17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon. Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-In view of the fact that Lady Gowrie centres have been established in all the capital cities of Australia, and have proved of great value to people interested in child welfare, will the Minister for Health give favorable consideration to setting up a similar centre in the highly industrialized’ city of Newcastle?
– It is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to encourage inquiry and activity in the matter of the education of pre-school children. In accordance with that policy, the Government has financed pre-school kindergartens at Lady Gowrie centres in. each of the capital cities of Australia. Recently, it decided to continue ‘ its assistance to those centres for a further three years, at acost of £20,000 per annum. That decision has given much satisfaction to the committees which are giving voluntary service at those centres. The Government recognizes, however, that it has no general powers in regard to education, whichis primarily a matter for the States. This gesture is in the nature of a pilot-plant in. order to demonstrate what can be done in the field of pre-school child education. I doubt that the Government will consider favorably an extension of these centres beyond the capital cities of Australia ; it may prefer to leave such matters to the States, as it is their legitimate field. I shall give further consideration to the honorable senator’s request.
BROADCASTING of PROCEEDINGS
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping been drawn to the following report which appeared on page 9 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 22nd July under the heading “ Propaganda in Parliamentary Broadcasts “ : -
Parliamentary broadcasts had caused question time to degenerate into a Government propaganda session at the taxpayers’ expense, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) said to-night.
Mr. Menzies returned, to Brisbane by plane after a three-day tour of North Queensland.
– Order ! The honorable senator may not read newspaper extracts when asking a question, but may refer in general terms to what appears in newspaper reports.
– I now ask the Minister whether there is any law to prevent Mr. Menzies, or other members of Parliament, from gallivanting around the Commonwealth on political propaganda work whilst the Parliament is sitting? If not, is there any law which would enable the Treasury to make a deduction from their parliamentary allowances, or impose a personal charge on such members, for their travel privileges ?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred, but I do not think that there is any law to prevent any politician, or the leader of a political party, from travelling anywhere in Australia. I am not in a position to give the other information sought by the honorable- senator.
– For the information of the public and the Senate, can you, Mr. President, explain why, during the three weeks of the current sittings in which debates are being broadcast, the proceedings of the House of Representa tives will occupy the whole of the time allotted to broadcasting with the exception of one day? Is this arrangement to be regarded as ia slight to the Senate? Should the Senate be obliged to continue its sittings for a week or a fortnight after the sittings of the House of Representatives have ended, will the- committee controlling the broadcasts have power to terminate the broadcasting of the Senate’s proceedings ? - The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown). - I again remind honorable senators that it . is not in order to address questions to the President. However, the honorable senator’s questions are of paramount public importance, and it behoves me to answer them briefly. To answer the second question first, I say in fairness to the committee that no, slight has’ been offered to the Senate. This chamber stands very high in the opinion of the House of Representatives. Undoubtedly the facts are as stated by Senator Aylett. During the three weeks period of parliamentary broadcasting ending on Friday . next, the Senate will have been on the air for. only one day. This is due to the fact that the committee, in its wisdom, has so decided. “When the committee, in further exercise of its wisdom, decides that the Senate shall “go on the air “, that will be done. It is well for the public to understand that honorable senators on the committee have not acted in any way that is derogatory to, the Senate, because’ they have pressed for the allotment of more broadcasting time to this chamber. Unfortunately, the com,mittee is so constituted as to have on it a majority of members of the House of Representatives. Naturally, they view their own affairs with special favour and have allotted themselves a greater period for broadcasting than has been allotted to the Senate. I remind honorable senators that, on every day on which the broadcast is made from the House of Representatives while the Senate is sitting, a recording of questions in the Senate will be broadcast between 7.20 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. In answer to the third question, the committee would undoubtedly have power to discontinue broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings if the Senate continued to sit after the House of Representatives bad gone into recess. However, by no stretch of imagination can I agree with the conclusion implied in the honorable senator’s question. Most certainly, if the House of Representatives is not sitting while the Senate is sitting, the proceedings of the Senate will be broadcast.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for. Commerce and Agriculture the following questions : -
– I have already caused an investigation to be made along the lines desired by the honorable senator, and. when the information is to hand I shall make it available to him.
Telephone Installations - Elizabethstreet Melbourne, Post OFFICE - Newcastle Mail’ Services.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral the following questions : -
– The principal cause of the delay in providing additional telephone services in South Australia is lack of suitable buildings, equipment and man-power. As quickly as these shortages are overcome the work of installing telephones will be proceeded with. I shall obtain the information asked for in questions 2 and 3, and will supply the information to the honorable senator later. In answer to the fourth question, I give to the honorable senator an assurance- that so far as it is humanly possible, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will expedite the provision of additional telephone’ facilities.
– In view of the answer which the Postmaster-General gave to a question which I asked last week regarding the possibility of providing more suitable accommodation for persons desiring to make trunk line calls at the Elizabeth-street Post Office, Melbourne, will he indicate whether it is the intention of the department to provide improved waiting accommodation at country post offices for persons desiring to effect telephone calls?
– The policy of the department is to provide adequate conveniences at country post offices wherever they are considered to be necessary. That policy has been given effect for some considerable time. If Senator Sheehan, or any other honorable senator/ has in mind any post office at which adequate conveniences are not provided, I ask them to bring the details to my notice, and I shall see what can be done in the matter.-
– On the 3rd July, Senator Arnold asked if I would have inquiries made regarding the complaint that four or five days elapse between the despatch of first-class mail matter from Sydney and its delivery in Newcastle. I am now able to state that an investigation has been made into the matter of delay in the delivery in Newcastle of first-class mail matter despatched f-om Sydney, and my inquiries disclose that mails are forwarded from Sydney to Newcastle four times daily, excluding Sundays, with an extra despatch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in accordance with the following schedule : -
An additional mail which was despatched from Sydney at 1.45 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays has been temporarily discontinued, in view of the recent cancellation of the train by which it was carried. The investigations have not revealed any evidence that the delivery of first-class mail matter is being delayed, but if the honorable senator has any particular delay in mind and will supply me with particulars, I shall have the circumstances investigated in order to ascertain the cause.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture read an announcement in the press that Australian officials in London are reporting to the Department of Commerce and Agriculture on an amazing synthetic butler process revealed by allied technical experts studying German industry, and, if so, can he inform the Senate whether that report has yet been received, and whether the process is likely to have any serious effect on the Australian dairying industry?
– I have not seen the report, but I shall draw the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to the honorable senator’s question.
– Will the Minister representing (he Minister, for Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are: -
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer inform me whether any remission of income tax is conceded in respect of private donations for the planning, construction and maintenance of community centres or other amenities by local government authorities ? . ‘
– I shall obtain from the Treasurer the information sought by the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister . representing the Minister for Works and Housing -
– The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied, the following answers:-
– In view of the dire need of food in Great Britain, many people in this country are sending parcels to friends and relatives in the United Kingdom. In some instances the postage on these parcels costs nearly as much as the food they contain. I ask the Postmaster-General if he will consider reducing the postage charge substantially.
– Postal rates on food parcels sent from Australia to Great Britain are fixed mainly by the
British authorities. We have made representations for a reduction, of the charges but, up to date, for reasons best known to themselves, the British authorities have not agreed to our requests.
– I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs has a reply to a question which I asked with respect to supplies of steel sheet in 1947. .
– On the 19th July, the honorable senator asked, without notice, whether there was an embargo on the importation of steel sheets from the United Kingdom. I now inform him that there is no embargo’ on the importation of steel sheets from the United Kingdom. Licences are being issued freely for the full quantity made available by the United Kingdom authorities for shipment to Australia from production during the first half of 1946. There is a world-wide shortage of steel sheet, and the above-mentioned quantity - approximately 3,500 tons - was made available as a result of cabled representations through the Resident Minister’s office, London,- stressing the urgent need for steel sheet for motor vehicle and refrigerator production in this country. Advice ‘is still awaited from the London office, of the quantity allocated to Australia from United Kingdom production during the second half of 1946. The importance of steel sheet in post-war rehabilitation plans is fully recognized, and licences have been issued covering all steel sheets of suitable types available for shipment . from North America.
Accommodation - Buildings - Benefits
– I ask the Minister for Health whether, in view of the extreme shortage of hospital accommodation in South Australia, particularly maternity hospitals, he can advise me what action has been taken by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the States to overcome this vexatious problem? Can he say what is the cause of this appalling shortage of accommodation? Is it due to the miserable conditions and low rates of remuneration which fail to attract sufficient employees to staff the hospitals adequately?. Or is it due to a shortage of man-power and materials for the erection of new hospitals, or to the short-sighted policy and maladministration of previous governments? In view of the paramount importance of this question to the health of our people will the Minister endeavour to place the subject on the agenda for discussion at the forthcoming conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, to enable the . Commonwealth, in co-operation with the States, to formulate a. comprehensive policy for the complete rectification of the present appalling position within a stipulated period?
– I am indebted to the honorable senator for some little forewarning of the question, which, shall I say, he has just levelled at me. In fairness to the honorable senator, I may say that his question is not a “ Dorothy Dix “, about which we have heard so much recently in the Senate. In my experience as a member of the Senate during the past two years, this chamber has been singularly free from that kind of question. T do not propose to lend myself to that practice. The honorable senator originated his question, as he has originated every question he has asked me in this chamber.
– I am afraid that the Minister doth protest too much.
– That may be so; but my protest is called for in view of, what has been said in certain quarters on the matter. The honorable senator’s question opens up many matters. I shall deal briefly with them. As to how far the Commonwealth is prepared to cooperate with the States to provide increased hospital accommodation, the Commonwealth has not power under the Constitution to provide hospitals. That is peculiarly a matter for the States. The Commonwealth, , certainly, has .power to provide hospital accommodation in the territories under its control, namely, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and the Mandated Territories, but those territories constitute a very small field for Commonwealth activity. The Commonwealth is, in fact, makins; a very substantial contribution to the solution of the problem of hospital accommodation in two ways. Insofar as the States use borrowed money to establish hospital accommodation, and the States very largely do that, the Commonwealth contributes one-third of the amount required to extinguish the debt over a period . of years. Under the Financial Agreement the Commonwealth is contributing one-third of the total cost of hospitals built by the States from loan funds. Recently, this Parliament passed a measure providing hospital benefits for the people. Under that measure an amount of 6s. a day for each occupied bed is made available to the States. The whole of that amount is not required to compensate the hospitals in respect of the collections they were previously making. A substantial proportion, approximately one-quarter, of the 6s. is put .aside by the States for capital purposes, that is, for the purpose of building hospitals and providing plant and equipment for those hospitals. The Commonwealth further intends, as the States can undertake hospital building and accommodation, to assist the States financially. It has already committed itself in that respect.
With regard to the honorable senator’s second question as to how many factors contribute to the present shortage, those factors are legion. The honorable senator inquired as to the’ position of nurses and staffs in hospitals. I admit frankly that room for improvement exists in that respect, and that poor conditions of employment in many instance’s discourage females who may be employed in professional and non-professional classes from seeking employment in ‘hospitals. Recently, the Government, recognizing that difficulty, declared hospitals a vital industry and provided that 75 per cent, of the male rates shall be paid to domestic staffs in all hospitals. That has meant a substantial increase of the wages bill of all hospitals, and to a degree has been responsible for the increased charges recently authorized by the Prices Commissioner.
With regard to the shortage of manpower required for the construction of hospitals, such difficulties have been with us ever since the depression. In those years apprentices for the building trade were not trained, and right up to the outbreak of the last war we felt the repercussion of that period in the building trades. There are not sufficient men in the building trade, and six years of war have accentuated the shortage; but even in war time the Government, through the Department of War Organization of Industry, relaxed its controls when it became a matter of providing maternity or hospital accommodation throughout Australia. That was done very generally even during the war. The necessary materials for hospital building are in short supply, but are coming through rapidly, and I believe that the shortage will be overcome before very long. With regard to the third portion of the second question, I point out that, had extensive plans of hospital building been undertaken during the depression years - arid that should have been done in the interests of both economy and public health - the shortage which we are suffering to-day would not be nearly so bad as it is.
– The plans would be out of date now.
– In Tasmania, the Labour Government, which came into power in 1934, immediately after the depression, embarked on a broad plan of hospital construction and erected some excellent institutions. The progress of that scheme was interrupted by the’ outbreak of war.
– Tasmania still leads the rest of Australia in that regard.
– I should not be surprised if that is true. The Labour party also embarked upon an excellent scheme for giving medical assistance in country centres to people who’ otherwise would be without such assistance. In answer to the third question, I am prepared to consider the honorable senator’s suggestion that the subject of hospital accommodation be placed upon- the agendum for the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. However, I repeat that the Commonwealth lacks power in this connexion and that a great deal will depend upon the outcome of the social services referendum to be held later this year.
– Pursuant to a question which I asked last week regarding the payment of pre-natal and postnatal allowances to mothers, should administrative difficulties prevent such payments being generally made on a weekly basis, will the Minister for Social Services consider authorizing weekly payments in necessitous cases or when application for such payment is made by a prospective mother? If this course be agreed to, will the Minister see that the decision is publicized so that the concession may be availed of by those who require it?
– After the honorable senator asked her previous question, I took up the matter with the department and inquiries are now on foot to ascertain whether some of the administrative difficulties which I envisaged can be overcome. One of the difficulties that is readily apparent is that of ‘fixing one of the most important elements, namely, the exact date of confinement of a prospective mother. The determination. of the pre-natal period of four weeks is contingent upon that very interesting but variable event. I see little difficulty about making payment of the allowance in respect of a child and in respect of the four weeks ‘ antecedent to confinement at a fairly early date. I assure the honorable senator that the matter is receiving full consideration.
Occupation FORCE in Japan.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army been drawn to a statement appearing in to-day’s issue of the Brisbane Courier Mail under the heading “ Diggers Jap Camp Disgrace “ ? Is it a fact that Lieutenant-General Northcott stated in May last that the conditions under which Australian troops had to live in J apan were a disgrace to those responsible? Is it a fact that, acting on the information given in this ‘ statement, special Australian Comforts Fund officials were sent to Japan to investigate and report on the living conditions of Australian troops? Also, is it a fact that this , report more than confirmed the statements made by Lieutenant-General Northcott? If so, what action does the Minister intend to take to have the con.ditions of Australian troops in Japan speedily and materially improved?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator. However, I shall ask the Minister for the Army to investigate’ his complaint to see whether it can be rectified.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army state “whether the Government has received a report from Major-General Robertson, Commander in Chief of the British Occupation Force in Japan, that the Australian troops there need certain amenities to maintain their morale? If so, what action does the Government propose to take to meet the requests contained in Major-General Robertson’s report ?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for the Army.
– In view of investigations” being made by the Government into the mechanization of primary industries, I ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether the Government will, in order to protect primary producers, direct special attention to the class of materials being used in the manufacture of farm machinery and to the high pi-ices charged for such machinery.
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Government, and see what can be done regarding it.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture indicate in detail what increases of prices have been obtained by the Government in respect of the sales of wool overseas during the war and since, and will he also state the extent to which these increases have helped the wool-growers ? “ Senator J. M. FRASER.- Shortly after the present Government took office, it sought and obtained a 15 per cent. increase of the average price of wool sold to the Government of Great Britain under a, war-time agreement. The value of the clips marketed since then is £391,000,000, and the increased return to the producers would therefore be 15 per cent, of that figure. It has been agreed under the new wool scheme that the reserve price at present will! be 18.15d. per lb., Australian currency, less a contributory charge of ,91d. per lb. This will give growers an average return of 18.15d. per lb., or an increase of 1.79d. per lb. more than the price paid by the United Kingdom Government under the war-time agreement.
– On the 26th June, Senator Collett asked me whether I had received from the organized poultry-farmers of. Western Australia a request for assistance in respect of the increasing costs of fodder and other items essential to the industry, and what action was being taken to meet the situation. A reply was given to the effect that no representations had been made. I regret that the information supplied to the honorable senator was incorrect. Representations were made by the organiized poultry-farmers of Western Australia in connexion with assistance to the poultry industry. A number of applications which have been made to the Government by organizations representing the poultry industry in various States either for an increase of the price of eggs, or a subsidy to offset increased costs of poultry feed &c, are at present under consideration.
– In view of the wide publicity given recently to espionage control in Canada, and the extensive and dangerous plotting of foreign agents in a friendly country, which was disclosed in evidence given before the Canadian courts, will the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General assure the Senate that adequate steps have been taken in Australia to ensure that no such spy ring exists in this country? Will the Minister have a review made of the Investigation Branch of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, with a view to increasing its status and, if necessary, increasing the staff of qualified investigators, to cope with any eventuality in the direction mentioned?
– I am confident that the Attorney-General’s Department has taken adequate steps to ensure that this country did not take any risks during the recent war. I am sure, too, that the administrative body charged with the maintenance of security is adequate for the purpose. However, I should like the honorable senator to have a complete and considered reply to his question, and in order to give the Acting AttorneyGeneral an opportunity to supply it, I suggest that he should place the question on the notice-paper.
Hotel Lounge Prices
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether there is any foundation for the report in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph that a prices order prepared by the New SouthWales Prices Branch to control Sydney hotel lounge prices had mysteriously disappeared in Canberra, where it was sent -to be gazetted two months ago? If so will the Minister supply details of the circumstances? Has the order been found, and does the Government intend to gazette it?
– I have no knowledge of any such document having been missed from the Prices Branch. I shall have the matter investigated, and if the document has been lost I shall do what I can to have it located.
– Will the Government consider calling an industrial peace conference between representatives of employers and employees organizations on the 29th July, the date of the opening of the World Peace Conference in Paris, where Senator Donald Grant, the wellknown Sydney Domain orator, is to advise Dr. Evatt as to what is best for Australia ?
– Now that parliamentary proceedings are being broadcast it is becoming the practice to ask questions containing political propaganda. The Government does not intend to call any such conference as that referred to in the honorable senator’s question.
– Can the Minister for Health say whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce legislation to amend the Unemployment and SicknessBenefits Act so as to ensure that a war pension shall not be regarded as income when calculating the weekly allowance provided for under that act?
– It is not the intention of the Government to introduce such legislation during the life of the present Parliament.
– On the 23rd July Senator Collett asked the Minister representing the Minister for Information the following question, upon notice: -
Will the Minister representing the Minister for Information lay upon the table of the Library the scripts of the Australian broadcasts made from the radio station at Shepparton ?
The Minister for Information has supplied the following answer : -
The scripts broadcast over the Shepparton transmitters of Radio Australia have been forwarded regularly to the Parliamentary Librarian over a long period and are available to the honorable gentleman on request.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Efficiency and costs of production in Australian industries.
Pressed metal panels, tyres and tubes and batteries for motor vehicles - Question of by-law admission.
Sealed mechanical refrigeration units.
Ordered to be printed.
– Has the
Leader of the Senate seen the press statement attributed to Senator Foll that “ cells “ have been at work and have deposed him as a Liberal candidate at the next general elections? Will the Government make inquiries to ascertain whether . those “ cells “ are of Communist or Fascist origin ?
– Order! The question may be of considerable interest to some Queensland people; but it is not of sufficient.public importance to justify an answer.
Motion (by Senator Clothier) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Lamp on account of absence overseas on urgent public business.
Status op EX-SERVICEMEN.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the abolition of section 84 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act has prejudiced .the chances of the ex-servicemen ever attaining permanent status; if so, will the Minister ask the Prime Minister to reconsider his reply to Senator Brand on 2nd April, with the object of restoring tha.t vital clause.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has supplied the following answer: -
The abolition of section 84 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act has not deprived ex-servicemen of attaining permanent status in the Commonwealth Public Service. It has, however, had the effect of giving all exservicemen, an equal chance of obtaining permanent positions, for which of course, they enjoy preferential rights.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied the following answers : -
Questionnaire to Schools
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Information, upon notice -
– The Minister for Information has supplied the following answers : -
In recent months, American magazines have been concentrating upon the attitude of American youth to the problems of the future, and I cannot help feeling that it istime that some survey was made of the feelings and desires of young people in Australia. I intend to write an article for publication abroad, dealing with this subject .
With that aim in view, I am trying to find out the attitude of mind, particularly with regard to the future, of the average Australian boy of high school age. It seems to me that a survey over a number of schools is the best way to do this, and I have evolved a set of questions whose answers will, I think, give me some idea of what I want to knowI wonder if you would be good enoughto put them to the leaving certificate boys of your school.
My only fear is that the answers given might be those that the boys feel would be expected, rather than those that they would give in discussion among themselves. I should be most grateful if you would do your best to circumvent this.
If it is possible, I would like you to send me the boys’ actual answers to the questions, so that I can make an accurate analysis over the whole country. I am making this request to about thirty schools, and I feel that answers from twenty boys in eachcase will be sufficient.
I shall be most grateful if you will help me with this task, which I can only hope to carry out with your assistance and that of your colleagues in other schools. If you are interested in the results, I shall be only too glad to send them to you.
Yours very sincerely,
Vehicles - Discharges - .303 Rifles and Ammunition
asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as under : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) and (b). Existing stocks of rifles are onlysufficient to meet interim and post-war Army requirements and it is not possible at the present time to release any new or reconditioned rifles for sale to the public; (c) 7,000,000 rounds of . 303 ammunition have been released for this purpose and sufficient stocks are held for anticipated further releases that may be required.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice-
Regulations (Season 1941-42) - Audit questions on processing companies’ accounts of this season referredtoin my previous report remain unanswered.
Season 1942-43. The statement in respect of the processing company’s operations, which had not been presented for audit at date of last year’s report, is still outstanding.
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Min ister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : - 1. (a) It is understood that the fat lamb industry in Tasmania has been developed on a satisfactory basis but that production during the past two or three years was reduced considerably owing to the desire of certain lamb producers to take advantage of the higher returns secured from cash-cropping rather than proceed with the production of fat lambs; (b) The reports received recently from London indicate that the quality of some Tasmanian lambs, together with lambs from certain portions of the mainland, has been particularly good and equal to that of the best lambs imported into the United Kingdom; (o) No; there is a limit to the possible expansion of the fat lamb industry in Tasmania.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator J. M. Fraser) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
This bill provides for the stabilization of the wheat industry in Australia. The provisions of the plan are -
The plan is designed to provide for stabilized returns over a period of years. Funds will be held on account of growers in years’ of high prices, and paid out in years of low prices. But the Government underwrites the scheme to the extent of guaranteeing that, whatever be the rise or fall of the market over five years, the farmer will receive a return of not less than 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. bagged at ports each season. The plan provides security for the industry which, next to> wool, is the most important in Australia’srural economy. It affects between 60,000’ and 70,000 growers in all States, and deals with problems which are very important not only to the growers directly concerned hut also to all Australian governments. The details have been discussed with State governments and with growers. It is now presented as a plan which meets the needs* of the industry, and one in which State governments will co-operate so that the united powers of Commonwealth and States can be used to further a mea’sure” to which all Australian governments agree.
Stabilization of the wheat industry has been discussed for many years. The industry is subject to sharp changes because prices are so uncertain, and the rapidity with which prices fluctuate, added to the wide price variation, has made the return to growers more than usually uncertain. For ten years before the war, prices were ruinous, and the wheat-growers needed constant assistance from governments. That condition may return within a few years unless action be taken now. The present plan is intended to give to growers a guarantee of a floor price for a reasonable time ahead, and so to remove the uncertainty about the future as much as we reasonably can.
At present, export prices are high, but wheat surpluses build up quickly, although they do not disappear quickly. When the countries overseas, are doing their best to provide all kinds of food, as they are now, their need for food, with the “fact that prices are high, is likely to change the supply position from one of scarcity to one. of over-supply within a few seasons. It is unsafe to count on high prices continuing, and it is necessary to guard against any return to the depressed conditions in the wheat industry, which existed before the war. Australia sells most of its wheat overseas, and so depends on the overseas market to decide what the return to the grower will be. The market is keenly competitive, and although Australia is an important exporter our production is only a small part of the total world production. We sell a large part of our crop overseas, but our supplies exert little influence on prices overseas. This makes the wheat-grower’s income particularly uncertain, and affected by factors outside his control.
Another aspect is that a period of high prices .tends to make the industry overcapitalized and economically unstable. There is a regular change in the industry with old growers retiring and new ones coming in. High prices bring an additional influx of new growers and new land. T.hey come into the industry on inflated values, and are unable to stand up to .the impact of low prices when the inevitable price swing comes. All these factors .which have been -recognized for years are at the. back of the constant, request by wheat-growers’ organizations’ for a stabilized industry, and the Commonwealth and State Governments have: recognized the need. Now, it is :intended to. meet this need.
I have .summarized the various points of the . plan. The first is a fixed price of 5s.. ‘2d. a bushel f.o.r. ports for bagged. :f.a.q.;. wheat used in Australia. This extends the home consumption price princible adopted in 1938. At present it applies to wheat used for local flour, but in future.. it will apply to all wheat used in Australia. We can control local prices, and this alone provides stability for about one-third of our normal crop. That portion of the crop will not be subject to fluctuations which follow the uncertain movements of the overseas market. Growers will receive the price irrespective of overseas movements, and consumers in Australia will pay the fixed price regardless of . the movement of export prices. Both will forgo the alternation of benefit1 and disadvantage which price variation brings, and in the long run both growers and consumers will be better off through having a constant price which is fair to all.
The Government guarantees a minimum price for export wheat of 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. bagged. Growers know for five seasons that they will not get less than this price although they may get more. If prices fall growers are protected against the effect of low returns, and they can arrange their farm programme with an assurance of a fixed price i which they have never had before. Growers are to contribute 50 per cent, of the excess export return to a stabilization fund. It is generally agreed that when prices are high growers should contribute, and a basis of fifty-fifty is accepted a.s fair. It has been accepted by growers’ organizations and Governments as a reasonable contribution by growers for their own benefit later. It should be noted that this contribution applies to export wheat. The contribution begins with the 1945-46 season, from which the return will be high. Growers have accepted the principle of contribution in high-price years, and it is impossible to give a guarantee on the present basis unless they make a reasonable contribution for their own benefit. The 1945- 46 crop must therefore be included, and growers’ representatives agreed to the inclusion when the plan was discussed with them.
When export prices fall, the fund will be used to meet the guarantee by making up the difference between the actual export return and . the guarantee. It will be - a trust fund. As this is a season of high export prices there will be a credit in the fund from the outset. It is intended that the growers’ contribution will not be more than a reasonable sum, and that the amount in the fund will not become excessive. The Commonwealth will provide the money to meet the guaranteed price if the fund becomes exhausted. Having asked the growers for a reasonable contribution the Commonwealth accepts the additional liability if prices abroad are so low that the fund cannot meet the guarantee. In conformity with the decision that the growers’ contribution should be reasonable, it is intended this year not to apply the contribution beyond 9s.6d. a bushel for bagged wheat. Export prices are now above that price, but the fifty-fifty basis will apply between 5s. 2d. and 9s. 6d., so the maximum contribution will be 2s. 2d. a bushel. Everything received for export above that price will go into the pool for distribution to growers.
The plan has an original term of five year’s. This has been taken as a reasonable guarantee period. It is intended that the scheme will be. permanent and subject to constant review. Any review will not affect guarantees already given, but before the expiration of three years the next period will be considered. It is intended then to give a guarantee for another period, which will not necessarily be five years; and then by constant reviews to provide a guarantee to wheat-growers so that they can plan their farming with a definite minimum price for a period ahead. The world wheat market is uncertain, and subject to violent fluctuations. We have to sell our wheat on a competitive market to which we must adapt our methods, but we will prevent injury to the industry caused by rapid falls in price. The guarantee will give the wheatgrowers , time to conform to overseas market trends without suffering the disruption they have caused in the past.
The plan can work only if the Commonwealth and States use their respective powers in co-operation, and the scheme provides an outstanding example of agreement between Commonwealth and State governments in solving Australia’s greatest agricultural problem. I have given an outline of the plan; but reference must also be made to the machinery for operating it. This covers two important features, first, the marketing of wheat; and, secondly, the regulation of production. . The Commonwealth will use its export powers, and the States their powers in marketing of production. The war-time marketing operations in wheat have been very successful. The system is established and is working smoothly, and its operations are familiar. Growers wish to continue the present form of marketing and after meeting all the difficulties during the war period it can now be adapted to those of peace.
The plan provides for acontinuanceof the marketing of wheat on an Australian pool system, with an AustralianWheat Board constituted on the samelinesas the present one. Complementary legisla - tion by the States is intended to provide for marketing through the board.The board will be a federal body, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth and the States to carry out a joint policy. The marketing organization needs extensive powers to enable it to deal with the receival, handling, and sale of our crops.During the war the Australian Wheat Boardhas had those powers, and for the futureit seems that they do not need tobe altered. The present act confers the necessary powers, so far as the Commonwealth can give them, and the complementary State legislation is intendedto provide those powers which come within the ambit of the States. The boardwill therefore be able to deal withwheatin the manner well known to growers,and approved by them.
The other aspect is control of production. The Commonwealth has thispower within its territories, andtheStates exercise it within their borders.Asthe States produce practically thewholeof Australia’s wheat this is one partofthe plan which could not possibly operate without the fullest State co-operation. The State legislation is intendedtogive that co-operation. The Stateswillcontrol production within theirownareas, and, in fact, the State organizationshave been doing so during the war years.
To ensure that the regulations shallbe uniform throughout Australia, State representatives will be membersofthe CommonwealthStabilization-Board which will be concerned largelywith uniformity of administration.The general principle of regulationof production is recognized by governments and growers. Wheat-growers, like other farmers, are essentially individualists, and as a general rule do not like regulations;but they know that regulation is essential in anystabilization plan. Having had the experience of the system during the war they consider it the fairest and most effective method of providing for sound development of the industry in the future. The policy of an “open go” has had disastrous results in the past, and the industry is determined to avoid those results in the future. To avoid disaster, wheat-growers are ready to co-operate with the Government in the regulation of production, because they recognize it as desirable. The necessity for regulation arises from the uncertainty df conditions in the industry. The swing from a shortage to a glut is a regular occurrence which keeps the industry unstable both in Australia and overseas. At present there is a shortage of wheat, but no one expects that to last, and the next swing may come within a short period. It is too late to take action when it does come, so wo must prepare for it now; and the best way to do so is by making our plans so that we will not over-produce for a glutted market.
Adequate production, with a price “which is fair to both growers and consumers is the aim. There is no reason to assume that Australia will need to reduce its production below the normal pre-war figure. It is, however, essential that , any expansion should be supervised carefully. Wheat-growers cannot enter the industry and leave it at short notice. Once. committed to the initial expense they are expected to engage in the industry for a term of years, and the entry of new growers must be directed according to the prospects for several years ahead. Unwarranted expansion affects not only the newcomers, but also the whole industry. Regulation of production is necessary to safeguard’ growers, and to adjust our supplies to the markets. Having made provision in that direction the framework of a plan which will confer great benefits »n Australia’s wheat farmers should be complete.
Debate (on motion by Senator MoLeay) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator- J. M. Fraser) read a first time.
Senator J. itf. Fraser.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is complementary to the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill. It imposes a charge on wheat of the 1945-46 and later seasons exported from the Commonwealth, and provides for imposing and collecting the charge. It provides for the growers’ contribution to- the Wheat Stabilization Fund in years of high prices. The charge will be 50 per cent, or less of the surplus of export prices above the guaranteed price of 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.r. ports for bagged wheat. It is intended that the growers’ contribution shall not exceed 50 per cent. of the surplus export price, and it is intended also that the stabilization fund will not be built up to an excessive amount. Growers are asked to make a fair contribution only; the variations of future export prices cannot be foreseen accurately. For this reason, there is a provision that the contribution may be prescribed by regulation at a rate lower than’ 50 per cent. This course will be adopted when justified. It will, in fact, apply to the present pool, because the Government has decided that the contribution will not apply this season to export prices above 9s. 6d. a bushel in bags, so that for the present pool the contribution will be 2s. ‘2d. a bushel on export wheat, and the whole of the return above that will be paid into the Australian Wheat Board’s funds for payment to growers. The reason for the decision to apply a smaller charge than 50 per cent, this season is that export prices have risen since the calculations of financial returns were made. If 50 per cent, were collected the growers’ contribution would be higher than the first estimates, and it has been decided to give the full’ benefit of the increase to the growers. This will give them this season an additional amount, estimated at 6d. a bushel, on all wheat exported from the current wheat pool. Other provisions of the bill include convenient methods of payment so that the disbursements to be made by the Australian Wheat Board will be based on the total transactions of the pool. This is more convenient than making a large number of payments to cover each, seperate shipment overseas.
Debate (on motion by Senator MoLeay) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives. .
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a. first time.
.- I move- .
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill needs little explanation, its purpose being to provide for a change in name of war savings certificates and war savings stamps. Owing to the termination of the war, those designations are inappropriate and it has been decided that future issues will be known as savings certificates and savings certificate stamps. This requires legislative authority, and this bill is designed to provide the necessary amendment to the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act. The terms of sale and redemption of the savings certificates and savings certificate stamps will be exactly the same as those of the war savings certificates and war savings stamps which they replace.
– I support the bill. It provides only for a change of. the names of war savings certificates and war savings stamps and, therefore, it need not be debated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment ‘or debate.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 19th July (vide page 2827).
New clause 18d.
Motion (by Senator Cameron) proposed -
That, after clause 18c, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 18d. - (1.) The promotion of an officer to a vacant position shall be provisional and without increased salary pending confirmation of the promotion, and shall be notified in the prescribed manner, and shall be subject to appeal as provided by this section. “ (2.) Any officer who considers that he should have been promoted to a vacant position in preference to the officer provisionally promoted, may appeal to .the Promotions Appeal Board on the ground pf superior efficiency or equal efficiency and seniority. “ (3) The regulations may prescribe the manner in which, and the time within which, appeals may be made under this section. “ (4.) Upon any such appeal being made, the Promotions Appeal Board shall make full inquiry into the claims of the appellant and those of the officer provisionally promoted and shall determine the appeal. “ (5.) Where the appeal is upheld the appellant shall be promoted to the vacant position and the provisional promotion shall be cancelled. “ (G.) Where the appeal is disallowed, or where no appeal is lodged within the prescribed time, the provisional promotion shall be confirmed. “ (7.) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the Commission may, at any time after notification has been made of a provisional promotion to a vacant position, and before the promotion has been confirmed, cancel the provisional promotion if the Commission is satisfied that the position is unnecessary or can be filled by the transfer of another officer, or that in the circumstances notification or further notification of the .vacant position is desirable. “ (8.) The powers of the Commission under the last preceding sub-section may be exercised whether an appeal has been made or’ not.”
.- -I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.) of the proposed new clause, after the word “ efficiency “ second occurring, the following words be inserted: - “ war service “.
The adoption of the amendment would make clear that, in the event of two men with equal qualifications applying for promotion, an applicant who has war service to his credit must be selected. Another clause provides for consideration to be given to war service in deciding what position an ex-serviceman should occupy in the employment of the commission. The object of my amendment is to give credit to an ex-serviceman for his war service, so that he may be assured of promotion in preference to a man with equal qualifications who has not rendered war service. I realize that the Postmaster-General is as anxious as is the Opposition to protect the interests of ex-servicemen, and therefore I ask him to accept my amendment so that whoever may be charged with the administration of this legislation will be obliged to give preference to exservicemen.
– I have previously stated that preference to ex-servicemen is part and parcel of the Government’s policy and is provided for in the Re-establishment and Employment Act. Furthermore, I submit that such preference is adequately provided for in this bill.
– The weakness of the Minister’s statement is that the present Government cannot commit its successors to its- policy. The Minister should state that war service will be taken into consideration in assessing the seniority rights of an employee of the commission. I can imagine the case of two young men at the age of eighteen years, one entering the armed forces and the other securing employment with Cable and Wireless Limited or Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. What would happen if the former, on discharge from the armed forces, secured employment with the
N commission? We should make clear beyond any possibility of doubt that, under such conditions, war, service must be taken into consideration in making promotions if the applicants are equally qualified. It is not much to ask that the principle be clearly stated in the bill. By this means the Government’s intention would be placed beyond doubt for all time. I ask the Minister to reconsider the matter and accept the amendment.
.- The weakness of the Minister’s statement is obvious. He said that the Government’s policy is to give preference to exservicemen. If that be so, what is the objection to expressing that policy in the bill ? He has stated no objection to doing so. If the principle were laid down in the bill, there could be no doubt about the policy being observed in future because it would be stated in the legislation. The proposed commission will not be a department of the Commonwealth Public Service. The telecommunication services will be handed over to a commission, and although the Government may be firm in its desire to exercise preference to ex-servicemen within the Commonwealth Public Service, its intentions may not bc carried out by the commission. I want the Minister to realize that the Opposition is in favour of this bill, except in a few details, and that our only desire is to improve the measure, if possible. In those- circumstances I ask the Minister to take cognizance of some of the arguments used by him when a member of the Opposition. It should be made clear that the commission is being instructed by the Parliament to carry out the wishes of the Government in this matter. These will not be ordinary appointments, to which the customs and traditions of the Commonwealth . Public Service will apply. I urge the Minister to make certain that the ex-serviceman shall receive full consideration for the years spent by him in fighting for his country.
– I have a vivid recollection of a case in which an exserviceman applied to a court f-r preference in employment on the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the court ruled that the commission was not, in fact, a public service body within the meaning of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. If Senator Mattner’s amendment be accepted, members of the staff of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) will enjoy a status similar to that of employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Minister should not be reluctant to accept an amendment which would place beyond doubt the right of ex-servicemen to preference.
Question pui; -
That the amendment (Senator MATTNER’S be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator B. Courtice.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Sub-clause 4 states -
Upon any such appeal being made, the Promotions Appeal Board shall make full inquiry into the claims of the appellant and those of the officer provisionally promoted and shall determine the appeal.
Unless some limitation be placed on the period in which an appeal can be made and a full inquiry instituted, an officer may be kept in doubt for a year as to whether the provisional promotion will stand or whether ‘his appeal will be accepted. I suggest that, after the word “ shall “, second occurring, the committee should insert the words, “within 21 days”, or some reasonable number of days, so that twelve months will not elapse before a decision is made.
, - The suggestion by Senator Leckie has more than ordinary merit and importance. Replying to a similar point earlier, the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) pointed out that certain provisions in the Commonwealth Public Service Act did not apply in cases such as that now under consideration. It will be remembered that employees of the commission, upon provisional pro motions, will not receive increases of salary during provisional terms of office. Therefore, it is most important that some period should be stated, during which provisional appointments should be confirmed or appeals upheld. No objection would be taken to a provisional appointment remaining unconfirmed for twelve months, if the officer concerned received the rate of pay appropriate to that position. The interests of an officer called upon to discharge higher duties than those previously carried out by him should be safeguarded by fixing a definite period before the expiration of which the board should hear the appeal. The board should be expected to deal with an appeal within two months.
That, in sub-clause (4.), of the proposed new clause, after the word “ shall “, first occurring, the following words be inserted: - “ as early as may be and within60 days of lodging of the appeal,”.
– I prefer to allow sub-clause 4 to stand as it is. All that is required can be done as provided for in sub-clause 3.
– Are we to understand that the Minister has given an undertaking that in the regulations which will come into force under sub-clause 3 of proposed new clause 18d provision will be made to deal with the points that have been raised in the amendments which have not been agreed to?
– I have already said that it will be competent for regulations to be issued to provide for a time limit as suggested by the honorable senator. The power to do so is contained in the proposed new clause, and in conformity with the usual practice that power will be exercised to meet the convenience of the Promotions Appeal Board and the appellant.
.- I am sorry that the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) seems to be unsympathetic towards any suggestion emanating from this side of the chamber. His statement that regulations may be issued at some future time is not satisfactory. If lie will give an assurance that regulations will be promulgated to provide that the things which we have asked for shall be done within a reasonable time, we on this side shall be satisfied, but in the absence of any such assurance we do not know whether the board will, in fact, issue such regulations. The Minister must see that, in the absence of any such undertaking, the whole matter is indefinite, and officers may be done it grave injustice.
– Sub-clause 7 of proposed new clause ISd shows the importance of the suggestions that have already been made. Under it, the commission may appoint an officer provisionally to a position and keep him in it for an unspecified period. He may occupy the position provisionally for one year, two years, or even ten years, without receiving any .increase of sala’ry, and at the end of that period he may be forced to revert to his original position because the Promotions Appeal Board decides not to confirm the appointment. That is not fair to any officer or employee. The Minister should give a definite assurance that regulations to safeguard employees in the manner suggested by honorable senators on this side will be promulgated. The unwillingness of the. Minister to give such an assurance is somewhat disturbing. I again remind him that these officers will not have the protection of Commonwealth Public Service Regulations. The difficulty can be overcome by the Minister giving an assurance along the lines indicated.
– I repeat that, sub-clause 3 of proposed new clause 1’8d provides for the making of regulations. Sub-clause 6 reads -
Where the appeal is disallowed, or where no appeal is lodged within the prescribed time, the provisional promotion shall be confirmed.
Honorable senators will note the inclusion in that sub-clause of the words “ prescribed time”. That means that some period will be laid down. It is absurd to suggest, as Senator A. J. Fraser has done, that a responsible body would allow a provisional appointment to remain un confirmed for ten year3: Any board charged with the responsibility of dealing with matters affecting its employees, many of whom will be ex-servicemen, will doubtless act as expeditiously in these matters as circumstances will permit.
– The Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) quoted sub-clause 6 of proposed new clause ISd, but he did not mention sub-clause 7, which contains important provisions. That sub-clause reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section the Commission may, at any time after notification has been made of a provisional promotion to a vacant position, and before the promotion has been confirmed, cancel the provisional promotion . . .
Under that sub-clause, the commission may appoint an officer provisionally to a position without any increase of salary, and he may remain in that position until he is an old man, only to find that eventually his provisional appointment is cancelled. During that period he may receive no increase of- pay. Surely the Minister does not argue that such treatment would be fair to any officer or employee of the commission? I appeal to the Minister to do the proper thing.
Sitting suspended from 5.15 to 8 p.m.
-I direct the attention of the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) to proposed new clause 18d (1), which provides that a provisional promotion shall .be “without increased salary”. This should make clear the purpose of the amendment that I have moved. In the absence of a specific time limit, it would be competent for the commission to promote an officer to a senior position provisionally, and . without increased salary, and then under the terms of subclause 7 . cancel the provisional promotion. My amendment becomes most important1 in view of the refusal of the Postmaster-General to insert a time limit during which appeals against promotions shall be heard. It becomes even more important having regard - to the Commonwealth Public Service Regulations, which provide that appeals against a promotion shall be, lodged within 21 days, and I understand that, within fourteen days after the closing date for appeals, certain action must be taken. If the Postmaster-General is unable to accept my amendment, my wishes would be met if he would indicate that steps would be taken to ensure that regulations framed under sub-clause 3 would conform to the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Regulations. However, in the absence of such an assurance, it would be a reflection upon this chamber to allow this proposed new clause to be passed in” its present unsatisfactory form.
– The committee would be ill advised to attempt to specify any time limit in the sub-clause. We must not lose sight of the fact that under this legislation employment will be given not only throughout the Commonwealth, but also beyond our shores.
– We are not now dealing with the time in which appeals may be lodged.
– I understood that the honorable senator was dealing with the advisability of fixing a time limit for the lodgment of appeals.
– Ho. I pointed out to the committee that sub-clause 7 permits the commission to cancel a provisional appointment.
– I am not prepared to accept the amendment moved by Senator A. J. Fraser. The matter is one for determination by the commission, which, obviously, will be obliged to make regulations covering the point raised by honorable senators opposite. The commission must be permitted to exercise its discretion . There must be some flexibility. It is impossible to provide in any act for every contingency that may arise. Certain discretionary powers must be allowed to all administrative authorities. If the commission does not carry on its administration according to the spirit of the act, the Postmaster-General may intervene.
.- There appears to be some misunderstand ing about this matter. Sub-clause 3 provides -
The regulations may prescribe the manner in which, and the time within which, appeals may be made under this section.
That does not empower the commission to make regulations dealing with the matters mentioned in sub-clause 7. Sub-clause 8 provides -
The powers of the Commission under the last preceding sub-section may be exercised whether an appeal has been made or not.
Therefore, the commission will not be able to make regulations dealing with promotions or the cancellation of promotions. I am not convinced that the commission will be free to exercise its discretion in regard to this matter. For the Postmaster-General to say that any defect in this legislation will be rectified by some f future holder of his office is not sufficient. The place to rectify obvious anomalies is in the Parliament. Only to-day we had .an example of the difficulties that may arise through the passage of inadequate legislation. When’ the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act was before this chamber, the Opposition drew attention to certain things that might occur; but the Postmaster-General would not accept our suggestions, and earlier to-day we found that the very things that we said would happen had happened. A repetition of such a state of affairs in connexion with this legislation should be avoided. Is it not better that this legislature should insert safeguards whilst the bill is before it, rather than rely upon action being taken by the Postmaster-General at a later date? The Minister has not said how he proposes to rectify this anomaly. He simply said that he would rectify it. What power has he under this bill to interfere with the administration of an outside body? The commission will carry on its administration in accordance with the provisions of the bill, and for the most part, the Postmaster-General will not have any say in the matter. Surely the Postmaster-General is not content simply to say, “I shall not accept the amendment “. Would he have us believe that everything the Government does is perfect and cannot be improved? His attitude is mere obstinacy and reveals a dislike of accepting advice.
– Obviously, the proposed new clause now under discussion is not fully understood by some honorable senators. Sub-clause 7 states -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the Commission may at any time after a notification has been made of a provisional promotion to a vacant position, and before the promotion has been confirmed, cancel the provisional promotion . . .
That is quite clear. If there is a need to specify a time limit somewhere, I point out that the measure itself, in clause 66, makes provision for the Governor-General to determine by regulation any matter necessary to give effect to the bill. Senator A. J. Fraser’s amendment provides for the insertion of a time limit of 60 days.
– ‘Order! I understood Senator A. J. Fraser to say that he would move the amendment unless a certain assurance were given by the Postmaster-General.
– There are many acts, both Commonwealth and State, that ‘provide for some system of appeals against appointments, promotions, demotions, or punishments for offences. I know that the act covering a certain industry in Western Australia, with which I was closely associated, does not specify the method by which appeals shall be made. The method is prescribed by regulations. Under this measure, employment will be given not only in Australia but in ad j accent territories, and it is obvious that to impose a mandatory time limit would be detrimental to the interests of e’-me employees. In these circumstances, the commission should have discretionary powers. Therefore, I can see no necessity to alter the clause as drafted.
.- Senator Nash seems to be under a misapprehension when he says that sub-clause 7 deals with appeals. That is not so. That sub-clause will enable the commission to make a provisional appointment, say, of a junior officer to a senior or higher paid position without increasing the officer’s salary; and the commission will have power to retain that man in the higher position on the lower salary applicable to his former position. We object to the commission being given that power.
No one should have the power to keep a man doing important work indefinitely at a salary appertaining to a. less responsible position. After the lapse of 60 days the commission should be able to make up its mind whether to confirm the appointment or return the officer to his former position. We do not mind if the period in respect of provisional appointments be 90 days. I repeat that the sub-clause does not deal with appeals, but with the right of the commission to make provisional appointments to important jobs at low salaries, and at the end of one year, or two years’, have the power to declare the higher position vacant, returning the officer to his former position. That is exactly the power which will be given to the commission. The committee should not agree to such an utterly unfair provision. If an officer is employed in a higher position, he should be paid the salary in respect of that position after the lapse of 60 days or 90 days. We have already dealt with appeals in earlier sub-clauses.
– Despite what Senator Leckie has said I am still of opinion that my earlier contention is correct. If I am incorrect, I should like to know why sub-clause 8 provides -
The- powers of the Commission under the last preceding sub-section may be exercised whether an appeal has been made or not.
– The regulations made in respect of this measure will be similar to those made under the Commonwealth Bank Let. Despite what Senator Leckie has mid with regard to provisional appointments the sub-clause is designed to allow the usual time of 21 days to permit of appeals being lodged. Members of the Commonwealth Public Service who were on active service, or who may have been absent at the time, automatically have the right of appeal, and in some cases might require a period exceeding 21 days to lodge their appeal. Indeed, in some circumstances a period of even 60 days mighty not be sufficient to meet the convenience of all persons eligible to lodge appeals. As Senator Nash has said the terms of sub-clause 8 clearly show that these provisions deal with appeals.
.- I move-
That, in sub-clause (7.) of the proposed new clause, after the “word “ time “, the following words be inserted: - “within sixty days”.
I am compelled to place on record as strongly as I can the objection which I and my colleagues take to. the sub-clause 7 of the proposed new clause. Had the views expressed by Senator Nash been put before us by the Minister we would have been assisted very greatly. Much difficulty will disappear if the Minister can assure us that the position as explained by Senator Nash can be assured under the regulations. However, I point out that a provision similar to that contained in the sub-clause is not contained in the Commonwealth Public Service Act; and I should be surprised if it is contained in the Commonwealth Bank Act. This provision. is something new and unique. It simply allows the commission to appoint, provisionally, a junior officer to a senior position with no increase of salary, and in the absence of any limitation to such provisional appointment the officer can be retained in the senior position at a low salary indefinitely. Perhaps, after a period of several years the commission may decide to cancel the appointment altogether, and dispense with the higher job. The object of my amendment is to ensure that justice is done to officers appointed provisionally in the circumstances I have mentioned. In the period I suggest, the commission should be able to make up its mind whether the person so appointed is competent to fill the higher position permanently, or whether the position should be abolished. No officer should be asked to fill a higher position at a salary appertaining to a lower position for a period of more than two months. The Commonwealth . Public Service Regulations provide a period of 21 days in respect of appeals, and after the lapse of that period the provisional appointment must be confirmed or the officer must be returned to his former position. That seems to be the proper procedure; and we should follow it in .this case. If the Minister can assure us that regulations will be made to protect officers in such circumstances, much of the difficulty will disappear.
– I have already indicated the authority to be vested in the Minister under the regulation-making power, and have said, that those powers will be exercised in conformity with- the spirit of the measure. The proposed new clause conforms to similar provisions in the Commonwealth Public Service Act. and the Commonwealth Bank Act. If necessary, the commission may in pursuance of the powers conferred upon it, under clause 66 prescribe regulations in respect of any or all of the matters dealt with in sub-clause 7 of the proposed new clause. Sub-section 11 of section 50 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, provides -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, the Board may, at any time after notification has been made of a provisional , promotion to a vacant office, and before the promotion has been confirmed, cancel the provisional promotion if the Board is satisfied that the office is unnecessary or can be filled by the transfer of an excess officer, or that in the circumstances the notification or further notification of. the vacant office is desirable.
The proposal now before the committee is in accordance with established procedure. That procedure has never been challenged by any Commonwealth Public Sea-vice organization. We can accept such silence as acquiescence in the pro1cedure laid down in the Commonwealth Public Service’ Act, the Commonwealth Bank Act and other, acts.
– With very great respect to the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) the board to which he refers is the Commonwealth Public Service Board which” acts as an appeal board. In no sense is it in a position similar to that occupied by the commission under sub-clause 7. If the Minister . compared the Commonwealth Public Service Appeal Board with the board . to be created under this measure he would be on safe grounds ; but no analogy exists between section 50 (11) of .the Commonwealth Public Service Act and sub-clause 7 of the proposed new clause. The proposed new clause deals with the commission, which in .this case simply takes the place of the permanent, head of a department.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Proposed new clause 18e.
Motion (by Senator Cameron) proposed -
That, after clause 18d, the following new clause be inserted: - “ 18e. - (1.) For the purposes of this Division there shall be an Overseas Telecommunications Commission Promotions Appeal Board (in this Act referred to as ‘ the Promotions Appeal Board’). “ (2.) The Promotions Appeal Board shall consist of -
a Chairman, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General and shall hold office on such terms and conditions as the Governor-General determines ;
an officer appointed by the Commission;and
an officer elected by the officers of the Commission in the prescribed manner (in this section referred to as the ‘ officers ‘ representative ‘ ) . “ (3.) The officers’ representative shall hold office for such period as is prescribed but shall be eligible for re-election. “ (4.) The officers of the Commission may, in the prescribed manner, elect a deputy of the officers’ representative and the deputy so elected shall hold office for such period as is prescribed but shall be eligible for re-election. “ (5.) A deputy so elected may, in the event of there being a vacancy in the office of officers’ representative, or inthe event of the absence of the officers’ representative (whether in pursuance of a direction given under the next succeeding sub-section, or through illness or otherwise), attend and vote at meetings of the Promotions Appeal Board, and, when so attending and voting at a meeting shall, for the purposes of sub-section (7.) of this section, be deemed to be a member of the Promotions Appeal Board in lieu of the officers’ representative. “ ( 6. ) Where the Chairman of the Promotions Appeal Board is of opinion that the officers’ representative is personally interested in, or affected by, any question to be considered at a meeting of the Promotions Appeal Board, the Chairman may direct that the officers’ representative shall absent himself from that meeting while that question is considered and decided. “(7.) Where, at any meeting of the Promotions Appeal Board, the members are divided in opinion on any question, that question shall be decided according to the decision of themajority.”.
.- I move-
That the following new sub-clause be added:- “ (8.) Where evidence is being taken all parties to the appeal shall have the right to be present.”
I can understand the amusement shown by honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber. Apparently not many of them have given attention to these proposals or considered their intention. This new clause will establish a Promotions Appeal Board, which will have authority to take evidence when considering appeals. I suggest, in all seriousness, that all parties to appeals dealt with by the board should have the right to be present when evidence is being taken. That is practised in law, and is merely common justice. I consider that the absence of such a provision is due only to an oversight, which should be rectified in fairness to the officers who may be affected.
. -The Postmaster-General should be able to satisfy Senator A. J. Fraser by informing the committee that the persons involved in appeals will be permitted to attend hearings by the board. I hope that he will do so. It is usual, in such cases, for a person accused of a misdemeanour or making an appeal to have the right of representation and for the employing authority, in this case the commission, to have the same right. That has been customary in my long experience of such affairs. I am sure that the Minister will be able to inform us that the practice adopted in the Commonwealth Public Service will be adhered to by the commission.
.- Before the amendment is disposed of, I ask the Minister to reply to Senator A. J. Fraser in the terms suggested by Senator Sheehan. Senator Sheehan is mistaken in assuming that appeals will be dealt with under the conditions set down by the Commonwealth Public Service Act. That is not so. The procedure to be followed will be decided upon by the board. It may or may not adopt the Commonwealth Public Service procedure; it is not compelled to do anything of the kind.We merely want an assurance that an aggrieved person will have the same right of representation before the proposed board as is granted to a member of the Commonwealth Public Service under similar conditions. .
– I believe that the Minister will give such an assurance.
– He has not done so, in spite of the honorable senator’s moving appeal to him. He has chosen to remain silent.
– I do not want to interrupt the honorable senator.
– But the Chairman was about to put the question, and the Minister had made no effort to give the assurance that we seek.If the Minister will give a satisfactory explanation, I shall resume my seat immediately. I merely want to be satisfied that justice will be done by the proposed board, which will not be bound in any way by Commonwealth Public Service regulations.
New clause agreed to.
New clauses 18f, 18g, 18h, 18j, 18k and 18l.
Motion (by Senator Cameron) agreed to-
That, after clause18e, the following new clauses be inserted: - “ 18f. - (1.) Every officer who has attained the age. of sixty years (or, in the case of a female officer, fifty-five years) shall be entitled to retire from the Service of the Commission if the officer desires to do so, but any such officer may, subject to this Division, continue in the Service of the Commission until the officer attains the age of sixty-five years (or, in the case of a female officer, sixty years). “ (2.) If any officer continues in the Service of the Commission after the officer has attained the age of sixty years (or, in the case of a. female officer, fifty -five years), the officer may at any time before attaining the age of sixtyfive years (or, in the case of a female officer, sixty years) be retired by the Commission from the Service of the Commission. “ (3.) Every officer shall, on attaining the age of sixty-five years (or, in the case of a female officer, sixty years), he retired by the Commission from the Service of the Commission. “ 18g. - (1.) If at any time the Commission finds that a greater number of officers is employed than is necessary for efficient working, any officer whom the Commission finds is in excess may be transferred to such other position of equal classification as the officer is competent to fill, and, if no such position is available, the officer may be transferred to a position of lower classification. “ (2.) If no position is available for the officer the Commission may retire him from the Service of the Commission. “ (3.) An officer shall not be retired from the Service of the Commission under this section unless he has-been given one month’s notice or is paid salary in lieu of notice. “ 18h. - (1.) A married woman shall not be appointed to the Service of the Commission except in special cases. “ ( 2. ) Every female officer shall cease to be an officer on her marriage unless the Commission is satisfied that there are special circumstances which make it desirable that she should continue in the Service of the Commission. “ 18j. Unless the Commission, in any particular case, otherwise directs, the appointment of every officer (not being an officer to whom sub-section (11.) or (12.) of section eighteen of this Act applies) shall be on probation for a period not exceeding twelve months and the appointment may be terminated by the Commission at any time during that period. “ 18k. - (1.) If an officer appears to the Commission to be inefficient or incompetent, or unfit to discharge or incapable of discharging the duties of his position, the Commission may retire him from the Service of the Commission, or may transfer him to some other position in the Service of the Commission withsalary appropriate to that other position. “ (2.) An officer shall not be retired from the Service of the Commission under this section unless he has been given at least one month’s notice or is paid salary in lieu of notice. “ 18l. The Commission may dismiss an officer, or reduce his status or rate of pay, for incapacity or misconduct.”
New clause 18m.
Motion (by Senator Cameron) proposed -
That, after clause 18l, the following new clause be inserted: - “18m. - (1.) Where an officer is dismissed, retired, transferred or reduced in status or rate of pay under either of the last two preceding sections, the officer may appeal to the Disciplinary Appeal Board. “ (2.) The regulations may prescribe the manner in Which, and the time within which, appeals may be made under this section. “ (3.) The Disciplinary Appeal Board shall hear each appeal submitted to it under this section and may confirm, vary or set aside the decision of the Commission. “ (4.) The decision of the Disciplinary Appeal Board shall be final and the Commission shall take such action as is necessary to give effect to the decision. “ (5.) On the hearing of an appeal under this section, the Disciplinary Appeal Board may take evidence on oath.”
– I had notified my intention to move an amendment to this proposed new clause; but, having regard to the Minister’s attitude, I consider that no good purpose would be served by proceeding with my intention.
– We cannot hear the honorable senator, but we are “ ag’in “ him.
– For the benefit of the Minister I repeat that, having regard to what the PostmasterGeneral said earlier, I consider that no. good purpose would he served by submitting the amendment which I had foreshadowed.
,- This clause raises again the objection that I had to another clause giving the power to the commission to reclassify positions. When I voiced that objection,- I was told that this new clause would give to the officers concerned the right to appeal. I point out that the. commission will have power to reclassify a position and then to appoint an officer to a position so reclassified, which may involve promotion, without any extra pay. The bill does not provide any right of appeal against such a procedure. That right can be provided by regulation, and I hope that that will be done, so that every employee will be fully protected.
– Sub-clause 2 of new clause 18m states that the regulations made under the clause “ may prescribe “ the manner in which and the time within which appeals may be made. I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.) of the proposed new clause, the word “ may “, first occurring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall “.
I regret that, when the committee was considering new clause 18d I did not have time to move a similar amendment in respect of sub-clause 3.
– Order ! There was ample time.
– Had the word “shall” been inserted” then, a great deal of this discussion would have been unnecessary.
– It was not inserted then, and the committee has dealt with that clause.
– I regret- ‘
– I rise to order. The committee’s time should not be wasted by honorable senators expressing regret that they did not have time to do certain things when the fact is that they were not sufficiently alert.- I suggest that Senator Mattner is entirely out of order in referring to a clause which was passed by the committeesome time ago.
– I do not agree; with the Minister. Senator Mattner has not offended in any way and certainly has not repeated himself as much as many other honorable senators have done. He merely referred to the fact -that he is now moving an amendment to the proposed new clause before the committee,, but would not have done so had he moved a similar amendment to an earlier clause.
– That is the reason for my objection.
– I repeat that I regret-
– The honorable senator is certainly repeating himself now. I. am sure that the committee understands that he regrets the fact that he did not submit an amendment to a previous clause. I ask him to address himself to the amendment which he has just submitted.
– I regret that the word “ may “ is used in sub-clause 2, and suggest that the word “ shall “ be substituted.
. -Proposed new sub-clause 18m is very important, and the phraseology may seem strange to honorable senators not familiarwith the Commonwealth Public Service procedure. If I were the secretary of an organization whose members were employed by the commission, I should be anxious regarding their rights. The practice seems to have developed in the Commonwealth PublicService and other governmental instru-mentalities to accept control by commissions. I take it that the Commonwealth Public Service organizations are efficient, and that their members are . alive to their own interests. They have made no protest against theacts and regulations under which they are employed. I certainly do not like thephraseology of sub-clause 1 of the proposed new clause, which states that; where an officer is dismissed, retired, transferred1 or reduced in status or rate of pay, he “ may “ appeal to the Disciplinary Appeal
Board. I shouldnot favour the commission having power to dismiss an employee without the case first being heard by an independent tribunal. If it were suggested that the commission should not have power to dismiss, that would be pre- . ferable; but I understand that those are . the conditions under which the employees in such instrumentalities have worked, and they have expressed no desire toclip the power of the bureaucrats under which they are employed. The custom has always been to provide that an employee “ may “ appeal, and I oppose the insertion of the word “ shall “. An employee who is dismissed’ knows the reason why his services have been dispensed with, and he may consider that the least said about the matter the better. No attempt should be made to force an employee to appeal.
– Senator Sheehan appears to have misunderstood this proposal. It is not desired to provide that an employee shall appeal, but that there shall be regulations prescribing the manner in which, and the time within which, appeals shall be made. The employee would know that a Disciplinary Appeal Board had been appointed, to which he could appeal.
– The discussion on the proposed new clauses has served to emphasize the soundness of advice given in this chamber last Thursday evening. If we had an assurance that regulations similar to the Commonwealth Public Service Regulations will apply to the employees of the commission, this discussion would be unnecessary. Senator Sheehan has pointed out that employees in the Commonwealth Public Service are well organized, and are satisfied with the regulations under which they work ; but the employees under the commission will operate under different conditions. Having had experience of Commonwealth Public Service Regulations, I foresee dangers. Perhaps the proposed regulations will be similar to the Commonwealth Public Service Regulations. Under sub-clause 5 of the proposed new clause, the Disciplinary Appeal Board may take evidence on oath, and I suggest that provision might be made for that evidence to be taken in the presence of all parties to the appeal.
– We should consider how the regulations under which the employees of the commission are to be governed will be framed. Turning to clause 66, we read that the Governor-General “ may “ make regulations for giving effect to this measure. Surely the committee would not wish to alter the word “ may “ to “ shall” and give a direction to the Governor-General. In the proposed new clause under consideration we should not use . the mandatory word “ shall “, but should retain thepermissive word “may”.
New clause agreed to.
New clauses 18n and 18p.
Motion (by Senator Cameron) agreed to-
That, after clause 18m, the following new clauses be inserted: - “ 18n. - (1.) For the purposes of this Division, there shall be an Overseas Telecommunications Commission Disciplinary Appeal Board (in this Act referred to as ‘the Disciplinary Appeal Board ‘ ) . “ (2.) The Disciplinary Appeal Board shall consist of -
a Chairman, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General and shall holdoffice on such terms and conditions as the ‘ Governor-General determines;
an officer appointed by the ComBmission ; and
an officer elected by the officers of the Commission in the prescribed manner (in this section referred to as the ‘officers’ representative ‘) . “ (3.) The Chairman of the Disciplinary Appeal Board shall be a person who is or has been a Police, Stipendiary or Special Magistrate of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth. “ (4.) The officers’ representative shall hold office for such period as is prescribed but shall be eligible for re-election. “ (5.) The officers of the Commission may in the prescribed manner, elect a deputy of the officers’ representative and the deputy so elected shall hold office for such period as is prescribed but shall be eligible for re-election. “ (6.) A deputy so elected may, in the event of there being a vacancy in the office of the. officers’ representative, or in the event of the absence of the officers’ representative (whether in. pursuance of a direction under the next succeeding sub-section, or through illness or otherwise), attend and vote at meetings of the Disciplinary Appeal Board, and, when so attending and voting at a meeting shall, for the purposes of sub-section (8.) of this section, be deemed to be a member of the Disciplinary Appeal Board in lieu of the officers’ representative. “ (7.) Where the Chairman of the Diciplinary Appeal Board is of opinion that the officers’ representative is personally interested -in, or affected by, any question to be considered at a meeting of the Disciplinary Appeal Board, the Chairman may direct that the officers’ representative shall absent himself from that meeting while that question is considered and decided. “ (8.) Where, at any meeting of the Disciplinary Appeal Board, the members are divided in opinion on any question, that question shall be decided according to the decision of the majority. “ 18p. Sections eighteen a to eighteen n (inclusive) of this Act shall not apply to the general manager of the Commission.”.
Clauses 19 to 28 agreed to.
Clause 29 (Advance for expenses).
– This is one of the vital clauses, which I stated previously should be carefully considered at the committee stage. It sets a limit of £3,000,000 upon the advance to be made to meet the expenses of the commission, and the committee would be failing in its duty if it agreed to the provision without a protest. Can the Postmaster-General’ (Senator Cameron) indicate the method by which the amount of compensation to be paid to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited will be determined? Does the Government intend to force this measure through the chamber, because it has the numbers necessary to enable it to do so?’ The committee is asked to agree to the expenditure of £3,000,000; but it is not told how the amount particularly the compensation to be paid to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited has been arrived at.
– A commission is being set up for that purpose.
– No. Honorable senators opposite may think that that is’ a proper principle to establish, but I trust that as time passes they will change their opinions, and will object to any government asking the Parliament to sign a blank cheque. Apparently, the Government cannot say what amount will be paid to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, or how the amount of £3,000,000 mentioned in the bill was arrived at.
– A few days ago the Leader of the Opposition (Senator
McLeay) said that he had complete faith in Mr. McFarlane, the Secretary to the Treasury.
– I have every faith in Mr.- McFarlane and those associated with him in the negotiations, but,’ as a matter of principle, I regard it as a wrong practice to ask the Parliament to accept figures which the Government is either incapable of explaining, or is unwilling to explain, thereby making the Parliament a party to the signing of a blank cheque.
– This is the most important clause in the bill. I take it that the sum of £3,000,000 mentioned in the measure represents the limit beyond which negotiators on behalf of the Government, for thepurchase of- certain- assets of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, shall not go. Although the Government cannot be expected to say in advance the exact amount necessary to purchase the assets of the company the committee and the public are entitled to some indication as to the basis on which the assets which the Government proposes to acquire were valued. Without going into details, the Minister in charge of the bill should tell the committee what procedure is to be followed in the negotiations with the companies whose assets it proposes to purchase. Let us consider for a moment the position of the shareholders of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. During the course of the debate it “has been said that the amount proposed to be paid to them is exorbitant, and that the value of their shares has risen as the result of the introduction of this legislation. Whatever may be said on that point, we must admit that those who invested their money in the enterprise did so in good faith. Therefore, it would be most unfair to say that, because the value of each share was originally £1, the shareholders should not be paid any amount in excess of £1. Not all of those who invested their money in the. enterprise bought shares at £1 each.; many of them paid £2,- or even £3, .a share. If the Minister would give some indication of the procedure to- be followed, and will say who is to determine the value of the shares, and whether the amount will be decided by arbitration or otherwise, we would know better bow to deal with* this proposal. The committee is entitled to know the amount to be paid for the assets to be taken over, and bow that amount was arrived at. I am sure that the committee is prepared to act generously towards the Government in this matter; but the Government should take the committee more into its confidence, and say how the negotiations will be carried on and by whom, and whether the amount to be paid will be fixed by arbitration, or whether the commission, when appointed; will carry on the negotiations until a settlement is arrived at. In the event of an agreement not being’ reached as to the price to be paid, the Minister should tell us. what form of appeal tribunal will be set up - whether a judge of a Supreme Court will be appointed, or in what other way the matter will be decided. I appeal to the Minister to s let the committee know what is in his mind.
– I am in a position to say that negotiations have been in progress between the Government and representatives of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for some time, and so far have proceeded satisfactorily. In my opinion, it is highly probable that as the result of those negotiations an agreement will be arrived at. The bill provides that, in the” event of an agreement not being arrived at, an arbitrator may be appointed, such arbitrator to be approved by both parties to the negotiations. Failing satisfaction in that way, an appeal may be made to the High Court. I believe that neither of those two alternatives will have to be adopted. The Government will stand or fall by what is set out in the bill. I remind the committee that the sum of £3,000,000 is the maximum amount which may be paid. It is possible that the sum eventually agreed to will be considerably less than £3,000,000. The bill provides only that the amount to be paid shall not exceed that sum. Some limitation is necessary. The Government accepts the responsibility for what it proposes to do, and I am confident that the result will be most satisfactory. The Government is acquiring a well-established anil profitable undertaking, and it is essential for the proper functioning of the business that sufficient funds should be made available to the commission. The amount which will be advanced to the commission will be determined by the Treasurer, and I do -not think that honorable senators have any cause for alarm.
.- I thought that the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) would have explained how the sum of £3,000,000 had been arrived at. The number of shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited totals 1,000,000, and in this measure the Government says to the shareholders of that company that it is prepared to pay as much as £3,000,000 for them.
– That is not so.
– If it be not so, why has the value of these shares risen so high recently?
– That is becaus’e some people expect to get a rake-off.
– The Government has encouraged them to do so by saying that £3,000,000 would be made , available for their purchase. -Having made that announcement, the Government then proceeded to negotiate with the astute representatives of two business concerns who knew of the limit within which the negotiators could operate. It is not really correct to say that the negotiators are limited to an expenditure of £3,000,000, because, in addition, such other sums as may be granted from time to time by the Parliament for the purpose may be paid. I thought that the Minister would have explained that the Government owned ‘ half the shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited.
– That being so, will the Government really pay only £1,500,000?
– I do not know, but I do know that half of the amount to be paid should belong to the Government. Does the Government propose to leave that amount in the company to enable it to carry on its manufacturing activities? In my opinion, that would provide the company with more money than it needs for the purpose, seeing that it now carries on a bigger business with a capital of £1,000,000. In my secondreading speech I said that it was a clumsy way to conduct negotiations to proclaim beforehand that the Government is willing to pay up to £3,000,000 to the shareholders of the company. Even if the Government does not intend to pay £3,000,000 for certain assets of the company, it must expect to pay nearly that amount. Whatever amount is to be paid, the committee is entitled to know whether or not the money will be wasted. I do not like to see the Minister sitting dumb when he is asked to supply information to the committee. These are matters which concern the taxpayers of Australia. Any unwise business venture on the part of the Government might jeopardize the taxpayers’ money, and therefore the protest by the Opposition is justified. If only, say, £1,500,000 is to be paid, the Minister should say so; or if the shares are to be bought on a basis of £1 each, we should know what is intended. It is most unwise for any negotiator to announce in advance the limit that he is prepared to pay for certain assets. Naturally, any business man would think that he was being invited to claim the full amount. Had the Government proclaimed that it intended to pay only a maximum of £1,500,000, the shares in this company would not have risen to £3 l1s. or £3 12s. as they have done, and it would have been the responsibility of the company then to argue, if it could, that £1,500,000 was not sufficient. The Government has unwisely thrown all its cards on the table. In effect, it has said : “ There is our limit. You can bargain with us up to that amount “. The Postmaster-General is not being fair to himself or to this committee when he refuses to give any information as to how the £3,000,000 is to be expended.
– This is the most important clause of the bill. The Government should have first brought down a measure providing for a basis of settlement with the companies concerned, and then introduced a further measure appropriating the amount of money agreed upon. If the Government were negotiating for a city property for use, say, as a post office or for some other public purpose, surely it would not say to the owner : “ We do not believe that your property is worth £10,000. We think it is worth £5,000, but we have fixed £10,000 as our maximum “. By providing for an expenditure of £3,000,000 in this measure, the Government is indicating that it may pay up to that amount for the assets that are to be acquired. Obviously, those who hold stock in the company will retain it, and others will seek it, because they know that they will secure a handsome dividend. The Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) should give further consideration to this matter, and indicate the Government’s intentions. Although the honorable gentleman has mentioned a sum of £1,500,000, he has not said that the Government will not pay up to £3,000,000. We have a right to know how the negotiations will be carried on, and whether the matter will be referred back to the Parliament for reconsideration.
Question put; -
That the clause stand as printed.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator B. Courtice.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 30 to 49 agreed to.
Clause 50 (Compensation Board).
– Will the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) indicate whether the board provided for in this clause is identical with either of the other two boards to be established under this legislation?
– This clause provides for the establishment and constitution of a Compensation Board, consisting of three persons, the chairman to be a person who holds, or has held, office as a justice of the Supreme Court. Assessors may be appointed by the Minister to assist the board, and at least one of these assessors must be a person not in the employment of the Commonwealth. By agreement of the parties concerned, the chairman of the board may adjudicate alone. Provision is also made for the exercise of the functions of the Compensation Board in the event of absence of certain of its members through death, illness or other cause. The wording of this clause is in agreement with the corresponding provisions in the Australian National Airlines Act, except that it is stipulated that the chairman of the board is to be of judicial status instead of being a police, stipendiary or special magistrate, as provided in that act. This variation was made to meet representations by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited that the status of the chairman should be higher than that of a magistrate, particularly in view of the complicated issues that may require to be determined failing Agreement between the Commonwealth ,and the company as to the purchase price to be paid for the transfer of the company’s overseas teleCommunication assets to the Government.
– Will this board be in addition to the other two boards?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 51 to. 66 agreed to.
Schedules, Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 17th July (vide page 2610), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I support the measure, the object of which is to establish and incorporate an Australian-National University in the Australian Capital Territory. Unlike Senator Leckie I fail to see anything crude in the conception of a national university. This proposal is a step forward in our intellectual advancement and development as a nation. I happen to be a graduate” of the Western Australian University, the only free university in Australia. I represent in the Senate a State which, although it has only a small population, places education very high in its list of priorities, and which, since a Labour government in Western Australia introduced the University Act in that State in 1911, has ensured that the University of Western Australia shall be free and open to all qualified to attend it. I am pleased that that principle has to a large degree been followed by . this Government in its university education legislation during recent years. A few years ago I was a member of a committee set up by the universities of Australia to determine the income groups of university students throughout the Commonwealth. That committee found, as the result of its investigations, that the average income of parents of students at the University of Western Australia was considerably lower than that in any other State. I attribute that to the fact that the University of Western Australia is free. So, when the Commonwealth Government instituted its aid to universities during the war, it made it possible for the sons and daughters of working-class parents to attend universities by means of financial grants. That is a step in the right direction. To-day, the Commonwealth Government has very little control so far as education is concerned. It is about time that we recognized that education is a national problem. I have travelled throughout all of the States, both before I was elected to the Senate, and since; and One thing which surprises me in my work as a member of a parliamentary committee is the total lack of any Australian spirit, or Australian system, so far as professional standards are concerned. It is necessary in a young country like Australia to foster an Australian spirit in literature, education and science. Thus, I was amazed when Senator Leckie attacked this proposal to establish a research university in Canberra. He said that research would concern only a few persons. All of us know that research benefits far more than those persons who engage upon it. One can recognize the immense impact upon’ the world of the research work of a few scientists who have been working in oblivion and have produced some of the wonder drugs, which, in these days, have lessened the fear of death from disease and accident. I cite, . for example, Madame Curie and Sir Howard Florey. In . the Commonwealth Serum - Laboratories in Melbourne a group of scientists are working quietly and unobtrusively in this great war against disease. If there is one achievement of which this Parliament can be proud it is the work which is being carried on at those laboratories. I am afraid that very few of us realize the full importance of that work. During the war most of the serums and plasma supplied to the South-East Asia Command, as far afield as India and Southern Asia, was produced in those laboratories, where young and old men and women are devoting their lives to scientific research, not for any prospective material gain, because, unfortunately, scientists are proverbially poorly paid, but because they realize the value of their research to the community. One of ‘the memorial windows in my old university at Perth is dedicated to a man who gave his life to the study of radium in the treatment of cancer. So far as the people of Australia are concerned he was as much a hero as any man who fell on the battlefields, .because in his research he gradually became a victim to a very slow and deadly disease which, however, did not kill him until his research was completed. Therefore, the University of Western Australia owes a great debt to Dr. Hancock and his colleagues for their fight to conquer cancer. I mention that because I believe that what is being done in a few centres throughout Australia, could be done much more effectively in n national capital if we were to have here a national university with all the means at the disposal of scientists which only a national university can give. In every capital city our universities at present are overcrowded, teaching staffs are overworked, and students find it very difficult to obtain accommodation in the cities. We find, also, that the resources of most of the universities are taxed almost beyond capacity, and this has been rendered all the more serious because of the. Commonwealth Government’s policy of assisting ex-servicemen in their rehabilitation training. Large sums of money are being expended by the Government in extending university training in all States of the Commonwealth. I believe that by creating in the National Capital a university which will engage in research particularly, but which,’ at the same time, will offer undergraduate facilities to those who require them, we ‘ shall assist not only to relieve overcrowding at the universities in the capital cities, but also go a long way towards solving many of the problems, both scientific and economic, which at present confront the nation. Hearing honorable senators opposite speak on this measure, one would be led to believe that all that science did was to obstruct mankind. Perhaps, they do not realize the benefits which science has conferred on man throughout the centuries. Only by harnessing atomic energy and all the other scientific discoveries for the benefit and improvement of mankind will the world make any progress at all. “When we weigh the good and evil which science has done for humanity, we shall find that the balance is heavily in favour of progress.
The primary aim of this bill is to establish research schools in medical science. This is the crux of the whole function of the universities because upon medical research depends so much the maintenance of the health of the people. The decision of the Government to call the school the “ John Curtin School of Medical Research” is highly commendable. It will be a great monument to a great man. No monument that could be raised by the people of Australia to his memory could be dearer to his heart than a school of medical research in the national capital. We saw rapid advances made by medical research during the war years. Much more was achieved in a relatively brief space of time than could be achieved in many years of peace. Unfortunately, in time of .peace, facilities for research are not readily available as they are on’ the battle-fields and behind the lines during war. A national school of medicine in Canberra could combat cancer, tuberculosis and many other scourges of humanity. Surely there is much more in this conception than the mere crudity of which Senator Leckie spoke. His speech suggested that the time is not opportune to proceed with this scheme. But we cannot afford to wait another five or six years before commencing this project. Now is the time for action.
The bill proposes the establishment of a school of research in physical science. Surely everybody realizes the enormous importance to the world of physical science. Within the last few weeks, experiments have been conducted with atomic bombs. The newspapers and the radio told us to-day that twenty atomic bombs dropped on Great Britain could destroy the civilization of centuries. These facts must be faced by Australians. We must realize that our isolation from other countries can no longer justify us keeping our eyes closed to the developments of modern science.Distance has been virtually annihilated by modern means of transport, and the terrific power of atomic bombs has demonstrated the importance of keeping up to date with research in physical science. The bill also provides for the establishment of a school of research in social science. Never before has the necessity for such a school been so obvious as it is to-day. We are forced to appreciate the interdependence of social and physical sciences and medical research. Just as no nation can remain self-sufficient today, so no single branch of learning can remain sufficient unto itself. Every branch of scientific research depends upon others, and in order to make a complete whole we must round off our research universities with a school for the study of those geographic regions which intimately concern us, namely a research school of Pacific Affairs. By beginning with the establishment of these four research schools, we shall lay the foundation of a truly national university.
I am very pleased that the Minister, in his second-reading, speech, stressed the importance of the university staff. We must be on our guard to ensure that appropriate inducements are offered in order to secure the services of the best men available. The time has gone when the traditional university lecturer or professor looks like a down-at-heel tramp. Such men must be properly rewarded in accordance with their qualifications and the status which they hold in the community. Therefore, I hope that we shall endeavour to attract men from all parts of the world by offering adequate remuneration for their services. During the last few years we have seen the spectacle of brilliant men and women graduates of Australian universities going abroad to further their studies only to learn that the opportunities available to them in Australia are not sufficiently attractive to induce them to return. Very many intelligent young people who received their initial training in Australia have been lost to the nation because’ of the lack of incentive for them to pursue their life work here. Therefore, I hope that we shall not repeat the mistakes that have been made in connexion with our State universities and that we shall see that young scientists, are encouraged to return to Australia to take positions in the national university. I am glad that the Minister realizes the importance of the university staff. The Vice-chancellor of the University of
Western Australia came, originally from Canberra. His influence on students has been even greater than that of the lectures delivered to them in the university halls. The principle value of a’ university lies not so much in the academic knowledge acquired there, as in the knowledge of community life and the tradition of service to the community acquired by living with, talking with and following the example of those in charge of the institution. I pay tribute to the vicechancellors of our Australian universities. I have met all of them at various times when I have been engaged on university work, and I do not believe that a finer group of men of high intellectual standing could be found in . any country. They carried the burdens thrust upon them during the war with remarkable distinction and discharged their tasks with a high degree pf efficiency. I hope that the Australian National University in Canberra will be fortunate enough to acquire an administrative head of the calibre of the vicechancellors of our existing universities.
I hope also that the proposed university will include a school of literature that will have for its aim the development of an Australian literary concept. The age of the “Dad and Dave” aspect of Australian literature should be gone forever. Too many people in other countries are not aware of the fact that Australia has a standard of literature comparable with their own. From cartoons, from bad literature that has been widely publicized, and from radio serials, other people have gained the belief that Australians are the ignorant sort of people portrayed in some of those caricatures. Therefore, I hope that the claims of literature, particularly Australian literature, will not be overlooked in the. organization of the proposed university. A proper appreciation of the real Australian spirit does not exist to-day. We have found that there is no Australian standard in the professions. For instance, there is no Australian standard amongst doctors, dentists or nurses. Each State has its own standard, and this is something which an Australian National University can rectify by establishing a common standard second to none in the Empire. I am proud to be associated with the Government that has framed this bill. . The building of an Australian National University in our National Capital will be a lengthy task, and we must start at once because the need for it is urgent. Australia is a nation and Canberra is the proper place for a national university in which, I hope, a true spirit of Australianism and intellectualism will be developed by the appointment of men and women who will not tolerate anything that is second-rate or cheap. I commend the bill and congratulate the Government upon having introduced it.
.- The proposal to establish a national university at Canberra is a step in the right direction. Already, we have in Canberra research institutions such as the Institute of Anatomy, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Solar Observatory at Mount Stromlo. The facilities available in these institutions, and the highly technical and specialized apparatus that they contain, will be of great value to the staff of the proposed university. The National Library and the valuable records and statistics available in the various departments, and in Parliament itself, will all be useful factors in the process of learning and research. There is no doubt that, in connexion with at least some of the sciences, a university at Canberra will have a distinct advantage over those in the States. As a member of the Public Works Committee, I have come in contact with various scientists and others at the universities and research institutions in the capital cities of the States. All of them agree that conditions at the State universities are becoming increasingly difficult as the result of overcrowding. In some instances, universities are attempting to cater for three times the normal number of students. It is evident, therefore, that students at a university in Canberra, even though it be small, would be more likely to receive efficient training than those attending State universities. .Similarly, the teachers of smaller groups of students would have more opportunity than their colleagues elsewhere to keep in touch with modern trends in their particular fields of science. The establishment of the proposed university may well pave the way for the introduction of a system of providing trained scientific teachers to relieve members of State university staffs, whose energies are greatly over-taxed, for certain periods each year so that they may come to Canberra to carry on research work in their own spheres of learning to
There is no doubt that, during the war, defence training became more closely related to scientific developments than ever before. In the future it will be even more important for our defence organization to keep abreast of scientific achievements. The connexion between university work in physical science and military operations is much more pronounced now than it was a few years ago. The development of atomic warfare nas emphasized that a great deal of military training in the future will have to be done in collaboration with scientists. A university staffed by outstanding scientists with energy and enthusiasm, and with students and efficient research workers keenly interested in their work, could soon establish a record of achievement that would be the envy of the world. Many of our scientists have achieved results second to none, which have brought renown to Australia. Some of them made their investigations in the jungles of New Guinea and in the tropical areas of Australia.” Others achieved their successes on orchards and farms. Their knowpledge is eagerly sought in overseas countries, where their advice is needed for application to the’ problems awaiting solution there.
There is no reason why the pro- posed university should conflict in any way with those in State capitals. In fact, it is agreed, that tremendous fields await development, and that every effort should be bent to that task. In my experience it seems requisite that a great deal should be done in co-ordinating the work and efforts of our scientific men before we can reap the full results of their labours. Each university is largely a selfcontained entity, and, although there is a certain, degree of collaboration, there is no planned co-ordination. If a university at Canberra succeeded in creating a living and active link to draw together, and bring to fruition, the scattered efforts in Australia it would have more than justified its existence. The provision of adequate buildings, with an exterior appearance sufficiently good to satisfy the most particular aesthetic taste, is also one of the requirements of a university for Canberra. Many prominent architects agree that a project of this kind should be thrown open to wide competition, in order to secure the most appropriate plans.
– One could wax eloquent about the necessity for extending educational facilities. I shall not do that, but I shall bring to the notice of the Government one or two defects in the university system of Australia which have been indicated by Senator Brand and Senator Tangney. I refer to the need for uniform examination standards and reciprocity between the various’ universities. The University College which was established some time ago at Canberra, recognized the subjects and examination standards of the University of . Melbourne, but there was not similar reciprocity between Canberra and the Universities of Adelaide and Sydney and universities in other capital cities. If a young student passed in several subjects for the diploma of commerce or took Commercial Law I. and Commercial Law II., he was not recognized at the Canberra University College as having passed in those subjects.
– The proposed institution is not to be a teaching university, but a research institution.
– Nothing of the kind. The bill provides that the functions shall include the establishment of research schools, but the activities of the university will not be- confined to research. The necessary tuition will be made available for instruction m matters of public administration. I am speaking of the establishment of a university. with all its ramifications, and provision is to be made for the incorporation of the university college previously established at Canberra. r.
– The whole purpose of the measure is to establish a research university.
– The ramifications of the university will be wide and will not be confined, as I have already said, to research. Standards of training reached by students in universities in the capital cities will, I hope, be recognized at Canberra. If a student has passed examinations at the University of Adelaide in Commercial Law I. and Commercial Law II. his passes are not recognized by the University of Melbourne. Economics I. is recognized both in Melbourne and Canberra, but if Economics II. has been passed at the University of Adelaide it is not recognized either at Melbourne or Canberra, although it is the most difficult examination in the study of economics. There is a good opportunity for the Government to hold an interstate conference of the councils of the various universities for the purpose of establishing uniform standards throughout the States, so that a student who begins a course in one State, and through economic necessity or other reasons transfers to another State or to Canberra, may continue his studies without interruption.
– According to the Minister (Senator McKenna) who introduced the bill, the main function of the proposed university is to provide post-graduate research, but nothing in the bill prevents the establishment of other research schools. The Minister stated -
Whilst the university is intended to be primarily a post-graduate research university, it is, nevertheless, recognized that facilities must be made available in Canberra to meet the increasing needs for undergraduate studies and for special training for officers of government departments. Provision, therefore, is made in clause 6 and in clauses 8 and 9 to enable this to be done.
I believe that the Government is prompted by a desire to promote university training. The great need to-day is to give to ex-service personnel an opportunity to resume their studies from the point at which they left off, and to provide train ing for others who would have attended universities had their studies not been interrupted by their war service. The next five years will be a most important period in their lives, but, unfortunately, the proposed national university will not be established for at least five years. The very individuals whom the Govern- ° ment is most anxious to help Will not receive much benefit from this measure.
The Government proposes to allocate £325,000 a year to a proposed university at. Canberra. I do not object to that, but now is the time when the Government could show its desire to promote education by making available,, say, £50,000 to each of the universities at Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and the University College at Armidale, in order to relieve the congestion, at those universities. Ex-service men and women need the personal touch in connexion with their educational, studies more than those who did not see war service, and were fortunately able to continue their studies without interruptions by passing from the schools and colleges to the universities. I speak from personal knowledge of this matter. My daughter has been fortunate ‘enough to proceed to the university without interruption of her training, and I have noticed that she has thereby had an advantage over others whose studies were interrupted by their enlistment at the age of eighteen, nineteen or twenty years. She is a demonstrator at a university, and I have told her that the men and women who are resuming their studies after service with the armed forces require special attention. That personal teaching is being given to ex-service men and women in our smaller universities.
I visualize the time when the Australian National University at Canberra will relieve some of the congestion in our bigger universities. A university college has been established at Mildura, with the result the congestion at the Melbourne University has been relieved in some degree. I believe that my suggestion would go a long way towards relieving the over-crowded state of the universities in our large capital cities. It is well known that the universities at Melbourne and Sydney are over-crowded, and it may be that that is true also of the Adelaide
University. I hope that in addition .to providing for post-graduate . courses the proposed university at Canberra will also establish facilities ‘for the benefit of undergraduates. I .do.. not know how many student’s are likely, to be enrolled, or whether the number will be sufficient to establish all the. faculties- usually associated with- a university. . I hope that proper residential, colleges will be provided, because one of the greatest problems with. which, students are confronted to-day. is that’ of. obtaining , accommoda-tion. Not every . Australian university has its residential ..colleges, and where au.ch, colleges dp; not exist, students experience great difficulty in obtaining suitable accommodation. . ‘.,,1 . . doubt whether success will attend the establishment of ‘a medical research” . school . at Canberra’, because, in my. .opinion .such a “school should, be established’ where’ large hospital facilities exist. “ I d(r not know whether Canberra will ever have a sufficiently large general’ ‘hospital to give to students opportunities- for; post-graduate research in medicine. I should prefer to see the High. Court transferred to Canberra- and a post-graduate 1 course in law provided. The proper place for the High Court is at the National . Capital ‘ qf the Common:
Wealth: I visualize 1 the time ‘when it will be possible for an Australian degree.-‘ of Doctor : of .Laws to be conferred ‘ on successful students. The existing universities’ iri our capital cities, and university Colleges at such places as Armidale and Mildura, will probably concentrate on what may be described as the ordinary degrees, such as Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Agricultural Science, and Bachelor of Engineering, and that those who wish to go further with their studies will then be able to complete their postgraduate courses at the Australian National University’, at Canberra. That may not be possible for some years, but it should be our ultimate objective. I repeat that I place much value on the personal touch in education, and therefore I say that, the existing large classes at most of the .existing universities in Australia are ‘ not” in the best, interests of education. The majority of the students at the New England University ; College may not have had the educational advantages enjoyed.- by: most, of the students at universities’ in our. ‘ capital cities. The- ‘leaving, certificate results of the former.- which entitle them to enter the college are hot as good generally as are v those pf .students attending the . Sydney University. It it noticeable, , however, that the classes at Armidale are not large,, and that, as a result, more, personal tuition of students is possible.;.. The benefit of that personal touch is, seen in that after three, or four years’ training the achievements of the students at the. New. England University College are equal to, and in many instances .better , than, those .of students who .have attended universities - in our capital cities for four years. If some money can be allocated . to existing institutions, for the benefit of ex-service men and women a great service will be done tq them. , …
– The Government is expending . £2,000,000 per annum in th at” direction; ‘ and -next year the ‘ amount is ‘.likely ‘to be- £3,000,000. “ Senator MATTNER.- I am. aware of that; . but I suggest that the £325,000 be :;divided’. among ;th’e>: universities ‘and university colleges that I have . mentioned. It is my earnest hope that much good . will accrue . from the vast sums :of money that are being expended on education,- -but I sometimes wonder whether we are not making mistakes in the kind. of education that is given our children. The old system of apprenticeship, under, which men and boys were apprenticed to various arts and crafts,, seems’ to have disappeared. In the past the master was generally, not only a good craftsman, but also a man of high moral character. The system of apprenticeship training therefore produced men ‘of high moral character as well as good craftsmen. It allowed apprentices time for reading. That is one reason why we must go back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries for the best in our literature and in art. In those days people were not only trained in various arts and crafts; they also were taught how to use their leisure to advantage. We may have to go back to the system under which- ‘young people were taught not only how to read and write and to earn a livelihood, but also something of history and geography, an appreciation of the classics and a love of the beautiful. With that foundation, we should then make it possible for Australian students who show special promise to have a university training, after which those most suitable for post-graduate training should be able to receive it at Canberra. Such an educational system would lead to greater stability and more real knowledge in this country. If the proposed Australian National University at Canberra will instil into the minds of the people that all work is honorable, and that it should be done to the best of a man’s ability, it will accomplish much. Our people should be taught that service to the community in what might be called the humbler spheres is as valuable an asset as is prominence in science or medicine, and that the humble tradesman who does his work to the best of his ability is as worthy of our esteem as is Sir Howard Florey or Professor Hugh Cairns, who have won world renown. I support the bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Nash) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– This afternoon I was handed a reply to a question upon notice which I asked some days ago. The answer was quite satisfactory, and I thank the Minister for it. There was, however, an addendum to it which I greatly resent. I do not think that it would have been included had not the proceedings of the Senate been broadcast. I have been in the political life of this country for about a quarter of a century, and never during that period have I heard anything like what I have heard in this building during the last’ fortnight, when members of the
Parliament have been able to talk to their electors from their seats in the Parliament. Ordinarily, questions without notice in this chamber occupy from ten to fifteen minutes; to-day, just because proceedings were to be broadcast, they lasted for more than one hour, and included many inspired questions. Approximately half of the 35 minutes that is allowed for questions’ that are to be broadcast later in the day was taken up by one Minister alone in answering all the inquiries directed at him. Probably the Minister was annoyed because he had been unable to make his reply to my question within the 35 minutes. I repeat that I resent strongly the addendum attached to the answer. I do not mind criticism in fair debate, but I resent a Minister taking advantage of. parliamentary privilege to reprimand me in answer to a question.
– in reply - The honorable senator has implied that I was responsible for the preparation of the answer that I gave to his question.
– I realize that the Minister himself did not prepare the answer.
– In replying I stated that the information had been supplied by the Minister to whom the inquiry had been directed. I accept responsibility only for conveying the reply to the honorable senator.
In regard to the honorable senator’s . complaint concerning the proceedings in this chamber whilst it is “ on the air “, I draw attention to the fact that Senator Brand, who enjoys a privilege in this chamber that is not sought by most other senators by reading every speech he makes, to-day abused his privilege by making an attack, under cover of a question, upon an honorable senator on this side of the chamber who is absent on official business. I suggest to Senator James McLachlan, therefore, that abuses of privilege during the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Senate have not been confined to this side of the chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre- sented : -
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, Maternity Allowance Act; Child Endowment Act, Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act and Widows’ Pensions Act - Fourth Report of the Director-General of Social Services, for year 1944-45.
Ordered to be printed.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appoint- ments-Department of External Affairs - L. H. E. Bury; T. A. Pyman.
Customs Act - Customs Proclamations - Nos. 655,656.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Commonwealth purposes - Wyndham, Western, Australia.
Postal purposes - Brisbane, Queensland.
Land Tax Assessment Act- Applications for relief dealt with during the year 1945-46.
National Security Act - National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations - Orders- 1946, Nos. 18-22.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties ActReturn for year 1945-46.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for year 1945.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinance - No. 7 of 1946 - Industrial Board (No. 2).
Sulphur Bounty Act - Return for year 1945-46,
Tractor Bounty Act - Return for year 1945-46.
Wine Export Bounty Act - Return for year 1945-46.
Wire Netting Bounty Act- Return for year 1945-46.
Senate adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 July 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1946/19460724_senate_17_188/>.