22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed lo the Minister .representing the Minister for External Affairs. To save honorable senators from complete dependence upon newspaper reports on the matter, will the Minister ask the Minister for External Affairs to make periodical statements available to the Senate, while it is in session, and, during the recess, to individual senators, regarding the course of events before the Security Council of the United Nations regarding the Suez Canal dispute? I am not asking for a commentary by the Minister, but merely for a factual record of the proceedings.
– I will bring the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, and let him know the Minister’s views on the matter.
– T direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and I preface it by stating that the passenger and freight ship M.V. “ Koojarra “ was recently delivered to the Western Australian State Shipping Service. I have just returned from the north-west, where I received many inquiries as to whether, and when, the Minister who was responsible for having this vessel built intended to make time available to visit the north-western ports in “ Koojarra “. Could the Minister give me some indication as to whether he has considered the matter and, if so, could he inform me, approximately, when residents of the north-west can expect to welcome him?
– If it has been indicated to the honorable senator that I was the Minister responsible for having this ship built, I must immediately disclaim any credit in that respect. This ship was built by, and to the order of, the Western Australian State Shipping Service, at the
Newcastle dockyards. That service has since commissioned the ship, which is at present undergoing its first voyage to the north-west of Western Australia. As to when I shall be able lo go to the northwest, 1 am not in a position, at the moment, to inform Senator Scott. 1 can only say that 1 should very much like to be able to tell him (hat I shall be able to go in the very near future, but 1 am afraid 1 am not able to give him that undertaking.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether he has seen a statement by three eminent scientists in Sydney that there are great possibilities for the extraction of valuable drugs from coal. Further, has he seen the statement that the New South Wales Government is considering spending £15,000 upon a further investigation of this possibility? Can the Minister tell me whether he and the Joint Coal Board have given any consideration to this matter? If not, will he make a statement as early as possible?
– The matter to which the honorable senator refers was given a good deal of publicity in this morning’s press. The Joint Coal Board has reported upon this matter to me already. In view of the publicity given to this subject in this morning’s press, I expected that I might be asked a question about it and. because it is such a technical matter, I have had some notes prepared. The proposal is to convert coal into another kind of fuel, then into chemicals and then into plastics. The scheme comprises three stages. In the first stage, the coal is turned into char, which is a form of coke. Oil, tar and gas are also produced in this stage. In the second stage, the oil and tar are converted to chemicals. In the third stage, the chemicals are converted to plastics. I think it is fair to say that this is not a new process. It is well known to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but in saying that I do not deny that credit is due to these professional men from the New South Wales University of Technology for bringing the matter up for consideration.
In a big matter such as this, problems arise in each of the stages. For instance, to convert coal lo char, oil and gas would require a capital outlay of about £1,000,000. This would enable 600,000 tons of char to be produced from 1,000,000 of coal. This char could be used as an alternative fuel for steelworks and power houses. The first problem, therefore, is whether it would be economical for the power houses and the steelworks to use the char instead of existing supplies of coal. That is a commercial matter which has to be investigated thoroughly, but honorable senators should remember that although the use of 1,000,000 tons of coal might sound attractive, the fact is that it would not be an additional 1,000,000 tons of coal because the 600,000 tons of char produced from the 1 ,000;000 tons of coal and which would be used by the power houses and steelworks would be used by those undertakings in replacement of the coal that they are obtaining from other mines at the present time.
The first stage of the scheme will cost £1,000,000; the second stage, which will involve chemical factories, will cost about £20,000,000 or £30,000,000; and the third stage, which will involve plastics and so on, will cost about £40,000,000. Therefore, the whole matter is a big project which will cost in all about £70,000,000, and in order to be successful many different kinds of secondary industries in Australia will have to be harnessed up. Scientists from the university made a report which was made available to both the governments interested, and the Joint Coal Board prepared an analysis of the report. The board is now taking the matter a step further by consulting with the electricity commission, gas companies, chemical companies and all other industries that may be interested to ascertain whether the project is commercially practicable. We want to know whether people will buy the char. If they will not buy the 600,000 tons of char which will be produced, we shall find that an extraordinarily difficult hurdle to get over. If we get over the first hurdle there is then 350,000 tons of oil, tar and gas to be disposed of, and we have to know whether chemical concerns will invest £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 in order to make use of that All those matters are now being considered by the Joint Coal Board. A very important point in relation to the- coal-mining industry is that the project will require the investment of about £70^000,000 of capital in order to increase the use of coal by some 300,000 tons a year.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs had brought to his notice a statement made by Mr. Adlai Stevenson, an aspirant for presidential office in the United States, that if elected he would personally campaign the leading powers of the world with a view to bringing about the cessation of thermo-nuclear atomic bomb experimental tests? In view of the great danger from accumulated radio-active particles to animal, plant and human life in the form of radio-active fallout, will the Minister state whether this humane and sensible move on the part of Mr. Adlai Stevenson will receive the support of the Australian Government?
– I know how newspaper reports, particularly those transmitted from overseas, can be garbled. Even our local newspapers, although they may act in good faith, do not produce particularly accurate reports of an involved speech or address. Before I would suggest that the Government express any opinion at all on the sentiments expressed by Mr. Adlai Stevenson, I should like to know the full and precise text of the statement made by him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that the Postal Department now makes a charge of £10 for the installation of a telephone. If so, will the Minister state when this charge came into operation and what is the position of those who applied for telephone installations and paid the required rental in advance before the announcement was made?
– The bill in which this matter was dealt with was before the Senate a short time ago. A charge of £10 is to be made for the installation of a telephone. If the rental and other normal charges were paid before the passage of the bill through the Parliament, the £10 installation fee will not be charged. But if no fees were paid, the £10 will be charged. That will probably happen in respect of thousands of outstanding applications. In order to make the position perfectly clear, I shall obtain an authoritative reply from the Postmaster-General, and hand it on to the honorable senator.
– Can the Minister for National Development inform me whether the generation of electricity will be undertaken in conjunction with the Ord River irrigation scheme? If so, is it expected that that electricity provided will be as cheap as the power generated by the Snowy Mountains scheme?
– As far as I know, the Ord River irrigation and power scheme is at present only in the blueprint stage. Of course, this matter is entirely in the province of the Western Australian Government. So far, the Commonwealth’s only contribution towards the scheme has been by way of sharing the costs of the Ord River Experimental Station which, over a period of years, has carried out a series of very interesting experiments, indeed. These have established that the Ord River area is suitable for the growing of certain crops. The research station has established conclusively that both sugar cane and rice can be successfully grown in that area. The bringing of this scheme to fruition is too far ahead for us to talk about its power potentiality. Speaking as a layman, and without technical knowledge, I should say that there is no doubt at all that an opportunity exists there for the installation of a hydro-electric power station capable of providing the power needed to service the irrigated farms that will be established after the completion of the dam and the irrigation of the area. I have little doubt that sufficient power will be generated to supply projects even as far away as the meat works at Wyndham. However, there has not so far been any investigation along these lines.
– In view of the increasing and widespread industrial unrest, and the likelihood of the disruption of essential production and services within the immediate future, due to the action of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in freezing the basic wage in 1953, and the fact that, since 1953, the purchasing power of the basic wage has been reduced by the increased cost of living, is the Leader of the Government prepared to recommend to his ministerial colleagues that representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions be invited to attend the special conference on basic wage adjustments and inflation that is to be held in Canberra on 9th November?
– I shall be very happy to bring the suggestion of the honorable senator to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Ser vice. I do not think the state of industrial unrest is nearly as violent as the honorable senator seems to wish it to be. On the contrary, I think the position now is better than it has been for many years, substantially owing to the efforts, understanding and zeal of my colleague, the Right Honorable Harold Holt, to whose notice I shall be very pleased to bring the suggestion. The honorable senator is probably aware thai already the Minister for Labour and National Service does consult with the Industrial Advisory Board and representatives of. the Australian Council of Trades Unions.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade inform the Senate to what extent ships operating between European and Australian ports, both passenger liners and cargo vessels, are now using the Suez Canal? Can he say whether such cargoes are subject to increased insurance rates in consequence of the Suez Canal dispute? If higher rate* of insurance are being applied, can he say whether the Government is of the opinion that the increased rates are reasonable?
– I am sorry to say that I have not any particular knowledge of the points which the honorable senator ha? raised, except that which I have accumulated by general knowledge and by reading newspaper reports. I remember that the Orient and Peninsular and Oriental lines, for a while, diverted some of their ships round the Cape, but 1 have noticed that they have rediverted their ships through the Suez Canal. I have not heard of any increase in insurance rates as a result of the Suez dispute for ships using the canal.
– Can the Minister find out?
– If the honorable senator desires the. information, and puts his question on the notice-paper, I shall obtain it for him.
– Has the
Leader of the Government in the Senate any information to give the Senate concerning the proposed revision of the defence programme? Doss this revision contemplate wholesale dismissals of workers in government aircraft factories, munition plants, &c? What principles will the Government adopt to effect these dismissals? Will it be a case of “ last on, first off “? Will the rights of ex-servicemen, in the matter of preference and re-establishment, be observed by the Government?
– As I understand the position, the review of the defence set-up does not necessarily envisage the question of either employment or unemployment. Rather is it a matter of equipment, the role which Australia will adopt in the event of a restricted war, a global and atomic war -and matters of general strategy. The honorable senator will accordingly understand that it is not practicable, nor would it be wise, to make public statements from time to time in regard to matters still under discussion and consideration. I am quite sure that if and when the Prime Minister deems il advisable to make a public statement in order to bring the people of Australia up-to-date, he will do so at the appropriate time.
– What about the last portion of my question?
– That has nothing whatever to do with the review.
– Men are being dismissed.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to the report on the operations of the Commonwealth railways for the year ended 30th June, 1956, and to the paragraph headed “ Standardization of Gauges” on page 17. Reference is there made to the fact that work is now in progress on the completion of the widening of the Naracoorte-Lucindale portion of the Kingston branch railway in South Australia. Can the Minister let me know when that work is expected to be completed?
– I will find out, with some precision, the latest estimate of the completion date. I am not aware of it offhand. The honorable senator will be aware, of course, that the work is proceeding and that it is proposed to proceed with it throughout this current year.
– My question to the Minister for Repatriation concerns exservicemen who are committed from repatriation general hospitals to State mental institutions. In many cases, their estates are transferred to the control of the State Public Trustee in the State where they reside. 1 am referring in particular to men who are not in receipt of a pension, but whose affairs are handled by the Public Trustee. There has been a long delay in building hospitals where mental cases can be treated and, in view of the difficulties and the sufferings of the men’s families because of the slow working of the machinery under the control of the public trustees, will the Minister for Repatriation investigate the position? At present, the families of these ex-servicemen have to wait a long time before they get the miserable pittances that are due to them from various funds and from the Repatriation Department.
– The functions of the Repatriation Department are governed by the Repatriation Act, which comes before the Parliament from time to time for amendment. The department can function only in accordance with the provisions of that legislation. Under the act, the department accepts responsibility foi the treatment and welfare of those who suffer from a war disability or a disability that has been aggravated by war service. The same principle applies to mental cases. I know that the honorable senator has taken a close interest in the welfare of those unfortunate persons but, as the act stands, we can give full treatment only to those whose mental disease is accepted as a war disability. In such cases, the Repatriation department acts as the trustee for the payment of the men’s pensions, but not for other assets. The public trustees are State officials, and they act as trustees for those members of the services who have not had their mental state accepted as due to war service.
– Even after they have been admitted to a repatriation general hospital?
– 1 do not think the honorable senator is correct there. If they have been admitted to a repatriation hospital, the department must have accepted their mental state as due to war service, or there is some other disability which has been accepted as due to war service. They would not have been sent to the repatriation hospital for their mental disability; that condition would have existed in conjunction with some other accepted disability. However, 1 am quite willing to have a look at what the honorable senator has mentioned. It is very difficult to overcome the present situation because, as the honorable senator knows, we, as a federal body, have no power of certification of men who are suffering from a mental state; they must be certified by the various States. I shall be only too pleased to have a look at. the matter to see what can be done.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relating to retrenchment in defence establishments. I understand that recently Sir Eric Harrison stated that 3,000 employees would be dismissed. I ask the Minister to inform the Senate whether the Minister for Labour and National Service has had any conferences with the governments of the States in which these retrenchments will occur, or with private employers. Can he state whether the Minister has any plans for finding employment for the men who will be retrenched, whether he has received from his employment officers in the various States their views on placing them in other employment, or whether they will be thrown onto the scrap heap to join those who are already unemployed?
– I shall answer the last part of the question first. It is. of course, just fantastic to talk about people being thrown on the unemployment scrap heap in Australia. The latest figures I have show that throughout Australia only 9,600 persons are drawing unemployment benefit at the present time.
– 1 did not ask about that matter.
– I know that the stock-in-trade of the honorable senator is misery and gloom. He tries to make things look as bad as he can. We shall turn from that red herring to the facts of the situation in the defence factories, from some of which there will be a transfer of labour to other factories. I think the Senate can accept my assurance that my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, will use all the resources of his department a> skilfully and as successfully on this occasion as he has on past occasions to ensure that anybody in Australia who is willing and able to work will find satisfactory and profitable employment.
– Why could not the Minister have given that answer in the first place without adopting sewer tactics?
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence Production. 1 heard what he just said. 1 agree with the Leader of the Government in this place that one cannot always believe what one reads, but I should like to preface my question by saying that, according to the Melbourne “ Sun “ - and this might be the exception - the Government has stated that, in regard to dismissals, it will displace people in the following order: - Married women with no dependants, married women with dependants, men over 65 years of age, single women or widows, single men or widowers, and married men without dependants. If that statement is true, I ask the Minister whether, seeing the Government’s stated policy in regard to the order of dismissal for Commonwealth employment is that married men with dependants will be the last to be dismissed, he will investigate the case of Mr. H. Lindeman, an employee of the ordnance factory at Maribyrnong. Mr. Lindeman is married, with four children. He has been employed for eighteen years. He is a first-class machinist, and was about to be up-graded to the position of full tradesman. At present, he is on a week’s notice, and to-day he was offered a job as a second-class machinist, involving a salary reduction of £1 5s. a week. I am sure that the Minister will agree that the facts, as I have stated them, do not accord with the Government’s policy, as published in the press on 13th October.
– I understand that the order of dismissal, as read by the honorable senator, is, in fact, the order that was announced by the former Minister for Defence Production. I am hearing for the first time of the case of Mr. Lindeman, and I am unaware of the circumstances surrounding his dismissal. I will refer it to my colleague, the acting Minister, and see whether it departs from the stated policy of the Government, or whether there are any special circumstances involved. I will inform the honorable senator, in due course, of the result of my inquiries.
– In view of the statement just made by the Minister for National Development, to the effect that the Government’s policy of retrenchment will mean simply a transfer of workers from one position to another, has the Government any plan to deal with workers who are being retrenched from munitions factories in country towns, such as Bendigo, or in other isolated country centres where there is no other employment of a similar nature offering, and very little employment of any description for those who will be displaced?
– The hard test of experience has shown that in all these circumstances in which honorable senators allege no other employment, or very little employment, is offering, the workers are never without employment. Therefore, there is no such thing as this tremendous incidence of unemployment that is talked about so much. As to the arrangements for re-employment of retrenched workers in country towns, to which the honorable senator refers, I cannot give a concrete and definite answer, but I know from personal experience that in the case of the coalmining industry, my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, established re-employment committees so that before miners were put off, the circumstances at the mines where they worked were examined, and, in many instances, it was possible to employ the dismissed miners elsewhere. If any workers in Australia need assistance to find employment - although there can be very few such - they need only to get into touch with the employment service, which is controlled by the Department of Labour and National Service.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. I am certain that the Minister is aware that Group-Captain Douglas Bader. D.S.O. and Bar, D.F.C. and Bar, one of the most gallant and distinguished fighter pilots of World War II., is at present in Australia, and that in his post-war activities he has devoted himself to the welfare of crippled children and of limbless persons. Will the Minister ascertain whether it is possible for the Prime Minister to issue an invitation to Group-Captain Bader to visit Canberra so that members of the Commonwealth Parliament may have an opportunity of meeting this great man who flew with Royal Australian Air Force squadrons in the defence of England?
– I am sure that many Australians, as well as those who served in the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force, would welcome the opportunity to meet this distinguished gentleman. Whether it would be practical to have him invited to Canberra, in view of timetables and other circumstances, I am unable to say. I will certainly mention the matter to the Prime Minister, and if it is possible to issue an invitation to him, I share with the honorable senator the hope of meeting this distinguished airman.
– I ask the Leader of the Government, in view of the fact that the recent Commonwealth Prime Ministers conference concluded some time ago. whether he can give the Senate any idea when we may expect a report from the Prime Minister. Does the Minister know whether the Prime Minister intends to make a report, or whether Parliament is to be treated with contempt in regard to this matter?
– Some weeks ago, I answered this question. Traditionally, the custom has been - irrespective of whether a Liberal, Australian Country party or Labour government is in office - that on the return of the government representative from overseas conferences such as this, or immediately at the conclusion of the conference and prior to his return, a communique is published. At the conclusion of t”:e recent Prime Ministers conference an extensive communique was published, and I suggest again that the honorable senator should read it.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Treasurer whether he recalls that, on 1 1 th September last, in answer to a question by a member of his own party, he cited figures from the propaganda sheet of big business, namely, the “ Australian Financial Review “, which purported lo prove’ that the shareholdings in public companies are spread widely over the community? Does the Minister recall, also, that in a reply to Senator Kennelly yesterday, he cited figures from a more reliable source, namely, the Treasury, showing that for 1953-54, almost 80 per cent, of taxpayers derived their income from wages and salary only, or from salary and wages, and income from property sources of less than £100? ff the Minister recalls these two answers is he now prepared to recognize that the figures relating to widespread participation in public companies are, to say the least, misleading?
– I do not understand the honorable senator’s point of view. 1 cited two sets of figures and, as far as 1 know, each set was correct. They are not contradictory. One set of figures dealt with a group of, 1 think, 700 different companies, with a very extensive turnover, and showed that in those companies there were about three times as many shareholders as employees. The other set of figures was a dissection of taxpayers’ income. I do not know what connexion there is between the two lots of figures, and 1 cannot understand why the honorable senator asked his question. They are two sets of figures, giving two distinct pieces of information.
– Which set is right?
– They are both right.
– My question is directed to the Acting Attorney-General. During debates in the Senate, honorable senators have stated that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court fixes the wages of workers according to the ability of industry to pay. Can the Minister explain what is meant by the phrase “ the ability of industry to pay “?
– Not for a moment would 1 presume to put myself inside the minds of the very distinguished judges who determine the issues that are argued before them, after evidence is heard, on the capacity of industry to pay. That is a rather simple expression, but on some occasions it may be hard to determine how far industry can go in paying an adequate wage. 1 should imagine that the distinguished and experienced men who grace the bench, after having heard evidence and argument, would, first of all consider whether industry could, economically, pay a higher rate of wages than that prevailing. The present development is a very satisfactory one, and most trade unionists with whom I have discussed this matter favour the idea rather than a system under which wages fluctuate according to the cost of certain commodities. After all, if the price of potatoes or onions goes up, it does not make a very great impact on the cost of living. The formula which the judges apply in determining the capacity of industry to pay would not be a hard and fast one. Trained minds would bring to bear upon the question the utmost consideration, and i think a fair and reasonable answer is generally found by them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In view of the fact that the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia is the largest of its kind in this country - it had a revenue of over £3,000,000 last year, including the Government subsidy of approximately £700,000 which it distributed - is the Minister aware that at a recent election of the council of this fund in New South Wales the name of a nonexistent medical practitioner was included on the ballot-paper? Having regard to the necessity for .protecting the interests of the public, and in view of the fact that the rightful objection by a member to the validity of the ballot-paper was overruled by the fund executive, will the Minister for Health institute an inquiry into the conduct of the election?
– I am not aware ot the occurrence to which Senator Ashley refers, but 1 shall bring his question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health, and obtain a considered reply for him.
– Further to my previous question, will the Leader of the Government be kind enough to tell me when the report about which I was asking was issued, by whom it was issued and where I can have access to it?
– I think the honorable senator is most unreasonable. 1 am sure most other honorable senators saw the report.
– Where is it?
– I do not carry it with me. The communique was published by those Prime Ministers who attended the conference. That is the usual practice.
– Where is it?
– 1 have not gol it with me. lt was published at the conclusion of the conference, and if Senator Grant is really interested he should have no difficulty whatever in obtaining a copy. I am not prepared to be the honorable senator’s message boy.
– I must protest against this. We never get an answer to anything from this Minister. My questions are quite in order.
– The honorable senator’s protest is not.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers: -
The honorable senator suggests that a suitable reward should be offered for an effective remedy. There are plenty of effective remedies. It cannot be stressed too often that the problem is not to destroy the bacteria which cause footrot but to delect and to expose fully, by paring, all lesions within the feet of slightly but chronically infected sheep. Such sheep are often not lame and their feel seem normal unless examined properly a-.d carefully. Once the infected tissue under the horn is fully exposed, commonly used disinfectants such as formalin or copper sulphate will readily destroy the footrot bacteria. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has found that Chloromycetin is particularly effective and reliable for this purpose.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is well aware that the control and eradication of footrot is a difficult and laborious task, particularly when station labour is scarce and often inexperienced. Present research is aimed broadly in three directions. One is an attempt to discover some agent which will penetrate fragments of infected horn and so offset the present difficulty of ensuring that all lesions have been fully exposed; secondly, other diseases of the feet of sheep, which resemble and are often confused with true footrot, are being studied to find means of distinguishing them with certainty finally, footrot bacteria are being studied intensively wilh two objectives: to discover whether skin tests and blood tests, such as are used to detect tuberculosis or brucellosis in cattle, can be used to pick out sheep wilh inapparent footrot, and to explore the possibility that a worthwhile preventive vaccine could be devised. It must b.emphasized, however, that the chance of developing such a vaccine cannot be rated as high.
The offer of rewards for the solution of such problems has not in the past proved useful. The usual consequence of such an offer has been a spate of optimistic but ill-formed claims which waste much time to no real purpose. If any scientist or private individual has a novel idea which may solve or help to solve a problem such as this, he may, if he is so inclined, exploit it commercially.
Apart from field trials and control measures by State Departments of Agriculture, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has borne the full load of research on footrot and similar diseases, but it has no wish to monopolize this field. If research workers in other organizations have any new and promising ideas, or can assist by undertaking some aspects of the work, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will gladly collaborate or help in any way possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has supplied the following answers: -
– On 25th September, Senator Robertson asked the following question: -
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether his attention has been directed to the fact that at present a film entitled “ Bigger than Life “ is showing in London? Is it a fact that this film is condemned by the British Medical Association? Is it a fact, also, that the film depicts cortisone as a dangerous drug of addiction and one that is, in effect, a destroyer of life? Will the Minister take the earliest steps to prevent this film from being introduced into Australia because of the deleterious effect it could have on many patients using cortisone to-day with beneficial results? Will the Minister re-assure the public on the medicinal qualities of this drug, if used according to directions by qualified men?
The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply: -
The film entitled “ Bigger than Life “ has of course not been seen by me personally, nor am I aware of the attitude of authoritative bodies towards it. I am making enquiries in London regarding the film, and will endeavour to ascertain the attitude of the medical profession. I am glad to give the assurance asked for by Senator Robertson regarding the use of cortisone. Many useful drugs have deleterious effects if used indiscriminately or in excessive dosage and cortisone is no exception. Under the National Health Act the free use of this drug is restricted to those diseases in which it is known to be beneficial.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Fraser on the ground of ill health.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 16th October (vide page 623).
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
– Clause 3 seeks to appropriate £292,836,000, and that sum, coupled with the sum of £160,968,000 appropriated in the first four months of the financial year to the end of the current month, makes a total of £453,804,000, which is the subject of the appropriation in clause 4 of the bill. I point out that if at this stage the committee provides the whole amount that is involved in the measure by passing clauses 3 and 4, it rather stultifies itself when it comes to consider the details of these colossal amounts. On a prior occasion, at the instance of a Government Senator, if my memory serves me correctly, we postponed these clauses, and also the First Schedule which relates to clause 4, until after consideration of the details in the Second Schedule. I assure the committee that I have no purpose to serve other than the obvious and commonsense one that is implicit in my remarks. I believe that I see the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) nodding concurrence with my suggestion, so I shall not present any further argument. With the concurrence of the Minister I move -
That the committee postpone consideration of clauses 3 and 4 and the First Schedule until after consideration of the Second Schedule.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– While the committee is considering the Second Schedule, I should like to make a few introductory remarks, which I hope will make the debate run more evenly. This year, I have had a schedule prepared, as I did last year, which I believe has been distributed to honorable senators. That contains the suggested order in which we should consider the Estimates. I therefore move -
That the votes in the Second Schedule be considered in the following order: -
Prime Minister’s Department, £2,689.000.
Miscellaneous Services - Prime Minister’s Department, £2,938,000.
Department of External Affairs, £2,061,000.
Miscellaneous Services -
Department of External Affairs, £1,184,000.
International Development and Relief, £5,200,000.
Attorney-General’s Department, £1,729,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Attorney-General’s Department, £14,000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £5,000,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. £109,000.
Department of Customs and Excise, £3,922,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Customs and Excise, £43,000.
Defence Services -
Department of Defence, £890,000.
Department of the Navy, £39,065,000.
Other Services - Economic Assistance to support defence programme of SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization member countries, £250,000.
Bounties and Subsidies, £13,500,000.
Department of the Treasury, £9,158,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of the Treasury, £349,000.
Refunds of Revenue, £22,000,000.
Advance to the Treasurer, £16,000,000.
Department of Works, £3,134,000.
Department of Social Services, £2,796,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Social Services, £845,000.
Department of National Development, £1,107,000.
Miscellaneous. Services - Department of National Development, £262,000.
Department of Trade, £1,440,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Trade, £334,000.
Department of Labour and National Service, £2,013,000.
Defence Services -
Department of the Army, £60,284,000.
Other Services -
Administration of National Service Act, £239,000.
Recruiting Campaign, £226,000.
Department of the Interior, £4,334,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of the Interior, £90,000.
Australian Capital Territory, £2,716,000.
Defence Services -
Department of Air, £53,750,000.
Other Services -
Civil Defence, £70,000.
Reconditioning of Marine Salvage Vessels, £18,000.
Construction of Jetty for Handling of Explosives, £185,000.
Department of Civil Aviation, £8,747,000.
Department of Primary Industry, £1,506,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Primary Industry, £685,000.
Self-balancing items, £150,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport, £1,139,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Shipping and Transport, £2,035,000.
Commonwealth Railways, £3,697,000.
Department of Immigration, £1,862,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Immigration, £8,062,000.
Defence Services - Department of Defence Production, £19,891,000.
Department of Health, £1,516,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Health, £1,231,000.
Payments to or for the States, £1,925,000.
Australian Atomic Energy Commission, £778,000.
Defence Services - Department of Supply, £15,132,000.
War and Repatriation Services, £17,306,000.
Postmaster-General’s Department, £87,123,000.
Broadcasting and Television Services, £6,802,000.
Department of Territories, £234,000.
Northern Territory, £3,735,000.
Norfolk Island, £36,000.
Papua and New Guinea, £9,370,400.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, £22,600.
I point out, asI did last year, that this method of approach enables the officers who advise Ministers to arrange their attendance in an orderly way. They know when they will be required, and I believe that the experience gained last year showed that the method I suggest is a good one, because honorable senators will know approximately when the particular matters in which they are interested will come before the committee. Then they are able to prepare their material, and be ready for the debate. Not the least important aspect of the matter is that such a procedure gives Ministers a better chance to deal with matters affecting their departments, because they know when their affairs will be before the committee. With the permission of my leader, I should like to add that, this year, also, we are approaching a consideration of the Estimates in a different way. We have, now, ten sitting days left if we are to rise for the recess on 1st November. On the present count, in addition to the Estimates, we shall have to deal with 33 bills, many of which are ancillary to the budget, and deal with subjects that have already been discussed, although some of them will range further afield. My suggestion is - and I hope that it will receive the concurrence of the Senate - that we should proceed to con sider the Estimates on the basis that that business will occupy, as it did last year, and in previous years, some five sitting days, and that, when bills are received from the House of Representatives, we shall interrupt the debate on the Estimates, in an orderly way, so that those bills can be brought before honorable senators and so placed on the notice-paper. By this means, honorable senators will receive the benefit of the various second-reading speeches as early as possible. In contemplation of Friday sittings, it is suggested that we shall deal with the Estimates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and devote Fridays to the bills that have come to us during the week. On present indications, some seven or eight bills will be received from the House of Representatives before to-morrow night.I suggest that we have a look at them on Friday. By keeping our consideration of the Estimates running parallel with the bills that come before us, we shall spread our work more evenly over the sitting days, and thus obviate a substantial number of bills accumulating to be dealt with during the last couple of days of the present sittings.
I make the further suggestion that we might be able to improve the course of events, this year, by having a look at the progress that we have made on the Estimates by, say, next Tuesday, in order to see whether we can evolve ways and means of spreading discussion more evenly over the remaining day, because there is always a feeling that, as we approach the end of our consideration of the Estimates, some departments do not receive as much attention as those that were dealt with earlier in the debate. We want to try to apportion, as evenly and as reasonably as we can, the time that is available, so that all departments will receive as much attention as possible. In conclusion, I suggest that we can review the position next week.
– I should like to say, briefly, that I thank the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for circulating a list showing the order in which it is proposed to consider the Estimates for the various departments. This is a decided convenience to the Opposition, as well as to those who are responsible for the departments. We have no objection to the* motion that has been moved by the
Minister. The other proposals that he has placed tentatively before us are, 1 think, wise; I see nothing in them to which we should object. The Opposition will endeavour to co-operate with the Government in the passage of the Estimates. I can imagine that the projected programme will impose a very great strain on individual Ministers, who will have to make a sustained effort until the discussion on the proposed votes for all of the departments with which they are concerned are concluded. 1 sympathize with them. Even if I am responsible for causing them some (rouble, they will have my sympathy. The Opposition will endeavour to keep their ordeal as short as possible. Coming to the other point, the proposal to deal with hills on Fridays, since we must sit on Fridays, I think that would be preferable to the practice of putting bills through in the small hours of the morning of the last couple of days.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed Vote, £875,000.
– I refer to Division 1, Senate Item 1, “Standing and Select Committees, Expenses, £3,000 “. 1 note that under Division 2 - House of Representatives, the provision for Standing and Select Committees, Expenses, is £200. I know why the provision for Standing and Select Committees in the Senate is £3,000. Traditionally, this provision is made each year in order to give a degree of independence to the Senate so that it can, if it wishes, appoint a select committee of its own members. By this means, the Senate is not dependent on the Government to make available the necessary money to enable a Senate select committe to function. The Senate had a rather bitter experience on one occasion when, after having appointed a select committee, it was told that the Government declined to provide funds to enable it to function. This precaution is taken year by year, before any controversy can arise between this chamber and another place. Before the onset of hostilities, enough money is provided to enable the Senate to appoint and properly conduct its own select committees. Although there is a big disparity between the amounts proposed to be allocated to the Senate and to the House of Representatives for the expenses of standing and select committees, I merely direct attention to the reason for it.
The question that I should like to direct to the Minister is this: In relation to the Constitution Review Committee, which is a joint committee of the two Houses, will its expenses be met from either of the proposed votes? If not, from what vote will they be met? I merely point out that if they are to be met from these proposed votes, the amount proposed to be allocated to the House of Representatives for this purposes is likely to be hopelessly inadequate, because this is a committee which, on the face of it, will be functioning, perhaps, throughout the life of the Parliament. It will have very many sittings, probably of long’ duration. The task assigned to the committee is one of great importance and, as the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) himself will appreciate, this will be a time-consuming task. One cannot approach a consideration of the many matters affecting the Constitution without devoting a great deal of time to the subject.
I shall leave that for the moment, and. pass to an incidental matter. Since the former chairman of the committee resigned I have, on three occasions, asked questions, in this Senate designed to ascertain when a new chairman will be appointed. The precaution was taken by the Government at the time the committee was appointed to appoint its own chairman, the numbers being equal between the parties, and the chairman was given a casting vote only on matters of procedure. Because he had that power, the appointment of a deputy chairman was left to the chairman alone. No deputy chairman was appointed. Senator Spicer’s retirement came very suddenly, before he had an opportunity to appoint a deputy chairman. His appointment, I think, took him and everybody else by surprise and now, unfortunately, there is nobody to appoint a deputy chairman to enable the committee to function. There has been a delay of over two months in making the necessary appointment. I directed attention to the matter on 30th August, and on two occasions since I have asked about it. I know that the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan) has made what approaches he can in the matter. I simply express the opinion of members of the Opposition that there has been too long a delay in reaching a decision. I concede immediately, that it is probably wrapped up with other matters such as the appointment of new members to the Cabinet and reallocation of Cabinet duties. Even in regard to that matter it is time a decision was made. If the two matters are inter-linked, I should be very pleased if the Minister could give the Senate some assurance that the appointment of a chairman of the Constitution Review Committee will be made in the very near future. I should be very happy if I could have some assurance on that point.
– I refer to Division 5, Joint House Department. Under that heading is the subheading, Salaries and Payments in the nature of Salary. Particulars are then set out, and the proposed vote for the current year is £101,400. I refer to the schedule of salaries and payments in the nature of salary which appears on page 147, and 1 desire to make a brief examination of some information given there. 1 refer to this department because of an appointment made, possibly one or two years ago, which does not reflect any credit upon those responsible for making it. When I make that statement, I do not wish to cast any reflection upon the gentleman who occupies the position to which 1 refer. Honorable senators will notice under the heading. Housekeeper and Cleaning Staff, a salary is provided for a housekeeper. I have nothing to say about his salary, because I am not in a position to know whether it is adequate or inadequate; but when we cast our eye to the bottom of the page we find the qualification, “Less £78 deduction for rent “. It is scandalous that the Government takes £78 in rental from the housekeeper of Parliament House for the miserable quarters which he is required to occupy at the rear of this building.
– It is like a dog kennel.
– It is like a dog kennel, and for it £78 is taken from his salary. I feel sure that the Presiding Officers, who are in charge of this department, will inquire into this matter immediately. They know very well that if a housekeeper is required to live upon the premises he is, in effect, being made a watchman or caretaker. I do not know how the Government is escaping the liability to pay him something additional for the work he performs other than as a housekeeper, such as a special allowance for acting as a caretaker. We must deal with facts. A night-watchman is employed; I have met the gentleman on various occasions on my way back at night to the Hotel Kurrajong. He is the only man on the premises of Parliament House at night with the exception of the housekeeper. If anything unusual were to occur the first man to whom the watchman would turn would be the housekeeper. Instead of having £78 deducted from his salary for rent the housekeeper should be paid a special allowance for living on the premises. His salary should be increased by at least £78 for living on the premises and acting as a second -caretaker.
.- For the purpose of seeking information 1 refer to Division 8, Parliamentary Printing. I notice that the expenditure for the printing of “ Hansard “, including cost of distribution for the year 1955-56, was £65,436, and that the amount allocated for this year is estimated at £44,000, a reduction of approximately £2 1 ,000. In respect of other printing and binding the amount spent last year was £38,555, whereas this year £28,000 is allocated for that purpose. 1 am not in a position to say whether the Government is reducing the number of “ Hansards “ at present being printed and distributed or where the saving to be made. It may be that more up-to-date machinery is being used. After I obtain the necessary information I shall be in a better position to form an opinion on the matter. Maybe, I shall agree entirely with the proposed vote; maybe, I shall oppose it. Until I have been informed of the reason for these reductions, I shall not be in a position to say whether I agree with the proposed vote. I hope we are not skimping on the number of “ Hansards “ for the purpose of withholding information from the general public. I hope also that we are not skimping on the printing of parliamentary papers. I shall not say more until I have heard what the Minister has to say on the points I have raised.
.- I also wish to refer to Division 8, Parliamentary Printing. Senator Aylett referred to the amount allocated for the printing of “ Hansard “, and compared the proposed vote for this year with the expenditure last year. I do not propose to answer his question, but it may be that the sessional periods next year will be shorter than they have been this year. That may be the answer.
We listened to-day to a discussion about retrenchments from aircraft production works and other branches of industry. 1 refer, particularly, to the cost of printing the daily and weekly issues of “ Hansard “. The work is absolutely unnecessary. A daily issue of “ Hansard “ is unnecessary; we do not require the debates to be published daily. All these things cost money, and, if we are going to save money, we should save it right here in the Parliament. 1 do not consider that would be skimping; 1 say it would be a genuine saving. Walking about the Parliament House, one finds that many members do not even bother to open their copies of “ Hansard “; they do not take the wrappers off. lo see what their fellow members have had to say. I know, also, that, outside the Parliament, “ Hansards “ are not read to any extent. They are not worth talking about from the point of view of informing the people of what transpires in the Parliament.
A huge saving could be effected on this item. We should revert, immediately, to the practice of publishing reports of debates in the Senate and the House of Representatives in the one issue of “ Hansard “. We should abolish the daily issue of “ Hansard “ and revert to the previous practice. If we do not do that now, it will never be done. To-day, when men are being dismissed from industries in the various States, it is up to the Parliament to say..
Well, we are going to save money in some way or other “. It would be a gesture to the people if the Parliament were to decide to discontinue this costly and unnecessary practice.
– I hope to be in a position, before very long, to answer the question in regard to the Constitution Review Committee which has been repeatedly raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). In regard to the expenses of the committee, it ls the practice for the vote for one House to carry the combined expenses of a joint committee. In this instance, the costs of the Constitution Review Committee are1 being debited to the Senate, primarily because an officer of the Senateis the secretary of that committee. Provision is made in the Estimates either under the heading of the House of Representatives or the Senate, for such expenditure. In this case, the allowance will come from the Senate vote, but special provision has been made for it.
Senator Benn referred to the provision of payment for rent by the housekeeper. That is a matter for the Joint House Department or for the President of the Senate, and I shall bring it to the notice of the President. There are some cases in which customs officers or other public officers areliving in official residences. Some deduction is made from their pay or there is a debit in some other form for rent.
The daily production of “ Hansard “ was suggested as a solution to the delay that occurred before when honorable senators, were provided with daily pulls of the proofs. In a sense, that was a duplication, of printing expenses. Production was expedited so that we would get “ Hansard “ about the time that we previously received the pulls. Whether the decision was a wise one or not is a matter of opinion. Some favour the present system and others would like to revert to the old one.
asked a question about the cost of production and distribution of the daily “ Hansard “. The estimate is based on the actual costs involved since the inception of the daily issue in May, 1955. The cost is £1,500 a week for the House of Representatives and £1,200 for the Senate. Sitting days of the House of Representatives varied from 46 in 1953-54 and 63 in 1954-55 to 79 in 1955-56. The sitting days of the Senate varied from 33 in 1953-54 and 47 in 1954-55 to 52 in 1955-56. lt has been assumed that the sitting days in 1956-57 will total 54 in the House of Representatives and 42 in the Senate; that is, eighteen and fourteen weeks respectively. The costs are worked out on that basis.
– The Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) did not reply to the latter portion of my questions regarding the cost of printing and binding, which totalled £38,555 last year, and will amount to £28,000 this year. Does that come into the same category as the expenses for “ Hansard “? If the House is going to sit for much less time in 1956-57 than it did in 1955-56, there should be a corresponding saving on other printing.
– Yes. The estimate is based on that premise.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed Vote, £2,689,000.
– 1 should like the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) to give me some information on the Commonwealth Office of Education. It appears that that organization is being built up, and I am at a loss to know why. In the main, education is a matter for the State governments. I raised this matter in the Senate about two years ago, and was told that the Commonwealth had to provide training classes for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen. I accepted that explanation at the time as a valid reason why there should be a Commonwealth Office of Education, but if that were the reason for maintaining this expenditure, the amount provided should be getting lower. Instead, the proposed expenditure is to be increased in this financial year and provision is made for a larger staff.
At page 150 of the schedule, provision is made for an increase in the number of education officers and cadets from 44 to 78. The estimated expenditure is £110,363, compared with £61,753 last year. The number of clerks and librarians is to be increased from 37 to 49, and the estimate provides for expenditure of £51,289 compared with £39,667 last year. The number of typists and assistants is to be increased from 35 to 48, with a corresponding rise in costs.
Will the Leader of the Government inform me of the functions of the Office of Education, and the reason for the increase in proposed expenditure? Who are the cadets who are being trained, and what is their function? The training of cadets implies a long-term policy for the Office of Education. It may be that this organization provides for the education of children in the Northern Territory or the Australian Capita] Territory, but I understand that the children in the Northern Territory came under the South Australian Department of Education. If there has been a change of policy, I should like to be informed.
.- Last year, the expenditure on the Prime Minister’s Department was £2,598,074 and this year the estimated expenditure is £2,689,000. This is the most important department with which the Parliament has to deal. I direct the attention of honorable senators to Division 10 - Administrative. Salaries and payments in the nature of salary under that heading are to be increased from £178,463 in 1955-56 to £183,000, an increase of £4,537. Ordinarily, it might be said that £4,537 is a small sum, and that we should allow it to pass without comment. But if we include the item, General Expenses, which also comes under the heading of Division 10 - Administrative, it will be found that the total provision for that division is £284,000, compared with £270,672 last year. The difference is £13,328. I look at it this way: With the sum of £13,328 at least four houses could be built for persons who have no homes and who are searching for them. The fact that the Prime Minister’s Department is seeking £13,328 more this year means that we must take notice-
– It is inflation.
– Senator Aylett has informed me that it is inflation. That might be the correct answer. If it is, whoever was responsible for the compilation of these Estimates should have taken that into account, because some of the administrative expenditure involved is incurred on meetings between the Prime Minister and the State Premiers to deal with the very problem that Senator Aylett mentioned - inflation. Economic statements have been made in the House of Representatives at different times, reference has been made to excessive consumption expenditure, and we have been told how the economy has been drifting. I mentioned at the outset that the Prime Minister’s Department is the most important department we have to deal with. The office of Prime Minister is the highest public office in the Commonwealth, and the task of the Prime Minister is the most important and most onerous in the Commonwealth. He might not prescribe the economic or fiscal policy but, if there is coordination between the Treasury and the other departments, it is he who constitutes the hub of that co-ordination and who finally has to approve any policy that is proposed. I repeat that it is a very important office and that we must look at it through the eyes of men of experience in dealing with these things.
Before very long the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will be meeting the six State Premiers in conference again to deal with the Australian economy. What a happy position he would be in if he were able to point to the Estimates for his department and say, “ I have cut my own Estimates. What have you gentlemen done? “. If he had made his Estimates only £1 less than last year’s expenditure, his case would have been strengthened; but when the Premiers, perhaps having had a look at what his department proposes to spend this year, come to Canberra, his case will have been defeated before he puts it. That is an important feature of these Estimates, and no doubt it is one that the Prime Minister has overlooked. I know that he was overseas when they were compiled, but the officers of his department and the Acting Prime Minister should have seen to it and reduced the proposed expenditure. If it is intended to reduce expenditure in the munitions factories, it is also necessary to reduce administrative expenditure associated with parliamentary procedures.
I note that the Public Service Board is one of the offices that is administered by the Prime Minister. I have quietly observed the work of the board over the past five or six years, and anything that I have to say about it is of a commendatory nature. I feel that it is doing its utmost to provide the Commonwealth, in due course, with an efficient Public Service. Perhaps, it is following a long-term plan, but, nevertheless, it seems to me that it is a plan that will provide Australia with a worth-while Public Service.
I, too, should like to refer to the Office of Education, to which reference was made by Senator Pearson. However, I have different views about it. I say that it is a worth-while office. I do not propose to reply on behalf of the Minister who is in charge of the proposed vote, but one of the functions of the Office of Education is to advise the Prime Minister on education matters. When dealing with the subject of education, we cannot entirely set aside expenditure that is incurred by the States on education. 1 should say that the Office of Education plays an important part in the administrative affairs of the Commonwealth. The educational systems of the various States are not uniform. The New South Wales system is not the same as that of Victoria, and the systems of those two States are different from that of Queensland. The Office of Education, as I have stated, advises the Prime Minister, who finally has to make a decision regarding grants under the uniform taxation legislation for the carrying on of educational facilities in the States. It is necessary that he should be fully informed about what is happening in the States, and whether anything further can be done in relation to the money that is expended by the States on education.
Senator Pearson referred, I think, to education for adult immigrants. That is one of the functions of the Office of Education. If the honorable senator lives in a community in which that aspect of education has been neglected, possibly he would not understand the important work that is being done by this department in endeavouring to educate those people. The staff, amongst other things, instructs them in English in the way it thinks best, conducts radio broadcasts and publishes booklets.
I seem to be speaking in favour of the proposed vote, but I assure Senator O’sullivan that 1 am not and that I am coming to the point. The Office of Education is directly related to the work that is done by the Commonwealth under the Colombo plan. Students from Asiatic countries are brought here for tuition, and during the whole of their term in Australia they are more or less under the care of the Office of Education. The work of the office in this regard is increasing. At the present time, it has to look after 500 or 600 students, and of course the administrative work has to be paid for. When one looks at the proposed miscellaneous vote for the Prime Minister’s Department, one notes that other worthwhile offices are associated with the Office of Education, and I should not like to say even now that they should be abolished.
We are interested in the Colombo plan. If bringing Asiatic students to Australia and giving them a course of instruction will enable them to return and improve the productivity and economy of their own countries, we are doing some good, and 1 hope that we will continue to do it. It is a good way of developing our relations with the Asiatic countries. But we have reached the stage where, because the scheme seems to be expanding rapidly and more students are coming here, there should be some liaison between the countries that are associated with the Colombo plan to see whether co-ordination can be achieved. It might be possible for the countries that are contributing to the Colombo plan to send teachers to the Asiatic countries to teach the students in their own language. I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister to comment upon the possibility of achieving some co-ordination between the countries that contribute to the Colombo plan. There are other matters I will comment upon in connexion with this office, lt is associated, also, with the College of Nursing, a college that was established in the State of Victoria, and that received a special grant from the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth Government makes a grant to one instrumentality in a State, and a similar instrumentality or office is set up in other States, the Government has no alternative but to make a like grant to it. The Minister may be able to inform the committee whether the Government intends to promote colleges of nursing by making special grants to them.
asked whether the Office of Education was worth its salt. It is responsible for an occupational therapy training scheme, and grants are made for this purpose. I do not think any honorable senator would say that such a scheme was not worth while. I should like the Minister to say whether the Government intends to continue to expand the work of the Office of Education in respect of the Colombo plan by looking after more students from Asia and other countries, or whether activities under this plan are to be limited.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) [4.471. - In the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department the most dramatic increase that I observe is in Division 15 relating to the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom. This increase is about £61,000, which is much higher than in any other division, including the Office of Education, the Audit Office, the Public
Service Board or the Governor-General’s office. From time to time, honorable senators are confronted with criticism of Australia House. I am bound to say that my personal experience of Australia House was very satisfactory, and I found the staff there most co-operative and helpful. However, instances have been reported in the press, and have been brought to the notice of honorable senators, of criticisms of the service at Australia House.
On this occasion, at a time when a holding budget has been brought down, and the emphasis has been on keeping costs to a minimum, this is provision for a substantial increase. In looking for some explanation. I notice that although the permanent staff salaries remain almost static a very substantial rise appears in the amount allowed for salaries for casual employees. I presume that there must be some explanation which is not apparent to the committee, and I should be obliged if the Minister would give some indication of what it is. I notice, also, a substantial increase for maintenance and general upkeep costs of Australia House. Last year, the vote for this purpose was £68,920, but this year it is £80,500. The committee is entitled to know whether substantial structural alterations or improvements are to be made to Australia House. This building is situated in a beautiful part of London, but possibly an enlargement of it is necessary. On occasions the main floor is so crowded with callers that one has to battle one’s way in and out. That happens particularly at mail times. Reverting to the matter of casual employment, honorable senators are aware that the Government is making a definite drive to popularize and publicize Australian products. Perhaps the Minister could say whether some of the casual staff is to be used in this way. The new High Commissioner will soon leave to take up his duties in London, and Australia House will be his head-quarters. Without acquiescing in any way with some of the criticisms that have been levelled at Australia House from time to time, I say that it would be well for the High Commissioner-elect to have regard to them, and to make a close examination ot the whole set-up in order to learn whether there is any substance in them.
– In Division 12 of the Prime Minister’s Department, which relates to the
Public Service Board, there appears the item in Group C, “ Examination Expenses, £13,300”. I should like the Minister to inform the committee who is being examined. Does this item relate to young persons undergoing preliminary examination for appointment to the Public Service? I express again my disgust at the expenditure, year after year, by this Government of large amounts on salaries for temporary and casual employees in the Commonwealth Public Service. I realize the magnitude of the work of the Public Service, and that the Public Service Board is responsible for the employment of officers in the various departments. The amount being paid in salaries to temporary officers is increasing each year in many departments, and this is not fair to the officers concerned. In many cases it is wrecking their careers.
During the last 30 years, I have known men and women who have given their lives in the Commonwealth Public Service, performing duties of high responsibility, but they have never been given the proper reward to which they are entitled. I am not talking without authority. Before I entered Parliament, 1 had years of experience in the Public Service - not, I admit, with the Commonwealth Public Service all the time. However, I know that the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) will agree with me, because of statements he has made since he became a Minister, that it is not fair that men and women who have given years of service to the Commonwealth, and have reached the age of 40 or 50 years, should still be employed in only ‘ a temporary capacity. They face the time when they will be too old to be any longer employed by the Commonwealth, and when they will be without any prospect of reward such as long service leave or superannuation. There have been exceptions in which the Public Service Board has confirmed the appointment of such officers. It is wrong that this practice should continue, and no one will ever convince me that it is necessary for qualified young people who have been performing the duties to the credit of the department for years to be kept on the temporary or casual staff.
Turning to page 149 of the Estimates, I find that provision is made for a principal training officer, an assistant principal training officer, senior training officers, training officers, an assistant training officer, a senior research officer, research officers, an assistant research officer, a senior examinations officer, an examinations officer, a. recruitment officer, an officer in charge, an. investigating officer, investigators, a welfareofficer, a librarian, a senior clerk and clerks.. In all, they number 88 this year. Last year, the number under these headings was 85. I am not so foolish as to suggest that all these officers are not necessary. As this country develops, it is the Government’sresponsibility to see that the Commonwealth Public Service is as efficient as it can possibly be and that in all its ramifications the work is performed by those who are best able to do it.
I come now to a consideration of the inspectors’ staffs. Here we find that provision is made for a total of 214 officers. They include public service inspectors,, deputy inspectors, an inspector and assistant inspectors, senior recruitment and training officers, recruitment and training officers, training officers, a senior clerk, clerks in charge, clerks and cadets (personnel), an employment officer, typists, clerical assistants, assistants and a telephonist. The total sum required for the 8S officers and the members of the inspectors’ staffs to whom I have referred is £430,000 this year, and I should like to know why some attempt has not been made by those in authority to do justice to those who are on the lower rung of the ladder and who have rendered yeoman service to the Commonwealth over the years. I refuse to believe, indeed I completely contradict, any suggestion by this or any other government, that these people are only casuals. Some of them may be, but the great majority of these so-called temporary public servants on whose behalf I am making this appeal, which is about the tenth I have made since I have been here, have been doing work of national importance for years.
.- J wish to refer briefly to the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom because, unfortunately, like Senator Anderson, I have heard too much criticism of the treatment and service given by the staff of that office to Australians visiting London. So far as I know, that criticism does not include the officer who has just resigned from the position of High Commissioner, because it is obvious that most visitors going to England and who are seeking information and whatever help should be available to them do not expect to see the High Commissioner, nor could they possibly do so. The criticism is levelled at the officers behind the inquiry counters. These employees are diplomats, as it were, or public relations officers in this very expensive organization; and now that Sir Eric Harrison is going to London as High Commissioner I hope that he will conduct a thorough investigation with a view to ensuring that the right types should be employed on the counters to interview the public. Considering the amount set down in the Estimates, I sincerely hope also that he will do some pruning in order to save expenditure and that in the course of this pruning the dead wood that has given rise to this criticism will be removed.
I wonder how many of the staff employed in the High-Commissioner’s Office have seen Australia or know anything about it. Although I do not advocate extra expenditure there, I suggest that it is time for the introduction of a system under which a certain number of capable, eligible Commonwealth public servants specially trained for the job would be sent to the High Commissioner’s Office in London. With due respect to those who are now employed in London by the Government, I feel that Australians are better fitted to deal with Australians. They certainly would be able lo speak with more knowledge of Australia.
Here it is appropriate to suggest that some consideration should be given to the roles of the High Commissioner and of the several Agents-General for the States, ls there any overlapping? Is there any real cause for the friction that does exist between the Agents-General for the States and the High Commissioner’s Office? If there is, action must be taken first to avoid overlapping and to eliminate friction so that there may be complete co-operation between them. The elimination of the overlapping would also reduce costs. If our new High Commissioner, Sir Eric Harrison, uses the pruning knife, not the hatchet, it is possible that there will no longer be any reason for the present justified criticism of these officers.
– I desire to speak on the matter that was discussed by Senator Marriott, because I believe that honorable senators should be given a little more information about the sum of £251,400 which it is estimated will be spent on the salaries of temporary and casual employees during the current financial year.
– To what item is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to Division 15 - High Commissioner’s Office - United Kingdom. I am concerned about the salaries and payments in the nature of salary to temporary and casual employees, under item A2 in that division. I am not concerned about item A3 because officers can always wangle extra duty if they want a few extra pounds. For salaries and allowances of permanent officers, the estimate for this year has increased over the vote for last year by £1,250, although the actual expenditure last year was about £9,000 less than the vote. The vote for all three items in section A of Division 15 has increased by about £23,000 over last year’s expenditure, although that expenditure was about £16,000 above the vote. Therefore, honorable senators will note that the expenditure on salaries and payments in the nature of salary in the High Commissioner’s office have increased steadily. I refer now to General Expenses in Division 15. These do not include salaries and payments in the nature of salary because, of course, those items are shown separately. For travelling and subsistence, office requisites, &c, and postage, telephones, &c, the estimate has increased over last year’s expenditure by about £20,000. I could perhaps understand some of the increased expenditure on salaries because salaries may have increased, but I cannot understand why general expenses should increase. For the general upkeep of Australia House, the estimate for this year is about £8,000 above the expenditure for last year, which, in its turn, was about £3,000 above last year’s vote.
From the information that is available to honorable senators the economy of Great Britain seems to be fairly stable. That being so, costs in Great Britain are not rising to the same degree as they are in Australia. However, the estimates for the High Commissioner’s office would lead us to believe that the position in England is similar to that in Australia and that costs are increasing year by year. As the British economy is fairly stable I can see no reason why the costs of the High Commissioner’s office should continue to increase. The retiring Australian High Commissioner, Sir Thomas White, has occupied his office for some considerable time, and perhaps his tastes have become somewhat lavish. I hope that the new High Commissioner, whose tastes are perhaps not so lavish, will be able to live within a few pounds of the Estimates. Last year, the expenditure was considerably in excess of the estimate, and this year the estimate for the total cost of the office is much greater than last year’s expenditure.
I suggest that if we are to spend vast sums of money on the High Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom and that if the cost of the office is to increase year by year, we should benefit by commensurate increases in our trade with Great Britain. In other words, it appears that we are not getting value for our money, and it has been stated by the Government that its firm policy is to get value for public money wherever possible. The Government. i> attempting to economize in all directions in Australia, and I suggest that it is the duty of the Government to economize in oi. offices overseas. In saying that 1 do nor want it to be taken that I consider thu. Australia should not be adequately represented in Great Britain or any other country, but I do suggest that there is a limn to the money that we can spend on overseas offices if we do not get an adequate return for that money. At present we must consider whether we are getting a proper re turn for the huge amount that we expend on the High Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom.
I am inclined to agree with Senator Marriott that we would perhaps get better service from trained Australians than we are at present getting from temporary and casual employees recruited in Great Britain. It is estimated that £173,500 will be paid to the permanent staff during the present financial year and that £251,400 will be paid to the temporary and casual staff. From those figures it would seem that there are many more temporary employees than permanent officers, and as temporaries and casuals could be picked up anywhere, it i.s likely that they would be inefficient compared with trained Australians. Perhaps the Minister has a complete explanation o! the increasing expenditure on the High Commissioner’s office, and if so I should like to hear it. I should also like an assurance that we are getting an adequate return for the money that we spend each year on this office.
– I sincerely hope that the new High Commissioner to the United Kingdom will busy himself with the reconstruction of Australia House, because if the reports that I have received from time to time can be relied upon I must agree with Senator Marriott’s complaints. When anybody approaches me and asks me whether he should visit Australia House to obtain information or assistance when he is in England. I say, “ Do not go to Australia House. Go to the Western Australian Agent-General in Savoy House “.
I have very good reason for giving that advice. A couple of years ago a young man who had been a farmer in England came to see me. He told me that before leaving England he had visited Australia House and informed the officials there that he desired to pay his own fare and emigrate to Australia. He said that the people at Australia House did everything possible to dissuade him from coming here. They told him that Australia had no use for agricultural workers, that if he were a worker in secondary industry or a tradesman such as a motor mechanic he would be all right in Australia, but there was no place for agricultural workers. About six months later he renewed his application and was told the same sort of thing. In spite of all that he came out to Australia. He came to see me because he had established himself as a pig farmer, but could not do all the work on the farm himself and so he needed some help. His brother in England was willing to come out and the young man said to me, “ If he goes to Australia House to make inquiries about coming out here he will never get here “. I advised him to tell his brother to go to the Western Australian Agent-General.
A couple of months ago a friend of mine who was just back from a trip to England came to visit me. He told me that when he was leaving England he desired to purchase some presents for people back here in Australia. He made inquiries at a departmental store in England about bringing them out. The people there said, “ Why do you not post them out? “ He said, “ Can I do that? If so, it will meet my convenience because 1 want to go to the Continent for a couple of weeks. If I post them, will I have to pay duty? “ They said, “ No, you will not have to pay duty “. My friend was not satisfied with that advice, and he made inquiries at Australia House. The officials there told him the same thing. Thus assured, he posted them, but when he got back to Australia, he was called upon to pay duty amounting to £20. He was put to this expense because he did not bring back the goods with him.
Last Friday, before I left Perth, I received a telephone call from a member of the staff of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who said that he had rung me because Mr. Hasluck was not in Perth. The matter concerned a young English man who had called at his office. Before coming to this country, the young man went to Australia House to obtain some information. He saw not an office boy, but a senior officer, whose name I shall not mention. This officer advised him to go to either Queensland or Western Australia, but preferably to Western Australia, because in that State there was a scheme for the settlement of civilians on the land. Actually, no such scheme has operated in Western Australia for very many years. The Englishman duly presented a letter of introduction to the Western Australian Director of Agriculture, who, of course, told him that no scheme is operating in that State for the settlement of civilians on the land. He sent him to the Western Australian Farmers Union, which could not help him. He then went to the Pastoralists Association. Being unsuccessful in obtaining employment through either of these bodies, he then went to the Commonwealth Employment Service, but the officials there could not care less about his predicament, despite the fact that he mentioned that he came to Western Australia in the light of advice he received at Australia House. When I heard this story, I approached a farmer, who is also a member of the Western Australian Parliament, and he found employment for the young man. I have related this story to honorable senators to show the kind of advice that Australia House gives to persons who are considering coming to Australia.
I recently presented, in this chamber, a report which showed that 730 people are employed at Australia House. Heaven knows what they do! I do not know how many secretaries are included in this number. There are about 50 military personnel engaged at Australia House, and the majority of the remainder are mostly Englishmen, as Senator Marriott has pointed out. It is high time that the heads of the various sections at Australia House knew something about Australia, and took an interest in people who make inquiries there. I realize, of course, that this matter will not come directly under the direction of the new Australian High Commissioner, Sir Eric Harrison, but I hope that he will direct attention to it so that people who inquire at Australia House about conditions in Australia will be given correct information. It is disheartening for people who come to this country from England to find that conditions here are different from what they were led to believe at Australia House.
As Senator Anderson has said, Australia House occupies an unrivalled site on an island in the Strand. People who are considering coming to Australia should be able to obtain reliable information there. I hope that, before the Estimates for next year are presented, a considerable improvement in this connexion will be effected.
– 1 should be glad if the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) would furnish me with some information on the Office of Education. I understood that its activities were declining, but the proposed vote for salaries this year is £173,000, compared with an expenditure under this heading of £121,543 last year. This increased expenditure seems to indicate that the office has renewed certain activities on a large scale. I should like to know just what work will be undertaken by the Office of Education in this financial year. Are publications by the office available to the public? I should like the Minister to inform me of the. various activities in which the Office of Education engages.
– I am glad that several honorable senators have referred to Australia House, and I should like to say, very briefly, that I hope that, with the advent of a new Australian High Commissioner in England, a higher standard of efficiency will be attained at Australia House. In common with other honorable senators, I also have received reports about the unsatisfactory manner in which visitors to Australia House are attended to. While I discount many of the complaints, I am convinced that not all of them are exaggerations. A year or two ago, my wife visited London. From her description of the manner in which she was received at Australia House, I should say that she was subjected to casual indifference, amounting almost to rudeness. I should mention that she did not reveal, initially, that her husband was a senator, but when that rather dreadful truth dawned on the officials, the effect was remarkable. I should like to relate one particular incident. My wife sought an interview with a high official in order to obtain certain information, to which she was properly -entitled. That official actually sat down in his office to discuss the matter without even offering her a chair. This is typical of the attitude that is adopted in Australia House; it should not be allowed to continue. I join with other honorable senators in expressing the hope that the appointment of Sir Eric Harrison - a new broom, so to speak - will result in a higher degree of efficiency at Australia House, and the display by the officials at that very important place, of more care and courtesy when dealing with visitors.
– 1 have quite a bit to answer for. I shall deal first with the question that was asked by Senator Pearson, and which was also referred to by Senator Arnold, concerning the purpose of the Office of Education. This is a small Commonwealth instrumentality which is concerned primarily with educational and associated activities in which the Commonwealth has some responsibility. lt consists of a central office in Sydney and very small branch offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The major activities undertaken by the office include advice and assistance to Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities in educational matters; planning of educational programmes and the provision of teaching material associated with the education of adult migrants; international relations in education, including Unesco; the provision of information about education; planning and/ or the administration of certain training schemes, such as the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme; training of students under the Colombo plan and similar schemes, particularly at universities.
At this stage, I should like to reply to a question that was asked by Senator Benn. The students who come to Australia under the Colombo plan are provided for not under the proposed vote for the Office of Education, but under another vote. We also send trainee technicians to countries from which the Colombo plan students come.
During the year which has just passed, the staffing of the Office of Education was re-organized, on the advice of the Public Service Board, so that the office could deal with a changed and increased work load. There was a general increase in the amount of work that the office was called upon to carry out, particularly in conducting educational inquiries on matters of interest to the Government. This work is expected to continue at its present level. The office has also been asked to undertake considerably increased activities in relation to Colombo plan training. The number of students under this scheme has increased from 200 to almost 800 in a little over a year, and the additional establishment provided for this work - allowing for increases to come during the remainder of 1956 - amounts to some 40 positions. All of these are not necessary at once, and corresponding savings are shown. The costs involved in Colombo plan activities are met by the Department of External Affairs, under Division 217K - Item 1 - Colombo plan.
I come now to a matter that was raised by you, Mr. Chairman, concerning the provision of teachers in the Australian Capital Territory and in other Commonwealth Territories. Financial provision for these teachers, is made, not in the proposed vote, but in the votes for the Territories, or Canberra as the case may be. Arrangements still exist under which South Australia provides teachers for the Northern Territory, and New South Wales provides teachers for the Australian Capital Territory, at Commonwealth expense.
– There are very few publications.
– 1 have not the details offhand but the publications are few and are not very varied. I shall ascertain particulars for the honorable senator and let him know. I think that covers the points raised by Senator Pearson and Senator Benn.
asked about Australia House, as did also Senator Vincent. My own personal experience has not been as unfortunate as those related by the respective senators. Even before it was known downstairs that I was a senator, Miss Strella Wilson and her staff treated me with the utmost courtesy. Miss Wilson and her downstairs staff are doing a magnificent job. Sir Edwin McCarthy, the Deputy High Commissioner, and now acting High Commissioner, has a vast knowledge of Australian primary industry and is probably one of the best negotiators on international trade agreements.
– Unfortunately, he does not see anybody.
– That may be unfortunate. I think that a lot of resentment occurs because of the fact that the
High Commissioner and the Deputy High Commissioner are tremendously busy men engaged not in social activities but in international deals, the negotiation of trade treaties and the encouragement of markets for our expanding primary and secondary products. They are tremendously busy men. and half an hour a day would be the maximum they could devote to social calls. Unfortunately, some irresponsible and unthinking parliamentarians, both Federal and State, give to their constituents who are travelling overseas, a note to call on the High Commissioner or the Deputy High Commissioner. That is most unreasonable. If they were to see these people they would be fully occupied even if they allowed only five or ten minutes to each visitor. A lot of resentment is due to a lack of understanding of the fact that the Commissioner and his deputy are busy men. I am not saying there is no room for improvement, but 1 think that Australia is very fortunate to have serving it men of the calibre of Sir Edwin McCarthy.
Senator Anderson referred to the upkeep of Australia House. Considerable increases have .been due to things entirely beyond the control of the Government. For instance, the valuation of the Australia House property was recently increased from £20,000 to £50,000 and, of course, the rates went up accordingly. In regard to the upkeep of Australia House, approximately half the upkeep vote represents wages of the upkeep staff. The pay increment granted as from 1st April, 1956, will account for an additional expenditure of £1,265 in 1956-57. Fuel, gas and electricity charges have been increased and will cost an additional £2,015. Cleaning of marble and ceilings in the main hall of Australia House will cost £2,510, and repairs to casement steel windows, £625. Expenditure in 1955-56 was apportioned as follows: Wages of upkeep staff, £33,054; cleaning, £17,997; fuel, light and power, £11,180; maintenance (mainly supplies), £6,687; and miscellaneous, £3,562, making a total of £72.480.
In regard to the temporary staff in the Public Service, I agree with Senator Critchley that it is a pity that men and women who have been engaged in the Public Service for many years are still classified as temporary when, to all intents and purposes, they are as permanent as a temporary building in Canberra. I understand that the Public Service Board is making it easier, or should I say less difficult, for those prepared to do so to qualify for permanent employment. The ideal which Senator Critchley wishes to see has not yet been attained, but the board is moving in that direction. Senator Critchley also inquired about examinations. An examination pass is necessary for entrance to the service. The board is faced with a deteriorating recruitment situation, and to obtain at least a share of the recruits offering it is essential that its campaign should reach at least parity with that of its competitors. To assist this campaign it is proposed to produce a film suitable for screening at careers exhibitions, schools, &c. Another expense connected with examinations arises from the fact that examiners have to be paid. For the year 1956-57 the proposed vote under this heading is £13,300. Last year the expenditure was £13,940, although the vote was £14,300. The saving was possibly due to the transfer of some examinations to the control of the Postal Department. All persons entering the Public Service must pass some form of examination, and examiners have to be paid.
Senator Aylett referred to the disparity between the amount allocated for the salaries of permanent employees in Australia House, namely £175,000, compared with £251,000 for temporary and casual employees. It is wrong to think that if one goes into Australia House he will see only Australians. Apart from the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner and the Official Secretary there are representatives of the Department of Customs and Excise, and the Department of Trade as well as other senior officers connected with the services. However, in the scheme of things the bulk of employees in the lower grades such as stenographers, clerks and messengers, must be recruited locally; otherwise the Australian Government would be involved in tremendous expense in paying the fares to and fro of staff members and their wives and families.
– Visitors to Australia House see only employees.
– That is not quite right. A lot depends on how lucky one can be. In the scheme of things, it is obvious one person cannot be in two places at the one time. I am not saying that some people have not been extremely unfortunate in striking, possibly, very rude attendants. I am sure that all who complained cannot be wrong. However, my own personal experience and the experience of others who have spoken to me indicate that that is not the general tenor of things; and it is certainly not the policy of the High Commissioner or of Miss Strella Wilson.
– Could not a staff of say four or five be employed to meet people who come from Australia?
– Some members of the staff are there for that express purpose. I think the position has considerably improved as the result of steps that have been taken from time to time.
An increase in the salaries of those engaged in Australia House occurred recently because margins were increased in the British Public Service, and the salaries of employees in Australia House were increased accordingly. That cost the Australian Government about £22,000.
– I should like some information on the item “Travelling and Subsistence. £32,500” under Section B of Division 12 - Public Service Board. Expenditure last year on this item was £22,787, and provision is made for an increase of almost £10,000. The provision for travelling expenses for other departments is not so high. There has not been a large increase of staff, and I should like to know why such a marked increase in the provision for travelling and other expenses is necessary.
– The expenses to which the honorable senator has referred fluctuate because officers travel more extensively in some years than they do in others.
– The expenses are not fluctuating; they are rising.
– That is a fluctuation upwards. Inspections of Australian posts overseas in 1956-57 will include visits to Noumea, Dili, in Portuguese Timor, and the United States of America. Greater expenditure will be incurred in some cases because travelling is not constant from year to year. During this financial year, we are planning a relief of the Public Service Board’s London representative an J trie exchange or an officer oi the board a Stan with the Canadian Civil Service, in connexion with the Colombo plan, in view of a request from Sarawak for the assistance of the board in establishing in-service training courses in that country and the likelihood of similar requests from Indonesia and Singapore, it is considered that the services of an experienced officer of the board’s staff may be required in those countries. The Estimates include an item of £600 which is a carry-over from the costs of the overseas visit by the chairman of the Public Service Board to the United Kingdom which began in May, 1956. In addition, the board’s Canberra-based Organization and Methods Staff will be required to make protracted interstate investigations which will mean heavier payments by way of travelling allowance. Overseas travel this year will cost £6,200 more than in 1 955-56. In addition to this, travelling allowance rates have been increased by approximately one-third.
– Will the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) give the committee the names of the officers who are to make the inspections of overseas posts? This work is very important as the posts do valuable work for Australia and the Government is likely to accept the advice of the officers who inspect them. Will the Parliament be given the benefit of the information that is brought back to Australia by the inspecting officers?
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandAttorneyGeneral and Minister for the Navy) [5.391. - The honorable senator has misunderstood me. We do not send officers abroad merely for the purpose of obtaining information. They go abroad to inspect and return to make a report, but it is not the sort of report that could be tabled in the Parliament. Their reports go to the department concerned and to the Public Service Board. The relevant information is extracted from their reports and is interpreted in the whole administration of the Public Service. We do not propose to send experts to Ti-“o- Indonesia and Sarawak to learn about public administration. 1 think it could he said fairly that we would not regard those countries as being more progressive than we are in matters of public administration. I uo not know who will be sent abroad to inspect our posts, but they will be senior men who will be fitted to assimilate the information that is available, return to Australia and interpret the knowledge that they have gained.
.- I wish to direct attention to the proposed vote for the High Commissioner’s Office in London and to the large number of supernumerary and temporary employees in the Public Service. I have heard the explanation that has been given by the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan). I heard it last year also, and unless something is done in this connexion, we shall hear the same explanation next year.
– Certainly we shall hear the same complaints.
– What does the Government intend to do to correct the anomalies in connexion with the large number of temporary employees in the Public Service? The Minister has suggested that the number is being reduced. If that is so, the rate of reduction is very slow.
– Is the honorable senator referring to Australia House or to the general situation?
– I was referring to the matter generally, but I shall refer to Australia House also. Unfortunately, one meets in Australia House employees who have little knowledge of Australia. I visited London a few years ago and although I have not a brogue that suggests that I have come from any particular part of the United Kingdom, some of the replies that I received to inquiries about the possibility of emigrating to Australia were very illuminating. The officers of Australia House went to considerable trouble to tell me something about Australia that was not altogether on the beam. If persons who go to Australia House meet an officer who has a knowledge of Australia, the complaints will disappear.
I should like the Leader of the Government in the Senate to inform the committee whether he will submit a report during this sessional period on the progress that has been made towards correcting the unfortunate position in the Public Service in connexion with temporary officers. Many men and women serve in the Commonwealth Public Service for years, believing that they are secure in their employment. Then they find that they are passed over by juniors. Only recently one department spent a large amount of money upon advertisements in the press calling for applications for certain positions. I made inquiries, and 1 was told that the positions were already filled. Despite that practice, departments continue to insert advertisements in the daily press throughout Australia at great cost. Newspaper advertising is one of our most expensive items at present. This thing is going on continually. When one makes inquiries, one finds that the position has already been filled. Surely, the matter is worth looking at. Surely, there should be more than a promise by the Minister to look at the matter. He should get right on to it and endeavour to remove the cause of complaint. When the Estimates are presented every year, honorable senators complain and the Minister replies; but the same thing happens in the following year. When will some action be taken? It is idle for the Minister to talk about it as he has in the past.
– 1 shall endeavour to obtain the number of employees in the Public Service who have graduated from temporary to permanent rank during the last twelve months, and inform the Senate accordingly.
– As Senator Sheehan said, the position is that in the daily press all over Australia positions that do not exist are advertised. Why should they be advertised?
– We do not do it.
– Provision is made for it, and we have to pay. As Senator Sheehan has said, the cost of advertising to-day is very great. The positions are fixed and filled before the advertisements are inserted. If the Chairman of the Public Service Board were put on oath, he would admit that what Senator Sheehan has said and what I say is correct - that positions are filled before they are advertised.
– I should like to say a few words about Australia House in London. I do not intend to blame this Government for the state of affairs over there. I was there when a Labour government was in office, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) will be pleased to know that I have something adverse to say about the situation that existed at that time. I repeat that 1 do not want to blame this Government. Speaking broadly, the whole psychology at Australia House is an English psychology. I suppose that I still speak with a bit of a twang, but some of the English people over there did not believe that I was really an Australian. Honorable senators are laughing, but there is nothing laughable about it; I am serious about this.
– I cannot hear the honorable senator.
– I am sorry. That is the honorable senator’s loss. However, I shall ensure that he hears now. If I may use the expression, the people over there took me to their bosom, and I am not referring to some of the good-looking English girls. But the outlook of Australia House is, more than anything else, that of a social organization.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the people who meet the visitors?
– I am referring to the staff, to their psychology, and the way in which Australians are treated. That might be all right for Senator O’sullivan, the Prime Minister, or somebody else of that status; they get entree straight away and have everything placed at their disposal. I discovered that ordinary visitors from New South Wales, for example, could not be bothered with Australia House but would go to see Mr. Tully, who was then the New South Wales Agent-General in London. He would give one more real information in five minutes than most of the people who had apples in their throats could give one in a week.
– The honorable senator means plums.
– Probably, the AgentsGeneral of the other States are just as capable. I am not suggesting that they are not as capable; but naturally, if one comes from Western Australia, he goes to see the Western Australian Agent-General. The Agents-General, as a whole, are much better informed than are the people at Australia
Mouse, who have not got Australia in their bones at all. The building itself is not conducive to the proper attitude; it is a most extraordinary building. It reminds me of the following rhyme: -
The grand old Duke of York, He had ten thousand men, He marched them up the hill of Lough, And he marched them down again. And when they were up, they were up. And when they were down, they were down. And when they were only half way up, They were neither up nor down.
Business seems to be done in the middle of Australia House. I discovered that they had a “ grapevine “ there, although I suppose they had never heard of that word. One woman in particular was most offensive. As far as I could see, her knowledge of English - and I have a little knowledge of it - was not very profound.
– Perhaps, she could not understand the honorable senator’s Scotch.
– The honorable senator would be able to understand it if I were to offer him a drink. This is all in good part; even Senator O’sullivan is smiling a bit. This state of affairs has existed over the last 40 or 50 years. I repeat that 1 am not blaming this Government. There is nothing but a series of afternoon teas, receptions and introductions to the Duke of Buccleuch or the duke of somewhere else. Everybody is delighted to meet such people, but the ordinary Australian is not getting a go at all. lt does not matter whether the High Commissioner is Sir Eric Harrison, or was the late Jack Beasley or anybody else; as soon as one goes in he feels that he is looked upon as being inferior. As the Honorable Eddie Graham, who is Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, said, they have boomerangs and so forth in the windows. That is the way in which they still look at us, and we deserve it. Although I cannot see anything in Ned Kelly to glorify, we glorify fellows like him, and that forms the basis of the psychology of the people over there. They have heard about Ned Kelly, about the cricketers, and about one or two other things. I repeat that, when one enters Australia House, he is looked upon by these people as being inferior.
– As a colonial?
– Well, we know what happened to our friend, Mr. Menzies. Although he claims to be a Scotsman, he said he was a proud colonial boy, but he has never done any good since. However, I am serious about this matter. An enormous sum of money is expended on Australia House, but I am quite satisfied that we do not get value for it. I had a talk to some of the staff, but they had no idea about Australian industry. They might know the size of the country or something like that, but they have no idea of the size of the cities or what sort of country Australia is. They have the old idea that we acquired at school - that it rains once every two or three years. What has struck me lately as being extraordinary is that people who, one would have thought, would not criticize Australia House so much - big business people, and even squatters - have said that they could not obtain any information over there. I think the whole set-up is entirely wrong.
When I entered the office of the High Commissioner for Canada in London, I found that the staff consisted almost wholly of Canadians. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that it is necessary to have a number of English people at Australia House. One can go to them and ask where Cannington is, whether they know this firm or that firm, or what is the position at Brighton, Salisbury or somewhere else; but I think the psychology of the whole place is wrong. I have been told by all kinds of people that when they go to Australia House in London they get fed up and go round to see Pat Buckley or the representative from Western Australia or Tasmania, as the case may be, who are able to furnish the information one requires. The whole place needs to be re-organized from top to bottom. Far too much money is expended on the social aspect of it.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Australia House, as a building, is not conducive to the efficient carrying on of business. I discovered when I visited it, as many Australian citizens in London have discovered, that in order to get anything worthwhile done or to find out anything reliable about Australia, it is necessary to approach one of the several State agents-general. Personally, I had to depend on my friend Mr. Tully, the then New South Wales Agent-General, and I am informed that the present New South Wales Agent-General, Mr. Pat Buckley, is in great demand by people who want to know something about Australia.
It would be an easy matter to have representatives from each State in Australia House to give authentic information about Australia.I found that everything was so Anglicized that even those on the staff who were Australian born had developed a pronounced English accent after working in Australia House for only a short time. They seemed to be more interested in the date of the next garden party at Buckingham Palace than in selling wool or other Australian products. Mr. Graham, the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, who returned only recently from a visit to England, said that the same old advertisements were on display in Australia House that were placed there thirty years ago, including pictures of aborigines with their boomerangs. That sort of thing does not present Australia in a proper light. When I visited Australia House, I met an English girl and she either assumed, or somebody must have hold her, that I was not Australian born. Anyway, she opened her heart to me, and I found that she was not only not pro-Australian; she was actually anti-Australian.
The Minister has said that it is necessary to employ a large number of English people at Australia House in order to direct visitors how to find their way about the vast city of London. That may be so, but it was obvious to me that few of the staff in Australia House really understood Australia. They seemed to have developed a Ned Kelly psychology there. At the present time, a play depicting the life of Ned Kelly is being presented at Newtown, in Sydney. I know that some Australians in the early days tended to create an unfortunate impression by talking too much about convicts. When I was in Tasmania, I suggested to the Premier that the remains of the old convict settlement there should be removed.
– I agree.
– Even though it is a place of historic interest, it presents Australia in a very bad light. In my opinion, all the relics of the convict system at Port Arthur should be blown up. Tasmania is certainly a beautiful place, particularly the Derwent Valley, where the opera “ Maritana “ was written. AfterI had visited TasmaniaI regarded it in a different light, but I heard a great deal of talk about convicts, and about Ned Kelly. IfI could find any redeeming features in Ned Kelly I should be pleased to discuss them.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Miscellaneous Services - Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed Vote, £2,938,000.
– In Division 214, Prime Minister’s Department, there appears item 32, Royal Commission on Espionage. Last year a vote of £56,000 was approved, and of that sum £42,230 was spent. That is quite a large sum for such an item. This year, £6,000 is provided under this heading, and many honorable senators want to know how the money will be spent.
– The sum of £6,000 is required this financial year to meet outstanding fees for counsel, and some other minor items of expenditure connected with the Royal Commission on Espionage.
– I am rather disappointed at the amounts to be granted to the Surf Lifesaving Association, the Royal Lifesaving Society, the Australian Lifesaving Society, the Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association. I propose to say something about the amount allocated to the Royal Commission on Espionage. Wherever we look in the Estimates, we find that the amounts to be provided this year are greater than those voted last year except when it comes to the grants to be made to the organizations I have mentioned. We have just been speaking about anincreased amount for the High Commissioner’s Office in London, and the reason given for the increase is the higher cost of administration and so on. I remind the Senate that costs to be met by the organizations to which I have referred have also increased; in fact, they have been increasing over the years, yet the grants made to them have remained static each year. In my view, the Government is being niggardly towards these essential voluntary organizations, some of which play a most important part in that they are responsible for the saving of many lives.
I rise to protest at what I call the Government’s cutting down of these grants. It is a cutting down, in effect, because the grants being made this year will not have the same purchasing value as a similar amount would have had last year or in any preceding year, if we look at the matter in its proper perspective, we must admit, for instance, that both the Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association are playing as important a part in the community as is the national service training scheme. Our national service trainees are certainly taught discipline, but beyond that they learn very little; yet the Government is spending millions of pounds each year on it. The Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association, on the other hand, train their members in discipline and also teach them many things. The work done . by these organizations is just as important to the country as national service training. Despite their importance, the Government proposes granting only £5,000 to the Boy Scouts Association and £2,000 to the Girl Guides Association. The sums are niggardly, as are the grants proposed for the various lifesaving organizations to which I have referred, lt cannot be denied that money is not available to-day as it was even last year.
The Leader of the Government has explained that the extra money to be voted this year in respect of the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia is required for counsels’ fees. Are we to take it from his explanation that Mr. Petrov finds it necessary to seek legal advice from time to time? ls counsel permanently engaged for him? This has been a costly item for Australia and it is high time Mr. Petrov stood on his own feet. It seems harsh to expect the taxpayers of Australia to agree to the continual allocation of funds for the benefit of Mr. Petrov. After all, a man who will turn traitor to one country must be looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion because there can be no doubt that at some opportune time, if it is profitable for him to do so, he will turn traitor to any country. I repeat that he will betray any country if it is to his personal benefit to do so.
– He will still tell the truth.
– That is very doubtful, indeed. If the honorable senator would only take the trouble to sift the evidence given by Petrov and others on his behalf before the Royal Commission on Espionage, and if he applies an unbiased mind to the study, he cannot doubt what I have said. Further, if Petrov was telling the truth, then many good Australians could be charged with perjury on the evidence they gave before that royal commission. I- prefer to accept the word of those good Australians, who have never been traitors to their country, before that of Petrov. I am concerned about the thought that the taxpayers are being asked to provide money for the benefit of Petrov, who may require legal advice in the future. The Minister might give us a little information about this item when he replies.
– I rise merely to answer Senator Aylett, and I am confident that at least half the members of his party will agree with what I have to say. Senator Aylett has complained about the grants being made by the Parliament. I remind him that it is the Parliament, not the Government, that makes the grants and, therefore, this debate should not be conducted on party political lines. Most of the associations and organizations mentioned would be very sorry to know that the grants made to them by the Parliament have been made the subject of party political pander in the hope of gaining perhaps some votes or some notoriety. It is a well-known fact that these grants are arranged by negotiation between the Government and the associations and organizations concerned for periods of two, three or four years. These organizations are very grateful to this Government for the grants made to them year after year,, grants of a kind which the Labour government never thought of giving to them.
Senator Aylett seeks to traduce the Government because the amounts have not been increased this year. He compared the proposed grants with the vote for the High Commissioner’s Office in London, but if he knew anything about the wonderful organizations which are working for the youth and fitness of the people of this country, he would know that they do not expect the Commonwealth Government to give them increasing amounts each year. For his information, I point out that these organizations want only a fair deal; they want financial support only upon a fair basis. They do not want the help of people like Senator Avlett. They, with their many friends, through their own activities, will find the money required to meet the increased costs of conducting their affairs. All I can say about these items is that this Parliament should be very happy at the thought that the Government has incorporated them in ihe Estimates again this year.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia) t8. 1 9]. - 1 rise to speak about the proposed provision for flood relief. I note, with some degree of disturbance, that it is not proposed to allocate a sum of money to South Australia - or even to Victoria. I am mainly concerned with the position as it exists in South Australia, and so I shall confine my remarks to that State. It will be recalled that I spoke about this matter in this chamber on a previous occasion, and at that time I made certain suggestions to the Government. 1 regret that none of those suggestions has been carried into effect, because I believe that if that had been done the people in the flooded areas of the Murray would have benefited greatly.
I refer now to the matter that I raised ‘ in respect, of employing people - who had been displaced from their employment because of the floods - in the immediate vicinity on the two projects of keeping Back the floodwaters and assisting in the rehabilitation of the damaged areas along the river banks. It will also be remembered that I advocated very strongly that some temporary accommodation should be provided for the people whose homes had been inundated by the floods. Again, no action appears to have been taken by the Government along the lines that I suggested.
I want to emphasize strongly that although some considerable time has elapsed since disaster came to South Australia and parts of Victoria, to the best of my knowledge not one senior member of the Government has visited the devastated areas. When we consider that at least four or five Ministers made a somewhat unsuccessful venture into the Barker electorate within the last few weeks to assist in having a supporter of the Government parties elected, it is astonishing that not one Minister has attempted to observe at first hand the very grave difficulties that have been caused by the floods in the area of the Murray River in South Australia. I consider that to be an indictment of this Government. I am not criticizing the rank and file supporters of the Government in this chamber and in another place, because some of my colleagues from
South Australia, who are supporters of the Government, have seen fit to acquaint themselves at first hand with the full facts of what is considered to be one of South Australia’s greatest disasters. I give them full credit for doing so, but I must condemn the senior members of this Government for failing to visit the devastated area in order to see for themselves the damage that has been caused by the disaster which has afflicted the people of the Murray Valley. 1 have received dozens of letters from people who live in those areas that have nol been very complimentary to the Government. Yesterday, 1 received a telegram from a resident of Renmark who drew attention to the fact that he considered that the Government, by failing to send a Minister to the Murray valley, had inflicted a slight on the people there who had suffered so much in the past few months. Now that some assessment can be made of the real damage that is showing itself in the inundated areas of South Australia and other States, I hope that the Government will take urgent and immediate steps to ensure that substantial sums of money are set aside for rehabilitation. When disasters take place there is a tendency on the part of governments to wait for a while to see what will happen, hoping to avoid, through the effluxion of time, some obligations that should fall upon them. The Government should take immediate measures to rehabilitate the devastated areas.
On an earlier occasion in this chamber I dealt with this matter, and stated that the old principle of Commonwealth assistance on a £l-for-£l basis according to the money allocated by a State should not be used in dealing with the situation now facing us in South Australia. I hope the’ Government will recognize that; I know that some honorable senators on the Government side already recognize it, and I give them full credit for that. I hope that they will join honorable senators on this side of the chamber in pressing the Government to give urgent and immediate consideration to ways of rehabilitating the devastated areas of the Murray valley.
– I desire to discuss the proposed vote for Division 214 - Prime Minister’s Department - Miscellaneous Services - flood relief, and I shall commence by referring to the matter which has just been dealt with by Senator Toohey. 1 assure the honorable senator that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself has a lively interest in the devastation that has taken place in the River Murray areas from the mouth of the river to Renmark. Because I am acquainted with a good deal of the damage that has occurred in the lower part of the area, the Prime Minister discussed this matter with me personally. As Senator Toohey could well know, the Prime Minister was able to make only a very fleeting visit to South Australia within the last fortnight. I assure the honorable senator, and also all other honorable senators, that the Prime Minister has a lively and detailed knowledge of the damage that has occurred, and that officials of the Commonwealth Treasury and the South Australian Treasury are at present working on the details of this matter.
I was rather taken aback not to see provision in the Estimates for flood relief for South Australia. In Division 214 - Prime Minister’s Department - item 38, provision of £115,000 is made for flood relief in New South Wales. Perhaps no provision was made for South Australia because at the time when these Estimates were prepared the effect of the floods in South Australia could not be accurately computed. lt should be realized that the floods occurred in New South Wales several months before the devastation in South Australia, and I believe that that is an explanation why provision has not been made under Division 214 for flood relief in South Australia. However, this matter will be speedily dealt with by the Parliament when a computation of some accuracy can be laid before us. I know that His Honour Judge Payne has been given the duty to work on flood assessment in South Australia. This learned gentleman holds a position as a judge of the Federal Court in Bankruptcy in Adelaide, and before his retirement was a distinguished member of the South Australian judiciary. Therefore, the assessment of the flood position in South Australia is well in hand. [ now desire to address myself to the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia. T refer to Division 214 - Prime Minister’s Department - item 32, Royal Commission on Espionage. Provision is there made for £6.000 in the present financial year. I invite the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) to the final paragraph in the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage. It reads -
In chapter 20 we have dealt with the law in Australia relevant to the matters set out in the Letters Patent. The substantive law is such that, when considered in conjunction with the technical legal rules governing the admissibility of evidence in courts of law, it would appear that prosecution of none of the persons whose acts we have considered in our Report would be warranted.
I invite the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the fact that a lively interest should be taken in the alteration of the present Commonwealth law on espionage. I feel thai the present is an opportunity to invite his attention to this matter, because it is expected that a further £6,000 will be expended this year on this royal commission. I consider that the law should be tidied up for the future, so that people who act in the way referred to by the royal commission could be adequately punished according to the law of this country.
I urge the Government to pay serious attention to what 1 have said about this matter.
The only other matter to which I refer is the proposed vote of £600 under item
II of Division 214 for. Historical Memorials of Representative Men, and the proposed vote of £2,000 under item 12 of that division for historical and other paintings. It is important for financial provision to be made yearly for those item?., because we have a duty to provide and maintain such memorials and paintings However, I direct the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) to the manner in which they are displayed in Parliament House. For instance, this morn - ing when I was attending a meeting in a room in this building, I noticed at a height of about 10 feet an excellent drawing of early Sydney. Because of the height at which it was hung, it could not be fully appreciated. In another position in the same room - Room No. L.58 - a hall stand has been placed in front of a painting which, obviously, cannot be fully seen. All through this building there are historical paintings and records that have been provided with money voted in previous years. The artistic works have been well done, buthe manner in which they are displayed leaves much to be desired.
Senator HENDRICKSON (Victoria i [8.33]. - I refer to item 38 of Division 214, “Flood Relief- New South Walesf 1 15,000 “, and to item 39 of the same division, “Flood Relief - Queensland - £100”. While I appreciate Senator Laught’s views on what should be done for South Australia, 1 am concerned about the position in Victoria.
– And about what will be done for Queensland?
– Yes. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has not demonstrated very well his interest in this matter.
– Would he have to tell you about it?
– As 1 received the largest vote of any Victorian senator at the last general election, at leas! the Prime Minister should extend to me that courtesy, even if Senator Scott does nol think that he should. Some of the people whom I represent suffered great losses in the recent floods. Of course, Senator Scott would not know anything about that.
– Order! The honorable senator should get back to his subject.
Seater HENDRICKSON. - It is futile for the right honorable gentleman to say that the Commonwealth is prepared to subsidize Victoria on a £l-for-£l basis for flood relief. Because of the present method of taxation, it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to provide substantial relief for those who have lost their all in the floods. Last year, £419,000 was voted for flood relief in New South Wales, compared with the proposed vote of £115,000 this year. And for flood relief in Queensland, £6.000 was voted last year, compared with the proposed vote of £100 this year. Surely the Government does not expect that £100 will relieve the distress of flood victims in Queensland. Perhaps it intends, at a later stage, to provide more money for this purpose. However, I think that provision should have been made in the Estimates now before us, which were prepared after the floods occurred. That should have been done to enable the South Australian and Victorian governments to plan relief for the flood victims in those States. As I said yesterday, it is necessary to plan relief of this kind. The party that I support believes in planning ahead to meet emergencies.
How can Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, plan relief for flood victims unless the Commonwealth says to him, “ We will make available to you £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 for the relief of the people who lost their all during the floods on the Murray “? A similar position exists in relation to South Australia. I assure honorable senators that it is impossible for the Victorian’ Government to provide adequate relief for the flood victims on the Victorian side of the Murray unless the Commonwealth makes a substantial contribution. I appeal to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) to bring my remarks forcibly to the notice of the Government.
I advert now to item 32 of Division 214, “ Royal Commission on Espionage - £6,000 “, to which I referred previously. J am not at all satisfied with the AttorneyGeneral’s statement that some of the proposed vote is for legal expenses that were incurred during the hearings of the royal commission.
– Lawyers do not wait so long for their money.
– I agree with Senator Grant. I also believe that when they earn their fees, they are entitled to be paid. I should like the Minister to furnish me with an itemized statement showing how the proposed vote will be expended. If the Commonwealth is to be called upon to pay an allowance, year after year, until Petrov goes back to beyond, it will be a very expensive matter. Unfortunately, the taxpayers have been called upon to pay this individual who, as another honorable senator on this side has rightly pointed out. could betray this country just as he betrayed his own. Why should the taxpayers of Australia be forced to continue to contribute to the upkeep of a man who was prepared to give his wife away, to trade her, to sell her if need be? I say frankly that this Parliament should not authorize payments in perpetuity to this individual, payments for which we are receiving nothing.
– I should like to make a few observations on the matter that was raised by Senator Toohey, with whom I find myself more or less in agreement on this occasion. Like Senator Toohey, I regret that a Minister has not visited the flooded areas of
South Australia. I should like the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to view the flood devastation in that State in order to be able to form an idea of the enormous cost that will be involved in rehabilitating the flood victims. 1 do not think the position is as bad as Senator Toohey suggests. In the first place, in Mr. Playford, South Australia has a premier who, to say the least, is never remiss in coming to the rescue of his people. He appreciates their difficulties to the full and he has done all in his power to alleviate their distress. Also, the South Australian Minister of Lands, Mr. Hincks, who is in charge of flood relief in that State, has worked night and day since this disaster struck the river Murray in his attempts to relieve the distress which the people have suffered.
In conversation with members of the South Australian Parliament, in particular Mr. King, who represents the division of Chaffey and who lives in a town adjacent to those which have suffered so badly, 1 have never been told that the Commonwealth Government is lacking in consideration for the welfare of the distressed people. Mr. King recognizes that the Commonwealth Government will have to come to the financial aid of those people, but no one has suggested that it will not live up to its responsibilities in that regard. In the first place we must remember that the river is still at a high level. Attempts at rehabilitation will not be possible for a considerable time. Those who fly over the river can see that it is still at a very high level, and before any work of rehabilitation can take place it will have to fall considerably. Secondly, the South Australian Government is not entirely without funds. As the saying is, it has a few hundred thousand pounds up its sleeve. It can devote that finance to immediate flood relief, and it has the assurance of the Commonweal h Government that whatever sum it contributes for flood relief will be subsidized on a £l-for-£l basts.
As Senator Toohey mentioned, there may be a case for providing the necessary labour for rehabilitation purposes, but T do not think the time has yet arrived for that to be done. Tt may arrive before very long, and when it does a tremendous labour force will be needed. But as vet the river level is so high that such work cannot be undertaken. Ample funds are available to carry 0 -lt the work necessary at the present time. There may be a case, as outlined by Senator Toohey, for temporary housing, but I again stress that in my conversations with members of the South Australian Parliament and the South Australian Minister concerned, I have received no evidence of distress caused by a shortage of housing accommodation in these particular areas. I am subject to correction on that one point.
The Commonwealth Government has given a definite’ assurance that it will subsidize the South Australian Government’s contribution for flood relief on a £l-for-£l basis. Enormous sums of money have been raised throughout the State on a voluntary basis as the result of a remarkable response by the people of South Australia. Apart from practical aid given, from a financial point of view a distress fund of over £200,000 has been built up. That is apart altogether from government aid. Before this year is out, a far greater allocation oi money will have to be made by the Commonwealth Government because the State government’s financial resources are definitely limited, although it can cope with the immediate difficulty.
I remind the Government that on this score it has a precedent in what was done after the Hunter River flood. In order to alleviate the tremendous distress that was caused in that area a large sum of money was added to the tax reimbursement allocation to which New South Wales was entitled. That sum, I think, amounted to £2,000,000. I am not in a position to estimate the damage that has been caused in South Australia but I suggest that a considerably larger sum will need to be added to the tax reimbursement of South Australia to enable it to overcome its trouble and rehabilitate those people who have suffered as a result of the floods. The position is being handled very well by those who are responsible for doing so in South Australia. We must recognize that the first responsibility rests upon the State of South Australia. Whilst I recognize that additional funds will ultimately need to be made available by the Commonwealth Government, which I do not think will be found lacking in that regard, the situation at present is satisfactory. I know that as a result of negotiations now going on between State and Federal Treasury officials, as outlined by Senator Laught, the position will be satisfactorily met.
– To-night two Government senators and two Opposition senators have directed attention to the problem of natural disasters in Australia. When one looks at the budget papers one sees two items providing for flood relief. Two other items, which this year have been left blank, relate to bush fire relief. ‘In other years there has nearly always been another item providing for drought relief. Year after year, we find these recurring items which sometimes run into millions of pounds and at other times are not so great.
The trouble appears to be that we are always asking the Government to do something after a disaster has occurred. As 1 have said on other occasions, I would prefer to see in the budget an amount of £4,000 or £5,000 provided for the setting up of a commission to investigate the possibility of an insurance scheme against floods, bush fires and other natural disasters. During the war years we were able quickly to set up a war-damage insurance scheme covering the whole of Australia against war damage. Fortunately, we did not have to meet very many claims under that scheme. Year after year, in certain parts of Australia natural disasters recur in the form of floods, bush fires, droughts and plagues, and people must seek relief in order to carry on. The time has long passed when the Government should take the initiative to prevent the recurrence of disasters. Senator should not need to plead with the Government to assist people who have been washed out or burnt out of their homes or in other ways have lost their all. I believe that the Commonwealth Government will have to meet the cost of these disasters. Knowing that that is the situation, surely the Government should plan in some reasonable way to meet these eventualities which must inevitably occur. The Government has not shown enough initiative in this matter. Disasters occur from time to time, and the Government has to compensate the victims for at least some of the damage and yet it has taken no steps to prepare a plan to meet such demands. Such a plan should have a basis of equality so that persons who lose everything in a national disaster have the right to recover their losses, and persons living in more protected places contribute to help those who are less fortunate.
In New South Wales, we have found people who go to the edges of rivers and use’ areas of land that are subject to flooding. They take a risk and when, unfortunately, they are washed out, they can only plead with the Government for assistance. There should be some control over farming and building in those areas. In the Maitland area, there are places which are in danger following the slightest rise in the river level. The Government should consider a scheme under which persons could insure themselves against the worst kinds of disasters. The people would be given protection and honorable senators would not have to plead continually with the Government for assistance to the victims of disasters.
– I direct attention to Division 214 - Prime Minister’s .Department, and the item dealing with historical memorials of representative men. Last year, the Government expended £1,514 under this item, and this year it proposes to expend only £600. 1 suppose that the item refers almost exclusively to appropriate memorials to representative Australians in Canberra, the national capital. They would be men who art deemed worthy of some recognition by the nation. Although I do not know Canberra intimately, I have been in the city long enough to observe that the national capita] is practically devoid of any historical memorials to great Australians. I do not believe that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is concerned personally with the expenditure of this small amount of £600, or that the right honorable gentleman has time to consider what memorials should be erected in Canberra. I assume that somebody else is responsible for the expenditure of the vote. I invite the Leader of the Government (Senator O’sullivan) to inform the committee who decides on the memorials to be erected and the standards that are adopted in relation to decisions on such matters.
There are no memorials in Canberra to men like Lawson or Kendall, the poets; to Blarney or Monash, the great Australian soldiers or to our great law-makers like Sir Isaac Isaacs. I could name many great Australians who have not been recognized in the national capital, lt is ludicrous to envisage the expenditure of £600 on historical memorials to great: Australians. That would not be sufficient to provide one decent memorial for one Australian. The proposition has become farcical. Last year, £1,514 was expended, and this year the Government will provide £600. Will that amount be divided again next year with a provision of £200 or less? This matter is important. The national capital is growing without any memorials to great Australians, and it is time that we did something about it.
.- In considering the items that are before the committee, I recognize the generosity thai was displayed last year by the Australian Government towards a number of deserving causes, particularly in connexion with flood relief. A large sum was given to New South Wales, a considerable amount was granted to Queensland, and we sent a gift to the United States of America. Flood relief was also given to India and Pakistan, i have been pleased to learn that arrangements are in train already to do something for South Australia in the way of flood relief but I look forward to a statement by a spokesman of the Government to the effect that it intends to do something for Victoria. After all, the border of Victoria along the Murray River extends for a much longer distance than does the border of South Australia, and the flood damage in Victoria has to be seen to be believed. It will be many years before the Murray Valley in Victoria recovers from the visitation thai afflicted it a few months ago. When one considers its value for primary production, one realizes that some big action is required from the Government to allay the distress of the people who have been afflicted by a calamity over which they have had no control. We have been told that the Government has been in communication with South Australian representatives and has assure ‘ them that relief for South Australia is we’i in hand. I look forward to hearing from the Government that similar arrangement1have been made to help Victoria. 1 wish to address myself briefly to statements that have been made in connexion with the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia.
– I thought so.
– I am glad that one honorable senator has indicated that he expected me to talk on this matter. If honorable senators on his side are entitled to discuss it, other honorable senators have the same right. I have no brief for Petrov or for anybody who is prepared to serve the cause of a Communist government. He was an informer, and persons with names like mine have never liked informers whether they appeared before royal commissions on espionage or the federal executives of political parties. Petrov did a job in placing before the Government information it required as to the way if. which certain government instrumentalitieswere being honeycombed by individuals who were working on behalf of a foreign power A similar job was done in Canada by a former Russian named Igor Gouzenko. He has been kept ever since by the Canadian Government for obvious reasons. When s> man does a job like that he becomes a marked man. He cannot move round a country or earn his living in the same way that other people can. In those circumstances, I am not going to kick up a fuss if he is provided with some form of sustenance as a result of the job he did.
I should like to ask whether we should not spend more time on condemnation of the infinitely larger sums that are being spent to-day by the Government of the Soviet Union for the purpose of purchasing the services of men who ought to be loyal to the democracies in which they were born. I suppose that whatever is being spent by this Government on Petrov is nothing compared with the amount that has been spent on Burgess and Maclean, who for years inside the Foreign Service of the British Government, betrayed their country. Today, those men are living in the Soviet Union in far greater luxury than that in which Petrov is living in this country. The Soviet Union is not only providing money for men like Burgess and Maclean, but is also providing large sums of money for men who were born in this country and who, year after year, go to Moscow allegedly for medical attention, cultural purposes, or to attend peace congresses, and whose services have been bought and paid for by the Soviet Union. They are the men whom I should like to hear condemned here in the same way that Petrov has been condemned before this catherine.
– Name them.
– If the honorable senator wants me to name them, 1 shall name Hill and Sharkey for a start.
– Name them all.
– I shall name Hill and Sharkey for a start. Within the last few weeks they have come back from Russia which they visited in order to learn further ways in which they might endeavour to betray their country. There are certain people in this chamber who would not accept my advice, but who would be well advised to forget about Petrov, because the whole business has not done them any good. There are more important things than Petrov to be discussed in this country. He has shown us the things that are happening, and 1 hope that, instead of endeavouring to blacken him and other people, we shall set to work to ascertain who are the people engaged in doing the sort of work that he told us about but who have not yet been found out.
– I am not quite satisfied with the reply that was given by Senator Marriott, who seems to have superseded the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan), nor with the explanation about the proposed expenditure of £6,000 on the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia that was given on behalf of Senator O’sullivan by Senator McManus. I still want to know whether the Minister will answer my question and furnish me with” the information that I sought. I wish to make it perfectly clear that at no time did I attempt to take or even think about taking any credit from the Surf Life Saving Association, the Royal Life Saving Society, the Australian Life Saving Society, the Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association for the great services that they have performed. I spoke nothing but words of praise for the work they are doing. When I asked whether it was possible to increase the proposed grants, I was accused of trying to belittle them and of being a member of a party that has done nothing for them in the past. We know perfectly well that Senator Marriott was not here - he probably was not sufficiently interested in his country - when the Australian Labour party was in office, and would not know what we did for the rising generation.
– 1 happened to be overseas for quite a long time.
– We did more for them than provide for physical culture and physical fitness. Many benefits such as hospital and medical benefits have been taken from them by this Government, and Senator Marriott has been a party to that action. He talks about what we have done in the past, but, as we well know, he has done nothing but handicap the rising generation of Australia.
Senator Marriott interjecting,
– I still hope that we shall hear a cool explanation from the Minister. I note that Senator Marriott, who is so fond of interjecting, did not refer to my question about the proposed expenditure of £6,000 on the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia when he was replying on behalf of the Minister. I do not accept Senator McManus’s statement on that item. I should like to know from the Minister whether the proposed expenditure of this sum is, as was indicated by Senator McManus, for the purpose of paying a subsidy to or for keeping Petrov, or for his protection. If it is for something of that kind, let us learn it from the Minister instead of receiving it second-hand through Senator McManus. When I ask the Minister, I mean to ask the Minister and not an under-strapper on the other side of the chamber who was not here at the relevant time and so is not able to speak on matters that he knows nothing about.
– I feel rather guilty following the suggestion by Senator Aylett that the donations to be made to the Boy Scouts Association, the life saving societies, andthese other worthy institutions, have not been increased. I shall join with him in increasing my subscriptions to these worthy causes from now on. That was a point well made for all of us. I think we should double the subscriptions that we have been giving personally over the years. In regard to the criticism of the Petrov commission, I am quite sure that Senator Aylett does not echo the sentiments of anything like the majority of honorable senators opposite.
– T am seeking information, and I am entitled to it.
– Senator Aylett said that it was a very costly commission. I do not know whether he used the word “ failure “, but that was the implication of his attack on the commission. I should like him to know that three impeccable judges, men of outstanding integrity and ability in three separate States, happened to find that Petrov was a very reliable and competent witness. Those whom the judges criticized for their unreliability were the Communists who were assisting in the destruction of our institutions. If Senator Aylett wants to stand up and defend those traitors, let him rise and say so now.
– Tell us what the £6,000 is for.
– I shall come to the £6,000. The whole point is that inherent in Senator Aylett’s criticism of the Petrov commission was an attack on it. It was suggested also that the money expended was a waste of money. It was not wasted. The only people who criticize the Petrov commission are the enemies of democracy and of our own country. The money that has been spent on it has been of considerable value to the members of the free world. I’ can understand Senator Aylett’s attitude and that of those whom he wants to defend, but I am glad to see that he is practically alone on that side of the House. If it will be of any comfort to the honorable senator and will enable him to go back to tell his friends, I shall give him the details of the proposed expenditure of £6,000. lt includes £5,700 uncollected fees for barristers and solicitors. That is expenditure which has been incurred, but which has nothing whatever to do with any allowance or payment to Mr. Petrov or Mrs. Petrov. I repeat that it is for the payment of legal expenses already incurred.
– Has Dr. Evatt been fully paid?
– I do not know what he got for appearing for the Communist party. I have not seen that. Dr. Evatt was quite entitled to be paid.
– Lift it up a bit!
– That remark was not intended to be funny. The printing and distribution of the transcript of evidence cost £40, telephones £100 and miscellaneous costs £160. The total expenditure provided for is £6,000. As to flood relief, as Australians, we have no State boundaries in our sympathy and consideration for those who have suffered in the areas of devastation and destitution, whether from flood, fire, drought, or any other untoward cause. We are living in a real world, but the Commonwealth Government has no authority to go into an area that has been devastated by flood and say, “ We will get on with this job of repair work”. It has no constitutional authority to do so, and until the Constitution is changed, the very most that the Commonwealth can do is to communicate immediately with the State concerned, which alone has the authority to undertake repair or relief work. The Commonwealth can say to the State, “ This is your job; we will not tell you what to do, how to do it, where to start or where to finish, but whatever you do we will match you £1 for £1 in whatever expenditure is involved “.
– Does not the Minister think that the States would meet the Commonwealth on a £l-for-£l basis to set up a flood insurance scheme?
– Senator Arnold knows that the States, rightly or wrongly, are very jealous of their sovereignty. The Commonwealth has no legal authority to walk in and do any repair work. If it were to make such an attempt, the State government concerned could legally compel it to cease. I say again that the most the Commonwealth can do is to make money available for relief, and that it does. Over the last two years it has provided approximately £904,000.
Senator Laught, who also raised this matter, was correct in saying that the reason that no provision appears in the Estimates for flood relief in South Australia is that the Estimates that the committee is now discussing were prepared before a reliable estimate of the amount required for the relief of South Australian flood distress could be made. However, provision has been made, and further provision will be made out of the Treasurer’s fund, to grant relief on a £l-for-£l basis.
The undertaking of an overall, composite scheme under which relief could be granted, and something of a preventive nature done, would depend entirely on the co-operation of the States, because it would involve works of which the States must approve. I remind honorable senators, not in this context, but in general terms, that over the years, matters of this kind have been discussed at Loan Council meetings and elsewhere, and the Commonwealth Government has tried to get some co-ordination with the States, or an agreement of some sort of priority as to the order in which works should be undertaken, that would be financed by the Australian Loan Council. Attempts of that kind have been made by Commonwealth governments of all political complexions, but so far. no agreement has been reached. I hope that the day will come when flood prevention works can be undertaken in association with the States. It is far better to spend money on flood prevention than to be obliged to provide it for flood relief.
After hearing the eloquent pleas by Senator Toohey, Senator Laught and Senator Hannaford on behalf of South Australia, Senator McManus voiced Victoria’s claims. I understand that a responsible Minister of the Victorian Government will be in Canberra within a few days to discuss with the Commonwealth the question of flood relief. Senator Toohey chided the Government because no Commonwealth Minister made a personal inspection of the flooddevastated areas in South Australia. Tha’ is not a valid criticism. Ministers arc neither omniscient nor ubiquitous, and ; personal inspection of the devastated areas by a Minister would have done no more than to add a personal word of sympathy and understanding to those bereft and suffering, lt would not have added anything to the work of restoration which must be undertaken by the State government, and not by the Federal Government. Nevertheless, officers from the Treasury visited the affected areas, and although the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had to go abroad soon after the floods took place, he gave instructions to be kept closely and intimate informed of developments, lt is unfair to assume that because no Minister wa. present on the scene, the Commonwealth Government did not understand the suffering of those affected by the floods, or di. not feel deeply with them in their tragic losses.
Senator Vincent has suggested that we arc not sufficiently appreciative of the great men who have gone before, and I agree with him. However, I should be distressed to think that the amount provided in the item to which the honorable senator referred is a complete indication of the measure of affection and respect that we have for those to whom we owe so much. In the scheme of things, however, money is not made available until after a commission has been granted for the painting of some eminent statesman, either living or deceased, Rmc! the sum of £600 is not necessarily the maximum amount that will be expended. It will depend on what commissions ar<. sought and granted from time to time.
– I wish to say something about item 32, Royal Commission on Espionage. Tonight, much has been said about Petrov, but as Omar Khayyam wrote, we have come out by the same door wherein we went. For the past twelve months, honorable senators on this side have been trying to find out what the Government is doing to keep this fellow Petrov, and to-night we have heard a lit.le, but only a very little. One of our friends - if I can call him a friendspoke about what happened in Canada in similar circumstances, but there was a gre difference between what happened ir. Canada and what happened in Australia.
– How would the honorable senator know what happened in Canada?
– I would not bother to try to tell Senator Cole what happened in Canada. It is said that in Ireland they do not like informers, and other things that I will not mention. I happened to be in Canada when the investigation of a person similar to Petrov was made, but the proceedings were not used for political purposes as they were here. There, a preliminary hearing was conducted in secret. In Australia the so-called chief of the Australian investigation service appeared, and his photograph was published on the front pages of newspapers throughout the world. It was as though he were calling every one’s attention to himself, “ Here 1 am, Colonel Spry, the chief of the investigation service “. The Government professes to have no time for Communists or their friends, but when it can ret a Communist rat to help in its activities, everything, is quite all right. If there is anything worse than a Communist, it is an exCommunist.
Senator Cole interjecting,
– I ask the honorable senator to be quiet. He is the worst possible example of what this country can produce.
– I have no objection to these interruptions. This great fellow Petrov stayed here because Australia is a wonderful country. Menzies and company have used Petrov and the Communist party for eight years to blind people to the fact that since this Government has been in power the value of the £1 has diminished so greatly that to-day it has hardly any value at all. The present Government was elected in 1949 on a promise to put value back into the £1.
Order! The value of the £1 has nothing to do with the matter under discussion.
– This wonderful gentleman Petrov has written a book called “ My Story “. He is a wonderful fellow, and ! ask honorable senators to read the book for themselves. When referring to the killing of Leon Trotsky, he said that the man who killed Trotsky did not know his business as well as did, to use his words, “ My friend “, whose name he mentioned, “ who bashed out the brains of the Soviet Ambassador with one blow “. He said that if his friend had done the job there would not have been the great noise that there was about the killing of Trotsky. He said that the man who killed Trotsky was so uncouth that he spilt Trotsky’s brains all over the place with the result that the whole world got to know about it. Out of his own mouth, Mr. Petrov has admitted that his colleague was a brutal assassin who killed a man with one blow! That is his own statement, not mine; and he is the man whom the Government is paying. We have a right to know for what the Government is paying. I remember that when Government supporters tried to put over the story that Dr. Evatt was a Communist-
– Is he not?
– If Dr. Evatt is a Communist, so also are five judges of the High Court because they said that Dr. Evatt was correct in his attitude. In the guise of pretending to fight the Communist party, this Government has crucified the best citizens of the Commonwealth, the people who have saved up a few pounds for their old age and who have found the value of their money dwindling and dwindling until it is worth almost nothing. Because the value of money has dropped so drastically, the Government has had to keep this bogy alive, lt has won four elections but has solved nothing. The economic situation has got worse and worse.
Order! I ask the honorable senator to keep to the matter under discussion.
– Canada has been mentioned. There, a secret inquiry was held, and that is what should have been done here. The Petrov commission sat for two or three days and the Government claimed that by the time the inquiry was completed many people would be involved. Then, an election was held; and we have been told to-night that Petrov was worth a great deal to the inquiry. What has the Government found out from the inquiry? Its members have much to say about fighting Communists. I fought the Communist party before some senators on the Government side knew there was such a thing. I have fought it since 1917, and I am still fighting it.
– What side is the honorable senator on?
– Senator Hannan has only two points of view. His belief is that one must be either in the Communist party, or if a Communist says it is a quarter to nine one must say, “ No, it is a quarter past three “. His attitude is that one must say that merely because a Communist claims that it is a quarter to nine.
– I ask which side the honorable senator is on?
– I heard the honorable senator speaking the other night and, judging him on the remarks he made then - they were so foolish that I have forgotten exactly what they were - I can only say that he is exceedingly lucky to be here. I say further to him, “ You do not look too bad, but for the love of God do not speak “.
As I was saying, a secret inquiry was held in Canada and having obtained evidence in secret, the Government arraigned certain men among whom was a member of the Canadian Parliament named, I think. Rose.
– Is the honorable able senator in favour of secret trials?
– I am in favour of any trial, secret or otherwise, that would deal with the honorable senator. He is the greatest example I have ever seen of a man who knows nothing. I do not know why honorable senators opposite keep interrupting.
– In the Canadian courts, the men were tried by a judge and jury, some of them receiving long terms of imprisonment. Here, however, communism is used merely as a bogy. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) raised the Petrov affair at a time when Dr. Evatt was not present in the Parliament and the Government knew he was not going to be present. Arthur Calwell came to me at that time and said, “ You know something about foreign affairs, Donald; what is the strength of this fellow Petrov? “ I said then what I say now. I said, “ This Petrov is a friend of Beria and Beria is a friend of Stalin. Petrov knows that if he leaves Australia he will lose his head.” Petrov kidded to the Government, and it found out nothing. If it did, we have not been told what it was. Perhaps, he said that the Communists here deal with Russia, but any child knows that. In actual fact, the Communist party found out more about the secret service in Australia as a result of this royal commission than the secret service found out about the Communist party. Again I ask: For what is the Government paying? What did Petrov tell the Government that it did not know before? If the Communists are all criminals, why are they not arrested? What have they done? It is time this business was ended. It is time the people of Australia knew for how long the Government proposes to keep this associate of murderers in this country. Does the Government propose to keep him for ever?
– What power have we to deal with the Communists? Who prevented us from obtaining the necessary power?
– The Government cannot hope to deal with the Communists simply by being given powers. Ignoramuses like the honorable senator keep the Communists.
– The honorable senator said we would not deal with them. His party stopped us from dealing with them
– We can deal with communism only by eradicating its causes. It is most extraordinary that whenever I rise to speak interruptions are incessant. Why is that?
– Because the honorable senator is off the track.
– I want to know what Petrov told the Government that it did not know before. For what is it paying him? It would seem that the Government welcomes rats. I am confident that if I were to seek to join the Government party to-morrow I should be looked upon by its members as a great fellow. Why, the only brainy people this Government has ever had in its party have been men who ratted from the Labour party. The Government cannot deal with the Communists.
– The honorable senator’s party stopped us.
– The honorable senator said that we did not arrest any Communists. Why did we not do so?
– I said that no Communists were arrested as a result of any finding of the Petrov royal commission.
– The honorable senator said the Government did not arrest any Communists. Who stopped it?
– The High Court stopped it.
– It was the Labour party.
– This is a lovely show to hear for people who are listening to the broadcast of these proceedings. I protest against the people having to pay for an indefinite period to keep this assassin. This whole matter of communism, associated with Petrov, has been the meal ticket of the Government since Petrov first defected. The groupers are always talking about what they have done to combat communism, but that is all rubbish. There are no groupers in England, and there are no Communists there. There were only about fourteen Communists in Norway; but even though there are no groupers in that country, the Communists were soon put out of politics. There are no groupers in Canada, nor are there any Communists.
– But there is no Labour party in Canada.
– That is quite true; there is no Labour party in Canada; but the interjection is extraneous because the Prime Minister has already said that he wanted to pay a compliment to the great work that the groupers - although he did not call them groupers - have done to stop the Communist party from becoming stronger in this country. It is not true that the groupers have prevented the Communist party from becoming stronger. As a result of the activities of the groupers, the Communist party became stronger than it would have been if the groupers had not interfered. Since the death of Stalin, the Communist party all over the world has practically ceased to exist, and it is only the non-Labour elements who now accuse people who fought the Communists of being Communists.
– On whose side was the honorable senator when the referendum on communism was held?
– I was opposed to the referendum.
– Yes, because the honorable senator wanted to help the Communists.
– Honorable senators on the Government side are putting on a disgraceful exhibition, which must be distasteful to the people who are listening. When the referendum took place I was opposed to it, because I knew that this Government, in the guise of fighting the Communists, wanted to set up a police state.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- Senator Grant has made it abundantly clear that the matter raised by the HendricksonAylett axis, ostensibly to find out why £6.000 will be spent this year on the Royal Commission on Espionage, was really raised to find out nothing of the kind. The honorable senators pretended to ask whether this £6,000 was being spent to assist Petrov, although they had already been told that it was for no such purpose. The question was asked purely as a means of attempting to smear and deride Petrov and to smear and deride the services that he has rendered to this country. Those are the tactics that were adopted by Rogers and others of the Communist party in an attempt, because they could not refute Petrov’s evidence, to discredit Petrov as a man.
I did not expect, so long after the judges of the royal commission had pointed out that Petrov was a good and reliable witness, to find people who call themselves supporters of the Labour party and say they are opposed to the Communist party, do’.ng the same work that the Communists attempted to do against Petrov, and what they have done against every other person who has come over to the free world and brought evidence of the infiltration of Communists and their attempts to overthrow governments of the free world. To-night we have heard a shocking diatribe from Senator Grant. He has asked what became evident as the result of the inquiries of the royal commission. I can tell the committee one thing that became evident, and that was that the man who was then, and is now, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) had as his press secretary a man who, as a result of his freely acknowledged close co-operation with the Communist party, had to hand to the Communists all the information that came to him - pimping on his colleagues and passing on secret information. I do not say that the Leader of the Opposition knew that, but it is a fact.
Would Senator Grant or Senator Ashley like to have a leader of their party who had an acknowledged Communist close to him, who could see all the information with which he, as Leader of the Opposition, had to deal? Would they like that condition to obtain in their party, and also obtain if this man, who is the leader of their party, should ever become the leader of this country? God forbid that he should. If that is not what they would like to see, they should a»ree with us that a great service was rendered to this country by the Royal Commission on Espionage because that man was removed as a result of the inquiries made by the commission.
Would they like to see this man who is the leader of their party, and who was the leader of their party at the time, with a personal private secretary sitting in an adjoining office with a communicating door to his office, like the woman called Miss
Bernie who, as a result of the royal commission, was exposed as one who passed on to Clayton of the Communist party all secret documents passing through the office of the present Leader of the Labour party? Would they like that to continue to-day with this gentleman leading their party, that is, that all their secrets should go to the Communists?
If the leader of their party became the leader of this country would they like that situation to continue? If they would nol like it, let them admit that a great service was rendered this country through these facts being brought out and admitted on all >ides in the inquiry conducted by the royal commission. Would they like the condition to continue under which in the Department of External Affairs at that time when the leader of their party was the Minister for External Affairs and when a man called Dr. Burton was the secretary for External Affairs, there were scattered throughout the department - in the archives sections and amongst the officers - people who, on the evidence and their own admissions, passed on to Rose, Clayton and others secret information from the department? I do not say that the man who is now the leader of the Labour party, and who was then the Minister for External Affairs, knew that he was surrounded by Communists in important positions. I hope that honorable senators who sit opposite, including the senator who has given us such a vitriolic diatribe, would not think that their leader was knowingly surrounded by Communists in that way; but if they do not think that, then they must admit again that a great service has been done to this country as the result of those facts having been brought out in open court, and not in secret court as apparently one honorable senator suggests.
Surely with the persons, positions and powers concerned, these things touch the security and safety of this nation far too deeply for small-minded guttersnipes to attempt at this stage, on personal grounds, to smear the man who gave this country that information; and to call him, as Senator Grant called him, a member of the Russian security service and an assassin and an associate of assassins! Would the honorable senator like to say that because Stalin. Bulganin or Kruschev were or arc members of the Russian security service, they are assassins or associates of assassins? There is just as much reason far saying that as in saying that Petrov was an assassin. Surely if we are to discuss these matters at all, let us not discuss them on the lines that have been followed to-night. Senator Grant has told us that he has been fighting communism since 1910. All I can say is that he has done a rotten job, because of the progress that the Communists have made since that time in and out of all sections of the Labour party and the unions. Surely we can discuss these matters without attempting to smear persons who have given evidence. The purpose of such public attacks seems to be to prevent other persons from giving equally valuable evidence in the future.
There is one more thing that I want to say. The honorable senator told us thai he was in Canada when the Gouzenko royal commission was held. He said that the Canadians initiated that as a secret inquiry, arraigned people in the courts, and inflicted upon them prison terms and other punishments. He implied that because we had not done the same, Australia had not obtained evidence comparable with that which Gouzenko gave in Canada.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– But that is not the reason. The reason why Canada was able to initiate a secret inquiry was that the English Official Secrets Act applies in Canada, but does not apply here. Canada . was thus able to hold trials in camera, to suppress the names of witnesses, and to punish persons for handing on information - which the law in Australia does not allow us to do, but which the judges found many persons had done. In short, the reason that the Canadians were able to hold trials and to punish was because they had laws which put the onus of proof on to the accused, which made it an offence to pass on secret information, and which m other ways closely approximated the measure that we endeavoured to enact here to deal with the Communist party, and which the honorable senator and his colleagues stopped us from bringing in. This was done through one of the greatest campaigns for misinforming the public that has ever been conducted in any democratic country, and it was conducted by people who are alleged to be bitter opponents of the Communist party. That is why the Canadians were able to act. If it had not been for the honorable senator who has just sat down, and the other two honorable senators who initiated this debate, we would have been able to act, too. I trust that in time the people of Australia will do as was done in England and in Canada; that is, that they will enable us to make it an offence for people to pass on secret information to those who are considered to be enemies, though I doubt very much whether three of the honorable senators on the other side who have spoken would consider them enemies as much as I do. I hope that we shall not again in this Parliament be treated to such a shocking exhibition of attacking the character of a man who has done service to this country. The attacks were made because honorable senators opposite object to the kind of service that was rendered, because it damaged some of those who were their associates and who, if unity tickets are still to run, are still their associates in union elections.
.- Reference has been made during this debate to the proposed vote of £6,000 in connexion with the Royal Commission on Espionage. I do not think that any one should object to an honorable senator seeking information. The Attorney-General (Senator O’Sullivan) explained that fees amounting to £4,500 had remained unclaimed by members of the legal profession who appeared before the royal commission on behalf of the Commonwealth. The remainder of the proposed vote is for the purpose of finalizing accounts for incidental expenditure, including telephone calls. That explanation gave rise to an interesting debate. Senator McManus said that he came from people who did not like informers. That may be true.
– It is true.
– But, of course, some members of a later generation have more or less strayed from that path. For that reason, we cannot place the same reliance on them as we could on those who went before. I take strong exception to a remark that was made by the Minister, when answering an interjection by Senator Scott. and I regret that it was made. Senator Scott asked whether Dr. Evatt had been paid his fee by the Communists whom Senator O’Sullivan said that he had defended. Senator O’Sullivan knows that Dr. Evatt did not defend Communists before the royal commission. He appeared before the commission to defend two members of his staff. One is entitled to expect a responsible Minister to keep to the facts, and not to attempt to make political capital out of an untruth.
– Why do you?
– I shall attend to the honorable senator who is interjecting, andI shall also attend to my new friend in this chamber who made an ass of himself over hats. All that my colleagues on this side wanted to know was how the Government intends to expend the proposed vote. They are entitled to that information. Senator Scott said that the Government had not the power to take any action in certain matters. I remind him that the Government has power to take action against any one who, by word or action, is subversive. When in office Labour exercised that power; it gaoled Sharkey and Burns. I expect the present Government to take action against any person whose words or deeds can be construed as subversive, irrespective of the politicial affiliations of the person.
Certain implications were made against Dr. Evatt’s press secretary, who was found by the royal commission to be a member of the Communist party. It must be remembered that when Dr. Evatt discovered this fact, long before the royal commission commenced its inquiry, he dispensed with the services of the individual concerned.
– How many Communists were on Dr. Evatt’s staff?
– Senator Scott knows as well as I do that Dr. Evatt got rid of O’Sullivan.
– What about Grundeman and Dalziel?
– At no time were they accused by any one of being members of the Communist party. It is all right to say such a thing in the Senate where one can say what he likes, as was instanced last sessional period in a speech-
– The honorable senator would not have the courage to say it outside.
– 1 am prepared to wait.
– Surely in this, the superior House of the Parliament, the old Communist bogy should not be dragged into debates on every subject that is discussed. I expect the two anti-Communist senators to do that because they would not be here were it not for the Communist bogy. However, after what happened on Saturday, Senator Cole should not have too much to say because if, on the latest figures, he can claim to represent only less than 4 per cent, of the people, well, the less be says about it the better.
– What about Bramich?
– I am not talking about Bramich. The two about whom I am speaking are so close to honorable senators opposite that they may as well go over to their side of the chamber.
– The honorable senator is so near to the Communists now that he might as well go over to them.
– If Senator Cole were to read the speech of his colleague he would see that Senator McManus, the other night, stated in this Senate that that was one thing at least from which he absolved me.
– He is very generous.
– One would expect that in a debate of this nature no attempt would be made to label senators as being sympathetic towards the Communists whether in an individual or party capacity. Every one knows that is wrong, and that such charges are made only for purposes of cheap political propaganda.
– What about the honorable senator’s unity ticket in Victoria?
– Every one, even the honorable senator who interjected, knows that the federal executive of the Labour party has said that unity tickets are not to be used. I do not agree with that; 1 am quite honest. I believe that I have no right to interfere in the election of officers of a body with which I have no connexion.
– The honorable senator should speak to his own executive in Victoria about it.
– I am not like the honorable senator who is interjecting. I did not come into this Senate on a ticket and then run away from that ticket. At least, 1 have more respect for his colleague. He nailed his colours to the mast and the people elected him to the Senate; but Senator Cole was elected on one ticket and when he got here he changed that ticket.
– Does the honorable senator want to change his ticket?
– I am a bit too old to rat now.
– If the honorable senator were in my position it would be all right.
– If the honorable senator wants to know, the inducement held out to me was much greater than that held out to him, but I will say no more at the moment. If Senator McManus were to say all he knew he would know about what I am talking. He shakes his head, but he knows. The inducement in my case was much greater than any position to which Senator Cole might aspire.
– It sounds interesting.
– It is.
– The Labour party is entitled to know what Petrov is receiving and for how long the Government intends to keep him. Surely, we have a right as members of the Senate to know in what manner the revenue of this country is being spent? Surely, we can ask questions when we take very strong objection to the fact that the Government is continuing to pay this money. When one casts one’s mind back over the months one remembers that nothing was said about this £5,000 before Petrov went into the witnessbox. The Prime Minister said he knew nothing about it. The inference is that an officer of the security service, if he believes the case is a worthy one, can give any individual at least up to £5,000.
– The Communists think that, too.
– The honorable senator seems to know more about them than I do. If he knows anything about them he has his opportunity to speak as well as I have mine. All I say is that with my colleagues I object to the Government continuing to pay money to Petrov.
– It has a legal obligation to do so.
– If it is paying it, at least it ought to tell us so.
– The Minister has told honorable senators.
– With Senator Aylett and others, I object to the continuance of this payment. Petrov put a price on the evidence he had to give. Senator Gorton believes it was worth very much to this country, but not one prosecution resulted from it. That is the position, although Senator Gorton has alluded to the great work Petrov did and the valuable information he gave.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I say, for the third time, that this proposed vote of £6,000 has nothing whatever to do with any payments to Petrov. It covers the matters to which I have already referred, and 1 do not propose to repeat myself again. I do not know whether Senator Kennelly deliberately misquoted me or whether he misunderstood me. If he misunderstood me, I hope that he will say so. If he deliberately misquoted me, I do not expect anything. I did not say that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) appeared before the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia on behalf of the Communists. I said nothing about it. Some reference was made to Dr. Evatt having appeared in the High Court of Australia on behalf of Communist sympathizers under instructions from a Communist-controlled union, to oppose the Communist. Party Dissolution Bill. He had every right to appear. That was the matter to which I referred. I did not say that he appeared before the Royal Commission on Espionage on behalf of the Communists. The whole world knows that Dr. Evatt did appear before the High
Court to fight the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. Why is the Opposition ashamed of it?
– I am not ashamed of it. I only wanted to keep you on the right track, and to prevent you from making cheap political capital out of this matter.
– Then you deliberately misrepresented me?
– I do not care what you make of it. You have misconstrued what I said.
– My reference was to Dr. Evatt’s appearance before the High Court, and nowhere else. He had every right to appear there, and I am surprised that the Opposition is ashamed of his appearance there.
– There has been much character assassination during the debate to-night, and I was surprised to hear an honorable senator name two persons who are not here and are not in a position to defend themselves. I refer to Mr. Dalziel and Mr. Grundeman. Senator Scott said that they were Communists.
– I did not say that. 1 deny it.
– Senator Scott is a big man politically, but he is a small man if he denies that he made that statement. I challenge him to deny that he said it. He is taking advantage of his presence in a coward’s castle to attack two men who are innocent and who are not Communists. The least that Senator Scott can do is to withdraw the statement he made to-night about Dalziel and Grundeman. He had no right to mention names of any persons who are outside the Parliament and are not able to defend themselves. I suggest that Senator Scott withdraw the statement he made about those two men.
– I wish to make my position clear. During this debate, I mentioned that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) appeared before the Royal Commission on Espionage to protect his press secretary, Fergan O’sullivan, and two others named Dalziel and Grundeman.
– Senator Scott said, “ What about Grundeman and Dalziel? “
– Yes, but 1 did not say that either of them, or O’sullivan, was a Communist. All I said was that Dr. Evatt had appeared before the royal commission to protect those three gentlemen, and I named two of them.
– You said, “ What about Dalziel and Grundeman? “
– That is right. I have no need to withdraw or apologize. I -have never said that those two gentlemen were Communists.
– I challenged you at the time to say it again outside the chamber.
– Senator Ashley cannot hear properly. That is his trouble.
– I regret that I was not in the Senate chamber to hear the opening of the debate, and to follow its trend. I have been in the chamber long enough to hear references to the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia, and to the appearance of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) before the High Court of Australia in connexion with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. If there is one matter about which I am proud of Dr. Evatt, it is his appearance in that case before the High Court.
– He was entitled to be there.
– Even the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) has conceded that point. I take it one step further, as did the Bar Association of Victoria when it conceded, and announced, that it was Dr. Evatt’s duty to appear.
– No, no!
– The Bar Association of Victoria went immediately to the defence of Dr. Evatt when he was attacked for his appearance in that case, and pointed out to the whole of Australia that it was his bounden duty to do so. The Bar Association made that perfectly clear.
– Produce the evidence. That is untrue.
– Senator Mattner made a serious statement when he said that my statement was untrue. I do not ask him for a withdrawal of his statement because I treat it with the contempt it deserves, but I undertake to make available to the honorable senator, as soon as I can put my hands on it, the public announcement of the Bar Association of Victoria fully upholding Dr. Evatt’s right to appear and, indeed, affirming his duty so to appear.
– His bounden duty?
– I undertake now, publicly in this chamber, to put that announcement into the hands of the honorable senator.
– 1 accept that undertaking.
– Dr. Evatt rendered one of his greatest services to Australia when he appeared before the High Court to oppose the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, because that measure provided for the institution of the police state in Australia. It would have enabled the Attorney-General for the time being to pinpoint any individual in the community with a declaration - a two-pronged declaration. First, he could have alleged that the individual was a Communist. The person involved was allowed access to a court to meet that allegation, but only if he accepted the onus of proving his innocence. That is a complete reversal of the most fundamental principle of English justice.
– I rise to order. How is the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) relevant to the allocation of £6,000 in the item which is under discussion by the committee?
– Has the honorable senator been asleep?
– [ have not been asleep. I am asking for your ruling Mr. Chairman. I do not see any connexion between Dr. Evatt’s appearance before the High Court of Australia several years ago and the proposed vote of £6,000 that is before the committee.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! I have been listening to the debate, and have followed its trend. At this stage, I am not prepared to rule the Leader of the Opposition out of order.
– It is quite clear that Senator Hannaford is distressed because the facts in this matter are being brought out. The Leader of the Government in the Senate was referring to this matter when I entered the chamber. 1 took it that the matter was under discussion. The second provision under the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was that the person concerned could be declared, in effect, to be a traitor. The individual concerned would have no access 10 any court in Australia io defend himself against that charge, although it is the most damning allegation that could be made against an Australian citizen. That meant the establishment of a police state in Australia, and Dr. Evatt, as much as I - and perhaps I as much as he, though not so signally or effectively - fought that proposal. We fought it as Australians, as lawyers and as anti-Communists. We were not concerned in that issue with anything but the proposed establishment of a police state in Australia.
Dr. Evatt knew before he appeared ; because he told me ; that he would be tarred and smeared; that he risked his parliamentary seat and his political future, and that he might even jeopardize the future of the Australian Labour party. But he indicated to me, before he went, that a time came in a person’s life when he had to take a stand on principle, and not count the cost. I announce to the Senate now for the first time that Dr. Evatt invited me to join him in appearing as counsel in that case. To Dr. Evatt’s credit and to my own discredit, I say that he was game but I was not. If there is one thing following my entry into the Parliament of which I am proud it is the part that I played in defeating the institution of the police state in Australia - a part not nearly as magnificent as was Dr. Evatt’s. For that action, Dr. Evatt is smeared as being a Communist or a Communist sympathizer. How unjust that is when not only he, but also I and many members of the Labour party, played exactly the same part that he played in fighting it!
Why do not supporters of the Government smear the five judges out of six who upheld Dr. Evatt’s contention? Why do they not smear the majority of the Australian people who rejected that very same proposal at a referendum not long after this Government had the temerity to submit it to the people of Australia? There is no answer to that. Government supporters would not call the judges or the majority of the people of Australia Communists, but in a mean way they pervert the course that was followed by Dr. Evatt and the Labour party for the sake of whatever party political advantage they find in it. 1 do not deny that they find advantage in it.
Now we come to the very item that is in issue. We have a situation in which a futile royal commission did more damage to the security of this nation than anything else has done. After all, who set up the security service in Australia? It was set up not by the present Government, but by Labour! It was established by the Chifley Labour Administration at a time when I was Acting Attorney-General. What did the Royal Commission on Espionage find? It found that no Australian of consequence was concerned in espionage, lt found that there was comic opera espionage on behalf of the Russian embassy, but not one instance that justified a prosecution. The great damage that was done was the exposure of the whole of the security service personnel and its methods to the fierce glare of publicity. What was the answer of the Government when we fought the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and when it refused to allow a declaration to be dealt with in open court? Its answer was, ‘* We could not have it in open court. That would expose the security service “. What utter hypocrisy, when in April, 1954, on the eve of an election, it threw Australia’s security service into the fierce glare of publicity from one end of Australia to another!
– From one end of the world to the other.
– From one end of the world to the other. What utter and complete hypocrisy! One feels strongly about these things. It would have been infinitely better, in the interests of this country and its security service, if the information that had been gathered had been kept to the security service. Look at the opportunity that was given to the Communists at that time. Every Communist in Australia was given the opportunity to get under cover and to get his records out of the way. Although members of the Parliament were smeared in the course of an election campaign, not one was found to be associated with the Communist party. Man after man in this Parliament who had been named was cleared. 1 now recall a famous paragraph of the report of the commission in which it said that mere courtesy extended to a Russian was interpreted by the Russian people as being a disposition on the part of the person showing the courtesy in favour of Russia and of communism. It was a most farcical royal commission - very helpful to the Government politically, but very detrimental to the security service of this country and to Australia’s best interests in trade as well as international relations. I thought that we had heard the end of it. I thought the Government would be ashamed, of the part it played in connexion with that commission. I did not expect to hear the same old allegations raised again to-night. It is the kind of thing, quite frankly, about which, but for a rare occasion like this, we hear nothing until an election is pending. Until such time as an election is pending, the Government says, “ This is one for an election. We are all gentlemen, we are all great Australians “. Then we are smeared, if not as being Communists, then as being Communist sympathizers. It is the greatest piece of scandal and untruth that has ever been uttered in this Parliament, and I regret to say that many honorable senators on the Government side know equally as well as we do that there is not only not the slightest association with communism on the part of the Labour party but that there is a most bitter and fundamental antagonism to it philosophically, spiritually and materially.
– What about unity tickets?
– Unity tickets have been completely proscribed by the Federal Parliamentary Labour party, and by the controlling body of the Australian Labour party; they have been outlawed. Somebody has referred to Senator Kennelly. He expressed a private opinion, and he made it quite clear that he thought that political parties should not interfere in the affairs of trade unions. He is entitled to that opinion, but, knowing him so well and knowing his fundamental Labour principles, I say this on his behalf forthwith: He bows his head and accepts the decisions of the ruling bodies of the Federal Labour party. There is no question about that. 1 regret again that I do not know exactly what led up to this debate, and that I was not here earlier; but I am joining in the fray at a stage at which I heard it being developed after I entered the chamber. I suggest that I have dealt effectively with the suggestions that Labour is Communistdominated because it defeated the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. We were only advocates in the cause. We had judges of the High Court of Australia and the people of Australia to determine the matter between us and the Government parties. It is to be eternal credit of the Australian people that they smelt, even if they did not fully understand, what was involved in that legislation. The judges left this Government with not even the title of that bill; they tore up every clause of it as offending the rule of law. If anybody does not understand what that is, it is a simple proposition that nobody is to be injured in his person, his property, or his reputation except by due process of law in the ordinary courts of the land. That is the principle that was fractured and attacked in that legislation, as the High Court held - a most fundamental principle.
– Absolute nonsense!
– The honorable senator should read the judgments. He merely needs to refresh his mind on the matter.
– The honorable senator ought to state them correctly.
– The honorable senator will find that opinion expressed by the present Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, in his reference to the rule of law. The Leader of the Government may check it. Let him refer to the judgment and find the decision of the Chief Justice that the rule of law is implicitly incorporated in. the Commonwealth Constitution, although it is not written in specifically. He pointed out that there is a body of common law that flows with the Constitution, and he has written the rule of law in the very terms that I now put to the Senate as being in the Constitution.
– He decided that the bill was ultra vires.
– He decided it was ultra vires, but he decided also that it was an offence against the rule of law.
– He did nothing of the sort.
– I do not know what other issues have been raised to-night, but if any Government supporter wants to take up with me while I am on my feet any of the isues that have been going backward and forward in the Senate to-night, this is his opportunity to do so.
– The bill was thrown out because it was ultra vires. The judgment did not go into the merits at all.
– Yes, completely outside the Constitution, into which the Chief Justice indicated that the rule of law was written as part of the common law of this country. I point out to the honorable senator that the mere fact that we have a written Constitution does not mean that the whole great body of common law was thrown overboard and abdicated. His Honour indicated very clearly that it was implicitly written into the Constitution.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- First of all. I wish to reply to the suggestion by Senator McKenna that senators on this side of the committee started this debate concerning the Royal Commission on Espionage. I remind the honorable senator that it began from his side, and we cannot be blamed for replying to allegations, some of them rather questionable, that were made by honorable senators opposite. Perhaps I could explain, briefly, why Senator Kennelly participated in the debate. As was to be expected, he rose to defend Dr. Evatt, his leader in another place, in connexion with that learned gentleman’s appearance before the royal commission. I think I am right in saying that Senator Kennelly pointed out that Dr. Evatt went to the royal commission for the purpose of defending two members of his staff. That is’ completely incorrect. As a. matter of fact, no one was defended at the Royal Commission on Espionage. It was an investigation, and no one was being charged. No offences were being investigated. It was simply a royal commission. Senator Kennelly erred in that respect, but he made a much greater error. The learned doctor did not go to the royal commission to defend two of his staff; he went there to try to wreck the investigation. What is more, as counsel he was kicked out of the investigation, ignominiously, because of his attempts to wreck it.
I do not want the committee to take my word for this, and I shall read from the report of the learned judges so that honorable senators may know what the commission had to say about Dr. Evatt’s appearance before the royal commission, lt is worth reading, in view of Senator Kennedy’s statement, which is palpably absurd. At page 425 of the report, the commissioners wrote -
In these circumstances, Dr. Evatt conceived the theory that he and the political party which he leads had been mad- the victims of a political conspiracy and he proceeded to cross-examine the witnesses before us with that in mind. After the withdrawal of his permission to appear, his junior* continued in the same line.
Charge followed charge with bewildering variations. Suggestions were made of blackmail, forgery, uttering, fabrication, fraud and conspiracy and - upon the repeated assurances of Dr. Evatt that his examination of witnesses wm directed to these matters and would prove them - we felt constrained to permit him great latitude in his questioning. This we felt bound to do, since an exhaustive inquiry by us into the authenticity of Exhibit j was part of our duty.
Later, the report continued -
Although, in the result, all the charges-
I emphasize the expression “ all the charges “- turned out to be fantastic and wholly unsupported by any credible evidence, they were grave, and necessitated patient judicial inquiry by us.
The commission added this significant sentence -
Dr. Evatt’s permission to appear before us was, however, withdrawn on 7th September, 1954, for reasons which we then gave.
It is of no use for any one in this chamber or anywhere else to suggest that Dr. Evatt, in going before the royal commission, had any motive other than to wreck the inquiry. That statement need not be accepted merely because I say it, but it is a fact which the learned judges found. Senator Kennelly talked a lot of nonsense this evening in advancing the reason that he did for his leader’s appearance before the commission.
Senator McKenna did not hear all of the debate this evening, but he took up the cudgels on behalf of Dr. Evatt on another ground - that of the High Court appeal. Not for a moment do I suggest that Dr. Evatt, as a barrister, has not the right to go into a court and defend whomsoever he likes. That is his right as a barrister, as it is of any barrister, and no one can suggest that it is not. But there happens to be an important ethical principle in law that no judge ever returns, in the capacity of an advocate, to a court in which he has sat. That is a good rule, and it is clearly set forth in Halsbury’s “ Laws of England “ as a sound and proper ethical principle. I have no objection to Dr. Evatt defending the Communist party or anybody else. He is entitled to do that, but I do not think that he should be praised for doing it. I cannot see anything valorous or noble in his action. He went into the High Court to argue - which he did successfully - against the constitutional validity of a measure that had been passed, but which was fought at certain stages in this chamber by honorable senators opposite. However, that is not our complaint. The High Court found - though not for the reasons suggested by Senator McKenna just now - that the law was ultra vires, and that the Parliament did not have power to enact it. After that happened, the Labour party, with Dr. Evatt at its head, really came out in its true colours and said, “ We will use this on the hustings in our fight against the proposal to have the Constitution altered “. That is where I join issue with honorable senators opposite. I do not care whether or not Dr. Evatt defended the Communist party in the High Court; that is his business, but one can draw only a single inference from his action. I repeat that our complaint is that the Labour party, led by Dr. Evatt, fought on the hustings any attempt to change the Constitution to enable the Parliament to make a law to deal with the Communists.
– To make a law in accordance with a measure for which the Labour party voted.
– That is so. The Labour party was opposed to Parliament enacting legislation to deal with the Communists, very similar in principle to existing statutes in Great Britain and the United States of America, and almost identical with a statute in Canada. Dr. Evatt and his party did everything possible to prevent a law being passed in Australia to deal with the Communist party here. That law would have been in accordance with the best principles of British justice, but the Labour party, by the public use of epithets and cliches tried to convince the public that the proposed measure was against the principles of British justice. All that we were trying to do was to get a decent law to deal effectively with the enemies of our country, and the Labour party will stand condemned for all time for preventing that from being done.
Adverting again to the Royal Commission on Espionage, let me say that to-night I have heard some very mean suggestions about Petrov. I hold no brief for him, but I suggest that the Labour party is not one wit concerned with Petrov as a man. The only reason that the Labour party is upset about him is that he said a few things that they did not like before the royal commission. He, and other witnesses who gave evidence - and were believed - said that in the very office of the Leader of the Australian Labour party (Dr. Evatt) Communists were working. Although my friend, Senator Gorton, says that Dr. Evatt could not be expected to know that they were Communists, I say that he should have known that they were Communists, and he stands condemned for all time for not being aware of that fact. When he was Minister for External Affairs, the whole of his department was riddled with Communists. That evidence was given before the royal commission, and that is the reason why our friends in the Opposition do not like Mr. Petrov. They dislike him not because he was an informer but because he brought to light some very unsavoury things about how their leader, Dr. Evatt, ran the Department of External Affairs when he was Minister and how members of the Labour party were carrying on as the tools and friends of the Australian Communist party.
– I did not intend to take part in this debate, but there has been so much misconception displayed by honorable senators on the Government side that 1 feel we ought to get back to realities. I am not greatly worried about Petrov as an individual at all. He played a certain part in what I consider to be a rather discreditable chapter in the history of this country, and in that capacity he has served his purpose. The main point to consider about the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia is that to-night we are discussing the expenditure of money; and the public of Australia has a right to expect value in return for that expenditure, lt is not my intention to cover the ground that has been traversed already in connexion with statements made against Dr. Evatt by honorable senators on the Government side. They were ably and adequately answered by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The fact that honorable senators opposite remained completely and absolutely silent during the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition is sufficient proof to the people of Australia that the Government cannot refute his statements.
Like the Leader of the Opposition, I believe that the Petrov commission treated us to something that may be likened to comic opera. That commission was appointed purely and simply for political purposes. Although it is not my intention to engage in personalities, I propose to attack this Government. There can be no doubt that when the political history of Australia is read in the centuries to come the story of this farcical Petrov commission will stand out as one of its worst chapters. What was the real situation in this matter? It is well known that the security service of this country had the person concerned under observation for almost two years before the carefully stage-managed storm broke. They had him under observation and under contact by people, some of whom were attached to the security service in a rather peculiar way. In other countries, security services similar to our service adopt certain devious methods which, if brought to light, would not make very good reading for the public. It is not good for the security service of a country when the type of operation that was embarked upon by our security service in this instance is made known. It has the effect of bringing into contempt one of the most valuable services in the country, and I say, with all the sincerity I possess, that the security service of Australia was undermined for years when, for the first time in history, it was used for party political purposes.
This royal commission has cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds, and it will probably cost more in the future, because we do not know what commitments have been entered into with the people who participated in the episode. I have no axe to grind in this matter, but
Senator Vincent, who has now left the chamber, said that a member of the Australian Labour party, when a Minister, employed in his office persons who, it was alleged, had other political affiliations. 1 remind him that the British Tory Government was completely deluded by two toplevel diplomats who have since gone to Russia. If it is right to say that because of unfortunate circumstances that were uncovered in this country a certain person in an administrative capacity was culpable, it is equally right to say that the British Tory Government was culpable in connexion with the defections of the two persons to whom I have referred. The Petrov royal commission was a carefully stagemanaged party political stunt.
What is the position in other countries whose line of thought is similar to ours? When they have some prospect, some likely person from whom they can elicit information which will assist their security services., do they make a public parade of the matter, or do they act wisely and quietly, keeping the person under observation and in contact in order that whatever information he can give them may be given by him constantly. It is clear and simple logic to say that an effective security service, which is allowed to operate free from government interference and which is not used for party political purposes, would operate exactly in that way. Honorable senators on the Government side must realize that the security service of a country cannot be made more effective by being exposed to the fierce glare of publicity as was done in Australia through the Royal Commission on Espionage.
What was the net result of that commission? lt has been suggested by honorable senators opposite that all sorts of tremendous benefits accrued to the Australian community. Nothing of any value whatever sprang from that commission; and here let me hasten to say that I am not reflecting in any way on the judges who constituted the commission. They were restricted by their terms of reference, and they did their job. They did not make the decision as to whether there should be a royal commission; this Government decided that, and appointed the five judges who acted in accordance with the terms of reference issued to them. They were appointed on the eve of a general election for purely party political purposes and the only proof we need that it was a waste of time and money, that it was the greatest political stunt this country has ever seen, is the fact that after the commission wound its tortuous way to the completion of its task no charge whatever was found to be proved against any person.
After the commission issued its findings, the two chief participants, Mr. and Mrs. Petrov, decided to write their life story, and they made a considerable amount of money out of it. That was farcical enough, but then we have to think of a certain other gentleman who was employed by the security service as a contact. Without wishing to detract from his character in any way whatever, it cannot be denied that he was a rather peculiar person, in fact, he was an extremely peculiar person. He decided, after some family difficulties, that he would a,so write his memoirs in connexion with the Petrov case. The long-suffering Australian public, which was beginning to realize that it had been had very nicely, then had to suffer a further infliction because that gentleman’s wife decided that what he could do she could do, and wrote her own memoirs. The only comfort that we can draw from this extremely sorry affair - this blot on our political history - is that the five judges who composed the commission have not yet indicated that they intend to write their life stories.
Let us put the whole matter in its true perspective. It was a farce, and honorable senators on the Government side know that it was a farce. Communism is an important matter, and we cannot ignore it, but there N are laws in this country which permit the Government to deal with Communists if they offend against the rules governing our security. If such laws do not exist, how was it that the Chifley Labour Government was able to deal very effectively with two of the people concerned? If the Government’s attitude of apparent hostility to communism had any degree of consistency and merit in it, and if the Government believes that this country is riddled with traitors, that they are lurking behind every bush and aiming at the heart and security of this nation, why has the Government not taken action similar to that taken by the Chifley Government? The answer is quite clear. It is that the Government is using the Communist party just it is has always used it as a stalking horse. The Government does not want communism to cease to be a force in this country because if that regrettable day, in the view of the Government, should come, it wo ..Id have to find some real policy at election times instead of the policy that it has heretofore used of smearing its political opponents. To-night, I have not dealt with individuals and I have not attempted, except perhaps in what might be considered a jocular way, to attack the reputations of people. But 1 have set out to indicate the whole point of the Royal Commission on Espionage and that is that, despite what may be said in rebuttal and despite the repeated denials of Government supporters, that royal commission was the greatest political stunt in our history.
– I was the first to mention the provision proposed in respect of the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia. 1 do not apologize for that. I heard the speeches of the two honorable senators on the Government side, Senator Vincent and Senator Gorton, who are aspirants for the vacant position in the Cabinet. I do not know which of those two gentlemen has won, but both were rather off the track. Senator Gorton was wrong when he accused members of the Opposition of insincerity in making inquiries as to how the £6,000 will be spent. I merely asked the AttorneyGeneral (Senator O’sullivan) how the £6,000 was to be spent, and the Minister told me. I accepted the Minister’s statement, and had it not been for the intervention of the two legal gentlemen, who are aspiring to the vacancy in the Cabinet, probably the debate would not have continued as long as it has. 1 was interested to hear the speech made by Senator McManus. He said he believed that the Government should pay Petrov this money and keep on paying him because he was not getting as much as Maclean and Burgess were getting from the Russians. The Attorney-General told me that not one penny of the £6,000 was to be paid to Petrov. So if Senator McManus knows as much about the affair of Maclean and Burgess as he knows about the Petrov affair, he knows very little. I would like to know where Senator McManus gets his information, ls he linked with the Communist party, which is alleged to be paying Maclean and Burgess such enormous sums of money for defecting to Russia?
When Senator Kennelly was speaking, Senator Cole interjected about the breweries’ money. Senator Cole was a candidate for the Senate while he was a member of the Labour party, and if there is anything in the allegation that brewery money was paid to the Labour party, then a part of it must have been used to secure the election of the honorable senator to this chamber.
– That has nothing to do with my interjection, I think the honorable senator had better not say anything more about that.
– I am simply saying that if money was paid by the breweries to this party, part of it must have been used in the campaign which resulted in the election of Senator Cole to this chamber. Like Senator Kennelly, I have a certain amount of admiration for Senator McManus, who was prepared to nail his flag to the mast and fight the battle on what he thought was right, but I have not much time for Senator Cole, who was elected as a member of the Labour party under the leadership of Dr. Evatt, and then severed his political affiliation with the Labour party. He can be compared to Petrov - they are two of a kind.
– Senator Hendrickson nailed his flag to mine at one stage, and then ran for his life afterwards.
– Considering that the Anti-Communist Labour party polled about 12 per cent, of votes at the last general federal election in December and only 3 per cent, last Saturday in Tasmania, if we could give Senator Cole leave until the next federal elections he would no longer be with us.
– At least I will be a candidate; but you have to be pre-selected yet.
– That is because I do not belong to a party, the members of which can select themselves. Senator Cole belongs to a one-man party. Now, getting back to the matter before the committee, 1 asked a question of the Minister and he replied satisfactorily. Therefore, I cannot understand why Senator Gorton should refer to the Hendrickson-Aylett axis in the way he did.
– Why does the honorable senator object to that?
– Because the Opposition is speaking on behalf of the great Australian Labour party. When Senator McManus was assistant secretary of the Labour party in Victoria during the campaign preceding the referendum on communism he ordered me to go to certain parts of the State to oppose the referendum. Therefore, I say quite frankly that 1 am entitled to ask how the £6,000 that has already been mentioned will be spent.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of External Affairs, £2,061,000; Miscellaneous Services - Department of External Affairs, £l,184,000–agreed to.
Miscellaneous Services - International Development and Relief.
Proposed vote, £5,200,000.
– There being no requests, I declare the proposed vote agreed to.
– Mr. Chairman, I should like to say something concerning the proposed vote of £5,200,000 for international development and relief.
– Order! That proposed vote has already been agreed to. I put the question, and inquired whether any honorable senator wished to make a request, but no one rose.
– You were looking down, and could not see whether or not any honorable senator was on his feet.
– Order! I have given my ruling. We shall now proceed to deal with other proposed votes.
– Why do you not keep these people quiet? They behaved like a lot of dingoes, and you said nothing about it.
– We shall now proceed with the next proposed vote.
– Before you go on with that, Mr. Chairman, you will have to give us a little more time.
– I will give you all the time in the world, but I am not going to wait for some one to rise. There was a misunderstanding earlier this evening, and 1 rectified the matter. But on this occasion, when I put the question, nobody rose. I am not going back. I try to be fair to everybody.
– As the Estimates are so bulky, I wish you would give us a chance to turn to the relevant page.
Proposed Vote, £1,729,000.
– On a matter of order, I request that the procedure be altered. If you will refer, Mr. Chairman, to the order of consideration of the departmental votes that has been circulated, you will see that we jump from page 97 of the schedule to the bill to page 14, then to page 98, page 99, page 27, forward to page 100, back to page 75, then forward again to page 103, back to page 43, forward again to page 100, back again to page 79, then to pages 81 and 94, and forward to page 104. If you, the Chairman of this committee, think-
– Order! The order of consideration of the departmental votes was accepted by the Senate. If the honorable senator had any objection to the proposal, he should have stated it at the time; it is too late for him to do so now after the committee has proceeded thus far.
– I object, Mr. Chairman, to the manner in which you are conducting the proceedings of the committee. Instead of keeping your head down when you inquire whether there are any requests, you should look around the chamber to see whether any honorable senator has risen.
– You can rest assured that I do not miss anybody who rises.
– I submit that you should afford honorable senators an opportunity to turn to the relevant page of the schedule in order to pick out matters on which they desire to speak. The whole thing is a farce. Proposed votes aggregating millions of pounds are declared agreed to before honorable senators have had time to consult the schedule to see whether they have marked any of the items for attention. It is ridiculous for the affairs of the National
Parliament to be conducted as they are being conducted in this chamber to-night. I protest most strongly against the manner in which you, Mr. Chairman, are conducting these proceedings.
– I shall direct the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) to a matter that is causing great concern in the States. I refer to coronial inquests at which the attendance of witnesses from other States is needed. It is unfortunately a fact that coroners who investigate causes of death, particularly in re!!,f’on to motor accidents, which are becoming more frequent, have no power to bring witnesses from other States. Under the Service and Execution of Process Act - a Federal Statute - it has been held, I think quite properly, that a coroner does not conduct a court but merely an investigation - an inquiry - and he has no power under that act to issue process to enforce the attendance of witnesses from another State. Coroners are therefore powerless, at times, to get adequate evidence at their coronial investigations. In Western Australia, this has become very embarrassing because, as the AttorneyGeneral will know, from his legal experience, it is essential for a coroner to determine the cause of death, and sometimes to determine, perhaps, some degree of criminal responsibility in relation to the cause of death. If, therefore, a coroner has not that power, the whole investigation becomes somewhat farcical.
There are only two ways, I suggest, of rectifying the matter. The first is, that the States could refer power to the Commonwealth to issue process. Alternatively, the States could pass reciprocal legislation under which each State would respect the laws of the others in relation to this matter.
The matter is becoming of increasing importance in Western Australia due to the fact that many victims of motor accidents on the Eyre Highway are visitors from the eastern States. Usually, uninjured occupants of motor cars involved in accidents on that highway return to the eastern States. When the Western Australian coroner proceeds to hold an inquest into the cause of death of a victim of an accident, he finds that he is unable to call any witnesses. I suggest that this matter should be investigated at the federal level. It would be no answer for the Minister to say that this is a State matter, and beyond the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction. I suggest to him that it could possibly be accepted as a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to invite the States to have a look at this question, because only machinery measures are necessary to overcome the difficulty.
.- 1 refer to Division 59 - Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, for which the proposed vote is £136,000. My comments will be directed particularly to the form of the Estimates under this division. I do not know when the Estimates were prepared in their final form - the form in which they were printed and presented to the House of Representatives, and then came to this chamber as the second schedule to the Appropriation Bill. I suggest, in view of the recent amendments to the Commonwealth Industrial and Arbitration machinery, that the heading of the division is now misleading. The heading, “ Division No. 59 - Court of Conciliation and Arbitration “, is an embracing term. Prior to the passage of the legislation earlier this year-
– The Estimates were compiled before that legislation was enacted.
– I should like the Minister to explain why the Estimates were compiled finally in this form. I consulted the amending legislation, and I found that the substantial amendment to the Arbitration Act was assented to on 30th June. The legislation was actually passed by this Parliament some considerable time prior to that.
– 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.
– For the information of the Senate, and for the particular information of Senator Mattner, I undertook to supply Senator Mattner with certain information at an early date. I think my statement was that the Bar Association of Victoria had pronounced upon not only the right of counsel to accept a case, but also his duty to accept. I refer the honorable senator to the “ Canberra Times “ of 27th October, 1950. The statement in that newspaper appeared in most of the press on that date. If the honorable senator prefers I shall obtain the information for him in more authentic form, but I should like hint to listen while I read the following brief account under the heading “ Bar Outlines Duty of a Barrister”: -
Melbourne, Thursday. - A Barrister is not entitled to refuse a case merely because of the character of the cause, the Chairman of the Committee of Counsel, Mr. E. R. Reynolds. K.C., said to-day.
Mr. Reynolds issued a statement on behalf of the Victorian Bar.
The statement dealt with the action of Dr. H. V. Evatt in appearing for the Waterside Workers’ Federation and its general secretary, j. Healy, in the High Court Challenge to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
Mr. Reynolds said the current public discussions involved propriety of members of the Bar holding briefs in certain causes.
He added that to avoid public misunderstanding on the position of the barrister concerned, and to prevent unfair criticism, the Committee of Counsel stated: “It is a barrister’s duty to accept a brief in courts in which he professes to practice, at a proper professional fee, unless there are special circumstances to justify his refusal to accept the particular brief. “ Special circumstances are such as would cause professional embarrassment to counsel offered such a brief, and include unfairness to any other party to the cause, and any impediment to the best effort of counsel in his conduct of his client’s case. “ A barrister is not entitled to refuse a brief merely because of the character of the cause or of that of the client or he does not share the ideas involved in the former, or dislikes the latter. “ Unless this were so it might happen frequently that many claims or defences might not be put properly or at all before the courts, and many persons might be denied justice under the law. “ A litigant is entitled to free choice of counsel, and counsel is bound-
I invite Senator Mattner, in particular, to note the word “ bound “. The article continues - by his profession to take up his cause. “ The decision on whether he is likely to be embarrassed or not is one for the individual barrister concerned, and in which he must be guided by his knowledge and his conscience”, the statement added.
– I admit the statement attributed to me, but I would respectfully ask the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) to read the last paragraph of the quotation again. The words to which I took exception were that it was counsel’s bounden duty to appear. J have read that statement, and I cannot see that it is his bounden duty to appear. He has the option of taking the case or not, but he is not in any way bound to appear. That is how I read it. The early part of the statement says it is the duty of a man to appear in the court, but whether it is his bounden duty is another matter.
– He can refuse to appear.
– He can refuse. There is nothing in that argument, as far as I can see, that proves that it is his bounden duty to appear.
– He wanted to appear.
– I think the Leader of the Opposition wished us to understand that once he was asked he had no option but to take the case. I have never entered into a discussion such as this before, and if the Leader of the Opposition thinks I am misquoting him, 1 shall withdraw the statement 1 have made. The last part of the statement does not say that it is his bounden duty to appear. One is justly entitled to his opinion, whether the person concerned is Dr. Evatt or any other counsel. I am not concerned as to the reason why he appeared, but 1 do not think the Victorian bar stated that it was his bounden duty to appear. However, if the Leader of the Opposition wishes me to withdraw my statement that what he said was untrue I willingly do so.
– I believe we must all agree with the statement read out by the Leader of the Oppositon (Senator McKenna). I do not propose to question it in the slightest degree. He is perfectly correct when he says that, except in special circumstances, a barrister must accept a brief in a court in which he professes to practice. One of those special circumstances. I mentioned before. It is good ethics in the profession that no judge ever returns as an advocate to a court over which he has presided. That is one of the special circumstances. Apart from that, let me add, as every law student knows, no counsel is ever briefed in any case unless he has his heart in it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 October 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19561017_senate_22_s9/>.