10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Geophysical Surveying - Reportof a Subcommittee of the Committee of Civil Research, Empire Marketing Board, November, 1927.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 33, 36.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended Statutory Rules 1928, Nos. 31, 32.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No.7 of 1928 - Defamation.
Customs Act - Proclamation prohibiting exportation (except under certain conditions) of Opium,&c. (dated 30th March, 1928).
Sulphur Bounty Act - Regulations amended Statutory . Rules, 1928, No. 30.
Services of Colonel Leane
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
The Minister for Home and Territories has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The following bills were read a third time : -
Commonwealth Housing Bill.
Service and Execution of Process Bill.
State and Territorial Laws and Records Recognition Bill.
Debate resumed from 4th May(vide page 4658, on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- In January, 1926, T introduced in the Senate a bill to amend the Commonwealth “Workmen’s Compensation Act. That bill contained clauses which I considered would improve the principal act, and bring it abreast, if not ahead, of State legislation. The Senate rejected that measure on the second reading; but the Leader of the Senate indicated that at a later stage the Government would introduce an amending bill. The main provisions of the bill which I had the honour to introduce were, briefly, as follows: - (a) Increase in total amount of compensation where death occurred from injury, and in the case of total or partial incapacity; (&) compensation to workmen dying from or affected by, certain industrial diseases; (c) compensation for loss or injury to eyes, limbs or parts thereof, and paralysis of limbs or mental powers or total or partial loss of hearing; and (d) increase in burial and sickness expenses, and an assurance that 50 per cent, of the weekly wage of the employee would be paid during the period of incapacity. The measure now before the Senate repeals the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1912. That measure, when introduced sixteen years ago, was considered to be up to date, and at the time was, I believe, in line not only with the State legislation, but also with workmen’s compensation legislation in operation iti other parts of the world. As the years went on, however, it was found that ‘ the Commonwealth in this respect was lagging a long way behind, not only the States, but even conservative Britain. I am glad that that fact has at last been recognized, and that amending legislation has been introduced. Workmen’s compensation legislation deals with the human element in production, and is aimed at assisting those who suffer casualties on the industrial battlefields. Such casualties arc many, and occur too frequently.
Workmen’s compensation legislation cannot be regarded as controversial. Wu have long passed the time when it whs the battledore and shuttlecock of party politics.- Conserva tive Britain recognized the necessity of such legislation as far back as 1897, when its first measure providing for the payment of compensation to workmen was introduced. Any criticisms T may offer concerning the bill will not be of a carping nature, and will not be tinged with any semblance of party politics. Whilst I welcome the bill as an honest attempt to improve workmen’s compensation legislation, after a careful perusal of its provisions, I have come to the conclusion that, in some respects, it still lags behind similar legislation in operation in various States. In some directions it is an improvement on the bill which I introduced, but it lacks vital features of that measure. The first improvement I notice is that it increases the minimum amount of compensation payable, in the event of an injury resulting fatally, from £200 to £400, and the maximum from £500 to–£700. In the case of .total or partial incapacity, the weekly rate of payment is to be increased from 50 per cent, of the weekly wage of the employee, with a maximum payment of £2 a week, to two-thirds of the weekly wage of the employee, with a maximum weekly payment of £3 a week’. In addition, up to £100 is allowed for medical expenses. Provision is also made for the payment of the burial expenses of a diseased workman who does not leave any dependents. Clause 12 of the bill fixes al £700 the maximum amount of compensation payable for one accident, which is an increase in the amount now paid under the principal act. Provision is made in the second schedule for compensation for special injuries such as the loss of a limb or part of a limb, or the loss pf an eye, or of both eyes, &c. ; but to this portion of the bill I shall refer later. The measure now being repealed provided, in the case of death resulting from injury, a minimum of £200 and a maximum of £500, which is increased to £700 in the new measure, This bill is, therefore, an improvement in that respect; but in comparing the compensation paid in three of the States, in the case of death resulting from injury, I find that in Queensland and New South Wales the maximum amount payable in the event of death is £750, and in Western Australia a maximum amount of £750 is paid for death or incapacity. For total or partial incapacity the maximum weekly payment in Queensland and Western Australia is £3 10s. Therefore, as compared with the provisions in the three States which I have mentioned, the compensation proposed to be awarded under this bill is £50 less for death and 10s. a week less on weekly rates. In my -opinion, the weekly rate of compensation is a more vital part of a measure of this kind than the maximum amount to be paid in the event of death. We can easily picture to ourselves the sad plight of a family when the bread winner is laid low as a result of accident - when there is a wife, and three, four, or five children, it is easy to realize the hardship involved in trying to make ends meet, and to understand that £3 or even £3 10s. will go a very short distance towards paying rent and maintaining such a family. If the Commonwealth Parliament is not prepared to lead in this matter of compensation, then I claim that it should at least pass legislation which would be equal to the most advanced existing in any of the States.
– And the honorable senator claims that this is not?
SenatorNEEDHAM. - To the extent which I mentioned, it is not. It is 10s. a week lower than is provided in Queensland and Western Australia for weekly payments, and is £50 below what is provided in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia for the maximum payment in the event of death.
– Is there any limit on the period of payments for total incapacity in Queensland? There is no maximum provided in our scheme.
SenatorNEEDHAM. - According to my reading of the bill, the maximum here is £700. I am quoting from the figures as they appear in the bill.
There is another feature of workmen’s compensation that’ it not dealt with in the bill, and which is included in every workman’s compensation act in Australia, with the sole exception of that passed by the State of Tasmania. I refer to the provision in regard to industrial diseases or, as they are more commonly known, occupational diseases. All the States, with the exception of Tasmania have dealt with that phase of compensation, and I included it in the amending measure which I introduced in 1926. In 1924 the Commonwealth Government called a conferenceof representatives of the six States and of its own administration, to consider the subject of industrial hygiene. Among those present at that conference was Dr. Park, Acting DirectorGeneral of Health for the Commonwealth, and Dr. Robertson, Director of Industrial. Hygiene, who represented the Commonwealth Government. I could not obtain a copy of the report of that body from the Parliamentary Library, nor from our Clerk of Records, but I have a copy of a report that was handed to the Minister for Works and Labour in Western Australia by the two gentlemen who represented that State - Dr. Atkinson, the Chief Health Officer, and Mr. Bradshaw of the Factories Department. In this report they said, inter alia -
The last question dealt with was the important one of industrial disease or diseases of occupation, and the control of dangerous and unhealthy industries. It will, no doubt, be of interest to you to know that the Conference unhesitatingly and unanimously passed the following resolutions in regard to occupational disease -
) That it is desirable that each State of the Commonwealth should have in effective operation legislation controlling occupations dangerous to the health of those employed therein ; and
That every Australian State should afford compensation for industrial diseases.
Those were the two resolutions passed by the conference which dealt with the subject of industrial hygiene. This conference was called, not at the requestof the States, but of the Commonwealth Government, and if it was deemed that such a conference was necessary it surely follows, in view of the reportwhich I have quoted, that the Commonwealth Government in its own Employees Compensation Bill should provide for the contingency of ill health and unemployment resulting fromparticipation in unhealthy work. This report goes on o say-
It was the view of all members of the conference that the worker who loses his life, or suffers incapacity as a result of occupational disease, is entitled to compensation equally with him who meets with death or injury by accident. The legislation already in some of the States was reviewed, and a list drawn up of these occupational diseases in regard to which it was considered compensation should be payable. This list has already been submitted to you. It is possible that only a few of these occupational diseases will concern this State for some time to come, but as industry develops they may become increasingly important.
I wish to draw special attention to the last few words. The gentlemen who framed that report said that some of the diseases mentioned would not concern Western Australia for some time, but as industry developed they might become important. The honorable Minister in charge of this measure might say that we have no industries under our control in which there is a danger of the employees contracting occupational diseases, or, at any rate, that .there are very few such industries. I contend that there are persons in the employ of the Commonwealth to-day who are engaged in work which renders them liable to contract any of the occupational diseases outlined in the schedule of the bill which I brought in a couple of years ago. As additional powers are given to the Commonwealth Parliament, so will the control of industries by the Commonwealth increase. That will necessarily mean the employment of a greater number of employees, involving a heavier liability in respect of occupational diseases, which, often involve more misery than is caused by the loss of limbs or injuries to the body. It is true that occasionally an employee is injured, or his life forfeited, because of the carelessness of a fellow-workman, but such cases are few compared with the number of sufferers from occupational diseases. No matter bow careful workmen may be they can save neither their fellows nor themselves from that liability to disease which is inseparable from their occupations. I admit that medical science is doing much to minimize the dread results of occupational diseases. Our health laws are framed to prevent such diseases,, and health inspectors throughout the Commonwealth are doing what they can in the interests of the health of the workers. Nevertheless, it cannot be gainsaid that in the industrial battlefield there are many casualties. I propose later to move for the addition of a third schedule to the bill in order to protect workmen who may suffer from industrial diseases. My proposal is based largely on the schedule approved by the conference on Industrial Hygiene, to which I have already referred, and at which all the States and the Commonwealth were represented. The schedule of diseases incorporated in my bill of 1926 included:-
Men engaged in departments under the control of the Commonwealth Government are liable to contract these diseases. For instance, in the securing of ballast for our railways numbers of men are engaged in mining or quarrying stone, and in crushing or preparing it.
The second schedule of the measure which deals with specified injuries is not so liberal as are the schedules to the acts of many of the States. It certainly is not so liberal as is the Western Australian legislation. The schedule before us provides for compensation only for the following injuries: - Loss of one eye, with serious diminution - of the sight of the other; loss of sight of one eye; loss of arm at shoulder; loss of arm at or above elbow ; loss of hand at or above wrist; loss of thumb; loss of index finger; loss of middle finger, ring-finger, or little finger ; loss of leg at hip ; loss of leg at or above knee; loss of foot at or above ankle; los3 of great toe; loss of other toe; loss of hearing; and complete deafness in one ear. For these injuries the compensation varies from £600 to £4:0. Not only does the Western Australian legislation provide for greater sums by way of compensation, but it also embodies a more comprehensive range of specified injuries. In addition to the injuries specified in the second schedule before us, the Western Australian act, which is the latest of its kind in Australia, provides compensation for loss of both eyes, total or incurable loss of mental powers involving inability to work, and total or incurable paralysis of limbs. I have in mind a man who for a long time held a responsible position under the Commonwealth Government, but now, as the result of an injury sustained in the course of his employ, has lost his mental powers to the extent that he is practically unable to work.
– A man with both feet off would, under Commonwealth legislation, be regarded as totally and permanently incapable of work, iti which case there is no limit to the amount of compensation payable. .
– Such a case would be met better in a bill dealing with compensation than otherwise. Under the Western Australian legislation a man who suffers the loss of both eyes, or both hands, or both feet, or hand and a foot, or sustains injury causing the total and incurable loss of mental powers involving inability to work, or the total and incurable paralysis of limbs or mental powers, may receive compensation amounting to £750. In that respect, therefore, the compensation payable is £50 greater than that which is provided for in the schedule to the bill. The following interesting table sets out the number of employees who were .under the control of the Commonwealth Government, the number who suffered injury in the course of their employment, the number whose injuries resulted fatally, and the amounts that were paid by way of compensation under the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1912, from the 5th February, 1913, to 31st December, 1927 : -
It will be seen that the greatest number of employees injured in any one year was in 1915, when the total was 1,222. In that year also eight employees were killed. The amount paid to the next of kin of those whose injuries resulted fatally, was £3,182, while the compensation which was received by those who sustained injuries during the course of their employment amounted in the aggregate to £6,544.
I have indicated some of the principal weaknesses of the. measure. It offers a wider scope for consideration in committee, and when we reach that stage 1 shall seek the co-operation of honorable senators with a view to effecting an improvement in certain directions. In the meantime I shall circulate the amendments that I have forecast. I welcome the bill, and hope that it will receive the approval of the Senate. I trust, also, that when it emerges from the committee stage, the schedule, in its relation to the specified injuries, will have been improved, and that honorable senators in their wisdom will have made provision for the payment of compensation on account of injuries suffered as a result of the contraction of occupational diseases.
– I consider this bill to be a very liberal effort to provide compensation for workers who meet with injuries in the Commonwealth service, but I should like to know how the payments are to be financed. It seems to me unsound in principle to draw upon the Consolidated Revenue to pay claims as they arise. Before the Queensland State Insurance Department was given a monopoly of the business attaching to the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the employers of that State made provision for meeting claims for compensation for injuries received by insuring with insurance companies formed for the purpose or by making contributions to a compensation fund established by themselves. For instance when the Mount Morgan Mining Company found that the insurance company which was handling this business for it was not as liberal to the workers as was deemed advisable, it set aside regular contributions which eventually formed a fund that enabled it to be veryliberal to injured workers when occasion arose. It is not my purpose to ask the. Government to be more liberal than is proposed in the bill - I consider the scale of payments set out is very generous - but it seems to me that, instead of meeting claims for compensation out of the Consolidated Revenue, it would be better to allocate each year or each half year, contributions to a compensation fund.
– The honorable senator is visualizing an internal insurance scheme for the Commonwealth.
– Of course the Minister may have a perfect reply to what I am suggesting, but if nothing has been done in that direction I commend my proposal to the consideration of the Government. I approve of the measure and intend to give it my support.
– lt is true, as Senator Needham has said, that the maximum payments provided for in this bill are not as high as those in some of the State legislation to which he has referred, but I can assure the honorable senator that the officers of the department and the draftsmen responsible for the bill have paid regard to the provisions of the workmen’s compensation legislation of all the States. As a matter of fact the scale adopted and embodied in the schedule to this bill is the average amount provided for in State legislation. Very few of the workers in the States are as advantageously placed as will be the employees of the Commonwealth when this bill is passed, because in this measure ‘ we have studiously avoided fixing any limit to the amount which a man who is permanently incapacitated may obtain. That is one reason why we have omitted from our schedule the first few items of the Western Australian schedule to which the hon.orable senator has referred - loss of both eyes, loss of both hands, loss of both feet, or total loss of mental powers involving inability to work. Men who are thus permanently incapacitated will by this bill be placed in the category of those for whom there will be no limit to the duration of the weekly compensation payable. When the measure was first submitted to me I concerned myself considerably about the occupational diseases referred to by the honorable senator. The report to which the honorable senator referred, dealt with industrial occupations such as those which caused anthrax and miners’ phthisis. The honorable senator has proposed that these diseases should be included in our schedule, but as a matter of fact anthrax arises from wool washing, or wool sorting, or the handling of hides, skins, hairs, bristles, or carcases; and miners’ phthisis arises from mining, quarrying or stone crushing or cutting.
– There is a possibility of miners’ phthisis occurring among men engaged in quarrying, &c, on railway construction work.
– If so, the employees would fall within the control of their particular department. There is very little if any possibility of an “ occupational disease “ arising out of any employment covered by Commonwealth activities, and there is, therefore, at present no need for the Commonwealth to embark on the larger field to which the honorable senator has alluded.
I have noted the suggestion of Senator Thompson. At present the money comes out of the Consolidated Revenue, but the department concerned is debited with the expenditure. As yet no attempt has been made to establish an internal reserve fund, but it is quite possible that the Treasury officers might with advantage to the revenue adopt some scheme on the lines suggested by the honorable senator. The matter, however, is quite outside the scope of the measure now before the Senate, and a proposal for the establishment of such a fund would have to be submitted in another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definitions).
– “Employee” is defined as follows: -
Any officer who is subject to the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1924 and includes any temporary employee and any officer or employee to whom the Governor-General has declared that that act shall not apply and any person who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship with the Commonwealth, whether by way of manual labour, clerical work, or otherwise, and whether the contract is expressed or implied, is oral or in writing, but does not include -
an outworker; or
any member of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of the Commonwealth ;
I want to be assured that this definition is comprehensive enough to cover every employee of the Commonwealth, whether engaged under the provisions of the Public Service Act or engaged in railway construction work or in the General Division. “ Outworker “ means -
A person to whom articles or materials are given out to be treated or manufactured in his own home or other premises not under the control or management of the Commonwealth.
Take the case of a woman who is injured in her home while she is making some garment or drapings for a Commonwealth department, or is injured while proceeding from her home to the department to secure material which she is to make up in her own home for the department, or while she is returning from the department to her home with the material. Will such, a woman be covered by this legislation?
.- If a department of the Commonwealth decides to supply a woman with material to be made up outside, and she comes into the department to make inquiries as to how the work is tobe done and while on the premises of the department is injured, will she be regarded as having been injured in the performance of a duty, and as such be entitled to compensation under the provisions of this bill?
– A careful perusal of the definition of “ employee,” complicated though it may seem, shows that it is intended to enlarge its meaning. The Governor-General now declares that the
Public Service Act shall not apply to certain officers; but this definition brings them within the ambit of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Bill as well as all other public servants and all temporary employees. Confusion may arise in the minds of honorable senators from the use of the words “ that that act shall not apply “. It is the Public Service Act that shall not apply. “ Out-worker “ is defined as a person to whom articles or materials are given out to be treated or manufactured in his own home or on other premises not under the control or management of the Commonwealth. It has always been the guiding principle in workmen’s compensation legislation that compensation shall be paid only to workmen who are performing work on Commonwealth premises under the control of Commonwealth officers. The definition in the principal act is the same as this, although some slight verbal amendments may have been made to improve the language. I notice that in the Western Australian act, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, an outworker is defined in much the same terms. In reply to the specific point raised by Senator Findley as to whether an outworker injured whilst in a Commonwealth building, would be excluded from the benefit of the act, I may say that in such a case an outworker would be protected either by her employer or by an arrangement between herself and an insurance company. The one essential in this connexion is that a person must be under some degree of Commonwealth control.
– Would a person such as I mentioned be covered by the bill.
– Although injured in a building under the control of the Commonwealth ?
– Such a person would have to be protected in some other way. Cases have arisen in England where a person employed in a shop or factory under the control of the operative’s employers has been injured whilst crossing a road in the course of his employment. It has always been contemplated that outworkers are not entitled to compensation as they are not actually under government control. If an employee had in the course of his duties, to cross a road to obtain information, he would come within the ambit of the act ; but an ordinary outworker would not.
– I ask the Minister (Senator Mclachlan), if members of the naval, military and air forces are exempt from the provisions of the bill because provision for them is elsewhere made?
. - Such officers are covered by the naval and military regulations issued under the Defence Act.
– The clause provides that-
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears, employee means …. but does not include (a) an outworker; or (b) any member of the naval, military or air forces of the Commonwealth.
The definition differs from that in the principal act, which reads : - “ Any member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth while employed on active service “. Is it the intention of the Government under this definition to exclude from participation in the benefits of compensation, any member of these forces injured during the course of his employment ? A member of the air force engaged in effecting repairs to an aeroplane might lose a limb or be otherwise seriously injured. Would not such a per-‘ son receive compensation?
– I explained this matter in my secondreading speech, when dealing with the history of previous legislation, and said that when the original bill was submitted in 1912, the members of the Naval and Military Forces when on active service, were excluded, but subsequent amendments were made to bring the members of these forces, whilst not on active service, within the scope of the act. They are now covered by defence regulations which contain comprehensive provision for compensation in respect of injuries to members of the forces which is more liberal than that found under the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act. Of course civil employees in these services come within the scope of the act.
– The others are provided for by regulation?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Commissioner).
– I should like to know if any additional expense will be incurred by reason of the fact that the Secretary of the Treasury is to be ex officio commissioner for employees’ compensation?
– I understand that no additional expenditure is contemplated or will be incurred in that regard. The position in regard to deputies may be different. :
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Compensation for certain injuries).
– This clause reads -
Where an employee sustains, by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, any of the injuries specified in the first column of the second schedule to this act, the compensation payable under this act shall, when the injury results in total or partial incapacity, be the amount specified in the second column of that schedule opposite the injury so sustained, less an amount received by the employee under the first schedule to this act during any period of his total incapacity arising from his injury.
The words “by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment “, are somewhat ambiguous. There have been instances where employers in contesting claims have been assisted by the ambiguity of the words I have just quoted. What is meant by “ arising out of and in the course of his employment?” I have in mind a case recently heard in Melbourne, where an employee was killed by a piece of stone whilst having lunch in a corrugated iron shed in the vicinity of a quarry where blasting operations were being carried out, but at a spot which was regarded as being beyond the danger zone. The relatives claimed compensation under the Victorian Workmen’s Compensation Act, but the claim was not upheld. The legal representative of the next of kin appealed to a higher court which ruled that the employer was not liable. One would think that that man was killed as the result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. I should like the Minister to give us his interpretation of those words.
Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia - Honorary Minister’ [4.19]. - The language employed in this instance is that which has had judicial consideration ever since the first Workmen’s Compensation Act was passed in Great Britain, and I can assure the honorable senator that the trend of judicial decisions in Great Britain and Australia has been in the direction of widening the interpretation of those words to an extent that probably was little anticipated by those originally responsible for their use.
I” can scarcely conceive a case in which any injustice could be done by the employment of the language we have used, and it is important from the point of view of the men whose interests are concerned that we should stick to this language, because they know exactly what it means. Only the other day I read an article in the Argus on Workmen’s compensation law, and it included a case such as might occur at any time in the relations between employer and employee. The case is referred to as that of “ The Teamster and the Cat,” and the article deals with it in the following rather humorous terms -
A teamster took his horses to the stable for their midday meal, and himself sat clown in the stable, as his habit was, to eat his lunch. While he was pensively enjoying his bread and cheese, a cat flew at him, and bit him on the hand so severely that he had to lose two joints of his finger. Now, the cat was no stranger to the teamster, for its home was the stable, and he had often thrown scraps from his lunch to it, but on this occasion he was not feeding it, nor even teasing it. Nevertheless the cat, though it had not previously exhibited any antipathy to the teamster, or any special ferocity of temper, sprang at him without just cause or excuse, and injured him as stated. Then followed a claim for compensation under the act, and the County Court judge made an award in the teamster’s favour. His employer, however, did not let the matter rest . there, and before the Court of Appeal his counsel argued that the accident did not arise out of the cause of the teamster’s employment. Their lordships, however, thought it did, and that it was a very plain case - for the teamster. He was entitled to be in the stable, which was his proper place. His empoyment took him there, where he knew the stable cat, which might be called the necessary furniture of a stable, was. No one expected that the cat would bite, but the man’s duties took him to the place where the cat was, and the accident arose out of his employment. Of course, if the teamster had been shown to have incited the cat, that would have been another matter or if the man had been simply walking along the street, and a cat had bitten him, for that his employer would not be liable.
This serves to show honorable senators the length to which judicial decision has gone on the interpretation of the words “ arising out of. and in the course of his employment.” I think that it would be a very dangerous thing indeed for those who have to seek redress under the law to alter the form of words. They are now so well defined that both the courts and the persons concerned know exactly what they mean.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, an employee shall not, in respect of one accident, except where the injury results in total and permanent incapacity, be entitled to receive as compensation under this act an amount exceeding seven hundred pounds in addition to such expenses as are awarded to him under section 10 of this act.
– Clause 12 sets out the maximum amount of compensation to be paid for one accident, and states that it shall be £700 in addition to such expenses as are awarded under section 10, which deals with medical expenses. In the course of my second reading speech I emphasized the point that although this measure was a distinct advance on the original act, it was still, in some respects, behind those of the States. I pointed out that in Queensland, New South Wales, and Western Australia the maximum fixed was £750, and that in Western Australia was paid either in the case of death or incapacity. I think that the committee might favorably consider an amendment designed to increase the amount in this bill to £750. It is a reasonable request, and we can better afford to pay it- than the States,’ whose compensation laws cover a wider field, and whose purses are not so well filled as is that of the Commonwealth. Again, we must remember that the State law affects, not only the employees of the-
State Governments, but the employees in all private undertakings as well. Seeing that the Government is making an honest attempt to improve this legislation, I think that it would be justified in raising this amount to £750. I know of no logical reason that can be advanced against it. I have often said that as far as social legislation is concerned, we in this Commonwealth Parliament, should set an example to the States and to other countries, rather than drag behind them. Therefore I move -
That after the word “hundred,” the words “and fifty,” line6, be inserted.
– This clause was framed after very careful consideration of the acts in operation in the various States, and, while the Leader of the Opposition has referred to the maximums payable under the various State acts, I suggest that they have no application to this clause by reason of the fact that there is no limit to our liability for total permanent incapacity. Let us take extreme cases by way of example. For the loss of both eyes, compensation in Queensland is £750, Victoria £600, South Australia £700, and Western Australia £750. For the loss of both hands, the figures are exactly the same. In the case of incurable loss of mental powers, causing inability to work, ‘we are enlarging on what is done by these States, and the limit is exactly the same as in the case of total incurable paralysis of the limbs. Compensation provided in all the other cases shown in the schedule supplied to me is below the maximum of £700 which we have laid down. The most serious case which I can see is the loss of either arm, or the greater parr thereof. In Victoria the maximum compensation is £480 for a right arm, and £450 for a left. In Queensland the amounts are, respectively, £600 and £562 10s., and in South Australia, £560 and £525. In Western Australia it is £675, but it is appropriated in this way - £475 for. the loss of arm at the shoulder, £400 at the elbow, and £350 at the wrist. Thus the amount payable is still below the limit which we have placed in clause 12. I ask the committee to pass the clause as it stands.
– The Minister has not replied to the argument which I advanced. The schedule which he has quoted has to do with an entirely different category of injuries from those now before us. His arguments might apply in part when we are discussing the second schedule to this bill, but we are now on clause 12, which sets out the maximum compensation to an employee in respect of one accident, except where the injury results in total or permanent incapacity. The Minister has said that there is no limitto the compensation to be paid in the case of total and permanent incapacity, but this clause definitely limits the compensation in certain circumstances.I say that that is in direct contradiction to the Minister’s assertion that there is no limit, because the bill definitely specifies certain limits. I repeat that we ought not to quibble over a matter of £50; and when other States have set us a good example in this respect we ought to follow it.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 23 agreed to.
First schedule -
The amount of compensation under this act shall be -
– I move -
That after the words “ three pounds,” clause 1, sub-clause (5), the words “ten shillings” be inserted.
Under the bill the maximum amount which may be paid to a person who receives an injury is £3 a week. My proposal, if agreed to, will increase the payment to £3 10s. a week, which in view of the high cost of living, is not too great for a maximum payment. Moreover, in at least two of the States - Western Australia and Queensland - legislation providing for a maximum payment of £3 10s. a week is already in operation.
, - While it is true that the sum provided in the bill is less than the amount paid in some of the States, it represents the average payment in all the States ; and having regard to the fact that this bill places no limit on the time during which the weekly compensation shall be payable, I regret the Government cannot accept the amendment.
. - I am sorry that the Minister has not given more sympathetic consideration to the amendment. A man who sustains an injury may be receiving the basic wage, which is the lowest possible minimum wage and does not provide for more than the bare necessaries of life. Surely when a man is incapacitated, because of an injury, and his expenses consequently are greater, he should not be expected to maintain himself and his dependants on less than the minimum wage.
– The honorable senator is advocating a wrong principle.
– If a man is killed in the course of his employment the amount of compensation represents a fairly large sum. We have already admitted the obligation of the Commonwealth Government as employer in respect of compensation for injuries sustained by its employees.
– But this bill sets no limit to the time during which compensation is payable.
– If we admit the responsibility - which we do - the payment should be adequate. A man’s expenses are greater when he is incapacitated than when he is well. It is not right that a man who is injured in the course of his employment should be expected to maintain himself and his family on £3 a week. The additional 10s. a week proposed by Senator Needham is’ justified. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his decision not to accept the amendment.
– I support the amendment. A man who has been incapacitated and has a wife and family to maintain is indeed in a difficult position if his income is only £3 a week. At such times his needs are greater; he requires nourishing food and medicines which are often expensive. He cannot provide these things for himself, and the necessaries of life for his wife and children out of £3 a week.
– The bill provides no time limit for the payment of compensation.
– I have lived long enough to realize that employers are neither charitable institutions nor benevolent societies. In legislating for injured employees we should treat them as men. Surely honorable senators do not suggest that when a man is sick he should be starved?
– When a man is sick his needs are greater than when he is well.
– That is true. His expenses are greater. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment.
– I trust that ministerial supporters will not adopt the attitude that they must accept in its entirety the bill as it stands. Those who have played a part in the work-a-day world know that in some occupations workmen are subjected to hazardous conditions. Accidents befall many of them from time to time, and frequently with serious consequences, especially when the employee happens to be a married man with a family. Before the war the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act provided for the payment of £2 a week to those who were partially incapacitated hy accident. The increase of £1 proposed by the bill is not as large as is warranted by the circumstances of the present time. Every honorable senator must realize that in the intervening period, the cost of living has advanced considerably, and that the purchasing power of £2 before the war was greater than is the purchasing power of £3 to-day. The Government could very well give sympathetic consideration to, and a practical endorsement of, the amendment.
– There are not many cases in a year; therefore the additional amount involved would not be very great.
– It would not cost the Government very much ; but even if it did, it would be justifiable expenditure. I hope that those broad-minded senators who sit opposite will not be moved by any plea which the Minister may make in opposition to the amendment. I believe that many of them are desirous of doing the fair thing, particularly to those whose wages, even in the most favorable cases, are small, and in some instances are barely sufficient to enable them to make provision for the necessaries of life. When unemployment or sickness are experienced, many of them cannot avoid getting into debt; and should they meet with an accident which deprives them of the capacity to continue at their occupations, their plight is indeed a sad one. The Government would not be acting over-generously if it agreed to increase the amount by the 10s. stipulated in the amendment. I urge honorable senators to support the proposed increase.
– I thank Senator Findley for having referred to honorable senators who sit on this side of the chamber as broad-minded gentlemen. I feel sure that we all desire to approach this matter in a humanitarian, frame of mind; but it is quite erroneous to suppose that employers are not at all times prepared to treat generously those unfortunate men who, through no fault of their own, find themselves incapacitated and unable to follow their occupations. My principal reason for rising, however, was to ask the Minister to outline the provisions in relation to child endowment that are in force at the present time; because the statement has been made by one or two honorable senators who have urged the acceptance of the amendment - which at present I am inclined to support - that a mau with a wife and family should receive more than £3 a week during the period that he is incapacitated from carrying on his ordinary duties. If the provision which is now made for the unfortunate man who meets with an accident is not sufficient to enable him to provide what are essential comforts for his wife and family, I shall support with good grace, and a great deal of pleasure, the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). I have always prided myself upon being a good employer, and .have always endeavoured to treat my employees in the way in which I should like them to treat me if our positions were reversed.
– For the information of honorable senators I shall place before them the amount of compensation which is payable by the different States. In New South Wales the maximum amount allowed is £3 a week. In Victoria it is £2, in Queensland £2 15s., and in Tasmania £2 10s. In South Australia it is 50 per cent, of the weekly earnings, subject to a maximum of £5, inclusive of 7s. 6d. a week for each child under the age of fourteen years. In Western Australia it is 50 per cent, of the weekly earnings, subject to a maximum of £3 10s., inclusive of 7s. 6d. a week for each child under the age of sixteen years. Our officers have endeavoured to make the most generous provision possible. It is only fair for me to say also that New South Wales pays a wife and child allowance. Victoria has no legislation along those lines. In Queensland there is a payment of 5s. in respect of each child, with a maximum amount of 30s. a week. In South Australia, as I have already stated, the child endowment is 7s. 6d. a week in respect of each child under the age of fourteen years, and in Western Australia a similar amount in respect of each child under the age of sixteen years. No payment is made in Tasmania. Although the proposed increase to £3 a week may not, as Senator Findley has said, be very great, the Commonwealth pays in addition an endowment of 5s. in respect of every child under the age of sixteen years. I assure the committee that although we do not wish it to appear that we are adopting an adamantine attitude in regard to the amount stipulated in the schedule, the matter has had the closest consideration of the officers of the department whose duty it is to see that the fair thing is done, and we consider that we are giving a very generous increase on the rate which has prevailed in the past.
– According to the figures which I quoted a while ago, the total expenditure by the Commonwealth, since the inception of the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1912, has been in the region of £9,000 a year, which is not a large amount. Did I understand the Minister to say that every employee of the Commonwealth Government is in receipt of a child allowance of 5s. a week?
– No. The employees covered by this hill are in receipt of that amount in respect of each child.
– Do the men who are engaged on railway constructional work receive that allowance?
– I have been under the impression that it applies only to those persons who are subject to the provisions of the Public Service Act. I think the Minister will find that casual or temporary employees who are engaged in occupations such as railway constructional work, do not receive a child allowance. I want honorable senators to be sure on that point before they record a vote. I know that the Minister would not intentionally mislead the committee; but I am sure that he has been wrongly informed if he says that men who are engaged on railway constructional work and other work of a similar nature are in receipt of a child allowance.
– I am sure that the employees of the Postal Department receive it. I do not think that the class of railway employees referred to by the honorable senator are covered by the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act.
– Those who are employed in the general division of the Postal Department receive the allowance, but others who are engaged in rough laboring work do not. Those latter, however, will come within the scope of this legislation. I wish honorable senators to realize that this measure is more comprehensive in regard to those whom it will benefit than is that which is to be repealed. The act at present imposes a limitation in relation to the salary that an employee receives, and in addition it does not embrace every employee of the Government. According to the definition of employee in clause 4, the bill now before us embraces every conceivable occupation and every employee who is engaged in any Commonwealth activity. I venture the opinion that the major portion of those who are employed in railway and other constructional work, are not in receipt of the child endowment to which Senator Robinson has referred.
– And they comprise the- section which needs it most.
– They are the men who need all the protection they can get, because they are on the lowest rung of the ladder and receive no more than the basic wage. I thank those honorable senators who have stated their intention to support the amendment. We are not asking for too much. If the additional amount is conceded, it will not place any appreciable load on the Commonwealth exchequer, because the number of employees who, over a period of fifteen years, have received compensation because of injuries they have sustained in the course of their employment, represent approximately only li per cent, of the total number employed. It is not possible to assess human life in terms of money ; we can merely give what is equitable and just to those who are stricken down. I again appeal to the
Minister to accept the amendment, and. thus allow this legislation to be brought into line with that of the State of Western Australia. I am sure it would be a boon to the bread-winner with a large family dependent upon his weekly earnings.
– I do not think the amendment moved by Senator Needham will meet the position. The schedule provides for a maximum payment of £3 per week to all those who are incapacitated. The honorable senator proposes to make the maximum amount £3 10s., but I should be rather inclined to support a proposal to make provision for the payment of 2s. 6d. or 5s. a week for each child in addition to the £3 a week paid to the father, the” total amount payable not to exceed £3 10s. I do not think it is equitable to pay the same amount to a single man and a married man with a family.
– Casual labour cannot be brought under any child endowment scheme.
– But we can make provision for casual labour in an Employees’ Compensation Act. I think my proposal would meet the case very much better than would that of Senator Needham.
– It is a reasonable suggestion that special provision should be made for a married man with a family. The cost of maintaining a household is always increased at a time of sickness, and I hope that this reasonable request for the payment of additional compensation to a married man will be favorably received by the Government.
.- Although Senator Needham may succeed in getting the amount raised to £3 10s. a week, he will not reach his objective, because there are many men casually employed by the Commonwealth who are not receiving more than £4 or £4 10s. a week. Paragraph b provides, in the case df total or partial incapacity, for a weekly payment not exceeding twothirds of the employee’s weekly pay. If the honorable senator wishes these lowerpaid men to draw £3 10s. a week, he will need to have that paragraph altered; otherwise, a worker would need to receive a weekly wage of £5 5s. to draw the maximum payment of £3 10s. a week. It seems to be the general desire of the committee to give increased compensation, and, in the circumstances, I think the Minister should postpone this part of the schedule ‘for further consideration. I should be satisfied if the payment were made on the basis of £3 a week to the father and so much a week for each child.
– That is in cases when child endowment is not paid.
– That is so. The position is difficult, and I think the Minister would be wise to hold the matter over for further consideration.
– If the Minister in charge of. the bill acts on the suggestion of Senator Ogden, I believe the amendment submitted by Senator Needham will lead to good results. To those honorable senators who, in effect, declare that the amendment does not go far enough, I say that it certainly goes some way in the direction they desire, and that if we cannot get all we seek, and all they desire, they should certainly support an increase in. the allowance.
– But the amendment proposes to go too far in the case of single men.
– Many single men have heavy responsibilities. Many men are obliged to remain unmarried because they are burdened with responsibilities. Some of them have to maintain mothers, sisters, or brothers. To differentiate between single men and married men would probably be to do an injustice to many single men.
– .Injustice would be done to the man who was trying to save sufficient to get married.
– Exactly. There are in Australia thousands of men matrimonially inclined, but who, because of the burdens upon them, are not justified in taking on the additional responsibilities attaching to married men. Yet honorable senators would differentiate between them and married men with families. I think that adequate compensation should be paid to a workman whether he is single or married, and if the committee is generous enough to say that. in addition to a fair amount of compensation for partial or total incapacity, it is prepared to go a step further and give so much for each child, I shall not object.
– That is the phase that appeals to me.
– I rose not only to say a few words in reply to the statements made by honorable senators, but also to ask the Government to accept the suggestion by Senator Ogden that the further consideration of the schedule should be postponed. At least four or five honorable senators supporting the Government have stated their intention of voting for the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, and in the circumstances the Government would be well advised to agree to a postponement. I hope that, if it does so, it will give sympathetic consideration to the suggestions that have been put forward and that it will do something practicable in respect to the amendment that has already been moved.
– I hope that the Minister in charge of the bill will agree to a postponement; but I want to make it clear that I cannot support the amendment moved by Senator Needham. I do not think there is any equity in a proposal that, regardless of the circumstances of those who are incapacitated, increased compensation should be paid. Any increase granted should take the form of an allowance for each child. I hope that the Government will postpone this paragraph and bring down an amendment to make provision for the. payment of an allowance to each child of an injured worker up to a fixed age, so that the maximum payment will not ‘ exceed £3 10s. a week.
– I have already described this measure as generous; but there is inconsistency in it, inasmuch as only those who are entitled to receive child endowment will benefit under sub-paragraph c. If provision were made that all employees should benefit in like manner, the bill would be more consistent than it is at present, and would, I am sure, receive the support of the whole committee.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) for reasons which have been very clearly put by several honorable senators. There is, however, something in the contention that paragraph c is not sufficiently comprehensive. Since replying to a point raised by the Opposition, it has occurred to me that there are some employees who do not receive child endowment. Those working under an award of the Public Service Arbitrator, or some other authority, would probably be protected; but there may be others for whom such provision has not been made. Whilst leaving paragraph b in its present form., perhaps paragraph c should be extended. In order to permit of further consideration of the matter, I am willing to report progress.
Debate resumed from 4th May (vide page 4670) on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When the bill was under consideration last week several honorable senators expressed their opposition to one or two of its features, and I hoped that to-day the Minister would inform th, Senate of his intention to adopt at least one or two of the suggestions then submitted. As that is not his intention, I wish to stress several of the- points previously raised. I believed the measure in its present form will have a prejudicial effect upon certain monthly newspapers which are not published for profit, but for disseminating information for the benefit of the members of certain organizations. Under the bill the difficulties of the publishers of some Australian monthly newspapers will be increased, whilst overseas publishers will not be affected. The publishers of monthly newspapers do not ask for benefits which are not to be enjoyed by weekly newspapers, but desire that all monthly and weekly newspapers should, in the matter of postage, be placed on the same basis. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, contended that all monthly publications were not newspapers, whereas weekly publications could be so regarded. The Minister gave a departmental definition of newspapers, but many of the monthly publications, conform as much to the definition he gave as do weekly publications. Monthly papers contain certain extracts from the world’s news, and some of them also publish articles upon current world events. They also give information gleaned very often by cablegram or correspondence from other countries, which constitute items of news. If this information is news, the papers in which it appears arc newspapers; but the Government contend that because these papers are pub- .lished monthly, instead of weekly or fortnightly, they cannot be classed as newspapers. There are several monthly publications which give in a sense items of news, but, to a large extent, devote their space to fiction, and therefore cannot be classified as newspapers. There are, however, monthly publications that give to those who purchase them information which they regard as news. It is provided in the bill that in the matter of postage there shall be discrimination between weekly and monthly newspapers to the detriment of the latter.
– “What does the increase amount to?
– Not very much individually, but on the total even a fraction of Id. would amount to a good deal at the end of a year. As there is keen competition between monthly and weekly newspapers the subscription rates are. reduced to a minimum. Moreover, contracts are entered into sometimes for twelve months, and this increased rate, a3 pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, cannot be passed on. The publishers of monthly newspapers «will be unfairly treated.
– The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the measure should not come into operation for twelve months.
– It has been suggested by those interested that the Government should have given some notice of its intention to increase the rates, so that publishers could, if they so desired, pass on some of the increased cost; but even if that had been done, the publishers of weekly newspapers would have had an advantage over those publishing monthly journals. The Government’s proposal has aroused a ‘good deal of opposition, and I have received correspondence from reputable publishers who feel that in performing a public service, as they undoubtedly are, they will be severely handicapped. Monthly publications which are extensively read in the outback portions of the Commonwealth, contain news matter in a concrete form from all parts of the world. If the Government proposed to place monthly and weekly newspapers on the one basis in the matter of postage, there would be no objection; but to penalize a section of publishers at a moment’s notice is not playing the game.
– I presume the honorable senator is aware that the act is to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. It is anticipated that some months will elapse before the departmental machinery will be able to function effectively.
– If the Minister can give an assurance that there is likely to be a delay of some months before the act becomes operative, publishers will have some time to make adjustments; but that will not meet the objections raised by publishers who have entered into contracts for a period of twelve months.
– A similar difficulty will exist whenever rates are increased.
– Yes; but the Government should give sufficient warning before altering postage rates as now proposed. It would make it easier if the Government would fix a date, even six months ahead, for I do feel that we are not quite playing the game as the bill now stands, though there may be a good deal of justification for increasing the rates. I hope that the Minister will agree to alter the bill in the direction I have indicated. Such an alteration would make the measure more acceptable to everybody, and would dispose of a great deal of the criticism now being levelled at it.
– I have a great deal of sympathy with those in control of the post office in what they are proposing to do in this measure; but I do not think they will achieve their object even if Parliament gives effect to the bill now before it. The Minister has stated that owing to the very cheap rates at which newspapers may be sent through the ‘post-, namely, 20 ounces for lid., it is sometimes possible to send as many as 80 papers in bulk for that sum. In order to overcome that difficulty the Minister proposes to reclassify newspapers so that those publications such as periodicals and magazines which, in the opinion of the department, are not strictly newspapers, will come under a different heading, and be subject to an increased charge. It is proposed to charge a rate of 2£d. for 20 ounces on publications so classified. This does not seem to me to be a very great increase, and in listening to Senator Duncan I must confess that I was unable to see where any great injustice was being done, for, after all, it is only an increase of one penny on 20 ounces.
– It would fall heavily on the publisher who had made his contracts twelve months ahead.
– That difficulty can be overcome by allowing a certain amount of time to elapse before the act comes into operation. I contend, however, that the difference between 1½d. and 2-£d. on these publications is not really worth the trouble of making the alteration. I would suggest that an amendment to the following effect be made to the act: -
That all periodicals, whatever their size, weight, contents, or arrangement of matter, or interval of publication, shall be forwarded through the post at newspaper rates.
If that were put into operation it would matter very little to the post office what the definition of a newspaper might be. In conjunction with this amendment, however, I would make an alteration in the postal rates on newspapers; otherwise the position from the point of view of the post office would be worse than now. Instead of allowing newspapers to be sent in bulk through the post at the rate of l£d. for 20 ounces, I would fix a rate of £d. or a Jd. as decided on for each paper. At the present time, the Deputy Postmaster-Generals in the different centres often have great difficulty in determining whether or not a ‘certain publication comes within the definition of a newspaper; but if my amendment were given effect to, that difficulty would be overcome.
– How would the honorable senator deal with packages of newspapers going to newsagents?
– They should go through the post in the same way as letters, which is the practice followed in New Zealand, England and other countries. In New Zealand the charge is £d. for each newspaper, up to 5 oz. in weight, and beyond that the rate is higher. That system seems fair and reasonable, and might, I think, be properly introduced into Australia. The reason for the existing cheap postal rates on newspapers is that at the time of federation newspapers were carried free through the post and on the railways in Queensland and New South Wales. In Victoria there was a charge of id. for each separate paper, and there was probably a similar charge ii each of the remaining States. When it came to deciding after federation what the postal rates should be on newspapers, the decision was influenced by the fact that the two States which I have mentioned were not charging anything at all. At that time the representatives of New South Wales thought, as I myself did then, that newspapers should be carried free.
– How would the honorable senator get over the objection raised by Senator Greene? Would he require each newspaper to be despatched to newsagents under a separate cover?
– I take it that newspapers would be sent to the agents either by train, or in bulk through the post office at parcel rates. The trouble now, however, is that circulars may be classified as newspapers, and have to be delivered all round the town by lettercarriers, the post office receiving an absurdly small remuneration for the service rendered. I know that there are some people who say that advertising sheets should not be classed as newspapers for carriage through the post; but I consider that if a fair postage rate is paid it does not concern the post office whether they come under the heading of news or advertising matter. A case was quoted by Sir George Reid in which it was revealed in the law courts that because of an advertisement in a newspaper, 72 replies were sent through the post. It cost a shilling to insert the advertisement, hut the post office benefitted to the extent of the postage paid on 72 replies. As was pointed out by Senator Duncan, there are some periodicals, such as trade and technical journals, in which many people may actually- be more interested than they are in the daily newspapers. The present action of the Government is prompted by the fact that so many periodicals are crowding through the post that they are hampering sorting and delivering operations; but if my suggestion were adopted, and each of these publications charged separately, it would all mean additional revenue to the Post Office. I am of the opinion that the present proposal may actually defeat its own object. For instance, I know at the present time of two publications registered as newspapers, and both dealing with the same subject. One comes out very month, and the other every week. They are not heavy papers, and probably 40 or 50 would not weigh more than 20 oz. As a result of the increased rates now proposed on monthly publications, those publishing the monthly journal might be induced to bring it out once a week in order to receive the benefit of the newspaper postage rate, and thus give the Post Office four times as much work to do as before. With a view to overcoming such difficulties, I give notice of the amendment which I have outlined, and, if that is carried, I shall be prepared to move that newspapers or periodicals shall be charged £d. each for transmission through the post.
– Judging by the manner in which the Minister introduced this bill it would appear that he considers it to be of minor importance. He assured us that it contained no new principle. I do not share that opinion. On the contrary, some of the provisions of this measure I regard as so dangerous that honorable senators should hesitate before agreeing to them. Two matters of supreme importance to every citizen are the health and the education of the people. Thousands of pounds are spent annually in these directions. We should, therefore, pause before we place restrictions upon, or in any way injuriously affect, those periodicals which tend to improve the health or educational standards of the people. Journals which, for 40 or 50 years, have been registered as newspapers will, if this bill becomes law, no longer be so registered. The Minister said that the rates now charged to newspaper proprietors and newsagents for the postage of periodicals published weekly did not pay the Post Office. But is that not true also of the big daily newspapers of Australia, some of which are veritable gold mines to their owners? The profits made by the proprietors of such publications are so great that additional postage charges would scarcely be felt by them; but the proprietors of a number of periodicals which are published monthly or bimonthly, containing articles on health, domestic economy and hygiene, scientific and technical matters, art, literature, music, trade notes from all parts of the Commonwealth - in short, articles dealing with matters of great educational value to the community - are in an entirely different position. Many of them are struggling to make their publications pay. Now the Government proposes to deprive them of the privilege of forwarding their journals through the post at newspaper rates. They are to be penalized to the extent of having to pay 60 per cent, additional postage. This Parliament has not hesitated to protect Australian industries when a good case has been made out for their protection. The printing and publishing of these periodicals might well be regarded as an Australian industry. Moreover, it is an industry which disseminates useful knowledge throughout the country. Yet the Government, merely because the present rates of postage on these publications do not pay the Post Office, now proposes to increase the rates. Among the publications which will be affected by this bill are the following-^.
The Coach and Motor Builder for Australia and New Zealand.
Tlie Decorator and Painter for Australia and New Zealand.
The Australasian Saddler and Harness Maker.
The Australasian Grocer.
The Fruit World of Australasia.
Seedsman and Florist.
Australian Leather Journal, Boot and Shoe Recorder.
Australian Brewing and Wine Journal.
The Victorian Poultry Journal.
The Australasian Insurance and Banking Record.
Australian Farm andHome.
The Pastoral Review.
Chemical, Engineering and Mining Review-
Hardware and Machinery.
The Draper of Australasia.
Furniture and Furnishings.
The Chemist and Druggist of Australasia.
The Australian Traveller.
The Journal of Commerce of Victoria and Melbourne Prices Current.
Honorable senators will notice that the list includes The Pastoral Review. I hold no brief for that journal, because on numerous occasions it has said very hard things about the party of which I am a member, but for 50 years it has been registered as a newspaper.
-its circulation is 7,000 copies a month.
– The Australasian Insurance and Banking Record has also a large circulation. The readers of these and other journals are now to be penalized to make the Post Office pay. Why have these publications been singled out for special treatment? Can it be said that the big newspapers of Australia pay the Post Office when the rate for them is 11/2d. for 20 oz. ? It is true, as Senator Thomas said, that many newspapers are forwarded to their destinations by train as parcels, and not through the Post Office at all. On the other hand, thousands of copies of daily and weekly newspapers are sent by post each week at the rate of l1/2d. for every 20 oz. I am associated with a journal - not affected by this bill - which for nearly 25 years has enjoyed a privilege which now is to be taken away from other publications.
– One would have thought from the honorable senator’s remarks that his sympathies were with The Australasian Insurance and Banking Record.
– I am greatly concerned about this matter, although I have no monetary interest in the publication to which I have referred. I am interested in the dissemination of news and information throughout Australia, and whatever I can do to assist in the circulation of journals containing such information, I am prepared to do. I remind honorable senators that Australia is yet a young country, and that probably many of the journals which to-day are published monthly will, in the course of a few years, be issued weekly.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that The Pastoral Review is a newspaper?
– That journal contains information of value to -persons engaged in the pastoral industry. For 50 years its readers have had it forwarded to them at newspaper rates of postage, but now the Government proposes to discontinue that privilege. I hope that the Senate will hesitate before agreeing to alter the rates of postage on journals published monthly and bi-monthly.
The provisions in the bill to which I have referred, though important, are not so dangerous as are those contained in proposed new section 29b, which reads -
If, in the opinion of the Postmaster-General, any posted copy of a registered newspaper or registered periodical contains profane, Blasphemous, indecent, obscene, immoral, offensive, libellous or seditious matter, or if, in the opinion of the Postmaster-General, any registered newspaper or registered periodical is not, by reason of the proportion of. advertisements to other matter therein, or for any other reason, within the description of a newspaper or periodical as provided by section twentyeight or section twenty-eight a (as the case may be) of this act, he may, by notice, call upon the proprietor, printer or publisher of the newspaper or periodical to show cause, within the time specified in the notice, why the newspaper or periodical should not be removed from the register, and if within that time sufficient causehas not, in the opinion of the Postmaster-General, been shown, he may direct the Deputy Director to remove the newspaper or periodical from the register, and upon such removal the newspaper or periodical shall be deemed not to be registered.
That is an entirely new principle.
– If the honorable senator will compare the provision in the bill with section 29, sub-section 1 of the principal act, he will find that there is not very much difference.
– That section mentions only indecent or obscene matter in any publication.
– Does the honorable senator object to the insertion of the word “seditious”?
– The honorable senator said that the provisions of the principal act were the same as those in the bill. Now that I have shown that they are altogether different, he is trying to fence the question. The memorandum circulated by the Minister states that the new provisions in the bill are printed in black type. This provision to which I am referring is so printed. I ask Senator Greene, seriously, whether he approves of that provision?
– I say that there is practically no difference between the two.
– The difference is as great as that between night and day. The word “ offensive “ does not occur in the principal act. Offensive to whom - the Postmaster-General or themembers of the Cabinet? Let me state a hypothetical case. Supposing that I should decide to start a newspaper, and that the first copy which I submitted for registration contained an article which, in the language of Sir Neville Howse at a meeting of Nationalists held in Sydney on Friday, the 31st March,stated that a member of the ministry, or one of its supporters, was a liar, and knew that he was a liar; or, in the language of the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), that he had “ got away with the loot !” Would that be considered offensive?
– I suggest that the honorable senator ask leave to continue; we do not propose to sit after dinner.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 6.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 May 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280510_senate_10_118/>.