at present. So the purpose of ATAC is to get the States to understand the need for this sort of action and then to get something done. This Committee prepares draft regulations such as those covering lighting equipment, trailer connections, safety chains, dimensions of vehicles, braking equipment, provisions for special vehicles such as omnibuses, tow trucks and the like. The ad hoc situation pertaining to implemention of draft regulations contrasts with that pertaining to design rules which, by agreement, the States pick up uniformly and co-operate in their administration through the Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board.
We also have the Advisory Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. The honourable member for Newcastle may be interested to know that at the last meeting of ATAC on 26th February I issued a statement pointing up the agreement that had been reached on the need for uniformity of regulations relating to the carting of dangerous goods. All these matters are important in the field of road safety, so it is not true to say that the Commonwealth is not giving a lead to the States. I recall that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) asked me a question about the Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board, and I was able to point out to him in reply to his question that there are now several registered laboratories that do the testing on the safety design features. We have one at the
Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd, one at the British Leyland Corporation of Australia Ltd at Waterloo and one at Smith Industries Pty Ltd. They all do this sort of work for us.
Road safety, of course, is a matter of great concern. I believe, though, that the way through is not for us to dictate to the States, because we do not have the legislative power to do so, but rather to encourage the States to see the wisdom of what we have been putting forward. There has been no laxity on the part of the States in this matter. They all recognise the growing seriousness of road traffic problems and of road accidents. The honourable member for Newcastle quoted some figures on the number of accidents we have had in the last year. I think the figures 1 have agree with those he gave. There were something like 62,617 accidents involving casualties in the last year for which statistics are available. In these accidents 3,502 people were killed and 87,888 people injured. This is an illustration of the size of (he problem we face, lt is a real problem and we are very conscious of it.
One of the matters that I believe will lead eventually to a reduction of this problem is the acceptance of uniform traffic laws. In 1962 ATAC agreed on a uniform traffic code. The States are very independent. They want to move in their own due course of time. I cannot legislate from here to force them to agree to uniformity. It would be a pretty high handed approach if 1 did. I think the honourable member will agree with me that the States have the powers and the responsibility themselves, and they also have an understanding of the problem. I do not know what the difficulties are that stop them reaching uniformity overnight. They may have political difficulties of their own. But the States that have not yet reached uniformity are of different political colours. Nevertheless, despite that, the facts are that all the States have moved very quickly since that time to obtain uniformity of road laws. So a great deal of progress is being made in that direction.
The Commonwealth is expending more and more money in different ways on problems of road safety. It may be said that what it is spending is not enough. I would agree with this. One can say that there is not enough expenditure in many fields, but the facts are that through grants to the States we have over a 10-year period expended something like $3,350,000. As I have said in answer to a question from the honourable member for Robertson, the grants to the States are expended by the respective States under prescribed conditions restricting the expenditure generally to road safety education, and the Commonwealth appropriation is expended mainly in support of national public education campaigns in co-operation with State road safety councils and for the provision of road safety education material. It has to be remembered that of the $ 1,250m granted under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act $18m is to be expended on planning and research. So while I accept the seriousness of the matter of public importance raised here today I have to say in all fairness that I believe the Commonwealth is doing a great deal, first of all, in getting the co-operation of the States in this important problem and, secondly, in providing initiatives in the various areas that I hope will lead eventually to a reduction in the great problem of road accidents today.
– The impossibility of covering in 10 minutes the failure of the Commonwealth Government to initiate a national policy to reduce Australia’s tragic road toll must be patently obvious to anyone who has given the problem even the most cursory glance. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has already demonstrated how Australia lies in relation to the rest of the world with regard to mortality and morbidity statistics. Whether one accepts these damning figures as firm evidence of Government neglect can be debated for hours with the weight of evidence heavily in favour of the statistics. What is clear, however, is that since the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety brought down its recommendations in 1961 31,812 people have been killed and 669,075 people injured in road accidents in Australia. What is also clear is that the Australian Government has learnt nothing from the automotive revolution that is occurring in the rest of the world, particularly the United States.
Federal and State Transport Ministers still content themselves with hand-wringing pleas to motorists to behave themselves before each holiday weekend and then pour out a tirade of abuse at the ‘nut behind the wheel’ when the inevitable carnage begins to mount with monotonous and sickening regularity day by day. It ought to be obvious to even the most dull-witted among us that appeals to motorists have failed and that a vastly different approach is necessary. Anyone who takes time and trouble to do an in-depth study of road accidents, as I have done over the past 6 months, will see unfold before him an incredible picture of governmental indifference, apathy and ignorance that borders on criminal neglect and corruption on a grand scale.
In 1965 in the United States a bombshell by the name of Ralph Nader exploded on the American automobile industry that for years had managed to avoid any form of governmental direction or control. His book Unsafe at any Speed’ and the subsequent Senate investigation into the industry were instrumental in a completely new and revolutionary approach towards cutting the road toll. In 1966 the United States National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act were passed setting up the National Highway Safety Bureau under the control of the Department of Transportation. These Acts supplemented the national system of interstate highways introduced by President Eisenhower to construct 41,000 miles of interstate multi-lane expressways at a cost of $50,000m - the largest and the least controversial public works programme in history and now almost three-quarters completed. The approach of the United States Government is probably best summed up by Douglas V. Toms, present head of the Safety Bureau, when he says:
I don’t think that just because a person makes a mistake he ought to die for it.
The United States of America has recognised that there is a 3-pronged approach to cutting the road toll - the driver, the environment (that is the road) and the vehicle. The United States has geared its programme accordingly. Despite the increase in vehicle miles driven, the number of drivers and the number of vehicles in the United States, there was an actual drop in the road toll in 1970 from 56,400 to 55,300, a total of 1,100 lives saved. Toms states bluntly:
Our goal is to cut highway deaths in half by 1980. We think we can do it … We will see a day in our lifetime when people are not killed in auto crashes.
What a difference this is to the pious platitudes and cliches that have emanated from the lips of a succession of weak kneed Federal Ministers for Shipping and Transport who are too ignorant, too lazy or too much under the influence of the discredited automobile industry to attack the problem in the same manner as the United States.
Because of the limited time available to me I intend to list only the sequence of events that I believe ought to take place in Australia so that we can belatedly start a programme which will match that of the United States. We should immediately send a competent ream of highly skilled technicians to the United States to study its legislation, administration and implementation of its programme. This would be coupled with a full and open inquiry into every aspect of highway and motor vehicle safety, defining areas of Federal, State and local government responsibility. There should be an acceptance of the fact that the mounting road toll is a national problem ;md can be attacked only at a national level by a Federal government with the intestinal fortitude and the will to introduce legislation that will have some teeth and not have road safety at the mercy and the whim of the automobile industry and the immovable States which, incidentally, have still not been able to agree on a uniform road code after 10 years. A person who is killed on the road has little interest in the fact that he has been able to safeguard States’ rights.
The Federal Government should set up a national highway and traffic safety bureau as a separate section of the Department of Shipping and Transport to implement a national programme to cut the road toil. The bureau would recommend to the Government legislation for vehicle safety regulations for new automobiles and see that an independent testing laboratory supervises the industry’s compliance. Such a system would replace the present ludicrous situation which permits the United States manufacturers operating in Australia to dictate as they do now what regulations will be adhered to and when. What happens now is that a model being sold in Australia - say, a Ford Fairlane - is the same model which was sold in the United
States 3 years ago. This enables the manufacturers to save money by amortising the initial tooling-up expense at Australia’s expense in lives lost. That is why safety measures introduced in the United States 3 years ago are only now being introduced in Australia.
Time does not permit me to list the dozens of pending vehicle safety regulations in the United States which will not be introduced in Australia until 3 years after they are standard in the United States, and even then they will be introduced only when their Australian subsidiaries inform the Australian Transport Advisory Council that they are prepared to do so. The ballyhoo that surrounded the announcement of most of the present vehicle safety features in Australia is a load of nonsense. Some 90 per cent of these features were already standard equipment. We merely followed the policy of the United States of 4 years ago and incorporated it in our regulations. One can imagine the laughter in the United States that would greet the knowledge that the testing laboratories for vehicle safety regulations are owned and controlled by the same automobile manufacturers that produce the cars. The Minister himself listed such manufacturers. They include the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd, British Leyland Motors Corporation of Australia Ltd and Smith Industries.
Legislation should be introduced to compel manufacturers to institute a recall system for faulty new vehicles and report the results of any such recall campaigns to the bureau. The Government has a lot of explaining to do as to why the United States Government regards this as a vital feature of its safety programme but the Australian Government does not. No such legislation has been considered necessary here. Further, a study similar to the one conducted in the United States should be commenced as to the best methods of ensuring the safety of used vehicles that are now subject to ageing and deterioration from the moment they go on the road. A research unit would carry out independent studies that would closely watch overseas trends and research in road safety, both highway and vehicle, and, through the bureau, recommend to the Government appropriate programmes and legislation. It should also do specialist research into aspects of road safety that are peculiar to Australian roads, climate and conditions. I say this because I believe a tremendous amount of expense in-depth research is being done both in the United States and Europe. For Australia to do the same would be costly, repetitive and unnecessary. The research unit would also supervise the testing of all vehicle safety regulations.
The bureau would have two further roles. Firstly, it would plan a national programme, in conjunction with the States and local government, that would cover all other aspects’ of road safety, including periodic motor vehicle inspection and registration, motor cycle safety, driver education, uniform licensing and traffic code and legislation and records, traffic courts, pedestrian safety, emergency medical services, and alcohol which is the factor found in over SO per cent of fatal accidents. Such a programme would have Federal finance available - and I stress this - provided the States implemented the Federal recommendation. That is the answer to getting the States into line.
Finally, the bureau should commence a feasibility study to evaluate the need and cost of an interstate multi-lane expressway system linking the major capital cities of Australia - Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney initially and Perth at a later stage and whether such a proposal could be funded in the same manner as the United States interstate highway system. The single, most effective way of cutting the road toll has been proven overseas on the autobahn, autostrada and expressways, and the multi-lane divided highway. Irrefutable evidence exists to show that the road toll is reduced by 80 per cent when compared with similar routes.
I am sorry, Mr Speaker, that in order to say all that, I have tended to gabble a bit, but it is impossible to deal with such a vitally important issue as this in 10 minutes. I hope that when the House resumes after the winter recess I will be able to deal with this subject in a great deal more detail.
– I have no quarrel at all - I am sure no thinking member in the House has any quarrel - with the genuine urgency of the need for road safety and increasing provisions for road safety in Australia.
However, the matter of public importance by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) is in these terms:
The failure of the Commonwealth Government to initiate a national policy to reduce Australia’s tragic road toll.
Australia does have a. tragic road toll. There is no doubt about that. At a meeting last night 1 was told, apropos of the recent examinations in New South Wales for the Higher School Certificate, that 800 students who commenced the examination did not complete it because they were involved in road accidents. I think it gives an immediate realisation to us of the seriousness -if the subject that we are discussing. Recently an expert in Australia when commenting on this subject said that one in every family of 4 young people will be a victim of a road accident, statistically speaking, during his lifetime; that 90 per cent of serious accidents in Australia are caused by human error of some kind; that 50 per cent of the fatalities are on straight roads - that is straight roads which are outside city and suburban limits; and that the cause of 30 per cent of all deaths in the 17 to 29 age group is road accidents. These are salutary facts and, of course, any government, any thinking person at any level of influence or responsibility in the community, should pay attention to them.
But the fact remains that these accidents can be caused only in one or other of 3 domains. They are caused because of something wrong in terms of the roads, something wrong in terms of the vehicles or something wrong in terms of the people who use both. When we look at these areas and begin to talk about Commonwealth responsibilities, I think we realise that these areas themselves indicate where the Commonwealth should most properly direct its attention. In the area of roads and in the areas of vehicles there are aspects on which the Commonwealth, because of its constitutional position and responsibility, can properly be heard. But in the third area where this expert teds u? that 90 per cent of serious accidents are caused by human behaviour, it is realised immediately that this is the constitutional responsibility of the States themselves.
The question of drinking and driving, which both Opposition speakers stated was behind 50 per cent of road accidents, is clearly a police matter. Clearly it is related to the criminal or social laws of the States. Similarly, enforcement of the recognition and obedience of the laws and rules regarding the use of roads is also a matter for the States. The Minister for Shipping and Transport has already made it abundantly clear that the Commonwealth has expressed concern about the condition of roads. The Commonwealth has given a great deal of assistance by setting up the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. Indeed, a few minutes ago I rang the State Minister for Transport in New South Wales, Mr Milton Morris, and asked him to tell me quite frankly what he thought about the role of the Commonwealth regarding his own area of responsibility. I should like to tell honourable members what Mr Morris feels about the Commonwealth. He said that over and over again at Australian Transport Advisory Council meetings State Ministers repeat that road safety is primarily a Slate matter. He went on to say that rather than duplicate the work which is already being done by the States, it would be far better for the Commonwealth to come to the States’ aid financially. Then he added - and I quote him exactly because I took the words down as he said them: ‘We believe the Commonwealth is playing its part as far as road safety is concerned.’ He said that $150,000 was contributed by the Commonwealth to enable an investigation to be made by the traffic accident research unit in New South Wales without even a request being made by the State to the Commonwealth. He said that the Commonwealth look real responsibility and initiative. This is the view of a State Minister who is vitally concerned with this question of road safety. Anyone who knows the way in which Mr Morris conducts himself in New South Wales and the immediacy of his interest in and concern for road safety in that State cannot but pay heed to what he has said. His judgment is that the Commonwealth has come handsomely to the party in supporting the activities of the States.
Of course, this is not to say that enough is being done. I had hoped that as I listened to this debate in the House a matter of public importance I would have heard some new matters raised by the Opposition: something which would give to us a new hope in our attempt to tackle this problem of reducing the road toll which appals all of us. We ourselves could quite easily be involved in a road accident tonight or tomorrow. But what did we hear from the speaker who led for the Opposition, the honourable member for Newcastle? He drew attention to the claim that Australia has’ one of the worst road accident records in the world. But he did not tell us whether these figures were computed on a per capita basis, which would be one side of the story, or whether they were computed on a per car basis, which would be quite different, because I think it is true to say that we rank second highest in the world in terms of per capita ownership of motor vehicles.
The honourable member for Newcastle then went on to tell us that we should improve road structures in Australia. Of course, this is desirable. He also mentioned that $ 50,000m is being expended in the United States of America on its truly magnificent network of roads. But I remember that a large amount of money has been spent on expressways between Newcastle and Sydney in New South Wales, and although the percentage figures were quoted and did not sound impressive, certainly there are areas on the Calga expressway, which is a magnificent highway, where accidents happen with sickening regularity.
I refer to the question of seat belts. I, too, like the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) owe my life to the wearing of a seat belt. My wife also owes her life to the wearing of a seat belt because she was with me on this occasion. Seat belts are a must. I believe that any sane person who is travelling on the road in a motor vehicle should wear a seat belt. I trust that the initiative taken by Victoria will be emulated by every other State. But surely this is nothing startlingly new. I think there has been a nation-wide campaign to persuade people to use seat belts, and if any indication of the psychological factor is needed, the honourable member for Newcastle provided it himself when he told us that over the Easter period there were 14 road deaths in Victoria and that only one of those 14 people killed was wearing a seat belt. This is the State in which there is legislation which provides for the compulsory wearing of seat belts. It proves the point which the honourable member made, but it also proves the point which I am trying to make, that is, that behind the whole question of road safety is this element of human behaviour about which neither the Commonwealth nor the States nor any other outside person can legislate.
Surely the appeal is not to say: ‘Blame the Commonwealth because we have not had spend on our roads $50,000m’, or a proportion of it in terms of the Australian population, or not to say that we should blame the States because they in their turn are not doing enough. Instead we should say that a new kind of concern is needed by every person in this nation in terms of the utilisation of the roads, because I am sure that we were getting very close to the bone when the Opposition speakers themselves drew attention to the human aspects involved in the use of the roads, such as failing to give way to the right or failing to keep to the left which some experts have listed as an even greater factor in accidents. These human behaviour aspects are so vitally important to consider. I welcome any discussion on road safety and I trust that this discussion which is being broadcast across the nation will cause drivers who are travelling home from work at the moment to drive more carefully and to wear their seat belts. While 1 trust that this discussion will have a salutary and positive effect, I do not believe that the question of road safety as represented here is a matter of urgency for this Parliament.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I was rather surprised to hear the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) refer to the Calga expressway and say that a number of accidents still happen on that road. It would appear from the information I have received that a minimal number of accidents occur on the divided section of the expressway. The accidents occur on the 20-mile stretch of road after the 20-mile expressway. Unfortunately, this is an example of someone speaking with a lack of knowledge and without having done research into the question. The fact is that the construction of the expressway has minimised the number of accidents. The accidents occur when people speed off the expressway.
The Minister for the Navy also referred to the point made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) in relation to design rules. All I can say about that is that usually the United States of America is 5 years ahead of Australia in introducing design rules. At the very least, the United States is 3 years ahead of Australia in introducing design rules. I will give a couple of examples from a list of 20 items. Design rules relating to instrument panels were instituted in the United States in 1968, but they will not be introduced in Australia until 1973. Design rules relating to direction turn signal lamps were instituted in the United States in 1968, but they will not be instituted in Australia until 1973. Design rules relating to reversing signal lamps were instituted in the United States in 1968, but they will not be introduced in Australia until 1973. One could go on and refer to the dates when design rules were introduced in the United States and when they will be introduced in Australia. I think that if we are to refer to these matters we have to discuss them in more detail, otherwise I think that we are only misleading ourselves, the Parliament and the nation.
Every year we hear of the appalling road toll. Every holiday period, every weekend, adaded deaths increase this terrible toll. The only matter which seems to concern us each year is whether the toll will exceed the previous year’s record. If it does not reach the previous year’s record everyone heaves a sigh of relief and says that it is an improvement. Before holiday periods public figures issue solemn warnings about the approaching dangers and church congregations solemnly - and sincerely, 1 must say - pray for the protection of drivers. In all, we as a community come to accept this as a way of life and this Parliament fails to acknowledge the enormousness of the problem and the enormous cost to the community, as well as the grief and suffering of the bereaved and the suffering of those permanently injured in these accidents, the paraplegics or mental vegetables.
The cost to the community through lost man-hours in industry, the insurance payments which must be met by the spreading of the costs over all policies - these and other associated matters seldom rate a mention. We have become so sated by the consistency of the horror that we as a community do nothing to demand action by the Government to take immediate measures to stop the carnage. So the Government takes the easy road. It allows its public committees to meet, make recommendations on vehicle standards, road standards and road traffic rule standards and then leaves these committees of experts without the teeth to implement their recommendations. They must rely on the goodwill of State Ministers or State governments to ensure that design rules are implemented and uniform traffic codes enforced. The result is that a South Australian driver of 16 years of age can legally drive from South Australia through all the other States, although different rules of driving apply in those States, when he would not even have a licence if he happened to live across the border in another State. We did not even attempt to set basic matters in order. Something that is so easy to regularise is carefully avoided.
But what would the situation be if only one-tenth of the road deaths or injuries were attributable to any other form of violence or accident? A bridge collapses, an inquiry is instituted, and headlines are made in all news media. A building being demolished collapses and there is another inquiry, and more headlines. A plane crashes and there is a most stringent inquiry and minute inspection of the remains to determine whether the cause is human error or mechanical failure, and in some instances all aircraft of the particular type are grounded until it is clear that no blame is attached to that type. In all such cases there are public concern and official concern, official inquiry, official action and the subsequent legislation to remedy whatever faults are found. But what happens about car accidents? They are so common and kill so many that no-one is prepared to take the time to find a solution.
There is no requirement for research into every accident to find out whether mechanical or structural failure was due to previous repairs effected in States where an insurance assessor is someone who has no mechanical or engineering qualification, where there are no registration requirements of these people, where the insurance firms employ them because they can cut corners on the cost of repairs, where there is no examination by a qualified person before or after the repair of the vehicle. The manufacturer of a vehicle may have undertaken painstaking research to ensure that the vehicle is of a high standard but this is an area which he cannot control. So the racket of using repaired or second hand parts wherever possible continues without concern for the safety of the vehicle or the road user generally. The ludicrous situation exists where someone could refuse, if he was aware of it, to accept a repaired part because of doubts of safety and then some unsuspecting person could have this part subsequently installed in his vehicle by a repairer, with the knowledge of the assessor, with or without the knowledge of the insurance firm which is concerned only with costs. Without question this area of road safety cries out for control but what will this Government do? 1 ask honourable members to look at the size of the insurance company lobby and the repair section lobby for therein lies the answer. It would take a strong Minister to stand up and demand the necessary controls in the States and to outline to the States the controls required.
It is no good denying that calculated risks in the repair field are taken every day by fringe firms in the industry. I recently had personal experience of this when a firm wished to install a repaired front cross member in my car without consideration of the molecular change in the structure of the metal due to the repair and without X- ray examination for further cracks. Explanations given were: ‘You would never notice it when you sell the car’; ‘It has been done for 22i years to my knowledge’; We use second hand parts where possible’. When a written guarantee of the safety of the repair was demanded, it was not forthcoming. One would be naive to expect that it could be given. I might add that a new part was readily available. This type of direct contempt for public life is allowed to go unchallenged. Mow many people have lost their lives as a result of this attitude? How many have been maimed as a result and lie in hospital beds? This Government is to blame for not legislating to protect the public from malpractice. This Government, of such long standing, stands condemned by its inactivity. It is prepared to take steps to suppress public action in other fields but is not prepared to move against the profit-motivated institutions. Must we wait for the Australian Council of Trade Unions to take action in this field also before the Government will do something? If this is what must happen to get action on road safety then let it happen. In fact, let anyone take action, for the Government is unable or unwilling to cope with the situation. It has watched the mounting toll year after year and has taken no action.
What action has it taken against the manufacturers who are selling the potential death traps revealed by the recent survey of new cars by the Western Australian Royal Automobile Club? In a survey of 600 vehicles the RAC found 216 with braking faults, 53 or nearly 9 per cent being brake fluid leaks. The alarming point is that of the 53 instances of fluid leaks, 48 were in Australian made vehicles. Has anything been done by the Government about this matter? I doubt it. Even worse, potentially dangerous faults were found in the steering mechanisms of 1.66 of the vehicles and this is quite apart from wheel alignment problems. In ali, over a 12 month survey, the RAC found a total of 2,759 defects in the 600 brand new vehicles, an average of 4.6 defects per vehicle. A further 597 items were listed for adjustment or repair. The RAC put this down to lack of quality control by manufacturers and confirmed the problems consumers were having in obtaining proper after sales service, so that new vehicles sold in an unsafe condition remained dangerous due to a lack of follow-up service. In effect, this was only a spot check of new vehicles voluntarily taken to the RAC by members.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This motion is typical of Labor Party philosophy to centralise everything in Canberra and ignore the rights and responsibilities of the States. ‘Let big brother do it’ must be the motto of honourable members opposite. But extreme centralism is not constitutional and would not be efficient in a country as large as Australia, appealing though it may sound to oversimplifiers. Of course, there is a co-ordinating role for the Federal Government in road safety and this role is being efficiently performed. The Australian Transport Advisory Committee, on which the Commonwealth and States are represented, is the key co-ordinating body and necessary factual information will be produced by the newly established Bureau of Transport Economics. The establishment of these 2 bodies alone is rebuttal of the vapid posturings of honourable members opposite.
Much more is being done. Let me go through each of the elements of improved road safety and sum up what is being done by the Commonwealth within the constraints of constitutional power and administrative efficiency. Firstly, let me deal with publicity. The Commonwealth provides substantial financial support to the Road Safety Council for publicity and driver education. Secondly, we have uniform traffic rules. A great deal has been achieved under Commonwealth leadership to promote a uniform road safety code. 1 must say that I agree with the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) that the adoption, particularly in Victoria, of the give way to the right nile was a regrettable step. Nevertheless, a uniform road traffic code is a necessity if we are to advance and improve our standard of national road safety. The third element is improved car design. I think we all, including the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), agree that this is a key in improved road safety. The Advisory Committee on Safety in Vehicle Design has done much in this area despite the comments of honourable members opposite. There are 8 design rules already in force covering such things as seat belts, steering columns and brakes. A new rule on safety glass comes into force soon. Six new rules come into force on 1st January next year covering standards for such things as rear vision mirrors and standard controls for automatic transmission. There are many more in the course of introduction.
The next element in improved road safety must be better roads because roads are the cause of many accidents. Grants to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement have risen by 67 per cent in this quinquennium. A total of $H billion will be spent between 1969 and 1974. We have vast distances to cover and therefore we need great mileages of roads. In my opinion, this allocation of resources for roads is a generous one.
– What about the man behind the wheel?
– The Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance - a national body - is drawing up regulations on road standards. Now I come to the subject mentioned by the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) - the man behind the wheel; the driver. He is the most important single factor in road safety. The first element at which we must look is licence standards - how a driver must be tested before he is allowed to drive a vehicle. I am sure that licensing standards must remain a State responsibility. They are of desperate importance in the quest for greater road safety. In the same way drink is clearly involved m a very high proportion of road accidents, but this too must remain a State responsibility. There are 2 other elements which affect drivers and which cannot, by the very nature of things, be the responsibility of any government. They are courtesy and commonsense. One of the main reasons for the high road toll is lack of courtesy and lack of commonsense. I do not know how we cure this, short of an education campaign and improved public awareness of what plain bad manners contribute to road fatalities.
The next element must be traffic control - the police. The performance of the police is vital in improved road safety and efficient traffic movement. I think that, if honourable members opposite were really interested in improved road safety, they would spend less time denigrating and decrying the police and more time in building up their morale and efficiency because, as I said, they are a vital element in improved road safety. The police must remain a State responsibility. Only totalitarian states - Fascist and Communist - centralise their police forces. We must keep ours decentralised. The greatly improved financial deal given to the States this year makes it possible for them to recruit adequate numbers and to pay adequate wages and thus provide adequate forces for traffic control. One obvious way to reduce our road toll is to restrain the growth in the number of cars. If we have no cars, we have no car accidents. Australia is a very urbanised society. On that basis, we should not need the vast number of cars that we have. When in the last
Budget the Government took some very modest measures to restrain the rate of growth in the number of cars - an increase in sales tax and a modest increase in the tax on petrol - one would have expected honourable members opposite who are interested in road safety to applaud those measures. Instead they vilified the measures.
We on this side of the House in no way minimise the national disaster which road carnage causes, but the cure of this complaint must remain primarily a State responsibility. The Commonwealth’s role is primarily control of the allocation of resources and the provision of coordination to ensure that road safety policy is uniform throughout the country. The honourable member for Newcastle introduced yet another element into the enormous bill that the Labor Party proposes to present to the public when it wants more for this and more for that. Now he wants $700m more for roads. I believe that the allocation by the Federal Government in this area is right and balanced with other requirements. The presentation of their argument by honourable members opposite has been frivolous and quite inaccurate.
– Order! The discussion has now concluded.
Sifting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment. Clause 11. (1.) A person shall not -
fail or neglect duly to furnish a return or information that he is required under the regulations to furnish; or
furnish, in pursuance of the regulations, a return or information that is false or misleading in a material particular.
Penalty: Two hundred dollars. (2.) A prosecution for an offence against this section may be commenced at any rime within five years after the commission of the offence.
Senate’s amendment -
Leave out ‘Ave’, insert ‘three’.
Motion (by Mr Holten) proposed:
That the amendment be agreed to.
- Mr Chairman, I am amazed. We are dealing with an amendment made by the Senate to clause 11 of the Dried Fruits Levy Collection Bill. The Government gave its reasons for including clause 11 in the Bill and now the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) has moved, without giving any explanation, that the amendment be agreed to. Not only is this an insult to the Senate, it is an insult to this House.
– There are only 3 Labor supporters present.
– It would not matter if there were none present. The important thing is that this clause was amended in the Senate and that apparently the Government has agreed to the Senate amendment and has offered no explanation. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) gave in this House the reasons why the Government believed that a prosecution for an offence against this clause could be commenced at any time within 5 years after the commission- of the offence. The Opposition moved an amendment aimed at deleting the word ‘five’ and inserting in its place the word ‘one’. This would have meant that the prosecution could be commenced within 12 months after the commission of the offence.
When this Bill was debated in the Senate it was quite obvious that the Government would be defeated because the Democratic Labor Party objected to this period of 5 years. The result has been a compromise between 1 year and 5 years. The Government now comes forward with an amendment to make it 3 years. With due respect to the Minister for Repatriation, I would have thought that some explanation would be given to the House. The Minister does not hold the Primary Industry portfolio and therefore one cannot criticise him individually. Nevertheless I am criticising the Government. The Opposition rejects the proposal to make the period 3 years and submits that the correct course is to make the period 1 year. In general, certain principles are laid down in respect of penalties for offences. The general principle in summary offences, particularly offences not involving a penalty of a period in gaol, is that the proceedings be commenced within 12 months after the commission of the offence. The best example I can quote is the Crimes Act itself. Section 21 (1.) of the Crimes Act states:
A prosecution in respect of an offence against any law of the Commonwealth may be commenced as follows: -
where the maximum term of imprisonment in respect of the offence in the case of a first conviction exceeds six months - at any time after the commission of the offence;
That is fair enough; it could involve a murder case or some other criminal offence.
In circumstances such as are covered in this Bill, where no imprisonment term is involved, section 21 (1.) (c) of the Crimes Act states:
Where the punishment provided in respect of the offence is a pecuniary penalty and no term of imprisonment is mentioned - at any time within one year after the commission of the offence.
That is exactly what the Opposition is seeking in this Bill. The reason given by the Government as to why the period should be 5 years - I suppose the same reason will be given for making it 3 years - is that what is involved is the collection of levies. There have to be inspectors and machinery for collection and the policing of the legislation, and the whole operation takes time. It was argued previously that the period should be 5 years because of the number ot inspectors involved, and the work and time involved. Now the Government seeks to make the period 3 years.
The question the Opposition must ask is: Why are primary producers being singled out and penalised when all other sections of the community are covered by the general principles laid down in respect of the time within which a prosecution for an offence will be launched. I gave a specific example relating to the Crimes Act. The Opposition can see no reason why persons concerned in rural matters should be penalised in this way. If carried, this amendment will mean that an offence can hang over their heads for up to 3 years before any move is made by the Commonwealth. This is a type of blackmail against rural producers. The argument in favour of 5 years given by the responsible Minister in the Senate was, apparently, that that would give the authorities time to examine all cases in detail, and that perhaps they could come to some agreement with an offending producer so that a court case would not be necessary. The Minister in the Senate who represents the Minister for Primary Industry has now argued that if the period is to be reduced to 3 years rural producers may have to go to court in order to fight charges.
This is an extraordinary argument to be put forward by the Government. One could almost say that it is a type of blackmail. The Government has said that if the period were 5 years the chances of a rural producer having to go to court were remote, but that now that the Democratic Labor Party has forced it to accept this amendment and make the period 3 years, it may not be able to be so lenient and an offender may have to go to court and take the consequences. That is exactly the argument given by the Minister in the Senate in relation to the period of 3 years.
The main point I want to make is this: In most research Bills no time limit has been stipulated as to when proceedings will start after the commission of an offence. This idea has been opposed strongly by the Opposition over the years. Not until this Bill was presented, containing a provision for 5 years, has there been some compromise on the part of the Government. Now, because the Democratic Labor Party in the Senate was opposed to the 5 year period, this compromise period of 3 years has been selected. But why is it to be a period of 3 years? We heard the Minister for Primary Industry argue strongly, when this Bill first came before us. in favour of a 5 year period. He said that it could be no less. Now the Government has moved this amendment to make it a 3 year period. 1 would like to know why it is to be 3 years? Why not 1 8 months or 3i years? To be consistent with the law of the land applying to offences which do not involve gaol sentences, proceedings should start within 12 months of the commission of the offence, not 5 years and certainly not 3 years. Why are primary producers to be penalised when more lenient provisions apply, in the case of summary offences, to the rest of the community?
– I think it is right that we should look at what has been happening in regard to this amendment. As the honourable member for
Dawson (Dr Patterson) has said, when the Bill was before this chamber previously it provided for 5 years and the Government carried it with the 5-year provision. He has said that at this stage the Opposition wanted one year and he is maintaining that tonight. The point is that this is a Bill relating to the collection of levy under the Dried Fruits Levy Act 1971 and clause 11 is one of the most important clauses in the whole of the Bill for the simple reason that if some people do not furnish information as required or if the information given is false or misleading and the levy is not collected from them it may throw the whole scheme out. Clause 11 reads: (1.) A person shall not -
Penalty: Two hundred dollars.
What we are referring to now is sub-clause (2.) of that clause, which reads:
A prosecution for an offence against this section may be commenced at any time within five years after the commission of the offence.
That is the way it stands now. The amendment that has come from the Senate says that the period shall be 3 years. If the period is one year the offence may not be revealed in that period. In the previous debate I pointed out that in this case commission” means the act of doing or committing. So, in the event of an act of doing or committing, such as withholding information, the Opposition wants the period to be 12 months after that act. Then, once the 12 months has passed the man who has committed the offence in not providing the correct information goes scot free.
The position is quite the opposite of what the honourable member for Dawson has said. He has said that we are trying to blackmail primary producers. We are trying to assist them in this matter. The man who puts in false information is subject to a fine of $200 and, under the Bill as it stands, if the authorities find out about it within 5 years they can charge him. During the previous debate I referred to the income tax law. The honourable member for Dawson has referred to the criminal law. Under the income tax law the authorities can go back years and years and charge people.
The honourable member for Dawson says that for 3 years or 5 years, whichever it is, this is hanging over the heads of people because they have not been charged. It is only hanging over the heads of those people who know that they have done wrong in not providing the information, not the man who has a clear conscience because he has put in the information that is desired or required under the Bill for the good of the dried fruits industry. It is not hanging over his head because he is not guilty of any offence. But if a man deliberately - it has to be deliberately because the Bill uses the words ‘false or misleading in a material particular’- provides false or misleading information, it will be hanging over his head because he will say to himself: ‘I committed this offence. I hope the authorities will not find out. If they do not find out in the first 12 months I am all right, I will not be charged.’ That is if the contention of the Opposition is incorporated m the legislation.
What the honourable member for Dawson baa said is the complete opposite of what I believe is correct. After all, we are trying to protect the dried fruits industry through this legislation which will give great help to this great industry in the field of research. So, I completely disregard what was said by the honourable member for Dawson in his speech just now. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) has said that the Government will accept 3 years as an amendment. I do believe that 3 years is better than one year.
– You wanted 5 years before.
– I supported 5 years; of course I did. The Bill has gone to the Senate which has sent back an amendment providing for 3 years. If this Committee is in agreement with that, I am prepared to give it my support. But I am not prepared to support one year and the proposition that when that year is over the man who has not given the right information goes scot free and, perhaps, breaks up the whole of this research scheme which will mean so much to the dried fruit growers, most of whom reside in the electorate of Mallee.
– I rise because when this measure was before the House on the previous occasion I did not want to enter the debate but I did so finally on this particular point. As honourable members may recall, I did so following the speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) who, I understand, is absent in an overseas country. I do not want to call it Communist something or other. I understand that he is in the Philippines. The fact is that the Government is now saying that it is prepared to accept the Senate’s amendment. I rise because of the bitterness with which this aspect was contested by members of the Government parties at the time when the Opposition was moving an amendment that provided for one year instead of the 5 years provided for in the Bill.
The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), who has just resumed his seat, no doubt from what he said in his discourse to the Committee a few moments ago, would have been quite happy with the situation had the Senate’s amendment been for one year instead of 3 years. He is not happy with one year, but now he is prepared to support 3 years. He seems to me to imply that a large percentage of the people of his own electorate are, if not in fact dishonest, then at least susceptible to dishonesty and that the provision of the Bill has to stand at 3 years-
– He did not imply that.
– Yes, he did. If the honourable member for Kennedy wants to rise in this debate he may do so. If he can make a bigger mess of it, on behalf of his Country Party colleagues, than his colleague from Mallee has just made, let him do so. The fact is that he may participate in the debate, if he wants to, instead of continually sitting back there in cockies’ corner and mumbling and grumbling about what members of the Opposition have to say about rural matters when he and his colleagues have seen fit to sit here for 20-odd years and support a government which has brought the rural industries to absolute ruin in a number of areas. He cannot deny that. The same can be said of the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who is interjecting now. The wine growers had to put a round turn around his neck so that he would realise where his own electorate was. But let me not digress to any great extent.
I rose previously because the Bill imposes something on people and the
Minister for Primary Industry was unable to reply in regard to it. I referred to the 5- year proposal and to a case in which a property was in joint names or in the name of the husband. I asked whether his widow could be called to account within 5 years. That is the period which was supported by members of the Government parties who all purport, with some degree of hypocrisy, to give consideration to primary industry generally. The fact is that there is nothing in this Bill to lead me to believe otherwise than that where the husband has died the widow can be called to account within a period of 3 years, as is now suggested, because perhaps unwittingly and innocently the husband did not fill out a form in the correct and prescribed manner. Any Bill, whether it is aimed at trade unionists, at any member of the public or, as in the case of this Bill, at rural industry, incurs my displeasure if that facet of justice does not even appear to be provided for. It is of no use for the honourable member for Mallee and his muttering comrades behind him to stand up in this chamber and say that the purpose of the Bill is to enable the Government to catch the smarties. Let me tell you. Mr Chairman, and honourable members on the Government side who want to include something in a Bill to catch up with the smarties: The people you are after are much smarter than you and you are not likely to catch them.
To say, as does the honourable member for Mallee and his colleagues, that the industry will go to the wall unless this Bill is carried with a time limit of 5 years, as was intended some weeks ago but now reduced to 3 years, is so much rubbish. The Opposition’s amendment should have been accepted when the Bill was before this chamber, but it was not. Will honourable members opposite stand up in this chamber tonight and try to justify the time limit of 3 years in which a prosecution may be launched just because they lost an argument in the Senate? The argument which prevailed in the Senate for reducing the time from 5 years to 3 years loses none of its force when applied to a case for reducing the time still further to 1 year. I know only too well that the honourable member for Angas is anxiously waiting to participate in this debate as soon as I have finished and say that he is the guardian and the angel of the dried fruits industry. That is not so. His halo may fall around his neck and perhaps - I will not say that it may - choke him. The fact is that the honourable member for Angas is likely to say that I know little or nothing about dried fruits. A person does not have to be a Rhodes scholar to hold a seat in this House. He knows what I am referring to. Honourable members on the Government side are not the sole guardians of anybody. They are extremely short sighted in relation to rural industries. Recently the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said: ‘All right, we have 200,000 million bushels of wheat. We have nothing to worry about because we can sell it’.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Sturt that he at least remain within the confines of this Bill.
– Having got that one in I will come back to this Bill. The fact is that these 22 honourable members of the Australian Country Party are members of the minority party in the Government and they have seen fit to lord it over everybody in this place as far as primary industries are concerned. But they have not gone out to win markets which is one of the first requisites in helping our rural industries today. Having been somewhat frustrated in their international marketing attempts they have come back with a whole host of Bills relating to levies. I am opposed to the amendment because it inflicts quite unjustly an imposition on the poor dried fruits grower who may not know for 3 years whether he has committed an offence. If there is a witch hunt in a government department the first thing the grower may know about it is a nasty letter or a visit by an inspector who will say: ‘On such a date, almost 3 years ago, you did such and such. For that you can be fined $200 under the provisions of the Bill.’ Surely the members of the Country Party will not stand in this chamber and support a measure that will pull $200 off the people whom that Party reckons are its supporters.
In the short time remaining to me in this debate I look across to my left but words to describe the people I see fail me. What next will they do to the industries which they claim to protect? I think we can classify them as most rural producers do and say: ‘With friends like these who needs enemies’ or ‘God protect us from our friends’. There is no valid reason for insisting in this chamber tonight that the time in which a prosecution may be launched ought to be 3 years. Honourable members may recall that I said in the original debate that the time limit should be 6 months but we moved for a limit of 12 months. I accept that. It is time that you fellows thought about this.
– You are crooked on the farmers.
– I am not crooked on the farmers. I am crooked on the likes of you hypocrites who claim to be doing something for the farmers, but you are not.
– We have just heard one of the usual dissertations from that ingredient of the fruit cake, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), who has been up to one of his fruit salad jobs by roaming all over the countryside, something which he is very ill-equipped to do. However, what he has lost in one way has been made up for in entertainment value, but perhaps he is past entertainment for my colleagues in the Australian Country Party. What I want to do is put forward 2 points of view in relation to this matter. I hope that both of them will refute suggestions put forward by the Opposition. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) was very close to my first point when he pointed out that if the Opposition took the trouble of looking at clause 1 1 of the Dried Fruits Levy Collection Bill it would see that the matter under dispute affects sub-clauses (a) and (b) which state:
Mr Chairman, the purpose of this clause is to make sure that the primary producers are levied a similar amount to the Government’s subvention for the purpose of research. It is an equally valid argument as any other argument one could put forward to say that it is quite essential that, if someone by mistake, misleadingly or accidentally supplies or furnishes a report that is inaccurate, the mistake is not perpetu ated any longer than necessary. That argument is as valid as that which the Opposition has put forward tonight. In other words, there is an essence in this argument that someone, if I can put it in the vernacular of the Opposition, who is a bludger on his mates, someone who is a scab on a union - whether he be a Tasmanian or the original founder of the Democratic Labor Party of Australia or anything else is beside the point - someone whom the Opposition inherently should distrust should be caught before he, and again to use the vernacular of the Opposition, succeeds in bludging on his mates. This is the purpose of clause II and this is why the Government takes the view that it does. The 5-year period would in many ways suit me a lot better than the Senate’s amendment, but we are not here to split hairs unduly in this regard. What I want to do is try to refute the Opposition’s suggestion that this clause will result in getting at the primary producer in some way.
I thought that the remarks of the honourable member for Sturt in attempting to ridicule the honourable member for Mallee for seeking properly to represent his electorate were in bad taste. 1 think any honourable member in this place would acknowledge that the majority of dried fruit growers are in his electorate. I do not know of any in the electorate of Sturt. If the honourable member for Sturt succeeds in sticking to his seat and his electorate for more than one term, and in being more than a oncer, perhaps he will begin to appreciate the effort put forward by the honourable member for Mallee on behalf of his constituents who are dried fruit growers, a fact of life of which the honourable member for Sturt bas no comprehension at all. I am certainly against what I imagine to be the amendment that the Opposition spokesman is about to move if the trend of the debate so far is significant of it.
has correctly foreshadowed, I intend to move an amendment. I move:
In doing so I would like to comment on the point made by the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) with which he dealt at length. The argument I put up was that a primary producer should not bc penalised compared with other members of society and should not have hanging over his head for 3 or 5 years a charge which has not been proved. The honourable member for Mallee replied that it would concern only those primary producers who had committed an offence, and so why worry about them? In other words, every person whom the Commonwealth thinks has committed an offence is guilty, according to the honourable member for Mallee. I ask: What about the people who have made a mistake? What about the people who are innocent?
– There is room for negotiation.
– I am replying to the honourable member for Mallee and saying that not all people are guilty. They are not guilty until the court passes judgment on them. The point I want to make is that the charge should not be hanging over their heads for 5 years or, as now proposed, 3 years. If the Crimes Act says that proceedings in relation to summary offences for which there is no term of imprisonment should commence within 12 months of the commission of the offence, surely it is good enough for the Commonwealth at least to honour that commitment with respect to a more minor offence. That is the main point that the Opposition makes. I cannot see why primary producers should be singled out and subjected to this lyne of differential treatment when other members of society have the right of the law on their side.
For a summary offence the proceedings must be commenced within 12 months of the commission of the offence. That is the basic point. It has been argued that there will need to be more inspectors and more time, and that inspectors have different jobs to do. One part of the Act says that for fruit delivered up to 30th September the levy must be paid by 30th November, but if it is delivered on 1st October the levy would not be payable until 12 or 14 months time. This situation can be overcome by a simple amendment to the Act. For example, it could say that the levy should be paid within 3 months after delivery to the factory. So that is not an argument at all. The basic question of principle is: Why should primary producers be singled out and subjected to unfair treatment in terms of the general provisions which apply to the rest of the community? I have heard no argument by the Government to support this. Honourable members opposite argued strongly that the period should be 5 years but, because the Democratic Labor Party in the Senate objected, they reduced it to 3 years. The DLP agreed to the 3 years, and the Bill is back in this chamber now. Government members, without giving any reasons for reducing the period from 5 to 3 years, are now arguing in favour of a period of 3 years. What sort of arguments are these? Surely officers of the Department of Primary Industry who advise the Minister in Cabinet submissions must have given considerable thought to making the period 5 years. The Opposition objected. It said that the general law of the land should be followed and that for a summary offence where imprisonment is not contemplated proceedings should be commenced within 12 months.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) argued consistently in favour of 5 years, but suddenly because the DLP objected in the Senate the period now becomes 3 years. The Government cannot dispute that, because those are the facts and Hansard will show it.
– Do you want to go one better?
– No. The Opposition has always said it should be 12 months. The honourable member for Cowper apparently believes that primary producers should be subjected to more severe penalties than other members of society who have committed even greater offences. I have stated basically what has been argued in the Senate and what the Opposition is arguing now. Honourable members on this side of the House believe that for a summary offence where no prosecution is involved the general law of the land should be obeyed and proceedings should be instituted within 12 months of the commission of the offence - not 5 years and not 3 years.
– The Government does not accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on behalf of the Opposition. The reasons why the Government will not accept it were put forward broadly by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), who is absent from Australia at the moment, during the second reading stage of the Bill. I want to reiterate briefly some of the points as to why the Government will not accept the amendment. The question of time limits for prosecution for offences against levy collection Acts has been debated in this House and in the Senate on a number of occasions. In some Acts there is no time limit at all. However, because of numerous requests from various people and organisations both inside and outside the Parliament the Government has had a look at the position and has decided to introduce a time limit in this ease.
The amendment put forward by the Opposition seeks to establish a time limit of 12 months. This is not a practical solution. First, it would be extremely costly. The administration would require a substantial increase in the number of inspectors employed by the Department to achieve the tremendous task of checking all books of records within any one year. In collecting levies under this type of legislation, which is brought in solely for the benefit of the rural industry concerned, the Government has no wish or intention to harass any producer or packing house proprietor. The honourable member for Dawson tried to paint for primary producers the picture that they were being penalised compared with the rest of the community. But the whole idea of the Bill is to help the primary producer, and the idea of the clause now concerned is to protect the primary producer engaged in the dried fruit industry who, as the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) rightly said, is doing the right thing by the industry and by his fellow growers.
In the event of a mistake being made there is allowance for negotiations between the Department and the producer. A court case is not automatic, as the honourable member for Dawson tried to imply and in fact stated. The whole idea of this clause is to protect the man who undertakes his obligations and duty under this scheme to his fellow primary producers. When the Government proposed the period of 5 years, as it stands at the moment in the Bill, it was allowing for several factors: First of all, time to detect the offence, and it could be and probably would be more than 1 year before inspections were undertaken of all establishments; and secondly, time for the Department and the producer or proprietor to negotiate without recourse to immediate prosecution.
The Government thought that 5 years was the most practical time. However, as an amendment seeking to reduce the time to 3 years was passed in the Senate, the Government and the Department of Primary Industry, whose duty it is to collect all the levies due, have had another look at the matter, and they have decided, on a reconsideration of all the arguments and the facts of the scheme, that the Department probably could carry out its duties under this legislation effectively if the period stated in clause 11 (2.) was 3 years instead of 5 years. That is why the Government has decided to agree with the amendment that was passed in another place and why the Government rejects the amendment put forward by the Opposition.
– First of all, I want to correct something that I said during the second reading debate on this measure. In referring to the levy referred to in the Dried Fruits Levy Bill 1971 I said in my speech that clause 11 provided that the 5-year period for prosecution would begin after the discovery of the offence by the inspector. That is not correct. The 5 years begins after the commission of the offence, whether the offence has been discovered or not. Of course, the date of the commitment of the offence by the grower may not be discovered at all. The offence may be discovered 2 weeks, 5 weeks or 1 year after it has been committed. But we on this side of the House believed that it was outrageous to have an offence hanging over the head of a grower for 5 years, and we said so, as our speeches reported in Hansard will show.
When this Bill went to the Senate an amendment to the clause providing for that 5-year period was passed because the Australian Democratic Labor Party voted with the Australian Labor Party. Now the Government has compromised on 3 years. Evidently it has satisfied the DLP that 3 years is all right. The only reason the Government is now trying to make the period 3 years is that the DLP has agreed to 3 years. We do not agree to that period. As a Party we still oppose 3 years, and the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) seeks to have it changed to 1 year.
It was pointed out in the original discussion of clause11 that 5 years could elapse after the commission of an offence before the offender was punished. However, the grower of the fruit could have died in the 5 years, or even 3 years, that elapsed between the time when he committed the offence and when his offence was discovered, making him liable to be punished to the tune of $200 if you please. His wife and family possibly would then have the onerous task of appearing in court to defend the deceased man who had committed an offence. Three years is still too long.
The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) claims that the Department of Primary Industry would have to increase the number of inspectors to be able to bring all offences to book within 12 months after their commission. Where are the records kept? They would be inspected by the inspectors in the packing shed, nowhere else. How many packing sheds are there? There are not many of them. An inspector would only have to go through the packing sheds that have been established as part of the stabilisation plan for this industry. Every packer is also up for penalty under this Bill if he does not do his job correctly. Every packer is responsible for the payment of levy, which he has to get from the grower. Therefore the packer has the records of every grower in his area, and if a grower has not paid the levy all the inspector has to do is ask the packer: Which grower who has delivered fruit to your packing shed has not paid the levy?
– According to the Minister’s second reading speech, there are only 40 sheds.
– I thank the honourable member for Sturt. I feel that it is just an excuse to argue that the Department of Primary Industry would need a lot more inspectors if the period were reduced to 1 year. There are only 40 sheds through which this fruit passes. The offence that is being struck at by this clause is obviously the non-payment of levy. The packer is responsible for that, and he would know every grower who came to his shed who did not pay his levy. Why does the Department need 3 years to discover an offence like this when it has to inspect only 40 packing sheds? We still feel that this provision is an unfair and unjust burden upon the growers of our dried fruits. Therefore we still stick to what we proposed in our original amendment, that is, that the period be reduced to 1 year.
The penalty is $200. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) read the clause but he did not read the penalty. This amount is a lot of money for growers who are struggling. We cannot understand the attitude of the Country Party, whose members allegedly support these growers in the electorates which they represent, in allowing the 3-year limit to be agreed to. The honourable member for Angas must be very careful whom he insults in this debate because everyone is a consumer of dried fruits. No grower tries to insult the consumer of his fruit. We even eat this fruit here from the tables in the Parliamentary Dining Room. So the honourable member for Angas has no right to insult the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), who is a very large consumer of dried fruits.
That the amendment (Dr Patterson’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 7 April (vide page 1 624); on motion by Mr Hughes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Subsequent to answering the question of the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) relating to the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and his presence at the Victorian office of the Department of Labour and National Service yesterday morning, I want to-
– I rise to a point of order. Is it not the usual practice to ask: Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Of course I have been misrepresented.
– The Minister has the leave of the House to make a personal explanation.
– Subsequent to answering the-
– Was the honourable member for Lalor informed of this?
– The Chair does not know of this matter.
– Subsequent to answering the question of the honourable member for La Trobe relating to the honourable member for Lalor and his presence at the office of the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne yesterday morning, I want to emphasise that the unedited text - the unedited text, I repeat that twice, deliberately - of my reply has been carefully checked with senior officers of my Department, including the Regional Director in Victoria, Mr Allen. As honourable members will recall, there were totally different presentations of the events which occurred. Consequently only one of the accounts could be true. I now wish to present the facts given to me by the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service who were present.
AsI indicated in my reply to the honourable member’s question, there were three main points of difference between the circumstances surrounding the action taken against the women and those in relation to the presence of the honourable member for Lalor. He did not sit on the floor and obstruct traffic as did the women. To my knowledge, he did not utter vulgarities as did at least one of the women. He voluntarily left the premises after discussion with Mr Allen. The women, after being warned and after repeated efforts by a police officer to persuade them, refused to leave. These events are vouched for by officers of my Department. Mr Allen is emphatic, from his notes made at the time, that he explained the facts about the women to the honourable member for Lalor. Two other officers who were present throughout the discussions confirmed this. It must now be obvious to honourable members of this House that the account I gave at question time this morning was correct.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I heard just the latter part of what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) said, and it is the latter part which 1 think is significant. I heard him say that Mr Allen, the Regional Director, and 2 other members of the staff said that they explained to me the full circumstances of what the women did. 1 do not know what the term full circumstances’ means, but I say without fear of contradiction that no-one referred to anything that the women did when I was in Mr Allen’s office - not Mr Allen nor any of the other members of his staff. The only references they made to any offensive behaviour was offensive behaviour in general. Mr Allen said: ‘I do not want my staff to be the subject of any offensive or insulting behaviour.’ At no stage did he ever suggest that the women had been responsible for any offensive or insulting behaviour. I am completely clear about the conversation. Indeed, I asked him whether he had any complaints to make about the women and he said: ‘No.’ I said: ‘Were you responsible for any action?’ He said: ‘No.’ Then he was reminded, by Mr Elkington 1 think, that they had been forcibly removed from the office of the Department of Labour and National Service, and then Mr Allen seemed to recall that and admitted that they had been. But that was the only reference which he made to the women. He made no complaint about them calling anybody a ‘Facist pig’. He made no complaint about them sitting down anywhere.
In respect of other inquiries I have made, I find that the only time when any of these women were on the floor is when they were being dragged out or lifted out of the Department of Labour and National Service into the hallway where they could be arrested legally. That dragging them out of the Department was strictly illegal, because until the Bill which is now before this House is passed there is no power to do that. I say quite clearly that the statement which the Minister has just made as an account of what his 3 officers said is incorrect.
– Mr Speaker, in this resumed debate on the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill 1971 the first thing I wish to do is to join with those honourable members who have congratulated the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) on his maiden speech. It was indeed a very thoughtful and sustained analysis of the problems with which this legislation is concerned. Its significance as a contribution to the debate is amply shown by the fact that honourable members who spoke after him clearly felt obliged to take up and discuss the thesis that the honourable member for Chisholm developed in his speech. 1 wish him well for his future as a member of this House.
The speeches that have been made in this debate by Opposition members have at least made clear both the fact that they oppose the Bill and the grounds on which they oppose it. It is said that it is an unnecessary Bill and that the law already covers the offences created by the Bill, although it is significant to note in passing that the honourable member for Lalor (Df J. F. Cairns) in the personal explanation he has just made to the House indicated that there was at least one set of circumstances that was not yet an offence but which would be an offence when this Bill was passed. But Opposition members say that the law already covers the offences created by the Bill, that the Bill is repressive and imposes restrictions on individual liberty that are quite unwarranted and that it attempts to prevent people from exercising their basic rights. All of these allegations are untrue, and it can be shown quite clearly that they are untrue. All that Opposition members have to do is to read the Bill and read the second reading speech of the former Attorney-General. Instead of imagining what the Bill says and fulminating against it, they should read the clauses of the Bill, read the limitations that it does impose on conduct that should be condemned and practices that should be penalised and read the qualifications and the exemptions that are written into the Bill to protect people charged with offences under the Bill, and they will see that the Bill is not restrictive or oppressive and that it does not impose unjustified limitations on the exercise of people’s liberties and rights.
Indeed, my attitude to the debate so far is that it is quite clear that the Opposition’s attitude has been far too glib and superficial. I will take one example in passing. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) chided the Government with some force for not having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and he said that this was certainly something that the Australian Government should do. This being a particularly glib and superficial statement, I had inquiries made concerning the situation with this United Nations Covenant and which countries, if any, had ratified it. I obtained a list of the 8 countries that have ratified the covenant. The Covenant is one of 2 Covenants, the other being the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The list of those countries that have ratified the Covenant is indeed a dazzling one. I do not know whether these countries are the ones to which the Leader of the Opposition is continually referring as being comparable countries on which Australia should base its policies and attitudes. But the list is particularly dazzling, lt consists of Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, Libya, Syria and Uruguay. They are the countries which have ratified this United Nations Covenant, and the Leader of the Opposition suggests that Australia should do likewise. As the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) says, perhaps the Leader of the Opposition wants us to get with the strength. I suppose it is quite all right for countries that practise slavery and have completely atavistic political and social systems blindly to enter into a United Nations convention, to ratify it blindly irrespective of whether they ever intend to put it into practice. I suppose that is all right. But fortunately we do not live in a country like that. Fortunately we live in a country where the Government will not ratify a United Nations covenant or resolution until it is satisfied, first of all, that all the ramifications on a Federal and State basis have been examined and looked at very thoroughly and, secondly, that it is a covenant or resolution that can be put into practice. It is pointless to ratify a covenant or resolution like that when there is no chance of putting it into practice.
Let me deal first of all with the legal point involved, the allegation that the Bill is unnecessary because the law already provides for the offences that the Bill creates and that all that is needed is to enforce the laws that are already on the statute books. The Leader of the Opposition in his speech said that this was certainly his view. He said:
The offences are already covered by the law. The laws are quite firm. The penalties are quite heavy. They have not been called in aid.
Again I ask Opposition members to read the Bill and the second reading speech of the former Attorney-General. If they do that they will see that there is a need for this Bil] and that the law is not now in such a condition that they can say with any authority at all that this Bill is unnecessary. The Bill is necessary because there are many gaps in the law that should be filled; there are many inconsistencies that should be rectified; there are many penalties that should be made uniform throughout Australia so far as the Commonwealth has the power to do that; and in many cases there are penalties that should be made less harsh than they now are.
Why then has this Bill been introduced? The former Attorney-General in his second reading speech stated clearly and simply why the Bill was necessary. He said: . . certain events have caused attention to be focussed upon the field of law with which the Bill is concerned. I do not intend to convey that matters have got out of hand or that situations have arisen, either in the mainland Territories or elsewhere, that require the enactment of repressive measures. That is not the purpose of the present Bill. But incidents have occurred that have been disturbing and that have caused the Government to undertake an examination of the existing law - to look at its content and its suitability to present-day conditions. The former AttorneyGeneral went on to say: The Government has decided that it should undertake the task of balancing the various interests, of making an effort to achieve a synthesis of freedom and order, as the objective has been described, in a suitable modern statute covering, but expressly limited to, matters within the area of Commonwealth legislative responsibility.
That is the way the former Attorney-General Genera] explained the necessity for this Bill. It is only a simple basic point that has to be grasped to see why this Bill is necessary. The Commonwealth has a domestic obligation to maintain public order in its own Territories and on its own property and also has an international obligation to protect members of diplomatic and consular staffs and representatives of international organisations who are in Australia, and also to protect their property.
Take Commonwealth premises themselves. The law that operates on those premises in the States is State law. It is State law applied in many cases by an Act of this Parliament entitled the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act. That legislation was not opposed by the Opposition when it passed through this Parliament. It was passed because in the absence of such an Act there was a possibility that there was no law which applied on Commonwealth property in the States. Those State laws applying to Commonwealth premises create offences and impose penalties when those offences are committed. But what types of penalties are provided for by those State laws? Take, as one example, unlawful assembly on Commonwealth property that exists in one State or another. Under the present law if that offence is committed on Commonwealth property in Queensland the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 1 year. If the offence is committed in Tasmana the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine or 21 years imprisonment. If it is committed in South Australia the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine or unlimited imprisonment in the discretion of the court. It is quite a ridiculous situation when for the same offence committed on Commonwealth property in any of the States there is such a vast disparity as this in the penalties that can be imposed.
Surely it is sensible and surely it is reasonable that the Government should take steps to ensure that common and uniform laws and penalties exist throughout Australia so far as the Commonwealth is concerned for identical offences committed on Commonwealth property no matter in which State the property happens to be. Uniformity is not always desirable or necessary but where there is the common factor of Commonwealth property in one State or another, that is a connecting factor which does justify having uniform substantive laws and uniform penalties. One could go on and look at all of the offences with which this Bill is concerned and say of each and every one of them that there is great disparity between the penalties that can be imposed under the different State laws that now operate on Commonwealth premises in the States. There is not one single offence of the type of offences with which this Bill is concerned where the penalties are uniform throughout the whole of Australia. It is ludicrous for the Opposition to say that there is no need for this legislation when such glaring disparities in penalties under the existing law stare one in the face.
But it is not just a matter of penalties, it is a matter of substantive law also. Just take two examples, one of which I have already referred to in passing. The honourable member for Lalor in his personal explanation to the House tonight described certain events that had occurred in Melbourne with a certain heroic glee as if he was very proud he had taken part in them, and he indicated that what had happened was not an offence and would not be an offence until this Bill was passed. That is one example certainly of a new substantive law that is apparently necessary and from what the honourable member for Lalor said it is necessary, and is certainly a new law that will be introduced in this Bill. Secondly, the former Attorney-General indicated in his second reading speech that there is no law except in New South Wales and Victoria under recent amendments to the law there, to cover the offence known popularly as a sit-in. I would have thought the events of the last few days in Melbourne indicate that there is a need for such a law. Surely this type of conduct should be an offence and surely the law should adequately cover that type of situation so that it can be stopped.
The Leader of the Opposition apparently thinks so himself. In his speech on this Bill he said that contemptible and cowardly invasions of Commonwealth premises should be condemned. He added:
The people who participated in those invasions, those threats, those demonstrations, those sit-ins should have been brought to trial.
I entirely agree with the Leader of the Opposition and I suggest that he convey that advice to his colleague, the honourable member for Lalor. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition goes much further than the Bill goes because he apparently, judging from what he said, believes that demonstrations themselves should be outlawed.
He used the words specifically and in that sense. I would remind the House, however, that there is nothing against demonstrations in this Bill unless the demonstrations are accompanied by physical violence, damage to property or the impending threat of violence or damage to property. Demonstrations themselves, and, indeed, any expression of dissent by any means other than using violence or in a situation where violence is impending are lawful and remain lawful after this Bill is passed.
But there is the other aspect of the archaic and crusty law that presently governs public order. 1 suggest there is a very strong case for suggesting that it should be overhauled. It is probably touching to some that we should still have on our statute books ancient statutes such as the Riots and Tumults Suppression Act of 1393. I suppose it is touching to some that there are offences on the books that can bc dealt with by indefinite imprisonment or having to surrender one’s armour to the King, and laws that are articulated half in French and half in ancient English. It is very interesting but it is quite irrelevant to our present position and I think that reason alone is sufficient justification for this legislation being passed.
I want to turn to the other aspect. 1 have already said there are two obligations on a Government, one a domestic obligation and the other an international obligation. The other area of the Bill which deals with the protection of diplomatic and consular personnel and property is also necessary and should be welcomed. Honourable members should look at the catalogue of attacks on diplomatic and consular property in Australia, the bombings and the arson that are listed in the answer given on 7th April to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. That catalogue is enough by itself to justify specific laws to prevent such outrages. I would have thought there was an obvious need for legislation to cover that type of activity, legislation which refers specifically to that type of activity, and I would have thought there would be no opposition to it.
Australia has this international obligation. It has it because it is a party to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. That Convention was ratified by the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities
Act 1967. Article 22 of that treaty imposes on Australia a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the diplomatic missions established in Australia against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity. Other articles in that Convention impose similar obligations on this Government. I would have thought it is clear beyond any doubt that when a government enters into a convention which is subsequently ratified, and when that convention states that there is a duty on the Government to take particular steps, then the Government has failed in that obligation unless it ensures that its own laws are in order, unless it ensures that it has laws which specifically deal with the matters it is bound by the convention to take account of, and unless it ensures this particular case that there are laws which refer to attacks on diplomatic and consular property and diplomatic and consular personnel. I would have thought that this is such a clear case that 1 am surprised the Opposition has indicated it is opposed to that part of the legislation too.
It has been alleged in a more general way that this Bill stifles dissent, that if stamps out demonstrations, that it is restrictive and reactionary. The honourable member for Lalor says we live in a police state in Australia and that this Bill is one more nail in the coffin of democracy driven by a police state government. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has said, and it is a particularly rash observation, that this Bill reverses the onus of proof in that there is some onus placed on an accused person to prove his innocence. That is ridiculous. One has only to look at the Bill to see that there is nothing in it which reverses the normal onus on a prosecution to prove its case. The prosecution makes the allegation and it has to prove it. The prosecution has to prove it by evidence. The defendant can rebut the case by evidence of his own. Eventually the court makes its decision. I repeat - and it is important - that the onus is on the prosecution to prove its case. If there is any doubt, under the general law, which is not touched by this Act, the benefit of the doubt is still given to the defendant - the accused.
The Bill does not stifle dissent. It does not affect the right to demonstrate. In respect of any offence that it may create it is left to the courts to decide whether the accused is guilty. Let me illustrate that by one example. The honourable member for Lalor took particular exception to that clause of the Bill referring to the assessment by a police sergeant that violence might bc about to occur. I would suggest that honourable members look particularly at this clause to see what offence it does create. Certainly the policeman may have in his mind a reasonable apprehension that violence is about to occur, but what goes to the court is, firstly, whether the policeman had that belief and, secondly, whether it was a reasonable belief. I repeat that this is a particular example which illustrates the point that it is always open for the accused - whether it is the honourable member for Lalor or anyone else - to give evidence on oath in court to show that the policeman did not have that belief or that it was an unreasonable belief.
Apparently Opposition members do not like the courts. They do not like cases such as this being left to the courts to decide. I suggest, without saying it specifically, it is fairly clear why they do not like cases such as this being left to the courts. The honourable member for Wills said that the little man does not have a chance. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) said that the police are usually telling lies and that they regard their obligation to prove a case as a game; they give evidence irrespective of whether they believe it is true. Those are serious and absurd allegations. From a purely practical legal level, any practitioner knows that one cannot make assumptions such as that, lt is interesting that the case cited by the honourable member for Wills and the case cited by the honourable member for Prospect had a common feature. The common feature was that the accused was acquitted. Those cases were put to show that one could not trust the courts. The cases were raised as illustrations. In both cases the accused was believed and was acquitted. They are extraordinary illustrations to use in support of the outrageous proposition made by those 2 honourable members.
This is reasonable legislation. I return to where I started. The honourable member for Chisholm emphasised that what had to be sought was a balance between freedom and necessary restraints. I would suggest that this Bill eminently maintains that balance.
– The longer the Government speaks out on this matter of law and order, the more obvious it becomes that the matter in issue is not that of law and order but rather the sincerity and the moral values of this Government. Let us look at the facts. Our society is split asunder on the issue of the Vietnam debacle and both industry and union leaders are fearful of uncontrolled inflation upon our economy - issues which threaten to strike at the very heart of the Government. Suddenly the Government wants to proclaim itself as the champion of law and order. The Government was not interested in law and order in 1966 when an attempt was made to assassinate the then Leader of the Australian Labor Party, the Right Honourable Arthur Calwell. It was not interested in law and order in 1969 when the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and his wife were brutally assaulted in the privacy of their home. It was not interested in law and order more recently when bombs were thrown by Fascist terrorists into the Yugoslav Embassy in Hawthorn. To the contrary, it appears that the Government condones this type of violence, as the only reaction to date has been to declare the Embassy a public nuisance and to ask the occupants to vacate the premises.
Suddenly, after a near defeat in a vital Senate election and after defeat of the Liberal Party candidate in the Murray byelection, the Government suggests that we need more Federal political laws to give us law and order. We did not need these laws when Mr Calwell was the target of an assassin’s bullet and when Dr Cairns and his wife were the innocent victims of brutal thugs. Suddenly, if we are to believe the Government, we need them now. Clearly the onus is on the Government to explain why we suddenly need more Federal political laws, because the timing and the extent of its law and order interests raise questions about its sincerity. While the Government is at it, it should also explain to the people of Australia . why its sincerity does not extend to those problems in our community where enlightened action is required urgently. I have in mind such problems as our rising crime rate, our appalling road toll, the desperate plight of our pensioners and the depressed state of our rural economy, to name but a few. The facts are there for all to see. The Government was not concerned with law and order when members of the Labor Party were the victims of law breakers.
The Government has been utterly apathetic about our rising crime rate. There is no concern about the growth rate of undetected crimes, particularly crimes of violence against people. When we realise that we already have a Crimes Act in our Commonwealth Statutes and that every State has a Crimes Act, each with special sections dealing with precisely the same supposed breaches of the law as this Bill, one can feel only that the Bill and the debate provoked by presenting it are nothing more than a political exercise designed by the Government to divert public attention away from its other more desperate inadequacies. Every night packs of undisciplined young hooligans roam the streets of our big cities bashing, robbing and terrorising ordinary citizens who are going about their lawful business. Many of these attacks are not reported to the police because of the futility of achieving results. In Victoria in 1969 and 1970 only 21 persons were charged with wilful trespass in relation to political demonstrations. Of these, only 13 were convicted. In other words, the Government feels that it needs the repressive weight of a special law and order legislation to prosecute a few people each year, while violence and crime in increasing proportions go undetected by totally inadequate police forces and go unpunished.
This Bill is a repressive Bill designed to silence the thinking section of our community. Does the Government expect us to believe that the matters which give rise to this Bill are more serious than our growing crime rate? Does the Government expect us to believe that we need new laws when our glaring deficiency at the moment is our inability to enforce existing laws? All Australia is concerned about the carnage on our roads, yet the Government has done nothing. It can spend valuable parliamentary time bringing down more Federal political laws, yet it is utterly unconcerned about road safety. The Government gives our pensioners a rise of 7c a day and then takes it all back from them by increasing telephone and postal charges. After 20 years in office the Government blames everybody but itself for the problems of rural Australia. What a record of insincerity, and it does not stop there. There are laws on our books that are in urgent need of reform, but the Government has refused to act. Not only has it refused to tackle this urgent problem of law reform but it has demonstrated over and over again that it has absolutely no hesitation in using these insidious Federal laws to its political advantage.
Consider for a moment the Crimes Act. Amendments to this Act were rushed through Parliament in I960, as a matter of extreme urgency, to protect us from threats to our democratic way of life. The only use that has been made of this Act has been to limit the democratic rights of our public servants. Speaking about the rights of public servants the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) - the then Attorney-General and, strangely enough, now occupying the same position - in July 1969 said:
I would say that probably a better formulation of the rule would be in more general terms and say that while a man remains in the Public Service he should not speak publicly about policies.
However, it should be added that in almost every election since the Dawson by-election in 1966 the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association has protested at Sir John McEwen’s use of senior officials of the Department of Trade and Industry to write political speeches and briefs while he was Minister for Trade and Industry. As recently as last September nobody in the Government raised any objections to the former Prime Minister’s use of the Australian News and Information Bureau for blatant political purposes.
It is obvious from these attitudes that the Government’s application of the Crimes Act is restricted to those who would oppose its views. This is the sort of misuse of authority that brings the law into disrespect This is the sort of contemptuous use of power that brings Parliament into disrepute. It is hardly surprising then that this Government is perfectly happy with the National Service Act which for the first time in our history conscripts our youth to fight in an undeclared foreign war and for the first time in our history has put political prisoners in our gaols. Nor is it surprising that this Government is determined to continue to deny land right to our Aboriginals. Yet, with this record of insincerity, this Government has the audacity to proclaim itself as being dedicated to law and order. Its dedication, Mr Speaker, is both uninspiring and impotent.
I submit that the true colours of this Government were nailed to the mast by the then Attorney-General, the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), when he spoke at a seminar on constitutional development for New Guinea. The honourable gentleman was reported in the Age’ of 31st August last year as saying:
A Bill of Human Rights is in truth a statement of political slogans, or political principles.
He said that he objected to a Bill of Rights with entrenched guarantees in a constitution because any legislation was examinable by the courts. In other words, this Government is opposed to any explicit expression of the bask human freedoms of opinion, of conscience, of movement and. especially important m this age, of privacy, because it believes that such expressions are merely political slogans. It forgets, of course, that really there were only political slogans in the Dark Ages when the people were oppressed by the unfettered exploitation of laissez-faire capitalism. It forgets, of course, that they are still only political slogans today for the coloured people of South Africa. The difference between the Government and the Labor Party is that, unlike the Government, the Labor Party is dedicated to bringing these political slogans into political realities.
It is also worth noting that the Government appears to have no objections to the Australian Constitution, dedicated as it is to the protection of property, because it has done nothing about the recommendations for constitutional reform made by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform. Even when its esteemed Party colleague, Sir Henry Bolte, spectacularly joined the ranks of the dissenters and called for a referendum to update the Constitution it did nothing. We can only assume that Government supporters agree with their colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Bury), who dis missed Sir Henry’s plea for constitutional reform as a ‘fatuous exercise’.
How can the people of Australia accept the sincerity of this Government, a government opposed to any explicit definition of the rights of our people; a government committed to perpetuating all the inadequacies of our Constitution; a government that has done nothing to combat our rising crime rate; a government that is utterly unconcerned about our appalling road toll, a government that plays confidence tricks on our pensioners; a government that blames everybody but itself for the plight of rural Australia; a government that has shown itself not only to be opposed to law reform but also to have no hesitation in using both the law and the Public Service for its own political advantage? Surely, Mr Speaker, with this record the best that can be said about this Government is that its moral judgments are based on what it believes it can get away with.
These are hardly the qualities we need in our champions of law and order. They are not even up to the standard of Pontius Pilate whose famous moral judgment at least was based on what he believed the people wanted. All the moral leaders in our community have criticised the National Service Act because it imprisons young men who refuse to fight in an undeclared foreign war that they believe to be immoral, unjust, dirty and repugnant.
-Order! 1 think the Chair has been fairly lenient with the honourable member. The honourable member is digressing a good deal.
– I am only saying, with respect, Mr Speaker-
– This is the third time during the course of his speech that he has referred to these subjects. Whilst the honourable member may make passing reference to these matters they shall not and cannot form the main part of a debate on the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill.
– I accept your guidance, Mr Speaker. Naturally, these outcries do not give the Government any moral problems because it has never displayed any inclinations other than that which it describes as the will of the majority. One suspects that this decay in the Government’s moral fibre is what prompted Sir Paul Hasluck to point out in the 1968 Garran Oration:
Some Ministers never glimpse the truth that the government of a nation is different from advancing the interests of half a nation.
This Government, like its former AttorneyGeneral, is opposed to any explicit definition of basic human rights because such a definition would place limits on it. It is time that it was pointed out to this Government that there is a difference between democracy and the dictatorship of the majority. Until there is a government in this land that appreciates the depth and reality of this difference, the best Australia can hope for as regards law and order is the embodiment of the morality of a Pontius Pilate. While this Government remains in office all the great human values of tolerance, understanding and compassion, which are the only true bases for law and order, will remain merely political slogans.
The tragedy of this debate, Mr Speaker, is that this Government has taken law and order, the dream of every civilised man through all of history, and reduced it, along with all other good intentions, to the squalid level of a political slogan, one that it picked up at, of all places, an impromptu cricket match at a suburban front door. The truth of the matter, Mr Speaker, is that this Government is so concerned with the dissent within its ranks, is so embarrassed by its close association with the Fascist policies of the racist governments of southern Africa, so confused by the shambles of its administration - as manifested in the Fill fiasco, the plight of our pensioners and the depression of rural Australia - and so terrified at the prospect of running out of Communists that it has become paranoically pre-occupied with its own survival. The depth of the despair of this pre-occupation is obvious in this Bill. It is a Bill that we do not need and one that every thinking Australian recognises as cynically irrelevant to all the great issues and problems of this time.
– The primary purpose of this Bill is to modernise and make uniform, so far as concerns the mailand Territories of the Commonwealth and the premises of the Commonwealth wherever in Australia they may be, the law which protects the rights of the public against disorderly assemblies. The need for such a Bill was plainly and cogently stated by the then Attorney-General, the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), in moving the motion for the second reading. I support the Bill for the reasons he then gave.
The second purpose of the Bill is to make new and special provision for the protection, anywhere in Australia, of those who represent other countries here, and of the premises they occupy. This provision is made by Part III of the Bill. Because of the importance of this matter for Australia’s international relations, 1 draw it to the particular attention of the House. 1 do this, Mr Speaker, in my capacity as Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The duty to protect against interference, injury or damage the representatives of other countries, and the premises they occupy, is not a new one. As part of the customary law of nations, it has rested on Australia ever since we became a nation, though more recently the rules have been embodied in a series of international conventions, notably the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), to which Australia and nearly 100 other countries are party. Broadly expressed, the special duty imposed by international law on a state that receives a diplomatic or special mission, or consents to the establishment of a consular post, is to take appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission or post against intrusion or damage, to prevent any attack on the person, freedom or dignity of the personnel of the mission or post and to prevent disturbance of the peace, or impairment of the dignity, of the mission or post. This is set 0’>t in clause 14 of the Bill.
To a considerable extent, the steps that are ‘appropriate’ to the discharge of this duty in relation to what the Bill calls ‘protected persons’ and ‘protected premises’ will be administrative rather than legislative measures - the provision, for example, of a special police guard. Honourable members will know that measures of this kind are already in operation in Australia, in situations where injury is apprehended. But in the nature of things such preventive action can never in practice give absolute protection. If, notwithstanding precautionary measures, injury or damage is done to the representative of another country, to the premises he occupies, the host state falls under a secondary duty to do its utmost to identify the offender and bring him to justice. This is why the existence of an adequate law is so necessary.
Hitherto in Australia, as in other countries under a developed legal system, the general law that applies to the members of the Australian community has seemed sufficient to discharge Australia’s international legal duty. Those who represent other countries have had the full protection for person and property that Australian citizens themselves enjoyed, and that has seemed enough. Of late, times have changed. Resort to disorderly assemblies and demonstrations, often in deliberate disregard of the rights of others, has made it necessary for this Parliament to review, so far as its own powers extend, the existing law of public order. As the then AttorneyGeneral said in moving the second reading, much of the existing law of public assemblies in Australia is archaic, diverse, unduly severe, difficult to find, and difficult to apply. The chief object of this Bill is to clarify, simplify, modernise and improve the law of public assemblies, as regards the Commonwealth Territories on the mainland and Commonwealth premises everywhere in Australia.
The general law of public order is, of course, a matter not for the Commonwealth but for the States. But the powers of this Parliament extend to the protection of the representatives of other countries in Australia, and the premises they occupy, wherever they may be in Australia. Accordingly, the improvements which this Bill makes in Commonwealth law need to be applied also to the protection of the representatives of other governments, and their premises. This in effect is what Part III of the Bill does. Some of the protected persons, but by no means all, are to be found in this Territory, to which Part II of the Bill applies. In particular, most of the diplomatic missions strictly so called, and their staffs, are in the Australian Capital Territory - though not yet all, even of these. Numerous foreign consular posts and Commonwealth trade offices are located in State capitals. More than 250 men and women are in fact performing consular functions in Australia.
I mention also the international governmental organisations to which Australia belongs and which frequently hold meetings in Australia - in recent months, for example, the Commonwealth Education Conference, a technical conference under the International Atomic Energy Agency, and meetings of ECAFE and ANZUS. Questions of protection arise in connection with the representatives of other governments attending meetings of international organisations, just as much as in relation to permanent diplomatic missions. In addition, Australia is frequently host to special missions, conducted by heads of state, heads of government or top-ranking Ministers.
The protection of representatives of foreign countries, and their premises, is an Australia-wide responsibility, and not merely a matter for this Territory. It is desirable that the appropriate measure of protection should apply uniformly, wherever in Australia it is required, and should not depend on the particular State or Territory in which the persons or the premises happen to be. This is the principle on which Part III has been included in the Bill.
It is deplorable that in recent years representatives of some foreign governments, and their premises, seem to have become increasingly the object of disorderly, and even violent, dissent or protest. Ours is a free society. People have a right to express their views as individuals, or in peaceful assembly with their fellows, and there is nothing in this Bill which interferes with such a right. But the rights we enjoy in a free society must be exercised with proper respect for the rights of others.
To ensure that the citizen’s right of assembly is so exercised is the essential purpose of the Bill as a whole and the constant thread of purpose that runs through all its detailed provisions. So far as concerns assemblies, and offences committed by persons participating in assemblies, Part III of the Bill applies to protected persons and protected premises, Australiawide, the same rules as are laid down in Part II of the Bill for the mainland Territories and for Commonwealth premises. What is special here is not the content of the rules but their Australia-wide application as Commonwealth law.
Recent Australian experience has shown only too plainly that, apart altogether from actions associated with assemblies, the representatives of other countries need protection also against acts of isolated individuals or groups; in particular, against acts of interference, trespass, obstruction or harassment. This protection is. provided by clauses 18 and 20 of the Bill, which are in no way limited to the conduct of participants in an assembly. Clause 18 covers assaults, obstructions and harassment: offered to protected persons, whether in the course of an assembly or by an isolated individual offender. The same applies io the trespass and other offences on protected premises, which are dealt with in clause 20.
The Bill is thus principally concerned with the conduct of participants in assemblies and to fill gaps in the law of trespass and of interference with persons. Damage to property by isolated individuals, and apart from any assembly, is not within the scope of the Bill but will continue to be covered, as at present, by the general civil and criminal law of the State or Territory where the damage occurs. I mention this particularly because of recent incidents involving bomb damage to consular premises in Melbourne and diplomatic premises here m Canberra. In respect of the latter incident, proceedings have in fact been taken under the general criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory, which will continue to apply to such incidents notwithstanding the passage of the present Bill.
The same position, as the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said in answering a question without notice of 18th March, would apply to any daubing of slogans, by individuals not participating in an assembly, on the walls of the South African Embassy. Similar conduct by participants in an assembly would of course be covered by the Bill. Id all cases of this kind every effort has been made, and will be made, to detect and locate the offenders and bring them to justice.
The special position accorded .by international law to the representatives of foreign governments, and their premises, is not primarily designed to promote their personal advantage or comfort. Privileges, immunities and protection are accorded so that protected persons may be able to perform, without local interference and harassment, their functions as representa tives of their own state. In all this the House will have much in mind the essential element of reciprocity. Australia has its own representatives overseas, with important duties to discharge, sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances. They need, just as much as the foreign representatives whom we receive here, to feel free from obstruction, from harassment and from violence, and to be confident that they can rely on the host state to provide them with proper protection. The Parliament has its own part to play in maintaining in Australia the kind of conditions that Australia has a right to expect, as a sending state, for its own representatives abroad. I support the Bill.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill in the sense that we think there should not be protection for public places, for public representatives and for diplomatic representatives. Our objection is rather with what the Bill fails to do. The Opposition objects to the fact that this Bill has been introduced at a time when many other pressing matters require attention. It is true as the then Attorney-General said in his second reading speech that much of the existing law on assemblies is archaic, diverse, difficult to find, difficult to apply and imposes absurdly grave penalties for minor breaches. However, it is rather strange that in making his point he referred to laws which went back to the 12th century and which are still on the statute books in this country. After all the vicissitudes which this country has gone through - 2 world wars and a depression - one would wonder why it has suddenly become necessary to alter these laws. After all, no court is bound to impose the maximum penalty that was set in the days of King Charles. Surely there is no need suddenly to mitigate penalties when the courts themselves are quite capable of bringing this sort of thing up to date. Where has the need arisen for amendment?
The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) told us of cases of bombing embassies. This is something that has become a grave threat in recent times. We have had occurrences of aeroplane hijacking. These are the types of crimes that are becoming a menace. If this was the motive in bringing forward this type of Bill we would not have any quarrel with it, but as the Minister indicated in his speech this is not the motive. In fact the Minister for National Development in concentrating on the matter of protecting diplomatic personnel, missions and posts told us that the law has always required Australia to safeguard these persons and in their functions. The very point that the Opposition makes in this debate is that the existing law provides for the protection of these persons and places.
One of the pernicious things that we want to stress in this debate is the question of what is a reasonable apprehension of violence. In the second reading speech the then Attorney-General said that it is quite an objective test because it will be decided by the Court on the basis of evidence. He said:
The Bill provides objective criteria for determining whether an offence has been committed. For example … the test is whether the apprehension is a ‘reasonable’ one. Its reasonableness is to be decided by the Court in the light of the evidence.
That is all very well if the court is reasonable, and sometimes it is. We hope it always will be. But the pernicious aspect of this phrase as applied in this Bill is that these offences are to be dealt with by summary jurisdiction without any option given to the person charged. In other words, a magistrate can sit on his bench - magistrates are not unknown to do this - and at any stage declare a sentence. They do not have to hear the full argument. They are subject to bias in such cases. They are subject to influence by police. I think it is nonsense to say that every policeman tells lies. I do not think this happens, but I do think that in courts of summary jurisdiction there is a great temptation which is frequently given into by policemen to go through a routine, a formula of given evidence, without much regard to the truth because it is never tested. This is a danger that has grown in recent times. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) stressed it. Perhaps he overstressed it. Perhaps he overstated his case in saying that police are usually playing games, if he did say that. But let us remember that the honourable member for Prospect is one of the very few people in this country who has taken action outside the Parliament to counteract this very pernicious development in courts of summary jurisdiction and in the police forces, and who has successfully through his civil liberties movement helped to fight actions which prove the very accusation be was making that there is this tendency to make a game of courts; that there is this tendency to manipulate evidence and to convict people on suspicion. This is the point we object to and this is the safeguard we ask for.
Our amendment seeks to omit the words other than an offence against section 7 or section 16, are punishable on summary conviction’ from clause 23 of the Bill. We say that offences against this Bill should not be determined summarily except with the consent of the defendant. We think that is the very minimum safeguard because even the consent of the defendant can be manipulated by threat or by holding out to him the prospect that he will get off a lot more lightly if the matter is dealt with summarily and if he pleads guilty. We think that is the very minimum that this Government ought to accept as an amendment to this pernicious aspect on summary jurisdiction.
While 1 am on this point I must draw attention to the fact that in clause 24 of the Bill a person who has been charged has no right to be given the full particulars of the conduct which is the subject of the charge. Surely it is contrary to one of the basic principles of British justice for an accused person not to be given full particulars of the charge. What is the objection? What is the Government frightened of? There can be no objection to giving this information because without it a person has to plead on an imperfect knowledge of what he is alleged to have done. It is true that in most cases the courts would be aware of this but we are not convinced that all courts will therefore acknowledge this and will act on it, particularly if the defendant is not in a position to defend himself with full legal knowledge as so often occurs in courts of summary jurisdiction.
A further point raised in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General relates to persons assembling for a common purpose who act in such a way as to give a reasonable apprehension that there may be violence. The reasonable apprehension is in the mind of a sergeant of police or someone of higher rank. T have no doubt that the great majority of police sergeants, and certainly the ones that I have had to deal with, try to do their best according to their lights to interpret and carry out their orders and the law. This is certainly so in the case of the one who questioned me recently on behalf of the AttorneyGeneral. But I want to question this whole notion of what is a reasonable apprehension of violence. I want to quote an editorial from the newspaper which says under its heading on the front page: “The paper you can trust’ - from the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 6th May 1970. The editorial is headed: ‘High cost of Moratorium involvement’, lt advises people to avoid like a plague spot any Moratorium meeting. The reason it gives for this is its apprehension of violence. The previous day, 4 students had been shot dead in Ohio. The editorial says referring to this:
Mob emotion has always been a terrifying force. Caught up In H, even the . . . spectator becomes prone to commit acts which, only hours afterwards, horrify him.
The Opposition has no quarrel with that. It knows that there is danger in mobs, lt knows that that danger is violence. It knows that all too often this shows itself in international relations where we engage in mob violence with one nation or another, as Australia is doing now. But the Opposition does not think that therefore dissent to such violence can best be expressed by avoiding any kind of mob or any kind of risk. The risk that those students took in Ohio, where four of them were shot, might have been in their eyes well merited and well justified. The risk they took of being shot might have been well justified, because by such acts throughout the United States of America that country is now drawing back. It is taking a second look at the mob violence it has been indulging in, to which these same young people were objecting. The editorial continues: lt is the job of the Government and its police to keep the streets free.
That argument does not wash with a young man who has found that the job the Government has set itself is to clutter up the streets in Vietnam. What is the argument for keeping the streets free here for someone to go and do his shopping on a day when there is a public demonstration? How can that argument be placed against the argument for getting out of the immoral involvement in Vietnam which the very demonstration was set down to argue against?
We have been told a lot about law and order. The ‘Australian Law Journal’ of 30th September last year refers to the contention that if someone claims that an individual’s conscience is greater than the law this conscience should prevail over the law. It says that this is surely the quickest way to lose freedom, to bring into disrepute the law of the land and the administration of justice. This 1 do not dispute, with the qualification, that the person who wrote that article is a lawyer. He makes his living out of administering the law. He has a nice, tidy, peace loving and peace abiding community. But the freedom he is talking about which he is able to give the citizens who engage him to administer the law is freedom under the existing law. If one wants to change that law. he says, one has to do it through the proper institutions. It is wrong, he says, that people in this situation claim that they are entitled not only to be heard but also to win. He says that they put themselves beyond the law’s authority, and this is immensely attractive to the young, the impatient and the idealistic, and immensely useful to the totalitarian. All of this I do not dispute, but nevertheless I must protest that there are times when freedom is not helped by obeying the law, when the most vital freedoms have to be defended by defying the law. This has happened repeatedly in British history and in the history of all free nations.
It is very difficult to know where to draw the line. I for one respect the consciences of many honourable members on this side of the House and on the other side who say that one should never on any account break these laws for conscription for service in Vietnam. But I also respect the consciences of the men who say that by breaking that law and taking the consequences they are not, as the ‘Australian Law Journal’ claims, putting themselves beyond the law’s authority. Not only do they not try to put themselves beyond the law’s authority but some of them go up and beg to be dealt with by the law. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said: ‘Put me in gaol.’ The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) has said: ‘Put me in gaol.’ They are not putting themselves beyond the law’s authority; they are challenging it. They are protesting about it. It is the only way open to them when the legislative process fails, as it usually does in matters vital to freedom. The legislative process will work only when enough of the people are enough aroused to change the government to a government which will change that oppressive, totalitarian and tyrannous law. Just to hammer home my point I will quote once more from ‘the paper you can trust’. At the top of the editorial from which I have quoted is ‘Today’s Thought’. It reads:
The vilest specimens of human nature are to be found among demagogues.
I am sure that the man who wrote that was not the man who wrote the editorial underneath it or he would have seen the inconsistency in those two points of view.
– This has been one of the most interesting debates that has taken place in this House during the session. It has been interesting to listen to the remarks of various members of the Opposition. It has also been interesting to notice those members of the Opposition - the more senior ones, in my opinion, perhaps the more conservative and realistic members of the Australian Labor Party - who have not spoken on the Bill. The main Opposition speakers have been the young gentlemen of the new left, or the new intake of the ALP, those who have made statements about marihuana and other things which they think should be approved and in respect of which restrictive legislation exists. We did not hear the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser) and other senior members of the Labor Party speak against the Bill. I give credit to the honourable member for EdenMonaro, for whom I have great respect, for saying, when it was stated recently that trade unionists might refuse to make possible the serving of gaol sentences passed on people by the courts - that prison warders might go out on strike - that this would be anarchy.
What we have heard is a great difference of opinion within the Labor Party between the older, what I consider the finer types of Labor representatives we have had in the past, and the new, more maverick type which is coming into the fore. This is indicated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), as the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) pointed out. This morning the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) made his usual protestations about how he had dared the lion, how he had gone out with his cloak and rapier and taken on the world, and how to his disappointment nobody had taken any notice of him. He stated the iniquities of imprisoning 5 women in Melbourne who had committed an offence and who had been tried by the court, and when he came along and, as he claims, did exactly the same thing endeavouring to occupy, take over or bc unlawfully on government property he was ignored and was not given the coverage that he though! he deserved. Even though he had telephoned the Press and had all the newspapers in attendance th? Government and the Department of Labour and National Service, quite intelligently, refused to be drawn in.
The comment 1 would like to read is that of the Leader of the Opposition because it seems to differ from the outlook of the honourable member for Lalor. The Leader of the Opposition said this:
There can be no doubt that there have been some contemptible and cowardly invasions of Commonwealth premises in Sydney and Melbourne. Nobody would condone those.
I add that obviously the honourable member for Lalor does condone them. The Leader of the Opposition went on:
They should be condemned.
Obviously certain members of the Labor Party think that they should not be condemned. He continued:
The people who participated in those invasions, those threats, those demonstrations, those sit-ins should have been brought to trial.
I agree with this, and I agree that if the honourable member for Lalor did commit the same offence he should have been prosecuted. But I give the honourable member for Lalor credit for being bright enough and clever enough to see that on a technical point under the law as it exists he could not be prosecuted. When I used the term ‘grandstanding’ this morning I meant it because this man appears to have made himself the king of the kids. He appears to be the wonder man of the hippie group, and for the period until those in that group grow up they look at him with adoring eyes.
Before I go on in respect of this matter 1 would like to take up some of the remarks of the honourable member for
Batman (Mr Garrick) because he read his speech with some care. He talked about the morality of Pontius Pilate. He referred to the occasion when the former Leader of the Opposition was shot at while at a political meeting. He accused the Government of taking no interest in this matter. I think his knowledge is not too good because, as I understand it, the man who fired the shot was arrested at the time and was, I think, found medically unfit and was given treatment. The honourable member for Batman then raised the matter concerning the honourable member for Lalor. 1 doubt whether the honourable member for Lalor will be grateful to him for raising this matter. I agree emphatically with what the honourable member for Batman said. It concerns me that this brutal attack took place on the honourable member for Lalor at his residence in the evening when he was having an innocent little party at which members of the Australian Labor Party were present and at which a small charge was made for the alcohol that was being imbibed. Some other person, I believe a member of the Labor Party - I could be wrong, but it was a person associated with the Labor Party - came in and battered and assaulted the honourable member for Lalor.
I do not think this should be allowed, and it has concerned me that no member of the Labor Party over the last 18 months has raised this matter, inquired into it or appears to have made any protest that nothing has been done to bring this man to trial or at least to apprehend him when, I understand, he did not appear on the date fixed to hear the serious charges raised against him. 1 think it is incredible to find the honourable member for Batman today raising this question, but never a word has been said in the past. I would like to support what the honourable member for Batman has said, and I will support him to the full strength of my ability to see that this man is brought to justice. I will be interested, as perhaps some other people in this community may be, to know what the situation in fact was.
The honourable member for Batman then spoke of undisciplined young hooligans roaming the streets. What does he expect them to do? We find that a large majority of these so-called undisciplined hooligans are roaming the streets led by certain members of Parliament and other so-called distinguished citizens of thi3 country. We find them being encouraged to break the law time and time again.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member is casting aspersions. He said that hooligans roaming the streets at night are led by members of the Opposition. That is not correct.
– 1 did not say ‘at night’. I said that there are young hooligans who are roaming the streets frequently led by members of the Labor Party. That is my opinion of the Moratorium Campaign and sections in it.
– My point of order is that it is completely untrue to say that hooligans are being led by members of the Labor Party.
Order! The honourable member for Batman will resume his seat. There is no substance in the point of order.
– The point 1 am trying to make is that if they ask people to break the law, if they set the example of breaking the law, they cannot wonder that young people should follow the example set by their elders, more experienced people, and people who have a greater sense of responsibility. But let us not question that matter at this time. Do we require at the moment amendments to the existing law? As the honourable member for Diamond Valley and others have made very clear, there are certain laws in respect of the occupation of buildings, sit-ins or the use of Commonwealth property which are not uniform in each of the various States of Australia, so therefore we are bringing uniformity in. We are bringing the law up to date. The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) said that we have gone throuth two world wars and asked: Why is it now necessary to amend a law that was brought in some time in the 1300s? I think that is a rather amazing statement. Surely, even if it is 1971. it is time we did something about bringing it up to date. But do we require a law to protect people and property against the demonstrations and the types of occupation of buildings that have taken place in Commonwealth property? I say we do, and I say that the average person in this country feels that it is beyond time that the law was brought up to date.
Let us go through some of the events that have occurred. On 25th March 1971 there appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’ the headline: ‘Angry brawl erupts in Federal offices’. This article stated:
Police and anti-war demonstrators fought a wild brawl inside the Federal parliamentary party offices in Melbourne late yesterday.
Police drew their batons as punches and kicks were exchanged in the foyer and offices of the Flinders Street building. 1 happened to be there at that time. I saw the mob that came pouring through the door. Some poor innocent woman in the lobby of the offices downstairs was terrified and endeavoured to hide behind the counter. Women secretaries were running around and being told to lock their doors because these hoodlums were abou* to break in. If this is the sort of thing that the Labor Party wishes to support, it is not what I support and I am sure it is not what the people of Australia support.
Let us look at more of these occurrences. On 11th April 1969 more than 180 arrests were made during violent antiVietnam demonstrations in Sydney and Adelaide. On the same day students of the Monash University occupied the Oakleigh Commonwealth Employment Service office. On 1st May 1969 there was another incident. On 5th May 1969 hundreds of students stormed the Monash administration building. On 12th June 1969 students occupied the Senate room at the University of Queensland. There were other incidents on 24th June 1969, 4th July 1969, 12th July 1969, and so it goes on. lt is a repeat performance of people coming into buildings, taking over offices, opening files, distributing documents and terrifying civil servants working in these offices. And the Opposition says that nothing should be done.
Another demonstration was against the national service registration office in Adelaide in September 1969. On this occasion some 6 masked men entered the office during lunch time. One carried a tomahawk and the others wire cutters. They cut and wrenched out telephone wires, pulled out records drawers and then proceeded to pour animal blood, a container of which they had, on the records, the furniture and the floor. Is this the type of thing that the Opposition supports? Have we heard in any of the speeches made by members of the Opposition the word ‘responsibility’? Would any young person listening to this debate tonight think that in this Utopia there was a law he had to observe if he did not want to? Have we not heard the Leader of the Opposition encourage the troops of this country to break the law? Have we not seen the honourable member for Lalor, one of the shadow Ministers of the Opposition, encouraging people to break the law?
All I can say is that no democracy will continue as long as people in responsible positions, such as members of Parliament, blatantly encourage people to break the law. This is a democracry. This is a country in which we have freedom. I atn quite sure that those members of the Labor Party to whom I referred earlier realise this. There is a way to alter the law. Members of the Opposition and the people they represent have the right to endeavour to alter the law, yet they do not want to do it the legitimate way. They want to use anarchy. They want to use those people who cling to the banner of their Party and whose ultimate aim is revolution. I do not think they are aware of what they are doing.
Quite frankly, the end result must be contempt for the law when people such as members of Parliament go out blatantly and not only encourage the young to break the law but endeavour to show the example themselves. The fact that it is a hollow gesture does not have very much importance because the young do not know that there is a small technicality in the law under which they cannot be prosecuted. There is the burning of draft cards. The fact that we do not have draft cards is not known to most people in the community. But we have the honourable member for Lalor - that gallant warrior - carrying on as he does and the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) taking the great course of seeking to be imprisoned and inspiring the youth of this country by refusing to obey the law and to pay the fine which was imposed on him not by a parliament but by a court of law in this country. Then the question of privilege is raised because he is a member of Parliament. As far as 1 am concerned, from the day that members of
Parliament in this country are given exemption from the laws of this land we will have a very brief future.
I think this Bill has been introduced so that there will be a uniform law throughout the States. It has been introduced so that the embassy and consular officials and representatives of overseas countries will be given protection against demonstrations of the type that have been encouraged by some members of the Opposition and members of the Communist Party, representatives of the anarchists and other groups who wish to bring about a state of anarchy in this country. Indeed, I think that many members of the Labor Party and union representatives are concerned at the direction in which this country is going at the present time in regard to the representation, attitudes and actions of the Opposition. There is no doubt in my mind that we should be able to demonstrate, but there is a way of demonstrating which is correct and legitimate. There is a way of demonstrating which is wrong and which is resorted to by only a small section of the community with the ultimate aim of engaging in riots - the fun picnic of sticking pins into a policeman’s horse, the fun picnic of throwing marbles under horse’s hooves and throwing rocks at embassies, whether it be the embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the United States of America. Demonstrations can be peaceful, but if one reads the records one finds that frequently they are not. The people who wish to use them for their own purposes should be prosecuted. This Bill is designed to introduce uniform law and give protection to the embassies of foreign powers.
If members of the Opposition feel as the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) claims, that they have to toot car horns outside the South African Embassy and if the honourable member thinks that this brings dignity to the Parliament, to members of Parliament and to the Labor Party, there is nothing in this proposed Act that I know of which will stop him from doing so - that is, if he is mad enough and has the time and inclination to sit outside the embassy tooting his horn all day. That is something that the Labor Party and his electors may have to put up with. As far as I am concerned and, I am sure, as far as the people of this country are concerned, we welcome this legislation, not as repressive legislation but as a clarification of a position. It allows people who wish to break the law to understand exactly what is front of them so that they cannot claim that they acted in confusion and cannot claim rights which existed under the old law - not because they were entitled to such rights but because of the inadequacy of the legislation. I support the Bill.
– We have heard the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) make wide and diverse accusations against the members of the public and members of Parliament who represent the Opposition in this chamber without any attempt to examine the reason for that discontent. People are demonstrating so that others such as the honourable member will examine the matter involved and their own consciences in regard to it. People’s frustration is caused by their being ignored by people such as the honourable member, and if as much attention could be given to the wishes of the people of an electorate as is spent on criticising the Labor Party for bringing the problems of people before this Parliament, perhaps we would see the honourable member contesting the seat of Lalor in order to test public opinion on his attitude to the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). If he feels so strongly, let him show leadership and stop just talking here in the Parliament.
– Let him come to La Trobe and see how he gets on.
– The honourable member for Lalor has no criticism of the honourable member because he feels that he has better things to do in this Parliament than to criticise the honourable member. It seems significant, however, that this debate on law and order was introduced during Easter week, which commemorated the life, work and teaching of a leading dissenter, a Man who stood out against racism, violence and discrimination against individuals. He was a man who challenged the Establishment, who called upon large and small assemblies to dissent, and who was finally dealt with by the Establishment in a way which was similar in many respects to that envisaged by this legislation against similar demonstrators and dissenters. One wonders how He would fare today under this legislation when attempting to follow the basic concepts which He preached to assemblies and demonstrators so many years ago. We commemorated His passing during the week of Easter in a year of dawning dissent by students, workers, pensioners, religious groups and people of conscience.
This Bill is designed to repress, to intimidate and to subdue these people at the whim of the administration or whoever happens to be in the power at the time. Let us remember that once this legislation stands on the statute book it is there to be used or misused by future governments. It has been said that these provisions will not be used except on rare occasions. But when liberties are restricted by legislation, who can tell what future governments will do in a moment of panic, as this Government has, or, for that matter, for what planning for political suppression will this Bill be utilised? It needs only a professional provocateur to be planted at governmental or extremist instigation in a demonstration or meeting for everyone in the assembly to become liable under this legislation. Whether it be a meeting of a political, religious, racial, unionist or pensioner group, the same distinct dangers exist. It needs only one threatening motion, one stone thrown, one shout to bring into effect the restrictive measures contained in this proposed Act - ‘at the instigation of some person of authority, on the site, or adjacent to the assembly to so act’, to use the words of the Bill itself. Heckling at a political meeting, which is a long established Australian expression of freedom, could well cause the repressive measures of this Bill to be enforced. It is not even impossible to imagine a deputation, large in size, of Australian citizens incensed by some such thing as aircraft noise being charged with offences under this Act. After calling on departmental chiefs or ministerial representatives they could be charged with trespass or offences under other repressive sections of the Act. Some people will say that this is impossible, that we are too reasonable to enforce the law in that way. Perhaps the Government is too reasonable at this point of time to do such things but it is legislating for the future. It is putting weapons into the hands of people who may not be reasonable in the future.
Let us examine the need for this legislation in Western Australia. The daubing of paint on ships from Socialist countries by extreme elements has led to an adequate police guard being provided whenever necessary. The demonstration on Commonwealth property by students has been dealt with sufficiently under existing Commonwealth legislation. The offence of defacing buildings and memorials with swastikas by Fascist organisations has been dealt with sufficiently under the existing laws. Protest marches through city streets have been orderly and under the guidance of the local law. Why then is the Government attempting to usurp the rights of State authorities in these matters? Why is it bringing down stronger legislation than the existing Commonwealth Crimes Act? Is it because of the panic created by one or two incidents which have been provoked by people who lost their temper at a given time on both sides of the argument? For this we must surrender certain basic Australian liberties and create situations in which people will meet further to demonstrate against the effects of this Bill.
What will be the reaction to the first gaoling under this legislation? There will be confrontation which will result in further unrest. One might think that the Government would have learnt from the public protests over the gaolings of Vietnam objectors and would have become aware of public reaction to these actions. One might think that notice would have been taken of trade union reaction to the gaoling of a trade union leader; that a lesson would have been learnt from the current difficulties and confrontation taking place as a result of the existing arbitration penal provisions and the confrontation over the collection of fines which has occurred and which will continue to occur under that repressive legislation. Must we tolerate this constant, intolerant Government attitude to protests about what people believe are unjust laws? When will the Government cease to provoke people of conscience who wish only to express themselves in what they believe to be a democratic manner in a democratic country? But because we are accustomed to the subdued attitude of the population we become alarmed when people express their displeasure at our ineptitude in foreign policy or social welfare programmes or salary provisions. The Government decides that instead of settling the cause of the public displeasure and ensuring that everyone is fully informed of the reason for the Government’s action in order to prove that the policy is just - and if it is just the people will agree with it - it will legislate to repress that expression of opinion.
Some people have said that we do not have a ‘black’ problem here, that the black people are docile. But recently these people have come to realise that they can achieve advancement by expressing themselves at assemblies, as denned by this Bill. Is this legislation designed to ensure that these people do not get the opportunity to express themselves? They will have the added fear of prejudice - be it real or imagined - by those administering the new Act because they will be under a ‘public authority’, as defined in this Bill, in the places where they live. What does the Government intend to do when strikes take place on Commonwealth premises or in Commonwealth Territories and a picket line is formed, or when meetings take place on the job or in an adjacent area? What a golden opportunity this will present to the Government to vent its spleen on an assembly. If more than 12 people remain only 15 minutes - which is not time even for the matter to be discussed - after they have been told to disperse by a police sergeant or a police officer of higher rank, each and every one of them can be fined up to $500 or imprisoned for up to 6 months, or both. There is not one penalty but two penalties. How vicious can one become?
If that is not vicious enough, the Bill provides for the dispersing or suppressing of an assembly. It becomes lawful for a person - only a person, not a policeman; he could be a company employed thug for that matter - to use such force as he believes is necessary. He becomes the judge, jury, policeman and thug. Is this meant to bring peace to demonstrations, strikes and meetings? Will not people need to arm themselves in order to protect themselves from the extremists who are given an open ticket to violence by this legislation? After a person has been knocked about, as permitted under this legislation, he can be apprehended and then goaled and fined. It is a wonder that the Government did not provide for execution, because it has thought of everything else. It has the hide to say that this Bill will establish law and order. It is more likely to start insurrection and civil disorder. Perhaps this is what the Government wants. Perhaps it wants an opportunity to subdue the trade union movement and to create situations in which dissident groups are provoked and then savagely subdued in the name of law and order in order to prevent the constant exposure of bad governmental policies. What other need is there for this Bill? Noone in this country goes unpunished for misdeeds which relate to anything which might be so judged under this Bill. It will be only governmental provocation or provocation by the more extreme members of the Government which will bring the provisions of this Bill into effect.
We have heard of individual members of Parliament who have provoked people in order to bring about attacks on them. But this position is adequately covered by the existing laws. However, I must admit that some people, because of their general attitude to other people, issues and life, attract and will continue to attract public condemnation no matter what penalties we provide against those who so condemn them. People who are sincere in their convictions are not deterred by laws or even bad laws. This has been the tradition of people since the martyrs of early Christendom. People will continue to fight for what they believe to be right, despite the repression of those who wish to suppress the truth - no matter whether they wish to suppress the truth because they fear it, because of personal gain or because of lack of recognition of the true issues.
Again I say that this legislataion can lead only to confrontation between the public and the law, to a misuse of authority and to the creation of a lack of respect for law and government by those who recognise the lack of justice when an Act is administered in an unjust way. Let us not be deceived by the platitudes of Government speakers who use the excuse that this Bill will not be enforced because it -would not be before us if the Government did not intend to enforce it. So foolishly this Parliament will place this legislation on its statutes book without giving thought to what could happen in the future when an even more intolerant government administers the law. For Government speakers to stand up and say that after more than 20 years of LiberalCountry Party administrataion the laws are inadequate, even after considering the furore which was created when the Crimes Act was amended, is to admit, if this were true, that the Government at the time it amended the law was inadequate and illinformed. I wonder what the reaction of Government members would be if a Labor government were putting forward the proposals which are contained in this Bill. The reaction would be one of suspicion* of the intent.
But looking at the Bill objectively, what we oppose is the over-reaction of the content of the Bill. Authority is given to an officer or a person in authority authorised by the Minister in writing to enact, in his judgment, physical violence. We should all understand that violence begets violence. We can envisage violence arising and physical harm being done to demonstrators, to pedestrians and, not least, to police. Australia has been free of this type of conduct of recent years. Must we create another little America? The common sense approach has been and should be to adopt the same attitude that made the British policeman famous, that is, the ability to deal with situations without violence. Further, we must read into the provisions of the Bill what is meant by the term ‘a person’. It is not unlikely that an individual person who has a particular grievance against a department and who is seeking to obtain individual justice will be liable to be charged under the legislation. He will not have to do any physical act which is offensive to anyone. He will just have to be at a certain place. It will create the unsavoury situation in which someone could say: ‘We can get you on this charge because we cannot pin some other charge on you’. A charge of trespass is all-encompassing. That is the wide interpretation that can be placed on the Bill.
We are all naively supposing that the Bill will be administered by reasonable people. Government speakers have taken a blind view. They have spoken in order to convince themselves more than anyone else as to the Tightness of their cause. They should be prepared to take such matters to the public by way of a referendum. Let the public decide through the ballot box whether it wishes to associate the right of assembly with the dangers which will arise as a result of the introduction of the provisions of this Bill. I oppose the Bill.
– It is obvious that the public interest has gone out of this legislation. This is particularly evident from the absence of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr N. 1-1. Bowen) from the House tonight. When the Government first indicated its intention to bring down this legislation it was hoped that it would have the passionate backing of society in general. But it has not, and the Parliament knows it has not. There are about 4 members of the Government in the chamber at the present time. Legislation of this type, 1 should imagine, would be first initiated by the police authorities, who would ask the Government to introduce it. Nowhere in the Minister’s second reading speech can I see an indication that a request has been made by the police authorities to the Government for such legislation.
I endorse the remarks of honourable members on this side of the House, particularly the remark of the honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett), that there is adequate legislation on the statute books of the Commonwealth to deal with breaches of law and order. In the industrial part of the country from which I come, the Newcastle and Hunter Valley regions, the police authorities have depended on the New South Wales Crimes Act - and, incidentally, legislation based on that Act has been in force in the Australian Capital Territory for some time - and on the offence created in the Crimes Act of unlawful assembly. The purpose of this law is to break up strikes, particularly on the northern coal fields where I was reared. This legislation is still on the statute books and could be used by the law enforcement authorities against demonstrators if they saw fit. There is a substantia] penalty provided in the statutes for unlawful assembly; it is referred to in Hamilton and Addison’s ‘Criminal Law and Procedure’. The Government was inspired to introduce this legislation by the wave of lawlessness in the United States and the indication by the United States government of its intention to introduce law and order legislation. As I said, it was expected to be applauded in this country but such has not been the case.
Police officers for many years have depended on the provisions in the law for offensive behaviour, riotous behaviour and insulting behaviour to break up gatherings of people who demonstrate and overstep the mark. The offensive behaviour charge is a dragnet charge used by police authorities throughout the Commonwealth when there has been no special provision under which they can arrest people. I think the High Court once defined offensive behaviour as behaviour by an individual which is considered offensive to the person against whom it is used or someone closely associated with him. That definition is quite a wide one and is often referred to by people who interest themselves in that breach of the law as similar to the defence charge of conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline - a dragnet charge which encompasses a multitude of sins. To my mind the unfortunate feature of this legislation is that it is directed against a section of society which, if it has not already been proved, will be shown by history to have displayed to the nation during the Vietnam crisis the deepest sense of nationalism that any Australians have ever before displayed. They are decent law abiding citizens who are protesting against an obnoxious law. Clarence Darrow, the late eminent criminal lawyer of the United Stales, said that when a law is easily broken it is an obnoxious law and should be removed from the statute book.
I suggest that this Government would be more highly regarded by the nation if it were introducing a Bill to repeal the National Service Act, an Act which has brought about the situation in which the Government has seen fit to introduce the obnoxious Bill now before us and which is directed against the deep sense of nationalism displayed by demonstrators. I do not think for one second it will have any effect towards reducing the number of demonstrators because the number will grow stronger and stronger until every Australian boy is withdrawn from Vietnam. The Government would be acting with a national inspiration similar to that shown by the demonstrators if it were to repeal the laws that have brought about the situation in Australia today in which it believes this legislation to be necessary. 1 would like the Attorney-General to tell the Parliament whether the police authorities sought these stronger laws. I suggest that they did not, and that the police authorities have sufficient laws now to break up demonstrations when they see fit.
Here we find penalties imposed on a good section of society which are commensurate with the penalties provided under the pistol licence legislation. . I think only a $400 fine is provided for persons convicted of carrying an unlicensed pistol between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. This is an offence committed by the worst and most incorrigible criminals in the country. So it is true to say, as has been said by. honourable members on this side of the House, that the Government is putting demonstrators, by the penalties it intends to impose under this legislation, in the same category as incorrigible habitual criminals who are found carrying unlicensed pistols at night. Only a small penalty is needed. If demonstrators overstep the mark they should be removed from society only for a brief period and then we should consider what they are demonstrating about. I am very proud when members of my family take part in peaceful demonstrations against the conscription laws which this Government introduced so defiantly of public opinion. It shocks me that members of the Government stand up and support laws such as this when on the Government benches one finds 16 to 17 Government members of military age who are physically and probably mentally fit to join the armed forces to serve in Vietnam. Ever since we have been involved in Vietnam not one supporter of the Government of military age has seen fit to enlist and go over there. Yet they will be a party to sending some other person’s child to be slaughtered in this filthy unwinnable war which is meeting with world disapproval and which will remain to the utter disgrace of the United States for centuries to come.
The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) also spoke of the legislation to protect our embassies. 1 think every honourable member on this side of the House agrees that our foreign embassies and officials should be protected. But I do not agree that there is a need for additional protection of foreign embassies. That is provided already. We are aware of the recent embarrassment to which Australians were subjected by several attacks on the Soviet Embassy. If similar attacks were made on our Embassy in Moscow we would ask the Soviet authorities to do something to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. The New South Wales Crimes Act, previously referred to in my speech, has been operating in the Australian Capital Territory for some years. Section 201 of that Act states:
Whosoever maliciously sets fire to any matter or thing in against or under any building, vehicle or aircraft under such circumstances that if the building, vehicle or aircraft were thereby set on fire the offence would amount to a felony shall be liable to penal servitude for 7 years.
The Crimes Act contains provisions in relation to malicious injury to property. Very heavy penalties are provided. This proves that it was not necessary to introduce additional legislation to protect foreign embassies in Australia. I believe that the clause was inserted to coat this obnoxious legislation against demonstrators with a type of sugar coating so that the bitter pill might be swallowed more easily by society. The Government knew that the reactions of society had waned considerably since it announced its intention to introduce this legislation.
The honourable member for Diamond Valley also spoke of the heroic glee, to use his phrase, that the honourable member for Lalor gained by promoting offences in Victoria in relation to Commonwealth property. I think the honourable member for Lalor is more respected by the Australian people than is the honourable member for Diamond Valley. Those who do not agree with the politics of the honourable member for Lalor have described him to me as a man of great courage. They have said that there should be more of his type in parliament. The honourable member for Lalor is driven by a conscience. I do not think any honourable member opposite is prepared to appear on television and debate with the honourable member for Lalor the Vietnam war and interrelated subject matters. I regard the honourable member for Lalor as one of Australia’s experts on the history of Vietnam and on our involvement in the war there.
The honourable member for Diamond Valley also spoke of the necessity for uniformity in the laws relating to public disorder. I would have liked him to have made some reference to what other nations do in connection with offences relating to foreign embassies. I should have thought that it would have been better if there had been uniformity throughout the world in relation to such offences. He spoke of the Vienna Convention of 1961. It was designed to get some degree of uniformity in the protection of foreign embassies. Recently a Yugoslavian Embassy official was murdered by a member of the Croation Liberation Front. If the Government was sincere, it would have introduced laws to deal with the type of bombing that was attributed to some Croats whom it has allowed to migrate to Australia. The Government did not bother to introduce stricter laws to deal with that kind of thing.
The Government waited until it thought that it had public opinion behind it, having in mind the demonstrations taking place against Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, before taking action. Although the people of our mother country - Great Britain - are not involved in the Vietnam conflict, they have been demonstrating against it to a greater extent than the people of Australia, but the British Government has not seen fit - 1 believe rightly so - to introduce legislation to control those people in Great Britain who are demonstrating against the butchery that is being perpetrated by the Western allies in Vietnam. There have been widespread demonstrations in West Germany, which is not involved in the Vietnam conflict, against the attitude of the United States of America to Vietnam, but the West German Government has not introduced law and order legislation to prevent the people in that country from demonstrating.
I believe that, as a result of the gallant and brave actions of some women in Victoria in going to gaol in protest against the destroying of human life and in the hope that others might live, there will be more demonstrations by the mothers of our nation against our involvement in Vietnam. They are determined that they will not be the producers of gun fodder for a capitalistic government. The women of Australia have woken up to the evil of conscripting their sons to serve in Vietnam and will not allow themselves to be used as the producers of gun fodder and to be reduced virtually to receptacles for man’s bloody lust. I believe that further revolts by these people of deep nationalistic principles will compel this Government to abandon this obnoxious legislation, which is bringing about in Australia a state of lawlessness and disorder of unprecedented heights. I believe that if the Government cannot see its way clear to repeal this legislation it will be annihilated at the ballot box in the next election. I bitterly oppose this legislation for the reasons I have given. There is adequate provision in the statutes books to control demonstrators without the Government having to introduce obnoxious legislation which is designed to put demonstrators in the position of being the worst criminals in the country.
Debate (on motion by Mr Kennedy) adjourned.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
National Service (Question No. 1072)
Arbitration (Question No. 1222)
National Service Ballots (Question No. 1316)
The position of men with regard to their national service liability is shown each year in my Annual Review of the national service scheme as at the 30th June. As at the 31st December 1970, 13,849 men were serving, being considered for service or had completed their service in the Citizen Forces. It has been found not to be necessary to distinguish men who volunteer after the ballot from other men liable for service and this has not been done since the 30th June 1968, by which date 1,716 applications had been received from men volunteering after the ballot.
Forces as an alternative to national service, were found not to meet the standard required for Army service.
National Service Tests (Question No. 1318)
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
National Service (Question No. 1794)
Papua and New Guinea: Wage Fixing (Question No. 2354)
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Since there is full compliance inall Common- wealth and State jurisdictions but no such compliance in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea with the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 131, Minimum Wage Fixing, 1970, which was supported by the Australian Government delegates and was expressed to have special reference to developing countries, what steps have been taken towards ratifying the convention and applying it to the Territory.
Consultations with the Stales are in progress to determine whether there are any impediments to ratification of the convention. Although it is apparent that there is close conformity with the main provisions of the Convention the consultations have not yet reached a stage where it is possible to state that there is full compliance with the convention in all Commonwealth and State jurisdictions.
In accordance with the usual practice my Department is examining with the Department of External Territories the extent to which law and practice in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are in conformity with the Convention and the extent to which effect might be given to its provisions. 1 am advised that my colleague the Minister for External Territories will provide more detailed information concerning the current position in the Territory in his answer to the honourable member’s question on Notice No.2357.
Papua and New Guinea:
Industrial Tribunals and Awards (Question No. 2397) Mr Whitlm asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Will he bring up to date the information he gave me in his answer on 7th April 1970 (Hansard, page 770) concerning industrial tribunals and awards in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Vanimo General Employment Award, 1971
Madang General Employment Award, 1969 Goroka General Employment Award, 1969 Mt Hagen General Employment Award, 1970 Lae General Employment Award, 1970 Samarai/Alotau General Employment Award, 1970
Kavieng General Employment Award, 1969
Lae Stevedoring Award, 1970 Milne Bay District Shipping Award, 1970 Port Moresby General Employment Award, 1970
Housing Ministers and Agreement (Question No. 2446)
Housing, upon notice:
Workers Compensation (Question No. 2511)
What percentage of all wages is expended in meeting workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has advised that in 1968-69 the estimated total workers’ compensation premiums receivable by insurance officers in all States of Australia, as defined and listed in the answer to Question No. 416 (Hansard 16th February 1971, pages 65-66), represented 1.1 per cent of estimated total wages, salaries and supplements payable in Australia.
Workers Compensation (Question No. 2515) Mr Clyde Cameron asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Public Service: Industrial Accidents (Question No. 2517) Mr Clyde Cameron asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
What steps has he taken during the past 12 months to secure from all Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities uniform statistics on the cause and incidence of industrial accidents and disease within the Commonwealth Public Service.
During the past 12 months, as part of a continuing process, uniform statistics on the incidence, cause and nature of work injuries and diseases were obtained from almost all Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities. The collection arrangements are being expanded progressively.
Industrial Disputes (Question No. 2628)
With regard to the four causes mentioned by the honourable member those of type (a) would be included in the ‘Wages’ group; those of type (b) in the ‘Managerial Policy’ group; and those of types (c) and (d) in the ‘Trade Unionism’ group.
Arbitration (Question No. 2633)
In view of the information supplied in answer to paragraph (1) of question No. 416 (Hansard, 16 February 1971, pages 6S-6), why was he unable to convert the material supplied into percentages as requested in part (2) of the question.
The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has advised that the information supplied in answer to part (1) of question number 416 does not provide a basis for answering part (2) of that question. In order to answer the question asked it would be necessary to be able to compare premiums paid in respect of insurance cover for a particular year with claims made against the same insurance cover. The figures supplied for premiums for each year, as stated in the reply to question number 416. are not adjusted to provide for premiums unearned at the end of the year, i.e. some of the amounts included in the premiums aggregated foi a particular financial year are in respect of insurance cover during some or all of the subsequent year. In the figures shown for claims for the financial year, no allowance is made for possible claims against this insurance cover in respect of the subsequent year.
The figures shown for claims in the answer to part (1) of question number 416 can, of course, be expressed as percentages of the figures shown for premiums for each of the financial years, and these percentages are set out below. However, for the above reasons, the following percentages should not be regarded as the percentages of premiums that are paid out as claims.
Industrial Policy (Question No. 2629)
In what way does the present responsibility of his Department in respect of policy co-ordination as to industrial matters differ from that laid down by the Chifley Government in December 1948.
The Chifley Government decision agreed in principle to establishing machinery for coordination. The 1956 decision gave authority to the Public Service Board and to the Department of Labour and National Service to co-ordinate matters relating to wages and conditions of work in Commonwealth employment.
Industrial Disputes (Question No. 2642)
Arbitration (Question No. 2646)
Will he direct, without comment, that copies of the recent judgment of Mr Justice Sheehy of the New South Wales Industrial Commission on victimisation of employees be supplied to all members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
Because of the slight difference in definition of Married’ women between the Censuses and the Labour Force Estimates the statistics are tabulated separately.*
Questions on Notice (Question No. 2669)
What is the difficulty in answering Question No. 1906 which has appeared on the Notice Paper each sitting day since 24th September 1970.
The honourable member has been provided with an up-to-date answer to his question, up to and including the calendar year 1970. (Hansard, 24th February 1971, page 622).
Questions on Notice (Question No. 2671)
What is the difficulty in answering Question No. 1952 which has appeared on the Notice Paper each sitting day since 30th September 1970.
See my predecessor’s answer to Question 1952 which appeared in Hansard for 9th March 1971 at page 747.
I) Now that South Australia has agreed to the ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention No. 98 - Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949, which States have yet to agree.
Is the Minister able to say what weekly income is necessary as a pre-requisite to obtaining a $12,000 loan over 25 years from the Commonwealth Savings Bank or the private savings banks.
The Reserve Bank has advised that it is not practicable to say definitely what weekly income is required to obtain a loan of any particular size from a savings bank, since a lot depends on the individual’s bank assessment of the borrower’s capacity to service the loan, taking into consideration such factors as his existing financial commitments and the continuity of his employment.
However, the Bank understands that, as a general rule, to avoid borrowers entering into commitments beyond their resources, savings banks aim to ensure that a borrower’s housing loan repayment instalments do not exceed about 25 per cent of his income, though this may vary according to circumstances.
On this basis, some indication of the weekly income considered necessary to service a loan of $12,000 repayable over 25 years can be obtained from the following table which shows the approximate amount of the weekly instalments of principal and interest on credit foncier terms, calculated at various interest rates:
I am informed by the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation that the Commonwealth Savings Bank does not specify an amount of income as a pre-requisite to obtaining a housing loan but, other considerations aside, generally looks for repayments on housing loans not to exceed 25 per cent of a borrower’s gross income.
(a) Deans of faculties are paid an allow ance of $960 per annum in addition to their base professorial salary of SI 4,400 per annum plus other allowances, if any, that may be applicable . to the individual.
The .salaries shown are those payable at 31st December 1970.
Is he able to state the names of the principal supporters of the Productivity Promotion Council.
Yes. The Productivity Promotion Council of Australia published a complete list of its members last May and I have asked that a copy of this list be forwarded to the honourable member.
I understand that the membership list is currently being brought up to date and that it will be republished shortly.
Can he say what constitutional power enables the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation to control all air traffic and air traffic accident investigation, yet denies the same right of road traffic and road traffic accident investigation to his Department.
To provide an answer to this question would necessitate the giving of a legal opinion. It is regretted that an answer cannot be supplied.
Education (Question No. 2762) Mr Fairbairn - An answer by my predecessor to Question No. 2762 asked by the Member for Bendigo appeared originally in Hansard, page 961 of 16th March 1971.
Figures for New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory were not available at the time and Mr Bowen undertook to bring them to the notice of the honourable member when they came to hand. The full details of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are as follows:
As indicated in the earlier reply, all figures are subject to minor alteration and at this stage should be regarded as preliminary.
What would be the cost of adding 10 cents to child endowment for the (a) 1st child, (b) 2nd child, (c) 3rd child, (d) 4th child, (e)5th child, (0 6th child, and (g) additional children.
Based on statistics of children under 16 years in families as at 1st March 1971, the annual cost of increasing the rate of child endowment by 10 cents a week would be as set out below:
Papua and New Guinea: Administration Staff from’ Africa (Question No. 2367)
External Territories, upon notice:
Papua and New Guinea: Development Committees (Question No. 2378) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What are the names and positions of indigenes who have served on interdepartmental committees established to consider matters affecting the development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea (Hansard, 12th June 1970, page 3675 and 15th September 1970, page 1154).
No indigenes have served on the interdepartmental committees to which the honourable member refers. Indigenes are fully represented within the Administration of Papua and New Guinea in considering matters affecting the development of the Territory. Representation on Commonwealth interdepartmental committees on these matters is normally by the Department of External Territories and not the Administration.
When Mr Ritchie resigned as an associate commissioner of the Papua and New Guinea Electricity Commission why was he replaced by another expatriate instead of an indigene.
The Administration is represented on the Papua and New Guinea Electricity Commission by a senior officer of the Department of the Treasury. Mr Ritchie did not resign as an Associate Commissioner of the Commission. Because of Mr Ritchie’s other commitments his appointment as Associate Commissioner was terminated on 27th October 1970 and he was succeeded by Mr F. K. Milne, the then Assistant Treasurer.
Consistent with the Government’s policy that Papuans and New Guineans should participateto the fullest extent possible in the management of the Territory’s affairs indigenous representation on the Commission will be introduced as soon as it is practicable to do so.
External Territories, upon notice:
When Mr Ritchie resigned as an associate commissioner of the Papua and New Guinea Housing Commission why was he replaced by another expatriate instead of an indigene.
The Administration is represented on the Papua and New Guinea Housing Commission by a senior officer of the Department functionally responsible for housing. Following the transfer of this responsibility from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Social Development and Home Affairs Mr Ritchie was succeeded as an Associate Commissioner on 25th May 1970 by Mr R. R. Bryant, the Assistant Secretary (General Services) of the latter department.
The membership of the Housing Commission has included an indigenous Associate Commissioner from the time the Commission was established in 1968. Consistent with the Government’s policy that Papuans and New Guineans should participate to the fullest extent possible in the management of the Territory’s affairs indigenous representation on the Commission will be increased as soon as it is practicable to do so.
When did Mr J. P. M. Clifford, Deputy Chairman of the Malaysian Federal Land Development Authority report on his visit in May 1969 to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to study land resettlement schemes. (Hansard, 3rd June 1970, page 2876).
The report has never been received from Mr Clifford despite continued attempts to obtain it both by the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea personally and by the Department of External Territories through the Australian High Commission in Malaysia.
How many employers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea were prosecuted under the Native Employment Ordinance in each of the last 10 years.
The matter’ referred to is one which falls within the authority of the Ministerial Member for Labour in the House of Assembly for Papua and New Guinea. The Administrator on the advice of the Ministerial Member for Labour has provided the following information:
The number of employers prosecuted under the Native Employment Ordinance in each of the last 10 years is as follows:
Trade and Industry, upon notice:
Has any Papuan or New Guinean yet been included in a trade commissioner’s course.
To date no Papuan or New Guinean has been included in a trade commissioner training course conducted by my Department.
As there are no suitable indigenes with business backgrounds available, the training of indigenes in international trade matters depends on the availability of university graduates. Two indigenous trade trainees recruited by the Administration of Papua and New Guinea are currently pursuing university studies on a full-time basis and these officers may participate in a future course.
Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Roads (Question No. 273S)
A further but more refined survey, the Australian Roads Survey 1969-74, is being undertaken by the same bodies. This will also be subjected to full evaluation, including cost/benefit analysis.
In addition, at present the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads is undertaking a separate evaluation of a section of the existing interstate highway system. This evaluation is aimed at establish- ing what would be the best means of conducting even more detailed studies into the feasibility of upgrading the major interstate highway system.
The different number of years of secondary schooling also affect comparisons between States. In particular in Tasmania the final secondary school grade may be taken in 1 year (Form V) or
Captain J. H. S. Osborn, R.A.N., Hydrographic Service, Department of the Navy Territory officials:
The proceedings of this conference are not open to the. public, although press releases were made during the meeting. The minutes are made available only to members attending the conference.
In these circumstances the Commonwealth is not in a position to release information as to what requests or suggestions were made at the conference for legislative or administrative action by the Commonwealth or the State Governments.
At the request of two State Ministers a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers which was to have been held on 4th February to consider recommendations of officials was postponed to a date yet to be fixed.
Regarding exports of wool to U.K./ Europe, the Australia to Europe Shipping Conference is now centralising Albany wool for this destination at Fremantle. The Conference has undertaken that this service through Fremantle will not cost the shipper any more than it would cost him to shin through Albany.
This is not to say, however, that the Port of Albany is not being served on a direct basis. The Conference has provided for regular calls at Albany of conventional ships. In 1969-72 22 per cent of wool sold at Albany continued to be shipped from Albany. During the calendar year 1970, 17 ships left Albany for U.K./Europe.
In December 1969 the former Minister for Shipping and Transport visited Albany for discussions with local authorities on problems that had arisen with the introduction of container shipping and on the question of overseas shipping to ports not served directly by container vessels. The Government’s expressed concern was that no special handicaps he put in the way of exports from outlying areas.
My predecessor has, on a number of occasions, put forward the idea that all sectors of a community served by a particular outlying port should co-ordinate snipping requirements. In this way calls at such ports would be. made more attractive commercially to shipowners. A suitable consolidating agency might be the local Harbour Board or Port Authority.
Has access to the Territory of Cocos (Keeling; Islands been (a) sought for or (b). granted to any United Nations visiting missions.
Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Whereas previously janitors were employed on an overtime basis to supervise school buildings when used by community organisations, this is not now occurring because of the need to limit expenditure for the remainder of this financial year.
What was the (a) authorised and (b) actual strength by rank of the Commonwealth Police Force in each of the last 10 years.
The information sought is contained in the reports on the operation of the Commonwealth Police Force laid before each House of Parliament each year in accordance with the provisions of section 1 1 of the Commonwealth Police Act.
Which of Colonel Sir Eric St Johnston’s recommendations on the Victoria Police Force are considered relevant to the Commonwealth Police Force.
The report presented to the Victorian Government on the Victoria Police Force by Colonel Sir
Eric St Johnston CBE, QPM, contains 186 specific recommendations. Most of these recommendations concern (he Police Force in the State of Victoria. My Department is examining those sections of the report dealing with the more general aspects of police recruitment and training, systems of promotion, and police communications and will consider any of the recommendations that might be adopted with advantage in the Commonwealth Police Force.
The report contains several recommendations for co-operative action between the Commonwealth and State Police Forces. It is expected that these recommendations will be considered at an early date.
Defence, upon notice:
Mr A. J. Eastman, CBE, First Assistant Secretary, Defence Division, Department of Foreign Affairs - Deputy Chairman.
Mr A. W. McMichael, Deputy Director (Civilian), Joint Intelligence Organisation.
Brigadier O. H.Isaksson, MC, Deputy Director (Military) Joint Intelligence Organisation.
Mr G. N. Upton, Head, Office of Current Intelligence, Joint Intelligence Organisation.
One of Assistant Secretary, Level 1
Two of Chief Project Officer, Class11
One of Principal Project Officer, Class10
One of Senior Executive Officer, Class 9
One of Project Officer, Class 8
One of Clerk, Class 6
One of Clerk, Class 4
One of Clerical Assistant, Grade 3
One of Clerical Assistant, Grade 2
One of Steno-Secretary (F), Grade t
Defence, upon notice:
Which ofthe principal recommendations of the Committee ofinquiry into Armed Services’ Detention Arrangements have been implemented.
The recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the Services Detention Arrangements were submitted to the then Minister for Defence in March, 1969 and were generally accepted by him.
The Service Departments were then asked to implement those recommendations which referred to the practices and procedures of the individual Services. A Steering Committee consisting of officers of my Department and the Service Departments has been established to supervise the implementation of those recommendations which affect more than one Service.
The principal recommendations in the latter category may be divided into the following groups:
The preparation of uniform Regulations, Service instructions and Standing Orders relating to places of detention. The Steering Committee has been giving close attention to this matter with the assistance of a member of the Committee of Inquiry, Mr J. A. Morony who was the former ComptrollerGeneral of Prisons in New South Wales. The work is well advanced and should be completed at an early date.
The staffing and design of a proposed new military corrective establishment, the location and staffing of area detention facilities and the command and control aspects, of the new establishments and facilities. In these matters the Steering Committee has produced guide-line papers which are being taken into account by the Services in detailed proposals for design, construction, and staffing etc., of these establishments.
The Committee of Inquiry recommended that areas of research be designated. The Steering Committee has prepared a paper on this matter which is now under consideration.
The recommendations of the Committeeof Inquiry have been generally accepted and have either been implemented or will be implemented.
Defence, upon notice:
Is he able to say what annual savings have resulted from the amalgamation of the printing units of the Navy, Army, Air Force and the Department of Supply.
As previously announced, the combined printery will be located at Brunswick in an existing building being remodelled for the purpose.
As the necessary alterations to the premises have not yet been completed, the physical amalgamation of the printing units of the Army, Air Force and Supply in Melbourne has not yet taken place. However, the amalgamation is expected to result in savings in capital expenditure and to achieve greater production and increased efficiency.
The Kerr Committee of Inquiry on conditions of service for members of the Defence forces is to visit Australian bases in South Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore later this month. An announcement on the visit will be made in the press within the next few days.
The honourable member will be aware that the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation has been appointed by and is responsible to the Parliament. It therefore is not a part of my Ministerial responsibility. To date 1 understand that the Committee has not indicated any intention to visit Australian bases overseas. The conditions governing retirement benefits are not affected in any way by the area in which a member is serving.
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
The Hon. P. J. Nixon, M.P., Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport.
The Hon. R. J. D. Hunt, M.P., Minister for the Interior.
The Hon. M. A. Morris, M.L.A., New South Wales Minister for Transport.
The Hon. V. F. Wilcox, M.P., Victorian Minister of Transport.
The Hon. W. E. Knox, M.L.A., Queensland, Minister for Transport.
The Hon. G. T. Virgo, M.P., South Australian Minister of Roads and Transport and Minister of Local Government.
The Hon. R. J. O’Connor, M.L.A., Western Australian Minister for Transport and Railways.
The Hon. L. H. Bessell. M.H.A.. Tasmanian Minister for Transport, Racing and Gaming, and Mines.
The Hon. C. E. Barnes, M.P., Minister for External Territories.
Mr J. Lue, M.H.A., Assistant Ministerial Member for Transport, Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Is it the intention of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to make application to the Public Service Arbitrator to vary conditions applying to Commonwealth Railways apprentices so as to allow for a maximum period of 4 years apprenticeship in line with the recent amendments to the South Australian Apprenticeship Act which reduces the apprenticeship period from 5 years to 4 years.
Applications by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner were filed in the Office of the Public Service Arbitrator on 23rd and 29th March 1971 to vary Public Sen-ice Arbitrator determinations applicable to the Commonwealth Railways Service by reducing the period of apprenticeship to 4 years.
Will he table or publish a statement outlining the nature and scope of blackmarket dealings in which Australians have been involved, and are reasonably suspected to be involved, in Vietnam.
In South Vietnam, as with many other countries, there is constant exposure of servicemen to the temptations of a blackmarket, and it is inevitable that some soldiers will succumb to these temptations.
All cases of suspected blackmarketing are investigated, but considering the number of troops in the theatre, the Australian incidence is not considered to be of major dimensions.
Arising from a recent investigation in Vietnam, 8 soldiers were charged with involvement in blackmarketing activities and have been dealt with summarily. They were trading electrical items and high fidelity sound reproducing equipment. Their total profit from these activities was less than $3,000 (Australian).
Comprehensive instructions covering all relevant aspects of blackmarketing have now been issued by Headquarters Australian Force Vietnam. Controls have been tightened on the sale of luxury goods to troops, and a careful check on the operation of these measures will be maintained.
In the last 12 months to 7th March 1971. 35 soldiers have been convicted on charges of illegally trading in goods.
and (2) All members of the Army, whether voluntarily enlisted or serving under a national service obligation, are required to render overseas service should the needs of the Army so dictate. A soldier may volunteer for a posting to Vietnam although volunteers are generally not sought. Soldiers are posted to Vietnam, according to the requirements of the Service unless exceptional hardship to the soldier or his family would result or for medical reasons or any other reasons acceptable to the Service.
The Commonwealth Statistician does not distinguish between permanent departures of assisted and unassisted settlers and consequently the figures requested by the honourable member are not available.
However, statistics of total settler departures suggest that about one half of the former assisted settlers from Britain who leave Australia, do so within twelve months of completing their undertaking to remain here for at least two years, that is between two and three years of their arrival.
The two year undertaking is required to ensure that the Commonwealth receives a reasonable return for the grant of assisted passages.
The numbers of assisted migrants from United Kingdom who departed within this two-year period and who fulfilled the requirement outlined above, and the repayments made, for the period July 1965 to June 1970, as recorded by the Department of Immigration were as follows -
How many non-European migrants eligible for citizenship have not made application to this date.
When the policy relating to the admission of non-Europeans as migrants was reviewed in March 1966 it was also provided that non-Euro- peans then in Australia temporarily could qualify for the grant of residence status upon completing 5 years residence.
On 31st December 1963 an estimated 6,900 non-Europeans were in Australia either with resident status or as temporary residents with entitlement to seek residence status after 5 years residence.
Between 1st January 1966 and 3 1 st December 1970, 7,847 non-Europeans were admitted as migrants. Of these 4,224 were spouses and minor children of persons resident here, the majority of whom would have been eligible to seek citizenship during that period.
Taking account of the number of nonEuropeans granted Australian citizenship between 1st January 1966 and 31st December 1970 (6,499 persons) it is estimated that there were approximately 4,600 non-Europeans who were residentiary qualified on 31st December 1970 for Australian citizenship but who had not applied for it.
Or Klugman asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Which Ministers were present at the Cabinet Meeting on Sunday, 19th July 1970 which authorised the calling out of the Pacific Islands Regiment.
I do not wish to add to what was said in this House on the subject by the then Prime Minister on 9th March 1971 (Hansard, pages 688-9).
What progress has been made since his predecessor’s answer to me on 25 January 1969 (Hansard, page 53) towards introducing the further legislation required to enable Australia to become a party to the Neighbouring Rights Convention of 1961?
The number of accessions so far to the Rome Convention has been disappointingly small. The question of the introduction of legislation that would be necessary to enable Australia to accede to the Convention has not been overlooked. A study has been made of recent developments in the international sphere concerning the protection of broadcasts and recordings. Australia will be represented at international meetings to be held within the next few months. 1 hope to be in a position to assess the amendments required to existing laws in Australia after those meetings.
Armed Forces: Re-engagements (Question No. 2451)
How many officers have (a) sought and (b) received permission to resign from each of the Services since 30th June 1970.
The number of officers (including those of the Women’s Services) who sought permission to resign and the number of applications approved during the period 30th June 1970 to 28th February 1971 is as follows:
On 15th February 1971 the Public Service Arbitrator convened a statutory conference to ascertain the attitudes of the parties to the claim. After discussion the Arbitrator adjourned the statutory conference to 9th March 1971, when the parties were to be requested to indicate their then position.
Subsequent to the statutory conference held on 15th February 1971, the Public Service Board became aware of a letter dated 11th February 1971 which the Professional Officers’ Association had sent to the Permanent Head of each of the respondent Departments. The text of the letter is as follows:
Yon will be aware that on the 22nd December 1970, this Association filed a claim with the Public Service Arbitrator seeking 15 per cent increases in the salaries of professional officers of the classifications set out in the Appendix to this letter. The Public Service Board and other respondents have lodged with the Public Service Arbitrator answers indicating their objection to the claim.
The Association has supplied to the Public Service Board, which usually represents and acts for your Department/Commission/ Authority in such matters, material in support of its claim. The Association has also sought to have conferences and negotiations with the Board concerning the claim. Apart from a formal acknowledgement of these requests the Board has not made a positive move concerning settlement of the claim or towards commencement of negotiations.
Regrettably, the Board’s delay has produced and is aggravating a situation wherein members of the professions concerned are considering whether, when and how they should move to apply industrial pressure to encourage the Board to cast aside its delaying tactics and to engage in conciliation.
The Association and each member of the professions concerned are aware of their responsibilities as professional officers and, accordingly, at this stage, consideration is being given to the question as to which services/duties/functions presently performed, and likely to be threatened by the application of industrial pressure, are essential to health and safety of both life and valuable plant and equipment. Should there not be a satisfactory resolution of the present dispute beforehand the application of industrial pressures could commence as early as 10th March 1971. Therefore, with a view to ensuring that essential services are defined in time to permit their subsequent maintenance in the event of the application of the pressures mentioned, it is requested that you advise the Association of your definition of such services and specify those which, in your view, fall within this category.
A letter similar to this letter has been forwarded to the Permanent Head of each of the respondents to the claim which will be the subject of a Statutory Conference before the Public Service Arbitrator at 10.30 a.m. on Monday next, 15th February 1971.’
Following receipt of the abovementioned letter written by the Professional Officers’ Association, the Public Service Board, under date 24th February 1971, wrote to the Public Service Arbitrator in the following terms:
The Board has received a copy of a letter dated 11th February 1971. which the Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service, has sent to Permanent Heads of Departments having staff employed in the classifications covered by the Claim (K.418). A copy of that letter is attached. The Board was not aware of the existence of that letter at the time of the statutory conference on K.418, that is 15th February 1971.
In paragraph three (3) of that letter the Professional Officers’ Association quite clearly indicates that members are ‘considering whether, when and how they should move to apply industrial pressure to encourage the Board to cast aside its delaying tactics and to engage in conciliation’. Paragraph four (4) of the same letter indicates that ‘should there not be a satisfactory resolution of the present dispute beforehand the application of industrial pressures could commence as early as 10th March 1971’. The Board is of the view that the letter can only be interpreted as indicating that the Professional Officers’ Association is seeking to apply pressure on the Respondents by threat of industrial action.
The Board desires to make it clear that its consideration of representations has not been and will not be influenced on timing or in any other aspects by threats.
The Statutory Conference on Claim K.418 is due to resume on 9th March 1971. In the light of the attitude of the Professional Officers’ Association as expressed in its letter, the Board requests that you arrange an appropriate opportunity for the Board to submit that arbitral consideration of Claim K.418 should be suspended pending the Professional Officers’ Association withdrawing its letter and giving an assurance that it does not propose to continue with threats of industrial action.
The Board itself is suspending any further direct processes with the Professional Officers’ Association on any claims made by the Professional Officers’ Association pending the Professional Officers’ Association withdrawing its letter and giving an assurance that it does not propose to continue with threats of industrial action.
A copy of this letter has been sent to the Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service, and all the Respondents to Claim K.418.’
On 18th March 1971 the Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service, advised all the Respondents to Claim K.418 in the following terms:
Further to this Association’s letter to you of 11th February 1971 and to its letter of 3rd March 1971, addressed to the Arbitrator (of which you have received a copy), it is desired to advise that the Public Service Board has interpreted the firstmentioned letter as a threat of industrial action by the Professional Officers’ Association.
The P.O.A. Executive has today assured the Board and the Arbitrator that it does not and will not threaten or engage in industrial action in the areas covered by Claim K.418 and has instructed its members accordingly.’
In the light of the Professional Officers’ Association undertaking as quoted above, the Public Service Arbitrator has adjourned the Claim to a public hearing on a date to be fixed.
In the case referred to, the representative of the Public Service Board advised the Public Service Arbitrator that:
The situation is somewhat different from that existing at the date of the decision of His Honour Judge Olssen (in matter No. 25 of 1969) in that the salary levels, particularly for the more senior officers, have been advanced - by Government decision in South Australia and by this Determination. Nevertheless, the Board may wish to examine the position in the light of this decision and consider whether or not any administrative step is necessary or desirable.’
The representative of the Public Service Board advised the Public Service Arbitrator that -
See also the Answer to Question No. 2717 relating to events subsequent to the statutory conference on 15th February 1971.
Will he make available to the Parliament a’ copy of the text of the recommendation of the Public Service Board concerning departmental increases in employment for the period ended 30th June 1971.
No. I think it would be bad administrative practice to make available any papers concerned with the formulation of policy decisions of this nature.
House adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 April 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710420_reps_27_hor72/>.