25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address the following questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it true that Senator Gorton, when addressing the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists at the Academy of Science in Canberra, said that psychiatric problems were increasing and that this was due to an increase in leisure time? Do not senators have a larger amount of leisure time than is enjoyed by members of other callings? If this is so, how does the Minister account for the high standard of sanity in the Senate, the mental calm that pervades its sittings, and the lack of psychiatric problems troubling its members?
– As the question relates to what I am alleged to have said, perhaps the honorable senator would extend to me the courtesy of allowing me to reply to it.
– Certainly, if the honorable senator wishes to do so.
– Thank you. Senator Brown may think it appropriate that I was given the opportunity to open the conference of psychiatrists which is being held in Canberra. It is quite true that during the course of my address I expressed the opinion - I may say that it was later given some support by the professional people who were present - that the increasing incidence of psychiatric disorders could well be the result of an increasing amount of leisure, for the full use of which training, perhaps, had not been provided. It may well be that that is the position. It certainly is in certain cases with which I shall not weary the Senate at present. As to the second part of the question, I imagine that the high standard of mental stability in the Senate is a matter of opinion. Where it does exist, it is the result of the great attention which Senators give to their constituents and which leaves them with very little unused leisure time.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether pensioners who do not receive a full pension will receive the full reduction of telephone rentals that was announced yesterday, or only part thereof.
– Yesterday the Postmaster-General issued a fairly comprehensive statement about concession telephone rentals for pensioners. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the statement in “ Hansard “.
Commenting today on the announcement by the Prime Minister that a 331/3 per cent. reduction on existing telephone rentals would be granted to certain pensioners, including blind people, the Postmaster-General, Mr. Alan Hulme, said that the concession would be granted only to those pensioners who qualified for reduced broadcast listeners’ licences or reduced television viewers’ licences, as laid down in the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-19.63.
The section of the Act concerned (section 128) reads (in part): - “A broadcast listener’s licence or a television viewer’s licence, or a renewal of such a licence, may be granted free of charge to a blind person over the age of sixteen years . . . “A broadcast listener’s licence, or a renewal of such a licence, may be granted, on payment of a fee of Ten shillings in the case of a licence specifying an address in Zone 1 or on payment of a fee of Seven shillings in the case of a licence specifying an address in Zone 2, to a pensioner who -
Telephone rentals for exclusive services operative from October 1st, 1964, are: -
Savings for pensioners qualifying for the 331/3 per cent. concession will be, respectively, £2 13s. 4d., £4 and £6 13s. 4d., reducing their rentals in many cases to less than the rentals applying prior to the tariff increases which came into operation on October 1st.
Pensioner’s licences and those issued free to blind persons in force at June 30th last were: -
Broadcast licences -
Blind people- 3,338
Television licences -
Blind people - 1,556
War widows, who do not receive concessions for broadcast or television licences, will nevertheless be entitled to a 331/3 per cent reduction in their telephone rentals.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. My attention has been drawn to the fact that the application for a housing grant that the Government provides for newly married couples and others is required to be witnessed by a justice of the peace, or some such official. In a particular instance which was referred to me this requirement involved the applicant in travelling not less than 30 miles to find the prescribed witness. I ask the Minister whether he will convey to the Minister for Housing a message that this matter should be reconsidered because I would think that an application of that sort could be satisfactorily attested by any responsible citizen.
– Yes, I will bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for Housing.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent case in South Australia in which a 16 year old boy was called upon to give evidence’ in a law court in regard to the disposition of his father’s income, although the boy was only 12 years of age when he last saw his father? Is such a course possible in a court exercising Commonwealth jurisdiction? Would the Minister ask the Attorney-General to raise this matter with the State authorities so that a teenage boy will not be forced to give evidence in a court which might create bad feeling between father and son?
– The honorable senator gave me notice that he intended to ask this question, and the Attorney-General has supplied the following answer -
I have not seen any reports of the case to which the honorable senator refers. The principles relating to the giving of evidence by children are the same in courts exercising Federal jurisdiction as in the exercise of any other jurisdiction. The only special rules relating to the giving of evidence by children relate to the ability of a child to lake an oath and the necessity in some cases for corroboration.
I doubt if any good purpose would be served by referring the matter to the States. Even in cases involving husband and wife, where special rules have been devised relating to the giving of evidence of communications made by one to the other during marriage, there are circumstances when one party to a marriage can be compelled to give evidence concerning the other party. The sort of case to which the honorable senator refers is fortunately comparatively rare, but a greater injustice maybe done by preventing the giving of such evidence than under the present rules which permit it.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer any knowledge of a court case in which a person was fined for purchasing wages tax stamps from a post office other than that from which he originally purchased stamps? If he has, will he make representations to the Treasurer with a view to having the regulations altered so that these stamps can be purchased from the nearest post office?
– I am sorry that I have no knowledge of the case to which the honorable senator has referred. Speaking off the cuff, I would have thought that a person could buy the stamps at any post office. However, if the honorable senator puts his question on the notice paper I will obtain an answer for him.
Senator WRIGHT__ My question to the Minister for Civil Aviation refers to the published answer that the Prime Minister gave to a question in another place yesterday to the effect that the Government would ensure that a reasonable allocation of air routes within New South Wales was made. By what agency of the Commonwealth Government would such an allocation be determined?
– If the authority to grant a licence were finally assessed as resting in the Commonwealth sphere, the Department of Civil Aviation would grant the licence. However, as the honorable senator knows, the matter to which he has referred has not yet been settled.
– I should like to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the beautification of Canberra has proceeded so far and so splendidly, is there any chance of the ugly mass of masonry which is situated directly in front of Parliament House being removed to a more suitable spot?
– This is a question which would engage the attention of the Minister for the Interior rather than mine.I will bring the question to his notice, but I must say at once that I do not identify the particular mass of masonry to which the honorable senator has referred as being ugly or unsightly.
(Question No. 215.)
asked the Minister representing The Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 258.)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows -
The Defence Administration Committee has been and is functioning effectively as the reviewing authority at the official level for the defence programme. The series of defence programmes provide the necessary funds to give progressive effect to the objectives of the Government’s defence policy and they are capable of adjustment to meet requirements of the strategic situation as it may change.I refer the honorable senator to the defence reports which are presented to Parliament annually by myself to accompany the estimates of the Defence group of departments. These reports provide comprehensive information on the objectives of defence policy and the progress made in the achievement of these objectives. The effectiveness of the reviews by the Committee, since its inception in March 1959, is borne out by the expenditure achieved against the funds provided for the programmes, i.e. -
(Question No. 312.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions - 1 and 2. Control over the sale of products which have toxic ingredients are a matter for the Governments of the States concerned. However, at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine there is an Industrial Hygiene Section which investigates problems associated with industrial hygiene. A Draft Paint Standard, dealing with the labelling of all paints, is at present under consideration by the Occupational Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
(Question No. 315.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 318.)
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 321.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply - 1 and 2. Low voltage X-ray techniques are being used in several Australian hospitals to assist with the diagnosis of cancer of the breast, but the technique is still under development and has not yet reached the stage when it could be used satisfactorily for mass diagnostic programmes.
In any case, I have received no requests from State Governments for assistance in the provision of cancer-preventive measures or diagnostic equipment. If any such request were made it would have to be considered in the light of the well-established responsibilities of the various governments in the field of health. It is a responsibility of the State Governments to determine whether public campaigns should be undertaken to induce people to undergo cancer diagnostic procedures.
(Question No. 322.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions arc as follows -
The first available aircraft which could be used for the Sydney to Canberra flight was a Fokker Friendship ex Coolangatta. The Captain, who was Brisbane based, did not normally operate on .the Canberra route and was therefore unable to meet the stringent route and aerodrome endorsement requirements which are prescribed by my Department for safety reasons. The next available aircraft with a crew qualified for Canberra operations, was allotted to Flight 425.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
I had hoped that the operators could have devised a wider spread of schedules and I made it clear to them that this was my wish. However, in seeking a way to do this, they encountered some severe problems - partly commercial, but also concerned with meeting the public demand.
The problem seems to commence with the very heavy early morning demand, in each direction, on the Melbourne to Sydney route-. When schedules arc fixed to meet this demand, it can be appreciated that virtually all schedules, on all routes, are consequently fixed within very small tolerances. Both operators submitted that any significant separation in schedules would contain a strong commercial disadvantage for one operator - probably the one drawing the later schedule. In fact, it was submitted to me that, in repect of services to Perth alone, the later running operator would lose up to £900,000 per annum in revenue to the other. The schedules I have accepted allow an adequate margin for safety purposes but it is unfortunate that the could not be staggered further without imposing a heavy commercial penally on one operator or the other.
(Question No. 334.)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply to the honorable senator’s question - 1 and 2. No such proposal has been received by the Government, butI understandthat a number of proposals concerning medical benefits will be submitted to me shortly.
– I understand that the Minister for Works now has an answer to a question which I asked him yesterday in the following terms -
Is the Minister for Works aware that a minute has been issued by his Department to its regional officers stating that the amount of work authorised to date against bulk and specific maintenance is such that, when completed, it will result in the expenditure of all the available cash for the year, and that in these circumstances no further requisitions on the maintenance programme of the Postmaster-General’s Department will be authorised unless the position changes? Have construction managers and regional officers of the Department in the Sydney metropolitan area been asked to make arrangements to dismiss before Christmas 137 tradesmen employed by the Department on a day labour basis? If so, why has the dismissal of tradesmen employed by the Department on a day labour basis been ordered while no restriction has been imposed on contract work?
– I am now in a position to supply the following information -
The Director of Works, Sydney, has had to restrict his commitments for specific maintenance work on behalf of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the Sydney area in order to prevent overexpenditure of the approved appropriation and to conserve sufficient cash reserves to meet day by day requirements for maintenance. This involved some replanning of the original work planned. It applies only to maintenance work being done on behalf of the Postmaster-General’s Department, Sydney, and not on behalf of any other department. It isnot envisaged that any tradesmen will need to be dismissed but it is quite likely that some tradesmen will have to transfer from work being done by the Department of Works on behalf of the Postmaster-General’s Department to work being done by the Department of Works on behalf of some other department in various areas. The Department of Works estimates that there will be, perhaps, some 20 men affected in this way.
– Those men will not be dismissed?
– So I am told.
– by leave; - I present the following paper -
Report of the Australian Delegation to the 53rd Conference of the Inter-parliamentary Union held at Copenhagen, August 1964, together with preliminary documents.
Mr. President, I ask for leave to submit a motion in connection therewith.
– Leave is granted.
– I move -
That the Senate take note of the report.
I ask for leave to” continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the raising of loan moneys not exceeding £51,350,000 for financial assistance to the States for housing. In accordance with the requests of the States, and with the approval of the Australian Loan Council, this amount of £51,350,000 would be allocated as follows -
Honorable senators will appreciate that it is the States themselves, not the Commonwealth, which decide what volume and proportion of loan funds shall be devoted to housing. The amount for which parliamentary approval is now sought is some £1,500,000 more than the amount originally approved for housing in 1963-64.
Advances to the States will be made under the authority of the Housing Agreement Act 1961, which runs to 30th June 1966 and authorises the Treasurer to make advances to the States for housing purposes. These advances are repayable over 53 years and bear interest at 1 per cent. per annum below the long term bond rate. At least 30 per cent. of the amount advanced to each State must be allocated by the State to what is called the Home Builders Account. Advances are then made from this account to building societies and other approved institutions which, in turn, make loans to individual home builders.
During the past three years the Commonwealth advanced almost £150 million of loan moneys to the States for housing purposes. Of this amount, close to £100 million was allocated to State housing authorities who used this money to construct 31,900 dwellings. The remaining £50 million was advanced through the Home Builders Account. Funds in the Account were used to make loans to some 19,700 individuals who acquired their own homes. Of the advances made to each State housing authority, up to 5 per cent., or such greater sum as may be agreed, must be used, if the Commonwealth so requests, for the construction of dwellings for serving members of Ihe forces. Under this arrangement the Commonwealth makes available to the States for the housing of servicemen an amount at least equal to that allocated by the States for this purpose. This amount is provided from revenue. During the past three years the Commonwealth has so allocated a sum of £4,800,000.
Funds provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement have made a significant contribution to the financing of dwelling construction in Australia. In particular, they have been of very great assistance to many people seeking to acquire their own homes. It is expected that of the total of £51,350,000 to be advanced by the Commonwealth in the current financial year some £33,750,000 will be allocated by the States to their housing authorities for dwelling construction, and about £17.600,000 to Home Builders Accounts. The total amount to be allocated to the
Home Builders Account for the benefit of building societies and other approved institutions this year will be £345,000 greater than that allocated in 1963-64. This will, I am sure, be welcomed by the many Australians who wish to borrow at a reasonable rate of interest to acquire their own homes. These funds will, I hope, not only provide a useful measure of Commonwealth support to the building society movement, but will also encourage the societies to seek new private deposits.
In conclusion, may I mention that although the total funds allocated by the States for housing under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement will, in 1964-65, be larger than in any previous year, they represent a smaller proportion of the total loan allocation to the States approved by the Loan Council. As I mentioned earlier, the proportion of loan funds allocated to housing is determined by each State and not by the Commonwealth. However, the number of new dwelling commenced in Australia rose from 88,000 in 1962-63 to 107,000 in the financial year ended last June. This is a record. Loans approved by major financial institutions for new housing, including finance made available by these institutions to co-operative and terminating building societies, increased from £81,400,000 in 1961-62 to £113,300,000 in 1962-63, and to a record £134,500,000 in 1963-64. The trend in housing construction is one of decreasing reliance on governmental activity and increasing private construction. This is a very healthy trend and one that I hope will continue. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides for the raising of loan moneys amounting to £4.5 million for war service land settlement in the States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania during the 1964-65 financial year. Honorable senators are aware that the Commonwealth is responsible for providing the whole of the capital moneys required for the scheme in those three States. It is anticipated that the money will be made available to the States in the following amounts -
As I explained when introducing a similar Bill to the Senate last year the £4.5 million is the gross amount required for grants under the States Grants (War Service Land Settlement) Act 1952-53, all repayments arising from expenditure in previous years now being credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
While development is still proceeding on the King Island, Flinders Island and Montagu Swamp projects in Tasmania and to a lesser degree on holdings in the Hundreds of Borda and Gosse on Kangaroo Island and at Loxton in South Australia, this phase of the war service land settlement scheme is rapidly drawing to a close. Of the total moneys to be raised under this Bill nearly £3.6 million will be required for making advances to settlers who have been allotted farms over the years. Most of these settlers started with little, if any, capital and under the cost-price relationships which have existed over some more recent years, it is taking them longer than may have been envisaged to finance the ensuing year’s working expenses without recourse to borrowing. Although the Commonwealth has no desire to compete in the sphere of rural credit with established institutions, until the settlers’ financial affairs improve to a stage where some farm assets can be freed from a security charge to the Crown, the Commonwealth has no alternative to providing finance to meet the settlers’ reasonable requirements for credit. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1964.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 1278), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– The Minister’s second reading speech on these Bills took less than two minutes. To my mind that indicated the amount of thought that the Government had given to the proposal to increase sales tax on motor cars. That is in line with its actions on previous occasions when it has altered the sales tax. When it came into office in 1949 the sales tax was 171/2 per cent. By1960, the Government had increased this to 40 per cent. Then it was reduced to 221/2 per cent. and now the proposal is to increase the tax to 25 per cent. On not one of those occasions has the Government given any real knowledgeable thought to the upheavals that it has caused in the industry each time it has altered the sales tax. On each occasion the Government has given different reasons for the alteration. In his second reading speech which, as I have said, took less than two minutes to deliver, the Minister said -
The increase in the tax on motor cars is one of the steps taken to raise the additional revenue required in order that the Commonwealth may be in a position to meet its obligations as outlined in the Budget Speech.
On its own assessment the Government expects to obtain from the increased sales tax £5 million for the remainder of this financial year - this out of a total budget of £2,500 million. The small return that the Government will obtain indicates just how little thought it has given to the proposal to increase the sales tax by 21/2 per cent. I do not think the Government has yet made up its mind about the need for motor cars in the community. I challenge the Minister to state whether the Government has increased the sales tax on motor cars because it regards a motor car as a luxury. I should be surprised if he could answer that question. None of his predecessors has been able to decide whether in this modern day and age a motor car is a luxury or a necessity in our every day life.
Every alteration of the sales tax, whether it be up or down, causes irritation, upheaval and sometimes complete injustice and hardship to a whole host of people. Those of us who were here in 1960 will recallthe debates on the Government’s proposal to increase the sales tax to 40 per cent. Even some Government senators agreed with the Opposition that the proposal was ill judged and was bound to cause hardship. In fact, a sufficient number of them voted with the Opposition to defeat the measure the first time it was before this chamber. In the final analysis, the measure was passed only because a Government senator who had previously been most outspoken in opposition to it changed his mind for some reason which I have never been able to fathom. He had indicated quite clearly in the speeches that he had made on the proposal that there was no doubt in his mind that the measure was ill-advised. Nevertheless, he changed his mind and, as a result, the Government was able to increase sales tax on motor cars to the unprecedented level of 40 per cent. From memory that was in early December or late November 1960.
In the first session of the Parliament in 1961, the Government reduced sales tax on motor cars to the former level. Some might have thought that by doing that the Government corrected the wrong it had done in the previous year. In the few minutes that 1 propose to talk on this matter, I want to explain, if I can, that it did not correct the injustice. Senator Gorton, who took part in the debate, said that he was one of those people who were caught, because he had ordered but not taken delivery of a motor car before the increase to 40 per cent, took effect. Like everybody else in a similar position, he had to pay the extra sales tax on a car ordered before the increase. The reduction in sales tax in February or March of the following year did not return to Senator Gorton and others in a like position the extra amount that they had paid in sales tax. As soon as the sales tax was reduced, the market values of new cars were reduced by the amounts by which sales tax was reduced. Everybody affected suffered from the fluctuations, both up and down. They suffered when the sales tax was increased, because they had to pay more for new cars, and they suffered when the sales tax was reduced, because the market values of their vehicles were reduced.
This tiddlywinking increase of 2i per cent, which will bring to the Government £5 million out of a total revenue of £2,500 million, is only another irritation. It docs not mean anything to the Government. It is barely worth the trouble of debating the measure, but it will go down as another blot on the Government’s record of complete and absolute inability to cope with the vehicle building industry in Australia. Only last week or the week before, questions were asked in the Senate with the obvious intention of obtaining from the Minister replies that indicated that the Government supported and actually fostered the motor car industry in Australia. I think one question related to the Australian content of Volkswagens.
– Of all cars.
– The question was associated with an increased Australian content of the Volkswagen, but in point of fact this vehicle obtained its share of the Australian market long before it had any Australian content whatsoever. The Volkswagen car had an established market in Australia when the cars were imported as knocked down parts. The organisation did not even have a factory in Australia that could be called a factory. So the Government cannot take any credit at all for any benefit to Australia arising from the establishment of a Volkswagen factory here.
I recall asking a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) when he was Minister for Customs and Excise concerning the number of Japanese cars coming into Australia. That was 18 months or 2 years ago. The Minister said then that the Japanese motor cars entering Australia formed a very small proportion of imports of automobiles. I should like the Minister to consider the answer he gave then in relation to the situation today. The fact is that, possibly at some time in the future, Japanese motor cars might be built in Australia by the companies that are now importing them. In the meantime, they will have established themselves in the Australian market. I should like to have the figures on imports of Japanese cars now compared with those of two years ago. The number imported was infinitesimal when I asked a question then. Very few potential buyers would have considered buying a Japanese motor car two years ago because the number in Australia was so small that it was uncertain whether proper servicing could be done on them but sales have increased to such an extent that Japanese cars now represent a serious threat to the Australian industry.
When you fool around with sales tax on motor cars, whether you lift it or lower it, you interfere with the Australian manufacture of motor cars. You do not interfere with the manufacturers in the United States of America or Japan or the United Kingdom because the cars they export to Australia represent only a small proportion of their total output. The effect on their volume production, as it is called, and thus on costs of production, does not mean anything to them. But anything which causes a fall in production in Australia of 5 per cent, or more means that the cost on volume production goes up. Any increase of sales tax in Australia places a burden on Australian manufacturers of motor cars which does not affect those who import cars.
This proposal to raise the sales tax on motor cars by 2i per cent, will give the Government £5 million additional revenue in a Budget of £2,500 million and we cannot anticipate by any stretch of imagination that this will dampen down sales of motor oars in Australia. It is not an economic measure as the Government claimed when sales tax on motor cars was increased to 40 per cent. Therefore this measure has no merit whatever except that it will raise an additional £5 million in a Budget of £2,500 million. The Australian Labour Party does not oppose the bills, but it takes note of this particular proposal as another indication of the way in which this Government is treating the Australian motor industry.
– I was interested in the comments of Senator Ridley which could be miscontrued. I do not think he meant to convey that the increase of 2i per cent, in sales tax on motor cars to 25 per cent, does not apply to imported vehicles although that might have been inferred from his speech. The fact is that the higher tax applies to all motor cars whether they are imported or made in Australia.
– I said that the effect would be different.
– I know what the honorable senator said, but I want to make it clear for the record that the new rate of sales tax applies to both Australian and imported cars. The honorable senator said that the increase in sales tax would yield £5 million in a Budget of £2,500 million.
I remind him that the revenue of £2,500 million for which the Government has budgeted is made up of a number of items, and this is one item of revenue. The Treasury has never claimed that this impost would in any way dampen down the sales of cars. The Department of the Treasury claims that this increase of 2i per cent, in the sales tax on motor vehicles is a revenue measure to increase the income of the Government by £5 million for the work of the Government as shown in the Budget. That has been made quite clear. 1 want to comment briefly on the statement by Senator Ridley concerning the manufacturing organisation which announced recently that it would spend £20 million in setting up a factory in Australia. The honorable senator said this was no credit to the Government. I am sorry that I cannot agree. The Government has announced a policy of building up gradually the Australian content of motor vehicles manufactured in Australia. This organisation had a market in Australia which it wanted to keep. To do so, it had to have up to 95 per cent. Australian content in its motor vehicles, so it decided to spend £20 million to manufacture its vehicles in Australia. This was done purely because of the policy of this Government to bring about within the next five years an increase in the Australian content of motor vehicles assembled in Australia.
– The Government is a quarter of a century behind the times. The Chifley Labour Government had the same plan.
– Whether wc arc a quarter of a century behind the times or not the fact is that this is the reason why the company is going to set up a plant in Australia. It had to do so. This was because of the Government’s policy of requiring, over the next five years, that motor vehicles, assembled in Australia should have 95 per cent. Australian content. The honorable senator said that when there were variations in the sales tax on motor vehicles, the price was affected. He said some people bought at the wrong time and they lost. Some people buy at the right time and they win. Before the Budget was introduced, sales of motor cars were at a record level. Those who bought then saved £25. They find now that their motor car is worth £25 more than it was, so there are many satisfied buyers. Maybe if sales tax is reduced in the next two or three years somebody who has bought at the wrong time will find that the price has gone down. These are normal things which happen every day in the life of a government. Duties and other imposts affect prices. Sometimes when a person buys goods he benefits or suffers, according to the luck of the draw. Those who bought motor vehicles just before the Budget was introduced when a record number of cars was being sold find that £25 has been added to the value of their vehicle.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27th October (vide page 1325).
Broadcasting and Television Services
Proposed expenditure, £22,338,000.
.- I address myself to Divisions Nos. 835 and 838 which deal with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission respectively. I direct attention to the lamentable failure on the part of the Government to do anything whatever about the report of the Senate’s own Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, lt is a very serious indictment of the Government that it is twelve months tomorrow since the Select Committee presented its report to the Senate in the dying hours of the last Parliament. The Senate Select Committee was an allparty committee set up on the motion of a Government senator. It had a majority of members from the Government side - four out of seven. The Committee sat and deliberated for almost a year, and then brought down a report which, apart from some reservations on the part of Senator Wright, who was a member of the Committee, were unanimous.
The Committee drew attention to the sad state of programming in the television industry. It had some important things to say about the standard of television programmes of both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and of commercial television stations. The Committee set out for the attention of the Senate and of the Government a very large number of recommendations relating to the quality of Australian programmes on television and to proper methods of increasing the Australian content of television programmes.
I do not want to canvass the whole of the work of the Committee in this debate on the Estimates, but I do suggest that the report has been treated with scant courtesy by the Government. The report has been debated in this chamber on a number of occasions. So far, eleven members of the Senate have spoken, including six of the seven members of the Select Committee. Unfortunately the chairman of the Committee, because of ill health, has been unable to take part in the discussion. Not one Minister has risen to indicate the attitude of the Government. I was told by the former leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Sir William Spooner, in answer to a question, that no Minister would speak until the Government had taken decisions about the report.
We have waited a year, and in my opinion it is just not good enough to treat the Senate with contempt, as the Government is doing in relation to this report. We have had other examples of pigeonholed reports. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review made its report in 1959, but so far the Government has not said whether it agrees or disagrees with any part of the proposals contained in that report. Other committees have dealt with aspects of law reform involving the Bankruptcy Act, copyright, designs, restrictive trade practices, and so on. These are all matters about which we have waited a long time for indications of the attitude of the Government. They were not all the subject of special reports but are all matters that have been in the melting pot of policy formation for a long time.
The Senate set up its own Committee to investigate television programmes. It cannot be suggested that the Senate was coerced into setting up the Committee. The Committee was balanced and achieved a great deal of harmony in its deliberations. But we have yet to hear a solitary word from the Government as to what it intends to do. The position is such that bodies of citizens outside the Parliament believe that some kind of stimulus should be given to a discussion of the Committee’s report which made a very wide impact on many sections of the community.
Recently I was informed by circular of the formation of a convening committee of a congress to support the implementation of the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee for the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. The convening committee has a very wide membership. It has been formed by bodies of persons directly interested in the whole question of encouraging Australian programmes for television and it includes representatives of the Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia; the Australian Cinematographers Society; the Australian Council for Child Advancement; the Australian Film Producers Association; the Australian Radio, Television and Screen Writers Guild; the Australian Songwriters and Composers Association; the Australian Women’s Charter; the Fellowship of Australian Writers, the Film Editors Guild of Australia; the Producers, Authors, Composers, Talent Co-operative Ltd.; the Producers and Directors Guild of Australia; the Professional Musicians Union of Australia; the Poetry Society of Australia; the Sydney Realist Writers; the Australian Society of Authors; the Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association, and the New South Wales Teachers Federation.
These bodies call for action by the Government to implement the recommendations of the Senate Committee. They say that the recommendations do suggest solutions to many of the unsatisfactory aspects of television programming and that therefore the findings of the Committee are of the greatest possible concern to all Australians.
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which came in for its fair share of criticism in the report of the Senate Select Committee - the Committee directed attention to a number of shortcomings on the part of the Board in the fulfilment of its statutory obligations - noted in its sixteenth annual report recently presented to the Parliament, the important fact of the Senate Select Committee’s report. In paragraph 171, the Board said -
A notable occurrence during the year was the appointment by the Senate of a Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the encouragement of the production in Australia of films and programmes suitable for television. This Committee made a large number of recommendations, which are understood to be under consideration by the Government, and the debate in the Senate on the Committee’s report had not been concluded at the time of writing this report.
Understandably enough the Australian Broadcasting Control Board apparently thought that it should not engage in any discussion on the Committee’s recommendation while the matter was still being debated by the Senate. The Board does not say so explicitly, but one would suppose that is the reason why the Board has chosen not to enter into any elaborate discussion on the report of the Select Committee.
I ask the Minister to tell the Senate what is wrong, and to tell us why we have not yet been accorded the courtesy of an indication of the Government’s attitude. In the recent Budget the Government increased the charge for a viewer’s television licence. It also increased the fees payable by licensees of commercial television stations. I had the privilege of being a member of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. The Committee recommended many practical ways in which Australian talent could bc encouraged. It set out a number of precise avenues of action which would involve, of course, the expenditure of public money. The Government has chosen to raise revenue from the telvision industry and from television viewers through measures included in its last Budget. Yet there is not a single indication in the Estimates relating to broadcasting and television services that one penny of the amount raised in this manner will be spent to implement any of the recommendations of the Select Committee. All the money collected will go into Consolidated Revenue. Surely if the Government is sincere in wanting to do something to raise the standard of Australian productions for television, some of the extra revenue obtained from licensees of commercial television stations and from television viewers should have been earmarked for implementation of specific parts of the Select Committee’s recommendations.
All over the world there is a realisation that television is the great instrument for enlightenment of our time. It is a dangerous instrument if what is shown on the magic box does not amply and properly reflect the civilisation of which it forms a part. The
Select Committee drew attention to the preponderance of programmes depicting crimes and violence. Many of them are imported from the United States of America. The United States Senate recently reported, as was announced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission the other day, on the whole question of television programmes, through one of its special committees. The committee specifically emphasised the relationship between programmes containing scenes of horror, crime and violence, and juvenile delinquency.
A great deal of research is being done into this subject, some of it by officers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Select Committee had before it a great deal of evidence in relation to that question. It is an important question and cannot foe ignored by this Parliament. It is not being ignored toy responsible people outside the Parliament. My plea to the Minister is to give us an indication that there is a positive response by the Government not only as a matter of courtesy to the Senate, which set up the Committee, but also out of courtesy to all those who assisted the Select Committee in getting together a comprehensive report. We ought to be able to get from the Minister a definite indication in this respect. It is not fair and it is not right that so much effort and so much interest displayed by the more serious minded sections of the population should be allowed to drift away in the sands of time. One year has elapsed. Will another year and another year after that pass before we hear from the Government? Are we to have the same position with the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television as we have had over the years with the Joint Committee on Consitutional Review? I hope that the Minister will heed my remarks. I would like to think that what I am saying is not merely the expression of a party viewpoint but would be endorsed by all Senators and certainly by all members of the Select Committee on both sides of the chamber.
– I wish to address my remarks to Division No. 835 - Australian Broadcasting Control Board - and Division No. 838 - Australian Broadcasting Commission. I wish also to refer to the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Pro ductions for Television, as did Senator Cohen. Whilst I believe that there is some value in a select committee of this type, since most of its members were lay people its main value lay in the broadening of their knowledge of the problems of people in the television industry. I think that there is a great deal more value in a committee such as the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, to which Senator Cohen also referred. Its members were lawyers and experts in their field. The members of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television were not experts in the field of television. However, I should say that the Select Committee’s report to the Parliament is of benefit because, as members of Parliament, we learn more about television from the report.
I believe (hat there is great danger in lay people trying to criticise, examine and generally pull down the morale of those who are doing their utmost to give the best service they possibly can through the television stations. I refer particularly to the commercial television stations. They are faced with a great many difficulties. Although they sincerely want to present programmes with the best Australian content possible, obviously it is uneconomic and impractical for them to give more in that respect than they are giving at present. I think that the commercial television stations intend to increase the Australian content of their programmes when it is possible to do so. The Government may be acting upon some of the recommendations of the Select Committee. I believe some of the recommendations tend to cause a reaction in the opposite direction from that intended. I am referring particularly to the Australian content of programmes.
– Then the Select Committee was wasting its time?
– I think in many ways it probably was wasting its time. I think that there is danger in the recommendations that licence fees should be increased or that additional taxation should be imposed on successful television stations. A station which may have been building up its advertising would become liable for additional taxation in proportion to its increased advertising revenue. As a result it may have to cut down in some other way. Commercial television stations are in business to make profits and not to act as a charitable service to the community. They must make some form of profit. They are certainly not making excess profits, as a study of the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board shows. In the last financial year, according to the report, 22 commercial television stations were operating. The total net profit made by those television stations was less than £3 million. It is ridiculous to expect the commercial television stations to pay a higher percentage of taxation to the Commonwealth out of their profits, just because they are being successful. I admit that 1 1 of the television stations did not make a profit; but that does not mean that the Commonwealth Government has any right to penalise the stations which are successful and are increasing their advertising revenue by making them pay higher rates of taxation.
The result of that policy is already apparent. The activity of the commercial television stations which must suffer is the expensive part of its production; that is the Australian content, in many cases. I know of at least one television station in South Australia with a very good orchestra and ballet company which were in the process of being trained. With growing experience the better they became. But now they have all been dismissed because the station did not feel that it should be asked to pay increased taxation on its advertising revenue, increased licence fees and lose at least one-third of its business because another commercial television station is to come into operation. Each of these factors penalised the station in one way or another. That seems most unreasonable to me.
Examining the Estimates I ask myself: For what are they being penalised? Perhaps it may be said that the commercial television stations should pay the expenses of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I ask the Minister whether he believes that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is entirely concerned with the activities of commercial television stations. In other words, is it the responsibility of the commercial television stations to keep the Board in operation? I do not see why some portion of the viewers’ licence fees should not go towards the costs of the Board. Why should not. the viewers be expected to pay some part of the Board’s costs, just as the commercial television sta tions are expected to contribute towards them? I would like to know whether the Board is concerned with national and commercial television. The Estimates show that the costs of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are not excessive. For this year the amount to be appropriated for expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act for the Control Board is £381,000. When we see that licence fees from the commercial stations amount to £112,000, or nearly £113,000, admittedly it is not half of these costs. Nevertheless, I think it should be expected that a certain amount of the total expenditure should be covered by licence fees. A little further down we come to Division No. 843. Item 01 concerns the maintenance and operation of transmitting stations, and I presume that has nothing to do with the commercial broadcasting side. That must refer to national stations although, if I am wrong about that, I would be glad to be corrected. Item 02 concerns the provision of landline services for national stations. That has nothing to do with commercial stations. Item 03 concerns the issuing and recording of viewers’ licences. The proposed expenditure is £230,000. But I would like to know how much revenue the Government receives from viewers’ licences to balance against the cost of issuing them. Item 04 relates to inspections, observations and research. Perhaps a part of that item concerns commercial television stations, but it does not entirely concern them. The proposed vote for that item is £100,000.
In respect of Division No. 844 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings, I would like to know how much of the sum of £52,000 could be directly attributed to the commercial broadcasting stations. In Division No. 845 - Rent, I presume that sum is attributable to the national stations. I would think that this might also be said of Division No. 846. I refer now to Division No. 848 - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture. In respect of item 03, Australian Broadcasting Control Board, there is a sum of £1,000. I would think that of the amounts relating to the five items under Division No 848 which totals just over £1 million, only £1.000 could be attributed in any way to commercial broadcasting. In Division No. 849 - Repairs and Maintenance, item 03. Australian Broadcasting Control Board, there is a sum of £1,500.
I say that there is very little of the proposed expenditure for Broadcasting and Television Services which amounts to £22 million odd which can be attributed to commercial broadcasting stations. Therefore I think it is most unreasonable to press, through a select committee, that there should be added penalties on the stations which I believe are giving us the best services. I think I am not alone in that view because the ratings show that the majority of people like to watch the commercial stations in preference to the national stations.
– Do you believe in ratings?
– Of course I believe in ratings. There is no other way of judging what people like. If the people prefer these stations then we have no right to penalise them.
.- Mr. Chairman, I refer to Broadcasting and Television Services, Division No. 843 - Technical and Other Services, Television. Under sub-division 2, an amount of £2,004,000 is provided for expenditure on transmitting equipment. The matter I want particularly to refer to is the establishment of a television boosting station to serve the residents of the west coast of Tasmania. It is rather unfortunate that this particular area of Tasmania is the only one in which television reception is unavailable, it is particularly desirable that the people do have television reception in that area because of its isolation. The people there receive the special taxation concessions that are granted to people who are at a disadvantage geographically. During the weekend when I was in Queenstown and Zeehan, and the other west coast areas to which I refer, the people told me that in the whole of the last year they had only had 34 fine days. That gives an indication of the type of weather experienced there. The rainfall is over 100 ins. per year and, in parts of the area, such as Lake Margaret, it is up to 125 or 130 ins. So these people do warrant special consideration.
I would like to ask the Minister for Custons and Excise (Senator Anderson) how far the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has gone with the investigation into this problem. A request has been made to me by Mr. John McCrostie, a very public spirited citizen of Queenstown, to have this matter brought before Parliament to see whether a booster station or a translator service would provide a practical and economic means of satisfying the needs of the west coast area. I understand that commercial television stations have exhibited some interest in providing a service there but it is not known whether they have gone ahead with their investigation or whether they have made any decision about providing a service. But there has been an indication that the Postmaster-General’s Department would have an investigation made. I ask the Minister whether a report has been made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and whether he has yet received it. In view of the special circumstances existing on the west coast I would ask the Minister to do all he can to expedite the establishment either of a booster station or translators in that area.
One matter that should be stressed is that this area of the west coast of Tasmania is predominantly a mining area. There are scattered populations and it is isolated in as much as it is 160 miles from Hobart and about the same distance from Launceston. The roadways are in the process of being sealed but have not yet been sealed. There is no railway connection with Queenstown. Together with the other factors of climate and geography, this shows that the people in this area do merit special consideration. Another reason for providing a service in that area is based on educational grounds. Young people of the west coast, many of whose parents are employed in the mining industry, although attending schools, have a very limited ability to enjoy the usual cultural entertainments. As all honorable senators know, the media of television is creating a new horizon for people who enjoy excellent musical and cultural entertainment of an order that should be made available to all people who are able to get it.
I make that special appeal to the Minister even though he may have other commitments in other parts of Australia. All the factors seem to work against Queenstown. There is a very high mountain range separating it from centres where television stations are operating, both in the north and south of Tasmania. Altogether, there are four stations on the island and it seems rather unfortunate that even though Tasmanian people are so well served this mountain range shadows this particular area. The people in Tasmania are most worthy and would appreciate the services I have requested being made available to them. I hope that the Minister has some information on the subject and that he will make representations to the PostmasterGeneral with a view to expediting any proposed establishment of a booster station or translators on the west coast of Tasmania.
– For the purpose of convenience, perhaps it would be appropriate for me to refer first to the matter that was raised by Senator O’Byrne. I am informed that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at present making a technical survey of the possibility of providing a television service for the west coast of Tasmania by using translator stations to relay the programmes of existing stations. Those surveys are quite extensive. Local interests which have a viewpoint to express are being consulted. I understand that the surveys will extend over a period of some weeks and that the Hobart and Launceston commercial stations are interested in providing a service. Advantage is being taken of the opportunity to gather both technical and non-technical information related to the proposal.
Senator Cohen, who initiated the discussion on this section of the Estimates, reminded us that a Senate select committee had been appointed to investigate the possibility of encouraging Australian productions for television. He drew attention to the magnitude of the task which the Committee undertook and said that members of the Committee, who were drawn from both sides of the Senate, submitted 79 recommendations. I remind honorable senators that the report of the Committee is still listed on the business paper for debate. Therefore, as far as the Senate is concerned, the matter has not been finally determined.
– We are still waiting for a Minister to speak. The debate has been adjourned to enable that to be done.
– I can only say to the honorable senator and to honorable senators generally that quite recently the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) made a statement in which he drew attention to the fact that tremendous issues were raised in the report and that he is still considering the evidence submitted to, and the recommendations of, the Committee. He said that the matters involved were extensive. I think we all can agree with that statement.
A number of matters were raised by Senator Buttfield. She raised in a general way the subject of higher licence fees, lt must be remembered that capital city stations must have sufficient revenue to enable them to provide good programmes. Television licensees, especially those in the capital cities, enjoy a very valuable franchise. I think we all would agree that because of the advantage they enjoy over licensees in other cities they should pay a substantial fee. The Estimates for the year ended 30th June 1965 set out the following estimates of receipts in respect of broadcasting and television services: Broadcasting listeners’ licence fees £5,550,000; broadcasting stations’ licence fees, £136,000; telvision viewers’ licence fees, £11,025,000; television stations’ licence fees, £422,000; wireless telegraphy fees, £68,000; and miscellaneous, £156,000. As the honorable senator would know, those sums will go to the Treasury.
I make the general point, as I did in relation to other estimates we have discussed, that if any query is raised to which an answer is not readily available 1 undertake to see that a suitable reply is obtained and relayed to the honorable senator concerned.
– I refer to the subsidy to commercial stations for landline services for news relays, for which provision is made in Division No. 842. I should like the Minister to give me some details of this item of expenditure. Will he indicate whether the landlines in question are rented private lines or are the property of the stations themselves? What conditions are attached to this kind of line? Furthermore, I should like to know how the subsidy is paid to the stations. Is it based on a rate of so much a radial mile in the same way as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department levies its charges on radio stations?
– I desire to speak on the estimates for the Broadcasting and Television Services. I relate my remarks in the first instance to Division No. 835. I was pleased to learn from the Minister, when he was replying to Senator Cohen, that the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television was being considered by the Government. I hope that consideration of the report, which was presented almost 12 months ago to the day, will not be as long as the consideration of the proposed restrictive trade practices legislation, the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, amendments of the Copyright Act and the report of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee.
The expenditure of £381,000 by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is a reduction of £1,000 on the expenditure last year, is something that has to be perused carefully. Frankly, after reading the Board’s report, I doubt very much whether it is effectively carrying out its statutory obligations under the Broadcasting and Television Act in the best interests of the general public.
After reading the long report of the Board, I think it is fair to say that, on its own admissions, commercial broadcasting stations and commercial television stations are getting away, in some instances, with what might be called highway robbery. If this is not being done with the acquiescence of the Board, certainly it is being done with its quiescence. Throughout the report, on practically every other page we see, in reference to certain matters, the words, “ the Board is concerned “, or “ the Board has been concerned “, or “ the Board continues to be concerned “. Whilst this expression of concern seems to be paramount throughout the whole of the report, be it in reference to past, present or future matters, nothing seems to have been done of a constructive or a tangible nature in regard to the statutory obligations of the Board under certain sections of the Broadcasting and Television Act.
I refer particularly to sub-sections (1.) (a) and (1.) (c) of section 16. Sub-section (1.) (c) states that the functions of the Board, amongst other things, are -
To ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided by commercial broadcasting stations and commercial television stations to serve the best interests of the general public.
What is the situation in regard to broadcasting? Having in mind that section of the Act, I refer to section 114, which states -
The Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes.
Let me refer to the problems of broadcasting. In June of this year, some four months ago, commercial broadcasting stations overnight ceased to present to the Australian public radio serials which had been entertaining Australians for many years. Doubtless, this action was taken from an economic point of view, so far as the broadcasting stations were concerned. But the fact is that all daytime radio serials were taken from the public by the commercial broadcasting stations, with the exception of radio station 2CH in Sydney which, I understand, because of this action by the other commercial broadcasting stations, began to replay serials which had been broadcast previously.
In place of the radio serials that were taken off the air there was substituted a continuous fare of hit tunes to cater for teenagers. Of course, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the majority of the teenagers, for whom the stations were trying to cater, were either at school or at work. Therefore, the housewives, the sick and the elderly who looked forward to listening to their favorite radio dramas each morning or each evening found that tha latest pop tunes were substituted in their place. I suggest that because the Australian Broadcasting Control Board failed to take action in this regard, it failed to carry out its statutory obligations under section 16(1) (c) of the Broadcasting and Television Act. Unless steps are taken to overcome this state of affairs, a death blow will be dealt to an important Australian industry which, at the present time, is struggling to exist.
Actors who at times derived their bread and butter from this particular type of employment found that overnight they had lost that source of income. Up to that time most actors and artists engaged in this work had been able to continue at their profession. They were available to do television and stage work because radio gave them a basic income. Australian writers were in a similar position. The axe which was suspended over the heads of artists, writers and listeners by the commercial broadcasting stations - apparently with the acquiescence of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board because I can find nothing in its report on this matter - fell at a time when the commercial television stations also decided to reduce their transmission time. If radio drama is to be killed in this way and no action is to be taken by the Board to remedy the situation, the television industry should be able to make provision to absorb the writers and actors who have lost their livelihood.
What is the situation in regard to children’s radio programmes? If we turn to paragraph 63 of the Board’s report we find that-
Of 39 stations which indicated that television was affecting them, 33 have retained the greater part of their pre-television form of children’s programme.
But the report of the Board continued -
A greater amount of informative and educational matter is broadcast by country stations than by city stations.
In paragraph 60 of the report the Board condemned itself when it said -
For several years the Board has been concerned about the trend of programmes broadcast for children.
This is an important matter because broadcasting still reaches a great number of Australian people, but it has been allowed to go on for years. 1 come now to the situation in regard to commercial television. I do not want to enter into a debate or controversy with Senator Buttfield who spoke on this matter during the debate. As I said earlier, the fact remains that commercial television stations reduced their transmission times earlier this year. Despite what has been said by Senator Buttfield about this action being due to the high cost of Australian programmes and of employing Australian artists, Mr. Oswin, the General Manager of ATN Channel 7, on 1st June of this year said that the Australian television industry’s demand for feature films and series had doubled film programme costs during the past six months, and these expenses were involving the industry in hundreds of thousands of pounds in overheads which it had not previously faced. He continued -
This has meant a reassessment of the industry’s cost structure to maintain the best quality service to the public as a first objective while maintaining a sound business operation.
From the point of view of business acumen, I suppose it is fair to say that that is a sound, reasonable and practical statement on the part of Mr. Oswin. He also said -
Stations have been maintaining service programmes at great expense to themselves, and now higher costs of overseas material have taken away the income margin which permitted it.
Film television programmes were made for three basic networks in the United States, all with huge viewing audiences.
Australia, with a comparatively small audience, now has four television networks competing to buy this material.
This had lifted prices so that Australian TV stations were now paying more for film programmes on a population basis than any other country in the world.
Mr. Oswin’s remarks are more than supported by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In paragraph 167 of its report for the year ended 30th June 1964 the report has this to say -
The present reductions in hours have been variously attributed to the increased cost of imported programmes and to the requirement of the Minister that an increased proportion of Australian programmes should be presented. The cost of imported programmes is known to have risen very steeply as a result of competitive bids by Australian film buyers. A contributing factor was the licensing of additional commercial stations in mainland capital cities, and the consequent development of four independent buying groups in Australia which, for many of their purchases, are compelled to buy programmes which are produced to supply the needs of only three main American users.
Notwithstanding the eyewash that we hear about the high cost of Australian productions, the fact remains that the price of programmes being asked by the American monopoly is so great that the few Australian programmes produced by commercial television stations are suffering because the commercial stations have to pay a higher price for imported material.
It came to my notice only this week that within the next month or two a very popular programme on commercial television in Sydney, “ Studio A “, will probably end because the amount of money previously allocated to the production of the show is now being expended on the purchase of overseas programmes. This is a shocking state of affairs when we appreciate that section 114 of the Act places an obligation on the Australian Broadcasting Commission - I commend the Commission for what it has done - and on the commercial broadcasting and television stations to use Australians, as far as possible, in the production and presentation of their programmes. The amount being spent on imported programmes rose from £275,000 in 1956 to nearly £5 million in 1962-63. Because of the Board’s lethargy in facing up to its responsibilities in this regard, Australians and an important Australian industry are suffering. If one compares the Board’s report with that of the Australian Broadcasting Commission it will be seen-
– Order! The honorable senator is not debating the reports, he is debating the estimates before the Committee.
– I am debating the estimates and I am saying that we must consider carefully whether the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is spending its allocation of £381,000 in a proper way. In so doing, I suggest that I am entitled to raise these matters which come within the purview and ambit of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Be that as it may; because my time has practically expired let me say that one of the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee was that there should be an infusion of new blood into the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The fact that the present situation has continued in Australia for some time and the fact that no licences-
Order! The honorable senators time has expired.
– I refer to Division No. 838 - Australian Broadcasting Commission - and that section which relates to expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act. In so doing I invite the Minister’s attention to the paragraph headed “ Radio Australia “ on page 21 of the thirty-second annual report of the A.B.C. - the report for the year 1963-64. At this point I pay a personal tribute to the work done by Radio Australia. I consider it to be one of Australia’s great windows on the world. It is the overseas service of the A.B.C. Over the last 18 months I have had the good fortune to make a couple of trips away from Australia. I have taken with me a small transistor short wave radio which cost me not more than £15. In places such as Manila, Singapore and Noumea I have been able to pick up the special services of Radio Australia. In my experience, the service given by Radio Australia to those areas has excelled by far the Voice of America service, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s service and every other short wave service. The A.B.C.’s overseas service is far in front of the others.
I have also had the opportunity to visit the Commission’s headquarters in Melbourne. Radio Australia carries on its activities in a disused hat factory. I have seen there the talented foreign language staff, including speakers of Indonesian, French and Malay. I have observed also the pile of mail, most of it air mail, that is received each day. I was interested to read that during the year the A.B.C. received 213,846 letters from listeners to its overseas service. That alone is a great tribute. It also brings Australia into focus in those countries immediately surrounding us.
Being interested in this organisation, one obviously is concerned that its acitvities should be at least held at their present level and, if possible, increased. I suggest that the A.B.C. should directly interest itself in a great organisation in which Australia has a major interest. I refer to the South Pacific Commission. [Quorum formed.] When Senator Benn directed your attention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to a matter unconnected with the debate I was referring to the activities of the South Pacific Commission and was leading to the point that I believe that the A.B.C.’s overseas service should take a really good look at the South Pacific Commission. I notice on page 22 of the Commissioner’s report that Radio Australia gave a comprehensive coverage to a number of important conferences which included-
– I point out to the honorable senator that we are not discussing the report. We have before us the Estimates and I ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to that section of the Estimates that we are currently considering.
– I shall be very brief. I notice that there is to be an increase in the expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act from £11,650,000 to £13,220,000. I am referring to Division No. S3S. I am conscious of the fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is obviously expanding, and I present to the Senate the view that in the light of what the Commission has been doing in the past year there is a field in which it might properly expand. I consider that this is a relevant reference to make.
– I merely direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that we are discussing the proposed vote for Broadcasting and Television Services. The debate should be concentrated on the estimates for those Services and the net should not be cast so wide, particularly in relation to reports. I have mentioned this matter before. I direct the attention of the Committee generally to the nature of the debate.
– Thank you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. In turn, I invite the attention of the Minister who is in charge of these estimates to the point that I have just made. Also in relation to Division No. 838, I invite the Minister’s attention to the state of the Commission’s headquarters in Adelaide. I ask the Minister whether any provision is made in the estimates for improvements to that building. In Western Australia, for example, the Commission operates in a properly designed building, but in Adelaide it operates in what is possibly the most bedraggled public building - Commonwealth, State or municipal - in the city. It is quite out of keeping with the intelligent and efficient officers who are working for the Commission. The Minister has before him details which we have not. I ask him to confer with his colleague to ensure that at an early date provision is made for putting the Commission headquarters in South Australia in an appropriate and proper building. Surely the Commission’s image, which is a great one in Australia at present, should not be tarnished by the housing of the Adelaide headquarters in an unsatisfactory and inappropriate building.
– My remarks will be related to Division No. 835.
– To item 01?
– Yes. It will be difficult for me to relate my remarks to the proposed expenditure, but I shall do so as 1 go along. I am not challenging your ruling. Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I find it difficult to inquire about the entry in a column of an amount of money, when I have an idea how to increase that amount. For instance the total proposed expenditure for Broadcasting and Television Services is £22,338,000. The case that I shall put up in the next few minutes will be made in an attempt to show that in the interests of the taxpayers and the Government the amount could be considerably increased if the Commission - which is, in effect, the Government in relation to these matters-
– The honorable senator is really referring to the total proposed expenditure of £22,338,000.
– I am referring to Division No. 835. The Commission’s broadcasting and television services are financed from licence fees paid by the taxpayers. Possibly there would not be such a great drain on the taxpayers, and the Commission’s organisation would be assisted, if it ware able to tap a great source of income in this field, which is left to the commercial stations. The Commission’s radio and television services cater almost solely for the minorities in the community - musical, cultural or political. That is the role in which the Commission seems to be cast.
– What casts it in that role?
– I think it has cast itself. My association with many persons connected with the Commission gives me the impression that they believe that they exist to look after the minorities. The minorities might be the best part of the community - I am not debating that point - but there is no income from them. One does not build up stations by catering for minorities. I am not being critical. I want the Commission to be able to earn money from other sources. A few days ago I heard an announcement that half an hour would be devoted to chess players. They might be an important part of the community but I do not think their numbers are large enough to warrant a special session. However, they have to be looked after.
– How does that affect the Commission’s revenue?
– It builds up its character as a caterer for minorities that other stations will not cater for. In the field of football, the Commission looks after Rugby Union, which is the minority game, and not Rugby League. No doubt in Melbourne it looks after Australian Rules. I want honorable senators to remember that 1 am on the Commission’s side. In establishing stations, who goes out into the mulga? Who goes to the mountains where reception is bad and where few people live? Of course, the commercial stations do not go to those places. They go only where there is money. If there is not a pound in it, they do not go.
– Eleven commercial stations are not making profits.
– Commercial stations do not pioneer radio or television services. All of this pioneering work is left to the Commission and to the taxpayers.
– No, it is not.
– Most of it is. A few days ago we were discussing a station at Cooma. Would a commercial station be established there? No, because there is no guarantee of a profit. So the Commission is to establish a national station there, and, of course, the taxpayers will be finding the money. Senator Wright should be supporting me and not looking askance at me. I am a pupil of his in these matters. However, as I have said, the pioneering and installation of stations is left to the Government instrumentality. I think the commercial stations should do their share, despite what Senator Buttfield has said.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission has left the advertising field to the commercial stations through no fault of its own. The Commission states that it does not want to get into this field on principle but in fact it is already in the advertising field because it has a profitable publication, the “ T.V. Times “, which has almost a monopoly in its own right. That breaks the principle that the Commission has no advertising revenue. As a matter of fact, it could have more. Senator Wright will be interested to know that the total amount expended on newspaper advertising in Australia last year was £65 million. Money spent on television advertising by commercial interests totalled £21 million but none of it went to the A.B.C. Other expenditure on advertising in Aus tralia last year included nearly £13 million on radio advertising, £3 million on cinema advertising which is on the way out and £10 million on other forms of advertising. Altogether about £112 million was paid in Australia last year for advertising space in newspapers, or for time on television and radio. The Australian Broadcasting Commission did not get a penny of it. It was cut up between the commercial interests. I suggest that it is about time Parliament considered allowing the Government instrumentality to move into this field and build up its income. It should not continue to be the habitual practice for the Government, through its television and radio stations, to do all the expensive things and to supply all the cultural and minority needs in the community. I think these activities should be distributed around the commercial stations as well.
– Does the £112 million spent on advertising include Government advertising?
– -So I am told.
– Where did the honorable senator get those figures?
– From the advertising agencies. The figures are official. This is a big field to be left untapped by the Government television and radio stations. I think it is wrong to leave it untapped and the Government should do something about it. If it were left to the commercial stations, they would not do much about raising the musical tastes of the Australian public. The commercial stations become involved in and seek to exploit the things with popular appeal such as the Beatles and similar features which appeal to youth. It is left to the Australian Broadcasting Commission to organise youth concerts at a cost of £89,000.
I do not want to be critical of all that the Commission does and I am only critical in a constructive way, but here is a way in which a principle can be extended. The Australian Broadcasting Commission runs its youth concerts and for £5 19s. 6d. annual subscription, a subscriber can attend 10 concerts and see some of the world’s best artists. The admission fee is as low as 8s. which is about the lowest average cost of admission to such entertainment. Virtually anybody can go to these concerts. I do not say that other entrepreneurs do not bring artists to Australia. That is done by various agents and theatrical interests but the admission prices are high if the artists are good. The A.B.C. this year will bring about 16 famous artists from overseas to give concerts to Australian youth. There are about 12,000 permanent members on the subscription concert list of the A.B.C.
Another activity of the Commission which costs money covers various orchestras and lours made by them. Artists from overseas have made tours all over Australia. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra gave a series of concerts last year. This is important work that the commercial stations do not do. The orchestra gave concerts at Canberra, Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Broken Hill, Goulburn, Lismore, Newcastle, Tamworth, Wagga, Wollongong, and at Wangaratta in Victoria. The Victorian Symphony Orchestra gave a concert series at Ballarat, Geelong, Horsham, Hamilton, Sale and Shepparton, and will make a similar tour this year. The total cost of all concerts to the A.B.C. was £378,340. This, of course, has an application to the estimates under discussion. The Government is spending more than £378,000 to send these orchestras into the country. The revenue from these concerts last year was £294,742 so there was a net loss of about £83,000. That is what the Government is doing through its instrumentality and through its television and radio stations. In addition, the New South Wales Government and city councils have subsidised symphony orchestras to the total amount of £155,879.
This work is of great value to the people of Australia and every member of this Parliament would like to see it continued. But we should not blind ourselves to the fact that while the Government is sponsoring these activities through its instrumentality, the commercial stations do not do very much unless they can see a pound in it.
– Senator Ormonde has given the Committee his point of view on the functions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. If T interpret his comments correctly, he said, in effect, that the Commission should direct its activities more to the commercial side of its undertakings thereby, perhaps, making a profit which could be used for further expansion of its operations across Australia. I think the honorable senator said that the Commission should go into fields which the commercial radio and television stations have ventured into more easily and that it should not pay so much attention to minority entertainment requirements. In all these considerations we must realise, first, that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. What appeals to Senator Ormonde does not necessarily appeal to other people. As a simple example, he made some very strong criticism of the televising of Rugby Union instead of Rugby League matches. For my part, I am perfectly happy with the present arrangement. Other people might like to see telecasts of Australian Rules football.
It is very difficult to classify arrangements according to personal taste but the Broadcasting and Television Act lays down certain requirements which seem to me to meet the criticism voiced by Senator Ormonde. For instance, section 65 of the Broadcasting and Television Act provides that the Commission shall not broadcast or televise advertisements. That section immediately takes the Commission out of the field of commercial enterprise. The responsible officers of the Commission must administer its affairs and carry out its functions in accordance with an act of Parliament. Section 59(1) of the Act provides that the Commission shall broadcast or televise adequate and comprehensive programmes. That is a very wide discretion. It envisages of course that the Commission will provide entertainment covering the tastes of all the people. There must be provision for special concerts; there must be provision for light music; there must be provision for educational programmes, both at the child level and at the adult level. Many people in the community are striving all the time to acquire more knowledge. That situation has to be met. The Commission must cater for the young and the not so young. The whole matter can. be summed up by saying that the Australian Broadcasting Commission must provide a balanced programme.
I think that I would be expressing the views of most when I say that people turn to the commercial stations for their special requirements but are very happy and heartened to know that they can always turn back to the national stations which will be free from the commercial aspect of television and broadcasting. As I said at the outset what is a normal requirement for one person is not a requirement for another. The fundamental task of the Australian Broadcasting Commission - this is written into the Act - is that it must provide an adequate and comprehensive programme. That means a balanced programme to meet the needs of the people.
Senator Drake-Brockman referred to item 03 of Division No. 842 which refers to the subsidy paid to commercial radio stations in country areas to enable them to relay A.B.C. news bulletins. The relay lines are hired from the Postmaster-General’s Department. 1 think that is the information that the honorable senator sought. The basis on which the subsidy is assessed in respect of each station is rather too complicated to mention in an Estimates debate, but I shall see to it that information is supplied to the honorable senator.
Senator Laught made reference to Radio Australia. I listened with tremendous interest to what he had to say because I, too, have had the advantage of visiting the headquarters of Radio Australia in Melbourne and meeting many of the dedicated people who are helping to provide a service which, as the honorable senator indicated, extends into foreign lands. I have also had the experience whilst in South East Asia of having people indicate to me the great regard they have for Radio Australia and the service it provides. Radio Australia helps Australia to maintain good relations with its neighbours, and in that regard is performing a real function. I know that Senator Laught was adverting to that aspect. The value of Radio Australia in improving relations with our near neighbours is significant. I do not want to develop this aspect but efforts are now being made to extend the listening audience.
Senator Laught referred also to the A.B.C. building in Adelaide. I can tell him that it is proposed to centralise A.B.C. activities in Adelaide at Collinswood. This is one of the many building projects the A.B.C. hopes to complete within the next few years. It hopes to carry out certain renovations to the existing accommodation and extensions to the television building at Collinswood will be carried out this year. Funds to provide for this are included in the estimates referred to by the honorable senator. They cover only capital works. While dealing with Radio Australia I failed to mention that Radio Australia is due to move into new premises in Melbourne. 1 am sure that all honorable senators will be heartily pleased to know of that, because the conditions under which the station was operating in Melbourne were, to say the least, getting rather congested.
Senator McClelland dealt fairly extensively with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. He produced an argument along the lines that the Board was not exercising the control that it should be exercising under the terms of its statutory responsibility. He cited a number of matters to substantiate his argument. He spoke of the employment of Australians. I refer him to the Board’s sixteenth annual report, which I know he has because he has already quoted from it. In paragraph 82 the Board said, in part -
Figures supplied by the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters show that the fulltime employment of Australians by commercial broadcasting stations at present exceeds 3,000. This is an increase of 200 employees compared with the estimate made by the Federation in respect of the year 1961-62. The average time occupied by Australian programmes each week is shown in the following table which, however, does not take into account the numerous programmes of gramophone records presented by members of station staffs.
Then the table is set out. Senator McClelland referred also to the question of television stations reducing their programme time, and to the Australian component of programmes. This is a matter to which the Senate Select Committee made considerable reference. As from 1st January 1964 the Postmaster-General required television stations to increase the Australian content of their programmes by 5 per cent. From 1st January 1965 television stations will be required to have programmes of 50 per cent. Australian content, which is virtually an increase of 10 per cent, in a two year period.
– Will this mean a further reduction of transmission time?
– It will mean a reduction. Despite a reduction in hours by some commercial television stations, they still provide an essential service. If the honorable senator turns to page 72 of the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board he will notice that paragraph 233 sets out a table showing the weekly hours of transmission at the end of each quarter from September 1962 to 30th June 1964. lt includes, with few exceptions, a steady general increase in hours of service throughout the year.
I have covered the reference to the control exercised by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and I want now to make a general observation on its Sixteenth Annual Report. It contains a tremendous amount of detail and explanation of the problems encountered in providing broadcasting and television services in Australia, lt is easy for us to be critical according to our own likes and dislikes, but a study of the report should give a real appreciation of the problems associated with the type of control exercised by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In general terms we have in Australia very good services. That does not mean that we should sit down and not attempt to improve them. I think all honorable senators realise that we have very good services. We can be proud of the fact that Australia with its vast area and its population concentrated in the capital cities provides such a good coverage in the fields of broadcasting and television. When the new phases have been completed the Australian people will be provided with services equal to any in the world.
Senator Laught drew attention to Division No. 838 ; Australian Broadcasting Commission - which shows an increase in the appropriation of ?1,670,000 over that of the previous year. I have here a fairly comprehensive document which sets out the expenditure under various headings. I shall read it in brief form and should any honorable senator seek further information I shall attempt to accommodate him.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– In addressing myself to the subject of broadcasting and television services my first thought is to express regret at the absence of Senator Vincent through illness from this debate. His name is signal here for his contribution to this subject when he chaired the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australia Productions for Television last year. The report of that Committee still awaits the attention of the Minister, who has recently stated that he will try to put it through the process of complete consideration within the next few months, and then put his proposals before the Parliament. It is pleasing to note that the report has not been pigeonholed and is under active consideration in Government circles at present. It is also pleasing to note that it is under active consideration by interests outside the Parliament. I noticed a report the other day that an association was in the course of formation for the very purpose of bringing the Select Committee’s report to the attention of the Parliament and pressing for its further adoption.
May I make one comment upon some observations that fell from one of our Temporary Chairmen this afternoon? He seemed to me to be advancing to my colleague, Senator Laught, a view that the source of thought in this Committee debate should be controlled by the Chair. I want to put the opposite view - that debate in this Committee affords an opportunity for each senator to put his thoughts on policy, or on an item, in any way related to the subject matter on the agenda. In this case it is television and broadcasting services. I cannot too often repel any idea that the Chair controls the proposition that an individual senator might wish to advocate. I deplore the fact that the Committee did not receive greater advantage, as I would have expected, from what fell from Senator Ormonde.
– Order! To what item is the honorable senator addressing his remarks?
– I am proposing to deal with the matter that is listed upon the schedule - Broadcasting and Television Services ?22,338,000. It is my responsibility as well as the responsibility of every senator in the Committee. The policy to be adopted is a matter for consideration at this time. Senator Ormonde has been heard upon the subject, quite properly if disappointingly. It is amazing to me to hear advanced the idea that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should enter the advertising business. Here are echoes of the confused and retarded type of thought that bewitched the debate upon the airlines. It is incapable of conceiving as a separate function work and activity in broadcasting and television that arc appropriate to a national station as distinct from the very different activity that should bc assigned to commercial stations - not only different, but in some respects less exciting.
My first reason for saying that is that the A.B.C. is not confined to any particular function except insofar as the Act that constitutes it provides for its powers and functions. The particular section in the Act that 1 find appropriate to bring to the attention of the Committee on this aspect is section 59 (1.). It states-
Subject to this Act, the Commission shall provide and shall broadcast or televise from transmitting stations made available by the PostmasterGeneral, adequate and comprehensive programmes and shall take in the interests of the community all such measures as, in the opinion- of the Commission, arc conducive to the full development of suitable broadcasting and television programmes.
A Commission is constituted of personnel who, by reason of their experience and attainments, arc suitable to implement its purposes. We chose to establish a Broadcasting Commission which is the national instrumentality and, at the same time, in the radio field to allow licences to be issued to radio stations for the purpose of using that medium for advertising. We adopted the same situation in relation to television.
The Parliament not only prescribed the revenue by statute, but also adopted a different method of financing, on the one side commercial stations, and on the other side the national station. It will be seen from the White Paper that the total receipts that will be levied for the purpose of broadcasting and television services during the coming year are estimated at no less than £17,357,000. Such items are included as broadcasting listeners’ licence fees, £5,500,000; television viewers’ licence fees £1 1 million; and then a very significant item to which I want to make detailed reference - television stations’ licence fees £422,000. So that by levying charges on the people we gain £17 million odd for the servicing of the A.B.C. The total of the appropriation that we arc considering, Mr. Chairman, and which is the subject of my remarks, is £22,338,000 for Broadcasting and Television Services. The short fall, no doubt, will be made up from, the Consolidated Revenue. Where is the equity and where is the reason in a proposal that the A.B.C. which is provided with public moneys to the extent of over £17 million should also encroach upon the field of advertising to finance its services?
– The British Broadcasting Commission is having a look at this matter.
– The B.B.C. has a totally different constitution. It was established entirely as a national institution and then it branched off and let out to various companies its contract arrangements. They do the commercial work there. So it is an entirely different setup that has been referred to by the honorable senator. Having put that matter before the Committee to dispel, I think, any basis whatever in reason for the idea that a national agency should go into advertising, let me say this: It is the advertising receipts of both the commercial radio stations and the commercial television stations that provide a basis for taxation to raise part of this national revenue which is devoted to the improvement of the services of the A.B.C. One thing that we notice from the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is that the licence fee for commercial television licences is going to be adjusted this year to a percentage of gross advertising receipts. The fee will be at the rate of 1 per cent, up to £500,000, 2 per cent, from £500,000 to £1 million, 3 per cent, between £1 million and £2 million and 4 per cent, on gross advertising receipts over £2 million. That is a very good beginning. It may be a coincidence but it is entirely along the lines of a recommendation made last year by the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television and the appropriateness of it is undeniable. So there, from commercial advertising, we are getting a graduated levy for the support of the national stations.
I want to hasten, Mr. Chairman, because I do not want to detain you too long, but there is another point that I want to mention and that is the control that is exercised by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board over television. I share with others the view that the supervision and control exercised by that Board is inadequate and disappointing. I want to say this particularly: Whereas that Board has the function of recommending what commercial licences shall be issued, I believe that we have made a very retrograde step in recommending a multiplicity of commercial television licences for the big metropolitan areas, particularly in Melbourne where the number of commercial licences now is four. I, for myself, believe that it is a mistake to have that many commercial television stations in one area - even so big an area as Melbourne. I believe that that is one of the instances in which, conspicuously, the Board has failed to exercise sufficient control, although I am the first to recognise that the primary responsibility for the number of licences to be issued rests with the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme).
Mr. Chairman, we are now just on the threshhold of developing this terrifically appealing and exciting industry of television and even if we erred in issuing too many licences the decision wants to be made finally as to whether we are going to adhere to that arrangement or whether we are going to do something on just terms to put the number of licences in the metropolitan areas on a proper basis so that there will be greater parity between the performance of commercial television stations and A.B.C. television.
. Mr. Chairman, I want to direct the attention of honorable senators to Division No. 842 and Division No. 843. I take both those divisions together because the matter I want to raise is the question of interference with television receiving sets by radio beams. It has been found that in parts of Western Australia the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s radio station does create a pattern on the television sets. People in the Waroona area who have television sets have had to pay the same licence fee as other people. There is no way out of that, of course. In addition, they pay comparatively large amounts of money in order to avoid this interference and they just do not succeed in doing so. I do not condemn the A.B.C. for this because I know it has sent technicians out to try to rectify the problem but they have been unsuccessful.
I notice in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1964 that interference with television reception is dealt with in paragraph 165. The Postmaster-General’s Department has received 7,477 complaints about television reception. The Department spent £34,108 in endeavouring to rectify the trouble which was the subject of these complaints. Complaints about departmental equipment totalled 49 or .05 per cent, of the number received by the Department. I understand that in 1930 the international radio transmitting laws were drawn up to restrict harmonic frequencies interfering with radio receivers. It has been suggested to me that perhaps the modern machinery needed to restrict the harmonic frequencies from interfering with the more sensitive television receivers has not been installed at Waroona transmitting station. I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) whether some information can be obtained on this subject from the departmental officers. If these harmonic frequencies have not been attended to in this area, does the Government intend to instal the necessary machinery to rectify the trouble? What other steps does the Government intend to take to try to clear up this interference by the broadcasting beam with the television screen receivers?
– I wish to make one or two further comments which are related to Division No. 835 - Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Minister, in his reply to me, referred to the employment of Australians on radio programmes. I point out to the Minister that the circular graph Which appears at page 20 of the report of the Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1964 shows that the amount of time allotted to radio dramatic programmes fell to 3.8 per cent, of the total in the last, financial year. The figure for the previous year was 5.3 per cent. I point out further that the Australian radio dramatic serials that were taken off the air were taken off in the second last week of the last financial year. The removal of these programmes will thus have a further dele;terious effect on the employment of Australians and the presentation of serial radio dramatic productions unless and until the Broadcasting Control Board takes effective remedial action.
It is interesting to observe from the report of the Board that, although television has been in existence in Australia now for eight or nine years, no time is set aside by commercial television stations for educational programmes. It is disappointing to know that such a state of affairs exists, particularly when we note that the Board continues to express its concern. 1 refer now to Division No. 838 - Australian Broadcasting Commission. Having read the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, it is refreshing to note the positive and objective approach which the Commission has made to the problems which confront the radio and television industries. It is obvious from the report of the Australian Commission that the Commission is recognised throughout the world as an important channel of communication. At page 8 of the Commission’s report are set out the international activities in which the Commission is engaged in co-operation with other broadcasting services.
The Minister has already referred to the activities of Radio Australia. I agree with his statement that the service rendered by Radio Australia is of benefit to the countries of Asia, and to Australia. I should like to know what the Australian Broadcasting Commission is doing to expand its radio activities throughout Papua and New Guinea. In view of the proposal to give the Territory independence, this subject is of considerable importance. 1 should like to know what the A.B.C. is doing to train Papuans and New Guineans. I was very interested to read at page 15 of its report of the valuable contribution that the Commission is making to education through its broadcasting and television networks. I suggest that the Broadcasting Control Board would do well to look very closely at the report of the Australia Broadcasting Commission on this subject and see whether anything constructive can be done by commercial stations along the lines mentioned.
May 1 compliment the Commission upon ils presentation of children’s programmes? When one compares the children’s programmes that are presented by the A.B.C. over its broadcasting and television networks with those that are presented by commercial stations, one appreciates the value of the A.B.C. to the younger generation and to the nation as a whole. I compliment the Commission particularly on its programme entitled “ Quiz Kids “, which is presented by Channel 2 in Sydney at approximately 6 p.m. on Sundays, lt is a very well pro duced programme and is informative not only for children but also for adults. If programmes of this kind were considered by commercial television stations, Australians would be better off for the time they spend sitting in front of the idiot box.
I note that expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act, for which provision is made in Division No. 838, is to be increased by approximately Hi million. Evidence was submitted to the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television that the A.B.C. was spending approximately six times as much money on musical productions as on Australian dramatic productions. I am wondering whether this imbalance which existed approximately 12 months ago still exists or whether the situation has been corrected. I am pleased to note that during the last financial year the Australian Broadcasting Commission arranged more than 4,100 individual engagements for radio plays, features and serials. That is a substantial contribution to an industry which has been struggling for many years, which is still struggling and which will continue to struggle until other organisations adopt the attitude that has been adopted by the A.B.C.
– Senator Cant referred to interference at Waroona in Western Australia. This problem is beyond the scope of our discussion here, but I assure the honorable senator that the matter will be examined closely by technical officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Senator McClelland referred to the position in Papua and New Guinea. He will be pleased to know that a number of Papuans and New Guineans are employed by the Commission. Indeed, two Papuan journalists are now in Australia for advanced training. As the honorable senator no doubt knows, we have short wave and medium wave stations at Port Moresby and Rabaul. An extension of this service is under review. The honorable senator made some general observations about the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I shall see that attention is directed to those observations.
I thank Senator Wright for his contribution to the discussion. He drew together figures for income and expenditure and presented a very clear picture of the contribution that is being made by the Government to broadcasting and television services over and above the revenue that is raised from listeners and viewers. I know that Senator Wright did not intend to do so, but I rather thought he spoke in terms of four commercial stations in the capital cities. As he would know, there are three commercial stations in the capital cities.
– Four in all.
– Yes. The fourth station is the national station. A full inquiry is undertaken before a licence is issued. The only matter to which reference was made related to the increased expenditure under Division No. 838, item 01. It covers increased expenditure of £321,600 on the maintenance of current activities, and £408,000 for other unavoidable expenditure, which includes increases in the basic wage costing no less than £250,000, adjustments to cover increased prices for the purchase of rights in overseas films, and expenditure on rental facilities for country television stations and the like.
The item also covers expenditure of £559,600 on the transfer to radio technical services, and expenditure on television educational programmes which was increased by £93,000. This was an amount required for the extension of television programmes for schools and bridging courses for students who have completed their secondary education but are not fully prepared for tertiary education. There was an increase of £51,000 for staff training and experimental programmes; increased expenditure of £72,000 on television development, and of £15,000 on radio development; and additional staff was required which involved an expenditure of £96,000. In closing this debate I want to express my thanks to all honorable senators who took part in it for their indulgence in relation to my handling of the estimates.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8 p.m.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Trade and Industry, £5,531,000; Department of the Treasury, £88,258,000; Depart ment of the Treasury (special expenditure) £1,190,000- noted.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed expenditure, £16,000,000.
.- It will not be necessary for me to inform you, Mr. Chairman, that I propose to refer to the sum of £16 million which will no doubt be voted by the Parliament to the Treasurer to allow him to carry on the nation’s affairs, probably until the Parliament meets again, when it will, if necessary, advance a further sum to him. We have almost completed consideration of the proposed allocations to the various departments. Sufficient has been approved to allow nearly all of them to carry on for at least several months, and probably for 12 months.
I should like to refer briefly to what happened last year. When the financial year had almost closed we could see that although the Government had budgeted for a deficit it would finish its operations with a surplus. Several of us referred to the probability of a surplus. At this time it is in order for one to look at the economic picture in the Commonwealth and, if possible, to assess the financial situation at the 30th June next year. Of course, that is a long time to look ahead. Nevertheless one is entitled to do so.
If we look at the economic pointers now in evidence we must conclude that some of them are not of the brightest hue. We see that there has been a decline in the sale of our primary products overseas. Although a greater quantity may be sold later, to date there has been a decline of about £12 million in the value of our exports of wheat, wool and sugar.
I may mention that last year one of the matters which we stressed particularly was the sums to which the Treasurer referred as the revenues from the various departments during the financial year. We observed that his calculations were wrong. Instead of there being a deficit in some cases, there was a considerable surplus. We know that it is not the Treasurer’s function to sit beside the secretaries and the accountants of the various departments and discuss with them the revenue probabilities. So the financial year rolls on and the picture becomes clear. As I have said, only a financial magician would be able to foresee at any time throughout the year the exact result at the 30th June. For instance, it was not possible for any official of the Treasury or any official of any department functioning within the Commonwealth to foresee that the price of sugar would reach £106 a ton on the world market. Of course, the price of sugar has fallen considerably since then. It is now down to about £36 a ton, but it is still at an economic figure. Those are the kind of things that happen.
In other respects the revenues were very buoyant during the last financial year. We do not face the same situation now. In fact there will be a race this year between the revenues and the expenditures to see which will win on 30th June. From the economic pointers at our disposal for examining these things, I cannot see at this time what the situation will be.
I have looked at the volume of retail sales in the months that have already passed in this financial year. Certainly they show an increase on sales last year. Perhaps that is one of the best economic pointers that we have because if goods are being produced and manufactured and are being purchased and consumed, it follows that our revenues must be pretty high.
At present a large volume of goods is being imported into the Commonwealth. I am not prepared to say at this time whether that is a good thing for industries in Australia. Nevertheless, goods manufactured in other countries are coming in by the ship load. I do not think the Government is objecting to that. I do not think it will take any action to reduce the rising volume of imports. That may be its way of dampening the economy, so it is allowing things to take their course.
I am not prepared to say what the employment situation will be in the next eight months but at this juncture the level of employment is high. One must admit that. I am one of those who watch the employment situation throughout the year and I have observed that unemployment has fallen. Probably, it would be very difficult to improve on the existing employment situation in the Commonwealth. As it happens, there is an acute shortage of journeymen in most States. As I pointed out the other day when we were dealing with the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service, the Government failed the people of the Commonwealth by not attending to apprenticeship matters as it should have done.
It was pointed out that the States had the constitutional power to deal with trade apprenticeships and that it was therefore the fault of the States, if it was the fault of any authority. But the Commonwealth is the big boy at all the parties - the financial picnics - that we have, and it should have been the organising force in the training of tradesmen to meet the situation that has developed. Now we are in a position from which it will be very difficult for the Commonwealth to extricate itself. It is estimated that in Queensland alone industries are short of 1,500 tradesmen. In New South Wales, the position is worse. It appears to me that the Government is doing insufficient about that situation at present.
– I think the honorable senator is dealing with the employment situation.
– May I point out, with the best of feelings, that we are considering the Advance to the Treasurer, which covers all the departments, including the Department of Labour and National Service, which require funds to carry on.
– Yes, and I think that a passing reference to those is permitted, but particular items should not be laboured.
– I refer to that matter only in passing for a certain purpose. It is one of the matters that must be considered seriously. If we are to decide just what the financial position will be in eight months, these matters will have to be weighed. I do not propose to say much more. One hopes for the best and for a buoyant economy from now on. I would say that it had been good up to this stage. Oil has been discovered in Queensland and although some has been sold, it is not showing much effect on the economy of Queensland. Certain deposits of metals have been found in various parts of Australia. Whether or not they are being developed, I am unable to say, but they augur well for the future.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed expenditure, £69,212,000.
– I refer to Division No. 675 - Naval Construction. I notice that the expenditure last year was just under £12 million. It is proposed that this year there will be a very steep rise to £19,985,000. Can the Minister give us some information on this matter? 1 take it that this provision relates to naval construction within Australia, but I may be wrong in that. Will the Minister say where this construction is to be carried out and what kind of construction it will be?
– I refer to Division No. 664 - Australian Naval Forces. I am interested to know just what happens at Jervis Bay. Is the establishment there as important today in the Navy’s scheme of things as it used to bc, or is it not important? Two years ago I was motoring in the area and I decided to seek permission to visit the naval depot at Jervis Bay. It was certainly Christmas week, but when I got to the gate I had visions of Pearl Harbour, with the Japanese arriving, everybody being asleep and not knowing what was on. I had a friend with me. The man at the door said, after I told him who I was: “Yes, you can go in.” So I went in and I spent two hours having a look round. I did not see anybody except a man fishing at the end of a wharf. I thought it was rather remarkable, because 1 had always heard of Jervis Bay as being a very important unit of the naval set up in Australia.
– Was the honorable senator on a holiday?
– I am never on a holiday. I work all the time.
– That is what the honorable senator likes to think.
– That is just the point to which I am coming. On my way out, I said to the man at the door: “ Where is everybody? “ He said: “ They are on holidays.” This thought struck me: Why should everybody be on holidays from Jervis Bay in Christmas week? I did not think that the enemy was ever on a holiday.
– The enemy would not find much at Jervis Bay.
– This just seemed strange to me. The staff consisted of 114 officers and men. The man in charge and another man who was there told me that the rest of the staff had gone home for the week-end. I thought of Pearl Harbour. I should like the Minister to explain why we are only half alerted. This falls into the same category as the subject matter of a question that I asked a few days ago, when I was told that the people working the radar establishments - at any rate on the New South Wales coast from Sydney to Brisbane - worked public service hours, starting at 9 a.m. and knocking off at 5 p.m. That seems strange to me. Senator Marriott is nodding his head as if to indicate that even members of the forces must have time off. That may be so, but I think it is foolish to be alerting everybody to the dangers facing Australia, to be raising our blood pressure in this chamber night after night about South Vietnam, the menace of Indonesia, and all the other things that cause us concern, when this laisser-faire attitude exists at these establishments. They seem to think: It does not matter; it could not happen today. I wonder whether the Minister has an explanation. The old Boy Scout motto, “ Be prepared “, does not seem to apply to the Australian Navy. Anyhow that does not seem to be the position in the Australian Navy and I simply wanted to make some inquiries.
I should also like to know who is in charge in the Navy in moments of crisis. A boat went down off Nambucca Heads with local fishermen aboard. Word was sent to Jervis Bay for an aircraft to make a search. An aircraft went to take part in the search but returned and the local people were not told. I tried to contact a Minister and eventually approached four Ministers to get something done. I asked that another aircraft should take part in the search. Finally, with the help of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) another plane was sent out to take part in the search for the ill-fated crew who were never found. I was up all one night trying to make contact with the right persons to make the arrangements and it took 24 hours to get anything done. My experience was that the Navy was not alert at all. I do not know who was responsible and I hope that the Minister can restore some of the confidence I had in the Navy. My experience with the Navy has not been very good.
– Senator Willesee asked for information about naval construction. The first item of the proposed expenditure of £19,985,000 is £304,000 for the completion of four anti-submarine frigates. This work is being done in Australia. The next item is £59,000 for the conversion. modification and construction of mine sweepers in the United Kingdom. An amount of £50,000 is to be spent on a survey ship which was built at the Newcastle State dockyard. It is proposed to spend £7,777,000 on the Charles F. Adams class destroyers which are being built in the United States of America. Another item is £88,000 for miscellaneous support craft which are being constructed in Australia. It is proposed to spend £83,000 on the construction in Australia of work boats.
Construction of submarines of the Oberon class in the United Kingdom will cost £3,428,000. For the provision and fitting of the Ikara weapon, there is provision for £3,864,000. This work will be done in Australia. An escort maintenance ship is being built in Australia at a cost of £2,844,000. The next item is £6,000 for merchant ship degaussing to be spent in Australia. The last item is provision for two new type 12 frigates to be built in Australia on which the expenditure this year will be £1,482,000. The total amount is £19,985,000 as is shown in the estimates.
asked some questions about the situation at Jervis Bay. The establishment there, as I understand it, is a training college. I do not think that the College has anything to do with the radar service to which Senator Ormonde referred, and I do not think the Royal Australian Navy is responsible for that radar. Senator Ormonde said that those operating the radar were working Public Service hours. I would not think that the hours when the radar is being operated could be described as Public Service hours but I believe that those operating the radar consider that its hours of operation are consistent with the safety of the nation in present circumstances. I do not know whether the hours have been altered since Senator Ormonde raised the matter a few weeks ago. The honorable senator said that nobody appeared to be at the Jervis Bay Naval College at Christmas time. I would think that most of the lads in training there were home for Christmas.
– It is not a defence unit?
– No, I understand it is a training college.
– I, too, wish to refer to naval construction, for which £19,985,000 is provided. In reply to Senator Willesee, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) referred to the types of craft that are included in the naval construction programme, but I notice that no mention was made of search and rescue vessels. I raised this matter last year during the debate on the Estimates, and I pointed out to the then Minister for the Navy that so far as my knowledge went, the search and rescue vessels of the Royal Australian Navy were of about 1942 vintage. I also asked the Minister whether it was possible to construct vessels of this type in Australian shipyards. In reply, the Minister for the Navy said that this was a type of naval vessel that could be constructed in Australian shipyards if required.
It was obvious to everyone who read the report of the Royal Commission on H.M.A.S. “Voyager” that in the rescue operations resulting from that unfortunate tragedy last February, a number of seamen who were in the water were loath to be rescued by helicopters which had been sent out in the darkness. The men were unfamiliar with such operations. Has the Department of the Navy given consideration to obtaining more search and rescue craft? Does the Navy consider that the search and rescue craft now in the service are satisfactory? Has the Department considered whether orders for the construction of such craft could be placed with Australian shipyards?
– I have a suggestion concerning naval construction which the Minister night refer to the proper authorities. Reference has been made to the various places where money is being spent on naval construction. I suggest for the consideration of the accounts that perhaps we could have more detail on this expenditure to show where the money is being spent by the Australian Government, both inside Australia and outside, and on what types of vessels the money is being expended. The Minister might suggest to the accounting authorities that more information could be given before next year and that perhaps it could be given in summary form.
Senator Ormonde referred to the naval establishment at Jervis Bay. Under Division No. 690 - National Capital Development
Commission - the proposed vote is £128,000. Last year the actual expenditure was £8,500. Could I have some information on that item? I come now to Division No. 668, item 08, which relates to payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The proposed vote is £110,000, compared with actual expenditure of £219,755 last year. In view of the long history of problems that the Royal Australian Navy has had, as a result of which payments have been made under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, I am wondering Whether in certain conditions they should not bc paid instead under the Repatriation Act. Over the years we have had various naval disasters. It seems that a case could be made to prove that these people are virtually under wartime conditions and that they are exposed to hazards outside the normal duties of what might be termed their “ everyday occupation “. It is arguable, of course, that when a person joins the Navy he must expect that some of the time he will be working under hazardous conditions, but I think, Mr. Chairman - particularly at a time when we are trying to encourage young men into the Armed Services - that the Department should consider whether or not the Workers Compensation Act should apply if, indeed, it does apply. That is the point on which I seek guidance. When naval personnel are working under these hazardous conditions the Repatriation Act might be the more appropriate act to be applied. I know that Ministers for the Navy over the years have considered this question. I am not pretending that the answer to it is easy to find but I think it is a matter that should be under constant surveillance, and this is an appropriate time for the matter to be considered.
I pass on to item 09, Compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury. The suggestion seems to be that this is something different from the previous item. Does this relate to third parties who are injured in the course of naval duties, or exactly to what does it refer?
Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) [8.32’. - I seek your guidance on this matter, Mr. Chairman. I wish to speak about the naval police van. I imagine what 1 have to say would come under Division No. 664.
– The honorable senator can commence his remarks and I will see what the position is then.
– Honorable senators know that when naval ships come into Sydney Harbour they dock in the Garden Island area, whether the ships are French, American or Australian. When these ships are in port it means that there is a large concourse of naval personnel around the Kings Cross area. I have made inquiries about this matter and what I am going to tell the Senate is factual. The Navy supplies only one pick-up truck with about four officers to attend to altercations that might take place outside the various restaurants, night clubs, and hotels around the Cross. The local police, of course, do not like to interfere in altercations - if I might use that word - that occur between sailors and civilians or between the sailors themselves. I have had the experience of seeing only one Navy truck from the naval depot at Garden Island in the area.
– The Black Maria?
– Yes. The Navy sends only one truck out. The boys are in danger and in order to protect them it would be better for the Navy to pay more attention to this area when ships are in port. One way to get boys into the Navy is to see that they are protected at all times, as far as it is possible to protect them. The Minister should inquire into this matter to see whether it would not be possible, when 1,000 or 2,000 naval personnel are in the Kings Cross and Potts Point area, at least to send two units to patrol the area to see that order is kept.
– I should like to deal with some of the matters that honorable senators have raised. I refer first to Division No. 675 - Naval Construction, for which the proposed vote is £19,985,000. I mentioned the classes of ships that are being built and where they are being built. Senator McClelland asked whether any search and rescue ships are being constructed. I understand that the proposed vote does not cover the construction of any new search and rescue ships. There are a number of smaller ships in the planning stages but the amount appropriated under this division does not cover them.
The item relating to the National Capital Development Commission refers to that part of naval expenditure involved in providing for the electronic data processing plant. This computer is used by all of the Services and the amount represents the Navy’s contribution this year towards that particular item. Senator Willesee asked about the amount provided for compensation and inquired whether it applied to third parties. This item covers common law claims. The large increase in expenditure last year was due to the “ Voyager “ disaster. That is also why the expenditure was so much more last year than the appropriation for this year.
– Senator Willesee raised a point that I intended to raise. The Minister has just answered the question that was asked. It did seem extraordinary to me that although no money was appropriated by Parliament last year nevertheless £8,500 was spent, and that this year we are being asked to vote £128,000.
– To which item is the honorable senator referring?
– To Division No. 690. As we go through the Estimates I am beginning to wonder whether this Parliament has any power at all. We have the instance of a department of the Government not having any money voted to it for a specific purpose and yet spending £8,500 for that purpose. Then the following year, without being given any real explanation, Parliament is asked to vote £128,000 for this item. I turn now to Division No. 668. I do not expect the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy to give me an answer on this matter but I do hope that he will pass my comments on to his colleague in another place, and that the Minister for the Navy will refer the matter to the Department. The Department should let the Parliament know what it is doing and it should be prepared to confine itself to the amount of money that the Parliament says it can have. In this division there are 15 items of expenditure which the Parliament is asked to appropriate on behalf of the Department of the Navy. If honorable senators examine these 15 items they will find that in seven cases an over-expenditure occurred. What is the use of the Parliament saying in effect: “ Yes, you can spend this much “, and then, in 12 months time, having a document presented to it which shows that, on almost half of the items, the Department has spent more than the Parliament gave it authority to spend. I am speaking purely from the point of view of the authority of Parliament. If an emergency arises and the Navy has to buy or construct ships, that is a different matter; but as far as administrative expenses are concerned surely this Parliament should have the last word in giving authority to spend the money of the taxpayers.
– Division No. 690 relates to the electronic data processing building. Last year the expenditure in respect of this Division was only £8,500 because at that time the erection of the building had just started. For 1964-65 the Navy will share with the Army the cost of the erection of the building and the purchase of equipment. The Navy’s share of the expenditure will increase from £8,500 to £110,000.
Senator Marriott referred to Division No. 668, item 01- Travelling and Subsistence. It was estimated that the total expenditure would be £1,206,000. The expenditure was £1,203,674. In a provision for a year’s expenditure on travelling and subsistence, on which the total expenditure was £1,203,674, an appropriation of £1,206,000 does not represent a great error in estimation. The appropriation in respect of freight and cartage for 1964-65 is £179,000. The expenditure for 1963-64 on freight and cartage was £277,790, so that it is estimated that expenditure on this item will fall by about £98,000.
– The appropriation last year was £237,000 but the expenditure was £277,790. Senator Marriott is complaining about the overspending.
– This is what I am pointing out. The total appropriation for Division No. 668 for 1964-65 is £3,336,000. The appropriation for 1963-64 was £3,542,000 and the expenditure was £3,529,480. Obviously there was not a great variation between the appropriation and the expenditure for 1963-64.
.- -I refer to Division No. 687 - Other Administrations - Recoverable Expenditure.
The items in this division relate to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and “ Other “. I would like some information on these items. It appears that we are making payments which are recoverable in some way. Is any information available at present on this division?
– I wish to draw attention to Division No. 687, to which Senator Willesee has just referred. As I see it, the Australian Government has been spending money on behalf of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and others. This expenditure is then recovered from the other nations. Last year it was estimated that the recovery from New Zealand would be £150,000, but the actual recovery was £72,898. Surely the Government knows what it is spending on behalf of the other nations and what should be recovered. In the event, less than half the estimated amount was recovered from New Zealand. The Parliament is entitled to an explanation. This year the Government expects to recover from New Zealand £200,000. What will be the position? Will we recover only £100,000? What will happen in respect of the amount not recovered? Are we writing it off, or what happens to it?
– In respect of Division No. 687 it was estimated that we would be spending on behalf of New Zealand £150,000. In fact we spent on behalf of New Zealand only £72,898. The appropriation was over estimated because we were not required by New Zealand to spend on its behalf the full amount of the appropriation. For 1964-65 it is estimated that we will spend on their behalf £200,000. It is not until the end of the financial year that we will know how much wc have spent on their behalf and by how much the appropriation has been over estimated or under estimated.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Army.
Proposed expenditure, £94,185,000.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales [8.46]. - I wish to advert to one or two matters in the estimates for the Department of the Army. First I wish to refer to Division No. 698 - Australian Military
Forces - and more particularly to the item therein relating to pay and allowances for the Australian Regular Army as set out in the Schedule. From time to time I have raised in the Senate the matter of zone allowances. I should like to hear from the Minister what is the latest situation in regard to zone allowances for troops stationed in Borneo. I placed a question on the notice paper some time ago and on 15th September last the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) stated that Australian servicemen in Borneo are paid a zone allowance of £105 a year; Australian troops in New Guinea receive a zone allowance of £165 a year; and Australian troops in Darwin receive a zone allowance of £145 a year.
In his reply the Minister also said that a taxation deduction allowance was applicable to troops serving in Malaysia, New Guinea and Darwin at the rate of £270 per annum. The Minister said that variations to the allowances applicable to Borneo were receiving consideration. It seems anomalous that a zone allowance of £105 is paid to troops serving in Borneo, while a zone allowance of £165 is paid to troops serving in New Guinea. Further, a taxation deduction of £270 is allowed in each case. This seems to me to be absurd. As the Minister said that the matter was receiving consideration, perhaps Senator Henty, who represents the Minister for the Army, might through his advisers be able to inform the Senate what is the present situation.
I understand that last year, four young men from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea were brought to the Portsea military establishment to undertake an officer training course. I do not know the length of the course, but I understand from recent statements that have been made that it is intended to increase the establishment of the Pacific Islands Regiment. I should like the Minister to say whether arrangements are being made to bring to Australia for officer training courses more young men from Papua and New Guinea.
I refer now to Division No. 703 - Administrative Expenses and General Services. Item 06 relates to rations. I am informed by a friend of mine serving with Australian forces overseas that Australian troops on the Malayan peninsula are receiving an allowance of 9s. per day because they have to eat British rations. I mentioned this matter by way of a question in the Senate recently. It seems to me to be rather absurd that Australia, which is a food producing country and which has a more or less regular air service, conducted by the Royal Australian Air Force, with Butterworth in Malaya, should be obliged to pay an allowance of 9s. a day to its troops in Malaya because they are eating British rations. I wonder whether arrangements could be made to provide the troops with Australian rations, as is done with all other members of the Armed Forces.
Item 13 of Division No. 703 relates to the hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment. The estimated expenditure for this year is £232,000. I dare say that aircraft, vehicles and equipment are being hired for training purposes, but I should like to know who is the hirer. It seems rather strange that although we have a substantial amount set aside for the purchase of armaments and equipment, it is necessary for the Department of the Army to include in its estimates an amount of £232,000 for the hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment.
– Might I suggest to the honorable senator that he allow me to answer at this point some of the queries that have been raised?
– Yes, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I am happy to do that.
– Senator McClelland has referred to the enlargement of the Pacific Islands Regiment and to the bringing of people from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to Australia for training purposes. It is correct that the Regiment is being enlarged. Additional personnel are being brought to Australia for training in connection with the enlargement proposal. The honorable Senator also referred to the payment of an allowance of 9s. per day to Australian troops serving in Malaya. I am advised that all Australian troops receive the Australian ration allowance except when they are messing with British forces. It is felt that in those circumstances they should be paid an additional 9s. per day in order to bring the British allowance up to the level of the Australian allowance.
Senator McClelland also referred to the important matter of the zone allowance. At the time he raised it, I brought it to the attention of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes). However, the officers from the section concerned are not here tonight to advise me regarding action that has been taken in the matter. I therefore ask the honorable senator to leave the matter in abeyance for tonight and I shall obtain the relevant information for him as soon as I can. I inform him that the item relating to the hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment covers aircraft used for survey mapping purposes but excludes the hire of motor transport for movement to and from camps, which is charged to “Travelling and subsistence “, referred to in item 01 of Division No. 703. Owing to a more extensive programme for survey operations in 1964-65 it will be necessary to charter additional civil aircraft, which will increase expenditure on survey activities under this item. Expenditure on the hire of aircraft and ships for major training exercises will rise substantially in 1 964-65 due to a greater range and diversity of training activities.
.- I refer to Division No. 708 - Arms, Armament and Equipment. I shall refer particularly to item 03, which relates to clothing, medical and general stores. The proposed expenditure is £4,500,000. The Department of the Army is short of numbers. Even though a well directed and concerted recruiting drive has been carried on, the recruitment targets have not been achieved. I suggest that in this item we find one of the main reasons why the Army is unattractive to 3’oung men. There is an old saying that clothes make the gentleman. I believe that what is inside the clothes makes the gentleman. Nevertheless that saying carries some weight. I cannot say anything about the officers in the Australian Army because they are always meticulously clothed in well fitting uniforms, but the other ranks are not so well clothed. I have seen most of the armies in the Western world and also some in the Eastern world. I should say that the uniform with which Australian troops are supplied is as poor as any I have seen. It just is not good enough if we want to compete for the services of young men in this day and age, when there is full employment. In these days of glamour and status symbols, young men wish to look sharp and smart. We need to look very closely at the uniform we provide for our soldiers.
An Australian soldier on a wet day has two alternatives. First, he has a greatcoat which was designed for the trenches in the First World War. Goodness knows what it weighs when it is dry, but when it is wet it weighs almost as much as Phar Lap could carry. Secondly, he has a ground sheet which he can place around his shoulders. What young lady would be attracted to a man dressed in that way? in the days of trench warfare, camouflage was important. The troops wore khaki. Many people cannot pronounce that word properly, and foreigners especially experience difficulty with it.
– Order! The honorable senator is getting a little away from the estimates we are discussing.
– I am referring to clothing and I intend to remain on that subject.
– I do not think the honorable senator should discuss the pronunciation of words, and matters of that kind.
– I was speaking of the colour of the uniform that our troops wear.
– The honorable senator is discussing the item dealing with clothing, medical and general stores, for which the proposed appropriation is £4,500,000. He should relate his remarks much more closely to that item.
– I do not know how I could relate the subject of khaki clothing more closely to the item I am discussing. I am suggesting to the Committee that we must adopt a more realistic approach to the type of clothing we provide for the Army if we wish to attract recruits. One has only to look around to see that everybody else in the community is being attracted to fashion. In the shops one sees well cut clothing made of finely woven fabrics in attractive soft colours. The last man in the book to get a change is the old digger.
– What are we to put him in?
– I want to see him as smartly dressed as the American, Indone sian, Malayan, German, French, Dutch, Norwegian and Scandinavian servicemen.
– Are we to put him in a frock?
– The honorable senator is talking about the wrong army. He can put the other armies in floral frocks if he wants to. I am talking about our Army, of which we are proud. We had a discussion recently about warmth in Army quarters. We have had presented to us the old-fashioned idea that a soldier can be put in a little block measuring 6ft. by 8ft. and be allowed to do his study there. Little quarters were all right in the old days, because a soldier did not bother about study then. But today we have a technical Army; we have an Army of men who have been educated compulsorily. In some enlightened States such as Tasmania young people go to school until they are 16 years of age. In less enlightened States the authorities get rid of their responsibility by farming youths out at 14 years of age. Let us deal with the average Australian who leaves school at 15 years of age. He does not want this “ old hat “.
– Old hat?
– Yes, it is “old hat “. I am talking about the old sugee bags and the Prince Edwards. Up in Queensland in the honorable Senator’s day they did not wear socks; they wore Prince Edwards.
Order! The honorable senator is getting well away from the proposed expenditure of £4i million which the Committee is considering.
– I will sum up my remarks by saying that the, attitude of the recruit who finds himself dressed in the oldfashioned khaki sugee bag type of uniform can be expressed as follows -
How can I stand and fight the foe
And take the final leap
When its creepin’ up me flamin’ back?
Me shirt’s made on the cheap.
How can I as a digger fall
With me face towards the “ Gook “
When Fairhall’s covered up me rear
With trousers off the hook?
.- I refer to Division No. 708. The expenditure of the Department of the Army will increase this year by £15,151,463.
Expenditure under Division No. 698 will increase by £6.6 million, under Division No. 70.1 by £725,000, under Division No. 703 by £780,000, under Division No. 704 by £206,000 and under Division No. 706 by £44,000. Division No. 708 is a completely new division, the proposed expenditure being £26,624,000. Where have the items covered by that Division been included in the Estimates for previous years?
We are talking about the Army. To all intents and purposes, anybody who picks up these estimates finds that for the first time a sum of £14,824,000 is to be spent on warlike stores. I repeat that we have had an Army for years; but this is the first year in which provision is made for stores. Provision is now made for the first lime for the expenditure of £7,300,000 on transportation and engineering equipment. Surely we arc entitled to something better than that. Senator O’Byrne should not complain. We find that this year for the first time the Army is to be dressed.
– Have they been in the nude?
– I do not know. There has been no appropriation for this item in the past, but this year provision is made for the expenditure of £4,500,000 on clothing. What sort of Army is this? As I said earlier, the increase in expenditure for the Department of the Army is approximately £15 million. Just where do we go when this sort of thing is put before us? It is typical of the statements that have been made by this Government over the years. These figures are a hotchpotch that nobody can understand. We are entitled to know something more about Division No. 708.
– Division No. 708 is broken down into three items. Provision is made for the expenditure of £14,824,000 on warlike stores; £7,300,000 on transportation and engineering equipment; and £4,500,000 on clothing, medical and general stores. In last year’s Estimates the expenditure appeared in this way: Division No. 708 - Arms, armament and equipment, £22,723,000. It will be seen that this year more detail has been given.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I am curious about Division No. 720 - Advances to States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The proposed expenditure for this year will be approximately £900,000 greater than the expenditure last year. I should like to know whether these figures indicate that better housing will be provided during the current year for members of the forces.
I refer now to Division No. 722 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings. I dealt with a similar item when we were discussing the estimates of another department. It is not good enough for us to be presented wilh an appropriation for the acquisition of sites and buildings without being informed what sites and buildings are intended to be purchased. All too frequently the first we know about the Army, for example, purchasing a particular site is when we read about it in the Press. We should be in a position to inform our electors about these matters. I come now to the proposed expenditure on the Citizen Military Forces and cadets, under Division No. 698. I should like to know the cost of recruiting during the last year, including the cost per person. I should also like to know the intentions of the Department of the Army for the future. I am particularly pertubed about a statement in today’s “Mirror” that the Minister for the Army said in Tasmania he would not recommend a compulsory call-up because he had been advised against doing so by the administrative heads of the Department. This statement was denied by the administrative heads of the Department who said that they advised the Minister for the Army that some call up would be essential in the near future. We should be able to tell the people what the Army intends to do in the future. If a compulsory call up is not intended, let us have information along those lines. As things stand at present we have two bodies of opinion, one saying that a compulsory call up will be essential and the other saying that a compulsory call up will not be essential. Both bodies are relying on the same source of information. The Minister said that he had received this information from the Army chiefs and the article in tonight’s newspaper indicates that the Army chiefs are against a compulsory call up.
– I refer to Division No. 720 - Advances to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The appropriation for 1964-65 is £2,059,000. The appropriation for 1963-64 was £943,000 and expenditure was £1,156,845 so there is an increase this year of £902,155. Expenditure under this Division is under the control of the Department of Housing. In accordance with the provisions of the Housing Agreement Act 1961, each State is required to set aside annually for the erection of dwellings for serving members of the Services such a proportion of the advances by the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Act as the Commonwealth Minister for Housing may specify, but not exceeding 5 per cent, of the amount available for the erection of dwellings by the States. The Commonwealth then makes advances, additional to the principal advances, equal to the amounts set aside by the States. In addition, a special clause in the Agreement provides that the Minister for Housing may enter into negotiations with a State Minister for Housing for the provision of additional Service houses on terms to be mutually agreed. The increased requirement this year is due to the recently announced housing programme for the Services.
I turn now to Division 722 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings. The honorable senator asked in what States these acquisitions have taken place or will take place. In New South Wales a new acquisition to be authorised in 1964-65 is at Bogan Gate where land is being acquired for a demolition area at a cost of £6,815. In South Australia there will be the acquisition of 13 married quarters under the new housing programme for the Services at a cost of £95,000. In Western Australia the uniform gauge railway line Being constructed by the State Government made Avon Valley unsuitable for a military training area, and an area at Bindoon has been accepted in exchange. The total cost is £154,815.
The appropriation for 1964-65 is £220,000. In 1963-64 the appropriation was £515,000 and expenditure was £506,626. So the proposed appropriation for this year is £286,626 below last year’s expenditure. Funds required under this Division are to cover expenditure on the acquisition of land other than in Territories of the Commonwealth. The acquisitions are mainly for training areas, wireless stations, &c. The expenditures are under the control of the Department of the Interior. The estimated expenditure of £220,000 has been calculated as follows - Outstanding commitments at 30th June 1964, £203,483; proposed new authorisations in 1964-65, £154,815, giving a total estimated commitment of £358,298. If you deduct the amount that is estimated to remain unexpended at 20th June 1965 - £138,298 - you get the estimated expenditure for 1964-65 of £220,000.
.- I refer to Division No. 708 - Arms, Armament and Equipment - and that section which relates to clothing. Senator O’Byrne has raised a very important matter. Only yesterday there was an article in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” to the effect that the Minister for the Army had said in Hobart that the Army could not overcome its recruiting problem until the community gave the soldier respect and status. The provision of clothing is wrapped up in this matter of respect and status because if the Army itself does not give the soldier or the prospective soldier respect and status one cannot expect too much from the general community.
As recently as last May an officer of the Citizen Military Forces was reported as having said that C.M.F. recruits have to wait for as long as two months before receiving a uniform.
– Who said that?
– He was reported to be an officer attached to the 1st Lancers at Parramatta Barracks.
– Did he sign his name?
– The article is not signed. I am just repeating what is in the article. If it is wrong, let the Minister refute it. I am entitled to raise the matter; indeed it is my duty to raise it because it is important. Here is a statement attributed to a C.M.F. officer attached to the 1st Lancers to the effect that recruits have to wait two months or more before receiving an issue of a uniform and boots. The officer went on to say that recruits to the permanent staff were disgruntled because winter uniforms had to last for eight years, boots for four years and two pairs of woollen socks had to be worn for four years before new ones were issued. I do not know whether this is right or wrong. If the statement is wrong, I ask the Minister to correct it. This statement received wide circulation through the Press among at least the citizens of New South Wales. Certainly it is enough to dicourage recruits. If the statement is wrong it was up to the Army to refute it al the time it was made.
– This is the C.M.F.?
– Yes, but the officer said that recruits and the permanent staff were disgruntled because winter uniforms had to last for eight years, boots for four years and so on. Will the Minister tell me whether that is a true statement of the position. If it is, it appears that the £4,500,000 proposed to be appropriated for clothing is insufficient for Army purposes.
– 1 invite the Minister’s attention to Division 698 - Australian Military Forces - and refer to the proposed appropriation of £2,800,000 for pay and allowances in the nature of pay for Citizen Military Forces and cadets. 1 notice that the C.M.F. and cadets are grouped. I propose to direct the Committee’s attention to cadets. Can the Minister explain how much of the £2,800,000 will be devoted to pay and allowances for cadets? Are cadets paid? Are officers and non-commissioned officers associated with cadet corps paid? Do cadets come only from schools or colleges or do they come from other sources? What is the general approach of schools and colleges to the cadet corps? Is a degree of enthusiasm shown to the cadet corps by the headmasters and those connected with schools? If recruitment for the Army and the C.M.F. is to be fully effective it is important that great impetus and encouragement be given to cadet training.
T should like to have the Minister’s opinion on whether cadet training is successful. If it is not entirely successful, has he any suggestions on how it can be made more successful? Generally, I should like some indication from the Minister that this important aspect of military training at the cadet stage is being followed up closely by the Department of Army.
– Senator O’Byrne and Senator McClelland have raised the matter of Army clothing, and I agree that this is a very important item. It is a matter of pride in the Army to have a good, smart uniform. I understand that there is now a new summer uniform and that a new winter uniform is under consideration. From what I have seen of members of the Australian Army, they look first class, but honorable senators have expressed some criticism which I am not qualified to answer. I can only give my own opinion that members of the Australian Army look smart.
– It is all in the eye of the beholder.
– Yes, and in this instance I happen to be the beholder. To Senator O’Byrne. it seems otherwise. One really has lo take with a grain of salt the newspaper article to which Senator McClelland referred, because although a person may be told a pair of boots must last four years, with the greatest will in the world he may wear them out sooner than that, and when they are worn out he must have a new pair. It is all very well to be sanctimonious and say that they must last four years. When I was a cadet, we used to go shooting in the issue boots and we wore them out well within four years. I admit that we used to get a new pair every year. Members of the Australian Regular Army receive a special allowance of 2s. 9d. a day to cover odd items such as socks, which they purchase.
– They cannot buy uniforms for that amount.
– I said “odd items”. In my view, the present uniform is very smart. Senator Laught referred to cadets. More schools apply for cadet corps than we can manage at the moment. This is a good, healthy sign and I am sure that the honorable senator will be pleased to hear it. He referred to Division No. 698, subdivision 1, item 02, which relates to a proposed appropriation of £2,800,000 for pay and allowances in the nature of pay for the Citizen Military Forces and Cadets. In the case of the Citizen Military Forces, the provision is for pay for attendance at home training parades, camps of continuous training, schools and courses of instruction, together with marriage and separation allowance where applicable, efficiency grant, and miscellaneous allowances.
Provision is made for payment of an average number of 29,000 C.M.F. personnel through the year at an average amount of £93 2s. per annum, which gives a total of £2,699,900, which has been rounded to £2,700,000. In relation to the Australian Cadet Corps, provision is made for £100,000 for camp pay and allowances in the nature of pay for officers of cadets, camp allowance for cadet under-officers, and service allowance for officers of cadets and cadet under-officers. This makes a total of £2,800,000 in relation to the item. The increased requirement is due to a higher estimated average C.M.F. strength of 29,000 in 1964-65, as compared with 27,039 in 1963-64, and provision for pay increases with effect from 1st July 1964. I am sorry that I missed one item which Senator Cavanagh raised in relation to recruitment. I am advised that this comes under the Department of Defence, that the item relates to recruiting for the Army, Navy and Air Force, and that no separate figures are available in relation to the Department of the Army.
– I refer to Division No. 698 which relates to pay and allowances in the nature of pay for the Australian Military Forces. I remind the Minister that over the past 12 months, particularly, the Department of the Army and the Army have had very bad publicity in the newspapers, which has not been of great assistance in the recruiting drive. I think an amount in excess of £600,000 was expended last year on advertising for recruits, but about once a week in the newspapers, a story like this appears. It is headed “Colonel slugged for £800 a year “ and it reads -
A cancer is eating the heart out of the Australian Army. It is a cancer of anger against the Government, politicians generally and Canberra civil servants. lt goes on to refer to Canberra people as “ shiny pants “ and to deal with pensions for Army personnel. The Minister will agree that for 12 months or more stories such as this have been appearing in all newspapers about the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. My only interest in raising this matter is to try to break down this Press propaganda against the Army. It is very bad publicity for the Army. Can the Minister tell me whether anything has been done by the Department to answer the criticism, and whether any attempt has been made to rectify obvious injustices? Very prominent citizens and military men have called on me in Sydney and asked me to help them to get justice.
– This relates to the D.F.R.B. Fund?
– Yes. I think I have been quite right in discussing these matters under this heading. I ask the Minister whether anything has been done about the retirement scheme.
– The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund comes under the Department of the Treasury. The proposed expenditure for this Department has been noted, and I cannot answer the honorable senator now.
– I refer to Division No. 703, item 14, which relates to the training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments. The proposed appropriation is £492,000, which is only slightly more than the expenditure last year. I should like the Minister to tell the Committee the purpose of this item. Does it relate to specialists that we send overseas or special training on special equipment? The entry does not convey very much information for an expenditure of nearly half a million pounds. I refer also to Division No. 704, item 01, which relates to a proposed appropriation of £2,153,000 for maintenance, other than pay, of personnel of forces overseas. This does not seem to me to be good enough. We do not know to which forces this provision applies, where we have troops, or what we are maintaining overseas. We are just left in the air about what the provision of over £2 million is to cover. We know that we have troops overseas and that we must pay for them, but this item relates to maintenance, other than pay, of personnel.
I refer also to Division No. 722 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings, for which the proposed appropriation is £220,000; Division No. 726 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings for which the proposed appropriation is £2,200; and Division No. 72S - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture, for which the proposed appropriation is £4,294,000. What is the breakup of this amount? 1 can understand items for buildings and works being under the Department of Works but under the control of the Department of the Interior there is a proposed vote of £220,000 and under the Department of Territories an item of £2,200. I would think that the proposed vote of £4,294,000 would have some relation to headquarters buildings in Canberra, but then under the National Capital Development Commission, we have proposed expenditure of £195,000.
The Minister has already explained that item of proposed expenditure.
– I am questioning the grouping of these figures. They are intermingled. Under Division No. 729 there is a proposed vote for repairs and maintenance of £2,265,000. What repairs and maintenance are these? We do not know. This is put in the estimates as a blank item. We have numerous other provisions and then just a single statement that £2,265,000 is required for repairs and maintenance.
– Division No. 703, item 14 relates to the training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments. This item covers payments for the following services - Fares, expenses and tuition fees for Army personnel training abroad; fees for courses at universities, technical schools, &c, in Australia; flying training in Australia and training other than flying training of Army personnel at Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force schools. The increase is due to higher training activity abroad and increased allowances payable whilst training overseas.
Division No. 704, item 01, relates to the maintenance of forces overseas. The funds required under this division are to cover expenditure on the maintenance of the Australian Army force stationed in Malaya as part of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve, the Army engineer field squadron in Borneo, Australian Army instructors stationed in Vietnam, and Australia’s contribution towards the cost of Terendak Camp Malacca. The estimate for item 01 under Division No. 704 has been compiled on the basis of an average per sonnel of 1,315 in Malaya and 83 in Vietnam. Details of the estimate arc as follows -
The honorable senator has said that these are bald items. I remind him that the information is available for honorable senators who require it. Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that all the estimates should be presented in the detail that I have just given him. Senator Cant has been a member of this Parliament long enough to know that the Estimates are presented under main headings but if any honorable senator wants details they can be supplied by Ministers who obtain the information from departmental officers. The honorable senator referred to Divisions Nos. 722, 726, 728 and 729. If he requires detailed information on the proposed expenditure under those divisions. I have the information and I am prepared to read it in detail, but it would occupy 15 or 20 minutes. Frankly, I believe this is humbug on the part of Senator Cant. As I have said, he has been here long enough to know what the form of the Estimates are. If he wants the details I will give them to him.
– I would be satisfied with an explanation of the repairs and maintenance vote of £2,265,000. I should like to know also why the other items are split up all over the place.
– The following are the details of proposed expenditure under Division No. 729 - Repairs and Maintenance -
Funds required under this Division are under control of the Department of Works and cover expenditure on the repair and maintenance of barracks, storage accommodation, depots and Army installations.
The estimated expenditure of £2,265,000 in 1964/65 is calculated as follows: -
The principal items in the repairs and maintenance programme for commencement 1964/65 are -
Does the honorable senator want me to complete the list or is he satisfied with the information that I have given him so far?
– I am satisfied with that information.
– I rise to ask two questions. I refer to Division No. 698 for which the total appropriation this year is £36,800,000. The expenditure last year was £30,134,000. The appropriation this year is about £6 million more than last year, which is an increase of approximately 20 per cent. I take it that an increased force is visualised. I should like to know how this division lines up with Division No. 703, item 06, Rations. The increase in the appropriation for rations is only about 16 per cent. Is there some doubt about the success of the recruiting campaign? What are the Army’s plans for bringing the Forces up to a stated strength?
I should like to refer also to item 1 1 in Division No. 703 which relates to compensation for personal injury and damage to property. Last year an amount of £47,543 was expended under this heading. This year the Parliament is asked to appropriate £83,000. Does the Department have any knowledge of a special claim under this heading, or are there some claims outstanding? I am somewhat concerned about this matter because at a training centre near Murray Bridge an accident occurred and heavy compensation had to be paid by the Government. Munitions had been left in a paddock and a farmer who was plowing that paddock had his legs blown off. I would think, as a result the experience the Department gains from year to year there should be a reduction in the amount necessary to be appropriated under this heading. The Department should be able to minimise compensation claims for personal injury and damage to property. This year the amount to be appropriated is almost double the amount expended last year. I should also like to know the reason for the large increase in the amount for hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment. Does this reflect an increase in Service personnel, or is the Department going to hire more aircraft, vehicles and equipment.
– Which item is that?
– Item 13 of Division No. 703. I pass to item 17 which relates to pensions to former servicemen in special circumstances. Last year the expenditure amounted to £88 but this year an amount of £7,030 is to be appropriated. I do not know what the special circumstances are, or whether the item relates to particular pensions. Why is there this remarkable increase this year? Does it have a bearing on an answer that was given to me in relation to the Department of the Navy earlier today? Maybe there are to be more than the 100 resignations mentioned in the answer. Perhaps the Executive Council intends to accept the resignation of more officers. Obviously there is some reason for the increase and 1 should like to know what it is.
– I shall first deal with item 17 which relates to the last matter raised by Senator Cavanagh. The appropriation this year is £7,030. This item covers only those people who are outside the ambit of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, lt covers expenditure for the payment of ex-gratia pensions to the widows of deceased servicemen in lieu of benefits under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. The increase is due to payments being made to the dependants of another deceased serviceman and to a revision of the amounts to bc paid. Senator Cavanagh referred to the increase of £6 million in the appropriation for Division No. 698. That is entirely duc to the increases in pay which were granted as a result of the new scale of pay recently determined for the Forces. Under Division No. 703. item 06, the honorable senator referred to a 16 per cent, increase in the cost of rations. That is due to the increased number of mcn for whom rations have to be provided.
– What is the position in relation to item 11?
– The Department anticipates that there will be special cases this year. That is why the increase has been provided. A special claim is anticipated and the extra appropriation is to cover that. Item 13 relates to hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment. This item covers payment for hire of aircraft and other vehicles, particularly hire of aircraft for survey mapping purposes. It excludes hire of motor transport for movement to and from camps, which is a charge to item 01, Division No. 703. Owing to a more extensive programme for survey operations in 1964-65, it will be necessary to charter additional civil aircraft, which will increase expenditure on survey activities under this item. Expenditure on hire of aircraft and ships for major training exercises will rise substantially in 1964-65. duc to a greater range and diversity of training activities.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Defence
Proposed expenditure, £5,279,000.
– I refer to Division No. 645, subdivision 2, item 05, Advertising. Is the amount of £750,000 to be spent on advertising for recruits? I notice that last year £600,000 was appropriated under this heading. I should like to know the result of that advertising campaign. How many recruits were obtained? I should also like to know the authority responsible for spending this £750,000. Is the money to be spent through the Commonwealth Loans Organisation which is the authority that undertakes advertising in relation to Commonwealth loans? It is an authority which has survived the war period. I notice that that body has been allocated the sum of £19,160. I desire to know whose job it is to draft the advertisements and distribute them and who decides how much space should be used in newspapers and how much time on television or radio. Does the authority responsible decide in what areas the money is to be spent in an effort to obtain recruits? Is expert opinion available on where the money is best spent? If there is full employment in one place and employment is not so plentiful in another place, would the Department decide not to advertise in the place of full employment, where it would not be likely to be very successful? I should like to know whether the amount of £750,000 is distributed amongst commercial advertising agencies who act for the Department.
I shall refer to some of the advertisements for recruits that I have noticed. I do not wish to criticise their contents. These advertisements appeal particularly to boys of 17 and say: “Get your adult wage at 17 “. I suppose that is all right, but it would be interesting to know whether that straight out commercial appeal to boys is successful. Those advertisements have been appearing for about 12 months and it should be possible to say whether they have appealed to boys of 17, of school leaving age, to go straight on to a man’s wage. Some people may have doubts about whether that proposition is politically moral and whether, in the long run, it is good for the boys. If such advertisements are not attracting recruits, their appeal is falling on deaf ears. If the sum of £750,000 is cut up amongst advertising agencies, I should like the Minister to tell the Senate whether its expenditure is subject to supervision. Is there a council of agencies?
During the war an expert advertising committee was formed to advise the government of the day. I think a committee could be formed today to advise the Government on how to spend its money on a recruiting campaign. It is possible that there is duplication and waste of which the Minister is unaware. I know of men in the advertising world who would be prepared to assist the Government. At a recent conference in Melbourne one of the speakers - a top advertising man from Sydney - suggested that the Government should co-opt advertising men to discuss with Government officials the extension of trade in Asia. That sort of assistance is available to the Government. A committee of that type functioned effectively during the war and perhaps the Minister could give some thought to such an approach to the subject of recruitment.
– I wish to support the remarks of Senator Ormonde in relation to Division No. 645. However, Senator Ormonde referred to portion only of that Division. The total appropriation for Division No. 645 is £848,900, which exceeds the expenditure on this Division for 1963-64 by about £160,000. Senator Ormonde asked what was the result of last year’s recruiting campaign. I am interested to hear the answer to that question, because I have been informed - I do not know whether it is true - that it has been costing the Government £200 in advertising for each recruit to the Army. If that is so, obviously the matter requires examination to see whether a more effective method of recruitment can be used. It does not seem that we are getting the best results for the money expended. Why are lads not volunteering for service with the Army?
I wish to refer now to Division No. 656 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings. I do not expect the Minister to be able to tell the Senate on which sites and buildings the appropriation of £13,000 is to be spent, but I would appreciate it if he could state whether any of this money is to be spent in South Australia.
– The question of advertising for recruits is very important. I am sure that my friend, Senator Ormonde, will agree that advertising falls into the category of inexact sciences. As has been noted, there is an appropriation of £750,000 for advertising for recruits during 1964-65. I assure the Senate that we do not undertake this expenditure in an unscientific or non-technical way. We have a council of experts to advise us and prominent on that council are representatives of the Commonwealth advertising service. I cannot for the moment think of the name of the service. We have our own Commonwealth experts and we also call in experts from outside the Commonwealth Service.
I appreciate what Senator Ormonde has said, because I frequently look at recruiting advertisements and ask myself: Is this the best way to attract recruits? Is this the most appealing advertising that we could insert in the newspapers, on television, or through whatever the medium might be? I must confess that when I go into this question I am always knocked back onto my heels and I am forced to accept that I am not a specialist in this field. I acknowledge that Senator Ormonde is more of a specialist in this field than I am, but perhaps he also will acknowledge that advertising is something for the experts. I think Senator Ormonde is asking whether the expenditure of £750,000 is to be supervised to the extent that I can say to the Senate: “ Yes, we think we are spending it to the best possible advantage “. If that is Senator Ormonde’s question, I can assure him that is so. However, that does not remove some of my own misgivings, nor will it remove some of Senator Ormonde’s doubts. It is the best that can be done in what I have described as an inexact science. What I have said answers in a general way one of the questions posed by Senator Cavanagh. Senator Cavanagh also referred to the acquisition of sites and buildings - Division No. 656. I can tell the Senate that the appropriation of £13,000 is in respect of the North West Cape project and none of it is to be spend in South Australia.
.- - I was interested in the references by Senator Ormonde and Senator Cavanagh to the vote we are asked to approve in respect of advertising for recruits to the Services. I have looked with an all too jaundiced eye upon the types of advertisement that are intended to appeal to young Australians of spirit who are asked to recruit for the defence of the country. It seems to me that the advertising is designed for nothing other than the filling of shovels of routine advertising expenditure of the most dispiriting kind. I listened to the Minister say that it is supervised by a committee of experts. I ask: What kind of experts and with whom do they consult? I derive inspiration from the fact that the Minister obviously has shown that he too has experienced disquiet in regard to this vote. He must accept the advice of experts in this field. When I look at the type of advertisements which fill the columns of metropolitan daily newspapers I shudder to think that we are to persevere with expenditure on such an activity. I make that comment by way of preliminary observation, to express my disquiet and also to express appreciation of the obvious concern that the Minister has shown with regard to the utility of the vote.
I rose chiefly to direct the Minister’s attention to Division No. 652 which refers to defence aid for Malaysia. Last year the expenditure was £71,953. This year the appropriation is £2,067,000. The unique increase in the vote brings the matter of defence aid for Malaysia within the focus of this Committee. After long and wearying years of disagreement concerning the internal policies of political parties in Australia, stemming back to 1954, in this year of 1964 we can recall that the Menzies Government has maintained a forthright attitude towards South East Asia, on the premise that the Malayan peninsula is the Australian front line of defence. It is I think, a matter of some satisfaction so far as the moulding of defence policy is concerned, that both major political parties in Australia are now tending to coalesce in the idea that we must with unity maintain a defence force in the area of Malaysia as our first line of defence.
In Britain, the Conservative Government, which was hounded by the public expressions of Sukarno to the effect that it was endeavouring to maintain what was described as a colonial cloud over the Malayan peninsula, has been displaced by the Wilson Socialist Government. It is proper that we in the Australian Senate should note that, so far as we have been able to understand the cables and public announcements, there is in Great Britain a forthright unity which is typical of the British spirit when defence matters are concerned. That spirit stems perhaps from the insular position of the British nation. The Wilson Socialist Government has announced unequivocal support of Malaysia, a freely constituted federation of colonies recently relinquished from British rule. The unity of expression of these countries has been endorsed, after an inquiry, by the United Nations.
I hope that the Minister for Defence, who is in charge of the estimates we are discussing, will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand from announcements that have been made that the Wilson Government has expressed unequivocal support for Malysia, as did its predecessor.
– Order! The honorable senator is getting a little away from the estimates.
– I am not getting away from them.
– In my opinion the honorable senator is doing so.
– I am submitting an individual point of view to the Committee.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to return to the estimates under discussion. He has been discussing the British Government and its attitude to Malaysia, a subject matter which is not covered by the estimates before the Committee at the present time.
- Mr. Chairman, I shall never admit to a countrified attitude which can take into account the nature of public opinion in Australia concerning national security without having regard to the great guidance that we should get from a British Government elected by British people whose very heart and soul is freedom.
The CHAIRMAN__ Order! I again ask the honorable senator to return to the estimates before the Committee.
– I am going to develop this subject, and if the Committee does not support me I shall go outside the chamber for the time being.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to obey the Chair and to deal with the estimates.
– I shall stick to the item under discussion, within the proper ambit of that item. 1 am discussing a matter which is concerned with tremendous risks for this nation and which may have a most important impact on our immediate national security. I am asked, Mr. Chairman, to join in voting to the Government this year more than £2 million for defence aid for Malaysia, as against expenditure of £71,953 last year. I wish to take advantage of this occasion to urge with zeal support for the increase in the vote. The need for the increase is supported not only by the judgment of the Australian Government but also by that of the Government of Great Britain. There is not one honorable senator who would disregard the judgment of cither the Wilson Government or its predecessor, the Home Government, on the need to support the freely federated States of Malaysia, first, as an indication of the importance of democracy, and secondly, as an indication that Malaysia represents the front line of defence of this continent against the South East Asian Communist advance. Such an indication has been given all too infrequently and all too insignificantly in the past. The need for it has not always been understood by the people of Great Britain, because we are very small fry in their eyes and they command such infinite respect in ours.
It is important to have the endorsement of the Wilson Government of the strong stand that the Australian Government has felt bound to take with confidence during the last two years. The Australian Government has said that it will regard Malaysia as the front line of Australia’s defences. I pray you, Mr. Chairman, to understand the earnestness with which I ask the Committee to realise the importance of the endorsement which this Government recently has received, as I understand it, from the Wilson Government. That is why I feel justified in supporting this Government’s greatly expanded vote for defence aid for Malaysia. In conclusion, I trust that the Minister for Defence, during the debate on the Defence estimates, will indicate to the Committee the substantial components of the increased vote so that we may know of the particular activities to which the expenditure will be directed.
Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [I0.9J. - In reference to Senator Wright’s comments concerning the advertising campaign to attract recruits, may I say that while he criticises very sincerely the kind of advertising that is adopted in regard to recruitment for the Services, I personally watch this matter very closely. I am not an expert on this subject; I am advised by experts. Over the last twelve or eighteen months the advertising has shown a vast improvement. It is directed to young men - to sound their adventurous spirits, and to invite them to participate in the defence of this country in one of the three Services. I have in mind for instance the advertisements that feature the growth of the Navy, that feature the new units which are coming and which will increasingly come into commission, and that emphasise to young men who might be inclined to adopt a naval career the opportunities that exist for them in that Service. The same can be said about the Royal Australian Air Force and the Army.
I point out that, if there are 60 persons in this chamber, then there will be 60 opinions about the depth and scope of the appeal of a particular advertisement. I regard this matter so seriously that I invite each honorable senator to give me his ideas about how recruiting advertisements can be improved. This is an inexact science. Although that statement may not appeal to those people who regard themselves as being advertising specialists, I say that one steps out of the light and into the darkness when one embarks upon an advertising campaign. Having my own misgivings about the efficacy of our advertising and our methods of recruiting, I am quite sincere when I say that if any honorable senator thinks he can add something to the effectiveness of our recruiting campaign, then anything he submits to mc will be closely and carefully examined. As has been said tonight by Senator Cavanagh and
Senator Ormonde, we are spending £750,000 in hard, cold cash on this enterprise and we want to get the most for it. I do not suppose any honorable senator would regard himself as being an advertising expert, but from all 60 of us there might come a number of ideas which could be harnessed by the advertising experts to produce a better result. 1 cordially extend that invitation to honorable senators.
Senator Wright has referred to the quite striking increase in expenditure under Division No. 652 - Defence Aid for Malaysia. Expenditure will rise from £71,953 last year to more than £2 million this year because the Government has agreed to provide defence assistance including the supply of equipment and stores - I ask the honorable senator not to press me for a break-up of this item - and training to a value of £3 million over a two year period. That is a striking increase. It is an indication in terms of pounds, shillings and pence of what 11 million Australian people are prepared to do in one sphere for the defence of Malaysia. We are doing other things. I regret that frequently attempts are made to derogate the value of those other things that we are doing. It is frequently forgotten that in the past ten years 1 1 million Australian people have provided forces to help to ensure that Malaysia’s integrity shall be maintained, first, against Communist terrorists and, more recently, against the aggressor from without. In recent years what we have provided in the form of land forces has been greatly augmented by what we have provided in the form of aerial support.
– And by naval assistance.
– And by naval assistance, as I have been reminded. I would not have forgotten that fact. I suggest that any Australian who happens to visit the Kra Peninsula, Butterworth and Terendak will feel a glow of pride as he sees Australian forces which have been placed there for the purpose of protecting a sister democracy of the Commonwealth, first, against Communist subversion from within and, secondly, against attack from outside. It is of considerable comfort and satisfaction to the Australian Government and the people of Australia to know that the policies which have been constantly pursued by a Conservative Government in Britain for some years are, on the word of the present Prime Minister of Britain, to be pursued by the new Labour Administration in that country. Australia will continue constantly to support the independence and integrity of Malaysia as she has done over the last ten years.
– I wish to make some further comments about the recruiting campaign. I was very impressed by the Minister’s invitation to all honorable senators to offer suggestions for the improvement of the Department’s advertising. I do not know whether any of us could contribute anything that would help the Department, because I should think that it is employing advertising experts to prepare the material that is being used. If the Department’s advertising is in the hands of experts - we must accept the statement that it has sought the best possible assistance - it may well be that something else is wrong with the campaign that is being conducted to attract more personnel to the Forces.
I am not speaking unkindly when I say that there have been some increases in pay but that obviously they have not had the desired effect. I do not ask the Minister to admit that there is anything wrong with the Forces, but I do ask him whether he will go so far as to say that there may be something wrong or that something needs to be done to make the Services attractive to eligible personnel. Rather than looking only into the question of advertising, could we have some sort of inquiry by a committee to see how the Services can be made attractive? If they were sufficiently attractive they would advertise themselves and there would not be any necessity for other advertising.
We have heard tonight a condemnation of the clothing issued in one arm of the Services. Whether this is right or wrong I do not know, but it is the kind of thing into which some investigation should be made because it could deter young people from entering the Services, particularly in view of the attractions of outside employment. Advertising alone is useless unless the Services are made more attractive. We must take for granted that the present advertising campaign for the Services is of the highest order. The fact that it is not bringing in sufficient recruits indicates to me that we should look somewhere else for the answer.
– I am encouraged by Senator Paltridge’s invitation and also by the arguments advanced by Senator Cavanagh. I think that advertising should be left to the experts, but I suggest to the Minister that he has a vast body of people whom he can use in an unpaid capacity to advertise the Services. I refer to the people whom he has already recruited. But they are not doing that job for him at present. As I see it, the Minister for Defence controls a vast industrial organisation, without having the worries associated with wages and conditions that confront an outside industrial concern. The Minister is responsible for the working conditions of his men and he must try to keep them happy. He has to adopt the relationship that normally exists between employer and employee. But he has more than an ordinary industrial concern because he has to concern himself wilh feeding, clothing and accommodation.
Quite unconsciously a degree of dishonesty appears to have crept into the advertising for the Services. One often reads that a recruit has a choice of some 300 jobs. No doubt we all have tried to help sons of friends and constituents who have approached us about recruiting. When we make inquiries we often find that the advertising is not completely honest and that ali sorts of conditions precedent must be fulfilled before recruits can progress to the job of their choice.
In addition, when they come out of training camps they do not have a completely free choice. Perhaps the exigencies of the Service make that impossible. If that is so, the advertising should not be so misleading in the first instance. It should be a little less glowing and a little more honest. No doubt this accidental dishonesty has crept in because so many advertising people have been involved. Probably nobody has had the specific job of ensuring that the advertising is more conservative. It is not much good getting people into the Services if they are to become disgruntled and spread the bad word rather than the good word.
I was encouraged when the Minister said that he has taken a personal interest in the advertising campaign. I do not point the bone at anyone, but the Services comprise people who have to do as they are told; people who cannot walk off the job; people who are pretty well disciplined; people who arc in uniform and who have signed up for a period. In those circumstances there is inclined to be harshness that would not enter into normal industrial relationships. When I mention this aspect to people I am generally greeted with the horse laugh and told: “ Oh well, it is the Army. After all, that is Service life “. True as that might be in wartime, I do not think it should apply in peacetime. In our enlightened age I do not think we are toughening people if the nutritional quality of their food is not what it should be and if the uniforms - I do not comment on this aspect particularly - are not up to scratch.
Consider the young people in Australia who have been killed in the course of physical training. I could refer to many instances. With the knowledge that we have today, there should almost never bc even a strained muscle when bringing people to physical fitness. There is not the extreme urgency these days of an immediate fighting war and it should be possible to bring recruits up to the peak of physical fitness without injury and certainly without loss of life. There is no excuse for poor washing facilities, poor showers and that kind of thing. There is no excuse for poor food. There is no excuse for the incorrect handling of men in the physical sense. Over the last few years I have been shocked to find that men have been killed in this toughening up process. You do not toughen mer by killing them. With the knowledge that we have today of physical fitness and athletics there is no excuse for any injury, let alone death.
I feel very strongly about this. The Minister represents the civilian side of the Australian nation and for that reason he should take a very active interest in what goes on. This subject is so highly political that the debate on the last three proposed votes has hinged almost entirely on recruiting. We are all seized with the importance of this. We approach this question in a much more united way than many people imagine. As the Minister has admitted, there has not been a change of policy simply because there has been a change of government in Great Britain. This indicates that a fair amount of poppycock is talked about the subject from time to time.
If the Government, through the Minister, held a civilian watching brief and exercised continual surveillance over the Services, if lt took an active interest in the members of the Services and made them feel that they had not been forgotten, I think that within a very short time more would be done for recruitment than all the advertising has achieved so far.
– I am very interested in, and very encouraged by, the contributions which have been made in the last few minutes by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Willesee. Senator Cavanagh posed the question - I quote it merely in the broadest terms - that recruitment depends not only on advertising but on something wider than that. He asked me: “ What is wrong in the Services? Why are they not more attractive? “ To that I reply in passing that in a condition of full employment, such as we have in Australia today, and in a burgeoning economy, the Services stand in competition with industry for recruits. Industry today can and does offer the Australian youth the type of opportunity and career job which seldom, if ever, has been open to him previously. In the past, industry has had only occasional opportunities to offer. In a general way, the Services face up to that problem and recognise it as far as they can. Speaking for the Government in June last, I announced certain improvements in pay and conditions which were designed to indicate to the young men of Australia that here was a career which, in terms of conditions of pay and employment, could stand comparison with industry. I do not want to go over that. It is all set out in the statement which I made on 18th June last. To the extent of my ability, it was in terms which showed the young men of Australia that the Army was not just a job in which they went on bivouacs, slept on the ground and lived out of field kitchens, but was something worthwhile. When Senator Cavanagh says to me: “There is something wrong with the Services,” -
– I wanted the Minister to have a look.
– Yes, I realise this and I am coming to it. I say to him, as 1 said in an inviting spirit when I expressed myself earlier in respect of advertising: “ Tell me what is wrong “. I come to the contribution by Senator Willesee who gave somewhat specific point to the general proposition that Senator Cavanagh had put. Senator Willesee put to me that there should be an improvement in what he described as employer-employee relationship. Will he indicate how? I do not say this agressively. Will he himself go, or will he come with me to any Service establishment that he cares to choose, move around anonymously and unidentified, and indicate to me the deficiencies in employer-employee relationship? I am comparatively new in this job. I should like Senator Willesee to know that I am just as interested in this aspect of it as he is. I have tried to do this. If he can assist me, if he can indicate any area in which there can be an improvement, I shall be genuinely grateful.
In the Australian Services in recent years there has been a continuing drive to build up among the men - the ratings and the privates - an appreciation of their own importance in the Services. If this is falling down - I acknowledge that it may not be important - I shall be grateful if any member of the Senate will indicate to me in practical terms where it is falling down. Occasionally, things flow across my table which indicate an attitude by an officer or a command which is possibly harsh. I assure the Committee that I look very closely at these things. Senator Willesee went on to say that one should look at such matters as the nutritional quality of the food provided to the Services. Yes, let us do just that, because in this area over the past 10 years the Services have directed their efforts particularly to bringing to the highest pitch conditions of diet for the troops. It is a fact that when they go out on exercise or on bivouac - as every old soldier knows - they probably live out of camp kitchens or, worse, prepare their own food and eat it out of dixies. Of course, they do. But I should be very doubtful indeed that, when they are in a standing camp, in terms of nutritional value a better meal is served in Australia than is served to Australian servicemen. I assure Senator Willesee that in terms of nutritional value it stands comparison with the meals for which he pays in our dining room here.
I do not say this in any dogmatic way. If the cabbage is too watery - that is a complaint that servicemen throughout my lifetime have always had - and if, when 20 reinforcements come into a camp late at night, the Irish stew becomes Devonshire pudding, of course there is discontent. But in terms of nutritional value, I say to anyone: Please tell me where the diet falls down, because it is not the intention of any of the Services not to do the right thing by servicemen in this respect. The position is the same with clothing and with uniforms. Senator Willesee mentioned this. It is the subject of a whole field of research. How is a soldier made comfortable in camp and in the field? The Services send out teams of experts to live in the most trying conditions, so that they can produce for the active service soldier the best living conditions that can be made available to him in those circumstances. The experts cannot produce all of the answers. I acknowledge that. But if we all want to make the Services better and happier Services, let us have all the ideas. 1 shall be only too prepared to listen to them and every Minister responsible for a Service will do the same.
– I was very interested in the Minister’s statement and I welcome the opportunity he has offered senators to suggest where improvements might be made in the Services. He went a lot further in reply to Senator Willesee by suggesting that Senator Willesee could tour the camps anonymously if he so desired for the purpose of receiving any complaints, and that he could report back to the Minister. From here, I think, we may get somewhere as to the attraction of outside employment. Despite what the Minister has said, young mcn are not being attracted to the Services at present. We have in the Services wages and conditions that compare with those in outside industry. There should be an inquiry to determine what is wrong and whether there is any way in which the position may be improved. The Minister has replied that if wc know of any way to improve matters we should tell him. Obviously, I do not know of any way. I am not an expert on these matters. I mentioned a complaint about clothing today. I do not know whether there is any justification for the complaint, but it should be examined. The question is whether we are getting the real complaints of the men through the machinery of the forces to the Minister.
The invitation extended to Senator Willesee was a good one. I take it that ho meant that Senator Willesee should visit the various establishments anonymously and hear the complaints of the men. But Senator Willesee cannot travel anonymously. He has to get permission to be shown around the camps. I do not know whether Senator Willesee would wish to travel around and hear complaints. The Minister has said, in effect: “ If the Opposition can help to discover why men are not attracted to the Services, let us join hands “. I have said that there may be something wrong but we are not experts.
Perhaps the Minister’s invitation to Senator Willesee could be extended to the formation of a joint committee of members of Parliament who could inspect the camps, talk with servicemen and report to the Minister whether there is something wrong with the Army. At least this would be an attempt to ascertain whether there is any ground for the complaints or whether any improvements can be effected. An open invitation to one member of Parliament would not achieve anything because the member concerned might not be able to fulfil the conditions or wish to fulfil them. I ask the Minister for Defence to consider widening the invitation he gave to Senator Willesee and appointing a committee to investigate Service conditions.
– What I tried to do earlier was to accept the invitation of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) and establish in broad principle the kind of complaints that I thought might be within his power to correct. I spoke about the sort of things I felt he could investigate. The one suggestion of mine to which he did not refer was that he as the civilian arm of the organisation should keep the civilian pipeline to the defence forces under constant surveillance. I thank him for the confidence he places in me in inviting me to investigate these matters personally. I did not understand, as Senator Cavanagh suggested, that the invitation was restricted to me. Nevertheless, I suggest that it would bc far better if the Minister set up a permanent organisation for this purpose within his Department. That was the sort of suggestion I thought he was seeking and that was the suggestion I made.
I drew broad outlines of the type of matters that I thought the Minister could look at and I am sure that when he and his advisers put their minds to this matter, they will find that there are many other things to which the Minister can apply himself. 1 instanced particularly certain matters on the physical side because I have been shocked by happenings, not only in the forces but outside as well. I believe that somebody has only to apply his mind to these matters to correct them. I do not reject what the Minister has said. Broadly he has invited us to bring forward any matters of which we have knowledge and he has said that he will listen to us. If we have a Minister who will listen to complaints and suggestions we are getting somewhere.
I suggest to the Minister that he listen now to the suggestion made by Senator Cavanagh that this might be a job for an all party committee. If such a committee were appointed, it might add to the wonderful record of work that has been done by other committees of the Senate in many fields. My suggestion, on which I feel strongly, is that the Minister keep a constant check on human relationships in the forces through the civilian side of Government administration. This is within the Minister’s power if he has the will to do it. It cannot produce anything but good, and I suggest that the Minister has everything to gain and nothing to lose.
– I do not want to leave the very interesting suggestion made by Senator Cavanagh suspended, like Mahomet’s coffin, between heaven and earth. I have indicated already that within the Services themselves there are and will continue to be organisation which themselves go around and do the jobs which both Senators Cavanagh and Willesee regard as desirable.
Senator Cavanagh suggested that there should be an all party committee to investigate these matters. I say at once that I am not too favorably impressed by this idea, but if any member of this Senate or of the House of Representatives is, individually or with others, interested enough to have a look at any aspect of the Services and tell me about it, I will facilitate his having a look at that Service. Let me not labour the point; but because Senator Cavanagh has mentioned this matter, I think it not inappropriate to remind the committee that recently there was a large Army exercise known as “ Long Shot “. The opportunity was made available to all members of the Parliament to have a look at “ Long Shot “. I regret to say that while a number of supporters of the Government had a look at it, only one Labour member of the Parliament availed himself of the opportunity. If Senator Cavanagh’s statement tonight indicates a resurgence of interest, let him come to me and say: “ I and my colleagues of the Opposition are interested to have a look at some aspects of the Services “. I shall be interested to hear from him and I will facilitate any inspection he likes to make.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £1,482,000.
.- I refer to Division No. 101, the Senate, sub-division 2, item 05, “Incidental and other expenditure, £2,300 “. This is a very small sum in comparison with the many millions of pounds involved in other items of proposed expenditure that the Committee has been discussing tonight. I understand that the President of the Senate administers this expenditure. One has only to look at this item to understand what it covers. For example, we receive three copies of newspapers. I understand that when the Parliament was first established in Canberra many years ago the practice was commenced of delivering newspapers to senators and members of the House of Representatives, and that that practice has continued up to the present time. Transport facilities have improved considerably since Parliament House was opened many years ago and it is now possible for Senators to obtain, at the hotels where they stay, copies of Sydney newspapers as early as 7 a.m. There are also available two daily newspapers published in Canberra. Four daily newspapers are available by 7 a.m. in the hotels at which senators and members stay. Senators have funds of their own and are able to pay for these newspapers. When they arrive at Parliament House they find that Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra newspapers are available free. 1 co not think it is necessary for this practice to continue. Quite recently members on this side of the chamber discussed this matter for a certain reason. We believe that there should be no more free issues of newspapers and we wish the Government to discontinue the practice not, perhaps, this week but after the Parliament rises for the year. If a member of Parliament wants a newspaper, let him pay for it. We do not want the pensioners or the battlers in the community to pay taxes in order to provide members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate with free newspapers. We are in the position to buy our own newspapers and we bring them with us. I ask the Minister to give consideration to this request. 1 wish to refer to another matter. I have a document here headed “ Parliamentary Allowances. Commonwealth of Australia. Advice of payment.” It is necessary for me to connect what I am about to say with the estimates which we arc considering. I would say that this matter comes under the administration of the President of the Senate. The document would need to be submitted by the Treasury to the Senate to be distributed to honorable senators. This is really a statement that is submitted to senators to show the details of their salary, or of their wages if you wish to call them that. There is a space for the honorable senator’s name, a space for the month ended, and then there is a heading “ Parliamentary Allowances “. That is followed by a heading which was referred to by Mr. Justice Nicholas when he investigated the allowances and payments to senators and members of the House of Representatives some years ago. It is “ Electoral Allowance “. The document then shows the deductions of honorable senators, and finally the net payment.
Can a senator who goes to live in a State 700 miles away from the one for which he was elected, be paid an electoral allowance? The allowance is fairly substantial. It is £800 for a senator. I do not see how any honorable senator can be entitled to this allowance if he is not living in his electorate. If he is living 700 miles away from his electorate he is certainly not entitled to any electoral allowance. I realise I have to support that submission and I do so by referring to allowances prescribed in industrial awards. There are such allowances operating. Senator Cavanagh could tell us about an allowance that is paid to employees working in obnoxious fumes.
– Honorable senators are not doing that.
– No. But it has been held that for an employee to be entitled to the allowance for working in obnoxious fumes he must be working in fumes which are, in fact, obnoxious. Then there is another allowance - and Senator Cavanagh would be an authority on this - for employees working in confined spaces. There are many places in which employees can work, but unless those places are positively confined the employees are not entitled to the allowance. I submit that no honorable senator who lives outside his electorate permanently is entitled -
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but I am at a loss to discover - unless he indicates it to me - just how the matter he is discussing can be connected with the subject under debate.
– I thought that I made that clear. I know that we are not dealing with the appropriation which covers the payment of salaries or allowances of members of Parliament, but I said that the document - I am not sure of this - was prepared in the Treasury and then submitted to the Senate. It is handled by officers of the Senate.
– It deals with a payment to a senator or what could be described as a senatorial allowance. I do not think it has anything to do with the estimates being discussed. I ask for a ruling, Madam Temporary Chairman.
– I am not referring to the item I was discussing when I first rose to speak.
– Under which division does the honorable senator consider the matter comes?
– I would say that it comes under Division No. 101, subdivision 1, item 01, Salaries and allowances as per Schedule, page 146.
– They are the salaries and allowances of officers of the Senate. the TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. -
The matter does not come under that item.
– I am referring to the work that is carried out by officers of the Senate who come under the administration of the President.
– They are officers of the Senate?
– That has nothing to tlo with senators.
– They are doing work related to senators.
The matter does not relate to Division No. 101, subdivision 1, item 01.
– I submit to your ruling, Madam Temporary Chairman.
.- I wish to refer to Division No. 113 - Maintenance of Ministers’ and Members’ Rooms. The other night in the Senate I referred, during discussion on the estimates for the Department of Supply, to the amount of rent that is paid by the Federal Government in respect of various accommodation. Tonight I take leave to suggest, from a little local knowledge, that economy might be effected in regard to the expenditure in respect of Division No. 113. It seems to me that the Department which has the responsibility for maintaining the rooms of Ministers, senators and members of the House of Representatives is under an obligation to review the situation from time to time to determine the accommodation needed by members of the Parliament in order to discharge their duties.
I ask the Minister to take note of this request because I believe that out of consideration for Ministers, senators and members of the House of Representatives, it is assumed that a continuation of accommodation is necessary from year to year. Naturally, each member of Parliament should have respect paid to any implied or expressed judgment he has in relation to the necessity for retaining accommodation and rooms, but there should bc proper recognition of the independence of judgment to which a member is entitled. I bring to the notice of the Minister what in my view, from a little local experience, is the need for a periodical reassessment of the situation - perhaps once every three years - to see that the accommodation provided is not in surplus to the actual requirements for Parliamentary duties. I do not wish to be drawn into a detailed and invidious account of particular items at the moment, but wish simply to offer my suggestion.
– When the honorable senator alludes to local knowledge he puts every Tasmanian member under a cloud.
Senator WRIGHT__ Senator Marriott’s apprehension is not well founded. I leave it in the delicate terms in which I assayed my contribution.
– After listening to what Senator Wright has had to say I must confess that the delicacy of the manner in which he has made his suggestion leaves me a little uncertain as to his meaning. However, having raised the point, no doubt if I give him the opportunity to discuss the matter outside the chamber, that might meet his intention of not particularising.
Senator Benn referred to the supply of newspapers. The expenditure on this item is £400 a year. In my view the provision of newspapers in my party room is an amenity which I very much welcome. It is true that I am supplied with newspapers at my hotel, the same as other senators are supplied, but it is equally true that most honorable senators going about their business in the House frequently feel a pressing need to refer to something they have seen earlier in the day or something to which their attention subsequently has been directed. I have regarded the provision of newspapers as a very ordinary sort of amenity which ought to continue in a place like this.
– If it were stopped it would inhibit the asking of questions.
– Yes. That would be a great advantage. Senator
Willesee encourages me to support very strongly what Senator Benn has put. In fairness, I must say that if there is any real feeling among members of the Opposition that this is a waste of money, we will have a look at it. I would require to be convinced on this point.
– I wish to be particularly brief in adding one point to a plea I have made in other years in respect of the administration of the Senate. The Minister might not mind listening to my plea that in some ways we should modernise the conduct of the Senate. Very few honorable senators know much about the Standing Orders. It has always seemed strange to me that 450 Standing Orders are required to govern debate among 60 senators. It seems to me that there are far too many Standing Orders and that they are completely out of date. The meaning of many of them is obscure. Senator Henty is smiling, but I think that he would probably agree with me if he were to speak on this subject.
Standing Order No. 377 allows the President the privilege of admitting strangers into the area of the chamber below the bar. Honorable senators should not get the wrong impression of the word “ bar “. I understand that it is the bar that runs around the chamber. The meaning of this Standing Order is obscure; but the explanation is that it was written to apply to the Parliament House in Melbourne. I suggest that after the passing of 37 years since we moved to Canberra it is time that we started to examine the Standing Orders. Another Standing Order states members of the House of Representatives, without the President’s permission, can enter the chamber and sit below the bar. I wonder what would happen if some of our friends from the House of Representatives disported themselves in this chamber. There are dozens of other Standing Orders that obviously require amendment. I have mentioned them on other occasions.
Another aspect of procedure in this chamber that appears strange to me is our method of dividing. We have a very narrow passage to negotiate and it is made particularly difficult for one of my build when I encounter the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who is very well built. I get the worst of the encounter. Is it not time that we examined a system of electronic voting as a more expedient method? I am not against tradition, but I think from time to time there should be a modernisation of methods. I merely suggest to the Minister tonight that he might again listen to my plea in relation to the Standing Orders, and that some provision might be made in the Estimates next year to modernise procedure in this chamber. I am sure that such changes would do much to improve debating standards in the Senate. Methods of electronic voting should also be examined. We have already been warned by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the Parliament must get bigger in the future. We certainly have to face up to this problem because it is pretty obvious that the present facilities are not adequate for an enlarged Parliament.
– I express regret that my bulk may have caused inconvenience to other honorable senators during divisions. I have noted Senator Willesee’s comments. The matters that be has raised should go to the Standing Orders Committee. I do not doubt that the members of that Committee will note the honorable senator’s remarks and discuss the suggestions he has made. I have seen, in the new Parliament House at Kuala Lumpur and also in the Senate chamber of the not so new Parliament House at Teheran, electronic voting devices such as those to which the honorable senators referred. I must say - again having regard to >my bulk - that the system offers considerable attraction to me. However, the matter should be considered initially by the Standing Orders Committee.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be sus pended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I seek information concerning the procedure that is to be adopted: If the motion before the Senate is simply the usual formal motion to allow the Bill to be accompanied by a second reading speech I offer no objection. If it is intended to proceed with the Bill through all its stages at this hour of the night I shall offer the utmost objection. I do not deem it necessary to advance any views with regard to that matter. I simply seek information for the purpose of enabling me to determine my attitude to the motion.
-It is the intention merely to present the Bills and to read a second reading speech, after which the Leader of the Opposition will, I imagine, seek the adjournment of the debate.
– Yes, I shall do that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators may recall that in April 1959, when the Government introduced legislation dealing with Ministers of State, parliamentary allowances and parliamentary retiring allowances, it indicated its view that these matters should be dealt with every three years at the beginning of each Parliament and that the decision should endure, except for some quite phenomenal or catastrophic circumstances, for the whole of the period of three years. These, of course, are matters for Parliament since, under section 48 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, alterations in the emoluments of members of the Parliament must be made by the Parliament itself. The Government did not, in the event, bring down any proposals at the beginning of the 24th Parliament, that is, the early part of 1962, or at any time in the life of that Parliament. It is now, therefore, more than five years since the last review.
Having regard to the great changes which have occurred during this period in the rates of earning outside Parliament, and the increasing pressure of parliamentary business, the Government has decided that a review of emoluments should not be further delayed, but should be made now in respect of the 25th Parliament and to take effect from 1st November 1964. As regards parliamentary retiring allowances, I shall say something in detail a little later on. At presentI limit myself to the observation that steps to amend the benefits upwards are due, and in reality overdue. The increased pension benefits proposed will, as I shall indicate later, require increased contributions on the part of senators. In relation to increases in salaries and allowances, the Government is again convinced that the adjustments proposed are due, and even overdue. Circumstances are, of course, never really propitious for dealing with parliamentary salaries and allowances. Certainly some people are always found to say: “ Now is not the time “. No doubt on this occasion, as in the past, that will be said. But to understand the Government’s decision, it is only necessary to understand the facts pertaining to salary incomes. Recently the Leader of the Opposition in another place asked the Prime Minister if he would make available to the Parliament certain information and comparisons in the parliamentary pension and salary field and in certain related areas of salary, for instance, in the Public Service. Mr. Calwell added: “ Most importantly, will his Government take suitable action to adjust parliamentary and electorate allowances in such appropriate fashion and at such time as it deems desirable in the light of movements in the directions that 1 have just instanced? “
As honorable senators know, material has been tabled in response to the request of the Leader of the Opposition. This material shows what may be called a cycle of increases in salary incomes since the 1959 adjustment of parliamentary salaries and allowances. The salaries and allowances of members of State Parliaments, which were increased following the Commonwealth adjustment of March 1959 have, with the exception of Victoria, been increased again by substantial amounts in 1963 or 1964. A very significant comparison may be made with the position of members of the Legislative Assembly in the State Parliament of New South Wales. Their salary is £2,650. Members of the National Parliament, a Parliament which has to deal with the greatest national and international problems and with a vast complex of social, economic and financial responsibilities, now receive £2,750. The State electoral allowances range from £650 to £1,050. Commonwealth allowances range from £850 to £1,050. Clearly, this state of affairs ought not to continue. Only this Parliament can change it.
Both this year and last year there have been large increases in Public Service salaries - in the professional grades and the administrative grades - and, I may add, as a result of arbitration. As I shall be indicating a little later on, there are now to be, on the decision of the Government, necessary adjustments in the salaries of the First Division of the Public Service, that is to say of the Permanent Heads of departments and also of statutory officers and related officers. The Government has necessarily had regard to these developments, and it believes that thoughtful and reasonable people will, on the evidence, be ready to accept that increases are now justified.
We have considered whether, even though the salary adjustments are more than due, we ought to defer them still longer. We have concluded that we should not. In the first place, we are firm in our view that the adjustments are warranted. In the second place, they are adjustments which come at the end of a cycle of adjustments and not at the beginning. As politicians, we are well aware of the fact that increases in the provision for Federal members are always attacked, and that a Senate election is in front of us. Nevertheless, we are convinced that honest dealing with the electors requires that they should know right away what our proposals are. We believe that they will appreciate the propriety of this course, and that on proper consideration they will see the fairness of the changes that are being made.
On some previous occasions, a review has been approached by first having an independent committee to inquire and report to the Government. We had the Nicholas com mittee in 1951. In 1955 and 1959 we had a committee of inquiry under the chairmanship df Sir Frank Richardson. This, however, has not been an invariable practice. On other occasions, the Government itself has brought proposals to Parliament without recourse to such a committee, and we have decided to do that on this occasion. We decided against a committee because what we are now proposing to the Senate is essentially an upgrading of the amounts applying under the existing arrangements for salaries, allowances and retiring allowances. It is not a review of the structure of the arrangements or of other parliamentary privileges.
Honorable senators will see that the salary of senators and members is to increase by £750 per annum to £3,500 per annum. As there are misapprehensions in some quarters, I would like to make it clear that senators’ salaries, like ministerial salaries, are taxable at the normal rates. Thus, the increase of £750 is subject to income tax - say £280 in an average case - and to an increased retiring allowance contribution of £143. This means that the net current cash gain to the senator is £327 per annum.
The supplementary salaries of Ministers and other office bearers have been increased broadly in parallel with this basic increase. In the case of senior Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition, the increases range from £1,000 per annum to £1,250 per annum. In the case of junior Ministers, the increase is £750 per annum. In general, the increases are of the order of 30 per cent, of the 1959 level. They are a little more in some cases and a little less in others.
The electorate allowances have been increased, by no means extravagantly, by £250 per annum. Special allowances have been increased by amounts varying for different offices. The increases range from £100 per annum in the case of Whips, to £250/300 per annum in the case of Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition in the House, and £500 per annum in the case of the Prime Minister. Electorate allowances are, of course, granted to cover expenses incurred by members and their wives in discharging their public responsibilities. These costs have increased significantly since 1959. The same can be said of the costs of discharging the duties of various parliamentary offices. The expenses which private citizens do not normally encounter are ones which, in turn, the special allowances are designed to cover. It is proposed, although this will be done administratively, to increase travelling allowances for senior Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition by £3 per day and for junior Ministers and senators and members by £2 per day.
The actual adjustments to salaries and allowances must, inevitably, be in some degree a matter of judgment. Obviously, the adjustments must have regard to adjustments which have already been made in other incomes. Incidentally, average earnings in Australia have risen 35 per cent. since early 1959. They must have regard to trends in expenses incurred by members and office bearers. We have considered the facts on both these points and the proposals now before the Senate have been devised having regard to the facts. We believe the basis arrived at is justified by the facts and is one which will sustain the quality and prestige of the National Parliament.
I turn now to senators’ and members’ retiring allowances, the amounts of which are no longer appropriate to the increased parliamentary salaries. In considering the standard of benefits, we concluded that senators should be entitled to contribute for a basic pension which, in ordinary circumstances, would be 50 per cent. of their salary on retirement. The 1959 legislation resulted in 30 per cent. of the cost of pensions being met from senators’ contributions to the fund. We have preserved this basis of financing in adopting the scale of contributions which the actuary has calculated for the benefits set out in this Bill. The contribution henceforth will be111/2 per cent. of salary, or, as I have said, £7 14s. per week on the proposed salary.
The scheme has now been in force since 1948 and, in the course of our review of the fund, the actuary reported that at 26th March 1963 there was a substantial surplus in the fund, then amounting to £77,000, which now would undoubtedly exceed £100,000. This surplus, which has been built up entirely from the contributions of members, has enabled us to review the rates of pension now being paid. There are many who are now receiving pensions at the rates prevailing prior to the 1959 legisla tion. We have decided to raise these pensions to the rates that were adopted in 1959 and, as a result of the surplus in the fund, 30 per cent. of the cost of these pensions will be met from the fund. Those who retired since the 1959 legislation will receive either a lump sum payment from the surplus or an increased pension related to 50 per cent. of the parliamentary salaries hitherto in force. These pensions will also be financed on the basis of 30 per cent. from the fund.
Finally, we have examined the possibility of a contributory scheme to give very much modified effect to the recommendations of the Richardson Committee for a supplementary scheme for Ministers and certain other office bearers. The scheme now to be introduced, based upon actuarial advice, provides for a basic contribution rate of £4 5s. per week and pensions varying with service from a minimum of eight years to a maximum of 14 years. The contribution rates have also been calculated on a basis to ensure that 30 per cent. of the pensions will be met from the fund. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed–
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide increased salaries for the holders of the statutory offices included in the schedule to the Bill, the salaries for which are provided by special appropriation. The Bill arises out of the Government’s decision to increase with effect from 1st November 1964 the salaries of Permanent Heads and of the holders of certain statutory offices now on the salary levels of £5,900 and £6,900. These salary levels were determined in the early part of 1960. The new salaries will be £7,500 and £8,750 respectively. As honorable senators will know, the 1960 review for Permanent Heads and statutory office holders followed a general revision of the salaries of all other offices in the Public Service.
In the last three years there have been substantial changes in the pay structure of the Commonwealth Service. These changes have arisen as a result of the group by group reviews by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the Public Service Arbitrator and the Public Service Board. Major changes have emerged as a result of the series of re-assessments for professional groups, commencing with the Commission’s determination of June 1961 for engineers. The salary increases have had regard to all factors relevant to wage and salary fixation, for example, work value, comparative wage justice and economic circumstances.
In order to illustrate the effect of these developments, I mention that the total increase granted by the arbitral authorities for the class 4 engineer in the Third Division at present on a salary of £3,733 amounts to £1,143. The similar increase for a principal legal officer in the Third Division at present on a salary of £3,938 amounts to £1,218. These increases are quoted on the basis of the positions most commonly found within the new salary levels.
In the Second Division, the December 1963 determination of the Public Service Board, subsequently endorsed by the Commission, resulted in some officers receiving a higher rate of remuneration than that received by Permanent Heads of departments. The top salary in the Second Division is now £6,465 per annum. The Government has decided that, in the light of the time which has elapsed since their salaries were last reviewed and of the various developments in the Commonwealth Service and elsewhere, a further review for Permanent Heads and the statutory officers listed in the schedule to this Bill is now required. In determining the new salary levels to be applied, the Government took account of the high level of responsibility and the complex duties devolving upon the statutory office holders and Permanent Heads.
The salaries for the remainder of the offices not within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board will be individually reviewed by the Government and the appropriate increases applied as from 1st November 1964. Because the salaries are provided from special appropriations, legislation covering the offices of the Public Service Arbitrator, the Senior Commissioner, Commissioners and Conciliators of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Chairmen and Members of the Taxation Boards of Review, with effect from 1st November in each instance, will be introduced before the end of the present session of Parliament.
I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– Mr. President, I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a short Bill designed to effect what technically are two relatively minor, yet important, amendments to the Migration Act 1958. The objects of the amendments may be stated briefly - (i) to enable the Minister for Immigration to facilitate the entry into Australia of important visitors and their parties, and other persons and groups of persons, whose admission, on a temporary basis, it is desired to facilitate, for example, delegates attending international conferences in Australia, the number of which has increased in recent years; and (ii) the simplification of passenger documentation required of carrier companies operating waterborne transport to and from Australia. This will not only ease considerably an existing clerical burden on the companies themselves, but will provide the Government with a more effective record of the entry and departure of persons, and control over such movements.
Section 8 of the Migration Act at present exempts four specified categories of persons from the need to be granted an entry permit on arrival. The categories are - (a) members of the armed forces of the Crown entering on duty; (b) diplomats, consuls and trade commissioners, and their staffs and dependants; (c) members of the complement of vessels of the regular armed forces of a government recognized by the Commonwealth entering Australia on leave; and (d) members of the crew of any other vessel landing on leave during the stay of their vessel in port.
The present provisions of this section do not permit the Government to give full effect to the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement which has recently been concluded with the Government of the United States of America, in relation to the admission of United States Service personnel and civilians within clearly defined categories. Nor do they permit important visitors to be exempted from the need to be granted an entry permit. The amend ment to the Act proposed in clause 3 of the Bill will remedy this, and will enable entry of these additional classes to be properly facilitated. Immigration control regarding admission, normally exercised by means of the visa system, will not be affected by the proposed amendment. Nor will the control over the length of stay and the departure of such temporary entrants be in any way reduced.
The remaining clauses of the Bill, clauses 4 and 5, are designed to include in the Migration Act 1958 the necessary authority for the furnishing or obtaining of information in respect of persons arriving in Australia and of their departure. At present travellers entering Australia by air complete a passenger card, which is prescribed in the regulations under the Migration Act. Travellers leaving Australia by air complete a passenger card prescribed under the Air Navigation Regulations, which are administered by the Department of Civil Aviation. In both instances, the carrier company compiles a simplified form of passenger manifest. Travellers by sea, on either entering or leaving Australia, complete an interrogatory form, which is prescribed in the regulations under the Navigation Act, from which the carrier company compiles a detailed passenger manifest.
It is proposed that the passenger card at present completed by travellers by air should in future be completed as well by all persons travelling by sea on entering or leaving Australia, and that the legislative authority for the passenger cards should be included in the one statute, the Migration Act. The proposal will have the following advantages - (a) All travellers will be required to complete a minimum of identical documentation, which will be the same for sea and air travellers; (b) it will enable the Government to establish and maintain a simple register of all movements into and out of Australia; (c) it will facilitate arrival formalities by reducing the number of forms, at present completed by a traveller for health and immigration purposes, from three to one; (d) it will ensure more thorough identification, especially at the time of arrival of passengers, thus strengthening controls; and (e) it will provide a check against malpractice in the use of passports generally.
The introduction of passenger cards for use by travellers by sea will meet the request of shipping companies that they be required to comply only with the minimum immigration documentation that has applied to air carriers. In anticipation of the introduction of passenger cards for use by travellers by sea, the procedure has already been applied on a trial basis to the arrival of three large overseas passenger vessels, both British and foreign. It was found to be eminently satisfactory from all aspects, by passengers, carrier companies and Commonwealth authorities alike. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Fitzgerald) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641028_senate_25_s27/>.