28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr SPEAKER - Are there any petitions?
– I ask leave of the House to move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -
the Prime Minister moving forthwith a motion of confidence in and support of the AttorneyGeneral;
during the debate on the motion reference being made to the subject matter of order of the day No. 9; and
upon the conclusion of the consideration of the motion, order of the day No. 9 being then called on and disposed of without further debate.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -
the Prime Minister moving forthwith a motion of confidence in and support of the AttorneyGeneral;
during the debate on the motion reference being made to the subject matter of order of the day No. 9; and
upon the conclusion of the consideration of the motion, order of the day No. 9 being then called on and disposed of without further debate.
I have moved this motion because it concerns a matter of very great importance in the view of the Government. We feel that it should be dealt with expeditiously and in a way that will allow all concerned to express their views and at the same time allow debate to proceed without undue delay in any respect. The matter to which the motion refers has received considerable publicity and certainly it is a matter of vital importance to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) and to the Government. We see no reason why we should not proceed with this motion forthwith in view of statements made by the Leader of the Opposition and members opposite of their pronounced intention to debate this matter today immediately the Parliament assembled.
The motion I have moved will give to members of the Opposition the opportunity that they demanded over the weekend and at other times for an immediate debate when the Parliament assembled today. Nothing could be more prompt than for me, on behalf of the Government, to accept one minute after the Parliament has met the challenge of those who sit opposite and to give them the opportunity to debate this issue. I see no reason why my motion to suspend Standing Orders should not be agreed to. Order of the day No. 9 on the business paper, which is headed Croatian Terrorism’, is inevitably linked with the subject we are seeking to discuss in regard to the Attorney-General. Does any honourable member opposite believe that he could debate the question relating to the AttorneyGeneral without referring to item No. 9 on the business paper? It is to prevent the honourable members opposite from so consistently being ruled out of order that we have very generously included in the motion the opportunity to debate the issues in toto. Honourable members will be able to link together the various matters under discussion, make speeches that will be easily comprehended and at the same time make full and complete reference to what is under discussion. It cannot be said that the Government is not giving ample time for such a discussion. The Government is prepared to give the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) 45 minutes in which to discuss these questions. That should enable him to cover them.
I do not wish to take up the time of the House unduly. I summarise by saying that the purposes of this motion to suspend Standing Orders are, firstly, to give members of the Opposition the opportunity to fulfil their pronounced desire to debate, immediately the Parliament met, the questions that are under discussion and, secondly, to allow them to make their speeches in recognition of the fact that they must refer to item 9 on the notice paper. There is no intention to evade anything. This is a clear declaration of where the Government stands on this matter. Honourable members opposite have the opportunity to take this up. They have asked for it and I would have thought that they were so anxious to debate the subject that they would agree to the suspension of Standing Orders. But am I now to take it that you are running away from this debate? Am I to take it that you do not want to face up to the brutal use of the majority in another place–
-Order! The Minister will address the Chair.
– Is this House to be given to understand that those in control of another place exercised their brutal majority against all the evidence and now honourable members opposite refuse to debate the matter in this House despite the fact that the Government has given them the first available opportunity to do so? The Government has given the Leader of the Opposition this opportunity. One can see that, by opposing the suspension of Standing Orders, the Opposition does not wish to face up to the matter before the House today. I have moved the motion to suspend Standing Orders in all sincerity on behalf of the Government to allow honourable members opposite to defend the actions of their colleagues in another place and to see whether they can defend the actions of their brutal majority which, against all evidence, passed resolutions which were detrimental to the Parliament generally.
– We have had recently the most unprecedented action that has even been taken in Australian democratic history. I refer to the raid on the Melbourne offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. That was quite unprecedented and undemocratic; it was an action which we would hope would never again occur in Australia. But the issues that have been raised from that incident have yet to be debated in this House and I propose to debate them later this afternoon. The purpose of this motion is to enable the Government to treat this Parliament with contempt. It is designed to enable the Government to abuse its numbers in this House for the purpose of stopping questions being asked which are designed to establish facts. None of those facts has been provided to this House or to the Senate. The only facts that we know are those that have been elicited by questions.
It is a sign of the discomfort that the Government has and of the concern members of the Government Party have about the handling of this matter by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that they wish them not to be subjected to questions. Everybody knows that in this House the Prime Minister consistently has refused to answer questions put to him about this matter. He constantly has evaded and prevaricated on this issue and has been nervous that yet another disclosure would be made to embarrass him, his Government and his AttorneyGeneral. The reason for the motion to suspend Standing Orders has no relevance whatever to engaging in the debate, for I assure the Government that we will co-operate in every way to bring on the debate. That was our intention as we walked into the House today. It so happened that we were not informed of the intentions of the Prime Minister until about 20 minutes before the House assembled today. This is just another departure from the way in which the affairs of the Parliament should be conducted. However, that time did enable me to make some inquiries about the precedents for abandoning question time. I have been advised by the Clerk that questions have been waived in the past for the following reasons: In relation to motions of censure or amendments to censure; at the opening of Parliament; historical reasons in relation to Budgets; and on other special occasions such as royal visits. There is no precedent for a government to take action to remove questions from the day’s business to protect itself against probing questions; that is what question time is all about ,
I really believe that the Prime Minister had a dual purpose in mind in adopting this strategy. One reason was to avoid questions and the other reason was not to repeat the hitherto continual performance of his own embarrassment at not answering them. Those are the 2 reasons for the strategy. The Leader of the House (Mr Daly) came up with his characteristically irrelevant and unsupported arguments. He said that the Opposition does not want to face up. I can assure him that we will not only face up but will also demand a full debate in this House. A full debate does not mean what he has already forecast- 3 speakers from each side. If the issue is so important as to suspend questions, it is important enough (o be debated in this House until it has been fully debated. It is a matter of great cowardice on the part of the Government to adopt this course of suspending questions and then attempting to gag the debate. I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that the Opposition recognises in this move the whole future of parliamentary democracy in this chamber. We will not lose. If we have to fight every inch of the way, then fight we will, but we will not lose on this issue.
The Australian people are not willing to sit quiescent while a government attempts to use its power of numbers in this way. We will not put up with it; 1 give due notice of that. The Leader of the House referred to the brutal use of a majority in the Senate. The Senate debated this issue. It spent on questions on this matter a total of 6 hours. It debated this issue for nearly 3 days. Can it reasonably be suggested that the same course should be adopted here? It ought to be adopted here and we will be asking for it. The honourable gentleman said that the purpose of his motion is to bring on for debate item No. 9 on the notice paper which relates to a statement about Croatian terrorists. He said: ‘Not a minute has been wasted’. The statement was made on 27th March and has been lying around since., waiting to be debated. We have been ready every day to debate it. The Government has put it off and put it off. Now its day of reckoning has come and we will co-operate in every way to bring about a debate on the 2 issues of which there is formal notice. One is the statement, the second is the proposal of the Prime Minister to move a motion expressing confidence in the Attorney-General. Another is the amendment I will move to the Prime Minister’s motion, and that is to call for a judicial inquiry by 3 judges. All 3 issues can be debated together. We will give leave so that they can be brought on together and debated. Any suggestion that order of the day No. 9 on the notice paper cannot be discussed on its own is a matter for the Government. I have already indicated that if the Government does not want to debate it on its own we will cooperate to bring all the matters into the debate.
Questions need to be asked, and they need to be asked now - such questions as who declassified the document about the alleged invasion. Why was that declassification not made last Thursday instead of Friday as a throw-away line in a commercial television program? I want to know whether the Prime Minister has had the opportunity to refresh his memory as to whether any expression of concern was made by the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation as to the events on 16th March involving the AttorneyGeneral. There are a dozen questions which my colleagues want to ask, and the Prime Minister and the Government are the ones who are running away from them. They are running away from them because they have no answers. They have been put in disarray, and they are prepared, in the face of all precedent, to rob the Parliament of question time for the purpose of gaining some short term advantage in attempting to protect themselves.
As for ample time, the Leader of the House said that 45 minutes will be allowed to the Prime Minister and 45 minutes to the Leader of the Opposition. There is not a member on my side of the House who does not want to speak on this matter. Where is the feeling of open government? The Prime Minister sits in a red flush. He is not proud of the tactic he has adopted, and he has every reason not to be proud of it. Anybody else would feel ashamed of it. We oppose the suspension of Standing Orders.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition’s time has expired.
– I draw attention firstly to the motion. It is a motion to suspend Standing Orders. It does not in any sense suspend the right to questions later. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has assumed that. Maybe he is right; I do not know.
– Were you not in the Cabinet meeting?
– I have been in the Cabinet meeting, but what I want to say against what has been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition is that we are attempting to restore proper parliamentary usage, which after all fell into great disrepute under the previous Government. Parliamentary usage suggests that the only place in which the Opposition can challenge a government is on the floor of the House of Representatives by a vote. It can pass in the Senate as many motions of no confidence in a Minister as it likes, and they matter not a jot. The Government believes in a doctrine known as collective responsibility of Cabinet - something which, I repeat, was honoured in the breach more than in the observance in the last several months of the previous Government. But if the Opposition wanted to move a motion of no confidence in the Government or in the conduct of a particular Minister the place to do so was in this House. The Opposition chose not to do this.
When I hear all the bleating about the taking away of question time and recall how futile and ineffective question time has been in the hands of the Opposition, I do not think we have yielded very much. All the weekend I heard on television and radio and read in the Press about all that the right honourable gentleman was going to do when the House met on Tuesday. He seems to have been, as usual, a bit slow on the draw and we have got in first. I think honourable members opposite will find that so long as they put their confidence in the political strategy of the right honourable gentleman they will be beaten more often than they will win. What is wrong in voting as we want to or putting to a vote the question that this side of the House has confidence in the AttorneyGeneral and the way in which he has handled things? Do honourable members opposite want to put it in the negative sense - that they have no confidence in the Attorney-General?
– That is not the issue and you know it.
– I know what the issue is.
– Then stop prevaricating.
– I am not prevaricating. You are prevaricating when you try to camouflage this as anything but sheer political expediency. When the Opposition resorts to sheer political expediency, as it has done, it cannot expect that occasionally there will not be sheer political retaliation. Surely to goodness this is what this place is about.
Opposition members - Political expediency.
– I did not say that. I said sheer political retaliation’. What the Opposition has done is try to elevate into a monster that place upstairs, and the monstrosity is allowed to continue because it is not a place that had to go to election in December. The Opposition can only win there because it takes to its side there a party that has no political representation whatever in this House.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I regret very much that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) should have sought to be involved in this debate because he knows that I have a high regard for him. I say in quite deliberate terms that on this occasion the honourable gentleman has not enhanced his reputation by his involvement in this debate because what the Government has put forward is, in fact, a very shoddy procedural motion. It is a motion which, I believe, is consistent with the jackboot approach which we have seen in this Parliament during the course of recent days. It is a contemptible motion. It is a motion which shows the Government and members of the Australian Labor Party simply for what they are. This is no group which is concerned about any concept of open government such as we heard mentioned gibly during pre-election days. This is a Government which is determined, in this House and elsewhere, to pursue a course of action which is that of closed government. The motion before the Chair is, in fact, no less than a travesty of the concept of open government. It is contemptuous of any concept of democracy in this country. Certainly it is consistent with the whole approach which the Government has followed in terms of the workings of this Parliament - an approach which would deny the Opposition parties an opportunity to show full well the extent of the concealment and deceit which have characterised this issue since the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) first brought down his statement in another place.
– Switch him off.
– I would like to switch off the honourable member. He would be better switched off because that interjection shows full well that the Government is determined to switch off the Australian people from an opportunity to be involved. As my leader has made crystal clear, the facts which have been elicited during the course of this particular issue have come forward during question time and the reason why the Government seeks to suspend question time is, as is shown from a simple reflection on the proposition, that it knows it is in trouble. It is well aware that Senator Murphy in another place is running scared, if I may use that expression. He is running scared because, as the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and other honourable gentlemen opposite would know, it is a matter of record that during the course of the last days of last week in the Senate, the Attorney-General himself, a man who alleges a sense of high principle, was seeking in the corridors of that place a shabby deal. He wanted out, according to the best information available to me which comes from the other side of this House. He wanted out. He was running scared simply because the Government realises that this is not an issue upon which it can win and it has been losing very much during the course of recent weeks. The issue is souring so far as the Government is concerned. But does it really care? It is contemptuous of the Parliament. It is contemptuous of the Opposition’s right to probe, to cajole and to put facts into this debate because if there is one thing we have not had from the Attorney-General it is the facts about this matter. The Opposition totally opposes the motion.
-Order! The time for debate on the motion has expired.
That the motion (Mr Daly’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion expressing the contempt in which the House holds the Prime Minister and the Government for abusing the forms of the House and all parliamentary precedents in an attempt to avoid being brought to account for the unprecedented attacks on national security.
– I move:
That this House -
notes with concern the account, given by the Minister representing the Attorney-General in his statement of 27 March 1973, of terrorist activities carried out in Australia by certain Croatian groups;
commends the Government’s efforts to bring such activities to an end; and
expresses its full confidence in and support for the Attorney-General in these efforts.
I have moved this motion so that 2 matters can be placed beyond all doubt. Firstly, I have complete confidence in the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy), the Government has complete confidence in the AttorneyGeneral; my party has complete confidence in the Attorney-General, who is also the Leader of the Australian Labor Party - the Australian Government - in the Senate. Secondly, I ask this House to assert its own authority and prestige. This House, and this House alone, determines who shall govern Australia. The state of the parties in this House determines which party shall form the Government and which party shall provide Ministers. It is only through this House and through the elections for this House that the will of the people as to their government and the members of that government can be expressed. No vote, no resolution in any place other than this House, has any effect whatsoever as to the fate of governments or to the fate of Ministers. By asserting our confidence in the AttorneyGeneral we are also asserting our own undoubted and unchallengeable rights as members of the House of Representatives.
Let me cut through the smoke screen raised by the Senate resolution and the antics of the leaders’ of the Opposition - I put ‘leaders’ in the plural and inverted commas - over the last 2 weeks. The Government inherited 10 years of apathy towards the existence of terrorism in Australia and years of evasion and deceit about the very existence of such terrorism. I seek leave to table a document listing more than 50 incidents with connotations of violence within the Yugoslav community.
-Is leave granted?
– We have not had the privilege of seeing the document, Mr Speaker, and until we see it we cannot agree to its being tabled.
– Leave is not granted.
– I shall table it at the next opportunity. It is not an exhaustive list, having been prepared solely from the resources of the Central Crime Intelligence Bureau of the Commonwealth Police Force. It excludes a number of serious cases still before the courts. We were asked to believe that there was no evidence of any organisation. We were told by Ministers in the previous Government that there was no evidence of the existence of any organisation, and we were asked to believe that these incidents were all spontaneous, isolated, unplanned. Against this background came the visit of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, a visit most welcome to my Government but one which resulted from a standing invitation extended by the previous Government. In the fortnight before the visit took place the Commonwealth Police informed the Government that it believed an attempt would be made to assassinate Mr Bijedic. According to the Commonwealth Police this threat was coupled with threats on the life of the Attorney-General, his wife and myself. In these circumstances I authorised the Attorney-General to take the necessary measures to protect the safety of our distinguished visitor and to ensure the success of his visit. The Attorney-General acted with vigour and correctness. I congratulate him.
The Attorney-General had to ensure the complete co-operation with and between the various security and law enforcement agencies under his authority. He knew that the Commonwealth Police believed that there had been lack of co-operation and a failure in information exchange with ASIO. Officers of my own Department of Foreign Affairs had also repeatedly complained of the lack of co-operation and information exchange with ASIO.
Mr Speaker, perhaps this would be a good opportunity for one to remind the House that, on 3rd April, the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) asked me to table the terms and conditions of appointment of the Director-General of Security. I can tell the House that Mr Barbour was appointed DirectorGeneral of Security on 22nd January 1970 by the Governor-General, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council for a term expiring on the day on which he attains the age of 60 years, subject to the terms and conditions set out in a separate determination. I ask leave of the House to table a document which, omitting only formal parts, states the terms and conditions set out in the determination.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I understand from the Attorney-General that ASIO itself now accepts that there have been, in the past, deficiencies in co-operation and information exchange. We are now confident that these deficiencies and failures will no longer occur. The actions of the Attorney-General have been a major factor in ensuring this. Many of the . memoranda supporting these views were compiled by departmental officers in the lifetime of the previous Government. I assume that the former Prime Minister, with his diligence and phenomenal memory, knows of their existence and recalls their content. The right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) will remember his plea of 27th October 1970 to the then Attorney-General:
I therefore earnestly hope that an intensified effort can be mounted by our police and security authorities designed to expose and render ineffective the extremist groups who presumably are responsible for the attacks which have occurred.
I notice the right honourable gentleman remembers this as he indicated by nodding, and remembers the circumstances which led him, as Minister for External Affairs, to write in that way. I assume that the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) recalls his own complaints on this matter. One letter has been tabled. Would he like me to table another? I assume that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) recalls his own activities in 1964 to achieve a watering-down of a proposed statement on Croatian terrorism. The right honourable member is not in the chamber so I shall not table the document.
In the light of all the material available to us - material we inherited - the Attorney-General was bound to have misgivings about the level of co-operation on this particular matter as far as
ASIO was concerned. He would not have been doing his duty if he had not acted directly, personally and vigorously to ensure that he was receiving all relevant information and receiving all necessary co-operation. His visits to ASIO headquarters in Canberra and Melbourne were designed to achieve just that, and they did achieve just that. It is intolerable to suggest that the Attorney-General should have placed strict formality above the safety of a visiting Prime Minister and, if it matters, the safety of the Australian Prime Minister.
I regret, the Attorney-General regrets, and we all regret the publicity given to these visits. The Attorney-General was not responsible for that. It was not the Attorney-General or anybody on his staff, it was not any member of the Government or his staff, who tipped off the Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 16th March. The Attorney-General himself, as did I and every member of the Government, maintained complete silence until the Parliament could meet. It would have been much easier and personally less embarrassing for the Attorney-General had he felt free to answer questions from the media throughout the subsequent week. He felt obliged - and he was obliged - to maintain silence except for one quite formal and circumspect statement. We are not at all complaining about the Press, but I repeat that we cannot accept responsibility for it.
On the basis of this one event, or its interpretation of that event, the Opposition for the past fortnight has turned question time in both Houses into a farce. Members of the Opposition have abused the authority of the Chair in the House and on television outside it and made a concerted effort to impede the real business of this Parliament and this Government. But they have failed entirely to grapple with the important issues involved.
Has there been, over the last decade, because it was 10 years ago when there was first a debate on Croatian terrorism, a pattern of political violence and political terrorism in Australia? There has been. Was this organised? It was. Did the previous Government know of the existence of these organisations? It did. Did the previous Attorney-General deny the existence of such organisations? He did. He did repeatedly, deliberately, irresponsibly. Were members of the previous Government satisfied by the level of co-operation and competence being shown in combating this violence, this terrorism? They were not and they complained about it - privately. Did they insist that the previous Attorney-General take all possible action to stamp out terrorism and to ensure the vigilance and vigour of the law enforcement and security organisations? They did not. They complained privately and condoned publicly. Did the previous Government deal honestly and frankly with the Government of Yugoslavia in its complaints about threats to Yugoslav nationals in Australia and operations being plotted in Australia against the legitimate Government of Yugoslavia? It did not. Was the present Attorney-General entitled to act promptly and directly to safeguard the lives of the distinguished visitors and distinguished Australians? He was and he did so act. He will continue so to act, and in acting against terrorism from the right or the left or from whatever extremist groups in this country, he will have the unwavering, unqualified support of this Government.
I stand amazed at the sense of priorities and proprieties of honourable and right honourable gentlemen opposite. Senator Murphy, we are told, is to be censured for sealing some documents; Senator Greenwood presumably is to be praised for stealing some. It might be best if I deal at once with the proposal which the Leader of the Opposition has proposed as an amendment to my motion, that there should be a royal commission of some form or some form of judicial inquiry into this matter. I read about this proposal over the last few days. I pondered it quite deeply and I may say that, with great reluctance, I have decided to set aside the temptation the right honourable gentleman dangles before me. Nothing could suit me better; nothing could be so politically devastating to the remnants of the previous Government than such an inquiry.
Clearly a royal commission would have to cover the whole range of terrorist activities and the attitude of governments and their agencies to it over the last 10 years or more. Such an inquiry would have, of course, powers to call for persons and papers. The persons who have something to answer for from the 1960’s to the present time are, of course, overwhelmingly, Ministers in the previous Government. The papers would be 99.99 per cent papers produced for and by the previous Government. The crucial question that such a commission would have to report on would be the neglect and the deceit of the previous Government in the face of the clearest evidence of organised terrorist activities in this country over the last 10 years.
I confess I am sorely tempted. I will tell the House why I have resisted the temptation. There are 2 good reasons. Firstly, I am convinced that such an inquiry would not add materially to our ability to crush the terrorist activities which were allowed to grow under the previous Government. I am satisfied that the measures we are taking, and in particular the measures that the Attorney-General is taking to reorganise the agencies which come under his responsibility and to ensure cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies, will be effective in stamping out terrorism, Secondly, I have decided - tempting as the prospect may be - that the Labor Government is not going to have a Petrov commission in reverse. We are not going to have a witchhunt. We are not going to have the first months and years of our Government dominated by an atmosphere of heresy hunting and fear. I repeat: It tempts me to set up a commission which would leave every leading member of the previous Government, the present Opposition, with his reputation in shreds. I assure the House that the material is there. The Leader of the Opposition knows it is there, the last Prime Minister knows it is there, the Prime Minister before that knows it is there and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows it is there.
Such a commission would have to satisfy itself, for example, why the then AttorneyGeneral, Senator Greenwood, wrote on 16th August last year to the Prime Minister of that time complaining about stories which were then appearing in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ and other newspapers about political terrorism, a letter in which Senator Greenwood suggested that the departments then headed by the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes), the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) and the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) were insecure or were ‘insufficiently safeguarded’. This is the sort of material that would have to go before the royal commission or any judicial inquiry. We would have a rare old time. We would have to haul before the commission or inquiry not just the right honourable and honourable gentlemen I have named, but the then heads of those departments, the officers who know the truth, the journalists involved and even editors of newspapers. And for what purpose? There would be only one purpose and one result - to destroy the last vestiges of what ever reputation that previous Government and surviving members might possibly have.
The Leader of the Opposition puts up this phoney proposal for a royal commission. He is the nominal head of a party whose own Senate group declares its independence of the Liberal Party in this House. That independent group judged the Attorney-General without an inquiry - a judicial inquiry or any other form of inquiry - or without a royal commission of one, two or three judges. The Leader of the Opposition now comes forward with a proposal to have an inquiry to pass judgment on the Attorney-General. When will these gentlemen - this plethora of privy councillors, this gaggle of ex-Ministers - sort themselves out? Is there to be a censure followed by an inquiry or an inquiry followed by a further censure? I have had to make a judgment between an easy destruction of the Liberal Party and damage to the welfare of this country. I have decided to put the welfare of Australia ahead of my contempt for the Liberal Party.
The long debate on this whole matter seems to have concentrated on Senator Murphy and Senator Greenwood. This is terribly unfair to Senator Greenwood. Senator Greenwood is not significant enough a person to be the scapegoat for the previous Government. The documentation against the previous Government goes back well before Senator Greenwood was even a member of the Parliament and, in indicting the members of the last Government, I want to concentrate on one aspect of their activities and their failures which has not been paid much attention. I refer to their cavalier conduct, their lack of candour towards a friendly government, namely the Government of Yugoslavia. Let there be no illusions about the importance of good relations with Yugoslavia and the significance of that Government not just to Australia but to the world. The previous Government was under no illusions. For example, Senator Wright, representing the then Foreign Minister, told the Senate on 21st September last:
Any break up of Yugoslavia could lead only to the creation of a new crisis point in the world today. It is almost certain that under such circumstances there would be increased tension and thus a reversal of the current trends towards a better climate for good relations in Europe after a post-war period of tension lasting over 25 years.
Yet that same Government was willing to imperil our good relations with the Yugoslav Government and to condone within Australia the existence of terrorist groups dedicated to that Government’s destruction by violence. 1 ask leave to table a list of the occasions upon which the Yugoslav Government sent formal notes or made informal representations to the Australian Government and the dates of the Australian responses.
-Is leave granted?
– Earlier the Prime Minister asked leave to table a document which I had not seen. I have since seen it and I grant leave for the tabling of it. The document to which he has just referred I have not seen. If he will allow me to glance at it I will inform him whether leave is granted.
– Leave is granted for tabling the list of incidents with connotations of violence within the Yugoslav community.
– In October 1963 the Yugoslav Government referred, in the first of many formal protest notes, to the incursion of 9 Croatians with connections in Australia which occurred in that year. In 1963, as papers tabled by the Attorney-General indicate, there was no disagreement within the Australian police or intelligence organisations that a terrorist group known as the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood existed in this country.
-Order! The Prime Minister’s time has expired.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition each speaking for a period not exceeding 45 minutes.
– I understand that the Leader of the House does not mean 45 minutes from now.
– That understanding is correct.
– Nevertheless, the formal reply to the Yugoslav note did not refer to this fact. Our diplomat who delivered the note to representatives of the Yugoslav Government was specifically instructed that he ‘should avoid any discussion of Croatian organisations within Australia’.
Since 1963 the Yugoslav Government has made 13 formal representations about Croatian extremists and on 18 other occasions oral representations have been made by the Yugoslav Embassy or to our Embassy in Belgrade. The pattern of Australian replies to these representations has been a consistent one throughout the decade. In many of the protests the Yugoslav authorities have provided infor- marion about Croatian activities and in most of them have made broader references to Croatian nationalist activity in this country. Virtually without exception, the Australian replies either ignored or dismissed without further comment the broader allegations made by the Yugoslav Government. Our replies concentrate on the particular incident, whether a demonstration or an explosion, which prompted the latest Yugoslav protest. The previous Liberal governments would go no further than to give general assurances that the Australian authorities would pursue investigations with respect to the particular incident. They never did.
The final note of 19th September 1972 formally demanded whether the statements attributed to Senator Greenwood represented the official attitude of the Australian Government. The interim reply to this demand in the Australian Government’s note of 20th October 1972 did not simply lack candour; it was positively misleading. The Australian Government confirmed that Senator Greenwood’s comment on the absence of credible evidence of the existence of terrorist organisations was correct at the time it was made. In the light of the facts revealed by Senator Murphy, this reply was misleading. There was evidence of the existence of organisations, even at the time that Senator Greenwood made his statements.
Last Thursday I told the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) that I would seek the consent of the Yugoslav Government to table the notes if he also agreed to my tabling the drafts for the Australian responses. The Yugoslav Government has given me permission to table its note and our response.
The Yugoslav Government was not referring to evidence admissible in a court of law against particular organisations which may be in breach of relevant provisions of the Crimes Act. The Yugoslav Government, as with the Australian people last year, was concerned with fact. Were there organised activities behind the various acts of violence which had been perpetrated in this country and in Yugoslavia itself? The simple answer to that, as Senator Murphy has shown so clearly, is that there were. Indeed, in his reply of last Wednesday, Senator Greenwood did not face up to this basic accusation. He sought refuge in the excessive legalism with which he has so consistently shrouded the truth. In his reply Senator Greenwood failed to mention or in any way refer to the present Attorney-General’s references to an organisation known as the United Croats of West Germany. There was no doubt that this organisation existed; no police or ASIO report ever questioned that. There was no doubt that its members were associated with violence. Police and ASIO reports confirm that. Then there is the allegation of the resurgence of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood, or a similar organisation. This was thought to have disbanded in about 1967. Senator Greenwood in his reply refers to one document - a report by the Commonwealth Police on 23rd November last stating that the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood had been revived. He asserts, in misguided defence, that he never saw this document, as if that were enough. He completely failed to face the clear evidence that 5 similar reports of 20th April 1972, 8th June 1972, 5th July 1972, 17th August 1972 and 12th September 1972, all prepared by the Commonwealth Police, had each referred to the possible resurgence of the old Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood. These are amongst the documents tabled. These are amongst the documents available to Senator Greenwood, as to every honourable member of both Houses. These are amongst the documents available to the Australian Government before it told the Yugoslav Government that at the time Senator Greenwood made his statement there was no credible evidence that any Croatian revolutionary terrorist organisation existed in Australia.
So here we have a continuing pattern of the Parliament being misled, the people being misled and a foreign government being misled. This is the real default, the real basis for censure. These are the charges which have to be answered - and the only men who can answer them are the members opposite, the ex-Ministers. What has a government of 4 months to answer for about the growth of terrorism in Australia? Nothing. What has a government of 23 years to answer for? Everything. These are the guilty men on trial. I forbear, and they will come to thank me for it, to put all of them where they should be - in the witness box of a royal commission, where they would be forced to answer once and for all why they allowed, knowingly allowed, the cancer to grow in our midst.
I turn from the wretchedness and the recriminations of the past. I am concerned only about Australia’s future. If one had to state a general theme for my Government’s program it would be the reduction of fear. It is our overriding aim. By our economic policies we are determined to remove the fear of unemployment; our social security program is designed to remove as far as humanly possible the fear of poverty and sickness; our foreign policies are aimed at reducing the fears and suspicions which have so hobbled Australian thinking and distorted Australian attitudes for generations. And we are determined that everybody living in Australia shall be free of fear of political violence, of political extortion, of threats and blackmail.
It has been asserted that actions taken by the Attorney-General before and after 15th March, were extraordinary and unprecedented. If they were so, it was because they concerned extraordinary and unprecedented developments in Australia. To Australia’s shame we faced the situation that an honoured guest, the Prime Minister of a friendly country, a country which we have recognised since 1918, when it was formed; a country with which there have been diplomatic relations since 1966 - was under threat of assassination. This threat was the high point in a pattern of organised political terrorism which had developed in Australia over the past 10 years and more. It has been suggested that the prudent course would have been to cancel Premier Bijedic’s visit. My Government was not prepared to allow political terrorism to achieve so shameful a triumph. Was it to be tolerated that Prime Minister Bijedic could visit all our neighbours in perfect safety but not Australia? Was it to be tolerated that his President Marshal Tito, could visit London or New York in perfect safety but that his Prime Minister could not be guaranteed safety in Australia? I would not have a bar of such a proposition. Accordingly I instructed the Attorney-General to take all measures he deemed necessary to guarantee the security and success of the visit. The Attorney-General was therefore a custodian, not just of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia but of the reputation of this country. Under such a heavy responsibility I believe he was entitled to take the actions he did to ensure that he had the full co-operation of Australia’a law enforcement and security organisations. In the event, they carried out their duties to the complete satisfaction of my Government. On this occasion there was complete co-operation between ASIO and the Commonwealth Police, between ASIO and my Department of
Foreign Affairs, between ASIO and the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and my own Department. I am bound to say that this cooperation was not always forthcoming in the past. The Attorney-General was justified in satisfying himself that he was receiving the full information and co-operation by which alone he could discharge the deep responsibility I had placed upon him.
As far back as 1964 the Department of External Affairs wished the Government to make strong and unequivocal condemnation of political terrorism. So did the present Leader of the Opposition as Minister for Immigration. The then Senator Gorton insisted that the statement be watered down because he feared adverse reaction from certain backbench members of the Liberal Party. Thus the guilty knowledge was shared at the highest levels by the previous Government. Leading members of that Government privately complained but publicly condoned. The terrorist organisations continued and so did their acts of terrorism - the bombings, th.e intimidation, the blackmail, the extortion. It has been a disgraceful chapter in the. history of Australia and that disgraceful chapter was written by members of the previous Government. The previous Government did not deal with the Parliament or the people with candour; it did not deal with the Yugoslav Government with correctness or candour. My Government is determined to call a halt. There is no place for political thuggery; there is no place for terrorism in Australia. Equally we are determined to remove any cause for unease or apprehension among the migrant communities. Certainly we will not shrink from the exercise of the full legal authority entrusted to us by the people; but we shall in no way use that authority to promote authoritarianism in Australia. We are not in the business of spreading fear; we are committed to removing its causes.
I address my words now in particular to the Croatian community. The Government will play its part in assisting that community and its genuine leaders to remove the few extremists who besmirch the decent and overwhelming majority, but the remedy also lies in the hands of the. community itself. Terrorism will wither on the vine if the community turns its back on the few malefactors in the midst. Victims of standover tactics, of blackmail and extortion will receive, the fullest support and protection from my Government in their resistance. I have never supported the proposition that migrants are in some way obliged to forget the affairs of their homelands - their ancestral homes. We do not require it of Greeks, we do not require it of Jews, we do not require it of Italians or Maltese, or even of the Irish; and we do not require it of Yugoslavs. But we cannot tolerate the use of Australia as a base, as a recruiting ground or as a source of finance for promoting terrorist activities within Australia or abroad.
The line between legitimate interest in the political affairs in one’s homeland on the one hand and political terrorism on the other is sharp and clear. It is the only line my Government intends to draw. While I fully recognise and endorse the right of migrants in Australia to maintain their links with, and their interest in, the affairs of their former countries, I have to insist that such interest cannot be exercised in such a way as to distress other Australians. I deplore in the strongest terms the commemoration in certain clubs in Australia of the regime of Ante Pavelic and the celebration of 10th April.
– That is today.
– What a supreme irony it is that this very day, 10th April, I should be defending my Attorney-General for cracking down on terrorism; that on this day he should be attacked for it - on the anniversary of the triumph of fascism in Yugoslavia. This day commemorates the temporary triumph of nazism, racism and anti-semitism in Yugoslavia. It is a matter of the deepest affront not only to the great majority of Yugoslavs in Australia and not only to our Jewish community but to everybody who fought in or had relatives fighting and dying in the war against Hitler and against fascism.
What would we say if a German club were to display portraits of Hitler and the swastika flag and to commemorate and celebrate the day Hitler became Chancellor as a community national day? Yet Pavelic was, in his sphere, as violent and cruel as Hitler himself. He was not, as honourable members opposite tend to think, just a good anti-communist. It was his men who assasinated King Alexander of Yugoslavia. He was among other things, the betrayer of King Peter who assumed his majority and represented the popular revulsion of the people throughout Yugoslavia against the Axis powers. What an affront that only last weekend the picture of this man
Pavelic should be displayed in places of honour beside that of the Queen - King Peter’s relative.
It is matter of deep distress to me that the necessary actions of my Government and its agencies should be the cause of uneasiness and apprehension amongst migrant communities. Nothing could be more alien to the spirit and desires of my Government. I am determined to allay these groundless fears and suspicions. In particular, I wish to remove any grounds for discrimination in matters of citizenship and employment against migrants or any section of any migrant community. There are to be no second class citizens in Australia under my Government. That is why the Government has decided to amend the Crimes Act to prevent the deportation of naturalised citizens and to repeal those sections of the Crimes Act which allow the deportation of members of declared organisations. In the meantime, I wish to make it quite clear that no Australian citizen will be deported, and that there will be no abridgment whatsoever of the rights of any Australian resident in the execution of deportation orders.
I repeat: My Government is determined to remove the cause of fear insofar as Government action can affect the conditions of human existence. In that aim we need the help and co-operation of all the people - the Australian born, the naturalised and the nonnaturalised. The previous Government did an immense disservice to Australia in hushing up the existence of terrorist activities in this country. Its greatest disservice was to the Croatian community itself for by its silence, indeed acquiescence, it allowed terrorism to take root. My Government and the Croatian community together will root this evil out.
– Is leave granted for the second document relating to representations to the Australian Government to be tabled? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On behalf of the Opposition I wish to move an amendment to the motion of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I move:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: a judicial inquiry of 3 judges be established to inquire into the following questions:
The Prime Minister’s speech was an extraordinary excuse for suspending the asking of questions. He is inordinately proud of his speaking ability, but he has no basis on which to be proud today after making that speech. I will deal specifically with only 3 points and I will cover the remainder of what the Prime Minister said as I speak. Firstly, the Prime Minister said that his Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) was justified in satisfying himself that he was receiving information. The Attorney-General has said, under questioning in the Senate, that he was not deprived of any information at all. Where is the justification for the raid upon ASIO offices in Melbourne or in Canberra, only supported by the Prime Minister on the ground of the Attorney-General satisfying himself that he was receiving information when on the Attorney-General’s own statement, volunteered in question time, he was not being deprived of any information?
The second point to make is that the Prime Minister said how ironic it was that on 10th April he should be defending his AttorneyGeneral for cracking down on terrorism. This demonstrates that the Prime Minister does not understand what this is all about. If the Attorney-General of this Government cracks down on terrorism according to the law and through the law, he will have the total support of this Opposition. That was the policy and the action of the previous Government. I say to the Prime Minister that he totally misunderstands, as has been demonstrated by that statement.
The third point is that the Prime Minister asked rhetorically what we would do if Germans displayed photographs of Hitler and the swastika to celebrate the day on which Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany. I can tell the Prime Minister what members of the Opposition would do. We would deplore it in the strongest possible way. We would use whatever resources of the law were available to us to condemn it and prosecute it if it were an offence. We would not put up with it. I say unequivocally and with great pride that those people who would take offence at such actions of Hitlerism deserve a place, in my Party, for that is the attitude of my Party. We condemn it. In my Party there is hardly any man who was of military age at the time who did not fight it and who would not be prepared to fight it again today. If this was supposed to be a snide way of appealing to the sensitivities and the great pride of the Jewish people who are Australian citizens, I say to the Prime Minister that nobody could have, greater pride in the contribution to Australia that the Jewish people have made and nobody would be more anxious to respond to the protection of their position as free citizens of this country, totally free from any vestiges of anti-semitism, than members of the Opposition.
Those points having been put out of the way, I now come to some other parts of this whole saga. The Prime Minister has asked this House to assert its prestige by passing a motion of support for the Attorney-General. Putting it in terms of this House asserting its prestige has some shallow appeal to him, no doubt. But is it the way to go about asking the House to assert its prestige by, for the first time in the history of this Parliament, controverting the forms of the House without the consent of the Opposition, only for the purpose of denying the Opposition the opportunity to question the Government? This is no way for this House to assert its prestige. We do not have to assert the prestige of this House. We are bound by the Constitution and we on this side do not like the Government’s departure from it. I think the Government will come to regret this day.
The statement on Croatian terrorism made in the Senate by Senator Murphy and here on his behalf by the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) has been answered by Senator Greenwood. Senator Greenwood has established that the Attorney-General started with a proposition which suited his political purposes and then attempted to prove it by a biased selection of material and suppression of other material. At the time of his statement Senator Murphy knew no more of the activities of individuals of Croat origin engaged in violence in Australia than Senator
Greenwood had known at the rising of the Parliament on 27tn October last year. Any information he now possesses which Senator Greenwood did not is the product of continuing investigations which were initiated by the former Government last year. Senator Murphy’s attack was simply this: Senator Greenwood said and repeated that there was no credible evidence of organisations of Croatian violence in Australia. Senator Murphy then assumes the truth of his own allegation and charges softness on right wing violence and indifference by 3 Attorneys-General. I do not believe that the Director-General of Security has said that Attorney-General Hughes and his 2 successors were indifferent although Senator Murphy has said that the DirectorGeneral did say it. The truth of that needs to be established to see whether the misstatement of truth was made by the Attorney-General or by the Director-General of Security. That is a matter of fact which can only be elicited by a judicial inquiry.
Senator Murphy assumes the truth of his allegation and charges softness on right wing violence. This is a castle built on hypothetical sand and if a question based on it were asked in this House you, Mr Speaker, would rule it out of order. The word ‘evidence’ is used in 2 different senses. Firstly we may reach a conclusion based on facts as they are known or represented and say: This is evidence irrespective of all the facts’. In other words, it is hearsay. Secondly, there is legal evidence by which the first law officer of the Commonwealth is bound - he especially is constrained to be bound by this - when the liberty and reputations of citizens are in jeopardy. If the Attorney-General is asked whether X is an organisation of terrorists committed to violence and he says yes without having the evidence which would prove it in a court, he is robbing people of civil liberties. This is much more than a mere play on words. It goes deeply into the tactics adopted by Senator Murphy and his hapless accomplice, the Prime Minister, in perpetrating an outrageous and false smear on Senator Greenwood.
There are organisations within Australia with membership which is Croatian exclusively. The cause of Croatian nationalism has burned in the hearts and minds of many for a long time and I have no doubt is one of the bonding forces in the very existence of these organisations. That feeling is mirrored in the Baltic, Ukrainian and Polish communities.
Who would say of organisations of those people that they are terrorist organisations? Who would condemn them?
– That is the difference.
– The honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) condemns them. In the Croatian community, there are men willing to display their sense of nationalism and hostility to Yugoslavia in ways which can lead to violence. They may join together with others in these enterprises. This is totally abhorrent. If they do this in Australia they must be prosecuted with the full vigour of the law and bear the consequences of their actions. This is the first point in any judicial inquiry - to ascertain the extent of Croatian terrorist activity in Australia. The emphasis placed by Senator Murphy on organisations, taken with his promises of new Federal police powers, must raise fears in many minds that he would attempt to outlaw organisations. It smacks of attempting to outlaw philosophies, opinions and thoughts. It is a threat to the freedom we have valued as perhaps the greatest quality in Australian life.
The effect of Government action and statements has been to erode unfairly the good name of an important and highly valued section of our migrant community. We need to put the whole thing back in perspective. We highly value the contribution made to Australia by most Croatian migrants. This would be a corollary of the first point raised for a judicial inquiry. Senator Murphy says that this Government is determined that terrorism in Australia will be resolutely stamped out*. The Opposition agrees, but adds that it must be done within the law and by the law. The rule of law protects us against the arbitrary use and abuse of power. The rule of law is still our unqualified right as Australians and must remain so. We need no McCarthyism of the Left in this country. The purpose of Senator Murphy and the Prime Minister is to abuse Senator Greenwood in particular and his predecessors the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) and Mr Hughes, and thereby stigmatise the former Government with indifference, even sympathy to Right wing violence. He has used all the resources of Government to that political end; he has shown cynical ruthlessness in Government unique in Australia’s history.
But Senator Murphy’s statement which held the promise of so much was remarkable as much for what was left out as put in. What was missing was the anticipated explanation of the infamous ASIO raids. We were led to believe that the Attorney-General’s statement would carry full justification for this incredible series of events. Senator Murphy, in answering questions said:
The whole matter of the visit to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters was in the context of the visit of the Yugoslav Prime Minister. It is probably not correct to say that that was the specific reason for the visit to the ASIO headquarters. The matter was tied up with the visit of tha Yugoslav Prime Minister and the statement I was to make in the Senate’.
But not a word about the visit to ASIO. There was no reference to the raids in the statement - no explanation, no justification. Attempts to get a clear picture of the events by persistent questioning have not been successful. A judicial inquiry would establish them. But I have pieced them together. Is it not an extreme thing that the Opposition needs to tell the story as it has come out rather than the Government? That, of course, points to another reason for a judicial inquiry. At about midnight on 15 th March after the Senate had risen the Attorney-General, accompanied by his Private Secretary and - as the Attorney-General described him - ‘a Mr Milte’, arrived at the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Canberra.
– By appointment.
– The Minister for the Capital Territory swallows that propaganda because he has read it somewhere but let us see what Senator Murphy said about it. Senator Murphy said, in answer to a question, that he thought his Private Secretary had rung to say he was coming. Where is the appointment in that? However that may be, clearly the Attorney-General had instructed the Regional Director, Mr Brown, to be there, giving him very short notice. Indeed, the poor chap was in bed, asleep. He was awakened and told to go and keep this appointment. No doubt the Attorney-General had some light conversation with him as befitted the hour and the circumstances, and then his eagle eye fell upon a piece of paper. It was a note prepared by an ASIO officer of a meeting on 2nd March. It was not even the original; it was a photocopy. This caused the Attorney-General to believe that drastic action was needed to preserve information.
He and the Prime Minister have persistently refused to offer any explanation at all of the initial decision to go to ASIO headquarters in Canberra at any time. They still refuse to do so. The Attorney-General has stated explicitly that neither the Regional Director nor the Director-General had refused to provide information which he had requested. If he thought that there may be information of the kind in the document, a simple request without the nocturnal drama would have produced it. Perhaps a Mr Milte induced this irrational behaviour. This raises the second point to be considered by a judicial inquiry - the reason and justification for the initial raid on the Canberra office.
At about 6 a.m. the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary requested the immediate use of a Royal Australian Air Force aeroplane for Senator Murphy. The Prime Minister was kept ignorant of this. One could not be made available immediately, and Senator Murphy travelled to Melbourne on a commercial flight. At about 7 a.m. that day a force of about 27 Commonwealth policemen arrived at the Melbourne headquarters of ASIO in St Kilda. Contrary to Senator Murphy’s constant assertions, it is my belief that watchmen at the ASIO headquarters are not Commonwealth policemen nor are any of that force normally on ASIO premises. There were 27 of them there that morning. The police achieved entry to the building. The means and the authority have not been disclosed. I believe that the inspector leading the raiding party had a telex paper giving him his instructions. I believe that the Commissioner of Police was not informed in advance just as the Prime Minister was not informed in advance. Whatever the paper was in the hands of the policeman, it should be tabled. The Attorney-General has merely said that the police went at his direction.
Apparently, already in the building was the Director-General of ASIO. This raises the corollary to the second point to be considered by a judicial inquiry - the justification for the actions preceding the Melbourne raid on ASIO. Once in the building the police sealed all safes for the purpose of preventing them being opened by the officers who normally would have worked on the papers contained in them. Officers of the organisation were refused access to the registry and filing system of the organisation. Persons moving within the building were accompanied by Common wealth police officers. As staff members of the organisation arrived at the building for the normal commencement of their day’s work they were directed by the Commonwealth police to an auditorium in the building which was used by the police as a holding area for these staff members. It amounted to a de facto state of arrest for some hours. The staff of ASIO was stoic in this abuse. The tape and seals brought by the Commonwealth police to seal the safes would not stick, so the ASIO officers provided them with selotape from the office stores.
At about 9 a.m. the Attorney-General arrived at the building, not only protected by 3 Commonwealth policemen, but accompanied by other persons not identified, including a Mr Milte. Only with the specific authority of the Attorney-General could any officer of ASIO open a safe or otherwise retrieve papers, and then only those papers demanded by the Attorney-General. An officer obtaining papers was accompanied by a police guard. The Attorney-General commanded that the file containing the original of the note of the meeting on 2nd March that he had discovered in Canberra be produced. It was produced just as soon as the tape on the safe was peeled off. Triumph! He had preserved evidence! Of what? That document has now been destroyed totally by the Prime Minister who declared it to be wrong. This raises the third point for a judicial inquiry - the nature of the authority of Senator Murphy in taking possession of information and treatment of ASIO staff concerned.
Today the Prime Minister tabled the terms and conditions of appointment of the DirectorGeneral of Security. Paragraph 4 subparagraph (d) says that the Director-General will ‘take reasonable and proper care of all property of the Commonwealth which from time to time is made available for the use of the Organisation’. I presume that this document was a piece of property which was to be taken care of. The Director-General is required to ‘keep secret all matters which come to his knowledge or into his possession by virtue of his office except insofar as any such matter may in accordance with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1956 … be communicated to another person’. But he had no say about this.
Soon after this chain of events, some sixth sense told the Attorney-General that morale could be important. So he ordered the staff of
ASIO together, addressed them and gave them a homily exhorting them to good behaviour and high morale. Then came dramatic reports of speeding cars. The raiding party ultimately dispersed and Senator Murphy left Melbourne with his seized possessions. So obsessed was he with his sense of the dramatic that, to avoid the enemy - it was reported to me - he arrived at the Trans-Australian Airlines terminal at Tullamarine airport as planned then dashed through the airport to depart on an Ansett aeroplane. We were next told that it was evidence of the conspiracy by public servants which justified the Melbourne raid. When that was declared wrong by the Prime Minister, the rest of the document suddenly was declassified by the AttorneyGeneral. From that point onward came the manipulation of the Press, Close sources were never lost for a helpful story. Initially it was put about that the Prime Minister knew and approved of the raid. Later reports suggested that the Prime Minister had not known and was concerned about the legality of the raid. There was competition between well informed sources. Curiously, the Prime Minister says that he did not know about the raid until the afternoon of 16th March. Most Australians had heard of it from newscasts hours before him. Was there a conspiracy in his own staff to withhold information from him? He did not know of the request for a VIP aircraft for the Attorney-General. Had Murphy’s forces penetrated the Whitlam organisation?
I cannot believe that the Director-General did not express concern to the Prime Minister when he saw him on 17th March and I cannot believe that the Director-General did not take steps to counter loss of morale of staff by communicating with them about it. I cannot believe that other officers of ASIO who were held would not have sought assurances from the Director-General that a complaint had in fact been made. The Attorney-General issued a non-statement that evening which said nothing not already known about the day’s events. The rest of his statement clearly implied that the raid was necessary to ensure that adequate means were taken for the safety of the Yugoslav Prime Minister. That was the first reason given. Meanwhile, Mr Whitlam said nothing. Today he made a virtue of his saying nothing and the Attorney-General’s saying nothing until the Parliament sat. I will come to whether or not that is the fact in a moment.
The Opposition made constant demands for authoritative explanation. It was led to believe that the matter related to national security of the life of the Yugoslav Prime Minister. The Opposition was never given direct responses from Senator Murphy. Instead it was given only obscure references to the issue. The classic example of saying nothing until the Parliament sat was a Press release on the AttorneyGeneral’s official statement paper written in terms of ‘discussions are understood to have taken place’ between the ASIO DirectorGeneral and Senator Murphy, ‘it is expected that Senator Murphy will table’, ‘it is known that Senator Murphy has impressed’ and Senator Murphy is eager to dispel’. This is the first time I have known of leaking on the record. But there is evidence of it in the Press Gallery.
Then we had the build-up of the Murphy scare syndrome. There were many reports of death threats, bomb threats and plots on the life of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia and on our own Prime Minister. Assembled in Canberra was the greatest security force in the history of Australia. It was not a proud time but it was certainly memorable. The noise and spectacle of a helicopter gunship over the capital’s streets will be not soon forgotten. The Prime Minister of Yugoslavia confined his visit to Canberra. He had limited social functions and spent most of his time in consultation with the members of the Yugoslav Embassy. He dined at the Lodge with a powerful oratorical accompaniment from the Australian Prime Minister to the interpreters and a handful of witnesses there assembled concerning the likely deportation of certain individuals. It was sensationally reported, as it was intended to be. Today the Prime Minister in his statement had to undo the harm done by that statement when he talked about deportation not occurring to Australian citizens or there being no abridgement of the rights of Australian residents. The visit of the Yugoslav Prime Minister came as a surprise to the majority of the Australian people. His life was said to be in danger but there would have been no inconvenience if he had not come. We have since learned that the Attorney-General was advised by his security advisers that the visit should be called off. It was not. Stories of death threats and bomb scares continued.
Throughout my public life I have been aware of death threats and bomb scares to myself and to other Ministers and to many people in public life. For a long period I was receiving a death threat every Wednesday and every Saturday from the same writer. I burned them upon receipt. Until recently at least the advice of the police was to avoid giving publicity so as not to encourage others. Few people know of death threats. They have to be assiduously followed up by the police but not in the blaze of sensational publicity. Never before has officialdom created such an atmosphere in this country. No-one should understate the seriousness of death threats and bomb scares, but this is the wrong way to handle them. There is a new Murphy mood - an atmosphere of threat. Australians do not want this atmosphere; it has been too often used in other places as a strategy to win tolerance for abuses of power. It surprised me to hear today the Prime Minister say that if this Government could be categorised as anything, it could be categorised as a Government committed to eliminating fear.
Ten days ago 68 Croatian homes were raided during the night in New South Wales. Thirteen people were charged; five for having explosives; a further 2 for illegal possession-
– Order! I think that this matter is sub judice.
– It is just a statement of fact, Mr Speaker. It will not relate to the issues.
– So long as you do not go into the details.
– No. Five people were charged with having explosives; a further 2 for illegal possession of firearms; one for having a starting-pistol; 5 for having stolen goods and one for assaulting police during the raid on her home. I think that what I have to say will not in any way prejudice the trial of the action. If you think it will, Mr Speaker, I will abide by your ruling. The headlines blazed; action photographs were taken. Arrests were made. That is a fact. But most Australians were deeply disturbed at this arbitrary display of Commonwealth police power. Many migrants remembered the 1930s. The police engaged in an exploration expedition. They had no specific information. The New South Wales police authorities quickly disclaimed responsibility and, curiously enough, they were closely followed in disclaiming responsibility by the Attorney-General himself.
The next distraction, of course, was to attempt to allege, through his bitter personal attack on Senator Greenwood, the scurrilous accusation that the previous Government was soft on Right wing terrorists. This was totally unfounded and is now apparent. Senator Murphy has not prosecuted any organisation or individual. He has proved nothing. The next desperate effort was the Public Service conspiracy, which could not be sustained. It was declared to be wrong by the Prime Minister within 48 hours of declaring it a conspiracy. Next came the alleged invasion of Yugoslavia. This was the second matter contained in the document. The Austrian newspaper ‘Die Presse’ of 25th August 1972 carried this report:
The Croatian terrorist movement ‘Ustasha’ want to send shortly their new commandos out of Australia into Yugoslavia and also plans a bomb attack on the 4th September at the Yugoslav embassy in Australia. Thus writes the Belgrade paper ‘Novosti’ reporting an article from an Australian ‘special reporter’. According to the reporter a secret gathering of the organisation was held on the 11th August in an Adventist’s church hall in Melbourne. The unsuccessful attack in West Bosnia was because the terrorists chose uncooperative contacts from within the population.
Who was the special reporter? Was this the invasion which was expected and referred to in the second part of the document? Where did the information in the report - that is, the document found by the Attorney-General - come from? Did it come from the Yugoslav authorities or from this special reporter? Who was consulted before the document was declassified? Who told the Attorney-General the invasion would not happen? So much for the distraction and so much for the cessation of question time in this House today.
When in 1949 Mr Chifley established ASIO he built in safeguards to prevent its being used for political purposes of the Government of the day. Until last month the Organisation has been free from political exploitation. Now it is under a cloud. ASIO has established close relations leading to the interchange of intelligence information with the security services of our allies and other countries in the Western world. For instance, in 1971 the United Kingdom expelled 105 members of the Soviet Embassy staff in the United Kingdom as persona non grata. The information which led to the expulsion no doubt owed much to exchanged information. Australia, just like any o:her country, would be risking its national security if it did not have such an organisation. In spite of a barrage of misleading and derogatory propaganda, ASIO has a reputation of being one of the best and most responsible security services in the world. Honourable members will have heard derogatory criticisms of ASIO which it has not been able to deny or affirm because if it affirms sometimes and does not affirm at other times, it gives information; if it denies sometimes and does not deny at other times it gives information, and so on. So ASIO has had to adopt this attitude of refusing to confirm or deny, as I did as AttorneyGeneral in this House. I know the formula well and I know the reasons for it.
I have heard people say: T know my telephone is being tapped because I can hear funny noises on it’. Now really, if there were an interception of a telephone call the last thing that would be permitted to be heard would be noises. I have heard people talk about ASIO documents floating around. Everybody knows the extent to which the AttorneyGeneral went. Apparently he did not see any ASIO documents lying around and, of course, the Intelligence Organisation is staffed by firstclass professional men whom you would be proud to call your friends for they are true Australian patriots and they are just as devoted enemies of the extreme Right as they are of the extreme Left.
The damage which the raid has caused to the standing of ASIO in the eyes of all other world intelligence services to receive their information cannot be measured. Inevitably it will have caused concern about the confidentiality of information provided in the past and could lead to a refusal to provide information in the future. This would deprive Australia of important knowledge which it is necessary to have in the maintenance of Australia’s national security. Almost from the commencement of this Labor Government reports were cropping up - some originating overseas - that the intelligence systems of friendly countries were concerned about the security of information in Australia. It was reported that Australia was likely to receive less intelligence exchange. These reports were disturbing and I asked the Prime Minister if they were true. He denied the truth of the reports, but the reports continued unabated. The concern grew further over the Prime Minister’s opportunist and politically motivated revelation of part of our security arrangements in Singapore.
In strategic appreciation there is no immediate external threat, but this does not mean that we should be seduced into easy comfort and quiescence. We must maintain our national security, which is a Government’s first national priority. Action by a government against that security is that government’s greatest crime. Agents are a fundamental source of information gathered to protect our security. Every western democracy has such a service. Every Western democracy owes a duty of preservation of the anonymity of the agents who serve it. The agents’ job is to penetrate groups about whom it is necessary for the state, for the security of the state, to have information. The information that they obtain now may not be the whole story, but it adds a very important piece to the jigsaw. Their safety is preserved by other services - so should it be by ASIO - but can an agent have this confidence if a political Minister, accompanied by executive police, can seize files? It is a curious irony that if agents cannot continue in their jobs because of the events that have happened, we could deprive ourselves of information about the alleged organisation of violence. It will take away one of our weapons to find out about them. The files seized have apparently been examined by other Labor Ministers and at least one private citizen. What trust in the security of critical and sensitive information will foreign agencies now place in ASIO? The issue comes down to this: What possible justification could Senator Murphy have had for raiding ASIO with a platoon of Commonwealth Police?
This raises the fourth term of reference - what alternative means were available to the Attorney-General to ascertain the facts? After 2 weeks of tortuous questioning in the Parliament, some Press leaks, and a build up of public concern, the Prime Minister deigned to give an excuse for the. ASIO raids. What he fails to do, and what the judicial inquiry must determine, is assess the effect on ASIO of the events of the 16th March and since. Within the terms of reference the judicial inquiry would be required to do this.
On the afternoon of 16th March, the day of the raid, the Prime Minister saw a note of a meeting between public servants which read in part:
The Department of Foreign Affairs made 2 points on the proposed statement. The first was that the statement should not be at variance with the interim reply given to Yugoslavia in response to the aidememoire presented to Australia following the Bosnian incident’ in 1972. . . . The AttorneyGeneral’s Department accepted the first point.
On 3rd April, nearly 3 weeks later, the Prime Minister was saying that this was the justification of Senator Murphy’s raids and that, on the face of it, it appeared to indicate a conspiracy of public servants to lie to the Parliament. In the first place the statement is ambiguous. It quite easily could have meant that there was not new material to warrant a statement at variance with the interim reply. In spite of the Prime Minister’s posturing, one cannot help feeling that was the conclusion reached by the meeting.
Secondly, why did it take so long to investigate, especially when this is the Government that can take a decision on our currency, vitally affecting us all, in half a hour on the telephone. We had, according to the Prime Minister, a conspiracy of public servants, and almost 3 weeks later the Prime Minister was still in the dark. It should have been determined in 10 minutes on the Friday morning, lt could have been determined on the night of the raids by the Attorney-General with a quick phone call to his Permanent Head. These obvious courses were rejected because of the conspiracy-fear syndrome which afflicted the Attorney-General. It was a nonsense. But what was the Prime Minister to do. He was presented with a fait accompli. He had to opt to save his Minister or kick the Public Service. He tried to keep it quiet - in contempt of the Parliament. Maximilian Walsh of the ‘Financial Review* wrote it before the Government even admitted it. The Prime Minister had known it since the day of the raid. Three weeks were required to find out that it was wrong. The fact is that there must be other reasons. The Attorney-General said he was getting all the information he asked for. He had the means available to discover the truth by proper arrangements.
The alleged conspiracy was launched by the Foreign Affairs Department - the Prime Minister’s own Department. Why not start there, with the Prime Minister, with a telephone call? He contacted the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary about an aeroplane. The alleged conspiracy was supported by the Attorney-General’s own Department. ASIO officers were mere accomplices in this conspiracy theory, as were the Commonwealth Police. Is that not ironic? Why use one part of the conspiracy, the Commonwealth Police, to raid another part of the conspiracy, ASIO? None of it was necessary if the purposes were as they would have us believe. The attitudes expressed by the Primo Minister and the Attorney-General to public servants in this issue are not altogether surprising. When members of the Australian Labor Party are in trouble they kick a public servant who has no voice to defend himself. That happened last year when the current Minister for Labour, who as a shadow Minister wanting to justify his prophecies of doom, accused the senior officer of the Department of Labour and National Service of - he said in his humour - cooking the books. The Minister boasted that he would sack the senior officer. He did. This was a senior public servant who had been a Permanent Head under me and for whom I had the greatest respect.
The Defence Minister, Mr Barnard, got into trouble and implied that Sir Arthur Tange was not telling the truth. This was in order to relieve himself of problems. We had Senator Murphy implying that his actions were taken because if he did not sneak up on ASIO and catch it unawares, ASIO would deliberately destroy data he should properly have. That was an extraordinary allegation to make. Even on concluding the inquiry, we were left believing that it was all a public servant’s fault, and in future the ALP would not tolerate public servants being so sloppy. The judicial inquiry must determine how much, or if at all, the Public Service can be blamed for the ASIO raid. We will not stand by and see our senior public servants picked off one by one with this sort of vilification to enable Labor Ministers to avoid facing embarrassing political situations.
The kindest interpretation that we can place on this situation is that the AttorneyGeneral showed atrocious judgment, that he was precipitous, authoritarian, hot-headed and uncaring about the results of his actions. By the kindest interpretation, then, the AttorneyGeneral is not fit to be in charge of our security forces and certainly not the expanded and increased police power he is trying to amass for himself. But the Attorney-General is an intelligent man. He would not be so stupid for so little reason- on the basis on one report without checking, and given its obvious ambiguity - to do what he did as he did. So we still need a motive for the havoc he has wreaked. Could it be that he was stimulated to this act by an erratic adviser with an over-developed sense of drama who promised him all sorts of mysteries in the ASIO files- someone who thought he knew the mysteries? He would have been prone to listen because the ALP has a developed tendency to believe its own propaganda.
There has been a vitriolic and totally unwarranted attack on the probity and competence of ASIO from sections of the ALP for more than a decade. It is quite likely that Senator Murphy, like the rest of them, had developed this acute paranoia by virtue of these very stories that the ALP had been promoting. The Prime Minister provided Senator Murphy with an example of behaviour. Presumably, had he not been found out, public servants would have had to take the rap individually or collectively for that episode too. I refer to the disclosures about the Singapore security to a restricted group of journalists which became known within a matter of hours. The most logical interpretation of these extraordinary and damaging actions is that they were motivated politically or that Senator Murphy’s judgment was seriously impaired. Whichever it was, he is shown to be a man not fit to hold the high office which he occupies.
The ASIO report of the 2nd March meeting interpreted in one way at best gave Senator Murphy an unsatisfactory excuse to grandstand at ASIO. It in no way gave him anything like a justification. The contempt the Labor Party has shown to the Parliament in answering questions on the ASIO raids and explaining their purpose and effects has led us to call for a judicial inquiry of 3 judges into the whole question. The judicial inquiry should call before it under oath all the persons involved in the matter, including the Director-General of Security, his officers and Commonwealth Police. The removal of consideration of this question from the political arena to an independent body should ensure an unprejudiced examination and result. It will enable us in the Parliament to return to a consideration of those very important problems of defence, inflation and economic management that are facing this nation.
The Prime Minister has rejected this motion to open the issue to the public. Not only is he showing a total rejection of his call for open government, not only is he showing his guilt about the incidents, but also he is treating with contempt the people of Australia who want to know and need to know. Only the guilty have to fear the truth. The Prime Minister had an opportunity to declare his innocence and he baulked at it.
-Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– I second the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of confidence in the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has moved an amendment to the Prime Minister’s motion and has called for a judicial inquiry. The first point upon which he hangs his request is: ‘Are there any active Croatian terrorist organisations in Australia and have they been responsible for violence?’ The right honourable gentleman is either playing with the House and the nation or has forgotten to confer with his colleagues, because on 3rd December 1969 his deputy, the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), who was then Minister for Immigration, wrote to the then Attorney-General and said:
I feel it necessary to bring to your attention my concern at the likely serious consequences if Croat nationals in Australia are permitted to continue unchecked their terrorist activities and outrages against representatives of the Yugoslav Government and authority generally in this country.
The honourable member went on to say:
I have reason to believe that the terrorists are endeavouring to create the impression among Yugoslav migrants in Australia that the Croatian extremists have the support of significant sections of Australian society and even the Government.
This is his own deputy. He continued:
The bombing attack last week on the Yugoslav Embassy in Canberra … the evidence of a deliberate attempt to fire the Immigration Offices at Barton on the evening of 1st December -
That could not possibly have been successful because those offices are too old, too whiteant ridden and too decrepit to burn anyway the bombing of the Yugoslav Consulate-General in Sydney earlier in the year are evidence of a pattern of extremist activity which should be capable of preventive measures by the law authorities.
This was a warning by the then Minister for Immigration to the then Attorney-General of the previous Government. The then Minister went on to say:
Apart from this immediate issue and the inevitable involvement of human life, 1 am moreover concerned with the likely effect upon our relations with Yugoslavia, especially in terms of our migration arrangements with that country, of continued incidents of this kind and the apparent inability of the law authorities to apprehend offenders.
– Who wrote that?
– This was written by the honourable member for Flinders, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition who was at that time Minister for Immigration. He went on to say:
The continued disquiet among the Yugoslav community generally in Australia must also have a deleterious effect upon their ability successfully to integrate in the Australian community which I have little doubt is the primary desire of the great majority of Yugoslavs in this country.
That was his concern, a concern that was shared by the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) who was at that time Minister for Foreign Affairs and who, in a letter addressed to the then AttorneyGeneral, pointed out that over the last few years there had been a number of incidents or attacks by extremist groups. The right honourable gentleman stated: the extremists themselves may by now have come to believe that they can act with impunity and that they can therefore, without risk to themselves, step up the level and frequency of violence.
This is an indictment of members of the previous Government who are now on the front bench of the Opposition. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition might very well have conferred with his own colleagues before posing this amendment. (Quorum formed).
The Leader of the Opposition, of course, then referred to the rule of law, that is, the law of his Government which sets oat that, under the provisions of the Crimes Act, Australian citizens could be deported despite the fact that they held citizenship. So much for his rule of law. It was a bad law and we will change it in defence of the unity and indivisibility of Australian citizens. There is no doubt from the information now available to us, and, indeed, information which was available to the previous Government, that Australia has only narrowly missed becoming the world headquarters for a counter-revolution. There is no doubt that this situation was accepted by the previous Government, as it seems to have held the view that any revolutionary violence planned here would have been exercised outside Australia and not within it. But I make the point - and it should be remembered - that violence is like a disease. One cannot contain it at will or direct its course.
We have had in this country - not overseas-! 70 acts of violence and we have a situation about which the Attorney-General and the Government were rightly concerned. Certainly this Government is concerned with violence from wherever it comes. We have a situation at the moment in which bombs in Sydney injured 18 people and fire bombs in Brisbane killed 15 people. Australians are concerned about this state of affairs. I might say that the concern was felt by some Ministers in the previous Government.
To me, as Minister for Immigration, it does not matter at all what the pretext is for violence: Violence in our society must always be condemned. The man in Australia who puts aside the ballot box and reaches for the bomb leaves the ranks of the politically concerned and becomes a criminal. So the bombings of Brisbane and Sydney are both criminal acts even though they might have been carried out as the result of different motivations. The Australian hurt by a bomb does not ask whether the bomb was a right wing bomb, a left wing bomb or just a plain racketeer’s bomb. He knows he is hurt and resents it. Material I am now studying covers some 415 people who have been associated with violence. Naturalised Australians account for 195 of these. Of 51 Australian citizens who came under notice first for violence, 11 are now reported to have died in violent circumstances^ - 8 shot in Yugoslavia last year, 2 others murdered in other European countries and one murdered in Australia. Four of these Australian citizens are understood to be currently serving gaol sentences overseas for alleged involvement in violence. A further 9 have charges pending against them before the courts in Australia. Information brought to my notice concerning another 37 Australian citizens, some of whom have convictions for violence, indicates that they are implicated in criminal extremist activities.
The Commonwealth Police has brought to the attention of my Department the names of a further 134 Australian citizens who are suspected of association with criminal extremism. Some of these have criminal convictions relating to acts of violence. I remind honourable members that Australian citizens are beyond the deportation provisions of the Migration Act. Amongst the 220 aliens under review are 9 persons who now have left Australia. Three of these are reported to be dead and 6 others are reported to be serving prison sentences overseas for alleged offences relating to criminal terrorism. Two are serving gaol sentences in Australia for serious offences. Another 17 have been charged in court for various offences and are awaiting trial. There are a further 25 aliens whose involvement in criminal extremism has been such that they are of significant interest to us. Several of them have previous convictions and information relating to them currently is under study. Information about 167 aliens indicates that they are involved in criminal extremism. These cases also are under examination. The list of 415 persons to which I have referred does not represent the total number of those whose histories in Australia are under review. I am informed that further cases are under investigation now and in due course may be referred to me for attention.
So, I report the facts to the House. Taken together, they must give rise to deep concern. They must also give rise to the question of how more than 200 people could gain our citizenship without question - if, indeed, that was the situation. We do know from the files that there was some dispute about whether citizenship should be granted. But, be that as it may, the situation is not healthy from our point of view. The facts speak for themselves. While the previous Government was chasing elderly peasants in the hills of Calabria for voting communist 20 years ago, it certainly ignored the violence of the Right; the facts given indicate this quite clearly. The Government and the people of Australia are implacably opposed to terrorism from any source - from the Right or the Left - and the Prime Minister has made that clear. There are no exceptions to this.
Equally we are determined that the many shall not be condemned for the actions of the few. There are in the Australian community today more than 140,000 people who were born in Yugoslavia, and the great majority of them are good, sound citizens and residents of this country. I remind the House that Yugoslavs have a long and honourable history of migration to Australia going back well over 100 years. They, even more than the community generally, have reason to condemn the acts of political terrorism which have taken place. Only a couple of days ago I received from a large Croatian organisation a statement of rejection of acts of violence from whatever source they might come. These good people are deserving of the fullest sym pathy and understanding of the Parliament of the nation.
I should like to refer to the small minority involved in criminal or terrorist activities and those who, sharing their views, may seek to come to Australia. I want to be quite clear on this point. Under the Migration Act, the Minister for Immigration has authority to exclude from Australia any persons who are not members of the Australian community. I shall exercise that authority to the full against people who advocate or engage in acts of criminal terrorism. Officers of the Department of Immigration here and overseas are under standing instructions in this matter and I have re-emphasised those instructions. However, no migrant screening process in the world can completely guard against the possibility that a person may be recruited into this type of activity after arriving in Australia. I am particularly concerned, therefore, about those people who are already here and who attempt to recruit young men to kill and to be killed in campaigns of violence and terror.
Under the Migration Act, I have the authority, as Minister, to order the deportation of aliens and immigrants in certain defined circumstances. But I want to make it plain that no Australian citizen can be required in any circumstances to leave his adopted country. Each case in relation to deportation can and will be looked at on its merits. I . am determined to do all in my power as Minister to keep political terrorists out of Australia and to apply the deportation provisions of the Migration Act to the fullest extent, consistent with our system of justice. The special reports branch of my Department will maintain the closest possible liaison with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Commonwealth Police and State law enforcement agencies. Any information will be brought to my notice and whatever action is necessary will be taken within the powers given to me, as Minister, by the Parliament. My Department neither has nor seeks its own police force. The special reports branch is not concerned only with offences by migrants. It is equally concerned with offences which affect the interests of migrants. When evidence of offences is obtained, the information is referred to the Commonwealth or State police for investigations and court proceedings in the usual way. Officers of this branch are neither police officers nor security officers. However, they do work closely with other agencies.
I warn those who may contemplate acts of violence to weigh fully the consequences of their actions. I offer them this choice, on behalf of the Australian Government: Live with us in peace or leave. Australia will not tolerate them; neither will it provide a haven for them. I repeat my earlier undertaking to do everything in my power to stop any more such people entering the country and I repeat my warning to those who are already here and who embark upon acts of violence and terrorism. They will have visited upon them the full rigour of the deportation provisions of the Migration Act, within the law. There is no blame or shame attaching to the great majority for the actions of the few. Just as the full sanction of the law will be applied to stop those who engage in terrorism, so too shall we apply the full sanction of the law for the protection of the innocent. I give this pledge on behalf of the Government of Australia: I pledge myself to justice - justice to the community, to the individual concerned and to the many thousands of good people who, with faith in us and in our country, have pledged their future with ours. The Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Government are unanimous in this dedication.
– I second the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), which seeks the appointment of a judicial inquiry of 3 judges to inquire into matters relating to Croatian activities in Australia and also the raids on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Firstly, I believe that the extraordinary motion brought forward by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in no way purifies or cleanses the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in respect of his actions. In fact its unusualness condemns him rather than exonerates him. Secondly, I am staggered by the statement of the Prime Minister in which he said that his Government was going to assert its own authority, asserting the unchallenged right of the majority of the. members of the House of Representatives, to take whatever action it thought fit. In other words, the Executive is going to overrule the Parliament; the Executive is going to overrule existing laws on the statute book. Australians, take note of this. I warn you that I have never heard such a dictatorial statement in this Parliament by a Minister, let alone a Prime Minister.
In the 4 weeks since the Attorney-General directed and took part in raids on offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation no real attempt has been made by the Government or the Prime Minister to explain why the raids took place. This Parliament and the people of Australia have been treated with contempt by the Government, and now only 3 speakers from each side are to be allowed to debate this question this afternoon. This House has been shamefully treated by the Prime Minister, who asserts his truthfulness and courtesy, yet does nothing to demonstrate the reality of those assertions.
We find it impossible to get the Prime Minister to answer questions and we find it impossible to get him properly to retract vigourous, vicious and hysterical accusations made, against honourable members on this side of the Parliament. Nothing has been revealed which could in any way justify the disastrous actions of the Attorney-General in raiding ASIO. To the contrary, what we have been told is that the justification relied upon by the Attorney-General - the report of a meeting - is false. We have been told that the grounds on which the Prime Minister based his shocking suggestion of a conspiracy by public servants - the same report - are false grounds. The Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral have blundered into this mess like bulls in a china shop. They have thrashed around without the slightest vestige of selfcontrol or responsibility, causing damage at every turn. Public servants have had their reputations blackened. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been seriously damaged, its standing eroded and its effectiveness undermined.
The Prime Minister has been asked over and over again why Senator Murphy visited the Canberra office of ASIO in the first place. Over and over again the Prime Minister has refused to answer this vital question, which holds the key to the whole sorry mess. It appears now that the only way to get at the truth of the whole affair is by means of a judicial inquiry. The Parliament itself, having failed because of the attitude of the Prime Minister to establish the truth, now must resort to an independent inquiry in an effort to uncover information which a Prime Minister with any respect for Parliament already would have given. The insidious and dangerous process of making unsubstantiated assertions without supporting evidence has discredited the Government’s whole approach to this matter.
The statement of the Attorney-General in the Senate was a mass of such assertions and allegations. This Government, by unsubstantiated assertion and by the whipping up of hysteria, has placed every Croatian migrant under a cloud of suspicion which will take a long time to remove. It is not a thing of which the Government can be proud. Is this part of the Government’s plan to destroy the Security Organisation? What other motives possibly could have justified the almost unbelievable actions of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General? A judicial inquiry offers the only hope of finding the answers to these questions. To my mind the most important thing, and a much more fundamental and important question than terrorists operating in Australia-
– What could be more important than that?
– This involves a paramount principle of which this Parliament must take full cognisance. A dangerous precedent stands to be established, and will be established if we do not prevent its acceptance, by the Attorney-General’s attempt to assert what he claims is his ministerial authority over Parliament. In this action he is supported by the Prime Minister. On 11th May 1789 President George Washington of the United States said:
Many things, which appear of little consequence of themselves and in the beginning, may have great and durable consequences from their having been established at the commencement of a new general government.
That is what we are faced with here today. The Attorney-General claims that he has ministerial authority to do what he did on the night and morning of 15th and 16th March when he went to the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Canberra and Melbourne, stood over ASIO staff and took possession of information which was the property of our Security Intelligence Organisation. It seems to me that unless he can cite directly the authority on which he relies to establish that he is an authorised person in terms of the Crimes Act in the situation he engineered when he raided ASIO, we are entitled to say that the Attorney-General has acted illegally and has placed himself above the laws of this Parliament.
If the Attorney-General cannot or will not show that he acted legally, we are entitled to say that he placed himself above the laws of this Parliament as set down in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act. That Act states in section 5 that the functions of the organisation are as follows:
Mr Speaker, this Parliament has passed a law which places ASIO under the control of the Director-General. The law passed by this Parliament did not place ASIO or its DirectorGeneral under the control of any Minister. The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General rely very heavily - in fact they appear to rely almost completely - on the terms and conditions of the Director-General’s appointment by the Governor-General to establish the legality of the Attorney-General’s incredible actions. They tell us that the terms and conditions make the Director-General subject to the directions of the Attorney-General. The terms and conditions do no such thing.
If the Attorney-General believed the DirectorGeneral to be guilty of misconduct, certain courses would be open to him as set out in the terms and conditions of appointment. He would have to suspend the Director-General and set up an inquiry. There is nothing whatsoever in the terms and conditions which could justify even remotely the AttorneyGeneral’s action in raiding ASIO in the way he did. There is nothing in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act to allow the Attorney-General to give directions to the Director-General, nor does it make the Director-General responsible to the AttorneyGeneral. In my view the Attorney-General has acted unlawfully and in defiance of a law passed by this Parliament in acting as he did.
If the Prime Minister is suggesting that the Director-General is guilty of misconduct in the sense of paragraph 8 of section 7 of the terms and conditions, why has not the DirectorGeneral been suspended to comply with the only course open to the Attorney-General in these circumstances? Parliament, the supreme authority, placed the administration of ASIO outside the scope of ministerial responsibility. I have seen it suggested in the Press and elsewhere that it is simply inconceivable that a Commonwealth statutory authority is not responsible to a Minister. But it is conceivable in this case because Parliament made it so. It is not good enough merely to say that it is inconceivable that a statutory body such as ASIO is not responsible to a Minister or under the control of a Minister.
Control means domination or command and the Parliament has specifically placed ASIO under the control - the domination or command - not of a Minister but of its DirectorGeneral. If the Executive, which I say has placed itself above the Parliament in this matter, says that a law is inadequate or inappropriate, it must propose to Parliament that the law be changed. Neither the Cabinet nor the Prime Minister has power to give any individual Minister authority to override the provisions of a Commonwealth Act. The AttorneyGeneral may be responsible for the administration of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act, but he cannot take upon himself any power or authority to administer ASIO other than in strict conformity with the Act under which ASIO was established.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is not a part of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The Attorney-General cannot administer it as he would have power or authority to administer his own Department. Parliament itself determined the functions of ASIO and neither the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General nor anyone else can act in any way which contravenes these functions. Parliament decided that the Director-General of ASIO should not be directly responsible to a Minister and thereby subject to political control or interference. If a situation arose in which the AttorneyGeneral believed that the Director-General was not properly fulfilling his duties and exercising his functions under the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act according to the terms and conditions of appointment he would be dismissed. But the Attorney-General has no right whatsoever to go to ASIO and take information from it. Certainly he cannot resort to the melodramatic midnight raiding of ASIO and the direction of swarms of Commonwealth police to seal safes and containers. This is a most important matter involving the authority of this Parliament. I commend it to the careful- attention of honourable members.
Throughout this matter this Parliament and the people of Australia have, been badly treated by the Prime Minister, by the AttorneyGeneral and by the Government. The Parliament aud the people are entitled to know the full facts of this whole astonishing affair which has caused widespread and wellfounded concern and disquiet in the Australian community. What is at stake is the effectiveness, perhaps even the survival, of our independent Security Organisation. I can call on no less an authority than the Government’s main instrument of public relations in the election campaign, the ‘Australian’, which said this week:
There must be a royal commission or at the very least an independent judicial inquiry, into the entire affair.
That newspaper and the Australian people are sick to death of the contempt with which the Parliament and the nation have been treated by the Prime Minister and the Government. This Parliament and the people of Australia are entitled now to a full and proper explanation of the Government’s actions and those of its Attorney-General. Anything less is unacceptable.
– The Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) has priorities that are quite different from mine and quite different from those of this Government. He deliberately and expressly spells out that in his scale of values terrorist activities in this country do not rate very high. We heard him say it here today. I heard him say it here today clearly, and I put it to him in the middle of his speech- (Opposition members interjecting) -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! Interjections are disorderly and I ask honourable members to respect the Standing Orders of the House.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order.
– What is your point of order?
– I have been misrepresented by the Minister. I said that what has highest priority, higher even than terrorism in this country, is the authority of Parliament.
– That is not a point of order.
– The Leader of the Country Party said that this Parliament was supreme, and in attempting to support that proposition - no-one would argue against it - he sought to make ASIO - supreme over the principal law officer of the Australian Government. He cannot have it both ways. He said in one breath that this Parliament is supreme. With that I agree. Then he criticised the principal law officer of this Commonwealth, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Government in the Senate, for seeking to administer the laws so as to unearth these terrorist activities that the right honourable member rates so lowly. He put it that there is no authority for the Attorney-General to do what he did - to give directions. May I direct his attention to section 6 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act, a terribly short Act and one which in my opinion is greatly in need of reform. It does on the face of it appear to make ASIO a state within a state, a law unto itself. Previous AttorneysGeneral have apparently never looked at it. In section 6 it states that the DirectorGeneral of Security shall be appointed by the Governor-General always on the advice of the Government. It then goes on to state:
Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, the Director-General shall hold office on such terms and conditions as the Governor-General determines.
Certain papers were offered a week or so ago to the Opposition. The Opposition declined the offer. The papers were tabled here today. It is worthy to read them out. Under the definition of misconduct where it occurs on the part of the Director-General we find these words in paragraph 7:
Without limiting its generality the word ‘misconduct’ includes any failure on the part of the DirectorGeneral to comply with the provisions of the Act or any of the terms and conditions set out in this determination or any lawful direction given by the Attorney-General regarding the Organisation.
Now, cop that. It is worthy that the people of Australia know what the Opposition is trying to say. May I also come back to the matter that has been sidestepped so clumsily. It is all the Opposition has to go on. I refer to the question of terrorism. Let us have a look at the acts of terrorism that have occurred. The Opposition seems to ignore the paper that was tabled by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) today. It is not prepared to read it. I will. It gives a record of incidents involving terrorism. In July 1963 Croatian extremists from
Australia entered the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the stated purpose of waging a guerrilla campaign against the regime. I will not go through all of the incidents because some of them are concerned with back yard assaults and things of that sort. On 7lh May 1964 a bomb explosion occurred in John Street, Petersham in New South Wales. In January 1965 threats were made to the Mayor of Cooma. In November 1965 4 Serbs were stabbed in the Dalmatian Cafe. In October 1966 there was a case of attempted murder. A parcel bomb incident occurred in November 1966. In January 1967 a bomb exploded on the first floor patio of the Yugoslav Consulate-General at Double Bay. In December 1967 a boy had his hand damaged by a pen bomb. I am sure honourable members will remember that incident. The pen exploded in his hand at a function. In December 1967 there was an incident involving gelignite. In November 1968 there was a demonstration with great violence, and in March 1969 murder. In June 1969 an explosive device was detonated at the residence of the Yugoslav Consulate-General - bombs again! November 1969, bombs again! An explosive device was detonated in the compound at the rear of the Yugoslav Embassy. January 1970, bombs again! On 22nd February 1970 death threats were made to persons associated with the production of a radio program for playing Yugoslav music. They succeeded, because the music was discontinued. One has to bear in mind that when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) spoke he tried to mock the Attorney-General’s efforts to stop this course of conduct.
– That is not so.
– I was in the House. Were you not here? Was it not mockery? On 21st October 1970, bombs again! Later that year murder was committed at Geelong following a political argument. In December 1970 an incident occurred involving guns and wounding. Firearms were used and 2 Serbs were wounded at Talbingo. On 21st January 1971 the Adria Travel Agency received threats to bomb its premises unless the proprietor removed from his window some advertising material. In January 1971 letters threatening to bomb were written. On 11th February 1971 threatening phone calls were made to the Consul-General of Yugoslavia stating that he would be bombed. In May 1971 there were more threats to bomb; in June 1971, more threats to bomb. In July 1971 St
George’s Free Serbian Orthodox Church, Si Albans, was extensively damaged by a bomb. On 12th September 1971 St Sava’s Free Serbian Orthodox Church in Carlton, Victoria, was burnt - arson. On 23rd November 1971 in the early hours of the morning a bomb exploded outside the Adriatic Trade and Travel Centre in George Street, Sydney, one of Australia’s leading capital cities, if honourable members opposite do not know it. In November 1971 an anti Yugoslav demonstration resulted in a minor matter - stealing a flag. In November 1971 bomb threats were made again. In December 1971 the Hub Theatre at Newtown in New South Wales, which was screening a Yugoslav film praising the partisans of World War II, was bombed. On 11th January 1972 the statue of General Mihailovic in Canberra was bombed. A second and larger bomb failed to go off. On 27th January 1972, a bomb again. Another bomb threat was made to the Yugoslav ConsulateGeneral in Melbourne. On 14th February 1972 shots were fired and a number of bullet marks were found on the building of the Yugoslav Consulate in Perth. On 6th April 1972, bombs again! This time it was outside the house of a Yugoslav, Marijan Jurjevic. 24th May 1972 saw the beginnings of the incursion - call it a small invasion if you like - of people from this country into Yugoslavia again, the second time around, and we have been told since then about the other ones. In July 1972 there was the actual incursion by 9 Croats who had previously lived in Australia, 6 of whom were naturalised.
– You have not mentioned the attacks-
– I am trying to make you aware of what this Government is trying to stop - the sort of thing that your Government encouraged and allowed to happen. On 7th September 1972 there was an acid attack. Even members of the Country Party might be interested in an acid attack. On 16th September 1972 there were bombs again at the General Trade and Tourist Agency. On the same date, 16th September 1972, there were bombs again in the vicinity of the Adria Travel Agency, George Street, Sydney. In September 1972 there were bombing attempts and also threats to bomb.
These things are known. They were disclosed in the 2,000-odd pages of documents which were tabled in the Senate and which I tabled in this House on behalf of the Attorney-
General, together with the summary of those documents. As I read the debates in the Senate there was not one word of criticism of the summary. I do not have time to go right through all the documents now; they appear from page 708 onwards in the Hansard record. As I read the Senate debate, they were not in dispute. No honourable senator criticised them. Accusations of selectivity have been directed elsewhere, but I invite honourable members to read the summary of the documents. It contains a tale of violence, terror, threats, intimidation and extortion by this extreme minority among the Croatian community in Australia. The Croatian community cries out as much as anyone else to have it stopped. Even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), as we know from the correspondence, expressed his concern about it in the past, as did the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon); but the government of the day did nothing.
In the few minutes remaining to me I turn to this red herring - this side issue - which members of the Opposition parties have raised to try to distract people from what the Government is attempting to do to stamp out terrorism. They spoke about parliamentary control over ASIO. I have referred to the Act. It is a small Act. On the face of it, it is not the sort of legislation that I should like to see introduced. It creates, on the face of it, an organisation which is a law unto itself. Even with the full credit that one can give to the officers of ASIO, I say that any organisation which is above the law in the way ASIO appears to be above the law until one looks at the terms and conditions of employment of its Director-General, must make mistakes. As a member of this House I know from personal experience of occasions when gross mistakes have been made. Every honourable member on the Government side has had this experience when in Opposition. I cannot believe that honourable members who are now in Opposition and who were once in government have not had similar experience of complaints about ASIO reports which there was no way of challenging.
I know of a case - 1 will not name the gentleman concerned, but his wife would be known to many honourable members opposite as well as to many Government supporters - in which over a long period a man was refused naturalisation by the previous Government. I went to see the honourable member for Flinders when he was Minister for
Immigration and sought the reasons why this man had been refused naturalisation. By a process of elimination only one ground remained, namely, an adverse security report on the man. I followed it through and could not get anywhere. It was a blank wall to me, yet it was a terrible tragedy for the family concerned. The man did not have much understanding of English. He was a Ukrainian. I got a Ukrainian-speaking man from the Australian National University, who is above reproach, to sit in with me while I discussed the position with the man. We spent hours with him. In the opinion of the Ukranianspeaking Australian, it was a joke that this man could be regarded as a security risk. The whole matter was a mistake - the sort of mistake which the Prime Minister discovered in the minute that has been referred to in this debate. To the credit of the present Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), this mistake has been corrected and the man will be naturalised. When he is naturalised, I will be proud to go to the naturalisation ceremony in Canberra and shake his hand, because he was done a terrible wrong.
In the time remaining to me I refer to the mistake - the error, if honourable members prefer that word - that was discovered in the minute prepared by the ASIO officer concerning the report from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
– The minutes of the meeting of 2nd March?
– Yes. Errors such as this can happen out of the blue, but is it not more likely that they can occur in a way which reflects a pattern?
– What was the mistake?
– The honourable member does not know that it was a mistake. Of course he does not. When an organisation is required to operate in secrecy, mistakes of this sort will occur. That is why it is the Government’s policy to make ASIO accountable to the public interest. It will do this by way of reforms. An administrative court of appeals will review administrative decisions and will review, at the instance of any adversely affected citizen or migrant, any decision alleged to have been made on security grounds. The Government will lay down regulations, which do not exist at the moment, governing the conduct of members of ASIO and other security organisations. The court will hear, determine and report to Parliament on any breach of those regulations.
In conclusion I say that, if the man in the street outside is listening to this debate, I have no doubt that if he is asked who should run this country, ASIO or the Australian Government, he will side with the Australian Government.
– If the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) really believed as he so glibly claimed today, that the establishment of a judicial inquiry would remove what he has called the last vestige of respect that remains for the former Government, this House knows full well that the honourable gentleman would be totally unable to resist that temptation. His advocacy of so absurd a proposition is, in fact, proof positive of the pathetic nature of his attempt to discharge the burden which he sought to discharge in the course of this debate. If the case put forward by the Prime Minister is the best which he, as a Queen’s Counsel, can put together, then no honourable gentleman on either side of the House would be foolish enough ever to seek to retain his services in a legal capacity.
I say, in quite deliberate terms, that the Prime Minister and his 2 colleagues in this debate have damned the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) with faint praise and irrelevancy. One can only wonder whether they were, in fact, seeking to save the AttorneyGeneral or to desert him in his hour of greatest need. The Attorney-General’s appreciation of his own need was such that he is known to have sought a face-saving deal on this issue in the last days of last week, during the events leading to his censure in the Senate. I indicate to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) that if the irrelevancy of the Prime Minister in this debate was exceeded at all it was exceeded by the contribution which the honourable gentleman made. I say without any sense of real offence to the Minister for Immigration that he seemed more at pains to defend his own actions which have led to such hysteria in the migrant community than to defend the Attorney-General in another place.
No government can have the confidence and trust of a nation when it is prepared to indulge in the intrigue and duplicity of the last month over what we are now asked to believe was a simple misunderstanding. The
Attorney-General’s action and statements concerning the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation have amounted to a campaign of denigration and villification of the former Government, its Attorney-General and ASIO. It has been a campaign based on a tissue of assertions, selective quotations and personal abuse, circumscribed by a carefully and deliberately contrived state of hysteria. It has been a campaign manipulated by one man, the Attorney-General, initially without the knowledge or authority of the Government and subsequently, with only an uneasy form of tacit approval. It has been a campaign which has clearly jeopardised the future operations of security organisations in this country and which has raised directly the spectre of political control over those security services.
On 27th March the Attorney-General brought down a major statement in the Senate. That statement purported to be a detailed disclosure of terrorist activities within Australia - a disclosure of conclusive evidence of the existence of persons and organisations whom the Government could prosecute - and a full explanation in justification of the AttorneyGeneral’s unprecedented actions in carrying out raids on ASIO. It is now a matter of record that it was nothing of the sort. The Attorney-General has alleged that there is incontestable and overwhelming evidence of the existence of Croatian terrorist and revolutionary organisations. Of necessity this relates to evidence obtained by him and presumably specified in the statement of 27th March. It follows that, while he may direct that action be taken to procure further evidence, the evidence which he had on or before 27th March was assumed to be sufficient to institute prosecutions and proceedings against those organisations which the Attorney-General so specified.
The whole crux of the Attorney-General’s thesis has been that there are organisations which are undertaking terrorist activities and he has asserted that political terrorism cannot be characterised by the unco-ordinated actions of Croatian extremists. Those organisations have been traduced by the AttorneyGeneral, yet his failure to take positive action - or any action at all - reveals the case for what it is, a case lacking credible evidence on which prosecutions can be launched. At this stage the Attorney-General has not acted and any reasonable and logical deduction can conclude only that Senator Murphy is culpable for his failure to act or that he is culpable because he has indicted those organisations without having the necessary evidence. The Opposition believes that the statement was designed deliberately to mislead the public rather than to catalogue the evidence which Senator Murphy claims to have obtained. It was a disingenuous statement characterised by its sophistry and speciousness. It was a clear example of a lawyer’s arguing a partial brief contrary to all the responsibilities and ethics pertaining to the position of this country’s first law officer. Surely the Attorney-General is a person of whom it should always be said that he ought to tell the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth. But on this occasion the whole truth has yet to emerge and will only come forward if we succeed in the establishment of a judicial inquiry.
It has long been the objective of elements within the Australian Labor Party to destroy ASIO. Just how great that pressure is can be concluded from the fact that there was a tied vote at the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference on a motion to abolish ASIO. That resolution was not carried and we are now confronted with foreshadowed legislative moves to place that Organisation under rigorous ministerial control. I believe the implications of this are serious. A political intelligence unit operating as a direct creature of party politics is alien to the underlying precepts and principles on which our society has developed. With one recent action the Attorney-General has placed the effectiveness of that essential security service in great jeopardy. ASIO’s standing in the eyes of allied secret services has been irretrievably impaired and its prospects of maintaining the pre-existing flow of information from those services have been severely diminished, as the Attorney-General himself so well knows. In addition, the nature of that information is now likely to be restricted to that information the subsequent release of which could have no adverse effects.
The impact of the Attorney-General’s actions has substantially lowered the morale of ASIO’s staff and compromised many of the essential undercover sources on which it relies for vital information. Of course, this is not to mention the integrity and reputation of the Director-General which have been called into question by the Attorney-General’s public vote of no confidence. In spite of the many serious consequences of ASIO’s treatment and the unprecedented nature of the AttorneyGeneral’s actions, a wall of silence has been constructed not simply in this national Parliament but throughout the Australian nation. The statement of 27th March omits, as you know full well, Mr Speaker, any conclusive explanation of the actions of the AttorneyGeneral. There are a number of fundamental questions the Government has failed to answer contrary to any suggestion, glib as it might have been pre-election, of the concept of open government. One wonders what the Government has to fear in giving factual answers to questions which have been properly put down by members of the Opposition. Not only have there been glaring omissions from the Attorney-General’s statement but it contrived to give the impression that the previous Government was indifferent or myopic in relation to terrorist activities. This House is well aware that successive governments pursued a policy that Australia would not allow its territory to be used as a base for terrorist activities overseas and under which persons who committed acts of violence, whether through political or criminal intent, would be and were prosecuted. I, as did other Ministers of the former Government, expressed concern that all possible measures should be undertaken to counter any terrorist activities in this country. It is a demonstrable truth that previous governments were concerned and did take action. That, of course, is a matter of record which the present Government so conveniently seeks to ignore.
The former Government applied constant pressure on law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations made by the Yugoslav Government and by various groups in Australia. I refer to a report to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department as recently as 19th October last year in which the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Police force stated:
All such actions have been scrupulously inves tigated but to date no viable evidence at all has been uncovered to support the contention that Croatian terrorists have been trained in Australia.
That is now a matter of public record. The present Attorney-General throughout this affaire celebre has refused to answer questions which the Australian public require to be answered. In relation to his words on ASIO he has stated:
I was not refused any information.
He thereby effectively removes any valid reason for his raids. Furthermore, there can be no evidence upon which to describe his actions euphemistically as visits. It is a fact that the Canberra head of ASIO was without warning detained in the middle of the night and interrogated. It is also a fact that the Attorney-General raided ASIO headquarters accompanied by 27 Commonwealth police^ men. During that raid safes were sealed, staff forcibly detained, files searched and documents taken. There can be no question in this Parliament of calling that raid a visit. Senator Murphy stated:
I did not inform the Director-General before I went to ASIO headquarters.
Indeed, elaborate precautions had been taken to ensure that no communication was made between the. Canberra and Melbourne ASIO headquarters which may have foreshadowed the Attorney-General’s intentions. Furthermore, the Attorney-General has not yet provided an acceptable explanation for his actions. He has said only:
I have also said that I found information-
This was a reference to his Canberra raid - which caused me to believe that it was necessary to take the action which I took.
By his own admission it had little relevance even to the visit of the Yugoslav Prime Minister, for he said later:
Et is probably not correct to say that that was the specific reason for my visit to ASIO headquarters.
The Government asked the public to believe that there was a conspiracy either within ASIO or among senior public servants whose discussion on the question of security was subject to the report by ASIO subsequently seized by the Attorney-General and now revealed by the Prime Minister to have been a wrong report. Not the least of the questions which remain unanswered concerns the hysteria which the Government endeavoured to create during the visit of the Yugoslav Prime Minister and the details of this are so well known to this House as not to require elaboration here. It was a massive security operation without precedent in the. history of this country.
I turn finally to comments made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) because he has been at great pains to clear his own name and the actions in which he has been concerned. It is true to say that the migrant community, as a group, is now fearful. The Government has cast a slur on the total migrant community.
By its actions the Government has been divisive in this community. It has sought to set migrant against non-migrant, Yugoslav against non- Yugoslav and Croat against nonCroat. It has surveyed the concept and the philosophy of guilt by association. That concept does not lie very easily with the concept of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) of the family of the nation. Suggestions in this Parliament or outside if of 50 or 300 people about to be deported simply add to the sense of hysteria which the Government has sought to create. There is no doubt that there is an overriding and overwhelming need for a judicial inquiry to seek to uncover the facts which the Government has concealed by a process of deceit in this Parliament and outside it. I believe that need is unquestioned. There is no point in blaming ASIO or the Public Service. The full facts must be the subject of total disclosure in this Parliament. The honesty and integrity of the Government remains very much a matter at issue while those facts are hidden, as they are at the present time. I strongly support the move by the Opposition Parties for a total investigation by judicial means.
– I call the honourable member for Mackellar.
- Mr Speaker–
– I move:
– This is a shame - a total shame -Mr Speaker. The call was given to my colleague.
– Order! There can be no debate.
– I move:
– Order! The motion before the Chair is that the question be now put.
– Mr Speaker–
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The motion before the Chair is that the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Snedden’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . ..11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Whitlam’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority .. 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27 March (vide page 725), on the following paper presented by Mr Enderby:
Croatian Terrorism - Ministerial Statement, 27 March 1973- and on motion by Mr Daly:
That the House take note of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent me moving that in accordance with standing order 359 a message be sent to the Senate requesting that the Senate give leave to the AttorneyGeneral to attend this House for examination.
I move this motion because of the serious implications and the danger to civil liberties which are implicit in the courses that the Government has already embarked on and in the words used in this House by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) today. It seems to me that the Government has recently embarked upon a path dangerous to the liberties we have accepted in Australia for years and each day that has passed it has advanced further along this path on the pretext of protecting Australian liberties. The danger is the assumption that merely asserting something, which cannot be proved or which is not sought to be proved, is sufficient to establish the truth of a proposition and is sufficient, it is alleged, in some cases to justify punishment and, in all cases, to justify the public condemnation of individuals or organisations against whom no legal proceedings have been brought. The underlying thought in this approach is that because we abhor and are disgusted by particular actions, that is sufficient ground for abandoning the protection which the law of the land extends to all citizens, even when they do things which we abhor, that protection being that they cannot be punished unless they are charged, proceeded against and convicted in an Australian court of law.
To abandon that principle and to assert that a man or an organisation can be charged and convicted and, indeed, can be punished without that procedure being passed through, is one of the most dangerous attacks on civil liberties that I have seen in the time that I have been in Parliament. If a group of people in Australia were to form a club, were to show a swastika flag, or were to wear storm troop uniforms we would, all of us, be sickened and disgusted. But unless they broke the law as the law stands we would not take action against them and we would not seekto punish them, because if we did do that we would be destroying that concept of freedom and that concept of the rule of law which lead us to fight Hitler in the first place. This is the danger I see in the approach being made today by the Prime Minister.
The previous Government has been accused of not taking action against persons and organisations whom the Prime Minister apparently thinks to have committed some crime. That accusation against a previous Government must stand or fall on the truth of 2 assertions, the first being that the previous Government should have acted without legal sanction, without prosecution, without getting a conviction in a court of law. The second proposition can only be that the previous Government should have sought to obtain convictions with the evidence available to it. Let us examine that second assertion first. If it is asserted that the previous Government should have taken action on the evidence then available to it, it is equally true now that the present Government should take action on the evidence it said was sufficient to enable action to be taken previously. If it does not take such action it is clearly agreeing that there was not sufficient evidence for a conviction; it is clearly agreeing that there was not sufficient evidence for even a charge and it is therefore agreeing with and not attacking the previous Government for not taking such action on such a lack of evidence.
If the Government’s second assertion is to be that we should take action whether we can bring a charge, whether we can get a conviction or not, this is really a most serious approach and I believe that we are entitled, having heard that from the Prime Minister in this House, to call before us the senior law officer of the Government to inquire of him whether he in fact as a lawyer and the senior law officer agrees with the proposition that people should be punished, held up to public ridicule, their names made available without any evidence against them sufficient to obtain a conviction in a court of law. We need to know this because if that is in fact to be asserted by the senior law officer in accordance with what the Prime Minister suggested ought to happen, there should be no lawyer on the other side of the House and no man on the other side of the House concerned with civil liberties who ought not to hang his head in shame, if I may use that word, sir.
If on the other hand we are to be told by the senior law officer of the Crown, as we should be told if it is true, that he agrees there is not sufficient evidence in which to bring a charge, then all the attack made by the Prime Minister this afternoon falls completely to the ground and it is shown instead for what it is - an attempt to divert attention from the damaging attack on national security which his Attorney-General made; to divert attention from that by making unsustainable and false accusations against the previous Government. That is not the only reason why I suggest we should follow the course laid down under standing order 359. This whole affair has been a sort of continuing story of Peyton Place’ - a little bit brought out now; a little bit brought out later; some new accusation, made mostly on television.
I believe that this House - again in protection of civil liberties - ought to inquire a little more fully into just what sort of star chamber procedure was followed when a so-called inquiry was made into a so-called conspiracy by senior public servants. The Public Service Act lays down procedures by which those who are thought to have behaved wrongly can be examined. Those procedures on this occasion apparently were not followed. Instead, proceedings were taken in secret and again relying, so far as we are told, on the evidence of interested parties - that is to say, on the evidence of heads of departments whose officials were accused of conspiracy. We need to examine the Attorney-General and to get his views on the evidence applicable on the question of why it was necessary to have an inquiry at all. It may be that he could convince us that it was necessary and maybe he can show us something that has not come out yet. But if the report from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation member at that committee meeting was true - and we have been told it was false - why does that suggest evidence of conspiracy amongst public servants? Were they not meeting to examine, in anticipation of being asked to help Senator Murphy make a statement, what advice they should give? Has it been shown or even asserted that at that meeting they had before them some facts, some evidence which required a different answer from that given previously? I have not heard that asserted. All I have heard is the statement that because they met, presumably examined what was on the table before them, said that as a result of that examination they should not give anything different to what they gave before, that is evidence of a conspiracy. This ought not to be enough and ought not to be a charge levelled even for a while against public servants who cannot defend themselves.
Above all we need to inquire into the question of why one man - one ASIO representative^ - has been made a scapegoat for this affair. This again is a man who cannot defend himself. Let us ask the Attorney-General when he comes before us whether this man has been treated in such a way because the laws relating to public service inquiry do not apply to ASIO personnel and therefore he would not have the same right of protest as any other public servant who attended that meeting would have. This is a suspicion which must enter into anybody’s mind in trying to pick his way through this labyrinthine affair. I feel that in recent weeks we have, seen something approaching-
-Order! The right honourable member’s time has expired. Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. It is a most unusual course of action for this House to seek to suspend Standing Orders to : bring the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) before the bar of this House so that he can be questioned by honourable members. It is an unusual action, but it is an unusual circumstance. The principal legal officer of the Commonwealth has unusual responsibilities. He, above all other Ministers, has a peculiar measure of responsibility. Firstly, he has responsibility to the Parliament and secondly to the people of Australia. He has a responsibility within the whole concept of our Constitution. Because of the pattern of uncertainty that must lie around the person of the Attorney-General because of actions over the last few weeks there is no course of action open to this Parliament other than for us to call the Attorney-General before the bar of this place so that we can ask of him the questions that still remain unsolved - questions that are fundamental to the standing of the man, the standing of this Parliament and the reputation and administration of the Australian legal system.
The unanswered questions to which 1 have referred relate not only to the fundamentals of why the Attorney-General visited the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Canberra but also to the very exercise of his ministerial responsibilities. Every Minister is charged directly under the terms of the legislation for which he is responsible with a number of specific duties. The normal pattern of administration is that he has persons in his charge who report to him on the basis of which those duties are carried out. The Attorney-General did not see fit to contact the head of ASIO to discuss with him the questions with which purportedly he is concerned. Instead, he made a midnight raid - and a midnight raid that was totally unexplained. Why did the Attorney-General so vary ministerial responsibilities? The only way in which we seem to have any prospect of getting an answer to this question is, again, by calling him before the Bar of this House.
My colleague, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), quite rightly has referred to his concern for civil liberties. There is today a genuine fear among those members of the Australian community who are migrants to this country, particularly those who came from Eastern European countries, that those midnight and pre-dawn knocks on the door, which are reminiscent of the very reason for their leaving their own countries, are likely to be repeated in this country. There is no comfort in the vague assurances given in this place by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and others that these raids will not be repeated. They should never have occurred, and the fact that they have occurred has struck genuine terror and concern into the hearts and minds of many thousands of new Australians. If We are to find the purpose of these raids and to be certain in this House-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. These raids led to some charges being laid in the Sydney Court of Petty Sessions and, as you pointed out this morning, they are sub judice.
-I did make the point this morning that nothing should be said that could be prejudicial to the people who are to come before the court to answer charges. The honourable member is entitled to refer to this matter, but he must not give details related to the cases.
– I accept your decision, Mr Speaker. Indeed, it is for the very reason that the matter is sub judice that I believe it is essential that we in this place be given the motives of the Attorney-General in organising these raids at the time at which and in the circumstances in which he organised them, and on what criteria he organised them. Is it, perhaps, that the raids were conducted only on the basis of evidence tendered by another government? Is it possible that the evidence came from a country in which the methods of acquiring evidence and administering the law do not accord with our own standards? Is the Attorney-General acting only on the premise given by that sort of information? These are questions which only an inquiry in this place can answer.
There is concern in the civil service. Allegations have been made against individual public servants, but no opportunity has been given for those individuals to demonstrate the side of the case that they must genuinely hold. There is concern about the adequacy of evidence in regard to terrorism in this community. There is also the motive of the left wing of the Government Party in its whole attack on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. In this House over the last 9 years there have been consistent attempts by members of the Australian Labor Party to express concern at the actions of ASIO. If the motives of the Attorney-General are only the destruction of ASIO, it is essential that we in this place have an opportunity to examine him and to ask why he is proceeding in this manner. I believe that it is only by calling the Attorney-General to this place that these and many other significant questions can be answered adequately.
– The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and the Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Sinclair) look so solemn that one really would think that they meant the motion that has been moved. The only purpose of this motion to call the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) before the Bar of this House is to delay the business of the House. Today we have seen this House pass a resolution of confidence in the Attorney-General, and consistently on this side of the Parliament, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and others have answered-
– Why are you frightened?
– I suggest that honourable members opposite should be patient and I will enlighten them. The real purpose behind the motion moved by the right honourable member for Higgins is to delay the business of the House and to take the minds of the people off the guilty consciences of those who sit opposite. For years honourable members opposite, particularly the right honourable member for Higgins, as I shall show, have gone easy on the terrorists. In addition, honourable members opposite have moved this motion as a diversion. Who would not want to forget the wrangles going on between the Country Party, the Democratic Labor Party and the Liberal Party? Who would not want to put that away? Who would not want to forget the dissension that exists in their ranks and to put away from the public mind the fact that they are split to ribbons from one end of this country to the other and in the Parliament? Everybody knows about this and this motion is a diversionary tactic that honourable members opposite hope will succeed. They are desperate men. Of course they are looking for issues. Honourable members opposite refuse to believe the truth. 1 wonder why we do not ask Senator Greenwood to come before the Bar of the House in order that he might tell us what he has done with the stolen documents that he has hidden in his garage. Of course, no mention is made of this.
The right honourable member for Higgins talked about civil liberties. He was a party to that infamous propaganda which was put out during an election and which listed as a communist every person who walked down the street with a communist. We were defeated in that election a few years ago because of the policy of guilt by association employed by the right honourable member for Higgins and those who sit behind him. Everybody knows that the motion moved by the right honourable member for Higgins is a phoney approach to the subject. It is guilt by association. Honourable members opposite have been answered again and again in this Parliament.
Documents galore have been produced, and still they refuse to believe the truth. They wish to take the matter to another place so that they may have an opportunity to use again the brute force of numbers that they used so undemocratically in that place. Honourable members opposite pretend that they are defending public servants. Public servants waited 23 years for the then Government to do something for them. That Government would not even give them decent working conditions, yet the Opposition now says that it is defending the good name of public servants. What a phoney proposition. .
Let us examine what was done by the right honourable member for Higgins and see how he went easy on these terrorists. I have a document signed by Patrick Shaw, First Assistant Secretary, dated 27th August 1964 and dealing with Croat terrorists in Australia.
– What year was that?
– The document is dated 27th August 1964 and it states:
In the past few months there has been considerable activity towards drafting some public statement which would answer the numerous questions on the parliamentary notice paper concerning the activities of Croat national groups in Australia. As a background there have been further investigations into the activities of these groups by both ASIO and the Commonwealth Police. My impression is that the Commonwealth Police reports have been more thorough, accurate and revealing than those of ASIO. An important point in the investigations was the turning up by the Commonwealth Police of a film put together by the Croat organisation in Australia, purporting to show the extent of the Australian Government’s military and political support of their terrorist activities. This film was obviously designed for use overseas and it brought a violent reaction from the Attorney-General when he saw it. At that time Mr Snedden was about to issue a fairly strong statement in his own name which has been approved In principle by the Prime Minister just prior to bis departure overseas.
Let honourable members listen to this:
However, Senator Gorton objected because of its possible unpopularity amongst Government back benchers and there have been a number of attempts to redraft a watered down version of the condemnatory statement which contained threats of legal action against terrorist groups.
In other words, the right honourable member for Higgins was going easy on his friends in the terrorist organisations in this country; he was going easy on the Croats. That confidential document indicates what a phoney argument he has advanced in this Parliament today. It is a smokescreen by the right honourable member for Higgins. He would not have moved this motion in the Parliament if he had had the numbers, because the last thing he wants is an investigation into how he and the previous Ministry went easy on those who are terrorists in this country. Of course, honourable members opposite will move a motion in this House only when they know that they cannot carry it.
I would love to see the secret files on the activities of members of that Ministry in regard to terrorists. At that time Senator Gorton did not want anything done because those great civil liberties fighters who sit behind him would have been embarrassed by action being taken against their fascist friends in the ranks of the Croats in this country. This is the reason why the motion to call the AttorneyGeneral before the Bar of this House has been moved.’ Have honourable members ever heard anything more phoney in their lives? I only wish we had the time to debate in this Parliament the unlimited things that should be said in respect of this matter. But there is legislation to be passed by this House. There is legislation to which we must give effect. We are not like the previous Government. We are doing things. We do not have idle hours to sit here and not put measures through. The fact is that the motion is an attempt to delay the House. It is what might be called a phoney apology for what has been done. The Party opposite has been cut to ribbons by the allegations by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). If anybody was demolished today in this Parliament it would be the members of the Opposition when the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) had finished speaking in the previous debate. I have never seen such relieved men opposite as when we said that they could have only 3 speakers in the debate. Immediately the Prime Minister finished talking they all walked out from the other side of the chamber. You could have fired a shotgun in the direction of the other side of the chamber without hitting anyone because not one of those great freedom fighters remained to hear the rest of their case. Is it any wonder that we treat this motion as a phoney proposition?
The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), who is Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, has to try to fight his way back to the top somehow. His Leader is only the third most important man in the Opposition. Where that puts him, I do not know. He is grasping at straws. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony), the great militant, came forward and tried to tell us that he will fight for civil liberties. The most oppressed people in the country are those who are represented by members of the Country Party. There is no democracy in that Party or in its administration generally. Here today members of the Country Party are telling members on this side of the Parliament what ought to be done. I would have liked the right honourable member for Higgins to have moved that we call to the door of the Parliament some of the great capitalists of this country so that we could hear how they are exploiting the Australian people through prices and such factors. I would like to hear from somebody like Senator Greenwood. He probably could give us a lot on this matter that he is keeping hidden. He must have something to hide because he has pinched the papers and has hidden them in his garage. That is the situation. What a phoney proposition to put up.
-Order! The Leader of the House is getting a little away from the motion.
– I will get back to the motion. I name it for what it is - an attempt to hold up the business of the House. I issue to honourable members opposite not a threat but a word of friendly warning. The Government will not tolerate the business of the House being taken out of its hands. The legislation of this country must go through and it will go through. Tactics of this nature should be judged by the public for what they are. They have nothing to do with national security or the Attorney-General. They are a deliberate attempt to hold up the business of the House and the progressive legislative program of this Government. Keep in mind that such tactics will not be tolerated. Learn early that if you want to debate the big issues, do not waste time on frivolous motions like the one we have just debated.
– I rise first to raise a point of order and then to make a personal explanation. I ask in accordance with standing orders that the document from which the Leader of the House quoted be tabled.
– There is no need for the right honourable gentleman to ask under the Standing Orders. I would have tabled the document if he had asked by interjection.
Mr GORTON (Higgins) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented by the Leader of the House. 1 believe that he has misrepresented me by claiming that I have been soft on terrorists, which seems to be a standing insult from the other side of the House. He apparently relies on a document in which I indicated that I did not think a stronger statement should be made or action should be taken against people whose names I cannot remember. That approach of mine would be made entirely in line with what I have been saying in the House today; that is that there should bc no action and no public accusations unless there is sufficient evidence for a charge to be made and a conviction to be brought. That is not being soft on terrorists. That is being hard on protection of the civil rights of Australians. I say that the other approach is being hard on Australians.
That the motion (Mr Gorton’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would preclude the re-opening of the debate upon order of the day No. 9 on today’s business paper.
Order of the day No. 9 reads:
Croatian terrorism - Ministerial statement - Motion to take note of the paper-
I do this because under the motion which was carried earlier debate on this matter was entirely truncated. In point of fact, there has been no substantial debate on this aspect of the matter. The Government said that it would allow free and full debate. It cut down the speakers to 3 a side. That was known in advance, but in addition, because there were many items in the compendious motion of the Government, the aspects of the statement relating to Croatian events and affairs were not sufficiently debated.
I believe it is important that this House should debate this statement, and there are many reasons for this. First, I believe it is necessary to correct public misapprehension fostered very cunningly and very, competently by the Government, which is creating prejudice against all Croatians. A one-sided case has been presented. This goes right back even to the historical perspective. The Prime Minis- ter (Mr Whitlam) today and last week spoke in this House about the history of the matter, and most of the facts he gave were correct, but they were not the whole facts, and by selection he gave a quite distorted and false picture of what has occurred. It is important for honourable members to remember that in the country which is now Yugoslavia there have been tensions for well over 100 years. These are racial tensions - ethnic tensions - which go back for a long time. It is perfectly true, as the Prime Minister said, that Croat organisations-
– I take a point of order. The honourable member is debating the question for which he is seeking the suspension of Standing Orders to debate and not debating the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Mackellar to keep his remarks related to the suspension of Standing Orders.
– I am trying to show why it is important that we should debate this matter. Things have been omitted from the Government’s presentation, and the Government’s presentation of this whole case has been one-sided. It is perfectly true, as the Prime Minister has said, that fanatical Croat organisations were responsible for the assassination, for example, of King Alexander. I think he mentioned this earlier today. He did not mention that antecedent to that incident 5 Croat deputies had been murdered inside the Parliament of Yugoslavia and that the assassination of the King followed upon this murder. This is the kind of selection which gives a distorted picture. The Prime Minister spoke of Ante Pavelic as being a Hitler puppet.
– He was.
– In a sense this is true.
– Not in a sense. He was a puppet. He was a Nazi.
– In a sense this is true, but the Prime Minister did not say that Pavelic was active long before the war, nor does he gay that he was at one time endeavouring to be on the Allied side when Russia and Hitler were in full alliance and the faction that is now the Government of Yugoslavia was the Axis puppet at that time. This is the kind pf selective presentation which the Prime Minister has given us and by omitting so many of the facts and saying so many things which were true he has distorted the whole picture.
We want to know more about what has happened in Australia. The Prime Minister has quoted from Australian Security Intelligence Organisation files. I do not know what is in ASIO files. I of course have never seen them, but I know that there is another side to the picture, and it would be surprising indeed if it were not in ASIO files. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) referred to agentsprovocateurs. This is a most important thing, and it is most important, of course, in regard to the Warburton Ranges affair which the Prime Minister mentioned and which has been mentioned quite widely in the Senate. I will not go into the details of the Warburton Ranges affair because it is sub judice, but I simply make in passing the same kind of reference to it as the Government has made. In my opinion the Warburton Ranges affair does not show Croat guilt. It shows rather Yugoslav Titoist Government guilt and the use of agents-provocateurs and frame-ups deliberately to give a distorted picture.
I may be right; I may be wrong.
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Mackellar to return to debating why he wants the Standing Orders suspended.
– I am trying to do that. I am saying that I believe the debate should proceed in order that this kind of thing can be mentioned in the House. We have heard only one side. I am not giving details; I am referring to the kinds of matters which could be mentioned in a more extended debate. There is the other side, and there is some evidence that this other side is important.
The Prime Minister referred to our honoured guest, the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. He was careful not to mention that our honoured guest had been an officer of the infamous UDBA, the secret police of the Titoist Yugoslavs, and that this is how he achieved his rise to power. The Prime Minister did not tell the House that our honoured guest bad been, in Bosnia, which is in Yugoslavia, the chief of this secret police and that his connection with UDBA was the foundation of his career. The Prime Minister did not tell the House of the numbers of Yugoslav agents who are being attached, in some kind of semi-official way, to the consulates and other bodies throughout Australia. He did not tell the House one very important thing. He spoke, in passing, of the Attorney-General’s concern lest there be a plot to assassinate many people in Australia, including himself.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. The motion moved by. the honourable member for Mackellar relates to the suspension of Standing Orders. He is not speaking to that motion at all. The honourable member is speaking about a number of matters that concern him. It is his right as a member of the Parliament to give notice of motion for General Business to enable him to discuss those matters, if he wishes. He has not adduced any arguments as to why the business of the House should be pre-empted and Standing Orders suspended.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The Prime Minister did not mention that the information that was given on this matter - I have heard some rumour of this - apparently related to a plot which originated in Yugoslavia to implicate Croats. I think that if he looks at the documents he will know more about that. Finally, he spoke of terrorism in Australia. All honourable members are opposed to terrorism in Australia. It is a question of who is responsible for it and whether it is all on one side. The Prime Minister also said how terrible it was that people in Australia should organise against the legitimate government of Yugoslavia. For many months he and his Party have been organising against the legitimate government of South Vietnam - a friendly country with which we were in diplomatic communion. The Prime Minister is a supporter of terrorism. He is the guilty man. He and his Party have been active supporters of terrorism in Australia.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. The motion concerns the right of the Opposition to speak on matters of public import, to question and to criticise. The Government, by the use of the gag - the motion that the question be now put - has, in respect of this matter and in respect of many other matters I submit, reduced to a minimum the right of members of the Opposition in this House to express a view, to question and to criticise. Indeed, the debate on the motion which was moved this afternoon, virtually without warning, was gagged by the Government.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension I was explaining that Standing Orders should be suspended so that the House can debate in full Order of the Day No. 9 on today’s Notice Paper entitled ‘Croatian Terrorism - Ministerial statement’ - that is the name the Government gives the subject - ‘Motion to take note of Paper: Resumption of debate . . .’. By the procedure that it has used the Government, virtually without notice this morning, has scrubbed this matter from the notice paper. This was a statement which the Government saw fit to introduce into this House and, one would have thought, it was a statement containing such matters of public interest as would deserve full debate, including debate by the Opposition in this House. The Government has gagged this debate.
There are only 2 minutes left to me in which to speak but I want to say that the Government has done a good deal of gagging in this House over the last week or so. Today it gagged this debate after only 3 speakers on this side of the House when my party had a list of at least 15 members who wished to speak in the debate. The Leader of the House (Mr Daly), who is sitting here not paying much attention, is always denying the right of the Opposition to speak in this place by gagging debates but he always takes the opportunity to speak himself, not very pertinently or constructively but nevertheless he takes the time which he will not give to members of the Opposition for debate. The Opposition has the right to speak, to be heard, to question and to criticise. Goodness, before dinner we had the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) trying to make the fatuous point that if the Opposition wished to debate this matter further it could have it put on the notice paper as private members’ business. He knows or ought to know full well that any member who gives notice of private members’ business today cannot have it brought on in this House until next September. So much for that point.
In view of the great build up given to this statement in the week before the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) made it in the Senate, one would have thought it touched 3 important areas of public interest in this country. Firstly, there was a question of terrorist organisations relating, as the AttorneyGeneral said, to Croatian movements. As has been shown by Senator Greenwood and by honourable members in this House, there has been no proof yet produced or charges laid in respect of that important matter. When proof is produced I for one and, I am sure, other members on the Opposition side will say that if those persons can be found guilty they ought to be punished within Australian law, and I emphasise ‘Australian law’. But the real objective of this statement was to criticise the former Government and the former AttorneyGeneral, Senator Greenwood, in particular. It was a straight out attack on Senator Greenwood - that was the real objective of it - and Senator Greenwood has answered that attack in full. The third point and second important matter raised by the statement that the Opposition wants to debate and question is why this Government and the Attorney-General in particular have set out to destroy the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, its standing and effectiveness within Australia and its standing externally in relation to the trust which it had with the intelligence services of our allies, those countries with which we have been co-operating and which have been cooperating with us in the past.
– I do not intend to detain the House for long but I want to clarify the matter for the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who moved the motion and the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) who seconded it. The motion is a frivolous one. It has not been supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) or the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair). In other words, it has been moved by 2 discarded - and quite rightly so - ex-Ministers who are sitting in the second-last row of the House at the present time. They are not quite far enough out of the House. Tonight we have had the spectacle of 2 ex-Ministers holding up the business of this Parliament. Seeing their performance in the Parliament on this question one does not wonder why they are where they are today. The honourable member for Curtin spoke about what had not been done today. The Leader of the Opposition spoke on this matter for one hour today - 45 minutes on one motion and 15 minutes on another which related to the suspension of Standing Orders. That is a pretty fair go in a Parliament which is limited for time. When honourable mem; ben opposite were in Government they did not give us such a fair go.
The. honourable member spoke about the gag. Let me remind honourable members what a former Prime Minister - one who was silly enough to select him for a Ministry - had to say about it. The following is part of a speech by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) on 25th November 1969. He said:
But what I think is more important ls this play upon the fact that the gag has been moved as frequently today as it has been. It is always within the capacity of an Opposition, if it acts stupidly enough, to force a gag to be moved.
Let me repeat it. He said:
It is always within the capacity of an Opposition, if it acts stupidly enough, to force a gag to be moved.
Nobody would wonder why the gag has to be moved. The stupidity de luxe of the 2 honourable members opposite caused those kind of things to happen. Do not forget that the previous Government moved the gag 200 or 300 times. If we moved it on the hour every hour we would still be miles behind when this Parliament finished.
The honourable member for Mackellar stated that all kinds of things should have happened. But what he did not realise was that this Government is giving honourable members free speech. For instance, Grievance Day is always provided except, as happened the other day, when the Opposition deliberately disrupts it. Not only did the Opposition prevent question time but it also stopped the Grievance Day debate being called on because it sought to disrupt the proceedings of the House. Private members’ rights were infringed. That was not the fault of the Government; it was the responsibility of honourable members opposite. The other night, by deliberate tactics designed to disrupt the passage of legislation, the Opposition forced the abandonment of the adjournment debate on purpose to show its fighting qualities. Honourable members opposite fight so much amongst themselves that it is public knowledge. So why do they try to impress people with this lot of rot that they are going on with on this occasion? This is the second occasion in succession in this Parliament on which a motion of this type has been moved. Let me give honourable members opposite due warning. I am a very patient fellow but I will not be for long. The Opposition may move frivolous motions. It may hold up the proceedings of this Parliament. It may do so deliberately for all kinds of reasons. But I say that under the Standing Orders no government will allow it to continue to do so in an irresponsible way.
As I said earlier, not one responsible member on that side of the Parliament - they are pretty hard to find - supports this motion. The initiation of this motion has been left to 2 honourable members who have been discarded and discredited by their own Party. Yet this Government is expected to put up with this kind of conduct in the Parliament. I would have throught that the honourable member for Mackellar was old enough to know better. He has had a pretty good run. He ought to take things quietly because blood pressure rises in such circumstances. The only person that he influences and disturbs in this Parliament when he talks is himself. We on this side of the House know that he is up to these antics. When the honourable member was on the back bench he was always a firebrand. But he was a quiet sort of chap when he was emancipated and elevated to the Ministry. Now he is trying to do the same thing in reverse. But we on this side of the Parliament are a wake-up to the honourable member. I suggest to him that, as we are abolishing the means test and doing all sorb of things that he wants us to do, he ought to have more respect for the Government. The honourable member should set a better example for the younger members on that side of the House and not try to hold up the deliberations of this great chamber. I do not like to say these things in a hurtful manner because in a strange kind of way I have a lot of respect for the honourable member but we cannot allow this kind of conduct to continue without putting the record straight.
I just say those few brief words and I ask honourable members opposite to ponder on the words of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). If an Opposition is stupid enough it can force a lot of gags to be moved, but in this Parliament we have a lot of legislation to be passed which is tremendously important to the country people, the city people and overall to the Australian people. Therefore we do not want to be interrupted by frivolous motions of this kind. That is why tonight I put the record straight. This Government has no desire to apply the gag. It has no desire to stop discussion.
– What about the Electoral Bill?
– The honourable member mentioned the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. Thirty-three honourable members spoke on that Bill. The debate went for nearly 13 hours on a Bill which consisted of 5 clauses, only 2 of which had any importance. In 1965 on a Bill consisting of 18 clauses there were only about 40 speakers who took part in a debate which lasted about 11 hours and we finished it at 4 o’clock in the morning. Honourable members opposite are the democrats who talk about us. In any case, the Australian Country Party ran out of speakers and one of its members had to talk twice. When honourable members opposite want to talk about these things they should do a bit of homework on them first. I heard the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) say while sitting at the table: ‘For heaven’s sake, give me something to say on the final clause. The Country Party has nobody else to talk’.
– I overheard him.
– My friend the honourable member for Chifley overheard that statement. Let us not have all this rot about debates being stopped. Time has been set aside for Grievance Day and for General Business. Next Thursday the honourable member for Mackellar may move his motions - both of them - if he wishes to do so. This is unprecedented. This Parliament stands for open government and free speech. What is more, we do not steal documents and hide them in a garage. They are here for all to see. We table them. I thought I would put the record straight and bring honourable members up to date and just warn them in the interests of democracy in this country not to waste the time of the Parliament. Honourable members opposite have all had a good salary rise. Why do they not act as though they deserve it? If the people outside do not realise that Opposition members are not worth the money they are getting, they soon will if there are any more antics like this.
Question resolved in the negative.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Most grievously. I have been misrepresented on 2 points. Firstly, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) was good enough to mention my blood pressure. I am glad to tell him that only a couple of months ago I was tested and was found to have the blood pressure of a man of 30. Secondly, the Minister said that my motion was frivolous. It was nothing of the kind. I feel most sincerely about this. These people are being systematically put in the black by the members of the Government. It is time somebody stood up to protect them.
– Order! The honourable member is now out of order.
– A petition has been lodged by Mr Garrick as follows and a copy of the petition will be referred to the appropriate Minister:
To the honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth, humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe . . .
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly, pray that . . .
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least$240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries.
– I wish to inform the House that the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee, left Australia last Friday to attend a meeting in Japan of the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. He is expected to return to Australia on 16th April. During his absence the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, Mr Stewart, will be Acting Special Minister of State.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report by Professor A. H. Pollard of his inquiry into superannuation pension updating. May I say that my predecessor invited Professor Pollard on 13th November 1972 to conduct such an inquiry. I gave the Professor the terms of reference on 8th January. We are all, I believe, indebted to the Professor for the speed and skill with which he has made his inquiry.
Debate resumed from 5 April (vide page 1203), on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It is interesting to note that the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1973 was introduced by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) whereas the Act is administered by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). It is somewhat curious that the Minister for Labour was successful in wresting the introduction of this Bill from the Minister for Social Security. However, I expect that it will be only a matter of time before the Minister for Social Security asserts his authority over the Minister for Labour and takes over from him in this area. Another noteworthy point about the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour is that he actually had something good to say for Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd in relation to safety standards and insurance. It interested me to hear this in view of the continual and often vitriolic criticism by the Minister for Labour of this great Australian company over many years.
It seems to me that it might be appropriate to issue a word of warning to BHP in case the Minister for Labour has in mind something very unpleasant for the company, such as nationalisation of the steel industry in the near future. Employees of the Commonwealth Public Service and its authorities have played a very important role in the development of the infrastructure of the continually expanding economy and development of Australia.
The new compensation arrangements in this Bill will be widely welcomed by the large number of people who will be covered under the Act. My information is that the total number of people involved will be approximately 425,000. This figure covers members of the Commonwealth Public Service, employees of Commonwealth authorities, members of the armed forces and other people covered by such Acts as the Naval Defence Act and the Supply and Development Act.
As Ministers and members of Parliament well know, many members of the Commonwealth Public Service and statutory authorities are called upon to work long hours under continual pressure. They need to possess many fundamental qualities to carry out their duties successfully. Some of the more significant requirements are a highly developed sense of dedication together with ability and sound judgment. They also seem to develop a strong sense of loyalty and exhibit a willingness to help honourable members with detailed information on a wide variety of subjects. Their ability to maintain essential confidentiality is another important feature.
Every member of the House, particularly those in the Australian Country Party and others who represent rural areas, will agree that members of the various Public Service departments stationed in country electorates are most helpful and have made it easier for us to help country people with their problems. There would not be one of us in the Australian Country Party who has not received valuable assistance at various times from such people as the District Telephone Manager and his staff, the District Postal Manager and his staff, the Registrar of Social Services, the Regional Directors of Labour and the Commonwealth electoral officers and the members of their staffs. We in the Country Party hope to see more branches of Public Service departments established in rural areas. We will fight to ensure that the vital facilities of housing and education are provided for public servants stationed in country areas and that high priority is given to the provision of finance in country areas to meet housing and education needs.
I mentioned a few minutes ago the various fundamental qualities that a successful public servant needs. I must say that as far as Canberra employees of the Public Service are concerned I have no doubt that the basic qualities I outlined are being stretched to the limit by the rash of legislation brought about by the Labor Government and also by the ready willingness of senior Ministers of the Labor Government ruthlessly to attempt to shift the blame for a crisis - a crisis either for the Government or for the Minister - on to members of the Public Service. There have been recent major national examples of this. One involved Sir Arthur Tange of the Defence Department and the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) when the Minister was involved in a serious staff problem over a briefing with Lord Carrington, the British Defence Minister. The Minister passed the blame from himself and involved a very senior public servant in Sir Arthur Tange. Of course, we recently have had our attention drawn to a serious matter which concerned the raid by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Canberra and Melbourne.
It would be surprising if the policy of Ministers of passing the buck to public servants when they are in trouble does not greatly increase the number of public servants who will qualify for compensation under a proposed new section 5 (c) of the Act. The proposed new section states that the definition of ‘disease’: . . includes any physical or mental ailment, disorder, defect or morbid condition, whether of sudden or gradual development, and also includes the aggravation, acceleration or recurrence of any preexisting physical or mental ailment, disorder, defect or morbid condition;
When we consider the number of conditions which could apply to the definition I have just read out it is not hard to visualise the significant decline that will take place in the health of public servants if they are subjected to the unprincipled actions of senior Ministers who arc trying to get out from under by blaming public servants.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) when referring to members of the Public Service in the last few days - and remember that the members of the Public Service whom this Bill concerns have no right on reply - used such despicable words as ‘conspiracy’, ‘withholding of information’, ‘malevolence’, ‘inaccuracy’, ‘incompetence’, ‘misunderstanding’ and ‘misinterpretation’. These words are in Hansard for everyone to see. It is pointless for the Prime Minister to deny that he used those words. They are all recorded in Hansard and in the headlines of the national
Press. I have just one example of this. It is a headline from the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 4 days ago, which states: ‘PM Blames Public Servant For Raid’. This completely supports my comments.
The overall provisions of this Bill constitute a tremendous improvement in the compensation position of Commonwealth employees who, broadly speaking, in the course of their duties are inflicted with death, illness or injury whether or not actually caused by their occupation. Some of the most important proposals that will change the previous situation rather dramatically are, firstly, that an employee’s compensation on a pro rata basis will not be limited to 26 weeks but will be available for the rest of his life and, secondly, that a widow no longer will receive a lump sum but will be paid according to her family situation and according to her late husband’s pay, with regular incremental increases being taken into consideration. All reasonable people will support the principle that a fair compensation payment should be made in all possible circumstances, and the Australian Country Party unhesitatingly supports this proposition.
No-one would begrudge the most generous possible payment to a widow, particularly if she has children. However, it is extremely difficult for members of the Parliament and the nation to assess the practicality and reasonableness of the proposals contained in this Bill. The reason I say that is that the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), which is the explanatory speech introducing the Bill, is another of the increasing list of measures which are being brought into the House by the Labor Government and which do not contain cost estimates. It illustrates the worrying irresponsibility of this Government in regard to expenditure. Someone must pay. Many taxpayers, including the members of the Commonwealth authorities covered by this Bill, are expressing concern about who will pay and about when information on the cost of these and other proposals is to be made public. As with other measures, this Bill cannot be viewed in isolation; it cannot be divorced from overall budgetary considerations in spite of the Prime Minister’s extraordinary statement in his policy speech that social welfare and social security as a whole no longer would be subject to financial or budgetary considerations.
This Bill will have another side effect which is sure to cause a big headache to members of private business and industry, small and large. There is no doubt that there will be a follow on in other sections of industry. In an article in the ‘Financial Review’ of 5th March, before this Bill was announced, the writer said:
The Minister for the Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, Mr Kep Enderby, is working on the preparation of ordinances to extend the benefits of the Act to employees privately employed in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory.
This illustrates the point that I made that there will be a follow on in other sections of industry. Thousands of primary producers and small business people could have an unbearable burden placed upn them by workers compensation insurance rates, which are very high even under the present arrangement. Apart from the increasing worry for business people of financing the load there is the inevitable increase in costs to the public. Another alternative to be considered is the possible collapse of the small business structure of Australia. Any substantial weakening of the structure of private enterprise would, of course, materially assist the Labor Government towards its announced and dedicated objective of a socialist state in Australia.
– If you say that often enough you will start to believe it.
– Members of the Government Party are interjecting in critical fashion, but surely it is reasonable to put forward some of the points that ought to be taken into consideration. It is reasonable to put both sides of an argument. The Country Party will not oppose the passage of this Bill through the House of Representatives because it recognises that many of its provisions are just and justified, particularly those relating to widows. However, the Country Party wants to convey a warning to the people of Australia, particularly those who will benefit from this measure. The warning is that in the long run all of us as taxpayers have to pay and have to face the day of reckoning which must inevitably come as the Labor Party continues to introduce uncosted legislation involving huge and compounding increases in government expenditure.
It is understandable that the beneficiaries of these schemes are experiencing a sense of pleasure and satisfaction in the initial stages of the range of extra benefits. However, we of the Country Party believe that the lon term effect of the new measures involving Government spending, added to by shorter working hours, could have serious inflationary consequences for the overall standard of living in Australia and the general efficiency and cost structure of our domestic industries across the nation. The ability of industry to compete with imports from other countries and on the export markets must be affected. Whilst we appreciate that improvements in the compensation scheme had to be considered, we feel that it is appropriate for a member of the House to put the other side of the question so that the people may weigh whether the improvements have any significance. They will be able to judge in the future what happens to our cost structure, and that only time will tell.
– I would like to say at the outset that I am very pleased that the professional obstructionists on the other side of the House have seen fit at least tacitly to support the Bill. One would have doubts from what has been said by the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten), who is a member of the Australian Country Party, because whilst in fact members of the Country Party are paying lip service to the measure they are putting arguments against it. Their remarks will be judged by the people who do not believe that it is a pleasure to receive compensation. They receive compensation because they have been injured or find themselves in a desperate situation.
It is certainly with some pleasure that I support the Bill. In doing so I applaud the action of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) in introducing this legislation. It must be for him, as for me, a proud and satisfying moment when such legislation is introduced into the Parliament. There are in my view 3 great steps taken by this Bill. The first of these is the new definition of disease, the second is the quantum of damages now provided in cases of accident or injury, and the third is the proposal, long overdue, for the introduction of a safety code. The Bill must be seen as another step forward in the implementation of the Australian Labor Party’s comprehensive social security program based on the philosophy that society has an obligation to provide adequately for citizens who for any reason cannot take care of themselves or those dependent on them. It is also necessary that any social security payments should be tied to average weekly earnings, including increments, to ensure that the persons receiving benefits will receive automatic increases as productivity increases, as other factors increase general prosperity, or as inflation occurs.
The purpose of the Bill, as I have indicated, is to make a number of important amendments to the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1971-1972. These involve a change in the conditions relating to eligibility for compensation in disease cases and some significant changes in the rates and amounts payable under the Act. Amendments are made to the definitions of injury and disease, and section 29 of the Act is repealed, thus allowing a disease or the aggravation, acceleration or recurrence of a disease to be treated on the same basis as an injury. Eligibility will be established if the disease or aggravation, etc., arises out of or in the course of employment and, as with an injury, a temporal connection with the employment will be sufficient.
In my experience the use of legal definition of accident, injury or disease has been such that the workers have not received their proper rights. I instance the action of the Victorian Government in 1964 when on the one hand it increased the quantum of damages and on the other severely restricted the areas in which those damages could be granted, the net result being that employers who are represented by our friends in the Opposition, paid less in compensation payments than before. This was a step heralded by the Bolte Government as an advance in social legislation. An example of the effect of the amendments can be shown by reference to the Ockenden case, in which the High Court of Australia said:
A worker does not suffer personal injury by accident arising in the course of his employment where he suffers at his place of employment a sudden and distinct physiological change as the product of the inevitable development of a progressive disease from which he is suffering and where such change can in no way be attributable to or associated with some incident of his employment.
I am pleased that this legislation will remove that terrible impost on a worker trying to establish his rights to workers compensation. I shall outline the main changes in the rates and amounts of compensation payable under the Act. Compensation for total incapacity will be increased to the level of the employee’s average weekly earnings, including increments, and will continue at this level during the entire period of his incapacity. Compensation for partial incapacity will be a weekly amount equal to the difference between the employee’s average weekly earnings in his pre-injury employment and the weekly amount he is earning after the injury, without any limit on the amount so payable. The Commonwealth will be obliged to provide suitable employment to a partially incapacitated employee or continue weekly payments on the basis of total incapacity; but the payments may be suspended if the employee unreasonably refuses or fails to accept or satisfactorily undertake suitable employment when it is provided. The lump sum compensation for death is replaced by weekly payments ranging up to the full average weekly earnings of the deceased employee.
The lump sums payable for specified losses are to be related to the national average weekly earnings, and thus will be varied automatically on a quarterly basis. On current figures this will give a maximum of $26,026 compared with $14,500 provided in the Act. The percentages relating to the various losses have been increased and additional losses have been provided for, namely, loss of binocular vision, loss of the procreative function, bodily disfigurement and the loss of part of the body or of a faculty not elsewhere provided for in the section relating to certain losses. Also these lump sum payments will no longer terminate entitlement to continuance of weekly incapacity payments. An employee who is also receiving a superannuation or Defence Forces Retirement Benefits pension will be given the right to request a lump sum payment in redemption of the liability for weekly payments even though he is totally incapacitated.
An employee whose total incapacity for work would be permanent but for vocational training will not have his weekly compensation reduced because of any earnings he receives during or as a result of the training. The law in Australia - this is terribly important - has, for at least 50 years, provided 2 ways of compensating a worker who is injured as a result of circumstances connected with his employment. At common law the injured worker has a right to sue for damages if his injury can be found to have occurred as a result of the fault - I ask honourable members to note that word - of his employer or fellow employee. Where no fault exists, workers have been able to receive limited benefits by making claims under workers compensation statutes. There has always been a basic difference in philosophy between the benefits obtainable under workers compensation Acts and those obtainable as a result of actions for damages. In actions for damages where fault has been established the law has attempted to put the injured worker in the same monetary situation as he would have been in had his injury not occurred by providing compensation for out of pocket expenses, past and future pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and future economic loss, including potential loss of income resulting from the loss of opportunity for advancement in employment.
On the other hand, workers compensation Act benefits have merely attempted to give the injured worker something towards the solution of his financial problems. They have never attempted to provide a complete economic solution. The degree of assistance has tended to vary between Commonwealth Acts and State Acts, but more often than not the benefits have been only a marginal improvement on benefits obtainable under social service legislation. The increased benefits provided in the Bill will ensure’ that the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act is the most generous workers compensation legislation in both scope and benefit ever enacted in Australia. The provisions in the Bill, which compensate for incapacity or disability due to a disease temporarily connected with the employment, provide average weekly income during incapacity, greatly increase lump sum benefits for disability and continue weekly payments in addition to lump sum benefits, will bring the Act closer to: the benefits philosophy of common law actions for damages than any other workers compensation legislation has ever approached.
I believe that the basic principle of all compensation legislation benefits should be to totally compensate not merely to partially compensate.
Compensation legislation should ensure that the injured employee is placed in the same economic situation as he would have been in had the injury not occurred. This is not a new proposition. It is a situation which has always been recognised by the common law in Australia where fault has been the cause of the injury. But the overriding concern of governments should be the interest and welfare of the disabled worker or employee, not the establishment of fault in the causation of the injury which has caused disability. This situation is now increasingly recognised by enlightened governments in the Western world and is evidenced by workers compensation legislation and more recently by no fault compensation schemes, an example of which is the scheme recently introduced by the Government in legislation in New Zealand.
These Acts and schemes are imperfect examples of the desire of governments to totally compensate injured persons whether they be injured in connection with their work or otherwise and whether or not their injuries occurred as a result of fault. The Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act when amended will still fall short of the benefits that are obtainable in actions for damages. It will still fall short of providing a total solution to the financial problems of injured workers. For example, the lump sum payments will still fall below the amounts obtainable in actions for damages before juries. In the case of total or partial incapacity no allowance is made in this Bill or in the existing Act for the fact that the injured employee has more often than not been deprived of promotional opportunity and economic advancement. The weekly payments on death provided in the Bill are not as valuable as the lump sum obtainable in actions for damages by widows, particularly since these payments terminate upon the widow’s remarrying.
I now turn to the Minister’s welcome announcement of proposals for a safety code, a proposal that has been for a long time a plank of the federal platform of the Labor Party. It is the prevention of accidents and disease that is the most important factor to workers. Such action is very long overdue. Previous governments have only provided lip service to International Labour Organisation conventions on the very important matter of safety. I would like to point out to the Minister that a number of ILO Conventions dealing specially with safety codes have not at this point in time been ratified by Australia. This is a dishonest approach. We cannot sit at meetings in which these conventions are made and then come back to this country and simply do nothing at all about them. Some of these conventions include: Convention No. 32 Protection Against Accidents (Dockers) (Revised) 1932; Convention No. 62 Safety Provisions (Building) 1937 and, in particular, Convention No. 119 Guarding of Machinery, 1963. In my view it is not good enough to say that under Commonwealth jurisdiction the Government considers that there are no manufacturers of machinery in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory and that there are major difficulties in ratification in the States. One of the promises of this Government has been that in its Territories it will set up model legislation as an example to the States. Even if there are constitutional difficulties in persuading the States to ratify this Convention, 1 would hope that in the near future the Commonwealth Territories will have legislation which does conform to the Convention and the Minister and the Government should take steps to see that ils contracts are directed towards the companies which abide by the provisions of the Conventions. I also suggest that the relevant ILO Convention dealing with safety be referred to the representative committee envisaged by the Minister in his second reading speech. This committee would play a major part in not allowing this decision to establish a safety code to become empty pious words. It must become a reality in the interests of people who suffer as a result of accidents and who look to this legislation as a means of obtaining justice in this area.
Briefly I refer now to the Seamen’s Compensation Act 1911-1972. I am sure that this is a mere oversight by the Minister but I draw his attention to the quantum of damages provided in the Act. As the Minister will be aware, the Act provides for the payment of an amount of $14,500 in respect of the various more serious injuries. This amount and the percentage of that amount which is paid for the other injuries are set out in the Third Schedule to the Seamen’s Compensation Act. The percentages therein in some cases fall well below those in the table on page 8 of the Bill we are now considering.
There are other defects in the seamen’s legislation. For instance, there is no provision as to compensation for loss of the procreative function - this is very important to the seamen - or for the suffering of facial injuries or the loss of binocular vision. I realise that the Minister has a great number of issues before him but I take this opportunity to urge him at the earliest possible moment to bring the legislation relating to seamen into line with this Bill now before us. I also look forward to the day when the Minister can announce that ILO Convention No. 55 of 1936 which deals with the shipowner’s liability in respect of sick and injured seamen has been ratified by Australia. However, I have indicated that I believe firmly that the amendments proposed by this Bill must be supported for the reasons I have already stated. As I have said, this is undoubtedly the most beneficial piece of workers compensation legislation ever passed in Australia. It will substantially improve the situation of disabled or incapacitated Commonwealth employees entitled to receive its benefits. In supporting the Bill, however, I ask all honourable members to recognise that the increased benefits provided by the Bill are still only a further step towards the ultimate goal of compensation legislation designed to compensate injured employees fully. The hypocrisy of the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) who asked where the money is coming from-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I must point out to the honourable member and the word ‘hypocrisy’ is unparliamentary and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I will withdraw it and leave it to other people to judge for themselves. The way in which the honourable member presented his case and the futility of his argument rest on that basis. He asked where the money is coming from to provide such benefits to Commonwealth employees. There was no trouble in financing the war in Vietnam where we sent our young people to fight and die in the jungles of that country. So I do not see any difficulty in finding the necessary funds to finance this piece of legislation. Regardless of fault, the people who rely on this legislation will receive benefits which will place them in the same position financially and economically as they would have been in had their injuries not occurred. I commend the Bill to the House.
– My remarks will be brief. I do not intend to oppose the amendment which will be moved in Committee or the Bill because I think that the provisions of the Bill are very generous. I am sure that they will be acceptable to the Commonwealth employees. The only matter about which I express some concern is that, in my opinion, the Government’s proposals may have a chain reaction throughout all industries and throughout all States. 1 realise that the bringing down of this Bill will probably be looked at as being a lead by the Government to industries and to the States for employees compensation. This brings to my mind the flow over that must occur in all areas in which people are employed. For instance, in industry if these generous provisions are adopted there must be an added cost of operations. I am not suggesting for one moment that it would be a bad thing if industry did adopt the provisions of this legislation. I think it would be a darn good thing. But the point is that we must consider the additional costs which could mean an increase in prices with a consequent addition to the inflationary trend. There were anomalies in the previous legislation. That is not news. I remind the present Government that the previous Government had also recognised that there were anomalies in the legislation and that it was committed to the removal of those anomalies had it been re-elected to office.
I am very pleased to see incorporated in the Bill provision for compensation for employees who are incapacitated as a result of disease contracted in the course of their employment. A number of people in the Commonwealth sphere would benefit from this provision. This is a grand idea and a move in the right direction, especially for those people - I know some of them - who have contracted dermatitis in the course of their employment and have no resort to compensation. I am sure that the automatic adjustments to weekly compensation payments will be extremely acceptable because it will remove a great worry from the recipient of compensation payments. I notice that the principle involved in awarding compensation for partial incapacity is to be retained but the limitation is to be removed. I also notice that the Commonwealth is to provide suitable employment wherever it can for partially incapacitated employees. This is an excellent idea and I hope it will be carried through. There are many people in receipt of compensation who are not completely incapacitated and who feel that they are redundant. If employment could be found for these people they would then become productive, and remain so, in a field of work which suits their ability. This would give them a purpose in life. When one thinks that a 35-hour working week could be introduced into this country, one feels that we will need as many members of the Australian work force as we can possibly get in order to produce. Every person who is productive will help the Commonwealth and will help himself. In this respect I feel that vocational training for the severely handicapped is to be recommended. 1 would like vo see an extension of the training of handicapped people to the provincial cities and provincial towns. It should not be confined to the capital cities.
I mentioned earlier the additional costs that this legislation possibly could create for industry. I presume that it is the view of the Minister that by stepping up the program for the prevention of accidents in industry this could ease out any additional cost to industry which would be needed to cover compensation claims. I commend this idea. This is an area which needs to be probed very deeply. Any program which may reduce industrial accidents as far as the Commonwealth is concerned is to be commended. I trust that if this program can be stepped up industry generally will cooperate. I mentioned that I would be brief. I do not wish to delay the passage of this Bill unnecessarily. I support the amending legislation.
– I too support the Bill. I feel that it will provide much improved benefits in compensation for Commonwealth employees injured in the course of their employment. I welcome the improvements that this Bill provides. I have the very highest regard for Commonwealth employees. I believe that the majority of them are dedicated and perform very useful work in a very wide range of activities throughout the Commonwealth. My only worry is that there are hot enough Commonwealth employees in my own area. As an example I mention that in the largest town in my electorate there is no office of the Department of Social Security. Many other Government departments do not have offices in that town. I believe that there is a need for a decentralisation of administration with the object of providing in country areas benefits that flow from having an office of a department established there. I hope that the Government will give consideration to that aspect of the Commonwealth Public Service, members of which will now enjoy the benefits that this Bill will bring.
I mention as another example that I should like to see more technicians of the Postal Department installing telephones and more automatic telephone exchanges in country areas. These things are vital. I could cite many examples to show how much they are needed. However, I propose to touch for a moment on the remarks made by the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes). The honourable member said that members of the Opposition were paying lip service to the Bill. Honourable members on this side of the chamber have maintained that we do not oppose the Bill. Does the honourable member suggest that that is paying lip service to it? Surely honourable members on this side of the chamber have a right to draw attention to those aspects of the Bill which we feel need attention.
Some points needing attention have been stated already. Much of the speech made by the honourable member for Melbourne, who spoke for the whole 20 minutes allowed to him, was taken up with a reiteration of the second reading speech by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), although he did mention that he wanted to point out some things to the Minister. However, the Minister was absent from the chamber so the honourable member was unable to point out these things to him. The honourable member referred to the Seamen’s Compensation Act and urged the Minister to do something about that. The Minister was absent when those remarks were made and he is not listening now; instead he is talking to another honourable member and has not heard the comments made during this debate. It has been suggested that we are paying lip service to the Bill, but the Minister has not been here to give attention to points made, by honourable members in this debate.
I hope that the Minister will pay some attention when I remind him that a point has been made about the costs of the proposals contained in the Bill. I suggest that this is a point that needs to be considered. In relation to any disbursement of Commonwealth funds for any purpose the Government should give as accurate as possible an estimate of the costs of the proposal. An estimate of costs is absent from the second reading speech on this measure. Apparently no estimate has been made. I should like to emphasise - although what I propose to say may be twisted into a way that is not intended - that a knowledge of the costs involved does not necessarily mean that we would suggest any alteration to the Bill. It is essential that we know the costs of these proposals if we are to debate the measure effectively. We should like to know the total cost of the Government’s expenditures so that we can consider the effects that the proposals will have on the economy.
– Normal business procedure.
– As my friend the honourable member for Calare has said, it is normal business procedure. It would have been reasonable for the Government when introducing this Bill to give the Opposition some indication of the estimated cost of the proposals. I feel that the absence of some such indication is a weakness. We on this side of the House make no apology for drawing attention to what should have been done. The Parliament should know the estimated cost of these proposals.
– Would it make any difference?
– Yes, it would make a difference in that one could then look at what should be done in connection with the financing of the overall structure of the economy. The Country Party has been left in the dark by the Government as to the cost of the proposals. We want to know how the scheme will be financed and how the financing of this scheme, in conjunction with all the other Government expenditures, many of which are reckless, will affect the community. We should like to know whether extra taxation will be required or whether some of the benefits that are already available in other spheres will have to be reduced to finance this scheme. The Minister might give attention to those matters.
Will the recipients of the benefits of this proposal have to contribute through further taxation to provide for these benefits? I know that the answer will be no because it would be good politics to say no. The presence of 3 Government supporters listening to this debate shows the tremendous interest that the Government has in this Bill. There are many more Country Party members in the chamber at present than there are members of the Labor Party. I believe that in a Bill so important as this it would have been reasonable to expect the Labor Party to show a little more interest. I hope that the Minister will give some attention to these questions with regard to the financing of the legislation. Will it have the effect of recipients having to contribute more taxation? If not, what effect will it have? How are the proposals to be financed? What is the position with regard to the overall cost structure of this country in relation to all the other expenditures of the Government? I believe that it would be reasonable to assume that in the foreseeable future similar compensation benefits will apply to industry as a whole. The Minister commented on that in his second reading speech. It was a very brief comment, but at least a comment was made. The Minister said that it is only right and proper that there should be a comprehensive compensation code to cover all workers who arc injured. We do not object to that but I point out that this would involve a cost to the community. How is that cost to be mct? The cost of providing this standard of compensation should be taken into consideration when assessing the final cost to the community.
In asking these questions I repeat that I am not suggesting that these standards of compensation should not apply, but I am suggesting that the Government should have given some indication of how this legislation will affect the whole of its economic and taxation policies. An indication should have been given of the extent to which prices might have to be increased by industry if these standards of compensation are to be finally applied to industry. Does the Government expect that industry, and small businessmen in particular, will be able to carry this extra cost when eventually it has to be met, as certainly it will have to be met? Is the Government of the opinion that employees other than Commonwealth employees are not entitled to the same standard of compensation as applies to Commonwealth employees? I agree with the suggestion made by the Minister that the benefits should flow to all industry. If the flow on does occur, someone will have to meet the extra costs. The Minister may care to offer some information on the matters I have raised. Again I stress that I am not suggesting an alteration but simply want to know the answers to the questions I have asked.
I can assure the Minister that many people are concerned about the cost of the Government’s very generous proposals. The Government has not been backward in handing out taxpayers’ funds. When one considers the costs of many of the proposals, including the 35-hour week, it is obvious that the costs will have to be borne by somebody. It is the total operation of all the Government’s proposals that concerns me. I should like to know whether this trend is to continue and, if it does, how it will affect the economy. One of the ways in which the cost of the proposals could be met would be by an increase in prices. The consumers of the goods which are increased in price will, in turn, have to contribute to this bill. Among those contributors will be some who will benefit from the introduction of this legislation.
I should like to know the net benefit to the employees and how much of the benefit will be eroded in different ways. I feel that we should not have had to ask for an explanation on this matter; it is something which the Minister should have explained in his second reading speech. In common with other speakers I welcome the reference to the need for continuing efforts to be made to reduce the number of accidents and to improve the health of the community. I appreciate that reference and I hope that success will be achieved in this direction. I hope that some reduction will be made in the number of cases for which compensation will have to be paid. I believe that every right-thinking person will agree that every endeavour should be made to cope with this matter and the fullest possible research should be carried out to see that the maximum amount of safety is provided. I am sure that the people of Australia would co-operate fully in applying the most effective safety measures available. Any step that can be taken to reduce suffering and to maintain people in gainful employment should be among the highest priorities of the Government and of every member of this Parliament. I am very pleased that the very deserving Commonwealth employees will receive the benefits that are envisaged in this Bill. My only concern is that these benefits may be very seriously eroded if the Government does not adopt a more responsible attitude to the economic state of this country. However, my colleagues on this side of the House welcome and support the Bill.
– in reply - I thank the Opposition for the co-operation it has shown in this matter. Further, I thank members of the Opposition for the thoughtful contributions they have made to the debate. The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), touched upon a terribly important point when he said that our aim should be to prevent industrial accidents and disease rather than to ignore these matters and to go on increasing the amount of compensation paid to injured employees. In other words, we have to think in terms of human suffering rather than trying to compensate for it. We have to try to eliminate accidents and disease. The honourable gentleman was absolutely correct when he drew attention to this aspect of the Bill. I am sure that he is right when he says that anything the Government does to try to eliminate industrial accidents and disease will have the wholehearted support of the Australian people. I know that this aim has the support of every Party and every member of the Parliament.
I will be introducing shortly, perhaps towards the end of this year, a Bill to provide for a uniform code for the prevention of industrial accidents and disease. The dearest wish of all of us is to prevent industrial accidents and disease. It is no help for employers, insurance companies, union secretaries or anyone else saying it is not possible to reduce the incidence of industrial accidents and disease. It can be reduced. Whatever anyone might say about the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and whatever criticism may be levelled at the economic and perhaps industrial power that company exerts, no-one can deny that BHP has set a magnificent example in Australia in showing just how much can be done to prevent industrial accidents. Over the last IS years in the Australian iron and steel industry, which is one of the most dangerous industries in Australia, BHP, through diligence and through applying itself to the task, has been able to reduce the incidence of industrial accidents in its iron and steel plant by no less than 93 per cent. This is a magnificent record. The Wiltshire File Company, which is now owned by BHP, has reduced the incidence of industrial accident in its plant by about the same degree.
– What sort of files do they make?
– Ordinary steel files - nail files, wood files, steel files and all that kind of thing. They do not make Australian Security Intelligence Organisation files. One has to go to Senator Murphy or to Senator Greenwood to get those sorts of files. But this firm makes all the other kinds of files.
I was recently at the Kwinana steel works and I was tremendously impressed by what I saw when I chanced to drop in upon a meeting of the safety officers of that company. I was absolutely astounded when I learnt that the company had now completed three million man-hours without losing one single day through industrial accidents. This can be done. We are losing $ 1,000m worth of production each year because of industrial accidents. As the honourable members for
Maranoa has correctly pointed out, the proper thing to do is to see that industrial accidents are reduced and, if possible, eliminated. The Commonwealth ought to be setting the example. At the moment the Commonwealth does not have even a uniform code of industrial safety within its own departments and it does very little, I am ashamed to admit, to enforce a code of industrial safety. The Commonwealth makes not one-tenth of the effort that BHP makes to prevent industrial accidents. This situation will be rectified within the next year at the very latest.
– What about the Australian Workers’ Union? That union has played a more effective part than most people.
– The Australian Workers Union is a union about which I do not know very much.
The honourable member for Maranoa raised a proper point when he asked what the proposed benefits would cost, and I compliment him for turning his attention to this matter. I admit that I was remiss in not mentioning what the cost would be. But Senator Greenwood, whose mind seemed to be running along the’ same lines as that of the honourable gentleman on this matter, asked Senator Douglas McClelland, who represents the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) in the Senate, on 28th March of this year what would be an estimate of the additional cost of benefits provided for in the current amendments now before the House. The reply was that the additional cost should amount to about $2,700,000 per year for all of the Commonwealth’s employees and for employees working for Commonwealth agencies and instrumentalities. The amount is really not as much as that because once employees become entitled to the benefits of this Bill they would not be entitled to social service benefits. So that amount would be subtracted. In addition, employees would have to continue to pay ordinary income tax. Therefore the cost would not be as great as that. At its worst the cost would be $2,700,000.
I think the strong point of the case presented by the honourable member for Maranoa was that we ought to be aiming at the elimination of industrial accidents. He is absolutely right because this is what we ought to be doing. If we can do this - and we must do it - the cost will be nowhere near the figure of $2,700,000. I conclude my remarks by thanking the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) for the co-operation that he has given in this matter. This is an urgent and important Bill and it represents a great step forward. The passing of this legislation will mean that Australia will have moved to the front in the field of compensation. No longer will we be able to point to Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union and say that these are the countries that are leading the world in workers compensation. We have now taken the lead. No other country in the world has a system of workers compensation to compare with ours. This is a very proud position for us to take.
Before concluding my remarks I want to pay proper attention to what the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) did when last year as Minister for Social Services he introduced legislation which for the first time gave Commonwealth employees full pay for a period of 26 weeks. The legislation we are now considering extends the length of time beyond 26 weeks. The great majority of people who are affected by injuries at work usually recover by 26 weeks after which they are back at work again. However, I think it would be remiss of me not to express my appreciation of what the honourable member for Mackellar did last year when he was Minister for Social Services. As I said, this legislation will take the benefits a bit further. At any rate, Australia is now in the forefront. We are leading the world and it is a proud position for Australia to be able to claim. I am very proud that this Bill - this great advance - is to go through with the full co-operation of all parties in the Parliament, and for that I am grateful.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section 25 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after sub-section (11) the following subsection: - (11a) If an employee causes to be furnished to the Commissioner a statutory declaration by him stating that a specified amount was. or specified amounts were, earned by him from employment during a specified period, that declaration is prima facie evidence that that amount was, or those amounts were, so earned by him.’.
– I move:
Omit the clause, substitute the following clause: *7. Section 25 of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (2) the words “is intermittent or”;
by omitting sub-section (9) and substituting the following sub-sections: “(9) Subject to the following provisions of this section, if the minimum amount per week payable to the employee in respect of the employment by the Commonwealth in which he was engaged at the date of the injury is increased, or would if he had continued in that employment have been increased, by reason of -
the attainment by the employee of a particular age;
the completion by the employee of a particular period of service; or
the receipt by the employee of an increase in salary, wages or pay by way of an increment in a range of salary, wages or pay applicable to him or to the office, position or appointment held by him, a reference in this Part to the average weekly earnings of the employee before the injury shall be read as a reference to the amount that is, by virtue of the foregoing provisions of this section, to be taken to be the amount of those average weekly earnings, increased by the same percentage as the percentage by which the minimum amount per week is increased, or would have been increased, as the case may be. “(9a) Subject to the following provisions of this section, if the employee continues after the date of the injury to be employed by the Commonwealth and the minimum amount per week payable to the employee in respect of that employment is increased by reason of the promotion of the employee, a reference In this Part to the average weekly earnings of the employee before the injury shall be read as a reference to the amount that is, by virtue of the foregoing provisions of this section, to be taken to be the amount of those average weekly earnings, increased by the same percentage as the percentage by which the rninimum amount per week payable to the employee is increased by reason of that promotion.”;
by omitting from sub-section (10) the words “Subject to the next succeeding sub-section” and substituting the words “Subject to the following provisions of this section”; and
by inserting after sub-section (11) the following sub-sections: “(Ha) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this section, if the amount of the average weekly earnings of an employee before the injury as calculated in accordance with those provisions would, but for this subsection, exceed -
in the case of an employee who continues to be employed by the Common wealth - the amount per week of the earnings that the employee would receive if the employee were not totally or partially incapacitated for work; or (b) in the case of an employee whose employment by the Commonwealth has ceased by reason of his death or otherwise 7
the amount per week of the earnings that the employee would receive if the employee had continued to be employed by the Commonwealth in the employment in which he was engaged at the date of the injury; or 00 the amount per week of the earnings that the employee would receive if the employee had continued to be employed by the Commonwealth in the employment in which he was engaged at the date when his employment by the Commonwealth ceased, whichever is the greater, the amount so calculated shall be deemed to be reduced by the amount of the excess. “(11b) If an employee causes to be furnished to the Commissioner a statutory declaration by him stating that a specified amount was, or specified amounts were, earned by him from employment during a specified period, that declaration is prima facie evidence that that amount was, or those amounts were, so earned by him.”.’.
I have conferred with the spokesmen for the Country Party and the Liberal Party on this matter. They are both in agreement with the amendment and understand it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to. .
Clauses 8 to 36 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Sections 2 (1), 5 (1) (definitions of ‘Compensation Tribunal’, ‘employee’, ‘the Commissioner’, and ‘the proclaimed date”), 5(8) and (10), 6, 8(2) (b), (c) and (d), 8(4)(b) and (c), 19(4), 23 (3), 25(6), (7) and (9), 27(3),32(3) and (4), 33(1) and (3) (a), 34, 35, 37(5), (6) and (9), 49(3), 51(3) and (4), 52(3), 53(3), 54, 55 (3) (a) and (4), 57(3), 58(1) (a) and (5), 60 (4), 61 (3), (4) and (5), 62 (2), 63 (1), (2), (5), (6), (7) and (8), 72, 74(4), 76(5), 78, 85(5) and (7), 89(e), 92(1) and (2), 97(c), 100(3) (a) and (5), 101(3), 102(1), (2) and (5), 103(5), (6) and (7), 104(3), (6), (9), (10), (11), (12) and (14), 105(2), 107(1), (8) and (9), 108(2) and (3) and 117(3) and (4).
Amendment (by Mr Clyde Cameron) agreed to:
Omit from paragraph 1 the figures and word 25 (6), (7) and (9)’ substitute ‘25 (6) and (7)’.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14th March (vide page 552), on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate on this Bill is resumed I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Excise Bill as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– Both of these Bills have the purpose of making beer produced in the home for non-commercial purposes exempt from excise duty. The present excise leviable by the Commonwealth on beer is about $1.10 a gallon which, when reduced to the excise on each bottle, means that the consumer buying beer at a bottle shop or an hotel is charged about 17c a bottle excise in the current price of something like 44c a bottle. The question of home brew is now before the House. The proposal is to allow beer to be produced or brewed in a home without the payment of excise. The Opposition supports this amendment. I point out that this decision, as the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) pointed out during his speech, is in line with the decisions taken in Great Britain and New Zealand where home brewing has been permitted for many years.
The present system is that beer brewed at home and not sold can be brewed free of excise, provided it is below 2 per cent proof, as it used to be known. One of my acts last year as Minister for Customs and Excise was to bring into this House legislation amending the way in which alcohol was measured. Honourable members might recall that there was an archaic system of measuring the strength of alcohol. I think some of the story has been lost in history, but the word ‘proof came into common usage when a speck of gunpowder was put on the liquid and when it ignited and burst into flame it proved that the alcohol was pretty potent. In that way, the word proof’ came into the language and was adopted generally.
– There are other ways of proving alcohol.
– The Minister might be more expert in those ways than I; I am a temperate and virtuous member of Parliament. The breweries made an estimate some time ago that about 20 million gallons of home brew was produced in Australian homes each year. Although I am not a suspicious man, I could almost be persuaded to believe that not one gallon of that 20 mollion gallons was below 2 per cent proof. Therefore, the Act became rather farcical, unenforceable and unpoliceable.
I believe that it would be un-Australian and would be regarded as such by the Australian people to expect Customs officers to burst into a home where it was reasonably suspected that the householder was making his own home brew. At the excise rate of $1.10 a gallon, if the brewery estimate of 20 million gallons is correct there is a theoretical loss to revenue of more than $20m each year. I say that it is theoretical because if such beer is being produced at the moment - we believe it is - the excise is not now being collected. The only manner in which it could be collected would be for the Department of Customs and Excise to add an army of enforcers to its staff to police this law, and we do not believe that to be economical or desirable for the reasons that I have mentioned.
In recent years beer has undergone the phenomenon that almost everything else, from divorce to other matters, has undergone, namely, the production of do it yourself kits. There has been a flush of various do it yourself kits for home brewed beer which, I suspect, has resulted in the astronomical rise in sales of plastic dustbins which has been reflected in retail sales figures. Happily for government revenue, the pattern seems to be that a householder can get his bottles free in the form of the empties that he has after buying bottled beer from the brewery or the hotel and drinking it. He saves himself 17c a bottle in excise and suddenly it seems to be a lucrative proposition for him to brew beer at home either in his plastic dustbin or, to the consternation of his wife, in the enamel bath. However, for many reasons, the lustre of this exercise seems to lose a little of its keenness after a time and experience seems to be that many people who come into this venture with a burst of enthusiasm soon lose that enthusiasm and are queueing up at the bottle shop after a month or two of experimentation.
For those reasons we believe that the measure is a wise one. It is in line with comparable legislation in other countries. Alternative legislation could not be policed and the existing legislation has never been policed except when breaches have been reported to the Department of Customs and Excise. My friend the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) is not in the chamber but I would like to put a personal view. One looks at the justice of the complete removal of excise from wine while beer drinkers still pay excise of 17c a bottle. The equity of that action has never quite been described to me. I have never been persuaded on it. Further, I have never quite been persuaded about a party which is the self-confessed champion of the workers but insists that a worker pay excise of 17c on each battle of beer he drinks while an executive having his bottle of wine in a plush restaurant drinks it excise free. With those remarks the Opposition supports the Bill.
– I wish to raise one or two points about this Bill which deals with the excise duty on beer produced for non-commercial purposes. I believe that it is a discriminatory Bill, but at the same time it is clear that any alternative legislation would be impracticable. It is rather a strange set-up. In this case we are supporting the principle of discrimination against the majority in favour of the few. I am somewhat perturbed at legislation which encourages the production of alcoholic drinks brewed in other than recognised premises. I am referring, to use the old expression, to home brew. It is a novelty for a man to produce a brew that is acceptable to his friends. He may create some enjoyment in that way. But I am concerned about the long term results. I think immediately of the effect on health.
Many honourable members will remember that during World War II servicemen who could not secure sufficient alcoholic liquor decided to produce their own. On numerous occasions they had a certain amount of success but on other occasions adverse effects resulted. In many instances people suffered rather badly. I have a vivid recollection of being a patient in a hospital where no fewer than 12 servicemen were admitted after consuming home brew. Unfortunately, 4 other drinkers did not make the hospital as they lost their lives after drinking that home brew. That is why I am showing some concern this evening about encouraging the production of alcoholic liquor outside normal premises.
On the discriminatory side one immediately thinks about people who purchase their beer from the normal sources. They contribute substantially to revenue by paying about 19c excise on each bottle of beer. As a result the Commonwealth collects in revenue about $400m a year. That is no mean figure. The excise collected on other alcoholic beverages is somewhat small by comparison. The revenue collected from excise on whisky each year is about $4. 6m; brandy $ 10.7m: rum $6. 3m; and gin $3m. Recently the Parliament removed the excise payable on wine. I might well ask why that was done. Do we discriminate in favour of some as against others? The honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), who is at the table, referred to that aspect. The Government now in office prides itself on equality.
– Come off it.
– Yes, you do. Government supporters are always talking about equality, but on this sort of issue I cannot see that they are motivated by equality. Government supporters pride themselves on representing the worker who has a daily glass of beer at a hotel on his way home from work.
– It shows what you know about workers. I have never known one who would stop at a glass.
– I do not think there is any need for me to answer that interjection. The Minister has explained my point. If Government supporters represent that type of person I cannot see why the Government is discriminating against him. I could go on at some length on these issues but I simply ask honourable members to note the points I have raised. I believe that there could be great dangers in encouraging the production of home brew through the removal of excise. The Government is saying, in effect: ‘Produce it as cheaply as you like, fellows. There is no limit to it.’
I am reminded of an article I read recently in local newspapers by a writer calling himself ‘A Modest Member’. The article was written following inquiries of the writer by some of his friends about the operations of a neighbour in a little building outside his premises. He and his mates decided that they would conduct a raid on what they called Fred’s office’. He described the raid as follows:
But when we forced our way in, we found, not an office, but the most weird and wonderful home brewing outfit ever seen.
There was an old bath bubbling quietly to itself. There were shelves of assorted bottles, some with corks tied down with string, some with heavy weights on top of the seals. There were jars of yeast and tins of sugar wilh ants laying siege. There were mouldy marks on the ceiling where bottles had blown their tops. There were petrol funnels, bits of gauze, there was a bit of almost everything.
I will say this for Fred, he wasn’t mean with us after the dust had settled. When we agreed to sample some of his homework he put on his mask to protect him if a bottle exploded, and stealthfully approached a particular batch of bottles. He reverently lifted one down, stood it in a china wash basin and advised us to stand clear. Then he bravely took the top off and managed to catch quite a lot of beer in the basin as it came down. It wasn’t long before we had enough in the basin to start. We tasted it. You couldn’t really say it was like the bought beer, but it was, well, interesting, and it would make a rabbit fight a bulldog.
That is one of the reasons why I criticise this Bill.
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
– We have heard some rabbit. What about the bulldog?
– I would like to speak in support of the amendment that the Government is making in removing the excise from home made beer. I would like to congratulate the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) for perhaps the smartest comment I have heard him make in 6i years. It is wonderful what office does to some individuals. I would like to take up the point raised by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), the former Minister for Customs and
Excise, in referring to the discrimination displayed by the new Government in removing completely, by regulation in the (first couple of weeks of its coming to power, the excise on wine. The honourable member for Hotham pointed out to the Minister that the new Government has introduced a measure that makes it easier for the businessman with an expense account to entertain and drink wine and yet continues the high tax imposed on those people who enjoy the very humble drink - I must confess that as a worker I like it too - beer. Might I say, while I am standing up for the worker, that the XXXX beer in Brisbane is probably one of the best beers one is ever likely to taste in Australia, and it is a pity that the excise on beer continues to make it more difficult for the people of the south to enjoy the superior drink. Getting back to the main point, I believe the new Government altered the regulations to remove the excise on wine at a time when they did not need altering.
– Do you mean that you wanted to keep the excise on wine?
– The honourable member for Riverina popped in here 3 years ago-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! He is the Minister for Immigration.
– Is he? He wears many caps, but looking at him in that wine coloured suit, it is not an unfair comparison. He could be the wine coloured suit man or the Minister for Immigration, but I will always know him as the bubbling, popping member for Riverina. The Government introduced this measure to placate the honourable member for Riverina - the Minister for Immigration. It came after I had sat in this Parliament long enough to have beard arguments from both sides of the House on the matter and after I had heard the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), when we were in Government, campaigning strongly against the former Government’s decision to introduce the wine excise. The Liberal Government halved that excise and I did not note the advantage to the consumer. The new Government has removed the excise completely and still I do not see any advantage to the consumer.
– The price has gone up.
– It has gone up.
– As the honourable member for Hotham and the honourable member for Balaclava remind me - perhaps they indulge a little more than I- prices have gone up. The Government removed the wine excise on the ground that the wine industry had been severely affected by the imposition of this tax.
– I think we had better keep our remarks relevant to the Bill.
– I am making a comparison between the way the wine drinker has been treated and the way the beer drinker has been treated. The situation was that the Government wrote into its policy months ago the sections relating to the removal of wine excise at a time when it appeared that perhaps the wine growers were suffering a little as a result of the imposition of the wine tax. But what happened was that the wine industry continued to expand, and those big combines which the Government so severely criticises as being monopolistic recognise the wine industry as an area of investment. Yet at a time when the big companies are investing millions in taking over small wine growers the new Government is doing nothing to stop them. The new Government in removing the wine excise is not only discriminating against the beer drinker but also is making it more profitable for those big companies and combines which wish to invest their money in the wine growing industry. I am not one to step in and trample on local investment, but what I say is that I do not believe that the welfare of every beer drinker in Australia who wants to buy a bottle should be put below that of the sectional interests of the Minister for Immigration. He was a fairly vociferous advocate in this Parliament for the abolition of the wine excise and obviously had an effect on his Party.
I ask the new Government whether it is fair to discriminate between wine drinkers, whether they make their wine at home or purchase the manufactured product made at the winery, and beer drinkers. While I freely acknowledge the benefits of this change which is presently before the House, I ask the Government how in all conscience, as a Party which pretends to be the champion of the workers, it can go along with the continuation of a 17c a bottle excise on beer bought across the counter by the worker. Perhaps the honourable member for Hotham, the former Minister, might be able to tell me how much of the 20c charged for a glass of beer goes to this new Government to help it to finance the removal of the excise from manufactured wine.
– It is 3c or 4c.
– Is it that low?
– That is for a glass.
-It must be a pretty small glass. In conclusion, I would like to make one comment about my experience in Jamaica. When in that country I bought some Australian wine.
– That is rum country.
– Rum was available. Obviously some members of this House enjoy-
-Order! I think we would get on better with fewer interjections.
– The point I was making is that some of our wine manufacturers are exporting overseas - and I found this so in Jamaica - the very dregs of the Australian production. In that country I found that the Australian wine industry possessed a very low reputation. Granted this was the beginning of 1970, but the wine industry has an obligation to ensure that the reputation of this country is upheld by not simply dumping some of our rubbish in other countries. If it is not good enough for home consumption my view is that it is not good enough to bottle or even to sell. Again I congratulate the Government on introducing this measure to give the home brewer of beer a fair go, but I ask the Government to remember that it is discriminatory in its application and that not everybody is capable of brewing his own beer at home. The Government is continuing the past practice of taking a big percentage of the price of every glass of beer from the people it claims to champion.
– I rise to welcome this measure because it was one that I sought while in Opposition. I found that there was persecution, if you like, of the modest home brewer. Of course, it was in accordance with the law, but there were visits by excise officers.
– What do you mean by ‘persecution’? How many prosecutions were there?
– There were prosecutions. I made representations to the honourable member for Hotham when he was Minister for
Customs and Excise. They are on file at present. I pleaded with him that action be taken. The letters are on file and I was proud to make those representations. I am particularly pleased that the Government is taking action to do something which I am sure the honourable member for Hotham wanted to do himself but in respect of which, under the weight of the Cabinet at the time, I have no doubt his voice was lost. That is all I wanted to say in relation to my own efforts. The point 1 make is that there was, in the case of the modest home brewer, the fear of a knock on the door in the middle of the night or perhaps in the early morning and his modest apparatus being the subject of very close scrutiny by the visiting officers. This, of course, would be upsetting to most fair minded members of the Parliament.
Despite the fact that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) has been riding a bicycle in two directions at once this evening - that is very difficult even under the influence of home brew - I believe that all honourable members opposite support the Government on this occasion. Of course, it has become a tactic to say: ‘The Government’s action is all right, except that . . .’.I do not think that there should be any qualification at all about this Bill. An honourable member is either for a tax on home brew or he is not. Let us be clear about this. I say clearly and definitely that the Government has taken the action that was sought by very many people. It has taken action which is fair. As a matter of fact, it is interesting to look at the brief on this subject and to find that the cost of home brewed beer is 7c a bottle and that the Opposition’s sturdy freedom fighters for the workers seem to be defending the right of the worker not to have home brew at 7c but to buy commercial beer for 42c a bottle. It seemed to me that that was the impression that was given.
– Name one Opposition speaker who said that. You are being very careless with the truth this evening.
– The honourable member says that I am being careless with the truth. I have been listening to the opposition to this measure. An honourable member is either for it or against it. I suggest that the honourable member choose his words more carefully. Honourable members have been talking about the worker calling for his beer on the way home. There has not been much praise for this measure which the Government has introduced. There is such a thing as damning a thing with faint praise, and I think that is what honourable members opposite have been doing this evening. It has been a pretty poor performance. After all, if they are opposed to the Bill they should say so and vote against it.
Some honourable members opposite have linked their remarks on this Bill with references to the wine tax. I must make passing reference to the references members of the Opposition were permitted to make. It has been suggested that there was something discriminatory in lifting a tax which had been imposed by the previous Government on the only viable and sound industry that it had left in the countryside after its recent disastrous reign. This was the wine grape industry. The wine grape industry was not in trouble until the. Government got to it. When it did, it immediately applied an excise against the advice of its own people, against the cautions of its own advisers, against the wishes of the industry, and against the advice of the Australian Wine Board. The unanimous advice to the then Government was not to impose an excise, but the Government would not take that advice and it imposed the excise. Of course, it found that there was some trouble as a result. The predictions of trouble were coming true; so the previous Government, bending a little with the wind - the wind that was blowing was a pretty critical one - halved the excise.
– It is nothing like what is blowing now.
– I did not hear the emission of wind from the honourable member who interjected. I am quite willing to hear his interjections at any time and to deal with them on their merits. However, I must say that it is strange to have the Opposition almost pleading that there should be a raising of taxes on a beverage. This seems to mc to be the tenor of the remarks. Do Opposition members suggest that we should not have removed the wine tax? They had the opportunity to vote against that proposal when it came before the Parliament, but they did not do so. It seems to me that they are. trying to ride a bicycle in 2 directions at the one time. They should make up their minds on exactly what they want. Did the Opposition want us to retain the wine tax?
– Did the honourable member for Griffith say yes? If he did, I respect him for his courage in the face of common sense. I will give the honourable member the opportunity to express himself clearly. I have been listening intently to this debate and I gained the impression that the Government was being criticised for lifting the wine tax. I gained the impression that the Government was being criticised for lifting the tax on home brewed beer. If that is what the criticism amounts to, let honourable members opposite say so clearly and definitely.
– There has been no benefit to the buyers of wine.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member for Griffith will cease interjecting.
– What is incredible is that the criticisms which have been made about the wine tax have been continued. I accept the point made by the honourable member for Griffith. As a matter of fact, it was a good one. He points out that there was been an upward spiral in the cost of wine. That is so. It is because of this sort of thing that the Government is giving serious attention to prices. There will be an opportunity for the honourable member and other members of the Opposition to-
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– Can I finish the sentence?
– There have been 2 members of the Opposition-
– It is not fair. There are only 3 Government supporters present.
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Boothby that if be wishes to speak in the debate he should rise in his place when the Minister has resumed bis seat. If he does not want to speak, I suggest that he remain silent.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, my point of order is that we are dealing with excise on one commodity and the Minister for Immigration is talking about another commodity. I appreciate that he said that it was a passing reference, but that was some minutes ago. I suggest that it is time he came back to the Bill and told us why-
-Order! The honourable member is taking a point of order; he must not debate the question.
– I am not debating it. I want to bring the Minister back to the Bill.
-Order! The Chair allows some tolerance in debate. The matters which are being referred to by the Minister have been raised previously in the debate and they are fairly closely related matters.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The point of order was quite frivolous, as you have ruled, and I am surprised at the honourable member for Wimmera because normally he has an innate sense of fair play.
– He certainly is not frivolous as a rule.
– No, not really. I would never have thought that of him. I am somewhat hurt this evening that, on this issue, after making his contribution and referring to all these matters including the matter of the wine tax and perhaps questioning the stand taken by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), he should take a point of order. All I can say, more in sorrow than in anger, is that he should at least be able to sit for a moment or two and listen to the facts in relation to an industry which, of course, he harmed by his vote which enabled the imposition of an excise which hurt the industry.
Before I was interrupted I was referring to the fact that there has been an upward movement in prices and that this is a matter of grave concern to all of us who are in government. It is not only on this one matter but on a whole range of matters. There has been price racketeering in our country. In respect of beverages there has been some fancy racketeering. This is known to anyone who drops in, perhaps without being properly briefed, on some of the places, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, which can best be described as clip joints. The prices bear very little relationship to the product and very little relationship to what the grower receives. I think it is time that we had an examination of the justice of these things. If the honourable member raises these points in a spirit of frivolity I accept them in the spirit of seriousness.
Much has been made of this measure which seems to me to be a very fair one, a very just one and one of common sense. 1 feel that the Government stands in good light and is in good standing with the whole of the community for removing something which was obnoxious, which did not yield very much to the coffers and which was an impost on a few enterprising people who attempted to do something for themselves in the interests of their families and friends. I conclude by lifting a glass of good Riverina red not only to the wine industry but also, figuratively speaking, to the home brewers. God bless them all. The Government has done the right thing by them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14 March (vide page 552), on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14 March (vide page 553), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition welcomes and supports this Bill. The greatest single need of the Papua New Guinea transport system is the extension and improvement of the roads system into at least a minimum network connecting major population, production and resource areas to each other and to the outside world. This loan will assist to some extent in meeting this need. It provides for a guarantee by the Commonwealth for a borrowing in various currencies equivalent to $US9.8m or $A6.9m by the Govern ment of Papua New Guinea from the Asian Development Bank. I pause to state a small but important point, namely, that although the definition clause of the Bill defines the administration as the ‘Administration or Government of Papua New Guinea’, the speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and his Letter of Assurances contained in Schedule 1 and the Loan Agreement contained in Schedule 2 refers solely to the Administration. It is perhaps a minor point but nevertheless while Papua New Guinea has not yet reached the formal stage of self government it is virtually that now, and perhaps it is time at least in Ministers’ speeches if not in the legislation, to refer to the government of Papua New Guinea as just that.
The proceeds of the loan will assist in financing a highway project in Papua New Guinea. The project involves 2 highways together with the consultancy services for both. This field of governmental activity is a matter of joint Papua New Guinea and Commonwealth responsibility. The initiation of projects for international loan proposals falls within the authority of the Papua New Guinea Minister responsible, in this case Mr Julius Chan, by virtue of the Loans and Assistance (International Agencies) Ordinance 1971 No. 52, while the Commonwealth Government formally guarantees such loans from international agencies. Pursuant to this arrangement an Asian Development Bank appraisal mission visited Papua New Guinea last year for a first hand examination of the proposed highway projects. This agreement follows from that examination. Papua New Guinea, of course, became a member of the Asian Development Bank in April 1971 following qualifying associate membership of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. A previous loan was negotiated with the Asian Development Bank in December 1971 for the Papua New Guinea Development Bank for general lending operations and this loan was guaranteed also by the Commonwealth.
I want to mention the wording used in the Letter of Assurances. So far as the Commonwealth’s guarantee is concerned, on this occasion it appears to me by reading the Letter of Assurances contained in Schedule 1 of the Bill to be similar to the clause guaranteeing the previous Asian Development Bank loan for the Papua New Guinea Development Bank. Evidently the Asian Development Bank is more relaxed about guarantees than the World Bank which insists that the loans be guaranteed until repaid. In clause 1 of the Letter of Assurances the following words appear:
Until such time as Papua New Guinea assumes responsibility for its own international relations. . . .
Then are set out certain Australian responsibilities in 3 sub-clauses. I believe I am correctly interpreting the words quoted as meaning ‘until independence’. Perhaps it would be better to say just that. In clause 5 the following words appear:
Australia will use its best endeavours to ensure the continuing security of the Loan and the smooth devolution of responsibility with respect thereto.
This tends to connote, to me at least, a devolution of responsibility for the guarantee. Yet I believe this is probably not meant. I mention these only because they are not necessarily expressed with precision and perhaps expressing them without precision may well have been the intent. The Minister referred in his speech to the borrowings carrying an automatic guarantee by virtue of the operation of section 75a of the Papua New Guinea Act 1949-71 but, of course, such a guarantee can never be interpreted as a firm continuing guarantee for the simple reason that the section could be amended at any time, thus occasioning the guarantee to disappear.
I am aware that the Treasurer in January this year gave an assurance that the Commonwealth guarantee will continue on all loans in existence at independence until they are repaid. This means that the loan is also guaranteed by virtue of the statement of policy but the question arises whether loans negotiated after the date of independence as distinct from those existing at that date will receive any guarantee from the Commonwealth. I am sure that such a matter will need to be clarified in line with the continuing aid programs to Papua New Guinea during 1973-76. However, I well understand if the Minister for Externa] Territories (Mr Morrison) who is at the table now, or the Treasurer, is unable to comment on this matter until after further discussions on aid programs have been held with the Papua New Guinea Government. But the matter is important and I would like to receive information on it in due course.
I assume the now normal practice has occurred and that Papua New Guinea has made the choice of currencies and that we have endorsed it. Under the transferred power this after all is Papua New Guinea’s right. 1 am delighted that Papua New Guinea has received the assurances of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) regarding long term aid to Papua New Guinea. The nature of this aid has yet to be determined and it is worth reiterating what I have said on previous occasions as Minister for External Territories, that few independent countries, even developed countries, are really wholly independent of other states. Dependency may result from trade ties, reliance on capital for investment, lack of vital raw materials, the need for defence arrangements or the need for technical assistance. If there are to be changes in Australia’s aid pattern after independence these need to be considered and agreed to before then. Some of the questions to be answered include the extent to which financial aid should be fully on a project basis or whether, as is the case now, some of it should be devoted to supporting an annual or multi-annual program of expenditure; whether there should continue to be an oversight of project aid; whether Papua New Guinea projects will continue to have preferential access to the Australian market; and. as mentioned tonight, whether Commonwealth assistance by way of guarantee of Papua New Guinea’s international loans and through encouragement of investment will continue.
I know that the question of aid is a matter to which the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) has given close attention. This was shown by his performance as a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs when it was considering the matter of aid. I am sure that he is directing his attention to this matter and is considering some of the questions I have just posed. Other countries may well wish to direct some portion of their overseas aid towards Papua New Guinea. On this matter I assume that the attitude of the Government of Papua New Guinea would depend on many factors which it would weigh up at the appropriate time. Obviously, one of these factors will be the terms and conditions of such assistance. But, speaking personally, I see no reason why Papua New Guinea should not welcome assistance from other donors. There may even be occasions when Australia and another country undertake to assist a Papua New Guinea project together. Certainly some of Papua New Guinea’s natural resources have such a potential that their development might best be financed by such an arrangement. A good example could be the massive hydro-electric potential of the Purari River. However, the prime motivating factor is naturally the attitude of the Papua New Guinea Government. But there is an increasing tendency in the sphere of international aid for a number of countries to join together in a consultative group to place their assistance to a particular under-developed country on a well-planned basis. Therefore, it is not impossible to imagine such an arrangement being made with an independent Papua New Guinea.
Australia is now withdrawing from Papua New Guinea. Although we will continue to assist, increasingly the brunt of decision making will be with Papua New Guinea’s own leaders - and so it should be. It is not our country but theirs. It is not our future but theirs. The present Government in Papua New Guinea has shown how capably it can administer its affairs. There can be no doubt that the next few years are the most important to the future of Papua New Guinea. It is the time of decision and of actions that set the course of a new society. I believe that, above all countries with which we are associated, Papua New Guinea needs special consideration as it moves through selfgovernment, independence and beyond. Our relationship is changing as we discard the former relationship of administering authority and administered country. So far this process has been achieved without bitterness or recriminations from either party. On the contrary, the relations between our 2 countries have been soundly based on goodwill and trust. The fact that independence is coming will not mean an end to our assistance or indeed to our association. The events of history and geography have dictated that our 2 countries must have a close relationship. We are too important to each other for it to be otherwise and not to be to the detriment of both countries. The Opposition supports the Bill.
-! also rise to support this Bill which has an interesting genesis. It goes back some years originally to the missions sent by the International Bank which at that time recommended particularly the building of a road from the coast at Lae up to Goroka to open up the inner highland region which contains about one-half of the population of Papua New Guinea. This advice and consultation resulted in the building of a gravel road as far as Goroka. It was opened in 196S. This proposal will update and improve the Goroka highway and the other highway to the Mekeo , area, giving access to the Port Moresby market. The resulting economic expansion which should follow from the opening up and improvement of these 2 highways should make a very marked difference to the economy of Papua New Guinea.
In September 1972 the Asian Development Bank reviewed the project, examined it and approved the granting of these loans. Papua New Guinea entered the Asian Development Bank in 1971. It was the 36th member. So far no-one has mentioned the importance from the point of view of Papua New Guinea of its being admitted and becoming ah independent member of that organisation. Towards the end of last year a committee appointed by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs examined this question of Australia’s overseas aid. Many of the meetings were chaired by the Present Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison). One of the recommendations made by this body was that an increasing proportion of Australia’s overseas aid should be given in multilateral form and relatively less in bilateral form. This is very apposite to the loan we are discussing. The Asian Development Bank, apart from its importance to Papua New Guinea and apart from’ Papua New Guinea’s importance to us, has a very direct importance to Australia’s interests and participation in the South East Asian area. We are interested in a general way in the success of that institution and its workings which are in our interests in promoting the development of our own area. Particularly in these countries it brings a multilateral treatment to their problems.
There are considerable practical advantages in this approach. As it is a multilateral iii :titution which is dealing with these matters, there is no question of a particular country following its own bilateral interests. It becomes an institution which is run and gradually accumulates experienced staff which knows the problems of the particular area concerned. Besides having this general expertise, it is able to assess properly the priority that should be given to different projects. This, of course, does not necessarily flow from the bilateral form of aid. Countries normally are interested in a particular area and in putting forward their own point of view in that area. So finance and help of this kind from the Asian Development Bank has a value to Papua New Guinea in its own right and in the Bank’s own right, which is helpful from everybody’s point of view. Also it has considerable advantages over bilateral support directly from Australia or from any other single country.
This multilateral approach to developmental problems was dealt with very well in a supplement on Australia’s foreign aid in the March edition of the Bank of New South Wales circular. That publication pointed out something which was emphasised by the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development - that is, of untying particular bilateral aid so that it is not available in specific countries only, and moving over gradually and progressively to a multilateral approach towards aid. Aid which comes from multilateral institutions does not excite all the odium of colonialism and the peddling of particular interests which in the past have attached themselves to many aspects of foreign aid. There is attached to the totality of this matter another aspect of interest which should be supported by Australia. The Asian Development Bank should be well known but, if anything, it could be accused of hiding its light under a bushel. I will read what is said in the Bank’s 1971 report. The last available report is for the year 1971. Not even a single copy of the 1972 report has yet reached the office of the Treasurer let alone the Parliamentary Library so that it may be available generally to honourable members. In the 1971 report this remark is made by the President:
The ability to raise funds in the capital markets is, of course, of vital importance to the Bank’s future and the foundations of future borrowing on a sustained and more substantial scale were further strengthened during 1971.
The report goes on to say that the Bank borrowed $12 1.7m in that year, just over SI 01m of which was in 5 public issues which were made in Austria, Belgium, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, plus private placement of $20m with central banks and government agencies in the region.
Since we have now begun to talk about our own credit status, our good payments position and so forth, it is high time that the Australian market was open to the Asian Development Bank for the raising of loans and the floating of bonds. In fact, this is one of the recommendations contained in the report on foreign aid presented by the Joint Committee on
Foreign Affairs. I hope that the influence of the ex-members of that Committee, such as the Minister for Science and External Territories and those who are now in the Cabinet, will be brought to bear in this direction because this is some way in which we can help the Asian Development Bank and in so doing help ourselves, because the advantage of this process would not only help to divert resources to the Asian Development Bank but also operations in an area in which we have a very close interest. In the process it does mean too that the Asian Development Bank, its bonds and its operations, become known to the people who operate systematically and regularly in the Australian money market. If the bonds and operations become well known in Australia, this will not only improve the knowledge that our own people have of the Asian Development Bank but it will also interest people, far and wide, in economic development in our region. This is a step which I think most of us who look at the whole of this objectively will agree that Australia is now ready to take.
Two years ago I had the pleasure when attending the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank to promise in the name of Australia a gift of $10m to the special funds of this institution, the special funds being provided to furnish soft loans of the kind of which the loan in this legislation is an example. As the Treasurer in the next few weeks will be taking off for the next annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank, I suggest to him and to the Cabinet that one of best ways of bringing to this meeting some goods news from Australia would be to tell the Bank that henceforth the Australian capital market will be open to float bonds of the Asian Development Bank. If the Treasurer wants further confirmation of this, I refer him again to the report on foreign aid presented by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. If he looks at this report and considers the whole question I suggest that this is something that he could do. In the process I am sure that it would provide the very welcome news to the other countries who are members, and the Bank itself, that the Australian market henceforth will be open to their borrowing.
– It is rather a joy to be involved in a debate in which there is complete harmony on both sides. I think this is a result of the joint party approach in this
House to the developments in Papua New Guinea and also to such international institutions as the Asian Development Bank. This is the second loan negotiated by the Papua New Guinea Government. I stress, in response to a query by the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), that it is on behalf of the Papua New Guinea Government that these loans are negotiated. Of course we had to provide guarantees, and the Australian Government has indicated that it will provide guarantees for all loans entered into on behalf of Papua New Guinea through to independence. The Asian Development Bank, as honourable members opposite have pointed out, is one of 4 international bodies of which Papua New Guinea has become a member. The other organisations are the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the World Health Organisation and the South Pacific Conference.
Papua New Guinea became a member of the Asian Development Bank back in 1971. I think this is important because what the previous Administration did under the honourable member for Kooyong, who was a Minister, and what we are doing now is to provide an international identity for Papua New Guinea. This is not only in advance of independence; it is also in advance of selfgovernment. Each decision that we are now making in terms of self-government is being looked at from the point of view of the impact that it will have on Papua New Guinea in terms of independence. By the time we come to self-government, which the previous Government decided would be granted on 1st December 1973 and which we fully supported, and before Papua New Guinea gains independence it will in fact have an international identity. We regard this as a very important manifestation of our policy towards Papua New Guinea. In terms of Asian Development Bank loans, as honourable members opposite are very well aware, there are 2 types of loans. The first is the ordinary funds which are made available on normal commercial conditions and terms. The second, the one that we attach a great deal of importance to, is the special funds. The report of the Committee to which the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) referred paid special attention to the approach that Australia should take in international aid to the special fund provisions of the Asian Development Bank.
The legislation we are discussing tonight relates to a loan for the construction of a high way in Papua New Guinea. As all honourable members will understand, particularly those who have been to Papua New Guinea, it is highly important for the development of the country that access to the very remote areas in Papua New Guinea should be made easily available. The advantage that flows from Papua New Guinea being involved in loans from other organisations, particularly the multilateral organisations, is that it does supplement Australian aid. Nobody could say that Australia can provide the totality of the aid that Papua New Guinea will need in the future. We consider - I think I can speak here on behalf of the Opposition too -that Papua New Guinea and Australia have a special relationship. Certainly to my mind this calls for special conditions and a continuance of the special relationship. We would not want to stand in the way - moreover, we would not want to be seen to stand in the way - of Papua New Guinea receiving aid from other countries. We have, as the honourable member for Kooyong mentioned, indicated that Australian aid would be a continuing aid commitment. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during his recent visit to Papua New Guinea indicated that we will undertake a 3-year program starting in the budget period of 1974-75. We regard this as important because Papua New Guinea will need to have certain conditions that are known to it so that it can structure its own budgeting arrangements.
The honourable member for Kooyong mentioned the concept of project aid. I think it is important that the budgeting processes in Papua New Guinea be revised. It was not very long ago that the Permanent Head of the Department of Finance in Papua New Guinea - the Treasurer - indicated that the budgeting arrangements in Papua New Guinea were 50 years out of date. I am glad that he as the officer responsible there said that because it was a thought that struck me over the years in discussions we have had in this House on the Papua New Guinea budget. It is a very unsophisticated and simple budget, but it was tailored to the needs of a colony. As Papua New Guinea approaches self-government and independence it is very necessary that the structuring of the budget - the budgetary practices - in Papua New Guinea be changed. One of the areas of change which the Government has sought to encourage and to which we have had favourable response is the division in the budget roughly into two areas - recurrent expenditure and the development program.
I think this is important because if Papua New Guinea is to attract aid from other countries, it should have a development budget - in Papua New Guinea it is called, in general terms, an improvement budget - so that foreign countries can attach themselves to projects that are thrown up in the improvement program. This is certainly the form of approach that the Japanese Government has adopted in aid to the less developed countries and it is a form that many other countries will follow.
The Government will attach itself to this notion, but because Australia has had a very long association with Papua New Guinea it will not be in strict and inflexible terms. So these changes will take place. We will be looking towards an improvement or development budget and a change in the budgetary systems in Papua New Guinea, and we will be looking towards a definition in the Budget of projects that will open the way for assistance from the developing countries in aid to Papua New Guinea.
The particular project that is under discussion in the House at present is the upgrading, realignment and sealing of 75 miles of the Highlands Highway. As the previous speaker has pointed out, this is an area of very dense population and the access which this road will provide for the sending out of goods and products will be invaluable to the meal and subsistence farmers in that area. I should like to apologise to the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) who directed a question to someone else the other day. I was told, nine-tenths of the way through the question, that I was the Minister responsible for answering it. In essence the question was why the present Australian Government was forcing Papua New Guinea to borrow its loan funds from overseas and limiting Australia’s contribution to a ‘miserly’ $10m. The point is that the Government is not forcing Papua New Guinea into world loan markets in preference to assistance from the Australian Government, but I think it is important for all honourable members to realise that there are advantages for Papua New Guinea in seeking loans from overseas to finance part of its expenditure. In the first instance these supplement Australian aid and Papua New Guinea revenue and increase the financial resources available to Papua New Guinea. The second point is that it is important for Papua New Guinea to establish itself on the world loan market. It is important that it establish itself at this time because Australia can still provide the guarantee. If we leave it much longer Papua New Guinea will have difficulties in entering the international loan market if it cannot provide the sort of guarantees that Australia can provide. I think Papua New Guinea will build up its credit worthiness as a borrower through this process.
I notice the honourable member for Balaclava has just entered the chamber. I apologise to him for the irrelevance, perhaps, of my answer to him, but I think it is very important that Papua New Guinea now entering into the international loan market and becoming an international identity is to be recognised in the international loan market. We regard this as one of the important objectives in bringing Papua New Guinea to independence smoothly. It has to establish a reputation in the international loan market and the only way it can do this is by borrowing on the international market.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim that I was misrepresented by the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland). On 4th April 1973 in the course of the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) the honourable member for Curtin said that the .Minister - that was myself - was comparing the number of electors on the roll of an upper House seat with the number of electors on the roll of 8 lower House seats under the distribution for the upper House agreed to without dissent by the Australian Labor Party. In the course of my speech I specifically said things which differentiated between the upper and lower
Houses in their distribution in Western Australia. I said the vote in a metropolitan seat in the lower House there had a value of one; a country seat had a value of 3; and a north west seat had a value of 6. In the Western Australian upper House a metroplitan seat had a value of one; a country seat had a value of 3; and north west seat had a value of 12. The upper House seats have multiple members. I did not say there was that distribution in the House. I said it could arise that a person representing an electorate of 80,000 had 8 members representing much fewer. Small country upper House electorates of 9,000 could have 3 members for each seat and in 3 country seats there could be 9 members -I said 8 - representing fewer people than a person from one of the large metropolitan seats.
The honourable member for Curtin suggested that I was misrepresenting the situation when I said that at the last State election in Western Australia the Liberal Party won 29.3 per cent of the vote and the Australian Country Party won 5 per cent of the vote, and with 34.3 per cent of the vote between them they lost the election by only one seat. He said that this was misrepresentation because it was a coalition and where a Liberal Minister stood a Country Party member did not oppose him, and vice versa. But the aggregate of their votes adding up to 34.3 per cent does not invalidate my argument. Presumably where there was no Country Party candidate the Country Party voter voted for the Liberal candidate and where there was no Liberal Party candidate the Liberal Party voter voted tor the Country Party candidate. However the honourable member should take the trouble to look at The 1968 Federal Redistribution’ by Malcolm Mackerras, he will see that he uses the Dauer-Kelsay index of representativeness. The Dauer-Kelsay index of representativeness points out that a party could win government in Western Australia with 33.1 per cent of the vote at the election that took place on that occasion. So, even if. as the honourable member suggested, there were certain seats that the Liberal Party did not contest, it does not invalidate my argument and I did not misrepresent the situation. In fact if the Liberal Party left a Labor seat unopposed it would not be calling out on polling day a very large Labor vote in a safe Labor seat, and that in fact would be a reinforcement of my argument. But quite apart from that particular accidental vote of that election, the Dauer-Kelsay index pointed out that one could govern Western Australia on 33.1 per cent of the vote in the Lower House of that State. I was not misrepresenting the situation.
Motion (by Mr Morrison) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to take up a matter that is of some personal concern to me. It is a case in which a decision was made late in the life of the previous Government. However, I am still in some doubt whether the decisions taken at that time apply under the new Government and whether the present Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) intends to carry on along the line of thought suggested in this case by the previous Postmaster-General.
The matter to which I refer goes back to June 1971 when I wrote to the then Postmaster-General arguing that the householder service for advertisements for industry was an unfair degree of competition against the provincial Press in that it deprived some provincial newspapers of their traditional role of gathering advertisements to help them to meet their budgets. In other words, this loss of revenue from advertising represented a big slice of their budget. The then PostmasterGeneral and his Department did not entirely agree with me. The cross fire of letters on this matter went on for something like 21/2 years. I have stuck to my argument with the aid of the editors of my local newspapers such as the ‘Angaston Leader’, the ‘Pinnaroo Border Times’, the ‘Murray Pioneer’, and the ‘Murray Standard’. Mr Hann of the ‘Loxton News’, who is the President of the Provincial Press Association of South Australia wrote to me on 28th September 1972 and outlined what I thought was an extraordinary good case when he pointed out the absurdity of some of the degree of competition that applied to the provincial Press in its endeavours to compete with the householder service. In that letter he said:
At present, postal regulations provide for any supplement to a registered newspaper to carry an imprint, being the name of the paper and the date e.g. ‘Supplement to the Loxton News, September 21. 1972’.
If a chain store wished to advertise in such a supplement throughout eight or nine provincial newspapers, no matter how small those newspapers were, the regulations at that time meant that quite ridiculous degrees of high cost endeavour was forced onto these small newspapers. My idea was - and this was also the thinking of Mr Hann - that perhaps a common insertion might run through or that one imprint might run through stating perhaps Supplements to South Australian country newspapers’, or to the newspapers of whatever State one might be thinking. Once again we were knocked back.
I see that I have written a note on the bottom of Mr Hann’s letter saying that this request is a most reasonable one and in my view it should be agreed to. The note goes on to say that the present regulations work against efficiency and the alteration requested is most reasonable. I asked whether the then Postmaster-General would have a most careful look at this matter. He did. I have a letter from him saying that he intended to refer the matter to Mr Lane, the Director-General of the Australian Post Office. As late as 16th November 1972 I had a letter from Mr Lane which stated:
We have made some decsions with regard to changes we may make in the future, and whilst for various reasons it may take some little time to implement them, Sir Alan asked me to write to you and let you know we now have in mind to ‘change the rules’ so that a supplement of certain dimensions and so on may be enclosed in several country newspapers without the need for over-printing each supplement.
Again, on 24th November I received a letter from the then Postmaster-General spelling out the new principle to me in greater detail. He said that in future the inscription would read: PMG approved supplement No. ‘ - whatever the number was - and that numbers would be allocated on application to the Post Office. As far as I know at this point of time no decision has been made which affects country newspapers. I stand to be corrected on this.
I informed the Postmaster-General that I intended to raise this matter tonight. My purpose in raising it is to try to do all I can to make sure that the new Government, in its wisdom, sees the matter in the same way as eventually the previous Government saw it so that provincial newspapers in so many areas will get some little chance to compete with household deliveries which so frequently have every advantage in terms of competition in country areas. That, as succinctly as I can, put the past history and. as far as I know the current position, sums up the case.
In the few minutes remaining I should like to change the subject matter and refer to a matter that affects customs and excise. This is not the first occasion on which I have run into this problem, and I expect that the Department of Customs and Excise already is well aware of this sort of problem. In order that the supplier - in this case the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd - can get sales it must retain shelf space on a wide variety of lines. If not, the order tends to go to some other firm which perhaps has a supply of a commodity that is in a state of shortage. In this instance this year, unbelievably - perhaps it might not appear that way to Tasmanians - there was evidently a shortage of canned pie apple, whatever sort of apple that is, and without tins of canned pie apple it proved impossible for various lines of canned fruit to be sold by the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd.
Working on fairly good advice, the company then set about ordering 3,000 cartons of A10 apples from New Zealand. The advice stated that because local supplies were almost non-existent, if the company ordered supplies from New Zealand and in the future applied for by-law admission, this would almost certainly be granted to the company. It will not be difficult for honourable members to guess what happened in the case I .have just mentioned. The firm, in good faith, ordered quite large quantities of this type of apple from New Zealand to occupy the space that it has habitually and traditionally reserved for its products on shop shelves. But on inquiry it found that by-law entry would not be allowed by the Department of Customs and Excise. In other words, the company said that suitably equivalent goods were not reasonably available in Australia and the Department of Customs and Excise said that they were reasonably available in Australia.
In due course I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy) to have a look at this matter. He will see that the firm that I have mentioned has made a very good case to show that those supplies were not available at that point of time. Much of the apple that the company imported and, I would gather, tinned has already been sold, and sold well below the landed cost. In other words, it was a genuine attempt to try to meet the demands of the retail trade. As the Federal member representing this area 1 have been requested to try to have the by-law decision reversed on the ground, firstly, that suitably equivalent goods were not available in Australia at that time. The second ground was that no harm has been done to any Australian industry. Thirdly, the goods were sold at a loss to service government hospitals. So, the situation is that much of the reason for the importation of these pie- apples was in order to effect a service to a government department - in this case, State government hospitals. I hope that, in due course, the duty concerned can be returned to this firm, if by-law entry is granted.
– I wish to raise a matter which is affecting more and more people in my electorate and, I am sure, in all electorates. I will be speaking about the problems of consumers, particularly with respect to the purchase of motor vehicles and so-called warranties. To do this, I will bring to the attention of honourable members one specific case which is typical of many complaints that 1 and State Australian Labor Party members in Macarthur are receiving. On 1st September 1972, a constituent from Shellharbour purchased a Datsun 1200 utility for $2,087, phis registration and insurance. Although the vehicle was sold to him as new on a 6 months or 6,000-mile warranty, it was later learned that the vehicle was a 1971 model. There was no obvious evidence of rust in the vehicle at that time, but after 3 weeks when the utility was put in for servicing if was discovered that there was rust in the panels of the car. Soon after, the paint work began to fade on some panels and the car, instead of being a uniform blue, started to resemble a patchwork of fading panels which could not be restored by rubbing back as it subsequently was learned that the undercoat used was of a gloss base on some panels.
The owner paid $100 in service costs during the 6 months warranty period to preserve the guarantee. He started to suspect that he had been sold a demonstrator model which had been involved in an accident or a second hand vehicle which had been involved in an accident. Neither of these suspicions could be proved. However, his suspicions could well have been true because from then on the vehicle began steadily to deteriorate although, other than a tail shaft wobble that prevented the vehicle being driven above 40 miles an hour, its mechanical condition was not too bad. But the vehicle had become a first grade ‘lemon’ in the United States vernacular.
From this time on this poor owner engaged in argument between himself and the company from which he bought the car and, eventually, the New South Wales agent, Capitol Motors Ltd. He wrote to the Nissan company in Japan and to the Consumer Affairs Bureau. He went through every process possibly available to him. The list of jobs that eventually the company agreed to do included the following: The bonnet had to be resprayed, the upper outer corners of the windscreen sealing rubber had to be resealed - to no avail, eventually - the corners were sticking out from the bodywork and there were buff marks on the right hand side of the turret. The list goes on for pages and pages. After all this work was done, he again decided, the National Roads and Motorists Association decided after a subsequent inspection and Capitol Motors decided after another inspection that there was still a large amount of work to be done on the car. The front bonnet had to be resprayed again - the rust was showing - the tailgate had to be resprayed, the undercarriage had to be treated with rust prevention material and repainted, windscreen rubbers had to be replaced, the car leaked, there was a whining noise in the differential, there was vibration in the vehicle and it had an erratic fuel gauge. Again, the list goes on. The Japanese company, NissanDatsun, expressed great and prompt concern for this man and his troubles with his vehicle and stated that it considered that the New South Wales State distributor, Capitol Motors, should work to overcome his problems.
As I stated at the outset, this is not an isolated case and there is a general requirement for overall remedial action from both consumer and safety points of view. These eventually will involve governmental action, and the sooner the better, in my opinion. The Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) referred last week to the Government’s plans with respect to road safety. It is about time that Australia paid much more attention to safety problems caused by vehicle defects. I refer honourable members to an article in the “National Times’ of 5th March 1973, in which many of these consumer problems are outlined. The 3 major United States car manufacturers in Australia and the United Kingdom firm British Leylond enjoyed different conditions from those pertaining to their parent companies. But now Leyland has set out to emulate the buyer protection scheme introduced by American motors which resulted in their lifting sales by 20 per cent. It is to be hoped that the same reward will accrue to Leyland in Australia in its pace setting endeavour. The article states:
The Australian consumer should know about American conditions in order to judge whether things need to be changed in Australia.
In Australia motor vehicle safety is on an advisory State level and is dependent upon the voluntary cooperation of the auto industry. In the US the Federal Government controls motor vehicle safety standards and compliance by the auto industry, local and foreign, is mandatory. Federal control has: (a) made cars safer for Americans; (b) not cut back private enterprise; (c) has not interfered with commercial competition.
The assistance and protection afforded the prospective car buyer and the car owner In the US are detailed in the 1972 Annual Report from the US Department of Transportation which also:
Publishes comparative performance data sheets on all vehicles, both local and imported.
Publishes figures for tyre reserve loads and braking performances on a comparative basis for all vehicles available to the public.
Requires all manufacturers and dealers, local and foreign, to provide information performance sheets, including clear statements regarding the manufacturer’s compliance with the US Federal Department’s mandatory Federal Motor Vehicle Safety, Standards.
Requires all manufacturers and dealers to make this information available to all inquirers whether buyers or not, precisely for comparative shopping.
Publishes annually and makes available to the public in booklet form the Federal Motor Vehicle Standards.
Publishes fact sheets which deal with a variety of vehicles and traffic subjects in an easily understood way. . . .
Gives its Consumer Protection Bulletin the widest possible circulation through the news media. . . .
Uses the Public Advisory bodies to alert the public to dangers in general categories of vehicle equipment.
Believes the public has a right to a prompt and responsive hearing of individual complaints. . .
Earlier I referred to this constituent of mine. It is quite obvious that his complaints have not had a fair hearing at governmental or company level. The Australian Government must give similar protection to the Australian consumer by asking all United States car companies operating through subsidiaries in Australia, and all other subsidiaries which import vehicles, to meet the same safety and pollution control standards as well as notification of defects and recall programs as is the case in the United States of America.
– I rise tonight to correct an impression which was caused by the program This Day Tonight’. The program dealt with a meeting which took place in Katherine on 7th March. The program was produced by a man called Finlayson who apparently arrived in Katherine, in the Northern Territory, with a preconceived idea and plan of how to present this meeting to the people of Australia. I think that he definitely set out to misrepresent the tenor of the meeting, what it was ali about and what caused it. He certainly did not refer to any of the members of the committee which was formed that night or to any of the items which that committee put in its terms of reference. Apparently he arrived in Katherine and decided that the town was a racist part of Australia and he set out to produce his show to back up those ideas. He parked in the main street of Katherine, leaned over the door of his utility and said that Katherine has never been known for its good humanitarian relations between races. That was a bad enough start in anybody’s language.
– Who said that?
– A man called Finlayson on the program ‘This Day Tonight’. This was the way in which he started and he continued throughout the whole program to put this point of view. I rise tonight to say that that man did the cause of the Aborigines and the Europeans in that area and of the people who are trying to bring these 2 groups together - the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant), the Minister for Education (Mr Beasley) and all of us - a great disservice.
-Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House, the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m., on Wednesday, 11th April 1973.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
International promotion of Australian tourist attractions is carried out by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Tourist Commission. Phillip Island is included in the Commission’s marketing activities overseas through its films, publications and advertising campaigns. Emphasis is placed on the uniqueness of the fairy penguins which frequent the Island. For example, details of Phillip Island are included in the Australian Travel and Accommodation Guide and in a recent Commission film ‘Australia, Big Country, Big Welcome’.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Base Pension Rate (Question No. 192)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
What is the estimated cost of raising the base pension rate to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings and when is it expected that this proportion will be reached.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Based on average weekly earnings per male unit for the December Quarter 1972 of $104, it would be necessary to increase the base rate of pension by $4.50 to $26 a week in order to raise that rate to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. If all existing age, invalid, widow and service pensioners were to receive an increase of $4.50 a week, it is estimated that the additional annual cost would be about $290m. Average weekly earnings for the December quarter, being inflated by overtime pay and Christmas bonuses, are always much higher than for the immediately preceding and succeeding quarters. A cost estimate based on average weekly earnings for the December quarter is thus somewhat inflated also.
No firm date has been fixed by the Government for bringing the pension rate up to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. Its announced policy is to raise the base pension to that level by increases of $1.50 a week each Spring and Autumn. The Government will respond appropriately if these increases do not achieve the desired result within a reasonable time.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 April 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730410_reps_28_hor83/>.