24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 1J a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for the Navy. Has he taken note of comments made by Admiral J. H. Sides, Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, in relation to defence strategy in the Indian Ocean? If he has not, will he see that the Government obtains a copy of the notes of Admiral Sides’s speech and analyses them? Will the Minister note that the admiral has said that a naval base in Western Australia would be important to Western security but that it is vital to Australia’s security, that the Australian Government should take the initiative in establishing it without delay, and that assurances that the need for such a base is constantly being re-assessed will get us nowhere? If the admiral’s comments have been noted, can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is possible to proceed with such an important project?
– I have noticed the statement made by Admiral Sides at the Coral Sea celebrations function in Western Australia. For the benefit of honorable senators who may have thought that what Senator Cooke said was a quotation from the admiral’s statement, 1 point out that it was not, in fact, what the admiral said. The statement made by Admiral Sides, which is well-known to all the defence services in Australia, was that the Indian Ocean is of strategic importance. The admiral mentioned the establishment of an American communications station to deal with matters in that ocean. He said he was pleased to see in Perth a naval training establishment. He did not, according to the typescript of the speech which I have seen, state that a naval base should be established in Western Australia, and he certainly did not make the comments which Senator Cooke added to his question. They are Senator Cooke’s comments; they were not made by Admiral Sides.
– The Department of Health is establishing a new section to coordinate all the activities necessary to supervise the drugs system as a whole. Action is being taken also to set up a committee of independent experts as an advisory body to report to the Government on the supply of drugs generally. When these two exercises have been completed I am sure we will be in a much happier position than we have been in the past.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Minister give consideration to providing that a taxation refund cheque may be paid into a taxpayer’s bank account if he so desires? Will the Minister examine again the possibility of increasing the zone allowance for residents of the West Coast of Tasmania?
– The question of altering zones for the purpose of tax allowances has been examined from time to time by the Government, and for reasons that have been stated, the zones have not been varied. In reply to the first question, I am not aware that a taxpayer receiving a cheque for a rebate of taxes is unable to pay the cheque into his bank account. That is certainly not so in my case.
– I was thinking of the payment of a cheque directly into an account by the Taxation Branch.
– I do not know what administrative arrangements might be involved in any change, but I will ask the
Treasury to examine the proposal. I have it in mind that there are good reasons why the cheque is sent direct to the taxpayer, who pays it into his account.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation, and preface it by expressing appreciation to the Minister that the Adelaide airport terminal was among the first to be modernized. Is the Minister aware that so soon after its completion, the terminal is overcrowded and already inadequate in many ways? Is the Minister considering having the terminal enlarged? If so, will he state when the alterations will be started? If the terminal is to be altered, will permanent provision be made for shops and postal facilities? Will the Minister consider the construction of covered ways from the terminal to aircraft so that passengers can move from one to the other without getting wet or being blown to pieces?
– The airport ter minal at Adelaide was, I think, the first of the capital city airports to be brought up to modern standards. The work was completed about five years ago. It is true that an increase in traffic no.w requires alterations to be made to the terminal, and I think the work is programmed to commence early in the next financial yea<r. The proposal is to increase the size of the main terminal hall by carrying the present glass wall out to a new alinement at the front of the existing building. I am not sure what provision has been made for other facilities such as shops.
– What about a cocktail lounge?
– That is a master I will have to discuss with the Premier of South Australia. My own views on that matter are well known. Since so much good wine is produced in South Australia, I would think it would be greatly to the advantage of that State that South Australian wine should be sold or made available at the Adelaide airport; but that is on.!y my personal view.
As to the suggestion that fingers, similar to those at the Melbourne airport, might be erected, I point out that fingers of that nature are provided at airports where the climate makes it necessary or desirable that they should be constructed for the protection of passengers. It has always been my assessment, and I think the assessment of most people, that the Adelaide climate is so reliable ‘that this sort of facility is not necessary. Consequently, we have made no provision for it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has seen a report in the Melbourne “ Truth “ of 27th April which states -
New tax on- petrol?
An extra tax is likely to be put on petrol as a brake on rising consumption, oil companies warned this week.
The move would be necessary to stop Australia using more petrol than its foreign exchange can stand.
The report goes on to say that in ten years time the annual cost of crude oil imports by Australia will reach £275,000,000. If this report is correct, does the Minister not believe that an extra tax on petrol would add further to the already fast rising costs of the primary producer and to general living costs, and also place a further impost on the already heavily burdened but patient motorist. Will the Minister confer with the Cabinet to see whether the great number of non-essential goods coming into Australia can be curtailed to assist the foreign exchange situation?
– The only proposal I have seen in relation to the imposition of a new or an additional tax on petrol came from a Minister of a State government.
– It was Mr. Petty.
– I believe it was.
– He is a Liberal Minister in Victoria.
– I believe he is. This is not a Commonwealth proposal but a suggestion made by a State Minister. It seems to give point to the statement frequently made that in politics you always have plenty of friends who want to tell you what to do.
– You are not referring to yourself in regard to civil aviation?
– No, I am not. The suggestion, as I say, emanated from a State Minister and was to be submitted to a conference of State Ministers. I do not know what the outcome of that conference was. So far as I know, the suggestion has not come to the Commonwealth level. If it does, it will be considered by the Commonwealth. This Government makes its own decisions, particularly in respect of things which involve taxation and variations in taxation.
-I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Am I correctly informed that when the legislatures of Borneo and Sarawak originally adopted the idea of a federation of Malaysia, it was intended to complete the federation by 31st August, 1963? Has any alteration been made to that programme? If so, by what date is it expected to complete the federation?
– I will get exact information for the honorable senator, but the answer I would give at this stage is that to the best of my knowledge the Tunku Abdul Rahman of Malaya has made it clear that he does not propose to consent to a postponement of the date by which is was agreed that a federation would be formed. If there has been any change in the situation since I was last informed of it in those terms, I will let the honorable senator know.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a statement to the effect that the New South Wales Government proposes to ban telephone tapping in New South Wales? Is there any possibility that the Commonwealth Government will follow this example?
– The answer to the first part of the question is, “ No “. The answer to the second part is that what is done in this respect on the Commonwealth level is so carefully controlled that there is no need for any variation of the present procedures.
– I direct a question to to the Minister for National Development. Has he seen a coloured advertisement which appeared in the press last Tuesday to the effect that a giant new £45,000,000 aluminium production enterprise has been undertaken by Alcoa of Australia Proprietary Limited? Is this another indication of the prosperity of Australia? Will there be in Victoria, where less than 1 per cent. of the work force is unemployed, a sufficient number of employees available to man this giant plant?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.Senator Scott is, of course, right as usual. This is a clear indication of the prosperity of Australia. In answer to the third part of his question, I should say that the situation in Victoria is the same as it is in other States of the Commonwealth, in that this new venture will have some difficulty in obtaining the skilled labour that it will need for its activities. That is one of the facts of the present situation, and it constitutes a complete rebuttal of the allegations by the Opposition that a great degree of unemployment exists in Australia. The fact is that skilled labour is now becoming difficult to obtain.
I should like to take the answer a little further than Senator Soctt has suggested, because I think there is benefit to be gained from looking at the events that are occurring in Australia consequent upon the development of the bauxite deposits that have been found as a result of the Government’s policy to locate and explore Australia’s natural resources. In Western Australia, there is the proposal which is based on development of the bauxite deposits in that State. There is an alumina factory at Kwinana. In Victoria, there is a smelter which has involved an investment of £45,000,000. There is the development which is based on the sale of the Bell Bay aluminium plant - a transaction which was fiercely criticized by the Opposition - which already has led to the size of the plant being doubled and to an investment of the order of £20,000,000 to £25,000,000 in the Bell Bay plant. Then, there are the Weipa bauxite deposits.
In addition, there is the contemplated alumina works at Gladstone which will involve, I should think, an investment of about £40,000,000. Therefore, investment in works already announced in Western Australia and Queensland is now approaching the £100,000,000 mark. This is becoming an Australian undertaking which, whilst not as great as the refinery programme, is in the same category. The Pecheney company is now engaged on preparatory work for an investment of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 in Arnhem Land, with the object of exporting bauxite. That organization contemplates investing a further sum of from £40,000,000 to £45,000,000 in an alumina plant there. We still have the Cape York deposits and the second lot of deposits at Gove which have not yet been developed.
– I wish to thank the Minister for Health for forwarding to me the report of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Advisory Committee on advertising. As this is a most nebulous report, I should like to ask the Minister the following questions arising from it: How does the Commonwealth specifically aim to achieve “ complete prohibition of tobacco advertising “ and “ to limit or prohibit the directing of advertisements towards the younger age group “? Has the Commonwealth yet set up the committee proposed in the report to inquire into and recommend measures to reduce the risk which confronts tobacco smokers? Has the Commonwealth prohibited “ smoking in places of assembly, subject to control under health acts and allied acts, including government offices, dance halls and places where food is served or offered for sale “ ?
– In reply to the first part of the question, the Commonwealth Government has no power to impose either a total prohibition or a limitation of tobacco advertising, except over television and radio networks. Control of advertising in other fields is a State prerogative. The Government has not set up the proposed committee, one reason being that the suggested composition of it is quite unrealistic. In reply to the third part of the question, with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, the suggested prohibitions refer in the main to State instrumentalities. However, I understand that State governments are pointing out to young people the dangers that are associated with smoking; and the Commonwealth Government is doinglikewise.
– I desire to address several questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Some two and a half years ago I asked how many missionary organizations were operating in Papua and New Guinea, following which I received a list of 40 organizations. On 12th October, 1960, I asked whether any trouble had arisen amongst the missionaries in New Guinea. Senator Sir Walter Cooper, in his reply, said that there had been three incidents, and he elaborated upon them. He mentioned that one missionary had been removed from the Territory by his own mission. In another case there had been disagreement between two sects but the court proceedings had been dismissed. Possibly - to my mind and to the minds of thousands of others, this is important - there has been some confusion in the minds of native people because of different teachings. The question I now address to the Minister is this: In these days of ecumenical councils and proposals for church unity, has any effort been made by the Minister for Territories and his departmental officers to bring the many missionaries together for the purpose of establishing a common Christian and moral code for the New Guinea natives and of eliminating the antagonisms that prevail amongst the various denominations in their approach to the natives?
– I think it is quite wrong to assume that because different church missions are at work in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea there is, as has been suggested by Senator Brown, any wide variation in their approach to the Christian or moral code. Of course, the Christian code extends to and embraces the whole of the Christian faiths. It is certainly not regarded as a duty of the department, or of the Government, to take the initiative in bringing about a move towards church unity and ultimately mission unity.
– I did not say that at all. I want a common moral code so that there will be no confusion amongst the natives.
– I took your words down. You referred to the establishment of a common Christian code and a common moral code.
– Yes, among the various denominations.
– If you do not want to listen to me I will not bother answering your question. I have indicated that a common Christian code exists, and a common Christian code includes and embraces all the Christian faiths and all the Christian missions. I know of no deep differences between the moral codes of the various Christian faiths. I repeat that it is not regarded as a duty of the Government, or of departments to take the initiative in any step towards the establishment of church unity, to refer again to the phrase used by the honorable senator. This is a matter for the initiative of the Churches themselves.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he can inform the Senate when the Albury aerodrome will be in operation.
– I cannot give the exact date. Applications were recently before the rationalization committee with regard to the operator who should operate this route, and the route was awarded to Trans-Australia Airlines. I shall find out precisely when the aerodrome is to be opened and let the honorable senator know, lt will certainly be in the very near future.
– I ask the
Minister for National Development whether he recalls that approximately four weeks ago I asked him whether it was true that in the month of February notices threatening eviction from war service homes were served on almost 1,500 families in New South Wales. In a most truculent reply, the Minister denied any such suggestion. In view of his answer to my question on notice on Tuesday last, which showed that for the month of February, 1963, 1,568 Ar.4. forms threatening eviction were issued and that 717 Ar.4. forms were issued during March, I now ask the Minister whether it is true that, in one court alone in Sydney, over twenty cases involving evictions from war service homes have been heard over the past weeks. Can the Minister advise the Senate how many court eviction cases were listed during the month of April and how many cases relating ‘to evictions from war service homes are to be heard during the months of May and June? Will he further inquire into whether the police report to the city coroner on the recent death of Mr. George Hobbs, an exserviceman of Yarra Bay, Sydney, reveals that when this unfortunate man’s body was found he was clutching a war service Ar.4. form threatening him with eviction from his war service home?
– I am sorry to say that Senator Fitzgerald has the advantage of me on these questions relating to war service homes. Apparently somebody of Senator Fitzgerald’s political persuasion has given him ammunition to shoot at his Minister on the floor of Parliament. There is a very important principle involved in this. It is the respect in which the Public Service is held. Both sides of the Parliament should do everything possible to protect the integrity of the Public Service. Both sides of the Parliament should be prepared to conduct their transactions and negotiations with the Public Service in a non-political fashion. I always adopt the policy that members of Parliament can go to government departments that are within my portfolio and obtain reasonable information, not dealing with policy matters, so that they may be informed of what is going on. I have nothing to hide. Members of Parliament can obtain information from the Government.
– You denied me the right some months ago.
– If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will bring the circumstances to my attention, I shall give the answer. There must be some good reason why I denied him the right. What is happening is that some one is giving this information. Senator Fitzgerald should be ashamed of himself for adopting tactics of this sort, and I hope that the other officers of the War Service Homes Division in Sydney are ashamed of the fellow on their staff who is using his position for political purposes.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether any plans are afoot to construct new ‘buildings and facilities at Brisbane- airport;’ which/, according to my observation and experience, is the most antiquated in any capital city in Australia.
– I regret to have to tell Senator Maher that there are no present plans for the reconstruction of terminal buildings at Brisbane airport. We are, of course, aware of the continuing need to modernize airport buildings. The honorable senator may be assured that his representations in respect of this matter will not be overlooked and that in the course of time the matter will be given a priority which we believe to ba justified. The work required at Brisbane will not be delayed longer than we believe to be necessary, having regard to the funds available to the department.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I preface it by saying that last year the Government was most vocal about its contemplated legislation relating to restrictive trade practices, but its proposals have been severely criticized by certain State Premiers and by many of its supporters.
– Order! The honorable senator will ask his question.
– I shall ask it now. This has placed the Government in a dilemma. In the light of these criticisms, does the Government contemplate watering down the proposals which were submitted in a statement made to the Parliament many months ago? If not, what is the present position relating to the subject, and when is it likely that the legislation will see the light of day?
– As the Senate well knows, the Attorney-General, on matters of such significance, has adopted a practice of allowing draft legislation and draft proposals to be presented to the public so that all those persons interested and affected by the proposals will have ample time to study what is proposed, to raise any objections, or to make any suggestions for improvement. This is the practice, I understand, which he is following in relation to restrictive trade practices. That being so, he having provided an opportunity for the making of suggestions and the expressing of opposition to particular points of the legislation, sug-‘ gestions for improvement have come from some quarters and opposition has come from other quarters. That is not to say that the opposition to particular points will necessarily lead to alteration of the draft proposals. I think that the Senate will agree that it is reasonable, in a democracy, to allow proposed legislation of such importance to be discussed in public before it is brought into the Parliament in a detailed form. It will be brought into the Parliament in a detailed form in due course. The other part of the honorable senator’s question referred to policy.
I congratulate Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin on directing the attention of the Senate to what is an interesting anniversary. I would not be willing to forecast when the move into the new federal parliament house will take place.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of obvious unrest and dissatisfaction at present fomenting within the Commonwealth Public Service, due to salary injustice and working conditions, can he inform me whether in the history of the Public Service, direct action has ever been taken by permanent second division and third division officers? Does the Leader of the Government consider that the present unrest and dissatisfaction in the Public Service could lead to some form of direct action being taken, with serious consequences for the Government, the Public Service and Australia generally? Will the Government take early action to improve what appears to be poor employeremployee relations between it and Public Service unions?
– I cannot recollect any occasion on which direct action has been taken by senior public servants. From my association with them and knowledge of them, I venture to forecast that such action will never be taken. Public servants who hold high positions discharge their responsibilities, in my judgment, in a remarkably capable manner. I have little doubt that the honorable senator exaggerates the unrest to which he refers. I have little doubt that the majority of those who are excluded, as senior officers, from existing arbitration procedures, realize that their representations are given very careful and sympathetic consideration by the present Government; and they realize also that that circumstance would change if there were a change of government.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs been directed to the result of the recent gallup poll on; the building of an American naval radio station in Western Australia? The poll showed that 80 per cent, were in favour of the station and only 11 per cent, were opposed to it. Did he note also that of the persons interviewed, 90 per cent, of Liberal Party, Country Party and Australian Democratic Labour Party voters, and 74 per cent, of Australian Labour Party voters, supported the establishment of the station? Does the Minister agree that those figures reflect Australian public opinion on this project? Is this 80 per cent, vote for this project one of the highest that has ever been recorded in. the history, of gallup polls?
– I noticed the result of. the gallup poll to which the honorable senator refers and I believe that it does reflect the opinion of the great majority of the Australian public that the construction of this communications station will be of great value to. Australia and to the continuance of our alliance with the United States of America. I can only express any regret that a similar’ percentage of 80 per cent, in favour of the- project was not evident among the. 36 faceless mer who run the
Australian Labour Party, of whom nineteen were in favour of the project and seventeen against it.
– My question is directed .to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is the Minister in a position to reply to my question concerning negotiations with the Silverton Tramways Company on plans to standardize the Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway line? Reports in the Adelaide press flowing from discussions between the State and the Commonwealth governments do not reveal information in respect of the section of the line that is privately controlled. Has there been any consultation with the Silverton Tramways Company, and has the proposal to convert the Cockburn to Broken Hill section reached the planning stage?
– My colleague has not yet put me in possession of any material that would enable me to reply to the question asked by Senator Bishop. I shall consult with my colleague again and see whether there is any information I can make available.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. I thank him for according me the opportunity to peruse a copy of the report which he received from the National Health and Medical Research Council on the subject of the incidence of cancer as a consequence of tobacco smoking. Can the Minister give me some information as to the status and constitution of the National Health and Medical Research Council? Among its recommendations did the council suggest that Commonwealth and” State authorities should aim at the complete prohibition of tobacco advertising? Did it recommend also that an official statement should be issued to the effect that tobacco smoking, in particular cigarette smoking, is definitely a contributory factor in causing cancer of the lungs, the incidence of which is increasing and is highest among those who smoke most heavily? Do the Minister’s professional advisers in the Department of Health, particularly the Director-General of Health, agree or disagree with either of those recommendations? I ask further whether the Minister considers it appropriate to Commonwealth and State co-operation to place the matter before a Premiers’ Conference or some meeting of State authorities, and whether an official statement of the kind recommended has been made.
– As I have not the records at hand, it is difficult to answer the honorable senator’s question about the status and constitution of the National Health and Medical Research Council. I undertake to supply that information to him. In general terms the council is comprised of the State Directors of Health, specialists from various colleges and the like. As far as my memory serves me, the quotations made by Senator Wright are correct. He asked whether my advisers agree with the council’s recommendations. I cannot answer that question categorically, “ yes “ or “ no “, without consultation; but I do know that the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council, being opinions of very learned men, cannot be disregarded. However, there are also other factors which prevent me from giving a categorical answer. For instance, expert opinion available to us is that smog is a contributing factor to lung cancer. I suggest that the best service we can do for the people of Australia on this matter is to let the younger generation know the opinions of people who are well equipped to express them on this subject. When persons reach maturity and make their own decisions, that is their responsibility. At this time there is a divergence of opinion which prevents one from being completely dogmatic. The suggestion to refer the matter to a Premiers’ Conference is a good one, and I will give it some consideration.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Health by stating that recently a child died following an error in the dispensing of a prescription. The suggestion has since been made that doctors should state the age of the child when medicine is being prescribed as this would give the pharmacist a double check if there were any doubt about the interpretation of the hieroglyphics written by the doctor on the prescription. Does not the Minister consider that the writing of the age of a child on a prescription would be a wise precaution and that such a practice could well be recommended to all members of the Australian Medical Association? If so, will the Minister put the suggestion before the National Health and Medical Research Council?
– The Commonwealth has very limited jurisdiction over the activities of the medical profession. The interests of the Commonwealth are confined to the doctors who have agreements with us under such arrangements as the pensioner medical service scheme. 1 think that the honorable senator’s question should be directed to the State Minister for Health concerned.
– They are doing this in the State. I am trying to get it on to a Commonwealth basis.
– I am not in a position to give the honorable senator an authoritative opinion concerning the inclusion of the age of a child on a prescription. As a layman, I would think that would make sense; but, on the other hand, I would think that the doctor when writing the prescription would take into account the age of the child and write the prescription accordingly.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Subject to the availability of the President of the Senate, would the Minister discuss with the President and1 officers of the C.S.I.R.O. the practicability of installing modern electronic voting devices in the Senate chamber? Many legislative chambers in other places already employ such devices. This would have the effect of reducing substantially the time taken on divisions. Does not the Minister agree that such additional time could then be directed towards more gainful contemplation of legislative problems?
– I should imagine that the question of whether or not modern electronic voting devices should be installed in the Senate would be one for you yourself to decide, Mr. President, assisted by any one you chose to brins into consultation.
I am sure that if a decision on those lines were made and the C.S.I.R.O. officers were asked to assist in such an installation, they would be happy to do so. I can only express my own hope .that when that happens, the votes are recorded on this side of the House as a majority.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by saying that some time ago the Department of Trade informed me that 740 Australian companies were operating 1,100 franchise agreements which limited the scope of Australia’s trade, our attempts to build up exports and, thus, our trade balance. In view of the difficulties that are being experienced by the Minister for Trade in negotiating new trade agreements and the delay in the introduction of the restrictive trade practices legislation, will the Government consider introducing special legislation to deal specifically with this most undesirable practice of restricted franchise arrangements under which large overseasowned Australian firms are operating, many under the shelter of tariff preferences?
Senator O’Byrne has directed attention to what is by no means an easy problem. It has been the view of my colleague, the Minister for Trade, that, nationally, we would obtain great benefit if we could reduce or eliminate the franchise arrangements. I hesitate to talk in legal terms, but my recollection is that it would not be possible for us to legislate in this matter because constitutional grounds would prevent such a policy being adopted. I point out to Senator O’Byrne that one would need to think carefully before putting a prohibition upon arrangements of that sort, because, if it were to be the policy that there should be no franchise arrangements, it would be competent for companies concerned to put their factories in some adjoining country and not in Australia. It is the policy of the Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade to make representations constantly bringing to the attention of companies manufacturing in Australia the Government’s desire that limited franchises should be reduced as much as practicable.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister read reports of a statement by the Professor of Geography at the University of Sydney, Professor G. H. Dury that Australia could not afford a steady drain on its resources of mental ability, and that a one-way movement of university graduates from Australia to other countries would be disastrous? Does the Minister agree with the professor’s statement, and is it one of many such statements by informed persons in public life? If the Minister does agree with the statement, will he inform the Senate whether he has any detailed information of the extent of this wastage and the reasons for it? What consideration is the Government giving to this problem of the loss of some of our best brains overseas?
– I do not recollect having seen the particular statement to which the honorable senator has referred, but, as he has said, there have been many others on the same lines. Of course, every one deplores a brilliant Australian mind going overseas, but we must temper that feeling with the thought that, no matter how good an Australian intellect or mind might be, more often than not it is improved by some overseas experience. So the real measure of this problem is what proportion of such intellects goes overseas and stays there permanently. I do not know how one measures that proportion. I merely express a blanket view that the extent of Australian development and growth and the degree to which Australian universities are increasing in size make the problem a lesser one than it was a few years ago.
– The Australian National University is stopping the drift, too.
– A very practical illustration is to be found in my own portfolio. When we commenced the research establishment at Lucas Heights, a great number of scientists who were previously engaged in this field overseas came back to Australia. I think that is happening. Generally, this is the sort of thing to which it is not easy to provide an answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development and preface it by saying that I realize we cannot dp anything to change Government policy at any time, much as the Government might dislike hearing the facts concerning its policy.
– Order! The honorable senator should ask his question.
– Will the Minister inform the Senate how many of the 2,471 ex-servicemen who have been threatened with eviction from their homes during the past three months are unemployed or have been unemployed over the past six months? Will the Minister consider passing the word on sympathetically to the head of the War Service Homes Division to take into consideration, when dealing with these evictions or threatened evictions, that these ex-servicemen, like all others in Australia, suffered severely in the credit squeeze which was the outcome of the Government’s policy in recent years?
– I take a point of order, Mr. President. The honorable senator has been quoting from a document. I direct your attention to Standing Order No. 364, which states -
A Document quoted from by a Senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to ‘be laid upon the Table; such Order may be made without Notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the Senator who has quoted therefrom.
I move -
That the document be tabled.
– I lay the document on the table.
– I should like to reply to the question. There is a misunderstanding of this situation. What has happened is that, following a Public Service Board examination and review of procedures, there has been an acceleration of notices being sent out. These are not eviction notices. These are notices saying, in effect, that unless the arrears are paid the director will enter and take possession. But the director must go to a court to obtain authority to do that, and that takes from six to eight months, during the whole of which time the account is under review.
The figures that have been given to me show that there has been no increase in evictions. If I have the figures, I assume that Senator Fitzgerald had them also, but he did not cite them fairly, of course. He cited the figures for party political purposes only. The actual evictions in New South Wales in 1962 were thirteen for January, ten for February and thirteen . for March; in 1963 there were ten for January, fifteen for February and sixteen for March. Honorable senators must remember that there are many thousands of war service homes in New South Wales and that the practical position is that some of these homes are deserted. People leave them because of domestic difficulties and things like that. So I hope there will not be a song and dance in circumstances that would not justify such action. I think I should quote from a recent report to me from the Director of War Service Homes. He said -
I would like to emphasize that there has been no change in the policy for dealing with arrears cases. Existing policies are merely being applied more efficiently. The division is continuing to deal with individual cases of hardship with the greatest degree of sympathy and understanding, and in cases where an eviction does occur it is only the result of a tenant’s persistent and deliberate failure to pay his instalments over a lengthy period in circumstances which are always thoroughly investigated before final action is taken.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development and relates to the fact that Moonie well No. 15 has struck oil. Can the Minister advise me of the significance of the increase in the size of this field that has been revealed and say what proportion of Australia’s requirements can be obtained from the field?
That is a 64-dollar question which the company itself is not prepared to answer. This is not, in my judgment, a case of concealment of facts. I have talked to the company officers concerned. They say that the procedure is to keep drilling holes to delineate the field. Until this delineation programme has been completed, and until they have had experience of the oil flow from some of the holes, it is not practicable to give any estimate of the size of the oil deposit. They can only say, in general terms, that, geologically speaking, the size of the deposit is not big by world standards. However, the company is going ahead with the building of a pipeline, confident that oil deposits other than those at Moonie will be found and that they can be serviced by the same pipeline.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 335), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. President, in the few moments that I had last night to discuss this bill I mentioned that during the past seventeen years Australian scientists have made a great contribution to our knowledge of astronomy. I said also that a great deal of emphasis was being placed on this speculative and very interesting study and, because of this, it was wise for the Government to include meteorological observations in this bill. Man is exploring the nature of space in relation to our earth with an intensity and earnestness surpassing all previous studies.
Speaking as a layman, it seems to me that in Australia we have three distinct groups of scientists. I shall call them the university group, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization group, and the group consisting of Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science. To an outsider, reading some of their reports, it would seem that these groups have different approaches to the study of astronomy and meteorology. Be that as it may, I believe that the groups are in accord on one basic principle, that is, to create and foster among the Australian public a great interest in the fascinating and rewarding study of astronomy.
The 1960 report of the Australian National University, under the heading “ Department of Astronomy “, stated that in 1957 the department had set a goal of six Austraiian scholars and two overseas scholars studying at the Mount Stromlo Observatory. In 1960 there were five Australians and two people from overseas studying there. The Australians were Messrs. R. A. Bell, I. J. Danzijer, D. J. Faulkner, J. A. Graham and J. B. Whiteoak, and the two people from overseas were Messrs. D. Sher and R. R. Shobbrook. The 1961 report states that the doctoral theses of Mr. R. A. Bell and Mr. J. B. Whiteoak were completed, that Mr. Bell’s thesis was accepted and that Mr. Whiteoak’s was being examined. The report further states that, by 1963, five other theses should be completed. Among the writers will be Mr. D. J. Faulkner, Mr. R. R. Shobbrook and Mr. J. A. Graham.
Earlier this morning we heard questions being asked about scientists leaving Australia. I suggest that Australia should retain its scientists, particularly in the field of radio astronomy. We must remember that the scientists have a duty to Australia. Those who go overseas are able to do so only because Australia has given them the opportunity to take their doctorates, or other high degrees, in the subjects in which they have studied. The individual, in his mind and in his heart, should feel that, after he has had overseas experience, he should return to Australia to give us the benefit of his knowledge, because if it were not for the fact that he had been able to study at institutions in this country he would not have been able to go overseas. With our expanding economy, there are many opportunities for scientists. I do not intend to argue with our learned friends and the people who hold degrees, but I contend that people go overseas primarily to acquire a little more knowledge so that they may come back to Australia and get better jobs with higher pay. I do not want it to be thought that I object to scientists and others going overseas. As I have said, we should endeavour to retain our scientists, particularly those who are interested in radio astronomy.
We all are aware that there are shortlength visible rays of light and that certain objects in space radiate long-wave lengths. Radio astronomy has helped us to locate objects the existence of which we had no previous knowledge. It is pleasing to know that Australia is receiving overseas support in the field of radio astronomy. An example which comes to mind is the recent donation by the United States National Science Foundation of 200,000 dollars, or more than £89,000, to the University of Sydney for its Mills Cross radio telescope situated at Hoskinstown, 17 miles northeast of Canberra. This Mills Cross radio telescope may be called a listening post to the stars. The Australian public should know that the United States National Science Foundation to date has provided 599,000 dollars, or £267,000, for this project. The Mills Cross is an Australian invention and is being developed by members of the Department of Astronomy of the Australian National University and technicians of the Bureau of Meteorology. It will make possible a sky probe into the nature of space and the universe.
This new knowledge that we will derive from work with the Mills Cross emphasizes the pressing need to correlate the results of radio astronomy and optical astronomy. Professor Bok has made a plea for the purchase of a large optical telescope. On 22nd August, 1962, according to the Canberra “ Times “ newspaper, he said that Australia needed its own optical telescope of at least 120 inches. Since then, I believe he has stated that an instrument of 150-in. aperture would be preferable. If such a telescope were to be obtained, Australia would have an instrument equal to any now being planned in the world. There are worldwide schemes to instal large telescopes in the southern hemisphere. It may be asked why a large telescope, costing £7,000,000 or more and taking ten years to build, is being advocated. I think the answer lies in the fact that the largest telescopes in the world, of 100 inches and 200 inches, are situated at Mount Wilson and Mount Palomar, in the United States of America. These were installed more than 30 years ago, but they are still leaders in this field. I think I am right in saying that Senator Hannaford has seen at the Corning glass works in New York State the first 200-in. telescope to be ground. Unfortunately, it developed a flaw. To produce a 200-in. telescope, 16 feet thick, was a remarkable achievement. Of course, we are familiar with Coming-ware products on the Australian market.
Australia is in a unique global position in respect of one great astronomical feature. I refer to the Milky Way, the centre of which is above this continent. A great deal has been said about the Milky
Way. A study of the large and small Magellanic clouds may be undertaken only from the southern hemisphere. I do not intend to delve into that matter, but if honorable senators read articles published in the reports of the Australian National University they will see that it is hoped to gain certain knowledge from the study of those clouds. As Senator Tangney stated last night, there is a shortage of telescopes in the southern hemisphere. We have only one-fifteenth of the number of telescopes to be found in the northern hemisphere. For that reason, there is an urgent need for us to obtain suitable telescopes. As other speakers in this debate have mentioned, the location of astronomy stations is important. Cloud and atmospheric disturbances are two important considerations. Senator Tangney said that many sites had been inspected with a view to establishing stations. I shall mention only three in passing. First, there is Mount Singleton, 200 miles north-east of Perth, and 2,300 feet high. Secondly, there is Mount Woodroffe in South Australia, which is 4,700 feet high, and thirdly, there is Siding Spring Mountain, near Coonabarabran, in New South Wales, which is 3,820 feet high. The Mount Stromlo Observatory has already selected Siding Spring Mountain as the site for a field station and is installing there a 40- inch reflector and several other telescopes.
The absence of night cloudiness, and the results of comparative tests for astronomical viewing, are factors which have an effect on site selection. It is interesting to note that the expedition to Mount Woodroffe was made possible by the co-operation of the Weapons Research Establishment and a group of aborigines from the Ernabella mission. The Main Roads Board of Western Australia constructed seven miles of track suitable for Land-rover vehicles in virgin scrub country in order to reach the summit of Mount Singleton. Shire councils and other bodies such as the Goldfields Industrial Council and the Kalgoorlie
Rotary Club also assisted in the project.
Let us turn for a moment from astronomy to the subject of meteorology. The establishment of the World Meteorological Organization as a specialized agency of the United Nations was achieved in 1951. In 1961 the first World Meteorological Day was set aside to remember the contribution that the world’s meteorological services had made towards human welfare. The third annual World Meteorological Day was celebrated on 23rd March last, the emphasis being upon the application of meteorology to aviation. In Australia we have sparse data areas from which it may be years before upper air information is available to us.
The World Meteorological Organization has prepared a world map which shows the geographic density of stations that are making observations of the vertical distribution of pressure, temperature, humidity and wind structure. The network of such stations in Australian territory is the most dense in the southern hemisphere. Australia conducts radio sonde ascents to 100,000 feet, which is higher than the level at which most aircraft operate. It is interesting to note that the central training school of the Bureau of Meteorology trains meteorologists to the standard that is laid down by the World Meteorological Organization. In nearly every case, before these men enter upon the specialized course they have graduated as Bachelors of Science.
On the subject of forecasting air turbulence, the Bureau of Meteorology is in the course of establishing weather watch radar at the larger airports. The bureau prepares monthly statistical summaries of conditions of low cloud and low visibility. In 1962 the following aerodromes were closed for periods longer than one hour due to poor visibility and cloud: Brisbane, on 43 days; Melbourne, on 41 days; Hobart, on 35 days; Adelaide, on 27 days; Sydney, on 18 days; and Perth, on 4 days. On 5th February, 1963, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) announced that during the next four years 25 weather radar units would be purchased and established at a cost of £1,000,000. The design and development of the radar equipment was the result of outstanding work performed by meteorologists and engineers of the Bureau of Meteorology in collaboration with manufacturers. These units will measure the speed and direction of winds up to a height of 120,000 feet. A radar unit, which will cost £60,000, for research into rain intensity, is to be installed at the University of Melbourne. It will have an effective range of 200 miles.
In March, 1960, the International Geophysical Committee decided that, as the world-wide studies of the Geophysical Year, which covered the period from 1957 to 1959, had been so successful the period 1964-65 should be nominated as a period of further study. It will be known as the International Year of the Quiet Sun. A great deal of meteorological study will be undertaken during this time. Atmospheric pressure, air temperature, and the ozone content of the stratosphere and mesosphere are some of the subjects which may be studied. They are matters of great concern for other research students. Perhaps a’ meteorological rocket programme on a synoptic scale may be undertaken during this period, too.
Information from the satellites Tiros I, Tiros II, and Tiros III is disseminated throughout the world by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Australian co-operation is sought in investigating the potential use of meteorological satellites. It is interesting to note that Mr. W. J. Gibbs, the Assistant Director of the Bureau of Meteorology, is a member of the expert panel of the World Meteorological Organization. Mr. G. T. Rutherford, the Supervisor of the Central Analysis Office of the Bureau of Meteorology is a member of the Committee of Synoptic Meteorology, which is a committee of the World Meteorological Organization, and investigates methods by which satellite cloud photographs could be used in forecasting.
I mention those few facts to indicate some of the activities that are being undertaken by our Australian scientists in the fields of astronomy and meteorological research. I support the bill. May it induce honorable senators to make greater efforts to assist Australian scientists to maintain and even enhance their high reputation in the world of science, and to retain their services for Australia.
.- I rise only to express my pleasure that the Government has introduced legislation which is designed to extend the jurisdiction of the Australian National University to give greater scope for the sterling scholarship and services of Dr. Bok. His services and scholarship are an inspiration to every one with whom he comes in contact.
– As this is a progressive bill, the Opposition supports it. It is eminently desirable that the authority of the Australian National University should be specifically determined. When we think of the men who have been associated with astronomy and allied sciences in this country, we must extend to them a large measure of gratitude. We revere their names. Names that readily come to mind in this field are those of Pawsey, Mills, Bowen, Dr. Bok of the Mount Stromlo observatory, and Sir Richard Woolley, the Astronomer Royal, who enjoys a world-wide reputation. Sir Richard visited Australia not very long ago.
Two sciences, astronomy and meteorology, are embraced in the measure we are discussing to-day, both of them being of extreme value to the community and the nation. We know that Dr. Bok is particularly interested in the field of optical astronomy. He is seeking to have established a southern Commonwealth observatory as a co-operative effort on the. part of the United Kingdom, Australia and, if possible, other Commonwealth countries. This co-operation would be necessary, because the installation and adequate staffing of the necessary instruments would require the expenditure of comparatively large sums of money.
As honorable senators know, five European nations - West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France an J Sweden - have combined to establish a large telescope, possibly in South Africa or South America. The United States of America proposes to set up a large telescope in South America. I think it has become more than ever necessary, indeed urgent, that the Commonweal.h countries should take a lively interest in the field of astronomy and the field of meteorology. Actually, wc are more concerned in this debate with our own university, and with Mount Stromlo, which is associated with it. Our particular problem is the specific site on which any subsidiary establishment might be erected. A considerable amount of investigational work has been done with a view to determining which of the sites mentioned by Senator Mattner is most suitable for the installation of the equipment in which Professor Bok is interested. That installation includes a 150-in. reflector with a building to house it, costing something between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000, a large telescope with a suitable building and smaller telescopes for other observations. These, too, will require suitable housing. He estimates that the cost of operating this equipment will be somewhere in the vicinity of £170,000 a year. His recommendation should be given serious consideration and I hope that it will be put into effect in the very near future.
I have no feeling of partiality about the site. Like Senator Tangney, 1 do not advocate an.y particular State. I am more interested in the scientific side of the question and, like Senator Tangney, 1 am not parochial. Indeed, it is a characteristic of most honorable senators on this side of the chamber that they do not make a parochial approach to important questions.
The Mount Stromlo Observatory has done excellent work. As Senator Wright has pointed out, Professor Bok enjoys an excellent reputation. He had a world-wide reputation before he came to us, and Australia is indeed fortunate in having obtained his services. He has taken a great interest in the branch of science he has chosen to follow and has made certain recommendations to the Government. It is interesting to note that on one occasion he recommended the establishment of a national science foundation to embrace all branches of science. Australia has great reason to be grateful to the scientists she has produced and to those who have come here from overseas. Australia has every reason to be proud of its own organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which, as every one knows, has made a wonderful contribution not only to our primary but also to our secondary industries. It is continuing to do excellent work in this direction, and its activities should be expanded. The expenditure incurred by this organization should not be grudged by any one.
When considering the establishment of a national science foundation it must be remembered that the C.S.I.R.O. does specific work. It is concerned only with special tasks entrusted to it and for that reason its activities are often limited in that it cannot engage very widely in the field of theoretical research based on pure knowledge. I think Professor Bok visualizes the establishment of an organization in which research students may be trained in all the activities associated with the field of pure scientific research.
I suggest that we might take a lesson from- and emulate what has been done in Belgium where a national science foundation has been established. Other countries have similar establishments. The Belgian foundation was set up on endowment funds, lt is attended by a large number of students, most of whom are graduates. It also has some brilliant undergraduates who are in the last year of their respective courses. They are paid a salary and are trained in research by scientists of worldwide reputation. These students are under no contractual obligation to the government for their training. After having served a certain period of training, they ar: permitted to go either into private enterprise or into service with the government if opportunities are available for them in the field of research. 1 repeat these students are under no obligation stemming from financial assistance or grants made to them. We in Australia should give serious consideration to the setting up of a similar foundation, for we have an obligation to expand our primary and secondary industries in the interests of future settlement and development. Science has made a great contribution in the past and it will make a greater contribution in the future if we have sufficient men trained in the field of scientific research. For that reason, I think industry has a responsibility to make some contribution towards the setting up of such a foundation, and Professor Bok is to be commended for the suggestion he has put forward. We in Australia have no: been niggardly in the past. We have done a great deal, but we all realize that more will have to be done. We all realize, too, that the Government is saddled with great obligations in connexion with the expenditure of public funds. There are many calls on those funds and the need for expenditure on various activities must be kept in its proper perspective. At the same time, we have an obligation to prepare for the future. When we appreciate the great monetary value of the contribution made by C.S.I.R.O. to industry, we must admit that money spent on scientific investigation and research is money well spent, for it not only returns great financial benefits but also adds to the welfare of the people who live in Australia and furthers the development of this country.
Astronomic research is not confined to what is being done at Mr Stromlo and the Australian National University. Senator Mattner has given us some interesting information with relation to scientific work being done throughout the world and the standing of our meteorologists. Most of our universities are engaged in research, mainly in the field of radio astronomy, but Professor Bok is particularly interested in the field of optical astronomy. The University of Sydney has done great work in this field and is ranked as one of the great universities of the world. The Melbourne University is also doing good work in this direction. Almost every university is carrying out research in this field and, for that reason, I suggest that the Government should seek the aid of the United Kingdom Government in establishing an observatory in the southern hemisphere. I feel that with the assistance of the United Kingdom Government we would have every reason for expecting better results, not because our own men are inefficient or inferior in knowledge but because it is only by co-operation between great minds that we can achieve the best results. When we remember the great men there are in England and when we look at the great men engaged in this field of astronomy in Australia v/e do appreciate that, with cooperation between the two bands of men, we would be justified in expecting reasonably great results. If other countries, in particular such war-torn countries as West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium, can spend large sums of money on this work, surely we should face up to our responsibilities.
Everyone must admit that meteorology is extremely important to climatology, for there can be no denying that the anticipation and, if possible, betterment or regulation of climatic conditions is of vital importance to the whole world. We know that already our scientists are seeking to produce rain by seeding clouds with iodide. Occasionally rains have fallen immediately after seeding operations, but our scientists are not yet sure whether those rainfalls were merely coincidental or whether they have stood in the relationship of cause and effect. When we consider the tremendous amount of physical damage done by, and even the loss of life resulting from, cyclones, tornadoes, and so on, we get some appreciation of how important it would be to us if meteorological research could make some contribution towards the effective regulation of climatic conditions. I think that we should assist the scientists in this particular field to the greatest extent possible within the limits of our financial resources. In view of the part that rain plays in primary production, particularly in the pastoral and agricultural industries, we should be making every contribution to efforts to regularize rain and to precipitate it at such times as to achieve maximum production. As Senator Mattner said, our meteorologists enjoy a world-wide reputation.
The Opposition is in favour of the bill. The Minister, in introducing it, stated that the Commonwealth’s role in relation to universities, except in the Australian Capital Territory, was somewhat doubtful. If the Government did see fit to acquire land and establish a university in any State, it would be received with open arms. If the Commonwealth said, “ We will build, completely equip and staff a university in one of the States “, there would be a rush of States offering sites for the purpose. The Government very often adopts a parsimonious attitude to education. It says, in effect, “ We provided £55,000,000 for universities and over this triennium we propose to provide £105,000,000”. But it has been parsimonious in the broad field of education, bearing in mind its enormous revenues. Virtually, it will not face up in any way to its responsibility towards secondary education. I know that in the Australian Capital Territory it has made available, interest-free, to independent schools some comparatively paltry sums of money. Elsewhere it has done nothing for secondary education and, of course, primary education is anathema to it. All that it does is to shelter behind, and constantly repeat, the statement that primary and secondary education is a responsibility of the States and not of the Commonwealth. Under that cloak, it hides. It knows that if it can go into the field of university education it has every right to enter the fields of primary and secondary education and take responsibility for them. Does the Government think that any State would object to a contribution being made by the Commonwealth to assist primary and secondary education in that State? The Commonwealth could determine the basis of the grant, just as it has done in recent years in relation to grants to universities. The Commonwealth entered the field of university education simply because no one could be so blind as not to see that university education was in imminent danger of collapse. That was the only reason for the Commonwealth’s entry into the field.
We know how long the Government took to increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships for attendance at universities. The Commonwealth scholarship system was established by the Chifley Government. We remember for how long the present Government deferred the raising of the financial allowance to students, and even now it is parsimonious in granting Commonwealth scholarships and the financial allowances associated with them. There is no parity in its system. It determines scholarships on the basis of population, which is unjust to New South Wales, where the percentage of university students in terms of State population is higher than is the case in Victoria. Yet this Government will not agree that universities should receive scholarships on the basis of the number of students attending.
– Why should they?
– Is that not the way to assist in university education? Is the system not designed to assist students, to assist the development of the country and to make a contribution to its welfare? What is the purpose of it? Is it to assist the States or to assist the students? If it is to assist the students, there should be a measure of equity and economic justice associated with the distribution of scholarships. We say that distribution should be in accordance with the number of students attending universities.
– I take a point of order. I submit that this is quite irrelevant to the bill and that the speaker should get up from the gutter to the stars.
– Senator Wright can go back to the gutter. The stars are on this side of the chamber. I have registered my protest. I thought that I would have a peaceful time this morning. I began so meekly, but for some reason which I do not know honorable senators opposite cannot control themselves.
The Opposition supports the bill. We arc grateful to Dr. Bok for the contribution he was made and for his submissions to the Government. We hope that in the future his wishes will be granted and that we shall see established the 150-inch reflector that he desires so urgently. Through it, a real contribution will be made to science and astronomy, in conjunction with research activities in the field of radio astronomy. We know that Australia will thus gain prestige not only in the eyes of its people but also in the eyes of the whole scientific world. Australian scientists have every reason to be proud of the contribution they have made both in their own country and overseas. We have every reason to be not only proud but also grateful to them. I commend the bill to all honorable senators.
[12.42]. - in reply - I thank the Senate for its support of the bill. I do not think any one would expect me to reply to the comments that have been made about the other activities which Dr. Bok has mentioned in the paper that he has circulated to members of the Parliament. I read the paper with a great deal of interest. Having always had a high personal regard for Dr. Bok, I was pleased to read in concise and logical form his thoughts for the future. But we are dealing with a bill for a specific purpose, not with a proposed extension of activities.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I move -
That the Senate appoint a select committee to inquire into and report upon -
This motion has been on the notice-paper for some considerable time. It relates to political representation in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is interesting to note that until 1911 the people of the Northern Territory, with a population then of some 2,000 - a very small number of electors - were comprised in the federal division of Grey in South Australia. Accordingly they participated in the election of a member of the House of Representatives with full voting rights. They voted in Senate elections for the State of South Australia, and, interestingly enough, they had two members representing them in the State Parliament of South Australia. Here was a very small though isolated community with a very high degree of political representation in this Parliament and in the Parliament of South Australia. Since then the history of the people of the Northern Territory has been that from 1911 to 1922 they were entirely without representation of any kind at all. A great deal of turbulence arose in the Territory over that fact, and in 1922 legislation was passed giving them power fo elect a member to the House of Representatives; but he had a very limited right of voting and was subject to limitations in a number of other respects. To-day the Northern Territory has a population of from 45,000 to 46,000 of whom 18,000 are aborigines. The Territory occupies an area of some 500,000 square miles. For a long time now, as I think every honorable senator would know, the people and the legislative Council for the Northern Territory itself have been voicing their objections to the way in which they are governed. A good deal has been said upon that subject already in the National Parliament, and the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory has been very active in pressing its grievances.
At this stage I should like to refer to the position of the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives. 1 have indicated that the right to elect a member was first conferred in 1922. The limitation on voting provided in section 5 of the Northern Territory Representation Act was -
The member representing the Northern Territory shall not be entitled to vote on any question arising in the House of Representatives.
At thai stage there was a complete prohibition of voting. He was not to be counted for purposes of a quorum. He was deemed incapable of being chosen as the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees, and he was not to be counted for the purposes of determining whether an absolute majority was present in the House of Representatives or at any kind of joint sittings between the two Houses. That was the position in 1922. By an amendment of the act in 1936 an additional right was given to him in the following terms: -
The member representing the Northern Territory may vote on any motion for the disallowance of. any ordinance of the Northern Territory and on any amendment of any such motion.
Then, in 1959 the provision I have just read was repealed but was re-enacted along with another provision which authorized the member for the Northern Territory to vote on any question arising on or in connexion with a proposed law that relates solely to the Northern Territory. The right to vote on a motion of the disallowance of an ordinance of the Northern Territory was repeated.
The member for the Northern Territory to-day functions in the House of Representatives with those mere rights. He can vote in connexion with a disallowance of a regulation and on a question of a proposed law relating solely to the Northern Territory. The other prohibition about being taken into account in a quorum, an absolute majority, and as acting as Speaker or Chairman of Committees, still stand’s. So one must recognize that the member for the Northern Territory, in comparison with other honorable members of the House of Representatives, is in a very weak position.
I should like now to indicate the governmental set-up in the Northern Territory itself. Fortunately there is a consolidation of the many Northern Territory Administration Acts up to the end of 1959. Since then there has been only one minor amendment in 1961 which does not affect what I propose to say. I direct attention to several aspects of the principal act. Subsection (4.) of section 3a provides -
The Administrator shall exercise and perform all powers and functions that belong to his office in accordance with the tenor of his Commission and in accordance with such instructions as are given to him by the Minister.
That is by the Minister for Territories. One must see that the Administrator can be used by the Minister for Territories as a mere agent; there is no element of independence about the Administrator.
There is a Legislative Council of eighteen members. It comprises the Administrator - subject to direction by the Minister - six official members, three non-official members and eight elected members. The six official members and’ the three non-official members are appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Administrator. The position is that there are ten nominated members and eight elected members. In other words the council is predominantly non-elected. The next point to which I wish to refer deals with the election of members. Section 4g provides -
A general election of members of the Legislative Council shall be held on a date determined by the Administrator.
It is a matter solely within the decision of the Administrator.
– Are they not elected for a specific term?
– Some of them are and some of them are not. The terms of their appointment are that the six official members hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. As regards the three non-official members-
– What about the elected members?
– I am coming to that. The members shall be elected as provided by this act. That is all it states - that all members to be elected shall be elected as provided by the act. The next relevant clause as I see it provides that a general election of members of the Legislative Council shall be held on a date determined by the Administrator. Subsection (2.) of that section provides that an election shall be held at least every three years. That puts a vast power in the hands of the Administrator.
– The elected members of this Parliament are subject to the Governor-General in the same way.
– The Administrator acts as the dissolver of the Legislative Council.
– He fixes the date upon which the triennial elections are held.
– They are not necessarily triennial. The section as I read it is absolute in its terms that a general election of members of the Legislative Council shall be held on a date determined by the Administrator. Now I see a section which relates to terms of the elected members. This is provided in section 4f which states -
Subject to this Act, the terms of office of an elected member of the Legislative Council commences on the date of his election and ends on the date immediately preceding the date of the next general election of members of the Legislative Council.
– It states that the term shall be a three-year term.
– The provision is as follows: -
Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, the period from the date of a general election of members of the Legislative Council to the date of the next succeeding general election of members of the Legislative Council shall not be more than three years.
So the provision is not for a fixed term of three years. It is determined at the will of the Administrator. The qualification expressed in what I have just read is, if at one election a House of Representatives election is held ‘simultaneously with that of the Legislative Council, the next general election may - but not must - be held at the next general election of the House of Representatives.
The next point to which I refer is contained in section 4q (2.) which provides that the Administrator, or the member presiding in his stead, shall be entitled not only to vote but shall also have a casting vote where there is an equality of votes on any question. So, in fact, of the eighteen members, ten are non-elected and in the event of even voting, one of them would have a casting vote. That makes the difference between the elected and non-elected just so much worse. As to the powers of the Legislative Council itself, one would think it had very wide powers under section 4u which states -
Subject to this Act, the Legislative Council may make. Ordinances for the peace, order and good government of the Territory.
Then referring back to section 4s -
An Ordinance, vote, resolution or question, the object or effect of which is to dispose of or charge public moneys, shall not be proposed in the. Legislative Council except by the Administrator, unless the proposal lias been expressly allowed or directed by him.
So that there can be no origination of a bill to dispose of or to charge public money.
– But that is in accordance with constitutional practice in every British democracy, is it not?
– It does operate generally and there is the power in the executive to initiate. That is perfectly true; but in this instance I am making the point that it rests entirely with the Administrator who again is subject to the instructions of the Minister. I turn next to the o.’her qualification upon the powers expressed so widely, as I have said, subject to that financial limitation, and come to the assents to laws. There are a number of relevant provisions and the matter is dealt with under section 4v (2.) of the act which states -
Every Ordinance passed by the Legislative Council shall be presented to the Administrator for assent.
The Administrator may do either of three things. In the first place, he may assent. Then he may withhold assent or he may reserve the ordinance for the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure, but he has a further power. He may return the ordinance to the Legislative Council with the amendments that he recommends. When the council has considered them, they must again be presented to the Administrator for assent. The Administrator is obliged to reserve certain parts of ordinances for the Governor-General under section 4w. Then, under section 4x (1.) it is provided -
Where the Administrator reserves an Ordinance for the Governor-General’s pleasure, the GovernorGeneral shall, subject to this section, declare that he assents to the Ordinance or withholds assent.
The Governor-General also may return the ordinance to the Administrator with the amendments he recommends. The Legislative Council will then have to consider this and having done that, again present the ordinance to the Administrator who, in those circumstances, must reserve it for the Governor-General’s pleasure. There is an additional provision in section 4y that is relevant -
Subject to this section, the Governor -General may, within six months after the Administrator’s assent to an Ordinance, disallow the Ordinance or part of the Ordinance.
I direct attention to the fact that there seems to be an inordinate time in which to keep an ordinance in suspense. It may go through the process of amendment and return, amendment and return and reservation and return and ultimately the Governor-General can in any event after a measure has otherwise become law with the Administrator’s assent, disallow it any time within six months. I invite the Senate to consider whether that provision and that length of time are reasonable in all the circumstances. There is a requirement in section 4z which states -
The Minister shall cause each Ordinance assented to by the Governor-General or the Administrator, or from which the Governor-General or the Administrator has withheld assent, to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as possible, but in any case within fifteen sitting days of that House, after the date of assent, or after the date on which assent was withheld, as the case may be.
So one sees a complete set of provisions whereby very tight reins are kept upon ordinances that the Legislative Council may pass, and there is quite an unusual procedure whereby the executive officers may amend and send the measures back for reconsideration as amended by them.
I come now to the Administrator’s Council. The Council consists of six persons - the Administrator, two persons who are official members of the Legislative Council and three other members of the Legislative Council, none of whom shall be official members and of whom at least two shall be elected members. So that the only assured area for elected members to sit on the Administrator’s Council is that they must have two. They hold office during the pleasure of the Minister. The functions of the Administrator’s Council are purely advisory and are set out in section 4zb, which states -
The functions of the Administrator’s Council are to advise the Administrator -
on any matter referred to the Council by the Administrator; and
in accordance with an Ordinance under this Act, on any other matter.
So I conclude that the power of the Administrator’s Council is strictly limited to a purely advisory one. I have said that there has been a campaign for constitutional revision in the Territory. That campaign crystallized last year in a remonstrance that was addressed to “ The Honorable the President and members of the Senate and the Honorable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled “. That document, from an important statutory and legislative body, was not tabled in the Parliament. Mr. President announced in this place on 29th August, 1962, that it had been tabled in the Library. I confess my surprise that that was the action taken with a remonstrance from a body of the character of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. I think the document might well have been tabled here, despite the fact that it contained criticism of the Government, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck).
– Why was it in the form of a remonstrance rather than a petition?
– I cannot answer that. If it had been in the form of a petition, I have no doubt that it would have complied with the Standing Orders and could have been presented and read.
– That is right.
– The presentation of the remonstrance was the course chosen by the Legislative Council. It is rather significant that although only eight of the eighteen members of the council were elected members, the necessary majority was obtained to carry the motion in favour of this remonstrance. One of those who subscribed to it was the Acting Administrator of the day. So this document came to us with the full authority of the council, although not with unanimous approval. I think we might well have had it tabled in this place. The remonstrance, when one reads it - and I presume that most honorable senators have taken the opportunity to look through it-
– What was the date of it?
– On 29th August, 1962, the President announced the receipt of the remonstrance and had the document tabled in the Library. Copies were readily available upon application to the Minister. I had no trouble in obtaining one.
The remonstrance reveals the very lively resentment by the people of the Northern Territory of the lack of self-government, the very limited opportunities that they have, the restrictions that are imposed upon them and the inadequate nature of the representation that they are accorded in the Federal Parliament. I shall not ask the Senate to bear with me while I go right through this document. I assume that honorable senators have some knowledge of it. One cannot help but be impressed by the sincere indignation which pervades this remonstrance and which Jed a majority of council members, smarting under a sense of injustice, as they felt, to prepare a document of this character. I invite the Senate to consider the constitution of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and the constitution proposed for the legislature of Papua and New Guinea during the last few days.
– The two cases are not the same.
– No, but they are similar in some respects. They are dissimilar in the respect that most people in the Northern Territory have more political consciousness, experience and maturity than the great bulk of people in Papua and New
Guinea. That, I think, is an outstanding fact. In the one case the great bulk of the people have had experience of this type of democratic institution. In Papua and New Guinea the Government has seen fit, under the pressure of world opinion exerted very strongly through the United Nations Organization, to grant 54 elected positions in the House of Assembly which will have a total of 64 members.
– Representing how many people?
– Something approaching 2,000,000. The number of people, I suggest, has nothing to do with it.
– This is a first step to nationhood. That is an element of the Foote report.
– That is true. That is one of the points of dissimilarity. The people in the Northern Territory are far more capable of assuming some form of self-government than are the people of Papua and New Guinea. That would not be denied. The two populations are comparable in the respect that both are heavily dependent for their finance on the National Parliament. They are equal in that respect. I would say, on the point raised by Senator Cormack, that whilst the Papuans and East New Guineans are being steered, under our national policy, towards complete selfgovernment and unity as a people, those conditions do not exist at the present time. Rather comparable conditions exist in the Northern Territory where, of a population of 45,000 or 46,000, 18,000 are aborigines. Perhaps one-third or more of the population would be entitled to a vote now. The Northern Territory is a mixed electorate. The two territories are comparable in that respect.
It does seem strange - I put this mildly - that, having regard to the nature of the peoples in the two areas that I am comparing, the Government should grant such a high proportion of elected members to the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea, but not at the same time grant a higher elected representation to the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. I merely invite honorable senators to address their minds to this and to contrast the two things. My purpose is not to uphold and fight for the text of the remonstrance from beginning to end, or to press the grievances of the Northern Territory; my purpose is merely to interest the Senate in the problems as they are represented to us - to state a few of them as objectively as I can in the hope that the Senate will see that here is a problem and that here is something that it might well address itself to as worthy of inquiry, worthy of research and worthy of rectification. I would not be ready to propound the answers myself at this minute to the matters that it is sought to refer to a select committee under this motion; I think each one of them would want study. Nor am I embarking on an advocacy of any particular course at the moment. But I would expect that there would be nobody in this Senate who, after looking at the items for inquiry, would’ not agree that every one of them is a desideratum from every viewpoint in the future, and perhaps the not too distant future’, and that the real question is not whether these are worthwhile objectives but when they will be achieved and when they ought to be granted. That is the first question. It is the one great question that the people of the Northern Territory are asking all the time.
We come to the second question: By what gradual steps shall we reach these objectives? It is on this point that I should like to say a little about subparagraphs (a) to (e), which, I suggest, might be the subjects of reference. Sub-paragraph (a) refers to the removal of all restrictions in the House of Representatives on the member for the Northern Territory. That is a big issue. There are arguments on both sides and many matters to be considered. Sub-paragraph (b) relates to the granting of representation in the Senate to the Northern Territory. Again, that is a matter for calm deliberation and a good deal of thought. Sub-paragraph (c) refers to the election of a majority of members in the Legislative Council. Surely, nobody would argue against that proposition, even as at to-day, particularly in the light of the analogy I drew with the bill dealing with the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Sub-paragraph (d) refers to the reduction of time within which ordinances of the Legislative Council may be disallowed. I would not expect to have to argue very hard to convince anybody that the specified period of six months within which a law passed by the council may be disallowed is too long. One could suggest a period of three months or one month, but I have no hesitation in saying that it is worth while to look at this and to decide whether it is a reasonable provision. Finally, subparagraph (e) states - the annual appropriation by the Commonwealth Parliament of a lump sum to be allocated by the Legislative Council for the ordinary annual services and capital works and services of (he Northern Territory.
That involves an important issue. Where the Commonwealth Parliament finds a high percentage of the money that is required in the Territory, one must realize that there must be some kind of oversight and control of the expenditure. It must be recognized, too, that there are more than local purposes to be served by at least some of that expenditure.
At this stage, I wish to refer to page 6 of the remonstrance, where reference is made to the fact that at one time the Legislative Council argued that there were certain functions of an internal nature which might well be committed to it. Those functions are listed as municipal government, traffic, motor vehicle registration, control of roads, provision of community services, licensing, education, public health, stock routes, brands, fauna, building, housing, lottery and gaming, and prisons. I think we could say instantly that most of those were proper functions for local administration. We might have reservations about education, public health and, perhaps, another item or two, but at least it would be truly worth while to look at the situation and to say: “ Weil, why cannot we give them some measure of control in particular subject-matters or fields? If so, which fields? “ That seems to be an inquiry on which this chamber might very well embark.
– On the argument you are pursuing at the present moment, you are moving remorselessly towards the end that there should be another State.
– I would have no objection to that, because I think it is the ultimate end. I do not think that the people of the Northern Territory will ever be happy, as the Territory grows and develops, unless they oan exercise exactly the same rights of State government as do the people of Victoria, Tasmania and other States.
– That is, development to the stage at which they have full participation, under such terms and conditions as the Parliament sees fit.
– The honorable senator is right there. It does not necessarily have to be on a comparable basis with that of the existing States. Under section 122 of the Constitution, this Parliament may give representation upon whatever terms it determines. Even the admission of a new State would not necessarily mean that the new State would be on the same terms as are all or any of the other States.
– But the argument you are pursuing cannot be divorced in context from that ultimate end.
– If we were to give to the Territory a legislative body that could function as does a State Parliament, we might achieve a State in theory, but would we achieve it in practice? I see very little difference between that position and admitting the Territory as a new State, if that were thought desirable. I am not arguing at the moment for the admission of a new State, or on the status of the Territory, either now or ultimately. I have pursued the matter as the honorable senator has raised it. I might indicate that it is not relevant to the submission and the matters of reference that arc contemplated in my notice of motion, which I have now translated into a motion.
We in this Parliament are concerned with the Northern Territory not only for itself and for matters associated with it, but because the Territory is vital to the security of the whole of Australia. Communications, industrial potential and the increase of population in that area all are matters which are vital to the area itself and to the welfare of Australia as a whole. We have no neighbours to the south of this continent, but we have many neighbours and near neighbours to the north. I do not think any of us will forget that during the last war the frontal point of attack for this country was at Darwin, in the Northern Territory. I agree with the view expressed in the remonstrance, that the Northern Territory is the natural gateway to Aus tralia. I think it reasonable to expect that if we are to be attacked at any time by an enemy, the enemy may well make his entry through the Northern Territory, and certainly through the north of Australia. I do not want to segregate the Northern Territory from the north-west of Western Australia or the north of Queensland, but it is undeniable that we have a great airport there and that it is the natural point of entry for aircraft coming into this country. It is a vulnerable and likely point of attack in the future.
I wish to refer to only one. more matter before I conclude, and that is the final provision, in paragraph (5) of my motion, that the committee report to the Senate on or before 30th June, 1963. That certainly would not give the committee time to function adequately. I remind the Senate that this notice of motion was placed on the notice-paper during last year and that in the event of this motion being carried I should expect the Senate to concur in granting me an opportunity to extend the time beyond 30th June, 1963, which would be the obvious thing to do. I mention the matter merely to indicate that, because of reasons for which I attach no blame to the Government, the matter has not been debated earlier. The specified date was selected merely because notice of motion was given quite a long time ago.
I commend to the Senate the motion that I have submitted on behalf of the Opposition. I think that a select committee could make a worth-while inquiry and perform a good exercise, lt is obvious that something needs to be done for a body of people who are very sensible of their remoteness and who are smarting under a strong sense of injustice and resentment. It is not good for them; it is not good for Australia. If a committee of the Senate were to address itself to their problems, we might well find that immediate steps could be taken to ease these tensions, to the betterment of the Territory and the whole of Australia.
– I must say at once that the Government cannot accept the proposal for the appointment by the Senate of a select committee to inquire into the matters that are listed in the motion. As a matter of fact, all the matters that are listed for consideration have been fully considered by the Government on a number of occasions and sometimes by the Government and the Parliament, and at other times, as in the case of the Remonstrance, there has been an opportunity for members to give individual. consideration to them.
In 1958, after a select committee of the Legislative Council had reported on constitutional matters, the Minister for Territories, the Treasurer and the Attorney-General met all the members of the Legislative Council in Canberra and fully discussed the views of the council on constitutional matters. It will be recalled that subsequently the Parliament passed the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1959 and the Northern Territory Representation Act 1959, which made substantial changes in the constitutional arrangements. In 1961, following dissatisfaction at the withholding by the Governor-General of assent from two ordinances, the Legislative Council, by a majority, passed motions which sought further constitutional changes somewhat similar to those which it is now proposed should be the subject of inquiry by a select committee of the Senate. After representative elected and appointed non-official members of the Legislative Council had been given an opportunity to state the council’s views orally to .the Minister for Territories and the Attorney-General, Cabinet again considered the subject fully and decided that, except for giving the council power to define its own powers and privileges, the changes that had been sought should not be made.
In February, 1963 - two or three months ago - the Legislative Council appointed a select committee of five elected members and one appointed non-official member to inquire into and report upon the political rights of the people of the Northern Territory and whether they can and should be enlarged. The matters proposed to be inquired into have already received full consideration by the Government and the Parliament in comparatively recent times, and all the matters referred to in the motion are at present within the scope of the inquiry which is currently being conducted b’y the select committee of the Legislative Council of the Territory.
In regard to the governmental structure of the Northern Territory, under section 122 of the Constitution this Parliament has provided for representation of the Territory in the Commonwealth Parliament by passing the Northern Territory Representation Act 1922-1959, and for the legislative and executive government of the Territory in the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1962. The member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives can vote only on a proposed law that relates solely to the Territory or on the disallowance of regulations made under Northern Territory ordinances. From 1922 to 1936 the member for the Northern Territory had no vote, and from 1936 to 1959 he could vote only on the disallowance of a Northern Territory ordinance.
Subject to acts passed by the Parliament, the Legislative Council has power to pass ordinances on any subject, lt does not have the power of appropriation. Ordinances require the assent of the Administrator or the Governor-General. The Governor-General may disallow ordinances that are assented to by the Administrator. Since 1959, as the result of the amendment I have referred to, the Administrator or the Governor-General has been able, instead of withholding assent or disallowing an ordinance, to return it with recommended amendments.
The Legislative Council was first constituted in 1947 to consist of the Administrator, seven official members and six elected members. In 1959, twelve years later, the constitution of the council was changed to include the Administrator as President, six official members, eight elected members and three appointed nonofficial members. Since 1959 the Administrator has been- assisted in the executive government of the Territory by the Administrator’s Council, consisting of the Administrator, two official members of the Legislative Council, and three elected or non-official members. The Administrator’s Council advises the Administrator on matters he refers to it and on matters in relation to which ordinances require that the Administrator shall consider the advice of the Administrator’s Council before acting. The latter includes all the Administrator’s regulation-making powers. If the Administrator does not act on the advice of the Administrator’s Council, he must state his reasons to the Legislative Council.
It will be seen that, although the political rights of the people of the Northern Territory are not the same as those of a resident of a State, the people of the Territory have a substantial voice in the conduct of their affairs. I shall state the chief reasons for the differences in political rights. The first is the smallness of the population. The population of 46,000, including 18,300 aborigines, lives in a total area of 523,000 square miles. Of the 16,600 nonaboriginal adults, 4,800 are employed by the Government and possibly another 4,000 would be their dependants. Another reason is the limited financial capacity of the Territory. In 1961-62 revenue raised under Territory legislation, including land rent, health and electricity charges, probate duty and port dues, totalled £2,000,000. The estimate for 1962-63 is £2,076,000. Government expenditure in 1961-62 was £14,140,000, excluding expenditure on defence, the Post Office, civil aviation and social services. The estimate for 1962-63 is £16,690,000. There are no separate figures for the Territory in relation to Commonwealthtype revenue, that is, income tax, sales tax and customs duty; but if the difference between the revenue and expenditure figures I have given is taken as the equivalent of the Commonwealth tax reimbursement grant to the States, it represents £264 per head of population in 1961-62 compared with State figures ranging from £32.6 for Victoria to £67.4 for Western Australia.
I shall now refer briefly to some of the matters that are mentioned in the motion before the Senate. Reference is made to restrictions in the House of Representatives on the member for the Northern Territory. As well as having limited voting rights, as has been pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), the member for the Northern Territory cannot be counted for a quorum or for determining the number of members required for an absolute majority for the purpose of section 57 or section 128 of the Constitution, and he cannot be elected as Speaker or Chairman of Committees. There are substantial reasons for this. The number of electors enrolled in the Northern Territory is 14,452. Comparative figures for some other electorates are Kalgoorlie, which is numerically the smallest electorate, 32,539, Melbourne, 34,878; Wilmot, numerically the smallest in Tasmania, 35,310; Bruce, numerically the largest, 86,428; and the Australian Capital Territory, 27,737. The average for Australia is approximately 46,000. I repeat that the total enrolment in the Northern Territory is 14,452.
Factors relevant to the proposal are that if the member for the Northern Territory held the balance of power in an evenly divided House the effect would be to give a disproportionate weight to the vote of the electors in a constituency much smaller than the normal constituency. It would run counter to the spirit of the Constitution which provides that the number of members chosen in the several States for the popular House is to be in proportion to the respective numbers of the people. It would represent a far greater departure from the principle of one-vote-one-value than applies to other constituencies for the House of Representatives. A substantial proportion of the electors in the Northern Territory are government employees, or the dependants of government employees, giving a quite unbalanced constituency.
– How many Government employees are there in the Northern Territory?
– There are 4,000- odd, and there are probably the same number dependent upon them. The present arrangement, while avoiding giving a disproportionate weight to the vote of the electors in the Northern Territory, gives them the substantial benefit of having a member who can speak or direct questions on any subject and who can exercise his influence in the party room.
With regard to representation in the Senate, quite apart from the difficulties and complexities of the constitutional issues that it would raise, it is to be noted that, compared with the 14,452 electors on the electoral roll in the Northern Territory, the smallest number of voters in any State is in Tasmania where there are not less than 185,532. Normally, they would elect five senators at an election, which represents approximately 37,100 per senator. Under the present system of electing senators, the possibility of senators from the Northern
Territory holding the balance of power in the Senate is extremely high.
With regard to the proposal for the election of a majority of members in the Legislative Council, 1 point out that the official members are currently in the minority in that council and the eight elected members already form the largest group. For the Administrator, who has the responsibility of carrying on the day-to-day executive government of the Territory to secure the passage of legislation, he must, under the present arrangements, secure the support of one elected or non-official appointed member, or, if he is to avoid using his own deliberative and casting vote, he must secure the support of two such members. Experience has been that on many major issues the elected members vote as a bloc. The appointed’ members, while not subject to direct government influence, have tended to be more flexible in their views. Having regard to the accepted principle of responsible government that an assurance of majority support in the legislature is a necessary condition of executive responsibility, it would be wrong to make the Administrator’s task more difficult than it already is. An increase in the unofficial majority should not be considered at this stage.
The inclusion in 1959 of three nonofficial appointed members resulted partly from representations from interests with large investments in the Territory to the effect that, because of the unusual circumstances of the Territory, those interests were unlikely to be able to influence, through the normal processes of elections, Territory legislation which affected them substantially. In practice, men representing substantial pastoral, mining and commercial interests have been appointed. The number of elected members should not be increased at this stage at the expense of appointed non-official members. The average number of electors for the eight electorates is 1,806. Individual electorates range from 762 to 2,647 electors. The numbers should not be further split at this stage.
As to the reduction of time for disallowances of ordinances, I point out that ordinances assented to by the Administrator are subject to disallowance in whole, or in part, by the Governor-General within six months of the date of assent. Alternatively, le Governor-General may, within six months of the date of assent, recommend to the Administrator any amendments to the laws of the Territory that he considers to be desirable arising from his consideration of the ordinance. If this be done, the time for disallowance is extended until six months after the date of the GovernorGeneral’s recommendation.
Not strictly within the terms of the motion, but possibly intended to be, is the suggestion that ordinances reserved by the Administrator for the Governor-General’s pleasure may be assented to by the Governor-General at any time, or the Governor-General may withhold assent. Alternatively, the Governor-General may return the ordinance to the Administrator with recommended amendments. These are considered by the Legislative Council, and the ordinance, with or without amendments, is again presented to the Administrator, who must reserve it for the Governor-General’s pleasure. No time limit was placed on the Governor-General’s power of assent or of withholding assent because an indefinite time required by the Legislative Council to consider recommended amendments could intervene. This matter is the only one proposed for inquiry that has not been considered in detail by the Government. The procedures for assent and disallowance were thoroughly reviewed at the 1958 conference between Ministers and members of the Legislative Council. The provisions for returning ordinances with recommended amendments were added as a result of this review, but the time limits were not discussed. The matter is a machinery one which would be considered by the Minister and the Government if representations were made. It certainly does not seem substantial enough to warrant the attention of a select committee of the Senate.
I come now to the last proposal relating to a lump sum grant by the Parliament and allocation by appropriation made by the Legislative Council. There are legal difficulties in giving effect to the proposal in that while the Commonwealth remains responsible for the government of the Northern Territory and the officers employed in its administration remain Commonwealth public servants, the relevant federal expenditure, including the salaries of the public servants, must be appropriated directly by the Commonwealth Parliament. Leaving aside the legal difficulties, adoption of the proposal would place substantial financial powers, including the disposition of a large subvention from the Commonwealth, in the hands of a nonofficial majority of the Legislative Council which has no responsibility for the conduct of executive government.
The proposal also involves the willingness of the Parliament at this stage to surrender its detailed superintendence of Northern Territory expenditure. It is interesting to recall that the Joint Committee on Public Accounts opposed the proposal in its thirtyseventh report, observing that a “ one-line “ grant to the Territory would derogate from the power of the Parliament.
For these reasons, in relation to all of the points listed in the motion before the Senate, the Government rejects the proposal for the appointment of a select committee.
– in reply - If the Senate needed informing on certain aspects of the matter we have been discussing, it has been doubly informed; the Minister and I duplicated quite a lot of information. I should say that the existence of the differences between the Government and the Legislative Council and the people of the Northern Territory, which the Minister has highlighted, is the very reason for the proposal to appoint a committee of this nature. An objective body, outside the fray, could then look at the position at leisure. Unfortunately, that is not acceptable to the Government. I cannot say that I am surprised, but I am disappointed, and I think it would be true to say that that will be the attitude of the people and the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory when they learn of the Government’s attitude to this proposal. They will not be surprised, in view of their past experience, but they will certainly be very disappointed.
I wish to refer to only one other matter now, namely, the Minister’s reference to the electorate of some 14,452 persons in the Northern Territory. I assume that that is the existing roll, including a number of aborigines who have exercised their right to enrol. But the information that was given to me was that the potential that might be expected in the near future, when the aborigines who are entitled to vote enrol, is in the neighbourhood of 20,000. There is a substantial difference between that figure and the figure that the Minister selected for comparison with other electorates. But one does not look merely at bare numbers. I acknowledge their significance and I do not deny the importance of preserving, as far as possible, the principle of one vote one value. But in relation to an area of this type, as remote as it is and of such strategic importance, very special considerations apply. I regret very much to learn from the Minister that the Government is not prepared to support the proposal.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . Nil
– The numbers of “ Ayes “ and “ Noes “ being equal, the question is resolved in the negative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Last May the Parliament passed the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962, which provides for the payment of bounty on exports in 1962-63 of processed milk products, which consist of sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk, full cream milk powder, infants’ and invalids’ foods, malted milk, &c. Until the implementation of this measure, Australian milk processors had been operating at a severe competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis their counterparts in overseas countries where substantial government’ subsidy programmes had enabled the undercutting of Australian suppliers on export markets. Australian processors not only received no subsidy, but were forced to compete for their milk supplies with the butter and cheese factories which were enabled to pass on the bounty to producers. Bounty had amounted to £13,500,000 for each of the previous six years.
The Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962, was designed to cushion the disadvantage suffered by Australian processors when purchasing milk for their export activities in competition with butter and cheese factories and thus to help them to compete with overseas processors in the export field. The act was successful in its purpose of encouraging the export of butter fat in the form of processed milk products, and so in diverting the butter fat away from butter and cheese production. That the act achieved its purpose is evidenced by the export figures for the first seven months of the 1962-63 season. During this period, the exports of butter fat and processed milk products totalled 3,642 tons compared with 2,798 tons and 2,579 tons in the corresponding periods for each of the two previous seasons.
On present estimates, exports of processed milk products for the whole of the current season could represent approximately 6,000 tons of butter fat, compared with an initial estimate of 5,000 tons made by the processors, and actual exports of 4,200 tons in 1960-61 and 3,700 tons in 1961-62. It was expected that the final rate of export bounty on a butter-fat basis, would be about the same as the final bounty rate on butter production. However, because the increase in exports was greater than anticipated, the upper limit of £350,000 will not be sufficient to enable payment of an export bounty rate equivalent to that payable to butter producers. In fact it may be only about 80 per cent. of that figure.
To improve the position for the processors, this bill provides for the continuation of the export bounty on processed milk products for a further twelve months after the end of June, 1963, and for an increase in the maximum amount of bounty from the £350,000 provided for the current season, to £500,000 for 1963-64. The Government expects that the additional assistance for 1963-64 will enable the processors to be paid a bounty rate more closely approaching that payable to butter and cheese producers thus bringing about a more equitable distribution of the bounty over all butter fat products manufactured by the industry.
Because of the world surplus of butter and the quota limitations imposed on its import into the United Kingdom - virtually the only export outlet for large quantities - it is obviously desirable to divert as much butter fat as possible away from butter. Cheese is in somewhat the same position. The Government considers that it can assist all sections of the industry by encouraging this diversion through increased exports of processed milk products. This is the main purpose of the bill. The industry organizations have expressed their satisfaction with the success of the scheme in the current season, and have sought a continuance of the bounty for a further twelve months. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 7th May (vide page 262), on motion by Senator Henty - “hat the bill be now read a second time.
– May I suggest that this bill and the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill 1963 and the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1963 be debated together?
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The Opposition docs not intend to oppose the bills. It should be noted that seventeen of the subjects contained in the amendments have been originated by the Tariff Board and six by the Special Advisory Authority. I should like to comment briefly upon the work of the Special Advisory Authority, Sir Frank Meere. After the 1961 general elections the Government found it necessary to appoint Sir Frank Meere to undertake the type of work that he has been carrying out ever since. He has done an exceptionally good job. I have examined closely every report that he has furnished on his investigations and I have no fault to find with them. The work he has carried out has been of a technical nature and he has performed his duties conscientiously. As a result, Australian manufacturers have benefited. I leave the matter there.
Australia is now at a very interesting and critical stage of its development. We have certainly come a long way since federation. Our present population is 10,600,000. It is estimated that our immigration programme and natural annual increase will increase our population to 12,000,000 by 1970. Therefore, we must look to the development of not only our primary but also our secondary and tertiary industries. For that reason I regard any legislation relating to custom duties to be of the greatest importance. The repeal of existing duties, the introduction of new duties and structural amendments of certain schedules, must have an economic effect. For that reason I regard these bills as being of the greatest importance.
I do not deny that the Tariff Board in the past has assisted Australia’s secondary industries. I am conscious of the fact that the work of the board is of a technical nature. It cannot be left to the Government to fix tariff duties. It is necessary to get a recommendation from an authority which carries out its work with a good conscience and has a deep knowledge of the subject with which it is dealing.
It is very important for the future life of Australia that the manufacturing industries continue to develop and expand, in view of the fact that we have an increasing population likely to grow to 12,000,000 by 1970 for whom we must provide employment and the necessities of life. Therefore, we look to the manufacturing industries. I know that no government can say it will give all the secondary industries all the protection they seek. We just cannot do that; but protection must be provided with the greatest of consideration. Then we must think of the primary industries and it is necessary to consider each of them just as it is necessary to deal with each section of the manufacturing industries when considering customs tariffs.
As is well known, our economy is dependent upon the sale of our excess supplies, whatever they may be and whether they are the products of our manufacturing industries or our primary industries. You cannot have absolute protection for all your industries. You cannot simply pay bounties to certain primary industries and expect to flourish in the future. For instance, when you are going to amend the customs tariff legislation, you have to look ahead and plan ahead because this very often can have the opposite effect to what the amendments are designed to produce. Now we hope to see our secondary industries expand and prosper and if we can do that by increasing the protective tariffs, let us do it.
As I have said, it has to be done with judgment. There is fear in sections of the manufacturing industries about what may happen in the future concerning protection for rural industries. There is a positive fear. They do not know exactly from day to day or from year to year what will happen. I shall mention one of the fears that was expressed to me last week. Industrialization is being carried out in Australia in a slow way, but industrialization is proceeding apace in many other countries. Some of the countries which were in no way industrialized have suddenly realized that they can produce their own requirements. So we live in a world where industrialization is being practised as much as possible.
When we consider any legislation of the nature now under discussion, we have to make a review not only of the local market possibilities but also of other countries. Every country has some form of protection for its industries. This varies, of course, just as industries vary. Industrialization in the Commonwealth varies as between States and of course it varies as between the countries of the world too. Our economy forces us to trade with as many countries as possible. We must rely upon selling our primary produce to those who can buy it.
Let us look at some of the facts. In this case, we are planning to amend twelve customs tariff schedules in various ways. At present, 872,000 males and 272,000 females are employed in the manufacturing industries, a total of 1,144,000. Every one would like to retire at the end of his day’s work with the knowledge that that force will continue in employment and will not live under the threat of unemployment, and that the manufacturing industries will continue to operate profitably. It is to the manufacturing industries of the Commonwealth that we look to absorb the school leavers and other workers. Materials used in the manufacturing industries in 1961-62 amounted to £3,049,000,000. So the manufacturing industries employ over 1,000,000 workers and in obtaining materials, they give further employment in other directions.
Let me leave the manufacturing industries there and take a glimpse at some of the primary industries because we cannot have one industry without having others in support. The dairying industry operates in every State and dairy produce is exported. In 1961-62, butter exported from Australia was valued at £23,500,000. I have referred to the importance of the manufacturing industries, but it was unfortunate that during that year we had a good deal of unemployment in the Commonwealth and the consumption of butter per head of population decreased to an alarming extent. You have to be conscious of these things when dealing with tariff duties. The consumption of butter per head of population In 19.60-61 was 25.1 lb., but in 1938-39 it was 32.9 lb. Over that period of twenty years there was a reduction in consumption of 7.8 lb. per person. Despite that decrease in sales on the local market, in 1961-62 we only exported butter to the value of about £23,000,000. I could go on and show how the consumption of other foodstuffs has decreased. Why that has happened I do not know, but that is the situation. It is, I think, of importance.
In the last financial year the Commonwealth paid £15,900,000 in unemployment benefit. This year it has been found necessary by the Commonwealth Government to make £17,500,000 available to the States to relieve unemployment. Those two figures are of great importance. In one year £15,900,000 was paid out in unemployment benefit, and in the next financial year £17,500,000 was paid to the States so that they could provide work to relieve unemployment.
What will happen in the future? A government is compelled to look ahead and to plan ahead. A proposal was made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) some time ago to establish an economic committee. All these things are of an economic nature. An increase in the customs tariff must have some economic effects. The committee that the Prime Minister had in mind was to be recruited from persons in Australia who had the capacity to do the. work necessary. I want to quote what the Prime Minister said because, evidently, he had in mind the importance of tariffs and so forth. He said” -
The Government has given much thought to these requests-
He was referring to requests for the establishment of the committee - and has initiated inquiries of its own. Ft has found difficulty in seeing that an inquiry limited to the tariff, or any particular aspects of the tariff, would be a sufficient undertaking. Apart from anything else, there would be great difficulty in confining any inquiry to the tariff because that subject is connected with and dependent upon so many other issues.
I could not agree with him more on that statement -
On the other hand, a general economic inquiry, as some have proposed, might have to become inimitably wide, take more time than is justified and by its very breadth, lead to conclusions so broad and vague and qualified as to be of little practical use. We have decided, therefore, to institute an inquiry of a particular kind.
The importance of this matter lies in the terms of reference, which include -
A committee is to be established and will carry out these inquiries. From what I know of the ramifications of tariff duties, it will be some time before anything of a concrete nature is submitted to the Senate.
I mentioned a while ago the fears that some manufacturers have about future tariff changes. Only last Friday there appeared in a Brisbane paper an article which stated -
In a new agreement now being compiled, Japan will have full trading rights with Australia under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Top level negotiations over the extremely important agreement have been completed.
Normal Australian tariff policy will still apply, but quota restrictions will be abolished.
This will mean that Japan will be able to export to Australia more textiles, machinery, chemicals, electrical and optical goods and other items.
In return, the agreement provides that Japan will make important commodity concessions for Australian goods such as dairy produce, processed foods, jams, cheeses and biscuits. They will have free access into the Japanese market - likewise subjected to the Japanese tariffs, but with quota restrictions eliminated.
I was speaking to a director of a company in Brisbane last Friday, and he said that if the tariff duties relating to products of his industry could be slightly modified in some way, he could immediately employ an additional 200 hands. That, I thought, was very important information, and I am confident that it is correct. I know of another factory in Brisbane that at one time employed several hundred people, but to-day it is in the doldrums and its management does not know what is ahead of it. Its £1 shares are sold on the stock exchange for 7s. each, and for several years no dividends have been paid. Of course, that company has fears for the future.
Let us consider international trade, which is the reason for customs duties. They are designed to protect our local industries from competition by cheap labour countries, or countries in which goods can be manufactured more cheaply than in Australia. Let us see what is going on and how our exports are balanced with imports from other countries. To-day we were told about exports of bauxite to Japan from the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory. We were told that about 250,000 tons of raw bauxite will be sold next year, or the year after, to that country, and that the quantity will increase to 600,000 tons by 1970. We know that is going on all the time in the sale of other products to Japan. Iron ore is being exported there; coking coal is going there, and so is wool. In return we are getting from Japan many things that we could manufacture ourselves. I walk through the chain stores in Brisbane and I see them full of crockery made in Japan. I see many classes of other goods that have also come from there.
The time is coming when we will have to take stock of what we are importing from other countries and consider what greater protection can be provided for Australia’s manufacturing industries, because it is on those manufacturing industries that the bulk of our employees will have to depend for employment in the future. During the 1950’s our work force grew at the rate of 78,000 a year. Between now and 1970 it is expected to increase at the rate of 116,000 a year. We are now well into the month of May. We can imagine the difficulty that our manufacturing industries, and all our other branches of industry, will have in absorbing an additional 116,000 persons this year. That is the position with which we are confronted. If we are able, by any means at all, to make more secure the employment of people engaged in the manufacturing industries of the Commonwealth we should unhesitatingly do so.
It is expected that in 1970, when we will have a population of 12,000,000 people, the work force will number 5,000,000. Such a population, of course, will require more industries. While we are thinking about providing protection for the manufacturing industries we must think also of the onslaughts that are being made by mechanization and automation on the employment of people to-day. Those are developments with which we have constantly to contend. I do not propose to continue my remarks for much longer, but I should like the Minister to consider the matters to which I have referred. I do not like speaking about the statement I have mentioned, but nevertheless, it has been published” and has created fear in the minds of manufacturers. I know that some of them are striving to increase their staff but find that, because of certain things that are happening, they are unable to do so. It is of no assistance at all to the people of the Commonwealth if there are developments which are making manufacturers hesitant to employ additional staff.
I do not know who released this information, or how it came to be released. However, it purports to look ahead for the next six months and to tell us what the trading conditions between Australia and Japan will be. If the forecast is proved correct, there will be a greater percentage of unemployment than we have at the present time, and it is for that reason that I am greatly concerned. As I have said, the textile industries in the Commonwealth have been almost ruined because textile goods have been allowed to come into Australia to a greater degree than they should have been. I appreciate that if we wish to sell our primary products to various countries we must buy from them the goods they have to sell. I know, too, that there must be a certain balance in international trade, but the overall consideration all the time is the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. We cannot provide effectively for their welfare unless we also provide for their employment. I have pointed out that there are people entering industry every year and that the school-leavers are coming on to the labour market. The Government cannot continue to increase dole payments, which amounted to £15,000,000 in 1961-62, or to hand out to State governments sums such as the £17,000,000 which it has provided for the purpose of relieving unemployment, without affording greater protection to secondary industries so that the employment of the people may in turn be protected.
– in reply - I was interested in Senator Benn’s comments and wish to reply to some of them. First, I want to thank him for the comments he made about the Special Advisory
Authority. The Senate will remember that there were doubts, fears and differences of opinion about the provision of this adjunct to the Tariff Board. I agree with Senator Benn’s views in this respect. There was no doubt in my mind, at the time we debated the relevant legislation, that the system would work well. I think that the Special Advisory Authority has been a great success and has fulfilled in every respect the function which the Government intended. Many of the doubts and fears which were expressed at the time the legislation was before the House, such as that quantitative restrictions would become the order of the day, have not been borne out. In fact, sane, balanced and sensible decisions have originated from the Special Advisory Authority and, when he was not available, from his deputy.
I am a little at a loss to understand why there should be in the field of manufacturing the inherent fear to which Senator Benn referred, because the major political parties in this Parliament have as a plank of their party platforms, the protection of Australian industry. If an industry is being damaged by a sudden influx of imports it may put a case to the Department of Trade or approach the Special Advisory Authority, and within four weeks the position can be examined. After that, it can be investigated by the Tariff Board, and the board will make a report to the Government and to the Parliament. That system affords real protection to the Australian manufacturer.
The honorable senator mentioned a newspaper article. I can only say to him that no trade agreement has yet been signed with the Japanese Government, although negotiations have been going on. I suggest that the statements to which he referred were merely newspaper conjecture. If it is of assistance to him, I say, “ Go back to Queensland and tell manufacturers that they should wait until they see the actual results of the agreement before they worry about statements in newspapers “. I think that would be “ a wise course to follow. There is support from both sides of the Parliament for the proposition that Australian industry should be protected, and for the system of protection which is based on report of the Tariff Board and the
Special Advisory Authority. I note with great pleasure that the Opposition supports the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 7th May (vide page 262), 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 7th May (vide page 262), 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.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the Senate reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
[4.2]. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
In the Senate and in another place yesterday and to-day three war service homes matters have been ventilated. In two of the three matters there has not been any ministerial action and the criticisms have been levelled against officers of the War Service Homes Division, and their administration. As some press publicity has been given to the matter I thought it was only fair that I should place on record the facts as they have been given to me by my officers.
The first matter concerns Mr. George Hobbs, of Yarra Bay. In the Senate this morning Senator Fitzgerald said that the police report to the city coroner on the recent death of Mr. George Hobbs, an ex-serviceman, of Yarra Bay, Sydney, revealed that when his body was found he was clutching a war service Ar.4 form which threatened him with eviction from his war service home.
– I asked you whether you would inquire into the matter.
– My understanding is that you made an allegation.
– I asked you whether you would inquire into the matter.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.That is another way of making an allegation, really knowing that you are making it falsely. That is what it amounts to. Anyhow, let us have the facts. I want to present them, if I may, dispassionately.
– I hope they are facts. You have not been doing so well in recent days.
– I have not made them up. They are facts I have received from the War Service Homes Division. The facts are that the police called at the office of the division in Sydney last night and saw Mr. Fairweather, who is one of the officers of the division. They told Mr. Fairweather that they had found Mr. Hobbs dead in his home and that in the home were certain papers which bore Mr. Fairweather’s name. The division had never taken any action to recover arrears of payments from this gentleman. He was some £60 in arrears with his payments to the division, but no representations had been made to him. Apparently he was worried about the position, because he called at the War Service Homes Division quite voluntarily in March and undertook to pay £12 13s. 4d. on 1st April, £12 13s. 4d. on 1st May, and £15 3s. 4d. thereafter. The division accepted his offer. There was just the one visit by this man, who was in arrears and who was not being asked to pay. As I said, he made the offer and the division accepted it.
The purpose of the visit of the police to the War Service Homes Division was to ascertain how to go about transferring ownership of the cottage to the deceased’s daughter. No pressure was exerted on this man at all. When one reads the departmental report, one can only come to the conclusion that apparently Mr. Hobbs was a decent chap who went to the War Service Homes Division and, I am glad to say, was treated decently. I am also glad to be able to say that I believe that to be the usual treatment that is accorded people who go to the division. There was no justification whatever for Senator Fitzgerald’s statement on this matter.
– Obviously the police found material which had come from the War Service Homes Division.
– If you want to traduce this man, stand up outside the Senate and do so in a straightforward way.
– I am not traducing him.
– I do not know what else you are doing. You are traducing him. The next case is the one in Wollongong which was mentioned in another place last night. I shall outline the facts as they have been given to me. The loan in question was granted to the man concerned in November, 1961 - about seventeen months ago. That period is considerably less than that mentioned in the allegation of the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney). The first instalment was paid in April, 1962, whereas it should have been made in January. Another two instalments were paid, but no further payments were made for eight months in all. So the situation was that in February, 196*3, the arrears, at the rate of £10 lis. a month, totalled £120. This person had paid only three instalments in fourteen months.
Those facts must be considered against this background: Throughout the whole of this period this man had consistently refrained from answering any correspondence that had been addressed to him. He did not answer the letters that the division sent to him. He never at any stage made any representations to the division claiming either that he was unemployed or that he was ill. He never at any time put any case at all, and he did not reply to the letters that were written to him.
Concurrently with his failing to meet the instalments due to the War Service Homes Division in that period of seventeen months, he owed the local authority £150 for rates. At this stage, he was told that legal proceedings would be taken against him. He ignored that notification as he ignored all the other representations that were made to him. When the court proceedings were held, he did not attend the court. He made no representation before the court and he never at any time made any representations to the War Service Homes Division. The court made an order that he should be evicted on 1st May. He ignored that court order. He was told by the division that the court order would be carried out. He was not at his home when the officers arrived and the officers could not trace his whereabouts. They went to the local police station and to the local post office, but they could not find where he was located. His wife went into hospital the previous day and was there for a day. He never told the division that his wife was going into hospital. It is the division’s usual practice not to proceed with legal action when the person concerned is in hospital. The division had no knowledge that the wife was in hospital.
The officers got to the home at about’ half-past two in the afternoon. He arrived at his home at 5 o’clock. When he arrived’ at 5 o’clock, he admitted that he knew that he was to bc evicted that day. He said he did not go to his home because he did not think that the warrant would be executed. Despite the fact that he was given notification the previous day, he was not at his home when the men arrived and he said he was not there because he did not think the warrant would be executed. When he arrived, he was given an opportunity to nominate, of his own choice, where he would like his household furniture and personal effects to be taken. The report says that the furniture and effects were taken away and that he was not given any opportunity to say where they should go. There is no point in the War Service Homes Division taking the furniture and effects away. The division is not concerned with them. It is concerned only with getting possession of the home. When the man arrived home, he was asked what he would like done with his furniture and effects, and he just refused to nominate a place or to make any request at all to the officers concerned. When he took that attitude, he was asked whether he wanted anything in particular from the furniture and effects and he refused to take anything from them. That, of course, is quite different from and in distinct contradiction of his letter in which he said he was refused any opportunity to do this. We have the two conflicting statements. He says he was not given the opportunity and the officers say that he was invited first to say where the furniture was to be sent and secondly to state what he wanted to take from the furniture and effects for his own purposes. 1 accept the report of my officers. It is simply not true to say that he was refused access to his goods. 1 have not finished my inquiries on this matter, but 1 thought that, in view of the most intemperate statement by the honorable member for Cunningham in another place last night, I should put on the record in the Senate what I believe to be the real circumstances. I have not finished my inquiries because there is evidence in the papers that the wife wrote and made some offer of payment, and actually made some payment. I think that before I make a final decision on this, I should see the correspondence in order to ascertain the actual circumstances. I have as great a desire as any one else to treat people in these circumstances equitably, and I believe my officers also have that desire. My own judgment is that when I see that correspondence I will support the decision that my officers have taken; but I feel a personal responsibility to see the correspondence first.
I recapitulate by saying that this man had been in the home for seventeen months, that he had made only three payments in all that time, that he ignored all the representations that were made to him, that he never at any stage pleaded ill-health or unemployment, that he just completely ignored every representation that was made to him.
He did not attend the court proceedings which the division was forced to initiate. He did not attend his home on the day of the eviction although he admitted that he knew that the division had told him that the procedure was to take place on that day. He simply refused to nominate where his furniture, clothing and so on were to be stored, and he refused to take any of his furniture or clothing out of the van when he was invited to do so. He now writes saying that he asked permission to do so and that the officers of the division callously refused him that permission. Those are the circumstances. I want to make some further inquiries about the position of the wife and, if I feel it necessary to do so, I will make a further statement in the Senate on the matter next week.
I might say that the honorable member for Cunningham sent a message to my office on Friday afternoon about it. I immediately asked the War Services Homes Division to give me the facts and the circumstances. I received a letter from the honorable member for Cunningham on Monday morning asking for an interview. In the meantime, I had received a report from the War Service Homes Division. I had called for further information about the correspondence with the wife. It never entered my mind that the honorable member would make a statement in the House at such short notice on a matter which is of such personal consequence to the ex-serviceman concerned.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) made a very strong personal attack on me last night with respect to another matter, and I want to put the facts with relation to that on the record of the Senate also.
– Was it true?
– I shall put the facts on the record. This is the case of a war service home in Victoria, In 1960, the applicant complained of subsidence in the foundations of the house, which at this stage had been erected for approximately five years. This was five years after it was erected. The usual procedure in war service homes contracts is that the contractor or the builder is required to make good any defects for a period of three months after the completion of the building.. At the end of that three months’ guarantee period - if that is the right term - the owner takes responsibility, unless any defects that arise have been caused by negligence on the part of the division. I think that there might be general agreement that it is not reasonable to expect a builder to accept responsibility indefinitely.
When the complaint was made, there was a careful inspection by officers of the War Service Homes Division, who came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of negligence. It is unnecessary to stress to the Senate that officers of the division do not evade their responsibility; there is no purpose in their evading responsibility. In my experience, they deal with matters in a pretty fair, if not generous, manner.
At that stage, the honorable member for Lalor made representations to me, and I took the matter up with the War Service Homes Division, which then referred it to the Department of Works, asking that department to make an independent examination of the complaint. A complete and exhaustive technical investigation was made, and a complete report was furnished by that department. The Department of Works advised that its investigation ruled out any possibility that this subsidence was due to faulty construction. It confirmed the view of the War Service Homes Division that the defects were due to soil peculiarities of the district. In other words, they were due to a subsidence in the soil. The home was built by the War Service Homes Division on land which the applicant himself had purchased. The division did not buy the land and sell it to the applicant. He had his own land and he asked the division to build on it.
Those are the facts. I have interviewed the honorable member for Lalor on several occasions. Because he is such a senior member of the Labour Party, I extended - I hope - every courtesy to him. In an endeavour to bring this matter to finality, I told him that on the advice of my technical officers I could not accept responsibility on behalf of the Commonwealth. I had no technical advice which justified my accepting responsibility on behalf of the Commonwealth. I confirmed what the War Service Homes
Division had already told him, with my approval, namely, that if the applicant so desired, we would make him an additional loan to enable him to carry out any work that might be needed. If he did not want to do this, he could sell the home, upon which the division would make him a second loan so that he could buy another home elsewhere. If he did not feel like doing either of these things, we were prepared to go to arbitration on the matter and be bound by the arbitrator’s advice. If he wanted to go to arbitration we would, in addition to paying om own costs of arbitration, also pay his share of the arbitrator’s fee. Really, I do not think that I could have acted more fairly than that, in circumstances in which my own technical officers whose opinion was confirmed by the technical officers of the Department of Works, said that the Commonwealth had no liability.
– And that is the idea that the honorable member for Lalor had the impudence to say was nonsense!
The honorable member for Lalor even went further than that by labelling me “ a near crook “.
– Did your department make a test of the land?
The Department of Works made soil tests of the land.
– Prior to granting the money for the foundations?
There is no point in trying to traverse the details. We can only go on the technical advice that we have from the two departments concerned. I believe that in this matter, because of the position of the honorable member for Lalor in the Labour Party, I extended to him every courtesy that I could extend. I thought that I had treated him decently. I thought that I had gone about it in the right way. Now that he has labelled me as he did in another place, I do not feel myself to be under any obligation to extend to him any courtesies in future.
– I have no desire to enter into the facts of the cases in New South Wales; I know nothing about them, except what I have read and what I have heard here. In relation to the case at Sunshine, Victoria, in which, I understand, Mr. Pollard is interested-
– At South Kingswell - is that the same one?
– It is the same. I can say only that I regret that the Minister did not tell me that he would raise the matter. If he had done so, I would have had here particulars of Mr. Pollard’s case. I advise the Minister that I hope to have particulars of the case on the next day of sitting. I know that Mr. Pollard has gone to the trouble of using his own utility truck to bring to this Parliament House a stump that was supposed to be holding up the dwelling. I know of this matter from conversations that I had with him. I happen to sit near him at the morning meal in a certain hotel in this city and he has often discussed this case. I have known Mr. Pollard for a long while. It is true that, as the Minister says, he is a very senior and respected member of the Australian Labour Party. I am certain that he must feel more than aggrieved if he, as reported, used the term referred to. I assure the Minister that Mr. Pollard’s side of the case will be heard in this chamber at a later date.
– Just prior to coming into the Senate for the resumption of the sitting to-day I was handed some papers dealing with the second case - the one at Wollongong - to which the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) referred. I shall not canvass the merits of the case because I have not authenticated the documents, nor have I read them fully; but in the light of what the Minister has said I feel disposed to read one short paragraph from the exserviceman’s letter and to pose a question to the Minister. When these evictions take place is there any social welfare service in the department to probe a case like the one he has mentioned, where the person was completely unresponsive? The Minister has said that the person was informed but took no action and, in fact, behaved unreasonably. On an eviction, is there any kind of social welfare officer to consider the accommodation of a family? If the facts as I have heard them are true this family comprised a husband - in working clothes - a wife, who had arrived at the scene in an ambulance after all the gear had been removed, and two children who came home later. They were all just left on the street.
Does the department consider its job to be finished as long as it has taken the necessary action to enforce payment or recover possession? It seems to me that if the facts as reported are even nearly accurate, there ought to be some such service. The Minister will be dealing with this matter, I understand, next week. I should appreciate it if he would say something about that matter. No matter what the faults of the party concerned may be, one cannot help being sorry for this man and his family in the plight in which they were suddenly left. In one day they were left without clothes, equipment and food and the rest. I shall read one extract from a letter this man wrote to my colleague, Mr. Kearney. He wrote -
My payments fell into arrears, primarily because heavy expenses incurred because of the long illhealth of my wife and the fact that in the past year expenses were incurred consequent upon the death in the year of my father and mother and a brother-in-law. They were Barrack Point residents.
That is where this man’s home is. If those are the facts, we can understand that he suffered deep emotional distress and perhaps needed a sympathetic approach.
I wish to indicate to the Minister that my information is that the sum of £10 per week had been paid by the wife of this man to the department for the three weeks preceding the eviction. It may be that that did not avoid the eviction in cold law. I understand that the receipts were in the house, but that they were taken away with the furniture and everything else. If there i9 any proof of the fact that three payments were made and accepted, and receipts issued, I invite the Minister to state whether he considers, in those circumstances, that it was right to go ahead with an eviction, even with the law on his side, when at least a generous effort of that type had been made. If those payments were made might not the man have felt justified in believing that the eviction would not proceed on the due date? I know that it is not fair to canvass all the facts and I am not attempting to do so at this stage; but the Minister has indicated something of the default of the man so I think at this early stage it is desirable to say one or two words from his viewpoint as expressed in the letter that is before me. I would be grateful if the Minister, in due course when he deals with this matter, will consider the question of a social welfare service, and secondly inform the Senate whether three payments were made.
The only other thing upon which I wish to pass comment is the Minister’s reference to the intemperate terms of the speech of Mr. Vic. Kearney last evening. The Minister seemed to imply that Mr. Kearney should have refrained from speaking at all. However, from what the Minister has told us, Mr. Kearney sent him a note on this case on Friday. The Minister says that on Monday Mr. Kearney handed him a letter. Mr. Kearney says that it was on Tuesday, so the Minister has told something against himself on that point. Mr. Kearney concluded by asking for an interview that day or, at the latest, on the next day, in view of the urgency of the matter. I point out to the Minister that Mr. Kearney made those two lots of written representations. He literally begged the Minister for an interview. His exact words were -
I would appreciate your granting me the opportunity, during the course of this day if at all possible, and if not certainly to-morrow, to discuss aspects of this case personally with you.
He received no communication from the Minister from Friday to Wednesday in a case in which four people were without shelter, food and equipment. Whether it was their fault or not, that was their human plight. I simply say to the Minister that he should not complain in those circumstances about Mr. Kearney taking the opportunity to ventilate the case and the facts as he understood them.
– I take this opportunity to refer to some wildly inaccurate statements made last night by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) in another place on the subject of airworthiness of aircraft and airworthiness standards. He has made allegations in a specialized engineering field that cannot be supported by facts. His allegations are founded on an incorrect appreciation of the airworthiness standards laid down for modern aircraft and the way in which those standards are set. When an aircraft first enters service the airworthiness standards are fixed at ultra-conservative levels. With further tests, operational experience, and modifications the safe life of any component may be extended, and frequently is, but only when it is proven that this can safely be done.
No economic pressure has been placed on my department’s airworthiness experts by the airlines to lower safety standards. To suggest that there has been such pressure is to cast a serious slur on the safety reputation earned by Australia’s airlines. To suggest that there has been a lowering of Australian safety standards as a result of this alleged pressure is also to insult the professional integrity of the department’s airworthiness engineers. It is nonsense to say that pressure has been placed on the Department of Civil Aviation to lower safety standards because of financial reasons. In fact, during this period the department has required the airlines to spend about ?1,000,090 in order to provide in their aircraft additional safety aids such as flight and cockpit voice recorders, airborne weather radar and improved distance measuring equipment. In each case Australia has been in the forefront of world aviation in requiring the mandatory fitment of these items.
Mr. Cairns alleged that former mandatory reskinning of Viscount fuselages after 20,000 hours flying had been altered so there was no total re-skinning except around doors and several other sections. This is incorrect. The pressure shell of the Viscount must still be re-skinned or scrapped when the aircraft reaches the limit of its safe fatigue life. The fatigue life of the pressure shell was originally, in 1958, set at 19,000 flights, not hours, when the aircraft is operated at a pressure differential of 5i lb. per square inch. Pressure differential is the difference between the air pressure inside the aircraft and the outside air pressure. Australian airlines operate the Viscount at a pressure differential of around 5i lb. per square inch and below. As a result of tests by the manufacturers, Vickers, which were’ checked and approved by the British and Australian airworthiness authorities, the fatigue life of the Viscount pressure shell has been progressively extended to 26,000 flights at a pressure differential of5½lb. per square inch.
Each Viscount flight takes, on an average, between one and one-and-a-quarter hours, so that the fatigue life of the pressure shell - if you want to express it in hours - is about 30,000 hours - not 20,000 as Mr. Cairns claims. The extension of the fatigue life of the pressure shell to its present level is the result of years of actual operating experience, modifications including those referred to being incorporated, and years of tests. This system of extending the life of aircraft and their components is nothing new, as experience and tests prove the fatigue life can be safely increased. It has been going on ever since the days of the Wright brothers.
Mr. Cairns’s reference to hydraulics is very generalized. When an aircraft’s hydraulic system is actuated by multiple hydraulic pumps and supplemented by an emergency system, there is provision for the aircraft to be allowed to operate with one pump in the primary system unserviceable for a limited period. This is to enable the aircraft to reach a maintenance base where the defective pump can be replaced. Such approval is only given when it is demonstrated that the remaining pumps are adequate to meet the needs of the primary hydraulic system. The emergency system is independent of the multiple pumps in the primary system. This type of approval is known as permissive unserviceability, and is a long standing and practical practice here and overseas.
Mr. Cairns alleged that Viscount windows, made up of three layers of material, were previously replaced completely when “ delamination “ - in other words air bubbles between layers - occurred, but the safe limit had been extended to 5 square inches and recently to 6 square inches of delamination.
The only windows in the Viscount which are made up of three layers are the cockpit windows. Passenger windows are double perspex. The cockpit windows comprise an inner and outer glass layer with a plastic layer in between. The plastic middle layer is strong enough to meet the full airworthiness strength requirements of the window by itself. If a part of the window becomes delaminated, it is not a structural hazard but it could be an impediment to the pilot’s vision.
This is taken into account in setting a permitted area of delamination. It is 6 square inches in Viscount 800’s. In the case of 700 series Viscounts, the manufacturers have recommended to the airlines that the area of delamination can be increased from 5 to 6 square inches. This increase does not involve any airworthiness consideration.
Mr. Cairns alleged that work had been speeded up and that, as a result, pilots were required to do a little more than they were able to do. The department has always had detailed air navigation orders relating to the hours of duty and flight time which may be performed by airline pilots. The object of these orders is to eliminate as far as is practicable the possibility of pilot fatigue. These orders have always been recognized as being among the most comprehensive of their type to be found in any aviation administration.
The existing orders were recently reviewed and, in the course of this, the department consulted all airlines concerned and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. The new orders have regard to all new types of equipment and to the demands which their operation might place on airline crews. The department has no evidence of any deterioration in the standards of fitness of air crew in the last two or three years.
There has been no relaxation in departmental supervision of the standards applying to the safety of Australian civil aviation. These standards have always been recognized as among the best, if not actually the best, in the world. A continuous check is maintained by highly qualified technical and operational staff over all aspects of aircraft operations and airworthiness standards. In addition, the department itself is currently spending large sums in the provision of new aids like radar for air traffic control, improved airports and better communications systems. There has certainly been no financial pressure applied by the airlines or anybody else to reduce safety standards, and on the record established by the Department of Civil Aviation any such attempt would be futile.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630509_senate_24_s23/>.