25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. I ask him, whether it. is a fact that on 22nd October last, Senator Gorton, who was then Minister for the Navy, said in the Senate, referring to the naval disaster in the vicinity of Hayman Island on 17th October -
A full board of inquiry will be held as soon as possible. … As far as I am concerned, this board of inquiry will undoubtedly be held in public.
Does the Minister agree that the finding of :the board is not only an integral part of “the inquiry but also, from the public viewpoint, its most important part? If not, why not? I ask whether or not it is a fact that the present Minister for the Navy said on Wednesday last -
The report of the inquiry was received by my predecessor and I have seen it. In accordance with normal practice in such matters, it is not intended to make the findings public.
Will the Minister for the Navy take steps to honour the personal undertaking given by his predecessor by making public the finding of the board? On what date was the board’s finding made available to the Minister for the Navy? What punitive or disciplinary measures were taken against naval personnel in relation to the disaster and with what results? What steps, if any, were recommended by the board of inquiry or instituted by the Navy to prevent a repetition of the disaster? Is the Minister aware that failure to publish the board’s finding will create grave misgivings in the minds of the Australian people?
– I wish to clear up one point, and then I shall ask the honorable senator to place the question on the noticepaper. It is correct, as he stated, that the previous Minister for the Navy said that the board of inquiry would be held in public. That undertaking was given and it was honoured. The inquiry was in fact held in public. If the honorable senator will place the remainder of his question on the noticepaper I shall ask the Minister for the Navy to answer it for him.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has he noted that both the manufacturers of the Boeing 707 and 720 jet aircraft and the United States Federal Aviation Agency have recommended a modification which involves the covering of a key area of the outer wings with a thin coating of aluminium and glass cloth, and further, that both the manufacturers and the Federal Aviation Agency have said that this modification will constitute an armour, providing increased protection against penetration by lightning? Has this modification been carried out on the Australian Boeing fleet? If not, is it proposed to do so? When is the modification to be made?
- Senator Anderson was good enough to indicate to me his interest in this matter and I was given an opportunity to consult the technical officers of my department. As a result, I am able to inform him that the modification was made mandatory by the Department of Civil Aviation last year, and it has been fully incorporated in all Boeing aircraft of Qantas Empire Airways Limited.
– 1 preface my question, which I direct to the Minister for Customs and Excise, by reminding him of his visit to the fertile tobacco flats at Myrtleford, Victoria, during which he expressed pleasure at the amazing development of a prosperous tobacco industry, now valued at about £5,000,000. Is the Minister aware that disaster is facing this important Australian industry because poor crop prices in 1961 sparked off widespread dissatisfaction, and leading personalities in the district have clashed over several issues, creating an undercurrent of ill will arid friction between two factions? As this serious tragedy is not a State affair but is of considerable significance to Australia, will the Minister consider appointing an outside mediator - as a suggestion, I nominate Sir Frank Meere, former Comptroller-General of Customs and Excise - to attempt to solve the problem? Is it a fact that an opportunity to sell a considerable .quantity of discarded tobacco leaf to a European purchaser was lost because of the bickerings and the cloak-and-dagger tactics being adopted by the parties to the dispute? Is it also a fact that the State Government has declined to take any action because the State parliamentarians in the district are on opposite sides in the dispute?
– I well remember the very interesting and instructive visit I had to Myrtleford and district and the great, progress made in the tobacco industry since the Menzies Government established the quota system. The honorable senator says that there is a clash of personalities and a dispute between persons in the industry. I think that this situation is being solved by the persons themselves, and that is the best way. When persons in an industry are at loggerheads, the first thing is to get them to solve the matter themselves. There is room for agreement in this matter.
The honorable senator referred to the. rather disastrous year. 1961, when sales were poor. I was under the impression that last year sales and prices of tobacco throughout Australia were excellent.
– There is still in Myrtleford tobacco leaf from the 1961 crop.
– I thought that the industry as a whole was very prosperous as a result of last year’s sales. At this stage I do not propose to take any action regarding this dispute, of which I know something, between personalities in an industry.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy arrange with the Department of the Navy for it to be made a condition of future Navy recruiting that all trainees must be able to swim, as is the case for police trainees and trainees for other vital and important callings? As much public money is spent on learn-to-swim campaigns, would it be possible to make it obligatory for all present naval personnel to be taught to swim in an attempt to avert tragic losses of life through drowning in any future naval disaster? Of course, all members of the Parliament and the nation as a whole pray that there will not be a’ recurrence of the recent naval disaster.
– It would be a very good thing if everybody could learn to swim. There would then be fewer disasters and accidents in the world. If the honorable senator places his question on the noticepaper, I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for the Navy and obtain an answer in due course.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior, who I understand administers the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Is it not a fact that the Australian Labour Party retains the system of preferential voting within its party organization and that as recently as Monday and early Tuesday of last week it spent eighteen hours conducting a ballot under the preferential system? Did the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, at the Brisbane Town Hall on Monday, 18th November, during the recent federal election campaign, say in part in answer to a question, “ We will abolish the preferential voting system “? He was obviously referring to elections for the House of Representatives. Has the Minister any comments to make about the great value in a democracy of a preferential system of voting within its own party room. proved to be so successful in Australia?
– I do not think it is strictly accurate to say that the Australian Labour Party maintains the preferential system of voting within its own party room. Indeed, I am told that it goes a lot further and that it engages in a system of voting known as an exhaustive ballot.
– An exhausting ballot.
– That system applies the principles of preferential voting, but does so in a much more definite and much more exhaustive and exhausting form. If Senator Marriott is wanting to make the point that members of the Labour Party do not believe in the use of the firstpastthepost system in their party room, he is quite correct.
In the second part of his question, the honorable senator asked whether the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party was reported as having said at a meeting in Brisbane that he would abolish the preferential system for federal elections. I believe that he did say so. I was not there at the time, but I have never seen the statement denied; indeed I have since seen it confirmed. I do not think there is much need for me to comment on the value of preferential voting, because undoubtedly most people in Australia are strongly in favour of it. The great point about the system is that it gives the elector a choice so that, if he cannot be represented by the person whom he want’s most, he can ensure that he is not represented by the person whom he wants least, as he was able to do with great success at the recent general election.
– Strictly speaking, perhaps, my question should be addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, but as the subject of it, which has been discussed in this chamber for quite some time, concerns all departments I prefer to address it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Fairly recently representations were made to me by a branch of the Australian Labour Party to obtain extra postal and telephone facilities in a particular area. Following my representations and investigations by the Postal Department, nearly all the things sought were obtained. The reply I received from the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs informed me of this, and at the end of the letter he stated -
The federal member for the district concerned has been made aware of the department’s actions.
The federal member for this area is a member of the Liberal Party. I think you will remember, Mr. President, that this matter has been discussed in this chamber quite often, and I understood that the final reply given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate was that the practice of informing the other federal member would be stopped. Does the practice still persist?
– I well remember the matter being discussed and finality being reached on a basis which I thought was satisfactory to honorable members on both sides of this chamber and in another place as well. I am sorry to say that I do not recollect the details of the arrangement. If Senator Sandford will do me the courtesy of asking the question again to-morrow, I will ascertain the facts in the meantime and give him a more adequate answer.
– I direct a ques tion to the Minister for National Development. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a Reuter’s report from
Tokyo that the Japanese steel industry is planning to send an iron ore survey mission to Australia about May? The mission will survey the iron ore deposits, inland transportation and port facilities of Western Australia. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether this survey is being made with the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government?
– I am well aware of the proposed visit to Australia by representatives of the Japanese iron and steel industry. This will follow representations and visits that have been made to Japan by representatives of the Australian mining companies with iron ore to sell to Japan. At present, Japan is the natural market for our iron ore. In the course of negotiations, an arrangement was made that the Japanese companies would send representatives here to see for themselves the nature of the iron ore deposits and the tasks that are involved in the excavation and extraction, of the iron ore and its delivery to Japan. I have been kept in touch with the correspondence on the proposed visit, and I hope that I will have a chance to meet the group if. it comes to the eastern States.
The visit will follow a pattern that has been set in the past. Japanese delegates have come to Australia to see our coal deposits and handling facilities. Such visits are in the nature of business precautions. The object is to ensure that the ore is of the quality it is represented to be and that the organization concerned can carry out the physical obligations in the contracts. This is normal procedure. It is hoped that the transactions involved will be very large and that big quantities of iron ore will be purchased over a long period of years. It is natural, therefore, for the purchasers to make their own inquiries on the spot. For my part, I think the arrangement is a good one and I welcome it.
– In view of the fact that certain members of the Senate are always very sensitive to any reference to Communist influence in Indonesia, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he can confirm the statement that the leader of the Indonesian Socialist Party, which is the equivalent of the Australian Labour Party, is in gaol whilst the leader of the Communist Party is not only free but also a leading member of the Indonesian Government.
– I have heard, but only through the medium of the press, that what the honorable senator says is so. However, I think the honorable senator’s question should be put on the notice-paper so that a confirmed answer can be given to it in this place.
– I direct a question to the Minister-representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport relating to the shipping service between King Island and Victoria, King Island being, as he knows, one of the principal dependencies of Tasmania. Is the Minister aware of the basis upon which shipping costs were assessed when the new vessel was put into service as recently as twelve months ago by the Houfe company which received a consideramount of assistance by way of government subsidy? Is he aware that last October an increase of receipts was required in order to meet the then apparent losses being suffered by the company on the transport of cargoes, and that negotiations took place subsequently with a view to so arranging the company’s finances as to keep the proposed increase in freights as low as possible? Can he give me an explanation of the announcement made at the week-end that the company proposes to increase existing freight rates by 20 per cent.? What action does he propose to take to see. that the residents of King Island are not required to meet such a steep increase in the cost of a service which is necessary to their livelihood?
– I regret that I do not possess the information which would enable me to answer the honorable senator’s question but I shall refer it immediately to my colleague, who, incidentally, proposes to visit Tasmania al the end of this week. It may . be that he will take the opportunity to say something about the matter during that visit.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. What is the current position with respect to the prices to be paid by the various oil companies for crude oil produced in Australia? Is the development of the Australian oil industry being retarded by the attitude adopted by the oil processing companies? In the Minister’s opinion, is the present position satisfactory? Is Australia suffering from pressure from oil combines and cartels which might have been relieved if the Australian Government had not disposed of its interest in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited at a bargain price?
– I repeat what I have said previously. There is no argument or difficulty about having Moonie oil or any Australian oil refined in Australian refineries. All the refineries in Australia accept that as something they will have to do in the course of time as oil becomes available in Australia, not only from Moonie but also from other fields. All the refineries recognize that this oil must be refined in Australia. I do not think a Commonwealth government interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited would have affected the matter. During the years when the organization was administered by a Labour government it conformed to or joined in with all the existing trade arrangements.
If crude oil found in Australia did become difficult to sell that would, of course, retard the search for oil, but what has happened is only that there has been a disagreement as to the value of the oil. Negotiations are continuing. I saw copies of some correspondence to-day which indicate that the margin of difference between the parties has been narrowed further. A normal commercial argument is taking place on what is a fair market price. The margin of difference has been narrowed and I hope that the parties will shortly make a mutually satisfactory arrangement. When they do so, I shall be glad to inform the Senate accordingly. As the margin has become narrower I think it would be imprudent on my part now to disclose the extent of the difference between the parties. I am in hopes that the negotiations will soon reach finality.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration relates to the type of film being shown overseas which we hope will persuade people to migrate to Australia, or, having decided to migrate, will tell them the sort of things that they wish to know. I have recently returned from overseas, where I examined these films. I ask the Minister whether he agrees that, although recent films made for the Department of Immigration are an improvement on the older ones, there is still some room for improvement from the point of view of the migrant. As television is the most effective medium for showing films of Australia to wide audiences overseas, will the Minister consider having more documentary films made to show to people intending to migrate to Australia, using the newer and less expensive methods of television production? With this in mind, would’ the Minister discuss with his colleagues the possibility of commissioning immediately a British television crew with an Australian director - the director having spent some considerable time overseas and therefore having an understanding of the things that the migrant wishes to know - to produce the first of such a series? As the scripting of such a production is most important in ensuring its success, would the Minister consider sponsoring a competition for a script, which might draw many interesting and unthought-of points of view from migrants already established here?
– I will have great pleasure in discussing this matter with the Minister for Immigration. I am not aware of the type of film to which the honorable senator refers, not having seen the latest films.
– They are all in colour.
– I am informed that they are all in colour. I agree that one of the best mediums for this purpose is television. I believe we should do all we can to get the proper story over to the people who might wish to come to Australia. As I have said, I shall discuss this matter with the Minister for Immigration. If the honorable senator wishes to put her question on the notice-paper I shall obtain an answer for her, but in any event I shall discuss the matter with the Minister.
– Consequent upon the reply that the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior gave to Senator Marriott, I should like to ask him whether or not it is a fact that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is elected under a system of first-past-the-post voting. If that is so, does he think that the Parliament that is generally recognized as the mother of all democratic parliaments is elected undemocratically?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is “ Yes “. The members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom are elected under the first-past-the-post system. There is no doubt whatever that, as a result of the application of this system in the United Kingdom, the electors are not able to avoid having as a parliamentary representative the candidate whom they least wish to represent them. Consequently, it is extremely difficult - unlike the position in Australia - to have three candidates standing for election in a United Kingdom electorate with the assurance that the candidate preferred by the majority of the people will be elected.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General ascertain when it is expected that the coaxial cable between Melbourne and Adelaide will be placed in service? Could the Minister, in due course, let me know what added capacity will result in the field of telegraph, telephone, radio and television services? Will any increased capacity be of benefit to provincial cities and towns in South Australia near the route of the coaxial cable? If so, what cities and towns will benefit?
– I shall be very happy to confer with my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, and supply to the honorable senator a comprehensive reply to the various questions he has raised. I dare say he knows that the installation of the coaxial cable is progressing. I expect that he knows something of the route it will take in passing through areas with which he is very familiar. I shall get for him all the details that I can in answer to his question.
– I wish to address to the Minister for National Development a question which is related to that asked by Senator Cooke My reason for asking the question is that the difficulty that seems to be encountered by oil interests in reaching agreement on a price for Australian crude oil appears to be due to the fact that they wish to value it in relation to imported crude oil. Would the Minister give consideration to diverting all Australian crude oil into a reserve for defence or emergency purposes in view of the fact that Australian crude oil is of higher gravity than the imported product and, therefore, would be better value to the Australian taxpayer when needed for Commonwealth purposes?
This is a matter with which I am in touch from day to day. I think I can fairly claim some credit for having narrowed, by my representations, the area of difference between the interests concerned to the present position. I should need to think long and carefully before sponsoring a suggestion that we should earmark the Moonie deposit for one particular purpose because, above all things else, we want to encourage people to go on searching in order to find additional deposits of oil. We are confident that we have those deposits and that they will be found and we want to make them a good marketable commodity. All such commodities have their value. The point at issue at present is the fair market value for the oil. The disagreement between the vendors and the purchasers now represents such, a small margin that one could anticipate that they will reach finality in their negotiations.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer to my earlier questions in this chamber, which I have asked during the last eighteen months, on the. customs regulations and their requirements in respect of the necessity to mark certain imported goods wilh their country of origin. Does the Minister recall that he directed that cameras and optical goods imported from East Germany should be marked with the words “ East Germany “ and not merely the word “ Germany “? Does not item 2 of the third schedule of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations provide that there shall be applied to an article, in conjunction with the marking thereof, in conspicuous and legible characters, a definite qualifying statement in the English language indicating the country in which the article was made, unless the Minister directs to the contrary? Does the Minister regard the application of an easily removed gummed strip of paper, with the lettering “ E. Germany “ typed upon it, as a sufficient compliance with the marking provisions of the regulations? If he does not, and as this practice is at present in vogue, will he take action to ensure that his directive is properly obeyed?
– Cameras are not included in the list of items which it is compulsory to mark under the commerce regulations. If goods are required to be marked they must be clearly marked with the name of the country of origin. If goods were marked “ Made in Germany “ and they were in fact made in East Germany, that would not be acceptable to the department. However, if goods are received in this country unmarked and are marked by somebody in Australia who sticks on a paper label, that is outside the control of the Department of Customs and Excise. It is very difficult to track down this practice. If goods came into Australia with the country of origin shown on a piece of paper, that would not comply with the regulations. I shall again alert the officers of my department to ascertain whether this is in fact happening and to see that the practice is prevented.
– I ask the
Minister for Health whether, in reply to a question asked by Senator Ormonde in the Senate last week, he stated that it is the Government’s intention to bring before the Parliament amending legislation to give effect to increased medical benefits for both general practitioner and specialist services. Did the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council, which includes representatives of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia and the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales, agree unanimously at its meeting in January last that there should be no increase in medical benefit payments until the end of 1964 at the earliest? Can the Minister state why such a decision was arrived at by the council, if in fact it was arrived at? In view of the difficulty experienced by long-suffering members of the public in meeting the cost of their medical commitments, will the Minister ask the benefit funds to increase their payments concurrently with the enacting by this Parliament of legislation to increase the Commonwealth benefit by 33 J per cent.?
– It is true that, in reply to a question by Senator Ormonde, I indicated that in the present session of Parliament we would be introducing legislation to increase the Commonwealth contribution to medical benefits. I did not say whether the increase would apply to any particular section of the participants in the scheme. I think it is proper that the legislation should be introduced before I indicate piecemeal what is involved in it. The honorable senator did state the position correctly when he said that a meeting of the council of the funds had agreed unanimously that there should be no increase of benefits under new tables. I remind him that the Prime Minister, in his policy speech, stated that the Government had set out to bridge the gap between the payment made by the patient and the medical fees charged, having regard to the Commonwealth benefit and the fund benefit. The Prime Minister made it abundantly clear that the intention of the Government was to have the gap bridged without it being necessary for the patient to pay an increased contribution. Having that in mind, the council agreed that there should be no request for increased contributions from members before November 1964.
– I ask the
Minister for National Development whether he has received from the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland a joint request for finance from the Commonwealth to assist in developing areas of land along the border common to those States. If there has been such a request can the Minister say whether the proposals include the damming of rivers in the area, such as the Darling River? Are the proposals concerned with straight-out grants comparable to the grants made to Queensland for the development of the brigalow country? In view of the vaunted potential of Queensland, about which we hear so much in this chamber, what is the reason for the tardy development of land which, if it were in South Australia, would have been developed long ago?
– I suppose that a safe answer to such a nonpolitical question is that Queensland is only now commencing to recover from a long period of Labour Party rule. There is an application pending. There are proposals for water conservation on the border rivers, and it has been requested that there should bc an organization somewhat similar to the River Murray Commission to deal with the waters that form the boundary between New South Wales and Queensland. The request has only recently been received and is now being considered.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Has he any knowledge of deposits of black coal having been found during recent unsuccessful boring for oil in the Hay district of New South Wales? If such deposits have been found have they any commercial value?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__ I think 1 should ask the honorable senator to place the question on the notice-paper. I have a recollection of an incident such. as he has described having occurred in the Urana-Oaklands area, but that area is a fair distance from Hay. If the honorable senator puts the question on the notice-paper I shall ascertain the facts for him.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether he is using his best offices to bring buyer and seller together so that the transaction in regard to Moonie oil may be finalized.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER_I think I have answered this question on an earlier occasion. Quite early in the piece
I said to both parties that the Commonwealth Government expects the oil to be refined in Australia and that it also expects buyer and seller to agree on a reasonable price without governmental intervention, but that if they are unable to agree it may be necessary for the Government to intervene. No point has been raised against the refining of the oil in Australia. Tankers are available and delivery can be taken when agreement is reached on prices. There has been an unfortunate divergence of view between buyer and seller upon a fair market price for the oil.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Natonal Development What progress has been made towards the establishment of a national forestry council? When is the first meeting likely to be held? Is the Government aware of expert estimates indicating that a world shortage of pulp timber is developing, that Australia’s forest areas are too small for its needs in the near future, and that an expenditure now of £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 on planting would save Australia about £200,000,000 a year in imported pulp by the end of this century? Will the Government consider advancing moneys to the States to increase our forest areas?
Forestry activities have been added to my ministerial responsibilities only within the past few weeks. I am sorry to say that I have not had a chance as yet to confer with the officers and catch up with what is involved. Therefore, I am not as knowledgable as I should like to be and I have to ask the honorable senator to put the question, on the notice-paper.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware of a statement made by Sir William Gunn, in respect of the sale of wool to red China, that his visit to red China was the result of a long-standing invitation? Can the Minister inform the Senate from whom the invitation was received? Are we to take it from the press statement that members of the Australian -Wool Board or of the International. Wool Secretariat were the guests of red China and that their expenses were paid? To what degree are we to put confidence in the statement that the visit will result in huge sales of Australian wool to red China? In view of the large sales of Australian wheat to red China and the large sales of wool expected by Sir William Gunn, is the Government giving any consideration to the degree of trade dependency in these very important commodities which will result? What precautions is the Government taking to ensure that we do not become dependent for trade on any single nation, particularly a nation which this Government is not prepared to recognize?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__
The actions and the work of the Australian Wool Board are the responsibility of that board. It is a statutory authority with, grower representation and it goes about its lawful occasions in the way which it thinks to be most efficient. Diversification of trade is the constant objective of the Department of Trade, and Industry. We have aimed at seeking new markets so that we shall not be dependent on continental markets or on American markets. There is a whole history of opening new markets and extending export trade to as many countries and in as many directions as possible, so that we shall not be dependent on a particular market for the sale of any product. That is our constant policy, and I think that we can claim to have carried it out with a good deal of success.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Senator Hannaford, of South Australia, in asking a question in relation to the development of Queensland-New South Wales border areas, directed attention to what he thought was the fact of the brigalow land development scheme in Queensland being the subject of a grant from the Commonwealth Government. Is it not a fact that the money provided by the Commonwealth for the brigalow scheme is by way of loan which will have to be repaid?
– I shall have to clear my recollection as to whether the assistance was wholly loan or part grant and part loan. An amount of £7,250,000 is involved up to the present stage.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. In view of the more or less unsatisfactory answer to the question relating to the diverting of high gravity Australian oil to Australian purposes, such as defence, I ask the Minister whether he will take steps, through the machinery of the Tariff Board or through legislation, to protect Australia’s first commercial crude oil industry at Moonie from pressures being exerted by major overseas combines, and to ensure that, in the light of world posted prices, a fair and reasonable price is obtained for Moonie oil, in the interests of the national economy, defence, and the continued oil search programme to secure further local reserves which are so vital to this country’s economy. Is the Minister aware that under the American Petroleum Institute’s ratings, which are accepted by the industry throughout the world, Moonie crude has a gravity of 44 degrees, is thus of a higher quality than any other crude handled by Australian refineries from regular recognized resources, and is second only to top-grade Venezuelan oil, which averages 47 degrees gravity?
Apparently I have been singularly inarticulate. I thought that I made it quite plain that Government policy was that the oil was to be used in Australia, that it was to be bought and’ sold at a reasonable price, that that was the direction in which I was bending all my efforts, that I had narrowed the difference between the two parties, and that I hoped to see them reach a satisfac-tory conclusion. In other words, all of the things that Senator O’Byrne mentioned are in fact now being done.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Honorable senators will be interested to know that the Commonwealth Parliament in December last made’ presentations to the Parliaments ofKenya and Zanzibar to mark the occasion of the granting of independence to those countries.
A sandglass similar in design to that which stands on the table of the House of Representatives was presented to the
Parliament of Kenya, and the Parliament of Zanzibar was presented with a desk set. The gifts were mounted on a base of Australian timber fashioned and polished in the maintenance workshops of Parliament House.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
United States-Australian meat marketing arrangements; exchange of notes between representatives of the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States, forming an . agreement between those governments.
I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I shall repeat a statement made in another place by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen).
The Australian Government has entered into an agreement with the United States Government on meat exports to the United States. Under the agreement Australia will be able to send to the United States 242,000 tons of beef, veal and mutton in 1964, 251,000 tons in 1965, and 260,000 tons in 1966. This agreement is a tremendous step forward for our great meat export industry. Uncertainty has been replaced by security. As a result our industry will be able to plan ahead and develop in confidence assured of continued and growing access to the American market.
This would be important enough in itself. But it is not the only result. The agreement also contains many other features for which Australia has been fighting for years in its trade in primary products. Assured, predictable access to one of the major world meat markets - a market in which our producers are able to obtain a remunerative return - is copy-book policy that Australia has been striving for in the trade in the bulk primary products.
For some years demand has been growing in the United States for the kind of meat which Australia can supply. There has been a trend in the United States to production of more and more high grade beef, and less low quality beef. .The lower, and leaner, grades of beef which are used mainly in the manufacture of hamburgers, pies, sausage and other products of that type have been in relatively short supply. United States users of this manufacturing type of beef have, as a result, turned to imports. Australia has been in the unique position of being able to supply large quantities of the kind of lean beef required.
In order to take advantage of the opportunity to supply the United States market, we negotiated in 1958 with the United Kingdom to release us from a limitation which the fifteen-year meat agreement imposed on the supply of our meat to markets outside the United Kingdom. In the years since we obtained that release our exports outside the United Kingdom have grown rapidly. I might say that the United Kingdom on more than one occasion urged us to send meat to other markets in the interests of reducing pressure on prices in the United Kingdom. As a consequence of these negotiated arrangements we have been able to increase our meat exports to the United States from 2,000 tons of beef and veal and 300 tons of mutton in 1957 to the tremendous figure of 231,000 tons of beef and veal and 26,000 tons of mutton in 1963. It is a trade valued at about £80,000,000 in 1963. The United States has become our main overseas market for meats. We are the major supplier of imported meat to that market and meat is by far our most important export to the United States.
The way in which this trade has been developed reflects great credit on Australian meat producers and exporters. They have demonstrated wonderful productive efficiency and versatility. Not only has production expanded to supply this great new market but in addition the trade has been almost entirely turned over to the boneless meat pack developed to suit the needs of United States processors. As a matter of fact, if this trade had not been developed since the removal of import licensing, which gave the United States access to our market, our adverse balance of trade with the United States would have been almost intolerable. This growth in our trade, a cause for justifiable satisfaction to the Australian industry, has at the same time been a cause of considerable anxiety to United States meat producers. The great bulk of our exports are not in direct competition with the choice qualities of meat which are the major production in the United States. Nevertheless United States producers have shown a great deal of concern about imports. Protests have mounted as imports have increased.
It has been the case that the increase in production of choice beef in the United States has in some years been accompanied by falling prices. Since imports of manufacturing beef have also been increasing at the same time, American producers have tended to blame the price decline on to imports even though it has been clear to most people that imports have had very little effect on choice beef prices.
Towards the end of last year the campaign against imports reached a climax. United States producers were pressing for restrictions on imports that would limit them to the average of imports in the five years from 1958 to 1962. This would have meant for Australia an export entitlement of some 113,000 tons of beef, veal and mutton compared with the 257,000 tons we exported in 1963. This was a very serious situation. I would stress that the Australian industry is now extremely dependent on the continuation of its sales to the United States at something like the present levels. More than 80 per cent, of our beef exports go to the United States. Production and export are geared to that market and the continued steady demand for large quantities of meat for America has done much to stabilize Australian live-stock markets.
If our exports to the United States were suddenly and severely curtailed there would be no other market to which we could quickly divert the large quantities of meat that could be affected. Our former large market in the United Kingdom is being supplied to an increasing extent by the expansion of United Kingdom production the by stepped-up exports by other suppliers. There are no other major import markets available at present outside the United Kingdom and the United States. In the absence of an agreement the best the industry could hope for was to continue in a precarious situation in its exports to the United States of America, never sure that its access to the market would continue. At the worst, if the United States had imposed restrictions on our beef exports - as it has done in the past on some of our other export commodities - at the level requested by its own producers, the first effect would have been an over supply of meat on the domestic market with disastrous prices for all livestock - fat stock and store stock alike.
In the final event the agreement that wa3 reached gives Australia a basic export entitlement for 1964 at the average of imports from Australia during the last two years and growing at a rate of 3.7 per cent, per annum in each of the two years 1965 and 1966. During 1966 this growth rate, but not our basic export entitlement, will be reviewed.
This is an agreement which gives the first tangible expression we have had of the practical application in a major market of principles and policies Australia has long advocated. It is significant that out of a most worrying situation has come this sensible and hopeful arrangement. It is very gratifying that in a commodity as important as this, and in conditions as difficult as these, two nations were able to sit down and work out this mutually acceptable arrangement - and work it out on the basis of a concept of rational exporting and orderly development’ of markets. This is the way we like to do business.
It is true that initially under the agreement there will be some reduction in the quantities we may supply by comparison with the very favorable position we had reached in 1963. However, the reduction involved is relatively small. It is an even smaller price to pay for the advantages of the agreement.
In addition to discussions with the United States there have also been discussions with the United Kingdom on our export of meat to that market. Australia’s meat exports to the United Kingdom have been falling away over recent years as our exports to the United States have increased. We have never regarded this as a permanent withdrawal from the United Kingdom market. The facts are that with expanding production by the United Kingdom there has been less and less room for imports on that market. Since 1958 imports of beef and veal have declined in total from 402,000 tons to 358,000 tons while British beef and veal production, bolstered by a system of guaranteed prices and subsidies, increased substantially from less than 800,000 tons to more than 900,000. Over the same period United Kingdom imports of sheep meat have been virtually unchanged while United Kingdom production increased by approximately 25 per cent. As a result prices in that market have been forced to very low and at times ruinous levels.
The United Kingdom Government makes up to its producers by subsidy the deficiency between market prices and high guaranteed prices. It has been faced with steadily increasing payments of subsidies as production increases and prices fall. The United Kingdom Government estimates that 1963-64 price support subsidies on cattle and sheep alone will cost £Stg.58,000,000, that is. £A72,5CO,000. The United Kingdom Government made a proposal to restrain the volume of supplies coming on to her market and in that way to stabilize the market. For exporters this restraint was to take the form of a direct control on exports while for United Kingdom producers Britain was proposing to introduce a form of control which would put some penalties on producers whenever certain established quantities of production were exceeded.
Multilateral negotiations between Britain and her six major suppliers took place in London for two weeks during January and February this year. They followed earlier bilateral discussions during the last twelve months between Britain and her individual suppliers. A large measure of agreement was reached between delegations on the detail of the form of arrangement which could be considered for the United Kingdom market.
It was not, however, found possible to reach complete agreement at these discussions. The main unresolved issue was the level of imports that would be supplied by Britain’s external suppliers. The United Kingdom delegation was unable to agree to a level of exports which exporters would regard as reasonable.
The talks have, therefore, been suspended without any agreement amongst governments concerned. It is expected, however, that the United Kingdom will again raise the question of arrangements for her market and will endeavour to come to agreement with her suppliers on measures to regulate supplies to the British market.
The Australian Government has been active in all negotiations on meat both in bilateral discussions with importing countries and in multilateral meetings in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. For years we have been striving for international arrangements to bring about more assured conditions for commodity trade. We first achieved general Commonwealth support for this approach at the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference held in Montreal in 1958. Since then we have been unceasing in our efforts to win international acceptance of these ideas. Over the years most of the major trading countries have been brought to subscribe to the principles we have long enunciated and to declare their support for international commodity agreements. The provisions being stipulated by the United States in respect of commodity trade negotiations in the Kennedy Round can be taken as a further and major recognition of the same principle.
No one should underestimate the practical difficulties of having the principles transcribed into effective international action. But if other countries mean what they are now saying, it should, at long last, become possible to achieve the effective action on agricultural commodities for which the Kennedy Round provides the opportunity.
It is no part of our approach to disregard the legitimate expectation of producers in other countries to reasonable protection in their own market. The agreement that we have signed with the United States is fair to both domestic producer and overseas suppliers.
It is to be hoped that this agreement with the United States might set the pattern for arrangements with other countries. In the European Common Market and Japan lor example - markets which maintain severe restrictions against imports of meat - this principle of a basic export entitlement combined with a growth factor is one that we would like to see extended. The great meat exporting countries of the world must be given the opportunity to export and grow. Unless they can find export markets developing at a sufficiently rapid rate, it would become inevitable that some form of control would have to be applied to total exports of meat leading ultimately to production cuts also.
However, reverting to the agreement with the United States, this now assures us of stable market opportunities in a country with a high standard of living for an important proportion of our meat export surplus. This is not only very important to our producers but it will also represent an assured £80,000,000 to £90,000,000 a year.
With the concurrence of honorable senators I shall have the text of the notes incorporated in “ Hansard “.
I have the honour to refer to recent discussions in Washington between representatives of the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States with regard to the desire of the Government of the United States to arrive at an understanding concerning the level of future exports of Australian beef, veal, and mutton to the United States. As a result of these discussions, I have further the honour to propose that the following Agreement shall become effective betweenour Governments:
The Governments of Australia and the United States have agreed to the following measures in the interest of promoting the orderly development of trade in beef, veal, and mutton between Australia and the United States. In assuming the following obligations, the Governments of Australia and the United Slates are seeking as well to preserve approximately the present pattern of trade in beef, veal, and mutton between the two countries.
Accordingly, the Australian Government shall limit exports from Australia to the United Stales of beef, veal, and mutton (in all forms except canned, cured and cooked meat and live animals), in accordance with the following:
If these proposals are acceptable to your Government, this note and your note of acceptance shall form an Agreement between our Governments.
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
I have the honour to refer to your note of February 17, 1964, concerning trade in beef, veal, and mutton between Australia and the United States which reads as follows: “ I have the honor to refer to recent discussions in Washington between representatives of the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States with regard to the desire of the Government of the United States to arrive at an understanding concerning the level of future exports of Australian beef, veal, and mutton to the United States. As a result of these discussions, I have further the honour to propose that the following Agreement shall become effective between our Governments:
The Governments of Australia and the United States have agreed to the following measures in the interest of promoting the orderly development of trade in beef, veal, and mutton between Australia and the United States. In assuming the following obligations, the Governments of Australia and the United States are seeking as well to preserve approximately the present pattern of trade in beef, veal, and mutton between the two countries.
Accordingly, the Australian Government shall limit exports from Australia to the United States of beef, veal, and mutton (in all forms except canned, cured and cooked meat and live animals), in accordance with the following:
If these proposals are acceptable to your Government, this note and your note of acceptance shall form an Agreement between our Governments.”
I have the honor to confirm on behalf of the Government of the United States that the Agreement outlined in your note is acceptable to the United States Government and will govern trade in beef, veal, and mutton between Australia and the United States.
Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.
For the Secretary of State George W. Ball.
– I am sure that honorable senators are keenly interested in the meat agreement that the Australian Government has made with the United States Government, and wish to discuss the new arrangements. To provide an opportunity for such a debate I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the following papers: -
Australian Broadcasting Control Board - report and recommendations to the PostmasterGeneral on applications for a licence for a commercial broadcasting station at Nambour, Queensland.
I ask for leave to make a short statement in connexion therewith.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In September, 1962, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board reported to the Postmaster-General of that day, Mr. C. W. Davidson, that the broadcasting service available in the Nambour area was deficient and could be improved only by the licensing of a local station. The investigations which the board had made had disclosed that the area could support a commercial station and that despite the shortage of frequencies in the medium frequency band, a frequency channel could be made available for a station in this particular area on the basis that it would be “ shared “ with another station and that the stations would use directional aerials. Accordingly on 8th November, 1962, the Minister invited applications for the grant of a licence for a Commonwealth broadcasting station at Nambour.
Two applications were received in response to the Minister’s invitation and pursuant to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1963, they were referred to the board for public inquiry and report to the PostmasterGeneral. The board subsequently conducted an inquiry into the applications and has submitted to me its report and recommendation which I now lay on the table of the House.
Following consideration of the board’s report, the Government has authorized me to grant the licence to Maroochy Broadcasting Company Limited. The constitution of this company as well as that of the other applicant is set out in the Board’s report. As provided in the act the licence will be granted for an initial period of five years.
– I present the following paper: -
Australian Broadcasting Control Board -
Report and recommendations to the Post master-General on applications for a licence for a commercial television station in the Brisbane area, in the Adelaide area and in the Perth area.
I ask for leave to make a short statement, in connexion therewith.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On the 8th March, 1962, the Postmaster-General of that day, Mr. C. W. Davidson, announced that the Government had invited applications for the grant of a licence for a third commercial television station in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide and for a second commercial station in Perth. The licences have been granted in respect of Sydney and Melbourne and the establishment of the stations in those areas is proceeding. For the Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth areas, sixteen applications were initially received but only eight of these were proceeded with - three in the case of Brisbane and Adelaide and two in the case of Perth.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1963, the applications were referred to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for public inquiry and report to the PostmasterGeneral. The board subsequently conducted inquiries into the applications and has submitted to me its report and recommendations and this I now lay on the table of the House.
Following consideration of the board’s report, the Government has authorized the Postmaster-General to grant the licences as follows: -
For the Brisbane area - Universal Telecasters (Queensland) Limited.
For the Adelaide area - South Australian Telecasters Limited.
For the Perth area - Swan Television Limited (initially named Great West T.V. Limited).
The constitution of these companies, as well as those of the other applicants, is set out in the board’s report.
The licences will not bc granted until I am satisfied as to the directors and shareholdings in each case and as to their compliance with the provisions of the Act. As provided in the Act, the licences will be granted for an initial period of five years.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th February (vide page 104), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill before the Senate has a very simple purpose, that is, to increase the number of Ministers of State from 22 to 25. 1 found it interesting to review the position with relation to Ministers of State since federation, and 1 hope it will be interesting to the Senate if I devote a moment or two to traversing that ground. Referring to sections 65 and 66 of the Constitution I find that, in effect, they state two things. The first is that until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Ministers of State shall not exceed seven in number; and the second is that until the Parliament otherwise provides, ministerial salaries shall not exceed £12,000 a year. That was the position as at 1st January, 1901; and it remained unchanged until 1915 when, by the Ministers of State Act of that year, the Fisher Labour Government provided that the number of Ministers of State might exceed seven but shall not exceed eight. In other words, the limit on the number of Ministers of State was lifted to eight.
It is rather interesting to note that this increase of one in the maximum number was made during a period of war and, no doubt, was found to be necessary by reason of the 1914-18 war. At the same time, the first increase in the total amount of salaries was made when the figure was lifted by £1,650 from a maximum of £12,000 to £13,650 a year. Then, in 1917, the number of Ministers was increased by another one to nine, and the total amount of salaries for those nine was fixed at £15,300. In 1935, the act was amended again to provide for a limit of ten Ministers and total salaries amounting to £13,560. That is the figure which I have in my notes. The amount does not look very real, but I have checked my notes with the relevant act and I find that I am correct.
Was that after the salary cuts during the economic depression had been made?
– It probably is a depression provision. My research was intended to show that in 1917 the total of salaries was lifted to £15,300 when the Ministers numbered nine and that in 1935 the total was reduced to £13,560 when provision was made for one more Minister. I imagine that the reduction was the result of the financial emergency arrangements that were made during the economic depression. In 1938, the number of Ministers was lifted to eleven and the total of their salaries was increased to £18,600.
In 1941, during the period of the Second World War, the limit was fixed, by act of Parliament, at nineteen Ministers and the total of their salaries was increased to £21,250. That amending act was- not expressed to be of continuous operation; it was expressed to operate during the life of the National Security Act, so that, in the post-war period when that act lapsed, the number would revert to the 1938 figure of eleven Ministers.
– Was the alteration made by act of Parliament or under the national security regulations?
– It was made by act of Parliament in 1941, not by the National Security Act. New section 6 of the 1941 act provided -
Notwithstanding anything contained in sections three and four of this Act, during the continuance in operation of the National Security Act 1939- 1940-
the number of Ministers of State may exceed eleven but shall not exceed nineteen.
So, clearly, the alteration was made by an act of Parliament - the Ministers of State Act 1941 - the increase being limited in effect to the period of the war.
In the immediate post-war period, the Chifley Labour Government, by act of Parliament, kept the number of Ministers at nineteen and did not increase the total salary figure of £21,250. In 1947, the Chifley Labour Government . made no change in the number of Ministers but did increase the total of their salaries by £6,400 to £27,650. In 1951, the present Government lifted the total number of Ministers to twenty - an increase of one - and increased the total of their salaries to £29,000. In 1952, whilst there was no increase in the number of Ministers, there was a very substantial increase in their , total salaries. In that year, the total of their salaries was increased to £41,000 and the new principle of ministerial allowances, apart altogether from ministerial salaries was introduced. By that legislation, the sum of £3,500 was allotted by way of ministerial allowance to the Prime Minister, and £1,000 was allotted to each of the other Ministers. So, from then on, in addition to his parliamentary allowance and parliamentary salary, . a Minister has had his ministerial salary and his ministerial allowance. In 1956, the number of Ministers was lifted from twenty to 22 and the total of their salaries was increased to £46,500. In 1959, whilst there was no change in the number of Ministers, the total salary figure was lifted very substantially to £66,600. Also, for the eleven Ministers constituting the Cabinet, apart from the Prime Minister, the ministerial allowance was lifted to £1,500 and that paid to other Ministers was increased from £1,000 to £1,250.
I now come to the present bill, which provides for an increase of three in the total number of Ministers, making the number now 25, and for a very substantial lift - that is, to £73,350 a year - in the total salaries. A remarkable change has come over the scene since federation. As one can see, the intervention of war and the enormous growth of the Commonwealth’s responsibility - particularly the enormous growth of the Commonwealth’s financial responsibility - have led to much more activity.
The present Government took office at a time when the Ministers numbered nineteen and the total salary paid amounted to £27,650, averaging £1,455 a Minister. I am not saying that the total amount was distributed evenly; I do not think it was. I am taking an average figure for the purposes of comparison. When the present Government took office, the average ministerial salary was £1,455. The total salary proposed in the present bill is £73,350. Dividing that amount by 25, the Ministers, if they were all to share equally, would each receive £2,934. The average amount has jumped during the term of office of this Government from £1,455 to £2,934. It has more than doubled over the period.
From one. aspect, that is a measure of the inflation that has taken place during the term of office of the Government, but it shows that whoever in this community suffered from the effects of the depression it certainly was not the Ministers of the Government. They seem to have ridden inflation very nicely throughout the whole of the past fourteen years, in very marked contrast with other sections of the community. My mind goes instantly to the recipients of child endowment. The amount of 5s. a week received for a first child has been left unchanged over the past thirteen years. Incomes in the pensioner class certainly did not move so freely with the inflation of the recent decade or so as did ministerial salaries.
I am not claiming that the job that is available for a Minister to do is not worth the amount that is being paid. I think it is. There is no more onerous and responsible job than that of a Minister of the Crown. Whilst we consider that some individual Ministers might not be worth what they get, in my view Ministers are not overpaid for the responsibilities that they have to undertake. Having regard to income tax rates on higher incomes, probably they do not have such a vast amount left by the time everything is taken into account. However, I point out that all increases in salary have been made by anti-Labour governments during the period to which I have adverted, except on two occasions. An increase was made in 1915 by the Fisher Labour Government, when one additional Minister was appointed and £1,650 was added to the salary bill for Ministers. In 1947, without an increase in the number of Ministers, the
Chifley Labour Government increased the ministerial salary bill by £6,400 per annum. All increases in the number of ministers were made by anti-Labour governments, with one exception - the 1915 increase of one minister under the Fisher Labour Government.
I would have expected, as a matter of prestige on the part of the Government and as a demonstration of good faith, that the first bill we would have encountered in’ this Parliament would have been one to redeem an election promise. One could expect that. It is disappointing to find that the first bill is one which relates to a matter that was not mentioned at all in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or during the debates throughout the period of the election. This bill shows that the Government is looking after itself first. It evidently proceeds on the basis that charity begins at home. It is quite clear that every one of the changes the Government is making now could have been effected, for the purposes of administration, by allocating some of the existing Ministers to pick up new responsibilities. That has been done in some cases by this Government, but not in others. Very appropriately and suitably the Government could have left the question of the increase in the size of the Ministry until a later stage, after it had begun to implement some of the things that have been promised. I would say that this is a good example of the cynicism and complacency of the Government, in view of the big majority it won at the election. It is also a good example of the laziness of the Government. It seems to me that soon after 30th November last the Government made sure that it would have a good three months’ holiday prior to the assembling of this Parliament.
What do we find? Child endowees have to wait for payment. No bill dealing with that relatively simple matter has been introduced, although the Government has an expert department behind it which could have drawn up the necessary legislation. It is true that it has been announced that payment will be made retrospectively, but why, after three months, is not a bill dealing with the matter ready and available to go before the Parliament? The question of scholarships for secondary and technical schools has been postponed for a year. That is most disappointing. Legislation to introduce grants for assistance in education is not before the Parliament at this stage; we are waiting for it to materialize. No move has been made on the promise to enable people in the outback areas to get petrol at something like city prices. Finally, we are still awaiting the promised housing subsidy and the housing arrangements. My first comment on all this is that it is exceedingly disappointing to find the Government so concerned about itself and its followers in the matter of new payments when all these promises are waiting to be redeemed. The Government has little excuse for coming with empty hands to the Parliament after a three months period in recess.
I make a comment on the Tasmanian position. The Prime Minister, exercising his completely dictatorial power in the appointment and dismissal of ministers - his supporters in the Parliament have no say in that matter - has seen fit, whilst increasing the number of his ministry from 22 to 25, to cut down Tasmania’s representation in the ministry by 50 per cent. Prior to the election Tasmania had two ministers; now its representation in the ministry is to be reduced to one, and this despite the fact that there is to be an increase of three in the total number of ministers.
– Perhaps there was no ministerial material in Tasmania.
– I would not agree with that. I know that this performance on the part of the Prime Minister is very much resented in Tasmania. It is certainly, as Senator Benn has implied, a rebuff to Hie Prime Minister’s followers in Tasmania. I think everybody on this side would agree with me when I say that it cannot be said that his followers in Tasmania are lacking in ability. Let ‘ us survey what has happened in the appointment of the Ministers who make up the 25. It is completely clear that the Prime Minister has granted rewards to the States in which he won a majority in the House of Representatives. In Tasmania, where the vote for the Labour Party was 52 per cent, of the total, we lose a Minister. Before the election, South Australia had one Minister out of 22. The Government did not prevail, because the Labour vote was some 53 per cent, of the total, and that State still has only one Minister. It should also be noted that the Minister is not in the Cabinet. He is merely in the Ministry and, indeed, is low in the order of ministerial seniority.
Now I come to the treatment of the Senate. I see Senator Mattner smiling hugely. I would not think, having regard to what I have said about the treatment of South Australia, that he would be disposed to be so cheerful.
– You are a Daniel come to judgment.
– That is right. I was surprised to see Senator Mattner smiling so broadly. Coming, now, to the position of the Senate, I point out that there are five Ministers in this chamber. I thought that with the decision to increase the Ministry, the time might have been most opportune to appoint another Minister in this chamber in order to improve the representation in the Senate of Ministers in the House of Representatives. I think the five Ministers who are asked, not only to administer their own portfolios but to represent twenty other Ministers in the House of Representatives are expected to undertake a very big task. It is no easy matter for a Minister to have about four portfolios with which to keep himself up to date for the purpose of answering questions without notice in this place. I think the Senate has been treated with some scorn by the Prime Minister in this selection of ministerial material. In my opinion, an increase in the number of Ministers in this place is long overdue. The Prime Minister based his argument for the change proposed in the bill on two grounds. First, he wanted to end a situation in which Ministers held more than one portfolio. Accordingly, he has proposed to separate the Attorney-Generalship from the External Affairs portfolio and to separate Interior from Works.
– The AttorneyGeneralship and the External Affairs portfolio have have never been held by the same Minister except in one period.
– I think that, in the time of Dr. Evatt, the portfolios were combined for many years. But the present position has existed for a very long time and there is ample precedent for the portfolios being interlocked. I do not argue that such is desirable in the present climate of things. When one has regard for the duties and responsibilities imposed on the recent incumbent of both portfolios, Sir Garfield Barwick, one can admire the vast job that he has done in pioneering new legislation such as that relating to matrimonial causes, marriage, and uniform companies law. However, despite his great knowledge, he has not been able to get around to dealing with restrictive trade practices - a matter which is shrieking for attention and which the Government first promised in this chamber, away back in March, 1960, would be dealt with. It has simply bogged down. I do not think that that is due to lack of knowledge on the part of the AttorneyGeneral. It is quite clear that External Affairs demands the presence of the Minister abroad a great deal every year, and I think that that portfolio might well be separated from the Attorney-Generalship. At all events, there is an argument for that.
Another matter that has been ignored owing to the preoccupation of the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister for External Affairs with two portfolios is the vastly important matter of constitutional review. A report on that matter was before the Government as long ago as October, 1958. In the intervening six years we have not even had any intimation that there was ever a report by the Attorney-General to the Cabinet or that the Cabinet or the Ministry had considered any such report.
– Do you think that the reason was the lack of time?
– It could well be lack of interest.
– It could well be that the minority report was good.
– There was no minority report in relation to sixteen of the 22 matters. There was complete unanimity regarding some sixteen of the recommendations out of the 22. So the interjection of the Minister is not at all relevant to the point I am making. I would hope - we all would hope - that when there is an Attorney-General who has nothing else to do but attend to the duties of that portfolio, the vastly important matter of constitutional review will get some consideration, and that at last the Cabinet will address its mind to the report and say “ yes “ or “ no “ to each of the individual propositions. That is an obligation, first to the country and, certainly, to the members of the committee who spent an enormous amount of time over a period of three years to prepare what I have no hesitation in saying was a very well conceived and well documented report. It is quite wrong, from the nation’s viewpoint, that the report should be put aside without any consideration. I hope that that matter will be taken up again.
Now I come to the question of separating the portfolios of Interior and Works. I would be prepared to say that such a division is most unnecessary. I do not believe that there would be sufficient work in the Interior portfolio to keep a Minister fully occupied. It seems to me that, at this point, the Prime Minister has yielded to pressure by the Australian Country Party. We know that members of the Country Party are very interested in the subject of redistribution. They want the future redistribution of seats to proceed on a base that will give to them the prospect of better representation than they have now. In other words, they are asking for more elasticity in relation to the difference between the number of electors in metropolitan seats and those in rural constituencies.
The Constitutional Review Committee of which I was a member had a good deal to say on that subject. We sought to eliminate the possibility of gerrymandering electorates by writing a safeguard into the Constitution itself. During the course of long discussions, members of the committee recognised that there could be some ebb and flow between rural and metropolitan constituencies but it was limited to half the amount that is at present allowed under the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Under that legislation, a constituency may have a number of electors which is 20 per cent, above or 20 per cent, below the number in another constituency. In other words, there can be a difference of 40 per cent, between the number of electors in two’ constituencies.
– Was not the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee in this respect a unanimous one?
– I bow to anything that Senator Wright may say in this connexion but I think that the proposal was unanimous.
– I do not recall any dissent.
– I think that was one of the decisions which was completely unanimous. It seems to me that anybody who is concerned about the preservation of the principal of one vote one value, making some allowance for the additional difficulties which are associated with rural constituencies, must be very disturbed by the that that the Country Party has surrendered such an important portfolio as that of the Postmaster-General, which it has traditionally held in Liberal Governments, and has taken over a relatively insignificant portfolio, having regard to the result for which Mr. McEwen is pressing in the matter of redistribution. This situation disturbs the members of the Labour Party, as it disturbs people outside the party who are concerned with the preservation of democracy in the electoral sphere.
We approve the one new portfolio which has been created, that of Housing. 1 direct attention to the fact that in the days of the Chifley Labour Government there was a portfolio of Interior, Works and Housing. It was abolished in 1952 by the present Government, which is now proceeding to re-establish it.
– There was no Department of Housing. It was the Department of Works and Housing.
– The point I am making is -that there was a portfolio which covered housing. If there was a Department of Works and Housing, as the Minister says, clearly housing was the subject-matter of a portfolio.
– It was a division of that portfolio.
– Yes. Labour supports this bill, but for very different reasons from those assigned by the Government. We do not argue about the separation of the portfolios of Attorney-General and . External Affairs. We do not argue about the establishment of a Housing portfolio! We think, however, that there should be three new portfolios - Education, Northern Development, and Science and Research.
The Prime Minister has at last bowed to Labour pressure - that and nothing else - in taking education under his portfolio of Prime Minister and in appointing a separate minister, who is a senator, to assist him in that respect. In this instance the Prime Minister has bowed to the argument which the Opposition has developed over many years. We have urged the Government to make a national approach to the whole question of education. While he has not done what we want him to do, and while he is not prepared to have a proper, competent inquiry into education at each of its levels, he has bobbed the knee to the question of treating education as a national matter. Scholarships for secondary schools and technical colleges are to be provided and help offered in connexion with science buildings and equipment. We should prefer to see the creation of an entirely separate portfolio to cover what in our view is an extremely important question.
There has been acknowledgment of our proposal that there should be a Department of Northern Development. A Division of Northern Development has been established within the portfolio of National Development. Here we have an instance of a new activity which has not progressed far in three months. Some days ago I asked questions of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner), and in reply he said that the broad functions of the division had been determined but he was only then on the point of calling applications for the positions of head of the division and some eighteen executive positions in it. Literally, we have not progressed very far even in the establishment of the division. We of the Labour Party regard northern development as of such importance that we argue that there should be an entirely separate portfolio to cover that matter. The Prime Minister has made some acknowledgment of our approach in this respect.
The Opposition is of the opinion that a great deal depends on science and research. Our Leader, Mr. Calwell, made what I thought was a magnificent contribution to
Australian thought and forward planning in this matter when, in his policy speech, he pointed out that we should not eternally be borrowers of other people’s ideas, that we are living in a technological age and that we must revolutionize our approach to science and research. He said that we must produce far more scientists and give them far more opportunities throughout every range of our activities. That does not mean that we would increase the number of Ministers unduly. We think that 25 is a reasonable number. Some of the portfolios could be held by one Minister and some could be amalgamated. The Interior portfolio should certainly be amalgamated with another portfolio. The service portfolios ought to be amalgamated. I notice that the holders of the service portfolios have been demoted practically to the bottom of the new list of precedence that the Prime Minister has drawn up. The Minister for Air has gone to No. 19 on the list and the Minister for the Army to No. 23, while the Minister for the Navy is No. 25, at the bottom of the list. I should say that the fact that they have been downgraded, or degraded, in that way indicates that in the Prime Minister’s view they are relatively unimportant. It has constantly been argued that those portfolios should be amalgamated. When I suggest that new portfolios of the type I have mentioned should be created I do not necessarily mean that the number of Ministers should be added to.
We of the Opposition take a wide view of Commonwealth activities. During the years of federation we have seen enormous growth in such activities and we do not think they will come to a dead stop. We see further expansion of them, in fact, and we believe in preparing for it. The emergence of new portfolios under this Government is an indication that there will be a continuous expansion of Commonwealth activities, and we therefore support the creation of the new portfolios for the broad reasons I have stated.
Let me summarize the position regarding the composition of the previous Ministry and the present one. Queensland’s representation has been increased by one, from three to four. New South Wales’ representation has been increased by one, from seven to eight. Victoria’s representation also has been increased by one, from six to seven. South Australia’s representation remains stationery at one Minister. West Australia’s representation has been increased by one, from three to four. Tasmania’s representation has been reduced by one, from two to one. Again, I direct attention to the fact that the States in which the Prime Minister did not win a majority at the recent general election have been roughly treated. I refer to South Australia and Tasmania.
I should like to spend a few minutes in reviewing the order of precedence in the Cabinet which was announced recently by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Prime Minister in the other place. I found it interesting to compare the order of precedence with that of the previous Ministry. I point out that South Australia has no representative in the Cabinet of twelve ministers. It is represented by only one minister in a Ministry of 25. The Minister for External Affairs has gone from No. 11 to No. 7 in the Cabinet. The Minister for Territories has gone from No. 6 in the Cabinet to No. 21 in the Ministry and is outside the Cabinet altogether.
– He is in the Country Party.
– Yes. Does the honorable senator suggest that that is why he has been degraded? I should like now to have a look at the importance of portfolios, both on the domestic scene and on the international scene. When I look at the work in front of the Minister for Territories, I have regard to the fact that our reputation in the international sphere will be judged very largely by our behaviour in the territories under our control. Our reputation will depend to such a great degree upon what takes place there that Territories should be one of the major portfolios.
– Would you include the Northern Territory? You are referring mainly to Papua and New Guinea?
– Yes, to Papua and New Guinea, having regard to ‘ the impact on international affairs of what takes place there. That is a portfolio that should be rated far more highly than No. 21 and should not have been degraded fifteen places. Civil Aviation has fallen from No. 8 in Cabinet to No. 9. It is preceded by two portfolios that were below it in the last Cabinet, External Affairs and Primary Industry. The PostmasterGeneral portfolio has been degraded from No. 9- in Cabinet to No. 15 in the Ministry. Immigration is a vastly important portfolio, relating to building the nation in the quickest possible way, and having its own international aspects, but it has gone from No. 10 in the Cabinet to No. 16 in the Ministry. Army has gone from No. 13 to No. 23, and Social Services from No. 14 to No. 17. Customs and Excise has been lifted from No. 15 in the Ministry to No. 12 in the Cabinet. Navy has fallen from No. 17 to No. 25. Shipping and Transport has risen from No. 18 to No. 14. Health - here is a remarkable one - has been raised from No. 19, outside the Cabinet, to No. 10 in the Cabinet.
– The Cabinet is getting older.
– I do not think that is the explanation. I do not think it is a question of the importance of health or anything else in the scheme of things, in the Prime Minister’s view. It is a case of the Country Party demanding so many members in the Cabinet and getting them.
– And of personalities.
– I shall not go into personal questions. I am dealing objectively with principles. Supply has risen from No. 20 to No. 11, Repatriation from No. 21 to No. 18, and Air from No. 22 to No. 19; it is still very near the end of the list.
– I think that this is largely irrelevant.
– If the honorable senator feels gravely concerned about that, he has his remedy. I do not think it is irrelevant. We are dealing with a bill to increase the number of portfolios. Surely it is relevant to look at the order of precedence, at those which are important and those which are less important. We support the bill for another reason. We think that there has not been adequate control of the
Public Service or sufficient oversight by the Ministers of the departments. The increase in the number of Ministers should enable them to exercise a very much tighter control than they have exercised in the past. We approve of the proposal to include secondary industry in the items that are handled by the Ministry. I should hope that one of the great activities of the Minister who is responsible for that will be to see that all of our great mineral resources, particularly in the north and in Western Australia, are exploited to provide employment opportunities for Australians. Instead of our exporting raw materials and concentrates, we should develop the mineral industry to the full in this country. Let us export manufactured products and not our own natural resources.
It seems to me that the order of precedence has been determined by the Prime Minister not on the relevant importance of portfolios but on his rating of individuals. I do not think that that is right. It should bc done absolutely from the viewpoint of the importance of portfolios. I am sorry that whatever views I have on that matter could not have been given effect. I merely criticize. Having reviewed the bill in one way and another, I indicate that the: Opposition, for the reasons that we give, will not oppose it. We do not accept the reasons that have been proffered on behalf of the Government.
– I rise to speak on only two facets of this bill. My remarks will necessarily be brief. Senator McKenna, who can always make a very interesting speech, took advantage of the fact that we are debating the Ministers of State Bill, which opens a wider field even than the debate on the AddressinRepIy, because we can now discuss 25 portfolios: he chose to do that. He put up some arguments and, a little later, gave answers to those arguments. He said that we were very tardy in not immediately introducing legislation to increase child endowment. He was gracious enough later to say that the Government had announced that payments would be retrospective. He offered a criticism in relation to housing. Mr. Bury has stated that the subsidy of £250 to persons who have saved £750 will be retrospective, I think, to 2nd December, 1963.
Senator McKenna has had enough experience as a Minister to know that to introduce a bill to increase the size of the Ministry, which requires a second-reading speech of only one page, is much easier than to go through the departmental arrangements for increasing Treasury payments for child endowment or to establish a Department of Housing. I regard the portfolios of External Affairs and Housing as being very important. For a long time I have been saying in the councils of my own party that the Department of External Affairs should be administered by a Minister who has no other responsibility. I am delighted that the administration of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and that of the Department of External Affairs have been separated and that responsibility for the Attorney-General’s Department is to be removed from the very able shoulders of Sir Garfield Barwick. I believe that in these grave times he should have to administer only the Department of External Affairs.
The formation of the Department of Housing at this point of time is opportune. The people of Australia, particularly the young electors, are very much aware of the need for housing. Opposition senators will recall that one of Labour’s very able men saw what he regarded as being political danger in giving people homes of their own. But successive governments, including Labour governments, have encouraged the people of Australia to own their own homes. In Great Britain people are happy about being able to rent homes, but we in Australia have encouraged people to own their own homes. Having encouraged people to acquire their own homes, governments have the responsibility of helping them to achieve that end. That is one reason why I am delighted about the creation of the portfolio of Housing.
I did not do nearly as much research as did Senator McKenna because I had intended to speak for only five or ten minutes. Nevertheless, I found it interesting to note that five of six new Ministers - I refer to Dr. Forbes, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Snedden, Mr. Bury and Mr. Barnes - are ex-servicemen. Mr. Hulme, of course, was an experienced ex-Minister. Ex-servicemen on both sides of the Senate should be happy about the addition of so many ex-servicemen to the
Ministry. Dr. Forbes served with the Australian Imperial Force, Mr. Chaney had distinguished service in the Royal Australian Air Force, Mr. Snedden served in the Air Force, Mr. Bury in the A.I.F. and Mr. Barnes in the Air Force. I have not checked on this point but I believe that Mr. Anthony probably was far .too young to have been able to see service in the last war. The figures in the second-reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) indicate that the allocation for Ministers’ salaries will be increased to £73,350.
I hope that the new Minister for the Interior will look sympathetically at the circumstances of Ministers who come from Western Australia and Queensland and ensure that adequate flat accommodation is made available for them in this city. I go even further than that. I believe that members of the Parliament, whether they sit in the House of Representatives or the Senate, who come from Western Australia and northern Queensland should have the right to place their names on the waiting list for flats in Canberra. I have been informed that they have no such right.
– You will be able to get accommodation when a new Parliament House is built, because it will contain flats.
– I hope you are right. I would agree with such a proposal. People like Senator Benn, who for years has had to travel from Queensland, and myself, who has had to travel from Western Australia for only a few years, should be able to obtain such accommodation. I do not suggest that we should get it for nothing; we should pay rent for it. However, as a back-bencher I am not even entitled to rent a government flat in Canberra.
I welcome this legislation. It will mean the addition of comparatively young men to the Ministry. These young men are capable. They have proved themselves in the eyes, not only of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), but also of their colleagues who are already in the Ministry and those of us who sit on the back bench and in the party room. They are energetic young men. If honorable senators read the reports of “ Hansard “, they will note that these are the men who have done the spade work and have carried the burden of the day for the party. They have been vigorous and courageous in debate. I shall not mention their names, but one certainly could not say that three of them have ever been “ Yes “ men. I have heard it said that it is because they have been vigorous in their approach to politics and to their responsibility as elected members that they have been found a place in the Ministry.
– Is this a new departure?
– I do not think it is. We have a different system from that of the Labour Party. If it took members of the Labour Party nineteen . hours to elect an executive, I wonder how long it would have taken them to elect a cabinet. I support the bill.
.- Senator Branson referred to the lack of accommodation in Canberra for Ministers and other members of the Parliament who’ ordinarily reside in distant States. I was a member of a committee which considered the development of Canberra, the chairman of which was Senator McCallum. The members of that committee had an opportunity to question the greatest experts in Australia about the construction” of a new Parliament House. A leading expert was questioned by me about accommodation for Ministers, members and officers of the Parliament. In reply to me he said that he could not conceive of any government constructing a new Parliament House in Canberra without making ample provision to accommodate members in flats or flatettes whichever they preferred. I merely wanted to inform Senator Branson of the opinion given by an expert several years ago.
I propose to look at this legislation as would a typical elector. The first thought that would occur to such a person is this: Is there sufficient work for 25 Ministers to perform? If the answer were “ No “, he would not support the proposal. No elector stands for such nonsense as the creation of ministerial posts’ when there is no work for the extra Ministers to perform. I believe there is sufficient work in the Commonwealth at the present time for 25 Ministers. The population of Australia exceeds 10,000,000, and it is constantly increasing. I read in the press just recently that the new Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) said that he proposed to bring at least 10,000 migrants from Britain this year. Every day more activities are being undertaken by the Commonwealth Government, and this year the Government proposes to collect revenue amounting to £1,800,000,000. Somebody may say: “ Well, the Treasury is down the road in what is known as West Block.” It will handle most of the funds, but nearly every department that is operating is a revenue collecting department. If is is not, you can take it from me that it is a department that is expending money.
If we have ministers who will apply themselves to the work of their departments, the increased expenditure on salaries for the additional Ministers and the heads of their departments who enter the golden circle of the Public Service, and perhaps for the extra number df public servants who will necessarily be employed, will be infinitesimal when matched against the savings that may be effected by efficient, hard-working ministers. On the other hand, a minister who was appointed might say to himself: “ At last I have struck gold; I am in the Ministry. I can now take it easy.” He could be like the new world heavyweight boxing cham-pion, Cassius Clay. He could say, “I am the greatest “, and carry on accordingly. At the end of the day, he would be happy to sign the correspondence that was placed before him. That would be a different proposition indeed, and something that the typical Australian citizen is against. But if the public see that Ministers are efficient and are living close to the work of their departments they will get all the support in the world. We will not then have the inefficiency that comes before us in a slight way now and again from some branches of the Public Service.
I am sure that we all wish we had the opportunity that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had when he was enlarging the Ministry and making his choice of men to fill the positions. I would love to spend an hour doing that. I would have relieved him of the task readily. I discussed this matter with one or two members, and they said it was like a game of chess. The Prime Minister sat on one .side and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) on the other. There were so. many squares on a board, and the names of ministers were put in certain squares. The Prime Minister changed the placings and Mr. McEwen altered them again. Finally, in the real spirit of co-operation, they decided on the proposals that have been placed before the Parliament. We might feel that the Prime Minister could have done better than he has done. For example, I have always wondered why the Commonwealth Office of Education was attached to the Prime Minister’s Department. I have found that many members of the Parliament do not know exactly the work of the Commonwealth Office of Education. It was primarily responsible for bringing to the Commonwealth some thousands of students from South-East Asia every year under the Colombo Plan. It was found that there was lack of staff to carry out the work and the Department of External Affairs had to take over a great portion of it. Few of us realized the great work the Commonwealth Office of Education was doing. If a minister were appointed to look after that office primarily, then, with the new legislation coming in, he would have .a full-time job. I would like to see a minister appointed to look after that job, and that job alone.
We can see that there will be an increase in expenditure. We shall have to pay three more members of the Parliament the salaries that are paid to ministers and there, will be three more ministerial motor cars.Of course, there will also be an increase in the Public Service. However, as I have said already, if the additional ministers do their work well, the extra cost will be well worth while. We want a very efficient Public Service and the only way to have it in my opinion is to have good ministers.
Earlier, an honorable senator referred to the Minister for Territories. I challenge any honorable senator in the chamber at present and any member of the Government to tell me how the £25,000,000 we voted for the administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is spent. I would like to know how much is spent on native welfare in Papua and New Guinea. I should like to know whether it is wisely spent. I want the details. We asa Parliament voted millions of pounds and made the money available, through the Treasury, for the administration of Papua and New Guinea. In the Territory, there is a kind of parliament and many departments to spend that money as well as revenues collected internally. But we do not know how the money is expended. We have only a vague idea of what is being done with the money. Sometimes, I feel ashamed because of my lack of knowledge of how money is spent in certain parts of the Commonwealth.
I refer also to some matters related to the Northern Territory. We voted a fairly substantial sum for aboriginal welfare in the Northern Territory but the money was not spent. This Parliament has not been informed why it was not spent. We have not been given an adequate reason. The wish of the Parliament was flouted. Think of the duties that must be performed by the Minister for Territories. If the mosquitoes are bad in Port Moresby, he must have them exterminated. He has to provide a subsidized bus service in Darwin and see that the children there are transported to their schools. He has a thousand and one things to do. Many of those things are done in various parts of Australia by the members of city councils. Then we find that the Minister for the Interior has to concern himself with the collection of night soil in Canberra and at the same time deal with proportional representation in the Senate. It was not so very long ago that the observatory at Mount Stromlo was attached to the Department of the Interior for administrative purposes. The Government then saw fit to transfer the observatory to the Australian National University so that the university could administer its affairs. I always held that it was good administration to transfer the observatory from the Department of the Interior.
The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) has many things to do. Whenever he is asked a question, he is always able to give a very informative reply. To me, that is evidence that he is closely associated with the affairs of the department he administers. But perhaps he is thinking about the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Victoria and is failing to attend to the abattoir requirements in Canberra. The two things are far apart, yet they are both under the control of the Department of Health. I would find it a pleasing pastime to go over all the Commonwealth departments and arrange them as I would like to see them arranged for administrative purposes, but it is not my function to do so.
Will the additional expenditure involved in the appointment of three more ministers be wasted? I think the answer is, “ No “. If we get three men who work efficiently, as ministers should, the money will be well spent. I think the typical Australian citizen should feel satisfied that the action proposed in the bill is being taken.
– In approaching this bill I ask myself, “ Is there a system of despotism growing up in the Australian Parliament? “ Some years ago a parliamentary committee was set up to review the Constitution. That committee gathered evidence and reached certain conclusions; but its report still lies dormant. This Parliament should have had the opportunity to accept it or reject it. 1 believe that the report should have been rejected, because the public, having a sixth sense, could see that if some of the recommendations contained in it were put into effect we would in truth be fast approaching a dictatorship.
We do face a constitutional problem in Australia. How do we maintain our constitutional system in the face of continual encroachment by the Executive? Take this bill as an example. In it we are presented with notification of an accomplished fact, the fact that we have three new Ministers. In it we have notification that three new Ministers were appointed, or named, or designated, whichever way you care to put it, and the number in the Ministry has been increased by three. We are now being asked to affix our seal of approval to that Executive action. Or was this the action of the Prime Minister alone? If it was, then, in truth, we are living on the edge of a dictatorship.
In justice to the new Parliament, the proposal to increase the Ministry by three should have been put to it for acceptance or rejection. If this bill were rejected, what an embarrassment it would be to the named or prospective Ministers. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that at least the Parliament should have been presented with a bill seeking its approval for the appointment of three more Ministers. If that had been done, I would have had no quarrel with the bill at all, but, to my mind, the early naming of the Ministers and their portfolios is simply arrogating to the Executive the full functions of the Parliament.
I want to make myself quite clear on that point. To date, no one has advocated more strongly than I have the principle that the Prime Minister should have the right to choose his own Ministers, but the longer I am here the more I waver in holding that belief. This Parliament should have been given the opportunity to say “ Yea “ or “ Nay “ to the proposition and certainly the new Ministers whoever they may be should not be faced with the possibility of exposure to great embarrassment should the bill be rejected by the Parliament. I do not think there is any shadow of doubt that if the Parliament had been asked first to approve of the proposal the bill would have been passed by the Parliament. 1 come now to the question of Senate representation in the Ministry. Senator McKenna had something to say about the representation of South Australia in the Ministry, and he chided me with smiling. I was not smiling at his suggestion - I was in perfect agreement with it - and if I am in agreement with it, I see no reason why I should look dismal or down in the mouth. Indeed, Senator McKenna should rejoice at the thought that he has at least converted one sinner and converted him back to the fold. I can assure the honorable senator that the people of South Australia, who have been extremely loyal to this Government, deeply regret that they have only one Minister, and even he is not a member of the inner Cabinet. Those honorable Senators who believe that some Ministers should be in the Senate must surely feel that at least one of the new Ministers should have been selected from the Senate even if only to preserve the ratio of representation in the Ministry as between the two chambers. I have never believed that the Senate’s constitutional power was strengthened by having senators in the Ministry but it must seem that either those Senate Ministers who believe that the Senate’s power is increased by the presence of Ministers in it did not press for Senate representation or, if they did, their views were relegated to limbo or joined the legion of the lost. Perhaps, in these days of prosperity, their activity is confined within narrow .limits and they are reluctant to disturb a system that works to their advantage; but it is apparent to any observant person that there is just as much latent ministerial ability within the Senate as there may be in the House of Repre- sentatives. I believe that any one who seeks to promulgate the idea - and some persons have - that there is no latent ministerial ability in the Senate is doing this chamber a disservice.
With the passing of this bill an important situation is created. In future, Government supporters in the party room will have a solid vote from 25 Ministers supporting any measure presented to Parliament irrespective of whether they have taken any part in framing it. That is a terrific handicap for back-benchers to overcome. Again, Ministers delegate their powers. Regulations are issued, and the powers conferred by those regulations may enter political spheres which are closed to ordinary legislation. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee of the Senate does an excellent job in guarding against this intrusion, but, unfortunately, the use of Executive power is not confined to any one political party. In the past we have noted that certain regulations have overridden parliamentary powers,- and backbenchers often wonder whether departments override the Government. I ask myself whether this is the situation in Australia. We know that the House of Representatives wishes to swallow the Senate, Government departments would like to by-pass the Parliament and the Executive endeavours to subordinate Parliament to its wishes. The people interested in our democratic way of life must take every step necessary to safeguard our rights and must do all they can to. find some way of curbing or preventing the Executive from taking unto itself the whole of the functions of parliament and government.
As we were never accorded an opportunity to discuss this bill in our own party room, my remarks may or may not come as something new to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner), who is in charge of the measure. As the party held no meeting whatsoever on this bill, I feel that I have the right to say whatever I wish in this chamber about it and although I am not by any means opposed to increasing the number of Ministers I do take this opportunity to voice my emphatic disapproval of the manner by which this is to be done.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice President of the Executive Council and Minister for National
Development) [5.34]. - in reply - This has been an interesting debate. I confess that it ended somewhat sooner than I thought it would, and, therefore, I am not as fully equipped to reply to all the points that have been raised as I might otherwise have been. Still, I have been here long enough to be thankful to see the passage of legislation which one is charged with piloting through the chamber. The argument of the Leader of the Opposition was to the effect that the Opposition agrees that three new Ministers are justified, but it would like the three new Ministers to hold portfolios different from those which have been selected by the Prime Minister or the Government. In reply to that argument, I say that it is not adequate for the Opposition to say that if it were in office it would appoint the three new Ministers to the portfolios of education, housing and science, instead of those allocated by the Government. After all, the Government is charged with the responsibility of administering the affairs of the nation. It has to decide what is the best way to administer the country and allocate ministerial responsibility. The Government has to answer to the people for the results of its work. Sooner or later it will have to go to the people and it will be judged by the electors upon the results of its work. It is right and proper, therefore, that the Government should make the choice, as it has done. Future events will show whether the choice was right.
On this point, as on so many others, the Government has the benefit of actual experience over a long period, and in my judgment it is best able to make a decision. I will not go into detailed arguments about portfolios but I shall briefly put a point of view about the new northern division of the Department of National Development. To establish a new portfolio of northern development would be an arduous task. It would be necessary to collect together the skills and experience that are now spread over many departments within the Commonwealth structure. In my opinion, we should not be able to recruit the staff that we wanted without detriment to existing departments. Hydrologists, geologists and geophysicists are skilled men. They are men of experience and capacity, and it would be difficult to assemble a new group of them. Once assembled, they would be in a separate watertight compartment, no longer in constant contact with their colleagues in their professions, and no longer in daily association with the work being done by their colleagues. They would be in a segregated group of their own. I suppose I could give similar examples in respect of other departments, but I do not want to develop that argument. The Prime Minister is in the position of the captain of a cricket team. A captain puts each member of the team in to bat in the position that he thinks proper. The Prime Minister allocates his Ministers in the way he thinks will give best results for the country as a whole. The criticism in relation to portfolios has not a great deal of validity.
Next, Senator McKenna pointed to the increases that have occurred ‘ in Ministers’ salaries from 1947 to 1964,’ and he made what I think was the somewhat unkind remark that whoever else had suffered, Ministers had not. I might take that argument a stage further if we are to be unpleasant in that way. I could say in reply to Senator McKenna that the same argument applies to honorable senators. They had a salary of £1,500 in 1947 and that has been increased to £2,750. If ministers are to be blamed for the increases they have received, blame must be accepted by other members of the Parliament. I make the further point that Ministers have shown restraint in this matter. The first Nicholas report made recommendations from which Ministers benefited, but at the time of the second Nicholas report a specific request, was made if my recollection is correct, that the remuneration of Ministers should not be the subject of recommendation. I direct the attention of the Senate to the fact that in a subsequent report, in which certain retiring allowances were proposed for Ministers, the recommendation was not sponsored by the Government or the Ministry.
– Nobody is reviving that, I hope.
I am making this point only to rebut what I consider was the unjust statement that, in effect, Ministers have been dealt with more liberally than circumstances justified. If there is any assent to that point of view, I invite the Senate to look at what was said in the last Richardson report, which contrasted the remuneration of Ministers with that of professional people and executives in business. This is not a matter upon which one cares to speak at great length. The question of salaries is not dealt with this bill. The legislation does not deal with the remuneration of Ministers, but with an increase in the number of ministers.
– And the amount they are to be paid.
– It deals with the number of Ministers, but the additional ministers are to be paid the remuneration at present being paid to Ministers. Because of the increase in numbers, the bill provides that the total remuneration is to be increased by £6,750. The substance of the debate is not whether Ministers are fairly or unfairly remunerated. The issue is the increase in the number of Ministers. For my part, I take a dim view of the Leader of the Opposition taking this opportunity to advance what I think is an unfair criticism.
Another point with which I wish to deal is the allegation by the Leader of the Opposition that Ministers have been busy looking after themselves instead of redeeming election promises. That again is an unfair statement. We are enlarging the size of the Ministry. New Ministers have to be appointed. Consider the portfolio that affects me. A difficult situation would be created if I were to go ahead with the intricate matters affecting housing arrangements, and a new Minister came in a few weeks later.
Briefly, I say to the Senate, that when this sessional period ends we shall be able to say, with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, that no government in the past had a better record in giving effect, during the first sessional period of a parliament, to what it promised in its policy speech. As one who is closely associated with the working out of the legislative programme and the various arrangements connected with it, I believe that most of the legislation proposed, will be passed through the Parliament before this session ends. As honorable senators know, most of the benefits have been made retrospective to dates before the Parliament met. Against that background, Mr. President, I believe that the bill is worthy of the support of the Senate. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I must confess that my newness to the chamber caused me to miss the opportunity of speaking, as I had hoped to speak, on the motion for the second reading of the bill. However, I should like to make a few comments which I hope will be relevant at this point of time.
– I rise to order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. With great respect to the honorable senator’s parliamentary experience, I hardly think it is appropriate to continue the second-reading debate in committee. The bill has been read a second time.
– I am addressing myself to the question of the increase in the number of Ministers from 22 to 25. In view of the fact that the committee decided to consider the bill as a whole, I thought that I might take this opportunity of making my comments. I was interested in the statement by Senator Benn that the cost of an increased Ministry, if the Ministers were doing their work, would be infinitesimal. With that statement I completely agree. I believe that Ministers of the Crown have very great responsibilities and, in my experience, Ministers carry out their duties very conscientiously. I do not think that the vital importance of the work that they are doing is recognized as widely as I hope it eventually will be.
I think we should remember that, in the past two decades, there has been a tremendous change in the type of work that is required of Ministers. I say that advisedly because the change that has occurred in air transport has thrown a great number of responsibilities on to Ministers which they did not carry before. That is all to the good in a country such as Australia and, because of this, I feel that more Ministers are required to carry out the responsibilities of government than were required previously. I am very glad that it has become the practice of our Ministers to travel overseas because, in the councils of the world, the voice of Australia is being heard more and more and to our advantage.I think an example of that is to be found in the paper dealing with the meat agreement which was laid on the table of the Senate earlier to-day. There is an example of how Australia is able to benefit as a result of missions by Ministers ot other countries. I should like to spend a moment of two in speaking of the greater amount of work that is required of Ministers within Australia as a result of fast air travel.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– I am interested in the comments that have been made during the discussion of this bill. I wish to express agreement with Senator Benn’s remarks, in that I believe that if the good work that is being done by ministers is to be continued there is definitely a need for their number to be increased. It is correct to say that the cost of the increase is infinitesimal when it is related to the service that Ministers give to the community.
– I rise to refer briefly to three matters that I raised during the second-reading debate and to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) whether he would care to comment on the position of South Australia in relation to Cabinet representation. I direct the attention of the committee to the fact that South Australia has one Minister out of 25 in the Ministry and is not represented at all in the Cabinet of twelve ministers. It is the only State not represented in the Cabinet. Tasmania’s representation in the Cabinet has been halved. It now has only one representative, whereas previously it had two. The third matter upon which I request the Minister to comment is that the increase in the Ministry has not meant an addition to the number of Senate Ministers.
– I am quite pleased that the Government proposes to increase the number of ministers. I believe that the bill is worthy of support. The cost of the Ministry is to be increased as a result, and the proposed additional cost should be justified. I think that the cost of the Ministry is not as great as it might be. There is a need in this Parliament for younger members to be trained in the onerous duties of ministers. It appears that the Australian Labour Party will never have the honour of occupying the government benches in this Parliament. Therefore, I see a lot of merit in the fact that relatively young nien are being included in the Ministry. However, this trend could be carried further by providing the present members of the Ministry with helpers, a system that was adopted some years ago when under-secretaries were appointed. I understand it was abandoned because the under-secretaries were not recognized by the Speaker of that time. I suggest that that method could be adopted by the Government as a means of training men to take the place of some of the ageing Ministers. The Government seems to be going on forever, but I do not think that the Ministers will do so. Senator McKenna referred to education-
– Order! I remind the honorable senator that we are in committee. He seems to be trying to make a second-reading speech.
– I am discussing the necessity, Mr. Chairman, to spend the additional amount of £6,000 which has been referred to. I think that my remarks are relevant to clause 4. It was stated that the new Minister had not been doing a great deal to draft legislation on education. Tha responsible Minister may have been working for quite a long time on the legislation, but no doubt he has had difficulty in obtaining the agreement of certain of the States to some of the matters involved in the promise made by the Government. I presume that he has been working on the legislation for a considerable period. I hope that within the next day or two some of the States will have the opportunity to reach a decision and will decide to support the Government in this great promise that it has made to the people.
Senator McKenna also referred to tha representation of the various States on the Ministry. In the case of Tasmania, there was not a great deal of choice. Nevertheless, I believe that the Senate should have been given greater representation. Only a few days ago the shadow cabinet of the Labour Party was elected by the caucus. I point out that the principle which Senator McKenna has been advocating was not followed on that occasion, because Queensland is not represented on the Labour Party shadow cabinet.
– Order! The honorable senator is out of order. His remarks have nothing to do with the bill.
– I suggest they are relevant, Mr. Chairman. Senator McKenna has already referred to the representation of the States in the Ministry. I believe that this is an important bill because it permits of the training of members of this Parliament in the onerous duties of ministers at a time in their lives when they may reasonably expect to have a substantial number pf years of office ahead of them.
[8.8]. - I shall reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) as a matter of courtesy, but in truth I do not care to comment upon the distribution of ministers as between the Houses and as between the State’s. This is a problem which confronts all Prime Ministers and all parties. I am indebted to Senator Cole for reminding mc that honorable senators opposite have encountered the problem in connexion with their own. executive. They have not found it possible to allocate with mathematical exactitude the representation of the various States and Houses of Parliament. In the composition of the Cabinet I have no doubt that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) must take into account the capacity, the ability and the personality of individual members and senators, and also to try to do what is equitable so far as the States are concerned. He must take into account the fact that there are two Houses in the Parliament and that, on our side of politics, there are two parties which form a coalition government.
I do not think that a mathematically exact solution could be reached, particularly in circumstances such as those that we have faced here, with a Tasmanian minister of great eminence being Ambassador designate to Washington and a South Australian minister of seniority and eminence being High Commissioner designate to London. 1 think there must always be ebb and flow as between the various States, the two Houses of the Parliament and the two parties. Therefore, I shall do no more than say that I think that in the circumstances the Prime Minister has chosen wisely and well.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27th February (vide page 105), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a bill to alter the Public Service Act, to make some changes in the departments and corresponding changes in the heads of departments. Clause 3 deals with the former proposal. It merely seeks, first, the alteration of the name of the Department of Trade to the Department of Trade and Industry - we have no objection to that - and secondly, the addition of a new department, the Department of Housing - we have no objection to that. But in the committee stage I shall move an amendment to delete clause (b) and, whilst including the Department of Housing, . to add three more departments, Department of Education, Department of Northern Development, and Department of Science and Research. We of the Opposition feel that the matters of education, northern development, and science and research are not to be approached in any piecemeal way. There should be an ad hoc approach to the solution of problems in those great fields. A long-term programme should be embarked on only after the problem has been teased out into its constituent elements, only after the problem is clearly investigated and understood.
The Government has certainly made an imaginative approach to the question of university education. We have commended the Government for what it has done in that field. Now, pressed into adopting some form of national approach in fields outside university education, it produces two proposals, the first relating to scholarships in secondary schools and technical schools, and the second to help the establishment and equipment of scientific laboratories in schools.
– There is a third - capital grants to technical schools.
– That is true. That again picks out individual items in the whole field of education, without correlating all the constituent parts leading up to the university, and without envisaging the whole scheme. What is wanted very plainly, in the view of the Opposition, is another complete investigation of all aspects of education - a service of the type rendered by the Murray committee in relation to universities. It is quite wrong to be taking a snippet out of a proposal put up by the Labour Party and pretending, by selecting a few individual items that affect education, that that is a national approach to education.
I remind the Senate of what we put to the people in November last. I propose to read one or two brief extracts from what was said on the subject of education, to indicate the breadth of the view that we take. I shall also deal with the question of science and research. I feel that I cannot do better than put the broad, dynamic view that we of the Labour Party possess in these two great fields. On the question of education, Mr. Calwell on our behalf said -
Education is one of the neglected tasks facing the governments of Australia to-day. It has been said, and truly said, that education is the most important activity of civilized nations. Labour puts education at the centre of its current thinking. An educated democracy is a powerful democracy and for a nation as small as Australia education is the key to our survival.
He went on to say -
We further propose to set up an inquiry into all aspects of education in Australia. A Labour government will expect that inquiry to provide a blueprint for education in Australia for the next decade. We will act on the report when we receive it. In short, Labour will plan education as a major task facing the nation. The question is not just how much we can afford to spend. Australia just cannot afford the waste of not investing heavily in education now.
That summarizes our attitude to this vastly important problem. It is the thought that underlies what has been said by Mr. Calwell which induces us to move for the setting up of a Commonwealth Department of Education charged with the complete national responsibility over the whole field.
I shall read a little more in relation to science than I read in relation to education. Mr. Calwell said -
As I have said, Labour is determined that there shall be a revolution in Australia’s approach to education. We are equally determined that Australia shall play its full part in the revolution that is going on in the world around us, the revolution in science, technology and automation. We propose to harness these great forces of change and progress to the development and prosperity of Australia. At present we spend - governments, industry and the universities combined - about 3 per cent, of our national income on research, less than Switzerland spends in chemical research alone.
– What impact did you envisage that would make on the States’ function in education?
– Our powers at the moment, as the honorable senator knows, are under section 96 to make grants in aid, and under the new social services power to provide benefits to students. We would have to confine our activities to that. But under the first proposition there is unlimited scope for the Commonwealth to give leadership, as it has done in the case of the universities, and to provide funds.
– But the responsibility for university expenditure is outstandingly clear, is it not?
– It is. That has been provided for very well. I have acknowledged that. I have dealt with education. I am now dealing with science and research.
– I was referring to responsibility for expenditure of university finance.
– That is clearly primarily on the States.
– We are just the taxing authority that hands it on.
– No, that is where we differ entirely from the Government. From the eminence of the National Parliament, we should see that Australia develops evenly, that all children are given equal opportunities. In science or technology equal opportunity should be provided throughout the nation. When we have six different States approaching the problem, applying different standards, we have all kinds of trouble. There must be some authority - it can only be the Commonwealth - to overlook the whole education scheme, pick out the defects, and co-ordinate all activities in the field. The Commonwealth has a great role to play in co-ordinating the well-meaning activities that are undertaken in the States. I am not suggesting that the Commonwealth should act alone. What the Labour Party suggests is that the Commonwealth should work in the closest co-operation with the States. Then we would have a body with a national outlook and with national resources which could give the necessary leadership and bring the States together and which could co-ordinate and strengthen their efforts. I now propose to read a passage dealing with science and research.
– Do you say that you believe in a revolution in education?
– Is that why you had a revolution in your party?
– I am not aware of what the honorable senator is talking about.
– You do not even know what happened to-day.
– I do not. Now let me come back to research and science.
– To sanity.
– Yes, to sanity; at least to relevance. Dealing with those two subjects, Mr. Calwell said -
Our objective is clear: in human terms, we want wider opportunities for Australia to develop and exercise technical and scientific skills. On the economic side, we want to improve the efficiency of Australian industry.
We therefore propose -
To establish a National Science Foundation to expand, organize and co-ordinate scientific education and research.
Encourage, by tax concessions, Australian industry to undertake research.
Arrange for and finance at least 1,000 young men and women to be sent overseas each year for technical training.
Encourage, both by tax concession and subsidy, Australian industry to expand its training facilities for technicians and scientific workers.
We aim at spending at. least £10,000,000 annually, in the early stages of our program, in this way. What a small price this is to pay to acquire the skill and knowledge we must have to grow and prosper. We already pay £90 million a year in profit to overseas companies, and the Government justifies this on the ground that these companies bring us new techniques and know-how. We pay £15 million a year in royalties for foreign patents and copyrights. We thus lean too heavily on overseas countries for these advantages.
Unless we take urgent steps now to place Australia in the forefront of the scientific revolution, we are doomed to be a nation of borrowers and imitators, living precariously on the fruits of foreign research. This is completely contrary to our national traditions.
That statement breathes the proper spirit of national direction and leadership. It provides the justification for our seeking to create a new department to deal with science and research.
– I take it that you are arguing that science and research should be a national function and not a higher education function.
– May I place the two matters in separate categories, as we did in the policy speech? We dealt with education by itself and then we dealt with science and research from the viewpoint of both abstract research and more particularly research applied to the particular needs of Australia. In my view, that does impinge to a degree upon what I have termed education simpliciter, because it is quite clear that the scientific man must be trained at almost all stages. Children cannot go straight from an ordinary secular education to science at universities unless they have been prepared at the secondary school level. It is to ascertain what is required in bringing out the best in our children and to ascertain whether they have technical or scientific bents that we want these two ministries established. We want not only scientific training but also scientific research applied in industry for Australian purposes. Our policy is broad and imaginative, and in our view is necessary.
I now come to northern development. The shortest way in which to express our outlook in the matter is to read the following few extracts from what Mr. Calwell said in November -
The rapid development of our empty, undefended North is an article of faith with the Labor Movement.
Labor will develop the North, to save the North and all Australia, for Australians.
We will, therefore, create a special Ministry for the Northern Territory and Northern Australia to collaborate with the State Governments of Western Australia and Queensland in order to achieve the rapid economic development of the whole vast area north of the 26th parallel of latitude - the top half of Australia.
– And, of course, providing it with such defence facilities as are necessary?
– And you have that £60,000,000 grant by America for radio facilities. How does that fit in with what we are doing?
– We have roamed into the field of defence. I agree that it is allied to the development of the north; the two matters are inseparably linked. In regard to America, I take it that our attitude to a base of the kind that has been established in the west would be identical and that we would support its establishment, as we did the establishment of the base at North West Cape, but that we would seek to preserve an element of dignity and sovereignty in the course of any arrangements made. In other words, I should say without hesitation that we would be prepared to give to the United States of America complete co-operation but that we would not be prepared to be subservient in extending that co-operation. In regard to northern development, Mr. Calwell proceeded -
What we would like to see are consortiums formed by the Commonwealth and the State Governments concerned and private enterprise to assist development, lt would b.e much better establishing Australian based and controlled industries of this sort, and particularly if they are started up in North Australia, rather than allow iron ore and coal and bauxite deposits to be shipped overseas for use in the manufacture of goods and materials for very profitable re-export by the foreign countries that are permitted to exploit our national resources.
I developed that theme when I spoke to the earlier bill.
With those brief comments I indicate that, in addition to the new Department of Housing for which provision is made in the bill, we provide for education, northern development and science and research. It will be netted that in the amendments I have caused to be circulated there appears a second set of amendments to clause 4. They are conditional upon the earlier amendment being agreed to. I and other members of my party recognize that it is of no use establishing new permanent heads without- providing for the departments. So, if the first amendment is carried, I shall proceed with the second. If the first is npt carried, I do not propose to proceed with what is a purely consequential amendment.
.- We are dealing with a bill which when passed will have effect as from 17th December last. The probability is that already arrangements have been made by the Public Service Board to recruit the secretaries or some of the staff that will be necessary to carry out the work of the two departments mentioned in the bill. At the moment I cannot see how the Department of Housing will perform any work which will be different from that carried out in the past in relation to this activity. It is not clear to me whether there will be a concentration of the housing activities of the Commonwealth Government under a single control - that is a Minister for Housing with a secretary of the Department of Housing.
There may be new work to be performed by the Department of Trade and Industry. It is not clear to me, after reading the bill and examining what the Minister said in introducing it, whether an endeavour will be made by the Department of Trade and Industry to establish new industries in the Commonwealth and whether that department will co-operate with the State Government departments which already have officers constantly seeking new industries for their States.
If it is the intention of the Government to have a secretary in charge of the Department of Trade and Industry and one of his functions is to have in mind always the possibility of establishing new industries in. the Commonwealth, then he will have a glorious opportunity to ascertain what industries might be established. He will be able to see what goods are being constantly imported and are not being manufactured in Australia. He will be able to report to the Minister the classes of goods we are forced to import. The results of his observations could be passed on to State government authorities or bodies with tha responsibility of watching industrial development so that new industries could be established in Australia. The man who is appointed head of the department undoubtedly will be an officer fully qualified to carry out his duties. He will be a very efficient, punctilious officer, I am sure. I have a very high regard for the members of the Commonwealth Public Service and I believe that whoever is appointed will live up to the expectations of this Parliament.
There are strange features associated with the Commonwealth Public Service and I am sure that all members of the Parliament are not aware of them. For instance, when the secretary of a department is granted a staff through the agency of the Public Service Board, he is then in charge of the staff. His officers form a kind of empire for him. Nobody can take a member of his staff from him. I have always thought that the Public Service Board would have authority vested in it to take staff from any department and transfer the male or female public servants to another department, but I have found that that is not possible. The head of a department can agree to a transfer but there is no complete authority vested in the Public Service Board to go in, make an investigation, ascertain if there is any surplus staff in a department and transfer those who may be found to be surplus to a department which may be short of staff.
It does happen in the Public Service, as in businesses, that there is a pressure of work in one department and a slack period in another. There is no way of adjusting that situation at present. For example, the secretary of a department cannot transfer surplus staff to another department, and the Public Service Board cannot enter a department - the domain and kingdom of the head of the department - and transfer staff to another department. Perhaps I could bring this matter up again at another time when we are discussing something else but I have taken this opportunity to mention it now because I do not want to see a new department made top heavy with unnecessary staff. No member of this Parliament wants that to happen, and no member of the Public Service wants to be one of a group of public servants who have insufficient work to perform.
– In speaking to the motion for the second-reading of the bill, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) first agreed that there was nothing objectionable in the first provision, which is virtually a change of name of a department. Then he foreshadowed amendments which will be moved by him in committee. No doubt for convenience^ - I do not offer criticism of this - the honorable senator spoke, in effect, to the proposed amendments. I want to offer, briefly, a few comments about the proposed amendments. In truth, I wonder whether they are not inconsistent with Standing Order No. 139, relating to relevancy.
The Senate is dealing with the Public Service Bill, but an attempt has been made to use this simple bill to create a department of education, a department of northern development and a department of science and research, which, of course, are monumental things. Such establishments would involve the Commonwealth Government in colossal expenditure, and for that reason also I wonder whether the proposed amendments are consistent with the Standing Orders. I listened with a degree of interest to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, who presented a case for a department of education, a department of northern development and a department of science and research. I do not necessarily disagree with all of the case he put, but I do ask whether this is the time to discuss such matters and whether such a discussion is in conformity with the Standing Orders. Can we discuss matters which are not relevant to the bill before the House? If we can do that, we can do anything.
– Is the honorable senator asking for a ruling?
– I do not think this is the time to ask for a ruling. Perhaps we could ask for a ruling in committee. Since the Leader of the Opposition discussed the matter in the second-reading stage, I thought I would project this point of view now. The proposals could cost the Government, if not millions of pounds certainly hundreds of thousands of pounds. J wonder whether we are in order in discussing such matters at this stage.
.- The remarks of the Leader of tie Opposition (Senator McKenna) consisted for the most part of reasons why three new departments ought to be created by the Commonwealth Government - one each for education, science, and research and northern development. The honorable senator gave reasons why they should be set up now. I am directing my attention to whether they should or should not be set up now, not to the general question of whether they should ever be set up in Australia. I would reply on behalf of the Government that the Government does not feel that the creation of these departments is necessary for the good government of Australia or for the attainment of the objectives the Leader of the Opposition said he was seeking.
We heard from the Leader of the Opposition in another place a re-statement of the proposals on education put before the people by him at the last election for the House of Representatives. They were broad, sweeping statements. They indicated a desire to attain a goal which I think everybody will agree is a good goal to attain; but there was nothing specific in them. Something specific was put forward by the Government, something specific was accepted, and that something specific is an approach to the goal suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). For his argument to contain any substance, he must show that the creation of a department of education, for instance, is necessary in order to attain the goal which he says he seeks to attain; but he adduced no argument to indicate that that is so. He did make the statement that education was neglected, yet, in the same breath, he paid a tribute to the imaginative and skilful approach that has been made to universities, a very important part of education.
There was a suggestion that a survey of educational needs in Australia ought to be made. Whether that is true, or whether it is not true, it is certainly true that it is not necessary to establish a department of education in order to carry out a survey of the educational needs of Australia. Indeed, I would have thought that if this was felt so strongly by the Leader of the
Opposition then the reverse sequence would have been more correct; that is to say, a survey should be carried out in order to see whether a department of education was necessary at this stage.
There were one or two aspects of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition which I found a little disquieting. I refer specifically to the suggestion that the Federal Government should take over complete responsibility for education throughout the national field. I myself would not like to see the Constitution changed - and it would need to be changed for this to be done - to bring about a situation where some central education minister could say about the whole of Australia: “I know that in every part of Australia the curricula of schools are the same, the standards of schools are the same and the length of time spent on secondary education is the same. I know that at any given moment in any given school throughout Australia a particular lesson is being taught in a particular way.” As I think most honorable senators know, I arn not one of those who are blindly enamoured of States’ rights or alleged States’ rights, but I am one who believes that a disservice would be done to education if the local administration of curricula, if the local decisions on standards and length of time spent at school and if the local decisions as to where schools should be built and where they were most wanted were taken away from the local authorities most closely in touch with the needs of the areas which they serve.
I think leadership may well come in the future, but it may be a matter for argument as to whether or not some central government should take responsibility for providing full finance for all forms of education. I make no comment one way or the other, although I do think that to go beyond that stage and seek the control of education throughout the whole of Australia would be a very dangerous and very retrograde step. I spent some time on that point, which is not directly germane to what the Leader of the Opposition was advancing or what I am advancing, merely because I thought it was of importance. I suggest there has been no case advanced by the Leader of the Opposition to show that it is necessary now to create a department of education in order to attain the goals which he says he wishes to attain or to create either of the other departments in order to attain the goals in those fields which are held forth as being desirable.
The mere creation of a department does not attain a goal. Indeed, I believe that the propositions accepted at the last election for specific steps towards a goal are far more final and liable to have far greater results than is this suggestion that we create new departments. If it is desired that from an early age people in Australia should acquire scientific skills, then, surely, the finite step required is the provision of scientific teaching laboratories in schools. That would be the finite step to be put forward, accepted and implemented. If it is desired that people, especially those of a higher grade of intelligence, should have no impediments to their progress from school to university, surely the finite step to take is to provide scholarships to such people so that they may make that progress. Those are the propositions which the Government is advancing. They are the steps which we think will attain the general goals on which both Senator McKenna and myself are, I think, in agreement. They are the steps which the Government thinks will attain those goals at this stage more quickly than will the creation of three new departments, especially when we have not been shown in any way how the creation of those departments will help to attain the goals which we wish to attain.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
The Second Schedule to the Principal Act is amended -
– I move -
Leave out paragraph (b), insert - “ (b) by adding at the end thereof the following words: -
The Departmentof Housing.
The Department of Northern Development.
The Department of Science and Research.’.”.
I think the memories of honorable senators regarding what happened in the Senate in the second-reading debate are fresh enough to make it unnecessary for me to repeat the arguments that I introduced in favour of the addition of these three new portfolios. I merely take the opportunity to remind the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) in particular that I did not then make any proposal, nor do I make it now, for the Commonwealth to take over education in its entirety. If he thinks I suggested that on a past occasion he has misunderstood me or misinterpreted my remarks. I thought I had made it quite clear that what I envisaged was Commonwealth leadership and finance for I drew attention to the two provisions in the Constitution under which it is proposed the Commonwealth should act. For instance, I referred to section 96 which permits grants in aid with or without conditions and to the social services item which enables the Commonwealth to provide benefits to students. I certainly do not envisage, nor does my party envisage, the ousting of the States from the field by reason of the fact that we should set up departments of this type any more than we would seek to oust Western Australia or Queensland from northern development. The Minister developed a very interesting argument against what he thought I said, but I remind him that I have put no such proposal. With those comments, I commend the amendment to the committee.
– I merely rise to express regret if I have misunderstood or misinterpreted what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said. The note which I made while he was delivering his second-reading speech was that he wished the Commonwealth to be charged with complete national responsibility for education over the whole field. That seemed to me to permit of only one interpretation. If the interpretation I placed upon what he said is wrong, then I am glad to hear it.
– Ienter this debate with, I am afraid, no really , deep conclusions to contribute. I am bound to confess that Senator McKenna’s amendment took me by surprise. I should like to give a great deal more thought to the matters which he raised. I do not intend to traverse the matters raised by Senator Gorton, who is the Minister assisting the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to give fulfillment to our policy speech in respect of those matters. Knowing Senator Gorton as I do, I am sure that he will be able to deal with the situation with great clarity.
Like Senator Gorton, I was slightly puzzled by Senator McKenna’s remarks in relation to setting up a ministry of education. I felt that Senator Gorton had the same impression as I had, because when he replied to Senator McKenna he said that Labour was suggesting that education be taken over by the Federal Government. I have here the policy speech delivered by the Leader of the Australian Labour Party and I can now verify what Senator McKenna has said. There is nothing in the paragraph dealing with education to indicate in any way that the Australian Labour Party proposed to set up a ministry of education if it were elected. However, if the amendment moved by Senator McKenna was passed, there would, in reality, be a Commonwealth ministry of education.
The fact is that if you set up a Commonwealth ministry to deal with a function that is in the custody of the States, then, because of the primary power of the Commonwealth in relation to finance, the result is that, dc facto, if not in law, that ministry becomes the paramount ministry. If we set up a Commonwealth ministry of education in Australia - in time that may well be done, and there is a promise that it will be done -if the Australian Labour Party reaches the treasury bench - inevitably the principles under which education would be carried out in Australia would be laid down by a central ministry located in Canberra. I am one of those who believe that in diversity there is not only strength but also the possession of a good deal of liberty. Under the present system, if the people of Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland or New South Wales believe there is anything wrong with their educational systems, they can take .direct, action to get the difficulties straightened out in their State parliaments. There is not an honorable senator who is not aware of the constant pressures of State governments to make variations which the people think are accessary.
I do not want to intrude too much into matters that properly come within the province of Senator Gorton. I pass on to the other matters referred to by Senator McKenna. A ministry of housing is, of course, proposed in the bill we discussed earlier to-day. I pass on to the question of a ministry for science and research and a ministry for northern development. Senator McKenna has moved an amendment seeking to set up a ministry of science and research. I have looked at the policy speech that Mr. Calwell delivered on the eve of the last federal election, but there is nothing in that speech about setting up a ministry for science and research. Mr. Calwell said -
We propose, therefore, to establish a national science foundation to extend, organize and coordinate scientific education and research.
This suggestion for the establishment of a ministry for science and research is quite new. I am opposed to the setting up of such a ministry at the stage of development we have reached in Australia at present. I ask the Senate: How far is it possible for a national administration to guide and fertilize science? It seems to me that science flourishes most vigorously when no central control is operating. Scientific progress can be made only where there is a great deal of freedom. We could establish a national ministry for science and research with the object of promoting the advancement of science in Australia, but in fact we would achieve the opposite result. We would stifle research at the very roots. The national interest would overshadow science itself. The Government, which is allpowerful because it controls the money, would inevitably find itself in the position that it began to stretch out its hands, as it were, and indicate along what lines scientists were to conduct their researches into basic and applied science.
This situation, of course, occurs in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where there is a single agency/’that directs all of the activities of the nation in relation to science. There is in Russia no free investigation of science, such as must exist if science is to flourish and have strong roots. What Senator McKenna proposes would, in the final analysis, in my opinion, put an end to scientific research in Australia, operating on the widest possible front. We have in Australia at present scientific investigation moving on the widest possible front with the greatest possible freedom. Within the federal sphere we have the National Health and Medical Research Council. That council deals with the loose ends - with those things that are not taken care of by scientific investigation in the State teaching universities, where medical science is conducted in great freedom and beyond the control of governments. We will have, as was forecast in a statement made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) on 19th February, a water resources council, set up in conjunction with the. States to investigate hydrology in Australia. That relates to another ministry proposed by Senator McKenna, namely, a northern development ministry. A northern development ministry could not operate unless it had an exact knowledge of the needs of northern Australia. It would have to apply to the ministry for science and research to obtain the information without which northern development could not proceed.
We have an atomic research authority operating at Lucas Heights in New South Wales, free from direct intrusion by governments, lt conducts basic research into the problems of atomic science. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization conducts research into pure science on one level and into applied science on another. Is that body to be swallowed up by the proposed ministry for research and science? Is it to disappear? Is this proposed ministry to have the power to direct scientific activities? The application of the scientific discoveries of the C.S.I.R.O., particularly in the field of primary production, concerns applied science, which comes within the functions of the States to a substantia] degree.
Then there are the State research operations that are being conducted at present. Basic medical scientific research is being carried out in the great teaching universities in the States of South Australia, Tasmania tend New, -South. ,Wales.. Is the function of aJ
A case certainly could be made out by Senator McKenna against the C.S.I.R.O. He could say that it is not contributing anything to the stream of scientific life in Australia, and that all it does is to draw scientists away from the universities, although the reverse should be taking place. In my view, the C.S.I.R.O. is an empire that, in part at any rate, could be dismembered. A great many of the activities of this body could be taken over by the teaching universities. I believe that the main stream of scientific capacity can exist only in association with the universities. Yet the C.S.I.R.O. is sucking the new life away from the teaching universities of the States.
– That is quite wrong.
– It is correct. What is a ministry of scientific research to do in relation to medicine? Will it take over the whole of medical research which is now carried out in the great teaching hospitals of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia or are the teaching hospitals and universities in the States to be embedded in a new ministry?
– That would cost millions of pounds.
– In fact, the Opposition proposes that the committee should take an enormous step in the dark as a result of which the damage that would occur and the sums of money that would be involved are incalculable. On those grounds alone, I suggest that the amendment should be thrown out of the chamber without further argument.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) proposes to set up three departments - a department of education, a department of northern development and a department of science and research. Replying to Senator McKenna the Minister for Works’ (Senator Gorton) failed to- speak on northern development at all. He attacked Senator McKenna in relation to education, science and research. I am interested in northern development. I think it is time that the Government recognized that a department should be set up for the purposes of northern development. The Government proposes to set up a division, or a sub-department, within the Department of National Development for that purpose.
The Opposition proposes that the administration of the northern part of Australia should be removed from the Department of National Development. We propose that a new body should be established which would have its own records and staff. Then, when the government of the day considered the time appropriate to have a Ministry of Northern Development, the organization would be established and ready for the responsible Minister. This preparedness would avoid the kind of situation which now exists in relation to the new Department of Housing, where there is a bit of a shambles. As a result, something that was promised to the people over three months ago has not yet been given to them and it is not likely to be given to them for some weeks to come. The Department of Housing should have been ready to give effect to the Government’s promises.
The Opposition is of the opinion that a department of northern development should be set up now in order that it may be ready to take whatever action the government of the day may require of it. If the amendment before the committee is carried, we shall propose that provision be made for the appointment of a secretary of the department. It is interesting to see what the Government proposes to spend in the north. During the comparatively short period in which I have been a member of this Parliament the amounts spent and proposed to be spent in Queensland have amounted to £37,070,000 and in Western Australia to £13,589,000. The 1963-64 Budget provides for the expenditure of £8,586,000 on special works in the Northern Territory. These figures make a total of £59,252,000. It is true that, other than in the Northern Territory, this money will be spent by State authorities. Nevertheless, the money is being provided by the Commonwealth Government. Much of it is only an advance and will be returned to the Commonwealth with interest. We believe that a department of northern development should be set up for the purpose of co-ordinating all the activities necessary for the development of the north.
Pressure has come both from Queensland and Western Australia for the creation of a northern development commission similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. It has been suggested that when the authority ceases its activities in the Snowy Mountains it should be transferred to the work of developing northern Australia. That cannot be done if a start is not made sometime. The Minister may reply that this is not the time to set up such a department. However, the Australian Labour Party told the people from the hustings in November, 1963, that if it were returned as a government it would immediately set up a ministry for northern development. The Government parties said that they would create a sub-department of the Department of National Development. No doubt, gradually, that sub-department will be separated from the Department of National Development but it will be difficult to find out what is going on. The Opposition considers that a department of northern development should be established with its own secretary who should obtain his staff and get on with the job.
– During the secondreading debate I indicated that, in committee, I would take a point of order and submit the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) should be ruled out of order. I believe it is out of order on two counts. One is based on Standing Order No. 139, because the proposal clearly seeks to introduce new matter - the creation of a new department - into the bill. As Senator Cormack demonstrated, the establishment of the new department could cost the Treasury almost unlimited sums of money. Therefore, the amendment is inconsistent with the Constitution in that respect. In view of the fact that the amendment is not in the form of a request, I submit that it is out of order.
– I wish to reply briefly to the point of order. Standing Order No. 139 provides, I think, that an amendment must be relevant to the particular clause “before the committee.
Senator Anderson will concede that the Government’s action in moving to alter the Second Schedule by the addition of a new department is in order, how can it be irrelevant to propose that, instead of adding the name of one new department, the names of two, three or four departments be added? It is of the very essence of relevance that I should be free to do that. I have only to state that fact in order to indicate how true it is and how clear it is that my amendment is not irrelevant. With regard to the contention that the amendment, if adopted, would add to the financial burden, I say that the point could be legitimately raised only in relation to an appropriation bill. The bill before us docs not seek in any way to appropriate money. Therefore, the argument that Senator Anderson has addressed to the committee is completely irrelevant. There is no appropriation in the bill at all.
– When is the appropriation made?
– If any appropriation were made, it would be made in another form - in an appropriation bill.
– And if it were disallowed, who would pay the department?
– If there were no appropriation nobody would pay it. Surely the honorable senator knows the answer to that.
– That is right.
– We are not dealing with an appropriation at all.
– Then why set up a department before you have the money for it?
– I see no appropriation yet but I have no doubt that it will be forthcoming. At the same time, this is not a bill to appropriate money.
– The point of order is not upheld.
– I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to deal with a point put forward by Senator Cormack regarding the proposal to develop a ministry of education. 1 think the fact that the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) has been appointed to assist the Prime ..Minister (Sir Robert
Menzies) in relation to matters of research and education indicates that the Government has seen that the establishment of a department of education is inevitable. I think that the time is ripe for the establishment of a separate ministry of education. I do not refer to education in the narrow sense as envisaged by Senator Cormack and Senator Gorton who have alleged that a federal interest in education would mean that every child in every part of Australia would be working on the same curriculum at the same time every day. Such an assertion takes the case to a ridiculous extreme. No director of education in any State would attempt to exercise power in the way that it has been suggested it would be exercised by a federal authority if the proposed Ministry of Education came into existence. The Labour Party takes a broader view of education than that. Australia is a large, country and so is the United States of America. Quite recently I had the great privilege to study some of the educational problems in America, problems which are similar to those that we have in this country. The United States Ministry of Education was carrying out research into problems which are just as germane to Australia as they are to the United States. One problem which readily comes to mind and which could well be discussed by a Commonwealth department or ministry of education is that of the fall-out. I refer, of course, not to fall-out from atomic explosions, but to the falling out of school leavers. Children do not conclude their full secondary courses and are thrown on to the community without being equipped by special training of any kind. This is a problem which already exists in Australia. No State department has the wherewithal to undertake the necessary investigation of the problem before it assumes the great proportions which it is assuming in countries overseas.
I envisage the time when the ministry of education, which I think will have to be established eventually in the Commonwealth because the Commonwealth Government has control of the finance which is essential to the solution of this problem and many of the other problems which confront Australia to-day, will thoroughly investigate the matter. A great deal of work is already being done in the field of education at the university level. Work is also being done in connexion with pre-school children, at the other end of the ladder, but the big majority in between, consisting of about 70 per cent, of the educational field, is not being touched by the Commonwealth at all. There is to-day a resurgence of interest in all the problems of education in every State of the Commonwealth. We should deal with this matter not on a party basis at all but in a non-party spirit and on a national level.
In every State there is a growing feeling in the community that education is a matter which can be tackled only on a national basis by a national ministry of education. The Commonwealth Office of Education exists at present, but its scope is much too narrow. I feel that it could be developed into a full-time ministry. If it is not possible to have a ministry to deal with science and research as well, those activities could be incorporated for the time being in the activities administered by the Ministry of Education. Science and research are just as important to Australia as they are to Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union, in all of which ministries of science and research are to be found. At this time, when the Federal Government is extending its ministerial ranks and is creating new portfolios, it is appropriate for these matters to receive the consideration of the Senate and of the Parliament as a whole. I give my warmest support to the amendment, moved by my leader.
– I should like the Minister to explain what the Commonwealth Office of Education does. It seems to me that we already have a Commonwealth educational authority.
– Yes, we have a Commonwealth Office of Education. It is involved in a considerable number of activities. I shall list some of them for the honorable senator but I cannot be sure that I have listed all of them because I have not yet had time to make myself acquainted with all of them. The Commonwealth Office of Education is involved in providing educational assistance to members of Com monwealth countries. When students from such countries come to Australia the Office of Education looks after their educational problems while they are here. It has an involvement with Colombo Plan students. It does not select the countries from which they are to come, or anything of that kind, but it looks after educational matters for them while they are here. It prepares publications which keep ex-Colombo Plan students who have gone back to their countries in touch with events in Australia in the fields in which they were trained. It is responsible for laying down the rules and conditions under which Commonwealth scholarships to universities are allotted. The States act as agents in this respect, but the rules governing the granting of the scholarships are laid down by the Office of Education, and in the ultimate, appeals against rulings of the States may be made to the Office of Education by particular students.
– Would the body that Senator McKenna is suggesting should be set up in any way take the place of the Office, of Education?
– At this stage I do not know precisely what Senator McKenna is suggesting. At one point of his speech I thought - apparently wrongly - he was suggesting that we should take full responsibility for education in every field. The Commonwealth Office of Education does not do that. In any case, Senator McKenna was not suggesting that that should be done. Nevertheless, the Office of Education has a great participation in educational activities. It undertakes liaison duties with the State educational authorities in various fields. It engages in such matters as joint Commonwealth-State inquiries into education’ by television, for instance. The Commonwealth, of course, before the last genera] election was providing finance for Commonwealth Government university scholarships, and in the future it will be providing scholarships in other fields.
I should like to refer to a comment made by Senator Tangney. I find myself in strong disagreement with both Senator Tangney and Senator Cormack, particularly in relation to Senator Cormack’s remarks concerning the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Senator Tangney said that a great field of the central part of education was not touched at all by the Commonwealth Government. While this may seem to be true, in fact it is not true. I agree that this field is not touched directly by the Commonwealth Government, but that the Commonwealth has a strong effect on it indirectly is indisputable. If the honorable senator looks at the amounts of money which have been made available to the State Governments year by year to enable them to increase educational activities in the fields to which she referred, she will see how greatly the Commonwealth Government is in fact indirectly assisting in those fields, while leaving the actual implementation of policy to the States.
– In all States or only in the claimant States?
– In all States.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Third Schedule)
– I indicated earlier that if we were defeated on the first amendment I would not proceed to move the second amendment which has been circulated, which is purely consequential upon the first.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27th February (vide page 103), on motion by Senator Morris -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May It Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– This is one of those rather rare opportunities presented to honorable senators to speak on the Address-in-Reply. It is welcome, as there are very few limitations upon the subject-matter that one may discuss. This is the first Address-in-Reply debate in which I have had the opportunity of participating since my election to this chamber. I recognize that the opportunity presents itself twelve months earlier than would normally have been the case, as a result of the Government’s adoption of Labour’s 1961 financial policy of deficit budgeting, which restored the country from the state of depression in which it was following the Menzies credit squeeze. Because of the prosperity enjoyed in 1963, the Government thought that it was more advantageous to hold an election in November last than at any- time in the foreseeable future.
During the election campaign the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) assured the electors that the Government had no intention, if returned, of introducing another credit squeeze. However since the Government’s re-election to the treasury bench, with its complacent acquiescence or with its co-operation the Commonwealth Bank has called in £99,000,000 of statutory reserve deposits from the private banks. This suggests that the Labour Party was accurate in its statement that the Government was pledged to a policy of stop and go, and that the prosperity brought about by the adoption of Labour’s 1961 proposals was for the purpose of winning an election, with a determination to return us to the state of depression that we saw in 1961.
To my mind, the Governor-General’s Speech is disappointing. It commences with an expression of regret at the inability of Her Majesty the Queen Mother to visit Australia at present, owing to illness. It expresses regret also at the assassination of President Kennedy, and it expresses sympathy to the relatives of those who lost their lives in the “ Voyager “ disaster. The Opposition joins with the Government in endorsing the expressions of regret and sympathy that are contained in the Speech.
The Speech contains the same statements as have been made to the Parliament from time to time since I have been a member of it, to justify the Government’s custodianship of the Commonwealth by showing that expenditure on various items has increased in comparison with the expenditure in previous years. Obviously, with the increase in prices, the failure to restore value to the £1, and the greater mechanization that exists to-day, unless there was an increase in expenditure we would be slipping back in the maintenance of essential services. It may well be that in spite of increased expenditure, because of the disasters that have occurred within the Navy over the past twelve months we are not as well fortified as we were previously. I do not think any reason has been advanced for the recent loss of property and life. It would be of advantage if we had an administration which could prevent accidents such as those which have been occurring in the Navy rather than an administration which boasts of having improved the defence of Australia by the expenditure of additional funds. The record of the Government at all times must be tested by our ascertaining whether it is meeting the requirements of the country.
His Excellency said that expenditure on modern equipment for the Army is being increased from £10,000,000 to £17,500,000 each year, covering a complete range of weapons. There is nothing in the Speech to indicate whether this expenditure is providing us. with a modern army when compared with the armies of other nations. We were further told that defence expenditure has increased from £203,000,000 in 1961-62 to more than £260,000,000 this financial year. That is an increase of £57,000,000, but there is no indication whether that more than covers the increased cost of commodities that are purchased from time to time. There is no indication in the Speech as to whether that increased expenditure will make a greater contribution to defence than did the expenditure of 1961-62.
The Governor-General then said -
The production and sale of goods and services have continued to rise strongly; levels of building and construction are high; dwellings are being erected at a rate exceeding 100,000 a year.
Although we are erecting dwellings at that rate, we are not meeting the requirements of the house-hungry population of Australia.
Then the Governor-General’s Speech, after setting out a lot of propaganda and after trying to give the Government a boost because of what it had expended, set out the legislation which it is proposed to introduce during this session. Much of that legislation will be designed to give to various sections of the community concessions which we were told as late as October last, when we were debating the Budget, could not be financed. We were told that there was a bottom to the Government’s purse and that the money available must be spent to the best advantage. As late as October last such concessions as increased child endowment were supposed not to be possible. The expenditure of huge sums on benefits for different sections of the community became possible only after the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) delivered his policy speech in Melbourne and before the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) delivered his. . C1 . ,t Dep .
The debate on the motion for the adop-tion of the Address-in-Reply has been somewhat disappointing. Since the Parliament mct last week Labour’s attitude has not been encouraging at all times. Labour has taken badly its defeat at a time when it thought it was near victory. I do not believe that the thought that Labour would win the last election was entertained only on this side of the chamber. Many on the other side were afraid that Labour would succeed. Defeat at a time when Labour thought it was on the verge of victory was a shock to the party. The party has been left in a state of disheartenment which has been reflected during this debate. There has been no expression of disappointment al the fact that the Governor-General’s Speech did not indicate that the Govern- ment proposed to introduce legislation that would be of greater benefit to the community. There has been no strong opposition to the Government’s proposals - no spirited debate. That suggests that Labour’s disappointment is perhaps greater than it was at first thought.
Whilst Labour may seem to be disappointed, I point out that the party has never been stronger than in times of adversity. Labour has suffered worse defeats than it suffered in November last. It has to put up with the lies and perfidy that are circulated at election time and in between elections. The Labour Party has to put up with scurrilous newspaper propaganda which has a wide circulation and which it cannot circumvent by its own methods of propaganda. Labour has to put up with splinter group betrayals from time to time and with the onslaughts permitted by the apparently unlimited resources of opposing forces. Despite all these handicaps. Labour has won an election and in the future will hold office again. Irrespective of the results of elections, there has never been a time when the Labour Party has not been prepared to hold itself in readiness to govern and in time of crisis to pull the country out of the mess that the opponents of Labour have created.
I believe it would be of some benefit to have an investigation of what happened on 30th November last. To find the reason for what happened would be of benefit to my party and the nation. Perhaps the word “ post-mortem “ is not the most suitable word to use for an investigation of the results of the election, because the most certain finding of any ordinary post-mortem is that the body is dead. There is no suggestion that the Labour Party is dead. During the next three years Labour will show to Australia that it has more fight and determination than it has ever had in the past. The Australian Labour Party will never be dead while there remains in Australia an underprivileged class which needs the party for protection and to obtain justice.
There have been many assumptions about the reasons for Labour’s losing the last election. When I was a lad learning my trade, I learnt that guesswork was the quickest way in which to find the answer - if you guessed right the first time. If you did not guess correctly the first time, you made sure and used some method other than guesswork the next time. Many theories have been advanced as to why the Australian Labour Party lost the elections. We could quickly come to a conclusion on how to rectify our mistakes if we happened the first time to find the correct reason for our defeat among the multitude of reasons put forward for it. Once you get the correct answer, you can act upon it and find a solution to a problem.
But there is a possibility that we might not be accepting the right reason and so might not be correct. Like a coroner, we can base a finding only on the evidence. I want to consider the evidence to ascertain whether we can find a basis for the Labour Party’s defeat.
History has taught us that the electors of Australia normally vote Liberal. I do not know all the reasons why they do so. Some seem to think they gain prestige or social status by voting Liberal. Be that as it may, Labour is elected to the treasury bench only in times of crisis. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) thought fit to sneer when I said that the Labour Party was ready and prepared, when required, to pull the country out of the mess into which Liberal administrations had got it. Labour was returned to office in Australia during both world wars and in the depression years. Those were the only years when Labour had a majority in the Commonwealth Parliament. The Labour Party camp- near to victory ,in 1961, when there were 135,000 unemployed in Australia. With much the same policy in 1963, we were rejected by the people. This lends credence to the belief that the Australian electors vote Liberal except in times of crisis, when they turn to the Australian Labour Party for salvation. In 1963, when the country had been restored to a state of prosperity by the adoption of the Labour Party’s 1961 financial proposals, there was the traditional Labour vote except in New South Wales, which I shall deal with separately. In the other States of the Commonwealth, there was the traditional vote for the Labour Party. In 1963, the vote for Labour was 2.8 per cent, higher than in 1958; so on normal figures we cannot be discouraged by the vote for Labour in 1963.
Those who represent the Labour Party and would seek to govern should ask themselves: Should the Labour Party simply wait for a time of crisis to win an election, or is there some method by which it can gain office in a time of prosperity and gain some rewards from the natural development of the country instead of the discredit it must attract by measures necessary during a time of crisis? I have a deep feeling that Labour could win office if it changed its policy, or emphasized the policy that, rather than that it can govern better than the Liberal Party, it can govern differently from the Liberal Party. That should be the basis of Labour’s approach to future elections. This is more than an assumption on my part; it is based on facts. We must forget the idea that we can govern for the better security of investments and to keep secure the interests of big business and monopolies. We must adopt the policy that we can govern more justly and, accordingly, regard the electors of Australia on a more just basis according to their contributions to the welfare of the nation.
Improved social services have always been a plank of the Labour Party’s policy. At the last elections, this plank of the platform was given as a reason why the Labour Party should have been returned to office. But better social services will never win an election. This is not a controversial statement; it is a simple fact. Since 1950, the Australian Labour Party has presented better proposals for social service benefits than those offered by tire1’ Liberal Party, yet on /»’ fi s)- -.. . bt* each occasion the Labour Party has been defeated. Social services legislation is designed to help the under-privileged section of the community. But because of their under-privileged position, people in that section of the community are normally Labour voters anyhow. We do not gain one extra vote from that source. At any time, social service legislation is supported by those who will receive the benefits of it, or at least by some of them. Normally, the largest number of recipients of social service benefits are Labour voters, because of their place in society.
Social service legislation is always opposed by those who would not be the recipients of the benefits. Some recipients of social service benefits who have a better standard of living because they are in a higher income bracket oppose any social service proposals that would bring the underprivileged group up to their social or financial standing. They will put their privileged position above some other standard. They are difficult to convince on proposals for increased social service benefits. They will not accept arguments that some one who is below them in living standards should have better social service benefits. As I have said, the Australian Labour Party has presented a social service policy since 1950. Whilst it must be recognized that such a policy will never win an election, the Labour Party must continue to offer better social service benefits because the Labour organization thinks it is the right thing to do. At no time should Labour’s policy be designed merely to win an election. It should be based on the fact that it is the policy to benefit a deserving section of the community.
Within the Labour Party - as in the case in all political parties - we have varying sections holding differing opinions. These range from one extreme to the other. There are in the Labour Party those who want a more forthright and forceful policy. They want, one might say, a militant policy; but the newspapers of Australia have branded them as the left wing of the Australian Labour Party. At the other extreme, there are sections of the party who seek a r.ore conservative approach. They have a sincere and definite belief that we should show the electors that we can govern better than the present Government; that we would not make as many mistakes as this Government; that we are honest and would endeavour to legislate in a more capable manner. They have been branded the right wing of the Labour Party by the newspapers of Australia. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that two sections do exist in the Labour Party, but I believe that the members of both sections are sincere in their beliefs. I also believe that both sections are essential integral parts of the Labour Party. I am always generous to my opponents if they win on any particular point. The Labour Party as a whole is the sole judge and the party as a whole has every right to accept the beliefs of those who may differ with me if it agrees with those beliefs. But we do have two sections and in the last few weeks the newspapers have been very forthright in naming the members of each group.
An examination of the federal election figures discloses that in 1963 there was a swing of 2.9 per cent, against the Labour Party compared with 1961, but I point out that there was no such swing in those seats where the Labour candidate was a member of the group which the newspapers of Australia have referred to as the leftwingers or militants of the Labour Party. In fact, the members of those groups, with the exception of those in New South Wales, with whom I shall deal separately, increased their majorities, and I emphasize that they increased them at a time when there was an overall Australian swing against the Labour Party. For instance, in Victoria a prominent figure is the left-wing group of the party represents the people of Yarra. In 1961, he polled 52.1 per cent, of the votes for that electorate whereas in 1963 he polled 56 per cent, of the votes. In other words, he enjoyed an increase of 3.9 per cent, in the votes polled for him. In Queensland one who might be described as being most prominent in this group - the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) - polled 52.7 per cent, of the votes in 1961 and 57.6 per cent, in 1963. He, too, enjoyed an increase of some 5.1 per cent, in the voting. The leader of this group in South Australia polled 67.9 per cent, of the votes in 1961 and 71.9 per cent, in 1963.
The position was somewhat different in Western Australia, where the yoting disclosed a slight swing to Labour in most of the seats. The only seat in which Labour’s majority was reduced was Fremantle, and the Labour candidate was a member of what the newspapers called the right or cautious wing, the other extreme in the party. I emphasize here that I do not say this of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in any derogatory manner. In 1961, this candidate polled 67.7 per cent, of the votes, but in 1963 he polled only 54.9 per cent, of them.
Surely those figures indicate that if it is only a question of our being able to govern better than the Liberal Party, it becomes a question only of personalities. We make no claim that there is anything lacking in the personality of the Prime Minister of Australia. However, I emphasize that in those States in which the members of the Labour Party were slandered by the press for their extreme views and their desire to fight strongly in upholding the beliefs of the party, the Australian Labour Party increased its majority. That result occurred at a time when the majority of votes for the party throughout Australia was reduced. 1 suggest, therefore, that the facts establish that in future the Labour Party must become a more forceful fighting organization in presenting its policy to the electors of Australia, and that all its candidates must emulate the stand taken by those who increased their majorities in 1963. If our candidates do so, then, within three years, Labour will be returned as the government of this country.
I do not accept the claim that the Australian Democratic Labour Party had any influence on the results of the last two elections. No one can tell me that the Australian elector is so stupid that he will be influenced, when casting his vote, by pictures of the skull and crossbones or of swords. After hearing many opinions, I will never be convinced that the D.L.P.’s television programme did anything but discredit that party in the eyes of the electors. I remind honorable senators that the number of votes polled by the D.L.P. decreased at the time when the votes cast for the Liberal Party increased. I point out, too, that when I was taking part in the Denison by-election recently, it was disclosed in Hobart that when the D.L.P. first came into the picture in 1958 2,000 votes. were-recorded for .it and those, cast for the’ Liberal Party’s candidate dropped by 2,666’
At the last election, the number of votes recorded for the D.L.P. decreased while those cast for the Liberal Party increased. Therefore, it is clear that all that the D.L.P. has succeeded in doing at recent elections has been to take from the Liberal Party votes that normally would go to it.
During the recent election campaign, Senator Cole was more honest than he normally is. He went to Queensland, which 1 understand was the only place where he could get a hearing with safety, and told the people in a broadcast speech that the Australian Democratic Labour Party would prefer the return of the Menzies Government to the return of a Labour government. On that occasion, the D.L.P. dropped all pretensions to being an opponent of the Liberal party. After such a declaration, can any one honestly claim that a Labour supporter would vote for the D.L.P.?
I am sure that the Liberal Party realizes only too well that Labour supporters will not vote for the D.L.P., but the Liberals are not concerned about that because they know that even though the D.L.P. may be taking first preference votes from them, they get them back as second preferences. I think, too, that the Liberal Party finances the D.L.P. because its members know that the members of the D.L.P. will engage in a type of political campaign which is too filthy for an’y respectable party to engage in. I am’ confident that the term “ postmortem “ will be a most appropriate one to apply to an examination of the D.L.P. after the next Senate election.
Although I have discussed the political position in Australia generally, it is essential that we examine separately what happened in New South Wales as the movement there did not follow the Australian pattern. Let us try to discover what went wrong for the Labour Party in that State. It is interesting to note that in New South Wales the overall vote for Labour dropped by 5.1 per cent. One significant fact that emerges is that every New South Wales Labour candidate who was returned in 1961 with a majority of 6,000 votes or less lost his seat in 1963. And this happened irrespective of ideologies or the section pf the party to which the particular member belonged, lt happened to the militants, the right-wingers and those who travel the middle of the road. ; The fact is that all those who had a majority -of 6,000 or less in 1961 lost their seats at the last election when the swing away from Labour reduced the total vote for the party in that State by 5.1 per cent. Obviously we cannot blame President Kennedy’s assassination for this peculiarity of New South Wales. If President Kennedy’s assassination had an effect on the election, why was the effect peculiar to New South Wales?
There was a suggestion that the Prime Minister’s statement on aid to denominational schools was the reason for the support he received from the Catholic group in New South Wales, which normally votes Labour. As this policy had application to the whole of the Commonwealth, why would it be reflected in the election results in New South Wales alone, and not in other States? If any one believes that this policy played any part in the debacle in New South Wales, the result of the WollongongPort Kembla by-election last Saturday would surely dispel that belief. Commonwealth aid to denominational schools could have no effect on State issues, but the results of that election again showed the adverse vote against Labour that was evident in the federal elections.
We must search deeply to find the reasons for the debacle in New South Wales at the federal elections. Something occurred between the end of August, when a byelection was held in East Sydney at which the Labour candidate was returned with a big majority, and 30th November, when, at the general election, the Labour candidate was returned with a majority reduced by 6.6 per cent. Something happened in New South Wales during that period which had an adverse effect on the Labour vote in that State. The only event of political significance peculiar to New South Wales during that period was the decision of the New South Wales Government to give some aid to denominational schools, contrary to the federal policy of the Australian Labour Party. Later the decision was modified.
It may be suggested that a promise to give aid to denominational schools will assist the party which makes it, but- it must be remembered that, as disclosed in the current Commonwealth “ Year Book “, only 24.1 per cent, of children attend nongovernment schools at the present time. While government aid would no doubt be desirable to the parents of those children, a move to give this aid would surely be opposed by the parents of the other 76 per cent, who are being educated in government schools. Those parents would not desire to pay additional taxes for the purpose of enabling a hand-out to be given to denominational schools. 1 feel, therefore, that New South Wales paid the penalty for the action of the New South Wales Government, which had to be rectified by the federal executive of the Labour Party.
The subject of aid to denominational schools was mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, Although this is a controversial question, it is obvious that aid is necessary if some schools are to continue to exist. I speak as one who spent the whole of his school life in a non-government school. At no time did I attend a government school. I know the disabilities of these institutions. Possibly I am not a good example to quote in support of granting assistance to these schools. I do not condemn the school I attended; it possibly had, in me, poor material to start with. However, I know that some of the nongovernment schools produce remarkable scholars. I have sympathy for the teachers in these schools because of the hardships that they have to face. I believe that the position is getting worse.
The main case for an increased grant for education is the crowding in State schools. The latest Commonwealth “Year Book” discloses that the ratio of pupils to teachers in government schools is 27.6, and in nongovernment schools 28.3. However, the year book discloses an alarming situation. The ratio in most non-government schools is sixteen to seventeen pupils to one teacher, but in the Roman Catholic schools - and three-quarters of the children attending nongovernment schools attend Roman Catholic schools - the ratio is 34.8 pupils to one teacher. That is a serious position when we compare that ratio with the ratio of 27.6 pupils to one teacher in government schools, at a time when there is great agitation because of overcrowding in class rooms in government schools. The Commonwealth “ Year Book “ discloses also that in South Australia neither the standard of nongovernment schools nor the standard of the teaching in them is policed by the Government.
However, let me say that the Australian Labour Party is opposed to any action being taken to close these schools, and is not in any way condemning them.
Prior to the election, in the hope of obtaining votes, the Government parties came out with a policy of aid to private or non-government schools for the erection of science blocks. Referring to this matter the Governor-General said -
An amount of £5,000,000 per annum will be made available to all secondary schools, government and independent, for the provision of building and equipment facilities for science teaching. There will be an annual grant of £5,000,000 to the States towards the building and equipment costs of technical schools.
On the face of it that seems to be a good proposition and one that will be appreciated by some schools. In 1960, the Ministers for Education of the States met and drew up a list of proposals to meet the needs of education in Australia. The Ministers reviewed these proposals in 1962 and again in 1963 and placed their conclusions before the Prime Minister, with the object of seeking federal aid for education. Next week the Prime Minister is to hold a. meeting in Canberra to discuss this report with the State Ministers. The point I make is that the Prime Minister had this report before him before the last election.
The proposal of the Ministers is that to bring present accommodation up to date by adding such items as science rooms, gymnasium halls and housing for teachers an estimated expenditure of £50,000,00 will be required. That is the view of the responsible Ministers for Education throughout Australia. Fifty million pounds is necessary to provide these facilities in governmentcontrolled schools, without taking into consideration non-government-controlled schools. They have also estimated that to provide buildings to accommodate increased enrolments and to build and equip technical institutions to modern standards over the next four years would require not less than £30,000,000. The Prime Minister is to meet the Ministers for Education in eon.ference next week to consider that estimate. However, the Prime Minister has already decided to tell them that they will be given £5,000,000 per annum for science teaching facilities. This amount will have to be shared between government and nongovernment schools. The Commonwealth will also give the States £5,000,000l towards the building and equipping of techical schools. Again, we find the Government, instead of making a concession, falling down on its responsibility to provide proper educational -standards even in government schools.
On this matter, the policy of the Australian Labour Party is clear. Mr. Kennedy made it clear that no aid would be given to denominational schools. It has been shown by the inability of the Commonwealth Government to meet the requirements of the State education departments that any aid to non-government schools can only be given to the detriment of government schools. With that knowledge, the Labour Party declared its policy last year to the effect that citizens who did not use the school facilities provided by the State, whether for reasons of conscience or for other reasons, should have the absolute right to develop an independent system of schools of a recognized standard provided that they did so at their own cost. As I have said before, the Labour Party offers no opposition to the continuation of such schools. A Labour government would accept responsibility for providing educational facilities, but the party considers that people who want to educate their children at private schools should pay for it. We members of the party concede that some people send their children to nongovernment schools in the belief that their educational facilities are better than those in government schools, but we believe that any fear on that score would disappear if a Labour government were given the opportunity to provide proper educational facilities under a Commonwealth department of education as has been suggested to-night. People would then send their children to non-government schools only for reasons of snobbery and not for better educational facilities.
I want to make a few remarks in the time available to me concerning the election issue raised by Senator Ormonde last Thursday when he spoke about the so-called 36 faceless men. I expect to be told that Labour’s policy concerning denominational schools which I read is the decision of the 36 faceless men. When the allegation concerning those men was published during the general election campaign the Labour Party’ Jm most* States replied to ‘it through the daily newspapers. I know that in Western Australia the Labour Party published the names of the six representatives from Western Australia. In South Australia the party published the names of the six State representatives together with the photographs of these faceless men. They included Senator Toohey, Mr. Clyde Cameron who is the member for Hindmarsh in another place, Mr. Nicholls who is now the member for Bonython, and Mr. Birrell who is now the member for Port Adelaide. The whole of the 36 representatives were highly respected men occupying prominent positions in the industrial or trade union movement of Australia.
– Senator Dittmer is one of them.
– Senator Dittmer was not at the last conference but, from time to time, he has been a member of the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party.
– The Leader of the Labour Party in Queensland was one of them.
– At all times, the representatives have been men of high repute occupying important positions. I was not very much concerned at the term faceless men because I do not think it matters who were the 36 individuals at the conference. They were present, not as individuals, but as the appointed representatives of approximately 2,500,000 politically enlightened supporters of the Australian Labour Party. When those 36 men made a decision it was the decision of 2,500,000 people who were not ordinary citizens of Australia but who constituted those sections of the community who had associated themselves with a political party. This fact showed that they had made a study of political issues, of economics and of industrial affairs. They had expressed their opinion as 2,500,000 supporters of the Australian Labour Party. They had expressed it by the election of delegates to a conference at which they could raise questions.
When we talk of the decisions of the Labour Party’s federal conference, we talk of decisions of the whole membership of the Labour Party throughout Australia.. Of the 2,500i000 supporters of the Labour
Party there are few who can take jobs in the Labour movement. There are few who can obtain political positions. So this is an organization, not of self-seekers, but of persons who have united because of their study of political questions and because of their desire to do what they believe is right for the nation.
When Senator Ormonde was speaking on this subject there was an interjection to the effect that the Liberals believe in the independence of the elected representative. Let us examine that statement. The members of the Parliamentary Labour Party occupy a position of trust for the purpose of carrying out the policy which has been presented to the people. This policy has been approved by the huge membership of the Australian Labour Party - the politically enlightened section of the community which must arrive at a policy which is beneficial to the nation. Parts of the policy have been accepted by the Liberal Party on numerous occasions. Indeed, the Liberal Party has actually pirated parts of that policy. We do not object to that action but it is an indication that we have an acceptable policy which will benefit the nation.
What kind of people would we be if we were to use the machinery, the administrative arrangements and the work of the organization to obtain positions of privilege and prestige, with high wages, and if we came to this Parliament and spoke about the independence of elected representatives and voted contrary to the views of those who had put us in those positions? I say to the members of the Liberal Party in the Senate that they would never have been elected to this place if it had not been for the party machine. Are they not pledged to an organization? Is it not true that one person decides the policy of their organization instead of all the members, as in the Labour Party?
There is nothing to be afraid of in the Labour Party’s policy-making machine. There is nothing to be ashamed of in the method by which the Labour Party determines its policy. As I have said, we have an enlightened community of 2,500,000 people who are determining the policy. Decisions are made free of individual selfinterest It has been suggested that we should scrap that system in order to permit the election of independent representatives. Is it also suggested that we should have representatives, as other parties have, whose only interest is in saving their miserable hides from the wrath of the electors? Surely no sincere person would suggest that interests of self-preservation should be superimposed on the policy-making machinery of an organization. The sole purpose of the Australian Labour Party is to work for the good of the nation. We make no apology for the fact that we are servants of an organization and that the political machine is not a policy-making body. As the Liberal Party has shown on previous occasions, when political parties or politicians decide policy they invariably do so with one eye to the winning of elections.
The policy of the Labour Party is not concerned with expediency but with the welfare of the nation. We shall continue to advocate higher social service benefits, although that may not result in an increase of votes. We shall continue to do what we think is right for the nation, whether or not it is acceptable to the electors of Australia. We may not share the plums of office, but we are determining policies which are adopted by the Liberal Party in times of crisis for the purpose of getting it out of the mess in which its own policies have placed it. I have had much pleasure in participating in the debate on the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [10.24]. - I rise to take part in the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech and to express my thanks to His Excellency for the Speech he delivered on the occasion of the opening of the Parliament. I should like to congratulate Senator Morris, who has been elected to the Senate. He brings with him vast experience and knowledge of the State of Queensland. The knowledge that he has gained as a member of the Queensland Cabinet and as one who has travelled throughout the length and breadth of Queensland will, I believe, be of great value to us in the debates in this chamber.
I join other speakers in expressing loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. With all her other citizens who are linked together in this great family that we know as the Commonwealth of Nations, I say again to-day. the prayer which I believe is in all our hearts - “ God save the Queen! “ It was a very great disappointment that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was unable to visit us because of illness. We have very happy memories of other visits by Her Majesty and we look forward to a time in the not-too-distant future when she will be with us once more.
It is sad to read at the beginning of His Excellency’s Speech his comments concerning the tragedy of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. To-night, I pay tribute to the gallant young men of “ Voyager “ and to the courage of all the young men who go down to the sea in ships. Such men have built for us a great naval tradition and have played a part, in the years of war, in keeping this country free. These are the things of which we are reminded when we think of this very recent tragedy.
The Speech of the Governor-General is, I believe, a forward-looking speech which tells the people of Australia of the policies of this Government, policies of vision and of understanding and knowledge of the needs of Australians. It is a forwardlooking story of development and growth, and of security for the people who live within our shores. These must always be matters of the greatest importance to every resident of Australia. Development in a country of the size of Australia is, I believe, of major importance. We must realize that nearly 40 per cent, of Australia’s area lies in the tropics, and that this area covers more than 1,000,000 square miles. It is as large as India and ten times as large as Italy. ls it not, therefore, a challenge to the Government and, indeed, to the people of Australia? The fact that speaker after speaker in this debate has spoken of development is, I believe, worthy of note.
I want to mention for a moment or two a few factors which are of tremendous importance in the story of development in our vast northern areas. I should say, Mr. President, that the story of the development of Australia in the past has been concerned not only with men who have gone out to develop the country but also with the women who have gone with them and raised families. I say with all sincerity that whatever developmental story is considered and whatever field of development is looked at, those charged with responsibility should remember that the greatest and best development we can have is achieved when the needs of women and families are given sufficient consideration. When families go out and live in those areas children grow up there and become young men and women. When they say, “ I love this sunburnt country and I want to stay on here “ we get people who provide the best development for Australia.
We have, as we know, excellent people working in the fields of research. 1 should like to think that in future plans for development consideration will be given to research into the best kind of housing for our northern areas, with a view to designing housing which is suitable for hot climatic conditions, because 1 believe that that is important in the development of the northern areas. We have seen in our State of Queensland what the Royal Flying Doctor Service has meant, what the School of the Air has meant and what the Flying Ambulance Service has meant. Those things have provided security for families, and because of them people have gone into the outback areas. We have also seen the importance of air transportation. Air travel has enabled people to reach remote areas more readily and to leave them for holidays, or to send their children to boardtog schools. As a Queenslander, I am very proud to be able to say that Queensland has the biggest airports in Australia outside the capital cities. We have 130 airports. Queensland is regarded as one of the most important States in airport development. It also is important in this field because it has developed the use of light aircraft to a great extent. In fact, Queensland is showing the way to other States in the use of light aircraft as a means of development. This is of vast importance.
I was glad to notice in His Excellency’s Speech a reference to the fact that there is to be a reduction in the price of petroleum products in country areas. I believe that this is a matter which must be of major importance in the story of development.
Death of ex-Senator William James Large.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Over recent years it has been a practice of the Senate to make no reference to the passing of ex-senators unless they had been Ministers, but I should like to occupy the time of the Senate for a few moments to refer to ex-senator William James Large, who died the day before yesterday and was buried this morning. He was a colleague of mine in this Parliament and a man of very pleasant disposition. Those who were associated with him appreciated his character and his contributions to the debates of this Parliament.
He was elected to the Senate for New South Wales in the general elections of 1940 and 1946 and was defeated in the general election of 1951. He served on a number of committees of the Parliament. He was a member of the Profits Committee in 1941 and 1942; a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances from November, 1941, to October, 1947, being chairman of it from October, 1943, to August, 1946; and a member of the War Expenditure Committee from September, 1943 to 1945. He was a leader of the Australian delegation to the first session of the Civil Engineering and Public Works Committee of the International Labour Organization at Brussels in November and December, 1946.
On behalf, I think, of all honorable senators, I should like to convey sympathy to his daughter and other relatives, and to place on record the Senate’s recognition of his many years of meritorious service to the Parliament.
– It gives me very great pleasure to support the remarks so ably made by Senator O’Byrne on the passing of ex-Senator William James Large. I did not have the privilege of knowing Senator Large when he first entered this Parliament or of his work within the precincts of Parliament House, but he was president of the Homedale branch of the Australian Labour Party when I first joined the Labour movement immediately upon my discharge from the .Army after World War II. Senator William Large - or Bill Large, as he was known to me - had a profound effect on my way of life. I grew up with his daughter and I am proud to say that she remains a very close friend of mine and of my family.
Senator Large was one of the finest men whom I ever had the privilege of knowing. He was sincere, honest, diligent, a great Australian and a good Labour man. He will be missed, not only by myself, not only by my colleagues in this Parliament, but also by the rank and file of the great Labour movement. I join with my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, in extending to his family deepest sympathy in their sad bereavement.
[10.34]. - I regret to say that I had not heard of the death of ex-Senator Large until Senator O’Byrne rose to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I should like to associate myself with the expressions of sympathy for his family. I remember him well in the Senate as a man of very kindly disposition who was very popular with us all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 March 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640303_senate_25_s25/>.