21st Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M McMullin) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation inform the Senate of the number of ex-servicemen suffering from war neurosis who are receiving treatment in each State of the Commonwealth? In which States is such treatment administered in Repatriation hospitals? In which States is the treatment of war neurosis cases conducted within State mental institutions? When does the Government definitely propose to conduct the treatment of ex-servicemen suffering from war neurosis in uniform repatriation hospitals ?
– The Repatriation Department treats cases of neurosis that are attributable to war service. Throughout the various States of the Commonwealth, that treatment is of the highest standard. The various specialists engaged by the department are very good. I shall obtain information concerning the number of cases being treated in each State and let the honorable senator have it as soon as possible.
– I understand that the Minister for Shipping and Transport has an answer to a question which I asked him concerning the state of affairs on the waterfront since the abolition of the Maritime Industry Commission.
– I have statistics in respect of the two years prior to the abolition of the Maritime Industries Commission and in respect of the eighteen months since the matter was under review by His Honour, Judge Foster. The comparison is shown in the following tables: -
These matters came under the control of Judge Foster in the calendar year 1953. The figures indicate that there has been a big reduction of the number of vesseldays lost since then.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of negotiations to have airliners of the British Overseas Airways Corporation on the London-Sydney run routed through Perth? In view of the rapid industrial development of Western Australia and the high standard of the ariport at Perth, will the Minister have an investigation made of the practicability of the suggestion?
– I shall refer the matter that has been mentioned by the honorable senator to the Minister for Civil Aviation and obtain a reply.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government consider extending a cordial invitation to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to be present at the 1956 Olympic Games at Melbourne?
– The Prime Minister has furnished the following reply to the honorable senator : -
The honorable senator may be assured that the possibility of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh revisiting Australia in 1950 for the Olympic Games will not be overlooked. The occasion, however, is still a good distance ahead.
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following information has been supplied in reply to the honorable senator : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting .for the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Minister representing the Minister acting for the Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’3 questions : -
Section 36 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1930- 1953 and its counterpart in the previous act has been in operation for very many years and thousands of cases would have been dealt with in accordance with its provisions over those years. No records have. been kept of these cases and it would be quite impracticable now to state the number of assessments and to furnish the further information requested by the honorable senator. To extract the information year by year in the future would involve a major addition to the statistical records maintained by the Taxation Department which would not appear to be warranted.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What is the total cost of (a) construction; and (6) equipment, of the post office at Sorell, Tasmania?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Report on Item - Annual Report.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
I also lay on the table the following paper : -
Tariff Board Act- Tariff Board - Annual Report for year 1953-54, together with summaryof recommendations.
The Tariff Board’s annual report is accompanied by an annexure which summarizes the recommendations made by the board and sets out the action taken in respect thereof. It is not proposed to print the annexure.
That the reports only be printed.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That Standing Order 68 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 1st October, 1954, to enable new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m.
Consideration resumed from the 28th September (vide page 552).
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First Schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £743,000.
– I refer to the item in Division No. 1, which relates to salaries and payments in the nature of salary for the Senate staff. I think it might be appropriate if, at the outset of my remarks, I express, on behalf of the Opposition, our great regret at the illness of the Clerk of the Senate. Although his illness is not serious, it involves a long period of convalescence. We of the Opposition trust that his recovery will be speedy and complete, that he will be back to take his place in the Senate during the next session of the Parliament, and that he will be withus until he retires about the middle of next year. I should like him to know that, whilst we miss him greatly, because he has been friend, guide and philosopher to all of us, he need not worry about the efficiency with which his work is being carried on by the excellent staff that he trained. On behalf of the Opposition, I convey to the Clerk our regret for his illness and our best wishes for a speedy return to duty.
While I am dealing with the Senate, I should like to put to the Minister in charge of this item some propositions which relate to the future of the Senate. The first is the question of synchronizing Senate elections with those of the House of Representatives. The Government has indicated that it proposes to appoint a select committee to review the Constitution. It may be that the synchronization of Senate and House of Representatives elections could be effected only by means of an alteration of the Constitution. I should like the Minister to indicate whether such a committee is likely to function in the near future. Has the Government considered its appointment? If not, when does it propose to move in the matter? Those questions involve many factors, including a high degree of political instability in this country, the undue cost of numerous elections, and the convulsing of the electorate with election after election. Allied with those factors are questions connected with the proper method of filling casual vacancies in the Senate, the establishment of machinery to resolve deadlocks between the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the need, perhaps, to amend section 13 of the Constitution to provide something to the following effect: That after a double dissolution, the term of office of the senators elected shall commence from the date of their election and stall extend for three years or six years, respectively, from the nearer 1st July. All of these questions are important to the future of this chamber, and I suggest that they are all urgent. A select committee of both Houses of the Parliament - and if not of both Houses, then of this chamber - might usefully direct its thought to such problems, not only in the interests of the future of the Parliament, but also in the interests of good government. When the Minister is dealing with this item, I should be grateful for any comment he may care to make on the appointment of a select committee and constitutional alteration generally, as foreshadowed in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
– I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in expressing deep regret that the Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Edwards, is absent because of illness. I endorse all the statements made, by the honorable senator. All honorable senators on this side of the chamber extend their sympathy to the Clerk. We have a high appreciation of flip work that he has done for the Senate. T also join with the Leader of the Opposition in assuring Mr. Edwards that his understudies are carrying on efficiently during his absence.
The Leader of the Opposition, in referring to the synchronization of Senate and House of Representatives elections, raised a matter of great importance to the Senate. At ibis stage, I give him an assurance that the subject has not escaped the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government. Matters of very high policy are involved, but as soon as possible, on behalf of the Prime Minister, I stall make known to the honorable senator the nature of Government policy on this matter.
in relation to vital matters that were raised by the Leader of tlie Opposition (Senator McKenna),. I hope that the Government will .heed his submissions. On many occasions since I have been a member of this chamber, sections of the press have criticized the expenditure on the Senate in the light of the duration of our sittings. I do not think that. during the period I have been associated with this chamber. it tas functioned in the manner that was intended by the framers of the Constitution. Of course, I realize that in the years from 1946 to 1949, when the previous Labour Government tad a numerical majority in the Senate, of 36 to three it was well-nigh impossible for this chamber to carry out its duties in accordance with the spirit of thi Constitution. At various times prior to 1946, a similar state of affairs existed. Of recent years, our ratter infrequent and short sittings have been characterized by undue taste by the Government to deal with its business. The manner in which the Government tas limited debate on the Appropriation Bill, which provides for the expenditure of millions of pounds, is regrettable. Apparently, supporters of the Government believe that, as the Estimates were considered fairly fully in another place, there is no necessity for the Senate to devote much time to them. I deplore the attitude of successive Australian governments - particularly the present Government - to this matter. Having regard to our constitutional authority, I consider that many more debates on important matters should be initiated by the Senate. I sincerely trust that the Government will consider favorably the submissions that were made by the Leader of the Opposition, and also take notice of the matters that I have raised, because many honorable senators, on both sides of the chamber, do not endorse the practice of rushing through important legislation. They believe that every measure should be considered thoroughly by the Senate. Perhaps the Minister for Shipping and Transport does not agree with that contention; he seems to be obsessed - altogether without justification - -with the idea that it is the Government’s job to hasten the passage of legislation by the Parliament. However, I tope that th Government will vary the current practice, in order that every member of this chamber stall have an opportunity to discharge fully his duties to the electorate. I believe that all members of both the
Australian Parliament and the State parliaments have a duty to their electors to ensure that all legislation receives mature consideration before being enacted.
– I wish to offer a few observations because it is now almost five years since [ came to this House and I feel that that period of service may qualify one for a transfer from the stage of apprenticeship to the stage of attempted responsibility. Coming into this chamber as a result of :i new system of electoral procedure in 1949, 1 felt that an opportunity had been revived for this chamber to accept its independent functioning as one branch of the legislature. I believed that the previous system whereby the block vote ensured an overwhelming majority for the Government party and an insignificant minority for the party which failed to secure a majority vote at the general election had placed this chamber completely under party ‘ control. But, with proportional representation, a new opportunity was offered to the Senate to take an independent line, if only honorable senators determined that that was the way in which to discharge their responsibility. Unfortunately, our opponents are addicted to caucus control, and pledge themselves to follow the partyroom vote. As they submerge the equal State representation accorded in the Senate beneath the majorities of the big States of the mainland in another place, it is quite obvious that if they persist in pursuing that procedure they will he permanently disqualified from ever putting the Senate on a basis of independence.
On this side of the chamber, where one enjoys complete freedom of individual thought, and where there
Iia ve been many instances of that freedom, having been displayed, I have had the pleasure of taking part in procedures in the last four years that have demonstrated that the ‘States which we individually represent have different interests to be supported here. Some honorable senators may think that some of those interests concern a very small part of the very small State of Tasmania. Nevertheless, they are vital interests for the electors of that State and this is the forum that was provided for the advancement of their views.
I venture to obtrude these few remarks on the attention of the Senate because I believe that, individually, all senators, whether they sit on the opposition side of the chamber or on the Government side, have an earnest desire to fulfil the purpose of their public representation here.
But despite what Senator Critchley has said, nobody can rightly claim that that purpose has been achieved during the last five years. That has not been solely due to the abridgment of debates. During the first eighteen months after December, 1949, honorable senators witnessed in this chamber such an exploitation of the freedom of speech that is accorded by standing orders that of necessity, in order to have legislation properly debated and approved, abridgment of debates became necessary to some extent. The chamber is now considering Estimates relating to a substantial portion of the expenditure of the national Parliament. In years past we have been accustomed to speak on a very few items of expenditure. I now wish to suggest that the Senate might feel disposed to interest itself in a new procedure for dealing with these Estimates. We hear the Ministers plied with questions and we see at their elbows a group of very knowledgeable civil servants who are most eager to give the Senate all the information that they have at their disposal. But with the procedure that we now employ, we are being divorced from an intimate and knowledgeable contact with the agencies which administer the nation, and spend its money. Why should not the Senate adopt a procedure in connexion with the Estimates whereby, when an item is called on, a witness from the department concerned, or some other person knowledgeable in the subject, is called before the chamber ? Then, through personal contact with that man who could give us the information that we require, honorable senators would begin to know something of the way in which the department was administered. I believe that this procedure is possible under standing orders. The opportunity would be taken, not to examine closely every item of the Estimates, but to examine those items on which it was considered desirable to focus attention.
Under this procedure honorable senators would acquire a real working knowledge of what the departments are doing and they would be placed in . a position to form a judgment of real value as to whether what the department was doing accorded with the purposes for which we vote the money. If it were to use this procedure I believe that the Senate would be accorded by the more busy House of Representatives and by overworked Ministers the function of making a more thorough inquiry into expenditure than it has made up to date. In the belief that all the time that is required will be allowed the Senate to consider the Estimates on this occasion, [ hope to suggest, if the procedures of the committee will permit, that we adopt that course in connexion with one or two votes. If we have access to the officers who actually spend this money we shall know what they are doing with it. “We shall appreciate the value of their work; or if we find irregularities, we can condemn them. I am excited to suggest these procedures because, to the shame of this Parliament, it will be found in the Auditor-General’s report that he has repeated, for the eleventh year in succession, his criticism of looseness of some accounts. If we ignore that information again without proper examination then we shall condone a state of affairs that the Auditor-General, in the discharge of his duty, has thought it proper to bring to the forefront of public attention. Unless we support the views of the Auditor-General, from time to time, as the Estimates come before the Senate, we shall rob him of the effectiveness of the work that he does as an independent officer of the Parliament.
– Order! I remind honorable senators that they must not make second-reading speeches in the consideration of the Estimates. They must relate their remarks to the Estimates under consideration.
– I rise to discuss the Estimates of the Parliament of th, Commonwealth. It is noteworthy that nearly £750,000 of the people’s money is to be spent on the maintenance of the
Federal Parliament. Of this amount, £41,600 will be expended on the Senate. This could be termed a small amount indeed if the people of the Commonwealth were convinced that they were receiving value for the money so spent. The way the affairs of the Senate have been conducted over the past four years, particularly in the discussions on the budget, leaves doubts in the mind : of most people, and a bad impression upon the general public. On many occasions when huge sums of public money are to be spent and important public questions have been at stake, the debate has been curtailed in this chamber because somebody has wanted to get home and get away from Canberra for a few days. I am amazed that persons who practically break their necks to get into Parliament subsequently almost break their necks at every possible opportunity trying to get home again. It is much more important that the Government of the country should be carried out efficiently, and that the work of the Senate should be performed properly. Those duties should take precedence over the private commitments of various individual senators. Last night the debate on the first and second readings Appropriation Bill was gagged. Many honorable senators who wanted to speak in that important debate could not do so although that was one of the rare occasions when honorable senators have an opportunity to address themselves to important financal matters.
The Senate occupies an important place in the system of Government. The smaller States on a population basis, including Western Australia, first agreed to federation because they understood that the Senate would be a House to represent the States. The three .smaller States in point of population feared that the very thing that has happened would take place, and that their interests might be swamped by the more populous States if representation in the Commonwealth Parliament were to be decided only on the basis of population. Therefore, it was agreed that the Senate should be a States’ House in which all States would be equally represented irrespective of population, size or wealth. That was one important reason why the vote throughout Australia favoured federation. The people, particularly those in the distant States, look to the Senate to ensure that some stability is maintained in the Government’s attitude to the States. Yet on important occasions, the debate is stifled in the Senate. I have vivid recollections of a defence vote of £200,000,000 that was passed th rough this chamber after an hour’s discussion in the early morning when human vitality and concentration are at their lowest point. That huge expenditure was approved about 3 o’clock in the morning. The debate was gagged and honorable senators had to put up with it. I believe that in debates on such important measures, every honorable senator should be given an opportunity to express his or her views. At several periods of its history, lopsided representation made the Senate rather meaningless. At one stage there were 33 members on one side to three on the other. On another occasion, the proportion was 35 to one. As a result, the Labour party decided to apply the electoral system of proportional representation to the Senate, and many honorable senators on. the Government side made their debut in this chamber four years ago as a result. That was a wise move, because it gave the Senate much more balance than the House of Representatives possesses. Therefore, the standard of debates in this chamber . should be of a high character, but discussions are hampered and opportunities that should be afforded honorable senators to speak are completely destroyed by the application of the gag and frequent intervals when the Senate is taken into recess. Such happenings make the people wonder whether the money that is voted for the work of the Senate is entirely justified.
I should like to see the Senate given the opportunity to discuss certain aspects of national work through various committees. The Senate in other countries occupies a much more important place in national affairs because of the committee work that is performed by it. That applies particularly to the Senate of the United States of America. The field is a big one in which honorable senators could materially assist the Government irrespective of its political colour. It could be given specific work upon which it could concentrate its efforts. There are honorable senators on both sides of the chamber who have special knowledge of one form and another, and who could find work to do on various committees that would help in the solution of some of Australia’s big and pressing problems. In the words of Senator Wright, the overworked Ministers themselves do not have time to give all the attention that they would like to devote to certain matters, and honorable senators should be prepared to work as a harmonious whole within the confines of the Parliament.
I deplore the limited scope of the debates that are held in this chamber. I believe that the Senate is treated with scant courtesy. We are told that we have to hurry and that we should refrain from talking on certain matters because somebody wants to get away. That is wrong when applied to the National Parliament, and honorable senators on the Government side would be quick to criticize if such a principle were adopted by the waterside workers, the coal-miners or the manual workers in any industry. I deplore this haste that has become the mark of the Senate’s work. The theme is, “ Hurry up and get it over “ or “ Do not talk on this bill. We want to get away “. If honorable senators are in such a hurry to get away, they should not have been in such a hurry to get into the Parliament. I hope that some consideration will be given to the provision of important work for the Senate by a review of the committee system.
– After listening to Senator Tangney, I could not refrain from asking myself whether her speech was likely to raise the prestige of the Senate and make the people believe that they were getting value for the money that is expended upon this branch of the legislature. The fault is not in our stars, dear senators, but in ourselves. It is true that there are party divisions in this chamber and that, in general, honorable senators vote on party lines. It is true also that the executive wishes to put its legislation through, but within those limits, it is possible for honorable senators to make a useful contribution to the debates on the measures that come before them. It is possible for us to pick out points in the budget that could be improved. To my knowledge that has been done every year since I have been in this chamber. Far from believing that the Senate is a worse place since I came here, I believe that it is a much better place. In my opinion, the calibre of the personnel on both sides of the chamber has been improved.
I believe that the first thing the Senate should do to build itself up in public esteem is to provide a high standard of debate and the standard is high when honorable senators on both sides strive to go beyond merely trying to prove that the party they support contains the essence of all the wisdom and goodness in Australia. I believe that we can defend our processes and our policy with quite a lot less party and factious feeling. In the main I believe that we try to do that. My own impression is that many of the debates in this Senate are on a higher level than are those in the House of Representatives. Only a few days ago, a good debate on international affairs took place in this chamber. I made a contribution . myself and I shall not comment upon it, but I heard good speeches from both sides of the chamber. Not one word of them was published in the press, hut every important daily newspaper in Australia reported that two members of one political party in another branch of the legislature had either assaulted one another or attempted to engage in some kind of a wrestling bout. I do not know whether the report was true. The point is that the press thought that that was the type of political incident that it should report. The matter is to some extent in our own hands. Particularly when debates are being broadcast, we can get down to the meat of whatever proposals we are considering, and do our best to enlighten public opinion. Therefore, I shall not delay proceedings any longer, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but shall allow honorable senators to get down to a hard analysis of fact and figure.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.If honorable senators wish to debate the Estimates, they will have an opportunity to do so, but if they roam all over the world in their speeches^ that opportunity may not be available. I ask speakers, therefore, to keep to the subject-matter of the Estimates.
– I have always believed that the Senate should be a house of review as long as it exists. But it cannot be a house of review no matter what government is in office if it has to debate matters blindly. Senator Wright has suggested that senior departmental officers should be allowed to come to the table of this chamber to answer questions or explain measures to honorable senators. I believe that any such scheme would fail dismally. For instance, the officials who compile estimates of expenditure must first satisfy their Ministers that their figures are correct, and that the expenditure is justified. It would be wrong to ask a departmental official to give to the Senate more information than he has given to the responsible Minister. That would jeopardize his position. I believe that all-party committees should be appointed to examine, the activities of various departments.
– Such as the Foreign Affairs Committee on which Labour refuses to be represented?
– Yes, provided that members of that committee who do not agree with the decision of the majority shall have the right to present a minority report. Such committees are dominated, of course, by Government supporters, and just as they are entitled to express their views in majority reports, so we should be entitled to express our views in minority reports. If committees of the kind to which I have referred were appointed, senators would not be so eager to rush back to their various States when the Parliament rises. Quite frankly, i agree that many debates that take place in this chamber are of a very low standard because of constant repetition. A Minister rises and presents the case for his department. The Leader of the Opposition states his case. Honorable senators find it difficult to justify their jobs when they are given very little information about expenditure by the various departments.
– If you seek you will find.
– I say it is impossible under present conditions to find the origin and purpose of various departmental schemes. Later in the debate on the Estimates, I shall quote to honorable senators a reply given to me by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), who is at present Acting Leader of the “Senate. The reply was definitely incorrect and the people of Victoria whom I represent want to know what is going on. The committees that I have mentioned could function between . the sittings of the Parliament, and the information that they could obtain would enable their members to make intelligent contributions to debates. Under the present system, senators are obliged to endeavour to discuss matters about which their knowledge can only be limited. If they were better informed, the debates in this chamber would be of far greater interest to listeners, and would give them some indication of the kind of work that is done by members of the Parliament. The rank and file members of both Houses to-day have very little to do. In Labour governments at least, Ministers are elected by the rank and file, and I believe that rank and file parliamentarians should be given an opportunity to help Ministers to do their jobs properly, particularly in times of crisis such as war-time. That could best be achieved by appointing committees of each House to investigate various matters and obtain information from the departments. We would know why a certain sum of money was to be expended in a certain locality rather than elsewhere in the Commonwealth. We would be able to obtain information that Ministers and even departmental heads are not given. Such information would enable us to discuss intelligently how the peoples money is being spent.
I do not agree with the suggestion that departmental beads should be brought to the table of this chamber, but I do believe that committees could be established to inquire into departmental activities. If that were done, not only would the existence of the Senate be justified, but also the people of Australia, particularly those who listen to
Parliamentary broadcasts, would be given some idea of the job that honorable senators are called upon to do.
– My remarks are directed to Division 1 of the Estimates. I have heard some remarks from Opposition senators to the effect that our debating time is being restricted on this and other matters. I agree with Senator Tangney that all honorable senators should have adequate time to debate any proposal that we are asked to approve, but I remind the honorable senator that, not very long ago, when the Senate met on a Friday to debate the Estimates, members of the Opposition in a body walked out of the chamber with the result that no quorum was present and the sitting had to be abandoned. Even last night, when the Senate wanted to sit late, members of the Opposition objected.
– I rise to order. I think the honorable senator’s statement is unwarranted, incorrect and entirely out of order.
– To which words is the honorable senator referring? .
– To the statement that the Opposition was against sitting late last night and walked out.
– I did not use those words. All I said was that honorable senators opposite objected to sitting late. We had two or three divisions on that issue. I do not object to any honorable senator claiming that he has a right to speak.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.There is no point of order.
– Before honorable senators opposite raise such objections, they should put their own house in order. A perusal of the pages of Hansard shows that more often than not, when the Senate has wanted to sit late, honorable senators opposite have strenuously objected and, in fact, voted against the proposal. I was most interested to hear Senator Critchley and Senator Wright refer to what I consider to be the most important matter of the independent functions of the Senate. I agree entirely with -what the honorable senators said. We should never forget that the Senate, has three prime functions. First, our duty is to protect the interests of the States. Secondly, we have an obligation to review and, if we so desire, to revise legislation. Thirdly, the Senate has an equal right with the House of Representatives to originate legislation, a function which is not the prerogative of most other upper chambers. ‘ Unfortunately, those three functions of the Senate are not carried out to the extent that I should like them to be carried out. But the ‘problem cannot be disposed of simply. In this country, we have a very rigid party discipline which, I think, militates against the proper functioning of an upper chamber. That is why my friends of the Opposition must be very careful when they criticize us. I put it to them that no house of review can function successfully unless the Opposition so permits. In these matters, the onus is on the Opposition. No government party can be expected to treat a debate as a nonparty debate if the Opposition treats it as a party debate. The ball is in the Opposition’s court. If members of the Opposition want to deal with a measure in a genuine non-party spirit, they can do so. I have been a member of the Senate for about five years. On no occasion during that time have I known the Opposition to co-operate with the Government in any endeavour to make the debate on any measure a non-party debate. I have a vivid recollection of standing here one day and endeavouring to treat a report by the Public Accounts Committee on the Department of National Development as a non-party issue. The debate was conducted as a non-party debate until the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) tried to make political capital out. of the report. He spoilt the whole tenor of the debate. His remarks arc reported in Hansard, and they can be read by any honorable senator. The Leader of the Opposition endeavoured to make party political capital out of a report that could have been dealt with in a non-party spirit, and he turned the debate into a party debate. I regret that these things happen, but I emphasize my point that no member of a government party in an upper chamber can be expected to debate any measures on nonparty lines unless the members of the Opposition are prepared to play the game. With the greatest respect, I say that my friends of the Opposition are not prepared to play the game in this way. Their party refuses to allow them to do so.
Opposition senators interjecting,
– I am not making these remarks in a party spirit. All that I ask my friends of the Opposition to do is to read the relevant Hansard reports. On some occasions we on the Government side have endeavoured to deal with measures in a non-party spirit, but on each occasion we have been frustrated. In this matter, the proof of the pudding is in the reading of Hansard.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask Senator Vincent to confine his remarks to the items under discussion.
– I am referring to the functions of the Senate, and I am relating my remarks to Division 1. I want to make some observations on a matter that was dealt with by Senator McKenna. I refer to the proposal to realine, so to speak, elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate. I, too, consider this to be a most important matter. I was happy to hear that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had it in hand. I think it is quite proper to ask the Leader of the Opposition-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! Electoral matters should be dealt with when the Estimates for the Department of the Interior are being considered.
– I am endeavouring to answer the remarks that were made by Senator McKenna about coincidence of elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. With great respect, I submit that I am in order in doing so.
– I rise to order. You have ruled, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the subject about which Senator Vincent wishes to talk should be dealt with when another division of the Estimates is under consideration. I think the Minister is quite competent to answer any suggestions on that subject that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition.
Senator Vincent does not have to answer for the Minister.
– Senator Vincent drew my attention to the fact that the Leader of the Opposition had made a reference to this matter. As I have pointed out previously, if a debate gets away from the question before the Chair, it becomes difficult to control. Honorable senators should direct their remarks to the items that are under consideration, but as the Leader of the Opposition referred to the timing of elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives, I shall permit Senator Vincent to refer to it also.
– Will that ruling apply to all honorable senators, Mr. Temporary Chairman ?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.It will apply during the discussion of the Estimates for the Parliament. Afterwards, I shall ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to the items under consideration.
– I understand that, on this item, the discussion will be on a free-for-all basis.
– I am not trying to answer anything on behalf of the Minister. I am trying to make some observations on the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition about the coincidence of elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. I agree entirely with what “he said, but I want to pose a question to him. This is a matter which demands the co-operation of the Opposition and the Government parties. Therefore, I think it is pertinent to ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he is prepared to co-operate with the Government parties on it. Will he agree that members of the Opposition should join the proposed all-party committee? I think that is a fair question. The honorable senator should be prepared to come out in the open. Is he prepared to say, “ We will co-operate with the Government on this matter. We will not make it a party issue. We will consider it on its merits. We will sit with Government members on any committee appointed to consider it “ ? Is the Labour party prepared to co-operate with the Government? Is it prepared to join the proposed committee? I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition come out into the open and answer those questions.
– I hesitate to intrude a second time into the debate on these items. I trust, .Mr. Chairman, that you will apply the same rule to this discussion as was applied just now by Senator Wood. In my first speech, I referred to the infrequency of lengthy sittings of the .Senate and the constant use of the gag by the Government. I was taken to task for my remarks by Senator Vincent in a manner that was not in accordance with the facts. As usual, the honorable senator posed as an authority on all matters relating to the conduct of the Senate. He made some extraordinary statements. He said that the Opposition has refused to sit on Friday nights. The honorable senator must know that, by arrangement between the Government and the Opposition, certain days are selected as sitting days for the Senate. I suggest that on the occasions when objections were raised to sitting on other days, those objections were raised because some honorable senators, both on the Government side and the Opposition side of the chamber, had made arrangements to be absent from Canberra on those days.
The honorable senator talked about the Opposition refusing to co-operate with the Government. In my fairly long political life, which has not been confined only to this House, I have never seen a government receive greater cooperation from an opposition than this Government has received from us. The Government has a majority in this chamber, and it has used that majority to curtail debate. Quite often, it runs for cover after a session has lasted for only ten or twelve days. I point out that we must expect to be criticized by the public when those things happen. The honorable senator apparently based his accusation on the ground that we objected to sitting on days that were not normal sitting days, or to sitting through the night, in order to enable the Government to get bills through the Parliament quickly and, by so doing, indirectly to gag debate on them. That is an unfair practice, which should not be indulged in by a government that wants the cooperation of the Opposition. Senator Vincent knows that what I have said is true. He realizes that the Opposition could do nothing to prevent the Government from terminating the present series of sittings to-night, at 4 a.m. to-morrow or next week, if it so desired. Incidentally, let uie say that I see no reason why certain proposals that have been made in relation to next week should he adhered to while business of great importance remains to be conducted. I hope that Senator Vincent will not again try to suggest that L said something which I did not say. He knows that his side of the committee has weight of numbers, and that, for that reason, the Opposition was denied an opportunity to continue the debate last night. I do not think the Senate should, countenance such deliberate misrepresentation by an honorable senator. He must be aware that it is the practice of this Government to use the gag, although I admit that this is not the only government to have done so. After all, a government must expect criticism from the Opposition. I repeat that the accusations of the honorable senator regarding my colleague were totally unfounded. They can serve no other purpose than to injure the already waning prestige of the Senate.
Senator MCCALLUM (New South Wales) [4.12]. - I wish to direct the attention of the Senate to Division 4, Library, and particularly to the schedule of salaries and allowances at page 144. Honorable senators will note that the 3alary of the parliamentary librarian is exactly the same as are the salaries of certain officers of the Parliament. That highlights a matter that I raised during the debate on the budget papers, when I said that the parliamentary library is now part of a great national library, and the functions of the principal librarian are much more important than are those of a parliamentary librarian. I therefore invite the attention of the Ministry to this anomaly, which means that the chief librarian of the great National Library is at present treated as though he were simply a parliamentary officer. I do not wish my remarks to be taken, as a reflection on the officers whose salaries happen to be the same as that of the parliamentary librarian, nor do I suggest that their salaries are adequate. I merely emphasize the fact that the National Library has now grown to such a stature that it should not be treated merely as a parliamentary library.
.- I suggest that nearly every honorable senator believes that, within the next two days, he will be required to do many things that are contrary to his private judgment. He will be required, for instance, to approve of the appropriation of hundreds of millions of pounds without considering the particulars of such appropriation. He will know very little about the votes to-be approved by the committee, perhaps by to-morrow, when the proceedings will not be broadcast. I feel sure that the guillotine will not be used to-day in order to force this appropriation bill through the Senate, because if it were so used the public might become aware of the way in which the business of the Parliament is transacted in this chamber. However, I have no doubt that the guillotine will be used for the purpose of forcibly passing the legislation. I suggest that if, next week, a member of the .public were to question an honorable senator concerning the items of expenditure for the various departments, the honorable senator would be unable to advance a convincing reply for the simple reason that he would not know the nature of the amounts and the purposes for which they were voted.
This Senate is part and parcel of the Government of Australia. Perhaps, in the past, it did not have a great deal of importance, but we are approaching an era when every section of the Parliaments of Australia will become more important. Only a week ago’ we debated South-East Asian affairs, and we were able to deduce, from statements that’ we heard at that time, that our future way of life will be different because we shall be required to consider matters which now hardly enter our minds. It has been said that taxation is government, and government is taxation, but we do not accept the truth of that statement. If it were true, there would be no need for us to discuss such measures as this bill. We should have mathematicians to fix the rate of tax and see that taxation collections were made and the Parliament would merely vote certain sums to the various departments and not bother about how those sum3 were expended. As a matter of fact, that is what happens at the moment. The sums referred to in this bill will be voted to the various departments^ and few honorable senators will know how the money is expended. Let us consider some of the most important departments of the Commonwealth, such as the department which is responsible for aircraft production.
– Order ! We are discussing the Parliament, not the production of aircraft.
– I do not propose to deal with this matter directly, but only by way of illustration. I shall not refer to expenditure in that connexion, but shall refer to the Department of Air and other departments to illustrate to the committee what I have in mind. If honorable senators were asked what is being done in the Department of Defence Production, the Department of Air, the Department of the Navy or any other department for that matter, how many would be able to give a reasonably accurate reply to the question?
– We could not do so.
– That interjection supports the case I am about to present. In Australia we have the cabinet form of government. We are accustomed to it, because it has become established. It has both strong and weak features. I propose to illustrate to the committee some of its weak features. Although some of the most important matters in this country relate to defence, who in Australia knows anything about defence? I suggest that only a few highly placed public servants and the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) have such knowledge. It seems to me that for a few men to have sole knowledge of our defence ramifications is to place too much of a responsibility on their shoulders. Such responsibility should be shared by a committee consisting of honorable senators.
Reference has been made this afternoon to the time that we propose to waste next week, although the business of the Parliament is to be hurried through between now and to-morrow night, for a reason of which I am not aware. Perhaps it is because some of the more prosperous mem bers of the Liberal party wish to return to their homes in order to carry on their business undertakings, or perhaps some of the wealthy members of the Australian Country party want to get back to their farms to increase primary production. I have no doubt that there are others who, for private reasons, want the Senate to adjourn to-morrow night so that they may have a full week off. I suggest that if the Senate were carrying out its functions in a proper and conscientious way it would sit not only next week but also until the week before Christmas, because there are many important matters which could be discussed.
If we were to appoint Senate committees to investigate Commonwealth affairs, this chamber would be far more fully informed on governmental matters when such an important measure as this comes before it. As it is, honorable senators feel that they are dealing with such legislation under pressure, and that it must be hurried through because the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. McLeay) wishes the chamber to rise by to-morrow night. No one on this side of the chamber objects to sitting late at any time, if it is in the interests of the people of Australia to do so. But if they feel that they are being asked to sit late only to meet the selfish wishes of members of the Cabinet and supporters of the Government, they will not co-operate. It is all very well for us to theorize and talk about altering the Constitution in order to make this chamber more useful to the people of Australia. If it is necesary to alter the Constitution, then let us get on with it, so that we may change the parliamentary procedure as soon as possible.
– I desire to direct attention to the item “ Standing and Select Committees - Expenses “ under “ C - Other Services “, for which the proposed vote in this financial year is £2,500. A similar amount was voted for that purpose in the last financial year, but only £904 was expended. Before applying myself to a consideration of this item, I shall refer to statements that were made by Senator Critchley and Senator Benn. Both honorable senators protested that this Government had failed to co-operate with the Opposition. That is not so. On the contrary, the Government has, in this chamber, co-operated in a large degree with honorable senators opposite, and I have no reason to think that that practice will not continue. Although the Opposition now professes to be very much in favour of the committee system, we must not lose sight of its attitude, during the last three years, to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which is a most important body. The Government, very generously, invited the Opposition to nominate several of its number to be members of that committee, but the Opposition refused to do so. I pay a tribute to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for stating in his policy speech prior to the last general election, that an all-party committee of both Houses of the Parliament would be appointed to review the working of the Constitution and submit recommendations for its alteration. I hope that that committee, when appointed, will consider not only a means of synchronizing elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate, but also the question of the establishment of Parliamentary investigating committees.
Honorable senators will recall that, in December of last year, the Senate passed the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act, which provided for the avoidance of the double taxation of incomes flowing between the United States of America and Australia. I was interested to read a report on the manner in which a similar measure was dealt with -by the American. Congress. The American Senate appointed one of its normal standing committees to investigate the matter from the American angle. The initial debate in the American Senate lasted for only two or three minutes. The committee considered all technical aspects related to the subject, and heard evidence from company lawyers, bankers, members of parliament, and senior officers of the Taxation Department of the United States of America. When the measure again came before the American Senate, it was dealt with speedily. Let us con7trast the manner in which our measure was dealt with by the Australian Senate. After the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) had delivered his second-reading speech, an accurate and encouraging speech was delivered by Senator Armstrong. There was no real inquiry, which the important nature of the measure warranted. Despite the tremendous importance of the bill to the future of Australia, I presume that the House of Representatives gave to it no more consideration than we did. I have before me a book entitled American Democracy in Theory and Practice, which was written by Robert K. Carr and three other gentlemen. It contains an interesting statement that was made in 1944 by Senator Harry Truman, who was subsequently the President of the United States of America, relating to the work of parliamentary committees, particularly a committee of the Senate, of which he was chairman. Senator Truman stated -
The work of this committee has demonstrated what can be accomplished through investigation by committees of the Congress. Our industrial economy has become so complex and the necessary changes so numerous that it is impossible for the Congress in legislating to provide all the safeguards which are necessary for proper administration. If an attempt were made to do so, great delays would ensue, and in many cases the detailed requirements of specific legislation would be harmful rather than beneficial. For these reasons, it is important that Congress not only continue but enlarge its work of investigation. In my opinion, the power of investigation is one of the most important powers of Congress. The manner in which that power is exercised will largely determine the position and prestige of the Congress in the future. An informed Congress is a wise Congress; an uninformed Congress surely will forfeit a large proportion of the respect and confidence of. the people.
If the Australian Senate is to retain its prestige I am convinced that it will have to investigate more fully the probable effects of the provisions of bills that come before it. Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages of the committee system. Senators who are members of standing committees become specialists on taxation, arbitration, foreign affairs, and other matters. A big disadvantage of the committee system is, that committees have a tendency to become little legislatures. They could become, if not carefully watched, somewhat tyrannical. I hope that the proposed committee will investigate the possibility of establishing, in this country, a committee system of the nature and importance of the committee system of the American Congress. I therefore invite the attention of the Senate to the fact that last year only £904 was spent for standing and select committees of the Senate although £2,500 was voted for them. I should like the Minister for National Development to state why a sum approximating the full amount voted was not spent. I hope that the work of the Senate committees will be favorably looked upon in the financial year that we are entering because I think that any action that will accord greater knowledge of the matters that come before the Senate will be appreciated and, in fact, demanded by the people of Australia.
– I wish to continue for a brief period along the lines which were initiated by Senator Critchley. Since Senator Critchley expressed the viewpoint of the Opposition on the tactics of the Government, this debate has taken an extraordinary turn. I cannot boast, like Senator Wright and other senators, of five years’ experience in this chamber. I have been here for only about twelve months. But I have participated in the debates of other bodies and never have I seen the gag so ruthlessly applied as it has been applied in the twelve months that I have been in this chamber. Honorable senators opposite have asked for a little more dignity and decorum in this chamber, yet they have acted in such a way as to make dignified procedure impossible. That exposes the hyprocisy of honorable senators opposite. I notice that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), who is the chief executioner, has just left the chamber and I have a feeling that he has already fixed the time at which this debate will end. Two hundred and fifty pounds weight of ruthlessness ! Regardless of whether important items on the Estimates which require discussion have been considered or not, the Minister has decided when the debate will terminate.
When the Chifley Labour Government was in office and I was a member of the public I used to listen keenly to the deba tes that took place in the two chambers of this Parliament. I heard some bitter complaints voiced by present Government supporters, who said at that time that the
Chifley Government had applied the gag too freely. Any person who wishes to conduct an impartial examination of the methods of the two governments-
– I rise to order! I submit that honorable senators must relate their remarks to the Estimates before them. This should not be the occasion for a second-reading debate.
– The committee is discussing the Estimates for the Parliament. Senator Toohey has not said anything which is not related to the Parliament. The Minister might have raised his point of order earlier in this debate with a. lot more justification.
– The committee is considering a particular estimate within a list of estimates which total about £400,000,000. Senator Toohey has only spoken on matters concerning the Estimates for the Parliament which are before the Senate. A tremendous amount of money is being voted. Only one or two items are before the committee at the moment. I submit that the widest possible scope of debate on the lines being pursued by Senator Toohey should be permitted.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - What happened prior to my taking the Chair, after having been unavoidably absent, I do not know. But I intend to keep the debate, as far as possible, within the limits of the particular Estimates before the committee. I do not intend to allow the making of second-reading speeches. I suggest that Senator Toohey should confine his remarks to the Estimates before the committee. I suggest that he should not proceed further with his remarks unless he relates them to a particular item before the committee.
– When Senator Wood was in the chair, he gave an assurance to the Senate that the gate was wide open. I think that everybody heard him say that.
– I rise to order. I made that remark with reference to a certain matter on which the Leader of the Opposition spoke.
– I rise to order. Is Senator Wood raising a point of order ? If he is, what is his point of order?
– I was disputing the statement of Senator Toohey.
– I think that Senator Wood was speaking to the point of order that was raised by Senator Spooner. Honorable senators had an opportunity for wide discussion on the debate on the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill and during the debate on the Budget papers. Whilst I am in the chair I am going to keep the committee on the subject of the departmental Estimates. I am prepared to give reasonable latitude, but I will not allow an honorable senator to make a secondreading speech.
– Senator Toohey was stating that we have not had an adequate debate on the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill. That debate was gagged. That was Senator Toohey’s complaint.
– Honorable senators had an ample opportunity for general discussion in the debate on the budget papers, which was not confined to one day. They also had a general debate yesterday on the motion for the first reading of the Appropriation Bill. We have now reached the committee stage. What happened prior to that is not my business, but it is my business to ensure that, in committee, we observe the standing orders that have been laid down for the conduct of committee business. I propose to ensure that we do. It will not make any difference to me which side of the chamber transgresses. I shall ensure that honorable senators confine their remarks to the Estimates under consideration at the time.
– I want to know whether it is competent for me to refer to the remarks that have been made by previous speakers. At least that privilege should be extended to me. At the beginning of this debate Senator Critchley raised certain subjects which were developed by succeeding speakers on the Government side of the chamber. Certain statements were made by them which should be refuted. It is rather strange that when I want to speak on the same matters as previous speakers I should be told that I am out of order. I do not ask any greater degree of licence than you would give to any other senator, Mr. Chairman, nor do I expect less. In view of your ruling, I do not intend to develop my argument in relation to the Chifley Government. But, I think that I am entitled to speak on the matter that was referred to by Senator Wright, who got up with his ponderous, r-rolling bombast, and said that the Senate lacked dignity and was not carrying out its true functions. He proceeded to make statements of a controversial and provocative character which could have no other effect than to reduce the standard of debate to the level to which he inevitably reduces it when he rises in this chamber. If Senator Wright wishes the Senate to perform its true functions, and if he wants our debates to be conducted in a fair and logical manner, he should keep out of them. After Senator Wright has spoken on any measure-
– I rise to order. If the honorable senator wants to enrich the debates of the Senate he should observe the Standing Orders. He has departed entirely from the Estimates in his remarks.
– I have already given my direction. The honorable senator has proceeded far enough along those lines. I suggest that he confine himself to the Estimates. I am not in a position to know what happened whilst I was unavoidably absent from the Chair. But I do know that I intend to conduct the debate, as nearly as possible, within the Standing Orders. I have given reasonable latitude. But if I allow an enlarged scope of debate at this stage, honorable senators will not have a reasonable amount of time in which to discuss the Estimates. I suggest that Senator Toohey has proceeded far enough in his efforts to answer remarks that were made previously. If he wishes to continue along the lines that he has been following he will have to connect his remarks with the Estimates before the committee.
– I have been treated differently from every speaker who has preceded me.
– You have not been treated any differently from the speakers who will succeed you.
– That gives me small comfort. I wanted to reply to many statements that were made by Senator “Wright but I have been silenced. I wanted to speak on the Foreign Affairs Committee, on which Senator Vincent was allowed to speak at great length.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity to discuss the Foreign Affairs Committee when the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs come before the committee.
– It seems that Senator Vincent was given an opportunity that I cannot have. In view of your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I consider that I have been unfairly treated and I do not intend to proceed any further. I hope that the next speaker will receive a better deal than I have received.
– I reiterate what the last speaker said. I also hope that I receive a better deal than he received. In considering the Estimates for the Senate and honorable senators’ salaries, I presume that we have the right to scrutinize the work of honorable senators and decide, to the best of our judgment, whether the people of Australia are getting value for the money that is spent upon this branch of the legislature. Sometimes open confession is good for the soul. Senator Anderson said that the Senate was a chamber representing the States, and that it was set up to protect State interests. He said that it was non-party and a house of review. Having listened to those statements, I wonder whether we are being hypocritical or trying to kid ourselves. Just how long will this sham continue? It has become perfectly clear for years that this chamber, containing honorable senators drawn from all States, has no particular consideration for the States compared with party affiliations.
– We had a division on State lines only last week.
– The honorable senator should not try to tell me that because there is one sparrow-
– We need a few more sparrows.
– I do not kid myself that the Senate system still works, that we work on non-party lines, represent the States or are a house of review. If any honorable senator believes in those theories, he should disillusion himself and bring his thinking up to date.
– Does the honorable senator want to abolish the Senate?
– If the Senate continues in the way it is going, I would advocate strongly that it should be abolished.
– The honorable senator is trying to degrade it.
– Apparently, because I have criticized this chamber, I am trying to degrade it in the opinion ofSenator McCallum. This is the place to make criticisms. We in this chamber are not so virtuous that we are beyond criticism.
– The honorable senator should speak for himself.
– I shall be like a penitent at a revivalist meeting. . I shall confess my sins.
– We shall be here all night then.
– The Senate is part of the bi-cameral system of government in Australia, but it has drifted into such a position that it is merely a replica of the other branch of the legislature. If honorable senators on the Opposition side have a majority, they become an obstructive force in the way of good government. If there is a majority on the Government side in both Houses of the Parliament, the Senate becomes merely a mirror reflecting events in the lower house. If we continue to believe that we are a States’ house, a non-partisan branch of the legislature or a house of review, we are kidding not only the people of Australia but ourselves, too. What should honorable senators do about it? If they are determined to proceed on the present course, the only reasonable way to make this chamber useful is to adopt a practice that I have advocated constantly. I suggest that honorable senators should be divided into select committees representative of both sides of the chamber, and that those committees should work on behalf of the Senate itself.
It has been said that honorable senators on the Opposition side would not join the Foreign Affairs Committee and that, therefore, we are not prepared to participate in any committees. That is n half truth. Supporters of the Government know that a proposition was put to the Labour party, and it was met with a counter-proposition. Neither side was prepared to move one inch. No one wanted to compromise, and in those circumstances, obviously there could be no agreement. Therefore, members of the Opposition did not take part in the work of the Foreign Affairs Committee. If the Government is so eager for representatives of the Opposition to act on the Foreign Affairs Committee, why does it not agree to meet some of the Opposition’s requests so that an agreement can be reached? If it is not prepared to do that, obviously it cannot expect the Opposition to select some of its members to join the committee. Senator Vincent has asked whether honorable senators on the Opposition side would join a committee to consider a revision of the Constitution. My heart says “ Yes but my head asks, “ Under what conditions are we being asked to take part ? “ We cannot answer “ Yes “ or “ No “ at this time.
– The honorable senator should listen to his heart.
– I should like to do so, but after an honorable senator has been in this chamber for some time, he learns that if he listens to his heart, he may lose his head, politically, at any rate. During and after World War II., a number of select committees were appointed. I believe that they included an equal number of members from -both sides of the Parliament. Those committees met regularly for several years, and presented valuable reports to the Parliament. The present Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) was associated with me for a number of years on one of those committees which dealt with controversial matters. That was the Social Services Committee and it placed a number of recommendations before the Parliament. Those recommenda tions had the unanimous support of members of the committee and much of the information that was obtained was acted upon by the government of the day. That was an example of what can he done by the Senate. I believe it is a function that the Senate could perform with benefit to the Parliament and the people of Australia.
Time is running out, however. Little has been done to make the Senate as useful as it was intended to be. The time has gone when it could be made nonpartisan. I hope the time has gone also when it can be made a States’ house. Surely Australia has grown big enough, as a nation, to realize that we have to live as a nation, and not as six separate States. I 190k forward to the day when this Parliament will be the truly National Parliament of Australia. The sooner we can forget that we represent different States, and not Australia as a whole, the better. The Government and the people should recognize that this Parliament must be the unifying force in Australia. That can he achieved, not on a State basis, but on an Australian basis. The functions of the Senate as a States’ house are disappearing. It is no longer a non-party house. The affairs of the Senate can be carried on only on a party basis. Can it be a house of review? I say that it cannot he a house of review if it is conducted on a party basis. Ministers bring bills to this chamber to be passed, and their supporters have to line up behind them on a party basis to pass the measures.
I suggest that close consideration should be given to the appointment of committees, and that both sides of the chamber should be equally represented. The committees should be given more power, and the Ministers should be prepared to refer more work to them. If that were done, this chamber could serve a useful purpose. I suggest that there should bo a. Committee of National Development. I have advocated its appointment for many years, and I believe that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) should consider the proposal. Great projects in Australia should not be dependent upon the whims of political parties. That committee could be a standing committee, because there should be a national plan for the development of Australia.
– The State Pre- ‘ riders do not agree with that proposition.
– I am not concerned whether anybody agrees with me. I suppose there are honorable senators in this chamber who do not agree with my proposal. I put forward my point of view, and if any person does not agree, he should put forward his views and try to show me where I am wrong. I have watched the position for a long time, and I believe that the usefulness of the Senate is fast disappearing. It has been said that the dignity of the Senate is dying. I believe its usefulness is dying. If a bi-cameral system of government is to be continued in Australia, we must find ways in which the Senate can render new services to the people. The basis upon which the Senate was constituted is outmoded. New opportunities to perform fruitful work are open to this chamber, but there is little sign that any attempt is .being made to take advantage of them. I suggest to the Government that the Senate could perform useful functions through committees moving about Australia, discovering facts, setting them down and reporting to the Parliament. If something is not done along those lines, I can see no value in the continued existence of the Senate.
– I support honorable senators who have advocated a greater use of select committees of the Senate, but I remind them that they are not being practical when they make the provision in the Estimates for the work of such committees. The provision for that purpose in the measure that is before the committee totals £2,500 for a year. The allocation of only £2,500 does not give much scope for select committees to do the work that honorable senators have envisaged. I have risen to make that point and to answer some of the suggestions that have been advanced by Senator Arnold. Senator Arnold’s voice is the voice of New South Wales, one of the big States. Of, course, New South Wales opposes the Senate as a States’ house. That is only natural. When federation was suggested, the small States knew very well that without equal representation in a States’ house, they would bc swamped by Victoria and New South Wales. They refused to accept federation unless the smaller States had equal representation in the Senate. I can quite understand Senator Arnold’s point of view. He is a New South Welshman and if New South Welshmen had their way the Commonwealth would be run from Sydney. Only because the States have equal representation in this chamber is it possible for the smaller States to defend their rights. Although I have been a member of the Senate a comparatively short time, I have seen this chamber divide on State issues. Many of the debates on State issues have been instigated by Tasmanian representatives, but the mere fact that Tasmania is a small State does not mean that its representatives cannot be leaders in such matters. On the land tax, for instance, the Senate divided on State lines and, only last week, the sugar industry was discussed on a State basis. On that occasion Tasmania’s representatives were defeated. If the majority of members of this chamber consider us to be wrong, that is all right. We are prepared to abide by the majority decision; but at least we are able to make a fight on a State issue. I assure Senator Arnold that regardless of the opinion that may be held in New South Wales, if he talks in Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia or Western Australia of abolishing the Senate, he will get very short shrift indeed.
Senator O’Byrne interjecting,
- Senator O’Byrne should appreciate that Tasmanians must stick together if the interests of their State are threatened, and I am surprised that he does not agree with what I an; saying. He, too, should be standing up for Tasmania. Without the Senate, Tasmanian interests would be swamped by those of the bigger States. Cartographers do not even bother to put us on the map of the Commonwealth. ] can understand Senator Arnold’s desire to establish a huge centralized administration. at Canberra, which would control all great national issues. I think those were his words.
– Hear, hear!
– Apparently Senator O’Byrne agrees with that. I thought he was elected to this chamber to fight for Tasmania’s interests. We have a written Constitution by which we must abide and Labour’s attempts at further centralization have failed. Honorable senators opposite should not forget that on several occasions when Labour governments have asked the people by referendum to confer greater powers on the Commonwealth, they have been turned down flat. Labour wants to control everything from Canberra. But this is a States house, and whenever we Tasmanians consider that the vital interests of our State are threatened, we shall take steps to ensure that the States house shall perform its proper functions. We shall protect the interests of those who have sent us here. As I have said, I can quite understand Senator Arnold’s point of view because he is a member of the great unificationist party. The prefederation debates show that Labour was opposed to the establishment of the Senate. What was the reason for that opposition? The reason was that the small States would have a greater voice in the affairs of the Commonwealth than would New South Wales and Victoria. That was the very genesis of Labour’s opposition to the Senate. That was why the smaller States said, “No bi-cameral system, no federation “, and “ No equal representation, no Senate “. The Senate has seen Tasmanians in action on many occasions. It will see them in action much more frequently if honorable senators opposite advocate the abolition of this House of the Parliament which was established primarily to protect the interests of the smaller States.
– This debate on Division 1 of the Estimates has wandered over a very large field, and it has now culminated, as so many other debates culminate, in a defence of the integrity and importance of Tasmania. Into that controversy, I do not propose to enter because there are other honorable senators on this side of the committee much more competent than I am to take up the cudgels in attack or defence, on that issue. What I wish to point out to the committee is that there is a tendency in discussions on financial proposals for senators and members of the House of Representatives to concentrate much more on the revenue side than on the expenditure side. Expenditure commitments in this Appropriation Bill total more than £400,000,000, and a further £100,000,000 is appropriated by the associated capital works and services measure. When one considers that that is a total of £500,000,000 in a budget of £1,000,000,000, one realizes the amount of money that is required for fixed commitments. The point I am making is that the degree of financial elasticity in the Commonwealth sphere is diminishing every day, and after all, whether members of the present Government or members of the Labour party hold office - honorable senators opposite occupy the treasury bench to-day and we should like to occupy it to pursue our own political ideas and philosophy - availability of finance is the important thing. As the degree of financial elasticity diminishes, the opportunity for members of the present Government parties, or for us in our turn, to implement our respective political policies also diminishes. For that reason, the Parliament should scrutinize with increasing care expenditure contemplated in appropriation bills. The Commonwealth’s activities are increasing and we can expect this process to go on. As the Government’s activities increase there will be a need for closer scrutiny of accounts.
The division of the Estimates now under consideration deals not only with the Senate but also with the financial provision for certain committees of the Parliament including the Public Accounts Committee. Our consideration of the Estimates is hampered by two difficulties. The first is the time difficulty, and although we complain that we are not given an adequate opportunity by the Government to discuss this measure thoroughly, even if far more time were available, it would still not be adequate for us to discuss the various Estimates as they should be discussed. But there is added to that difficulty another difficulty which is the complexity of the financial papers themselves. These documents do not readily present a clear picture from which, conclusions can be drawn. Senator Wright has pinpointed to the committee the difficulty under which senators labour in trying to interpret those documents, and he has suggested that members of the public administration staffs should be asked to appear before the committee to be examined and questioned. As an alternative to that course, I offer a suggestion which I believe is much more likely to be acceptable. It is that Ministers, in presenting a particular proposed vote, should explain any significant feature of it such as the introduction of a new project, or greatly increased or greatly reduced expenditure in any direction. In that way Ministers could easily explain in advance why changes were being made in the allocation of finance. That would obviate a lot of unnecessary questioning, and would inform honorable senators in advance of the actual discussion of an estimate, of what was proposed.
That is my proposal, although, admittedly, it is not unique. That system already operates in the Queensland Parliament. The practice in that legislature is not as it is here for the Chairman of Committees to call on items of proposed expenditure one after the other. In the Queensland Parliament, as a Minister presents an item, he gives the committee some information about the expenditure that is proposed. That, I think, would be a more practicable and more acceptable alternative to Senator Wright’s suggestion. I point out, however, that the method proposed by Senator Wright is actually adopted by the Public Accounts Committee. Departmental officials are called before that committee for questioning. The procedure is for an official to present a written statement in answer to questions that have been put to him by the secretary at the direction of the committee. Those written statements then form the basis of discussion and interrogation. Prom that procedure, some extremely valuable information has accrued to members of the committee, and through them to the Parliament. Until I became a member of that Public Accounts Committee, and had an opportunity to learn how Commonwealth .departments function, how financial papers are made up, and how finances are handled, I did not appreciate the difficulties under which members of Parliament must necessarily labour in trying .to get an intelligent appreciation of the finances of the Commonwealth. It may be possible to extend that principle. The activities of the Public Accounts Committee, although somewhat laborious, should be of considerable help to members of the Parliament. I do not make that statement in any boastful way, but merely to point out that if honorable senators wish to become more familiar with the activities and financial administration of departments, they have access to a number of reports on various departments presented to the Parliament by the Public Accounts Committee. I invite them to examine those reports. For instance, the committee’s report on the Repatriation Department was most comprehensive. It contained a brief history of the development of repatriation services. It also pin-pointed weaknesses in the financial administration of that department. If read carefully and intelligently, the report will give honorable senators a sound knowledge of the operations of that important money-consuming activity.
The reports of the Public Accounts Committee fall into two categories. There are those which deal with departments, and those which deal with what we know as methods of financial presentation. There is a report, for instance, on the form and contents of the financial documents presented to the Parliament. That was a progress report. The committee’s aim was to simplify those financial documents so that the Parliament would be better able to scrutinize expenditure. The Parliament must ultimately accept responsibility for expenditure, and therefore it should have every possible opportunity through individual members and senators, to know exactly what is being done. The committee’s reports on matters such as this are not the final word. The presentation of a report does not mean that investigation of the matter has ended. The examination of the processes of the presentation of financial documents is a continuing examination. We do not expect that our recommendations will be lightly accepted and put into operation. After all, some methods are traditional and are very difficult to depart from.
But we have received the greatest possible co-operation from members of the public administration, particularly from Treasury officials and from the AuditorGeneral. To some extent our scrutiny, whilst not being critical of tho Treasury, possibly causes that department the most concern of all. Certainly it causes the Treasury the most work. Yet, as I have said, we have received the greatest cooperation from the Treasury, and I believe if the activities of the Public Accounts Committee are allowed to continue on their present basis, and if members of the Parliament will read the reports of the committee, we shall find, over a period of years, that there will be much more intelligent approach to the consideration of the finances of the Commonwealth, particularly on the expenditure side, than we see to-day. I do not offer that observation critically, because there are things that members and senators cannot be expected to know and that cannot be learned from casual observations, or from the sporadic approach to financial documents which is all that members and senators can make to them whilst they have other important duties to perform.
On the general question of parliamentary committees, I want to say that we are inclined to look at the American system of government and the American Senate and say that we could have something similar here. But I think we should always bear in mind that the American system of government, in which there is a clear separation of legislative and executive power, is quite different from ours. At no time can the American Executive- fall, as the result of a vote in the House of Representatives or the Senate, during the four-year period of office of the President. That is why committees of this Senate would be, to some degree, in a different category from committees of the Senate of the United States of America. I believe this Senate has a great opportunity to establish fact-finding committees. There are many subjects that such committees could investigate. For example, there is no reason why a fact-finding committee should not be appointed by the Senate to consider the problem of uniform divorce laws and ascertain the views of interested parties. The Senate is a States house. If we set out to establish, by means of a series of fact-finding committees, certain propositions in various fields, I feel we should get the maximum co-operation from the States, because no other body would be more suitable to perform such a function, nor would any other body be more centrally situated or more universal in its representation of the people.
– What about the sugar industry?
– We could establish a fact-finding committee to investigate the sugar industry, and we should be very happy to include the berry fruits industry in the terms of reference. I do not see why the reports of such committees should culminate necessarily in government action in this Parliament. A factfinding committee could put facts on record as the basis on which the appropriate authority could act. if necessary. If we found it was desirable to do something in relation to, say, indecent literature or the standards of newspapers, a Senate fact-finding committee could put various facts on record and so provide a mine of information upon which the appropriate administrative and legislative organizations could draw if they wanted to give effect to any of the committee’s recommendations.
I agree that there is ample opportunity to widen the demands made on honorable senators. I do not think it is fair to say that to-day the time of honorable senators is not fully occupied. They have to perform their duties in the Senate, and meet the demands of their parties. We must be realistic and acknowledge that, in a modern political society, a member of the Parliament has demands made upon him by his party. We must acknowledge also that demands are made upon the time of every honorable senator by the electors. Although an honorable senator has no constituency, he represents a State. He has social obligations which attach to him personally and in his official capacity. Those obligations make demands upon his time. In addition, most of us are associated with statutory committees, such as the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee, with standing committees of the
Senate, or with joint parliamentary committees. Those who take an intelligent interest in the work of those committees know that they are time-consuming. Membership of the Public Works Committee involves a lot of travelling. That is inseparable from the functions of a member of the committee. The PublicAccounts Committee holds lengthy meetings, mostly in Canberra. Other members of the Parliament have to come to Canberra during recesses to attend meetings of the Joint House Committee, which controls the domestic affairs of the Parliament. Then there are minor committees such as the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. I realize that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is a very important committee, but it is considered to be of a minor nature by many people. Owing to the growth of subsidiary and subordinate legislative bodies, there is an increasing obligation on the sovereign legislature to scrutinize the ordinances and rules which emanate from those minor bodies.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) 5.20 1 . - Necessity, we have been told, is the mother of invention. It would appear that necessity has brought this debate into a commendable and much-required non-party atmosphere. I am pleased to be able to agree with some of the remarks made by members of the Opposition. As I assess the opinion of the Senate at the moment, we are in almost complete agreement that we should have more committees functioning. I agree with quite a lot that both Senator Arnold and Senator Byrne have said on that subject, but I must query some remarks that were made by one of my colleagues from Tasmania. Senator Henty laid emphasis on the fact that only £2,500 is sought for expenditure in respect of committees this year. I take it that the honorable senator’s interpretation of that item is that we cannot want more committees, because only £2,500 is to be appropriated for them. I query that attitude of mind. In view of the fact that only £904 was spent on committees last year, we cannot blame the Government because, in preparing Estimates for our agreement this year, it did not ask for more than £2,500 for committees. We know that if the Senate establishes committees to examine and review certain subjects, a supplementary appropriation can be made if more money is needed to pay for their work.
I think we must be very careful lest, as a result of this debate, we bring ourselves into disrepute with the Australian public. I have taken part in only two short debates on the Estimates. In each of those debates, both Government and Opposition senators criticized the system of presenting accounts to the Parliament, and also criticized the Government for bulldozing the Estimates through committee in the early hours of the morning. We have all said, on occasions, that there must be some improvement of the procedure for the presentation and discussion of the Estimates. Remembering that, and remembering also, if I have assessed the opinion of honorable senators correctly, that we agree that the Senate should have more committees, let us prove our sincerity when these Estimates have, been passed. We should strike while the iron is hot. The acting leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition should get together and appoint a joint party committee to consider future procedure for the presentation and consideration of the budget and the Estimates. During this session, we have had a debate on the Address-in-Reply, in which we ranged over the whole field of political life. We have had a general debate on the motion for the tabling of the budget papers, and we have had another general debate on the motion for the first reading ‘ of the Appropriation Bill. Now we are turning a debate on the Estimates for the Parliament into a second-reading debate, so to speak, on the Senate. I know that that shows we are aliVe to our responsibilities, but I suggest to the acting leader of the Government that, after this debate has concluded, he consider the appointment of a committee which, working quietly in the months that lie ahead, could prepare for the consideration of Cabinet a submission on the method of presenting and discussing the budget papers and the Estimates.
The remarks that can be made about the Estimates for the Parliament could be made also, quite appropriately, about, other items in the Estimates. Last year. wei voted £762,000 for the Parliament, but we’ spent only £689,427. In that respect, - the Parliament set a good example. Although the officers of the Parliament were given permission to spend £762,000, they spent only £689,427. But - this seems to be almost, shall I ‘ say, a disease in public departments - this year they are asking for more money than they spent last year. We are asked to vote £743,000 for the Parliament this year, although only £689,000 was spent on it last year. In other words, we are being asked to vote for the Parliament alone about £60,000 more than could be spent on it last year. That brings ‘me to another point. I believe the Senate should try to stop what is becoming a common practice in big government departments. In preparing its Estimates for the next financial year in, say, May, a department may find that although its vote for the current year was £50,000, it has managed to spend only £40,000, and the officers of the department take the view that if they do not spend the other £10,000, their vote for the ensuing year will be reduced. If we are not careful, public departments may develop the habit of having a wild spending spree at the close of a financial year, because they fear that if they do not spend all the money given to them in one year their appropriation for the next year will be reduced.
There is another point that I want to discuss in relation to the Estimates for the Parliament, but it could arise also in respect of other items in the Estimates. By passing an appropriation bill, we vote money to departments for expenditure during the current financial year, but when we come to discuss the Estimates of those departments for the next year, we find sometimes that they have spent more money than we voted to them. For instance, last year we voted £16,000 in respect of the printing of parliamentary papers. In other words, we said to the department concerned that it could spend £16,000 on that section of its activities. But now we find that it spent £24,171, or about £8,000 more than it had permission to spend. I pose this question: What is the use of the Parliament giving permission to a department to spend a certain sum of money if the department can spend a greater sum, without giving any explanation to the Parliament? We can find examples of this over-expenditure in relation to’ the Estimates of other departments. I believe that the Parliament must be most careful to see that departments spend only the amounts it gives them permission to spend.
– That extra money was for Hansard. We should not talk so much.
– I do not care whether it was for Hansard or for something else. If a department wants extra money for Hansard, why does not it come to the Parliament and ask for it? Under the present system, the extra money is spent and we are not told about it until months later.
– It was the subject of a supplementary appropriation.
– I note the comment on that matter of the Minister acting for the Treasurer. We are being asked to authorize the expenditure of money that has already been spent.
– The reason why some departments have spent more money than they were given permission to spend is that costs are rising throughout the country. It will be found that, in most cases where departments have exceeded their votes, that has been due to increases of costs generally. The only people in the community who are not permitted to exceed their estimates of expenditure are those whose wages are fixed by industrial awards. I commend Senator Marriott for having said much the same thing, although he did not state the position as clearly as honorable senators on this side of the committee present it from time to time.
The committee is being asked to approve expenditure of £743,000 in respect of the Parliament during the current financial year. As other honorable senators have pointed out, the members of this chamber have not been given an opportunity to give adequate consideration to the business of the Senate. Legislation has been gagged through by the Government. The sittings of the Senate are disgracefully short in relation to the important duties which honorable senators are supposed to perform on behalf of the people who elect them. I contend that the people are not obtaining efficient service from the Senate. If this chamber did its job efficiently, and if the sittings were sufficiently long to give honorable senators an opportunity to discuss properly the matters that come before them, the Senate would function in a much better way. As it is, we are giving inefficient service. As most members of the Government are businessmen, they should know that inefficient methods, whether in respect of business or governmental matters, is much more expensive than are efficient methods. If we are to exist as a Senate and perform the tasks’ we are supposed to perform, and which I believe to be very important, it is the duty of the Government to give honorable senators on this side of the chamber an opportunity to express their views when important matters such as appropriation measures are being discussed. Although huge sums of money are involved, this legislation will be gagged through the committee in a few hours.
In my opinion, the Government should not appoint parliamentary committees if their function will be to by-pass the work of democratic government. I agree that certain parliamentary committees should be appointed and that they should be given all the facilities which they require, but it is true, nevertheless, that in many instances the reports of such committees are ignored. Although such reports are well based, the Government does not give the Parliament sufficient opportunity to discuss “ them. I have in mind the cardinal instance of a report by the Public Accounts Committee concerning the Department of National Development. Incidentally, that committee is perhaps the only parliamentary committee which, at the moment, functions with full vigour. When that report was tabled in the Senate, discussion of it was gagged. I was told to sit down when I attempted to speak on it. The Government refused to table papers that I suggested should be tabled. Indeed, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) said that I had no right to ask for such papers to be tabled and contended that I must have obtained information about them in an improper fashion. Instead of the critical eye of this house of review being turned on the matters to which the report referred, the Government refused to make available to the Opposition the relevant papers or to allow proper discussion. I repeat that, although I commend the committee system, it should not be used to by-pass the functions of democratic government and, particularly, to stulify the function of the Opposition to criticize the Government.
This Senate is getting out of tuM with public needs and it is that trend to which the Opposition objects. There should be no parish pump or small-minded attitude in this chamber. The Australian Labour party has never been of that opinion. If this Parliament is to’ function as a national institution, there should be no discrimination between States. This Government has been spending money wildly, on overseas commitments and other matters, without any analysis of such expenditure by the Parliament.
– The AuditorGeneral makes such an analysis.
– The AuditorGeneral is an officer who is required to report to the Parliament. We do not want the Auditor-General, parliamentary committees, or caucus meetings of. any kind to take from the Parliament its democratic functions. This is the place where documents such as the Estimates and budget papers should be analysed. The complaint of the Opposition is that the application of the gag prevents honorable senators on this side of the chamber from making such an analysis. Our public servants are very efficient people and possess a great deal of information. I remember that, on the last occasion when the Estimates were being gagged and bludgeoned through the Senate, officers of almost every department came here and sat in the Senate until .the early hours of the morning, but their knowledge was never called upon. That was not because honorable senators did not require such information, but because the Government so conducted the business of the Senate that honorable senators were not given an opportunity to obtain it.
When, at a later date, the Public Accounts Committee brought certain matters to light, many people asked, “Why did not the Administration bring these things to light and comment on them ? “ The reason, of course, is that honorable senators on this side of the chamber were never given an opportunity to do so. In my opinion, it is essential that the set-up of the Senate should be changed.
It has been argued that the Senate should be abolished, an argument with which I do not agree. We have a Constitution which gives this Parliament certain powers. For instance, the Parliament has power to make laws in respect of taxation, but not so as to discriminate between States or parts of States. It may also make laws with respect to bounties on the production or export of goods, borrowing money on the public credit of the Commonwealth, postal, . telegraphic, telephonic and other like services, astronomical and meteorological observation*, quarantine, currency, banking and insurance other than State banking and insurance, and many other matters. Of course, the Parliament does not exercise power in respect of certain . functions referred to in the Constitution, because the Commonwealth has not yet entered those fields. The proper function of the Parliament is being negatived by this Government’s application of the gag. Indeed, the country is being run by a coterie which makes important decisions and over which, apparently, the government departments have no control. That is obvious from the manner in which the business of the Senate is being conducted. Back-benchers are bucking the Ministers. Recently, during a division in the Senate which was not on State lines, there was a small rebellion against the Cabinet, instead of the Parliament, running the country. In common with certain honorable senators opposite, I object to the fact that the Parliament is not being given an opportunity to scrutinize the actions of the Government.
– What is the honorable senator talking about?
– The honorable senator knows only too well what I am talking about. I suggest that a man can be educated above his intelligence, and if Senator Gorton were sufficiently intelligent he would know what I mean. I shall not elaborate, but if the cap fits, he may wear it.
– Order! The honorable senator must return to the subject under discussion.
– Our responsibilities are growing. I believe that the Constitution should be widened so that this Parliament could accept full responsibility on behalf of the nation. If we are to justify our existence, we in this Senate must change our attitude. As far as I can see, the present method of debating legislation such as this Appropriation Bill serves no other purpose than to afford the Government an opportunity to disseminate propaganda by having it broadcast over the radio and published in Hansard. Instead of honorable senators on this side of the committee being able to criticize government expenditure, the axe is used in order to save the Government from embarrassment. We are not allowed to discuss fully the hard, cold facts about the operations of the Government, the manner in which the interests of the people are being looked after, and the way in which revenue collected by means of taxation is being expended. The Government does not give us sufficient time for proper discussion of those matters, so that the Senate is not able to do its job properly.
Section 106 of the Constitution provides that -
The Constitution of each State of the Commonwealth shall, subject to this Constitution, continue as :vt the establishment of the Commonwealth, or as at the admission or establishment of the State, as the case may ,be, until altered in accordance with the Constitution of the State.
Section 109, which relates to inconsistency of laws, provides that -
When a law of a State is inconsistent with a low of the Commonwealth, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.
The laws of the Commonwealth, therefore, are paramount, but the Senate should protect the rights of the States and ensure that Commonwealth laws do not encroach on State laws. By a process of evolution, the Commonwealth has assumed control of financial matters, and the States have, become mendicants.
State Premiers are obliged to come to Canberra to appeal for financial assistance in connexion with vital developmental works, and in many instances, their appeals are not recognized. They are told that a certain sum of money will be made available to them. Whether the allocation is generous or not is beside the point. The important thing is that the States should be permitted to retain their sovereign rights.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.4-5 to 8 p.m..
Senator KENDALL (Queensland) IS.0] - The debate that has ensued in relation to the proposed vote of £743,000 for the Parliament has centred an the Senate. It has aroused in me a feeling of nostalgia. Indeed, from the sentiments that Senator Arnold expressed, he might almost have been reading the Hansard report of the speech that I delivered in this chamber four and a half years ago, after I had been a member of the Senate for only six months. Some honorable senators may recall that, on that occasion, I pointed out that many more useful duties should be allocated to the Senate. In my innocence, I had ascertained the kind of work that was performed by the upper houses of the Parliaments of other countries, and conveyed my findings to this chamber. I spoke at length about the things that I considered would have to be done, if the Senate were to be, in truth, a States’ house of review, in accordance with the intention of the framers of the Constitution. I support the views that have been expressed by Tasmanian senators. We all know that the upper house of the Queensland Parliament was abolished some time ago. However, I do not agree with those who have expressed the opinion that, unless this chamber is reformed, it, also, will be abolished. Queensland affords an excellent example of what happens under a single house system ; eventually that house becomes overbearing and dictatorial. There is far less chance of a dictatorial system developing under the bi-cameral system. So far, I have bean doomed to disappointment. None of the things which I suggested should be done, has been done. Four and a half years ago,
I was full of enthusiasm. Several members of the Opposition congratulated me on my speech, and a certain Minister said that it injected a breath of fresh air into this chamber. But it accomplished nothing! When the proposed committee to consider constitutional reform is appointed, I sincerely hope that the Opposition will co-operate with the Government in an effort to bring about a state of affairs in which the Senate shall be truly a house of review - a States’ house - or at the least a house which will earn its keep. The Senate does not earn its keep at present. It should be a useful unit in the structure of th, Australian Parliament. Although the proposed vote for the Senate for this financial year is shown in the schedule to the bill as £41,600, if one were to go to the trouble of ascertaining the full amount of the cost of maintaining this chamber, he would find that it is about £250,000 a year. The people of Australia will not be content for ever to pay that amount annually for the maintenance of a house of the Parliament which is of very little use, as at present constituted.
– Senator Kendall is one of the few Government senators who is prepared to get up and speak his mind, on the basis of reality rather than political expediency. I have recently found myself in agreement with his views on an extraordinarily large number of occasions. We are considering the proposed vote for this financial year for the Parliament. Included in that proposed vote are provisions for the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Library, the Joint House Department, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts, parliamentary printing, and miscellaneous expenditure. We are deliberating on the proposed expenditure on those items in this financial year of £743.000. During this debate, many opinions have been expressed in relation to the various phases of parliamentary activity, particularly the functions of the Senate. It is unquestionably true that, during the eight years that I have been a member of this chamber, there has been a growing tendency for the Senate to become merely a rubber stamp. The Government has allotted ministerial portfolios to five of its supporters in this chamber, who express in debates set views that have been decided upon by the Cabinet. Doubtless, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) selected for ministerial rank members of this chamber whom he believed -would adhere meticulously to his policy. It was particularly refreshing, in those circumstances, to hear Senator Kendall express his own personal opinions. I must say that, at times, particularly in relation to Tasmania, Senator Wright has had the courage of his convictions. I give him full credit for that. Although I have disagreed with some of the opinions that have been expressed by Senator Henty, I support his contention that Tasmania is not receiving a fair deal from the Australian Government.
I come now to the Foreign Affairs Committee. During the debate on the motion for the first reading of. the bill, Senator Paltridge stated that, had the Opposition nominated several of its number to become members of that committee, honorable senators on this side of the chamber would be better informed in relation to foreign affairs. However, the inhibitions that are imposed on the members of the committee, who are not permitted to deal fully with the subject of foreign affairs, are such that I do not think that any decent, fair-minded senator on this side of the chamber would agree that the imprimatur . of the great Australian Labour party should be placed on the hole-and-corner proceedings of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Labour disagrees with certain aspects of this Government’s, policy in relation to international affairs which have been developed as a result of the deliberations of that committee. Until the Government permits members of the Foreign Affairs Committee to express their own opinions in relation to matters under consideration, T do not think that any member . of the Opposition will agree to become a member of the committee.
The Public Accounts Committee has full authority to make investigations into various activities of the Public Service. It has been given very wide scope. That committee acts as the watch dog of the Parliament, in relation to the administra- tion of the Public Service, and expenditure by the various departments. I pay a tribute to that committee for the useful work that it has performed.
I have been a member of the Public Works Committee since 1949. The activities of the committee have been restricted considerably since 1936. I point out that, since 1950, the Government has referred to the committee for inquiry and report, only seven projects. 1 consider that it is a disgraceful state of affairs that this committee, which comprises persons of the calibre of Senator Henty and other members of this chamber, who are prepared to lea ve their homes and proceed to all parts of this country to investigate proposals on behalf of the Commonwealth, is not empowered to choose the projects that it shall investigate. In 1936, a clause in the Public Works Committee Act which made it mandatory that projects estimated to cost more than a certain amount should be referred to the Public Works Committee, was repealed. Since then, references to the committee have been at the whim of the Minister for Works whoever he may he. The Public Works Committee has performed very valuable service to the Parliament. It has been instrumental in saving the country thousands of pounds. The Minister has departed from practice this year, in that he has given to the committee a two-year plan on which to work. However, I do not think that the Public Works Committee will be able to function as well as it should function in the interests of the people of this country until the relevant legislation is amended to provide that all public works estimated to cost in excess of £100,000 shall be automatically referred to the Public Works Committee for inquiry. I have a similar opinion in relation to defence expenditure. I believe that a tremendous leakage and losses of public funds have occurred in connexion with projects that have been carried out by the Department of Defence. Full use is not being made of our energetic Public Works Committee. If the Government sincerely believes that great benefit can be derived by the establishment of additional committees, to act as watch dogs on what is going on within the various departments, I consider that more effective use should be made of the old established Public Works Committee.
I do not think that anything but benefit could be derived by amending the Public “Works Committee Act in the manner that 1 have mentioned. I consider that the Public Accounts Committee has set an example which other parliamentary committees might well seek to emulate. But, unless greater use is made of the Public Works Committee, the Government cannot expect the Opposition to co-operate in the appointment of additional parliamentary committees. But, up to the present time, the activities of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs have been circumscribed. I consider that the proposed expenditure on committees is well worth while providing that the members of the committee have all necessary facilities made available to them to pursue their inquiries and are able to report freely to Parliament on what is being done with the taxpayers’ money. Under those circumstances, people will have confidence in governments and in democracy. That is tha only way in which democracy can sustain itself and continue.
Senator MATTNER (South Australia; [8.16]. - The question before the committee is whether or not it should accede to the Government’s request for £41,600 for the purpose of continuing some of the functions of the Senate. As Senator Kendall has stated, £41,600 is not the total annual cost of the upkeep of the Senate. I have always claimed that the Senate is the most important House in our federal system of government. Nothing is more derogatory to the Senate than remarks about the conduct of this chamber which have been passed by honorable senators who are not conspicuous by their attendance here. If the Senate is brought into disrepute, it will be because those senators have been most vociferous in claiming that this chamber is not useful. This is the most useful chamber of the legislature. I do not always agree with the way in which the business of the Senate is conducted. But that is the fault of senators. If we are not satisfied with the way in which our business is conducted the remedy is in our own hands. Only a few years ago, the Senate performed a very useful function. It brought about a double dissolution of both Houses of Parliament. If the Senate did nothing but bring about a double dissolution once in every ten or fifteen years in connexion with a matter of vital public importance, the Senate would justify its existence in that way. But that is not the only function that this valuable chamber has performed. As I have stated before, this could be the most important debating assembly in Australia on one or two conditions. First, I recommend that there should be no Ministers in this chamber. There are only five here now. But if this chamber were stripped of Ministers it would be purely a debating house, a house of review.
– What would we debate?
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. It indicates the difficulty that we have in this chamber. Sometimes I look at Senator Hendrickson and wonder why he does not speak; when he does speak, I wonder why he speaks. As Senator Kennelly said, the subject of defence does not belong to one side of politics. It is a matter which honorable senators should discuss as a national issue.
Honorable senators have referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee. I visualize the time when, perhaps behind closed doors, the Senate may be given information by senators who are members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Facts and figures could be presented to the Senate which would give us a better idea of how to deal with those pressing problems, that are almost at our front door. I realize that many matters cannot be made public. If Opposition senators allowed their representatives to be appointed to the Foreign Affairs Committee they would be able to render a great service to the Parliament in relation to defence matters. This is the place in which defence debates should be initiated. Does any honorable senator consider that he has less intelligence than honorable members in another place? Do honorable senators consider that all debates should be initiated in that place ? Are the members in that place a fountain of all wisdom? I do not agree with that proposition.
The fact that honorable senators participate in joint party meetings with members from another place lias done more than any other circumstance tq bring this chamber under unfavorable notice. The Senate cannot carry out its intended functions as long as senators from either side of the chamber attend joint party meetings. There are 60 senators and 123 members of another place. Irrespective of .the side of th?. Senate on which honorable senators sit, once they go to their joint party meeting they are out- voted and they are committed to whatever takes place at that meeting. The Senate cannot be a house of review if its members are already committed before they enter this chamber. Perhaps I am one of those voices crying in the wilderness, but I believe that senators should not participate in joint party meetings. The subject of television, a matter which is engaging public attention in Australia, was reviewed by the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. Strangely enough, the House of Lords, which is supposed to consist of stuffy old gentlemen, inserted amendments in the United Kingdom television legislation which were the most outstanding feature of the bill. There is no need for me to tell honorable senators that f am not in favour of the immediate introduction of television in Australia. I shall have a later opportunity of discussing that matter. I support the allocation of £41,600 towards the expenses of the Senate. In my opinion, we have done much useful work. Although I have not sat in this chamber as long as some honorable senators, I have been here longer than most and, strange as it may seem, I think that the Senate has adopted a much better attitude than formerly towards its functions in spite of the criticism that we have heard in this debate. I see signs of an awakening. I believe that we can and will make this chamber work as the founders of the Constitution envisaged that it would work. I have much pleasure in supporting the proposed vote of £41,600.
.- In discussing the Estimates before the committee, I think that we should consider whether the Senate can justify its existence. Senator Mattner said that it could. In my opinion we cannot justify our existence under the present state of affairs. The only right that is possessed by the Senate is the right to discuss. Even that right has been curtailed by the . arbitrary rule of the Minister who happens to be in charge of the chamber. The right to discuss matters is one that can be exercised simply by writing to the members of another place. In 1949 honorable senators were elected to the Senate on a different basis from that which had existed previously. That event should have been the signal for the Government to try to introduce into the Senate the system that exists in other countries, in order to make the work of honorable senators worth while. The Government has had five years in which to do that. But it has done nothing about it. If the Labour Government had been returned in 1949, either the functions of the Senate would have been changed, or these seats would have been vacant, because the platform of the Labour party includes a plank for the abolition of the Senate. As I am a senator, . I am not very eager to abolish the Senate. But, at present, I could not advance a proposal at a Labour party conference for that part of the platform to he removed. How can I go to a conference of the Labour party and advance a reasoned argument why the Senate should continue to exist? Honorable senators know the futility and the deadening influence of this chamber. We have no work to do beyond making a few speeches on matters that have already been discussed in another place. We do not do anything to justify our existence. If the Government would adopt the suggestions that have been put forward by honorable senators in an endeavour to make the Senate worth while, I should be pleased to go to the parliament of the Labour party and justify the existence of this chamber with the hope that the plank of the Labour party’s platform for the abolition of the Senate would be deleted. I appeal to the Government to endeavour to make the Senate worth while. I ask it to appoint a committee to inquire how the Senate should function to better advantage. Honorable senators meet now and again and do a certain amount of work, but we are to have another holiday next week. In fact, we are making a parody of parliamentary procedure. Unless the Government takes appropriate action, I do not know how we can justify our existence. This chamber is the home of glory without power.
.- I wish to ask a question about the item in the Estimates that provides for th<-. printing of Hansard. Last year, the sun. of £53,000 was provided, and actual expenditure was £36,380. About £17,000 was not spent. This year the sum of £50,000 has been allocated again. As the vote was underspent last year, is it not possible to reduce the amount this year? Now that Hansard is printed in two sections covering reports of proceedings ir> the Senate and the House of Representatives separately, would it not bo possible to arrange for the Estimates in future to show the cost of the two publications of Hansard separately?
– I have thought about the production of Hansard often, and I remember asking a question of the President on the matter. I should like to go further than Senator Wood has done in connexion with the publication of separate Hansard reports for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Why should we have two separate Hansard reports? Whose was the brain that made that decision? What good has it achieved? I have been informed that the additional cost amounts to £10,000 a year. I do not know whether that is true, but if the cost were only £1,000, the principle is wrong. There was no need to split Hansard into two. Many thousands of copies are printed and very few are read. The cost is great and there have been times during my 22 years as a member of the Senate when honorable senators have suggested a need to abolish Hansard.
– We are abolishing everything to-night. ,
– Oh, no! There has been some talk of the abolition of the Senate, and I recall that the suggestion was made to me in Rockhampton years ago when I was in the company of the late Mr. Scullin. I was asked whether I believed that the Senate should be abolished. I replied, “ Yes, but do not abolish it now. I have just been elected “. I ask a responsible Minister to explain to the Senate why it was necessary to divide the Hansard reports? An explanation may have been given while I was in hospital. Certainly, the information should be given to the committee. Who was responsible? Why was it necessary to go to the high cost involved ? Was it done to gratify the whim of a Speaker of the House of Representatives or was it done to throw obliquy upon the Senate? I hope that an explanation of this gross misuse of public money will be supplied to honorable senators.
I did not intend to speak about the functions of the Senate, but I have been a member of this chamber for 22 years. When I took my seat here there were 36 honorable senators, and I am the last of them. They have all passed to the land of their fathers or are outside the legislature enjoying a well-earned retirement. During the 22 years that I have been in the Senate, I have seen it treated in most cavalier fashion by various governments. Time after time it has been belittled. Honorable senators have como here to work and the Leader of the Government of the day has sent the Senate into recess. The prestige of the Senate has been lowered in the eye3 of the people by this cavalier treatment. The Senate will never be useful while it is, for want of a better word, the tool of the Government. The Senate can do useful work, and it has done good work in the past, but in the course of the years, very few amendments of any measure have been carried by the Senate. That has been the record of this chamber irrespective of the government that has been in power. Occasionally an amendment is passed, but- the Senate does not work as it was originally intended to do. It is no use pulling our own legs and kidding ourselves.
– The Senate went through a double dissolution recently.
– The argument that, the Senate is a useful organization because it brought about a double dissolution is the most amusing that I have heard. In my experience the Senate has. become merely a “ ditto “ House. Bills are brought to this chamber after they have been talked about for several weeks. That is wrong. I agree with other honorable senators that the Senate can become a most useful institution. In the United States of America, the prestige of the Senate is greater than that of the House of Representatives.
– Except for Senator McCarthy.
– I am not casting personal reflections upon anybody. The Senate is an important organization in the United States of America, and it could be important here, but considerable improvement is necessary. As to the abolition of the Senate, I have already stated in my book, My Descent from the Soapbox to the Senate, that much water will pass down the Molonglo River before the Senate is abolished. The reason is that the abolition of the Senate first must be approved by a referendum of the people. A majority of the electors in a a majority of the States must vote in favour of the abolition before it can be put into effect. Personally, I believe in its abolition because I adhere to the Labour Party’s platform, but I am not so foolish as to believe that the Senate can be abolished overnight. The march of evolution is against the Senate, because the economic system is becoming more centralized. The day of petty production has passed. We are now in an era of centralized and all-powerful production under organizations that have ramifications in every State. Therefore, time and evolution are against the States and against the Senate which represents the States.
The Senate’s original function was to act as a States’ house. Those who advocated federation had to placate the smaller States, and to-day they have representation in the Senate equal to that of the larger States. One of the strongest buttresses ensuring the continuation of the Senate is the fact that Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland have strong representation in the party meetings.Is there one small State which would vote for the abolition of the Senate when each of these States can send to the Parliament ten representatives for this chamber who can vote in the party rooms? Certainly not.
If we consider the matter academically, we could discuss the Senate and its continued existence in a polite sort of way. But if honorable senators consider the matter coldly, they will realize that the tide of evolution is against its continuance. The Upper House has been abolished in New Zealand. The dominion is in a different category because there are no States there, but many people believe that we could change the bi-cameral system of government. In Queensland the Upper House was abolished about 30 years ago. I remember how we did it. We had tried time and time again to abolish the Legislative Council by electing to that chamber gentlemen who undertook to use their vote for its abolition. But when the time came, those gentlemen went back on their word, and the Upper House went serenely on its venerable way. So one night after the old codgers, feeling weary had gone home to bed, the bright spirits of the Legislative Council saw their opportunity and they moved for its abolition. Lo and behold, it was abolished, and the members walked out about 2 a.m. singing. They had achieved something worthwhile. No political party in Queensland would dare to advocate the re-institution of the Legislative Council.
– What a backward State!
– What a highly intelligent State! It is the brightest jewel in the Australian crown. It is such a good State that, time and time again, I have seen its representatives in this chamber stand together to defend its interests. I did not intend to speak at this length. I merely rose to ask why the Hansard records of the Senate and the House of Representatives had been separated. I hope that in the absence of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), who is the most adept of all Ministers at answering questions and yet not answering them, I shall be told the truth by his deputy, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay). Was the separation of the reports carried out at the instigation of Mr. Speaker, or was it the decision of some committee? Please tell me the why and wherefor of the separation.
– I shall relate my remarks specifically to the item “ Standing and Select Committees - Expenses “ under “ Other Services “, but I hope I shall be given a little latitude in talking about the Senate generally. I am tired of this deliberatedenigration of the Senate that we have heard from speaker after speaker. Surely that can be left to members in another place, or to people outside the Parliament. I cannot understand the attitude of a person who comes here, draws his salary, and then publicly announces in this chamber that he can find nothing to do. During the whole of my time here, I have always found sufficient to do. Even if our activities were confined to listening to and understanding the debates that take place in this chamber, we should have sufficient to do. But the work of the committees is invaluable, and I refer specifically to the committee that has been attacked by several honorable senators opposite, the Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Byrne, speaking on another matter, gave the answer to honorable senators opposite. So long as we have responsible government it is not possible for us to set up a committee on foreign affairs comparable to the Senate Foreign Affair? Committee in the United States of America. The theory of our Government is that the Executive is responsible to the Parliament, and specifically, to the Lower House of the Parliament. The American executive is completely indipendent of either house, and in order to have a liaison between the President and his executive, and the legislature, these committees function. The framing of policy is thejoint work of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, and the President and his executive.
Our Foreign Affairs Committee started on the basis that it would consider, in the main, matters referred to it by the Minister. But it is not true as has been alleged by some honorable senators opposite that the committee, or the Minister, has refused to do anything to meet the Opposition’s objections. We have had many conferences. I was present at a conference with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. He was most conciliatory. I have spoken privately to many members, and the arguments that have been put up seem to me fallacious, with one exception. There may be something in the argument that the Opposition prefers to keep a perfectly free hand. I do not think that is conclusive, but I will allow that there is substance in it. But the argument that the committee is futile, or what Senator O’Byrne called a “ holeandcorner affair “, is ridiculous and untrue. In practice, we have discussed many things that have originated in the committee. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has never failed to meet us, and I do not know of one thing we wanted to discuss that we were not allowed to discuss. We have met many important people from other countries. We have met three Cabinet Ministers from Great Britain including Mr. Sandys the son-in-law of the British Prime Minister. We have also met the French Minister for Colonial Affairs, and we have discussed every important problem that this nation needs to discuss. I am not going to attack honorable senators opposite, or even to criticize them for not sending representatives to the Foreign Affairs Committee. I appeal to them in the interests of Australia to join the committee because, unless they do that, they cannot possibly know what is going on. Senator O’Byrne has told us that the committee of which he is a member does valuable work. I accept his word. I do . not say that that committee is futile or. . is a “ hole-and-corner affair “ merely because I do not belong to it. Every member of the Foreign Affairs Committee will bear me out when I say that the work done by it has been of enormous value.
I come now to the Senate itself. I object strenuously to the statement that debates in this chamber are necessarily a re-hash of what is said in the House of Representatives. If any senator says that, he is speaking for himself. If an honorable senator is so unoriginal that he can do nothing but go over the “ flats “ of the House of Representatives, and repeat the threadbare arguments used in that chamber, let him speak for himself. That is not my practice. I have heard many debates in the House of Representatives.
Some of them were good, and some were bad; but whether good or bad, I do not need to hang on the words of anybody in that chamber. I am prepared to put forward my own arguments and to examine questions myself. There is nothing to prevent any member of this chamber from doing that. For members of this chamber to tell the people constantly that the Senate is futile, that it is dependent on the Ministry, or anything else of that kind, shows a complete want of self respect. We are not dependent on the Ministry.I realize that some debates could be longer, and that there are times when we should sit longer, but I am not too sure that the fault lies with the Ministry. Quite a number of honorable senators opposite are always willing to hurry away. I am always prepared to remain until a debate is finished. I regret that I have found it necessary to retrace some of the ground that I covered this afternoon, but I could not restrain my indignation when I heard senator after senator attack the chamber of which he is a member and from which he draws his salary. If any honorable senator believes that he does not earn his salary, he has his remedy. He can resign. We are not conscripts. We are elected. We are sent here to do a job, and we who do that job do not need this wailing and wringing of hands that has been going on.
– I did not intend to speak on this appropriation and I have been prompted to do so only because we all owe a responsibility to the people. Earlier to-day, Senator Wright made certain suggestions which might appeal to people outside who do not know the working of the Parliament. I have been much longer in this chamber, both as a senator and a Minister, than has Senator Wright and as a consequence, I am reluctant to take him to task. But one of his suggestions was that departmental heads should be brought before the committee of the whole Senate, to be cross-examined on departmental expenditure. In my seventeen or eighteen years in this chamber, I have never experienced any difficulty in obtaining from departmental officials all the information that I required prior to the introduction of the appropriation bills. If Senator Wright adopts that procedure on the occasion of the presentation of the next. budget, provided he is still a member of this chamber, I have no doubt that departmental heads and other officials will be only too glad to give him all the information he wants.
The Senate is claimed to be a house of review, but in all my experience I have never seen it function as such. As Senator Brown has pointed out, there were occasions, prior to the introduction of the proportional representation system, when the Opposition in this chamber consisted of only three members. There were also occasions on which the numbers on both sides of the chamber were even, with the result that it was not always possible to get legislation through. On no occasion have I seen any member of the present Government cross the floor to vote with the Opposition against a bill. That bears out what Senator Wright said about caucus meetings. The Labour party is a united party and its members are bound by caucus decisions.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! We are not discussing the ramifications of caucus.
– I am merely replying to Senator Wright.
– I ruled earlier to-day that I would not permit any honorable senator to reply to matter that was out of order.
– So far as I can see, everybody has had a field day in this debate.
– I shall not permit references to the ramifications of caucus. That matter does not come under the items now before the committee.
– Senator Mattner has admitted freely in this chamber that when the Government parties are in conflict, he has to support the decision of the majority, which, of course, is the decision of Liberal party members who dominate their caucus. Apparently some honorable senators have forgotten that the Parliament has from time to time appointed committees such as the Public Works Committee and . the Public Accounts Committee, to carry out specific functions. Those committees report to the Parliament from time to time, and those reports provide first-hand information for any honorable senator who likes to read them.
A revision of our Constitution is long overdue. I remember the time when the Ministers who are now on the front benches opposite were on this side of the chamber. I should like the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLcay) to tell us how many bills that could have been introduced in the Senate have been introduced in the House of Representatives while this Government has been in office. There have been times when the Senate was not sitting, but when it could have been fully occupied in discussing bills introduced by Senate Ministers. When the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, he said repeatedly that Labour Minister? in the Senate should introduce legislation. That was done on many occasions by both, the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to consider whether more bills can be introduced in this chamber, so that honorable senators can be more fully occupied. At times, bills that could be introduced by Senate Ministers are introduced in the House of Representatives, and the Senate has no business to do until it receives them. When the Senate receives them, they are rushed through by the Government, and on some occasions the debate is gagged. The time is long overdue for an alteration of the Constitution to give the Senate greater powers. All that we can do now is to amend bills and make requests to the House of Representatives, but if the amendments or requests are rejected, that is an end of the matter. I say that the Government should convene a representative convention to review the Constitution.
Before I conclude, I want to deal with a remark that was made by Senator McCallum. I shall be quite frank and admit that I strongly opposed the appointment of members of the Labour party to the Foreign Affairs Committee. I foresaw conflicts between Government members and Opposition members on the use of Australian forces overseas and on other subjects.’ The Government had stated that reports presented to, a.nd made by, the committee would be kept secret. As a representative of “Western Australia, that did -not suit me. Because the Government refused to agree that reports made to the Parliament by the committee and reports made by the Government to the committee should be made ‘ public, I refused to be a party to it. I have no more to say.
– Then sit clown.
– Unlike some members of the Government, I do not try to imitate a gramophone. If I have something to say to the Government, I have a right to say it. If I have a suggestion to make to the Government, it is my duty to make it. That is all I want to say.
Senator VINCENT (Western Australia) [9.5 J. - I refer to Division 6, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I note that during the current year it is expected the committee will spend about £2,850. Having regard to the very important work that the committee does, I think that money will be very well spent. I take this opportunity to place on record my appreciation of the committee’s splendid work. I understand that from time to time the committee examines certain proposals for public works and that on some occasions it makes recommendations for a reduction of the expenditure proposed. I . understand also, although I am not certain of this, that in some instances the reductions of expenditure have amounted to many thousands of pounds.’ As a back-bencher, I am unable to ascertain the extent to which public money is saved by the committee. I am quite prepared to believe that it saves the taxpayers a lot of money, but there is no method by which I can find out the extent to which public money is saved. I suggest that the responsible Minister should make reports to the Parliament from time to time, setting out the proposed expenditure on proposals and the expenditure finally agreed after the Public Works Committee has made its recommendations. If that were done, the Parliament would have a full appreciation of the money that has been saved through the efforts of this excellent body. I pass that suggestion on to the responsible Minister and to the committee itself. Those honorable senators who are members of the committee might like to consider it.
Before I sit. down, I want to refer to a subject which has occupied our attention for most of the day. I refer, of course, to the functions of the Senate. Quite frankly, I have never heard more woolly talk about the functions of the Senate than I have heard this afternoon. Some honorable senators have displayed a great deal of ignorance of the functions of the House in which they sit. I have, heard silly comparisons made between the American Senate and the Australian Senate. Surely it is time that we understood the nature and functions of this chamber. They are very much different from the nature and functions of the American Senate. The most important difference is that the American Senate has an executive function. It has a foreign relations committee which has an executive power. For example, it has the right to veto treaties. This chamber has no executive power. Therefore, it is sheer nonsense for honorable senators to make comparisons between this chamber and the American Senate. The American Senate has an important and powerful executive function, but we are purely a legislative .body. Comparisons between this chamber and the American Senate are invidious and unfair, and do no credit to any honorable senator who makes them.
As some remarks have been made about the impotence of this chamber as a legislative body, let me refer honorable senators to the first section of the Constitution, which states -
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called “The Parliament”, or “The Parliament of the Commonwealth “.
My reason for reading that section should be obvious. If any honorable senator is dissatisfied with the way in which this chamber is working, surely that is the fault of the members of the Senate themselves. A part of the legislative power of the Commonwealth is vested in this body. This is a sovereign house. If we have any quarrel with the way in which the Senate is functioning, that is our own fault. It is not the fault of the Government. The Senate is a legislative body, co-equal with the House of Representa- .tives. We have legislative power, but if we do not choose to -exercise that power, it is our own fault. Some honorable senators have complained that the Government has not allowed them to act as members of a house of review. If we do not exercise our right to act as a house of review, it is our own fault, not the fault of anybody else. The Government is impotent in this chamber. We have power as legislators, and if we do not use it, that is our own fault. If we want to condemn anybody, let us condemn ourselves. Before the Senate can become an effective house of review, the members of the Opposition must forget about their caucus ideas, because the Senate never will be a proper house of review if Labour senators have to abide by caucus decisions.
– What about the Liberal party caucus?
– We have not got a caucus.
– From my point of view, this has been a most interesting discussion. Members of the Senate have been arguing at cross purposes. The nearest approach to what I consider to be the true position was made by Senator Wright and Senator Benn. They pointed out that very often the Senate was not given an opportunity to discuss matters that it should discuss, and that sometimes, when such an opportunity was given, the gag was applied. They implied, although they did not say so specifically, that for all practical purposes members of the Senate are the political puppets of the members of another place. In the circumstances, that is only to be expected.
The Parliament will never function as it should function until we change the basis of representation from territorial representation to vocational or occupational representation. Until that has been done, there will be no identity of interests. When we have a parliament, as I believe we ultimately shall, the members of which represent the people who really count in the scheme of things, it will he a parliament in which the various branches of essential production and essential services will have direct representation. Then we shall have members of the Parliament who have actually grown up in their jobs. Then we shall have an identity of interests and cooperation. But while we have a parliament based on territorial representation, there will be a conflict of interests. It is that conflict which is causing all the present trouble. Men and women who are actively and gainfully employed in essential production and essential services have a better knowledge of what should and could be done to improve production and services than people who represent persons on a territorial basis.
Thatbrings me to the question of committees. Any Minister should know that if he wants to get the best results for his department, it is necessary to have interdepartmental committees to discuss what should be done. I was privileged to be the Postmaster-General at one time. I never took it upon myself to make any decision of major importance until I had consulted the responsible officers of the department. If the question to be decided was how much money should be spent on a certain project, we asked representatives of the Treasury to confer with representatives of the department. We found thatwe got much better results in thatway than by making decisions of major importance without prior consultation with responsible officers of the departments. If the work of government is to be done as it should be done, it is necessary for the members of the Government to consult the officers who are responsible for carrying out suchwork.
From my point of view, the Public Service provides the machinery of government. If that machinery is to operate as it should, the representatives of the people in the Senate and the House of Representatives should be men and women who are directly responsible to the workers in industry. As I have said before in this chamber, the men andwomen employed in essential industry carry the whole of our society on their backs. When that fact is appreciated fully, a different state of affairs will obtain in both the Senate and the House of Representatives from that which obtains to-day. When we speak of committees, we must mean committees based upon identity of interest. Committees cannot function successfully, or in the interests of the people generally, unless there is identity of interest. We can gain from assisting one another, instead of working at cross purposes, as we are to-day.
In this Parliament, we have those who represent the very wealthy in the community and those who represent the notsowealthy. Consequently, we have an interminable conflict of interest. Ultimately, one or the other group must control the political field. I am sufficiently optimistic to believe that the basis of parliamentary representation will be changed from territorial to occupational or vocational representation, so that the people who do the real work in society will be represented here in Parliament. The present position, whereby wealthy people spend a lot of money for the purpose of obtaining a seat in the Parliament, will go by the board, and our representatives will have a utility value, as distinct from the nuisance value which some honorable senators opposite possess.
As long as the Parliament is constituted as it is to-day, it will never work in unity except, of course, in time of war. Danger faced in common is the strongest bond of unity between man and man. We found that to be so during World War II. When we all had something to gain, we did our best for the Avar effort, and there was more unity of action then than there has been since 1945. At. such a time, common needs become of paramount importance. If that fact were appreciated, the Parliamentwould be a very different body fromwhat it is to-day, not only in this country but also in other countries of the world. As I have said, I am not at all surprised that we have been working at cross purposes, not only this afternoon but ever since the Senate was established. We have had State jealousies and economic interests in conflict all the time, so that we have been unable to agree.
We could not possibly co-operatewith the Government in connexion with the Foreign Affairs Committee, because the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) wants to act in the capacity of a dictator. The Labour members of the committee would be obliged to ask the Minister what they could and could not do. Everything would be subject to his consent and convenience. No selfrespecting member of the Opposition would accept membership of the committee if he knew that he would be simply a subordinate of the Minister. The right honorable gentleman would have the same authority, in respect of the Foreign Affairs Committee, as has a general in the Army. His would be the first and the last word on any subject-
-Order ! I have been very patient with the honorable senator. He has been wandering about, and I think it is time that he returned to discussion of the proposed votes for the Parliament.
– I am obliged to you for your patience, Mr. Chairman. I invite your attention to the fact that an amount of £743,000 is to be allocated for the purposes of the Parliament for the current financial year. I do not take exception to the expenditure of that sum, but I point out, without wishing to commit a breach of the Standing Orders or to say anything that should not be said about the subject, that it might be possible, in future, to carry on the business of the Parliament in a better manner than it has been carried on in the past.While we have territorial, rather than occupational, representation
– Order ! We are not discussing the methods of election to Parliament, which have been decided by the people. We are discussing the pro posed votes for the Parliament, and if the honorable senator does not keep to that subject, he will have to resume his seat.
– I take it, Mr. Chairman, that you are as interested as I am to see that we get the best results from the methods by which the business of the Parliament is conducted. Judging by the criticisms that have been indulged in by honorable senators on both sides of the committee during this debate, I should say that we are thoroughly dissatisfied with the methods of conducting the business of the Senate, particularly when a Minister takes it upon himself to act in a dictatorial fashion. I sometimes think he must have been akeen student of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The Appropriation Bill contains particulars of the way in which many millions of pounds will be spent during the current year. Under existing conditions, such expenditure cannot be discussed as intelligently as it should be. For that reason, adverse criticism has been forthcoming from honorable senators on both sides of the committee. For instance, Senator Wright said that responsible officers of the Public Service should be present to confer with honorable senators on the floor of the House. In my opinion, that would be an improvement on thepresent practice, but it would not go far enough. I believe that a member of the Public Service should have the right to express his opinion about what should or should not be done, on the floor of the House, just as I have.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– When I spoke on this matter this afternoon, certain aspects of the proposed votes for the Parliament, which I think are very important, escaped my notice. When we refer to the fact that £743,000 is to be made available for the purposes of the Parliament during the current financial year, no doubt many people in the community think that that sum will be expended purely and simply in connexion with the conduct of the Senate and the House of Representatives. I point out that there are many other activities associated with the Parliament which contribute to the proper functioning of both Houses. I refer, first, to the work of the parliamentary reporting staff. I think that the thanks of all honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives are due to the members of that staff, perhaps not so much because of the accuracy of their reporting as for their charity, and also because they make so many of our speeches quite readable in Hansard. I regret that the debates in the Senate and the House of Representatives are published in separate volumes of Hansard. and I regret still further the delay between the time when speeches are made in the Parliament and the time when we receive copies of them, or when Hansard is distributed. By the time we receive copies of our speeches, the topicality of matters discussed in them has waned considerably. For that reason, we do not obtain as much benefit from sending copies of our speeches to interested persons as we would obtain if there were greater despatch in printing them. 1 appreciate that there are many difficulties associated with the printing of parliamentary papers, such as shortage of staff and accommodation in Canberra, and even a shortage of physical facilities at the Government Printing Office. I hope that the parliamentary committee which has been appointed by the House of Representatives to consider mattersconnected with Hansard will deal fully with the various difficulties with which the Government Printer and his staff , are faced. At the same time, I wish to express my personal thanks, not only to the Hansard writers who work in this chamber, but also to the typists and others who work long and strenuous hours when the House is in session, in order that the needs of the Parliament may be served.
These remarks apply also to the officer’, of the Joint House Department. I know that we shall have more time to deal with matters which affect that department, when we are considering individual items of the Estimates, but here again, I think that the thanks of all honorable senators are due to the members of the Joint House Department. We are grateful to those who keep Parliament House iti such excellent order and ensure that our living conditions within it are congenial. From the humblest employee to the highest, none of them stints himself in his service to us. I- know that they receive salaries for the work they do, but there are many services, which they perform cheerfully on our behalf, which cannot be compensated by monetary reward. In my opinion, the Estimates in relation to those departments of the Parliament are no greater than they should be.
I come now to the Library, which I think is the soul of the Parliament, if a parliament can have a soul. The Library is a part of the parliamentary structure to which we all owe a great deal. I hope that the additions that are being made to the National Library will mean that more room will be available to the members of the Parliament in the Parliamentary Library. I regret that the proposed vote in respect of the Library is not larger, so that the supplies of books, periodicals and other literature might be increased. The thanks of all honorable senators is due to the library staff, who work long hours and are ever ready to obtain books for us and perform many other useful services on our behalf.
In common with other members of this chamber, I was astounded earlier this evening to hear an honorable senator say that he had nothing to do. I cannot understand that, because an honorable senator, apart from the duties that he performs in this chamber, should set for himself a standard of service to the community that cannot be measured in terms of hours. There is plenty of work for us to do, particularly in our respective States. When I am in my home State of Western Australia, my duties cannot be performed within ordinary office hours. I think most honorable senators will agree with me that a member of this chamber, when in his home State, is at the beck and call of the electorate. It is necessary for us to attend functions and perform many public duties. Indeed, I think that we have a much easier time in Canberra than in our respective States. That is, perhaps, another reason why I have been disappointed that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) has restricted the time for debate. I should not like it to be thought that I am speaking in a derogatory manner of the Senate when I say that I deplore the fact that honorable senators are not given sufficient time to debate fully many important public matters.
– I refer to the proposed vote for the item “ Standing and Select Committees - Expenses “. I shall not devote very much time to a consideration of whether or not the Senate should be abolished. because we must realize that it would be necessary for the people of every State to vote in favour of abolition. There is no need for us to attempt that hurdle at present. If I were to embark on a comparison of the working of the uni-cameral and bi-cameral systems of government - by citing the experiences of New Zealand and other countries - 1 should probably be ruled out of order before I had gone very far. Without going into the pros and cons of the matter, I believe that a majority of the members of this chamber would welcome an opportunity to devote more of their time to the service of the Senate. Speaking generally, I do not think there can be a shadow of doubt that parliamentary committees perform useful work. 1 realize that the Government was disappointed when, having invited the Opposition to nominate several of its number to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Opposition refused to do so. However, I am sure that Government senators appreciate that there are two sides to every story. Our parliamentary committees of long standing have performed very valuable work, and I am sure that equally valuable work would be performed by any additional parliamentary committees which might be appointed.
It is regrettable that a standing committee of this Parliament has not been appointed to deal with the important matter of social services. I believe that, due to certain pressures that have been brought to bear over the years, our social services structure has become divorced from reality as compared to the social services systems of other countries. At times, there has been a tendency for the Government to believe that, having thrown a few shillings to somebody, that is the end of its responsibility. This chamber is unique, in that four of its members are females, each of whom has performed many years of social work. As members of a parliamentary social services committee, they would be invaluable.
I was very startled to hear Senator Kendall state, during the last sessional period of the Parliament, that senior officers of the Department of Navigation ‘ who had seen service at sea had been replaced by others who had not served at sea. As an ex-member of the Public Service, ‘ I know that the system of appointment to the Public Service is not altogether satisfactory. In many instances, a department appoints persons to certain positions after only a cursory check of their qualifications by the. Public Service Board. There has frequently, been a passing of the buck between departments and the . board in relation to appointments. I have always considered that Ministers should arrange for automatic checks to be applied in the departments, in order to ensure that only appli- cants with appropriate qualifications are appointed. In a democracy ‘ such as ours, there is no telling where an appointee to the bottom rung of the public service ladder will ultimately serve. An all-party parliamentary committee could perform a very useful function in this connexion. One could envisage numerous fields of activity for parliamentary committees, but it is futile for honorable senators to address themselves at length to this subject in the absence of an indication by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) that the Government welcomes suggestions and wants honorable senators to submit concrete proposals.
– Both Senator Kendall and Senator Willesee will be pleased to hear that the Directors of Navigation in all States are naval men. Protests have been made by certain engineers and clerks in the lighthouse and navigation services that they are not receiving as much consideration as are men who have had service at sea. I point out that a very great responsibility devolves on the heads of departments in relation to promotion in the Public Service. Officers who are aggrieved by the promotion of another officer may exercise a right of appeal. Senator Brown suggested that the Public Works Committee should bring to the notice of the Senate any instance in which, as a result of its investigations, a considerable saving of expenditure has been effected. I consider that both .the Public Works Committee and. the Public Accounts Committee have performed very useful work. Senator Fraser suggested that more legislation should be originated by this chamber. I think it can be fairly said that we have originated many bills that should properly be initiated by the Senate. Recently. th«?
Repatriation Bill, the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill and the Australian Antarctic Territory Bill wert originated in this chamber. We shall continue to initiate in the Senate as much legislation as possible.
Senator Brown referred to the separation of the Hansard reports. I am able to inform him that, as a result of a decision by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the proceedings of that House are now recorded separately from the reports of the Senate. I believe that an additional expenditure of about £5,000 a year was incurred by the separation of the reports. Another member of the Opposition asked why the expenditure on the printing of Hansard in the last financial year was far below the amount voted for that purpose. One reason was that, due to the Royal Visit to this country and the general election, there were fewer sittings of the Parliament than usual. I think it will be generally appreciated that the accountants of the various departments exercise considerable care, and devote a tremendous amount of time to the preparation of the Estimates. The Estimates are then scrutinized” by Treasury officers. Usually, the budget gets very close to the mark. It is exceedingly well prepared, and it is evident that those responsible for its preparation have a good grip of their jobs. If an estimate is high, the additional money is not necessarily expended.
Senator Marriott suggested the appointment of a Senate committee to consider the method of conducting the debates of this chamber. Ministers are always pleased to receive suggestions on how our proceedings should be conducted. Throughout to-day, I have been most patient, although I have been misrepresented on several occasions. I am sure that many members of the public who have listened to the broadcast of to-day’s proceedings consider that, by allowing repetition, I have been too lenient. However, I hope that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will assist the Government to expedite the proceedings. If we devote to each proposed vote as much time as we have devoted to-day to the proposed vote for the Parliament, we shall he here until Christmas.
Senator McCallum referred to the Librarian, and the matter that he raised will receive consideration. Senator Wright suggested that departmental officers should be called to the bar of the Senate to give evidence on particular matters associated with the budget. I shall ask the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to consider his suggestion. If honorable senators would let Ministers know in advance that they wanted information on particular subjects, I am sure that that information could be obtained for them. It will be appreciated that fifteen Ministers are located in another place. Having regard to the ramifications of the Public Service, it would be physically impossible for any one Minister to be au fait with all of the details of the various departments.
It has been suggested that the Senate has not been doing what it was intended to do. Labour senators have stated that a plank of the platform of the Labour party provides that the Senate should be abolished. I often wonder what the electors thought when, instead of abolishing the Senate, a Labour government doubled the number of senators. The Labour Government made the number of senators as large as possible so that the parties which support the present Government would not be able to obtain a majority. When this Government first came to office, the Labour party had a majority in the Senate and was delaying the business of the Government. The exGovernorGeneral decided that that matter should be placed before the people. The people displayed very good judgment and returned the Labour party to the Senate with a minority that it has had ever since. Since then the Government has been able to get on with its business and do much more useful work. The fact that the States have equal representation, npt so much in the Parliament as in the .party rooms, has a considerable influence on the policy that is adopted by the Government. If the Government makes a move that would be detrimental to the apple industry it meets with strong opposition in the party rooms. We know how important shipping is to Tasmania andthe influence of Tasmanian senators is very considerable in that regard. It is a waste of time to discuss the abolition of the Senate in view of the fact that, in order to accomplish that objective, it would be necessary for a majority of the States and a majority of the people to favour it. The basic principle of the Senate is that the outlying States shall not be done any injustice by the larger States. In the last twenty years, the Senate has not been as useful as it might have been. Rigid party control, particularly in the Labour party, has made it very difficult for the Senate to function as it was intended to function. The late Mr. Blackburn was pushed out of the Labour party because he would not obey its caucus decisions.
– Order! I have not permitted the Opposition to deal with the subject of party caucus meetings.
– I shall not pursue that line of argument any further but I hope that it will sink in. The officers of the departments are present in this building in order to assist the Senate. I hope that honorable senators will make their requests in as few words as possible. The Government does not wish to curtail the debate, but it does wish to have the Estimates passed so that these responsible officers may return to their jobs. After this bill has passed through this chamber they will still have a lot of work to do.
– Is the Minister in sympathy with the standing committee system ?
– I am completely in favour of it. I think that the most useful work of the Parliament can be done by the standing committees.
– I thank the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) for his answer to my question concerning Hansard but I do not think that he went fully into the matter. I recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Mr. Archie Cameron) has full and complete control over the House of Representatives. But it has been traditional, in matters which affect both Houses, that the President of the Senate should be consulted. I should like to know whether or not the Speaker, the arch-individualist, consulted the President on this matter. It should be understood by the general public that the affairs of the two Houses of Parliament are controlled jointly by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. When matters have been agreed to by” the Joint House Committee and the Speaker and the President they cannot be altered unless the two controlling officers agree to alter them. I had much experience of parliamentary procedure whilst working in the closest and happiest association with one or two Speakers in late years, and nothing which would represent a departure from usual procedure could be done by the Speaker or myself without agreement. Hansard has been published in one volume for many years. Suddenly, we find the report of the proceedings of the Senate separated from the report of the proceedings of the House of Representatives, a change which is costing £5,000 a year. That money is being wasted. I want to know whether or not the President of the Senate was consulted before Hansard was published in two volumes. Or were we treated, as we have often been treated, cavalierly ?
– I understand that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has full power to make a decision on this matter without consulting the President of the Senate.
– Did the Speaker, in fact, consult with the President?
– As far as I know, he did not. I am informed that the Speaker has complete power to make such a decision himself. In fairness to the Speaker, I want to say that he is a good South Australian and the best Speaker that has sat in the Parliament in the 20 years that I have been here.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vole, £2,164,000.
– I wish to speak on Division 10 - Audit Office. I invite the attention of the Senate to the annual report of the Auditor-General, an officer of the Commonwealth who occupies a unique position. His salary, the term of his employment and the date of his retirement, are fixed by a special act of Parliament, and it is very wise that this procedure should have been adopted. It makes this gentleman completely independent of the Cabinet and it makes him a servant of this Parliament. “We should pay particular attention to the remarks that he has made in his report. I invite the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) to paragraph 127 of the report of the Auditor-General in which he states that he has on several occasions in the past recommended a complete and comprehensive review of the Audit Act. He invites the attention of Parliament to the fact that no progress has been made in connexion with this matter. I ask the Minister to take action before very long with regard to the important amendments to the Audit Act that have been suggested by the Auditor-General.
In paragraph 32S of the report, the Auditor-General refers to certain frustrations that he has experienced in auditing the accounts of the Taxation Department. I do not wish to place any blame on the officers of the Taxation Department, but I think that the Government should submit to the Parliament some explanation which would clear up the difficulties that are mentioned in paragraph 128 of the Auditor-General’s report. In referring to the present Audit Act, the Auditor-General has stated -
The Audit Act does not proscribe, nor is it desirable, that the Auditor-General should impose a complete check on all the financial transactions of a department. Exercising the discretion vested in him by the Audit Act, he endeavours to establish that the internal check is satisfactory from an audit point of view. This internal check, sn far us the Taxation Branch , is concerned, is intended to protect alike the taxpayer and the revenue. In that branch, however, the Auditor-General is so hampered by the lack of authority under the provisions of the Audit Act that he is unable to obtain unrestricted access to the documents on which assessments are based and to ascertain and consider the methods by which the Commissioner establishes the accuracy and effectiveness of his assessment and collection procedures.
That section of the report involves the very important subject of the secrecy of taxpayers’ papers which are in the custody of the Taxation Department. It raises the question of whether we should allow the Auditor-General the right to make sure that the Commissioner of Taxation is correctly assessing tax liability. I submit to the Minister for Shipping and Transport that it is necessary to fix a method by which the Auditor-General may effectively check what is going on within the Taxation Department without in any way impairing the secrecy which is so essential. Of course, we must trust the Auditor-General and his staff and I consider that the position should be clarified. The AuditorGeneral continues -
Furthermore, owing to this lack of authority in regard to the audit of revenue, an attitude is erroneously developing in the Taxation Branch that the Auditor-General is similarly restricted in the audit of expenditure. So that the responsibilities of the Auditor-General in regard to the audit of taxation accounts generally may not be misconstrued, amendment of the Audit Act to provide him with authority is, in my opinion, essential for the effective audit of taxation revenue.
I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to give particular attention to this very important statement by the Auditor-General. Indications are that the very important matter of making sure that the correct taxation amounting to £800,000,000 is collected does not come under the check audit of the AuditorGeneral. That is a huge sum of money. We ask the Auditor-General and his officers to check on small items amounting to a few shillings or pounds, but the’ sum of £800,000,000 is involved in this matter. It is not beyond the competence, wit and ingenuity of the law officers of the Crown to make the necessary amendments to the Audit Act to ensure that the Commissioner of Taxation knows just where he stands in the matter. The AuditorGeneral should know also where he stands so that this important check on revenue and the incidence of taxation, and the way that assessments are made can be achieved to the benefit of the nation.
– I do not know whether this is the appropriate time to ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) questions about several matters that appear in the Auditor-General’s report. They do not apply to the Prime Minister’s Department but to the Department of the Treasury.
– I suggest that the honorable senator raise the matters now, and I shall refer them to the Treasury, so that I shall have the information available when the appropriate estimates are under discussion.
– I refer to page 25 of the Auditor-General’s report and to the item on that page under the heading of “Department of the Treasury” dealing with the charges for the International Monetary Fund. There is provision for £191,355 in 1953-54 but no provision was made in 1952-53. I should like information upon the type of charges that accrue against Australia through the International Monetary Fund. My second question is related to a statement that appears on page 27 of the AuditorGeneral’s report dealing with sales tax on aircraft. The Auditor-General stated in his report -
Recent inquiries revealed that sales tax of approximately £393,750 had not been paid by an airline company on aircraft imported since February, 1940. An investigation by taxation officers disclosed that, in addition to £143,750 payable on two aircraft imported at the end of 1953, for which extension of time to pay had been granted, the company concerned had not paid sales tax of approximately £250,000 on fifteen other aircraft imported in earlier years.
The company secured entry of the aircraft into Australia by quoting the number of his certificate of registration under the Sales Tax Assessment Act, but failed to declare when the aircraft were placed in commission and to pay the sales tax involved. The total amount of such tax was still owing to the Commonwealth on 30th June, 1954 but does net appear in the statement of outstanding taxes hereunder because it had not been assessed by the Commissioner of Taxation at that date.”
It is noted that, in the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill submitted to the
Parliament on 18th August, 1954, provision ismade that sales tax be not payable upon, aeroplanes retrospectively to 1st January, l!)4(i.
In other words, the airline company, which is not named in the report of the Auditor-General, has been importing aircraft since 1946, quoting its sales tax number, but not informing the Taxation Branch when the aircraft were put into operation. Since 1946 the company has refused to pay sales tax. I know that there are two sides to these matters, and I asked a question in this chamber. I requested the name of the aircraft company concerned.
– It was not TransAustralia Airlines.
– I believe, as Senator Tangney has said, that it was not Trans- Australia Airlines. I have received the following reply to the question that I asked in this chamber: -
As the honorable senator is no doubt aware, the secrecy provisions of the Taxation Acts Bill debar the publication of information concerning the taxation affairs of particular taxpayers. In those circumstances, I am not in a position to state the name of the taxpayer concerned.
That reply came from the Minister acting for the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) but every year the Taxation Branch publishes a list of defaulting taxpayers. Those are the persons about whom information is disclosed to the public. They are taxpayers who have defaulted and against whom some action has been taken or to whom warnings have been given. The names are published, and they are public property. The company to which I have referred appears to be in exactly the same position as those taxpayers. The airline company has refused to pay sales tax that has been owing by it over a period of years, and because of the kindly action of a friendly government, the liability, dating back to 1946, has been eliminated by making the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act retrospective. I do not know any reason why the name of the company cannot be published. Surely when sales tax legislation is introduced in this Chamber, the responsible Minister will not dare to omit the name from his second-reading speech? I should like :to know the history of the airline company’s failure to pay sales tax on aircraft, and I should like to know the name of the company involved.
– I should like to have some information in connexion with the prosecution of various officers of the Public Service who- have misappropriated sums of money, stolen money or taken it away. In the hig majority of cases, according to the Auditor-General’s report, there has been no prosecution. Sometimes the -officer has been dismissed, and sometimes he has been reprimanded. Why can the offending persons get away with £S00 or £900 and merely suffer dismissal from the service or be prohibited from further employment in the Public Service? I know what would happen to me if I stole £900.
My second question is related to the National Library. I notice that in Division 13 - National Library, provision is made for the removal of archives. Last year £6,000 was voted and this year provision has been, made for £3,500, but last year only £1,078 was spent. There ii a marked difference in the allocations, and they go up and down. Has that any connexion with the fact that it .has been necessary to shift all archives from the vario’us unsafe places where they were stored in Canberra while we are waiting for the new Roosevelt Library, or has it any connexion with the setting up of the nissen huts to take the place of the National Library building? Has the Minister any information as to when the erection of a complete National Library can be expected? At a joint meeting of the Library Committee and the Public Works Committee, it was agreed eighteen months ago that we should have the library, but nothing has been done. In the meantime, costly collections are lying about in Canberra in the process of removal to the nissen huts. Has the Minister any information as to when a start with the new library is likely ? Even if only £120,000 is voted as a first instalment, we shall have started something that will be of great value to Australia.
– I wish to devote, my atention to Division 10 - Audit Office. The sum to be voted this year for salaries and allowances is £401,000. At page 69 of the AuditorGeneral’s report, paragraph 112, this statement appears under the heading, “ Theft of Public Money, Tokyo “-
In July, 1953, an inspection by my officers disclosed a cash deficiency of £63,549 at the Australian Depot Cash Office, Tokyo.
The Paymaster was subsequently tried by Court Martial, found guilty, sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment and cashiered. At the date of this Report, no portion of the deficiency had been recovered.
The Paymaster commenced his peculations late in 1950 and covered his actions by not bringing to account advances and bank withdrawals in a cashbook at the time when his accounts and cash were being checked. This was facilitated by lack of surprise in the methods adopted by army checking officers.
The system of internal control included a weekly check at Kure of the advances to and transactions of the Tokyo Cash Office, and provided for periodical check of cash in hand and at bank at Tokyo. ‘Adequate techniques were not used by the army checking staff in making these checks and the significance of the outstanding advances was not appreciated until the theft was disclosed- by the Audit Office.
The quality and effectiveness of remedial measures taken by the department are now being examined.
An examination of the paragraph reveals that the paymaster involved in the defalcations commenced his peculations late in 1950. In July, 1953, the Audit Office found out what he was doing. The evidence is clear that in a period of two and a half years, certain sums were being stolen from the Australian Government. I should like to know how often the accounts of the Commonwealth are subjected to an audit inspection? In this case, at least two financial years passed between the time that the paymaster began his peculations and the time that the audit inspector discovered what was happening. I believe that it is a common practice with all governments to have at least an annual audit inspection. The sum involved in this case was not small. It amounted to £63,549 and that, expressed in terms of houses, would mean 25 homes for- homeless people in Australia. It appears to me that at least there was some neglect on the part of the Audit Office in not carrying out an annual inspection between 1950 and 1953. Had that been done, I have no doubt that the defalcations would have been detected.
– I suggest to Senator Benn that he should bring that matter up when we are on the Army Estimates. I understand that the money was missing while the Army was engaged in operations in Japan. In the meantime, I shall see whether I can get a considered statement on the matter.
– I was dealing with the matter from the audit aspect. I was trying to find out why an inspection was not made.
– I shall obtain a reply before we reach the Army’ Estimates. On the point raised by Senator Kendall, if he looks at page SS of the Auditor-General’s report, he will find that at least 99 per cent, of officials who have committed theft .have been charged and dismissed from the service. I shall bring the matter raised by Senator Laught to the notice of the Minister acting for the Treasurer. In connexion with the first part of his question, I have been advised that a considerable amount of work has already been done in the preparation of amendments of the Audit Act. It is expected that the stage will soon be reached when it will be possible to discuss the proposed amendments with the Auditor-General and the Parliamentary Draftsman. There is no money on the Estimates for the work mentioned by Senator Kendall.
Senator ARNOLD (New South Wales) [10.17J. - Estimated expenditure on salaries and allowances for the National Library this .year is £64,000 compared with an actual expenditure of £41,521 last year. Some time ago, a request was made for more assistance in the Library for research work and to assist members of Parliament to obtain information that they want. I should like to know whether additional provision for salaries is to cover this service. If not, what is the reason for the increase - of about £23,000 in library salaries
– I notice that the sum of £750 is provided this year for “ research projects “ by the Office of Education. I should like to know whether any research has been done into the teaching of subnormal children. I realize that this is a matter which extends beyond the province of the Office of Education, and perhaps later in our discussion of the Estimates, I shall state a case for federal aid in regard to the general care and treatment of sub-normal children. Nevertheless, I believe that consideration should be given by the Office of Education to research into the education of sub-normal children. It is difficult to assess the number of such children in the Commonwealth because there is no yardstick by which such an assessment can be made, but generally speaking it is accepted that any child with an intelligence quotient of less than 50 is sub-normal. Any one who has any knowledge of the problems that confront parents of sub-normal children must feel inclined to say, “ There, but for the grace of God, go I “ because anybody can have a sub-normal child and no one will deny that these children are very lovable. We have a responsibility at the national level to do everything possible to assist in their education. Parents of sub-normal children have formed themselves into groups in an endeavour to do everything possible for these unfortunate kiddies. There is an organization in each State, and there is now a federal body so, it is a Commonwealth matter. It can also be regarded as a Commonwealth matter because health is a national problem. 1 believe, therefore, that some provision should be made for research by the Office of Education into this most difficult educational problem. The various State organizations include the Victorian Council for Mentally Retarded Children, the Retarded Children’s Education Association of South Australia, the Slow Learning Children’s Group of Western Australia, the Queensland Sub-normal Children’s Welfare Association, the Subnormal and Incapacitated Children’s Welfare Association of the Australian Capital Territory, the Talaire Children’s Centre in Hobart, and the Sub-normal Children’s Welfare Association of New South
Wales, of which. I am proud to be a director. The New South Wales body is endeavouring, with practically no financial aid from Federal or State sources, to do something for the sub-normal children of that State. It is suggested that there may be 10,000 sub-normal children in the Commonwealth, but the number might quite easily be 20,000 or 5,000. We believe that in the field of education something can be done. In England, great strides are being made. It is believed in that country that much can be done for sub-normal children by teaching them rural pursuits and repetitive work. In Australia, most of the work has been done spontaneously by the parents. The number of teachers available is small. We are only cutting the surface of the problem of teaching these children and making them happy in the community. They will always be babies mentally and their expectation of life is relatively short. I believe, therefore, that something should be done at the Commonwealth level by providing financial assistance so that research may be made into the best method of educating and caring for these problem children. I know I have the support of every member of this chamber when I say that, if by sending teachers overseas to see what is being done in other parts of the world, beneficial results can be obtained, then that should be done.
– Could assistance not be given better through our health services ?
– Other assistance can be given in that way. I am not giving the whole picture to-night. Undoubtedly something can be done through our health services, and something can be done by straight out grants to various organizations. Nevertheless I still think that the Office of Education could assist indirectly perhaps by enabling teachers to study the best methods of caring for sub-normal children. This is a specialized field. In New South Wales, some teachers have been seconded from the Department of Education, and others have offered their services voluntarily. But, as I have said, we arc only scratching the surface of the problem. If the research projects for which money is voted to the Office of Education were to include research into the problem of educating sub-normal children, the results might be very beneficial. Teachers could be sent overseas to study methods adopted in other countries. Upon their return to Australia they would spread their knowledge throughout the Commonwealth. Perhaps not much can be done in this direction, but if anything can be done, then by all means let us do it. It is our responsibility.
– I rise not to criticize but to pay a meed of praise to the Librarian. Mr. White, and his staff for the wonderful work they are doing. It is work that is little known throughout Australia. I have always believed that behind the scenes work in the Parliament should be publicized. The people of totalitarian countries are not backward in telling the world of the wonders of the Communist state. In our democracy, wonderful work is being done but is not publicized. The people of Australia read in the press reports of hot words passing between parliamentarians, but rarely do our newspapers or magazines give any information about the work that goes on behind the scenes in the Parliament. For instance, Division 13, under which provision is made for the National Library, includes the following items : -
The reading of those items will give some idea of the wide range of the activities of the Library. Many visitors are inclined to believe that the work of the Library is confined to its activities in the portion of this building that it occupies. They think it is very nice for a member of Parliament to be able to go into the Library and choose a book. But they have not the slightest idea of the ramifications of the library or of the work of Mr. White and his assistants. You, Mr. Temporary Chairman, are veryinterested in the Library, and I was delighted to hear your most illuminating speech about it last week. I am wondering whether it would be possible for Mr. White, or one of his assistants, to prepare a statement of the work of the Library. I think it is well that the Australian people should know these things, but, as I say, they know very little about them. When I was President of the Senate, some .journalists came to see me. I think they represented the Pix magazine. They wanted to publish an article and some photographs on the activities of the Parliament. They said the article would take up a half of the magazine. I gave my consent to their proposal, but unfortunately I was not here when they arrived to take photographs. They got into the billiard-room, but a couple of members became very angry when they started to take photographs and threatened to smash the cameras if they persisted. That was the end of that proposal. I think it was a good idea, because it would have helped to inform the people of Australia about what happens in the Parliament, apart from the discussions that take place. I should like to see something done in that direction.
I want to comment on Senator Arnold’s remarks about the additional cost of the Library. I support the proposed vote, and I should like to see it increased, because I believe that any money spent on the Library is money well spent. Senator Arnold asked a question about investigations by library officers for the assistance of members of the Parliament. We want to be able to deliver good speeches, with meat in them. We want to raise the standard of debate in the Parliament. Therefore, it is a good thing that money should be spent on work of this kind, so that when a member rises to make a speech he can have at his disposal facts and figures to support his argument, obtained by officials of the
Library. I believe that many thousands of dollars are spent on work of this kind in the American Congress. Many people are employed on research work and investigations for American senators and members of the House of Representatives, who use the material so obtained in their speeches. Some work in that field is being done here at present, but it could be extended. When Senator McLeay replies to Senator Arnold, I hope he will say that some of the additional money we are being asked to vote for the Library will be spent on this work.
.- I refer to Division 10 - Audit Office. There is a statement in the Auditor-General’s report to the effect that the Commonwealth owns shares in the Commonwealth Engineering Company Limited. I should be pleased if the Minister would tell us some of the reasons why the Commonwealth has continued to be a shareholder in that company. Over two years ago, it entered into a contract with the Hartnett company to manufacture bodies for motor cars but, as usual, it did not live up to the contract. Since then, the Hartnett company has been trying to get the case settled by arbitration, but it has not been settled yet. Whether the failure of the Commonwealth Engineering Company Limited to fulfil the contract will bankrupt- the Hartnett company, I do not know. The record of the company is such that the Commonwealth cannot claim any credit for being a shareholder in it. It pestered the Hartnett company for a contract and then, having got it, did not fulfil it. The company entered into contracts years ago with the New South Wales Railways Department, but did not fulfil it until some years afterwards. It may be that the Commonwealth bought shares in the company during the war to encourage the production of steel, but that reason no longer applies, and I should like to know why the Commonwealth has continued to hold its shares. Recently the company signed a contract with the Western Australian Railways Department for the supply of railway wagons. It sub-let a part of the contract, and the sub-contractor made a profit of about £60,000 for each company. I think the Commonwealth would be well advised to reconsider its position as a partner in this concern. The shares were not bought while this Government was in office, but I think it is time for us to review the position.
There is another matter to which I want to refer in connexion with the Audit Office. I do not want my remarks to be regarded as a reflection on the. AuditorGeneral, who is a very capable officer, and a man whom I hold in the very highest regard. Item 4 in Division 10 is a payment of £3,500 to the Auditor-General on retirement, in lieu of furlough. There are similar items in other places in the Estimates. I think that senior officers should be made to take their holidays when they come round, because by so doing they would give an opportunity to junior officers to take their places temporarily and qualify for higher positions. The junior members of the staff of departments have to take their holidays when they fall due. They do not get cash payments in lieu of holidays. I can see no reason why that rule should not apply also to the senior officers. It is discouraging to a junior officer when the head of his department does not take any holidays. The junior does not get a chance to show his ability in a higher position. I should like to see some encouragement given to junior officers to qualify themselves for higher positions. In order to do that, the senior officers should take their holidays as they come round. That is a policy that I have always favoured.
I notice that although we voted £9,000 last year for office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing for the Public Service Board, the board spent £9,200. This year, the proposed vote is £16,000. This is an old established office. What is the reason for practically doubling the vote for office requisites, stationery and printing?
– I refer to the proposed vote for the Office of Education. We all know that, although education is primarily the responsibility of the States, the Commonwealth has entered into the field to some degree. Apparently its activities are concerned only with the education of immigrants and with certain aspects of university education, through grants to universities. I should say that that work affects only about 0.3 per cent. of the school population of Australia. Therefore, there is scope for a great deal more work in this field by the Commonwealth.
I am interested to note that expenditure on research projects by the Office of Education will account for only £750 of the vote of £148,500. I maintain that any authority concerned with education which does such a small proportion of research work is severely handicapped. I should like to see projects such as that mentioned by Senator Anderson undertaken by the Office of Education. I do not think there is anything more worthy of commendation than work for physically and mentally handicapped children. That has been the responsibility of parents for too long. Generally, the parents of such children have other responsibilities, and they find it is very difficult to discharge their responsibilities to a sub-normal child as fully as they would like to do. It is a reflection on us that street collections and other forms of charity have to be resorted to in order to maintain schools for, and finance research work on behalf of, mentally and physically handicapped children. I should like to know what research work could be done on an allowance of £750 a year. I think all honorable senators will agree with me that any educational research project carried out by the Commonwealth Office of Education which cost only £750 would be research on the cheap.
I support the plea that was made by Senator Anderson for something to be done to help mentally and physically handicapped children. In Western Australia, a great deal of work in this field is being done by the Spastic Association, and by associations of parents who have given very generously of their time and money to establish centres for the education of spastic children. Too often in the past have these children been relegated to asylums or similar institutions. I have worked among children of this type for many years, and I know a littleabout the subject. I know that in the past some parents of a child that suffered from any abnormality or subnormality adopted the attitude that it was necessary to put the child away somewhere and hide it, because it was a bit of a disgrace to the family. It was not regarded as quite nice to have a subnormal child in the family circle. Therefore, the child was put away, and nothing much was done for it. That attitude of mind, thank goodness, has disappeared at last, and we have developed, a public conscience in this matter. I should be very pleased if the Commonwealth entered into this field of work and helped the voluntary workers in all States in the magnificent job that they are doing. The work of helping these unfortunate children brings out the very best in people.
I should like the Commonwealth to recognize the work that these voluntary organizations are doing and assist them, either through the Office of Education, to which the task rightly belongs, or, as has been suggested, through the Department of Health. It is eleven years ago since I first raised this matter in the Senate. I produced a report on it for the Parliament in 1944, but very little lias been done so far. As the Commonwealth has established an Office of Education, I should like it to embark on projects that are really worthwhile. Any work done to help physically and mentally handicapped children would pay handsome dividends. Last year, we voted £1,100 for research work by the Office of Education, of which only £726 was spent. That is in the nature of an indictment of the Office of Education. This year, the proposed vote for research is only £750. That is a backward step. Fewer immigrants are coming to Australia now. The education of immigrants was one of the chief functions of the Office of Education. As that work is decreasing, some of the money previously spent on it could well be used to finance research work in other fields. Research work to assist mentally and physically handicapped children is long overdue, and it would pay big dividends.
– I want to refer to a subject that is near to my heart. I refer to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Fund. Honorable senators will remember that recently the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced that the Commonwealth had made a substantial donation to the fund. From memory, the Prime Minister announced that the sum of £25,000 would be made available, together with further donations on the basis of £1 for every £2 subscribed by the public.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! With what item does the honorable senator propose to link this matter?
– With the proposed vote of the Prime Minister’s Department. It is not referred to specifically. Honorable senators will remember that this fund was established earlier this year by public-spirited gentlemen, and the general public generously subscribed to it, but it had not attained its objective of £100,000 when the Prime Minister decided that the Government would make good the balance.
– That was approved after the budget papers were printed, and for that reason no reference to it appears in this bill.
– I am aware of that. The Prime Minister’s Department is making the money available and I think that I am entitled to refer to this matter while the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department is being discussed. This is the first occasion in the history of federation that a national theatre movement has been established in Australia,’ and great credit is due to those concerned. Our thanks are also due to the Prime Minister for his generous support of the fund.
Many attempts have been made to establish a national theatre movement, in Australia, and all have failed. We have had movements which have called themselves national theatre movements, but which were nothing of the kind. Some people imagine that a national theatre movement is the erection of a large theatre in a town such as Canberra or a city such as Sydney. This trust has no such ambitions. It has been established for the purpose of cultivating a national good taste in theatre, bringing theatre to the general public, educating Australian artists, and bringing out good English talent to the Australian theatre, I sincerely hope that the erection of buildings will never be contemplated by the movement and that it will retain its worthy objective of the cultivation of a true national theatre in Australia.
I am very conscious of the importance of a true national theatre movement. I am somewhat afraid, however, that this movement may develop into a series of theatrical productions in the capital cities. As public money has been placed in the trust, I suggest that we have a certain responsibility to ensure that all of the people of Australia, not only those of the capital cities, will have an opportunity to participate in the benefits that will flow from this movement. I ask the Minister in charge of this vote to say that the national theatre movement, which has been so worthily established, will be extended not only to the capital cities of Australia but also to all provincial towns and rural areas. After all, I have found in my little experience of such matters. that the country people are just as conscious of the importance of good theatre as are the city dwellers. They are all entitled to the benefits of a real national theatre movement.
.-I refer to Division 11- Public Service Board, the proposed vote for which is £43S,700. On the last occasion when this matter was discussed, the responsible Minister gave me certain information regarding a number of industrial claims that had been lodged by various unions, the settlement of which had been inordinately delayed. In some cases, a period of fifteen months had elapsed between the time of lodgment and the time when I inquired about them. The Minister assured me that there were many reasons for the delay, such as the intricacies of arbitration. Since then, petitions from public servants, respectfully praying that the Government do something to relieve their conditions, have been presented to the Senate and. the House of Representatives. I should like the Minister for Shipping and Trans port (Senator McLeay) to inform the Senate of the present position in respect of those claims. He might also let me know the names of the unions concerned, the dates on which the claims were lodged, the number that is at present unheard or not completed, and, if possible, the reason why delay has occurred. In my opinion, prompt consideration of just claims in respect of increased remuneration, reclassification or improvement of conditions is important. When wages were falling, claims by employers were dealt with promptly. I think that the claims to which I have referred should be dealt with just as promptly.
Senator Seward referred to the fact, that the proposed vote in respect of office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing, for the Public Service Board, is £7,000 more this year than it was last year. Perhaps there is some connexion between that item and item 5, “ incidental and other expenditure “, the proposed vote for which is £7,000, and on which £13,500 was expended last year. The Senate will note that £6,500 more was expended last year that was voted in respect of this item.
I also wish to refer to the assistance that is given by the Commonwealth to university students under the Commonwealth scholarships scheme, which has proved of great value. I appeal to the Government to liberalize the means test in respect of such scholarships because, in my opinion, the present economic conditions mean that adequate adjustment of the value of such scholarships has not been made. Those who seek assistance now receive less in real value now than when the scheme was instituted. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to say whether this matter will be considered by the Government.
– The additional expenditure of £6,500 in respect of incidental and other expenditure by the Public Service Board was due to the fact that a special training scheme was established with a view to overcoming the shortage of skilled typists in the Service. That expenditure will be recouped by other’ departments from time to time. The matter to which Senator Arnold referred - the proposed expenditure of £18,000 in connexion with temporary and casual employees of the National Library - can be explained by the fact that most of the temporary employees have become permanent employees. Whereas last year expenditure in respect of salaries and allowances of permanent employees was £41,521, this year it is expected that the figure will rise to £64,000. The National Library is expanding. I am not in a position to say whether the studies referred to by Senator Brown will be pursued. However, I shall bring that matter, together with the matters raised by Senator Anderson and Senator Tangney, to the notice of the responsible Ministers. I shall obtain information about the matter referred to by Senator Cooke and let the honorable senator have it to-morrow.
Senator Seward referred to the Government shares in the Commonwealth Engineering Company Limited. That is really a matter for the Treasurer (Sir ArthurFadden), but I shall have no objection if the honorable senator wishes to pursue it when the proposed votes for the Treasury are being discussed. The money is available, and I presume that the Senate will be informed if and when we decide to take certain action. Until then, all I can say is that the matter will be brought to the notice of the Treasurer. Senator Seward also asked for what purposes an additional £7,000 was expended by the Public Service Board. I inform him that £3,000 was expended on reprinting the Public Service Act and Regulations, £2,800 in connexion with training and equipment in the various States, £1,000 for an intercommunication system at the office of the Public Service Board, and £400 for a Diplomat copyline machine. I hope that honorable senators who wish to ask questions to-morrow about the proposed votes for departments that have not been reached by the committee will be good enough to write out their questions, so that considered replies can be made to them.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) stated that additional expenditure had been incurred by the Public Service Board in connexion with the training of typists. I should like the Minister to explain to-morrow the method that was adopted to procure those typists and the departments in which they were employed.
– I shall obtain that information for the honorable senator.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £1,714,000.
– I refer to Division 17 - Administrative, in connexion with the training of diplomatic cadets. Has such training been discontinued ? I notice that, although the vote last year was £5,500, only £2,750 was expended, whilst this year there is no provision at all. As the training of diplomatic cadets has been abolished, I should be glad if the Minister for Shipping and Transport would inform me whether or not the scheme was successful.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Chairman having reported accordingly,
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following paper was presented : -
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 September 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1954/19540929_senate_21_s4/>.