26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m.. and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate who is also the Minister for Supply. It refers to Woomera. Is the Minister in a position to make a firm statement about the future of Woomera in view of current Press reports and speculation that Great Britain might progressively and finally withdraw from existing arrangements during the 1970s? I ask: ls it a fact that the Commonwealth Government is seeking to interest the United States of America in allowing the Weapons Research Establishment to handle special United Stales projects which, it is claimed, can bs carried out there more cheaply than in the United Slates? I also ask the Minister: What other moves are current to ensure the continued operation of Woomera and the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury?
– I do not think that I can add anything to the answer that I gave the honourable senator last week. My Department is examining the proposals now. Discussions will take place with Great Britain on the problem towards the end of the year. I think that is what 1 advised the honourable senator last week. No decisions have been made as yet concerning a withdrawal or otherwise by Great Britain. The position is, as I explained to the honourable senator, that present work will carry on for 12 months and we will examine the position from then on. We will meet the British interests in Great Britain towards the end of this year to discuss the matter.
The honourable senator asked me also what other steps we are taking regarding the use of Woomera. He supplied the answer to his question by reference to the American contract which will bc closely examined and undertaken, as I understand it, by the Weapons Research Establishment. The tests will be at Woomera. Other countries are interested in Woomera because it is such a large land based range and if recovery of rockets is desired the oppor- tunity for recovery is available at Woomera. We are taking every step possible to see what business we can obtain to channel to Woomera. The immediate future - T refer to the next 2 years - is pretty busy. I do nol think the future is as black as the newspaper articles to which the honourable senator referred made it out to be.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. The Minister recently stated at Townsville that his Department was considering setting up an office in that city to deal with contracts and other departmental acitivities in that area. Has any decision yet been made to set up those facilities at Townsville?
– I think that 1 advised the Senate last week that during a visit that I paid to Queensland one of the places at which I called was the city of Townsville. My Department has been giving consideration to installing an office in Townsville to deal with the north Queensland area concerned with the Contracts and Disposals Branch and in the other work of the Department. Further consideration was given to including Papua and New Guinea which could well be brought into the purview of this proposed office. We have examined this matter and we have forwarded our recommendation to the PublicService Board. As soon as my Department receives a decision or a reply from the Board, I will be able to give some information to the Senate. At this stage, it rests with the Public Service Board to examine our request for staff and so forth and so on.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the Government meeting the cost of Mr Calwell’s overseas tour, including his visit to the Kremlin, in whole cr in part? Is the Government meeting the cost of the overseas tour by Mrs Calwell and Miss Calwell in whole or in part?
– -In deference to a very old parliamentarian 1 would not like to give the honourable gentleman or the Senate any information which was not correct. Therefore I suggest he put his question on the notice paper and 1 will obtain the facts. 1 am not aware of the position and, as I have said, I would not wish lo do any harm to an old parliamentarian like the former Leader of the Opposition.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for National Development noted the statement appearing in the Tasmanian Press attributed to Dr K. B. Fenton, Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Tasmania, who, after a recent investigation of nuclear power plants in Canada and the United States, claims that it has been established that nuclear power plants can produce electricity as cheaply as can hydro-electric plants, provided the nuclear plant is up to the scale of $100m or more? Has the Minister the means at his disposal for checking the correctness of Dr Fenton’s statement? If Dr Fenton’s statements were definitely established, would it not be to the advantage of future industrial development in Australia to use nuclear power and so avoid the monumental capital costs involved in the introduction of other methods of power generation?
– I saw the statement and read it with a great deal of interest because, being a Tasmanian, I am vitally concerned about these matters at present. I have obtained some information from the Department of National Development on this particular aspect. I am advised that in view of the huge range of costs applicable to hydro developments it is not possible to give a definitive answer. A nuclear plant costing $ 100m would be of about 500 milliwatts. According to latest estimates it would be capable of producing power in the same range of costs as apply to currently proposed base load hydro plants in Australia. However, it is not just the cost of the new power station which is the deciding factor; it is the total cost of integrating a new power station into an existing system. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission keeps fully abreast of developments in nuclear power overseas by means of frequent overseas visits and the exchange of technical information. I might add that when this matter of bridging finance was before Cabinet I asked this particular question of the Minister for National Development and
I was assured that at that stage the Gordon River development, which was then being undertaken, was an economically sound project. An atomic plant would bo of such a size that the State of Tasmania would not be able to operate it, but as development goes on Tasmania may be able to cope with a small atomic plant.
– Has the Leader of the Government noticed a report in the Australian’ this morning to the effect that the Premier of New South Wales has issued instructions that it should be a condition of New South Wales Government contracts that only cement produced in that State should be used? It is said that this is a protest against the trade pf an expanded Tasmanian company with the mainland in Tasmanian cement. Will this Government invite the Premier, in the interests ot interstate trade, to furnish information showing the conditions in New South Wales contracts so that this Government and the Parliament may examine the justification for imposing discriminatory conditions in favour of New South Wales cement?
– I did read the article to which the honourable senator refers. I did so with some surprise, having understood that under federation we had freedom of trade between the States. I would like to have the position examined. Therefore I suggest that the honourable senator place his question on the notice paper. 1 could not commit the Government to an investigation at this stage. As I said, I would like to have the situation cleared up. Really this is nothing new. Doubtless the honourable senator will recall an occasion when another State tried to ban the importation of Tasmanian potatoes. The then Premier found reasons why flour should not be brought into Tasmania. A deal was quickly made and traffic again flowed in both ways. This might happen once again.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs seen reports that concern has been expressed in West Germany at the action of the Greek Government in seeking to intimidate Greek migrant workers through the use of Greek Government agents disguised as welfare officers? Will he ensure that such forms of political intimidation are not practised in Australia?
– I have not seen the reports to which the honourable senator has referred. I have had no indication whatever that anything approaching that kind of thing has been happening in Australia. If it were, I am sure it would be ventilated in the Parliament and that we would discuss it.
– I will bring the question to the notice of the responsible
Minister and ask him to reply to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether the Swiss Terre des Hommes organisation has made any request te bring mutilated Vietnamese children to Australia for specialist surgery. If so, what is the Government’s attitude to the request?
– I cannot give the honourable senator an answer to his question, but I will bring the matter to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Immigration.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that the Australian Labor Party, if it becomes the Government, is obliged under certain conditions to withdraw Australian national servicemen from Vietnam?- What are those conditions? How would this action affect our defence pacts with other countries, including America?
– As I understand the policy of the Australian Labor Party, which was outlined with great clarity by Senator Cavanagh in this place last week, the proposal is that, if Labor should assume office, it would go to the Americans and demand that they cease the bombing of North Vietnam, that they recognise the National Liberation Front as being a party principal to deal with, and that they cease ali operations except holding operations. There was another condition which escapes me at the moment. They are the sorts of conditions that the North Vietnamese have been demanding for some time. That ultimatum would, of course, lead to a refusal. In that case, the Labor Party has said, it would immediately withdraw all Australian troops from Vietnam.
– Has the Leader of the Government seen in this morning’s Press a report that President Park of South Korea, in talks with Admiral Sharp, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States forces in the Pacific, has urged the United States to expand drastically the bombing of North Vietnam? Does the Government not regard this as an inappropriate time to suggest such escalation of the war, especially in view of the strong vote in the South Vietnam elections for Mr Dzu, an advocate of talks to end the war? Will the Government take steps to dissociate itself from the views of President Park?
– 1 always notice that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reads the things that he wants to read and does not read the things he should read. There was a lot of news from Vietnam this morning, and one of the items was in relation to the elections. I thought he probably would have wished to refer to that.
– I am asking about this piece of news.
– I. shall come to the honourable senator’s question in i minute. I want to refer to the excellent performance of the South Vietnam nation in providing the ability to carry out elections under the horrible circumstances under which it was forced to hold these elections, when Vietcong terrorists were trying to destroy polling booths, shooting people going to the polls and all that sort of thing. 1 think it is a creditable result that the South Vietnam Government has been able to carry out these elections with a poll of about 83% of the people, under the scrutiny of observers who one and all have agreed that the elections have been successful. This is one of the items that I would have recommended the honourable senator to read and digest as an indication of a real contribution towards what we are all seeking in Vietnam. As to the other part of the question, I have never heard of the gentleman to whom he refers. I suggest that he put the question on the notice paper, in which event 1 shall obtain an answer for him. I have not read this item.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in his capacity as Minister for Supply a question which is supplementary to one asked by my colleague, Senator Heatley. In view of the fact that the Minister recently visited Queensland industries, with obviously beneficial results, to learn of any problems connected wilh tendering for Commonwealth services and other requirements, can the Minister inform the Senate whether this admirable activity is to be or has been extended to other Australian States and, particularly, whether his Department has made a suitable survey of Tasmanian industry?
– As 1 think 1 indicated to the Senate last week, I hoped that we would complete a survey of every State in Australia. I mentioned Queensland. I should like to tell the honourable senator that I have a mission of three senior officers going to Tasmania in about 10 days or a fortnight for this very purpose, to see what can be done to encourage Tasmanian industries to tender for contracts that we let for the defence and other services. The purpose of all of this is to engender efficient industry and competition. These are two things that can benefit industry in the States and can benefit also the defence Services which are our customer clients.
– -I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. In view of the widespread interest in the matter, as indicated by the number of letters that I have had from war widows who were unaware of the position until I raised the matter here last week, will the Minister consider giving more detailed publicity to the conditions under which war widows may receive the $3 weekly supplement from the Department of Social Services? Would it be possible for a notification of the availability of this payment to be sent out with the fortnightly cheques to war widows?
– As a result of the question asked by the honourable senator last week, I have instructed my Department to provide a note to be sent out to all war widows advising them of their entitlement under the new legislation. I hope that this information will reach all war widows and that the honourable senator will not be faced with the task of answering as many letters as she has had to answer in the last week or so.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs by reminding him that the Geneva Agreement of 1954 between the French and Vietnamese forces provided for an election to be held in South Vietnam. Now that that election has been held, will the Australian Government in concert with its allies proceed at the earliest possible opportunity to carry out the other terms of the Agreement, including the withdrawal of all foreign armed forces from Vietnam?
– It is not surprising that the honourable senator has adopted a mistaken policy on Vietnam because he has just enunciated incorrectly the contents of the Geneva Agreement of 1954, which was signed between the French forces on the one hand and the Vietnamese forces on the other hand. The Agreement contained the general provision that when conditions made it possible elections would be held throughout all Vietnam. Consequently, a correct basis for the honourable senator’s question is just not there. It would be interesting indeed to discover whether the Communist rulers of North Vietnam would so far depart from their normal Communist practices as to hold an election of the kind which has just been held in South Vietnam.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate think that political democracy has been served by the curious conduct of the current Federal Liberal Party Conference, in that most of the proceedings are in camera? This is in sharp contrast to the open door policy of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party.
– I am interested in the honourable senator’s question. Of course, the great difference between the Federal Conference of honourable senators opposite and the Federal Conference of honourable senators on this side of the chamber is that when their Conference is held with its thirty-six faceless men plus the new eleven representatives, members of the Opposition must do what they are told by the Conference.
– Who said so?
– If you get out of line, you go out the door; that is how good it is. You have to do what you are told. The Federal Conference of honourable senators on this side of the chamber is an advisory body, as has been made perfectly clear to everybody. It is an advisory body to the parliamentary party, which makes the decisions, because the parliamentary party faces the people at elections every 3 years and answers to the- people. None of the thirty-six faceless men answers to the people. They do not stand for election as a body. They are not elected by the people and they tell the Opposition what to do.
– That is pretty weak.
– The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate knows jolly well that Labor’s Federal Conference lays down a policy and the Opposition has to accept it. Our Conference is an advisory body and the parliamentary party determines policies.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that heavily subsidised East German cement is being used in increasing quantities in developmental works in New Guinea to the great disadvantage of the Australian cement manufacturing industry, which it under-sells? Will he have this aspect of the cement industry’s operations examined while considering the implications of the question asked earlier by Senator Wright about the proposed ban by the New South Wales Government on the use of Tasmanian cement in New South Wales?
– I was not aware of the position referred to by the honorable senator. The Department of Customs and Excise in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is of course a separate Department which looks after the matter raised by the honourable senator. If that Department believed that cement was being dumped in New Guinea, as L understand the position the Department could deal with it. However, it is an interesting question and I would like the honorable senator to place it on the notice paper so that I may get more information for him.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by Senator Mulvihill and 1 direct it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask him whether his attention has been drawn to an editorial in the ‘Canberra Times’ which, contrary to the statement he just made, said that the people who took part in the secret meeting of the Liberal Party in Canberra last week exercised the most powerful influence on members of the Government in both Houses. If this is the case, how does the Leader of the Government in this chamber reconcile that statement with the answer he gave to Senator Mulvihill?
– 1 read not only the Canberra Times’ editorial but other Press articles concerning the conference to which the honourable senator has referred. The rank and file members of the Liberal Party elect their representatives and those representatives form a conference. Those people are worth listening to.
– Who are these important people?
– Of course they are important people and they are worth listening to. One great difference between the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party - and I repeat this - is that the Federal Conference of the Labor Party lays down a policy and the Labor Party’s parliamentary representatives have to abide by it or be turfed out. The Opposition knows that this is true. It cannot refute this statement. We on this side of politics are proud of the fact that the parliamentary wing of the Liberal Party makes the policy and is answerable for that policy to the people who elect it. We do not come here to do as we are told by an outside body, as happens with the Labor Party. That is the difference between the two Parties.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. The Minister recently announced that the controls on certain drugs imposed by Statutory Rule No. 114 were additional and complementary to steps he had taken last year to bring the drug LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs within the scope of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. Is the Minister aware that there have been reports that LSD is in use in North Adelaide, South Australia, as stated in yesterday’s Adelaide ‘Advertiser’? If such is the case, can he indicate any steps that the Commonwealth or the South Australian Government is taking, or can take, to prevent the use of this dreadful drug in South Australia?
– It is true that regulations were promulgated to deal with various drugs. Lysergic acid, which is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of LSD, was the particular drug I had in mind. The regulations deal with import control, that is, at the point of entry into Australia. I cannot answer for what a State government may do in relation to any drug or drugs within the borders of that State; but so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, very heavy penalties are provided in respect of the illegal entry of a drug into Australia. The Senate knows of these heavy penalties because it has passed legislation dealing with the prohibited importation of drugs.
I understand that the States, in accordance with their own responsibilities, are currently looking at the matter. Indeed, I understand that in certain instances the Slates are passing legislation. Regarding the particular instance to which the honourable senator refers, as I understand his question, the matter would come within the responsibility of the Government of South Australia and within its legislative power.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Can the Minister explain why there is such intense interest in the holding of free elections in South Vietnam and the removal of foreign troops from that country among people who have never shown any desire for free elections or the removal of foreign troops from Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, East Germany, the Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, North Vietnam, and a host of other countries that are under Communist rule today?
– It is scarcely fair to expect me, or anybody else, to give an explanation of the inexplicable duplicity and duality of the approach of the people to whom the honourable senator has referred. I am not sure to whom I could refer him for a more informed attempt to explain this odd approach. Whether I should refer him to some Marxist dialectician or to some psychiatrist, I leave the answer to him.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation give a reason for the Department of Civil Aviation permitting two commercial airlines to restrict each airline passenger to one freight-free luggage case, irrespective of whether or .not the passenger’s total luggage weighs less than the 35 lb of luggage per passenger that is carried free of charge? Is this not the fourth amenity which over the years the Department of Civil Aviation has allowed the commercial airlines to take from the travelling public, the other amenities being newspapers and sweets and free carriage between the aerodromes and the airlines’ city offices? Could the Minister tell us when all these little deprivations are going to stop?
– I regret that I cannot immediately give an answer to the honourable senator. Clearly the matter is a Departmental and administrative one. I most certainly will refer the question to the Minister and 1 hope to be able to obtain a prompt and satisfactory reply for the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs seen a recent report that Mr Whitlam referred to Australia as the only respectable ally of the United States in Vietnam? If so, is this statement a studied insult to New Zealand and Japan and South East Asian countries which have allied themselves with the United States? Is such a statement calculated to improve our image in Asian countries? Would it, in the event of a Labor Government coming into office, be likely to affect our good relations with South East Asian countries?
– I read a report that Mr Whitlam bad made such a statement and so far I have not seen any denial from him that that statement was made. The statement would upset our relations with countries in South East Asia. It is quite a rude and a blundering statement to make, considering the circumstances of the nations which are allied with the United States not only in Vietnam but in other activities and which are respectable by any standard.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, complementary to the question asked by Senator Scott and supplementary to the questions asked by my colleagues Senator Mulvihill and Senator Toohey. Will the Minister advise me whether the Liberal Party Federal Council of fifty-four faceless men now meeting in secret and behind closed doors in Canberra has carried a resolution directing the Government to commit an additional 2,000 troops to Vietnam? fs it the Government’s intention to carry out this direction immediately or after the by-election to be held in Capricornia on 30th September?
– I have been most courteous to the two honourable senators who have already asked questions on this particular matter. I thought that I made the position clear to the other two honourable senators. I referred to the thirty-six faceless men of the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Conference, but the Leader of the Australian Labor Party on one occasion called them the thirty-six witless men. I would not be so rude as that. I leave it to the honourable senators to absorb what the Leader of the Opposition said and what I am saying about it.
– Does not the honourable senator have an answer to the question?
- Senator Keeffe only wants to ask a question; he does not want to hear the answer.
– The honourable senator cannot answer it.
– I will answer the question if the honourable senator will keep quiet for a while. I have said in answer to two other honourable senators that it is the Parliamentary Party of the Liberal Party which makes decisions. When a decision is made the honourable senator and the country will be informed of it by the Government of this country.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, is similar to the one asked by Senator Kennelly. Is it a fact that domestic airlines are shortly to vary the method of assessing the amount of luggage that passengers are allowed to have carried free of charge and that this, in essence, will be a rise in charges in what is virtually a containerisation system as applied to passenger luggage? Before the change is introduced, will the Minister investigate the position so that the travelling public, who have been subject to rises in fares recently, will not have this additional impost put upon them, particularly in the case of long distance travellers such as those travelling from Western Australia to distant States?
– Clearly the honourable senator’s question is linked with the one asked by Senator Kennelly.I will see that the two questions are joined so that any answer that is given will cover the points made by both honourable senators.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry an answer to the question that I asked on 6th April concerning water sprinklers on war service land settlement blocks in the upper Murray areas?
– I have the answer at long last. I regret that it has been so long delayed. The answer supplied by the Minister for Primary Industry reads as follows:
Over thelast 2 or 3 years the salt content of the water being used for irrigation in South Australia has at times been greater than is desirable for citrus trees. It has been claimed that wetting leaves with this water has accentuated salt absorption by the leaves and is leading to undue premature defoliation and loss of crops.
A few growers have replaced their overhead sprinkler system with the so called drag hose or under-tree sprinklers on the reasoning that if the wetting of leaves is reduced to a practicable minimum the effect of salt concentrations might be overcome.
In the relatively short time that the new system has been installed by those growers, data based on leaf analysis and visual evidence of tree improvement suggests that the new system may have advantages. However, there is some conflicting evidence and diversity of opinion of technically qualified people on the possible longer term results of the drag hose system. Even the practical aspects of number of sprinklers per hose and the size of nozzle have not been fully assessed.
At present I am not in a position to make a decision on the request that war serviceland settlement lessees growing citrus in South Australia be afforded assistance to change to undertree sprinkler systems but full investigations are being made for me and I hope to receive a report on the matter in the near future.
(Question No. 156)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
With reference to submissions made by Senator Mulvihill in the debate on the adjournment of the
Senate on 7th March last regarding the imposition of a 5c per lb levy on sales of kangaroo meat, the proceeds of which should be distributed to the States for the acquisition of additional fauna reservations, what is the Minister’s attitude to this proposal which has Commonwealth-wide support from fauna conservation groups?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is the policy of the Government when requested by the industry to impose levies for purposes related to the industry’s activities. The suggestion of the honourable senator would appear to go beyond this.
(Question No. 248)
Senator McCLELLAND (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
What types of ammunition were delivered by the Department of Supply to the Department of the Navy in the last financial year, and what was the total value?
What types of ammunition were delivered by sources other than the Department of Supply to the Department of the Navy in the last financial year, and what was the total value of the ammunition received from each of the private sources?
Has any of the ammunition been rejected by the Department of the Navy ammunition officers as not fit for service; if so, what types of ammunition have been rejected, what are the respective values of the items involved and from which source did the rejected ammunition come?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers:
From U.S.A. - Tartar missiles,5 inch ammunition, . 5 inch Browning small arms ammunition, torpedoes. Total value- $3.682m.
(Question No. 262)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Will the Minister probe reports that tinted windscreens in some imported cars constitute a traffic hazard, as drivers with any tendencies towards colourblindness have such visual imperfections compounded?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No specific reports have been seen stating that timed windscreens in some imported cars constitute a traffic hazard. However, a recent study undertaken by the Institute of Highway and Traffic Research of the University of New South Walesfor the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport indicates that tinting of windscreens results in some loss of visibility at night. Because of the lower relative transmittance of red light compared with clear glass by tinted windscreens it may be assumed that persons having defective red colour vision would be handicapped. The Standards Association of Australia has prepared an Australian standard specification Rl-1965 - safety glass for land transport. This specification together with the equivalent British and American standards are the standards recommended by the Australian Transport Advisory Council for motor vehicle safetyglass in Australia. All these standards specify a light transmittance of not less than 70% for tinted windscreens. The incorporation of such standards in legislation is a matter for the Stale governments.
– Mr President, pursuant to section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922-67, I present the following paper:
Public Service Act - Forty-third Annual Report of the Public Service Board, for year 1966-67. and I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Report on Items
– I present the following reports by the Tariff Board which do not call for legislative action:
Ethylene oxide derivatives (Dumping and Subsidies).
Suspension file holders and parts (Dumping and Subsidies).
– I move:
I do so in accordance with section 48 of the Acts Interpretation Act which provides for the disallowance of any regulation made under an Act by the motion of either House within15 sitting days of its being tabled and, with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate sections 48 and 49 of that Act in Hansard.
– (1.) Where an Act confers power to make regulations, then, unless the contrary intention appears, all regulations made accordingly -
– (1.) Where, in pursuance of the last preceding section, either House of the Parliament disallows any regulation, or any regulation is deemed to have been disallowed, no regulation, being the samein substance as the regulation so disallowed, or deemed to have been disallowed, shall be made within six months after the date of the disallowance, unless -
Regulation 45 is in the following terms: (1.) None of the provisions of the Act apply to such of the agreements made by, or practices of, an organisation or body specified in the first column of the Second Schedule to these regulations as are specified in the second column of that schedule opposite to the name of the organisation or body. (2.) A reference in the Second Schedule to these Regulations to ‘canned deciduous fruits’ means canned fruits being canned apricots, canned peaches, canned pears or canned mixed fruits having a fruit content not less than 55% of which consists of one or more of the fruits specified in this definition.
The Second Schedule sets out organisations and bodies exempted from the Act in pursuance of section 106 (2.). They are as follows:
Ricegrowers Co-operative Mills Ltd - all agreements and practices.
The Australian Canners Association - agreements or practices relating to the marketing of canned deciduous fruits.
The schedule then sets out four other bodies whose agreements and practices are exempted. They are the Australian Dairy Industry Council, the Australian Dried Fruits Association, the Committee known as the Casein Equalisation Advisory Committee established under agreements made between the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Limited and producers of casein, and the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia. That regulation was made under section 106 of the original Act. The Trade Practices Act 1965-67 included a. provision which was introduced into the Trade Practices Bill in the early hours of 8th December 1965. At 1.20 a.m. on that day the then AttorneyGeneral, Mr Sneddon, moved an amendment to section 106 of the Act in these terms:
At the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: (2.) Regulations under this section may provide that all or any of the provisions of this Act shall not apply to or in relation to all or any agreements made by, or practices of, a specified organisation or body that performs functions in relation to the marketing of primary products.
In explanation the then Attorney-General said:
The proposed new sub-clause is clear in its terms.It seeks to give effect to one of the elements of the scheme as published by my distinguished predecessor, that is, to give exemption to statutory marketing boards.I am sure that the amendment is entirely in accord with the views of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam).
That was the only explanation given of the purpose of the new sub-section, except that later a question was raised by Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes about whether the drafting, insofar as it referred to all practices or agreements, was loose. A very short answer was given. But in relation to the bodies which were to be exempted there was no explanation, no amplification, no qualification, no limitation. That was accepted by the Opposition; there was no discussion of it by the Opposition. The clause was agreed to in the other place. The same thing happened in the Senate; it went through without comment. The position now is that bodies which are not statutory marketing boards are being exempted pursuant to a section the purpose of which, according to the responsible Minister, was to exempt statutory marketing boards. That is the first important ground upon which this motion is put.
– Has the honourable senator a reference to the section of the Act that deals with statutory boards?
– Does the honourable senator mean the particular section that I was reading
– I do not mean section 106(2.). One section specifically deals with statutory boards.
– The provisions of sections 38 and 39, which deal with examinable practices and agreements, set out what matters have to be taken into account in determining whether agreements or practices are examinable.
– I draw attention to section 6 also.
– Perhaps it would be convenient at this stage to tell the Senate that, in determining whether or not agreements are examinable, there are a large number of matters under section 38 which are not to be taken into account. In particular the section provides:
. regard shall not be had -
The regulation exempts the organisations concerned from the operation of the Act in respect of the agreements or practices specified or all agreements or practices. What does that mean? What is the operation of the Act? The purpose of the Act is to preserve competition in Australian trade and commerce to the extent required by the public interest. As appears from the Act and from the explanations of it given bythe present Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), except in regard to collusive tendering and collusive bidding the Act operates only in regard to certain classes of agreements and practices - that is, examinable agreements and examinable practices. Such agreements and practices areto be considered by the Commissioner of Trade Practices. If the Commissioner thinks it is necessary to do so, he may bring such an agreement or practice before the Trade Practices Tribunal for examination as to whether it is contrary to the public interest.
The Commissioner has a discretion that he must personally exercise, that is, a discretion as to whether he will so bring a matter before that Tribunal. Members of the public cannot bring cases before the Tribunal. The Commissioner cannot bring cases before the Tribunal unless he believes that the agreements or practices are contrary to the public interest, and he must in any event endeavour to consult with the persons who would be parties to the proceedings with a view to rendering the proceedings unnecessary. The fact that an agreement’ or practice is registrable or is examinable does not prevent the parties from observing the agreement or carrying on the practice. Only if agreement is brought beforethe Tribunal and some order is made by the Tribunal are parties bound in accordance with the directions of the Tribunal not to observe the agreement or carry on the practice.
The Act therefore cannot be regarded as a Draconian act. The complaint about the Act all along has been that it is weak rather than that it is strong. The discretions which are placed in the Commissioner, the provision that he must personally consider matters, the provision that agreements, although they must be registered, can be carried on until such time as some order is made by the Tribunal, very well protect the interests of those who might come within the scope of the Act. Then the question of public interest which is at the heart of the Act has to be considered, and considered in the light of certain definite standards which are laid down in the Act. Section 50 of the Act provides: (1.) In considering whether any restriction,or any practice other than a practice of monopolisation, is contraryto the public interest, the Tribunal shall take as the basis of its consideration the principle that the preservation and encouragement of competition are desirable in the public interest, but shall weigh against the detriment constituted by any proved restriction of, or tendency to restrict, competition any effect of the restriction or practice as regards any of the matters referred to in the next succeeding subsection if that effect tends to establish that, on balance, the restriction or the practice is not contrary to the public interest.
The matters that are to bc taken into account in determining what is the public interest are:
So those matters arc to be taken into account in determining public interest. The Opposition, the Australian Labor Party, believes in orderly marketing. We believe in it especially in the field of primary production. In fact, the history of Australia shows that the Australian Labor Party has initiated, guided and fostered the orderly marketing of primary products over the years. Labor members of this Parliament introduced the wheat stabilisation scheme. The Labor Party was responsible for the introduction of various orderly marketing schemes under the Acts of me States. Consistently an approach has been taken to foster orderly marketing in both the Federal and State spheres.
– A Federal Labor government was also responsible for selling cheap wheat to New Zealand.
– I am pleased that the Minister said that Labor was also responsible for something. I did not hear everything he said, but at least he implied that he is agreeable to the proposition I am putting, that Labor has been responsible over the years for the initiation, guidance and fostering of orderly marketing of primary products in this community. I do not think anyone would fairly dissent from that proposal. It has been the consistent attitude of the Labor Party and still is our attitude. We want to foster the interests of the primary producers and we are doing everything we can to that end.
The legislation before the Senate provides for preservation of competition to the extent desirable in the public interest. It contains provisions for the registration of agreements, the setting up - long delayed but now coming into operation - of a Commissioner for Trade Practices and Trade Practices Tribunal, and an endeavour to ensure that practices are not operated in the community which injure the public interest. When the discussions on these matters took place in both Houses there was no doubt that a great number of injurious practices were being operated in the community, including those adopted in the sale of petrol and oil, electrical goods and many other goods and services. Such practices, it was said, were grossly inflationary, had the tendency to inflate the prices of goods and services and fended to drive small businessmen out of business in a hundred different ways. The operation of restrictive trade practices is detrimental to the community. There is no doubt that certain restrictive practices might be justified as being in the public interest and the purpose of the legislation to set up a Commissioner for Trade Practices and Trade Practices Tribunal is to determine the question of what is in the public interest.
– Does the honourable senator believe that the wording of the Act precludes the inclusion of any of the bodies mentioned in the Regulations?
– The wording of section 106 (2.) in itself is wider than mere provision for statutory boards. The purpose of the provision was explained by the responsible Minister, the predecessor of the Attorney-General, who has now introduced the Regulations. He said that it was to authorise the exemption of statutory marketing boards. There is no question of that. The section in itself goes wider than that. But as it was put to the House and as he invited the vote of the House and received its unanimous decision in favour of the inclusion of the provision, it was to be restricted to statutory marketing boards.
– At that point he appeared to repeat what was taken into the Act in another part.
– He told the Parliament firmly the purpose of the new section. Clearly his successor has gone beyond what he told the Parliament. The present regulation has gone beyond the basis upon which the Parliament authorised the inclusion of the new sub-section (2.) of section 106.
– 1 was interested in the wording of the Act.
– Yes. The curious feature is that as the Act is to come into operation, certain bodies are to be exempted from it. Already one body has lodged a complaint that the practices of one of the exempted bodies are such as to call for action under the Trade Practices Act. The National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia has complained that the operations of the Australian Canners Association are not in the public interest. I want to set out briefly the contentions of the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia, known shortly as NARGA. Then I wish to state what I understand to be the answer of the Australian Canners Association. I want it to be clearly understood that the Opposition is not adopting the views of one side or the other in this contentious situation. I will explain why we take that stand.
NARGA states that it operates in six States and represents over 16,000 retailers, lt complains that the trading terms of the Australian Canners Association for the marketing of deciduous fruits constitute an examinable practice which operates against the public interest by promoting disadvantages to independent grocers and housewives. NARGA says that the Australian Canners Association is not a nonstatutory body. It says also that the trading terms of the Australian Canners Association as laid down in its official publication entitled ‘Canned Deciduous Fruits - Orderly Marketing and Incentive Discounts’, favour one section of the retailing community and discriminate against independent traders. It says that maximum discounts are available to national chains but independent group retailers and their wholesale warehouses which are capable of buying and stocking on a bigger scale than any national chain are not permitted to aggregate State purchases nationally. NARGA says that this creates a situation which is unfair to housewives; that in many country towns and outlying areas where no favoured trade organisation has shops the prices of goods must be dearer than is necessary; that the Australian Canners Association by discrimination in trading terms is controlling a market which in the opinion of NARGA it has no right to control; and that in various areas the competitive disadvantage could force independent traders out of business, resulting in reduced competition and higher prices to the housewife. NARGA claims that this tends towards a monopoly and is destructive of the present system of trading. It says further that normally retail organisations receiving unfair terms or discriminatory disadvantages can purchase from alternative sources, but this is denied to the grocers by the rulings of the Australian Canners Association.
– Have the grocers supplied the honourable senator with evidence to that effect?
– They say that they have a booklet entitled ‘Draft of Proposed Trade Practice Recommendations for the Food Industry’ which was published early in 1964 and circulated to over 300 manufacturers. In general, the manufacturers gave their full approval, suggesting only minor changes. In that booklet item 13 was headed Restrictive Discounts and Concessions’, and it stated that manufacturers were strongly urged to eliminate all instances of preferential discounts and concessions of all kinds. Retailers had no objection to quantity discounts as such but stated that the following points were essential features of discount policies.
A sub-paragraph of that item stated that these concessions, discount allowances for quantitative buying, must be offered and available to all retailers able to comply with the manufacturers’ stated terms as to quantity of purchase, delivery and payment.
As an example NARGA said that a nationally identified group - the example they gave was Four Square - operating autonomously in each State and purchasing $400,000 worth of canned fruits for each State, would be allowed a quantitative discount of 2.9%. Under the Canners Association’s terms a national chain purchasing the same amount, $400,000 for each State, would be allowed a quantitative discount of 4.9% because the individual State purchases would be aggregated to give a total of $2.4m. NARGA said that the Canners Association’s trading terms would not allow an organisation such as this one to aggregate these State purchases. NARGA said further that it wrote to the Canners Association in 1965 expressing the discontent in the trade regarding the terms and that it received a reply from the general secretary advising that the contents of the letter would be considered when the terms in the Canners Association’s scheme were reviewed. NARGA said it had no further correspondence from the Association.
That is what NARGA has said. 1 do not wish to be understood as saying that NARGA’s complaints against the Canners Association are correct, or that there is no answer to them. This is the complaint by NARGA. The Australian Canners Association represents the interests of a considerable number of canners. It represents also the interests of those primary producers who are distributing their products through it, as I understand it.
– Does the honourable senator have a copy of the Association’s constitution?
– I do not have its constitution. If the honourable senator would like one, I inform him that there are a number of members of the Canners Association here today and I think they would be able to supply one or could get one at fairly short notice.
– Ls the honourable senator expressing the view of the Canners Association?
– I am not able to put the view as sent to me officially by the Canners Association. As I understand the view, shall we say, of canners who arc members of the Association, their attitude is this: That whatever is being done by the Canners Association is in the public interest. They say that there is a great problem in Australia regarding the disposal of surplus fruit - indeed, the disposal of fruit which is normally produced - and sometimes there are gluts. They say that the terms of trading which they have are terms which :re necessary in order to enable them to dispose of this fruit. They are not concerned with discriminating between any one group of grocers or another - not between chains and independent grocers; their concern is to sell as much fruit as they can and on the best terms that they can obtain for themselves and for the primary producers. This is the way that they have sought to do so. They say they are quite satisfied that what they are doing is in the public interest. There is no suggestion on their part that they want to avoid the test of what is best for the public interest being applied to them. They say that they are satisfied that everything they are doing is in the public interest.
It is important that it be understood that the Australian Canners Association did not ask for this exemption. The resolution of this question of public interest is not a matter for the Opposition. It is not a matter for the Senate. As the Opposition sees this matter, the body to determine any such question would be one set up under the Act. Here is a question which has arisen between two groups as to whether terms of trading are in the public interest and whether there is anything happening which is in conflict with the Act. Surely the proper course is that this be determined in the ordinary way. If, at the very beginning, the complaint is made that one group is operating in a way which the other says is not in the public interest, surely the exemption should not be granted. As I said, in fairness to the Australian Canners Association, it does not ask for the exemption.
What then is the proper course for this Senate to take? The Opposition puts it that the Senate, without determining the question of who is right or wrong in this matter, should not agree to the exemption being granted. In further answer to the interjection by Senator Webster, whether I put the case officially or unofficially, I say that if the Senate were to carry this motion and to disallow the regulation exempting those bodies, it should not be taken in any way as a pre-determination by the Senate of the rights or wrongs of this matter. Especially in fairness to the canners, it should be understood that the carriage of such a motion is not intended to represent any view prejudicial to the contention of the canners. They should not be placed in a worse position than they would be if they had not been exempted in the first place. So if, as they contend, the canners can establish that what they are doing is in the public interest - and they are certain of this - then that ought to be adjudged not only by the Commissioner but by the public in general as being quite open and in no way prejudicially affected by any views or any decision of this Senate in relation to the exemption.
Therefore, Mr Deputy President, the Opposition has moved that the regulation be disallowed because it covers all of these bodies. No attempt was made - to deal with these bodies separately as one would have thought. They have been put in one schedule. If, as it seems to us, there is a proper case for not exempting the Canners, then the only action we can take is to disallow the regulation. So the entire regulation would go out. But assuming that the Government with respect to the other bodies would advance reasons as to why the exemptions are being granted, then the Senate might well take the view that if regulations were brought back in relation to each of them then such regulations would become law. But the course has been taken of lumping these bodies together so that in order to deal with one body, the regulation as a whole has to be disallowed.
– Is the basic objection to the reading of the Bill, the Minister’s comment or the canners association?
– The basic reason is that a complaint is made by a responsible and interested group who contend that the operations of the Canners Association are not in the public interest and that that group has a case which it would like heard on the matter. The grocers would like the Act to operate, in relation to the canners association, in the same way as the Act operates in relation to all other bodies. We in the Opposition do not want to take over the role of the Commissioner of Trade Practices and determine the merits of the case. I do not intend to express an opinion on the matter as to whether NARGA is right or the members of the Canners Association are right. I would be very foolish if I did express an opinion on that.
– The Australian Labor Party has made a specific decision to reject all.
– The decision that was made was merely to bring the bodies back within the scope of the Act so that these matters can be looked at by the proper officers or tribunal under the Act. Let us assume that the Commissioner says: ‘What the canners are doing is in the public interest. I am not satisfied that what the canners are doing is not in the public interest. According to the Act, I make up my own mind. I have to be positively satisfied that the actions are against the public interests before I do anything.’ If the Commissioner takes that view, the matter ends there. On the other hand, if he takes the view that what the canners are doing is against the public interest, surely no honourable senator on the opposite side would say that a situation should continue in which the Canners Association would be operating against the public interest. That is how simple the matter is. Whichever way the decision goes - and I am offering no opinion on it - surely when a substantial complaint is made about an association the body complained of should be within the scope of the Act; especially as this is not one of the bodies referred to by the Attorney-General when the power to exempt was given by this Parliament. Statutory marketing boards were referred to, and this is not a statutory marketing board.
– It is within the ambit of the Act.
– Whatever the honourable senator may say, that is what the Attorney-General said and that is the purpose of it. The first exemption comes up and it is not in relation to a statutory marketing board - and the association concerned did not ask for it. What does this mean? It is like that little finger hole in the dike where the Dutch boy had trouble; exemptions start coming through under this Act and then the situation arises where there is an exemption not asked for. It may well be that if the Act is not applied at the beginning there will be a flood. It is possible to have a flood at the Federal level by way of exemptions. It is possible to have the operation of this Act ruined if we start to give exemptions readily even where complaints are being made, and exemption could be given by action under section 38. To start granting exemptions readily without the most substantial reasons will mean action being taken under section 38 (b) of the Act where agreements are not to be regarded as examinable if they are of a kind specifically authorised or approved by, or by regulations under, a State Act or an ordinance of a Territory, except to the extent where they flow over into another State or Territory. Encouragement would be given to the white-anting of this Act all through the Commonwealth.
The primary producers should be especially interested in the Act being maintained in all its strength - even in such strength as it has. At least what strength is contained in the Act should be kept, because the primary producers will suffer if the law is broken down. They should see to it that they are not used as pawns to put somebody forward, and also see that various other provisions of the Act are not used to start a breakdown in the operation of the Act. If something is not done to prevent the injurious restrictive trade practices which are operating in this community the inflationary tendency will continue. The primary producers are the ones who will suffer from that, lt is in their interests that there shall be a strong Trade Practices Act. A very strong case is needed to establish the exemption of a body which is not a statutory marketing board, in a situation where somebody is complaining as the grocers are here, whether rightly or wrongly, that the activities of that body are contrary to the public interest.
I would ask the Senate to determine Ihe matter on that basis; not on the basis that anything that the canners arc doing is wrong. Let that be quite clear. The Opposition does not say that anything the canners are doing is wrong. It would be most improper for us to say that. The fact is that another organisation is saying that. That organisation says that it is entitled to be heard. One might take the view that it is perhaps in the interests of the canners as well as everyone else to let this matter come before the appropriate authority. The canners should be on the same basis as everyone else. They should be given the opportunity to present a strong case to show that what they are doing is in the public interest. Unless it were held that what they were doing was against the public interest, that would be the end of the matter. The converse decision would mean a simple adjustment of their course of action in order to accord with that finding, and that would be done after consultation.
We ask that the matter be dealt with on the basis that if exemptions are to be allowed in circumstances such as those applicable to the Canners Association, a white-anting of the Trade Practices Act will be encouraged. We say that the Act is weak enough already and that this white-anting should not be encouraged. It is to the interests of the primary producers, as well as all other sections of the community, that the Act be maintained, as far as it can be, in its full force and vigour. We therefore ask the Senate to support the motion on the basis that the carriage of the motion is not intended to be in any way prejudicial to the arguments or the standing of the grocers or the canners.
– I foreshadow now that within a very comparatively brief time I shall ask leave of the Senate to continue my remarks, which, if that is agreed to, will have the effect of adjourning this present discussion and will enable more detailed consideration to be given not only to the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) but to the very great implications involved if the Senate accepted the proposition put at the moment. I do not want to canvass this matter al: any great length, but at this stage I do think that those implications are very grave indeed for primary producers. Whatever the Leader of the Opposition may say about belief in orderly marketing of primary products and about support for orderly marketing of primary products, it appears to me that if this proposition, as put. were carried, a great number of our primary industries would be seriously at risk and the orderly marketing arrangements which they have enjoyed and the protection which they have wanted for years would be removed; certainly temporarily and possibly for a considerable period of time.
– Is the Minister suggesting that they could not stand up to examination?
– No. I am suggesting that there are orderly marketing schemes that have been in operation lor as long as 50 years in some cases, 40 years in others and 20 years in others, and that any action taken to weaken them is bad from the point of view of the growers of the products concerned. I will develop this at a later stage, but 1 suggest that there is residing in the Parliament a right to apply the specific provisions of an Act - whatever may have been said about the description not going far enough - to ensure that these practices continue and to form a judgment that in the opinion of the Parliament they are of overriding public interest and therefore that the Act that the Parliament has passed should bc applied.
Let me put to the Senate very briefly the case of the Australian Dried Fruits Association. For abour 50 or 60 years this Association has been in operation to protect the growers of dried fruits. It started off with statutory authority from Commonwealth and State. It was regarded as being of sufficiently great public interest lor that action to bc taken. But the operation of the Constitution overthrew that statutory authority. Therefore the Association has been carried on wilh support and encouragement from the Commonwealth Government. The Parliament appointed a Committee on Constitutional Review to look into all of these matters, lt consisted of members from this side of the Parliament and members from the other side. On the question of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, that Committee put the position very clearly in paragraphs 945 to 949 of its report. Paragraph 945 stales:
Some industries, valuable in themselves for providing employment, increasing Australia’s export earnings and helping to make Australia selfsufficient in foodstuffs, have to sell their products on the world markets in competition with countries where cheap labour is employed and low standards of living prevail. In these circumstances, Australian producers have to obtain a higher domestic price to cover their costs of production and the losses incurred on exports. Marketing arrangements in these industries directed to the equalisation of returns and an improved standard of product are particularly vulnerable to section 92. An example is the dried fruits industry.
Thai paragraph set out in a nutshell what the Committee on Constitutional Review saw as the importance of this kind of organisation. In that instance it was the dried fruits industry, lt also set out the difficulty that section 92 posed - in fact posed successfully - to what had been done previously by statutory authority.
– Can the Minister tell me whether that excerpt comes from the part of the report dealing wilh section 92 or the part dealing with restrictive trade practices?
– I cannot tell the honourable senator that off hand, but 1 will be able to tell him later. If the Senate agreed to this motion this protection for dried fruits growers would at least be at risk. That is one reason why I want to have time to examine the implications of what we are asked to do. But in asking for that time 1 give the assurance that the matter will be dealt with by the Senate and brought to a conclusion well before the expiration of the time in which what the motion seeks to do can be done.
I have given the Senate only one example. The Australian Dairy Industry Council has been in operation for 12 years, again with encouragement and support from the Commonwealth Government but without strict statutory authority. The Casein Equalisation Advisory Committee has been in operation for 20 years. It is put at risk. Ricegrowers Co-operative Mills Ltd has been operating to the advantage of the rice growers, particularly those in the Leeton and Griffith areas, for 17 years. It is not a statutory body, but a statutory body appointed by the New South Wales Government buys at an arranged price the products of the mills. These are all matters that require very considerable discussion in the Senate before it reaches a conclusion on this motion. The Council of Egg Marketing Authorities - another primary producer organisation that is at risk - has not been given statutory authority but has been recognised by three Acts of this Parliament. So clearly the Parliament itself has regarded many of these bodies as being of great public interest. It has enacted Acts admitting that great public interest and on occasions has been defeated by the application of section 92.
As far as 1 can see. the objections of the Leader of the Opposition to the bodies of which 1 have been speaking are based on a belief that if the Trade Practices Act were applied as it is written - as it is written it states that regulations under section 106 shall not apply to agreements made in relation to the marketing of primary products - that provision could white ant the whole of the Act. The Leader of the Opposition adds to that argument a statement - a true statement-
– I said that if the Government brought in these bodies in separate regulations the Senate might have no objection at all.
– There might not be any objection, but if this motion were carried now the Leader of the Opposition could not give any assurance that there would not be any objection. If this regulation were disallowed now, as it stands, would not that prevent other regulations concerning these organisations being brought forward in 6 months time?
– Not at all.
– I am not prepared to accept an on the spot legal opinion on that point from one source. I do not believe that the grower organisations would be happy about the risk to which they might be put by such action. Nor would they be happy about the definite and unarguable proposition that if this regulation is disallowed now there is no knowing that if it were brought up again - assuming that it could be brought up again - it would be accepted at that time.
The matter that took up most of the time of the Leader of the Opposition was canned fruits. At this stage I do not propose to go into that matter. I just wanted to give the Senate an indication of how important the implications of this motion are to so many bodies of primary producers who have had for so long the protection that this regulation seeks to ensure they will continue to have. Because of those implications and the other specific matters relating to one of the bodies of which the Leader of the Opposition spoke, I believe that it would be good if more time were made available for the full consideration of all the implications and all the possible damage that might flow from this motion. Therefore I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion to Disallow Ordinance
-Mr Acting Deputy President, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), I move:
It does seem a shame that a man so well liked by all should have his light dimmed and his lustre dulled following his transfer from the position of backbencher to a seat in the Ministry. We all recall - if I may be granted licence and permitted to use a mixed metaphor - how much at sea he was when he was in control of the land forces. I am referring to the former Minister for the Army who is now the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). I ask Senator Cormack, who is trying to interject, to let me complete my statement. We recall that in Tasmania - so vivid is it in the minds of most people that it is as though it happened only yesterday - the then Minister for the Army made the statement that there was no need for compulsory service and that there would be no compulsory military training, no conscription, no national service. A few days later the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, stated on behalf of the Government that there was to be national service training. As a result of that decision, young Australians are in Vietnam today.
Since he became Minister for Health, Dr Forbes just does not seem to have been able to handle the portfolio. I do not think that this is merely because he is a Doctor of Philosophy and not a Doctor of Medicine. I think that he just does not have a grasp of his responsibilities. The Minister could be envied by many who have not attended an overseas university as he has. Some of those who return from overseas readily pick up the Australian way of life and responsibility and also the Australian reaction. The Minister does not seem to be able to exhibit this responsibility and this Australian reaction. The result is turmoil in the capital territory of this country.
The Canberra Community Hospital has had a good record. At first it was under the control of the Federal Capital Commission. In 1930 it was placed under the control of the Department of Health. In 1935 a board was appointed to control it. That board consisted of five members, three of whom were appointed by the Government and two were elected. In 1938 all five members of the board were elected. In 1945 six members were appointed by ordinance of whom five were elected. In 1955 eight persons constituted the board, five of whom were elected and three appointed. Now has come this approach out of the blue whereby the Minister seeks to introduce this ordinance by which the hospital board will comprise five members all of whom he will appoint. The Minister will appoint the chairman of the board also. Why he does not see fit to nominate the deputy chairman passes my comprehension. The Minister is to appoint the five members of the board. He is to appoint the chairman. Why he does not see fit to appoint the deputy chairman I do not know.
To this decision there has been a great reaction - so much so that the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council since June this year has taken the matter up with the Minister for Health. As recently as last night an emergency meeting of the Advisory Council was held at which certain letters were received. I intend to quote those letters which bring the question so close to the people and, so, before the Senate.
As I have said, an emergency meeting of the Advisory Council was held last night. The position is described in the words of this report:
That is, the Minister for Health:
U added: ‘In the absence of directly elected representatives to these bodies council requests the Minister for the Interior, Mr Anthony, to ask the Minister for Health to make provision for the appointment of representatives from the ACT Advisory Council.’
Last week Mr Anthony passed to the council the subject of its special meeting last night, a letter from Dr Forbes written on August 28.
That was last week. Let me quote now what this letter in relation to this provision which has so agitated the minds of the members of the Advisory Council and the citizens of Canberra in general says. It reads:
In considering the membership of the ACT Hospitals Advisory Committee-
This is a separate body, as t have mentioned. But this shows the contempt of the Minister for Health for the elected representatives of the people regarding that committee because he will appoint all five members and the committee will not have one representative from the Advisory Council nor one representative of the citizens of Canberra duly elected by the people. The Minister for Health continues:
Therefore I would be pleased if you would convey my assurance to the ACT Advisory Council that in making appointments to tha hospital management board not only am 1 taking into account the interests of the community but 1 am also appointing people with the desired skills and experience necessary to advise on and manage hospital matters in this community.
I expect to be able to announce the names at an early date of the persons who have accepted appointment to the hospital management board.’
This report continues:
Last night the council’s chairman, Mr J. H. Pead, moved a motion which, after slight amendment, requested Mr Anthony to advise Dr Forbes and his Senate representative that the council:
Deplores the action of the Minister for Health in replacing a majority-elected hospital board by a management board completely nominated by the Minister for Health.
Accepts the principle that there should be some nominated representation on the management board. ls adamant that the management board should also have on it elected representatives of the citizens of Canberra, preferably elected directly to the board or alternatively appointed from the elected members of the ACT Advisory Council.
That in view of the unsatisfactory reply by the Minister for Health in his letter of August 28 and the statement made at the special meeting of the council on September 4, 1967, to council’s request contained in its resolution on the new management board . . . asks the Senate to disallow the proposed amendments to the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance until the Ordinance is amended to provide for elected representation on the new management board.’
The motion was carried.
One of the Government representatives on the ACT Advisory Council, Dr W. F. H. Crick, again gave an assurance that a member of the Advisory Council was likely to be appointed by the Minister to the board. The member of the Council is to be determined by the Minister for Health and the Advisory Council will not have any say as to its representative appointed by the Minister to the board. In fact, there is no suggestion that the Council will even be consulted. Surely that shows in a few words the reaction of this community to the arbitary and autocratic action of the Minister for Health as representative of the Government. I would say that he had the agreement of the Government arbitarily to interfere and abolish this board.
The Minister comes straight out and says that he will appoint the members of the board. He makes no claim as ro whom he will nominate to the board. The Minister claims that he cannot make his appointment from the Advisory Council until after the elections for the Advisory Council are held on 16th September. But surely the people of Canberra and members of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council have the right to know who is likely to take the place of the members of the board when their present term expires on 30th September.
It seems a terrible thing for this to happen in regard to a hospital which has been managed so successfully. We admit that the Government has a right to nominate certain members of the board. The Government contributes in no small measure to the finances of this hospital as to those of other government bodies. But this action does show complete contempt for democracy and democratic processes. The Minister will not permit any one elected representative of the people being a member of this board of five. What exactly is the purpose of the Government in taking this action regarding a body that has been so successful over the years. Its history dates back to 1930. The ordinances relating to it have been amended in the intervening years but only in a comparatively minor way, and all members of the board have been elected. As comparatively recently as 1955, when the membership of the board was increased to eight, the Liberal-Country Party Government allowed five of the members to be elected. Now, 12 years later, for some particular but no apparent reason the Government has seen fit to change, in a completely autocratic and arbitrary manner, this form of control.
Why? We see again this autocratic approach. 1 am not quarrelling with the fact that the Minister has received representations about these things. We all recognise that that should be the case, particularly as the Government is the custodian of public moneys and must ensure that they are spent wisely and in the interests of the community; but surely in a place like Australia, and particularly in the Australian Capital Territory, there should be some recognition of democracy and democratic processes. Are we to proceed indefinitely in this way and see this process of complete control extended? Is the Government to be allowed to say that the people shall have no elected representatives on any board or committee of management? Is this to be the trend in the future?
We have heard talk recently of an extension of the hospital system in this area. There are over 100,000 people in Canberra now and we know that in the near future more hospitals will have to be erected. The Government talks about erecting a hospital in the Woden Valley and one at Belconnen, and there is even talk of a hospital being erected by the Catholic Church. I take it that that hospital will be staffed by Catholic nuns. Will the Government nominate all members of the board of management of that Catholic hospital? If the Government has that in mind, it may run into a fair amount of trouble. I have seen hospitals which have been managed extraordinarily well by nuns. If their hospital becomes a teaching hospital they will be prepared to accept advice and Government nominees, and if there is a medical school in the area they will accept representatives of the university. If the hospital were sponsored by the Government they would probably accept Government nominees, but I do not think the Government would dare to say that it would nominate all members of the board of management of any hospital, let alone a Catholic hospital. I do not think any church would tolerate that.
Is this what the Government has in mind in setting up the Hospitals Advisory Committee in Canberra? Is the Government to determine the location, form of management and the particular purpose in the fields of medicine and surgery of these hospitals?
Let us look al the personnel of the proposed Committee. The Chairman is Sir George Currie. There is Dr Storey, who has been a member of the New South Wales Hospitals Commission since 1965 and Dr Moya Blackall who has been a practitioner since 1932 and is a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics. The other members of the proposed Committee are Mr Newman, a former Auditor-General and Mr Olsson an accountant.
Are they the only people qualified to determine where a hospital shall go? Are they the only people qualified to determine what form the hospital shall take, whether it will be a specialist hospital or will serve the immediate general needs of the community? Are they the only people qualified to determine the business management of a hospital? Are they only people qualified to exercise control? ls there to be one board controlling all hospitals or will there be separate boards for the various hospitals in the national capital of this country? Here again the Government could have been more reasonable. If it did not want to hold an election to decide the membership of the Committee it could at least have asked the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council to nominate someone from among ils elected representatives.
– That is right, but in relation to religious teaching hospitals the university nominates a representative. However, as the honourable senator has said, the State Government has no nominees on the boards of religious hospitals in Queensland. I think if the State Government had tried to nominate representatives it would have been told quick and lively where to get off. I. point out that the hospitals in Queensland run by the Church of England, the Methodists and the Catholics are all well run.
– What is the situation in public hospitals in Queensland?
– The State Government appoints a number of members to the boards of those hospitals, and in Hie country some representatives of the particular area are elected.
– The honourable senator would not say that Canberra is in tha country, would he?
– It is part ot Australia, is it not? Queensland is no more country than is Canberra. I do no- know why the honourable senator implies that Canberra is different from Tasmania. They are both part of Australia and are so regarded. They have similar ideas about the rights of people to representation. Canberra is no different from the rest of Australia.
– After all, Brisbane has twice the population of Tasmania.
– Yes, but the honourable senator from Tasmania implied that the people of Canberra are different front the people in the rest of Australia, t think they are typically Australian. From the way they are squealing now, one must recognise that they are typically Australian and that they will not take an injustice lying down. That is apparent from the repeated representations of the Advisory Council. The ‘Canberra Times’ and the Australian’ daily print expressions of disapproval of Government action and of the secrecy associated with the nomination of members of the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board. No names have been mentioned yet.
Surely there should be no interference with an enterprise which has been running successfully for so many years. 1 have not heard any criticism of it. Of course, it is no use referring to the recent tragedy in relation to premature babies. Steps have been taken to rectify the cause of the trouble, and the board cannot be blamed for what happened. This hospital has been in existence for the best part of 40 years and, as far as I know, it has functioned successfully. There have been no scandals associated with it. and the efficiency of the administration has been remarked upon, ft is a hospital of which the citizens are proud. They want to be prouder still, but they want to have some representation on the Management Board.
If the Board comprises only Government representatives how will the people have their say? How will they make their complaints heard? Will their complaints be heard in public? How will the Board function? The Minister has said that the Board can have its meetings open to the Press and the public, but he has laid down that meetings of the Hospitals Advisory Committee shall be held in secret and not open to the public. What will happen then? Will the Board finally resolve that it also will hold its meetings in secret so that the people will not know what is going on? Will complaints be ventilated through the Press or will the Press be refused access to the records of meetings of the Management Board? That could quite easily happen. In that case there would be control in secret, and the public interest would be frustrated.
This Government, which was elected by the people - shall we say it was elected on misrepresentation? - now sees fit to set up a non-elected Management Board. The Government is content to be elected by the people, but when it comes to the management of a particular enterprise which is not inconsiderable in size and which is growing comparatively rapidly - I refer of course to the Canberra Community Hospital - the Government does not want the people to be represented. It wants complete control.
The Senate has no alternative but to disallow this regulation, particularly when honourable senators realise how successfully the hospital has functioned over so many years, when they realise the reaction of the people to the Government’s proposal and when they pay due regard to the fact that the Minister has given no reason for changing the board from a part-elected board to a completely nominated board. I appeal to honourable senators to reject this ordinance.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! Two hours having elapsed since the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the debate is interrupted pursuant to standing order 127.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That consideration of Orders of the Day, Government Business, be postponed until after further consideration by the Senate of Notice of Motion No. 2, Business of the Senate.
[5.0] - The Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance 1967 changes the constitution of the Canberra Community Hospital Board from one of five elected and three appointed members to one of five members appointed by the Minister for Health. The ordinance was introduced to implement part of the
Government’s decision of April last in relation to hospital policy for the Australian Capital Territory. It will take effect from 1st October, when the term of the present Board expires. We must remind ourselves of the changing scene in the Australian Capital Territory. With the development of a multiple hospital system in the Territory it became necessary and desirable to introduce an appropriate method of hospital management.
For years the Canberra Community Hospital has been the only hospital serving the needs of this community. Initially a decision was taken that the whole community should elect some of the members of the board. I remind the Senate that in earlier days a contributory scheme was in operation for the Canberra Community Hospital and that that being so an elected board was appropriate. But today a contributory scheme, as a basis for an elected board, no longer exists. At that time - I am speaking of the 1930s - it was not uncommon throughout Australia for residents of districts or donors to hospital funds to elect their district hospital board members. But over the years the pattern has changed and it is no longer the practice in the States for such elections to take place. The change brought about by this ordinance brings the Australian Capital Territory into line with the rest of Australia. This is a very important point which we must not overlook. Hospitals in the United Kingdom are administered by boards the members of which are appointed by regional boards.
Canberra having grown and a decision having been taken by the Government to build a second hospital in the Woden Valley and to assist in the development by the Little Company of Mary of a third hospital in the Belconnen area, the Government studied trends in hospital control in Australia. It decided that hospital development in Canberra should be comprehensive and co-ordinated to ensure that the community received the best and most efficient hospital service compatible with a reasonable level of economy. At this stage I should like lo reply to a point raised by Senator Dittmer. The church hospital mentioned is not referred to in any way in the ordinance we are now considering. The church body concerned has been assured that it will be free to run its own hospital.
– I think that was an afterthought. Originally they were told that they would be subject to the Management Board.
– No. The information give to me is that the position has been of a continuing nature. With the development of a multiple hospital system in the Australian Capital Territory it was decided that the objective I mentioned a moment ago could best be achieved by the appointment of an advisory committee, the function of which would be to advise the Minister on matters concerning overall hospital development. Such a committee has recently been set up under the chairmanship of Sir George Currie. The establishment of this body, the ACT Hospitals Advisory Committee, is another very important step in the development of the hospitals pattern in the Territory.
The second step was to terminate the system of a partly elected board ot eight members as from 30th September this year, when the term of the present Board expires, and to replace it with a smaller management board of five members nominated by the Minister and selected for their skill and expertise in hospital and business management. This decision will provide for flexibility in the management of future hospitals, as the decision relating to the size, constitution and powers of the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board relates solely to that hospital. As the need arises to set up managements for future hospitals in the Australian Capital Territory there will be a special investigation to determine the most appropriate type of board for each hospital, having regard to its special needs.
– Can the Minister tell us how long it will be before the hospital in the Woden Valley will come into being?
– I am sorry, but I cannot provide that information. If I can obtain an answer from the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) I will be pleased to pass it on to the honourable senator. The overall development of all hospitals will proceed in the context of the availability of resources as determined by the Minister, having regard to the advice of the Hospitals Advisory Committee, the Management Board and the officers of the
Australian Capital Territory Health Services Branch
Apart from other considerations there is a fundamental weakness in the use of a popular elective system in creating a management board for a modern hospital. We need to remind ourselves that a modern hospital is a large and complex organisation which uses an extremely wide range of resources and techniques, which as was indicated by Senator Dittmer has a high rate of expenditure which is difficult to control, and which has human responsibilities that are not present in ordinary forms of business activity. I believe that it is vitally necessary to apply the most up to date business methods to ensure that resources are put to the best use and that as a consequence operating costs are kept down. For these reasons it is important that management boards include as members not only people who have expertise in hospital management but also people of business experience at a high level. It is not easy to find people of this calibre and tnerefore it is essential to canvass as large a number of available people as is possible. People of this calibre are not always available for election. So it is a matter of seeking them and, as the Minister for Health has said, nominating them. It is believed that by this means the very best experience will be available in this field of administration.
It has been stated that a member of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council should be a member of the Management Board. The Minister has asked me to inform the Senate that at all stages during the consideration of the composition of the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board it has been intended that members of the Board should include people who are truly representative of the community in the Territory. The Minister has decided that the Advisory Council will, after the Advisory Council elections of 16th September 1967, be invited to nominate one of the elected members of the new Council for membership of the Hospital Management Board. The Minister advises me that he will appoint the Council’s nominee to the Board and will also arrange for a further amendment to the ordinance to make this procedure a statutory requirement. I feel that that information must be of value to those who are concerned about this ordinance.
– I rise to discuss this matter because the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in this chamber, just cut the ground from under her own feet, having spent most of her time telling us that we must have expertise in this matter of hospital advisers and hospital boards and that that is why we must have a Government-nominated board. How can anyone in this country except the Minister for Health know who has the brains to be appointed to a hospital board? This is what is said by the Government. He is the only one who knows those who have the expertise and skill and the business acumen that is required. The Minister says that this is important and that we must have this provision. Then she reads a letter from the Minister for Health which states that the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council may nominate one member. Why let it nominate one if the Government believes in its principle? Why does the Minister come in with this statement now? It is because the Government is afraid of defeat. It is doing this for political purposes only. If the Government believes in its theory, if it believes in a Governmentnominated board, it should stick to its principles, but it has not the guts even to do that. Now it decides that it will allow the Advisory Council to nominate a representative.
The matter goes further than this. This is big brother again waving his wand over us everywhere. The attitude is that the Government shall rule, the Government shall decide, the Government shall do this. I do not blame the Minister. Senator Dittmer tried to blame the Minister for Health. For heaven’s sake, let us face it. He knows nothing about health. He knows nothing about the Department of Health and he does what he is told by the Director-General of Health and his officers. That is what is going on. The Minister does not even know what is going on in relation to this matter. How can we trust the Minister for Health when in one letter to the Advisory Council he states that he will not support the recommendation of the Council that one of its members should be on the Board and then, one week later, he sends the Council a letter, by his nominee, saying that he will appoint one member of the Council to the Board? Why is this not provided in the ordinance, in the Act, or in whatever legislation there is to cover the situation? lt seems to me that in the whole picture of the health services of the community Parkinson’s Law is just booming here. They are building everything up. There is to be a little department in the Department of Health to rule Canberra medically. They think that this is a State. Tasmania is small enough, so help me, but every State has a Minister and that is what they are trying to do, to have a little minister for health for Canberra in the Department.
– Is that not how Tasmania was ruled when the honourable senator was a Minister there?
– Quite so, but most beneficially.
– That is how the honourable senator was made Treasurer.
– And Minister for Health, both at the same time. So I do know what I am talking about. It is a matter for each State to decide how it wants its boards constituted. The Minister representing the Minister for Health said that there must be Government control over the whole matter because of a multiple system. She described the multiple system as consisting of the Canberra Community Hospital and the future Woden Valley hospital and the hospital of a church organisation. The Woden Valley hospital will not be built for 10 years. The Minister says she does not know when it will be built. Are the plans out yet? It takes 7 years from the time when the plans are decided upon to open a hospital, so it will be at least 7 years if the Government is already going ahead with it. The Minister says that because of these three hospitals we must have a multiple system. Then she contradicts herself, saying that the church hospital does not come into the multiple system. Why she mentioned it, I do not know. Certainly the Minister will not control Government nominees on that board. The whole thing seems to me to be absurd. The greatest absurdity does not come into this ordinance. The Government has set up a Hospital Advisory Committee which, according to the Minister, has expertise, skill and business acumen. Who are the members of this Committee? I do not want to disparage those people. J. think Senator Dittmer read out their names. They do not know a darned thing about hospitals. One of them is a doctor who was a superintendent. All right, let us say that he does know something about it. The others arc general practitioners, like myself, but at least 1 have had some administrative experience.
– Does the honourable senator know anything about it?
– 1 do know quite a lot. I can tell the Minister a lot. Here we are to have a committee and a board, both set up by the Government, and one is to advise the other. Yet not one member of the Hospitals Advisory Committee has anything to do with the Canberra Community Hospital. How will the members of that Committee know what is going on in the hospital? How will they be able to advise the Minister about the hospital? This Advisory Committee should be abolished as from today, if the Government is to have a board of management, this board should be given complete trust and allowed to run the hospital as it should be run. We are told that the only person who knows who should be appointed is the Minister and that the people of Canberra do not really know who should be on the Hospital Management Board. If the Government believes this, if it believes the theory that the Government is the only one that knows who has the necessary business acumen and therefore should appoint these people, why does the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) propose to allow the elected Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council to nominate a member? How could the stupid people of Canberra know whom to put on the Advisory Council to run the affairs of Canberra? Should not the Minister himself nominate the members of that Council?
If the Government wants one principle it should apply it in relation to this matter. If the Government wants a complete big brother business in the Australian Capital Territory it should follow the principle and should not give us all this talk about expertise when it does not even carry its argument into everything it says. I believe that there should be a board of seven members. I do not believe that there should be only five. Actually, if we really want efficiency we should have a board of three, but then of course we would not get the general community interest.
– With one sick and the other absent.
– That is the best way. But with only three members we would not get community interest. The whole point about having elected members is to get the community interested in the hospital. It is no good having only Government nominees. Fancy the Minister saying that in Great Britain there are government boards. That is under a nationalised health scheme. What a silly remark to make. Because they are all government boards in Britain the whole soul of medicine has gone, ft is a nationalised scheme, the boards are all nominated and the community has no part in them. The essential thing about any hospital board, as anyone knows who knows anything about it, is to get the community interested, and we cannot get the community interested with a nominated board. Certainly the Government must have a majority of members because the hospital is a Government hospital, but to keep the community interested the community must be represented. I do not mind whether it is represented by election, as is the case in Canberra, or by selection, as in Tasmania. In Tasmania we tell the Council to nominate one member, we tell the Australian Medical Association to nominate one, we tell the hospital auxiliary to nominate one, and so on. We have a representative of friendly societies on our boards, but these societies are practically dying out and they should not be represented any longer. 1 do not think that in Canberra one representative of the Advisory Council is enough. If there is a board of five members there should be three Government nominees and two community representatives. If there is a board of seven, which I favour, there should be four Government nominees and three community representatives. I do not mind how it is done. It is a matter for each State to decide. I would rather have the other representatives selected, but this must be provided in the legislation. How can we trust the Minister? The Minister for Housing has told us that she has been assured that the Advisory Council will have one representative, after it has been said that these people have no intelligence whatever and that the Minister, for Health is the only one who knows who should be on the
Board. Now he says that he will appoint a representative of the Council. This is not provided in the ordinance and it must be provided. The Government should withdraw the ordinance and include this provision. This is a chance for the Government to do that. The Government acted in that way in relation to the ordinance that we considered earlier. The Government should withdraw this one altogether, consult the Hospital Board and settle this business of who will advise whom. The Department of Health waves a big stick over everyone. The Hospitals Advisory Committee will recommend to the Department of Health what it should do, and the Department will take no notice whatsoever. Is the Hospitals Advisory Committee to advise the Community Hospital Board? Nobody seems to know. In all fairness and justice to everyone concerned the Government should withdraw this ordinance. Why did the Minister not go to meet the Board? That is what he should have done. He should have spoken to the Board. He sent a representative who could not answer for the Minister.
– He is subject to the Minister for the Interior.
– Is that why? Both Ministers should go. I do not care how many Ministers go. It was< never too much trouble for me to meet a hospital board when it had troubles and in this case the Minister should go and meet the Board when it is troubled. If a board of five members is established the proportion should be three nominated to two elected members; on a board of seven members, the proportion should be four nominated to three elected members. The manner of election is a matter for the Government to decide. A board of eight members never works. It must have an odd number of members; otherwise the chairman gets two votes. There should be seven or five members. The Minister for Housing, who represents the Minister for Health in this place, apparently has urgent business to attend to outside the chamber, although she is responsible for this measure.
– Try to be decent.
– I arn being decent, lt is the duty of the Minister to be here when a subject for which she is responsible is being debated.
– She may well be out of the chamber in relation to this matter.
– She should have discussed the matter before. How does she know what we- are saying about this business? The same thing happens with almost every measure. Ministers are never here when they are wanted. It is of no use saying that because she is a woman we must not attack her. The Minister should be here when matters under her administration are being discussed. I believe we should ask the Minister to withdraw the motion. I hope the Opposition would agree if the Government were prepared to consult with the Hospitals Board of Management in regard to this matter. The Government has forgotten the biggest thing. There is no soul in the Department. I could recite a number of stupidities of the Department, one after the other. For example, 1 refer to the replacement of phenacetin on the pharmaceutical benefits list of drugs by paracetamol, and the removal of certain drugs from the approved list. How can we have any faith in the Department? Now it has acted to destroy the soul of the Canberra Community Hospital. Unless the community is behind the hospital, you will never succeed with it. It will not become the city’s hospital. It has to have a community interest. I am aware that the Minister will appoint the Board members and he will say that they have the interests of the community at heart. But they are not appointed by the community and therein lies the whole mistake. Now that the Minister has returned to the chamber I ask her whether she would be prepared to withdraw the motion altogether and confer with the Hospitals Advisory Committee.
– I am sure all honourable senators would wish me to deplore the statement of Senator Turnbull about the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who is in charge of this legislation. I can say categorically that the Minister had cause to leave the chamber to seek some information quite definitely associated with the regulation which is before the Senate. It seems to me that the honourable senator in some of his supplementary arguments was quite off the ball. It was interesting to hear an impassioned speech by the honourable senator who is in his own right a member of the medical profession, saying all the hard things that he is prone to say about his own profession. I understand that he was Minister for Health in Tasmania and that whilst in that capacity he dispensed with the subscribers representative on boards and abolished those positions.
– That is a downright lie.
– And introduced an appointed board.
– That is a malicious lie, because the Minister knows that it is untrue.
– Order! Senator Turnbull, you will withdraw that statement about a malicious lie.
– I will withdraw the expression ‘malicious lie’ but how do I protect myself from the Minister’s making a completely false statement?
– Order! You will withdraw without reservation.
– 1 was given the information in good faith. If the honourable senator says that it is not true, I accept that. In any case, it is an easy thing to establish. On the information I was given concerning the Queen Victoria Hospital at Launceston, the board was dismissed and a Government appointed board put in its place.
– Only four members were government appointed.
– 1 would not like to elaborate on your ruling, Mr President. All I can say is that I was given the information. It is open for the honourable senator to make a personal explanation when I have concluded, and thus put the record straight. For that reason I think we can leave that point. The honourable senator said that community interest would suffer as a result of the appointment of government nominees. Of course that is all nonsense. I am qualified to talk on this matter only in relation to New South Wales, where government nominees are appointed to hospital boards. I happen to be a member of the board of a fairly large hospital, io which I will refer in a moment. The amount of effort put into raising funds by auxiliaries for hospitals in New South Wales makes one of the most enlightening stories associated with hospitals. All over New South Wales hospital auxiliaries arc working. Some hospitals have 15 or 16 auxiliaries for the one area, all raising for the hospital money which they put into the hands of the government appointed hospital board. They say: ‘Use this for the interests of the hospital.’ So the whole of the honourable senator’s argument about the government appointment of a board causing the stultification of voluntary fund raising is sheer, absolute nonsense. I hope that is not unparliamentary language, because it is my view.
I wish to make a few comments about my experiences with hospitals. I have been a member of the board of a 235-bed hospital in the metropolitan area of Sydney for about 30 years.
– Appointed or elected?
– I have been both. That is why I chose to enter this debate. Originally I was elected as a subscribers representative. To qualify as a subscribers representative it was necessary to have one’s name on the nominal roll. To obtain entitlement to vote on the appointment of members to the hospital board it was necessary to contribute 10s a year. In those days the hospital contribution was only 6d .t week. People could pay that amount to a form of hospital contributions fund. Eventually that fund was submerged with the advent of hospital contributions funds as they now exist. In the early days - in 1936 - the contribution was 6d a week. A person who paid enough sixpences in a year to amount io more than 10s could by application, have his name placed on the nominal roll to vote for the election of the board. Alter World War II the New South Wales Labor Government abolished that system and said: From now on board members will not be elected by votes but will be nominated by the Government.’ It may be that in an odd circumstance in a hospital a government nominee may have a particular influence, but the broad pattern, and the pattern in the hospital board with which 1 am associated and am a past chairman, is that the mayor of the municipality is a board member. About 70,000 to 80,000 people live in the municipality in which is situated the hospital with which I am associated. The local member of Parliament is another member of the board, because of his special interest and because he represents people of all shades of political thought in that area. 1 am probably the oldest member of the board. I am on it because at one stage I was mayor of the municipality and because my family have had a life-long association both wilh the creation of the board and its management. The present chairman of the board is a retired pharmacist. Another member is a building contractor of some significance. He is a local identity who can give very good advice in relation to buildings and that side of hospital development. Another member is the secretary of the New South Wales ambulance transport service organisation. He is a well known resident of the area. No doubt because of his association with the ambulance service the State Government appointed him to the board. There are a couple of members who are senior State public servants with special qualities relating to hospital administration. One of them was at one stage private secretary to a former Minister for Health. Therefore he had a particular knowledge of the administrative side of hospitals. 1 am only saying these things to point out to the Senate that in New South Wales people arc appointed to hospital boards. This is not a capricious thing. The Minister for Health is not going to appoint persons to the board regardless of their qualifications. To do so would be a form of self-destruction. Quite clearly, if a Minister for Health appointed persons who had no competence, although they were good citizens and were highly efficient in their particular sphere, this would be selfdestructive. lt would be quite ludicrous if the Minister appointed to the board people with no experience in administration which would lead to the better management and conduct of a hospital. What is happening in relation to the Canberra Community Hospital is not something new. lt is following the pattern of the States, with a small variation. As the Minister for Housing, who represents the Minister for Health in this chamber, said in her reply to Senator Dittmer, the Government is following a pattern which is being .dopted in hospital administration throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
Senator Turnbull referred in a rather unkind way, I thought, to the hospital advisory committee which has been mentioned. But consider the position of all hospital boards today in New South Wales. True, it is only one State, but it is a big State in which hospitalisation is an important matter. All hospitals in New South Wales have the advantage of advisory committees.
– But they consist of medical people.
– Not necessarily. Not always, lt is true that these committees do have honoraries who are medical people and that they, through the chairman of the committee, serve the hospital. The honorary gives advice to the chairman of the board from his own particular knowledge. Other people are appointed to advisory committees because they are able to give advice on particular matters when called upon to do so.
– That is advice in relation to a particular feature associated with a particular hospital.
– No. Let me-
– They do not have overriding authority-
– I cannot hear the honourable senator clearly so it is pointless for him to interrupt me. It is not because I am deaf but because of the place where the honourable senator is sitting. I do not want to hear him anyway, because his interjections are distracting mc. The fact remains that any hospital board can call in a group of people - whether they form an auxiliary or a body by some other name - in order to assist in the administration of the hospital-
– For a group of hospitals or one hospital?
– No, for a particular hospital. 1 heard that interjection and replied to it. Will the honourable senator let it go at that? The argument used by Senator Turnbull related to one particular hospital. There is nothing unique, odd or rare about a hospital board, be lt government appointed or be it appointed in part or in whole by subscribers, being able to call in a group of people for advice.
– But that is different.
– This advisory committee is not to be set up to give advice as a board of management for the Canberra hospital. It is to be set up as an overriding advisory authority for the Minister.
– Its function will be to give advice when called upon, to the Canberra Community Hospital. I do not think there is any doubt about that. The other point 1 want to make is that it is not accurate to suggest that an analogy can be drawn between the Canberra Community Hospital and a hospital where there are subscriber-representatives. After all, under the present arrangement at the Canberra Community Hospital the members of the board are elected by the citizens of Canberra. Every adult has to vote regardless of whether he or she has an interest in the hospital or in any conceivable thing associated with it. By law, the people are compelled to vote for the candidates for election to the board. In other words there is adult franchise. Membership of the board is determined at an ordinary election. We should not try to compare this position with what happens in some hospitals in Tasmania, where some members of boards are appointed and some are elected by subscribers. In order to become enrolled the people would have to qualify as subscribers to the hospitals. Am I right?
– No. they are nominated by the Australian Medical Association and by the hospital auxiliary concerned.
– In the old days one had to be a subscriber in order to have the right to vote in an election to determine the members of a board. In Canberra, if there are 60,000 people on the roll then they all have the right to vote to decide who will be on the board of the Canberra Community Hospital. This is compulsory.
– What is wrong with that?
– I am about to produce an argument to demonstrate where this is inconsistent with the other arguments that have been put up. What the Government and the Minister for Health are saying is that it is better for the Minister and the Government to appoint to the board people with some specialised knowledge, so long as they are living in this community, than to have membership determined as a result of a vote by which people wilh no experience or special qualifications in relation to such a complex matter as the management of a hospital, may be appointed to the board. I am not reflecting on the citizenship of such people or their qualities or attributes in other fields. I do not think there is any argument against this proposition.
– ls the Minister suggesting that we adopt his policy and appoint a minister’s secretary to this body?
– I will suggest that, as a matter of fact. There is a tremendous link between an individual hospital and the government in some cases. Therefore, any person who has specialised knowledge of that link would, I think, have tremendous knowledge in relation to what is very often the hiatus or delay involved in matters linking government and the administration of any particular hospital. I do not think honourable senators will deny that if they put their minds to the matter. I am conscious all the time that the administration of hospitals is a most complex thing because so much is involved. I think even Senator Turnbull is conscious of this fact. Any person who has any appreciation of the problems relating to a hospital and the central administration knows that members of its board need to possess special qualities.
Let me sum up, if I may. This development in relation to the Canberra Community Hospital follows the pattern of what is being done all over Australia. There is no comparison between the old system of subscriber-representatives and the situation in Canberra where everybody has a vote - voting is compulsory - to determine the membership of this board. There is no substance in the suggestion that this system would have a deleterious effect on the raising of funds simply because it is a governmentnominated board rather than an elected board. The pattern in Australia has been, always, that every government, because it is sheer common sense to do so, makes certain that it appoints people to hospital boards who are competent to do the job. To do otherwise would be laughable because this would make the government’s task completely hopeless. Perhaps politics are involved in this; but I would not know. The facts are that a Labor government in New South Wales first introduced this idea. I admit that there are some odd cases and that people say that a certain person was appointed to a board whereas some other person had better qualifications for the job. But looking at the matter in the broad, and taking a national outlook, 1 am satisfied that it is in the best interests of hospitals to have boards appointed by a government. A government has the advantage of having advisers specialising in this complex subject. A government, therefore, is able to see that only people with special qualities become board members. I refer to people with specialist qualities in one of the following fields: Instruction, medicine, pharmacy, ambulance services, public administration; or a mayor of a municipality representing a large group of people, a parliamentarian representing a large group of people, or others able to put forward a point of view. Such people would ensure a far better and a far more capable administration of hospitals. For that reason I suggest that the Senate should not support the disallowance of the regulation.
– 1 rise to support the motion. 1 do so because of my experience over the last 24 years both as a patient in the Canberra Community Hospital from time to time and also because of the principle involved in this motion. I have no quarrel with the persons nominated by the Government to the Advisory Committee. The Chairman, Sir George Currie, is one of the best men in Australia for getting various bodies out of difficulties. He has been called upon to take over the chairmanship of many bodies which have been either in difficulties or whose work could quite easily have got them in difficulties. He has the rare genius of being able to get things done. He is a person in whom I have the fullest confidence. I also know other persons whose names have been suggested for this Board.
– Sir George Currie is not on the Board; he is on the Advisory Committee.
– Then he is on the Advisory Committee. I cannot see how an alteration of the system which has been in vogue for so long in Canberra will be of any help. After all the hospital is the Can berra Community Hospital. Senator Anderson spoke about the representatives on the hospital board of which he was a member. He said, among other things, that a subscribers representative and a mayor of a town were on the Board. Canberra does not have a mayor. That is one thing about Canberra that differentiates it from all the other Australian capitals. Canberra does not even have local Government yet, so no representative of local government in the person of a mayor could be on the Board.
– The people of Canberra do not even get a vote in a referendum.
– The people of Canberra are regarded more or less as inferior citizens.
– They are highly privileged.
– They are highly privileged to be members of this community, but they are regarded as the equivalent of criminals and lunatics in that they are not given votes in a referendum or a voice in local government. Only this morning I heard a news item in which the Minister for Health in New South Wales was reported as complaining about the lack of Commonwealth finance for hospitals in New South Wales. He said that the Commonwealth was very deaf to the great needs of the hospitals of New South Wales. I would not hold the New South Wales system up as having any great advantage over the system in vogue in Canberra. The position in the States is different from the position in Canberra, the capital city of this Commonwealth. Canberra cannot be compared with any other capital so far as these institutions are concerned. The right to elect to the Board of the Canberra Hospital has been very dear to the hearts of the people of Canberra for many years. The election of the Board has been one way in which the people of Canberra have shown their interest in the hospital. Senator Anderson complained about adult franchise in the Capital Territory and that voting for the election of the Board was compulsory. That voting is compulsory is all to the good, because that will keep up interest in the Community Hospital.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– When I was first elected to the Senate 24 years ago Canberra had two hospitals - a private hospital and the Canberra Community Hospital. The private hospital went out of existence, but the Community Hospital remained. Today it is the only hospital available to residents of the Australian Capital Territory. Senator Anderson said that people who were interested in the hospital were needed on the governing board. Every citizen of Canberra, although he or she may not be personally interested in the hospital at the present time, may become personally interested in it at some … - in the future. In any case, it is not just a matter of being interested from the point of view ot being a patient in the hospital. Many people in the community are interested in it because of their’ civic pride and interest in the general welfare of the community as a whole.
Whilst the members of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council and we members of the Australian Labor Party recognise that at the present time the Government is contributing the major portion of the money spent on the hospital and perhaps is entitled to a majority on the Management Board that is to be sei up, we maintain that the Board should have representatives elected by the people of Canberra. I said earlier that Canberra is in a different category altogether from the other capital cities. Every other capital city has local government, with a lord mayor and councillors. The people of Canberra have no voice in local government. One of the times when their voices can be heard is the election of direct representatives to run this big community project which is of vital interest to every member of this community. They have taken a great pride and a great interest in the election of the Hospital Board over the years. From personal experience 1 know that the Board has worked well and that the hospital has been a credit to the Board ever since it began. This hospital is not called the Canberra Hospital or the Canberra Public Hospital; it is called the Canberra Community Hospital. It belongs to the whole community. Therefore the whole community should have a voice in the election of representatives to its governing body.
I should like to know why the Government is shilly-shallying on this matter. As late as last night, in a reply to a question asked at the Advisory Council meeting the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) said that he would appoint a member of the incoming Advisory Council to the Management Board. Today the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Health in this chamber, stated that the Advisory Council would be able to select its member of the Board. Which of those two statements, are we to accept as gospel - the one that was written in a letter received by the Advisory Council at its special meeting last night, or the one that was made this afternoon on behalf of the Minister for Health? Why is there this sudden change?
One of the things that the motion moved by Senator Dittmer aims to do is to make certain that there is some direct representation of the people of Canberra on the Hospital Management Board and that it is not just left to the Minister for Health to appoint everybody whom he chooses for membership to the Board. This is. not a dictatorship. We believe that the hospital would lose a good deal of its character if the latter course were followed and the community no longer had a direct interest in the election of people to the Board. Goodness knows, the citizens of Canberra already are lacking in outlets for the expression of their opinions on the various agencies that more or less control the city. It would be a retrograde step for ali members of the Hospital Management Board to be nominated by the Minister for Health. Therefore, 1 support the motion for disallowance of the ordinance moved by Senator Dittmer. I hope that it will be carried by the Senate.
Senator Dame IVY WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [8.5] - I feel impelled to enter this debate because recently the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, conducted an inquiry into the Canberra Community Hospital. Thc eightyfirst report of the Committee contains the conclusions that it reached. At the time of the inquiry it was evident that there were differences of opinion between the Hospital Board and the Department of Health, particularly with regard to autonomy. On the one hand the Board was seeking more autonomy; on the other hand the Department was putting a point of view on control that it believed to be correct.
The Committee felt that as the question of autonomy was impinging on policy it was not in a position to make a judgment on the submissions made by the Board, but in the final paragraph of its report the Committee said:
In nil the circumstances your Committee believes that careful consideration should be given to the question of whether a greater degree of recognition might be accorded the Canberra Community Hospital Board in line with the position relative to hospital administration in the States of the Commonwealth but suitably adapted to meet the special needs of the Australian Capital Territory.
The matter about which I wish to speak is the administration of hospitals in the Stales. Here today two Ministers have told us that in all States of the Commonwealth appointed members constituted hospital boards. In the State of Victoria that is not so. I am a member of a hospital board. I knew that the situation to which the Ministers referred did not exist in the hospital board of management of which I am a member. So I spoke to Dr John Lindell, who is the Chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission of Victoria. Honourable senators may recall that in 1962 the then Commonwealth Minister for Health arranged for Dr Lindell to prepare a report on proposed administrative procedures for the Canberra Community Hospital and advise on the structure invisaged for its development into a 600- bed hospital. Canberra now requires far more beds than 600. Dr Lindell assures me that the members of the board of every hospital in Victoria - apart from the mental hospitals which function in an entirely different way - are elected by the subscribers. One person is nominated by the State Minister of Health, but that person is usually recommended by the committee of the hospital concerned. We in Victoria do not believe that as a result of the election of members of hospital boards our hospitals suffer in comparison with other hospitals whose boards are nominated. I believe there should be elected and nominated members with the nominees of the Government always being in the majority, and therefore I. would like the Government to consider retaining the principle of the election of some members of its hospital boards. 1 have had many years experience in hospital board administration and hospital management. I would not agree with anybody who put forward the idea that a fully nominated board would bring to the hospital the same interest and the same goodwill that came from the election of people who wanted to serve that hospital. It has been said that the Canberra Community Hospital has no contributors. If a Victorian hospital like the Royal Melbourne Hospital can have contributors, it is possible in a growing city like Canberra to get a system which is comparable with the one in my State. Therefore, Sir, I strongly favour having a proportion of elected members on hospitals boards.
– Mr Deputy President, perhaps I should indicate in order to put the record straight that I gave notice of this motion pursuant to the Acts Interpretation Act. Senator Dittmer very kindly and very skilfully introduced this motion. I now ask the Senate to pass the motion to invalidate the ordinance. The reason for this motion is very simple, lt is a question of democracy. The people of the Australian Capital Territory want to retain the present system or, in any event, they do not want the system that is proposed in the new ordinance.
– They want power without responsibility.
– They have made their desire quite clear. Senator Cormack, a Liberal senator from Victoria, interjects and says that the people of the ACT want power without responsibility. The truth is that the people of the ACT have very little power. They have been asking to be given responsibility and that responsibility has been denied to them. They do not have power such as is enjoyed by other citizens of the Commonwealth to vote at referendums. They do not have responsible government. So far as their own affairs are concerned, they are clearly in a worse position than the people of our States. If they had something which was equivalent to the parliaments of the States - it would not matter by what name it was called - and if they had a system under which somebody responsible, say, to a proper local assembly was appointing members of the board, then the Government might have some argument. It could say: ‘Here is the reason why the Australian Capital Territory should be brought on to the same basis as that of the States.’ But surely that would be a matter for decision by the people of the ACT. If they had such an assembly, if they had control of their own local affairs, then it would be for them to say whether or not they wanted it. As it is, such a representative body as the ACT has - it is not an entirely representative body as we know - has clearly expressed its view, which is that it does not want the system which is to be set up under this regulation. I have addressed to me a letter from the Chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. It is dated 5th September. I wish to read it to the Senate.
The Chairman of the Advisory Council is not a member of the Australian Labor Party. He is at present in the gallery of the Senate. His letter is addressed to me and reads as follows:
Since my discussion with you last week on the question of the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance, Council received a letter from the Minister for Health rejecting its request for elected representation on the proposed new Management Board.
In order that you might have the complete picture as to what action my Council has taken to secure elected representation on the new Board I enclose for your information the following documents.
It might appear on the surface that the hurried statements made by the Minister for Health’s representative at the special meeting of the Council on the 4th September, satisfies the representations for elected representation on the new Management Board. The Minister for Health’s representative, when speaking at the special Council meeting said that the Minister in his letter of the 28th August, intended that the Council should be represented on the new Board.
For my part and that of my Council there does not appear to be any intention, either express or implied in the Minister’s letter of the 28th August, that he had any intention whatever of giving any elected representation on the new Board, until the Council made it clear that it intended to seek the support of the Senate to disallow the proposed amendments to the Ordinance.
Council is still dissatisfied with the vague assurance contained in the Minister’s statement to the special meeting on 4th September.
In the first place, even on a financial equity basis of patient, fees and tax contributions of the citizens of Canberra, we believe there is a just case for at least two elected representatives.
Secondly, there is no provision in the amending legislation to provide for elected representation, nor docs the Minister in his statement indicate whether the Council shall select ils representative to the new Board; or whether ho personally proposes to do so. In either case it is the opinion of Council that the legislation must be amended at this point of time to specifically provide for elected representation as a right and not a possible privilege to be given or withdrawn at the whim of the present or any future Minister for Health.
In the circumstances Council continues to oppose the manner in which the present Hospital Board has been abolished, and the proposals as they now stand to replace it.
In the terms of the resolution which has now been forwarded to the Minister of the Interior, with the request that it be passed to the Minister for Health’s representative in the Senate Council seeks the support of the Senate to disallow the amending legislation, until provision is made for just and equitable elected representation to the new management board.
Your support in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
– Who signed that?
– It is signed by Mr J. H. Pead who is the Chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. Perhaps in further answer to Senator Cormack I should say that my understanding is that there are some members of the Australian Labor Party on the Council. There are only two. They are in a distinct minority of the elected members. Mr President, with the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the enclosures referred to in the letter that I have just read. 3 July 1967
Dear Mr Anthony,
In accordance with the provisions of Sections 10 and 13 of the Advisory Council Ordinance 1936-1967, I wish to forward for your consideration the following resolution which was carried at the meeting of Council held on 28th June 1967:
Yours sincerely, (signed) J. H. PEAD
The Hon. J. D. Anthony, M.P., Minister for the Interior, Parliament House, Canberra. ACT.
Minister for the Interior Parliament House, Canberra. ACT 2600 30 August 1967
Dear Mr Pead,
I refer to the resolutions passed at the meeting of your Council on 28 June 1967, seeking representation for the Council on the ACT Hospital Advisory Committee and the Management Board of each hospital. 1 am enclosing for your information the reply I have now received from the Minister for Health, to whom I referred the resolutions.
Yours sincerely, (signed) J. D. ANTHONY
Minister for Health, Parliament House, Canberra. A.C.T. 2600 28 August 1967
My dear Minister,
I refer again to your letter of 31st July 1967 forwarding a resolution of the A.C.T. Advisory Council, which was carried at its 551st meeting held on 28th June 1967, concerning the appreciation of Council for the work of present and past Hospital Boards and Council’s representations regarding the composition of both the A.C.T. Hospital Advisory Committee and the new Management Board for the Hospital.
In considering the membership of the A.C.T. Hospital Advisory Committee, I can assure you that the interests of the community were kept in mind before appointments were made. Likewise, I am not unmindful of this aspect in my selection of suitable persons for membership of the Hospital Management Board.
Therefore, I would be pleased if you would convey my assurance to the A.C.T. Advisory Council that in making appointments to the Hospital Management Board, not only am I taking into account the interests of the community but I am also appointing people with the desired skills and experience necessary to advise on and manage hospital matters in this community.
I expect to be able to announce the names, at an early date, of the persons who have accepted appointment to the Hospital Management Board.
Yours sincerely, (signed) A. J. FORBES
The Hon. J. D. Anthony, M.P, Minister for the Interior, Parliament House, Canberra. A.C.T. 2600
Statement made to the Special Meeting of the A.C.T. Advisory Council on 4.9.67
The Minister for Health has been informed that the Advisory Council is meeting specially to consider this question and he has authorised me to inform the Council that at all stages in the considerations of the composition of the Canberra Community Hospital Management. Board it has been intended that there should be on the Board people who are truly representative of the community of the Australian Capital Territory.
He wishes me to advise you that in pursuance of this policy he intends to appoint as a member of the Board an elected member of the Advisory Council. The decision as to who the representative will be must, of course, remain in abeyance until after the Council elections on 16th September, 1967. In the meantime Council may rest assured that the future Board will include an elected member of the Advisory Council.
In accordance with the provisions of Sections 10 and 13 of the Advisory Council Ordinance 1936-1967, I wish to forward for your consideration the following resolution which was carried at the meeting of Council held on 4th September, 1967:- “Council requests the Minister to advise the Minister for Health and the Minister for Health’s representative in the Senate, before the debate on the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance, 1967, that it is the firm opinion of the A.C.T. Advisory Council,
I am enclosing for transmission to the Minister for Health’s representative in the Senate copies of Council’s resolution of 28th June 1967, the Minister for Health’s letter of 28th August, and the statement authorised by the Minister for Health and presented to the Council at its special meeting to consider the Minister’s rejection contained in his letter of 28th August as background information.
Yours sincerely, (J. H. PEAD)
The Hon. J. D. Anthony, M.P., Minister for the Interior. Parliament House, Canberra. A.C.T. 2600
THE HISTORY OF THE HOSPITALS IN THE A.C.T.
Initially hospitalisation was under the control of the Federal Capital Commission, but in April, 1930 the Federal Capital Commission was abolished and the Territory reverted to Departmental control.
The hospital was placed under the Department of Health, and named the Canberra Government Hospital, the Director General of Health becoming responsible for its control and administration.
In 193S a further change was made in the Administrative organisation by consent of Parliament to an ordinance under the Commonwealth seat of Government Act. This ordinance led to the creation of a Canberra County Hospital Board which was to become responsible for the administration of the Hospital and to be known as the Canberra Community Hospital. Under this Ordinance control of the Hospital was vested in a Board of five members, three of whom were appointed by the Minister for Health and two elected by Public vote every two years.
In those years the hospital received the bulk of its revenue from a hospital tax levied on all wage earners employed in the Territory. Under this arrangement Hospital maintenance costs were financed from hospital tax supplemented by a Treasury appropriation and revenue from patients.
The number of members of the Board remained at five, but the method of election and appointment was changed in June 1938 when all members were elected by public vote.
On 1 July 1942 with the introduction of a war time Commonwealth system of uniform taxation the hospital tax was abolished. Under the new arrangement the cost of maintaining the hospital was to be met from a Commonwealth appropria tion on the basis of £1.7.6 per head of population of the Territory, the balance coming from patients’ fees. The cost of maintaining the hospital in the first year after the introduction of the new scheme was £25,751 of which £21,989 was appropriation and £3,762 patients’ fees.
In 1945 the ordinance was amended to provide for a Board of six, 5 to be elected by public vote and 1 to be appointed by the Minister.
In 1955 the ordinance was further amended to provide for a Board of eight, 5 to be elected by public vote and 3 to be appointed by the Minister.
The 1955 amendment was the last lime the composition of the Board was changed.
This history highlights the fact that apart from the first 3 years of the Hospital Board’s existence when there were 3 nominated and 2 elected representatives, the Canberra Community Hospital Board has either comprised completely elected representation or a majority of elected members.
Mr President, it is, on the face of it, a simple matter of democracy. There is little enough democracy in the Australian Capital Territory as it is. The people of the ACT have some democracy in the sense that they can participate in the election of representatives to their Advisory Council and they can participate, if this regulation is disallowed, in the election of their members to the Canberra Community Hospital Board. They do not want a change. Why should we allow the Government to alter this system against the wishes of the people, particularly as the Parliament has placed in our hands the duty of supervising such matters as this? if we do nothing we are participating in the process of denying to the people of Canberra the system they want. All over the world where people have been denied proper democracy there has been a gradual transition from a system of control by persons from outside to a system of internal control until the people of the territory, whether it be a colony or some other form of dependency, are able to determine their own affairs.
Here is a simple matter of the control of a local hospital and, as far as can be done, the wishes of the local people should be acceded to. This is more important than any question of whether in the ultimate it is better to have some kind of appointed or elected board. The people of the Territory clearly want the present system in preference to the system proposed by the Minister.
– You see, Mr President-
– Mr President, I am being menaced by a spectator in the public gallery who is waving at me. I object to it.
– I will attend to that.
– We can see now why the people of the Territory have refused to elect a member of the Liberal Party as their representative in this Parliament. We have seen the attitude of the Liberal senator from Victoria who, during the course of this debate, has attacked the people of Territory suggesting that they want power without responsibility. He has claimed that they want to live at the expense of the people in the States. The people of this Territory are just as hard working and entitled to just as many rights as are the people of the States, lt is clear that the administration of this Territory is bound to alter and that more civil rights will be conferred upon the people of the Territory. That is long overdue.
The attitude exhibited by Senator Cormack is hardly consistent with the democracy to which his Party professes to adhere. We, for our part, support the people of the Territory in their request. If that is what they want, they should have it. I am thankful to Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood who has expressed the view that the kind of system for which the people of the Territory ask has worked well in other parts of the Commonwealth. Therefore I ask the Senate to support the motion and to disallow the ordinance.
– I enter this debate believing that a lot can be said about practically nothing. By that I mean that a proposed change in the administration of hospital services in Canberra does not seem to be acceptable to the people of this community. I have had responsibility. I have always believed that the Government which has to find funds for the maintenance, administration and conduct of a hospital, university or any other institution, should be in control of the board or the senate which administers such an institution. There is an old saying to the effect that he who pays the piper calls the tune. I think there is a good deal of sense in it.
From the history of the Canberra Community Hospital it would appear that the Government has been content for a long time to go along with a board of management made up of five elected representatives and three representatives appointed by the Government. That would not have suited me at any stage of the game, if I may use the expression, particularly as the Government has been supplying the main arteries of activity. But of course there were reasons for that such as contributory funds and other, things associated with the management of the hospital but now, after many years of experience, the Government has decided to change all that. It has decided to remove the elected representatives and to appoint a board of five.
The people, having become accustomed to electing representatives to the board of management of the hospital, naturally resent the change. I agree entirely with Senator Tangney that the Canberra Community Hospital cannot be compared with the hospital system in any. State. The State set-up is quite different from that in a city such as Canberra where the hospital has a community character. I would find great difficulty in comparing the management of hospitals dotted here, there and everywhere throughout the 670,000 square miles of Queensland, the State I represent, with the management of a hospital in a community like Canberra, even though Canberra has 100,000 people. As Senator Dittmer would know, we have hospitals in many centres with a larger population than that of Canberra and they are all managed and governed by boards comprising persons appointed by the Government and representatives of municipal authorities and others, all answerable to the Department of Health and Home Affairs. The set-up is altogether different here. Canberra has more of a community hospital system and the people have become accustomed to having elected representatives on the Board of Management.
I concur with Senator Dittmer. I am at a loss to understand really why the Government has seen fit to appoint a Hospitals Advisory Committee. Whom will the Committee advise? From the notes I have before me it appears that it will advise the Minister for Health or the Department of. Health.
Surely those who control the Department of Health should have some knowledge of hospitalisation without the necessity to build up another advisory committee to advise them. Or is the Committee to advise the Hospital Management Board which is to be composed of people hand picked by the Government, all qualified and equipped with the necessary qualifications for the efficient administration and management of the hospital? I am at a loss to understand why the Minister for Health has gone to so many pains to alter to the extent he has the system that has existed until now. I certainly would have been on side with him to the extent of not having a three to five set-up on any hospital board when the Government was supplying all the funds. If anything, in such circumstances I think the position should be just the reverse.
This difficulty could be overcome with a little consideration, with a little conciliation and with the parties concerned getting together and having a little bit of a talk about it. Canberra is in a peculiar position when compared with other places in that its affairs are considered by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council the members of which are elected by the people on an adult franchise. I take it that the men and women who are members of the Advisory Council are dedicated people; they give up their leisure time to serve the interests of the people and the Territory in which they live. They are people in whom the Minister should have some confidence and with whom he should confer with a view to bringing about an amicable settlement of this dispute. I have reached the stage in life where almost nothing surprises me, particularly when I come to Canberra. But what astounds me is that the Advisory Council cannot communicate direct with the Minister for Health on a matter such as this. It must direct its communications to the Minister for the Interior who sends them on to the Minister for Health. The Minister for Health then sends back his reply to the Minister for the Interior who in turn sends it to the Advisory Council. I have never heard of anything so ridiculous, so silly, or so retarding of progress and efficient management as that. I was amazed when a few days ago I learnt for the first time that the Advisory Council was not permitted to communicate direct with the Minister for Health on a matter such as the Canberra Community Hospital.
– That is because the members were not appointed by the Government.
– Senator Turnbull, who is a medico and who was formerly the Minister for Health and Treasurer in Tasmania, said that 7 years elapsed from the time plans are completed for the building of a hospital until the building is completed. I reckon that at the Canberra snail like pace it would take fourteen years to build a hospital here in Canberra.
– Where did the honourable senator get that figure?
– That is what happened in Tasmania.
– I am only repeating what was said. I am doubling the figure because here the matter has to go through two ministerial offices. I. know how long it takes me to get from a Minister a reply to a question. Without having a computer, I have worked out that it would take 14 years to build a hospital here. I have had something to do with hospital administration. I stand here proudly tonight and say that I represent a State which provides free hospitalisation in public wards. No other State in the Commonwealth can claim that.
– The honourable senator can claim the credit for it.
– I can claim a good measure of the credit for having retained free hospitalisation in Queensland. I suggest to the Minister for Health that the ordinance be temporarily withdrawn. Only this afternoon we had an example of the application of common sense when a regulation under the Trade Practices Act was withdrawn for further consideration. I think we should withdraw this ordinance for further consideration. I think that a management board of five or seven members should be set up. We could have as many as we liked for that matter, but I think that it should be limited to seven. In that case the Government could have four representatives.
– It could have a majority.
– Well, it could have a majority. It could have four representatives if the board consisted of seven members or three if it were to consist of five members. Then the other three or two -members, as the case may be, could be chosen not by the Minister but by the- Advisory Council. Let the Advisory Council, which consists of elected representatives of the people, choose its own representatives on the board of management. It is as simple as that.
– Does the honourable senator mean that they should bc chosen by the elected representatives on the Advisory Council or by them together with the appointed representatives? Does he mean that the Advisory Council as a whole should select the representatives on the board of management or that only the elected representatives should select them?
– In the case of a board of seven members the Government could appoint four and the Advisory Council could select or nominate three.
– Does the honourable senator mean that only the elected representatives on the Advisory Council should select the representatives on the hospital management board or that all members of the Council should select such representatives?
– I think that the Advisory Council should select them.
– It consists of elected representatives and others.
– Would the honourable senator accord the Australian Medical Association representation?
– On a matter such as this, I think so - that is, on the Hospitals Advisory Committee. But I cannot see the need for the Advisory Committee. In Queensland we have our management boards, but we do not ‘ have an advisory authority other than the Department of Health and Home Affairs.
– But we have local authorities in Queensland; they have not got them here. Here they have the Advisory Council, which has no real authority.
– It has no authority, certainly. But its members are elected by the people.
– But here-
– Order! There are too many interjections.
– I am accustomed to them, Mr President. Like a light to a fly, I seem to attract them. But in all seriousness, I think that this difficulty can be overcome very simply. Let us send the matter back to the Minister for Health and let him get down to a bit of conciliation. Let us by-pass the Minister for the Interior if possible and let the Minister for Health and the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council have a heart to heart talk about the matter. If the Board is to consist of seven- members let the Government have a majority of four; it is entitled to a majority, because it is supplying the bulk of the funds. Then let three be selected by the Advisory Council or, if the. Board is to consist of five members, let the Advisory Council select two.
We spend a lot of time debating these - things; but with the application of what is called common sense - it is less common than anything else I know - a lot of these difficulties could be overcome. What has caused the Government to take fright at a system, that it has fostered for so long? Has it been tormented and irritated by constructive criticism that it has not been able to meet, or has it taken this action for some other reason? I am satisfied that most people who give their leisure time to hospital work are people with a good Christian outlook and a dedicated spirit.
– And they, get kicked out.
– This is not a laughing matter. They give a lot of time for this purpose. If Senator Henty gave any time to hospital work it must have been on the board that Senator Turnbull’abolished.
– That is right.
– That is. why I abolished it.
– But in all seriousness I do not think that we should go on debating this matter seriously. If I may, Mr President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29 August (vide page 318), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I really did not expect to debate this matter until tomorrow. At the outset I would say that the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. It is only a machinery measure to permit the Australian National University to exempt certain students from the payment of fees, which it is not able to do without the authority of this Parliament. Those who will be exempted from the payment of fees are students who have scholarships to the Australian Forestry School granted to them by various State governments or State universities, also officers or servants of the University, not being persons employed in a part time capacity only in the service of the University. The first of these amendments becomes necessary because the Australian Forestry School has now been completely incorporated into the Australian National University, and the measure will bring the students of that School into line with other students at the University. The Opposition agrees to the Bill without any further discussion.
– in reply - I merely express gratification that this Bill has received the approbation of both sides of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to protect our defence forces fighting in or near Vietnam. The protection sought is not against enemy forces in Vietnam but against the actions of any persons in Australia seeking to send assistance to those enemy forces. In 1965 the Government sent part of our defence forces to South Vietnam to assist that country, in conjunction with American and other forces, against active aggression by forces based in North Vietnam and against subversive terrorist activity organised by bodies in North Vietnam.
At and since that time certain groups in Australia organised express opposition to the Government’s actions but until recently they confined themselves for the most part to expressing dissent from and criticism of the Government’s policy and actions. In so doing they have, except in instances where they took violent action, been exercising the rights guaranteed to Australians by our laws.
Recently, however, we have seen a new development. The Labor Club at Monash University announced that funds would be collected for despatch to the so-called National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. Some of the funds collected, it was announced, were to be collected for use by the enemy in unspecified ways. Other small student groups, and some individuals, publicly supported this action. Thus some Australians have attempted to go beyond exercising their right to criticise the Government’s actions, and to persuade the Government and the nation to alter its attitude, and now seek to act by raising funds, in Australia, to be sent to assist the enemy against whom our Australian troops are presently engaged in combat.
If some group, however small and insignificant, can do this with impunity then other groups could do the same. If university students can do this with impunity, then any Australian citizen can do the same. It is a principle which cannot be allowed acceptance. I believe that even amongst those who criticise the Government’s actions there is a vast majority who would support the Government’s action to protect our fighting forces from such practices. I am certain that the overwhelming majority of all Australian citizens will support such action by the Government. This Bill is the instrument of that action.
It is a special Bill because the Government decided, after careful examination, that action under the Crimes Act was inappropriate and that administrative action by itself would be inadequate. There is, of course, precedent for such special legislation in the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947. The Chifley Government introduced that measure rather than use the Crimes Act, to deal with what it considered to be subversion directed against the Woomera Rocket Range. However, because the Government has no intention of stifling dissent or criticism the Bill is carefully limited to its special purposes of protecting our forces from the actions of persons in Australia seeking to send assistance to the enemy of our troops in Vietnam. For that reason safeguards of our proper democratic rights are expressly provided in the Bill. This follows a similar provision which has appeared for some time in section 24f of the Crimes Act, and which we therefore thought it proper to insert here.
I now turn to’ an’ outline of the provisions in the Bill. Clause 3 sets out the type of conduct which will constitute offences under the Bill. An offence is created of sending or taking money or goods to certain bodies outside Australia who support forces opposed to our troops and who arc either named in the Bill or who may be proclaimed from time to time. An offence is also created of giving, collecting, receiving or soliciting money or goods with a view to money or goods being made available to assist any such bodies. The bodies named in the Bill arc being immediately proscribed as being well-known organisations supporting armed forces opposing our troops in Vietnam and in order that no person in Australia may act or continue to act under any mistaken impression as to the bodies concerned. The named bodies are the Government of North Vietnam, the Communist Party of North Vietnam and the so-called National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. I draw attention to the fact that the clause gives power to proclaim only bodies or persons outside Australia which are either assisting the organisations named in the Bill or are opposed or likely to be opposed to our defence forces in or near Vietnam.
For these offences in sub-clause (1.) of clause 3 prosecution may be either by sum mary proceedings or on indictment. Where summary proceedings are instituted the defendant has an option, provided in subclause (2.) of clause 6, to elect for a trial on indictment. The punishment provided for conviction on indictment is a fine not exceeding $2,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or both. For summary conviction the punishment provided is a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or both.
A further offence is created in sub-clause (2.) of clause 3. It is made an offence to incite, urge, aid, or encourage or to print or publish any paper for the purpose of so inciting or encouraging the doing of anything which is proscribed under sub-clause (1.) of clause 3. Similar provisions to these already exist in the Crimes Act and would apply of their own force to an incitement to commit any of the offences created in clause 3. However, in order to make quite sure that anyone who may be minded to encourage, aid or urge any enterprise of the nature prohibited and punishable by this Bill, will be fully aware of the risks he runs, the Government is repeating provisions against incitement in this Bill. As the penalty provided for this offence of inciting is restricted to a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both, the Government is of the opinion that this offence should be prosecuted summarily, and the Bill so provides.
The Government has no intention or desire to prevent those with genuine humanitarian motives from helping suffering humanity. It has therefore provided in sub-clause (3.) of clause 3 of the Bill an exemption from the offence provisions of sub-clauses (1.) and (2.) of clause 3. The Bill provides for this exemption in two ways. It names as exempt the Australian Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and it provides that other organisations similarly motivated and acting may be proclaimed for purposes of exemption. As stated earlier the Government does not wish in any way to interfere with the democratic right of citizens to dissent from and criticise the Government’s policies and actions. In order to make this quite clear in relation to the circumstances which have made it necessary to introduce this Bill, clause 4 of the Bill specifically preserves and safeguards this right. Clause 5 of the Bill is for the purpose of strengthening the administrative action that can be taken through the Reserve Bank in closing the normal avenues of remitting funds overseas. Where the Reserve Bank has reasonable grounds for believing that any such remittance of funds would be an offence under this Bill then this clause will require it to prevent any such remittance.
In order to see that prosecutions for offences under this Bill will not be instituted until there has been careful study of the facts, a restriction upon the power to pursue a prosecution under this Bill has been provided for in clause 6. No prosecution can be commenced except with the authority of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). Due to the special nature of certain evidence which may be required for proceedings under the Bill, such as the name or day to day control of the Communist organisations in Vietnam, it has been decided to include in the Bill a provision to permit of the averment of certain very narrow and restricted classes of facts. The particular averments provided for in clause 8 relate only to the identities and activities of the Communist organisations in Vietnam. Although in some cases it might be possible to prove certain or these facts by a certificate of the Minister of State for External Affairs, such a certificate might not be accepted in respect of other facts which it would be necessary to prove in this area. Furthermore, a defendant can be considerably disadvantaged by the sudden production at his trial of a certificate of this kind. It is considered much fairer to a defendant simply to provide for the averment in an indictment, information or complaint of which he therefore has notice before trial, of these very restricted classes of facts. In any event it is expressly provided in subclause (5.) of clause 8 that the averment of any such facts will not lessen or affect the normal burden of proof whereby, for instance, a defendant remains entitled to adduce evidence challenging the correctness of any such averment in an endeavour to raise a doubt, and the Crown continues to have to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Clause 9 is a further evidentiary provision. It deals with imprints concerning printers and publishers of printed documents. There is a similar provision in the Crimes Act going back at least as far as 1932. The final provision of the Bill, in clause 11, provides for a repeal of this Act immediately operations cease in Vietnam. This legislation is not to operate any longer than is absolutely necessary. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 31 August (vide page 448), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1967-68;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1967-68;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1967;
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics, for income year 1964-65;
National Income and Expenditure 1966-67.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add the following words: but condemns the Budget because:
it places defence costs on those least able to pay them;
it fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance;
it defers and retrenches development projects; and
it allows social service and. war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens’. and upon which Senator McManus had moved by way of amendment to Senator Murphy’s proposed amendment:
At end of proposed amendment add; and the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget should be withdrawn and re-drafted to provide for:
increases giving justice to pensioners of all kinds to compensate for higher living costs; and
no postal increases pending reconstitution of postal administration under a statutory authority’.
– When this debate was interrupted last Thursday I was referring to beef roads in the Northern Territory. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has stated that two new beef road projects estimated to cost about $4,650,000 are to be started; one road is to run from Daly Waters to Cape Crawford and the other road is to run from the Barkly Highway to Anthony’s Lagoon. I wonder how many Australians appreciate the extent of the network of roads being established in the Northern Territory to assist the cattle industry. These roads serve purposes other than the assistance of the cattle industry. I think of the Mt Isa project. I think of the investigations being made at the McArthur River and of how the roads which are being built there will assist the people. I think of the fishing industry which is to be established at the McArthur River. I did say last Thursday night that I wished to refer to those matters before moving on to what I considered to be more important matters - external affairs and defence.
I want to comment on the election which has just been held in South Vietnam. There was a record poll; 83.7% of the 5,853,000 people eligible to vote exercised that right. I think this is an absolutely magnificent effort in a country ravaged by war, particularly when one relates the results to the United Kingdom, the United States of America or even Australia where voting is compulsory. We have magnificent facilities in Australia but I do not think we achieve better than 95%. Yet in Vietnam 83.7% of the people voted. A lot of people are vocal about dissension in the United States of America over that country’s Vietnam policy. The remarks of certain senators and congressmen in the United States are quoted. I was interested recently when a move was made in the United States Senate to cut the defence budget by 5%. This move was made by those people who disagreed with the Vietnam policy. When the vote was taken the result was that 83 senators voted against any reduction and only 6 were in favour of a reduction. After that amendment was rejected, 85 senators voted in favour of the total appropriation and only 3 voted against it. I mention this matter in order to keep Vietnam in proper perspective and to show how much resistance there is in the American Senate in respect of the war in Vietnam.
– That shows how much the United States Senate is out of touch with pubilc opinion.
– No. What it does show is how honourable senators on the Opposition side of the House exaggerated the statements which emanated in this case apparently from a minimum of 3 senators and a maximum of 6 in a House comprising 100 senators.
– They do not exaggerate the massive demonstrations that are being held.
– I was about to move on to the subject of demonstrations. There was an interesting article in today’s issue of the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ which was headed: ‘Reds tried to suppress democracy’. The general text of the article was that there were murder and terrorism in South Vietnam. About 200 people were killed and 1,200 were wounded by this terrorism still failed to stop the Vietnamese people going to the polls and electing their new rulers.
– What would the people vote against?
– The Communist guerillas deliberately set off bombs, fired shells and exploded grenades and directed machine gun fire at the polling booths in the hope of disrupting this democratic process of election. They killed women and children, kidnapped the residents of whole villages and mined roads yet 83.7% of the people saw fit to vote in the election. This should kill the cries we hear that the military junta in Vietnam is not in power by the will of the people, because virtually the same people have been re-elected to office.
– What vote did the military junta get?
– The military junta obtained 34% on the first past the post system.
– More people voted against them than for them. Sixty-six per cent of the people voted against them.
– Thirty-four percent voted for them and the system used is the system that the Labor Party would institute in Australia if it became the Govern- ment. Earlier Senator Cavanagh interjected and mentioned demonstrations. I would like him to listen to my next point. While this terrorism was going on in South Vietnam in an attempt to stop this election - while 200 people were being killed and 1,200 were being wounded, and while women and children were being bombed - as usual there was not a peep of protest from the noisy minority in this country about the Vietcong trying to disrupt this election by killing the voters. This minority fringe in Australia might well be asked whether it approves a democratic election and whether it condones the Communist attempts to suppress it.
– What is the source of the honourable senator’s information.
– The leading article in today’s Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’.
– Who wrote that article?
– I imagine that the editorial was written by the editor. I do not know. But this was the comment published and I agree entirely with it. Where were the protesters in Australia about this bombing and killing of people who were on their way to the polls?
– Those people would not condone this action if it were true. We want verification.
– I realise that the honourable senator wants verification. In other words, he doubts whether these things took place.
– I doubt anything that is written in the leading articles of the ‘Daily Telegraph’.
– It would be terribly hard to convince Senator Cavanagh about anything that the Vietcong were doing to the South Vietnamese. I want now to refer to a matter about which I asked a question in this Senate. I refer to an article in ‘Fact’ written by Mr Arthur Calwell, and I want to relate it to the situation in South Vietnam because it is terribly pertinent. Part of the policy of the Labor Party with respect of Vietnam is, amongst other things, that the bombing should cease. This is tied up with Australian troops remaining in that country. Mr Calwell, referring to the
Adelaide conference of the Labor Party, said:’
The conference refused to be stampeded by all sorts of people and influences, and the policy in all its essentials is .the same as it was in November last, and as it will be when the 1969 election is held.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear Senator Cavanagh say . ‘Hear, hear’. He agrees with that statement.. I think that probably the average Labor supporter, and most Labor supporters, would agree that that is the only interpretation which could be accepted about the decisions of that conference. Mr Calwell went on to say:
In its present mood, the US- will not accept any one of the conditions a Labor government would lay down. . . .
In fairness, I think he meant to say the four conditions that have been laid down. I will restrict his remarks to that interpretation. He went on to say: and it would rather pull out altogether- referring to the United States of America, of course: and if it does this, it will abandon ils entire Asian Communist containment policy, and most of its Pacific Ocean bases including Okinawa and Taiwan.
Senator Cavanagh interjected earlier and said ‘Hear, hear’ when I read what Mr Calwell said about the conference’s decision on Labor’s policy, and the fact that it will be the same for the 1969 election, but 1 do not know whether he would go along with the interpretation I have placed on it.
– No. I think the United States of America would act in its own interest at all times.
– A lot has been said about Labor’s policy regarding moves for peace in Vietnam. I do not know of any honourable senator in this chamber who would not do everything he could to try to get peace in Vietnam. The Labor Party, to substantiate its case, has quoted U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations quite often.
– Did ‘ not General Thieu say that he would do something; that there would be a cessation or reduction in the bombing?
Sentaor BRANSON - He said that he would do everything in his power io obtain negotiations for peace. This is my understanding of what he said. But if the Vietcong are not prepared to discuss peace then it would be his advice to escalate the bombing.
– He said he was in favour of a cessation in the bombing for a week.
– He said he was in favour of negotiations for a peace. I do not know of any person in this chamber who would not subscribe to moves for peace. It has been said in the Press - and again I look at a leading article, published on 7th March, regarding U Thant’s approaches on this - that although he still continues to urge a pause in the bombing of North Vietnam as a step towards peace talks, he has also provided in this article a very strong argument against such a move. After talking to North Vietnamese representatives during an unofficial visit to Rangoon U Thant said that he does not think Hanoi would guarantee to refrain from building up forces in the South during a bomb pause. I am leading up to the basis on which Mr Whitlam put the whole of his argument about halting of the bombing of North Vietnam. The situation was summed up some weeks before that by the United States Secretary of State, Mr Rusk, who said:
You can’t stop the war by stopping half of it. Previous bomb pauses have not yielded any hint that Hanoi is ready to respond.
But America has undertaken to stop bombing the North the very day that there is an indication from Hanoi of willingness to reciprocate.
In fairness to America’s fighting men, those of our allies and our own Austral inn troops, at this point of time America can be expected to do no more than to say: ‘We will cease bombing if you are prepared to negotiate’.
– What are Mr McNamara’s views on the bombing of North Vietnam?
– I thank the honourable senator very much for the interjection, becauseI wanted to lead up to that matter. Mr Whitlam, in a foreign affairs debate, based the whole of his argument on a statement attributed to Mr McNamara on Monday, 22nd February. That statement appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. Mr Whitlam quoted what was reported in the paper as to what Mr McNamarra was reputed to have said. Mr McNamara was reputed to have said:
I do not believe that the bombing up to the present has significantly reduced, nor any bombing that I could contemplate in the future would significantly reduce, the actual flow of men and materials to the South.
– What is the value of that statement?
– This is what Mr Whitlam said that Mr McNamara had said. Having said that, Mr Whitlam based the whole of his speech on that statement.
– Mr McNamara said it again last week. He said more.
– That is very interesting. I am very glad that honourable senators opposite are listening. I believe Mr Whitlam was quoting from an AAP report datelined Washington, Monday, 20th February, which was reproduced in the Sydney Morning Herald’ of Wednesday, 22nd February. This statement came from an unidentified source, which was a Press leak from the Congressional commitee. The statement was so wrong and out of context that Mr McNamara called a Press conference specifically for the purpose of stating:
The implication that I said the bombing of North Vietnam is ineffective is incorrect.
He went on to say that the bombing had been successful because it had done three things. I repeat, he said this at a special Press conference called to correct this statement attributed to him. He said that the three things that the bombing had done were:
That statement is a little different from what Mr Whitlam said Mr McNamara had said.
– What is the date of that?
– This statement was made some 3 or 4 days later.
– In February?
– If the honourable senator could keep up with the times he would find a recent statement only last week.
– I would be interested if the honourable senator would quote that statement in the Senate. Mr McNamara went on to say that during the first 30 hours of the lunar new year truce North Vietnam water borne traffic between the 19th and 17th degree of latitude was over 900 vessels; a figure more than twice that during the Christmas truce when the North Vietnamese moved approximately 10,000 tons of supplies into South Vietnam. He said that the same increase applied to movement by land. It has been reliably estimated that this rate of supply during the truce, when the bombing ceased, was five times greater than when movement was hampered by air and naval activity in the North. I submit that there has been a worldwide campaign against the bombing of the North. This campaign was started by, and is being fed by, every one of the Communist countries in the world today. The Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, does little service to his Party or bis country when he bases a speech on incorrect statements.
– Can the honourable senator justify the bombing?
– I do not have to justify it. My line of argument is that the Leader of the Opposition based his argument on an unconfirmed Press statement to deny which Mr McNamara called a special Press conference. Mr Whitlam’s whole argument, after that part quoted from page 205 of Hansard, falls to the ground because it was based oh incorrect information. In respect to the bombing of North Vietnam - and I quote this only because it is one of the factors in the conditions laid down by the Australian Labor Party as a condition that Australian troops stay in Vietnam - Mr Whitlam said that the bombing had to cease or Australian troops would be brought back forthwith.
It is interesting to look at what Mr Harold Wilson had to say about these matters. On 14th February Mr Wilson in a broadcast report to the nation said-
– That was a long while ago.
– Yes, but the bombing has been going on for a long while. Honourable senators will remember that at this time Mr Kosygin was either in or had just left Great Britain. What Mr Wilson thought at the time is important. He said:
It is true that the gesture by North Vietnam which would have cost them nothing in terms of security or even faith could have set in motion events which could have led to peace: and it’s true that during the cease lire itself there were massive military movements by North Vietnam aimed at securing a military advantage.
And. of course, this action intensified American suspicions that the North Vietnamese were not sincere when they talked of peace and negotiations.
When the bombing ceased the North Vietnamese took advantage of this, and made, in Mr Wilson’s words, massive movements. He went on to say: 1 know the message has got home of my firm belief in American sincerity in all their offers of negotiations in Vietnam.
Apparently some people in the. Australian Labor Party do not agree that America is sincere. 1 believe that America is sincere. On 14th February, when he was under fire in the House of Commons by way of questions by. members of Parliament about his talks with Mr Kosygin, Mr Wilson said:
I do not underrate the renewed dangers that accompany the resumption of the fighting, and we must all deeply regret that the truce period of the Vietnamese New Year was not utilised to create the conditions that were needed for a move to the conference table.
Everyone would agree with that statement; we all regretted that the truce was not successful. Mr Wilson continued:
In particular, the massive southward movement of troops and supplies in the North, on a scale far greater than in the Christmas, or indeed in any previous ceasefire, threatened to create a severe military unbalance.
Yet the Labor Party says in its policy that one of the conditions for Australian troops staying in Vietnam is that the bombing must cease.
– The bombing has not stopped the movement of troops. There are more troops there now than there were before.
– The cessation of the bombing is one of the conditions that the Labor Party lays down to the United States and our other allies. It says to the United States: ‘Unless you cease the bombing we will bring our troops home.’ Members of the Labor Party cannot get away from that.
– We do not want to. We are proud of it.
– All right. That is why I am trying to tell members of the Opposition that the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong have taken advantage of every cessation of the bombing.
– The bombing has not achieved a thing. It has achieved only misery, suffering and murder.
– In other words, Senator Cavanagh disagrees with Mr Wilson and Mr McNamara.
– I am not disagreeing at all; I am saying that the bombing has not achieved anything.
- Mr Wilson says that the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong have taken advantage of cessations of the bombing and have made massive movements of troops and materials. If that does not help to keep a war going I do not know what does. I did not serve in a war for 6 years without learning a little about this matter and knowing that people cannot fight if they have not the weapons and the wherewithal with which to fight. Mr Wilson also said: lt also made it harder for the Americans to believe that the North Vietnamese leaders wished to use the truce for an effort to peace rather than for a further effort in war.
He went on to say:
For my part, if this needs saying, I accept 100% American sincerity to negotiate for peace.
He believes that that is what the cessation of the bombing was designed to achieve. But what happened? The North Vietnamese took advantage of the cessation and, in Mr Wilson’s words, made massive movement of troops. Mr Michael Foot, who is not by any means a Liberal man - in fact he is a Labor man - said: 1 certainly appreciate the efforts made by the Prime Minister to try to secure a settlement of this dispute, but will he recognise that there is a widerpread sense of outrage throughout the country that the United States Government have refused to respond to the appeal made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for an unconditional and unqualified stopping of the bombing- an appeal which I trust was supported by my right honourable friend during recent days?
In other words, he was putting Mr Wilson on the spot by saying, in effect: ‘Did you do this when you were talking with Kosygin?’ Mr Wilson replied to Mr Foot in his characteristic way. He said:
My honourable friend must make his own decision, but I do not believe that what he has proposed would in any way help to secure a settlement. T am saying this with some knowledge of what it is about.
If I thought that it would - if I thought that that were the way, that full association with what U Thant has said was the way to get peace, 1 would follow that course tomorrow, but I know enough about it to know that it is not the road to follow.
That is, that to stop the bombing is not the road to follow. I do not think the opinions of a man like Mr Wilson can be discounted. I certainly do not discount them, although we are on opposite sides of the political fence. But the cessation of the bombing is still one of the conditions that would be imposed by a Labor government in this country. If the bombing were not stopped our troops would be pulled out of Vietnam.
– But was not that the attitude of the Labor Party before the bombing of North Vietnam started.
– I am not saying that members of the Labor Party are not being consistent. I have never said that for one minute. I believe that they have been consistent. Mr Calwell was quite consistent in the last election campaign when he stood up and said categorically: ‘If I am elected I will bring the troops back.’
– The honourable senator is implying that this is the attitude of the Labor Party only at the present time.
– No, I am not.
I am saying that this whitewashing by laying down four conditions for Australian troops to remain in Vietnam is a sham for the simple reason that the Labor Party knows quite well that it is imposing such restrictive conditions on our troops staying in Vietnam that if it came to power it would withdraw them immediately.
– Only after consultation with the United States.
– Yes, on the four points. I have been trying to demonstrate to members of the Opposition that no country involved in Vietnam could or would accept a blanket condition that the bombing of North Vietnam had to stop. But that is a condition that they would impose, and if it were not agreed to they would pull our troops out. Mr Whitlam has said that. He has said on television in my hearing that those four conditions would be put to our associates or allies ac-d that if they would not agree to those conditions he would bring the Australian troops home.
Mr W. Brown is not unknown to members of the Labor Party. I believe that he is still the President of the Labor Party in Victoria, although I am prepared to be corrected on that. In a speech on the 3KZ Labor Hour on 13 th August he was very happy about Labor policy. His speech was reported in these words:
The Labor Party throughout Australia was moving further to the left. This had been shown at the Party’s Federal’ Conference in Adelaide two weeks ago. The trend at the Federal Conference was leftwards. The Conference had strengthened” policy on the Vietnam war. It attached a meaningful set of objectives, to what basically was, and remains, ‘a troops out policy’. Possibly we could say now that it is a policy of troops out unless’.
That is, unless the four conditions imposed by the Labor Party are agreed to. Tonight I have concentrated on the major condition.
I could deal with other aspects of the war in Vietnam. But I pass on to country television. I shall refer to it only briefly. You may have to correct me, Mr Deputy President, because the fact that a motion in connection with a ministerial statement on the extension of television to country areas is on the notice paper may mean that 1 1 am 6ut of order. However, I will continue until your advisers tell you to stop me. I still make an appeal to the Government. I know that a magnificent job has been done in that today almost 95% of the Australian people have the amenity of television. I almost said ‘the blessing of television’; but some people do not consider it a blessing. However, to people living in isolated communities it is a necessity. Quite a rumber of large but isolated country towns in Australia still face Ais problem. So that I will not appear to be parochial I will start with
Mount lsa and Darwin and come back to Kalgoorlie and Geraldton.
– What about starting with King Island?
– 1 am grateful for the interjection, but my geographical knowledge of the Tasmanian area is not as good as that of other areas. We will have national television in these areas at some time in the future. But that does not meet the fact that the policy of the Government is that there be alternative programmes - commercial and national.
I go on record again as saying that commercial television stations will not be established in these areas under the present licensing system. Commercial television just is not on. No person will sacrifice his chance of obtaining a second licence by engaging in a commercial enterprise that will lose money. The only answer is, as I have suggested before, the use of the cheaper form of package station. It is cheap only in respect of its establishment. It is certainly not cheap in the type of reception or programming that it provides. I hope that we do not have to wait for 4 .years for this proposition to be accepted, as we did in the case of translators. Today thirty-four translators are operating in Australia. People are receiving a service which they would hot have received if translators had not been accepted as not being second stations. Nobody would bother to install them if they were regarded as second stations. That also applies to package stations. I hope that in the interests of people in isolated areas the Government will look at the package type station. It has nothing to lose by doing so.
– These stations would not be defined as second stations.
– They must not be defined as second stations. If they are, nobody will install them because if they do so they lose their right to have second stations. For a start, shareholders in a company would say: “This is crazy; it is just not on.’ You have been very tolerant with me, Mr Deputy President. I am grateful to you for that. All I say in conclusion is that I support the motion and. I am not enamoured of or likely to agree with the amendments that have been moved.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) [9.30J - Mr Deputy President, 1 rise to support the amendment that has been sponsored by my leader, Senator Murphy. My main submissions will deal with internal matters because the Budget debate is an occasion when we ask the Government to account for its stewardship of the nation, but in the light of the rather curious remarks that 1 thought the last speaker, Senator Branson, made. on the subject, I wish to refer at the outset to Vietnam. Personally I feel that the time to go into detail on this subject is when we have a specific statement before us from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck).
For all that, I am fortified by an address delivered by Mr William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs before the National Student Association of the United States of America on the history of the United States involvement in Vietnam. It is remarkable that, on page 2 of this very lengthy document, Mr Bundy refers to the fact that the United States gave modest assistance to Ho Chi Minh as an asset against the Japanese. He goes on to say that the critical year 1946 when the French broke the Fontainebleau Agreement was virtually the commencement of America’s troubles. The point that I am making is that at that particular period, in other parts of the world adjacent to us, Labor governments were in power. Senator Branson implied that Labor governments did not have a clue about external affairs. What happened at that time?
Independence was granted to India and Pakistan by the Atlee Labor Government. Independence was granted to Burma, Ceylon and Indonesia. Of course there were birth pangs. I venture to suggest that if these reforms had been made in Vietnam the world would not have seen a continuation of this festering sore there. My point is that 1 think the American Government, along with the allied powers or the Western democracies, has inherited in Vietnam a situation which developed under the French administration. France was the only country that welshed on its obligation in relation to the United Nations Charter. There is no question about that. I would say that French leaders from de Gaulle onwards were the guilty men concerning the continued involvement in Vietnam.
That is the early part of the history of this matter. In my speech I deliberately went back to the mid-1940s in order to pinpoint the fact that Labor governments in Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand had no need to apologise for the policies that were followed in these areas. It may be said that these policies were calculated risks. In fact, when we go through the records we find that a prominent personality who was to become a member of the Liberal Government in 1949, Sir Percy Spender, talked a lot of rubbish in relation to what was going to happen because Australia did not back- the Dutch regarding Indonesia. Today we are cultivating our relations with Indonesia as we should. It is an interesting fact that Indonesia went as close as it could have gone to various ideological brinks, but the plain fact of the matter is that Indonesia threw off certain subversion by itself. We did not have to send troops there. I think it is wrong to’ say that if allied troops are pulled out of an area that area will go Communist. There are all these risks that need to be taken. 1 wish to refer now to the present policy of the Australian Labor Party. I do not think any need exists for me or any other speaker on the Opposition side to reiterate that, whether it is a corpse in Saigon or Hanoi, we regret it just as much as do members of the Government. If one is honest and sincere in one’s conception of peace one does not gloat because some person is mutilitated in one area of a country and not in another area of that country. The matter goes a lot further than that. During this debate we have heard the question asked: What will happen when Mr Whitlam is Prime Minister? Members of the Government seem to have an inward fear regarding the Labor Party. They visualise a number of us sitting on the Government benches. Therefore, the Government asks: ‘What is going to happen when Labor is in power?’ Regarding foreign policy, the position would be similar to that of the post-war years when, by contrast with what is happening today, countries obtained selfgovernment with a minimum of bloodshed. I ask honourable senators to compare what happened in regard to those countries with what happened concerning Algeria and Cyrpus and what is happening now in Vietnam..
I know that the position is far more complex when we consider the policy that the Government is putting forward. The Government is asking: ‘What will happen when the Whitlam Government takes over?’ The amazing thing is that, in respect of our alliance with the United States, there is an inward fear that its current policy is not working. Senator Branson cited a lot of statistics about the presidential election in Vietnam. We recall the character of the constituent assembly that preceded the presidential elections. We are told that with the presidential elections a new order would be launched. I am happy to see the beginning of any indications of democracy in the country, but I am not so naive as to imagine that in countries in South East Asia a society identical with ours can be achieved. I do not think Government members feel that, either.
The point that does worry me regarding this facade of parliamentary government is whether it goes all the way down the line to the hamlet level. Is some form of society being achieved in which corruption is being removed? As a matter of fact, the only country in Asia where there is a beacon light approach to this sort of thing and where the masses feel that something is being done to deal with the problem h Singapore. This was exemplified here the other night in a very fine documentary film which illustrated the way in which Singapore is combating its housing problem. 1 think it represents a magnificent effort. But it does not stop there. Far from it. Prime Minister Lee has his security force and his auditor-general checking on his ministers to see that they have not any investments in a few corrupt enterprises.
Does anybody deny that any of the candidates in the recent elections in Vietnam did not give some tacit support to the minor warlords who masquerade as members of the South Vietnamese Army? When one makes that statement, it does not mean that one says one is going all the way with Ho Chi Minh. It does not mean that at all. It is a sound, sober appraisal of the situation. Has anyone who has studied the industrial potential of the United States of America, as found in such cities as Detroit and Michigan, never scratched his head and wondered how the North Vietnamese, with their mortars, seemed to contest every area against the massive appliances of war produced by this industrial complex, such as bombers and field guns? Surely honourable senators will not say that Marxism is the ideology that keeps these people going. In the war years, the Soviet Union was quite happy to go back to the time of Peter the Great and refer to Russian nationalism. This is the difficulty and the thing that we fear. We have a blend of Marxism, nationalism, and a lot of other ‘isms’. If I thought that the policy being pursued by our Government and by the American Government was really winning the battle for the minds of the people I would feel that we could be much more helpful.
The discussion of this matter has included reference to Mr Robert McNamara the United States Secretary of Defence. Nobody will deny one of the observations that he made, with all due respect to General Westmoreland, which was quoted in Time’ magazine. Mr McNamara said that he saw quite a lot of South Vietnamese people roaming around Saigon. He asked: ‘Why are they not in the Army?’ We have pursued this .question here. We have been told: It is a different .army from, our army. These fellows have to go back home to harvest their crops. When they have done so they go into the army again.’ That is the situation with the South Vietnamese. Another situation develops where US marines . are pulled out from the front in order to carry out a pacification programme. It is a very laudable effort, and it is something that we like to see done. But the moment Marines are pulled out of one theatre of war and put elsewhere the line that they have left gets a little weak.
It is all very nice to say that these elections have been held. Any honourable senator could wave the flag of democracy in the air in any part of Australia, whatever government was in office. If certain basic progress towards democracy has not been made, the country concerned is in all the trouble in the world. In the latter stages of World War II the British Government launched the Beveridge scheme. Other countries had other social service plans. My regret is that nobody can prove satisfactorily that, as a result of all the aid that we have poured into Vietnam, there is not a higher percentage of the people involved in corrupt practices there. I want to be fair. Last year a representative of the AF.L, the American trade union movement, visited the Saigon dockside. Efforts were made to reduce corruption considerably. This does not alter the fact that the peasant still wears a vacant look when he goes along to vote. I say good luck to him in that he has voted, But I am still somewhat unconvinced about what is to be done regarding positive economic reform in the country. Let me ‘take the matter a little further. This is where the Government can be said to be in a very curious position. With the exception of Air Vice-Marshal Ky most candidates in the elections have conceded that it might be worth while to put out further peace feelers.
I know quite well that the question may bc asked: ‘Why should the United States more or less strip itself naked militarily for some particular diplomatic move and then find the other side welsh on the deal?’ We all know of the ravages of the Red Guards in Peking. There is no question that the Russia of today is a much quieter country diplomatically and militarily than it was 10 years ago. I suppose in the diplomatic field there are alliances in one theatre and none in another.
I think the Government will agree with me that whatever the militancy of the Opposition in the Senate may be we are realistic enough to appreciate - I think the Prime Minister is too - that positive government is ultimately decided in the House of Representatives. Irrespective of what Mr Whitlam would do if he were successful in a House of Representatives election, the Government must justify its belief that the United States will really create a new society. The Government’s policy and its actions could be taken out of our hands after the next United States presidential election. I am reminded that President Eisenhower came to power with a policy of peace. What kind of peace did he get? All he got was a stalemate between North and South Korea and everyone was happy to settle for that.
Some people in the United States believe in a holding war. They ask: ‘Why should we be drained completely?’ America may have to settle for that. Politics are politics in any country and if the Republicans get back to power they may do what Eisenhower did in relation to Korea and accept such a settlement in Vietnam. I do not say that gloatingly. I am trying to be realistic. It has always been a characteristic of non-
Labor governments in the field of foreign policy to hitch their wagon to another country. At one time it was Great Britain, right or wrong. Then it was the United States, right or wrong. I do not suggest that we are a major power but I do believe in a certain measure of manoeuvrability. The Government must take cognisance of certain factors. So many countries of the South-East Asian area have only token forces - I exempt countries like South Korea which have more than merely token forces - and the plain fact of the matter is that after the next presidential election the United States may well opt for a much smaller commitment.
Irrespective of any criticism I make in relation to the internal aspect of the Budget, I have noted, in the light of the Corio result, a hesitancy on the part of the Government to emulate LBJ’s 10% corporation tax and 10% income tax. I think the Treasurer was aware of the political repercussions of introducing similar taxes in Australia. Quite frankly; I believe that in 12 months the American people will settle for an agreement in Vietnam similar to that arranged between North and South Korea. It could be on the basis of a holding army or a United Nations force. I know that geographically Vietnam is not similar to Korea, but I have mentioned those factors because the Labor Party has them in mind. After all, in past conflicts in which we have been involved the Labor Party has never been afraid to do unpopular things, and it certainly would not be - afraid to do them in the future. In any case, like other honourable- senators I will watch with interest the operations of the new government in South Vietnam, but I am inclined to feel that United States internal policy will be a major factor in the new government’s policies.
Returning to the economic issues, I could commence by saying that a funny thing happened to me on the way to the Senate. Senator Prowse, when addressing himself to the question of hospitalisation, quoted from Time’ magazine of 11th August Strangely enough, I had intended to quote from the same publication but Senator Davidson played a marathon innings and I did not get. the. opportunity to do so. I hope now to correct the record. Senator Prowse quoted a mass of figures and said, in effect, that America is spending money on its medicare system and we are spending money on our system. But he omitted some very vital information which to my mind indicts the Government for the inadequacy of our existing hospital scheme.
There is no need to repeat the famous clarion call that came from Sir Earle Page. Probably some honourable senators can remember handouts from the Government, published in trade union journals, to the effect that the scheme would be like the Blue Cross scheme in America and that at least 90% of medical expenses would be refunded. Mr Wilbur Mills, Chairman of the United States House Ways and Means Committee is reported in Time’ magazine of 28th July last as saying that some adjustment in the tax schedule supporting medicare may be needed. Economist Victor Fuchs said:
Almost no-one lias any incentive to be interested in the efficiency of the hospital as a whole.
On the positive side they refer to the idea of creating a corps of nurses who will visit 90 patients in their homes. This would cost $18 a person a day compared with $54 a day if those people were patients in a hospital. The Government is just coasting along. Every once in a while there is a meeting in Canberra - we could call it a summit meeting - between representatives of the Hospitals Contribution Fund from Sydney and their counterparts from other States and the Minister. They issue a communique: ‘We believe we now have a new table of charges which will meet every contingency’.
The Government tells us that it is making some reforms and even if everybody does not get something at least the pensioners do. I can contradict that statement simply by referring to the Sydney ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of 3rd September which carried an article under the heading ‘Hospitals in grip of crisis’. The article stated:
Elderly patients are dying because of a desperate shortage of bed space.
Whether we like it or not, it is a fact of life in Australia that under a system of uniform taxation, which I support to the hilt, the Federal Government should be much more positive in its actions. I would not expect the Government to accept my criticism on the basis of that article alone, so 1 shall quote from a letter written to me by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) on 16th August in reply to a simple request I had made to him. I pointed out that quite a lot of pensioners - this is rather a peculiar situation - wear surgical appliances of various kinds to make the autumn of their lives a little more comfortable. Elderly people succumb to illnesses which necessitate colostomy operations and the wearing of surgical appliances thereafter. I suggested that some of those appliances should be on the free list. This is how the Minister replied:
The question of extending the national health scheme to include colostomy appliances has been given careful consideration on a number of occasions. However, in addition to colostomy appliances there are other aids for which no Commonwealth assistance is available.
He referred to trusses, spectacles and artificial limbs and eyes, to name just a few. I am a former union official and I know that 1 have the support of Senator Willesee and Senator Branson when I say that 1 was amazed to see elderly men doing heavy manual work - the work of blacksmith’s strikers and jobs like that - wearing trusses and battling on when they should have been doing lighter work. All countries of the world - I do not exclude Australia - are spending a lot of money on satellites and space research, lt is apparent from the Minister’s letter that we are not making any attempt to grapple with the problem I have raised. I am not so stupid as to say that the constitution under which we operate is indentical to that of New Zealand or Britain. I do not think that we could emulate those countries without having to submit to test cases in the High Court. But when all is said and done, the people are not worried about whether action is taken administratively or legislatively.
This brings me to a point that has never been satisfactorily dealt with. We have been supplied in the past with figures which indicate that reserves aggregating no less than £28m have been accumulated by the various hospital and medical contribution funds. You cannot tell me that if, at the famous summit conferences which take place between these funds and the Minister for Health, the Minister said to them: ‘Lower the, ceiling of your reserves by charging lower premiums or providing higher benefits so as to combat the widening gap’, the funds would not be right on the ball. We have only to go to our capital cities to see the palatial buildings that these organisations are erecting. We talk about democracy, particularly in regard to trade unions and their rules. I think it is time that we had a look at democracy in these funds. We get their balance sheets well after the termination of each period of 12 months. When they get into a private war with one another, they never ask the subscribers for permission to insert full scale advertisements in the Press saying why one fund is better than another.
Instead of employing their Star Chamber methods when considering borderline cases, these funds could well emulate the various State housing commissions. In cases of hardship they might well call on a representative of the trade unions, a representative of the Returned Services League and a representative of the Country Women’s Association to constitute - I hope Governments supporters will not shudder at this - what I might describe as a people’s court to consider the matter. Quite frankly, I would sooner pin my hope for justice on such people than on the bureaucrats in some of these hospital fund organisations who . masquerade as humanitarians. I hope that in the comments I am making I shall not merely offer criticism and leave the matter there. I am seeking to suggest to the Government ways in which the present shortcomings may be corrected.
One of the Government speakers has said that the Government has tried to get tough with the various drug companies, that it has tried to get them to reduce their costs. Governments in Britain have had to do the same. But I do not think we will get very far with these companies. In October 1965 my present leader in this place, Senator Murphy, asked who were some of the principal manufacturers of drugs. Information I have before me shows, for example, that Johnson and Johnson Pty Ltd had assets totalling £5m. But this company is controlled from overseas. We find that Mead Johnson Pty Ltd is completely controlled from overseas. Twenty.five organisations are listed in the information I have before me. As I have said in this chamber on many occasions, if the policy of these companies is to be decided in a board room in London, Washington, Paris or somewhere else, how can we control them? We cannot control them. But there is an alternative. If the
Government were to let the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories move into the production of drugs to cure the ills of human beings instead of concentrating on stock cures, these companies would come hotfoot to Canberra. The gap between the cost of medical and hospital treatment and the refunds that are made to patients is widening. No-one can say that the position will be stabilised in the next 5 years, because at one moment the Government is having summit talks with the funds and at the next moment it is having talks with the medical profession. But all the time the subscriber is losing out.
I am sorry that the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has left the chamber. Under the heading ‘War Service Homes’ in the Budget Speech there is a sort of proud boast that because it seems likely that there will be fewer applicants for advances this year, it has been possible to reduce the financial provision for this purpose to $45.5m, which is $13. 6m less than the amount disbursed last year. When I read that statement I thought it probably meant that a sum of $l3m would be fed back to the States for housing. I was fortified in my belief by a. statement made by the Minister to the Australian Planning Institute on the future of urban housing in Australia. She said that if the population continued to grow at the rate of 2% a year a rise in the residential densities of our cities was inevitable.
Like other honourable senators, some weeks ago I received a deputation from the building trades group. The representatives of that group made two points to me, one of which related to immigration. I shall leave that matter until we consider the Estimates later this month. They told me that because of the contraction of the building industry many of their people could not get finance from the banks’ or various other organisations. They pointed out that they were subject to seasonal fluctuations. As I said a moment ago, the Government now boasts about having saved $l3m on housing, but it has pushed that money in somewhere else. The Government is contracting its provision for housing when, on its own figures, its immigration target this year is an intake of 148,000, As I indicated, I do not want to go into that matter too deeply just now; it can be dealt with more effectively when we are dealing with the Estimates. I now (urn to the subject of conciliation and arbitration. Before 1 proceed with it, I point out that on a number of occasions, similar to that of Thursday night last, I have been the victim of stonewalling tactics.
– The honourable senator does not mean that?
– I do not care who presides over an industrial tribunal at any time: if a person does not present an image of impartiality, he will not get very far or will not attract very much respect. I want to continue on from what Senator McManus said about some of our judges. 1 indict certain conciliation commissioners because . of their inability to face up to their responsibilities. I used to believe that the world was getting better and that justice was becoming more profound. I do not want to weary the Senate too much; nevertheless I want to mention an experience that occurred to me before 1950. As recently as a few months ago a friend of mine had an identical experience. On the occasion I have in mind I appeared before Conciliation Commissioner Murray Stewart. 1 was sent along by the Australian Railways Union in connection with a joint application filed by that union and the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Association, lt was a relatively simple matter ( am being quite fair about this; Murray Stewart was appointed by a Labor Government. I went into the Arbitration Court building in Sydney. I had had the misfortune to have an accident and I had my arm in plaster and in a St. John’s sling. I had on a shirt and coat but I did not have a tie on. because I was carrying my arm in this plaster cast. I sat down. Then when I rose to testify Conciliation Commissioner Murray Stewart said to me: ‘Where is your tie, witness?’ I was ready to explode. But Mr Evans, a former vice president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions said to me: ‘Hold your temper. You are representing a group of men. Their interest is more important than yours’. I found out later that that conciliation commissioner was one of those people who had to have four whiskies at 10 a.m. in order to do his job. I do not want to use the Senate as a coward’s castle. I wrote to Ted Holloway and told him I was disgusted with this man, and I said the same at every trade union meeting that I attended afterwards.
I thought there was only one Murray Stewart, but 1 found out otherwise more recently when 1 was travelling overseas on a Qantas plane and was talking to one of the flight stewards about arbitration. He said: ‘Yes, it is a great system all right. I went into court before Conciliation Commissioner Portus. I was making quite an intricate point about our building in Middle Eastern countries when he went off to sleep. It was only when I dropped my notes on the table that he woke up.’ I thought that Conciliation Commissioner Portus may have been a bit wrong. But recently I was at Cahill’s restaurant off Martin Place. I said to a friend of mine: I know one or two conciliation commissioners for whom I have a high regard. Who is the chap over there nearly asleep with his soup?’ He said: That is Conciliation Commissioner Portus.’ I want to be quite frank with this Government. In the recent newspaper dispute this conciliation commissioner backed and filled and would not give any decision. I commended the Government when it embarked on a physical fitness campaign. I think it is time every judge and every conciliation commissioner was examined every 12 months to see if he can do his job. It is all right saying that you do not like strikes and want industrial harmony. It is not much of a job for trade union officials when they go before a conciliation commissioner who either wants a couple of glasses of whisky at 10 o’clock in the morning to see him over the hump or is suffering from sleeping sickness and cannot do the job.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! The honourable senator must not cast reflections on the judiciary.
– Conciliation commissioners are not part of the judiciary.
– I would say that if it is good enough for politicians to cop abuse it is good enough for those people. I have heard a lot of talk about the newspaper strike. What do we get in the Sydney Press?
– Abuse is all right if it is founded on fact.
– It is founded on fact. In the case of Murray Stewart I put it on paper to the Labor Minister, for anyone who wanted to take me on about it. It is easy to sit in the Senate and ask why trade union secretaries do not control their members. What is the latest matter? The Vehicle Builders Union has a very fine record in New South Wales. The men at the Ford works at Homebush wanted 10 minutes for their morning tea break. In this technological age no-one can tell me that with technical improvements on the assembly line 4 minutes cannot be picked up. What happened? The men said they wanted 10 minutes. The Court fined the union because it did not get them back to work. It might be argued that men get only 6 minutes for their tea break in Victoria so why should they want 10 minutes in New South Wales? It is all very nice if the conciliation commissioner who gives this decision is free of the things that I talk about.
I make no apology. We are talking about the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Commission and the judges. If we want respect we have to give it. I think that the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) ought to front these conciliation commissioners and tell them that theirs is a very nice job, that it is a worthy job and that it is time that each and every one of them could look anybody in the face, like most of the members here can and say that they are attempting to do the job. I am sick of all of these editorials in the newspapers stating that strikes are increasing. One can go to Homebush abattoir or - somewhere else. Fellows who have been witnesses are not stupid when they say that a conciliation commissioner started to hiccough or something like that, only one interpretation can be placed on it.
I have never been afraid to say anything unpalatable in a workshop or here. Respect has to be earned, and a number of conciliation commissioners are not earning it. We are giving names and I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Conciliation commissioners like Mr Findlay are always available, but some of the others whom I have mentioned fail dismally and that is one of the reasons why we get the situation that exists today. Senator McManus obviously had spoken to certain trade union secretaries in Victoria, and they are fed to the teeth if they feel that some conciliation commissioners with whom they have to grapple are completely out of step and, what is worse, if they do not come into their chambers in a proper frame of mind to appear to be judicial. Some of these things are probably unpleasant, but anything I have said in this chamber I have said outside in the past and I would say it again.
– I address myself to the Budget. I. support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and I reject the amendments submitted by Senators Murphy and McManus. As I see it, the Budget is a statement of the recent economic expansion of this country. It takes stock of the economy and sets out our prospects for the future. I have listened to many speeches on the motion and I regret that Senator Mulvihill has made this bitter attack, firstly on a Mr Murray Stewart who, I understand, died many year; ago, and secondly on Mr Commissioner Portus who at the present time is adjudicating in connection with arbitration matters. I believe that the honourable senator has not brought any evidence convincing to this Senate of the incapacity of Mr Portus as a conciliation commissioner.
– I was before Conciliation Commissioner Murray Stewart and I knew that he had had too much to drink.
– I regret that Senator Mulvihill has used the terms that he has used. My friend Senator Wright referred quite rightly to the fact that neither gentleman was exercising the judicial powers of the Commonwealth and consequently it was technically possible for Senator Mulvihill to speak in the manner in which he did speak, but I still regret the remarks that he made and I do not think it is worthy of a senator to attack conciliation commissioners in that way.
I desire to say just a word or two about some of the facts revealed in the Budget which I think’ show to the great credit of the people of this country. In 1966-67 the gross national product rose by 9%. After allow,ance for price increases it works out at between 5% and 6% increase in national production in real terms. Employment was 2.5% greater this year. Unfortunately, the employment increase has not been uniform over Australia. The State that I represent, South Australia, is at the moment suffering some unemployment. I therefore -regret very much that the rise in employment has not been uniform. However, the prospects of the year ahead are, I think, very great. I am encouraged by the very recent rise in the wool price after the rather disastrous fall last week. Prices for metals and minerals, which are such an important export for Australia, are very firm and the indications are that they will rise. Consequently, I would think, Australia’s export income could well be ahead this year, as it was last year. I do not propose to deal with the specific matters in the Budget to any extent because I propose to address myself specifically to them when the Bills to give effect to matters set out in the Budget come before the Senate.
I desire to talk on several subjects that have not been mentioned by honourable senators so far. I wish to make some remarks in relation to the Pacific area. I have mentioned from time to time the importance of the area lying immediately to the east of Australia, from New Guinea to the north right over to Nauru to the east, taking in the French Polynesian islands and the island of Fiji. This is an area on which this Parliament should focus some attention from time to time. I am pleased that the Government recently arranged for a small delegation comprised of members of both Houses and all parties to visit this area. From discussions I have had with members of that delegation I gained the impression that the visit was very much appreciated by the people living in those islands.
The Budget includes provision for certain money to be spent in the area. For instance, this year $269,000 is set aside for the South Pacific Commission. There is also this year a considerable increase in the amount set aside for the South Pacific aid programme, from $200,000 to $420,000. I have a little to say about the South Pacific Commission and the South Pacific aid programme. The appropriation for the South Pacific aid programme is a departure in government thinking. I regard it as of great significance. The South Pacific Commission originated in the days of the late Dr Evatt. Shortly after World War II I understand that he, as Minister for External Affairs, thought it would be a good idea to join with Great Britain, France, the United States of America, New Zealand and Holland - all countries with interests in the
South Pacific area - to form a commission which would be interested in the health and economic and agricultural development of the area. Papua and New Guinea is of course part of the area. In those days the Dutch held as a colony the western part of the island; the Australian Government had responsibility for the eastern part of the island. The United States of America was responsible for the island of Guam as one of its territories. The trust territories between Guam and New Guinea were administered by the United Nations. Great Britain had interests in the Pacific area through the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony and the island of Fiji. Samoa was then a trust territory of New Zealand, which also administered certain other small islands in the vicinity. The French had territories in New Caledonia and Polynesia and certain islands in between.
It was arranged that these nations should join in the Commission. Australia, because it had the largest interest with its two million people in Papua and New Guinea, of course contributed the lion’s share. This year our contribution is about $269,000, or approximately 32% of the total budget of the Commission. I compliment the Australian Government of 1947 for its lead, which was continued by the present Government’s taking such an interest in the Commission. The Department of Territories and the Department of External Affairs supply two Commissioners and two Commissioners represent the other leading countries that contribute to the Commission. I have been privileged to attend the Commission’s meetings and I have been impressed by the dedication of its officers. The French supply the head of the Health Section, Australia the head of the Agricultural Section and New Zealand the head of the Economics Section. From time to time the occupants of the positions change, and the junior officers also change. People are seconded from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Commonwealth Bank and other institutions to serve as officers of the Commission.
It has been quite interesting to observe the work that Australians are doing in connection with the Commission. It is not a political body in any sense of the word. It does not interest itself in the function of government. The countries that normally are responsible for these areas continue their administration without any let or hindrance from the Commission. The Commission supports the work programmes in connection with economic advancement, health and agriculture. It is very good for Australia to be interested in the Pacific area and I would like to see that interest grow. Recently I visited the University of Papua and New Guinea. It is in its second year. At least four or five students from the Pacific area are studying at the University and by supporting it in the way that the Government is doing, it is creating an educational forum, as it were, for the more promising students from the Melanesian area. I think it is a step in the right direction. I hope that the University of Papua and New Guinea will become the headquarters of Melanesian learning in the area and will attract students from Guam and the American islands to the north. Students could very well come from the British Solomon Islands Protectorate and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony to the University of Papua and New Guinea. I think it is preferable for them to attend such a university than to travel to England, Hawaii, New York or Washington as they are doing at present. It is quite important that Australia takes the lead in providing facilities for tertiary education.
I wish to say a few words about Australia’s representation in the Pacific area. At present we have a Commissioner who is stationed in Fiji. I am rather concerned at the change in the allotment of money for our representation in Fiji. At present the sum of $37,000 has been set aside for salaries for our representatives there. On seeking details I learnt that last year there was a Commissioner, an officer of the Department of External Affairs and a clerk, but this year there is to be a Commissioner, no officer from the Department of External Affairs and two clerks. I think it is a great pity that the important office of the Australian Commissioner in Fiji has been downgraded, as it were, by the removal of an officer of the Department of External Affairs. I would like to know why, in the light of the increasing importance of the Pacific, area to Australia, this change has taken place. I think there should be a High Commissioner and a Deputy Commissioner in Fiji because of the importance of the area and the tremendous distances that the officer representing Australia has to travel. I should like to see a Commissioner and a Deputy Commissioner there because the Deputy Commissioner could serve such areas as the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony.
As you know, Mr Acting Deputy President, Ocean Island is one of the islands of that colony and is of tremendous importance to Australia because of the operations there of the British Phosphate Commissioners. Rock phosphate, is gathered there as well as at Nauru, which is about 150 miles away, for shipping to Australian superphosphate producers. These areas are very important to Australia. Because so many Australians are: living on those isolated islands, instead of cutting down our external affairs representation in Fiji we should at least retain the two representatives, making one a High Commissioner and the other a Deputy Commissioner. I should like the Government to give some consideration to this suggestion.
The Government, as I pointed out earlier, has raised considerably the amount allocated for South Pacific aid. The South Pacific Aid Programme contribution has risen from $200,000 to $420,000, This programme is largely controlled bf the office in Fiji. That is another reason why the grading of the officers at that post should not be lowered as appears to be happening at the present time. The education programme is very, very important. I was interested today to receive a notice concerning the training of people from West Samoa by Australia as part of this Aid Programme. When I was in Fiji I saw a large technical school which had been constructed largely as a result of Australia’s aid under this Programme. I will be interested, at the appropriate time, to ascertain the details of how the Government expects to spend so much additional money under this Programme.
I want to refer now to another area of the Pacific which is of great importance to Australia, an area to which I think the Government should pay more attention. I refer to New Caledonia, a. French Territory, which is only about 1,900 miles from Australia. New Caledonia has an excellent air service. Qantas, the French airline and Pan American Airways all operate through New Caledonia from Sydney. There are splendid hotels there. In time it could be one of the great tourist ports of the Pacific area and of the world. There are about 60,000 people living there, half of whom are French or the nationals of other European countries and the others are Pacific Islanders, Tonkinese and Indonesians. 1 think that the newly formed Australian Tourist Commission could well start ils overseas operations by opening an office in New Caledonia because many people in that area would regard Australia as a vacation playground. It is a long way for them to travel to metropolitan France. If pressure were put on, if a proper office were opened in New Caledonia, and if a real effort were made to attract tourists from there, great benefit could accrue to Australia. I should like to see the New Caledonians attracted not only to Sydney, the nearest port in Australia, but to Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and central Australia. AH those areas could be advertised in New Caledonia.
Therefore I think the Australian Government should do something about the consul’s office there, lt should be enlarged. There should be a cultural section in that office to give information about educational facilities in Australia because many of the children of the New Caledonians could come to Australia for their education if this information was available. It is not often that we find so near Australia, just 900 miles away - which is a lot nearer to Sydney than is Perth - 30,000 people with a very high standard of living. As you know, Sir, the nickel deposits in New Caledonia account for a good deal of wealth going to that area. I think the Australian Government should improve its facilities there, establish a tourist office and a cultural centre in association with the consulate in order to attract the people to Australia.
More attention could well be given by the Government to the entire Pacific area, lt is very close to Australia. The Second World War proved how strategically important this area is to Australia. There is a good chance of trade being developed with this area. Of course, New Caledonia is part of the European Common Market and Australia could have some difficulty in getting goods into that country because of trade and tariff restrictions. But unless we do something, unless the Government recognises this area as being potentially valuable, we will not reap the benefits from it that we could reap.
I turn now from our position in the Pacific to another matter of which the Government should take notice. I refer to the importance of the oceans surrounding us. Australia is a large island and I do not think that the valuable oceans around us are being worked effectively. In the United States of America the President has available to him a science advisory committee. Recently, a panel of that committee, known as the panel of oceanography-
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 tlo now adjourn.
Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) [10.30J- Mr President, I wish to mention to the Senate a matter of some importance to my own State. I believe that my comments are applicable also to other States of the Commonwealth. The Department of Civil Aviation has some provisions whereby shires and cities in rural areas receive some refund of the costs involved in the development of local airfields, for which they are mainly responsible. This matter is of great concern now that the Government is taking particularly strong action to bring about a third level of air service.
I congratulate the Government for this particular move, which will have a very heartening effect in many areas beyond the great metropolises and will encourage people to take advantage of the- quicker facility both by way of passenger service now and by way of goods transport in the future: Some problems are associated with this move. I do not know whether honourable senators are aware of the enormous expense that is placed on the people, in the various shires which have endeavoured to secure their own airfields. Let me take a current comment by one particular shire in Victoria which is involved in quite sizeable expenditure to provide an electrically operated flare path and non-directional beacons. The position here is that the Department of Civil Aviation has said to this particular shire, the shire of Swan Hill: ‘You go ahead and install an electrically operated flare path and non-directional beacons and provided that eventually an air service becomes established we will refund the money to you’. The shire of Swan Hill makes this particular comment: Both the shire and the city councils have jointly agreed to finance temporarily the installation of these facilities. The Department of Civil Aviation has agreed to refund this outlay when it has funds available, provided that the commercial service which a particular air company has promised to run between Swan Hill and Melbourne 3 days a week is sufficiently patronised and indications show that this patronage will be maintained or increased. The council says: ‘You will appreciate that this is rather an intangible element on which to risk some $16,000 or $18,000 by a council’.
I made the original comment and congratulated the Government on moving into the development of this third airline service, and I combine that with the Government’s announced policy regarding the development of tourism to this country. I believe that both the development of this third airline service and the development of tourism are combined. The Government must take into account that a differentiation must be made between the charges applied by Civil Aviation to the metropolitan airfields and those applied to the country municipal airfields where the people in the particular area have provided their own funds for the development of the airfield. I do not know whether it would surprise you, Mr President, to know that the people in the shire of Shepparton have provided well over $69,000 for the development of their airfield facilities. They may receive in return from the Department of Civil Aviation a grant of some $7,000. The shire of
Swan Hill will require the financing from local money of some $100,000 for the work needed on the airport there. In Echuca an amount of $30,000 will probably be required by the local people. I have a comment from the shire of Horsham that they believe that the dollar for dollar contribution on maintenance and capital is entirely insufficient for what is required today, and with this statement I agree. The people of the shire and the town of Portland will have contributed over $125,000 of their own money to secure their airport facilities under the local ownership plan. The people of the shire of Warracknabeal will have provided over $40,000. The point I make here is that the Government must take some cognisance of this fact: If one is fortunate enough to live near an international airfield one will pay one’s ordinary taxes to the Commonwealth and will be free of any further charges. If one is unfortunate enough to live in one of the shires that I have mentioned one will have to pay not only one’s taxes but also the local council will have to spend many hours contemplating these matters of the establishment of an airfield and will certainly tax the local people to ensure that these facilities are provided. The Treasurer recently indicated an intention to introduce a passenger service charge which will be payable by passengers on both international and domestic air services.I believe I would have the agreement of the Senate when I say that the Department of Civil Aviation should take cognisance of the fact that where people in a local area are contributing towards facilities some differentiation should be made as to the charges which are applied in that particular instance.
– I will refer the opinion of the honourable senator to the Minister for Civil Aviation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670905_senate_26_s35/>.