25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Will the Minister request the Minister for the Army to review the travel arrangements for members of the Army wishing to travel home during short leave? As the cost to these young men to travel home, particularly to Western Australia, is prohibitive, will the Minister ask the Minister for the Army to introduce a concession rate for transport for all servicemen and also some form of rationalisation of fares so as to minimise the additional hardship experienced by those who come from distant States?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for the Army. Just before I entered the Senate, a similar question was directed to the Minister for the Army in another place. No doubt the Minister’s reply will be of interest to the honorable senator.
– I had pleasure in accepting on behalf of the Commonwealth Government the clock used by KingsfordSmith. The clock was a gift from KingsfordSmith’s former navigator Captain J. P. Saul, and was handed to me at the Irish Embassy in Canberra. No decision has been made as to where this interesting relic will be placed. That decision will be made by the Government. When I refer this matter to the Government 1 will present a case for the suggestion that has been made by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin that the clock be housed at Eagle Farm airport with the aircraft, the “Southern Cross”. Of course, there are other places which might have a claim to this relic. One is the KingsfordSmith airport at Sydney.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Government observed that recent information concerning the consumer price index shows that the cost of living has increased by approximately 6s. a week because of the increased price of meat? Has the Minister caused the weekly cost of meat for a man, his wife and three children to be calculated recently and has he found that this amounts to £4 4s. which was the weekly basic wage in 1939? Has the Minister considered the economic advisability of making grants to the States to permit them to subsidise retail meat costs for the purpose of stabilising the basic wage?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service and other members of the Government are constantly in touch with the rises that are taking place in the prices of various commodities throughout Australia. The Government has not yet considered the suggestion made by the honorable senator at the end of his question.
– On 5th October I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he could give me any information about the measures that are being taken to alleviate the financial stringency caused by the rapidly deteriorating conditions in drought stricken areas, especially in New South Wales and Queensland. Could the Minister now indicate when he will be able to answer my question?
– I have not yet looked through the list of answers to questions on notice. This answer may be among them. If it is not, I will ask the Treasurer to give an urgent answer to the honorable senator’s question, if that is possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Government concerned about the collapse of H. G. Palmer Pty. Ltd. and the association of the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd. with this unhappy event? Is the Minister prepared to agree that the directors of the M.L.C., having in mind past experience of financial collapses, have been most imprudent in their business relations with H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Ltd.? Is it a fact that the M.L.C. has written off £8.7 million? If so, will this not affect the value of the policies that are held with that company? I think something like one-third of the people of Australia have policies with the company. What action, if any, does the Government plan to take in relation to this matter?
– This is a very important matter and I think it should be treated with great restraint at this stage, because ill informed or idle comment now could do serious damage to an already serious position. The Treasurer will no doubt comment in due course on the matter. I would prefer to say no more until it has been before him!
– I ask the Minister representing the -Minister for Labour and National Service: In view of recent statements by the Minister for Labour and National Service on the increasing importance of women in the work force, is the Minister in a position to give the Senate some details of the functions of the women’s section established in 1962 in the Department of Labour and National Service? Can he say whether any further consideration has been given to a suggestion that I made in the Senate on 16th March 1960, namely, that a women’s bureau similar to the bureau’ in the United States and Canada, or a women’s consultative committee similar to that in the United Kingdom, be established in Australia for the purpose of advising the Minister on questions of employment policy relating to women?
– I know that women are playing a greater part in the work force and in the development of Australia. No doubt they are getting great satisfaction from having the privilege of being able to do so. I cannot give the honorable senator details of the functions of the women’s section established in the Department of Labour and National Service. I suggest that part of her question and also the final part be placed on notice so that the Minister can provide a considered reply.
– J wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question. Does he consider that there is a link between the sudden outbreak all over the world of antiVietnam demonstrations similar to that in Sydney last week and the increasing evidence that the Vietcong is losing the Vietnam war? Were the demonstrations ordered from Peking as a desperate effort to encourage the Vietcong to hold out in the face of defeat?
– I do not think there is any doubt that there is a link of the kind that the honorable senator has suggested. I do not think it is only a coincidence that such demonstrations throughout the. world occurred simultaneously with what the Peking and Hanoi Communists wanted to present as a “ hate America “ week. The only regret I -have on the matter is that when small groups of 300 or 400 people in Stockholm, Martin Place or wherever it may be put on these demonstrations, it is reported as though each demonstration represented public opinion in the country in which it occurs. Quite clearly, it is nothing of the kind. It is merely an extension of a Communist propaganda exercise.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation by pointing out that the limiting factor in the operation of more modern and larger aircraft by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. is the standard of the runways provided in the north-west of Western Australia. I therefore ask the Minister whether it is intended to use any of the additional £8 million, which is being provided by the Government for improving airports, to strengthen the runways at the main airports of the north-west of Western Australia to the standard required for modern and larger aircraft
– We have under continual review the problem to which the honorable senator refers; that is, the need for strengthening runways at airports in the north-west of Western Australia for the use of Fokker Friendship aircraft in the service of the airline which operates in that area. The £8 million which the honorable senator has mentioned is to be used to strengthen runways to enable them to take the DC9, Electra and Viscount aircraft which will be transferred from the present trunk routes to subordinate routes. None of this expenditure will be applied to the northwest of Western Australia.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. ls the Minister aware of the growing public concern over the rationalisation policy of the Department of Civil Aviation which permits the schedules of competing commercial airline companies to be so arranged thu t aircraft from both companies arrive and depart within minutes of each other at main terminals? Will not the Minister agree that this must add substantially to the operational cost of both airlines? Will not he further agree that the rationalisation programme could still be preserved by alternating flights in such a way that neither airline would be disadvantaged, particularly where the airlines are frequently operating at less than half capacity? Finally, will the Minister consider making a statement on the matter to allay public disquiet?
– I have dealt regularly with the problem the honorable senator has raised. 1 made a statement only last Wednesday or Thursday on this matter. I have asked the airlines to consider it. They arrange the schedules. They are responsible for the schedules of arrival and departure of aircraft. Both airlines want to arrange for their aircraft to leave when the bulk of passengers usually travel. I have this matter under review at the present time. The airlines are giving consideration to an experiment in Tasmania, northern Queensland and I think, on the Mount Isa route. The experiment involves an alteration of their schedules to test an alternating scheme for arrivals and departures. As I have said before in the Senate, both airlines wish to have their aircraft available when the bulk of passengers usually travel and to use their aircraft to the fullest extent. That is the way they do it.
– Could they not alternate their services weekly? I refer, for example, to the Wynyard-Devonport service. Both aircraft arrive at Wynyard within minutes of each other and then take off practically together to go across to Devonport.
– It is an interesting suggestion. The two airlines have to run their own businesses. 1 think that the operators of these airlines often know more about the airline business than does the Government or even the Minister for Civil Aviation. However, I am prepared to put the honorable senator’s proposition to them and I shall see what they think about it.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for National Development tell me the yields per acre of the present cotton harvest on the Ord River scheme? Did these yields indicate that the growing of cotton at the Ord River is a successful financial venture? How did these yields per acre compare with the yields in other cotton growing areas in Australia and the United States of America?
– I have seen only public statements in relation to the cotton yield from the Ord River project. Therefore, I am not in a’ position to give a comprehensive reply to the honorable senator. I suggest that he place his question on the notice paper and I shall see that he receives a considered reply.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, refers to the same matter as that raised by Senator Ormonde. Will the Minister request the Treasurer to consider directing an investigation by the Insurance Commissioner to ascertain whether there has been repeated and alarming imprudence by the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd. in its investment policies which must have a detrimental effect on many thousands of policy holders?
– I understand that the Treasurer will have a look at this matter. In any case, I will bring it to his attention. I understand that at the first opportunity he will make a statement on it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will the Minister have inquiries made that will enable him to inform members of the Senate as to the reasons for the recent steep increases in sulphur prices and whether these high prices are likely to be of long duration?
– I am happy to inform the honorable senator that I have already asked my Department to furnish me with a report on the background of the increases, bearing in mind the effect that they may have upon our bounty legislation. When this information is available to me I shall make a statement in the Senate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to a complaint which was made by a Mr. Harris at a conference of Australian dry cleaners that many garments labelled “ Pure Wool “ in fact contain a large percentage of synthetics. As this is contrary to the acts governing the use of the term “ Pure Wool “, will the Minister draw the attention of the State Governments, which I believe administer the acts, to this complaint and request that they take the necessary action to ensure that the acts are properly enforced?
– I shall refer the question to the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain an answer from him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Can the Minister indicate when the national fitness booklet will be available for public distribution?
– I cannot give an answer to that question, but I shall refer it to the Minister for Health. At the present time the Minister is overseas, but I am sure that when he returns he will be able to provide an answer for the honorable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry in a position to assess the benefits to Aus tralia, particularly to Broken Hill and Port Pirie, of the United States proclamation lifting the quota on exports of lead and zinc to that country? Allowing for expenditure on capital equipment to provide increased production, does he consider that long term benefits will accrue to Australia as one of the largest producers of lead and zinc, or is there evidence that in the short term the world market may be oversupplied?
– I foresee, in both the short term and the long term, benefits accruing to Australia from the lifting of the quotas that applied to the United States of America. The Minister for Trade and Industry has long pressed for the lifting of quotas of lead and zinc. As to the future of the market, I am not aware of the relevant statistics relating to the future production of these two commodities. This is an interesting question. If the honorable senator will place this part of it on the notice paper, I shall get an answer for him and at the same time inform myself.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to a misprint in a Melbourne newspaper in which the member for Lowe was described as the member for Love? Has the attention of the Minister been drawn also to the great contribution that married women are making to the work force of this country and their influence on the family budget? Will the Minister for Labour and National Service give some time in the future to dispelling the furphy that two can live as cheaply as one? In view of the increased cost of living and high legal fees, will he look closely into the cost of loving and leaving? Is it true that the Minister for Labour and National Service is likely to appear on a unity ticket issued by the Registrar of Marriages?
– I have not had my attention drawn to the misprint in which the member for Lowe is described as the member for Love. I am sure that anything my colleague did in this way would have been done on the very highest plane. I am quite sure that his wife to be will discover that she has plenty to do in looking after the honorable member. I am afraid that the other sections of the question have slipped my mind, but 1 am sure that both the asker of the question and I can join in wishing the honorable member well.
– To get back to politics, I address the following question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Is the Minister confident that precautions taken to destroy offal and other waste food products from overseas ships which call at ports not regularly visited by such ships are such that there is no danger of the spreading of diseases like foot and mouth disease in these ports? If he is not satisfied that adequate precautions are taken at all Australian ports, will he say what steps, if any, are being taken to tighten the regulations? Docs he know any specific port at which it is believed that adequate precautions are not now taken?
– The honorable senator was good enough to indicate that he would ask this question. I was able to obtain the following information: The disposal of this type of waste in all Australian ports is receiving continual attention by the Commonwealth Department of Health and it has been the subject of repeated discussions between the Commonwealth and State authorities for some time. The Commonwealth contends firmly that the responsibility for port hygiene, including the disposal of ships’ garbage, rests with State authorities. Nevertheless, the provision of suitable incinerators at ports where overseas vessels call is at present being considered generally by Commonwealth and State Governments. Until finality in this regard is reached the fullest possible supervision will continue to be given to the disposal of such waste to prevent the introduction of exotic diseases of animals, plants and humans. I understand that the Marine Board of Burnie intends to erect a new and more modern incinerator at Burnie to replace the present one for the disposal of ships’ garbage.
– My question, which is supplementary to that asked by Senator Benn, is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. In view of the announcement by the Commonwealth Statistician that the cost of living increased by 3s. 6d. a week in New
South Wales in the quarter ended September last, following an increase of 14s. a week in the quarter ended June last, will the honorable gentleman ask the Minister for Social Services to make a supplementary grant to pensioners so that many social service benefits recipients who have not received an increase for years will be assisted to offset the huge increase in living costs and thus enjoy a better Christmas and the benefits of our so-called prosperous society?
– As the honorable senator knows and, indeed, all honorable senators know, social services benefits are dealt with traditionally at Budget time. We are still in the Budget sessional period and have not yet completed the debate on the estimates for the Department of Social Services. I think the honorable senator’s comments would be made more appropriately during the Estimates debate.
(Question No. 572.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 615.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
At the Brisbane and Mareeba tobacco auctions what were (a) the reserve prices of tobacco sold this year; (b) the average price realised at auction this year; and (c) the sales and prices paid by the various companies over the previous two years and for the current year?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 647.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable seantor’s questions - 1 and 2. The arrangements whereby Australian troops rest and recuperate at certain centres in the Asian area have never been countermanded. It is true to say, however, that they were suspended for a short period because of a temporary lack of available aircraft seats. The periodic transfer of soldiers for rest and recuperation has since been resumed. (Question No. 649.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions - 1, 2, 3 and 4. Arrangements are made by the
Commander, Australian Army Force, Vietnam, to use American facilities to send Australian troops to rest and recuperate in the Asian area. These facilities operate under the combined administrative plans which are in operation in Vietnam. The question of returning to Australia has not arisen. At present Australian troops arc able to use American military air transport which has been allotted to take members for rest and recuperation. The American authorities, quite naturally, control these aircraft and there has been no need to make alternative . arrangements. The only arrangement made by the American authorities is that of transport. This remains in their hands because it is the most suitable from our aspect. (Question No. 650.)
Senator TURNBULL (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the
Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
In addition there is a training requirement for officers to attend courts martial and for this reason four officers attended, courts martial being a rare occurrence in Tasmania.
(Question No. 654.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions-
(Question No. 656.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies -
Australia. The admission of East Germans, should they wish to participate in the world pentathlon or any other sporting activity in Australia, will be approved if they hold temporary travel documents issued by the Allied Travel Board. Temporary travel documents are required because the Australian Government does not recognise as valid passports or other travel documents issued under the authority of the East German authorities. A fundamental aspect of present Western policy in Europe is involved in this, namely that pending re-unification of Germany the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany - West Germany - is the only freely and legitimately constituted German Government.
Under the present policy which is applied by the Allied control authorities - United Kingdom, United States and France - and supported by the Australian Government and other like-minded Western countries, including all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, temporary travel documents for East Germans wishing to participate in sporting events in the West are issued by the Allied Travel Board if they meet one of the following conditions -
The Allied Travel Board also satisfies itself that the events would not be exploited by East German participants for political purposes; for example, that the East German national flag and emblem would not be shown, that the East German national anthem would not be played and that the title German Democratic Republic would not be used in official proceedings and publications connected with the event. The Government’s position as set out above has been explained fully to the Amateur Modern Pentathlon Union of Australia.
– by leave - The Senate will be aware that the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has recently undergone surgical treatment. He has informed the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that he will not be able to resume his duties as Minister for some weeks. Until Senator Paltridge returns to office, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) will act as Minister for Defence. The absence of Senator Paltridge will necessitate some changes in the ministerial representation in the Senate. I shall represent the Prime Minister in matters other than education and research. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) will represent the Acting Minister for Defence. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) will represent the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury). The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) will represent the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth).
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that a detachment of Royal Australian Air Force Sabre aircraft from Butterworth is being deployed to Borneo for a period as part of Australia’s contribution to the defence of Malaysia. This deployment is a normal rotation of airforces and provides Australian pilots with additional training and experience. They will be employed on the same basis as their British counterparts in the defence of Sabah and Sarawak.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for
Civil Aviation). - by leave - I desire to inform the Senate of certain decisions reached by the Government concerning the Navy’s three year programme 1965-66 to 1967-68. The decisions involve some variations to the present approved programme, as announced by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the course of his defence review on 10th November last. The revision was initiated by the Naval Board, which submitted certain proposals to vary the programme, in the light of its assessment of the requirements of the fleet to meet the developing strategic situation, and to carry out the Navy’s present commitments and likely tasks.
The first variation concerns the aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. “Melbourne” and the fleet Air Arm. In the review of November 1964, an extensive half-life modernisation was approved for H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “, which was planned to begin in mid-1967 and take 18 months to two years to com plete. The estimated cost was £9.6 million. As stated last year, it was always intended that commencement of this work would depend on the international situation existing at the time. The Government has now decided that it would be undesirable, in the present situation, to have “ Melbourne “ unavailable for operations for up to two years. Instead of laying the ship up for this period, it is intended to put her in for a slightly extended normal refit in 1967, which will be completed within six months. Essential modernisation work, including that necessary to operate the carrier’s replacement aircraft, will be undertaken at that time, at a cost of £2.5 million, and will proceed progressively thereafter during the ship’s normal annual refits.
Honorable senators will recall that the present naval programme provides for the replacement of H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne’s “ Gannets by fourteen S2E Tracker aircraft, at a cost of £16.5 million. These highly efficient anti-submarine aircraft will be delivered by November 1967. Royal Australian Navy aircrews are currently undergoing conversion training on Trackers with the Royal Canadian Navy, which, like the United States Navy, operates these aircraft. Like the Gannets the Navy’s present fighter aircraft, the Sea Venoms, will reach the end of their service life in 1967. The completion of certain tests overseas, of detailed studies by R.A.N. technical experts, and actual trials carried out by H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ herself earlier this year when she was in South East Asian waters, have demonstrated that the Skyhawk A4E aircraft can operate from “ Melbourne “.
This aircraft, which is currently in service in the antisubmarine carriers of the United States Navy, is a versatile fighter bomber which can be armed with a wide range of weapons, including 20 mm. guns, sidewinder air-to-air and bull pup airtoground missiles and rockets, according to requirements for particular tasks. It has been decided to purchase 10 Skyhawk A4E aircraft to replace the Sea Venoms. Two of these will be 2-seater trainers. The total cost of this project will be £9.2 million. The aircraft will be delivered in the latter part of 1967, to be available in time to join H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ on completion of her extended refit in early 1968. The Skyhawks will provide the carrier with a proven counter against hostile reconnaissance aircraft, and with a limited strike capability against surface force attack in convoy operation. Their acquisition will round out its capabilities and increase further its anti-submarine capacity.
The present naval programme provides for 14 fast patrol vessels, 9 of which will serve with the R.A.N, and 5 with the Navy’s Papua-New Guinea Division. As announced at the end of last month, a contract has been let for the construction of these craft by a combination of two Queensland shipbuilding firms.
Designed by the Royal Australian Navy for service in northern Australia and island waters, these vessels will be most appropriate for patrol and surveillance duties. The minesweepers, though they have operated most efficiently in this role in Malaysian waters, were not designed for patrol work, and this is starting to cause undue deterioration and excessive maintenance in these highly specialised units. The patrol craft project has therefore been accelerated in the naval programme, to provide the earliest possible relief for the minesweepers.
The employment of six of the craft for this purpose will leave a deficiency in the programme for replacement of over-age search and rescue craft, general purpose vessels and seaward defence boats. To meet this deficiency, and to permit the deployment of patrol vessels to additional areas in Australian waters, including the north and west, it has been decided that an additional six patrol craft will be built for the R.A.N. The cost of this project will be £3.2 million.
The acceleration of the present patrol craft programme will make earlier demands on manpower for these vessels. This, coupled with the employment of six additional patrol craft in the surveillance and anti-infiltration roles, makes their manning a higher priority in the present situation than keeping all six of the present squadron of minesweepers in commission. Accordingly, it is intended to place four minesweepers into reserve as the patrol craft come into service, and to delete from the programme the two new minesweepers which it was planned to purchase in the United Kingdom in 1968. The two minesweepers remaining in commission will be used to keep minesweeping techniques alive in the R.A.N., and will be rotated with the four in reserve in order to maintain the readiness of the six minesweepers at a high level. This procedure of having such ships in reserve ready for quick use in emergency is followed extensively by the British, United States and Canadian Navies.
The programme announced last November included a fleet replenishment ship, which was planned to commence construction in 1967 and complete in 1970.
Like the fleet replenishment tanker currently in service, and the escort maintenance ship now building at Cockatoo Island dockyard, the addition of this unit would increase the Fleet’s logistic self-sufficiency. However, it would not add directly to the fighting strength of the Fleet, but would create further demands on skilled manpower which could be better used in other projects such as I have mentioned, that have a higher priority in present circumstances. The Government has therefore decided to defer construction of the fleet replenishment ship.
These amendments to the Navy’s three year programme will require an increase in the manpower establishment from the present target of 16,700 to 16,900 by the end of the programme period at June 1968. This increase in numbers will require additional accommodation, and a sum of £500,000 is being provided for this purpose. From the overall financial aspect, the net effect of the approved variations to the Navy’s programme will require an expenditure of £1.5 million over the three year period, additional to the programme estimates announced last November. This increase will be spread over the Navy’s allotments in the appropriate years. The general effect of the decisions I have announced will be to increase as quickly as possible the effective fighting strength of the Fleet, even though this means deferment of certain ancillary and support units. I feel sure honorable senators will agree that this is a highly desirable objective in present circumstances.
Consideration resumed from 21st October (vide page 1161).
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed expenditure, £18,705,000.
Proposed provision, £2,600,000.
.- Mr. Chairman, I was a bit intrigued over the weekend because I recalled that in answer to a question that I asked on 6th October the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) said that the increased costs that had to be met by Trans-Australia Ait lines and Ansett-A.N.A. amounted to about £800,000 a year for each airline. If I remember correctly, he said later, again discussing air fares, that each airline would have to pay an additional £1,400,000. I think he tried to say then that the £800,000 represented increases in staff salaries and wages. That docs not seem to work out, because the recent increase in wages and margins was only11/2 per cent. It does not appear, from any figures that I can put my hands on, that the increased cost of wages and salaries to each airline would be so high. I would be grateful if the Minister would tell me which is the right figure - £1,400,000 or £800,000. There is a difference of £600,000 between the two sums and I would like to know which is correct.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 140 and to a question which I asked during question time today. Could the Minister inform the Committee of the plans to strengthen the runways of airports in the north west of Western Australia in this financial year? I ask this question because I have been informed on very good authority that it is useless to talk about using more modern aircraft in the north of Western Australia until the airport runways there are strengthened. Already the DC4 aircraft operated by Ansett-A.N.A. to clear freight from the area is under severe limitations both as to loading and the frequency with which it can use some of the airports. For example, it cannot land at Onslow, the airport for Barrow Island. It can use Roebourne normally only once a month, although it has had permission to use it more frequently lately. There are other limitations in other airports because of the damage likely to be done to the runways. The Friendship aircraft are limited also at some airports regarding the weight of their loads. It would be impossible to operate Viscount aircraft there other than the 700 series, which cannot do any better job than - and probably not as well as - the Friendship, again because of the strength of the runways. Until such time as the runways are strengthened, it will be virtually impossible to operate larger and modern aircraft on this route. Therefore, I am wondering what plans the Department of Civil Aviation has in the next year to strengthen these runways so that they will be able to carry the ever increasing traffic, both passenger and freight, which the development of the north requires. No inducement whatever is provided to the airlines concerned to purchase and operate more efficient aircraft until the runways are of sufficient standard to handle those aircraft.
– Mr. Chairman, a few days ago I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation a question which he failed to answer. It related to the profit provided to Consolidated Revenue by Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. I notice in the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure that the dividend from Qantas is £974,000. I notice also that the report of Qantas shows that the airline has set aside 6i per cent, of its profit, which amounts to £1,150,000, for payment to the Government. The difference between the two figures is £176,500. I should like the Minister, if he could, to give some explanation of those figures.
I also asked the Minister a question concerning the approximate cost of building homes for employees of the Department of Civil Aviation at Derby. The erection of four houses will cost £32,763, the erection of another six houses will cost £48,325, and the erection of five other houses will cost £48,000. It seems to me that there is a difference in cost that should be explained. Six houses are to be constructed for £48,325, or approximately £8,000 each. Four other houses are to be constructed at a comparable price. But there is a difference of approximately £1,500 each in the cost of the five houses to which I referred when compared with the cost of the other houses. 1 would like the Minister, if possible, to give me an explanation of those matters.
Like Senator Sim, I should like the Minister to comment, if he can, on what aerodromes in the northern parts of Western Australia are capable of handling Viscount aircraft and whether these aircraft are of the 700 series or the 800 series. If these aerodromes are capable of handling the 700 series, is it the intention of the airline companies operating these services to keep the 700 series in operation? As I understand it, the two airline companies, when they acquire the DC9 aircraft, will not keep the 700 series Viscount in operation. It is important in this age that the air services in this area be improved. On many occasions I have heard the Minister and honorable senators opposite speak very highly of the great developmental work that is taking place in the iron ore field in north west Australia. As I understand the position at the present time, there is only one sealed airstrip in this area. That is at Port Hedland and it is capable, I understand, of taking only the 700 series Viscount aircraft. Neither Roebourne nor Onslow airstrip is capable of taking these aircraft. Is it intended in the present works programme to seal the airstrips to make them allweather airstrips because of the extensive use which will be made of them in con:nection with the iron ore development? At the present time quite frequently DC3 aircraft cannot use them during wet weather. I would like the Minister to . give an explanation of this matter if he can.
– I wish to deal with Division No. 144 - Development of Civil Aviation - and the subsidy that is paid for air services and aerodrome development. I think this is the only section under which I can get in a complaint of mine regarding the nonrationalisation of air services, particularly in Western Australia, and the lack of facilities at airports for people who are compelled to spend a long time waiting for a connection with another aircraft. The new services which are supposed to be rationalised have a very detrimental effect on travel from Western Australia to Canberra and the eastern States generally. For instance, after Monday night, people in Western Australia cannot get a direct connection on an evening plane to Canberra until Thursday. If they leave Perth on Tuesday morning they cannot arrive in Canberra until Wednesday.
They must stay overnight in either Sydney or Melbourne because of the lack of coordination between the arrival of planes in Sydney and Melbourne and their departure for Canberra.
Since the introduction of the Boeing 727 aircraft, I would say that the service to Western Australia has deteriorated. At the present time, people who travel from Perth to Canberra oh Monday night spend almost as long at the Melbourne terminal as they do in flight. I am not talking about something that I do not know anything about. I had this experience last night. I had to spend nearly 2i hours at the Melbourne terminal. People have to leave Perth at an unearthly hour of the morning. Since the introduction of the rationalisation scheme, the departure time from Perth is ten minutes to one o’clock in the morning. The managers of the airline companies in Perth have stated that the inconvenience to Western Australian travellers is occasioned because people in Melbourne do not like to rise early in the morning to travel interstate. So Western Australian travellers are put to this inconvenience.
In addition, on Monday night there are two services out of Perth within a matter of minutes and then there are no flights which connect directly with flights to the eastern States until Thursday evening. I fail to see how a system which provides for a double service on some days and then provides no direct services for a couple of days can be called rationalised. As so much money is spent in providing subsidies to the airline companies and in the development of airports, at least the comfort of passengers who patronise the airlines should be studied. I have made a plea in this chamber for some years - not just in the last few months - for the provision of more adequate facilities at airport terminals, particularly for elderly women who have to wait at airports for connecting flights. Since the airline companies have put in all the modern furniture at the airport terminals they have taken away the comfort of the old fashioned furniture. There are no longer lounges, where people could perhaps put their feet up and rest. There is no comfort at all in the new monstrosities that the airlines have provided in the way of furniture.
People wait at airport terminals, not because they want to but because they have to. In Perth passengers arrive from overseas in the early hours of the morning. After being in the air for long periods they look for a place where they can have a rest. I would like to see more comfort provided for passengers at airport terminals and a little less of the austerity which passes for modernity. I would ‘ike to see some of the vast sums that are spent on airport terminals used to providing facilities for the convenience of long distance travellers who, in some of the cases I have mentioned, spend longer on the ground waiting for a connecting flight than they do in the air.
– In answer to the question asked by Senator Kennelly, the increase in air fares was based on increased costs to the two airlines of £2,687,000 and £42.000 for East-West Airlines Ltd.
– How does that compare with what the Minister told the Senate on 6th October?
– I have already explained that, and I do not propose to discuss it any further. The interim answer which I gave referred to wages and materials which amounted to approximately £800,000 for each airline. Senator Cant referred to the civil works programme. I had an answer to the question which he raised, and I am sorry I did not give it last week. He asked why the cost of the five houses to be constructed at Derby in 1965-66 is not the same as the cost for the construction of housing in 1964-65. The answer is that the six houses which appeared in last year’s programme were houses which were moved from Talgarno and reerected at Derby. This did not cost as much as constructing new houses. But only two of the five houses to be constructed at Derby th;s year are being rp-erect.ed. The other three houses will be new constructions.
Senator Cant also inquired about the amount provided in the estimates for dividend payment by Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. The estimates disclose that the dividend from Qantas at that stage was based on 5i per cent. After reviewing the annual accounts of Qantas, the dividend was raised to 6i per cent, and, as is stated in the annual report of Qantas, that is the actual dividend paid this year.
I am not as yet in a position to state the airports in north west Australia which we propose to deal with in our programme this year. I have not the figures available at the moment, but I hope to have them a little later. As soon as 1 receive them I shall make them available to the Senate. I shall refer the comments made by Senator Tangney to the two airline companies concerned. Of course, as I have explained to honorable senators, the airline companies arrange the programmes themselves. They have nothing to do with rationalisation, which only provides for the number of aircraft available and the matter of capacity. The airline companies arrange their own programmes. I shall take this matter up with them. I shall furnish them with a copy of the honorable senator’s remarks and ask them to make some comments on the matters she has raised.
– I rise in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation for the purpose of referring to matters that have previously been discussed. I relate my remarks to Division No. 135- Administrative. The Minister in his reply to Senator Kennelly regarding fare increases, said that the figures that had been submitted by both airline companies had been thoroughly examined by the Department and that a case was substantiated by both airline companies for a fare increase in order to enable them to make a profit comparable to that which they made last year. The increase that has been conceded by the Minister this year is 6 per cent., the same as was agreed to last year. However, this year’s increase has been granted for different reasons. I note that during the debate on last year’s estimates for this Department the Minister pointed out that, as a result of an increase in the basic wage, operating costs would rise by a little over £800,000. It was on that basis that he agreed last year to an increase of 6 per cent. During this year’s debate on the Estimates he has said that increased operating costs for both major airlines would be of the order of £2.7 million and that, on the basis of those figures, another increase of 6 per cent, is warranted.
If the Department has examined these figures carefully - that is what 1 am querying - why should a fare increase of 6 per cent. have been granted last year on the basis of an increase of £800,000 in operating costs and a similar increase have been granted this year on the basis of an increase of approximately £1.4 million in the operating costs of each airline? We have been told that the higher increase this year was caused by a higher tax on fuel, increased air navigation charges, the margins increase of11/2 per cent. awarded by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and other cost rises including rises in the cost of spare parts. Spare parts constitute the only item mentioned as covered by the phrase “ other cost rises “. Having regard to the fact that the Minister has said that these matters have been thoroughly examined by the Department, I should like to know what other ancillary matters fall under the heading “ other cost rises “. Do we, as representing the members of the public, have to accept merely what we are told by the Minister or must we, or must the members of the public themselves, find out what actually is the situation in regard to the operating costs of these airlines? I mentioned that the Minister had referred to the higher tax on fuel, the increase in air navigation charges and the margins increase of 11/2 per cent. I understand that during the last 12 months there were reasonably sharp reductions of the price of fuel. Surely some economies have been effected as a result of the reduction of fuel prices and the operation of new jet aircraft. Surely the introduction of new machinery, greater efficiency in the industry and a greater load capacity have led to lower operating costs.
I understand that in the United States of America the Civil Aeronautics Board has adopted the attitude, generally speaking, of rejecting the contention of airlines that additional revenues are needed to enable them to continue operations. Reports indicate that the Board has adopted the attitude that economies brought about by the operation of new jet aircraft have been so great that airlines should be working towards lower rather than higher fares. If that is the situation in the United States, I should like to know why the same situation does not obtain here in Australia. We are led to believe also that in the United States public hearings are held to determine whether fares should be increased, reduced or kept at the same level. In Australia it seems to be a matter only between the airlines on the one hand and the Department of Civil Aviation on the other hand. It is about time that public hearings were held in Australia to consider applications by the airlines for fare increases.
I now refer to section 32 of the Australian National Airlines Act. Sub-section (1.) states -
The Minister, with the concurrence of the Treasurer and after consultation with the Commission -
shall, not later than one month before the commencement of each financial year, determine the percentage of the capital of the Commission that would represent a reasonable return to the Commonwealth from the operations of the Commission in that financial year. . . .
Sub-section (2.) provides -
In performing their functions under the last preceding sub-section, the Minister and the Treasurer shall take into account, in addition to other relevant matters -
the profits, in relation to capital employed, that have been, and are expected to be, made by privately-owned air transport undertakings in Australia:
all matters tending to create disparity with respect to costs between the Commission and privately-owned air transport undertakings, including -
the conduct by, or by undertakings associated with, privatelyowned air transport undertakings of commericial activities other than air transport services;
Having regard to this section of the Act, I should like to know whether Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. submits consolidated figures for all its operations, including not only airline operating costs but also the operating costs of the television station Channel 0 in Melbourne. Does Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. submit the operating costs of Ansett-A.N.A., Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd., and each of its other subsidiaries, so that the Department may, to use the Minister’s own words, give the whole matter close consideration? This Government, by granting the fare increases that have been sought by both major airlines, is asking Australian air travellers to subsidise the losses - I understand that they have been substantial - that have been suffered by Channel 0 in Melbourne which, as 1 have indicated, is a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I should like to know whether separate profit and loss accounts and balance sheets are submitted by this company in respect of each of its undertakings or whether the Department receives a consolidated balance sheet.
I refer now to Division No. 140, in which provision is made for the maintenance and operation of aerodromes. Three or four weeks ago I directed the Minister’s attention to a report about the deterioration of private airstrips in rural areas as a result of the prevailing drought. At that time the Minister said that he would refer the matter to his Department with a view to having action taken to see that the airstrips concerned were brought up to standard. This is a very serious matter. The rural section of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots is very much concerned about the deterioration of privately owned airstrips. I believe that if instructions have not been issued, they should have been issued. I ask the Minister for an assurance that the safety requirements of these airstrips have been or will be brought up to the necessary standard.
I now refer to air services on the north coast of New South Wales - particularly to Kempsey. I understand that a problem concerning the continuation of an air service to Kempsey has arisen as a result of recent rationalisation decisions. I believe that EastWest Airlines Ltd. is having considerable difficulty in maintaining a service to Kempsey. There is no need for me to tell the Minister of the importance of Kempsey as a district centre. A service is still operating to Port Macquarie, about 30 miles from Kempsey; but, of course, Kempsey is a very important centre for residents of the north coast of New South Wales. It serves a great area. I would like the Minister to explain whether the service to Kempsey is to be continued. The Minister is aware that a great deal of money has been spent on the Kempsey airstrip and it would be a great pity to waste that expenditure by discontinuation of the air service to Kempsey.
I refer now to the item relating to air route and airway facilities. During the debate last year on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, I directed the Minister’s attention to problems related to the holding of aircraft at and around Sydney. I pointed out to him that because of the proximity of the Air Force bases at Richmond and Williamtown, and the naval air station at Nowra, problems have been encountered in holding aircraft over suburban areas of Sydney. What might be termed a nuisance has been caused to many people in those areas. Last year the Minister said that a committee was to be set up to consider the problem. I would like to know the results of the committee’s findings and what has been done to overcome this great problem of Sydney residents.
– In respect of air services to northern and north-western Australia, I wish to refer to an answer given by my colleague, Mr. Fairbairn, who acts for me in another place, in answer to a question by Mr. Pollard. Mr. Fairbairn said -
Kununurra will also be suitable for this aircraft when works now in hand are completed.
All the aerodromes listed above are suitable for Viscount aircraft except Barrow Island, Geraldton, Roebourne, Wittenoom Gorge and Wyndham. Broome, Derby and Port Hedland are suitable for the Viscount 700, but not for the larger Viscount 800 series.
That is the only information I have at the moment. I hope to be able a little later to give further details of the work proposed to be done. Senator McClelland raised a number of questions, one of which related to increases in air fares. One of the factors relevant to those increases is the extension of the depreciation period of aircraft for taxation purposes. Formerly aircraft were written off in four years. That period has been extended to eight years and increased taxation is therefore payable. Airlines are no longer allowed to claim depreciation on buildings erected at Commonwealth airports. That is an alteration which also results in payment of increased taxation. I can assure the honorable senator that reductions in fuel prices were taken into account inthe examination of the applications for increased air fares.
New jet aircraft coming into operation were referred to by Senator McClelland as a factor which should reduce costs. That is so. However, at present, jet aircraft are handling only part of the air traffic. The entire fleet is composed of aircraft with petrol driven engines, prop-jet aircraft, and jet aircraft. Last weekend I announced the authorisation of the purchase of additional jet aircraft. When the Australian air fleet is composed entirely of jet aircraft, ‘we can look forward to reduced costs in domestic aviation.
Senator McClelland also referred to the application of section 32 of the Australian National Airlines Act. Last year I fixed a dividend of H per cent, to be paid by the Australian National Airlines Commission to the Commonwealth Government. On that occasion the provisions of sub-section (2.) of section 32 were taken into account. Again this year the same percentage dividend is to be paid. The honorable senator asked whether Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. supplies to the Department all its accounts, or simply a consolidated statement. The Department has full access to the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., although that company is not legally obliged to allow that access under State law. Naturally, it is expected that any information made available will be regarded as confidential bv the Government and it is so regarded.
The air service to Kempsey was referred to by Senator McClelland. I agree with him that it is an important air service. The purpose of the reallocation of New South Wales air routes was essentially to provide better services to the travelling public and to keep two independent airlines in operation in New South Wales. I wish to go further in my explanation than the honorable senator went in speaking on this matter. The plan proposed gave several new air routes to East-West Airlines Ltd. which substantially improved its potential to make profits. Before the re-allocation is scheduled to come into operation, East- West Airlines Ltd. has indicated its intention not to operate one of the new routes. I understand that it proposes to by-pass Kempsey with its aircraft and to have there a fleet of cars to pick up passengers for transport to Port Macquarie, a distance of about 30 miles. I understand also that the company is the subject of a take-over bid. I wish to emphasise that the allocation of new routes to East-West Airlines Ltd. was undertaken not with a view to giving shareholders of that company the immediate prospect of large capital gain, but rather to preserve its financial stability as an independent airline which could provide a better service to the travelling public. Present developments are of such concern to me that I propose to discuss them as scon as possible with my colleague, the New South Wales Minister for Transport. I have received a telegram from Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. advising me that, provided the routes previously allocated to that company’s subsidiary are returned, it proposes to continue servicing in full the routes it previously serviced, without by-passing any airport. I think that fully answers the queries of the honorable senator in that respect.
Senator McClelland also raised the matter of the holding of aircraft at and around Sydney. The Department has completed its investigations and a new plan is being put into operation. I think this plan will alleviate the problems of Sydney residents as aircraft will be held further out. This is possible particularly because of a new navigational aid system installed in the area.
.- Last week I raised a matter concerning the Airports. (Business Concessions) Act 1959 . and I asked the Minister for certain information relating to operations under that Act. Since then I have looked at the situation myself, because the replies read to me by the Minister last Thursday night were not wholly satisfactory. I have learned that for leases, licences, land and trading rights at air terminal buildings the Government last year received £719,537. The point I want to emphasise is that this is not small business. The Airports (Surface Traffic) Act 1960 also has some relation to the operations of the Department of Civil Aviation. I learned that last financial year £169,168 was paid for parking at air terminals throughout the Commonwealth.
The Department has other business ventures. For instance, it has a management, sales and services section. It collects rents for certain residences. Last year these amounted to £90,473. It sells electrical energy. I do not know on what terms it sells electrical energy but probably it buys electricity from some public electricity authority and relays the electric power in some way to the user. Last year the Department earned ?57,168 in this way. The Department also charges for some of its services. Its charges for radio services last year amounted to ?30,541. Will these charges be increased seeing that fares were increased quite recently or will the services be provided at the old rates? To me, it appears logical that if fares are increased these charges should be increased also. lt will be recalled that last week I also mentioned the cost of a private furnished residence in Montreal, Canada. Apparently thai residence is for the use of one officer of the Department of Civil Aviation. But I am not clear about this and I should like the Minister to enlighten me. The sum of ?40.766 was paid for the residence. Quite recently I read in the newspapers that a V.I. P. had purchased a residence in Malvern, a Melbourne suburb, for ?12,000 or perhaps a little more, so I contrasted the price of that residence, which will be. occupied later by a V.I.P., with the price paid for the residence in Montreal which apparently will provide accommodation for an officerof the Department of Civil Aviation. I checked the salary paid to that officer to see whether it approached the salary prescribed for the Governmor-General, and I found that the officer concerned is just an ordinary official in the Department.
– But is he not receiving large allowances? I think there is an allocation of ?13,000 for allowances for the two officers in addition to salary.
– I do not know. I am inviting the Minister to enlighten me. I noticed that ?40,000 was paid for a residence in Montreal, Canada, so, to ascertain the price paid in dollars, I allowed for exchange at the rate of 2.24 dollars to the ?1. The price is out of all proportion to the price paid for a very substantial home in Australia. There may be a simple explanation and my comment may be unwarranted. I know the Minister will tell me about this.
Last week when we were discussing the operations of Trans-Australia Airlines, the national airline, it was mentioned that when Labour was in office and managing the affairs of T.A.A. the airline ran at a loss for a year or two. There is nothing phenomenal about that. The airline was in its infancy then and, to me, the discussion appeared to be infantile. Nearly every public company incurs a loss in the first few years of its operations. That is almost unavoidable because of capital cost, interest and other charges. But public companies make a profit once they get on their feet. If we traced the history of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. we would find that it probably made a loss in the first year or two of its operations. If we traced the history of Qantas Empire
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! To what item is the honorable senator linking this?
– I am speaking about the Department of Civil Aviation and making comparisons.
– I will not allow the discussion to become too wide.
– If you rule that way, Mr. Chairman, I will have to object to your ruling. I have not transgressed as yet and I invite you to call me to order when I do transgress. I point out also that you will need the numbers to defeat me, so I am cautioning you.
– I am only asking for the item to which this is being linked.
– We are dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation and I am speaking about Qantas, which is one of the cares of the Department of Civil Aviation. When Qantas was a private company operating between Charleville and the Northern Territory - in the years of its infancy - it was conducted at a loss but it is now an altogether different proposition.
I read in the Press during the weekend that the Commonwealth Government proposes to arrange for the three major airline companies to purchase additional aircraft. The newspapers gave full details of the matter. I was in the chamber throughout almost the whole of the sittings last week but I did not hear any announcement along these lines by the Minister. He may have read a statement in the Senate some time last week. If he did not, I believe that he should have. This is the place in which announcements relating to the operations of the Department of Civil Aviation should bo made. These statements should not be given to the Press so that honorable senators learn about them first in the newspapers. So far as I know, no statement has been made in the Senate yet concerning the probable cost of the aircraft, which the Commonwealth Government will have to underwrite to allow the purchases to be made.
I regard this as a serious matter. Last week we were discussing the operations of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Minister could easily have made the statement to the Senate then. But, on his own admission a while ago, he did not make the statement in this chamber. I read the report in the Press. Of course the Press published only portion of the information. So we are still in the dark as to the full particulars of the intended purchases. lt appears that Ansett-A.N.A. is the most favoured company in Australia. If T.A.A. is to be supplied with new aircraft, the Government, according to its policy, must see that Ansett-A.N.A. is also supplied with new aircraft. In the first instance the Government has to guarantee AnsettA.N.A. its passenger capacity. If the Government follows religiously the principle of rationalisation and says that it will purchase more aircraft of a certain type for T.A.A., it must also announce that AnsettA.N.A. will purchase similar aircraft. In order to do that, it must possess a thorough knowledge of Ansett-A.N.A.’s business standing. I wish to bring other matters to the attention of the Minister, but I will wait until he replies to the matters that I have raised already.
– I wish to raise two or three matters under the heading of civil aviation facilities, for which the appropriation is £10,545,000. Only recently honorable senators were supplied with documentation of quite a grave discrepancy between freight carried by Australian airlines and freight carried by airlines in other countries. On the basis of those figures, claims were made to the Minister and the Government that there was a need for an expansion of our freight services. The position is that the passenger carrying airlines - the two major airlines - are working at full capacity in supplying the demands of Australian air travellers. I direct attention to the fact that the emphasis is placed on providing a service for air travellers and that the freight services are more or less a sideline.
Only recently an attempt has been made by one of the road freight organisations to take over East-West Airlines Ltd. with the object of getting into the airlines business. Taking advantage of the statistics that were produced by another road freight company, it is trying to get in on the ground floor and to have an already established airline with the capacity to purchase aircraft. If this takeover offer is successful, another air freight service will be able to enter the field. However, this is only supposition at the moment; it may not come to pass.
The question that I direct to the Minister is: What is the policy of the Department, the Minister and particularly the Rationalisation Committee in relation to the obvious need to meet the demand for greater freight services? Sir Giles Chippindall, in presenting the twentieth annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission, which operates Trans-Australia Airlines, spoke of the loss of traffic and revenue arising from the three important rationalisation decisions during 1964-65 which further reduced the size of T.A.A.’s operations and expanded those of its competitor. He said that these decisions curtailed T.A.A.’s operations on the Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin route, the Brisbane-Longreach-Mount Isa route and the Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney route. He said -
Because of the extensive network of noncompetitive routes not open to T.A.A., its competitor now carries almost 20 per cent, more traffic.
The next sentence is important -
It is significant that of the first 72 airports in the
Commonwealth (excluding Papua and New Guinea) in order of airline passengers handled - as shown in the Department of Civil Aviation’s statistics for the year ended 31st December 1964 - T.A.A.’ operates into only 27.
– On what page is that?
– It is on pages 4 and 5, under the heading “The Two-Airline Policy “. Another document has also been circulated. It is a Press statement which contains some of the main points of the report and is headed “T.A.A. Sounds Warning After Profit “.
I now refer to another important matter to which I believe the Department is not giving close enough consideration. I refer to the delays that are occurring in every major airport throughout Australia. When an aircraft is delayed, even for reasons outside the control of the airline concerned - whether it be at Longreach, Hobart or somewhere in South Australia - the delay can have repercussions throughout the air routes of Australia. There are not only the immediate repercussions arising from the aircraft not being available but also the fact that many passengers are not able to catch connecting aircraft. In the last few weeks we have been giving a lot of attention to man-hours lost on the waterfront. I believe that the Minister should direct his attention to the number of man-hours that are being lost by people waiting around airports. These delays do not occur only occasionally, as they used to. Now they occur on quite a high percentage of trips. On almost every trip that a person makes, somewhere along the line there is a delay. I have had the experience in a week’s travelling of being delayed at every one of five or six connections.
The members of the travelling public are paying plenty, although the Minister claims that air fares in Australia are cheaper than anywhere else in the world. That is a debatable claim.
– Very debatable.
– Yes. The people of Australia are paying plenty. I stress that point by pointing out that the air traveller in Australia is being made an indirect, milch cow for the Treasury. There is discriminatory taxation. The air fares are raised so that T.A.A. will return a profit to the Treasury. Last year T.A.A. paid £425,228 in income tax; £900,000 in aviation fuel tax - an impost which has to be paid by the travelling public and the revenue from which goes straight into the Treasury; £307,000 in customs duty on aircraft - another impost on the travelling public; £200,000 in payroll tax and £74,000 in sales tax - both of which are reflected in fares; and £661,000 in air route charges - a legitimate charge because it is for facilities supplied; and £563,000 as a dividend.
That means to say that the air traveller, like the whisky drinker, the beer drinker and the cigarette smoker, is specially selected as the target to produce revenue for the Commonwealth to enable it meet the cost of its ordinary annual works and services. Instead of these costs being spread evenly throughout the community by taxes such as income tax, the air traveller is being asked annually to pay increased fares for the ordinary annual works and services. Therefore, he should be able to expect a better service than he is getting. The delays that occur all too frequently now cause disappointment and disorganisation. They result in missed appointments in capital cities and disruption of important meetings of executives and other people in industry, apart altogether from the disappointment caused to the ordinary air traveller, who is perhaps going on leave, and whose family is waiting for him at the terminal point of his flight. These delays are far too prevalent nowadays. It amounts to this: The airlines are working right up to the maximum capacity of their aircraft and there is not sufficient margin to cover the slight dislocation that takes place and avoid these delays.
– That is why they are getting these new aircraft, is it not?
– They are getting new aircraft, I admit. It was a very reluctant Minister who announced the granting of permission for the obtaining of additional aircraft, even after attention had been drawn to the fact by the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission in the report which was presented to the Parliament on 5th October. The announcement of the granting of permission was made only in .the last few days. Twenty days after attention was drawn to the matter by the Chairman, of the Commission, the announcement was made by the Minister. However, that does not get away from tha fact that the aircraft are overdue now. The orders have to be placed, and the present situation will continue. I want to. stress the point that not enough consideration has been given by the airlines and by the Department of Civil Aviation to the travelling public, which is the source of their revenue and the reason for their existence.
Frequently, when we are waiting for flight connections, we hear announcements from both ends of terminal buldings, that such and such an aircraft will, due to unforeseen circumstances, be delayed for four hours. Some of these aircraft are carrying 80, 90 or 100 passengers. The dislocation spreads to business and to family life. This is a matter that should be given very close attention by the Government. On occasions when I have made inquires, I have found that some inconvenience in Melbourne has had its origin in Brisbane, Rockhampton or Cairns early in the morning. Because of the unavailability of an aircraft, which has required emergency servicing, the repercussions are felt throughout the airline services. It is my view that if the right emphasis were placed on the need for service to the public, the two airlines policy would incorporate emergency aircraft for both airlines.
– At which airport?
– They could be at a central airport - Sydney or Melbourne. Melbourne is perhaps an axis point, of the north-south and east-west services.
– That would help to avoid delays in Cairns?
– The honorable senator understands the point that I am making. At present, every aircraft that is able to fly - subject to servicing requirements - is flying. I must pay credit to the Department for the fact that the servicing and airworthiness of our aircraft are second to none. I hope that that standard will be maintained and that an effort will be made to attain even greater efficiency. Aircraft must be maintained and serviced at regular periods, so additional aircraft cannot be thrown into service in an emergency. This is a growing problem. Under the two airlines policy, both airlines are working to their maximum capacity. Utilisation of carrying capacity is at a level perhaps higher than that achieved anywhere else in the world. It is between 60 and 65 per cent., which is considered to be a very good rate. I understand that in relation to the new jet aircraft operating between capital cities the rate is even higher than that. I stress that point, which I regard as very important. The matter comes back to the number of man hours that are lost by people who are given to understand that the schedules will be maintained. When they buy tickets, they make plans accordingly. On too many occasions, over the last twelve months in particular, there have been an nouncements of delays of half an hour, an hour, or more, in the departures of aircraft.
– With whom does the honorable senator fly, chiefly?
– I hear the announcements at terminals. I cannot tell one from the other. Both operators are using the same area of the terminal. Whether the announcement comes from one public address system or the other, one cannot tell the difference.
– Ordinary people can.
– I would not say from which airline such announcements are most prevalent. I do not want to enter into an argument about it. I am concerned with the principle. Such delays are happening with both airlines.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator O’Byrne raised the question of revenues from civil aviation and the cost recovered by the Department. The total cost of providing civil aviation facilities last year was £20,760,000, and the revenue was approximately £7 million, so Consolidated Revenue did foot the bill to the extent of some £13 million.
– The Department got a 33 per cent, return?
– Yes. I say to the honorable senator in all seriousness that the costs of conducting an aviation industry have always to be kept in mind when one is making a comparison with a railway industry which is being conducted by the States or a road transport industry which is being conducted by public authorities. If we were to provide air travel at the cost to Consolidated Revenue only, this would be grossly unfair, I think, to the competitors of the aviation industry which provide rail and road transport. - Senator Wright raised a question in relation to costs. The Department regularly reviews its costs of providing and maintaining civil aviation facilities and the revenue it receives from the industry for the use of those facilities. The principal item of recovery is the revenue received from air navigation charges. These are reviewed regularly, and on most occasions in recent years the Government has increased these charges by 10 per cent., which is the maximum permitted under the Airlines Agreements Act. I regard the aviation fuel tax as another recovery which can be credited against the Department’s costs. The rate of fuel tax was increased by the substantial amount of 3d. a gallon in the last Budget. Of great significance, I consider, are the Department’s efforts to raise revenue by the letting of business concessions at airports, and the revenue it receives from the use of its car parks at airports. Other revenue is earned from the leasing of sites at airports to airlines and others. In all, the revenue expected is about £7 million. Particulars appear in the annual report of the Department. The percentage of the costs that the Department recovers is increasing year by year. Senator Wright can be assured that the cost-revenue relationship is watched and no avenue of raising additional revenue is neglected. A study of the graph shows that the level is rising and by 1980, 75 per cent, of the total cost will be refunded to the Department from revenue. -
Senator O’Byrne referred to aircraft delays on the ground. I am glad that these delays occur on the ground; it is much better that way. Senator O’Byrne rightly attributed the delays to a shortage of aircraft. We are using out aircraft to the greatest capacity of any civil aviation organisation in the world. 1 believe the use of aircraft is about 13 hours a day. That is the reason for the proposed purchase of two Boeing 727 aircraft and six Douglas DC9B aircraft. Senator Benn complained that I did not report to the Senate that this purchase had been authorised. A Cabinet decision was not released until 6 p.m. on Thursday. I was prepared to make a statement on Thursday night and issued a statement on Friday morning but unfortunately the Senate had risen.
Senator O’Byrne also raised matters to which reference was made by the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission in a published statement on the trunk routes from Melbourne to Canberra, Adelaide to Darwin and Mount Isa. The Adelaide-Darwin trunk route was the sub ject of an appeal to the Arbitrator, Mr. Justice Spicer, against a decision of the Rationalisation Committee which comprises representatives of the two major airlines and the Director-General of Civil Aviation. The appeal against the decision of the Coordinator was made by Ansett Transport Industries in relation to equal access to intermediate points on the Adelaide-Darwin route. Mr. Justice Spicer ruled that the law provided that the two airlines should have an equal opportunity to share all trunk routes. As this principle had not been applied on the Adelaide-Darwin, MelbourneCanberra or Mount Isa routes, these routes were reallocated in accordance with Mr. Justice Spicer’s decision.
During the debate, some criticism has been directed against the Adelaide-Darwin and Adelaide-Woomera services. The Adelaide-Darwin service was operated entirely by private enterprise but was taken over from the operator - was confiscated, in fact - and given to Trans-Australia Airways by a previous Administration. Now, on a decision of the Arbitrator, the company has half of it back again. In the opinion of the Arbitrator, this was some years overdue according to the law.
– What line has been handed half the traffic? It is not for the Adelaide-Woomera route?
– No, the AdelaideWoomera route is intrastate. As I have proviously pointed out to the honorable senator, no legislation in respect of that route has been introduced by the South Australian Parliament yet.
– It will come.
– The honorable senator says it will come and I nod my head and say that we will deal with it when it does come.
– I know what this Government will do.
– The honorable senator does not know. I was referring to the Adelaide-Darwin route which was operated by the old Guinea Airways. Senator Benn referred to revenue collected from business undertakings at airports. In 1964-65 this amounted to £251,000. The revenue from car parking was £185,000. The first mentioned sum accrued from contracts which are reviewed when they become due for expiry. Unless satisfactory terms are offered by the current contractor, tenders are again called. Car parking fees are also reviewed and those at Sydney airport were only recently amended. I had considerable correspondence on this matter.
The Department of Civil Aviation does sell electricity to tenants at certain airports, principally at the Kingsford-Smith airport at Mascot, on terms arranged with the power supply authority. Last year revenue from this source totalled £57,000 and this amount represents excess of sales over purchases. However, this is not clear profit as some costs of reticulation and maintenance are borne by the Department. The Department reviews all items of revenue at regular intervals and is currently operating under a recent Government directive to undertake a further complete review in the current year. Reference was made by Senator Benn to the purchase of a home at Montreal for our representative at the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
– How long have we had a representative there?
– To the best of my knowledge, since 1948. I was at a conference of l.C.A.O. this year and I was shocked to learn of the normal price of real estate in Montreal. Property there is very dear. Building construction is also dear because for some months of the year there is no building activity owing to the weather. I saw one building under construction and the contractors planned to cover it entirely with polythene in the winter so that construction could proceed under cover. This residence is comparable with the official residences of Australian representatives in various places overseas. It is nothing elaborate. It is large with room for entertainment which the official representative at l.C.A.O. has to offer on behalf of Australia.
– I wish to refer, under Division No. 135 of the Estimates, to certain practices of the Department of Civil Aviation. The first is the policy of the Department in imposing a fine of £2 for parking offences at airports. Some of us have had occasion to make representations to the Director-General of
Civil Aviation about this amount. The fine is £2 in Adelaide and I am informed that this is universal in Australia at air terminals. If a person takes his car to the airport to meet a relative or a traveller and leaves his car a few minutes over an hour he has to pay a fine of £2. In the cities of Australia the universal penalty for this offence is 10s. That is the amount of the fine if payment is made within seven days or whatever is the specified time. The amount of the fine at an airport is £2. There is not much that one can do about it unless special circumstances are involved and one makes written representations to the Director. He may then reconsider the imposition of a fine. There seems to be no good reason why these fines should be imposed. If a person wishes to leave his car at an airport in the 24 hour zone, he can do so on payment of the required fee. But he may drive to an airport to meet a plane and find that it is delayed. If he leaves his car in the airport car park for only a matter of minutes over an hour, he is fined £2. I hope the Minister will have a look at this practice. At most air terminals there are now proper and adequate car parks, with meters installed. The car parking facilities there are equivalent to the facilities in the various cities. I think the amount of the fine should be reduced. At least there should be a schedule of fines designed to meet varying circumstances.
I want to refer to another matter, in the hope that the Minister will do something about it. In the light of the Department’s annual expenditure of about £20 million, it is hard to justify certain of its practices. I refer to a matter about which I wrote to the Minister last year and which concerns some maintenance employees. They were tradesmen who were required to go from their central depot to work in the country, using a departmental car. During the night the car, which was properly housed in the hotel premises and locked, was broken into, and these men lost some departmental equipment as well as personal equipment. On representations being made, it was found to be impossible to get compensation for them. Some sort of insurance should be provided to cover such happenings. It seems reasonable to me that if workmen have to take their personal belongings to country areas they should - particularly if they use a departmental vehicle - be insured and should receive compensation for anything that is stolen.
Another matter that I shall refer to is already before the Minister. I mention it now only because, when he comes to consider it, there may be one or two things he does not know about it. I refer to the practice of the Department in making certain payments to its employees by cheque. I understand that this is done by order of the Treasury and that people who receive an advance for a trip to the country or a reimbursement of travelling expenses are paid by cheque. There have been occasions in industry generally, and in other government departments, when this system has been tried but has been changed on representations by the unions. The union concerned here gave me this matter to put before the Minister, and it is before him now. This is an inconvenient method of payment of employees who do not have substantial funds.
I come now to a general matter of information. I wonder whether the Minister can tell us anything more about the problem, on which he reported to the Senate some months ago, of the so-called dynamic stall of the Boeing 727s. 1 and other senators asked questions about this matter. The aviation adviser of a leading Australian newspaper referred to expert overseas opinion which suggested that those aircraft, when experiencing certain degrees of turbulence, were subject to dynamic stall and. advocated the use of what is called a stick pusher. The Minister detailed the expert advice that had been given to him. 1 wonder whether the Department has been in a position to make any sort of check of the performance of these aircraft in conditions such as those to which I have referred.
– 1 want to direct a few simple questions to the Minister in relation to Division No. 135 and, for a change,- 1 want to refer to my own State. Could the Minister tell me how far we have progressed in the allocation to Trans-Australia Airlines of the right to run a service to Bundaberg and Gladstone? In case the Minister does not know, let me tell him that Bundaberg is a wealthy town and that Gladstone is most progressive and is likely to become one of the big industrial centres of Australia within the next few years. I know that because some of its supporters are big shareholders in Ansett-A.N.A. the Government responds willingly, not to pressure by Mr. Ansett, but to any suggestion to push his interests forward, and that it has allocated routes to the detriment of T.A.A. In particular, it has given Ansett-A.N.A. a right to operate on routes pioneered by T.A.A. With the socalled rationalisation of airlines we have the Rationalisation Committee, which is composed of three people. We know who they are. Although there are three people on the Committee, the determining factor is the Government representative. We understand and appreciate the positions on the Committee of the representative of Mr. Ansett and the representative of T.A.A. Each is wedded to his own enterprise. That is why we think of the Government representative as the real adjudicator. I am not saying that the decisions of the Committee are unfair, but they appear to the average intelligent person- not to the person of average intelligence - to be grossly unfair.
– Order! The honorable senator must not impute deliberate unfairness to the members of the Committee.
– I am saying what the people believe. I am not imputing any unfairness to members of the Committee. I think they are fair within the limitations of their ability, their discretion and their discriminatory approach. I think they are completely fair when one considers those factors. I am asking the Minister whether it is likely, having regard to the fact that so much has been taken from T.A.A. and given to Ansett-A.N.A., that the Committee will give T.A.A. permission to conduct a service to Bundaberg and Gladstone.
Tremendous sums are to be spent at Tullamarine and at Kingsford-Smith airports, and we appreciate the necessity for that expenditure, but Brisbane airport - the airport of the capital city of a growing State that has the greatest per capita export income of any State in Australia - has probably the worst facilities of any airport in Australia in relation to its needs. It will be said that money has been expended there on runways and air safety devices. I appreciate those things and I know the necessity for them. I would sooner have a safe runway and adequate air navigation safeguards than a luxurious air terminal. But the people expect an airport commensurate with the size and the responsibilities of the State of which Brisbane is the capital. The Minister may remind us that it is proposed to spend a paltry £20.000 on an overseas terminal at Brisbane, but no-one realises better than he does that the buildings at Brisbane airport are igloos, built during World War II by the Yanks. They are still there 20 years later, and we do not know for how much longer they will be there. Irrespective of the facilities inside the buildings, there is nothing attractive about them from an architectural point of view and they do not adequately meet the needs of the airport.
Let me ‘ refer now to the airport at Bilinga. We know what the south coast means to Queensland from the point of view of tourist income. The airport building at Bilinga is a not unattractive little wooden shack, painted in attractive colours, but it is completely inadequate to meet the demands made on an airport terminal building. 1 would hate to suggest that there is discrimination in these matters on the part of the Government or on the part of any Minister in an endeavour to win seats in Parliament, but one looks at Rockhampton and sees how attractive is the air terminal building there and realises that the Government tried to hold a seat in that area when the tide was running against it.
Then there is the airport at Townsville. This city is one of the coming industrial cities of the Commonwealth. At the airport is a wooden shack which was dolled up recently. For years there has been on the roof a sign which reads: “ Do not stand on the roof “. I take it that this is not because there is nothing you can see from the roof that you cannot see from anywhere else, but because the officials are frightened that a person standing on the roof might fall through it. Do you not think, Mr. Minister, that some of your officers might have a look at these matters, exercising a sense of proportion and approaching them with the respect they deserve?
Another matter I want to mention concerns T.A.A. employees in Brisbane. Many of them are working below surface level. Although Brisbane for nine months of the year enjoys one of the paradise climates of the world - I do not deny it; I am proud of it - for three months of the year the climate can be trying. Men and women are working below ground level in inadequate space and under arduous conditions. Nothing is being done about this state of affairs. It has been suggested, I know, that air is being fed into this area but by the time it gets to some of the workers it is not much good. So, I ask the Minister to have a look at the matters I have raised and see that his Department is fair in what it does. I know that the Minister is particularly fair when he is in possession of the relevant information. The difficulty is that he does not go to the trouble of getting the correct information.
I suggest that he should ensure that his departmental officers allocate air services on a fairer basis than at present and that the Department of Civil Aviation should give to T.A.A. the chance to operate at Bundaberg and Gladstone. He should look into the matter of the terminal buildings .at Bilinga, Brisbane and Townsville. I know that some money is to be spent at Mount Isa. Incidentally this is not before time, when one thinks of the export income earned through Mount Isa and the low price at which copper is provided in Australia from the tremendous output at that centre.
The Minister should have a look also at the conditions of employees working for T.A.A. in Brisbane. I do not know of anyone who would work in similar conditions to those endured by these employees and who would possess the loyalty that these people show to T.A.A. Many of them have been working for T.A.A. since 1947, 1948 or 1949, and through the 1950’s. Their loyalty can be tested too much if further services are taken away from the airline. Many of the employees of T.A.A., when they find that 72 per cent, of all air routes is being allocated to Ansett-A.N.A., are beginning to wonder why they should be so loyal to the alleged people’s airline controlled by the Government in the interests of Ansett-A.N.A.
– I refer to page 63 of the Civil Aviation Report 1964-65. Under the heading “ Business Management “ I find -
Business concessions revenue rose by 28.61% in 1964-65.
Revenue from ground transportation - service stations, car rental and contract parking - was £39,000 in that year while food and liquor - buffets, restaurants, cocktail lounges and kiosks - provided £99,000 in revenue. Shops and services provided £98,000 in revenue whilst receipts from advertising were £15,000. The gross car parking revenue, including penalties paid, was £185,000. I ask the Minister whether he has a breakdown of the amount of £185,000. What was the amount paid for car parking facilities, and what was the amount paid in penalties?
I should like to refer also to the matter of food and liquor. The buffets, restaurants, cocktail lounges and kiosks al the major airports can be described as organised, government-sponsored, clip joints. I spend quite a lot of time, as many honorable senators do, waiting at our major air terminals for aircraft and connecting services. I think the charges which are being imposed by some concessionnaires at the airports are shameful, even scandalous. An airline if it is unable to supply a meal on an aircraft through delay, through the lack of a connecting aircraft or through the service not being co-ordinated, gives the passenger a ticket to enable him to obtain a meal at one of these, places. The ticket entitles the passenger to a meal at the cost of the meal provided on the plane. The food provided is quite good and wholesome - soup, a cutlet and a sweet for 12s. 6d. But if a passenger looks on the other side in the menu - and people’s tastes vary - he finds that the cost of poultry, steaks, joints or other meats is from 15s. up to 25s.
Last evening, a friend of mine invited me to have a drink with him at an airport. I reciprocated his offer. For a nip of whisky and a beer, I was charged 8s. 6d. I am quite certain that if there was competition in these places I would not have been charged 8s. 6d. for those two drinks. Assuming that the whisky cost 5s. - that is allowing a 1 50 per cent, to 200 per cent, mark-up and assuming also that the beer was 3s. or 3s. 6d., I consider that there is a pretty fair mark-up on both drinks. The principle I am trying to establish is this: When such a concession is given to one company, members of the travelling public are treated as a bunch of suckers for the company. The travelling public has no protection. It has no self defence. The only thing to do is to go without - in other words, mortification. Why are these concessions granted7 Why is the Department of Civil Aviation supplying these facilities? I must say that, in these undertakings, the furnishings are attractive and the facilities are all that could be desired. I do not know whether the Department or the concessionaire supplies these things. But once the traveller comes into the parlour - I recall what the spider said to the fly - he is hit as hard as he can be by the concessionnaire.
The revenue received from business concessions in 1964-65 was £436,000. This is another imposition upon the air traveller. He is contributing towards government revenue whereas the cost should be spread over the whole community. We must admit that the Department of Civil Aviation is giving a fair go in obtaining some revenue from aerodrome charges in return for its vast expenditure. But I believe that a little discreet surveillance should be exercised by the administrators of the Department to see that the public is not clipped and fleeced to the extent it is now by these concession.naires. I have noticed that the shops on the ground floor of airports, which sell souvenirs, cigarettes, tobacco and the like, are very competitive. They have to be because the passenger traffic passing by knows the prices of these items. But- once a passenger gets off the beaten track and enters a restaurant or bar, he becomes the unfair target of the concessionnaires. This is a matter which should be given careful consideration. A decision should be made as to what charge is fair for these people to make rather than allowing them to write their own tickets.
An airport would possibly be one of the only places in Australia where people, by circumstances outside their control, are in an environment where they need the services to which I have referred. There is only one operator in the game, so to speak, and he is not answerable to anyone. I suppose the Commissioner of Taxation has a look at his earnings once a year; otherwise, no-one knows what is going on. A passenger has no alternative but to go to these concession.naires. When a passenger goes to one of these places, he might as well take out his cheque book, put it on the table and say to the concessionnaire: “ Fill in the amount and 1 will sign.”
I want to refer to the advertising in aircraft of services provided by concessionaires. This applies to Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty. Ltd. and to hire car operators in general. There are people in the States, particularly in the tourist-conscious States, who are engaged in the business of car renting. It is a great convenience to members of the travelling public to be able to hire a car and also to know where they can get one. I do not think that the concessionaires, particularly Avis Rent-a-Car, should have the exclusive right to have their hire car services plugged by the hostesses on every trip to the people who are strapped in their seals in a confined area. The hostesses should say: “Hire car services are readily available for you at the terminal.” Other people engaged in the rent-a-car business are pushed outside the airport fence or are forced to operate from a little hut down the road because of the all powerful Avis Rent-a-Car System. The travelling public should be told that adequate hire car facilities are available without this plug being given all the time.
– Are not these matters provided for by agreement between Avis Rent-a-Car System and the two airline companies?
– Evidently they are. I want, to know whether the airlines get anything out of it.
– Does the honorable senator think that the two airline operators would enter into an agreement if they did not get anything out of it?
– The Department of Civil Aviation in its annual report points out that it receives revenue from car rental and contract parking services. I do not know whether Avis is included in that category.
– Avis docs have some concessions with the Department as well as with the airlines.
-] believe that it receives a very big advantage. After all, Avis’s advertising is not confined only to the airports. It has the additional advantage that the travelling public is subjected to its advertising exclusively. There is a tendency for a monopoly to be created when one organisation gets a big advantage over its competitiors. That is a matter that should be considered.
The other matter to which I refer relates to the hire car racket. It was raised several years ago. We heard about people engaging in all sorts of altereations and disputes and practically having duels to get transport at an airport. This is another clip that results from a monopoly. By granting a concession to a hire car company, the people have to take whatever service is handed out to them and they have to pay the piper at the end of the voyage.
– They can always take a taxi if they want to.
– This hire car service is advertised within the aircraft. It is natural for people, who do not know about the taxi service, to engage a hire car. A law abiding citizen who wants to get a taxi can stand at the taxi rank until he is blue in the face. The taxi drivers come up to the terminal door, drop the passengers and sail past the people in the queue with comtempt
– I have booked taxis through the hostesses.
– The passengers cannot order taxis through the hostesses. The hostesses say that they cannot book taxis. However, I shall pursue this matter at another time. The hire car people have obtained this concession. Whether they get it through the airlines or the Department of Civil Aviation, I do not know. I am stressing the point that members of the public must put up with it because there is no competition.
– The hostesses will arrange a taxi for passengers at the Brisbane airport.
– They will arrange it at the airport but not in the aircraft.
– From the aircraft.
– The honorable senator has a better service than we have in the south. I think I have stressed this point sufficiently to direct attention to this trend that is developing. In one year the revenue which the Department of Civil Aviation has received from these concessionaire services has risen from £339,000 to £436,000. It is likely to increase still further because of the greater number of passengers using the terminals, the greater amount of Commonwealth funds being invested in ground facilities at terminals and all the other factors.
– Provided that the Department makes them available at other airport terminals, which it will not.
– In my home town, we have been treated more than well by the Department in this regard, and I pay a tribute to it. But I hope that the antiquated igloo which Senator Dittmer has to use as an airport terminal will be given first place on the replacement priority list. That is one of the greatest needs in civil aviation in Australia.
That concludes the points that I wish to make. 1 want to reiterate finally that a colleague of mine on this side of the chamber and I have been staggered at the prices charged, particularly in restaurants and cocktail lounges situated in the airport terminals. They appear to charge these prices with impunity, as though it is the accepted thing. No alternative facilities are provided where people can procure these things at more reasonable prices. People who do not want to pay these prices have to go without. I am sure that is not a policy that the Department of Civil Aviation would like to perpetuate. I think that its motto should be to provide service, the motto of the Trans-Australia Airlines staff, used to be: “The schedule is important but the safety of the passenger is of the utmost importance “. Although the earning of revenue by the Department of Civil Aviation is important it is also important to provide a service for the .travelling public. I hope that the Minister will give attention to the matters I have raised.
– I have “not been in the chamber in the last half hour or so, and I do not know whether the Minister has yet answered, of whether he intends to answer, the matter raised by me last Thursday when these estimates were being debated. I referred then to the application of Ipec-Air Pty. Ltd. and various other companies for permission to import aircraft. The substance of the matter is contained in my Question No. 558, which has been on the notice paper since 2nd September.
– I had an answer for Senator Cohen but I did not give it to him previously. He asked about applications for licences. I presume, he meant air freight licences because there are hundreds of applications for licences to import aircraft.
– I meant air freight licences.
– I have received no further application, so far as the particular firm which Senator Cohen mentioned is concerned. I understand that that matter is still before the Privy Council. The only significant development 1 am able to report is that an application for the import of two Douglas DC4 aircraft by Comet Pty. Ltd. was recently refused by the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation.
The honorable senator asked what the Government is doing in this matter. I point out that the Government has no authority in this field. The Senate saw to that when it disallowed the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation. Authority lies with the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
– What is the DirectorGeneral doing about it? The Minister cannot get out of it in that way at this stage.
– I have told the honorable senator what the Director-General has done about it. He has disallowed an application by Comet Pty. Ltd. to import two Douglas DC4 aircraft. Senator O’Byrne raised one or two matters. He referred to the rent-a-car position. I understand that 10 years ago a particular firm entered into a contract with both airlines whereby they would broadcast over the loudspeaker the fact that they were prepared to make bookings for cars through that firm. I understand that the airlines receive a commission in connection with this arrangement. It is a normal business deal.
– Also, your Department has entered into a contract.
– I was coming to that. The matter of rented cars at airports is dealt with by public tender. The tender is let to the firm that offers the highest number of services at the highest number of airports.
– The Government has given approval for the expenditure of nearly £30 million on aircraft. Why did not the Minister extend us the courtesy of announcing the fact in this chamber instead of letting us read about it in the Press?
– I have answered that question. Apparently Senator Dittmer was out of the chamber at the time. I said that 1 finally got permission from the Cabinet for this expenditure at 6 o’clock last Thursday evening. That night I was here in the chamber dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, and that is where 1 should have been. During the course of the night I prepared the statement in question, and when 1 left the chamber I published it. It was not available while we were sitting.
– I want to support Senator O’Byrne in his reference to the very important principle of providing service to the travelling public. In his reply to Senator O’Byrne, the Minister did not refer to excess charges and that kind of thing. There is a very great tendency for the Department of Civil Aviation to stand aloof on these matters. It tends to adopt the attitude that it has a two airline policy and that it is up to the airlines to provide certain services if they think fit. If that is the attitude of the Department, I should like to see a slight alteration of it, without its having to put on too great a number of staff. Senator O’Byrne advanced the proposition that, the Department, has a responsibility in this matter, and I support him.
Let me’ refer to something that happens very frequently, lt happened on one occasion to my own family. Indeed, I have seen it happen on more than one occasion. Members of the public are likely to be offered inferior travel. I know that modern aircraft are being introduced, but in the older type of aircraft families are offered lounge seats for long flights across the desert. It ought to be incumbent upon an airline to say in such circumstances: “ We have not the normal first class travel available. Perhaps you would like to check with the other airline before you book your flight.” Most people are inexperienced in these things. The position is not so bad for us, because we spend half of our life in the air and we become used to delays and all the other things that happen. But families who are travelling are often put into this position and they find themselves having a very unpleasant rather than a pleasant trip.
Perhaps it is because human nature is as it is, but I note that the airline companies tend to operate for their own convenience and not for the convenience of the public. This sort of thing is very noticable if one is flying during the tea hour from Melbourne to Sydney. Because they have not very much time in which to serve the meal, the hostesses take orders for drinks before the aircraft leaves the ground. Doing that obviously enables them to serve drinks as quickly as possible. But when one flies out of Perth at twenty minutes past one, there is plenty of time for the serving of drinks and the order is not taken until the aircraft is airborne. Then drinks are served leisurely. Lunch is then served at half past two in the afternoon Perth time. If one is travelling through to Sydney, one finds that tea is served at about 4 p.m. Perth time.
Does the honorable senator not think that this is more a matter for the airlines themselves?
– I had been hoping that you were listening a little more attentively, Mr. Temporary Chairman. This is the very point I am making. I believe the Department’s attitude on this matter has. been that this is the responsibility of the airlines. I am supporting the point that Senator O’Byrne seemed to me to be making. I certainly push the point of view that the Department should demand of the airlines a certain standard of service to the travelling public. I do not think it is sufficient for the Department to say: “We have two airlines. Let them do it in the best way they can.” For the Department to say that it has a two airline policy and that competition will take care of the situation is not good enough. That is the point that Senator O’Byrne was making. Under the Department’s rationalisation scheme there is no competition; rationalisation is a complete contradiction of competition. What you said a while ago, Mr. Temporary Chairman, lends emphasis to the point I am making. The Department ought to take a far greater interest in this matter.
In relation to the granting of concessions, particularly for hire cars, there is too much of a monopoly. I agree with what Senator O’Byrne has said in this respect. Nothing would be lost by informing members of the public of the services that should be available to them. I mention that in the general context of what I am saying. Specifically, I make the point that the Department ought to demand a certain standard of service and that, when only inferior travel can be given by one airline, travel ought to be offered on the alternative airline.
– I did not reply to all the matters that were raised by Senator O’Byrne because he was good enough to say that he would like me to bring them to the attention of the Department. That is what I intend to do. In particular, he asked me the correct prices of the drinks that he bought in the instance in question. The price that he was charged seems to be a little bit out of line. I shall certainly take up with the Department all the other matters that he raised.
– I am wondering whether the Minister can give me some information in reply to the question that I asked. I mentioned four straighforward matters. Briefly, they dealt with parking times, payment of expenses for employees, compensation for loss of property, and the dynamic stall of Boeing aircraft under certain conditions of turbulence.
– I have before mc a split up of the parking fines. Of the sum of £185,000 received from car parks, the sum of £16,413 represents penalties for parking infringements. This is particularly relevant to Adelaide. Fines are imposed because we do not want the cars to stay there. As Senator Bishop knows, not much parking space is available at the airport. The idea behind the imposition of penalties is to keep cars moving.
– The penalty is only 10s. in the capital cities.
– There are plenty of streets for parking in the capital cities, but there is not a great deal of space around the airports. That is why these fines have been imposed. This action has been fairly successful.
– Is there price discrimination in this matter as between the States?
– It is the same price everywhere. I cannot answer the other two queries raised by Senator Bishop. I shall certainly make note of them.
– I again want to raise the subject of fares. It seems that certain additional factors that have been taken into consideration by the Department come out in dribs and drabs. When I raised this subject earlier this afternoon, the Minister said that among other matters taken into consideration in determining air fares was the extension of the depreciation allowance on aircraft. Whereas formerly the value of aircraft was written off over a period of four years, it is now written off over a period of eight years. The Minister referred to the depreciation of buildings standing on Commonwealth property, and he said also that in assessing the air fare increase the reduction in the price of fuel was considered. I suggest that a detailed statement should be issued by the Minister to the Parliament setting out all the matters that were taken into account so that the public may be satisfied that the increase determined by the Department was in fact justified.- 1 assure the Minister that year after year, despite improved techniques, the introduction of jet aircraft and reductions in fuel charges, there is public consternation at the constant pattern of a 6 per cent, increase in air fares. The Minister also said that he has access to the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.
– The Department has access.
– The Minister says that the Department has access to the figures of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. That is all very well, but surely the public should receive some consideration in these matters. The public is asked to bear the increased charges. In an examination of the figures of the airlines, does the Department ensure, for instance, that depreciation is written off at the same rate by each airline? Do departmental officers ensure that excessive amounts are not transferred to reserves? Do they compare profits and attempt to equate the percentage profit obtained by Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. Does the. Auditor-General see the figures of Ansett-A.N.A. in order to assess whether subsidy is correctly paid? If not, is the Minister prepared to make arrangements for the Auditor-General to make such an inspection? I raise these matters because of the concern of the travelling public at the manner in which increases in air fares are assessed.
– I assure the honorable senator that we make a close examination of all available figures. Comparisons are made of depreciation, and such matters, to ensure that nothing goes under the tent, as the expression has it. I point out to the honorable senator that the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. are made available voluntarily. There is no compulsion by the Commonwealth Government. State Governments administer their own company laws and although they could compel Ansett Transport Industries to give access to its accounts, they have not seen fit to do so. The accounts are made available in confidence. We examine them meticulously and they remain in our confidence.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to -
That consideration of intervening Divisions be postponed until after consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Attorney-General’s Department.
Proposed expenditure, £3,936,000.
.- I desire to direct attention to a number of matters during the discussion of the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. Many of them have been mentioned in the course of debates on the Estimates in previous years. They are matters which the Attorney-General, representing the Government, might have been expected to take up. They include law reform and the introduction of new legislation. The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) now has before the Parliament, in another place, legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and legislation to amend the Bankruptcy Act. We on this side of the chamber have pressed for action upon these matters for many years and we look forward with keen anticipation to debating the legislation if and when it comes before this chamber, whether in the present sessional period or next year.
Tonight I want to place emphasis on a matter which seems to me of the very essence of the task of the Attorney-General. We believe he should bend his mind to the problem of modernising our horse and buggy Constitution. In 1959 the Constitutional Review Committee, which comprised members of all parties in both Houses of the Parliament, submitted an admirable report to the Parliament in which, with the exception of certain matters on which individual members expressed reservations and dissents, all parties concurred. The report put forward not a party point of view but the result of the combined wisdom of the various interests which were at that time represented in the Parliament. And I believe it is high time that we had some indication from the Government that it is prepared to move to implement the recommendations of that all-party Committee.
I know that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has announced in another place that it is the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to take a referendum on what is called the breaking of the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives in relation to section 24 of the Constitution. That is not a new proposal because the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, Senator McKenna, has on the notice paper four bills relating to the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives. Indeed, the bills which he introduced have reached the second reading stage. I do not propose to canvass that matter except to say that the Opposition indicated its attitude to these problems some considerable time ago by the introduction of those four bills.
In our view this is only one small segment of the problem of constitutional reform. It is obvious that the Constitution of the Commonwealth no longer fits the needs of this day and age. The combined wisdom of members of the Constitutional Review Committee produced a number of recommendations which indicated with great clarity the subjects on which the Commonwealth Parliament has either no power to legislate or has a limited power to legislate - that is to say, a power limited to matters with an interstate aspect or, as has been said possessing “ interstateness “. The important subjects on which the Commonwealth has no power to legislate or on which itf power to legislate is in doubt except in relation to interstate trade and interstate transactions include navigation and shipping, civil aviation, capital issues, hire purchase, nuclear energy, scientific and industrial research, industrial relations, television and broadcasting, organised marketing and rates of interest on mortgages. These are not subjects which I have culled from a partisan approach to the problem. They are all subjects in respect of which the Constitutional Review Committee recommended amendments to the Constitution by referendum.
Why were these subjects a matter of such interest and such consensus in the minds of members of the Constitutional Review Committee? The answer lies in the fact that they represent subjects in relation to which the Commonwealth, in the second half of the 20th century, lacks full power to treat the economy as an integrated whole. At the turn of the century, when our Constitution was enacted, there were no telephones, there was certainly no television and there were no motor cars and certainly no aeroplanes. One has only to state these simple facts to realise how far we have moved since then. We are now in an age when men can walk in outer space at 18,000 miles an hour. We have moved into an age when the Australian economy must be viewed as a whole, not as six separate State economies. There is a complex of pressures which makes it necessary for the Commonwealth Parliament to be clothed with powers to deal with the economy as a whole at the national level, and with the sophisticated problems which arise in national and international relationships in this part of the 20th century. I do not deal with this matter from the standpoint of some kind of sectional interest, but rather to impress upon the Senate that it is imperative for Australia that the
National Parliament have these powers. Although it is often said in this place, it cannot be repeated too often that a referendum should be held at the earliest convenient opportunity with the object of seeking consent to confer upon the Parliament the power to legislate in these fields, especially those recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee.
Let me refer to restrictive trade practices. This has been a matter of public controversy and is the subject of legislation shortly to be discussed. I do not fix personal responsibility for delay in introducing this legislation on the present Attorney-General any more than I would on his predecessors. The Government itself is to blame. This is not a new problem. In fact it has existed, at any rate in a formal sense, since 1959 when the joint Committee reported to the Parliament and recommended that the Commonwealth should have an express power to make laws with respect to restrictive trade practices found to be contrary to the public interest. The present AttorneyGeneral has said this in relation to the constitutional power of the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with restrictive trade practices -
There are, of course, limits to the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers to enact legislation in this field. The present Bill takes full advantage of such constitutional powers as the Commonwealth, does possess, but there will still be a number of practices to which it will not be applicable. It is highly desirable that, so far as possible, there should be one legislative code governing trade practices, irrespective of whether they are subject to the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers or only to the power of one or more of the States. Accordingly, the Bill is drawn in such a way that it will be possible for State Parliaments to enact complementary legislation, in which event the administrative machinery provided under the Commonwealth legislation will be available for the purpose of the complementary State legislation. By this means, the need to draw fine legal distinctions between those practices that are, and those that are not, within the Commonwealth’s constitutional competence will be reduced to a minimum.
What will happen if the State Governments decline to co-operate in any Commonwealth plan to legislate with respect to restrictive trade practices? When this matter was first adumbrated three or four years ago, the Premier of my State, Mr. Bolte, said that it could not be assumed that Victoria would be prepared to pass complementary legislation. In more recent months ho has given the plainest indication that he will want to have a good look at anything that conies from the Commonwealth before agreeing to co-operate in the scheme.
The Commonwealth Parliament should not be in the position of- having to go cap in hand to any State Premier to ask for legislation to be passed to complement Commonwealth legislation in such a fundamental area as restrictive trade practices. I suggest with great earnestness to the Minister representing the Attorney-General that the subject of constitutional reform should not be allowed to wither on the vine and that the report should not remain pigeonholed as it has since 1959. The matters with which it deals are too important to be neglected. They are so important that they require the consensus of all parties so that a constitutional referendum may have a chance of being carried. That is why the Opposition in this Parliament and, indeed, the official policy of the Australian Labour Party, support the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee as representing the -lowest common denominator of agreement on this highly important question. That is why we would support any referendum to clothe the Commonwealth Parliament with powers enabling it to carry out those recommendations.
There are several other -matters with which I want to deal, but my time is very limited. I refer particularly to another aspect of Commonwealth legislative power, namely in the field of copyright. I direct attention again, as I have done in previous years, to the fact that the Commonwealth exhibits a singular reluctance to ratify the various international conventions in the field of copyright. Three such conventions remain unratified. There is the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention, and then there are two other conventions - one of 1 948 .and the other of 1961. Our failure to ratify these conventions has gone far to deprive Australian writers and publishers of proper access to world markets in the publishing and writing fields. I point out that the United- States and Great Britain have ratified these conventions. I believe that there is no real obstacle in the way of the Commonwealth coming to grips with the problem and legislating to ratify them.
Another matter is the Bankruptcy Bill which is now, at long last, before the Parlia ment. I do not want to say anything about that, except that no doubt the Parliament will welcome the introduction, after lengthy delay, of legislation which is designed to make necessary amendments to the Bankruptcy Act. When that legislation comes before us, we will have an opportunity to consider in detail the provisions that the Government has put forward. No doubt, some of them will be the subject of criticism. But in any event, it is a welcome sign that the Government is now legislating in this important field, which has been neglected for so long.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- These estimates provide for the salaries of many officers, including many highly paid’ officers. The Attorney-General’s Department is also a revenue producing department. For instance, in the field of bankruptcy ?214,781 was received in the last financial year. The Court Reporting Branch produced ?128,151 of revenue. Fees, fines and costs of court amounted to ?70,483. The Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright Office produced ?657,267 of revenue. Miscellaneous items amounted to ?45,117.The total revenue was ?1,115,799. That is a fair amount for this Department to yield.
I have no particular question to ask; but I would like to know about some of the fees that are charged. For instance, I take it that the revenue that was received through the Court Reporting Branch was for transcripts of evidence and other things. I would like to know whether those charges have been increased in recent years or whether the Branch is still making the charges that were made 30 or 40 years ago. Similarly, are the charges of the Patents, Tade Marks, Designs and Copyright Office static? Have they been static for a number of years or have they fluctuated? Are they fair or are they extortionate?
The estimates for this Department provide for the Commonwealth Police Force and the Australian Police College. I have a fair idea of the number of men engaged in the Commonwealth Police Force. I understand that they are stationed throughout the. Commonwealth. I have a fair knowledge of the duties that they are called upon to perform. They have woven their activities into the life of the Commonwealth and are indispensable. The total appropriation is of no interest at all. Nowhere in these estimates can I see the sum that was spent last year on tear gas. I just cannot imagine the Commonwealth Police Force functioning in all of our capital cities in 1965 without having at its command a fair quantity of tear gas. Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell me whether the Commonwealth Police Force controls any quantity of tear gas.
I wish to refer also to the Australian Police College. If this is a college for giving to recruits for the Police Force special training in legal matters and procedures, one must support it wholeheartedly. The Minister probably knows just how this Police College operates. It would operate in respect of recruits for the Commonwealth Police Force, but are the services of the College made available to State police forces? Can policemen be recruited in the States and sent to the college that is provided by the Commonwealth?
– I desire to focus some attention on Division No. 115 - Administrative, and particularly on the Parliamentary Drafting Division. One gathers from the Schedule of Salaries and Allowances that the number of main officers of this Division is to remain constant this year, but instead of two clerical assistants and steno-secretaries, as there were last year, there are to be nine this year. I should like to know why the number of these relatively junior officers is being increased in such a marked way while there is no increase in the number of relatively senior officers. For instance, the number of Principal Legal Officers, Senior Legal Officers, Legal Officers and Professional Assistants is to remain at 13.
Whilst I am on this subject of parliamentary drafting, I want to pay a tribute to the work of the Parliamentary Drafting Division. When one considers that for £80,000 the whole of the parliamentary drafting is done, one realises that we pay very little indeed for this highly responsible work. I am wondering whether the Government gives this work the consideration that it deserves. Is any effort being made by the
Department to train young solicitors in the art of parliamentary drafting, or does it hope to recruit officers from other States? From my own experience and knowledge of South Australia, I know that parliamentary draftsmen are in very short supply there, and I presume that the same circumstances apply throughout the Commonwealth.
It would appear to me that some effort should be made to train these officers, even to the extent of setting up a small training school for this very important branch of our service. Some consideration could even be given to getting the Australian National University in Canberra to go in for the training of parliamentary draftsmen because, apart from the Parliamentary Drafting Division itself, I should think, most of the major departments of State could well do with one or more officers skilled in the drafting of regulations. Therefore, I should like to know whether anything is being done to train young men in this work and, in support of what I ask in that respect, I should like to have some explanation of the big rise in the number of clerical assistants and steno-secretaries from two to nine.
– First, I have noted Senator Cohen’s remarks on the question of constitutional reform. I think the honorable senator will agree that this is and always has been a matter of great moment in Australia. The views which he has expressed on the desirability of constitutional reform in various ways - ways which were mentioned by the Constitutional Review Committee and other ways mentioned from time to time by other people - would be thoroughly supported by large numbers of people throughout Australia and thoroughly opposed by large numbers of people. They are of considerable political significance and they are of considerable national significance. I do not think that the Government is required to implement in whole or in part the report of the joint committee, but I am sure that these matters of national significance are not lost sight of by the Government.
The other point raised by Senator Cohen was in respect of copyright. All I can da in reply to what he asked is to read, if 1 am permitted, the words of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) himself when he was questioned in the same way in another place on this matter. He said -
Copyright is something on which i would hope lo have legislation next year. We- are, after all, getting towards the end of the session, and this is not a simple piece of legislation.
He went on to speak of the work in which he had been engaged. That is his statement. He hopes to have this legislation next year.
asked about charges for transcripts of evidence and fees in various jurisdictions. I am afraid that I cannot give him particulars of the exact charges which are imposed by the Attorney-General’s Department. If he wishes me to ascertain them, I shall do so and write to him. I can tell him that they have not been left static. On the information given to me by officers of the Department, the charges have been increased from time to time. I do not know the cost or amount of tear gas - or indeed, whether there is any tear gas - held by the Commonwealth Police Force. The Australian Police College is available for the training of policemen from the States. A senior officers’ course is held in the college each year. Policemen from the various States go to the college to do that course.
asked a question in relation to the increase from two to nine in the number of clerical assistants and steno.secretaries in the Parliamentary Drafting Division. This comes about because of a system adopted whereby, instead of having the whole of the typing done, as previously, in the typists’ pool, typists from the pool arc brought down and attached to the Division where, it is shown, they can do the work required more quickly and more satisfactorily. Senator Laught asked a question about the training of parliamentary draftsmen. There is no great recruitment to the Attorney-General’s Department from other States. In the last four or five years there have been, I think, only two such recruits, one from New South Wales and one from New Guinea, the rest of the draftsmen being trained on the job by the Attorney-General’s Department.
.- I desire to refer to two other matters. The first is in relation’ to Division No. 126 - Legal Service Bureaux. I note that the pro- posed appropriation for 1965-66 is £63,000, compared with an appropriation of £68,800 and an actual expenditure of £64,087 in 1964-65. To my mind, that would seem to indicate a decline in expenditure and I direct the Minister’s attention to it. I think that is symptomatic of the decline in the activity of the Legal Service Bureaux.
These Bureaux were set up at the end of the Second World War to cater for the very obvious needs of ex-servicemen who needed advice on a number of matters relating to their re-establishment in civil life and who did not have very much except their deferred pay to help them make a start in life. In those days, the Bureaux filled a very important function. They advised on all sorts of matters and particularly on the complexity of the landlord and tenant legislation in the early years after the Second World War; but there has been something of a restriction in the use that is being made of them and these Bureaux have never been developed into what, in my opinion, their true function should be in the long run. That is, as legal aid bureaux, not limited to assistance to ex-servicemen but giving assistance generally to needy litigants or people who run foul of the law. Their purpose should be to help such people who are on the receiving end of charges of one sort or another. They should help people who cannot afford to conduct their own cases, either civil or criminal, in Federal courts or courts exercising Federal jurisdiction. Ultimately, I think, that is the sort of thing at which the community should aim. In almost every State to my knowledge attention is being given to this matter of legal aid to those who cannot afford it. It should be a basic principle of our system of justice that no man should be denied full access to the courts whether it be in civil or criminal jurisdiction, and no man should be under a disability by reason of his lack of means in putting the most effective case he can to the tribunal which is adjudicating on his case.
– Does the honorable senator think he could get it through the Legal Service Bureau?
– I do not know whether he could but I think the. Commonwealth should have its own legal aid system with the details of administration and principle carefully worked out so that the important broad principle I was putting can be established and preserved. In other words this provision should be made so that, as citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, we can say with confidence and, if possible, with pride that the time has arrived when no man can say: “ I could, not appear in the court and I could not get my case properly heard because I did not have the money “. We read in the Press of much public interest in the cost of litigation, particularly in the civil field, but no doubt this exists in criminal trials as well. It is of great importance that the Commonwealth Government should not only not fall behind the States in its attention to the provision of legal aid but that it should take the lead in providing a proper system under which underprivileged people and people lacking the means to conduct their own cases could be assisted. I invite the attention of the Minister for Works to this because I think possibly from the Legal Service Bureaux there may and should develop in the future this broad system of legal aid of which I have been speaking.
There are two other matters I want to mention. One is a question which I have raised and which some of my colleagues, particularly Senator Toohey, have raised in previous years in the debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. I refer to the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council. I do not desire to recapitulate now the very strong arguments that were advanced on those occasions. I merely want to say that Australia having developed to a state of nationhood, it appears to me quite anachronistic that we should still be appealing to the Privy Council, and to a body of jurists, no matter how distinguished, some 12,000 miles away. Usually these appeals are made for the solution of some nice point of consitutional construction as to which the judges of our own High Court of Australia are much more skilled and experienced than are those eminent lawyers in the United Kingdom. I am firmly of the opinion and, indeed, the Opposition as a whole is firmly of the opinion, that the time has come for the abolition of these appeals.
I want to canvass with the Minister another suggestion that was made by the Right Honorable the Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom, Lord Gardiner, when he was here for. the Commonwealth Law Con ference in August and September of this year. That was the proposal for the Commonwealth Court of Appeal. His Lordship was referring to a Commonwealth of Nations court to which the various members of. the Commonwealth of Nations might appeal in substitution for the Privy Council. Lord Gardiner then said that he was authorised to say on behalf of the United Kingdom Government that if the members of the Commonwealth of Nations desired it, the United Kingdom Government would itself as a gesture abolish appeals to the House of Lords in order to make this Commonwealth court the final court of appeal. I am not personally advocating this as the solution, but I was interested to hear the suggestion put forward by so responsible a law officer of the United Kingdom Government and it seemed to me that the suggestion called at least for some kind of reaction from the Australian Government. 1 ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given to this proposal. It was canvassed quite freely, and indeed it met very considerable resistance, at the Law Conference in Sydney in August, but so far as I know there has been no indication from the Australian Government as to whether the pro.posal is regarded as worthy of consideration.
– The Committee is dealing with the Department of one of the great offices of State - that of Attorney-General - and yet this Department is treated as a Cinderella. Unfortunately the proposed vote under Division No. 115 covering administration, salaries and payments in the nature of salary shows that those persons who exercise responsible positions in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department are not paid as much as they should be. Some of the problems we have in this connection arise from this fact. A great error was made when in recent years there was a lowering of salaries for professional legal officers below those of the engineers. A standard was set then which flowed into other departments of State. The Attorney-General’s Department is concerned with matters such as the publication of Commonwealth statutes and statutory rules and I think it is time the Parliament made clear that the efforts being made to publish the acts and regulations of the Commonwealth are not adequate. The Joint Committee on Parliamentary and
Government Publications, which was set up by this Parliament, recommended that the acts and regulations be published in a consolidated and annotated form every five years. That recommendation has not been carried out. The last consolidation of the acts was for the year 1950, so we are now operating with a consolidation of the acts as of 1950, plus the annual volumes. This means that not only the average citizen but even the expert finds it very difficult to ascertain what the law of the Commonwealth is. These remarks apply equally to the regulations. This Parliament legislates, and the people are entitled to know what the legislation is. Under the present system of publication, they cannot know that.
Turning now to Division No. 120, 1 would like to know what is being done about providing proper accommodation for the High Court. I understand that the accommodation available in certain States, particularly South Australia, is not consistent with the dignity of the Court. When the High Court goes to South Australia the Chief Justice is accommodated in the room of the Associate of the Chief Justice of South Australia and the accommodation for the other High Court justices is even worse. That has been the position for far too long, and something should be done about it.
– Is South Australia the only State which offends in that respect?
– I understand that the position is worse there than in the other States. In Queensland - I will be corrected if I am wrong in this - the judges of the Supreme Court vacate their accommodation so that the Justices of the High Court may be reasonably accommodated. The situation in South Australia is in no way consistent with the dignity of the third branch of government in Australia,
– Now that South Australia has a Labour Attorney-General, perhaps the position will improve.
– I understand that the present Attorney-General of South Australia is concerned to improve the situation. We welcome the change of government in South Australia, and no doubt it will be welcomed in other quarters. The accommodation provided for the High Court is something that should be attended to.
I would like to know also why such poor provision is being made for the libraries of the High Court. The provision for the libraries in 1965-66 is less than the actual expenditure in 1964-65. The provision this year is for £5,300 and the expenditure in 1964-65 was £6,435. It is abundantly clear that the High Court does not have the library facilities that it should have. They are deficient in all States. Apart from the books themselves, something must be done about the provision of adequate library staff. In answer to a question which I asked in the Senate I was informed that the personal staffs of the Justices of the High Court are used to look after the libraries. Anyone acquainted with libraries would know that this is not a satisfactory position. Something should be done about it. If we expect the best from the various great organs of government, we must provide the proper facilities for them. Undeniably, the proper facilities are not being provided in this respect.
I want to ask next what steps are being taken to provide for the removal of the Principal Registry of the High Court from Melbourne to the Australian Capital Territory. Are plans being made for a High Court building in Canberra? If so, when wil! the Parliament be informed of what is being done, and when is it proposed that the move will be made?
I come now to Division No. 126 - Legal Service Bureaux. Some aspects of this subject were adverted to by Senator Cohen. I placed a question dealing with the subject on the notice paper, but although it has been there for some time it has not yet been answered. There cannot be justice in this community unless citizens are provided with adequate legal advice and assistance. If faced with criminal charges, they need to be adequately represented. If they have to engage in civil litigation, they also need to be adequately represented. If they have not the means to secure representation, in a civilised country it should be provided for them. In other countries of the world provision is made for adequate legal advice and assistance to be made available when necessary, but nothing much in that way seems to be done by the Government of this country.
I do not ask this by way of criticism of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), but why does not the Government make provision for an annual report to be made to the Parliament by the Attorney-General and by the Solicitor General?. How can honorable senators know what is happening in the Attorney-General’s Department and how can they know what is happening in the office of the Solicitor General unless reports are made to this Parliament? Why should we not know what is happening in civil rights in this country or in litigation in tax matters? Why should we not know what is happening in all the other spheres of the Attorney-General’s Department? It is about time some thought was given to the making of a report to this Parliament on the activities of this Department, so that we can know what is happening and consider it, and so that the appropriations for the Department can be dealt with in the light of some facts instead of in the complete ignorance in which at present we have to consider them.
– 1 feel that I cannot let the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department go by without making some reference to a matter that I have dealt with during discussions of these estimates over the last four or five years. I refer to the proposition that we should no longer have the Privy Council as a final court of appeal. I understand that Senator Cohen had something to say about this matter earlier in the evening, when I was not present in the Chamber. I have been informed that he stated that I have an interest in the matter.
– He spoke of the honorable senator in very favourable terms.
– That was very kind indeed. 1 feel that we should avail ourselves of every opportunity to discuss this matter.
– Order! Will the honorable senator speak up?
– For some considerable time I have been concerned about the fact that there is no significant provision to enable senators occupying back benches in this chamber to be’ heard. It seems to me that the provision of microphones in the second row of benches is adequate for those sitting immediately behind the microphones but is not good enough for those of us who have to occupy the back benches. Perhaps I am digressing from the estimates before us, but I felt that it might be timely to give some warning about this matter, which I feel should be dealt with. I hope you can hear me now, Sir.
– I can hear the honorable senator now. I also sit in the back benches.
– I feel that the time has come for us to divorce ourselves from the outmoded system of going some 14,000 miles to a final court of appeal in regard to legal matters in Australia. I know that there is a notice of motion on the business paper of the Senate, in the name of Senator McKenna, asking that we dissociate ourselves from the Privy Council as a final court of appeal. I am also aware that a similar motion was moved in another place and, surprisingly I feel, was rejected there. Indeed, I think not one senator in the Committee tonight would be prepared to stand up and say that the people of Australia in general want to continue to use the Privy Council as the final court of appeal. I would be interested to see a referendum taken on the views of the people on this matter. I am sure the Government would be astounded at the vote that would be in favour of severing that legal link which exists at the present time.
I am interested in an article in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of only a few weeks ago which has the heading: “Privy Council not for us “. The article reads -
Replying yesterday to an Opposition motion calling for abolition of appeals to the Privy Council, the Prime Minister said he favoured limiting the kinds of legal issues that could be referred outside Australia on appeal. Most people would go further. It is surely possible nowadays to have all questions of law affecting Australians decided in our own courts.
Despite its distinguished panel of British judges, the Privy Council provides nothing for Australia as a court of final appeal that our own High Court cannot provide.
That article in the Melbourne “ Herald “ indicates, I think, the views of the people of Australia as a whole. I am not sure, but I believe a gallup poll was taken on this matter some time last year. If my memory serves me correctly, more than 70 per cent, of those Australian people who were interviewed indicated their belief that Australia should no longer continue, to use the
Privy Council as the final court of appeal. It maybe said, perhaps with some degree of justification, that because Senator McKenna has a notice of motion in the notice paper, calling for just this thing, that we should not use the time of this Committee during the debate on the Estimates to canvass our thoughts on it. Knowing what can happen to these motions and. how long they can remain on the notice paper, I feel we ought to make hay while the sun shines. I again take this opportunity to remind the Committee that I am still of the same belief in respect of the Privy Council. I hope the day will come in the not too distant future when members of the Government will recognise that the people of Australia no longer want this court as the final court of appeal.
– I only wish to take a short period of the Committee’s time to refer to one matter, namely, the administration of criminal law in those Territories under the authority of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. I think it is not realised perhaps by a great many Australian people that the Australian National Parliament does have power to legislate with regard to criminal law in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. Likewise, I do not think that it is always realised that through having this power, and the status of the National Parliament, the Senate and the House of Representatives could do many things by way of bringing about considerable advances in the administration of criminal justice.
The particular matter to which I wish to refer briefly is with regard to the criminal liability of people suffering from some sort of mental aberration or mental deficiency. Most honorable senators are aware that a lot of discussion has taken place recently both in the courts of this country’ and in the courts of other parts of the world - certainly those parts of the world where common law is followed - in legal journals and in all sorts of other places where people are interested in these matters, on the inadequacies of the present rules relating to the criminal responsibilities of persons, of unsound mind. The M’Naghten rules which prevail in Great Britain, in a somewhat amended form due to some recent judg ments, and in Australia, are held, I suppose, not by all but by most informed observers of the situation to be totally inadequate, to be based on concepts which certainly cannot stand up to any analysis in a time in which such great advances in psychiatric medicine and psychological theory are taking place.
This matter was considered recently, I think at great length and also at great depth, by the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party which constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Senator Cohen. This committee has produced an excellent document on the criminal responsibility of persons of unsound mind. Recent decisions in England, of course, have somewhat varied the very harsh and stringent provisions of the M’Naghten rules. The new concept of diminished responsibility, which has found some favour in the House of Lords, alters the position somewhat from what it was previously. But I would submit that there is a job - and a very valuable job - which the Commonwealth Parliament and the AttorneyGeneral’s Department could do regarding this question. The Commonwealth Parliament is removed from some of the passion and violent discussion which takes place on a local level when matters of this nature come before a State Parliament. I believe that in this situation of relative isolation from the hue and cry of the State capitals there is the. opportunity for the Commonwealth Parliament to consider more dispassionately, objectively and logically some of these very important questions.
I am making no suggestions at the moment as to what particular reforms are desirable. I certainly would say that some reform is desirable and that some major reform in the present law in relation to criminal responsibility of persons of unsound mind is inevitable. But I would make the suggestion to the Minister representing the Attorney-General that the Attorney-General’s Department either initiate a public inquiry collecting expert evidence on this subject - of whatever form, I do not know - or that the Parliament might debate the question. What would probably be even better would be if some amending legislation could bring the matter before the Senate and the House of Representatives.
This is an important matter although relatively not a great many people would be affected if the Commonwealth Parliament did something about it. But I believe that because of the status of the Australian National Parliament and because of the international associations of the Parliament which are not possessed in the same way by State Parliaments, very great social progress could be made if suitable investigation or action was taken by the Attorney-General on this matter.
– Senator Cohen raised the question of the Legal Aid Bureau. I do not think a reduction of fi, 000 in the amount provided this year compared with the amount expended last year indicates that any significant falling off has occurred in the amount of work that the Bureau does. The work of the Bureau, as the honorable senator knows, is limited to giving advice to ex-servicemen except, I think, in New South Wales where it sometimes appears before the Fair Rents Court. That is the sole legal service which the Commonwealth provides and I certainly know of no decision or policy to provide more services as has been suggested by honorable senators opposite.
The question of the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council was raised by Senator Murphy and Senator Toohey. I remember this matter being raised in Estimates debates before and, indeed, at other times. Whether this should or should not be done, it would require, I think I am right in saying, an amendment of the Constitution for it to be workable in order to prevent an appeal from a State Supreme Court direct to the Privy Council. There again, this is a matter which, if it is to be done, will be announced as a fact when it is to be done. As yet, it has not been decided to abolish this right of appeal at all.
– The difficulties are not insuperable.
– I think that very few difficulties are ever ultimately insuperable, but that is not to say that they do not exist.
On the. question of the possibility of substituting appeals from the High Court to a Commonwealth court if we abolished appeals to the Privy Council, as honorable senators know, a fairly nebulous suggestion has been made along these lines. I do not think the sort of cases which should go to it were ever spelt out, or whether there was to be any limitation placed on costs and that kind of thing. There was a meeting of officials. They said that their governments would make a statement. All I say on this matter is that I am prepared to express a personal opinion. I hope that if appeals to the Privy Council are abolished, the Australian High Court will be the final court of appeal in this country.
Senator Murphy raised the question of making more frequent use of consolidated acts. I am informed by the Department that it is not as difficult to discover what is happening in the legal field and what amendments have been made as we might have gathered. An annotated volume is published and gives an indication of the amendments that have been made since the last time it was published. It is published annually. Senator Murphy also raised the question of accommodation for the High Court and he asked what was being done in this regard. He said that no provision has been made in the estimates for improving the accommodation of the High Court. There is provision in the estimates for improving the library of the High Court.
– Where is that to be found?
– There is a provision of £5,300 this year for adding to the library of the High Court.
– Where is it in the estimates?
– It is to be found in Division No. 120, subdivision ‘ 2, item 05. - Library books, journals and periodicals.
– That is a reduction of £1,600.
– If the honorable senator will allow me to continue, perhaps he can make his comments when I have finished. He referred to the matter of the libraries of the High Court. I have no knowledge of any complaints being received from High Court sources that the libraries are insufficient for their needs. As I have said, in these estimates there is provision for adding to the High Court’s libraries. This year, there is provision of £5,300 for this purpose, and last year there was provision of £6,900. This is not to buy a library. It is to add to the existing library which has been built up over a number of years. I have not heard it suggested that the library is inadequate for the High Court.
The other point which Senator Murphy raised was the question of the High Court ultimately being established in Canberra. It is known that the plans for Canberra envisage the High Court ultimately moving here, and it is known that a tentative site has been set aside by the National Capital Development Commission for the use of the High Court when it does move here. But the actual date on which that move will occur has not yet been decided. The point raised by Senator Toohey dealt with the same matter as that rised by Senator Cohen, that is, appeals to the Privy Council.
Senator Wheeldon referred to the administration of criminal jurisdiction in the Territories, particularly with relation to criminal responsibility. I am informed that the Law Council of Australia at the request of the Commonwealth Government has undertaken an investigation into this matter. It has undertaken to present reports on this matter and has, in fact, already presented one report on it. The subject of these reports is criminal administration in the Territories and the question of criminal responsibility.
.- I believe that the Senate tends to become somewhat lethargic when dealing with legal matters. I have listened silently to the many thoughtful contributions that have been made mostly from the Opposition side during the debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. I feel impelled to rise because one question has been raised which, I submit, is a matter of lively current politics. It is the question of constitutional reform. I hope that I will not startle too many of my colleagues if I remind them that the Liberal Party of Australia crusaded into power in 1949 with the great resounding plank in its platform that it would hold a convention on constitutional reform.
After seven years - whether they were fat or lean years I have not sought to inquire - a new idea occurred to those whose views prevailed in this matter. They said: “ Oh dear, no, we do not want a convention. We are the convention. Whereas’ the Founding Fathers went to the people and elected their representatives to mould the Constitution in the naughty nineties, now in the 1950’s we, the members of the Federal Parliament, are the representatives of the people. Let us select a joint committee. It will evolve all the ideas for constitutional review and reform which are needed and which would have been appropriate for a convention in 1949.” There was established, under the chairmanship of the AttorneyGeneral of the day, the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Review. It is pertinent to remind ourselves that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was an ex-officio member and the then Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, was his exofficio counterpart.
The deliberations of that Committee proceeded for some three years. A humble uncritical member might be forgiven for believing that the Prime Minister would have had cognisance of what was going on. But when the report was delivered it was sterile. Neither House of the Parliament has listed a day on which to debate the report. It has been mentioned from time to time in each House of the Parliament, but not one subject of the report has been listed for debate since the report was produced. I mourn to say that I am the sole surviving member on the Government side of that Committee. Senator Murphy seems to have the reverse idea, that some would not mourn if I were not the sole surviving member. I am not so robustly proud of the Committee’s report that I think it represents the be-all and end-all of this vexed problem. But, at least, parliamentarians might spare the time to devote a day or two to debate the report.
This is not the theme on which I rose to speak, but there are one or two matters that I want to drop into the ear of any member of the Government who today takes note of parliamentary debates or, perhaps, if instructions have ceased to be given to officers to take notes of parliamentary debates, we can come at it again next year. We had a debate last year on the vexed question of civil aviation in Australia, which showed that the lack of constitutional power was bedevilling the whole effort of this Government. The matter ended up in the High Court and, but for the change of government In New South Wales, there might have been a continuing stalemate, greatly frustrating the internal airlines of that State. One would think that civil aviation was a matter about which there would be no dispute and in relation to which constitutional reform might be an advantage.
Another such matter relates to companies. Many people could be forgiven for thinking, when the Constitution was originally drafted, that this Parliament was to have large powers in’ respect of companies. A decision of the High Court in about 1909 sterilised that view, and that power has lain impotent and paralysed ever since. If one takes even a passing interest in income tax and sees the machinations of evasion that are followed through the structure of what we call companies, and if one recognises the importance of income tax and all other forms of taxation that bear on companies, one sees what a satire it is that earnest consideration is not being given to clothing the Commonwealth Parliament with a power that is commensurate with its revenue demands and its commercial needs.
Let us consider the matter of restrictive trade practices. Does anybody really believe that, if this Parliament alone passes legislation in regard to this matter, it will have any real efficacy? The idea of having to get co-operation between six State governments and the Commonwealth Government before you can have effective legislation in the field of company law and restrictive trade practices seems to me to be a purblind outlook.
I have risen to my feet because Senator Cohen has raised the subject of constitutional reform. I am amazed that out of a consideration of these momentous national issues has come forth within the last few months only a tiny mouse. I refer to the proposed amendment of the Constitution to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives, in company with a proposal to alter the provision of the Constitution relating to Aborigines. This tiny proposal represents the current outlook of the Government upon constitutional reform. I remind honorable senators that I alone of the 12 members of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review took the responsibility of recording the opinion that it was imprudent to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives. I still hold that opinion.
The Constitutional Review Committee gave much consideration to the general status of the Senate. The majority of the members went so far as to evolve amendments that were based on an idea that was derived from the House of Lords, which is an hereditary House and which earned for itself the corrective of the Parliament Act of 1911. During the four years of the Parliament that was elected in 1906 no Government measure against the third reading of which the official Opposition voted in the House of Commons was passed by the House of Lords. One can understand the attitude of Lloyd George in 1911 when the House of Lords ventured to reject his great reforming budget.
The Senate is an elected House. I had the opportunity and the privilege within the last few weeks of reminding honorable senators that the Senate had equal powers with the House of Representatives in all respects other than in dealing with appropriation bills for the ordinary annual services pf the Government and taxation bills. The very kernel of the idea of federation is that each State should start off with an equality of representation in the Senate. The problem of resolving a deadlock between the two Houses occupied more of the debating time of the Federal Convention than did any other single proposal to which it addressed its mind. I state the position indefinitely and no doubt with some inaccuracy when I say that it was resolved that, if a bill were passed twice by the House of Representatives and was rejected by the Senate, the Government might seek a double dissolution. Then it was decided that, if after the dissolution the bill came before the Senate and was again rejected, the matter should be resolved by a joint meeting of both Houses.
It is for the purpose of resolving deadlocks, if for no other purpose, that the small States are entitled to retain the present relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives. One reminds oneself that, if there comes to that joint meeting the increased numbers that no doubt the democrats of the House of Representatives concede to be their future in the next 100 years, the number of senators present would be negligible by comparison. As I stated in my report as a member of the Constitutional Review Committee, whilst I would jealously hope that the size of the Senate would remain at from 60 to 80 members - that in my view being ideal in order to prevent log rolling and to produce purposeful debate - nevertheless as long as a joint meeting is part of the structure for resolving deadlocks between the House of Representatives and the Senate and as long as I have the responsibility of representing one of the less populous States, I believe that it is important that there should not be a breaking of the nexus between the two Houses.
The proposal to break the nexus between the two Houses - one of two proposals to be submitted to a referendum - for the direct purpose- of enabling the membership of the House of Representatives to be increased is something that I would be reluctant to inflict upon the country. I suggest that the idea that there are not enough members in the House of Representatives adequately to represent today’s population in Australia is a very short sighted view. I want to make it quite clear that I still believe that, until a joint session of both Houses of the Parliament is eliminated as part of the procedure for resolving deadlocks, the Senate must retain its strength as related to that of the House of Representatives. When .1. reflect that the purpose qf breaking the nexus is to enable an increase in the numbers of the House of Representatives, it attracts not one iota of my support.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I would like to refer to some questions I have asked which I do not think have been satisfactorily answered. I referred to the salaries paid to the fine body of officers of the Attorney-General’s Department. I am not satisfied that these people are being adequately paid. Speaking in general terms, I believe that the underpayment of these officers is militating against the efficiency of the Department. I wish to know whether proper consideration has been given to paying officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department salaries above the minimum that may be prescribed by award and whether, on the next occasion that salaries are considered, the Department will consider attempting to have paid salaries which are commensurate with the great responsibilities which devolve upon its officers.
I have also referred to libraries and accommodation for the High Court. I believe that this question also has not been satisfactorily answered by the Minister. He said that there have been no complaints about libraries. Does that mean that the High Court has expressed its satisfaction with the provisions being made for libraries? Does* it mean that the High Court is satisfied with the accommodation provided for it in places such as Adelaide? We are here dealing with the relationship between one branch of government and the other. It is not enough to say that no complaint has been received from the High Court. No-one expects that there would be. It is to be expected that an approach would be made and that the wishes of that branch of government would be ascertained and effect given to them. We cannot expect to get the best from our branches of government unless that is done. We see here the Executive answering the legislature and saying: “ No complaints have been made.” I am satisfied from my inquiries that the provisions for libraries and library staff and accommodation for the High Court are not consistent with the efficiency and dignity of the High Court. They are insufficient and inadequate. Something should be done in this respect.
I next ask: What is being done by the Government in connection with legal aid schemes? Where is proper provision being made in the Estimates for legal aid and assistance to persons who need such help in connection with Commonwealth laws and litigation in the courts exercising Federal jurisdiction?
Is the Department prepared to furnish a report of the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General? Other departments furnish such reports even though they are not required by statute to do so. If this Parliament and the people are to be properly informed of what is going on in the Department, it is time that a report was furnished as to its activities in various fields.
I turn now to the appropriation in respect of the Commonwealth Police Force. My understanding is that some little time ago there were most serious anomalies in that Force. Sergeants, were receiving higher salaries than inspectors. Contrary to tradition, plain clothes officers were receiving less than uniformed police. This was entirely inconsistent with the relativity which had existed over the years in the Commonwealth Police Force and other police forces. Have those anomalies been corrected? It is a matter which must give rise to grave dissension in any police force. We ought to be grateful that such a fine group of men has been enlisted in the Commonwealth Police Force. Through the activities of the Australian Police College, its officers have been educated in a way which should be an example to other police forces. The notion of broadening the minds of police officers by educating them in ways which are outside of what might be considered the ordinary scope of police officers’ work is calculated to bring them more into line with the ordinary citizenry and enable them to perform their work more efficiently. I consider that the money appropriated under Division No. 129 is very well expended.
Reference has been made to the Constitutional Review Committee. Does it not follow from what Senator Wright has said that now is the time for another convention on the Constitution? Persons inside and outside Parliament ought to be brought together. The States should also be consulted. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the last report on the Constitution and we have advanced in our relationship with the rest of the world. We are able to see ourselves and where we want to go more clearly. 1 suggest that the time is overdue for a second constitutional convention.
– I am reluctant to enter into a field which seems to be the preserve of the legal profession. However, I am concerned with the Minister’s reply on the question of legal aid because it seems to be a negation of an answer he gave tonight, when he said that the Department is giving certain legal aid to ex-servicemen. He said that he knows of no moves to extend that aid. If that is correct, I direct the Minister’s attention to question No. 538, which was on the notice paper for some time before a’ reply was furnished by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) on 21st October. I asked:
The Minister replied -
The Minister replied -
It is not’ known what aid is supplied in respect of Federal laws and what aid is given in respect of State laws. In that situation, it seems there is justification for my question. It is reasonable to expect’ that destitute people who wish to present a defence to a charge under Commonwealth laws should have the officers of the State available to them to supply legal aid. My third question was as follows -
The Minister replied.
My question put the proposition that the States are carrying this burden now and that it is becoming financially embarrassing for them to .give assistance to people who need assistance to defend or exert their rights under Commonwealth law. I asked whether this was not the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. In reply, the Minister said that he did not think this was an altogether bad suggestion. He pointed out that this subject is now occupying the attention of the Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General, and that the Commonwealth Attorney-General has undertaken to look into the proposal when certain material is supplied by the States.
We have reached the stage at which the Minister in this place says he knows of no move to extend the aid. I would not like to think that the matter was decided before the Commonwealth received certain material from the State Attorneys-General. They may be able to make out a case for extending aid to litigants who need aid in cases involving Commonwealth law.
I cannot emphasise this too much because there have been many complaints regarding legal costs. At present the States are giving assistance in, I think, cases in which litigants are destitute. The aid has not been extended sufficiently to meet the requirements of all people who, because of legal costs, are unable to defend or exert their rights in law. It is obvious that this assistance should be extended rather than restricted. The States are finding the provision of this aid a financial embarrassment. As the Commonwealth makes laws which require interpretation by the courts, the Commonwealth should meet some of the costs involved.
When I received the Minister’s reply to my question I was hopeful that the Government was on the road towards recognising this principle and would be prepared to meet some of the legal costs involved, but I am at a loss to reconcile that reply with the reply given tonight by the Minister. Perhaps the matter can be further investigated.
.- I should like to reply to some of the points which have been raised so far. Senator Murphy mentioned the salaries of members of the Department. These are fixed in the normal way by the Public Service Board, with the Public Service Arbitrator taking his place in the considerations. I cannot bind the Department on its attitude to the fixing of salaries in the future. I have merely mentioned the way in which they are fixed at present.
The honorable senator also mentioned court libraries. When I indicated that I did not think the High Court Justices had complained about their libraries, he asked me whether that meant that the Justices were satisfied. I do not think I can say that I know they are satisfied. They come along each year and tell the Attorney-General’s Department how much they would like to be allocated for annual additions to their libraries. It is improbable that every year they get exactly what they ask for, but this applies to other branches of government as well. However, if the High Court had a real need for some additions to its library
I do not think there would be any difficulty in having those additions made.
As to the anomalies which Senator Murphy said existed in the Commonwealth Police Force, I am told that these have since been adjusted. According to my information, they are not now in existence. The question of a convention of the Constitution is a matter of opinion, either personal opinion or party opinion.
– What about a report by the Attorney-General?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator about that. All I can do is direct the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the fact that the question has been raised. My officers have reminded me that some reports touching on the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, such as the reports on the bankruptcy law and the Commonwealth Police Force, are available. As I have said, all I can do is bring the matter to the Attorney-General’s attention.
Senator Cavanagh raised the question of legal aid bureaux. As yet, nothing definite has been put to the Attorney-General by the States, therefore, nothing definite has been put to the Government by the AttorneyGeneral. I want to make it clear that the answer given to the honorable senator’s question previously does not promise that anything will be done if anything is advanced, but the situation is that nothing definite has been advanced. Therefore, I know of no definite proposition on this matter.
– As one of the members of the Constitutional Review Committee, I enter the debate very briefly. On this side of the Senate, two of us survive - Senator Kennelly and myself. Of the other four who represented the Opposition on the Committee, three still survive in the Parliament - Mr. Calwell, Mr. Whitlam and Mr. Pollard. Mr. Ward, the fourth, has passed away. Of those who sat on the Constitutional Review Committee the Opposition is deficient by one and the Government is deficient by five.
I think it worth recording that at the outset the Committee agreed that it could not attempt to find a large area of agreement on all matters relating to the Constitution which could be raised. We agreed that we would make no recommendation which did not represent either a unanimous view or the view of a large majority of the members. In the end result, we presented 22 recommendations to the Parliament. Of these, 16 had the support of all 12 members, 6 of whom were from the Government side and 6 from the Opposition. Behind that recognition of the need for unanimity was a recognition of the fact that if the major political parties were divided on the submission of a matter to a referendum of the people there was little prospect, in the light of the history of referenda, of the proposition being carried. All members of that Committee gave a vast amount of time and thought over three years to making a contribution to what each of us thought was one of the outstanding needs of this country - to modernise the Constitution so as to enable the National Parliament to function efficiently in many fields.
There had been no decision by the Government of which I am aware upon any one of the recommendations until a few days ago, when one relatively minor matter, to which Senator Wright has referred, was selected for consideration at some future referendum. Yet all of those 22 items were important. We believed that’ the Government would make a decision on all of them. I ask the Minister: Has the report ever been considered by the Government? Has a decision ever been made to reject it? .There is a clear inference that the Government bas so decided because it has taken no action.
I say quite frankly that it is a calamity for this country that a report which embraced so many fundamental and important matters has been met with almost complete silence by the Government which set up the Committee. At least the Opposition supported its members. By unanimous vote of the Opposition in this place all of the recommendations of the Committee were supported. The Government has known since 1958 or 1959 that if it embarked upon a referendum in respect of any one of the 22 matters it could command the support of the Opposition. That would guarantee almost one half of the electors. The Government would have to find only a very small amount of support in order to be able to carry it.
It is a tragedy that, placed as we are in a vulnerable economy, there should be doubt about the Commonwealth’s power to control restrictive trade practices. Companies, civil aviation and, above all, consumer, credit have been mentioned. How stupid it is that, whilst the Commonwealth has substantial power over banking and banking transactions, the ever enlarging field of the fringe banking institutions or financial institutions is a doubtful area of Commonwealth power. The Commonwealth is charged with the responsibility of guiding and steering the economy. I point out that there is only one economy in Australia. There are not six State economies. There is the one national economy, and it is for the Commonwealth Parliament, whether armed with power or not, to attend to. that economy. How stupid it is that the Commonwealth should find its hands tied behind its back in relation to this most important matter.
I hope to see some action in this matter before I leave the Parliament. I did what I could to stimulate interest a little over a year ago when, before the then pending Senate elect1* n, by the grace of the Government, I presented in this place four bills for constitutional reform, regulating the position between the two Houses of the Parliament, providing for the’ breaking of the nexus between the two Houses - Senator Wright has referred to that matter - providing for the prevention of gerrymandering, providing for a complete recasting of section 57 of the Constitution and providing for the resolution of differences between the two Houses. Surely the first thing to do is to put our own house in order: I floated those bills with the authority of the Opposition at- a time that would have enabled them to be presented to the people with the Senate election, at a time when political disputation was not high and when they might have been considered in a more placid atmosphere than would prevail when the fate of the Government was in issue. I was allowed to carry those bills to the second reading stage and they have remained on the notice paper for about 12 months without debate. They are still on the notice paper.
So, the Opposition has done, and done quite recently, something to endeavour to promote the. cause of constitutional reform.
I would be very happy to leave this Parliament with a feeling of something attempted and something done if I saw a fair modicum of the recommendations of that Committee translated into action. I believe that this is the greatest contribution that can be made to the good of the Commonwealth and to its stature. However, one must still wait and see. I hope that the Minister representing the Attorney-General will say quite frankly, if he is in a position to do so, what is the attitude of the Government to the recommendations of that Committee; whether the Government has really ever considered the report; and whether it ever intends to give the Parliament an opportunity to debate the report.
I merely pass one observation on the idea of a convention. If we had a convention, any conclusions it reached would have to come to this Parliament. No movement for constitutional reform can be initiated otherwise than under section 128, which requires that a bill be passed by this Parliament and, within certain time limits, be presented to the electors. The only effective machinery that will enable constitutional reform to take place will be initially legislation passed through this Parliament and ultimately a referendum of the people at which certain majorities must be obtained if the Constitution is to be changed. Being a born optimist, I still hope that I may live and remain in the Parliament to see something done in this important field of constitutional reform.
.- 1 did not intend to speak in the debate on these estimates. In view of the fact that the matter to which 1 wish to refer has been brought forward in this debate, perhaps it would be wiser for me to speak now. I thought my remarks might have been made appropriately in the debate on the estimates for the Parliament. I have been very interested in the debate that has taken place on constitutional reform and, in particular, in the point that Senator Wright brought forward when he spoke of his opposition to the breaking of the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The talk is that the House of Representatives will be enlarged and will continue to be enlarged, and that the number of senators will be retained at 60. I believe that Senator Wright has done a very great service to the Senate in speaking on this issue. I say here and now: Let there be no misunderstanding; 1 am certainly and definitely opposed to the breaking of the nexus. I was very pleased to see the Australian Democratic Labour Party also take that stand at its conference last weekend.
If the nexus is broken in the way that has been suggested, it will mean a gradual diminishing of the rights and powers of this chamber. There is no question about that. The House of Representatives will grow and grow in accordance with the desire to increase the number of parliamentarians. But this chamber, with the number of senators remaining at 60, will be of less and less importance from the point of view of the States. Senator Wright made a very important point when he referred to this desire for a change in the procedure when there is a deadlock between the two Houses, so that there will be a joint meeting and a majority of the members of the two Houses meeting together will prevail. That will do nothing more than create in the minds of the members of the House of Representatives a definite belief that, if ever a difficult situation arises between the two Houses, because of the party system which is stronger in that chamber than in this chamber the predominant party in that chamber will prevail.
I am quite sure that that is not what was intended by the founders of the Constitution in establishing this chamber. This chamber exists basically for two reasons. One is that it is a States’ House. Let us remember that had it not been for the creation of the Senate there probably would not have been a Commonwealth Parliament. No agreement on the Commonwealth Parliament could be reached until it was agreed that all States, irrespective of size and population, would have equal representation in this chamber. As Senator Wright pointed out in a very valuable way, by the process of increasing the number of members of the House of Representatives to a very large extent and keeping the number of senators at 60, the votes of senators from the smaller States will become less and less important and the larger States of Victoria and New South Wales will definitely overrun the country.
I believe that honorable senators on both sides of this chamber should be alert to this situation and to this extremely important aspect. When the founders of the Constitution set up our parliamentary system, they were cognisant of what could happen if this chamber were rendered powerless to fight. Senator Wright spoke about the House of Lords. Its members are not elected, but we can see how its powers have been gradually reduced. There are more and more demands to reduce them still further.
– Its powers are currently being reduced.
– Yes. It is up to those of us who believe in this chamber and that it has a duty to perform to see that its status in relation to the other chamber is maintained.
I am quite sure that, if a referendum designed to increase the number of members of the House of ‘Representatives goes before the people of Australia, they will want to know why we need more parliamentarians. One of my colleagues pointed out to me today that the New Zealand Parliament has 70 members. New Zealand has no State Houses of Parliament. There is no division of work. Both national and local issues are dealt with by the one Parliament of 70 members. We have six State Parliaments and the Commonwealth Parliament. Now there is talk of enlarging the Commonwealth Parliament. I believe that the people might well ask: Why do we need more parliamentarians?
– In the other chamber.
– Yes. If there are to be more parliamentarians, we as senators should stand up and say that we intend to maintain the present ratio of senators to members of the House of Representatives. We want to continue to be custodians of the rights of the States. The second important purpose for which this chamber was created was to be a House of Review. This being a States’ House, we should never see our powers diminish in relation to those of the other House. So far as I am concerned, I shall fight strongly wherever I can against the breaking of the nexus between the two Houses, because I believe that this is a move sponsored, to a very great degree, with the idea that the more populous States of the Commonwealth - Victoria and New South Wales - should dominate this country more and more. I hope that other Queenslanders and South ‘Australians, Tasmanians and Western Australians, will - be alert to this situation, that they will not fall for this, and that they will fight it wherever they can.
– Unlike some previous speakers, I shall try to keep within the ambit of the proposed expenditure under discussion. I direct my remarks to Division No. 115 - Administrative. I should like the Minister to consider what I am about to say. I remind him that I have spoken about this matter now for three years in succession, and very seldom have I been answered. I wish to talk briefly about the structure of the arbitration system. I remind the Committee that arbitration at present is under a very serious threat. It is important that the arbitration system built up in this country be as foolproof as possible. There was a time when the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, in discussing the basic wage, examined such questions as the number of singlets a man’s wife would want in 12 months and the number of pairs of socks and the number of suits that a worker could have. I am quite serious. These were the great problems which the Court discussed from day to day. Lawyers, of course, were quite capable of discussing them without getting outside the system.
Today, however, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has to discuss other matters. Very often, according to my own experience, judges are not fitted or trained academically in the right spheres, and have not the appropriate experience of industry to enable them to come to decisions. The modern court, when examining wage policy, has to discuss it in relation to balance of payments. It has to talk about the capacity of an industry or of industries to pay, and it has to consider other highly technical questions. As far as I understand the position, there has been no change in the structure of courts over a period of 50 years. Tonight, Senator Murphy has put up a plea for the judges to have more books to read - a bigger library. I do not think that the judges ought to have time to read books; some of them are too old to read. I seriously suggest that a structure on which the court can depend for independent advice ought to be associated with it. Judges, like everybody else, have their weaknesses. They go to football matches. I know of one who goes to the races. That is all right. They arrive at the court on. Monday morning and hear evidence, for the employer and for the employee. Sometimes the Government is represented. That is a recent development.
– It is on the side of the employer.
– That is right. So far as I know - I hope the Minister can assure me otherwise - the Commission has no independent source of advice. If it is to hold the respect of the workers, it must appear to be just. It cannot be playing around with economic principles in the way of the Commission that last considered the basic wage.
– It is not a court of justice; it is a court of law.
– All right, but it must retain the respect of the worker. I do not think that anybody could come to any other decision than that the decision of the Commission in the last basic wage case was unjust. It is admitted that within a month of the decision the cost of living rose by 24s. a week. In those circumstances, why would not the Commission become unpopular unless something were done about it? My solution is that independent economic advice ought to be available to the Commission at all times, so that it will not be dependent on the advice of counsel for the unions or counsel for the employers. In that way we would get correct decisions. It is quite wrong and not in the best interests of the Commission that such bodies as the Vernon Committee should utter lengthy criticism of the Commission for the very same reasons that I have expressed. Using different words, that Committee said, as I say: The Commission should take more cognisance of the economic effect of its decisions and should have a better understanding of them. I say that we could arrive at that situation by giving the Commission economic advice. It should not be dependent on both sides in the dispute. After all, there is a third side - the community. This is the way in which something should be . done to support the Commission. I ask the Minister to tell me, if he will, whether that has ever been considered. I understand that there is a type, of economic support for courts in the United States of America. I do not know about other parts of the world. This is the sort of thing that we ought to have in Australia if the arbitration system is to survive.
.- I rise because the Department that we are discussing has a vital effect on the ordinary lives of the people. I never dreamed that I would hear so many people connected with the industrial movement in this country express second thoughts about whether they should go on with arbitration. This is because they feel that the great mass of the workers is not receiving the justice to which it is entitled. In recent years governments, and particularly the present Government, have gone away from the practice of previous governments, which tendered advice on how they viewed the position and gave the court any advice and statistics that it required. Of course, in recent years the present Government has gone into the court in another way. It has not only sought to enlighten the judges on the state of the economy but has also taken a very definite stand and put a definite point of view as to what would happen if such and such a decision were given.
In the recent basic wage case, the thinking people in the trade unions had their confidence in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission badly shaken. Mr. Kerr Q.C. represented the Commonwealth Government before the Commission. Certainly he put a case as the Commonwealth Government intended and raised every obstacle to prevent the unions succeeding in their application. If such procedure is to continue in the future, the arbitration structure will not exist as long as I personally believe it should. The ordinary person is confused at Budget time when the spokesman for the Commonwealth Government points to the buoyant economy and declares that the state of the Australian work force has never been better. It is true that very few people are out of work. But when counsel for the Commonwealth Government appears before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the story is very different.
This is a serious matter. The nation wants peace in industry; otherwise the ordinary individual is faced with many problems. But how can we expect the great mass of the working people to be satisfied with present conditions of employment when they feel the effects of a tremendous increase in the cost of living with every possibility that the rise will be as great or even greater in the months ahead? I am amazed when I hear honorable senators keenly advocating an increase in the. number of women in industry. About 42 per cent, of the female work force today comprises married women. I cannot understand how any honorable senator can advocate in this Parliament an even higher percentage. Of course this situation has been brought about by the economic position of the average family. Unless one member of the family is getting a very high wage or there are two pay packets coming into the home, people cannot make ends meet. I am concerned about this trend and my feelings are shared by a great many people.
What does the future hold? I hope I am wrong but I am almost afraid to think of what will happen to the cost of living next February when the Government introduces a new monetary system. I think there will be an even greater rise in the cost of living. This is no good for the ordinary man in industry. He wants to work and he wants to sell his labour, the only commodity he has, on the best market. But there, must come a time when even the most responsible people in industry will not be satisfied to take what they are getting now. I have never been one to advocate industrial trouble, at least as the years have rolled on, but there are two sides to this question. I have been amazed to learn the details of one specific case. Drivers of Commonwealth Government cars drive the people who fix their wages. For a 40 hour week, a Commonwealth driver is paid about £17. This is outrageous in the light of the current cost of living. If the average Commonwealth driver could not work overtime and did not do everything in his power to get overtime, his wage in the light of current costs would be hardly worth while taking home.
One must wonder what are the thoughts of the average person in such circumstances. I do not want to see the arbitration system go. I remember what a valuable asset the Arbitration Court was in the bad years of the 1930’s. Nevertheless, not only must justice be done, it must also be manifestly clear to the average person that justice is done. That is not the case at present. If we are to retain the arbitration system, the Commonwealth Government has a duty to go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and give it all the information it desires; but in my opinion, the Government has no right to go into the court with its counsel and advocate one side or the other. All men are human. While appointments to the Commission are for life, certain other things operate.
If my knowledge of history is correct, the arbitration system was introduced in Australia about 1904. Certainly it has not been perfect. I cannot remember how many times the system has been amended. It has been a breaker of governments at various times since 1904; but in my opinion, it is a system that the people want and they will retain it only so long as we do not have the farce we saw this year, if I may say so with respect to those who passed judgment. When one picks up the newspaper at the beginning of a quarter and sees the rise in the cost of living for the preceding quarter, one wonders for how long we can keep the people in subjection. There are those who laugh when it is said that there are people in want in Australia, but I am vitally concerned with the position of young people who start off in life with a load of debt. They find that they are tricked when they go to the arbitration courts. What happens is nothing less than that. I fail to see where there is any justice for them.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the latitude you have given me. This is a tremendously important subject. I am worried about what is happening. I never dreamed that I would hear some men whom I have known for the best part of my life vary their views on arbitration and say that they would attempt to find something else. That may be one of the reasons why I try to say something in favour of the waterside workers. Whatever faults they have - and I admit that they have faults, as we all have - if someone had not blazed the trail those who are in what might be called black coated occupations would not be in the position they are in today. I hope we have seen the last of the days - I do not think we have however - when governments go into the arbitration courts and use their great influence, to the detriment of the unions, on those who have to make the decisions.
– I wish to deal with Division No. 124, Conciliation and Arbitration, “ item 1, salaries and payments in the nature of salary “. As I understand the position, the proposed appropriation under this item is -not for the salaries of members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but for the salaries of registrars and other officers. From the remarks of Senator Ormonde and Senator Kennelly, I understand that provision for the salaries of members of the Commission is made elsewhere, and that is .the reason for the rather small appropriation under this item.
I rise to say a word or two about the matter that Senator Ormonde has canvassed, to refer briefly to what Senator Kennelly has said and to make some general comments on conciliation and arbitration. In view of the hour, I will be as brief as I can. Senator Ormonde asked whether some expert body could be formed to advise and assist the Commission on matters such as the determination of the basic wage. I have recently mentioned the pattern of decisions of the Commission, particularly in regard to the basic wage. I think that what is needed is not more statistical or economic advice but a more practical assessment of our economic and living standards. As Senator Kennelly said, although in the recent basic wage case the Commission decided against granting an increase, since that time the Commonwealth Government has inflicted increased costs on the community through increased taxes. In addition, there has been a rise in the consumer price index. I am not against giving the AttorneyGeneral’s Department the maximum financial support, because I believe that the apparatus for which it is responsible can render great service in settling industrial troubles in Australia. The apparatus ought to be improved and there ought to be more conciliation and more conciliators. But what has happened at the top level of wage determination? In 1961 0r before that, the Commission rejected the C series index as a basis for adjusting the basic wage in accordance with variations in the cost of living and resolved to rely upon the consumer price index. It decided to hear submissions from the industrial movement once a year on the question whether the basic wage should- be adjusted according to the consumer price index. This operated quite satisfactorily and the apparatus for the unions to present their cases was streamlined. Consultations were held between the Commission, the employers and the unions, with the result that submissions in tabloid form were made. That is the sort of thing for which Senator Ormonde sees a need. These submissions were recognised by all the parties concerned and the information in them was presented to the Commission.
It is no surprise that, many people, including Senator Kennelly, have criticised the Government for saying initially that it would make only submissions to the Commission and then finally coming out against any increase of the basic wage. As the honorable senators will recall, we put on record in this chamber the minority decision of the Commission, which referred to the need to adjust the wage if the consumer price index showed rises of 16s. or 18s. a week. Mr. Justice Kirby said that the refusal to grant an increase was an injustice and that one could not blame the workers for saying they should have an increase. At any rate, that was the effect of his remarks. The minority decision followed the pattern of the Commission’s decisions since 1961, when it said that the consumer price index should be the basis for adjusting the basic wage.
As Senator Kennelly has said, unless’ we can satisfy the organised trade union movement and the people that the arbitration machinery can provide fair treatment for wage and salary earners, at some stage they will take other action to obtain the sort of redress that they feel they should have. So I suggest that what is needed is not more economic advice and tabloid statistical views but rather an appreciation of the position of the Australian workers in a situation of rising costs and in a situation where the Government itself says there has been a satisfactory rate of economic growth. Although the Government, inside and outside the Parliament and at international labour conferences, speaks about the satisfactory Australian arbitration machine, we know that the trade union movement and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which is a responsible national body, are not satisfied with the treatment they get. We are not against the machine as such, and we do not object to the appropriation being made for it, but we say that there is need for modification of it. There was introduced into the Parliament earlier this year a bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and to allow for more conciliation. That is where the Government should try to strengthen the Act. It should provide for more conciliators, because those are the devices of modern human relations which were promoted by the previous Labour Government and added to by this Government after representations from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Their work is very satisfactory in relation to industrial stoppages. That is the sort of work we want. We want more work in regard to human relations. We want more conciliators at work within the framework of the arbitration machine. We certainly want, at the top level, an end to intervention by the Commonwealth Government in basic wage cases, upon which rests the wage justice that should apply to the whole of Australia’s civilian work force from year to year. If the Commission does not provide that wage justice, there will ultimately be recourse to other action, including industrial stoppages.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I rise on the estimates of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and address my remarks in the first instance to the proposed expenditure in respect of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I certainly adopt and endorse all of the remarks that have been made by my colleagues, Senator Ormonde, Senator Kennelly and Senator Bishop, on this aspect of conciliation and arbitration. The estimates for this section of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department are very important indeed, although the amount of money involved in relation to the whole budgetary allocation may be small.
The estimates of this Department are of vital importance to the Australian people generally. Whilst we of the Labour movement believe in that aspect of conciliation and arbitration, there certainly are within the ranks of the working class and the thinking sections of the community today grave misgivings about the manner in which the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has given determinations. Senator Bishop has mentioned this matter. There does not appear to be any particular provision under this Division for the salaries of conciliation and arbitration commissioners. They are provided under another statute. I think this Government has to give consideration to the appointment of more conciliation and arbitration commissioners - men who have .a practical and realistic appreciation of the problems of the ordinary member of the community.
Senator Kennelly has described the economy today being based on a two pay envelope. In my opinion, this is a fair assessment of the situation. Senator Kennelly has stated that 42 per cent, of married women in Australia are engaged now in some form of industry. I think it would be fair to say that, if a questionnaire was given to the married women engaged in industry today, 90 per cent, of them would reply that they are at work merely in order to maintain a reasonable standard of living for themselves and their families. Therefore, I believe that a lay approach has to be taken by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission if it is to obtain and retain the respect of the ordinary members of the community.
Before I came into this Parliament I had great personal experience of the activities of conciliation and arbitration commissioners. I say unhesitatingly that each and every ohe of them contributes greatly to industrial harmony within this country. These commissioners contribute greatly to the industrial harmony of Australia because they have a real appreciation of the problems of the ordinary working man. In particular, those who come from the trade union movement are, in my opinion, the best conciliation and arbitration commissioners because they know better than anyone else the real problems facing the Australian worker today. I suggest to the Government that it should devote more attention to the aspect of conciliation rather than arbitration, if it is to give to the Australian worker and to the Australian people generally the measure of wage and industrial justice considered reasonable by all sections of our community. We of the Labour movement wish to see increased productivity. We wish to see increased industrial harmony and increased activity. But before, workers can have confidence in the decisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, they must be assure.d that the decisions are made not only on economic grounds but also on just and equitable grounds. Therefore, I appeal to the Government not to go before the Commission in future, as Senator Kennelly has pointed out it has done in the past, and stand pat on its arguments in support of employers’ claims that the basic wage should or margins should not be increased. The Government should have a reasonable appreciation of the problems of the ordinary man and woman so that they, the real producers of commodities in the community, will be able to understand that the decision that is being arrived at by the arbitration authorities is just, equitable and reasonable.
Great dissatisfaction exists among a great section of the trade union movement and the thinking element of the Australian community with the present system of arbitration as meted out by the Commission. I suggest that one of the ways in which to overcome this great dissatisfaction is to take the decision on wage fixation from the judges of the Commission, who have been trained in law but not in economics, and to carry the jury system into the Commission. Put . 12 ordinary men and women of the community into the Commission to assess the real needs of the Australian family man, the Australian worker, the Australian housewife. If that were done, I suggest, a real appreciation of the problem would be obtained, having regard to present day costs and other ancillary matters.
Let me turn my attention to the question of administration. I notice, in practically every branch of the Attorney-General’s Department, an increase in the number of stenographers or steno-secretaries. In the administrative section, two steno-secretaries are provided this year whereas last year there was none. In the Advisings Branch, there is provision for three steno-secretaries whereas last year there was none. In the Executive Branch, there is provision for five clerical assistants and stenographers. Last year there was none. Throughout these estimates there are similar examples. Therefore, one must come to the conclusion that, for some years, this Department has been labouring under great strain because of a lack of clerical or stenographic assistance. Bearing this in mind, I would suggest that some provision could well have been made for an increase in the higher echelon staff of this Department when we appreciate that a number of questions put on the notice paper by my colleague Senator Murphy as early as 14th September this year still remain completely unanswered.
The questions which have been addressed by Senator Murphy to the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) and which are on the notice paper represent matters, generally speaking, that could well have been considered and placed before this Parliament before the estimates of this Department became the subject of discussion. Therefore, I should like to know what provision is made within the Attorney-General’s Department for these questions which are placed on notice from time to time to receive expeditious attention by officers of the Department? For instance, I notice that one of the questions asked by Senator Murphy on 14th September 1965 related to schemes of legal aid and advice that now operate in the High Court or in State Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction. The honorable senator asked -
What classes of persons are entitled, what benefits are available and what conditions are imposed under those schemes?
Frankly, this is a machinery question-
(Senator Wood). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651026_senate_25_s30/>.