26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Does regulation 108a of the Military Financial Regulations provide for the payment of an allowance to a serviceman who is required to use his own aircraft for the purpose of travelling on duty? If so, will the Minister advise the Senate of the names of the servicemen to whom this allowance has been paid and the amounts paid to them since the regulation came into operation?
– [ am not aware of the terms of the regulation referred to by the honourable senator, but I will ask the Minister for the Army to supply an answer to the question.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Apart from shipping, which I understand is a normal consequence of trade between two countries, have there been any signs which would indicate an impending southward thrust of the hordes of Red China which invariably undertake such expeditions on the occasions of approaching federal elections in Australia but which quite remark.ably appear to return home contented upon the election of Liberal-Country Party administrations?
– I do not understand the question. To some people all things are pure. I cannot comment on the honourable senator’s question. If there were any movement which was of concern to the nation, naturally such a question would bring forth a considered reply from me.
SMUGGLING Senator MULVIHILL - T direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Tn the light of recent convictions of people engaged in bird smuggling, what action has been taken against the apparent masterminds who operate such smuggling rings from outside Australia? Has the Minister sought the aid of the Minister for External Affairs to have more effective deterrents imposed in near Asian countries as well as enlisting the aid of Interpol?
– The Department of Customs and Excise is conscious of the fact that people outside Australia are endeavouring to smuggle goods into Australia. Therefore we have close relations with people outside Australia on this subject. As yet we have not approached the Minister for External Affairs for his cooperation in the matter because he is not associated with it, but if we thought it was desirable we would certainly contact him.
– ] direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister say how many wheat growers in Australia grow 10,000 bushels of wheat or less a year?
– The information I have received is that about 27,600 wheat growers in Australia grow up to 10,000 bushels of wheat. There are 41,000 wheat growers who grow wheat on 100 acres or more. The total number of wheat growers in Australia is about 55,000.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. The Minister will recall that some weeks ago I asked him whether the annual report of Trans-Australia Airlines could be tabled before the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation were debated in the Senate. I understood him to say that he would contact TAA to see whether this could be done. As the Senate is approaching the debate on the estimates for that Department, I ask the Minister whether he has any information that he can convey to the Senate? I remind him that Ansett-ANA has presented its report following a similar request.
– T recall quite clearly that the honourable senator’s question related to the annual reports of the Department of Civil Aviation and Trans-Australia
Airlines. The. annual report of the Department has been tabled. I will see what further action I can take in relation to the second part of the undertaking that I gave to the honourable senator and will advise him as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. It refers to a reported statement by an American tourist blaming Qantas Airways Ltd for sabotaging a proposed charter flight from the United States of America by 150 people. Can the Minister say whether Qantas receives many applications for charter flights of this kind? Is it able to handle all such applications? Is the policy of firstly offering charter bookings to the flag carrier of the nation one of the Australian Government alone or of the International Air Transport Association? Is there any way in which this policy can be liberalised so that more groups of young people will have the opportunity of visiting Australia at cheaper rates?
– It is well known that the charter flights provided by the various companies are increasing as the tourist trade throughout the world increases. The honourable senator has asked a very detailed question which will require a considerable degree of attention and thought by the Minister concerned. Therefore, I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface I refer to an answer that he gave to me on 25 th September 1968 when he said that he had no knowledge of any representations by the Woollahra Council in Sydney to obtain the present Rose Bay flying boat base for recreational purposes. I now ask: In view of the repeated Press comments by aldermen of the Woollahra Council that discussions have taken place, does the Minister stand by his earlier answer?
– I distinctly remember that that question and a further question were asked by the honourable senator and that I said I would place the matter before the Minister for Civil Aviation in order to obtain an answer. I said this after the honourable senator had cleared up the first question he asked. My answer still stands. I will obtain the information that the honourable senator requires.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I ask: Has any consideration been given to a request made by me some weeks ago that $25,000 be made available to the University of Tasmania to enable it to introduce a limited external studies division? Is there any prospect of an early grant being made available so that such a course may be introduced in 1969?
– I wish to acknowledge the keen, interest that the honourable senator has taken in the establishment of a university external studies facility in Tasmania. The matter is under consideration by the Government and I am unable to give any information about it at this stage.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs to the report of the leader of the delegation which attended the International Conference on Human Rights at Teheran earlier this year. I understand that the report has been in existence for some time. I ask: Why has the report not been tabled? Could steps be taken to table the report of the leader of the delegation to the International Conference on Human Rights well before the end of this year so that - it may be discussed?
– I will seek the information requested by the Leader of the Opposition and will inform him as quickly as I can of the background to the tabling or production of the report.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science indicate what stage has been reached in the Government’s plans to assist school libraries? When are legislation and the payments flowing from such legislation expected?
– I am searching my memory because this matter has been under consideration this week. The precise stage to which the legislation has developed does not clearly come to my mind. I shall ascertain the facts and advise my colleague.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen a statement attributed in the Press to the New South Wales Minister for Health when speaking at a meeting of the New South Wales Hospitals Association? The Minister is reported to have said that the Federal Government is not facing up to its responsibility to provide sufficient finance to the States for hospital purposes and that he. the New South Wales Minister, did not know how much longer the Federal Government could deny its national responsibility. Has the Minister also seen a report that the health insurance funds will be requesting the Commonwealth Government to allow them substantially to uplift contributions paid by health insurers in order that they will be able to meet increased hospital costs recently imposed upon them by the States? Because such a large section of the Australian community either cannot afford the existing costs of voluntary health insurance, or if they can. are very much under-insured, will the Government give close attention to the remarks of the New South Wales Minister and take steps to face up to its responsibility adequately to provide for proper hospitalisation of Australian citizens?
– 1 have seen a Press report similar to the one - if not actually the one - referred to by the honourable senator. 1 think that the Federal Government, through the comments made by the Minister for Health and the statements included in the Budget speech, and through the setting up of an expert committee of inquiry on hospital and medical insurance, has shown its very real concern for people who are ill, and its very real acceptance of responsibility towards them. 1 am quite certain that the Minister for Health has noted the remarks to which the honourable senator has referred.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that a deputation of pea growers is to meet their New Zealand counterparts some time this month in New Zealand with a view to determining a reasonable quota of imports of peas from New Zealand into this country? Does the Minister know whether the New Zealand representatives have the blessing of their Government, or are acting entirely on an unofficial basis, thus weakening the importance of any decisions that may be reached?
– J am not aware of the background to the meeting of groups from Australia and New Zealand which was referred to by the honourable senator, although I gather the impression that the meetings would have stemmed, if not wholly then in part, from questions in relation to the industry in Australia which were asked by the honourable senator and others in this place. The status of this meeting is not known to me. However, I shall seek the information and provide the honourable senator with an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he inform the Parliament whether any progress has been made in securing increased markets for Australian sugar? Also can he inform me whether there is any truth in the rumour that more than 300,000 tons of cane will remain in the Queensland fields this season because of the inability of the Commonwealth to secure adequate markets?
– I am not in a position to supply the information sought by the honourable senator, but I differ from him when he refers to the inability of the Commonwealth Government to obtain markets. I remind him that this Government has done its utmost to assist those growing sugar and, wherever possible, to open new markets. The honourable senator is well aware that in the past few weeks there have been talks overseas, the purpose of which has been to get a sugar agreement which will be satisfactory to Australian growers. I shall refer the other aspects of his question to the Minister for Primary Industry and see whether he can provide an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister given consideration to a request from the Premier of Victoria for Commonwealth financial assistance to enable Melbourne to have an underground railway to assist in relieving Melbourne’s growing traffic problems and to increase the utility and efficiency of the railway system in the metropolitan areas? Has the Premier requested a conference at which the Victorian case may be fully presented? Has the Prime Minister replied to the Premier? If so., what was his reply? If he has not replied, when will a reply be made?
– I am not informed of the position, but in any case 1 would suggest that any correspondence which is primarily between a Prime Minister and a Premier of a sovereign State would be confidential until such time as it had been agreed between them that it was to be made public. That arrangement would be fundamental. However. I shall seek some general information and, if any is available, 1 shall provide it to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. When will the report of the Joint Coal Board be available for discussion in the Senate?
– I cannot answer this question, but I shall endeavour to find out and make the information available to the honourable senator as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to request all his ministerial colleagues to devote one day to looking up telephone numbers for themselves in the telephone directory in any State or in Canberra so as to understand the difficulties experienced by those without secre taries? After this exercise, will he then seek their opinion as to the advisibility of appointing someone with a clear and uncomplicated mind to simplify the placing of frequently used telephone numbers? Will he suggest to such an appointee that on page 1 of the telephone book there be listed such numbers as trunk lines, telegrams, fire brigade, police, ambulance and public hospitals - even the PostmasterGeneral’s Department - thus eliminating the need to spend frustrating minutes going from page to page reading hundreds of words before these emergency numbers can be located?
– I have noted the points made by the honourable senator and I shall convey them to the Postmaster-General.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question which I relate to the answer that was given to a question which I placed on notice concerning children’s school stationery. Am I to understand that the sales tax officers cannot distinguish between a child’s school pad and commercial stationery? Is the Minister not aware that the wholesaler and not the retailer collects the sales tax on stationery of this nature and that therefore the difficulty expressed in the answer does not exist? Is he aware that almost $2m is collected each year from school children by means of this tax? As the total amount provided for secondary school scholarships by the Commonwealth is approximately $6m, does he consider it fair that school children should provide one-third of this amount?
– Yesterday I gave the honourable senator an answer received from the Treasurer to a question on notice, and the honourable senator has exercised his right to ask a series of supplementary questions stemming from the answer that he received. I think it would be better for him to put the questions on the notice paper and I shall have them dealt with by the Treasurer in the context of the first question asked and the answer given.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health bring to the attention of that Minister the fact that while office space has been acquired in Rockhampton for the pensioner hearing aid service no approval appears to have been given for partitions, fittings, etc., and this is holding up the start of this worthy service? Will the Minister do all that is possible to have an early start, made on this service to pensioners at Rockhampton?
– Being very conscious, as are other honourable senators, of the importance of this service to pensioners, I shall place before my colleague the Minister for Health the point raised by the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister received a report on the feasibility tests at Cockburn Sound? If he has. does he intend to make a report to the Parliament?
– I shall seek the information from the Prime Minister.
– Further to the question I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry concerning a deputation to New Zealand regarding pea imports into this country, if it has not already been done, will the Minister contact the New Zealand Government with a view to having some official recognition by both Governments of the conference which is to take place, T think, during this month?
– If there is any merit in the suggestion - as well there may be - I shall have it referred to the Minister for Trade and Industry and get a reply.
– Can the Minister representing the Attorney-General indicate when I may expect a reply to a question I asked on 12th September concerning vacancies in the Parliamentary Draftsman’s section of the Attorney-General’s Department?
– A review of the questions awaiting answer was undertaken yesterday and I have asked the AttorneyGeneral whether he can expedite answers to that question and three or four other questions that are his responsibility. Let me say that the questions unanswered are very few.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. With further reference to the answer given to me recently about extensions to the main runway at the Rockhampton Airport and the delays being caused by negotiations with the Rockhampton Golf Club, will the Minister request the Minister lor Civil Aviation to see whether an early start could be made on this essential work even though negotiations with the Rockhampton Golf Club have not been finalised?
– I will take up the matter raised by the honourable senator wilh the Minister for Civil Aviation and obtain an answer to his question for him.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Parliament of the price Japan paid for Australian sugar last financial year and the price that will be paid for the portion of the Australian crop to be purchased by that country this year; or is the price still a closely guarded Government secret?
– To the best of my knowledge there is no question of the price being a closely guarded secret. I do not know what it is. I am unable to give the honourable senator the information that he requires about last year’s price, but 1 will ask the Minister for Primary Industry to give me the information that he has available and 1 will provide it to the honourable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport been drawn to statements made in Melbourne yesterday at the Australian Road Transport Federation conference to the effect that road taxes are an unfair, unreasonable and iniquitous burden on road transport? Have discussions been held between State Ministers for Transport and the Commonwealth with a view to determining alternative means of raising funds for road maintenance throughout Australia?
– I noticed the newspaper report to which the honourable senator has referred. I do not know whether any approach has been made to the Commonwealth by the Federation or by the States for different means of taxation to obtain funds for the construction of roads; but 1 know that we have the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act which has been in operation since about 1927 and which has been a very effective means of obtaining money for the construction of roads throughout the Commonwealth. Originally a specified amount of the petrol tax revenue collected by my Department was given to the Treasury and through the Treasury to the State governments for the construction of roads. Now the revenue from the tax on fuel goes straight into general revenue and under an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States money is made available from general revenue for a period of up to 5 years to cover the expenditure of the States on their road construction programmes. The reason why this change was made was that under the old system no State knew from year to year exactly how much it would receive from the tax on fuel, whereas under the present, arrangement each State knows exactly what it will receive each year over a period of 5 years.
– In view of the advice that we have received gratis from twenty architects in relation to the site of the new and permanent parliament house, I should like the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior to tell me when 1 can expect to receive an answer to the following question, which I put on the notice paper on 13th June:
– This question was placed on the notice paper on 13th June. I will see my colleague in another place and ascertain whether an answer can be obtained as quickly as possible for the honourable senator.
– When Senator Laught earlier asked me the stage of the Government’s proposed legislation for the assistance of libraries I could not bring the matter precisely to mind. May I now inform the honourable senator that the Bill to grant financial assistance to the States for libraries was introduced into another place on 25th September 1968. It provides for $27m to be made available for this purpose over the next 3 years. That Bill can be expected to come onto the Senate notice paper at any time.
(Question No. 314)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 441)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Following a press report that the Minister for National Development stated in Adelaide on 28th August 1968 that technical reports so far showed that the proposed Dartmouth dam had at least similar benefits to those at Chowilla, will the Minister inform the Senate as to progressive technical reports and any other negotiations involving the Chowilla dam project?
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following reply:
The points raised in this question are dealt with in detail in the ‘Statement on Proposals for Further Storage on the River Murray’ issued by the River Murray Commission in September 1968, copis of which were distributed to all honourable senators on 12th September. As a written answer to this question would involve a lengthy reiteration of the information containedin the statement, I would refer the honourable senator to that document.
(Question No. 451)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 499)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 516)
asked the Minister re presenting the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Is Australia represented at the conference of non-nuclear nations which is currently being held at Geneva? If so, has the Australian delegation speaking or voting rights or is it a delegation of observers only?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Australia was represented at this Conference by a delegation led by Sir Laurence McIntyre, Deputy Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. The delegation had both speaking and voting rights. Nuclear weapon states were invited to participate in the conference with full rights except the right to vote.
(Question No. 596)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
In view of the fact that a Courts Martial Appeals Tribunal reversed the Court Martial decision that Mr Len Newman, whilst serving as a gunner in Vietnam, be convicted of the charge of manslaughter of an officer in Vietnam and be sentenced to five years imprisonment, is it the intention of the Minister to compensate Mr Newman for loss of wages whilst imprisoned, and for the anxiety, pain and suffering experienced by Mr Newman, his wife, and family because of the apparently wrongful conviction?
– It was the day before yesterday that the honourable senator asked this question. The Minister for the Army has now provided the following answer:
Consequent upon the quashing of his conviction, ex-Gunner Newman’s full entitlement to pay and allowances has been restored for the whole period of his close arrest and subsequent imprisonment. Mr Newman and his wife are thereby entitled to pay and allotments totalling over $2,300, of which more than $1,600 has already been paid, and the balance will be forwarded in the next few days.
– On 17 th September Senator Rae asked me whether, irrespective of any memorial which may be erected in Canberra, the Prime Minister would give consideration to naming the new Victorian international airport the Melbourne (Harold Holt) Airport to commemorate the name of the late Prime Minister.
Among a number of other suggestions for memorials to the late Prime Minister, the Government considered re-naming of the Tullamarine Airport. The Government took the view that as his contribution was as a member of the national Parliament and as a national leader, a memorial to Mr Holt should be erected in the national capital.
– On 8th October Senator Young asked me whether the big chain stores were the main importers of New Zealand lamb and for their percentages of total imports. I wish to inform the honourable senator that the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished me with the following information in reply:
It is not the policy of the Government to divulge details of imports by individual companies which, of course, remain confidential to the Government and to the importers concerned.I can say, however, from investigations carried out by the Department of Trade and Industry that the bulk of imports were made by ten main importers. In addition a number of other firms imported small quantities.
– On 29th August Senator Rae asked that the Prime Minister consider making arrangements for as many as possible of the facilities of the National Library to be open at regular times for inspection by the general public. The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Library is open at the following times: Monday-Friday - 9.30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday - 9.30 a.m.-4.45 p.m. Sunday - 9.30 a.m.-12.30 p.m; 1.30 p.m-4.45 p.m.
During those times members of the general public may inspect the exhibition galleries and the theatre and have access to the outside colonnade balcony overlooking Lake Burley Griffin with its fine views of Canberra. In arranging the display in the exhibition galleries special efforts have been taken to provide a wide representation of the more notable items in the Library’s collection. The work of the Library and the convenience of its users would not permit tours of inspection of the bookslacks or work and reading areas.
Members of the general public may use the ‘ general reference service and reading room. newspaper reading room and map room. A reader’s ticket is required in the case of persons who wish to use a special reading room reserved for the study of rare manuscripts and books or the room set aside for students who are required to work in the Library for longer periods than is usual and who find it convenient to have continuous use of a desk where they can leave their papers overnight. Ability to demonstrate a reasonable need for such facilities is the only qualification necessary for a reader’s ticket.
– Yesterday Senator Keeffe asked me whether I considered a letter from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects constituted a contempt of Parliament. My reply is that it is not for the President to rule on the question of whether a breach of privilege has been committed. That is a matter for the Senate.
– by leave - I wish to make a personal explanation. During the adjournment debate last evening I took part in a discussion about the siting of the new parliament house. I referred particularly to Press reports of statements by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and to a letter distributed by that organisation to all honourable senators. Without departing in any way from my fundamental objection to the tone of the comments of that organisation as reported in the Press and indeed to certain aspects of the letter addressed to honourable senators, I think that in the heat of the debate I may have breached my own code of good manners and therefore that of the Senate. I wish to make it clear that I do not reflect upon the personal and professional integrity of any member of the National Capital Development Commission or any member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects.
Motion (by SenatorO’Byrne) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be granted to Senator Dittmer on account of absence overseas.
Debate resumed from 9 October (vide page 1 153). on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the Stale of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs. 1. F. Weise. E. F. Lane and E. Smith, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said Slate into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th clay of September, 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, bc adopted.
Upon which Senator Georges had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out al) words after ‘That*, insert - ‘the Senate disapproves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by the Distribution Commissioners, for the reasons stated in the dissent expressed by the Chairman of the Commissioners, Mr I. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, and requests the Minister to refer back to the Commissioners the redistribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions for a fresh distribution’.
- Mr President, when the debate was adjourned last night on the proposed redistribution of the electoral divisions of Queensland I think I had spoken for about 3 minutes, largely in rebuttal of what Senator Lawrie had contributed to the debate. As a few hours have elapsed, I wish to refresh the memory of honourable senators. 1 refer to (he amendment moved by my colleague Senator Georges. The crux of his amendment is: . . for lbc reasons slated in the dissent expressed by the Chairman of the Commissioners. Mr 1. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, and requests the Minister to refer back to the Commissioners the redistribution of the State of Queensland into electoral Divisions for a fresh distribution.
Senator Lawrie may recall that I interjected at one stage during his speech and asked him the number of the page from which he was quoting. J will make further reference later in this debate to that and other statements that have been taken out of context by honourable senators opposite. But I think it is appropriate at this point of time to refer to what I classify as a gerrymander insofar as the proposed redistribution for Queensland is concerned. Honourable senators will recall that Senator Georges referred to the State electoral boundaries in Queensland. I would like to place on record the fact that to be successful it candidate who is a member of the Country Party needs, in round figures, only about 6,000 votes and that a member of the Liberal Parly is slightly worse off as he needs about 9,000 votes. But a member of the Australian Labor Party needs almost 14.000 votes before he can say that he has won a seat. 1 wish to quote from editorials that appeared in the Brisbane Courier-Mail’, a newspaper that can hardly be regarded as a rabid supporter of the Australian Labor Party and its policies. I think I should refer firstly to the editorial of 30 June 1968. 1 shall read only the relevant paragraphs. It reads as follows:
The Queensland Liberal Party has every right to hope for a redistribution of electoral boundaries which could enable it to gain more representation in Parliament. it is the Party which demands by far the greatest non-Labor vote in this State, yet the Country Parly dominates in parliamentary strength.
The Liberals’ case can bc put quite simply It won 28.53% of the votes at the 1966 elections but it has only 20 Parliamentary seats. The Country Party obtained 19.1% of the vote, yet it has 27 members in Parliament.
This indicates quite clearly that the LiberalCountry Party coalition in Queensland is elected on a gerrymander. The last paragraph of that editorial states:
But the whole complexion of the State has altered since the I960 redistribution, and the Liberals-
And very begrudgingly the ‘Courier-Mail’ says this - and, for that matter, the Labor Party, too - have a strong case for a change in the status quo.
Tn a subsequent editorial in the ‘CourierMail’ figures were quoted of actual votes rather than percentages. That editorial stated:
The Liberals have 20 seats, though they obtained 203,643 primary votes in the last elections. The Country Party has 27 scats, though it polled only 150,914 votes. The imbalance is obvious.
As T. develop my argument in support of the Opposition’s amendment, ] shall prove that some sort of gerrymander has taken place in Queensland, particularly in relation to country seats. So it is clear that the proposal is nowhere near the one vote one value pattern to which my Party subscribes. Last night Senator Lawrie, our friend of the Australian Country Party, referred to the minority statement of distribution commissioner Mr I. F. Weise. He said that it is not a report but a statement. I agree with him. There is no argument about that. It is not part of the debate. I wish to quote the two relevant paragraphs previously referred to by my colleague, Senator Georges. Mr Weise said:
My reasons for dissent are as follows:
The imbalance in the number of electors between the proposed Divisions of Capricornia (44,957) and Dawson (48,206) on the one hand, and the proposed Divisions of Darling Downs (52,989), Fisher (53,094) and Wide Bay (50,819) on the other hand. The number of electors in the proposed Divisions of Capricornia and Dawson should not be some thousands less than the number of electors in the proposed Divisions of Darling Downs and Fisher.
The proposed Division of Kennedy en croaches upon the area of south-east Queensland with which it has little or no community of interest.
Mr Weise goes on to refer to the subdivisions of Eidsvold, Gayndah, Gin Gin and so on. A more detailed study of the proposal shows that the majority report ignores community of interest in the new Kennedy division. In the eastern end of the new division are peanut growers, grain growers, and people described last night by my friend Senator Kennelly as cow farmers, all operating on small areas; but in the western end are cattle and sheep properties, so that community of interest has been considered by the majority distribution commissioners as irrelevant.
Similar remarks apply to Maranoa. When the Australian Labor Party formed a committee in Queensland to prepare recommendations for the distribution commissioners, we took a most unselfish attitude by suggesting that consideration should be given to such factors as communications, nearness to the quotas provided for under the Act, similarity of industries and so on. We did not propose boundaries in our submission that necessarily provided for safe Labor seats. Mr Weise is probably one of the most capable Commonwealth electoral officers. It is significant that he followed to a large degree in his minority statement the submissions put forward by my Party to the commissioners. Assuming that Mr Weise adopted an independent attitude, and I am absolutely certain that he did, it proves that my Party was not taking a narrow party political outlook.
I turn now to statements made in this debate by Senator Webster, reported at page 1069 of Hansard of 8th October. Unfortunately Senator Webster is overseas at present and cannot hear what I have to say. He referred to boundaries and principles involved in the debate. Similar remarks were made by Senator Bull. Senator Webster is reported to have said:
Let us not refer to the Constitution but let us see what Sir William Lyne is reported to have said on 5th June 1902. He said:
There is a somewhat elastic but necessary provision that the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution of the division-
Senator Webster went on to say that Senator Murphy would agree with that statement and then completed the quotation of Sir William Lyne’s words, as follows: and shall be adhered to as nearly as practicable but may be departed from to the extent of one-fourth more or less.
It is a very great pity that when honourable senators opposite were quoting from these dusty and musty Hansards they did not give us the full story. 1 now propose to place on record the full story and to quote what was said by Sir William Lyne. I refer to. page 13355 of Hansard of 15th June 1902 when the Electoral Bill was being debated. I shall read the whole column because I believe that this will put the matter in proper context. I do not propose to take the matter out of context: as was done by Government supporters. I begin with an- interesting interjection by Mr Page, the member at that time for the old seat of Maranoa, who said:
It is not the question of expense about which I am concerned, but I thought that the Minister might have a few more New South Wales friends.
So even in those days, apparently, the Government was able to influence the commissioners. Sir William Lyne said:
That is not a very kind remark to make, seeing that I am dealing with States other than New South Wales. When the honourable member refers to ‘my friends in New South Wales’ he should recollect that, having lived in that State for so long, 1 know more of the personal attributes of men there than I do of individuals in other States, who no doubt are quite as worthy. These divisions are to be made upon a population basis. They are to be based upon a quota, and the quota will be found by dividing the total number of electors in any Stale by the number of members which it can return. There is a somewhat elastic but necessary provision that the quota of electors shall be the basis for the distribution of the divisions, and shall be adhered to as nearly as practicable, but may be departed from to the extent of onefourth, more or less.
Mr McCay interjected:
Is it proposed that the commissioners shall exercise their discretion, or will they receive Ministerial instructions?
Sir William Lyne continued:
They will exercise their discretion, but they are noi to go cither above or below one-fourth. The principle of the Bill is equal representation. If the number of electors exceed 1,000, more or less, the reason for not adhering to the quota must bc staled.
Mr A. McLean then interjected:
Does (hat mean thai there is to be an equal population in town and country electorates?
Sir William Lyne replied: ‘Yes’. Why did not Government supporters have the courage to pursue the statement by Sir William Lyne to its logical conclusion? This was the principle’ enunciated by the forebears of the Liberal Party on that occasion, but honourable senators opposite see fit today not to follow the principles adopted by their predecessors. The report continues with an interjection by Mr A. McLean, who said:
Then the Government will never carry it: they will have a lively time.
Sir William Lyne proceeded: 1 may tell honourable members that 1 gave one
Ministry in New South Wales a lively time upon this very question, but I was defeated upon it. I am quite sure that the honourable member for Gippsland will noi give me a lively lime in connection wilh il. because at heart I am with htm, but 1 know what the people want. I do not propose a variation between town and country, such as I am inclined lo favour, because it will be recognised that the Government must concede what they conceive the bulk of the people require.
If that was the principle enunciated 66 years ago, the principle is just as valid today because the situation is similar in relation to our altitude to the current redistribution. The Government sees fit to criticise the Labor Party and to adopt ils own methods. 1 must make some reference to what was said yesterday by my friend from the Government benches, Senator Greenwood. He decided that he would quote from the Australian Labor Party’s policy in an effort to prove that members of the Opposition have been directed by outside bodies. This argument is nol of my making, but I propose to answer it. Last night the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), in a very flamboyant reply during which he skipped about like a ballet dancer, instead of being the dignified Minister that he ought to be, said that Senator Greenwood was able to vote according to his conscience. I propose to prove, by reference to statements made in other places by supposedly responsible members of the Liberal Party, that Government supporters are directed to a far greater degree than any member of the Labor Party has ever been directed.
– The honourable senator will not find that in the record.
– Senator Greenwood cannot suggest that there is no internal discipline in his Party. I know that its members act like rabble most of the time, but every political parly worth its salt has some sort of executive which operates to direct policy and to keep internal discipline. If the honourable senator denies this he is living up to his public reputation.
– I am saying that we arc not directed from outside in the way that members of the Labor Party are.
– At the moment I am talking about the Liberal Party. When the honourable senator makes an intelligent interjection 1 shall take time to answer it. 1 propose now to quote an excerpt from th. Federal Constitution of the Liberal Party of Australia Joint Standing Committee on Federal Policy, lt reads:
There shall be a Joint Standing Committee on Federal Policy consisting of six members of iiic Federal Parliament chosen annually by the Parliamentary Parly and six non-Parliamentary members of the Federal Council chosen annually by thc Federal Council.
Senator Greenwood would tell us that there is no direction of Liberal members, although the Liberal Party has had to put outsiders on this committee so that members may receive directions. The constitution goes on to state:
The Committee shall meet when and in such place as the Chairman shall determine. A meeting of the Committee shall be convened upon a requisition signed by one half of its members.
You, Mr Acting Deputy President, are no doubt familiar with this, but 1 feel that it ought to be stated publicly so that people outside will know what goes on in the Liberal Party. The functions of the committee include: in consider all mailers affecting tile Federal Platform of iiic Organisation and to report thereon lo the Federal Council.
We were criticised yesterday because we had to report back to the Federal Conference, but the Liberal Party does precisely the same thing. In other words, its subsidiary committees report back to superior committees.I am not criticising this at all, but I do not think that honourable members opposite should put only one side of the question. The committee is also required: . .to advise the Parliamentary Party upon any mailers affecting the implementation of the Platform.
Do not say that the Liberal Party does not do more than advise, because in 1961 it had the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, on the mat because of his failure to win seats in the 1961 Federal election. The constitution goes on to provide:
Any proposal for the alteration of the Federal Platform by way of addition, amendment or repeal originating within a State Division, or any resolution or other matters affecting the implementation of that platform, and likewise originating, shall be submitted to the State Council of that Division, and if passed by that Council it shall be transmitted to the Federal Secretariat for submission to the Committee.
The Liberal Party has an even more cumbersome system than the Labor Party has. This is because of the undemocratic manner in which the Liberal Party operates. In our case, the rank and file are the people who direct the Party. In the Liberal Party there is direction at the co-ordinating committee stage, at the federal council stage, at the State council stage and at the federal executive stage. In fact, Liberal parliamentary members are lucky if they have any freedom at all. May I quote from the objectives of the Liberal Party? As I said earlier, this argument is not of my seeking. It was started by members of the Liberal Party. Let me refer to page 5 of this document, which is a genuine copy of the Liberal Party rule book.
– I did not know that it had a rule book.
– They are Rafferty’s rules. Let me refer to rule 2 (d)(i), which states that democracy shall be maintained by:
Parliament controlling the Executive and the Law controlling all.
Is this not fascinating? Today the Liberal Party does not even live up to the things that it has set down as its objectives. How many times do we see various directives given and Ministers making irresponsible statements elsewhere instead of proceeding through the proper channel, which is the
Parliament of this country? Let me refer now to rule 3 (o), which states that the organisation shall have power as follows:
That is probably known as the blanket rule, because it certainly covers a lot of sin of omission and commission. No doubt this gives bureaucratic authority to do things which do not see the light of day. The Liberals claim, of course, that they are so democratic that they are not involved politically in any redistribution, yet already in this debate we have proved conclusively that there has been an attempt to gerrymander, in the light of the statement made by Sir William Lyne 66 years ago. Honourable senators opposite distorted it in presenting it to us.
May I put forward a few points that bear repeating? When Sir Robert Menzies was delivering the Second Dunrossil Lecture in the week preceding16th March 1968, he openly attacked the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for reducing the education grant. Although Sir ‘ Robert Menzies was the recently retired Prime Minister, he obviously believed that there was some criticism to be levelled at the Liberal Party, all the executive offices of which he had left. Let me refer to what was done by the Vice-President of the Liberal Party in Queensland, Mr L. G. Catt, and Mr E. L. Robinson, who has since been elected by very strange ballot as’ State president of the Liberal Party. I shall produce some evidence of this as I proceed. I say to Government supporters who are trying to interject that this has to be done. If members of the Liberal Party endeavour to distort the policies of my Party, some of their statements have to be exposed publicly, and this is going on the record.
The two gentlemen to whom I have referred mailed directions to all parliamentarians in the Liberal Party on 26th February 1968. Honourable Senators opposite say that they are not directed by anybody. Liberal parliamentarians were told that they were not to support the independent Liberal candidate in the Landsborough by-election, Mr Nelson Gracie. This was a direction to every parliamentarian in Queensland not. to support this candidate. A couple of people bucked. Sir Kenneth
Morris, who was at that time a senator, bucked and was publicly assailed by members of his own Party.
– He is not here now. He got the axe.
– That was the way Sir Kenneth Morris got the pay off, because he was going to interfere in pre-selection ballots. He might have run as an independent. Mr Robinson was elected by fraudulent representation at the conference of the Liberal Party in Queensland in June. People who were delegates at that conference have now left the Liberal Party. They said they could not see what was going to happen to the Liberal Party. There were delegates at that ‘ conference who had no right to be there. They were not qualified by membership. They were not qualified by credentials from their respective branches. They were striving to control the Party and they succeeded.
However, some hours after the ballots took place, what do honourable senators think happened to all the phony delegates? They could not be found. They were out on the town enjoying themselves and the delegation was down by at least one-third. Yet Senator Greenwood says there is no direction in the Liberal Party. Honourable senators who want to do so may look in the Press of 27th February 1968, where they will see that Mr Catt, who is not now an office bearer, and Mr Robinson, who is now the glossy new State President of the Liberal Party, admitted that they had directed the parliamentary members of the Party.
That is not the lot. The Liberal Party had further problems early this year, when Mr McEwen was Prime Minister. Mr L. H. Irwin circulated a letter on 8th January 1968 to all Liberal politicians, attacking the Prime Minister. If he was not trying to exercise pressure within the Liberal Party, what was he trying to do? Was he reminding Liberal members to send a birthday card or delayed Christmas card to Mr McEwen? This is the sort of thing that is going on. Later, when the present Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, had to go overseas he would not let the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Mr William McMahon, be the Acting Prime Minister. What happened was that Mr McEwen flew back to Australia. He left important primary industry and trade talks overseas and sent the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) - a boy on a man’s errand - to carry on the discussions, lt is no wonder that we cannot obtain decent prices for our sugar. It is no wonder that we cannot reach international agreements on the sale of our primary production.
– What has this to do with redistribution?
– lt is very important. I am pointing out for the record how these things show that there is direction at all levels inside the honourable senator’s party.
– Just because Mr Irwin wrote a letter?
– Is the honourable senator publicly denying that Mr Irwin is a member of his party? 1 know that he will oppose Mr Irwin and try to get rid of him; but is he publicly denying that Mr Irwin is a member of the Liberal Party? I am waiting for an answer. If I cannot get an answer, I suggest that he should not interject any more because he does not even know what he is talking about. The other day I referred to him as ‘the amateur senator’. 1 am afraid that 1 will have to repeat that.
– Did Sir Kenneth Morris not defy that direction?
– Yes, he defied the direction by sending a message of goodwill, and I think he appeared in the electorate with Mr Nelson Gracie. But, of course, by that time he had lost his place in the pre-selection ballot; so it did not matter very much. At this crucial time in the history of our country we had a tremendous division between Senator Gorton, as he then was, and Mr Hasluck, who is a senior Minister in the House of Representatives and who incidentally comes from Western Australia. The pressures that exist inside the Liberal Party are apparent after all these months. Mr Gorton is the Prime Minister of this country and I acknowledge his office with very great respect, but he went to Western Australia and the pigs in the ring at the show there received a greater cheer than he did. So do not tell me that pressure is not exerted. Senator Greenwood, who is interjecting, was probably involved in that. He was probably a Hasluck supporter and therefore made sure that the show animals received the greater cheer.
– What about Senator Scott, who is the Minister in charge of the business now before the Senate. Where does he line up?
– I have heard some very strange stories about my friend, Senator Scott; but as 1 do not make personal attacks 1 do not propose to make use of them. On 13th January 1968 we saw evidence of some of the troubles in Queensland. Mr Neville Hewitt, who as far as 1 know is a capable member of the Country Party, was passed over by the then Premier, Mr Pizzey, for a ministerial post. The post was given to a junior, Mr V. B. Sullivan. This also shows that inside directions are given. This is not confined to the Liberal Party. The Country Party does a fair bit of it, too.
In July 1968 another very respected member of the Liberal Party, Mr Chas Porter, who is known as the leader or one of the leaders of the ginger group in the Queensland Parliament, who was the State director or secretary of the Liberal Party for quite a number of years and who subsequently became the member for Toowong, was opposed by four members of the Liberal Party because hs would not toe the line. That was the only reason why he was opposed. These people were told to oppose him by the ruling junta inside the State Council of the Liberal Party. If 1 had sufficient time I could entertain the Senate here today by mentioning other directions coming from inside the Liberal Party on how its parliamentary members shall behave. The ‘Sunday Truth’ - the ‘Mirror’ group newspaper in Brisbane-
– Tell us about Cairns nominating against Calwell and what happened to them.
– My friend. Senator Little-by-little, wants me to tell him, little by little, the story of what happened in a State branch of my party. But that is a domestic affair and I will not bc sidetracked by such stupid questions. On 21st July 1968 the ‘Sunday Truth’ published a Press statement, which has never been denied, that the Liberal Party would get rid of the Minister for External Territories, Mr Barnes, from the seat of Mcpherson.
– Tell us about Harradine.
– 1 am told that he has joined the honourable senator’s party. So, for heaven’s sake, do not worry about him. The statement to which I was referring was published at that time and was never denied. So. obviously, a direction went out. The Liberal Party also put Mr Dewar, a former Minister and former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in Queensland, on the toboggan and sent him for a ride down the hill, straight out of his party. Of course, he resigned nicely in public. Our friend Mr Robinson has said in a recent .Press statement that he hopes that the Liberal Party will retain Mr Dewar’s seat. That is what members of the Liberal Party have done to one of their colleagues. They have given him the political bullet and tossed him out of the party. Yet they say that no directions are given. Mr Dewar would not toe the line; so they got rid of him. For heaven’s sake, do not ever criticise the Labor Party again.
Because of the sorts of things that I have mentioned here today, a number of groups have broken away from the Liberal Party or the Country Party. Lel me quote some examples. The Liberal Democratic Party, by advertisement in Western Australia in the week preceding 12th October 1966, called for people to join it. Do honourable senators know why people wanted to form this new organisation? The reason was that they were sick and tired of being directed. They decided to try to form a more democratic party.
– Ha, ha!
– 1 hope that Senator Sim is not one of the underground members of that party. On 17th October 1966 the Tasmanian branch of the Country Party, which was formed in 1963, decided to amalgamate with the new Centre Party. Why did it do that? Simply because ils members also were sick and tired of being directed.
– The Centre Party is full of dropouts anyway.
– 1 know that. These are basic truths. These are the things that have happened up tq. this point in our history. I believe . .that they should be placed on record. The Basic
Industries Group is another outside organisation which is directing in an indirect way both the Liberal Party and the Country Party and which is still pretty active. I do not intend to become further involved in discussing the organisations inside the Government parties because honourable senators opposite know them well enough.
– Can the honourable senator prove his statements?
– These organisations publish booklets. If Senator Sim cannot read I will obtain tape recordings of the booklets so that he can listen to them. The other day Senator Withers endeavoured to wither me by making me produce documents. We can produce documents. If Senator Sim wants a copy of the policy of the Basic Industries Group I will make a gift of one to him for Christmas. The group known as Businessmen for Democratic Government is another organisation that is exerting pressure. Basically it originated in New South Wales. Another group called the Liberal Reform Group has also been set up in New South Wales. These groups consist of people who are sick and tired of talcing directions inside the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party in Queensland is generally known as the Robinson Party’ now. There are many more examples. If members of the Liberal Party decide in future to endeavour to show that this happens inside our party, 1 will give the further examples.
Pressures are being exerted and have been exerted to such an extent that members of the Government parties have endeavoured to create an electoral redistribution that favours the Liberal Party and the Country Party. In 1962, when a redistribution should have taken place, the Country Party scared the wits out of the Liberal Party. Members of the Liberal Party did not have the moral or political courage to go ahead with that redistribution. A couple of abortive attempts were made after that. The result is that today a much delayed redistribution is about to take place and members of the Government parties have made sure,, by the exercise of every possible pressure that they can exercise, that if favours them. I honestly and respectfully submit that the amendment moved by my colleague Senator Georges should be carried.
– 1 support the report of the distribution commissioners in Queensland and oppose the amendment moved by Senator Georges. Although the redistribution proposals may not satisfy every Party or every individual I believe that an unbiased attempt has been made to deal with the situation. In particular, from my point of view at any rate it has maintained in the remote areas of the State three electoral divisions of more or less equal area. The dissenting commissioner who is being supported by the Labor Party created another electorate which covers 52% of the area of the State, a proposition that is completely unworkable. It stretches from near Talwood on the New South Wales border almost to the Gulf of Carpentaria and the border of the Northern Territory. The member representing that electorate would have to travel 1,000 miles from Talwood to a place like Mount Isa. What common interest the wheat growers of Talwood would have with the miners of Mount Isa I would not know.
The distance between Talwood and Mount lsa is equivalent to the distance from, say, Brisbane to Melbourne or from Sydney to Adelaide yet the Labor Party would expect the member concerned to traverse that area without the benefit of the means of communication which exist between Brisbane and Melbourne with jet flights every day. There is not even an air service linking the different sections of the proposed electorate. There is a weekly service from Charleville to Longreach and a weekly service linking Longreach and Mount Isa. If the member wanted to travel from Talwood to Mount Isa he would have to cover about 2,000 miles. The Australian Labour Party has said to the people of western Queensland: ‘You are unimportant. You do not need to see a Federal member unless of course you are lucky enough to have one who is prepared to spend his nights travelling at his own expense in a private aircraft’.
The honourable senator referred to gerrymanders in Queensland and quoted percentages to support his argument, but what he did not say was that the Country Party and the Liberal Party in Queensland have a very good working arrangement in coalition and are doing a good job for the State. The Country Party contests only a certain number of electorates. We contested only 37 in the last election and won 27 of them. There are plenty of good Country Party supporters in electorates that we do not contest. The honourable senator also did not mention that the Labor Party contests every electorate. Five electorates in Queensland are held by independents and neither the Liberal Parly nor the Country Party contests them, so all the figures and percentages quoted by the honourable senator are just so much hooey. Members of the Labor Party talk about the Country Party gerrymander in Queensland. I remind them that when the Labor Party set in train a redistribution in the State it claimed it was for decentralisation, and that it was in the interests of the balanced development of the State, but when the Country Party did the same thing and doubled the numbers in those areas it was accused of a gerrymander. That is the way the Labor Party talks. 1 am interested in the proposition of one vote one value. I should like to know what one vole one value really means. Apparently the ALP claims that equal numbers in electorates would give one value to one vote, that each individual vote would have the same value, ls that what is meant? That does not work out in practice. Let me cite an illustration. Senator Georges is a Queenslander and probably is a little interested in Rugby League. Although New South Wales and Queensland are the only Rugby League States the majority of members on the selection panel come from New South Wales. I am told that Queenslanders are supposed to receive a raw deal because they have only 3 or 4 members out of 13 in a test team even though Queensland beats New South Wales in interstate matches. The position is accepted because New South Wales has a majority of members’ on the panel.
A typical political example is Cyprus where there are more Greek Cypriots than Turkish Cypriots. We all know what happened when Cyprus was granted self government. Did anyone here suggest that the vote of a Turkish Cypriot had a value equal to that of a Greek Cypriot when the Parliament of the day was stacked in the interests of the Greek Cypriots?
Queensland itself is a very good example of this. Nearly all of our population is in the south east corner of the Slate. That situation is repeated throughout Australia where the big cities have more than half the population of the State. A member of Parliament must have self preservation in mind and must look after his own electorate. Naturally he will press for anything that will benefit his area. If over 50% of the members of Parliament represent electorates in a city it is obvious that they will press for businesses and everything else to come into the area. The advantages then flow to the whole city, not merely to one electorate. A big business organisation in the city of Brisbane will bring benefits to the whole city even though it is located in one electorate. However, a business in Charleville, Longreach, Mount lsa or any other country area benefits only the particular district concerned. lt may be claimed that because there are 15 members of Parliament in a capital city and 12 in the remainder of the State, 15 things which will be of advantage should go to the capital city and the next 12 to the other electorates. But that does not happen. Everything of advantage has been established in the capital cities because of weight of numbers. The benefits are spread over the city areas almost exclusively. Therefore electors in the city areas have an advantage over others. The Labor Party, at any rate since this debate commenced, has been professing the philosophy of one vote one value but it does not practise that philosophy. lt must be a coincidence (hat the States have equal representation on the Labor Party’s Federal Executive. Apparently there are just as many members of the Labor Party in Tasmania and Western Australia as there are in New South Wales. The position in relation to the Queensland Executive is a little more interesting because nearly every member comes from Brisbane.
One of the most powerful unions in Queensland affiliated with the ALP is the Australian Workers Union.
– Is it still with the ALP?
– I do not know, but when the union pays its affiliation fees they seem to make a considerable impact upon the Party’s funds. It is obvious that a high percentage of members of the AWU are members of the ALP in Queensland but they do not have a commensurate say in the executive. It is understandable that in Gregory, for instance, 50% of the members of the AWU support the Country Party. The Western District Secretary said he thought it might be more. I would not know exactly what it is but I should think it would bc nearly 50% of the members. Even though they are compelled, through payment of union dues and other fees to support the Labor Party, they have no say in the inner executive of the organisation, ls it any wonder, therefore, that they support the Country Party?
– What has this got to do with the redistribution?
– It is relevant to the principle of one vote one value. Senator Keeffe has set himself up in this place as the champion of North Queensland. I wonder how he is going to justify himself with north Queensland. In Queensland, 72% of the population lives in 8% of the area. Therefore, what Senator Keeffe says in effect is that 72% of the representation in the State Parliament should come from the people who live in 8% of the area - the people who live down round Brisbane - and that 72% of the representation of Queensland in the House of Representatives should come from that little 8% area and the other 28% of the representation should come from the remaining 92% of the area. In other words, he is suggesting that the people who live in that 92% of the area can cop political annihilation if necessary. I wonder how Senator Keeffe justifies this when he goes to Townsville in north Queensland. How does he convince the people of Townsville and other towns in 92% of the area of the State that they are entitled only to 28% of the representation? We of the Country Party completely disagree with this principle. For that reason 1 favour the majority report of the commissioners and am completely opposed to the dissenting report of Mr Weise.
Why, if we were to have a redistribution based on the method advocated by Senator Keeffe and his colleagues, we in the 92% of the area of Queensland about which I speak might, as well pack up and go down and live in Brisbane because, under Senator Keeffe’s system, we would have no representation at all.
– What rot. Do you suggest you are worth two of the metropolitan people?
– I am only saying that, because of the weight of representation they have, and because of the weight of numbers that they enjoy, the people of Brisbane have more representation than the people in the west and in the north even if they have only one quarter of the quota.
This is what the Labor Party argued in 1949 when, in its redistribution in Queensland, it gave Brisbane 24 seats with a quota of 10,716, south eastern Queensland - the area around Brisbane - 28 seats with a quota of 9,536, north Quensland, 13 seats with a quota of 7,852, and western Queensland 10 seats, with a quota of 4,783. Of course, in those days the Labor Party held 9 out of every 10 seats. Today it has only got about 3 left. And two of them will go at the next election.
I can understand the members of the Labor Party now wanting to create this great area of Vickers which would cover 52% of the area of Queensland and still expect one member to be able to go round it. I am quite satisfied that the people <>f western Queensland will support Bob Katter and Jimmie Corbett at the next election, whenever it may be held. T support the submissions with relation to Queensland.
– There is no doubt that this debate has drifted into many avenues since it commenced. I wonder whether, in the Standing Orders of the Senate, there is any rule governing relevancy. 1 know that there is such a rule in other parliaments, but no such rule appears to exist here. For some time this morning, the work of the Senate has been delayed with allegations and counter allegations of outside control and of executive control of parliamentarians, lt occurred to me that it was akin to Satan approving sin on the part of both sides. If anyone knows anything of any outside control, it is I. I know the extent to which it can go. 1 know just how it operates, and I am mindful of the fact that it operates with the members of the Government parties, too. My experience has been that the back room boys of political parties are not slow to usurp the powers of the elected representatives in Government and Opposition. At every opportunity they endeavour to usurp the power of government - to take the reins of government out of the hands of the elected representatives of the people.
These people who speak so glibly of democracy protest most violently when they are charged with having submitted to outside control on many issues. But this outside control is not all on the one side. It is of no use Senator Greenwood attacking the Australian Labor Party any more than it is of use for Senator Keeffe to get up and protest violently that outside control of his Party does not exist and that, if it does then it is equally bad with the other Parties. I believe that the public is conscious of the fact that it does exist today, especially in connection with the major political parties of Australia. However, I. do not want to offend by elaborating that phase of our discussions today.
Let me say, so far as the redistribution of electoral boundaries is concerned, that it is long overdue. Surely all members of Parliament and the public generally must welcome the fact that this redistribution has taken place. I have in mind the fact that these proposals have been received with approval, but there have been no extravagant charges of gerrymandering or attempting to gerrymander. The leaders of all political parties on both sides have expressed their approval and their satisfaction with the fairness wilh which the work has been carried out.
In the nexus referendum campaign in May 1967, we of the Democratic Labor Party, in association with certain members of the Country Party and certain members of the Liberal Party, argued that there was no urgent need for extra members of the House of Representatives - that the existing number of members was sufficient to cope with all their representation duties if the boundaries were redrawn in the light of the population changes. Goodness knows, there was ample evidence to warrant the redrawing of electoral boundaries. That has been carried out, and, in the main, 1 believe it has been done very satisfactorily.
We pointed out also that party political reasons had been behind the failure to redraw the boundaries since 1955 and that this failure constituted a breach of the spirit of the Constitution. We still subscribe to that view. No argument can be advanced to refute that what I am saying is supported by facts. We all know that at that time a re distribution had been carried in 1962, that a report had come before the House of Representatives. Because the proposals were not acceptable to the Country Party, the members of the Country Party manoeuvred the Australian Labor Party into supporting them in opposing the proposals with the result that the Prime Minister of that day, Sir Robert Menzies, just scrapped them. He put them to bed. I have on one or two occasions quoted his famous words - that he was going to put them to bed - and, in effect, that is what he did. That is how lightly he treated this most important matter.
We of the Democratic Labor Party recognised the need for redrawing the boundaries, and now that has been done, lt has been too long delayed and the delay has been inexcusable. For that reason, we favour the adoption as early as possible of a just and proper electoral redistribution. However this distribution, which will operate for a number of years, must reflect as closely as possible the principles set out in the Electoral Act.
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland has presented a dissenting report from the recommendations of the other two commissioners. The question becomes one for the Senate to determine as to what we should do in regard to the proposed redistribution. 1 think that, by appropriate action, we should allow the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) the opportunity provided for in section 24 of the Act to refer the Queensland report back to the commissioners for reconsideration. I do not agree with all that Mr Weise, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in Queensland, had to say in his dissenting report, but i believe that we cannot disregard his report entirely. We believe that it would be more satisfactory if the Minister were to ask the Queensland commissioners to reconsider the reports and the maps with a view to reaching some unanimous decision in this connection; This is the only State, 1 understand, in which there is any disputation. I think we should aim at achieving a unanimous report if that is at all possible. As one wo u I’d expect, we have examined the redistribution proposals for Queensland, including Mr Weise’s dissenting report. Whilst we believe there is some merit in his arguments, even though we are not in full agreement with every word in his report, it is obvious that the
Queensland electors lodged more substantial and more numerous objections to the early plans of the commissioners than did the electors of any other State. The dissenting report is of such a major character that we consider it desirable that the three commissioners confer again to consider the matter and to see whether they can reach a unanimous decision.
In the ordinary course of events the next federal election is not due to be held until late 1969. To persuade the DLP that, it shoul’d readily give priority to the suggested boundaries to permit them to be used in an early election rather than refer them for reconsideration and thus defer the possibility of an early election would depend on the announcement that an early election was intended and on the presentation of a good and sufficient case by the Government to warrant an election of the House of Representatives at this time. To the present, no good and sound reason has been advanced for an extraordinary election to take place 14 months before the scheduled lime for the next federal1 election. Therefore we do not think that approval of the Queensland redistribution because there is speculation about an election can be justified. So far the possibility of an election has been a matter of political speculation only. It would appear that only one individual knows whether there will be or will not be an election. I have been informed, since we met here this morning, that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) assured the members of the other place that he would not keep them in suspense for much longer. In our view the Government is totally unable to make a case for taking the Parliament to the country 14 months before the life of the present Parliament expires. The Government enjoys a record majority in the other place. There is no political issue on which the Government should seek the opinion of the electors.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr President, prior to the suspension of the sitting I said that I could see no reason why the Government should go to the people this year - 14 months before the scheduled time for it to do so. There are no issues of major importance that would justify the Govern ment going to the people for a mandate. It could be regarded as an unnecessary expenditure - indeed, a wasteful expenditure - of at least S 1 .5m to have an election this year merely for the purpose of giving the present Prime Minister a mandate in his own right. I have dealt wilh this aspect on a previous occasion, but I consider my remarks worth repeating. When the late Mr Harold Holt led the coalition parties to the people in 1966 and their policy was overwhelmingly accepted, the present Prime Minister was a Minister in the Holt ‘ Government. It was not the late Mr Holt that was accepted in so certain and decisive a manner; it was the policy of the coalition parties, plus the lack’ of- confidence in the official Opposition that gave the late Mr Holt the big majority that ‘he gained at that election.
Has there been a disturbance of that policy? The Government will not admit that there has been. But it is evident to me that there has been a ‘very definite change in its defence and foreign affairs policies as well as in other ‘matters. How-‘ ever, it is not for those reasons that it is speculated that the Government is going to the people at the end of’ November. T understand that one reason which has been advanced for the holding of an election is to synchronise the House of Representatives and Senate elections. The next Senate election is scheduled for late 1970. Assuming that a House of Representatives election were held later this year, to synchronise with the next Senate election it would be necessary for ‘ the House of Representatives to hold another election after a 2-year period or at the most a 2iyear period, if the second election were delayed until early in 1971.
– Do you think that the price of petrol has anything to do with it?
– Many things could be contributing factors. But the fact is that six polls have been held since 1961. There were House of Representatives and Senate elections in 1961 and an extraordinary House of Representatives election in. 1963. There may have been some merit in the Government going to the people in 1963 because it had only a very small majority - 1 think it was only one, or two at the most. There were Senate elections in 1964 and 1967, a House of Representatives election in 1966 and a referendum in 1967. lt is now speculated that there will be another election in 1968. 1 hope those who are plugging for an election in 1968 will tell the people that, if it is to synchronise the House of Representatives and Senate elections, they can expect another election in 2 years. If an election is needed to synchronise the elections for the two Houses of Parliament why does the Government not do. the right thing and reduce the term of the Parliament from 3 years to 2 years because elections are held more frequently every 2 years than every 3 years. I would have thought that the trend today would be towards extending the life of the Parliament from 3. years to 5 years.
For more than one reason the Democratic Labor Party is opposed to any extraordinary election, lt does not feel disposed to give the Government a blank cheque on major issues, such as defence and foreign affairs, particularly in view of the action of the British Government in withdrawing troops from east of the Suez and the great change that has taken place in Australia’s defence responsibilities. No country is protecting the Indian Ocean at present; it is left open. But this fact does not seem to be concerning very many people. I repeat that there is no justification for an election. I think that this is the opinion of the general public today. The Government has a majority of 3S in the House of Representatives, which is an extraordinary majority. Perhaps the Prime Minister thinks that the Government holds too many seats - and it may, too. Perhaps some members of the coalition parties are a burden to the Prime Minister. But who is he to get rid of?
The DLP opposes the recommendations of the distribution commissioners for Queensland. We think that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) should be given the opportunity to act in accordance with the terms of section 24 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and refer back to the distribution commissioners a recommendation which has been rejected by one of the houses of Parliament. The DLP does not accept the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition because the DLP’s reasons for referring the commissioners’ proposals back are not based entirely on Mr Weise’s reasons for dissent. For that reason, I foreshadow that at a later stage I will move a further amendment for the disapproval of the commissioners’ recommendations.
Before concluding I wish to say a few words on the principle of one vote one value. 1 have never - not for many years, anyway - taken the matter very seriously because in my long political experience, having had 28 years experience in the State Parliament of Queensland, I have found that if you are in government you see a matter different to the way you see it when you are in Opposition. Hence, there is not a great deal of sincerity behind the advocacy of one vote one value. I think that it is a political and theoretical platitude, lacking sincere conviction. Any experienced person knows that the principle of one vote one value is almost impracticable to implement.
Senator Poyser represents Victoria in the Senate. A State the size of Victoria with a centralised population I suppose is more likely to achieve one vote one value than any other State. Because Senator Poyser is a Victorian I was less surprised than I otherwise would have been to see him wave his hand and say: ‘These people who represent electorates of over 200,000 square miles have the advantage of aeroplanes, roads and facilities that did not exist years ago to visit their electors in sparsely populated areas’. In other words, he was saying that members representing such electorates should devote all their leisure time to driving in cars or riding in aeroplanes, that they should forfeit all family life, because they would be required to do that if they wished to keep in contact with their electors.
– I do not know of any of them resigning from Parliament because their electorates are too big.
– Senator Poyser delivered the speech of a metropolitan member without experience. I represented a metropolitan electorate for 28 years. Its area was not more than 2 square miles, but I was always conscious of the task of members representing country electorates. 1 will give an example. Amongst the Queensland State electorates is the metropolitan electorate of Baroona, with 1 1 ,979 voters in an area of 2.1 square miles. The State electorate of Gregory in the central and north west area covers about 159,000 square miles, or an area six times the size of Tasmania. It has an enrolment of 7,617 voters. If that electorate were to carry an enrolment similar to a metropolitan seat it would need to cover a much bigger area. This would mean that even with the good roads and aeroplanes which have been referred to it would be humanly impossible for a member to cover all an electorate of that size, lt would not be practicable. That is why 1 say that a lot of: humbug is talked about the principle of one vote one value. lt is impossible of achievement, lt is no more than a political catchcry to be used according to political expedience.
When Senator Lawrie started to quote from a Queensland Hansard last night he refreshed my memory on many aspects of this matter. I thought his purpose at first was to applaud a Queensland Labor Government for its broad vision and for the manner in which it catered for the outback people. However, I discovered that he was simply trying to play the Queensland Labor Government of that time against the present Opposition in the Senate, members of which have had so much to say about one vole one value. Anyway, that was his work and I thought that he did not make a bad job of it.
However, Senator Lawrie pulled up too early. He should have read for the benefit of honourable senators the expressions of Mr Nicklin, then Leader of the Country Party Opposition, and Senator Morris, as he became, who was then Leader of the Liberal Party in Queensland. Senator Morris was a great advocate of one vote one value. By accident some years later they came into office. Did they then give effect to one vote one value? Of course not, because they know that in a State like Queensland with vast areas and scattered population it is utterly impossible. That is one of the reasons why I cannot go all the way with Mr Wiese in his dissenting judgment. He proposed to give to the division of Kennedy an additional 100,000 square miles, although it is already about 250,000 square miles in area.
The electorate of Gregory, to which I have referred, covers about 159,000 square miles, and includes fairly big centres such as Longreach, Winton, and Muttaburra, and large, sparsely settled areas. A metropolitan member does not know he is alive when compared with a. country member. I have known some quite assiduous and conscientious country members of my own Party who were required to drive hundreds of miles to and from their electorates. Some of them developed ulcers as a result of long hours of driving. They were required to live in hotels and in quarters at Parliament House in Brisbane, with little or no time at .home with their wives and families. The young families of some country members grew up almost unknown to their fathers. We do not want a state of affairs like that. On the other hand, a metropolitan member sleeps in his own bed almost every night, the only exceptions being when he goes away electioneering. He has the company of his wife and family and in many. cases does not find it hard to get around his electorate.
In the metropolitan area of Brisbane there are ten electorates, w.ith an area of 3 square miles or less. Another five electorates cover areas of between 4 and 5 square miles. None of the remaining eight metropolitan electorates is larger than 20 square miles. How can anyone fairly compare the job of representing those electorates with the job of a country member? 1 represented the electorate of South .Brisbane, covering an area of about 2 square miles. The job could be done by tram or bus, or even by bicycle.
– The- elector himself is much closer to you.
– Of course he is but 1 have had too much experience to acknowledge that electors are always on the doorsteps of members of Parliament. They are nol. When I am in Brisbane I attend daily the room allotted to me in the Commonwealth Offices. Thank God I have still got my sight and I miss very little. Do not tell me that any of the members who attend those offices are overworked with interviews. Although I represent, a minority party, I probably would have more interviews than any other Federal member of Parliament within the building with the exception of Mr Cross, the honourable member for Brisbane: I would have at least as many. I passed through the depression years as a young parliamentarian, in the days when the people used to line the footpaths outside a member’s home morning and night. Those days have gone, thank God. What percentage pf electors ever have need to seek the assistance of members of Parliament today? All that poppycock does not go over with me because 1. have been in this game too long to fall for the exaggerated claim of some members of Parliament. I do know that a country member is required to travel long distances to see the people who expect to see him. They do not see him as frequently as metropolitan electors see their members.
– Would not giving him extra assistance get over that problem?
– lt would not eliminate the necessity lor a member to divorce himself from his home life, lt would not eliminate all the time taken up in travelling. Of course not. He could be given every facility - even an FU 1.
– But that would not get ofl’ the ground.
-That. may be.
– The Government will have to do something with them; they will nol be much good for defence.
– And it does not look as though the Mirages will be much good either because we have not the ammunition for them. I ask honourable senators as reasonable people to imagine the size of the areas that would have to be taken into consideration in the northern and western paris of Queensland, where the population is sparse and very scattered, if we were to provide electorates of 12,000 to 15,000 electors for State purposes. 1 have referred already to the Stale electorate of Gregory.
All this talk about one man one vote is rather empty and that is why in 1949, 1 think it was. under’ the Hanlon Government the Stale was zoned and a quota was determined for each zone. Country Party people should never complain about that distribution because it aimed at giving greater representation to the country people than any government had given or has given or has since given to them. Metropolitan members of Parliament and those who are talking about one vote one value should stop to consider what is involved. Some of those members travel about on committee work and on electoral matters and they know what it is lo travel long distances occasionally, but I ask them to imagine having to do that once a month or perhaps more often. What Senator Bull said last night was sound. He did not overstate or exaggerate the position. He lives in a country district and he knows what is expected of him. Let no more be said about that. Do not let us run away with this idea that the principle one vote one value is practicable of achievement because it is not, in my view. Victoria is the only State where we could achieve a situation that was anywhere near satisfactory, and in that instance it is because it is a compact State with a big population. More than 60% of the population of Victoria lives in Melbourne.
But consider an electorate like Kennedy which is in dispute and which has an area of 282,320 square miles. Its enrolment in 1968 was 38,223. Consider also the electorates of Ryan and Bowman, which are metropolitan seats. Ryan has an enrolment of 57,367 and Bowman an enrolment of 53,670. If Kennedy were to have a quota similar to either of those metropolitan seats, what size would it develop into?
– How about going the other way and cutting down the quota of electors?
– I think the idea of the redistribution is to have a more even distribution of population, but suppose we extend that principle. With an area of 282,320 square miles we are reaching a point at which no human being could be expected to adequately represent the electorate. Senator Poyser reiterated the question asked by other advocates of the one vote one value principle: What do we represent in Parliament? We must represent people. We do not represent square miles, acres or areas. That is true up to a point, but let us be reasonable enough to examine all the conditions that are associated with the proper representation of the people. Let us consider other electorates. One which comes to mind is Kalgoorlie which has an area of 898,000 square miles and an enrolment of 39,375. We could not expect Kalgoorlie, with that area, to be extended to meet the quota of a metropolitan scat in Perth. I do not know that there is much need for me to go on with further argument in this connection because I think the subject has been covered quite fully.
I have never represented a country electorate in the State Parliament, but I represent now the whole of the State, to the best of my ability. I know what distances are involved. Can honourable senators imagine one Stale electorate in Queensland being six times the size of
Tasmania or of Victoria? There is not a great deal of difference in the size of those States. Yet it is suggested that the quotas of country electorates should be extended to meet the quotas of electorates in the metropolitan area. We cannot have that. We must be fair about these things. I cannot see any fairness in the advocacy of this suggestion, particularly when it conies from someone who should know. However, I think some ignorance is involved and there is a lack of thinking on the part of some people. Anyone who has had experience of electorates and States knows how impossible that suggestion is. Hence I say that we should not engage in a lot of hullabaloo and phoney talk about it. We have to be practical men and women in this Parliament and we should face the issues.
I feel that there is no cause for complaint at the way things stand at present unless there is advocated a policy of forsaking country areas entirely so that the people of the metropolitan areas may dictate policy and run the State or the country as a whole. 1 do not subscribe to that suggestion. I think as much of an elector in Timbuktu as I do of an elector in the city. Indeed, in many cases the country elector contributes more to the economy of the country than most city electors.
– Timbuktu is in a central African republic.
– Yes, 1 know that; 1 think the honourable senator has told me once before. In connection with Mr Weise’s dissenting report, the further amendment that I propose to move later is made necessary by reason of the fact that the Opposition’s amendment does not cover our requirements. Our objection to the approval of the report is not based entirely on Mr Weise’s dissentions. Consequently I foreshadow that I shall move as an amendment to Senator Georges’ amendment:
Leave out al] words after ‘Distribution Commissioners’, insert: for the following reasons:
a major dissent was presented by the Chairman of the Commissioners Mr 1. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland
the rejection of the proposed redistribution by the Senate empowers the Minister to refer the proposal back to the Commissioners for reconsideration
the Senate is of the opinion thai the proposal should be reconsidered by the Commissioners, with a view if possible to arrival at a unanimous decision
the Senate is of the opinion that the Minister should when empowered by the decision of the Senate so refer the proposal back to the Commissioners and so requests him.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Georges. I suggest that members of the Opposition are as appreciative of the efforts of country members as anybody who has spoken in this debate. I realise that members representing country electorates have difficulty, but 1 suggest that an examination of the proposition put forward by Mr Weise will reveal that in some cases what he suggests will reduce the work of country members. It does not matter what we do about country areas; the representatives will still suffer the difficulties referred to by Senator Gair. It does not matter one iota whether we extend their areas by another 50 square miles or reduce their areas by 50 square miles; they will still be required to come down to Canberra and travel as they do at the present time. The Constitution provides for a quota, system. Surely then it would be assumed that commissioners would direct their attention to endeavouring to get as near as possible to the quota but where possible to improve on that. I would suggest that is precisely what Mr Weise has done. If we examine this proposition we find that in Capricornia he has increased the figure from 44,957 to 49,834. In the Darling Downs electorate he has reduced the figure from 53,000 to 49,000. In Dawson he has increased it by 1,000. In Fisher he has reduced it by 3,000, and so on, until we reach the conclusion that on the figures submitted by Mr Weise we get approximately 50,000 voters in an electorate. That is one advantage.
With regard to the principle of one vote one value I agree, having travelled fairly extensively throughout Queensland, that it would be almost impossible to achieve that objective. But at the same time if we strive for the objective - and I submit that is what Commissioner Weise has done - then we will get nearer to that ideal. It has been said: What is meant by one vote one value? 1 would refer Government supporters to the thoughts of their own members in relation to this. Mr H. B. Turner MP in another place said:
I say thai there is no basis for discrimination between one electorate and another in this country. We. are not living in 1830, 1870 or 1890. We aic living in 1965. at a time when the whole community is literate and when more people are going lo school for longer than ever before. We live at a time when more people are going to the universities than ever before, and the number is continually increasing. We live at a time when two generations still living have taken part in wars, and have travelled’ and seen the world and know what goes on in it. We live at a time of affluence in which many other Australians, both young and old, travel throughout the world. . . In short, we live at a time in which there has never been a better educated electorate. . . In a country like this in times like these, can there bc any justification for discriminating between one citizen and another? There may have been basis for such discrimination in other days when the villager in England was illiterate and knew nothing of the world beyond his village green. . . . As 1 have said, there may have been a reason for discrimination in those days, but there is none today.
Mr Turner said that in 1965 and it has equal emphasis today. He was supported in those remarks by Mr W. C. Wentworth, who is now Minister for Social Services, who said in another place:
People will say: ‘What is the magic in this equality of value of votes?’ Well, there is no magic. People are naturally unequal. Some votes may bc thought to be more considered and of more weight than others’. But who is. to determine which is the weightier vote? If we give any weight to voles, then we import the possibility of abuse, because this becomes an arbitrary decision. The importance of the equality of votes and values is simply that it is the only way to make a democracy work without introducing an arbitrary factor.
What 1 am saying is that we should not have the principle under which a vote in the country is more important than a vote in the city. Each vote should be worth the same. 1 now refer, to community of interest. Most certainly if we analyse what Commissioner Weise has said- we find that there is a strong case in support of community of interest. What Commissioner Weise has done is to put all the grazing interests in the same electorate. Surely that would be a sound proposition and would, to a substantial extent, reduce the work of the member because he would not be required to look after divided interests. He would be looking after the same community interests. Of course, the exception to that is in Mount Isa, but I would remind honourable senators that Mount Isa is an importation. The minerals were there, they were found and then they were developed. They mean a great deal1 to the people of Kennedy.
I believe there are a lot of things in favour of Commissioner Weise’s propositions. The commissioners appointed in Queensland for this job are three eminent citizens. But with respect I would say that Mr Weise would have a greater knowledge of the requirements of the electoral system and of voting trends than either of the other two commissioners. Let me hasten to say that 1 do not wish my words to be taken as a criticism of either of those other commissioners. They were asked to do a job. I believe that they earnestly employed themselves in that direction, although I am indeed sorry that they could not come down with a unanimous report.
I believe the Government was very fortunate indeed in having selected as one of the commissioners a person who might be regarded as an employee of a Minister of the Crown. Again, I am not suggesting that there was any undue influence on the gentleman to whom .1 refer, and if there had been I am satisfied he would have taken no notice of that undue influence.
– lt was an indiscretion that should have been avoided.
– Most certainly it should have been avoided, lt was an indiscretion and I think Senator Greenwood would most certainly agree that justice must not only be done but it must also appear to be done. There will be many people in Queensland in the years to come who will question whether justice has appeared to be done and it is all as a result of the indiscretion of the Government in that direction. Many things have been said in this debate which I believe were unfortunate. However, it was a Government senator particularly who introduced the discordant note and I feel1 compelled to advance my reasons against the introduction of such a discordant note. It would be obvious that in a matter such as this every political party worth its salt would examine the proposals that were submitted to them. All political parties were invited to express their points of view when the commissioners were first appointed. Consequently, would not it be natural for those political parties to interest themselves in examining the proposals that were eventually submitted? Of course, that is what happened. But it appeared to me from what Senator Greenwood said - unfortunately he is not in the chamber at the moment - that the Australian Labor Parly was the only party to do anything terrible in relation to this matter. Let me refer to some newspaper clippings which shoul’d disabuse Senator Greenwood’s mind of that idea and which may make him a little ashamed of introducing this note into (he debate. The ‘Australian’ of 1 9th July 1968 reported:
Mr Gorton conferred with the federal director of the Liberal Party, Mr R. J. Willoughby, and with other senior party officials late on Tuesday.
– The hidden persuaders.
– That is right. The Canberra Times’ of 19th July 1968 stated:
In Canberra, a meeting of all State secretaries of the Liberal Party made an analysis of the proposals which is expected to form the basis of a report to the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton.
I have no doubt that, had the report been unfavourable and had it said that the Liberal Party should not accept the recommendations of the commissioners, that Party would have acted in accordance with the wishes of ils executive. The Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of Friday, 19th July, stated:
The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, conferred wilh me Stale secretaries al Liberal Parly headquarters on Wednesday night.
The secretaries met again yesterday to prepare a Stale by Slate appraisal for Mr Gorton.
The Colin try Party is not entirely out of this matter. The ‘Daily Mirror’ of 19th July 1968 slated:
The Country Party will support the federal seat redistribution proposals if they come before Parliament in their present form.
Country Parly officials-
That is the Country Party Executive - . . have spent more than 24 hours studying the effects of the proposals.
The Country Party leader, Mr McEwen, is expected to announce his parly’s endorsement at the weekend.
On 26th July the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reported:
The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, will discuss electoral prospects wilh the federal executive of the Liberal Parly tomorrow . . .
Mr Gorton and the executive will consider a full analysis of the apparent impact of the proposals for redistribution of federal seats announced by the electoral commissioners last week.
On 27th July the ‘Daily Telegraph’ slated:
A meeting of the federal Liberal Party executive in Canberra decided the electoral commissioners had done as fair a job as could be expected.
The Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, at this meeting said he believed the Country Party would ‘go along’ wilh the proposed redistribution.
There are other instances of political parties, meeting on this matter. 1 believe that they were justly entitled to meet. Surely there is no excuse for saying that the Australian Labor Party is wrong when its executive meets to discuss the proposals and for offering criticism of it, when the Government parties meet but no criticism is offered of them.
I believe that the matter has been canvassed quite extensively and that any other words that 1 could say would be superfluous. I submit to the . Government that Mr Weise is a man of repute, as it knows him to be. 1 think the Government will agree that he has a thorough knowledge of the electoral requirements of Queensland. 1 submit with equal emphasis that he knows the community interests of the people of Queensland. Finally 1 submit that his proposals come . much closer to equity in voting than do .those contained in the majority report. Consequently, I ask the Government to accept the amendment moved by Senator Georges. 1 believe that it would do much to assist in achieving a redistribution which I hope would be the unanimous decision of the commissioners.
– The situation is that we have already passed two of the six redistribution proposals. Now that we have come to thos. for the third major State of the Commonwealth we find amendments not only from the Opposition but also from the Australian Democratic Labor Party. As Senator Greenwood mentioned yesterday, members of the Opposition have received instructions to vote against the distribution commissioners’ proposals for Queensland. He was immediately criticised by speakers from the Opposition side of the chamber, who said that members of the Liberal Party received their instructions from the executive of their Party and had to obey them. While 1 was listening with great interest to the debate this morning, Senator Keeffe spent the major part of his time criticising the Liberal
Party and accusing it of directing its members in this place.
The facts of the matter are that the Liberal Party receives recommendations from its executive, from its divisional officers and from the parliamentary members of the Party and that the Cabinet makes its decision after hearing those recommendations. That is why honourable senators on this side of the chamber sometimes vote against the Government for reasons of conscience.
– The Minister should ask Senator Wright to tell him about the pressures that are exerted.
– 1 point out to Senator Cant an interesting fact. 1 have been in the Senate for almost 19 years, and during the whole of that time I have seen only one member of the Labor Party vote against the instructions of the executive of the Party. Without mentioning any names, J understand that on that occasion it was a mistake. But let us forget the mistakes and turn to the fact that once members of the Labor Party receive their instructions they obey them to the letter. If they do not, their resignation is accepted. If proof of that statement is needed 1 can cite two or three rather interesting situations.
– Senator Wright’s endorsement was nearly withdrawn. Certain Liberals came to me and asked mc to assist them to have his endorsement withdrawn. Senator Scott should remember that.
– I remember quite a lot of things but I do not always mention them in this place. Senator Keeffe seemed to devote the whole of his speech to this subject so I think we should clear it up. Senator Cant will remember very well that in 1951 we were debating in this chamber - some of us are still here - the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. The Labor Party was opposing the Bill. At the express wish of several of the late Mr Chifley’s most devoted supporters a special conference of the thirty-six faceless men was held in Canberra and, at the instigation of the Western Australian executive the thirty-six faceless men reversed their previous decision and directed the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to withdraw its opposition to the Bill, much to the chagrin of members of the Party and the bitter disappointment of Mr Chifley and Dr Evatt. That is the true position. We all remember the debates of those times. The debate on that Bill lasted for 3 weeks until members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party received their riding instructions from their executive. But that is a long time ago and I think we should proceed.
The second classic example in contemporary history of the thirty-six faceless men issuing a direction to the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party occurred in 1963.
– That is not true.
– The honourable senator can contradict me later if be wishes. In 1963 the Commonwealth Government decided to grant permission to the United States of America to establish a naval communication station at North West Cape. The Labor Party was completely perplexed. Some members wanted to support the establishment of the base and others were bitterly opposed to it. In desperation Mr Calwell, without consulting his closest supporters, sought a special conference of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party. The conference was held at the Hotel Kingston early in 1963. It was a topsy turvy show. The executive was inside the Hotel Kingston but both Mr Calwell and Mr Whitlam, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, were humiliated by being forced to remain outside the Hotel Kingston under the street light, I am told, while the thirty-six faceless men argued whether Australia should grant permission to the United States to establish the base. After many hours of wrangling with both Mr Calwell and Mr Whitlam still outside-
– Still under the light?
– Still outside under the light. The thirty-six faceless men reached the decision to direct - ‘direct’ is the operative word - the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to oppose the establishment of the base. The meeting commenced at 8.30 p.m. and Mr Calwell and Mr Whitlam were kept waiting outside for nearly 5 hours until they were summoned into the conference room to receive their instructions. It is interesting to note that those instructions were obeyed in another place and in the Senate. However, I do not want to devote the whole of my time to that aspect.
Senator Milliner and other honourable senators opposite seem to think that it is terribly important that in Queensland there should be one vote one value. Senator Lawrie has mentioned what happened in relation to the redistribution of Queensland State electorates in 1947 and 1948 when the number of members of Parliament was increased to, 1 think, seventy-five.
– The Liberal and Country parties opposed it.
– Yes, they opposed it because they thought that all of the additional thirteen seats would go to Labor but in fact Labor won only ten of the thirteen. The honourable senator was a member of the Queensland Parliament at that time and he was not particularly impressed about votes having equal value. Let us face facts. As Senator Gair has said, WC view things differently in opposition, from the way in which we view them when in government because when we are in government we must be responsible. The facts of life are that no nation in the world has been able yet to .achieve the objective laid down by members of the Opposition in this place. It is an absolute impossibility.
– What about the decisions of the United Slates Supreme Court?
– You come from Queensland and I have told you before, and I will tell you again, that 4 or 5 years after a redistribution in Queensland in 1947 instigated by a party of your political colour some electorates had 4,000 electors and others had 18,000 or 20,000. That is not an example of the one vote one value policy. The Queensland Government did not do anything to correct it, but we are trying to bring back a system in which there will be a 20% margin in the quota of electors.
– But we-
– I remember reading in the Queensland Hansard the report of a speech Senator Gair made in 1949. It was a very good speech because he was acting responsibly on behalf of the State Government. This Commonwealth Government, being responsible, is carrying out the same kind of principle. There is much talk now about the various propositions. I should like to comment first on the remarks made yesterday by Senator Georges. When referring to the 1961 election he said that the Liberal and County Party coalition obtained 40% of the votes and won 62 seats whereas the Australian Labor Party gained 47% of the votes and also won 62 seats. His argument is valid only if this Parliament disregards the remaining 13% of the electorate. Why did he not say how they voted? He would have given the complete picture then. But that was not done. After all this talk about democracy that we have heard during the debate, surely it will be admitted that this 13% of the electors must be recognised. But the Labor Party does not think so. lt did not recognise them because it did not suit the Party’s purposes to do so. Our policy is that 100% of the electors of the Commonwealth must be recognised. Of course, the voices of this 13% were heard eventually and the result is well known to Senator Georges because we are still in government, as we were then.
The Opposition has also referred to the minority statement of Mr Weise, the Chairman of the Commission in Queensland. Mr Weise’s statement is not a report within the terms of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and it is not competent for Parliament to adopt his plan. However, I think I should say that a comparison of Mr Weise’s proposals with those of the majority of the commissioners indicates that no real advantage would be gained by either the Opposition or the Government under Mr Weise’s proposals. A large western electorate comprising some 357,700 square miles would create difficulties for a member and his constituents.
As was pointed out by Senator Lawrie, Mr Weise’s proposed division, to be called Vickers, cuts across the lines of communication and this can only increase the difficulties of the member in giving his constituents the service to which they are entitled. Therefore 1 think it can be safely said that, in the final analysis, it must be realised that if the report of a majority of the commissioners is not accepted and if the amendment proposed by the Opposition and that foreshadowed by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) happened to be carried, then, if there happens to be an election this year, there will not be sufficient time for another redistribution to be carried out in Queensland before that election is held.
– If you had made a decent redistribution you would not have had to send it back.
– The honourable senator said: ‘If you had made a decent redistribution’.I did not do it. I do not want this sort of interjection because it does not become the honourable senator. The facts are that there is no real difference electorally in the two plans and if the proposals before the Senate arc rejected then the people living in Queensland will be denied the opportunity of having a redistribution if the Prime Minister decides - and only he will make the decision - to have an election before the end of this year. That would mean that five States would go to the electors on new boundaries and one State would go to the electors on boundaries which are 10 or 15 years old. The Government is not: prepared to accept either the amendment moved by the Opposition or that foreshadowed by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Georges’ amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I now move:
Leave out all words after “ Distribution Commissioners “ (in Senator Georges’ amendment), insert ‘for the following reasons: -
a major dissent was presented by the Chairman of the Commissioners Mr I. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland
the rejection of the proposed redistribution by (he Senate empowers the Minister to refer the proposal back to the Commissioners for reconsideration
the Senate is of the opinion that the proposal should be reconsidered by the Commissioners, with a. view if possible to arrival at a unanimous decision
the Senate is of the opinion that the Minister should when empowered by the decision of the Senate so refer the proposal back to the Commissioners and so requests him.’
– I formally second the motion.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Gair’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– /The question now is:
That the following words be inserted: fur the following reasons:
a major dissent was presented by the Chairman of the Commissioners Mr 1.’ F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland
the rejection of the proposed redistribution by the Senate empowers the Minister to refer the proposal back to the Commissioners for reconsideration
the Senate is of the opinion that the proposal should bc reconsidered by-the Commissioners, with a view if possible to arrival at a unanimous decision
the Senate is of the opinion that the Minister should when empowered by the decision of the Senate so refer the proposal back to the Commissioners and so requests him.
– The course that the matter has taken is this: Originally a proposal was put by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) that the distribution should be approved. The Senate has taken the course of defeating that by deleting the operative words of approval. That meets the wishes of the Opposition so far as it goes. The Opposition wished to have included in the resolution a request to the Minister to exercise his powers under the Act so that the mattei would be referred back to the distribution commissioners and a fresh proposal could be introduced. In substance that is contained in the amendment moved by Senator Georges on behalf of the Opposition and in the amendment being moved by Senator Gair. There is some difference between the propositions put by Senator Georges and those put by Senator Gair in that Senator Georges’ proposal stated directly that the approval of the distribution was rejected for the reasons given by commissioner Weise, whereas Senator Gair’s proposal indicates that the reasons are that a major dissent was presented by the chairman of the commissioners, Mr Weise, and then the verbiage is not very much different.
The Opposition’s stand here is clear. The Democratic Labor Party made it clear that it would not support Senator Georges’ amendment. The substantial effect of the Opposition’s stand will be achieved by Senator Gair’s proposed amendment; namely, that as a result of the last vote taken by the Senate the distribution will be disapproved If this amendment is carried the Senate will determine that the Minister refer the matter back to the commissioners. The only point of difference will be that instead of the disapproval occurring for the reasons stated by Commissioner Weise it will be on the ground that a major dissent was presented by Commissioner Weise. In those circumstances, the Opposition has decided that the only course which would achieve its substantial aim is to accept the proposal which has been advanced by Senator Gair by way of an amendment to Senator Georges’ amendment. Therefore, the Opposition will support Senator Gair’s amendment.
– I am quite certain that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who is the Minister responsible for the passage of these resolutions through the Senate, will wish to speak to Senator Gair’s amendment. But before that happens I intercede to state the facts of the situation. Let us have no illusions. The Australian Labor Party and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) have abdicated their positions to the Democratic Labor Party. We have witnessed a spectacle today that has probably never been witnessed in this chamber before. Senator Georges, who is the spokesman for the ALP, succeeded by vote in having his resolution carried and immediately becoming a motion. Then Senator Gair moved his amendment which rescinds a substantial part of the motion that has just been carried. Senator Gair did not speak to his amendment.
– I do not think the Minister followed what was happening.
– I followed it very closely. All the honourable senator’s legalisms will not get him out of the situation in which he finds himself.
– The Minister does not know what the Senate carried. It was a proposal to leave out the operative words of Senator Scott’s motion.
– I will read the motion that was carried. Senator Georges’ motion was:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert - the Senate disapproves of the distribution. . . .
– That is where it stopped. It stopped at the words: ‘Leave out all words after “that” ‘.
– Do not worry about that. The whole spirit of the thing is that the Opposition, having discovered that it was in some difficulties with the Democratic Labor Party, immediately walked away from its own resolution.
– I rise to order, Mr President. I draw your attention to standing order 145, which states:
No amendment shall be proposed to be made to any words which the Senate has resolved shall not be left out, or which have been inserted in or added to a Question, except it be the addition of other words thereto.
The Senate has voted on the question of adding other words.I submit that the last vote was out of order.
– I refer the honourable senator to standing order 149. The point of order is not upheld.
– Here we have a situation in which the Government moves a motion and an amendment to that motion is moved by Senator Georges.
– In two parts.
– It was in two parts and it was read to the Senate.
– Only one was read.
– No, the whole of it was read. The motion moved by Senator Georges was:
Leave out all words after’ That’, insert: the Senate disapproves of the distribution-
– The second part has not been put.
– I was not in the chamber when Senator Georges movedhis motion last night.
– It has not been put to the Senate. The only question carried has been to leave out-
– Am I right in saying that Senator Georges moved an amendment and made a speech last night?
– The only question put to the Senate is to leave out the words that Senator Georges proposed should be left out and that has been carried. ft was to leave out part of Senator Scott’s motion. That vote has destroyed Senator Scott’s motion.
– An amendment has been moved by Senator Georges and notice has been given by Senator Gair of a further amendment. The amendment as moved by Senator Georges was put.
– No, only the first part.
– I understood that it was put.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Gair’s amendment) be inserted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 26 September (vide page 998), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of South Australia into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs A. J. Walsh, H. A. Bailey and A. R. Kopp, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and that the names of the - Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name ‘Hawker’ be substituted for ‘Holder’.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 26 September (vide page 998), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions as proposed- by Messrs L. J. Abbott, H. Camm and J. W. Robson, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose pf redistributing the said Slate into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 26 September (vide page 1001), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of Tasmania into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs J. M. Windsor, F. Miles and M. E. Young, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, bc adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 September (vide page 985), on motion by Senator McKellar:
That the Bill be now read a second tune.
– This legislation slightly improves repatriation cover for servicemen who are returning to Australia from prescribed areas for rest and recuperation, on emergency leave granted on compassionate grounds, on duty, or for medical and surgical reasons. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has said that the period of a visit to Australia covered by the legislation is reasonable, but it extends to only 14 days. It may be that in current circumstances 14 days meets the situation, but in cases where leave is granted for medical and surgical reasons it may be insufficient. However, as I have said, improved benefits are granted by this legislation. In our opinion they are overdue.
The Bill also provides for eligibility for Service pensions for servicemen who have served in the special areas. As the legislation stands at present such eligibility is not provided. At present, when a serviceman returns to Australia for any of the reasons I mentioned earlier, even though his unit may be in a special area, he is not covered for repatriation benefits. It is obvious that this Bill improves the position. This action should have been taken some time ago. The Opposition agrees that servicemen who return to Australia from a unit that is on duty allotted in special areas - the prescribed areas - are in a different position from servicemen who return to Australia on completion of their service.
We do not intend to oppose the Bill. We acknowledge that the provisions seek to cover temporary absences from a unit. I have made the point to the Minister that in the future it may be necessary to consider extending the period of 14 days to cover circumstances in which a serviceman may have to remain in Australia for special reasons. He should not be discriminated against in those circumstances. It seems to me that this is an appropriate piece of legislation. The Opposition has been concerned about the prescribed areas, which are the Malayan Peninsula, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei, Sabah in North Borneo, South Vietnam and certain waters. When reading of accidents that have occurred to pilots testing Fill aircraft it has occurred to me that they might be recruited for special duties outside Australia, away from their units which are serving in the special areas. Pilots may be given duties outside special areas for periods lasting longer than 14 days. 1 think we have had experience in such matters, lt seems to me that in those circumstances the servicemen would not be entitled to benefit from the provisions of this legislation. They would be covered by the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees Act. I would like the Minister to explain that position. Are the difficulties 1 have outlined applicable in these cases, or does the Government propose to treat them as special cases?
The Opposition intended to move an amendment to this Bill to provide for the automatic acceptance of tuberculosis as a war caused injury. Honourable senators will remember that during the debate on the Estimates, on 18th September 1 reported upon representations made by the Federated TB Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Association of Australia. I also referred to replies given by the Minister. At that time the Minister said he was considering what was to be done. At page 780 of Hansard of 18th September the Minister is reported to have said:
I will be writing a letter to the Association in a few days. I do not think that the honourable senator would expect me to give an answer in this chamber until the Association received my reply. This is only a matter of courtesy.
This morning I asked the Secretary of the Association whether he had received a reply from the Minister. He told me that he had not. It seems to me that as a matter of courtesy, if the Minister knew at that time of the intention to provide for tuberculosis in this legislation he should have told the Association of the position. We did not know until yesterday that that cover was proposed. However, we welcome the proposal. We had decided to introduce an amendment, but in the light of the information circulated this afternoon by the Minister, I think I should wait to be guided by the assurances of the Minister. It seems to me that his proposed amendment attempts to cover the position we would have sought. For these reasons we do not now propose !o move an amendment. The Opposition does not oppose the legislation and, for the reasons which 1 have outlined, will support the amendment which 1 understand the Minister will move in committee. He has already informed the Senate that its purpose is to cover ex-servicemen who have served in Vietnam and to put them in the same position with respect to tuberculosis as those who served during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.
– 1 believe that this is a very timely Bill and J commend the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) for its introduction. The first purpose of the measure is to extend a repatriation cover enjoyed by servicemen under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act to visitors to Australia under the rest and recreation leave arrangements and certain other visitors to Australia who are here for a short duration on duty for medical treatment or on compassionate leave. I refer particularly to the first provision because I should like to raise a query that has been put to me in respect of servicemen home on leave, lt could be that a serviceman home on compassionate leave for a short period will take part in some sporting event. The local football club may call on him to play with the team and he may suffer an injury. This has occurred in one instance of which I am aware. I should like the Minister when closing the debate to tell us whether such a serviceman home on leave who is injured while engaged in sport would qualify for cover under the Bill. 1 support the Bill.
– in reply - 1 thank the Opposition for the cooperation it has shown, not only in supporting the Bill but also in withdrawing its amendment. I can assure honourable senators opposite that the subject matter of their amendment is covered by the amendment that I propose to move in the committee stage. I mentioned yesterday when giving notice of the proposed amendment that a decision had been made, I think on Tuesday, that this proposal should be included in the Bill. However, T did not receive the printed form of the draft amendment until after lunch today. This is the reason that it was not circulated earlier. I gave Senator Bishop notice of what the amendment contained and I can assure him that he will see in the committee stage that what he wanted covered will be covered by the amendment.
During his address on the Bill he raised the question whether 14 days cover under this measure would be long enough. As he and other honourable senators would know, the normal rest and recreation leave is for 5 or 6 days, the duration depending on travel arrangements. In order to provide for a reasonable amount of cover for individuals in Australia on leave we thought that we would extend the period to 14 days. The honourable senator asked what would happen if the serviceman were here for longer than 14 days. In this case it may well be a matter for the Army to ensure that he is reallotted; in other words, be would no longer remain on special overseas service. In this event he would be in the same category as men who are serving in Australia and have not left our shores. As the honourable senator suggested, the serviceman would be covered by Commonwealth compensation. We think that this measure will provide sufficient cover.
Up to this point of time those who have come back to Australia on rest and recreation leave have not been covered by this legislation. That is why I am so anxious to have this provision incorporated in the Act. This matter was mentioned also by Senator Laucke. I can assure him that from now on these men will be covered. However, had an accident occurred at some time in the past in circumstances such as he mentioned, an individual would not have been eligible for repatriation benefits, nor would he have been entitled to receive the special Commonwealth compensation. Other means would have had to be adopted to obtain compensation for him. I think there is no need to say more at. thistime. The Government considers that it is necessary to provide this cover and this is a matter that has been exercisingmy mind for about 9 months. Unfortunately it was a question which involved not only my Department but also the Department of Defence and the Department of the Army. The problem was to decide which was the best way to tackle the matter. We came down on the side of doing so by these means. I hope that the committee stage during which I shall move the amendment, will be as speedy asthe second reading stage of the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) agreed to:
That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the Bill to consider a further amendment of section 7 of the principal Act.
-I move: Leave out clause 4. insert the following clause:
Section 7 of the Principal Act is amended -
For drafting reasons the form of this amendment is to omit clause 4 as printed in the Bill, and to insert a newclause,when includes in paragraph (a) a new provision which is the subject of my amendment and in paragraph (b) repeats the provisions in clause 4 of the Bill as printed, with one minor drafting amendment. The purpose of the amendment proposed in paragraph (a) is to extend to ex-servicemen who have served on special service as defined in the principal Act, and to their dependants, the same war pension and associated benefits in respect of tuberculosis contracted after war service as applied for ex-servicemen who served in a theatre of war in the two world wars and in the Korea and Malaya operations.
The effect of the amendment will be that where at any time after his discharge from the forces an ex-serviceman who has served on special service became or becomes incapacitated, or died or dies from pulmonary tuberculosis, he and his dependants, as the case may be, will be entitled to war pension and other benefits as though the incapacity or death was attributable to his war service. For such an ex-serviceman this means he will be entitled to a war pension for life at a minimum rate equal to the 100% general rate, and at a higher rate if the severity of his incapacity justifies it. He will also be entitled to free medical treatment from the Repatriation Department for other disabilities not due to war service. For his dependants it means that they will be entitled to pensions at maximum rates during his lifetime, and in the case of his death from tuberculosis, or while he is receiving a pension for tuberculosis under the Second Schedule to the Act, his dependants will receive pension and other benefits as though his death were due to war service. For example, his wife and children will receive all the benefits available to a war widow and her children.
Fortunately, because of the precautions taken to guard against infection there has been a very small incidence of tuberculosis amongst our troops who have been serving in South East Asia including those who have served in Vietnam. Since the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act came into operation on 28th May 1963 there have been only four claims for acceptance of pulmonary tuberculosis, arising out of “special service’. Two, including the one from Vietnam have been accepted and one of the others was accepted in respect of earlier service in Korea. If this amendment is adopted the remaining case can be accepted under the new provision.
Fortunately also, tuberculosis has ceased to be as serious a disease as it was in 1943 when the provision was first introduced. In earlier times, treatment was prolonged and prospects of cure often doubtful. There was no national tuberculosis scheme. Modern diagnosis, methods of treatment and prophylactic measures have completely changed the position, greatly reducing the period of treatment and enhancing prospects of cure. The number of ex-servicemen under active treatment for tuberculosis has fallen dramatically during the past 15 years, in common with the trend in the community generally. Nevertheless, the Government has decided that, the circumstances of special service’ being comparable to service in the theatre of war in earlier wars, those who serve on ‘special service’ should have the same benefits in respect of ‘special service’ as did servicemen in respect of ‘service in a theatre of war’ in the earlier wars and operations.
The second amendment to the principal Act, which paragraph (b) proposes is to provide service pensions for those who have served on ‘special service’ overseas. I have already referred to this provision in my second reading speech. The amendment I have circulated will make two valuable improvements in repatriation benefits for current overseas service andI commend it to the Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 26 September (vide page 1039).
Department of Customs and Excise - proposed expenditure $21,883,000 and proposed provision $37,000 noted.
Proposed expenditure, $56,289,000.
Proposed provision, $71,045,800.
Civil Defence - Repairs anil Maintenance
Proposed expenditure, S 15.000.
Proposed expenditure, $20,000.
– I propose to introduce the estimates for the Department of Works by making a short explanation of them.
Broadly, the Department is responsible for the design, supervision and execution of architectural and engineering works - both capital and maintenance - for Commonwealth departments and administrations in the various States and Territories, with the exception of specialised work such as shipbuilding, postal telecommunications, civil aviation navigational provisions, etc. In the Territories, the Department, in addition to construction and maintenance work, is in some instances carrying out operational functions serving the public requirement, such as water supply, sewerage and electricity supply.
The Department provides technical and administrative advice to departments in the framing of works programmes and cooperates by arranging inspections and furnishing advice in regard to the general maintenance of Commonwealth properly assets, it also acts as architects and engineers to the Australian Post Office, the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and other administrations such as the National Capital Development Commission and the Papua and New Guinea Administration. Professional advice is provided to other departments and instrumentalities in regard to design and economics of works to he erected by State government departments or other authorities, and for which the Commonwealth is contributing part of the cost. Examples are hospital and other mcdic.il buildings, and laboratories and other buildings at universities, lt acts on behalf of the Department of Supply as the design and construction agency for the provision of tracking stations and other facilities required by overseas governments for space and other research.
The Department collaborates with other authorities, both in Australia and overseas, in building research, and arranges for the circulation of data to interested bodies. It is also responsible for the activities of the
Commonwealth Experimental Building Station which is playing a major role in fire research and the introduction of uniform building regulations throughout Australia.
During the financial year 1967-68, *he expenditure on capital and maintenance works on behalf of all departments, the National Capital Development Commission and the Papua and New Guinea Administration and others totalled $248,552,000. It is anticipated that during the financial year 1968-69, the comparable expenditure will reach $250,995,000. These figures do not include the departmental administrative expenditure, which in 1967-68 totalled $28,919,000. and for which an amount of $32,899,000 has been provided in 1968-69. Details of the actual expenditure during 1967- 68 and the estimated expenditure for 1968- 69 are:
Some idea of the growth over the last 5 years in the Department’s activities as a result of the increased programmes is shown by the following works expenditure totals:
Throughout 1967-68 the Department had under construction an average of approximately 21,700 projects, ranging in cost from $400 to major works exceeding $20m each, and including almost every form of building and engineering activity. The number of jobs in this range actually completed last year was 21,490. In addition many thousands of jobs of a minor character were carried out.
Construction is carried out mainly by contract, resulting from the invitation of public tenders, but it is also necessary for the Department to maintain an artisan work force of approximately 8,450 to provide for general maintenance and operational services, as well as such constructional activities as are not suitable for execution by contract and which can be more advantageously carried out by departmental personnel. The number of direct employees includes labour employed in ancillary services such as departmental workshops, stores, industrial undertakings, camps, hostels, etc. The total number of apprentices employed by the Department is 703. The total wages paid to departmental employees last financial year was approximately $28,802,000.
Mascot - Runway extension, development of new terminal and ILS areas and erection of control tower building.
Gore Hill - Television studio extensions.
Pitt Street, Sydney - New telephone exchange.
Haymarket, Sydney - Extension of telephone exchange.
Lismore - New Commonwealth offices.
Tullamarine Airport - New terminal complex.
Melbourne - Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg - New kitchen.
Lonsdale Street, Melbourne - New telephone exchange.
Watsonia - New Army signals centre.
Mackay - Airport development.
Coolangatta - Airport development.
Amberley, Royal Australian Air Force Station - New buildings.
Adelaide Airport - Alterations terminal building, extensions to aprons and runway.
Perth - New Commonwealth offices.
HMAS ‘Leeuwin’, Perth - New mess, galley and barrack blocks.
Nightcliffe secondary school.
Roads, drainage, water supply and sewerage to sub-divisions.
Roads for transport of beef cattle. Top Springs - Wave Hill, Daly Waters - Cape Crawford and Barkly Highway - Anthony’s Lagoon.
Darwin - Erection of 159 residences.
MAJOR PROJECTS TO COMMENCE IN 1968 to 69
Some of the major works to be committed to the field during the current financial year are:
North Ryde - Erection of mineral chemistry laboratory, (1.8m.
Springvale, Victoria - Erection of migrant hostel, $4. 25m.
Concord, New South Wales - Additions to pathology department, $0.61 5m.
Melville, Western Australia - Rebuilding of rehabilitation centre, $0.71m.
Darwin - Erection of Stage 4 steam power station, $4.7m.
Darwin - Construction of Jingili subdivision, $1.055m.
Darwin - Construction of Moil subdivision, $0.6m.
Anthony’s Lagoon - Borroloola beef road, $5.2m.
Willeroo - Timber Creek beef road, $3.35m.
Hawthorn, Victoria - Telephone exchange extensions, $1.4m.
Perth - Pier telephone exchange extensions, $0.96m.
Perth - Erection of mail exchange, $3.23m.
Cockatoo Island - Reconstruction of Sutherland wharf,$1. 6m.
H MAS ‘Nirimba’, New South WalesErection of barrack blocks, $ 1. 077m.
Richmond. New South Wales - Erection of maintenance hangar, $l.2m.
Darwin - Erection of 76 married quarters,$1. 355m.
Deer Park. Victoria - Erection of new factory, $0.91 lm.
In addition the Department is constructing chanceries and other embassy buildings overseas for the Department of External Affairs. Buildings have been completed at Tokyo, Djakarta and New Delhi and others are under construction at Washington and New Delhi. Designs are in hand for buildings at Rangoon, Athens, Bonn, Islamabad, Kuala Lumpur and Laos.
The Department has been selected by the Government to design and construct the Expo ‘70 pavilion at Osaka. At this date the proposed planning of the project is on target.
During the financial year 1967-68 a record number of twenty projects was referred to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report. The previous highest number in one year had been fourteen. Since 1st July 1968 a further five projects have been referred.
Major stores are established in all States and Territories, whilst minor stores and project stores are maintained wherever necessary. Stores stocks of constructional materials as at 30th June 1968 totalled $4,661,000.
In view of the major engineering activities carried out by the Department, plant pools are in operation in all States and Territories, and the capital value of plant held at 30th June 1968 was $32,002,000. Thirteen major and one minor plant workshops are maintained for the essential overhaul and maintenance of these plant assets.
The actual technical and administrative staffs employed throughout all branches of the Department and at Head Office as at 30th June 1968 totalled 5,584, comprising 3,868 permanent officers and 1,716 temporary employees.
The printed estimates set out, in some detail the amounts involved under headings of ‘Salaries and Payments in the Nature of Salary’ and Administrative Expenses’ for the Department. In. previous financial years the salaries of the staff and the administrative expenses associated with the operations of plant, stores, workshops, hostels, Mugga Quarry, etc., were charged initially to the salaries and administrative expenses division and were subsequently transferred to trust accounts, with a resultant reduction in gross expenditure under this division. In 1968-69 the amounts from the trust accounts will be paid to Consolidated Revenue and not to the credit of the salaries and administrative expenses.
Total salaries and administrative expenses of trust activities in 1968-69 is $2,299,000, and when this is taken into account the actual increase between the appropriation for 1968-69 and the actual expenditure in 1967-68 is $2,102,000- not $4,401,000 as could be inferred by a comparison of the total appropriation of $32,899,000 and the expenditure in 1967-68 of $28,498,000 as shown under Division 580. I believe that the Department’s works programme is something for which the Director-General and his staff deserve our commendation.
– Before referring to certain matters that I want to raise in relation to Divsion 580 - Administrative - I should like to congratulate the Minister for presenting details of the Department’s operations in this printed form. It is the first time we have had such a document and I think it is much appreciated by all honourable senators. Undoubtedly it will curtail greatly requests for information in the chamber. During the adjournment debate on Wednesday, 18th September last I referred to the letting of a contract for the construction of a satellite earth station at Ceduna in South Australia. I was seeking information as to the letting agent for the contract.
– The Department of Works did it on behalf of the Department of Supply.
– 1 raised the matter during the adjournment debate so that. I would have the information available when the estimates for the Department of Works were before the chamber. I have been informed now that the Department of Works was responsible for the letting of the contract. I want to know why a contract for the construction of a satellite earth station at Ceduna in South Australia at a cost of $538,450 was let to the firm of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd when four other firms submitted lower tender prices. The price submitted by this firm was $75,000 higher than the lowest tender price.
The history of this matter casts some suspicion on the practice of calling tenders. Originally a firm of Sydney architects, Brown, Brewer and Gregory, invited five companies to tender for the construction of the station, lt was suggested to the architects that the job should be opened for public tender and that was clone. When tenders closed one had been received for $498,000, another for just over $500,000 and a third for $480,960. As I have said, the contract was let to Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd which submitted a price of $538,450 or some $75,000 higher than the lowest tender. lt is customary that the lowest tender is not necessarily accepted if the letting agent thinks that the tenderer does not have the capability to carry out the contract or that the tender price submitted is so low that it would be unreasonable to expect him to complete the job at that price. On this occasion neither criterion existed to justify the acceptance of the highest tender. Let me deal first with the qualifications of the companies which submitted lower lender prices. One was Haughton Evins Construction Co. Pty Ltd, a big building contractor in South Australia. Mr Haughton Evins is the President of the Master Builders Association in South Australia and is well known for carrying out big contracts in that State. Another was the firm of Sheldrick Pty Ltd. another big contractor in South Australia quite capable of doing a job of the magnitude of the earth station at Ceduna. That company’s tender price was just over $500,000. The lowest tender was submitted by D. G. Madin Pty Ltd, another big contracting firm in South Australia which at present is carrying out work for the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is building a $200,000 telephone exchange at Ceduna which will be completed 6 months ahead of schedule so its capability to carry out big contracts is well known to the letting agent.
Mr Gregory of the Sydney firm of architects Brown, Brewer and Gregory, visited Adelaide on 19th August last for the purpose of inquiring into the capabilities of the firms which had submitted tenders. He telephoned a number of architects in Adelaide seeking verification of the capabilities of the contractors. A number of architects gave good reports on the capability of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd, the lowest tenderer, to carry out the work. Information was sought also from the Adelaide office of the Department of Works and from the architectural branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Both were high in praise of the company’s capability to do the job and to complete it in time.
The question whether the price was so ridiculously low that it seemed unreasonable that the company could complete the job was also considered. 1 remind honourable senators that the tender was $75,000 below the tender price of $538,450 which was accepted. One must bear in mind that Ceduna on the Eyre Peninsula is 493 miles from Adelaide. It is near the border of Western Australia and heavy cartage fees are involved in carrying plant to the site. The firm of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd has been operating in and around the Ceduna area for 6 years and at present has its plant already at the location where a telephone exchange to cost $200,000 will be completed by December of this year. Very little cost would be entailed in carting by virtue of the fact that most of the plant required to carry out the contract about which I speak would be already in the area. In addition to that, as is to be expected in a small country town, builders’ labourers and qualified tradesmen would be at a premium. Already twelve of the qualified building tradesmen of the town are employed by the firm of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd. These would probably represent all the available skilled building labour in the town.
– Has (he honourable senator had any correspondence with me or the Department on this matter?
– No. I raised it during the debate on the motion for the adjournment about a fortnight ago so that the Department would not be taken by surprise when these proposals were being discussed.
– J suggest that the honourable senator continue, but 1 think when he first asked whether this came under the Department of Works, I may have misled him inadvertently. We do tracking stations for the Department of Supply, but not the earth stations which are the communication stations for satellites. I suggest that the honourable senator put the matter on record and it will be examined by me or the appropriate Minister, and the honourable senator will get an opportunity to debate it.
– 1 accept the invitation to place the matter on record, but 1 do not think it should be let stand there. I do not see why we should vote considerable sums to a department if that department is so irresponsible in the letting of contracts that it is prepared, “for some unknown reason, to accept a tender which is $75,000 in excess of the price for which it could have got the particular job done efficiently. I submit that before we vote these sums it is reasonable that we should expect an explanation.
– I think we passed the estimates for the Department of Supply a fortnight ago.
– lt became public knowledge a fortnight ago in that my reference to it is recorded in Hansard. 1 take it that we have already agreed to the proposed expenditure for the Department of Supply.
– That is so.
– Then 1 am now referring this matter to the wrong department.
– But I have given the honourable senator an assurance that I or the appropriate Minister will provide an opportunity for proper debate on an early occasion.
– Under those circumstances, I can do no better than to raise the matter now as there is some uncer tainty as to the department under which it comes. As 1 have said, whichever department is responsible, it accepted a tender which was $75,000 higher than the lowest price submitted. There is a big dispute in progress now over the amount of compensation to be paid to a certain farmer for his land. There is some legal argument going on with the Department of the Interior over, I think, a few hundred dollars. A similar attitude does nol seem to be adopted in relation to the letting of contracts.
The job to which I refer could have been completed successfully in time by the firm of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd for $75,000 less than the amount charged by the successful contractor. In fact, it could have been completed successfully in time by four other firms at prices below that to be paid to the successful contractor. I should point out that it was decided originally to restrict tenders to five contractors who were to be invited to submit prices. It was one of the five contractors who were invited to tender who successfully submitted a price which was higher than those submitted by four contractors who answered the public advertisement.
It is worth mentioning, too, that the successful invited contractor was given another job which was nol in the original contract. It was for the construction of a tower based at this earth tracking station. That job was given to the successful contractor without tenders being invited from anybody else. I do not know the cost of that additional work but it was simply ‘ given to Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd. lt would seem that this, firm received preferential treatment despite the fact that there were other satisfactory builders available who could do this work at a price which was $75,000 less than that to be paid to the successful tenderer.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise for the purpose of enabling the honourable senator to conclude his remarks if he wishes to do so.
– I am content to conclude my remarks on that particular matter. Rather than confuse the issue by raising another matter with which I wish to deal, ] shall be satisfied at this stage with what I have said.
– I would have been ready to give the honourable senator a statement with regard to his complaint on this matter, if it comes within the jurisdiction of my Department, had my attention been attracted to it. But 1 feel that this is a matter which relates to that type of earth station which has communication with satellites and which is therefore dealt with either by the Postmaster-General or the Department of Supply.
I feel that it does not come within the province of my Department because I get monthly returns of all contracts where we decide to accept tenders which are not the lowest. As the honourable senator has indicated, acceptance of a tender which is not the lowest is often justified by the incapacity of the lowest tenderer or some other circumstance that enables us to make a decision to accept a tender which is not the lowest. 1 have no recollection of any reference to the specific contract to which the honourable senator has directed our attention but, as 1 said, I give him an assurance that I or the appropriate Minister will consider the contract referred to, supply the honourable senator with the fullest information, and enable a debate to take place on the subject at an early date.
– I rise to speak on the proposed expenditure for the Department of Works, and for this purpose I speak to Division 580 - Administrative. I speak to this heading because, neither in the Particulars of Proposed Expenditure nor in the Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure do 1 find any reference to moneys being set aside for reclamation work being done and to be carried out on Brighton-le-Sands beach on the foreshores of Botany Bay in New South Wales, although I see on page 14 of the document relating to the civil works programme for 1968-69 item No. 18 which relates to the setting aside of certain amounts under the heading ‘Sydney, Botany Bay, Protection of Foreshore and Restoration of Foreshore Damage’.
– That is for the Department of Civil Aviation.
– Then this matter does not come within the control of the Minister’s Department?
– lt does, but it is work done for the Department of Civil Aviation.
– 1 wish to speak to it as it affects the administration of the Department of Works. If ever a government department was responsible for defacing and despoiling a beautiful area of New South Wales, the Department of Works must accept complete responsibility for the erosion taking place in Botany Bay which, as everyone knows, is the very birthplace of this great nation. Despite, all the statements that have been made and all the assurances that have been given, I am not satisfied that in the first instance everything was done to ensure that no erosion would take place. The erosion having taken place, I am not satisfied that the work is proceeding at a sufficient rate to overcome the problem at an early date. The erosion in Botany Bay did not start until the Department scooped millions of cubic yards of sand for filling purposes for the extension of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport runway, which commenced some 3 or 4 years ago. We all remember that at that time a dredge was brought from overseas at a cost of some thousands of dollars to the Australian taxpayer. After shifting thousands of cubic yards of sand, the runway at the airport was extended an additional 7,500 feet. As soon as that job was completed the dredge was sent back to its home country which, from recollection, was Denmark. Because the Government has decided to extend the runway further into Botany Bay, I suppose once again the dredge will have to be brought from Denmark in order to carry out the extension and the further dredging that will be required.
I now deal with the erosion that has occurred and the type of work that is being undertaken to try to overcome the problem. I suggest to the Minister and to the Department that the work could and should be done much more expeditiously than it is. Residents in the suburbs of Kyeemagh, Brighton-le-Sands, Ramsgate, Sans Souci, Taren Point and Kurnell, and indeed most of the residents in the area around tha
Georges River, which runs into Botany Bay, are very much concerned at the previous history of the matter and what is likely to happen in the future. I know that the Minister has inspected the work. Miles of seawalls have collapsed and large areas of parkland have fallen onto the beach at Brighton-lc- Sands. Homes and buildings have been threatened. 1 notice from the documents relating Vo the civil works programme, to which 1 referred previously, that some $279,000 had been expended as at 30th June of last year. The total amount authorised for expenditure on the project is $478,000. For this financial year only $1.14,000 has been set aside for the work. The balance remaining as at 30th June 1968 for further expenditure is almost $199,000. Some $279,000 has been spent on the project and roughly another $200,000 has vo bc spent, but only $114,000 has been earmarked for expenditure in this financial year.
What I and all the people in the area want to know is: How long will it be before the beach front at Brighton-le-Sands is restored as nearly as possible to its previous natural beauty? I mention to the Minister that everyone living in the area is asking what will happen in the future now that the Government has decided to extend the runway to 13,000 feet. On 7th November last year I posed a question to Senator Anderson in his then capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Works. I asked him whether he would give an assurance that before the Commonwealth took action to extend the runway at Mascot to 12,000 feet to accommodate jumbo jets the Department would take action to ensure that the interests of local residents were protected and that the topography of the area was preserved as much as was humanly possible. Senator Anderson, amongst other things said:
The honourable senator asks me to foretell the future. 1 can only say that the Department of Works will do everything possible to ensure that no bad consequences result from future extensions of the runway into Botany Bay. Beyond that I can only put the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Work’s.
That was the last I heard on the subject from the Minister and from the Department. My colleague, Senator Mulvihill, on 21st August last, during the adjournment debate spoke on the subject of beach erosion generally and drew the attention of the present Minister for Works to some of the problems that confronted the people not only in lh;it area but also in other areas. On 21s! August, as reported al page 233 of Hansard, dealing with the question of thc erosion taking place at Kurnell, which is on the southern side of Botany Bay, the Minister said that the subject had been referred to Wallingford Hydraulics Research Station in England and he was able to say that in the opinion of that Research Station the erosion taking place al Kurnell was not caused in any way by work done by Commonwealth authorities at Botany Bay. lt is all very well for the Minister and for the Department to state that they have obtained the expert advice of the Wallingford Research Station on the Kurnell erosion. Will the Minister deny that in the first instance, before any work on the original extension into Botany Bay was done, the very organisation upon which the Department now relies gave the opinion that sand could be dredged from a certain area and that the shoreline would not be affected? I quote from a report appearing in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader’ of J hh October 1967 which st;, tes
Two local Liberal politicians have strongly criticised the Commonwealth Government over its failure to stop erosion of Botany Bay foreshores.
Apparently at a Party meeting two local Liberal members of Parliament also made the accusation that in the first instance, before any work had been undertaken by the Department, it had sought Wallingford’s advice on the matter and that Wallingford had said that sand could be dredged from a certain area without affecting the shoreline. As the Minister knows, the shoreline was very much affected. If Wallingford gave that advice in the first instance, certainly it was wrong on that occasion. During the first storm after the dredging had begun the whole shoreline was ravaged and desecrated. Naturally, having that mistake in mind, the residents of Kurnell, which is 3 or 4 miles round the waterfront of Botany Bay from Brighton, are asking why Wallingford and the Department of Works can say that the erosion at Brighton has been caused by the runway extensions but not the erosion at Kurnell.
It was stated in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 5th September last that experts had reported that extension of the northsouth Runway at: Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport into Botany Bay had not caused foreshore damage and erosion at Kurnell. I ask the Minister: What does the future hold for this area, bearing in mind the Government’s decision to extend the runway further? On 18th June last an article appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ under the heading ‘Guarantee asked on airport work’, which stated:
Rockdale Council wants the Commonwealth Government to guarantee it full compensation for any damage which may occur to Botany Bay foreshores when dredging for runway extension work resumes.
The Mayor, Alderman R. T. Gosling, said this yesterday when commenting on the Commonwealth Government’s decision to extend the runway to 13,000 feet.
The Acting Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator VI. F. Scott, said recently the estimated cost of the extension would be $23m.
Alderman Gosling said that, following the previous runway work, damage to the foreshores cost at least $200,000 to repair and the work was in no way finalised.
For this reason the council would desire some positive guarantee for the ratepayers and itself that a similar inconvenience would nol occur’, he said.
A former Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the late Hon. A. D. Bridges, who was Minister for Social Welfare and a very prominent member of the Liberal Party in New South Wales, accused the Commonwealth Department of Works of rank inefficiency over the delay in building Sydney’s new $22m international terminal. Frankly, I accuse the Department of bungling of the worst possible kind over the erosion that has taken place at Botany Bay. lt should not have occurred, but having occurred the Government is far too slow - and this is not only my opinion but is the opinion of a large number of residents in the area - in properly reclaiming and restoring the area.
– 1 also wish to refer to the proposed expenditure on capital services, buildings and works for the Department of Civil Aviation. I would like the Minister to indicate how much of the total sum provided in this year’s Budget is to be spent on Adelaide Airport. 1 also ask the Minister to give some reason why the Department has chosen to install evaporative air cooling equipment in the extensions to the Adelaide Airport terminal. Evaporative cooling is suitable when the weather is dry, but it is certainly far from satisfactory when it is damp. In fact the building is a hot box. We have been told that this new section is only temporary, but I understand that it will be temporary for at least 10 years. I would like to know whether this is a fact. I would also like to have some further explanation as to whether consideration has been given to putting in refrigerated air conditioning in the airport terminal, which is located in the hottest capital in the world. South Australians have been extremely patient in waiting for adequate terminal services at Adelaide Airport, lt is therefore most unsatisfactory that Adelaide Airport is not to get the best possible equipment supplied for the new building.
– I direct my remarks to Division 580. My purpose in intervening in this debate is to support strongly the submissions made by Senator McClelland in regard to beach erosion. He painted a very vivid and clear picture of the metropolitan area of Sydney. I wish to paint, a broader picture. Senator McClelland and myself have been associated with extensive political activities in virtually every federal electorate on the coastline of New South Wales. Although Senator McClelland referred only to the metropolitan area of Sydney, I. wish to point out that beach erosion is a problem in such areas as Byron Bay, which is in the Richmond electorate, and Kiama which is in the Macarthur electorate. It is also a problem on the other side of Sydney Harbour around beaches from Manly to Palm Beach, which is in the Mackellar electorate.
The Minister has a dual capacity in that he is also in charge of tourist activities and I give him full credit for the striking success that he has achieved in this field. I feel sure that he is conscious of the need to preserve our beaches for the tourist industry. As Senator McClelland pointed out, we have before our eyes extensive erosion occurring-
– At the very birthplace of our nation.
– Exactly. Senator McClelland has pointed out the historical association of that part of the coastline. I do not hold the view - nor does Senator McClelland - that there is a rigid line of responsibility between State and federal authorities. As a matter of fact, only this morning I had the pleasure of discussing with officers of the Department of the Interior certain matters concerning the Territories. We were discussing the Jervis Bay area. 1 said: “1 do not suppose that you have any beach erosion problems there?’ 1 was told: ‘My word we do, senator’. I do not attribute that erosion to rutile operators, lt is more the result of. the general currents and scouring. But if the Government adopted the proposal that Senator McClelland and I have suggested of creating a federal agency - I indicated this on that memorable occasion when, during a debate on the adjournment of the Senate. I quoted correspondence from Senator Edward Kennedy in regard to what was happening in the United Stales of America - it would find that it would not have many troubles in the Botany Bay area. This can bc likened lo dental care. If the cavities in one’s teeth are looked after in i he early stages the denial bill is not so great later on. Applying that analogy to the role, of iiic Commonwealth Government it will bc seen thai, if greater emphasis is placed on parallel activities with shire and State authorities in regard lo reclamation of sand and that sort of thing, in 10 or 20 years time we will not be faced with big lump sum payment*: the costs will be kept to a minimum. That is the tragic side of the mailer.
I have received a letter from a lady in the Kurnell region on this subject. 1 have also received letters from people living on the n.ir’.h coast, who have told me thai they have formed working bees to prevent erosion, but 1 his work is not sufficient to stem the erosion. The rating capacity of local councils is limited. Erosion is also taking place at some parts of Byron Bay. When people go along lo the State Government for help they are told: ‘We are nol responsible’ and when they go lo the local government authorities they are told: We do nol have the money’. I do not think thai the Federal Government should be the fairy godmother, but I do believe that, like every other government in a federal system, it should accept a greater degree of responsibility. 1 do not think that there is any need to harp on the fact that the Com monwealth Government has moved - and rightly so - into the fields of Aboriginal advancement and education. But these urban and rural problems confront the whole of the Commonwealth.
Since Senator McClelland and I made a submission on beach erosion I have received correspondence from at least three other Stales. The other night I spoke to Senator Condon Byrne on the same matter. He assured me that he was concerned with some parts of the Queensland coast. So, nol only is it a problem in New South Wales but it is a problem in other Stales. From discussions I have had with some of my South Australian colleagues I have learned that it is also a problem in that State. So, 1 echo to the full the submission that Senator McClelland has made. Again I emphasise that we are noi talking in some vague way. I indicate that federal authorities in the United States and Canada are involved in something like 60% of the conservation projects thai are undertaken. Of course, once they gel them to a certain stage the local authorities lake over.
I turn now to a topic which involves Cabinet responsibility, quite apart from tourist activity. I have hail a further letter from Senator Jackson, who represents the Stale of Washington in the United States Senate. He hits told me that legislation has been enacted 10 provide that royalties received from the exploitation of oil and gas from off-shore drilling arc paid into liM United Slates Treasury, which pays it to the States for use in conservation work. I emphasise that when Senator McClelland and I raise this point we are offering a detailed plan for the raising of revenue. 1 wan! now to remind the Minister of tin occasion when 1 arranged for him to have discussions with Mr Barry Unsworth, an organiser of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council, about a matter concerning a building trades group engaged on certain work at the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. 1 am aware that the Minister believes that certain guide lines should he followed, i do noi know what wits the aftermath of those discussions. As 1 believe that the Minister likes lo keep his fingers on the pulse of things.. 1 should like- to ask him whether, after his conversation with Mr Unsworth, he hail any talks with his officers to see whether they could pass the word down to contractors and sub-contractors about men working in draughts and other unpleasant conditions that could be anticipated and avoided. Unnecessary disruptions could then be obviated. I believe that a conciliation commissioner found that the employers had displayed a very provocative attitude. 1 am curious to learn the outcome. When future contracts are let, perhaps a suggestion could be made to industrial officers that trouble spots could be anticipated and nasty, sticky situations avoided. 1 am sure Senator Cavanagh would agree with me that such situations should never arise.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania - Minister for Works) 15.7] - As to the matter last mentioned by Senator Mulvihill. I remind him with goodwill that upon his representations ! arranged to interview the union officers concerned with the DirectorGeneral al the head office of the Department of Works in Melbourne. A full hearing was given to their complaints and a prompt reply was sent saying that the Department must adhere to the contract conditions that were laid down. The contractor was obliged by his contract to carry out the work for us at a certain price. Variations could be permitted only, according to my recollection, in accordance with award conditions. I understand that that has developed through industrial channels since then. It would bc quite inappropriate for me at this stage to intervene in any way. In fact, 1 intervened at that stage only on the earnest representations of Senator Mulvihill, after some hesitation as a political minister entering into the sphere of an industrial dispute. I prefer to leave the matter entirely to an independent tribunal. 1 do not discuss the merits of that dispute here. 1 discussed them with members of the union concerned.
Senator Buttfield of South Australia referred to the Adelaide Airport. The reference she seeks is to be found at page 16 of the civil works programme. The extensions to the terminal building and to the runway are provided for in two items of 5951,388 and $428,975, making a total of $1,380,363. As to the complaint about the evaporative cooling, that has been considered and the matter has been referred to once or twice. 1 would like honourable senators to know that general consideration has been given to the places in which it is appropriate to include air conditioning apparatus in Commonwealth buildings as distinct from evaporative cooling. My recollection is that Adelaide is in the zone where evaporate cooling is the normal means of adjusting the air temperature in a building. So if any variation is to be made to that cooling equipment, it will have to be done on a general revision of the zone arrangements.
With regard to the matter referred to by Senator McClelland, I was very surprised to hear the tone of his submission to the chamber. I would have expected it to be recognised by the honourable senator that as to the damage to Lady Robinson Beach in Botany Bay to which he referred, occurring in mid-May last, the storm that caused that damage was part of a general storm up and down the New South Wales coast. lt caused damage to beaches other than Lady Robinson Beach. That was implicit in the reference by Senator Mulvihill.
Notwithstanding that fact, the Commonwealth Government made it quite clear within a few days of the damage occurring that it recognised some responsibility in connection with the restoration of the beach, arising in these circumstances: lt has always been the jealous claim of Sydney that it should have the first international airport in this country, lt provides an area at Mascot in which an international runway cannot be constructed except by projecting it into Botany Bay. A promontory has been built out into the Bay for the runway. At present the runway has reached a length of about 9,000 feet. That work was done with the authority and approval of the Stale instrumentality, the Maritime Services Board, which acted upon a report of the Wallingford Research Station, an institution of world renown in the assessment of the effects of wave action on buildings in bays and harbours.
The Commonwealth is providing the facility of an international airport in a restricted area requiring intrusion into Botany Bay. It undertook the work only with the approval of the Slate instrumentality which has special responsibility for the Bay - the Maritime Services Board - and that instrumentality acts with the approval of a specialist consultant in England. When dredging of sand from the Bay was authorised for the purpose of filling in the promontory for the runway, consideration was given to the likely effect that alteration of the Bay floor would have upon the wave patterns of the bay as it beats upon Lady Robinson Beach. The work proceeded under specialist - advice. Notwithstanding the
Generalised nature of the storm of midlay last, not only Lady Robinson’s Beach but also many other beaches suffered damage. As I have said, the Commonwealth Government most promptly accepted some responsibility.
In company with my colleagues Mr Bosman and Mr Arthur I interviewed the representatives of the citizen community within, I think, 5 days of the storm occurring and immediately put into operation a programme of restoration. In fact the storm had interrupted a programme which was at that time immediately ready for execution. Having regard to the increased damage it was necessary to reassess the situation and define the work anew. That was done and until this day, for the most part, I have heard expressions of appreciation of the manner in which and the degree to which the Commonwealth has proceeded to repair the damage. I have regretted that Norfolk Island pines were undermined; I have regretted the undermining of the beach bank, which was already a narrow but very prescious confine of Lady Robinson’s Beach; and I have regretted the damage to the surfing and swimming shed. But these things were the product of the action of a storm, affected to some extent by the work that had been done in dredging the sea bed of the bay and thereby affecting the wave pattern. We have not merely appropriated $1 14,000, which was referred to by Senator McClelland, but have approved the expenditure of almost $lm. Work is proceeding for the restoration of the foreshore. The responsibility of the Commonwealth for participation in that restoration has been accepted and the actual extent of our responsibility awaits definition.
The Kurnell Beach is a different matter altogether. I visited that beach in company with the Director-General of Works, the First Assistant Director-General of the Engineering Division, Mr Jack, and my colleague Mr Dobie. We saw representatives of the citizen community and I expressed the view, on the advice of those officers, that it was immediately apparent that anyone would have difficulty in suggesting any basis for claiming that the damage to that beach, unfortunate though it was, was to any degree occasioned by the dredging from the bed of Botany Bay. Notwithstanding the firm opinion that we then held, I undertook to refer the question to the Wallingford Hydraulic Research Station for its advice. As Senator McClelland has said, as soon as advice was forthcoming I indicated publicly that its advice confirmed the opinion of the Director-General and Mr Jack. I submit that anybody who took the trouble to visit the area and to see the configuration of the bay, the relative position of the runway into the bay and the damage that was done by waves coming through the mouth of the bay towards Kurnell Beach could not conclude other than that the dredging that had been done for the Mascot runway had no effect whatever on that area.
To conclude the subject referred to by Senator Mulvihill as to the tourist aspect I propose to add one reference. He has been good enough to acknowledge that I need no reminder with regard to the value of beaches and bays as an attraction to tourists and that we should take all the trouble that is necessary to preserve them. I am not familiar with his reference to the mining of the beach on the south coast for rutile, but it is quite obvious that Byron Bay and the other beaches on the north coast to which he referred were subject, as was the Gold Coast last winter, to very violent storms. If there has been damage from a tourist point of view as a result of mining, I ask the honourable senator to be good enough to acquit me of responsibility in that respect. I say in very subdued terms, in relation to such grand national assets as the Barrier Reef, some caves in New South Wales and other priceless tourist assets, that these arc matters in which the responsibility of the Commonwealth Minister is not readily conceded. As to national assets we claim that we, in association with the Slates, have the primary responsibility and a continuing responsibility, but I have to make my approaches quite gradually and. I hope, perserveringly. I trust that Senator Mulvihill will be assured that we will have enthusiasm to preserve as much of these tourist assets as our responsibility enables us to achieve.
– 1 refer to Division 580 - Administrative - and particularly to the entry ‘Less amounts to be received from various Trust Accounts’. I note that last year the appropriation under this heading was $2,005,000. In his speech of introduction to the debate on these estimates the Minister referred to these trust accounts, but 1 am at a loss to understand what they are. I would appreciate a further explanation of what the trust accounts are.
– I wish to comment on a matter raised by Senator Buttfield in reference to Division 925, sub-division I, item 04 which relates to the Department of Civil Aviation. J support her claim that there should be some reconsideration of the cooling system to be used at the new airport terminal in Adelaide. Last year during the summer months I had occasion to go to the airport to meet a union secretary who was en route from Sydney to Western Australia. As he had up to li hours to wait we decided to have a conference at the airport but we could not stay in the building because of the heat and steamy conditions. I asked the girl at the information counter what had happened to the cooling system. I asked her why it was not working and she told me that it was working. I then went upstairs to a representative of the Department of Civil Aviation and told him that it was impossible for us to hold a conference under those conditions. 1 asked whether they had available for our use a room which was cooler. He said: ‘No, unfortunately they are all the same.’ 1 asked him about the cooling system and he said that it was already operating. He then advised us to go out to the observatory balcony where there would be a breeze. He told mc also that there was no intention to install a cooling system in the proposed additions. I raised that matter with the Minister for Works at the time and he verified what I had been told.
In reply to a question the Minister said that having considered temperatures in Adelaide it had been decided that no additional air conditioning was necessary. I later saw the evaporative air cooling system and I would query its effectiveness. Senator Buttfield has referred to its effectiveness in a damp atmosphere. Whatever the zoning system, it is not usual to use such cooling systems in the majority of the bigger buildings in South Australia.
– Have you my letter?
– No, I have not. I am speaking from memory, but 1 recall having received it. The Minister must be very incorrectly advised if it is said that temperatures in Adelaide during the summer months do not justify a cooling system. This brings me to another question which I relate to the same division’.’ Here again 1 question whether the Minister is acting upon correct advice. I have made representations since March of this year on the use of terrazzo flooring in the construction of airport buildings instead of the vinyl tiles which are used at the present time. The terrazzo industry at its peak was quite big but it is now dismissing men because of lack of work as a result of recession in the building industry in the various States. The terrazzo industry employs a large amount of unskilled labour which is not easily placed if there is a recession in this industry.
For many years there was a big demand for terrazzo by Government departments for use in places where there was heavy wear. We now find that the Department is specifying vinyl tiles or use in airport buildings for very good reason, if we accept the Minister’s statement, but 1 query the advice upon which he is acting. Obviously, vinyl tiles are cheaper to install-but the cost of maintenance is terrific as compared with that of terrazzo. It was stated by the Department in Sydney, when this matter was queried, that it was thought easier to get appropriations for maintenance through the Parliament than to get appropriations for capital works.
In a letter of 26th March 1968 the Minister states that vinyl tiles are preferred because the cost of installation’ of terrazzo is assessed to be about three times the cost of installing vinyl tiles, even taking into account cleaning costs; which are estimated by Sydney commercial cleaning firms to be about equal for both terrazzo and vinyl tiles. There could be no criticism of the Department for installing something when the cost of the alternative was three times as high and the cost of cleaning was the same. But the information. T have received from Melocco Bros Pty Ltd, of Booth Street, Annandale, Sydney, which at my request made some investigations into the use of both vinyl and terrazzo, is that taking into account the cost of the underbed necessary to give a good vinyl tile floor for airport installations the comparable cost would be approximately $6 per square yard for vinyl tiles and approximately $8 per square yard for in situ terrazzo paving. Obviously there is no question of terrazzo costing three times as much, if these figures are correct.
I do not know whether the Minister’s comparison took into consideration the foundation necessary for the installation of vinyl tiles or only the cost of the tiles and the cost of terrazzo, but it is necessary to have a bed for vinyl tiles just as it is necessary to have a bed - possibly the same type of bed - for the top coating of terrazzo. My informant states:
It can bc seen, therefore, that the initial installation price difference would be liquidated in about one year, but it should be remembered that it would probably become necessary to replace the vinyl al least once within the first 10 years. Under these circumstances the economics of the situation become immediately apparent.
The firm also states:
Accredited floor maintenance organisations have reported that costs for cleaning of terrazzo can be 20c per square fool per annum less than for cleaning vinyl, that is, about half the cost.
There we have the opinion of someone who has made inquiries, which would suggest that the Minister’s figures need some further investigation. In a letter dated 30th April the Minister gives yet another ground:
My Department reaffirms that the laying of terrazzo is a late, wet trade operation. This, of necessity, affects the completion time of other trades and the overall completion time of the buildings concerned.
To anyone in the building trade this is simply rubbish, wherever the information comes from. There is no reason why terrazzo cannot be laid immediately the foundations are laid, preferably when the outside walls or the partitions are erected. Throughout Australia floors are being laid in terrazzo in buildings without completion being delayed. While this is a wet trade operation there is no need at any time to delay the work of another trade or delay completion of a building. The Minister goes on to say that vinyl had received the approval of the Public Works Committee. Possibly the Committee did not have any other recommendation before it.
Terrazzo is being used in airport buildings throughout the world but not in Australia. Having a longer life, as good an appearance and finish, being more serviceable and attracting reduced maintenance and replacement costs, a terrazzo floor will last the life of a building, lt will also, I submit, be subject to lower cleaning costs. It is therefore natural that other countries are using it. I do not know whether or not I have a suspicious mind, but vinyl tiles are the product of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd, a millionaire company, and such a company may have an influence on some departments at some time. I am informed that terrazzo is the favoured material for public concourses in the United States of America and that the following number of square feet have been used in airport building in these places: Austin, Texas, 80,000; Houston, Texas, 225,000; Dallas, Texas, 435,000; Tulsa, Oklahoma, 100,000; Memphis, Tennessee, 150,000; Atlanta, Georgia, 150,000; Los Angeles, California, 750,000; West Palm Beach, Florida, 35,000. Elsewhere in the world, including London, Tokyo and many other cities, the story is repeated and extensive use is made of terrazzo. Reports from the United States have shown that just the savings in the annual maintenance costs of terrazzo in schools have recouped the whole of the capital cost well within the life of the building.
But in Australia we are not given the opportunity to use terrazzo. That means that we sacrifice the big labour force in that industry, which includes a large proportion of unskilled workers, and also sacrifice a superior floor that will last for the lifetime of the building because, in the opinion of the Department of Works, it is three times dearer - there is some question about that and the Department should check its quotations - and because this is a. wet trade and the completion of buildings could be held up. That reason would not be accepted by anyone associated with the building trade. So wherever the Minister obtains his information from, it is entirely false. The Department needs to discuss this matter with some operatives in the industry. The Department should discuss the effect that terrazzo work would have on the completion of government buildings other than airport buildings. In other buildings cement floors, with trowelled cement or terrazzo finishes, are used without hesitation and without delaying the completion of them.
– I wish to deal with a quite different subject. This will enable the Minister to obtain an answer for Senator Cavanagh. 1 refer to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department item in Division 584. I think there is a very quick answer to my question, but 1 would like to hear it. There is no appropriation for this item in 1968-69. Neither is there any appropriation in 1968-69 for the Postmaster-General’s Department item in Division 925, which deals with capital works and services. Up to the present the practice has been that the Department of Works builds ail the buildings and carries out all the alterations for the Postmaster-General’s Department. Last year the expenditure on these two items was of the order of §24m. My question is quite a simple one. I gather that from now on, under the new arrangement of a trust account for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, that Department will place its own contracts for buildings and the Department of Works will not carry out any building or alterations work for il. Is that the case?
– I thank the Minister for his courteous answer to my inquiry. 1 believe that in the total appropriation of about $27m the amount for the Adelaide Airport is infinitesimal. If we add all the appropriations for the last 10 years it is even more infinitesimal 1 gather from the Minister’s reply that any reconsideration of the type of air cooling at the airport would need to be the result of an inquiry. I ask him whether he will initiate such an inquiry. As Senator Cavanagh has said, and as we know, an evaporative method of cooling has been used in the Adelaide Airport terminal, and over the years it has been most unsatisfactory. Because of Adelaide’s geographical position, all the aircraft seem to converge on it at the one time. When there is a crowd of people in the building, cooling is practically non-existent. Therefore I ask the Minister to have another look at this matter.
I also refer to the matter that Senator Cavanagh has discussed, namely, terrazzo flooring. I question whether there could not be some danger in using terrazzo. However, I agree with him when he says that some more permanent form of flooring than vinyl tiles would be more satisfactory. I agree that from the standpoint of maintenance and defining some more permanent form would be easier to maintain and better maintained. I wonder whether the Department might come up to date in the sense o£ using terracotta tiles, or something of that sort. I would like that to be considered. Also I would like to know whether any provision is to be made in the new temporary terminal for radio interviews. At present it is quite impossible to conduct an interview with a person who is going through the Adelaide Airport. There is no place in which interviews can bc conducted. Radio people are not allowed into the VIP lounge, and there is no other place in which people can be interviewed. 1 hope that there will be provision for interviews. I ask the Minister whether there will be.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania - Minister for Works) [5.42J - Nothing would please me more than to be able lo say that Senator Buttfield’s plea for radio interviewing facilities to be provided at the Adelaide Airport would be answered. But I regret to say that my advice in regard to designing modern airports would preclude consideration of that plea. 1 think my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), would shudder at the idea, because his whole approach is to enable the quick transit of passengers and to see that all activities other than those connected with getting people on and off aircraft are accommodated at places other than the airport.
In regard to Senator But trie Id’s contribution on terrazzo, in which she joined with Senator Cavanagh, I suggest that this is merely a matter of taste. Speaking for myself, I would regret any preference for terracotta over terrazzo. When 1 hear reference to the method of cooling, I appreciate the fact that Adelaide is notorious for excessive heat on some days of the year. I was trying to gel the correspondence that I exchanged with Senator Cavanagh on this subject some months ago. This matter was gone into then. I referred to the. fact that on very few days did the records show a temperature of more than 100 degrees, I think it was.
– At what time of the day?
– I know that certain factors have to be considered. In response to Senator Buttfield’s suggestion,I will see that the matter is re-examined. But I ask her to bear in mind the background that 1 have, namely, that this matter has been the subject of a Government decision on a basis of zoning throughout Australia in the last few months. Therefore we would have to have specific figures in relation to Adelaide to warrant a revision of that decision specifically in relation to Adelaide. From my knowledge of the Adelaide Airport and on what my colleague has said, I believe that the problem is of sufficient incidence to warrant Adelaide being given particular consideration.
With regard to Senator Cavanagh’s further reference to terrazzo and vinyl tyles, I point out that I have had correspondence with him on the matter. As a political representative, I would not be prepared to attempt to match anything that I could contribute with what he can contribute from his experience of these matters. But, as against that, my officers have considered this matter. They are not without very special experience. If any further consideration is to be given to the matter, it will have to be done not on the political level but on the trade level.
The answer to Senator Laucke’s point is that it is simply a matter of reorienting or rearranging the amounts. The $2,002,739 expenditure appearing on that page relates to salaries of staff engaged on the operation of plant in stores, workshops, hostels, quarries and so on. At this time these salaries, that is to say for the last financial year, were charged initially to this division and subsequently transferred out to their trust accounts. That is why they are deducted. However, as from 1st July this year the salaries will be paid direct to revenue instead ofto the credit of the division relating to salaries. It is all involved in the way in which the cost of the stores, plant and other items arc to be charged against the particular job and recouped from the return from the job.
The only other matter that I need comment on at this time is Senator Wilkinson’s observation on the Post Office accounts. It arises simply out of the fact that all Post Office accounts come into the Budget papers as from 1st July on a one line entry and they will be examined in detail1 when the Post Office accounts are being dealt with.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
-I want to take the risk of reintroducing the matter of the Adelaide Airport. I do not want to appear to be provincial upon it but tolend my word of support in relation to the airport and the conditions that apply there.I want to bring to the notice of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) with emphasis the various conditions with which the travelling public andthe visiting public are confronted there.
The Minister has already explained earlier today the position with relation to the airconditioning or ventilation of the proposed premises. But with it goes, as will be recalled a long story of the representation which has been made in connection with various aspects at the Adelaide Airport. I do not want to introduce civil aviation matters under this heading, butI do want to impress upon the Minister the strong feeling that there is in relation to various amenities there.
Those of us who represent South Australia have felt very keenly the fact that the Adelaide Airport building just simply has not been good enough. My own view is that there has been a departure from the original plan. What is now being prepared and erected is certainly appreciated but, from the point of view of long term activity the Adelaide Airport, in my view, is completely insufficient, especially from the point of view of a terminal building for the handling of aircraft and the handling of people, both passengers and the general public.
I lend emphasis to this by pointing out that civil aviation and movement in the industry are not just at their peak but are on the way up to an ever higher peak. In short, we are going to be involved in much greater movement of people by reason of improved aircraft facilities and this, of course, is going to be the focus of a great deal of public interest and attention. The Minister went to great pains this afternoon - and we appreciate the detail which he has given us - to explain from a report which he has in his possession, or which he has read the position at the Adelaide area with relation to certain temperature zones. In accordance with certain provisions which appear in that report to have been laid down, it has been decided that certain kinds of ventilation or air-conditioning are sufficient.
The Minister has backed this up by pointing out that the temperature is within a certain bracket of figures and therefore the ventilation or air-conditioning services which are envisaged are sufficient. May I submit to him with all respect that the provision of this kind of amenity for a public area such as a waiting room or a public gathering area attached to a modern air terminal goes rather beyond just a few figures with relation to temperature and rather beyond pure statistics? May I also submit to him that the position at Adelaide Airport is different from that obtaining at other airports throughout Australia?
I have pointed out over a period, as have my colleagues, that, because of our geographical position, we find ourselves with great crowds of people at the airport at certain times of the day. The situation then is most uncomfortable and unpleasant. Indeed, in these modern times, 1 suggest it is unrealistic. Therefore, as a South Australian Senator, I do urge the Minister to have another look at the position, or to take the matter up again with his Department because I would suggest that the fact that we are in a certain temperature zone is not the sole consideration. You can be in a certain temperature zone and have an outside temperature which is perfectly pleasant, but if you place a great crowd of people in a relatively confined space figures such as those contained in the report to which the Minister referred become unrealistic and have no relation to modern comfort.
I for one, and my colleagues with mc, would not be looking for any luxury appointments or accommodation. Rather do we look to the time when, obviously, the movement of people is going to be accelerated - to the time when there is going to be increased public interest and when more and more people will be moving through this medium and through airports. 1 submit that there is a real case to be made out for better amenities at the Adelaide Airport. As a South Australian senator, I press this point with urgency and emphasis because I know that I have the backing not only of our colleagues in this place but also of the public and the people who are interested in public movement and public affairs. 1 should like also to suggest to the Minister, with respect, that he might point out to the officers of his Department that an airport is not merely a place where we want rapid transit and the rapid movement of people; it is also the centre of a great deal of public interest today in that public figures arrive at and depart from airports. They have to be met, or interviewed, or accommodated. This is especially so at the Adelaide Airport for it is the transit centre through which people travelling to the east, to the west and to the north all pass. Therefore, any development of the Adelaide Airport such as is envisaged in the item which is before the Senate tonight really calls for some rather added and extra attention.
When I say ‘added and extra’ I am not referring to things which might not be regarded as our due or our lot. But I recall to the Minister’s mind the submissions that I and others have made to him over the last 2 or 3 years concerning what have been inadequacies at the Adelaide Airport. Our representations have been answered, and we are grateful for this but even now we are only getting what at best can be described as a temporary structure.
I conclude by asking the Minister to refer back to his Department, if he would, the whole of this important question of amenities at the Adelaide Airport, not just for the purpose of providing comfort for the people who use the airport but so that we might be sure that the whole business of the movement of people through airports can be done in a style which is at least as modern as any in the world.
– Before the sitting was suspended I had referred to the use of terrazzo in preference to vinyl tiles in airport buildings. I believe that during my absence the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) replied to my suggestion. I am relying now on a report that was made to me of what the Minister said. If the report given to me is correct, then I very much appreciate the Minister’s altitude on this matter. I appreciate that he did not deny what I had said and that he acknowledged that I might have some knowledge of the building industry. He did say, however, that he is advised by his departmental officers who are also somewhat expert in this particular branch of building construction.
I do not claim to have any special knowledge although I have been associated with the building industry for some time. Nor do I denerrate any officer of his Department. But the Minister has been given different figures from those which 1 have. Of course, knowledge of the building industry doss not make one an authority on the actual costs of certain operations. I have quoted certain prices, and the Minister has inferred others. He says that his figures disclose that terrazzo costs three rimes as much as vinyl tiles. I deny that. Here the question is not one of a person’s knowledge of the industry but one of fact. V hope the Minister will investigate this matter further. If 1 can assist him by giving him the sources from which I. obtained the prices I quoted, I shall be very happy to do so. T do not know who informed the Minister that there is some disadvantage in the use of terrazzo because terrazzo work is a wet trade and would delay the completion of the building. The Minister should disregard that advice. If he discusses the subject with anyone actively engaged in the building industry, from the architect to the labourer on the job, he will obtain a denial of this. The statement is such a stupid one that I do not know why it was made. If it is a question of proof, I can adduce the evidence.
The two reasons given in the correspondence were the cost factor and the delay in the completion of building. We do not want a dispute over this. The question of cost is a question of fact that can be verified easily. I still maintain that to accept that the use of terrazzo will delay the completion of the building is to accept evidence from someone who does not know. I do not ask the Minister to accept my opinion on this. He should ask someone associated with the trade, neither myself nor someone from his Department, but someone actively engaged in the industry. A lot of building experts have obtained their knowledge from books on theory. That is dangerous. The Minister should ask someone who has a practical knowledge of the trade. I hope that there will be no objection to the use of terrazzo in future buildings.
– 1 address some remarks to the Minister for Works in connection with the administration of his Department. I have raised a particular matter with him from time to time. I refer to the formulation of a uniform code of building regulations for Australia. A former Minister for Works, the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), about 4 years ago made a speech in which he indicated that many millions of pounds, in the currency in those days, would be saved if there were a uniform code of building regulations. The impression I obtained was that there was active consideration and active participation in negotiations with the States and with municipal authorities that dealt with building regulations, and that at a very early date a plan of uniform building regulations would be submitted. From time to time I made inquiries and at one stage I obtained the impression that the Departmen of Works had done a good deal of the work involved but that the whole matter was being delayed because of a lack of drafting expertise, possibly in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I ask the Minister how far this work has gone. I understand, from answers he has given me when I have asked questions, that the matter is pursued actively by his Department. 1 think the present Minister has taken a very great personal interest in this worthy objective. I consider that the finalisation of the matter is long overdue, seeing that many millions of dollars in costs of buildings could be saved. The matter is a very urgent one because at present a large number df buildings is under construction.
I think I should mention that I was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures and that the Committee had occasion to investigate the building trade. European migrants gave evidence that they would be helped greatly if the metric system were introduced in Australia, particularly in the building industry. Coming from Europe, they were used to the lineal measurements of metres and centimetres and the weight measures of grammes, milligrammes and kilogrammes. They thought that if they could use the metric system of weights anil measures they would be assisted greatly in assimilation. They have to learn our language. If they did not have to learn our system of weights and measures, their assimilation problems would be reduced greatly. On that score I put to the Minister that if the metric system of weights and measures were introduced, particularly in the building industry, apart from the scientific advantage it would provide an advantage with regard to the assimilation of migrants associated with the building trade. I put that in passing. My main request relates to the progress made in regard to uniformity in building regulations.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania- Minister for Works) T8.17) - When opening the Modular Society Conference in Canberra last week I indicated- that it was appropriate to consider the Society’s views as to the modular system _ of building because I thought that the Government should give earnest consideration to the adoption of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weight and Measures. The Government will decide that question as soon as possible. I am deeply indebted to Senator Laught for his continuing interest in this subject. It was in recognition of that interest that 1 provided myself with a specific statement from the Department as to the stage that has been reached by the Uniform Building Regulations Committee.
I am informed that the Interstate Standing Committee on Uniform Building Regulations set up in late 1964 is a voluntary association of State and Commonwealth officials brought together at the initiative of the Commonwealth Government. There are three members of the Department of Works on the Committee, together with fifteen other representatives. A special section of the Department of Works acts as the secretariat and the technical adviser to the Committee. Presently eleven out of fifty-nine parts known as Series 1 of the Australian Model Uniform Building Code have been circulated to the various State Ministers and State committees. Some of these parts are amongst the most difficult of the fiftynine to prepare and contain extensive commentaries on the subject matter. The examination by the States of the eleven parts so far produced is proceeding and the Committee is working on the preparation of Series 2. A further fourteen parts of this series are now significantly advanced. They follow a pattern similar to that for Series 1. It is necessary that Series 1 contains not only eleven parts but also extensive commentaries on their subject matter. The latter series will follow a similar pattern. It is necessary to follow such a pattern because the code will be entirely different from any existing regulations in Australia. Only by being so very different will it meet the clamour for Australia to have regulations suited to present times.
The talent to prepare such regulations lies in very few persons indeed and though there are various pressures from the industry to produce instant regulations, this is practically a physical impossibility. The States can in fact promulgate regulations stage by stage arising from the issue of the Australian Model Uniform Building Code series by series and this should mean that though there cannot be instant regulations there can be early regulations on the subject that the Committee considers should carry the highest priority.
I have given that information to the Senate in an endeavour to interest honourable senators in the problem that Senator Laught raised and so that they will realise the complexity of the matter. But still that does not daunt me or diminish my interest. I have arranged to visit at an early date the officer of that Department who is chiefly responsible for the secretariat to this Committee. I invite my colleagues to accompany me, if this is convenient. By taking a look at the series and discussing the matter we may bc able to get an understanding of the difficulties and complexities of the problem. I do not say that in an endeavour to allow the delay to continue. If it is put to me that this is a means of achieving a saving in the building industry the Government will use whatever authority it has to stimulate progress. But every honourable senator will realise how limited is the Commonwealths authority in the building industry. The problem is not one of getting drafting work done by the Attorney-General’s Department because a special draftsman, Mr CumbraeStewart, has been assigned lo the Committee. I understand that he is a retired parliamentary draftsman who resides in Tasmania. I imagine his selection is due to the fact that the Chairman of the Committee Mr B. L. Dechaineux, resides in Hobart. I mention these matters because T know of the continuing interest of Senator Laught in the matter. 1 hope that all honourable senators will help towards achieving uniformity, but my belief is that even with the best will in the world and the utmost endeavour, it will be a long task. Senator Cavanagh again referred to a matter that is vexing him, and that is the cost of vinyl ‘ tiles compared to terrazzo for the Adelaide airport terminal.
– For all airports.
– I will willingly invite the appropriate officer of my Department to consult Senator Cavanagh on the matter and if. arising out of that consultation, somebody who is independent and experienced is suggested to make an assessment of this issue, 1 will use my influence to ensure that the Department avails itself of thaI independent advice.
I am obliged to Senator Davidson also for his reference to the Adelaide airport terminal. I wish to make it clearly understood by the Senate that the Department of Works is not responsible for the actual planning of airports. That is the province of the Department of Civil Aviation. The Department of Works undertakes designs and builds according to the brief it receives from the Department of Civil Aviation. Anybody who has given one moment’s reflection to the financial problem associated with constructing the civil aviation arteries will realise that finance is a very vital factor in the decisions of the Department of Civil Aviation, lt is therefore appropriate to remind the Senate that Adelaide was fortunate in that it was one of the first Australian airports to receive the great postwar improvements in dimensions and layout. But such has been the velocity of development under the coalition Government that we now find that those cities that were fortunate in obtaining airport improvements soon after the war are now in need of further improvements. Improvements were carried out at Adelaide and then Perth and Hobart. Launceston airport was perhaps the most fortunate because it was the last, lt has a beautiful airport. But in due course, according to the development of the nation and the finances available, the terminal at Adelaide airport will be brought up to the desired level.
Honourable senators have referred to the temperature of the terminal building at Adelaide airport. I am reminded that on 20th March 1968, 1 provided an answer to Senator Cavanagh relating to average temperatures in Adelaide. I explained to him the basis upon which the Department justified the use of evaporative cooling systems. I pointed out that over a period of 16 years the average daily maximum temperatures recorded were 85 degrees on 36 days. 90 degrees on 21. days, 95 degrees on 9 days and 100 degrees on 3 days.
– That is not inside the terminal.
– it is estimated that when the outside temperature is 100 degrees, the inside temperature is approximately 85 degrees. The Department of Works must be guided by the statistics. Therefore this system of cooling has been adopted. But as I said on an earlier occasion, at the insistence of those who are so eager to have the matter re-examined, I will specifically draw the attention of my Department and of the Minister for Civil Aviation to it to see whether there is a case for revision. In saying that, 1 do not disregard what Senator Davidson has so appropriately said as to the inconvenience both from the point of view of space and temperature that is occasioned, especially when flights to the east and to the west coincide in Adelaide. But I have indicated thai the pressure on finance from the point of view of the demand for constructional improvements in civil aviation is so immense at the present lime that apart from the extensions that are already under const ruction in Adelaide it is difficult for me to see the Minister for Civil Aviation accommodating the moil worthy desires of my colleagues from Adelaide.
In the few minutes remaining I wish to discuss the contract at Ceduna to which Senator Cavanagh referred. I inform him that I have referred to the Hansard report of his reference to this matter a few days ago. lt is the direct responsibility of the Postmaster-General. Therefore, Senator Cavanagh will be able to discuss the matter during the estimates debate for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. .1 have asked my officers to see that the .Minister representing the Postmaster-General is specifically advised of the honourable senator’s concern and I will invite her to be readyspecifically to deal with the matter on that occasion.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) 1.8.30]- The question I wish to ask the Minister refers to a statement at page 264 of the Auditor-General’s Report for 1967-68. In a table setting out projects financed from departmental appropriations under the control of the Department of Works expenditure of 5499,699 appears for the erection of 135 houses at Townsville. The total lo 30:h June 1968 for that item is shown as $1,353,387. Is the Minister aware whether that total is the final cost, in which case the cost of each house would be about $ 10.000? If not, what is the anticipated total cost of the houses? What are the size and nature of the houses? Are they to accommodate Army personnel? The same table refers lo the construction of field force accommodation at Mount Stuart, the erection of three canteens and the construction of an FI 1 1 hangar. These are Service installations
I am curious to learn whether the 135 houses are being erected for the Army and whether the cost of each is about $10,000. 1 would appreciate it if the Minister could inform me of the anticipated final cost that the Department of Works will charge to its client, whether there is an amount outstanding, whether the houses are completed, and the sizes of the houses. It seems that the cost of each house is rather high.
– As the honourable senator will know, the Department of Works constructed for the Army a considerable group of houses at the military establishment at Townsville. I am not precisely informed as to the actual stage of production of the houses. In the statement I made when introducing the estimates for the Department of Works I referred to current ma jor works under construction. The houses referred to are not listed within it. I also referred to major projects to commence within the next year. The houses do not appear in that bracket. I would therefore infer that the housing “programme at Townsville has moved almost to completion. As to the average cost of each house and the number of rooms it contains, I do not have that information. I shall get it for the honourable senator and let him have it at an early date.
Proposed expenditure and proposed-‘ provision noted.
Proposed expenditure $4,719,000.
– I want to make a few observations about the proposed expenditure for the Parliament. Perhaps I should say at the outset that this debate gives me an opportunity to comment upon the functioning of the Parliament on the basis of my observations on a recent overseas visit. My comments may be of some value to honourable senators. Before I do that I wish to point to what I consider to be a couple of deficiencies in this chamber, it has been pointed out to me that I am one of the unfortunate few honourable senators in the chamber who have not directly available to them a sound reinforcement system. The microphones in the chamber are so located that on the opposite side of the chamber it is sometimes very difficult to hear me. I do not think I lack resonance or pilch. Honourable senators opposite have kindly told me that they cannot always hear me. Obviously they are anxious to hear what I have to say. The difficulty is that I do not have a microphone placed immediately in front of me.
The second deficiency lo which I wish to refer means that it is sometimes inconvenient and frustrating for me to be forced to move aside to allow one of my colleagues access to his seat in the chamber. One would expect that in a properly set up chamber room would be provided behind my bench to allow honourable senators access from the aisle Lo their seats. I mention these things in passing.
I turn now to the appropriation in Division 103 for the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, lt seems that a new procedure is being adopted for recording some of the business conducted in this building outside the chamber. Today I noticed in the course of committee work that a tape recorder was being used to record the proceedings. Is this something new that is being introduced? ls there in fact a shortage of parliamentary reporting staff to fulfil the needs of the system? 1 think the innovation is reasonable, because the Senate has in fact moved into quite an exciting era that is productive and beneficial. Although I consider it is a proper era into which we have moved, because a great deal more committee work is undertaken than formerly, no doubt quite a considerable strain has been imposed on the parliamentary reporting staff. Perhaps the Minister could clear up that point for me.
My next query relates to the appropriation in Division 105 of $153,000 for postage, telegrams and telephone services for the Joint House Department. This seems to mc an inordinately large sum for those purposes. There may bc a perfectly good reason for the size of the appropriation. 1 would imagine that there would be.
I turn now to Division No. 1 13 - Maintenance of Ministers’ and Members’ Rooms. I draw attention to the obvious deficiency in the provision of accommodation for honourable senators in this building. During my recent overseas visit 1 studied the facilities provided in some of the parliaments around the world. As an approach to this problem it should be borne in mind that the business of parliament, and the institution of parliament itself, are playing a much greater part than formerly, particularly in the Western countries of the world, lt is expected that the trend will continue. Tn those circumstances 1 suggest that there is a very real need to have regard to the accommodation requirements and the other services which ought to be provided to members of Parliament to enable them more efficiently to discharge their responsibilities to the electors.
Recently alterations were made to the office shared by Senator Wheeldon and myself. A partition was put through the office. This certainly had the effect of giving us a degree of privacy, but that is all that it achieved. My office is now rather like a dog box. lt is certainly an improvement on what it was previously, but it is still’ rather difficult in that office to do the sort of work one wants to do and needs to do to keep up with his duties as a parliamentarian. 1 shall leave my remarks at that and hope that the Minister will indicate to me the stage that has been reached in the planning of the new wing, if there is to be a new wing, and tell mc whether the ideas that will be considered for the extensions indicate the sort of thing that can be incorporated in a new and permanent parliament house. 1 trust that the Minister will be able to clear up those queries for me.
– Before responding to the points raised by the honourable senator, with his concurrence and the concurrence of other honourable senators 1 propose that the Committee reports progress and asks for leave to sit again at a later hour because I wish to present a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on another matter.
– by leave - I propose to make a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). Honourable senators will understand that when 1 use “he personal pronoun T, it relates to the Prime Minister.
In September 1965 the Government announced certain policy decisions regarding the use of Australian indigenous crude oil. Those decisions were a reaffirmation of the policy that the Government was determined that local refineries use all the crude oil produced in Australia, and an announcement that the price to be paid by refineries for Australian crude would be S3. 14 a barrel at the customs port at the refining centre nearest to the producing field. Included in this price was 67c a barrel as an ‘incentive’ payment. This arrangement was to finish on 17th September 1970 and no decisions were announced as to what would happen after that date. At that time the Moonie field was the only one in operation. The production of the Moonie ind Barrow fields was, and is, comparatively small and iiic extra cost resulting from the crude oil they sell at S3. 14 a barrel, together wilh freight costs, is already included in petrol prices in Australia.
Subsequently, very extensive oil fields were discovered in Bass Strait by Esso/BHP. Oil from these fields should begin to How in March 1 969 and by September .1970 it is expected that the fields will be producing at over 250.000 barrels of crude oil a day. During that period, this field may well produce in the vicinity of 60 million barrels. The prospect of such large quantities of oil which refineries had to buy at a price so much higher than the price of imported oil, obviously created a new problem and led to forecasts of considerable rises in prices of petrol and other petroleum products. Because of the effect that this would have throughout the economy the Government has most carefully studied the various problems raised and I have for some time been engaged in a series of negotiations with Australian oil producers and refiners.
I now wish to inform the House that the Government reaffirms its policy that for a period of 10 years beginning on 18th September 1970 refineries in Australia are to process Australian crude oil in order to provide the full requirements of the Austraiian market for petroleum products. This is of course subject to the need for sufficient imports to meet the requirements in Australia for bitumen, lubricants and fuel oil in excess of quantities that can be realised from Australian crude. Secondly the Government announces as policy that for a period of 5 years after 17th September 1970 - when the present policy arrangements terminate - the price that refineries will be required to pay Australian producers will be import parity, import parity is defined as the posted prices of overseas oil as of today, less the discounts allowed off those posted prices as of today, plus overseas freights at the most efficient and economic rates prevailing today, plus wharfage where applicable. To this price will be added a sum for quality differential worked out by the modified Nelson method. F,-cm the import parity price so arrived at will be deducted a sum representing the average freight cost of delivering Australian oil to the refineries from the port of delivery by the most economical means possible. This will mean that as from September 1970, for a period of 5 years, the price payable. for Australian oil should generally be neither higher, nor lower, than i.ne price now payable for overseas oil except for the effect of Australian coastal freights.
I now come to the period between March 1969 and September 1970 during which the present arrangement operates, during which the presently applying high prices for Australian crudes were agreed to be paid, and during which significant increases in the cost of petroleum products have been suggested. I have already said that the cost of oil from Moonie and Barrow at these high prices has been absorbed in existing petrol prices, and no alteration is to be made to the prices payable for oil from those fields until after September 1970 - when the import parity prices which I have described will apply. In the case of oil fields discovered by Esso-BHP we have agreed by negotiation that there will be a reduction in the prices Australian refineries are required to pay up to September 1970. Our agreement is that Esso-BHP will altogether forego the 67c a barrel known as the ‘incentive’ allowance. In addition, Esso-BHP will allow refineries a further discount: of 5c a barrel. The result is between March 1969 and September 1970 the price to be paid for this oil will be reduced from $3.14 a barrel to $2.42 a barrel at the customs port at the refining centre nearest to the producing field. After September .1970 the price payable for this oil will be import parity as already explained. This will reduce the price payable still further.
To sum up, the new arrangements made will mean that, the large newly discovered quantities of Australian oil to be used between March 1969 and September 1970 will cost. 72c a barrel, or a little over 2c a gallon less than was previously anticipated. After September 1970 the price payable for Australian crudes will be no more than the price of imported overseas crudes today except for any extra cost involved in transportation. This will not - between March 1969 and September 1970 - in itself prevent any increase in the price of petrol. But it will undoubtedly materially reduce the size of any rise that might take place.
I have so far spoken only of the pricing policy for Australian crudes and of the Government’s requirement that the Australian market should be supplied from such crudes. Bui we need to discover more oil in Australia. The Government is therefore currently studying the separate question of the need for incentive for oil exploration in the period after 17th September 1970. Various proposals are under examination and we will in due course announce the form of incentive, if any, which we will adopt. In the meantime the arrangements I have just announced will provide a firm basis upon which industry can plan ahead for the use of Australian crudes and will reduce any future rise in the price of petroleum products.
– I move:
I wish to speak on this matter. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1217).
Proposed Expenditure, $4,719,000.
– I ask that consideration be given to the possibility of placing in this chamber the type of stop clock that is installed in the other place, whereby speeches can be timed, lt would be an advantage in this place to have a similar facility. I realise that on some occasions honourable senators have longer periods in which to speak but we voluntarily restrict ourselves when the proceedings are being broadcast and sometimes at the close of a session to shorter periods than those provided under the Standing Orders. In these circumstances such clocks would be of assistance to honourable senators.
– Let me deal with the last matter first. I favour this idea. 1 had experience in another parliament where there was a stop clock which gave a warning when a speaker got to within 2 or 3 minutes of his allotted time. As most parliamentarians are by instinct enthusiasts, they sometimes find it difficult to come to their perorations, and they are suddenly cut off by the Presiding Officer or his representative saying: ‘The honourable senator’s time has expired’. When a stop clock is installed, a speaker who has a case to put, has preparation to make and wants to finish on a high note, gets a signal without anybody making any noise. He simply looks up and knows that he has a minute or so to go. He can then come to the conclusion of his contribution in an orderly way. I have no doubt that this matter will be looked at by the proper authority.
In dealing with estimates for other departments than my own I may well have some difficulty in replying to questions that honourable senators pose. I give the same assurance as I gave when dealing with the estimates for my own Department, that is, that if there is some matter in which I fail to give a reply or in which an answer may well be given in more depth subsequently, I shall certainly have it picked up and an appropriate communication sent to the honourable senator concerned to cover the points raised.
I now come to the references made by Senator Devitt. He spoke about the acoustics of the Senate chamber. Let us face it. A number of senators suffer from difficulties with the acoustics. Sitting in the front row, for instance, we have a Minister in the chair, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) sitting opposite, and the Hansard reporters - a number of people sitting at the same level - and frequently in certain areas one does not hear. Senator Devitt has difficulty. It is very difficult for me to hear Senator Ormonde, Senator Georges and Senator Lillico. I am constantly being told by my own team that it is difficult to hear me; I apparently mumble in my beard a bit. Altogether, I think, there is a valid case for an expert examination of the position. Already some work has been done in relation to the matter and I understand a further examination will be made.
Senator Devitt referred to tape recorders and the fact that on certain committee work Hansard reporters were being replaced by them. The Senate, by its own action in moving towards a far wider range of committee activity, has put an additional burden of tasks on the Hansard personnel. It is true that tape recorders are employed on some occasions to record the proceedings of committees. This is done to relieve the load on reporters, which has increased with the greatly increased committee activity. We should all be very conscious of that.
Senator Devitt referred also to the provision in Division 105 for postage, telegrams and telephone services. The proposed appropriation is $153,000, whereas the expenditure last year was $139,863. This vote will rise by $13,137 because of increased charges for trunk metered calls and telegrams emanating from telephone services in Parliament House. The other matter that he raised was maintenance of the rooms of Ministers and members, which is covered toy Division 113.1 am informed that the Department of the Interior is the responsible department. For that reason I am not in a position to make a very real contribution. I am aware, as we all are, of the need for increased accommodation. This is not a problem so much with Ministers, although some Ministers have difficulties in relation to it. but senators and members have real restrictions in relation to accommodation. I am not informed as to the position in regard to proposed extensions to Parliament House, but I will find out and undertake to have a communication sent to the honourable senator in relation to that matter.
– 1 address myself to Division 104, which relates to the Library. I would like to take this opportunity to make some remarks about the new situation in the Library since the National Library left the precincts. I want to congratulate all of those who offer such splendid services to us as parliamentarians. I do not know where one could hope to get better service than we get in our Library. The Chief Librarian, Mr Fleming, is at all times courteous and is planning for more and more improvements in the services. I particularly want to make reference to the six research officers that we have; in the field of science, Mr Barry; defence and technology, Mr Templeman; foreign affairs, Mrs Warde; social welfare, Mr Weir; economics, Miss Morris; and statistics, Mr Morris. I feel that they are giving wonderful service to the Parliament. It is reflected in the debates in this chamber that we are more and better informed, able to devote ourselves more quickly to the
Bills that are coming up, and able lo make more informed speeches. It is reflected right through all our debates in this chamber. 1 suggest that these officers would be helped greatly if, during parliamentary recesses, they could be sent overseas. Every one of these fields could derive a great deal of benefit by comparison with the research services of other libraries in other countries. I ask the Minister whether some consideration could be given to sending at least one or two of these officers overseas in each parliamentary recess in order to improve their knowledge and to bring it up to date and in order to compare our service with those provided in other libraries.
– I have been informed that the point that Senator Buttfield has made has some validity and that the matter is currently under consideration.
– I refer to a small point that comes under the appropriation for the Joint House Department. 1 wish to make some observations on the public address system within Parliament. House and to speak strongly about what 1 regard as its inadequacies. This is perhaps not so much a fault of the system as a result of the fact that the membership of the Parliament and the various activities engaged in within this building have multiplied and have become complicated in recent times.
The public address system, as it is now constituted, is inadequately spread through the building. In spite of the fact that we are served very well by the people who attend to it, its messages do not reach to all corners of the building and because of the activity in the buil’ding they are frequently inaudible. This can arise in the refreshment rooms or in some of the corridors, where there is a considerable amount of noise from the conversations of people. When the volume of the public address system is turned down we are unable to hear what is being said. When the volume is turned up it becomes aggravating and annoying. The problem becomes increasingly difficult when people who come to Canberra or officers of the various departments desire to contact senators, as they frequently do, only to be informed that the particular senator b nol available. Then after 2 days these people advise the senator that they have been trying to contact him.
As you know, Mr Temporary Chairman, this matter has been raised in this chamber on a number of occasions, by means of questions and the use of various other forms of the Senate, with the object of seeing whether the present system could be disposed of and a more up to date one involving the equipment of senators with devices to enable the people operating the public address system to get in touch with them wherever they happen to be - whether silting in the chamber, in their rooms, in the Library or anywhere else.
Having seen this system in action overseas in recent weeks, I believe that it is a very efficient one. I am advised that it is not excessively expensive, lt certainly means that senators are not inconvenienced. More importantly it means that people who come to see senators or members of the House of Representatives are nol inconvenienced. I suggest with all respect that the present public address system within this building is inadequate and completely out of date. I hope that some early steps will be made to lake this mailer up so that this building can be put on the same level as the Canberra Community Hospital, the new National Library building here in Canberra and other modern buildings throughout Australia as well as other modern buildings, including hotels and parliamentary buildings, throughout the world. 1 would like the Minister to have a look at the matter and to deal with it in the ordinary way. 1 am very pleased to hear the reference to the Parliamentary Library that has just been made by Senator Buttfield. As one who is privileged to serve on the Library Committee, I believe that the innovations that have been introduced are of considerable value. In particular I mention, in addition to the matters that she has raised, the rapid reading course and equipment. I hope that more honourable senators will take advantage of it. because the more we have to do the more we have to read. If we are equipped not only to read but also to comprehend, that will be a distinct advantage.
I refer now to the matter of secretarial services. As I said earlier in another con text, one does not look for any form of luxury equipment. But we are involved with all kinds of work. 1 plead For an extension of secretarial and typing services, particularly for senators, if not by making extra personnel available then at least by making the services available for longer hours. In the normal pattern, people in offices go home at 5 p.m. But the Senate sits until 1 1 p.m., and we work on all phases of our duties all through those intervening hours. Other services are available to us, and we appreciate that. I believe that it would be distinctly advantageous if arrangements could be made for an extension of secretarial services.
Finally I refer to the appropriation for standing and select committees of the Senate, which I note with appreciation has been increased from $40,000 to $67,700. This results from a number of matters, but mainly from the increase in the number of standing and select committees. That naturally involves a greater expenditure, but 1 am sure that the return in experience and material provided in reports will be of great advantage. On the other hand I plead, as other senators have, for more adequate servicing of select committees. We appreciate what has been done for us up until now by officers of the Parliament acting as secretaries to committees. But, as the number of committees grows, as their work grows and as the work of the Parliament grows, it becomes rather more than the officers can manage. Members of select committees need to move quickly and to make themselves acquainted with a vast amount of material. I hope that in future there will be more adequate servicing of standing and select committees than heretofore.
– I agree with the comments that have been made by Senator Davidson in regard to typing services. Tn this building at the present time we members of the Opposition - there are twenty-eight of us - have one typist. This imposes a tremendous load on the lass who is doing the typing. The load is so great that I would not be a bit surprised if quite a number of honourable senators, like myself, feel that she already has sufficient on her plate and say to themselves: ‘We will go away and write our letters ourselves’. I know that that happens because it happens in my own case. 1 am not complaining about the service. At all times 1 have received nothing but courtesy and all the assistance that one could expect. But the position is that at present there are two typists - one doing the typing for Opposition senator^ and the other typing reports of committee:;, or something like that. Frankly, 1 do not think that is good enough. At one stage when this was happening r made a complaint to the Clerk of the Senate. I said that if we were to carry out our functions properly we should be able to go into a room privately and talk to the typist and dictate our letters or whatever we might want typed. One feels some reluctance to do that when one finds that only half of the accommodation provided is available to the typist who works for twenty-eight senators, or almost half the total number of senators, and the other half of the room has been made available for some other purpose.
The question to which I was about lo refer a little earlier is: Why are tha two typists in the one room? I believe that it would be correct to say that in the 3 years I have been in this place the space available to private senators has diminished notwithstanding the fact that their duties, responsibilities and the work that they have to do have increased. A short while ago I attended five meetings in one day. Certainly, they were not all meetings of committees of the Senate, but the fact is that I attended five meetings in one day and endeavoured to put in a reasonable amount of time in the chamber while at the same time attempting to keep up with the certain amount of electoral work that one must always bring to this place and to keep in communication with my office. The diminishing area available to private senators notwithstanding the increased work load that is being imposed on us is making things increasingly difficult. We must appreciate what the Minister said concerning the area of responsibility for accommodation but I take advantage of the opportunity available to me to comment upon this matter. There is a continuing encroachment by ministerial staffs on the accommodation of private members. When 1 first came into this place there was a room where we could take visitors and talk to them. If I had two visitors in my present room at the same time I would have a job to get in it myself. Previously we used the room, I think it is L29, where the newspapers were located but that room has been taken from us because of the requirements of Ministers.
Surely this must have been foreseen over the years and some action should have been taken before this to keep up with the demands of parliamentary service that fall upon the shoulders of honourable senators. 1 do nol know when the additional accommodation will be provided but al present we have a very limited and totally inadequate amount of space available to us to carry out our duties. Someone must have (he responsibility of taking action to overcome this problem which has been developing for some time. I hope that the provision of new accommodation will provide an opportunity to implement some systems which ultimately will become part and parcel of the new and permanent parliament house.
I move to another aspect. I understand that a new system of calling or alerting members and senators is to be introduced. lt is a device that one carries in the pocket on which a call can be buzzed by electronic means. When I was abroad 1 saw in the Parliament House at Kuala Lumpur a listening device by which members have the same kind of system that Ministers and, 1 think, Whips have for listening to debates. I understand that something of that nature is to be provided as well. However we must not lose sight of the fact that ultimately this present building will come down when the new and permanent parliament house is built on Capital Hill, as undoubtedly it will be. Whatever is done in this building must be done wilh an eye to the future. In the meantime we still have to live and carry out our parliamentary functions and try to provide the absolute top level of service to the people of Australia. We must do more than has been done in the provision of accommodation and the other services which will enable senators to fulfil in a much better way their functions as members of Parliament.
– Both Senator Devitt and Senator Davidson have referred to the call system that operates in the House. In one sense the situation is very delicate because as the number of parliamentarians has increased and as the number of people associated with parliamentary activities in the direct sense in the Parliament has increased, so there has been an increase in the number of calls going through the call system. Although Ministers are not subjected to call, 1 know from my own experience that the call system can become intolerable because of the sheer weight of number of calls. They tend to take away the privacy of party meetings, for instance. You cannot do any constructive thinking and you tend to cut off the call system because it is going more or less continuously.
I note wilh interest the references to other methods that have been employed. I was chairman of directors of a fairly big metropolitan hospital. We introduced a call system for the medical, senior administrative and nursing staffs whereby they carry in the pocket a device the size of a small transistor which gives out a bleep when the person concerned is required. The person cannot speak into the device but it is a signal that he is being called so he simply walks to the nearest telephone and takes the call. This was a tremendous advantage and today most major hospitals have a system of that kind because they, like us, were confronted with the problem of calls going through the system continuously.
The staff concerned does a very good job despite the fact that it is operating with obsolete equipment. However I can say that the inadequacies of the present system and the question of alternative methods is under consideration by the Joint House Committee and it is expected that improvements will be effected very soon. But that will nol deal wilh the big problem of the work load in the Parliament. Concurrently with the improvements that are taking place, more consideration is being given to the question of the installation of more modern equipment to deal with the situation.
Reference was made to rapid reading. Rapid reading is a very good thing. 1 do not know the situation in which other honourable senators find themselves but I have an inability to make any impact on the tremendous amount of paper that comes on lo my desk. I suppose other honourable senators are in a similar position. One famous character who now has gone from the Parliament dealt with the problems arising from the paper war by moving everything from his desk into the wastepaper basket. That is one way of solving the problem. It is a matter for the individual whether he responds to rapid reading, lt would not be a bad idea for honourable senators to go to the rapid reading class to see how they react but I hope it will not mean that they will take even more of the hide of Ministers than they do at present.
The question of providing stenographer and officer assistance for the servicing of select committees was raised. There is before the Public Service Board al present for advice a proposal to create five additional positions of Senate officer - this will include research officers - to staff select committees. I think all honourable senators will agree that this is a very desirable move. Senator Devitt pointed out that only one lass is provided to do stenographic work for Labor senators. I think the position is the same for Government senators. The girls work normal office hours and therefore there is a limit to what they can do. I think this is a matter which also should be looked at and I will pick it up and direct the comments that have been made in the debate to the appropriate authority.
Some of the matters that Senator Devitt touched on were related fairly closely to what Senator Davidson said. He referred to the availability of rooms in which to interview visitors. That matter is tied up with the general matter of accommodation. I am not informed about what, if anything, is being done in terms of accommodation in the present Parliament House. I think the matter is still under consideration by the Government. That is all I can say at this time. I also appreciate that it is very difficult. More and more people are coming to the national capital and we all think that is a good thing. I think it is desirable, under our democratic processes, that they should come to the national capital and, when they do come here they should come to the Parliament and seek to meet their parliamentary representative. I know that every parliamentary representative tries lo be courteous to his constituents when they come. He endeavours to find time to show them through the building and, if they are personal friends, to give them some hospitality. But it becomes tremendously difficult to treat them properly when one has not somewhere to take them, such as an interview room where one may speak with them in comfort. I should think that this is one matter the consideration of which cannot be delayed for too much longer and no doubt it will be considered when investigations are being made as to the type of extensions which will be most appropriate to the existing Parliament House.
-I notice that the total proposed expenditure for Parliament is an amount which exceeds the actual expenditure of last year by $499,000. 1 have made some calculations, and it appears that of that $499,000 the sum of $100,000 is related to an increase in salaries and allowances. My questions hereafter are designed to elicit some information because it does appear to me that it is useful for the Senate to know precisely how and why there has been this increase for the coming year in the cost of the Parliament.
– Is the honourable senator dealing now with the Parliament or the Senate?
– I am dealing with the Parliament. I am dealing first of all with the question of printing, binding and distribution of papers. The first reference to that is in item 02 of sub-division 2 of Division 101 under ‘Administrative Expenses’. There is reference to it also in Division 102, sub-division 2 and also in Division 103, items 02 and 03 of sub-division 2. It would appear that the proposed increase over the estimate for the previous year is approximately $.120,000. Indeed, when one looks at the actual expenditure of the previous year, the amount is even greater than $120,000.
Why is it that the cost of printing, binding and distribution of papers for both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and for the Parliamentary Reporting Staff is rising by what I would regard as a very significant amount? I would be interested to know what were the reasons for proposing an expenditure which is so much greater than the actual expenditure of last year.
The second item to which I refer relates to Division 1 12 which is concerned with the conveyance of members of Parliament and others. I assume that ‘others’ relates to the staffs of Ministers, but I would be grateful to have confirmation that this is the position. Otherwise, what is covered by the word others’. I notice from the Auditor-General’s report that there was an increase of $145,000 in the year 1967-68 over the year 1966- 67. That sort of increase is reflected in the difference between the estimate for last year and the estimate for this year. lt would appear, when one examines the figures, that the actual expenditure for 1967- 68 was $1,115,000, and, on a comparable basis, $1,120,000 is the estimate for this year. But the estimate for last year and the expenditure for last year showed a great disparity. That is reflected by what the Auditor-General has to say. I would be grateful for any information which the Minister is able to give as to why there has been that disparity and why there is such an amount provided in the proposed expenditure for this year.
The third matter to which 1 refer relates to Division 113 which relates to the maintenance of Ministers’ and members’ rooms. There is an increase estimated for this year over the expenditure of last year of approximately $150,000. Indeed, in terms of estimates, it is an increase of approximately $200,000 over the amount which was estimated for least year. In examining the details of these expenses, I exclude entirely salaries and allowances which one could reasonably expect would show a continuing increase year by year and refer only to administration expenses. One considers, for example, that there is some $17,000 involved in the increase in the cost of postage, telegrams and telephone services over the expenditure of last year.
– To which item is the honourable senator referring?
– I am referring to Division 113 which relates to administrative expenses. At the moment, I refer in particular to item 01 which relates to postage, telegrams and telephone services. It would appear that the cost of postage, telegrams and telephone services is expected to increase by some $17,000 over the expenditure for last year. When one considers rent, there is an estimated increase of something in the nature of $67,000. There is an increase also in what is described as incidental and other expenditure of something approaching $50,000. These are matters which [ am sure have some very sensible and legitimate explanation behind them. It is purely for the sake of information that I ask these questions, and I would be grateful if the Minister could give me the information which I seek.
- Senator Greenwood has asked a number of questions and I think I should try to answer most of them while I can. He asked a series of questions about printing, binding and distribution of papers, which is covered in Division 102, sub-division 2, item 02. Here the increase is from $109,806 to $120,000. The amount proposed for this year is $10,194 in excess of the actual expenditure for last year. The items for which provision has been made here include Bills $66,000, notice papers, $7,500, votes and proceedings, $5,500. parliamentary papers, $35,000 and miscellaneous $6,000. The increased provision over the expenditure for 1967-68 is due to increased activity in the printing of Bills and parliamentary papers coupled with increased costs in printing generally. I think that relates to the House of Representatives, from the information I have.
– The figure is $40,000.
– Has the honourable senator made a consolidation to get his $40,000?
– Item 02 of subdivision 2 of Division 101, which relates to the Senate, indicates an increase of some $40,000.
– The proposals provide $70,000 for parliamentary papers, $10,000 for Bills, notice papers and journals, $1,000 for Acts and statutory rules, $3,000 for postage, $1,000 for binding and $ 1 ,000 for miscellaneous items. The increase shown in these items is $39,100, but it is anticipated that the evidence and reports of at least three Senate select committees will be printed during 1968-69. For that reason the estimates for 1968-69 shows an increase of $38,120 over the expenditure in 1967-68. Additional expenditure is anticipated for postage. This comes into perspective when one remembers the papers that ‘ were introduced by Senator Laught as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures. We could hardly see Senator
Laught behind the pile of papers. They included not only reports but also the transcript of evidence. The printing of documents also is included in the estimate. I think every honourable senator who has been a member of a committee is conscious of the large volume of work and of the cost involved, particularly in the printing of the transcript of evidence. The cost is astronomical. That is the explanation of the item.
Senator Greenwood also referred to Division 103, Parliamentary Reporting Staff, and to the administrative expenses for the printing, distribution and binding of Hansard for the Senate and for the House of Representatives. The expenditure is related directly to the sittings of the Parliament - and this is an interesting point - which are expected to be more prolonged in 1968-69 than in 1967-68. An increased provision is sought accordingly. The item of incidental and other expenditure provides for all administrative expenditure apart from salaries and travelling and subsistence allowances. An increased provision is sought to meet additional expenditure arising from prolonged sittings of the Parliament and increased activity of parliamentary committees.
The honourable senator made particular reference to the item concerning the cost of conveyance of members of Parliament and others under Division 112. The item is a provision to meet the cost incurred by members travelling by air, rail and official cars as well as, on occasions, the cost incurred by their wives and children. The estimate is made up of a series of items. They are: life rail passes held by sitting members, $2,880; life rail passes held by retired members and ex-members, numbering fortynine, $14,700; life gold pass holders, exmembers, air travel, $15,000; estimated cost of official and private hire cars, $524,520; the estimated cost of air, sea and rail journeys not covered by passes, $561,400; car travel for staff of members of Parliament in official positions, except for example, Party leaders and Whips, $2,000. All of those’ items add up to $1,120,500 as against the 1967-68 expenditure of $1,115,000 and an appropriation of $1,035,000.
– There was an increase of $145,000 over the estimate for the preceding financial year.
– Yes, but the estimate for that year was exceeded by almost $100,000 in actual expenditure. The appropriation for 1967-68 was $1,035,000 whereas the actual expenditure was $1,115,000. Looked at in that light the increase is perhaps not so significant. The second item referred to by the honourable senator relates to administrative expenses for postage, telegrams and telephone services under Division 113 - maintenance of Ministers’ and members’ rooms. I have a document containing a list of figures and various explanations. 1 will read the explanations and give the figures only if there is difficulty of comprehension. The increased requirement is due to provision for a full year of increased postal and telephone charges effected in part only of 1967-68 and to the installation of multi-phones in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices. Martin Place, Sydney. Provision is made for known rental commitments only. For rent the figure rose from $148,000 to $213,000. The increase is due also to a lease of the Australian Mutual Provident Society building in Adelaide for $13,000 and to the provision of $53,700 for the repayment of the capital cost of remodelling Ministers’ and members’ accommodation in the Commonwealth Bank Building, Sydney; repayment of which is being effected over a period of 10 years. The honourable senators also referred to incidental and other expenditure.
– Order! The Minister’s lime has expired.
– - I wish to make a short appeal on behalf of the staff of Parliament House. I ask the Minister to give urgent consideration to the improvement of the staff refreshment rooms. They are hopelessly inadequate. 1 understand they are used by the Press also. Members of the female staff are subjected to special embarrassment if they wish to have a drink or entertain their friends. Their section is a small room, about 10 feet by 10 feet, and badly ventilated, if they desire service they have to knock on a half stable door which swings open. They are subjected to the embarrassment of facing a crowded bar. 1 think the request is a reasonable one. Possibly it. has nol previously been brought to the notice of the Minister.
– 1 will direct Senator Georges’ comment to the persons concerned. The matter is wrapped up with the whole question of additions to Parliament House. Senator Greenwood was concerned about the incidental and other expenditure under Division 1 1 3 - maintenance of Ministers’ and members’ rooms. The appropriation was $1.1,000 and the expenditure $27,568. The estimate for this year is $77,500. The item covers the cost of expenditure for which provision is not made under other items. In other words if is incidental. The increased provision is to provide for the cost of members’ photo copying machines and associated consumable stores. I think that sheds some light on it. Photo copying machines are expensive pieces of equipment which assist in providing the service that honourable senators set out to give.
– I am grateful to the Minister for the answers he has provided. He has given me a general idea of the reasons for the proposed increase of expenditure, with the exception of one item, which wish lo press further. I refer to Division 103 - Parliamentary Reporting Staff, and in particular to the printing, distribution and binding of Hansard, lt appears that there is an increase over last year’s expenditure of almost $90,000. 1 appreciate that this figure does not include increased salaries and allowances. 1 also appreciate that the Minister has said that the extra cost involved in the printing and distribution of Senate select committee reports has been covered under the item relating specifically to the Senate. As f said earlier, there is probably sound justification for the expenditure to increase but I would be grateful if the Minister could ascertain from his advisers why it is to rise to such a degree. Has the cost of printing, distributing and binding of Hansard increased at such a rate over the last 12 months that the increased expenditure is warranted? What is covered under this item? 1 feel it is appropriate to mention another aspect also. It might facilitate debate on the Estimates if the material that is provided to Ministers in explanation of the various items were also provided to senators. Of course, this is my first Estimates debate, but 1 feel that it would be of assistance to honourable senators if more information were supplied to them at least on those items which involve a considerable increase of expenditure. A large increase of expenditure naturally arouses one’s curiosity and one is prompted to find out the reason for it. If the prepared material that the Minister has in front of him were freely available to senators it might not be necessary for them to ask for further details. 1 would be grateful if the Minister would comment on my suggestion. Senator Milliner suggests by interjection that the provision of this information might add further to the printing costs. I trust that the benefit that honourable senators would gain would warrant the added cost.
– 1 am of the opinion that, instead of a photo-copying machine being provided to every honourable senator, a certain number of photo-copying and duplicating machines should be made available to each party. I have a photo-copying machine in my office. I find it is of extreme value. However, I do not use it all day long, lt is quite possible that some other honourable senator has not been supplied with one so far. I could make mine available to him. This could be done on a party basis. In this way it would not be necessary to have the great expense of providing a photo-copying machine for each honourable senator. I do think that one of the most important things that we need is some kind of duplicating or roneoing machine for each parly. I did not know that I was to get a photo-copying machine - it came out of the blue, almost, f applied for one when 1 knew that they were available. Although I think that they are handy, I believe that it is unnecessary to have one for each honourable senator.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) [9.45) - Senator Wilkinson expressed the view tha; it was unnecessary for each honourable senator or member of the other place to have a photo-copying machine, lt is very difficult to say that his view is correct. It depends on each person’s personal needs. Every senator, Minister or member of this Parliament has a private secretary. [ think it would be fair to say that some of us do not really need the services of a full time private secretary because we do not do the volume of work that others do. One secretary may be able to do the secretarial work of two senators or members. But against that there are other senators or members who are really in need of additional staff, because of their huge volume of work, lt is this type of problem that must be faced. lt is true that a senator may not need a photo-copying machine for his own exclusive use. But the point is that it should be available when he wants it. If he has some urgent work to do and he finds that another person will be working all morning on the machine that he wants to use he will be in difficulties. In the long run it is logical to supply each senator with his own equipment so that when he or his staff want to use it the equipment is available. 1 think that on balance it is the only practical way to approach that type of problem.
Duplicators have had a rather interesting career in parliamentary offices, loo. 1 am not suggesting for one moment that any honourable senator here would use a duplicator for other than his constituency work. But duplicators have been known to be used at election time for various extracurricular activities. Human nature being as it is, that is not surprising. But if any honourable senator feels that in addition to a copying machine he needs a duplicating machine, I think he should make representations to the responsible Minister and his request will be treated on its merits.
Senator Greenwood referred to the increased expenditure for the printing, distribution and binding of Hansard. Unfortunately, my dossier does not given any explanatory notes that could help me. Hovever, my advisers point out that these figures are estimates only and that the estimates have to be determined by the drawing together of advice given over the whole area of activity. The Government Printer may say: ‘My view is that because of the probable work load and likely variations in awards or costs, so much money will be required’. The possible replacement of plant and equipment is another factor. A whole series of factors are involved that may not be apparent from looking at these documents.
– I would bc grateful if that could be done.
– I refer to the appropriation for select committee expenditure. I direct the Minister’s attention to a recommendation in the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes for additional staff to enable committees to fulfil their commitments. The amounts which are set out in the statement do not seem sufficient to cover the type of work which should be encompassed toy select committees today. The Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes and the Senate Select Committee on Metric Weights and Measures have just completed their tasks. At present the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources, the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution, the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs and the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution are conducting their inquiries. A committee to inquire into repatriation matters should have been set up in accordance with a resolution of the Senate.
Nobody can properly deny that in recent years the Senate has played an important role in the Parliament. Many people have commented upon the activities of the Senate, not only in respect of new senators who have enlivened debates on important matters, but also in respect of the commissions undertaken by the Senate in committee inquiries. The committees have performed a remarkable job. 1 was a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes which made a great impact in the sphere of container shipping. Similar remarks apply to other committees. As a result of the work of Senate committees the prestige of the Senate has been enhanced and its effectiveness as a House of the National Parliament has been increased.
Officers of the Parliament have had increased burdens placed upon them. These people, generally speaking, advise chairmen and members of committees on such matters as the drafting of recommendations, the procedures to be adopted, and the charters of the committees, and on occasions they must interview special witnesses. Their particular skills must be accommodated to the requirements of the committees. In one case we had a man with certain legal training consulting with constitutional lawyers. They perform a very important function. When their duties with one committee are finished, they go to another committee. This should not happen, ft seems to me that the Government should consider the type of special staff that is required to help the officers who must organise the affairs of Senate committees so that they are not overworked and so that the importance of the committees may be properly recognised by Government departments. These are all relevant factors, as I see the position.
– I suspect that Senator Bishop was not in the chamber when I gave an explanation before of the matter to which he has referred. I indicated that a proposal is before the Public Service Board for advice to create five additional positions on the Senate staff in order to service Senate committees. The positions include those of research officers. Some of the positions proposed, if not all of them, may be the result of comments made by the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes.
– Do the proposals relate only to clerical positions?
– They include research officers. I do not know any more than that. I turn now to the point raised by Senator Greenwood. I have now some information which I rather suspect was given to me before but I did not take it on board. I am coming to grips with it now. It points out that last year was in fact a Senate election year.It was estimated that Parliament would sit for about 20 weeks. This year is not expected to be an election year. Perhaps I should leave that swinging by saying that this year was or is not expected to be an election year. It has been estimated that Parliament will sit for 26 to 28 weeks. Hence the higher percentage of printing related to costs. That is. one more item that I am sure the honourable senator would regard as valid.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure $24,837,000.
Proposed provision $10,277,700.
-I wish to direct my remarks to Division 433 - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. For a number of years members of the Opposition have been emphasising a theme in a comparison of the situation in Australia with the situations in Great Britain and the United States of America. I refer to the degree of parliamentary supervision imposed on a security organisation in a democratic country. Senator Greenwood referred earlier to some of the mounting costs in other sections of government activity. I do not think it is necessary for me to point out how the costs of ASIO have sky-rocketed. 1 want to say at the outset that when Mr Chifley, the last Labor Prime Minister, created this organisation he did so because every other major country had a similar apparatus. But we are getting somewhat concerned as costs mount. There is a tendency to get beyond the guidelines of the operating zone of treason and security. I am prompted to make that assertion because on” 13th August 1 placed on the notice paper question no. 349. It has not yet been answered. Perhaps it will receive the traditional answer that it is notthe practice to answer such questions in detail. If it is good enough for a committee in the United States to have certain supervisory powers over a security organisation there is no reason why we cannot do the same thing. 1 would take the suggestion a little further. Among other committees in this place we have the Joint Committee on Foreign AffairsI know that each member of that Committee gives undertakings about not breaching certain regulations and conditions.
That being the case I would visualise a small committee which, on a quarterly basis, could consult with the authorities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I do not suggest that the committee would go on a dossier hunt, but its operation would allay some of our suspicions if it enabled us to know the broad methods of recruitment to the Security Service and possibly, in general terms by means of statistics, the background of people engage d by the organisation. I say that in a rational fashion. Senator Gair, as a former Premier, would be aware that from time totime State Premiers have dealings with the organisation. I know also that there have been references by the ASIO to officials of the Australian Labor Party. At the time of the Cahill Labor Government in New South Wales, where we were faced with a couple of Public Service appointments people raised questions about the background of the proposed appointees. It is to the credit of the late Premier Cahill that he instituted inquiries despite the suggestion by Party officials like the former State President. Mr Campbell, myself and others that this had an aroma of McCarthyism. This is a situation in which a probe was made.
To take this matter a little further, I made a challenge in the Senate 12 months ago in the debate on the estimates for the same organisation and suggested that the batting result of the ASIO was not 100%. I said that we were often concerned about some of the errors made by the ASIO and 1 asked what was involved. I was not suggesting that we should have a royal commission so that everything would be produced in open court, but I was asking for an assurance of some sort of safeguard. I think other honourable senators will have found, as I have, that in a host of cases when we have sought naturalisation for immigrants we have met refusals, but on occasions when we have taken the matter further the decision has been reversed and justice has been done. In saying that 1 am not reflecting on the present Government; 1 am harking back to an earlier period in New South Wales. Obviously, on problems such as those involving immigration difficulties, officials of the Liberal Party would raise matters with Liberal State Premiers in the same way as I have raised matters with Labor Premiers.
Members of the Opposition would be much more confident about the operations of the ASIO if there were some opportunity to check on them. This suggestion is not new. It is probably familiar to honourable senators who have read the memoirs of Lord Morrison who, at a crucial time for Britain when she faced an extreme threat from a number of ideologies, was taken from the Prime Ministers Department and appointed as Home Secretary. I make no apologies for suggesting the appointment of a committee in this realm of civil liberties. We of the Opposition feel that there should bc safeguards. I know that Senator Milliner and others who ate fairly familiar with the trade union movement would appreciate that our fear is of the people who have had some traumatic experience in a union, have drifted out from the union and have a pathological hatred of unionists. They become paid informers. I am not saying how much of the information given to the ASIO is paid for or how the information is evaluated, but it is a matter to be considered.
Some honourable senators have probably read the memoirs of Lord Citrine. For a long time he was an official of the British Trades Union Congress. He and other officials of the TUC lectured at the British
Staff College. I do not know of any official of the Australian Council of Trade Unions who has lectured at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, but I doubt that it would interfere with Army regulations if one were to do so. The point 1 make is that the present Director of the Security Service is Sir Charles Spry, a former Army officer. I ask, in a restrained fashion: How many operatives in the ASIO have come from an Army background, and particularly from the upper echelon of officers? They seem to have the attitude that every trade unionist has a leaning towards subversive designs. I say that because 1 am sick and tired of some of these people on the fringe of the community indulging in these half smears.
Senator Wright is not in the chamber at the moment, but I am reminded of action that he took in a situation not so long ago when, during a State election campaign, the Nowra newspaper referred to an independent candidate who was standing for a South Coast electorate and said that it had been informed by certain sources that there was a security dossier out on him. He happened to be a member of the Teachers Federation. I raised his case here one night on the adjournment and later Senator Wright, on behalf of the Attorney-General, provided me with an answer that the suggestion made by the newspaper was a complete fabrication, that ils report had been based on a phoney document. It is to the credit of the local newspaper that the rebuttal by the Attorney-General was printed in full and an apology published. I think we find generally that the country newspapers have higher ethics than some of the metropolitan daily newspapers.
To return to my suggestion, if we had a small committee, composed of perhaps the Leader of the Opposition and senior Ministers, it would be able to probe any innuendo which has come forward with a veneer of Security approval. This is the sort of thing that could be prevented. Since the time when Mr Chifley was Prime Minister it has never been the attitude of the Labor Party that it is necessary to have a Security Service, and we feel that the method of recruitment to the organisation brings in far too many people with a particular Party political bias. This is where the crunch comes in. I make these remarks in a responsible fashion because of my experience in dealing with Slate Labor Premiers. As a member of delegations dealing with certain elements of the migrant community .1 have found that there has been a belated recognition of certain manifestations of Fascism.
An example, was the Lesic case which 1 raised in this place and on which Mr Whitlam raised a challenge in the other place. I suggested 2 years ago that the incident was associated with Ustashi terrorism, but the thinking of the Security Service was such that all it did was to call in every leading member of the Yugoslav community in New South Wales and give him a lecture. That action would be tantamount to an umpire of a football match allowing one man to punch all and sundry for 20 minutes and I hen, when things got out of hand, to caution every player on the field. I am not suggesting that the action in the Lesic case was directly attributable to Sir Charles Spry, but his organisation primed the Commonwealth Police Force which had to carry out this invidious job. lt is because of such incidents that we lose confidence in the ASIO.
– What does the honourable senator suggest should be done?
– I suggest that if we had a Senate committee composed of five men and we met. Sir Charles Spry, in the same way as the United States Senate Committee deals with Mr Hoover, we would know what was going on. I do not suggest that security should be thrown out altogether, but we would have guidelines and would find out that, people were prostituting security by name-dropping. An instance of this concerned the Yugoslav community in Sydney. What I have said was borne out by a conversation .1 had with the then Premier of New South Wales. Mr Renshaw, and wilh senior police officials. 1 repeal my assertion that the reason that I. have not had an answer since 13th August to question 349 is that in relation to certain aspects of it, no mailer what answer is given, the Government will have to admit that il has made mistakes. I do not suggest that anybody is infallible, but I. suggest that a select committee along the lines of the ones operated by the British Parliament and by the United States Senate would enable us to find out where errors had occurred.
If it can be proved that recruitment to the Security Service is open to everybody, irrespective of politics and particularly when a person has had a trade union background, 1 would accept that the reports received would bc worthy of evaluation. But 1 am not satisfied that this is the situation, and from my experience at a State level I am more than satisfied that the Government will not have the probe that I have suggested. J repeat that 1 do not suggest that security should be jettisoned, but 1 do suggest that in a democratic society we must feel sure that matters are not being swept under the carpet.
When the ASIO was in operation under the Chifley Government a civilian was in charge, but when the organisation is run by military people, some of whom are suspicious of anyone who has come from an organisation in favour of any radical reform, the situation is entirely different. A person who favours reform is not necessarily a subversive. I repeat that in the instance which was handled for mc by Senator Wright I received some redress, hut if we had a standing committee with the power to investigate action by the ASIO some of the criticism that I have ventilated tonight would not be necessary. Nor would it have been necessary for me to pui a question on the notice paper on this subject. Every criticism that I have made has been backed up’ chapter and verse in a number of naturalisation cases that have raised. Those cases have been revised. On a number of occasions I have sought the SuppOrt of Premiers and other people and decisions have been changed. 1 do not suggest that everyone who says that his phone is hugged or everybody who says that he is nol a subversive is necessarily telling the truth. 1 simply say that I would like to have cases evaluated in a fairer manner appropriate to a democratic community.
The other matter to which 1 want to refer deals with grants in aid. Provision is made for an appropriation of $20,000 for the Australian Conservation Foundation. Il is rather fitting that I should raise the matter at this time because next Sunday the Australian Conservation Foundation will have its annual meeting in Canberra under the chairmanship of Sir Garfield Barwick. We have a unique situation here. This body has had its achievement’s. Last year, through a sort of triple alliance between the Deputy
Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Lance Barnard, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) and myself, it was possible to provide some considerable assistance in Bass Strait, as Senator Wright knows, by having Chapel Island and Goose Island made permanent sanctuaries for the Cape Barren geese. This body was able to act as a sort of clearing house for the State and Commonwealth governments. As a result, through the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport, and the Tasmanian Premier, Mr Reece, we were able to get the termination of grazing leases so that those two islands could be entirely open as habitats for Cape Baren geese.
I should like to know whether the appropriation of $20,000 is to be a continuing grant or whether the Australian Conservation Foundation has some idea of ils future. From earlier conversations wilh the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) I felt that the Government had an idea that perhaps in time to come the Foundation would assume the stature of the Carnegie Foundation in the United States. There are many reasons why this would lake a long, long while. The Carnegie Foundation was able to make a grant of $5m when Federal and State aid was insufficient and the Florida Everglades were menaced by certain reclamation methods. 1 will not weary the Committee on this item, but there is legislation in the United States called the Endangered Species Act, whereby the Minister for the Interior can give grants wholesale to preserve a certain bird or animal. The Government feels that al this stage the Australian Conservation Foundation by its policy of persuasion and propaganda can fulfil a certain purpose. That, is all right. 1 should like to know from the Minister whether this appropriation of $20,000 is to be a recurring grant.
– In relation to the provision of $20,000 for the Australian Conservation Foundation, in 1964-65 the Commonwealth made a grant of $2,000 to assist with the establishment of the Foundation. Tn 1966 approval was given for the Foundation to receive a grant of $60,000 payable in instalments of $20,000 a year for 3 years. The first instalment was made in 1966-67. This was intended to assist the Foundation lo meet its costs pend ing a public appeal for $500,000. Approval was also given for contributions to the Foundation to be treated as allowable income tax deductions. The Foundation had asked for $40,000 per annum for 3 years and the tax concession. The honourable senator wants to know whether the grant will continue.
– Does it end this year?
– All I can say is that this matter is currently under consideration. 1 cannot give the honourable senator any information at this point of lime. .1 shall take the question up subsequently and follow it through for him. He referred to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and directed attention To the fact” that question No. 349 dated 13th August and standing in his name remained unanswered. As a matter of fact. Ministers in the Senate are currently doing exercises to bring pressure to bear to get answers that are outstanding. We are all working on this al the present time. T undertake to discuss the matter with Senator Wright, who represents the Attorney-General in the Senate, and see whether we can get an answer to the honourable senator’s question.
In the generality, however, whilst it is quite proper for an honourable senator to express his point of view in relation to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, there is a tradition which has applied from when Mr Chifley brought the Organisation into being until the present time that answers are not given in relation to aspects of the work of this organisation. As against that, Senator Mulvihill himself directed attention to circumstances in which an injustice was thought to be done to an individual. Representations were made to the Attorney-General and certain action took place which met the situation. I cannot add anything to what has been said already beyond saying that we will take up the matter of the unanswered question on the notice paper in relation to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
– I should like the Minister when taking that matter up to take up also with the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) unanswered question No. 40 standing in my name, of which notice was given on 13th March.
– We are dealing at the present time with the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Even if 1 am out of order, will the Minister take that question up? The matters seem to be simple and it would be helpful if an answer could be provided.
– 1 shall pick that up.
– 1 wish to deal with Division 436, which relates to the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom. It is with some trepidation that I deal with this rather symbolic institution. I note that the estimated expenditure is some $4,190,900, which is in my estimation some three times more than that of any other mission that Australia has abroad. I believe that the time has come when there should be a thorough investigation of the High Commissioner’s Office in London, its functions and its achievements. I have seen reports that indicate that the staff of this office - I do not know what it includes - is very close to 1,000.
We have to realise that the relationship between this country and the United Kingdom has changed drastically over the years. The former position of the Australian High Commission in London has changed. It no longer has the same position as it occupied many years ago. On any examination of this we should have a very close look as to whether this High Commission, alone of all our High Commissioners, should remain under the Prime Minister’s Department and not under the Department of External Affairs, where I believe it properly belongs today. There are very good reasons for believing that it should be under the Department of External Affairs. London is, or should be, to some extent still a clearing house for information as to the foreign policies of countries throughout Europe. Although we receive reports from other high commissions and embassies, the power and influence of the British Foreign Office is still great and a great deal of value can be derived if our High Commission in the United Kingdom is staffed properly. But I regret to say that that is not the position today.
This must bc said, although I regret having to say it: Recently I was a member of an Australian parliamentary delegation that included the United Kingdom in its itinerary. That delegation of this Parliament was ignored completely and utterly by the incumbent of this office, who seems to have enveloped himself in some aura of papal sanctity. One suspects that he feels that this aura would be destroyed if he had to mix with the parliamentarians of Australia. I cannot pay too high a tribute to the heads of missions in the European countries that we visited. Their co-operation and courtesy were outstanding. Their arrangements to enable the delegation to obtain all the information it could possibly obtain, to meet the leaders of the various countries concerned and to meet the people who are most intimately concerned with trade, foreign affairs and the European Common Market could not be faulted. But imagine our surprise when we saw that on our itinerary for London arrangements had been made for us to see somebody at the Commonwealth Relations Office on one day and to attend a reception given by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association that evening, but the best the High Commissioner could suggest for the next day was that we all go to the Royal’ Show.
Here is an area of great importance io Australian trade. If the United Kingdom enters the Common Market, as it may well do in the future, that will have a substantial effect on our trade. We knew that within the High Commissioner’s Office there was an expert on the Common Market - an officer who had been in Brussels for many years and who had worked in close cooperation with the European Economic Community. The leader of out delegation, Mr Gordon Freeth, had to ask thai we meet this officer. He also had to ask whether arrangements could be made for the delegation to meet other people of importance. One or two other arrangements were made. In fact we met this officer. But the High Commissioner did nol have the courtesy even to contact us. We wandered around London meeting people by ourselves and having to find our own way into some buildings by asking attendants and other people where we could find the Ministers or officers we had to sec. I understand that a Minister wishes to make a statement; so I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; progress reported.
– by leave - A number of honourable senators have raised aspects related to development proposals for the Capital Hill-Camp Hill area of Canberra and my colleague, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), has provided the following information: In the main, points raised relate to the recently tabled report of the National Capital Development Commission in which references were made to the proposal for the construction of a ring road on Capital Hill and for the siting of an office building for the Department of External Affairs in the Camp Hill area. I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that the report referred to relates to the financial year concluded on 30th June last, which was. of course, before Parliament began to debate the question of the siting of a permanent parliament house.
Wilh regard to the ring road, this was part of the original Griffin plan for Canberra and the approval of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to its restoration to the Canberra city plan was approved by that Committee on 26th October 1967. It was one of a series of variations to the statutory plan subsequently tabled in Parliament and became effective on 31st May 1968. The road has been designed to solve problems of a major traffic situation. It is maintained that the construction of this road would not prejudice development of any building on Capital Hill. While authority had previously been granted for construction of this road, the National Capital Development Commission stopped work on this project when the debate on the siting of Parliament House was in progress and its continuation will be the subject of further decision by the Government.
With relation to the Department of External Affairs building, the National Capital Development Commission had prepared a master plan for the future development ot Camp Hill as a complex of major office buildings in the light of earlier decisions authorising its planning to proceed on the basis that parliament House would be sited on the lakeside. The first building of this complex was proposed to be the Department of External Affairs building. This master plan is currently under review and work has been stopped on the planning of the building which had previously been authorised as part of an urgently required office accommodation programme. The siting of the building will be subject to later Government approval.
Reference has also been made to a seminar recently conducted in Canberra by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and to letters circulated to senators and members by the Institute. I am sure honourable senators will agree with me that the Institute, as a responsible body, had every right to arrange this meeting and to express views on an important matter of national interest. I would also like to add that in relation to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects seminar I have the clear assurance of the Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission that the Commission was in no way associated with the holding of the seminar; nor did it take any part in it. I unhesitatingly accept the assurance I have received and make this comment to the Senate in view of an inference which has been drawn quite without foundation, namely, that the National Capital Development Commission was associated with this seminar.
Senate adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681010_senate_26_s38/>.