26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Have any charges been made against Captain Clarence Rule who, last evening, was apprehended by military police at Essendon Airport? If so, what are the charges? Will the Minister make a statement explaining why it was necessary for the Captain to be separated from his wife and family immediately after he landed in Australia after 18 months separation from them through service in Vietnam?
– This matter was referred to in another place this morning and the Minister for the Army did make a statement there in connection with it. 1 do not have (hat statement at the present time. If it is the wish of the Senate, 1 will be prepared to make that statement when I receive a copy of it at a later hour of the day.
– I ask my question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate who represents the Treasurer. Is the Treasurer yet in a position to give any indication as to when the Government will be prepared to give an answer to representations that have been made by primary producer organisations for the provision of drought bonds as a means of producers overcoming the bad effects of drought and fluctuating incomes?
– Mr President, I will have to seek this information from the Treasurer. As 1 recall it, Senator Laucke made reference to this matter in his maiden speech when he moved the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by the Governor-General. The matter has been directed to the Department of the Treasury. As soon as I receive a reply from the Treasurer, I will see that it is circulated to the Senate.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. It follows a request that I made last Tuesday week through the Minister to the Postmaster-General seeking the deferment of a departmental decision to close the Sturt post office in South Australia. I ask the Minister whether she has received any information to indicate that the request is being considered. If she has not, will she seek an assurance from the PostmasterGeneral that this post office will not be closed at least until he has had the matter reviewed and a reply has been given to me?
– I have not received an answer to the question asked by the honourable senator. I will convey his comments to the PostmasterGeneral.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: Can he tell the Senate whether any consideration will be given to extending areas of duty exemption to local government bodies? In view of the increasing costs of local government and the extension of services and development involved, can the Minister assist by reviewing the present situation and by giving favourable consideration to widening exemption on such an item as diesel fuel?
– The question that the honourable senator asks relates to duties of customs and excise. As the honourable senator knows, the policy relating to tariffs is in the hands of my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry. However, bylaws under the Customs Tariff provide that goods for use by public utilities and corporations established under the laws of the States and not being conducted for private gain may be admitted at concessional rates of duty. Such concessions are of course subject to the criterion of whether suitable equivalent goods of Australian manufacture are reasonably available. As to the diesel fuel tax, the honourable senator will know that in 1957 it was introduced by the Government to bring road vehicles using diesel fuel into line with road vehicles using petrol. An excise tax of 10 1/2c a gallon was imposed on diesel fuel and recently it has been increased to 12$c a gallon. Any exemption granted to local authorities would have to be extended to State governmental and semi-govermental authorities. The suggested concession would reintroduce anomalies of the kind that the tax was designed to remove.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether the building of the sister ship to the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ is up to schedule? When will it be commissioned? Is any information available about the ship that was to be built to complement the ‘Bass Trader’?
– On 14th March 1968 1 said in reply to a question that [ would take up this matter with the Minister for Shipping and Transport in another place. I am taking that action, in the meantime 1 can say that whereas at present the building of the sister ship to the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ is not up to schedule, it is hoped that it will be delivered on time. Provided that it is delivered on time, I understand that it should be commissioned and running early next year. I have no information about the building of a sister ship to the ‘Bass Trader’.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. By way of preface I refer to the recent decision by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission involving Golden Fleece Petroleum Products which rejected a trade union application seeking to gain maximum protection for clerical employees whose employment is made redundant by the introduction of computers. I ask: What progress has the Committee on Automation Effects, sponsored by the Department of Labour and National Service, made as a prelude to legislation to combat this industrial trend?
– I understand that1 the case referred to by the honourable senator as involving Golden Fleece Petroleum Products is the case concerning H. C. Sleigh Ltd. The Arbitration Commission has indicated its desire that employers should give notice as far ahead as possible of any intention to restrict employment on the ground of automation. We would all hope that the greatest co-operation would exist between employers and employees in this respect. As to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, I am pleased to inform him that a special Technological Change Section has been established in the Department of Labour and National Service to examine the impact of automation on employment. The printing industry, the sugar cane industry and other aspects of industry, notably the introduction of work by numerically controlled machine tools and industrial control instrumentation systems, are all being actively considered. I think the honourable senator will share the view that the study is a matter of some complexity and that before any valuable results can be published a span of experience must be assessed. The Department is very much alive to the need to disseminate the results of its study and research to both branches of industry and that will be done as early as it has fruitful results to publish.
– -I direct my question to the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities. Some time ago the President of the United States indicated that restrictions would be placed on travel by citizens of the United States as a means of saving foreign exchange. As this is a matter of vital importance to the Australian tourist industry, can the Minister state whether the President’s plan has yet been implemented? Is there any chance that it will not be implemented?
– I made a brief reference to this subject last week in reply to a question. The President’s proposal to tax the outgoing tourist industry of America has been kept under close observation by this Government. The matter has been considered by the Committee of Ways and Means in the Congress. In fact, I noticed only this morning a reference in the Canberra Times’ to the effect that the most severe tax proposed - that which involved, I think, a 30% tax on the spending of American tourists above, I think, $30 a day - is unlikely to be accepted by Congress. There is some possibility that the other proposal of a 5% tax upon overseas shipping and air fares, and a reduction in the duty exemption allowances made to tourists when they return to America, will be implemented. 1 am glad to inform the Senate that the Committee that the President set up as a task force jointly representing the industry and the American Congress has already reported that a better way to get a balance on American tourism would be for the industry within the United States itself to adopt positive measures. I shall not elaborate upon them, although I think they would make the subject of an interesting study on some later occasion.
-r-In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer I refer to the reported statement made in Hobart yesterday by Sir Charles McGrath, Chairman of the Export Development Council, to the effect that Australia is facing its worst balance of payments deficit for 11 years, that by June our current account will be down by $ 1,050m and that the Government is relying on the inflow of capital to retrieve the situation. Is this most alarming statement true? If it is, what is the Government doing of itself to remedy a situation so gravely threatening the welfare of our economy?
– 1 too saw the comment. Quite clearly this is a question which should be directed to the Treasurer and for that reason I ask that it be placed on the notice paper. I do not agree with the observation by Senator McManus that this is an alarming situation. We are aware that Australia’s overseas balances problem has been quite a serious matter for many years and it is true that we look to overseas investment. I would not want to give it the emphasis or draw the inferences that have been suggested in the question - not with any improper intent - and the article in the Press. In truth. I believe that this is such an important question that if should be placed on the notice paper to enable the Treasurer t’o give a considered reply to it.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who also represents the Treasurer, whether he regards it as serious that in the financial year ended 30th June 1963 there was a deficit on current account of $469m, in the next year $53m, in the next year $777m, in the next year $877m, in the next year $743m, and in the next year well over $500m. How does he expect any country to keep on going when there is such a tremendous loss consistently on its balance on current account in trade in goods and services with other countries? Is it not time that there was a shake-up in the Department of Trade and Industry and the Government faced up to the serious position into which this country has been driven by the ineffectiveness of government departments, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry?
– Quite clearly the Leader of the Opposition is taking advantage of question time to engage in debate. Nobody could escape that clear message in what was presumed to be a question. As to the substance of the question in relation to balance on current account, as 1 said to Senator McManus I am sure the Treasurer would wish to give a considered reply to a genuine question. In relation to all of the figures cited so forcefully by the Leader of the Opposition, perhaps he could put his mind to trying to relate that proposition to the continued hostility that his Party has to overseas investment in Australia. Once that is done we find that the problems that we have as a young and expanding country would be made increasingly difficult if this investment were restricted.
– The Government is borrowing money to cover up the losses.
– This is a matter which the Senate will have an opportunity to debate on another occasion.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Is it correct that Australian students are being refused admission to the study of Asian languages at university level because of overcrowding or quota problems while overseas students are being admitted because they are more easily able to pass the aptitude tests which determine final admission? If this is so can the Minister take steps, without interfering with the autonomy of the universities or with the principle of accepting overseas students, to correct this anomaly?
– I am sure that the honourable senator will be the first to recognise that this is a question of a very general nature and in order to answer it I shall have to make specific references to no fewer than seven universities. I would be obliged if the honourable senator would give me notice of the question.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question in relation to a matter which was raised by my Tasmanian colleague, Senator Lillico, a short while ago with reference to the construction of a sister ship to the ‘Princess of Tasmania’. I note that Senator Scott read his reply to the question. Is Senator Scott’s reply to be taken as an answer to my question, addressed to him in similar terms and in connection with which he undertook to obtain for me an answer from the Minister for Shipping and Transport? If not, when am I to receive a reply to my question? Is this to be the roundabout way by which we may expect to obtain answers from Senator Scott in the future?
– On 14th March last the honourable senator asked a question of me in relation to shipping to Tasmania. A lot of queries were contained in the question that he asked, and specific answers were required. On Tuesday next I hope to be in a position to give the honourable senator the detailed answers that he wants. The question asked by Senator Lillico specifically related to a certain ship. Senator Devitt’s question was in relation to goods going to Tasmania. The Senate may rest assured that 1 will give fair and equitable answers to all honourable senators. I know that honourable senators from Tasmania, on both sides of the chamber, are always interested in the subject of Tasmanian shipping services.
– I ask the
Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities a question. In view of the commencement by the Snowy Mountains Authority of the termination of services of employees and the serious economic consequences of this action, coupled with the effects that the present drought will have on the south eastern portion of New South Wales, particularly the Cooma district, will the Minister consider sending officers of the Australian Tourist Commission to the area in order to see what might be done by them further to promote the tourist industry in the Cooma and Snowy Mountains areas, thus alleviating some of the serious economic difficulties confronting the district?
– My colleague, Senator Scott, who represents the Minister for National Development already has explained the position regarding the economic consequences. As to the tourist aspect, I am happy to be able to tell the honourable senator that the Australian Tourist Commission already has been asked to give specific attention to the value of the Snowy Mountains area from the point of view of a tourist feature. If the honourable senator will be good enough to give ear and eye to a television programme before the week is out, in which I will appear, he will see the Snowy Mountains area featured in that programme.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he will consider extending to all citrus growers in the River Murray communities financial assistance similar to that recently granted to soldier settlers for the conversion of water sprinkler systems to the low flow method.
– I will convey the request to the Minister for Primary. Industry.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Parliament whether the Government has listed as high priority an irrigation project in the Burdekin River watershed, as requested by the State Cabinet of Queensland in. June 1967?
– As I understand it, that is a question of policy which does not lend itself to an answer at question time, but I will seek some information. If any information is available I will convey it to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry whether the Government is doing anything of a practical nature to protect the Australian motor industry from foreign competition.
– In another place the Minister for Trade and Industry has engaged in considerable discussion of the problem that is emerging in relation to the importation from Japan of completely built vehicles. It has been indicated quite clearly by the Minister for Trade and Industry that the matters associated with this particular problem are under close examination by the Department of Trade and Industry. I would think that this is the answer to the question generally. There has been quite an amount of sideplay connected with this issue, but I know that the honourable senator is not concerned with that. He is concerned with the problem which has emerged in connection with this particular side of our trade relations with Japan. As soon as any further detailed information becomes available I shall make a statement in this place.
1 INTEI.LECTUAL PRO PE RTI.ES CONFERENCE
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as representative of the Prime Minister. Who appointed the Australian delegation to the Intellectual Properties Conference at Stockholm last July, and what are the names of the delegates? On whose authority did the delegation accept the Developing Countries Protocol to the Berne Convention? Is the Minister aware that if this protocol is ratified the income of Australian authors or artists will be decreased? Is it the intention of the Government to make up this loss?
– I have sought and obtained from the Prime Minister’s Department some information on this subject. As the information is rather extensive, I propose to treat this question as being on notice and will reply to it later in question time today.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Will the Minister for Social Services give consideration to dating from 30th June next any pension increases and any easing of the conditions of the means test for pensioners which may be included in the forthcoming Budget?
– The honourable senator’s question obviously relates to policy, but 1 can assure him that the matters he mentioned will be considered when the Government is framing the next Budget.
– I ask the Leader of the Government, in his capacity of representative of the Treasurer, whether it is a fact that a former Federal Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, following his resignation from the Parliament had as one of his many business interests the representation of certain Japanese mining enterprises in connection with the development of mining ventures in Western Australia.
– I do not know. I shall find out.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister tell the Parliament whether, as a result of Commonwealth intervention, persons and firms desirous of establishing a new fishing industry at Karumba in the Gulf of Carpentaria have had their applications rejected by the Queensland Government?
– This information is not in my possession. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain an answer.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government. Does he think that the announcement appearing in all the newspapers this morning, and made over all radio stations, that 500 troops are leaving for Vietnam, is In the best interests of the security of the Australian Army?
– At this time of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, our attitude of tolerance with relation to general statements about the movement of troops has never been questioned. Because of its very generality, I should think that the announcement to which the honourable senator refers is of no significance. Honourable senators can take it as axiomatic that if there were the slightest suggestion of danger to the security of our troops such an announcement would be clamped down upon immediately. Then we would be in the situation in which we were during the terrible years of the last World War when, of necessity, very tight security measures had to be taken. I do not regard this particular announcement as a risk to our security. As I say, it is a general statement and I do not think it would justify action being taken in relation to this matter.
– Last week I asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development a question concerning matters basic to the original decision to build the Chowilla Dam. I ask: Has the Minister a reply to this question?
– The answer is that the information and the decision are as yet not available. As soon as they are I will let the honourable senator have them.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question without notice. Does he not feel that, even if there were strict censorship of Press and radio in Australia about troop movements in relation to Vietnam, owing to the many people inside Australia who are inflaming the minds of others against the Australian campaign in that country, there are sufficient enemies of Australia within this country who would readily supply all information about troop movements to the enemy?
– The honourable senator suggests that there are people in Australia who would consciously betray this country in the circumstances in which it is placed at the present time. My own feelings about this are that very often people get worked up over political issues and that this interferes with their judgment and causes them to do things in respect of which they do not see the end result, or else they do not really think out the full implications of their actions. I would not want to make a general comment about people who would be so contemptible, so low. and so bereft of any integrity at all as to sacrifice the defence of their own country. For such people we must have the deepest contempt that it is possible for a human being to have.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Can he ascertain for me how many requests have been received from the various States for grants or subsidies for school libraries and how much has been paid out so far by way of such grants or subsidies?
– 1 shall be very pleased to obtain the information for the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it not a fact that most of the coast of Queensland is wide open to smugglers and the entry of illegal immigrants? Would the Minister tell the Senate, even roughly, just what facilities there are for the policing of that portion of the coast of Queensland by vessels and by aircraft? Is it true that facilities are completely inadequate for the proper policing of that area?
– The question whether the Department of Customs and Excise has any control over illegal immigrants entering Australia along the Queensland coast is a very interesting one. As the honourable senator knows, the Department has not facilities for patrolling the whole of the coast of northern Australia. Our experience shows us that not many illegal immigrants enter Australia - that we know of, of course. However I think we should look at the problem that the honourable senator has raised.
-I direct a question to you, Mr President. As I understand the position, the provision of facilities at Parliament House for persons outside the Parliament, such as members of the Press, is a matter for yourself and Mr Speaker. Grave allegations regarding the use of facilities have been made by the Deputy Prime Minister. My question is : Will you and Mr Speaker examine the allegations, and discuss them with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Newton and officers of the Press Gallery, and make a statement for the information of the Parliament?
– The position in relation to members of the Press Gallery is that it is largely their own responsibility to decide which people shall be admitted to the Gallery. There is a shortage of accommodation. The rule that has been accepted by the Speaker and me is that, unless we are called in to give a decision on who is. entitled to use the facilities, members of the Press Gallery themselves shall determine such questions. I will look into the matter and see what can be done about it. I will give the honourable senator an answer to his question.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by Senator Murphy and seeks specific information. I direct it to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has he any knowledge of wholesale smuggling being carried out on the Queensland coast, with goods being transferred from overseas vessels to land based small boats? If he has knowledge of this practice, will he advise what action is being taken to eliminate the illegal importation of goods and will he request the Government to station patrol boats on the Queensland coast for the purpose of preventing smuggling and for the protection of the Australian fishing industry?
– I have no knowledge of goods from overseas vessels being smuggled into the north of Australia. However, the honourable senator has raised an interesting point. I would like him to put his question on the notice paper so that I can obtain detailed information and answer his specific questions as soon as possible.
(Question No. 12)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
What are the numbers in the various ranks in the Army Special Investigation Branch?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The following numbers, by ranks, are employed within the Army on Provost Special Investigation Branch duties:
(Question No. 25)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 38)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Is action being contemplated to make the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund non-contributory?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer;
No. Among representations made some time ago by the High Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations on superannuation matters was a proposal for amendment of the Superannuation Act to provide to contributors an option not to lake up the Fund portion of future unit entitlements in certain limited circumstances. This particular proposal raises some complex issues which are being studied. However, there are no proposals under consideration that would basically change the contributory nature of the Commonwealth superannuation scheme.
(Question No. 45)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What is being done about the provision of suitable accommodation for the High Court of Australia and other Federal Courts in Sydney?
– In answer to the honourable senator, the Attorney-General has provided the following information:
The Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will be moving early next month into new premises in a building recently erected at the corner of King and Elizabeth Streets, Sydney. Space in this building, and in an adjoining building, is being obtained for the Trade Practices Tribunal. The Bankruptcy Court will continue to sit in Phillip House and court and chamber accommodation in that building being vacated by the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is being reserved for the new Commonwealth Superior Court.
Planning for the joint Commonwealth/State Law Courts Building is reaching an advanced stage and when that building is completed all the Courts mentioned will be housed in it. On present timetables, the joint Court Building is expected to be ready for occupation by 1973.
There are no plans to secure new premises for the High Court in Sydney. However, the development of plans with a view to the transfer of the principal seat of the High Court to Canberra have been announced. Provision is being made in the joint Commonwealth/State Law Courts Building for single Justice matters in the High Court that may be heard in Sydney.
(Question No. 61)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What progress has been made towards arriving at proposals for uniform draft amendments to the Companies Acts to protect the investing public?
– The AttorneyGeneral in answer to this question has forwarded this reply:
The question whether any and, if so, what amendments are necessary for this purpose is being considered by an advisory committee appointed by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. The advisory committee consists of Mr Justice Eggleston, Mr J. M. Rodd, C.B.E. and Mr P. C. E. Cox. In a progress report in February 1968, the advisory committee mentioned that it had received submissions from interested persons, and that it had requested and obtained further material. It is not yet possible to say how long the inquiry of the advisory committee will take.
(Question No. 71)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 85)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 99)
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers:
– I have now a reply to the following question asked at question time by Senator Turnbull:
Who appointed the Australian delegation to the Intellectual Properties Conference at Stockholm last July, and what arc the names of the delegates? On whose authority did the delegation acceptthe Developing Countries Protocol to the Berne Convention? Is the Minister awarethat if this Protocol is ratified the income of Australian authors or artists . will be decreased? Is it the intention of the Government to make up this loss?
The answer is as follows:
The delegates to the Intellectual Property Conference at Stockholm last July were appointed by the Government. The delegates were Mr K. P. Petersson, Commissioner of Patents, Mr L. J. Curtis, Senior Assistant Secretary, AttorneyGeneral’s Department, Mr A. C. Kind, Barrister, and Mr J. H. A. Hoyle, First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Stockholm. The attitude taken bythe delegation to the inclusion in the Berne Copyright Convention of the Protocol Regarding Developing Countries was in accordance with the instructions given to the delegation which maintained constant communication with Canberra during the course of the discussions on the Protocol.
The Protocol Regarding Developing Countries provides that a country which is regarded as a developing country in conformity with the practice of the General Assembly of the United Nations and which ratifies or accedes to the Stockholm Revision of the Berne Convention may do so subject to certain reservations. In general terms, the reservations entitle a country which takes advantage of them to impose certain limitations on the rights that are required to be granted to the owners of the copyright by the Convention. These limitations would meanthat in defined circumstances, or in respect of defined purposes, copyright material may be used withoutthe consent ofthe owner of the copyright subject to payment of compensation for the. use ofthat material. The extent to which a developing country avails itself of the right to provide for the compulsory use of copyright material is a matter for the domestic legislation of that country.
– byleave - I am releasing a Press statement in these terms later in the day and it is appropriate that I make the statement in this place now.
Three huge balloons will be launched at Mildura next month for a team of American scientists to study potential celestial gammaray sources. The balloons, as high as a 55-storey building, should reach altitudes between 120,000 and 135,000 feet. The four man team, from the Rice University of Houston, Texas, isled by Dr R. C. Haymes. All three balloons will be launched by my Department’s balloon launching unit at Mildura. This unit is also responsible for tracking the flights and recovering the payloads.
Dr Haymes said recently that certain celestial bodies could be detected only from the Southern Hemisphere. He added that discovery of the theoretically predicted gamma radiation from any of these bodies would go far towards clarifying their energy sources.
Debate resumed from 27 March (vide page 386), on motion by Senator Laucke:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
May it please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– It is not my intention to delay the Senate for much longer. However, I feel it necessary to continue the recitation of the details of the incident to which I was referring when the debate was adjourned last evening. I was telling the Senate of a man who was telling another man on a tram on which I was travelling that he had the best job he had ever had, as a carpenter employed in the construction of a dwelling for a tramway employee, because the boss was not much concerned about his coming to work at 9 o’clock in the morning and going off early so that, with few exceptions, he was home every afternoon at 4.30. At the risk of being told to mind my own business
I excused myself and said to the carpenter: Does it not occur to you, my friend, that your boss is not a good boss at all, that in fact he is an unscrupulous employer of labour who is permitting his employees to shortweight, as it were, the trammie who has to pay for the dwelling? You are not catching your boss; you are catching the unfortunate fellow worker whose responsibility it is to meet the cost of that house. You may depend upon it that your employer, the contractor, has covered himself to enable you and others to do this kind of thing’. Because of conditions like that it is important the Government should, in addition to being interested in facilitating home building for the people, exercise some scrutiny of the. building contractors. We should encourage the people to own their homes and as far as practicable the Government should arrange finance for them to do so, and see to it that they get value for their money.
Furthermore, we should be more concerned with the actual building of homes and the value of land, which is increasing almost daily. Unless land prices are kept within a reasonable limit it will be utterly impossible for working class people to own homes. They are being required to pay for land about 50% of the total cost of the house and land. Some unscrupulous builders who would have us believe that they are so interested in home building - they should be because they have a very great financial interest in it - merit some attention with regard to the materials that are going into homes and also the poor quality of cement work. I am reliably informed that these people take advantage of opportunities to pour their cement when there is no supervision by architects or anybody else, with the result that inferior work is going into many homes for which workers are being required to pay top prices. These things call for close attention by at least somebody at government level. Much could be said in this connection but I content myself with those few observations and hope that the Minister will give some consideration to this matter when money is being made available to building societies and others, in order to ensure that their workmanship or that of contractors whom they employ gives a fair go to the worker and makes it a bit easier for him to acquire a home at a reasonable price. I am afraid that the time has passed when he will be able to obtain a home at a reasonable figure because governments have run away from their responsibility to control land prices and building costs, but something might be done even at this late hour.
Now let me make brief reference to the Senate elections which took place since we adjourned in November last.
There was only one winner in the Senate election and that was the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
– ls the honourable senator complaining?
– No, not at all. Both the Australian Labor Party and the Government parties, of course and very naturally, were trying to obtain control of the Senate. Yet the DLP emerged with the balance of power and a 100% increase in its representation. That is what I call real success, which was made even more pleasant when one considers the meagre campaign funds available to us and the almost complete blackout of DLP policy in the Press, more particularly in the last weeks of the campaign. 1 interpreted the result of the Senate election as indicating three things; firstly, that the majority of the voters did not want to see the Senate made a rubber stamp by giving the Government parties a majority in the Senate; secondly, an equal majority of the voters did not want to see the Senate turned into a chamber of frustration by giving the ALP control; and thirdly, an increasing number of voters were satisfied with the role that the DLP had played in the Senate since 1965, our policy and the calibre of our candidates and those voters desired to reinforce the DLP representation and its hold on the balance of power. The last group to which I have referred were the thinking members of the community. They examined the pros and cons of Government control and ALP control and the preservation and reinforcement of the existing set-up, where neither major party had control of the Senate. I say to those people that the DLP can be relied upon not to misuse the position in which they have placed us and that we will continue to judge all parliamentary business on its merits and not solely on its origin, as does the ALP.
An additional lesson is contained in the Senate election result, and that is the need for the introduction of some form of proportional representation in elections for the House of Representatives. Failing an alteration of the existing electoral system, there is a reasonable chance of the DLP winning a seat in the House of Representatives at the 1969 general election.. I believe that the time is ripe for the Government to introduce some form of proportional representation in the House of Representatives. A party such as the DLP, which is winning quite considerable support, has no representation at all. Yet the Australian Country Party, which in the aggregate receives no more votes than the DLP, has quite healthy representation in the House of Representatives. The ALP makes great play of the discrepancy between the percentage of votes it obtains and the percentage of seats it wins, but no-one seems to care very much about the discrepancy between the quite reasonable percentage of votes obtained by the DLP and Us lack of representation in the House of Representatives. The enraged democrats now protesting over the South Australian election result and the discrepancy between ALP percentages and seats won, to my knowledge have never been worried about the position of the DLP and its unjust treatment under the present electoral system. We will not be convinced of the sincerity of such people until they offer words of support and sympathy for the DLP position.
After all we are a Federal Parliament and surely it is incumbent upon us first to clear up electoral injustices operating in the Federal sphere before we put our nose into the business of the States, ignoring for the moment the question of whether or not we have the right to tell the States what to do on electoral matters. The DLP will not allow the question of proportional representation to be ignored. It is a matter that will be referred to by me and my colleagues on every suitable occasion. Tt will be extremely relevant during the debate on electoral redistribution this year. We look forward to it. It is of no use saying: ‘Bad luck. It is a pity the DLP voters are spread so evenly throughout the country or a State.’ An injustice exists. That injustice should be remedied if we are entitled to call ourselves democrats in a democratic Parliament.
There are many other matters to which I would like to refer this morning, but I am conscious of the fact that other speakers desire to be heard before the debate ends. Therefore I conclude by taking this opportunity, which 1 inadvertently omitted to do last evening, to congratulate Senator Anderson on his promotion to Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 trust that his term of office will be successful and happy.
Senator TURNBULL (Tasmania) (12.7] - I would like to make a few comments today. I feel that the best way to start is to take my first reading from the Book of Ruth, chapter 1, verse 16.
– This is uncommon.
– Most uncommon for those who are unaware of the Bible, but as a leader in divinity at school I believe that I have some right to introduce such a theme. The Book of Ruth says: in treat me nol (o leave thee or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, 1 will go . . .
For so long and so often we have heard about ‘All the way with LBJ’. I thought the quotation about LBJ had perished when the new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made his first comment on Vietnam; a strong, purposeful and very clear statement. He said: ‘No more troops for Vietnam.’ I thought to myself: ‘Here is a man who knows what he is doing; here is a man to whom we can look as a leader. He will certainly get my support.’ The very next duy the image of this rugged individualist punned down, I am afraid, to disclose feet of clay. We find that the quotation about All the way with LBJ” has been modified. I cannot think of any better motto for the Prime Minister than: ‘Whither thou goest I will go too.’ We have heard that if the United States of America withdraws from Vietnam (he Australians will withdraw also. 1 would remind the Government of verse 17 of the Book of Ruth, which says:
Where thou diest, will I die . . .
– Does the honourable senator contend that the Government has biblical thoughts?
– The Government has no biblical credits. Nevertheless I stress that Ruth said:
Where thou diest, will 1 die.
When the President of the United States dies politically so too will this Government dic politically because our foreign policy is dictated solely by the presidential election in the United States. We have no foreign policy of our own. The appalling feature of this disgusting and degrading aspect of our foreign policy is that we have to persist in licking the boots of the United States. If a presidential election were not forthcoming there would be no hope of peace in Vietnam.
As all honourable senators know, I am totally opposed to the war, have always been so opposed and am equally opposed to Communism in Australia. If we accept the Prime Minister’s statement that we are going to leave Vietnam if and when the Americans leave, then I say: ‘Where are these people who told us that our role in Vietnam was one of stopping aggression? Where are the people who used to say that the purpose of our presence in Vietnam was to contain China?’
Where are the people today who, when we criticised them, shouted from the rooftops that the whole purpose of our sending troops to Vietnam was to contain Communism? Others brought in SEATO and ANZUS and said these were the reasons for our presence in Vietnam. All these reasons were that we must be in Vietnam to stop aggression, to prevent the spread of Communism and to contain China; but apparently all these reasons are to be negatived because America wants to withdraw. Have we no guts in our own country. If the members of the Government honestly believe that we are in Vietnam for the purposes for which they have said we are there, why do we not stay there? Why do they suddenly say: ‘There are no guns behind to help us, so we will forget our high principles, we could not care less whether Communism spreads, we could not care less if China expanded and we could not. care less if aggression won its way’.
– Surely we could not stop there alone.
– I do not think we should be there at all, but these people, including the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), have given these as reasons for our being in Vietnam. I am saying that these high-principled people suddenly have no principles. If they had, they would not withdraw from Vietnam. I repeat that the honourable senators on the Government side have no principles in connection with this war in Vietnam.
– Is the honourable senator referring to me?
– I am going to praise the Minister shortly, so I ask him not to glower at me. I am not referring to the Minister personally; I am talking about the Government. If he cannot take it when I say that the Government has no principles, then I ask him, for heavens sake, to try to develop a sense of humour.
– The honourable senator thinks they have no intelligence?
– Yes, 1 do- 1 know that the Government will seek any excuse to get out of Vietnam because most of the members on the Government side are intelligent and realise the absurdity of trying to assist in a civil war in Vietnam.
– But they are not offering valid reasons.
– Exactly. That is what I am saying. The reasons they gave for our being there are going by the board. The principal reason why Government members want us to get out is that they want to live in lotusland. They do not want to spend money on defence so they advocate that we do what the Americans want. They want to let the Americans do the fighting for us, and we will send over a few troops to support them.
– Is the honourable senator suggesting that a limit should be placed on what is spent on defence?
– No. I do not suggest that our expenditure on defence be limited.
– What is the honourable senator suggesting?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator will address the Chair.
– Certainly, Sir. 1 believe that we have never spent enough on defence in this country.
– Is the honourable senator suggesting that a limit should be placed on defence expenditure?
– No. I even go so far as to suggest that we should spend the equivalent of what the British and the
Americans spend. I think the British spend nearly 9% of their gross national product on defence and the Americans spend 11%. We are not prepared to spend that much. When I first entered the Senate 6 years ago, we were spending only 1% of our gross national product on defence. Then, gradually, after demands by the Australian Democratic Labor Party and after we had kept on fighting and arguing about it, the amount crept up to 2% and then 3%. It is now 5% if we include the future cost of the Fill aircraft. If we deduct that cost, the proportion of the gross national product we spend on defence would probably be about 4%. That is certainly an insufficient amount for a country that wants to live on its own, as we should be doing. I wholeheartedly support the defence policy of the DLP, which is that we should be selfsufficient, and I do not care what it would cost. If we think the country is worth defending, then we should defend it ourselves. We should not rely upon other people to defend it. We should not go licking boots and doing other things in order that we may live in lotusland: We should not be pandering to the electorate all the time in preference to spending money on defence, which does not bring in any votes at all. The Government says that we must concentrate on the development of our own resources, but at. the same time as it is saying this it is selling those resources to overseas interests.
Let me get back to the position in Vietnam. What worries me is that the American Secretary of State, Mr Dean Rusk, is coming out here. I am worried, because whenever he comes he is the harbinger of disaster. To my mind, ail that he is coming here for is to press us to send more troops to Vietnam. I hope that the new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who started off so firmly, will get some spine back into him and say: ‘Wc will not give you any more troops, as we do not believe in the whole process.’
Whilst dealing with Vietnam, I should like to mention something I have mentioned several times in the Senate. No credit is due to me for raising the matter. Full credit for this suggestion should go to Dr Alistair Brass, who has suggested that we should do something worthwhile in Vietnam, instead of going there maiming people as fast as we can, instead of bombing them day alter day. apparently to no avail. When they started bombing there 3 years ago we were told that 80% of the enemy’s oil had gone, and that all his communications from north to south were gone and no more troops and supplies would get in. All these lies were fed to us and we were so brainwashed that we believed them. I do not know how many people we are killing, but wc are certainly maiming far more than we arc killing, and Alistair Brass’s plea that we should have a full-time permanent hospital in Vietnam to treat the injured should be heeded. I have raised this matter in the Senate on two or three occasions and 1 have been knocked back each time by the Minister, who has said: ‘We are doing all that is necessary. We are sending medical teams and we are sending surgical teams which is worthwhile.’ The sending of medical and surgical teams is only a small temporary facet. With such teams there is no continuity. We cannot expect Australian doctors to volunteer, give up their practices and put in their whole time there. Most of them do volunteer to go, and those who go stay for 3 or 6 months. They do not go up there for very long. An occasional one might stay for a year. But all this counts as nothing, because all we are doing by it is helping the casualties. We could do something worth while for the people of Vietnam. We could build there a hospital that would be not only a place for treating the people whom we are treating now but a hospital that would be a lasting monument to our friendship for the South Vietnamese - although, in my opinion, by the time it is built, there will be only one Vietnam. But I do not care which way it goes. At least we would be helping the people who. with our assistance, are suffering. It is no use just sending surgical and medical teams up there, as these people cannot stay there long enough to learn the language, and one cannot help very much if one does not understand the language. So far as surgery is concerned, it is just pure anatomy, but in diagnosis one must have a full understanding of the people. Any physician in Australia will “know that to treat people effectively one must understand them fully. Unless one understands the Vietnamese language, one certainly cannot treat the Vietnamese people effectively. One must know what they are thinking.
– Could they not have interpreters?
– Of course they could have interpreters, but I have had! conversations through interpreters, and it is extremely difficult to get a great deal of benefit out of them in medical practice. They are all right for helping the doctor to learn the patient’s symptoms, but there is more to it than that. Most of the people who come to a doctor’s surgery for consultation are suffering, at least partly, from some psychosomatic trouble that they might find very difficult to explain and that the doctor might find very difficult to understand if he is dealing with the patient through an interpreter. To treat such people it is necessary for the doctor to have a full understanding of what is going on in the patient’s mind. So we should have people who stay in Vietnam for a sufficient time to enable them to learn the language. In building a hospital there we would not merely be building an edifice, we would be establishing a training school where we would be teaching Vietnamese to he doctors and nurses. This is something worth while which Dr Alistair Brass wants done and it is something which the Government is trying to rubbish all the time. It apparently does not matter how many millions of dollars we spend in killing people in Vietnam, but the Government is not prepared to spend $2m or $3m in trying to help the Vietnamese people. The Government has its pacification troops in the field but what good have they done? They are completely useless. This is a project that the Government could embark upon and which would be worth while. Everyone in Australia would be proud of it. But all we get from the Government is a brush off; it did not think of this project first and therefore it is not a good idea. If we keep plugging at the Government then perhaps in 2 or 3 years time it will come out with this project as an idea of its own. Honourable senators must excuse me if T keep thrashing this subject.
I want to mention a couple more international matters. The first is the nuclear nonproliferation pact. We have seen some comment in the Press suggesting that the Government is not going to sign this pact. I do not know whether I am on my own on this subject in this Chamber but I am all the way with the Government if it chooses not to sign it. I do not trust any of these other countries. Once the Government signs this proliferation pact then Australia comes under the protection of the United States of America, Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This would be a great help to us if ever there is war between any of those three powers! When speaking about aid for Australia I have said that I would not trust the Americans to come to our aid if they were involved in a war in Europe. I would not trust any country to guarantee a nuclear umbrella for us. I hope that the Government sticks firmly to its reported resolution that it will not sign the non-proliferation pact.
Far more attention should be given to nuclear power in Australia. 1 have said - anc! so has the Australian Democratic Labor Party - that Australia should build its own atomic bomb. Again, there are lots of people who disagree with us on this subject. Nevertheless I believe, and have always believed, that the best form of defence is attack. If we want to defend ourselves we have to be able to do so. It is no good saying: ‘Russia, America or Great Britain are going to help us with nuclear weapons if another country attacks us with nuclear weapons.’ That is no good at all because by the time those weapons could be provided it would be far too late for us. If those countries were prepared to come to our assistance it would still be far too late for us. I think the time has come when we should take really serious steps to increase our atomic knowledge in preparation for building our own atomic armaments.
– And have the world blown up quicker.
– That is true. I know the honourable senator’s point of view. I sympathise with it. I also think he has a very strong argument. It is only that I feel that if we are to be blown up then I would like to blow someone up as well. I want to be able to tell the other person that if he tries to blow me up then he is going to be blown up. I think that the greatest deterrent is the fact that if we have a nuclear weapon we can throw it back. Once we have this ability other countries would think twice before throwing these weapons at us.
– We might want a lot more hospitals then.
– I agree with the honourable senator. That is quite true.
– That would be very good for business.
– It is very good for business.
– How much of the Bible did the honourable senator read?
– I did not get to Revelations.
– The honourable senator read the passage about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
– Yes. I believe that the best deterrent to any attack on Australia would be our ability to reply. There is also the fact that this ability would increase our atomic knowledge.
– Nuclear power can be used for industrial development.
– I was just coming to that subject. In Tasmania we are in a peculiar position. We have spent some millions of dollars on hydro-electric systems but have found after all we cannot have hydro-electric power unless we have rain. It is not our fault that there is no rain but because of this there is little electricity in Tasmania.
– The people there should pray harder.
– The catch about praying harder is that one has to know what the weather will be like and pray at the appropriate time in order to get credit for bringing the rain. Nevertheless, I have always advocated, even when I was in the Tasmanian Parliament, that we should have an atomic power station. Today, because of the high cost of transportation of coal and other fuel, atomic power in some places is practically as cheap as, or even lower than, fuel power. But in Australia we go ahead with our usual old slow methods. In Tasmania, after knowing for years that we have al] our eggs in one basket, we still persist in doing this although we advocated that because of our coal industry we should have had a. fuel power station many years ago. But this idea was knocked on the head by the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, we could have atomic power. I think that the Commonwealth should have stepped in and said to the Tasmanian Government that if it was going to have a fuel power station at Bell Bay it should be an atomic station and that the Commonwealth would help. We need far more knowledge about atomic energy, especially in regard to industrial power. This was a grand opportunity lost because the Tasmanian Government did not have the ability to think along those lines. But the Federal Government should have done so. It should have said that this was an opportunity to set up an atomic power station which could become extremely successful and economical - at a cost equal, in many places, to the cost of fuel power. I regret very much that we have not done anything about this because knowledge of atomic weapons and atomic power go hand in hand.
I want to refer again to a matter about which I asked a question this morning of the Minister for Supply and Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson). I refer to the Intellectual Properties Conference at Stockholm. The Minister did reply but he did not give the answer to the sixty-four dollar question as to whether the Commonwealth would pay. Anyhow, I did not interpret his answer in that way. I was not too sure whether the Minister said that the developing countries themselves were going to pay the compensation. I do not think that authors, artists and writers in Australia are going to be too happy about this. For those honourable senators who are not aware of the position. Let me explain that it was agreed at this Conference that if the developing countries adhered to the convention then they could use the works of any author or artist without payment of royalties. Well, that is all right. It is a nice gesture to the developing countries and one I quite agree with, but not at the expense of the artists, authors, architects, photographers and musicians.
Why should those individuals virtually have to make a personal contribution to the developing country concerned? If the Commonwealth signs this convention then surely it is a matter for the Commonwealth to say: ‘Yes, we agree that developing countries should take part in our culture but we will make up the losses of the artists and authors.’ It is not fair and reasonable for the Commonwealth to do otherwise than to pay this compensation. We may just as well say that each member of this Parliament should contribute personally to assisting developing countries. In principle this is what the Commonwealth is asking authors and artists to do. It is asking them to take so much out of their salaries each year and hand the money over to a developing country. We would not do it but the Commonwealth would be saying that the authors and artists must do this. Fundamentally this is wrong. The Government should look into this matter and make sure that these people do not suffer.
It has been a long time since we heard anything about VIP aircraft. I do not propose to do much more about them except to keep an eye on them. However, I am going to ask some questions about them shortly, if we can get no assurances from the Government. When the matter of VIP aircraft was raised last time we asked that there be established some basis for their use and who would use them. But since then, now that the heat of battle has cooled, we find that they are being used a bit more. Can any honourable senator suggest to me why one of the most junior ministers is entitled to go from Sydney to Melbourne in a VIP plane in order to attend a civic reception to him as Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs? I have great admiration for the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth). I am glad he was appointed to the Ministry. I think he should have been appointed to it long ago. But I do not think he was entitled on this occasion to use a VIP aircraft. It would not matter if he had taken 6 days to do this trip. The amount of work he has to do would not interfere with the arrangement. I know the answer to my question. It is: You have to rationalise the matter and say: Oh well, I had to be back because I had to address the Liberal Party that night and therefore I had to use a VIP plane.’ It can be rationalised in that way. But in my book the Minister had no justification whatever for the use of a VIP aircraft. How much more of this sort of thing is going on?
– Did the Minister have any Aboriginals with him?
– I doubt it. I do not want to go into that. But I will raise the matter of VIP aircraft if I find that they are being misused again as they have been in the past.
Another matter that I raise is the usefulness of the Senate. As all honourable senators are aware, I used to believe - as- the Labor Party believes, incidentally - that the Senate should be abolished because in my opinion it is not a States House; it is a parties House.
– The honourable senator will get headlines out of that statement.
– I got them long ago. Senator Prowse does not read the newspapers.
– Senator Turnbull is flying in the face of public opinion.
– I will come to that. My opinion when I first entered Parliament was that the Senate should be abolished. My opinion did not change until the last 2 or 3 years during which there has been a change in the balance of power in this chamber and a little more interest has been taken in its actions. I began to feel that there must be some useful purpose that the Senate could serve if we could keep the numbers on each side equal. From time >to time there are defections from one side, although that is stopped by certain methods. Also, a new party has grown up in this chamber. So I believe that the Senate can play a useful part; but it is only a politically useful part.
Whereas 4 years ago if a referendum had been held on the abolition of the Senate I believe it would have been carried, today I doubt whether the Australian people would allow the Senate to be abolished. My reason for saying that is the events of the last 2 years. But that is only a political matter. The point that I am trying to make is this: Why cannot the Senate be more useful? Why cannot we have a select committee on the usefulness of the Senate? It was only last year that the Opposition started proposing select committees. A couple have been proposed by Government senators. The reason for Government senators proposing them is to prevent the select committees proposed by the Opposition being appointed.
Surely the American congressional system has some virtue. Surely we should be able to sit down and do something about the usefulness of the Senate. That should not rely just on the political aspect. It should not rely on the fact that at present the Senate has two Democratic Labor Party members and one independent member who, should they want to, can defeat a Bill if they join with the Opposition. That is not what the Senate is for. It should be a real and vital factor in the parliamentary life of Australia. I make these comments because it is up to members of the Government parties and the Opposition to try to get together and see whether committees can be appointed. I know that the Government probably will object to the appointment of committees. Australia is ruled by the Cabinet and not by the Parliament.
– Does the honourable senator support all of the motions on the notice paper seeking the appointment of select committee?
– No. That is not what I said. The fact that I support the appointment of select committees does not mean that I agree with the appointment of the select committees that have been proposed. That is a different proposition altogether. I am not interested so much in that as in the fact that the Senate should have a useful system. Some of the proposals for the appointment of select committees will never see the light of debate in this chamber because of the system under which we work.
– Is the honourable senator still in favour of the abolition of the Senate?
– No. I have changed my opinion in the last few years because I believe that the Senate is serving some useful purpose. I have changed my opinion even more so since 26th November last. I say in all seriousness that we should do something about this matter because we have gone a long way away from rule by the Parliament. The Parliament does not rule this country at all. The position is the same as in a dictatorship. The Prime Minister, if he is a strong man, says what he thinks. Under Sir Robert Menzies, because we had sycophants as Ministers, all members of the Cabinet supported the Prime Minister. Having got a proposal through the Cabinet, the Prime Minister took it to the party room. Anyone who wanted to be a Minister agreed with the Prime Minister. Anybody who did not do that did not become a Minister, did he? So in the end this meant virtually that what the Prime Minister or the Cabinet said became law. Because the Government parties had a majority in the party room and a majority in the lower House, the proposals of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet were agreed to.
We might as well abolish the Parliament. In fact, is not that’ what we are doing today? For how many days a year do we sit in this chamber? The number of days that we sat last year was the most we have ever sat. In every other year we sit for about 40 or 50 days; that is all. The business of the country is dealt with in 40 or 50 days each year. Again this year we will go along quietly, as we have for the last few weeks; then suddenly, at the end of the session, twenty Bills will have to be passed and we will be asked to sit here and pass them. Members of the Government can complain as bitterly as they like about having General Business on Tuesday night The solution of that problem was quite simple. It was that we sit longer. But the Government will not do that. Let me come back to my main thesis, which is that the time has come for the Senate to become, a useful House in the structure of the Parliament and not just a useful House in the political sense, as it is today. I put my views to the Senate and hope that something will happen.
I come now to the Ministers. I believe that the plethora of Ministers is a disgrace to Australia. We have three Ministers interested in defence in addition to a Minister for Defence and a Minister for Supply. So help me, Parkinson’s law should be printed in big black letters. I raised this matter even before I entered the Senate. My first fight about it was with the late Mr Townley, when I criticised him before. I stood for the Senate. At that time we certainly did not need a Minister for Air, a Minister for the Army and a Minister for the Navy. In those days - about 6 years ago - the Army had almost one Minister for one soldier. There was also one Minister for about every five naval captains. Some of us have been Ministers. One of us has even been a Premier of a State. He could handle the three Service portfolios and the defence portfolio without even blinking an eyelid.
I congratulate Senator Wright, although I may have taken a piece from him earlier today. When we have a man with intellectual capacity as a Minister it is a change from what we are used to in this chamber.
He can sit in the chamber as he does and do his work as well. When we have a general debate, surely it is the business of all Ministers to be in the chamber to hear what we say. I congratulate Senator Wright because he sits here most of the time. Perhaps he is on ministerial duty at the moment. I say that because of the absence of all the other Ministers. Whichever Minister is on ministerial duty, Senator Wright is in the chamber listening to the debate.
I do not ask Ministers to be here during debates on Bills that do not concern them. But during a general debate, such as this one and the Budget debate in which every department is concerned, every Minister should be in the chamber. Do not let anybody try to tell me that the junior Ministers from this chamber have to be outside it because they are overloaded with work. That is the most nonsensical statement that I have ever heard. Everyone knows that when the Parliament is sitting a Minister has far more work to do. But he should get up early and do his work or stay up late and do it. There is no excuse for Ministers being out of the chamber during a general debate - none whatever. Whilst I castigate the Senate Ministers as a whole, L congratulate the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Anderson. I believe that so far he has done a pretty good job after suddenly being thrust into his position.
But that does not detract from my point that we have far too many Ministers. Even the Government recognises that by having only twelve Ministers in the Cabinet. The other fourteen Ministers are just appendages to the Cabinet. I believe that as such they should be lopped off surgically. This country could be ruled with twelve Cabinet Ministers.
– Not by the present twelve.
– If they were people with intellectual capacity, it could be. Unfortunately in the past we have not had such people; we have had people who have been told: ‘My friends, come along with me’. People with intellectual capacity were never chosen as Ministers.
– Nor were people with a bit of experience.
– People with experience were never chosen because they might not have agreed with the lord and master. I believe that things have changed now. We all were disappointed that there were no changes. But let us consider the Minister for Health. In this field the Federal authorities do not have the total say; the State authorities have some say.
The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) sits in his little office. I do not know what he does because it cannot take long to do the work that he has to do. He hands out money and scholarships. No, I am wrong. He does not hand out scholarships because we will not allow him to do that. The Government never reintroduced that Bill after we rejected it. But these things are minor things. Some of the portfolios handled by our Ministers should be amalgamated. Health and Social Services are one obvious example. They could be handled by one Minister. The Defence portfolios could be combined into one portfolio. This would do away with the colossal cost to this nation of having all these extra Ministers.
It is not only the ministerial salary in which cost is involved. Upon appointment each Minister must immediately have 3 private secretaries. He must have a head of his department. He must then have all that goes with each department trying to build its importance higher than the importance of other departments. The integration of the Defence forces is a must in this country. I mention again, as I have mentioned before and as I will mention during the Budget debate this year, the absurdity of having an Army medical corps, a Navy medical corps and an Air Force medical corps. The poor stupid doctors would not be able to differentiate between Army, Navy and Air Force personnel unless those being examined were in uniform. So, they cannot strip them because if they did they would not know what examination to give them.
– Did the honourable senator say ‘the poor stupid doctors’?
– Yes. But the honourable senator should hear the rest of my remarks. I am being sarcastic. I will explain it to the honourable senator. This is one sector of our Defence forces which could well be integrated. It is time that we abolished these separate medical corps in our Defence forces.
I wish to make only one more criticism of Ministers. Poor Senator Laucke, who has been in the Senate for a short time only, got up today and complained because he did not get an answer to a question that he asked within one week after he asked it The poor man. He has not been here long enough to know that the shortest period that it takes for an answer to be given is usually 2 months.
– If at all.
– Yes. If Ministers can avoid answering a question they will do so. They will not even answer an honourable senator.
– Some of the questions that I have asked have never been answered.
– Well, what I try to do now is give my questions to the Minister concerned a day or two beforehand. That is the only way a senator can get an answer. By doing that, one gives the Minister time to obtain an answer. If an honourable senator puts a question on the notice paper he might as well say goodbye to it. He will probably not receive the information he seeks until the next parliamentary session. This is just absurd. In State parliaments the situation is different I know that in Tasmania and I believe also in Queensland if a member asks a question it is answered the following week. There is no reason why this should not be done here.
– In Queensland most questions are answered the day after they are asked.
– That is better still. One week is all right. But we are told that Federal Ministers have to go all over the country. Apparently they have not heard of telephones, and do not use them except when they want to speak to someone about betting. Let us give them a fortnight then. There is no reason why every question asked on a certain day should not be answered by a fortnight later. Some honourable senators must wait over 6 months before they receive an answer to their questions. When a member writes to a Minister, so help me, the Almighty has nothing on the attitude that that Minister adopts. I am still awaiting a reply from the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). I wrote to him in January and asked him whether I might have an answer to a question that I had raised because I wanted to do something concerning that matter in this Parliament. What impertinence it was for a backbencher to dare break into the sabbatical leave or holiday break of the Minister during the parliamentary recess to ask him for a reply to a question.
– Did the honourable senator put the postcode on the envelope?
– Yes, but I still have not received a reply. This is the sort of thing that goes on. This is typical of the egotism of these Ministers who have such inferiority complexes that when they are appointed Ministers they think that they sit next to God. This is the basis of their approach: ‘Why should we answer anyone? Why should we give any information? Why should we not sit on our backsides and just let the others stew?’ I am not the only one in this position. Other members of the Senate have written to Ministers and are still awaiting replies to their questions.
– Of what question directed to the Attorney-General does the honourable senator complain?
– It is not on the notice paper now. I wrote to the AttorneyGeneral about a matter concerning the Matrimonial Causes Act. I am waiting still for a reply from him. This does not concern the Minister for Works who represents the Attorney-General in the Senate.
I want to raise one final matter. I have taken the Australian Medical Association to task for not being prepared to take the lead in propaganda regarding drugs. I wish to mention something which has been raised in this Parliament and outside. This is the use of KH3. This is a useless drug. But propaganda has led some people to believe that this is a drug to restore youth. Everyone is supposed to be taking it. People are trying to get it. But the Australian Medical Association will not come out with a statement telling us the truth about this drug. To save myself being asked by honourable senators whether this drug will restore youth, let me tell the honourable senators that this drug will not help them one iota.
– Has the honourable senator an alternative?
– No. I have tried it myself.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– During the course of this debate the name of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has been mentioned by several speakers. I think all of us concede that he is a man of great capacity. The circumstances under which he was elected to the Prime ‘Ministership are unique in the history of Australian politics. As he said himself, his election and transformation was bewildering. But I have no doubt whatever that once he settles down - and it is only natural to think that he would take a time to settle down in his present capacity - probably he will be one of the greatest Prime Ministers this country has ever had.
Having said that, I should like to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. Senator Laucke, in particular, made some very good points. He referred to the bond system for drought relief, which is something that should be completely and thoroughly investigated. But what intrigued me more than anything else was his comment in regard to the small businessman. He referred to him as the salt of the earth. He said:
In South Australia, 55% of our factories employ fewer than five people, 23% employ more than five but not more than ten people, and 94% employ fewer than fifty people.
I take it they were the figures for South Australia. They would be about measurable, I should think, with the figures for the rest of the Commonwealth. I have heard them quoted in a different way, indicating that the great bulk of Australian employees are employed by small employers. That was surprising to me.
But the passing thought that goes through my mind is: Does not it make rubbish of the contention we have heard so often that the increased margins handed down by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission should be absorbed by the employer? Have not we heard that stated many times over the past few years? Of course, we know it is impossible for the employer to absorb them. Unless increased margins are accompanied by increased production and, more particularly, by marketable production, they are adding to the costs. They are loading up the burden against the primary producer and the exporter. That is at least one of the factors that makes it possible for the Japanese to override the vicious tariff wall of 45% and to capture 10% - they will probably capture more - of the Australian car market.
I was very interested in Senator Turnbull’s speech. I was interested in his castigation of the number of Ministers in this place and in another place. I wish that he was present in the chamber now. I do not want to canvass the proposition as to whether there are too many Ministers or too few Ministers. Probably there are ample Ministers. I am not interested in that aspect at all. What did interest me was the fact that for many years Senator Turnbull was a Minister in a government which for years had more Ministers than the South Australian Parliament although South Australia had two or three times the population of Tasmania. I am open to correction, but I think that the Tasmanian Parliament had eight fully fledged Ministers. Tasmania, in my day there, did away with the idea of having honorary Ministers.
But I believe that for many years the Tasmanian Parliament had more Ministers than the South Australian Parliament. Furthermore, any field that could be awkward to administer was put into the hands of a commission. I call to mind that at one time the Tasmanian Parliament had one fully fledged Minister in addition to a junior Minister to administer two different things both of which were in the hands of a commission. I suppose that the fully fledged Minister did exercise a shadowy authority over the department of which he was supposed to be in charge. But it ill becomes a former Minister of the Tasmanian Labor Government to come into this chamber and chide this Government with having too many Ministers and say that this, that and the other should be reformed, when the reformation that was obviously needed was not carried out in the Tasmanian Parliament. The number of Ministers, in addition to the fact that the most awkward fields were put into the hands of commissions, lead me to believe that State politics in my own State, to an extent have developed into a racket.
During the course of this debate we have heard a great deal of discussion about Vietnam. I admit that unfortunately this is an issue that is dividing the whole of the free world. I do not know whether it is true, as claimed, that the dissenters, the protesters, the banner-wavers or whatever you want to call them are more vociferous than their opponents - whether they make a noise which is out of all proportion to their numbers. Nevertheless, there is a division. I wish I could believe what is constantly being put up by the opponents of any participation in Vietnam. I qualify that and say I wish I could believe some of it; that there is not a threat to this country; that the domino theory is just so much tommy rot, that what we have been warned against will never come to pass. I wish I could believe that, but I cannot do so.
I am one of those people who has the innate conviction that if South Vietnam falls the appetite of international Communism will be so whetted that the whole of South East Asia will go and then there will be a real threat to this country. I would give anything if I could rid myself of this conviction.
– ‘Why does not the honourable senator base it on history or fact?
– I am basing it on history and on fact. The portents were clear prior to 1939 that the holocaust of 1939 to 1945 would take place. If men like Churchill had been heeded in the early 1930s perhaps that war never would have occurred.
– Churchill was called a warmonger.
– Yes. On reading this morning’s Press I noticed that my views are shared by Eisenhower. I think that Lee Kuan Yew has said something to the same effect, as has Sir Gerald Templer, the man who flushed the Communists out of Malaya. Is anybody really naive enough to believe that if the Communists achieve success in South Vietnam the aggressive tendencies of international Communism will stop, that they will call it a day and say: That is enough. We are not going any further’? Does anyone in his right mind really believe that? I do not.
– Students who have studied the position believe it.
– I have noticed that left wing politicians have a penchant for believing that the easiest and quickest way to deal with a threat is to refuse to acknowledge that it exists. Of course, the trouble is that it does not make any difference to the threat. It is still there. The principle is the same in respect of South East Asia. I ask honourable senators to cast their minds back to the awful 4 years of war from 1914 to- 1-918. I think it was Senator Tangney who said here yesterday that it was termed then- the war to end all wars. She may have been referring to World War II. People believed that there would be no more wars. They formed the League of Nations after World War I to make sure that for all time there would be no more wars. After World War II the United Nations was formed. The basic reason for its formation was an attempt by the nations of the world to prevent aggression. It seems to me that now, more than 20 years after World War II, some people have moved so far away from the principles underlying those organisations that they want to stand back and hurl stones at the power bearing the brunt of the efforts being made to prevent aggression in South Vietnam.
– They are the aggressors.
– They are not. It certainly is a clear cut case of aggression by Communists in an attempt to take over South Vietnam. A week ago in the Senate Senator Cavanagh appealed to the Government to make such representations as it could to remove the horror of the war in Vietnam. I believe that his convictions are sincerely held but I ask him to bear in mind that the basic weapon used by the Communists in South Vietnam is horror, accompanied by terror and murder. Sabotage was to be conducted through South Vietnam until that country could no longer be administered. In that condition it would be ripe for a Communist takeover. The basic weapon which makes the war in Vietnam unlike most other wars is the spread of horror throughout that country.
– Does that justify our indulging in the same horror?
– A certain amount of terror and horror must accompany any war. I do not go along with the people who throw up their hands in horror at the alleged atrocities of the United States troops and other allied troops but shut their eyes to and say nothing whatever about the awful atrocities being committed by the Vietcong. If the United States withdraws from South Vietnam because there is a stalemate or because its troops are not successful there, a Communist takeover of the rest of the free world will receive its greatest impetus since 1945. In saying that I do not believe I am exaggerating by one jot or tittle. We must remember that Communism is an ‘ism’, perfected in its tyranny, from which there seems to be no chance of resurrection.
Sir Gerald Templer has said that if the Americans pull out of Vietnam the Communists will take over all of South East Asia including Burma and India, right through to the Caspian Sea. I admit that it is the opinion of one man, but I believe it is supported by all the portents in South East Ask. Already the Communists are waging miniature guerilla wars in Burma, Malaysia and Thailand which, because they they are so small and are transcended by what is happening in Vietnam, are not attracting a lot of attention. But they can easily be fanned into greater proportions. If Sir Gerald Tempter’s predictions are correct, does anyone really believe that Australia will be left unmolested? I was intrigued by the following statement that he made
What distresses me is to see a problem, which is basically a world problem of the utmost importance, on which the whole future of the Far East depends, being apparently used today as a pawn in party politics. This is terrible.
When I read about a controversy ranging throughout the United States over the nomination of a candidate for the presidency I cannot help thinking that not so long ago one man said:
We are going to win in Vietnam. We will remain there until we do win.
He asserted that Hanoi’s guilt in Vietnam was clear. It was guilty of flagrant violation of its signed pledge at Geneva in 1954 and had launched on a course to destroy the Republic of Vietnam. He continued:
The American people will see Vietnam through these times of trouble to a period when the Vietnamese people will find a long-sought opportunity to develop their country in peace, dignity and freedom. The United States will do what is necessary to help.
– Who said that?
– The man who said that was Robert Kennedy, the man who on two occasions pledged publicly that in no circumstances would he be an opponent of Johnson for the Democratic nomination. That man has made so many statements and then turned completely on them. Now he can sense the discontent in the United States with the Administration’s Vietnam policy and he thinks that that is a good bandwagon to ride on into the Presidency.
– He does not need a bandwagon.
– That is all there is to it.
– He is on a good bandwagon, too.
– That remains to be seen. With all the sincerity within me I say: God help this country of ours’. Having made those remarks about Vietnam I shall now turn to our primary industries. I have said before - I know there are some who regard it with disbelief - that all is not well in the field of primary production. I saw a statement to that effect a week or so ago in a commentary by, I take it, a political commentator. He is not a primary producer and has no axe to grind in that direction. Taking a view of the whole Australian economy, this is what he said:
It is easy to look at the broad picture of the Australian farming scene and yet miss the vast area of poverty that it contains.
In the last financial year the volume of rural production stood at 70% above the 1950 level - a tremendous increase when the 17% decrease in the rural work force is taken into account
Fifty million more sheep, 8i million more acres under wheat, 3 million more tons of fertiliser being used every year, 200,000 more tractors in use - these should all point to increased prosperity.
Despite the drought, Australia’s total rural production last financial year reached a total of $3,700m. Taking out costs, Australia’s rural producers had a n:t farm income of at least $l,200m. Split up among the 250,000 rural holdings, this gives an average of $4,800 as the net income of each farmer in 1966-67.
That amount is not great when you take into consideration the money invested, the time and labour expended and many other aspects.
– Is that not the gross amount?
– No, the article says that the average income was $4,800 for each farmer. That is £2,400 in the old currency. Then the writer goes on to say:
But does this average give a true picture? According to the agricultural economists it gives a very imprecise picture.
They have discovered that there are wide variations from this average, as many individual farmers will be only too well aware.
Their estimates, based on all the available statistical data, put at least 80,000 or nearly onethird of all Australian farmers, into the ‘low income’ bracket. This they define as less than $2,000 a year. And, within that 80,000 there are an estimated 45,000 farms with an annual net income of less than $1,000.
Add to this depressing picture the effects of the drought and the continuing adverse trend in the prices of some of our major commodities, and the grey tones begin to occupy a much larger area of the farming picture.
I believe that story to be correct. As Senator Laucke pointed out, the primary producers in this country are continually harassed by rising costs and smaller margins. Nothing is more certain than that sooner or later, if the trends that exist today continue, there will be a climax in the field of primary production. I cannot get away from that fear. It is only a week since Roy Jenkins, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, when detailing Britain’s economic ills said that wages and salaries had got ahead of production. In Australia we are hastening in that direction as fast as we can go through, I believe, the agency of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission pressurised by trade union groups.
– The profiteers would not have anything to do with it, would they?
– That aspect is looked at by the Taxation Branch. The unfortunate position is that these continued increases, unless accompanied by increased production and increased national income, ultimately confer no benefit whatever upon anybody. In fact in the aggregate they do a tremendous amount of harm to the Australian economy. If the trend continues we will reach a very much worse position than exists in regard to the importation of Japanese cars. It will be difficult indeed to export anything at all at a profit. We should be mighty thankful that our mineral exports totalled $400m - I think that was the figure. They have helped in many ways to bridge the gap.
– Costs will catch up with them, too.
– I suppose costs will catch up with them, too. But we must have common sense and realise that the very basis of our prosperity hinges not on findings brought down by a judicial tribunal but on our own production and what we are able to get for it, in other words, how we are able to pay our own way in the world. We cannot divorce ourselves from this. If we were the only country on another planet and we did not have to trade with anyone else, we could bump prices up as high as we liked, adding nought after nought after nought. It would not matter much. But we have to live in the world and, as Jenkins said, a country has to base its prosperity on production. I have cited figures in regard to primary production. I believe - I am not parochial in this respect - that the position is more acute in my own State of Tasmania because holdings are so small and because of other factors. Maybe I am wrong in that contention, but in my State we are reaching the stage where farmers say: ‘Can you tell me anything that we can grow at a profit?’ One of my colleagues, by intejection, refers to peas. I do not know what effect devaluation in New Zealand has had upon canning peas, or whether a phasing out period faces the industry. I do know that so long as we keep bumping up costs there will be difficulty. 1 lay most of the blame at the door of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. If it does not recognise that its findings should be based on what the economy is able to pay and not on what industry is able to pay - if we build a high enough tariff wall industry can pay anything - our primary industries will eventually reach a condition of complete stagnation. On the north west coast of Tasmania - Senator O’Byrne should know it because he is down there at times - people are leaving their farms to work in government jobs such as the Savage River hydroelectricity project and some areas are becoming partly derelict. I have heard men say that these jobs are better than farming and that they cannot make as much on a farm. But it is an ill balance which, if spread over the whole of the Commonwealth, must have dire repercussions on the economy.
I rose to speak about these two matters. I believe that they are mighty important and that they will have to receive rapt attention. We as a people must realise that we can be prosperous as a community only by increasing production. The unscrupulous action of sabotaging the mail services of this country to press demands on a tribunal simply does not pay dividends and should not be allowed to happen. If the primary producers and other sections were so organised and so unscrupulous as to do that there might be a very different story to tell.
Senator DITTMER (Queensland) (2.52] - I, too, should like to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. We might look forward to very useful contributions by them if they were not tied to the ideology of their Party. I should like to congratulate former Senator Gorton on his selection for the highest elective office in the Commonwealth. It was unfortunate that he should go to this position under a cloud created by the evil genius, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), who elected not to say who should be Prime Minister but who was determined to say who would not be Prime Minister. Possibly in the future he will prove to be the wrecker of the coalition Government. He looks as if he is in a position now of antagonising Australia’s biggest customer overseas and the Japanese will not just take it quietly.
We did look forward to many things from the present Prime Minister because he is a man of ability - much more ability than his predecessor and much more typically Australian than his predecessor’s predecessor. So if he does follow through he could leave a large picture on the pages of Australian history, provided he is not hamstrung by his Party or bound by the Public Service. We did expect that he would select a Cabinet of much different calibre. I congratulate my friend of long standing, Senator Scott, on his elevation to the Ministry and I congratulate Senator Wright who, through ability if not through truculence, got there. I congratulate also Senator Anderson on being elevated to the position of Leader of the Government in the Senate. If I had been Prime Minister, I say with all due respect, I would have included Senator Cormack, who is now occupying the Chair, in the Ministry, so there is a difference of opinion between the Prime Minister and myself as to who should be in the Ministry.
I listened with interest to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech not because of the things that were included in it but more particularly to note the things that were omitted from it. The Prime Minister had an opportunity in the Address-in-Reply debate in the other place to rectify the omissions. The omissions are much more important than the inclusions. Just let us have a look at what was included. The Governor-General mentioned Vietnam and our continued association and alliance with the South Vietnamese Government and the United States Government. The Governor-General said that we will continue this alliance.
Over the years the Minister for Externa] Affairs (Mr Hasluck), as the representative of the Government, has not been honest with members of the Parliament or the people of Australia. The Minister has not given the true position. If the Government wants the people sincerely to support a war and have their hearts in it, it has to be honest and frank with the people. The Minister for External Affairs has not been entirely frank with the people of Australia or members of the Parliament. Only as recently as 5 months ago he said that we were winning the war. His most recent statement was that we are facing great difficulties. Anyone knows that we are not winning the war. Recent incidents convey that impression. Whether the war is unwinnable, as some have said, I do not know. Whether it is winnable, I do not know either. Many other people are like me in that respect. The Government’s representative, when he speaks in the Parliament, should be honest and frank and tell the people the actual position at that particular time, as his experts see it. The Minister has not been honest and has not conveyed the true facts to the people.
The Governor-General’s Speech referred to foreign aid. His Excellency said that $142m was to be provided, a certain proportion of which sum will be for Papua and New Guinea, which is Australia’s special responsibility. The GovernorGeneral spoke in terms of doubling the aid to Indonesia. That is to the credit of the Government, but it represents little more than ten cents for each individual in Indonesia. I hope that when the money comes to toe spent it will be provided in kind rather than in cash and that services and personnel will be provided. Indonesia needs services and personnel badly. Indonesia is in so much need, under the new regime, in order to stabilise itself. I would like to see a portion of the aid devoted to scholarshins for doctors, scientists and engineers.
In the islands of Indonesia today there is one doctor for every 45,000 people, an impossible situation. The latest medical textbooks are of 1958 vintage because Indonesia does not have the external credits to buy textbooks. The regime, militaristic as it may be, is attempting to do a job by eliminating corruption and stabilising the economy. We have a responsibility to help it. Whether the aid to be granted is enough, 1 do not know positively, but I do not believe it is since it will amount to only a little more than ten cents for each individual in the Indonesian islands.
The Governor-General also mentioned that there would be an investigation of medical and hospital benefit funds, but did not say whether the investigation would be a basic one. He did not say whether there was justification for the continuance of that particular type of help to the people of Australia. He did not say whether the Government was prepared to allocate more money, if necessary. I believe that the terms of the suggested investigation should have been more definite. The funds have not served the purpose for which they were intended originally. Irrespective of what Government supporters may say, when Sir Earle Page, who was then Minister for Health, introduced the scheme in 1953, the inference was that the contributor would have to face only 10% of the cost, whether of medical practitioner’s fees or of hospital expenses. In no particular year has this actually occurred. In practically every year the proportion has been divided almost equally between the funds, the Government and the contributor. Let us be quite clear and frank on the matter and tell the people what they are paying. They are paying the doctor directly, and they contribute to the fund. In other words they are paying twothirds and the Government is paying onethird. The inference to be drawn from the statement made by Sir Earle Page, as any reasonable person will agree, is that the people would not have to meet more than 10% of the costs, whether of hospital expenses or medical fees. This just has not happened. The examination promised will be a cursory one. It will not be a parliamentary investigation. We do not know the personnel who will conduct the investigation or whether it will be dominated by doctors or hospital personnel. A full investigation should be held, almost to the extent of a royal commission. The matter is a fundamental one. In Australia today, people are spending something over $900m a year for medical, hospital and ancillary services. That is the amount being spent by the people of Australia, whether in hospital or medical contribution funds, for patent medicines, under the pharmaceutical benefits formulary for ancillary services such as those given by a physiotherapist or a chiropractor, or on other forms of treatment. I say that a superficial approach has been made by the Government.
The Governor-General’s Speech referred to a proposed investigation of the superannuation rights of those employed in the public sector. People in the private sector have equal rights. It is only a matter of co-operation between the Federal Government and the State governments to establish superannuation rights. There is talk of a person in a branch of the Public Service such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation being able to transfer in full his superannuation rights between the Commonwealth and the States. The amount that the individual and the employer have contributed can be transferred. No mention was made of an investigation into the rights of people in private superannuation schemes, employed in the so-called private sector. These people have an equal right. Has anyone the legitimate, moral, legal or any other right to expect a person to work from the age of 15 to 65 years of age in the one job for the one employer? Such a person has a right to make a choice. I will agree that there is a measure of obligation to serve for a particular time with a particular employer, in order to learn the routine, but once that period has passed then the person concerned makes a contribution to the industry or the enterprise in which he is working. He is held, beyond the years that he may want to stop there, by a superannuation bond. If a chance of employment in another avenue came along, why should not a person aged 35 years have the right to walk out of the job that he has held for 20 years? I believe that 10 or 15 years should be sufficient. Why should not a person have the right to walk out with full rights to the - superannuation for which he has contributed and his employer has contributed, and with the interest that has accrued? Anyone who denied that that is a basic human right would not be reason able. When the Government is looking at superannuation rights in relation to employees in the public sector, it should attempt to co-operate with the various State governments to arrange for uniform legislation to provide for the transference of superannuation rights in full after a certain period of time. What period is agreed on is their business to determine, not mine, but I hope a fair period will be determined. Legislation throughout Australia could then be uniform and no-one, male or female, would be tied to a particular job from the age of 15 years to 65 years.
The Governor-General mentioned an investigation in relation to social services to provide for those most in need. That is long overdue. In some respects the Prime Minister has departed from the approach adopted by his predecessors. They were recalcitrant and were not interested in people who were being denied and who were paying through the nose for medical and hospital services. The promised investigation does hold some hope for the people.
I want to deal now with seme of the things that were omitted from the Governor-General’s Speech and about which no rectification was attempted in the other place by the Prime Minister or any of his senior Ministers. We find no mention of planning at all. There is not a business in Australia, big or small, which does not attempt to forecast its future or to plan and say what its future will be; what its programme in relation to performance will be; to estimate what its takings and profits will be in, say, 5 years time. The Government has not one idea of planning. Honourable senators should ask the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) what projects are visualised by his Department in 4 years time. The Department would have no idea at all. They can ask a similar question of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott). He is not present at the moment. He has left the chamber, after I complimented him, too. He is not here to tell me what the revenue of his Department will be in 5 years time. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) cannot tell me what payments will be made by his Department in 3 or 4 years time - however much the Government has already denied to returned service men and women. Does the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) know what his Department is likely to spend in 3 or 4 years time?
Running Australia is the only enterprise in the country that is not based on a plan, yet it is the biggest enterprise. How can this Government hope to carry on? It carries on from year to year. Not one firm in Australia, big or small, carries on business in this way. They all estimate their likely future, their likely costs and their likely revenue. Yet the Government says that it can carry on; that it does not need to plan. We of the Opposition disagree with this.
There was not one mention of development in the Governor-General’s Speech apart from one small paragraph about water conservation. The Governor-General, who is the mouthpiece for the Prime Minister, said that $50m was provided for this purpose and that it was to be spent over 5 years. The former Prime Minister committed $68m to the Nogoa scheme in Queensland and the Ord River scheme in Western Australia. That money has been committed so what was the use of mentioning it in the Speech? There was $20m devoted to the Nogoa Gap scheme and $48m for the Ord River scheme, a total of $68m, but that was committed before the last Senate election. Australia is the driest continent in the world but there was no suggestion that the sum for water conservation was to be increased or that there are in contemplation schemes other than the two mentioned by the former Prime Minister - the Nogoa Gap and the Ord River projects.
There has not been a word from the Prime Minister, who was the former and the first Minister for Education and Science, about education except for a little paragraph about education in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. I suppose that no field - development, defence or any other - is more important in this world today than is education because the standard of living of any country in the future will depend on the standard of education of its people. This standard of education has to be conferred on the young. A former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, to his credit - and I paid tribute to him on many occasions for this - did take an interest in university education when the universities were facing an impasse. Subsequently the Government took a measure of interest in secondary and technical education; but never has it taken an interest in primary education, which is the most important of all. It is the foundation on which the whole edifice of education is built. Educational experts throughout the world consider that the period of greatest learning is the time from the age of 5 to 9 years. We, as a Federal Government, are doing nothing at all about this. Yet the State governments are screaming that they have not got enough money for primary education. What do we find when we survey this particular field? We find an insufficient number of trained teachers, insufficient and inadequate accommodation, and classes which are too large.
England, despite the difficult period through which she is passing, is today showing the rest of the world an interesting phase in primary education. She has entered an era of adventure in education. It is exciting and the children are excited. She is embarking on experiments but the Federal Government is doing absolutely nothing and the States cannot afford to do anything other than meet immediate needs - and the States are doing so inadequately. Why cannot the Federal Government enter the field of primary education? We have the revenue, the purse strings are held by the Government, but nothing is being done about this.
We hear a lot about the turbulence of youth and the rebellious spirit of university students and teenagers. I have a great admiration for youth. I think youth is knowledgeable; I think it is great. The only people who have failed are the elders; they have failed the youth of Australia. The Government is not conducting an inquiry as to how to curb or guide this rebellious spirit. The young people are anxious to do something yet nothing is being done to guide them. All that is said by the elders is that youth will be controlled by law. This will not control young people because a rebellious spirit is rampant throughout the world. It is not peculiar to Australia; it is apparent in the United States of America, in West Germany - in fact, all over the world. These are young people who are excited and excitable. They are absorbed in knowledge and are anxious to do things^ They are not accepting the discipline of their elders because their elders have not shown the ability to guide them. The elders have not given an example. What do we do in Australia? Australians spend $3 00m on tobacco and cigarettes, S600m on alcohol and over $ 1,500m on legal and illegal gambling. Unfortunately, these are the things that young people see. Yet people ask how to control our youth. I think the Government has a responsibility to learn how to guide young people and to prove to them that virtue and discipline have a useful contribution to make to a satisfying life. Yet the Government does nothing about this at all. No government, State or Fderal, is interested. Governments are only interested in controlling these people - not in guiding them. I appeal to the Government to look at this field of human endeavour which, I believe, if guided, can make a useful and worthwhile contribution to improve conditions not only for the young but for this country.
I want to deal with one particular phase of education which I think is particularly important and which relates to the Sleigh companies. Anything from 123 to 400 clerks will be out of work within the next few days because of the introduction of the computer system. Many of the universities of Australia have no chairs of computer engineering or science. The Government has no body investigating the effects of computers - if it has, it has not told the people or this Parliament - the future of computer science or engineering, and automation and its role in relation to the endeavours of man. In the United States tens of thousands of people have been put out of employment because of computers. This has happened to such an extent that in that country, in the universities and the colleges, and even in the high schools, a new subject is being introduced, the science of bionics which ties biology to electronics. This is being introduced because the computer engineers and scientists think that they are on the eve of being able to incorporate in computers the capacity to think and to fashion. Once they do this the list of dismissals of people in white or blue collar jobs will be endless.
In Australia we have no body committed to trying to foresee the role of computers and automation in society and in the field of human endeavour and employment. If these things are going to mean a rise in the standard of living of people then they are all to the good. But we do not want them to make it easier for people to work without receiving any remuneration at all. People will not be educated to know how to occupy their leisure time. This is the responsibility of a Federal Government. No State government has the capacity or the finance to do this but a Federal Government can embark on a programme to face this issue. It can collect the personnel and arrange for them to sit in committee, to collate their findings and have them delivered to various responsible bodies in order to rectify this problem. In some countries thought is being given to imposing a tax on each computer for the saving it represents to a particular enterprise. What is the attitude of this Government? It has never given any thought to it. In the process of time it is inevitable. Even today the Department of Social Services has a computer that can handle 30,000 cheques an hour. How many people would have been employed on that phase of activity in a manual system? Hundreds of people must be out of work. Hundreds of people may not have been dismissed, but in the process of time hundreds of young people will not be taken into the service as they otherwise would have been.
So there is no future for these young people. Whether any future can be arranged for them is in the hands of their elders. If we cannot arrange any future for them, heaven help us, because they will not be very tolerant to us. Youth is impetuous and intolerant. Those are its basic qualities. Youth will not tolerate our ignorance or our neglect; I am certain of that. That is why I appeal to the Government to institute an investigation of the future role of computers, automation and automated processes in the world of employment; what they will mean for future Australians; and what will be the means of rectification if they mean relative unemployment. If a computer can provide extra employment, that would be up to the investigating body to ascertain. But people overseas have not yet proved that computers have created jobs. All they have found is that computers have eliminated jobs. Firms such as the General Dynamics Corporation, International Business Machines and the Bell Telephone Co., as well as other firms associated with computers, have sought machines to displace men and women workers. None of the firms has yet sought to invented a machine that has created new jobs for people. This is a very big issue. It should be faced. The new Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the new Prime Minister must face it and find out what these machines could mean in Australia.
We hear a lot about unions. We have just heard Senator Lillico speaking about them. I know that they are not always right. But they are not always wrong either, as he would have us infer. When we think of the way in which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), who would have been Treasurer if he could have been, has attacked the arbitration tribunals of this country, do we think there should be any respect for them? If he thinks the legislation is wrong, it is within the ambit of his authority to alter that legislation. But he does not do that. I would be interested to know whether Senator Lillico would like to see a reversion to collective bargaining. The Government is not trying to help in this matter. Everyone knows that the Public Service Board has too much work and that economic justice is not being rendered to individual- groups and divisions within the ambit of its authority.
When we think of 40,000 or 50,000 people in the Postmaster-General’s Department waiting for months for economic justice, whether it be in the refusal or the granting of their claims, and nothing being done, can we wonder that they become rebellious? This is a materialistic age. They cannot provide for the material needs of their children, such as education facilities, and the material needs of their wives. Why the Postmaster-General’s Department does not have its own industrial tribunal understanding the grades and divisions within the service and looking after the economic rights of individuals by refusing or granting such requests as are made, I do not know. I am certain that the Public Service Board is not the answer.
In the Governor-General’s Speech there is no reference at all to the industrial anarchy that is rampant or is likely to be rampant in the near future in Australia. The Government has no solution to the problem. It has no proposition to put to the unions. It is of no use for the Government to say: ‘We will not give you what you claim’. Those days have gone. The people will insist on basic rights and will attain them.
In the Speech there was no real mention of the importation of foreign capital. There was mention of the expansion of the sale of metal products overseas. I believe that it might be good for Australia if there is a curtailment of American investment. There might also be some curtailment of United Kingdom investment. For generations, for too long, this country has been in bondage. Long before the recent investments of overseas capital the lands of this country were held by overseas interests and the products were sold at the direction of the overseas interests to provide profits not only on the particular enterprise but also on other interests of overseas investors.
We are now facing this issue. It is interesting to recall and to note that 90% of the money invested in housing, schools, office buildings and the other parts of the overall picture of investment in Australia is provided by Australians themselves and that the other 10% is invested in the really profitable enterprises to serve overseas interests not only in the form of dividends but also in the form of the provision of materials, whether animal, vegetable or mineral. Now comes the time when Australia may have to face up to developing its own natural resources with its own money, know-how and personnel. I believe that that will be all to the good.
I appeal to the Government to be very careful on this matter. I read ‘that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said that this year we would pay out only $220m to overseas investors. Here again he cannot predict what we are likely to be paying out in 5 or 10 years time when big tonnages of coal, bauxite, aluminium and iron ore are going overseas. At that time what will be the amount of the dividends being paid to the people who invested early in these enterprises? Today $220m does not seem a lot, but what will the figure be in 5 or 10 years time? Has the Government given consideration to this matter? I would bet that neither the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) nor the Treasurer would know what the payout is likely to be at that time.
I see that the Minister for Repatriation is in the chamber with us. I am a friend of his. It grieves me to have to attack him because I know how he sympathises with returned service men and women. The point is that sympathy is no good to them. They want cash in hand. But the Government is not providing it. The Government, to put it truthfully, is so lousy that it has denied to servicemen returning from Vietnam, who suffer from tuberculosis now or will contract it within a few years, the right to repatriation benefits. Such servicemen will collect only that which is provided for the ordinary man or woman in Australia. They will not receive any special benefits. That must grieve the Minister. In all decency he must disagree with the Government of which he is a member. In fact, I know that he does.
– He is a decent man.
– As Senator Ormonde says, the Minister is a decent man, so he must disagree with the Government. I do not suppose the Government’s relations with the Returned Services League have ever been worse than they have been for the last few years. Prior to the recent Senate election the League sent out hundreds of thousands of circulars showing the vitiation of repatriation pensions that has occurred since 1920, 1950 and 1953. The time must come when the Government, which so often has depended on the executives of the League for so much support, must pay much more tribute to those people if it is to win back their allegiance, support and loyalty.
So I appeal to the Minister for Repatriation to do the right, decent and honourable thing between now and the presentation of the Budget by paying due regard to the rights of repatriation pensioners. I appeal to him particularly to recognise the rights of the lads in Vietnam to tuberculosis repatriation benefits. There is no reason at all why they should be refused such benefits. There would be only a handful of them. This goes to show how parsimonious this Government is and how miserable its attitude can be when it elects to adopt that stand. I suppose that today no more than 10 people would make the grade. I imagine that in a year there would not be 100 Vietnam ex-servicemen who would qualify. Yet the Government elects to deny these people a basic repatriation right. This right has been conferred on servicemen who saw action in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. But those who have fought in the Vietnam conflict are denied this right.
I remind the Senate of the attitude of the Government when the Labor Party sought the acceptance of an amendment to provide certain benefits for those lads embarking from Australia. It was only with the help from certain honourable senators on the Government side that ultimately we were able to provide the benefits for them. They were to travel right up to Vietnam, yet the Government did not wish to confer the benefits on them. Because of certain help that the Opposition received from some Government senators, we were able to introduce a measure of assistance and protection to which these soldiers were legitimately entitled. This was their basic right.
I wish to point out again to the Minister for Repatriation a gross discriminatory approach by the Repatriation Department for over 40 years regarding the sexes. I know that Commonwealth Hostels Limited intervened to deny economic justice to females in this community. But discrimination has been carried on by the Repatriation Department for over 40 years. I know that you will be interested in this matter, Madam Acting Deputy President, even though you are not a parent. Special allowances are paid to Australian parents who have lost a son or a daughter in the war. But the interesting point to recall is that parents do not need to prove their dependence on a son if that son died in a war zone. But if a daughter is killed, her parents must prove that they were dependent on her at the time of her death. This is a gross discrimination. No-one in the Repatriation Department can tell me the origin and the history of this provision. It just seems to me that there was a gross antagonism shown towards the female sex by members of the Liberal Government.
– There is no antagonism. I like them.
– Well, why does the Minister not alter the provision so that this special allowance will be available to the parents of girls who have died in war zones? Those parents cannot receive the allowance now. The Minister knows that.
– The honourable senator is pointing the bone at me.
– I would not point the bone at the Minister. There are others at whom I might point it. But let us be sensible about this matter. We need to think in terms of the future of this country. I have tried to point out some of the deficiencies as I see them in the handling of this matter and in the Government, led by the
Prime Minister who, I hope, can bring into the Government some measure of resilience, some measure of responsibility and some measure of efficiency that will represent a real contribution to the development of Australia. This role must be exercised in relation to education, planning and development. Provision must be made for these things to be carried out.
No country will be great unless it is prepared to deny itself. We are living in a world of turbulence. No-one knows what the future holds for the various countries of this world. There is only one way in which we can protect ourselves. A country cannot provide for its future during a period of economic depression. It has not the money to do so. A country provides for its future during a period of affluence. At the present time, Australia is in an affluent state. Now is the time for Australia to provide for its future. The rich will have to deny themselves. They will need to face up to greater taxation. This applies to rich corporations also. The poor must be provided for; the young must be provided for; the country has to be provided for. But this can only be done by a government that is prepared to face up to its responsibilities. This is an onerous task. - 1 agree with the GovernorGeneral when, in the final paragraph of his Speech, he makes the supplication: ‘Heaven help Australia’. The only part of that statement with which I disagree is this: If the coalition continues Australia will be beyond the help of Heaven.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, the Senate today is proceeding to the closing stages of the debate which has been prompted by the fact that the Governor-General was pleased to make a Speech in this Chamber some 3 weeks ago in which he announced the legislative programme of the Government for the session this year. The purpose of that Speech is to provide the Parliament, as representing the people, with the opportunity to criticise that programme. It is an occasion on which, in relation to your speech last night, Madam Acting Deputy President, I am pleased to say that I too recall the privilege that I have felt at being a member of the Senate. In taking part in this debate, Madam Acting Deputy President, you noted that this was the final year of your occupancy of a seat in the Senate and that you felt acutely what a privilege it had been to serve some 25 years here. I think that we all ought to remind ourselves that in this Parliament it is a great privilege to speak for the Government and for the Parliament.
The opening of this Parliament could not have taken place in an atmosphere of greater tragedy. It is almost incredible that the occasion should have arisen out of the tragedy that befell the former Prime Minister, the late Mr Harold Holt. I am sure that we all offer to his relatives our great sympathy. The Speech delivered by the Governor-General is the expression of the purpose of the new Government led by one whom we have from years of experience come to understand. Not only from that experience but also from that Speech, I submit to those who will attempt to comprehend it, there is a very strong basis for confidence in Australia’s strength and growth under the Government’s guidance.
May I say, Madam Acting Deputy President, that I often renounce the presumption that is implied in offering compliments to honourable senators on making their maiden speeches. But perhaps I will be permitted to say on this occasion with what pleasure I heard Senator Laucke and Senator Greenwood, the two members who have made their maiden speeches during this Address-in-Reply debate. Senator Laucke referred to matters that implanted themselves in my mind. He mentioned the need to watch the drift of small businessmen with secondary and primary industry interests. The other pregnant thought with which he left us was that of drought bonds - a means, I think, of making a purposeful contribution to mitigating the effects of disasters such as droughts, fires and flood. Senator Greenwood delivered his speech in his remarkably impressive voice and manner and, if I may be permitted to express my appreciation, with a lucidity that really rejoices the heart of anyone who is in Parliament and who sees people of such calibre coming into public life.
I would have been tempted, on the first occasion of addressing the Senate after the assumption of a ministerial post, to devote my time to the two departments that have been entrusted to my administration. But on reflection I have felt that, having listened to as much of the debate as my other duties have permitted me to hear, 1 should refer to a few of the things that have been said and also to the positive content of the Speech delivered by the Governor-General. I think it is good, as the Address-in-Reply debate draws to a close, that I, as far as I can, should bring to the attention of the Senate the content and meaning of the Speech.
In the first place, so far as the Department of Works is concerned, last night I heard Senator Tangney refer to the fact that she has pleaded - and she conveyed to me the impression that she felt she was pleading in vain - for consideration to be given to the construction of a naval base on the western coast of Western Australia. It should be known by the Senate and the country that last year the Government committed this project to a feasibility study by consultants of the Department of Works. The report of those consultants has already been received and is in the process of being printed. It will be available for study by the Government within the next 2 or 3 days. The Department of Works has pushed ahead with that project, mammoth as it is - and I think anybody would understand its dimensions - and has brought it to that stage of consideration. If we are to approach these things with responsibility, we will not want all projects to be considered in haste and given undue consideration. I think the honourable senator will appreciate the consideration there, coming as it does in timely coincidence with the announcement of the United Kingdom policy of withdrawing from South East Asia the defence troops that it has been able to support in the past. I think that anybody who has the interests of this country at heart will give real credit to a Government that is proceeding on that project so purposefully. Of course, I do not indicate what the final result of the consideration will be.
The next matter with which I want to deal and which relates to my own Department is something which has not been mentioned in the course of the Address-in-Reply debate but which was given prominence in the Press last week. It arises out of the general report of the Public Works Committee. Of course, having regard to the fact that critical comments were then published, any responsible organ of news conveyance will realise the fairness of noting the reply. I recall to the Senate that the Public Works Committee is a Committee whose independ ence and extent of obligation 1 have done quite a deal of work to establish in the past years. Over successive years I have fought for its jurisdiction so that public works could be considered by representatives of the Parliament. Of course, I express the greatest pleasure in the fact that work projects of $500,000 - and the figure is soon to be lifted, I understand, to $750,000 - are required, unless in exceptional cases, to go before the Public Works Committee for consideration. The criticism was that the Department of Works, in respect of the Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport and the Tullamarine Airport, had proceeded to the job with haste and insufficient consideration. It is true that the pressure of time became important when these projects were put in hand. But when these projects were submitted to the Committee, attention was drawn to the fact that the time factor precluded a complete consideration of the estimates.
The next point that I want to make is that with regard to the processing of estimates, the Government did not wait for news in February 1968 to act upon this matter. As early as 1966 it established an interdepartmental committee to consider the very point of whether or not more exact estimates for this sort of project could be provided. That committee reported to the Government and in November last year the Government issued its decision which provides procedures that should ensure a much closer coincidence between estimates and actual costs in all current work performance. I want to indicate that procedure to the Senate.
Except in exceptional circumstances of special urgency, no major project is to be brought before Cabinet until the appropriate functional brief has been completed by the sponsor to the satisfaction of the Department of Works - that is a preliminary functional brief. Secondly, a preliminary estimate of costs must be prepared by my Department at that stage. Thirdly, before the project is referred to the Public Works Committee, the Department has to prepare a second estimate of cost on detailed sketch plans. This is known as the limit of cost estimate’. Then the scope and cost of the work may not be significantly altered without the details being brought to the notice of Cabinet or the Treasurer through the department that sponsors the project. This action should take place before a decision is given by the Government as to whether or not the project concerned should proceed to full documentation.
This is a reassurance to anybody who is considering the matter: Two years ago this consideration was put in hand and 3 months ago a decision was issued, and the actual operation of contracts is proceeding with greater precaution. Although the estimate of the cost of the Mascot project is, on current estimate, expected to exceed the original preliminary estimates by, I think, some $10m in the aggregate, contrary to the statement of the Public Works Committee to which publicity was given, the current estimate of the cost of Tullamarine will be approximately $2m less than the estimate instead of $4m in excess of the estimate.
As to the Committee’s reference that items of work were omitted from the estimates, all I want to say is that a slight misunderstanding has proceeded from the word omitted’. It would give the impression that the people who take the bills of quantities and calculate the estimates have made some technical omission. In fact, the omission represents about $250,000 worth of work about which the Department of Civil Aviation did not advise because at that stage it had not completed negotiations with the two airline companies and the work had not been ordered. I know that reference to bulk and beam sorts of things can be, to some extent, uninteresting, but in my view public works are a much more real form of social service than are some of the matters that we microscopically examine in this chamber. Therefore, I wanted to point out to the Senate what has been done in respect of matters that pertain to my Department.
The only other reference that I notice to public works in the Address-in-Reply debate was made by Senator Bishop, when he referred to the programme of construction at Adelaide. This matter has been quite frequently brought before the attention of the Senate by my colleague, Senator Laught, from South Australia. All I want to say on it is to repeat what I said in the Senate recently during question time. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) are actively considering this situation, and I am giving them whatever assistance I can. 1 wish to refer now to the tourist activities of this country. 1 listened this morning to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy), in asking a question, volley out figures calling attention to our trade deficits.
– They were right, were they not?
– I have not had an opportunity to check them. Any honourable senator on either side of the chamber with a degree of responsibility would never trundle figures before the Senate in that way. Any casual answer evoked by such a question would not be based upon a degree of reflection and consulting of figures that are really reliable. I make that comment only in passing. A member of this Parliament must be oblivious to the realities if he cannot see that one of the real provinces of performance of this Government since 1956 is in the field of international trade, under the extremely able guidance of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr McEwen). With foresight the Government saw the change in the pivot of world trade, the possibility of having to live with less assistance from Europe, and of having to cultivate the trade available to us in the Pacific region. Anybody who cannot discern that has a very diminutive outlook.
Our former Prime Minister, the late Mr Holt, announced in a policy speech the establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission. Yesterday in the Senate I heard from an honourable senator opposite a sneering reference to tourism. Perhaps it was intended to ‘be a sneer at the relative insignificance of the duties assigned to me. My prestige is unaffected by sneering of that sort. Even before the establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission, the annual percentage increment of tourism to the foreign exchange earnings of Australia exceeded the aggregate contribution made by all other channels of trade, by quite a considerable percentage. Australia enjoys only 0.64% of the world’s tourist trade, which last year was the greatest unit of world trade. It should be obvious to us all that in this field of activity there is great opportunity for growth which will improve our foreign exchange balance.
I have received great encouragement from contact with the Australian Tourist
Commission. It is constituted of 5 representatives who were appointed to it, each one of whom has a great fund of experience in the tourist business to contribute to the Commission. As I said in answering a question this week, I have had great encouragement also from the continued work of the Australian National Travel Association. That Association is being reconstituted so as to work in complementary fashion with the Commission. With the Australian Tourist Commission working in the international field we can be assured that our travel attractions will be appropriately fostered by the Australian National Travel Association. Tourism is a community effort which is the concern not only of carriers, hotel keepers and other accommodation providers, but also of the general public. As I have said to the Senate when referring to recent consideration of these matters by the United States of America, men of such status that they prepare reports fit for consideration by the President of the United States have placed great emphasis upon the community’s contribution towards tourism through improving service, making costs reasonable and providing those courtesies in which Australians are specialists, if they will put themselves out. These things greatly please international travellers and influence them to tell their friends of this country. I saw recently in the Press a statement by an experienced American traveller who was presented with a boomerang in the hope that he would be induced to return to this country.
I am pleased that my colleague Senator Webster took notice of the tourist industry in referring to the games to be held in New Guinea in 1969. I have referred to that coming event in replies to questions in the Senate. It is an idea that has strong appeal for me. My colleague Senator Davidson in speaking on immigration referred to charter air flights. I have taken the occasion to renew my acquaintance with a statement of policy by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) about 12 months ago on charter air flights and their relationship to tourism. Our policy is to require that an airline seeking charter should first offer the charter, in the international field, to Qantas Airways Ltd. Then on certain conditions permission for a charter flight will be granted. Having regard to the capacity of modern aircraft it is necessary to cater for fairly large groups. Senator Davidson has my assurance that in the context of tourism the question of charter air flights and the possibility of using them on more flexible terms to facilitate tourism is actively under consideration.
I wish to express my appreciation of the speech delivered by Senator Sim to the Senate on the subject of tariffs. Few of us have the inclination to do the spade work on this subject. I would like it known that the thought that was obviously behind that speech and the need for an economic basis for tariff protection have not escaped me. I wish now to refer to the speech made by Senator Cant in this debate in which he referred to the arbitration processes. I want Senator Cant to know that when he refers to the development of the various industrial processes he impresses upon my mind the need to have regard to his experience. He referred to the delay that accompanies applications not only to the Public Service Arbitrator but also to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I want the honourable senator, as a representative of the Opposition, to know that the message strikes home and, in my view - I am sure this is the Government’s view also so far as it is proper for the Government to communicate a point of view to arbitral tribunals - it is imperative that industrial disputes should not be exacerbated by resentment on the part of the individual as a result of delay.
Having said that, I hope I will be credited with the desire - I understand that another honourable senator said the desire was shared by all sections of the chamber - that the arbitration system should be made to work. I would be surprised if there were anyone in this chamber who would rejoice or find any consolation in the industrial disruption that seems to be frequenting our economic structure at the present time. It behoves honourable senators on both sides of the House to yield of their best and, if there are any imperfections in the statutory setup of the arbitral tribunals, to attend to them not in a partisan fashion but in a fashion which will lead to greater industrial peace.
– There are imperfections and some of them are referred to in the reports of the President of the Commission. Failure to deal with over-award payments is one serious matter.
– I forbore to make any specific reference to them because I always think that in a brief reference one conveys only one glimpse of his perspective, and doing that contributes to misunderstanding.
– Talking about exacerbation, Mr Bury does not help very much.
– I think Mr Bury helps manfully and with great understanding. I have always found his Department to be most resourceful. The other speech I wish to mention in the time available to me, because these things have particular interest for me, is that made by Senator Lillico, my colleague from Tasmania. I thought it had some echo of reference to Senator Laucke’s remarks relating to small businesses. The economy of the small farmers is being imperilled at this time. No doubt one of the reasons for that is increasing costs. The primary producer, being at the tail end of the cost line, receives only the difference between the market realisation of his goods and his costs. We have established a policy to facilitate the exit from the dairying industry of the small man, and although that will be on a voluntary basis its operation in the context in which Senator Lillico mentioned it deserves, I think, the most thoughtful attention. I leave it at that. I merely want to say that as a Minister of the Crown listening to the debate I believe Senator Lillico’s remarks warrant real consideration.
Having mentioned some of the contributions made by honourable senators in relation to the Government’s programme, I now want to turn to the positive part of the Governor-General’s Speech. I am sorry that Senator Turnbull is not at present in the chamber. It appears that there may be a channel of thought which conveys to the country as a whole that it is an important part of the Senate’s deliberations to be as irresponsible, superficial and ridiculous as one can be in debate. I have never heard anything quite so illogical and unworthy of the honourable senator as his speech, in which he disparaged the American alliance and said that we should spend to the limit on defence to make this country selfsupporting from the point of view of world defence. Such a statement is devoid of any ordinary reasoning. There are two other words for it but I content myself with that form of expression.
Let us look at the Speech. It contains ten propositions, some of which have triple content. Anyone who has a mind to comprehend matters associated with the government of this country would do well to consider them. In the first place there is an assurance of a continuance of the Vietnam commitment, sad though it is but resolute as it is. Anyone who undervalues that from the point of view of its influence - upon the events that saved Indonesia, anyone who undervalues that from the point of view of succouring the strength of Singapore and Malaysia, anyone who undervalues that from the point of view of establishing the rights of small independent countries against aggression, in my view does a disservice to Australia. The commitment we would all wish to avoid. Senator Turnbull asked today why we should not stay in Vietnam if America withdrew. That kind of thinking is disreputable and irresponsible from any point of view. But I am not here to make a speech on Vietnam.
A second feature in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is the awareness it shows of the Government’s appreciation of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Asian area. To use the words of Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes in another place, Great Britain is like Rome ordering its legions home from the provinces. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has already been around the area and has a conference with our neighbours there lined up within the next month or so. The conference is designed, not to indicate that we will replace the British strength - as the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said, that is not within our capacity - but to mould an outlook there which will prevent a vacuum occurring in an unco-ordinated fashion. He will consult with our neighbours to see that in a spirit of friendship there is a unity of purpose - not an alliance, because that is not contemplated. That intention, taken in conjunction with the other matters to which I have already referred, shows that the Minister for External Affairs has the matter well in hand.
The third thing the Governor-General’s Speech makes known to us is that despite the disparagement of out contribution to underdeveloped countries that comes from certain quarters of the chamber, the fact is that our record of aid in terms of percentage of national income is second only to that of France. In the current year our total appropriation for this purpose is $142m. That includes I think $92m that we devote to Papua and New Guinea. Despite what has been said about the possibility of erecting a permanent hospital in Vietnam when the bombing is over and we make the country secure, I have not the slightest doubt that Australia will be prepared to give aid, medically and in any other way within the fullness of its capacity, to succour those people back to strength. While the war is on I listen with shame to anybody who disparages the medical teams and the engineers who build roads and provide skill for the example of the Vietnamese people. All around the area where friends are needed the aid to the extent of $142m that we are giving is significant indeed. Aid to Indonesia has been doubled, as announced by the Government in the last few months. Let me just spare a moment to recognise what seems to me to be a suggestion of very great pregnancy that fell from Senator Henty, namely, that in regard to West New Guinea some economic arrangement similar to the United States transaction in relation to Alaska might be made with Indonesia. It may not be possible. To my uninformed mind it was a suggestion of some hope.
Fourthly, I point out to those who criticise defence that the appropriation for this purpose has now risen to some $1,1 00m; I need not stay to itemise. Fifthly, the Government has taken the forward step - nobody from the Opposition has suggested this - of dividing the responsibilities formerly laid on the Department of Territories. The significance of that would not be immediately apparent but, as the GovernorGeneral’s Speech points out, when we are guiding New Guinea to the ultimate destination of independence and guiding the Northern Territory to ultimate statehood it is quite appropriate to divorce one from the other from the point of view of administration. In relation to the Northern Territory our interest in education is being put under the administration of the Department of Education and Science. Other aspects of activity in the Northern Territory are being put under the control of the appropriate departments. The wiseacres of the Opposition will see that going on in government is a continuous study of the appropriateness of administration and in that respect, in my view, this matter is significant.
Sixthly, we have the establishment of the Cabinet secretariat. The growth of government activities is such that the fact that this novel step has been taken should not attract criticism. It is, of course, open to criticism or praise according to how one feels about it. The new Prime Minister has taken that step. He has put one officer in charge of the Prime Minister’s Department so that another can devote his time to the immense programme of Cabinet work the breadth and depth of which Senator Turnbull does not even give a glimpse of understanding. This administrative step is to me a matter that we ought to stay to recognise. Seventhly, we have what the Government is doing about Aboriginal affairs. Nobody says a word about this. It created an institute for the purpose years ago. It has now appointed a Minister whose heart and soul is in the cause, and that cause is one of terrific international significance. There is reference to it in the Governor-General’s Speech but it has attracted no attention.
Eighthly, economic development is emphasised under the following heads: (a) inflow of capital; (b) migration; (c) new export incentives; (d) mining - expected to attain the dimension of $ 1,000m in the early 1970s; (e) reconstruction of the dairy industry; (f) farm developmental loans; (g) attention to the waning sugar industry in terms of price; (h) expenditure on water conservation projects - legislation to be introduced this session to implement schemes upon which agreement has been reached as part of the $S0m appropriation that has been announced; (i) attention immediately to the effects of devaluation, a committee having been appointed to study it under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry and the first report on the subject having been made already to Cabinet. So national development, I would think, should be recognised as an important part of the Government’s programme.
Ninthly, in relation to social welfare a standing committee of Cabinet is to coordinate the work of the three departments interested. An independent inquiry into medical and hospital benefits has been announced. This is an important matter which I should think would be most productive of improvement in the field of social welfare. Tenthly, there is reference to repatriation. To me it is a matter of tears when J see the Opposition here - many members of it being worthy men who have real records of pride so far as war service is concerned - always ready to jump on the bandwagon of a section of discontents. The Senate does not need me to remind it where my viewpoint is on repatriation. But why can we never get it over to the country that last July this Government announced a scheme which is immeasurably better than the old repatriation scheme for the purposes of those men who are casualties in Vietnam or who will be engaged in war hereafter? If any man of the First World War or the Second World War had an opportunity to be accredited as a contributor to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund he would have considered himself very worthily recompensed, because it makes quite significant pension provisions for injured servicemen and for their widows and children. The significance of the Government’s decision is that this benefit is in addition to war service compensation or repatriation benefits that have been given under statute to men of the First World War and Second World War. A totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman returning from Vietnam will receive a repatriation pension of something like $32 a week and another pension of about $32 a week under the DFRB scheme. As a step forward in one year, that is a repatriation revolution that is to the great credit of the Government. That matter is mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech.
The only other item with which I wish to deal is the eleventh item, which recognises two significant legal developments - namely the limitation of appeals to the Privy Council and provision of a new Federal Court to unload the burden that presently is placed on the High Court. I am conscious of the fact that 4 p.m. on Thursday is not a time when one can be expected to retain a full audience, but I have endeavoured to indicate that 1 have stayed in the chamber in order to understand speeches that I believe the Government should consider. I do not mean to say that the Government should not consider speeches that I have not had time to mention expressly. I believe that at this closing stage of the debate it is proper, on behalf of the Government and within my sphere, to bring attention to the positive content of the Government’s programme, its comprehensiveness and forward looking nature and the timeliness with which it was prepared and presented to the Parliament. It gives the Senate a spirit of purpose, on behalf of the nation, and deserves our unqualified confidence.
– FirstlyI congratulate Senator Laucke on his maiden speech, although it is not really so, since he has spoken in the State Parliament of which he was a member. I realise that it is an ordeal to make a maiden speech. Along with other members of my party, I extend a welcome to Senator Greenwood. We all have had to face the ordeal of making a maiden speech, as he did. Whilst I am in a congratulatory mood, 1 take the opportunity to congratulate Senator Anderson on his elevation as Leader of the Government in the Senate and particularly Senator Wright on his elevation to the Ministry. Coming from the same city and the same State as Senator Wright, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see another Tasmanian elevated to the Ministry.
– The honourable senator does not have the same politics as Senator Wright.
– No. Senator Wright and I were born on opposite sides of the street. Senator Wright had the sunny side and I had the seamy or shady side.
– I was born to work, the same as Senator Poke.
– I did not cast any reflection on the honourable senator’s work. I simply said that we were born on opposite sides of the street. I would like to correct something that Senator Gair said last night. In the debate Senator Gair mentioned building costs and referred to a man who was travelling to work at approximately 9 a.m. and who said he arrived home at about 4.30 p.m. This may be so. I do not take Senator Gair up on this point. It could happen. The point on which I take Senator Gair to task is that I believe he has cast an unjustified reflection on a particular classification of people. Senator Gair referred to a saw doctor who was on a tram and who had spoken to another man about travelling out to a job and of the time he arrived at work, and so on. This morning the honourable senator continued in somewhat the same vein. He particularly mentioned a carpenter. He said that the carpenter was employed on the job. The honourable senator addressed a question to this particular man. For Senator Gair’s edification, let me inform him that there is no saw doctor employed in the building industry. A saw doctor is a man who is trained as such in the timber industry, but he has nothing to do with building.
– The man described himself as a saw doctor. I did not.
– I am not concerned with the man’s description of himself. That does not worry me at all. I have had a little industrial experience and I know a little about saw doctors. A saw doctor is a man who sharpens saws, tooths them, gullets them, sets them, swedges them and, importantly, with a hammer saw puts the tension back or takes out the kinks, because saws can become buckled. It is wrong to deprecate such a man who starts work at 9 a.m. or thereabouts and is home by 4.30 p.m., because he is a highly trained man. I believe that any highly qualified man, irrespective of the calling that he may be following, should be given credit for the qualifications that he has. I deprecate the fact that a reflection was cast on this particular type of workman by Senator Gair.
– The honourable senator had better take it up with the man on the tram. He described himself as a saw doctor.
– I am merely upholding the status in industry of this man.
– The honourable senator should not get sore about it.
– I am not sore, but I do not like having a man castigated if he is not deserving of it. I do not think there is a saw doctor employed in the timber industry who would talk as the honourable senator said he did. Having said that and put the record straight-
– The waves of democracy certainly throw up some funny things on the beach at times.
– Anybody who had seen the honourable senator on the beach would say he had seen something funny. I do not think there would be many people left on the beach if they saw the honourable senator there.
– My fat is around my waist. Senator Poke’s is around his ears.
– When Senator Gair has finished his speech I will continue with my interjections. Returning to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, it contained many things with which I could agree, but many things were omitted. It was a disappointing speech in many respects, particularly so far as social welfare was concerned. The Governor-General’s Speech made very little mention of social welfare. Approximately twelve lines of that speech were devoted to this subject. I think we all agree, irrespective of what side of the Chamber we are on, irrespective of what our politics may be, that social welfare should be one of the top priority items for any government when drawing up its budget each year. One of the things mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s address was that the Government would set up a standing committee to go into this field. That standing committee will consist of four Ministers. They are the Ministers for Health, Social Services, Repatriation and Housing. The only thing missing from the remarks of the GovernorGeneral was that the Government did not indicate when this committee will be set up. If such a committee as is envisaged by the Government were to go to a number of professors at our universities who have made surveys of social welfare and the needs of aged people throughout the Commonwealth, it would get a very good case on which to base findings for increased payments to the recipients of social services.
I want now to speak on a matter to which the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) referred yesterday in reply to a question. I am sorry the Minister is not present at the moment. He was replying to a question, which was asked, I think, by Senator Laucke, about public buildings in Adelaide. I am pleased to have been informed - as I am sure all honourable senators are - that there is a possibility that in the not too distant future Commonwealth public buildings will be erected in Adelaide. While I appreciate the necessity for these buildings I should like to take this opportunity to point out the need for buildings of this type in Hobart, as I have done on numerous other occasions.
In 1948, under a Labor government, a site was purchased in Hobart for this purpose. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Public Works Committee agreed that the project should proceed. If my memory serves me correctly a certain amount of money was provided for this work. But now it is 1968, and I suggest we are further away from having this building erected than we were back 20 years ago. I say that because, within the last 12 months, this Government saw fit to dispose of that site. The Government said that ii was not suitable. This decision indicates to me that the Government does not have much interest in the construction of the Commonwealth building in Hobart.
I asked a question some twelve months ago of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior in this chamber about the rental paid for office accommodation for the Commonwealth in Hobart. If my memory serves me correctly the figure stated was in excess of $70,000 a year. I presume this figure included all office accommodation leased or rented in Hobart. It seems rather strange to me that a government can pay a sum of at least $70,000 a year for rent but cannot find sufficient money for capital works. This to me appears to be false economy.
I have taken the trouble to go through the Tasmanian telephone directory and I note that Commonwealth Departments are scattered from one end of the city to another. The Minister for Works referred to the arbitration court in Hobart. It is located at 18 Elizabeth Street. The Department of the Army is situated in Davey Street; the Attorney-General’s Department is al 18 Elizabeth Street; the Audit Office is at 53 Collins Street; the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at 148 Collins Street; the Australian Meat Board is at 119 Macquarie Street; the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is in Argyle Street; the section known as Bankruptcy Administration is at 18 Elizabeth Street; the Bureau of Census and Statistics is at 115 Collins Street; The Commissioner of Trade Practices is at 47 Liverpool Street; the Commonwealth Crown Solicitors office is at 18 Elizabeth Street; and the Commonwealth employment office is at 81 Murray Street.
I do not want to read the entire list but the addresses I have given indicates the widespread area in which these offices are located. They are scattered from the top end of Elizabeth Street right down into Sandy Bay, I suppose they would be in an area of at least three square miles. Why this situation should prevail is beyond my comprehension. I think the Government would be well advised to consider the possibility and the probability of erecting Commonwealth Parliament offices in Hobart.
– I think the honourable senator means Commonwealth Government offices.
– I thank the Minister for Works for the correction. I think he should discuss with the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and any other Ministers interested, the possibility of doing this. Reverting to social services, 1 did refer a few moments ago to four lines in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Later in his Speech the Governor-General said:
My Government is negotiating an agreement with State Governments to help mothers with children who are not eligible for benefits under the existing Social Services Act, but who are in need. The Commonwealth is prepared to meet half the cost of State expenditure in this field.
One wonders why the Commonwealth is prepared to meet only half the cost. If we look at the Constitution we find that in Part V the powers of the Parliament are set out in various categories. Section 51 (xxiii) gives the Commonwealth Parliament the right to deal with invalid and age pensions. Section 51 (xxiii A.) states:
The provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits . . . and so on. I suggest that this Government, by promising to the people of Australia in the Governor-General’s Speech that it would pay only half of the cost of State expenditure in this field, is abrogating its responsibilities under the Constitution. The Government should fully accept its responsibilities in this regard. When it finds people who require social services assistance it should give them full assistance. 1 have always taken the view - I believe that many people agree with me - that it should not be a responsibility of any State government to care for the aged and the sick. In my opinion the full responsibility for that rests fairly and squarely on the shoulders of this Government. If one goes around the countryside and sees the poverty that exists among age pensioners, one feels like saying a prayer for them.
Another matter that has interested me over the years is the easing of the means test. Admittedly the Government has eased it over a period of years. But one of the bad features of the means test as it exists today is that, whereas people can own their own home, car, furniture and other persona) effects without any penalty under the means test, people who have paid into a superannuation fund for a number of years in the hope that their superannuation pension would assist them in their old age find that the value of their pension is eroded by this Government’s attitude to the means test. Let me give an instance of this. In a case that I had brought to my notice only quite recently the wife was receiving $12 a fortnight. The husband received an increase of $10 a fortnight in his superannuation payment. .Immediately, the wife’s pension was reduced to $2 a fortnight. In this case that simply meant that the Government gave money to this couple with one hand and took it away with the other. That does not make sense to me.
I do not. know why it is, but I seem to receive an unusual number of complaints about matters under the Social Services Act and the Superannuation Act. I have in my hand a file that has accumulated in my office since the Parliament adjourned towards the end of last year. That is to say nothing of the complaints that I have received over the whole period that I have been in this Parliament. Whether other senators receive the same number of complaints on pensions and superannuation matters as I do, I do not know. If 1 had the time to read to the Senate the letters on this file, I think we would be here for the next week. I can see from the letters that come to me that the people are distressed. They are looking forward to some relief of their financial situation in the near future. The only relief that most elderly people can see from their present financial situation is death. So I hope that, when the Government sets up the committee that is envisaged in the Governor-General’s Speech, that committee will do something to relieve the financial worries and hardships of the elderly and less privileged people in our community.
The Governor-General said:
The policy of giving practical help to the less developed countries of the world will be continued.
I think we all agree that that is a good policy. He continued:
In the present financial year expenditure on all aid programmes, including grants to Papua and New Guinea, is approximately $142ra. My Go vernment has already announced that in the next financial year the amount of aid to be provided for Indonesia will be doubled.
Only a few minutes ago Senator Wright referred to the $142m that will be devoted to aid to less developed countries. He also mentioned that the Government would double the aid to Indonesia m the next financial year. Having had the opportunity to make a tour through Indonesia, a few years ago, I agree that the people of that country require greater assistance than they are receiving today. The South East Asian countries that I have had the privilege of touring are very proud and very appreciative of the help that they receive from Australia. Whilst $142m sounds quite a sizeable sum, having regard to what is occurring in Vietnam today it is merely a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of money needed for the rehabilitation of that country.
When I was in Vietnam a few years ago the policy of the government of the day on refugees was to put them into refugee camps, to screen them, to endeavour to sift the wheat from the chaff, as it were, and after finding the people most suited to going on the land to allocate to each person 7 acres of agricultural land on which to produce food. What the cost was at that time, I would not have a clue. If the present Government of South Vietnam continues with this type of policy, I would suggest that, with the way that the war is raging today in Vietnam and with the large increase in the number of refugees which flows from any war in any country, it would be a mammoth task for any government to rehabilitate these people, put them on the land and produce food. Even in the days when I was in Vietnam, a shortage of food existed. Honourable senators will appreciate that as a result of the war then the need for food would have been greater than the demand there today.
I do not wish to take the same line as Senator Turnbull did on medical care for the Vietnamese people. But let us face the issue concerning medical aid. A great need exists in Vietnam for medical aid. On page 2 of the ‘Australian’ of Thursday, 14th March 1968, an article written by Sue Jordan appears. This article concerns a Dr Alister Brass. Sue Jordan relates a conversation that she had with Dr Brass on the previous day. The article is headed: ‘Our Vietnam aid a mere fleabite, says doctor’. It (s not my intention to quote the whole of this interview. But let me quote some parts of it. The article states:
In Sydney yesterday, he described Australian medical and civil aid efforts as insignificant - a mere fleabite
In Australia, we make a tremendous issue out of it.’ he said. ‘We get steamed up about something which really has a terribly minor effect on the population. “Viewed from up there, Australia’s efforts arc so insignificant.’
Dr Alister Brass goes on to name the three areas in Vietnam where medical aid is available from Australians. He has this to say:
The efforts of the three Australian medical teams . . . are medically significant in those areas only - and they’re politically significant in Canberra. That’s all.
The people don’t even think of them as Australians - they’re just doctors.
Unless it’s seen in the right context, civil and medical aid can be a camouflage, a way of facesaving. lt takes the edge off people being too selfquestioning about the war.’
We know that Vietnam has been ravished by war for many, many years. Consequently, the people there have lived under very trying conditions. Food, shelter and other requirements have been in short supply. Many of our troops are serving in this war in Vietnam. Let us face the truth that it is a war irrespective of the fact that the Government will not say that we are at war. The failure of the Government to do this causes many complications. One of the complications that this causes effects outservicemen returning from Vietnam. This war is being fought with all the artillery and the other weapons of war that were used in the First World War, the Second World War, the Malaya campaign and the Korea campaign. Death is just as permanent in Vietnam as it was in those wars. Also, injuries are just as permanent. But a difference exists between the conditions which are available to ex-servicemen who return from Vietnam today and the conditions which were available to the ex-servicemen who came back from those previous wars. There is quite a difference.
I refer to those people who may develop tuberculosis some years after they come back from Vietnam. Under the Repatriation Act, those who served in the First World War and World War II receive TB treatment in repatriation hospitals. By a specific amendment of that Act, returned service men from the Korea campaign and the Malaya exercise can go to the repatriation hospitals also to receive treatment for TB. But as the repatriation legislation stands today, any person, whether he be a national serviceman or a member of the Australian Regular Army, who returns from Vietnam and who at some date in the future - be it 8 years or 10 years hence - develops TB, will not be entitled to go into a repatriation hospital and be treated for his condition. No provision is made in the existing Act for Vietnam servicemen. Certainly these men will be able to receive treatment for TB under the provisions of our social welfare legislation. But they cannot get treatment for TB under the Repatriation Act. Is it not reasonable to suppose that a man who has been away, fought for his country and made many, many friends within his unit, his battalion or whatever the case may be, would want to go into a hospital with his own comrades who have returned from that war? I suggest. Mr Acting Deputy President, that this is something to which the Government should give consideration.
The Minister for Repatriation has rejected this request. In April of last year, a letter went to the Minister requesting that assistance be given to Vietnam servicemen who may develop TB at some time in the future. This request has been turned down. Why should the Minister do this? I suppose he did it in consultation with his advisers and with members of the Ministry. Why this application should be turned down is beyond my comprehension. I suggest that it is beyond the comprehension not only of many of the members on this side of the Senate but also of the chaps who are returning from Vietnam.
As Senator Wright said, one does not anticipate having an audience at this hour of the sitting on a Thursday. I have devoted a little more time than it was my intention to devote to this matter but. by the same token, 1 have not gone through the amount of material that I have prepared and on which J would have liked to touch. Nevertheless, I will leave it at that. I hope that the Government will have some regard for the servicemen who return from Vietnam and who in the future may develop TB. I sincerely hope that in the near future the Government will have regard to increasing benefits paid to pensioners and other recipients of social services. In this regard I am on common ground with Senator Gair in deprecating the suggestion that parliamentary salaries should be increased. 1 sincerely hope that consideration is given to pensioners before the salaries of members of Parliament are increased.
– I want to add my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I sincerely want to congratulate our two new senators on their maiden speeches. If they are able to make this contribution when making their maiden speeches, I think that the team on this side of the chamber will be greatly strengthened by their addition to it. I wish our new Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) well in his position because over the last 4 years, anyhow, 1 think it has been considered to be something of a hot seat. When I entered this chamber Senator Spooner was our Leader and he remained Leader for some 6 years. But if we look at. the last 4 years we see that Senator Anderson is the fifth person to occupy the position of Leader of the Government in the Senate. I hope that his term is as long as Senator Spooners, not that of his three predecessors.
One of the things which the AddressinReply debate permits us to do is to speak on any subject. When you are the last in the line of speakers you find that most of the points in the Governor-General’s Speech have been covered. I shall relate my remarks to the Governor-General’s Speech by referring to the subject of this chamber - the Senate. I believe I am entitled to do so because this is the chamber in which the Governor-General delivered his Speech. I want to deal with the importance of the Senate in the Australian political system. I do not think that there is a better way in which to start to deal with this matter than by referring to this excellent book entitled the ‘Australian Senate Practice’ which was written by Mr Odgers. I think that it could almost be called the ‘bible of the Senate’. Mr Odgers chose to open his book by quoting two of the great men in the history of the Australian Senate. The first quotation was made by the Right Honourable Sir Edmund Barton, and for the sake of people who may read this speech at some stage, I think 1 should point out that he was Leader of the Australasian Federal Convention 1897-98, the first Prime Minister, and a justice of the High Court of Australia. His comment is very brief but I think it is very pertinent. It is as follows:
We cannot fail to remember that the Constitution designed the Senate to be a House of greater power than any ordinary second chamber. Not only by its express powers, but by the equality of its representation of the States, the Senate was intended to be able to protect the States from aggression.
The cynics and critics say that this House does not function as such, but 1 remind them that to my knowledge on two occasions - and I do not say that these were the only occasions - the Tasmanian and South Australian senators got together, despite party politics, to carry out the function for which the Senate was designed, and that was to protect the interests of their own particular States.
The father of this Senate and the man who up to this point of time has served the longest term in the Senate was Senator the Right Honourable Sir George Pearce. He came from my own State of Western Australia. He said:
The Senate was constituted as it is, after long fighting, prolonged discussions, many compromises, and many concessions on the part of the various shades of political thought throughout the Commonwealth, and it stands there in the Constitution in a position that has no equal in any Legislature throughout the world.
I think that when one is speaking about the Senate this is perhaps the way in which to start. We should remember that the Senate is not the governing House because governments are not made here; they are made in the House of Representatives. The Senate plays no part whatsoever in the forming of governments. 1 cite the instance in which there could be an Opposition majority of 36 Australian Labor Party senators in the Senate and 61 Labor members in the House of Representatives, which would give the Labor Party 97 members in the Federal Parliament. The Liberal Party-Australian Country Party could have only 24 senators but 63 members in the House of Representatives, which would give them 87 members in the Parliament, but they would still form the Government. Even though they had 10 less members than the Labor Party in the Federal Parliament, they would form the Government because they would have a majority in the House of Representatives. I only cite that instance to indicate that governments are not made in the Senate; they are made in the House of Representatives.
The method of electing us to the Senate -that is by proportional representation - in my opinion and I give it as my opinion only - is one of the fairest systems of whichI am aware,I say that because it gives representation to minority parties, such as the Australian Democratic Labor Parly. It also gives representation to an independent. I do not know of any other way in which an independent could be elected to the Federal Senate, other than by proportional representation. I know that the system has difficulties. It produces fairly even numbers in the Senate and this may be uncomfortable for the Government, but I think that it is a very good thing for legislation.I know that it produces a much higher standard of debate. It also keeps the government of the day - no matter which party it may be - on its toes. The fact that there are even numbers prevents illconceived legislation being passed, because it is realised that the legislation probably would not be passed by this House. 1 think we should refresh our minds as to what the powers of this chamber are. In this regard I turn to Mr Odger’s book and to that section which deals with the powers of the Senate. They are summarised as follows:
To this end. it is embedded in the Constitution that equal representation of the Original Slates in the Senate shall be maintained.
That has not been altered. The numbers have altered but equal representation has been maintained. The second function is:
To act as a House of review with the responsibility of expressing second opinions- and I emphasise the words ‘second opinions’ - in relation to legislative proposals initiated in the House of Representatives.
The third function is:
To itself initiate non-financial legislation, as the Senate sees fit.
The fourth function is:
To probe and check the administration of the laws and to keep itself and the public informed.
The fifth and important function is:
To maintain an oversight of the Executive’s regulation-making power.
I shall have more to say about that later on. Mr Odgers then proceeds to give some guide lines as to how the Senate pursues and uses this very great power which it was given by the Constitution. He says:
As such power should be used circumspectly and wisely, factors which the Senate should take into account in reaching such decisions include - (I) A continuing recognition of the fact that the House of Representatives is the governing House - that it represents in iis entirety the most recent opinion of the people whereas, because of the system of rotation of Senators, one-half of the Senate reflects an earlier poll; (2.) Whether the matter in dispute is a question of principle for which the Government may have a mandate; if so, the Senate should yield;
In other words, if the popular House has been given a mandate Mr Odgers maintains that the Senate should then yield. The list continues: (3.) The principle that in a two House legislature one House shall be a check upon the power of ihe other; and (4.) the traditional opposition of Upper Houses to extreme measures for which a Government has not a mandate.
I have discussed with my colleagues the question of whether Ministers should be appointed from the Senate. I have discovered that they have mixed feelings on that subject. I have wavered between two opinions, but I now believe that Ministers should be appointed from amongst honourable senators. I hold that view because I believe it is necessary to have in the Senate someone who will propound the Government’s policy. If that view is correct it is necessary then to determine what proportion of the total number of Ministers should be in the Senate. As there are supposed to be approximately half as many senators as members of the House of Representatives, should the Senate have half as many Ministers as the House of Representatives? As there are in fact 60 senators as against 184 members of the House of Representatives, should the Senate have one-third as many Ministers as the other House? Having asked myself those questions I have studied the position in the past. In 1901 there were 3 ministers in the Senate and 9 in the House of Representatives; that is, 25% of the Ministry was in the Senate. In 1941 the percentage had risen to 26% as there were 5 Ministers in the Senate and1 14 in the House of Representatives. In 1951 the percentage dropped slightly to 25%. The decline continued and in 1956’ the proportion had fallen to 23%. In that year the number of Ministers was increased to 22. In 1968 the Senate has 5 Ministers out of total of 26, or only 19%. If Ministers are to be appointed from the Senate a relationship should be fixed as to the proportion to be maintained between Senate Ministers and Ministers in the House of Representatives. This is a matter for individual judgment. I am not saying what f believe the proportion should be - I in 2. or I in 3. A definite relationship should be fixed. 1 turn now to deal with question time in the Senate. Five Ministers in the Senate are asked questions relating to 26 portfolios, lt is utterly ridiculous to expect Ministers to answer questions without notice dealing with matters outside their own portfolios. We have to ask ourselves whether we should not automatically put such questions on the notice paper. 1 would not presume to tell the President his task, but I often wonder why more questions outside the knowledge of Ministers are not ruled to go on the notice paper. I do not mean that, the subjects are necessarily outside the knowledge of a Minister, but I would try to put myself in the position of a Minister who has to answer a question of which he or she has some knowledge but also knows that to attempt to answer it may place the Minister who holds the portfolio and sits in another place in a very difficult position. This is an important factor in the conduct of the Senate. We must not make question time the farce that it quite often becomes when Ministers are asked involved questions that they cannot fairly be expected to answer.
I have been a senator for 9 years and 4 months. In that time the role of the Senate has changed. For a number of years it seemed to continue in the role that it had assumed for itself, but last year I saw what I consider to be dramatic changes in the role of the Senate. Probably last year will go down in history as the vintage year of the Senate. I say that for a number of reasons. Perhaps instead of referring to last year T. should refer to the last 12 months. For the first time in the history of Australia a senator has been elected as Prime Minister. I believe that in the House of Representatives there is a traditional dislike of the Senate. Members of the other place seem to believe that we are here as a body to interfere in what they consider to be their right to govern the country. The appointment of the former Senator Gorton as Prime Minister is a great tribute to the Senate. It proves that the Senate produced a person who was thought fit to be elected as Prime Minister.
In the Senate’s vintage year it emerged as a legislative body in its own particular right. I imagine that the powers were always there but within the last 12 months they were used to call the Senate to meet without being called together by the Executive. Honourable senators will remember that the Senate met to discuss the disallowance of a regulation. It was called together by its own resolution. To my knowledge that has not been done before. The referendum on the nexus between the two Houses produced an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Senate and in the ratio of 2 to 1 between the two Houses. The Senate could well remember that lesson, lt became clear that the Australian people firmly believe in the Senate and in no uncertain way showed that they did not want its powers eroded in any way. The Senate next showed its powers by calling for the production of papers in the debate on VIP aircraft. I remind the Senate that I am outlining events of the last 12 months. The Senate moved into a new role. We sent a number of amendments to the House of Representatives and some were accepted by that House. Practically all the amendments dealt with the rights and liberties of citizens.
Another highlight of the last 12 months has been the setting up of two Senate select committees and one select committee to inquire into legislation. I pay a tribute to Senator Henty, the former Leader of the Government in the Senate, because I believe that he is responsible for the setting up of those committees. T am sure that, he would have used his influence for their establishment long before, but there was resistance to that move by Sir Robert Menzies, the former Prime Minister, who felt that when a committee brought down a report the Government of the day was bound to implement it. I believe it is the right of a government to make its own judgment in respect of the report of any Senate select committee.
I see great value in the Senate’s playing its traditional role. One facet of that role is the committee system. I wish to place on record my belief that Senator Henty is responsible for the setting up of the latest Senate select committees. I hope that now the committee system is in operation it will not be sabotaged by a flood of stupid suggestions for the establishment of Senate select committees. I believe that the number of suggestions on the list at the moment belittles the concept of Senate select corncommittees. I do not want to make this speech provocative and I do not want it to be party political so I say to all honourable senators: ‘Let us not use the committee system for party political purposes, because as soon as we do so it will go out the door.’ I only hope that common sense will prevail. It invariably does when there are as many as 60 elected representatives in a chamber of this kind. “I hope that the committee system will work as it should.
We have a problem in relation to the composition of Senate select committees and standing committees in that 1 1 honourable senators out of the 60 in the chamber are not appointed to them. They are the President, the five Ministers, the Chairman of Committees, the two Whips, the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. One could not expect them to take part in the activities of Senate select committees because of the other duties that occupy their time.
– The Government Whip is chairman of a Senate select committee.
– That is the present position, but I do not think he will be able to do both jobs at once. 1 would not want the position to deteriorate to such an extent that we had to draft senators to serve on committees. One of the most prized opportunities available to a back bencher in the Senate is to serve on a committee. Appointment to a committee should be sought after and gained after contest with one’s fellow senators. If we have too many committees running at the same time we will have to draft senators to serve on them, and that will defeat the purpose of the system.
– What about reducing the number of members on them?
– That is something we must consider. 1 agree that we should reduce the number on a committee from eight or nine to perhaps five. That would achieve the same purpose. I want to raise a matter of interest to the Senate. Both Canada and the United Kingdom set up many standing and joint committees. Let me mention the number of committees on which senators in the Canadian Parliament serve. Senator Baird serves on standing committees dealing with banking, tourist traffic, trade relations, private Bills, transport, finance and divorce. Senator Beaubien is a member of standing committees dealing with standing orders, private Bills, internal, resources, banking, restaurants, tourist traffic, immigration, transport and finance. The complete list of committees is too long to read so with the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate it in Hansard.
STANDING AND JOINT COMMITTEES OF THE SENATE 1st SESSION, 27th PARLIAMENT, 15 ELIZABETH II. 1966
List Showing Distribution of Senators on
The Standing and Joint Committees
The Honourable Senators
Aird, J. B. - Private Bills, Resources’, Transport, Trade Relations, Finance.
Aseltine, W. M. - Banking, Public Buildings, Transport, Finance.
Baird, A. B. - Banking, Tourist Traffic, Trade Relations, Private Bills, Transport, Finance, Divorce.
Basha, M. - Resources, Internal, Tourist Traffic.
Beaubien, A. L. (Provencher) - Standing Orders, Private Bills, Internal, Resources, Banking, Restaurant, Tourist Traffic, Immigration, Transport, Finance.
Beaubien, L. P. (Bedford) - Debates, Trade Relations, Public Health, Private Bills, Finance, Banking, Internal.
Belisle, R. - Resources, Private Bills, Library, Finance, Tourist Traffic, Civil Service, Immigration.
Benidickson, Wm. M. - External Relations. Bishop, C. L. - Debates, Trade Relations, Civil Service.
Blois, F. M. - Civil Service, Divorce, External Relations, Trade Relations, Banking.
Boucher, W. A. - External Relations, Immigration, Resources, Public Health.
Bourget, M. - Internal Economy.
Bourque, R. - Private Bills, Resources, Civil Service, Trade Relations.
Bradley, F. G. - Printing, Divorce.
Brooks, A. J. - Ex officio member of all Standing Committees.
Burchill, G. P. - Banking, Resources, Immigration, Trade Relations. Public Health, Finance, Divorce, Transport.
Cameron, D. - Library, Tourist Traffic. Divorce, Civil Service, Resources, Immigration, Trade
Relations, External Relations.
– ls there any reference to stair.’
– 1 will deal with that aspect now. The committee system just will not work in the way in which we are trying to make it work by using officers of the Senate as secretaries and general factotums. We should have officers of the Senate acting as secretaries to advise the committees on their constitutional rights and powers. Then we must have Committee officers. The Canadian House of Commons has decided to rearrange its Committee setup and has called for the appointment of thirteen committee officers who will do nothing else but attend to the servicing of committees. It has also called for seven stenographers.
– Is that a recent, decision by the Canadian House of Commons?
– Yes. It is interesting to see how highly the House of Commons rates these positions. It intends to pay a salary ranging from $9,120 to $10,300 to four of its committee officers. I do not know whether those amounts are in Australian dollars or Canadian dollars. In any case, the persons appointed to the positions must be very highly qualified. Let me cite their duties as set out in the advertisements:
To perform the duties of Committee Clerks in connection with Parliamentary Committees, more specifically: to follow discussions in Committee and to prepare Minutes of Proceedings, to read and review transcripts of evidence of Committees, and to be responsible for the printing thereof; to advise Committees on questions of parliamentary practice and procedures, and on Committees’ terms of reference; to prepare, for use in the House of Commons, copies of bills as reported by Committees, showing amendments, if any.
There is quite a lot more in the list of duties. Let me mention the qualifications that applicants must have:
University graduation or an equivalent combination of formal education (High School graduation) with demonstrated organisational ability and experience in positions of an administrative character; a thorough knowledge of statute law and parliamentary practice and practice; ability to communicate effectively, to carry out research, to exercise sound judgment, and to deal with senior departmental officials, private industry and the general public; personal and physical suitability. Education, practical experience and potential will be influencing factors in determining the classification of successful candidates.
As I have said, the Canadian House of Commons has seen fit to call for the appointment, of 13 committee officers and 7 stenographers as part of its committee setup. That is something that we must look at if we are to make our committee system work. It just will not work if we take officers from the Senate and throw on their shoulders all the duties listed in the Canadian advertisement. If we use them as secretaries we must appoint additional committee officers. lt is interesting to note the emphasis that Great Britain places on standing committees and select committees. In the 1966-67 session of the House of Commons not less than 12 committees were set up to examine 31 Bills whereas in the 9 years and 4 months that I have been in this Senate I have seen only one committee set up to examine a Bill. That is the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources. The House of Commons also set up 16 select committees and 2 joint committees. Those committees break up into sub-committees. For example, the select committee to examine the Estimates breaks up into 7 subcommittees, the select committee on House of Commons services breaks up into 5 subcommittees and the select committee on nationalised industries breaks up into 3 sub-committees.
The Canadian House of Commons committee system works on similar lines. In 1966 it had 16 Senate standing committees.
– How many senators are there in Canada?
– I do not know. 1 should have checked that. Apart from select committees, the House of Commons has 23 standing committees and 8 joint committees functioning. They cover a wide variety of subjects - agriculture, forestry, rural development, broadcasting, films, assistance to the arts, Crown corporations, drug costs and prices, external affairs, trade, economic affairs, fisheries, health, welfare, housing, urban development and public works. I have named only about one-third of them. In the United States in 1966 there were some 16 standing committees of the Senate. There were 2 select committees and 2 special committees, one on ageing and the other on the organisation of Congress. ft is of interest that the United States uses the system of sub-committees in relation to standing committees. There were some 98 sub-committees of standing committees. For instance the Armed Services Standing Committee broke itself up into 5 sub-committees dealing with investigation of preparedness, national stockpiling and naval petroleum reserves, central intelligence, status of the forces and officer grade limitations. Standing committees of the United States House of Representatives numbered about 20 and it also appointed special committees of the House. For instance, one was appointed to investigate the problems of small businesses. In addition to committees of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, Congress also had joint committees of both Houses. There were 1 1 congressional joint committees, 19 joint commissions - as distinct from committees - and 6 joint boards. These broke up into sub-committees, of which there were about 14. 1 hope that I have not bored the Senate by relating what is happening in other parts of the world. If our system is to work effectively we must acknowledge the importance of the staffing of our committees. Someone asked how many senators there were in Canada. This brings to my mind another question. If we have this great number of select committees and standing committees how are we to handle them? 1 point out that Senator Kennedy of the United States has a staff of 43 people. One United States senator has 39 different assignments. In other words, he is serving on 39 sub-committees, joint committees and similar bodies. This can be done only by virtue of the fact that he has this colossal staff.
– Some of those staff members are paid by Senator Kennedy himself.
– I hope the honourable senator will bear with me. Senator Kennedy’s staff of 43 is one of the largest. A document that I have shows that the staff numbers of senators vary between 15 and 40, the average being about 18. A senator who represents fewer than 3 million people - not electors - is allowed for payment to his personal office staff an amount of $190,800. A senator representing more than 3 million but fewer than 4 million people is allowed $203,400. A senator who represents between 4 million and 5 million people - this would be the position in New South Wales today, so we may take the case of Senator Anderson or, better still. Senator Cotton - is allowed $214,400. So one can see that the extensive committee system operating in America is possible only by virtue of the fact that a backbench senator has the right to employ a colossal staff. I do not think this would be expected here.
– How many would Mr St John get?
– That is quite a good point; T do not know. What I have been saying points to the fact that we must have committee officers if our committee system is to work. The Australian Senate standing committees do a tremendous amount of work which I suggest goes unnoticed and unrecognised by the general public. We know about it because we see our colleagues in operation. I pay particular tribute to the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which is a vigilant watchdog of the liberty and the rights of the individual. Since I have been here, to my knowledge it has never failed to have the courage to stand up to unpopular decisions which quite often conflict with and embarrass the government of the day. It is lo be congratulated on its work which, incidentally, is carried out by the members of the Committee in an honorary capacity. The term of a senator here is 6 years. I think that that is an appropriate term; I suppose cynics would say that every senator would say that it was appropriate. My experience is that it does give senators a chance to become far more expert than they would otherwise be in the operations of the various committees on which they serve. Quite often one finds that a senator will serve for 6 years on a committee. This continuity of service does give far more expert knowledge in a particular field.
Anyone who has studied legislative houses in action could not fail to agree that, the Senate’s examination of Bills is one of the most thorough in the .world. This is because Bills go through the Committee of the Whole clause by clause whereas in the House of Representatives - someone may pick me up on this - about 80% of Bills are not referred to the Committee of the Whole for detailed examination. I really believe that the House of Representatives relies for the thorough examination of bills on the intense scrutiny and probing by the Senate. In ‘Australian Senate Practice’ Mr Odgers states that two sieves must be better than one. I believe that the House of Representatives recognises that legislation has to go through the Senate sieve. Because I believe the Australian Senate is one of the most important chambers in the world 1 believe that the position of President of the Senate is one of the most important positions in the Australian political structure. I pause to pay tribute to you, Mr President, for having served for a record term and having become known to all of us for your fairness, your friendliness and the very great personal contribution you have made towards upholding the prestige of the Senate. T suppose everyone who comes to this place is considered to be ambitious. As far as I am concerned, I would far sooner be President of the Senate than hold any other position how I rate the presidency of the Senate. in the federal parliamentary structure, including that of Prime Minister. This is
I do not. think many people in this chamber realise the colossal turnover in the personnel of the Senate in the 9 years and 4 months since I have been here, which does not seem very long. In the new Senate, as it will be on 1st July 1968 - only 3 months away - there will be only seventeen of the senators who were here when I came to the Senate 9 years and 4 months ago. In 9 years and 4 months .1 have seen fortyeight, actual changes of personnel. There have been actually fifty-one changes, but three of those were people who were elected, who left and who later returned. Fifty-one changes in a Senate of sixty in less than 10 years is a colossal turnover. Of the sixty who were here when I first came, nine have died in office in the last 9 years and 4 months. They were Senators Poulter and Sandford of the Australian Labor Party, Senators Reid and Wade of the Australian Country Party and Senators Pearson, Sir Shane Paltridge, Vincent. Sherrington and Hannaford of the Liberal Party. I include Senator Hannaford because he was elected as a Liberal. In 9 years and 4 months nine senators have died in office and twelve of the sixty who were here when I came have died out of office. Nineteen out of sixty have died in 9 years. I took the opportunity to check these figures. I cite them against the background that from 1.901 to the 1967 elections only 283 people in Australia have been elected as senators. Since the elections in 1967 Senator Greenwood has been added to that list, which makes it 284 senators. On 1st July this year seven new senators will be sworn in, plus three who have been here before-Senators Byrne. Buttfield and Withers. The total will be 301 senators out of a population of 12 million. The longest period served by a senator was that of Sir George Pearce of Western Australia, who served continuosly for 37 years 3 months and 2 days. Senator Sir Walter Cooper has had a total, in two periods, of 36 years. The average period served ‘by senators since 1901 - and I believe this is of interest - is 9 years 11 months. In other words, I have 7 months to go before I complete the average time. It is of interest to note that the Senate has produced two Acting Prime Ministers in Sir George Pearce and Sir William Spooner.
It is of interest to note in passing the interchange of people between the two Houses. Those who went from the Senate to the House of Representatives were Sir Keith Wilson, Sir Philip McBride, and Senators Badman and Gorton, in all the years only two have gone from the House of Representatives to the Senate and they were Senator George Rankin and Senator Fitzgerald, who is still with us. 1 could be wrong.
– What about Senator Guy?
– I am sorry. I said that 1 could be at fault in that. I have a lot more material here, but I will use it at another time. I understand that Senator Wilkinson wishes to speak in the debate. I close my speech by paying a tribute, with which I think all honourable senators will agree, to the magnificent work, the loyalty and the complete dedication that the officers and staff of the Senate show to us. They constantly and jealously guard its principles and its prestige.
– I am sorry that Senator Branson has had to cut short his very interesting remarks. 1 hope the Senate will have the opportunity of hearing the rest of his research at some future time. I certainly found his speech most absorbing. At this late stage I will endeavour to cut my remarks short. I had considered withdrawing from the debate altogether. There are one or two matters that I particularly want to mention and I shall mention these as concisely as 1 can out of deference to the opportunity that we now have of closing the debate on the Address-in-Reply.
Firstly I joint with my other Senate colleagues in congratulating Senators Laucke and Greenwood on their maiden speeches. Although I agreed with quite a lot of what they said, I was not entirely happy about the remarks made by Senator Laucke in relation to drought bonds, lt seems to me that in the particular approach that we are making to the problems of the primary producer, a national industry should be a national responsibility and the individual producer should not have to look after his own problems when he is facing up to drought conditions. Senator Greenwood’s speech was most absorbing. As a person who calls himself a bush lawyer only, I was very interested in what the honourable senator said with regard to appeals to the Privy Council.
Before I deal with the omissions from the Governor-General’s Speech, I would say that the Speech itself was a good one, with the exception of those omissions. I wish to refer to a matter that has been mentioned a number of times by various speakers - the question of aggression in Vietnam. I was pleased that Senator Cavanagh was able to incorporate in Hansard a very comprehensive report of the proceedings and debates of the 90th Congress of the United States of America, held on 9th May 1967. What 1 want to do in a few quick sentences is to bring this report practically up to date, to about 20th February of this year. I took up the point, because one honourable senator mentioned that we were fighting against aggression. Although I do not intend to say whether we are fighting against aggression or who was the aggressor in the first instance - and I have my own opinion on it - I do want to point out that there may be some doubt. The way in which I want to emphasise the point is to show what took place in the United States Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on 4th August 1964 when Senator Lausche asked Mr McNamara:
Do you know how many of the torpedoes were set in motton and what small arms were used at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident?
Mr McNamara replied:
It is difficult to estimate. This was a very dark night. The attack was carried out during the dark, the hours of darkness. It was a premeditated attack, a preplanned attack, lt was described as an ambush in the reports from the commanders, but because it was night it is very difficult to estimate the total amount of fire.
It was on that statement made by Mr McNamara, which was taken to the Senate the following day, that the Senate and the Congress almost unanimously passed a vote of confidence in President Johnson. In the Senate it was carried by 88 votes to 2; in the Congress on the same date, by a vote of 416 to nil. It was a practically unanimous decision. It was on that information that the United States started its action against North Vietnam. There were some doubts held even among people who had heard the statement at that time as to whether it was correct. There was no way of finding out anything different until the
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this year approached Mr McNamara and asked him to make another statement. It did this because it had heard that there was some other evidence available which showed that the facts as presented on 4th August 1964 were not quite the case. When Mr McNamara found that there was some information available which had not come before the people of the United States he made a statement to the Press. He made the statement prior to Senator Fulbright, who was Chairman of the Committee, giving a report. Mr McNamara tried to beat the gun. This is what Mr McNamara said in, I think, early February this year:
At about 9.39 p.m. both Maddox and Turner Joy-
Those were the two American warships - opened fire on the approaching craft when it was evident from their manoeuvres-
From their manoeuvres, not from any shots that had been fired. that they, were pressing in for attack positions. At about this time, the boats were at a range of 6,000 yards from Maddox when the radar tracking indicated that the contact had turned away and begun to open in range. Torpedo noises were then heard by the Maddox’s sonar.
It was because of this torpedo noise that the report was given to the Commander and they opened fire. At the Committee hearing, Senator Fulbright said:
We were . . . discussing … a message that had been sent by Commander Herrick of the task force.
He was on board the ‘Maddox’. lt reads, ‘Review of action makes many recorded contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful. Freak weather effects and overeager sonarmen may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings by Maddox. Suggest complete evaluation before any further action.’ . . .
That was the report that was sent by Commander Herrick at that time. So it seems to me that we need to be very careful when trying to pin aggression on one person or another. We ought to be looking at the humanitarian side of the situation in Vietnam,
The next matter that caused me concern relates to the age pensioners. They did not get helpful consideration. The Governor-General did mention that a committee would be set up to look at the whole field of social services, but nothing specific was said about attention being given to age pensioners. I felt fairly confident that this subject would be mentioned in the Speech. I hope that the subject will be dealt with in legislation associated with the Budget for the next financial year.
The Governor-General’s Speech covered nine printed pages. One of those pages was devoted to the Northern Territory and ‘o Papua and New Guinea. But there was not one mention of the wool industry which accounts for one-third of our export earnings. I was very concerned about this omission because in my recent journeys throughout the south west of Western Australia 1 found that the small wool growers were extremely perturbed about their situation at the present time.
– Why does the honourable senator stipulate small wool growers?
– When I refer to small wool growers I am thinking of those who have 3,000 sheep or fewer.
– They are vulnerable.
– Yes. I was talking to people who have up to 3,000 sheep. There are about 11,000 such growers in Western Australia. Senator Prowse may correct me if I am wrong. I found that quite a number of the men I met were very concerned about the future of their industry. They believe that unless the industry is assisted it will go out of existence. By assisted’ I. do not mean assistance in the form of bounties or subsidies. I mean assistance in the sense of making the industry more efficient, both in marketing and in actual sales, so that it will continue to be a valuable industry for Australia. Costs in the wool industry are tremendous. I note a statement of Mr Sewell, President of the Farmers Union (Wool Section) in Western Australia. In a broadcast address which he gave the other day he said that it costs $27 for a bale of wool to. go from the shed to the mill. If that cost is added to the cost of shearing and the cost of putting the wool into the bale we find that the producer. is up for between $35 to $40 out of the return he receives for his bale of wool. This is the sort of thing that really concerns pastoralists. They are wondering whether they should forget about sheep and move into the cattle industry. I know that a lot of them are cutting down on sheep this year and growing more wheat. They are really concerned about this problem and it is one that we, as a Government, should be looking into.
These are the matters that I particularly wanted to mention. I did have a number of other points in mind but in view of the time, Mr President, I will not continue. I am grateful to honourable senators for extending the sitting beyond our usual time in order to complete the Address-in-Reply debate. I hope that in the coming months the Government will give consideration to our age pensioners, to the wool industry and to the Post Office. I hope that laudable matters mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech will be given effect in legislation during the year but I particularly hope that the matters T have mentioned will receive attention.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to-
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such honourable senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I have ascertained that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the AddressinReply to his opening Speech at Government House on Thursday, 4th April, at 4.30 p.m.
I extend an invitation to all honourable senators to accompany me on the occasion of the presentation.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 27 March (vide page 379), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to make some formal amendments to the principal Act which was passed by this chamber in November last year. The debate on that legislation was hurried, considering the vast extent of the subject matter that was incorporated tn it. Since that time there have been dramatic developments in the exploration for the exploitation of oil, particularly in the Bass Strait area.
The first amendment proposed by this Bill is made necessary by the abolition of the former Department of Territories and the division of its responsibilities between the Department of the Interior, which now has control over the Northern Territory, and the new Department of External Territories, which has control over the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This amendment is a logical consequence of the change in the situation that existed when the principal Act. was passed last year. No comment needs to be made on it. It is a machinery amendment. Secondly, a mistake was made in the drafting of the original legislation. Clause 4 of the Bill corrects a reference in Section 146 of the principal Act. That section deals with transitional arrangements in respect of the Barracouta and Marl in fields production licences. Before the principal Act was passed there was an arrangement with the Victorian Government in respect of those licences. Section 146 of the principal Act refers to a licence granted under section 43 of the Act. This should have read ‘section 44’. So this Bill brings that section into proper shape.
The dramatic changes that have occurred since the original legislation was passed can be illustrated by the fact that earlier estimates of the potential of the Bass Strait oilfield were 160,000 barrels of crude oil a day, but now it is estimated, according to a recent statement by the Esso-BHP company, that by 1970 that oilfield will be producing 240,000 barrels a day. Such production figures represent a very important factor in the Australian economy. Comparisons with other countries that have been in the oil business for a great number of years do not make a very great impression, but to us in Australia this is a tremendous oilfield. The repercussions that it will have on the whole Australian economy are very difficult to estimate.
The original legislation, which is to be amended slightly and formally by the Bill now before us, dealt with the arrangement which was made between the Victorian Government and the oil search companies prior to the passage of the Commonwealth legislation and which was ratified by that legislation. The consequences of the whole matter of the discovery and exploitation of oil resources spread right out to cover such vast matters as trade relationships, the balance of payments and defence. Quite rightly, the matter has been referred to a Senate select committee which presently is sitting and which realises the vast scope of the subject that has been referred to it. At the time of the establishment of the select committee quite a lot of heat was generated, there was a controversy and certain battles of tactics were engaged in, particularly on whether the select committee should investigate the matter before or after the legislation was passed. A compromise was arrived at and the select committee was set up after the Senate had placed its imprimatur on the legislation. The matters that were referred to the select committee were:
It would seem quite proper for this chamber to place a limitation on the time during which the provisions of the Act as amended by this Bill shall continue in force, in view of the fact that the select committee is examining so many aspects of this matter at the present time. So at the committee stage we intend to move an amendment to clause 4 which will have the effect of adding the following sub-section to section 146:
This section shall continue in force for a period of twelve months from the date of its commencement and no longer.
The main purpose of that amendment, is to allow the full extent of the effects of the new discoveries to be ascertained. These discoveries are relatively new. They have hit us like a whirlwind. Whereas a few years ago Australia was a relatively small producer of oil in certain areas, it is now approaching the stage at which about 60% of its crude oil needs will be produced from the Bass Strait field alone.
– Is this the amendment that was moved in another place yesterday?
– Yes, it is the same amendment.
– This is the States’ House and the honourable senator is representing the State of Tasmania?
– The States and the Commonwealth have come to a very amicable agreement, provided everything goes well. I will be most interested later to investigate that line and to see to what extent either the States or the Commonwealth are protected in the event of anything going wrong with this agreement which, on the face of it, looks like a very amicable agreement.
The two amendments which the Bill proposes to make are not controversial. Really they are formal amendments. But the Opposition does feel that while the Senate has readily available to it the facilities to enable it to have a look into the whole subject of the offshore oil resources of this Commonwealth we should look into the matter of the present discoveries, the present licences, the present royalties and the constitutional aspects as these will affect the States. We feel that the suggested limitation of 12 months would mean that in that time we would receive the report by the Senate select committee that is inquiring into this petroleum legislation. When the appropriate time comes in Committee. I will move that this section continue in force for a period of 12 months from the date of its commencement.
– in reply - I have listened with a great deal of interest to Senator O’Byrne. 1 am interested lo know that the amendment that he proposes to move in Committee is identical with the amendment that was moved by the Opposition in another place yesterday. I am wondering how much cognisance the Labor Parly has taken of the procedures leading up lo the granting of subsidies to oil producers in Australia. The procedures go back to 1964 when the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) decided to seek a report from the Tariff Board on crude oil.
The Tariff Board was asked on 1 1th November 1964 to present a report on crude oil by 31st July 1965. The Minister said that the Government, when it received the expected report from the Tariff Board in 1965, would give consideration to its recommendations and would enter into an agreement or would give a guarantee respecting a price which would be sufficiently large to encourage oil exploration by oil companies in Australia and in the areas adjacent to Australia.
The whole reason for this guarantee was to encourage companies to find oil. The Government has had its policy on oil exploration for some considerable time. 1 am sure that honourable senators will be interested to know that certain measures have been taken by the Government in the hope of encouraging the search for oil in Australia. One has been a drilling concession of up to 50% on approved sites for holes in Australia. The second measure has been the granting of taxation exemptions for people contributing to companies engaged in the search for oil in Australia. These people may write off their total costs by way of income tax concessions if they wish to participate in an oil float by way of application, allotment and calls. The third method was to provide an increased price for the production of crude oil so that Australia could quickly become self sufficient in oil. The fourth was that work of exploration by the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources in its search for locations of oil, particularly involving seismographic studies, was stepped up.
– And petrol has become dearer all the time.
– The price of petrol is npt dearer when compared with petrol prices in other countries. I feel that what we are discussing would be more appropriate to the Committee debate. But before I resume my seat I wish to inform the Senate that the Government has promised the oil companies that the arrangements agreed to will operate for 5 years after the presentation of the report by the Tariff Board. Thus means that the agreement will not finish until 1970.
J wish to refer to the statement by the Minister for Trade and Industry when he placed this matter before the Tariff Board on 11 th April 1964. 1 will not read the whole report: the section to which 1 direct attention is:
The Government recognises that both the search for oil and the development of costly facilities to utilise that oil when found can best be undertaken if the Government’s policies to operate are known for some considerable time ahead. The Government in examining the report of the Tariff Board will have in mind establishing principles which will continue until 1970 when they will be reviewed.
Now, Mr Acting Deputy President, the Australian Labor Party has produced an amendment which, if it is carried, will mean that the agreement in relation to the offshore oil fields adjacent to Gippsland will operate for a further 12 months only. The agreement will conclude on 28th March 1969. The companies involved in the search for oil are committed to expend Si 50m to bring these oil fields into production.
– Did not the oil companies start their explorations before the agreement?
– The companies did not start this before 1964 because the fields were not found then. The companies have now found these fields and the Opposition proposes to say to companies that are spending SI 50m: ‘We will break the Government’s agreement as far as you are concerned.’
– How much annually is involved in this subsidy?
– What will happen is that the Opposition’s amendment, if carried, will drive the oil companies that are searching for oil in Australia away from this country.
– We could not push them away with a bulldozer.
– This is factual.
– The Government has given the companies millions of dollars.
– These companies will not deal with a government that breaks its word. The Government has given its word that nothing further will be done until .1970.
– The Government has no right to give its word. The only body that cun make such a promise is this Parliament.
– 1 do nol wish to argue about that matter. I am telling the Leader of the Opposition what the Government has done. I am telling the Senate that, because of the policies of this Government, by 1970 Australia will produce oil to meet at least 60% of its annual oil requirements. If I am any judge, by 1974 or 1975 Australia will have its own- oil supply and, in fact, will bc in a position to export oil. This oil has been found under the policies announced by the Government from time to time. We have discussed the question of oil in this chamber on many occasions. We know very well what the Socialist’s policy is. lt is that the Government will get oil for itself. Senator Murphy is trying to interject. I would not interject if I were he because in this chamber a little time ago he said that when the Labor Party gets into power it will build a gas pipe line from Barrow Island lo Perth. But there was very little gas at Barrow Island. There is nothing to prevent the Labor Party, if and when it becomes the Government, from building a pipeline from Barrow Island to Perth. But there would not be any gas flowing through it and it would cost S40m or S50m.
At the end of the last session of this Parliament when the Petroleum (Sub merged Lands) Bill was before us, we agreed to set up a select committee. That committee is operating, lt will come forward with its decision to the Senate, 1 suppose, within the next 12 or 18 months. Those findings can be considered by the Government and brought into force in 1970 when the Government’s promise to the oil companies has been honoured. No doubt the Committee will look at these proposals. This Bill will be debated more fully at the Committee stage, but I would ask honourable senators opposite to take full cognisance of the fact that if its proposed amendment is carried and if it is adopted in another place it will mean that we have lost faith with the oil companies which are searching for oil off the Gippsland coast.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses I to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section 146 of the Principal Aci is amended by omitting from paragraph (a) of sub-section (2.) tile figures ‘4.V and inserting in their stead the figures ‘44’.
– I move:
I believe that the Opposition case has been strengthened by the attitude that the Minister for. Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) took during his second reading speech and during his reply to the second reading debate. He failed to state that some of the subsidies to which he has referred will extract, on the figures that have been proffered by the companies, $90m per year from the Australian taxpayers and eventually from the Australian motor user. Senator Scott referred to an investment of $150m. Of course, that investment will grow as new fields are discovered. Tremendous amounts of capital are involved in this venture and this subsidy has become more or less a gift to the major oil companies which have had the good luck to find these fields.
These companies are testing further and are finding that the perimeter of the field is widening. Almost every few weeks we hear of the partial success or success of some new drilling, ft means that, as the fields are widened the income to the companies will increase. Correspondingly, of course, the royalties that are payable on a proportionate basis to the State in which the particular field is located and to the Commonwealth will increase. When the Moonie field was discovered the parties came to an agreement on the basis of the price obtaining at the time of overseas crude oil. That agreement was suitable under the circumstances. But here we have a much larger field which has closer access to ready markets in Melbourne, Geelong and other densely populated areas, and there is the prospect that a pipe line will take the gas further afield. All those factors make this discovery a much more profitable proposition to the companies which have had the good fortune to discover it. But seeing that the situation has changed so dramatically, there should be a review of the position at the earliest possible opportunity. As I said earlier, I believe that this opportunity has presented itself to the Senate which has set up a select committee. The committee’s report, can be presented within 1 2 months and that is the period of time which the amendment is designed to cover.
– We are dealing with an amendment that is directed to section 146 of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. The purpose of that section was that by the joint operation of the legislation of the six States and of this Parliament, there should be assured to the licensees of the Barracouta and Marlin fields a title that was equivalent to the production licence expressed in section 44 of the Act. That approach was made by the seven Parliaments of the Commonwealth because the States had pioneered the legislative field of offshore petroleum before the Commonwealth entered the field. Each State had legislated for the licensing of oil exploration companies with regard to the discovery of oil. But realising that there ought to be a secured title, and there being a doubt as to which of the Parliaments - State or Federal - had the constitutional authority to issue a valid title in respect of the continental shelf, all seven Governments of the Commonwealth came together and unanimously agreed upon the terms of the legislation. That involved the recognition of any licences that had been issued by the State to date. Hence section 146 of the Act is couched in those terms.
The purpose of that section was to assure to the Victorian licensees that they would have not only the backing of the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, but also the united agreement of all State governments so that there should not be any parallel authority in the Commonwealth that would be disputing that title. Why was it. so important that the legislation should receive approval of this Parliament last year? The importance lay in the fact that we should give our approval to the continuance of the expansion of this industry and the establishment of the BHP-Esso group in the Barracouta and Marlin fields.
It will be remembered that in the Senate there was recognition of the claim of the Prime Minister that the public interest required the passage of that portion of the legislation so that the entrepreneurs - the licensees - should have security of title guaranteed in order to warrant the huge expenditures they would incur if they were to continue their exciting development of those fields. The legislation was approved by this Parliament, and section 146 was expressed with the purpose of this Parliament behind it that the licensees of the Barracouta and Marlin fields should have a licence equivalent to a production licence referred to in section 44 of the Act. However, by an accident of the printer, ‘43’ was printed instead of ‘44’. The sole purpose of the clause that the Senate is now discussing is to correct that error, because it is in section 44 that provision exists in respect of production licences. It is to this completely unimportant and casual provision in clause 4 of the Bill, which is designed simply to correct a misprint in an Act passed last year, that the Labor Party now proposes an amendment. What is the purpose of that amendment? It is to deprive of a title after this day 12 months hence licensees to whom by the passing of the Act last year we gave an assurance of unquestioned title.
T cannot think that any responsible member of this Parliament would adopt the attitude towards people who are induced to develop our oil industry - or to persons engaged in any major business transaction - that the occasion of correcting a misprint should be seized upon for the purpose of suggesting a substantial repudiation of the very title which it was the purpose of the principal Act to secure. 1 believe that the Labor Party is doing a great disservice to the national cause and to its own interest in suggesting a repudiation of that character. lt should be remembered that the licensees of the fields have committed for their development $150m, in an enterprise involving literally the employment of thousands of men.
Australia is on the threshhold of development of an industry so exciting that the major portion of oil for our use is expected to bc supplied from finds off our own coastline in the early 1970s. With all that is involved in the production of that oil and its distribution among our industries, and the employment potential, is there anybody here who can summon a rational basis for suggesting that this is the occasion, when we are correcting a misprint in legislation, to curtail to I year a title which in November last we assured the licensees would be good for 21 years? 1 do not wish to go into all the details of the company development at the time of the passage of the legislation and since. The Senate has agreed to the establishment of its own Committee to review the legislation. Under the terms of reference of the Committee every provision in the legislation is within its authority to examine.
I am not speaking now to seek confidence in myself because, as I have joined the Ministry, I have resigned from the Committee and my place as chairman has been taken by Senator Cotton. 1 had the privilege to preside over the first meeting of this most resolute Committee and .1 got the feeling that it has great purpose, as of course the Senate intended it to have. The Government assented to the appointment of the Committee, honourable senators will remember, and I ask the Senate to show its continuing confidence in the Committee. We will rest on the Committee’s decision and take its recommendation into account when considering an appropriate reorgani sation of the industry. For honourable senators tonight to curtail by their vote security of title which was the very purpose of the principal Act, after we have already constituted our own Committee to consider the whole scheme, would be unfortunate to say the least of it.
I rejoiced when Senator Branson said this afternoon that the Senate had emerged last year as a purposeful and deliberative arm of the legislature. We will only retain the regard of the people if we act responsibly, in regard to an industry that is so vital to our defence and prosperity I appeal to honourable senators to leave to our Committee any appropriate revision such as is implied in the proposed amendment and not now to intervene on such considerations as we have been able to give, to curtail a title which was the very purpose of last year’s legislation. At that time we assured the companies continuity of involvement, with investment of $150m and the employment of thousands of men.
– I will be as brief as I possibly can, but I am rather anxious to say something on this matter because, as Senator Wright mentioned, his place on the Committee was taken by Senator Greenwood and the Committee did me the honour of electing me as its chairman. I want to refer to discussions that took place in November last year when, after a very exhaustive and, I thought, thorough debate the Senate agreed to set up a committee to examine the legislation, its full effects and the plans and proposals it contained, under the terms of reference that Senator O’Byrne read. The Committee comprises four Government members, one member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and three members of the Australian Labor Party. 1 regard it as an honour to ‘be Chairman of this Committee and I report to the Senate at this stage that we are all working exhaustively and thoroughly at a job which we have all found to be worth while and absorbing, but very time consuming. We arc doing our best on behalf of the Senate. Last November the Senate vested in us this fairly serious and responsible matter. We take it to be so. We do not take it lightly. 1 am disturbed by the attitude the Opposition has adopted to the appointment of select committees. I regard select committees as a great step forward and something which, in due course, will make the Senate a much more important factor in Australian political life. I am sure it will be held in the highest regard by the community. This is something very dear to me and, indeed, to all honourable senators. I am concerned at what I believe to be an attempt to make a mockery of the Senate and its committees. That is how the Opposition’s attitude has appealed to me. I am rather sorry that we have had that kind of development. 1 want to raise another matter, but I. will not deal with it in any exhaustive sense. From time to time we have had many comments from the Opposition about the work of committees, how much more work we should do with committees and how seriously we should regard them. We have been trying to do that. We have had two committees working for some time, the committee dealing with the container method of handling cargoes and the committee relating to the introduction of the decimal system of weights and measures. The reports of those committees are due in June 1368. When the reports are submitted, and provided no other committees are created in the meantime, we will have one committee working and the proposed committee now under consideration. On the notice paper there are 2 proposals from the Government and 9 from the Opposition for the setting up of Senate select committees. If we want the Senate to be a chamber of repute and if we want committees to be regarded highly, why make a mockery of the situation? lt would be impossible to staff effectively more than four committees at any one time. If honourable senators do their arithmetic on the proposal they will agree that what I have Said is correct.
Senator O’ Byrne made the point that the Committee will complete its work and submit its report in 12 months, thus allowing the idea contained in the proposed amendment to be viable. Speaking only for myself, having seen the complexity and scale of the job before the Committee of which r have the honour to be Chairman, and realising how much there is to be done, 1 do not want to be bound in any sense by any judgment that 12 months will see the Committee’s work thoroughly and satis factorily concluded on the Senate’s behalf. I would hope that it would be, but this is not a matter which can be prejudged at this time by any member of the Committee. I feel regrettably that what we are doing here is canvassing old arguments that were well and truly canvassed last November. This is serious. Why not let the Committee do its work? Why rock the boat? Why detract from what it is trying to do by regarding it as something to be given a push now and again in one direction or another? We will not get progress in that way.
I make a final comment. During question time this morning the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) asked a question relating to our balance of payments problems in the course of which he detailed figures showing deficiencies through time. If he is really concerned about this and genuinely understands the problem, why does he put some obstacle to Australia becoming self-sufficient in oil, petrol, fuel and fertiliser stock which in due course will reduce our import bill by some $240m a year by 1 970?
– Why should we pay a subsidy of $90m to foreign companies?
– I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition has not sufficient understanding of the balance of payments problem. We want to try to encourage import replacement as actively as we can, and here is one way in which at least §240m a year can be saved by 1970. That, will help us to have a viable economy. I support that kind of economic behaviour; honourable senators opposite hold an opposing view. The capital inflow adds to our security and defence potential so I suggest that the amendment before us is irresponsible and useless. I do not support it.
Senator SCOTT (Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise [8.47] - I have listened to the debate with very keen interest. Let me say, first, that I agree with Senator Wright that we cannot possibly put ourselves into a position in which we, as a government, go back on our word to the oil industry. Following the report of the Tariff Board we promised the oil industry that these concessions would be granted to it for 5 years. That period ends in 1970. Let me say also that the 50c a barrel that we are paying the oil industry in excess of the recommendation of the Tariff Board has actually encouraged the companies to find oil on their offshore leases in Gippsland. It has also encouraged oil companies throughout the world to explore for oil off the Australian coast, even as far north as the Ashmore Reef and the Cartier Reef off north western Queensland. If we want overseas capital to come to Australia to search for oil we must make promises of that kind. We have in this chamber an honourable senator who led a government with great distinction. I understand that to encourage development in his State he, on behalf of his government, made many arrangements with outside organisations to enablethat development to take place.
I have only one further comment. If the proposed amendment is carried it will operate for only 12 months from the commencement of the original Bill, because the proposal is to amend the original Bill, which was assented to on 22nd November 1967. In other words, if the amendment is carried other suggestions will have to be put forward for consideration by the Senate and the Parliament in about 8 months from now. I hope that honourable senators will take due cognisance of the promises the Government has made to oil companies to encourage oil exploration in Australia, and that they will bear in mind the great success that we have had in finding almost 60% of our oil requirements. We can rest assured that, as a result of this Government’s policy, we will be producing in excess of our requirements by the middle of the 1970s.
Thin the words proposed to be left out (Senator O’Hyrne’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative. Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a thirdtime.
Business of the Senate
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– We oppose the motion. The Senate has’ business to be dealt with. The Opposition has business on the notice paper and there are other matters for consideration. The Leader of the Government said that we would sit on Thursday night and we are here. Certainly understandings might have been had in respect of some of the matters to be dealt with but there is a great deal of other business. We cannot agree to the motion.
– in reply - The position in respect of Government Business is quite clearly staled on the business paper. It is proper to say that when we concluded the AddressinReply debate at about 6 p.m. it was anticipated that the debate on the Bill with which we have just dealt would take longer than it did in fact take. It is equally true that we anticipated messages from another place which have not arrived. The items on the business paper relate to matters which would more appropriately lend themselves to debate on a subsequent occasion and in all the circumstances it is proposed that the Senate adjourn now. One of the items concerns a ministerial statement in relation to a payment to Captain Robertson, another to a ministerial statement on the principal seat of the High Court of Australia. There is also to be a debate on international affairs, which will be a major debate because it is based on a major statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). Senator Murphy obtained the adjournment of that debate. I would think that it would be more appropriately resumed next Wednesday.
– Because he suggested it to me and I agreed.
– We tentatively agreed. On Tuesday we shall have General Business after 8 p.m. Consideration of the disallowance of a regulation is also set down for Tuesday. It appears appropriate to debate international affairs on Wednesday. I will move that Item 3 on the Buisness Paper be deferred and that Item 4 be called on. The Senate can proceed to debate Item 4 in the normal way. It is not usual for leaders, who have a responsibility in relation to the management of the House, to find themselves in conflict on the question of the arrangement of business and the adjournment of the Senate. I am sorry that it has happened.
– lt would not be difficult if the Minister were reasonable. Why does not the Minister bring on a proposal for a select committee?
– Obviously the Leader of the Opposition is playing with words. He knows, as we all know - even the most recent member of the Senate knows - that items under General Business are dealt with and will be dealt with on Tuesday night in pursuance of a division last week. The honourable senator is talking in a hypocritical way. If the Leader of the Opposition throws down the challenge I will withdraw my motion. Item 3 will be deferred and I will ask that Item 4 be called on.
– Order! The Senate will have to dispose of the motion that has been moved.
– Then I ask for leave to withdraw the motion. I am sure that even honourable senators opposite appreciate the tactics which the Leader of the Opposition is attempting to employ.
Leave granted; motion withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That discussion of Item No. 3 on the Business Paper be deferred and that Item No. 4 be dealt with.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) has said some harsh and unmerited words. The reality of the matter is that over the last 3 weeks the honourable senator has been given every opportunity. All honourable senators have seen that being done. The Opposition permitted the interruption of the AddressinReply to deal with the torture debate. The Address-in-Reply took longer than it would otherwise have taken. Very early in the piece the Government attempted to abuse the Genera] Business provisions by having one of its back benchers, Senator Laught, ready to move that the Senate take note of a matter obviously of Government business, namely, the statement on the report of the Voyager’ royal commission. Two proposals emanated from the Government - no-one has any doubt that they are Government business - for the establishment of select committees on air pollution and water pollution.
– Is the honourable senator impugning the motives of Senator Henty? If he is, he should say so outright.
– I am not saying anything about the motions. They are good motions. The Government chose a backbencher to put forward the matter in relation to the select committees, instead of doing what was the obvious, proper and decent thing and bringing them forward as Government business. The Opposition has indicated that we are prepared to agree to them. Yet the Government wants to use such a device apparently to delay the discussion of general business. The Senate is able to go ahead and deal with this programme, but we see what happens. Senator Anderson suggested, and I agree to the proposition, that the statement on international affairs be dealt with next Wednesday. Rather than get on to the General
Business honourable senators opposite will waste almost an hour and a half talking about the transference of the principal seat of the High Court to Canberra. I do not agree that that is a sensible way of doing business and of inviting co-operation from this side of the chamber. If the Senate is to be run sensibly there has to be a degree of co-operation. We will want to bring forward matters. All we are asking is that we be given a reasonable opportunity to bring up our business, that it be debated reasonably and that we do not have to go through the nonsense that we saw last year when Senator Davidson deliberately wasted the time of the Senate in order to spell out time. If the Government wants cooperation, it will get it.
We have been reasonably co-operative and we want to continue to be so. V/e want to see the Senate work to the best of its ability. We are prepared to co-operate with the Government. We would like to see the matters handled expeditiously. If the Government tries to peg us down, if it thinks that is the way it will succeed, I can assure it that it will not do so. The Government may be able to frustrate us, but the forms of the chamber, while they can enable one side to be frustrated, also enable the other side to be frustrated. I do not think I am overstating the position. I am endeavouring not to do so. I ask the Government to be prepared to co-operate reasonably with us. Obviously the Government is not ready to proceed expeditiously with any other matter. No doubt it could waste an hour and a half, if it wanted to, by discussing transfer of the principal seat of the High Court to Canberra. The sensible thing is to raise these matters here and now. because they focus on the necessity that there be reasonable co-operation in the House. This is what we want. If the Government intends to waste an hour and a half tonight talking about transferring the High Court from Melbourne to Canberra, we might as well go home. I would like to see a more reasonable attitude shown by the Government in that the discussion of General Business be approached in a proper manner.
Every back-bencher is entitled to put matters on the business paper. I do not suggest for one moment that the position should be different. Apparently the Government is setting out to list as General
Business what is really Government Business. The appearances are that the Government is endeavouring to frustrate us. We would like this to end. If we are mistaken about the Government’s attitude we are prepared to withdraw anything that we have said. But we do not think we are mistaken in our attitude. I look at matters fairly, I believe. We have every reason to believe that attempts have been made, in a crude way, to see that the Opposition was frustrated in its endeavours to have discussed the matters that it wanted dealt with.
The position could be quite serious. As the Notice Paper is now, if we start to deal with the matters listed on it according Hoyle and in the strict order of things, if a Democratic Labor Party senator, for instance, or the independent senator, wanted to bring up a matter under General Business it is quite likely that he would not get a chance to do so for the next 2 years. Such a situation is hardly sensible. Sensible means and a sensible attitude must be adopted to enable everyone in this Chamber to have a reasonable opportunity to have matters dealt with. There are twenty-eight members in the Opposition here.
I tell the Senate frankly that there is one matter which we would like to have dealt with and brought speedily to a vote. I think we are entitled to this and 1 am endeavouring to find ways to do so. This is one of the reasons for the attitude of the Opposition tonight. I think we are entitled to have the matter of the proposed select committee on health and medical costs dealt with. The matter was debated last year but we were frustrated in respect of having it brought to a vote. Is it not reasonable for us to want to have that matter dealt with in the very near future? It could be dealt with reasonably and expeditiously and brought to a vote. If we win, we win; if we lose, we lose. But surely we are entitled to have it brought to a vote. I have the feeling that what was attempted to be done was to prevent this.
– The honourable senator is too tough.
– What 1 said is true. If the rules of procedure of the Senate are used as they have been used then these matters do not have a dogs chance of being discussed within a reasonable time. I would like the Senate to see to it that we have an opportunity of putting matters forward. I would like to have a short time to make the second reading speech on one or both of the Bills that the Opposition wishes to introduce so that honourable senators may consider them for some reasonable time. We have not had a great deal of time to initiate any matters. We have not really initialed anything in the Senate and we ought to have the opportunity to do so. Unless we get the opportunity there will be no co-operation. There is going to be a lot of difficulty in the conduct of the business of the Senate. As we see it at the moment, the difficulties have arisen from the Government side.
Having said that, Mr President - and I am glad to have had the opportunity to do so - if the Government is prepared to take the matter to heart and to co-operate sensibly then I do not see why we cannot go on with any of these other matters. 1 am not here to cause the Senate to sit for an additional li hours if some honourable senator is simply going to waste time by talking for that period. Rather than simply waste time I would be prepared to have the Minister for Supply restore the other motion that, he proposed or to take whatever course he likes. I do not think it would be wise for any of us to sit here for H- hours simply to waste time.
– Mr President, .1 want to make a personal explanation. I do not wish to close the debate as I want to have the opportunity of replying to some of the things that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has said. My discussion with the Leader of the Opposition about the proposed debate on foreign affairs last Wednesday was not conclusive. T discussed the matter as leaders should properly do, each with a degree of confidence in the other regarding the management of the business of the Senate.
– But the Leader of the Government raised it himself.
– I know I raised the matter. I made the point that the arrangement was not conclusive. I made the point with the Leader of the Opposition at the time that this was the proposal I had in mind but that naturally it would have to be cleared in the normal manner with my own people. I want to make that abundantly clear. I have other things to say later, Mr
President, but so as not to close the debate I will leave the matter at that point.
– I must say that I am amazed at the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) at the beginning of his speech when he said that surely the Government does not want to frustrate the Opposition in regard to any matters that it wants to bring forward under the heading of General Business. I would like the Senate to know that it has been generally understood by the Government, until this week, that General Business would be dealt with on Thursday nights; but by a vote of the Senate it was decided that General Business would be dealt wilh on Tuesday nights and Government Business on other days of the week. The Government has a lot of business to bring on. We are not happy that we were defeated on that issue, but the Senate decided that General Business should be taken on Tuesday nights. This is Thursday night. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) moved that the Senate do now adjourn but the Leader of the Opposition rose and said that the Opposition would oppose the motion because it wanted to talk about items under the heading of General Business.
We cannot run the Senate in this way. We must, have an understanding. 1 am sure all honourable senators on this side want to co-operate with members of the Opposition. Having had a little discussion on this matter, the Leader of the Opposition having accepted that he will not. be permitted to bring on items under the heading of General Business unless he wins a vote in this chamber, and having been told that we will continue with the consideration of Government Business, he then said that it would be a waste of time to talk about item No. 4 on the Notice Paper. It really would not be a waste of lime. Still, if he wants it this way then let him have it. We have Government Business to deal with and all responsible senators will realise that, from now on we will deal with General Business on Tuesday nights and with Government Business on Thursday nights.
– I want to add one or two words to this debate, lt seems such a contradiction of the debate we have had over the last few days in which many honourable senators went out of their way to praise and speak of the importance of the work of the Senate. I congratulate Senator Branson on the address he presented today. I think it is worthy of the highest commendation. He stressed the importance of the Senate as distinct from the other place. But why did he do this? He did it because our constitution makes us another house. We should not be tied to a party so much as to the right of individual expression. That then gives each of us an equal right to present a matter to this Chamber on which we desire a decision to be taken. Today Senator Turnbull said that if we cannot get through the business then we should sit for longer periods and for a longer time each day.
– Senator Turnbull went home.
– Senator Turnbull went home knowing that he could see no value in extending the debate tonight but he had confidence in other senators to contribute a lot to the welfare of Australia. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) displayed greater vocal ability when he was a backbencher. He spoke then about the right of individuals to bring matters forward for discussion. When 1 first came into this Chamber the Opposition party had no rights at all other than to oppose Government business. There was never a discussion of a matter under the heading of General Business. Then, we got a leader who made an effort, to have items of General Business discussed, not night after night but one night a week; not exclusively on that night, or for the same time as that occupied by Government Business, but we could discuss items under General business. This was done for the protection of honourable senators on both sides so that we would have an opportunity to discuss items under General Business; so that the Senate could operate as it should operate - as a House in the business of which all members participate and can bring forward for discussion matters that they wish to have discussed.
We succeeded in preserving at least one night for General Business but this did not mean that General Business could not be discussed on any other night. Obviously, it is our duty to discuss such matters whenever the opportunity presents itself. This enables honourable senators other than Government members to exercise the right to bring forward items under General Business. We were assured of having a discussion of matters under General Business one night a week and I believe that the night has been changed from Thursday to Tuesday. Then we saw an attempt by the Government to ensure that no vote was to be taken on any item of General Business, although we could talk for the period allowed. Statements made about the value of this Chamber are destroyed by this action. Last year we saw the efforts made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) to withdraw seven items of General Business from the Notice Paper in order to permit discussion of an important item. Those efforts were rejected by the Senate. On one occasion Senator Davidson from South Australia spent many wearisome minutes talking out time until the lime came to put. the motion for the adjournment. In desperation and contrary to our beliefs, we attempted to apply the gag by moving ‘That the question be now pur’ in order to get. a vote on a motion other than one that a member of the Government had put on the Notice Paper. Then we heard from the members of the Democratic Labor Party the excuse that they never vote for the gag. There is a tie-up so that on no occasion will a matter of General Business go to a vote in this chamber. That is contrary to the high duties of this Parliament about which we heard so much during the Address-in-Reply debate.
Why is it that we have no right to deal with General Business on any night other than Tuesday night? The Senate has a responsibility to deal with notices of motion by allowing an opportunity for discussion of them and for a vote to be taken on them. We have reserved at least one night a week for the discussion of General Buniness presented by any honourable senator. If there is no Government Business that we can usefully debate and vote on, we can deal with other business. Senator Tangney has a notice of motion on the notice paper. Has she not the right to have it considered? Was she not promised by a member of the Government parties last session that her notice of motion would be supported? Where is the harm in bringing that notice of motion before us and letting us vote on it? Surely the Senate has a responsibility to see that General Business is brought before it. One of the purposes of this chamber is to discuss such business. But we have been frustrated. The Government is determined to see that no vote is taken on any matter of General Business. Last session we could not get a vote on any matter of General Business. Then the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) decided to prorogue the Parliament. Thai simply wiped every item off the notice paper. All of the preparation that had been done on those items was worthless. A new notice paper appeared. No discussion or consideration was given to the items on the old notice paper.
An important principle is involved here. If there is no Government Business that we can usefully debate wc should discuss General Business. But members of the Government tell us that we have arranged to deal with General Business on Tuesday night. What we arranged was the right to discuss General Business on Tuesday night, but not necessarily on only one night a week.
– General Business is to take precedence on Tuesday night?
– Yes. If there is no other business to be dealt with on any other night, according to the principles and duties of the Senate we should be allowed to ventilate and have a vote on matters that senators other than members of the Government believe are important matters for consideration by the Senate.
– I very much regret that a matter of this sort should generate a debate on the principle to which Senator Cavanagh has referred. I do not think any member of parliament would dispute the principle that parliament is a place in which the Opposition and individual members should have an opportunity to present their point of view. But the motion that we are debating now, after an indication has been given that the Opposition opposes the adjournment of the Senate, is that instead of going on to deal with the item relating to Captain Robertson, which is inseparably involved with the report of the second ‘Voyager’ Royal Commission which has yet to bc debated in another place because of its way of managing its business - members of that place seem to be able to arrange its business with the proper courtesies and understanding - if the Senate is not to adjourn we should deal with the next item which relates to the principal seat of the High Court of Australia.
It is quite improper for anybody to suggest that discussion of the latter item will involve any attempt by anybody to prolong a debate to no purpose. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) would be the last to imply that that item would not be discussed fruitfully, and more fruitfully if there had been an opportunity for senators to anticipate that it would be debated tonight. If that item is not the one that the Opposition wishes to debate, we come to the item relating to international affairs. It seems to have been the subject of an arrangement between the leaders, no doubt on the assumption that intervening business would take the rest of tonight and Tuesday.
Surely we all have a great deal of work to do. If we do not wish to enter upon a debate on the statement on the principal seat of the High Court, is there any real purpose in continuing this discussion? In most parliaments the leaders of the various Houses - not necessarily the leaders of the parties - have discussions behind the Chair or outside the chamber and meet the convenience of each other according to their representation in the House.
– Why cannot we get onto General Business if it does not suit us to debate Government Business tonight?
– I merely wish to add a little reason to this discussion. On the item relating to the statement on the principal seat of the High Court, I would think that two or three 10-minute speeches would be made if senators were prepared. The item relating to international affairs has been postponed unofficially on the assumption that tonight would be occupied otherwise. Then we come to General Business. In that section of the notice paper Senator Henty has the first notice of motion and the Leader of the Opposition has the second. I did not even expect that that second notice of motion would come on tonight. I believe that it would be unfair to have it presented to the Senate unless we had a reasonably expected opportunity to prepare ourselves.
I do not dispute in the slightest degree the principle that private senators should have an opportunity to present their views. But in the circumstances of tonight let us get on with the motion that we have before us, dispose of it and then consider whether other business should be taken in the order suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. The very spirit of what he put implies that we on this side of the chamber should have a reasonably expected opportunity to prepare ourselves. I think the notice of motion relating to hospital and medical costs is the one with which the Leader of the Opposition wishes to proceed.
– That is so.
– It is not to be supposed, is it, that the Senate will obstruct or use any diversionary tactics to prevent that item coming to debate and to decision? Surely we can reach the stage where we order our business as gentlemen who have business and work to do, if not in this chamber, then outside it.
– in reply - The first thing that I wish to say in reply to what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has said is that he appears to me to lack a deep understanding of the function of this chamber. When we pause to think about it for a moment or two, we all recognise that this is a House of review; that the facilities for the management of this chamber are limited; and that there are problems from day to day because of the flow of business from another place. I have been here for 15 years. Senator Tangney has been here for much longer. She is our elder senator in terms of service here. I am sure she will agree that from time to time we find ourselves in difficulties because we anticipate the arrival of messages from another place which in fact do not arrive.
That is why there has to be a high degree of mutual understanding between the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition and the Government Whip and the Opposition Whip in order to maintain the flow of business in this place As I said earlier, it was anticipated that a series of messages would come from another place today. It was expected that we would see the passage of those Bills today because, apart from the Bill with which we have already dealt, the Bills which were to come to us were of a machinery kind. They stem from the change in portfolios and the necessity arose to record those changes in the statute book. In the event, these messages did not come.
Then, Mr President, we have had the situation regarding the Address-in-Reply debate. Senator Murphy has made some implications about that debate.
– It was interrupted by the debate on the torture incident in Vietnam.
– Any outsider listening to this debate would gain the impression that we on the Government side are terrible people who have frustrated the Opposition and deliberately prolonged the Address-in-Reply debate. I wish to inform the Senate that in fact eighteen Government speakers spoke in the Address-in-Reply debate. Seventeen Labor Party members made speeches in that debate. Wc heard a speech by a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and one independent member spoke in the debate also. In all, thirty-seven speakers addressed the Senate during the Address-in-Reply debate. I wish to remind the Senate that Senator Wilkinson very courteously curtailed his remarks at 5 minutes to 6 this evening. Indeed, Senator Wilkinson on the Opposition side and Senator Branson on the Government side curtailed what they wanted to say in this debate. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) and a member of the Australian Labor Party withdrew from the list of speakers in the Address-in-Reply debate.
– I did too.
– Senator Sir Kenneth Morris reminds me that he withdrew from the debate. Other speakers took this course also. The Government was most anxious to conclude this debate in order to enable a full debate to take place on the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill 1968. This legislation was brought on for debate at 8 o’clock tonight. Any suggestion made by Senator Murphy, in indirect or direct language, that a deliberate attempt was made to frustrate the Australian Labor Party in the debate on the AddressinReply is scandalous. That is a scandalous statement to make.
– I said that the debate was interrupted by the discussion on the torture incident in Vietnam.
– I put it to the Leader of the Opposition that the Labor Opposition was just as keen to debate the Governor-General’s Speech as was the Government. This is our right. It is the inherent right of honourable senators to be able lo speak in that debate which is one of the most important debates in the Senate. For Senator Murphy to make a mockery of it as he is doing shows how inexperienced he is. Now, I come to the second question-
– Do not get too excited.
– If honourable senators give it, they have to take it. 1 am defending the rights of the Senate against an improper assault upon the rights and privileges of senators. 1 will do that when any statement is made suggesting that there cannot be a free and open debate in the Senate on the Governor-General’s Speech.
– Do not be silly. Nobody said that.
– Well, let us come to the implication. This was a shocking implication. It was suggested that Senator Henty had deliberately given notice of a motion for the appointment of a Senate select committee in order to frustrate Senator Murphy. Senator Murphy is being childish because he did not give notice of his motion first. This is where the truth of the matter lies. Senator Murphy wishes to bring on his motion for the appointment of: a select committee to deal with matters relating to health and hospitals. I have said certain things to the Leader of the Opposition. I will not say what I have said to him because that would be breaching the trust of that conversation.
– Senator Henty’s motion is really Government business.
– The fact is that nobody has any prior rights in relation to moving for the appointment of select committees. We cannot distinguish between a Government senator and an Opposition senator. Every senator when he comes to this place is equal. Senator Murphy has to learn that. The fact is that the notice paper shows that the Government has given notice of 2 motions relating to select committees while the Opposition has put 9 such motions on the notice paper.
– The Government put its motions on as items of General Business. Those motions should come under Government Business on the notice paper.
– That is complete and utter nonsense, lt shows that Senator Murphy does not understand parliamentary practices and procedures. Nobody has the right to say that we must distinguish between motions moved by Government senators, independent senators or senators from the Democratic Labor Party. Every senator has certain rights. I once moved for the appointment of a select committee. That committee was appointed. The fact is that Senator Murphy is trying to say that the Opposition should have complete right to move for the appointment of all select committees. He suggests that when a Government member wishes to propose the appointment of a select committee he must do so under the heading of Government Business. Senator Murphy should study our parliamentary practice. Where do we read such nonsense as he has spoken? Let Senator Murphy show us some precedent. If Senator Murphy put this proposition forward in any Parliament of the Commonwealth, he would be laughed out of court. The fact is that Government members have moved for the appointment for two select committees.
– The Minister is like Don Quixote; he is tilting at windmills.
– Unfortunately for Senator Murphy, Senator Henty in good faith has raised a very serious matter, which affects the whole world, for consideration by a select committee. This is the question of air pollution. Senator Henty has put his motion on the notice paper and if it is carried senators from both sides of this chamber may become members of an all party select committee.
– Why do we not discuss it?
– It will be discussed next Tuesday night. If on next Tuesday night we reach a conclusion on that matter, the second item on the notice paper under General Business will be called on. This is Senator Murphy’s motion in relation to health and hospitals. If we get through that matter before 10.30 that night, the third matter listed under General Business will be called on.
– The Government will see that we do not get to that motion.
– The thing that appals me is that the Opposition must suspect the Government’s actions all the time. Senator Henty has had a long and distinguished career during which he has been Leader of the Government in the Senate. But the Opposition waits until Senator Henty is not here so that Senator Murphy can cast doubts on his integrity as a parliamentarian. I think that this is appalling. To suggest that Senator Henty put this motion on the notice paper - a motion concerning a matter which is of such profound importance - for improper motives is unworthy of the honourable senator.
The facts of life are that the Government is calling on the fourth item on our business sheet. The debate on that matter may not take much time. If the leaders in the Senate can come to some agreement at the end of that exercise, and if we can come to some understanding, the Senate may adjourn then. If we do not reach that understanding, we will proceed to debate the fifth item on our business sheet about which Senator Murphy and I have already had conversation. I do not want to call that item on tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 March (vide page 289), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– Mr President, I presented this statement to the Senate on behalf of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). I rise to make only two observations for the purpose of indicating that I expect that in some quarters of the Senate views will be expressed. The High Court of Australia up to date has adopted the practice of sitting at least once a year in Full Bench sessions in the capital of every State. If, as the statement implies and states, the High Court Full Bench sittings are to be in Canberra with exceptions to some extent concerning Sydney and Melbourne, this will involve a reorientation of business as far as Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart are con cerned. That, of course, has some influence upon the legal profession to practise in the High Court. But the importance of this statement is that it has an effect upon the clients whose business comes before the Court by way of appeal. This proposal will involve inevitably increased expenses although it may be reasonably expected to contribute to the increased efficiency of the Court. I simply mention these matters because although the proposal concerns a legal question, it intimately affects the right of audience in the court on behalf of parties far away from Canberra.
– The decision to move the site of the High Court of Australia to Canberra is one which I am sure will be welcomed by those who recognise the standing which the High Court has achieved throughout the world. It is not a decision which has suddenly been made in the sense that it is a novel idea or an intention which has suddenly come to the Government’s mind. It was recognised from the days when the High Court was first established that its site should be in Canberra or at the seat of Government, and since 1927 it has been a matter for decision by the Government as to when the transfer should take place.
I suppose that one of the reasons why the transfer has not taken place at an earlier date has been the fact that the movement of the High Court from capital to capital has kept the High Court in touch with the practitioners of the law and has given to practitioners, particularly those in Perth, Hobart, Brisbane and Adelaide who would not in the normal course see the judges of the High Court, an opportunity to see the eminent jurists of this nation. This has been a right which I know in the smaller capitals has been valued over the years. But whilst this has been a service which has been given by the High Court in its itinerant movement throughout Australia, certainly the ability to move from say, Perth to Canberra, which has increased rapidly over the past few years, has meant that there is not such a need for the High Court to move to those places. Therefore it is appropriate, on that score alone, that consideration now be given to the siting of the High Court in the place where it was originally intended.
But I think there is another reason why it is desirable that the High Court should be moved to Canberra. That is that it is the nation’s highest court and, if certain other legislation is passed it will be, in constitutional matters, the supreme court in this country, lt is appropriate that a court which has the stature of the High Court of Australia should be constituted in the national capital. The Supreme Court of the United States of America is, as its name implies, the supreme court of that country and from all I have heard, it has stature and standing which is renowned throughout America. The Supreme Court of the United States is situated in Washington in an imposing edifice which equals the Congress building itself on Capitol Hill. It is appropriate that our own High Court should have a similar situation in which it can be recognised as the supreme court of Australia by the many people who come to the Capital simply to see Canberra.
Indeed, such has been the stature of the High Court in recent years with names such as Sir Owen Dixon and Sir Wilfred Fullagar being recognised throughout the world and being cited in judgments in countries other than Australia - that the Court which they adorned should receive a recognition in Australia which can come to it when it is sited in the appropriate place where it should be sited - in the national capital. Therefore I welcome the decision which has been made and I trust that there will be all due expedition in reaching the stage when it will be sited at the place which has been set aside for it near Lake Burley Griffin.
I desire also to say something further about what can be done and what I feel should be done when the High Court is located in the national capital. I think it would be inappropriate if the High Court building were situated in Canberra without the facilities which ought to go with the High Court being available at the same time. I think that the Government could give consideration to the establishment at the same time of a national law library. It could bc a building much in keeping with the style of the High Court which is to be built and it could be located in that fairly large area of land on which the High Court is to be placed. A national law library would fulfil something which Australia lacks at the present time. We have throughout the country university law libraries in the seven universities which have a law school. But none of those law libraries is adequately equipped with the basic text books to permit developing research. Each of them operates, so far as it can, within the limited finances which are available, and each of them has demands for more and more books which cannot be met. Law books are absolutely essential tools of trade to the lawyer, to the law student and to the academic who is engaged in legal research, and their availability and use stamps the quality of legal research in the place where it is undertaken. I feel that although we, in Australia, have some of the most outstanding lawyers and legal researchers in the world, we could be better served if the facilities of a library of this description were available.
I know that an attempt has been made to assess the needs of the various libraries throughout the country. Those needs are such that they cannot be met adequately by making provision in the way of finance to each of the universities or to the law section of State libraries. Therefore it would be an appropriate stage when the High Court is moved to Canberra to establish a law library which could fit in with the general features which it is proposed the High Court will be able to attract. Undoubtedly there will be problems - but they will be easily resolvable problems - with regard to the National Library and the very extensive facilities which it has at the present time. But my inquiries in Canberra suggest that the legal section of the National Library is not used as much as it could be used. In the first place, it is difficult for persons to go through the actual physical steps of determining what they must do in order to get a book and then return it. Accordingly, they consider that it is not worth the effort. But if the whole of the legal section of the National Library were to be transferred to a site adjacent to or to become part of the High Court, and to where a law library was established, that would be an advantage which would undoubtedly facilitate the work of the legal researchers of the Australian National University. lt would be available also to the local practitioners and to those people who will be coming to Canberra in increasing numbers simply because the High Court will be sitting in Canberra.
Of course, a proposal such as this, for its proper maintenance and effectiveness, requires properly trained legal librarians.
This is a class of librarian and lawyer which is rarely to be found in Australia, and there are not many of them to be found overseas. But they are available and they can be trained, lt would be part of the whole proposal that there be not only a law library of standing which would be of use, but also a properly trained staff which would make the facilities available primarily to people in Canberra but certainly for the purposes of the profession throughout Australia. I would hope that when plans are being prepared, consideration is given to linking with the High Court building provision for a library which will facilitate the working of the High Court, and that the design of the building - whether it be to include a library or to permit a library being adjacent - will be such that it will be in keeping with the standing and dignity which the High Court has attained for itself over the years.
– We of the Opposition welcome the move of the High Court of Australia to Canberra. It is long overdue. We hope that all steps will be taken to expedite the move as it will be in the interests of the Court itself, the legal profession and the people of Australia.
– I enter this debate because it seems to have become a legal debauch. Surely there are other elements of opinion which should be considered in relation to this matter. I refer to ,the mass of the citizenry. As I see it, one of the characteristics of the Supreme Court of the United States of America or the High Court of Australia is that it should be set in a metropolitan area where it is involved in the life of the people. I suggest that when people compare Canberra to Washington it is always forgotten that Washington, a city which influences so much of our thinking on Canberra, always was a capital city. It has been surrounded by the metropolitan interests of the States of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, for example. Washington may have become a village after the American War of Independence but it has always had a metropolitan character because it has been surrounded by a metropolitan area.
We have proceeded for some reason or other on the basis that we can create a capital city without supplying any of the necessary sinews. I refer to contact with the mass of the people, for example. We have here in Canberra a sort of Brasilia. Canberra has administrative components which are divorced from the metropolitan life of Australia. What does a citizen of Canberra know about what happens in the great areas of Australia where the sustenance of this country is derived? Canberra has become a self-centred community which gives very little acknowledgement to the lives of the people who live without its boundaries.
It is true that administrative headquarters may properly be located in Canberra. A national development secretariat and headquarters of the Army and the Navy are suitably located here because they have a chain of command. The Department of the Interior is appropriately settled here in Canberra because it deals with the administrative problems of the rest of Australia. 1 could go on to deal with one department after another, but the proposal we are discussing concerns the incarceration of the supreme jurisdiction of Australia in a remote and detached area while it should be in touch with the people. I do not accept the proposition that the dignity of the High Court requires that it should be settled in Canberra, and so on. The argument applies to Washington because Washington is a metropolitan capital anyway. It is true that the jurisdiction of the High Court of England should be centred in London and that the High Court of France should be centred in Paris because those are metropolitan areas; but by no stretch of the imagination at this juncture can Canberra be described as a metropolitan area. It is an artificial capital. 1 do not think a clear case has been made out, except in rhetorical terms, for the transfer of the High Court to Canberra at this stage. I am not very happy with the arguments which have been adduced to the present moment to sustain the transfer of the High Court to Canberra at this time. It will be most inconvenient to litigants, to the legal profession and to the justices of the High Court who will have to immure themselves in this area from time to time merely to satisfy the pride and prestige that Canberra is seeking to achieve, quite artificially.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Business of the Senate
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
Thatthe Senate do now adjourn.
– 1 do not wish to oppose the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I wish to speak briefly in view of what was said earlier tonight to inform honourable senators that the only intimation I received of the earlier motion came to me a few moments before it was moved. I think when Senator Anderson studies what I had to say he will find that at no stage did I suggest that back bench senators ought not to be able to move matters of General Business. Further, I at no time suggested that honourable senators on either side of the chamber should not be entitled to take part in the debate on the motion to adopt the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech or to avail themselves of every other opportunity to enter into general debate in the Senate.
Honourable senators have important rights and I, along with other senators, will fight’ to preserve those rights. What 1 had to say was, from my point of view and from the point of view of the Opposition, part of an endeavour to preserve those rights. If our rights can be preserved and the business of the Senate can be conducted expeditiously, the Opposition will be completely satisfied.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 March 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680328_senate_26_s37/>.