26th Parliament · 1st Session
I lie PRESIDENT (Senator the Mon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– ] direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. 1 refer to recent public statements by him criticising the universities for ‘shirking their responsibilities’ with regard to standards of admission of students. Do the Minister’s views represent the official attitude of the Government on the subject of university entrance standards and quotas? If they do, is the subject under active and official discussion with the universities?
– There is no such active and official discussion with the universities as such, the vice-chancellors as such or any of the bodies that might be regarded or might regard themselves as speaking for the universities. It is my own view that I have stated. That view is that the universities have not been living up to what I would regard as their proper responsibilities in the sense of setting what they believe to be an academic standard that a boy or girl should reach before being admitted to a university. The academic standard might well be such that in the judgment of those responsible for the universities a course would be completed successfully in minimum time, or minimum time plus one year, with some variations. I am not saying at this stage what the academic standard should be. I would not bc able to do that. But if the universities were to accept the responsibility of setting an entrance standard of true matriculation - that is. what ‘matriculation’ really means; reaching a standard sufficient in the judgment of the university for entrance to the university - they would very likely save very large sums of public money on a number of students who now go to a university with perhaps eight chances out of ten of failing. It would be much better for the universities themselves to set such a standard.
If they did that we could have a public discussion on whether sufficient funds were available to universities to enable them to admit all the people who reached the standard that they believed was required for a university education. That would be better than doing, as some of them tend to do at present, namely, use their financial allocations as an excuse for saying, in effect: ‘We as universities would like to admit everybody, but we cannot do that’. I do not think such a statement exhibits an attitude of living up to the responsibilities that the universities should accept.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether the construction of the sister ship to the ‘Princess of Tasmania” is behind schedule or ahead of schedule. Can the Minister give any further indication as to the date of completion of this ship?
– I shall endeavour to obtain for the honourable senator the information he seeks.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ft is further to a question I asked him yesterday. I ask the Minister now whether he has yet an answer to the second part of the question that I asked yesterday. I will repeat that part of my question. It is:
Were any decisions made at the conference of fisheries ministers held in Perth earlier this month to refuse permission to foreign owned vessels or vessels operating under joint foreign-owned Australian ownership to use any Australian port, slipping or general maintenance facilities, in an endeavour to retain as much as possible of this industry to wholly Australian-owned operators?
I would point out that the vessels to which I was referring in the earlier part of my question and to which I now refer also are those vessels engaged in the prawning industry.
– My answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
No final decision was reached on these matters. However, the question of the use of port facilities for foreign fishing vessels except in cases of emergency is still under examination by Commonwealth and State departmental officers, who will meet again next month to formulate recommendations in the matter. Under the existing prohibited imports regulations, foreign fishing vessels are not permitted to land their catch in Australian ports and thus they are not able to use processing facilities in Australia. The landing of catch from foreign vessels operating under joint venture arrangements will depend on whether approval is given to the setting up of joint venture arrangements. Applications to establish joint venture projects will be examined by the Commonwealth and the States concerned and, if approved, the projects would be subject to certain conditions including the replacement of the foreign vessels by Australian vessels within a specified time.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister seen the report published in yesterday’s Press to the effect that the British Government has introduced what are termed ‘tough new measures’ in relation to consumption of alcohol by persons prior to driving motor vehicles and which the Minister concerned claims will prevent hundreds of road accidents and thus dramatically reduce road deaths? In the light of this enlightened approach, which is similar to that which I have strongly advocated in speeches in this Senate, quoting from authoritative reports of expert research teams in Australia, will the Minister examine the suggestion that I made last month that He call a conference of State Ministers administering relevant State laws, together with Opposition leaders, in an endeavour to have concerted action taken on a non-party political basis to introduce similar restrictive legislation in Australia in a major effort to cut Australia’s tragic and mounting road toll?
– I did see the report. I read it with considerable interest having regard to my own background as chairman of the Senate select committee appointed to inquire into and report upon road safety. I recall that the use of breathalysers and tests was the subject of extensive evidence given to the committee. I feel bound to say that there has always been a degree of controversy as to the efficacy of this approach to the problem. If I recall correctly, the select committee made certain recommendations in relation to the use of breathalysers but essentially, of course, this is a matter for the States. I think the honorable senator acknowledges this in his question. Any current developments in other countries, I understand, would very properly be a subject for discussion at the Australian Transport Advisory Council level. For that reason, I am quite certain that the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who has the portfolio which is linked to this question of road safety, will very properly from time to time be raising this matter with the various States. It is not something about which one can be dogmatic, There are schools of thought which do not subscribe to these measures as being a very effective means of dealing with the problem and the significant blood alcohol content is also a subject of some controvery. For these reasons I shall refer the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I have no doubt that he will examine the matter very carefully and take any action that he thinks is appropriate through the medium of the Australian Transport Advisory Council.
– I desire to inform the Senate that a delegation from the House of Representatives of the Diet of Japan led by Mr Koshiro Ueki is at present in the gallery of the Senate. On behalf of honourable senators I extend to the visitors a warm welcome.
Honourable Senators ; Hear, heart
– I direct to the Minister representing the Attorney-General a question which relates to the dispensation of natural justice. Has the Minister seen a report in the ‘Canberra Times’ of criticism of a reporter by an Australian Capital Territory stipendiary magistrate, Mr Dobson? Is it a fact that the reporter was not in court and was not charged, and that the criticism was based on an unsworn statement? Will the Government consider legislation to keep such judicial officers within the limits of propriety and to preserve natural justice by preventing adverse criticism in court of persons who are given no opportunity to defend themselves from such criticism?
– It appears to me that what the honourable senator is suggesting is that the Executive should adopt the principle of passing legislation to tell members of the judicature or branches of it what they ought to do in their courts. I think that on reflection the honourable senator might see a considerable amount of danger in the acceptance of such i principle. I really think that it would be an extremely odd thing to do but I shall bring the matter to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that last night there was shown in Parliament House an excellent documentary film produced by one Anthony Buckley entitled Forgotten Cinema’, which sets out the history of the Australian film industry? ls the Minister further aware that amongst other things the commentary points out that whilst the industry showed the promise of greatness in its infancy and although between I93t and 1940 some 75 films were produced in Australia, from 1940 to the present time only approximately 15 Australian films have been produced? ls the Minister prepared to ask his colleagues to join him to view the second screening which will take place this evening, and if they do not come away holding their heads in shame for their failure to do anything to encourage and foster this type of important Australian industry, will they at least give some consideration-
– Order! The honourable senator will ask his question, not make a statement.
– Will the Minister give some consideration to implementing the recommendations of the Vincent Senate select committee?
– It is true that a film was shown in Parliament House last night during the suspension of the sitting. I saw part of it. The film expresses a point of view. It makes a case, as no doubt it is entitled to do. However, asking the PostmasterGeneral, any persons associated with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, or anyone else, what their reactions would be would be quite outside the realm of an answer to a question without notice. As the honourable senator indicated, there was a Senate select committee. Its report is still under consideration by the Government. Beyond that I am not prepared to make any comment on the substance of the question.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry advise when we may receive the report of the fishing industry conference, held in February last, which comprised representatives of the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industry and the State Departments of Agriculture?
– I know the honourable senator’s interest in this matter. I have at the back of my mind the thought that 1 saw something about this a couple of days ago. I cannot answer the question but I will transmit it to the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Can she inform the Senate whether the attention of the Department has been directed to the suggestion by Great Britain that she may withdraw certain military forces from bases in Australia’s near north? Being aware that the qualities and qualifications of the individuals in those forces appear admirable material to add to the Australian community, I ask: Will the Minister direct the Department to survey closely the possibility of attracting members of those forces to take up residence in Australia?
– I will have pleasure in directing the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, to the suggestion contained in this question.
(Senator Turnbull having addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, and the Minister having commenced his reply)
– Order! I am not too sure whether this question should be allowed. I rule it out of order.
– I raise a point of order. I am not interested in the question but I I am interested in the principles by which a question should be permitted. I wish to bring to your notice, Mr President, that that question has been specifically considered in another place by Mr Speaker and, after deliberation, he has ruled that matters not within the judgment of the Commission are in order. I am not seeking to bind you, but I raise this aspect with the intention of bringing it to your notice for your consideration.
– I will defer consideration of the question.
– In fairness to the honourable senator, I should point out that he did not say that this came out in the course of the ‘Voyager’ inquiry. I may have put him in the wrong position by saying that I had seen this in the course of the Voyager’ inquiry.
– I will go into the matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport or to the appropriate Minister. I ask: Is the Minister aware that British seamen have walked off ships in Australian ports when those ships have been bound for China on account of the treatment recently received by seamen in that country? Can the Minister advise what safeguards are guaranteed to Australian seamen or other seamen manning ships carrying Australian wheat, wool, pig iron or other commodities to Communist China?
– As the honourable senator properly indicated, he was not certain whether this question should be directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In my opinion the subject matter of it would bc outside the responsibilities of the Minister for Shipping and Transport and would bc within the province of the Minister for External Affairs. In those circumstances I think it should be placed on the notice paper and if it is we shall make a decision as to who is the appropriate Minister to receive it.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is there any possibility of the ‘Voyager’ inquiry ever ending?
– I presume that the honourable senator knows the answer to his question as well as I do. Of course the inquiry will come to an end.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Does Australia have reciprocal arrangements with New Zealand for the payment of repatriation benefits? In view of the real meaning of the term ANZAC, I ask whether New Zealand ex-servicemen or their dependants, including widows, who are now permanently resident in Australia, are eligible for hospital treatment in our repatriation hospitals.
– The honourable senator is quite right: There is a reciprocal arrangement between Australia and New Zealand in relation to repatriation. If a New Zealander receiving a benefit from his own country comes to Australia we pay the pension or the amount that is involved under an arrangement that we have with New Zealand, and the New Zealand Government does the same thing for Australians who are in that country. If New Zealanders in Australia are entitled to hospital benefits we provide them.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Mindful of the position of the Minister for National Development as Chairman of the Australian Forestry Council, I ask: Will he ensure that action is taken to investigate the feasibility of Australia acquiring an aerial infra-red scanner of the type which is operated from a Convair aircraft and which has been used effectively for forest fire detection in the United States of America?
– I will refer this question to the Minister for National Development to see whether the Forestry and Timber Bureau has taken any steps to examine this situation and the aircraft and equipment to which the honourable senator referred.
– My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for
External Affairs. Will the Minister obtain and lay on the table of the Senate a copy of the ultimatum recently sent by the Government of Communist China to the British Government in Hong Kong complaining in general of the British Government’s handling of recent industrial trouble in Hong Kong? To enable honourable senators to make a comparative study of this document, will the Minister also lay on the table of the Senate copies of any documents which emanated from left wing circles in Australia to the British Government in Hong Kong on virtually the same subject matter?
– I understand that the Communist Chinese Government sent a note to the British Government about the Communist inspired disorders in Hong Kong - a note which was cast in such undiplomatic and stupid terms that the British Government refused to accept it. I think that is the note to which the honourable senator referred. I will see whether the Department of External Affairs has a copy and I will ask the Minister for External Affairs whether I can obtain one and lay it on the table of the Senate.
I do not know whether the honourable senator wants me to place with it copies of any statement which emanated from left wing circles in Australia. I think what he has in mind is that I should table at the same time a copy of the petition sent from a group of left wing Labor people to the British Government protesting at the action of the British Government and calling the British Fascist aggressors, in order that he might sec whether the language is the same. I shall endeavour to do this.
– I direct to the Minister for Repatriation a question which follows upon that asked by Senator Tangney about reciprocity between Australia and New Zealand in relation to repatriation matters. Does a similar arrangement exist between the Australian Government and the Government of the United Kingdom?
– Yes. If exservicemen from the United Kingdom think they are entitled to repatriation benefits such as medical benefits or service pensions, we help them to make their application to the United Kingdom Government. If the United
Kingdom Government decides that they are entitled to such benefits, we act as the agent for the United Kingdom.
– I address the following questions to the Minister for Education and Science: What was the cost to the Commonwealth Government when State Education Departments administered the Commonwealth scholarship scheme? Now that the Commonwealth has taken over the administration of Commonwealth scholarships, how many civil servants will be added to the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science?
– I have not >n my mind the cost to the Commonwealth when the State Governments administered the Commonwealth university scholarship scheme. I take it that is what the honourable senator was referring to.
– The Commonwealth reimbursed the full cost of the civil servants who were engaged in administering the scheme. I would hope that, with the Commonwealth taking over administration of the scheme, there might even be a saving. However, I think the cost is more likely to be about the same.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been directed to a statement by the Victorian Minister for Health that hospital insurance is difficult to sell? Has consideration been given by the Commonwealth and State Departments of Health to conducting a general publicity campaign designed to attract a higher percentage of the population into insurance for hospital and medical benefits?
– I have noted the statement which the honourable senator has mentioned. I shall draw the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Health, to her question.
– Earlier Senator Lillico asked a question about the sister ship to the ‘Princess of Tasmania’. 1 now have some information on the matter. The first section of the double bottom was laid on berth on 18th August of this year. The second section has recently been laid and good progress is being made on the plate preparation and prefabrication. The engine is being observed under tests in France. I understand that there was some delay because of industrial trouble at the engine builder’s works in France. The ship is expected to be launched late next year and to be completed by mid-March 1969. This work is being done at the State Dockyard in Newcastle.
(Question No. 241)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
United State of America
The Commission made the following major decisions at the 19th meeting:
(Question No. 264)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Postmaster-General inform the Parliament whether the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is now considering a translator network, in lieu of the formerly proposed Bellenden Ker highpowered television station, to serve the Cairns area, and whether such a translator network would serve the area adequately and at a fraction of the establishment cost of the proposed highpowered station?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer:
The question of determining the means of providing permanent television service to the Cairns area is a matter of complexity particularly concerning difficulties and costs of access to suitable elevated sites in the area. The matter has been the subject of very lengthy and complex investigations. Originally a transmitter site on Mount Bartle Frere was selected for the coverage of the whole of the Cairns area. However, the cost of access to the site was found, on further investigation, to be much greater than was originally anticipated. Accordingly, the question of the site for permanent high-power transmitters is being re-examined. Also, further work is being undertaken to consider the merits of proposals that service to the area should be provided through a network’ of low-powered or translator stations as opposed to high-powered stations. As work in connection with these matters has not yet been finalisedI am unable to comment on the relative merits of the alternative systems.
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Development of Airfield Pavements at Mackay Airport, Queensland.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
DC9 and Electra aircraft on regular service, there is a need for the airport pavement works in this reference.
Debate resumed from 5 September (vide page 492), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That Regulation 45 and the Second Schedule of the Trade Practices Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1967 No. 98, and made under the Trade Practices Act 1965-1967, be disallowed.
– by leave - I propose to ask for leave to withdraw this motion for disallowance. The circumstances are that, pursuant to the notice, I moved on 5th September that regulation 45 and the Second Schedule be disallowed. By regulations dated 18th September and tabled here yesterday, regulation 45 and the Second Schedule have been repealed. The new regulations provide for the same matters, in substance, as the old regulation 45 and the Second Schedule. The form has been changed in that the exemption of the Australian Canners Association will be provided for in a regulation separate from the regulations exempting the five other bodies. Honourable senators will recall that on an earlier occasion I informed the Government that if it withdrew regulation 45 and introduced another regulation exempting only the five bodies the Opposition would not move to disallow the new regulation. The Government has introduced such a regulation. But it has also made a regulation again exempting the Australian Canners Association.
Ordinarily, if a motion to disallow a regulation were pending in the Senate, and the regulation were repealed and another regulation or set of regulations in substantially the same form were introduced, that would be regarded as an abuse of the Senate’s regulation making power. However, here it is clear that the Government has acted in good faith and not with any intention to delay or frustrate the effective exercise of the Senate’s function to disallow regulations. Indeed the action has been taken in order that the question of the exemption of the Australian Canners Association may be dealt with conveniently and free from any confusion concerning the exemption of the other bodies. I have already given notice of a motion for disallowance of a new regulation which would exempt only the Australian Canners Association, and this is to be dealt with expeditiously. No prejudice could possibly occur and I therefore ask for leave to withdraw the motion which is Order of the Day No. 1.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
– Pursuant to notice which was given yesterday, I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard Statutory Rules 1967 No. 125 which provide for amendments of the Trade Practices Regulations.
STATUTORY RULES 1967 No. 125
REGULATIONS UNDER THE TRADE PRACTICES ACT 1965-1967*
I, THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL in and over the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby make the following Regulations under the Trade Practices Act 1965-1967.
Dated this eighteenth day of September, 1967.
By His Excellency’s Command,
Amendments of the Trade Practices Regulations
Before regulation 46 of the Trade Practices Regulations the following regulation is inserted: - “45a. - (1) None of the provisions of the Act apply to any agreements made by, or practices of, The Australian Canners’ Association that relate to the marketing of canned deciduous fruits. “ (2.) For the purposes of the last preceding sub-regulation,’ canned deciduous fruits ‘ means canned fruits being -
SECOND SCHEDULE Regulation 45
Organizations and Bodies Exempted From Act in Pursuance of Section 106 (2.)
Ricegrowers’ Co-operative Mills Limited.
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.
The Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia.
Statutory Rules 1967, No. 98.
The substance of my argument in support of the motion has already been put, andI do not want to take the Senate unnecessarily through the matter. The Senate is aware that the Trade Practices Act is designed to preserve competition. It is designed to ensure that agreements and practices in trade and commerce come under the supervision of the Commissioner of Trade Practices. If he thinks that any of these examinable practices may be in conflict with the Act, he may, after consultation with the bodies concerned, institute proceedings. Then if the Trade Practices Tribunal determines that the agreements or practices are in conflict with the Act appropriate orders may be issued in respect of them. The whole purpose of the enactment is to prevent practices operating in the community and agreements being made which would be injurious to the public interest. That is the great test.
Provision has been made in the Act for the exemption of certain bodies. We know that when that provision was included at a very late stage of the consideration of the Bill it was indicated that it would be used to exempt statutory marketing authorities. The Australian Canners Association is not a statutory marketing authority. Information supplied by the Marketing Division of the Department of Primary Industry in Canberra discloses that the Association represents both private and co-operative canners; that it has five sections dealing with jam, fruit, tomatoes, pineapples and condiments; that each section has a committee of management; that there is a council on which all sections are repressented; and that the Association is concerned mainly with domestic sales but advises the Australian Canned Fruits Board on export matters.
– Which regulation is the honourable senator moving to disallow? As I understand the position, regulation 45 deals with Ricegrowers Co-operative Mills Ltd, the Australian Dairy Industry Council, the Australian Dried Fruits Association and the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities, and regulation 45a is the one that deals with the Australian Canners Association.
– That is right, but regulation 45a is the one that would be inserted in the Trade Practices Regulations by the regulation that we are moving to disallow. The form in which the new regulations have been made is that three regulations have been made. They repeal or amend other regulations. Regulation 2 of the amendments contained in Statutory Rules 1967 No. 125 would insert the new regulation 45a. It seems to us that the appropriate course in dealing with the regulations as presented is to move to disallow regulation 2 of the amendments contained in Statutory Rules 1967 No. 125 if we wish to bring an end to the new regulation 45a.
– I was looking at the notice paper under the heading ‘Orders of the day’, where regulation 45 is referred to.
– That motion has been withdrawn. It is clear that this is the appropriate method to prevent the new regulation 45a being inserted. The position is that the body with which we are concerned is not one of the kind that it was indicated woud be liable to be exempted if the Bill were amended in accordance with the proposal made in the House of Representatives. It is true that it would come within the strict wording of the enactment but as was put to the Senate previously the legislation was passed - that is, the amendment was approved by the Senate - on the representation that it would enable the exemption of certain bodies. This body is not within the list of bodies concerned. That is one reason.
The next reason advanced in support of the motion is that the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia objects to the exemption of the Australian Canners Association and claims that the practices of the Canners Association and, indeed, its agreement, are in conflict with the Act and contrary to the public interest That is the substance of its claim. We of the Opposition made it clear on the last occasion this matter was before the Senate - and I make it clear again - that we are not in the position of judging the correctness of the contentions advanced by the National Association of Retail Grocers or by the Australian Canners Association. We do not seek to put ourselves in the position of saying whether what is being done or what is proposed to be done by the Australian Canners Association is or is not in the public interest.
I have been supplied - and I understand that the Government has been supplied also - with a statement setting out the contentions of the Australian Canners Association. Perhaps it might be fair to refer to this statement because on the earlier occasion when I discussed this matter I referred in some detail to what had been advanced by the National Association of Retail Grocers. The Australian Canners Association states:
The products marketed under the Orderly Marketing Scheme comprise peaches, pears, apricots and mixtures of these fruits.
Marketing agreements for canned deciduous fruits have operated for many years in Australia. However, as a result of serious price instability during 1962 and 1963, caused by increased production arising from soldier and closer settlement orchard schemes, a series of industry meetings was held from which the current orderly marketing scheme was evolved.
It was considered that stabilised marketing was essential, and the Government, when introducing Excise Legislation on Canned Deciduous Fruits in late 1963, made a condition of its agreement to the legislation in the following terms -
That the Industry be informed as a condition of Government acceptance of the Plan that it expects the Industry to adopt a rational approach to the domestic market for canned deciduous fruits and to continue its promotional activities at home and overseas.’
The Australian Canners Association has forwarded with its statement a copy of the provisions of what is described as its orderly marketing scheme.
The Association goes on to state:
Under the current orderly marketing scheme independent retailers are enjoying greater protection from the large national chains than was the case in earlier years when there existed a larger differential between the upper and lower limits of trade discounts.
The Australian Canners’ Association recognises that any marketing scheme requires constant supervision and review, and therefore has always been prepared to consider proposals from any retailing interest, including NARGA members, many of whom are already in recognised retail buying groups.
The Australian canning industry must maintain a stabilised domestic price structure to continue its present level of operation where over 70% of annual production is required to be exported. Overseas exchange earnings from these exports exceed $40m per annum. The industry’s position is identical with that of dried fruits, sugar, dairy products and other similar primary industries operating acceptable uniform pricing structures within the Australian market. As a result of the introduction in 1963 of orderly marketing within Australia, backed by an excise charge against canners, it has been possible to expand markets in Europe, Canada and other countries for the benefit of Australia generally.
The Association states also that the fruit tonnage processed from primary producers in 1967 totalled 180,000 tons, valued at approximately $17.5m. It should be noted that according to Australian Canned Fruits Board statistics 82.9% was processed by grower owned co-operatives. Statistics from the annual reports of the Board indicate that there has been a dramaticincrease in production since 1960. In 1961 production was 4,820,000 basic cartons. It rose in 1966 to 9,832,000 and it is estimated that in 1967 production will be 10,295,000 cartons, so there will be an increase of 113% over that period. The industry employs in the production of canned deciduous fruits up to 5,000 employees, with a total annual payroll exceeding $6m. Some 3,000 deciduous fruit orchards are dependent on the stability of the industry. Their annual payroll is in excess of $5m. The canners expend over $20m annually for goods and services from Australian industries covering sugar, tinplate, cartons, labels, fuel, power, rail and road freights, and so on. The Association summarises its position in these terms: 1 1 can be seen that Lnc implications of the marketing within Australia of canned deciduous fruits extend far beyond the industry itself. Stabilised marketing of canned deciduous fruits is important for the welfare of the pineapple industry in Queensland and the apple and berry industries of Tasmania, as returns to growers in these Stales are largely dependent on the levels of returns of canned fruits generally.
The industry is one of the largest Australian users of cane sugar - a special relationship with that industry through the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee was established under the Sugar Agreement. The maintenance of the present production levels of the canned fruits industry is of particular importance to the sugar industry, as latest statistics show that the increase in consumption of sugar within Australia is almost entirely in the manufacturing sector.
The deciduous canned fruits industry is conscious of its interdependence with these associated industries and of the need to maintain at all times an orderly and responsible approach to the marketing of ils products both in Australia and overseas.
That is the viewpoint of the Australian Canners Association and it is important that what it has to say on the matter should be heard. 1 will not repeat what was pui by the Grocers Association beyond saying that it contends that its members are being unfairly discriminated against and that what is being done is against the public interest. The canners, as 1 indicated on the last occasion that we discussed the matter, contend that what they are doing is in the public interest and they are in no doubt that they can demonstrate that what they are doing is in the public interest. The approach of the Opposition is that in this situation the commonsense thing is for the body which is concerned with these matters - noi the Senate - to make a decision. We cannot determine the rights or wrongs of these matters. Here is a substantial contention advanced by the grocers that certain opera tions are contrary to the public interest and here is an answer by the canners that what they are doing is in the public interest.
As 1 understand it - perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong - the Australian Canners Association did not ask for the exemption. As I read what has been put to me here, they are not asking for the exemption now. They are contending that what they are doing is proper and in the public interest. In the circumstances, our view is that an exemption should not be granted, lt is for the Senate to decide this question. We take the responsibility of extending these exemptions because the Senate is vested, along with the other House, with the power to determine these matters. We have the opportunity to decide whether, in circumstances, such as this, an exemption should be made:
I put the view to the Senate - I ask the Senate to adopt it - that it is proper in such a situation that the Australian Canners Association should come within the purview of the Act in the same way as do other bodies and that questions such as the grocers have raised should be dealt with by the responsible authority. They should be taken up with the Commissioner of Trade Practices who would consult with the Australian Canners Association, as he would be required to do if he thought there was anything operating against the public interest, and he could then decide, in accordance with the discretions given to him and the conditions qualifying the exercise of those discretions, whether any action should be taken by the Trade Practices Tribunal.
I repeat what I have put before: If what the canners are doing is not against the public interest, no damage will be done to the canners. They will simply be in the same situation as are other bodies. If it is against the public interest, who would want to see an exemption granted so that activities contrary to the public interest could be continued? In fairness to the canners let me say that their contention is that they are acting in the public interest. They do not wish lo be prejudiced in any way by discussions which should take place here in case the motion is carried. I make it quite clear that nothing which has been said by the Opposition is intended to be prejudicial to their contention, and the stand they maintain, that what they are doing is in accordance with the public interest which, they say, they can demonstrate. I repeat that, because I want it to be clearly understood that the Opposition is not making the judgment or the decision as to whether trade practices or agreements are in accordance with the public interest. We say that should be a matter for the officials appointed under the Act.
I ask the Senate, therefore, to carry this motion and to disallow the exemption.
– As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has said, much of the discussion covering the principles of this matter took place in an earlier debate and there is little point in traversing all the ground then covered. On the other hand I would ask the Senate, as a House of the Parliament of this country, not to accept the motion for disallowance which the Leader of the Opposition has asked us to accept. Let rue deal briefly with one point raised by the Leader of the Opposition early in his speech. He suggested, as he did on a previous occasion, that the Australian Canners Association does not fall within the definition given by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in the House of Representatives when, at a late hour of the night, he introduced a new clause. This is true. I think it was a slip of the tongue at the time but in any case it is obviously of no great significance because the other organisations included in the new regulation 45 do not fall within that definition either, yet the Leader of the Opposition has told us that he does not propose to oppose the exemption in the case of those organisations.
What the Senate must do, I thinK, is to make a judgment as to where the national interest lies and what effect the action it takes could have on those growing all fruits, not only deciduous fruits, although this matter relates to the canning of deciduous fruits. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, initially the Government considered it so important that there should be orderly marketing in Australia of fruits placed in cans - deciduous fruits such as peaches, apricots and pears - that it made it a condition of the legislation brought in in 1962-63 in relation to excise matters that the canners should make a rationalised, planned approach to the marketing of their product in Australia. Clearly there is a reason for this because an enormous amount of canned fruit is produced in Australia. 1 think the figure is as high as 180,000 tons. The market in Australia is clearly not large enough to accept anything like the quantity that can be produced. Therefore, as in the case of many other primary products, it is necessary to have a home consumption market price for the fruit produced in order ro help meet competition in export markets for that part of the fruit which is placed ‘n cans and which cannot be sold in Australia. This is not a matter of a few shillings here and there being at stake. Canned fruits create export earnings for the nation amounting to some $40m a year. As I said 180,000 tons of fruit is canned each year.
I point out to the Senate that the people who are canning this fruit are not, for the overwhelming part, people who are running a factory. They are the fruit growers themselves. According to figures given to me 83% of all the fruit that is put into cans is canned by co-operatives owned by the growers who get the direct benefit of being able to run the factories, and the indirect benefit of getting the full return for their product and the benefit of a home consumption price for their fruit. There are 3,000 orchardists, mainly in Victoria, directly dependent for their livelihood on their operations not being - I will not say threatened - disturbed in any way. The effect - if there were to be an effect - on the home consumption prices of deciduous fruits would not be confined to those who are growing deciduous fruits and putting those fruits into cans. If there were to be a return to the catastrophic home consumption prices which operated in 1962 and 1963 for these products, other fruit products which are canned would inevitably feel a reaction and their prices, too. would be adversely affected as a result of any break in the home consumption price for deciduous canned fruit. This matter is already causing some concern to the pineapple canning industry in Queensland, lt is concerned that something may be done which would interfere with the home consumption price of deciduous fruits and therefore would adversely affect the industry and the sugar industry which sells so much to those who put fruit into cans.
All I want to indicate, Mr Deputy President, is that it is not a question of the Senate setting itself up to be a court or commission or to decide whether a grocer who believes he is not given enough discount is right or whether the Australian Canners Association, which says it would give discounts if a national wholesale organisation were set up, is right. What the Senate would be doing would be to threaten or cause uncertainty in an industry of the character and size that I have described; in the people employed in it; in respect of the overseas openings which it has; in regard to the home consumption price which is necessary; and in the sugar industry and other fruit industries. Our judgment has to be based on whether this matter is sufficiently important for the Parliament to say that in the national interest the operations of this organisation should bc exempted from the provisions of the Trade Practices Act. The Government believes that it is sufficiently important and it asks the Senate to do the same.
I know - and this is quite a valid argument - that if we were to disallow this regulation the canners could go to the Commissioner of Trade Practices and make a case or some of the grocers could claim that the canners were not operating properly and could go before the Commissioner. The Commissioner could make a determination as to whether, in his view, the canners were operating in the public and national interest. But there are two objections I would have to that. Firstly, 1 am asking the Senate to say that in its view - the view of the House of Parliament - it in in the national interest that this organisation should continue to be exempt from the Trade Practices Act. If the Commissioner of Trade Practices found in favour of the Canners Association - I believe he would do so but who can tell - there would still be that period of uncertainly for the canners and the growers in the industry that a government, which had initially thought that a home consumption scheme was so essential and so important that it had made a condition of its legislation that the growers should do this and carry out promotional activity, no longer thought the industry was of such national importance after all and would turn it over to somebody else to decide whether it should continue to operate ia the way it was operating before.
The size of the crops to which we are referring are increasing very quickly. Consequently pressure is being applied by the growers through their canning cooperatives, to find new markets for the increased production. The situation is parallel to that of 5 or 6 years ago. There is a great temptation for an individual co-operative to drop the price below the agreed price at which the co-operatives are prepared to sell the product. It would then be possible for another to do the same. Then the race would be on and the bottom could fall out of the market until there was perhaps a shortage.
– Are they not really doing this with their price cutting for the big stores?
– No. I do not believe there is any validity in the statement that they are doing that. Of course, it is common practice to give a discount to anybody who is selling very large quantities of a product. But that is not the same as dropping the price for the product one is producing. I have spoken to the manager of the Leeton co-operative cannery. He was very disturbed at the thought that the Opposition’s action might succeed. His words to me, which I believe to be true, were these: ‘The industry at the present moment ig experiencing a period of great stress with its marketing in export areas. Competition is hard to meet in export areas. Any action at this stage which would introduce uncertainty into the domestic field could have very serious repercussions economically on the industry.’ I believe that those repercussions would be felt not by a vague industry which meant nothing but by thousands of people engaged in the growing of fruit in Victoria and other areas of Australia.
I can only put those few points of view. I do not dispute, the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that it is a matter of judgment for the Senate to decide which point of view it will accept. I am sure it would be to the benefit of the national economy and the growers of whom I have spoken if the Senate were to reject the motion proposed by the Leader of tha Opposition.
– When the original regulation, which provided for the exemption of six primary producing industries from the provisions of the Trade Practices Act, was brought before us my first inclination was to oppose the exemption of any of the industries, including the Australian Canners Association. Upon inquiry and investigation I discovered that good cases could be made out in favour of the exemption of each of the industries covered by the regulation. I suppose I could claim that I was supported in this connection by the Leader Of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) because that was his attitude in the first instance. Then he intimated to the Senate that he was prepared to agree to the exemption of the first five but that he had some doubts about the Australian Canners Association. This morning he indicated that he was not unsympathetic towards the case of the Canners Association but that he believed it was one for determination by the appropriate authority prescribed by the Trade Practices Act.
Normally I would have been inclined to support him in that contention. However, since the original regulation was submitted to the Senate my colleague, Senator McManus, and I have made it our business to make some inquiries from both sides - that is, from the canners and the retailers. I agree with the statement of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) that we should try to view this matter from the standpoint of national interest. The canning industry is one that is very sensitive to any disturbance. This morning Senator Murphy very wisely read from a document that was prepared by the Australian Canners Association; it is very good to have at least a section of it included in Hansard. That document indicated that the bulk of the production of the canning industry is directed into the export trade and is subject to very keen competition on the world’s markets. The industry gives employment to many thousands of people most of whom would be unskilled, a big percentage of them being females. This industry brings us a great measure of overseas credit. It serves the hazardous fruit growing industry, which is subject to climatic changes, storms, hail and pests, which in most cases reduce the income of the fruit growers to a minimum.
When we examine the fruit growing industry and the canning industry we must be aware of the need to avoid if at all possible any disturbance or the taking of any action that would militate against the successful operation of these two industries. Most of the canning works are operated by co-operatives; they are run’ by the fruit growers themselves. In Queensland the production of the Golden Circle products was originally undertaken by the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing, which is a co-operative. Indeed, it is almost a semigovernmental body. The Government has a very big financial interest in the COD and the Golden Circle undertaking, and therefore is vitally interested in the success of the organisation. The sugar industry enters into the picture, too. Having examined this matter in conjunction with my colleague, I am of the opinion that this industry has special features and that it merits favourable consideration not only by the Senate but by anybody who has any responsibility for its administration or organisation and the marketing, of its products at home and abroad. For those reasons, I consider that we should accept this regulation, thus putting the matter beyond doubt and ensuring that there will be no disturbance to the industry at all. Senator Murphy has said that the Australian Canners Association made no application for exemption. That may be so. I understand that it is so. But I suppose it can also be argued that the canners made no application because they felt they had no chance of being exempted or that they were unlikely to be exempted. It is equally likely that they became apprehensive of the probable ill effects of having to go through the process of submitting their case to the relevant authority and obtaining exemption by that means.
I have the greatest sympathy for the fruit grower and indeed for primary producers generally because of the difficulties which are inevitably associated with the growing of fruit and other primary products. I know that the growers of pineapples and other fruits that are grown in Queensland are not engaged in a very remunerative industry. As I have said already, they are subject to great variations in climatic conditions, pests and other things that keep them fully occupied in producing their fruits. With the increase that is taking place in the production of these fruits we have to be careful to ensure that we have adequate canning industries to take up any glut that may occur. It is elementary that, having canned the fruits, we must then have markets on which to sell them. I know there was a period a few years ago when the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing, or the Golden Circle people, had a very good market in the East, but that market collapsed very suddenly, not because of any increase in prices at this end but because of the very keen competition with which the Australian canners were faced on that market.
In all sincerity I submit that there are very special and particular features associated with this industry that warrant special and particular consideration by the Senate. I therefore submit also that rather than take the risk of disturbing the equilibrium of this industry we should give it the benefit of the doubt, if any doubt exists, which it might well do under present circumstances. I conclude by saying that I agree with the Minister. We have got to view this matter from the national interest point of view. I have done that, and I believe that my colleague agrees with me in toto on this matter.
– You have complete unity.
– Yes, we have complete unity. The honourable senator has seen that demonstrated before today. I feel that the Leader of the Opposition himself appreciates the points that have been made by the Minister in this connection and realises that it would be in the interests of the industry if there were no disturbance of it.
As to the retailers, the same practices go on in this industry as go on in so many others. Discounts are given for big buying and many retail groups have been established to avail themselves of this system of buying. I do not think that, from the retailers point of view, anyone is going to be greatly disadvantaged, or disadvantaged at all by the acceptance of this regulation.
– I oppose the motion put forward by Senator Murphy and at the outset feel that it is fair to say that the Government was very greatly upset by the original proposal of the Australian Labor Party to disallow all associations listed in the original regulations.
– The honourable senator will realise that we had no option, the way the regulations were framed.
– I think the action then taken by the Opposition was a little irresponsible. Nevertheless, on reconsidering the matter, the Opposition sought to disallow one industry, and I congratulate the Government on the very quick steps it took to make provision to meet the position outlined by the Opposition. I congratulate it on moving with such speed because all these industries, but especially the fruit canning industry, are of real national importance.
Previous speakers have given a good outline of reasons why the Australian Canners Association and the deciduous fruit industry should be exempted from the provisions of the Trade Practices Act, and I therefore feel that the majority of honourable senators will support the proposal.
In 1963, action was taken by the Government to reconstitute the export marketing arrangements for canned deciduous fruits by the introduction of the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Bill. I emphasise that the Government realised at that time that if the new export arrangements were to be fully effective some system of orderly marketing for home consumption was needed. Appreciating its own limitations in this field, the Government asked the industry to itself organise a non-statutory scheme. This was done, and the scheme is now administered by the Australian Canners Association. I believe that the scheme is looked upon generally as a most desirable attempt to prevent unreasonable price cutting on the home market and to ensure a reasonable level of return to deciduous fruit growers. It is good that this type of arrangement should be allowed to continue without any possibility of any great disturbance where industries of such national importance as this are involved.
In its report for 1966 the Australian Canned Fruit Sales Promotion Committee, when referring to the increase in sales and the bringing of some stability to the industry, said this:
One of the factors influencing this result was a stability in trade resulting from the canners’ orderly marketing scheme.
It went on to say:
The Australian market is our second largest so that every effort must be made by all sections of the industry to enlarge and stabilise by all possible means.
It is important that we should note this comment by that Committee. Important figures concerning the industry have been quoted in relation to holdings by the growers. Perhaps it would be wise not to repeat those figures. It is important to note that co-operative canneries processed 82.9% of the 1966 crop and the remaining 17.1% was processed by proprietary and privately owned canneries. It is interesting to note also the improvement in the co-operatives. This emphasises the fact that the growers themselves are taking an increasing interest in the market. The percentages for the preceding year were 80:2 and 19.8 respectively. The figures indicate the continued growth of the percentage processed by co-operative canneries.
I would like to refer to some of the problems involved. There are some arguments, I believe, to be raised in relation to the terms put out by any association. One of the big problems in the canning business concerns the overseas market. Emphasis has been placed on the increasing percentage of the product that must be sold overseas. I refer to a comment from the annual report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for 1966, which to me indicates a particular problem in relation to the export of fruit’. The discounts that are allowed show how important these are to the eventual return received by our growers. The report refers to 1965 and states:
On 1 10th January the South African Fruit and Vegetable Canners Association announced its minimum for prices for the United Kingdom. Unexpectedly these showed a widening of the margin between certain varieties of Australian and South African canned fruits. In addition a new special extra discount scheme was introduced for buyers of fancy grade canned fruits under one label. These extra discounts ranged from 31% to 5i% according to quality.
The Australian market had to take note of the extra discounts and had to drop its prices. On 13th January, 6 days after that announcement, the Australian Board reduced the prices of peaches and tinned fruits by so much a dozen. That shows the effect which overseas decisions, entirely beyond our control have on our market. The support of a strong Australian association is particularly important. I think it is fair to say that the argument put forward by the important National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia known as NARGA, iis very sound. In one particular instance only does that association make a point of objection in relation to this scheme. I think it would be wrong for Australia to accept lightly what a very important body like that has to say. Its arguments are based on the fact that in the trading arrangements circulated by the Canners Association one provision allows for a historical discount to be made. The wording objected to by the Association should be looked at.
The policy of the Canners Association is that purchases will be aggregated for calculation of the rate of quantitative discount only when a sole proprietor or a company or its wholly owned and operated subsidiary is buying and/ or retailing for its own trading purposes. If one has some knowledge of the way in which trade associations work, one can see a very good reason why the Canners Association has included such a provision in its discount schedule. As a retailer, I was involved in a small type retailing association, which had some objection to the rates of discount allowed to larger groups. I know what is necessary to try to break down the association if one believes that in one’s own trading interests, something should be done to gain greater discounts. If the volume of buying available to one large buyer is to be obtained by smaller retailers they must join together and buy on such a basis that the association will see no differentiation in cost between sales to the large buyer and those to the number of small buyers. Under this agreement the smaller bodies could unite as one, buy as one and distribute the goods among themselves. Not one argument has been raised on either side of the chamber to the effect that that method is not acceptable and could not be implemented.
The only objection put forward by the Grocers Association to the scheme is the proposition that I have just advanced. Looking at the proposition in the light of some knowledge of the scheme, I believe that in the national interest the Canners Association, which has done a great deal to stabilise a very difficult market, in this instance should be given the consideration and the confidence which will be conveyed by the Senate allowing the regulation to stand. The importance attached to the industry generally cannot be overemphasised. 1 believe that at this particular time great problems are besetting the industry. I suggest that the Senate, at the outset of the operation of the Trade Practices Act, should decide that certain organisations - statutory or otherwise and those affected but not within the scope of the Act - should be exempt. That would be quite correct and within the ambit of the Act.
– There is some query as to that.
– There is no query, except a comment by the Minister which, perhaps, because it was made at a late hour, did not reflect what was written. What was written is in actual fact in line with what the Senate would be doing. I suggest that the Government should consider that point. If acceptable discount or selling arrangements by any of these associations exist and if those associations, are given exemption from scrutiny under the Trade Practices Act, I believe that the terms under which they are selling should be submitted to the Government. The associations should not be allowed to rest until they change those terms. When the terms are changed they should be submitted to the Government again; not for querying but at least to be looked at. If certain people in the community object to the terms offered by any particular association which is listed members of the Parliament would be able to consider them. I believe that that position should apply. Because of what the association has done for the stability of the Australian market and the very great influence it has on the growth of our primary exports abroad I have great pleasure in saying .that the motion for disallowance of the regulations should be opposed.
– The Senate is dealing with a motion moved by Senator Murphy for the disallowance of a regulation that gives the Australian Canners Association exemption from all of the provisions of the Trade Practices Act. In this debate we arc concerned to see, first of all, whether the regulation is authorised by the statute and, secondly, whether the purpose that is in mind in the regulation is proper to be achieved by the regulation. I submit that it is a simple question of taking the legislation of this Parliament - the Trade Practices Act - and considering whether there is a case for the exemption of a particular association; in this instance the Australian Canners Association.
I am a little surprised to hear in this debate argument on whether we should be providing benefits for the canned fruits industry. If honourable senators who have spoken to that purpose would direct their energies to it on the proper occasion the Parliament would achieve its purpose. Here today we are not considering the propriety of the organised marketing scheme for the canned fruits industry. Nobody whom I have heard speak in this debate has denied the propriety of, indeed the absolute necessity for, such a scheme. I make it clear that that is my position. For the purposes of this argument I will concede that this is a primary producing industry and that primary producers are the chief beneficiaries under the scheme. If the Budget debate is resumed later today, I intend to be more specific. I will suggest that we should not make the canned fruits industry depend on its own juice, extracted by means of an excise duty, to recover from the domestic producers in Australia sufficient to outmatch the disadvantages of selling on the export market. We should do- something to ensure that the people in the industry receive a proper subsidy, bounty or export advantage that will make it practicable for them to match the increases which are occurring in other competing industries and which they have to meet.
It is irrelevant for a Queensland senator, having referred to the Queensland Government’s financial interest in the Golden Circle organisation, then to remind the Senate of the inter-relationship between the canned fruits industry and the sugar industry. We all are sensitive to the perilous situation of the sugar industry. There is nothing that any honourable senator, whether he comes from Queensland or not, considers more carefully than the price trends in that industry which are threatening one of Australia’s great industries. But the whole organisation of that industry is related to the fruit industry. Because of its poverty the sugar industry is not able to adjust the subvention that it makes to the fruit industry at the present time by way of a domestic sugar rebate. So the fruit industry is confronted with a denial of the adjustment that should be made in that industry simultaneously with an adjustment in the sugar industry. But these are matters to be considered on the appropriate occasion, when legislation in respect of the sugar agreement is before the Senate. On that occasion 1 will ask my friend Senator Gair by his vote to put into expression some assistance for the fruit industry, including the canned fruits industry.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr President, when the silting was suspended, I was referring to the interests of the Australian Canners Association and saying how it and its primary producer members deserve every support and, indeed, much more support than comes from its marketing scheme. As we have been properly reminded, the tonnage processed annually by this organisation is 120,000 tons valued at $ 17.5m. Of that tonnage, 82.9% is produced by grower owned co-operatives. The memorandum that the Australian Canners Association has furnished to us shows that its output has increased since 1951 from 4.8 million cartons to 10.2 million cartons. The Association indicates that it represents an industry with an employment potential of 5,000. So, anybody who would wish to do that organisation any detriment whatever would get no support from me.
On the other hand, the association which has interested itself in the equity of the Government’s regulation to exempt the Australian Canners Association from scrutiny under the Trade Practices Act is the National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia. This Association has informed me that it represents some 1,649 stores whose throughput per year, I think, is worth approximately $91m. If Australian towns and cities are having the same experience as Hobart, 1 say to the Senate that the small, grocer today is the type of unit in industry that deserves our solicitude. The small grocer is a wilting unit. In my home town of Hobart, there are dozens of small grocers who have had to close their doors in the last 2 or 3 years. To my way of thinking, those grocers have given great service to the community.
Having said that regarding the conflicting interests involved in this matter, I now proceed to indicate that what we are considering is a jealously protected right of this Senate. This is a field of authority in which we have marked out a special responsibility and have a special sense of purpose. This is the control of subordinate legislation in the form of regulations. In exercising that control, we have certain principles to guide us. The first one is: What is the legislation under which the regulation has been made? Now, it is national legislation with great economic impact. It is the Trade Practices Act. When this legislation was before the Senate we noticed that in section 35 there were certain agreements that were restrictive in nature and that were examinable. These included agreements containing restrictions in the nature of discount’s or rebates of a certain authority. The legislation did not say that those agreements were prohibited. It said that they were examinable by the Trade Practices Tribunal.
Section 38 of the Trade Practices Act provides: (1.) In determining whether an agreement is an examinable agreement, regard shall not be had -
That is a Federal Act. If an agreement be specifically approved by regulation, it is not examinable. Furthermore the same section provides that regard shall not be had:
But notice this: except to the extent that the provision gives rise to a restriction to be observed in another State or Territory;
So, even when exempting from consideration of an examinable agreement a provision in an agreement that is authorised by a State marketing act, the Act specifically says that the Tribunal shall have a regard to the extent to which the provision gives rise to a restriction to be observed in another State or Territory.
A similar provision exists in section 39 of the Act with regard to exemptions in respect of practices. But in the excluding provision there, we do not find that exemption on which I have just laid emphasis. But sufficient is indicated in both sections that, where a marketing scheme has been authorised by an Act of the Federal Parliament or the Parliament of any State or by regulations that have been established in either a Federal Act or a State Act, then the general provisions of restricted trade practices legislation have no operation. Those schemes having been specifically approved by the Parliament, the Tribunal is relieved of responsibility for examining them.
Those were not the provisions that were in the legislation that lay before the Parliament for 12 months to 18 months in the manner in which the Attorney-General of the day, Sir Garfield Barwick, gave the Parliament adequate opportunity to consider the matter. But in the closing stages of the proceedings of the House of Representatives the Attorney-General of the day, Mr Snedden, introduced an amendment to the legislation; what is now sub-section (2.) of section 106 and it states:
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-
Of what character? The Act states:
It is most unfortunate as the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who represents the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) in this chamber, acknowledged this morning that when explaining the purport and the effect of that provision, Mr Snedden permitted himself to say that its effect was to exempt statutory marketing authorities. But I want to point out the looseness and the indefiniteness of the language by which regulations exempting bodies or organisations can be established.
Again I remind the Senate that section 106(2.) refers to: a specified organisation or body that performs functions in relation to the marketing of primary products.
So, an agreement by the Union Steamship Co. which carries potatoes from Burnie to Sydney is authorised, by regulation under this section, to be exempt. An auctioneer who sells vegetables or cattle is authorised to be exempt. The looseness of the language that describes this loophole in the Act makes, I think, the Senate accept a correspondingly heavy responsibility in scrutinising the propriety of specified bodies under this section.
When we get such a wide loophole as to permit the exemption of a whole variety of bodies or organisations - their only description being that they perform functions in relation to the marketing of primary products - it is imperative that we as a legislative chamber scrutinise every exemption with care. Today we are dealing with the Australian Canners Association. I am giving attention to the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia, but that body is not before us today. We have had put to us that there is an issue between the canners and the grocers. The grocers have been good enough to point out, in putting their material before me, that they do not complain of quantitative discounts. They specifically say that in regard to their discounts they approve of discounts or concessions offered for quantity purchases and that these must be closely related to the actual savings accruing to manufacture in consequence of such quantitative deliveries. When we come to the canners’ description of the discounts that they give, it is specified that there will be quantitative discounts only when a sole proprietor or a company which is a wholly owned or operated subsidiary is buying or is retailing for its own trading purposes.
One view has been put forward that the grocers could incorporate themselves into a co-operative grocer company and qualify for the canning discount. The other view that has been put forward is that when the canners give a discount to a company which buys only for its own trading purposes it is insisting upon the kind of unity that is found in the big chain stores such as Myers and Coles and excludes the co-operative from the category to which a discount is permitted. I am not concerned to determine that issue nor am I concerned to determine the ‘ merits of the discount that is provided. These contentions are not appropriate for resolution in a House of Parliament. That is why when we passed legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices we set up a very specialised tribunal with an experience and responsibility so important as to require a very special constitution. Therefore, before we exempt any organisation, even if it is one that performs functions in relation to the marketing of primary products, we have to be quite sure that it is an association which of its very nature is one that operates a restrictive practice in the public interest.
The debate has been necessarily fragmentary so far as the facts put before us are concerned.’ I would regard it as an impertinence to each industry if I presumed to form a judgment or decision as to whether the canners’ discount is properly insisted on or the grocers’ objection to it is justified. That leaves us with the position that the Australian Canners Association is not to be destroyed or disadvantaged or imperilled, lt has simply to subject any agreement or practice to which objection is taken to the scrutiny of the Commissioner, or if he is not satisfied by either negotiation or discussion, of the Tribunal.
– Order! It being 2 hours after the time, fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the debate is interrupted pursuant to standing order 127 to enable Orders of the Day to be proceeded with.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That consideration of Orders of the Day be postponed until after further consideration of Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1.
– Senator Webster recognised the consequences of the Government’s assuming jurisdiction to decide the propriety of the restrictive practice effected by the canners. He said that he thought it should be obligatory upon that association to submit the terms of its agreement to the Government and to keep the Government informed of any variation. One has only to state that proposition to realise its incongruity and inappropriateness. The political Minister of the day or the Government of the day has no proper function in deciding as between great business organisations the propriety of any restrictive practices or agreements. Neither is that the function of this Senate. It is the function of the Senate, where an exemption is attempted by regulation to exclude an association from the general provisions of the Trade Practices Act, to say that that regulation should not stand and that exemption should not be maintained. The consequence of not maintaining the exemption is not to destroy or disadvantage the Australian Canners Association but just to leave it to submit, as I have no doubt it can, its material, if objection is taken to its practices, to the appropriate tribunal that deals with these things as a matter of special authority.
– Does the honourable senator not agree that the Senate has power to withdraw a regulation if it is working adversely?
– That is the point. A regulation comes up for our decision only once, and only within the limited time of IS sitting days from its passage. This Senate loses its authority if it does not exercise its authority within 15 “sitting days after the passing of the regulation, and there is no such thing as the withdrawal of a regulation. The only person who can repeal a regulation is the Minister. We have appealed to the Minister so often in vain once his authority is secure and he escapes the authority of a disallowance by the Senate. That is why we have to guard this jurisdiction with great vigilance and exercise it with a real sense of responsibility. That is why I address myself to the Senate at what some might think is undue length. For my own purposes, taking a very keen interest in the progress and welfare of the Australian Canners Association and also a zealous interest in the welfare of the grocers, especially the small grocers who cannot match the buying power of Woolworths, I have addressed myself at what some would think is undue length to the subject, but it gives me satisfaction to explain the reasons for which I support the motion for disallowance.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for the consideration which it has given to this motion. It is not one which, if carried, can in any way injure the Australian Canners Association. It is significant and should be brought home to the Senate that although I asked the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) to correct me if I were wrong in saying that even now the Australian canners Association has not asked for this exemption, he did not do so.
– I have not had any letter from it asking for the exemption. I have had representations from it stating that it does not want the regulation to be disallowed.
– When the matter was discussed in the Senate’ on Sth September a number of members of the Canners Association and representatives from the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd were in the gallery of the chamber and I stated then and there that I had been informed that the Australian Canners Association had not asked for this exemption. Now the Canners Association has sent a document to honourable senators - I have read the substance of it - which contains not one statement requesting this exemption, nor is there one statement that if the exemption were not granted there would be any injurious effect on the Australian Canners Association. Indeed, as I understand the position, the Association maintained the opposite would be the case.
The Association states that it has nothing to fear because what it is doing is manifestly in the public interest. That is the Association’s stand. It is entitled to take that stand. This matter should not be put to the Senate on the basis that the Association has asked for an exemption, because it has not asked for an exemption and there is nothing in what it has advanced to indicate that it wants an exemption. It is strange that exemption is being sought here.
Some reference has been made to the composition of the Australian Canners. Association so perhaps I should indicate that the document which is the cause of the controversy between the grocers and the canners - this is described as ‘Australian Canners Association, Canned Deciduous Fruits Orderly Marketing Scheme’ - is subscribed to by members of the Australian Canners Association. It may be convenient for me to read the list of subscribers who are the actual constituent corporations com prising the Association. Leaving aside the question of where the fruit comes from, the following organisations are subscribers: Australasian Jam Co. Pty Ltd; Batlow Packing House Co-op. Ltd; Bendigo Preserving Co. Ltd; Golden Circle Cannery; Goulburn Valley Canners Pty Ltd; Griffith Co-op. Cannery Ltd; H. Jones & Co. Pty Ltd, Hobart; H. Jones & Co. (Adelaide) Pty Ltd; H. Jones & Co. (Sydney) Pty Ltd; Jon Preserving Co-op. Ltd; Kyabram Preserving Co. Ltd; Leeton Co-op Cannery Ltd; P. Methven & Sons Pty Ltd; Moray Park Fruits Pty Ltd; Nestle Co. (Aust.) Ltd, trading as Crosse & Blackwell (Aust.) Pty Ltd; Riverland Fruit Products Co-op. Ltd; Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd; Sunrise Cannery Ltd; Tom Piper Ltd and J. G. Turner Pty Ltd. Those are the bodies whose agreements and practices would be entirely exempted from the operation of this Act.
I support Senator Wright’s remarks that the power is in the Senate to disallow the regulations. Once they are made, they are made. They are law and there is nothing we can do to recall them. Neither is there anything we can do to undo an exemption, no matter how strong a case can be made in this Senate in relation to actions which may be injurious to the community. I am not suggesting that the Canners Association would be guilty of such actions. I am speaking in general of any organisation which is exempted. Once an organisation is exempted, it is out, and its operations and practices can continue, however detrimental to the community they may be.
Here is the simple position: There is a body which is not of the type described originally by the then Attorney-General in another place when he induced the Parliament to agree to the provision relating to exemption. On top of that, there is a responsible body alleging, and the Canners Association denying, that some of the latter’s practices - not the whole discount scheme but some aspects of it - are prejudicial to the public interest and injurious to the grocers and to the people in that the people who purchase from those grocers have to pay a higher price for the commodity than would otherwise be the case. I remind honourable senators that the Act is designed to ensure that the public interest is not injured.
One would think that here was a classic case where an exemption should not be granted, particularly when the organisation concerned is not even asking for an exemption. It does not say one word in its representations to the effect that it wants an exemption. Why is this exemption being granted? We do not know, but we do know that the Government has not wanted this legislation. The Government has shown no signs of pressing ahead to bring the legislation into operation. It is 2 years since the law was enacted and still it is not operating effectively. We know that there are powerful influences on the Government which want to nullify this legislation.
– Those submissions are completely irrelevant to this motion.
– As to that, the Opposition is concerned that a precedent should not be set of exempting bodies because undoubtedly that precedent would be followed and the legislation ultimately white-anted. A very strong case should have to be made out for the exemption of any body. That is the basis on which we put the matter. Here such a strong case has not been made out. I ask those who would support the motion to do so on the basis that there has not been made out the extremely strong case which must be demonstrated in order to sustain a complete exemption from the operation of this Act.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . Nil
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 20 September (vide page 764), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1967-68;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for year ending 30th June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1968;
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1967;
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics, for income year 1964-65;
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’.
– In resuming the debate on the Budget I make the observation that it is some 5 or 6 weeks since the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) made his Budget speech in another place, and his representative here read it to the Senate. It may well be that the distance of time, together with the intervening legislation which, we have dealt with, means that this debate has been robbed of a considerable amount of its public interest. However, while the Budget may have lost some of its public interest - indeed, at this stage, it may even have lost some of its parliamentary interest - it is a document and an item of considerable national interest.
For a little while this afternoon I want to make my contribution to what is known as the Budget debate. It is impossible to go through a rundown, item by item, of what is contained in the Budget, nor is it wise to do so at this stage. But I want to make some comments on a couple of matters of national importance which are related to the Budget papers and which are obviously caught up in the total thinking of the Treasurer and those who, with him, prepare the Budget papers - the papers which contain an examination of the programme carried out in the past and the papers which contain the policies for the future programme.
Obviously, no budget is all things to all men. There will always be sections in our community who will praise certain portions of any budget but will condemn certain other portions. In looking at this Budget - indeed, in looking at any budget - one has to consider it as being one in a series of budgets. Whilst there may have been observations made by honourable senators on both sides of the Senate on what may be regarded as deficiencies so far as one section of the community is concerned, I think we have to take note of the overwhelming weight of public opinion about this Budget and the references made to its expansionary nature. A leading economist has described it as having many solid virtues, in that business can make plans with a considerable degree of confidence. If business can make plans with confidence surely this will provide a considerable number of benefits to all sections of the community. Observations about the Budget have also emphasised that it provides for continued stability and long term growth.
Other sections of the commenting community have used such expressions as: ‘It has elements of neutrality about it’. Perhaps it was not described as being a spectacular Budget. Another economist stressed that this kind of budget was simply not an easy way out of any national financial situation but that rather the Budget we are discussing today is part of a conscious policy because it allows the economy to move forward at a steady and a reasonable rate without encouraging excesses on the one hand and without discouraging optimism for the future. Optimism is necessary and vital if the private sector, to which other speakers have referred in this debate, is to spend money, to invest money and to give thought to development.
I think we should take into account a quick survey of the general conditions that existed at the commencement of the period under review. The Minister for Supply (Senator Henty), when introducing the Budget papers, drew attention to the fact that at the beginning of the financial year a number of factors were in existence. One factor was that the effects of drought conditions were still lingering in the community. Drought conditions have been with us, we regret to say, for longer than is good for the country. They have been apparent in some parts of Australia for a longer time than in other parts. But looking at the matter in the broad, I should say that the effects of drought conditions, so far as the national economy was concerned, were still lingering. The spending capacity of the consumer section of the community was not as lively at the beginning of the period under review as we would have hoped. In the sphere of operations known as the private capital area, expenditure also was slowing down. So I suggest that it was practical for last year’s Budget to be designed to have an expansionary effect. When the Treasurer presented the papers this year he claimed that the policy set a year ago had been confirmed and that the expansionary objective had been fulfilled. He had every right to say that the year under review was one of strong and varied growth. Expenditure by public authorities had led the way.
Also, in broad terms, there had been a better season, an increase in rural output and an increase in income. Consumer spending had revived, the stage having been set by this kind of Budget.
I suggest that this is the most helpful kind of Budget we could have at this point of time, taking into account recent circumstances and the expansionary programme that we want for the future. I do not think the fact should go unnoticed that the Treasurer did not succumb to the temptation to include in his Budget measures designed for popular acclaim. This is an election year. As everybody knows, the Senate election is vital for the Government. In spite of this being an election year, the Budget did not make concessions to popular demands. But the year’s operations undoubtedly will continue to reflect an improvement in the economy and the expansion that was set in train last year will be confirmed.
It has been said on all sides that the dominant feature of the Budget has been the tremendous increase in defence expenditure. Expenditure on defence this year will be more than $l,100m, an increase of up to 18% on last year’s expenditure, lt will be seen that defence, which some people thought had not loomed as largely as it might have, has become a dominant factor in the preparation of this Budget. Defence now accounts for about 17% of total Commonwealth expenditure and about 5% of our gross national product. Five years ago it accounted for approximately 10% of total expenditure and 2% of the gross national product. Such an increase naturally affects the whole of our financial arrangements. Some of us may have been critical of slowness in the past in defence preparations, but we need to take this aspect of expenditure into account side by side with other needs. The most obvious and most urgent of these needs for some years past has been that of development. Security has been no less important in the past than it is now. It might have been less urgent and less obvious, but development was both urgent and necessary and the need for it was quite obvious. I suggest that the lower rate of spending on defence in the pa.it can be justified in the light of the urgent need for development in such spheres as water resources, mining, and oil exploration.
Side by side with thi. need for rapid development was the need for an expansion of our population with particular emphasis on immigration. I suggest that the expansion of our population and the development of our industries were every bit as essential to our future security as major programmes of defence. The international scene has changed considerably and Australia is now faced with a new and responsible role. Because of our great development - yesterday the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) gave chapter and verse to establish this fact - our resources are greater and we are in a position to assume greater defence responsibilities. I have already drawn attention to the urgent need to build up our population by means of immigration and to do so on a large scale. Australia is in a unique position. No other nations are characterised by such a strategic location and such a small population in relation to the size of the country.
When we look at the immigration programme we have undertaken alongside our development programme, we get. a glimpse of the pressures and demands that are placed upon the Government and the country’s financial resources. This pressure is experienced in the provision of new communications, new towns, new roads, housing, airfields, schools and a score of other services through a variety of agencies under the control of the Commonwealth Government, the State governments and the local authorities. It is interesting to note that this year Australia will be spending about 10% of her gross national product on public works and services. By way of comparison, the United Kingdom spends about 7% of her gross national product on public works and services. France allocates a similar - proportion. It is important to remember that in France a considerable portion of the economy falls directly under the control of the Government. Germany spends 5% of her gross national product on public works and services, the United States 3%, and Japan only 2%. Perhaps that comparison is not quite relevant, but it is of value in considering the unique position in which Australia is placed in relation to development and expansion of population and the amount of money that governments and the people must spend to service those twin thrusts of national growth.
The Budget has taken into account the emphasis on development and security, and it reflects the needs of the moment. That proportion of the gross national product which is to be spent on servicing the community must surely work its way down through a wide range of activities and in time benefit the whole community. I repeat that emphasis has been placed on security and national development.
As I said a few months ago, there are a couple of matters in particular about which 1 wish to speak. I shall leave discussion of other subjects until opportunity is afforded in the near future. The first matter arises from my reference to development. There has been a vast concentration on the development of our natural resources, many of which have been mentioned during the debate on the Budget over the last 4 or 5 weeks. I have in mind the development of our resources of oil, natural gas, iron ore, nickel and bauxite. There have been amazing developments, too, in relation to soil research, land development, pasture improvement and related matters. Of no less importance is the attention that has been given to water research. Even though governments and other authorities have given a great deal of attention to water research, I had hoped that there would be wider public interest in the matter. My comments at the moment do not relate to the Chowilla Dam. Like other honourable senators, I have spoken about that many times, and I imagine that because of the vital importance of this project we will have further observations to make. I have taken part in representations concerning it. I have expressed my concern about the delays, as have other honourable senators, and I await wilh considerable interest, indeed anticipation, the outcome of the present review. Any particular reference which I may make to research does not refer specifically to South Australia in this context although it is well known that we have something of a special problem in that State. Rather do I speak in relation to looking to Australia’s future needs as far as this element of our development is concerned.
In every newspaper that is on the Parliamentary Library tables today there are reports and accounts of water restrictions in many places throughout the country at this moment. In several of the States the community is subject to bans, shortages and restrictions. There are also adjustments to industry, adjustments in domestic living and all kinds of things relating to water shortages. I have no doubt this is due to a number of factors beyond the control of governments or indeed of anybody, but at the same time, here we are at the beginning of the summer period, which is a long period in Australia, up against water shortage problems in many parts of the country.
The comparative absence of domestic rain-water storages is always something that gives me some degree of worry. Indeed, as I said a moment ago, it indicates a lack of personal and public concern. Millions of gallons of rain water surely run to waste from the roofs of houses alone. The nation might well take heed of the fact that it would save a considerable amount of water and indeed put itself in a much better position each summer if a greater number of householders were prepared to install a domestic rain-water tank, if not two domestic rain-water tanks. As our development grows, as our population grows, as our industrial sector grows and as our cities and towns grow, indeed as our national life expands, whether it be in the residential, rural or industrial sphere, we need to have very strong concern about water researches, water resources and water conservation.
I am concerned for this summer, next summer and the summer after that, but more particularly do I speak in the context of the next half century and beyond that. The problem just is not one of turning off taps. It is not one just to be resolved by following tips on how to save water, about which one newspaper carried a double page feature recently. Valuable and important though these steps may be in present circumstances, this is not the way in which to give concern to the questions of total water research so far as the future of Australia is concerned.
Because I have received a quantity of literature which relates to the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and because the CSIRO is provided for in this, as in every Budget, I should like to say something about the question of water research particularly as related to desalination. This industry, as I might call it has shown remarkable growth in the last 20 years. At the end of World War II it was estimated that desalination produced one million gallons per day of what is called converted water. Today’s figure is in excess of 40 million gallons a day. I understand that the rate is likely to bc increased to the stage where the present world’s capacity will be doubled within about 3 years and by 1972, which is not so very far away, will be in the vicinity of 200 million gallons a day.
As I said a moment ago, this is a growing world industry. The technological and plant manufacturing aspects of the industry are claiming not only an increasing amount of money but also an increasing amount of attention as various and many authorities become aware of the inadequacies of conventional water supplies. I take a moment of the Senate’s time to refer to some of the many types of plant used and researches carried out in this important field of water desalination. All of them respond to different circumstances and all are concerned with not only quantity but also quality. More importantly, there is research into cost, because, basically, the problem is not how to do it but rather how to do it economically. This varies with particular local needs, the quantity required and similar considerations. I do not make any pretensions to being a scientist in this field. The plant, techniques and processes are most complicated to the lay mind.
Because I believe it is of importance to the nation, to the world and to the future, and because I also believe it has some bearing on development, I should like to say one or two brief things about it. First I shall quote briefly from a publication entitled ‘A Survey of Water Desalination Methods and their Relevance to Australia’ prepared by the Advisory Panel on Desalination and published on behalf of the Australian Water Resources Council of the Department of National Development. In its chapter on methods it states:
In Australia, government-sponsored work on distillation processes has been conducted in Melbourne by the CSIRO since 1955. . .
The Water Resources Council was set up in 1963 and has as its principal objective the provision of a comprehensive assessment, on a continuing basis, of Australia’s water resources and trie extension of measurement and research so that future planning may be carried out on a sound and scientific basis.
That work is not only confined to Australia. The report continues:
Australia takes part in international co-operative ventures and sent an observer to the Desalination Panel of the International Atomic Energy Authority in Vienna in 1964.
Probably the most dramatic and exciting plant in the world is one that is scheduled for completion next year in the USA. It is what is called a nuclear powered seawater desalting plant, and it is situated in eastern Long Island, New York Stale. It is being built and operated by the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority. On its completion next year it is expected to turn out 830,000 gallons of drinking water a day and 2,500 kilowatts of electricity for sale. It will also be producing other products. It is planned eventually to produce 4 million gallons a day with additional evaporators, and this will reduce the amount of electricity that will be for sale.
This plant, which has occasioned a considerable amount of international interest, is to employ the distillation process. A combined water distillation and power plant, using a diesel engine, was recently installed in Cyprus in connection with an international organisation that is being set up there. Similar plants on a smaller scale are in use in Australia. One that is of particular interest and importance is that which is providing an assured water supply to Dampier, on King Bay, to serve the Hamersley iron ore industry. Here, in addition to the power that is already being used, exhaust gases are involved. There they have what they call a multi-stage flash evaporator which distils a large quantity of converted water per day.
My comments have led me into using the term ‘distillation’ so far as desalination and converted water are concerned. In a review of desalination made by him, Mr L. S. Herbert, a senior research scientist in the Division of Chemical Engineering of the CSIRO, says that this process et distillation will continue for many years because it is the most economic method for the large scale conversion of sea water or brackish water to fresh water. In an issue of ‘Australian Chemical Processing and Engineering’, published in October last year, he said that approximately 50 million gallons per day of water could be produced, or is being produced in land-based plants, and that over 95% of these plants use the distillation process. He also states that these plants have proved to be both reliable and economic. Although the distillation method is described in this document as being simple in operation, reference is made also to a number of processes the derails of which T do not understand. They are listed as the single effect, the multiple effect, the multiflash and solar distillation. Solar distillation is the simplest method because it produces fresh water in areas of considerable sunshine and the heat energy involved is free. For many years the high capital costs of establishing plants has rendered the proposition somewhat uneconomic. In recent years new developments like low cost material and simplification in design have taken place. These developments have made the proposition competitive in cost and the advantages . such as the use of unskilled labour mean that it has received a greater degree of attention now. The CSIRO, in commenting on it, says that the cost is now one-fifth of the cost 10 years ago. One could take further time in delineating this important feature of our national development. While the proposition may sound relatively easy and even attractive as far as our water needs are concerned the point should not be left at this juncture without indicating, as most honourable senators will be aware, that a considerable number of problems have been created.
I have been speaking in terms mainly of water for townships, houses and domestic consumption. But Australia also has greater and wider needs particularly so far as general irrigation purposes are concerned. The document published by the Australian Water Resources Council warns that at the present time - and this was published last year - there is little prospect that desalted water will be cheap enough for general irrigation use unless there is a radical change in agricultural economics. However the Council believes that a demand exists for smaller plants both for domestic and certain industrial use. This matter takes its place, I suggest, very property in Budget discussions because if not now at least in the near future it will be closely allied with and will closely affect our development. It is intimately related to the movement of people and populations and their general wellbeing. I suggest it is a matter of urgency. Because of increased demands on water resources and the changing pattern of availability of water supplies, limits in some cases have been reached and in future more and more communities must look to converted water to continue their development. At present Australians are not a race of water savers; we are a race of water users. I suggest that a scheme to desalt water is of particular importance so far as our people are concerned. The extent of general interest is hard to assess. Interest is heavily influenced by the cost factor, both capital and operating. The CSIRO has been engaged in research on the problem for some years and the Budget provides for the continuing nature of its work. For my part, I would like to see more provision, but at least there is provision for it, the machinery is established and the work is continuing. That is the first matter that I wanted to discuss in relation to the Budget. As I have said several times, I am convinced that it is a vital factor in many aspects of our national development.
The other matter that I want to discuss is immigration, which was specifically and deliberately mentioned in the Budget speech by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon;. To refresh the minds of honourable senators I refer again to what the Treasurer said. He stated that $25m would be allocated for assisted passages, $5m for Commonwealth hostels and $4m for improvements to accommodation. The Treasurer, in a complex Budget speech, attached the greatest importance to keeping the immigration programme on a high level. I suggest that here is one of the several points of realism in the Budget. He pointed out, as many other speakers have, that it is increasingly difficult to attract migrants. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) said in another place that he felt unable to ask for an allocation of funds beyond the number of migrants that he could confidently expect. These funds provided for assisted passages to the tune of 81,000 migrants as against the 92,000 that we would like to have. Many speakers have pointed to the short fall in last year’s target. Many authorities, publications and newspapers also have done so. Yet the target of 148,000 fell short by some 8,000. With the kind of programme followed by Australia for the past two decades, with the hundreds of thousands of migrants that we have been able to attract and keep here, the result is a good one. We recognise that any short fall in a migration target is a matter of some concern.
If one couples the present circumstances and situation so far as Australia’s migration programme today is concerned, with the European economic conditions, with the situation in the United Kingdom, which renders immediate departures rather difficult, and also certain international crises, not the least of which was the Suez crisis, at a time when figures may be assessed and departure movements undertaken, I suggest that the result is still a good one and reflects confidence in our country. I would like to say, from my own personal observation, that the result reflects considerable credit upon the officers of the Department of Immigration who are representing us in a number of countries. Over 88,000 assisted migrants came to Australia in the last financial year. Of those 70,000 came from the United Kingdom. The target for unassisted migrants was 56,000. While final figures are not available as yet, the trend would seem to indicate that the number will be less than that. Overall this short fall of 8,000, whilst it has been disappointing, must be regarded as being a good result when taken into account against the background in which it has been achieved.
In the same breath one must say that there has to be a realistic approach to all of this, and we have to bear in mind that the days ahead are more difficult than the ones that have passed. The target is still high and every effort will continue to be made. But the financial year ahead will be the problem year. From the United Kingdom we have had, as I said a moment ago, some 70,000 assisted settlers for each of the last 3 years; a total of some 210,000. If to that figure is added the number of full fare passengers the total becomes something like 250,000 for a 3 year programme, compared with something like half that figure for the previous 3 years. Everyone recognises that the fall off in inquiries in the January, February and March period in the United Kingdom will show up in the figures that will be released in a few months time. The Government has indicated that in many ways it is taking steps to build up the flow from various Continental European countries and is building up new programmes. All honourable senators know that currently there are certain visitors to this country and that negotiations are taking place with repesentatives from Turkey and Spain.
The 200 or more officers of the Department of Immigration who serve in some 20 countries are stepping up there programmes and efforts. Honourable senators should remember that the ‘ kind of promotion programme that an officer can follow perhaps does not follow the normal or accepted line of promotion as we understand the term. Those officers operate in countries with which we have diplomatic relations. The officers cannot actively go out and take their people, as it were. Certain countries have laws as to the manner in which outside countries can conduct promotional activities in the sphere of migration, and so the programme has to be worked out in other ways; it has to be held in balance. There has to be a kind of controlled advertisement and controlled promotion so far as our programme is concerned.
I speak with much conviction on this subject because, as I have said in debates earlier this year, I was in Europe a few months ago and saw something of the helpful programmes that have been undertaken. The readiness of interviewers, information officers, doctors and other’s to help and to give information and assistance to migrants could evoke only our admiration and support. That is why I am rather sorry that Senator O’Byrne, in speaking on this subject, referred to a confidence trick which tie said, the Government had been putting over in its migration programme. He used the words ‘painting a glowing picture’ in a satirical way. He knows as well as I do that the officers of the Department are working hard in painting a glowing picture not as an unrealistic picture but as a realistic, practical and helpful picture. They know as well as I do that we need migrants, and migrants who will be happy in Australia.
While I was in Europe I saw some of the guest workers to whom reference has been made. Honourable senators are probably aware that in recent years a great number of these people - about four million of them - have been moving around Europe in countries other than their own. As a result of the special passage assistance programme, these people can come to Australia, if they make application from outside their own country, on payment of $25.
Since the special passage assistance programme was established in July last year it has produced about 6,000 migrants. I believe that it will produce more, perhaps double that number. In the last few days I saw a publication that suggested that the figure would be almost trebled.
There is another side to this matter. We work hard to attract migrants to Australia. We must work to keep them here. This is a complex matter. At times it is a difficult mailer. On all sides there are groups of people and commentators who are saying that we need more migrants and that more must be done to attract migrants to Australia and to keep them here. It has been suggested that certain facilities might be extended to migrants. There ate certain generosities that might be specially extended to them. These suggestions interest us, particularly if- we are combining programmes of total development and population expansion. But any facilities or special privileges that may be extended to migrants on arrival in Australia must be held in balance with the facilities that are provided for our own people. Already the Minister for Immigration has announced certain concessions in the field of housing. I think most honourable senators will be familiar with the new programme for the provision of flats and the very helpful programme for the provision of country accommodation.
We may well have to promote a climate of opinion in which the people of Australia, if they are vitally and genuinely concerned about this matter, will have to be prepared to pay more for the migration programme. On first reflection, that may be unacceptable. But if we have any serious concern about the migration programme, we have to think more about it. After all, the total programme has not cost us a great deal. Figures that were provided to me the other day pointed out that in the last 20 years Australia has spent $500m on the total migration programme. That represents 3% of Australia’s gross national product last year. Our community may very well have to find ways and means of making a wider, mutual recognition of the professional skills and abilities of migrants. I do not say that lightly. 1 know that it is fraught with problems. Many of the problems are not easy of solution and certainly cannot be solved by governments. Naturally organisations, particularly professional ones, are jealous of their standards and will not lightly agree to community demands on them. But, if we are to reflect the strong expressions of public opinion that are current today in respect to the development of the migration programme, the whole community will have to do some rethinking on it. This matter comes into the Budget debate this year with more than the usual degree of significance.
A statement that was made a couple of days ago by Mr Bruce Macklin of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia is not without its relationship to the arguments that I have been putting forward. He said that the Chambers believed that the Government should hold discussions with private enterprise bodies to find means of revitalising the migration programme. I have a great deal of understanding of and sympathy with that belief. Perhaps it could be extended. The Government might be able to hold conversations with professional and commercial organisations and a whole range of other people so that the migration programme might be extended and so that there would be a wider appreciation of it and a wider readiness on the part of the Australian community to take a share in it and to make a contribution to it.
Only a few days ago I received a copy of the annual report of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce which contained a long article on immigration. The author of the article wrote:
This report has been deliberately planned to highlight the importance of balanced migration to our economic growth. For too long business leaders and, 1 believe, the community at large have been oblivious or indifferent to the enormous advantages of migration to Australia and have played down the vital part new settlers have played, and will play, in our - national character and development …
May I suggest that migration is an investment well worth encouragement and safeguarding and that new settlers be welcomed to our country not only as individuals sharing in our community life and in many cases enriching it but as a positive element in our economic growth.
As the Budget contains provision for this sector of governmental activity, I decided to make these few comments on the pattern of immigration which contributes not only to the success of the economic programme but also to the success of the national programme. The two subjects that I have discussed have their degree of importance in the total scheme of things. They are referred to in this Budget, which provides for a steady, ongoing programme. As 1 said earlier, as the opportunity presents itself I propose to contribute to debates on other matters of equal or greater importance than the ones I have discussed today. 1 support the Budget and oppose the two amendments.
– Senator Davidson devoted a good deal of his speech to the need for water conservation. He referred to rain water tanks and the Chowilla Dam. His references prompt me to raise the matter of the Chowilla Dam at this stage. I ask him whether he takes up the same position today on the Chowilla Dam as he did during the discussion of the motion that was moved by the Opposition. In that discussion his view was that the motion moved by the Labor Party and the petitions of the South Australian Premier were only political stunts.
I ask Senator Davidson, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) and the Minister for National Development’ (Mr Fairbairn) whether they dissociate themselves from and disown the views of their Party in South Australia on the deferment of the Chowilla Dam project being considered at the meeting proposed by the South Australian Premier and supported by the Liberal-Country League Opposition in the South Australian Parliament. It seems to me that Government senators from South Australia adopt that attitude in Canberra but adopt a quite different attitude when they get back to South Australia. I wish to say these things while Senator Davidson is in the chamber. I suggest that when he is in South Australia he will talk of having made representations about the Chowilla Dam. But he was the only South Australian senator to adopt the same attitude as the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Minister for National Development. The other South Australian senators seemed to me to take a constructive viewpoint. In fact, Senator Mattner partly, if not greatly, supported what we were saying.
The real issue in relation to the Chowilla Dam project arises from a motion passed unanimously by the South Australian Parliament. As a result of that motion, the South
Australian Parliament decided to write to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). This was over a month ago. This letter sent to the Prime Minister is in the records of the South Australian Parliament. It has been acknowledged by Mr Holt. Yet we find that the day before yesterday in another place the Minister for National Development said in answer to a question that no early talks between Commonwealth and State Ministers would be held on the Chowilla Dam dispute. He described as ridiculous suggestions that these discussions should be held before a report was submitted by the River Murray Commission. I put it to the Senate and to everybody interested in this matter that not only is this discourteous and not right but also it is ignorant because if any reply is to be made to the South Australian Parliament and to the South Australian Premier, Mr Dunstan, it ought to be made by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the one to say: ‘Yes, I am in favour of such a meeting’ or: ‘No, I am against such a meeting’. As I said, it seems to me to have been a very reasonable proposition in view of the circumstances that South Australia faces.
Having been told that this project would be developed and having carried out early works on it, the South Australian Government was informed at very short notice that the project was to be cancelled. The Government and the Opposition in South Australia are in agreement regarding this project. As has been stated in the South Australian Parliament, it was necessary to reassure people in industry and other interests in South Australia that adequate water would be available to that State. This was the reason for the unanimous support given in the South Australian Parliament by both parties to the motion relating to the Chowilla Dam project.
I wish to read to the Senate the remarks of the Leader of the Liberal Party in the South Australian Parliament, Mr Hall, when speaking in the debate on this matter. At page 1275 of the South Australian Hansard of 15th August, Mr Hall is reported as having said:
We are not arguing about the urgency of this matter; argument is about how resolute we are going to be. I have applauded the Premier when he has said that we shall be resolute; and I have urged him to be resolute. Indeed I have told him that he has the support of the Opposition in order to bring this matter to a successful conclusion. ‘. . .
– Senator Davidson said that this was a political stunt. But his own Party is in it.
– When did I say that it was a political matter?
– I will read out the honourable senator’s comments directly and so put the matter on record again. However, let me continue to read what Mr Hall said, I am putting to the Senate that the Opposition Party in South Australia, the Liberal Party, was critical even of the attitude taken by Mr Dunstan on the ground that he was approaching the matter too softly. But in the federal arena Liberal Party members say that Mr Dunstan is playing politics. Mr Hall said:
I have applauded the Premier when he has said that we shall be resolute; and I have urged him to bc resolute. Indeed, I have told him that he has the support of the Opposition in order to bring this matter to a successful conclusion, but the Opposition will not support him if he rejects this project. That is what the present motion will do if it is carried.
– The honourable senator knows that the Minister for National Development is waiting for the report of the River Murray Commission.
– I have told the honourable senator what happened in this debate. On the page before the one from which 1 have quoted, the Premier is reported as reading a letter that he had written to the Prime Minister. The honourable senator knows that letter is in the records of this Parliament and is contained also in the South Australian Hansard. It is public property. We assume that the Prime Minister is giving consideration to that letter. I put a question on notice about it yesterday. I imagine that the matter is being circulated among the State governments concerned because obviously a meeting cannot he held without the representatives of the other States concerned in the matter being in attendance also in order to arrive at an appropriate decision. But last Thursday the Minister for National Development said that this was all nonsense and that this meeting should not take place.
– Senator Henty said that also.
– Yes. Senator Henty said in this chamber that he agreed with what the Minister for National Development had said. This is the clear position. In the Senate, Senator Davidson seems to be the odd man out. The other senators on the Government side have accepted this proposition. South Australia is very dependent upon water supplies as the honourable senator well knows because he canvassed the situation in a very academic but a fairly satisfactory way, but he failed to mention the Chowilla Dam project in his speech. I want to know why this was so.
asked me when he had made these remarks. Let me read to the Senate from the speech that he made on 22nd August as reported at page 99 of Hansard when speaking on the Chowilla Dam project which I proposed for discussion as a definite matter of public importance. Senator Davidson said:
This is a- vehicle which is being used just as a kind of political gimmick to try to justify certain sweeping statements which the South Australian Premier has made upon this matter as if to draw attention away from a general down-turn in the economy and in employment, and from the other things that are wrong in the present situation in South Australia. It is an attempt to divert attention away from the real troubles in South Australia that are due to the mismanagement of the South Australian Government, to try to associate them with a dry year, a shortage of water down the Murray, and this wicked Commonwealth Government’s shelving of the Chowilla Dam, when in every official comment it is stated that there is no intention whatsoever to shelve the Chowilla Dam.
Senator Davidson went on to make other comments which were in the same strain. If the questions that are being put up in another place are Dorothy Dixers and attract answers such as the one given the day before yesterday, then I think that these people are playing games against their own Party’s interests and their own State’s interests because there is an urgent need to have guarantees about water and the future of the Chowilla Dam project for South Australia.
The South Australian Government has sent this letter to the Prime Minister following a unanimous decision of the South Australian Parliament. What would we normally expect following such a decision by a State Parliament? At least the Labor Opposition in this place felt bound to such a decision when the opposite situation arose concerning rail standardisation. Everybody will recall that Senator Toohey led the support in this chamber for the railway standardisation claims made by the then Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford. In the present circumstances, we hoped that all South Australian senators would adopt the same attitude.
Yesterday, as has been mentioned, I asked a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In . my question I referred to a report in yesterday’s Press that the accountant for the River Murray Commission had suggested during a meeting oi the Public Accounts Committee that people who had sold land for the Chowilla project might get their land back at a profit should the dam not be built. I asked Senator Henty whether he would investigate the matter fully and lake every possible action to stop any early decision which might prejudice the normal resumption of work on the dam. But Senator Henty took the opportunity to do the same sort of thing as Senator Davidson did in his speech from which I quoted earlier. This is the. reply from the Minister, for Supply as recorded at page 739 of yesterday’s Hansard. The report reads:
– I have not seen the report referred to by the honourable senator. However, 1 noted that a question about Chowilla dam was asked in another place yesterday. I agree fully with the reply given by the Minister in another place when he said that this project was being made a political football.
– Will, the Minister answer my question?
– Yes, but I am just saying what happened when a question on the subject was asked in another place. The Minister said that the Chowilla Dam project was being made a political football by the Premier of South Australia. Statements in the Press have been attributed to the Premier of South Australia and I heard him say on a ‘Four Corners’ programme that the South Australian delegate to the River Murray Commission had to support the other delegates because the decision had to be unanimous.
– That is right.
– It is not right because there is provision for an umpire when the States are not in agreement. That umpire is the Chief Justice of Tasmania. However, the Premier of South Australia did not go so far as to say that. This subject has been made a complete political football, but it will not bounce.
The Minister then proceeded to deal with the question that I had asked him.
J wish to refer now to the question of the decision made by Mr Beaney, the Consulting Engineer and the representative of the South Australian Government on the River Murray Commission. Let me quote what the Honourable G. G. Pearson, a former Minister for Works in the Playford Government in South Australia, had to say during the debate to which I have referred in the South Australian Parliament on the question of whether the vote by the Commission should be unanimous or not. At page 1276 of the South Australian Hansard, Mr Pearson said:
There is another reason why I say that: clause 6 of the agreement (which is a schedule to the River Murray Waters Act) provides that *ny decision by the commission on matters of importance shall be unanimous. The clause states:
The four commissioners shall be a quorum and the concurrence of all of them shall be necessary for the transaction of the business of the commission, except such business us the commission may, from time to rime, prescribe as formal.
I want the Government to explain why there is this reaction to the very reasonable proposition that the State Government is putting up. Who are playing politics - the South Australian Premier or the Federal Government and some members of Parliament who think they should defend something because they are in the wrong? At any rate, there is something to answer. All I want is to get early action by the Commonwealth Government in response to the request of the Parliament and Government of South Australia for a meeting to canvass the guarantees that South Australia needs. The increase in factory production in South Australia last year was a record 9%. Even if the South Australian Government is not entitled to guarantees, in the view of the Commonwealth Government, surely the manufacturing and other interests of South Australia are entitled to a guarantee of adequate water in the future.
With these comments I return to the Budget. It is about 6 weeks since the Budget was introduced. Senator Davidson and others have referred to what was said by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). I suggest that what was forecast in the speech delivered by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty), who represents the Treasurer, has not taken place. He said:
Consumer spending has been growing strongly and we can expect this trend to continue. Employment is bound to go on rising and so aro average earnings. Generally, conditions seem set, not for a boom, but for a good steady expansion of consumer demand.
Every sign that we can see tells us that this is not so. Because of lack of improvement in basic pensions there will be no growth in consumer demand. I should like to refer to two quotations from statements made by economists which put the position better than I can put it. An article in the Australian’ of 19th September refers to the indicators and the strategy of the Treasurer. It states:
Unless there is some strengthening in consumer spending, it is unlikely that the hoped-for improvement in new investment expenditure will materialise in the remainder of 1967-68. The stagnation of private investment during 1966-67 and the failure of consumer spending to grow rapidly in the first half of 1967 is reflected in the growth of civilian employment. After seasonal adjustment, civilian employment rose by only 31,000 in the 6 months to June. This is an annual rate of only 62,000 or about half the long-term rate of growth in the work force.
The Statistician’s figures show that this is in fact the worst year we have had in respect of the growth of civilian employment. Generally this has dropped to a lower rate than prevailed during the days of the horror Budget. In the 12 months to May 1965 civilian employment increased by 143,400. In the 12 months to May 1966 it increased by 115,700 and in the 12 months to May 1967 it increased by 88,900. The figures for subsequent months show that there is no sign of recovery in this respect. The Treasurer suggested that the fall was due to immigrant drop-outs. He said also that the immigration target would be maintained at last year’s figure of 148,000. We have already found that that forecast is wrong. The number is down to 127,000. The editorial in the ‘Australian’ of 19th September refers in these terms to the Commonwealth’s responsibilities to the States:
The Government’s failure to meet its financial responsibilities to the States which has, in turn, meant increased taxes and charges by the States has also hit hard at low income groups. We know that the Budget has resulted in increased costs.
This Government has set going again all of the forces that lead to spiralling costs. Only recently it went before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to argue that there should not be any increase in wages because of the serious effect such an increase would have on costs. Yet this
Budget has led to greatly increased costs being imposed on people who cannot afford to meet them. The Government cannot get away from this issue. I am not talking about this just for political reasons. Those who should have received increases in income are the pensioner and ex-service groups. No logical argument can be advanced as to why they were not awarded increases. Very many surveys of the situation are currently being made and from earlier surveys it is clear that there is a great deal of poverty amongst pensioner groups.
The Government should be condemned because it did not increase pensions as it ought to have done. We know that there has been great and growing resentment by all sorts of organisations at the Government’s failure, and something ought to be done about this. Let me refer to one or two matters that illustrate my argument. I think the facts are well known. The Government has said that it cannot afford to provide increased social service benefits because of its defence expenditure. The Melbourne Age’ of 5th September stated:
Bad cases of pensioner accommodation are going undetected because tenants are too frightened to report them. Slum landlords in the Fitzroy area were charging $5 weekly to pensioners in substandard houses.
The Victorian Minister for Housing is reported as having said that councils should take more interest in these problems and that he would like to take the entire slum area of Melbourne and redevelop it in one hit but the State did not have unlimited funds. The Victorian Leader of the Opposition stated that his own experience as a local member had convinced him that many people were being forced to accept slum conditions because they could not compete for better housing.
Unfortunately, the results of surveys of the position are always very late in being published. The Australian Council of Trade Unions congress has asked the Federal Government to conduct its own survey of poverty. Unfortunately,, the findings of some surveys that have been made relate to periods which are not current. Let me refer to a survey of an industrial area of Sydney the results of which have become available from the Parliamentary Library. It was made by W. L. Robb, Dip. Soc.
Stud., and Kenneth Rivett, M.A., Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of New South Wales. In Appendix 1 of Chapter 3 they refer to their findings in relation to health, medical supervision and diet in these terms: 55.8% o£ men and 53.4% of women said that they suffered from disabilities which restricted their activities. As other surveys have also shown, blood pressure and heart complaints, along with rheumatoid-arthritic troubles, were much the most common disorders. Bronchitis, asthma, etc., anaemia and ulcers came next as regards frequency of mention.
The survey did not cover old people in any kind of institution. Among persons living at home, 10.7% are bedridden or can walk only within the home, while a further 21.9% can walk only for short distances. More than half the sufferers from blood pressure and heart complaints, and threefifths of the rheumatoid-arthritic victims, are limited in these ways.
One in every eight old people has restricted use of his or her hands, this type of restriction being experienced more frequently by those with limited ability to walk. 86.7% of Marrickville’s old people - a very high proportion - consult a general practitioner in private practice. Some rely wholly on outpatients clinics. Only a few have no medical supervision, but it is disquieting that they include a sixth of those old people who live entirely alone.
Following presentation of the Budget, growing numbers of people have protested about the lack of consideration for pensioners of all kinds. This is what the Limbless Soldiers Association of South Australia has to say in its current journal:
The Budget has been printed and what a fiasco insofar as ex-service personnel are. concerned. The Treasurer and trie Government gave repatriation benefits a complete write-off, including war widows, and at the same time- had the temerity to make a special grant of $5.2m to Indonesia and completely ignored the wives of men who sacrificed their lives, and others who are totally incapacitated and maimed for life so that he, the Treasurer, can live in freedom in the country he calls his own.
The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ of 19th September carried the following report:
Eighteen SA bodies associated with servicemen last night combined to send a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr Holt) calling for *a general review of pension rates and allowances’. This was the first meeting of its kind ever held, its chairman Mr C. A. Armbruster, the honorary secretary of the Limbless Soldiers Association of South Australia, told representatives of the organisations gathered in the RSL Memorial Hall, Angas Street.
After the meeting had approved unanimously a draft letter of ‘most vigorous protest against the failure of Cabinet to restore the value of com pensation payable to the war disabled, their dependants and those widowed by war”, Mr Armbruster said he hoped counterparts in other States would take similar concerted action.
In my own State of South Australia- J do not know whether this has happened in other States - the Returned Services League has circulated a letter which criticises in very strong terms the Government’s proposals contained in the repatriation bills which were before us, and complains about the Government’s failure to restore pension levels. The RSL said that it will not stop protesting until the position has been corrected.
There have been a lot of protests about the Budget and I do not intend to traverse them, because most honourable senators have probably read and heard of them, but undoubtedly there is a great need for an immediate adjustment in pension rates. Having regard to recent economic crises there is a just claim for the present low revels of pension rates to be returned to the position they held previously. The Bank of New South Wales criticised the Government for not restoring the value of pensions.
The Treasurer granted a number of minor benefits in the Budget. He assisted the wealthy by increasing the permissible deduction, for income tax purposes, of contributions to superannuation funds and premiums paid in respect of life assurance. That certainly will not assist any person with an ordinary income. The Budget was not designed to improve the lot of the lower income group. Instead, it was designed to ensure that the wealthy interests could continue their operations unchecked. The Treasurer’s own statements indicate clearly that the Government has no consideration or regard for the pensioners, that wide section of pioneers in Australia. On 20th August he appeared on television in a programme called ‘Meet the Press’, and a report of the interview appeared in the daily Press. When asked about pensions the Treasurer said:
Last year I was able to give them an increase of $1, but when I saw the deficit I had and the people I thought I should look after I had to recognise the difficulty. On this occasion I doubted if the economy could afford it. I did this against a background which I do not like mentioning - that once we touch them they cras us something in the order of $50m.
Yet we see an escalation in the defence vote and the indebtedness we are creating for ourselves with overseas investment a this country. We are building up huge debts in relation to defence equipment about which we know very little. When Ministers are asked about the increasing cost of equipment, whether it be the Fill aircraft or any other item such as spare parts, they say: ‘Of course there will be a growth in cost. This is to be expected’. But when one tries to defend the increased estimate of cost for construction of the Chowilla Dam they say: ‘This is too bad. It must be stopped’. The Government is hypocritical.
It is appropriate that I remind the Senate of what the Treasurer said when dismissing the pensioners and also of what the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents here the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair), said in her second reading speech on the Social Services Bill (No. 2) which, incidentally, has since been passed by both Houses of the Parliament. One would think that Ministers were great advocates of the welfare state. The Minister said:
The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’. So declared the . United Nations in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In conformity with the United Nations principle just enunciated, the Government believes that the family is the cornerstone of our nation. We accept the responsibility of easing the economic and social pressures of modern day life–
The pensioners must have laughed when they heard that - and we will take what steps are necessary to promote the wellbeing of the family.
I believe that no person in the community is satisfied with the Budget. The Treasurer mentioned that businessmen could look with confidence to the future. When things are going well and there is a certain degree of expansion, despite the Government’s inertia, the Government claims that it has produced this favourable economic climate by its actions and budgetary policies. But when the States get into trouble and cannot carry out their public works - this applies particularly in States like South Australia which rely on the consumer market in the eastern States - the Commonwealth Government says: ‘These are the results of mismanagement. The States should do something to retard their public spending’.
– Bolte must have mismanaged his State’s affairs.
– Of course. One State government has claimed that additional stamp duties and other forms of taxation should be applied to Commonwealth instrumentalities in the State. How long will it be before the States really jack up on the Commonwealth Government about the present state of affairs? This year the Treasurer and Senator Anderson said: ‘We are drawing the reins on public spending more tightly’. Last year the Minister for Air and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Howson) said that State governments should show restraint on some proposed developmental projects. Because of the so-called climate of economic expansion the States are forced to trim their sails, to stop local development and to impose extra charges on the community. When they complain about their position the Commonwealth tells them that it is the result of their own mismanagement.
The Director of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is not satisfied with the Budget. He said that the Treasurer had brought down the expected ‘stay put’ Budget and he went on:
While he claims credit for good management of the economy during the financial year 1966-67, the fact remains that in the current situation some sectors of private enterprise, including the Australian motor industry, have enjoyed very little or no growth at all in demand for their products.
This state of affairs will obtain until proper policies designed to allow the economy to expand and consumer demand to. grow are followed. The Budget should have indicated a policy of real expansion instead of applying a down-turn in wages and in relation to economic policies. I refer particularly to the pensioner group, which I have mentioned in considerable detail.
Now let me turn to shipping. What I am about to say regarding the Australian National Line and the need for an Australian interest in overseas shipping is based only on what I have been able to learn from debates in the Parliament and from contributions that have been made in a number of national newspapers on this very important question. I want to read extracts from an article which appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on Tuesday 12th
September. The article was headed ‘The great shipping debate* and stated:
Australia is unique among the top trading nations of the world in that, while dependent on sea transport to get its goods to market, it is also completely dependent on the merchant fleets of other nations to carry those goods..
Who gains from this arrangement? Is it efficient, In the national interest, good for exporters?
The economics of overseas shipping, on the verge of a cargo-handling revolution, will be examined . . .
The newspaper also refers to the question of whether the Australian National Line is being refused permission by the Government to enter the overseas shipping business. This question of an Australian overseas shipping line has been raised on a number of occasions in the Parliament. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) has said on a number of occasions - in May and December last year- that the question of an Australian interest in overseas shipping was being considered. But the report in the ‘Australian Financial Review’, which I have just read, raises the issue of whether the Government has denied an application by the Australian National Line to enter this field. We know that every statutory board, every important Australian producing group, has complained about the frequent freight increases which have become a great burden to them. One can read in nearly every report which comes before this Parliament references to and criticism of the shipping situation. When will this issue be resolved? This is what the Opposition wants to know. If we are to judge from the statement I have just read, the Australian National Line is ready to enter the overseas trade. It has the experience to do so because it already carries bulk cargo. We not only have the Australian National Line; there are the ships owned and operated by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd which carry important cargoes overseas. To prove that this matter has been considered, or apparently considered, I will quote from a reply in the other place by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) on 27th September 1966. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) had asked the Minister this question:
The Minister replied:
On a number of occasions the Chairman of the Australian National Line has drawn attention to the matter of the establishment of an overseas shipping operation. 1 suggest that if we stretch a little what he said in his reports we can say that he has even advocated this move. He has mentioned the success of the Australian National Line. We know that this has been a very successful operation. In the annual report of the Australian National Line for 1966, the Chairman said:
The Australian National Line has kept in close touch with the course of these events and considers itself ideally suited, with the facilities outlined above,-
He had spoken about improvements to berths, roll-on roll-off facilities and new technical developments in shipping:
The practicability of Australian ships engaging on a regular basis in the shipment of bulk cargo overseas also has been ventilated widely.
Both developments continue to receive the attention of the Commission, and in an effort to remove one of the advantages foreign shipowners enjoy in the way of liberal tax benefits, representations have been made to the Commissioner of Taxation for allowance of a greater rate of depreciation for ships than the 5% at present applying, which is totally inadequate under present-day conditions.
In his latest report the Chairman points out that this increased rate has been granted. But according to the Press other matters have now been raised. The latest report also raises this particular question in one way. 1 have no other souurces than Press statements but it seems to me that the Australian National Line is competent and is prepared to provide exactly what we want - an Australian interest in shipping so that we can remove this great burden on producers in Australia. Is the Government stopping the Australian National Line from entering this field? I do not know. But the Government has had enough time to consider what special facilities should be provided for the ANL or some combination of shipping interests. There is an article about this subject in the issue of the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 12th September. The first two paragraphs of the article state:
The Australian National Line has recommended to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr G. Freeth, that it should be permitted to take part in Australia’s overseas general cargo liner shipping trade. -
The recommendation, which was made last December, has not yet been considered by Federal Cabinet because of differences between the Departments of Shipping and Transport and Trade.
I conclude by saying that this is one of the most vital issues facing us, irrespective of another issue which the Opposition frequently raises - that is, the need to control overseas investment in Australia and to ensure that there are strong safeguards for Australian ownership. We should consider the establishment of an Australian overseas shipping line in order to keep down freight costs and to give producers proper advantages. I hope that the public attention given to this issue will cause the Government to act quickly about it.
– Before referring to the issues arising between the Government and the Opposition over this Budget I want to make a couple of observations. Firstly, as I see it, the Budget seeks two objectives. The first is to influence the direction of the economy and the second is to provide finance for the services of the Government. A budget is a most powerful weapon of economic policy, if not the most powerful weapon. I believe that the primary objective of the Budget is to seek to direct the economy. It is when the direction of the economy has been decided that the financial means of carrying out the services of the Government must be considered.
This leads me to the question of taxation. The imposition of taxes has two main purposes. One is that it is a means of stimulating or dampening the economy as a whole, or specific sectors of the economy. The second is that it allocates the resources as between the public and the private sector of the economy. Therefore there must always be a conflict between what is desirable and what is possible. No government can hope to raise the money to provide all the things that people think should be provided. There will always be disappointed and disgruntled sections of the community. It is a simple matter for an Opposition to jump onto the bandwagon - one does not quarrel with this - and to appear as the protector of the interests of every disappointed and disgruntled section. Financial responsibility is not always the concern of an Opposition.
Nevertheless there is an obligation on the Opposition to tell the Parliament and the people what it would do in the same circumstances. At least it should give a clear indication of its policy. The Leader of the Opposition in another place, in a tiresome diatribe, did not attempt to do this. That diatribe was repeated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). It is a reasonable assumption that the Opposition, in fact, has no alternative but Socialism. The Labor Party has always been rather like a coy maiden when it comes to revealing its economic policy. Its main plank continues to be nationalisation. Before dealing with this matter, which is the real issue between ourselves and the Opposition-
– Is the honourable senator not going to tell us something about this coy maiden?
– I will come back to her. I want to refer first to costs. Unquestionably this is the most acute problem that we are facing. The effect of the cost structure on our major export industries, which already are suffering from a drastic fall in world prices - I have in mind the wool industry in particular - is critical. That is why I accept the view that the major objective of economic policy must be price stability. The Commonwealth and State governments must take action, as far as it lies within their power, to ensure that policies do not add unnecessarily to the cost burden. Cost stability must remain a major factor in any consideration of economic policy:
Now I return to the coy maiden, to whom Senator Wright has referred. The real issue in this Budget is the allocation of resources between the private and the public sectors of the economy. Labor’s policy, as has been clearly demonstrated, is Socialism by stealth. Labor’s economic philosophy is a sterile policy of Socialism. At the last Federal Conference in Adelaide the Party came out clearly and said that its main objective was as follows:
The democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange–
We have heard that before - to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in those fields - in accordance with the principles of action, methods and progressive reforms set out in this Platform.
That is a lot of mumbo jumbo; it is wide open to all sorts of interpretations. I do not know why members of the Labor Party, many of whom are interjecting at the moment, are so sensitive when we discuss their policy. They should welcome discussion of their policy. It is an extraordinary thing that the Labour Party is afraid to fight an election on Socialist issues. At one stage Mr Calwell made a promise that if Labor were elected to office it would not implement a Socialist policy for 3 years. That is extraordinary. The Labor Party does not intend to socialise through legislation; it has discovered that there is a constitutional barrier. Labor prefers to socialise by establishing what it calls State enterprises. The modern Socialist talks glibly about public enterprise competition. This is merely a device to put sugar on the poison. The real aim is to destroy the capacity of the private sector of the economy to exist.
– To exploit.
– No, to exist. Members of the Labor Party speak about the setting up of public instrumentalities to compete with private enterprise. The real purpose is to destroy private enterprise. I am amazed to find in Labor’s platform a reference to northern development. Labor has said that for northern development it would institute either partnership or private enterprise. The relevant passage reads:
In order to promote basic industrial development - e.g. steel, power, paper - Labor will not hesitate to take the initiative-
That is a good one - and, if necessary, will enter into partnership with private organisations which do not possess the necessary resources to initially finance the establishment of industry. If it appears that the development of our national resources - particularly mining - would be ruthlessly exploited by overseas interests, Labor will not hesitate to establish Commonwealth owned processing works.
Labor claims that there has been no development of the north by private enterprise. Mr Whitlam has said that private enterprise shows a reluctance to develop the north. In Western Australia alone private enterprise is developing our great natural resources at no cost to the Australian taxpayer but with a return to the taxpayer amounting to approximately $800m a year. If our great deposits of bauxite are worked, then the figure might well become $ 1,000m. Today private enterprise is developing the north of Australia to the tune of over $2,000m a year. That does not seem to me to indicate a reluctance on the part of private enterprise to develop northern Australia.
– That is not private enterprise. That is monopoly capitalism.
– It is not a bad sort of monopoly capitalism. From every $100 of profit the Australian taxpayer gets $42.50. Labor says that some industries rate special mention, for example insurance. This section is included in Labor’s platform:
The establishment of a Commonwealth Government Insurance Office actively competing with private companies in all States in the field of life assurance, fire, accident, workers’ compensation and other forms of insurance. Such activity to be conducted on a non-profit making basis by way of rebating surpluses to insurers when renewing premiums.
These are just a few of Labor’s promises, but I suggest that at election time we will hear little about them. Mr Whitlam, who has a couple of faces, is on record as having said quite recently:
There has never been an age when Socialism was so nearly inevitable. There never was a country where it was so necessary.
This is not the moderate face of Mr Whitlam. During a speech delivered in the Parliament in October 1956 he said, when asked if he had abandoned nationalisation:
No. We advocate municipalisation in regard to local services, mutualisation in regard to insurance offices and nationalisation of services which , affect everybody in the nation. Those points are all included in the policy of the Australian Labor Party, and those are .the points that will commend themselves by sheer economic and historical necessity to everyone in the country.
It is worth noting that in 1960 he said:
The Labor Party advocates parliamentary guidance of the economy not only through public monopoly but also through public supervision and public investment. The Commonwealth can compete in any activity which is listed amongst its legislative powers, i.e. banking, insurance and interstate transport other than by rail. The States can compete in any field at all if they can afford it, but they can only afford the establishment costs if the Commonwealth provides funds. Only public enterprise can now stave ofl or counteract private monopoly or provide some continuation of competition.
– What is wrong with that?
– The honourable senator supports it; I disagree with it. I suggest that during the next Senate election campaign he should go out and advocate that policy. I issue a challenge to the Opposition to fight the Senate election on the issue of nationalism as against private enterprise. I come now to what our policy is - and here we have a conflict with the Labor Party’s policy. The Government’s policy lays emphasis on the private sector. This forms the whole basis of the Budget, and it is the basis that the Opposition is attacking. After all, the private sector provides the funds for the public sector, and because the Budget constitutes a brake on public spending, this automatically means added impetus to the private sector of the economy. The private sector of the economy has a vital role to play in the continuing growth and development of our economy. Any reduction of resources going to the private sector must to some degree tend to slow down the growth of productive capacity.
In our economy practically all primary and mineral production and manufacturing, and therefore production for export, is carried out in the private sector. There, too, is to be found a large proportion of the service industries. Slowing down the growth of the private sector must therefore slow down the rate of increase in its output. This in turn must affect to some degree the nation’s capacity to feed additional resources to community services, national security and other public sector activity. ‘Australian Economy 1967’ deals very clearly with this, and points out the danger that the continued -growth of the public sector will be to the public sector itself. On page 25, this statement appears:
The demands on public authorities for bigger’ and better services are ever mounting. Being public authorities, they are, moreover, subject to continuous pressure for concessions in charges and open or concealed subsidies. Since the resources have to be found somewhere, granting such demands will take resources away from some for the benefit of others. The demands are directed, not to public authority spending as such, but to a multitude of particular needs - education, care of the aged and indigent, health services, housing, defence, decentralisation, the development of particular areas or regions - the list has no bounds. Satisfying these demands must make claims on the national resources, which are limited and not infinitely extensible. The resources taken to meet one need are not available for another. What the public sector takes the private sector cannot have.
To me, as a Liberal, this makes sense. The Labor Party’s policy is to drain the private sector in order to add to the spending power of the public sector. This must have the effect of diverting resources from the private sector to the public sector, and we will reach the stage we have seen reached in other countries where the private sector can no longer sustain the public sector and where the private sector will be deprived of the capacity to expand productive facilities and the introduction of technological methods. The public sector can expand only at the expense of the private sector. It can expand only by increasing taxation, and taxation destroys the means of saving. Some consideration must be given to the young people today who wish to save to provide for their own future and who do not wish to have this money diverted by taxation to the public sector where the government will decide for them how their money is to be spent and where they will all become dependent on handouts from the state.
Over recent years there has been a continuing drift from the private to the public sector, and if this continues at the present rate it will produce problems of great magnitude. I shall give an example of that in a moment. Eventually we shall reach the stage where the private sector will be gradually eroded and the public sector can no longer be sustained. We have a horrifying example of this in what has happened in the United Kingdom, where a Labor government, elected on a policy not one iota different from the policy of the Australian Labor Party, a policy which promised a Utopia, the nationalisation of fuel and other industries, a policy which promised to put emphasis on the public sector-
– Tell the truth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– Tell him to tell the truth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– He is distorting the truth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I ask the honourable senator to come to order.
– As 1 was saying, the policy of the British Labour Party was not one iota different from that of the Labor Party in Australia. The British Labour Party’s policy promised the diversion of resources from the private to the public sector, and this is the real basis of nationalisation. What do we find here? Mr Whitlam promises the same thing. Mr Whitlam can be described as the poor man’s Harold Wilson. He advocates the same policy, a policy which has reduced the United Kingdom to economic chaos. The extraordinary thing is that when this situation occurred the first thing attacked was social services. Today, the British Labour Government is reconsidering its policy with relation to social services. To support that, I quote an article, which appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ on 23 rd August last, in which it stated that:
The British Minister of Labour - suggested that a means test to determine who was entitled to social assistance should be discussed in the Labour Party . . .
He was suggesting the reimposition of a means test in England. He went on to say:
The idea that Britain’s system of universal social benefits was beyond the country’s means and that it did not concentrate benefits where they were most needed has been discussed in the Labour Party for some time.
Reference is also made to one curious aspect of the British Labour Party’s policy with relation to social services in that he mentions that the reforms now circulating in the Labor Party are almost identical with the changes the Conservative Party has advocated over the years. If we get to the stage where our social services take such a high priority that the economy cannot sustain them we, too, will reach the situation that we see in England today. The first restriction is on social services. I have before me a report of a statement made by Mr Peter Jay, an economist and the son of a former United Kingdom Minister, as published in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of 9th July last. It reads:
Peter Jay, economist son of Mr Douglas Jay, has recently been doing soma gloomy crystalgazing about all this: he forecasts that during the next 10 years total spending on the social services will rise by more than 60% merely to keep pace with current policies; but even if (and it’s a big ‘if’) the economy grows by 3% a year, total national wealth will grow in the same 10- year period by less than 40%.
It follows that taxes will have to go up..>y about ?200m each year until 1973 merely to maintain what Professor Miller calls ‘the present inadequate service’. And any substantial improvement in the NHS (or in any other social service) will require, as Mr Jay puts it, ‘unprecedentedly draconian treatment of privately financed personal consumption even if this is done through raising charges for social services.’
That is the situation they have reached in the United Kingdom. Such a policy could be carried out here only by imposing controls of all kinds, by imposing prices control, wages control and even the direction of labour. When Mr Chifley was Prime Minister he was honest enough to recognise that the policies advocated by the Australian Labor Party could be carried put only by complete control of the economy. He said: You need not think you are going to sleep in the same bed or look at the same town hall clock every night. You will go where a job is provided for you.’ Under the private enterprise economy that situation has never arisen. The Government has maintained full and in fact over-full employment. The great dispute on the Budget is between the Government and the Labor Party regarding the allocation of resources between the private and public sectors. The ALP wants a greater emphasis placed on the public sector. Inevitably that will bring abo:;t the situation that obtains in the United Kingdom today. It will bring about not only price control, capital issues control and the like, but also the - complete control that Mr Chifley recognised.
– What about the employment situation in the United Kingdom today?
– As Senator Mattner reminds me, in the United Kingdom the number of unemployed has reached 500,000 and is expected to reach 750,000 by this winter. This has happened under a government that promised the people of the United Kingdom a glorious Utopia under Socialism. The worst feature of this policy is that it brings about an alarming decline in national spirit. The issue in this Budget debate concerns the policy followed by the Government and that advocated bythe Labor Party. No matter how much sugar the Labor Party likes to use, it cannot disguise its Socialist policies. I believe that the Treasurer, in placing emphasis on the private sector, as against the public sector, has made a wise judgment. I support the Budget and oppose the amendment moved by Senator Murphy.
– I have listened to Senator Sim talk of many things of which he knows absolutely nothing. Firstly he said that the only answer of the Australian Labor Party is Socialism. He completely forgets the Socialism that is applied by the Government which he supports. He forgets that the 1945 Banking Act has tied the banks in such a knot that they do not know what they are doing. They are compelled to lend their resources to whomever the Government directs and at an interest rate fixed by the Reserve Bank. They are compelled to deposit a percentage of their reserves in the Statutory Reserve Deposit Account. If there is anything more socialised than that I would like to know of it. I turn to superannuation and insurance schemes. The Government seized the people’s savings in superannuation funds in the same way as it forced the people to put money into compulsory loans. If there is anything more socialised than that I would like to know of it. In 1949 the Government told the people that the Australian Labor Party would seize the people’s funds in the savings banks. The Government did that, not by legislation but simply by directing the people that if they did not lend a certain percentage of their funds on compulsory loan to the Government they would have to pay higher taxation. The Government wanted to get the money one way or another. Senator Sim spoke of the public sector draining the private sector. He spoke of northern development and read from a document which he thought was the Australian Labor Party’s policy on northern development. For his information I will read the policy in that respect.
– Do not tell me that the ALP has another policy?
– The honourable senator would not know. He has been asleep for 12 months. How would he know?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– Our policy on northern development is published in our platform for everyone to see and read. It is a public document.
– When was it published?
– Since the Adelaide Conference. The policy is:
The Government has never done anything like that. Our policy continues:
News and Information Bureau at a suitable point in northern Australia for the purpose of publicity and promotion of the north for dissemination through overseas and domestic media. 6. (a) The Northern Territory to have a fully elected Legislative Assembly and the question of referred powers to be one for negotiation,
The establishment of local government in the Northern Territory wherever practicable.
– Words, words, words.
– At least they are not words spoken in secret. Senator Sim spoke about the British Government. I suppose the honourable senator has only examined the state of Britain since the Labour Party was elected to office. He fails to realise the conditions that existed in Britain when the Conservative Government was emptied out and a Labour Government elected by the democratic vote of the people. Within 3 months of Labour being elected the money bags, who were not prepared to accept the decision of the ballot box, tried to wreck the Government through financial measures. Honourable senators opposite know as well as I do that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development had to come to the rescue and defeat the money bags. They were prepared to accept not the ballot box decision but only the decision that suited them. Senator Sim also referred to Mr Chifley’s comments about a controlled economy and control of prices and wages. This Government goes half way. It controls wages but will not control prices. We cannot have a sound economy when the Government controls only one sector of it. It has either to let wages run as it lets prices run, to let the worker sell his labour to the highest bidder for the price to which he is entitled, and have the right to withdraw his labour if the price is not good enough, or control the prices of the commodities that the worker can purchase with the wages he is paid. The Government cannot have it both ways. Until it does one of those things it cannot have a stable economy.
I support the amendment moved by Senator Murphy in his speech on the Budget. The Senate is dealing with the most important document that will come before it at any time during the year. The Budget and its accompanying papers will set the working climate for the next 12 months. This Budget is famous for what it docs not do, not for what it does. It does not set any favourable climate for the people in the greatest need. It provides nothing for people receiving social service benefits, such as war widows, civilian widows, deserted wives, age . pensioners, invalid pensioners, unemployed people and people receiving sickness benefits, it does nothing to relieve those in the community who struggle to exist on poverty incomes. Many thousands of people in Australia today have only poverty incomes. It does nothing to eliminate slum conditions. What provision does it make for the clearance of slums in the cities of Australia? It does not make any.
It provides nothing to meet the growing demand for basic medical and hospital facilities. The Government has no plan to relieve the community of the ever-increasing cost of health. There used to be a song, some of the words of which were:’Since the cost of living got so high, it’s cheaper now to die’. Now it is pretty dear even to die. But this Government does nothing about that. I do not know what people can do if they cannot live and it is too dear to die. Where do they go? This Government will not face up to the problem. The cost of health falls most heavily on family men, particularly those in the low income bracket. It is becoming cheaper to die than to go into hospital, although it is pretty expensive to die.
National development, in particular northern development, has been ignored completely. Some money will be spent on existing projects. But where is the foresight for new works? Perhaps Senator Henty will tell me. What programmes are there for spending the $50m promised for water conservation during the last general election campaign? Where is there any assistance to South Australia to overcome its chronic water shortage? Senator Bishop developed that argument well enough today. Where does the Budget provide any assistance for what might be termed the forgotten State of Queensland? What proposals are there for the conservation of the millions of acre-feet of water which annually run into the sea in that State? What about the Ord River scheme? What proposals has the Government for that scheme? These projects should be carried out in northern
Australia, but the Government completely forgets them in this Budget. The Ord River scheme has reached the stage where it is easier to sweep it under to carpet than to deal with it.
The appropriation for northern development is $386,000, of which 50% will be spent on salaries and a further 16% on administrative expenses. What benefit will the north derive from the expenditure of that $255,000? We will have to legislate to provide for an examination of water resources. We already have the Water Resources Council which has produced only one report. That was in .1963. It has been operating ever .since. Now we have to have legislation to set up a body to examine water resources after having the Water Resources Council for all these years.
To me the Budget appears to be a completely negative one. The Treasurer took thirty-two pages of the printed document that I have in my hand to tell the people how sound the economy was. But the last page of the document, the thirty-third page, is probably the most interesting one. The Treasurer said:
There are, too,, other pre-conditions of growth wc cannot afford to neglect and there are many questions we should ask. Our workforce is growing and gaining in competence. Is it growing fast enough for all the tasks now crowding upon us? Management has a critically important task to fulfil. Is management everywhere doing the job national greatness demands? Are we mobilising the capital we are accumulating and allocating it to the right uses?
These are the seeds of doubt that were in the Treasurer’s mind when he brought the Budget before the country. Me continued:
Are we sufficiently conscious of the critical necessity to control costs of production? Are we efficient?
I wonder whether it was a crack at Mr McEwen in respect of tariff policy when the Treasurer asked: ‘Are we efficient?’ He continued:
To ask these and other questions is not to belittle the achievements of those who are in fact finding the answers to our problems. They simply remind us that if the opportunities that lie before us are great the efforts they demand are equally great too.
In that statement the Treasurer cast a complete reflection on the document that he put before the people for the ensuing 12 months. When we read that statement and then look at what is not in the document, we gain some idea of the state, of bewilderment that the Treasurer was in. He is in a far greater state of bewilderment now, after Mr Holt’s repudiation of him last night in Rockhampton.
We might ask- this question: When the Treasurer makes his final statement in which he doubts the ability of the economy, does his doubt arise from a lack of advice to him? Have his advisers fallen by the wayside in this critical period? We might very well ask this further question: Who are his advisers? Over the past few days we have read all about advice to the Government. We have read a lot about the 54 faceless men meeting at the Hotel Canberra. We may ask ourselves some questions. What conspiracies against the Australian public are being concocted in secret by these Government advisers? As there is no answer to that question, we can only infer that conspiracies were concocted at the Hotel Canberra during the secret meeting.
We might ask ourselves whether these faceless, secret meeting men are advisers or dictators? Do they recommend policy to the Government or do they impose policy on the Government? If one believes the Federal President of the Liberal Party, the fifty-four faceless men only advise the Government. But where do the party funds come from?
– Where do yours come from?
– We know where our funds come from. They come from the trade union movement. From where do members of the Liberal Party receive their endorsement? Is it not true that he who pays the piper calls the tune? Of course it is. It is also true that if Liberal senators repudiate their own Federal Council they cannot repudiate their Federal Standing Committee on Policy which has twelve members - six faceless men and six politicians. Liberal senators cannot deny that the Federal Standing Committee on Policy directs them on what they shall do in this Parliament and on the conditions that they shall impose upon the people.
One might ask why the President of the Liberal Party, Mr Pagan, and the Prime Minister, in their addresses to the Council, went to such great pains to distinguish between the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference and the meeting of the Federal Council of the Liberal Party. What were they afraid of? It has never been necessary previously for them to distinguish between these two bodies. But on this occasion, when the Liberal Party Council was meeting in secret, it had to try to draw some distinction between itself and the Labor Party Federal Conference. The distinction was that the Labor Party Federal Conference is the boss but the Liberal Party Council is not the boss. I do not know. I talked to some of the Liberal Party people who attended that conference. They told me that it provided an enjoyable trip to Canberra for some of the dear old ladies who helped them along the way. They were referring to the meeting of the Liberal Party Federal Council.
– Who said it?
– They said it provided a trip to Canberra for the dear old ladies who helped them. It was an outing for them once every 2 years.
– Who said that?
– This is the Liberal Party Federal Conference. Nevertheless we cannot treat the Liberal Party Federal Conference lightly because this conference, as every honourable senator who sits on the Government side knows, makes the policy for the Government, and it makes that policy in secret.
– I was a delegate to this conference, senator, so just realise that what you are saying I can vet.
– Well, senator, you made a speech yesterday that was not too good.
– But it worried you.
– Not a bit. At this meeting in Canberra a little America’s Cup was conducted with the Prime Minister at the helm of the ship of hate. That was the theme of his address to the conference, a statement of hate against the Australian Labor Party.
– The honourable senator did not expect love, did he?
– Senator, you were a delegate, an elected delegate, to the conference. You were ably supported by the yeah, yeah, yeah boys. But who are the people who make up the Liberal Party Federal Council? What part, if any, do they play in the lives of the Australian people? Do any of them belong to BIG - the Basic Industries Group?
– Do any of them belong to the Liberal Reform Group?
– Then perhaps some belong to the Communist Party?
– Or the Australian Nazi Party?
– Or to the Ustashi?
– How do we know?
– You prove that they do.
– How do we know that they do not?
– You prove it.
– How can it be proved when the meeting is held in secrecy?
– The honourable senator is putting up an Aunt Sally and trying to knock it over.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood) - Order! This is not a conversation between Senator Cant and Senator Branson.
– What proof have the Australian people that they are not being governed by a group such as this? What proof have they?
– The honourable senator has no proof that they are.
– Trot your faceless men out. Let us have a look at them. Then we will know and understand who they are. But at the moment we do not know who they are. We are entitled to assume that with all of these parties supporting free enterprise some of them by some means can get into the Liberal Party Federal Council. I am entitled to assume that.
– Wouldn’t it worry the honourable senator next year if we announced that we were going to do so? He would not have a feather to fly with.
– Well, you had better pull my teeth, senator, and let me-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
Order! Senator Cant, please address the Chair.
– If the Liberal Party has nothing to fear, why does it meet in secret? If the decisions of the Liberal Party Council have no force or effect on the parliamentary party why are its meetings not public? This is what the ‘Canberra Times’ had to say about the Council meeting, senator, on Saturday, 2nd September 1967. The article reads:
The federal council of the Liberal Party will conduct its twenty-second annual meeting at the Hotel Canberra on Monday and Tuesday. As does any national party, it will discuss many matters crucial to the affairs of the Commonwealth and the people. As the party of the senior Government members its decisions, even though the Parliamentary wing is not bound to accept them, are arguably of even greater influence than those of other parties, and necessarily of great public concern. For instance, the Queensland division is reported to plan to introduce a resolution critical of Australian trade relations with China, and particularly the dependence of the wheat industry upon this trade. If a Slate branch of the Liberal Party holds such views the people of Australia deserve to know its reasons for them and to hear its arguments. And yet the federal council will meet in secret.
This, surely, is extraordinary, bearing in mind some of the party’s themes during the past two election campaigns. In 1961 Sir Robert (then Mr) Menzies warned the electorate: ‘You are being asked to hand over the international and national policies of Australia to the obscure but powerful gentlemen of the federal conference of the Australian Labor Party’. Two years later this theme had been developed and refined. Following the special meeting of the ALP conference in March 1963, on the issue of the North- West Cape base, the first references to ‘the 36 faceless men’ who controlled Labor’s destinies were heard. The taunt grew in frequency through the year and the best the ALP could do was observe that the phrase had first been applied in Britain, to the men behind the Conservative Party.
This is true.
– The honourable senator will remember that before this Mr Calwell and Mr Whitlam had to wait outside-
– Only because there were a lot of drunken reporters in the lobby, and the lobby was full of smoke, and neither of them smokes. It is time that the true story was told about this. The ‘Canberra Times’ continues:
Now the gibe is being turned against the Liberal Party. There are 54 delegates to its annual council meeting. Of this number, seven are federal Parliamentarians, including Mr Holt,
Mr McMahon, Senator Henty, who are delegates ex officio, and another eight are State Parliamentarians, including three Premiers, a deputy Premier and two Leaders of the Opposition. This leaves 39 of relative obscurity - even faceless.
– The honourable senator has forgotten Jeff Bate and myself.
– Senator Branson is one of the delegates of relative obscurity. The article continues:
What contributions will Mr L. G. Catt, of Queensland, or Mr G. D. T. Cooper, from South Australia, make to the formulation of national policy, or at least that part of it the Parliamentary leadership heeds: Or Mrs Guilfoyle, of Victoria-
She is probably one of the dear old ladies- or Mr P. R. Patmore, of Tasmania? They may be very important indeed, but it is difficult for the public to surmise even what their concerns may be; they and many other delegates are not included in Who’s Who.
This attack upon the Liberal Party Federal Council meeting was not confined to the Canberra Times’. It was published in other newspapers throughout Australia. I would be pleased if Senator Branson’s Party threw open its council meetings to the general public and became as democratic as other political parties. Even the British Conservative Party allows representatives of the Press and television into its council meetings. Yesterday, in a debate on another matter Senator Branson had a few words to say about me. He said: 1 have not boycotted the Snowy Mountains scheme. 1 have been to the opening of all of the. power stations except one. Senator Cant ran away from this issue. I went back over the debates to see what he had to say about it but 1 could not get anything on him because he did not say anything about it. He is a Western Australian and he knew that if he opposed the establishment of the station it would be used against him at the election. He was very wise and remained completely quiet. Although he sneaked in a few odd questions he did not debate the matter.
I say frankly to the Senate that I do not run away from anything and I am not a sneak.
– I did not say you were a sneak.
– I throw the words right back in your face, because I spoke on the North West Cape base during the debate on the Estimates.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Cant, you will address me instead of addressing individual senators.
– The Australian Labo Party did not boycott the opening ot the North West Cape communications station. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), the only member of the Party from Western Australia who received an official invitation to attend the opening of the station, was in attendance.
– Mr Whitlam got one from Mr Holt.
– 1 have not seen Mr Whitlam’s invitation. A notice was put on the board to the effect that other members of Parliament could submit their names if they wanted to go to the opening of the station. I am well aware that Senator Branson went to the opening and was left cooling his heels on Friday afternoon. That was why I asked him yesterday, by way of interjection, what he did on Friday afternoon. Could it be said that he received the greatest courtesy from the American people when he went to the opening of the station? The platform of the Australian Labor Party in respect of the North West Cape base is quite clear, and it is public property. It states:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreign owned, controlled or operated bases in Australian territory, especially if such bases involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty. Labor is not opposed to the use of Australian bases by allies in war time, or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Australia, provided that Australian authority and sovereignty are unimpaired, and provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia’s consent
This is a pretty reasonable statement and it is probably much more reasonable than the attitude that is adopted by the Americans at North West Cape.
– You are against them.
– I have just read out the policy. If the honourable senator could not understand it it is not my fault. I cannot give him the understanding. When Mr Ed Clark, the American Ambassador, was at the microphone and had a peppercorn mounted on a plaque to hand to the Prime Minister as rental for the 28 acres of land, he said:
We will let the Australian public know that we pay our bills promptly.
I wonder how much warmth went ; n lo the heart of Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd at that time. I suggest that the promptness of the payment of America’s bills is matched by the size of the account that has to be paid. The peppercorn was paid immediately and the $6m is still in doubt. I think Mr Ed Clark should have <i look at that. I suggest, too, that he, the people at the American base and the American Government promptly have a look at the coverage of workers compensation and common law claims for damages arising from negligence. This matter has been going on for nearly 9 months now. At any time there could be a serious accident at that place as a result of which a wife and children might be left without the breadwinner, but there could be no compensation or common law claim against the American Government. I suggest that if the Americans want good public relations with Australia in respect of the North West Caps base they should have a look at some of these things.
I do not want to take up any more time. I think the Budget is summed up in the doubts expressed by the Treasurer on page 33 of the statement read to the Senate. If that is correct, Australia will not have a very easy time during the next 12 months.
– After a few weeks of debating the Budget even in ordinary circumstances it becomes a somewhat desultory task. There is no evidence in the proceedings today that we are much concerned about the national interest. Senator Cant’s speech was devoted, almost wholly, I would think, to mere transient matters of political backchat. For my part, having been assigned the role of speaking today - I expect that under ordinary circumstances I shall be able to do so for 30 minutes - I mean to touch upon three subjects because I think each of them is of some significance. The first is that since we discussed the last Budget this country has had a constitutional referendum. On 27th May the people recorded a vote upon a constitutional alteration in circumstances unique to this Senate.
The first circumstance was that the proposal for alteration that was directed to the security of this chamber had the unanimous support of every member of the House of Representatives. The second circumstance was that the proposal was opposed within the Parliament only by senators, and of the sixty senators the opponents numbered ten. The third circumstance was that the people recorded a vote against a proposal which had the unanimous support of the House of Representatives, not because of the performance of the Senate but because of their own fundamental insight into sound principles of parliamentary constitution. I think there was an unprecedented majority.
That is a major index of the people’s viewpoint on the Parliament. It is of particular significance to the Senate. I suggest that the Senate should regard it as a stepping stone so that whatever might have been the criticism of the Senate heretofore, hereafter the Senate will use its powers with great responsibility, but nevertheless firmness and energy, to restore at least in this unit of the Parliament some reality to the representation of people by elected representatives.
The second aspect of the Senate’s concern with what I am speaking of stems from the publication of the third edition of the book ‘Australian Senate Practice’ written by Mr J. R. Odgers, Clerk of the Senate. In the book Mr Odgers has revealed a wealth of erudition and dedication of purpose, and having regard to what was said earlier this year I am pleased to refer to the impartiality displayed for the cause of Parliament as distinct from the practice of peddling party politics. Mr Odgers signalised the occasion of the publication of his book by a particular passage on page 9 to which I wish to direct specific attention. He said:
The additional function suggested in that report for the Australian Senate is a standing committee system on the American model to watch and appraise the administration of the laws in certain defined fields of governmental operations and to inform public opinion.
In support of that suggestion, the report points out that ‘One of the most important functions of a legislature is to inspect and review the administration of the laws and the exercise of delegated powers by the Executive Branch of the Government’. The report then notes that, at Canberra, Parliamentary oversight of the Administration and the accountability of the Administration to Parliament stop when the Parliamentary sittings stop. That gap - about half the year - could well be filled by the appointment of Senate committees, with power to act during adjournments of the Parliament, and the gap not left to the Press to fill as it is today. If the book contained only that paassage it would make a significant contribution to the literature of Parliament, because it is to be noted that the period during which Senator Henty has led the Government in this chamber will be signalised in the record for years to come by the fact that the
Senate proceeded, with a somewhat modified step but nevertheless proceeded, to the acceptance of the idea that the Senate is an appropriate place from which to recruit committees to examine important questions of public affairs. Senator Henty was instrumental in establishing a committee to inquire into the container method of handling cargoes and a committee to inquire into the adoption of the metric system of weights and measures. Those committees are functioning, under the chairmanship of Senator Cormack and Senator Laught respectively, in a way about which from time to time we see glimpses through the Press but nevertheless in a way for which the Senate is indeed grateful.
Mr Odgers’ book refers to a wider field for Senate committees. He suggests they should supervise the administration of laws. Both New Zealand and Great Britain have felt the need to adopt something along those lines, New Zealand by appointing an ombudsman and Great Britain by appointing a parliamentary commissioner. They have recognised the trend - this is denied in high places - which indicates the decadence of Parliament in its ordinary procedures.
The passage I have read from Mr Odgers’ book indicates original thinking from the point of view of making a practical contribution to the work of the Parliament whereby members should constitute themselves into appropriate committees - not too many or not too few - to be available to people who have grievances under the impact of the administration of laws. Those committees could inquire into such matters from time to time. Perhaps there could be a standing committee to supervise and check the administration of particular laws, or even a number of standing committees, and A, B or C Committee could operate in relation to certain aspects of legislation.
I speak of these things not only from the encouragement 1 get from Mr Odgers’ thought upon the subject but also now from a long experience as a member of a committee which. I think, has discharged its duties with some degree of credit to Canberra and the Government. I refer to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. From time to time it is evident that the mere fact that a committee faces the administrators with a challenge to justify their administration on this, that or the other has a salutary effect.
I only want to add that I do not speak of matters of parliamentary procedure merely as generalities; I speak as a practitioner who from time to time gives to the parliamentary vote real energy and life according to the judgment of a political representative. I believe that that is an inseparable and essential function of the parliamentary vote, especially in the Senate where, a;. Mr Odgers reminds us, we have in recent years definitely maintained the right to be called the chamber of review, notwithstanding a large party element which controls the Senate.
The next matter to which I shall refer relates to the general national economy. I want to come specifically to a consideration of the importance of Australia’s future development of the trend, particularly over the last decade or more, of agricultural incomes. In the Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) made this statement to the nation:
Wage rates have increased strongly: over the year to June, minimum weekly wage rates rose by about 7%. As to prices, the consumer price index rose in the first three quarters of 1966-67 at an annual rate only a little above 2%. However, in the most recent quarter, the rise approached an annual rate of 5%.
The statement seemed to be unaccompanied by any concern or dismay. 1 am not quite sure that the statement is. not printed in an atmosphere of applause. A subsequent statement by the Treasurer was:
The rural industries will depend, as always, very much on seasonal conditions. For some major districts a good season is not assured as yet But there can be no doubt that the rural industries, especially the wheat industry, are capable of greater production. Given a good season greater production will certainly be achieved.
Then there followed a discussion which has engaged the attention of most of the speakers on the Budget as to the relative votes that should be given this year to what is called the private sector and the public sector. I for my part wish that before the Estimates have been adopted somebody will explain to me the constituent elements of the public sector. I should take, for instance, the Australian National Line, Trans-Australia Airlines, the Commonwealth Railways, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority-
– The Post Office?
– Yes, and the Post Office organisation, and therefore I wonder with what reality we refer to a discrimen between Socialism and private enterprise when the public sector has even the few bodies I have mentioned. But there are some elements that cause me concern when I focus my attention on the subject of agricultural income. I ask the Senate to follow me. The Treasurer said:
In the 4 years from 1962-63 to 1966-67 public authority spending as a proportion of total spending has grown from 19% to 21%. In the past 2 years 44% of the increase in employment has gone to the public sector.
In the last 2 years, Mr Deputy President, 44% of the increase in employment has been in the public sector. The Treasurer went on to say that a few years ago we would have regarded 25% to 30% as the upper limit certainly, or the norm.
I do not think that this dissection of the economy into the private sector and the public sector is really material in a national sense. I put the view to the Senate that we should be much more concerned to see from what elements in the community productivity is forthcoming and the relative profitability of those elements, and to make an assessment of the impact that that profitability will have on the trend of those units.
Last night, in a speech which I found most impressive and stimulating, Senator McManus, I think it was, drew our attention to what we have often heard described as the multiplication of population throughout the world; to the figures of the Freedom from Hunger campaign showing that twothirds of the people in the world are underfed; and to the forecast that in the 1980s the number of underfed people will have doubled. Senator McManus said that Australia is a country with a small population and that we have huge areas to develop. What are we doing with regard to agriculture? I think some of us have gone into a swoon in recent years and believe that the Japanese and the Americans, the overseas mining interests, the interests of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd, which are mining the country and exporting this wealth, will replace our need for agricultural industries. Do not let any honourable senator infer from what I have said about the mining industries that I join in the cacophony that comes from the Labor Opposition decrying the use of overseas capital for the purpose of developing our wealth. If I may say so, with proper respect to the Opposition, I regard its outlook as a completely blind one. All I want to say is that people are claiming that we will soon be getting export income of $300m from metals, and the obvious implication is that we should not be so concerned about the impoverishment - because that is what it is - of our agricultural industries.
I have taken a pursuing interest in this matter which, in the ordinary person, would induce a sense of despair. But as I have described this year as the watershed, as it were, in which the Senate should start to be really vigorous and energetic, I do not absorb that despair because we will have a few more years yet in which to work. I have taken the trouble to have a graph prepared. One line shows the increase of the farm incomes of Australia. It starts at 1949 and goes through to 1967. It shows an improvement in farm incomes of about 60%. The other line starts in 1949 and goes through to the same terminal year, 1967, and records the increase of wages and salaries of about 600%. It is not that I resent the secondary industries taking in each other’s washing and building themselves up on the inflationary basis of artificial wage escalation and tariffs. But we are doomed to national disaster if we ever have such a fertile country - notwithstanding drought and desert - for the production of food simply sterilising its opportunities in that respect. It is insanity, I suggest, from the point of view of a national Treasurer, to expect farmers to go on promoting the agricultural level of the country if their experience is to be such as I register in this graph.
There are a few things I want to say about farm incomes. In my opinion they are remarkable factors. The first one is this: Between the census of 1954 and the census of, I think, 1961, farm population increased by 2.81%. The population of other sections of industry increased by 40.54%. The Senate will see that the farm population of the country, relatively, is dwindling from year to year.
– But there are more acres under production.
– In good time I shall come to that. I hope to present this information in my own way. The second thing is that the production of crops as a whole rose between 1954 and 1966. Taking the triennium 1954 to 1956 and comparing it with the triennium of 1964-1966, 1 find that agricultural production has increased, despite the relatively dwindling population, as follows:
Let me point out to Senator Cavanagh, who would have little concern, I should think, for the ordinary working conditions of the farming population unless they were on his union list-
– That is not so.
– I rejoice in having a concern not only for those who are on the union list but also for the family that plods along in the old-fashioned way and raises a greater crop only to find the return eroded by the costs that the urban industries are demanding. The third fact which I think is of stunning importance is that the indebtedness of the farmers to institutional lenders has increased by more than 75% in the last decade. If the indebtedness to private creditors were known, probably the increase would be much more threatening than that. It is a tragedy that this country should continue to promote graphs of that sort which show farm incomes almost stable but other incomes artificially inflated year by year.
– Does the honourable senator mean that farm incomes are stable despite extra productivity?
– Yes. Although they grow extra crops and get a better unit production from the farm the result is as set out in the following statement made by counsel for the Commonwealth in the recent basic wage proceedings before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission:
Whereas in 1958-59 farm income had reached $941 m on the basis of a gross value of rural production of $2,523m, in 1965-66 it reached only $ 1,049m on the basis of a level of rural production $828m greater.
To put it simply, in 1959 farm income was $94 lm when the gross value of rural production was $2,523m and in 1966, seven years later, farm income went up by about $100m to $ 1,049m when the gross value of rural production had risen by $828m. In other words, of the increase of $828m the farmers received about $100m as their return. Counsel further stated:
Costs between these 2 years had risen by $742m.
– What were those costs in the main?
– Were they not for tractors, wire, superphosphate, tools, piping and that sort of thing rather than for labour?
– They were.
– Let not Senator O’Byrne attribute to people who compute these national accounting figures a simple misunderstanding of that kind. There is one item in the computation of farm income which causes concern - that is depreciation. I shall speak specifically about that in a moment or two. I do not obtrude my own uninformed viewpoint on these matters; 1 take some care beforehand to fortify myself with information provided by people who have been experienced in this field over a great number of years.
– The honourable senator has created the impression that the costs were for labour.
– The impression I want to create is that after producing extra crops worth $828m the only dividend that the farmers received was $100m. The remainder was eroded by tariffs, wages, interest and all the other costs that reduce gross income to a net figure. I have been able to obtain from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics two schedules relating to this matter. The first shows the principal components of the gross national product at factor cost between 1948-49 and 1966-67. In 1948-49 wages and salaries amounted to $2, 170m and in 1966-67 they amounted to $1 1,522m. We know that special advantages are given to the farmer in the form of depreciation allowances when working out his taxable income. This table shows that farm income plus farm depreciation amounted to $708m in 1948-49 and $l,695m in 1966-67. Farm incomes rose a little more than twice while wages and salaries generally rose five times. The table further shows that non-farm business income rose from $970m in 1948-49 to $5,374m in 1966-67. With the concurrence of honourable senators, and so they may consider the figures more fully, I incorporate the table in Hansard.
The second table that I obtained from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics shows the percentage distribution of gross national product at factor cost. It reveals that in 1948-49 wages, salaries and supplements represented 53.9% of the gross national product and in 1966-67 they represented 56,7%. Non-farm business income represented 24.1% of the gross national product in 1948-49 and 26.4% in 1966-67. Farm income plus farm depreciation represented 17.5% of the gross national product in 1948-49 but only 8.3% in 1966-67. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate that table in Hansard too.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General business taking precedence of Government business) -
– On behalf of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) I move:
That the Senate considers that in the interests of justice provision should be made to enable an appeal to be brought against the award No. 2 of 1967 made by L. G. Matthews Esq. and known as the Papua and New Guinea Local Officers Award.
The Opposition moves this motion to draw attention to a very serious situation which has arisen in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as a result of the decision handed down by the Public Service Arbitrator for the Territory on 11th May of this year. We trust that by taking this action we may persuade the Senate to support a review of this decision in circumstances in which, as I shall indicate, we would suggest that would be practicable.
I think it is necessary to deal briefly with the history of this matter. In 1964 the Administration in Papua and New Guinea reduced the salaries for indigenous officers in the Public Service of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, in many cases drastically, to levels averaging approximately 40 per cent of those of their European counterparts. The Administration indicated, when it was announcing the decision, that the matter was not closed and that the Public Service Association, which represents those who were involved in this case, might take the matter to arbitration - that is, to the Public Service Arbitrator in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
The Association did this, and there was a lengthy hearing extending over some 15 months. Then, on 11th May the Arbitrator handed down his decision. That decision was a bitter disappointment to the indigenous people of the Territory and to the non-European local officers who had looked to this lengthy arbitration proceeding to rectify what they thought was a very grievous injustice. When one looks at the actual background of the story and examines the situation there, I think one can understand perfectly well why they feel so disappointed and so disillusioned about it. Indeed, it is fair to say that the recent judgment has caused anger and dismay in the Territory. The Government has refused to support an application by the Public Service Association in the Territory for a review of the decision of the Arbitrator.
This is not an ordinary situation. This is not a case in which an appeal is granted under the ordinance which governs the matter. The ordinance relating to the settlement of matters arising out of employment in the Territory Public Service does not provide for a direct appeal from a decision of the Arbitrator. It is not like the Public Service Arbitration Act of the Commonwealth of Australia under which, provided the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission can be persuaded that in the public interest an appeal should lie, then an appeal will He. No such right is conferred in the Public Service Ordinance in Papua and New Guinea. Instead, there is provision in section 12 of that Ordinance that:
The Arbitrator may refer any application submitted to him under this Ordinance or any matter arising out of an application-
And these are the important words on which I rely for this motion - to a person authorised by the Governor-General in that behalf for investigation and report and may delegate to that person such of his powers as he deems desirable.
I leave out the formal matters that are in the section. It then goes on to say:
The Arbitrator may, on the report, and after hearing further evidence or argument, or both, or without hearing further evidence or argument, as he sees fit, decide the application.
What is sought here by the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea is that the Arbitrator should refer the whole matter to the President of the Common wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in Australia and two others nominated by the President, and that they should be the persons authorised by the GovernorGeneral under section 12 of the Territory Ordinance to conduct this investigation and to report.
In effect, if the Government were to accede to this request - and I hope it is not too late for the Government to do so - the proceeding then would be in the hands of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, and two others nominated by him, presumably, though not necessarily, other commissioners of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Then the matter would proceed, one would think, in the nature of a rehearing of the whole matter, or in the nature of a review of the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator.
All that is necessary is for the Government to say: ‘Yes, we will agree to this course.’ If the Government says that it will agree to authorise this tribunal, an ad hoc tribunal, a tribunal brought into existence by reason of the operation of section 12 of the Papua and New Guinea ordinance, then I have not the slightest doubt that there could be a reference by Mr Matthews, the Arbitrator, of the whole matter, and then a tribunal of three arbitrators experienced and sophisticated in the complex problems that arise in relation to national issues, such as the basic wage issue, the standard hours issue and the broader issues that arise in the industrial complex of the employer-employee relationship or the government and government servant relationship, could investigate and review it.
I propose now to say a few things about the nature of the proceedings before the Arbitrator, some of the evidence before him and the conclusions he reached about it, and the degree of dissatisfaction with his award. To get the matter into proper perspective I want to stress that I am not pressing here that the whole of the case as presented by the Public Service Association should be accepted without reservation or in toto. I am doing no more than submitting that there is the strongest prima facie case here for having another look at this problem, because unless that is done there will be grievous dissatisfaction and disillusionment on the part of the indigenous local officers in the Territory. What is perhaps equally serious in the long run is that there will be disillusionment with the arbitration system, a system which one might otherwise have hoped would become a permanent feature of life in the Territory. I think that is an extremely important consideration because we have to look here at the situation in the light of what lies ahead for this Territory. We have to look at it from the situation of a Territory which, one of these days- -and perhaps sooner rather than later - will achieve selfgovernment and eventually independence. We have to look at a developing society in which the indigenous people are being asked, and properly being helped, to take an increasing share in the business of running their own country. One of the critical bulwarks of any society is the quality of its Public Service. Everybody ought to agree - indeed I think everybody does agree - that a strong, efficient and contented Public Service is essential for the welfare of the Territory. Yet the Public Service Association of the Territory has described the Arbitrator’s decision as tragic mistake and has attacked the inadequacy of the local officers salaries fixed by the Arbitrator. One has only to note that the base salary level was lifted from $440 to $480 annually to realise how small was the increase in the light of the total picture presented.
I submit that the consequences of the Arbitrator’s decision are likely to be very far reaching. A big question mark hangs over the future of Papua and New Guinea. The pace and direction of the Territory’s development and its progress towards self government are of critical importance to Australia. I suggest that the Government’s failure to agree so far to a review of the Arbitrator’s decision by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and two other persons nominated by him is an injustice to the local officers in the Territory and is aggravating the feelings of those involved. The dissatisfaction is serious. From the information received the situation apparently has deteriorated since the judgment. That is the view of those who were parties or protagonists in the argument, and it was supported by some very responsible and eminent people called during the course of the proceedings before the Arbitrator.
One witness was Mr Fenbury, head of the Administration Department; he is a senior man. He stated that he thought insufficient attention had been paid to social and political aspects in the salary structure created by the Government in 1964. He rather eloquently expressed his warning for the future by saying: ‘The red lights are winking.’ That was his way of saying what was in store having regard to the dissatisfaction that existed. He said that he was despondent after 1964 when he saw how the new salary scales had been assessed. I believe that honourable senators will be interested in this. I want to choose one or two items, and they must necessarily be selective, to establish a prima facie case for my proposal.
One other matter struck me as significant in the evidence called on behalf of the applicants. Professor Parker, Professor of Political Science at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Australian National University, put the position in this way:
Spokesmen for the indigenous people hire regarded the 1964 salary determinations as an expression of racial discrimination towards the local people as a whole. This appears in fact to have been the outstanding political issue that has so far emerged in Papua and New Guinea - one that is likely to affect Australia’s relations with the political leaders of the Territory on every other matter of political importance.
Professor Peter Lawrence, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Queensland, gave evidence. He said:
The gap between rates for European and indigenous holders of the same position is potentially most dangerous.
In any multi-racial organisation, where members of one race are paid at a rate far lower than that of the other, they can hardly be expected to be satisfied with their lot. Their whole status as men is brought into question. They cannot easily have normal every day social dealings, the sort of thing we have striven for years to create in the Territory, with members of the other race.
He went on, and I think that these words should be heeded:
The most effective counter to subversion in countries such as the Territory is the creation of a sound, honest, responsible and efficient indigenous Public Service, which can maintain contact with, preserve representative institutions and ensure progress in the villages. The Territory must at all costs give priority to developing a Public Service of this type or run the risk of a politically unpredictable and potentially dangerous situation, which will be enhanced by a salary structure felt by local officers to be unduly low and inequitable.
They are sober words, and I suggest the Senate would do well to pay regard to them. The main issue before the Arbitrator, as it crystallised over many months and which was the subject of a great deal of evidence and invective during the course of the hearing, was whether the primary matter for consideration was the economic capacity of the Territory or whether salaries should be fixed in terms of an assessment of the realities of the political situation and the political development of Papua and New Guinea. As one reads the record of proceedings one can see that the position of the Administration changed somewhat during the course of the argument. The Administration’s final submission was that the economic approach by itself ignored the realities of the political situation and the political development of Papua and New Guinea and was one that therefore should be rejected. In the end that was the submission made by counsel on behalf of the Administration. The Arbitrator, notwithstanding the way the case for the Administration seemed to have shifted ground in the course of the argument, seems to have accepted the argument - and I invite the attention of honourable senators to this because it is a very important question - that any increases in the salaries of local officers must be at the expense of schools, hospitals and similar items of expenditure in the Territory Budget. At one stage the Arbitrator, in effect, said to one of the witnesses: ‘Which do you want, more schools or more money for yourself? Let me understand what you mean.’ He went on:
Do you suggest in relation to schools, then, that the Administration ought to slow up somewhat and put all the money that might have gone to the schools towards the raising of local officers salaries? Do you think that is more important? Is that what you say?
– What was the answer to that?
– I do not have the answer before me. He said:
So in your view the Administration should cut down on the rate of education in order that local officers can get higher salaries. Is that what you say? Do not build so many schools? Is that what you say?
That is an elaborate form of crossexamination, and I see Senator Wright looking with interest at the technique. I am not saying that critically of Senator Wright. I am noting his interest in the matter, because there is an obvious technique of interrogation in this.
– There is a very important principle in it. I intended to ask Senator Cohen on what basis he is submitting that this is evidence of error that should be corrected.
– I am not dealing at the moment with evidence of error. I am simply saying that the Arbitrator seems to have regarded that as the issue that he had to determine.
– Is that in his judgment? What does he say on that in his award?
– I will try to come to that before I conclude. If one reads the whole of the claim and then looks at what he awarded, one will see that the rates have moved practically not at all.
– The rates moved by approximately 10%.
– I do not think the increase was anything like 10%. I wish to put my argument. In putting it I will try to deal with Senator Wright’s problem. I am saying that the answer need not necessarily be any different from the ona that the Arbitrator gave, if we accept the premise upon which he proceeded. If we accept the view that we cannot do anything for a local officer who lives in conditions in which he cannot even afford to put beds, tables or chairs in his house or buy a pair of shoes, in which his wife can afford only $1.39 for a dress that has to last her for a whole year and in which a pair of shorts costs 89c and three pairs are expected to last him for a year, and if that is the level at which we believe it is proper to leave these people, it is easy enough to say that we cannot afford any more because we have to build schools and hospitals. That proceeds on the assumption that everything has to come out of the same cake and that we cannot proceed at any faster rate.
Let me put this proposition in answer to Senator Wright: If after hearing all of these considerations and hearing the whole debate about the future - where the Territory is going; what is a fair way of treating the indigenous public servant not only as a matter of economic justice to him but also having regard to his future and potential in the Territory - an experienced bench of three arbitrators such as the one which we suggest - Sir Richard Kirby and two other arbitrators nominated by him - and which could be constituted by the Government saying ‘Yes’, arrived at a conscious and deliberate decision that did not differ much from the present one, all that I can say is that I personally would deplore that situation but that is no argument that the matter should not be reviewed.
This issue is so important that it should not be left to the determination of one man in the Territory without appeal and without the advantage of the great sophistication and experience that can be brought to bear on these problems by such men as the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– I thought the honourable senator was trying to persuade us that the Arbitrator had misdirected himself in diverting himself from the fixation of wages and giving undue emphasis to schools and hospitals.
– I believe that the two questions that 1 quoted indicate pretty fairly what the altitude of the Arbitrator was. I have read a very strongly documented case. Admittedly it is a case on behalf of the officers’ association which was prepared and submitted to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) for consideration. I lo not know whether Senator Wright has had an opportunity to see that.
– I have been afforded an opportunity to see it.
– If that is not sufficient to persuade the reader that a prima facie case of a very narrow, circumscribed attitude is made out, I find it difficult to say what is. By ‘reader’ I mean any honourable senator here tonight who has had an opportunity to look at that case. The Arbitrator himself seemed to be very conscious of the importance of his decision. He realised that he was making social judgments in the matter. He said so in so many words. He said:
My task resolves Itself into an act of judgment in a social context as are all decisions in indus trial arbitration. In dealing with monetary rewards to be fixed for employment, decisions become social judgments in the widest sense, relating to human desires and aspirations on the one hand and economic realities and possibilities on the other. Arbitration decisions may set a pattern for the future and frequently do so by establishing new salary rates or working conditions. . . . The impact for the future my decision will be of great importance.
In my opinion it is clear that the issues involved were of such tremendous range and importance that they should not be determined finally by this one man, the Arbitrator. I am prepared to leave on one side the trenchant criticism of him by the Public Service Association and the resolution that it passed subsequently to the effect that he was no longer acceptable to the Association as the Public Service Arbitrator for the Territory. Their reaction to the decision was shared very widely in the Territory. The decision, for example, was criticised by church journals in the Territory.
A noted correspondent from the area, Mr David White, whose reports on the situation in Papua and New Guinea have been quoted in debates in the Senate on previous occasions, put the matter this way, as reported in the ‘Age’ on Friday, 26th May this year:
For all these public servants the effect of the 1964 decision- that was the previous one -
. was devastating. In my view it denied them sufficient incentive and, in many cases, failed to satisfy their basic need. Most importantly, it guaranteed the continuation of a ‘have’ and have not’ society and created ill feeling between expatriates and local people.
Three days after the judgment was given the ‘Age’ wrote a very trenchant editorial under the heading ‘White Man’s Justice’. I propose to quote from it because it seems to me that it puts very clearly not so much the reaction of the ‘Age’ to the decision as a fair description of what people who were directly affected by it were thinking and of what problems were raised for the future. It said:
The outcry by Papua-New Guinea public servants against the award granted them last week cannot be dismissed as just another example of workers’ dissatisfaction with the apparently meagre results of the tedious arbitration process. Far from being as simple as that, this first ‘basic wage’ case for the Territory’s native public servants is loaded with racial and political questions. The dismally low rates handed out by the Public Service
Arbitrator (Mr L. G. Matthews) will not make the answers to these questions any easier to find.
In 1964, at the instigation of the Commonwealth, the structure of the public service was changed. It was divided into indigenous and expatriate branches; pay for natives was set at much lower rates than those for men and women imported from Australia and elsewhere. The reasoning behind this division (which affected only wages, not promotion or seniority) was that Papua-New Guinea had to build up a public service it could afford as an independent nation, but without discouraging the white workers still needed to man some of its posts. A racial distinction was established that might have been avoided if common basic rates had been set, with special allowances for expatriates.
Despite some grumbling on this score, the need to pay whites considerably more than blacks was widely accepted in the Territory. The Public Service Association sought only to have pay for natives generously improved. Mr Matthews does not seem, at this distance, to have been generous; certainly he granted far less than the people on the spot expected from their maiden voyage with arbitration. The rates at the lowest level have probably done little more than take note of the increase in the cost of living since the case began 16 months ago . . .
No matter how reasonably Mr Matthews arrived at the pay rates, the immediate effect of his award is likely to be a suggestion to Papuans that white man’s justice does not work to the black man’s advantage . . . The people of Papua-New Guinea can hardly be blamed if dissatisfaction with the workings of an Australian institution imposed on their culture leads them to make premature demands for freedom from Australian authority.
I am not concerned to say whether or not those demands are premature. I am concerned to point out that this is a very hot issue in the Territory and this decision has been received with bitter disappointment.
– Will the honourable senator answer one question? Who pays the salaries of the white officers serving in the Territory?
– They come from the Administration’s budget - from the budget of the Territory.
– It comes from the taxpayers of Australia.
– I know that. We all understand that we are talking here about a responsibility that at this stage of history Australia has. But I think that the Government’s attitude on this matter is to be condemned. I think that the Government could easily take the heat out of this question by agreeing to have it referred to an independent tribunal. I am not saying that the answer in every respect is necessarily the one that the Association sought. I would not be standing here to prejudge that issue. But I am saying that everybody recognises how dismally low the rates set by the Arbitrator are. I suggest that a proper acceptance of the responsibility of the Australian Government demands in justice that this very reasonable request for a review of the decision be acceded to.
If these public servants in New Guinea were Australians in the Commonwealth Public Service, there is not the slightest doubt, in my opinion, that they would be able to appeal to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission from any similar decision of a Public Service Arbitrator. There is not a right of appeal in every case, but there is the right of appeal in any case in which the Commission, when the matter is referred to it, regards the matter as being of such importance that in the public interest an appeal should lie. It is the same in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on appeals under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The test of public importance applies. Who could say that on an issue like this the Commission would not say: ‘Obviously this is of far reaching public importance and an appeal must lie’? But just because these people are in the Territory there is no right of review. I think that this is the complete answer to anybody on the Government side who has a different view. I am prepared to leave that decision at this stage to a body of review which would have jurisdiction to entertain the appeal or the review.
– Who is going to pay?
– I am not going to prejudge the matter. I am not going to defend everything that the Arbitrator did as some honourable senators here appear to be ready to do. But I am saying that in my view the case for a proper review by men experienced in the jurisdiction is unanswerable.
This is the last thing I wish to say, Madam Acting Deputy President. The most convenient way of dealing with the matter is for Mr Matthews to refer the new application, which he has before him, for investigation and report to the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and two other persons to be nominated by the President and for the Governor-General - in effect that means the Government - to authorise the President of the Commission and two other persons nominated by the President to act in this connection. It is as simple as that. That is all that I am asking for.
I have taken advantage of the debate to inform honourable senators as well as I can in a limited compass that there are important and critical issues at stake here. These issues are much too important to be decided by one man who may or may not be right but whose decision has been received with complete dismay by the indigenous working people. I have given an indication of what was said by the experts who were called, including a very experienced and senior administration officer, Mr Fenbury, who said that the red lights were winking. These people were saying: ‘If you want to build up an efficient, loyal and a responsible public service for the future, you have to treat these people properly and you have to regard them as having a position of dignity and responsibility comparable as far as may be within the limits of the economic position with those expatriates who are working in the Territory also.*
– Can the honourable senator quote the views of any of the indigenous members of the population with whom we are dealing?
– I think that the Arbitrator had a number of them before him.
– I was referring to their views as to the outcome.
– Mr Lepani Watson is one of the indigenous under-secretaries. He was extremely trenchant. I think that he is regarded as a very moderate man among the representatives of the indigenous people. He is a member of the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly. He is an undersecretary. He carries his responsibility-
– And represents a large section of the indigenous people.
– That is so. As Senator Dittmer says, Mr Lepani Watson represents a large section of the indigenous people. It is always difficult to pick up references on the run, so to speak, but I can assure Senator Webster that within the last few days 1 have seen very strong statements from Mr
Lepani Watson, as well as by a representative of the Papua and New Guinea Workers Association and by a number of others in the House of Assembly. They are all of the view that this was a pretty raw deal for these native officers.
– Not all.
– Of course they are not all of this view. There are people up there who would defend anything. They would even defend a reduction in wages.
– Including indigenous people.
– They will defend anything. I have been up to the Territory. I know that the honourable senator who has just interjected has been up there more often that I have. But I have had the opportunity of looking around there. I have talked with some very responsible spokesmen for the indigenous people. They will not appreciate the kind of attitude being expressed in the Federal Parliament that is being expressed by interjections tonight. I do not appreciate the attitude of the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), but I am still hopeful that he will reconsider his refusal to accede to the request for a review.
I conclude by stressing again that nobody would wish to prejudge the result of any such review as we are asking for. But unless the suggested procedure is adopted - it is clear enough that it is an easy procedure - great harm will certainly flow, not only in the immediate dissatisfaction of these local officers who received a cruel rebuff in the Arbitrator’s decision but also in the long term disillusionment with the arbitration process. If honourable senators have any hope that the system that has been developed in Australia can become a permanent part of the system in Papua and New Guinea, they ought to give heed to this request. I hope also that the Minister will agree to it. I suggest that it is reasonable and that only conservative and intransigent opposition to reasonable increases in the workers’ conditions, which have been shocking in many ways in the Territory, could justify what is being done here.
I ask the Minister who is in charge of the Senate to act on this if he has the authority to do so. What I would like to see is the Senate express its opinion in support of this motion. I think that would be a great encouragement to those who seek a review and I think that it should act as an indication to the Government that this is the proper thing and the just thing to do in all the circumstances.
– I do not propose from my own mouth to make a debating speech in reply to what Senator Cohen has said, because the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) is in another place and he is the Minister responsible for the Territories. I should like to make it clear that I agree entirely with the attitude that the Minister for Territories has taken. He has done more than take an attitude, because he knew that this matter was coming on for debate in the Senate tonight and he has himself put down on paper his own views on the motion that is before us. I think it will be of advantage if I put to the Senate the views of the responsible Minister on the matter now before us. This I shall now do.
This motion seeks an expression of opinion by the Senate that there should be an appeal against the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator of Papua and New Guinea on salary rates for local officers of the Papua and New Guinea Public Service. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about this arbitration and the circumstances surrounding it and it is important that it be seen in its proper context. The Public Service of Papua and New Guinea was until 1964 limited to occupations and gradings similar to those of the Commonwealth Public Service. Its qualifications and salary rates were based on those of the Commonwealth Public Service, with additional allowances paid to expatriate officers, mainly Australians, who understandably enough could not be expected to serve in the Territory unless they were paid at Australian rates with additional allowances and conditions to attract them from their own country. Many Papuans and New Guineans were employed by the Territory Administration as what were termed Administration servants. They were not educationally qualified to enter the Public Service. Many were teachers, aid post orderlies, clerical assistants, drivers and tradesmen’s assistants. They were qualified to standards which were the best that could be achieved at the earlier stages of the Territory’s educational development. For example, many of the teachers had had only one year’s teacher training after completion of primary education.
The conditions of service of Administration servants were related to what were historically Territory employment conditions. In main urban centres they were paid a cash wage, supplemented in certain instances by food and clothing issues for their families. Elsewhere they were supplied with food and clothing for themselves and their families, if they were living with them, and paid a modest sum in cash in addition. There was established in 1964 an auxiliary division which was intended as a training division to help Papuans and New Guineans to qualify for the Public Service proper. The auxiliary division was paid at rates intermediate between Administration servants’ rates and Public Service rates. There were ako in 1964 Papuans and New Guineans who had achieved the requisite qualifications for the Public Service and these were receiving the Public Service rates, which were Australian rates. The numbers of Papuans and New Guineans in these categories on 31st August 1964 were: Administration servants, 7,966; auxiliary division - those who were being trained to qualify for the Public Service, 1,204; and the Public Service - those who had qualified for it - 189. In addition, there were about 1,000 trainees and apprentices.
Early in 1962 it had been realised that the arrangements for public employment in the Territory were becoming unsuited to the developing circumstances and it had been decided to change them to suit the Territory’s circumstances. All of the employment categories that I have mentioned were then brought within the Public Service, which consequently was radically changed in character, and the salary structure of this new service had to be set. One major decision was that everyone in it should be put on to a full cash wage. Another wis that the salaries of all levels should be fixed at rates which had regard to Territory circumstances rather than to continuing a translation of Australian rates. Australian rates were and are unavoidable for expatriates. These were suitable for the Public Service throughout the Territory and would have remained so if the Territory’s future was envisaged as being a dependency of Australia, with all of the skilled work being done by expatriates and without any attempt being made to advance the Papuans and New Guineans so that they could choose a future for themselves. Once the possibility of development of the Territory people and the provision of services and opportunities to all of them is envisaged, the application of Australian standards ceases to be the only and inevitable course to take.
Australia is providing increasing help to Papua and New Guinea. It will need to go on providing substantial help for as long as we can see but each new development multiplies the needs. To set developed Australian standards for all of the people at this stage would mean either confining the opportunities to a small section of the population or imposing such a burden of dependence that the development of a soundly based political structure built on a reasonable degree of financial self-reliance would be impossible. The local officers salary scales for the new Territory Public Service were set with these considerations in mind. At the upper levels which had been reached by the few the departure from Australian rates meant that the existing levels were reduced though, contrary to what may be believed by some, no individual had his actual salary as distinct from his expectations reduced. At the lower levels where the majority of the people were. Australian rates had never applied and there was no reduction. The then existing rates were in fact adopted as a basis and in most cases the new rates were higher than the old. In fact, the change added $2.4m a year to the Territory’s salary bill for the Public Service alone when h was introduced from September 1964.
The salary structure fixed in the way I have described was open to arbitration under Territory ordinance and the Public Service Association filed a claim in April 1965. It was not ready to proceed with the claim until October 1965, when the case began. The Association’s case took a year to present. One hundred and fourteen witnesses were called. During the course of the proceedings the Administration, in an effort to end the hearings which it judged to be unsettling and to be magnifying dissatisfaction, offered substantial adjustments to the salary scales including a new concept of family needs allowances as a settlement. Though these were not accepted by the Public Service Association as a settlement, they were implemented from July 1966 at a cost of an additional $400,000 a year to the Australian taxpayer. The Administration case took just over 2 months and the hearings concluded in February 1967. The transcript covers 3,700 pages. The Arbitrator gave his decision in May this year and the Governor-General formally decided on 13th June 1967 not to disallow the decision of the Arbitrator. That decision awarded further significant increases. At the highest level the rates approximate those claimed by the Association.
– But there was only one officer there.
– Was there, at the highest level?
– Is the honourable senator saying that nobody except one officer received approximately what was claimed?
– I believe that to be the position; at. the highest level.
– At the highest level. There may be only one officer concerned. Is there anyone else?
– Only one officer is affected.
– What I am interested to discover is whether the honourable senator is telling the Senate that there were no other officers to receive something approximating what the Association claimed.
– No, I am saying it applies at the highest level. There was, I understand, only one officer.
– There may be only one officer at the highest level and twentyfive at the next highest level.
– That is not where the dissatisfaction is.
– I am glad to hear the honourable senator say that. I ask the Senate to note that Senator Cohen tells us that there is no dissatisfaction at the highest level, it is at the lower levels.
– I said only one person is concerned.
– This dissatisfaction is where?
– At the base level and in the middle level.
– I hope the Senate will take note of that statement by Senator Cohen. At the highest level the rates approximate those claimed by the Association and the additional cost of the increases awarded by the Arbitrator is estimated at some $400,000 a year. At the lowest level - perhaps there are more than one at the lowest level - Public Service rates for an unmarried officer are 50% above the general urban cash wage and 100% above the rural cash wage.
We now have the Public Service Association pressing for the Arbitrator’s decision to be reviewed because it is dissatisfied with the result. The Association has made charges that the Arbitrator’s decision was not reached properly. These have already been refuted in the Parliament by the Minister for Territories. I refute them again. These salary rates on which we are talking have been subjected to an exhaustive examination by the process provided by the Territory law which applies.
There is criticism that the judgment has been made by one man. The initial judgment was made by the Government and the duly appointed Arbitrator reviewed the Government’s assessment. He is a man skilled in the processes of arbitration, and during his term of appointment and over the long period of this case he has become closely familiar with Territory conditions. Neither party to the arbitration complained before the decision about the provisions of the Territory ordinance that governed the proceedings. The Public Service Association apparently accepted them until the decision was announced. Determinations by a single arbitrator in important matters are not by any means unknown. This is the position in Western Australia and in Queensland where an appeal lies only in matters of law or jurisdiction. The Harvester award itself was the judgment of one man.
There is great danger in looking at this matter subjectively solely through Australian eyes. Looked at from Australian experience, the lowest salary levels do appear very low, but looked at in comparison with other developing countries - those with economies far less dependable than that of Papua and New Guinea - they appear high. Looked at in relation to the standard of living of the majority of the people of Papua and New Guinea they are high. These things are relative.
– Costs are high there too.
– What we are saying is that when you compare the Arbitrator’s award as to salaries for the New Guinea Public Service with the standard of living of the majority of the people of Papua and New Guinea it will be seen that the Arbitrator’s decision was designed to give a high reward to public servants as compared with the wages paid to people who are not public servants but are indigenous to Papua and New Guinea. These things are relative and they should be related to the circumstances of Papua and New Guinea, not of Australia.
Similarly, the question of appeals should be looked at in the Papua and New Guinea context. If the holding of an appeal were simply a matter of letting justice be seen to be done there would be little to be said in opposition to it. The lengthy proceedings already undertaken on this issue - I have pointed out that it took the Association a year to present its case and the Administration only 2 months subsequently to present its case - have had an adverse effect” in the Territory. Disputation accentuates dissatisfaction, and continued uncertainty encourages expectations.
The Government’s firm view is that the decision of the Arbitrator, reached by due process and under conditions not objected to in advance of the decision, should stand. Far from being encouraged in dissatisfaction, the local officers should be encouraged by every means possible to make the greatest contribution within their power to the growth in strength of their country so that progressively the standards now fixed, which are by no means ungenerous lor a developing country, can be raised from the soundly based expansion of the resources of the Territory which is where they should come from.
There is one thing further to be said. I have explained why the Senate should reject the motion on its merits. Apart from that, there is the question whether the Senate should in this matter, which is of great significance to the Territory and which relates solely to arrangements established by the ordinances of the Territory, take a firm position without any knowledge of or regard for views which the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea may hold. That House has been in session until recently, lt has now gone into recess. It is not a House composed of government appointees; it is a house composed of representatives elected by people in the various divisions in Papua and New Guinea.
This matter was not raised in that House for discussion, debate or disputation but there was plenty of opportunity for this if the representatives of the electors in Papua and New Guinea had felt that this was something of great significance to the people of the Territory, as distinct perhaps from the small number serving in the Public Service compared with the indigenous population. The matter was not raised. I do not put that forward as evidence that no-one was interested in it or that the House was not interested in it, but it was not raised although the House was the place where one would have expected it to he raised. Even if it had been raised it would not necessarily have had an overbearing effect on the Parliament of Australia. I am not suggesting that, but the matter was not raised.
I should like to refer to one other matter. In his speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted - I do not say he accepted or endorsed it - from a case prepared by the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea attacking the Arbitrator, suggesting that he had acted improperly and had clearly taken sides during the proceedings. If I remember rightly, the passage quoted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was that in which the Arbitrator asked a witness appearing before him: ‘Then you are saying that if more money is provided for Public Service salaries there will be less money available to be provided for schools. Is that what you say?’ I seem to remember thai that was what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted and that that was the basis of an attack upon the Arbitrator for taking sides.
– It is a very strong indication of an attitude.
– Would the honourable senator say that it is a very strong indication of an attitude, having regard to his knowledge and after having read the transcript? Or would he believe with me that it might well have been evidence of a desire by the Arbitrator to discover precisely what the witness before him was putting? I suggest that that in fact was what the Arbitrator was seeking to do.
– He was cross-examining a 34-year old-
– Was he crossexamining this man? The Arbitrator asked two questions. The principal attack on Mr Matthew’s conduct, as distinct from the reasons for his conduct - and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was attacking his conduct-
– I was attacking-
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was quoting an attack on his conduct. This appears at pages 32 to 35 of the memorandum of the Association. On the strength of two questions asked by the Arbitrator of a witness the Arbitrator is accused, in that part of the passage which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition quoted, of ‘embracing without proof a fundamental argument of one party and using it against a witness of the other. He has been accused of ‘taking over the cross examination’ of a witness and of impropriety. His approach has been described as ‘Objectionable and is sufficient ground for seeking his removal at that stage’; and there is reference to his ‘culpability*. 1 suggest that an attack of that kind, on the basis of two questions asked of a witness, is evidence of the misconceived and hysterical nature of the attack on the Arbitrator after his decision, although he had been accepted as a single arbitrator before the decision was given. 1 ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to read the Arbitrator’s questions as they appear in the transcript and as quoted in the memorandum. The honourable senator will see that the Arbitrator was expressing no view of his own but was frying to be sure that he understood the view of the witness. The witness, unlike the Public Service Association, had been prepared to assent to the proposition put to him, not by the Arbitrator but by the Administration’s counsel that if money is spent on salaries it is not available to be spent on something else. During the questioning by counsel the witness gave a long answer which ended up with these words: ‘When we try to put schools in every district in the one year that means all the money goes for that project and the salary for the local officer will not be enough’. It was then that the Arbitrator asked the questions quoted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, obviously, and quite properly, simply for the purpose of seeing whether he correctly interpreted the previous answers given by the witness. They were two questions asked to see whether he really understood what the witness was saying and to give the witness an opportunity to disagree. On this basis there has developed, firstly, an attack upon the Arbitrator himself, and, regrettably, a quotation has been made in this chamber which tends to support the attack upon the Arbitrator.
– What would be the purpose of asking a young officer his view on the philosophy of the matter or his view about priorities?
– May I suggest this to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition: He is a Queen’s Counsel and therefore it is presumed that he knows considerably more about the law than a mere layman like myself. But looking at this matter in a commonsense way instead of from the legal viewpoint, would it not be reasonable for the Arbitrator, having before him a witness who says something - not as a result of something that the Arbitrator said - which tends to be against the point of the Public Service Association, to try and make sure that he understood exactly what the witness was saying? Would it not be reasonable for him to ask a question which would give the witness a chance to consider the views he had presented before? I think that would be a reasonable thing for the Arbitrator to do, or for a judge or a magistrate to do, in cases of this kind.
That is all I wish to say to honourable senators at this time. I believe that we in Australia have to take a longer view than the short term view represented in these words: ‘Oh well, the Australian taxpayers can afford this. Let us dish it out. Hand it over to Papua and New Guinea and make sure that the public servants up there have a standard of living much higher than that of the normal indigenous population? We have a responsibility to ensure that this country, which is advancing to self government, will have a public service, and other services, which it will be able to afford when it attains self government. We have a responsibility to ensure that the country is able to pay for these services at a rate which compares with the normal standard of living of people who are not public servants in that Territory, just as we do in Australia. I can only ask the Senate to reject out of hand this motion submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– My remarks about this matter will be extremely brief. I want to make it clear that the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Gair) and I fully support the principle contained in the motion submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). I would have preferred, if it were possible - and I realise the difficulties - that the action proposed be of a positive nature. After all, this action merely consists of passing an expression of opinion. Whatever happens to this motion tonight, if a suggestion for positive action is taken at some later date the Democratic Labour Party will support the introduction of a right of appeal. We believe that if this right of appeal is available to trade unions in Australia it should be available to trade unions in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It ought to be available for this reason, if for no other: That at the present time the world spotlight is on our administration of that Territory. We should be most careful to give no grounds to anybody to suggest that there is discrimination in regard to trade unions in the Territories which docs not apply to trade unions within Australia.
– We will be criticised by some people no matter what we do.
– I do not think we should- worry about criticism so long as we do what is right. When this matter was brought to my notice by the organisation which represents the trade unions concerned I took action to inform my mind as to what exactly was involved. I have had a long interview with a very senior trade unionist who has been associated with this case. I discussed it not only with him but also with a friend who is the federal president of one of the largest unions in Australia. I was very impressed by the firm opinion that both men held: That justice demanded that there should bc a right of appeal. I do not want to canvass whether the Arbitrator’s decision was right or wrong. That is not the question we are debating tonight. As I understand it, what we are debating is whether the decision should be subject to review or appeal. In the discussion I did put forward one or two points that had been brought to my notice by the unionists concerned. One point I remember was the question of whether the Territory will be able to pay these salaries when it is independent. The answer I got was that the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) himself had made a remark to this effect: When they become independent, if ever’. If that meant that it might be 25, 50 or 100 years before independence was achieved it means that this form of discrimination will be long lived.
In these circumstances I thought that the argument had a serious flaw. I understand that the second point made - I think Senator Gorton referred to this - was that in the arbitration provision had been made for considerable increases. As was pointed out by Senator Cohen, the number of persons in the higher bracket who will be affected is extremely limited. That argument did not seem to me to be a particularly good one.
Senator Gair and I have discussed the matter. We believe the principles of trade unionism call for the right of appeal and that, even thought the Government may have strong views about the matter, our attitude should be not merely that justice should be done but that it should appear to be done. We support the principle that is involved and, if a vote is taken tonight, we are prepared to vote accordingly. Our views about the application of the gag are known, and that involves us in difficulties. When I spoke to a trade union leader about this matter I said: ‘I hope we will be consulted on the move that is adopted.’ We were informed about it, but not consulted. However we are not worried about that. We merely wish to say that we support the principle and that if positive action is taken, whether in the form of a private member’s bill or in some other form, we will definitely stand firm and support the principle.
– I rise to support the contention that has been advanced by Senator Gorton. I see some tremendous problems in this matter. First, I wonder whether it is a matter that we in the Senate can properly take cognisance of. I say that for the very good reason that over the years the House of Assembly in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea has been assuming increased legislative responsibility. The right of appeal has been raised by a couple of honourable senators opposite. I have had a look through Ordinance No. 76 of 1952 under which the Public Service Arbitrator operates. That ordinance does not provide for any right of appeal in the accepted sense, nor is any such right provided for in the amendments made in 1957, 1962 and 1965.
So we are forced back to considering the thought expressed by Senator Cohen. He argued that action should be taken under section 12 of the Ordinance. I propose to read section 12 in full and to explain to the Senate why I do not think it means what Senator Cohen claims it means. Section 12 provides: (1.) The Arbitrator may refer any application submitted to him under this Ordinance, or any matter arising out of the application, to a person authorised by the Governor-General in that behalf, for investigation and report, and may delegate to that person such of his powers (other than the power to arbitrate upon the application and this power of delegation) as he deems desirable. (2.) The Arbitrator may, on the report, and after hearing further evidence or argument, or both, or without hearing further evidence or argument, as he sees fit, decide the application.
I believe that the purpose of that provision is to refer to an outside person a specific item or inquiry. Let us assume that up in a distant valley there was a copper mine and the Arbitrator wanted some evidence or wanted the view of the mine owner for the purpose of considering an industrial matter. Under section 12 and with the approval of the Governor-General he could appoint a person to make an investigation and report to him. What Senator Cohen is submitting to the Senate is that the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and two others should be so appointed by a comparatively junior officer in the arbitration set-up. That is not contemplated by this section, as I read it. As I said, section 12 contemplates the appointment of a person to inquire into a specific matter and to report back. To suggest the appointment of a person such as Sir James Kirby and two others is to act upon a misreading of the section.
No right of appeal has been laid down by the House of Assembly in this legislation. Such a right has been suggested only since Mr Matthews gave his decision. Even if this were a matter which this Parliament could discuss and offer views upon, I do not think the Parliament has any power to act. The only parliament that can deal with the Public Service Arbitrator is the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea. As Senator Gorton pointed out, opportunity was afforded to bring the matter before that body but it was not availed of. Senator Gorton said that this matter had not been discussed in the House of Assembly, but what I think he meant was that it had not been brought forward separately. I have discovered some very interesting discussion upon it in the House of Assembly. I should like to take a little time to refer to three speeches that were delivered in the House of Assembly. One was made by a Mr Downs, who I understand is a planter and a businessman, one by a Mr Johnson who I understand is a senior Administration officer and an appointed member of the House of Assembly, and the third by a Mr Tei Abal, a New Guinean who I understand represents the Western Highlands. I understand the last named gentleman speaks pidgin English and is a comparatively well educated man for the district from which he comes. 1 think I would do well to read first the speech that was delivered by Mr Tei Abal in the House of Assembly on 6th June 1967. He said:
I wish to speak on what happened last Saturday when some public servants marched in the streets of Port Moresby and went to see the Administrator. I think these public servants are right In their grievances and I am sorry for them. I have heard that the Arbitrator has fixed a wage scale for public servants. The Government must consider this carefully. Those with wives and families in urban areas must receive an increase in their wages. A fixed scale is not right; there must be room for adjustment.
Money is very important. I would like more money and I know that many other people would like more money, but we must consider the economy of this country first. We must encourage corporations and companies to help us in Papua and New Guinea. I have been to Australia and seen that her economy is very much farther advanced than ours. I have spoken with Americans who have told me that when their country was being developed they lived in roughly constructed houses made of whatever native materials were available.
Both Australia and America are now developed and, in consequence, labourers in these countries receive good wages and salaries. When our country is developed to the same level as Australia we too will be entitled to higher wages. It is not good for us to ask Australia to give us more money. We cannot continue to do this; we must think about the development of our country and about increasing our rate of economic development. Many people do not understand clearly that we must develop our economy in order to receive higher wages.
With that speech by this indigenous member from the western highlands, Mr Tei Abal, we have an expression of the thought in that sector of the Parliament.
– He says they are right in their grievance.
– Yes, but he does stress the importance of developing the economy to the stage where it is a vital economy first.
– When was this debate?
– In June of this year. I stared earlier that I proposed to quote from three speeches. I have quoted one from an indigenous member. I quote now from the speech delivered by Mr Johnson, a man who was appointed by the Administration. He said:
I would also like to refer to the arbitrator’s decision in the local officers’ salaries case handed down on the 11th May this year. This decision comes into effect unless disallowed by the Governor-General. The arbitration proceedings, Mr Speaker, commenced in October, 1965, about six months after the Public Service Association filed the memorial with the Public Service Arbitrator and the hearing of evidence and submissions concluded some fifteen months later, in February, 1967. The Public Service Association’s case occupied almost fourteen months and included evidence from 114 witnesses. The Administration’s case occupied about two months and included evidence from six witnesses. 1 do not think anyone can deny Sir, that there was a very full and thorough examination of the issues in question and, in accordance with the Territory ordinance, it was conducted by the Arbitrator appointed under that ordinance who is completely independent, and again I feel quite sure that nobody in this House doubts the independent judgment of the Arbitrator in this issue.
During the course of the proceedings, as Mr Downs has pointed out, significant adjustments were made with effect from the 30th June 1966, in the local officer salary structure, including introduction of a system of special allowances to take care of the needs of married officers with and without children who occupied positions at the lower end of the salary structure, and to avoid any inequities caused by the higher cost of living in some places in the Territory than in others.
In relation to the actual changes in salaries, it ls the comparison between the rate now awarded by this recent decision and the salary position as it existed in 1964 that is relevant. At the four bench mark set by the Arbitrator in his decision this comparison shows firstly a nine per cent, increase at the minimum adult single rate, that is, from $440 to $480 a year. As Mr Downs has already pointed out, it should be borne in mind that this rate - $480 a year - is for the least skilled public servant, single, in his first year of employment. Secondly, the increases were 48 per cent, at the minimum of the tradesmen’s scale, that is, from $720 to $1,070. Thirdly, the increases were 93 per cent, at the minimum of the professional officers’ scale, that is $1,000 to $1,950. And the fourth bench mark shows an increase of 100 per cent, at the top Chief of Division level, that is, from $3,000 a year to a new rate of $6,075 a year.
Much evidence was produced during the arbitration proceedings about family needs and, I think, justly so. As mentioned earlier, the Administration introduced, as part of the adjustments implemented in July, 1966, a new system of allowances for meeting the needs of married officers with up to three children. These allowances reflect the varying living costs throughout the Territory.
The requirements of the married officer at the lower end of the salary structure have, therefore, been recognised. Members should bear in mind, Sir, that the effective minimum salary for the lowest paid public servant who is married with three children is not $480 a year. It is $930 a year if he lives in Port Moresby and more if he lives in some other areas. For instance, in Mendi his effective minimum salary is $980 a year and this point seems to have been lost in a great confusion of discussion about this issue.
The facts and figures which have been mentioned show a significant change in the whole salary structure since 1964. Since 1964 the cumulative cost of the conversion of former Administration servants, police and warders to a full cash wage, plus the adjustment to the public service salary structure in July, 1966, in the course of the arbitration proceedings and the extension of these adjustments to police and warders, plus the further increases now awarded in the Arbitrator’s decision, again including the extensions to police and warders, is more than $5 million a year. This cost, of course, relates only to the present actual number of local staff. The cost to the Territory in future years, as the number of local staff increases at all levels of the service, will therefore be very much higher than it would have been under the previous salary scale.
Thus, Sir, the facts show that the decision reached at the conclusion of the arbitration proceedings as compared with the position in 1964 is: Firstly, new recruits to the public service will have greatly enhanced prospects of salary advancement as they progress through the service; secondly, very many former officers who received cash increases in the 1964 reconstruction have had their positions further improved; thirdly, those who were serving officers in 1964 and in receipt of non-reduction allowances, can now look forward to getting salary increases very much earlier than was the case previously; and fourthly, the additional cost to the Territory of these changes has been substantial and will increase substantially in the future.
That is the Administration’s point of view as put to the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea. To complete the story, I should state the point of view of Mr Downs who is a planter and an elected member of the House of Assembly. From reading his speech, I would gather that Mr Downs is a fairly forthright person. He was rather upset by the way Mr Hawke, the advocate, organised the procession of protest. Mr Downs is reported on page 2362 of Hansard for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as having said:
I would like to remind Papuans and New Guineans that if they are going to increase wages - to escalate wages very much higher - they will have to take it out of their own Budget. We cannot have money for roads or bridges if we are going to have higher wages. We cannot have money for development which will give more employment if we are going to spend more on wages.
Do not stretch the patience of the Australian Government and the Australian people too far. Those of us who went with the Select Committee on Constitutional Development to Canberra last April 12 months obtained a very clear impression from the Commonwealth Government that in certain circumstances - that ii, if the people of this Territory really want their independence - they would be only too glad to) give it.
He then went on to say:
There was not the slightest suggestion by the Australian Government that it wanted to hang on to Papua and New Guinea.
Mr Downs counselled the honourable members of that House that the rises awarded by Mr Matthews were reasonable and suggested that the rises should be accepted because the viability of Papua and New Guinea was due to export revenue. He continued: . . and that is the private sector, particularly the primary producers, and the primary producers of this Territory earn this money on overseas markets. If wages go up we cannot add to the price of butter at Burns Philp, we cannot add to the cos! of a spade at Steamships and we cannot add to the price of sugar or meat in the New Guinea company. We sell our products overseas and if a situation arises where the wages that we pay get too high we will not be able to sell these products at all.
He gave some pretty sound advice to members of the House of Assembly in Papua and New Guinea. I therefore think that this matter does not really belong in the Senate for the expression of its opinion. I consider that the matter is one for the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea. Australia has encouraged that Parliament to exercise legislative powers over all these functions. It has done so. It has not put in its ordinances the right of appeal. I submit that the suggestions made by Senator Cohen with regard to the appointment of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and two other commissioners for a re-hearing of the matter do not hold water.
– What is wrong with giving the basic and ordinary right of appeal? The appeal court could give the same determination. What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with that.
– Why not give that right, which is just an ordinary human right?
– The proper authority to determine the right of appeal is the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. It has looked at the ordinance four times since it was passed. The Government has considered the ordinance in many other ways, but has never inserted the right of appeal. The right of appeal was not sought prior to or during the application, but only by the Public Service Association and Mr Hawke, an advocate, since the application. Therefore I believe that the matter is not a proper one for discussion by the Senate. However, seeing that the Labor Party has brought the matter on, the Senate is obliged to discuss it. ( would like to mention some finance figures relating to Papua and New Guinea to show the source of the country’s finances. As you know, Mr President, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, with its large mainland and outer islands, is located about 100 miles to the north of Australia. The indigenous people are for the most part primitive. However, some have become part of a small modern economy. Development has been guided and directed by European administrators, missionaries and residents who account for slightly more than 1 % of the population of just over two million. The people are being influenced by the winds of change. The Commonwealth of Australia is responsible to the United Nations for the Trust Territory of New Guinea to the north east of the island. The territory south of the Trust Territory of New Guinea, known as Papua, is part of the Australian Territories. Australia administers the areas together and has delegated most of the detail of administration to the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea, which body has passed the ordinance that the Senate is debating tonight.
With regard to revenue, exports bring in $18m, direct taxation $17m and licences $18m. The Commonwealth this year will make a grant of $77m and $8m will be raised by loan. Total receipts amount to $140m. That figure does not include expenditure by the Commonwealth Departments of Works, Civil Aviation, the Army, and so on. The revenue is SI 40m plus these other Commonwealth Government departmental amounts. The expenditure in salaries is $46m, other departmental expenditure $46m, capital works $24m, special appropriations $5m, maintenance $10m, and capital purchases 57m. Those figures exclude Commonwealth Government departmental expenditure and expenditure by Commonwealth instrumentalities. Out of receipts of $140m the Commonwealth grant is $77m cold. I suggest that honourable senators consider the statements made by one of the indigenous members of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. Incidentally he is a pidgin English speaker and a man of integrity and intelligence. Even though he thinks the salaries are a little low he says that more cannot be expected in the present state of development of the Territory. This comment is fortified by the report of the mission organised by the International bank for Reconstruction and Development, which was published a few years ago. Some very sensible statements are contained in it. In the chapter relating to the costs of government, at page 22, the following statement appears:
Probably the most important factor, however, has been the necessity to employ expatriates in government in the absence of qualified indigenes. The salaries and conditions of service of expatriate staff have had to be such as to attract people from Australia, where the standard of living is one of the highest in the world. In addition to salaries which are comparable with Australian levels, generous leave allowances, fares to and from Australia, grants for education and transport subsidies have had to be provided, as well as standards of housing and other amenities approximately comparable with those in Australia. In urban centres the Administration has laid out townships with spacious lots, paved roads, electricity, water, sanitation and other amenities, most of the costs of which have been borne by the Administration and which have been used largely by government employees, who constitute onethird of the non-indigenous work force.
On the question of the wages of indigenes, at page 27 of the report the mission said:
As the indigenes are normally qualified only for unskilled or semi-skilled work, their average earnings, related to local conditions and not affected by the competitive Australian labour market, are generally much below those of expatriates. In 1962-63 the average income of indigenous employees (including income paid in kind but excluding such benefits as free medical services and fares to and from the place of employment which are paid for by the employer) was estimated at $A320, while the average income of non-indigenous workers was $ A3, 600. The limited size of the cash economy is illustrated by the fact that, if income paid in kind is excluded, the average cash income for indigenous employees was much less, being approximately $A140. From the sale of cash crops, the average income was about $A30, assuming approximately a quarter of a million native producers of cash crops. These averages, however, mask wide differences. Many plantation workers receive a cash wage of less than $A40 a year, while several hundred skilled indigenes in business and government earn well over $ A 1,000 a year. Among producers of cash crops, differences are almost as striking. Many sell a little copra from which they earn just a few dollars. Others, such as the Tolai in the Gazelle Peninsula, who have had commercial contacts with Europeans for almost a century, have developed extensive coconut and cocoa plantations which yield annual returns to producers estimated to average JA200 to SA240. The majority of the native people have no cash income and depend for their livelihood on the production of the subsistence economy.
You can see from that, Mr President, that the general standard of wages away from the Administration is very low indeed. Consequently the Government, in order to preserve the economic viability of the community, has a responsibility to see that the wages of the civil servants are not inflated unduly and that in this transition stage the rest of the economy will remain viable. On the question of standards, at page 36 of the report the mission said:
The standards of Administration services and facilities should be related to Territory conditions, if the maximum numbers of people are to benefit from the money spent on the programme. Moreover, in the longer term it is vital that Territory standards, applying also to wage and salary levels, should be adopted if financial viability is to be achieved . . .
The Mission recognises that salary levels for expatriates in the Administration, as well as in business, have to be geared to Australian levels in order to secure the skilled personnel required. However, this should not set the pattern for the future. Salary levels in the public service should be set at levels in line with living standards and costs in the Territory. For the expatriate an additional allowance will be necessary. Also the standards of schools, hospitals and housing, and the level of services provided should, wherever possible, be related to Territory conditions.
On this point I was very interested to read recently a report of the Tripartite Mission on Labour Matters to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Mission consisted of Mr A. M. Simpson, a past President of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia and the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce; Mr A. L. Blake, Treasurer and a past President of the Australian Council of Employers Federations; Mr A. E. Monk, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions; Mr W. P. Evans, Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and General Secretary of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association; and Mr H. A. Bland, now Sir Harry Bland, the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service. I propose to quote from the unanimous report of this Tripartite Mission drawn from Australian employer organisations, the ACTU and the Department of Labour and National Service.
– What is the date of that report?
– It was made in 1960. These gentlemen went to Papua and New Guinea. The following very wise sayings appear on page 8 of the report:
If there was one problem that kept recurring during our discussions, it had to do with what wages policy was appropriate to the Territory. On the native side we were repeatedly confronted with assertions that the various wages scales applicable to the various sectors of the Administration could not be justified and were working injustices. That the rawest of native Third Division clerks should be receiving nearly £20 per week while experienced native plantation workers were receiving merely 25s. per month plus rations and accommodation was beyond the comprehension of natives with whom we talked and to us incapable of justification.
The fact is that the Territory’s permanent Public Service is classified on the same basis as the Commonwealth Public Service and therefore, in the broad, permanent officers receive the ante rate as would Commonwealth public servants in Australia doing the same class of work. In addition, the Australians in the Administration receive various types of allowances to compensate them for their service in the Territory. At the stage when the permanent Public Service consisted only of Australians, no harm resulted from this arrangement, but when the process of nativisation commenced the decision appears to have been taken that the natives should be paid the same rate of salary (i.e. the Australian Public Service rate) as the Australians but not, of course, the compensating allowances. This situation is the more complex because there is a different scale of rates for natives in what is known as the Auxiliary Division of the Public Service, another for those of mixed race and yet another for those who are known as Administration Servants. . . .
The problem of wages policy that faces the Territory is not novel: h has been faced in other countries progressing towards self government. The fact is that wages in the Territory must be related to the capacity of the Territory’s economy to sustain them- not Australia’s. While, at the moment, the Australian taxpayer is subsidising the Territory, at some stage it must be economically viable in a competitive world consisting basically of Asian, African and Latin American countries in the tropical belt. We have therefore to keep before us the future economic viability of the Territory.
We believe that, to start with, the whole wages policy bearing on the Territory’s Service should be examined. We do not pretend to have made any detailed study ourselves but there is room for feeling that present disparities between the various wage scales cannot be justified. We were repeatedly warned, and we believe, that the need for recasting the Service’s salary structure is urgent and that if attention were not given to this considerable unrest and ultimate harm to the Territory’s economy would result. It will be much easier to attend to this now than later when nativisation of the Public Service has proceeded some distance.
What seems to us to be necessary is that a new salary structure should be constructed for the entirety of the Administration’s Service- a structure that will be based on the ultimate nativisation of the Service and be within the capacity of the economy of the Territory.
– lt should take into consideration the conditions of the natives and their standards of living.
– Yes. The report continues:
So far as the expatriate Australian members of the Service are concerned, they should be paid the same rate as the native and in addition the difference between that rate and the rate they would be paid in the Commonwealth Public Service assuming they were in Australia doing the same work plus, of course, the compensatory allowances that are designed to attract Australians to the Territory Service and retain them pending nativisation
That is the report of these five gentlemen. Two of them are very prominent and respected members of the trade union movement, Mr Monk and Mr Evans. There was Mr Simpson from Adelaide, Mr Blake, the Treasurer and past President of the Australian Council of Employers Federation, and Sir Harry Bland.
– It is over 7 years ago.
– It is over 7 years ago, but I submit that these men in their wisdom made a very valuable report which was never disapproved to my knowledge in this Senate by anybody. 1 understand from my following of the matter that this has been acted upon by the Government.
I feel that there is not very much more that I can say other than to point out that Papua and New Guinea is a tremendous country awaiting development. The point that I want to stress is that the award of Mr Matthews did not reduce in any way anybody’s salary. The award of Mr Matthews may have the effect of slowing down the rate of progress of some for the time being. But, as I pointed out from the speech made by Mr Johnson in the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly, some groups received an increase of over 100%, others received a 50% increase and some groups received a rise of 9% or 10%. So, every group received an increase. That is the first point. The second point is that a number of subsidiary benefits were provided for wives and families. Surely this put the whole of the native civil service, if I may use that term, on a firm basis. The employees knew where they were going. Although this award made by Mr Matthews will cost some millions of dollars a year I believe that it has done good for the stability of the public service there.
Consequently, I think that it is just idle to say that this Parliament should suggest the use of section 12 of Ordinance 76 of 1952 as a sort of appeal. In the Ordinance there is no provision for an appeal. I think that it would be a misreading of the paragraph to say that the right of appellate jurisdiction is lurking in section 12 of Ordinance 76. As I read the section, there is no reference to appellate jurisdiction. The provision is there in case the Arbitrator wants some special information on some special matter. He can call for an investigation and a report with the authorisation of the Government. This, I consider, is not a proper matter for the authorisation of the Government,
Therefore, in the interests of Papua and New Guinea, a country that I have come to admire and in which I have taken a great interest, I say that the officers of the civil service will not be benefited if we go over the head of their House of Assembly. The Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly is a building and institution in which the people of the Territory take great pride. They do not want the Senate of the Australian Parliament to be interfering and giving interpretations, which I do not think hold water, regarding section 12 of Ordinance 76, one of the ordinances passed by that House of Assembly. The members are a proud group. If they had wanted to add to the Ordinance sections relating to appellate jurisdiction, they would have added them. They have not added them. No request has ever been made for them. Consequently I think that it is idle to take up the time of this Senate in the consideration of such a motion.
- Mr President, I rise to support the motion submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). Before proceeding to present my case, I wish to make brief reference to some of the statements made by the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) and by Senator Laught. The Minister, when he spoke early in this debate, referred to the cash wage which is supplemented in many instances by food, medical services and so on. But I think that we need to be realistic about these things and should make an analysis of the supplementation that goes with the cash award. When we do so, we find that in many instances it is insufficient to keep body and soul together.
The Minister went on to say that one of the reasons why some arbitration judgments have been given, on this occasion and in the past, is that the people concerned are unqualified. This is a very weak argument at this point of history in view of the fact that since 1949 this Government has had the opportunity to do something about the situation in Papua and New Guinea as it has had the opportunity to do something regarding the other Territories that come under the administration of the Commonwealth. The Government has failed to do this. The Government has to face up to its responsibility and realise that it is so far behind in doing what is required of it.
I was surprised by the speech that came from Senator Laught. He obviously set out on a stonewalling job to talk out time. He read his speech, which consisted of passages from a number of books. This is the first time I have ever seen Senator Laught do this. Usually he is a man of responsibility in this chamber. As the honourable senator proceeded laboriously to read passages from various magazines, Bills and other papers in front of him, I could imagine him sitting in a shady spot on a coconut plantation indulging in flights of imagination and perhaps reading news from other parts of the Territory. I could imagine his reaction as he read a headline regarding tribal fights somewhere in the highlands and saying to himself: “Tut, tut. Jolly terrible. What are we coming to at this stage in life?’ I could imagine the honourable senator turning to the financial pages and seeing that the price of cocoa and coffee had dropped. I could hear him say: ‘Jolly good idea; I am glad that they did not put the wages up much. I am glad it was a rise of only 20c a week. We now might be able to get out of it a bit provided We cut down on the food that we supply with the wages.’
– Ha, hal
– Senator Sim seems to have a well-developed sense of humour. But I suggest that he should return to his seat before he even laughs. May we look now at a suggestion that was made some time ago that we ought to enlist Papuans and New Guineans to fight in Vietnam. I could imagine Senator Laught approving of this suggestion provided the able bodied young men whom he would want to work for 80 hours or 90 hours a week on his plantation for a wage of about $3 per week were not sent. The honourable senator made reference to a document that was outmoded and to a judgment that had been given a long time ago. As a layman, he left me in a state of complete legal confusion. I do not think that he convinced himself, as somebody remarked at the time that he was speaking, let alone anybody else.
The honourable senator said that there had been some sorrow because public servants had not received salary increases. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) made a similar remark a few weeks ago because the pensioners did not receive an increase. The Treasurer was very sorry about it. But the fact that we are sorry about the disabilities suffered by others will not put food in their bellies. It will not see that they are properly clothed or housed. In fact, it will not do any of the things that we as individuals expect. Senator Laught said also that the civil servant wage could not be inflated. Members of the Opposition as well as members of the Government realise that there are problems associated with the internal economy of Papua and New Guinea, but we ought not to be running away from them. We should be facing up to them and gradually overcoming them. We can do this if we so desire.
The motion proposed by Senator Cohen reads:
That the Senate considers that in the interests of justice provision should be made to enable an appeal to be brought against the award No. 2 of 1967 made by L. G. Matthews, Esquire, and known as the Papua and New Guinea Local Officers Award.
In the first place, we should not have had to take up this case on behalf of the people who are concerned and who have suffered as a result of this judgment. Ordinary humane policies ought to have prevailed on this occasion so that we would not have had to do this. It may be that we should go further back to the judgment of 10th September 1964 which brought about many of the problems that we are facing today. This particular judgment decreed that, in effect, the wages of indigenous people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea would be reduced to 40% of the wage paid to expatriates engaged in comparable pro- fessions and callings. As a result, 2 days after the award was handed down there was a march - a very orderly march - of indigenous Territorians through the streets of Port Moresby. They went to a lot of trouble to see that it was an orderly march.
– lt could not have been organised by your show, obviously.
– The day 1 see Senator Webster marching in here in his jungle greens, singing ‘It’s a long, long way to Tipperary’, I will take some notice of him. Until that time I do not think he will have the brainpower to work anything out, except when he is getting extra money for his weevilly wheat that he sells to China. These people want to be friendly with Australia. They do not want to argue with this country. Whether independence comes in the immediate future or in the distant future they still want to maintain friendly relations with Australia and Australians. But this will not take place unless Australia plays its role and unless this Government is prepared to sack the present Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), who is making a hash of everything that he touches.
When judgment was given in the last case by Mr Matthews, the Public Service Arbitrator, on 11th May 1967, it gave rise to a lot of adverse criticism. I do not want to engage in any lengthy reading but there are a few points that we ought to look at in retrospect because they do bear upon the thinking of the people at that point of time. I should like to read first of all from the Hansard record of the debates of the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly on 7th June 1967. On that day Mr Pita Lus, who is an indigenous representative, said:
I wish to talk to you about something that has been worrying me. I saw the march of local public servants on Saturday and I have not heard any members rise in support of the Public Service. I think we must support the members of our Public Service. We must understand their problems and assist them. I have seen the houses of these public servants. Why is the accommodation of local officers of the Public Service not as good as the accommodation of overseas officers and other Europeans? Where does the money go that Australia sends to this country to assist us?
There are many people in Australia who want to know where the money goes. He went on:
I think local officers should be assisted further financially to improve their living conditions and their houses. Why is a distinction made? The people in Papua and New Guinea are the same as the people in Australia under their skin. Why can we not have the same sort of housing? This march surprised me and I am ashamed of the reasons that caused it.
May I say that this is one of the results of this particular blunder which is becoming more apparent day by day. We have not made these indigenous Territorians second class or third class citizens; we have relegated them to the status of fifth class citizens. This Government has done this because their skins are not as white as ours. Quite recently I talked to people associated with the university at Port Moresby and found that some of the early indigenous students coming there have high lOs and are passing their preliminary examinations at a better rate than are some of the European students who are undertaking courses at the university.
I should like to refer now to an extract from the ‘Age’ of 15th May 1967, which contains an article from David White in Port Moresby. I shall read only a paragraph or two of it. It refers to a newsletter distributed in the four Anglican churches in Port Moresby which describes the wages decision as a bitter disappointment. The article continues:
The politician, Mr Lepani Watson, said the decision could cause industrial trouble, a deterioration in race relations and resignations from the public service.
He also said that a country could not grow when human beings were dissatisfied. The article goes on to state:
This effect countered the Administration argument that wages must be related to the Territory’s economic capacity. The country, in fact, could have afforded higher salaries. Mr Watson said race relations had suffered because of the 1964 wage cuts and would become even worse now. ‘I think industrial unrest will come as a result of this decision,’ he said. The unrest will come first in the middle range of workers, and this will affect the workers In the lower ranges. This decision does not concern itself with the cost of living in the Territory. A lot of evidence given on the cost of living has been completely ignored.’
Mr Watson said the wages decision would give ammunition to the United Nations for criticism of Australia’s efforts in the Territory.
Some of the criticism that comes from the United Nations in relation to Australia’s handling of the administration of the Territory is justified. From a Port Moresby correspondent in the ‘Pacific Islands Monthly’ of June 1967 we have some very interesting details in relation to the application itself. He states:
The objectionable 88-page judgment was handed down by the Papua and New Guinea Public Service Arbitrator, Mr L. G. Matthews, on 11th May after a 16 months arbitration hearing. Mr Matthews said he had set five bench marks ranging between the top and bottom income groups. He had left the tasks of constructing a complete scale to the Administration.
The first bench mark was a minimum salary of from $480 to $600. The Public Service Association had applied for a minimum of $600 to $760. He set a bench mark of $1,070 (previously $930) for first class artisans, such are foremenstockman and dental mechanics. The Public Service Association sought a $1,250 minimum and $1,400 maximum.
For the group comprising professional graduates from Territory tertiary institutions, the judgment lifted the minimum salary from $1,700 to $1,930. This increase is about 14% of that sought by the Public Service Association. At the top end of the scale, for chiefs of a division and for the highest professional and education officers, a rise of $600 was granted. Only one New Guinea public servant, Fiji-trained Dr Reuben Taureka, is eligible for the maximum.
This fantastic judgment awards the maximum increase to only one Territorian out of 2,200,000. The article goes on to state that the increases represent about 75c a week - 7s 6d in the old currency - at the bottom of the service and $12 a week - £6 in the old currency - at the top. Most of the middle range received increases ranging from only $1 to $3 a week; in other words, from 10s to 30s in the old currency. The rates awarded were from 86% to 91% below those sought. Thousands of base rate public servants will not even get $40 rises because their salaries are frozen or because they receive allowances which place them at the top of the base grade range.
In the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 29th May 1967 David White had this to say:
The second ground on which Mr Matthews’ decision can be criticised is on the inadequacy of the salaries he has awarded. The figures he has set at the very top of the scale are satisfactory-
Remember, only one person was involved there - but below that they are not. By barely lifting the base wage and not changing the family needs allowance, Mr Matthews has in effect ruled that many public servants should not wear shoes. He has ruled that they should only pay 89c for a pair of shorts - three of which are expected to last a year. Their wives should pay only $1.39 for a dress. For these are. the figures on which the Administration assessed the family needs allowance and the base wage. And he has not explained how these salaries will meet nutritional needs.
Of course they will not meet nutritional needs; they will not meet housing needs; they will not meet education needs, in fact they will not meet any of the needs of normal human beings.
– Especially after they have been trained in Administration schools.
– That is right. When they trained in the schools they lived with people who enjoyed a higher standard of living. When they leave the schools they have to go back to the rates to which the Administration apparently thinks they are entitled. We should examine some aspects from the last available report of the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea which is that for 1965-66. I have not received the report for the year 1966-67. I do not know whether any other honourable senator has received it. Maybe we will get it next year. The Department of Territories is never in a hurry. The following statement appears on page 32 of the 1965-66 report:
Control of the Public Service in such matters as the creation and abolition of offices, changes in the classification, designations and duties of offices, the determination of salaries and allowances and the making of regulations and determinations under the Ordinance is exercised by the Minister of State for Territories. A Public Service Commissioner appointed by the GovernorGeneral is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Public Service, and for the specific duties of exercising a critical oversight of the activities of departments and their methods of conducting business; of devising means for effecting economies and promoting efficiency in management and working; of submitting reports and recommendations to the Minister on matters required to be dealt with by him; and of furnishing annually to the Minister a report on his activities as Commissioner and on the condition and efficiency of the Service.
The Service consists of three divisions - First, Second and Third - and the Third Division includes positions which are specifically intended to be filled by officers who were formally Administration Servants. The educational qualification for entry to the Second Division is the New South Wales Intermediate Certificate, or its equivalent. No general minimum educational qualification is required for the Third Division, entry requirements being related more directly to the technical skills or experience needed. Such formal education as is required depends upon the duties of the particular position.
Provision has been made under the Ordinance for a single line of positions each of which may be given one of two salary classifications depend ing on whether it is occupied by a local or overseas officer. Local officers are those to whom local terms and conditions apply. Provision exists for local officers to be given preference in promotion over overseas officers if they are capable of satisfactorily performing the duties required.
This relates to the reference by the Minister earlier to people who, he said, were not properly qualified to enter the higher salary ranges. The report goes on:
Under the terms and conditions of service of overseas officers specific provision is made for the engagement of overseas staff as contract officers. . . At 30th June 1966 there were 223 local officers and employees occupying positions in the Second Division of the Public Service; 7,222 permanent local officers occupied positions in the Third Division and there were 2,250 local employees in that Division.
Numbers of staff (classified according to the nature of their appointment) at 30th June 1965 and 30th June 1966 were as follows:
I point out that contract officers are overseas officers. That is the system of employment now. I point out also that the increase in staff is justified by the new method of employment in the circumstances I have mentioned.
I shall now deal with the differences between First, Second and Third Division permanent officers. The figures I have cited make very interesting reading. The total number of local officers employed in the First, Second and Third Divisions was 7,366. In terms of the total population of something over 2 million people this number represents only a fraction and obviously no-one would have gone bankrupt, least of all the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and the Government of Australia, had a living wage been paid.
After the 1964 judgment had been handed down the Administration said that the matter was not closed. In other words, the Public Service Association was invited to again take the matter to arbitration. There was 15 or 16 months of very hard work and we should remember that it was the public servants, together with some local people, who did all the hard work preparing this case. The Administration did not raise very strong opposition. In normal circumstances the Administration would have been fortunate in that the Arbitrator gave the people who guide this Government and the Administration of Papua and New Guinea such a satisfactory decision.
I should like to read from the brief prepared for the appeal against the judgment relating to local officers’ salaries. On page 3 is a very interesting paragraph. This is one of the attachments. It states:
Finally, it should be understood that this is not merely the memorandum of a party seeking to appeal against a decision in which it is disappointed. That is, of course, involved. But the issue is more fundamental. The concept of arbitration is at stake. It is nonsense to talk, in these circumstances, about ‘accepting the decision of the umpire’. It is inconceivable that in the Federal arbitration jurisdiction an issue of this magnitude would not have been heard by a reference bench of at least three members of the Commission.
This was referred to by Senator Cohen when he was presenting the case tonight on behalf of the Opposition:
Certainly, had it been heard by one man, the appeal procedures would have been open and would have been availed of.
The paragraph continues:
The single man entrusted with handling this case has proved inadequate to the task in terms of the requirements of the Ordinance under which he acts. Why this is so does not matter. It is not necessary to question whether the man acted in good conscience.’ That alone is not enough. No one should have anything to fear from having this matter heard again in the way it certainly would be heard in Australia. Everyone should have very much to fear if the concept of independent arbitration becomes a mockery in the eyes of the indigenous population of this Territory.
May I add, Mr President, that as a result of this judgment and the previous judgment, arbitration has become a mockery so far as the indigenous people are concerned. I know this because I have frequent correspondence with a number of reliable and intelligent people in the Territory and they continually complain about the manner in which and methods by which they have to earn their livelihood and about the fact that they are receiving inadequate wages. When something is paid to them in kind it also is inadequate. A further statement by the Public Service Association - and again this ought to be recorded for posterity - sets out in brief paragraphs the reasons why it is so aggrieved, shall we say, at the judgment. I refer to these resolutions which were passed by the Council of the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea on 18th May 1967. They are:
And this last resolution was referred to by Senator Cohen. It states:
It is in relation particularly to resolutions 4 and 7 that my Party is taking action. We want justice given to these people. We want to see that they get a living wage. We want to see that they live on standards that are expected for the maintenance of ordinary human decency. Consequently, we are arguing this case on behalf of the public servants in the Territory.
– Does the honourable senator have any calculations as to what they should get?
– I am not disposed to answer Senator Webster because he treats the Senate with contempt at any time. However, if he goes back to his own seat, I will answer his silly interjection this time. 1 want to quote now from a letter which was written as an appeal by the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea. I will read only one short paragraph:
Should it be suggested that in some way it would be improper for the matter to be re-opened, I would draw your attention to Section 11 (1) of the Arbitration (Public Service) Ordinance, which provides:
For the purposes of this Ordinance, the Arbitrator shall have power, in relation to any application submitted to him under this Ordinance -
to vary any decision or re-open any question;
The next portion of that section has no reference to this matter. The letter went on to state:
There is therefore no reason why Mr Matthews’ decision cannot be varied, nor why any question associated with it should not be re-opened.
I believe this is fair enough. But because of the depressed standard of wages that has been the order of the day in the Territory for a long time I think I should refer to the policy of the Australian Labor Party. This is what the Labor platform states:
Abolition of the native contract system, and its replacement by a system of conciliation and arbitration for laying down a proper standard of wages and working conditions. Every facility shall be provided for the organisation of strong trade unions.
In the very limited time left to me I want to make a reference to that policy. Some time ago I saw an item in the New Guinea Press and also the Australian Press about a postal servant in the Territory who had been charged with stealing a sum of about 10s, or a postal article. He appeared before a magistrate who fined him. I do not repeat the exact words used by the magistrate but this is the effect of them: ‘There is not much I can do about this case. Because of the very low wages you receive it is a shame that this has happened. But I will have to fine you in accordance with the terms of the law.’ At the time the postal clerk was receiving about $7 a week and with this he had to keep a home and a family.
Honourable senators receive more by way of their daily parliamentary allowance than many of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea are paid in a month and, in some cases, 3 months. But honourable senators on the Government side say that these people are paid enough to live on. They say that these people do not need any more; that this is their standard and they are Dot going to rise above it. They say that these people can live on $3 a week, or on $10 every quarter or whatever the case may be. I am speaking now about people living on the lower standards. But honourable senators opposite will continue to draw their $12 a day or, if they are junior or senior Ministers, twice as much. It is all right for Senator Webster to wear a great grin because he lives very well indeed. What about the people in another country who are starving while he is sitting here, fine and fat, with a hefty bank account, a good salary and all the things he needs to make life happy for him? I am ashamed of his attitude, as this is a very serious subject.
The price of land for home builders is beyond the range of the wages of indigenous employees. The people who work in primary and rural industries have no hope of ever building anything more than a humpy or of living in a communal settlement. The price of food and clothing is way above that which the average person can afford. Housing conditions have to be seen to be believed. It is true that in some instances the Administration is trying to do its best. I want to make it quite clear that I am not condemning the individuals associated with the Administration because some of them are very fine people and are doing the best possible job under very difficult circumstances. They are administering the law as humanely as possible. But I am criticising those at the top. I am criticising them and also the attitude of the Minister for Territories. I understand that the newly appointed Administrator has made a statement to the effect that public servants should not associate with political parties. Why should they not associate with political parties? Why should they not have the right to a public voice and to air their grievances and their disabilities? This is what they ought to be able to do. But this Government says that they shall have second class housing, second class medical treatment and second class schools. In other words, the Government wants to ensure that they , remain second class citizens.
– That is not true.
– It is true. This is the way the Government treats them. I am surprised at the interjection from Senator Prowse. He ought to be ashamed of himself.
Royal Australian Navy - Papua ami New Guinea Local Officers Award
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Earlier today Senator Turnbull asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy the following question without notice:
Did the Minister see a report in a daily newspaper that an admiral of the Australian Navy stated that alcohol was needed in times of stress?
Is the Minister aware that persons requiring alcohol in times of stress are not psychologically fit nor fit to command?
Would the Minister see that such persons mentioned by the admiral are not placed in command?
I disallowed the question pending consideration of its propriety. Senator Turnbull thereupon gave notice of the question. I find that the question is obviously based on a newspaper report of certain evidence given by a naval officer before the ‘Voyager’ Royal Commission.
In considering whether Senator Turnbull’s question should be allowed or not, I take note of a reference in May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’, Seventeenth edition, at page 353, namely that questions in the House of Commons have been ruled out of order if they dealt with matters referred to a royal commission. In the present case I think the subject matter of the question could be related to the terms of reference to the Voyager* Royal Commission and it would be better to avoid any likelihood of the proceedings being prejudiced in any way. In addition to the House of Commons rule, Senate standing order 99 provides that ques tions shall not contain arguments nor ask for an expression of opinion. On all tests Senator Turnbull’s question fails. Accordingly I disallow the question.
– I should like to say, Mr President, although not by way of canvassing what you have said, that having considered the matter I think the viewpoint which you have expressed and the ruling which you have given are correct. The question related to one of the terms of reference of the ‘Voyager’ Royal Commission. For the Senate to deal with something that was the very heart of the matters that were referred to the Royal Commission would be embarrassing to the Commission and would not be offset by any overriding public interest. There must always be open to the Houses of the Parliament the right to deal with, investigate and act upon matters even when they are the subject of inquiry by some judicial body or royal commission, but only when there is an overriding public interest. In this case no one could suggest that there was an overriding public interest. The Opposition generally and I personally agree completely with the ruling that you have given.
– I wish to refer briefly to a subject that has been exercising my mind in the last few minutes - that is, a practical way of ensuring that some kind of appeal can be granted from a decision of the Public Service Arbitrator of Papua and New Guinea to an appropriate authority. I have given some consideration to the suggestion made by Senator McManus that some concrete step in the form of a private member’s bill or something of that sort be taken. May I say, with the concurrence of Senator Gair and Senator McManus, that I think the Senate clearly would be right in granting such a right of appeal. This step commends itself to me personally and to my leader, Senator Murphy. I propose to give proper consideration to the matter and if possible to take this step.
- Senator Cohen is entitled to take such action as he thinks proper. Tonight he initiated a debate which involved principles of the highest importance. There are senators who wish to put before this House views as to the propriety of the Senate’s impinging upon matters that properly belong to the province of the representative, elected legislature of Papua and New Guinea. It is entirely a matter for the judgment of Senator Cohen as to whether we should use the time available to the Senate for a truncated debate on this matter. Real considerations must be borne in mind in embarking upon the procedure that he has suggested. In a postwar world in which colonialism and acute racialism would be abhorred by every responsible Australian, I should think that interference with arbitral proceedings would be entered upon by this House only after much consideration.
A decision has been made under an ordinance which expressly provides that the Public Service Arbitrator’s award shall not be appealed against. The Australian arbitration laws were studded with such provisions up till 1950. I should have thought that on this occasion honourable senators would have directed their minds to the spirit of the debate on the IPEC matter, when we deplored the idea that the Executive or the legislature should undermine a current court proceeding, and that the least that the Senate would do would be to allow a full debate upon the principles that I have referred to briefly. The Senate is afforded a great opportunity on Thursday nights to listen to speeches such as that made tonight by Senator Cohen, even though I am bound to say that it was characterised by a lack of preparation in regard to detail. We should use such opportunities for that purpose and not for dissemination of the inflammatory sort of stuff that we have heard tonight from Senator Keeffe.
I ask Senator Cohen, before he announces any decisive course of action, to consider these fundamental principles. It may be that we would be persuaded to accord to the freely elected legislature of Papua and New Guinea its proper authority and function and that if any amendment is to be made to the ordinance under which Mr Matthews exercised his jurisdiction it would be made by that legislature and not vis-a-vis New Guinea by this imperial legislature. We have conceded to the people of that Territory the right to elect their representatives and to pass legislation subject to the principles which in due course and in adequate detail, but with no desire to waste time, I shall develop. I have referred to these principles briefly in the hope that, before he enters upon a course of action which impinges upon what some people might think is the proper legislative authority of the elected parliament of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Senator Cohen will give adequate consideration to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 September 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670921_senate_26_s35/>.