26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 ask the
Minister for Housing whether her attention has been drawn to a Press statement, attributed to the Governor-General, in which it was disclosed that over 70% of all householders in Australia own their homes. Will the Minister inform the Senate of the number of householders who have not yet paid off their homes and of the proportion of Australian householders which that number represents?
– I did see the statement in the Press concerning the very high home ownership figures for Australia. It was an accurate comment because 70.8% of Australians own their homes. This is one of the highest figures for home ownership in the world. This Government has a very proud record not only in relation to the housing figures but also for the way in which it assists young people to acquire their own homes through money provided under the Homes Savings Grants Act.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister and relates to the urgent need for relief for drought stricken farmers on the east coast of Tasmania. First, is it correct that the Tasmanian Government, in making a request for assistance from the Commonwealth Government, limited that request to assistance to dairy farmers only and omitted entirely those concerned in the wide variety of other types of farming? Secondly, is it correct that the Tasmanian Government already has, or should have, a sum of $289,000, provided by the Commonwealth held in trust in a separate account to be applied for the benefit of farmers in Tasmania? Has the Government had this money for many years? If so, is there any reason why it should not be applied to provide immediate relief for all drought stricken farmers in Tasmania?
– I anl not aware of the sums of money that the Tasmanian Government may hold in the way of drought funds for relief. The honourable senator suggested that the funds he mentioned might well be directed to the drought situation prevailing at present in certain areas as Tasmania. I am not aware that the Tasmanian Government, in making its request to the Commonwealth Government for aid, limited the request to aid for dairy farmers. I will , seek information from the Prime Minister with a view to being able to answer the honourable senator’s question very shortly.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. By way of preface I want to say that my attention has been drawn to an unfortunate situation, which, as a result of the recent restriction of mail deliveries to once each day, affects social service recipients who receive their fortnightly payments by cheque. Pensioners were accustomed to receiving their cheques on a Wednesday - many in the second delivery. Although the cheques may not have been negotiable on that day, they were available to be cashed on the Thursday morning, which is the day on which the reduced price specials of stores are very much availed of by pensioners. Many pensioners do not now receive their cheques until late on Thursday morning, which is too late for them to follow their former shopping habits. Will the Minister consider having social service payment cheques dispatched so (hat the recipients will receive them on a Wednesday and not on a Thursday?
– I note the honourable senator’s comments and the concern that this matter is causing him. I do not know whether it is possible to meet the honourable senator’s request, but I shall certainly bring it to the attention of the Minister for Social Services to determine if there is any solution to the problem.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he inform the Senate when the Government is likely to make an announcement concerning the amount to be paid as a first advance on the 1968-69 wheat crop?
– The honourable senator is no doubt well aware that the Government’s usual practice is to arrive at such a decision as early as possible. It is usually not possible to determine the amount to be paid until a fairly accurate estimate of the harvest under consideration is available. It was expected a month ago that New South Wales would have a record harvest. Although there could still be a record harvest, the yield estimates of a month ago have been considerably reduced. 1 am not sure of the position in the other States. 1 expect, the Government to be in a position to make an announcement regarding the first payment within the next 2 or 3 weeks.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister seen a report headed ‘Trade Terms Restrict Trade to Finland’, which appears in the ‘Financial Review’ of today’s date, stating that a trade delegation from Finland had said Australia could double its exports of fruit, particularly apples and pears, to Finland if more convenient methods of credit could be arranged? Will the Minister raise this matter with the Minister for Trade and Industry with the view to arranging cash-against-documents payment instead of the present irrevocable letter of credit method, as this change could increase Finland’s imports from 80,000 bushels to 200,000 bushels of fruit per year?
– Order! The honourable senator is giving too much information.
– Will the Minister also request the Australian trade commissioners in Scandinavian countries to get out and sell Australian goods rather than have their inefficiency shown up by delegations coming here and telling the world that our trade posts are falling down on their jobs?
– I have not had the opportunity of seeing the article in today’s ‘Financial Review’. I will certainly refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Trade and Industry, but I wish to make one comment. It seems to me that the last part of the honourable senators question was a denial of the first part. As I understood the question, at the outset he was making the point that the non-sale of Australian apples and pears was due to the financial procedures being followed and not to any lack of ability on the part of our trade commissioners. However I will certainly take this matter up with the Minister for Trade and Industry. ! hope to get a prompt” reply.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. He may recall that on 9th October last I asked a question about the architects’ meeting held in Canberra concerning the site of the new and permanent parliament house. 1 ask: Is the Minister in a position to supply an answer to my question?
– I promised Senator Withers that I would seek certain information from my colleague the Minister for the Interior concerning the recent meeting of architects in Canberra. The Minister has supplied the following. information:
I am unable to provide the details requested by Senator Withers as there was no official connection with the seminar conducted by the Royal Australian Institution of Architects. The National Capital Development Commission was not associated with the seminar nor was it represented. I can say, however, that there is a vital interest among architects to participate- in Canberra projects and more than ISO firms and. individual architects have registered with the National Capital Development Commission as being available to undertake engagements. Generally about 10 to 12 engagements of varying magnitude are available in any one year. In- an endeavour to give the honourable senator more detailed information I shall write to the President of the Institute asking if he. is prepared to supply the names of the architects attending the conference.
– I. draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of members of the British delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association led by the Right Honourable Lord Brooke of Cumnor. On behalf of honourable senators I extend to them a welcome.
Honourable senators ; Hear, hear!
– Is the Minister for Housing aware that because of the increases that have taken place in the cost of housing over recent years ex-servicemen are anxiously awaiting an announcement from the Minister as to when the maximum amount, of loan available to them under the war service homes scheme will be increased from the present limit of $7,500 to $8,000? Can the Minister advise the Senate of the stage of preparation of the relevant legislation and whether or not it is intended to present an amending Bill during this session of the Parliament?
– I hope that the Bill will bc before Parliament shortly. When it has been passed by both Houses and has received the royal assent in the usual way the increased amount will be available.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the fact that the world sugar conference has been continuing for some weeks now and in view of the importance of the sugar industry to Australia, can the Minister enlighten the Senate on the progress that has been made and on the likelihood of an agreement being reached?
– I am not in a position to give the honourable senator any information on this matter. If the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry makes a statement on it I will read the statement in this place, as soon as 1 can.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to the intense world-wide interest in the possibility that President Johnson may order a total cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam, which apparently is the main stumbling block to peace negotiations. Will the Minister tell the Senate what the Australian Government’s attitude is to this critical question and what point of view is being represented by Australia to the President of the United States of America? Does the
Government still adhere to its expressed belief that it is important that the bombing should not be discontinued?
– It would be a new and very grave departure from the conduct of matters of great national consequence in external affairs if at question time one were required to answer a question such as that asked of me by the honourable senator.
– For the simple reason that at present the world at large naturally is very concerned about the negotiations that may or may not be taking place. I suggest, with great respect, that the best and proper thing to do in the circumstances is to watch what is happening and to await information. It should be understood that when the Government has information to give to the Senate, to the Parliament and to the people of Australia that information will be given.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. With prospects of a record harvest, available grain storages are expected to fall short of requirements at harvest lime. It appears that many farmers will have to hold grain on their properties pending availability of silo space. As the first advance to growers has hitherto been made by the Australian Wheat Board and/or barley boards, only after delivery to licensed receivers, will the Minister seek that consideration be given to implementing an arrangement with the boards whereby farmers temporarily holding grain on their farms may be entitled to first advance payments on a pro forma basis of wheat and/or bailey so held?
– I have made some inquiries of the Minister for Primary Industry who has supplied me with the following information: lt is possible that in some areas the bulk handling authorities will not be :ible to receive immediately after harvest all the wheat that is available. In that case some wheat will have to be held on farms.
Wheat delivered to the Australian Wheat Board becomes the absolute properly of the Board. For this reason the Board is able to borrow money from the Reserve Bank against the security of such wheat and to pay a first advance to the growers who delivered it. The Board cannot be responsible for the storage, protection, proper handling and disposition of wheat held on farms, lt would not be practicable to advance money on such wheat.
There are three barley boards. They operate under State legislation. The conditions under which they pay advances to growers are matters for the Stales concerned.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence been drawn to a news item which reports the plans of a group of Sydney businessmen who hope to trade with North Vietnam and to have a trade commissioner appointed in Hanoi? Was the AttorneyGeneral correctly reported by Mr P. Sayers, spokesman for the group, when Mr Bowen was alleged to have said: :As Australia is not technically at war with North Vietnam it would be all right to trade with Hanoi’? Does the Government intend to allow such trade to take place, and to permit the appointment of a trade commissioner in Hanoi?
– I am not aware of any of the circumstances of the Press report and therefore would ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice. I shall get a reply from the Attorney-General and also from the Minister for Defence.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and transport aware of dissatisfaction regarding shipments of timber from Tasmania to the other States? Is he aware that timber is placed in the least important category of freight and is sometimes left behind? Will the Minister see that this matter is taken up with the Australian National Line? I make this request because it is claimed that, due to irregularity of shipments, local markets are being lost, especially to New Zealand imports.
– I am aware of the importance of the export of timber from Tasmania to the mainland. I am also aware that the Australian National Line is looking for cargo between Tasmania and the mainland. 1 have never been made aware that any timber produced in Tasmania has been awaiting transportation to the mainland for any considerable length of time and I shall be amazed to hear that this has happened. I shall take the matter up with the Minister for Shipping and Transport and endeavour to get from him an answer to the honourable senator’s question.
EARTHQUAKE lft WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– I address a question lo the Minister representing the Treasurer, ls the Treasurer aware that a considerable amount of money has been donated for the relief of the distress of the victims of the recent earthquake hi Western Australia? Will the Government give favourable consideration to making such donations allowable deductions for income tax purposes?
– I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer. As 1 indicated last week, the Commonwealth Government, in collaboration with the Western Australian Government made an initial donation of $50,000 to the Lord Mayor’s Fund. The honourable senator’s question related to people who, in the goodness of their hearts, make donations for this purpose. I shall refer the question to the Treasurer and I hope to have a’ reply from him promptly.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that at the International Building Societies Congress at present being held in Sydney, at which 1,000 people from about 40 different countries are conducting a discussion, a suggestion has been made that there should be a pool of money, provided perhaps by the more prosperous countries, from which funds could be lent to people in underdeveloped countries to enable them to improve their standard of housing? As this conference is being held in Australia, will the Minister take up with the Treasurer the suggestion that Australia might initiate this pool by making a generous contribution while the delegates are still in this country?
– The honourable senator has asked a very interesting question. As I understand it the conference, which has elected Mr Titherleigh, the Australian delegate, as the future world president of the organisation, has come us with a suggestion that within the framework of the worldwide organisation countries should be able to contribute to a pool which in turn would lend money under certain favourable conditions to less developed countries. I am not clear whether it is intended that there should be a government subvention or whether this is purely within the framework of the building society movement in various parts of the world. I rather thought that, despite all the goodwill in the world that governments might have, it was intended that the funds should be provided by the various building society movements. I will refer the question to the Treasurer and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I refer him to section 43 of the Marriage Act 1961-66, which provides:
A marriage may be solemnised on any day, at any time and at any place.
Is it possible in all States of the Commonwealth for couples to be married at a civil ceremony outside normal Public Service hours, say on a Saturday afternoon?
– I have no doubt that the marriage of such a couple would be a very happy consummation of their love. I will inquire whether the official hours extend to Saturday afternoon in the State in which the honourable senator is interested and advise him at the earliest opportunity.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen a report in today’s Australian Financial Review’ to the effect that by 1970 there is every likelihood of over-tonnaging in the trade between Australia and the United Kingdom and the Continent? In other words, with the introduction of containerisation could the problem of over-tonnaging on this trade route arise?
– I have seen an article in today’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ relating to this subject in which it is stated that 3 companies are building 3 cellular vessels and that when these vessels are built a total of 14 container ships will be operating to Australian ports from overseas countries. Some shipping companies, or people in Sydney connected with shipping, believe that with the building of these vessels there will be an over-tonnaging of container ships operating between Australian and overseas ports. I believe that this is a subject that each company operating vessels between Australian and overseas ports will have to consider when ordering a vessel to be built. Containerisation will be a completely new phase in Australian shipping. I saw reports in today’s Press and I have seen articles previously which suggested that, as a result of containerisation in the 1970s, shipping freights between America and England will be reduced by about 50% and shipping freights between Australia and Europe will be reduced by about 40%.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that in many other countries there is a good deal of intergovernmental participation in the development of natural resources? Has the Australian Government requested the United Kingdom Government to participate with Australia in a governmenttogovernment partnership in the development of Australian resources which require great capital and knowhow, thus avoiding the spectacle of those resources falling under the control of foreign corporations? Alternatively, has there ever been any request from the United Kingdom Government to the Australian Government to that effect? In either case, what has been the reaction. If there has been no request, why has there been none?
– I am not aware of any special arrangement entered into on a government-to-government level between the United Kingdom and Australia which had as its genesis participation in the development of natural resources. However, some such arrangement may have been made. T shall seek information on that matter and let the honourable senator know. I would not like it to be thought from this question that I concurred in the Leader of the Opposition’s proposition that the tremendous development of natural resources in Australia as a result of the participation of private enterprise finance is in any way other than good for our development. When the history of this time is written it will be a story of the tremendous progress and development that Australia has enjoyed., not only because of our resources and our efforts but also because we have been able, because of the quality of our Government and its management of Australia, to attract to Australia this type of risk capital.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, ls he aware of the important work being done by the Department of Oceanography at the Flinders University in South Australia in relation to salinity, temperature and wave action of the Southern Ocean off the South Australian coast? Is he aware also that this work has a great effect on weather prediction in Australia? Will he cause the great value of this work to be assessed with a view to making a further subvention of Commonwealth funds to Flinders University for an enlarged programme in the region of the Southern Ocean?
– Oceanography is being studied more and more throughout the world today. I have not heard much about the work being done by the Flinders University, but I have heard of a vessel built in Japan being capable of going to a depth of 900 feet in order to examine the ocean floor in a search for minerals and also for other purposes. J understand that this vessel carries devices to enable it to take samples of the ocean floor with a view to finding out exactly what minerals are there. I am aware also that the Southern Ocean plays an important part in determining the weather in Australia. With this in view, and in view of the honourable senators question, I will take the matter up wilh the Minister for the Interior and obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been drawn to the results of a gallup poll which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 17th October? The results indicate that almost two-thirds of the people interviewed are in favour of Australia’s converting to the metric system of weights and measures as recommended by the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures which reported on this subject to the Senate earlier this year. In view of this public acceptance, will the Minister advise the Senate when the Government will be in a position to make a statement about its acceptance or rejection of the recommendations contained in the report of the Select Committee?
– I saw the report of the results of the gallup poll. 1 was impressed by the comments and conclusions drawn from that poll. I am grateful for the opportunity to express my view as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I offer congratulations to the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures which has produced a report on a subject that may well’ become part of our history. Because of the financial implications inherent in the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee, the Treasurer has the first responsibility in relation to a governmental consideration of the matter. It. is true that initially his consideration will be conducted in collaboration with the Minister for Education and Science.The matter will then be open, for consideration by the Government. I .hope that the Government’s decision will be available at a. reasonably early date. .
– ls the Minister representing the Treasurer able to inform me of the full particulars of the loans recently floated in the United. States of America by the Australian Government? If not. will he undertake to obtain and provide me with the information, including such details as the periods of the loans, rates, brokerage charges and so on?
– I will get the information for the honourable senator. The bills relating to the subject on which the honourable senator is seeking information will be considered by the Senate. Some of those bills may already be listed on the notice paper, or if not, are about to be placed on the notice paper. 1 will obtain a comprehensive reply for the honourable senator in regard to all the aspects to which he has referred.
– In directing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories I remind him that the sittings of the Senate prevent our attendance at the opening today of the Royal Hobart Show. Can the Minister say whether the Department of External Territories has again co-operated with the Royal Hobart Show Society by providing a display indicating aspects of current development in Papua and New Guinea?
– I am happy to say that the display which was placed on show in King’s Hall is by arrangement now on display at the Royal Hobart Show. A pictorial display is given of the inaugural sessions of the House of Assembly in New Guinea and of various aspects of the historical development of the Territory over the past 30 or 40 years. The display is designed to give the public an idea of what is going on in that island to the north of Australia.
– 1 ask the Minister for Works: Are the original plans for the construction of the Commonwealth office block in Lismore being adhered to, or have they been revised to increase the number of floors to embrace additional Commonwealth departments?
– The original plans are being adhered to. I remind the honourable senator that the original plans provided for a two-storey structure to be built with a frame so constructed as to permit an additional storey to be added, in the event of that future requirement.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been drawn to Press reports of a serious outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Assam, India? Will she ask the Minister for Health and the quarantine authorities to keep a close watch on the situation and to pay special attention to travellers and imports entering Australia from that area?
– I saw in the Press the statement to which the honourable senator has referred and which I know woul’d cause concern to those interested. I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Health, that foot and mouth disease is endemic in India and is widespread throughout that country. Through the International Veterinary Bureau in Paris, India reports officially more than 2,000 outbreaks each year. Senator Lawrie has asked whether special attention will be given to travellers coming to Australia in order to ensure that the disease is not carried. I assure him that special attention is paid to the luggage of incoming passengers from Asian countries, including India, for any items that may carry the virus of foot and mouth disease and that the same rules regarding the disinfection of footwear and working clothes apply to travellers from India as to travellers from other foot and mouth disease countries. I am also informed that the risk of infection from footwear is not great.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been drawn to a statement on Antarctica which was made last week by the former Director of the Antarctic Division, Dr Phillip Law, who accused the Government of allowing the Antarctic experimental complex to run down? He is also reported to have said that the three Australian stations were operating without a director and that the Antarctic Division’s members were beginning to feel that they were a forgotten tribe. I ask the Minister: Is it the Government’s intention to cut back Australia’s activities in the Antarctic? If not, why has it delayed the appointment of a Director of the Antarctic Division?
– There is on the business paper of the Senate a motion dealing with a paper on Antarctica. At some stage during this evening, under General Business, it may well be the subject of a discussion in which, perhaps, I could enlarge on some of the aspects of Australia’s role in Antarctica. However, it needs to be remembered that my Department took over the administration of Antarctica in March or April of this year. A certain amount of rearrangement and reorganisation is going on. It is not true to say that there has been a diminution of our activity in Antarctica. The appointment of a new director is being considered at the same time as the making of a study of our present and future role in the area. We have already dealt with the estimates for the Department of Supply for this financial year, and they do not reflect any diminution of our activity in Antarctica.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, ls it a fact that Australia is well on the way to having brought in and welcomed more than two million British subjects as migrants to Australia? Fs it also a fact that no British subject who wishes to come and work in Australia needs to have a work permit? If those are facts, will the Minister take up with the British Government the possibility of it altering its restrictions on Australian subjects entering England, in view of the fact that other Commonwealth countries do place restrictions on the entry of British subjects, and allowing the subjects of Australia or any other Commonwealth country to enter on a reciprocal basis?
– r will be glad to bring that matter before my colleague, the Minister for Immigration.
– In view of the recent Government announcement on oil. coul’d the Minister representing the Minister for National Development advise me what incentives are now being provided for oil search and how the new policy on oil is affecting petrol prices in Australia?
– The Government’s policies over the past 15 years have been designed to encourage oil exploration in Australia and have had such a wonderful success that by 1970 we shall be in a position to produce 70% of our requirements of petrol, diesel fuel and kerosene.
– At what price?
– We will talk about price in a moment. An oil drilling subsidy amounting to approximately 30% of the cost of drilling stratigraphic holes and of seismological work, is to be carried on until a decision is made as to whether it is to bechanged; at the moment it is operative. In addition, any company searching for oil in Australia until 17th September 1970 wilt receive the incentive payment promised in 1965 by the Government of SUS3.50 a barrel for crude oil’ produced in Australia.
– There is no price fixing in Australia.
– This is in relation to the search for oil, not the fixing of price. Now we come to the question of price and how it affects the Australian consumer. Recently the Government made an arrangement with Esso-BHP by which the company and the Government agreed that instead of getting SUS3.50, which is equal to $3.14, as an incentive for oil produced between now and 17th September 1970, the company would take $2.42 until that dale, on the understanding that all of the crude oil produced in Australia for a period of approximately 10 years would be used in Australia. This simply means that oil produced in Australia, whether it be by EssoBHP, or at Barrow Island, Moonie or anywhere else, wilt be guaranteed a market in Australia until we meet our full requirements.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence read the practical suggestion made by the London ‘Times’ correspondent, Mr Stewart Harris, that the Australian Government should take over the upkeep and maintenance of the . British aircraft carrier Hermes’? Has the Government given any regard to this excellent idea, which would help the British Government financially and make a practical contribution to our own defence?
– I would think and hope that any matters of defence arising between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government would be dealt with at that level and would not emerge from a view expressed by a newspaper correspondent. Nevertheless. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Defence for consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Works. As a safety fence and other ancillary facilities were erected at the Adelaide airport some weeks ago. can the Minister say when the extensions to the temporary terminal building at that airport will begin because the need for improved passenger facilities is urgent?
– I understand that the construction of that work is to begin almost immediately.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it not a fact that the distribution in Australia of the short American experimental film ‘Relativity’, which was made with the assistance of the Ford Foundation by the American film maker Ed Emshwiller has been banned by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board under section 13a of the Customs (Cinematographic Films) Act because the film is blasphemous and/ or indecent and/ or obscene? As representations have been made by Australian film society representatives for this film to be release! for distribution, as it has won many overseas awards, and as it is not the sort of film which would be likely to have very wide distribution, will the Minister ask the Board to make a further examination as to its suitability for distribution? In any event, will he ask the Board to inform the Senate, through the Minister, of the particular way in which this film, which has been highly praised overseas, is blasphemous and/or indecent and/ or obscene?
– The honourable senator seems continually to be asking questions about dirty films being shown in Australia.
– Has the Minister seen the film?
– I have not seen the film but I can assure the honourable senator that it is classified as such.
– Classified as what?
– It is classified as obscene. I would like to say that the film has other classifications which do not become the people who want to bring it into Australia. I stand wholeheartedly behind the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board in banning the film from being shown in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Government or the Minister made any decision on the protests from the many municipalities in close proximity to Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport against the tremendous inconvenience to schools, hospitals and churches - in fact, to every activity in the area - caused by the noise of certain aircraft operating at this airport? Will the Government set up a parliamentary select committee to investigate thoroughly the noise problem and the suggestions referred to it in the protests from the councils?
– I have heard of a lot of objections from people living adjacent to Mascot airport in Sydney about the noise problem at the airport, particularly in relation to jet aircraft approaching and taking off. 1 have also read many reports from Sydney people advocating other areas for the establishment of a second airport. I have read reports that people living about 50 or 60 miles north of Sydney at Wyong are advocating that a second airport to serve the overseas airlines operating to and from Sydney be established in the Wyong area. So far as the noise nuisance is concerned, we have to understand that the Department of Civil Aviation and aviation companies throughout the world which are manufacturing aircraft are conscious of the fact that the noise is disturbing people in Australia. Because of the noise nuisance the Department of Civil Aviation has prohibited aircraft from taking off after 1 1 p.m. and from landing before, I think, 5 a.m.
– Does this apply in Perth?
– This applies to the airports at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart but not at Perth. The reason that it does not apply at Perth is that Perth, being in a progressive State, has better landing strip facilities. If the honourable senator places his question on notice 1 will be pleased to obtain a detailed answer for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. It relates to a question that I asked on 15th October concerning the nose wheel mechanism that failed to operate on a Viscount aircraft. As the same aircraft apparently has had to make another emergency landing for almost similar reasons, will the Minister take steps to ensure that the urgent examination to which I referred is carried out without delay and that assurances are given by the Minister for Civil Aviation regarding the safety of this type of aircraft?
– I recall the question that the honourable senator asked on 15th October. At about that time a Viscount aircraft made a forced landing because its front wheel could not be brought down. On that occasion the pilot decided as a safety measure to use up most of the fuel as Viscount aircraft have no means of discarding fuel, lt appears that the aircraft flew around for about 3 hours using up its fuel before landing. The landing was made safely. No doubt, a Thorough inspection was made of the aircraft following the landing by not only the company concerned, TransAustralia Airlines, but also the Department of Civil Aviation. If the problems that have arisen following that incident require further inspections to be carried out, I have no doubt that the Minister will insist that this inspection is carried out. With that in view, I will approach the Minister to ensure that the matter is looked at.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. It relates to a reply that the Minister gave to me on 10th October concerning Chowilla Dam. The Minister referred me to a document entitled ‘Statement on Proposals for Further Storage on the River Murray’ and said that the answer to my question was contained in that document. I point out to him that the document contains a map which is 8 years old. This document is entirely misleading in that it does not show the current dependency on River Murray waters in South Australia. Will the Minister ask the Minister for National Development to prepare a new map that shows the current dependency of all parts of South Australia on River Murray waters and have it issued as an appendage to or revision of the statement to which the Minister referred?
– A lot of questions have been asked about the Chowilla Dam, the River Murray, the River Murray Commission and other aspects of water conservation. When I referred the honourable senator to that statement I was not aware that it contained a map of that age. Therefore, I will ask the Minister whether it is possible to have another map published for the honourable senator’s consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the gas known as CS results in a mortality rate of 10% amongst adults and up to 90% amongst children? Is that gas issued to Australian soldiers serving in Vietnam as a weapon of war? Is it used as such by the Australian forces?
– To my knowledge the gas referred to by the honourable senator is not being used as a weapon of war. But to be absolutely sure, I ask the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper and I will obtain an answer from the Minister for the Army.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I ask: Does the Minister not agree that is it a disgrace to have a large body of water in the centre of the national capital of the Commonwealth polluted by obnoxious effluent? Is there any other lake in Australia that is so polluted that people are forbidden to swim in it? Will the Minister for Health refer the matter of the pollution of Lake Burley Griffin by effluent from Harman Naval Station and Queanbeyan to the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution for urgent investigation and report?
– I shall bring the honourable senators question, including his request that the matter be referred to the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health. .
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. 1 refer to reports concerning the secession of Bougainville from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Are the moves in any way connected with the exploitation of the copper resources of the island? Is native discontent a result of the Administration’s failure to protect native local interests affected by this development? Is a situation arising in the Territory similar to that which developed in the Congo and Nigeria where international monopoly interests used native dissatisfaction to further their own ends?
– Order! 1 think the honourable senator should say where he obtained the report.
– lt was a newspaper article, but I do not have it with me. One of the newspapers published an editorial and a full report on the matter.
– .1 have seen a report relating to the exciting developments in copper undertakings in Bougainville. I have no knowledge of any native discontent arising therefrom. The benefits to the Territory, if the project proceeds, include taxation of up to 50% of the net profit from the project after the initial 3-year lax holiday; employment of at least 1,000 indigenes, many of whom would receive technical training; the creation of a local market for agricultural products; improved social facilities such as education, medicine, housing, electricity and water reticulation; and an expansion in export income by S60m to $100m, with accompanying benefits, thus assisting the overseas balance of payments situation. Those are benefits which honourable senators, including the questioner, should reflect upon before suggesting that the real result of the exciting development would be discontent analagous to the Congo situation.
– 1 direct a further question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. It refers to my earlier question concerning the banning of the film ‘Relativity’ and the analytical answer given by the Minister in which he said that I was constantly seeking the admission of dirty films into the country. Indeed 1 understood him to say, and if I am wrong he can correct me, that those people who wanted to bring this film into the country were themselves dirty and obscene. In view of the fact that the representations which I am making on behalf of this film are being made at the instance of the President of the Sydney Film Festival, does the Minister continue with his assertion that the sponsors of the Sydney Film Festival are dirty and obscene? If not. will he tender an apology to the sponsors of the Sydney Film Festival for making that statement?
– The honourable senator is trying to put words into my mouth. I did not say that at all. I said that the honourable senator was endeavouring to bring dirty films into the country. I withdraw and apologise to the honourable senator for saying that. I do not think I should say such things as a Minister. say that the honourable senator has taken a considerable interest in bringing into’ this country films that have been banned by the Films Censorship Board. He has raised this matter on one or two occasions,- and he has every right to do that. But, in the other part of his question the honourable senator said that I was implying that the sponsors of the Sydney Film Festival were dirty also. I did not mention them at all. I did not mention the Sydney Film ‘ Festival.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. It relates to the Chowilla Dam prospects. Are any waters being diverted into the Hume Reservoir which are normally not so diverted? If so, what is the reason for such diversion?
– One of the proposals put forward by the River Murray Commission is that an analysis should be made of a site at Dartmouth on the upper reaches of the Mitta Mitta River with a view to ascertaining whether it would be a better site than
Chowilla from the point of view of South Australia. As I understand the position, water from the Dartmouth Dam will flow down the Mitta Mitta River to the Hume Reservoir, and will be held there for a period. If the Hume Reservoir overflows, the overflow waters will go down to the River Murray. The honourable senator has asked how much water will flow over the Hume Reservoir, or, rather, whether the water runs into the Hume Reservoir.
Senato Laucke - No. I asked whether water which normally does not flow into the Hume Reservoir is being diverted into the Hume Reservoir at the present time.
– I answered a question on this subject some time ago.
– Not this one.
– It related to the waters running from the Mitta Mitta River into the Hume Reservoir. I would say that this dam would not divert any waters to any other place than into the Hume Reservoir and then over the dam, so far as I know. But I think it would be far better if the honourable senator put his question on notice so that I may obtain a detailed answer from the Minister. Tt is a very technical matter.
(Question No. 376) Senator COHEN (through Senator Poke) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: 1. (a) I am advised (hat in no Australian State are special premiums for compulsory Motor Vehicle (Third Party) insurance imposed on owners or drivers under 25 years of age. (b) I understand that there is no legislation of the States governing the premiums payable for comprehensive insurance cover on motor vehicles. Information is not available on the policy of all insurance companies in relation to special premiums on comprehensive insurance cover. I understand that member companies of the Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters do not impose special premiums on motor vehicles comprehensive policies where the driver is under 25 years of age, but that such policies are endorsed to provide that when the motor vehicle is being driven by any person who is under 25 years of age the Insured or any other party indemnified thereby shall, in respect of each accident or theft, bear the first fifty dollars of the total amount otherwise payable in respect of each accident or theft. This amount is in addition to any other excess which might apply. The excess provisions referred to above apply, I understand, to both male and female drivers under 25 years of agc.
(Question No. 383) Senator McMANUS (through Senator Little) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers:
The Latrobe Valley is served by the Morwell Office of the Commonwealth Employment Service. The Morwell employment district covers the town of Yallourn, the boroughs of Traralgon and Moe and the shires of Alberton, Mirboo, Morwell, Narracan and Traralgon.
The number of persons registered for employment with the Morwell Office at the end of September 1968 was 418 (males 171 and females 247). At end-September 1967 the number registered was 506 (males 109 and females 397); a year earlier it was 357 (males 170 and females 187). The total of 418 registered at end-September 1968 represented 1.3% of the estimated work force of the District. This percentage compares favourably with that of most country employment districts in Victoria.
In the next 12 to 18 months it is likely that employment opportunities in the area will be affected by certain technological and industrial changes. The most important of these are the progressive installation of more modern electricity generating equipment by the S.E.C. at Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations and the projected closure of the Gas and Fuel Corporation’s Lurgi Gas Plant at Morwell. The latter is scheduled to close around the end of 1969 and seems likely to displace about 300 persons. A proportion of ‘ these will be transferred to other work by the Gas and Fuel Corporation, small numbers may be absorbed by the State Elecricity Commission, and some will be retired before reaching the normal retiring age. The remainder will be retrenched under conditions prescribed by a redundancy agreement reached between the Gas and Fuel Corporation and the Victorian Trades Hall Council. As far as the S.E.C. is concerned it has indicated that no employees will be retrenched following the installation of new equipment and that where necessary those affected will be offered other jobs within the organisation.
Although no large-scale additions to employment in the Latrobe Valley are known to be in prospect. the possibility of establishing a number of new industries is under investigation by certain business groups in conjunction with the Victorian Government Division of State Development. In addition employment opportunities seem likely to expand substantially in the adjacent districts around Sale and Westernport, based respectively on developments in natural gas and heavy industry.
The Commonwealth Employment Service is closely watching developments in the area and its facilities will be available to all persons requiring employment advice and assistance.
(Question No. 428)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Is it a fact that the National Capital Development Commission is proceeding to build a ring road on Capital Hill, which could affect the possible choice of site for the new Parliament House?
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The ring road was part of the original Griffin plan for Canberra and the approval of the Joint Parliamentary Committee for the A.C.T. to its restoration to the Canberra City plan was given on 26 October 1967. It was one of a series of variations to the Statutory Plan subsequently tabled in Parliament, and which became effective on 31 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.
(Question No. 3461
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers:
Each of the thirteen professional persons employed full-time by the Legal Service Bureaux during the year 1967-68 has been admitted to practise as a solicitor. 2. (i) Legal Service Bureau, DaltonHouse.115 Pitt Street, Sydney - Five officers, full time.
Brisbane, first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each month.
Note: The above was the address during 1967-68. The address is now: 21-23 East Street, Rockhampton.
InHobart, Townsville. Darwin and Canberra, one or more professionally qualified officers of the Crown Solicitor’s Office give legal advice on a part-time basis.
The larger number of inquiries dealt with in Sydney is due to the fact that the Sydney Bureau has two special sections staffed by non-professional officers to handle war pension appeals, and landlord and tenant and fair rents matters, totalling 22,807.
(Question No. 472)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
In each of the States and the Australian Capital Territory what is now the average delay before hearing of (a) undefended and (b) defended suits for divorce?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
The following information has been obtained from the Registrars of the Supreme Courts:
(Question No. 473) Senator MURPHY asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What action is being taken to reduce the cost of matrimonial causes by simplifying procedures, eliminating excessive paperwork and otherwise?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
The procedures prescribed by the Matrimonial Causes Rules are simple, having regard to the nature of the proceedings. Suggestions for improvement of the Rules, particularly improvements that may result in a reduction of costs, are always carefully considered, and many suggestions have been adopted in amending Rules.
(Question No. 489) Senator WILLESEE asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
During Army manoeuvres in Australia how many times have noms de plume been given to the competing sides, such as ‘University Students’ as used in the Forestdale, Western Australia, manoeuvre?
As this could give offence, and have undertones, would the Minister arrange to substitute colours, letters or numbers in future?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 503) Senator KEEFFE asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 513)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What are the cost disabilities suffered by Australian book manufacturers, in comparison with their Asian competitors?
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
The Government has no precise information which permits it to measure the magnitude of the cost disabilities being suffered by Australian book manufacturers in comparison with Asian competitors. ls is not possible to dissect and compare the relative costs of labour, power, rent and other manufacturing elements. Direct material costs appear to be lower in Asia than in Australia.
(Question No. SIS)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External ‘ Affairs, upon notice:
With respect to an incident in a television programme named Bandstand, on 15th September, in which a Mr Henderson condemned what he termed the Australian Embassies in Rome and Madrid for their rudeness to his migrant cameraman, will the Minister ascertain the exact situation and inform Mr Henderson that it was his cameraman’s own responsibility to arrange a reentry permit before the cameraman left Australia, and that his sponsors should have so advised him?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The Bandstand cameraman applied at the Australian Embassy in Rome for a re-entry visa. Because the request had to be referred to Australia and a decision could not be obtained before the cameraman was to leave Rome, the approval to issue the visa was conveyed to the Australian Embassy at Madrid. On application at the Embassy Madrid the visa was issued. The two Embassies state that there was no argument, rudeness or unpleasantness of any kind when they were approached for the visa.
(Question No. 529)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The Minister for Social Services has replied as follows:
(Question No. 544)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has. supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions: 1 and 2. Both filled milk - that is. reconstituted milk having butterfat replaced by vegetable fat - and imitation milk - that is, a synthetic product not containing any dairy ingredients - are on retail sale in the United States of America. I understand that the ingredients and additives can vary according to the manufacturer’s wishes. Retail prices of these products are reported to be lower than for milk and their production has increased in the 2 years or so they have been on the market.
(Question No. 564) Senator WEBSTER (through Senator Cotton) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Has the Government released statutory marketing authorities from the obligation to seek the approval of the Reserve Bank prior to insuring against a variation in exchange rate?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following information in response to the honourable senator’s question:
In March this year the previous directive preventing statutory marketing authorities from taking out forward exchange cover through the banking system was withdrawn. Statutory marketing authorities are now eligible to use the forward exchange facilities available in Australia subject to the same conditions of access as other traders.
Reserve Bank approval, or the approval of the trading banks under authority delegated to them, is required for all forward exchange contracts. The trading banks’ authority covers the majority of transactions that they arrange on behalf of their clients. Most statutory marketing authorities have accounts with the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank and arrange forward exchange contracts through the Department.
(Question No. 574) Senator CAVANAGH asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Are such operations for the purpose of discovering:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
The purpose of this type of operation is io:
During a cordon and search, advantage is taken of the opportunity to conduct civic action activities such as medical and dental care.
(Question No. 586) Senator ORMONDE asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Are the results of studies by military experts into the efficacy of fire fighting methods and equipment available to civil lire fighting organisations, such as civil defence and established fire brigades?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There is no formal procedure for making the results of Army studies of fire fighting methods and equipment available to civil fire fighting authorities. However such results are available indirectly in a number of ways. The Army policy is that fire service personnel are required to establish effective liaison with local bodies in the areas in which Army establishments are located. The results of Army research are provided to the Commonwealth Fire Board. This body is always prepared to provide information and, in fact, has made available for general use Army initiated developments in fire fighting. The Army also provides comments when appropriate in related standards produced by the Standards Association of Australia. These are freely available to the public.
(Question No. 590) Senator MULVIHILL asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following reply:
Well, we define standards by 90, 80, 70i%. In view of the human element involved in cleaning 90% standard is the highest that is possibly achievable which doesn’t allow for much being missed. Floors must be cleaned, restored to an almost perfect finish nightly . . all surfaces must be dusted, there must be no sweeping left, corners must be clean, finger spots on partition glass must be removed, but beyond the question of appearance, a lot of cleaning is done for the purpose of preserving finishes and materials such as the oiling of timber partitions.
You must have to keep a very close check on your employees? Yes. Besides the foreman and supervisors checking on the performance of the employees in our company, we have a man in charge of . . . control who does nothing but sample inspect buildings at random reporting back directly to me.
Mr Hartog, your employees have very free access to such things as board rooms, managing directors’ rooms, even Cabinet Ministers’ rooms. Do you have any security problem? We would if we didn’t take proper precautions. But the rules under which the employees operate restricts them to the floors to which they are assigned . . . and if they’re found off their floors without good cause this is cause for immediate discharge. They’re not permitted to open any drawers, any files, look through any papers, and again violation of those rules is cause for discharge.
(Question No. 600)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What steps have been taken in recent times to improve diplomatic and consular arrangements wilh the countries of South America?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has recently improved diplomatic and consular arrangements with the countries of South America by exchanging diplomatic representatives at ambassadorial level with the governments of Peru and Uruguay. The Ambassador to Argentina will be dually accredited to
Peru and Uruguay. The Australian Embassy in Peru has an office in Lima, with a counsellor resident there and charge d’affaires in the absence of the Ambassador. No separate office has been established in Montevideo. An Embassy has been opened at Santiago in Chile, with a First Secretary resident there as charge d’affaires, and an Ambassador will be appointed.
(Question No. 620) Senator DRURY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 623) Senator KEEFFE asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether the Secretary of the Department required the present Administrator of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to sign an undertaking which virtually amounted to an avowal of personal loyalty and obedience to the Secretary of the Department.
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
There is absolutely no truth to the allegations made in this question. As the question is framed, it appears to be an unwarranted reflection on a public servant whose vigour, enterprise and ability have contributed very materially to the advancement and well-being of the territory of Papua and New Guinea. (Question No. 625)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Will the Minister inform the Parliament if the two Assistant Administrators of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea were required to sign an undertaking that virtually amounted to an avowal of personal loyalty and obedience to the Secretary of the Department of External Territories’.’
– -The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
There is absolutely no truth to the allegations made in this question. As the question is framed, it appears to be an unwarranted reflection on a public servant whose vigour, enterprise and ability have contributed very materially to the advancement and well-being of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. (Question No. 630)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Have various heads of departments in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea been required to sign documents that amount to an avowal of loyalty and obedience to the Secretary of the Department of External Territories? if so, was this practice introduced only since the present Secretary was appointed, and is it normal practice for senior public servants, who have all sworn bonds of loyalty to the Commonwealth, to be required to sign additional commitments of this type to another public servant?
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
There is absolutely no truth to the allegations made in this question. As the question is framed, it appears to be an unwarranted reflection on a public servant whose vigour, enterprise and ability have contributed very materially to the advancement and well-being of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– On 10th October Senator Lillico asked whether there is to be a meeting this month between Australia and New Zealand pea growers with a view to determining a reasonable quota of peas from New Zealand. Senator Lillico asked also whether the New Zealand representatives have the blessing of the New Zealand Government and whether the Minister for Trade and Industry would contact the New Zealand Government with a view to having some official recognition by both Governments of the conference. I wish to inform the honourable senator that the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished me with the following information in reply:
The Australian pea and bean processing and growing industries are still discussing the proposal to meet with representatives of the New Zealand industries. There has been also some informal exchange of views regarding the meeting between officials in both countries who are facilitating arrangements for the projected meeting, lt is now tentatively scheduled for mid-November.
– On 26th September Senator Georges drew my attention to an article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of the day before about the abandonment by an American aircraft manufacturer of the swing wing design for a commercial aircraft., and asked whether the Australian Government should not ‘abandon further expenditure on the controversial Fill aircraft’. The Minister for Defence has provided the following reply:
The number of variables involved in the design of any aircraft are so numerous that the rejection of a particular feature in one aircraft design does not necessarily invalidate the use of that feature in the design of a different aircraft. If, in fact, the American company concerned has decided not to employ a swing wing design for its supersonic commercial aircraft, the decision would not suggest that there is any technical foundation for concluding that the swing wing design employed in the FI 1 1 is not a satisfactory design concept.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN) - Order! I have received the following message from the House of Representatives:
The House of Representatives transmits to the Senate the following resolution which was agreed to by the House of Representatives this day: That this House is of the opinion that the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area and that the matter be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report on the alternatives and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months’. The House of Representatives requests the concurrence of the Senate in referring this matter to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That consideration of the message be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the guarantee by the Commonwealth of a $US7m - §A6.2m - borrowing by the
Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The proceeds of the loan will assist in the financing of a : major telecommunications project in the Territory.
In March 1967 a mission from the International Bank visited the Territory to examine economic developments there and to study projects that might qualify for loans from the International Bank or its affiliate, the International Development Association. The telecommunications project was among those discussed with . the Bank mission at the time. Further discussions led to the development of this project to the stage where the Bank was prepared to assist in the financing, and an agreement was signed between the Bank and the Territory Administration on 28th June last.
The loan agreement, which is shown as the second schedule to the Bill, has been approved by the Territory House of Assembly. The loan carries an interest rate of 6i% per annum and has a life of 20 years, with repayments commencing after 5 years, ft will cover most of the foreign exchange costs of the telecommunications project. The project will take 4 years to complete and will provide a modern telephone and telegraph network with widespread links to the SEACOM cable. Facilities will be installed for about 10,000 additional lines ‘ on local automatic exchanges, and for extension of long distance radio links between the main centres in the Territory. The total cost will be about $A14m
This is the first, loan to be obtained from the Bank for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and represents a significant supplement to Australia’s financial contributions for Territory development. Borrowings by the Territory Administration would carry a Commonwealth guarantee by virtue of the operation of section 75a of the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1968. However, in this instance’ the Commonwealth was required to enter into a guarantee agreement, a copy of which is set out in the first schedule to the Bill.
The Bill provides for parliamentary approval of the guarantee agreement. It makes consequential provision to ensure the effectiveness of undertakings in the guarantee and loan agreements regarding freedom of payments from Australian taxation or restrictions imposed by Australian law. It also includes an appropriation of moneys required for the Commonwealth to make any payments under the guarantee. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
With the concurrence of the Senate I propose to deal with this Bill and the complementary States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Bill and Excise Tariff Bill together. They provide for the raising of additional revenue to meet increased costs of Jong service leave for employees in the black coal mining industry.
Long service leave for employees in the black coal mining industry is provided on an industry basis. Payments for leave taken by miners are made by employers who are recouped, in effect, from a trust fund set up under the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Act. The costs of the administration of the scheme, which is handled by the States, are also met from the trust fund. This fund derives its revenue from an excise on black coal - or in respect of coal the property of a State, a payment equivalent to the excise - and interest on moneys invested.
From 1949, when the long service leave scheme was introduced, until 1961, the excise was levied on all coal, whether home consumed or exported, and the rate was varied from time to time according to the needs of the fund. In 1961 when the funding arrangements were last amended, because of the healthy state of the fund the rate of excise on coal for home consumption was reduced from 5d or 4. 1 7c to 4d or 3.33c per ton and it was also decided to remove the excise on coal that was exported as an encouragement to the development of export markets.
From the outset the financing of the fund has been on a cash commitment basis. Essentially a cash commitment arrangement involves planning finances over a period, in this case generally 5 years, to ensure that liabilities expected to fall due within that time are met by revenue earned. At the same time the fund’s reserves have to be sufficient to cope with any sudden and unexpected increase in the drawings on the fund.
Estimates made by the Commonwealth Actuary indicate that expenditure for long service leave and administration purposes for the period 1967-1972 is expected to be of the order of $7.2m. On the other hand excise on the present basis would raise only just over half this amount and the level of the fund, $2. 8m at 30th June 1968, cannot be allowed to fall significantly if it is to cope with possible sudden and unexpected heavy drawings. In brief the only alternative is to increase revenue.
When the present excise exemption in respect of export coal was introduced in June 1961, exports were below 2 million tons per annum, or less than 10% of the total Australian production. Currently they are 10 million tons, or more than 30% of all black coal produced. By 1971 coal exports are expected to exceed15 million tons, or more than 40% of the output, and the indications are of further growth. In other words, home consumption coal, a relatively decreasing proportion of the industry, has been carrying the entire cost of long service leave since 1961. Expenditure from the trust fund has, moreover, exceeded revenue in each year and the cost of leave entitlements is rising with liberalisation of long service provisions - in particular with the reduction of the qualifying period from 10 to 8 years in October 1966 - and increasing wage rates. If locally consumed coal only were to continue to carry the entire cost, the excise would have to be increased from the present 3.33c to around 6.5c a ton.
The Government considers, in the light of all the circumstances, that all coal producers should share the cost of long service leave of those employed in the industry. Accordingly, it is proposed that an exciseof 4.4c per ton be levied on locally consumed coal as from 1st November 1968, but to cushion the financial impact on producers for the export market the present export exemption will not cease immediately but be phased out over a period of some 4 years. The effect of this will be that the rate on export coal from 1st November 1968 will be only 1.1c per ton, virtually the same as the increase on home consumed coal, rising to 2.2c per ton from 1st July 1969, 3.3c from 1st July 1970, and finally 4.4c on 1st July 1971.
The Excise Tariff Bill which I have foreshadowed provides for an excise of 4.4c per ton to be levied on all coal while the phasing out arrangements for exports are covered in the other two measures. Thus clause 4 of the Coal Excise Bill provides that remissions of part of the full rate of 4.4c will apply so that the actual rates payable over the phasing out period will not exceed those I have mentioned for the respective years. This will ensure that an exporter does not have to outlay more than the actual duty payable at the time the coal is exported. Similarly clause 3 of the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Bill provides for reimbursements to be made to the owners of coal on which the full duty has been paid and where the coal is subsequently exported.
The amendments proposed in the Coal Excise Bill provides for the collection of excise by my Department on all black coal, by removing the provisions which exempted coal that was exported. They also provide for the remissions of duty I have just mentioned and some consequential amendments to the machinery provisions. The Bill amending the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Act provides for the reimbursements I mentioned a few moments ago. It is proposed that all the legislation will operate from 1st November of this year. I commend the Coal Excise Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill, the operation of which is proposed to commence on 1st November 1968, is to fix the rate of excise duty to be paid on coal on and from that date. The amendment, by amendment to Schedule 2 to the Principal Act, provides for an excise duty of 4.4c per ton on all coal. I outlined the reasons for the duty increase when I introduced the Bill to amend the Coal Excise Act. I commend this Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
The Act which this Bill proposes to amend provides for the setting up and operation of the Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave Fund. It is administered by the Department of Labour and National Service. I have already outlined the reasons for introducing the measure and its content and commend it to honourable senators accordingly.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Consideration resumed’ from 17 October (vide page 1422).
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That further consideration of Divisions relating to the Department of the Army and intervening Divisions be postponed until after consideration of Divisions relating to the Departments of Trade and Industry, the Treasury, External Affairs and Defence.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $23,876,000.
Proposed provision, $765,000.
– I will reply to some of the questions raised last Thursday. Senator Lawrie then referred to the grant of $6,000 provided under Division 911 for the Australian Inventors Association. He asked why no appropriation was made for the Association in the previous year. The grant was announced in the 1968-69 Budget to enable the Association to maintain a small office in Sydney as a national point of contact for the dissemination of information and publicity. The Association has a membership of almost 600 people throughout Australia.
Senator Lawrie also raised a query concerning the appropriation of $374,000 in Division 910 for buildings and equipment at overseas establishments. He pointed out that last year’s expenditure on this item was $25,755. The appropriation for 1968-69 relates to the opening of a new office at Osaka and improvements in Hong Kong. At Osaka expenditure on land and buildings for the Trade Commissioner and Assistant Trade Commissioner amounts to $300,000. A new residence for the Trade Commissioner is to be built in Hong Kong at a cost of about$60,000.
Senator Lawrie pointed out that the subsidy for the K Line has dropped from $300,000 in 1967-68 to $150,000 in 1 968-69. The purpose of the K Line appropriation is to inaugurate a new service to South America. It is clearly understood that the shipping line should operate on a commercial basis. The subsidy is to be reduced as trade develops and payments have been reduced in recent years. The arrangement is at present under review and the estimate anticipates a further reduction in the current year. Senator Lawrie also referred to the fact that although the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee received a contribution of $10,000 under Division 520 last year, no amount is appropriated for the Committee in 1968- 69. The Commonwealth’s contribution ceased at 30th June 1968 pending the establishment of new shipper bodies which can be designated under the Trade Practices Act 1965-67.
Senator Poyser and Senator Lawrie referred to the appropriation of $2m for devaluation compensation under Division 520. It should be pointed out that this appropriation covers only manufacturers and that the appropriation in the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry covers rural products. There is no limitation on devaluation compensation for manufactured exports. If the appropriation of $2m is insufficient, additional funds will be sought. There was no provision in 1967-68 because devaluation occurred late in 1967. Compensation is based on post-devaluation price reductions on the actual exports in 1968. Details of the applications being processed are that approximately 50 exporters have applied to date and another 50 or so may be involved. A wide range of industries is involved. They include light engineering, processed foodstuffs, wool tops and textiles. The question of assistance beyond 1968 has yet to be determined by the Government.
Senator Poyser queried the adequacy of funds for the promotion of flour. Flour promotion programmes are agreed upon periodically between the mill owners, the Australian Wheat Board and the Commonwealth. This co-operation has operated since 1956. The Government matches all funds provided by the two industry bodies. The Government and the industry have each contributed $50,000 to date. The Government has met all industry requests for funds for promotion on a matching basis. The funds are used for flour demonstration teams, bringing large buyers to Australia and general publicity. Promotion possibilities in Indonesia are currently being investigated. The difficult world marketing situation limits the scope of promotion. Inability to match competitor’s prices is the main obstacle.
asked me a series of questions on the Industrial Research Grants Development Board that largely followed the same line as the questions Senator Cohen asked me. The answers that I gave to Senator Cohen would, in general, be relevant to Senator Ormonde’s questions. Senator Sim sought an assurance on the adequacy of staff for the Tariff Board. I am advised that if additional staff is required the initiative lies with the Chairman of the Tariff Board and that any requests for additional staff are dealt with in the normal manner by the Public Service Board. The Government assumes that the Tariff Board will be provided with such staff resources as are necessary to enable it to carry out its work in an efficient manner and within a reasonable time.
Another honourable senator asked me a question about pyrites. The appropriation for this item in 1968-69 is $385,000 and there was no appropriation in 1967-68. In the early 1950s the Government actively encouraged the use of indigenous sulphur bearing materials such as pyrites. In 1959 this policy was discontinued by the Governrnent. But the Government recognised that it had an obligation to those producers who had co-operated in the past. There was a reference to the Tariff Board, which was asked in which way the Government could most appropriately discharge its obligation. The Tariff Board recommended - and the Government accepted the recommendation - that compensation was the best way. The Government accepted the Board’s proposal for basing compensation on the losses incurred in the realisation or scrapping of assets. The appropriation of$385,000 for 1968-69 is the estimated lump sum compensation to offset losses by Norseman Gold Mines and Mount Morgan Ltd in the realisation or scrapping of assets used in the production of pyrites. Final payments cannot be accurately assessed until after the disposal of assets.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of the Treasury
Proposed expenditure, $62,812,000.
Proposed provision, $20,95 1 , 500.
Advance to the Treasurer
Proposed expenditure, $20,000,000.
Proposed provision, $20,000,000.
– I do not expect an outright answer on this matter.I have received correspondence from Mr N. J.Kearns, the member for Bankstown in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, on an apparent anomaly in the way the Taxation Branch regards superannuation payments and the way the Department of Social Services regards them. Rather than discuss the matter. I would like to have the letter incorporated in Hansard and to ask the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), who represents the Treasurer, to obtain an answer for me. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard a letter written to me by Mr Kearns on behalf of a constituent. 1st October 1968.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Federal Members Rooms, Commonwealth Bank Chambers, Martin Place, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
I am writing on behalf of Mr. BertieW. Oprey of 13 Myrtle Road, Bankstown. 2200. who has drawn attention to an anomaly applyingtoRailway Superannuated employees.
As you know, for the purposes of taxation payments all railway superannuation is included us income and is taxable. This has an adverseeffect on the eligibility of the superannuated railway employee to pay taxation. Railway Superannuation is considered to be exclusively the income of the retired employee and he must also show his wife as a dependant for taxation purposes. Conversely, when assessing the eligibility of the superannuated employee’s wife for a Social Services Pension the Railway Superannuation payments are considered to be equally shared by the husband and wife. This then has the effect of reducing the amount of pension payable to the wife.
Mr. Oprey points out that two departments are in conflict with each other whereas the Taxation Department regards the superannuation payments as income belonging to the husband, the Social Services Department regards superannuation as being shared equally by the wife. In each case this reacts to the advantage of the department and to the disadvantage of the citizen concerned.
I would appreciate it if you would make some representations to the appropriate Minister with a view to the same interpretation being given on this matter by both departments.
Yours faithfully. (Sgd) N. J. Kearns N. J. KEARNS M.I..A. Member for Bankstown
-I wish to raise one matter under the appropriation for the Taxation Branch. I have been requested to put before the Parliament the question whether some concession in the field of taxation can be given to organisations that employ disabled people. The Commonwealth has a big organisation for the rehabilitation of disabled people, who experience extreme difficulty in finding employment because of their limited capacity for employment. The question is whether some incentive can be given in the form of a reduction of taxation, such as payroll tax, to organisations that employ disabled people. I may be out of order in raising this matter at this stage, but I hope that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) will give some consideration to this request.
I raise, also under the appropriation for the Taxation Branch, a particular position which applies to many people in the community and which seems to work injustice in many cases. My question is: What consideration does the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) give to taxpayers who are supporting full time students between the ages of 21 and 25 years? Up to the age of 2 1 years, of course, the situation is not so bad. The taxpayer parent of a student can claim a taxation deduction of up to $208 a year as the student is recognised as a dependant. He can also claim up to $300 a year for moneys spent on the full time education of his dependant under 21 years - payments for fees, books, fares etc. He also receives child endowment, but that ceases when the child turns 21. He can claim all medical, dental and optical expenses incurred on behalf of the student. He can also claim all payments made to a medical or hospital benefits association.
But when the student turns 21 all of this assistance ends. The parent can no longer claim these taxation deductions. The payment of child endowment also ceases. The student in this age group - from 21 to 25 years - cannot claim a taxation deduction or concessions for any money spent on his own education. That is not a permissible item of deduction. Although the Taxation Branch no longer regards such a student as a dependant, the Department of Education and Science regards him as a dependant if he is the holder of a Commonwealth open entrance or later year scholarship. Although he is over the age of 21 years, the income of his parents is assessed for the purpose of deciding whether he can receive a scholarship. So he is caught both ways. A number of people, have been in touch with me on this question. One can easily see that such a student falls between two stools. When we are discussing the estimates for the Taxation Branch I can hardly ask for some alteration of the basis of university scholarships, but 1 believe that I am justified in asking what the Treasurer’s attitude to this kind of problem is. Clearly the student in this age group - between 21 and 25 years of age - is seriously disadvantaged compared with the student in the 1 6 to 2 1 years age bracket.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales ing some information on the question that Senator Cavanagh raised in relation to payroll tax. If we happen to pass these estimates before I receive that information, 1 certainly will have it conveyed to him. Senator Mulvihill had incorporated in Hansard a letter dealing with a query raised by a constituent. I will obtain an answer to the query for him.
Senator Cohen raised a question about education expenses, the burden of which was that whilst a student can get concessions, no doubt through the portfolio of Education and Science, up to the age of 21, after that time a problem emerges. Submissions were made to the Treasurer - [ think this may well have been done by a committee of women who were concerned with education - to the effect that taxpayers should receive a rebate for full time education expenses incurred by dependants over the age of 21. There was another submission that the deductibility of education expenses under the Income Tax Assessment Act might be extended to include education expenses in respect of university undergraduate students up to the age of 22 years who are pursuing courses of degrees with honours. These matters are related to the subject raised by the honourable senator. The second is perhaps not as related as the first.
The concessional deduction for education expenses was introduced into the income tax law by this Government in 1952 and has been progressively liberalised since. Initially the deduction was allowable up to an amount of $100. The limit has since been raised on three occasions - to $150 in 1953; to S200 in 1956; and to the present amount of §300 in 1963. From the outset the allowance has applied in relation to students who are less than 21 years of age. This restriction of the allowance to the education expenses of children under 21 is consistent with the age limit specified for the concessional deduction for student children maintained by a taxpayer. Under the latter concession a taxpayer may, in addition to the allowance for education expenses, receive a deduction of $208 for a student child who is 16 or more years of age and is less than 21, where the child is wholly maintained by the taxpayer.
The Government has considered from time to time the suggestion that the age limit be raised beyond the present limit of less than 21, but has not so far found it practicable to do so. In considering the question it is necessary to bear in mind not merely revenue considerations but also the point that an extension of the nature proposed would be of no assistance to those persons who could not afford to have their children educated full-time at the tertiary level and that the relief provided would vary according to the income of the taxpayer. Those needing most help would receive the least assistance.
That is only in relation to dependants. The honourable senator went a bit beyond that. He referred to people who were not necessarily dependent. Extension of the limit to the age of 22 as now suggested would not meet the situation of taxpayers who incur expenditure on the education of dependants receiving a full-time education. Some courses require attendance beyond that age. Limitation to students pursuing honours courses at a university would introduce a new principle into the law which would add to its complexity and could prove troublesome and costly to administer. A limitation has the advantage, of course, of being relatively less costly to the revenue than an unqualified extension. This may prove illusory and short lived, as representations for the inclusion of all students up to the age of 22 could be expected to be pressed strongly and it would be difficult to justify the proposed limitation.
In view of the facts mentioned, the Government takes into consideration alternative methods of providing assistance for the educational needs of the community. The basic responsibility for education constitutionally and in fact still remains with the States. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth’s role in this field has been growing and its direct financial contribution has been increasing rapidly. This is not really related to the matter raised. If Senator Cohen wants to expand on the point that he makes he should do so. This would be, in a sense, a submission to the Treasurer for consideration.
– The Minister has tried to give me the information but it does not really meet the point that I. had in mind and I find the reply unsatisfactory. What I have in mind is this: 1 am looking, first of alt, at the position of parents who are supporting a full time student who is over 21, a son or daughter studying at the university in a course which is of more than 2 or 3 years - perhaps medicine, arts and law or engineering, which are 4 or 5 year courses. They are supporting a child and they get the benefit of tax deductions, child endowment and various other things and then it cuts off suddenly with a full stop when the child reaches 21. No claim is permissible. The parents can make no claim.
At the same time, while the parents can make no claim the child may be penalised. When I say ‘child’, I mean the student over 21 who is penalised in relation to university scholarships because there is a means test and the parents’ means are assessed. The student is not treated as being independent although the parents are not entitled to any deductions white supporting him. The student is not treated as independent when he becomes 21. He is still regarded as a dependant for the purpose of applying a means test for university scholarships. I was really posing the problem of full time students, but even the student who goes out to work cannot claim deductions for his own education. This is a parental deduction for the support of a student. As I understand it, the student cannot claim deductions for money spent by him on his own education.
– There would be little prospect of his going out to work if he was in his final year of medicine.
– I was putting the case of the full time student. I am saying that even if one visualises him coping with his own problem by trying to earn some money he is allowed no deductions for income tax purposes because he is really only paying for his own education.
– He could work on night shift and be a full time student at the same time.
– For parents who are bona fide supporting a full time student - and we are assuming this - it is pretty expensive, as we are assuming no scholarships or other assistance. The deduction suddenly cuts off when the student is 21 and they are left without any assistance to finance him or her through, perhaps, the last 2 or 3 years of a course. It seems to me to be an unreal distinction when looked at from their point of view. The Treasurer always has a problem with taxation. We all know how difficult it is to get the smallest shift on these matters in terms of concessions, but there is a significant number of people involved in this and sooner or later the problem will have to be faced up to.
– 1 refer to the provision for hiring, service and maintenance of machines for tabulation of statistics in the Bureau of Census and Statistics, for which provision is made in Division 552. I ask whether this covers the use of computers by the Department of the Treasury, to what extent there is expenditure on computers under that item, and whether the other items in the Treasury estimates also cover the use of computers. In what way does the Treasury obtain its computer services? Has it purchased its own computer system or, as might appear from the. use of the words ‘hire’ and ‘service’, does it hire them from others? Could the Minister also tell us to what extent the Treasury is now engaged in the training of operators of computer systems? To what extent are the Treasury’s computer systems -if it has its own - made available to other departments of State and to statutory instrumentalities, whether Commonwealth or State?
– Under the estimates for the Taxation Branch I want to bring up a matter which involves an injustice as great as that raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). I am referring to the Taxation position regarding expenses occasioned by travel to obtain medical treatment. All honourable senators are aware that a taxation deduction may be claimed for expenditure on medicines and on doctors fees. However, I want to raise the case of country residents who have to pay fares in order to visit specialists in the cities. This was brought forcibly to my notice when I made a trip to Ceduna in South Australia. It is 493 miles from Adelaide to Ceduna. That is about the distance from Adelaide to Melbourne. As there is only a general practitioner at Ceduna, certain people are unable to receive treatment where specialist treatment is advised. Specialist treatment may be essential in order to save life. Some times the treatment necessitates regular fortnightly or monthly visits to a specialist some 500 miles away. The South Australian Government has now terminated the passenger train service from Port Lincoln to Ceduna. The result is that people have to use the more costly road service or air transport to get to Port Lincoln and then to Adelaide. Sometimes they have to travel to Adelaide by boat. This means that transportation is costly and, in addition, the people concerned often have to stay overnight to receive treatment.
While medical benefit funds will contribute towards the cost of the treatment received there is no payment or. concession for expenses involved in travelling to and from the city. Expenditure for medical treatment is deductible for taxation purposes but there is no deduction for the expenses necessarily incurred in receiving that treatment. I ask that the Minister give consideration to this matter, together with the other matters I have raised. I know that this matter has been brought to the notice of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on other occasions. lt would appear to deserve favourable consideration.
– took on board the matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). As he would appreciate, this is a matter of policy and is one that the Treasury would have to consider. Judging by the representations made about dependants over the age of 21 years, 1. gather there have been representations on that matter too. Nevertheless it is proper that the honourable senator should express a point of view and I will have the matter referred to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). This applies equally to the point made by Senator Cavanagh who said that there is no taxation concession’ for expenses incurred in travelling to get medical treatment, although the law permits a person to claim up to a certain figure for medical services after allowance has been made lor amounts recouped by hospital medical funds. 1 gather the position is different from that, of persons receiving treatment under the provisions of the Repatriation Act. As I recall, provision is made for fares and allowances in going to and from repatriation hospitals for treatment. The question raised is one which I should also refer to the Treasurer and naturally I shall do so.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) asked me some questions about the provision for the hire, service and maintenance of machines for tabulation of statistics. This is covered by Division 552 which deals with the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The purchase of the equipment is covered by the proposed provision for the Bureau of Census and Statistics in Division 915. The Bureau trains its own computer operators and most of the programming staff. This includes programmes for user departments. The Bureau operates a computer service centre for the processing of statistics and to meet the processing requirements of other government departments, including the Treasury, the Department of Health and minor users. I have a complete breakup of the figures shown in the estimates and, with the concurrence of honourable senators, I will have them incorporated in Hansard. This is probably the simplest way to reveal the information because the honourable senator can get the complete picture.
– Only in the last fortnight I have had brought to my notice the matter referred to by Senator Cavanagh. He referred to circumstances in which people have to travel great distances to obtain specialist medical treatment. In Western Australia, in the wheat belt in particular, people have to travel long distances in order to visit a general practitioner. I hope that the Minister wilt deal with the complete picture. I assume that people in Queensland and New South Wales would be faced with the same problem.
– I did take that point on board. I certainly understood that the point raised took into account all remote areas.
– I desire to raise one matter which comes under the appropriation for the Taxation Branch. It is somewhat akin to the matter referred to by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Wilkinson. I am referring to subscriptions to authorised district ambulance services. Frankly, the Ambulance Transport Service of New South Wales is a poverty stricken body. It relies to a large extent on funds raised by charitable functions and on subscriptions from members of the community who subscribe $2 or $3, as the case may be, every quarter to cover them against the possibility that at some time in the future they may require the service of an ambulance. A number of people, including members of the New South Wales ambulance services, have complained to me that the Taxation Branch states that subscriptions of this nature are not allowable deductions from personal income. They have also been informed that if one submits a taxation return stating that the amount involved is a donation to an ambulance fund then it is an allowable deduction. But if the amount is shown as being a subscription to an ambulance fund for a possible future need for the ambul’ance service it is nonallowable. I do not know whether that is the correct position, but that is what I have been told. The Minister is no doubt aware that the ambulance service in New South Wales is doing a really magnificent job, despite its lack of funds. I believe that the Commonwealth could greatly assist the ambulance service by allowing subscriptions to the service by ordinary members of. the community to be an allowable deduction for income tax purposes. J draw the Minister’s attention to that suggestion. 1 hope that in turn he will direct it to the attention of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon).
– My remarks are directed to the Bureau of Census and Statistics. 1 am told that statistics on working mothers are not available. In recent times responsible groups in the community have been giving a good deal of attention to the problems of working mothers and their children and families. I know of two seminars on this subject in recent times. One was organised by the Professional Women’s Committee of the Australian Labor Party. Another was organised by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Sydney. There were complaints at both of those gatherings about the lack of reliable statistical information to help in the elucidation of this problem, which has very wide social implications. A number of matters on which information would be extremely valuable have been listed for me. But apparently this information is not available. Those matters are: Firstly, the number and distribution of working mothers with dependent children; secondly, their hours of work; thirdly, the nature of the work performed: fourthly, the ages of the children; fifthly, care of the children in the absence of the mother - whether by the family, a subsidised child care centre, a private registered child care centre, an unregistered child minder or nobody; and. finally, the number of children who are in institutions because the working mother or the deserted father cannot for financial reasons care adequately for those children. 1 am interested in whether statistics along these lines are contemplated. I have not attempted to do anything more than indicate a number of subject matters on which statistics would obviously be very useful to social workers and others interested in these problems as well as those personally concerned with the economics of the matter. I ask: Will attention be given at an early date to provide such information.
– I wish to direct the Senate’s attention to Division 540 - Administrative. 1 refer in particular to the taxation forms that are required to be completed by taxpayers at the end of each financial year. It is utterly impossible for the neatest writer to do a tidy job when filling in such a form. There is insufficient room for detailed explanations. This is particularly so if the person filling in a form is claiming for medical expenses. I think the- space allotted for details of medical expenses is something like half an inch. I know, that detailed explanations can be attached,, but I think that that is only a way of getting the Taxation Department out of a bit of trouble. A taxation return is a most, confusing document. 1 suggest that the .Minister should recommend to the Department that the documents be enlarged. Quite a lot of hocuspocus on the back page could be cut out. lt is quite unnecessary. This would enable additional space to be provided to fill in details. I think this . would make the experience of filling in a taxation return a happier one for the taxpayers. Taxation return lime is usually a period of worry for. the normal person. The Government would be doing people a service if it improved the layout of the taxation forms.
I wish to refer to another matter that is in the interests of the taxpayers. The Government goes to a lot of trouble to assist those people living in country areas to complete their taxation returns. Obviously the Government is of the opinion that these people are not as able in this regard as are those who live in metropolitan areas because no assistance whatsoever is given to people in metropolitan areas.
– Inquiry offices are available.
– Where? Inquiry offices may be provided in Tasmania.
– And in .Sydney.
– The Taxation Department advertises the fact that assistance is available in country towns in New South Wales. Taxpayers who have doubts and need assistance can go down to the office that is located in their town, but I do not know of any such office in Sydney where assistance is given…
– You should apply to the Taxation Branch.
– One would have to go through the hoops and line up behind hundreds at the Taxation Branch. I think that suburban offices should be opened.
People could go to these offices, sit down quietly and make inquiries about how to complete taxation returns and how to attend to the business they have to do with the Taxation Branch. I believe that the Government should extend these services to the suburbs. After all, the metropolitan area of Sydney is probably 30 miles wide and it is difficult to get into Martin Place to make inquiries about taxation returns. On the other hand, people living in country towns merely have to go into an office that is established in the main street and receive the attention to which they are entitled. I think the same privileges should be extended to city dwellers as are extended to country dwellers. We are all in need of aid when filling in our returns.
The report of the Taxation Boards of Review is a very interesting document, but it is tabled too late in the Estimates debate to bc of any assistance. I think it was tabled only a week ago. I do not know whether it is possible to prepare this report and have it tabled a month earlier, lt contains very valuable information that would be helpful during the Estimates debate. At present the Senate is debating the estimates of the Treasury but few of us have had the opportunity to read the report of the Taxation Boards of Review. I ask the Minister to give some attention to the matters that I have raised, and particularly to the provision of assistance to taxpayers in metropolitan areas to complete taxation returns.
– Senator McClelland raised a query in relation to ambulance services. As 1 understand it, he said that if an amount is claimed as a gift or as a donation, within the exemption limit, it is granted: but if the amount is claimed as a subscription, it is not deductible. 1 have asked the officers helping me to obtain the facts so that if the position is as the honourable senator suggests I will place his comments with the others raised by honourable senators, which I intend to present to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). Senator Cohen raised a point in connection with the Bureau of Census and Statistics. He acknowledged that his question covered a fairly wide range. He made the point that the various organisations that wanted to conduct surveys in relation to working mothers and children were at a loss to obtain the information they wanted. He cited an interested organisation in his own State, the Business and Professional Women’s Organisation. 1 appreciate that it has a special interest in the problem. I am informed that the information sought is of very wide compass. Basically the result of the survey depends on the source of the information. I can give him a little comfort. Apparently some consideration is being given to looking at the quarterly work surveys to ascertain whether some kind of pilot survey can be extracted from them. Naturally the Bureau is expanding all the time in the fields of study, research and statistics. Eventually the type of information that the honourable senator is seeking may be obtained.
Senator Ormonde stated that some parts of the tax return form were difficult to understand and therefore the form should be enlarged. 1 think it should be recognised that unless a whole multiplicity of different forms for different taxpayers is envisaged one more or less general purpose form is necessary. The range of forms includes one for income from business and property, one for income from personal exertion, and so on. There has to be a break up. In consequence there is a form available for various people in different categories of business, services and employment. I have noticed that the space allotted for medical deductions, particularly for the family man who may have many claims for himself, his wife and children, is not sufficient. The form does not provide sufficient space to list all the claims that can be made for deduction. Invariably the practice of most of us throughout our married life is to attach a list of the claims for deduction. 1 am happy to inform the honourable senator that at present the return forms are under review by the Commissioner of Taxation. The honourable senator may be a pathfinder in this field.
The honourable senator also referred to the fact that people in country areas can get advice on their taxation problems much easier than can people in the metropolitan areas. In my experience in public life over the years, as an alderman, a mayor, a State member and a senator, on many occasions people have come to me for help with the compilation of tax returns. I suppose all honourable senators have had a similar experience. There is a wonderful officer in the Taxation Branch whom we can contact when constituents raise taxation problems. He has been a tower of strength to me over the years in sorting out problems raised by constituents. I can tell Senator Ormonde that there are offices for advice at Parramatta and at Wollongong. That is apart from the main taxation office in the city. Taxpayers or potential taxpayers may visit those offices and obtain the best advice and cooperation possible.
– New Australians do not know that.
– 1 recognise that there would be problems associated with the new Australian community. My experience in that field has been that the various national1 groups, through their own organisations, have people who are a great help to them in filling in the necessary returns. That is the type of community service that the groups provide. However, there are offices in Parramatta and Wollongong. It is true that taxpayers in capital cities can contact the Taxation Branch more conveniently than can people in the country areas, and that is the reason why there is some country branch activity. 1 shall refer to the Treasurer, for consideration by the Government, any other matters not answered.
– I advert to a matter raised by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) at question time today when he indicated that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was studying the whole question of whether Australia should adopt the metric system of weights and measures. The Minister acknowledged very generously the importance of the question raised by Senator Poyser and said that the matter was under active consideration by the Treasurer. I think this matter is a very important one. My colleagues and I, as members of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures, were tremendously impressed by the quality and the nature of the evidence given. At this stage I think I should mention two matters that appear in the report of the Committee. I refer to page 2 of the report, where the summary of conclusions is set out. The penultimate conclusion reads:
Although no meaningful estimate could be made of the cost and benefits which would result from the adoption of the metric system, the Committee is satisfied that the ultimate benefits would greatly exceed the costs of the conversion. The actual conversion costs could be considerably reduced by careful planning.
The substance of the question asked this afternoon shows clearly that a vast majority of people in Australia, by their reaction to the gallup poll, desire the metric system of weights and measures. The Senate Select Committee has made it abundantly clear, from the evidence adduced, that the ultimate benefits would greatly exceed the costs of conversion. 1 now turn to page 35, paragraph 170, of the report, which deals with the general attitude of secondary industry to the change. It reads:
Strong support for a change’ was forthcoming from a number of representatives of secondary industries, including Mr F. M. Mathews, Chief Engineer of the Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd, who informed the Committee -
It seems to us that a changeover to the metric system is desirable, and that it should be done as soon as possible, as the costs increase as the time for changeover is deferred. Some overseas authorities state that the increase in cost for a changeover to metric rises about 7% each year it is delayed.’
The evidence that Mr F. M. Mathews gave on this point was put to a number of other witnesses who all agreed with him that the increase in the cost. of conversion would be about 7% for each year of delay. I therefore suggest to the Minister that the Treasurer should not delay in any way in coming to a favourable conclusion alter studying the report.
Here I think 1 should mention a statement which reached me from England recently, It was sent to me by. Mr George Beeby, Chairman of the British Titan Products Co. Ltd. He is also Chairman of the British Standards Institution. The British Standards Institution governs standards in Britain and incidentally has an. overriding responsibility for standards “in” Australia. After making a very praiseworthy statement relating to the work of the Senate Select Committee in Australia, Mr Beeby said that a national change of this basic significance is an immense undertaking. He then went on to say:
Whatever course the national conversion takes one thing is certain; a very heavy load of work will fall, indeed has already fallen, on the British Standards Institution.
Then he went on to say how important this British Standards Institution is because it is in the process of making the change.
I understand that by 1970 it will have completely changed all British standards to metric measures. As we in Australia are so dependent upon the British Standards Institution for our standards, we shall be in a rather unenviable plight after 1970 if we are not on the way to changing our standards. I conclude by reminding the Minister -although I do not think that is necessary -that about 90% of the world’s population at the moment is living with the metric system and that approximately 75% of world trade is being carried on in metric measurement. Already 70% of Australia’s export trade is to metric countries or to countries converting to the metric system. I suggest therefore that the Treasury officers should bear in mind the tremendous implications of this from the trade stand point. I hope they will not just think in terms of the cost over the first few years because that will be very quickly balanced out by the saving to the nation after the change takes place.
– I rise merely to say that I shall refer the honourable senator’s comment to the Treasurer. At question time, I made the point that this is a matter for the Government but, initially, it is a matter for consideration by the Treasurer in co-operation with the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions noted.
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $63,950,000.
Proposed provision, $3,493,100
– I should like some elucidation of a few matters. I refer first to item 17 of subdivision 2 of Division 250. This item relates to the United States Naval Communications Station Agreement. Provision is made here for a refund of duties, taxes and other charges to the United States Government. I preface my first inquiry by commending the Minister’s officers upon their actions in relation to the industrial problems that gave rise to so much trouble in the silk industry in South Korea. It will be recalled that, following certain representations here by Senator Bishop and by me, the Minister representing the Minister for
External Affairs (Senator Anderson) supplied me with an answer to question No. 352 which I had put on notice. Amongst other things, the reply stated:
I am advised that as a result of action taken by the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, supported by the Korean Government’s Central Labour Committee, eleven out of twelve members of the Christian Workers’ Movement dismissed from the Sang Ho textile factory, have been reinstated in their employment, and that the reinstatement of the twelfth worker appears likely.
I know that Senator Cavanagh shares my concern as to what happened to the twelfth worker who was seeking assistance from the trade union. Was he also put back on the production line?
I refer now to item 09 of sub-division 4. This relates to the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. The appropriation sought is not a large sum. It is only $5,100. I am curious to. know what are the functions of this body. Has it anything to do with the conventions that were held in London and Copenhagen with relation to pollution of the sea by oil tankers?
I should like some information on two other matters. One relates to the technical assistance given under the Colombo Plan. This is referred to in item 04 of subdivision 5. On page 15 of the annual report of the Department of External Affairs for 1967-68, mention is made of the fact that Maldive Island students are being brought to Australia for technical training under the Colombo Plan. What sort of training do they get here? On page 3 of the same report we find reference to the diplomatic mail service and the safe hand mail service. Does the diplomatic mail service include the courier who takes dispatches to our farflung embassies? What is the function of the safe hand mail service?
– If any other honourable senator wishes to have information on any other matter, I invite him to ask for it now because there will be a little delay in obtaining the information sought by Senator Mulvihill.
– I should like information on several items. I refer first to item 04 of subdivision 4 of Division 250. This relates to the proposed expenditure of $1,533,600 for the United Nations. I was wondering whether this amount is merely to cover the straightout expenditure on keeping our officers at the United Nations and whether the Government has given any consideration to what our future attitude should be, especially with relation to the pressures that have been placed upon the United Nations over the past 12 months. It has been under a tremendous strain during that period. In fact, on a couple of occasions we have seen it sink almost to oblivion.
It seems to me that if this organisation is to survive and do the job it set out to do this Government will have to make some radical changes in its attitudes towards certain questions. I refer in particular to the recognition of governments. I submit that it is nearly time we examined the question of recognising parts of nations as well as whole nations. More and more nations are being split and divided. I quote as one example the two Chinas. This question has bedevilled us for a long time now. But the problem does not rest there. If the United Nations is to survive, universality must come into it. I think that in the future we should have regard not merely for the political complexion of the government of any country; we should have regard also for the political complexion of any body of people who are representing a substantial part of any country. 1 should like to hear the Ministers comments on that aspect, because I am wondering whether he has in his thoughts the things that I have mentioned.
I should like to refer also to the matter of international aid, particularly in relation to the Biafran situation. Although we have asked questions about this matter over quite a period we do not seem to have received very satisfactory answers. As I understand it, we made some contribution towards easing the situation in Nigeria. I remember the Minister stating that we seemed to be having difficulty in getting food to the starving people. From what we read in the newspapers and can gather from television and other reports there probably has never been - certainly in recent years - anything as tragic as the Biafran situation. It seemed almost heartless for people to talk a lot about the plight of the people and then to refer to the difficulty of getting food into the country in time to save them, lt seems to me that the machinery, not only of our own
Government but of other governments in the world as well, has moved remarkably slowly. Has the Minister any later information on bow we finally managed in that regard?
Item 17 in subdivision 2 of Division 250 - Administrative - relates to the Population Commission and the Ad Hoc Committee on Programmes on Demographic Aspects of Urbanisation in Sydney in 1967. I find that item rather intriguing. The Minister may be able to supply the answers to those questions. Later I will raise one or two other matters.
– I refer to the allocation of $745,000 for the courier service which is covered by item 05 in subdivision 2 of Division 250- Administrative. I asked a question about this matter about 6 months ago and was not very happy with the reply that 1 received. Does the courier service mentioned apply in Australia or does it apply in areas where there are not other forms of delivery or telephones? ls this a matter of security? Is it necessary for secret means of delivery to be adopted? What is the explanation? Item 08 relates to an appropriation of $45,000 for language tuition fees. Is the Department paying this amount of money to public servants to learn Asian languages or is the money being spent on people in other countries learning our language?
– I relate my remarks to item 06 - South Pacific Commission - in subdivision 4 of Division 250 - Administrative - and item 06 - South Pacific aid programme - in subdivision 5 of the same division. Without going into any great detail I ask the Minister whether some of the money to be appropriated for the aid programme could be devoted to the training of people who come to Australia from the South Pacific area. Why is it not possible to organise this in some way through the South Pacific Commission?
I am interested in the activities of the Commission. It is an organisation designed to draw together the people of the region in some form of common endeavour. As one who has spent a little time watching the operations of the Commission, I feel that we must support it a great deal more and try to make it a more united body doing more for the people of the region, or it may well become largely redundant. In its present form about 34% of total revenue goes into overheads. The trouble is that we have not given it enough work to do or sufficient funds to do the kind of work it could do in the interests of the people of the South Pacific.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business)
– 1 move:
That general business be postponed until after consideration of message No. 78 from the House of Representatives.
Perhaps I. should explain my purpose in moving this motion, having regard to the fact that this is general business night. It will be recalled that earlier today a message was received from the other place, after which 1 moved that consideration of the message be an order of the day for a later hour. In my view this is not so much a matter of Government business as of general business. It is a matter with which ali honourable senators are concerned. It seems to me that we should deal with it tonight and, if we can dispose of it tonight, wc can then proceed with other general business later in the evening. If I have the concurrence of the Senate, we shall proceed with a discussion of the resolution which was agreed to in the other place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– It will be recalled that some time ago in the Senate we debated the siting of the proposed new and permanent parliament house, and it will be recognised that on that occasion the discussion was on a non-Party basis. After what I thought was a good debate in which honourable senators stated their views a vote was taken strictly on the two sites that were then proposed - the lake site and the alternative site on Capital Hill. I had moved that the new and permanent parliament house should be on the lake site. A debate ensued and finally, consequent upon an amendment being moved, the Senate voted overwhelmingly against the lake site and in favour of the site on Capital Hill. In doing so the Senate dealt with the matter before it had been dealt with in the other place.
When the matter was debated in the other place it was again on a non-Party basis. Although a vote was not taken on the earlier occasion in the other place, initially most speakers were in favour of the Capital Hill site rather than the lake site. Whilst those who spoke in favour of Capital Hill did not form a majority so dramatic as was revealed in this place, nevertheless a considerable number favoured the Capital Hill site. Subsequently, when the matter was again debated in the other place, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) moved:
That this House is of the opinion that the new and permanent Parliament House should be situated on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area and that the matter be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report on the alternatives and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months.
This was the substance of the message received today in which the House of Representatives requested the concurrence of the Senate in referring this matter to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Let us not avoid the situation that whilst the Senate has expressed its view in favour of the Capital Hill site, it did so in a situation in which it was making its judgment in relation to that site or the alternative proposition, which was the lake site. The effect of the resolution agreed to in the other place was to impose a further consideration in a situation in which the other place would have been irrevocably resolved against the lake site. It was proposed by the Minister for the Interior that before finality was reached by the Parliament some consideration should be given to the original site advocated by Walter Burley Griffin, that being the Camp Hill site.
This is the proposition which has been referred by the other place to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House which was established in September 1967. So without inhibiting in any way the right of honourable senators to reaffirm, if they so desire, their preference for the Capital Hill site, the resolution to which I have referred will at least bring in a new element for consideration. While the Camp Hill site is being considered by the Joint Standing Committee, honourable senators also will have time, if they so desire, to reflect on the new proposition before being required finally to make a decision. So the first point I make is that the proposition that the Camp Hill area also be considered merely affords an opportunity to express a preference for either the Camp Hill site or the Capital Hill site, lt is proposed merely that the matter be referred to the Committee, which will no doubt take evidence and present a report, after which the matter will come back to Parliament. At that time the Parliament will give its final decision on the matter and have, shall we say, its moment of confrontation. I make it perfectly clear that by carrying the resolution which I am about to move the Senate does not finally determine the issue but leaves it open for further consideration. It is for that reason that I move:
Thai the Senate having considered message No. 78 of the House of Representatives concurs in the proposal by the House that the matter of alternative sites for the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months; and, that the foregoing resolution be forwarded to the House of Representatives by message.
Although 1 do not intend to speak for long on this motion 1 should perhaps canvass some of the points that were made by the Minister for the Interior who was responsible for this matter in the other place. 1 point out that the original submission made by Walter Burley Griffin in 1912 clearly stated that Camp Hill should be the site of the national Parliament. At page 5 of the Report Explanatory of the Preliminary General Plan of the Federal Capital by Walter Burley Griffin, he said that Kurrajong Hill - that is, Capital Hill - was deemed too large and too high for a convenient working organisation of Parliament. Griffin quoted from the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the erection of a provisional parliament house in Canberra and said:
I am emphatically of the opinion that the permanent structure should be on Camp Hill. 1 consider that to have been one of the earliest decisions, on which everything else was shaped.
– When was that said?
– That was said by Walter Burley Griffin in 1912 - a long time ago. In the same report Mr John Sulman, later Sir John Sulman, who was a noted architect of the day, was quoted as saying:
Mr Murdoch proposes in his sketch to put the provisional Parliament House on Camp Hill. That would make it no longer available for the carrying out of Mr Griffin’s scheme, which, on the whole, I think is the better one. It is the one part of Mr Griffin’s plan of which I, and my colleagues also, really cordially approve.
A reference was made by the Minister to the visit of Sir William Holford, as he was then, to Australia to give advice to the Government. That became part of the original debate in the Senate on the merits of the lakeside site, which has now been rejected. Sir William Holford vetoed the Camp Hill site because of the existence of the present Parliament House. Times have changed and I submit that ways and means can be found of incorporating this building in a new building. Alternatively, it could be demolished. When a new parliament house is erected it will be built to last perhaps for 200 or 300 years. Its life is uncertain, but certainly it will stand for a long time and will be monumental.
In support of the motion I have moved I submit that this Parliament should at least take the Burley Griffin plan into consideration before it makes a final decision on Capital Hill as the site. Parliament should be satisfied that at least consideration is given to the Camp Hill site so that it is acknowledged and appreciated or rejected. The report of the National Capital Development Commission in 1958 on Sir William Holford’s advice stated that the lakeside site was the only suitable site in the parliamentary triangle unless the present Parliament House were demolished. It is obvious that it was recognised in 1958 that the Camp Hill site was still viable in the Commission’s thinking but for the fact that a temporary parliament house had been erected. The Camp Hill site was eliminated from discussions by experts because of the existence of a provisional Parliament House. Consideration was given only to the Capital Hill and lakeside sites.
I think I have made the point quite clear that while both Houses of this Parliament have rejected the lakeside site, the purpose of the motion I have proposed is to keep all options open to enable honourable senators to study the possibility of the Camp Hill site as against the Capital Hill site. Then over a period of time, presumably of at least 3 months, the members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House would be able to put their minds to a study of the Camp Hill site. Both sides of each House are represented on the Committee. 1 am in a position to say that it has been agreed that I as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, shall be joined in that Committee to become a fundamental and vital factor in its discussions.
– Will the Minister remind us of who are the members of the Committee?
– The Chairman of the Committee is the President of the Senate. I find myself speaking against competition from the other side of the chamber.
– We think the Minister is in the wrong.
– I can understand that. would like to come back to that question in a moment. The Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent House was formed on 28th September 1967. The President of the Senate is its Chairman. Mr Speaker is the Deputy Chairman. The members are the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Senators Devitt, Drake-Brockman, McClelland and Dame Ivy Wedgwood, and Mr Barnard, Mr Birrell, Mr Bryant, Mr Drury, Mr Duthie. Mr Erwin, Mr Giles, Mr Luchetti and Mr Nixon.
– What about the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate?
– It has been agreed that the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate should be joined in the Committee for the purpose of this exercise. lt may be that some honourable senators have entered the chamber since I began my remarks at 8 o’clock. Perhaps I should traverse the ground again to make my posi tion quite clear. The Senate carried a resolution in favour of the Capital Hill site. The decision was made on the background of a discussion of the merits of the Capital Hill site and the lakeside site. The motion I have proposed is consistent with that decision. The resolution in respect of Capital Hill still exists and is not detracted from by the motion I have moved tonight. I am asking the Senate to agree to refer to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House the decision that has been taken in relation to the Camp Hill site. When that Committee has given the matter consideration, it will come back to the Parliament. The Parliament can then say whether it accepts or rejects the new situation and whether it adheres to Capital Hill as the preferred site.
Honourable senators opposite are interjecting but 1 want to get this point over to them. If my motion is accepted it will preserve for the Senate the right to consider the preferred site. I ask honourable senators who are interjecting to allow me to finish my remarks. I ask them not to bc difficult. We are discussing a matter of history. Before an irrevocable decision is taken the Government wants the Parliament and the Senate to have the satisfaction of giving consideration to the Camp Hill site in a way that it has not been considered before. The Government wants no more and no less than that. This is not a party issue. If the Senate does not have a will to take that course, all I can use is my persuasive power. If that is not good enough, so be it.
I suggest with great respect that my motion does nol inhibit the Senate, lt does not close the door. It gives to the Committee an opportunity to study the merits of the Camp Hill site. If the Committee rejects the Camp Hill site, at least consideration will have been given to the site considered by Burley Griffin at the outset as ideal, before the erection of the provisional Parliament House. For the reasons I have given I ask honourable senators not to consider this matter in terms of procedure but to remember that we are senators for the time being. In this year of grace we have the responsibility to determine with the other House the site for the future Parliament House of Australia. We do not want it ever to be said in history that we narrowed down our consideration of the sites and did not give at least some constructive consideration to the merits of the Camp Hill site.
– I rise to a point of order. I have listened very carefully to the explanation that has been given to us. I am not thinking of this matter along party lines. I have considered standing order 134 and I am wondering what is its application to our present situation. I would be quite happy if we could get over this stumbling block m order to give consideration to whether we should agree to the motion proposed by Senator Anderson. I am not saying that I am in favour of it. Standing order 134 provides, in part:
An order, resolution, or other vote of the Senate, may be rescinded; hat no such order, resolution or other vote may be rescinded during the same session, unless 7 days notice be given at at least one-half of the whole number of senators vote in favour of its rescission: . . .
Does not that standing order cover the situation in which we find ourselves at present?
– 1 wish to speak to the point of order. The Senate has already carried a resolution that the site of the new parliament house shall be on Capital Hill. To my mind, the passing of this motion would subvert the decision that we have already made. The Senate is being asked to refer a matter to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. What is that matter? It is not the matter on which the Senate has already decided. It is whether the new and permanent parliament house should be on Capital Hill or Camp Hill. The Committee will present a recommendation. That recommendation may or may not be in accordance with the decision already made by the Senate. Then the Senate will have either to agree or disagree with the recommendation of the Committee. If the Committee recommends Camp Hill and the Senate has already decided by 41 votes to 5. or something like that-
– By 42 votes to 6.
– The Senate has already decided by 42 votes to 6, give or take one or two votes. The fact is that the decision was made by a pretty substantial majority. In my view, if the Senate attempted to agree with the House of Repre sentatives and to do what the Hr use wants, it would be acting incorrectly. I do not want to be too hard, but as far as I am concerned this motion is a subterfuge. I may not be using that word in its true sense. This motion could mean that another decision would take the place of a decision that we have already made. It is true that the decision that we made was between Capital Hill and the lakeside. But that does not stop anyone in the House of Representatives saying in the future, if some people do not get their own way: ‘A committee should have a look at Capital Hill or Camp Hill in conjunction with some other place’. The plain fact is that the Senate has made a decision. Why should we now have before us a motion that seeks to get us to concur in a decision of the House of Representatives? I believe that the only thing the Senate can do is to say to the House of Representatives in the proper terms: ‘We have already made a decision. Our decision is that the new and permanent parliament house should be on Capital Hill.’ Therefore, I fail to see how the Senate can make a decision on the motion that is before it.
– I suggest to you, Mr Deputy President, that you should not uphold this point of order. It is a bad point of order. Standing order 134 deals with the rescission of votes or resolutions. There is no proposal before the Senate to rescind the resolution of the Senate.
– Would the honourable senator mind repeating that?
– I said that it is a bad point of order.
– Yes, I heard that.
– The reason is that there is no proposal before the Senate to rescind the resolution that the Senate made on the last occasion.
– But that is the ultimate aim of it.
– I do not care, and neither should the Senate care, what the ultimate aim might be. The ultimate aim may or may not be achieved. If I were to hazard a prophecy, I would say that it would not be achieved. But that is not the point. The point here is whether Senator Anderson’s motion is in order. It is in order because it does nol propose to rescind the decision of the Senate. The Senate made its decision. If this motion is carried the decision of the Senate will still stand. Until that decision is rescinded in accordance with the procedures it will stand, notwithstanding this motion which asks the Select Committee to reconsider the matter and to report back to the Senate and to the House of Representatives, f suggest to you, Mr Deputy President that it is quite clear that this motion is not a rescission of the resolution: that the motion, whether good or bad, is in order; and that you should over-rule the point of order.
– I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has stated the position pretty dearly. We are not being asked to rescind the motion which was carried previously and which, 1 might add, T voted against. 1 believe that on a subject as important as this one we should have all the information that is available and can be made available before a decision is made. Let me make my position perfectly clear. Were we to have a vote tonight on whether the new and permanent parliament house should be on Capital Hill or Camp Hill, I would vote for Capital Hill. But we did not have those alternatives before us when the matter was previously before us.
– Mr Deputy President, ] raise a point of order. The Minister, while trying to be helpful, is certainly not discussing the point of order. He is discussing the motion. I suggest that you ask him to confine his remarks to the point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- If the
Minister confines his remarks to the point of order he will be in order.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I will endeavour to do that. When I rose I said that in my view Senator Murphy had stated very clearly why the point of order should not be upheld. So I will not go beyond that, other than to say that I endorse his remarks.
– I support the point of order. It is all right for people to stand up here and say that the proposition before the Senate is not an attempt to do something against what the Senate has done previously. Let us look at the message that has been presented to the Senate. Firstly it says that the House of Representatives requests the concurrence of the Senate in referring the matter to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. The point, as I see it, is: What is to be referred to the Select Committee? The matter that is to be referred to it is whether the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill or in the Camp Hill area. Is that not a direct request to the Senate to vote against the resolution that it carried previously?
Government senators - No.
– Other people may be able to distinguish between the two propositions, but I cannot. We are being asked to refer something to the Select Committee. We must look at what we are being asked to refer to it. We are being asked to refer to it the matter of where the new and permanent parliament house should be. The Senate has already said thai it should be on Capital Hill. To draw in something else and refer it to the Select Committee is to readmit to the business of the Senate a matter on which the Senate has already made a determination. Surely in those circumstances there must be a notice of motion to readmit it or to recommit it, or there must be a motion to rescind the previous resolution. Standing order 134 must have effect in this context.
– On the point of order: The Standing Order upon which reliance is placed says that a resolution may be rescinded but no such resolution may be rescinded during the same session unless 7 days’ notice be given and at least one-half of the whole number of senators vote in favour of its rescission. I would submit that we are dealing with a decision which, although some people consider it of relative unimportance, this Parliament considers to be of prime importance, not merely for this lime but for many centuries. For my part I. believe that reflection upon that matter imposes upon all a duty of great objectivity. Let me here, with just a little calmness and - as usual from my point of view - deliberation-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I shall see you get that.
– I always rejoice in a jocular remark from the bench because if you laugh with the bench there is no better way of winning a case. But, of course, the decision to be made is on a point of order. We have reached the stage where everybody in a state of relaxed deliberation approaches the exact point of the ultimate decision not of the Senate alone but of Parliament as to the site of this edifice of democracy. I was thinking of the Yarra bank then for a moment - thinking of a far off time of long ago. We are considering a point of the greatest importance to Parliament. The other chamber has recommended that we extend our consideration beyond what we had before us the other night when we had only the alternative of the lake site or Capital Hill. I have introduced these few playful and prefatory remarks only to remind honourable senators that I was one who went on record as being in favour of Capital Hill against the lake site 10 or 12 years ago and would have brought this matter to decision but for the fact that the numbers fell away in the great hard sunshine that then prevailed. But now we have got to the stage where we as one unit of the Parliament have passed a resolution in favour of one of die only two alternatives that we had.
– What about the point of order?
– This is on the point of order. One always has to consider a technicality in its setting, and here we have to consider whether or not there is anything in Senator Anderson’s motion which is a proposal that our resolution for the Capital Hill site should be rescinded. Standing order 134 only deals with a proposition before this chamber for the rescission of a previous resolution. I say to honourable senators who are trying to interject that I am an excellent listener and a very untoward talker, and a timid one at that. If honourable senators remember our resolution it was on an amendment that we should go for Capital Hill but as an alternative to the lake. Now, I am happy to say, the lake is abjured of all men.
Senator Anderson, one of the six who voted for it, said h is no longer for consideration, and his motion refers to the House of Representatives having recorded an opinion that the new and permanent parliament house should be sited on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area. I was pleased to hear Senator Cant place great emphasis on the word ‘area’. That brings to our attention the fact that only the Capital Hill area and the Camp Hill area are now for consideration. Are we to do ourselves a disservice in the judgment of posterity by saying that we would not permit a committee - not necessarily the specific one - to consider this matter? Are we to do ourselves a disservice in the judgment of posterity by being considered as having closed our minds in favour of Capital Hill just because another alternative is not proposed?
– Mr Deputy President, I do not want to stop Senator Wright, but I ask for your guidance on this matter as to whether his observations are in fact directed to the point of order which you have been asked to rule on.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Chair has not called Senator Wright to order.
– If I have failed to penetrate the understanding of Senator Devitt, I shall persevere with a special direction.
– I resent the reflection which Senator Wright directs at me, Mr Deputy President. I merely asked you to rule as to whether Senator Wright was in fact directing his comments to standing order 134. Surely we are dealing with that standing order or we are not. If there is to be a debate on this matter it will ensue in due course, but surely the comments which any senator directs to the Chair at this stage must be in reference to the point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - If Senator Wright links his remarks with the point of order he will be in order.
– I was only referring to the well-known zeal of the sinner converted. We know that Senator Devitt voted for the lake site in this Committee.
– That is completely out of order and is completely incorrect.
– Mr Deputy President, I ask for a ruling on Senator Devitt’s point of order. On three occasions now you have ignored his point of order and you have called Senator Wright.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have already ruled and you are reflecting on my ruling.
– With very great respect, Mr Deputy President, you have not ruled and, wilh the greatest respect, I say that all you have done is ignored Senator Devitt and called on Senator Wright. All I want to hear is the ruling on Senator Devitt’s point of order. As I understand it. Senator Devitt has raised a point of order on the question of relevancy. I ask you to rule on Senator Devitt’s point of order that there is irrelevancy in the debating of the point of order. It- seems to me abundantly clear that Senator Wright is not dealing with the point of order. The point I put to you, Mr Deputy President, is that the Senate has a relevancy rule. I think Senator Devitt, very correctly, pointed out to you that Senator Wright is not dealing with the point of order but is debating goodness knows what, which is not very strange for Senator Wright. Nevertheless, he is not dealing with the point of order. All 1 ask you, Sir. is to rule on Senator Devitt’s point of order. If you rule in a certain way we have our right to move that your ruling be disagreed with. Until you make that ruling Senator Devitt and myself, and Senator Kennelly, on my left, who has been very vocal, will not be able to deal wilh it. All I ask is that you make a ruling. 1 suggest that, you consider seriously- the point of order raised by Senator Devitt. lt is abundantly clear that Senator Wright is not dealing with the point of order but is advancing argument. If you rule that Senator Wright is in order then Senator Devitt and I have the right, under the Standing Orders, to move that your ruling be disagreed with. Until you rule you put us in an, unfair position. I ask you, Sir, to deal firstly with the point of order raised by Senator Devitt about the relevancy rule. Is Senator Wright dealing with the point of order or is he not engaging in some abtruse sort of argument which none of us can follow? the DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Perhaps Senator Kennelly was more vocal than we thought because apparently Senator Willesee did not hear my first ruling. I said that the Chair would decide whether or not Senator Wright was out of order. Senator Devitt raised a further point of order and I said that if Senator Wright linked his remarks with the Standing Orders he would be in order.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. Senator Wright, in the course of his remarks, said that I had voted for the lakeside site. This is untrue. I ask Senator Wright to withdraw that remark.
– I am happy to withdraw if I am in error.
– The honourable senator was in error.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- 1 call Senator Wright and I ask him to link his remarks to the point of order.
– Standing order 1 34 provides that any resolution of the Senate may be rescinded. It then goes on to set out a certain manner in which it may bc rescinded. That standing order deals- only wilh the rescission of a resolution. I submit that there is nothing in Senator Anderson s proposal suggesting a resolution. His proposal has been put for the purpose of gaining the concurrence of the two Houses of Parliament to the effect that we join in a joint committee to consider a site, a third alternative, which was not before us when we made our decision as to one of two alternatives that were-then before -us. I am appealing to the objectivity of the Senate on this occasion and 1 ask it to lake the view that further inquiry is usually fruitful. I said in another context in this place: ‘There is none ever feared that the truth should be heard save them that the truth will indict’. The Senate should not be afraid that truth will prevail in favour of the Camp Hill area and in the view of a committee, if this inquiry is embarked upon. I am saying that if the other place wishes us to join in a joint inquiry for the purpose of getting information in the next 3 months to enable us to consider a third alternative, which was never before us, that is not a proposal for the rescission of a resolution but is acting in accordance with the traditions of the Parliament.
– I rise to order. Mr Deputy President. Are we discussing whether this resolution is in conflict with standing order 134? This is an appeal for another inquiry. Is that in accordance wilh standing order 134?
– 1 am pointing out that this is a different matter. The only thing prohibited by standing order 134 is a proposal to rescind our previous resolution. I am pointing out that Senator Anderson’s proposal does not have that purpose; it is a proposal for an inquiry from which we would gain information and a report. If a view was then taken in another place in favour of Camp Hill, we would decide whether to rescind our resolution favouring Capital Hill and whether we should agree wilh the other place. I am only trying to get the Parliament working in a sensible fashion and 1 am pointing out that standing order 134 prohibits only a proposal to rescind a previous resolution and does not prohibit a proposal to institute another inquiry and act upon a report.
– I think difficulty has arisen because of the terms of the resolution passed in another place. In that place no decision had been reached at the time this proposal was put forward. That is not the position in the Senate. 1 personally would regret it very much if this point of order were upheld although there may be technical warrant for upholding it. I cannot feel that in order to rescind a resolution a motion for rescission must be a specific proposition of rescission. Provided that it rescinds, in effect it may amount to a rescission in the terms of the Standing Orders. In place of the motion proposed by Senator Anderson I suggest a motion along somewhat different terms. In the course of addressing myself to this proposition on the point of order I would propound a motion in these terms:
The House of Representatives having transmitted to the Senate the following resolution which was agreed to by the House of Representatives this clay- and I would then recite the resolution - the Senate resolves that the matter of a new and permanent parliament house be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report on the relative merits of Capital Hill and Camp Hill and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months.
A resolution in such terms would not recite any attempted rescission of the previous decision of the Senate. It would allow that to stand and the Senate would then, to use Senator Wright’s term, concur in the suggestion of the House of Represenatives that the matter be referred back to the Joint
Select Committee to discuss the relative merits of the two sites. That would absolve the Senate from an attempt to rescind its own motion and yet would result in concurrence with the other place in the proposition it has put forward. I commend a resolution in those terms to the Leader of the Government as an alternative to the one which obviously is creating difficulties and may create an unsurmountable technical barrier.
– When the honourable senator read his proposed resolution did he mean to say a resolution as to the site of the new and permanent parliament house?
– Yes, that is what I meant. If I may, I shall read it again.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Byrne, 1 think you are drifting away from the point of order.
– Yes, Mr Deputy President. I addressed myself to the point of order at this stage so that I would have an opportunity to present my suggestion to the Government and so that the Government might act on it if it thought fit.
– Mr Deputy President, with very great respect to Senator Byrne, what he has said will be very relevant after we dispose of the point of order. He has been trying to correct the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) and, goodness knows, he needs correction. Referring to what the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) said. I would hate to be up on a traffic charge and have him defending mc. If we read this resolution it states:
That this House is of the opinion that a new and permanent Parliament House should be situated on Capital Hill or the-
– -‘Or the Camp Hill area’.
– I will read the rest of the resolution if the honourable senator will listen to me. The point is that I was reading the first part of the resolution. Surely the Senate has agreed with it and has agreed that the new and permanent parliament house should be on Capital Hill. Senator Wright went on to say that there is a third alternative. This is not so. The position is that the first thing that this resolution of the House of Representatives does is to ask us to backtrack on the very thing we have done. What amazes me, Mr Deputy President, is that the Standing
Orders are very sacred to the Government only when the occasion suits. Let us examine standing order 134, to which Senator Wilkinson has referred. It states:
An Order, Resolution, or other Vote of the Senate, may be rescinded; but no such Order, Resolution, or other Vote may be rescinded during the same session, unless seven days’ Notice be given
I would like a Government supporter to explain to me why the Government does not agree to give 7 days’ notice as that standing order requires? Is it because the Government wishes to commence building the new and permanent parliament house within the next 7 days? Surely even Senator Wright, who is a barrister, would not put an argument as weak as that to a court in Tasmania. Why does the Government not comply with standing order 134 and give 7 days’ notice? I do not think that any case can be put against Senator Wilkinson’s argument in relation to standing order 134. Senator Wright has tried to argue that black is white. He is trying to argue that by accepting Senator Anderson’s motion the Senate will not be rescinding a decision that has been carried. Why does the Government not want to give 7 days’ notice? Of course, this is a perfect example of the behaviour of people in power. When they are defeated on one point, instead of accepting the decision they resort to Marxist dialectics. If you want black and they want white, rather than be beaten they introduce green, red or blue to confuse the issue. Mr Deputy President, I put it to you that there is no point of order, however Senator Wright may try to argue that black is white. It is within the competence and power of the Government to move a rescision motion if it gives 7 days’ notice. The only reason it does not follow this course is because it is power drunk.
– I am intrigued with Senator Willesee’* proposition because the motion that I have moved does not in fact contain the ingredients of a rescision of the resolution of the Senate. What Senator Willesee argues ls that the Government should give 7 days’ notice to rescind the Senate’s resolution. Of course, it is not the intention of the motion that I have moved to rescind the Senate’s resolution. I do not think that this is an occasion to be rude to one another. It is very easy and smart to take side swipes at people, but I hope that the Senate can resolve the point of order without resorting to such behaviour. With great respect to you, Mr Deputy President, I think the simple solution here is for you, having heard the points of view that have been expressed, to give a ruling. I will restate my motion in the hope that this course will be followed. I will read it slowly because most honourable senators seem to be arguing a point of order in regard to the message from the other place and not on my motion. The motion I moved was:
That the Senate having considered message No. 78 of the House of Representatives concurs in the proposal by the House that the matter of alternative sites for the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months; and, that the foregoing resolution be forwarded to the House of Representatives by message.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I think the Chair has heard enough to make a decision on Senator Wilkinson’s point of order.
– I ask you to bear with me for one moment, Mr Deputy President. I have been accused of having voted in a way in which I did not vote.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You must link your remarks to the point of order.
– Can I put a simple proposition to the Chair and ask you to rule on it. Mr Deputy President? Standing order 134 states:
An Order, Resolution, or other Vote of the Senate-
As a simple, ordinary member of Parliament I was under the impression that the decision taken in the Senate on the new and permanent parliament house, by 42 votes to 6, was a vote of the Senate. Would you tell me whether that was in fact a vote of the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I will rule on Senator Wilkinson’s point of order. I rule that Senator Anderson’s motion does not seek to amend or modify the previous resolution of the Senate. Rather does it afford an opportunity for the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House to make a further recommendation to both Houses. When that Committee’s report is available the Senate can reconsider ils previous resolution as it sees fit. For those reasons, the point of order is not upheld.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Has the honourable senator put the motion in writing?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is the motion seconded?
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the motion of dissent from the ruling of the Deputy President requires immediate determination.
– I thank the Senate for adopting this course. I do not think that the matter should stand over to the next day. I always hesitate to move a dissent from a ruling of the Presiding Officer. 1 regret that it is on a matter such as the siting of the new and permanent parliament house. 1 am afraid that it is one of the quirks of politics that relatively unimportant matters sometimes receive great prominence while the more important matters are forced down the line. Frankly, I do not really care where the new and permanent parliament house is erected. But the fact is that the motion moved by Senator Anderson is in direct conflict with a resolution of the Senate. The Senate has voted in favour of the new building being situated on Capital Hill. It seems to me-
– I rise to order. I thought that the motion was that the matter be decided forthwith. With great respect to Senator Willesee, he is canvassing the very point on which I was called to order. I suggest that he has strayed from the motion he moved. The motion was put in writing. It was a motion to dissent from the ruling of the Deputy President. The feeling of the Senate, as I understood it, was that that should be determined forthwith.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Senator Willesee is discussing the question of dissent. The point of order is not upheld.
– As 1 see it, the House of Representatives is trying to ask us to reverse a decision that we have made, whether that decision be right or wrong. 1 think the point of order raised by Senator Wilkinson, which the Deputy President ruled out of order and from which ruling 1 have moved dissent, is so clear that I fail to see how it is at all arguable. 1 do not want to canvass the matter any further. I think that some kind of determination on the part of the Government, thai whatever may happen its wishes will be carried out, has crept into the debate. The Government may be right. 1 do not know. An essential part of the Parliament, the Senate, has made a decision. The only way in which the decision can be. rescinded - and the Standing Orders, this great archaic document, at least enshrines that principle - is by the giving of 7 days’ notice. For some reason that escapes me, the Government does not want to give 7 days’ notice. Therefore it does not want to go on with the matter. I suggest to honourable senators, forgetting all party lines, that if they want to uphold the Standing Orders there is only one way they can vote and that is that the Deputy President’s ruling is completely wrong.
– Tonight the Senate has heard quite a debate on the motion. 1 advise Senator Willesee that when the Deputy President ruled on the point of order he was upholding a recommendation that was put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) when he spoke on the point of order taken by Senator Wilkinson. That point of order was taken in relation to a situation in which, as Senator Willesee claimed, the Senate should rescind a motion on its vote that the site for the permanent parliament house should be on Capital Hill when in fact at that stage that point had not arisen. The House of Representatives has transmitted to the Senate a proposal which states quite clearly that that House is of the opinion that the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill - and I go a little further than Senator Willesee - or on Camp Hill. Two sites are involved. Some weeks ago the Senate debated the two sites that were available to us then, Capital Hill and the lakeside. By an overwhelming majority the Senate decided that the site for the new and permanent parliament house should be on Capital Hill. The present proposal, which has been forwarded to us from another place, asks the Senate to approve of a resolution suggesting that the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, which has been appointed already, shall have referred to it the question of another site, the Camp Hill area.I do not know why honourable senators have spoken about standing order 134.
– What is the Camp Hill area?
– The Camp Hill area is an area around Camp Hill. I should have thought that the honourable senator would have been fully aware of this. The motive for the honourable senator’s interjection is that he believes that the Government is anxious to have another bite at the cherry and in fact put it over the Senate by having the Select Committee examine the sites and make » recommendation which could be in favour of the lakeside.
– Who said that?
– That is what you are saying.
– If I said that, I am sorry.
– I thought you were implying it. Tonight in the debate one or two speakers said quite specifically that the Government has this idea at the back of its mind. This was contradicted by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) in another place. Before the vote was taken there he said that when the vote was taken he would vote for the lakeside and if that vote was defeated he would then move an amendment so that the present Select Committee could decide whether the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on the Capital Hill site or in the Camp Hill area.
– What about Red Hill? Why not bring that in also?
– I do not want to talk about that and I do not want any further interjections while I am speaking. The two sites available for examination by the
Committee are the Camp Hill area and Capital Hill.I am sure that the majority of honourable senators agree with that. The Senate is not committed to rescind any motion but is being asked to allow further examination by the Select Committee of the two sites. The Select Committee will recommend one of the two sites before it. Then the Senate will decide whether or not it will agree to the proposition of the Select Committee. If the Select Committee, in its wisdom, decides that it wants the new and permanent parliament house to be sited in the Camp Hill area there will be an opportunity to rescind the motion then. If the Select Committee, with all the advice available to it, supports the Capital Hill site, there will be no need for a rescission of the motion.
– I support the ruling of the Deputy President. That ruling is that the motion which has been moved by Senator Anderson does not amount to a motion for rescision within the meaning of standing order 134. The suggestion is that to carry this motion would be to rescind a resolution which the Senate has passed. As honourable senators will recall, I had the honour of moving the amendment which was supported heavily in the Senate and carried by 42 votes to 6. That amendment became a firm resolution that the site of the new and permanent parliament house be on Capital Hill.
If there were any proposal to rescind that resolution I think that certainly at this stages -I do not know whether it will ever be reconsidered - it would be overwhelmingly defeated. But we have a situation here, if honourable senators will examine it, where the House of Representatives has not agreed entirely with the Senate. The House of Representatives has left open the possibility of another site. How are the two Houses to be brought into coincidence? Somehow or other the two Houses need to be brought into coincidence.
We who voted for the Capital Hill site hope, trust and are confident that the two Houses will be brought into coincidence in deciding for Capital Hill. But how is it to be done? Is there to be a conference of managers? Or is there to be some other proposal? The House of Representatives has requested us to agree with its proposition that the Committee consider something and come up with a report. We have the vehicle whereby those of us who believe that Capita] Hill is the right site can bring the House of Representatives into coincidence with us. If this goes back to the Committee, it will go back with the knowledge that the Senate has passed a resolution saying that in its opinion the site should be on Capital Hill. The Committee also will have the resolution of the House of Representatives which in substance says: ‘The House thinks it should be Capital Hill or Camp Hill’. 1 might remind honourable senators that our colleagues in the House of Representatives - by ‘colleagues’ I mean those in the House of Representatives who voted for Capital Hill - did not oppose by division this proposition which was put forward in the House of Representatives. The majority there who were in favour of Capital Hill apparently saw this method as a convenient vehicle for bringing the two Houses into coincidence. This is the proper way of doing it. Why should we not send it back to the Committee with the decision of the Senate which stands, and stands firm?
This brings us to the kernel of the matter, lt will go back to the Committee. The Committee will know there is a resolution of the Senate that we of the Senate are of the opinion that the site should be on Capital Hill. That will be taken into consideration. When we examine this background, does it nol become obvious to all that what we do if we carry this motion is nol to rescind what we have already done? Surely honourable senators will see the wisdom of using this vehicle - of bringing the two Houses into coincidence. Is it not crystal clear that by doing this we are not rescinding the vote which the Senate has already taken? Wisdom apart, that is the only point in the point of order.
It is my suggestion to honourable senators that this is a matter for freedom of vote. I speak here not as Leader of the Opposition but simply as a senator who had the honour of moving the amendment which became the resolution. That resolution of the Senate will still stand and I submit that this is a convenient vehicle for achieving the coincidence of the House. In any event, the proposal which has been made - I do concede that there may be some slight modifica tion of it which might improve it but that is not a matter which goes to the question of its validity - does not amount to a rescimon of the previous resolution and the ruling of the Deputy President should be upheld because it is correct.
– 1 agree with those who contend that the Deputy President’s ruling is not in order. 1 have listened very carefully to the arguments that have come from both sides of the Chamber. With great respect to our legal friend, Senator Murphy, 1 say that he has not argued about the validity of the point of order. He has put forward a case for getting the two Houses into coincidence. This has been the subject of his argument.
Surely the kernel of the matter is whether or nol, by carrying the suggested motion, we are doing something in conflict with a previous resolution. We in the Senate have decided by an overwhelming vole in favour of placing the new parliament house on Capital Hill, in my bumble opinion, if we now consider the proposal before us we are in effect doing something completely different. We are handing over to a select committee consideration of the two propositions before us - Capital Hill and Camp Hill. Surely this is a new decision.
– We are not making a decision.
– We are not making a decision about the site. We have already made a decision about the site. But now we are asked lo take another attitude. Wc are asked to accept that there may be an alternative. Surely it is necessary for us to clear the air so that the committee may approach the mailer unfettered by a resolution of the Senate. How can any committee which is asked to make this decision not have regard to the overwhelming vote of the Senate? How can it consider the two sites on their merits? lt must surely ignore the decision of the Senate. I think that Senator Murphy’s argument is of no consequence because if we do in fact rescind the resolution we will assist the effort to bring the two Houses into line. I do not think Senator Murphy’s argument is at all applicable to (he issue before the Senate and I disagree with the Deputy President’s ruling.
– I feel that this matter can be simply resolved because it hinges on a very simple issue. We have made a decision on a proposition and the honourable gentlemen in another place have made a decision that is parallel to but not identical with the decision we have made. Let us presume to make clear to those who are confused that they have made a decision which is directly contrary to the decision of this chamber and that their resolution did not contain, as part of their decision, that portion with which we agree - in other words, that their resolution, which came to us, said that they favoured Camp Hill and not Capital Hill. Would it not be perfectly reasonable for them to request us to agree that the alternatives - Camp Hill, in favour of which they decided, and Capital Hill, in favour of which we decided - should go to the Joint Select Committee? Would we be rescinding our decision for Capital Hill if we agreed that that decision should go to the Joint Select Committee? Of course we would not. We would be agreeing merely that the decision of the House of Representatives and our own decision, which are in direct conflict, should go to the Joint Select Committee for a further recommendation to us. If in those circumstances we were to rescind the decision we have made already we would destroy the position we have taken. However, because the House of Representatives has not made a completely negative decision but one that is partially parallel with the decision we have made, the objection is raised that for us to agree that that decision of the House of Representatives, together with our decision, should go to the Joint Select Committee necessarily obligates us to rescind the decision that we have made.
Those reasons are not valid, and therefore the ruling of the Deputy President that this point of order should not be upheld is a valid ruling. I challenge those members of the Senate who have become befogged in the legalities that have been introduced, and the arguments that revolve around a decision now far gone about a lake that is here somewhere, to refute my statement. The legalities and the arguments have nothing at all to do with this. They concentrate on the wrong point. The proposal that has been sent to us from another place does not seek to strike out the words ‘on Capital Hill’. There is nothing to prevent us from carrying a resolution concurring in the proposition that the alternatives- there are only two, Camp Hill and the Senate’s decision in favour of Capital Hill - should go to the Joint Select Committee, which would report to us in due course. Seeing that the decision of another place does not conflict directly with the decision we have made, we have no choice but to agree with that proposal. As I said at the outset, let us resolve the simple point at issue and support the Deputy President, because he has dealt with the matter correctly.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I ask for elucidation on the precise matter on which the Senate is asked to express its opinion. When I spoke previously I did not have before me the motion proposed by Senator Anderson and which has now been circulated. It states:
That the Senate, having considered Message No. 78 of the House of Representatives, concurs in the Proposal by the House that the matter of alternative sites … be referred. . . .
The point on which I am seeking clarification is this: Are we asked to accept the proposal by the House of Representatives that the matter be referred or are we asked to adopt the reasons which prompted the House of Representatives to make such a reference? This conflict arises only between our former decision and what we now may do if, in addition, we are asked to support and adopt the reasons which prompted the House of Representatives. Of course those reasons are contained in the resolution passed by the House and which have been transmitted by message, but the motion proposed by Senator Anderson does not ask us to adopt those reasons; it merely asks us to support a course of action. We may do that for totally different reasons and without agreeing that Capital Hill or Camp Hill should be the site. We may want the whole matter looked at for reasons good and sufficient to ourselves. If the Chair rules that we are asked merely to refer this matter to the Joint Select Committee, having considered the message from the House of Representatives, but by that not necessarily adopting the reasons which prompted the House so to resolve and so to transmit, then the difficulty in this chamber will be completely resolved.
– Order! Only the relevant matters under notice were referred to the Senate. The point of order you have raised, Senator Byrne, is really not relevant because we are dealing with a question of dissent. Without going into the matter myself in any way, I think it is clear that we have been asked to discuss the alternative sites.
– With respect, we are asked to give our minds to the question of dissent. That arises only if we in fact depart, or purport to depart, from a resolution previously carried. That position can arise only-
– 1 raise a point of order, Mr President. This is the third time that Senator Byrne has addressed the Chair on the same point of order. He starts by asking questions and then goes on to argue the case.
– Order! lt is not for you, Senator Willesee, to tell Senator Byrne how he should behave himself. It is for me to control him, not you.
– With great respect. Mr President, you always allow us to direct your attention to the Standing Orders and I direct your attention-
– Thank you for bringing them to my attention.
– I do not want to propose another motion of dissent from a ruling on the one night.
– I am speaking first of all to the motion of dissent. I was seeking elucidation from the Chair-
– The election business did a lot for the DLP.
– Order! That has nothing to do with the subject before the Senate.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Byrne did not get the call from the Chair for the purpose of speaking to the motion of dissent.
– What are you speaking to now?
– I am saying that Senator Byrne was given privilege over other honourable senators for the purpose of raising a point of order. Now he claims he is speaking to the motion of dissent.
– I did nol claim I was speaking to the motion of dissent. Originally I rose in relation to the motion of dissent to ask for clarification by the Chair on whether in fact there was substance for the motion of dissent - whether the Senate was being asked to depart from a previous decision. I asked the Chair to rule whether the motion required us to adopt the resolution of the House of Representatives, which may have been a departure from our previous decision, or merely to adopt the action of the House in referring the matter to the Joint Select Committee which would not involve abandonment of our previous decision. I ask whether in fact there is any substance for the motion of dissent which now has been presented by Senator Willesee.
– 1 do not propose to give a ruling on this matter because there is already a motion before the Senate. I advise the House to go, as soon as it wishes, to the motion of dissent from the ruling of the Deputy President. 1 think if the Senate resolves that question we will make some progress.
– I raise a point of order, Mr President, and ask for your ruling. When is this matter to be determined? You came into the Chair at the point at which the Deputy President’s ruling was being dissented from.
– Are you seeking my advice?
– I would advise the Senate to determine it immediately.
– Is that your intention?
– Yes, that is my intention.
– Mr President, I direct your attention to standing order 429 which is in these terms:
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once and, in writing, and Motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and Debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without Debate, that the Question requires immediate determination.
I propose to move for rescission of the motion and also that the debate be adjourned to the next day of sitting.
-I point out to the honourable senator that he would achieve the same result if the Senate were to go to a vote now.
– Not necessarily.
– I am prepared to put that motion.
– I shall move that the motion be rescinded and that the debate be adjourned to the next day of sitting.
– Is the honourable senator seeking a rescission of the motion that the matter be determined forthwith?
– Yes, I am moving that there be a rescission of that motion and, after that has been carried, I propose to move that the debate be adjourned.
– I point out to the honourable senator that he can move that motion only by leave.
– Then I ask for leave to move a motion.
– Is leave granted?
Honourable senators - No.
– Leave is not granted. I call Senator Greenwood.
– I do not think it redounds in any objective consideration to the credit ofthe Senate that time has been taken in the way that it has been taken in regard to these matters. This is the second time on which the issue of the siting of the new and permanent parliament house has come beforethe Senate. On each occasion what has been involved has been some consideration of the Standing Orders, and for some 2 or 3 hours on each occasion the Senate has been engrossed with the technicalities of the Standing Orders. Tonight is no exception. I suggest that when the Standing Orders are brought before the Senate for examination and determination the issue of the Standing Orders should be looked at quite apart from the context in which that issue arises. Matters of whether or not it is convenient and desirable for the issue of the siting of the new and permanent parliament house to be now considered are irrelevant to the issue of whether or not the point taken under the standing order is valid. I suggest with respect that many of the arguments which have been raised tonight on the motion of dissent from the Deputy President’s ruling have ignored the essence of the standing order which is under challenge.
If I might address myself to the position as I see it, there is a standing order to which no reference has so far been made. I refer to standing order 337, which states:
Every Message from the House of Representatives shall be received, if the Senate is sitting, at the Bar by a Clerk at the Table, and, if the Senate is not sitting, by the Clerk of the Senate, and shall be reported by the President as early as convenient, and a future time named for its consideration; or it may, by leave, be dealt with at once.
It would appear to me, this message having been received from the House of Representatives, that standing order 134 ought not reasonably to have been applied because standing order 337 would suggest that the Senate could deal with the message at a future time named by the Senate and it would not matter whether or not 7 days’ notice had been given. I suggest that the evidence of the way in which this has come before the Senate indicates that it could not be dealt with at once unless every honourable senator concurred. Those who took the point of order obviously are not concurring in the proposition that we deal with this matter at the present time. Therefore it becomes a matter as to whether standing order 134 has any application. I suggest that the relevant standing order is 337, and if the Senate had named a time for the consideration of this matter it would have been proper for the Senate to have dealt with it later this day, tomorrow or at any other time. But that has not been done.
– It has.
– That was done when it was introduced.
– I am endeavouring, with some assistance.I sense, to determine whether or not that has been done. As I understand what has been done, a resolution has been moved, that resolution being that the Senate, having considered message No. 78 of the House of Representatives, concurs in a proposal by the House that the matter of alternative sites for the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months, and that the foregoing resolution be forwarded to the House of Representatives by message.
– I assume that that is the only resolution, but having regard to what Senator Wright and Senator Scott arc suggesting to me by way of interjection, if there has been another resolution 1 would express the view that, if that earlier resolution nominated a time, within standing order 337 that was a proper exercise by the Senate of its powers and no question arises under standing order 134. If standing order 134 is applicable, I would feel in my judgment that what Senator Willesee has said is correct, but I should think that that is not the relevant issue; the relevant issue is whether under standing order 337 the Senate has named a future time for the consideration of this matter. I trust that I am not trespassing on the Deputy President’s reasons for his rulings, but if the Senate has named a future time for the consideration of this matter then irrespective of whether or not the Deputy President adverted to these matters he might have been right for the wrong reasons. I suggest for the consideration of the Senate - because it is only the Senate which can rule on this - that if the earlier resolution did, within standing order 337, nominate a time at which this was to be considered, the Senate has acted properly. Mr President, I do not know whether you can inform me at this stage, without my losing my opportunity to continue my remarks, whether I am wrong in my assumption.
– -Order! Is leave granted for Senator Greenwood to continue his remarks?
– Leave is not granted. I point out to Senator Greenwood that in my opinion his remarks in regard to standing order 337 may have academic value but they have no validity in dealing with the responsible business of the Senate.
– Mr President, accepting your ruling that standing order 337 has nothing whatever to with with what I have been putting forward-
– Order! I have heard the honourable senator. I cannot give htm another call.
– I asked to be allowed to advert to the particular point in the light of whether or not standing order 337 has relevance. I have been heard on that point and I accept your ruling that the standing order has no relevance. I have not addressed myself to the aspect of whether standing order 134 has any application and I desire to be heard on that. If you, Mr President, say that I am not entitled to do so, again I accept your ruling, but I would ask at this stage whether I am entitled to address myself to standing order 134.
– I suppose that the honourable senator is entitled to address his remarks to the question of the motion of dissent. That is in order, but there is no point in canvassing standing order 337 because it does not apply.
– I accept. Mr President, that you say that standing order 337 does nol apply. I turn to standing order 1 34 on the basis that it is relevant.
– Look at standing order 415.
– I have already looked at something other than standing order 134 and I do not think I will look any further. As I understand the position, a point of order is being taken upon standing order 134, which states that no vote of the Senate may be rescinded unless 7 days notice is given, except in particular circumstances. On 22nd August the Senate resolved-
– By vote.
– It was clearly a vote of the Senate. I recall that a vote was taken. It was resolved:
That the Senate is of the opinion that the nev/ and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill.
Thereafter the opinion of the Senate could be stated clearly and specifically to be that the new Parliament House should ba situated on Capital Hill. Surely a lest- and I think it is the crucial test - of whether the resolution has been rescinded is whether, after a second resolution has been carried, it can be said with the same certainty and decisiveness that it is the Senate’s opinion that the new Parliament House should be on Capital Hill. I believe that if the motion proposed by Senator Anderson were carried, it could not be properly said thereafter that it is the Senate’s opinion that the new parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill because we would have placed the matter in a sphere of inquiry and report.
For those reasons I believe that the point taken by Senator Willesee carries conviction. I appreciate that on any legal point there must be differences of opinion. I have checked the meaning of the word ‘rescission’ as given in a dictionary. It means the action of abrogating or annulling, the. action of wiping out, the action of-
– Cutting or pruning.
– The action of cutting off, bringing to an end that which previously existed. 1 feel that once it is decided that we accept, in the language of Senator Anderson’s motion, a proposal of the House of Representatives that alternative sites be considered and reported upon, we are, as it were, putting ourselves in the position of a person who has an open mind for the future, whereas we have determined conclusively that the site is to be Capital Hill. That view would lead me to the opinion that this motion is in effect a rescission motion; it proposes, not an express rescission, but an implied rescission - as so many rescissions are - of the earlier decision.
In my view that the Standing Orders ought to be upheld where the issue is taken as to whether or not they apply, I believe that if this matter is taken to a vote, regretfully I will not support the ruling of the Deputy President.
– It is very fortunate that we have a free vote on this question. I think we should exercise it with intelligence as it reflects upon our Standing Orders. We are asked to decide whether there has been a breach of Standing Orders. As Senator Greenwood has just said, the Senate decided previously that the site of the future parliament house should be on Capital Hill. Any alteration of that decision must be made in accordance with the terms of standing order 134. That point has not been disputed. Tonight Senator Anderson has moved a motion which accords with a decision of the House of Representatives. Senator Wilkinson has questioned whether that motion breaches the terms of standing order 134. The Deputy President has ruled that it does not. We are now considering whether the ruling of the Deputy President is in order.
Each honourable senator has a responsibility not to study personalities or the location of the new parliament house, but the question of whether the ruling is correct. I have already stated that in seeking to rescind a previous decision standing order 134 must be complied with. Standing order 134 requires that 7 days notice be given. I turn to a study of the wording of Senator Anderson’s resolution in order to determine whether it constitutes a rescission of a previous decision of the Senate. The proposed motion states, in part:
Surely a motion requesting that the matter be referred to the Committee does not involve on our part an alteration of opinion. It is more a matter of seeking support for our opinion from the Committee to which we are asked to refer the question.
– lt could be so interpreted.
– The motion does not stale that an altered opinion is sought. As there is disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament, there is no general agreement and there is no decision of the Parliament. The Senate has one view, the other place has another view, lt is suggested by the other place that two sites should be considered. We are asked to refer the matter to the Committee in the hope that it will reinforce our decision on the Capital Hill site. That is the intention of the motion proposed by Senator Anderson. If the Committee did not reinforce our decision we would have to consider the effect of our difference of opinion with the other place. We would need to consider whether we should rescind our resolution. If that decision were taken it would be necessary to give 7 days notice in accordance with standing order 134, but at this stage there is no question of rescission.
– We would weaken our case if we rescinded our resolution at this stage.
– We would weaken our case. The whole point is that the Deputy President has ruled that at this stage there is no breach of standing order 134 and therefore there is no necessity for 7 days notice. If honourable senators who are over-keen on the Capital Hill site believe that the motion proposed tonight seeks to weaken a definite decision of the Senate, an examination of the wording of the motion will not provide any support for that belief. I think it is preferable to uphold our position and te claim that the motion seeks to reinforce the position of the Senate and to weaken the position of the other place, rather than to seek a retraction upon our part.
– That is a complete rationalisation.
– I had intended to say that I had the honour to oppose the view that Senator Prowse expressed. The whole question is not where the new and permanent parliament bouse should be or whether a committee should consider the matter; it is whether the motion moved by Senator Anderson is in breach of standing order 134. The Deputy President has ruled that it is not; some members of the Senate believe that it is.
– lt refers the matter to a committee.
– I think Senator Greenwood wants to play politics on this question. He sees that some questions may arise in relation to the attitude that has been taken in some sections of the Parliament. The question is whether he can use his legal knowledge to say that reference of this matter for report by a committee that could bring down a decision supporting our previous decision is a rescission of that previous decision. He cannot say that. There is no logic for saying that. He knows that his whole training defeats the argument that he has just presented to the Senate.
– I do not know that.
– He knows that, and if he were honest with himself he would admit it. The acceptance of Senator Anderson’s motion does not constitute a breach of standing order 134. Therefore I say that the Deputy President’s ruling on this matter should be upheld.
Senator FITZGERALD (New South
Wales) [9.52] - For the last hour we have been debating whether the ruling of the
Deputy President should or should not be upheld. I move:
– May I intercede to say that 1 want a vote on this matter as quickly as anybody does, but I do not think the question is one that shoul’d be resolved by the use of the gag. 1 do not want to have a division on Senator Fitzgerald’s motion. I ask that it be withdrawn and that we then come to a vote as quickly as possible.
– Senator Fitzgerald, are you prepared to withdraw your motion?
– Yes, I will withdraw it.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
– I agree in principle with what Senator Greenwood has said. I refer to the message that was transmitted from this place to the House of Representatives. As set out on page 604 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 27th August, it reads:
That the Senate is of the opinion that the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill.
It did not say: ‘ . . . if a select committee, a joint committee or any other committee decides that that is a better place than Camp Hill’. There were not any ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. It was quite clear. It said that the opinion of the Senate was that the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill.
The motion that Senator Anderson has moved says that the Senate, having considered message No. 78 of the House of Representatives, concurs in the proposal that the matter of alternative sites for the new and permanent parliament house - namely Capital Hill and the Camp Hill area - be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. I would have thought that that represented a clear negativing of the intention of the resolution which was agreed to by this place and forwarded to the House of Representatives, lt was the clearest possible resolution that this place was of the opinion that there was only one site for the new and permanent parliament .louse and that that one site was Capital Hill. Now we are asked to consider alternative sites, or at least to ask another body to consider alternative sites.
As Senator Greenwood has already said in general terms, ‘rescission’ is defined in the ‘New Elizabethan Reference Dictionary’ as ‘the act of cutting back or pruning’. There are similar definitions in the various other dictionaries. As Senator Wright is shaking his head, 1 call in aid the seventeenth edition of Erskine May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’, which may carry more weight with him. At page 413 it states:
Attempts to reverse or override resolutions or orders by proposing new questions which seek to nullify a previous decision may. without actually proposing the same question, amount to an indirect form of rescission. The rejection of a bill by a decision on a reasoned amendment directed against certain of its provisions has been held to prevent the insertion in another bill of the provisions objected to by the reasoned amendment, even though the words of the reasoned amendment had not been added to the question on the rejected bill.
With regard to the whole mailer it may be mated generally that the reason why motions for open rescission are so rare and why me rules of procedure carefully guard against the indirect rescission of votes is that both Houses instinctively realise, as a precedent referred to above shows, that parliamentary government requires the majority to abide by a decision regularly -come to, however unexpected, and that it is unfair to resort to methods, whether direct or indirect, to reverse such a decision.
J ask this chamber to adhere to the words of May by refusing to override the decision that has been come to by a majority. If, as I hope and trust will happen, this matter is brought before this chamber again on notice, no doubt Senator Greenwood and I. being consistent wilh previous opinions held, will do what appears appropriate and what we did last time - or would have done had we been present.
– Does the honourable senator seriously see a conflict between Senator Anderson’s motion and the previous resolution?
– I see the very clearest conflict. Last time there was a clear decision. I have quoted it already, but I will refer to it again. It says that the Senate is of the opinion that the Capital Hill site is to be preferred.
– What are we now being asked to do?
– We are now being asked to reconsider the whole matter and to reopen it. We are now being asked to refer the matter to a body which will then make a recommendation in relation to the alternative sites of Capital Hill and Camp Hill. In conclusion I refer again to Senator Anderson’s motion, which includes the words ‘alternative sites’. There was no room for alternative sites in the previous resolution of this place. Senator Anderson’s motion requires us to consider alternative sites.
– Would not the honourable senator agree that the Joint Select Committee, not the Senate, is being asked to review the situation and that we will make our decision afterwards?
– People say that lawyers are devious. All I can say is that that is being devious in the extreme. I urge that the Deputy President’s ruling be dissented from and that the notice required be given.
– I wish to make a personal explanation in regard to what has just been said. I believe that I have been misrepresented. At the outset, when moving the substantive motion, I said that it was not a rescission of the previous resolution of the Senate. 1 said that not once but three or four times, as I recall.
– But it is still a rescission, whatever the Minister says.
– -If there is any doubt about it, when we get to the substantive motion I will be prepared to add to it words that will spell that out even more categorically than it is spelt out at the present time.
– Don’t wriggle.
– Mr President. I object to the remark just made by Senator Willesee. It is wholly offensive to me. I ask that he be asked to withdraw it without reservation.
– Senator Willesee. you will withdraw those words.
– Yes; I will tell him–
– No, you will not. You will withdraw those words without reservation,
-I am saying that I will withdraw the words–
– Order! That is all I want to hear.
– . . . the words don’t wriggle’. Is that satisfactory?
– That is allI want to hear.
– He can wriggle.
– I beg your pardon?
- Senator Willesee, what did you say at the finish?
– I said: ‘He can wriggle’.
– Order! You will withdraw those words as well. You will not add to your offence by adding further words. You will withdraw the words you have used.
-I withdraw the words Don’t wriggle’ and I withdraw the words He can wriggle’.
– I think it is a shame that this debate has proceeded like this tonight. 1 would have thought that in the circumstances as we know them there would have been no rush to make a decision on this matter. Quite frankly,I am not against the reference to this Committee.I think the Committee has a proper role to play in this matter and that it is competent to make a proper decision based on ail the facts available to it on the best site for the new and permanent parliament house.
I have no argument with that at all, but earlier in this debate 1 raised a question as to whether what was done on the date on which the Senate made its decision on this matter amounted to a vote of the Senate in the terms of standing order 134, because it appeared to my quite simple mind that the standing order was fairly clear and explicit. There was nothing terribly complex about it, notwithstanding the quite erudite observations made to the Senate by the lawyers, who seem to me to have cancelled one another out, leaving the ordinary simple person like myself to make the ultimate decision on this matter. The standing order refers to an order, resolution or other vote of the Senate. I would have thought that what we did on that occasion was to take a vote of the Senate and that in fact the decision of the Senate was recorded as such.
What I am concerned about in this matter is what is likely to happen in the future in similar circumstances. On each occasion when a vote of the Senate is taken on a matter of this kind are we to proceed shortly thereafter to canvass some alternative to the decision the Senate has made? I warn the Senate of the danger of this sort of situation because it can be used by either side of the Senate where the circumstances arise to make it advantageous to do so. So I say: What of the future? As a responsible chamber of this Parliament we should be very careful that we do not proceed to make a decision tonight which is contrary to intentions which may be expressed on some matter which arises in the future.
I am concerned. I have a completely open mind on this but we should preserve the proper procedures of this chamber. I question the competence of this Committee, notwithstanding its ability to deal with this matter, to proceed in the light of the vote that has been taken in this chamber to determine some alternative to that decision which was made not by a close vote of the Senate, but by a vote of 42 to 6. These are the things which cross my mind at this time.Is it tantamount to contempt of the Senate for a Committee to proceed upon consideration of a matter which has already been determined by such an overwhelming vote of this Senate in a certain direction?
I merely warn the Senate. To my mind what we did was to proceed to and in fact accomplish a vote of the Senate, and I am very much concerned that what we are attempting to do tonight is to repudiate that vote. If we do that on this occasion, what is to stop us from doing the same thing on some future occasion?
That the Deputy President’s ruling be dissented from.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 27
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Now that the motion moved by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) has been held to be in order, I want to indicate that I approve of its general terms although I think it ought to be qualified by the addition of some words after the word ‘area’. In order to clarify the resolution of the Senate in the matters to be sent back to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House and to allay the fears of any members of the other place that we are cutting back on the decision already made by the Senate, I think we should add the words “together with the resolution of the Senate of 22nd August’. To have a free vote on this matter in the Senate as well as in the other place is a very precious thing. That free vote continues throughout all these proceedings, as has just been demonstrated. It is extremely important that we have this free vote because we are dealing with something just as important as the site of parliament house and that is the relations between the two Houses.
The Senate is a House of great courtesy. It has always endeavoured to maintain proper relations with the House of Representatives and I hope it always will continue to do so. The Senate has made a firm decision in favour of the Capital Hill site for the new and permanent parliament house. We know of our own knowledge that the House of Representatives really has come down in favour of the Capital Hill site but, because of some doubts expressed about the lack of consideration given to the Camp Hill site, it decided, without having a division to determine those who were in favour of Capital Hill, that the Camp Hill site should be considered as an alternative. Therefore, so far as the record is concerned, the House of Representatives has alternative sites in mind.
In order to resolve its difficulty, the House of Representatives wants the matter considered by the Joint Select Committee. It cannot have this course adopted unless the Senate agrees. This is a Committee on which both houses of the Parliament are represented. The House of Representatives has asked us to use the Committee as a vehicle to resolve the difficulty that it has in its mind as to the alternative sites. Are we to say that we will not permit the House of Representatives to do this?I do not think the Senate can properly take that attitude if it takes into consideration the maintenance of proper relations between the two Houses.
There is nothing inconsistent in having this matter referred back to that Committee because it will be aware of the firm opinion of the Senate in favour of the Capital Hill site. It will be aware that we have done nothing to rescind that decision and that there is not even a proposal before the Senate to reconsider it. We should concur in the proposal by the House of Representatives in the way it seeks to resolve its difficulty, it being in two minds about the matter. If the matter does go back to the Joint Select Committee, that Committee will make some kind of report which will be presented in both houses of the Parliament. The House of Representatives will make up its mind one way or the other as between the Capital Hill site and the Camp Hill site. If it comes to a resolution in favour of Capital Hill the Houses will be in coincidence. If it resolves in favour of Camp Hill there will be a difficulty in that there will be a lack of coincidence between the two Houses and something will have to be done about it. It may be that action would be taken of which we would not approve. It may be that some other course would be taken to bring the Houses together such as through the appointment of managers. There may be all sorts of ways of resolving the matter.
The only way in which the Senate would change its mind would be by dealing with a proposal, under standing order 134, to rescind its decision. As has been said by Senator Anderson and as has been made clear beyond doubt, the Senate has resolved in favour of Capital Hill. That decision stands and will continue to stand unless a positive proposal is brought into this chamber at some time to rescind it. What we are asked to do is to join in a proposal put forward by the House of Representatives to help it in coming to a decision on alternative sites; to help it to determine a matter which arose during its considerations. I think we could not refrain from extending that courtesy to the House of Representatives and permit it to use the Joint Select Committee, which the Parliament constituted, to prepare a report which will substantially be a report to the House of Representatives on the question facing the House on the alternative sites. That is as I see the matter. There is no departure whatever from the decision we have deliberately taken. There can be no departure from it until such time - if the occasion ever arises - that someone gives notice of rescission under the Standing Orders. I ask the Senate to deal with the matter not as a question of which site should be selected but as a question of the proper relations between the Houses and as a question of courtesy to the House of Representatives. Without any demur at all, we should agree to the proposal put forward by the House of Representatives.
I heard what Senator Anderson said about making clear in the resolution that the decision of the Senate stands. We hope that this would be taken into careful consideration by the Committee and given some weight by it in the report which it would make. As this matter is unlikely to be resolved today,I think the resolution which has been moved could be amended to the satisfaction of all honourable members by the inclusion of words such as I suggested earlier.
– What were the words the honourable senator suggested?
– I suggested that after the word ‘area’ there be inserted the words ‘together with the resolution of the Senate of 22nd August’. It may be that some other honourable senator has a proposal which would have the same effect of making our view quite clear. If the Senate wished, we could also include after those words the words: ‘which expressed the view of the Senate on this matter’. In that way no one could be in any doubt whatever that the Senate is adhering to its view, which is a view that it will be putting to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. On that basis, I support the resolution. As it is almost time for the Senate to adjourn, it may be convenient if I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Seriate do now adjourn.
– I rise to discuss a matter which concerns Senator Wright in his capacity as Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Last weekend when I was in the Richmond electorate I was approached by a number of people in relation to a probable visit by Senator Wright to that part of the north coast of New South Wales. I understand that there is a very keen desire that he visit two areas of the north coast in his capacity as Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. The first area is known as the Boundary Creek area. It straddles the boundaries of the Kyogle and Terania shires.
The Minister is no doubt aware that the north coast of New South Wales is going through a transition period at the moment. In view of the problems of the dairying industry and, as Senator McClelland has pointed out, of the banana industry, tourism is looming larger in that area. There are certain portions of the Boundary Creek area that would be ideal fauna reserves if action were taken quickly to acquire the land from the private land owners before extensive bulldozing operations are commenced and the land is cleared for beef production. Some of these landowners have spent a lifetime in that area; they are not absentee landlords. They have their hearts in the area. But it is quite obvious that due to declining prices in rural industries there is a big temptation to them to indulge in clearing thé land for beef production. These people have invited the Minister to visit the area because they feel that its accessibility and the contrasts provided with the rain forests and other types of timber together wilh the fauna - there are four species of wallaby - make it an appropriate area to conserve for tourism. But the time factor is involved.
I know the Minister will appreciate th:it 1 have never been known to ask a Minister to do something without offering some practical suggestion. In recent weeks we have been supplied with the first annual report of the Australian Tourist Commission, which is a tine brochure. I notice that on page 13 of the report there is a very fine illustration of a koala. Koalas are linked with attracting tourists. But the point 1 wish to make is that on the north coast of New South Wales - and the same remarks would apply to certain areas of other Stales as well - if the Commonwealth and Stale governments do not move in and acquire the land for tourism it will be put to other purposes and the tourist attraction will go with it. I do not envy the Minister his task. 1 know that he will be pleased when he inspects this particular region.
I draw an analogy between what 1 contemplate here and the action of the Commonwealth Government in recent years in rightly considering that airlines should pay a reasonable charge for the navigation and aerodrome facilities that are provided. Whilst I have been a vigorous advocate of aid at the Federal and State levels for the acquisition of additional land at a CommonwealthState level for wilderness areas, fauna reserves, parks and recreational purposes. 1 sincerely believe that some of the organisations that will benefit from the activities of the Australian Tourist Com mission should make a direct contribution towards financing the facilities provided. Organisations such as the Ansett chain should make such a contribution. 1 make a very strong plea to Senator Wright to visit this area in the next couple of weeks. I have been assured by the landowners that they are looking forward to meeting him. Such organisations as the Summerland Tourist and Development Authority should be supported. But time is running short. 1 know that landowners on the adjacent ranges are going in for extensive clearing for beef cattle. 1 am fortified by the remark of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at Gosford a week or so ago that the Commonwealth Government will have to encroach on a number of State fields. I am also fortified by a remark made by Senator Wright in this chamber not so long ago that he has sometimes to play the role of the persuader. I think the Minister will agree with me that in our mixed society a group of landowners who wish to make a contribution towards tourism should be supported. I refer particularly to the Summerland Tourist and Development Authority. I know that the New South Wales Government has earmarked about 2,000 acres for acquisition for certain categories of national parks and fauna reserves. But there have to be inland attractions for tourists on the north coast - not merely the beaches and the coastline - and this is one area where I feel the Commonwealth Government should make an interim grant to hold the line so that the land can be acquired and encouragement given to local enterprise that would naturally be responsible for motels and other facilities that are part of the tourist complex. But something has to be clone promptly.
I have referred to the Boundary Creek area. There is another area on the north coast, the Wallaby Creek area, which is suitable for a reserve for fauna conservation, but it is more isolated. I will not bother to have the lengthy document which 1 have in front of me incorporated in Hansard, but I will lend it to the Minister. This document deals in detail with the Wallaby Creek project. 1 believe that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth and State governments to acquire land in this area. Senator Wright is no doubt aware that I have in the main directed my suggestions in this regard to the Minister for National
Development (Mr Fairbairn) and the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon). But I am aware that in his role as Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities he has been approached on one or two other interests. I leave these thoughts with him. 1 hope that he will visit this part of the north coast of New South Wales in the nol too distant future. I sincerely suggest that. This is a transitional period for people engaged in certain rural industries. They want to meet the Minister. I repeat that time is not on our side.
– Where is this place?
– lt is near Kyogle and Casino.
– The matter to which I refer concerns the rather inefficient operation of the postal services in Western Australia. The instance to which I refer was almost responsible for a very serious industrial dispute in the north west of Western Australia. In the past I have had occasion to mention some of the inadequate services provided by the Postal Department in Western Australia, some of which have been acknowledged by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). One of the matters to which I have referred is the great length of time which one has to wait before the operators of the trunk line calls at the Perth telephone exchange seem to take before they answer the telephone when it rings. This is inconvenient. The matter to which I refer now is a very serious one. 1 understand it is symptomatic of some other similar occurrences. What could have occurred as a result of this incident would have been very serious indeed. During the month of October, as for several months past, some quite serious industrial disputes took place between members of trade unions and employers in the north west of Western Australia. Earlier this month a very serious dispute took place between members of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia and an employer at Mount Tom Price. The Secretary of the Union has asked me to raise this matter. Negotiations had been entered into. The argument which was being discussed was settled without any stoppage of work.
As an aftermath of the dispute another dispute broke out at the firm of H. H. Green at Mount Tom Price. There was a very strong possibility that members of the Electrical Trades Union employed by H. H. Green would stop work. They were unaware of the state that the negotiations between the union and the employer had reached. The office of the Western Australian Branch of the Electrical Trades Union in Perth became aware of the developments which were taking place amongst the employees at H. H. Green and about 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 15th October the Union office in Perth sent an urgent telegram to Mr R. Baillie, the shop steward of the Electrical Trades Union al H. H. Green, asking him urgently to telephone the Electrical Trades Union office in Perth to discuss this matter. When the urgent telegram was being sent at the Penh General Post Office the officer of the Union who sent the telegram was told that it would he delivered approximately one hour after it was dispatched.
The matter was a very urgent and important one. The organiser handling the dispute stayed in his office that afternoon and cancelled an engagement which he had elsewhere in the State the following day, awaiting the telephone call from the shop steward at Mount Tom Price. No telephone call came through that day. lt was not until some time the following day that contact was made between Mr Baillie. the shop steward, and the Electrical Trades Union office in Perth. Although the telegram had been sent at approximately 3.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 15th October, it was not received by Mr Baillie in Mount Tom Price until late in the afternoon of Wednesday, 16th October. In fact it was received by him purely by chance because he happened to go to the post office at Mount Tom Price where he was told that there was an urgent telegram for him. Apparently it was with a stack of other papers in a cupboard on the wall of the post office. This urgent telegram which concerned a very serious matter had nol been delivered. No-one knows why. fi would not have been delivered even then because ii was still in the post office al Mount Tom Price when the shop steward accidentally called there and was handed the telegram.
That is the information that has been given to me. I admit that by now part of it is third hand because it consists of information supplied by the shop steward at Mount Tom Price to the union official who forwarded it to me. There was an inordinate delay between the time when one would expect the telegram to have been delivered andthe time when the person received it. The delay could have been serious. It could have meant a stoppage of work and a strike in the north-west of Western Australia, when no strike need have been held as a result of the negotiations which had taken place between the employer and the Electrical Trades Union I raise the matter because the instance is not an isolated one. I have been informed of similar occurrences in Western Australia. I think this matter throws into very sharp relief the kind of problems which can ensue if the delivery of telegrams, in particular urgent telegrams, is delayed. I trust that the facts which I have stated are correct. I report them as they were given to me. I have already mentioned the matter to the Minister. I would be most appreciative if she would inquire from the Postmaster-General the reason for this apparently inordinate delay and whether in future something can be done to prevent a repetition.
[10.37] - I appreciate the point raised by the honourable senator and his concern over the delay in the delivery of an urgent telegram. I will place the matter raised in the Senate tonight before my colleague the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) and endeavour to obtain from him any explanation that he may be able to give. I shall certainly convey to him the honourable senator’s concern about the matter.
-I greatly appreciate Senator Mulvihill’s continuing concern about the preservation of wild life in this country because it is an important adjunct not only to the Australian way of life but also to the tourist industry, which is my special responsibility in the federal sphere. He told me that over the weekend he visited the area between Kyogle and Lismore. He urged upon me the proposition that I visit the area to consider the representations be ing made in favour of reserving this area for fauna. It is only fair that I should restate the proposition that the Commonwealth has no direct function or responsibility with regard to proclaiming reserves for wildlife in a State area. Nevertheless the Commonwealth is vitally concerned with the preservation of wildlife in the national interest. As recently as last year the State Parliament passed the Conservation Authority Act and it would be proper for me to convey to the State Minister for Tourist Activities what Senator Mulvihill has said with regard to the urgency of making a decision in relation to this area. I certainly shall do that. I shall seek the State Minister’s co-operation in the matter in the sense in which Senator Mulvihill has mentioned it.
I detain the Senate only for a minute or two to add further that if it is in any way helpful in the view of the local community or of the State Minister, for me to visit the area I shall take the first convenient opportunity to do so in order to assist all concerned. I make it quite clear that the matter is not my direct responsibility. I want to add that my advice is that the area to which he referred is considered by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to be one of the best localities for nearly every species of kangaroo.
Further, I have pleasure in informing the Senate that some 5 to 6 weeks ago, at the invitation of the Summerland Tourist and Development Authority, I visited Lismore and opened a function there which took place on a Sunday evening when no less than 170 interstate visitors from five States were assembled for the purpose of staying in the area for the whole week and joining in seminars under the instruction of most purposeful tutors on such subjects as bush ballads, marine zoology, the timber of the area and other local matters of intense interest, thus adding the pleasure of the pursuit of knowledge to the pleasure of travel.
They were good enough to present to me an autographed copy of a little book written on the area. It is extremely interesting, and I have read it with great delight. It describes how in the last century we neglected the purpose that Senator Mulvihill has in mind in speaking to the Senate tonight with the result that the country has been completely denuded of all the beautiful red cedars that it once had and nobody has yet found a method of regenerating them. You can raise them to a certain stage only. Some pest nips them off when they are about 2 or 3 feet high and nobody has succeeded in regenerating them. That great loss to our economy of timber products is something from which we should take a lesson.
The people at Lismore presented to me this booklet entitled ‘Man and the River’. It depicts the exciting development of the whole of this area. As I am on my feet, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to a community that has evolved sufficient spirit of tourism to create these seminars and now to present to the Senate a matter which, while it is one of earnest interest to us, is of particular interest to those who live in the area. I refer to the question of whether their district should be proclaimed as an area in which fauna are protected.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.43 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681022_senate_26_s39/>.