26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMallin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - 1 wish to inform the Senate that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has announced today that it is the intention to hold the general election for the House of Representatives on Saturday, 25th October this year, and to dissolve the House of Representatives as at noon on 29th September 1969. The date proposed for the issue of writs is 29th September 1969 and for the close of nominations 7th October 1969.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell the Senate how long it is since there has been an election in October? Is it not obvious that the Government is in a panic to have this election before it becomes clear to every elector, as it is already clear to the wheat farmers, that the Government has no solution whatever to the problem of the wheat grower?
– That, of course, is a magnificent election question. As to the first part of the question, in which the honourable senator asked whether I could remember when we last had an election in October, my memory does not take me to that point. However, 1 might say that whenever we have the election the result will be an overwhelming victory for the Government.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen the statement in a Sydney newspaper of yesterday that following the raid on Mr Don Lane’s flat the flat was left in a shambles? Can the Minister explain why it was necessary to make such a very thorough search?
– I did read the article referred to by the honourable senator. I think the best answer that I can give is to quote from a letter which I received this morning from Mr Lane’s solicitor and which was addressed to the Collector of Customs in Sydney. It reads as follows:
As you are probably aware, I act for Mr Morton Donald Isaacson, known professionally as Don Lane. My client’s attention has been drawn to certain headlines and an article appearing in the early editions of today’s ‘Daily Mirror’ suggesting that after the police and Customs officers had been in attendance at his flat yesterday they left the flat ‘in a shambles’. I am instructed to advise you that this statement was not made by my client or his manager, Mr David Toben, as the ‘Mirror’ reported. As soon as the matter was drawn to our attention Mr Lane’s counsel, Mr Einfeld, and I immediately took steps to ensure that these references were removed from later editions and at the time of writing this letter we are hopeful that our earnest representation will be successful.
My client regrets that these references should have appeared at all and wishes to place on record that he did not take and has not taken any exception to the treatment of him and his property by Mr Harvey Bates and those who accompanied him yesterday. Insofar as these publications might have caused offence to you or to your officers I am instructed to point out that my client is in no way responsible for them and sincerely regrets their publication.
I would like to confirm that there is no evidence that prohibited imports were discovered in Mr Lane’s flat and, consequently, no charge under the Customs Act will be laid against him. I have noted, however, that a woman who was present in the flat has been charged by the police with certain offences under the New South Wales Poisons Act.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister aware that the granting of licences to drill for oil on the Great Barrier Reef area off Queensland is imminent? Will the Minister inform the Parliament whether he is prepared to take the necessary action under existing Commonwealth-State legislation to ban the drilling until such time as an assurance can be given to Queenslanders that the Great Barrier Reef will not be damaged by the drilling activities generally or by an oil well blowout?
– I am advised that the Queensland Government more or less has given approval to this proposition. No doubt the matter will receive consideration by the Minister for National Development and the
Government. When it receives that consideration, no doubt the Minister will be making a statement.
– My question, with respect, Mr President, is directed to you. 1 ask you: Can you tell me under what standing order or under what power of the Senate can any honourable senator be recognised as or claim to be the leader of a political party? What are the necessary qualifications to have one’s name listed in the Hansard proof as the leader of a party, as appears in the Hansard of yesterday’s date? I wish to quote from that issue. Under the heading ‘Members of the Senate’ your august name is the first one to appear. A list follows. It gives the Leader of the Opposition as Senator Murphy and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as Senator Cohen. Then it refers to the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, Senator Gair, and the Deputy Leader Australian Democratic Labor Party, Senator McManus. Then, it continues:
Leader of the Australia Party - Senator Reginald John David Turnbull.
I ask you: Is the claim of leadership based on votes obtained at an election? If it is, what is the quota of votes necessary to be leader of a political party? Might I claim to be the leader of the Calathumpian Party of Australia and if I lodged that claim would I have my name recorded for posterity in Hansard as the leader of the Calathumpian Party?
– No standing order requires anyone to announce himself as the leader of a political party. It is within the right of a senator I suppose - I see no reason why a senator should not do it and if a senator did so I would not like to be discourteous to that senator and deny the right to him - to stand up and to announce that he was the leader of a political party. What flows from that announcement has nothing to do with me or with the Senate Department. But it is an acknowledgment that a senator has said that he is the leader of a party; otherwise we have nothing further to do with it.
– I rise to a point of order. In relation to a statement made by the Minister for Customs and Excise, I require under Standing Order 363 that the Minister table the document from which he quoted in relation to Mr Don Lane.
– It is too late for that, senator.
(Senator Hendrickson proceeding to address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate)-
– Order! The question is out of order.
– Why is the question out of order, Mr President?
– It is out of order, as I told you at the very beginning of your question, because you were unparliamentary, or very close to it, in referring to a senator’s religion, but then you continued with the question in the same way.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of rising public concern about the use of highly flammable materials in children’s night attire, will the Government join with the State Ministers of Labour and Industry in initiating moves either to ban the importation of these materials; make compulsory some treatment to reduce their flammability; or if sufficient information is not available on the subject, set up some form of inquiry to probe the situation fully and suggest ways and means of stopping the use of these dangerous materials that are endangering the precious lives of children?
– The Government is concerned with the flammability of clothing. I recall that in the customs law there is a requirement in relation to importations, and I am aware that the Standards Association of Australia issued a code of safe design practice only about a week ago. State governments are to publish this code for supply to manufacturers and consumer groups. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has been co-operating with the Standards Association in research into the flammability of clothing material to enable realistic standards to be established. When the standards are established the Government will, in co-operation with the States, take all appropriate action to ensure that they are implemented.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Was the contract for F1 1 1 A aircraft on a government to government basis, or have contracts been signed by the Australian Government with any corporation in the United States of America for supply of the whole or part of the F111A order? If any contracts were signed with a corporation, in which State were they signed? What are the laws in that State concerning definable standards of the goods to be delivered?
– The honourable senator has asked three questions. It is my understanding that the contract is on a government to government basis. That being so. answers are not required to his second and third questions.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether Mr Fairhall’s proposed retirement is in any way related to differences of opinion amongst Government members in respect of the change in attitude by the Government towards the Soviet Union.
– The Minister for Defence, and indeed the Prime Minister, have both made statements in which it has been made abundantly clear that Mr Fairhall does not propose to seek reelection, because of the condition of his health. I ask all honourable senators to accept the statement made by the Minister for Defence without challenge in any way because we all reach the point in time when we must consider our health. No-one would deny the heavy and arduous responsibilities which are placed on senators and members of Parliament, let alone Ministers of State. I would say that the decent thing would be to accept the statement on the basis on which it was made.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Has the Commonwealth Government received a report by the Queensland Government on the proposed Burnett-Kolan irrigation scheme? If so, when does the Common wealth Government expect to have its investigation into the scheme completed so that an early decision can be made?
– The honourable senator will well know that the Commonwealth Government is particularly interested in the conservation of water throughout Australia. In the last few years it has announced the carrying out of projects costing in excess of $1 00m. One of those is the Nogoa scheme in Queensland. The answer to the honourable senator’s question is that the Commonwealth Government has received a report. The matter is under consideration, but no indication can be given at this stage of what action the Government will take or when it will be taken.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. In view of the worsening domestic situation in the Zarb family as indicated in today’s edition of the Melbourne ‘Age’, a situation which has brought great grief and suffering to innocent people in the Zarb family because of a strong conscientious belief held by one member of the family, will the Minister inform the Senate whether it can expect an early announcement relating to an appeal made to the Attorney-General on compassionate grounds for the release of conscientious objector Mr John Zarb?
– The answer to the question is yes.
– I refer to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development question No. 901 which I placed on notice on 27th February this year.It is as follows:
– Order! Senator Webster, do you propose to ask a question or are you merely reading a question you have asked already?
– I am asking a question of the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. If I may proceed-
– You cannot ask a question that is already on the notice paper.
– 1 am asking a question of the Minister representing the Minister for National Development and the text of this question relates to the answer I am seeking. If I may proceed - there are only a few more points-
– I cannot distinguish the difference, but J am prepared to let you proceed for the present.
– In view of the very important aspects of this matter, and in view of the fact that on the first day of this sessional period I asked the Minister whether he would please obtain an answer to a question I raised on 27th February - a question which I would wish to repeat to him so that he may be able to give me a proper answer - can he now demonstrate why the Government is unable to answer it?
– The honourable senator has a question on this matter on the notice paper. It is dated 27th February, as he mentioned. I have received advice from the Minister for National Development that in fact that question will be answered very shortly.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise or, if he is not responsible for this matter, to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. Is it a fact that the film The Comedians’ has been banned in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Has the censor no reason to offer for the imposition of the ban other than that attributed to him by Press reports, namely, that the film is undesirable and not in the public’s interest? Can the Minister tell the Senate why this film is alleged to be undesirable and not in the public’s interest? Is it not a fact that this film has been shown in most countries of the world and has received high praise from reputable critics?
– I gained the impression from the honourable senator’s question that this film was banned in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. If that is so, 1 wish to advise the honourable senator that the Department of Customs and Excise, the Film Censorship Board and the Literature Censorship Board have no jurisdiction in that Territory.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that a large and modern export abattoir near Hobart was forced to close last Friday and that one of the principal reasons stated by the management was the difficulty experienced by Tasmanian and other southern States exporters in obtaining entitlement under the United States market diversification scheme introduced last November? Are such difficulties being experienced by other exporters in the southern States? If so, does this indicate a need to seek a reconsideration of the provisions of the scheme? Is the Minister aware that the uncertainty hanging over the Tasmanian container trade has created a further problem for the Tasmanian meat exporters? Will the Minister take all possible steps to see that the question of the future of the Tasmanian and other outlying ports container freight rates is clarified as soon as possible?
– This is a very important question and is on a very wide canvas. In the circumstances, I think it should be put on the notice paper to enable the Minister for Trade and Industry to give a considered reply, in depth, to the various aspects of it.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence or the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. I am not sure who is the appropriate Minister, ls any relief available to a family of three sons, all of whom have been selected in national service ballots, one of whom is now in Vietnam, the second of whom is about to go to Vietnam and the third of whom has just recently been selected in a ballot?
– The subject of the honourable senator’s question comes within the responsibility of the Minister for Labour and National Service whom I represent in this chamber. My answer to the question is that the selection from those young men whose birthdays come within the half year in question is made purely by ballot and does not take into account whether there are two or three members of the same family in successive call-ups. It is a matter of understandable hardship for the families concerned but national service is an individual obligation. If, of course, (here were compassionate grounds of sufficient gravity, that would be a matter for further consideration.
– 1 ask the
Leader of the Government whether the Government is going to take any action in regard to the caustic criticism by the Auditor-General, whose report was tabled yesterday in the Parliament, of Government departments? Is any disciplinary action to be taken against the Department of the Navy or the Minister for the Navy - the Department which received the greatest condemnation from the Auditor-General?
– When the Auditor-General presents his report and there are matters in it relating to a department, the report immediately becomes the subject of examination by the department. Quite properly, within the department a close examination would be made of the comments. There are, of course, several procedures available to the Parliament in relation to the matter. During a Budget session the Parliament deals with the estimates of the various departments individually. It is open to any honourable senator, if he so desires, to make certain observations at that time. I know that during the Estimates debate attention is directed to observations made in the Auditor-General’s report and further information is sought.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Interior. By way of preface I refer to the fact that 8 months ago, in company with officers of the Department of the Interior, I inspected regions of the Australian Capital Territory which have national park possibilities. My question is: Have events moved any further towards a decision on the question of declaring the Mount Kelly region of the Australian Capital Territory a national park, with ample provision for wilderness areas? Is such a decision related to the declaration of additional catchment areas to increase the Australian Capital Territory water supply system?
– The honourable senator has been very conscious of the need for parks and reserves in the Australian Capital Territory. Together with other honourable senators he has shown a very keen interest in the Territory. He will be aware that the Department of the Interior sought the views of community interests, organisations and learned societies in Canberra on the proposal of the National Parks Association of the ACT that such a national park should be established in the Mount Kelly area. By May this year most of the organisations had commented on the proposal. They were invited to send representatives to participate in a tour of the area and to take part in a discussion, involving all concerned, about suitable development and after management.
A frank and useful exchange of views took place between the departmental officers and the invited organisations at the Tidbinbilla nature reserve on 30th May. Representatives of the Press, radio and television were invited to the discussions, which were reported in detail. Since the subsequent analysis is now nearing completion, regard has been paid to the fact that the Naas and Gudgenby Rivers almost certainly will bc required in the future as a source of domestic water supply for Canberra. It is expected that an announcement on this proposal will be made in the not too distant future.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General seen an article in today’s Brisbane Press referring to an alleged mix-up in the issue of new telephone numbers to some 6,000 subscribers in that city? Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether steps are usually taken to ensure that calls are intercepted and diverted to the new numbers pending completion of delivery of the new telephone directories?
– I shall take up this matter with the PostmasterGeneral and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate when the much publicised Government plan to rationalise the Australian dairy industry will be implemented? If plans are not completed as yet, can he advise the Senate in some detail of the reasons for this delay?
– As the honourable senator would know, the Government hoped that it would have been possible to accomplish this before the end of the session last year. This was not possible. I am not sure what the situation is at the moment. I understand that there are still some areas of difference between New South Wales and the Commonwealth, but I am not sure whether New South Wales is the only State to which these differences apply. I will make further inquiries and let the honourable senator know the result.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When does the Government intend to announce its decision to cancel the Fill contract? Does it intend to wait for a further disintegration of its Ministry before it reveals the facts?
– Obviously the honourable senator is not up with current affairs in this place because yesterday I gave to no less a person than the Leader of the Opposition an answer which explained the current position in relation to the Fill. I suggest that the honourable senator read yesterday’s Hansard.
– I now direct to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories the question which I earlier directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise or to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, ls it a fact that the film ‘The Comedians’ has been banned in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Has the censor no reason to offer for the imposition of the ban other than that attributed to him by Press reports, namely, that the film is undesirable and not in the public’s interest? Can the Minister tell the Senate why this film is alleged to be undesirable and not in the public’s interest? Is it not a fact that this film has been shown in most countries of the world and has received high praise from reputable critics?
– I wish to say, as an excuse for not having full knowledge of the matter, that my attention is not preoccupied with prohibited films. I have no knowledge of the facts suggested by the honourable senator. I shall ascertain the facts and inform him at the earliest convenience.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been drawn to a statement made by the President of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures, Mr F. S. Buckley, in which he said that industry leaders were worried about the increase in foreign investment in Australia? ls it a fact that local finance could be used more widely to expand the economy if industry and government consulted more closely? Is it also a fact that despite Australia’s strong economic expansion in the past financial year the economy needed careful supervision and that the financial policies of the Federal Government have added heavily to costs and prices during the year? Will the Minister consult with the organisations concerned with a view to bringing about a down tura in costs and prices so that recipients of social service benefits will obtain the full value of the increases granted in this year’s Budget?
– The honourable senator has asked a very wide question which moves from foreign investment to costs and prices and to social services. To reply effectively to it would require v/hat would be tantamount almost to a Budget speech. In the circumstances I do not think it appropriate to say more than that clear guidelines with relation to foreign investment are laid down. There is also ample opportunity for industry to express to the Government its views on the economy. In fact, the Government invites industry to express its views from time to time and it is very grateful for the opinions expressed. Such views are invited not only from the heads of industry but also from the trade union movement - from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. So there is provision on the parliamentary scene for views to be expressed in relation to the overall picture of the economy. In those circumstances I do not feel that we can take the honourable senator’s question in isolation and give a satisfactory answer at this stage. I would much prefer to respond to his inquiries if he speaks to the Budget, when he will have ample time to spread his case over all the subjects of his inquiry and we shall have ample time to spread the replies that may be chosen to be given.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister inform the Senate as to the expected yield from the 1969 wheat crop? What proportion of this crop, when reaped, can be stored? What quantity is it anticipated can be sold prior to the 1970 wheat crop becoming available?
– As to the first part of the honourable senator’s question, I do not think that at this point of time anyone can forecast what the present season’s crop is going to yield. Widely varying growing conditions obtain throughout the various States at the moment. For example, Queensland looks like having a very poor crop owing to the drought being experienced there. I understand that this applies also to a large area of Western Australia. I think conditions in South Australia are fairly normal. I believe Victoria is having a fairly normal season. As to New South Wales, owing to the heavy rains experienced, it was not possible to sow a large area of the wheat growing country in the Riverina district. Where wheat was sown in certain other parts of New South Wales there is a danger that rust will develop, again through the heavy rainfall experienced. I do not know what quantity of wheat it is estimated can be sold. This will depend to a large extent on the markets in the countries to which we can sell our wheat. These markets are not easy to forecast at the moment. As to storage, I have seen statistics relating to the number of bushels that it is expected can be stored, but I have not got them in my mind at the moment. I shall obtain them for the honourable senator from the Minister for Primary Industry.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As the Government has spent over $183m to date on the Fill aircraft without yet taking delivery of a single plane-
– What is the question?
– I will come to the question all right. Why has the Government not suspended payment on the aircraft while it wrestles with ils doubts - doubts so serious that it is not yet able to make up its mind?
– The question of payment for the aircraft is clearly one that comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Defence. 1 recall that some time ago I gave to Senator Cohen an answer which stated the amount that had been paid up to that time. As this question contains new implications, I suggest that it be put on notice.
– Does the Minister representing the Attorney-General recall advising me on 16th April last that papers in respect of the short payment of duty on cigarettes had been forwarded by the Department of Customs and Excise to the Attorney-General’s Department on 10th September 1968, that additional papers were forwarded in mid-November 1968 and that as a large number of offences might be involved it might be some time before the examination of the documents relating to the investigation was concluded? Because a period of 11 months has elapsed since the papers were forwarded to the
Attorney-General’s Department and as a very large evasion of duty was involved, will the Minister now ascertain as a matter of urgency whether the examination of the documents has yet been concluded and whether any decision has been taken about any proceedings that can or should be taken?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Treasurer’s attention been drawn to an article published by the management consultant firm Cullen Morton Pty Ltd in its ‘Quarterly Salary Review’, Issue No. 2, which claims that the high taxation on those earning between §5,000 and $12,000 contributes to the increasing salaries being paid to managers, because taxation takes so much of any salary increase that men will not change positions unless the increase in salary they are offered amounts to at least $1,000 to $2,000 a year? Is the Treasurer aware that high taxation on the middle salary ranges is a positive factor contributing to the inflation about which he has warned us so often?
– I do not know whether the Treasurer’s attention has been drawn to the article. 1 shall ask him and if it has I shall refer the remainder of the question to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has any decision been made by the Government as to whether or not it will provide financial assistance to Victoria to enable an underground railway to be constructed in the city of Melbourne? If he is not able to say whether a decision has been made, is he able to say what progress has been made with respect to a determination of the request made by the Victorian Government?
– I recall giving some information to the honourable senator on this matter on a previous occasion. I shall need to seek further information as to what the current position is and let him know.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. Has any approach been made to the Government by private airline operators to provide a subsidiary service for VIP aircraft operations? On how many occasions when requests for the use of VIP aircraft have been made have they had to be refused because no aircraft were available? If requests have been refused, what was the place of embarkation, the destination and the date in each case?
– I have no knowledge with regard to the first question asked by the honourable senator. I ask him to place the remainder of the question on notice.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister for National Development deliberately withholding information on off-shore oil leases in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef? If not, why have I not received answers to my questions on this subject placed on the notice paper on 26th March 1969, 16th April 1969 and 15th May 1969?
– I can assure the honourable senator that the Minister for National Development is not withholding information intentionally from honourable senators either on this side of the Senate or on the Opposition side of the Senate. As I mentioned in answer to a question by Senator Webster, we will do all in our power to get the questions answered as soon as possible. I give a reply to the honourable senator in the same terms.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to statements in the ‘Quarterly Salary Review’ published by the firm of management consultants, Cullen Morton Pty Ltd, which claim there is a serious shortage of trained and talented managers available to industry with the result that salaries in this area are increasing at a much faster rate than salaries in other areas for persons with comparable skills? As trained and talented managers are essential to the efficient conduct of industry, what steps is his Department taking to make up this serious shortage of managers?
– I have not seen the text of the matter read by the honourable senator; but the statement therein contained is in line with many of the views currently held and the actual establishment of utilities for the purpose ofspecific management training and education is actively under consideration at the present time.
– Mr President, mayI be permitted to answer now a question to which I told Senator McClelland I would take the earliest opportunity of obtaining an answer? I did not expect to be able to answer that question within 10 minutes - I meant tomorrow - but through the courtesty of my colleague, Senator Scott,I am able to give the honourable senator this reply: The Auditor-General in paragraph 50 of his 1968 report refers to the fact that the amounts of duty short paid were subject to revision as investgiations then had not been completed. Investigations have been completed and the amounts of duty short paid are assessed now at $809,414 in respect of cigars and$ 1,165,427 in respect of cigarettes. Of this amount for cigars, duty totalling $573,746 had been recovered to 30th June 1969. Since the date of the Auditor-General’s report, a further $235,668 has been recovered. In the case of cigars, writs have been issued already in the High Court and the normal legal processes are taking their course. I am informed that administrative and legal investigations regarding short payments of duty in respect of the cigarettes are almost finalised and the appropriate legal action will be commenced in the near future.
(Question No. 1325)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
(Question No. 1329)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1017)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Minister has, however, recently approved that Maunsell, Voorkees and Co. be appointed as consultants lo plan the town of Port Moresby.
– by leave - The statement 1 am about to read was made in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), lt is as follows:
In 1967-68 we received 137,000 settlers. In 196S-69 we set a programme of 160,000 settlers. The outcome was a record year for immigration. The results far exceed expectations at the beginning of the period. In fact 175,000 settlers arrived, amongst whom were over 80,000 workers. These figures demonstrate the drawing power that the Australian economy and way of life exercise to attract large numbers of settlers in spite of prosperous conditions in migrant source countries. The Government has decided to maintain the momentum, and the Budget brought down this week makes provision for an assisted migration programme in 1969-70 of at least 119,000 assisted settlers, lt is expected that unassisted settlers will bring the total programme to over 175,000. The Budget estimates are based upon firm plans and well supported but prudent forecasts, and the Government will be striving to exceed the programme as it did last year. The target in 1968-69 was 160,000 settlers, including 105,000 assisted migrants. The actual arrival figure of 175,657 exceeded the target by nearly 10%, and the assisted component of it, 1 1 8,469, was almost 13% above the target established in the Budget.
The numerically most important elements in the assisted migration programme included in the Budget are:
The Government is looking to immigration this year for at least as important a contribution to development as it made last year. Immigration is now seen us a major economic vehicle; it is a major dynamic of national growth. Migrants will not be attracted by passive policies. The Government constantly has revised procedures and policies, and made new arrangements and agreements. It has continued to review human problems necessarily associated with migration with a view to making the transition of migrants from their home countries to Australia less disruptive personally and more productive economically.
Honourable members will recall that three new social service provisions are included in the Budget for this purpose. Free health insurance benefits will be provided equal to the standard fund and Commonwealth benefits for a period of 2 months after arrival in Australia subject to their joining a health and medical benefit fund at the time of making application for benefit. In the case of unemployment or sickness, full adult rate benefit will be available to minors who do not have a parent living in Australia. The provision whereby age pensioners making temporary visits overseas may now receive pension on return to Australia for 30 weeks instead of 12 weeks will assist settlers to make a visit to their former homeland after long residence in Australia.
From my visits to almost all countries from which we receive migrants and discussions with governments and senior officials I am confident that 1969-70 will be a year of continuing success.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales)by leave - I move:
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of General Business, Order of the Day No. 37.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[4.0] - I move:
This Bill seeks authority for the Treasurer to borrow a sum of 8132,230,000 to be advanced to the States for housing in the current financial year in accordance with the provisions of the Housing Agreement Act 1966. The Australian Loan Council decided at its meeting last June that the borrowing programme for States’ works and housing for 1969-70 should be $75 8m. Within the limits of this borrowing programme the States have nominated the amounts that they wish to receive as advances under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. The amounts so nominated and agreed to by the Loan Council are as follows:
Last year advances to the States under the Housing Agreement totalled $126m. The amounts to be advanced to the States this year thus represent an increase of nearly 5%. These advances are repayable over 53 years and bear interest at 1% per annum below the long term bond rate.
The current Agreement is now in its fourth year of operation. By the end of that period about $50 lm will have been advanced. At least 30% of these advances will have been used to provide loans to persons seeking to buy or build their own homes. The remainder will have been applied by the States for the erection of homes either for rental or sale to families of low or moderate means. The States themselves determine the type of homes to be erected, their location and the selection of tenants and purchasers for the home. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman - The President has received a letter from the Speaker of the House of Representatives informing him that Mr W. P. O’Connor has resigned his place on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Debate resumed from 19 August (vide page 162), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Minister for Works, Senator the Hon. R. C. Wright, be censured for his conduct as Minister representing the Attorney-General in suggesting in the Senate on 12th August 1969 that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal.
– Today we are continuing the discussion of a censure motion against the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) in regard to a statement which has been regarded as deplorable and even defamatory and which was made under the cover of parliamentary privilege against a person who was found by a court of law to be not guilty of an act. The charge was that he communicated documents. In the debate that has proceeded we have seen all sorts of red herrings drawn across the trail, in regard to the Crimes Act, the fact that the documents were copied by the man himself and the fact that they are in his handwriting. But none of that matter is relevant; not one bit of it is relevant. The only relevant issue of which we should take note is what is contained in the motion; that is, that Senator Wright be censured for his conduct in suggesting in the Senate that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal.
This debate does not refer to anything but that one thing. It does not matter what we believe. It does not matter how we think the documents were transmitted. The point is that this man was found not guilty of that charge, and we are considering the statement of a Minister - an astute Minister, one of the brainiest men, as 1 have always maintained, in this Parliament or any other Parliament in which I have been associated with him. That makes his crime more heinous than ever. He knows, or should know, that what he did was improper. His leader in this House, the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) made a half-hearted attempt, 1 thought, to try to cover over this censure motion. I thought Senator Anderson was trying to pave the way for Senator Wright to get up, be a man and admit that he had done something which was improper and say that he would withdraw and apologise. I thought that that would be the end of this motion.
– The honourable senator should talk sense.
– You are saying that the Minister is not a man. That is rubbish.
– Senator Webster interjected to say that Senator Wright is a man. I had noticed that myself. The point is that Senator Wright knows in his heart that he was wrong.
– He does not.
– He does know it. He is a lawyer and, with the brains he has, he would know he was wrong. Senator Webster, not being able to match Senator Wright in cerebral activity, finds this hard to understand. If Senator Wright had stood up then that act would have ended this rather nasty business of a censure motion being moved against him, a minister. We should not need to have censure motions. Furthermore, 1 do not think they serve any useful purpose because immediately one is moved against a Minister the ranks close up. Everyone on his side has to support him whether or not everyone believes him. Many people sitting on the Government side of the House do not support Senator Wright for making the statement he made. They know it was an improper deed but, of course, because a censure motion has been moved the matter therefore affects the Government and they all get together.
Senator Anderson said that Senator Wright had the right to say what he did because this is a democratic country. Surely Senator Anderson was not talking about Australia if he calls this a democratic country. Here in Australia everyone who wishes to protest or dissent, or who believes that the Government is wrong is immediately labelled a stirrer or, in the end result, if it suits the Government, he is called a Communist.
– Not any longer.
– No, not any longer. He would be called a Chinaman because the Russians are now with us. Australia no longer is a democratic country because no longer is there the right to protest or dissent. But Senator Anderson said that Senator Wright had a right, as a Minister, to say what he thought of the judgment. Of course, he did have that right to say what he thought of the judgment but he had no right to attack the man found not guilty. That is a totally different proposition.
– He was not found guilty.
– He was not found guilty but Senator Wright said he was found guilty and that is what I am complaining about and that is what this censure motion is about. It was contemptible for the Minister, with the knowledge he has, to stand in this Parliament and say, under the cover of privilege, that he believed that this man was guilty of passing or communicating - that was the word - the document. The court itself said he was not guilty of communicating it. The Senate should forget about the rubbish introduced in this debate about all the different types of writings and what this man was supposed to have done contrary to the Crimes Act. That is completely irrelevant to the whole issue. Senator Wright said that he had given a restrained answer to the questions asked. Yet Senator Anderson said that Senator Wright spoke in the heat of the moment. I do not know who was correct. However, if the histrionics of Senator Wright are to be taken into account and if the people of Australia could have seen his act here yesterday they would also call him a ham.
We were told yesterday about a famous law lord called, I think, Lord Atkin. It was put to us that he is the leading lawyer in these matters and that he had said that the right of the ordinary citizen is to criticise in public or in private. Will the Minister tell us whether Lord Atkin said that this right also applied to a member of parliament speaking under the cover of privilege?
– To even the meanest intelligence, that would be a fortiori.
– Thank heavens I have a mean intelligence because Lord Atkin never said that. He referred to an ordinary citizen, which does not mean Ministers of the Crown, I presume, because they sit on the right hand of God. Lord Atkin also referred to criticism in public or in private. If the Minister wishes to criticise publicly, let him go outside and do it publicly. If the Minister thinks he has a right, if he has a famous authority to back him up, if he has every right as a Minister to go outside and do this, why does he not go outside and do it? He does not because he knows that what he would say would be defamatory. He knows that he could not escape the seriousness of-
– Make him address the Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! If Senator Wright wants to make any remarks to the Chair, he must rise to make them.
– On a point of order, I object to being addressed by this senator. I ask you, Mr Deputy President, to require that he address the Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I ask the honourable senator to address his remarks to the Chair.
– I will address my remarks to you, Sir. I am sorry that the honourable senator cannot take anything. Senator Wright has belaboured us time after time on what we should do on legal matters and as to what is proper in the Senate. He has done this repeatedly. He has told us we have no right to discuss certain things. He has even come over to me to instruct me on something. Nevertheless, he made these statements in this chamber. When we question his right, he seeks the protection of the Chair. I do not blame him for so doing because one of the most deplorable actions that could occur in any chamber is for a member to rise and say that a man is guilty when the court has said that he is not.
– In the judgment of Senator Turnbull.
– I would like to have that interjection repeated.
– He said: ‘In the judgment of Senator Turnbull’.
– It is unfortunate, but Senator Wright only hammed his way through the debate on the censure motion yesterday.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator must not disparage any other honourable senator. I ask him to address his remarks to the Chair.
– I will try not to disparage the senator. I think he has discredited himself in the eyes of Australia as it is, so I will not try to disparage him in this chamber. Yesterday he put on a dramatic act of his own. I do not know whether he ever went to drama school, but yesterday he hammed his way through his speech and tried to bring every little red herring into the act to try to bolster his case. He knew he had a weak case, so he had to do this to bolster it. If he had any sense of decency he would have, risen and said that he was sorry he had said it in the heat of the moment or for whatever reason he said it.
– The honourable senator has no reason to say that.
– lt is fantastic that when one becomes a member of the Liberal Party one agrees entirely with the other members of the Party on certain matters, even though the rest of Australia does not agree. The rest of Australia does not agree with the Liberal Party’s attitude to the conduct of the Minister. A newspaper may condemn a man or may contain uncomplimentary remarks about him. We can say that that is just the argument of that newspaper. But when every editorial in the country disparages the Minister for saying what he said, obviously he is wrong. The only people who think he is right are his colleagues. This is a censure motion and they have to support him.
– What editorials have said that he was wrong?
– They all have said that he was wrong. Every one that has commented on this matter has said that he was wrong.
– Can the honourable senator name some?
– Not at the moment; I will look them up for the honourable senator, f do not want to speak for much longer. I regret that we should have come to the point at which a censure motion has been moved. It is still not too late for the Minister to apologise to Mr Pratt.
– I feel somewhat diffident at following the honourable senator from Tasmania who, as Leader of this new Party, has evidently joined with the Australian Lahor Party, I suppose to make a new film called “New Comedians’ because, so far. we have heard the honourable senator clown his way through a speech of some 15 minutes.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! You must not reflect on honourable senators.
– Then 1 withdraw, Sir, if you feel that way about it. My first comment on this whole matter is that there has been an awful lot of emotion generated in the debate so far. As I understand Senator Murphy’s motion, it falls into two major parts. I suppose it has the usual type of beginning. As T understand the motion, it says two things. It says firstly that Senator Wright alleged that Mr Pratt was acquitted of a charge which had been dismissed. Secondly, it says that this charge had been dismissed by a competent judicial tribunal. I repeat the words: ‘Judicial tribunal.’ I suppose if Senator Wright was not a lawyer Senator Murphy would not have used some of the phraseology he did in his opening remarks. 1 take it to be part of Senator Murphy’s argument that if a member of the front bench who is not a lawyer had said what Senator Wright said then Senator Murphy might not have taken such great exception to what was said.
Senator Murphy, quite rightly, takes the view that when lawyers speak in this place concerning matters of law they should use words with care and with accuracy. 1 think that is a reasonable proposition for Senator Murphy to put forward, and if Senator Wright did not use words with care and accuracy concerning a legal matter he would be deserving of censure. But if that is correct as against Senator Wright, then surely it is correct as against Senator Murphy. After all, who brings this present charge? According to the notice paper it is Senator Murphy. I take it that he drew it. If he did not draw it, then at least he put it forward. It is in his name. Therefore there is a responsibility on Senator Murphy, as this is a matter concerning the law. to use his words carefully and accurately.
I turn now to the real substances of the matter in question. The first is: Was Pratt found not guilty? Senator Murphy has used on several occasions the phrase: ‘Pratt was found not guilty.’ Senator Turnbull, who has just resumed his seat, has used this phrase. T think every Opposition senator who has spoken has said: ‘Pratt was found not guilty.’ Unless they can substantiate this first charge, then the balance must fall to the ground.
– What are the words of the motion?
– You say: ‘Was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed. . . ‘ That is all very well, but you may recall that when this matter was originally raised on Tuesday of last week you said: ‘Yes, the case was dismissed. The man was found by a judicial authority to be not guilty’. Senator Murphy, you are a lawyer. You are expected to use words carefully and accurately when dealing with a legal matter, and you used these words: Pratt was found not guilty’. The second point is: ‘Was Pratt tried before a judicial tribunal?’ Senator Murphy in his motion says: ‘Yes’. Senator Cohen said: ‘Yes’ and I think every Opposition senator has said: Yes, Pratt was tried before a judicial tribunal’. The charges against Senator Wright, therefore, are firstly that as a lawyer he should have known better than to speak in terms in which he did; secondly that Pratt was found to be not guilty; thirdly, that Pratt was tried by a judicial tribunal. If those three points cannot be established, then Senator Murphy should withdraw his motion and apologise to both Senator Wright and the Senate.
I question the validity of the three points raised. I think even Senator Murphy will admit that Senator Wright is a lawyer and, as 1 said before, should choose his words with care and accuracy. Was Pratt found not guilty? How has this all come about? What were the charges, and how were they dealt with? As f. understand the proceedings, Pratt was charged under section 70 of the Crimes Act. Under the Crimes Act, offences covered by section 70, not being offences that are expressed to be indictable offences, are, by virtue of section 12 of the Crimes Act, punishable either on indictment or on summary conviction. My authority for that is sub-section (1.) of section 12 of the Crimes Act. 1 think that as both honourable senators are lawyers, they would know that under the Stale jurisdictions when a man is brought before the court he is given the right to elect whether he will be dealt with summarily by the magistrate sitting there and then, or, if it is an indictable offence, he will go before a judge and jury. Under the Commonwealth Crimes Act there is a slight departure from this in that the election is made by the court. Sub-section (2.) of section 12 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act says:
Where proceedings for an offence against this Act are brought in a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, the Court may either determine the proceedings, or commit the defendant for trial.
As I said before, the court elects. 1 think that what next must be established is: Were these proceedings against Pratt of a summary nature or committal proceedings? I think Senator Murphy admitted them to be committal proceedings in his speech yesterday.
– What did the magistrate do?
– Pratt’s counsel requested that they be in this form. This is disclosed in the judgment of the magistrate, Mr Dobson, who said this in his opening remarks:
I was requested by the defence at the beginning of this case some 3 days ago to treat this mailer as a committal matter if the occasion arose. I intend (o treat it that way.
One will recall that, about half way down the last page of his judgment, in answer to a question by Mr Gallup, Mr Dobson said it was nol being dealt with as a summary matter. Therefore 1 think it is fair to say that this was a committal proceeding. One is then entitled, I think, to look to see what is a committal proceeding. I went to the third edition of Halsbury, volume 10, where, in paragraph 656 on page 359 I found this:
The object of the examination is not lo determine the guilt or innocence of the accused, but to inquire whether the accused ought or ought nol to be committed for trial.
The authority given for that is ‘The Queen against Carden’, reported in 1879. 5, Queen’s Bench Division, page I. wilh particular reference to Chief Justice Cockburn, at page 6. I had a look at this report ami the part of the headnote which is relevant for our purposes here states: Upon an information-
This concerns the jurisdiction of a magistrate in committal proceedings - his function is merely to determine whether there is such a case against the accused as ought in be sent for trial.
The sub-headnote says:
The province of a magistrate upon u preliminary inquiry into a charge of an indictable offence discussed.
I then went to page 6 of the volume of the Queen’s Bench Division report to which I have referred and found there that Chief Justice Cockburn, who was a most distinguished judge in the Common Law, is reported as having said this:
The duty and province of the magistrate before whom a person is brought with a view to his being committed for trial or held to bail, is to determine, on hearing the evidence for the prosecution and that for the defence, if there be any, whether the case is one in which the accused ought to be put upon his trial. It is no part of his province to try the case. That being so, in my opinion, unless there is some further statutory duty imposed on the magistrate, the evidence before him must be confined to the question whether the case is such as ought to be sent for trial, and if he exceeds the limits of that inquiry, he transcends the bounds of his jurisdiction.
That is quite a simple statement of the law as to committal proceedings. Then I thought I would try to discover what is the nature of the proceedings. On looking through the Parliamentary Library I found a textbook entitled ‘The Justices Acts of Queensland, 1886 to 1949’, written by a barrister of the Supreme Court of Queensland, one William Kennedy Abbott Allen. At page 259 he discussed the nature of proceedings and the first thing he said was that the examination of witnesses was not a trial. He continued:
The magistrate, in such cases, does not act as a court of justice; he is only an officer deputed by the law to enter into a preliminary inquiry (whether there be sufficient ground to commit the prisoner for trial), and the law which casts upon the magistrate that jurisdiction presumes that he will do his duty in inquiring whether the party ought to be committed or not.
Then he goes on to talk about how this arose out of the old grand jury presentation. At page 277, in discussing the function of the bench, he said:
The duty and province of the stipendiary magistrate or the justices before whom a person is brought, with a view to being committed for trial or held to bail, is to determine, on hearing the evidence for the prosecution (and that for the defence if there be any), whether the case is one in which the accused ought to be put upon his trial.
Again he refers to the Queen v. Carden. I thought having looked at Halsbury on the Queen v. Carden and then the Queensland textbook from which I have just quoted that I would be left in no doubt that due to the nature of the inquiry which was admitted by all to have been committal pro ceedings at no stage could anybody say that Pratt was never found to be not guilty. He was never put in peril. He was never found not guilty, as has been said time and again by honourable senators opposite.
I come then to the next point: Was it a judicial proceeding? Much of the Opposition’s argument hangs on this point. I do not think the Opposition would ever say that any ministerial or administrative act should not be called into question by a member of Parliament. What the Opposition does question is the propriety of a Minister commenting - adversely, if you wish - upon a judicial proceeding. I went back again to my Queensland textbook and at page 277 Mr Allen, quoting the case Ex parte Dowsett; Re Macaulay (1943) 60 New South Wales Weekly Notes 40, by Mr Justice Roper who referred to a decision of Lord Justice Lopes in another case reported at page 41 of the New South Wales Weekly Notes, he said:
On a consideration of these and other authorities, I have come to the conclusion that a magistrate holding an inquiry into the question whether a person should be put upon trial for an indictable offence is a ministerial officer. . . .
I thought to myself that perhaps Senator Murphy had never heard of this textbook and most likely he did not know that this was what the bench was doing at that stage, that perhaps he was still under the illusion, as he said in his motion, that this was a judicial tribunal. I looked further about the Library and found another book, ‘Justices Act 1902-1966’ of New South Wales annotated by Mr J. M. Smail, BarristeratLaw. I thought that if Senator Murphy was correct they perhaps had different rules in New South Wales, but then T worked my way up to page 187 where I found this passage:
Nature of proceedings. - The inquiry under this section is essentially administrative and cannot be questioned by certiorari.
He then cites Ex parte Cousens: Re Blacket (1946), 63 New South Wales Weekly Notes at page 228, a report of the Full Court. The report continues: . . although in limited circumstances prohibition may lie.
Then he cited other cases to distinguish these. He continued to quote Mr Justice Roper who said:
Not being satisfied with that I went to Volume 63 of ‘The Weekly Notes’ of 1946 and dug up the case Ex parte Cousens; Re Blacket and Another, a case considered In Banco in August 1946.
– You will find a few more after that.
– Yes, I think so. I thought that somebody should instruct the honourable senator in the law because so far he has not given us much enlightenment.
– ils it necessary for the honourable senator to indulge in quibbles?
– That is all very well, but Senator Murphy last night attempted to denigrate Senator Wright, sneering at him, although not as to his capacity as a lawyer. Senator Turnbull attacked him in his capacity as a lawyer, saying that he should use words with care and accuracy.
– I said nothing about his capacity as a lawyer.
– The honourable senator does not like it being turned back on him. If I may quote the remarks in Ex parte Cousens, the presiding judge was the late Sir Frederick Jordan, Chief Justice, and the two other judges were Mr Justice Davidson and Mr Justice Street. The headnote reads:
The act of an examining magistrate, in deciding whether an accused should be discharged or committed to prison or admitted to bail to await trial, is purely executive in its nature and is not within the category of executive acts over which a superior Court can and should exercise its supervisory jurisdiction.
Sir Frederick Jordan said when delivering the joint judgment:
The functions of magistrates in criminal matters are of two kinds. Sitting as Courts of Petty Sessions, they determine whether persons are guilty of offences in respect of which jurisdiction to dispose of such matters summarily has been conferred upon magistrates by statute. Independently of this, in the case of charges that persons are guilty of offiences triable at Quarter Sessions or by a Superior Court, they determine whether the evidence against the persons charged is such as to warrant their being committed to prison, or admitted to bail, to await their trial. There is no doubt that the former function involves an exercise of judicial power by the magistrate sitting as a Court of Justice, and that superior Courts, by the prerogative of certiorari and prohibition, exercise a supervisory jurisdiction over the proceedings of those Courts. The books are full of instances of the exercise by superior Courts of this jurisdiction. The latter function of magistrates is of an entirely different nature. In relation to charges of offences which they have no jurisdiction to try and dispose of. their authority is not judicial; Uley do not determine whether the accused is guilty or not guilty; they consider the evidence adduced against him, and if they think that there is enough to justify putting him upon his trial, they direct that he be held. . . .
– Let me stop the honourable senator there. Is he saying that the magistrate bad no authority to dispose of this matter if he wanted to?
– The moment the magistrate elected - I have tried to point this out to Senator Murphy - to proceed under sub-section (2.) of section 12 of the Crimes Act, the magistrate himself converted this from a summary matter into a committal proceeding.
– Is the honourable senator saying that the magistrate had no authority?
– The magistrate had no authority once he elected to treat it as a committal proceeding. Senator Murphy knows as well as I know that a magistrate cannot back and fill.
– What the honourable senator is saying is that the magistrate did not, not that he had no authority? The honourable senator is saying that the magistrate did not?
– The magistrate elected to treat the matter as a committal proceeding. Therefore, he was stuck with the committal proceeding. We know that Senator Murphy likes to jump back and forth in these matters. We take it that Mr Dobson would not wish to adopt a similar attitude.
As I said, Mr Deputy President, Sir Frederick Jordan said:
This is essentially an executive and nol a judicial function.
He said later in his judgment: . . in the course of the nineteenth century, many laws were passed both in England and in Australia regulating the procedure in such inquiries, but, as his Honour also pointed out, they have not the effect of altering the essential nature of the inquiry, which cannot be regarded now, any more than formerly, as an exercise of judicial function.
I know that this is fairly hard for Senator Murphy to take because what I have attempted to do this afternoon is to expose him for what he is. Senator Murphy attempted to use the forms of the Senate against another lawyer, Senator Wright, by imputing wrongful motives and operations against him when Senator Murphy himself has not the capacity to do the job properly.
So, it is no use Senator Murphy trying to pass this off as mere legal quibbling. This never started off as a mere legal quibble. This was an attack on Senator Wright as a lawyer. It was an attack on him as a Minister. I think that I have done sufficient so far to show that, within the three ambits of what Senator Murphy based his attack, he has not been able to substantiate any of them. What I have said this afternoon - I imagine that this is really what is hurting Senator Murphy - and what I have said right throughout my speech have been statements of fact. I have not attempted to run away with emotive praise.
If my argument is correct, and if Halsbury and the other authorities that I have quoted are correct, Pratt was never found to be not guilty and this was never a judicial proceeding. How then can Senator Murphy now attempt to substantiate the claims which he has charged against Senator Wright? I submit to you, Mr Deputy President, that Senator Murphy and his charge - or his information, if one likes to call it that - have failed on all counts. His charge against Senator Wright is as ill conceived in law as he alleges were the search warrants issued against Newton. The substance of the statement by Senator Wright in no way can be said to be criticism of judicial authority as there was no judicial authority to be criticised.
I wish to conclude, if I may, by sort of paraphrasing almost the last paragraph of the judgment in the Pratt case by the magistrate, Mr Dobson. If I may alter the magistrate’s words a bit, I would say that this motion should be defeated because, in my paraphrase of Mr Dobson’s remarks: ‘I feel that it is because in my view there is not one tittle of evidence against Senator Wright re defendant. I do not know why this motion was laid. I feel that it is a case in which Senator Wright should not have been called upon to answer’. My only regret is that, unlike Mr Dobson, I cannot award costs against Senator Murphy.
– It could be claimed that Senator Withers has made a contribution to this debate. But I think it can be said also that he has evaded and avoided the issue with a dreary, boring set of quotations that were completely irrelevant to the motion before the Senate. Senator Withers attempted to air his legal knowledge as though he was in a court of law whereas he is in the Parliament of the country. This is a Parliament of laymen. Senator Withers imported into the debate quotations from his own little private set of references that sought to prove that the verdict that was reached by the magistrate or judicial authority when he dismissed the case against this man was wrong and that the judgment of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) and of Senator Withers was correct.
I think that we should get this matter into its proper perspective. I wish to remind some of the listeners, who probably would have been sent off to sleep as a result of the dreariness of the contribution that Senator Withers made, of the motion that is before the Senate. It reads:
That the Minister for Works, Senator the Hon. R. C. Wright, be censured for his conduct as Minister representing the Attorney-General in suggesting in the Senate on 12th August 1969 that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal.
This is a very serious matter. Senator Wright has criticised this judgment brought down by a judicial authority. In that way he has created a very dangerous precedent.
I wish to retrace the matters that led to this situation. On 12th August, I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) - I did not ask my question of the Minister for Works - a question relating to civil liberties. I asked Senator Anderson:
Now that Mr Justice Fox of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court has ruled that the search warrants issued for the searches of Maxwell Newton’s home, office and bank records were invalid, will the Government give an assurance that there will be no repetition of a misuse of the Crimes Act to search homes, offices and bank accounts on grounds as flimsy as those on which the warrants were issued against Maxwell Newton?
I further asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate:
Were not the whole proceedings designed to stop the strong criticism of the Government by
Maxwell Newton’s publications in an election year?
Once more into the breach, dear friends, strode Senator Wright. He was not asked the question at all. He said:
The honourable senator will well know that the procedures referred to were followed by legal action. The decision with regard to the validity of the search warrant is still under consideration and may not yet be final.
Now, Senator Withers is trying to defend the situation. Senator Wright most certainly took the opportunity of giving his judgment and his profound knowledge of the law and his superior position as against that of the ordinary judicial authority by prejudicing the case of Maxwell Newton. This was his No. 1 offence. Senator Wright went on to say:
The other decision-
He was not asked about the other decision at all. There was no relationship, as far as the question that was asked of Senator Anderson was concerned, between civil liberties and Maxwell Newton’s right as a citizen of this country to the sanctity of his own home and of his own person. That was the question that was asked.
Senator Wright then sought to divert from the question that he had taken it on himself to answer. The question was not directed at him at all. He obviously felt more conscious of the fact that a widely held belief was that this was a political action against Maxwell Newton to try to silence him. There is more involved in this matter than just a quibble, as Senator Withers has just put forward. The right of any member of the Press, any journalist who obtains information from any source at all, is involved.
All honourable senators are aware of the long standing practice. Somewhere along the line Senator Greenwood. Senator Withers, Senator Laucke or some other Government supporter could bc suspected of leaking information to the Press, lt could be Senator Cormack or Senator Rae. Such leaks are made to the Press from party meetings and even from Cabinet meetings. To my knowledge it has been happening for over 20 years on our side of the parliamentary institution. Senator Little is attempting to interject. He would leak all day because he has a hole in him. We have heard enough from the Santamarians. If the principle is to be established that to find out where the Press obtains information a warrant is to be obtained from a justice of the peace, no member of the Press is to be free from such action. No publisher throughout Australia will be free from that type of action. Therefore I believe that much more is involved in this case than just the details we have been discussing. Not only can charges be made against a newspaper publisher and the privacy of his home invaded at will, but also any member of the Public Service can be arrested and after the judge or the judicial authority finds that there is not one tittle of evidence to show that the public servant involved has conveyed information, Senator Wright, who represents the Attorney-General in the Senate, can make in the Senate statements such as he made to Senator Cavanagh, when he said:
I am bound to say with some respect - I hope nol a disproportionate degree - for my own opinion, that I hold the firm opinion thai there was nol only some evidence but strong evidence that those manuscript documents copying cables from the Department of Trade and Industry, which were found printed a few days later in the Newton Press, not on one occasion but on three occasions, were communicated by Mr Pratt to the Press.
Senator Wright has set himself up as judge and jury. He claims that he is a private citizen. Senator Wright has several hats. Certainly he is a private citizen. When he was on the back bench he gave occasional glimmers of being a private citizen and we respected him for that. But Senator Wright has been a lecturer in law at one of our universities and should bc an authority on this type of case. He represents a number of electors in Tasmania. He speaks on their behalf and not exactly as a private citizen, but as the representative of a body of citizens. Senator Wright is also a Minister of the Crown. Wilh yet another hat on he is the representative in the Senate of the Attorney-General who is the responsible Minister in this particular case. At the same time that the questions to which I have referred were being asked in the Senate, Mr E. H. St. John, an independent Liberal member for a New South Wales electorate in the House of Representatives, asked whether the search of Mr Newton’s premises was ordered by Cabinet and conducted by Commonwealth Police under invalid warrants. How did the responsible Minister, the Attorney-General - not his spokesman in the Senate, a paragon of all the legal virtues as we have in Senator Wright - deal wilh this problem? Mr St. John asked him:
Is it a fact, us has been alleged, that some of the documents seized and some of the information obtained by the Commonwealth Police had no relation to the possible commission of any offence of the kind described in the warrants? Have any of those documents or has any of that information been conveyed to the Prime Minister or any other Minister?
Evidently Senator Wright was able to obtain those documents that were obtained under invalid warrants. He quoted from them in the Senate, book, bell and candle - from the documents that were allegedly written in manuscript form.
– And placed before the court at the hearing and publicly available.
– The magistrate asked that they not be published.
– No, counsel for the prosecution asked that they not be published and then-
– The Minister made them available against his wishes. I am making the point of how many contradictions are involved in this case. Mr St. John asked the Attorney-General:
What does the Government propose to do to make amends to Mr and Mrs Newton for the unlawful invasion of the privacy of their home and the illegal seizure of their private papers?
Mr Bowen said:
He went on to say that Mr Justice Fox had held that the form of the warrants was bad. That is the way the Attorney-General treated the question, which was based on similar lines to my own. I asked whether there had been a misuse of the powers of the Crimes Act.
– And so did Mr St. John.
– That is exactly what Mr St. John in another place had asked the Attorney-General. Senator Wright has the unhappy knack of introducing a type of arrogance into his replies. In reply to my question he said:
To impute wrong political motives in any such prosecution is to make a completely spurious suggestion.
But it was not entirely my suggestion. The suggestion was widespread throughout the community. I wish to quote from an article by Alan Ramsey which appeared in the Australian’, lt is headed: ‘The Newton affair puts Bowen’s head firmly on the chopping block’. Senator Wright, through his own actions, has put his own head firmly on the chopping block. He has proved himself to be unfit to represent the AttorneyGeneral in the Senate, not only through his answers last week but also because of his performance in trying to rebut the charges that have been made against him in the motion now before the Senate. Alan Ramsey wrote:
There is talk in Canberra that Mr Bowen is now evaluating the Commonwealth’s position to see what, if anything, can be possibly salvaged from the ruins of the Newton debacle.
That is a reflection of an opinion that is abroad. It is true that we do not have to take as the end of all truth the opinions of any particular newspaper editorial writer or commentator, but it is a reflection of opinion that I have quoted. I do not think any honourable senator would refute the view that we are entitled to express in this chamber the opinions that are held in the community. There is very deep and wide concern about the measures that have been taken in an attempt to suppress a particular publisher and journalist because he has been critical of individual members of the Cabinet. There is no shadow of doubt that there is no love between Mr McEwen and Mr Maxwell Newton.
– There is no love between Mr McEwen and Mr McMahon.
– That is so, and not much love between many members of the Cabinet in the past several months.
– What about you and Mr McEwen?
– I do not know whether Mr McEwen loves you. The position has deteriorated even since this debate has been in progress. We have seen further signs of lack of love and of recriminations between these people. This situation has been pointed out by Maxwell Newton and for that reason action has been taken against him. Alan Ramsey went on:
Some Ministers are said to be pressing for the Attorney-General and his Department to take the whole unhappy business to a higher court. Cooler hands are not so anxious. The latter hold fairly firmly to the view that any further action by the Commonwealth could only revitalise a lot of unpleasant headlines and further discredit the Government, whatever the outcome.
That is exactly what Senator Wright has done by the nature of his replies to questions that we have asked and the precedent he has created by claiming the right of an ordinary citizen to criticise judicial authorities under the privilege of the Senate. The Minister dragged Pratt into this argument without invitation and without any question being asked about Pratt. Pratt himself has challenged Senator Wright to make outside the Parliament the statements that he made inside it. Rightly so, because Pratt has available to him the processes of law if the statements are made other than under parliamentary privilege. For this state of affairs to exist and to be allowed to continue is a reflection not only on Senator Wright but also on every one of us in this Parliament.
Turning from my question which was directed specifically to the treatment of Maxwell Newton, Senator Wright chose to refer to the Pratt case, Senator Cavanagh asked him: ls it the Minister’s opinion that the decision in the case of Graeme Pratt was a travesty of justice and not in keeping with the evidence before the court?
Senator Wright then gave vent to his spleen and his irritation at the fact that the decision did not go the Government’s way and that the sledgehammer of injustice which was being used in an attempt to silence Maxwell Newton, through Pratt, had gone astray. The Minister used the forms of this chamber in an attempt to counter the opinion that had been given in the court.
– You are making a bit of heavy weather of this.
– I am trying to show exactly the iniquitous situation in which we find ourselves as a result of Senator Wright’s action. It only compounds the offence for the Senate to allow this kind of thing to pass without directing the full searchlight of debate onto it and without making certain that not only a senator but particularly the Minister representing the Attorney-General in this chamber should not exhibit the kind of conduct that Senator Wright exhibited.
– What did Senator Wright do wrong?
– First of all, he has taken the attitude that a judicial authority has given a wrong decision and that there has been a travesty of justice.
– He said nothing like that.
– I will tell the Senate exactly what he said so that it will bc on record, in reply to Senator Cavanagh the Minister said:
I made some reference to the decision of the learned magistrate who dealt with the case of Graeme Pratt and in order to answer the honourable senator’s question I would be impelled to refer to one or two passages from that decision. It is necessary that I be accurate in my response to the question. The magistrate said: ‘I am satisfied the defendant did commit to writing all or part of the documents to which we have referred … In my view there is nol a shadow of doubt that these documents were communicated either to Newton, his wife or some person connected with 55 Kent Street, Deakin. . . J may be excused for using a nonjudicial term - the sixty-four dollar question is, by whom was this information communicated and on the evidence before me I would answer that question by saying, “probably by the defendant” ‘.
Despite that, the magistrate then went on to say: lt has never been the law to my knowledge, and I trust it never will be, that a man can be convicted or even required to stand his trial on suspicion alone and nothing else.
We have heard Senator Wright, Senator Greenwood, Senator Withers and practically everyone on the Government side who has taken part in this discussion break the cardinal rule by trying to convict this man on suspicion and circumstantial evidence, even after the magistrate acquitted the man and dismissed the charge. The quibble that Senator Withers put up about whether Pratt was not guilty, whether the case was dismissed or whether he was acquitted shows the weakness of the Government’s case in trying to divert the debate to a discussion of semantics on whether there was an acquittal, a dismissal or a finding of not guilty. The fact is that the case did not proceed. It fell to the ground. The precedent was followed that a man maintains the right to claim that he is innocent until he is proved guilty. Pratt is still innocent. He has not been proved guilty. Yet here we have legal men, Government senators, setting themselves up as a kangaroo court to try to prove that this man is guilty. It is a disgraceful and a discreditable performance on their part.
It is a great pity that the people of Australia were not able to hear the legal view that was put up by Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen, and the contribution that was made by Senator McClelland. I am sure that they convinced every fair minded person that a very grave injustice has been committed in this Senate in that Senator Wright, the representative of the AttorneyGeneral, a Minister of the Crown, has seen fit to denigrate and to defame a man who, after having been put through the process of the court, has been able to maintain his innocence. I support the motion of censure against Senator Wright.
– The Senate is discussing what to me is an incredible motion to the effect that Senator Wright should be censured. Any motion of censure is a serious matter, and when it is suggested that the Senate should censure a Minister surely one of the rudimentary requirements is that there be a foundation upon which that case can be made. It is incredible that in this instance Senator Murphy, who is a lawyer and the Leader of the Opposition, has launched a case so lacking in any foundation and so inaccurate in what it suggests. It is incredible that so much of the time of the Senate should be taken up by members of the Opposition persisting in inaccuracies and regaling the Senate with material which they know is not acceptable because contrary facts have been clearly established. Every member on the Government side, from our leader to the most recently elected senator, stands behind Senator Wright. We will support our Minister because we regard charges such as those which have been made on this occasion as lacking entirely any justification and as part of an Opposition plan designed to denigrate him.
We have just listened to Senator O’Byrne. After the speech which was delivered by Senator Withers, which clearly indicated in two respects the complete fallacy of Senator Murphy’s case, one might have supposed that there would be an attempt to reply to Senator Withers. There was no such attempt. There was an engaging discussion on irrelevancies which warmed Senator O’Byrne’s heart and so often in the past have delighted the Senate. It would have delighted the Senate on this occasion but for the fact that we are discussing a censure motion. He spoke about search warrants and asked whether any member of the Press was safe. One might ask what relevance that has, because nobody in this country is entitled to get a search warrant to enter anybody’s premises until a magistrate has been satisfied of the grounds upon which that search warrant has been issued.
That was the position in the case in which Mr Justice Fox recently delivered judgment. One of the safeguards that we all have is that there are courts of law which can, when the occasion arises, indicate when executive acts have transcended authority. All that happened recently was that that principle was established. It is a complete irrelevancy, a dangerous red herring, and something on which Senator O’Byrne should reflect before he repeats it, to suggest that there are ways and means by which the premises of people can be entered. They cannot be entered unless the law is observed. The recent decision of Mr Justice Fox establishes that.
One might also ask why Senator O’Byrne, in this context, chooses to discuss the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). His Leader, Senator Murphy, when he opened this debate, expressly disclaimed making any allegations against the Attorney-General. Yet Senator O’Byrne chooses to occupy part of the time of the Senate by in some way linking the Attorney-General to the allegations that he now makes.
The position, as I understand it, is that the motion moved by Senator Murphy seeks to censure Senator Wright for his conduct as Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral in suggesting in the Senate on 12th August 1969 that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal. It was evident from what Senator Withers said that Mr Pratt, the citizen involved, on the day in question was not in the position that he could be found either guilty or not guilty, because it was a committal proceeding. The second point that Senator Withers made, as I understood him, was that this charge was not dismissed because it was a committal proceeding and all that the magistrate had to determine was whether there was a strong enough case to put the man on trial. The next point that Senator Withers made was that the tribunal - the magistrate - was not to be designated as a judicial tribunal because the whole history of our jurisprudence is that a magistrate, when he is so acting, is acting in an executive or ministerial capacity and not as a judicial authority. That should be the end of this motion. But it is not, because we find Senator O’Byrne still persisting. One can only suppose that Senator Murphy is alive to this situation; nevertheless the motion is persisted with.
This matter should be put in perspective. The perspective indicates that what Senator Wright said was a perfectly proper comment on a matter of public interest in response to questions asked by members of the Opposition.
– They say worse things about arbitration court judges every week.
– As Senator Gair indicates, it was only approximately 3 months ago that we had members of the Opposition seeking to discuss issues that were then before the arbitration tribunal. We heard many pleas from members of the Opposition on how much against the public interest it would be if people could not discuss what was going on in the courts of the land. Yet on this occasion they wish to deny any discussion of this matter.
In the first place it is a question of examining what was the charge that was laid against Mr Pratt. He was charged on 14th, 15th and 16th July of this year, I think it was, with five charges that, shortly expressed, as a public servant he communicated to persons unknown, information which he was not authorised to communicate. This was a committal proceeding in the sense I have already mentioned. In such proceedings the magistrate has to make an election as to whether he will treat it as a summary proceeding, in which case he will deal with it then and there, or whether he will commit the defendant for trial. That is the position which is clearly set out in the relevant provision of the Crimes Act. Section 12 (2.) reads:
Where proceedings for an offence against this Act are brought in a Court of Summary Juris diction, the Court may either determine the proceedings, or commit the defendant for trial.
He may do one or other. He may determine the proceedings as a summary matter or he may regard the proceedings as committal proceedings.
– What did the magistrate do?
– The magistrate, at the request of the defendant, determined to treat these as committal proceedings. I will read what he said. It has been read before, but I think it is significant. He said: 1 was requested by the defence at the beginning of this case some three days ago to treat this matter as a committal matter if the occasion arose. I intend to treat it that way.
He thereafter indicated that it was a committal proceeding. Therefore, he was electing to treat it as a committal proceeding and not as a proceeding which he had to determine then and there. It is a fact that the magistrate at the conclusion of his judgment committed an error that is quite discernible and patent on the face of it. He said:
An examination of the statute under which he was acting shows that he could not do both of those things once he had elected to treat the matter as a committal proceeding. He elected to do that and his ruling was: ‘There is no prima facie case’. He could not then, in the sense of using the word ‘dismissal’ as a determination of the proceedings, determine the proceedings because he had already denied that choice to himself by his election to treat it as a committal proceeding.
If I state that that is a matter of error on the magistrate’s part, I trust that I will not be thought to be bringing into question what the magistrate said because it is patent on the face of it that he did not have that power. As I said, the magistrate was trying this matter as a committal proceeding. That is further indicated by the fact that Mr Pratt was not called upon to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Before any person can be put in jeopardy in the sense that he may be convicted, he is required to enter a plea. That is the position in a trial before a judge and jury. It is the position in regard to any information that is heard in a court of summary jurisdiction. At no time did Mr Pratt have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. In a very real and practical sense Mr Pratt, as a result of trie course that was taken by his counsel, was never in jeopardy, at the time when he was appearing before Mr Dobson, of being convicted of the charge that had been laid.
The result of the proceedings was that there was found to be no prima facie case against Mr Pratt. In those circumstances it was open to the Attorney-General to prefer an indictment presenting Mr Pratt before a judge and jury. The fact that there had been a committal proceeding and the refusal of a magistrate to commit would not have inhibited the Attorney-General in so doing. T, for my part, would sense that as a result of this debate, if for no other reason, that alternative is one which is not now open and which ought not to be open. The position at the time when the magistrate found that there was no case for Mr Pratt to answer was that the Attorney-General could have preferred an indictment. If that be the case, it is quite obvious that there could have been no determination of the proceedings.
– Why do you say that it is not open?
– J say that technically at the present time it is open, but one would hope-
– Why do you say: Technically it is open’?
– Do not suggest that I am saying contrary things. I have indicated that T would hope that at the present time that course would not be taken.
– You arc saying that it is open.
– It is open and it always has been open, since the time when the magistrate found that there was no case for Mr Pratt to answer, for the Attorney-General to prefer an indictment. He still has that technical right. I have said nothing more than that I would hope that as a result of this debate there would not be any such proceeding instituted.
What then is Mr Pratt’s current position? Mr Pratt, after certain information came to light, resigned from the Public Service.
Subsequently he was charged. He is now entitled to say that a stipendary magistrate found no prima facie case against him of communicating unauthorised information. That magistrate also found that Mr Pratt is entitled to remain mute and to say nothing about the charge - to say nothing either to inculpate himself or to exculpate himself. As I said earlier, he is liable to be proceeded against by indictment but he has not so far been proceeded against in that way and I presume he will not be so proceeded against.
Mr Pratt is also entitled to say ; and I think he should say ; that he, by personal experience, knows that the processes for law enforcement in Australia operate within a context of presumption of innocence. They also operate within a context where an individual is privileged from selfincrimination. Mr Pratt, benefiting from both the presumptions and privileges, secured the services of a competent lawyer and he finds himself in the position now that he does not have to answer any charge. Having said that, 1. think it is fair to say ‘good fortune to Mr Pratt’ because he was in a somewhat difficult situation.
Last Tuesday week in this Senate the Minister for Works was asked certain questions and any comments he made were comments made in response to questions. If Senator O’Byrne seeks to ask a question seeking information - and I imagine that to Senator O’Byrne is to be attributed bona fides in asking the question - then the answer which was given by the Minister was an answer which justified the launching of the prosecution by the Commonwealth. He said that there was a sound basis in reason, on the information available to the Crown, for launching that prosecution. He also said - and I think this ought to be echoed and emphasised - that there was sound reason for enforcing honesty in administration and that on the information which the Government had this prosecution should have been launched. It is quite apparent from the evidence which was before the magistrate that any government, any attorney-general, would have been lacking in what is required of it, or him in his office, if, when that information came to light, proceedings were not instituted. lt is interesting, in the light of the magistrate’s statements in the course of the case, to consider whether this is a matter which should be open for public comment. 1 imagine that any member of the Opposition would be entitled to say - and doubtless they are saying it - that the magistrate said there was not a tittle of evidence and he does not know why the information should have been laid. As a matter of public comment 1 imagine that a member is perfectly entitled to say that. If the Opposition does say that then why should not members of the Government be entitled to explain why the information was laid? That is all that Senator Wright did in response to the first question asked. The Minister is entitled to say why the action was instituted because this is a matter of general interest.
The second question asked, and in response to which the Minister gave an answer, was asked by Senator Cavanagh. Senator Cavanagh’s question clearly asked for an expression of opinion by the Minister on the outcome of the Pratt case. I think it indicates a partisan inconsistency on the part of the Leader of the Opposition that, if he took umbrage at the answer given by Senator Wright to Senator O’Byrne’s question on the basis that there should not be any discussion of a court case in which no prima facie case had been found against a defendant, he should then sit silent while Senator Cavanagh asked directly and pertinently for an answer from the Minister.
– Because I thought the Minister would have enough sense to answer it with propriety, which he did not do. You would not have answered it in that way, would you?
– The Minister answered the question and he indicated his opinion in terms of perfect propriety. That was all he was asked to do. So far as the Minister is concerned, what, in short form, did he say? In the first place he said there was sound basis in reason for the prosecution because of the circumstances. He said that because of the circumstances there was good reason to enforce honesty on the administration. He also said that in his opinion there was strong evidence that information had been communicated by Mr Pratt. The Minister did not say that Mr Pratt was guilty. He did not suggest that Mr Pratt was guilty.
– He suggested action. I will quote to you what he said.
– He did not. If this is the basis upon which the Opposition wishes to attack the Minister then it has to show more than it has shown so far. All the Minister suggested was that there was strong evidence before the stipendiary magistrate to establish a prima facie case that Pratt communicated these documents to an unauthorised person. Pratt, if he were to go on trial, could go before the jury and say he did not communicate these documents or he could say that he was authorised by somebody to communicate these documents. They would be facts which could be put before the ultimate tribunal trying the issue and if he was believed he would be exculpated.
What Senator Murphy said yesterday was to the effect that the Minister had suggested that Pratt was guilty because, having stated the facts and. having said that they amounted to strong evidence, there was only one other ingredient in the case and that was that Mr Pratt was guilty. But there were more ingredients than just that final conclusion that Mr Pratt was guilty. If the magistrate had found that there was a prima facie case, if he had accepted that there was strong evidence, there still had to be a trial; there still had to be a presentation of evidence; there still had to be an opportunity for Mr Pratt himself to give evidence and to call any other witnesses whom he wanted to call to give evidence; and there then had to be a jury decision. There were any number of matters which stood between the finding of strong evidence, sufficient to put Mr Pratt on trial, and an ultimate determination as to whether he was guilty.
In these circumstances it is useful to look at some of the statements made by Senator Murphy and those supporting him in this debate. In the circumstances some of the remarks were extravagantly condemnatory. There has been no trial by politicians. It is wrong to describe the Minister’s conduct as infamous because there is no warrant for this statement. There has been no negating of the rights of any citizen. There has been no sullying of the name of any citizen. In the circumstances of what is being alleged, these were remarks used simply to colour and pattern a picture and not to explain material which ought to be relied upon if there is to be any substance to the case which is made. lt is to be recognised, 1 think, that there are certain unusual features about the Pratt case. It is unusual for a charge of this character to be laid against a civil servant. It is unusual for any stipendiary magistrate, dealing with any charge where the prosecution has sought to have a person committed for trial, not to commit that person for trial. And it would be highly unusual, when evidence is as strong as the evidence in this case, for a magistrate not to commit for trial. When one considers what the magistrate said in the course of his judgment, it is found to indicate the strength of that case. He said:
The third question - 1 may be excused for using a non-judicial term - the $64 question is, by whom was this information communicated and on the evidence before me 1. would answer thai question by saying, ‘probably by the defendant’.
On the evidence given before the magistrate, he was quite clear in his mind that on the balance of probabilities, Mr Pratt had communicated this information. He went on to say:
Now, that answer would be based on suspicion and not on evidence. Lel me say quite emphatically that the clouds of suspicion lie very heavily on the head of the defendant. It has never been the law to my knowledge, and 1 trust it never will be, that a man can be convicted or even required to stand his tri.il on suspicion alone and nothing else. So heavy and thick are these clouds of suspicion indeed that even the slightest thread of evidence, the barest thread, the minimum of evidence, that the defendant had in some way communicated these documents would, in my opinion, have been sufficient to have caused me lo commit the defendant for trial.
From those words it is quite apparent that the magistrate’s view was that everything pointed towards the defendant. It is that kind of situation which creates the strength of the evidence to which Senator Wright referred.
The facts that the magistrate found are that Mr Pratt was a Commonwealth officer; that a confidential cable from Paris and a Cabinet minute came into Pratt’s possession by virtue of his office; that probably a confidential cable from Bonn likewise came into his possession; that these documents were confidential; that it was Pratt’s duty not to disclose any part of the documents to any person other than a person to whom he was authorised to disclose them: and that Pratt did commit to writing all or part of the documents. That Pratt committed them to writing in journalistic form - writing them in the way in which one would write for publication - was a significant fact which ought to have entered into the magistrate’s consideration.
He also found that the documents which Pratt had committed to writing were found at 55 Kent Street, Deakin; that those were premises with which Mr Maxwell Newton was connected; that if Pratt did communicate the documents or any part of them he would have done so to a person or to a company to whom he was not authorised to communicate them; that the documents were communicated to Mr Newton or to his wife or to some person at 55 Kent Street, Deakin; and that whoever that person was, he or she came by the documents honestly as opposed to lawfully. In those circumstances, and bearing in mind the further fact that the documents were copied by Pratt when he had no requirement as part of his duty to copy them and were copied in a form which would be readily usable for journalistic purposes, the probabilities, as the magistrate said, pointed strongly to one conclusion and to one conclusion only. lt is suggested that in those circumstances one cannot rely upon circumstantial evidence. One might ask the question: How, if not through circumstantial evidence, will any prosecutor ever be able to prove that a communication took place? There are some cases in which the circumstantial evidence is so strong that there is only one rational explanation which appeals. In the High Court and in other jurisdictions it has been held that circumstantial evidence is permissible evidence upon which to found a case. In the course of the magistrate’s judgment he used words which, from a legal point of view, one might challenge. He said:
There is no place in the criminal jurisdiction for the civil doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.
Without qualification, 1 respectfully submit that that is stating the proposition far too broadly. Res ipsa loquitur - which means that the thing speaks for itself - has a place in all jurisdictions in the law and has a basic role in requiring a defendant to be called upon to answer. If the facts of a case are so strong that the thing speaks for itself, this can be relied upon as evidence strong enough to require a defendant to answer the case. That has been laid down at least twice by the High Court in the last 30 years. I refer to the case of Plomp v. The Queen, to which my learned friend, Senator Rae referred last night. In that case, referring to an earlier judgment of the High Court, the Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, said:
In the inculpation of an accused person the evidentiary circumstances must bear no other reasonable explanation. This means that, according to the common course of human affairs, the degree of probability that the occurrence of the facts proved would be accompanied by the occurrence of the fact to be proved is so high that the contrary cannot reasonably be supposed. The circumstances which may be taken into account in this process of reasoning include ali facts and matters which form constituent parts or ingredients of the transaction itself or explain or make intelligible the course of conduct pursued.
As long ago as 1906, Sir Samuel Griffith, as Chief Justice of the High Court, said:
In cases depending on circumstantial evidence the question of probability may be most important.
In those circumstances one can suppose only that there was ample basis for what Senator Wright said was his opinion as to the strength of the evidence. I say that there is point in mentioning those facts because we have been challenged by the Opposition to show, on the evidence, any basis for what Senator Wright said. I think, if one scrutinises the material, that evidence is there. One can respectfully disagree with what the magistrate determined. As has been pointed out many times in the debate, that is a right which any citizen has - a right which is retained notwithstanding that that citizen happens to be in Parliament and a right which becomes almost a duty in cases where that private citizen enters Parliament and becomes a Minister. When he was asked a question, as he was in this case, I would say he had a bounden duty to reply and to reply honestly.
The last decision that I am able to find when this question of comment upon judicial decisions was before the courts of the land was a decision in May 1968 by the Court of Appeal in England, in which a well-known political figure, Mr Quinton Hogg, was the subject of a contempt of court application. As Senator Rae said last night, Lord Denning, in the course of his judgment, emphasised:
It is the right of every man, in Parliament or out of it, in the Press or over the broadcast, to make fair comment, even outspoken comment, on matters of public interest. Those who comment can deal faithfully with all that is done in a court of justice. They can say that we are mistaken, and our decisions erroneous, whether they are subject to appeal or not.
Lord Denning later said:
So it comes to this: Mr Quinton Hogg has criticised the court, but in so doing he is exercising his undoubted right.
Likewise Lord Justice Salmon and Lord Justice Edmund Davies used words comparable to those used by Lord Denning. What we are discussing here is whether or not Senator Wright is deserving of the censure of the Senate. I think, in the light of all that has been said, that it is incredible that the Opposition even contemplated moving this motion. It reflects on the standards which its members would wish to observe; it reflects upon the time they have and the interest they have in other matters affecting the nation. It possibly also explains why they chose yesterday to prevent a debate on a statement on international affairs and to prefer a debate of this character, which has not redounded to anybody’s credit.
– The Opposition wishes to discuss this matter because we do not think that it is a light matter and because it affects the basic civil liberties of the Australian people. If Senator Greenwood is under any delusions about the Opposition not wishing to debate the recent defence statement of the Government or the recent resignation of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) because of his disputes with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), then I can assure him that we would be only too happy to debate those matters at an appropriate time. We would be interested to see whether the honourable senator is a supporter of the Prime Minister or of the Minister for Defence who is shortly to retire. This is a very important issue and in view of some of the matters that have been raised by other speakers, I should like to remind the Senate of the precise terms of the motion that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). The precise motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition is:
That the Minister for Works, Senator the Hon. R. C. Wright, be censured for his conduct as Minister representing the Attorney-General in suggesting in the Senate on 12th August 1969 that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal. lt would be very interesting, and in other circumstances it might be quite profitable to discuss the Hogg case and various other cases as to what rights private citizens or members of Parliament have to comment on the judiciary in general and on particular judicial decisions. These are very interesting matters, but they are not what we are discussing at the present time.
What we are debating arises out of a statement by Senator Wright, the Minister representing the Attorney-General, which can only be construed as continued persecution of an individual against whom a charge has been dismissed. It has been claimed by Senator Withers, and now again by Senator Greenwood, that in some way this man Pratt has not in fact been acquitted, that something much less satisfactory has occurred, that all that has happened to him is that the magistrate refused to commit him for trial. This reminds me of the character in a story who said that he was the only person who could prove he was sane because he was the only person present who could produce a certificate of discharge from the insane asylum.
The Government appears to be saying that a man who was in fact committed for trial and then found not guilty would in some way be less guilty than a man against whom the magistrate in a committal proceeding found that there was no prima facie case. The latter is in fact what occurred with Pratt. The magistrate found that there was no prima facie case. So that to argue that in fact he was not acquitted is a completely fatuous argument, because what happened in the case of Pratt is something much more telling altogether. Not only was he not committed, but in fact the magistrate found that there was not sufficient evidence for him to be brought to trial. For Government senators to argue, as apparently they do, that Pratt would be in a better position if the magistrate had committed him for trial and then he had been acquitted is, of course, quite palpable nonsense.
The Minister came into this matter as the result of a question which was asked in the Senate on 12th August by Senator O” Byrne. I should like to remind the Senate of what precisely occurred on that occasion. Senator O’Byrne asked this question:
My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, involves civil liberties and human rights. Now that Mr Justice Fox of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court has ruled that the search warrants issued for the searches of Maxwell Newton’s home, office and bank records were invalid, will the Government give an assurance that there will be no repetition of a misuse of the Crimes Act to search homes, offices and bank accounts on grounds as flimsy as those on which the warrants were issued against Maxwell Newton? Were not the whole proceedings designed to stop the strong criticism of the Government by Maxwell Newton’s publications in an election year?
That is the question that was asked by Senator O’Byrne. He asked a question relating to the propriety and the validity of the issuing of search warrants against Mr Newton, against his firm and against various other people. The answer that was given by Senator Wright was:
The honourable senator will well know thai the procedures referred to were followed by legal action. The decision wilh regard to the validity of the search warrant is still under consideration and may not yet be final. The other decision, which involves Mr Pratt-
This is the first time that Mr Pratt’s name has been mentioned. No-one had said a word about Mr Pratt. Nobody had asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral what he thought about Mr Dobson, S.M.. or what he thought about Mr Pratt. He was asked about the validity of search warrants which were quashed. Senator Rae seeks to interject. I have already heard his expertise on the law yesterday. It was very interesting. Perhaps he can save it up for some later period when I am sure he will find someone who may conceivably be interested. I am not. The Minister continued:
The other decision, which involved Mr Pratt- whose name had not been mentioned by anyone - is one of a most interesting character, lt appears that three cables from the Department of Trade and Industry were practically copied in the handwriting of Mr Pratt
What he means by ‘practically copied’ I do not know. Either they were copied by Mr Pratt, or they were not copied by Mr Pratt. It seems to me that the use of the words ‘practically copied’ is the adoption by the Minister of one of those techniques of which he is so fond. He wishes to make an allegation that Mr Pratt has copied out the documents, but he is not prepared to say: ‘Mr Pratt copied the documents’. So he says that Mr Pratt ‘practically copied’ the documents.
What does ‘practically copied’ mean? It does not mean a thing, but it is again very typical of the conduct of this Minister in his administration of his portfolio as Minister representing the Attorney-General. Very frequently in this chamber he huffs and puffs like the Sandy Bay Repertory Club’s Winston Churchill. He talks about the inviolability of the law and the respect that the uncouth members of the Opposition should have towards the judiciary. Yet, certainly in the 4 years that I have been here, this is the most blatant allegation of an incorrect decision having been made by any member of the judiciary that I have heard. This is a particularly serious instance of a comment of this nature on the judiciary.
In all innocence, Senator Greenwood looked around with a look of puzzled dismay on his face a few minutes ago and said: ‘If the Opposition says there is no tittle of evidence against Mr Pratt the Minister is entitled to say that there is’. I would refute this, because there are two quite different propositions involved in this matter. As far as I know, nobody on the Opposition has said that there was no tittle of evidence against Mr Pratt and I do not know why Senator Greenwood raises the matter; but, if somebody on the Opposition side had said there was no tittle of evidence against Mr Pratt all he would be doing would be agreeing in substance with the findings of the magistrate in the committal proceedings in Canberra. If you argue to the contrary, then, far from supporting what the magistrate has said, you are in fact refuting what the magistrate has said. But it is much more serious than that. You are continuing a trial, by slander, and under parliamentary privilege, of a man who has already been dealt with by the appropriate court. That is what is serious about this matter.
This is not some obscure argument about constitutional interpretation; this was a serious charge which was brought against an individual, before a magistrate. One might have one’s own views as to the correctness or otherwise of the decision which
Mr Dobson, S.M., gave, and one might well be entitled to those views, but the fact is that Mr Dobson did come to a decision and his decision was that there was no prima facie case against Mr Pratt and that Mr Pratt should not be committed for trial.
The Government - when I say ‘Government’ I am not including all members but am talking about the Minister representing the Attorney-General - is not satisfied. I notice that the Attorney-General himself has so far been very careful not to identify himself with his representing Minister. Out of respect for the Attorney-General, I think it is highly unlikely that the AttorneyGeneral will be found to say anything in support of the statement by the Minister here. I am very confident that this is not the sort of statement he would make or that he would welcome being made by the Minister who represents him. But the Minister who represents the Attorney-General has continued to make allegations against the man against whom no case has been found to lie by the appropriate magistrate, and he has made it in circumstances where this man Pratt is completely without any redress whatsoever. Pratt is in no position to answer what the Minister has said. To use an expression which has been used frequently in the past, the Minister has made of this chamber a coward’s castle. He has said something which he would not be prepared to say outside this chamber. He has said something which was alleged by counsel appearing for the Crown inside the magistrate’s court when the committal proceedings were being held but which was rejected by the magistrate.
The Minister, this great exponent of civil liberties and the rights of the judiciary, has had the effrontery, the lack of humanity and the complete disrespect for ordinary judicial processes, to come into this Senate under parliamentary privilege and to continue his charges against Pratt, knowing full well that Pratt has no redress against him and knowing full well that he would not have the courage to repeat the accusations that he has made against him in any place where Pratt would have the opportunity to take action against him. He knows that full well, and yet here he hides behind parliamentary privilege, making accusations against a man in respect of whom charges made by the Crown were not upheld by the magistrate.
Senator Greenwood has said in a plaintive tone, as if there was something disgraceful about this, that it is a principle of law that there is a presumption of innocence. 1 almost felt that Senator Greenwood was going to burst into tears because Pratt had been able to take advantage of this presumption of innocence. Here was this wretched Pratt who was able to take advantage of this presumption of innocence which exists under our criminal law! Of course he was entitled to the presumption of innocence. Any other accused person in any other court in Australia is entitled to a presumption of innocence. It is one of the bastions of our whole legal system. It is a disgraceful state of affairs that a man, having been protected by this presumption of innocence and finally having had a decision brought down in his favour by a magistrate, should then be subjected to this slander by the Minister under the cloak of parliamentary privilege.
Moreover Senator Greenwood has said that Pratt was not obliged to convict himself by giving evidence. He said that he could keep silent, could say something or need not say anything. Of course he need not say anything, and of course he need nol convict himself. Why should he? He is in precisely the same position as anybody else who is brought before a court. It is not as though Pratt had been entitled to some special privileges to which no other accused person is entitled. Every person who comes before any criminal court in this country or who faces committal proceedings is entitled to the same protection. He is entitled to a presumption of innocence and he is entitled to the right of not having to convict himself. Does that mean to say that every time someone is brought before a magistrate in committal proceedings and the magistrate refuses to commit him, or every time a person is brought on indictment before a criminal court and is found not guilty, we are to have a series of comments by the Minister or by Senator Greenwood to this effect: ‘The proceedings were unfair; there was a presumption of innocence and the accused did not have to convict himself. I am not going to allow him to get away with this. I shall make a statement under parliamentary privilege telling everyone that really he was guilty’? That is in fact what Senator Wright has done in this instance. He has said that Pratt was guilty. If one looks at the report of the debate which took place last night one will see that Senator Cavanagh said:
An examination of the questions asked and the answers given by Senator Wright shows that Senator Wright replied in the terms referred to by Senator Murphy. Tonight Senator Wright, in defence of his own attitude, asked: Are we to believe in miracles and this matter was not conveyed by Pratt to the Newton Press?
What possible construction could be put on that statement other than that it was a statement by the Minister that the articles were conveyed by Pratt to the Newton Press? If he is asking rhetorically whether Senator Cavanagh or Senator Murphy believes in miracles - according to Senator Wright, that is the only explanation there could be for the way in which these documents found themselves in possession of Mr Newton - he is suggesting that Pratt conveyed these documents to Newton. That is the only construction that could bc put on what he said. I defy the Minister to put any other construction on those words.
– ‘Communicate’ was the word.
– f have already heard Mr Justice Webster. At that point in Senator Cavanagh’s speech Senator Greenwood interjected and asked:
Docs the honourable senator believe in miracles?
The only construction that one can put on what. Senator Greenwood said was that he supported what Senator Wright had said, that only a miracle could explain the transference of these documents from the Department to Newton unless Pratt himself had conveyed these documents. What is it then that Senators Wright and Greenwood are saying? They are saying that Pratt conveyed these documents from the Department to Mr Newton. No other possible construction could be put on what they said. There is no other possible construction than that they are asserting, stating quite deliberately, that Pratt did convey these documents, that Pratt did commit the offence with which he was charged before the magistrate but after the hearing Mr Dobson, S.M., found that there was no prima facie case. Senator Greenwood has said today in referring to the Crimes Act that the committal proceedings are not the end of the matter. He said: Despite the fact that the magistrate refused to commit Pratt for trial, there could still be an indictment by the Crown before a judge and jury. Then he went on to say very peculiarly, that as a result of this debate it will be impossible for it to carry on with this indictment.
– 1 did not say ‘impossible’.
– I thought the honourable senator said a little more than that, but we can check on what he said when the Hansard report comes out. The words that 1 noted were: ‘As a result of this debate an indictment is not now open’. If Senator Greenwood disagrees with my note of what he said I do not wish to dispute him, but that is certainly what I wrote down while he was speaking. If this is the case, if an indictment is not now open, why is it not now open? Who raised the whole question of Pratt’s guilt or innocence? lt was not the Opposition. The question of Pratt’s guilt or innocence was raised by the Minister.
Senators Greenwood and Wright find this rather amusing, but let us go back and have another look at the questions which were asked. Senator O’Byrne’s question referred specifically to the issuing of the warrant which was quashed by Mr Justice Fox. There was no reference whatever to Pratt or to his committal proceedings, nor was there any reference to whether he was guilty or innocent. The question asked referred specifically to the issuing of this very wide search warrant which was quashed by Mr Justice Fox in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. This was followed by a question asked by Senator Cavanagh arising from Senator Wright’s answer. Senator Cavanagh’s question was as follows:
I refer the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral to his reply to Senator O’Byrne’s question, ls it the Minister’s opinion that the decision in the case of Graeme Pratt was a travesty of justice and nol in keeping with the evidence before the court?
That question arose from the long statement which the Minister had made in reply to Senator O’Byrne’s question concerning the issuing of the warrant, lt would have been very simple for the Minister to say:
No, I do not believe that there was a travesty of justice.’ Nobody would have assumed from this that the Minister privately might not have believed that the magistrate should have found in another way. No-one would have assumed from this that, necessarily, the Minister did not have the opinion that. Pratt perhaps would have been convicted if he had been indicted. The Minister was asked whether he believed that there had been a travesty of justice. Instead of saying ‘No”, he went on for one and a half columns in Hansard talking about the three cables that were found. He gave selected excerpts, carefully selected at random, front what the magistrate said in his finding and he said: ‘I have quoted that part of Mr Dobson’s finding to show the basis upon which I expressed an opinion as 1 was invited to do so by the honourable senator.’ He was not invited to express an opinion. He was invited to say whether he believed that there had been a travesty of justice. He was not invited to express an opinion on the whole nature of the prosecution.
On the question of whether the magistrate was in error. Senator Wright said:
I have quoted I lim to show the basis on which I have expressed an opinion as I was invited to do so by the honourable senator on the question as to whether the magistrate was in error in finding that there was no evidence.
Senator Cavanagh did not ask the Minister whether the magistrate had been in error. He asked him whether there had been a travesty of justice.
– He asked whether the decision was not in keeping with the evidence before the court.
– ls the Minister seriously going to suggest then that anybody by way of question, whether by a Dorothy Dix question or any other sort of question, can ask a question after a man has been subject to a criminal prosecution and either has been acquitted or the magistrate has found that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant a committal for trial, and that the Minister replying will be entitled to canvass the whole evidence, to make selections from the decision of the magistrate and then to bring down the verdict of guilty so that that verdict goes into the record of the Parliament? ls that what the Minister is saying? ls that what he believes? Does he believe that, because Senator Cavanagh invited him to express an opinion, this was what he was entitled to do? The Minister, if he were a competent Minister responsibly carrying out the position as the Minister representing the senior law officer of the Australian Parliament, should have said, whatever his own opinions were, that there had not been a travesty of justice and that there was no reason to believe that the magistrate should be impugned or impeached or that any other action should be taken against the magistrate.
This is how this matter arose. For Senator Greenwood now to say that it is impossible to continue against Mr Pratt or, if not impossible, that an indictment is not open now against Mr Pratt because of this debate which has taken place, the charge of preventing this indictment from being laid, if it should be laid, is not one which should be levelled against the Opposition but is one which should be levelled against the Minister who has prejudged this whole issue in making the statements which he has done in the sanctuary of the Senate against Pratt.
The issue in this question is a perfectly clear one. The fact is that a man was brought before the magistrate’s court on certain charges. Never mind whether they were serious charges or were not serious charges. He was brought before the magistrate’s court. The magistrate, as he was perfectly entitled to do - no action so far as I know has been taken against the magistrate on the ground that he in any way has acted improperly - decided that on the evidence presented there was not a prima facie case against Mr Pratt. I submit and I believe that, despite what Senator Withers, Senator Rae, Senator Greenwood and Senator Wright have said, the fact that the magistrate found that there was no prima facie case goes much farther in exonerating Pratt than if he had been committed for trial and had been found not guilty at that trial. The magistrate found that there was not even enough evidence to warrant bringing him before a judge and jury. All this has been done. It is no use discussing whether the judiciary ought to be debated sometimes or whether it should not be debated.
What has happened is that involved here is the question of the civil liberties of an individual. This individual is Mr Pratt. One well knows that if one is tried before a court and if one is found guilty only part of the punishment is the penalty laid down by the court. A substantial part of the penalty is the damage that is done to one’s good name and the disrepute into which one is brought. Pratt came out of the magistrate’s court without a prima facie case against him. According to all basic principles of justice, that is where the matter should have rested. He had been dealt with by the court. The court had found that there was no prima facie case against him. But so vindictive is the Minister, so irresponsible is the Minister and so derelict is the Minister in his duties as the Minister representing the officer administering the law of this country that he comes into this chamber with the support of several of the senators sitting behind him and proceeds to retry this man, to find him guilty and to blackguard him, under cloak of privilege, throughout the whole of Australia. That is why the Opposition supports the motion which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– in reply - The motion is:
That the Minister for Works, Senator the Hon. R. C. Wright, be censured for his conduct as Minister representing the Attorney-General in suggesting in the Senate on 12th August 1969 that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal.
This motion of censure concerns Senator Wright not as a citizen and not as a lawyer. In that regard I would like to say, despite what was said by Senator Withers and some other honourable senators opposite, that not one word of the speech that I made refers to the fact that Senator Wright is a lawyer. I referred to his conduct as the Minister representing in the Senate the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen), the chief law officer of Australia responsible for the administration of justice. The basis of the motion is not merely that he suggested in the Senate that a decision of a court was erroneous; he suggested that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed by the competent judicial tribunal. We have heard in the Senate some quibbling about the nature of the tribunal, as to whether it was judicial or ministerial. It is to Senator
Wright’s credit that even he did not enter into that quibble, lt was a competent judicial tribunal. There is quibbling about whether Mr Pratt was guilty, was found not guilty, or otherwise. There is no doubt whatever that the magistrate dismissed all the charges against Mr Pratt.
The only matter that concerns us really is whether the Minister suggested that that citizen was guilty of the charge. We can leave aside the way in which the Minister entered upon this matter, the fact that he was asked nothing about Mr Pratt but about search warrants which had been issued against Mr Newton and his associates, on which search warrants entries and seizures were made on Mr Newton’s premises. That those entries and seizures were a misuse of the Crimes Act was a fair statement by Senator O’Byrne. because the warrants were improperly procured, as Mr Justice Fox found, not only for the reason advanced by the Minister but also for the reason stated by Senator Cohen in the Senate - that they were issued not for any particular offence, not to find evidence of any particular act but in general, that it was suspected that there might be offences against the Crimes Act. but not a particular offence. That is what Senator 0”Byrne asked about and it was about that matter that Senator Wright answered. Senator Wright was not asked the question, lt was directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) but it was answered by Senator Wright. When he had answered on that point he went on to bring Mr Pratt’s case into the matter although he had not been asked about it. But let us leave that aside, because the gravamen of the matter is that the Minister trampled on the right of a citizen. Let. us leave aside the question of whether he would be in contempt of court had he so acted outside Parliament. We are concerned with the right of a citizen, and it is the right of a citizen that is referred to in this motion of censure because the Minister suggested that a citizen was guilty of a charge which had been dismissed.
We know that the charges were dismissed, but the Minister suggested that the man was guilty. What else on earth is it when he says that there is not only evidence, but strong evidence, that Mr Pratt communicated the documents? That was the charge - communication. Everything else was admitted or accepted. The question was whether he communicated the documents. Senator Wright, representing the Attorney-General, stood in the Senate and said: ‘It is my opinion that there is not only evidence, but strong evidence, that he communicated’. Is not that the very kind of thing that a Crown Prosecutor would say in a court in urging, in suggesting, the guilt of an accused? Would he not say: T say to you, gentlemen, that there is strong evidence’? That is the submission he would make to the jury and that is the submission the Minister made to us. How can he pretend that he was merely saying - and he could have said and no-one would have objected: ‘I refute any question of impropriety. I refute any suggestion of any ulterior motive. It is the opinion of the Attorney-General and his advisers -that there was material upon which to institute proceedings. A court of justice has decided the matter and that is the end of it’?
Some of Senator Wright’s followers have suggested that it is not the end of the matter and that the Attorney-General could still file an ex officio indictment. What a terrible injustice Senator Wright commits when he comes into the Senate, knowing that a man may still have to face trial, and makes this kind of prejudicial statement invading the presumption of innocence to which every citizen is entitled. How can it properly be said, now that that has happened and in view of what he said last night, that he is fit to represent the AttorneyGeneral in the Senate? His conduct was bad enough in answering questions last week, but he added to it in his speech last night. We are here concerned with a citizen who has had charges against him dismissed. lt has been said by honourable senators opposite that there is a possibility that he will yet face a trial. In those circumstances, the Minister last night set out the evidence and then said:
Then we are asked to believe in miracles, that Mr Pratt did noi communicate that document, prepared for the Press and printed by the Press, to the Press.
Not only is the Minister suggesting guilt, he is saying that the man is guilty, that the only way he could not be guilty would be by a miracle. Is that not a statement for which the Minister deserves to be censured, if for nothing else? He compounded what he had done last week and made one of the worst statements that could possibly be made by a person who is supposed to represent justice. It is no wonder that the Attorney-General has not given a sign of sanctioning or approving conduct such as this. The Minister went on to make other statements, but they are only a repetition and a worsening of his previous statements.
The implications of his defence are the most terrible of all, because he has said: Look, I am in the position of an ordinary citizen. I can criticise any decision of a court of justice.’ Have honourable senators realised what that means? The Minister turned to a decision by a court in England dealing with contempt of court, something outside of Parliament. He tried to twist that into suggesting that in Parliament a Minister representing the Attorney-General can deal even with a man who has been acquitted. Let us leave aside the quibbles about whether there was an acquittal. The Minister did not restrict himself. He referred to any decision of a court of justice. So that is the basis upon which he put his defence to the Senate. He said that nothing was excluded, not even the acquittal. The Minister said: Even if a case were brought before a judge and jury and the man were acquitted, I can come here and question that. I can say that there was strong evidence and I can discuss it even though the Attorney-General and his representatives brought the citizen to trial and failed’.
What is Mr Pratt’s position in this? He was charged, he went to court, and the Attorney-General, eminent Queen’s Counsel, produced all the evidence that he could produce. Mr Pratt said: ‘If the occasion arises I would like a trial before a judge and jury’. However the magistrate, after hearing everything that the Crown had to bring, said: ‘I will dismiss these charges. There is no prima facie case. I do not know why the charges were brought. I dismiss all of them’. The magistrate ordered the Crown to pay $100 costs. So Mr Pratt did not even have a chance to state whatever defence he may have had. Is it fair dealing by those who represent justice in this community for the Minister to come here and say what he said? It is nothing to show that he was asked by a private senator for an opinion. How can that excuse the Attorney-General or his representative for throwing over board all propriety? I did not mean to mention the Attorney-General. I should not speak of him in the same breath as I do of the Minister for Works in relation to what has been done on this occasion.
I doubt whether there has been any Attorney-General in the long line of honourable Attorneys-General here and in other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations who would even contemplate doing what has been done by the Minister in this place. I challenge the Minister and all those who support him to produce any case in any parliament of the Commonwealth of Nations in which anything like this has been done by a Minister representing the Attorney-General. No-one has been able to produce any case from any of the numerous parliaments in the Commonwealth of Nations in which a Minister representing an Attorney-General, or an Attorney-General himself, has ever suggested in any parliament that a man was guilty even though the case against him had been dismissed by the court. Yet the Minister for Works in this Parliament claims the right to do so.
I think every honourable senator must be ashamed of the Minister’s behaviour and his statements in the Senate last night. Senator Turnbull’s remarks contained a lot of truth and it is to the credit of the Australia Party that on the first vote which is to be taken in the Senate since the Party has been represented here it will stand for civil rights and liberties. Despite what may happen on this vote we know that many senators in the Party to which the Minister belongs share the view that we hold and are disgusted at his behaviour. I ask those honourable senators who believe in the rights of the citizen to vote for this thoroughly well-deserved censure of the disgraceful conduct of the Minister for Works.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority .. .. 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The House of Representatives acquaints the Senate that in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966 Mr Nicholls, a member of the House of Representatives, has been appointed a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in place of Mr O’Connor, resigned.
Debate resumed from 12 August (vide page 49), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1969-70.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1969-70.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1970.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30th June 1970.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1970.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1969.
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics for Income Year 1966-67.
National Income and Expenditure, 1968-69.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) (8.20] - Australia has the talents and resources, the people and the wealth to make ours a great nation with a standard of living the envy of the world. Only 20 years of bad government could have brought us to the point where our resources and our industries are controlled from overseas while we cannot afford the basic needs of education, social welfare and health or the finance for the necessary services of State and local government.
This Budget does not meet our national needs. It provides some relief in a few areas and gives a measure of justice to some of our deprived citizens, but it perpetrates injustice and sharpens the inequalities that afflict this country. The Budget docs this at the expense of the middle and low income earners, while introducing new economic and social injustice. In our booming, affluent country dividends and benefits from our mineral wealth and expanding industry flow to overseas owners while the ordinary people pay heavy taxes to maintain a creaking system of social welfare. Our health scheme neglects the needs of the poor and the chronically ill and gives a poor cover to the ordinary worker at a cost he cannot afford. Education, faced with collapse on several fronts, receives from the Government a doubtful stimulant in one limb which will cause a severe reaction in other parts of the education body.
Today more than ever our people look to the Government for leadership and guidance. They are entitled to do so. They are entitled to leadership in the development of this nation and its resources to achieve national goals. What answer do they receive? The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) says: ‘Do not look to government. The Government does not believe in planning and in guidance. Look to the overseas owners and the mighty insurance companies which control our resources, our commerce and our industries, especially those in the expanding sectors of our economy’. In this way the Federal Government fails us all. National development is the duty of this Government. It should plan, initiate, guide and participate in development. The Government is a trustee for the nation. United by wise and courageous leadership, there will be no limit to the achievements of this nation. Australia is divided when it could well be united in pursuance of goals beneficial to all - higher productivity, higher wage rates, real social welfare, better education and efficient industry as the basis of effective defence.
Inflation distorts the whole face of this Budget. The increases in income and expenditure are not real; to a great extent they reflect only changes in the value of money. Inflation devalues wages, pensions and other money benefits. It corrodes all savings. The Government has accelerated inflation with measures such as sales tax which directly increase the cost structure by forcing up prices of household items as well as goods used throughout primary and secondary industry. The Government also has assisted inflation by its wilful omission to introduce and enforce effective laws against restrictive trade practices and for consumer protection. Workers have to convince industrial tribunals that wage increases are justified by a fall in the value of money or by increases in productivity. But the Government is reluctant to tackle price rigging, collusive tendering and the other restrictive practices which fuel the fires of inflation. Spending by governments - Federal, State and local - is inflated because of collusive tendering and price fixing by cartels. This in turn means higher Federal and State taxes and local rates.
Despite the exposure of these practices at least 8 years ago by Government appointed bodies and Ministers in the shape of the Commonwealth Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), they still continue. Individual consumers are wide open to unfair trade practices and unjustifiable price increases, with no effective remedy. The surge in costs is allowed to continue unrestrained because of the absence of laws which have existed overseas for decades. Until 1965 the Government stalled the introduction of any such laws. Then at the last moment it tried to weaken them still further. As honourable senators will recall, that attempt was defeated in the Senate. However, this is 1969, and we have seen no enforcement or other useful result of these Government trade laws. If the Government wished to curb inflation in the interests of those dependent on wages, pensions or savings or on primary or secondary industry, it would see that these practices - admitted by all to be wrong - were eradicated.
It is true that the Budget has not increased rates of taxation. But the Government is doing nothing to stop inflation. This increases the real impact of taxation on all except the highest income earners. We here understand this terrible injustice. If costs increase by 10% and the citizen receives a wage or income increase of 10%, under progressive rates of income taxation without any change in the law taxation increases by more than 10%. So the citizen is not even square; he falls behind. That is an injustice accepted as such by the Government. But does the Government correct it? No. So, by inflation, under these laws admitted lo be unfair by the Treasurer who refuses to correct them, all our income earners except the very highest are amongst the most heavily taxed in the world.
The increases in pensions are a measure of justice but partial only, with the benefit much eaten away by the accompanying inflationary pressure in the Budget. The liberalisation of the means test is welcome. The opportunity to retain some of the benefits of earning more will add to the dignity of those affected, as will the repatriation benefits and the increased payments to the States for housing and war service homes. The free health insurance benefits for low income family groups, unemployment and sickness beneficiaries and migrants for their first 2 months here are welcome measures of social justice.
However welcome these are, they are no substitute for true social security. The Australian Labor Party programme, as spelt out by Mr Whitlam, will provide that real social security. This will be achieved by a programme designed to reach deeply into the great sectors of poverty in Australia and to give this country’s perennial battlers a financially adequate and dignified way of life. The Labor Party’s social welfare plan will restore to Australia the reputation wc once had as a social laboratory. Labor will create an ordered, intelligent social welfare system immeasurably superior to the ragged patchwork quilt which cannot bear the most superficial examination.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cormack) - The courtesy is extended both to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. They may refer to copious notes. 1 shall allow Senator Murphy to continue.
– What does this Budget do for the 1,000,000 people in our community who do not share this country’s affluence, the little people for whom each pay day or pension day is only the doorway to another week of financial anxiety? Even though the Budget contains improvements in the present health scheme it remains a broken down wreck, totally inadequate for Australia in the 1970s. It is nothing more than a crumbling facade masking a system which has injustice and waste built into it. lt is under attack from all sides except those with a vested interest in its continuance. lt cannot stay intact much longer. Australians are crying out for the scheme which has been researched so well and presented so powerfully throughout the electorate by Mr Whitlam. Labors scheme will be more efficient and therefore will cost less than the present ramshackle scheme. The Government is acutely aware of its worth, and, if we were not so close to a general election, Labor’s scheme would be under a take-over threat from the Government.
Mr Acting Deputy President, the Defence vote falls 5% in 1969 money, or about 10% in real terms per head of population. Last year we spent more per head on the military vote than most countries in the western world except the United States of America, Britain and France. We still pay for the ill-fated F1 1 1. It may fly but it will not conform to the original specifications. Even more, its purchase is no longer justifiable as fitting into the pattern of American purchases of a thousand or so of the same planes for use throughout Asia and the Pacific, with ground equipment and spares easily available everywhere. Instead we may be faced with acquisition of a discontinued line. Australia has every right to cancel on the grounds that the United Stales of
America has not itself adhered to its contemplated purchases which have been heavily reduced with the navy version cancelled. The security of Australia must no longer be based on the illusion that purchase of military hardware from others will secure our defence. Military security depends ultimately on industrial strength, the efficiency of secondary and tertiary industry. Except when anticipating an emergency - which we do not, as is evident from the latest defence statement by the Government - to purchase military equipment instead of increasing our industrial efficiency is to purchase immediate military strength at the expense of our military potential. In this respect it Ls better to follow the example of Japan than of Indonesia. For defence we should encourage the building of ships and aircraft, electronics, data processing - all that add to our industrial strength, especially in its military application. This approach has been tried and proven by Sweden. We need mobility and preparedness, backed by technology and industrial strength.
The Budget provision for private schools and nothing for Government schools is unjust. The Budget provides $35 for primary students in private schools - nothing for those in Government schools. It provides S50 for those secondary students in private schools - nothing for those in Government schools. On this policy we reject the approach of the Government. Our policy is crystal clear. The Australian Labor Party stands-
– Crystal clear! It is empty.
– It is crystal clear, as honourable senators on the Government side will come to realise as a result of this step taken by the Government. Our policy is Government schools first. The Labor policy provides that for the purpose of recommending federal grants there should be an Australian schools commission to examine and determine the need of students in all Government and non-Government primary, secondary and technical schools. The Commission must have regard to the following needs and priorities: Firstly, the primary obligation of Governments to provide and maintain Government school systems of the highest standard open to all children. That means - and let there be no doubt about it - Government schools first. It means Government schools of the highest standard. Our platform sets forth elsewhere the obligation of the State to provide such a universal free secular system of education open to all citizens. After that the commission shall have regard to numbers enrolled, the need to bring all schools up to acceptable standards and to ensure optimum use of resources.
Even if this Budget amount provided by the Government be regarded as an emergency grant it is still unjust and contrary to the policy Of the Australian Labor Party which earlier this month determined that any such grant shall be such as to give Government schools a sum that is not less per student than any grant made to nonGovernment schools. The Government’s proposal is a bitter pill to the parents of those in Government schools. It dashes the hopes of millions of our citizens for a decent education for their children. True, it provides payment for those in private schools. Even here it does so on an inequitable basis, equal to rich and poor private schools and therefore inequitable as between them. Nothing to Government schools. How can one justify payments per student to rich private schools such as the Kings School or St Joseph’s equal to those in the poorer private schools and nothing to Government schools? The analysis of the education crisis and our solution to it will be presented in depth to the Senate by the Labor shadow minister for education and science, Senator Cohen, Q.C.
The rural outlook is clouded by the persistent lack of national policies in land, water use, as well as fuel, and by the collapse of the price support schemes, notably in wheat. The Government has dodged providing in the Budget for the future of the wheat farmers. Like the ostrich it thinks that if it will not recognise the alarming spectacle of a world collapse of wheat prices then it will go away. It will not go away. The problem must be faced and dealt with. The Budget is not a fair accounting in that it fails to provide for the contingent liability which is on all sides expected as a result of the world glut and the necessity for the Government to pay into the wheat stabilisation fund.
Commonwealth-State finances are still chronically unbalanced. They are confused by unsolved issues of responsibility. They need clear demarcation, which is not beyond the wit of statesmen if they have the will. Define the functions and the division of finances will follow. The States should give up certain fields to the Commonwealth - for example, universities and teacher training. The Commonwealth should use the States as agents in other fields. We should consider independent grants to local authorities as a percentage of their budgets. State governments are denied the finance necessary for their functions. The needs of local government are practically beneath the Government’s contempt. Employment is high; demand presses against supply. On the surface, the economy appears strong, but is this superficial impression correct? It is not. The economy is unstable; we are not paying our way. Even with our yet untapped mineral resources and with our great pastoral, agricultural and industrial resources, as a nation we are operating at a deficit. Economically, we are in trouble; we are too dependent on changeable economic factors.
The record of our current account continues to be dangerously unbalanced. Is that an exaggeration? Let us examine the accounts. These show that the balance of current account, which combines trade and invisibles such as freight, insurance and travel, has been adverse to Australia for years. For the financial year ending 30 June 1962 the balance was minus $2m; for the financial year ending 1963 it was minus $469m; for 1964 it was minus S53m; for 1965 it was minus $777m; for 1966 it was minus $880m; for 1967 it was minus $654m; for 1968 it was minus $1,1 25m; and for 1969, the financial year which has just ended, it was $ 1,000m approximately. The figure has not been finally assessed but it is over $990m.
– That is shocking.
– Yes, it is shocking, and one can see the effect on honourable senators in this chamber. It is alarming. Capital inflow from the United States and elsewhere has been necessary to prop up this financial structure or it would collapse. The inflow largely is not for development but to cover our deficit in trade and other transactions. Under the Liberal-Country Party Government, Australia is not paying its way, and has not done so for many years. Should we be alarmed when our adverse balance gets to the order of S 1,000m? On 2nd January 1968 former President Johnson, in a message to the American nation on the balance of payments, warned of the dangers to the United States as well as to the world of a deficit of S3,500m to $4,000m, their highest since 1960. Of this, $ 1,000m could be attributed to excess capital investment abroad so that the then current position was not quite so bad. Referring to the dollar, he said:
In the final analysis, its strength abroad depends on our earning abroad about as many dollars as we send abroad.
The same applies to Australia. The United States was vitally concerned at an adverse balance of payments of less than $4,000m even though it contained outgoing capital investment. We, with one-twentieth of the population of the United States, have had a deficit on current account of Si, 000m and over. Earlier this year, at the Australian Finance Conference, the President of the First National Bank stated the determination of the United States to reduce its adverse balance; the United States authorities regarded it as intolerable. Per head, we are at least five times worse off actually because of the effect of capital outflow in the case of the United States. Our position is much worse. Yet the Government subtly soothes us with the Treasurer’s words:
Whether the net inflow of capital will balance the deficit of current account is difficult to assess.
In plain terms, the Government does not know whether it can borrow or sell enough assets to balance our annual loss on trade and invisibles. To borrow or sell assets to balance current losses is only putting off the evil day. We have been warned against this by Labor’s shadow Treasurer, Mr Crean, and even by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen). What are the results? Let me remind honourable senators of what was prophesied by the Deputy Prime Minister in 1963. He said:
I am much in favour of some overseas investment in Australia, but I do not want this country to be dependent on it In that case you have lost your real freedom.
A little later he said:
What does concern me is the fact that due to the inadequacy of our export earnings we are now geared to a rate of expenditure that makes it necessary to have a tremendous capital inflow.
It was not for development. Those are my words. His words were: ‘due to the inadequacy of our export earnings’. I return to what Mr McEwen said. He continued:
If you become dependent for your growth upon the decision of overseas people to invest, or to refrain from investing, then the development of your own country is no longer completely in your own hands.
Those words were true. It is not in our hands. The agricultural and pastoral industries and even our lands are passing into overseas hands. About 40% of our entire secondary industries, especially the strategic ones, are owned and controlled by overseas corporations. More and more of our mineral resources are owned by others. Australians can rightly be proud of our resources, but we should be ashamed and angered that the Government has allowed them to be given away. Less than 2 years ago off-shore assets of natural gas and oil owned by this Commonwealth, held on behalf of the people, were handed over to private companies, largely overseas-owned, for a pittance in royalties. The value of these assets was at least tens of thousands of millions of dollars and perhaps hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars. Honourable senators have heard of the estimates made by Mr Wentworth, who is now Minister for Social Services, and an expert in these matters. Then there are the resources of copper, of aluminium, of iron ore and of beach minerals now largely overseasowned.
The consequences are clear and simple but calamitous to this nation and to our people. These are the disturbing factors. Firstly, the most important decisions as to our development or non-development are made not by our Government but by the great overseas corporations, as predicted by Mr McEwen. Secondly, there is not enough money for essential public works and services. The Government has allowed the exploitation of our resources and has allowed our wealth to fall so much under mostly overseas control that, despite our natural wealth, more and more income goes to others. By various devices, taxation and other means, the revenues are so reduced that the Government cannot afford to meet its responsibilities. Even with the national revenues as they are, we claim that for social justice there must be a re-direction of expenditure, a correction of injustices, a better scheme for health and real security on retirement. These are overdue. The overwhelming, the paramount defect in the management of this country is the disposition of public assets, the abdication of public responsibility for the development of resources. That is why there is not enough money for medical and hospital care, not enough for education, not enough to maintain our sick, our unemployed and our retired at a decent standard of living, not enough for our roads, our dams, and our public works, and not enough for the States or for local government. Let us emulate other countries such as Italy.
Only a few years ago the Italian Government established a government corporation just like Qantas or Trans-Australia Airlines to exploit and utilise Italy’s resources of oil and gas in the national interest. Its spectacular success in drilling, pipelines and by-products industries provided employment in distressed areas of Italy. It broke the fertiliser monopoly and reduced prices to farmers. It set up petrol stations over Europe, ft then co-operated in partnership with other nations in North Africa to help develop their resources. It provided great sums of revenue and profit as well as great national industries for Italy. I understand that this Italian corporation was the successful tenderer for the construction of the pipeline to convey gas from Bass Strait.
Why can not we ourselves, alone, or in partnership with other governments, or even private enterprise, develop some of these fabulous resources so that we as a nation can continue to own them and so that a substantial part of the profit and not a trifle is available to pay for our national needs? Then we would be able to pay for education, for health, for social services and for national development without further taxation of our over-taxed middle and lower income earners. Only then can we embark on the goals which should be but are not dealt with in this Budget. These are the reconstruction of our cities, the regeneration of the railways, shipping and other means of transport, programmes for water use and for land use and the realisation of the right of everyone to a standard of living adequate to the health and dignity of himself and his family, including medical care and proper social welfare.
Now for a few comments on the functions and worth of this Budget debate, lt is in many ways a charade. There is a universal demand for institutions to function effectively. The demand for Parliament to do so is the same as the demand of students for the universities to work properly. It is wrong that the Budget is brought down after the financial year has started and not before, as is done in the United States and elsewhere. That fact emphasises that Parliament has lost real supervision and control of the country’s finances. No matter what argument is put up as to the disposition of even moderate amounts of money, no government will accept it. Even faced with irrefutable arguments that, say, $100,000 should go from one sphere to another, Parliament has so far abdicated its role that it allows every executive government to treat any alteration in even insignificant dispositions of money as a vote of no confidence.
This doctrine has brought about a distortion of the whole of Parliament, which was established to control the allocation of finance. Now the most that it does with a Budget is to see that there is no misappropriation of moneys. There is full discussion of what should be done, but Parliament takes no part in planning and never alters the Budget, not even one line, not even by lc. The Budget is always a fait accompli. Intelligent legislators and intelligent electors will not for long endure this hollow ritual. For the reasons I have given, which will be amplified by other senators, 1 move:
At end of motion add: and that the Senate is of opinion that the Budget is inadequate in that -
it increases taxation and health and housing costs for families;
it makes no considered and comprehensive approach to the needs of all schools;
it ignores the problems of capital cities and regional centres;
it defers further development projects and urgent rural measures; and
it neglects industries based on Australian natural resources and defence requirements’.
We trust that this Budget will be the last Liberal Budget the people of Australia will have to endure.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) ended on a very strong note. He imagined that this would be the last Budget to be brought down by this coalition Government which has been in office now for some 20 years. I am confident that the Leader of the Opposition and those who support him will agree with me that tonight Senator Murphy, by his speech, did nothing more than spell out a complete blueprint for socialism. He criticised, as he is entitled to do, every proposal put forward by the Government. Not every proposal would be endorsed by every honourable senator, even on the Government side, but the Leader of the Opposition did not favour anything that had been put forward. Nowhere in his speech or in his amendment does he give credit for what has been achieved over the years by this coalition government. I reject entirely the amendment which he has submitted. Take the first criticism the amendment makes of the Budget - that it increases taxation and health and housing costs for families. Every honourable senator on both sides of the chamber knows that this is not a correct assessment of what is provided in the Budget. At the outset, I should like to express regret that the Budget Papers contain no indication that the Federal Government intends to introduce into Commonwealth financial management the process known internationally as programme budgeting. On this point, I refer to a statement made by the President of the United States of America as far back as 1965. In that statement, he said: 1 have just concluded a breakfast meeting with the Cabinet and with the heads of Federal agencies and I am asking each of them to immediately begin to introduce a very new and very revolutionary system of planning, and programming and budgeting throughout the vast Federal Government so that, through the tools of American management, the full promise of a finer life can be brought to every American at the lowest possible cost.
Under this new system each Cabinet and agency head will set up a very special staff of experts who, using the most modern methods of programme analysis, will define the goals of their department for the coming year and once these goals are established, this system will permit us to find a most effective and least costly alternative to achieving American goals.
This programme is designed to obtain three major objectives: it will help us by new ways to do jobs faster, to do jobs better, and to do jobs less expensively. It will ensure a much sounder judgment through more accurate information, pinpointing those things that we ought to do more, spotlighting those things that we ought to do less.
It will make our decision-making process as uptodate, I think, as our space-exploring programmes.
The President went on to indicate that a system under which a programme is laid out for ensuing years will vary from that which we have before us at present, that is, an annual budgeting process. Indeed, there is a necessity to lay down a programme within Federal government agencies as to what we are aiming at and as to what moneys are needed to achieve those aims. An American gentleman named Charles Schulz has indicated that the new planning and programming system will be capable of making a greater contribution to efficiency in the allocation of resources and thus will increase the benefits to be derived from the Government’s many activities. He said it will provide the information and analysis needed by government managers as the basis for an improved ability to make rational choices amongst the alternatives offered. Although there is a vast amount to be discussed in relation to this matter, it is evident to me that, in regard to our financial relationships with the States and municipalities, there is a definite need for a real reassessment of the allocation of financial resources within the Commonwealth. This reassessment needs to be done on more than just a Commonwealth basis.
Some aspects of the 1969-70 Budget are of particular importance. The Budget contains proposals which will take this country to a general election, as emphasised by the manner in which Senator Murphy spoke. The Budget lays emphasis on government expenditure into the coming decade which I believe will see an enormous change over the entire face of Australia. When we consider what has been achieved within the last 10 years we can only imagine what can be done in Australia in the ensuing 10 years. I believe that we face a most exciting future, provided we have sound government. This has been demonstrated over the past years. In general the Budget reflects the sound consideration of a sound government. I feel confident that emphasis has been given to important matters dealing with social welfare problems, an emphasis which Senator Murphy attempted to decry. Senator Murphy spelt out for the Senate what the Labor Party would do in the field of social welfare. [Quorum formed.] I feel confident that in the Budget emphasis has been given lo matters of public concern.
Social welfare, which was mentioned by Senator Murphy, has under the hand of the present Prime Minister, John Gorton, become a first and important consideration.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said in his Budget speech that assistance would be given in social welfare in a manner that would encourage self help, thrift and provision for the future. Although these requirements were not spelt out by the Opposition, I stand in my place and say 1 believe that the considerations mentioned by the Treasurer will be reflected in future thinking on social welfare. I endorse these tenets and 1 hope that in the future the Government will act to ensure that these aims are achieved. Repatriation benefits will be increased. I believe that Australia offers far too little of its capacity to those who, to their own detriment, are prepared to serve or are required to serve in our defence forces. I heartily endorse the proposed increases in repatriation pensions and other benefits and I hope that they will receive a continuing scrutiny from the Government until they reach the point where the contributions by the people of Australia to those in our defence forces hurt, financially speaking.
In the area of health we see benefits flowing from the Budget to the less fortunate in the community and to certain groups of people who will be receiving free health insurance. The education allocations are most acceptable, although in all probability they do not go so far in any area as one would wish. In its pronouncements generally on social welfare the Government has demonstrated itself to be most sympathetic. I am proud that when the present Prime Minister first came into office he spelt out what his policy would be. The provisions for primary producers in the 1969-70 Budget are to an extent acceptable. It is evident that the Government has a strong and continuing recognition of the importance of our export industries. I propose to spell out several of the measures which I consider to be of extreme importance. Perhaps the greatest breakthrough in primary industry has been achieved through offering graduated relief from Commonwealth estate duties. I believe that all who are engaged in primary production and who over the years have seen the breakup of estates due to the requirements of both
State and Federal estate duties are looking closely at these provisions in the Budget. A commencement has been made and we can be assured that from now on there will be steady progress in this regard.
J believe that the Commonwealth should quit the field of estate duty. Undoubtedly difficulties would be experienced in making such a decision, but the course has been commenced. Although the exemptions for primary producers are only slight so far, I. know that the Treasurer sees this as being a continuing matter. The Government’s contribution for wool research and promotion is intended to reduce wool growers’ costs. There has been a demand for a reduction in costs for wool growers, and although the reduction is slight, the Budget does afford wool growers some relief. The contribution by growers of 1% for wool research and promotion will now be met directly by the Commonwealth. This is a significant contribution and will represent a saving of approximately $1.40 per bale for the producer. The increase of 50% in the superphosphate bounty from $8 to $12 is a major contribution. I suggest that even honourable senators opposite would not wish to see the bounty reduced. I do not think the Australian Labor Party has ever suggested that it would be part of its policy to do so. Taxation concessions are of great importance, and in the Budget there is direct encouragement for producers to provide structural improvements for water, fodder storage and items such as tanks, silos and hay sheds. Expenditure on these items will be fully deductible in the current year or in the year in which the expenditure is incurred. There are many other areas of encouragement to sectors of primary industry by way of drought bonds and other matters. This legislation, when introduced, will give an opportunity for further discussion on this matter.
Tonight I wish to devote may time in this Budget discussion to commenting on matters of particular concern to the dairy industry. I note in my own State of Victoria that the industry ranks as one of great significance. No other industry can claim to aid decentralisation of industry or of people as does dairying. Some 200,000 people in my State alone gain direct full employment in dairying activities. Many more are indirectly assisted. Many industries are enabled to survive in country and in city due to a healthy dairying industry. I cannot speak more highly of the industry. The insinuations of people who suggest that the dairy industry in Australia is inefficient are undoubtedly untrue.
– The Minister said that.
– The Minister did not say that. The honourable senator treats the truth lightly. No matter in what business a person may be engaged - whether a person is a parliamentarian or a pawnbroker, a stockbroker or a shopkeeper - we find that there are efficient and inefficient persons in industry. There always will be. Whilst circumstances make the requirements of countries very different, the methods used by governments to assist milk production vary considerably. It is clear that certain overseas countries give far greater encouragement to dairying than does the Australian Government. Australian dairy farmers have to be businesslike and efficient to live within the ambit of the everincreasing cost of production. Indeed, this industry in ali its facets now rates fourth in value of production amongst rural industries, exceeded only by wool, wheat and meat. This not only demonstrates the importance of support for primary industry in the national interest but also highlights the prime importance of dairying.
I have been prompted on several occasions to alert the Australian public to the manner in which certain sections of the margarine industry have sought over a number of years to break the Australian dairying industry. I mention this today because I believe that there are millions of dollars poised to be spent in an attempt to put a story to the public - a story which is full of doubt - to support some sections of the margarine industry and, at the same time, to attempt to decry the Australian dairying industry. I said ‘some sections of the margarine industry*. It is quite notable that all sections of that industry are not involved. Indeed, some respected companies and business organisations have sought to make clear the fact that they abhor the efforts of what today runs under the label of the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association.
Honourable senators may recall the widespread activities of the Mrs Jones campaign.
That was the initial conspiracy. It would not be unfair to call it such because the company concerned, Marrickville Holdings Ltd, conspired to break the law and did so for a number of years. Honourable senators from New South Wales who are trying to interject would be aware of this fact. Whilst breaking the law, that company, through its spokesmen, broke most considerations of decency in its attack on those who had built the Australian dairying industry. It was when the truth about the edible oil seed industry was handled so lightly by Marrickville that the company, Meggett Ltd - and that is a respected company - found it necessary to buy advertising space in daily newspapers to dissociate itself from Mr Crebbin and the Marrickville company.
Well, the dairy industry survived that attack. It was an untruthful and an unfair campaign. But the same forces at the moment are reassembling, Mr Acting Deputy President, and the first thrusts have been made. The Victorian Government took action before the unlimited money available to cheat the public took significant effect. I plead with all State governments and all honourable senators to follow the lead of the Victorian Government before this particular type of parasite leeches the Australian industry. I plead that they legislate: 1 . That cooking margarine which contains 90% or more of beef fat and/ or mutton fat - that is, animal fats - be not sold as a table spread; 2. That customers be not misled by dubious advertising and presentation but will know exactly what they are buying; 3. That additives which attempted to make this dripping look like, taste similar to and have an aroma of butter - in short, misleading packaging and advertising - be not tolerated.
This second campaign commenced firstly with advertising for, amongst other things, a political lobbyist at a salary - members of the Australian Labor Party will be very interested in this matter - of $25,000 per year. It was this appointment which finally placed a Mr Dawson at the head of the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association. Previously, Mr Dawson had been a well-respected Australian citizen who held government appointments and had demonstrated himself to bc a sound businessman. But the hip pocket, I believe, does talk and Mr Dawson says that this is what makes him speak for the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association.
In the AM MA, there are three major companies. Let me say quickly that I believe that, in this country, people and business must be free to pursue their affairs as they see fit provided that they act within due bounds of fair play and within the law. They must be given freedom so that profits are maximised. Overseas funds and overseas knowledge of business techniques are welcomed here provided that those who control the funds act within due bounds of fair play and within the law. Should they perform beyond these bounds, there can be no cry if public attention is focused on their activities. It is interesting that the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association consists of the Australian company, Provincial Traders Ltd with the big cogs in the wheel, I believe, being Proctor and Gamble Ltd and Unilever Ltd. Marrickville Holdings Ltd apparently has an agreement with Proctor and Gamble Ltd, which is an American based world wide company of great strength. The appearance of Unilever in this direct confrontation follows the attempt that it made to edge into the spread’ market. lt was this attempt, made through a subsidiary, which resulted in the Victorian Government passing an amending Bill preventing the subterfuges involved in misrepresenting a cheap tallow based product as the equivalent of butter. Before this Bill was passed, Unilever ran an expensive campaign against the legislation. This involved full page advertisements to persuade people to register protests. Unilever culminated the campaign by letters to all parliamentarians claiming that a significant number of protests had come from the electorates of individual members. This was described in the Victorian Parliament by one Liberal member as ‘political blackmail’. 1 warn honourable senators that similar attempts may be made to influence them during this campaign.
After the Victorian Government had passed its legislation, and fearing that this lead would be followed in other States, Unilever came out as an active and major partner in AMMA, An AMMA major objective, as announced by Mr Dawson, is the removal of all restrictions on the manufacture and marketing of margarine. Mr
Dawson has also been freely quoted as saying in the same context: ‘If the dairying industry gets killed as a result then that’s not my worry’.
Now, let me express my own deeply held view, lt is a view held by most Australians. I oppose the aims of any person or power which attempts to harm our Australian industry, lt is important to look at the senior partners in AMMA, their overseas affiliations and their commercial operating methods. Unilever (Australia) Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever Ltd, a great Anglo-Dutch combine with major interests in soap, margarine and detergents. Marrickville Holdings Ltd markets some Proctor and Gamble soaps and detergents in Australia. Proctor and Gamble Ltd is a huge United States based, but internationally oriented, organisation in similar fields to Unilever. ,
In the United Kingdom both Unilever and Proctor and Gamble have close working arrangements. They may have similar arrangements elsewhere in the world. These two giants have been the subject of inquiry by the United Kingdom Monopolies Commission as to the extent of their agreements and the methods by which they gained and hold 90% of the United Kingdom detergent market. The Monopolies Commission report, presented pursuant to section 9 of the Monopolies and Restrictive- Practices Act of 1948, was ordered to be printed on 3rd August 1966. It should be read as a document of commercial importance. The report is contained in over 100 pages, lt criticises the high net profit margin on certain products the market for which these large companies now have in their control. lt pointed up a profit on an historic cost basis on capita] employed in one case of between 46.8% and 23.4% during the first 5 years of the 1960s. Proctor and Gamble’s profits on the same basis were between 60.2% and a low of 41.6%. Proctor and Gamble was the highest percentage profit earner. I am referring in this context to the household detergent business. At page 43 paragraph 121 the report states:
We have criticised the policies of both companies and found that they operate against the public interest in certain respects.
Mr President, I plead with the management and directors of those companies: Please do not bring those management practices into this country. Whether the advice is heeded is yet to be experienced. The address of the Chairman of Unilever Ltd to the last meeting of shareholders in London and The Hague was most interesting. I refer honourable senators to its contents. The report refers to the accusations of deception in advertising. To this extent I have some fear df the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association campaign. It is no schoolboy move. Money is its motivation, and to hell with the Australian dairy industry.
What is to happen if the AM MA campaign should gain any mileage? If the butter and margarine market were busted wide open by removal of all restrictions on margarine there is little doubt that the two main overseas contenders for this market would soon gain control. In line with efforts overseas they could and would promote in a manner that the Australian companies could not match, as has been demonstrated already in my home State of Victoria. They could cut prices to an extent that they would control the market. Once effective opposition were eliminated, prices would quickly rise and another sector of our food industry would be in overseas hands. Consumers would have to repay the brief benefits obtained from cut prices. The dairy industry would have lost a substantial part of the local butter market and would be grievously affected. If all the profits did not go to the overseas giants, a company that was at variance with the law for so long would unfairly gain benefits.
The dairy industry can claim to be particularly effective. Is there any other industry iti Australia which in respect of its major product - in this case milk - can point to a rise in price of about 25% in 16 years whilst the consumer price index has risen by 48% and average weekly earnings by over 120%? The dairy industry is an Australian industry of which we should be proud and can justly be proud. The AMMA through Mr Dawson says: ‘Look at the price of New Zealand butter. It is cheaper than Australian butter. The Australian dairy industry should be forced to compete’. Mr Dawson acts the role of an advocate who hides the facts in his hip pocket. He should know that the New Zealand Government very properly restricts the manufacture and sale of margarine. Perhaps New Zealand is more business like or efficient. Its Government issues licences for the manufacture of cooking margarine and has legislation to restrict its packaging, colouring and flavouring so that consumers are not deceived.
The AMMA tries to sell its product by referring to the health quality of margarine. There is very much talk but no proof. The National Heart Foundation, when referring to saturated fats and the possible link with blood cholesterol levels, said on 23rd March 1969:
These facts, however, do not conclusively demonstrate that a diet rich in animal fats will cause coronary heart disease.
I noted in a newspaper article on 9th July this year that the Australian Margarine Manufacturers Association through Mr Dawson said that Japanese people outlive Australians, the suggestion being that Australians eat more butter. I have it as fact that New Zealanders outlive Australians and New Zealand basically places an embargo on margarine. I think it would be untruthful of me to attempt to follow Mr Dawson’s reference in reverse.
I now refer briefly to the publicity given by the AMMA to the idea that the Australian vegetable oilseeds industry is being repressed, or as Mr Dawson has put it, is shackled. This is utter nonsense and is untruthful. Of the edible vegetable oils involved in the issue, in 1968-69 Australia produced 16,459 tons against a local market of 47,704 tons. The only locally produced oil not absorbed by the market is a particular cotton seed oil, a by-product of the industry, but priced way above imported oil after duty has been paid.
Undoubtedly Marrickville Margarine Pty Ltd once pegged its campaign to remove the quota to the alleged limitless potential of safflower growing. It even got an independent report from W. D. Scott and Associates to back its claim. The result was that a lot of disillusioned Queensland farmers who disregarded the warnings of agricultural experts about the risk aspects of the crop found themselves in trouble. I believe that farmers in Australia must increasingly take into account world factors in the supply of products which they may commence as a new endeavour. It is unquestioned that the Australian product should be given access to the Australian market. My question is: How long would it be, if all restrictions were lifted, before the big overseas companies controlled the trade? Purchase price of the basic stock would soon be the factor. I doubt that the cotton seed of Mr Dawson or any other person would bring a fair return on the local market. I congratulate the State governments which have already acted and I urge all honourable senators to encourage their respective State governments to follow the lead of the Victorian Government in this matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Earlier this evening Senator Branson drew my attention to standing order 406 relating to senators reading their speeches. My ruling at that stage was that courtesy should be extended to the Leader of the Opposition, particularly in the context of speeches in a debate on the Budget. 1 suggest to honourable senators that this is not to be taken as a method of conducting debate in the future.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Yes, as the Leader of an acknowledged Party in the Parliament.
– The Budget which we are discussing was brought down in the House of Representatives last week by the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon). lt contains some quite new provisions and changes and some notable omissions. I propose first to deal with what it contains and later with those areas which warrant attention but have been ignored. The most notable and alarming feature of the Budget is the 5% reduction in defence expenditure which included (a) an $87m reduction in overseas defence expenditure, and (b) large reductions in Navy, Army and Air Force equipment purchases. Despite this big fall in the amount of money devoted to the defence of this country the Treasurer had the hide and the audacity to say that it does not amount to a reduction in our defence effort. 1 do not know how he can reconcile that statement with the plain indisputable figures contained in the Budget with regard to defence expenditure. Few people will be or have been fooled by the Treasurer’s statement, for they recognise it to be untrue and ridiculous. In retrospect the reduced expenditure can be seen as the logical extension of the earlier flirtation of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) with the fortress Australia approach to Australia’s defence. However, that flirtation has now developed into a period of intense infatuation. I. trust that for Australia’s good the Prime Minister will see the error of his ways before it is too late.
What has made this reduced defence expenditure more alarming is that it comes only 6 weeks after a warning issued by no less than the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) of Russia’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean area. The Minister saw fit, when addressing a party of Liberal candidates, to point out the rapid increase in Russia’s interest in this area and to warn them, and Australia generally, of the need to do something effective to counter this influence. It has also come at a time when we are only 2 years away from Britain’s planned total withdrawal from South East Asia. In addition there is growing talk of reduced United States involvement in the area. Those three factors - firstly, the growing Russian influence in the Indian Ocean area; secondly, Britain’s planned withdrawal after 1971; and thirdly, the resurgence of United States isolationism - all point to increased defence expenditure, not reduced defence expenditure. Those factors, I repeat, would justify increased expenditure, wisely spent, on the defence of this country.
The Government, through its reduced defence expenditure, has defied logic and good sense. It has moved in the direction of the isolationist Australian Labor Party, yet there is logic behind the isolationism of the Australian Labor Party. It is represented by a weak leader, and Communist influence through the trade unions. But there is no logic behind the Government’s change of position. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has retained its position on the political scene. It is the Government which has moved. Australia’s defence forces are woefully weak. That is indisputable and undeniable. They are not even self sufficient. They- do not have the helicopters, the planes or the artillery for fighting modem war and would be incapable of operating in Vietnam. What is the position today? As I have said previously, we depend on the United States for helicopters and, in fact, for all the equipment we need in Vietnam.
– The United States is pulling out.
– We shall see. There is no timetable on that. Australia’s defence forces need this equipment urgently so that they can stand on their own feet, or at least be in their own helicopters and not in someone else’s. The Royal Australian Air Force lacks any modern ground support plane. The Royal Australian Navy lacks any Indian Ocean capacity. The strength of Australia’s armed forces is much too weak having regard to both the defence problem we face and the capacity of the Australian economy. Yet what does the Gorton Government do? It slashes defence spending. It actually reduced the defence capacity of this country by cutting $60m off the defence vote. Spending on naval construction has been cut by $ 10.2m, on purchases of naval aircraft by $.6m and on the purchase of stores by S.5m.
The Army’s allocation for arms and equipment has been cut by $22. 4m and expenditure on bases and accommodation by $1.5m. Expenditure on purchases of aircraft by the RAAF has been cut by $73. 5m and on base facilities by $6.4m. Expenditure by the Department of Supply on research at the Weapons Research Establishment and the Defence Research and Development Laboratories has been cut by $2. 3m. The only significant increases are in wages and salaries, and even those have been kept much too low having regard to grave shortages of manpower and poor morale in the Services due to lagging pay. In absolute money terms the defence vote is the lowest for 3 years. The amount spent in 1967-68 was $1,1 15m; in 1968-69 it was $1,1 65m and in 1969-70 it will be $1,1 04m. The allocation of funds for defence this year is the lowest proportion of the total Commonwealth Budget for 5 years. In 1965-66 it was 15% of the Commonwealth Budget; in 1966-67 it was 17.3%; in 1967-68 it was 19% and in 1968-69 it was 17.8%. This year defence is budgeted at a mere 15.8% of the total. The trend is very clear. The Gorton Government is just not serious about defence. It is prepared even to allow the modest enough defence build up of its predecessors, the Menzies and Holt governments, to fade out through financial starvation.
When I speak and urge and appeal for greater expenditure in the field of defence I am conscious of the necessity of the money appropriated under that heading being spent wisely and economically. Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case today. I feel that there is a measure of waste in the expenditure of defence funds, and a perusal of the AuditorGeneral’s Report will confirm and substantiate what I have said. One newspaper this morning - I think it was the Sydney Daily Telegraph’ - directed attention to the fact that two Navy search and rescue craft which had been purchased for $160,387 were not able to operate in open water and had experienced operating difficulties when brought to Sydney Harbour. It was proved that the craft were of little or no value and they were returned to Garden Island where they are out of action. Parts could not be obtained in Australia for the vessels. That is sinful waste and it cannot he justified. If there is much of this going on we are not getting value for the amount of money we appropriate for defence, and those responsible for the administration of the relevant departments must stand charged with neglect if these wasteful methods and misguided contracts and purchases are undertaken. They should not be tolerated because the taxpayers are in no mood or in any position to be wasting money in this way, particularly when the Government is so slow to recognise the need for our adequate defence.
The Government talks blithely of beginning design studies of replacements for the present destroyers as though there was no need to add to the strength of the fleet. lt talks of replacements for the Mirage fighter in the late 1970s as though there was no need for ground support transport planes and helicopters. It proposes to recondition some dockyards in Sydney Harbour. That is great news for the undefended Western Australians! Australia must have enough defence to make it worth no-one’s while to take us on. We are sensible enough to know that with twelve million people we could not withstand invasion by some big power or powers. At least we should be self-reliant in the matter of defence. Our defences should be strong enough to enable us to withstand any onslaught or attempt to invade this country at least long enough to enable some major ally to come to our aid.
For goodness sake, do not let this country drift back into the state in which it was when Japan declared war, when we had practically no defences at all. Do not let us get into that state, whoever might be charged with the government of this country. Let us have trained people and defences because God only knows when we might need them. It is of no use to cry or look to somebody else to come and defend us. It was only providential that Japan had a crack at Pearl Harbour instead of coming direct to Australia. Had it not done that we would probably be dragging rickshaws today. Because the Japanese made the blunder of having a crack at Pearl Harbour, they made up the minds of the Press and public in America against isolationism and neutralism. It was then that the Australian Prime Minister of the day, Mr John Curtin, was able to receive the assistance that he called out for, when Britain was engaged on her own front. We do not ever want to let our defences drift into that state again.
– But you are doing that.
– No fear. I repeat that Australia must have enough defence to make it worth no-one’s while to take us on. That should be the attitude of all political parties and of every decent-minded Australian. We must have at least sufficient strength to deter any potential invader. That is what I am saying, in short.
At their present size and level of equipment, the Australian defence forces are quite inadequate. I repeat that, because it is an undeniable fact. The Navy hardly has the strength to defend Australia’s fishing waters, let alone our shipping lanes. The Australian three-battalion force in Vietnam fights bravely, but it is too small to give Australia any say in negotiations. The onebattalion force in Malaysia is enough to fly an Australian flag, but it is so small that it is a wonder that the Malaysians or Singaporeans really care whether it is there. To refer to the fiasco over the Fill is to say enough about the problems of the Air Force.
Without adequate defence to provide security against potential threats from our unstable neighbours, everything else the nation may do is in jeopardy and counts for very little. What good are fine social welfare schemes if the country is liable to bc threatened, coerced and even taken over? Within a generation it has happened in Czechoslovakia twice and no-one has raised a finger to stop the aggressor. What good were the economic reforms and social progress in Czechoslovakia when the country’s defences were inadequate to resist a barbarian invader? It has happened elsewhere in the world, and it can happen here.
Australia faces no such immediate threat, of course, although if Mr Freeth had his way and got the countries of South East Asia entangled in a security arrangement with the Russians, with Russian military forces all round us, we would be very vulnerable. I suppose that I should make some allowances for Mr Freeth on international matters because he has had very limited experience. Although he has been in the Parliament for very many years he has never displayed any great interest in foreign affairs. In support of that statement I quote what he himself said on 1 7th August 1967 - just 2 years ago. He said:
Tonight, for the first time in 17 years in this Parliament, i am taking part in a debate on a matter of foreign affairs.
This is the gentleman who, by some mischance, happens to be the Minister for External Affairs in the current Government - a man who was in the Parliament for 17 years before he entered into a debate on international affairs.
– It shows how much he has improved in 2 years.
– He is not disclosing much improvement by his suggestion that Australia might enter into a regional security arrangement with Russia. It is true that in his statement he refreshed his memory on the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, lt appeared to be appropriate. I think yesterday was the anniversary of the Nazi-Russian pact under which the Nazis and the Russians cut up Poland between themselves.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has done nothing to merit the confidence of Australia, lt will be a poor lookout the day this country is required to enter into any regional security arrangement with Russia. Russia’s history shows that she has never assisted anybody unless it was for her own advantage or her own good. That is her history and it will continue to be her history. One has only to look at a map of the world to see how much country she has annexed by conquest. Yet we have a Minister who is so inept that he will make a suggestion such as that, particularly on the eve of an election. His supporters must feel that it was a bad day when he was selected as Minister for External Affairs. On his own credentials, he should have been the last of the available Cabinet material to be appointed to that important position. It is a most important position, particularly in these days when the world is so troubled by international disturbances and disagreements.
– What do you intend to do - take away his preferences?
– You will know in good time.
– You will support him.
– We are not left wilh a lot of alternative when we have a party which all through the years has disclosed its affinity with and affection for Red Russia and Red China and which talks about isolationism and the withdrawal of troops-
– What about Nixon visiting Romania?
– 1 am not concerned about Nixon; I. am concerned about Australia and about the Australian Labor Party and its policy and attitude on the matter of defence. It cannot be denied that at its recent conference it decided to bring home all troops. As the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ said on 4th August:
To Australians concerned with the good name of their country the Labor Parly has discredited itself as an alternative government by its repudiation of the pledge Australia has given to its four Commonwealth partners to maintain forces in Malaysia and Singapore after Britain’s withdrawal. The recommendation by the party’s External Affairs and Defence Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr Whitlam, that Australia should not station its armed forces in other countries was adopted by the ALP conference in its last hours without explanation or debate, as if the repudiation of a five-Power arrangement entered into by Australia less than two months ago was a matter of small moment.
That is why we would have difficulty in giving preferences to the Australian Labor Party.
– You are supporting the Government.
– You will know in good time whom we support.
– That is what they said in 1940 about the late John Curl in. You are repeating that.
– I am not going back to 1940. I am talking about 1969 and the future of this country. There is an increasing Chinese and Russian capacity for troublemaking and aggression. Indo-China may become a unified and powerful Communist state. Indonesia, stricken with economic difficulties and secessionist movements, may well turn extremist again or to religious extremism of a national or right wing character. We have to start now to build our military forces in strength so that should an outside power become menacing we can quickly develop our capacity for deterrence.
The fundamental weakness of the Gorton Budget is its failure to put defence first. This Government is irresponsibly putting defence lower and lower on the list of priorities at a time when we should be spending increasingly large proportions of the national budget on our military forces. National weakness is an invitation to aggressors, an encouragement to covetous aggressor nations and trouble-makers. National weakness discourages allies like the Americans. Who is going to help us unless we show some evidence of helping ourselves, especially at a time when we are so fed up with carrying a disproportionate burden of collective defence responsibilities? National weakness makes effective diplomacy impossible because it indicates that in the important matter of power we do not count for much.
The Government is engaging in the most foolish wishful thinking in assuming that there will be no problems for Australia in the years ahead and that the defence efforts can be allowed to run down, just as they were allowed to run down prior to the Second World War. It is gambling recklessly with Australia’s future. From the time of its formation the Democratic Labor Party has been calling for adequate defence expenditure. We will continue to press for defence expenditure which will make Australia self-reliant in this field. We will keep paramount and foremost on our policy and platform, defence, security and sane foreign affairs.
Now I come to the matter of independent schools and the financial assistance to be granted by the Government as provided in the Budget. It is just as well there are no copyright provisions in Federal politics. In its new per capita grants to independent schools the Government has almost copied exactly the same amounts, arguments and method of payment advocated by myself and the Democratic Labor Party as far back as March 1966.
– You are not objecting to them?
– It is true that the figures I had quoted would have to be upgraded a bit to provide for the then recent increases in salaries of lay teachers. I listened with disgust to the wailing of the Leader of the Opposition about this question. If Senator Murphy feels so keenly about a measure of financial assistance being granted to independent schools, as he demonstrated tonight, I challenge him to move in this chamber that the proposed vote be reduced.
– He was complaining about the imbalance.
– Oh, imbalance. He complained about the grant that was being made to the independent schools, the first ever to be made on a per capita basis - indeed, the first of this kind ever made in Australia’s history. As I said when introducing my private member’s bill, one would think that this was something new and novel whereas this system operates in practically every other country. It operates in England, in Scotland-
– And in Queensland.
– It has operated in Queensland for many years.
– It is a different method.
– A different method. Aid is something that they want and as for this imbalance, no-one is going to tell me-
– It is really justice.
– Of course it is justice. It is not financial aid at all.
– You are giving as much to St Patrick’s as you give to Nudgee College.
– Of course it is justice. In any case, we know that State schools have not been excluded from Commonwealth assistance. No advocate of State aid has ever asked for any financial assistance at the expense of any State school. We know that at Premiers Conferences additional amounts have been claimed and have been approved, perhaps not entirely, so that the States can meet additional costs in the field of education. When the Leader of the Opposition and others talk about imbalance, let them be fair. Who buys the land on which State schools are erected? The State does this. Who builds the school? The State. Who equips the school? The State. Who pays the teachers? The State. In contrast, who buys the land for an independent school? Who builds the independent school? Who staffs it and who equips it? The churches, the grammar school trusts or the organisation which runs the independent school. Yet people talk about imbalance.
Do members of the Australian Labor Party have regard to the great expenditure by Catholic people who have been conducting independent schools in Australia since before the turn of the century? Those people have done an excellent job. No-one could truthfully say that their standard of education did not compare favourably with that of any State conducted school. University results and school examination results confirm what I claim. It was amazing to hear Senator Murphy wailing tonight. I attended several meetings organised and run by what are called parent and friends associations which are campaigning for some financial assistance for independent schools. Representatives of the Australian Labor Party were at those meetings. Their Leader, Mr Whitlam, was at the big meeting held in the Sydney Town Hall which was attended by over 5,000 people. Mr Whitlam did not wail about this subject then. He made very definite promises. He would make available$50m of which$25m would be given to the independent schools. That is an amount somewhat similar to the appropriation under this heading in the Budget.
– But there is none for government schools in this appropriation.
– I told you that the government schools get it all the time through the Premiers Conferences. What rot you talk.
– You cannot tell the Premiers that. They would not agree with you.
– They have to recognise that they have had additional financial allocations.
– They are all Liberals.
– They are now. 1 suppose they can thank the honourable senator and a lot more like him for putting them there. I am not very much concerned about the Government copying our proposal; I. am happy and I commend the Government for copying it. 1 think the general public will appreciate it. The Government has recognised the justice of our claims. 1 would sooner have the Government recognise the justice of our claims than have them passed over merely for political reasons. Independent schools have, and have had, an indisputable and undeniable case. Members of our Party do not apologise for having had this proposal in our platform from the time of our inception. I suppose it was not to our advantage to have it in our platform at a time when our opponents were charging us with being a sectarian Party and a church Party. We recognised the justice of the claims of independent schools and included the proposal in our platform.
Some people have said that there will be a backlash as a result of this proposal in the Budget. There will be no backlash. Honourable senators can depend on that. The justice of the claims of independent schools has been recognised by the people. It is all right for Senator Murphy to wail about this proposal, but has it ever occurred to him that, in addition to paying school fees for my boys who attend independent schools, I contribute, by medium of taxation, to the running of Stale schools? A proportion of my taxes and a proportion of the taxes of my colleagues is appropriated for education. The States get their reimbursement, some of which is used for the building and equipping of schools. Some of that is my money. Undeniably, I am educating some children in State schools in addition to paying for the education of my own children.
– The schools are there for the honourable senator’s boys.
– The schools are there for my boys, but this great democrat would deny me the right to select the form of education that I wish, which right is open to me under the Atlantic Charter.
– If members of the Labor Party are against independent schools, they can move to have them cut out.
– They will, in clue time; it will be all State schools. I think I have said sufficient on this. When 1 threw the pigeon among the cats I knew what would happen; I knew that members of the Labor Party would come out in their true colours - the sectarianists, the bigots, the nondemocrats, the Socialists and those who believe only in compulsory and secular education. I knew I would disturb them; they have come out. They do not belive in anything except that to which they subscribe.
– The honourable senator is destroying his own case.
– No. The case is there and is acknowledged. The Leader of the Opposition went to almost every large meeting held recently in relation to education. If he was not there, someone represented him. He did his best to impress on the great audiences that the Labor Party was 100% on their side in regard to financial assistance. Mr Clyde Cameron and a few others were present at such meetings. However, we are not concerned about that. The Government has done the right thing about education after all these years and will continue to do so, I hope, having regard to costs and other matters.
With regard to pensions, the increases in age, invalid, widows and repatriation pensions are welcome even though they are inadequate. The $1 increase in age pensions was not generous. It is 2 years since pensions were increased. The pensioners received a $1 increase in 1968, but in the past year something like 42c has been carved from that $1 by the increase in consumer prices. I. know from personal contact and from personal experience that, in anticipation of the $1 increase in pensions, some landlords have increased their rentals already. I am not unconscious of the landlords’ point of view because they have to cope with ever increasing rates, maintenance costs and wages. They have a point of view, too. But that cost spiralling goes on. Under the existing rate of inflation pensioners require at least an extra 50c per year simply to maintain their position. The $1 increase granted by this Budget does not, therefore, radically improve the lot of the pensioners.
– The married pensioners do not get an increase of $1 each; they only get 75c each.
– That is true. I am not one who can accept very enthusiastically the theory that two can live as cheaply as one. I do not accept that. I do not know why the Government did not see fit to pay all pensioners the same amount of increase. That would have cost only an additional 50c a week for married couples. In relation to the means test, ultimately there is no escaping the need for the introduction of a contributory national insurance scheme to cover such things as old age, invalidism and the death of a breadwinner. The means test, despite the Budget changes, will continue to operate as a penalty on thrift. Twenty years ago Sir Robert Menzies - Mr Robert Menzies as he was then - in his policy speech for the 1949 election stated:
Australia still needs a contributory system of national insurance against sickness, widowhood, unemployment, and old age. It is only under such a system that we can make all benefits a mutter of right, and so get rid of the means test. We are deeply conscious of the frequently unjust operation of the means test, and the penalty it imposes in many cases upon thrift.
Sir Robert Menzies’ words in 1949 are equally valid today, in 1969. The sad part of it is that, although he was Prime Minister for 15 or 16 years, he did nothing about a national insurance scheme - not a thing. It was stated, and history will prove, that he walked out of the Lyons Government because it would do nothing about national insurance. He had plenty of opportunity, but he failed. Succeeding governments have done nothing about it either. DLP policy provides for the ultimate abolition of the means test. We do not suggest that lightly or idly. We suggest this could be done progressively by limiting its operation to various age classifications within the pensionable age group. Great Britain, New Zealand and Canada, I understand, have no means test. Immediately, however, pensions would have to be raised to at least half the basic wage for the pensioner to be able to enjoy the standard of living which he deserves. The tapered means test, as provided for in the Budget, will enable many pensioners who, in the past, have been debarred from receiving the pension to receive it. It will also introduce, for the first time, an element of unfair discrimination. I refer to the exclusion of the new pensioner group from the subsidiary fringe benefits, which are very important and which amount to a good deal. T see no rhyme or reason behind such discrimination. I sincerely hope that local government authorities and State governments will not discriminate similarly between pensioners but will offer to all pensioners the fringe benefits which operate in the services that they provide - that is, reduced council rates, reduced public transport fares and such things as that.
I come now to those matters which have been ignored by the Government. Paramount among these is the failure of the Government to assist the family man, especially the breadwinner with a large family but a low income. Two measures which the Government could have introduced but did not are increases in child endowment payments and increases in maternity allowances. The policy of the Democratic Labor Party on these matters is firstly a doubling of existing child endowment for all children after the second and secondly the restoration of the real value of maternity allowances by increasing the payments to an amount commensurate with the increases in wages since 1943, which is the year when the allowances were first introduced. I believe also that it is time the Government gave some serious thought to the introduction of a scheme for the capitalisation of child endowment payments so that parents can receive their child endowment payments in a lump sum and use the money for housing renovations, improvements and additions. Honourable senators have heard me advocate this before. A similar scheme is in operation in New Zealand. It has been operating successfully there for a number of years. I am sure that the scheme would be welcomed by very many young people, particularly those who are having families and are in need of a house, or who need to renovate or improve their home.
– You would give the child endowment to the land sharks.
– Not necessarily to the land sharks. There are housing commissions. If you have no housing commission in Western Australia then you are behind the times. I say in conclusion that the Budget bears all the imprints of the hand of the Prime Minister and whatever it might contain in the social welfare field is all negated by the unnecessary and unwarranted reduction in defence expenditure. This reduction in defence expenditure has been quite scurrilous. It is the major feature of the Budget. It is contradictory of every argument the Government has used in the past 10 years. If the Government wishes to act irresponsibly, it must be prepared to pay the penalty.
In addition to the reduction in the defence vote we have the recent statement by Mr Freeth to which I have made reference in which he almost invites the Russians to come to an arrangement in connection with regional security for South East Asia.
– You are reading more into the speech than is there when you say that.
-I have read this speech several times, and my colleagues have read it. I think we all have the power of understanding. Mr Fairhall read it, too, and if he was sick before doing so it certainly made him worse. Indeed, it made him so bad that he was compelled to resign without giving much warning to anybody. Would it not sicken any Australian to hear a statement such as that from a Government which, at election after election, has taken every opportunity to gain advantage from warning the people against the evils of Communism and the probable intrusion of Communism into this country unless we stop it at some point or other? Would it not sicken any Australian to hear, or to learn by some means or other, that our Liberal Minister for External Affairs would go as far as Mr Freeth has done?
– Yet you give them your preferences.
– There is one thing that is certain. You would never get them. You have no chance in the world of getting them. WhenI give my preferences, I take into account the character of the individual who is getting them. On that count, indeed on every count, you would be ruled out politically.
I was saying before I was rudely interrupted that the effect of this statement has been tremendous. The mail that I have received and that my colleagues have received and the telephone calls that have been made to us indicate that the people have received this statement with a cold shudder. They are shocked, they are bewildered, and they are disillusioned. It was an insult to the refugees who have come here from countries that have been overridden by Communists, the people who have come here to share the freedom and liberties that only a democracy can give them. These people have suffered at the hands of Communists. They have established their homes here. Now, after having done that, after having assimilated our way of life, after having tried their best to be good Australians, they find that there is a great chance that one day they will again fall into the hands of the Communists because a Liberal Minister for External Affairs says: ‘Well, we will have to negotiate and give consideration to joining Russia in a security plan for South East Asia’.
– That is not what the Minister said.
– It suits you to read it that way. I know how embarrassed you must be and I sympathise with you.
– I am not embarrassed.
– Nothing would shock you; nothing would embarrass you.
– Anyhow, what are you going to do about it?
– You will know in good time. In view of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment, I foreshadow a further amendment. I propose to move:
At end of motion add: but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget should be withdrawn and redrafted because it -
Proposes a decrease in defence expenditure at a time when Australia’s security is in grave doubt following Britain’s withdrawal, uncertainty over our alliances with South East Asia and the United States, and the entry of the Soviet Union into the Indian Ocean,
The Budget merely plugs holes in Social Services and makes no provision for a comprehensive National Insurance Scheme or for necessary aid for family life through better child endowment payments, maternity allowances, housing and health assistance,
Fails to provide for the determination of Social Service payments by an independent tribunal of persons expert in this field,
Fails to ameliorate in any substantial way the restrictive operation of the Means Test,
Fails to stimulate National Development by increasing and developing substantial communities at the points of recent discoveries and natural resource exploitation and with the consequential reduction of the undesirable increase of urban population, particularly in the capital cities.
– I rise to support the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). Before commencing my onslaught on the Budget I want to make some comments on some of the remarks made by Senator Gair. First I want to put the record straight concerning the attitude of the Australian Labor Party on the question of education. During the course of his speech Senator Murphy mentioned two prominent GPS schools in the Sydney area to demonstrate what he described as inequality of treatment in the distribution of the grants for education. He compared the treatment given to such independent schools with that accorded the average metropolitan working class independent school under the system of priorities operated by the States.
Senator Gair knows only too well that the independent GPS school, irrespective of denomination, is in a very happy position in that old boys from the school who have made good financially make big bequests to them. I say in all sincerity, knowing what is in the mind of my leader, Senator Murphy, that whatever sum of money is set aside for grants to independent schools, if we exclude those schools that come within the GPS category for which Senator Gair made such a clamour it is obvious that more money would be available for the ordinary working class and middle class independent schools. In that way. there will be some equality in the treatment accorded independent schools. That was the theme of Mr Whitlam’s case at all the gatherings which Senator Gair attended. 1 say quite candidly from a Socialist point of view that nobody could justify to me putting in the same category as the working and middle class independent schools those schools I have mentioned such as Riverview or ;he Newington college or others with a denominational background which enjoy big bequests from old students. Senator Gair and Senator McManus did not come from GPS schools and would appreciate the impact of the argument that I am putting forward. But I want to go a little further in talking about the future.
The platform of the Australian Labor Party which was adopted on 1st August 1969 - not at an Easter conference as has been suggested - referred to the establishment of an Australian schools commission and an examination of the future. It is no solution to the problem to get into a morass of bigotry and sectarianism. They are the honourable senators words, not mine. Nor is it any solution to develop this theme of auctioneering. The honourable senator knows in his heart that there are population shifts and that there can be a problem in one State which has not manifested itself in another State. I know that in my own State there could be a State system in one electorate which is inferior to and the reverse of a system in another electorate. All this is the background that I know my Deputy Leader, Senator Cohen, will deal with in detail later. No matter what is done now by way of grants for education, there must be adequate planning for the future in all facets of education. I make that as my first point.
The second point is the emphasis that Senator Gair gave to defence. I know that he had a very difficult brief tonight because he did not know which side to blacken most. The honourable senator knows that in Asia there are some lost causes which are symbolised in South Vietnam. The Australian Labor Party makes no apology for its repeated utterances about secondary industries being given greater opportunity to share in the tooling up for various arms of defence. But we raise this question having in mind what a former leading United States defence officer, Clark Clifford, said in referring to the bottomless pit in Vietnam and the money that was being spent there. Senator Gair advocated the use of a more modern fleet of helicopters. I did not disagree with him for one minute, but the thought occurred to me that there would not be much use in having them in South Vietnam because, as he knows, within the next 2 years at the most there will be a de-escalation of the number of troops stationed there.
The honourable senator has backed this Government and has sooled it on. He has said that we should not retreat 1 inch, that we need more rather than fewer forces in Vietnam. What is the situation? We read of President Nixon’s various utterances as he went all over the world. It must have made the honourable senator dizzy to hear what he was saying. Did he ever visualise that a president who was supposed to be to the right of President Johnson would go to Romania and offer the hand of fraternal friendship? It was political realism and I shall explain why that was so. In the first instance, was it not a deliberate attitude on the part of the United States and Britain to encourage Romania and Yugoslavia, which have internal left wing governments, to create a buffer State to offset the expansion of the Soviet Union? This is a situation that will not happen immediately, but it will develop.
What is our attitude to South East Asia? We do not doubt for one minute - the honourable senator will have to swallow this whether he likes it or not - that in South Vietnam there could be a coalition government made up of all sorts of neutralists, militant nationalists and even left wing groups. 1 suppose, for want of a better term, they could be referred to as Asian Titoists. We will have to live with that sort of government for 5 or 10 years, and undoubtedly at that stage their wants, hopes and aspirations will clash with those of China and possibly the Soviet Union. They are the facts of life. We have advocated bringing the Vietcong to the conference table and Mr Freeth has now got on to our band wagon. It is now a question of what will happen. Every time that we said the Vietcong should be brought to the conference table the honourable senators have called it treason. But no-one has wanted that more than the Treasurer (Mr
McMahon) who has said that every time he has appeared on television. On those occasions Government supporters have been just as embarrassed as Senator Gair was on this occasion. But we have been the people in the middle and we have been vindicated.
I guarantee that within 3 months we will see a de-escalation of the number of troops in Vietnam. But will Senator Gair still say that we should put more there? I have developed this strategy of what will happen and I reiterate that it is what the Australian Labor Party has advocated. I do not regard it as a policy of appeasement, nor does any other honourable senator on this side of the chamber. Unfortunately Senator Gair has now left the chamber. Let us consider his remark that everything is either black or white. Did he or other honourable senators ever imagine that President Kennedy and Khrushchev would get together and negotiate to avoid an atomic war? Of course it was sanity to do so. Did not the Prime Minister and our leaders agree with what happened? Unfortunately, Senator Little’s people had misgivings. I am not unaware that many people, old Australians and new Australians, do not ignore the episodes of Budapest, Prague or anywhere else. Honourable senators would know enough of the trade union movement to appreciate that we have to live with and contain all sorts of elements. That is the overall concept of foreign policy. Mr Whitlam has said that this situation would develop. It does not matter how much we talk, each month more Americans leave Vietnam. Tt will be the honourable senator who will be on the hot spot - not the Labor Party - and that is something which he will have to live with. I wanted to get those few points off my chest.
I now refer to the Budget. Senator Webster used a very apt term when he referred to budget programming. When I heard that term I immediately turned to page 4 of the Budget where I saw that Mr McMahon spoke in glowing terms of the employment position. When I consider forward planning it amazes me that there is not a word in the Budget about what will happen to our work force as a result of the onslaught of the computer on the society in which we live. Already we have had a sign of what will happen. In view of what I have listened to in the last 2 days from what would be deemed to be my legal betters opposite on what can be said about judges and conciliation commissioners, 1 hope that Labor speakers will come in on this theme. 1 refer now to redundancy in industry. So far we have had only one case; it involved Golden Fleece Petroleum Products when the computers were introduced. In that case about 30 to 40 members of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia were deemed to be redundant. Because the Federal Secretary of the Union, Mr Riordan, had the temerity to argue with the court that the future of those 40 members was just as important as the future of the board of Golden Fleece, the judge said that he was being impertinent, that the employer knows what is best and that is all there is to it. I would describe that as a Judge Jeffreys’ decision. Yet honourable senators opposite suggest that we should bow our heads at every judge of the arbitration court and every conciliation commissioner. Government supporters have asked for this criticism. They have been talking about the right to criticise other judges and so 1 am now expressing a view on behalf of the trade union movement. This attitude is the reason for the number of industrial disputes that we have had.
The Clerks Union has had to live wilh this decision by the court. To take the matter a little further and beyond one union, I refer to containerisation and its impact on the trade union movement on the waterfront where three general unions were affected. The introduction of this system has affected waterside workers, transport workers, and also storemen and packers. A decision has been made about containerisation. Two unions have been reasonably satisfied but a third union is not satisfied. I make this point against the background of the Golden Fleece case. In the case to which I now refer there has not been one utterance by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) on what has happened to this famous committee which was supposed to be looking at the effects of automation. Honourable senators know what will happen. The committee will sit for 2 or 3 years and then suddenly in a particular industry we will see the full impact of automation with 4,000 or 5,000 people out of a job. The Government then will be looking desperately for a solution.
I refer next to a situation in Victoria. Senator Hendrickson will agree with what I have to say on this point. Some Government senators have said what a terrible thing it is that members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Electrical Trades Union of Australia should be quarrelling about who will use a spanner on a particular job. But if we go around the trade union movement, whether it is to a craft union or any other union, and ask the men what they expect their job prospects to be in 5 years time we find that what I have been saying is not merely an expression of a Utopian dream. Consider the port of Mackay and the reduced work force in the waterfront industry. These are all situations about which there is not one word in the Budget, lt is all very well to say that we will face up to these problems when we come to them. Anyone who has studied the situation of redundant coalminers in Kentucky in the United States will know that even when you retrain men aged 35 to 45 years there is no guarantee that employers will accept them when men of 22 years of age are finishing their apprenticeships and there is competition for work. This is the first indictment that I make. I feel that it is time to make it. Honourable senators opposite wonder sometimes why trade unions are not always as confident as they may be about the judicial system. It is because we felt, for instance, in the Golden Fleece case that it was just the thing for the judge, seated in his lofty chair, as it were, to say that the Clerks Union was ill advised in trying to interfere and to dictate to an employer. But nothing came of this. There was no suggestion as to how the slack would be taken up to place the victims of computerisation in the non-manual industry in other positions. I repeat that as far as those in manual industries are concerned the same question applies. As late as this week, 1 was reading in the Western Australian Press about what is going to happen to coal miners in Collie. Somebody might say: Well, the slack will be taken up somewhere’, but in isolated areas what does it mean if a man in the 35-year or 45-year age group is expected to go another 100 miles in search of a living? It is all very well when the pay is going up, but this fellow happens to be on the same wage level or even less. This is the type of tragedy that we are talking about.
The other matter that I want to deal with now relates to what 1 call the famous case of the health scheme. We say that we are in an age in which the accent is on precision thinking and precision planning. Again, I am indebted to Senator Webster for one of those terms. But we should look at the history of our health scheme together with the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee. I remember that, in the early 1950s, the then Minister for Health, Sir Earle Page, told us that we were going to emulate the Blue Cross system introduced by the Americans. As the years went by, that system became obsolete. The Americans introduced the Medicare scheme. The cost factor involved is going up. The only difference is that in Australia the situation is as stated in the Nimmo Committee report. Broadly, the finding of the Committee was that for every $4 a contributor paid to a health fund he received only S3 by way of benefit return. The case I am about to state is not put forward in an egotistical fashion, or in a form to illustrate grounds for actual discontent. I wish just to portray my own situation. In 1953-54, I joined two benefit funds because I was told that, by being a member of two funds, I as a single man would obtain complete coverage. Providence may have been kind to me to the extent that I have had only one call upon the benefit funds since that time. I give full credit to the doctor who removed a cyst from my eyelid. My eyesight was not impaired. But for 17 years I paid my contribution to those two funds. What did I find? My bill was for $30. The charge was for skilled services. I received SI 2 from the funds. Like a lot of other people, T find that these funds are waxing fat on my premiums. There has been no attempt by governments to try to bring the payments by these funds back to reality.
Now schemes are put forward by people including accountants and a learned professor from a Melbourne university and there are ridiculous handouts from medical benefits contribution funds telling us how dangerous these proposals are. They are dangerous all right. What has been done about the position of persons in certain lower wage groups? Does the Government realise that the vast majority of the people will find the same farrago of nonsense occurring in 12 months time? That is what will happen if the Government has its way.
The Australian Medical Association will come along and say: ‘We have to boost the fees’. The Government will say: ‘All right’. Then, the Government will say to the people: ‘Contribute under a higher scale and you will be right’. People will be right for 12 months. But let us look at the other side of the picture.
I do not claim that the complete solution is to be found either in the system that we advocate or in the system that the Government advocates. Whatever scheme is adopted, it will have to be supplemented by an attack on the big drug houses about which the Government has done nothing. In Britain, Conservative and Labor governments have taken on the health insurance funds and drug houses, they have capitulated and money has been refunded. But the Australian Government cannot give me instances of equivalent sums that it has received from the funds or drug houses here. Even the Government in the United States of America has taken on the drug houses and has obtained redress. What do we find here? All the Government has to do is to turn loose the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and it would find that the cost of life saving drugs would suddenly toboggan downwards.
I noticed that Senator Gair started to develop a theme concerning age pensioners. Is there anything more pitiful - honourable senators opposite know this and I know it - than the situation where, as a result of these new medical cures, a man of 75 years who has some organic condition is told that there is a tablet on the free list which will reduce his pain but quickly learns by letter from the Minister for Health that a committee which investigates these has had a look at this particular tablet and recommended that it be no longer retained on the pharmaceutical benefits list. What is the alternative? It could be that the married son or daughter of that person, already with a large family, will need to dig a bit deeper into pocket or purse to help to provide the costly tablets to alleviate the parent’s suffering. Yet the Government can play a part in the exploration of the stratosphere, build tracking stations and assist in enabling men to visit the moon. These are the things that it does. At the lower end of the social scale, the Government is so conservative regarding this scheme.
The Government prides itself on adding a few thousand people in the lower income group to what it calls the national health scheme. It thinks then that the millenium has been achieved. We challenge the Government on this. We will be doing so throughout the election. We challenge the Government to come up with a plan to provide cheaper medicines and with an effective scheme that will not go for 2 years only. It will be planned. What we have proposed are certain percentage payments buttressed by government contributions. In years of full employment and years of minimum epidemics, the funds would grow. But when they grew we would not find, as we find today, the organisations building veritable palaces known as ‘medical benefits fund’ buildings, and there would not be over 108 funds in existence. The number of funds would be reduced and their activities would be well and truly curbed. The Government has allowed this sort of thing to go on. It has done nothing about the position.
While I am on the subject of health, let me say this: The Government has talked about what we have been able to do in Australia, lt would be stupid to say that we had not advanced. Evolutionary processes ensure that we advance, no matter what governments do. I wish to deal with a news release issued on Sunday, 10th August 1969, by no less a person than Mr Bury, the Minister for Labour and National Service. I have just been very critical about what he is doing about automation and mechanisation, and of the standing committee that has been established to deal with those matters. Here is another one of the many facets of the operations that he controls. I refer to a paragraph in a statement on national service issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service and in which he blandly says:
Forty-four per cent, of those registered and medically examined for national service did not meet the standards required for Army service.
If it were 20%, I would say: ‘Well, we must make some allowance because I know what the Government would say about Army standards’. But all I can say in the circumstances is that if the failure rate is 44% something is radically wrong. I know the reason why something is wrong. It is wrong for this reason: The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, for example, or any other body or person does nothing about all the blarney and malarkey that goes over the air about clean cigarettes. We never see anything about these matters. The Government talks about diverting money into active service. Can the Government tell me what amount of money is wasted on advertising by Rothmans and all these other cigarette monopolists? This is one field in which the Government could act.
Let me take the matter a little further. I agitated here for 2 years for the production of certain booklets about physical training. They were produced, but the Government never went beyond that point. Probably it could introduce a much improved dental service, which would be able to improve the health of our children. There are so many other projects that the Government could undertake in the health field. If the failure tate were 20%, I would be a little more tolerant, but when it is 44% of those registered for national service - we must not forget that these are boys in the prime of life - we must admit that there is something wrong with the society that the Government has created. One of the reasons for this problem is that the Government is frightened to take on the Australian Medical Association and all the other appendages. The Government talks a lot about other forms of government in other countries. Some of them are totalitarian. At the same time, there is no doubt that the medical and health services in those countries are better than ours. Another reason for the existence of this problem can be found in examples shown by families in the community today. This applies particularly to British migrants. Those people find that they must economise on certain items while they are trying to save money to enable them to get out of a migrant hostel and buy a home. British people find a sharp contrast between the British health scheme and the Australian health scheme. The result is that an operation that should be performed on a child between the ages of 8 and 1 5 years is postponed and the health of the patient is neglected. Some of these problems become magnified, but the Government probably would find that some such factors are involved. But that is not the whole story.
I know that we live under a federal system. My concept of the Commonwealth Government has been that it is the pacesetter, but it took the Commonwealth 2 years to get action by State Ministers for Health in respect of the sale of inferior sunglasses. Honourable senators know that in the Australian summer a large percentage of people choose to wear sunglasses. The whole trouble seems to be that in the democratic process of which we talk, the Government does not get the whip out quickly enough and hold conferences with States Ministers in order to deal with some manufacturers. I never heard any publicity in relation to manufacturers who produced sunglasses which were of inferior quality.
Whatever I might care to say about United States foreign policy, 1 yearn for the day when food racketeers and manufacturers will get the same publicity and exposure as some people got through the testimony of Ralph Nader before congressional committees. In Australia there is always a smother-up job. On different occasions 1 have asked Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, who represents the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber, questions about the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. 1 have asked about particular scripts that have been rejected and about phoney testimonials that have been put over in medical and pharmaceutical advertising on television. I have been told that corrections have been made, but the particular people involved have not been exposed. I suppose if the people involved had been lesser lights at another level of the community the full glare of publicity would have resulted.
My reaction to the Budget is that it is a patchwork operation. The Government should be looking ahead in the fields of health, education, defence and many other facets of governmental activity. We are looking in vain for long range planning. There are forgotten groups in the field of social services. I refer particularly to deserted wives. Recently the Sydney ‘SunHerald’ printed a very good article by a prominent journalist, Peter Manning. Acting probably with the best of intentions, the Government streamlined passport procedures. For a long while I have been drawing attention to the cases of husbands who may disappear to Britain. I refer to Britain because 1 believe that our legal processes should make it much easier to enforce maintenance orders in that country on husbands who desert wives in Australia, leaving them with children to support. The legal system is too slow in operation. 1 say to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and to Senator Wright, who represents him in the Senate, that this particular social problem could be eased without spending a lot of money. The Government need not spend great sums in helping deserted wives. It could help greatly by putting teeth in the law and speeding up processes so that women in those circumstances may get speedier justice.
I have noted that no taxation concessions are included in this Budget. We are supposed to be on the same wavelength as the United States Administration. One of the first steps taken by President Nixon was to study certain anomalies in the taxation field. In this respect I wish to refer to another forgotten group - female members of the Shop Assistants and Warehouse Employees Federation. There is great talk about employers’ rights. Judges are given to using this wonderful term ‘employers’ rights’. One of the rights of employers in big Sydney and Melbourne retail stores is to say to female shop assistants: ‘For the honour of working for me you have to wear an old, obsolete black uniform, a black frock and black accessories and all the rest of it while in my employment’. If it is part of the procedure of the company, that is all right. But the Treasurer has been asked to direct his Taxation Review Committee to have a look at this matter. Make no mistake - the types of accessories and frock that must be worn by these employees would not be worn anywhere else and they should be allowed their cost as a tax deduction. The Treasurer says only that he will have a look at it next year.
I have always argued that in the society in which we live taxation concessions can be a very effective instrument to bring justice to people in industry. Some people in talking of wage increases refer to a failure to have curbs on prices corresponding to the levels at which wages are fixed. Price rises nullify many wage increases but taxation concessions are a great benefit. Today directors of companies have padded expense sheets. Sometimes it seems that unlimited expenses are incurred for luncheons in restaurants and so on in order to clinch a big deal. At the other end of the scale female shop assistants in retail stores pay a particular price for their employment because they have to wear black frocks. They cannot wear them to and from work. References are made to the new people of society in heavy industries and retail trades. Usually these people change their clothing before they travel home. In the field of taxation reform the unions have argued for a long time for changes. A very cheap form of justice could have been extended to industry in this Budget. Members of industry believe that they have been very mild in their submissions on this particular point.
The Opposition has submitted a plan in respect of health services which has been vetted by people outside the Labor Party and has been said by them to be effective. We believe that the value of such a scheme is mainly for people in the 25 to 45 years age group. After a reasonable period of good health they would like to feel that the profits made by the health insurance funds could be used to help them when they get older and require surgery. They would like to get back more than 30% or 40% of their costs when they incur serious illness after 16 or 17 years of contributions to a fund. 1 turn now to deal with education. The Chifley post-war Labor Government put university finances on their feet. We believe that the commission we have advocated should be ushered in quickly. Some of the other points of conflict that have been referred to here tonight would be taken out of the realm of party politics. Earlier speakers in this debate have dealt with defence. As each month passes we will be watching the Government very closely. Government supporters realise in their hearts that they will not ever again be conned in South East Asia to prop up a government so weak as those that have been helped by Australia in the past, f do not indict any Australian government on this score. 1 indict the French Government for its failure in the early post-war years to follow progressive British governments who gave independence to India, Burma and Pakistan. An Australian Labor government facilitated the creation of the independent nation of Indonesia.
Some honourable senators have tonight mentioned Mr Freeth, the Minister for External Affairs. When he spoke of the plebiscite in West Irian he conceded that what is done is done. Questions have been asked as to where the Australian Labor Party stands on this issue, i. refer Government supporters to Sir Percy Spender, formerly a prominent Minister in the Government who later went to sit on the International Court of Justice. In those days he was a hawk and said that we had had to back the Dutch. Today Mr Freeth says that we must face realities. Of course we must. The only difference we have between us on this score is that if we advocate a point 2 or 3 years ahead of public opinion we are told we are acting treasonably. Mr McMahon has said that repeatedly over Vietnam. Mr Whitlam, Senator Murphy and the rest of us have said that eventually the parties will have to sit around a conference table, with the Vietcong or with anybody else, and forge some form of peace. Government supporters have denied that, but now United States opinion has swung that way. I had in mind that I would deal in this speech with problems associated with overseas investment, but that will keep for another time.
– Always on the occasion of the presentation of a Budget, just as on this occasion, there is a great rash of experts before the Budget predicting what will happen, and after the Budget in some cases illuminating the scene but very often making it darker. Tonight I have listened with some fascination and, if I may say so, quite considerable confusion to Senator Murphy, and with great interest to Senator Gair who gave us rather equal doses of praise and blame. Senator Murphy’s contribution interested me because, in the spirit expressed by Senator Mulvihill, I would hope that if we detected a useful proposition, a situation of new economic merit, we would be sensible enough to encompass it. I hope we would say to ourselves: This is an idea that has something in it and we ought to try to do something about it. We should think about it and use it, or at any rate be openminded.’ I do not have a copy of Senator Murphy’s speech so I cannot read it. I cannot get it until tomorrow.
– But you can remember it.
– Not really, not in the state of confusion engendered in me.
Great plans are being made against inflation. 1 think honourable senators will agree that I am always concerned about the possibility of inflation.
– There is a state of inflation now.
– 1 think that there always will be in the kind of society that the honourable senator has preached and stood for all his life. If he docs not mind, I want to develop the dichotomy in the thinking of Senator Murphy and the Australian Labor Party. So we want a society - I certainly do - of maximum growth and full employment. Is Senator Murphy against a society of maximum growth? Is Senator Murphy against a society of’ full employment? How would he achieve those two things in a state of economic reality without some inflation in the system? On the other hand, we heard from Senator Murphy a magnificent story of running the economy with balance of payments deficits. ‘This has to be stopped’, said Senator Murphy. So in the process of stopping this we heard from Senator Murphy a substantial deflationary proposal. This would mean that we would have substantial unemployment. That is his proposal. It will be understood by all honourable senators, therefore, that I am in a state of some confusion about the economic intent of the Australian Labor Party as a potential government of the people of Australia.
Turning to the earlier point, as one would hope and expect there are many people who are expert in the field of budgeting, both before and after the event. But the fascinating exercise was that before the Budget we had predictions by all kinds of experts of two events - (a) a very inflationary scene, and (b) a very deflationary scene. After the Budget was presented we heard this statement: ‘This is a highly inflationary Budget. This is a dreadful performance. It is shocking, disgraceful and should not be permitted. Give the job to me and I will do it much better.’ On the other hand we heard it said: ‘This is a deflationary Budget. This is a bad thing. Why should people do these things?’
Because I hope that in this place we try to take an intelligent and a long term interest in the nation’s welfare - an interest which is based upon practical considerations and realities - I suggest that this is neither an inflationary nor a deflationary Budget. After many years we have a balanced Budget. That is a term that most people have forgotten. Long ago it was customary to balance a Budget. The adoption of some of the proposals we have heard tonight would put this country back again into a very substantial deficit and into a heavily increased field of income tax. There are people - I sympathise with this view because, after all, I am a person who from time to time stands in need of some help - who want many additional things for the Australian people. That is good and proper. But they do not want to pay for those things either in a deficit Budget, in increased taxation or in contributions from overseas capital. They want these things but they do not want to consider how they are to be earned.
– What about getting back to the Budget?
– I will be happy to do that both tonight and tomorrow. I am concerned about proposals for (a) increased taxation in reality and (b) increased deficits. I do not think it would be amiss for me to make the comment that the Budget is a major instrument of economic policy. In discussion and debate on the Budget it is proper to deal with the subject matter. The subject matter of budgeting is economic policy - what we intend to do in relation to economic policy, where that will lead us, what happened in the past, what should happen in the future. We do not want the exercise of personal extravaganza on some pet hobby that one might have that one is not prepared to pay for either in principle or in any kind of revenue system. Deficit budgeting has been the pattern in Australia for quite a long time.
– Ever since Menzies won the government.
– Further back than that. In the circumstances which prevailed then deficit budgeting had my full support. Please accept this: I believe it was both wise and sensible in that phase of our growth to have a situation of quite substantial deficit budgeting. But in past years when the benefits of deficit budgeting were being generated and people in this chamber and in other places in the community were sharing in those benefits, I do not recall any complaints about it. 1 do not recall the voices we now hear saying then: ‘We should not do this’. We did not hear that. We accepted it as a necessary fact of life and a wise way in which to behave. For my part I have felt lately that the time is approaching - in fact T believe it is here - when deficit budgeting as such should cease, at least temporarily, and that we should pass as close as we can to a situation of balance. I believe this because I now think that we are in a state of equilibrium.
– Do not say that, lt will be the end of the Treasurer.
– I doubt it. I think we are fairly evenly poised between resources, on the one hand, and demand on the other hand. If you look back to past years you will find that one reason for deficit budgeting was the necessity to pick up areas of unused opportunity.
– One of my colleagues has just said that you have done your portfolio.
– I am glad that you are interested in my welfare. Those particular phases of deficit budgeting were important. The first substantial one took place when the government of this country decided that it was justified in deficit budgeting to increase government expenditure with a view to generating confidence in the private sector. That phase passed. If you recall budgets of a few years ago you will remember the strong attempts that were made to generate growth and that first exercise to get the private sector developing more strongly. That condition has been achieved in the last 2 or 3 years and I now believe that we are in a situation in which equilibrium is about as close as it has ever been in the sense of economic achievement.
– What about primary industry?
– You do not understand this so why not keep quiet and try to learn. There are some useful documents in the Budget Papers. It is not possible tonight to deal with them all but in the statement of national accounting expenditure there is a general reference to public authority spending. If you look at this you will see the increasing expenditure by governments of all kinds in Australia and the pressure that this puts on us all and on the system. If honourable senators opposite are interested in this subject I ask them to listen to me. If they do not, then they can continue their private conversations about something quite unconnected with the realities of our economic life. We find the general pattern of Budget deficits in the past reproduced in table 1 on page 48 of the Budget Papers. There has been a consistent pattern of deficits since 1959-60 and only in 1960-61, 10 years ago, did we have a situation approaching the present one. In that year we budgeted for a deficit of $32m.
– That means another Budget next year if you win the election.
– The difficulties in hying to talk to the Australian people through the membership of this august chamber, having regard to the state of confusion which exists on the other side, are obvious. Surely it demonstrates to us all the complete incapacity of the Labor Party to engage in any sense at all in the economic management of a country of this size and importance. In fact very few honourable senators opposite are qualified to be shire councillors in a particularly poor shire. Those honourable senators opposite who have bothered to read the Budget Papers - T can recommend that as an exercise for those who intend to participate in the Budget debate - will note that a deficit of $30m is proposed this year. My guess is that the deficit finally will be much less than that. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) is a very conservative man in his predictions. The Treasury is usually conservative. Therefore I expect a situation very close to balance or surplus in June next year.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1 1. p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 August 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690820_senate_26_s42/>.