23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Antarctic Treaty Bill 1960.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1960.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is there any truth in to-day’s press reports that the Government proposes to impose further drastic credit restrictions? Does the Minister agree that further credit restrictions will have a very adverse effect on, among other things, home-building and that a further restriction of home-building will inevitably bring general unemployment? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government has yet examined the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, which has been in the hands of the Government for over twelve months? If the Government has not yet examined this report, can the Minister say when it is likely to do so? If the report has been examined, when can the people expect to be given an opportunity, by referendum, to clothe this Parliament with the constitutional powers necessary to enable it to deal with the basic causes of inflation, namely, restrictive trade practices, unbridled prices and astronomical profits? As these matters are viewed very seriously by the Australian people, will the Minister make a reassuring statement on them?
– The honorable senator bases his question on a newspaper report. That is not in accordance with the usual parliamentary procedure. If the Government at any time has a statement of policy to make on any matter, it will make the statement in this Parliament. It would be wise to wait and see whether there is any truth in this report. In answer to the questions about the Constitutional Review Committee’s report, I can only say what has been said previously in answer to such questions. The report is under consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister aware that the population of Tasmania declined by more than 1,000 persons last year? Is he also aware that Tasmania’s intake of immigrants is not so high, in proportion to population, as are the intakes of other States? In order to help to correct this position, would the Minister for Immigration consider the establishment of a migrant holding centre in Tasmania, so that new settlers in this country would have an opportunity to see the best State in Australia and to settle in it?
– I did not see the statistical return which gave the information referred to by the honorable senator, but I have noted with some disappointment that the population of Tasmania has declined by about 1,000 people, as he suggests. I shall approach the Minister for Immigration concerning the honorable senator’s suggestion that a migrant holding centre be established in Tasmania, but I think we all would like to see something more permanent than a holding centre. Unless work is available for the migrants and there is a future for them in Tasmania, of course the State will lose them as soon as they are able to get jobs in other parts of the Commonwealth. I should like the honorable senator to bring to the attention of the Premier of Tasmania the apparent fact that there are not sufficient jobs in Tasmania to keep the people there, and to ask the Premier to see what he can do to remedy this position as soon as possible.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, relates to the granting of licences for the keeping of domesticated rabbits in New South Wales. This is a matter of grave concern to a number of pastures protection boards in that State. The Molong Pastures Protection Board has already refused to grant licences, and I have a communication from the Dubbo Pastures Protection Board protesting about the granting of licences and seeking information from the C.S.I.R.O. about the possibility of domesticated rabbits reverting to the wild state. 1 therefore ask the Minister whether he will take up with the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. the questions raised in the letter written by the Dubbo Pastures Protection Board, which I propose to hand to him.
– 1 am sorry, but I do not seem to have understood the honorable senator’s question. I do not think that the C.S.I.R.O. issues licences for the keeping of domestic rabbits. Perhaps the honorable senator could address another question to me in a few minutes, telling me the particular matters about which the writers of the letters are worried. I shall then undertake to bring the matter to the notice of my colleague.
– I asked whether the Minister would take up the matter with the C.S.I.R.O. I now hand him the documents.
– Yes, I shall do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the continuing falls in share values on the stock-exchange, the ever-tightening credit squeeze in the business community, the falling overseas trade balances, the high rate of bankruptcies, the increasing incidence of repossessions, the boom in debt collecting business and dismissals of employees in the coal mining and other industries, will the Minister tell the Senate whether the Government has a policy to counter these trends? If it has no such policy, will he say whether the Government has any policy at all or whether it is just drifting dangerously?
– I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable senator to events on the stock market. Until this point of time, he had always regarded with some derision the suggestion that the stock market was in a buoyant state. I can only tell him that employment in this country is now at a point which has not been reached for very many years. The last figures that I saw, only yesterday, showed that there were 34,000, I think it was, people drawing unemployment benefit. As to the so-called credit squeeze, I invite the honorable senator to have a look, if he so desires, at some authentic figures. If he does so, he will see that far from the banks exerting a credit squeeze, advances are being extended week by week. Regarding the question whether we have policies to meet the situation that he alleges to exist, I say yes, we have. This Government will meet with resolution and with the same success that it has achieved in the last ten years, whatever situation arises.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noticed a statement in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ that steel imports into Australia currently are running at the rate of £53,000,000 per annum? In view of the large amount of money needed for the importation of steel and also in view of the fact that Western Australia has large quantities of iron ore and other materials needed for the manufacture of steel, will the Minister consider inviting the Premier of Western Australia to accompany him in approaching steel firms, including the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and overseas firms, with the object of establishing a steel industry in Western Australia?
– I have not seen the newspaper report to which Senator Scott refers, but I know that there has been a substantial increase in the amount of steel imported into Australia to meet the big demand created by the expansion that is occurring throughout Australia. The honorable senator has mentioned the Western Australian iron ore deposits and the establishment of a Western Australian steel industry. I can say little more than that I wish the Western Australian Government every success in any efforts it may make to establish a steel industry in that State, but I think it is a matter which is best left to the Western Australian Government.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister give the Senate any information about the comparative cost of imported steel and Australianproduced steel?
– I do not have the figures in my mind; but I know that imported steel is substantially more expensive than Australian-produced steel.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer state what rate of interest is charged by the Commonwealth Development Bank on advances to primary producers? How many primary producers received accommodation from the bank in the year ended 30th June, 1960? In view of the statement by the general manager, Mr. Callaghan, relative to the need for increased farm efficiency and greater productivity to combat reducing rural incomes, should not the terms of advances to primary producers be as liberal as possible? Is there any substance in the criticism expressed in the Tasmanian Parliament to the effect that conditions governing advances are not much more generous than those of a trading bank?
– The question calls for a good deal of detail. I have not in my mind the number of advances made to primary producers by the Commonwealth Development Bank in the last financial year. For that reason, I ask that the question be put on the notice-paper. In regard to the last part of the question, however, I should like to say that the function of the Commonwealth Development Bank, as has been frequently explained in this chamber, is to enable development to be undertaken in circumstances that would not attract the usual types of loans. That policy is being pursued by the bank.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. President. At the end of the “ Journals of the Senate “ for Thursday, 27th October, the attendance of senators in the chamber on that day is shown. On that day, I understand, Senator Gorton was representing you and I was representing my leader and party at the funeral of Mr. Frank Timson. In the “ Journals of the Senate” for 27th October, Senator Gorton and I are recorded as having been absent without leave. Can a position such as that be rectified, so that a senator who is away on what may be regarded as official business is not marked absent without leave in the “ Journals of the Senate “?
– I will go into that matter and reply to the honorable senator at a later date.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. When does the Australian Broad casting Control Board expect to be in a position to take evidence in relation to phase 4 of the Government’s television programme? I remind the Minister that phase 4 deals with the provision of country television stations in South Australia and Western Australia.
– Later in to-day’s proceedings I hope to make a statement on behalf of the Postmaster-General concerning television licences in phase 3. When phase 3 has been dealt with we will then be in a position to consider phase 4. and the areas that Senator Pearson has referred to are included in what is described in the Broadcasting and Television Act as phase 4.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. During last week great interest was expressed in legal and government circles in Adelaide in the nature and prolixity of the rules contemplated under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959. Will the Attorney-General give an assurance that these rules will be tabled in Parliament at an early date and that adequate time will be afforded for consideration of them? I consider that the rules are quite as important and as far-reaching as the act itself. Will the Attorney-General consider delaying the proclamation of the act until Parliament has had an opportunity to consider and approve the rules?
– I will bring to the notice of the Attorney-General the questions asked by the honorable senator and I will ask the Attorney-General to reply to them by letter.
– I am not sure to whom I should direct my question, but perhaps it should be directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware that as a result of the recent increase in pensions, the rentals of houses let to pensioners in Western Australia under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement have been increased? Can the Minister inform me whether such increases are mandatory under the agreement, as the Chief Secretary in
Western Australia has stated that they are, and that the States have no control over the situation? Does not the Minister consider that an increase in rentals, following the small pension increase, nullifies the purpose of the pension increase, which was to assist in meeting living costs at the date that it was granted? If an adjustment in rentals is mandatory under the agreement following an increase in income by the tenant, will the Minister consider amending the agreement so that it does not apply to pensioners?
– The honorable senator will realize that pensioners who pay rent receive an allowance of 10s. a week. If the honorable senator will place her question on the notice-paper I will obtain a considered reply from the Minister for Social Services.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that generally speaking persons wishing to travel on the East-West railway service must book many weeks ahead? Is it a fact that only a limited coastal passenger shipping service is available between Perth and Sydney? If so, can authority be granted under the Navigation Act to overseas passenger shipping companies enabling them to accept passenger bookings much earlier before the scheduled departure dates of their ships than is now permissible?
– I think it would be preferable if I were to refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and get the honorable senator a complete, up-to-date answer on the actual situation in respect of the booking of passengers on ships other than Australian registered passenger ships.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization inform me whether the attention of that body has been directed to the destructive effects of a certain microscopic insect, which I believe is known as the lerp, on the eucalyptus trees in Canberra? As the eucalyptus trees over large areas of South Australia appear to be similarly affected, will the Minister take up this matter with the C.S.I.R.O. with a view to having the depredations of this pest investigated to determine whether any measure of control could be exercised in relation to it? I understand that the activities of this pest are having a serious effect on gum trees in large areas of Australia.
– I have never heard of the insect to which the honorable senator has referred. Did I understand him to say that it is known as a lurk?
– No. It is the lerp.
– I am afraid I am not up to date in relation to it. I thought the honorable senator said it was known as a lurk, and of course, there are a few of them around Canberra. I certainly undertake to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. who, I am sure, will be very interested in the question. Anything that destroys our eucalyptus trees is something that we should have a look at.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: ls the policy of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in all its phases dictated by the Federal Government? Is it the policy of this Government to buy expensive building sites - the latest reported instance being the payment of £48,000 for a site at Surfers Paradise - resulting in would-be producers being refused loans for development purposes? Is it at the dictation of the Commonwealth Bank that the other trading banks are pursuing a similar policy of buying sites and yet refusing to grant legitimate loans for the development of this country?
– The Commonwealth Banking Corporation is a statutory corporation which was established by an act of Parliament. As a statutory corporation, it enjoys certain rights and privileges which are specifically detailed in the legislation that was passed by the Parliament. The acquisition of sites for the erection of premises is a matter which, of its nature, would be decided by the bank without consultation with or reference to the Government. I think that all I can do for the honorable senator in respect of this matter is to say that I will refer her question to the Treasurer and ask him whether the Commonwealth Banking Corporation could furnish a statement supplying the information that she seeks. The other banks, of course, are not in any way controlled by the Government or by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation except insofar as their lending policy falls within the ambit of the Reserve Bank of Australia. I have no information at all on the activities of the private banks.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, concerns a recent case in England, of which no doubt the Minister is very well aware. As the result of that case, D. H. Lawrence’s well known book “ Lady Chatterley’s Lover “ was taken off the prohibited list. I now ask the Minister: ls this book prohibited in Australia? If it is, can he say when it was prohibited, and by whom? Is a reconsideration of the Australian Government’s attitude towards this book contemplated, in the light of the decision taken in England, which I think has the approbation of the whole of the artistic world? If the Minister does not feel inclined to release this book now, would he care to comment upon the situation that arises from a decision made in Australia being at variance with a decision made in England, after very careful consideration, by people who, I think, are competent to study this question? Will the Minister say how the two attitudes to such a very important matter can be reconciled?
– I understand that the book was banned in every Commonwealth country over 30 years ago, at the time it was written. I am sorry that I cannot tell the honorable senator precisely when and by whom the decision was made in Australia. I have asked the Literature Censorship Board to have a look at the matter, in view of what has happened in England, and in due course a decision will be made.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-
General. Has the Postmaster-General any statistics showing the effect of increased postal charges on the volume of Christmas mail last year? Will the Government consider re-introducing lower postage rates for Christmas cards this season?
– I have no information about the effect of increased charges on the volume of Christmas mail last year, and I cannot hold out any hope that there will be a variation of the existing charges to cover this year’s Christmas mail.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation any information to give to the Senate on the degree to which the legislation authorizing the granting of business concessions at airports has been availed of in the various States? Can the Minister tell the Senate the amount of revenue that is being derived from that source?
– The honorable senator knows that I do nol have available now the detailed information that he wants. I shall certainly get it and let him have it as soon as I can. Work is being done now on the extension of business concessions at the Sydney airport. I hope to be in a position quite soon to say something about what is happening in respect of further concessions there and at Melbourne. There has been activity in this connexion at a number of other airports.
– I direct a further question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it proposed shortly to introduce parking meters at the Adelaide airport? I have noticed that many uprights for meters have been erected there.
– Yes, I understand that parking meters are to be installed shortly at Adelaide and, indeed, at quite a few other airports.
– Can the Minister for National Development say whether the Prime Minister is considering a proposal of the Premier of South Australia for an early meeting to discuss with him the pros and cons of the proposed dam on the river Murray above Renmark, which would conserve much-needed water for use in South Australia? As this matter is of vital and urgent importance to South Australia, will the Minister recommend such a meeting and do his utmost to expedite it so that the concurrence of the State governments w.. be sought?
– From what Senator Buttfield says, it seems that this is a matter between the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia. That being so, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to express views upon it.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether his colleague has yet been able to put to the Cabinet certain proposals relating to the standardization of the railway system in the Peterborough division in South Australia?
– I think the honorable senator asked me a question on this matter two or three weeks ago. I am not in a position to add anything to the answer I then gave him. However, I shall take advantage of the first opportunity to discuss it with the Minister for Shipping and Transport with a view to finding out whether anything has transpired.
– ls the Minister for Civil Aviation able to tell the Senate when the air service to Orange in New South Wales, for which I understand a licence has already been granted, will be in operation?
– I cannot inform the honorable senator with any precision when this service will come into operation. Discussions that I had in Orange last week will, I hope, have led to the recommencement of work at the airport which had been suspended. It is expected that some three or four months after the resumption of that work the airport will have been completed and the service to Orange will have commenced. The approximate date of commencement is January or February of next year.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now informed me as follows: -
The Commonwealth Statistician advises that the percentages (on value basis) of Australian exports of certain primary and other products for the years ended June, 1959, and June, 1960, are as follows: -
Items of primary produce in the table above comprise unprocessed produce and goods which have been processed in some degree before export. It should be noted that in any classification of this kind the line drawn between primary produce and manufactures is necessarily arbitrary in some respects. The value of processed primary products exported includes some element of value added by the simpler processes of manufacture, while the value shown for manufactures exported necessarily includes the value of raw materials (primary produce) used in these manufactures.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Llanherne Airport at Hobart?
– The answers to the questions are as follows: -
The main items are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
In the event of a request being made of the Department of the Army to assistfire brigade and other fire righting organizations with flamethrowers, &c, to dear heavy and unusual growth of herbage and brush on uncleared areas, will Army personnel, resident in South Australia, be available for this purpose?
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answer: -
If practicable the Army will always provide assistance to State authorities in the event of an emergency and orders to facilitate this have been issued. However, such assistance is normally given only on the request of the appropriate State authority, who requests assistance when the emergency is beyond the capacity of its resources.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now provided the answer which is shown in the following table: -
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2. I understand that representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation recently met representatives of the employers of waterside labour and that some correspondence has passed between them about this subject. The Government has not been involved in these exchanges.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following information: -
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Australian Broadcasting Control Board- Report and recommendations to the PostmasterGeneral on applications for commercial television licences in provincial and country areas.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The statement I am making is in identical terms with a statement made by the Post- master-General (Mr. Davidson) in another place this afternoon. It reads -
On 30th April, 1959, I made a statement in the House outlining the Government’s policy with respect to the extension of television services to country and provincial areas in the Commonwealth. In that statement I indicated that, as afirst stage in the establishment of country stations, applications for the grant of licences in thirteen specified areas would be invited. I stated also that as far as practicable, priority inthe granting of such licences would be given to applications from local independent companies not associated with metropolitan stations, provided that the applicants demonstrated their capacity to provide, in the circumstances prevailing in the areas concerned, services comparable to those available to city viewers. Forty-five applications were received and, pursuant to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act, these were referred to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for public inquiry and report to me. Prior to the board’s hearings, the number of applications was reduced to 41. The board subsequently conducted extensive inquiries not only into the applications received but also into such matters as the availability of programme material and a number of technical aspects including in particular the availability of frequency channels.
The board’s report on its inquiries, which I shall lay on the table of the House, raises several fundamental issues. It has in consequence been under consideration by the Government for some little time. I am now, however, in a position to announce that the Government has authorized me to grant licences to the following companies in the areas indicated: - Canberra area, Canberra Television Limited; Newcastle-Hunter River area, Newcastle Broadcasting and Television Corporation Limited; Illawarra area, Television Wollongong Transmissions Limited: Richmond-Tweed Heads area, Richmond Tweed T.V. Limited; Central Tablelands area, Country Television Services Limited; Ballarat area,Ballarat and
Western Victoria Television Limited; Bendigo area, Bendigo and Central Victorian Telecasters Limited; Latrobe Valley area, Eastern Victoria Television Proprietary Limited; Goulbourn Valley area, Goulburn-Murray Television Proprietary Limited; Darling Downs area, Darling Downs T.V. Limited; Rockhampton area, Rockhampton Television Limited; Townsville area, Telecasters North Queensland Limited; North-eastern Tasmania area, Northern Television Limited.
The constitution of these companies is set out in Part II. of the board’s report.
It will be noted that, for the present, one station only, operated by a local independent company, is to be licensed in each of the areas. I wish to make it quite clear that this does not involve a decision that only one licence will be granted in any of these areas, or that there is any understanding with any of the successful applicants for an exclusive licence. On the contrary, as the service develops and the need for and ability to support a second independent station in any of the areas is demonstrated the Government will entertain further applications and consider the grant of further licences. The licences to be granted will be subject to a number of conditions which I will notify shortly to the successful applicants. In particular, modifications of the shareholdings in some of the companies will be required to provide that at least 50 per cent. of the shares will be made available to the public.
The licences will also be granted subject to the condition that no exclusive arrangement may be entered into by the licensees with any metropolitan station for the provision of programmes or for the sale of station time or advertising. This conforms with the condition which was prescribed in respect of the single commercial stations in Perth and Hobart, a condition, which I understand has operated successfully in these areas.
Certain questions of detail in connexion with the extension of the service to country areas still remain to be settled. I refer in particular to the question of the availability of frequency channels which has been reviewed by the board, and which is being examined also by the Radio Frequency Allocations Review Committee, which I asked some time ago specially to examine the question. Another matter to be settled is that relating to the sites for some of the stations. These aspects will be dealt with by a Cabinet sub-committee appointed by the Government for the purpose.
The Government has also decided that, in conformity with its policy of providing a national as well as a commercial service, work should proceed immediately on the establishment of a national transmitter in each of the thirteen areas concerned. The installation of thirteen national stations in four different States is a project of some magnitude and, although planning has been proceeding for some time, the work constitutes a major task for the departments involved - Department of Works, Postmaster-General, Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Therefore, 1 am not, at this stage, in a position to say precisely the time at which the stations can be brought into operation or the order of their establishment. Practical considerations will largely determine these matters but every effort will be made to have the stations operating with as little delay as possible.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Report of the Public Accounts Committee.
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee, I present the following report: -
Fiftieth Report - Reports of the Auditor-General -Financial Year 1958-59 and move -
That the paper be printed.
I should like to say for the information of the Senate that this fiftieth report is the first to have been based exclusively on the annual reports of the Auditor-General. In previous years, the reports have been considered by the committee, but the following up of particular items was done in the course of other inquiries. The present committee considers that circumstances now warrant regular inquiries and reports dealing specifically with matters arising from the Auditor-General’s reports to the Parliament.
As some of the investigations related to the reports of the Auditor-General for the year 1958-59 have proved extensive, we propose to submit the results in two separate reports of which the fiftieth report is the first. This report deals with two subjects only: (a) the delay in the issuing by the Treasurer, of a financial directive under section 25 (2.) of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949-1958; and (b) the delay in the promulgation of amending regulations prescribing new rates of pay and allowances for members of the defence forces, and unlawful payments made in the absence of these amending regulations. The first subject refers to a matter which had been pressed consistently with the Department of the Treasury by the Minister for National Development, the Auditor-General and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. The Department of the Treasury has explained that the delay was caused by an abnormal flow of work and a shortage of “ capable “ staff in the particular branch concerned. The directive was due to have been issued in September, 1957, but could not have been put into effect fully until about November, 1959, as the authority was occupied until then on the complete recasting of its accounts to meet the requirements of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act as amended in 1958.
The directive relates to the terms attaching to the advances - amounting to £162,683,249 at 30th June, 1960 - made to the authority by the Commonwealth. The directive still has not been issued and your committee finds it hard to believe that the Department of the Treasury could not have found means whereby an officer could have been relieved of other duties to allow him the week or so considered necessary to do this work.
The other subject relates to the practice carried on over many years by the Departments of Navy, Army and Air of making unlawful payments to service personnel. The situation disclosed by your committee’s investigations has caused grave concern as there has been not only an acceptance of the right to act outside the strict requirements of the law but also a serious breakdown in the administrative machinery of government.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 27th October (vide page 1371).
Department of the Navy.
Proposed Vote, £44,716,000.
– Mr. Chairman, the Department of the Navy calls for very close scrutiny. Its story makes one of the remarkable pages in the history of this country. According to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), since 1950 we have spent £1,768,000.000 on defence. 1 have ascertained that approximately £450,000,000 of that amount has been spent by the Navy. That is a fair amount of money and I am anxious to know just what we have got for it. If one takes any interest in that arm of defence, which is called, of course, the senior arm, one wants to know what we have to show tor that expenditure of £450,000,000. I am amazed to think that in recent months we have learned more about what the Navy is going to do from the press than we have from the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton).
– lt is the silent service.
– On Navy matters the Minister is indeed silent! 1 look at the position with a great deal of concern. I believe that this country should be defended. If this nation spends money, this Parliament has an obligation closely to scrutinize the expenditure and satisfy itself that the people are receiving a proper return for the expenditure. I do not think that any one by any stretch of imagination, could think that we have had £450,000,000 worth from the Navy in the last ten years, f believe that the policy of the Navy could be rightly described as one of dithering, delay and confusion. To my mind, the total result we have is one of monumental waste, indecision and chronic unpreparedness. 1 will mention a few examples. Five years or more ago the Government decided that it was necessary to refit and re-equip the “Hobart”. About £1,000,000 was spent on that work and then the ship was put in mothballs: That is very good administration! I do not know for whom it is good administration. If the ship was refitted by an outside firm, no doubt that company got its corner; but that is not good business from an Australian point of view. Senator Kendall, who interjects, will have his turn to speak and if he, with his naval and marine service, can talk himself out of supporting the policy of the Navy in recent years and the amount that has been spent, I will be very pleased to listen in due course.
– Included in that £450,000,000 is £200,000,000 for salaries and wages.
– All I am saying at the moment is that £1,000,000 was spent on the “ Hobart “ and then the work was halted and the ship was put in mothballs, and now it is to be scrapped. Possibly it will be sold to the highest bidder. The people who buy the most scrap iron from Australia are our old friends the Japs - or are they our new friends? If there is another conflict, we may be getting that scrap iron back in shells. It is all very wonderful, but I am concerned about the expenditure of millions of pounds.
The next venture was the purchase of an aircraft carrier. The decision sounded extremely brave when it was made. We in this chamber and the people of Australia were told that the carrier was vital to the defence of this nation. Now we can look at what has been done with the aircraft carrier. The ship and the aircraft, which were acquired at very considerable expense, are to be scrapped in 1963.
Let us look at what the Government said about the submarines that it proposed to buy, and what one can read about the matter. The most remarkable thing about the present Minister for the Navy is that he is the only defence Minister who has not stood up in the Parliament and told us something about the Navy. He is a great personal friend of mine. He looks delightful in the admiral’s hat. But when millions of pounds are spent, the people are entitled to be told about the Navy. I suggest with the greatest respect that it is time the Minister read to the Senate a paper on the Navy. He cannot be accused alone and all the blame cannot be put on his shoulders because he has not been Minister for the Navy for very long. Unfortunately he is following the tradition of the silent service. This is not good enough for the people of Australia. The Government is spending large sums of money on the Navy and the people are entitled to know how that money is being spent. Recently, I asked a question-
– You got a pretty good answer.
– I do not think I did. I do not wish to be offensive to Senator Kendall but I remind him that some people are prone to rush in where angels fear to tread. On 25th October last I placed a question about the Navy on the notice-paper and so far I have not received a reply. I thought that after a week’s break I might have got a reply. When I remembered that we would be discussing the Navy to-day 1 understood why I had not received a reply to that question. On 29th September I placed a question on the notice-paper to which I received a reply from the Minister for the Navy on 13th October. In answering that question the Minister said that details of the horsepower, speed and fuel capacity of vessels of the Royal Australian Navy was classified information and for that reason could not be supplied to me. But a very good friend of mine, who possibly knows more about the Navy than I do, told me that the information is published in “Jane’s Fighting Ships” 1958-59 at page 66, and that acknowledgments for the information are made at page 8 of the foreword to that edition to Captain I. H. McDonald, Australian Director of Naval Intelligence, Melbourne. I can tell the Minister quite candidly that if I had been aware that the information I sought was available in “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “ I would not have asked my question.
– I thought you were trying to check the information.
– I do not think it is right for the Minister or anybody in his department to attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people by saying that these details cannot be given because it is classified information. The information is freely available to anybody. The silent service indeed!
I should like to know what steps the Government is taking to purchase the submarines that it has said are vital for the defence of this country. Will the Government purchase as many submarines as it proposed to purchase some months ago? Last year I think the Government announced that it would purchase eight submarines. I have read in the press lately - I admit I am not a great believer in the accuracy of the press - that the Government proposes now to buy only three submarines. At least let the Government tell us what it intends to do. Its present intention is to obtain those submarines on hire purchase. I do not know whether the Government will pay the same high rates of interest as are charged to ordinary persons in the community who enter into hire-purchase contracts. Another thing that concerns me is the fact that the Government will be committing future governments to a hire-purchase transaction. It is all very well for this Government to obtain its vessels on hire-purchase but future governments should not be compelled to pay for this Government’s mistakes.
I understand that existing destroyers will be modified to enable them to carry guided missiles. If this is so, at least we will be getting something like modern defence vessels. I cannot understand how the famous Australian Naval Board could think that a destroyer’s pom-poms would be of any use against guided missiles. What has happened with H.M.A.S. “Melbourne”? The Government now proposes to retain “ Melbourne “ in service. I do not know whether this means that the Navy has won its battle against the Air Force. The Royal Australian Navy was born in 1910 when predecessors of honorable senators opposite said that the Australian Labour Party would never defend Australia. That was at a time when those who sat on the other side of the chamber opposed Australia having her own Navy.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise merely to enable Senator Kennelly to continue his speech.
.- I thank Senator Kendall for his kindness. Let the Government tell us something about H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “. That vessel carries an illustrious name - one of which the Minister and I are proud, because both of us come from Victoria. The Government now intends to keep “ Melbourne “ until 1963, but to do so will cost about £2,000,000 a year. The Government is deluding the people of Australia about the need to keep “ Melbourne “ in service.
– You must have a ship for training.
– One day the Government says that it will purchase eight submarines and a little later it changes its mind. One day it says that it will scrap H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ and then suddenly it decides to retain her. Will the Government ever make up its mind? I do not mind the Government making mistakes - we are used to that - but it should inform the people, who provide the money, just what is its naval policy. As a young boy I remember listening to speeches made by the late John Curtin when he stood for the electorate of Balaclava in 1914. He was the first man in Australia to advocate the inclusion of submarines in our Navy. Any suggestion that is put forward by the Labour Party is said to be wrong, but, as history shows, whenever this country finds herself at war the Labour Party is called upon to take charge. To be quite candid, I think that this Government thinks more of the prestige of the Navy than in terms of real need. What are the three main threats to sea communications? The first threat is offered by long range land-based aircraft. That is a phrase that has been used by the Minister. Our naval ships could not combat that threat. Secondly, we must have submarines that are capable of a high underwater speed. But have we got any? Our naval ships could not combat a threat from submarines of that kind. Thirdly, there is the danger of mines. Have we any ships equipped to handle modern mines?
– Plenty of them are.
- Senator Kendall seems to have a different opinion from that of notable writers on naval affairs. It is tremendously difficult, not only for members of Parliament but also for the people outside to ascertain whether the Minister for the Navy, or the Government as a whole, has a clear concept of the types of naval vessels that are most suitable for the defence of this country. As I said before, this Government has provided £450,000,000 for the Navy in ten years.I do not say that the naval personnel should not receive adequate pay. They are just as entitled to adequate payment as I am. But I say to the Minister that he should not try to fool the people all the time.
I come now to another aspect of the matter. Why does this Government continue slavishly to follow the British pattern when ships are being constructed for the Royal Australian Navy? The ships of the Royal Navy patrol, in the main,the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Our naval ships patrol the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Surely Senator Kendall -I say this to him with respect - does not believe that if another war came, ships of similar design would be suitable for all those theatres.
Let us have a look at our present naval vessels and those that are under construction. We have the “Voyager”, the “ Vendetta”, and the “ Vampire “ of 2,600 tons each, corresponding with the Daring class destroyers of the Royal Navy. There are the “ Tobruk “ and the “ Anzac “, of 2,400 tons each, which correspond with the Battle class destroyers. There are the “ Arunta “ and the “ Warramunga “, of 1,800 tons each, which correspond with the Tribal class destroyers. We have the frigates “ Quickmatch “, “ Quiberon “ and “ Quality “ that correspond with the Rocket class of the Royal Navy. The frigates “ Yarra “ and “ Parramatta “ are under construction. They correspond with the Whitby class of the Royal Navy.
No one could say that ships that are quite suitable for the Royal Navy would necessarily be suitable to patrol the vast areas that our Navy is required to patrol. The Royal Navy operates in the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, whereas our Navy operates in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The Naval Board, instead of persisting in slavishly following the outmoded British naval design, should adopt a bold and enterprising attitude by ensuring that our naval vessels are suitable for the conditions under which they are required to operate. Sweden has a specially designed destroyer for use in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. It has a operation range of 3,000 miles at 20 knots. Our destroyers of the “ Vendetta “ type, which patrol the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, are similar in design to the Swedish destroyer and have only the same range as that ship. I understand that France has a class of destroyer of almost the same size but which has a range of 5,000 miles.
– What class is that? Has the honorable senator got particulars of it?
– I have the name of it in my notes, and if the Minister would pronounce it for meI would be delighted.
– Spell it.
– I do not know whether the Minister would be able to pronounce the name if I spelt it. Therefore, in order to make quite sure that I do not make a mistake, I shall side-step the name.
I come now to the naval ships that are under construction. 1 say that we should be building ships that will have a much longer range, in view of the vast areas they will be required to patrol. It is stupid to build short-range ships. How many of our present naval ships can go from Melbourne to Perth without refuelling?
– Any of them can.
– 1 doubt it. 1 ask the Minister: Will the “ Yarra “ and the “ Parramatta “ be able to go from Melbourne to Perth without re-fuelling? There is another feature that I wish to mention. Our naval ships are used in the tropics, but the British naval ships operate in colder climates. A few weeks ago, I asked the Minister for the Navy a question about the provision of facilities for showering in our naval ships.
– Did not the honorable senator agree with the answer the Minister supplied?
– No, of course 1 did not, because the reply was contrary to facts.
– Ninety tons of water a day is provided for the purpose.
– Apparently Senator Kendall believes that the showering facilities for the men of the Royal Australian Navy are ample. Can he tell me why there is a notice exhibited on the “ Arunta “ - or a regulation - which states that petty officers will shower once a week as an example to the men? Does Senator Kendall consider that one shower a week in the tropics is sufficient?
I turn now to the space available for personnel. I believe that the installation of additional electronic equipment is reducing the space available to both officers and men. Why must we slavishly follow the pattern of a galley for ten officers and another galley for a couple of hundred men? Surely we learned something in the last war from American ships, which had only one galley for each ship. We follow this practice in submarines. Why do we not follow it in all vessels? A friend of mine loaned me a most interesting book written by an exadmiral of the Royal Navy. The author referred to the convoying of ships carrying supplies to Russia, which was our ally in World War II., as many seem to forget. He said that American sailors were well looked after, while most men on ships of the Royal Navy, however willing they were, could not fulfil their duties as a result of extreme weather conditions. If Senator Kendall wants to argue, I shall produce the book and he can then argue with its author; they may have held the same rank. We are supposed to be democratic. In this modern world, why should there be separate galleys for officers and men? Why can they not have one galley?
– lt is more convenient to have separate galleys.
– All that the honorable senator is concerned about is to keep up the prestige of the grand old flag, that he so often talks about at election time.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise principally to give Senator Kennelly an opportunity to continue, but while I am on my feet I direct attention to Division No. 474 - Civil Personnel- - Naval Offices and Establishments. It will be seen that the amount proposed to be provided for ordinary salaries and allowances is £3,000,000, while the amount proposed to be provided for temporary and casual employees is £4,240,000. 1 should like to know whether this is a continuation of the old story that we saw throughout the rest of the Estimates, with temporary employees in every department appearing to be increasing in number at the expense of permanent employees. I should like to know the qualifications required for transfer from the temporary list to the permanent list. For how long must a man be a temporary employee before he can become permanent, after he has satisfied all the scholastic requirements? In other departments we have very large numbers of what I call permanent temporaries, men who can never become permanent, even though they have given very satisfactory service for periods of up to twenty years, in many cases. 1 ask the Minister whether any time limit is placed upon the temporary service of civilian employees of the department for the control of which he is responsible. Why are men still temporary after having twenty years’ service, as in the case of one man of whom I have complete details, and who is, I believe, only one of many?
f4.30]. - I think that Senator Kennelly would probably like the first part of his remarks to be answered now, to give him the breather that I did not give him last time, but first, I should like to answer what Senator Tangney said. The large number of temporary employees shown in the estimates of the Department of the Navy is, to a large extent, accounted for by dockyard employees at Garden Island and other establishments of that kind, who are tradesmen and who come and go as it suits their convenience. They are not public servants in the sense in which Senator Tangney used the term. The number of temporary employees on the departmental staff is not in my mind at the moment. What is in my mind is that, in relation to permanent employees, the number is decreasing slightly, although I believe that it is not a bad policy, from the viewpoint of either the department or a number of the employees themselves, to have some temporary employees.
Senator Kennelly made a number of comments. First he said that the Navy has spent in the vicinity of £450,000,000 over the past ten years. In reply to his question as to what we have received fori that expenditure, I would say that we have had a Navy in being for the past ten years, a Navy which has during part of that time been engaged in hostilities in Korea as an arm of the United Nations, and which is supplying to the strategic reserve in Malaya warships in being and ready to move. The amount represented by pay and allowances of permanent naval forces and civilian personnel, general expenses, dockyard expenses and day-to-day running expenses, including some new capital expenditure, would run to about £370,000,000 over that period. It covers the pay, victuals, clothing and allowances which I am sure Senator Kennelly believes that serving men should have.
I was a little distressed to be taken to task by Senator Kennelly, first, because I had told him nothing, and secondly, for a number of things which he alleged I had told him. but which in fact neither I nor anybody else, except newspapers, had told him. He asked whether we were to net submarines. He said that last year we said we we would get eight submarines and we did not. He said that this year we said we would get three and we have not got them.
We have made no statements of such matters of detailed policy, nor will we until they are settled by Cabinet, when, as is usual, an announcement will be made to the Parliament.
If my memory serves me right, and I think it does, the aircraft carriers to which Senator Kennelly refers were ordered by the previous government, and I think that that was a good decision. “ Sydney “ was, of course, engaged in hostilities in Korea. “Melbourne” is now fully manned, with her complement of aircraft, and will remain so until at least 1963, when the flying of fixed wing aircraft from that ship will cease. That is the only statement that has been made on the matter. I myself am not rigid in opposition to Senator Kennelly’s suggestion that other than British designs might be incorporated in the Royal Australian Navy. I have no strong feeling, nor I think has the Government, that British designs and British designs only should be incorporated in the Navy, but neither have I the belief that Senator Kennelly has that a British design, merely because it is a British design, is of no use to our Navy.
– I did not say that, nor did I imply it. This is the same old story of your putting up Aunt Sallys and knocking them down.
– You put up this Aunt Sally, and I have knocked it over. British designs were incorporated in the cruisers and other ships which operated with great distinction in the Pacific Ocean with the United States Navy during the last war. Of course, the designs of the ships we have at present in the Australian Navy are not precisely the same as those of their counterparts in the British Navy. We have introduced air-conditioning and have made various alterations to fuel capacity and matters of that kind. At this point 1 should like to repeat what I said in answer to a question asked by Senator Kennelly some time ago - that is, the horse-power, speed and endurance of Royal Australian Navy ships are classified information. 1 know that in “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “, which is not an official publication, the estimates of designers and builders in regard to these matters are printed. I assumed that, as this information was public property, the question was asked in order to ascertain whether or not the published tacts were true. All that I say again in reply to the honorable senator is that the performance of Royal Australian Navy ships is classified information. It is of no point to suggest that it is not classified information simply by saying that a certain Navy officer is mentioned at the beginning of “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “ as having been of assistance to the editor.
– He was the Director of Naval Intelligence.
– Of course he was.
– As though he would know nothing about the matter!
– He would supply to the editor, who desired to bring his publication up to date, particulars about the numbers and types of ships and other matters of that kind, but he would not supply any classified information. 1 am not sure of the reply that should be made to Senator Kennelly’s strictures about “ Arunta “. I doubt whether there is a notice stating that petty officers shall shower once a week. If there is such a notice, it is on a ship which is in reserve and which has been in reserve for some time. However, I believe that the figures that have been quoted in reply to a question asked by Senator Kennelly in this chamber about the amount of water available in Daring class vessels, frigates and so on should more than satisfy his desire to have enough water made available. I have noted that his colleague, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), asked why we have not 40 gallons per man. The figures show that more than that quantity of water per man is available.
I should say that the number and situation of galleys are largely matters of opinion. However, I do not think we should discount the statement - I believe that it is borne out by Senator Kendall who has had experience in these ships, which I have not had - that ort occasions when vessels are closed up and stood to for long periods it is of advantage to have more than one centre from which hot meals can be provided to men at their posts in various parts of the ship.
.- I was led to believe by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who represents the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who represents the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), that when we were considering the proposed vote for the Department of the Navy it would be appropriate for me to seek from the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) an explanation of the sorry position of regulations in regard to pay and allowances of members of the Services. I hope the Minister agrees with my understanding of the situation.
– We need to take only a very brief time to remind ourselves of the debate that took place in this chamber recently regarding the long delay that had occurred in drafting regulations to give legal authority to increments of pay and allowances for the three Services. The period in question was twelve years in the case of the Army and somewhat less in the case of the other two Services. I rise to ask the Minister whether he will make a statement to honorable senators in regard to that matter. Secondly, I ask him to say whether he is prepared to announce the Government’s decision consequent upon the resolution of the Senate to disallow retrospective regulations to remedy the situation. I believe it is part of the responsibility of honorable senators to pursue their decision and to ask to be informed, before the proposed votes are passed, what decision the Government has arrived at to validate the payments that have been made.
The third matter concerns the report of the Public Accounts Committee that was tabled this afternoon. I have not had an opportunity to peruse the whole of it, but I note that the concluding paragraphs are pregnant with material which it is appropriate to bring to the attention of the Minister. I wish to direct attention to a paragraph of the report which follows a review of the dilatoriness and long continued contempt of the Parliament which have been displayed by the various departments, including the Department of the Treasury. These departments have displayed a contemptuous attitude in, I believe, deliberately delaying the drafting of regulations and in continuing to pay out moneys without lawful authority. The Public Accounts Committee, on which I have no voice but which is an independent committee consisting of representatives of all parties in both Houses of the Parliament, expressed this viewpoint in paragraph 75 of its report -
We have some evidence that action in anticipation of legislative authority has not been confined to the Departments of Navy, Army and Ah*. Accordingly, corrective measures should not be restricted to those departments alone but applied over the whole area of government.
Paragraph 77 reads -
We recommend also -
The committee has pointed out that the Public Service Board, when it had to provide legal authority for general salary increments, found it possible within a short space of time to produce 66 pages of regulations. By way of contrast, regulations covering the position in the Department of the Army covered four pages, those of the Air Force 22 pages, and those of the Navy fifteen pages.
– Order! I point out that this afternoon Senator McKenna obtained the adjournment of the debate on a motion that the report of the Public Accounts Committee be printed.
-I am obliged to you, Sir, for your reference to this matter, but I submit with respect that any rigid ruling that reference to this report is out of order would stultify the debate on the Estimates. I am merely making a passing reference to this matter.
The point is that although you make only a passing reference, it would be perfectly competent for Senator McKenna and any other senator to raise the same issue, with the result that this debate on the Estimates could develop into a general debate on the report of the Public Accounts Committee.
– I submit that that would be no disservice. The fact that these estimates provoke debate does not invite a ruling to curtail that debate. This report will provide a fund of material which
Senator McKenna, in his own good time, doubtless will bring before us, but I earnestly ask you not to prohibit an honorable senator from making a passing reference now to the report, which was tabled as recently as this afternoon.
-I shall not rule you out of order, but if a point of order is taken I shall uphold it. I shall certainly not allow, during the discussion of the Navy estimates, a debate on the report of the Public Accounts Committee.
– Let me put my remarks in prospective by saying that the matter I have mentioned can be bracketed with the third point I have raised. Any reference to the general deficiencies of the Service departments and their contempt of Parliament in continuing year after year to make payments without lawful authority would be incomplete without a tribute to the Public Accounts Committee for the great service that it has done in confirming the decision made by the Senate a fortnight or three weeks ago, at the instance of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee.I am simply making a passing reference to this report so that the Minister may advert to the comments that the committee has made. Without wishing to light any fires. I calmly invite the Minister to give us an explanation of the position and to tell us how the Government proposes to reme it. I hope that he will say that the necessary validating legislation will be introduced in this sessional period, but I do not wish to anticipate his reply. I raise this matter as dispassionately as I can.It is a matter of great import to the prestige of the Parliament. Through you, Sir,I ask the Minister to tell us what the Government proposes to do to clear the decks of this unsatisfactory matter.
.- I wish to refer to the third of my four propositions. At present, two naval courts are holding inquiries concurrently. On 14th September a shell from “ Anzac “ hit and holed “ Tobruk “ while the two shins were exercising in Jervis Bay. On 1 1th October an ammunition carrier blew up and sank, resulting in the loss of two lives. It would seem that there is a remarkable difference between this wonderful Silent Service and the Department of Civil Aviation. An air crash occurred recently south of Townsville, and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) went to the scene of the accident as soon as an aircraft could be procured to take him there. He did a job for which he deserves great credit. He instituted an open inquiry. The evidence taken at that inquiry is in the Parliamentary Library for any member of the Parliament to read.
We frequently hear jokes about the Silent Service. The Navy appears to have clothed itself with such an armour of silence that no one is able to penetrate it. If it is good enough to hold an open inquiry into the air crash south of Townsville, what is wrong with holding an open inquiry into the blowing up of the ammunition ship on 11th October, when two lives were lost? Even the Melbourne “ Herald “ - a strong supporter of the Minister - had this to say -
On September 14, a 4.7-inch practice shell from the destroyer Anzac went astray and holed the destroyer Tobruk at the waterline while the two shins were exercising off Jervis Day.
On October 11, the Navy’s old ammunition carrier Woomera caught fire, blew up, and sank off Sydney Heads with the loss of two lives in a tragedy that could easily have been on a much worse scale.
It could not have been much worse for the two men who were killed and for those closely related to them. The Melbourne “ Herald “ - I repeat that it is the Minister’s greatest supporter - went on to say -
The Navy promptly ordered courts of inquiry into both these episodes.
The newspaper did not mention that these inquiries were held in camera. This keen supporter of the Minister went on -
It is time the public heard something of their findings.
We are approaching the beginning of 1961. Is not it time we forgot all this rubbish about the Silent Service, when lives have been lost under such circumstances? What is wrong with holding an open inquiry? What is wrong with allowing the people of this country to know what has happened?
– I think they do know.
– I do not think the people know anything about it. Do not let us continue to accept this strong silent stuff Tt might have been all right in 1860, but people the world over have grown up in thought since then.
– There is surely not the same mystery about the naval accidents as there was about the air crash.
– Of course there is a mystery when a shell from a gun on one ship hits a sister ship. Is the mechanism of the gun as it ought to be? Is the person who fired it capable of performing his job? I should not like to see your son or my son involved in an incident like that. The relatives of those who lost their lives in the ammunition ship want to know the facts. All this rubbish about the strong silent Navy should have gone out many years ago. It sickens me to think we still put up with it. It is about time we got down to considering the plain facts. If it was good enough for the Minister for Civil Aviation to hold an open inquiry, what is wrong with the Minister for the Navy doing so? It is time we broke through this red tape. An open inquiry should be held into these matters that every one who so desires can attend. The press, if it wants to do so, should be able to publish the facts. I admit that we may be asking a bit too much in asking the press to publish the facts, but we might be able to glean one or two facts from the reports. It is about time that we modernized our thinking in this respect.
The fourth point that I wish to make concerns a matter on which I have been requested to ask for information. I ask the Minister whether it is true that the section of the naval victualling stores at Melbourne is to be transferred to Garden Island. I understand from information that I have received, that a depot in Western Australia is to be closed. It seems that the purpose of these proposals is to concentrate at Garden Island control over all naval functions. I am further informed that very grave consequences will follow if these rumoured moves take place. I may say that the rumour regarding the Western Australian establishment seemed to be somewhat more definite than that about the establishment near the area in which I live. I understand that in Western Australia 50 members of the staff are to be dismissed. 1 think that my colleague, Senator Tangney, asked a question on this subject recently.
Let us consider the effect of these proposals on the men concerned and on their long service leave, superannuation and other entitlements. So that 1 may speak of conditions with which I am familiar, I shall refer to the position at H.M.A.S. “ Lonsdale “. Am 1 correct in so describing the establishment, Mr. Minister?
– According to the information that I have, the transfer of the naval victualling stores to Garden Island would increase costs for the Navy in respect of materials for uniforms. I am informed that contracts for the supply of cloth for naval uniforms are let mainly in Victoria. I recognize that the Navy is not obliged to accept a particular tender. I know that a condition of most tenders is that the lowest or any tender may not necessarily be accepted, but I think that as a general rule government departments accept the lowest tender. However, the fact is that at the moment most of the contracts for the supply of cloth are let in Melbourne. 1 am aware that uniforms are made at the Commonwealth clothing factory in City Road, South Melbourne. I doubt whether there is a Commonwealth clothing factory in New South Wales. If there is not. and if the .naval victualling stores are transferred to Garden Island, the Government might have to buy the necessary cloth in New South Wales and send it to Victoria to be made up. If the victualling stores at H.M.A.S. “Lonsdale” are closed, it will be necessary to store the uniforms somewhere else before they go on the merrygoround and are sent to the various naval establishments throughout Australia. I am informed that a similar position also will arise in regard to food contracts, most of which are let in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. I do not say, of course, that it would not be possible to obtain in Sydney the supplies of food that were needed, but it seems unnecessary to transfer the victualling stores when there will still be in Victoria the Flinders Naval Depot, the dockyard, ship construction and repairs sections, oil and fuel installations at Williamstown, and a section of the naval dockyard police, as well as facilities to handle visiting naval ships.
I hope, too, that there will still be in Victoria the ordnance factory at Bendigo. In reply to a question that I asked last week about that factory, the Minister did not give a very clear indication that the factory would continue to exist, at least for as long as the people who work there would like. I certainly hope that it continues to function, because it would be a very difficult matter for the men employed there to obtain alternative employment. I accept the assurance that it will continue to operate for the time being, but I should like the assurance to be a little more definite.
– That matter has nothing to do with me. It is a Department of Supply factory.
– Then perhaps the Minister could pass on my remarks to his colleague. If the Minister has forgotten the answer that he gave to my question recently, I shall look it up in “ Hansard “ and refresh his memory.
The men employed at H.M.A.S. “ Lonsdale “ are very concerned about the rumour to which I have referred. The number of unemployed may be relatively few, but no one knows what the future holds. The men to whom I refer have served for a number of years. I do not doubt that some of them will be taken to Sydney if the transfer eventuates, but others may not wish to go because they have their homes in Melbourne. Under the policy that the Government has adopted of letting things ride, it may not be easy, even for people who are employed in the Navy, to obtain homes elsewhere. Therefore, I ask the Minister to say whether or not the rumour is true, so that the people concerned will know what is to happen. Many of them, incidentally, have seen active service with the Navy. Let us hope that their long service leave and other rights of employment will be adequately protected if the transfer takes place.
I wonder whether this centralization of naval stores at Garden Island is the wisest thing to do. In the event of war, would it be wise to have all our eggs in one basket? If anything happened to put Garden Island out of commission, where would we be, at least for some time? I have been interviewed by the secretary of the Storemen and Packers Union, which includes in its membership the people of whom I am speaking.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- 4 also wish to refer to the matter raised by Senator Kennelly’ - the proposed dismissal, from January next, of civilian employees of the Byford Naval Armament Depot. This matter is causing very grave concern in Western Australia, not only because the men who are to be dismissed are of an age which will make it difficult for them to obtain alternative employment, but also because of the common belief that ex-servicemen and married men who are receiving notices of dismissal will be dismissed before men who are not exservicemen and before men who are single. I do not know how much truth there is in this rumour which has strengthened considerably within the last few weeks. I should like the Minister to say whether or not there is any truth in it. Most of the men who are employed there are ex-servicemen from one arm of the Services or another. Many of them have made their homes in the Byford district and the closure of the depot would mean a very great loss to them in addition to the loss of their employment. As Byford is some distance from Perth, it would be difficult for them to continue to live in that district and work in another district. Transport arrangements between Byford and the city or other centres of employment are not very good.
Apart altogether from the people employed at Byford, from the overall defence point of view the people of Western Australia are very concerned about the proposal to close down the Byford Naval Armament Depot. I think it is symbolic of the lack of defence in preparedness in Western Australia. One has only to look at the map of Australia to-day to realize how important Western Australia is in the scheme of things, particularly in relation to South-East Asia. Western Australia is only a few flying hours from the trouble spots of Asia, and northwest parts of Western Australia are only a few steaming hours from places which are causing a great deal of international concern. We in Western Australia feel that not enough attention is being given by this Government to the defence needs of the State as an integral part of the Commonwealth of Australia.
From time to time in this chamber I raised the matter of the necessity for building a dock-yard in Western Australia.
The concentration of facilities in Singapore before the last war was a major disaster. We know the amount of money that has been spent on defence. We have been told by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) - and we know it from the various budget statements that have been presented over the years- that while nearly £2,000,000,000 has been spent on defence, very little of that amount has been spent in a tangible way, a way we can see, particularly in regard to the Navy.
For some years we had an excellent naval centre at Leeuwin practically lying idle. Just in the last few months it has come into use again as a training centre for Royal Australian Navy recruits. An excellent job is being done there. I commend the Minister on the progressive step that has recently been taken in making Leeuwin a training centre for young lads entering the Navy. But not enough of the vast expenditure of money on defence is being spent in Western Australia which constitutes one third of the Commonwealth. If a very small portion of that large defence vote had been spent on building a dock in Western Australia, at least it would have been a step forward in Australia’s defence programme. On the western coast we have Fremantle and on the southern coast we have Albany - sites which could well be used for dockyards. A few months ago the Minister told me that after the provision of a second dockyard on the eastern coast, if there was sufficient money a naval base might be built on the western coast. That was just one of those Kathleen Mavourneen answers, and the people of Western Australia are not very happy about it. I understand that very high ranking service chiefs have recommended that a base should be built on the western coast.
During World War I., the Henderson naval base, just south of Fremantle, was in the course of construction. Half a million pounds- which was a considerable amount of money in those days-‘-was spent on its
Construction and then the work was stopped. It was a very short-sighted decision to cease that work at that time. The choice of site for the Henderson naval base was a wise one. That has been proved by the facilities that are now being utilized by the big oil companies which have established a refinery in the vicinity. Dredging has made it possible to berth the largest tankers afloat.
At Albany there is a very fine natural harbour which could well be utilized for the purposes of a naval base.
More consideration should be given to Western Australia in our scheme of national defence. I am not just saying that because I represent Western Australia in this chamber; I am speaking as an Australian citizen. We realize that the huge coastline of Western Australia represents a potential danger, as it was during the last war. Bombs fell on parts of our northwest coast and Fremantle harbour was so crowded with ships carrying people being evacuated from the Far-East that one could almost walk across the harbour without touching land. The last ship in had to be the first ship out. A terrible holocaust would have taken place if a bomb had fallen on the mass of shipping in the harbour.
The concentration of defence expenditure away from Western Australia is causing a great deal of concern. Western Australians do not think it is fair to the Australian citizens generally who are called upon to foot this huge defence bill. The proposed closing down of the Byford Naval Armament Depot is important to Western Australia, not merely because of the tragic fate of the 50 or more men who will be dispossessed of their jobs. Of course, that is causing great concern to those men and their families; but of even greater concern is the fact that, at this time when we in Western Australia are calling for more money to be spent on naval defence in our vast State, an important project is summarily to be closed.
Therefore, if it is not too late, I ask the Minister to reconsider the decision to close the Byford depot. It is very distressing for us in Western Australia to realize that even that little bit of defence employment provided in the State is being discontinued for no good reason that we can see. The proposal merely lends weight to the belief held by many people that Western Australia does not matter in the scheme of things because it has not the huge voting population that the more densely populated States have.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I shall take this opportunity to reply to the questions that have been addressed to me. First, I shall reply to Senator Tangney’s remarks as well as I can. I do not think I have ever indicated - nor do I think that the context of the defence vote as it is made up at present indicates - that from the amount of money available to the defence services at this time it would be possible for us to construct in Western Australia a dockyard with all the industrial complexities which would be needed to conduct that dockyard. If we tried to do so, I think we would finish up with a dockyard and nothing to put in it.
In regard to the reduction in the number of employees at the Byford Naval Armament Depot, I join issue with Senator Tangney on the statement that most of the men, or many of the men concerned actually live at Byford.
– A number of them do live there.
– I would say there was a very small number. I visited the depot to have a look, and I gathered that most of the men concerned now come out from Perth. The situation at Byford is the result of an attempt by the Department of the Navy to ensure that the largest possible percentage of the money that is made available is devoted to the purchase of weapons, ships, and what I describe as defence hardware, in order that we may weather with justice accusations such as, “ You have spent so much money over so long, and what have you got to show for it? “ That is our constant endeavour, and all these institutions are being examined in order to see whether the annual expenditure incurred on them is necessary and whether they are making a contribution to our defence which is commensurate with their cost. If it is found that that is not so - as was found in the case of the Byford Naval Armament Depot - I believe that the citizens of Western Australia are more likely to be well defended by the diversion of that money to the purchase of weapons with which they can be defended than by the expenditure of the money year after year on the continuation of a task which has ended because of the disposal of the ammunition which was held in that depot.
asked me questions about courts of inquiry that were held into the two accidents with which the Royal Australian Navy was fairly recently afflicted.
Those courts of inquiry have completed their deliberations but 1 am sure that the honorable senator will realize that if there were a liklihood of a court martial following u court of inquiry, until such time as that question were resolved it would be quite wrong to release publicly the result of the court of inquiry. If, as a result of courts of inquiry, courts martial are held, they are held in public and the spotlight of public knowledge would be turned on them, which is what Senator Kennelly seeks.
With regard to the naval victualling store and the other matters raised by Senator Kennelly, excluding the factory at Bendigo, which is a matter for the Minister for Supply, I can only repeat what I have already said to Senator Tangney. All of those functions are under consideration in order to see that a greater percentage of the money available is spent on actual defence hardware - ships, weapons, ammunition and so on. I would add only that in cases in which action has already been taken affecting places such as Swan Island and Maribyrnong in Victoria, the department has adopted the policy that it adopted in relation to Byford, and which it would adopt in other circumstances, namely to give long notice to the men concerned, allow them time off with pay to seek other work, pursue the matter through the Commonwealth Employment Service and take great care to do its best to safeguard such things as long-service leave and furlough entitlements. If there are cases of what appears to honorable senators to be injustice, and they are brought to my notice, I shall be glad to investigate them and see what can be done about them. However, no such cases have been brought to my notice in the spheres in which action has already been taken. I do not think that injustice has occurred.
asked a question about providing information. I am afraid I did not understand his question. T have no recollection of the honorable senator or anybody else approaching me with a view to providing information of a particular kind. Should the honorable senator seek certain information I will do my best, as always, to provide it.
I am not in a position to announce the Government’s decision with regard to the disallowance of the defence financial regulations. An announcement on that matter would come better from the Minister for Defence, since it would be an announcement regarding all three Services and one in which the Minister would desire to see uniformity. That is a matter for which the Minister would be the responsible member of Cabinet. 1 think it would be wrong for me to deal with the report brought down by the Public Accounts Committee, to which Senator Wright referred, but I express the opinion that, reading it in toto, the report would not bear out the allegation that the Service departments were treating Parliament with contempt or had sought to do so, although there is no doubt that for one reason or another illegal payments were made. The report canvasses in its entirely the question of illegal payments made by the Services under regulations. In respect of the Navy a valid regulation authorizing the payments was made, although certainly after a number of years had elapsed. Having read the report I would not say that a charge of contempt of Parliament could properly be levelled against the Service departments in this matter.
– I desire to make a few brief remarks on a few matters. I wish to refer to Division No. 471 and Division No. 474 on page 85 of the bill and also to page 205 where details of staff are given. I note on page 205 that the total number of civil personnel employed on a permanent basis in naval offices and establishments is 3,106. The estimated cost of employing those civil personnel is £3,000,000. Referring to Division No. 474 on page 85, rt will be seen that the estimated cost of employing temporary and casual employees in naval offices and establishments is £4,240,000. If it costs £3,000,000 to employ 3,106 permanent civilian employees, one must assume that there are more than 3,000 temporary and casual employees.
– That is right.
Senator McKENNA__ So in effect the number of civilians employed by the Navy - that is, permanent and temporary employees - is equal to one half the total number of persons engaged rn the permanent naval forces. In other words, we have 6,000 civilian employees whereas we have little more than 12,000 persons engaged in the permanent naval forces.
– Where are those figures?
– The actual number of civilian employees is about 7,000.
– For Senator Wright’s information I am referring to page 205 of the bill where it is stated that 3, 1 06 civilians are employed in a permanent capacity at a cost of £3,000,000. If the honorable senator turns to page 85, under Division No. 474, he will see that the sum of £4,240,000 is sought to be appropriated in respect of temporary and casual employees.
We are given no particulars of the numbers of staff for whom the sum of £4,240,000 is sought to be appropriated. 1 hazarded the guess that the number would be more than 3,000 and the Minister has told me that the total number of permanent and temporary or casual employees is about 7,000. It seems extraordinary that a civilian staff of 7,000 individuals should be required to service an operational Navy of some 12,000 persons. There may be an explanation but on the face of it the position fs odd. It is all the more odd and demanding of explanation when one looks at the statistics that have been furnished by the Minister for Defence. Statement No. 4 issued by the Minister for Defence indicates that the wages and salaries paid to civilians employed by the Navy will run this year to £7,300,000. The figure in respect of the Army rs £6,500.000 and in respect of the Air Force it is £2,900,000 only. So that the Navy has more than twice the civilian personnel of the Air Force and considerably more than is required for the conduct of the Army. Looking at the personnel involved, as set out by the Minister for Defence in his statement No. 1, I collate the two figures by saying that it takes 7,390 civilians to run a naval force of 18,414 - that is, permanent forces and citizen forces taken together - and it requires only 6,530 civilian personnel to look after Army operational personnel of 59,714, and 1,846 to look after Air Force personnel totalling 16,597. The Minister must acknowledge that the number of civilian personnel required for the Navy is vastly disproportionate to that required for the comparatively greater personnel of the Army and the almost equivalent one of the Air Force. In my view, the mere recital of those facts calls for some statement by the Minister justifying that position. I invite him to make some comment upon that situation.
At page 205 of the Appropriation Bill 1960-61, under the heading “Permanent Naval Forces “, we find a reference to the Dockyard Police, comprising 370 persons. The relevant division is No. 471, for which the proposed vote is £13,207,000. No particular costs are given, but the number of personnel is set out as 370. It provokes from me the inquiry - the Commonwealth Police Force now being firmly established and the Commonwealth investigation service and the Peace Officer Guard having been abolished - whether the separatist functions of the dockyard police could not be performed through the Commonwealth Police Force itself. On that point, it interests me to know that, although the legislation concerning the establishment of the Commonwealth Police Force was passed in 1957, it was only in April of this year that it became operative. I would like the Minister to tell me what functions the dockyard police of the Navy perform that could not be integrated with and be performed by the Commonwealth Police Force itself.
That leads me to a further point. Early in 1958 the Morshead committee’s report was furnished. Amongst other things, it recommended the institution of common services. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not table the report, but it will be remembered that he did indicate that the committee had adverted to the matter of combined services for the three armed forces. I remember discussion at the time about whether that principle might be applied, for instance, to land transport, in Australia particularly, for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, to having one pay office, to having one office to deal with the personnel of the three arms of the Services, to having one medical service instead of three, with separate directorsgeneral and the rest, and to having one intelligence service instead of three. The Government was invited to consider the wisdom of following the advice of Lord Montgomery and President Eisenhower in the matter of combining service activities.
– Was that stated in the Morshead report?
– The Government was invited by whom?
– It was invited by Lord Montgomery and President Eisenhower, in their thoughts on the question of combining the services to consider the question of amalgamating the various staff colleagues and cadet colleges, suggesting that personnel in one of the arms had very little knowledge of the other two until they became senior. In the interests of efficient defence services it was argued - I think powerfully and convincingly - that members of the three arms should be trained together so that each would have an appreciation of the others and the part it had to play. The members would then grow up together in the tradition of defence services instead of Army tradition, Navy tradition and Air Force tradition, each quite separate and apart. In view of President Eisenhower’s opinion in this matter, supplemented by the general recommendation of the Morshead committee, I invite the Minister to say what progress the Navy has made in thi* modern age in moving towards these desirable ends. Has anything been done along these lines? I recall that the Government approved these things in principle as long ago as early in 1958. It is about time we heard whether positive steps are being taken to translate these things from the sphere of theory into the sphere of actuality.
– Were those recommendations accepted by the Government?
– Not all of the Morshead committee’s recommendations were.
– I am referring to the ones you mentioned.
– They were not accepted in detail. I remind the honorable senator that the Prime Minister, early in his speech in 1958, indicated that there were such recommendations and that he would detail them before he completed his remarks, but he concluded his speech without adverting to them in detail. But he did direct attention to the fact that there were recommendations dealing with the institution of common services. Since then he has given them his general approval and from time to time there have been indications that steps along those lines were being taken. But our difficulty rs that we have no information. After this lapse of time it surely is up to some representative of the Government to inform the Parliament whether those desirable ends are being pursued with eagerness and with the conviction that they are wise. I should like the Minister for the Navy to say what steps have been taken in that direction by his department.
I express my disappointment at the fact that the Minister, so far as I know, has not circulated a statement to the Parliament for consideration in connexion with the Estimates in the manner that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) and, I think, the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) did. I do wish that the Minister for the Navy would show the Parliament the courtesy of circulating a document along the lines of the documents that were circulated by those Ministers. The Minister for Supply dealt in detail with the activities of his department. This was a great help and a great convenience, and there can be no legitimate reason, in my view, why the Minister for the Navy has not followed that excellent example.
I was disappointed, too, that he dismissed the very excellent contribution to the Estimates debate in relation to his department in another place by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) with a mere passing reference to it. I should have thought that a responsible Minister - and I concede that the Minister is responsible - would take up that very objective, exceedingly well documented and most thoughtful speech and would be eager to answer it in detail. It was documented to the point where the endurance of ships of various nations was compared with the endurance of our own vessels under various conditions, involving distances to be travelled, climate, areas of service ar.d purposes to be achieved. Mr. Beazley made one of the best-informed speeches I have read or listened to on the subject. Notably, he pointed out that in the type of vessels that we require Canada had broken away from the British and American traditions. He made some comparison of the endurance of ships that wc have adopted and those of similar type and purpose adopted by other nations. These comparisons, if accurate, are quite disastrous from the viewpoint of the Australian Navy.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I should like to answer the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) while they are fresh in my mind. The first point he made was in relation to the apparently large number of civilian personnel employed by the Department of the Navy in comparison with those employed by the Department of the Army and the Department of Air. The short answer is that those other departments have a great number of what are, in effect, civilians in uniform, whereas nearly all the support, logistic and other outside functions of the Department of the Navy are performed not by uniformed people but by civilians. The dockyard at Garden Island employs about 2,000 of these men in the maintenance and refitting of Her Majesty’s ships. The entire support and logistic organization of the Navy, other than on ships, is manned by civilians, whereas in the other services it is largely manned by uniformed personnel. The Royal Australian Navy torpedo factory in Sydney employs civilian workmen, who are provided for in the vote for civilian personnel of the Department of the Navy. The other services have material of that kind made for them by the Department of Supply, and those employees are provided for in the vote for the Department of Supply. That is the reason for the apparently large number of civilians, in comparison with uniformed personnel, in the Department of the Navy. The male uniformed personnel are, as to 95 per cent, of them, fighting personnel with a civilian backing.
The dockyard police, to whom the honorable senator referred, are engaged for the most part in guarding naval establishments and places in which naval stores are kept. The Byford ammunition depot, to which Senator Tangney referred, has a complement of dockyard police to see that unauthorized people do not gain admittance and that fires that break out are extinguished. These policemen guard naval stores and establishments throughout Aus tralia and man the gates of dockyards. I imagine that the work they do could be done by uniformed Commonwealth Police, but I do not think there would be any resultant saving to the nation or to the taxpayer. I think it would be detrimental to the Navy if it were not able to control its own corps of, in effect, watchmen to look after and safeguard its property.
The problem of common services is one for the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). It is his responsibility to see how far common services for the three arms can be brought into operation. T should say that the remarks made by FieldMarshal Montgomery were not very conclusive in relation to this matter. It is absolutely essential to have integration of the high command, as we always have in wartime, with one central commanderinchief, but the idea that a man can move easily and effectively from one service to another - from commanding a brigade to commanding a ship, or from commanding a ship to commanding an air force squadron - is not borne out in practice. Senator McKenna referred to General Eisenhower. If I remember rightly, the only action that he took in this direction was to remove the United States Air Force from the control of the United States Army and make it a service of its own under separate control.
I regret that I did not issue a circular, as Senator McKenna would have liked me to do, explaining the departmental estimates. I shall endeavour to see that he gets such a circular next time the Estimates come up for consideration. Finally, he mentioned a speech made in another place and suggested that I might have had more to say about it. I do not share the view of the Leader of the Opposition that this speech was particularly accurate or particularly to the point. It contained a great number of inaccuracies, many of which have since been dealt with by questions and answers in this chamber. For instance, it contained the statement that our ships were not air-conditioned and that they had only a certain radius of action. The figures given were taken from “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “ and were not to be regarded as accurate. The mistaken statement about habitability having been made, the honorable member making the speech spent his entire force of criticism on the matter of range, paying no attention at all to such things as manoeuvrability, weapons, armour, electronic equipment, and the other things which go to make a warship and without which range itself is of little importance. In particular, ships joining the fleet were compared with ships of the French Sénégalais class. This class of ship has a very large range indeed, but in al! other respects it is comparable with the River class frigates which Australia has declared for disposal because of the complete lack of some of the means of fighting which go to make up a fighting s’-.ip.
– I should like to have more information about the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service. .1 note that this year there are fourteen officers and 340 ratings, making a total of 354 personnel, whereas last year there were 384. I should like to ask the Minister whether the reduced number is the reason for the lower age of entry that has recently been gazetted. Does the Minister expect that there will be greater recruitment now that the age of entry has been lowered to seventeen years? Does he consider that this reduction is wise? I know that recruits from Western Australia have to leave home and go to eastern States to a central training point. Very often they are not posted back to their own State. I understand that there are very few members of the W.R.A.N.S. in the various naval establishments throughout Australia and I am beginning to wonder what is done by members of the W.R.A.N.S. that is not done by civilian counterparts in other branches of the services. Surely there must be some female employees among the thousands of people employed by the Navy.
I should also like to know how many members of the W.R.A.N.S. there are in each State. I read in a newspaper recently that a couple of girls were to be stationed at Darwin i.i some capacity or other. I should like to know whether nursing sisters are included in the 354 personnel to whom I have referred, or whether there is a special branch of the nursing services in the Navy.
I believe that members of the Navy - that is, the men in uniform - do a terrific job. As the Minister said, they are all fighting men. T am amazed, when looking down the list, to see the emoluments that they receive. The Chief of the Naval Staff, who has been a fighting man all his life and who is in charge of naval operations, receives only a couple of hundred pounds a year more than the civilian Secretary to the Department of the Navy. Rear-admirals, all of whom have gained their rank in blood and battle, receive £1,200 or £1,300 less than civilian employees. It seems to me to be all cockeyed and I do not think it can be justified. 1 should like to have the Minister’s comments on these matters.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
.- I should like the Minister for the Navy to be a little more explicit in regard to H.M.A.S. “Lonsdale”. I think it is only fair to the people who are employed there that he should be explicit. So that the men who are there may have an opportunity to look to the future, I ask the Minister whether it is intended to close down that station. It is true, as I heard the Minister say and as I have heard from other sources, that the department is prepared to give them time off during working hours, but they still are not certain whether the establishment is to be closed down.
– The simple answer is this: It is not proposed to close down “ Lonsdale “ itself. “ Lonsdale “ is an establishment in Melbourne where the reserves are trained and where various other activities are carried on. I have no knowledge of any intention to close down “ Lonsdale “.
.- May I ask the Minister a further question, seeing that he wants to split straws? The Minister knows what was asked for when I asked him about the closing down of “ Lonsdale “. I did not expect him to say that naval training there would cease. I am concerned about the victualling section. I ask the Minister this question: Are any persons, whether they be civilians or naval personnel, who are at present working at “ Lonsdale “ to be dismissed? Is any part of that establishment to be closed down, irrespective of whether the persons concerned are naval personnel or civilians?
, - I thought the honorable senator was talking about “ Lonsdale “ itself. There used to be a victualling store at “ Lonsdale “. It was burnt down, and the victualling store is now at another location. I can give a definite answer only as regards “ Lonsdale “ itself. The naval stores in Melbourne are at the moment the subject of an inquiry to ascertain whether savings can be made and how best they can be achieved. At the moment I cannot go further than to state that that is the position.
– I have some regret about the answer that the Minister for the Navy gave me before the suspension of the sitting with regard to the matter of regulations to provide authority for pay and allowances for the Services. I had been led to expect that the Minister would be equipped with information that would enable him to give to this committee an explanation of the situation. We have passed the proposed votes for the Department for Defence, the Department of the Army and the Department of Air. The Department of the Navy is the last service department that is seeking the approval of the Parliament for the proposed appropriation. I. ask the Minister to be good enough to tell us what consideration has been given to validating these payments, when a proposal to validate them will be submitted to the Parliament, and what form it will take. The Parliament is eager to have that information, in view of the action that was taken recently by the Senate. If the Minister is not able to give this committee any definite information on those points, I should like him to indicate the stage to which consideration has been taken and whether or not we can expect to have a decision on the manner of validating these payments before the Parliament rises. I should like to see the whole question cleared up so that we may enter upon the new year having had complete regard to the lawful authority that the Parliament expects to be observed.
Having said that with regard to regulations governing pay and allowances, I should like to direct the Minister’s attention to another matter that causes me anxiety. I have in mind the regulations that have been referred to on numerous occasions by the
Auditor-General as being required to safeguard leakages from the Services by reason of losses, be they due to fraud or negligence on the part of service personnel. If the Minister looks at paragraph 121 of the Auditor-General’s report for 1959-60 he will note this passage -
Since 1942-43, Annual Reports by successive Auditors-General have referred to the need to introduce uniform conditions into the regulations of the three Services to provide, in certain circumstances, for recovery from servicemen of the value of losses of public moneys and stores. Past efforts to achieve this objective are set out at paragraph 117 of my Report for 1957-58.
During the year further discussions took place between the Treasury and the Service Departments. However, the necessary legislation had not been enacted when this Report was compiled despite Treasury representations as to the urgency of the matter.
If the Minister turns to the 1957-58 report, he will note that the Auditor-General expressed some concern about this matter and devoted considerable thought and space to it. He pointed out that discussions extending over several years took place between the service departments and the Treasury. He also pointed out that a naval regulation was promulgated in 1955 but that after objections to the arbitrariness of the regulation were stated in the tenth report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, all three departments withdrew their respective regulations; but they were not replaced. The Auditor-General further said -
Fifteen years have elapsed since the inadequacies of statutory provisions for recoveries of losses or deficiencies of public moneys or property occasioned by the neglect or misconduct of Service personnel were first reported upon by the AuditorGeneral of the day. The position has been reached that all regulations providing for recoveries by administrative processes have been repealed.
The subject-matter of those regulations is in a quite different category from that of pay and allowances. In respect of the pay regulations, it cannot be said that any money that the Parliament would disapprove has actually been paid out. However, in this case moneys have been leaking from the service departments as a result of - to use the Auditor-General’s words - neglect or misconduct. The Auditor-General has stressed the need for legislative provision to safeguard public money in that respect.
The committee is entitled to have from the Minister for the Navy an explanation of this long delay. It is entitled also to have a statement about the extent of the losses that have been incurred from year to year and also an indication from the Government that action will be taken to put the matter in order. The situation presents a sorry picture. It would afford relief to members on this side of the chamber, I am sure - although I speak only for myself expressly - if we could have an assurance from the Minister that the matter will be put in order, or that safeguards against leakage in this direction will be made secure.
– I should like to ask the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) a few questions. I know that over the months he has replied to a number of questions on the subjects I shall mention, but some of his answers may have been forgotten by honorable senators. I noticed some months ago a press report of a meeting addressed by the Minister, and the caption stated that he was pessimistic and downhearted. I cannot say very much about the meeting because I did not read the whole of the article, but I hope the Minister is in a better frame of mind now, and that he has recovered from his pessimism.
Some time ago the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Burrell, visited England and made some investigations there. I do not know whether the results of those investigations have been published. As my leader, Senator McKenna, has said, the Minister has not published any brochure giving details of the estimates for the Navy. He may be able to tell me something about the results of the investigations made by the Chief of the Naval Staff. I suppose the recommendations of that officer have been considered by the Minister and by the Cabinet.
I think I am right in saying that some time ago it was suggested that Australia should purchase four submarines. I notice that the proposed vote for naval construction is £7,481,000. I wonder whether consideration has been given to building submarines in Australia, or whether it is possible to build them here. I know that we could man them - there is no doubt about that - but I should like the Minister to tell me whether the Cabinet, or he himself, has considered the possibility of building submarines in Australia. Tn an article I read some weeks ago it was stated that the cost of constructing four submarines and training the men required to man them would be about £18,000,000.
The Minister told us some time ago that it would be beyond the resources of Australia to purchase a nuclear submarine. I should like to know whether Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Burrell is of the opinion that one nuclear submarine would be worth four ordinary submarines. If so, the £18,000,000 which it would cost to build or purchase four submarines could be put towards the £30,000,000 that a nuclear submarine could cost. The question, of course, has to be considered from a defence point of view. We must decide whether it would be better to purchase four almost obsolete submarines from Europe or to purchase a nuclear submarine. I know that the Minister has given this matter much thought, but if it is a fact that a modern nuclear submarine, which would cost £30,000,000, would be of greater use and service to Australia than four more or less obsolete submarines, I think some effort should be made to acquire the nuclear submarine.
Only a few hours ago I was reading that in England, where there are a number of wowsers and anti-gamblers, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet had decided to issue lottery bonds. Last month the British Government gave 27,229 prizes, valued at £A1,230,000. That was the amount of the interest that would accrue to investors in lottery bonds, but instead of paying the money out as interest, the Government paid it out in the form of prizes. Australians are great gamblers who invest hundreds of thousands of pounds on the Melbourne Cup and other races, and also in Tattersalls lottery. In Queensland we have the Golden Casket, and in Comrade Ormonde’s territory they have housie-housie. I should not like to see any of the money obtained from the Golden Casket in Queensland taken away from that State because the money is used to help finance the hospitals. If the Government is finding difficulty in obtaining money for naval construction, it could consider the suggestion I have made. As I will not be a candidate for the Senate at the next election, I am not afraid of losing the wowser vote. It may be that by advocating lottery bonds I am suggesting something contrary to the doctrine of that section of the community which does not believe in gambling. However, money obtained in this way could be used for a good purpose. I should like to know the opinion of the Minister and the opinions of men such as the Chief of the Naval Staff on the advisability of purchasing a nuclear submarine. I should also like to know whether they consider a nuclear submarine is worth four conventional submarines. If it is not, then what I am saying can be put on one side. 1 should also like to ask the Minister about helicopters. Questions have been asked about them on several occasions. I should like to know whether any of this £7,481,000 is to be used to purchase helicopters, which, according to our modern intelligentsia and cognoscenti, are wonderful machines for spotting submarines. We have about 12,000 miles of coastline and to the north of us are many prospective enemies, so I should like to know whether it is believed that we should have helicopters to help us spot submarines.
Referring again to the desirability of purchasing a nuclear submarine and to the possibility of using lottery bonds to finance the purchase, we have a number of American companies, such as General Motors-Holden’s Limited, which are making millions of pounds of profit in Australia. These companies might be prepared to invest in lottery bonds for the purpose of purchasing a nuclear submarine. That suggestion, of course, is based on the assumption that possession of a nuclear submarine is of vital importance to Australia and that such a submarine would be of greater value from a defence point of view than the four conventional submarines that the Government intends purchasing.
The Minister is a man who has taken a very keen interest in his department, as is shown by the answers he gives. I should like to ask him a question about aircraft carriers. We have an aircraft carrier which, according to an answer given by the Minister, came from England. There is also the carrier “ Melbourne “.
– Yes, “ Melbourne “ and “ Sydney “, both from England.
– Is “ Melbourne “ being used’ as an aircraft carrier or for training purposes?
– It is being used as a fleet carrier.
– I wish to ask the Minister, with his modern knowledge - and I do not want him to think I am being in any way sarcastic when I say that; I know he is a student of these subjects - what chance an aircraft carrier would have in a fight with a nuclear submarine carrying a weapon such as the Polaris missile. We know how Russia has forged ahead in the production of atomic armaments of every description. So far as we can judge, Russia’s submarines are on a par with the American submarines that carry missiles such as the Polaris, submarines which, I understand, can fire a missile from 1,200 or 1,500 miles from the target.
From our knowledge of what Russia has done in the production of nuclear weapons, it is reasonable to assume that she has a missile similar to the Polaris. What chance would a modern aircraft carrier have against a submarine of that kind which could fire, undetected, below the surface of the sea?
– As much chance as a pat of butter in the oven.
– This is not a laughing matter. I have a great respect for Senator Kendall, who was a seaman. Did I understand him to say that the carrier would have the chance of a cat in hell?
– More or less.
– This is not a joking matter for the Australian people. If a carrier, in the circumstances I have described, would have only a cat in hell’s chance against the Polaris - and of course Russia must have similar weapons - why spend money foolishly when it would be better spent in advancing and developing the real defence of this country? I know that one submarine is not much of a defence force, but if it were a submarine as powerful as nuclear submarines are said to ‘< surely it would be worth while for Australia either to purchase or to build a submarine of that kind.
I should like to know how many helicopters the Navy has and whether they are in good working order. I also want to know the present position regarding the development of new naval guided missiles. Are our ships being fitted with modern weapons of that nature? How far has work proceeded on strengthening with guided missile equipment the surface ships of the Royal Australian Navy? This is ? modern age and those are things we want to know.
.- Before the list of questions which I have to answer grows too long I shall endeavour to answer those that have been asked so far. Senator Brown asked about new naval guided missiles. The position is that guided missiles are being developed and have reached a certain stage of development in the Royal Navy and the Uni’ted States Navy - I assume that the honorable senator has in mind a missile of sufficient ability to cope with an aeroplane at a considerable distance - but none of those missiles is suitable for installation in a destroyer-type vessel, nor are any such missiles installed in vessels of that kind, in the Royal Navy, the United States Navy and, as far as 1 know, the Soviet Navy.
The question posed by the honorable senator regarding the chance that an aircraft would have in a fight with a nuclear submarine is a hypothetical one and very difficult to answer. At one stage, I thought that the honorable senator was inquiring about the chance that a carrier would have against a nuclear submarine equipped with the Polaris missile, but that of course is not a question which arises. As the honorable senator indicated he knew the Polaris is a missile, which, equipped with an atomic warhead, is fired 1,000 or 1,500 miles against a target the co-ordinates of which are well known and can be plotted from the position in which the submerged submarine - and a submerged submarine fires this missile - knows itself to be. A missile of that kind clearly is not fired against a ship. Consequently, there is no question of a contest between a Polaris missile submarine and a carrier.
If the honorable senator’s question relates to the position when an atomic-powered submarine, which has endurance and speed under water greater than those of the conventional submarine, carries out a torpedo attack on a helicopter carrier, there again the question is difficult and, to a great degree, hypothetical. A helicopter carrier would be, or should be, protected for a great distance out by the helicopters which it carried and which would use dunking sonar to detect the approach of an enemy submarine. On the other hand, a submarine with the speed of an atomic submarine, with the ability to manoeuvre and to fire without surfacing, would also have great advantages; but, as I say, the question is hypothetical because, except in most unusual and peculiar circumstances, there would be no chance of a combat or a duel between a carrier and a submarine. A carrier would always have with it a screen of antisubmarine vessels to help protect it against such attacks. The only answer I can give to the honorable senator is that if an atomic submarine made a torpedo attack on a carrier screened by escorts the outcome would depend on the fortunes of war. I do not think there would be any great balance on either side.
No portion of the approximate amount of £7,500,000 which is to be set aside for new construction this year is to go to the purchase of helicopters. I agree entirely with the honorable senator that helicopters are an excellent submarine weapon and are in use in the Royal Navy and the United States Navy. Yet I remind him that our carrier will be carrying fixed wing aircraft and Gannet anti-submarine aircraft until 1963. Therefore, there is no provision in this year’s Estimates for the purchase of helicopters.
The honorable senator asked whether a nuclear submarine is worth four ordinary submarines. Again, I say that if we are envisaging a nuclear war and our capacity to reply to a nuclear attack - an atomic submarine with an atomic weapon - I should say that the Polaris is the most effective modern weapon of all. It is more effective than anything that can be fired by the Air Force, or from a surface ship, or in any other way. But if we are not thinking of launching our own atomic missiles and are thinking of a submarine as a vessel which is designed te sink enemy ships by torpedo attacks. I believe the consensus of naval opinion - which I believe is true, having studied it - is that a nuclear submarine would not be worth four ordinary submarines. A nuclear submarine has its problems. It has its economical cruising speeds, just as does a conventional submarine. It uses its power just as does a conventional submarine. Having used its power, it has to be taken somewhere and the most extraordinary precautions have to be taken before the rods are renewed and put back into the reactor so that the submarine can take to the sea again.
Its advantages are that it has greater speed, greater manoeuvrability and greater endurance; but those advantages are not sufficient - I state what I understand to be the naval view, and it seems to me to be common sense - to overcome the fact that it is in one place instead of in four places, as four submarines would be, and that the modern conventional submarine, being very much faster than the conventional submarines of the last war, is very manoeuvrable and is able to carry out significant attacks on enemy shipping.
We could, as the honorable senator suggested, build submarines in Australia, but if wc did materials would have to be imported. Some special steels and a number of other special things would have to be imported. We could not man the submarines at the moment - not because we have not men who arc capable of manning them, but because at the moment in the Australian Navy we have not men who are sufficiently trained to man a number of submarines for ourselves. If we did build them by starting from scratch and importing the materials that would be required, there jj little doubt that the cost that would be incurred and the time consumed in building them would be at least two or two and a half times as great as the cost that would be incurred and the time that would be consumed if we bought them abroad.
Senator Wright raised two questions. One concerned the disallowance by the Senate of the retrospective regulations designed to validate payments which have been made in the three Services over a period of time. He asked what the position is and what the attitude of the Government is to that disallowance. I have spoken to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) about the matter. Although T said previously that this was a matter for the Minister for Defence, T believe it is more a matter for the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). Nevertheless, the answer I can give to Senator Wright is that the Government’s intention is to validate by legislation the payments which have been made, lt sought to validate them by regulations. Since those regulations have been disallowed, the Government intends to validate the payments by legislation. The legislation is being prepared at present. The best efforts will be made to bring forward the legislation, but I cannot give a guarantee as to when it will be brought forward.
Another matter raised by Senator Wright was the question of the ability to recover from members of the various Services the value or part of the value of goods which were lost or destroyed by negligence or fraud. In my opinion, fraud does not come into this particular question because that is covered by court martial procedures, lt is a little ironical that the estimates for the Department of the Navy in particular should be the subject of a discussion of this kind, since it has been mentioned quite correctly that the Auditor-General has said, “ For fifteen years I have been saying that the regulations should be made uniform throughout the three Services “. I say it is a little ironical because since 1928 the Naval Board has had power under regulations to make by administrative process deductions without limit from members of the Service for any goods lost or destroyed through negligence or carelessness. Commanding officers of naval establishments can make deductions, up to a limit of £10. for any goods lost or destroyed through carelessness or negligence. Indeed, as is fairly clear if we go through the remarks of the Auditor-General from 1942 onwards, they were designed to ensure that the Army and the Air Force would bring in the same regulations as were in force in the Navy in order that the Military Board - which the Auditor-General said did not impose severe enough penalties - and th? Air Board - the power of which was limited to a deduction of a fortnight’s pay - would be able to impose the same penalties as the Naval Board was able to impose.
It was sought to comply with the Auditor-General’s requests departmentally and the Air Board brought in regulations giving the Air Force the same powers as the Navy had. The Senate disallowed the regulations on various grounds which we all know, and consequently the Navy later withdrew its regulations. I think that was in 1956. Of course, this question refers only to the ability to recover from a member of the services by administrative process - that is to say, in effect, by arbitrary process - the value of goods which he has lost or damaged negligently. It does not mean that in the case of fraud nothing can be recovered from a member. In the case of fraud, stealing, or anything of that kind, court martial procedures are resorted to. Under court martial procedures a fine can be imposed. If a member is dismissed from the Service after being found guilty by a court martial of stealing or anything of that nature, the monetary penalties on him are very heavy indeed, particularly if, as usually happens, he is derated before he is dismissed and consequently receives, by way of furlough and so on, less than he would have received had he retained his former rank.
In addition to the court martial procedure, in all cases of fraud and stealing, or matters of that kind, the AuditorGeneral himself has the power, which he does use, to surcharge members in such cases as the embezzlement of money or the illegal use of a service vehicle which results in an accident, or cases of that kind. However, it is still true, as Senator Wright suggested, that the commanding officers of various establishments do not now have the right administratively, without court martial and without writing something on the record of a man, to say, “ You have been negligent and I fine you £2 “. That position, which I believe should be remedied as soon as possible and in a uniform way for the three services, is also the subject of legislation which is being prepared. The new Defence Act will apply uniformly in the three services. It is impossible to say what has been lost, in the sense that it is impossible to say what commanding officers would have arbitrarily charged men under their control for negligence, had they had the power to charge them.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I seek enlightenment in respect of a few items under Division No. 475 - General Services. In respect of special training fees for naval aviation and other personnel last year the sum of £350,000 was appropriated, of which £244,318 was spent. But this year the Government is seeking to appropriate only £90,000 for this purpose. Does that mean that most of the officers in the naval aviation branch have already been trained?
– Fixed wing flying is to cease in 1963 and a sufficient number of pilots has been trained.
– Under Division No. 475 the sum of £259,700 is sought to be appropriated for postage, telegrams and telephone services. That is a large sum of money, particularly having regard to Division No. 484 - Defence Research and Development - in which the Government is seeking to appropriate £164,000 for what I should say would be a very important aspect of naval defence. If we look at items 09 and 10 under Division No. 475 we find a contrast in budgeting. For minor building maintenance and works last year the sum of £21,000 was appropriated, of which only £2,966 was spent. This year for this purpose the Government is seeking £7,000. In respect of concessional postage for servicemen it is rather strange that last year the Government appropriated £65,230 and spent exactly £65,230 - down to the last stamp. This year the Government is seeking to appropriate £65,300.
If we turn to page 205 of the bill, where reference is made to the Permanent Naval Forces, we find that an amount of almost £2,000,000 is estimated to remain unexpended. Last year more than £2,000,000 remained unexpended. If an amount of about £2,000,000 is to remain unexpended each year, why appropriate that money?
– The amount of £259,700 for postage, telegrams and telephone services, referred to by Senator Tangney, relates, as I am sure the honorable senator will realize, to the quite considerable amount of correspondence that must be entered into in a service employing, apart from reserves, 15,000 or 16,000 men. Those men must be paid and all sorts of problems arise concerning them, including problems relating to leave, postings, disciplinary offences and other matters. Also a large amount of postage is involved because there are in all the States naval head-quarters dealing with matters that necessitate correspondence with head office A proportion of the amount to which the honorable senator referred would be spent by the research and development division to which the honorable senator also referred.
With regard to the sums estimated to remain unexpended, as with the case of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service, to which Senator Tangney referred earlier in the debate, the Navy has an establishment figure which it hopes to attain. Since we have set an establishment figure of a certain number of ratings and a certain number of Wrans, which we feel is the proper number with which to operate the Service, it is necessary at the beginning of the year to ask the Parliament to appropriate sufficient money to be able to pay all the people whom we hope to get into our establishments, even though we may fear that we cannot attain our goal. We must express that fear to the Parliament. If we cannot attain our goal we can come before the Parliament when the additional Estimates are being dealt with and ask to be allowed to spend that money on something else. I think those were the principal matters raised by Senator Tangney.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £2,346,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Attorney-General’s Department.
Proposed Vote, £93,500.
Ordered to be considered together.
– I should like the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to tell me the name of counsel and his junior who appeared for the Commonwealth in the recent basic wage case. I also would like to know how much each of those gentlemen received by way of fee. Were they instructed by the Attorney-General’s Department or by an independent solicitor? If they were instructed by an independent solicitor, what was the name of that solicitor, and what was his fee? I think this information should be placed on record for ali to see because it is remarkable that a government that claims to believe in arbitration and the fixing of wages by impartial tribunals should make history in this country by going into court and opposing a union application for increased wages. No one would object if the Commonwealth, through coun- sei, placed information before the court as to the state of this nation’s economy. Let us know who appeared for the Commonwealth and what they were paid.
Is the Minister in a position to state whether the Government will support the application of the Metal Trades Employers Association for a 42-hour week? Does the Government intend to pay counsel to appear on behalf of the employers seeking an increase in the number of working hours just as it paid counsel to fight the workers in their application for an increase in the basic wage? Has the Government considered amending the Constitution to fix the retiring age of High Court judges? Or do we intend to continue as at present? Some years ago, it will be recalled, some of these gentlemen attained a ripe old age, and upon a change of government one decided that he did not want to continue in his position. 1 should like the Minister to inform me whether the Government intends to honour the undertaking that was contained in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the present session of Parliament early this year that legislation to deal with monopolies and restrictive trade practices would be introduced. Of course, nobody expected the legislation would be introduced until’ towards the end of this session, but as it is quite possible there will be another formal opening of Parliament before December, 1961, I would appreciate the Minister’s comment in this connexion.
I should also like the Minister to inform me whether the Attorney-General has yet considered the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee. I said some weeks ago that although I would like to see the Government deal with all of the committee’s recommendations, I thought it should proceed with those on which there was unanimity. Let us proceed step by step. I think that Parliament is brought into contempt when the report and recommendations of an all-party committee are not acted upon by the Government. I believe that the committee’s report will be in years to come a historical document.
– It is historical already.
– It is now 60 years since our Constitution was granted, and I think it is futile in this atomic age for a government to attempt to administer this country successfully with a Constitution that was framed in the horse and buggy days. I hope that the Minister who represents the Attorney-General in this chamber will supply me with answers to the specific matters I have raised.
– 1 wish to direct my attention to the subject of rules under the Matrimonial Causes Act which was passed last year. First, I want to make it clear that I supported the passage of the Matrimonial Causes Bill, and I still support this very important legislation. However, in common with many other honorable senators, I am still anxiously awaiting the promulgation of rules made pursuant to section 127 of that act. It was reported to me in Adelaide during last week that rules marked “ Not finally settled “ have been circulated fairly widely in legal and other circles in South Australia, and various suggestions concerning those rules have been made to me. I should like to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General to some fairly important points that were made to me and which I think should be considered by the Government. Generally there is objection to these rules in that they seek to impose a new and complicated system of practice and procedure in matrimonial causes in State courts which already have well-tried procedures of their own; matrimonial causes rules are incorporated with their rules of procedure generally.
I point out that at the present time a number of federal acts are administered by the State courts. Section 68 of the Judiciary Act, for instance, invests State courts with jurisdiction to try persons charged with offences against the laws of the Commonwealth and provides that State laws as to arrest and custody, committal for trial, trial and conviction of offenders and appeals generally shall apply. The point I make is that for nearly 60 years we have entrusted the State courts with this important criminal jurisdiction and they have used their own procedures.
Reverting to the matrimonial causes legislation, 1 think honorable senators will remember that in 1 945 very important legislation regarding matrimonial causes was promulgated by the then Attorney-General,
Dr. Evatt. It is clearly laid down in section 15 (1.) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1945-
The Judges of the Supreme Court of any State or Territory, or such of them as may make Rules of Court in other cases, or, if there is only one Judge, that Judge, may make Rules (not inconsistent with this Act or the regulations) for prescribing the practice and procedure in connexion with proceedings under this Act in that court.
Sub-section (2.) provides -
Until Rules have been so made, and so far as Rules so made do not provide for the circumstances of any particular case, the practice and procedure of the Supreme Court of the State or Territory shall apply as far as practicable.
So, Sir, it was laid down in legislation relating both to offences against Commonwealth law and to divorce jurisdiction, that the procedures of the State courts were to apply.
I come now to the actual wording of section 127 (1.) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959, which reads -
The Governor-General may make rules, noi inconsistent with this Act, for or in relation to the practice and procedure of the courts having jurisdiction under this Act, or any of them, including rules-
And there are then set out the types of rules that are envisaged. Sub-section (6.) of section 127 reads -
Until rules or other provisions have been made in accordance with this section, and so far as rules or other provisions so made do not provide for the circumstances of any particular case, the practice and procedure, immediately prior to the commencement of this Act, of the Supreme Court of a State or of a Territory to which this Act applies (including powers of the Court as regards costs) shall, subject to this Act and the Constitution, apply, as far as practicable, to and in relation to matters arising in that Court under this Act.
My point is simply this: There has been envisaged a most comprehensive body of rules, which it has taken ten or eleven months of most diligent work by the Attorney-General’s Department to frame, and they have not yet been promulgated and laid on the table in this chamber.
It does appear that if this act is to be proclaimed soon these rules will not be available for consideration by the Parliament before they become the procedure for the working of the act. I believe that there is sufficient power, sufficient usage and sufficient skill at the present time to let this act be carried into effect under existing rules and procedures of the supreme courts of the various
States. In most other branches of Commonwealth legislation, one of the exceptions being bankruptcy, we accept the procedures and rules of the supreme court, local court or police court, as the case may be, of the State. For instance, if there is to be a prosecution in Victoria under the Commonwealth taxation laws, the lower court - it may be called the court of petty sessions - deals with it according to the procedures of that court. If the prosecution is in South Australia, it is in what we know as the police court, which is constituted under the Justices Act. The uniform federal act is the act which prescribes the penalties, but the procedure for carrying the federal legislation into effect is according to State law, which is well known to the practitioners of State courts and to the people who come before State courts.
Reports that I have show that people who have been sent these draft rules for study are rather appalled at their complexity. For instance, 1 understand that in England there are 84 matrimonial causes rules. In South Australia there are 100, occupying sixteen pages in a schedule to the act, with five prescribed forms. I understand that 329 rules are envisaged under the Commonwealth Matrimonial Causes Act, with 54 forms, occupying in all between 200 and 300 pages of print. It is felt in South Australia that these will add enormous complications to the task of obtaining matrimonial relief and I put it to the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), for consideration by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), that the power under section 127(6.), of allowing existing procedures of the State to apply, be exercised for the workout of this important act. It is felt in South Australia, for which I speak - there are practitioners from other States in the Senate - that the use of these projected rules will add considerably to the costs of litigation. There is a fear in South Australia that the practitioners who afford relief to needy persons under the legal assistance scheme of that State - possibly one-third of the assistance is afforded in matrimonial cases - will not be able in future to accept assignments in matrimonial cases, because of the vastly increased amount of work involved in complying with the rules which are being circulated. I am very sorry that the rules are not officially on the table of the Senate.
I appreciate fully the great work that has been going on in order to get the rules in some sort of form and agreement, but 1 put it to the Government that it might allow existing procedures of supreme courts, of which the courts are well aware and with which practitioners are au fait, to be used to service this new and important legislation. Consequently, I ask the Minister for the Navy, who represents the AttorneyGeneral in this chamber, whether he would, after some consideration of the matter, give his views or the views of the AttorneyGeneral on that question.
– I wish to make a few brief comments on sundry matters. I refer to Division No. 222 - Commonwealth Police Force. One notes that under Division No. 220 and Division No. 221, for the first time nothing is to be provided for the Commonwealth Investigation Service or the Peace Officer Guard, respectively. These organizations have been supplanted by the Commonwealth Police Force, which was established by legislation towards the end of 1957. One section of the act required that there should be an annual report by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) upon the working of the force. I understand that the change-over was not effected until April, 1960, and that, accordingly, no report in respect of the working of the force, is available to the Parliament. I should like the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) who represents the Attorney-General in the Senate, to indicate what, apart from general inertia, has prevented the Government from instituting the Commonwealth Police Force earlier than this. It has taken from 1957 until April of this year. This seems to be an inordinate length of time for a simple amalgamation of two forces such as the Commonwealth Investigation Service and the Peace Officer Guard, not involving a matter of very high complexity. It seems to savour of the delay we have had in even formulating a policy for the Navy. I think the Senate is entitled to know the reason for the delay.
I refer also to Division No. 215 - Bankruptcy Administration. We have before us the report of the Attorney-General on bankruptcy activities in 1959-60. It is significant that in a period to which the Government keeps on referring as one of unparalleled prosperity, sequestration orders made last financial year ran to 1,949, which is higher than in any year since 1927, when the. Federal Bankruptcy Act was passed. It is higher even than in the dark days of the depression. The previous record was 1,846 in 1930-31. We have at last exceeded that number. I point out that there, has been a rising tide of bankruptcies in recent years. In the last four years the number rose from 1,200 to 1,357, then to 1,603 and now to 1,949. I invite the Minister to say whether the Attorney-General’s Department appreciates the significance of that increase and what is its viewpoint on the matter, even allowing for the increase in population and industrial activity.
If the Minister refers to the eighth schedule to the report he will notice that particularly in New South Wales the great bulk of the bankruptcies occur in the home building industry and industries connected therewith. For example, the list includes 60 builders and 40 decorators and painters. lt includes plumbers, glaziers, bricklayers, plasterers, carriers and the like. One would have thought that in what we have been told is a period of high prosperity a basic industry like the home-building industry would be in a thriving condition.
– A lot of them are good tradesmen but not good businessmen.
– That may be so. There may be many factors that are responsible for the present situation. But when one sees that pattern throughout the Stats, there must be something substantially wrong with the economy. I invite the Minister to say whether the Government has formulated any thoughts on the subject and Whether it will take any steps to get a better grip on the economy.
The only other two matters to which I wish to refer have already been dealt with adequately by Senator Kennelly. The first has to do with the need for the Government to come out of its inertia in relation to the promise it made earlier in the year to consider legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices. We have heard nothing about that legislation, and it seems that this session will conclude without any legislation having been introduced. The Opposition is shocked by the lack of sense of urgency on the part of the Government in- a matter which grieviously affects the economy and which has a very direct impact upon the standard of living of all our people. I join with Senator Kennelly in pressing the Minister to urge the Government to do something about its promise. I concede that it was only a tentative promise; the Government promised merely to consider legislation. It has had time both to consider and to produce that legislation. I repeat that I join with Senator Kennelly in urging the Minister to convey to the Government the request that it become active in this field.
The report of the Constitutional Review Committee, to which Senator Kennelly referred also, surely is a matter of great national importance. In 1956 the Government appointed a select committee consisting of Government and Opposition members of both Houses of the Parliament. As a member of that committee, I can say that it laboured hard over a period of nearly three years. Its findings were in the hands of the Government in October, 1959, and the complete and ample reasons for those findings were in the hands of the Government in November of last year. So for at least two years the Government has had knowledge of the work that the committee embarked upon at its request. The committee showed very good sense in not making recommendations upon matters unless there was a high degree of unanimity. Members of all parties were unanimous in regard to thirteen of the twenty-odd recommendations that were submitted. Where there was dissent, it was never worse than the dissent of one member out of twelve.
– I do not like the word “ worse “.
– I assure the honorable senator that I used it in no sinister sense. Perhaps I should say that the majority was the excellent one of eleven to one at the worst.
– That is much better.
– It must be conceded . that this committee addressed itself very thoroughly to research into the law, that it had regard to all the political and economic considerations in Australia in this day and age, and that it made recommendations which were almost unanimous. The Government has done positively nothing about those recommendations for two years.
The committee indicated that time had not permitted it to look at quite a number of aspects of the Constitution such as provisions relating to the judiciary. It recommended that the Government consider reappointing the committee, perhaps differently constituted, to comb over thoroughly every aspect of the Constitution. Nothing has been done about that recommendation. We again have the unfortunate condition of inertia. When honorable senators press the Government to say what it is doing about these reports, the only answer they get is that the matter is under consideration, lt is about time that the Government arrived at a decision on this matter. It comes primarily under the care of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick). He would be the initiator of any recommendation that would be submitted to the Cabinet, both by reason of his office and his knowledge and quality. I express the strong belief that he would have been better engaged in addressing his mind to this matter and to the subject of restrictive trade practices than in overhauling an act like the Crimes Act, which saw us through two world wars. It needed overhauling, but there was no particular urgency about the matter.
I hope the Minister for the Navy will convey to the Government the thought that we on this side of the chamber express - that it is about time it made its mind up about the control of restrictive trade practices, in relation to which the Opposition would promise full support, just as it would support any referendum that was initiated to implement the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee.
– There are two matters to which I wish to make special reference. I refer first to Division No. 219 - Legal Service Bureau, for which we are asked to appropriate a sum of £69,200. I infer from the use of the singular term that there is now only one such office. If more than one exist, I should like to be so informed. The Legal Service Bureau is a relic of the war days, when offices were constituted to give legal aid to ex-servicemen in regard to repatriation and other problems. I have repeatedly expressed the belief that they have constituted an inefficient method of rendering such service and that the time has long since passed when the legal service bureaux should be eliminated.
In my experience, I have found that they deal only with elementary matters in relation to which ex-servicemen require assistance and that when a substantial matter arises the ex-serviceman who is in trouble is passed over to the ordinary professional advisers. I suggest that ex-servicemen would be much better served under an arrangement made by the Attorney-General with members of the profession generally, who I am sure would be quite willing to give to persons who were not in a position to pay for professional advice all the assistance they possibly could. That arrangement should not be confined to one or two of the big cities but should cover every place where solicitors or barristers are to be found. To my way of thinking, such an arrangement would be very much more effective; members of the profession would be capable of giving much more efficient service. The Commonwealth would not be involved in any expense. .1 believe such an arrangement would be much more in keeping with the outlook of the profession and its traditions. 1 cannot find the slightest justification for the continuance of this vote. I ask the Minister, when he replies, to give me an assurance that the re-organization of these bureaux, with a view to their elimination, has been under active consideration. I should like the committee to be informed of the positive grounds on which this vote is requested.
Another matter to which I wish to refer is one on which I can speak with confidence, because it concerns the city of Hobart and comes within the field of my own experience. I am able to use it to test the Government’s attitude to public expenditure. I refer to the establishment of a branch of the federal Crown Solicitor’s office in Hobart in 1956. Until that time professional legal services on behalf of the Commonwealth were carried out by a legal firm of real repute in that city. According to what inevitably becomes well known within a profession, those services were carried out with great efficiency.
Information supplied to me to-day discloses that the average annual cost of that firm’s services to the Commonwealth during the four years before the establishment of the branch of the Crown Solicitor’s office was £5,840. Taking the three complete years since the branch office was established - I am disregarding 1956-57, which was only a part year - the average annual cost of that office has been £13,705. These figures may seem insignificant, but they are matters of detail by which a trend can be detected. The figures justify the inference that one makes from observation - namely, that the additional expenditure is indulged in simply for the purpose of the luxury of maintaining on an official basis a branch office of the Crown Solicitor’s office in Hobart.
– I take it that the volume of the work in the two periods you have compared would be about the same?
– I do not expect that the volume of the work done by the branch office would be different from that carried out by the agents in the previous period. I know it will be contended that the work that was channelled through the agents was not all the work, but although that statement may be made in a general way, it will have to be supported. I feel that the proposition is irrefutable that a valid comparison of costs can be made. Before the change-over the annual cost was £5,840 and the annual cost after the change-over was £13,705.
Anybody who thinks about the idea of maintaining a Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s branch office in Hobart for rendering legal services will be convinced that those who established this branch office travelled into the realm of extravagance, into which it is all too easy for government departments to drift. My reference to the matter to-night is simply for the purpose of inviting consideration to the growth of a branch office which I think has on its staff now four fully trained solicitors to deal exclusively with Commonwealth work. I do not know how many fully trained solicitors there are in the State Crown Solicitor’s office, but I would think that that office, which has the whole responsibility for the administration of the criminal law in Tasmania, would not employ more than double the number employed in the Commonwealth branch office. I suggest there is need for real consideration of this item, not in isolation, but as an indication of the drift that can go on in government expenditure.
Having mentioned these two matters, 1 now advert to a matter that has been referred to by Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly, namely the reference to restrictive trade practices legislation in the GovernorGeneral’s speech. I do not wish to usurp the function of the Minister in this respect, but it ought to be known that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has constituted a committee of Government parties which has been actively engaged in the consideration of this legislation. Anybody who has given even the most superficial thought to legislation of this character will know that the problems involved are imponderable and novel, and that those who invite hasty legislation on a matter of this sort invite legislation that would be inefficient and inappropriate. I wish to say only that I am fully aware that concentrated consideration has been given, not only by the AttorneyGeneral, but by members of the Government parties - one member representing each State - to the very serious problems that the proposed legislation involves. I am not suggesting that those problems will be insoluble, but I am expressing the thought that they deserve most careful consideration before any legislation is formulated. Let us not be in any way intemperate in our impatience, if only for the reason that there is on the statute-book at the present time, if anybody is disposed to invoke it, very stringent legislation, which could curb any monopoly that exists in interstate trade with an intent to restrain trade against the public interest. The penalties available for contravention of that legislation are very severe. Let us not complain that the statute-book is wholly devoid of law to curb the present tendencies.
– T should like to answer some of the points that have been raised so far in this debate. I shall commence with those raised by Senator Wright and work backwards. I agree entirely with the honorable senator as to the unwisdom of taking any precipitate action to amend the Constitution, which, although in some respects it may have presented difficulties nevertheless has for many years worked reasonably well. If the Constitution is to be improved, that should be done only after most careful and painstaking consideration. I would add only that no obligation exists for any action on the part of the Government following the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. I am not saying that no action will be taken; I am merely saying that there is no obligation on the Government to take any action.
Senator Wright mentioned the amount expended in the Crown Solicitor’s office in Hobart, using figures which had been supplied to him by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), through me, earlier to-day. The honorable senator pointed out that there was an average expenditure of ?5,840 a year in that city for this sort of legal work before the Crown Solicitor’s office was established and that the average expenditure had been ?13,705 since then. I think 1 should point out that the AttorneyGeneral, in the answer supplied by him, stated that in addition to the amounts expended each year and which, in the aggregate and divided by the number of years, gave the average expenditure, other payments were made by the Commonwealth for this kind of service which could not, for reasons that I do not understand, be properly accounted for and supplied. This was stated in the context of the answer provided to Senator Wright by the AttorneyGeneral to-day. What difference that would make to the position I am not able to say.
I regret to have to inform Senator Wright that, on the information supplied to me, the amount of money to be expended by the legal service bureaux throughout Australia, namely, ?69,200, is to be expended so that people requiring preliminary legal advice, if I may put it that way, may go to the bureaux and from them to solicitors if the advice is to the effect that they should take legal action.
– A wonderful idea.
– That is the purpose of the bureaux. According to the information that has been provided to me, the Attorney-General and the Government do not propose to change the existing situation.
Senator McKenna raised the matter of antimonopoly legislation, reference to which was made in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the second session of this Parliament. While I endorse what Senator Wright has said on this matter, I :an only add that the Attorney-General has, to my knowledge, studied this type of legislation in Canada and the United States of America, though not, so far as I know, on the spot in the United Kingdom. It is a most difficult field in which to legislate if we are to attain the ends which we on this side of the chamber want to attain and which, I think, would be supported by honorable senators opposite. This matter involves very careful consideration of the various legislative endeavours that have been made by other countries. Such an examination has been progressing, and it is the intention of the Government to bring down anti-monopoly legislation as soon as it is convinced that the legislation will be effective and not oppressive. There is no great merit in rushing into legislation in this most highly complicated matter if the legislation is not going to be effective and is not going to attain the end which is desired.
Senator McKenna also referred to the number of bankruptcies. I think it is reasonably clear that the number of bankruptcies has risen for two overriding reasons, the first, of course, being that the population has been rising, and the second, that the prosperity of the population also has been rising. Many people, particularly in the building industry, have been able to save sufficient capital to go into business for themselves as employers or as contractors. Some of them, for one reason or another, have not been able to make as good a fist of being a contractor, or a selfemployed person or employer of others, as they were able to make of being a plumber, a glazier, a bricklayer or a tradesman of some other kind. If that indication is a true one - and the building industry was the industry particularly mentioned by Senator McKenna - it is also an indication of the greater opportunities that are now presented for people to work for themselves rather than for others.
asked why there had been a delay, from the end of 1957 to April, 1960, between the passage of an act providing for the establishment of a Commonwealth police force and the actual establishment of such a force. The answer is that in the interval, because of various legislative enactments, it was necessary for the Public Service Board to make an investigation of the establishment and other aspects of the proposed police force to be created from two separate forces, and for the result of the investigation to come back to Cabinet and to be considered before the force could be brought into being.
To Senator Laught, who asked about the rules that should or should not come into effect as a result of the enactment of the Matrimonial Causes Act, I can only say that I shall bring his comments to the attention of the Attorney-General. The honorable senator will, of course, know that under the Rules Publication Act, just as regulations have to be laid before the Senate to be allowed or disallowed, so rules made under the Matrimonial Causes Act will have to be laid before the Senate. I urge the honorable senator to put his views, in chambers, as it were, before the Attorney-General. If his views are not accepted by the Attorney-General by the time the rules are promulgated, the remedy that he may take will be found in the Senate.
Senator Kennelly wished to know who represented the Government in the intervention in the recent basic wage case. The answer is that it was Mr. Eggleston, assisted by Mr. Frost. It is not customary to make public in the Parliament the amount of the fees paid to the individuals concerned. Senator Kennelly also referred to monopolies, a subject on which I have sought to give an answer in response to Senator McKenna’s comments.
– Senator Kennelly asked whether the counsel to whom the Minister has referred were instructed by outside solicitors.
– I am informed that they were not.
.- I refer to Division No. 219, Legal Service Bureau. I disagree entirely with Senator Wright’s comments in this respect. My experience of the Legal Service Bureau oyer many years is that it has been one of the most helpful of all government instrumentalities. On many occasions I have sought advice on behalf of various people, or have sent people to the bureau in my State. I wish to pay a tribute to the courteous and considerate treatment which the officers of the bureau have given to all those people I have sent to them. I should say that this is one service that we are getting at rather a cheap rate. It seems to me to be one of the least extravagant of all the services that are covered by the section of the Estimates with which we are dealing.
I should like to know whether the functions of the bureau could be extended to meet the position that no doubt will arise next year when the Matrimonial Causes Act becomes operative. I am wondering whether wives who are proceeded against, unwillingly, for the dissolution of their marriage will be able to obtain assistance from the Legal Service Bureau if they are not in a financial position to employ counsel. It is expected that when the legislation becomes effective the lawyers will have a picnic, but no doubt there will be many people who will not have the money to brief counsel. I should like to see a service established for the indigent so that they will be able to obtain legal assistance and will not be divorced because they cannot afford to obtain legal assistance to defend themselves.
– I doubt whether there is one State in Australia in which such services are not available to the indigent at present.
– Not in matrimonial causes.
– I refer to Division No. 222 - Commonwealth Police Force. I notice again this year with some regret that no money has been set aside in the Estimates for buildings. We have a very fine police force in the Australian Capital Territory from the Commissioner, Mr. Richards, down to the youngest constable. I know quite a lot of them. As honorable senators know, I spend many week-ends poking around in Canberra and finding out what makes it tick. One of the things I discovered a couple of years ago was that the single constables in the police force in Canberra are living under intolerable conditions. The barracks are not worthy of either Canberra or the police force. So, I again raise the matter of the inadequate buildings. I am not sure whether it comes under the Department of the Interior, the National Capital Development Commission, or the Attorney-General’s Department. Perhaps the Minister can inform me of the position. As the Commonwealth Police Force is listed under the Attorney-General’s Department, I take this opportunity to raise the matter while we are discussing this item in the Estmates. ! ask the Minister whether he will bring to the notice of the Government or his colleague, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), the fact that something should be done very shortly - certainly before next winter - to make the barracks at least of reasonable, frugal comfort. They certainly are not so at the moment. They are built of a very thin type of material like fibro; they are cold and draughty, and have very little heating. I mentioned the matter last year and I raise it again this year in the hope that something will be done.
– In answer to Senator Kendall, I point out that the police force to which he is referring is the Australian Capital Territory Police Force, not the Commonwealth Police Force. The Australian Capital Territory Police Force is the responsibility of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), to whom I will convey the remarks made by the honorable senator.
– It is shown as “ Division No. 222 - Commonwealth Police Force “.
– Yes, but that police force is different from the Australian Capital Territory Police Force.
– There is the Peace Officer Guard and then the Commonwealth Investigation Service.
– And there is also the Australian Capital Territory Police Force.
– That is not the Commonwealth Police Force?
– No. In reply to Senator Tangney’s questions on the Legal Service Bureau, I inform her that assistance can be given by that bureau in matrimonial causes under its charter, provided the person who requires the assistance is a returned soldier or a dependant of a returned soldier. It is to those people that the Legal Service Bureau provides legal assistance.
– That could not be extended to all Commonwealth pensioners?
– That would be a matter for consideration.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed Vote, £2,943,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of External Affairs.
Proposed Vote, £2,158,300.
International Development and Relief.
Proposed Vote, £5,552,500.
Economic Assistance to Support Defence Programme South-East Asia Treaty Organization Member Countries.
Proposed Vote, £650,000.
Ordered to be considered together.
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South Wales) [9.44J. - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I notice that the appropriation for Australia’s representation in the Republic of Ireland is unchanged at £14,700. I do not know whether this is the right place to raise this matter, but I suppose any place where one’s voice can be heard is the right place, and, therefore, I say that we should clear up this problem of Australia’s representation in Ireland. I do not think there is a more numerous section of the community that could be offended than the Irish who are offended by the Government’s reluctance to appoint a full-time ambassador to Ireland. I suppose that nearly 25 per cent, of the Australian population is of Irish descent. The most extraordinary thing about them is that they are very proud of it. They resent the attitude of the Government which, in their opinion, does not pay them the courtesy of according to Ireland the status which they seek for it. This position has existed for a long time.
We have a charge d’affaires in Dublin and Ireland has a charge d’affaires in Canberra. There must be a solution of this problem which would allow Australia to have a full-time ambassador to Ireland. I am not sure whether he would be an ambassador, but I suppose he would be. That was the position before and I do not know why it should not obtain again.
– Take the matter to the United Nations.
– The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Boland, is the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. So Ireland has received recognition in perhaps more important parts of the world than Australia. There is no reason why Ireland should not be recognized by Australia.
We members of the Australian Labour Party feel a bit more deeply on this matter than do members of the Liberal Party because in earlier years the Irish, because of their background, gravitated to the Labour Party in this country. I suppose we feel a little more keenly about this apparent denigration of Ireland than do members of the Government. I am quite sure that if the Government had the will to solve this problem, a solution would not be far away. I ask the Minister who represents the Minister for External Affairs to consider the matter.
At present the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is also the Minister for External Affairs. It is an extraordinary commentary on the Government that when any senior portfolio becomes vacant there is no junior Minister who is able to act in the position. The Prime Minister himself, in his wisdom - I suppose he knows his Cabinet better than anybody else does - feels that there is nobody in the Cabinet who is competent to carry out the responsibilities of this office for the few months when the Minister for External Affairs is abroad or, as in this particular case, when the former Minister has retired and his position has to be filled. After a survey of the available Cabinet material, the Prime Minister feels that there is no one - apart from himself, of course - who is competent to do the job. So he feels that he must carry it out.
– Mr. Nehru had some views about that, too!
– Mr. Nehru had something to say, but I do not think that this is the time to discuss that matter. It is interesting that my Deputy Leader should mention that because as Minister for External Affairs the Prime Minister did not seem to do such a good job in the United Nations. He just did not seem to be aware of all the undercurrents at, and the background of the United Nations. I am almost certain that, if he had been the permanent Minister for External Affairs he would have been competent to handle them.
It is time this matter of representation in the Republic of Ireland was determined.
The present position is an insult to a very large percentage of the Australian population who are of Irish ancestry and are proud of that country. They realize the great influence that migrants from Ireland have had all over the world. The fact that this country should take a technical point and deny Ireland full diplomatic representation is something which ought to be remedied very quickly.
I should like the Minister to look into the question of the appointment of honorary consuls in certain countries where Australia has not full diplomatic representation. The policy of the Department of External Affairs is not to appoint an honorary consul in any part of the world. The Department of External Affairs has a short history. We had virtually no Department of External Affairs until the Labour Government came into office in 1941. Up to that stage I would think that our overseas representatives numbered four or perhaps five. Under the control of Dr. Evatt, who was then Minister for External Affairs, we greatly expanded our foreign service and moved into most of the important countries. That trend has been accentuated and developed by this Government in the last ten years, particularly in respect of our representation in South-East Asia. That is a good thing, but we should extend our representation to countries such as Spain. Spain has a representative in Australia but we do not have a representative in Spain. We should have reciprocity in these matters and if Spain is prepared to send a representative to Australia, we should send a representative to Spain.
– There is no Spanish Minister here.
– There is a Consul-General for Spain in Australia. Both he and the Spanish Charge d’Affaires have been in consultation with this Government for two years, trying to bring about a measure of reciprocity. They lived in Canberra for some time but they left Canberra when the Government refused to give any guarantee of reciprocity. The department’s excuse is that it lacks sufficient manpower to cover all the areas that it is seeking to cover, let alone accept additional responsibilities.
I mention those matters in passing in order to support my plea for recognition of honorary consuls. Although the department may lack the necessary manpower, there are areas of the world where it is important for us to have a representative and I think it is time the department seriously considered recognizing honorary consuls in many parts of the world. In the last few months I have urged the department to recognize as such a gentleman who lives in Belgium. He speaks English fluently and was decorated for his deeds on the field of battle. He is a leader of industry in Belgium and would be an ideal representative of Australia. He is anxious to start a business in Australia and he thought that with his knowledge and love of Australia and Australians he would be well equipped to act as an honorary consul - to answer questions about Australia and to meet Australians passing through Belgium. But the department, because of its policy of not recognizing honorary consuls, has not even examined this man’s credentials. He could be another Churchill; he could be anybody; but he cannot be considered because the department will not recognize honorary consuls.
In a country where Australia does not have a representative the normal procedure is for a person seeking information about, for instance, trade with Australia to approach the British Consul. I have had many instances brought to my notice, particularly in relation to trade matters, in which people who have sought from the British office information about Australia not only have not received the information but have had their inquiries channelled through other sources usually to the advantage of Britain rather than of Australia. 1 suppose that is natural. It is important that Australia should be represented as widely as possible. The department constantly claims that it is short of manpower and that its representation is spread too thinly. That is logical, because the British Commonwealth of Nations has been in existence for only twenty years, during the first five or six of which the world was at war. The difficulties of establishing diplomatic posts have been very great and it is obvious, in view of the tremendous increase in the activities of the Department of External Affairs, that weaknesses in manpower from point to point will become manifest. This is emphasized in many overseas countries where the people who represent Australia do not have the faintest idea of local customs and cannot speak the language of the country. In those countries very often the most important man in the organization is the chauffeur or a house servant who can speak the language of the country fluently. He or she is the key person in some of our diplomatic posts abroad. That situation is wrong but we know that it exists. That is one of the results of spreading so thinly the manpower available in the Department of External Affairs.
The department claims that its man-power resources will not permit it to establish a representative in Spain, which is developing extensive contacts with Australia through immigration and trade. If sufficient manpower is not available to the department I ask the Minister seriously to consider the appointment of honorary consuls who could play a part in publicizing Australia in those parts of the world where the Department of External Affairs, because of man-power difficulties, cannot send representatives. I ask the Minister to look into the matter of honorary consuls and to raise once more with the Minister for External Affairs the position of Ireland so that that country may take its proper place among the nations of the world.
– Referring to the cost of maintaining our representation abroad, I find that we are spending more on representation in the undeveloped countries of South-East Asia than we are on representation in Europe and elsewhere. We have three different categories of representation abroad and I should like to see more co-ordination between them. The Department of External Affairs, the Department of Trade and the Department of Immigration each has representatives in overseas countries. I do not know whether there is any co-ordination between those representatives. Many of our diplomatic posts abroad have been established since I was last overseas twelve years ago.
In London we have representation at Australia House and we also have representation by the Department of External Affairs. I would like to know what is being done at Australia House. In England, we have a High Commissioner at Australia House and we also have representatives of the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Trade and the Department of Immigration. What interest does Australia House represent? I feel that possibly, in our endeavour to spread our wings over every part of the world, we have overlapping of interests in many instances. Possibly our representation in some parts of the world is becoming top heavy. I have noticed that Australia is represented at many overseas conferences by officers of the Department of External Affairs stationed in the country in which the conference is held. I understand that shortly a conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is to be held and I would be interested to know how many of the officers of the Department of External Affairs who will attend that conference are educationists, or whether they will attend simply because they happen to be on the spot. A conference of Unesco is surely of sufficient importance to warrant sending a full delegation from Australia rather than relying on representation by officers of the Department of External Affairs who happen to be in the country in which the conference is held. I should like to know whether the Department of External Affairs is showing any particular interest in having officers who are particularly well versed in educational problems to put forward Australia’s policy in this matter - if it has one - at Unesco conferences.
As we are spending so much money on representation in South-East Asia, I wish to support the point that was made by Senator Armstrong with regard to the language difficulties which must confront many of our diplomats when they go lo these countries. I should like to know what the Department of External Affairs is doing in the matter of sponsoring the teaching of foreign languages, particularly Asiatic languages, at Australian universities as a part of the training of our diplomats. I know that the school of general studies of the Australian National University which was formerly the Canberra University College, provides a course of oriental studies, and I understand that a similar course is provided at the University of Melbourne. Are these bodies being assisted with relation to the provision of staff, and so on, by the Department of External
Affairs? What encouragement is given to members of that department who undertake such courses of study? I feel that quite a number of international difficulties could be overcome if the officers of the department were able to speak the languages of countries that are foreign to us.
– My experience has been a little happier than that of Senator Armstrong, though possibly not so extensive as his. Last year, I was at Saigon and Paris. In both places I received the greatest help and assistance from the officers in charge of our posts, who were completely competent in every way. This was particularly noticeable at Saigon, where I had the good fortune to stay for three days because the aeroplane on which I was travelling broke down: I had a holiday at the expense of the company. There was only a charge d’affaires there - not a Minister - and he was extremely competent. He could speak French, which is still the language that practically everybody there speaks. Of course, in Paris, both the ambassador and his chief assistants were very competent in that language, too.
This question of language is a very difficult one, and I think it is right to bring the matter to the notice of the Minister in committee, but we should not try to hurry the department into making premature decisions. It is advisable - indeed, I think it is necessary - for a man in charge of any of our overseas posts to be able to speak the language of the country in which the post is established. This is a difficult matter when we move our officers about - as we do, and it is advisable to do so - because some of the oriental languages are extremely difficult to master and an officer cannot be sure yet how much value he will derive from mastering any one of them. There was a time when French was the diplomatic language, and, therefore, a person who could speak French had a very great advantage.
I think that to-day there are two languages other than English which are of very great use. They are French and Spanish, and English, incidentally, is rapidly becoming possibly the most useful language of the world. French is still spoken throughout a great part of SouthEast Asia. Certainly I found that it was spoken at Saigon and I believe it is spoken in Laos. As a matter of fact, any representatives of the former French empire that I met there spoke French very well; at least, they spoke it better than I can, and I can speak it reasonably well. Therefore, I think we should give the Minister a good deal of encouragement and support, and not too much criticism, because it has yet to be worked out which is the best course of languages for officers to study. I certainly think that a knowledge of languages is a quality that we should demand of the officers of the Department of External Affairs. From my own experience, I know that a good many of them arc so qualified. I know quite a number of the officers of the department both here and abroad, and I think we are extremely fortunate to have obtained such good officers in the very short time that we have had to build up this new type of service.
There rs one conclusion that is important. I do not think we should spread our strength too much because, after all, we are not the richest nation in the world and if we insist on opening embassies everywhere we probably will find them ineffective. South America, for instance, is a place that we have not yet fully explored, as we should do. We have one important post there; T think we should have at least two. I believe that every step forward should be taken with a view to getting the maximum benefit we can from the expenditure involved.
T come now to the question of salaries and allowances. This is a rather difficult matter because we in this country tend to judge it by the standards that the Public Service Board uses, quite rightly, in assessing the remuneration of the officers of the Department of External Affairs in relation to that of officers of other departments. When our officers go abroad they are judged, not by our standards, but by the standards of the country to which they go. They have to hold their own with the representatives of the United States of America, who never seem to lack money, and those of other countries. When I was in Paris last year I found that the Canadians, of all the representatives of British people, except, of course, the United Kingdom itself, were the best placed. They had a magnificent new building in the main part of the city near other embassies and other important -places. The Canadians seemed to take a -delight in saying that they did not care too much about anybody else. They were not a bit impressed merely by the fact that a -person came from the United States of America or from the United Kingdom, -because they were equal to anybody. I wish I bad got from the Canadian authorities particulars in relation to salaries, allowances and so forth. I certainly gained the impression, after an evening spent in the Canadian embassy, that the Canadians, compared with our people, were in clover. Incidentally, our embassy is not in a bad position. It is situated on the south side of the river, fairly close to the legislative assembly. It is not far from the Russian embassy. As a matter of fact, the Russian embassy and our embassy, externally, are much the same inasmuch as they are housed in old-fashioned buildings. The only difference I noticed - I did not go inside the Russian embassy - was that the building occupied by the Russians had been newly painted.
All these things are of extreme importance. I think we must not be extravagant in this matter but we must develop a service equal to the prestige that we would wish our country to have abroad. I think that the country with which we should compare ourselves is Canada. That country, of course, has a larger population, and is richer than Australia. If we accepted the United States of America or Great Britain as a model, possibly we would find that we were aiming a bit too high. I think we should look at the rates and conditions enjoyed by the Canadian representatives with whom the Australian officers associate very freely and easily. The Canadians are among the most friendly people I have met in the world. If we accepted their conditions as a standard, I think we would do fairly well.
.- I should like to answer some of the points that have been raised by honorable senators during the discussion of this section of the Estimates. I pay a tribute to Senator McCallum for his suggestions concerning the development of a service of the kind he wants without expending too much money on it. There is only one point at which I take issue a little with him. He said that he did not think the Parliament should stampede the Department of External Affairs into making allowances or payments too soon to its officers who have learnt foreign languages. I can assure Senator McCallum that the department is only too ready to grant officers leave with pay so that they can learn languages. As to the payment of emoluments after they have learnt languages, I think I have mentioned in this chamber before that negotiations on that matter are proceeding between the department, the Treasury and the Public Service Board. I say in reply to Senator Tangney that there is coordination between the Department of Trade and the Department of External Affairs. If there is a trade commissioner in any country in which there is a diplomatic post, that trade commissioner is attached to the diplomatic post with the rank of commercial counsellor, is under the control of the Ambassador or Minister, as the case may be, and works in the same office. To that extent there is co-ordination.
As somebody with some element of Irish extraction, I disagree with what I understood to be Senator Armstrong’s statement that 25 per cent, of the people in Australia were Irish and, what was more, were very proud of it. I disagree with that entirely. I am sure that he realizes the difficulties that are inherent in the establishment in Eire of an ambassador from Australia in present circumstances. ,
– We did have an ambassador there.
– We did, in different circumstances. He was accredited in a different way.
– What were the different circumstances?
– At that stage the Government of Eire did not demand the same form of accreditation as it is now demanding an ambassador should be given.
– You have said that the accreditation of an ambassador to the Government of Eire is just what this Government wants.
– The honorable senator will understand that an ambassador from this country is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. It is a direct appointment by Her Majesty. An envoy should certainly not be so accredited as to indicate that there is some colour to the claim of the Government of Eire to have title to govern Ulster or Northern Ireland. That is the cause of the difficulty in regard to this question. The form of accreditation that the Government of Eire desires would imply a recognition of that Government’s right to govern Ulster.
– Does that apply to all other countries that have ambassadors in Ireland?
– Other countries would be in a different position from that of the United Kingdom, which as far as I know has not an ambassador there.
– Do they give that recognition?
– The honorable senator spoke about recognition in the United Nations. We not only recognize Ireland; we are delighted with Ireland and with Irishmen. The only point of difference that we have with them is that we do not believe that the section of Ireland which, by democratic vote, decided that it wanted to be separate and to govern itself should be acknowledged as a section that ought to be under the Government of Eire. That is and always has been the difficulty. We have no desire not to have any ambassador to the Government of Eire; indeed, we should be delighted to have one.
– We voted to make an Irishman president of the United Nations.
– Yes, and why not?
– How does Canada get on about representation in Eire?
– I. cannot tell the honorable senator that at the moment. Senator Armstrong raised a question in relation to Spain. As Senator Kennelly pointed out, this Government recognizes Spain. This Government would be delighted if Spain were to establish a diplomatic mission in Canberra and it would willingly accept that mission. There is a difference between a consul-general and a diplomatic mission.
– Spain wants a diplomatic mission.
– It would be quite acceptable to this Government if the Spanish Government were to establish a diplomatic mission in Canberra.
– We are talking about a mission in Spain.
– This Government cannot, for the reasons that the honorable senator gave, establish a mission of its own in Spain, although there is no reason why the Spanish Government should not establish a mission in Canberra. A number of governments, including that of Austria, have established missions here without having reciprocal Australian missions established in their countries. It is a matter for the Spanish Government. We would be happy to receive a diplomatic mission. Because of the number of people we have and the strain on our resources, we cannot establish a reciprocal mission in Spain. In regard to the appointment of a consul or honorary consul in Spain, I know, and I am sure the honorable senator knows, that the Spanish Government would not regard such an appointment as equivalent to the establishment of a diplomatic mission.
– I did not suggest that.
– The honorable senator referred to the appointment of honorary consuls. I thought he mentioned that matter in relation to the establishment of a reciprocal mission in Spain. On the question of honorary consuls generally, the position is as the honorable senator stated. Honorary consuls may be either Australian nationals living abroad or citizens of the country concerned. The position carries a good deal of social importance and in certain circumstances an honorary consul may be of assistance to Australians who want to carry on a business or to travel in the country concerned. By and large, each request is fairly carefully examined, as the honorable senator has suggested.
– It is not examined at all.
– The policy is against such representation, and I think that on the whole it is a fairly wise policy.
.- I was interested in the references that have been made to our diplomatic relations with Eire. This is a subject, of course, on which I can speak entirely without bias. I understand - I should like the Minister to investigate the matter - that this problem has been satisfactorily settled in the case of Canada. I believe that this kind of difficulty can be settled if people get together with goodwill. I can understand both sides having their points of view, which they are entitled to maintain if they feel a matter of principle is involved, but I still believe that it would be possible, if both sides got together, to arrange this matter.
I am sorry that our diplomatic relations with free China are not on a better basis. We have had Chinese ambassadors here. Free China has been represented by men of very high calibre. It seems to me that there is a sort of shamefacedness about what we do in return. We are afraid that people might think we are doing the wrong thing if we send an ambassador to Formosa. 1 should like our Government to show a little more courage and, having received an ambassador of free China, it should send one over there to represent us. I think that this is only fair play and that it ought to be done.
The other matter to which 1 wanted to refer is the proposed vote for international labour conferences, under Division No. 627. Within the last week or two a lot has been said in this country about visits by trade union leaders, or alleged trade union leaders, from other countries. The suggestion has been made that we should bring them here in order that we may meet them and discuss things with them. I should like to point out that this is not necessary. For years we have had representation at International Labour Organization conferences. Representatives of other countries go to those conferences, and if we want to meet them on an official basis we can meet them there. There have been some disgraceful associations during the visits of overseas unionists to this country within the last few weeks. I am edified to know that in the next day or two union leaders from Communist unions will be coming here to talk to us about human rights, and to reflect upon the fact that as the Communist Party has done for the last 40 years, in the last few weeks those same Communist leaders hired bashers to attack trade unionists who exercised the right of peaceful picketing and protest. It is utmost hyprocrisy for Communist leaders to come to members of the Parliament and make representations about human rights when in every country over which the Communists have control they destroy human rights, and when over the hist couple of weeks those leaders have bashed people who have attempted to assert the ordinary privilege of peaceful protest. 1 hope the Department of Labour and National Service will exercise some control over representation at conferences of the International Labour Organization. A most remarkable incident occurred some years ago. The trade union movement of this country was represented at an I.L.O. conference by a man who was not a member o( a trade union. That was a scandalous state of affairs. It is scandalous that the Government of this country should have paid his expenses. The man concerned was Mr. F. E. Chamberlain of Western Australia.
– He was elected by trade unionists.
– But he was not a member of a trade union. Surely Senator Tangney does not intend to tell me that a man should have his expenses paid to enable him to represent the trade unionists of Australia at the I.L.O. when he is not even a member of a trade union. The leaders of the Australian Council of Trade Unions were shocked to think that Mr. Chamberlain had sat on the executive of the A.C.T.U. for a number of years, that he had been chosen to represent Australian trade unionists at the T.L.O., that he had represented them, and that he admitted on his return that he was not a member of a trade union. I believe it is the duty of the Department of Labour and National Service, which has the supervision of this matter and provides the necessary funds, to ensure that delegates that go abroad are bona fide.
– Are you quite certain Chamberlain did not hold out that he was a trade unionist?
– I do not know how he got there.
– He had been a member of a trade union.
– Senator Tangney will admit that he was not a trade unionist th-n.
– He had been a member of a trade union. At that time there was no trade union to cover his calling.
– I disagree with Senator Tangney when she says there was no trade union to cover his calling. When
I was the Assistant Secretary of the Australian Labour Party, I joined the Clerks Union, because the Clerks Union covered my calling. I was a member of the Teachers Union, too. As far as I know, every Labour Party official in this country joins a trade union. It has always been the rule of the Labour Party that every person in the party had to join a union. If Mr. Chamberlain believed that it was not necessary for him to join a trade union, all I can say is that he did not act as other Labour Party members have done. The leaders of the A.C.T.U. were shocked to find out that he had gone to a conference of the I.L.O. and had had his expenses paid without his being a member of a trade union. They ordered him to go back to Western Australia and join a union. When he went back he did not join the trade union that covered his calling. He got two unions, the secretaries of which were his friends, to make him an honorary member of their unions. If a man is to be a unionist, let him pay for it. Let him be a financial member and not get in on the blue.
What else happened after Mr. Chamberlain returned? The union he should have joined was the Clerks Union. He had a row with the secretary. Two friends of his went around the Trades Hall trying to induce the girls to resign from the Clerks Union. If his friends had had their way, we would have had a situation in which the offices of the trade union movement in Western Australia were staffed with scab labour. The secretary of one of the Western Australian unions, Mr. Oscar Nielsen, told me that some of the veteran unionists had to go around and tell the girls that they could not do that sort of thing.
– I do not think that is true.
– I have been informed it is true. I simply say once again that 1 hope that in future when delegates are sent from this country to represent Australian trade unionists at the T.L.O. they will be members of trade unions.
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) fi 0.251 - I regret very much that this occasion has been used to make an attack on a person who is not here to defend himself. Every one knows that 1 have quite different opinions from those of members of the party concerned. I regret very much that this committee has been used as a forum in which to attack a person who is not here. That is all I want to say on that point.
– Do you admit that he was not a member of a union?
– If you want to come into it, I will not let the matter go at that. If you want to come in, you may.
– You must not bear any malice.
– 1 do not bear any malice. It is a matter of hitting back when I am hit.
– You cannot take it.
– I can take it. Let us now consider the Department of External Affairs. What is this nation coming to? A Minister for External Affairs was supposed to have one of the most important portfolios. The work of Lord Casey, when he was Minister for External Affairs, was lauded as being a monument to the importance of this nation. Mr. Casey, as he then was, was in and out of this country faster than a yo-yo moves up and down. I am not saying that he was not serving this country, but his portfolio was considered to be so important that no one begrudged his representing this country at any place at any time. But Mr. Casey has passed from the scene. He has become Lord Casey of Berwick! The number of sirs and lords that we have in this country now nearly makes me sick. Suddenly, this portfolio, which kept Mr. Casey, and no doubt his predecessor, going from and returning to this country became vacant and there was no one to fill it except the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
– Certainly his predecessor, Dr. Evatt, went in and out a lot.
– He did. I do not think even you, with the smallness of mind you often portray, could cavil at the work of Dr. Evatt in the years he represented Australia. Why not put all the cards on the table?
– Why sneer at Lord Casey?
– I did not sneer at him.
– Yes, you did.
– Come on, then. I do not mind putting a bit of life into this place.
– Your reference to a yo-yo was most unbecoming.
– If it offends you-
– It does not offend me.
– If it offends you, I shall withdraw it with great deference. That portfolio was regarded as being so important that I believe Mr. Casey was the third Minister in the battalion of 22. Now we find that the Department of External Affairs, which was so important yesterday, is looked at by the Prime Minister only on odd occasions.
– It is like Chifley being Treasurer as well as Prime Minister, is it not?
– That is all right. Just you wait until you produce one as good as he was. The Prime Minister has no less a personage than the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) as his assistant to administer the Department of External Affairs.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 November 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19601108_senate_23_s18/>.