26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m.. and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise tell the Senate when he first learned of the proposed resignation of Mr Hoffmann from his Department and what hand he had in the acceptance of the resignation after the notice of dismissal had been gazetted?
– I was advised by the Department of the resignation before I received the letter dated 11th November from Mr Hoffmann. In relation to the latter part of the question about what hand I took in gelling the Public Service Board or the Department to accept his resignation, I would like to inform the honourable senator that within 2 days of having received the letter from Mr Hoffmann seeking to resign I sent it to my Department for action without comment. The Department received the letter and processed it. Following the processing of the letter 1 had an interview with Mr Hoffmann on 26th November.
– My question is directed to either the Minister for Customs and Excise or the Minister representing the Attorney-General, whoever has the answer, if there is an answer. Is it a fact that Mrs Hoffmann has not worked at the Japanese Embassy since 1961?
– It appears to me that that information would not be available to any department. As far as I know, it is certainly not within the knowledge of the Attorney-General’s Department.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question. What purpose is served by negotiations with North Vietnam in Paris allegedly to secure peace when during the negotiations continual rocket and mortar attacks are launched by North Vietnamese troops on the civilian population in
South Vietnamese cities? Should not a cessation of these attacks be demanded as a condition for continuing negotiations?
– With all the good will in the world I think the question should go on the notice paper to be replied to by the Minister for External Affairs, lt is true that the Paris peace talks are going on and that inherent in them is a recognition that there should be certain limitations to give to those talks the opportunity for success for which the world hopes. However. I think the very important question posed by the honourable senator warrants a considered reply by the Minister.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say how long it will be before colour television is introduced into Australia? Is the Minister aware of the great concern by many country people, such as those of upper Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, that the introduction of colour television will delay the establishment of television in further country areas? Can the Minister give an assurance that this will not be so?
– I shall bring the matter raised by the honourable senator to the notice of my colleague the Postmaster-General. Also, 1 refer the honourable senator to the statement made last week about colour television.
– fs the Leader of the Government aware that about 17,000 Australian workers are absent from work every working day because of occupational injuries and that the annual cost of these accidents is estimated to be between $750m and $l,000m per annum? As the present Government contribution of $7,500 per annum is inadequate to overcome the disability, will the Minister consult with the Prime Minister for the purpose of having the Government contribution increased, as requested by the National Safety Council of Australia, South Australian Division, in its approach by letter to the Prime Minister on 18th December 1968?
– I do not challenge the statistical background of the honourable senator’s question. I concede that the loss to the work force as a result of accidents is a very serious matter. I am sure that the Government also concedes that. A variation in the contribution that the Government makes at a certain level is a matter that I shall have to refer to the Prime Minister. Consequently I ask that the question be put on notice. I should point out that this is a matter normally dealt with at Budget time rather than at other times.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. What entitlements has a person dismissed from the Commonwealth Public Service in respect of his superannuation payments, payments in lieu of furlough and payments in lieu of accrued annual leave? Is there any difference in the » entitlements of a person who resigns from the Commonwealth Public Service?
– The honourable senator’s question relates to a question which was put on notice by, I think, Senator O’Byrne. I have replies to questions on notice relating to the position of Commonwealth public servants and their entitlements. I think it might be more appropriate to deal with those matters when replying to the question on notice in view of the close relationship of this question to that asked by Senator O’Byrne last week.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Will the Minister give permission for a group of senators and members of the House of Representatives to visit the Pine Gap establishment near Alice Springs? If he is not in a position to grant permission, will he seek permission from the United States officer in charge of the establishment?
– I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Defence.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science seen a statement in today’s Press reporting that a new Commonwealth scheme for Aboriginal scholarships will be established to replace what is known as the
ABSCHOL scheme? Can the Minister give any details of the proposed new scheme and explain how it would provide greater opportunity in the education programme for Aboriginal people?
– I have read the report to which the honourable senator refers. It will be remembered that as part of the Government’s programme for the assistance of Aboriginals the Minister announced the introduction of a scheme of Aboriginal study grants. I am happy to inform the honourable senator that, so far, 90 applications for assistance have been received from students of Aboriginal descent and that to date 74 offers of scholarships have been made for studies commencing this year. Of the 74, 9 have been offered for university courses, some 30 for secretarial and business college courses and the others for teacher training courses.
I fear that some misunderstanding has arisen in interpreting this scholarship scheme as being in substitution for- the ABSCHOL scheme. ABSCHOL was a good scheme that emanated from the National Union of Australian University Students. Whether that body will continue with the ABSCHOL scheme now that the Commonwealth scheme has been announced is a matter for the National Union of Australian University Students to decide. There have been some statements which indicate that perhaps, in view of the Commonwealth scheme, the university body would prefer to apply its assistance in other directions.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question about the recent transfer of Australian troops from Malaysia to Singapore. I preface my question with the comment that I would have thought that this transfer warranted an explanation in the Prime Minister’s defence statement. So far as I can determine, there is no mention of the transfer in the Prime Minister’s statement. My question is: What were the reasons for the transfer of Australian troops from Malaysia to Singapore? Is it not a fact that these troops would be of more use in Malaysia than in Singapore?
– The honourable senator asks me to give, in the name of the Minister for Defence, the reasons for the transfer of troops from Malaysia to Singapore. I think this matter might more reasonably be dealt with in the debate on the Prime Minister’s statement even though, as the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party suggests, the Prime Minister makes no particular reference to it in his statement. My understanding of the situation is that the reasons for the transfer are valid and soundly based, having regard to the whole of the peninsula. Nevertheless, I think the proper thing to do would be to invite the Minister for Defence to prepare an answer for the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, and 1 shall certainly refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to an item of news appearing in the Adelaide Advertiser’ on Tuesday last which claims that nearly half of the number of applicants for certificate courses at the South Australian Institute of Technology in 1969 have been refused permission to take up these courses and that there is a similar surplus of applicants for diploma courses. Will the Minister invite and cause his colleague to study this appalling problem of the shortage of places for technical students in South Australia wilh a view to providing immediate relief?
– I assure the honourable senator that his question will be brought to the notice of the Minister immediately for his consideration.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether it is true that james Francis O’Brien resigned as an officer of the Department of Trade and Industry as a result of certain investigations, but was not charged? Can he also advise whether James Francis O’Brien lost all or any of his furlough entitlement under section 55 of the Public Service Act as a result of the investigations carried out into his activities?
– I shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that a symposium is to be held in Las Vegas from 7th to 11th April 1969 for the purpose of inquiring into the health aspects of nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes? Has the Australian Government been invited to send representatives to the symposium? Has the Western Australian Government also received an invitation?
– I am not aware of invitations that have been received, or whether those invitations in which the honourable senator is most interested have been received. I will place the question before my colleague the Minister for Health and get a reply for the honourable senator.
– Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister give an assurance that in future the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation will not be employed in activities outside the powers granted in section 5 of Act No. 113 of 1956?
– I will repeat the answer that I gave last week to questions concerning the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. That answer will later find expression in replies to questions on the notice paper. It is not the practice to answer questions relating to the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, either in acknowledgment or denial.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Following earlier announcements by the Government that devaluation compensation payments would be made to individual primary industries, will the Minister state what was the average length of time lost before payments were made? In considering the latest assurances on devaluation compensation payments to individual primary industries, can it be accepted that all payments have now been made? If not, why not?
– The honourable senator has asked a very comprehensive question, because compensation payments were made right across the board in relation to primary industries and certain categories of manufacturing industries. It is not a question that could be answered at question time. For that reason it must go on the notice paper so that I can get full replies on the various points raised by the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise.. Did the Minister say earlier that Mr Hoffmann tendered his resignation from the Department in a letter dated 11th November? If so. when was the letter in fact received in the Department? What was the actual date that it was decided by the Department to recommend acceptance of the resignation? Who was the officer who recommended acceptance of the resignation? Was the matter of the resignation discussed with the Minister before its acceptance was recommended? If it was a resignation tendered on 1 1 th November, what action was taken by the Department lo ensure omission of the gazettal of the dismissal from the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ dated 14th November?
– On 1 1 th November Mr Hoffmann wrote to me and in the letter he was seeking my permission for an opportunity of discussing with me the possibility of his resignation. That is what I told the previous questioner. I want to say ako that most of the questions now asked me by honourable senators opposite are on the notice paper and will be answered today.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs been drawn to a statement by Mrs Bandler, Vice-President of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Affairs, reported in today’s Press in which she said that she believed the Government had made a deliberate attempt to deprive Aboriginal people of sex education because, by allowing Aboriginals to have large families, it had made a very cheap source of labour readily available for squatters in northern Australia? Is there any basis whatsoever for this suggestion? If not, will the Minister take steps to refute the suggestion publicly and specifically to the Federal Council for Aboriginal Affairs?
– Of. course there is no basis whatsoever for the comments made in the Press report that the honourable senator has drawn to my attention. 1 have seen the report. 1 shall certainly place the honourable senator’s comments before the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Will the Minister give an assurance that those Spanish migrants who participated in a peaceful anti-Franco demonstration in the vicinity of the El Alamein fountain at Kings Cross, Sydney will not have such happenings used against them when they seek naturalisation?
– I am not aware of all the details of the demonstration to which the honourable senator refers, but I say to him that participation in a peaceful and lawful demonstration would not of itself result in citizenship being withheld.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the Hoffmann case and the interview that the Minister said he had with Mr Hoffmann on 25th November last.
– The 26th.
– I think I am correct in saying that it was the 25th.
– I said the 26th today. Last week I said that it was about 10 days after the 15th.
– I am subject to correction. Whether it was the 25th or the 26th does not matter as far as this question is concerned. Did the Minister tell the Senate last Thursday that the reason for the interview on 25th or 26th November was because Mr Hoffmann had offered his resignation? If so, was that statement true?
– The subject matter of the letter and of the interview was the question of his dismissal. As it was 12 days after the Public Service Board had accepted his resignation I saw him. He came to me to thank me and officers of the Department of Customs and Excise for what they had done. He also left a Bible with me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I ask: In view of the dispute between Mr Whitlam, Mr Hartley and others as to the policy of the Australian Labor Party on aid to independent schools, will the Minister assure the Senate of the Government’s continued interest in assisting independent schools? Will the Minister ask his colleague the Minister for Education and Science to prepare a paper outlining what the Government has already done in this field?
– I think it will be of interest to the Senate to recall that the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government initiated the policy of assisting independent schools probably a decade ago. It has been found to be of such expanding benefit in making some contribution to independent schools as a matter of equity in the general education system that it is not surprising that there are some elements of the Australian Labor Party which are now willing to jump on the band waggon. In view of the figures announced by the Leader of the Opposition in another place I think it may be of interest to examine the total contribution that has been made by the Government to that purpose. I will with some pleasure adopt the suggestion of the honourable senator and ask the Minister to provide a statement setting out these figures so that the position can be readily understood.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is he, as a Minister, still suggesting to the Senate that the dismissal and resignation of Mr Hoffmann from his Department were perfectly straightforward and with no unusual circumstances.
– I do not like the question, but may I say to the honourable senator that all matters relating to the dismissal notice and Mr Hoffmann’s resignation were straightforward and above board. I must also say that I have never before heard so much criticism in this Parliament about a person who had committed an offence nor ha%’e 1 seen anyone being attacked with so much character assassination as left wing members of the Australia Labour Party are engaging in now.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls it a fact that Australia is a party to an agreement between world producers of tin which has the effect of limiting exports of that product? Is it a fact that Australia has in recent months lost considerable export markets to competitors? Will the Minister seek discussion with the industry so that consideration may quickly be given to the industry having more effective access to world markets?
– It is true that there is an International Tin Council and it did introduce export quotas in September 1968 which would apply automatically to the six producer members. Australia is a consumer member. At the request of the Council Australia is now also restraining exports and controls apply to tin and tin concentrates. The matter is under consideration and, as I understand it, is in the portfolio of the Minister for National Development. I will direct the question to him to see if I can obtain some further information for the honourable senator.
– Would the Minister representing the Minister for Health obtain information and inform the Senate regarding the extraordinary secrecy of health measures undertaken by the Department of Health concerning two Indonesian aircraft containing Indonesian officials? Were these two aircraft cleared by the Department at Darwin? Why did they have to land at Mount Isa and/or Camooweal for refumigation? Did a Department of
Health official have to drive 120 miles to refumigate one of the Indonesian planes at Camooweal and is it a fact that cockroaches were found at Camooweal even after fumigation at Darwin? What then is the object of fumigation? Why were more than routine precautions taken in regard to these Indonesian planes as if the passengers were contaminated with foot and mouth disease?
– With the permission of the honourable senator I will divide his question into two parts. The l’ast part was in connection with foot and mouth disease, as I understand it, and the earlier part concerned the spraying of these Indonesian planes at Darwin. I would refer the honourable senator to the discussion which took place in this chamber last week concerning these points but I will give him the answer that was given then. Two Indonesian aircraft arrived at Darwin on 22nd February and were subjected to a routine quarantine inspection. In the course of the inspection infestations of cock? roaches were noted in both planes. Both planes were heavily sprayed with a generally used insecticide to destroy the cockroaches and a clearance was given to both planes to continue their flight in Australia. However, as an additional precaution to make certain that all cockroaches had been destroyed in the process of spraying at Darwin, arrangements were made for a further inspection to be made at the planes’ next port of landing, which at that stage was expected to be Nowra. However, one aircraft was diverted to Camooweal because of engine trouble. The other landed at Mount Isa. Arrangements were made with Mount Isa health authorities to inspect both planes and to carry out further spraying if necessary. However, inspections at both Mount Isa and Camooweal showed no cockroaches. The whole exercise was a normal quarantine procedure. There was no secrecy at all involved in it. The other point that the honourable senator raised concerned the risk of foot and mouth disease. On previous occasions in the Senate I have answered questions on the very stringent measures that are taken to guard against this disease; but I will obtain from the Minister for Health further information concerning them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the publicly stated facts of the constant demarcation disputes in the government dockyard at Newcastle, New South Wales, will the Minister agree to examine the question of bounty payments for ships built in dockyards where the public interest is put in jeopardy by such union factionalism?
– It is greatly to be regretted that the shipping industry, probably more than any other industry, attracts demarcation disputes. It is also greatly to be regretted that the labour movement still wastes time and wealth by demarcation disputes. But I am bound to say that as the question strikes me at the moment I would not expect that these operations would have any effect upon Government policy with regard to bounty for shipbuilding, if that is the drift of the question.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In answers to questions today he has referred to Mr Hoffmann’s letter to him of 11th November last requesting permission tq resign-
– Requesting permission to see me so that he could tender his resignation.
– I understood the Minister to say ‘requesting permission to resign’; but it does not matter. .1 want to know whether at any stage the Minister, as Minister, agreed to give Mr Hoffmann permission to resign; and, if so, when?
– I agreed to see Mr Hoffmann some days after his resignation was submitted to the Public Service Board. 1 saw him, as mentioned in answer to a previous question, on 26th November at 9.30 a.m. in my office. With me was my secretary. We discussed not so much the question of his resignation but the question of the new life that he was to lead in Sydney because he had committed-
– Because he had misconducted himself.
– Because he had misconducted himself in our Department.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that some chemists who placed orders for vaccine for the influenza known as Hong Kong flu are unable at present to obtain supplies from the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has indicated to inquirers that orders already placed cannot be filled for some time? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has advised chemists that existing supplies of the vaccine are being withheld because pensioners are to be supplied first? If any of these statements are true, will supplies of the vaccine he available for all who wish to have it? If so, when will such supplies be available?
– I think the honourable senator will recall that last week, in answer to a question, I gave the order of priorities of people who face the greatest risk of this illness. Among them, of course, were the pensioners. I also informed the Senate that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories was producing vaccine at its full capacity and that it confidently expected to have the quantities required to meet an epidemic should there be one. Senator Greenwood has asked some further questions about immediate supplies, the time factor and chemists. I shall endeavour to obtain answers to those questions from the Minister for Health.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry and is supplementary to a question asked by Senator Poyser. If James Francis O’Brien lost all or part of his furlough entitlement as a result of investigation into his activities in the Department of Trade and Industry and in accordance with the provisions of section 55 of the Public Service Act, why was he not charged with a similar offence and dismissed in the same way as Mr Hoffmann was charged and dismissed originally?
– The honourable senator asked a question starting with ‘If and therefore the question is a hypothetical one. Notwithstanding that, I ask that the question be put on the notice paper and I will direct it to the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Has the Minister been informed that the Australian Mining Industry Council is initiating a study of Commonwealth and State mining legislation to ascertain what problems would be involved in achieving parallel legislation in Australia? In due course will the Minister inform the Senate of the progress of this study?
– I have no knowledge of the project referred to. I imagine that, if it is a co-operative effort to bring into line the State and Commonwealth legislation on mining, in due course it will come before the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral which consists of the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the AttorneyGeneral of each of the States. That Committee, as the Senate would know, meets fairly frequently during the year and, with the assistance of its officers, does quite a deal of work in revising State legislation with a view to making each State’s legislation, in a common field, consistent.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Has the Government seen reports attributed to Dr Everingham, the honourable member for Capricornia, suggesting that one solution to the Aboriginal problem would be to sterilise Aboriginals? Does the Government agree with Dr Everingham on this matter?
– I had some notice that this question would be asked. The Government does not agree with the policy outlined by Dr Everingham. We, as a government, have probably done more for the Australian Aboriginals than has any previous government in our history.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the oil exploration company. Exoil (NL), received a Commonwealth subsidy of over $lm? Is he aware that the company has had massive share dealings with a company in which Mr Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland, is the major shareholder? As there is considerable public concern-
– Order! The honourable senator will not make comments; he will ask questions.
– Will the Leader of the Government assure the Senate that he will take steps to protect the Commonwealth moneys involved?
– The last part of the honourable senator’s question has no relationship at all to the first part of his question. I would not know - and I venture to suggest that nobody in this place would know - what companies attracted oil subsidies over a period of years. Because of the Government’s policy, over a sustained period of years, of using the oil subsidy principle, Australia today is very close to being selfsufficient in oil. That is a direct result of our oil subsidy policy. There is no doubt that within a few years we will be completely self-sufficient in that commodity, thus ensuring a tremendous saving in our overseas payments. I would not be competent to say what shares an individual had, nor do 1 propose to inquire. I have every confidence in the integrity of the person to whom the honourable senator was making reference.
– Will (he Leader of the Government inform the Senate what action, if any, the Government has taken to apprehend the person or persons who attempted to burn the Russian Embassy in the early hours of yesterday morning, thereby endangering the lives of the women and children who the Press alleges were sleeping on the premises?
– It is regrettably true that trouble has been caused at the Russian Embassy in Canberra. The Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs have both expressed their regret to the Russian Embassy for the incident. They pointed out that it was a silly and stupid thing to do. The Government has followed the normal practice and has undertaken to have some restoration work done on the damaged hedge in front of the Embassy.
– ls the Leader of the Government aware of an announcement by the British Government that it intends to dispose of certain naval craft, including one aircraft carrier? Will he give the Senate an assurance that the responsible authorities in Australia will give due consideration to a suggestion that Australia should make an attempt to add the aircraft carrier to the Royal Australian Navy?
– The whole question of Australia’s requirements for her Navy, Army and Air Force is a matter for the advisers of the Government in the Defence Committee. Therefore, any question of what would be a requirement would be primarily a matter on which those advisers would make recommendations to the Government. The Government would then consider those recommendations. However. I will take note of the honourable senator’s question.
– I wish to address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. As the last reference to Mr Hoffmann in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ states that he was dismissed from the Department of Customs and Excise, whereas we are now informed that he in fact resigned from the Department, what steps have been taken so that in a subsequent issue of the ‘Gazette’ a correction will be made and the record will show that be was not dismissed but resigned from the Public Service?
– Perhaps I should answer that question. A question along these lines was asked on notice of the Minister representing the Prime Minister last week. I suggest that the honourable senator defer his question until the Prime Minister gives an answer to the question which was asked and which appears on the Notice Paper as Question No. 898
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General, if he has the information or is willing to give it, inform the Senate how many people have been arrested in each of the last 10 years on charges of treason, espionage or sabotage?
– I shall ascertain that information and provide it to the honourable senator when the details have been discovered.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. As the Minister is no doubt aware, production in some parts of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia is greatly restricted by lack of water. Is the Minister aware that the South Australian Government has started building a $2£m pipeline from Lock to Kimba to serve this area? As the project has a great bearing on production, will the Minister consider giving financial assistance to the South Australian Government in this very important project?
– I am aware that a project is under way to provide additional water to the Eyre Peninsula. We all know how important water is to South Australia. The Commonwealth Government and the River Murray Commission have made a very big study of the requirements of South Australia. The Commission has made recommendations that a dam be built at Dartmouth. This dam will provide the State with about I million acre feet of water more than would be available from the Chowilla scheme if that scheme were proceeded with instead. In regard to the latter part of the honourable senator’s question about whether I would make representations to the Minister, I will take this up with the Minister and obtain an answer for him.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health explain how it is that while the notification for tuberculosis in all forms per 100,000 of population has dropped from 55 in 1952 to 20 in 1967 and the allowance paid to tuberculosis sufferers has also decreased the maintenance disbursement by the Commonwealth to the States has increased from $2m in 1952 to Slim in 1967 and is still rising?
– Maintenance expenditure includes costs for treating tuberculosis patients in hospitals and sanatoria and also for costs of conducting mass X-ray surveys and other case finding activities. Expenditure in 1950-51 was SI. 887m, in 1951-52 it was $4.229m, in 1952-53 it was S5.965m and in 1953-54 it was $7.478m. This expenditure increased to SI 1508m in 1967-68. The steep increase in early years was due to the fact that the campaign had not reached full momentum until about 1952 or 1953 because of the hospitals and other facilities that had to be built and provided. The costs from the time the campaign became fully operative have not risen very greatly. The effect of inflation has contributed significantly to the increased costs. A comparison wilh general hospital maintenance costs shows that these costs rose by over 300% between 1953 and 1966. Compulsory mass X-ray surveys were not commenced in all States early in the campaign and were introduced as late as 1963. The national campaign has therefore steadily built up over the years. As the yield of cases through mass surveys has declined, the frequency of surveys has lessened. Although the incidence of tuberculosis has reduced significantly, it cannot yet be considered to be under control.
– ls the Leader of the Government aware of any parallel action taken in relation to the recent acceptance of the resignation of a Government employee when the employee was to be dismissed for serious misconduct arising from his employment? Is the Minister aware of the fact that apprentices in a Government department have had their indentures cancelled when found guilty of stealing watermelons and that representations on their behalf have been rejected by the Government?
– I am not aware of the circumstances referred to by the honourable senator, but if he puts the question on notice I shall certainly have a reply prepared for him. The generality of the answer probably will come out in the answers that I have to questions related to dismissals and resignations which were put on notice last week. There seems to be confusion in the minds of some honourable senators in relation to this matter.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise inform the Senate whether, in the course of the investigation by his Department in relation to the charge against Mr G. C. Hoffmann, it was suspected, or indeed found to be true, that Gerard Charles Hoffmann was acting under instructions of, or in liaison with, Mr James
Francis O’Brien, who was then an officer of the Department of Trade and Industry? Did both officers resign as a direct result of the investigation referred to?
– I have no real knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Mr O’Brien. The first part of the question which relates to Mr Hoffmann will be answered in an answer to a question already on notice.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will the Minister tell us when the article with relation to Mr Hoffmann which appeared in ‘Incentive’ on 11th November first came to his attention?
– I do not frequently read articles published in ‘Incentive’, but, to the best of my knowledge, the article in question was first brought to my attention after the beginning of this sessional period of the Parliament.
– I address a further question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Am I to understand from the Minister’s answer to my previous question that the Government is not concerned at the fact that well over $lm of Commonwealth money has gone towards subsidising the questionable activities of oil companies in Queensland in which the present Premier of Queensland is interested?
– With great respect, that question is completely out of order. It contains statements with relation to the behaviour of oil companies and persons which are completely unsubstantiated, and which are unfounded, unwarranted, completely unfair and improper.
– If the Leader of the Government had not made those comments, I would have ruled the question out of order.
– I address a question to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Does the Minister regard the provision of adequate hotel and motel accommodation all over Australia as a decisive factor in the encouragement of tourism inside Australia? Has his Department or any other tourist authority any plans to encourage or assist the provision of such accommodation? If so, what are the plans?
– The honourable senator’s question obviously is directed to one of the very important aspects of what we call plant in the tourist industry. About four weeks ago, I made reference to the fact that, with the advent of a greatly increased influx of visitors with the improvement of air services, Australia needs to improve both the quality and quantity of the accommodation that is available. There is some very fine accommodation available. As the honourable senator will know from recent announcements, real progress is being made in Sydney and other capital cities, as well as elsewhere, not only in the provision of first class hotel accommodation but also, and particularly, in most appropriate motel1 accommodation. The amount of this type of accommodation is expanding considerably.
I wish to assure honourable senators that the question whether the incentives that have been offered in New Zealand and in other places warrant acceptance as a matter of policy on the Federal level in Australia is at present under active consideration. It is being given consideration in quite a purposeful manner.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer inform the Senate of the situation regarding any orders Qantas Airways Ltd has placed for the Concorde aircraft, which began its test flights this week? I understand that some deposits have been paid and I would like to be informed in due course of commitments, if any, entered into to purchase the Concorde aircraft.
– I understand that an arrangement has been made whereby Qantas has been granted an option which it may exercise at a certain time. The Concorde aircraft has just flown and a lot of work remains to be done and trials to be carried out. Indeed it will be some considerable time - a year, eighteen months or 2 years - before the Concorde will become commercially operative. The precise detail of the option held by Qantas and other companies is not known to me. but 1 will get that information. It will be of general interest to the Senate and I will make it available as soon as I get it.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether he was consulted at any time by the Public Service Board or his Department on whether Mr Hoffmann’s resignation should be accepted?
– I was not consulted at any time by the Public Service Board as to whether or not Mr Hoffmann’s resignation should be accepted.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Will he comment upon a legal saw that it is a characteristic of lawyers with bad cases to go on fishing expeditions, as represented by the questions being asked by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
Senator Wheeldon - I rise to a point of order. I can assure honourable senators opposite who are interjecting that their witticisms do not worry me. Mr President, only a few minutes ago Senator Georges was directed by you to make no comments but to ask questions. I ask you to rule whether in fact Senator Cormack’s alleged question was almost entirely comment.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– My answer to Senator Cormack is that I can make no useful comment.
– I ask the Minister for Tourism whether it is a fact that a superbly conceived and executed record of the history and achievements of the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith has been offered to the Commonwealth Government. Will the Government accept the offer and provide appropriate housing for this magnificent depiction of the life and achievements of this outstanding pioneer in Australian aviation?
– I wish to inform the Senate that about 6 months ago, through the good offices of Mr Ian Wilson of another place, an offer was made by Mr Byrne of a very impressive and remarkably significant collection of models and photographs depicting the epic life and history of the late Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. In company with several colleagues I went to Adelaide to investigate the matter. Acceptance of that very significant historical record is now under continuing and, so far as I am concerned, pursuing consideration by the Commonwealth Government. I hope I will be permitted to say that Mr Byrne’s efforts in preserving the significant incidents in Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s history is a matter for which Australians will be eternally grateful.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Minister found time to read an article in yesterday’s ‘Incentive’ concerning the Hoffmann affair? Will he also inform the Senate whether, even if he did not know anything about the Hoffmann affair in November 1968, the truth is, as alleged in the latest ‘Incentive’, that the Department of Customs and Excise knew all about it?
– I have read with interest the recent edition of ‘Incentive’ and am absolutely astounded that a reporter could be so far out of line with the facts. That article being so inaccurate 1 do not propose to comment on it any further.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask: During November of last year was an officer of the Department, of Trade and Industry interrogated by Commonwealth Police for 8 hours? If so, what was the purpose of that interrogation? Was it related to his employment? Did the Minister receive a report from the Commonwealth Police?
– Quite clearly that is a question for the notice paper, lt is absurd to suggest that a Minister representing another Minister would know whether an officer of a huge’ department was interrogated.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. On Thursday, 28th November 1968 the Postmaster-General made a statement in another place regarding line plant for country telephone subscribers. This statement was not made in the Senate. In view of the importance of this matter and of the interest a number of honourable senators have shown in the high costs many subscribers have to pay to have their telephones connected to rural automatic exchanges, will the Minister make the same statement in the Senate to enable this chamber to debate the new policies announced by the PostmasterGeneral?
– I shall certainly inquire of the Postmaster-General concerning the honourable senator’s question and shall see what can be done about it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I ask: In view of public interest in another matter will he inform the Senate why turtle skins are imported into Australia? What is the use of turtle skins other than for holding turtles together?
– Turtle skins which are tanned may be imported into Australia. They are used to make shoes, handbags and that type of article.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Under what circumstances will the Commissioner of Taxation permit a taxpayer to submit an amended taxation return in order to correct an understatement? Can the Minister explain why the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in Queensland extended this facility to Mr BjelkePetersen?
– I am completely unable to give any information at all in regard to the second part of the honourable senator’s question. In any event, I would have thought it would have been evident to the honourable senator that any discussion between a taxpayer and the Commissioner of Taxation is confidential. As to the generality of the honourable senator’s question, I will have to obtain an answer from the Treasurer. I suspect that it is done by way of regulations. I will provide the honourable senator with the facts.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. There being no question on the notice paper in connection with who was the first person within the Department of Customs and Excise to receive Mr Gerard Charles Hoffmann’s resignation, I ask: Can the Minister now say who was the officer or person within the Department who first recommended acceptance of the resignation?
– This is done by the chief officer of the Department who referred it to the Public Service Board.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. At the time Mr Hoffmann tendered his resignation was the Minister aware of the allegations - regardless of their truth - being made by Mrs Hoffmann?
– I was unaware of any allegations being made by anybody at all.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. Firstly, does the Minister find questions asked by honourable senators on this side of the chamber amusing? Is it true that during the last year or so millions of dollars in customs duties have been evaded? Has it been brought to the Minister’s attention that an officer of the Department of Customs and Excise, together wilh others, was involved in a situation where hotel bills amounting to thousands of dollars were being paid by commercial firms? Is it true that no real punishment has been meted out to the officer of his Department concerned?
– I am aware that in the last 12 months the payment of a large amount of money as customs duty has been evaded by people bringing goods into this country. I am aware that the officers concerned have been charged and I am aware that the people who have evaded the duty will be prosecuted.
– The Minister representing the Postmaster-General has indicated that she has a reply to statements I made on two adjournment motions last week concerning what I claim to be an illegal opening of a letter addressed to the Bulgarian Embassy.
– Does that come in under questions?
– I think that will have to come under statements. It is not an answer to a question.
– It is not a question on notice. It was the subject of a discussion on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– We will facilitate an answer this afternoon.
– There are replies to many questions on notice. I realise only too well that many senators will want to ask their questions and have the answers read. I would suggest that where an honourable senator feels that the question and answer should be read this be done.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General:
– Order! The proceedings are not being broadcast. The honourable senator should just state the number of his question.
– I raise a point of order. If the senator asking the question desires for the benefit of the gallery to read the question, is he not entitled to do so? We have a public gallery which might want to hear it.
– It is a longestablished practice that when proceedings are not being broadcast as each senator is called he states that he asks the question standing in his name and he states the number of it.
– That is when there is no other purpose to be served in reading the question.
– The practice is the same as in the House of Commons at Westminister. The exception in our case is that when proceedings are being broadcast or are to be rebroadcast honourable senators may read their questions in full. In view of the long-established practice, I suggest that any honourable senator wishing to read his question when the proceedings are not being broadcast should ask for the leave of the Senate.
(Question No. 247)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied an answer to question No. 247 which extends over two and a half pages and is rather historical in its nature. I ask for leave to incorporate the answer in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? Senator Wheeldon - No.
– Leave is not granted.
– I made the application out of mercy for Opposition senators, but if they want the full content of this they shall get it. The answer is:
In the Australian Capital Territory no execution has taken place since this territory was accepted by the Commonwealth.
In the Northern Territory, on 7th August 1952, Jaroslav Koci and Jan Novotny were executed In respect of sentences Tor murder. Records are not now available for earlier periods in respect of the Northern Territory but it is understood that a part Aboriginal was executed at Darwin in 1913.
The Minister for External Territories has advised me as follows:
The annual reports for the Territory of Papua for the period 1905 to 1941 record the following executions of natives in respect of sentences for wilful murder: 1 in 1 906, 3 in 1907, 1 in 1914, 2 in 1915 and 8 in 1.9-1 6.
The annual reports for the Territory of New Guinea for the period 1914 to 1940 record the following executions of persons in respect of sentences for wilful murder: 6 persons during the period 1935-1936 and 4 persons during the period 1936-1937. In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea 2 executions havetaken place since the post-war resumptionof civil administration. On 16th December 1954 Usumando of Moep was executed in respect of a sentence for murder. On 14th November 1957 Aro Apamanda of Wabag was executed in respect of a sentence of murder. In Norfolk Islands, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island no execution has taken place since these territories were accepted by the Commonwealth.
– I raise a point of order. Is it possible for the honourable senator to raise his voice, as it is impossible for me to follow clearly and to hear what he has to say?
– I shall do my best both to make audible and to penetrate the understanding of the honourable senator.
The answer continues:
I assume the question does not extend to possible executions in New Guinea in the First World War, Second World War and subsequently:
The records of the ANGAU, which would have contained details of wartime executions, if any. by Australian forces, were handed over to the Papua and New Guinea administration on the resumption of civil administration in 1945. The files were in the custody of the Secretary for Law but were destroyed by fire in 1957 together with all records of the Department of Law and of the Department of the Administration.
There is a file in the records of the Department of the Army containing correspondence passing between the then Ministers of the Army, the Honourable F. M. Forde. M.P., and the then Minister for External Territories. the Honourable E. J. Ward, M.P., in 1945 which refers to the sentence to death of 21 persons in Papua/New Guinea in 1943 and 1944. It is not possible to say if the 21 persons referred to were all executed or were the only persons executed in the war years. Australian War Climes Trials:
My inquiries have revealed that these trials were held in Singapore, Moratai. Labuan. Wewak. Rabaul, Darwin, Hong Kong and Manns Island. Of those convicted 148 were sentenced to death and executed.
(Question No. 557)
asked the Minister represent ing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1, 2 and 3. As pointed out in the late Prime Ministers statement of 15th December 1967, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is responsible for this investigation which will be of a continuing nature. The fields of inquiry include an examination of general problems affecting the rural sector as a whole and problems facing particular industries or sectors of industries.
As the necessarily detailed inquiries into the fundamental problems facing particular industries or sectors of industries will take a substantial amount of time, e.g., the formulation of the marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme including the negotiations with the States and the industry, it was not envisaged that the Minister would await the results of all these investigations before presenting a final report but that he should report to the Government on the results of these investigations as they become available.
The Minister, together with the Minister for Trade and Industry, also reported to the Government in the context of the last Budget discussions on the general problem of the cost-price situation facing most of our rural industries. In the Budget Speech, the Treasurer announced an increase in the standard rate of bounty on superphosphate and outlined the Government’s plans to introduce a scheme of Drought Bonds. Legislation to give effect to this scheme is expected to be introduced at an early date. Other aspects of this report, notably those dealing with the effects of wage increases on the viability of rural industries, were reflected in the Commonwealth’s submission to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in connection with its hearing of the 1968 National Wage Case.
There is, in addition, the existing machinery for the regular review of government support and stabilisation measures and for seeking internationul action designed to improve the price situation for our agricultural products.
(Question No. 751)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
(Question No. 795)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The sentence passed upon Private Panagoulis has not been carried out and he remains in prison. The Government does not consider that intervention by Australia would be appropriate.
(Question No. 802)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer in reply to the honourable senator’s questions:
The Public Service Board has advised that the answers to the questions are as follows:
The daily rates of travelling allowance payable to officers of the Third and Fourth Divisions in the Commonwealth Public Service in capital cities are as prescribed in Public Service Regulation 75a (1), viz.:
(Question No. 826)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Australian Government approval to operate?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 827)
Senator KEEFFE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Have two companies, known as Central Pacific Airline-, and Central Pacific Hotels, been established in New South Wales for the purpose of furthering the football pool gambling complex on tax free Nauru, and is Mr H. G. Pearce, the former Liberal member for Capricornia, one of the two principals of these companies?
Does the Government approve of the establishment of such companies having regard to the prominent role played by Mr Pearce in the promotion of tax dodging companies on Norfolk Island?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 853)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies:
(Question No. 879)
– I askthe Minister for Customs and Excise Question No. 879. It reads:
– Order! The honourable senator is reading out the question. He should just ask it of the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– I am asking it of the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– The Minister will give the answer.
-Is it imperative that I do not read out the question?
– This is the subject of all the argument that there has been today. 1 am trying to be as reasonable as 1 can. I have been suggesting that honourable senators just ask their questions and then the Ministers will give their replies.
– I submit, with due respect, Mr President, that the subject matter of the question is very topical and controversial. I believe that the question should be read out before the answer is given so that other senators-
– Order! I do not want to hear the honourable senator further on the matter. All 1 want to say to him is that the right thing to do is to follow the practice of just asking the question of the Minister and then receiving the reply from the Minister.
– IfI may intervene-
– Can the Minister intervene?
– Only with leave. 1 was only trying to help.
– I raise a point of order in relation to your ruling, Mr President. Can you inform me under what standing order you rule that., if I have a question on the notice paper, because the proceedings are not being broadcast I cannot read out the question? I am not concerned about practice. Practice does not make a standing order.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. With respect, Mr President, without canvassing your ruling in any way at all, 1 would think that if a senator asked for leave of the Senate to read out a question, that would not prejudice your ruling. Alternatively, the Minister concerned could read out the question and the answer.
– I wish to be heard on the point of order. If anyone wants to be unreasonable, we might move a motion so that questions can be read out irrespective of the Standing Orders, if there are sufficient numbers to carry the motion.
– I think honourable senators should ask for leave.
– Order! Let me clear up this whole matter. It has been the custom for honourable senators to follow the established practice. This has been a commonsense practice. I stated the position earlier. If honourable senators had listened to what I said they would have heard me say: ‘In view of the long established practice 1 suggest that any honourable senator wishing to read his question when the proceedings are not being broadcast should ask for leave of the Senate’. That could not be clearer. There is no need for any fuss or commotion.
– by leave - I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question, upon notice:
– I now provide the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 881)
– by leave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question, upon notice:
– I now provide the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
It is possible that the honourable senator may be confused and meant to ask about a Mr J. F. O’Brien who resigned from the Department of Trade and Industry in September 1968,
(Question No. 889)
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question upon notice-
– The honourable senator is asking for leave, is he?
– No. I do not believe that 1. am obliged to ask for leave. Nothing in the Standing Orders compels me to do so. I say this with the greatest respect: In an instance such as this practice does not make a rule. If anyone can show me that under the Standing Orders I must ask for leave, I will readily submit. But I say with great respect that we Wm not allow standing orders that are not there to be imported into the book. Therefore, with great respect, I will read out my question-
– Order! Whether the Standing Orders are right or wrong, the honourable senator will not defy me and my rulings.
– This situation is unfortunate. It is getting completely out of hand. With respect, Mr President, I draw your attention to standing order 102-
– Is the honourable senator speaking to a point of order?
– I am speaking to you, Mr President.
– As a matter of fact the whole discussion is out of order. I. do not know why Senator Willesee is speaking to me. Unless he wishes to raise a point of order I do not think I can hear him.
– Mr President, will you accept a point of order?
– On a point of order, I am trying to assist in a position which, in the heat of the moment, is getting out of control but which, in the long term, affects the rights of all honourable senators. I draw attention to standing order 102, which reads:
A Senator, on being requested by the Senator who has given Notice, may ask the Question of which Notice has been given.
This applies to a situation which commonly happens when an honourable senator has given notice, is absent and requests another senator, generally the Whip, to ask that question on his behalf. Surely inferentially at least if not-
– The standing order does not say that at all, not even inferentially.
– Senator Byrne seems to suggest that I cannot read. I take the standing order to mean that a senator can give notice and, if he is absent, request a colleague, generally the Whip, to ask the question on his behalf. Surely the salient point here is that the question of which notice has been given may be asked. I agree immediately that we are dealing with something that might be termed off-beat, but the standing order clearly indicates that the question may be asked.
Apart from that we have a situation where honourable senators may ask questions without notice. The Standing Orders clearly provide for that. The practice of giving the number of the question which is on notice has come about only since we superimposed, for good or for evil - and I have often wondered which - the practice of broadcasting the proceedings. Surely if an honourable senator wants to ask his question again there can be no harm in his so doing. Today Senator Kennelly and many other honourable senators want to ask their questions. The introduction of the asking of questions on notice by leave is against the right of the honourable senators concerned. By refusing leave, one person can prevent the reading of the question. I ask honourable senators to dissociate their minds from the present circumstances and to look at the long term situation in the Parliament, should honourable senators, having given notice, not be allowed to read their questions. The Minister in replying may repeat a question if he wishes, but if he does not wish to repeat it he does not have to do so. Those who have been here for any length of time will remember one jovial man who sat on the front bench and to questions on notice replied: ‘The answers to the five questions are: Yes, yes, yes, no and yes.’ Honourable senators had to work out the answer from there.
– He would say: ‘The answer to No. 1 is: No. The answer to Nos 2, 3. 4 and 5 is: See the answer to No. I.’
– We all know who I mean. What are we trying to do? Firstly we are trying to stultify the proceedings of the Senate in that the honourable senator is not allowed to ask the question if he so wishes. The proceedings should never be stultified. However much we may bore one another, we have certain rights. We may ask questions and make speeches. That right should never be taken from honourable senators. I suggest that inferentially at least standing order 102 indicates that the person who has given notice has the right to read the question if he is so inclined.
– On the point of order, looking at the Standing Orders it seems to me that if an honourable senator insists upon asking the question of which he has given notice he is entitled so to do. Standing order 101 states:
Notice of Question shall be given by a Senator delivering the same at the Table, fairly written, printed, or typed, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for asking such Question, or such notice may be given by one Senator on behalf of another.
Standing order 102 states:
A Senator, on being requested by the Senator who has given Notice, may ask the Question of which Notice has been given.
Senator Willesee’s argument carries a great deal of weight in that if an honourable senator has to ask for leave any honourable senator can deprive him of the right to read the question, which right seems to be given by the Standing Orders. The reality of the matter seems to be this: In the same way that we have adopted the procedure of voluntary restraint in regard to the length of a speech when the proceedings are being broadcast, we have adopted this procedure in relation to the asking of questions on notice when the proceedings are not being broadcast. The matter is one of voluntary restraint by honourable senators. That seems to be the practice. All of us have regarded it as a commonsense practice for most occasions. Here we have a large number of questions in regard to an important topic. Honourable senators have had to wait to hear the answers to the questions on notice. In answer to questions without notice today often they were referred to the answers which were to be given. These matters are of concern to everyone watching the proceedings of this place. After all, they are proceedings in public. If questions are not read although the answers are given the public nature of the proceedings is detracted from.
With respect, I agree with what you, Mr President, have said. The discussion is about the past practice. The practice has been operating by way of voluntary restraint in the same way that the practice in regard to speaking whilst proceedings are being broadcast has been operating. I have no doubt that, if somebody insisted on continuing his speech whilst the proceedings were being broadcast - because of the importance of a matter or for any other reason - strictly he would be entitled to speak according to the limits set out in the Standing Orders and not according to the times which have been agreed upon voluntarily. Mr President, the advice of the Opposition is that we do think that the ruling ought to be the other way. May I suggest that commonsense ought to dictate that we resolve the matter by agreeing on a certain course now and referring thi: matter to the Standing Orders Committee? lt might properly be discussed by that Committee. If a motion were to be moved without notice that questions as well as answers be read, I imagine it would be agreed to. I think that would be the feeling of the Senate. I suggest we would rather do that than have the subject debated at great length on the honourable senator’s point of order.
– 1 did not intend to direct my mind to the point of order, but I want to make it clear that the President has given a ruling that leave is necessary and in fact has been given. Senator Kennelly has challenged the need to ask for leave. I agree with Senator Murphy that, if we could avoid a crisis on the matter today, it could be discussed by the Standing Orders Committee. I make it perfectly clear that I am prepared - and I would instruct my colleagues so to do - to read the question and answer if that would solve the problem. 1 do not think we should be debating the Standing Orders today. I would be prepared to move a motion that Senator Kennelly be given leave to ask the question, if that would help the situation. He took the point that he should not have to ask leave. I am trying to avoid a situation arising, because all of us want the questions asked and answered. Mr President, I would ask for your indulgence. I want to make it abundantly clear that I stand by your ruling. When the President rules we on this side stand by his ruling. I do not want a situation to be created today. I would like the Standing Orders Committee to deal with the matter.
– This procedure is not something that I have just thought up by myself. For 60 years or more it has been the practice and it has worked satisfactorily. If honourable senators find that the practice that I am adopting today, which is in line with what has been done through those years, needs further review then I have no objection lo calling a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee at 7 p.m. to discuss the matter. I cannot be more open than that. If honourable senators wish to have the matter investigated with a view to deciding whether or not they wish the practice to continue I shall call a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee at any time that suits honourable senators.
– Speaking to the point of order-
– There is no point of order before the Senate, but go ahead anyway.
– I thought Senator Willesee raised a point of order.
– It was a doubtful point of order, but I indulged him to the extent of allowing him to speak. In any case, you may proceed.
– I want to say only one thing. I am quite prepared, as always, to accept the graces of the Leader of the Government. I felt certain that I would be given leave to read my questions, but let me say in a most friendly way that I do not browbeat anyone. I give it and I take it. I want to assure the Senate that at no time would I ever attempt to browbeat the President of this Senate.
– I want to say two things. Firstly, I insist that I did raise a point of order. I was within my rights in doing so. Secondly, I suggest a way around this difficulty. I would withdraw my point of order now on the understanding that you, Mr President, will look at this matter at 7 o’clock tonight.
– I will call a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee. I will be at the meeting. How many others will turn up I could not say.
(Question No. 889)
– by leave-I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question upon notice:
– I provide the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 891)
– byleave - I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question upon notice:
Were any representations made to the Minister to accept the resignation of Mr Hoffmann last November? If so, were such representations made before or after the resignation was received, and by whom were the representations made?
– I provide the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes. Mr Hoffmann wrote to me requesting me to explore the possibility of allowing him to resign. I forwarded the letter to the Department without comment. Mr Hoffmann subsequently submitted his resignation. No other representations were made to me, by any person or any organisation.
(Question No. 894)
– byleave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question upon notice:
– I provide the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 897)
– byleave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question, upon notice:
– I provide the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1.I had been informed that an officer of my Department was to be charged with improper conduct but did not know the details of the charge until I received the letter from Mr Hoffmann referred to in my answer to Question No. 891.
(Question No. 899)
– by leave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following question, upon notice:
Is it not a fact that turtle skins arc a prohibited import and thus are not subject to duties of any kind? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate of the nature of the charge preferred against Mr Hoffmann and of any penalty inflicted?
– I provide the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The turtle skins covered by this import, that is treated turtle skins, are not a prohibited import and are subject to duty.
(Question No. 902)
– byleave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following questions upon notice:
– I provide the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 903)
– by leave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following questions upon notice:
– I provide the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 907)
– byleave- I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise the following questions, upon notice:
– I provide the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 855)
– byleave- I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Senate will be aware of the well established general principle that neither positive nor negative information as to ASlO’s activities is given. This practice was followed by Mr Chifley, by Sir Robert Menzies and by Mr Harold Holt, and the Government does not propose to depart from it.
(Question No. 857)
– by leave- I ask the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral the following questions, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
See answer to Question No. 855.
(Question No. 858)
– by leave- I ask the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral the following question, upon notice:
Is the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation agent, referred to in the Press article by Eric Walsh, who poses as an employee of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and appears to make a fulltime job of penetrating the Labor Party and mixing regularly with a fixed group of Labor men, who are unaware of his true occupation, paid a salary out of the annual allocation of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department or the Security special allocation?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
The honourable senator does not identify in his question the member of the Australian Labor Party to whom he refers. Even if he had, I would have answered his question in the terms of my reply to Question No. 857.
(Question No. 859)
– by leave - I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions: 1 refer to the previous answers given in regard to confirming or denying allegations made concerning the actions of ASIO. However, since a cognate matter has been raised in the Senate I can state that I have been assured by the Department of Customs and Excise, by the Public Service Board and by ASIO that there is no truth whatever in the allegation made by Mr Walsh that ASIO intervened in the case of Mr Hoffmann. ASIO did not intervene or make any approaches in any way either directly or indirectly either with myself or the Minister for Customs and Excise or the Public Service Board.
(Question No. 898)
– byleave - On behalf of Senator WheeldonI ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice:
– The Prime Minis ter has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 890)
– by leave- I ask the
Minister representing the Prime Minister the following question, upon notice:
In view of the reflection cast on the Public Service Board in publishing misleading information in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ of 14th November 1968 to the effect that Mr G. C. Hoffmann was dismissed, when, according to the Minister for Customs arid Excise, he resigned, what action is being taken to delete the reference in the ‘Gazette’ of 14th November and to publish a notice of resignation of this officer and, also, to publish an apology that the previous announcement was misleading?
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Under the powers conferred upon it by the Parliament the Public Service Board has the sole statutory right and responsibility to dismiss, or to accept the resignation of, officers of the Third or Fourth Divisions of the Public Service. The notice published in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ of 14th November 1968 was published at the direction of the Public Service Board and Mr Hoffmann’s resignation was accepted by the Board subsequently. The Public Service Board has advised me that it proposes to insert an amending notice in the ‘Gazette’ but that it does not notify resignations in the ‘Gazette’.
– On 19th November 1968 Senator Wheeldon asked a question concerning the death sentence of Mr Alexander Panagoulis. I undertook to follow this question through with the Minister for External Affairs. The Minister has now provided the following details:
An identical question was asked by Senator Georges.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Sound Broadcasting Studios for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Collinswood, South Australia.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusion of the Committee is as follows:
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) proposed: That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I am afraid I must use the forms of the House on the first reading of this measure to speak about a particular matter, but I do not want anyone to think that there are any sour grapes about the matter when I use a bill concerning grapes to discuss the Governor-Generalship of Australia. As an independent senator I have only two opportunities of presenting my views to the Parliament. One is when speaking on a financial bill and the other is on the motion for the adjournment. On 5th February I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in which I said:
Must protest against Press report that a politician is to be appointed to Governor-General. Such deplorable action by your Government would allow with complete justification a Labor Government to honour one of their own members for example Calwell. This political prostitution of the office of Governor-General can only be condemned or office abolished.
I would like to go on and make a statement about this. It is a shocking and humiliating appointment. It constitutes the most deplorable incident in the Government’s growing record of political jobbery. One is forced to the conclusion that it is expressly designed to lower the GovernorGeneralship in significance and esteem and so weaken our vital connection with Great Britain, and with the British Crown. But the appointment by his own Party of an active Party political leader to the office of Governor-General converts the GovernorGeneralship into a mere political plum. The Governor-General has high political respon sibilities, the discharge of which demands complete impartiality and complete detachment from party politics. These elements are not to be looked for in a man who, at the very moment of his appointment, is most actively engaged in party controversy in the very country whose GovernorGeneral he becomes. It is indeed a sad day for those many thousands of Australians who value the institution of the Crown, who understand its unifying importance, and who hitherto have always been glad to see in the Governor-General the really trusted personal representative of the King. This appointment exhibits a complete contempt for all Australians who call themselves British, who value the British connection, and who really appreciate the great truth that it is the loyalty to a common crown which marks out the relation between the British dominions as being different from any other association now to be found in the world.
I said earlier thatI would like to make a statement. Unfortunately I could not with originality make the statement that I have just made because it had already been made by none other than Mr R. G. Menzies in 1947. What I have just said is a repetition of the exact words that are credited to him in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 1st February of that year. Twenty-two years have now passed since that statement was made. But has there been any change from the position as it was when those words were first uttered? Is not every word that [ have just said equally true about the person who is about to become the incumbent of the office of Governor-General? Is it not really disgraceful that we should do such a thing as to make the highest office in the land a mere political plum?
– Do you consider that Sir William McKell in any way dishonoured or lowered the prestige of the position of Governor-General?
– I have just said exactly what Sir Robert Menzies said about Sir William McKell. I shall answer the honourable senator’s question in a few minutes after I have finished my speech. I have a point to make on that very subject. This is a degrading method of getting rid of your own members for the purpose of ensuring that the establishment is upheld and sustained in Parliament.
There are only a few places upstairs to which members can be kicked. We have no House of Lords in Australia to be placed above the Senate, so senators cannot be kicked upstairs in that way. Again, members of the House of Representatives cannot be kicked up to the Senate, so the Government is left with but a few posts round the world to which it can send its members as ambassadors. But now we have found a new plum. The Government cannot send Mr Hasluck to Washington for if it did he would be subservient to the very department over which he has been Minister for several years. So the Prime Minister is left with this question: ‘Where else can we get rid of one of my colleagues who might’ - 1 emphasise ‘might’ - ‘be an opponent in the future?’ There is only one place. So far as politics is concerned it does not matter what the nation thinks about it. The Prime Minister’s one thought is: ‘Let us get rid of this man. Let us make him GovernorGeneral.’ And that is what has been done. 1 do not want to enter into an argument as to whether the Governor-General should be an Australian or whether he should be an Englishman or of any other nationality is own opinions. 1 have my own belief. My strong belief is that if we are to have a Governor-General he should be the representative of the Queen, not the representative of the Prime Minister. That is my own point of view as to our Governor-General, if we are to have one. Whether he should be an Australian, an Englishman or of any other nationality is another argument. In my view the Queen should have the right to choose whomever she wants. There are many people in Australia who are worthy of the honour of being Governor-General. She could have chosen any Australian she preferred, but my point is that he would have to be chosen by the Queen herself.
– Is the honourable senator available for the position of Governor of Tasmania?
– I would be available for the position, but I believe that the position of Governor in each State should be abolished. Tt is an anachronism of colonialism. It is an office that has existed for far too long and it is time that each State position of Governor was abolished. Any
State that asks for financial assistance should have its attention directed to its expenditure on its Governor.
– But the honourable senator is still available?
– I am still available, but I would hate to be appointed and have my head chopped off the following week, so I think I would rather stay on in the Senate. I have given my views on the positions of Governor-General and State Governors. 1 return to the subject of the present appointment as Governor-General. We are told that the Governor-General Designate is a great Australian. That may be so, but it must be remembered that in future every Governor-General will have been a Minister of the Crown. That is what will happen. It does not matter which party is in office. The Australian Labor Party must wait for another 6 years before it comes to power, but then it will be prepared to appoint one of its own members to the position of Governor-General. If ever the Australian Democratic Labor Party gains control it may be able to direct the Prime Minister to appoint the man of its choice. The period of appointing a Queen’s representative has ended. This is the beginning of future political preferment. Who are these Ministers that they should get this preferment?
When the Senate is debating another fiscal Bill I will raise the question of the arrogance of Ministers who believe that next to God comes the Ministry. I will not go any further into that matter now. In future any Minister may be eligible to become Governor-General and that is why I am airing this problem now. I appreciate that it is too late to do anything about the present appointment, but I believe that I should express the views of many people in regard to this matter. Telegrams have been sent to the Prime Minister, even by members of the Liberal Party, condemning the appointment. Usually in discussing the appointment it is said that Sir Paul Hasluck is an Australian and we must have an Australian as Governor-General. There are many great men in Australia who could carry out the office with dignity and be well received. I refer to such men as Sir Denzil MacarthurOnslow, Sir Hudson Fysh and Sir Macfarlane Burnet. Instead, a politician has been chosen. He is an Australian, but that is all that can be said in favour of the appointment. I would not mind that Sir Paul Hasluck has been appointed if we could believe what he says.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– I rise to a point of order. Surely an honourable senator is not in order in speaking about the GovernorGeneral Designate of this great nation in the terms that Senator Turnbull was about to use. I ask for a withdrawal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have been listening carefully to what Senator Turnbull has been saying. I was in the course of stopping him when Senator Kennelly raised his point of order. I ask you, Senator Turnbull, not to proceed in reflecting upon the appointee.
– I was trying to point out that we may have a statement today and that it could be changed tomorrow. What we say today may not be in fact true tomorrow. I will give three examples to prove my point. As Minister for External Affairs in the Federal Parliament, Mr Hasluck stated on 26th March 1968 that there was no change in Australia’s Vietnam war policy when he was rejecting a proposal that there should be a temporary bait in the bombing of North Vietnam. But a week later he was defending President Johnson’s decision for a partial halt to the bombing. I put this as an example of how an opinion given today may be totally different tomorrow. 1 will give another example. In October 1967 Mr Hasluck told Parliament that the Vietnam war was being won, and 5 months later in his next major statement to Parliament he warned of the new and anxious situation’ which faced Australia in Vietnam. I will give yet another example. Before the 1967 Senate election he claimed that the conditions sought by Labor for continuing Australian participation in the Vietnam war were ‘very close to those sought by North Vietnam’. But he had not uttered one word of protest as the United States of America had adopted those conditions one by one. I am saying that what one thinks today may be totally different tomorrow. A man of integrity may believe on his appointment that he will in future have no political connections whatsoever, but in due course a change can come about.
I do not know whether Sir William McKell was a good Governor-General because I was not very much interested in Federal politics at that time. However, we understand that he was found to be a good politician in the eyes of the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies. Perhaps it is strictly a coincidence that he granted a double dissolution and had his term of office extended by 2 years.
– What rot. What a disreputable insinuation.
– lt may be a coincidence that when we had a politician as Governor of Tasmania the same thing happened. Dissolution was granted of the Tasmanian House of Assembly and the term of office of the Governor was extended. Is that a coincidence as well?
– What about Governor Game who defeated Lang?
– I cannot go back as far as Governor Game. I am trying to point out that, once a man is a politician he is always a politician. It does not matter what supporters of the appointment may say. A man remains a politician and is still prepared to play the game of politics. This has been shown previously and is one of the reasons why we condemn wholeheartedly .the appointment of a politician as Go over n or-General .
T5.17] - I am not closing the debate, but I hope that the debate will close shortly because I think it is rather unfortunate that the procedure for the first reading of a Bill should be used in the way that Senator Turnbull has used it. I have entered the debate only to make it abundantly clear that the Government will have no part in the views expressed by Senator Turnbull. With regard to the appointment by Her Majesty the Queen of His Excellency the Governor-General Designate, under standing order 417 references such as those made by the honourable senator should not have been made. We believe that Sir Paul Hasluck is a man of great integrity and capability. We believe that in the office for which he has been chosen he will serve Australia with distinction and credit to himself and the Commonwealth. For my part, 1 want to make it abundantly clear that we deplore the raising of this matter in the way in which it has been raised.
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) (5.19]- 1 agree wholeheartedly with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson). Leaving aside altogether the question of the individual, I am pleased that the Governor-General Designate is a native of this country. This aspect is most pleasing to me. Following the trend of Senator Turnbull’s remarks, 1 would not have been at all pleased if the office had been given to a person from outside this nation, irrespective of his capability. I do not know whether Senator Turnbull is upset at Sir Paul Hasluck being appointed Governor-General-
– He is disappointed.
– That may be right. I suppose he is a bit nervous and, as has been said, disappointed because he does not hold the balance of power in this chamber. I have seen some remarkable things happen in politics with people who hold the balance of power. I think the worst thing that could be done in a House of the Federal Parliament is to decry the person who will hold the office of GovernorGeneral. I understand that Sir Paul Hasluck has not yet taken up office but that he will. 1 wish him well. I am delighted that he has been appointed. I could reiterate word for word the statements of the Leader of the Government in the Senate in regard to this, but my main purpose in rising is to say that I am delighted that the person appointed is a native of this country and 1 hope that in the future whoever has the right to recommend to Her Majesty the Queen or to the ruling monarch at the time recommends a person born in Australia.
– I accede to Senator Turnbull the right to criticise the appointment of a politician to the high office of GovernorGeneral of Australia, but, frankly, I do not agree with him. I do not understand why he has criticised the appointment. I cannot understand why a perosn may be considered to be worthy of being a parliamentarian or, as they are so often called in this country, a politician but unworthy of being
Governor-General of Australia. I have never had it explained to me why a politician who has served his Party as a Minister in the Commonwealth Parliament is any less able or less honourable than a soldier, businessman or any other person to fill the position. I am delighted that a plank of the platform of the Australian Labor Party that has been in existence for many years has been adopted by the Liberal Party of Australia. I do not care who adopts these policies because when they are for the good of the country I want to see them adopted.
What I could not follow in Senator Turnbull’s argument - and this point was also raised when Sir William McKell was appointed Governor-General - was the suggestion that if the government of the day appoints one of its own political colour a liaison will thereby be set up and the Governor-General will go hand in glove with whatever the Government decides. I do not think that a greater supporter of the ALP than Sir William McKell ever trod the boards of the Australian political scene. That is the opinion I gained of him after having talked to him over the last couple of years and studying his career carefully. But when it came to a question of a double dissolution Sir William McKell was not influenced by what his former Party wanted at the time. In the highest terms of his office he gave the judicial decision which was demanded by the circumstances of the day. But we are told that a politician should not be appointed Governor-Genera!. The implication is that the Governor-General will go hand in glove with his former political Party, even though that was not the case with Sir William McKell. I think that Sir William McKell’s actions should dispel for all time any fears that because the Governor-General was once a member of the Government he will go hand in glove with the Government in his new duties of Governor-General.
As Senator Kennelly pointed out, this is another indication of the progress of Australia in that we will have had two native born Governors-General in succession. Looking back with the advantage of hindsight I have often though that if the present holder of the office had followed Sir William McKell, with Sir Paul Hasluck in turn following him, we would have had an unbroken line of Australian born Governors-General. I hope that will be the position in the future. But I merely rose to point out that because a person is a politician does not mean that he has not the experience, honour, character and ability to fill the position of Governor-General of Australia.
– 1 rise to discuss some aspects of the annual report of the Joint Coal Board for 1967-68, which was tabled in this House in November last year. Unfortunately, it was tabled too late in the Budget session for the Senate to debate its contents. I request the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to ensure that it is tabled at an earlier stage so that this will not happen again. 1 wish to bring some aspects of that report to the attention of the Government and to ask the Government where it stands in relation to the coal industry. The present situation woul’d have one believe that the coal industry is thriving, that we are on top of the world and that everything is all right. But I am not one to believe that. I agree that there have been some great improvements in the coal industry and that things have happened in recent years under semi-government control which are praiseworthy. But other aspects should be criticised. I have always pointed out in this chamber that supplies of coking coal are limited and that we should be careful how and at what price we sell our coking coal. Honourable senators are no doubt aware that I consider we are selling our coking coal at bargain prices and that our quality coal is being sold at cheap prices to the detriment of the coal industry in Australia. Competition is very keen among the States, companies and all sorts of selling agents in the coal industry.
– If the price went up who would get the profit?
– I did not hear the honourable senator’s interjection.
– What would happen if we sold at a higher price, as the honourable senator is advocating?
– I think we woul’d still get into the Japanese market.
– Who would get the profits?
– The companies would. What I am saying is that we are selling our coal too cheaply in order to get into what are at the most temporary markets. The Japanese do not give extended contracts. The day is coming - and it may not be very far off - when the Japanese market will start to contract. The Japanese will buy their coal from still cheaper markets. I shall quote from the annual report of the Joint Coal Board to prove what I am saying. Australia received a good proportion of Japanese contracts last year, but at a price which in my opinion was far too cheap. The American price for coking coal was $18.60 a ton whereas the Australian price was $12.95 a ton.
– American or Australian dollars?
– They are Australian dollars, of course. The prices per ton quoted by other countries were: The Soviet Union $14.38, Canada $14.87, Mainland China $13.27, Poland $15.37, West Germany $18.95, Taiwan $13.21, and Australia is at the bottom of the list. Naturally it has the contracts. They are not long term contracts; they are short term. The Joint Coal Board has issued a warning in its report to the Government - I would assume it is directed towards the Government because it is to the Government that the report is issued - that there are great dangers facing Australia regarding overseas markets for the supply of coking coal unless these prices are controlled in some way. The Coal Board report says that competing forces in Australia ought not be allowed to bring the price down to the danger point to get what could be insecure exports. The Government has already acted, of course, on the question of ore. Did it not set a minimum price for export? It has taken the same sort of action in regard to other metals where competition was beginning to force down the price. I suggest that the Minister should have a look at the report of the Joint Coal Board, study it closely and discuss with the Government whether the Board’s warnings regarding the low cost of Australian coking coal sold on the Japanese market are justified.
– I have listened with very keen interest to what the honourable senator has said and I might inform him that I have read that section of the Joint Coal Board’s report. It is very interesting to note that the Board claims that it has now established a formula which specifically states that if the Australian companies were getting a price equal to that obtained by the American coal producing companies in Japan there would be a rise in the Australian price of between $1 and $2 a ton. The problem that is associated with the selling of coal to Japan is that the Japanese steel making companies appoint one buyer to negotiate all the purchases of coal from Queensland and another to purchase all their requirements of coal from New South Wales. Of course, there is competition between Australian companies to get these contracts - as well as competition between Australian and overseas companies - but the Board is quite specific in its advice that if we were receiving a price equal to what the Americans receive for the same quality on this formula basis the Australian price of coal could be increased by between $1 and $2 a ton. I will take up the matters raised by the honourable senator - both the price formula and the earlier tabling of the report of the Joint Coal Board so that honourable senators next year may have a greater opportunity to study it.
– The importance of the Senate in the Government of this country has been highlighted in the last week since it resumed after the summer recess. Important matters about which reports had been circulating for some months were not brought to the notice of the Parliament and the people of Australia until the forms of the Senate were used. But last November the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was drawn to a matter of great national importance by the publication ‘Incentive’. The Prime Minister chose to ignore or avoid the issue at the time and he has by default given rise to grave concern over such matters as Public Service procedure, security organisation activity, Department of Customs and Excise internal integrity, diplomatic immunity and privilege, and our relations with a friendly power, our guest in Canberra, with whom a vast amount of trade is conducted. The 11 th November 1968 issue of Incentive’ staled:
The Prime Minister has been informed of certain allegations involving the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the embassy of a foreign government in Canberra. These allegations are directly connected with the recent dismissal of an officer from the Department of Customs. The matter has been the subject of worried private discussion in the higher reaches of the Commonwealth Public Service.
The publication continued on the second page:
In recent weeks, there has been much discussion in the Public Service about the terms of the dismissal of an officer from the Department of Customs and about certain associated problems in the Department of Trade, involving the Commonwealth Police. It had been thought until the last few days that these troublesome issues might be kept under wraps. However, certain recent developments have involved the Prime Minister in what could be an extremely embarrassing series of revelations.
The Prime Minister has been informed of certain allegations involving the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the embassy of a foreign Government in Canberra. These allegations are directly connected with the dismissal of the officer from the Department of Customs. As yet, there is no indication whether the Prime Minister has made inquiries into the truth of allegations made, against the ASIO, of in effect spying on a foreign government in Canberra.
However, independent inquiries have ascertained that in one important respect the allegations made and in the hands of the Prime Minister are true.
Mr Gorton must know that the matters raised in the allegations that have been, made to him, involving the ASIO, are also known to his political opponents. He must also know that the subject matter of the allegations involving the Department of Customs and the ASIO are the subject of comment and speculation within a restricted group of senior officials in the Commonwealth Public Service and that one effect of this high level discussion has been to confirm in the minds of many responsible officers the impression that the ASIO people are gumshoe men in the true comic book tradition.
On 3rd March the same publication, Incentive’, stated:
Mr Gorton cannot be surprised that the Hoffman affair has blown up in public. The matter was first exclusively reported in ‘Incentive’ back in November. The Japanese were told at that time about the substance of Mrs Hoffman’s allegations in her letter to Mr Gorton. The Customs Department knew all about Mrs Hoffman and Mr Hoffman. The Department of Trade and Industry also knew, as at that time an officer of the Department of Trade, allegedly in cahoots with Mr Hoffman, resigned from the Department after a long grilling by the Commonwealth Police at the time Mr Malcolm Summers was acting head of the Department of Trade. There has been constant talk in the Commonwealth Public Service about the matter in the last three months and the dogs have been barking that there would be trouble when Parliament reassembled. One enterprising journalist, Mr Eric Walsh of the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ got on to :he story and now it is all coming out into the open. In her letter to Mr Gorton, Mrs Hoffman names the ASIO officer with whom she had contact when, as she states, she was taking home documents every night from the Japanese Embassy, to have them copied by ASIO before she took them back the next morning.
Mrs Hoffman’s letter to the Prime Minister was available for inspection, in photostat form, back in November, when the first reports of the allegations that ASIO had an agent working in a foreign embassy in Canberra, were made in incentive’. That was back in early November.
– -From what document is the honourable senator reading?
– I want to achieve some continuity, but I repeat that the document is ‘Incentive’. The first issue from which 1 quoted was dated 1 1th November last, and the one from which 1 am quoting now is dated 3rd March, lt states:
In her letter, Mrs Hoffman makes an impassioned plea lo Mr Gorton for the reinstatement of her husband, who at that stage was under notice of dismissal from the Customs Department. She speaks, in her letter, about the unfair treatment which she said had been accorded to her husband. She says that he had served his country well in war and in peace and she pleaded that he be given his job back.
She then goes on to say that her husband had been approached by someone from the Japanese Embassy asking for certain information - of a pretty routine kind. Her husband then approached the ASIO to tell them what had happened.
Mrs Hoffman goes on to say in her letter that she had been asked by the ASIO (and she mentioned the name of the ASIO officer concerned) to make reports from the files of the Japanese Embassy where she had been employed.
Mr Gorton has surely had sufficient warning that trouble was coming over this matter. The issue was raised in ‘Incentive’ over three months ago and there has been constant talk inside the Commonwealth Public Service over the matter. The Japanese have known about Mrs Hoffman’s allegations since early November last year. The Department of Trade and Industry, at the very highest level, has known that one of its officers (since resigned) has been involved with Mr Hoffman and with the Commonwealth Police and has resigned, after the Commonwealth Police in their usual style made an unholy mess with the investigations. The Customs Department have known about the whole of these matters. So have other officers of the Commonwealth Public Service.
The one man who has tried lo suggest that all these matters have been trumped up has been the Prime Minister himself, who has studiously ignored all the warnings that trouble is coming.
I put it to the Senate that these are matters of great public importance. The document also states:
During the last week most of the public discussion about the ASIO, the Customs Department and Mr Hoffman has related to the problems fa the Customs Department itself.
However, it is a fact that much of the problem relating to the administration of the by-law matters originated in the Department of Trade and Industry. In that Department, the Commonwealth Police had one officer under surveillance for several months. Visits to the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney by one officer of the Department of Trade and Industry were monitored by the Commonwealth Police. Several months ago, about the same time as Mr Hoffman was given his walking papers by a panicky Alan Carmody, in the Customs Department, another officer in the Department of Trade and Industry, was. on his own admission, interrogated for virtually the whole of one day by representatives of the Commonwealth Police.
According to the statements made by this officer, the Commonwealth Police at one stage tried to ring in a tape recorder, which was hidden behind a desk and was discovered by the officer in question during the coarse of the investigation. Mr Malcolm Summers was acting head of the Department of Trade at the time.
As it turned out. no prosecution was launched by / llC Commonwealth Police against the officer concerned in the Department of Trade. He resigned from the Department on honourable terms and was subsequently to establish himself in business in Canberra.
In this, it would seem that the Department of Trade acted with more adroitness to protect the departmental name from any suspicion than was the case in the Customs Department.
It does appear, however, that the allegation made by Mrs Hoffman, that she was passing on documents from the Japanese Embassy, to the ASIO, came as a surprise lo the Japanese, who were no doubt horrified to believe that the ASIO had placed what was in effect an agent within the Japanese Embassy.
The Japanese are therefore quite well prepared for the present situation, in that they have known for a long while that Mrs Hoffman had said the ASIO had had her on the payroll.
The news of the Hoffman problem has not come as a surprise to the Japanese Embassy. The Japanese Government was informed about the allegations made by Mrs Hoffman at the time her letter to the Prime Minister began to circulate in Canberra. It was quickly ascertained that Mrs Hoffman had indeed been working for the Japanese Embassy. This established at least the prima facie veracity of her allegations, made in her letter to Mr Gorton.
The document further states:
Judging from some of the answers he gave to questions asked in the Senate last week and the number of questions he found necessary to be put on notice. Senator Scott seems to be in some doubt as lo the events surrounding the resignation of Mr G. C. Hoffman from the Department of Customs and Excise, lt may bc pertinent therefore, if ‘Incentive’ refreshed his memory on the facts as reported to us.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business)
Debate resumed from 26 February (vide page 141), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Senate considers that the construction of Chowilla Dam should proceed without delay and that, pending its completion, parties to the River Murray Waters Agreement should ensure that adequate water is available to the State of South Australia:
Further that the Commonwealth Government in discussions with the States concerned accept a greater share of the cost of constructing the dam.
Upon which Senator Cormack had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘Senate’, insert ‘realising the urgent need for additional supplies of water in the River Murray, urges the Commonwealth Government to take all necessary steps, in consultation with the Governments of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, to ensure that action is taken as soon as possible to provide such supplies; that all three States benefit therefrom; and, in particular, that South Australia’s quota of 1.254 million acre feet a year shall be substantially increased.’
– When the debate on Chowilla was adjourned last Wednesday I had been expressing some doubts as to why the project had not been proceeded with. I expressed the view that the Government had committed itself to the project and had spent approximately $6m in the preparation of works. I think it is wrong for the national Parliament to consider a scheme and then suddenly to jettison the whole proposition. Therefore there must be reasons for the decision not to proceed with Chowilla. I suggest that the reasons are political ones. If Sir Thomas Playford were still Premier of South Australia he would have put a substantial argument in favour of the national Parliament continuing the Chowilla project. Possibly more serious is the fact that the Parliament, having established that it would proceed with the project, through the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) openly sought the disapproval of the Chowilla site. The minutes of the meeting of the River Murray Commission, of which the Minister for National Development is President, reveal that he canvassed this situation. My information is that a report concerning the minutes states:
The President expressed his concern at any future delay in making a decision on a site for the next reservoir when irrigators were agitating for more storage. Earlier in the Minutes, Mr Fairbairn is quoted as saying that the selection of the next dam site on the River Murray ‘was both a political and technical question’.
It seems clear that at least from April last year the Commissioners, other than the South Australian representative, were seeking to direct the Technical Committee to provide a report to justify a decision in favour of an upper Murray storage. This, alone, gives great weight to the statement of Sir Thomas Playford that the studies of the Technical Committee were based on politically biased assumptions.
– Did Mr Fairbairn say that?
– Mr Fairbairn said that. That is in the minutes of the meeting of the River Murray Commission of 24th April 1968. The reasons that have been canvassed are, firstly, that Chowilla would cost considerably more than the proposal now introduced by the Commission and, secondly, the salinity problem. My information is that the new proposal will cost considerably more. I submit that we must take into consideration the substantial amount already provided for the establishment of Chowilla and also the wishes of the people of South Australia. The people of South Australia have expressed concern at the fact that Chowilla will not proceed. Senator Bishop is well known to honourable senators. I suggest that his colleagues from South Australia are well known to them also. I challenge the Government to suggest that they would be other than honest in their approach to the problem. They have indicated, with evidence, the substantial agitation in South Australia for the construction of the Chowilla Dam.
Who is to say what will be the best proposition for reducing the saline content of the waters? Governments in other parts of the world have embarked on schemes to arrest salinity. Practically overnight the Government might find itself in possession of a solution to the problem of salinity in these waters. To my way of thinking it is perfectly clear that the Chowilla Dam proposal has been set aside because of political influences. If Sir Thomas Playford had still been Premier of South Australia he would have fought tenaciously, as he is doing at this very moment, to ensure that the national Parliament continued with the Chowilla project, notwithstanding any other evidence that may have been put before it. In the past many honourable senators opposite said what a wonderful man Sir Thomas was for South Australia. Now they completely ignore his advice because it does not suit them.
– Oh, no.
– Senator Cormack says: ‘Oh, no’. Sir Thomas Playford is still agitating for the continuance of the Chowilla project, but apparently his views are not to be heard on this occasion. I submit that there is a strong claim, as put forward by Senator Bishop and his colleagues, for the national Parliament even at this late stage lo say: ‘We have endorsed the proposition for Chowilla. We now reaffirm that decision.’
– 1 am pleased to take part in this debate if only to put forward in condensed form my views on the subject. I think all the technical points have been more than well canvassed. Therefore I merely put forward my own ideas on the matter. I think the most important thing that we have to decide in this issue is how South Australia can get as much water as possible. I maintain that it will get more water by the building of a dam at Dartmouth than it will by the building of a dam at Chowilla, lt seems to me that this point has been overlooked by so many people in South Australia. The lime was when we thought that Chowilla would give us the required guarantee of water, but since the cost has risen so incredibly - when tenders were called the lowest price was, I think, $68m - it has become necessary to ascertain whether some other site might be more suitable not only for South Australia but for Australia in general. We, as national politicians, have to look after the interests of our own States and to ensure that arguments are considered from a national viewpoint. Within those limits we must ensure that our own State is well looked after. lt is being well looked after.
The issue that we are debating tonight is a straightforward technical comparison of two possible dam sites and of which will afford the greater benefit. It would seem, too, that we have to consider which of these dams gives the greater yield. This is a word which I think has been misunderstood by many people, including Sir Thomas Playford. I do not believe that these people are considering the yield. They are considering the flow of the river and not the minimum quantity of water that can be guaranteed from either dam. In addition to giving a yield nearly five times greater than that of Chowilla Dam, the Dartmouth Dam has an added advantage which has not been mentioned here very much or at all. That is the fact that it will be able to generate electricity. Chowilla could not do this, lt may be said that electricity at Dartmouth would not benefit South Australia. In the very near future I believe all the electrical systems of the eastern States will need to be linked up, particularly when we consider the introduction of nuclear power stations. Wherever electricity can be generated in the eastern States it will be of advantage to South Australia. The fact that Dartmouth can generate electricity should not be overlooked.
It is of great significance that the Ministers of the three States and the Commonwealth who make up the four members of the River Murray Commission will be meeting this Friday to decide how best to formulate an agreement on the distribution of the waters of the River Murray should Dartmouth be the dam which is agreed upon to be constructed. I should state at this point that South Australia has not agreed to the Dartmouth proposal yet. If South Australia can get more water from the building of the Dartmouth Dam than from the building of Chowilla, the South Australian Government will rightly agree to the construction of the dam at Dartmouth. I am quite sure that South Australia will come out of the meeting on Friday with a very much enlarged allocation of water. This is the all-important issue.
– That is the basis for the amendment.
– That is right. Some people keep referring to the agreement that was made in 1961, but fortunately a need for further investigation has arisen, firstly, because of the cost factor which I have previously mentioned and, secondly, because of arguments that have come up about salinity and evaporation. Many members of the Opposition have quoted reports of the technicians that the Chowilla Dam will even out the peaks of salinity in South Australia, but they have not gone on to point out that, as the Minister has said in other places, the consultants’ studies of the hydrological records over 50 years show that for some periods the salinity of the outflow from Chowilla would remain at a high level - substantially higher than without Chowilla - for considerable lengths of time in certain drought years. This is significant. Although it has been stressed that salinity is not a problem in normal years, in drought years it could still be a problem if South Australia were depending upon Chowilla for its water.
Another reason why it has been necessary to have further investigations is to look into the quantity of the water which would be available. It has been pointed out that nearly 1 million acre feet of additional water would be available from Chowilla but that more water still would be available if Dartmouth were built. What we need to remember is that it is in a year of restriction that we have to look to our maximum available amount of water. The building of Dartmouth would undoubtedly limit the number of years which would be declared restricted years. Therefore, we would not be looking for this equal sharing of the water on the 5-5-5 basis to the same extent we would be if the Chowilla Dam were constructed. Arguments have been put forward by the Opposition that water has been wasted because it has been allowed to flow out to sea. This is quite an irrelevant argument, because it is impossible to regulate the flow of any river and stop some water flowing out to sea.
– Does not the honourable senator agree that we could dam it and have Chowilla as the last reservoir?
– I believe that we have to control the flow of the river, but we cannot dam it all at Chowilla or anywhere else as some has to Hush out Lake Alexandria at the end of the river. By building a dam at Dartmouth we are adding to the control of the river. However, I do not say that it is the end of the control. 1 hope and believe that one day Chowilla will also be built. But the question we have to look at now is: Which dam will give the better control of the river as soon as possible and thus minimise the amount of water that does flow out to sea.
It seems very regrettable that Sir Thomas Playford has entered into a debate on this subject as he has. Senator Milliner said that Government supporters had said that he was 11543/69- S-p] a great South Australian. He was and he still is. But it is most unfortunate that he has entered into a debate on a subject about which he can no longer be fully informed of the facts. The Premier of South Australia is the one who is best informed. 1 am quite ready to believe that, if the Premier of South Australia says that he can best serve the State by negotiating for more water from Dartmouth, that is the right approach. It is regrettable that Sir Thomas Playford should make what I believe are some inaccurate statements. He has based his arguments on the situation as it was in 1961. It has been pointed out that the results of the relatively small number of investigations made then were wrong.
– ls the honourable senator suggesting that Sir Thomas Playford has not read the technical reports?
– -I am suggesting that he is still living in 1961 and that he is basing his arguments on those that he very appropriately produced in 1961 to try to get more water for South Australia. If he had not produced that plan at that time, I doubt that we would be discussing the building of the Dartmouth Dam at the moment. He did a great job for South Australia in our need for more and better water.
– Premier Dunstan carried on the crusade.
– Yes, he did carry it on, but he saw the importance of further investigation. He was quite right. These later investigations have proved that there was a need to change our thinking. Sir Thomas Playford’s arguments are not based on the increase in the estimated cost for the dam at Chowilla. This is a very significant point. If the increase in the estimated cost is so enormous, obviously it is necessary to examine other possible and comparable dam sites.
– ls the honourable senator saying that Sir Thomas Playford cannot analyse a report?
– I am saying that he is not taking all factors into consideration. It is very easy for someone to live in the past. I believe that this is what he is doing.
– Senator Buttfield should read what Sir Thomas Playford said in the Advertiser’.
– He said a lot of things. I say that I do not think that he is as well informed now as he used to be. He has not based his arguments on what has happened since the negotiations of 1961. I refer particularly to the flow of the river during the drought last year. It was shown very clearly then that it was necessary to keep an additional amount of water flowing in the river around Mildura in order to alleviate the salinity problem. This was a problem that was not evident in 1961 - the drought brought it to the fore.
– What does the report of the River Murray Commission say about salinity?
– Senator Bishop evidently was not here when I spoke about that. I will not repeat it. He can read it in Hansard. Another point that Sir Thomas Playford has not taken into consideration is the evaporation from Chowilla in comparison with the evaporation from Dartmouth.
– What is the basis for that statement?
– Does the honourable senator disagree with the figures that were given by the experts? These people are non-political and have no reason to give biased information. They have pointed out that the evaporation from Chowilla would be in the vicinity of 900.000 acre feet in comparison with 15,000 acre feet from Dartmouth.
– Would the honourable senator explain how they get the figure?
– Would Senator Bishop like to come over here and make the speech? There is another argument that Sir Thomas Playford and a good many other people use. That is that the Hume Dam has not filled three times in 10 years. This is a distortion of the facts, because we well know by now that the Hume Dam has not been allowed to fill when it was convenient to open the gates and let the water out rather than leave it spill.
– Who was to blame for that?
– No-one is to blame at all. It was the opportune thing not to allow the dam to overflow but to let the water out through gates. There were various reasons for doing this. Quite obviously the Hume Dam could fill more frequently. Therefore, to have a dam within a dam, as is proposed, is quite reasonable. More water can be held in storage and released when necessary. That leads me to the next argument, which is that Dartmouth Dam is 6 weeks or 1,200 miles away from South Australia. This is an absurd argument because all the water in the river is owned by the River Murray Commission. In the 50 years in which the River Murray Commission has been operating a control of the river it has not failed to let the water down the river according to the terms of the River Murray Waters Agreement. The Commission knows in advance how much water will be available at a given time and can therefore be released. For example, at least 6 weeks ahead of time it can say to South Australians: ‘We will let 18,000 acre feet down the river’. The South Australian authorities then regulate the amount of water which they call on from Lake Victoria for irrigation and for use in the cities. It seems to be often forgotten that Lake Victoria is very large. It is the twelfth largest water storage area in Australia, but it is not given this recognition. When we have that large quantity of water just over the border, available to flow into South Australia immediately on request, it is absurd to say that we have to wait 6 weeks for water to be made available in that State.
– We cannot get it on request as it is 6 weeks away. Is it better to have the water immediately available in your own State or to be faced with a delay of 6 weeks?
– I am saying that water is available on request when we have Lake Victoria, the twelfth largest dam in Australia, just over the border. Water can be released from the lake immediately while over a period of weeks replacement will flow down the river from Hume or Dartmouth. The River Murray Commission is well aware of the amount of water that will be available in the river. Another factor relating to the filling of the Hume reservoir that has not been mentioned in the debate is that more water will be coming into that storage very soon from the Snowy Mountains scheme. An additional 500,000 acre feet of water is due to come into the Hume Reservoir from that source. Obviously if this flowed into the Hume Dam it would overflow frequently. Consequently, it is necessary to hold back the water further upstream in a dam such as the one proposed at Dartmouth and provide extra storage above the distribution point at Hume Weir.
– What about the water coming down the Darling?
– That also is regulated by the River Murray Commission in the Menindee Lakes and there is an agreement which determines how much of that is available for South Australia. Every drop of water in the River Murray system is regulated by the River Murray Commission and South Australia has a voice, along with three other voices, on the Commission. South Australia’s representative on the River Murray Commission has agreed that the recommendation for Dartmouth is the best so I think that South Australia’s interests are being protected. What would it benefit South Australia’s representative to agree to the Dartmouth proposal if it were not best for South Australia?
– He has been conned into it.
– It is absurd to say that he has been conned into it. What would an engineer on the River Murray Commission gain from being conned?
– If the honourable senator’s figures are wrong her whole argument collapses. If the yield from the Mitta Mitta is not as stated she has no argument.
– The yield from the Mitta Mitta has been calculated by a computer.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cormack) - Order! The honourable senator who is speaking is not subject to cross-examination.
– I am saying to honourable senators that the calculations that we have been studying in the recent reports have been made by computer. The figures which were put forward in the 1961 agreement for the building of Chowilla were not subject to a computer calculation but were subject to human mistakes. I believe that is where the trouble lies. I suggest that the 260 examinations which have now been made by technical experts are conclusive and I am quite prepared to abide by their results. I am very sorry to say that there are people in South Australia, and probably in other parts of Australia also, who will resort to blackmailing a senator over decisions made after due consideration of the reports of experts. Today I received a letter from a Mr Robert Ware of North Brighton, South Australia, who said:
You have been conspicuously silent on the issue of the Chowilla Dam.
This is not true. I had my name on the list of speakers, along with every other honourable senator, before the list was even circulated. However, there have been speakers from other States who, rightly, have had their say. We have had to wait our turn. I add that I have made my position on this point very clear through the Press, radio and television in South Australia. This suggestion in the letter is completely untrue. It continues:
Apparently you forget you are elected to the Senate to watch the interests of South Australia.
I am very much aware of that fact and I watch the interests of South Australia very closely. T consider that in this instance I am certainly watching South Australia’s interests. The letter concludes:
You have failed the people of South Australia and an organisation I belong to will certainly remember when the next elections are held.
This, I believe, is blackmail. I am not concerned about what any organisation does with regard to my decision when it comes to the next election. I am now doing what my conscience tells me is right and what I believe is the right thing for Australia and South Australia.
– Did the honourable senator receive a telegram from Loxton?
– On any issue there will be sectional interests throughout South Australia and Australia. I should like to quote also a letter which was sent by the Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly in which he drew attention to a resolution passed by that House on 13th November 1968. The resolution stated:
This House considers that the State of South Australia has a fundamental legal right to the construction of Chowilla Dam without delay and calls on the South Australian members in both Houses of Parliament of the Commonwealth to support South Australia’s case to the utmost.
The letter from the Speaker continues:
This represents the unanimous will of the House and is, therefore, fully representative of the wishes of the people of this State.
I maintain that South Australian senators are elected by every voter in South Australia and we are, if anything, more representative of the ideas and views of the people of South Australia. It is our duty to be very conscious of the feelings and interests of the people of South Australia. And that is what we are doing. I have formed my ideas very carefully. So long as South Australia is being guaranteed extra water and is playing her part in seeing that Australia is well served as well as serving her own interests, I would be very happy to support a resolution which states that Dartmouth is the best dam to be built at present. But I continue to hope that Chowilla will also be built in the next few years to provide still further storage and control in the river system.
– I have listened with considerable interest to the debate. I do not think it can be said that it has continued over the last few days only; it has been carried on in this place since I came here at the end of 1967. I believe that the first speech that 1 heard in this place was on the subject of the Chowilla Dam. Possibly I know less about the merits of the Chowilla scheme and the Mitta Mitta scheme than anybody else in this place. Therefore, it is probably worth while to present the view of a person who is perhaps so far from the wood that he is able to see the trees, rather than being too close to see them. I believe that what has been said by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber has been extremely interesting. From what I have heard there does not seem to be a clearcut case to show that Chowilla is better than the Dartmouth scheme, or vice versa. One has to go pretty deeply into the matter to find out which would be the better dam to build at present. I have gained the impression from what has been said that it will not be very long before both dams are constructed. Senator Buttfield agrees with this and many other honourable senators have indicated their view that it will not be very long before both dams are required.
Let us consider the situation as we can now see it. As one with some engineering experience I am very concerned that a considerable amount of emphasis is placed on the results of calculations by a computer which has been fed with material in regard to the two projects. One thing that is obvious to anybody with only a minimum of engineering experience in computer work is that you will get out of a computer only what you put into it. The really important thing is not merely what you put into the computer; it is the programming that is of paramount importance. I would not be prepared to form any conclusion on what the computer had said about the merits of one dam as against, another unless 1 knew just exactly how the computer was being programmed.
It would seem to me, judging from the questions that have been asked over the last couple of years, and from what has been said during this debate, that a considerable amount of pressure is being put on the Government to abandon the Chowilla scheme and to move over to the Dartmouth scheme. When we examine the report submitted in January 1969 we find that it was prepared by Messrs Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey, in association with Hunting Technical Services Ltd whose address is 380 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. It seems to me that the whole of the argument adduced in favour of the Dartmouth scheme emanates from Victoria. Four Government senators from South Australia have spoken in the debate so far. Three of those four South Australian senators have supported the Dartmouth scheme. Only one advocated the completion of the Chowilla dam.
– That is a very sweeping statement.
– lt is a correct statement. Of the four South Australian senators on the Government side who have taken part in the debate only one has spoken in favour of the Chowilla scheme. There is one other thing that has been completely overlooked. It has nothing to do with computer analyses. That is the fact that to supply water from the Dartmouth dam it is proposed to construct a pipeline 1,200 miles long. Because in Western Australia we have a pipeline 370 miles long which has worked satisfactorily for many years, that does not mean to say that to construct a pipeline 1,200 miles long will be a simple matter. There are many problems associated with the project. With a pipeline 1.200 miles long, you will have all your eggs in the one basket.
Another point is this: If, eventually, the Chowilla Dam is to be built, what is to be done with the 1,200 miles of pipeline? That expenditure is lost immediately.
– Who suggested a pipeline?
– If it not to be conveyed by pipeline, then is it to be supplied through a channel? Has the honourable senator worked out what the evaporation from a channel will be? He is an engineer? What will the evaporation from the channel be? You will start to lose water immediately if you convey it through a channel. This is the sort of thing that is not analysed by a computer, and, because of this, confusing results are obtained.
– How do you know it was not analysed by the computer?
– Nobody said that it was and 1 can find nothing in any of the documents to say that it has been analysed by the computer. Another problem that arises is salinity. We heard nothing about salinity until about 18 months ago, when it was argued that salinity was rising as a result of restricting the flow of water for a certain time and then allowing it to come down the river. This was an assumption that was put forward and it was never disproved. In other words, it was suggested that because of artificial causes the salinity would be higher than was anticipated originally. It seems to me that there are too many unknowns, too many variables in these arguments.
The fact that 260 surveys have been made is no proof that those surveys have been analysed correctly. 1 do not doubt the ability of the firm in question to put forward a good case in favour of Dartmouth. I think most people can make out a case for anything if they put their minds to it and direct it towards what they want to see achieved. I am not trying to do that; I am trying to point out that errors can creep in if we approach this problem only on the analyses that have been made by a computer.
– You are suggesting now that the engineers were politically biased.
– The honourable senator now has an opportunity to prove that this survey was carried out by Victorians but for the benefit of South Australia. I wonder whether it was. That point has to be examined closely. What has been proposed is a dam just inside the South Australian border which, although under the control of the River Murray Commission, will be largely for the benefit of South Australia. The water from it would not be diverted back to Melbourne. On the other hand the water from Mitta Mitta will be made available to the three States on the 5/5/3 share basis although the original suggestion was 5/5/5. Having taken all these matters into account, it would seem to me that the survey that has been made does not come down on the side of the Dartmouth scheme. So far, I have seen put forward no argument other than the fact that 260 surveys have been made on information from them fed into a computer. To me, that means nothing. The important thing is how the computer is programmed.
As I said earlier, I speak as one who knows nothing about the two projects. I am merely making what I believe to be an objective approach to a consideration of whether the dam should be at one place or the other. And this is how the matter should be approached. The whole thing should be looked at objectively. No one project should be considered on its own. We should not merely consider what is best for a particular State. I am confident that in the very near future we shall find that both dams will be needed and then there will be no further need of the 1,200 miles of pipeline.
I did not intend to speak at any length. Senator Buttfield mentioned a telegram which she had received from the chairman of a meeting held at Loxton, lt seemed to me to have some significance. Apparently the meeting in question was quite a large one and the decision arrived at was endorsed by other meetings at Renmark and Berri. The telegram referred to reads:
Please advise all South Australian senators that at a public meeting at Loxton the following motion was passed:
This meeting supports Sir Thomas Playford in his endeavour to have Chowilla Dam built and requests all South Australian senators to support the motton now before the Senate relating to the building of the Chowilla Dam.
It is signed by Mr O. W. Kaesler, Chairman of the Loxton meeting, which was held within the last couple of days. All I am seeking to do is to introduce a little sanity into our approach to this problem instead of running away with the idea that, because a computer came up with a particular answer, that answer is, of necessity, correct. Computers can be wrong. As proof of this we have the announcement in the Press recently that an Airman of the Royal Australian Air Force was to be discharged because the computer said he was pregnant. Of course computers can make mistakes. They are only as good as the information that is fed into them. Let us be careful that we do not put wrong data into the computer and then, as a result of the wrong decision resulting from this incorrect data, be misled into going ahead with the construction of the dam at Mitta Mitta. Because of the experiments that have already been carried out. I hope the Senate will support a proposal that the Chowilla Dam be constructed.
– I, too, have an interest in this debate and, like Senator Buttfield, although 1 am speaking towards the end of the debate it is not because of lack of interest in the subject; it is merely that others have had the call before me. Let us consider for a minute just what we are debating. From the speech just concluded it was very difficult to understand much about the facts or circumstances. Senator Bishop has moved:
That the Senate considers that the construction of the Chowilla Dam should proceed without delay and that, pending its completion, parties to the River Murray Waters Agreement should ensure that adequate water is available to the State of South Australia.
Further that the Commonwealth Government in discussions with the States concerned accept a greater share of the cost of constructing the dam.
Debate ensued on the motion. Senator Cormack intervened during the second day of the debate and moved the following amendment:
Omit all words after ‘Senate’, insert - realising the urgent need for additional supplies of water in the River Murray, urges the Commonwealth Government to take all necessary steps, in consultation with the Governments of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, to ensure that action is taken as soon as possible to provide such supplies; that all three States benefit there from; and, in particular, that South Australia’s quota of 1.254 million acre feet a year shall be substantially increased.’
I support the amendment.
– Who moved it?
– 1 have already said that the amendment was moved by Senator Cormack. It is the right of every honourable senator to move an amendment. Senator Cormack’s amendment was duly seconded. I think I had better deal with one or two remarks of Senator Wilkinson. He has failed to realise that a pipeline to run between Dartmouth and South Australia is not envisaged. He built up an argument about a pipeline, but it is not planned. I think the honourable senator’s criticism of the use of computers was hardly well founded. I understand that in 1961, before the use of computers by the River Murray Commission and similar organisations in the Commonwealth, the calculations for engineering projects were done virtually by pencil and paper. Obviously a great deal of time was taken to make those calculations. 1 understand that since the advent of computers, calculations that would have taken hours to make 7 or 8 years ago can now be made in a matter of minutes, or an even shorter time. Consequently far more studies are practicable these days in respect of planned projects than were possible 7 or 8 years ago. The great benefit derived from computer studies is the ease with which calculations requested by engineers can be carried out.
– Why were not some figures supplied about the water flowing out to sea in September, a matter which was raised by Senator Young? Why was it not investigated?
– I do not know. The honourable senator should find out from the Government. I wish to get on with the discussion. I think it is well for honourable senators to consider some basic facts relating to the matter in dispute. How does the Commonwealth Parliament come into this whole question? By virtue of the River Murray Waters Act of 1915, which was passed 54 years ago for the purpose of providing for the economical use of the River Murray and its tributaries for irrigation and navigation and for the reconciling of the interests of the Commonwealth and the riparian States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. The River Murray Waters Act brought into being the River Murray Commission, with the function of controlling, conserving, developing and sharing the waters of Australia’s most important river. The Commonwealth and the riparian States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia each have a representative on the Commission. The Commonwealth representative is the President. These four gentlemen meet regularly to consider matters relating to controlling, conserving, developing and sharing the waters of the River Murray. It has been laid down that any money for construction work is provided equally - that is one quarter each - by the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Money for maintenance work is provided equally by the three riparian States.
It is clear that the River Murray Commission has constantly in its sights the question of the conservation, development, sharing and control of the river. Through the years South Australia has realised that it should have a more certain supply of water granted to it from the River Murray. For a period of years the Hume Dam - a big dam above Albury- has been the only dam on the River Murray. The wall of the Hume Dam was increased in height so that the dam could store more water but, of course, there is a limit to that move because as the wall of the dam is raised the danger of its collapse increases. It was seen that it could not be raised any further with safety.
Sir Thomas Playford, when Premier of South Australia, submitted to the River Murray Commission through his representative - one of the four gentlemen comprising the Commission - a proposition for a dam at Chowilla. Honourable senators may be interested to hear of the geographical and geological details of Chowilla. I have visited Chowilla and also Lake Victoria, which was referred to earlier in this debate. Chowilla is about 20 miles upstream from the important River Murray town of Renmark. At Chowilla the river flows gently along in an area surrounded by low mallee scrub. For about 2 miles on either side of the river the land is at about river level. It is subject to flooding, as happened last in 1956 when the huge River Murray flood occurred. At about H or 2 miles from the river the land on both sides rises to about 100 feet. At Chowilla one can stand on a slight eminence and look for about 50 or 60 miles in an easterly direction and see nothing but low scrub.
It was planned to build at Chowilla a dam wall about 3 miles long across the river and the flats on either side of it, so that it would link the higher country on one side of the river to the higher country on the other side. It was hoped that an area of many hundreds of square miles would be inundated in the course of time by the capturing of the water of the River Murray. As a result over many square miles the water in the vast dam would be only about a foot deep. Of course, the water over the normal channel of the river would be about 30 feet or even 40 feet deep, but there would be a tremendous surface area of water. If a dam were to be built at Chowilla it is obvious that evaporation would be of supreme importance. Officers of the River Murray Commission have said that the evaporation could easily be between 800,000 acre feet and 900,000 acre feet a year and that in some years it could even rise to over 1 million acre feet a year. When one visits this site it is not hard to envisage how such a tremendous amount of evaporation could take place. I believe that when the idea of a dam at Chowilla was first mooted the evaporation figure was put at 600,000 acre feet a year, but further studies have indicated that it will be of the order of from 800,000 acre feet to 900,000 acre feet a year.
I would now like to refer to Lake Victoria and its function. Lake Victoria, which is in New South Wales, is about 20 miles from the New South Wales-Victoria border. It is formed by a tributary of the River Murray running in at one end and out at the other. There are gates where the tributary runs in and out. These gates have been in existence for 30 or 40 years. Lake Victoria has been a very valuable lake. It takes in about 500,000 acre feet of the River Murray and lets it out by way of a control system. The person showing it to me described it as making a shandy, in that when salinity is prominent in the river the water can be diverted and mixed in this 500,000 acre feet lake. In that way it is very useful. If a dam were to be constructed at Chowilla the whole of Lake
Victoria should be inundated. So, its use in making a shandy would be lost for all time. It is envisaged that more modern gates and control equipment will be erected. At present the gates are handled manually. It is rather amazing that in this day and age gates of a big lake should be handled manually. Men have to be rostered for duty on these gates. These men are sometimes required to work at week-ends. The gates should be mechanically operated. If the River Murray Commission decides to go on with the Dartmouth site no doubt it will recommend improvements to Lake Victoria, and particularly to the system of controlling the gates.
The Chowilla site is in a very arid part of Australia. I am not criticising the Chowilla site as such, because it is the best one available in that area of the River Murray, but 1 think consideration should be given to the Dartmouth site. I have also visited the Dartmouth site. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) arranged for me to be flown from Albury to the Dartmouth site, where I observed officers of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority making a most extensive feasibility study of it.
– Did the honourable senator travel in a VIP aircraft?
– No, I did not. I travelled in an aircraft of the Authority.
– How long did it take the honourable senator to get there?
– lt took about half an hour from Albury.
– Will the honourable senator tell us how he got there?
– I will talk about that after. What I want to do now is describe the Dartmouth site to honourable senators. The Dartmouth site is virutally in a canyon. In the distance are the snowcapped mountains of the Victorian Alps. When one stands near the top one can see the Mitta Mitta River 600 feet below. It is a fast flowing stream that is fed by the copious rains of the area and the melting snow. At points 20 or 30 feet apart were drills which were put in by the Authority as part of its feasibility study. I was tremendously impressed with the availability of good, hard rock for the construction of a rock filled dam wall and also for quarrying, which would enable spillways and so on to be made. So the Dartmouth site is an entirely different proposition to the Chowilla site. On the one hand we have hundreds of square miles of low, sandy mallee country and on the other we have this virtual canyon which is fed from the snow of the mountains and the rain that falls in great quantities. The Senate is considering reports on these two entirely different locations, lt is the duty of the River Murray Commission to report on all available sites in connection with this proposition.
I now come to the reason why the whole idea of a dam at Chowilla has been brought up for reconsideration. Honourable senators are no doubt aware that this Parliament, together with the parliaments of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, originally passed legislation supporting the Chowilla project. At that time it was estimated that the project would cost about $28m and that it would have a capacity of approximately 5 million acre feet.
– The honourable senator sounded much more convincing when he supported the legislation then than he does now.
– Al that time it was submitted by Senator Sir William Spooner, who was then Minister for National Development, and Mr Fairbairn, who was representing him in the other place, that Chowilla was considered to be the best possible site for damming of the River Murray for water conservation purposes. But that was at a stage when, I fear, an inadequate examination had been made. In this regard 1 think that both the State of South Australia and its authorities and the Commonwealth and its authorities are somewhat to blame. I am amazed at the increase in the estimated cost of the project - from $28m to $68m. Obviously, this is a matter into which I inquired. I wanted to know why the cost had risen so much. I grant that inflation has taken place, but not to that extent. I was able to ascertain from a very reliable source in South Australia some of the problems that had occurred between the time the Chowilla proposition was put to this Parliament and the South Australian, New South Wales and Victorian parliaments and the time that it was submitted for tender. I believe that when the proposition first came forward only a limited amount was expended on the initial investigations. They were of a preliminary nature.
I understand that when, after the legislation had been passed, it was necessary to prepare documents for tender a considerable alteration in design had to take place. Many technical difficulties were revealed in the latter investigation and the solution to these technical difficulties added considerably to the estimated cost of the dam. The most costly question which confronted the authorities getting this proposition ready for tender was the small quantity of suitable rock in the immediate vicinity of the dam site. I understand that extensive geological surveys had to take place and it was realised that the area was practically denuded of adequate rock. Consequently it was necessary completely to redesign the dam using local clays and sands as fill material, which greatly increased the quantity of fill because of the flatter slopes necessary for stability. That meant a tremendous increase in expenditure for filling material. Then there was also a necessity to bring in rock because no rock was available and consequently a railway line had to be built 18 miles to the existing railway line and a quarry had to be investigated near Murray Bridge, which is about 150 miles away.
– This is not against Chowilla, surely?
– I am explaining why al) this additional cost was necessary and the effect of it on Mr Dunstan, Sir Henry Bolte and Mr Askin. As a result, when this dam was let for tender it was then expected that the tenders would be $43 m but they turned out to be $68m. One can quite imagine why at that time Mr Dunstan - who was then Premier of South Australia - issued a statement in which he agreed, through his representative on the River Murray Commission, to have further studies with regard to the provision of water for South Australia. He said:
The present studies being carried out by the River Murray Commission are for the purpose of exploring the maximum use that can be made of the waters of the River Murray. It had been indicated earlier that by the construction of Chowilla -Dam South Australia would gain considerable relief from periodic restriction of supply and the upstream States would benefit also. The decision to defer the construction of Chowilla
Dam arose from factors not previously established. Current investigations are aimed at developing an economic plan to sustain the advantages mentioned.
Mr Dunstan made that statement after the River Murray Commission had agreed to have these further studies made and this evening I intend to discuss in some detail the result of the further studies. Two reports have been presented to the Parliament. The first report is dated September 1968 and is entitled ‘Statement on Proposals for Further Storage on the River Murray’. This statement indicated in the broad what was going on but gave no conclusions whatsoever. But the document which is of paramount importance is that of January 1969, entitled ‘Reports to the River Murray Commission Relating to Future Development of the Water Resources of the River Murray’.
The document contains three reports. The first is the report by the Technical Committee of the River Murray Commission, which consists of a technical officer from each State presided over by a chairman who is the official engineer of the River Murray Commission. There is also a report on detailed investigations of the Dartmouth Dam site by the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. Those were the engineers and workmen whom I actually saw at work. The third interim report is on the effects of Chowilla or Dartmouth reservoirs on the salinity in the River Murray, and is presented by Gutteridge Haskins and Davey in association with Hunting Technical Services Ltd. AH representatives on the River Murray Commission knew 3 or 4 years ago that these three reports would be forthcoming. Admittedly they have taken a little longer than we all hoped and expected, but having seen the intensity of the work being carried out on the Dartmouth site by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority I can understand the immensity of their investigations. It is a great pity that more thorough investigations were not made in 1961 by the State of South Australia and the River Murray Commission of those days seeing that it was presided over by a Minister of the Commonwealth Government.
Be that as it may, I was most impressed by the thoroughness with which the reports and the data for the reports have been worked out. Consequently, it absolutely bemuses me that honourable senators opposite and Sir Thomas Playford should be so keen about chiacking the work of these engineers. I believe that these Snowy Mountains engineers are devoted men who give of their best wherever they may be. I have seen them in Thailand working amazingly hard in that far part of Asia and doing great credit to themselves and to Australia. I have seen them up at the Snowy itself. Who would fairly criticise their technique? Honesty of purpose seems to be their watchword. Why at this hour and day should the Opposition be prepared to attack the probity of the men who have made these reports which are before us? I am impressed with these reports because I think they have been thoroughly and fearlessly worked out.
– You attacked the probity of the previous Committee.
– I did not.
– You said that its members were at fault.
– I said that it was a pity they did not do their work more thoroughly. 1 do want to say this, though, that they did not have the facilities that the present generation of engineers have. Consequently they had to do all their arithmetic and calculations in the laborious way. I am satisfied, seeing the immense drilling programme that took place up on the Mitta Dam site, that that job was thoroughly done. I do not like to hear Senator Wilkinson throw a jibe at the salinity consultants because they happen to have their office in Melbourne, as if they could come under the influence of the Victorian Government in some way or other. This is a very cheap way of criticising the authenticity of the report of the consultants on salinity.
I now wish to highlight some of the features of the technical report. Its authors say, in effect, that the next stage for development of the water resources of the River Murray is narrowed down to two sites - the Chowilla site and the Dartmouth site. They study the merits of both sites in terms of yield and cost. Thanks to their computer, they were able to make 260 studies of the various matters that they wanted to study. They came out with the conclusion that at Dartmouth a rock-fill dam 600 feet high could impound approximately 3 million acre feet of water; that the continued average annual supply to the upper States would result in 3,130,000 acre feet being available; and that the cost would be S57.5m. The Chowilla project would impound 5,060,000 acre feet.
They said that Dartmouth would result in an increased benefit to the system, when measured in terms of additional average annual supply to the upper States, of 860,000 acre feet per annum. So Dartmouth will provide that much more water than it is now expected could be provided by a storage at Chowilla. If it were decided to construct Dartmouth to the approximate economic limit of 3 million acre feet, consideration could then be given to allocating part of the additional 860,000 acre feet per annum to increase South Australia’s entitlement. But if the dam were constructed at Chowilla there would be no additional 860,000 acre feet for anybody. The evaporation at Chowilla was estimated to be between 800,000 and 900,000 acre feet. The evaporation at Dartmouth is estimated at a mere 15,000 acre feet. In other words, the evaporation at Chowilla would be fifty times the evaporation at Dartmouth.
I can well imagine that, in view of the fact that at Dartmouth, because of the huge mountains, for possibly half of the day the dam would be in shadow and the fact that the tremendous depth of 600 feet would mean that a vast quantity of water would never be in touch with the air and would never be in a position in which it would evaporate. On the other hand, Chowilla, with its area of hundreds of square miles and its depths of from 2 inches to 20 or 30 feet, would be a most vulnerable dam. So, instead of water being wasted in evaporation, in a comparison between the two sites an additional 860,000 acre feet per annum would be available from the Dartmouth site.
Looking at the matter as an Australian and considering alternative sites for the construction of a dam, if evaporation can be reduced by fifty times, surely to goodness that is something of which we should be proud. I believe that when this question is considered by the people of Australia they will say that at this point of time, with the need to obtain water quickly for the important industrial uses in South Australia, we would be letting the side down if we ignored these reports, because the question of evaporation is of such great importance. Water that is wasted is never able to be retrieved, whereas water that is stored in a mountain storage such as Dartmouth promises to be water saved. When we save water we are doing quite a job towards the development of Australia. South Australia will benefit because, instead of it being guaranteed 1,254,000 acre feet, it is hoped that by next Friday the decision will be made to guarantee it 1,500,000 acre feet.
– In every year?
– That is the guarantee. Yes, in every year.
– In each and every year?
– With the exception of 1 year in 55, 1 think.
– The honourable senator is talking about the 1961 report.
– No, I am not. That referred to 3 years.
– The Mitta Mitta was dry last year.
– The Mitta Mitta was not dry last year.
– 1 was there and saw it.
– The Mitta Mitta was not dry. The important point is that the Dartmouth scheme will guarantee South Australia additional water, whereas the Chowilla scheme would guarantee it only its 1,254,000 acre feet. In summing up I want to put some salient facts to the Senate. Under the River Murray Waters Agreement, all States must agree to important major changes - and this is a very important major change. So all States will have to agree to Chowilla. Sir Henry Bolte of Victoria says that he will not agree to Chowilla; that as far as he is concerned Chowilla just is not on. So, according to the River Murray legislation, Chowilla will fail on that important legal ground.
By the same token, if Dartmouth is to be built, all States must agree to it. At the moment South Australia says that it will agree to Dartmouth on the condition that it receives 1,500,000 acre feet of water per annum. On the basis of all that I have read and statements that have been made, I consider that South Australia will receive 1,500,000 acre feet after the matter has been negotiated. Therefore, on the evidence presented to the Senate in the reports and on my own observations, I believe that at this point of time the priority is for Dartmouth, provided that the South Australian Premier receives a guarantee of 1,500,000 acre feet. But that does not mean that we should say good-bye’ to any thought of a dam at Chowilla or elsewhere in South Australia. 1 believe that the Commonwealth, in the light of its legislation, has a great interest in water in South Australia. Only the other day the Commonwealth allotted $6m for a pipeline from Tailem Bend to Keith for the reticulation of water in South Australia. That is an earnest of the Commonwealth’s interest.
Sir Henry Bolte has said that South Australia can build Chowilla with Commonwealth aid and that he will not object. 1 do not know whether anything will ever come of that; but I believe that the Commonwealth could well be interested in aspects of water reticulation and water supply in South Australia. Near Mannum is a place known as Teal Flat, which would be the place for a smaller dam. If Lake Victoria could be tidied up it could be a very valuable holding of 500,000 acre feet just outside the South Australian border. A very interesting and important possibility is underground water from the south eas of South Australia being made available to the metropolitan area. I urge the Minister to cause all these propositions to be investigated. I think the time may well come when Chowilla is an economic proposition but this will be after this guarantee of water of 1.5 million acre feet is made available for South Australia. With those thoughts I say that I do not think that the Labor Party motion should be agreed to, but I do think that the amendment proposed by Senator Cormack is a much more reasonable one for consideration and for approval by the Senate.
I think that the South Australian people will be very disappointed at the showing of South Australian Libera] senators, excepting
Senator Laucke who has given consistent support to the idea of the construction of a dam at Chowilla. I say that because during the last fortnight a number of meetings have been held in River Murray towns, at which members of the Australian Labor Party and independent people have spoken about the need for the dam. Almost without exception the resolutions have said that the Chowilla Dam ought to be constructed. During the course of the afternoon I passed on to honourable senators from South Australia a request made to me from Loxton. It came from an independent source, not from a Labor man. It came from the Chairman of the Loxton Shire Council who. 1 believe, asked that all South Australian senators support the motion moved by myself. I am quite sure that, on reflection, most of the South Australian senators will regret that they did not support my motion which seeks to have the Chowilla Dam proceeded with. Honourable senators heard those who do not support Chowilla say: ‘We will accept Dartmouth first because the Technical Committee says that at this stage Dartmouth is a better proposition than Chowilla, but we will want Chowilla later on’. Those honourable senators ought to remember that each speaker who opposed the resolution and who knocked the idea of Chowilla said: ‘If we accept the Technical Committee’s report we should not vote for Chowilla’. They are knocking Chowilla. We should not accept the Technical Committee’s report, unqualified, without the kind of reservations which we on this side of the House have mentioned.
I remind honourable senators of the reservations about evaporation. Those reservations are the entirely new bases for the evaporation figures in the latest computer test as against the bases used in 1961. In 1961 the tests were made on Lake Victoria figures. In 1968 the tests were made on the basis of figures for a series of lakes 100 miles from Chowilla. Nobody has yet explained the reason for the different bases. 1 challenge anybody to state why these different tests were made. That is the first point. The second point we instanced was that the examples fed into the computer were for a dam of 3.5 million acre feet at Chowilla when in fact the project which was recommended and accepted was for a dam of 5 million acre feet. I am raising a number of doubts about the computer studies and they ought to remind honourable senators that the 1968 report, which was published this year, ought to be open to doubt. If assumptions are made and if they are wrongly based the whole recommendation for Dartmouth falls down. That is what we are saying. These questions have to be answered. So far they have not bien answered. I mentioned the 3.5 million acre feet dam instead of the 5 million acre feet dam which was the project accepted by the River Murray Commission at $43m. Everybody on the Commission said that at S43m the project was a worthwhile one.
When the cost rose from $43m to about S60m they said that the cost was rising too steeply and that the project had better stop there, lt is true that the South Australian representative accepted the decision, but I put to honourable senators that the cost factor was the most important factor. Some of these things were mentioned by Senator Laught. He mentioned the difficulty of importing solids into the area and not having them adjacent to the construction site, the cost of building a railway line and its consolidation, and so on. These were all cost factors which were not properly evaluated when the dam was proposed and recommended by the late Sir William Spooner and by the present Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). This is only an example of the usual1 escalation of costs. Another reason for rejection is the flow. If the figures about the flow at Mitta Mitta are responsible and reliable figures, then maybe we could estimate the kind of advantages which might accrue to South Australia in view of the cost of Chowilla. The facts that we are reporting to honourable senators are these: The flow figures are taken 32 and 50 miles from the proposed site of the Mitta Mitta dam. For arl those reasons we suggest that honourable senators should be very hesitant about substituting a project at Mitta Mitta. 1,200 miles from the irrigation areas of South Australia and which would not give to South Australia the things for which Chowilla was proposed, for the project at Chowilla. Tt is as simple as that.
I cannot understand those honourable senators who applauded the Chowilla concept, who applauded Sir Thomas Playford and Mr Stott, the Speaker of the South
Australian House of Assembly, and agreed the the Chowilla project was the right one but have now, without very much examination, changed their minds and said: ‘Look, we have to change course because the Technical Committee’s report disclosed some different findings.’ We have suggested that these findings were politically based. I know it is hard to argue that computer findings can be distorted, but it is very evident to most reasonable people that if one feeds into a computer a particular proposition - the computer being simply a slave machine and not a thinking machine - it will give in answer the kind of proposition that is fed into it. What Sir Thomas Playford said is not very far from the mark. He said that the computer was fed with politically biased material. lt has been proved that the present Minister for National Development, during the course of these investigations, was against the Chowilla project. That is on record. It has been published in the Press. Honourable senators have heard me talk about a statement made in the South Australian House of Parliament in which the present Liberal Premier of South Australia admitted that the Federal Minister had apologised to the State Parliament. Tn addition I have stated - and it is true - that the South Australian Chowilla Protection Promotion Committee complained to the Minister about these statements. So we have the situation that during the currency of an investigation the Commonwealth Minister evidently was against the Chowilla project. He did not want it because of various statements. In addition he made of his attendance on the River Murray Commission the opportunity to persuade the other members to accept his proposition. I shall read what he said on 24th April 1968. These are the minutes of a meeting of the River Murray Commission. They were revealed to a member of the South Australian State Parliament.
At the meeting of the River Murray Commission held on 24th April 1968, statements were made which indicated that the President, Mr Fairbairn (Minister of National Development) and the Victorian and New South Wales representatives had prejudged the whole question - and this at a time which was 8 months prior to the production of the Technical Committee report.
I wish to make some quotations from the minutes of the River Murray Commission. These are very relevant and, if the Minister is not satisfied with my comments about them, let him produce the minutes of the River Murray Commission. They read:
Mr Horsfall (the Victorian representative) said he hoped to convince Mr Beaney (the South Australian representative) informally at this meeting that an upper Murray storage would be the best for South Australia and that there should be a breathing space for about 6 months for Mr Beaney to convince his government; this would fit in wilh the time requirements for feasibility studies by the Snowy Mountains Authority. The President-
That is the present Minister for National Development - expressed his concern at any further delay in making a decision on a site for the next reservoir when irrigators were agitating for more storage.
Earlier in the minutes Mr Fairbairn is reported as having said that the selection of the next dam site on the River Murray was both a political and technical question. Let the Minister produce these minutes because it is clear from them that Mr Fairbairn and, certainly, the Victorian representative were against the Chowilla site. For the reasons I have given it is quite evident that there are very good grounds for discounting the strength of the Technical Committee’s 1969 report. We take the view that the South Australian senators, both Labor and Liberal, should support the motion that is before the Senate. It seems to me that this is quite clear on the arguments that we have advanced and that cannot be knocked over. Nobody has said anything to convince me that there was a good reason why the evaporation figures were based not on the 1961 areas. Nobody can tell me why the Mitta Mitta flow figures are not subject to doubt. Nobody can tell me why a proposal involving a dam of 34 million acre feet has been used as a basis rather than the proposal of a 5 million acre feet dam, which was the 1961 proposition. Nobody can convince me, especially after I have heard the present Minister for National Development and Sir William Spooner before him reporting to this Parliament about certain studies that were made, why we should not have the Chowilla Dam.
Nobody has yet answered the question asked by Senator Young. When these technical investigations were going on, we were anxious to get a figure about the loss of water to the sea from the River Murray. I reminded Senator Young that he asked this question back in September 1968, because like Senators Laught and Buttfield, he has switched his support from Chowilla. He asked Senator Scott to supply figures about the amount of water that flowed out to sea and was wasted. We said that because Chowilla gets all the water from the tributaries of the Murray it would be the best dam to store water that would be otherwise wasted. No figures have since been revealed. The Minister has given no answer. Senator Young asked the question again recently and again received no answer. I want to know why the South Australian senators are not supporting the proposition we have advanced despite the requests of the people living along the River Murray in towns such as Renmark, Loxton, Berri and Barmera, who are dependent upon the River Murray. We have added something new in our resolution which did not appear in previous resolutions. We have said that if one of the States argues that it cannot cope with the increased cost of the dam the Commonwealth should consider, together with the States, what can be done. What is wrong with this?
– There are precedents for Commonwealth assistance.
– Of course there are. 1 think it was in today’s Press that 1 read that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said that the Government would consider advancing some fantastic sum for the generation of electricity and the production of power in Queensland. Who argued against the Ord River scheme? The Ord River scheme is yet to be tested in this Parliament. Certain senators argued against it on the basis that it was an economic impossibility. The fact is that Western Australia wanted it and Western Australia got it. In these circumstances, it is very evident that South Australia is not getting a go. What is more unfortunate is that the South Australian Liberal Government at the present time has been ‘conned’ into accepting a report. I say ‘conned’ because it has accepted a report which is still subject to doubt. Only one Liberal senator is prepared to get up and agree that what we are saying is a reasonable proposition. If Victoria cannot face the financial cost of building a dam at Chowilla, even though S6m has already been spent on it, the Commonwealth Government ought to do what Mr Dunstan suggested when he was Premier of South Australia. He suggested that the three States concerned and the Commonwealth meet at a round table and reach a settlement about financial matters.
We oppose the amendment proposed by Senator Cormack. What he is putting up is a Victorian point of view. He is adopting the proposition which was put forward by the Premier of South Australia about an extra entitlement of water for that State, but the guarantee of water for South Australia is valid only when there is a great flow down the Murray. It will not have any practical implications in periods of drought or lean times. On the other hand, Chowilla could solve the drought problems. We are opposed to the amendment proposed by Senator Cormack, because in our opinion it is a Victorian proposition and should not be considered. 1 hope that the South Australian Liberal senators will have second thoughts about the way they should vote on this issue.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Before Senator Prowse starts, I would like to draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that honourable senators are speaking on the amendment. I would ask honourable senators to keep their remarks to the amendment.
– I understand that the last speaker was speaking on the amendment.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Any speaker who has spoken on the motion may speak on the amendment. Any speaker who has not already spoken on the motion will be entitled to speak on both the motion and the amendment.
– I had no intention earlier in the day of entering into this debate, but after the contribution from my friend from Western Australia, Senator Wilkinson, who said that he knew nothing about the subject and intended to come into the debate to introduce some sanity into the question, I am tempted to make some comments and observations. I have listened very carefully to most of the speakers who have contributed to the debate, and I regret that my Western Australian friend came into it in the way that he did. This is essentially a political debate for political purposes, because it can achieve nothing but some political end. No conclusion that we reach in the Senate will bring a dam for South Australia any closer. This is in the hands of the River Murray Commission. There are three States involved financially and otherwise. I have listened to honourable senators opposite disparage the Victorian point of view. Senator Wilkinson even sank low enough to drag into the debate the fact that the consultants engaged to undertake studies on this subject had an address in Melbourne. That is surely dragging the bottom of the barrel of argument. He proceeded also to rubbish the experts. Of course he can readily do this and perhaps have a lot of good fun in the process, but the experts are in no position to reply.
– Yes, they are. They were on television in South Australia.
– Maybe they were on television in South Australia, but there is no opportunity for the experts to reply in this place. I know that there are a lot of good jokes made about computers. 1 heard one joke about a local government authority instituting computerised accounts. A resident received an account for $2m, whereupon he wrote to the shire clerk and said that the account was wrong and he did not intend to pay it. The shire clerk wrote back to him and suggested that he should pay the amount and claim a refund. There are many more very good ones. Senator Wilkinson seriously brought into this debate an attempt to belittle and rubbish people who had been employed to study and report to the River Murray Commission their findings on this problem. The honourable senator and others have suggested that these people are politically biased. This was the most serious weakness in the case brought forward by Opposition speakers. No resolution carried in this place can have other than a political effect. There are so many people jumping on to the Chowilla band waggon that they are falling off into the mud.
– They cannot fall into the water.
– I agree. I listened to a .great deal of evidence in Adelaide very recently on the subject of the increasing salinity of the River Murray. This has become an increasingly acute problem over the last few years and it has increased materially since 1960. We have to look at the reasons for this situation. There seems to be no doubt that the increased irrigation in the Murray Valley is a factor contributing to a rising water level in the lower reaches of the Murray and an increasing inflow of salt.
– In which State?
– Along the lower reaches of the Murray. It enters the stream in that part of the river where the water level of the adjacent area is higher than the bed of the river. This water level has been rising. I am wondering to what extent the salinity is brought about by the water channels in the north western area of Victoria where water flows through open channels which are subject to a considerable loss from evaporation and from water leeching into surrounding soils. How much of that water is finding its way back into the aquifers feeding into the Murray basin? It seems to me that a great deal more fundamental research is necessary if we are not to be faced with a much more serious problem with regard to irrigation in the Murray Valley. This is why I was interested in a proposal put forward by a very accomplished engineer who has studied the methods used in Israel. We have a great deal to learn from irrigation experts in Israel. The engineer to whom I refer, Mr Pels, put forward a proposition that could not be implemented in connection with the Chowilla scheme. His suggestion was to put the good water, before it became polluted with salt, into concrete channels, one north and one south of the Murray, so that irrigation and other water usage would have the advantage of high quality water. This would have the ultimate effect of cleansing much of the residual salt from the irrigation areas. It seems to me that this is a sound and more constructive scheme than anything that has so far been put forward.
– Than either Dartmouth or Chowilla?
– It cannot be put into operation with Chowilla. The water must be fed into the channels farther up the river.
– Would not that be costly?
– Yes, but not nearly so costly as losing the whole of the Murray basin eventually to salt. 1 suggest that if South Australia wants good water and if it is not going to be ultimatley subjected to saline water which will have an increasingly depressing effect on its irrigation areas, it should examine very carefully its almost fanatic devotion to Chowilla. Let us consider what will happen with a great expanse of shallow water situated in an area of low rainfall and subject to high winds and high temperatures. Honourable senators may disparage the scientists how they will, but it has been calculated that the average evaporation or loss of water from the area at Chowilla would be 11 feet per year. This would be a vast area of water subject to considerable wind and wave action, both of which increase evaporation loss. The average depth of Chowilla would be about 16 feet. If we were to have not one dry season but two recurring seasons of drought, how much water would be left in Chowilla and what would be the quality of that water?
– The report says that it would be first class.
– The report mentions a figure for the average salinity, but it is not the average which is important; it is the salinity of the water at the end of a drought period. If this is to be the only water available for the irrigators they will be leaning on a very weak reed. They know very well that if they are obliged to use water of this kind for their vineyards and citrus orchards, no amount of fresh water subsequently will bring to life their dead trees.
– What are they using now?
– They are in very great trouble with the water they are using now.
– In drought years.
– Yes, in drought years, but it is for drought years that the dam is required. If we did not have drought years there would be no need for a dam. Although the dam is wanted for drought years, it is at this very time that the weakness of the Chowilla proposition becomes evident.
– Sir Henry Bolte has said that if it rains there will be no drought.
– Of course.
– That was his statement which appeared in the Press.
– Is this the honourable senator’s contribution to sanity?
– No; it was Sir Henry Bolte’s contribution towards solving the water problem.
– The honourable senator is quite right when he says that if it rains it will be wet, and if one has any sense one comes in out of the rain. I submit that if the Chowilla dam were built South Australia would be in no better position than it is now at the end of a long drought period. In fact, it could conceivably be in a worse position. It would certainly be in a worse position than it would be if the dam were constructed at Dartmouth where water of a much higher degree of purity could be concentrated and then conveyed through cement lined channels which again would ensure that it was kept pure. The dam at Dartmouth would make a real contribution to the continued prosperity and progress of the whole of the Murray Valley, and through it South Australia would be assured of an adequate supply of good water.
I said at the outset that I did not intend to enter the debate, but my colleague from Western Australia decided to take part in it. We Western Australians have very deep sympathy for the South Australians in their water problems. South Australia has taken a leaf out of our book by learning from us how to convey water in pipes to dry areas. But South Australia has one tremendous advantage over Western Australia. We in Western Australia have no River Murray at all, salt or otherwise.
– And we have no Ord River, either.
– No, but the Ord River scheme does not benefit a very large part of Western Australia which has an extremely limited supply of water. I believe that, to a great extent, their obsession with Chowilla and with the River Murray has led the South Australians to neglect other possibilities which are evident and which were clearly pointed out in Warren Bonython’s paper, a copy of which we have all received. For example, the catchment areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges are utilised to only half their maximum capacity. Again, little or nothing has been done with the enormous reserves of water that are available in the southern parts of South Australia. In fact, the South Australians have been draining good water from the swamp lands of their southern areas into the sea. 1 was greatly interested in what Senator Bishop had to say about water flowing into the sea. if any river is to be used as a means of conveying water for irrigation purposes, then of necessity some water must be allowed to flow out to the sea. If the whole of the water from the Murray is going to be pumped on to the land, then millions upon millions of tons of salt which at present is conveyed to the sea by the river will be put on to the land in South Australia.
– You forget that be was talking about waste water, or wasted water, running out to sea.
– But what is waste water? If that water is conveying unwanted salt out to sea then it is not waste water at all. So long as that water is conveying unwanted salt out to sea, it is performing an essential function. If the River Murray is used for drainage as well as irrigation purposes, then its proper function is being performed. If the policy suggested by honourable senators opposite is persisted in, there must come a time when the River Murray becomes a salt drain instead of a lifeline. Unless we look at the alternatives that have been suggested, I am afraid Chowilla would indeed prove to be Dead Sea fruit.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia) 19.55] - I want to say at the outset that I oppose the Victorian amendment to the motion submitted by Senator Bishop. At the beginning of his speech, Senator Prowse promised us that he would give us the benefit of his knowledge in a few wellconsidered words on this question. He then went on to say that we on this side who supported proceeding with the Chowilla project have been rubbishing the experts. Senator Laught also levelled that charge at us. He said that we supporters of the
Chowilla proposition were in fact undermining the integrity of people with professional qualifications.
I suggest that those who are supporting the Victorian amendment which seeks to banish the Chowilla project to the limbo of the lost are the ones who are questioning the integrity of people with professional qualifications. I remind those people that it was professional men who did all the exploratory work and considered all possible arguments before recommending the project in 1961. Honourable senators on the Government side are in fact attacking and seeking to undermine the integrity of those experts who decided that Chowilla was a practical proposition. It is of no use Senator Prowse and Senator Laught adopting a hypocritical attitude and accusing the supporters of the Chowilla project of undermining the integrity of people with professional qualifications. The whole of the argument advanced in favour of jettisoning the Chowilla project is based on undermining the integrity and the opinion of experts. Everybody in the Senate knows that. [ repeat that it is pure hypocrisy for Senator Laught and Senator Prowse to charge us with seeking to attack the integrity of professional men. It does them very little credit.
– But even the experts can change their opinion.
– I agree. It is also true that experts can be wrong. The point I am making is that it is pure hypocrisy to seek, as Senator Prowse and Senator Laught have been doing, to distort an argument in order to suggest that we supporters of the scheme are attacking the integrity of professional men. That has been the whole theme of all the speeches made by honourable senators on the Government side.
– It is not rubbish: it is true. Senator Laught said that Chowilla dam would not be a practicable proposition mainly because of the problem of evaporation. Everybody knows that evaporation does occur. Right from the start it was envisaged that there would be a considerable amount of evaporation at Chowilla, mainly because of the huge area of water and possibly also because of its shallowness. This has never been contested by those who favour proceeding with the project and those who, at the very beginning, thoroughly investigated the feasibility of the scheme.
The basic thing was not how much evaporation would take place but how much water would be left. That is what South Australia was interested in. Do not let us have any of these red herrings about evaporation drawn across the trail in an attempt to convince the Senate and the people outside that this alone is sufficient ground for condemning the Chowilla project. 1 have with me a document which I received from the present Premier of South Australia in which he deals very effectively with the question of evaporation. He does not agree with either Senator Laught or Senator Prowse on the question of the danger of evaporation inherent in the original Chowilla proposal.
I refer very briefly now to a statement made by Senator Buttfield during the course of her contribution to the debate. She was very put out about the fact that she had received from certain people in South Australia a letter indicating their displeasure at the stand that she and other Liberal senators from South Australia had taken on this question. She was quite petulant about it. It seems that she believes that people in South Australia are not permitted to oppose an opinion that runs counter to the opinions expressed by South Australian Liberal senators. If anybody in South Australia sends me an indication of his thoughts, whether I agree with them or not, at least I acknowledge his right to do so. If any South Australian wants to go as far as happened in the case of Senator Buttfield - it was suggested that because she did not vote as her correspondent wished he would not vote for her at the next election - that is his right and prerogative and he can apply the same tactics to me if he so wishes. I shall certainly not challenge that right, but I might disagree with the opinion.
– And you would not follow his lead.
– I am doing what I think is best for South Australia. Some South Australians may believe that I am wrong, but I inform Senator Little that there is no doubt in my mind as to my stand. 1 say this because I believe in my point of view and I think that 80% of South Australians are on my side. I do not think that is an extravagant statement. I think Senator Laucke, who lives among the people who are most affected by the proposal, would agree with me. Unfortunately Senator Buttfield is not in the chamber at present to hear my remarks. She suggested that it is blackmail for people to send her communications disagreeing with her stand. Is she prepared to go further and say that the communication I received - and undoubtedly she received it also, because it was sent to all South Australian senators - from the National Farmers Union of South Australia Inc., asking all Federal members of Parliament to continue to fight for the Chowilla Dam, is blackmail? If it is, let us say so.
Is it suggested that the brochure I have before me, sent to me by Mr Hall, Premier of South Australia, setting out fourteen facts about Chowilla and obviously asking for my support in getting Chowilla Dam for South Australia, is blackmail? Is it sai- that the telegram we have before us from a meeting at Loxton, signed by a very responsible person there, is blackmail? I submit to honourable senators that such an argument is merely a smokescreen across the horizon to conceal the poverty of the arguments put forward. If honourable senators opposite from South Australia wish to know what South Australians are thinking on the issue, I suggest that they do what I did. Ten days before Parliament assembled for this session I went into the irrigation areas of South Australia along the lower and upper Murray. I talked with the people there and found out what they think about the proposal for a dam at Chowilla. Senator Buttfield has now entered the chamber, a little late to hear my remarks about her statement.
– I heard them.
– I hope that my comments registered.
– I would call them misrepresentation.
– It is a matter of opinion. I thought it was fair comment. Let us leave it at that point, anyway. Before
Senator Buttfield entered the chamber I said that if there is any doubt in the minds of honourable senators from South Australia who support the Victorian proposition as to what the people of South Australia are thinking, they should do as I have done. Ten days before Parliament assembled for this session I went into the irrigation areas of the lower and upper Murray and talked with the people who really understand the river. They know its little foibles. They know the river intimately because they have lived alongside it, some of them for up to half a century. You can talk to them until you are black in the face about the calculations of computers and you can say anything you like in support of the sophistry you can advance for Dartmouth vis-a-vis Chowilla, but you certainly will not convince them that losing Chowilla is a good thing for South Australia and that the construction of a dam at Dartmouth constitutes the entitlement of South Australians.
I think 1 should repeat that many red herrings have been drawn across the trail. The basic point of this debate should not be forgotten. The basic point to remember is that when South Australia was guaranteed Chowilla Dam by legislation passed by the Senate in 1963 it was done because the South Australian representative on the River Murray Commission had said to the other three representatives on the Commission - as he undoubtedly had a right to say - that the Chowilla Dam was to be given as fair exchange for the ceding of rights. Nobody can conceal that fact.
Senator Laught said that he believed that construction of the dam at Dartmouth ought to be proceeded with and a dam ought to be built at Chowilla at a later date. How can he expect honourable senators to take seriously such a statement from him, when the whole structure of his speech and all the time that he devoted to his argument rubbished the Chowilla proposal and pointed out how the Chowilla proposal is impacticable? Senator Laught referred to a number of factors which he said ought to guarantee that the Chowilla proposal was not proceeded with, Then he associated that statement cheek by jowl with the statement that the Chowilla Dam ought to be built. What sort of nonsense is that to ask honourable senators to believe? I say that the amendment put forward by Victorians is eminently suitable for Victorians but is no darned good for South Australians.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, in the remarks of Senator Toohey.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
I point out to Senator Buttfield that in making a personal explanation in respect of misrepresentation she should not add new matter but should keep to the subject of the misrepresentation.
– Senator Toohey said that I was resentful because somebody criticised my stand. That is not true. I said that it was regrettable that a person resorted to blackmail by saying that because I had not supported the proposal for a dam at Chowilla, he would see that members of the organisation with which he was associated would vote against me at the next election. I have no objection at all to any organisation criticising my stand. I welcome criticism from people who do not think I am acting correctly. However, I object to blackmail by people who say that because I have not done what they want me to do, they will vote against me at the next election.
– I oppose the amendment moved by Senator Cormack. In doing so I apologise to honourable senators from States other than Victoria and South Australia who can be excused for thinking that this debate has gone on for too long. I remind honourable senators that the amendment I am opposing was moved in this debate after four Labor senators from- South Australia had spoken in favour of the motion, as had one Liberal senator from South Australia. An amendment was then proposed by Senator Cormack from Victoria. From that point on Liberal senators from South Australia have spoken in favour of that amendment. I think 1 am justified in adding my opposition to it. Regardless of what Victorians might like South Australians to accept as in their best interests, South Australians believe that their best interests lie in the proposed Chowilla Dam.
I would be less concerned about the amendment if it merely reflected what Senator Cormack and the honourable senators who have supported the amendment believe is best for Victoria. Anybody who has followed the history of this dispute since the bone was first pointed at Chowilla must real’ise that the Opposition has come from Victorians. People who today have honest doubts about whether a dam at Chowilla would be best for South Australia have no doubts at all about what is best for Victoria. I agree that the construction of a dam at Chowilla will create a salinity problem for Victoria. Not one honourable senator representing Victoria nor any honourable senator who has opposed the original motion has said that he is proposing the motion because the construction of a dam at Chowilla is against the interests of Victoria. But every honourable senator knows that that is the actual basis of their opposition to Chowilla because if a dam is contructed at Chowilla it will create a salinity problem for Victoria. When 1 refer to a problem I do not mean that it is an insoluble problem, but it is a problem the Victorians will in the future, when a dam is contructed at Dartmouth, pass on to South Australia. If a dam were constructed at Chowilla the salinity problem would have to be dealt with inside the confines of Victoria. In case anybody doubts what I am saying, 1 shall quote from Hansard of Tuesday, 25th February 1969. In another place the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) was asked by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) a question in these terms:
I address a question to the Minister for National Development. In view of the fact that Australia needs to conserve all available water and in view of the now proven technical feasibility of the Chowilla Dam, will the Minister use his influence to see that a long term River Murray development plan is drawn up forthwith and an indication given as to when Chowilla will be proceeded with even though the Dartmouth project may be given priority?
The Minister for National Development replied: 1 will certainly look into the matter raised by the honourable member, but I believe it would be extremely difficult to draw up a long term plan for the development of the River Murray. The selection of dam sites varies quite considerably, depending on such factors as the needs of the States and the salinity problem. The honourable member will realise that the need to pass a greater flow of water down the River Murray affected quite considerably the benefit that would have been available out of Chowilla. If salinity could be brought under control, Chowilla would provide a greater benefit than it is seen to have at present. For this, and for a number of other reasons, it would be extremely difficult to draw up any long term plan.
If that is a true statement it indicates that a salinity problem will be created in Victoria by the construction of a dam at Chowilla. Victoria will have to cope with this salinity problem. South Australia has had to cope with a salinity problem over the years. I would be more convinced - and 1 am certain that most people less interested in the actual merits of the argument between State and State would be, too - if those representing Victorian interests had come out frankly and said: ‘We oppose the Chowilla site because we think it would be more in the interests of Victoria to have a dam at Dartmouth’. But the Senate should not be asked to put up with this humbug that the Dartmouth site would be more to the interest of South Australia when we all know, including honourable senators opposite from South Australia, that there is nothing in the report of the experts to alter the original concept of Chowilla. The only difference - and this is where the computer had to reach a different conclusion to the original recommendation of the experts - was in the amount of flow required to pass through Mildura, which was mentioned by the Minister a few days ago in reply to a question asked of him. If it is required that a flow of 900 cusecs should pass through Mildura one does not need a computer to tell one that Chowilla will not supply it. One’s commonsense indicates that if one places a requirement into the computer that a flow of 900 cusecs should pass through Mildura one will obviously get an answer that Chowilla will not fulfil the requirement. But that aspect was not considered by the expert committee. The requirement that a flow of 900 cusecs should pass through Mildura will not be of benefit to the people of South Australia; it will be of benefit to those people in Victoria who will use the water for irrigation purposes.
– Firstly, I wish to indicate my support of Senator Cormack’s amendment. Unlike honourable senators opposite who represent the State of South Australia, T support it because I believe that if it is carried it will ensure that the people of South Australia will get more and better water from the Dartmouth site than from the Chowilla site.
– The honourable senator says ‘rubbish’. Some honourable senators opposite have criticised the technical committee which was set up to inquire into this matter and also the River Murray Commission. They have been particularly critical of the technical committee. 1 wish to advise the Senate that the technical committee comprised Mr Horsfall from Victoria, Mr Beaney from South Australia and Mr Harrison from the River Murray Commission. These people have been promoted since. Mr Horsfall is now the Commissioner representing Victoria, Mr Beaney is the Commissioner representing South Australia and Mr Harrison is the Chairman of the technical committee. These people recommended in 1961 that a dam should be constructed at Chowilla at a cost of $28m, but because the cost has since increased and there have been certain changes these same people now advocate that a dam should be constructed at Dartmouth. Why are they advocating Dartmouth in preference to Chowilla?
– That is the S64 question in South Australia.
– It is quite simple for anybody who really wants to understand the matter and does not want to deal with it emotionally. Page 6 of the report to the River Murray Commission relating to the future development of the water resources of the River Murray states quite distinctly that:
If Dartmouth was constructed to provide a storage of about 3 million acre feet it would enable an increased average annual supply to the upper Slates of 0.86 million acre feet per annum more than could now be provided by a storage at Chowilla <>f up to 5.06 million acre feel. This is based on a flow passing Mildura of 900 cusecs.
– Tell us about Lock 10.
– I am having a look at the whole position, but honourable senators opposite who represent the State of South Australia are playing politics.
– No, we are not.
– If honourable senators opposite were successful and a dam were constructed at Chowilla, would there be any possibility at all of the people of South Australia enjoying any extra water over and above their present entitlement of 1.254 million acre feet? The answer is no, because there would be only a very small amount of water which could be made available.
– Why does the Minister not answer the queries?
– This is the whole crux of the question because if South Australia wants more water - and it does - the only way it can get an increased quantity over and above its quota of 1.254 million acre feet is from a dam that is built at Dartmouth.
– That is. if your figures are right.
– These are not my figures. These are the figures of the River Murray Commission and its technical advisers. The honourable senator is not prepared to take the figures of the original advisers who originally recommended Chowilla and have now swung over because of new information available to them through the use of computers and such things, and because of an extra study that has been made of the evaporation at Chowilla. These very technical advisers who originally recommended that Chowilla should be built are now saying that in the interests of South Australia a dam should be built at Dartmouth. This is a very important point because one minute the Labor Party supporters are prepared to accept the advice of the technical advisers
– We still do - the first one.
– The same people are now giving different advice. Honourable senators opposite do not want that type of advice, but these are the very same people. I know very well that the honourable senator wants to play politics, and I am just wondering whether, when honourable senators opposite go up and talk to the people on the river, they say: ‘If a dam is built at Dartmouth you will get extra water’. Honourable senators opposite do not do that; they go along and say: ‘We are going to support the Chowilla dam.’ And in actual fact they are advocating a scheme that will give less water to South Australia. I do not want to be critical of the honourable senator, but I think if I was a senator representing South Australia I would accept the advice of the technical advisers and of the River Murray Commission which in all honesty says that in the interests of South Australia a dam should be built at Dartmouth.
– Which technical advisers would you take heed of - the ones in 1961?
– I have talked about 1961 and about 1968, and honourable senators know very well that in 1961 these technical advisers with the information available to them estimated that a dam could be constructed at Chowilla for $28m. Honourable senators know the history of what has happened in the years since then. When the contract waslet a tender that was acceptable to the River Murray Commission was in the vicinity of $68m. Then again, we know very well that the evaporation from Chowilla-
– How do you know that? Give us the reasons for that. Answer the Opposition’s arguments.
- Mr Acting President, I would kindly entreat the honourable senator to endeavour, if he can, to read the reports.
– I have read the reports. Have you read my speeches? Read them and answer the arguments in them.
– I have read many speeches on this particular subject and I have never heard so much rot talked about it as in the honourable senator’s speeches. If the honourable senator says that his speeches are right he must say that the technical advisers are wrong.
– Why did you shift from Lake Victoria?
– I am not going into all of these details. I am speaking to this amendment. It reads: “Omit all words after ‘Senate’, insert - realising the urgent need for additional supplies of water in the River Murray, urges the Commonwealth Government to take all necessary steps, in consultation with the Governments of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, to ensure that action is taken as soon as possible to provide such supplies; that all three States benefit therefrom; and, in particular, that South Australia’s quota of 1.254 million acre feet a year shall be substantially increased.’.”
One cannot by the greatest stretch of imagination in the world fit this amendment to Chowilla, because it can bring about very little, if any, increase above 1.254 million acre feet a year for South Australia. But if the Dartmouth dam is built there is . 86 million acre feet of additional water to be divided up by the two up-river States. The Premier of South Australia is making representations to the other States and to the Commonwealth to see whether it is possible to get an increase that could not be obtained from Chowilla but which may be obtained from Dartmouth, that is, something in excess of 1.254 million acre feet. Mr Steele Hall, the Premier of South Australia, is asking the other States and the Commonwealth to agree to 1.5 million acre feet. If the amount of 1.5 million acre feet is agreed to, this will mean that South Australia will be receiving . 246 million acre feet a year over and above its entitlement, and I believe that as . 86 million acre feet will be available to the upper States those States may agree to some increase. I do not say that it will be 1.5 million acre feet, but I think they would certainly agree to a substantial increase over and above 1.254 million acre feet, and this is only possible if the dam is built at Dartmouth.
– Who told you that? Why do you not answer the questions we have asked?
-I spent over half an hour endeavouring to explain the whole of this situation to honourable senators last Tuesday night. I have spoken this evening for about 20 minutes trying to explain it and because the honourable senator wants to play politics and deal with emotionalism he is not prepared to allow it to sink in. He is not prepared to take the advice of the technical advisers. The honourable senator said that their advice was all right in 1961, but their advice - the same people but different advice - is not acceptable to him today. This is what the Opposition is saying. I am saying to honourable senators opposite that this amendment as moved by Senator Cormack will give the people in South Australia much better water and much more water than they would get from the Chowilla scheme.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– 1 desire to raise a matter which I believe is of considerable public concern because there are a number of very disquieting features about it which should concern the Senate. I refer to what has been described in the newspapers and on occasions in this chamber as the ‘Hoffmann affair’. It appears to me that this matter arose first on Tuesday last when the Opposition, believing that it had certain cards to play, played them and endeavoured to exploit its hand to the full by devious and inconsistent ploys. I believe that it is fair for the Opposition to concede that what it attempted to achieve it has failed miserably to achieve. It was suggested initially that there was an alleged activity in the embassy of a friendly power. On that issue members of the Opposition must have known, because it has been a pattern extending over more than 20 years, that statements made in questions of this character asked in the Parliament are neither confirmed nor denied by the responsible Minister. The Opposition could not have expected that any other reply would have been given because under a Labor Prime Minister and under Liberal Prime Ministers the policy behind such an attitude has been well recognised.
It was suggested that pressure had been brought to bear by Sir Charles Spry because it was alleged in a newspaper that pressure had been brought to bear. That allegation would appear, quite conclusively, from the evidence that has been given and the statements that have been made in the House of Representatives and in this chamber, to be wholly false, lt may be that the Opposition can salvage one point out of the many issues that it raised; that is that the procedures under the Public Service Act warrant some inquiry to determine whether or not a person who is under notice of dismissal should be allowed to resign.
I believe that the Opposition’s conduct in this matter has been wholly unjustified. 1 believe that it is totally reprehensible. It is reprehensible from the viewpoint of the Australian nation which we are here to serve because, even supposing that these allegations had been true, there was no complaint from the embassy concerned and there was no complaint from any individual who was thought to have been wronged; there was simply an argument and an attack made by an Opposition which sought to belittle the Security Service, which it desired to belittle without regard to the security and defence of this country. It is reprehensible from the viewpoint of the individuals concerned, namely Mr Hoffmann and Mrs Hoffmann. The attitude of members of the Opposition, it appears to me, is a far cry from that of their predecessors, who were concerned to protect as far as possible any individual wronged or labouring under a sense of wrong. It is reprehensible from the viewpoint of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who was unjustly attacked as having made unfair, inaccurate and inconsistent statements. He was not mentioned in the original article from which Senator Cavanagh quoted. Nothing about his conduct in this matter, either under the Public Service Act or in anything that was brought forward, warranted the slurs that were cast on him. Therefore I say that the conduct in which members of the Opposition have engaged is conduct for which they should stand condemned. 1 believe that it is significant that on the first night of the sessional period, in the adjournment debate, an attack was made by five Labor senators, all of them in their various ways attacking activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Those five senators are all grouped, according to the popular Press, in the left wing of the Labor Party. Of course, the left wing of the Labor Party is a group of people who seem to be far out of touch with the general aspirations of the Australian people. I do not think that it was sheer coincidence that on this particular night five senators got up one after another and made attacks on the Security Service. The whole purpose was, as the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said with a very pointed economy of words over the weekend, to denigrate the Australian Security Service. If no other purpose is served by what has happened over the past week, then disclosure of this fact, if communicated to the Australian people, is well worth while: Some members of the Labor Party are prepared to denigrate the Security Service in the pursuit of what they think is some cheap party political advantage.
The matter was, of course, raised initially by Senator Cavanagh in questions on Tuesday last, the first day of this sessional period. He developed his case in the course of the adjournment debate. He referred to an article which had been written by a Mr Eric Walsh in the Adelaide ‘News’. He sought to rely upon what was in that article as allegations upon which he desired some information. Even though he was assured that the questions which he asked in the afternoon would be answered he nevertheless, in the evening, proceeded to develop his allegations without waiting for the replies. I. have read the article. 1 think it is very significant that what Senator Cavanagh has alleged is contained in that article is inconsistent with what the article actually contains, lt is very important that that point should be recognised because what has been said in this chamber has been seized upon by the Press and highlighted, and the issue has been built into one of national proportions. Undoubtedly the Press is entitled to take what it regards as being important and significant and worthy of being given news prominence; but if the basis upon which these reports are made is inaccurate then it is a matter which ought to concern this Senate, and, indeed, the senators who engage in the propagation of these inaccuracies.
If one examines the questions which were asked by Senator Cavanagh on Tuesday last one finds that he says that there was a theft from the embassy of a friendly power and that this occurred by Government arrangement. There is no such allegation in the newspaper article. All that appears is the following statement:
The job was handled by a cautious approach to an Australian woman employed at the Embassy. Copies of the documents were to be obtained by her and passed to ASIO for use by the Federal Government.
That is all that appears. Newspaper writers, because of the laws relating to defamation, have to be careful what they write, and it is quite inaccurate to say that that is an allegation of theft. Yet that was the first basis upon which Senator Cavanagh tried to build his case.
– She admitted it herself in writing.
– That was not what Senator Cavanagh said when he raised his question, and the record shows it. Then in a second question on that day Senator Cavanagh asked: ls it true, as stated in that article, that the headquarters in Melbourne of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is fitted with poison gas to prevent unauthorised entry?
What appears in the article are details of the headquarters of the Organisation which contains hundreds of thousands of files and documents. The article states:
Its massive safe is fitted with gas pipes that can be connected to a poison gas system to prevent unauthorised entry.
That shows a vast difference, particularly in the light of the justification that Senator Cavanagh afterwards attempted to use to explain his question, from what he in fact said. In the adjournment debate that night he also referred to certain documents which he said had been taken from the embassy but which were not in relation to security. No such alteration is contained in the article. The article stated:
Economic intelligence on the country concerned was at a premium, and at hand was the convenient tool of Sir Charles Spry’s organisation to meet the task of penetrating its embassy.
That contains no suggestion that what was involved had no relationship to security, when one looks at the definition in the Act of security, as Senator Cavanagh referred to it last Tuesday. I appreciate that some honourable senators opposite may have different opinions on that point. I simply say that the statement that this alleged theft had no relationship to security, which was made by Senator Cavanagh, nowhere appeared in the article.
– What was that quotation?
– It appears at page 59 of this session’s Hansard. On the Wednesday night Senator Cavanagh was becoming worked up on his subject. He made a statement which indicated that his enthusiasm for his cause had carried him far beyond any question of truth or objectivity. He said:
Let us look at the way that Hoffman comes into this matter. When I spoke last night I referred to accusations in newspapers that an agent in the embassy was, at the instigation of some government department, making extra copies of commercial papers, bringing them out of the embassy and supplying them to the government department. As I said last night, that is the only accusation that I read.
From the passages which I have read it is quite clear that that does not appear in the article to which Senator Cavanagh referred. I suggest that an examination of the article and a comparison with what Senator Cavanagh said the article contained indicates, as was said last week, that truth and objectivity had no part whatever in the case which was being sought to be built up. As a result of questions which have been asked and the considered answers which have been given after time had elapsed for investigation by the responsible Ministers, it appears that much of what is in this article, which has been so much relied upon by the Opposition to build up ils case, is false. Mr Walsh stated:
But, without notice, the man whose dismissal had been doubly established, was reinstated and allowed to resign - with a clean record.
That is false and the answers which have been given demonstrate it as such. The article continued:
The one man who could so swiftly reverse the routine administrative process of the Commonwealth Public Service is Sir Charles Spry.
Why did he intervene?
Later, when the intervention was referred to again, the article continued:
Sir Charles Spry intervened in the case of the dismissed public servant because the activities, reputation and secrecy of his organisation were suddenly and unexpectedly threatened.
I think it is worth while to recall an answer given by the Prime Minister today. He said:
Again that indicates how false the article is. The article contains a further reference, for which I can offer no verification, but I raise it because it puts the suggestion that
Mrs Hoffmann had been employed in the Japanese Embassy some 5, 6 or 7 years ago - a matter of years ago. I cannot verify the details of that statement, but the matter has been mentioned in the Press and on television. Yet Mr Walsh, when he dealt with this aspect of what was happening in the embassy of a friendly power, said:
Months earlier, growing economic involvement with a foreign power created many new problems for the Gorton Government and new tensions within it.
Expressly and by innuendo, quite clearly the inference was made that this was something that had happened since Mr Gorton became Prime Minister. It created a totally false impression. Another point made in the article, referring to Mrs Hoffmann, is this:
She won his reinstatement and resignation with a clear record by threatening to expose ASIO’s activities within the embassy of a friendly country.
That again, in the light of answers given today after inquiry and investigation and after reference to the people involved, is totally false. The crux of the case that is sought to be made out by Mr Walsh is built on inaccurate statements and any other comments, any other inferences and any other opinions in that article ought to be judged in the light of those glaring inconsistencies. That was the very pith of the article that he was writing and it is shown to be false.
The tenor of Mr Walsh’s opinions is shown by the comments that he makes. One would imagine that some Labor senators would very readily adopt those comments because they are highly critical of the Security Service and they are highly critical of Sir Charles Spry. He said:
But Sir Charles is regarded by many as one of Australia’s most powerful and dangerous men.
That is a subjective opinion, but it indicates where the sympathies of the author lie. He also said:
From his new brick headquarters in St Kilda road, Melbourne. .Sir Charles can ruin a reputation or wreck a career - often without the victim knowing that ASIO has interfered.
That again shows where his sympathies lie.
So the article is shown to be an attempt, in the event quite without foundation, to denigrate the Security Service. The article has been willingly seized upon by other people who want to denigrate the Australian
Security Intelligence Organisation. I feel, as I said earlier, that the exercise in which the Opposition engaged and which it started has not been successful from its point of view, but I think the Australian people will get an insight into the attitudes of the Australian Labor Party. They will get that insight because it is not in Australia’s interests that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which was appointed initially by the Labor Government, and which has been supported by the Liberal Governments, to perform a function designed to promote the security of this country should be denigrated without foundation. 1 would have thought that every member of the Parliament owed it to his country to ensure that the activities of the Security Service were protected. I recall that Senator Mulvihill asked me the other day whether I regarded the organisation as infallible. I said that of course it is not infallible and we must be on scrutiny and on our guard. But the points where we would be on scrutiny and on our guard are where individuals claim that they have been unjustly dealt with, where there is some basis for that claim and where an investigation can be made. This was not that sort of case. No complaint was made by anybody. As I said, it was simply at attempt by some people to get some political capital irrespective of how it hurt Australia.
There is one further point to which I think some reference should be made and I will be interested to hear what the Australian Labor Party has to say. In this evening’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ is an article above the name of Mr E. H. Cox and I think it is worth considering what is said. It throws some light on some matters that have been alleged. The first part of it reads:
Mrs Mary Hoffmann, centre of the socalled Hoffmann Affair’, made an approach to the Labor Parliamentary leader, Mr Whitlam, a former member of Mr Whitlam’s staff said today.
Birt, Mr Peter Cullen said, Mrs Hoffmann did not see Mr Whitlam.
This is Mr Cullen speaking, according to the newspaper report - that Mrs Hoffmann wanted to see Mr Whitlam about the Public Service Board’s dismissal of her husband, Gerald Charles Hoffmann, a former Customs clerk.
Mr Cullen was authorised by Mr Whitlam to deal with representations made to him.
Mrs Hoffmann told Mr Cullen that the offence with which her husband was charged was minor and technical, and that the penalty proposed was excessive.
Then there is a paragraph on what Senator Scott said last week. The article continues:
Mr Cullen said that Mrs Hoffmann asked for representations to have the penalty modified.
She also is reported to have told Mr Cullen of her past work for the security service in the Japanese Embassy, and that after having left the Japanese Embassy she was approached to work for security in the Embassy of Indonesia.
Mr Cullen, acting on his authority to handle such cases, consulted the Public Service unions and asked the Public Service Board to withhold final action until representations could be made in the case.
However, the Board’s action ended when Mr Hoffmann resigned the service.
– Does Senator Greenwood think that is the genesis of it all?
– I think there are some questions which arise naturally from that report on which answers can be given, if they are prepared to be given, by some members of the Australian Labor Party. Maybe someone in the Australian Labor Party will be prepared at some stage to give the answer to the question I wish to ask, and maybe the Australian public would like to hear the answer. I would like to know .what representations Mr Cullen made to the Public Service unions and to the Public Service Board. I do not know, but he may have said that Mrs Hoffmann had worked in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation at some stage in the past. If he had said that, would anyone suppose there was anything wrong in that? On the other hand, he may have said something that is of far greater importance. Did he allege that type of expose to which Senator Cavanagh reverred? If he did, why was that not reported to Mr Whitlam or to another person in the Australian Labor Party, or even to the Prime Minister, because it did affect security?
It would appear to me surprising if Mr Cullen’s activities in this way, and the particular knowledge he would have had that there had been a resignation which ended this matter, had not been communicated to someone in the Australian Labor Party, and if he had not communicated it to someone in the Australian Labor Party prior to last week. That might be understandable because of the Party’s internal difficulties, but one would suppose that last week it would have been mentioned, because this was blowing up into something on which the Australian Labor Party thought for once it might score. He had facts that he could have given to certain people which would have possibly helped the position. He did not pass them on. It is fair, in the light of these statements and particularly in the light of the way Senator Cavanagh and other Labor senators last week relied upon newspaper statements to seek some confirmation or denial, to expect somebody in the Australian Labor Party to give some further information about this matter. 1 have detained the Senate for some time, because I do not think it is sufficient for the Labor Party to have raised this matter in the way that it has done, to have secured Press headlines throughout the country and in the event to have been shown to have been basing a case on inaccuracies and to have sought answers to questions that were substantially without any foundation at all. In the light of what appeared in the Press tonight it owes an explanation to the people who have been interested in what has been occurring in this matter. 1 think that it ought to give it.
– We were told that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) would make a statement today and that Senator Scott would answer all questions so that the whole issue involving Mr Hoffmann would be cleared up. It is surprising that it has now been left to Senator Greenwood to resurrect the matter and to give the whole explanation in reply to the criticisms raised by the Australian Labor Party. Apparently the Prime Minister and Senator Scott must have failed in their duty to give this information in their answers this morning. We are grateful to Senator Greenwood for filling in the shortcomings of his two senior colleagues in the Ministry. We have greater proof now that this matter should have been raised than we had when we first raised it. We were accused of relying earlier on newspaper articles which may or may not have been correct. We have the article that appeared in the Sunday ‘Telegraph’ which says definitely that there is only one thing certain about this whole question and that is that Mrs Hoffmann was employed by security in the particular embassy. We also have the ‘Daily Mirror’ of last Thursday that raised the question that ASIO has been caught with its fingers in the till. The article said that Mr Gorton should apologise and promise it will not happen again.
– Who used the words: fingers in the till’?
– It was used in last Thursday’s editorial of the ‘Daily Mirror. The editorial stated:
Sir Charles Sprys men have been caught with their hands in the till. The only way to save anything in the situation is to confess, apologise and promise it won’t happen again.
– Did Mr Walsh write that?
– If Senator Greenwood, to whom J gave an attentive and tolerant hearing despite the rubbish he was talking, would listen for a while he could find some difference in my method of expressing that the gas pipes were not in the building; they were in the safe. My question today was concerned with where poisonous gas was manufactured and whether it was a danger to any citizens in the vicinity. I do not care whether it is in a safe, a building or under the bed. The purpose of the question was there.
The other question related to the assertion that it was not theft when some arrangement was made with the woman concerned, lt was not stated whether it was carried out. This is only playing with words. The whole purpose of this exercise was to condemn the Security Service for its actions in fields of activity carried out by ASIO which are not covered by the Act. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) told the Senate today, no-one here denies the need for a security service to protect the security of any country. Everyone recognises the need for security and the necessity for a security organisation to work in some kind of secrecy. But Parliament confines the Security Service activities in an Act of Parliament. Like the Chifley Government, this Government will not give information about security when the Security Service is working within the confines of this Act and for the purposes for which it was created. The question raised by the newspaper article was whether ASIO was working outside the Act. The condemnation was in relation to activities outside the Act’s provision. The Government is entitled to no secrecy about ASIO’s activities not concerned with external security. Members of ASIO are government employees and the activities of the organisation must be open for examination when they are not covered by the secrecy that attends matters of actual security.
I find that an article concerning this matter was printed in a Sydney paper in January of this year. One was printed in an Adelaide paper on 13 th February. To make sure that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) saw the article I wired him on the 14th February drawing his attention to it and telling him that I would expect an explanation when Parliament resumed. Of course, to me it was serious. Our whole relationship with friendly nations is involved if ASIO puts women into the embassies of friendly nations for the purpose of extracting commercial documents. Our relationship wilh friendly nations is so important that 1 felt confident that the Prime Minister would have a denial when I came to Canberra. I could not understand why he did not deny it. Up to this stage he has not denied that there was a security servant operating in the Japanese Embassy in Canberra. The Prime Minister hides under the cloak of the claim that this matter is one of secrecy. He has no right to claim it is entitled to secrecy, when it deals with commercial documents. The Prime Minister has had a fortnight to consider this matter. As I said before, it was thought that there would be a denial that security forces were in the embassy. What turned out to be the Hoffmann case was published in a Press article for the purpose of proof. The Prime Minister said today that he had heard of Hoffmann in the last 4 or 5 days only, yet on 14th February he knew about him from a telegram I had sent to him. The Prime Minister never bothered to study the situation to find out who was the public servant who had been dismissed and later reinstated. He was simply unconcerned about the whole affair. Apparently it is unimportant to him whether we have agents in foreign embassies. Obviously he takes it for granted that we will have agents in foreign embassies. This morning I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) whether he would give us an assurance that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation would operate within its charter under the Act, but he was unable to do even that.
Reference has been made to the left wing of the Australian Labor Party and there has been an attempt to denigrate some sections of the Labor Party. I am very proud to be a left wing member of the Labor Party with my colleague Senator Kennelly who also raised this question in this place. With Senator Kennelly 1 am in quite good company.
– So is Hartley.
– He is not in this, nor has he been classified yet as one of the left wingers, but Senator Kennelly has. Senator Kennelly and 1 now wear the brand of the left wing. I make no apologies for that. In raising the Hoffmann affair we were simply seeking a denial by the Government that what had been alleged in newspaper reports was wrong, but immediately the guilt of Government supporters became obvious because they sought to ridicule the questions. They have continued to do so on each occasion that the matter has been raised. But when the Minister told us this afternoon that the charge against Hoffmann related to 5,000 pair of turtle skins a laugh went up among Government supporters. Does it matter whether the charge related to turtle skins, bomber aircraft or motor cars? There was a falsification of a customs document. Could anything be more serious? Senator Sim was very amused when he heard that turtle skins were involved and he sought to destroy the Opposition’s case.
I refer next to the answers given to questions on the notice paper. I appreciate that a number of the questions addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) have been answered. We now have them in one document where they can be studied. They will be the subject of a future debate in this place. I do not want to go into the matter now, but the Minister’s answers show that Mr Hoffmann was reinstated.
- Mr Hoffmann had his dismissal notice withdrawn and he was permitted to resign, contrary to the advice of the Department of Customs and Excise.
– The honourable senator still has it wrong.
– This is contrary to what the honourable senator has been told.
– I am saying that these questions will be the subject of some analysis in a future discussion in this place. The spokesman for the Government showed today that he was much concerned about the publicity given to the use of security agents, but on not one occasion have our suggestions been denied. I want to know who is the agent who has been lobbying in the Labor Party lobbies. I want to know whether he is paid from funds allocated for the Attorney-General’s Department or the Security Service. This is important. Is this a Security operation? I am concerned about the activities of this organisation. Although we recognise the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s right to conduct investigations in some fields, the organisation is going far beyond its field when it endeavours to supply information to other departments and goes beyond matters of security.
I think that we are only just commencing this story. Unfortunately Hoffmann was used as proof of the use of the Security Service. Now we find that there is a need for investigation of queries among government departments. This has been brought about from these latest answers, and there are many more questions to be answered before the full story is told. Some of the questions asked may have been irrelevant. At no time in my earlier statements did I make an allegation. I sought information, but on no occasion was the Government prepared to give it. The Government is now caught up in this publicity and accusations in the Press. There has been no denial by anyone at all in authority on the Government side. There has been no denial of the operations of the Security Service to obtain commercial documents. The only reply has been: ‘We can exonerate ourselves in regard to the dismissal of Hoffmann.’ The Hoffmann affair is not finished yet. There is a tot more to come. I deprecate the idea of Senator Greenwood, who is apparently the Government’s spokesman on this matter, putting forward this proposal when he knows that the Government is disgraced over the whole affair. He is only trying to boost the courage of the Government forces.
– My comments on this matter will be brief. Let me say that the Labor movement believes in the security of this country. Indeed, it was a Labor Government that established the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The Chifley Labor Government established the Organisation to operate within a certain charter, and at the time appointed as its head a Supreme Court judge to ensure that the civil rights, the civil liberties, of the Australian individual would be protected and would be paramount, having regard to the security of the nation. But because of events that have occurred over recent months, it is quite obvious that there is concern not only on the part of the Labor movement but also on the part of responsibly minded citizens that ASIO might have over-indulged itself. Because the Organisation is not answerable to the Australian Parliament and all of its activities seem to be conducted on a very secretive basis, the Labor movement and others are concerned to see that the Government does not create a Frankenstein monster which will threaten the civil liberties of the Australian people and the international standing and reputation of this great nation of ours.
Let us leave the Hoffmann affair in isolalation and consider whether ASIO agreed to place an Australian citizen in the embassy of a friendly country for the purpose of obtaining information, of whatever nature it might be. Senator Greenwood referred this evening to a Mr Peter Cullen who at one stage was on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition. In the Melbourne Herald’ of today’s date Mr Cullen is reported to have said that Mrs Hoffmann, when she saw him, asked for representations to have the penalty imposed on her husband modified. She is also reported to have told Mr Cullen of her past work for the Security Service in the Japanese Embassy and that after having left the Japanese Embassy she was approached to work for Security in the Embassy of Indonesia. There is a statement in black and white in a newspaper which has a very large circulation throughout Australia, but still the Government does not attempt to confirm or deny it. One might also refer to the Sydney ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of last Sunday. Certainly no-one can say that the Packer medium of propaganda or the Packer news network is sympathetic to the Labor movement. In the Sydney ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of last Sunday, under the heading ‘Hoffman Affair - the Facts’, this statement appears:
The Hoffmanns, who now live in Sydney, have remained silent so far. The public demands answers.
This newspaper owned by Sir Frank Packer, who is generally regarded as very sympathetic to the present Government, is saying that the Australian public demands answers. The article continues:
From what the ‘Telegraph’ now knows, the Hoffmann affair could explode into the most sensational exposure of the shadowy operations of ASIO since the famous Petrov Royal Commission 14 years ago.
One thing is certain, Mrs Hoffmann did, in fact, act as agent for ASIO to obtain secret information from the Japanese Embassy, where she worked as a trusted secretary.
The question of why - against a friendly country - has turned the public spotlight on the activities of ASIO.
Probably the best kept secret in Australia is the operations of this mysterious counter-espionage organisation.
So I say that it is not only the Labor movement that is demanding answers from the Government with relation to this sordid affair: it is also the great public newspaper proprietors and, of course, the Australian public.
This is a matter of great consternation. It is a matter of great public concern. We want to see that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operates effectively, that it operates within its charter and that it operates having regard to the civil liberties of the Australian citizen, and having regard to the standing of this nation abroad. We say that it is time the Australian Government faced up to its responsibilities and said yea or nay as to whether the circumstances enumerated by honourable senators on this side of the Senate are correct.
– I should like to say a word or two about the matter raised by Senator Greenwood. I thought his statement a very remarkable one. He tried to behave as though what had happened this afternoon had not happened. He tried to behave as though, in some way or other, what had been suggested by the Opposition had been effectively disposed of by the Government. I respectfully suggest that exactly the opposite is the case. We have been left, after all that has been said, with a grave sense of disquiet. As the Government has explained the matter, it has all been just too simple.
The Government would have us believe that it was but a very simple matter, that a man was sacked for improper conduct, that he was ordered to be dismissed, that he appealed, that his appeal was dismissed and that he then exercised his right under the Public Service system to resign before his dismissal notice became effective. The Government would have us believe that it was - perfectly simple story, that there was no difficulty about it, that there was no question of security pressure, that it had nothing to do with the case of this man’s wife, with respect to whom it has been alleged and not denied - I emphasise ‘not denied’ - that she had, whether in the recent past or a few years ago, been taking commercial papers from the Japanese Embassy whilst in it’s employ.
If the position were as the Government has tried to explain it, why have we been subjected to this pathetic display by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), by other Ministers who have risen to support him, and by supporters of the Government, all trying to explain away something that apparently needed no explanation? In this chamber last Thursday, we had the spectacle of questions being directed to the Minister responsible for the department in which this officer worked, and all we could hear from him was: ‘Will you put it on notice?’ It is like pleading the fifth amendment. All that the Minister could say was: T have nothing to say. Will you put the question on notice? I will let you have an answer later.’ What was there to worry about if what we have been told is correct? I suggest that we have not yet had the full facts.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), while accepting that it is not customary to discuss security matters, has gone out of his way to answer one half of the question but not the other half. He said that no pressure of any kind was applied to the Department by the security organisation, but he has left completely untouched the allegation which has been repeated a number of times in the Press and in the ‘Incentive’ newsletter of last November. The allegation appeared also in the October 1968 issue of Mr Whitington’s newsletter ‘Inside Canberra’ under the heading ‘Government Men Dismissed.’ That article read:
Two officers, one from the Trade Department and one from the Customs Department, have been dismissed for alleged misdemeanours involving breaches of security relating to confidential information.
I do not know whether that statement is accurate, but these matters were the subject of public allegation. There was every reason why the Minister should have been ready to answer these questions when the Senate met last week.
We had last week the most extraordinary spectacle of a 2-hour debate in which the issues were bandied backwards and forwards, with every opportunity being available to the Minister to tell us the simple facts, if what he told us today is the whole truth. Yet he sat mute, advised by other Ministers not to speak. At the end of the 2-hour debate we had had not a word from the Minister in explanation of what was, if we accept today’s story, a perfectly simple matter. This does not sound like a simple matter to me. What is in issue in this discussion is the credibility of the Government. What is in issue is whether we can rely on the answers given by Ministers of the Crown when a matter of great public importance is raised. This is the great difficulty. It is of no use Senator Greenwood or anybody else starting this rubbish about the left wing or the Labor Party asking awkward questions about security. Surely we have not reached the stage in Australia when it is not permissible to allege that the Security Service has travelled outside its proper charter. Having made the allegation we find ourselves rubbished because, so it is said, we have caused some damage to our country. We reject that proposition. We accept the position as laid down by the late Prime Minister Chifley.
It is perfectly legitimate and necessary for Australia to have a security organisation. No member on this side of the Parliament has ever suggested to the contrary. But we have been very concerned from time to time by manifestations of what we consider to be political use of the security organisation and of the organisation’s travelling outside its charter. We do not intend to be intimidated into refraining from bringing forward on proper occasions any instances of security activity which we think call for investigation and report. Having taken part in this debate in the last few days I believe that what is at stake is the credibility of the Government. The Government has not come out of this debate well because we are still waiting for some explanation as to why it was necessary to carry on with all this rigmarole. If security was not involved why could we not have the truth last week - if it was the truth?
– I rise to speak in this debate on the adjournment of the Senate because my attention has been drawn to a Hansard proof copy of an answer I gave at question time this afternoon. I note from reading the proof copy that I made a misstatement in the course of an answer to a question by Senator Murphy. Senator Murphy asked me when I first learned of the proposed resignation of Mr Hoffmann from my Department and what hand I had in the acceptance of the resignation after notice of dismissal had been gazetted. In reply I said I was advised by my Department of the resignation before I received the letter dated 11th November from Mr Hoffmann. Obviously, I should have said that I was advised by my Department of the resignation some days after the Public Service Board had accepted the resignation. In fact, Mr Hoffmann wrote to me on 11th November. I forwarded his letter to my Department without comment on 13th November and Mr Hoffmann resigned on 14th November.
– The Senate has been involved in a rather long debate on this matter and what the Opposition has set out to achieve has been achieved. It has made members of the Government understand that the Opposition will not sit back and allow members of the Parliament and the Government, when accusations are made, to refuse completely to face up to their responsibilities. Two issues are involved in this matter. The Government has carefully evaded one issue by saying that the area of security is sacrosanct and that the sacred cow must not be approached. Ministers have been able to produce figures and answers about the dismissal or the resignation of Mr Hoffmann, but what is involved is a letter written by Mrs Hoffmann. That letter is in existence In it Mrs Hoffmann complained that the security people had used her for the purpose of obtaining information of a commercial nature from the embassy in Canberra of a friendly power. In normal circumstances an embassy can expect to have diplomatic privilege. The serious charge that that privilege has been breached has not been answered by the Government. Why does any organisation have the right to go into an embassy and ask for commercial information? Is this Government so Gestapominded and arrogantly Fascist as to condone that? Are Government supporters the new Herrenvolk?
- Senator O’Byrne. you will withdraw those remarks about Gestapominded and Fascist behaviour.
– I am asking questions.
– Order! You used the words. Withdraw them.
– I would like to substitute the expression-
– You will not substitute words; you will withdraw those words.
– Which words?
– ‘Gestapo-minded’ and Fascist’.
– Are they the new Herrenvolk?
– I am not asking you to substitute words. You have been here for many years and you are aware that those two words have been looked upon as being unparliamentary. You will1 withdraw those words.
– I withdraw them and ask this: Are they the new Herrenvolk who have brought us closer to 1984 and the days of Big Brother breathing down our necks? This is the attitude that Government supporters have been sustaining in this matter. The security people have been given a charter setting out their job. Where their duties begin and end is written down plainly in their charter. The matter we have been discussing for some time now arose in October and November of last year. It was reported in the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’, the Brisbane ‘Truth’ and the Adelaide ‘News’. It was raised in the Senate by Senator Cavanagh. I think the behaviour of the Government is best described by an expression used by Senator Greenwood - devious and inconsistent ploys’. That phrase is thrown right back in his teeth.
There is no doubt that the Government has tried every possible way to wriggle out of this situation, ft knows very well that it stands accused of condoning a state of affairs that should not be allowed to exist here. If the security organisation is given the OK to pry into commercial matters where will it stop? When the President would not allow me to use those four-letter unmentionable words I was trying to liken the position to what happens when a security organisation can infiltrate gradually into people’s affairs and expand its authority. It has happened in other countries. It has happened in Germany. It has happened in the Soviet Union. That is the very thing that we claim we are trying to prevent happening here. That is what wars arc fought over, yet we see it before our eyes being condoned here.
The German people were hypnotised by the fear (hat the secret police were allowed to develop in their country. Are the people of this country lo have fear in their hearts and to have to look continually over their shoulder for other than reasons of security? Commercial information is being obtained, telephones are being tapped and even private conversations between a man and his wife are being overheard. That is the type of thing that is going on in this country yet we are being accused of doing the wrong thing by directing the attention of the Australian public to it. The Government has become a little conceited and a little arrogant because of its long term in office, but its days are quickly coming to an end. The people of Australia, the Press of Australia and the Public Service of Australia are getting sick and tired of this Organisation. This is another illustration of the fact that the Government has been in office for too long and should be tipped out on its neck.
– I did not intend to enter this debate but some extraordinary allegations have been made by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Cohen. The position is becoming extraordinary. Last week we had Senator Wheeldon in synthetic anger regaling us with what happened in 1965. If this was a matter of principle, as Senator Wheeldon would have had us believe, why did he wait 4 years before directing our attention to it? If this wicked thing had been going on it is extraordinary to me that Senator Wheeldon waited 4 years until an attack had been made by some of his colleagues on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation before bringing up this matter to try to support them. All I can say to Senator Wheeldon is this: It was an extraordinary performance and one that carries no weight whatever. If Senator Wheeldon thought that he gave a good performance, well, he is easily satisfied. 1 entered this debate only because Senator Greenwood showed up the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and indeed the falsehoods of the article which Senator Cavanagh has used as his bible. He has shown that Mr Walsh made statements which were completely untrue. Mr Walsh said that this man had been reinstated. In fact he had never been reinstated. That was the first false statement. He said also that he had heaped problems on the Gorton Government, but we now know that the woman concerned in the matter was employed in the Japanese Embassy anything up to 8 years ago and had nothing whatever to do with the Gorton Government. That was the second inaccurate statement. Senator Greenwood pointed out one or two others.
It having been shown that this article was completely inaccurate in those major details what did Senator Cavanagh do? He sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) seeking a denial of these allegations. Tonight he tells us that all he wants is a denial of the allegations made by Mr Walsh in an article which has already been proven to be untrue insofar as major details are concerned.
– Who has denied that there were agents in the embassy?
– Let us examine the tactics adopted by honourable senators opposite. Senator Cavanagh read out a whole list of allegations that are unsupported by any evidence whatsoever and he asked the Prime Minister to deny them. It is the oldest political trick in the world to draw something out of one’s hat and say: ‘Deny it.’
– Will the honourable senator deny it?
– I do not have to deny anything. The onus of proof is on honourable senators opposite to prove the accuracy of these allegations.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! The honourable senator should be heard in silence.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. I realise that honourable senators opposite are somewhat concerned. I only wish to make the point that it is the oldest political trick in the world to make allegations and then request the Government to deny them. This has happened tonight. 1 put it to Senator Cavanagh and other honourable senators opposite that the onus is on the Opposition to produce evidence to support its allegation. Until it can produce that evidence the Government is entitled to put its allegations in the same category as it puts the other statements made by Mr Walsh which are completely untrue.
Senator Cohen said that if these allegations are true one should not trust the Government. It is a shrewd move to use the words ‘if these allegations are true’. Senator Cohen should prove whether they are true or not. I do not wonder that the Australian Labor Party is suspicious and that it sees intrigue. After all, the Labor Party lives on intrigue; it is used to it. I can well understand its supporters believing that the intrigue which goes on within its own ranks also occurs in other political parties; that is their mentality. I again emphasise that the one point I wish to make is that it is pretty poor and shabby tactics for Senator Cavanagh and other honourable senators opposite to stand up and read something out of the Press and say: ‘Deny it’ If that is the best the Opposition can do, they have made a pretty poor job of it.
– Will the honourable senator deny it?
– 1 do not have to deny anything. Honourable senators opposite have to prove these allegations and until they do I put their allegations in the same category as I put other statements by Mr Walsh in this article which are completely unfounded.
– There are only a few matters to which I wish to refer. I am not altogether clear as to the motives of Senator Greenwood in raising this matter tonight. I am sure it must have been through his own enthusiasm to arise in the service rather than as a result of any approach from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). I think the Government would be well advised to refrain from continuing to debate this subject, except when it is absolutely necessary. This matter has come before the Parliament because of allegations which have been made in a number of newspapers throughout Australia. They are very serious allegations indeed. The Senate has now been informed by Senator Sim and other honourable senators opposite that they do not believe what appears in the daily Press.
– Does the honourable senator?
– Sometimes I do and sometimes I do not. I believe some correspondents more than others and some newspapers more than others. But I am surprised at the attitude adopted by honourable senators opposite of repudiating practically every daily newspaper circulating throughout Australia and of criticising the Australian Labor Party for raising matters which first appeared in the Press. On many occasions when honourable senators opposite have discussed in this chamber proceedings which they have understood to have taken place inside the Australian Labor Party they have relied purely on what they have read in the Press. I am sure that Senator Sim’s comments on the situation inside Czechoslovakia, Latin America or Vietnam do not come from any heavier reading than the ‘Reader’s Digest’.
This matter has been raised because of serious allegations which have been made by a large number of newspapers. There is one important allegation concerning Mrs Hoffmann with whom I must confess a complete lack of any acquaintance whatsoever.
I have no knowledge of Mrs Hoffmann, or of her reliability or anything else about her other than the fact that statements have been made in the Press to the effect that she was working within the Japanese Embassy and that while doing so she was reporting to the Australian Government or some organ of it. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was introduced into the subject.
– I guarantee that you cannot point to any newspaper in which you can read that. I challenge you to do it. This is not what Senator Cavanagh says.
– I suggest that Senator Greenwood should have a look at the ‘Sunday Telegraph’, where he will find it. Or he will find it if he looks at ‘Incentive’ about which I intend to say a few words shortly. If I were Senator Greenwood I would not be too critical of ‘Incentive’ because the proprietor is a very close friend of some of his senior colleagues inside his own Party.
All I wish to say about this matter is that there is some confusion in my own mind as to what precisely has occurred. First of all, we have had no denial of the fact that Mrs Hoffmann was working in the Japanese Embassy and that she was reporting to the Government, even though that allegation has been made freely throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Secondly, I am completely dissatisfied with the explanation that has been given by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) about the circumstances surrounding the departure of Mr Hoffmann from the Commonwealth Public Service. I asked a question about this matter today and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) indicated to me that it would be dealt with in answers to other questions. I have great confidence in the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would never attribute any lack of veracity to him. But I am afraid that so far I have not been able to discover where my question was answered. I asked whether, if the gentleman concerned, Mr Hoffmann, did in fact resign from the Commonwealth Public Service and was not dismissed, how it comes about that in the Commonwealth Gazette’, which I understand was supposed to give a correct and full record of movements inside the Commonwealth Public Service, there still stands an entry which shows him as having been dismissed, even though we are informed that he has resigned. I would like to know why it is that no correction has appeared in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ showing that Mr Hoffmann was not dismissed from the service but that in fact he resigned.
I have already spoken at some length on Mr Hoffmann, but I am very concerned as to why the Minister for Customs and Excise was in a state of complete puzzlement, bewilderment and ignorance when the subject of Mrs Hoffmann was first raised in this chamber. It is not only in recent days that the Press has said something about this matter. As long ago as November in the publication ‘Incentive’ there appeared an allegation relating to all these matters. ] attempted to have the relevant article incorporated in Hansard on Thursday afternoon, but this was not done. It has been incorporated today by Senator O’Byrne. The publication contained the allegation that a woman bad been employed in a foreign embassy, that she had been employed by ASIO, and that there had been some trouble and so on regarding her husband. lt seems to me rather odd that the Minister for Customs and Excise did not know about this, because the publication Incentive’ on the whole is a very well informed journal concerning certain aspects of Government activity. It was the journal Incentive’, for example, which was able to obtain the minutes of the Federal Planning Committee of the Liberal Party and, it may be recalled, was able to publish them in considerable detail.
– They must have had a girl planted in their office as well.
– I heard Senator Little’s witticism. I will laugh about it later. The minutes of the Planning Committee of the Liberal Party fell into the hands of ‘Incentive.’ I think it is also interesting to note that assisting Mr Maxwell Newton, who is or has been a very close associate of the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon), is Mr Peter Kelly the former secretary to the Treasurer. As I understand it, he is now responsible for the publication of ‘Incentive’ so one can only assume that if information like this was being published in ‘Incentive’ it was coming from a very good source. It was being published in a journal whose proprietor is a close friend of the Federal Treasurer and under, as I understand it, the de facto editorship of the man who, until very recently, was the secretary of the Treasurer. As I understand it, he is the only journalist in Australia, and the only person who was not a member of the Committee, able to obtain the minutes of the Planning Committee of the Liberal Party. This is rather an interesting combination of people, Mr Maxwell Newton and Mr Peter Kelly, the former secretary of the Treasurer who, during the time when all these proceedings would have been taking place was in fact the secretary of the Treasurer.
I should have imagined that if there had been a totally false statement appearing in Incentive’ at this time it would have been very easy for Mr McMahon to get on the phone, ring up Peter and say: ‘Look, Peter, you have made a terrible blunder. Nothing like this happened. I hope you will print a correction.’ And Peter would have said: ‘Certainly, Bill. In the past we have been able to get these minutes of the Planning Committee of the Liberal Party. We do not want to cruel our pitch with you. We will certainly see that there is a corerction.’ Not only has there been no correction but in fact in the issue of Incentive’ dated 3rd March the allegations are repeated and are added to. It is rather interesting - and I think this is a matter of considerable importance - that these are the closing words in the article:
Japanese Have Known about Hoffmann Situation for Months
The news of the Hoffmann problem has not come as a surprise to the Japanese Embassy. The Japanese Government was informed about the allegations made by Mi’s Hoffmann at the time her letter to the Prime Minister began to circulate in Canberra, lt was quickly ascertained that Mrs Hoffmann had indeed been working for the Japanese Embassy. This established al least the prima facie veracity of her allegations made in her letter 10 Mr Gorton.
Honourable senators may ask: ‘ls this again speculation?’ But I would like to remind the Government that it is only a few months since the Deputy Prime Minister of this country, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) under whose broad authority the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) himself operates and the Leader of the Australian Country Party, said that Mr Maxwell Newton, the proprietor of ‘Incentive’, was a Japanese agent. If Mr Newton is a Japanese agent then who indeed would be better able to tell us what in fact is concerning the Japanese Government and the Japanese Embassy. So 1 think that the Government will have to make a choice, and I think that members of the Country Party will have to make a choice. If Mx Newton is a Japanese agent I think one can probably accept that he could speak with considerable authority on the information which is possessed by the Japanese Government and the Japanese Embassy. If he is not a Japanese agent then the Deputy Prime Minister of this country was guilty of a gross slander against an innocent person when he was speaking in the House of Representatives.
– 1 rise to address myself to this subject because of the charges made by Government supporters of the insincerity of the Opposition. Opposition senators are completely sincere and are entitled to raise the issues that have been raised. It is useless for Government supporters to draw red herrings across the trail and refer to inside workings of the Australian Labor Party. They themselves are far from being free of such conflict. We have recollections of the effects created when one of their number refused to work with another if he were elected Prime Minister of this country.
What are the facts associated with what may be termed the Hoffmann case? The first fact is that a newspaper circulated in at least four States of the Commonwealth carried some serious charges of neglect by the Government. The reports carried such serious allegations as these: (a) that an Australian woman working in a friendly embassy copied material and provided the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation with that material; (b) that this woman threatened that unless her husband was treated more sympathetically by the Government she would ventilate all the episodes associated with her disloyalty to her employer; (c) that ASIO intervened on her behalf to satisfy her demands.
In relation to the first fact that I have mentioned, surely the Government should be conscious of its responsibility to the
Australian people and indeed to itself and should, if a widely circulated publication makes serious charges against the administration of the Government, answer them immediately. The Government took no action whatsoever to endeavour to nail what it may regard now as lying statements. It was therefore the responsibility of the Opposition to raise the matter in the Parliament and to determine whether the statements were accurate or otherwise. The intention of the Opposition was to test the accuracy of the statements and to see where the Government stood on the whole question. If the Government were guilty of some of the charges levelled at it, I would suggest that its’ actions were most reprehensible. If, on the other hand, it could prove that its hands were clean it would be to the advantage of the democratic institution of Parliament for the matter to be raised. With respect 1 would suggest that many episodes have not been traversed yet: the facts will come out eventually.
Was the report factual? .Apparently the Government thought there was some basis of fact in the report because only last weekend the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) met until the early hours of one morning sifting out what the replies would be to the questions asked by the Opposition. If there were no basis for the newspaper reports, why did not the Government deny the reports immediately? It did not do so. Therefore, the Government left itself open at least to a charge of compacency, to say the very least. I come now to the matter of the questions asked by the Opposition. I believe that all will agree that the Minister for Customs and Excise was evasive in attempting to answer the questions asked by honourable senators on this side of the chamber. Being charitable to him, the Minister quite frequently said: ‘Put the question on notice’, when he should have had sufficient knowledge of the case to be able to answer 50% of the questions that we addressed to him.
I turn now to the intervention by ASIO to have the penalty imposed on Mr Hoffmann reduced. Why would not the Opposition ask questions concerning that allegation? I do not know about anybody else in this chamber, but I am not yet satisfied that there was no intervention. One would have to be a child by nature to believe that the answers that have been supplied up to date would clear up that allegation. The situation is that a man was found guilty of altering government documents. He appealed against his dismissal. The appeal board rejected his appeal and said that he was to be dismissed. Yet the day before the dismissal was to take place he was allowed to resign. What is the penalty on Hoffmann for altering or falsifying government documents? It is absolutely nil.
It may be said that many union officials make representations to employers in similar cases. I agree entirely. A union official would not be worth his salt if he did not try to do something of that nature. But I defy anybody to say that a union official would be able to have a dismissal notice withdrawn after an appeal board had heard the basis of the complaint and then get the employer to allow the person to resign.
– I have got a worker a week’s pay in lieu of notice.
– That is quite common. The honourable senator is not like Robinson Crusoe when he talks of such oases. The fact remains that this case involves a government instrumentality. The situation is - this cannot be denied - that Hoffmann was falsifying government documents. He was dismissed. He appealed against the dismissal. The appeal was rejected. Then he was allowed to resign one day before his dismissal was to take effect.
My knowledge of government departments is such - I believe that on a trade union basis it would be over as long a period as that of anybody else in this chamber - that I suggest that no government would allow such a state of affairs to exist. Therefore are not we entitled to place on the matter the construction that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation did make representations on behalf of Hoffmann? If it did not, then the Government has not adequately explained why he was allowed to go scot-free although he was found to be falsifying documents.
Why should not we ask questions concerning this matter with reference to the future? Let us assume for one moment that the allegation that ASIO made represen tations is correct. What does the future hold for public servants in a situation in which, say, three people have applied for a job, and one of them is a security agent in the employ of the government and the other two are superior workers? We know who will get the job in those circumstances. I suggest that it is most unfair and that this matter should be ventilated further.
– Does the honourable senator think that the regulation giving the opportunity to resign should be withdrawn?
– No, I do not say that it should be withdrawn. I suggest that neither the Government nor the Public Service Board would allow an employee to put in his resignation if he had been dismissed for falsifying government documents. One would have to be a child by nature to believe that a government would approve of such a procedure. I most certainly would not do so.
– Has a government the right to approve or disapprove of what a public service board does?
– Yes, it has. I suggest that all the circumstances surrounding the newspaper report and the silence of the Government on the issues that have been raised justify entirely the action of the Opposition in raising this matter in the Senate so that it may be cleared up to the advantage of the Parliament and of Australia generally.
– I intercede very briefly in this debate to remind the Senate that this matter was debated for some 2 hours last Wednesday evening. Nothing that has been said this evening by the Opposition has added in any way to the accusations that were made last Wednesday. It is well known, and this was mentioned in reply to a question today, that it has not been the practice - and it is not intended to depart from the practice which has been followed by successive Prime Ministers since Mr Chifley - to discuss questions associated with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. There has been a definite assault upon that organisation by certain members of the Opposition. It has been an assault which has been calculated to denigrate that organisation. Indeed, it is significant that in the main the honourable senators who have spoken tonight were those who spoke last Wednesday night.
I make only one other comment. Senator Milliner - andI do not single him out purposely - referred to being charitable. As a simple sort of person I wonder at the suggestion of charitability when I have listened for almost a week now to speeches about a man who fell by the wayside and who made an error. The nature of the debate that has proceeded for almost week now is such that that man is going to be crucified for all time. Honourable senators opposite have that on their conscience, and I hope that they remember it.
– Despite the lateness of the hour I want to raise three matters concerning the Department of Immigration. Firstly, I want to deal with the existing interpreting facilities that operate in the various baby health centres in New South Wales that are adjacent to migrant hostels. To substantiate these points and to guide the Minister when he peruses my submission, with the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a letter from the New South Wales Minister for Health, MrJago. 52 Bridge Street,
Sydney, N.S.W. 2000 27 February 1.969
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
I refer to the representations made by you to my colleague, the Hon. F. M. Hewitt, M.L.C., Minister for Child and Social Welfare regarding the staffing of Baby Health Centres providing service to Commonwealth Migrant Hostels in New South Wales.
The following Hostels have Baby Health Centre services within the hostel and are staffed by Sisters from adjacent Baby Health Centres.
Bunnerong: British migrants -
No language problems.
Cabramafta: 50% British - 50% European -
Sister speaks limited French. Migrants usually attend with someone able to interpret. Hostel staff help out at times.
Dandas: British migrants -
No language problems.
East Hills: Predominantly British -
Sister speaks only English. Has had little difficulty with foreign language migrants. Matraville: All European -
Sister speaks only English. Hostel staff help when necessary.
Villawood: European migrants -
Sister speaks German, French and limited Italian. She manages well with most of the migrants but experiences difficulty with Turks.
She gives an extensive service and is allowed extra time at the Centre to meet the needs of the migrants.
Bradfield Park and Broughron:
Neither has a Baby Health Centre within the Hostel. The mothers from Bradfield Park attend Lindfield Baby Health Centre and those from B rough ton attend the Burwood Baby Health Centre. The migrants at these two Hostels are generally British.
Baby Health Centre Sisters are not required to be bilingual. They do, however, make every effort to be of help to foreign speaking migrants both in the migrant Hostels and in the Centres generally.
In a number of suburbs there are large foreign communities with concentrations of particular National groups. The Sisters in these areas use dictionaries and other interpretations.
This is not always satisfactory because of regional dialects, and illiteracy in the migrant’s own language. Many migrants bring their own interpreters. When an interpreter is not available and difficulty arises, the Commonwealth Bank Migrant Service interpreters are contacted by phone and direct interpretation is conducted in this way.
The Sisters also find that the husbands are able to understand the printed word so much work is done by an exchange of printed notes. This is time consuming but satisfactory..
Every effort is made to assist the migrants to become aware of the health services in this State, and by establishing the Centres within the Hostels, the Baby Health Centre service’ is available with a minimum of inconvenience to the mothers within the Hostels
Minister for Health.
Senator J. A. Mulvihill,
Commonwealth Parliament Offices, . 5 Martin Place,
This letter indicates that in the hostels at Matraville and Villawood there is a limitation on the interpreting facilities available for women with young children who are seeking, at times, a clear cut diagnosis of ailments from which their children are suffering.I do not say that in an empty fashion. In January I, together with competent interpreters, visited both Villawood and Matraville hostels. Mr Lawson, the senior officer of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd who accompanied us, was extremely co-operative. He made no attempt to hide anything. With competent interpreters, I was able to ascertain that certain problems were due to a lack of communication. In fairness to Commonwealth Hostels I should say that the night I was at Matraville some criticism was voiced, through an interpreter, to me. My interpreter does not mind being named. He was Mr John Tomazic. The residents mentioned to him that certain sandwich fillings did not meet their requirements. Immediately an order was given that the menu be changed that night. At Villawood I had Mr Silvester Bizjak with me. Constructive criticisms were made there. I thought that Commonwealth Hostels Ltd was reasonably sympathetic. But baby health centres are primarily a State matter and that is the reason why Mr Jago wrote to me. I hope that honourable senators will peruse that reply in tomorrow’s Hansard. I feel that we could do better.
I suggest to the Department that the time is opportune for a greater influx of what one might call a ‘core of interpreters’ rather than, as is mentioned in the letter written by Mr Jago, have somebody from the clerical or kitchen staff to fill in for interpreting. I do not think that is sufficient because in a mixed function one cannot always find the person one wants immediately. I do not content myself by saying that I think that the interpreting facilities in baby health centres and in hospitals generally should be jazzed up. I believe that the facilities should extend beyond that, even to the recruitment of interpreters for overseas postings. We could utilise to a greater degree post-war migrants who have a higher concept of Australian conditions. Two or 3 weeks ago a group of people were passing through the usual Public Service Board introductory courses. I know of one applicant who had five languages at her fingertips. When she was asked which department she would like to join she replied: The Department of Immigration.’ She was told that she was not needed there but that she could have the choice of the Department of Repatriation, the Department of National Development or two or three other departments. The time is overdue for a good hard look at the comments I have made, buttressed by the reply of the New South Wales Minister for Health, Dr Jago.
I do not intend to enter into the realms of a demarcation dispute between the State and Federal governments, but when we considered the estimates for the Department of Immigration we had to change our overall ideas on the various types of hostels. I know that in New South Wales, Villawood was regarded as one of our inferior hostels. This was when the new hostel was built at Randwick. Vast improvements have been made and I am quite happy about them. I know that Senator Poyser, who did similar research in Victoria, would agree. I think reforms are overdue, particularly in view of the fact that competent linguists could have been obtained by the Public Service Board for the Department of Immigration, but were shunted into other departments.
The second matter with which I want to deal concerns the role of the Commonwealth Government in assisting municipal councils with the cost of naturalisation ceremonies. I refer to an answer that the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who represents the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), gave to me on 5th November when discussing immigration expenditure in the Estimates. At page 1663 of Hansard she pointed out to me:
Under the existing arrangements some assistance is given to local government authorities. For example, if expenditure is incurred on the hiring of a hall, this is met by the Department of Immigration.
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a letter from the Town Clerk of the Council of the City of Parramatta.
I refer to your letter of 3rd January, 1969, concerning greater Commonwealth Government assistance in the conduct of citizenship ceremonies, and wish to advise that representations were made to the Commonwealth Director of Migration, Department of Immigration, for reimbursement of an amount of $110.38 for postage stamps used on invitations sent to candidates.
I enclose copy of a letter received from the Department of Immigration, advising that under the circumstances, the Department cannot reimburse the Council for the amount claimed.
With the concurrence of honourable senators I also incorporate in Hansard a letter from the Department of Immigration to the Parramatta City Council outlining a certain point in dispute.
Your ref. 4587/G/174 ESJ/MS.
I note from your letter of 7th February, 1969, that you are inquiring whether this Department will reimburse your Council for the cost of postage associated with Naturalisation Ceremonies.
Where, due to the inadequacy of Council buildings, the Council is required to hire other premises in which to conduct Naturalisation Ceremonies, this Department would reimburse the Council for the cost of the hire of the hall. This is the only circumstances under which any direct payment is made to Councils towards the cost of Naturalisation Ceremonies.
This Department, however, Ls prepared to assist the Councils by undertaking the clerical work directly associated with Ceremonies. This would include the preparation and dispatch of letters of invitation to candidates and the completion of that portion of the Certificate of Naturalisation which Council officers have completed in the past.
Under the circumstances you will appreciate that this Department cannot reimburse your Council for the amount of SI 10.38.
The dispute is a simple one about procedure. No doubt Senator McManus would appreciate that naturalisation ceremonies in the outer suburbs of Melbourne encompass quite a lot of people, as they do in Parramatta, Prospect, Werriwa and other electorates. 1 mention the electorates so that honourable senators will appreciate the geography in the various States. The Council has suggested that it spent $110.38 on postage stamps to send invitations to people participating in a naturalisation ceremony, but when it sought reimbursement, from the Commonwealth Government, the Commonwealth said in effect that it would not give the Council stamps but was prepared to do the clerical work.
Candidly, this seems to me to be an unwieldly system. Obviously the Commonwealth department would be subject to audit control that would ensure that the stamps were used effectively, but I am sure that it would cause more inconvenience than simply handing the stamps to a council. It would be easy to verify that the stamps had been used to send invitations to migrants. I repeat that during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Immigration the Minister spoke about the cost of the halls that were used for these ceremonies. However, most of the halls are in civic centres and are part of the council complex, so I do not think any real saving could be effected there. On the other hand, reimbursement of the cost of postage in the way I have suggested would be of material help to the councils.
I want to deal now with another aspect of immigration which has an interstate character. I refer to the Bonegilla migrant centre, which I know is one of the older centres. We all pay lip service to decentral isation, and I have had overtures from people in Albury who are concerned about the possibility that the use of Bonegilla, in the overall immigration programme, might taper off. My colleague, Senator Poyser, and I more than 12 months ago spearheaded the agitation for a new kind of migrant hostel. However, I feel that some move should be made to retain Bonegilla, but not in any inferior condition. While we applaud the construction of a new hostel at Randwick, the improvement at Villawood and the improvements in other States, we believe that the Bonegilla hostel should be retained. Obviously, many migrants who come from the metropolitan centres of Europe would fit into city hostels. However, rural workers in the first 5 or 6 weeks they are in Australia would probably find the atmosphere at Bonegilla more suitable. Some of the migrants go to the fruit growing districts in Victoria, and Bonegilla would be a suitable staging camp for them.
For these reasons I make an appeal for Bonegilla to be retained. There seems to be a lot of misapprehension about the future of this migrant centre, and the Minister may be able to tell me what its future is. Last year in reply to a question 1 asked I was given a list of the hostels in New South Wales. I asked across the table, not necessarily addressing my question to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin: ‘What happened to the Wallgrove camp?’ I. was told that apparently the Department of Immigration, through the Department of the Interior, had surrendered it to some other body. I heard rumours in Sydney last week that, with the extension of the immigration programme, the Department is interested in regaining Wallgrove. If it is seeking to regain Wallgrove, which would certainly be run down, there is an obvious case for the retention of Bonegilla. At this time when we try to encourage decentralisation, I know that the people of Albury and the people across the border in Victoria would appreciate the Bonegilla camp being retained. 1 have discussed this matter with Senator Poyser and he agrees with me that there is a case for Bonegilla to be retained. This does not mean that the camp should be allowed to deteriorate. We believe that certain renovations are necessary and should be made.
[12.4 a.m.] - Before answering Senator Mulvihill, I would like to reply on behalf of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to Senator Keeffe, who raised a matter in a question and during the adjournment debate last Thursday. I assured him that I would get an answer for him. He spoke in connection with a letter he had written to the Bulgarian Embassy. The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer:
The correct portal procedure in Canberra is that any mail addressed to an Embassy which does not have representation in Canberra and for which no forwarding instructions are held should be endorsed ‘No representative in Australia’; the letter is then either relumed to sender if known, or forwarded to the Dead Letter Office in Sydney. On the other hand, if a forwarding address is held, the letter should be redirected. Some 30 to 40 letters are dealt with in this way each day at Canberra.
If this procedure had been strictly followed Senator Keeffe’s letter would have been redirected to the Consul-General for Bulgaria at a Sydney address. But over the years, in order to be helpful, a local practice has developed in Canberra of seeking the assistance of the Protocol Section of External Affairs Department in providing forwarding addresses for letters of this kind. Approximately one letter per day on the average has been involved. This practice should not have developed and will cease forthwith.
Equally the External Affairs Department, in endeavouring to be helpful, has on occasions opened such mail to advise correspondents of the correct address.
That this practice has developed is regretted. As I have mentioned, it has been stopped.
The Postmaster-General apologises to Senator Keeffe for any delay and inconvenience which has obtained in the instance to which he has drawn his attention.
Now I would like to turn to Senator Mulvihill, who spoke on matters concerning immigration. The first point he raised was the problem of language in baby health centres where the parents of children were unable to speak our language. He also spoke of the difficulty of having interpreters to assist them when they brought their children to the centres. I have not yet seen the letter that Senator Mulvihill has had incorporated in Hansard. I shall look at it and I shall place the matters he has raised concerning this point before the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden).
Senator Mulvihill also spoke about the closing of Bonegilla Centre. I remember his interest in this matter last year. I can tell him that it is the intention of the Department of Immigration to close Bonegilla Centre as soon as practicable, but no definite date has been fixed. The latest trends in migration from Europe may mean that the Centre will be retained for the time being. I think that the honourable senator will also be interested to know that, looking at the situation here and looking to the future, senior officers of the Department of Immigration, my own Department of Housing and the Department of Labour and National Service visited Albury on 2nd December 1968 to assess the need for some alternative form of transitory accommodation for migrants in the AlburyWodonga area. During the visit they had discussions with civic leaders, other interested persons and officers of the State departments. The question of whether migrant flats, such as we have in Sydney, Melbourne and other areas, or some other form of transitory accommodation for migrants should be provided when the Bonegilla Centre closes has not yet been decided. This matter is certainly under consideration.
Senator Mulvihill also spoke about nationalisation ceremonies. 1 recall well when he brought this up in the debate on the Estimates, and 1 recall also that I replied to him along the lines that he has indicated tonight. He has had leave to incorporate in Hansard some correspondence concerning this, which I shall be pleased to read and also draw to the attention of the Minister concerned. In answering a few of the points he raised, I remind the Senate that in 1954 local government authorities throughout Australia readily accepted responsibility for the conferring of Australian citizenship at civic ceremonies presided over by the mayor or shire president. From the outset the Commonwealth has made it quite clear that it cannot accept financial responsibility for the ceremonies which are so appropriately a function of local governments.
Senator Mulvihill also raised a point concerning the hiring of buildings in which these ceremonies are held. Where council buildings are inadequate for ceremonies - and I agree that they are mostly used - the Department of Immigration reimburses the council for the cost of hiring suitable premises. The main costs that are associated with these ceremonies are, of course, wages and staff; postage, which the Senator mentioned; supper, which is usually supplied by the local authority or some other body; the cost of bibles which some councils present to candidates; and, of course, the Certificates of Australian Citizenship which are provided free of cost. The certificate is the best memento of the occasion for the citizen.
While not able to offer any direct financial assistance towards the conduct of ceremonies, the Department of Immigration has offered to assist councils by undertaking much of the administrative and clerical work associated with ceremonies. This would include the preparation and despatch of letters and invitations to ceremonies and the completion of the Certificate of Citizenship to the stage where only the Mayor’s signature is required. Departmental officers also attend ceremonies in the metropolitan areas and the larger country centres and are available to assist council officers in the seating of candidates. While all councils in the Melbourne metropolitan area have accepted the offer of assistance by the Department of Immigration only a small number have done so in Sydney. The city of Wollongong, which conducts regular ceremonies for large numbers of candidates, has accepted the offer of assistance by the Department of Immigration.
These are the areas in which assistance is offered. I appreciate the points raised by Senator Mulvihill. I understand that he wishes an extension of these offers. I shall place’ all the points raised by the honourable senator before the Minister for Immigration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.17 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690304_senate_26_s40/>.