24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - It is with regret that I formally advise the Senate of the death of the wife of the Governor-General, Lady Jacqueline Corinne Yvonne Vereken, Viscountess De L’Isle. She was a woman of great charm and distinction, the daughter of a great soldier, and a woman with a record of service to the community both in peace and war in her own right, quite apart from her position as wife of the Governor-General of Australia.
Mr. President, we extend our deep sympathy to His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral, to his son and his four daughters. We would like them all to feel that Lady De L’Isle earned our respect because of her obvious sense of duty, her quiet charm and the affection for her family which was so constantly apparent in all her actions.
– by leave - The late Lady De L’Isle was both by right and by nature the first lady of this island continent of Australia. There is not one Australian who is not deeply grieved and shocked by her tragic death and the poignancy of the circumstances that surrounded it. She has been cut off in the full bloom of her career as wife and mother and as the helpmate of the Queen’s representative in our country. She endured a prolonged expectation of death with serenity and dignity and faced the end with sublime courage. She died far from her native land and lifelong friends.
We of the Parliament who were privileged to know Lady De L’Isle better than most Australians can fully appreciate the depth of the sense of loss that afflicts the Governor-General and each member of his family. To them we of the Opposition offer our heartfelt sympathy in their bereavement in the hope that it may afford a measure of consolation. It is our prayer that their grief may be eased.
– On behalf of honorable senators, I conveyed to the Governor-General and his family the sympathy of the Senate in the death of Lady De L’Isle. I have received a letter from Viscount De L’Isle expressing his thanks for this message.
– By way of preface to a question which I direct to the Minister for National Development, I should like to acknowledge with gratitude the statement of the Prime Minister on 19th November that the construction of Chowilla dam on the Murray River in South Australia would be undertaken forthwith as a work under the River Murray Waters Agreement. Will the Minister give both the details and the significance of the agreement reached for the use by South Australia until 1970 of part of the water available in the Menindee storage in New South Wales?
– Senator Laught will remember that the original proposal was that the Menindee water storage should be used, thus deferring the construction of the Chowilla dam. That proposal was referred to the River Murray Commission for investigation. The commission made a report and said that there were great advantages to be derived from using the Menindee waters. The Premiers and the Prime Minister, accepting that there were great advantages in using the Menindee waters, yet decided to proceed with the immediate construction of the Chowilla dam and, at the same time, to use the Menindee waters by arrangement between the members of the River Murray Commission and the State of New South Wales.
So the net result is that we have the best of both worlds. We shall have the use of the Menindee waters until such time as the Chowilla dam is built and filled. Putting the matter in more precise terms, we shall have the use of the Menindee waters for a period of seven years, it being estimated that this will be the time taken to construct the Chowilla dam and subsequently fill it. There are very great advantages to be gained from this arrangement. For instance, if we had a very severe drought of short duration, say twelve months, the use of the Menindee waters could give benefits equivalent to those resulting from the construction of the Chowilla dam. The benefits would be as great in a short drought. But, of course, the Menindee scheme is very much smaller than the Chowilla dam and those benefits would not continue during a drought of any lengthy period.
An arrangement has been reached whereunder the States which are represented on the River Murray Commission will rent - to use a colloquial term - three-quarters of the waters of the Menindee scheme for a period of seven years and the construction of the Chowilla dam will be proceeded with as quickly as possible. This will provide a great insurance to all settlers along the river Murray and, of course, will be of tremendous advantage to South Australia. The whole project will be not only the greatest developmental work, I should think, that could be carried out for South Australia but will also be of great benefit to all other States using the river Murray waters. Considering Menindee on its own for a moment, one can understand the benefits that flow from it. In a year of severe drought the Menindee Lakes scheme would give benefits equivalent to those provided by the construction of Chowilla dam. If the drought lasted for a couple of years, as it did in 1913-15, the Menindee Lakes scheme, prior to the construction of Chowilla dam, would provide the three States through which the river Murray flows with 55 per cent, of their water requirements compared with the 30 per cent, that they would obtain if the Menindee Lakes scheme were not operative. Chowilla dam will provide an additional 9,000,000 acre feet of water, spread over the period of twelve years for which the original investigation was made. The construction of the Chowilla dam plus the Menindee Lakes scheme make very different indeed the position of settlers along the river Murray.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. What departments have buildings in that portion of Perry Park, Brisbane, which is the head-quarters of Australian Rules football in Queensland? What area is taken up by such buildings? What rent is paid to the Brisbane City Council in respect of those buildings? For how long do the Commonwealth departments intend to remain in occupation in this area? As the war has been over for approximately seventeen years, will the departments concerned or the Department of the Interior take immediate steps to vacate this area?
– I am sorry that I cannot answer the honorable senator’s first question in this place in some detail but as a southerner I remind him that he is asking a good deal if he wants me to urge the removal of buildings that will detract from the attractiveness of Australian Rules football. I think that may be the intent of his question. I shall bring the question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, who is completely unbiased as far as football is concerned. I am sure that the honorable senator will get the information that he seeks.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by stating that this morning’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “ reports that the South Australian Government has approved of an Italian firm of consulting engineers making a model of the proposed Kangaroo Creek dam. For the information of the Senate, I state that this project is the next major water storage to be undertaken in South Australia. The firm is Istituto Sperimentale Modelli E Strutture of Bergamo, Italy. It undertakes the construction of models of dams to be used in tests to determine the stresses and loads to which high dam walls will be subjected. I ask the Minister: Has not the construction of working models of dams for testing stresses, loadings and associated problems of water storage been carried out for many years by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority? If so, will the Minister get in touch with the South Australian Government, pointing out that this work has been done by the Snowy Mountains Authority, and perhaps inviting the Engineering and Water Supply Department of South Australia to make use of the authority in future dam construction?
– I know that the Snowy Mountains Authority has a research laboratory. I know also that before proceeding with water storage schemes the authority invariably makes a scale model of the scheme to determine the effect of water flow in different sets of circumstances. I have not sufficient technical knowledge to say whether what the South Australian Government proposes is different from the kind of work which is carried out by the Snowy Mountains Authority. The South Australian Government may, or may not, have discussed this matter already with the Snowy Mountains Authority, which does a good deal of work of various kinds for the governments of Australia. I would not be bold enough to make overtures to the South Australian Government upon this matter, because the responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the State in this field are clearly defined. A State government would be responsible for carrying out work such as this. I have great confidence in the Snowy Mountains Authority, in the work that it does and in the research that it carries out, but it is for the South Australian Government to decide where it will place its orders or where it will obtain technical services such as those we are considering.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen the report of a statement by Mr. R. M. Ansett, the managing director of Ansett-A.N.A., that the value of the Government’s 1961 Civil Aviation Agreement Act cannot be calculated, and that it ensures Ansett-A.N.A. of reasonable profits for another fifteen years? Would it be fair to assume from this that the Opposition’s criticism of the Government’s airline policy as constituting a blatant handout to a private airline company is correct? Does the Minister get a glow of satisfaction from reading such a tribute to his policy as that handed out by the private airline operator, Mr. R. M. Ansett?
– I have not seen a report of the statement attributed to Mr. Ansett. I shall get a copy of it and I shall read it with great interest. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is completely at fault - as he always is in respect of this matter - when he refers to a handout by this Government to a private enterprise entity in the civil aviation business in Australia. The policy laid down by this Government in 1952, and re-affirmed in 1961, was that there should be two airlines operate ing the trunk route services in Australia. Everything that has been done since then has been done to ensure the stability of the airlines industry as a whole, including the stability of Trans-Australia Airlines. Even my friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will not now deny that that organization is prospering, although for years he attempted to mislead the Australian public into believing that the Government was bringing it to the verge of collapse. TransAustralia Airlines is a stable Governmentowned organization and Ansett-A.N.A. is a stable privately-owned organization. If five years ago we could have looked forward and seen this result, we would then have had the glow of satisfaction which now, as a result of the successful outcome of this policy, we are entitled to enjoy should we so desire.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform the Senate whether additional accommodation has been provided by the Commonwealth Railways on the trans-continental run for visitors to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth? Is the Minister aware that there are many visitors from the eastern States now in Perth who hold return tickets on the railway but are unable to obtain firm bookings out of Perth due, so it is alleged, to the shortage of accommodation on the Commonwealth section of the line? As this is not the first time that such criticism has been levelled at the Commonwealth Railways, can the Minister say whether it is usual railway policy to issue return tickets without making firm bookings for the return journey? Will he direct the attention of his colleague to the matter, and ask him to investigate the hold-up and, if necessary, to make more accommodation available?
– As the question is a fairly comprehensive one, I cannot undertake to answer it in detail. However,
I can give the honorable senator some general information on this subject. I understand that the majority of the people now in Perth who are inconvenienced through not having a firm return booking, have been so inconvenienced because at the date when they bought their return tickets they did not firmly book a return passage from Perth, although Mr. Opperman, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and also the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, had frequently stated, prior to the commencement of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, that there could be difficulty in connexion with train accommodation. They made those statements despite the fact that as much rolling-stock as possible was being made available for this purpose. Return bookings could be made and, indeed, were made in many cases, six months before the journey was undertaken. I repeat that many of the people who booked return passages did not nominate a firm date for their return.
The position is further complicated by the fact that a return booking from Perth to, say, Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland, involves a booking not only on the Commonwealth system but also on several State systems. When there is considerable pressure, as there is on this occasion, not only on through traffic but also on the various State systems, it is rather more difficult to get an early return booking. I shall bring to the attention of Mr. Opperman the matter raised by the honorable senator, but I think that the comments I have made fairly describe the situation.
– Did the Leader of Government in the Senate see an article in this morning’s press, written by David Fleay, a famous Queensland naturalist, concerning the decimation of kangaroos and other fauna? Is the Government prepared to save Australia’s unique fauna from total extinction? Will the Government consider David Fleay’s suggestion that special reserves be set up for the preservation of our fauna?
– I am not certain that I saw the article. I say that in rather a hesitant tone of voice because I have a recollection of reading that such a reserve might be established in Canberra. Therefore, I may have read the article to which the honorable senator has referred. I do not know that this is a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. I think that matters relating to fauna come within the jurisdiction of the State governments. However, I find now that I really should not be answering this question. The Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Henty, is the authority on the matter, and I understand that he deals with it in co-operation with the State governments.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. In view of the deep concern regarding the effect of the drug thalidomide, could the Minister inform the Senate whether the drug meclozine, mentioned in to-day’s press, which, it is stated, is on the pharmaceutical benefits list, is identical with the drug suspected in Denmark and Sweden of causing malformation of babies when used during pregnancy? If this is so, what action is being taken?
– Because of the lively public interest in the side effects of drugs, I endeavour to arm myself with authentic information on these matters. I am informed that Postafene is the trade name for the substance meclozine hydrochloride. In Australia, the drug is marketed under the trade name of Ancolan. It is a antihistamine, used in cases of motion sickness and morning sickness. Apparently the drug is suspected by one Swedish doctor of being a possible cause of damage to unborn babies. The doctor states himself that his evidence so far is purely circumstantial. There appears to be no evidence from any other part of the world to support this doctor’s suspicion. The Swedish authorities have decided to place the sale of the drug on a prescription only basis. In Australia, the drug is already restricted in practically every State to sale only on a doctor’s prescription. In the States where this does not apply, the drug is procurable only from pharmacies, and the container must bear a cautionary label. The matter is being carefully investigated by my department, and if any further control is required it will be recommended immediately.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation, and I do so on behalf of aged and infirm people and women who travel on our airlines. Does any agreement exist between airlines using joint or separate terminal buildings at airports for the transport of passengers’ luggage from one airline luggage centre to that of another airline when passengers are continuing a journey and changing to aircraft operated by the other airline? If there is no agreement at present to provide a regular and reliable method of moving such luggage, will the Minister consider having this position rectified either by the airlines or the Department of Civil Aviation, or by the institution of an independent porter system?
– To my knowledge, this aspect of air transport is not covered by an agreement between the airlines, but it has always been my understanding, and indeed it is my experience, that passengers in difficulties are generally, if not always, afforded the greatest of assistance when assistance is needed, especially if they are mothers with babies or other young children, or if they are aged or infirm persons. If the honorable senator has in mind an instance of this sort of service not being provided, I shall be very pleased to take it up with the airlines concerned, because I am sure it is the policy of all operators that they should extend this type of service to passengers who need it.
– -The question which I address to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs is prompted by news of the resumption of the talks in Geneva relating to the banning of atomic bomb tests. There is a growing idea that this is becoming a routine, tedious matter, without much spirit being imparted to it. Can the Minister tell us what countries are represented at these talks? Can he give us any information about the proposals so far exchanged for the advancement of this cause? Is Australia represented at the talks by any observer or participant?
– I do not know whether the honorable senator refers to the reports of the discussions in Geneva about the possible detection of atomic tests by what the press calls black boxes, instead of by on-site inspections. That is a proposition that has been put forward at Geneva and is being examined there. That is about as far as one can go. A great number of questions have to be discussed. They include whether these things would be effective; whether on-site inspections of them would be permitted in order to ascertain whether they were working properly; whether they could be affected by artificial explosions set off near them, and questions of that kind. All these matters are being discussed at Geneva now. Australia has no special representative at the conference; but, of course, Australia is represented in Geneva, where the conference is being held. To the best of my recollection, eighteen nations are involved in the discussions at Geneva, but I am not certain of that. I will let the honorable senator know, in writing, the exact number.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Has the Department of Health attempted to ascertain the number of Distaval babies that have been born in Australia? If it has, can the Minister tell the Senate the number of unfortunate children involved? Has the Minister seen a statement that special pushbutton artificial limbs for Distaval babies have been developed in Great Britain? Will the Minister direct inquiries to be made about this latest development in Britain and take up with his colleague, the Minister for Social Services, the question of obtaining and supplying free of charge such artificial limbs for fitting to and use by these unfortunate children?
– The Department of Health has done a good deal of work on these very sad happenings in the world to-day. The Commonwealth Government has very little, if any, jurisdiction in this matter; but it has a very lively interest in the health and welfare of all the people. Having said that, I will not commit myself by stating from memory the number of babies that have been afflicted by Distaval. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper, I will give him an appropriate reply to the question he has asked.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. I understand that during the weekend a brief announcement was made of a substantial increase in the grant to the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness. Is the Minister able to amplify that announcement?
– I can tell the honorable senator that recently the Government agreed to increase its grant to the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness from £72,500 per annum to £100,000 per annum. It may be interesting to record that the grant has remained at the figure of £72,500 since 1942. The national fitness movement has displayed praiseworthy interest in maintaining its activities over such a long period.
Quite recently the interest in the national fitness movement has received a real shot in the arm. I pay tribute to Senator Arnold for his contribution to the cause. He represents the Parliament on the council. It is apparent to the Government that the national fitness movement will play a very worth while part in the development of the young people of Australia. The Government has seized an opportunity to say to the council, in effect: “ We applaud your interest. We are prepared to give you additional financial support. We watch with interest your achievements.” One qualification has been made in increasing the grant. The extra £27,500 will go entirely to the State National Fitness Councils. That is designed, in the main, to encourage the State councils to train leaders and to do all the things that bring in their train a wealth of voluntary effort for this good cause.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade seen a press statement attributed to Sir Raphael Cilento in which he said that Australia is being left out of the dramatic trade alliance that is being planned among the anti-Communist nations of Asia, and that Japan is emerging as the leader of a group of Asian antiCommunist countries that are working to consolidate trade among themselves to protect their common interests against the effects of Great Britain’s entry into the European -Economic Community? Is the statement made by Sir
Raphael correct? If it is, what action is the Government taking to protect potential Australian markets in Asia or markets that have been established already in Asia?
– I am sorry that I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator referred. I think it would be an appropriate reply to answer the last part of the question. We rate the gaining of additional markets in SouthEast Asia as a matter of the highest priority in the expansion of our exports. A series of trade missions has gone out and many activities have been directed towards expanding our trade in that area. I think that information answers the rest of the question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the international tensions which exist because of the statement made on 23rd October by the President of the United States of America, and the doubt which appears to be in the minds of the Australian people as to just how Australia is affected as a member of the Anzus pact, will the Minister briefly state to what extent membership of Anzus involves Australia?
– -The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
I should make it clear that the tensions which developed over Cuba had their origin not in any statement by the President of the United States but in the action of the Soviet Union in seeking secretly to transform Cuba into an important strategic base. This action took the world to the edge of disaster. It was this circumstance rather than the Anzus Treaty, which deals with determined the extent to which Australia was determined the extent to which Australia was affected by the crisis. The fact is that within hours of President Kennedy’s announcement on Cuba the Australian Government publicly endorsed this stand. ,
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
My department, in collaboration with the State labour departments, is attempting to devise a satisfactory approach to the estimation of the national cost of industrial accidents. From work done so far it is apparent that even when agreement is reached on a costing method, many difficulties will have to be overcome in collecting data on which to base estimates. But there is, of course, no way of measuring in monetary terms the most important of the consequences of industrial accidents, which are the pain and distress they cause victims and their families.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– I now furnish the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Film up to and including 16 mm. in width -
British preferential tariff -¼d. per lineal foot, plus 5 per cent, primage.
Most favoured nation and general tariff - ¼d. per lineal foot, plus 10 per cent, primage.
Film over 16 mm. in width -
British preferential tariff -1d. per lineal foot, plus5 per cent, primage.
Most favoured nation and general tariff - 1d. per lineal foot, plus 10 per cent. primage.
However, in certain circumstances, the duty on imported unexposed film is refunded on exportation of the exposed or processed film, provided export takes place within a specified period. Each request for this concession is treated on its merits.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– I have received the following answer from the Minister for Primary Industry: -
I have previously advised Senator Hendrickson in this matter. The facts are as follows: - In 1957, the Commonwealth Government, which had been operating, through the Flax Commission, all flax mills in Australia, with the exception of one operated by private enterprise in Western Australia, announced after an exhaustive inquiry its intention of withdrawing from the field. Its decision was based on the view that continuation of financial assistance could not be justified on defence grounds. At the same time, it announced an extension of bounty assistance to the industry for three years and that the Government would give close consideration to any offers from interested parties for the purchase of any mill as a going concern. Subsequently, at the end of the three-year period, the Tariff Board recommended against further bounty assistance to the flax industry and the payment of bounty ceased for flax produced after 31st October, 1960. In the light of these facts, the answers to the specific questions are -
The matter of the flax growers’ association taking over the Myrtleford mill from the present owners is one for negotiation between the parties concerned and quite outside the sphere of Commonwealth responsibility.
Is a good fertilizer being manufactured from coal on a commercial basis in the United Slates of America and Japan?
As Australia is largely dependent upon the use of fertilizers in her primary industries, and as there are large deposits of coal in many parts of the Commonwealth, could the Minister inform the Senate if any fertilizers are being produced from coal in Australia? If not, is this method of producing fertilizers being investigated?
– The answers are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
– I bring up the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Fifty-ninth Report - Index to first to fiftyeighth reports of the committee.
Sixtieth report - Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer for year 1961-62. and move -
That the reports be printed.
Honorable senators will recall that an index of the first 41 reports of your committee was presented as our forty-fifth report on 3rd December, 1959. The fifty-ninth report has revised that index and it now covers the 58 reports issued by the first four committees in the period of nine years up to 25th October, 1961. The sixtieth report presents the results of your committee’s investigations into the financial administration of departments and their use of the Advance to the Treasurer in the financial year ended 30th June, 1962.
Our inquiry has been a very lengthy one and our comments on the votes which were the subject of public hearings are appended to each separate item reported on in chapter 3. We list also the large number of additional items which were considered and for which written explanations were obtained from departments. Your committee has found that the standard of departmental performances in 1961-62 was generally satisfactory. The exceptions have been commented on, where appropriate, in chapter 3 of the report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Appropriation Bill 1962-63. Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1962-63.
Stevedoring Industry Bill 1962. Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1962. States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1962. Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Bill 1962. Loan (Housing) Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Senator SPOONER (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development. - by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that the Honorable Sir Garfield Barwick, Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General, is away from Australia on a short visit to Pakistan, India and Laos. During his absence the Prime Minister is acting as Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works is acting as Attorney-General.
.- I move -
That Regulations Nos. 1 and 2 of the amendments of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1962, No. 82, and made under the Customs Act 1901- 1960, be disallowed.
I propose the motion as chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances. The eighteenth report of the committee deals with these regulations. All honorable senators have a copy of that report, which sets out clearly the purpose of the regulations and also the committee’s objections.
The effect of the regulations in Statutory Rules 1962, No. 82, is to transfer works or articles that are blasphemous, indecent or obscene from the list of goods the importation of which is absolutely prohibited by law to the list of goods the importation of which is prohibited unless the permission in writing of the Minister has been granted. That provision gives the Minister the right to say whether goods shall be admitted. That is an absolute discretion. The committee’s view is a simple and clear one. It feels that in a matter of this kind a Minister should not have an absolute discretion, unfettered in any way. I am sure that I voice the sentiments of all members of the committee when I say that these remarks are not directed personally at the present Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty). I think it can be said that the Minister has shown a great deal of common sense in dealing with his department and in particular with works the character of which brings them under prohibition. However, whereas the present Minister may administer the regulations in a very desirable manner, another Minister may not have the same down-to-earth and commonsense approach. This is a matter involving weaknesses in human nature. Whilst one Minister may act well in handling these matters, another Minister may not act in the best interests of the country and the Parliament.
The committee’s report states that there is no limitation of any kind on the exercise of the Minister’ discretion as to the quantity of books imported, the type of person or body in favour of whom the discretion is to be exercised or the purposes for which that is to be done. The committee has frequently stated that it is not concerned in any way with the policy of the regulations that come before it, but it is concerned, among other things, to see that the rights and liberties of citizens are stipulated by law and not by administrative decisions. That, I think, goes to the kernel of this problem so far as the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is concerned. In this particular case the committee has set out its objections to the discretion. Paragraph 7 of the committee’s report reads -
The Minister’s discretion is -
Unrestricted in quantity;
Not limited to any particular purpose;
Not controlled by any conditions laid down in the regulations, such as a recommendation to the Literature Censorship Board; and
In our form of government there is, of course, the established principle of ministerial responsibility, with the implied discretionary powers arising from that principle. It may be that the whole question of discretion, proper or otherwise, is one of degree, dependent upon administrative practicability or otherwise, but if it is possible to stipulate by regulation conditions governing the exercise of that discretion, it appears to the committee that this should be done. In the opinion of the committee this is an occasion where limitation of the absolute discretionary power is both desirable and practicable.
I do not intend to debate this matter at any length because the report is quite clear. The sentiments I have expressed convey in general what the committee is thinking. The committee states in paragraph 8 of its report that the written law and not an uncontrolled ministerial discretion should regulate the importation of the works to which I have referred. The committee has given this matter due consideration and, with one exception, the members of the committee feel that the regulations should be disallowed. The purpose of the motion is not to prevent what is taking place at the present time. The committee feels that the regulations should be disallowed and should be re-drafted in proper lawful fashion along the lines I have suggested because the present discretion residing in the Minister is too unrestricted for the democratic functioning of this Parliament.
– As the one member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee who objected to the proposed move to disallow these regulations, I feel it is my duty to make a statement to the Senate giving the reasons that actuated my decision. Senator Wood’s major point was that government should be by law, as far as possible, and not by regulation. He said that that was one of the objectives and purposes of the committee.
At present the importation of books that are deemed to be blasphemous, indecent or obscene is totally prohibited, by decisions of the Minister. Naturally the Minister seeks advice, but substantially the decisions are decisions of the Minister. The object of this amendment is to have books of that kind included in the second schedule to the regulations, under which the Minister is given some discretion in the matter of admission or non-admission. It is important to remember that the purpose of the amendment is to widen, not to restrict, the operations of the law with regard to censorship. The amendment would permit the importation of blasphemous, indecent or obscene matter by persons in respect of whom the ministerial discretion was exercised, but the restriction could continue to apply to all other persons. This is not a new principle in the administration of our censorship laws. We already have it in the classification of films. Certain films are classified as being fit for general exhibition, and others as being fit only for exhibition to adults. That is a differentiation between classes of persons. The widening effect of this amendment would be in conformity with that principle.
I should like to direct the attention of the Senate to some items in the Second Schedule. It contains 32 items. Item 20 is -
Literature in which -
the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State or of any civilized country; is advocated.
That item is in the Schedule into which the amendment would place the item we are discussing. Item 21 is -
Literature wherein a seditious intention . . . is expressed or a seditious enterprise … is advocated.
Item 22 is -
Literature which, by words or pictures or partly by words and partly by pictures, in the opinion of the Minister -
unduly emphasizes matters of sex, horror, violence or crime; or
is likely to encourage depravity.
Those items are already within the ambit of the Minister’s discretion. I think that to object to the addition of books under the heading that has been described is to adopt a rather unreal attitude.
The Regulation and Ordinances Committee, in its report, raises certain objections. It states, first, that the Minister’s discretion is unrestricted in quantity, and, secondly, that it is not limited to any particular purpose. I fail to see how the Minister could exercise a proper discretion if limitations of quantity or purpose were imposed. It would be impracticable to attempt to define the purposes or the quantities applicable to any given case. We would be overthrowing the decisions of the Minister by imposing a screen of definitions. It would not be practicable either to restrict quantities to some maximum, or to define purposes except in such a general way as to be meaningless and to lead to many anomalies.
The committee states also that the Minister’s discretion is not controlled by any conditions laid down in the regulations, such as a recommendation of the literary censorship board. To control the Minister’s discretion in that way would have the effect of narrowing the range of authorities from which the Minister could seek advice. It might not be a case of submitting matter to literary censorship, but rather to scientific, medical or university authorities for advice and opinion. If we were to specify some particular body on which should rest the responsibility for making a decision, we would be transferring power from the Minister to a body which was not responsible to the Parliament. If the object of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is to restrict the powers of bureaucracy, surely the committee’s action in this matter is difficult to understand. This Senate has a ready means of approach to the Minister, but we would find it difficult to deal with a decision by a body acting under delegated authority.
Senator Wood raised the possibility of some future Minister not being, as he described it, so good. I understand that it is one of the decencies of debate not to refer to present company, and I am sure that it was on that basis that Senator Wood made his remarks. Let us consider the possibility of a Minister being inept, decadent, depraved or, as Senator Wood put it, not so good.I think he said that Ministers come and go. In this case, I think the operative word would be “ go “. I am sure that such a Minister would be, to the Opposition, a gift from the gods. Of course, we must acknowledge that this is a possibility, because it is impossible to guard against accidents or misjudgments of that sort. It is something that is inherent in the nature of parliamentary government. At times, we might see a Minister who is not so good, but the removal of such a person depends upon the quality of the parliament, and the quality of the parliament depends, in turn, upon the quality of the people. The people, by and large, get the government they deserve. The next matter raised by the committee concerns the fact that there is no appeal against the Minister’s decision. How can a right of appeal arise in such a case? While arguments supporting a right of appeal against restrictive ministerial acts could be significant, because ministerial restriction by itself implies a possible curtailment of the rights of persons, under the proposed amendment there is no curtailment of an existing right but rather an actual widening of rights. So, the question of appeal cannot arise on the ground of restriction. Who, then, would appeal, and on what grounds would he appeal? If there should be some other ground for appeal, how would such an appeal be conducted? This presupposes the setting up of some kind of tribunal which would hear the appeal against the Minister’s decision to admit a book. The tribunal would, for instance, have to hear an appeal by some group of people who objected to the book being made available, say, to a university for study. The very existence of this tribunal, with authority to decide what universities should or should not teach, is repugnant to our idea of the way in which universities should function.
– Should anybody have that right, in your opinion?
– To appeal? I am not questioning the right to do so. I am questioning the effect of setting up a tribunal which would sit in judgment on the things which a university should or should not teach, and decide how it should teach those things.
I should like to deal with the functions of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, as set out in its charter. I see that there is no reason for disallowance of a regulation if it is in accordance with the) relevant statute - there is no question of that; or if it does not trespass unduly on personal rights and privileges - I have dealt with that matter in regard to the right of appeal; or if it does not unduly make the rights and liberties of citizens dependent on administrative rather than judicial decisions. The word that we have to consider in that context is “ unduly “. In my opinion, these regulations do not unduly make the rights and liberties of citizens dependent on administrative decisions, having regard to the fact that the existing statute provides for a complete ban. The regulations are concerned with administrative detail and do not amount to substantive legislation which could be a matter for parliamentary enactment. I am strongly of the opinion that this suggested amendment does not in any way offend against that particular section of the charter of the committee. For the reasons I have given, I have opposed the committee’s action in moving for the disallowance of the regulations. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later time.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Patents Act. It is a bill dealing with a very technical branch of the law and, therefore, what it seeks to accomplish is set out in technical language which cannot readily be completely understood without a knowledge of the complex body of patent law which has been developed by the courts. Nevertheless, it is a practical bill in the sense that it vitally affects the interests of inventors and manufacturers. I propose to explain shortly, and as simply as I can, the purpose of the major provision of the bill.
For the most part, the bill represents the final stage of an endeavour by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) to resolve the long-standing problem of the time at which an invention which is the subject of an application for letters patent should be disclosed to the public. In order to demonstrate the significance of the change sought to be made by the bill in this respect, it is necessary to describe briefly the present procedure to obtain protection for an invention under the Patents Act. The inventor, using that term compendiously to describe all who may apply for protection for an invention, is required to lodge in the Patent Office a document describing his invention. This description may be in very broad terms, in which case the document is known as a provisional specification, or it may be a full and complete description, in which case it is known as a complete specification.
If the inventor lodges a provisional specification he must within twelve months thereafter lodge a complete specification. In addition to describing his invention in detail in the complete specification, the inventor is also required to identify with some particularity that which he claims to be new and for which he seeks protection during the life of the patent. When these documents are lodged they are subjected to an examination by expert examiners in the Patent Office to ascertain whether the inventor has complied with the statutory requirements for the grant of letters patent. The Patents Act permits the inventor to amend his specification to answer any objections which may be raised as a result of this examination. As soon as he has lodged his application in the Patent Office, the inventor is able to exploit his invention without fear that the knowledge which the public may thus gain of his invention will prejudice the validity of his patent.
There are some reasons why it is desirable that the documents lodged by the applicant should remain confidential as between himself and the Patent Office until the Commissioner of Patents is prepared to accept the complete specification as complying with the statutory requirements; at that stage it is right that the public should be given access to the documents. This is described in the act as making the documents “ open to public inspection “. It is not until the documents are made open to public inspection that manufacturers and other members of the public may become aware of the result of the inventor’s work, and know what is likely to be protected by patent rights. In addition, certain legal consequences flow from the fact that the documents become open to public inspection. When letterspatent are finally granted the patentee is entitled to sue for any infringement of his invention which has been committed after the date on which the specification became open to public inspection. Thus, early publication has some advantages for the inventor in those cases where the invention may have only a short commercial life. He is able to enjoy the full benefit of his patent from an early date. On the other hand, if the complete specification is made open to public inspection before acceptance, the inventor is necessarily limited in the amendments he may make to his specification.
The previous knowledge in the field of the invention which is brought to the inventor’s notice by the search through previous specifications that is made by the Patent Office may show the inventor that he needs to recast his specification so that it best expresses the contribution to knowledge which his invention makes. But where the complete specification, with its statement of the area of monopoly that he desires to claim, is already available to the public, it is obvious that the public would be put at a disadvantage if he could later amend his specification to enlarge the area of the monopoly sought.
Ideally, the period which would elapse between lodgment of a complete specification and the time at which the public were given access to it after acceptance would only be a matter of a few months. Staff shortages in the Patent Office, coupled with the great numbers of applications for letters patent in recent years, have caused a period of many months to elapse between the date of lodgment of the complete specification and its ultimate acceptance by the Commissioner of Patents. Various attempts have been made, therefore, to arrive at a satisfactory time in which the complete specification should become open to public inspection. In 1946 it wa9 provided that a complete specification was to be made available to the public upon lodgment - see section 38a of the Patents Act 1946. Subsequently, when the patent law was completely revised by the 1952 act the time for making these documents open to public inspection was set at six months after lodgment. A subsequent amendment to the Patents Act in 1960 provided that the complete specification should become open to public inspection two years after lodgment unless it had been accepted before that time. As was indicated t the time when that bill was before the Senate, this was intended only as an interim measure pending a final solution to the problem.
The Attorney-General has since considered representations on the subject. What is attempted in this bill is a compromise between the conflicting interests of inventors and of manufacturers. The solution proposed is contained in clause 9 of the bill. An inventor may ask for his complete specification to be open to public inspection, although not accepted by the Commissioner of Patents, at any time after three months from the date on which it was lodged. Even though an inventor has not asked to have his documents opened to public inspection the commissioner will be bound by the solution proposed by the bill to open the documents to public inspection eighteen months after the complete specification has been lodged, if he has not already accepted the application at that time. The compromise solution thus enables an inventor who wishes to take advantage of early publication to have his specification opened to public inspection after three months. On the other hand it means that a manufacturer who wishes to engage in a new process of production or to set up a new factory will know not later than eighteen months after the date on which the complete specification was lodged what patent rights are likely to be involved.
The solution of the problem as to the time at which an application should be open to public inspection is the crux of the bill. There are, however, three other important steps taken by the bill. In the first place, the bill proposes to change the procedure relating to amendments proposed by the inventor in answer to objections by the examiner in the Patent Office. The change will ensure that the inventor is not prejudiced if, in proposing an amendment that is not acceptable to the Patent Office, he happens to disclose new material that could properly form the basis of a further invention. As the act stands, the amendment would, whether allowed or not, become open to public inspection if the complete specification were open to public inspection. Under the arrangement proposed by clause 5 of the bill, only those amendments which are allowed by the Patent Office will become open to public inspection.
In the second place, there is an extension of the power to lodge a further application. Under the patent law an inventor may only claim, in any one application, a monopoly for one invention, although he may claim that the monopoly should cover various manifestations of his invention. If an inventor, when he lodges his complete specification, is unaware of the significance of what he has discovered, he may disclose in his complete specification several inventions. Under section 51 of the present act, he may file a further application in respect of any of those inventions up to the time when the original application becomes open to public inspection. This bill will remake section 51 and will allow the applicant to file a further application at any time before acceptance, or the expiration of twelve months from the time when the original application becomes open to public inspection, whichever is the earlier.
In the third place the bill seeks to remove the possibility of letters patent being held to be invalid, perhaps many years after they were granted, because of changes which the inventor made to his documents when they were before the Patent Office. Very briefly what is proposed is that if it turns out that the invention for which letters patent are finally granted is different from the invention originally described in the documents lodged in the Patent Office the patent will not be thereby invalidated. However, the priority date of the invention, that is the date at which the novelty of the invention is to be adjudged, will be treated as the date on which the different invention was disclosed to the Patent Office. It is unlikely that this circumstance will arise very often because of the scrutiny given to amendments by the skilled examiners in the Patent Office, but it is desirable that the patentee who has relied on work done by these examiners should be protected against the consequences of any inadvertent change in his invention. As a protection to persons who have relied on the specification as it became open to public inspection, and who may later find themselves to be infringing an invention because of changes made in the document in the Patent Office, clause 26 of the bill inserts a new section 159b which will provide that the patentee is not entitled to damages for any infringement which occurred before the date on which the amendment was made to the specification.
In order to give a fuller explanation of the more technical aspects of this matter I am circulating to honorable senators an explanatory memorandum which was prepared by the Attorney-General. This memorandum sets out in some detail the effect of the various provisions in the bill, and I hope that it will be of assistance to honorable senators in appreciating the effect of the bill.
I thank the Senate for its indulgence and commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) explained in his Budget speech, the Government has budgeted for an overall deficiency of £118,300,000 in this financial year. The Treasurer mentioned then that legislation to authorize such borrowings as may be necessary to meet the deficiency would later be submitted to Parliament. The purpose of this bill is to obtain loan authority for this purpose and to provide authority to expend the proceeds of the borrowing.
It is proposed that the proceeds of the borrowing which will be made from the Reserve Bank be applied to finance expenditure on Defence Services up to the amount of £98,283,000 and to finance the redemption of maturing securities up to the extent of £20,045,000. The maturing securities, redemptions of which it is proposed to finance from the proceeds of the borrowing, are Commonwealth securities which were issued for war purposes. The borrowing, therefore, will be wholly for defence purposes of the Commonwealth.
Total expenditure on Defence Services in 1962-63 is estimated at £210,000,000. Details of this estimated expenditure are set out in part 1 of the second schedule to the Appropriation Bill 1962-63. Of the total estimated expenditure of £210,000,000 an amount estimated at £98,283,000 is to be charged to Loan Fund where it will be financed from the funds raised under the authority of this bill. Provision for charging part of defence expenditure to Loan Fund was made in 1958-59, 1959-60 and in 1961-62 when total receipts were estimated to fall short of total expenditure.
As the Treasurer indicated in his Budget speech, so far as redemptions of debt exceed the amount available to meet them in the National Debt Sinking Fund, it is proposed that they be met from the resources of the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve which are now invested. It will therefore be necessary to realize some of these investments and the proposed borrowing of £20,045,000 to finance redemption of Commonwealth securities issued for war purposes will provide cash to enable this realization of investments to be made.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the transfer to the States of certain moneys standing in a Commonwealth trust fund, to be used for the benefit of the wheat industry. The bill will revive old memories in the minds of wheat farmers of a previous generation and will also be a reminder to the generation of to-day of the problems that were encountered many years ago and the efforts that were necessary to overcome them.
Wheat-growing was a depressed industry in the 1930’s, so much so that its troubles were matters of major concern to all Australian governments. At a Premiers’ conference in August, 1938, a detailed plan - the Wheat Industry Assistance Plan - was developed in an attempt to counter the difficulties being experienced by wheat-growers at the time because of depressed prices. Subsequently, legislative backing to the plan was introduced by the Commonwealth and State governments and passed in their respective parliaments.
A highly important feature of the plan was the provision of financial assistance to wheat-growers on uneconomic holdings in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, to enable them to move into other forms of production, and also the provision of finance for the reconstruction of holdings. This was called the Marginal Wheat Areas Scheme, and its administration was undertaken by the State governments concerned, with moneys provided by the Commonwealth out of the proceeds of a flour tax.
While the Wheat Industry Assistance Plan benefited many needy wheat-growers in years gone by, the need for the plan has long since passed. The portion of the plan which dealt with the marginal wheat areas proved successful, and all that remains to be done is to dispose of the unspent balance of approximately £266,000 of the moneys originally provided for the operation of the scheme. That is the object of this bill.
The States were partners with the Commonwealth in the Wheat Industry Assistance Plan, and it is fitting, therefore, that the States should be consulted about the utilization of funds not needed for the original purpose. Consultation with the States has taken place at meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council and the recommendations of the council have been endorsed by all the Australian governments.
Two important decisions had to be taken. First, it was a question of the best use to which the money could be put. The deciding factor here was that the money came originally from funds intended to benefit wheat-growers. It was considered, therefore, that the wheat-growers had a nora! claim to the money. However, it was not practicable to transfer the money to the war-time wheat pools for distribution, since they have been wound up long ago. The alternative chosen was that the State Departments of Agriculture should get the money and utilize it for the benefit of the wheat industry.
The second issue to be decided was the amount to be paid to each of the States concerned. Having regard to the history of the fund, it was considered that the last wheat pool from which flour tax had been deducted to provide marginal areas funds offered a fair basis of distribution. It was agreed, therefore, that the States should share the money according to the share of wheat from their growers into No. 9 (1945-46) Pool. It k proposed that the1 sum available, £266,000, be distributed as shown in the schedule to the bill. There are, of course, other ways in which the money could be shared, but this is the course recommended by the Australian Agricultural Council, and it appeals to the Government as a reasonable one.
The bill provides that the money is to be spent by the States according to plans approved by the Commonwealth Minister concerned. The Government’s intention is that it is to be used to ensure additional benefits to the wheat industry through extra research and extension work that could not be undertaken otherwise. It may not be used in payment for work already in hand, or to relieve the States of any normal expenses, but it will allow work to be undertaken as an addition to the valuable work in these fields the States are currently carrying out. Each State Department of Agriculture has projects that could be carried out if more money were available for the purpose and the marginal areas residue will allow the present State programmes to be expanded. Each State will need to submit a plan for using its share of the amount and the plans put forward will naturally vary according to the requirements of the different States. However, they will all need to have the common factor of being something additional and of benefit to the wheat industry.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Australian War Memorial began in a small way as the Australian War Museum, set up after the First World War. Since then, it has grown and developed in scope and dignity and justifies the claim that it is a splendid national memorial which has few, if any, equals in the world. The statutory authority for this development was first given by the provisions of the Australian War Memorial Act 1925. Under that act, the memorial has been managed by the Board of Management, and the whole of Australia owes a debt of gratitude to those men who, as members of the board, have over the years given themselves in a completely honorary service to the task of developing the memorial to its present position.
The Government has reached the conclusion that the time has arrived when the memorial should be vested in a board of trustees, to be held in trust on behalf of the Commonwealth and the people of Australia. It would thus be placed in the same position as the Imperial War Museum in Great Britain and similar memorials and institutions throughout the world.
The original proposals for the reestablishment of the memorial along the lines set out in the bill came from the present Board of Management. Further, in the preparation of the bill, the Government acknowledges gratefully the assistance and advice of the chairman of the board, LieutenantGeneral the Honorable Sir Edmund Herring. This follows previous practice. In the preparation of the original act of 1925, the then government enjoyed the advice and assistance of the Australian War Memorial Committee of those days, and the subsequent amendments to that act were effected with the advice of the Board of Management of the memorial.
The present act deals with the management of the memorial and with the administration of the Australian War Memorial Fund. This fund is a trust fund which, although it was formally constituted in its present form under the present act in 1925, had its origins in the Trust Fund Australian War Records Publications Account, which was set up in the years immediately following the First World War. That account was made up of moneys received from Australia’s share in the War Office Cinematograph Committee’s profits; funds to the credit of the Australian Imperial Force Publications Section in London; sales of publications and official pictures, and the exploitation of films and of the Australian War Museum by the Australian War Museum Committee; and voluntary donations from members of the public and organizations.
As far back as 1924, the Australian War Memorial Committee had suggested that a bill be prepared to cover the vesting of the collection of war relics, as well- as the trust fund, in a board of trustees. The building for the memorial had not then been constructed and the war relics had not been transferred to Canberra, which was to be their eventual home. The government of the day did not accept the suggestion. At a meeting of the committee later in the year, the following resolution was passed: -
After full discussion it was decided to recommend to the Minister that the time is not yet ripe for the collections to be completely vested in a Board of Trustees; but that, subject to Ministerial control, the Board (to be constituted) should be given executive authority in regard to the management of the Memorial, and full control of the Trust Fund.
The present act, passed in the following year, accordingly gave the board two kinds of function, one to be exercised subject to ministerial direction and the other independent of ministerial control. The former - that is, controlled by the Minister - relates to the administration of the memorial and the latter, the independent function, relates to the control of the fund. The board was given executive powers in relation to the memorial, but its powers of management were made expressly subject to directions of the Minister. Section 12 of the act vested the fund in the board, but the board’s powers in relation to the use of moneys in the fund were not subject to ministerial direction.
The main stages in the development of the memorial are now completed. Further developments will occur, but the basic groundwork has been firmly laid. The Government feels that there is no longer any valid reason for the retention of ministerial oversight of the detailed administration of the memorial. The proposed Board of Trustees will be constituted on the same lines as the present Board of Management -the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the Air Staff and nine other members, appointed by the Governor-General. The functions and powers of the Board of Trustees will, in effect, confer on it the authority to manage tthe memorial on behalf of the Commonwealth without subjugation to ministerial authority as can be seen from a perusal of clauses 13 and 14. The board will be a body corporate. Members of the board, apart from the three ex-officio members, will hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. The board will be required to furnish to the Minister such reports as he requires and its annual report will be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament. By this means the board will account for its stewardship.
The authority of the Board of Trustees to administer the Australian War Memorial Fund is set out in Part III. of the bill. The fund as it is at present constituted is continued in existence and is invested in the Board of Trustees. The purposes for which moneys in the fund may be applied are at present limited by section 13 of the act to the acquisition of relics, records, &c, for inclusion in the memorial. These purposes are extended by clause 18, however, to allow the board to apply the moneys more freely, for the purposes of the memorial. This is in accord with the purposes for which the fund was originally formed.
I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the fund does not include any moneys from Consolidated Revenue. The moneys in it originally were received from the sources which I indicated earlier. Since 1925, the fund, under the control of the board of management of the memorial, has grown considerably, with proceeds from the sale of the Australian official histories of the two world wars and other publications by the board. The moneys to the credit of the fund, which stood at £19,500 in 1925, have grown to over £130,000, whilst the memorial has, in the) meantime, been greatly enriched by exhibits and relics purchased by the board with fund moneys.
The Commonwealth will, of course, continue to bear its general financial responsibility for the memorial and its particular responsibility for the cost of the provision and maintenance of the buildings and the immediate surrounds and also the staffing costs. The board will be required to keep proper accounts and records of its transactions in relation to the fund and these accounts and records will be audited by the Auditor-General. The bill also provides that the board will not be subject to taxation in carrying out its functions, particularly those functions, such as the publication of books and other material, through which the income is earned for the purposes of the fund.
I would like to refer at this stage to another aspect of the bill. Clause 16 empowers the board to delegate powers to individual persons and committees. Such a delegation will be in writing under the seal of the board. This provision will enable tha board to follow the procedure, found necessary in the past by the board of management, of carrying on its detailed work through committees. In particular, the detailed administration of the financial provision relative to receipts to and payments from the fund necessitates the board’s appointing a finance committee to carry out this work on its behalf. The provision for delegations under the present act, section 9, is far too unwieldy and requires the delegation to be in writing under the hand of each member of the board. It has been found that the provisions of section 9 have not been applied in their entirety when, in some instances, the board has decided to delegate authority to a committee. For this reason, provision is made in clause 28 of the bill for the validation of all purported delegations which have not complied strictly with section 9. It has, of course, been accepted procedure that committees would report to the board on their actions, so the board has still retained an oversight of the acts done by its committees.
The bill provides a regulation-making power and provides, in particular, a power to make regulations governing the conduct of persons on the land or in buildings forming part of the memorial. It is intended that this will enable the making of regulations to control minor acts of misconduct within the precincts of the memorial prejudicial to the interests of the memorial. These are matters which, in similar institutions in other places, are dealt with under by-laws made by the trustees. It is not intended that any regulations of this nature be made immediately, and I sincerely hope that the need will never arise.
With the enactment of this statute, the present board of management will no longer exist. I feel that this should not be allowed to pass without acknowledgment of our appreciation for the sterling contribution made by the men who have served and currently serve on that board. Distinguished Australians have been associated with the board since the inception of the memorial. We as Australians should be proud of their contribution and appreciative of their selflessness. On behalf of the Government, I acknowledge with gratitude the work of the retiring members - LieutenantGeneral the Honorable Sir Edmund Herring, who is chairman of the board; Lieutenant-General Sir Reginald Pollard, Air Marshal Sir Valston Hancock, Vice-Admiral W. H. Harrington, Senator S. K. Amour, Rear-Admiral Sir Leighton Bracegirdle, Sir Gilbert Dyett, Mr. W. A. McLaren, Dr. C. E. W. Bean, Mr. E. C. Riley, Air ViceMarshal W. D. Bostock and Mr. G. M. Long. The bill does not provide for the automatic appointment to the board of trustees of the retiring members of the existing board of management. I sincerely hope, however, that all retiring appointed members will be available for appointment to the board of trustees.
I am confident that through this legislation the Australian War Memorial will develop further and will assume greater significance in the eyes of all Australians as the Commonwealth memorial to those Australians who have died on or as a result of active service. It will take its place as part of the Australian heritage. For these reasons I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1427), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The measure before the Senate is to implement Government action on the report of the Tariff Board on copper and brass strip. The report was tabled in the Senate on 9th October. Following the recommendation of the Tariff Board, the bill provides that bounty at the rate of £45 a ton will be paid to producers of copper strip or brass strip not exceeding 15 inches in width and not exceeding twelvethousandths of an inch in thickness produced in Australia and sold for use in Australia. The bounty is limited to two years from 1st October, 1962, and an annual limitation of £190,000 is specified. As has already been done in other cases, there is to be a profit limitation of 10 per cent, per annum on companies which have the advantage of this bounty.
This bill affects three principal companies in Australia engaged in the production of copper and brass strip in sheets. These strips are used mainly in the production of heating, ventilation and cooling systems, internal combustion engine radiators, electrical equipment, builders and plumbers’ hardware, measuring instruments, domestic appliances, cutlery and engine parts. All of these commodities are very important to the economy of this country.
The three main companies producing the strip are Austral Bronze Company Proprietary Limited, which is carrying on its activities at Derwent Park, Tasmania, and at Yennora and Alexandria, in New South Wales; Crane Copper and Aluminium Proprietary Limited, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of G. E. Crane and Sons Limited, has been in production for 35 years, and has a plant at Concord, New South Wales; and Texas Instruments Australia Limited, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Texas Instruments Incorporated, Texas, United States of America, and has a plant at Finsbury, South Australia. The Finsbury plant, which is modern and designed to produce strip to close tolerances, was established in the latter half of 1960. Therefore, this bounty will affect industries in three States, including not only those which are engaged in a secondary process in the use of copper but also, indirectly, the copper industry itself which is established in Queensland and Tasmania. Copper can be obtained in small quantities from other areas where it is not yet commercially exploited.
The Minister has stated that the three companies to which I have referred represent an investment of £5,000,000 in capital and employ about 800 persons. The companies have submitted confidential information to the Tariff Board, which substantiates the figures that are given. Austral Bronze Company Proprietary Limited has been producing in Australia since the middle 1930’s. Its employment figures are as follows: -
This industry is not only using Australian technicians and workmen but also developing and expanding the use of a basic Australian metal. In the Opposition’s view, this should be encouraged, and for that reason we on this side support the legislation and believe that it will serve a very good purpose.
It is of great interest to note that after the lifting of import controls in1960 the position of our local manufacturers deteriorated, as can be seen by the import clearances of copper and brass strip. Imports amounted to 1,261 tons in 1958-59, 2,053 tons in 1959-60, and 2,149 tons in 1960-61. Relating these figures to the production of the three companies I have mentioned, it can be seen that the industry faces a threat of gradual elimination unless adequate import duties are imposed and bounties given.
– Have you any explanation of the imports?
– There was very strong evidence, but not substantiated by any witness on behalf of the British pro ducers and importers of British products, that British companies were subsidizing their exports to this country. That type of competition in an industry such as ours, which has not a great amount of capital involved and has not been very profitable over the years, could put Australian manufacturers out of business in a short period. If it is true that other governments have subsidized the export of these materials to Australia, to the detriment of the Australian industry, not only is this bounty justified but also some further investigation should be made as to the extent of this practice.
– If that could be proved, the position could be met by anti-dumping duties.
– I consider that the deputy chairman of the Tariff Board had that in mind when, under section 17A, he recommended the imposition of an immediate protective screen for our local industries. The Tariff Board, in a further report, has recommended a bounty in addition. Therefore, it would appear that the confidential evidence in the hands of the Tariff Board and the deputy chairman fully justified the report which is the basis of the legislation.
It is interesting to note that the main argument put forward was that Australian manufacturers must pay higher prices than British manufacturers pay for copper and zinc, and that British manufacturers have advantages in lower power and wage costs. It is also interesting to note that the biggest element in the ultimate cost of producing both brass and copper strip is the basic raw materials. It was found that in the industry, as a result of war-time practice, over-award payments were made to employees, particularly those of Austral Bronze Company Proprietary Limited. I have had the advantage of looking through the industry in Tasmania and seeing the arduous conditions that exist, with men working in close proximity to metals under very great heat. The work is very heavy, and the practice of holding men in the industry by giving them an incentive to remain is desirable. After all, it must be very difficult for people to gauge the degree of discomfort that will be experienced in an industry and to become acclimatized to working under particular conditions. In these days when men with skill and special abilities can find alternative employment of a less arduous nature I believe that the payment of overhead award wages in this industry is justified. Any steps taken by the Tariff Board to protect this industry in the light of present conditions also are justified.
One complaint made is that users of locally produced copper and brass strip incur greater processing costs than do their overseas competitors because Australian strip often is off specification or poorly packed. The Australian industry should be made aware of this and other complaints so that it may improve the production and presentation of its products and thereby gain the confidence of the Parliament and the people. The view is widely held that Australia cannot produce goods of the same high standard as are produced overseas, but I for one do not subscribe to that view. Australia can produce goods of a quality equal to anything produced in any other country. If we get rid of the attitude that near enough is good enough we can produce goods of a very high standard.
Recently I had the good fortune to inspect the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. Like the Prime Minister, I, too, felt a glow of pride in the standard of workmanship exhibited there. The efficiency of that organization is as high as one would find anywhere in the world and I am sure that the factory’s reputation amongst its customers is not bettered in any country. Our primary and secondary industries should emulate the example of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. They must be made aware of the importance of making the highest standard their aim. The days of laxity and latitude are over. Competition is so fierce these days that we as a nation cannot afford to hold the view that near enough is good enough.
I trust that industries receiving protection on the advice of the Special Advisory Authority and the Tariff Board will bear in mind that they must put their best legs forward. I have previously pointed out in this chamber that Australia will find it increasingly difficult to overcome the chronic imbalance of overseas payments. Many companies operating in this country, including one that has been referred to - an
American subsidiary - will be taking higher and higher dividends out of this country because of Australia’s expansion. Perhaps you can call that the wisdom of their investments but that factor will make it increasingly difficult for Australia to keep its balance of payments on a stable level. It is absolutely imperative for Australia to produce goods, of a primary and secondary nature, that can be exported to new markets. Unless we can compete in quality, price and service - Queenslanders will remember the slogan “ Q.P.S.” - we will not be able to meet the challenge that inevitably will face us, as a developing nation and, of even greater importance, we will not be able to meet the challenge that will be presented by Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. When Britain enters the Common Market we will face restrictions in our traditional areas of trade and we will be forced to seek new markets for our goods. On that score I feel that the protection afforded to this industry is fully justified.
It has been stated that in 1959-60 the industry used only 68 per cent, of its installed capacity and that in 1960-61 it used even less. That seems to me to be a retrograde tendency and I hope that the assistance provided under this bill will enable the industry not only to use its capacity to the fullest extent but also to expand. Reference has been made to the fact that Texas Instruments Australia Limited - a South Australian firm - has installed more modern equipment than its Australian competitors and is able to produce articles of greater precision. That state of affairs should be an incentive to the other companies.
I am very pleased to note that a temporary protection is being afforded to the industry while one company reorganizes its internal finances in order to install more modern equipment, enabling it to produce 25,000 tons of copper and brass strip annually, which is equal to the present maximum output of plant installed in Australia. I understand that total consumption of strip in Australia at present is in the vicinity of 14,000 tons a year and that a considerable amount is exported. One company claimed it had about 40 per cent, of the New Zealand copper sheet market in competition with
Great Britain, and that it had exported considerable quantities of strip to Hong Kong. That is a very desirable trend. I hope that as we are assisting the industry for a period of two years, as specified in this legislation, the industry will plough back a part of the 10 per cent, profit it is allowed to make, and will develop techniques to enable it to obtain markets not only in New Zealand but in Hong Kong as well.
The Tariff Board’s report covers a wide field and deals with the uses of these commodities, and the background of the industry. The board recommended a British preferential tariff rate of 121 per cent, ad valorem on copper strip not exceeding the specified dimensions, a British preferential tariff rate of 15 per cent, on brass strip of the same dimensions, and a bounty of £45 per ton on copper strip and brass strip - the total payment not to exceed £190,000 - with the proviso that, after taking bounty payments into account, profits should not exceed 10 per cent.
Finally, the Tariff Board stated -
During the course of its inquiry the board received confidential evidence which implied that copper and brass strip had been exported from Britain to Australia at prices below current domestic value in the country of origin. The data submitted were insufficient to substantiate the claim but the board considers that the matter warrants investigation by the Department of Customs and Excise. No representative of British manufacturing interests gave evidence before the board.
I believe that the Tariff Board has served a good purpose by making that observation. We must see that our industries are not cramped by trade practices. That is as far as 1 am prepared to go, because there is no substantiation of that charge. You can imagine how our industries would suffer if outside interests were able to subsidize the export of certain commodities for a limited period, until our industries were put out of business. Those outside industries would then have the field to themselves. It is an old practice, but one which should not be tolerated in this country.
The Opposition does not oppose the measure. We feel that a good service is being done to the Australian industry concerned. Australia has the raw materials necessary for the production of copper and brass strip, and I hope that in time the quality of the Australian products will reach a standard that will enable our expanding automobile industry to use entirely Australianmade radiators manufactured from Australian copper and brass strip. I hope, too, that the other industries mentioned in the report will make use of these products. I refer to those industries engaged in the production of heating, ventilation and cooling systems, electrical equipment, builders and plumbers hardware, measuring instruments and domestic appliances. I hope that they will all be encouraged to get their share of the local market, and to become in the future exporting industries.
– in reply - There is one point raised by Senator O’Byrne to which I wish to refer. Senator O’Byrne mentioned the confidential evidence which was given before the Tariff Board about British manufacturers supplying copper and brass strip at subsidized prices. Following the Tariff Board’s report, the department’s overseas investigators looked into the matter, and they are satisfied that there is nothing to substantiate that allegation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) inform me whether this bounty is supplementary to the copper bounty. That bounty, I think, cost £379,000 in the year ended 30th June, 1960. Has the Minister at hand the cost of the copper bounty for the year ended 30th June, 1961? I should be greatly indebted if the Tariff Board would indicate to the Parliament in its reports its assessments of the cost of the bounties or tariffs it recommends. Assessments of that kind could very easily be made. In that regard, I should be obliged if the Minister would tell me the estimated cost of this bounty for the next year.
– This bounty is supplementary to the copper bounty. The cost of the copper bounty for last year is not yet available.
– What is the cost of this bounty estimated to be?
– It must not exceed £190,000 a year, but we have not had a firm estimate of the amount.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1429), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The measure that we are about to discuss provides for the imposition of temporary duties, following recommendations by a special advisory authority, on handkerchiefs, polyester sheets, pillow cases, and trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, its esters and salts and certain preparations thereof. In addition, it is proposed to alter the tariffs on conveyor and transmission belts and belting, copper and brass in sheets or strips, furnishing fabrics, textiles of man-made fibres, woollen piece goods and weedicides and insecticides. The sixth schedule of the bill provides for a temporary duty on certain forged steel flanges, and the seventh schedule for a temporary duty on vinyl acetate monomer. The eighth schedule provides for amendments, consequent on Tariff Board recommendations, on snap fasteners and eyelets, and menthol and thymol.
In discussing these matters, we should look at the overall effect on Australian industries. I do not think it is possible for the Tariff Board to fix a duty to protect an industry in certain instances. Recently, I read a speech of an honorable member in another place in which he stated that handkerchiefs were being landed here at 2d. or 2¾d. each. I remember reading that shirts were being landed here, allegedly from Hong Kong, for 2s. each. I cannot see how any Tariff Board, however desirous it may be to protect an industry, could fix a rate of tariff that would get over the position created by imports of articles such as the two I have mentioned. I have often wondered whether the board has thought of recommending to the Government the adoption of the system that operates in the United States of America. In that country, if a board similar to our Tariff Board is satisfied, after investigation, that production of a commodity in the United States is sufficient to meet the demands of the people of that country, imports equivalent, I believe, to only about 5 per cent, of the total production, are permitted.
– Is that similar to the system of quantitative restrictions, as it is called here?
– Yes. In the
United Kingdom, while a percentage is not prescribed the position is covered by foreign currency adjustment.
– But they are learning, are they not? On the one hand they think they make artificial wealth in that way, and on the other they give benefits to the under-developed countries whose goods they refuse to trade in.
– I admit that, when we add two and two together, as Senator Wright has said, it is difficult to demonstrate the proof of the theorem and arrive at Q.E.D. - quod erat demonstrandum - in the way someone tried to teach me when I was very young, admittedly without much success. When we think of articles such as the two I have mentioned, and remember that the importer puts on his 25 per cent, and that the retailer also puts on his percentage, it is difficult to see how a rate of tariff could be fixed to correct the position. I am not arguing, for the time being, whether or not those percentages are correct.
– Your colleague, who has just spoken, said that Austral Bronze Company Proprietary Limited should be able to pay over-award wages.
– If Senator O’Byrne said that, I wonder that you let him get away with it. We must have people in this country, and they must have jobs.
– And they must work in them.
– No one is arguing about that. With all the mental greatness that the good God has given you, why must you always be down on the lowly? I should be very grateful, and I am certain that your colleagues would be too, if for once or twice in your life, particularly as we are now approaching the Christmas period, you said a kind word about the person who has nothing to sell but his labour. That would give me great joy.
– It is that class which I am trying to benefit.
– It is a matter of opinion how we should go about doing that. I do not think it is possible for the Tariff Board to protect certain Australian industries by raising tariff walls if their products have to compete with articles which can be imported at the prices I have mentioned. I am certain that even Senator Wright will agree that it is necessary to people this country, and that that cannot be done unless industries are established.
– On an economic basis.
– I want it to be done on an economic basis, but the fact is that if our industries attempt to compete with overseas industries which can export articles so cheaply to this country, they must go by the board.
Senator Wright and I are on an equal footing as purchasers. Although the articles that I have mentioned were imported foi such small cost, when we trace them through we find that they reached the people at prices that were very little less than those of the locally produced articles. Despite the fact that they cost only a little less, the ordinary housewife, who operates on a minimum budget and perhaps is not as class-conscious as I am, was more or less compelled economically to buy them. It is impossible to protect the local industries by our present methods. I think it is time that the Tariff Board went into the position. If it is satisfied that an industry can meet the nation’s requirements and is efficient, it should recommend to the Government that protection be provided. That is what is being done in the United States of America and in Britain. The latest news I have is that Britain has imposed quantitative restrictions on imports of butter.
– When was that done?
– Very recently. If I were living in the United Kingdom, I would be anxious to help the butter industry of that country. I do not blame the authorities in Britain for imposing those restrictions, but it seems to me that, for some reason or other, there is an open season for us. I admit that we do not allow potatoes to come into this country from New Zealand, except in very extreme cases, but I think that is due mainly to the fact that New Zealand potatoes sometimes carry corky scab or other diseases. We seem to be attacking this problem in a very haphazard way. Perhaps what I have been advocating does not come within the ambit of the Tariff Board, but I point out that the members of the Tariff Board have a great responsibility to this nation.
– They have made observations along those lines in two or three reports over the past twelve months.
– If they have, and if Senator Wright read those reports, I would have expected him, with that great independence of mind that he displays, to have told us about them. There has been plenty of opportunity for him to do so. If he had told us about the reports, he would have helped not only the members of the Senate but also the people outside.
– I will carry that suggestion in mind.
– I would have listened with great interest to what he had to say on these matters. It seems to me that all we are doing is attempting to bolster an industry temporarily. Within a very short time it is in trouble again. We shall never have the population that we need if we are not able to offer prospective immigrants the one thing that will induce them to come here. We must be able to offer them work. Certainly we encounter great difficulties in connexion with housing, but if we can assure prospective immigrants that there is work here for them they will be encouraged to come, especially if they are unemployed in their own countries. I believe that our main efforts should be directed towards creating employment opportunities not only for our present population but also for prospective immigrants.
When we think of our country’s position in another sphere and realize just how few people we have here, we must begin to wonder what will happen in twenty years’ time, or even before then. Unless we build up our population, we could be in an extremely dangerous position.
– But will you not be building industry on the basis of five weeks’ or six weeks’ annual leave?
– There goes my friend again. Are the benefits of science and automation to be enjoyed by a few, or are they to be spread over the many?
– Of course.
– They should be spread over the many?
– Of course.
– If you agree with that, let me assure you that the time is not far distant when, just as we forgot about the 48-hour week and the 44-hour week, we will forget about the 40-hour week.
– Of course.
– Of course we will. It is the logical trend.
– But do not do it for
State political election purposes, as has been suggested from Sydney.
– Does it matter who leads in seeking a reform? I have been waiting for Senator Wright to show the flag of reform. I admit that, in his own way, he battles for the primary producers, and we also recognize and appreciate their problems. There is a very old but a very true saying that you cannot have prosperous cities with a pauper countryside.
– Just as you cannot have rich watersiders and poor farmers.
– I have some knowledge of the waterfront. In years gone by I worked with the watersiders, and I would not want to work with a better body of men.
– Did you work on the wharfs?
– Yes, I have worked on the waterfront myself.
– Did you receive £22 for 26 hours’ work?
– No. The best work was on timber boats, when you might get eight days at about 24s. 3d. a day. A timber boat was considered a good boat from the waterside worker’s point of view in those days. Things were tough in those days and one had to earn one’s money, but it gave one great experience. Senator Wright’s trouble is that he does not understand the waterside workers. All he wants to do with the waterside workers is to whip them. He can forget about that, because he will not be able to do it. At times, I am just as upset as many others are about some of the things that happen on the waterfront. I realize that I am digressing from the question before us, but I enjoy answering my friend, Senator Wright.
– lt has been a very interesting tete-a-tete.
– It is always interesting to talk with Senator Wright. Like many others, I was greatly worried by the resignation of the chairman of the Tariff Board. I hope that the Tariff Board has the freedom that we all believe it has, but at times I am constrained to wonder whether it has. However, I do not wish to cast aspersions when I am not fully aware of the facts. I was very upset at the resignation of the chairman of the Tariff Board. One can read between the lines in reading the correspondence that was tabled recently.
– I think he had a better job to go to.
– If you tell that to the man in the street, he will say, “ Senator Hannaford is a good fellow “. Let us hope that the Tariff Board will work along the lines I have suggested. At one time I thought - in fact I still think - that in some ways we could be looked upon as the 51st State of the United States of America. I do not mind that. The United States of America is a great friend of ours. It has shown us the way. It has a huge population. In round figures, I should say that its population would be between 184,000,000 and 190,000,000. Why cannot we build up our industries in the same way as the Americans have done.
– They are not so dependent on exports as we are.
– That is true. I should like to digress for one moment. A study of the figures relating to the consumption of various foods in this country over recent years is very interesting. I refer in particular to meat and butter. No one will argue that we do not, as a people, like meat and butter, but the cost factor must be considered. It is essential that we build up our own industries. We cannot build them up merely by imposing a tariff on goods allegedly produced in Hong Kong. Let me refer to the boot manufacturing industry in Victoria. I suppose the Victorian boot manufacturing industry is larger than that of any other State. One is shocked when one sees in the shops of our great cities quantities of ladies’ shoes and men’s boots which have been manufactured in countries outside Australia.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had almost completed all that I want to say. I ask the Government to take heed of the reports of the Tariff Board. I am referring not so much to the amount of duty imposed as to the need to devise some means by which we can protect industries that it is not practicable to protect by the tariff. I instanced shoes coming into Australia from China. I believe that the Australian industry is quite capable of producing footwear for both men and women, irrespective of changes in the styles of women’s shoes. It is impracticable for the Tariff Board to recommend a tariff to keep the shoe industry alive if it is to experience the competition that it has experienced recently. The number of Italian shoes, particularly for women, that are coming into Australia is remarkable.
I recognize that if countries are buying goods from us it may cause some concern if we do not buy goods from them. But if we hope to make this country greater, we can ill afford to allow into it great amounts of commodities, such as shoes and textiles, that can be produced here. I do not think that is a selfish attitude. It is a practical attitude. It represents the only hope for the expansion of our industries and the employment of our people. Both sides of Australian politics have set out on a policy of full employment. We must consider our secondary industries very carefully. We must recognize the labour that they use and the benefit that they bring to the nation. Some goods could be allowed into the country if we think that the costs of the Australian article are too great. I do not think that as a rule the manufacturers receive the biggest cut from the sale of their products. It seems to me that prices increase with the number of handlings of the goods. That affects the Government, too, in respect of its pay-roll tax revenue. I admit that the Government needs money to conduct the affairs of the country. Unfortunately, the tax increases as goods are handled by various people who are commonly known as the middle men. That concludes all I wish to say. I have no intention of detaining the Senate.
– I enter this debate to intimate that at the committee stage I will be making a request that item 105 be withdrawn and redrafted to provide a greater measure of tariff protection for Australian manufactured textile goods. The reason for that request is the current trend whereby the textile industry suffers greater disadvantages than any other established Australian industry, because of the very severe competition being met from countries with much lower costs as a result of lower labour standards. I believe - I know that my belief is shared by other members on this side of the Senate - that our policy in Australia is to keep the standard of living as high as possible and to create opportunities for employment for Australian workmen. When we find that our industries are disadvantaged by trade agreements and other concessions that have been given, we believe that the strongest possible case should be made for finding some way of giving the fullest possible measure of protection.
The measure before the Senate deals with quite a large range of products. It contains eight schedules. The First to Fourth Schedules cover handkerchiefs, polyester sheets, pillow cases and 2,4,5- trichlorophenoxyacetic acid. That acid, which is known by the short name 2,4,5-T, is one of the bases o. weedicides and insecticides. It plays a very important part in the control of disease-carrying insects and pests. It is also used in the spraying of areas of agricultural land.
The Eighth Schedule provides for amendments consequent upon Tariff Board recommendations on snap fasteners and eyelets. Protection is to be afforded to that industry. Evidently the industry has been able to present a sufficiently strong case for the protection of eyelets. The Eighth Schedule also covers menthol and thymol. Those commodities are of interest because they involve the use of natural eucalyptus oil derived from our great national tree, the gum. The industry is serving a great purpose in supplying these very important derivatives, but it is meeting strong competition from synthetic menthol, thymol and other derivatives. However, the Tariff Board sees the wisdom of protecting this industry to the greatest possible extent. Rather than canvass the whole of the numerous schedules to the bill, I shall indicate now that the Opposition supports the bill except item 105 in relation to, in particular, the goods described in the Fifth Schedule as -
Woven piece goods, weighing six ounces or more per square yard, of types, which, either as imported or when further processed, are principally used for furnishings drapes or upholstery, of cotton, of linen, or of fibre admixtures, but not including - piece goods containing 20 per cent, or more by weight of man-made fibres piece goods containing 20 per cent, or more by weight of wool bed tickings fabrics printed in fast colours chenille and pile fabrics goods covered by item 105 (h) (3) or 105 (h) (4).
The Schedule provides for a British preferential tariff on these goods of 37½ per cent, and an intermediate tariff of 50 per cent. It is felt that the Australian textile industry will be placed at a further disadvantage by not having a greater measure of protection. Therefore, the Opposition requests that the item be withdrawn and redrafted to provide greater protection for the Australian textile manufacturing Industries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– As I indicated during my second-reading speech, I now move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the Fifth Schedule to the bill by withdrawing and redrafting item 105 to provide a greater measure of tariff protection for Australian manufactured textile goods.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1429), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1429), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1486), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is a very brief measure to amend a very important act, namely, the Audit Act. It purports to correct two defects in two changes made only last year in the principal act. The reason for the changes is quite clear from the second-reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty). It is to ensure that there is full parliamentary power for the appropriation of refunds out of Consolidated Revenue in the one case, and out of trust funds in the other. The Opposition regards the amendments as necessary and unexceptionable.
I have only two comments to offer. The Audit Act always attracts me, for the reason that it was the very first act of Parliament that I ever read a long while ago. I decline to say exactly how long ago. When I commenced my first job as an officer of the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral’s office, it was my duty to study this very important act. For quite a number of years I was heavily engaged with it as one of the important financial controls of the Commonwealth. Like our Acts Interpretation Act, it is of an all-pervading nature. The only other comment I make is that this is a heavily amended act. At the moment we are dealing with the twenty-first amendment to it since the act was first passed in 1901.
The Opposition supports the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1487), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I want to assure you, Mr. Deputy President, right at the outset, that the honorable senators on this side of the chamber do not oppose this measure. As a matter of fact, we welcome it, because it does at least propose to correct some anomalies that exist in the Repatriation Act. The bill proposes to amend sections 29 and 78 of the act. I quote from the second-reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) -
A claim may be made in the case of disability at any time after the termination of the period of qualifying service, and in the case of death, at any time after the death of the ex-serviceman. There is no time limit for acceptance of claims. When a claim is made, it is submitted after appropriate investigation to a repatriation board, in the State where the claimant resides, for determination. Under the act, the Repatriation Commission may exercise the powers of a board, and sometimes it does, but normally the board is the initial determining authority. In the event of a claim not being allowed by a board, the claimant may appeal to the Repatriation Commission, and if his appeal is. unsuccessful he may appeal further to a war pension entitlement appeal tribunal.
Of course, a successful applicant previously was penalized because many months elapsed between the lodging of his first application and the hearing of his final appeal. The Minister continued -
The limitations which the act imposes are these: A board may not grant a pension from a date earlier than three months prior to the claim; the commission may not grant a pension from a date earlier than six months prior to the lodgment of the appeal to it, and an entitlement appeal tribunal may not grant a pension from a date earlier than six months prior to the date of the appeal to it.
Obviously in many cases many months elapse between the initial application and the hearing of the final appeal.
The bill removes the existing limitation and provides that where an applicant is successful the pension will be paid from the date of the first application provided that the appeal is lodged within three months. That is another limitation with which I do not completely agree. It may be claimed that some limitation should be placed on the lodging of an appeal, but I do not agree. No limitation is placed on making an application. An application for a repatriation benefit may be made at any time after service by an ex-serviceman or by a widow at any time after the death of her ex-service husband. As the years go by an exserviceman has greater difficulty in obtaining the evidence necessary to re-open his case. I am not trying to minimize the difficulties that confront the department and the Government in attempting to frame legislation that will shorten or eliminate the vexatious and costly delays that occur at present. Only recently a case was brought to my attention of a man 78 years of age who had been seeking to have his disability accepted by the Repatriation Department as having been war caused. Eight months elapsed before his appeal was finally heard.
Many ex-servicemen have the greatest difficulty obtaining the extra evidence to support their appeal within the time limit of three months. The act provides that that evidence must be in writing and that it must go before the very authority that previously rejected the claim. You never see that kind of thing happening in a civil court. If an appeal is lodged against a decision in one court, that appeal is not heard by the same court. But here a man whose claim has been rejected by a tribunal must furnish evidence in support of his appeal to that same tribunal. That is implicit in the reply that I received from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) concerning representations that I made to him. In his stereotyped reply the Minister said -
Tribunals are the final bodies of appeal. The case for acceptance of particular incapacities concerned cannot now be reopened unless Mr. . . . is able to produce in writing further evidence not previously considered and which in the opinion of the Repatriation Commission is material to and has a substantial bearing on the claim.
It must be obvious that many of these exservicemen are now getting on in years.
They are broken in health and spirit. How in the name of God are they to search the country in order to find people from whom they may obtain written evidence about the disability from which they are suffering?
To indicate the difficulties confronting ex-servicemen let me quote from a letter which I received to-day from one of these people. My correspondent states -
On my return-
That is, on his return from the First World War- f attended the family doctor but after a few years the doctor* passed on. His son carried on the practice. Unfortunately, he, too, passed on rather suddenly. The practice was taken over by a foreign doctor. It was hard to make him understand. He has since left the district.
The ex-serviceman was later attended by an English doctor who had not been out from England for very long. The English doctor strongly advised the ex-serviceman to apply to the Repatriation Department for treatment. That was a few years ago, but as the ex-serviceman was able to get along he did not bother to apply to the department. A couple of years ago he had a very severs attack and his doctor wrote to the department stating that in his opinion the exserviceman was entitled to repatriation treatment. After those representations had been made the ex-serviceman was told that his case had been before the appeal tribunal and had been rejected. Even the letter written by the doctor had been rejected by the appeal tribunal. The ex-serviceman was told that he must obtain further evidence in writing. He contacted two men with whom he had worked for many years since his return from the war. Those men made statutory declarations to the effect that since his return from the war the exserviceman had been constantly suffering from an ailment. The statutory declarations were produced but they were rejected by the department, which told the ex-serviceman that the declarations had no bearing on his case and were not sufficient to warrant re-opening his case.
I submit that in cases such as that the handling of appeals should be streamlined. I do not suggest that it would be easy to do that, but in many cases months elapse between the lodging of an application and the hearing of an appeal. If a person’s appeal is successful his pension is dated from the date of his first application, but that does not give much satisfaction to a person who has to endure mental torture during the months of waiting for his appeal to be heard. The Government must expedite the hearing of these appeals. 1 shall quote some figures from the report of the Repatriation Commission for 1961- 62. These very revealing figures show the delays that occur in hearing appeal cases. If necessary, more appeal tribunals must be appointed, because there should be as little delay in these cases as possible. I shall refer first to claims received by repatriation boards and the commission. The number of cases outstanding as at 14th June, 1961, was 8,958, and the number of claims lodged during the year was 40,019, making a total of 48,977 cases waiting for action. I think that that is a serious state of affairs. The number of appeals to the Repatriation Commission outstanding at 14th June, 1961, was 2,244, and the number of appeals lodged during the year was 13,370, making a total of 15,614 appeals waiting for action. 1 pass to the appeals to entitlement appeals tribunals. Taking first the men who served in the 1914 war, the number of appeals outstanding at 30th June, 1961, was 1,181, and the number of appeals lodged during the year was 2,836. The total number of appeals awaiting action, in relation to the 1914 war alone, is 4,017. The number of appeals allowed was 415, and the number disallowed was 2,217. A very high percentage of appeals were disallowed in that category. Taking the 1939 war, the number of outstanding appeals at 30th June, 1961, was 2,328. The number of appeals lodged during the year was 6,169. The total number of appeals waiting to be decided is 8,497. Further down, we see that the number of cases which were withdrawn, which lapsed or which were outside jurisdiction was 260. That is an indication that many men become absolutely fed-up with the delays in hearing their cases. They more or less give up the chase and allow their cases to go by the board. I have met people in that position. They have had a stomach full of running round in a circle, as they call it, without getting anywhere. Those who do finally appear before the appeal tribunals are told that they must secure fresh evidence, in writing, that will be accepted by the very tribunal that rejected their earlier claim. Let me give some figures in respect of assessment appeals tribunals. The total number of appeals waiting for action, from men of the 1914 war, is 3,563. The total number awaiting action from men of the 1939 war is 11,137. The total number awaiting action from men of all wars is 14,865. I have said before, and I repeat it now, that these men are getting on in years. They are not in a physical or mental condition to secure the evidence that is required by the Repatriation Department or the various tribunals.
I want to mention a danger that could arise. I refer to a possible tendency, which would be unconscious on the part of a tribunal. I do not suggest for one moment that it would be a conscious tendency. If the members of a tribunal know that if a person is successful in an appeal, he or she will receive the pension as from the date of first lodging the application, the danger is that the tribunal will adopt the attitude that a little more delay will not matter a great deal. I had a case recently, as I mentioned earlier, where a man had to wait for eight months. Like many others, he became fed-up with his attempts to have his case re-opened. After waiting for eight months, he came before a tribunal and was confronted with the stereotyped reply that unless he could obtain fresh evidence his case could not be re-opened. Similar considerations apply to the case of the man I mentioned a little earlier, and to the cases of many hundreds of thousands of people. It is almost impossible for them to obtain the fresh evidence that is required by the Repatriation Commission and the various tribunals. The man I mentioned earlier lives in Victoria, but he belonged to a South Australian unit. Through the returned servicemen’s league and other sources, he endeavoured to contact other members of his unit who could verify the statements he had made to the Repatriation Commission and to the tribunal, but without success. These men just do not know where to turn to obtain the fresh evidence that is required.
I shall mention another case. I have mentioned it before in this chamber, but it will stand repeating. It is the case of a young fellow who enlisted in the First World War at the age of eighteen years. His medical history shows that he was wounded in the head. He ultimately died of a depressed tumour on the brain. I do not know why, but the appeal tribunals before which he appeared would not accept the submission that his condition was due to war service, or even that it was aggravated by war service. After he died, his widow applied for a war widow’s pension. She was confronted with the instruction that I have mentioned previously, namely, that she must secure fresh evidence in writing that would satisfy the tribunal or the Repatriation Commission, and that the evidence must be material to, and have some bearing on, the case. This was a woman whose husband enlisted at the age of eighteen years and served in the First World War, over 40 years before, yet when she applied for a war widow’s pension she was told she must secure fresh evidence in writing. Where could she go to obtain fresh evidence in writing in connexion with the physical condition of her husband, who had served in the First World War over 40 years before?
I give the Government full credit for having brought in this bill to give some measure of relief. I am not minimizing the difficulties with which the Government is confronted, and I am not criticizing the personnel of the tribunals or of the Repatriation Department. I have always received from them the greatest cooperation and the greatest courtesy. However, something will have to be done in these matters because with every year that passes things are getting worse and worse for ex-servicemen, particularly those of the First World War. They are just not in a position, either mentally or physically, to secure the fresh evidence that is required in order to have their cases re-opened by a tribunal. It must be remembered, too, that when they appear before the commission or a tribunal, whichever it is, these men, particularly if they are not represented by an advocate - and some of them are not - approach the hearings in fear and trembling. It is perfectly obvious that they are not used to submitting cases on their own behalf. In some’ instances, they are subjected by the tribunals to an almost third-degree interrogation. Much depends, of course, on the complaints from which the men who appear before the tribunals are suffering, but I understand that one of the stock questions is, “ Who mows the lawn at your place? “ Other very embarrassing questions have been asked of applicants by appeal tribunals concerning the complaints from which the applicants are suffering. I do not want to mention the embarrassing aspects that have been raised with certain applicants, but I think that I have said sufficient to indicate that the people who appear before these tribunals approach them in fear and trembling.
Only a few weeks ago, when repatriation matters were being discussed in this chamber, I mentioned the case of a man aged 78 years who had a stomach full of mustard gas. He appeared before a tribunal and claimed that the mustard gas had affected him. Who can say that a stomach full of mustard gas would not have an adverse effect on a person in later years? Because he had not been evacuated for it, the department held that it had nothing to do with the complaint from which he is now suffering. He was told by the tribunal when he appeared before it that if he mentioned mustard gas again he would be ordered from the room. This man served in the First World War and claims that hi9 complaint has been aggravated, at least, if not wholly caused by the mustard gas to which he was exposed during the war. I know what mustard gas is like. I had some of it myself, though not sufficient for me to be evacuated, and I know hundreds of other ex-servicemen who are in the same position. As I have mentioned on previous occasions, some servicemen did not want to be evacuated. Unless they were cot cases, they elected to remain with their units. The advice given to this man of 78 by the tribunal before which he appeared was, “ Why not seek admission to an old men’s home? “ That was fine recognition of his service to this country.
– Is not the onus of proof supposed to be on the department?
– Yes. I cannot understand why the Government still claims that the onus of proof is on the department, when the department insists that fresh evidence in writing must be submitted to and accepted by the very tribunal which rejected the claim in the first place. This fresh evidence in writing must convince the authority that rejected the original claim that the evidence is material and has some bearing on the case.
Despite this fact, the Government still has the audacity and effrontery to say that the onus of proof rests on the department. In fact, it does not do so and never has done so. The very nature of the appeal and of the instruction from the appeal board to the applicant, telling him what to do in order to have his case re-opened, indicate that the onus of proof is on the applicant to supply fresh evidence. Who is going to say that war service has not had some very adverse effect on the health of every person who served in the services? Yet, tribunals have been known to reject the advice of three doctors in support of an application and to accept the advice of a departmental doctor who opposed it. In more than one case that I know of, the advice of one doctor has overridden that of three medical officers who testified in support of the applicant. That indicates how impossible it is for men who are getting up in years to succeed in their appeals.
I suppose that most honorable senators have interviews with ex-service personnel regarding repatriation matters. In some instances, it would be an act of cruelty to ask the men concerned to try to obtain fresh evidence in order to have their cases reopened. It would be impossible for them to do so, because they are not physically or mentally well enough. After a lapse of 30 or 40 years, how is a man to obtain fresh evidence, or to find men from his unit to testify and substantiate the claim he makes? Most of the men who served with him probably would be dead. In Victoria alone, the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen are dying at the rate of about ten a week. Ex-servicemen of World War I. are dying out. Where are applicants to obtain the fresh evidence that is required? A man wrote to me only recently stating that although he had statutory declarations made by men who had known him down the years, they were rejected by the Repatriation Department.
In the week before last I had the pleasure of seeing a documentary film on repatriation methods which was shown in the Senate club room. I was intrigued and even amused by some parts of it. I do not say that in a derogatory way, because I admit that the Repatriation Department has done a wonderful job for many exservicemen. However, the way in which the film was presented made it appear altogether too easy for an applicant to be successful. It showed an ex-serviceman approaching the department. Like most ex-servicemen, he was somewhat concerned because he did not think he would receive much satisfaction from the department. In fact, he said, “ I will get nothing from this repatriation mob “. When he was shown into the room he was received with the utmost courtesy by the departmental officer, who said: “ Yes, come in Mr. So-and-so. Sit down. What is your trouble? “ He answered, “ I have been suffering from gastritis over many years, and the Repatriation Department will not do anything about it “. The officer said, “ Is that true? “ He then wrote down a few particulars, and asked, “ When did you first get this gastric trouble? “ The man replied, “ I could not tell you exactly “. The repatriation officer then asked, “ Well, would your wife know? “ The man answered, “ Yes, she would know “. He was told: “ All right. Call your wife in.” The man called his wife in and the repatriation officer said: “Well, Mrs. So-and-so, I believe your husband has had gastritis over many years. When were the first symptoms of the gastritis noticed? “ She said, “ About 1921, or something like that “. The officer said, “ That is all right, Mrs. So-and-So “. He wrote down what she had said, and away the man went - no trouble at all. I am not saying that there was an ulterior motive in the way the matter was presented in the film, but it made the whole procedure appear far too easy, having in mind the actual cases with which we are confronted almost every day.
As I have said, it is impossible for these men to secure the evidence that is required in order to have their cases re-opened. Admittedly, the bill is an improvement on the present position. I do not deny that it represents a step forward. It is an indication that the Government is trying to do something. Nevertheless, it is necessary to eliminate the tragic delay that occurs between the time of the first application and the hearing of the final appeal. The Government is now providing - it is a good thing, too - -that a pension shall be payable to successful applicants as from the date on which the first application was lodged, but I suggest that every effort be made to minimize delays in the hearing of appeals, even though this might mean the appointment of additional tribunals. Expense should not be considered in connexion with this matter. Appeals from repatriation boards to the commission and to the appeal tribunals should be carried out with the utmost promptness. As I have pointed out, the commission’s annual report discloses that there are thousands of cases waiting to be heard by the boards, the commission and the appeal tribunals.
I emphasize that, for ex-servicemen of the First World War in particular, each day’s delay makes the position more serious. These men are being driven into a state of dismay and despair. They just do not know what to do. I know that thousands of ex-servicemen throughout Australia have just given the game away, because they cannot get any satisfaction. Many servicemen were so anxious to get out of military life and to go into civilian life again that they did not bother the Repatriation Department at all. Now, when they are in the evenings of their lives, they are being penalized. Because they have no repatriation entitlement, they are denied repatriation benefits. The Opposition welcomes the bill as a further step towards making the position a little easier for these men, but there is still a long way to go.
I suggest to the Minister that consideration be given to the abolition of the threemonth limitation relating to the lodging of an appeal by a person who has been unsuccessful before a repatriation board or the commission. After all, three months is not a very long time in which to do all the investigational work necessary to secure further evidence that will be satisfactory to and accepted by the Repatriation Commission. The original application may be made at any time after completion of service. That being so, I cannot see the justification for requiring an unsuccessful applicant to lodge an appeal within three months after the rejection of his original application. The Opposition welcomes the proposal to pay a successful appellant a pension as from the date of lodgment of his original application, but I appeal to the Minister and the Government, even at this late hour, to give serious consideration to doing everything possible to minimize the delays that now occur between the lodging of notice of appeal and the hearing of that appeal. I also urge that the three-month limitation in connexion with the lodgment of an appeal be abolished. If those suggestions are adopted, the Government will be doing an even greater service for exservicemen. After all, ex-servicemen are entitled to these benefits. I have said before, and I still maintain, that all exservicemen, but particularly those of the First World War, should receive hospital treatment and repatriation benefits, irrespective of what their ailments are. That would have a twofold effect. First, it would provide for ex-servicemen the repatriation benefits and hospital treatment to which they are justly entitled, and, secondly, it would relieve the pressure on the already overburdened general hospitals in the various States. I commend these thoughts to the Minister. I suggest that further appeal tribunals be appointed, if necessary, to minimize the waiting period between the lodgment of an appeal and the final hearing of the appeal. I suggest also that the limitation of three months in relation to appeals should be abolished. Other than on those points, the Opposition has no quarrel with the bill. We support it and welcome it as a further step towards alleviating the distress from which many ex-servicemen are now suffering.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [9.6]. - First, I should like to express my great pleasure .at hearing from Senator Sandford that the Opposition is in full agreement with the proposals contained in this bill. I, too, very much appreciate this step by the Government to remedy an anomaly. Ex-servicemen will now know that even if there is a long delay between the lodging of their original applications and the hearing of their final appeals, they will receive payment from the dates on which their original applications were lodged.
Senator Sandford has suggested that as so many appeals are being lodged, more tribunals should be appointed to avoid lengthy delays. I should like to point out that in 1950 there were only two assessment tribunals and one entitlement tribunal. At that time, if an applicant was unsuccessful, the department merely wrote to him saying that his claim had been rejected, pointing out that he had a right of appeal and stating that if he wished to appeal he should write to the department, asking either that an official form be sent to him or that his letter bc accepted as notice of intention to appeal. In 1952, the system was altered. Under the old system many ex-servicemen, especially those living in the country, would not bother to write in for a form or to give notice of appeal. They simply decided not to appeal. In 1952, the department adopted the practice of sending with the notice of rejection of the application the official form upon which to give notice of appeal. This meant that all the ex-serviceman was required to do was to fill in the form enclosed with his letter and post it back to the department. Over the years, because of this system, the number of appeals has increased greatly. To-day there are many thousands more appealing than appealed in the past. Again, a high ranking official from the department in each State visits the subbranches of ex-servicemen’s associations throughout Australia, explaining to all members just what repatriation benefits are available and how to go about obtaining any benefits to which they may be entitled. That has made a tremendous difference, too. The number of assessment appeal tribunals has been increased from two to six, and the number of entitlement appeal tribunals has been increased from one to four. The reason for this expansion has been that over the last ten years or so the department has set out to do its very best to make it as easy as possible for ex-servicemen and war widows to have their cases beard by the department or, if they appeal, by the commission or an entitlement appeal tribunal. Naturally, the attitude of the department has made a tremendous difference to the pile-up of cases over that period. I agree with Senator Sandford that we probably need more tribunals. I think the department will set up more tribunals to deal with the cases that are piling up.
At present more than 670,000 people ara receiving benefits from the Repatriation Department. That is an enormous figure, particularly in view of the fact that it is more than 40 years since the end of the First World War and seventeen years since the end of the Second World War. That tremendous number of people receiving benefits from the department shows that the bulk of the claims are accepted. A certain number of claims are bound to be refused because many people say: “ It is worth while making an application. I think my disability is due to war service.” Every ex-serviceman is entitled to put his case to the department and have it investigated.
I mentioned that to show that the department does not refuse applications unnecessarily. The department does its very best to encourage ex-servicemen, ex-service women and widows to make applications if they have any disability that might be due to war service. The department makes it as easy as possible for them to make their claims. They can make their claims in whatever part of Australia they live in. I am very glad to see that in spite of the bank-up of claims applicants will not lose financially by the extended period that they take to make their claims. Now they will be able to have their entitlement dated back to the time when they put in their claims. They will not lose anything by being held up by the commission or a tribunal.
, - I rise to support the bill. It is fair to say that the Opposition supports it, but is not entirely satisfied by it. That does not mean, despite the statement of Senator Sir Walter Cooper, that we are completely in favour of it. Whilst the bill removes an anomaly in the case of a person who made his application within three months, we have to make provision for the person who was unable to prosecute his appeals over a longer period. We support the bill, which obviously will improve sections 29 and 78 of the act. It will help to maintain the continuity that a person should have. If an application is refused and an appeal is successful, the appellant should be entitled to the benefits of retrospectivity.
I put it to the Government that there is substance in the claim that the time allowed should be longer. I know that we have to draw a line or have a fence somewhere and that always constitutes an injustice to the person who is outside the fence. I put this to the Government for its consideration on the next occasion when the Repatriation Act is under consideration: There should be a discretion in this matter. The retrospectivity for three months is certainly an improvement. Two sections are modified by the bill, which does remove an injustice. But the commission or the Minister should have a discretion when a person can satisfy the authorities that he could not make his application for the reasons that Senator Sandford mentioned, such as the need to put forward new evidence or some new facts that have to be sustained before the applicant can be successful. I do not agree with Senator Sir Walter Cooper. I think the position is as Senator Sandford stated it. The onus is still on the applicant to produce the new evidence.
I know the cases that Senator Sandford spoke about. A case was referred to me recently of an ex-serviceman from the First World War who later joined the garrison battalion. He is in the difficult position of being able to prove to some extent that a chest complaint is due to his Second World War service, but not being able to get new supporting evidence to put before the authorities because the persons who were associated with him are not available and the doctors are not available. We discussed this position in this chamber recently. I do not say that the officers of the Repatriation Department are not very helpful and are not dealing with the applications that they receive as well as they can. However well the machine is working, I think something is missing.
During the debate on the estimates of the Repatriation Department I suggested that the act is wide open on this point. Section 47 is a very finely phrased section. It appears from reading that section that anything is possible. We have to consider the rare cases that are not treated properly. Section 47 says that the commission, a board, or a tribunal, in dealing with an application or appeal, shall not be bound by technicalities or legal forms or rules of evidence and shall give the claimant the benefit of any doubt as to the existence of any fact or matter which would be favorable to the claimant. Section 48 says that a medical practitioner, in making a report in connexion with an application, shall give his opinion on whether the applicant’s condition arose out of or is attributable to his war service.
When I was connected with the Trades and Labour Council in South Australia, we passed on to the proper people many cases of ex-servicemen who had very good grounds but who made their applications too late. Many of the ex-servicemen who promptly made applications for disability pensions were fearful of the future. They wanted to get some medical benefit. Men who made applications promptly after the war terminated did so in a climate favorable to success which did not exist later. In this chamber and in other Australian legislatures I have heard references to exservicemen who left their applications until very late because they were men who did not like making appeals for consideration. As Senator Sandford has pointed out, it is very difficult for them to prove their claims because their associates, their doctors, their histories and their claims are very old. I suggest that some consideration should be given to my request that there should be an advocate to assist an applicant for pension benefits. I am quite satisfied that the provisions of the bill do not meet the situation.
I reiterate that the Government might consider giving the Minister for Repatriation or the Repatriation Commission discretion to go outside the period of three months that is stipulated because in some cases, a person cannot get the required information or have an investigation made in the time. As a result, he cannot comply with the requirements of the amending legislation. Provision should be made to overcome this difficulty. As 1 have said, we should try to avoid causing an applicant for assistance to go to his parliamentary representative or to talk his problem over with his ex-service organization which may be overloaded with cases. An officer should be appointed to act as the advocate for the ex-serviceman. Honorable senators know that when they get a case such as those 1 have mentioned, all they can do is to peruse the files and make of it what they can. The better the advocacy of the member of Parliament, the more chance his constituent has of getting satisfaction.
I do not think that an application made in these years, so long after the war ended, is the genuine test of whether a person has a war disability. He has to establish a pro forma case. If his appeal is rejected, he has to produce some new evidence to convince the tribunal before which he appears that he has something new. Even a trained person has difficulty in opening a door that has been closed by the tribunal’s decision. I agree with Senator Sandford that service life takes its toll of the individual. We must recognize that applicants who feel they have a disability, or are fearful of facing old age without benefits, need extra consideration. I support this amending legislation which I regard as a step forward, but I hope that the Government will consider the suggestions I have made.
– The purpose of the bill before the Senate is to make two - and only two - amendments to the Repatriation Act. While the number of amendments is small, honorable senators who have spoken have indicated that they are of great importance and represent a considerable advance on the procedures in respect of pension claims made to the Repatriation Department. Although the bill is, in that sense, a narrow one, the debate, not surprisingly, has excited discussion over the whole field of repatriation. I do not object to that or resent it. Knowing the interest of the Senate in this matter, I think it would be surprising if such were not the case; but in expressing that point of view I want to say with the same sincerity as those who have spoken that it is quite impossible in a debate of this nature to have specific and individual cases considered across the chamber.
I know that honorable senators speak with sincerity of cases that have come to their knowledge. They point to this or that case as one that is indicative either of harsh treatment or sometimes of indifferent treatment by the various repatriation tribunals. Speaking as the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation in this chamber, I say it is quite impossible to deal with those specific cases unless one has the necessary material in front of him. Therefore, I avoid debate on some of these particular cases that have been mentioned.
Not surprisingly, Senator Sandford made some reference to the operation of the onus-of-proof provision. I repeat that it is my own very genuinely held view that the onus-of-proof provision is administered according to the intention and the spirit of the Repatriation Act and that it operates to the definite advantage of the claimant or the appellant. Senator Sandford took the point that he followed in the debate on the Estimates to the effect that the difficulty of finding new evidence constituted an indication that the onus-of-proof provision weighs heavily on the claimant. All I wish to say in reply to that view is that any clair: lodged before any tribunal in the world must rest on the basis of evidence submitted. If one is to take Senator Sandford’* assertion to its conclusion, what he is advocating in effect is that there should be payment of compensation without evidence at all. That is what it means. I put it to the Senate that it would not be long before that sort of machinery would break down under its own weight. Evidence must be submitted by or on behalf of a claimant before any claim can proceed.
Senator Bishop made passing reference to the provision in the act that dealt with the need for eliminating from repatriation proceedings all technical and legal forms. I think there is no doubt that the way the act is administered at all levels shows a complete absence of legalisms. I am happy to remark that Senator Bishop did not attempt to rebut that fact. I am sure he appreciates, as I do, that there are no legalisms in a claim made to the repatriation authorities.
The only substantial criticism made of the measure before the chamber - if it is a criticism - is that the period of three months within which apppeals may be lodged might have been rather longer. Both the honorable senators who made that criticism acknowledged, as they made it, that there was a need to set some time limit, as indeed there is.
I put it to the Senate that it should pay particular heed to what Senator Sir Walter Cooper said about this matter and the approach of the department to initial claims and to appeals because he spoke from a wealth of knowledge and experience. He indicated in clear terms that it was the positive policy of the Repatriation Department, the Repatriation Commission and the tribunals to encourage claims to be lodged and indeed to encourage appeals against claims that had been dismissed. For that purpose, the department has instituted procedures under which, on dismissal of a claim or an appeal, the unsuccessful claimant is immediately furnished with a form in which he can give notice of his intention to lodge an appeal. I suggest that a department can do no more than put in the hands of a claimant or an appellant a form which requires the minimum of information, merely indicating that he desires to make a claim or an appeal.
There may be some misunderstanding of the situation in respect of this threemonthly period. No time limit is imposed at any point on an ex-serviceman making an appeal. What happens now will still go on. If a period of six or seven months or two years elapses before the exserviceman makes an appeal, his appeal will still be heard. The bill provides that those persons who lodge appeals quickly will, in the case of success of their appeals, get the benefit of back-dating the pension from the time when the board was first approached. In other words, this is, in effect, an extension of the policy, always pursued by the department and described by Senator Sir Walter Cooper, of encouraging exservicemen to make claims and to appeal against dismissed claims. Viewed in that light and in those circumstances, the period of three months, I suggest, is not open to any degree of criticism at all. I express the gratification of the Government that the bill, as presented, is supported from all sides of the chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Clause 3 provides -
Section twenty-nine of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after the word “ Commission “ the words “, being an appeal from a determination of a Board lodged later than three months after the making of the determination,”.
The report of the Repatriation Commission for the year 1961-62 states that 67,000 war pensions have been paid as a result of all wars. Appeals or applications received and determined by the Repatriation Board in the year under review totalled 48,977. Of these, 20,451 were accepted and 22,147 were rejected. Of those rejected, 15,000 were the subject of appeals to the Repatriation Commission, of which 2,614 were accepted and 11,300 rejected. Of the exservicemen whose appeals to the commission were rejected, 12,633 applied to the entitlement appeal tribunals. Of their appeals, 1,388 were allowed and 6,864 were disallowed.
These figures show that a little over 4,000 cases were accepted along the line of appeal. As pointed out in the Minister’s second-reading speech, the delays occasioned were considered by the Government to be inordinate, and this legislation has been specifically designed to overcome that disadvantage. I ask the Minister whether any provision has been adopted to make retrospective for a period the pensions payable to those 4,000 successful appellants. Stress has been laid upon the fact that no time limit is applied to applications for benefit under the act. Quite a number of people have been inconvenienced by delays, as shown by the report to which I have referred.
, - There is no provision in the bill to make payments retrospective. I refer the honorable senator to clause 2, which contains the familiar provision -
This Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.
According to the figures cited by the honorable senator, pensions were allowed to some 4,000 applicants upon appeal either to the Repatriation Commission or to a tribunal. The table in the commission’s report for 1961-62 does not indicate how many of those appeals were lodged within three months of rejection of a claim. As
I said at the second-reading stage, the purpose of the bill is to encourage rejected claimants and appellants to lodge appeals within three months.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
Senator WADE (Victoria - Minister for
Health) [9.40].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to set up a statutory corporation charged with the responsibility for the supply of electricity in the Australian Capital Territory. The proposed corporation will take over the undertaking known as the Canberra Electric Supply now administered by the Department of the Interior.
There is no need to dwell upon the importance of electric power to the community in the present day. Honorable senators will be only too well aware of this. Canberra is in no way different from any other community in this respect. Electricity is the major source of reticulated energy for lighting, heating and power. It is accepted as a basic requirement for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes and for the day-to-day operation of the Commonwealth’s administrative agencies. It is therefore important to the community of Canberra and to the Commonwealth that the supply authority be geared to meet the day-to-day demands of this essential service and that it be constituted in such a way that the electricity supply undertaking is operated in the most efficient and economic manner.
Up to the present the undertaking has been carried on by departmental agencies, apart from the period from 1925 to 1930, during which it was a responsibility of the then existing Federal Capital Commission.
With the rapid development of Canberra over recent years the Canberra electric supply undertaking has for some time been experiencing considerable difficulty in coping with the work load and in maintaining a service at the highest standards of efficiency consistent with economical operation. This has been due to staff recruitment problems and an organization and procedures, both financial and administrative, which, whilst suitable for normal departmental activities, are not appropriate for a large and rapidly expanding public utility.
Honorable senators will readily appreciate the extent of the activities of the present Canberra electric supply and its rate of growth when I point out that since 1957 the number of units of electricity supplied has increased from 85,000,000 to 166,000,000 per year while the maximum demand has increased by 131 per cent. Over the same period, the revenue received by the undertaking has increased from £816,000 in the year 1956-57 to £1,494,000 for the year 1961-62. As at 30th June, 1962, electricity has been supplied to 19,231 consumers. The task that will face the authority will be no less formidable, for it is expected that the population of Canberra will have reached 100,000 by 1969, at which stage it is anticipated that the undertaking will be supplying electricity to approximately 30,000 consumers. It would be difficult to find anywhere in Australia an electricity undertaking having a rate of growth even approximating to this.
The Government has therefore decided that the undertaking has reached the stage in its development when the constitution of a separate statutory authority is warranted. The proposed authority would be responsible for the purchase and generation of electricity and for its supply to consumers in the Territory. It would be completely self-contained, having its own technical, administrative and financial structure, so that it can be operated as a modern public utility. This would not be without precedent, as it has become established practice in the fields of electricity distribution and supply throughout Australia to set up authorities of this nature, rather than to leave functions of this sort to local government as part of its normal area of operation. The approach varies from the decentralized system of county councils in New South Wales to the highly centralized system of operation by the one State Electricity Commission in Victoria. The basic approach of operating through specialized authorities is, however, common to all systems.
The authority proposed in the bill will consist of a full-time chairman, appointed by the Governor-General, and two other members, acting in a part-time capacity. One of these will be a member of the Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory, elected by the members of the council. The other will be an officer of the Department of the Interior, appointed by the Governor-General. The chairman will be appointed for a period not exceeding six years and the departmental member for a period not exceeding three years. The Advisory Council member will hold office during the pleasure of the council, but for no greater period than the life of that particular council which elects him.
The functions and powers of the authority will be such as will enable it to carry on in the Territory the normal activities of an electricity supply undertaking. These matters are dealt with in clauses 17 and 18 of the bill. In addition, the authority will have such other functions in relation to matters affecting or connected with the supply or use of electricity in the Territory as are conferred on the authority by the laws of the Territory. I shall deal with this point at a later stage.
The authority will have power to determine the charges for electricity which it supplies in the Territory. The principles to be applied by the authority in determining the charges are set out in clause 19 of the bill. The authority will not be able to fix charges arbitrarily without reference to its responsibilities. Those responsibilities will be owed not only to the Commonwealth, from which the authority will obtain its capital funds, but also to consumers, to whom the authority will be responsible for the supply of electricity at reasonable prices.
When this bill comes into operation the Canberra and Jervis Bay Electricity Supply Regulations at present in force in the Territory will become obsolete. I am having the regulations reviewed so that they may be replaced at the appropriate time by more suitable legislation. It is usual for legislation of this nature to confer some regulatory powers or functions on the appropriate supply authority. For example, most supply authorities perform some function relative to the licensing of tradesmen or to the control of appliances. Honorable senators will note, that the bill makes no provisions on these or similar matters. The Government has adopted the view that matters of this nature are more properly dealt with in ordinances and regulations of the Territory. The legislation of the Territory as such, in so far as it affects the private rights of individuals, is set out in ordinances and regulations and this bill is designed to encompass only the legislative framework necessary for the constitution and operation of the authority. For this reason the bill provides that, in addition to those functions conferred on the authority by the bill itself, the authority will also exercise those functions conferred upon it by the laws of the Territory. A resident of the Territory wishing to ascertain his rights and responsibilities as a resident would naturally expect that such of these matters as are dealt with by legislation are dealt with in the normal way by ordinances and regulations. In 1960 the Parliament considered and passed legislation to amend the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957 for this same reason, so that powers to be exercised by the commission and which would affect the rights of persons in the Territory would be dealt with by the laws of the Territory.
Another aspect of this bill with which I would like to deal is that it establishes in Canberra another authority in the field of local administration. Until now the undertaking has been part of the Department of the Interior and it has been easy to arrange liaison with other branches and sections of the department. The presence on the authority of an officer of the department will preserve the means for this liaison to be continued. The relationship and cooperation established to date by the Canberra Electric Supply with the National Capital Development Commission and with the Department of Works will of course continue.
In taking over the undertaking presently operated by the Canberra electric supply the authority will, of course, be taking over staff presently employed by the Department of the Interior. The rights of officers and employees who are involved in this transfer of staff will be protected. The act is to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Wade) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President, I desire to raise the question of the misrepresentation of a statement I made in the Senate when discussing the estimates for the Department of Immigration on 25th October. On page 1167 of “Hansard” my remarks were reported as follows: -
So we do not know the standard adopted by the Government to decide whether an applicant’s trade union activities are bona fide or such as to make him unfit for Australian citizenship, to use the phrase that appears in the Minister’s answer. In some instances that have come to our knowledge, the activities of migrants in the trade union movement appear to be the only reason for their non-acceptance for naturalization.
I then dealt with the rejection of members of the Communist Party, and went on to say -
While I could, perhaps, appreciate some concern over those who may be members of the Communist Party, between members of the Communist Party and those who may be termed militant members of the Labour Party is some line of demarcation that we cannot define.
That is the pertinent sentence. I went on -
We know that many members are denied naturalization because of various activities. In one case the activity objected to was the distribution, in the referendum campaign, of “ How-to-vote “ cards which were contrary to the wishes of the Government at the time.
It was intended to mean, and I do not think anything else can be read into the statement if we take it in its proper context, that we were unable to define the difference - the difference accepted by the Government for the purpose of naturalization - between a Communist and what might be termed a militant member of the Labour Party. No other meaning was intended, and I do not think any other meaning can be taken from the sentence when the whole paragraph is read. I personally, and my party, can see a clear line of demarcation between a member of the Communist Party and a non-member, whether he be a militant member of the Labour Party or any one else.
This speech was reported by Mr. Alan Reid in the “ Bulletin “ of 10th November. Mr. Reid quoted part of the pertinent sentence. He never bothered to quote the full sentence. He did not quote the words “ While I could, perhaps, appreciate some concern over those who may be members of the Communist Party “. He wrote - “ Between members of the Communist Party and those who may be termed militant members of the Labour Party is some line of demarcation which we cannot define “ Senator Cavanagh told the Senate.
Obviously the meaning of those words is that there is some line of demarcation that I cannot define between a member of the Communist Party and those who may be called militant members of the Labour Party. That is quite contrary to the statement which I made to the Senate. Possibly as a result of the article in the “ Bulletin “ the following words were used in another place by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). He said -
Senator Cavanagh, in another place, recently said that it is very difficult to define the point at which one ceases to be a militant and becomes a Communist.
That is a complete distortion of my meaning, as the words “ very difficult “ and the words “ the point at which one ceases to be a militant and becomes a Communist “ were never used. A passage in my speech has been taken out of its context and distorted entirely. I just wanted to correct the matter in case there is another occasion when I will say that we of the Labour Party know that there is a very clear line of demarcation between a Communist and a non-member of the Labour Party. I have taken the earliest opportunity to raise this matter in the Senate because the statement by Mr. Snedden was made during the adjournment debate on the last day of the sitting of the other House before last week’s recess.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 November 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621127_senate_24_s22/>.