26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator MCCLELLAND presented from 249 citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress: Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for aged pensioners and a number of European countries also have no means test; today’s aged persons have paid al least 71% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments (H-% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than sufficient to abolish the means test immediately); the middle income group, the most heavily taxed sector of the community, subsidises the lax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the Government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed; the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by (1) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling of the work force and (3) increased spending by pensioners; it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that, dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
Petition received and read.
Senator MURPHY presented from 245 citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress; Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for aged pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test; today’s aged persons have paid at least 74% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments (7i% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than .sufficient to abolish the means test immediately); the middle income group, the most heavily taxed sector of the community, subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the Government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed: the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by (I) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling of the work force and (3) increased spending by pensioners: it: is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
Senator MULVIHILL presented from 272 citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress; Australia is the tully English-speaking country in the world’ to retain a means test for aged pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test; today’s aged persons have paid at least 71% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments (7£% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than sufficient to abolish the means test immediately); the middle income group, the most heavily taxed sector of the community, subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the Government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed; the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by (1) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling of the work force and (3) increased spending by pensioners; it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will’ take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
Senator ORMONDE presented from 298 citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress; Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for aged pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test; today’s aged persons have paid at least 7)% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments (7i% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than suffi cient to abolish the means test immediately); the middle income group, the most heavily taxed sector of the community, subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the Government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed; the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by (1) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling of the work force and (3) increased spending by pensioners; it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Are we to believe the stories in this morning’s newspapers that the quarrel between the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the Government parties has been resolved?
– Obviously, the honourable senator’s question is based on a newspaper report. Therefore, I am not called upon to answer it.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform me whether by tradition it is taken that when a member or Senator presents a petition he is in agreement with the wishes expressed in that petition, and whether, when several petitions are presented in the same form and on the same subject by members of the same party, by tradition , it is indicative of that party’s policy on the subject matter of the petitions?
– I feel bound to say that it has never been my understanding that a member of the House of Representatives or u Senator, when he presents a petition, necessarily presents his own point of view. I have always taken the view - I. am sure that it is the accepted and traditional view - that anybody or any group of people has the right to petition the Parliament and that the parliamentarian in turn, as he represents an area, has an obligation to present the petition to the Parliament. I also feel bound to say that petitions that are presented instinctively quite frequently represent the point of view of the people who present them.
– ls the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of today’s reports that the United States is planning to cut back sharply the rate at which Americans are being drafted into the Army? Has he seen Washington reports that President Nixon is planning further troop reductions in Vietnam beyond the 35.000 men who will be withdrawn by December? in the face of these reports and the recent gallup poll which showed that a distinct majority of Australians are in favour of Australian troops being withdrawn from Vietnam, when will the Government acknowledge realities and follow the American example in relation to conscription and withdrawal?
– I have seen a variety of reports in relation to the proposed withdrawal of certain numbers of troops by the United States Government. I am informed that the Australian Government has been informed of the situation. But it is equally true to say that the Australian force in Vietnam is a compact entity. Having regard to that, any suggestion of piecemeal withdrawal of Australian troops would be quite inconsistent with the logic of the force. We cannot have a force that is not viable in itself. I feel bound to say that even with the withdrawals that have been taking place and that are projected, the number of American troops - as I understand it - will still be much greater than it was when the Australian force was committed to Vietnam. The whole question of the withdrawal of Australian troops is a matter of policy. I know of no arrangement whereby at this point of time there is any proposal to withdraw the Australian troops from Vietnam.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the Minister aware of a report in a Melbourne and a Sydney morning newspaper today which states that he said yesterday in this chamber that the Government was almost at the stage of making a decision on the production of the American N2 STOL light aircraft? ls it true this aircraft was designed by Australians in Australia?
– lt is true that I made a statement yesterday in response to a question asked by Senator Poyser and that I dealt with two matters. 1 dealt with the American proposals in relation to the General Aircraft Corporation and then in response to the question 1 dealt with the Project N proposal, lt is quite obvious that there has been some confusion in the reporting of that statement and that the newspapers have mixed up the American proposal with the Australian proposal, lt needs to be made abundantly clear that a design team of the Government Aircraft Factory in Melbourne has been working on a twin engine, light, fixed wing aircraft known as Project N. lt has no relationship to the American scene at all. 1 also made it. clear yesterday that the design was being considered by the Government at the present time. I see, on looking at the Press reports, that there has been some confusion and that the newspapers have mixed up two different projects.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. By way of preface I refer to the statement of the Minister for Primary Industry that a referendum of dried fruit growers will be held to ascertain their views on the continuation of the dried fruits stabilisation scheme. Will the Minister accede to the request of many growers and hold a referendum to ascertain their views on. the establishment of a statutory marketing board for dried fruits?
– -1 have seen the statement referred to by the honourable senator in relation to the proposed referendum. If the honourable senator places on the notice paper that part of his question which refers to the setting up of a statutory authority I will get a reply from the Minister.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Deputy President. In view of a matter reported in today’s Press to the effect that a commissioner of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had sent an order directing the presence of the Premier of Victoria before the Commission, I ask the following questions: Firstly, how does this summons affect the sovereignty of Parliament? That is a question of fact. Secondly, in an analogous situation where the Leader of the Government in the Senate, as the Minister for Supply, was under such a summons and the Senate forbade the Minister to attend, what juridicial powers would lie against the Senate? This is a question of hypothesis. Thirdly, do you, as the Deputy President, consider that the action of the Commissioner is a variant of the action of that late and unfortunate king. Charles I, in seeking to arrest certain gentlemen in the House of Commons in the time of Mr Speaker Lenthall?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - 1 think that the honourable senator had better let me have a look at those questions.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Were the double bottom tanks of the MV ‘Noongah’ being pumped out before midnight prior to the sinking of the vessel and following the discovery that the ship was making water? fs it correct that because of trouble with the main engine lubricating system the engines had stopped some time before the ship foundered? ff this is correct, and bearing in mind that 2 months prior to the sinking boilermakers carrying out repairs were perturbed by the extent of rust in the bottom tanks in No. 1 hold and insisted on 1,200 rivet heads being welded, does the Minister agree that the vessel was not structurally sound and should not have been engaged in the carriage of steel or similar heavy cargoes?
– We are all very conscious of the disaster which occurred to the vessel ‘Noongah’. I understand that a full inquiry is being held. I have no doubt that all the points raised by the honourable senator will be taken into account and on completion of the inquiry a report will be made.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it not a fact that grower organisations associated with the dried fruits industry have requested the Minister for Primary Industry to hold a referendum? Is it not also a fact that the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which is the major responsible body representing the wool industry, has not requested a referendum with regard to the export ban on merino rams?
– The answer to both questions is yes.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence: Will the Government’s decision regarding purchase of the Fill aircraft be based upon financial considerations or upon the vastly more important consideration of its suitability as a unit of the defence system of this country? Will the the Senate be given full details of the substantially reduced capability of the aircraft subsequent to the placing of our order to purchase it?
– The last part of the honourable senator’s question is ari assumption that he is making. He has included that assumption in a question seeking knowledge. In answer to his queries I can only say that the defence, advisers will be making a recommendation to the Government. The Government very properly - as any government would do - will consider what it should do having . regard to all relevant matters. Since the FI 1 1 is an .aircraft for the defence forces of Australia, that must be and will be the paramount consideration.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, relates to an answer to a question I asked yesterday. In view of the answer given yesterday, will the Minister have a large sign placed in front of the garden bed of gorse between Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin explaining that the gorse docs not produce viable seed? This will serve to reassure visitors from New Zealand, where gorse poses a major and costly problem, that we are not completely out of our senses. Will the Minister approach the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for advice on methods of eradication of rabbits in a garden bed measuring approximately 400 yards by 30 yards? Will the Minister -place a large sign in front of Parliament House pointing towards Lake Burley Griffin stating ‘Rabbits 300 yards’ to clear up any misconceptions that the farming community might have had when they heard of this problem in the national capital? Is the Minister aware that farmers are prosecuted for lack of action in respect of rabbit problems? I am sure that they will not appreciate that Parliament is allowing a nucleus breeding Mock to exist within the multi-million dollar complex of buildings in this area.
– The honourable senator has asked me some very interesting questions about rabbits in the gorse between Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin. Yesterday 1 mentioned to him that I had not seen the rabbits to which he referred but that 1 had seen the gorse. The information I have at present from the Department of the Interior is to the effect that there arc rabbits in that area. Officers of the Department have endeavoured to exterminate them but are having great difficulty because of problems associated with the eradication of rabbits in a garden of that nature. The gorse to which the honourable senator has referred is a variety known as ulex europeous, a double flowering sterile variety which grows 3 feet high and is specially planted in the area as part of the landscaping. In relation to the erection of a sign to indicate that this plant is sterile and to the erection of a sign in front of Parliament House to indicate that the rabbits are located some 300 yards towards Lake Burley Griffin, I will have to take up those matters with the Minister.
I should like to add that as 1 have walked around the area - I said this yesterday - J have not seen any rabbits so T do not believe that there is a’ great number of them here. Evidently the Department thinks that there is. I have noted with great interest, particularly since the construction of Lake Burley Griffin, that there has been a marked increase in the number of birds in the area. These birds have most attractive plumage of various colours, some wearing shorter plumes than others. I have noticed also that the birds make very peculiar but beautiful noises to attract male birds, and I have seen some male birds beautifully plumed to attract the opposite sex. Those remarks which I have directed to birds could apply, I. suppose, to the human beings who frequent the area. One can see beautiful girls playing sport on the grounds between Parliament House and the lake, and they wear their mini skirts no doubt to attract attention. The interesting thing is that we now have males in our society who are also growing beautiful plumage around their bills to attract the opposite sex.
– My question, which is in a more serious vein, is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he seen the report of the statement by a person named Knopfelmacher, who has been an apologist over the years for the Australian Democratic Labor Party, to the effect that the United States is a divided and decadent society and that it may not be able to fight when necessary? If this statement is correct, how does it line up with the Government’s intention to submit to the pressure of the DLP and not make regional arrangements with other naval powers in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia?
– The honourable senator asked me whether I had seen a statement. The answer is no. He also asked whether the statement was correct. I would not be able to vouch for the correctness of the statement, doubly so since I have not seen it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been attracted by the growing number of prominent citizens who have received call-up notices in the latest national service ballot? Is he aware that call-up notices have been received by Sir Frank Packer, publisher; Mr Holding, the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament; Mr Sinclair, the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport; Senator Branson and Mr J. G. Denton, Registrar of the Sydney Diocese? Does this reveal evidence of a concerted move to make a farce of the national service ballot by the submission’ of a large number of false registrations? If not, how does he explain this large number of errors?
– This campaign to make the cause of national service a farce has come to my attention. I would have thought that Senator Georges, like myself, would have interpreted it as a hoax being played by some mischievous people to misrepresent the cause.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister been drawn to a Press statement that the State of New South Wales may import natural gas from New Zealand? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a Press statement that Japan is exploring the possibility of importing natural gas from Papua and New Guinea? In view of the fact that there appears to be a surplus of natural gas in Papua and New Guinea, will the Prime Minister consult with the Premier of New South Wales in an endeavour to persuade him to obtain natural gas supplies for New South Wales from Papua and New Guinea and assist to build up the economy of that Territory? If the Premier of New South Wales is not amenable to persuasion, will the Government use its powers over imports to ensure that preference is given to supplies from- the mandated Territory?
– There are quite a number of implications in that question. I think that in fairness it should be put on the notice paper. It would be best to direct it to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development in the first instance.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. When the investigation into the establishment of low power television stations in western Queensland is conducted will the Minister ensure that in the case of towns such as Longreach, which is surrounded by smaller towns, the station will be of sufficient range to cover these outlying areas or alternatively that the local authority will be given every assistance if it desires to relay programmes to these communities?
– I remind the honourable senator that when the Postmaster-General made his statement in the House he emphasised that it should not be concluded that other areas would not in due course be provided with a service, and that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board would continue its examination of ways and means by which a service might be provided to people resident in other remote areas. Extension of television services to the thirty-eight areas recently announced by the PostmasterGeneral involves an expenditure of $5m to achieve coverage for 110,000 people. The honourable senator, as he has done previously, makes a request that a local authority be given every assistance if it desires to relay programmes to communities which would not be served under the present plan. I have already, I think, told the honourable senator on one occasion, and I now say again on behalf of the Postmaster-General, that any applications made by local authorities for the granting of a licence will be considered. I shall place before the Postmaster-General the request in the latter part of the honourable senator’squestion regarding provision of assistance for the relaying of programmes.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that many professional wool classers are leaving the wool industry because clips that have been classed by them have been rejected on the ground that the skirtings have not been picked, even thou ah it is common practice today for some wool growers not to engage a piece picker, in a shearing shed? Will the Minister agree that an inflexible policy such as is implemented by the Australian Wool Board and wool educational institutions, in particular in New South Wales, makes it virtually impossible for young wool classers entering the industry at considerable expense to themselves to obtain the required number of classed clips to enable them to qualify for a wool classer’s certificate or a professional stencil?. What action if any can and will the Government take to ensure that there is maintained to the Australian wool industry an adequate supply of qualified wool classers?
– I have not noticed particularly a shortage of wool classers but I do know that the industry, which is the great export industry of Australia, has had problems in relation to training and getting sufficient shearers to meet its requirements.
Special schools have been set up in some of the States to encourage people to go into that industry. As to the question of wool classing and there not being enough wool classers, I shall take this matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain from him an answer to the honourable senator’s question, provided that the honourable senator puts it on notice.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, refers to a question asked earlier this morning by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate who referred with approval to certain actions of the American Government. Does this indicate that the Labor Party now approves and follows an American line in foreign policy and defence? Has the Labor Party now adopted the slogan: ‘Our chances dicky, follow Nicky’?
– This is a matter which should be looked at in its right perspective. It is true that there has been a withdrawal of some American troops from Vietnam and that further withdrawals are proposed, but we must not look at that in the wrong way. It does not suggest that the United States of America is moving away from its commitments or responsibilities in Vietnam.
– What does it mean then?
– It simply means, as it has always been intended to mean, that to the degree that the South Vietnamese can take over certain roles now undertaken by the Americans they will do so. This has no relation to the small viable force that Australia has in Vietnam. As I have said before, it is not practicable to put into the field a force which is not composed of all the essential ingredients of a viable force. Australia has a viable force in the field in Vietnam at present. When we put that force into the field America had far fewer troops there than it has at present.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General ask him to give consideration to including the Thursday Island-Bamaga-Weipa area in the next list of television stations to be established?
– 1 shall take this matter up with the PostmasterGeneral and get a reply for the honourable senator.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate facilitate the bringing on of motion No. 7, general business, so that we may consider a suitable resolution, either in terms of the notice of motion or as amended to meet the wishes of the Senate, to enable the officers of the Australian Wheat Board to attend by summons, invitation or request to explain prospects for the sale of wheat?
– On 28th August 1969 a resolution was carried in the Senate that, for the remainder of the session, Government business take precedence of general business. The resolution was necessary because of the work that would have to be performed so that the Senate could complete its business before the dissolution of the other place. Honourable senators are no doubt aware that the other place will be dissolved on Monday, 29th September. It is expected that the Senate will rise on Friday, 26th September. The Senate having voted in favour of Government business taking precedence of general business, I am not prepared to bring on for debate the item under general business which has been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. I think it is quite clear that the Government has a responsibility to ensure that government business is completed.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Deputy President. Is it a fact that in modem day prayer it is a general practice to use the revised version of the Lord’s Prayer and, generally speaking, to drop ‘thee’ and thou’ in favour of ‘you’? Do you consider that by using the old conservative wording in the daily prayer in the Senate we mar our image as with it mcn and women who are dedicated to the task of legislating for the young and the old in an up-to date manner?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I point out to the honourable senator that 1 do not make the Standing Orders. If the honourable senator looks at the Standing Orders he will see that standing order 53 states in definite terms the prayer that the President shall read upon taking the Chair each day. Until such time as the Standing Orders Committee recommends a change and a majority of the honourable senators in this chamber vote in favour of that change, I have no alternative but to read out the prayer in the terms laid down in standing order 53.
SCHOOL OF THE Alfc
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the Minister aware that the School of the Air which is now operating from Charters Towers is to be transferred to Cairns? Is she aware that at present some 112 children receive their education through this station and that another 16 families are waiting to be enrolled? As many of the children living in the southern portion of the present listening range will be deprived of this very necessary educational facility when it is transferred to Cairns, will the Minister give favourable consideration to any approach by the Queensland Department of Education towards maintaining the present school at Charters Towers as well as establishing a new base at Cairns?
– 1 was not aware that the School of the Air which is now being broadcast from Charters Towers is to be transferred to Cairns. These broadcasts in Queensland are organised by the State Government and are conducted through the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in the area. We all know that they do a magnificant job. The School of the Air is a wonderful thing for children who live in lonely and scattered areas. I can well imagine that if the operations of the school at Charters Towers are transferred concern could be caused to many of the children who will not be within the listening range. The honourable senator asks whether the Postmaster-General can assist in doing anything about the matter. I do not know whether he can. It is primarily the responsibility of the Queensland Department of Education, which has an arrangement with the Royal Flying Doctor Service bases. However, I will take the matter up with the Postmaster-General to see whether anything can be done to overcome any loss which may occur as a result of the transfer of this school.
(Question N«. 1453)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Of the 329 applications rejected or deferred during the period 1949-69, . 124 were subsequently approved sothat the nett total was 405.
(Question No. 1482)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answerto the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1483)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
These figures represent the total number of deferrals and rejections. Some of these applications were subsequently approved. Of the 529 cases deferred or refused on security grounds 124 were subsequently approved, leaving a nett total of 403. A nett figure for other deferrals and refusals cannot be obtained without excessive clerical work.
(Question No. 1321)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
How much per week does the Commonwealth Government pay the New South Wales Government for the upkeep of any prisoner in a New South Wales prison who is convicted for an offence in the Australian Capital Territory.
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Under the agreement proposed between the Commonwealth and New South Wales, the Commonwealth will pay the State for each Australian Capital Territory prisoner transferred to a New South Wales Prison an amount per day determined by the New South Wales Comptroller General of Prisons as being the average cost per day of maintaining a prisoner in a New South Wales prison. It is proposed that the agreement will have effect from1 July1 967.
(Question No. 1519)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Can the Minister explain when television advertisements sponsored by the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation which were designed to bring to the attention of the general public the needs of education in Australia were rejected for televising under Section 116 Sub-Section (2) of the Broadcasting and Television Act on the ground that there should be no dramatisation of political matter within 5 years of the event referred to? Were the advertisements accepted by all New
South Wales television stations in the first instance, wilh the exception of Channel 9, and subsequently did all stations refuse to accept the advertisements? Were the advertisements rejected by the individual stations themselves, by the Federation of Commercial Television Stations, or by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board? Does the Minister consider that the drawing of the public’s attention to the urgent needs of education by a professional association vitally interested in the subject necessarily has to be regarded as political?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply. 1 understand that the announcements to which the honourable senator refers, in connection with public education in New South Wales, were withdrawn by a number of commercial television stations in that State following advice from the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations that they contravened Section 116(2) of the Broadcasting and Television Act. Section 116(2) prohibits the dramatisation of any political matter current in the last 5 years. The matter was, I understand, based on legal advice and was not the result of any action by myself or the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
As to the question raised by the honourable senator whether the subject involved was a political matter within (he meaning of Section 116(2) of the Act, this was a legal question, and the television stations acted on the legal advice they obtained.
– by leave- On 14th May 1969, in answer to a question on notice, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) indicated that a statement would be made in Parliament on the Government’s policy on the development of tourism in areas of significance to Aboriginals. Since the appointment of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) as MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs and the appointment of myself as MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities we have been examining this question and other aspects of the involvement of Aboriginals in the tourist industry. We have consulted closely with the Minister for the Interior and we have had the benefit of advice from the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, the Australian Tourist Commission and other interest-id authorities. The Government has responsibility for the protection of Aboriginal sites and the development of tourism near such sites only in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, lt is however interested in the problems as they affect the States, and has been in touch with the States about the protection of sites.
From the tourism point of view the Goverment recognises that the rich traditional culture of the Aboriginal people is of great interest to many visitors - both domestic and overseas. Many visitors wish to see something of the Aboriginal way of life. However, only a handful of (he Aboriginal citizens of Australia today five for even part of the lime in their traditional manner, and most of these people live in remote and inaccessible places. 1 must make it clear that it is not the intention of the Government to permit or encourage the presentation of Aboriginal Australians as tourist attractions, to be looked at and photographed as if they existed to satisfy the curiosity of other people. In all its consideration of the role of Aborigines in the developing tourist industry the Government has considered the interests of the Aboriginal Australians first, and will respect their right to privacy ahead of the interests of the tourist industry or of tourists themselves.
The Government recognises, however, that, particularly in outback areas of centralAustralia and to some extent in northern Australia, the tourist industry is, and will develop further as, an important source of livelihood for the residents. In many places the permanent resident population is predominantly Aboriginal and there could be material advantage for Aboriginal residents as well as for the industry in their greater involvement in the industry, as owners and operators of services for tourists, as producers of goods for sale ‘o tourists, and as employees in the industry. In any development of the tourist industry within the Aboriginal reserves and in developments involving Aboriginal residents outside reserves, the Government considers it essential that nothing should be done without full consultation with, and the agreement of, the Aboriginal residents. Within the reserves in the Northern Territory no development of the industry will be permitted unless it fs planned in consultation with the residents, with their consent and for their material benefit.
Subject to these limitations the Government seeks to involve the Aboriginal communities in the development of any services for tourists and other visitors in or near the areas of those communities. It is envisaged that the funds available for the establishment of Aboriginal business enterprises from the Commonwealth Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises, the Northern Territory Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund, and other sources will make it possible for Aboriginal communities to benefit from the development of tourism when they wish to and in ways which they decide. Some Aboriginal communities are already involved to some extent in the tourist industry in central Australia and elsewhere. For example, the Minister for the Interior recently approved a loan of $14,000 from the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund to a group of Aboriginals at the Jay Creek settlement to establish a refreshment kiosk at Standley Chasm, a popular tourist venue near Alice Springs. This loan will enable them to develop a refreshment and artefacts business under the guidance of an experienced manager. The enterprise will provide employment for a number of Aboriginals and the profits will go to the local Aboriginal community. The venture developed from a roadside refreshment service begun by the Aboriginals with the encouragement of officers of the Northern Territory Administration.
The Government is interested in encouraging the employment of Aboriginals as rangers in national parks and as guides at established tourist attractions. In some places they may be involved not only in the protection of paintings and engravings but in the active restoration and maintenance of paintings in the traditional way and with the approval of those interested in such sites. The Government has plans to encourage and help the development of Aboriginal performances by trained dancers organised on a professional basis. It will encourage the involvement of Aboriginal communities in the production and marketing of arts and craft work and is considering means of fostering the certification of genuine work of this kind by Aboriginals. Aboriginal groups and communities may be assisted towards participation in service industries such as motels and shops.
Because there is great interest in the traditional Aboriginal way of life the Government is examining the possibility of encouraging the establishment, at suitable places, of museums and displays presenting aspects of the traditional culture, possibly entailing live performances of various kinds. It is proposed that Aboriginals should be closely involved in both the planning and the management of such centres and that displays should be integrated on a national basis so that there is a minimum of duplication.
One of the Government’s major concerns in relation to sites where there are rock paintings or engravings, stone arrangements and the like, is to ensure their preservation. Where there are living Aboriginal people with a continuing concern for such sites, their interests must remain paramount. Under legislation in the Northern Territory it is possible to declare sites to be prohibited or prescribed areas, and action has been taken to identify and protect a number of sites in particular areas where they may be exposed to the risk of damage or interference. Many such sites, especially within reserves, are presently protected by their remoteness and difficulty of access. The Government is alive to the need to protect and preserve such sites both inside and outside reserves and to consult the interests of the Aboriginal people in any planning for tourist development near such places
I conclude by again stressing that the Government is concerned to protect Aboriginal antiquities from deliberate and accidental damage and to preserve the interests and respect the wishes of Aboriginal communities and individuals in the development of their participation in the tourist industry. It is concerned to ensure that Aboriginals should secure the maximum material benefit from their participation in the industry in ways which enhance their status as Australian citizens with uniquely interesting cultural traditions.
– by leave - I move:
J ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted, debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
The Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act 1966 expires on 31st October 1969. The Bill now before the Senate gives effect to the Government’s decision announced in the Budget speech to extend the subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers at the existing level of $80 per ton of contained nitrogen for a further 3 years to 31st October 1972. The Bill also makes provision for the payment of subsidy on imported fertilisers under specified conditions. The nitrogenous fertilisers subsidy applies to fertilisers manufactured from inorganic chemical nitrogen and to naturally occurring nitrate of soda sold in Australia for use as fertilisers. The subsidy also applies to the nitrogen content of fertilisers used as a stock food supplement.
The subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers was introduced in 1966. This followed the provision in 1963 of bounty on phosphatic fertilisers. The Government was thus directly encouraging the use of the two major plant nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. On 28th August, when introducing the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Bill, I dealt with the role of phosphorus in primary industry. Nitrogen is also an essential element for plant growth. With the exception of legumes, all plants obtain their requirements of nitrogen from the soil. There are many parts of Australia where climatic or other factors limit the extent to which legumes can be used to increase the availability of nitrogen and in these situations it can be advantageous to add nitrogen fertiliser in order to promote optimum plant growth and yield.
The case for a subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers rests on two main grounds. Firstly, the subsidy provides cost relief for the user of nitrogen and secondly, it encourages the application of nitrogen to crops and pastures where it has been shown to lead to increased productivity and lower unit costs. The subsidy also encourages experimentation with nitrogen application where technical and economic aspects of nitrogen fertilisation have not been fully worked out. Before the subsidy, the high price of nitrogen fertilisers in Australia relative to the prices paid by farmers in countries which were our main competitors in world markets, placed our producers at a heavy cost disadvantage. This was particularly so in those industries where nitrogen was an essential requirement for satisfactory crop production.
I think honourable senators will agree that the primary objective of the subsidy is being substantially achieved. The immediate effect of the subsidy was to reduce the cost of nitrogenous fertilisers to the full extent of the subsidy in proportion to the nitrogen content. For instance, the price of sulphate of ammonia which contains 21% nitrogen, was reduced by $16.80 per ton. Similarly, for urea which is 46% nitrogen, the price was reduced by $36.80 per ton. The subsidy has meant that for most nitrogen fertilisers, Australian farmers have been able to obtain their supplies at prices equal to or lower than can farmers in most other countries. The enhanced productivity has also assisted farmers to contain unit production costs, especially in important export industries such as sugar, fruit, cereals and dairying. For example, it has been estimated that for 1968-1969 the subsidy was worth some $220 to a typical Queensland cane grower.
Over the past 3 years, subsidy payments have totalled $28m, representing equivalent savings in cash outlay on fertiliser nitrogen by farmers. However, since 1965-66, the year just prior to the introduction of the subsidy, the overall Bureau of Agricultural Economics index of prices paid to prices received by the primary producers has continued its downward trend from 102 to 89. Although to some extent this adverse movement in prices paid to received has been offset by increased output, the squeeze on farmers incomes in recent years has not been relieved; in fact it has tightened. There is therefore clear need for the various cost relief measures that the Government has introduced, including this extension of the nitrogen subsidy. Demand from farmers for nitrogen fertiliser has expanded rapidly both in volume and range since 1966. Consumption, expressed as elemental nitrogen, has more than doubled in the 3 years of the subsidy, from slightly under 70,000 tons in 1965-66 to an estimated level of some 140,000 tons in 1968-69. Nevertheless, the potential for encouraging nitrogenous fertiliser use in new areas has not yet been fully realised. With the incentive provided by the extension of the subsidy, use of nitrogenous fertiliser should continue to expand. Subsidy payments in 1969-70 are estimated at $15m. It is confidently expected that the net benefits to the nation will be well in excess of the cost of the Commonwealth subvention. [ now come to the change in policy regarding imports of nitrogenous fertiliser which is introduced in the Bill before the Senate. Since 1966 the bulk of the increased demand for nitrogenous fertilisers has been met by imports. At the time of the introduction of the subsidy, the Government had in mind, apart from the objectives I have mentioned, that the increased demand should encourage local fertiliser production. New nitrogen plants have recently come on stream with a combined capacity more than sufficient to meet total Australian demand. Under the existing Act, subsidy is only payable on those imports which represent the shortfall between the requirements of primary producers and domestic production. Accordingly unless the Act were altered, subsidy would no longer have been payable on most imports. This would have produced a situation where there was a risk that the subsidy could have become a protective device in cases where import prices were below domestic manufacturing costs. Also the northern producer could have suffered by virtue of his distance from centres of domestic manufacture.
It is proposed therefore to amend section 5 of the present Act to allow subsidy to be paid on imported fertiliser, not only where an equivalent is not available in Australia, but also where Australian manufacturers are not prepared to meet the imported price. However there is provision in the amendment to section 6 of the Act to ensure that such imports do not place the Australian manufacturer at an unfair disadvantage where the fertiliser has been exported to
Australia at dumped prices. The wording of the amendment closely follows the wording of the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1961-1965. Subsidy entitlement will be available on imports where the administering Department, the Department of Customs and Excise, after investigation along the lines of that undertaken under the dumping and subsidies legislation, is satisfied that the proposed imports are not dumped and that the transaction will not be matched by an Australian manufacturer.
To sum up; it is the intention of the Government that farmers be able to buy fertiliser at or near to the undumped import price of equivalent nitrogenous fertilisers. At the same time, it is anticipated that the local industry will have the opportunity to supply the great bulk of Australia’s requirements. I informed honourable senators on 12th September that the Australian producers of urea have agreed to sell their product throughout Australia at $79 per ton. I am satisfied that this price for locally produced urea is no higher than the price of non-dumped imports from Japan, the major exporting country.I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[11.35] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals in the repatriation field.
The Government again this year has given consideration to improvements in repatriation pensions and other benefits, and has been able to propose further valuable assistance, particularly for the more seriously handicapped and for war widows.
The Bill therefore provides increased rates for totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners and for those who, because of the nature of their disabilities, receive pensions equivalent to the TPI rate, lt provides also an increase in the intermediate rate and in the special compensation allowance introduced last year for general rate pensioners whose actual war caused incapacity is assessed at or above 75%. Pensions for war widows are increased. There are also increases in attendants allowances. Tn addition the Bill makes the necessary changes to apply in the service pensions area the advances proposed for comparable pensioners under the social services legislation.
The present Bill provides for amendment to the Second Schedule to the Repatriation Act to give effect to an increase of $2.50 per week in the special or TPI rate of pension, which is payable to those whose war caused incapacity is such as to prevent them from earning more than a negligible percentage of a living wage, and to the war blinded. It is also payable to ex-servicemen who are temporarily totally incapacitated, and to certain sufferers from tuberculosis. The new rate will be $36 per week.
Amounts payable under the first six items of the Fifth Schedule to the Act for serious amputations and loss of vision are being increased by $2.50 per week in consequence of the increase in the TPI rate of pension. The intermediate rate war pension, payable under the First Schedule to those who, because of war caused incapacity are able to work only part-time or intermittently, will be increased by $2.25 per week. The new rate will be $26.50 per week.
The Sixth Schedule is being amended to provide an increase in the special compensation allowance. The allowance will be increased by $2 per week at the 100% rate, scaling down proportionately to $1.50 per week at the 75% rate. The new rate of allowance will range from $5 per week for those war pensioners whose actual incapacity is assessed at 100%, to $3.75 per week for those assessed at 75%.
The First Schedule is being amended to provide an increase of $1 per week in the war widows pension which will become $15 per week.
Attendants allowances payable to some classes of severely disabled ex-servicemen including the war-blinded, the paralysed and certain double amputees are to be increased. The allowances are at two separate rates, and the Bill provides for amendments to the Second and Fifth Schedules to increase the lower rate by $1 to $8.50 per week and the higher rate by $2 to $14 per week.
The changes proposed for age and invalid pensioners, including increased pensions rates and the application of the new tapered means test in the main will apply automatically in the repatriation service pension area through amendments to the social services legislation. This Bill, however, makes three necessary amendments to the Repatriation Act to apply the social services changes to service pensioners. Firstly, the Social Services Act is being amended to provide an increase of $2 per week in the guardian’s allowance where there is an invalid child who, in the opinion of the Director-General, requires full-time care and attention. The appropriate comparable authority in the repatriation area is a repatriation board, and an amendment to section 83 covers this point.
Secondly, the deduction from income for means test purposes for a dependent child of a pensioner is to be increased by $1 to $4 a week. This is provided by an amendment to section 87. Finally, it is proposed, and the Bill provides, that those who become eligible for service pension because of the new tapered means test, and apply for pension beofre 31st December 1969, may have their payments back-dated as far as the date of commencement of the act.
In addition to their pensions, service pensioners also receive from the Commonwealth some other benefits commonly referred to as fringe benefits. These are the same as the fringe benefits available to social services pensioners and include the pensioner medical service for the exserviceman and his dependants, concessions on licences for radio and television reception and on telephone rentals, and funeral benefits. The ex-serviceman service pensioner himself however is entitled to treatment under the repatriation system for disabilities noi due lo war service, and normally elects to be treated by repatriation rather than under the pensioner medical service.
In announcing the introduction of the means test taper the Government indicated that the fringe benefits would not be available to means lest pensioners whose eligibility for service pensions depended on the taper and clause 5 of the Bill makes these provisions in respect of service pensioners. The Bill also appropriates the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the extent necessary to provide during the current year the addi tional benefits to which the Bill gives effect. All of the foregoing amendments will come into force from the date on which the amending Act receives Royal Assent.
A table which sets out in full the repatriation Budget details including those covered by this Bill has been prepared, lt is available for information, and for convenience has been attached to copies of this speech which are being circulated. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate it in Hansard.
The measures I have outlined confer valuable benefits on repatriation pensioners, and I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame -Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[1 1.43] -I move:
This Bill is, in effect, complementary to the Repatriation Bill in that together they implement the Government’s decision to increase further the pensions and allowances payable in respect of Australian ex-service personnel and wartime mariners. It is of course the practice to maintain pensions and benefits payable under the Seamen’s War Pensions and. Allowances Act at thesame levels as those payable under the Repatriation Act. The Bill therefore increases by $2 to a maximum of $33.60, the fortnightly rate of pension payable to widows of Australian mariners. It also increases by $4.50, to $53 a fortnight the intermediate rate of pension payable under section 18 (4a.) of the Act to incapacitated Australian mariners unable to earn a living wage because they are unable to engage in remunerative employment, except on a parttime or intermittent basis.
The special compensation allowance provided for those general rate pensioners who, although able to work, are nevertheless seriously incapacitated by war caused disability, is increased by $4 to $10 per fortnight for the 100% rate pensioner. Under section 22b (2.) the new rates scale down proportionately, the new special compensation allowance for the 75% pensioner being $7.50 per fortnight The fortnightly allowance payable in respect of an attendant for an Australian mariner suffering from a specified war-caused disability is increased by $2 and, where a mariner has lost both arms, by $4 to $17 and $28 respectively.
The Bill does not provide forthe increase of $5 to $72 per fortnight in the rate of the TPI pension, as the amended rate under the Repatriation Act will apply to seamen pensioners by virtue of section 22a of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. As usual, under the Bill the increases in pensions and benefits will be payable on the first pension pay day after the date it- receives the royal assent. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this legislation is to implement the Government’s decisions on the second report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education which contained the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on a programme for development of colleges of advanced education during the 1970-72 triennium. As honourable senators will be aware, the Government accepted in full the recommendations as they related to the capital and recurrent programmes in the individual colleges. Since the Bill before the Senate is along the same lines as the Bill which governed our operations in the 1967-69 triennium I intend merely to give the Senate a general review of the financial implications of the Bill and to mention one or two features which seem to merit particular reference.
Under the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill (No. 2) the maximum Commonwealth recurrent grants to the colleges for this current 1967-69 triennium are to be increased to $19. 8m. For the 1970-72 triennium the Commonwealth grant to the colleges in the States will be approximately $43.2m, an- increase of 1.18%. The capital programme for the current 1967-69 triennium called for Commonwealth grants of $24m. The new triennium will call for Commonwealth giants for capital development of $57.4m - the latter including $8m for the Australian Capital Territory. Overall the present proposals call for a total combined Commonwealth and State expenditure of approximately $107m for capital works and $128m for recurrent expenditure.
One of the new features in the Bill, covered by clause 4, allows recurrent expenditure to be transferable within the States as between colleges and as between the years of the triennium, that is, money unexpended in one year may, on request from the State and with the approval of the Commonwealth Minister, be carried forward to a later year of the triennium provided, of course, triennial totals are not breached. The Government has accepted the principle that teacher education is a proper function of the colleges of advanced education. Consequently, the Bill before tha Senate makes provision in its schedules in the first instance for the 1970-72 triennium for schools of education to be developed in association with the colleges of advanced education at Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Wagga, Bathurst and Hobart. Not included in this Bill, which is a States Grants Bill, is the Canberra College of Advanced Education which also is proceeding with plans for the introduction of a school of teacher education. Funds for the Canberra College generally will appear in the annual estimates of the Department of Education and Science. The Bill also provides for the development or redevelopment of colleges at Wagga, Bathurst and Orange in New South Wales, at Roseworthy and the School for Dental Therapists in South Australia, at Muresk in Western Australia, and at Prahran and Warrnambool in Victoria.
A feature which is receiving marked attention is the provision of residential colleges, where appropriate, in colleges of advanced education. At Toowoomba and Rockhampton colleges have been developed in this triennium and in the next triennium there are, for example, further developments at Rockhampton, extension to residential accommodation at Hawkesbury and Wagga Agricultural Colleges, and new residential accommodation at Bendigo and Ballarat. There are extensions to the resitial accommodation already available at Roseworthy and a new residential college is being built in association with the Kalgoorlie School of Mines. There is one feature of the residential accommodation question which merits particular attention. At Toowoomba and at Kalgoorlie two colleges will be erected with the help of private subscription; the arrangement here being similar to that applying to university affiliated colleges in that the Commonwealth provides a dollar for every dollar raised privately. Funds for these purposes are included in the second schedule to the Bill.
As provided for in clause 6, we are continuing on the same basis as in the last triennium, our unmatched grant of $500,000 for the development of college libraries in the 1970-72 triennium. These grants are intended to be additional to the State efforts in the development of library services within the colleges. In conclusion, it may be said that the recurrent and capital schedules to this Bill incorporate a programme for the colleges of advanced education in the Australian States as proposed to us in the second report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education and I therefore commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise adjustments to the programme of colleges of advanced education in the States for the present 1967-69 triennium. Provision is made for additional sums for recurrent expenditure and for a few variations in the capital programme. However, because of savings elsewhere, due principally to delays in proceeding with major capital projects in New South Wales and Tasmania, the present changes can be accommodated within the total sums available from the Commonwealth under the approved programme for the 1967-69 triennium. The net effect will be a saving of approximately $l.3m in Commonwealth grants. The level of Commonwealth grants for recurrent purposes will be increased by $2,014,440 as is shown by a table which compares State by State the maximum recurrent grants available under the existing legislation and the new maximum levels for recurrent grants as proposed in the Bill. I have also prepared further tables showing the variations, college by college, in the Commonwealth’s contributions under both the recurrent and capital programmes. With the concurrence of honourable senators, T will have all the tables incorporated in Hansard.
While the situation varied from Stale to State, the Government agreed that for this, the first triennium of college development, there were sound reasons for adjusting the levels of recurrent grants. Among the factors which led us to this conclusion are:
The following additional projects are to be included in the capital programme for the present triennium:
The proposals now before the Senate arise from investigation and report by the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education after requests had been made by the various States. Each State has signified its willingness to support the higher levels of recurrent expenditure and. where appropriate, the variations in the capital programe, under the usual matching arrangements for Commonwealth grants. The Schedules to the Bill are the original Schedules adjusted to meet the new situation.
Whereas the Commonwealth has agreed in this first full triennium for the colleges of advanced education to supplement the recurrent programme and to admit new projects to the capital programme it intends for the future to follow the triennial principle. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Dill be now read a second time.
This Bill is purely a machinery measure to provide legal authority for a number of variations in the building programmes of universities and teaching hospitals associated with universities in the 1967-69 triennium.
It is now more than 4 years since universities made the submissions to the Australian Universities Commission upon which the 1967-69 building programmes were based. Circumstances have changed in that time necessitating variations in the building programmes for a number of reasons. Some changes have arisen as the more detailed planning of the particular project was developed - for example, in the case of the grant provided for the erection of a building at Moggill for veterinary clinical studies in the University of Queensland, it has been found to be more satisfactory to provide two separate buildings, one for reception and administration purposes and the other for animal laboratory purposes. The two buildings will be provided within the total grant approved for a single building. In other cases, cost increases have necessitated the defernment of portion of an approved project until a later triennium, or a development since the submissions were made has led to a request for a variation in the programme. An example of the latter is that of the University of Western Australia where four plant environmental control growth cabinets have been made available to the University from wheat industry research funds. The University wishes to use part of the grant approved for glasshouses for the faculty of agriculture to provide a building to house the growth cabinets.
All variations provided by the Bill are supported by the Australian Universities Commission and have been agreed to by the State governments concerned. I would like to emphasise that the variations do no more than provide for a re-allocation of the approved capital grants to meet changed circumstances and do not increase the total grants provided for the universities in the current triennium. In commending this Bill to the Senate, I would remind honourable senators that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will shortly be introducing a further Bill authorising the grants for the 1970-72 triennium and there will be an opportunity to debate matters relating to the forthcoming triennium when that Bill reaches the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
(12.2] - I move:
This Bill authorises the Commonwealth grants for assistance to universities in the triennium 1970-72 which the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) outlined on 21st August 1969 when presenting the Fourth Report of the Australian Universities Commission. As honourable senators will by now have had an opportunity of studying the details contained in the Commission’s report and in the Minister’s statement of 21st August, I propose to confine my second reading speech to an outline of the provisions of the Bill.
As the Minister explained in his statement, the Bill sets out the maximum contributions the Commonwealth will make to both the capital and recurrent programmes at the various State universities, but the initiative rests with the States themselves to determine the actual levels of expenditure at each university. Where capital grants are provided for affiliated residential colleges, matching contributions must be found by the colleges themselves, though it is customary in most States for the State Government to provide portion of the marching contribution. For the most part the Bill follows the pattern of the legislation which provides the grants for the triennium 1967-69.
The first two clauses of the Bill are formal. Clause 3 provides for grants payable to the States in connection with the general recurrent expenditure of their universities during the triennium 1970-72. The conditions on which the grants will be paid are unchanged from those applicable in the triennium 1967-69. The full particulars of the grants are shown in the First Schedule to the Bill. Clause 4 repeats the present specification of the salary levels which will be supported by the Commonwealth for the more senior academic posts. The programmes of the universities for capital expenditure on buildings, site works, site acquisition, computing equipment and future planning, which the Commonwealth has approved, will be financed in accordance with the provisions of clause 5. Details of the Commonwealth contributions to these programmes appear in the Second Schedule to the Bill. This clause and Schedule follow closely the lines of the legislation for the triennium 1967-69.
There is no parallel in the legislation for the triennium 1967-69 to clause 6 of the Bill. The clause has been inserted to enable universities to obtain items of capital equipment, which in the terms of the legislation are single items costing more than $40,000 each, a matter to which the Minister referred in his statement to the House on 21st August. The Third Schedule to the Bill sets out the Commonwealth provision for each university on the basis of a $1 for $1 matching by the States.
Clause 7 of the Bill makes provision for the special grants for research and research training which appear in the Fourth Schedule to the Bill. The Commonwealth contribution represents half the cost of the total programme, in addition to which the Commonwealth will bear in full the cost of the Australian Research Grants Committee’s programme for which provision is included in the annual appropriation Bills. Provision for capital and recurrent grants to affiliated residential colleges and halls of residence is made in clauses 8 and 9 and in the Fifth Schedule to the Bill. Clauses 10,11 and 12 provide for capital and recurrent grants to teaching hospitals associated with univer sity medical schools. Details of the grants are shown in the Sixth and Seventh Schedules to the Bill.
The Bill authorises a Commonwealth contribution of approximately $227 m in the 1970-72 triennium towards a total programme for the State universities of $586m. The latter figure represents an advance of about $119m over the programme for the triennium 1967-69. Of the total Commonwealth contribution, $6 1.6m is provided for capital expenditure and $165. lm for recurrent expenditure. These figures do not include Commonwealth grants for the Australian National University; as in the past, provision for the Australian National University is included in the annual appropriation Bills.
I commend the Bill to the Senate and assure honourable senators that its adoption will permit the sound development of the Australian university system in the forthcoming triennium.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 17 September (vide page 999).
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $71,002,000.
Proposed provision, $1,362,200.
I have certain queries that I wish to raise.
– Order! The honourable senator is incorrect. The debate on the estimates for the Department ofthe Treasury was completed last night.
– I thought the resolution carried was simply to report progress.
– No. We went past 11 p.m. for the purpose of disposing of those estimates.
– I relate my remarks to the administrative expenses incurred by the Department. 1 refer to page 81 of the Auditor-General’s Report which refers to ‘the purchases of premises in Paris. If we cast our minds back to last year’s Auditor-General’s Report, we find that paragraph 80 referred to the Department’s acquisition in 1963 of a property in Paris which was intended for the accommodation of embassy staff, lt was not occupied by the Department until after 31st December 1965, when the vendor’s right of occupancy ceased. Page 81 of this year’s Audi torGeneral’s Report states:
Mention was made of the eventual nonacceptability of the premises for an Australian Chancery and of the decision to dispose of the property on the most favourable terms and conditions possible.
Following the presentation of my 1967-68 Report, matters relating to the acquisition of this property were examined by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and were reported upon in its One hundred and fifth Report. The Committee’s Report made reference to inadequacies in the initial surveys of security and accommodation needs prior to the acquisition of the property.
During 1968-69 the Departments of External Affairs, Treasury and Works, recognising the need for the more precise definition of procedures for overseas accommodation requirements and for obtaining the necessary approvals, met as an interdepartmental committee known as the Programming of Overseas Works .Committee. The formal role of this committee in conjunction with the existing Overseas Building Committee, and the principles and procedures to be followed in the planning, acquisition or construction of properties overseas, were under consideration by the abovementioned departments when this Report was prepared.
Can the Minister give me some idea as to how far this new committee has gone? Is it functioning satisfactorily? Has it been able to prevent any purchase of properties which would have been unsuitable, as was the property purchased in Paris in 1963?
– I rise to ventilate several matters dealing with this Department. I relate the first matter to the Department’s administrative expenses. I want to link up that reference with a reference to page 31 of the Department of External Affairs Annual Report. Honourable senators will note there a brief reference to that unsavoury episode at Double Bay in Sydney when the Yugoslav consulate was the victim of a bombing attack. Among other things, the report states:
The Australian Government strongly condemns acts of terrorism.
The report also mentions that the Government is taking measures to detect and prevent any further attempts at harassment. That is the understatement of the year. A senior Minister of this Government showed a shocking lack of appreciation of his position when he virtually expressed his approval of what happened. On the Sunday morning the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), referring to the attackers, said: They are good chaps’. That was his remark. If a statement such as that were made by a Minister in any of the other Commonwealth countries, his head would have been on the block. I wonder what were the private thoughts of our Ambassador in Belgrade about the Commonwealth Treasurer when the Ambassador had to convey an official apology to the Yugoslav Government. I would also like to know what the Prime Minister thought about the episode. This is one reason why I stand four-square behind the Parliamentary Country Party in its stated policy that this man should never be Prime Minister. If that is his concept of diplomatic niceties, I agree with the Country Party.
I shall skip the rest of the phraseology in the report. Have we as yet paid the bill for reconstruction of the consulate premises? Have there been any similar incidents in Canberra? Have we as yet paid those accounts? What is more important, what have the Commonwealth police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation done about rounding up some of these bomb-happy people? This is not the first time that I have referred to such attacks. On a previous occasion when dealing with the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department I referred to similar incidents. I referred to the infamous Lesic, who suffered the fate he deserved. Nobody in this chamber can deny what happened there. It would be much better if, when he is replying, the Minister were to say: *Yes, X and Y were deported,’ or: ‘X and Y were gaoled.’ He should tell us what has happened instead of expecting us to be content with the virtual whitewash contained in the report. As I look through this well laid out publication I see a photograph of Sir Paul Hasluck meeting the ruler of Yugoslavia. My Party believes in trade with the various nations of the world, and meetings between eastern European rulers and Australian leaders are doubly welcome, but we must not have these double standards.
People have been dealt with for nonpeaceful demonstrations outside the United States Embassy and the United States Consulate, and rightly so. There was no covering up in those cases.- They found their level in the law courts but, as yet, I have received no satisfactory explanation as to why certain people were not charged over the Double Bay incident.
I should like some information concerning Division 250 sub-division 5, item 15, which relates to Foreign Exchange Operations Fund, Laos. The appropriation sought is $643,000. It is to be noted that whereever the United States has troops stationed at least some effort is made, even though it may be to a limited extent, to combat food racketeering even if it is only to prevent sponging on United States taxpayers. I should like to be assured that the $643,000 which we apparently intend spending on this item will not be used to prop up some of the corrupt merchant groups who always seem to be fattening on the starvation and degradation suffered by the people in various parts of Asia.
The final matter with which I wish to deal is referred to on page 91 of the report where mention is made of international agreements on consular matters. The reference is made to Iceland and Norway. I take it that the ordinary Australian traveller pays a regular fee for his passport and that the visa question is a separate matter altogether. I wish to deal particularly with our relations with France, and to refer to the experience of Mr Lindsay North, a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. This man is quite a prominent figure. In addition to being a member of the Legislative Council, he is returning officer for the Australian Council of Trade Unions and a member of the New South Wales Tennis Federation Council. Like members of this Parliament, he received an official passport, but I understand that when he visited Noumea last year it was found necessary to enlist the support of Mr Quamby in order to straighten out a problem that had arisen due to the attitude adopted by the French Government. The French authorities requested a letter setting out the purpose for which Mr North was visiting Noumea. I do not know whether there was a sort of a security scare in Noumea at the time, but I understand that this request was out of character with the general nature of our relations. I should like the Minister to straighten out this matter for me.
– I wish to enlarge on the matter raised by Senator Drury - the question of accommodation in our overseas embassies. I relate my remarks to either Division 250 - Administrative, or Division 252 - Overseas Service, whichever is appropriate. I notice in the Auditor-General’s report reference to the fact that, as was stated by Senator Drury, an interdepartmental committee called the ‘Programming of Overseas Works Committee’ has been appointed. Again, as Senator Drury mentioned, this committee was appointed as a consequence of something that happened with respect to a building in Paris, and which indicated some lack of thought on somebody’s part. But I do not wish to go into that aspect now.
I should like to know whether the Government will be submitting any reports on the activities of this interdepartmental committee. Will we be informed of some of the assessments that it makes and some of the difficulties that it sees during its consideration of the problems that arise in connection with overseas accommodation for diplomatic and other staff representing this country? If so, at what intervals will the reports be made?
The reason why I show an interest in this matter is that because, like quite a number of honourable senators who have had the opportunity of going overseas and meeting the members of our staff in the various embassies, consulates and administrative offices abroad, I formed the impression that the attitude adopted towards many of these people is one of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Tn my opinion, many of the conditions under which they live and work are not of the standard that they should be. We give a good deal of thought and consideration to matters affecting the conditions under which the employees of various departments in Australia live and work, but we receive very little information as to the conditions under which those officers of the Department of External Affairs who are employed outside this country live and work or of the difficulties that they may be suffering. It is my humble opinion that some of the accommodation we supply to our officers who are stationed overseas is, at the best, sub-standard. It is high time that some committee took a deep look at the situation and arrived at the conclusion that has been arrived at by a number of other people who have been abroad and noticed some of the conditions under which they work. It is high time that these officers had some amelioration of their conditions. They have difficult tasks to perform on behalf of this country and it is high time that they were given the facilities to which they are entitled. I would hope that, in addition to studying matters associated with the problems arising from the building in Paris, an investigation will be made into the living conditions and other matters affecting our representatives abroad. I also hope that the Senate and the other place will be given reports from time to time of what those conditions are and of what difficulties our officers abroad suffer.
– 1 am anxious to deal with this matter by way of review of the administrative operations and not by way of general debate on foreign policy. 1 compliment the Department for producing an excellent report for the third year in succession. I relate my remarks to Division 250 and Division 251. The report furnished by this Department is a good one and I am pleased to see this continuing trend with its annual reports, lt is one of the best annual reports considered by this Parliament as far as details of functional work are concerned, the general chain of command, organisation tables and the Department’s quite large area of work and responsibility. All in all, those who have had the chance to look at it. even though perhaps briefly, can glean from the report an accurate picture of what the Department does and seeks to do.
I have had the good fortune of having worked, even though briefly, in something like thirty overseas posts, to have met the staffs in those posts and to have discussed the problems of the country and the post with them. In some cases I have discussed with them their own personal problems. As honourable senators opposite have said, Australia’s representatives overseas do meet with many problems. In many cases they make great personal sacrifices. In many instances both our representatives and their wives are out on almost every night of the week. They live under some degree of hardship. As Senator Toohey has quite properly said, there is a tendency to regard them as being out of sight and out of mind. Many people look upon the activities of external affairs officers overseas as enjoying a sort of gigantic social round and look upon them as being extremely fortunate to be posted overseas. The tremendous amount of work done by both husband and wife is seldom appreciated and here I pay my tribute to the Department and its officers. I have now had quite a lot to do with many of them. They are people of uniformly high quality and dedication and we should be very proud of them.
I direct attention to the general question of what we are trying to do in overseas representation. The Department of External Affairs fundamentally is concerned with diplomacy, evaluating political situations, trying to see what is happening around the world in areas of general interest and reporting back, and expressing the Australian viewpoint in other countries and seeing that it is not distorted and that it is understood. In addition it performs consular activities, as we all know, in respect of Australians who need help, sometimes with normal personal problems concerned with travel and passports and sometimes with problems of difficulty and distress. Then we have another range of activity in our overseas representation, namely, the trade area. Sometimes these things run well together; sometimes they clearly do not run well together. We are also involved in immigration considerations in our overseas representation. Increasingly we are involved in the activities of the Treasury overseas, in the sense of what is happening on the international monetary scene and in respect of Australia’s ability to raise loans overseas. 1 have come to the view that what we need in this country is a total review of what we are trying to do in representation overseas in the full sense. I believe that this is something that should be put in hand fairly soon. This country has a lot of representational problems overseas. These arise from the sheer character of our nation, the pattern of our general production that passes into world trade, the dependence of this country on world trade and our very critical position in regard to the whole of the Asian and Pacific area. Australia is a country of great stability in a world of considerable ferment and change. There is a great interest in what we think, and we have a great interest in what other people think. My view is that we should he representing ourselves overseas not so much departmentally as in the long and extended arm of Australia’s interest.
I know that this will cause distress in some quarters; but I have come to the view that what we should do is really represent ourselves substantially in the one department which is Australia’s extension overseas or Australia’s office in the total sense, encompassing within the general area of representation the activities of external affairs, diplomacy and consular representation as well as trade, immigration and treasury representation, so that any person with any problem in relation to Australia can come into one office and see one ambassador under whom all the departments function.I believe that this could be usefully done.
I suggest to honourable senators that there have been two reviews in particular which throw some light on this matter. One is the report of the Plowden Committee on conditions and payments in the British Foreign Office, which I believe led in part to the total review of the British Foreign Office and the amalgamation and restructuring of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. I believe that that has been a useful exercise for the United Kingdom and one which we could well consider if we believe that representation overseas is a total thing and not a thing to be fractionated. The report of the Duncan Committee which was set up recently in the United Kingdom to examine the whole of the overseas representational pattern of that country has just been issued. The chapter headings are worth recording. They are as follows:
Chapter I - The Role of Overseas Representation in the Conduct of British Foreign Policy
Chapter II - The Structure of the Diplomatic Service
Chapter III - The Management of the Diplomatic Service
Chapter IV- Potfiical Work
Chapter V - Commercial Policy and Economic Work
Chapter VI - Commercial Work
Chapter VII - Aid Administration
Chapter VIII - Information and Culture
Chapter IX - Consular Work
Chapter X - Civilian Attaches
Chapter XI - Service Attaches
Chapter XII - Accommodation
Those headings indicate what 1 am trying to say. We should look at our overseas representational problem totally and see whether we can consider combining these functions and so becoming more effective in our representation and getting more value for the Australian taxpayer’s dollar. I commend those thoughts to my colleagues.
– The discussion of these estimates so far has been quite interesting. At least three of the matters raised are not really to be found in the estimates, and consequently my references to them will be very brief. Senator Mulvihill and Senator Drury referred to the Programming of Overseas Works Committee. They tied their comments primarily to the reference in the Auditor-General’s Report to the purchase in Paris. The Committee is not referred to in the estimates, but, as Senator Drury pointed out, it has been formed and it comprises representatives of the Department of External Affairs, the Department of Works and the Treasury. Ils function is to formulate a programme of construction and review of construction projects overseas. It is also responsible for the evaluation of premises proposed to be purchased. I think this is the point that was made. The Committee is currently considering revised procedures to be followed in purchase and construction projects overseas. I understand that it has been in existence for only something short of a year. So, it is early days for the Committee.
The sorts of questions posed were: Whether the Committee would publish any reports, whether it would publish its findings, what its work load is and what it does. In answer to those questions, at this time I can only say that initially it will be answerable to the Minister in the same way as is any other committee that is ict up. Although it has members co-opted from other departments, administratively it will be responsible to one Minister. 1 understand that it will be responsible to the Minister for External Affairs. What he will do after the Committee presents reports is a matter on which I am not competent to comment yet. Jo the normal course of events, this Committee would be like any other committee. The procedure would be that it would prepare its report and present it to the Minister. 1 can see no reason why, in normal circumstances, that report would not be made available to the Parliament. Senator Toohey raised much the same sorts of queries as Senator Drury raised.
asked questions concerning the unfortunate happenings that occurred in Sydney in relation to a Yugoslav consular building. Ail I can say to him on that matter is that no claim or request has been made to the Australian Government in relation to any repair, renovation or restoration of the consular building. I understand that in the case of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics embassy building in Canberra the Commonwealth has undertaken to carry out certain repair work.
– The Russians asked for it to be done.
– I presume that they asked for it to be done, whereas the Yugoslav embassy staff, ambassador or consul has not done so up to this time.
Senator Toohey’s reference to the Programming of Overseas Works Committee was, perhaps, on a wider canvas than Senator Drury’s. 1 point out that conditions overseas are subject to continuous review by the Public Service Board, submissions by the various Department of External Affairs posts and inspections by departmental inspectors of accommodation, terms and local conditions. An inspection has been completed of the south and central American area and the southern Pacific area. The result of that inspection is now being examined within the Department. As a result of that study, proposals will be made to the relevant departments.
– Does that apply to living conditions?
– In this case it would. I will refer in a moment to one other matter raised by Senator Mulvihill. Senator Cotton expressed the point of view that the various aspects of our overseas operations should be the subject of some rationalisation. He said that whereas we have ambassadorial posts, consulates, trade posts, immigration centres and various other centres, he thought that consideration should be given to drawing them all together under some form of central control. This is a point of view which is worthy of consideration. lt is a matter not so much for the debate on the estimates as perhaps the discussion of an international affairs document. I would have some reservations about doing that. For instance, in the United Kingdom we have the Austraiian High Commissioner’s Office. We have a tendency to have all matters in the United Kingdom directed to that centre and 1 should have thought there was a trend towards some sort of break up and separation. As Senator Cotton will agree, such a proposal as he has suggested would have to be the subject of very close study and report before it could be adopted.
– There was a directive by Sir Robert Menzies on this matter.
– That is going back a little way. What Senator Cotton has suggested is that there have been studies and reports, such as the United Kingdom report to which he referred, which could be good background material for studies that it might be proposed to undertake. Speaking personally, I would have some reservations in relation to some of the proposals that are being suggested.
Senator Mulvihill spoke about the contributions to the Foreign Exchange Operations Fund in Laos. The purpose of the Fund is to support the value of the kip, which I understand is the basic unit of Laotian currency. The members of the Globe Fund are the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and Australia. Funds amount to approximately $US25m and are controlled by a board composed of representatives of the member countries. The Fund purchases Laotian currency on the open market as an anti-inflationary measure. The results of the operations of the Fund have been to produce considerable monetary stability for Laos. To that extent it is doing very valuable work.
– I have some queries about the Food for India campaign. Has the Government revised its views on food relief for India? ls it in touch with the progress in that country towards self sufficiency in wheat production? India does not need wheat. I have been associated with one of the campaign committees. We found that there are a lot of people who ought to be interested but are not. We had great difficulty with the Milk for India campaign. We found that while State governments were prepared to meet freight costs to a certain extent they were not prepared to pay the whole cost of the freight on food sent to India. The committees which were collecting food from New South Wales school children, who used to bring a pound of dried milk or other food, then had to get it to India.
Tons of food stuffs were lying around on the wharves in Sydney and Melbourne for a long time waiting for ships to transport it to India. International ships almost had to volunteer to take it, as they eventually did. Have we any more sophisticated organisation than that to handle these gifts of food? The Government, 2 years ago at any rate, said in effect : ‘Well, if you have the time to collect the food and the money to pay for its transport to Sydney and Melbourne you have the ability to collect the money to pay for it to be sent to India’. This is a miserable policy. The people who worked for the Food for India campaign naturally resented it. Has the Government given any thought to providing a receiving organisation for the food collected by people who are interested in this work?
I would like to know what happens at the other end. I have had a little experience of this matter. I spent a week in Bombay and other Indian cities where I saw Australian gift dried milk, chocolate and other things finding their way onto the counters and shelves of shopkeepers who were charging high prices for them. The explanation was that an Indian who was hungry and who received one of these food parcels could do more for his family with the money he got by selling it than if he kept the food. Is there any organisation at the other end where this food is received which controls such things? It comes to mind that we were sending wheat there and the Indians no longer want it. We know that because they are self sufficient in regards to wheat. They are exporting wheat.
– India imported wheat last year.
– India is exporting wheat this year. I could be wrong. I may be reading the wrong Indian newspapers. Let us say that the situation has levelled out. They do not need wheat now. It is not now urgent for them to get it. What I have to know is whether the Government has a department which has these matters under control. Is such an organisation in sight, or is it still left to the do-gooders within the community who want to help in this work? I think the Government ought to take a greater interest in this matter. It should see what is happening so that people will not be wasting their time by working for charity, as they think it is. The Government should see that the right thing is done at the other end with the food and materials which are sent over. I shall await with interest the Minister’s reply.
– I relate my remarks to the overseas services of the Department of External Affairs. I wish to draw attention to the proposed expenditure for our various embassies and consulates and other overseas representation. When we look at the proposed expenditure for salaries and payments in the nature of salary we find that most of the votes are from 5% to about 30% more than last year’s expenditure. Some actually show a reduction, but when we come to administrative expenses there are some very remarkable changes in the amounts. In some cases the amount is up and in some cases it is down. First of all, I direct attention to the Australian Embassy in Greece where administrative expenses last year were $121,314. The proposed expenditure for this year is $165,200.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was referring to the appropriations for our embassies set out in Division 252 in the Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure. Provision is made for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries and for administrative expenses. I had drawn attention to the fact that in most cases the appropriation for salaries had increased by from 5% to 30%, with a few notable exceptions. I am curious as to why for some embassies there has been a substantial reduction. For instance, the provision for salaries payable at our embassy in the Republic of Mexico has decreased this year to $82,500 from last year’s figure of $94,993; for the High Commission in Pakistan the fall is from $127,120 to $117,200; and at our embassy in Russia the provision for salaries is $136,600, compared with last year’s expenditure of $141,203.
Some extraordinary changes, up and down, appear in the estimates for administrative expenses for the coming year. The provision for our embassy in the Republic of the Argentine is for $94,400, as against last year’s expenditure of $70,749; Greece, an increase from $121,314 to $165,200; Iran, a fall from $149,546 to $94,000. I wonder whether the Minister can explain why there are such substantial variations, up and down, in administrative expenses. It is expected that administrative expenses for our embassy in the Republic of Ireland will rise to $77,800 from last year’s expenditure of $31,199. The appropriations for our embassy in the Republic of Italy show that although payments for salaries are expected to fall, administrative expenses are expected to increase.
Administrative expenses for our embassy in Japan are expected to fall from $311,636 to $259,100. On the other hand, at our embassy in Laos administrative expenses are expected to rise from last year’s expenditure of $86,158 to $125,400. A fall of about $30,000 for the year is expected in the administrative expenses at our embassy in the Republic of Korea. Last year administrative expenses at our Thailand embassy were $446,659. The appropriation for this year is for $325,400. Further changes in respect of administrative expenses are as follows: Turkey, a fall from $181,834 to $85,500; United States of America, a reduction from $1,234,333 to $892,100; Vietnam, from $411,699 to $298,100; and Kenya from $130,136 to $79,600. On the other hand it is expected that administrative expenses at our High Commission in Pakistan will rise from last year’s expenditure of $130,225 to $199,300. At our High Commission in Singapore administrative expenses are expected to fall from last year’s expenditure of $285,880 to $172,700. I would like the Minister to explain why there are such terrific variations, particularly in administrative expenses and in some cases in salaries.
– To which document is the honourable senator referring?
– Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure. 1 am citing details from Division 252 - Overseas Services. The salaries bill at our Deputy High Commission at Dacca is expected to increase by over $39,000. I could understand the situation if there were a few variations, but I have pointed out some extraordinary variations, particularly in administrative expenses, and also a few for salaries. In some cases the provision for one item has increased while the provision for the other item has decreased.
– Senator Lawrie has rattled off figures for about twenty countries and has asked me for an explanation of the variations. I cannot supply an explanation at such short notice for the series of countries he has specified. I will obtain a considered reply and send it to him. I hope the honourable senator appreciates that circumstances vary greatly between each item. For instance, at one embassy considerable expense might be involved for maintenance work which will not be repeated for a number of years. There may be variations because rent is paid at some embassies and not at others. The information I have with me does not allow me to answer these specific questions that the honourable senator has asked, but I will get a reply for him from the Department.
asked about shipments of wheat to India. Australia has made large contributions of wheat to India in each of the past 4 years. Last year we gave 70,000 tons. Consideration is still being given to the size of the gift of wheat to be made to India this year. Senator Ormonde also referred to gifts of flour to India. In the past the Government has paid the freight on gifts of flour to India by people and organisations. However, it is not possible for the Government to continue to do so in an unlimited fashion simply because people, in the goodness of their hearts, gather flour to be donated to India and approach the Government to pay the freight charges on it. There must be some control.
People and organisations have been asked when gathering flour for India to seek to collect also the freight charges payable on the gift to be sent to India. I think everyone will accept that the Government could not automatically accept an unlimited commitment for freight charges payable on gifts of flour to India because all of our overseas assistance given through the Department of External Affairs is a budgetary matter. It has to be determined as a budgetary item from time to time.
– I assume that the Minister is seeking information on the matter that I raised about the Honourable L. North, M.L.C.
– The only other matter I wish to raise is linked with the administration of the Department and the composition of our various embassies. In the Estimates the Australian embassy in Yugoslavia is shown to be at the Hotel Majestic in Belgrade. I have not been in eastern Europe for 3 years. When I was last there the accommodation of our embassy had limitations. In view of the building expansion in new Belgrade I am wondering whether we are still house hunting there. I appreciate Senator Cotton’s remarks about the problems involved in the big increase in migration from Yugoslavia. I will not canvass that situation now. As I understand it, while our embassy is based at the Hotel Majestic it is under an obligation to the British embassy for certain facilities. This difficulty would disappear if we were to establish our own embassy building in new Belgrade.
– I understand that we are still there and that we have a house.
– Is it in the old city or the new city? There is a big difference in real estate values.
– It is in the old city.
– I notice that in Division No. 250 there is an appropriation this year of $100,000 for cultural relations overseas. This compares with the appropriation and expenditure of about $20,000 last year. The appropriation for 1969-70 represents a significant increase. Is this tied in with the arts which were the subject of discussion during the debate on the estimates for the Prime
Minister’s Department? The Minister did say that a lot was being done in the matter of taking Australian culture to other countries. I should like the Minister to tell me the reason for the significant increase. Turning to sub-division 5 which relates to international development and relief, I notice a new appropriation of $2. 65m for the provision of technical assistance in the form of experts and equipment under the Colombo Plan. I know that over the years Australia has made a substantial contribution to the Colombo Plan with both equipment and expertise. What field is being covered by this completely new appropriation? In the next item, ‘Colombo Plan - Technical Assistance - Training’, both expenditure last year and appropriation this year have been held at pretty well the same level.
Item 19 relates to an appropriation of $50,000 for the World Meteorological Organisation voluntary assistance programme for world weather watch. Again there is a significant increase in appropriation, the appropriation and expenditure for last year both being only $10,000. ls the work in question being done in co-operation with countries such as the United States which, by means of satellites and so on, today are able to obtain a far more accurate weather pattern than previously was the case? This is most advantageous in forecasting storms and cyclones, diseases in crops and so on. If we are not engaging in this activity in conjunction with other countries are we acting on our own?
– I shall deal with the matters which have been raised so far because I shall have to leave the chamber at half past two and I do not want to have any questions outstanding. Senator Young referred to the appropriation of $100,000 for cultural relations overseas. This appropriation is to cover the provision of two scholarships for Japan and the presentation of libraries to universities in Japan, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and the Republic of China. As the honourable senator pointed out, the appropriation last year was $20,000 and expenditure $19,983.
– Then this is being done predominantly in the South East Asian and Asian areas.
– Yes. The honourable senator then referred to the new appropriation of $2.65m for the provision of technical assistance in the form of experts and assistance under the Colombo Plan. Provision is made under this appropriation for the supply of livestock materials and technical equipment to 46 projects. Experts and advisers for both project and individual assignments are expected to total about 150 in 1969-70. Some 114 experts were in the field at 30th June 1969. This new item of expenditure is to make clearer that technical assistance can be in the form of the provision of experts and equipment or in the form of trade in Australia. This was done at the request of the Treasury. In other words, there is a breakup of the situation.
The other matter the honourable senator mentioned was the appropriation of $50,000 for the World Meteorological Organisation. As he pointed out, the appropriation represents a significant increase over the appropriation and expenditure last year. The Australian Government announced on 12th March 1969 that it had agreed to donate $50,000 annually from 1969 to 1971 to the voluntary assistance programme of the World Meteorological Organisation, a specialised agency of the United Nations. Australia’s contribution to the voluntary assistance programme will be divided into two components - a grant of $10,000 a year to the World Meteorological Organisation, and the provision of aid in the form of technical equipment and advice up to an amount of $40,000 annually to meet the needs of the South East Asian area.
– My attention has been attracted to the new appropriation of $12,000 for a contribution to the International Social Service of Japan. It appears in Division 250, sub-division 3. I seek information on the International Social Service of Japan.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (2.17] - As Senator Cavanagh has pointed out, this is a new appropriation. The $12,000 is part payment of a grant of $40,000 towards the administrative costs of the International Social Service of Japan for its work among the mixed blood children of Japan.
Senator LAWRIE (Queensland) (2.18] - In Division 252 - Overseas Service - I notice an appropriation of $766,100 for furniture and fittings. This is a substantial reduction on last year’s appropriation of some $I.5m and expenditure of some $1.3m. The next item relates to an appropriation of $519,200 for incidental and other expenditure. Last year the appropriation and expenditure were about $290,000. The final item relates to an appropriation of $14,000 for imprest advances. This compares with an appropriation and expenditure last year of $371,400. The variations to which I have directed attention are substantial. Is there any special explanation for them?
– What the honourable senator has said in relation to the variations is correct. The appropriation for furniture and fittings has dropped from some $1.5m to $766,000. I inform him that provision is made for additional and replacement furniture and fittings at 73 office premises, 53 official residences and 49 Australia-based staff houses. The appropriation also includes furnishing and/or refurnishing programmes at the following overseas posts: Bombay $6,900, official residence; Dublin chancery $7,800: Madrid official residence - silverware and so on - $4,200; Rome chancery - air conditioning - $6,600; San Francisco office $20,300; Vientiane chancery - $12,500: and official residence $10,000. The honourable senator made the point that the appropriation is decreasing. That is a singularly healthy thing in many ways. I think that the reason is the nature of the works programme which is planned.
– But the appropriation for incidental and other expenditure has increased.
– That gives strength to my argument. You cannot take a curve and say that it always will go up. That is an argument which will be brought out during the debate on the defence estimates. I think that it has to be based on requirements for forward planning and replacements. The provision for incidental and other expenditure rises from $291,000 to $519,000. This provision is for incidental and other expenditure at overseas posts. It includes reimbursement of excess medical costs and educational expenses to Australian based staff, freight cost, maintenance of office machines, medical examinations of locally engaged staff and sundry expenditure. It also includes $148,000 for the freight, cartage and packing of the personal effects of officers and their families returning to Australia on completion of their tours of duly or on postings to other missions. There is a whole variety of things which could lend themselves to variation. If there were a lot of repostings that would have a significant effect upon the provision.
Senator Lawrie inquired about imprest advances. This provision is reduced from $371,000 to $14,000. The item provides funds for the creation of imprest advances at new posts and increases in imprest advances at established posts. The initial imprest advance provision for a post is used to establish an official bank account at the post to meet expenditure incurred on behalf of all Commonwealth departments through that post. The amount of cash in the account is restored to the level of the imprest advance at regular monthly intervals. When the accounting activities of a post increase to the level where the imprest advance is insufficient to meet normal monthly requirements an increase in the advance is sought from the Treasury and is then appropriated in the normal way. The amount of $14,000 is provided in 1969-70 for the new posts in Calcutta and Lisbon. The information that the honourable senator is seeking is that this provision is for new posts which will go onto the maximum imprest, which is $12,000 for Calcutta and $2,000 for Lisbon.
– I refer to the provision in Division 250 for the courier service. The expenditure last year was $873,587 and the proposed appropriation is $1,050,600. Reference is made to this in the Auditor-General’s Report which states that there would have been a larger decrease in administrative expenses had it not been for the increase in the courier service. Will the Minister state why there is a sudden change in relation to the cost of this service. I refer also to the provision in the same Division for language tuition fees. The proposed appropriation represents a decrease of almost $14,000. I take it that the language tuition is for people within the Service. Is it envisaged that fewer people will be taught languages or has the Department found a better method of teaching, thereby reducing tuition fees?
– -I refer to Division 830 for the purpose of inquiring whether, hidden anywhere in the provision for the current year, is any appropriation to overcome the problem which exists in Taipeh, Taiwan. I can find no reference to it. The situation in the Republic of China is that there is a rapidly developing economy. Australia has everything to gain from keeping a close association with that developing economy. From a trade point o£ view apart from the diplomatic aspect 1 believe that this is most important. At present the situation of officers of both the Department of External Affairs and the Trade Commissioner Service is not entirely satisfactory. The Ambassador is in a rented home with a short-term lease. Apparently in the city of Taipeh there is difficulty in obtaining suitable residences and difficulty even in obtaining suitable accommodation for the offices of the Department of External Affairs, which are located on about the eleventh floor of a building well out of the city. If no provision has been made for this year, perhaps next year will see the possibility of some appropriation to enable land to be purchased and suitable buildings erected on it so that the residence and offices can be combined and be suitable for their purpose.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (2.25] - Under Division 830, in relation to Taipeh there is provision for a total appropriation of $7,800 for the replacement of the Buick Electra of the head of mission, the office Holden station sedan and one motor scooter. I understand that we have rented premises there.
– He would be a brave man who would ride a scooter in Taipeh.
– When I was there a few years ago the traffic was pretty fast. I suppose as time has gone by it would be even more speedy. I take on board Senator Rae’s point that we should as soon as practicable provide suitable buildings and that an effort should be made to establish a proper embassy there. I presume that that is being looked at in the long term, at any rate. Senator Drury referred to the provision for the courier service which rises from $877,800 to $1,050,000. Provision has been made for fifty-two courier trips during the year to South East Asia, 104 trips to London via the United States of America and the introduction of a Far East courier service. Courier trips involve the movement of safe hand materials between Australia and our posts overseas. The proposed provision for language tuition fees is $30,000, as compared with an expenditure of $43,957 last year. The provision is for payment of language tuition fees in Australia and overseas, following agreement with the Public Service Board on principles to apply to language training to improve officers’ language qualifications. The amount of $30,000, it is estimated, would cover a normal language training programme. There has been some difficulty in the organisation of these training programmes, particularly for officers at overseas posts. It may be necessary to seek further funds in the Additional Estimates if the programme advances more quickly than is expected. In other words, the Department is having some little problems in relation to that matter.
– I refer again to our proposed contribution to the International Social Service of Japan which is dealt with in Division 250. The estimate shows that this year our contribution is to be $12,000 for this purpose. The Minister in replying to my earlier question said that this contribution was for the benefit of children of mixed blood in Japan and was part of a fund of $40,000 to which obviously we are contributing just under one-third. I cannot say that I am opposed to this contribution, but I am concerned to find in the Estimates a commitment for Australia in respect of which we have never seen legislation. We have never heard of this contribution before. Now we learn that Australia is committed to some arrangement for a payment to this fund. We have had no opportunity to consider whether we approve of the payment. When has this matter been discussed by the Parliament and when have we been asked to consider whether we should be contributing to the social welfare of the mixed blood children of Japan? This raises the question of how far this Department is permitted to go in committing Australia to contributions without approval from Parliament.
Under sub-division 2 we find an estimate for the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East - Fourth Symposium on Petroleum Resources - for which the amount is $38,900. 1 suppose the proposed expenditure for the Australia, New Zealand, United States Council meeting would be a normal commitment. Expenditure is provided also in respect of the- United States Naval Communication Station Agreement, but in this case we can see that Parliament has considered this matter in Act No. 30 of 1963. But in the other instances to which I have referred apparently the only way in which the Parliament can approve the expenditure is when the item is discussed in the Estimates debate. They are given no other consideration by the Parliament. Unless someone asks a question about these matters we simply continue to pay money for something to which the Parliament has given no consideration. Whether or not we should be making this contribution and whether or not we agree with the proposed expenditure, I object strongly to this method of introducing a commitment for Australia without full discussion by the Parliament. The expenditure here seems to be controlled by the Administration and Australia committed by the Administration rather than by the elected Parliament.
[2.34] - I understand that the $12,000 referred to by the honourable senator is the second part of a grant of $40,000 which was approved for the 5 years ending 1966-67. So this item has appeared in previous Budgets and has been open for discussion and debate when the Estimates have been before the Senate. This year the grant of $12,000 is a part payment of a grant of $40,000 towards the administrative cost of the International Social Service of Japan for its work among the mixed blood children of Japan. This is the second grant. The previous grant also was discussed in the debate on the Estimates.
– The only objection that I have to this grant is that in my view it is so miserable. I see nothing wrong in the Government making charitable grants of this nature.
– Neither do I, but why should we not discuss them?
– I am quite certain that grants have been made in this form for years and have never been questioned before. I do not want to question Senator Cavanagh’s sincerity, but I do think it is a little unfortunate that he should raise his objection in respect of an item referring to these children. They are children of Australian fathers. Because they are of mixed blood they have had quite a tough time in Japan. It was suggested that as they were children of Australian fathers we should allow them to come into this country, but our Government refused to do this, apparently on the basis of the white Australia policy or some similar policy.
Because we are not prepared to have them here - I think they should have been allowed to come here - we do not absolve ourselves from some responsibility for them. Because of the circumstances of their birth they are subject to a good deal of embarrassment in their own country. I suggest that it is only right that we should provide some money for them. I am only sorry that it is not a lot more. I think it should be much more. As to the method of providing this amount, it seems to me that this is the method that I have seen followed by the Parliament for years.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) agreed to:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department.
Proposed expenditure, $57,657,000.
Proposed provision, $233,228,000.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) (2.37] - I propose to make some comments under Division 405 which relates to Broadcasting and Television Services. I refer particularly to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, for which the estimate for this financial year is $1,494,000. Last year the appropriation for this item was $1,292,000 and the expenditure was $1,317,600. In the time that has been available to me I have tried to read the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Unfortunately the report was tabled in the Parliament only yesterday. I regard this as one of the most important reports tendered to the Parliament because it is from a Government instrumentality which exerts some control over the mass media of Australia which the Labor movement believes is in too few hands today in view of its great impact on the lives and minds of many Australians.
Let me say at the outset that from what I have been able to read of the report in the time that has been available to me I have formed the impression that it is a good report. I regret that there has not been sufficient time to read it in full and to make a more detailed study of it 1 noticed in paragraph 11 of the report that at long last there is to be established what is described as a policy and licensing division. 1 believe that this is long overdue. It is something which we on this side of the chamber have been suggesting for some time. I feel confident that when such a division is established and gets under way it and the work it performs will be of tremendous value in improving commercial broadcasting and television services.
I should like to say something particularly about the advent of colour television in Australia. I express the opinion that Australia is now treading too slowly towards the implementation of colour television in this country. I can understand the original hesitancy on the part of the Government because it wanted to determine what would be the best type of equipment for use in Australia having regard to our geographical and topographical situation. But once it decided on the PAL system, as was announced by the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) in February of this year, the Government could have made a much more genuine attempt than it has made to date to inform the people of Australia, particularly those engaged in and connected with the industry, of its plans for the introduction of colour television into Australia.
About 94% of the population of Australia is able to receive a television transmission. I believe that the Minister should be in a position to say with some clarity when it is envisaged that colour television will be available to the general public. The Minister should be able to give more detailed guidelines to the industry generally at this stage. I notice that the Postmaster-General said in another place that a gallup poll conducted in Japan had indicated that 53% of the people of Japan regarded programme content as more important than colour television. The Postmaster-General should have pointed out that colour television is catching on very quickly in Great Britain and the United States of America. About 38% of the television sets in the United States receive colour television. The figure is of the order of 30% in the United Kingdom.
– The colour reception is far from being very crude, especially in Great Britain ‘ whose system is the one that we are to have in Australia. I suggest to the Minister and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that if Australia is to produce programmes which are saleable on the export market the programmes will have to be made in colour. Only this morning the Postmaster-General informed me that colour television is now enjoyed in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, France, West Germany, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Lebanon. Australian programmers, production houses, manufacturers of television sets and householders generally have been left up in the air as to when colour television will be introduced into Australia. Most householders have had their television sets for a number of years now, but they do not want to go to the expense of replacing them at this stage only to learn that colour television will be introduced within 18 months. Television sets are dear commodities for the ordinary householder to purchase. Prospective purchasers of sets and the manufacturers of sets should be given a better go-
A process for taping programmes is now available in Australia. Programmers are looking more and more towards this method of production. The Opposition wants to ensure that there will be no drop in the content of Australian programmes with the advent of colour television in Australia. I ask the Government and the Broadcasting Control Board to give an undertaking to the people of Australia that when colour television is introduced they will not tolerate any excuses from stations that sufficient, good quality local programmes in colour cannot be obtained to meet any quota imposed.
Whilst still confining my remarks to that portion of the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department concerning the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, I wish to say something about radio broadcasting. In my opinion the standard of radio broadcasting has been lagging for a considerable period of time. I suggest that the Broadcasting Control Board should draw up a fairness doctrine or at least ask the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters to draw up one for the commercial stations to follow. During the last session I made a speech in this chamber in which I criticised a programme which was being broadcast on radio station 2GB. I received an amazing number of letters from people throughout New South Wales supporting the statements I had made. Subsequently, I was invited to have a discussion with a senior executive of the station. In that discussion, I was assured by him that he intended having a fairness doctrine drawn up as a guideline for the commentators at that station.
– What about the Australian Broadcasting Commission?
– I am speaking about commercial stations at this stage. If the honourable senator has any complaints about the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I suggest that he has a look at some of the statements that Ministers have made concerning certain commercial programmes which have been broadcast in recent times. I notice that under the heading of ‘Cigarette Advertising’ in the twentyfirst annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board reference is made to a fairness doctrine imposed by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States of America on cigarette advertising. That doctrine insists that, when a commercial programme or advertisement concerning cigarettes is televised, a corresponding time should be given to the anti-cigarette smokers.
When I was in the United States recently 1 had discussions with the commercial broadcasting people as well as the Federal Communications Commission. I am certain that Australia could lear” a great deal from the operations of television and radio stations in the United Slates. The discussion programmes in the United States are of greater depth of material than those in Australia. Undoubtedly political awareness in the United States is much more effective than it is in Australia. An important part of that education is controversial discussion that is encouraged on television and radio programmes. The Broadcasting Control Board should be examining this matter with a view to setting out guidelines and a fairness doctrine for all who are engaged in this industry. For far too long this important media in Australia has been in the hands of too few. In order to protect the general overall interests of Australians, I believe we must do something much more effective than what has been done to date.
My final comments are in relation to the appropriation of $45,158,000 for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I commend the Commission for what 1 consider to be an excellent report. All details of the activity of the Commission appear to have been dealt with thoroughly in the report. Certainly its report was presented to the Parliament in sufficient time to give members an opportunity to read and to study the report. Whilst I and other honourable senators will undoubtedly criticise certain programmes, nonetheless mistakes will always be made by an organisation trying to do something for the good of the Australian people. 1 often wonder what the present standard of the mass media in Australia would have been but for the part that the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s radio and television programming has played. I believe it is the pace setter for the presentation of comprehensive programmes.
If the Australian Broadcasting Commission is to expand in the manner in which it should expand, more money will have to be made available to it by the Australian Government. No other organisation in Australia, I suggest, has such a vast section of the community to satisfy than has the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It has to cater for all by providing popular as well as unpopular programmes and it has to cater for the majority as well as for the minority. Generally speaking, 1 believe it is doing an excellent job for the Australian community.
– Not in regard to political broadcasts.
– The honourable senator complains about political broadcasts. If he were in the hands of those who control the commercial mass media of Australia today, and only those who control the commercial mass media of today, I do not think he would be getting much of his message across to the Australian people, lt is obvious that the additional $2m to be made available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission-
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The difficulty I have in discussing the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department is that due to the altered character of its financing there is practically no line item in the estimates to which one might devote oneself. So 1 take a general approach and look at its overall position. 1 refer honourable senators to a document called ‘Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1969-70’ which deals with the financial and administrative details of this department of State. Those details, really, are what we are concerned with. Under the heading ‘Budget Aspects’ this statement appears:
The Post Office is now virtually operating its own trading account through the medium of the Post Office Trust Account. Annual cash receipts exceed cash operating expenditure but the surplus is sufficient to fund only part of the annual expenditure on capital projects. The extra amount required for capital investment is provided annually under a one line appropriation in Appropriation Bill No. 2. The amount involved for 1969-70- Post office borrowings - is $229m.
Under the heading ‘Capital Investment’ this comment appears:
Investment in fixed assets at the 30th June 1969, net of depreciation, is estimated at $l,943m.
The total capital investment of the Department is $ 1,943m, its demand for capital is $229m and a one line item is the only mention made in the estimates. The Department is reaching a stage at which it is operating rather like a statutory authority, but it is not a statutory authority. Perhaps it could be said that the Department is in a transitory stage of independent accounting and independent operating, but it seems to me that in this transitory stage there is inadequate reporting to the Parliament of the whole administrative, capital and operating functions of this huge Department. As far as I can ascertain, its annual report has not yet been circulated. I have been waiting for it to be circulated. We have foiir documents which we can study. We have the Particulars of Proposed Expenditure, which contains a very short summary devoted mostly to broadcasting and television services, which are only a small part of the functions of the Department. We have Appropriation Bill (No. 2). which contains the one line item of $223m capital expenditure. Then we have a third book, in addition to the book referred to earlier, the Civil Works Programme, which is divided into three areas for consideration - capital works under the control of the Department of Works, under the control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and under the control of the National Capital Development Commission. Honourable senators can verify what I say by perusing these documents.
With an organisation of the size and importance of this Department, we will need much more precise and detailed information about the activities of the Department within one set of covers, so that we may be informed and thus be able to help the Department. I have no great objection to this independent kind of operating. It tends to be good. It tends to put responsibility on the employees concerned to do their job and to face up to the problems involved. But I am concerned about the lack of information readily available to the Parliament in a comprehensive set of covers. 1 make the point at this stage in the hope that next year, with these rather quasiindependent accounting and financing operations, we will have an opportunity to look at all the Department’s operations with a more critical eye. I hope the day will come when the Senate will be able to give more critical attention to the operating accounts of statutory bodies, commissions and authorities of the Government, which tend now to pass us by.
-I support Senator Cotton’s remarks. The appropriation for the Postmaster-General’s Department contains references to ‘Other
Services’ and to ‘Broadcasting and Television Services’ only. To supply such limited information is pure and utter nonsense if we are supposed to discuss the Department’s finances. I know the Government never takes notice of what we on this side of the chamber say, but now that a matter has been raised by somebody on the Government’s side, perhaps the Government might do something.
– The honourable senator’s comments are unfair. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department has provided a complete document to which the honourable senator can refer.
– That does not deal with the estimates that we are discussing now.
– I think it does.
– That is the honourable senator’s opinion. Apparently that is not Senator Cotton’s opinion, and it is not mine. I have several matters to which I wish to refer. The first matter relates to the proposed expenditure for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Minority groups and independents are unable to obtain time on Australian Broadcasting Commission television and radio prior to an election.
– Is this the Australia Party?
– And independents. Any minority group, the Democratic Labor Party included, is unable to obtain time. My Party wrote to the Chairman of the Commission and then we went to see him. In discussions with him I pointed out that I was an independent and the first time I stood, not being a member of the Federal Parliament, I did not object to the restriction. But on the second occasion I stood, when I received 20% of the vote in Tasmania-
– There are other States.
– For heavens sake, what has that to do with what I am saying? The honourable senator has not listened to me. I received 20% of the votes. The Chairman said: ‘That will not count because you have to get 5% of the Australian vote’. I said: ‘How is that possible when I stand in Tasmania only?’ That was a very stupid reason to give for not giving time to me and other parties.
– It was a very convenient reason.
– We all know that the refusal was made because of political reasons. It is not good enough for a Tasmanian senator who has received 20% of the vote in that State to be told that he must get 5% of the total Australian vote. I was interested only in time in Tasmania, not time all over Australia. Therefore my vote in Tasmania should have counted.
– Would Tasmania have 5% of the Australian population?
– I am not sure. lt could. If I had received every vote, 1 do not think I would have had 5% of the total vote. When we asked the Chairman to put his reasons in writing he said that the policy of the Commission had remained unchanged for many years. We know that it was to keep out the Communist Party. The sole reason for these various subterfuges is to prevent the minority parties from getting time on the air from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Sir Robert Madgwick said that the Commission’s policy was, to use his own words ‘based on the letter and spirit of section 116 of the Broadcasting and Television Act’. Section 116 of the Broadcasting and Television Act provides for: . . reasonable opportunities for the broadcasting and televising of electoral matter to all parties contesting the election, being parties which were represented in either House of Parliament for which the election is to be held . . .
Whatever else may be the reason for the ABC decision, it is certainly not based on the letter and the spirit of section 116 because the Australia Party satisfies the requirements of the Act. As I said to Sir Robert Madgwick last week, it is most unfair for the Commission to have adopted some arbitrary rule of thumb which includes the established parties but rules out all newcomers. If there is to be a real political choice for the people of Australia, the Commission should make time available to all parties which have shown that they represent any significant part of public opinion. In any case, there can be no justification whatever in principle for making broadcasting services available to all parties represented except the latest one to be formed. I think that the Commission has been less than frank in refusing our application for broadcasting time. The Australia Party can only conclude that it is the victim of political discrimination. There is no doubt whatever about that.
If section 116 is to be upheld then every political party that has a representative in the Parliament has a right to broadcasting time. In fact, it has a right to equal time, but I understand that at present the Liberal Party is given so much, the Labor Party is given so much and the Australian Democratic Labor Party is given only about one-quarter of the time given those parties, or even less. I do not know to how much the Australia Party would be entitled under that system. In any case, let me say, in order to demonstrate the stupidity of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in connection with this matter that it would have been far better to have given us 10 or 15 minutes and kept quiet about it because we gained a great deal of publicity through being refused time by the Commission. We have attracted a sympathy vote because we have been unable to get time from the ABC.
We propose to take legal action in connection with the matter but it is wrong that we should have to incur legal costs in this way in order to receive justice, especially when the Act is so specific in what it says. The Government will not help because it does not want to help. It is frightened of the Australia Party growing. For that reason it will not help.
– The Government is not frightened.
– Then why does it not help? If it is not frightened, how is it that every day someone comes to me asking where our preferences will be going? If the Government is not frightened, if it thinks we have no hope, why does it not give us the time we are entitled to have? The Centre Party in Tasmania wanted broadcasting time, not for the whole of Australia, but for Tasmania. I understand that two Ministers, Mr Sinclair and Mr Anthony, went to the Commissioner. What did they say? They said that the Centre Party was part of the
Country Party. Yet, when we ask the members of the Centre Party in Tasmania, they say they are not part of the Country Party. Somebody is telling a lie. Whether this was done by the two Ministers to get further time for the Centre Party of Tasmania, I do not know. But somebody is lying. Either the Centre Party is part of the Country Party, or it is not. There can be no two ways about it.
– If you affiliate with the Democratic Labor Party you will be right.
– We do not want to affiliate with anyone. If the Centre Party, because of misrepresentation to the Commissioner, is entitled to time, then at least we are entitled to the same right. 1 come now to Division 405, sub-division 2, and speak particularly about censorship. Here again somebody has to make a start. If anyone says that censorship should be abolished he is immediately accused of favouring pornography and everything else.
– Order! I do not see any relevance between sub-division 2 of Division 405 and censorship.
– You will when you hear me.
Then you had better address yourself to the problem pretty soon.
– My remarks relate to expenditure. Money has been expended on a film called ‘Don’t Cry Baby’. The whole purpose of the film was virtually ruined because of censorship. I cannot see why a film which has been approved by the Department of Health and by other social welfare departments should be censored by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. What right has the Commission to censor such films? When does the Commission become the arbiter of what we should see in regard to the birth of a child? Every country boy and girl has witnessed the birth of an animal, but when it comes to witnessing the birth of a human being, this is not permitted. I do not want to go on and on about this, but I felt that the subject should be raised here. It is time the Australian Broadcasting Commission stopped this crass stupidity of censoring films which can be of great benefit, indeed which it is admitted would be of great benefit to the public if they had not been ruined by censorship.
– I refer to Division 870. The Minister will recall that when we dealt with the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department last year I criticised the fact that we had only a one line entry for this item for which the expenditure proposed this year is $229m. I am glad that on this occasion I have the support of Senator Cotton as well as 100% support of the Australia Party when I criticise the fact that we are given so little information about how the $229m is to be spent. Last year we did receive a few pages on the Post Office prospects and capital programme. They gave us a rough idea of what was going on and it will be remembered that on that occasion I was very critical of the fact that so very little information was available. It was suggested to me then that I should have a talk with officers of the Department with a view to getting further information and some elucidation of a matter about which I was concerned.
The departmental officers assured me that this year a report would be made available as to the way in which this money was expended. I had not seen a report until I saw this document - Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1969-70. What we have is similar to what we were given last year except that this year there has been added a programme of capital investment for telecommunications projects. This does give me a little more information, but it is still a most inadequate statement of what the Post Office proposes to do with $229m. I saw the programme some 2 months ago in Perth. When I saw it, it was in the office of the Director of Engineering whom I know quite well, having worked in the Post Office. This programme was completed in February of this year. It seems to me that it should be possible to have made available to us in September particulars of a programme which had been completed in February so that those of us who are interested in and know something about Post Office work might have the opportunity of seeing the programme that is envisaged. A comparatively small organisation such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation spends only something like $50m in the year but produces a very fine report for the year 1968-69. It also produced the document Estimates of Expenditure 1969-70’, which sets out very thoroughly what it proposes to do in the coming year.
I am hopeful that we are gradually getting somewhere. We have achieved a doubling of the size of the report as presented in the document ‘Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1969-70’. Next year we may receive a full report on what the Post Office hopes to do in the ensuing year. I am very glad that Senator Cotton is on my side this year. I had little, if any, support last year. I hope that what I have suggested will be done, because I believe that it is very important for an appropriation of $229m to be supported by facts so that we know what we are voting on.
[3.11] - Senator McClelland spoke about colour television. The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) has made quite a number of comments concerning it. No decision as to the date of introduction of colour television has yet been made. This is a matter on which the Government has consistently taken the view in the interests of all concerned that a decision will have to be approached carefully in the light of overseas experience, having regard to the considerable costs that will be involved both to operators and the public and the consequent overall effects on the economy.
It is considered that the undertaking of the Government to give 18 months clear notice prior to the introduction of colour television is sufficient for those concerned in the question. The Postmaster-General has stated that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at present in close touch with the television industry in relation to the determination of technical systems and standards for colour television in Australia. I believe that that indicates very clearly that the interests of the industry are not being overlooked in this important matter, although a decision on the introduction of colour services will be a matter for the Government. I repeat the point that the Postmaster-General has made all along: There will be 18 months clear notice. I believe that that is of tremendous importance to all concerned, whether they be in the industry or viewers.
Points have been made regarding time and numbers of broadcasting periods during election campaigns. The following points, which were made in the Twentieth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in relation to the Senate election that was held on 25th November 1967, show the wide area that has been covered:
Information obtained from licensees shows that during the election period for the Senate election . . political matter of some kind was broadcast by all but 2 of the 114 commercial broadcasting stations.
All or part of the policy speeches of the Government and Opposition parties were broadcast by 98 stations, and 6 stations broadcast all or part of one speech. All or part of the policy speech of the Democratic Labor Party was broadcast by 91 stations. The total time occupied by the broadcasting of policy speeches was I S3 hours and all but 2 stations provided time for the purpose without charge.
Apart from policy speeches, approximately 82 hours of station time was purchased for broadcasts of political matter on behalf of parties and candidates.
The total time occupied by broadcasts of political matter on commercial broadcasting stations during the Senate election period amounted to 236 hours. . . .
In regard to television the Board stated:
All or part of the policy speeches of the Government and Opposition parties were televised by 34 stations, and 4 stations televised all or part of one speech. All or part of the speech of the Democratic Labor Party was televised by 29 stations. The total time occupied by the televising of policy speeches was 46 hours and all but one station provided time for this purpose without charge.
Apart from policy speeches, approximately 39 hours of station time was purchased for the televising of political matter on behalf of parties and candidates.
The total time occupied by telecasts of political matter on commercial stations during the Senate election period amounted to 85 hours . . .
– What about in the Tasmanian State election?
– I am talking about the Senate election. That was not a Senate election. Senator Cotton asked for more information to be made available to the Parliament in respect of this Department. In reply to him and for the information of other interested senators, 1 say that the new system of trust account financing has been in operation only since 1st July 1968, and the document ‘Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme’ is therefore still, to some extent, in a developing stage. Its contents and scope are continually under review. The amount of information in regard to Post Office plans contained in the current document represents a substantial increase over that shown last year. Senator Wilkinson made that point in his comments. I believe that both he and Senator Cotton will be interested in my statement that the document is still in a developing stage and its contents and scope are continually under review. I suggest that this is of advantage.
The next point to which I turn is the one raised by Senator Turnbull concerning the film ‘Don’t Cry Baby’. Honourable senators will recall that a question concerning this film was asked in this chamber. As has been stated, this was a film on natural childbirth. The Childbirth Education Association of New South Wales assisted Channel 10 in Sydney in its production. Channel 10 consulted the Australian Broadcasting Control Board about the matter on 1st September. The reports of the Board indicated that scenes showing the actual birth of the baby should be cut. Subsequently, following representations to the Postmaster-General by the Association, the full Board saw the film, and it confirmed the direction for the cuts to be made. The Board took the view that, whilst the film was admirable for its purpose and for showing to selected audiences, the birth scenes were not acceptable for television as a public and family medium. The film was shown on Channel 10 on 9th September. As I indicated when replying to the question asked in the Senate on 9th September, the determination of programme standards is the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Board accepted its responsibility in deciding upon the cuts because it felt that that was the right thing to do.
– If criticism is good for a department and brings about better management, the Postmaster-General’s Department should certainly be well managed because it has received more than its fair share of criticism in this chamber. Over the years I have been here, as I imagine other senators will agree, no department has come in for more criticism on most aspects of its operations than has the Postmaster-General’s Department. Now, in the year in which the greatest credit should be given to this Department and its administration, we hear only criticism. Let me emphasise that this criticism is being made although in the past year this Department has produced for the Commonwealth of Australia $8m of clear profit.
– By underpaying its workers.
– Undoubtedly, if the honourable senators who complain were in charge of its business, it would be bankrupt. They cannot for one minute give congratulations where congratulations are due. I greatly appreciate the information that is placed before us. That puts me in an entirely different camp from honourable senators on my right. Senator Turnbull said that sufficient information was not given. Had he followed this matter carefully over recent years, he would have known that this Parliament demanded that the Postmaster-General’s Department handle its accounts in a different fashion and that the Department followed the demand of the Parliament. It followed the requests of the Public Accounts Committee in some of the comments that it made. Not only in the documents that are before us but previously the Department has stated that it would provide the Government and members of Parliament with this document entitled Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1969-70’. I suggest that none of the financial documents that are presented by other departments or statutory authorities contains half as much information about the department or authority as this document presented by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I congratulate the Department when I read some of the comments that are made in it. I have said that the Department has made a profit of $8m and for that I congratulate the Minister, the Government and those officers who are associated with it.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, to what item of the estimates is the honourable senator speaking?
– If the honourable senator had been listening when I began he would know that I am speaking to Division 405 - J am sure honourable senators are interested in this document. It states:
These economics have been due in no small measure to a high degree of cost consciousness in managers at all levels, which has been fostered under the financial arrangements associated with operation of the Post Office Trust Account.
This, indeed, is an aim to which Senator Gair drew attention when he said that this type of operation should come into being.
– I prompted the Public Accounts Committee to say something about it.
– There the honourable senator is attempting to gain some credit for himself. The document continues:
A budgetary and responsibility accounting system designed to fix responsibility for costs and revenues and hold management responsible for these has been developed with excellent financial results. Another major factor has been the careful attention to cash control. . . .
I wish to refer to that in a moment. The document goes on:
I congratulate the Department for that success which it has brought about and for this document which sets out so clearly the intended financial arrangements for the ensuing year in relation to material purchased. It states that about 90% of purchases come from Australian suppliers. How can one do less than congratulate the Department and its officers for paying such great attention to this important matter and for the information that has been given. Incidently, I note in this document that the staff of the whole Department increased from 101,919 to 103,343 during the last year, a rise of approximately 1.4%. Each time I have spoken to the estimates of a department I have attempted to attract the attention of that Department and of the Government to the fact that there appeared to be an increase of 10% or more in the salary bill. I am greatly concerned, from the private enterprise point of view, that we have today a labour market which is demanding a greatly increased cost of production from all sectors of the community but I am glad to see that we have in the Postmaster-General’s Department a very moderate increase. When we look at the total salaries bill we fmd, if my calculation is correct, that it is estimated to increase by no mote than 5%.
– They cut their services by 50%, so surely you did not expect the wages bill to go up.
– The honourable senator’s comment is not correct. This Department has a very wide area to service. In some instances it cut services more than I would wish, but it did not cut its services by 50%. The final point to which I wish to direct the attention of the management of the Postmaster-General’s Department is one which is mentioned in the AuditorGeneral’s report and which highlights the irregularities which have occurred by way of theft and a variety of defalcations. I know that the Department handles money and employs a large number of personnel, but I suggest that surely something could be done to bring to a halt the great number of thefts which have taken place within the Department in every State during the last year. In a department with a turnover of this size undoubtedly some of these things must be expected.
– What is the overall percentage of thefts?
– I do not have the percentage, but it has been estimated that an amount in the vicinity of $40,000 has been stolen from the Department. There are at least three full pages of instances of postal clerks, clerical assistants, non-official postmasters and linemen having undoubtedly stolen from the Department. It appears to me that there could be some criticism of the Department for not discovering these irregularities before they were too far advanced. I should like advice from the Minister about the instance involving a non-official postmaster in Victoria, in which there was a theft of $3,338 and a recovery of $1,000. I do not ask for the name of the individual. I direct my thoughts on these lines: If the Department has a lineman who is stealing a lot of copper line perhaps it will not find that out until the stocktaking at the end of the year; but I would like to be notified how there could be a loss of more than $3,000 before the Department became aware of it, as in the case of this non-official postmaster. I again heartily congratulate this Department for the excellent results which have been achieved.
– 1 wish to refer to the item concerning the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and I regret that the two honourable senators whose remarks I rose to rebut have long since left the chamber. I remember that during the last debate on the estimates Senator McClelland made reference to a programme on radio station 2GB and to which he again adverted to today. He complained about the one-eyed, biased views which were put forward on that programme. He has again said today that he thinks the commercial stations should be fairer in their attitude to putting views before the public. I think in this case he is referring to political views. It is obvious that the South Australian broadcasting people must have a very fair attitude because there is a programme called Fair Go’ on the same Macquarie Network in Adelaide which has always attempted to put forward both sides of an argument. It seems very relevant that on every occasion that the Labor Party was requested to come forward and put its views it did not do so. It seems that the members of the Labor Party are lacking in confidence either in their policies or in the ability of the people who would be expected to put forward these policies on radio. Tt would not allow anybody to take part in a current affairs programme and put forward its views. Therefore, I say that in this case it is not the fault of the station but of the Labor Party in not having the confidence to put forward people who are able to express the point of view it wants to express.
I also want to refer to the remarks made by Senator Turnbull. He complained about a lack of fairness on the part of the various radio and television stations in not allowing him time to put forward his views. I can only say that I think he is lucky. Obviously the television stations in South Australia are fair in their attitudes because they recently allocated to Senator Turnbull1 a good deal of time to put forward the views Of his Party. But I do not think it did him any good. He is not a very good subject on television. I would say that he would be far better off if he kept off television, if he wants to do any good for his Party. No-one has any cause to be frightened of anything that Senator Turnbull can put forward on television or radio programmes. No political parly - Liberal, Labor, Democratic Labor or Country Party - would have much to fear from anything Senator Turnbull’ could put forward.
The report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board shows that the percentage of time devoted to current affairs programmes on television in the current year has dropped by well over 1% to a figure of only a little more than 2% of television time. This is a regrettable situation. I would like to know how it compares with the time devoted to current affairs television programmes in countries like the United Kingdom or the United States of America. Is it that the people of Australia are proving that they are not interested in current affairs, or is it that we do not have enough people who are competent to comment on current affairs and to put forward their views to interest Australians in what is happening in this country and outside it?
– Is there nol interference with the Australian Broadcasting Commission by your Ministry?
– There is a great deal of comment from both Parties when certain current affairs programmes are shown on the ABC channels. I think that this rather reflects immaturity on the part of people who complain. If we cannot take criticism on these programmes we are certainly not very mature in our political outlook. I fee] that we should all be able to accept criticism. I think it is good for the public to hear criticism and to decide for themselves what they want. I would therefore advocate that more current affairs programmes be shown.
– Unlike Senator Webster I want the Chairman to know to which item I am directing my remarks. Firstly, I will address myself to Division 870 which provides for expenditure of $229m on capital works and services by the Postal Department. I deplore the lack of information provided, even though Senator Webster may be satisfied. I do not believe that the Senate should be expected to approve an appropriation of $229m without having details of the way in which it is to be expended. When is the broad band link to be completed between Western Australia and the eastern States?
The co-axial cable for the United States naval communication base at North West Cape has been completed. The Postal Department laid the link a distance of 600 miles from Perth to Carnarvon, and then another 250 miles to North West Cape. But nothing can be done to link Western Australia with the eastern States, where time is 2 hours ahead of Western Australia. Communications are difficult even in Perth where four or five wrong numbers often answer before the correct number is obtained. I tried last night to make a trunk line call to Perth from Canberra, but I finished up being connected to a number in Sydney. And honourable senators opposite talk about the efficiency of the Postal Department.
Senator Webster also referred to the profits of the Postal Department. It can make profits any time it wants to by increasing the costs of telephone calls. If the cost of a local call ls increased by lc, more profits will be gained. But although extra profit is earned, is it shown anywhere in he document before us that there is extra efficiency in the Department? Of course not. It is time that the Postal Department was made to face up and the Senate should not accept the responsibility of approving an appropriation of $229m without details. I do not expect to have details in respect of every cent of expenditure, but some details of expenditure should be supplied. The document supplied to the Senate shows that expenditure of $25,660,000 is to be devoted to works to be commenced in 1969-“50. When will they be commenced? Next May, or next June? When are we to get this information? lt is quite ridiculous for Government supporters to praise a department that is not carrying out the functions it is supposed to carry out and is not providing to the people the service for which they are paying.
Senator McClelland referred to colour television. I relate my remarks now to Division 405 - Broadcasting and Television Services. Why do we not have colour television of Australia? Simply because sales of television receivers for black and white transmission have not reached saturation point. Until that point is reached and the commercial interests are satisfied, they will not start to sell television sets for colour reception in this country. That is the funda mental point. To talk about 18 months notice is quite ridiculous. The fundamental point is that commercial interests wish to saturate the market with receivers for black and white transmission before they bring in receivers for colour. When saturation point is reached, colour television will be introduced and not before.
– How can the honourable senator prove that to us?
– I am allowed to make statements, just the same as Senator Webster is allowed, and to draw inferences from what I read. The inferences that I draw are not directed towards a place on the front bench, and I think the honourable senator has gone past it. I direct the attention of honourable senators to the Twenty-first Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In paragraph 344 at page 99 it states:
In the assessment of a station’s performance all programmes produced in Australia by television stations or other production agencies are taken into account. .’Limited credit is allowed for programmes produced in other countries of the British Commonwealth. Credit loadings apply to drama programmes and to programmes which are specially designed to benefit the general development of children.
I suppose we could have a programme on the American Civil War. That might be described as ‘history’ which would benefit the minds of Australian children. The report goes on:
Such programmes may be eligible for credit up to twice their actual duration. The object of allowing these loadings is to encourage commercial television stations to provide types of programmes for which a need is believed to exist if Australian television is to provide a comprehensive service.
When has a survey been conducted to find out what the people want? It is of no use to approach the people who conduct gallup polls and rating systems. They only ask: Do you want this programme on Channel 7, or that programme on Channel 9?’ They do not ask people: ‘What would you like to see on television?’ This was proved in evidence given before the Senate Selection Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television - the Vincent Committee. It was shown that Morgan and the other people who conduct ratings systems had not at any time tried to determine what the people wanted on television programmes. It was a question only of the choice between the programmes available to them. The report continues:
Consideration was given to extending the range of programmes which might benefit from credit loadings; but although other types of programme may deserve recognition as meritorious contributions to television, the immediate need to encourage production of them was not seen to have the urgency that applied to drama and children’s programmes. For this reason programmes such as music, documentaries and formal education are not eligible for credit loadings.
Have honourable senators ever heard a more ridiculous statement than that educational programmes are not eligible for the credit rating? The very thing we have wanted for years and years is educational television programmes, yet at this stage, in the context of the paragraph I have quoted, they are not eligible for credit ratings. What more educational, interesting and, on many occasions, entertaining programmes do we see on television than documentaries? Yet documentaries do not attract a credit rating in the terms of this paragraph. That is the way in which the ABC conducts the services that it is supposed to conduct. Two of the most important programmes which can be put on television are educational and documentary programmes, and I am sure all honourable senators will agree with me that documentaries are both educational and informative. Yet, as I have said, they do not attract a credit rating. However, if a situation comedy that is made in Britain and brought to Australia is shown it attracts a credit rating. I cannot think of the name of the English actor who took part in an English situation comedy that was shown on Australian television. It might have entertained but it certainly did not educate.
– Do you mean Alf Garnett?
– Yes. He appeared in the clubs in Sydney. The television shows in which he appears attract a credit rating by the ABC but Australian and overseas documentaries and educational television programmes do not. A table on page 67 of the 1969 report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board shows the average time per station occupied each week by Australian programmes. The playing time of gramophone recordings of Australian artists occupied 9.52 hours in the metropolitan area and 8.36 hours in the country.
Just listen to the next item. Time occupied by station announcers in the presentation of all musical items occupied 12.59 hours in the metropolitan area and 12.30 hours in the country. So it takes longer to introduce the items than to put them on the air to the public. This information appeared in the report of the Board yet no criticism is directed at it, but people come into this chamber and praise the Department for the work that it does.
-And very proud to do so, too.
– Who was that?
– It was Senator Webster. He missed the front bench. Turning to page 69 of the report, paragraph 235 is in these terms:
During the debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill No. 2 of 1969, Senator McClelland proposed that a new clause should be inserted in the Bill to amend section 114 of the Principal Act so that the section would require nol only that 5% of music broadcast should be devoted to the works of Australian composers but that such proportion of music should also be performed by Australians. The amendment was not adopted but Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin on behalf of the Government, slated that the matter would be investigated and if some further action is considered to be justified it will be taken. The Minister has asked the Board to investigate the matter. It is relevant to point out in this connection that the table in paragraph 232-
That is the table to which I have just referred - indicates that metropolitan stations broadcast about 10 hours a week of recordings made by Australian artists. This represents about 11% of the total amount of music broadcast by the stations. The investigation is proceeding.
When is it likely that we will get the results of this investigation? Who is conducting the investigation? Will the results of the investigation be reported to the Senate? In short, when will we get some information about this matter? If I have sufficient time I want to read a couple of extracts from a memorandum I have received from the Western Australian Branch of the Professional Musicians Union. They are as follows:
This memorandum sets out to illustrate two main features -
The serious decline in the employment of talent (outside the symphony orchestras) in radio, and more so in TV and in the tremendous increase of the use of overseas material.
The programme analysis figures in the annual reports of the A.B.C. when examined expertly prove to be anomalous and misleading.
Point 1. The 1967-68 report (pages 41-43) shows on TV in music and musical entertainment a total of 454 hours transmitted on TV of which 75 hours originated from the A.B.C.
Western Australia: Approximately one halfhour TV programme was made using musicians; and during 1968 coinciding with the visit of A.B.C. managerial V.I-P.’s and the Committee inquiring into accounts several minor programmes were made by the resident symphony group. Up to March 1969 since the last A.B.C. report no musicians have been employed on A.B.C. Television; a new studio built a few years ago has never been operated by ABW Channel 2 and is used as a storeroom; TV production staff members have transferred and resigned without replacements; expertise in television programming can only be achieved by continuing experience and employment in order to develop standards and W.A. musicians and artists are being denied this opportunity and the “healthy growth” that was taking place between 1961 and 1967 on W.A. A.B.C./TV came to an abrupt stop in 1967. W.A. has a special case because all other eastern States talents enjoys a comparatively closer contact with interstate TV employment opportunities.
Point 2. All A.B.C. reports programme analyses are based on the main Sydney stations and subtitled as on page 41/1968 report . . . “it also exemplifies programme allocation on other A.B.C. television stations in Australia”. W.A. originated nil hours in this period.
Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– May I have your indulgence, Mr Temporary Chairman, to complete the quotation? It is all I wish to say.
– Is permission granted? There being no objection, Senator Cant, you may do so.
– Thank you. The quotation continues:
The total hours shown to originate from the A.B.C. are 75 in the musical programmes and page 43 credits the A.B.C. with using a total of 2,722 musicians etc. during 1967-68; these figures are misleading and nonsensical.
At the Union’s Annual Federal Conference in November 1968 discussion by delegates from all States indicated that the A.B.C. appeared to be centralising programme-making and very tittle W.V. material was being originated in any of the ‘BAPH’ states (a term used by the A.B.C, indicating Brisbane, Adelaide. Perth and Hobart); from information there appeared to be an efficiency exercise take place in Brisbane on A.B.C. administration and operation and well-informed opinions consider that changes in other States may be based on the findings of the experts on the Brisbane set-up; it is again significant that Brisbane has not had the same light entertainment organisation that Perth has had, and it is this department which mainly employs musicians and artists outside the permanent symphonies. Expert opinion seems to suggest that the light entertainment and light music department in Perth may also be removed.
The main production effort in A.B.C. T.V. in Perth is in a major nightly magazine type programme ‘Today Tonight’ and several minor productions on gardening, fishing, etc. - but no musical presentations.
Despite the annual report of the Commission musical entertainment orginating in W.A. outside the permanent symphony orchestra - as far as T.V. for the past 18 months has been nil.
All I say in respect of this application by the Western Australian branch of the Musicians Union is that these musicians are isolated. . . .
Order! As the honourable senator has finished his quotation he will resume his seat.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [3.50] - Senator Turnbull spoke about his feelings as a result of not getting time on Australian Broadcasting Commission stations in Tasmania. He referred to section 116 (3.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act. I direct his attention to sub-section (1.) which I think covers the position entirely and which provides:
Subject only to this section, the Commission may determine to what extent and in what manner political matter or controversial matter will be broadcast or televised by the Commission.
This is a decision which the Commission has reached, and which it has a right to make.
– How did the Centre Party get time?
– The honourable senator has told us that this was gone into by the Chairman of the Commission, who inquired into the evidence that the Centre Party was affiliated with the Country Party. Finding that this was so, the Commission made a decision. Senator Webster referred to money taken by a non-official postmaster. The person concerned used a system of deposits and withdrawals against fictitious Commonwealth Savings Bank accounts which was detected by the Post Office audit. Senator Buttfield referred to broadcasting in her own State and the offers that had been made to representatives of both sides of the Parliament concerning interviews, which offers had in some cases not been accepted. Senator Cant referred to projects listed for commencement in 1969-70 and he asked whether some further information could be given concerning this programme. These projects will be programmed in such a way as to make the most effective use of labour and material resources. Priorities take into account the degree of congestion or delay on each route. The east-west, northern Port Pirie system will be carying telephone traffic in about June 1 970. The honourable senator also spoke about special credit rating for some British comedy. The information that I have been given is that there is no special credit rating for those programmes. It is only for Australian drama and children’s programmes.
– A situation comedy is drama within the terms of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s standards.
– I am giving the honourable senator the information.
– Well, it is wrong.
– We can both keep to our own opinions.
– That was the information given to the Senate Select Committee.
– The honourable senator was discussing an imported programme?
– My reply relates to an imported one. The honourable senator referred to a discussion that took place in a debate on a Bill last year. Further investigation was to be made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and a report was to be made. This investigation is being made and the report will be made by the Board to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). It will be recalled that this matter arose from a discussion in the Senate. The honourable senator referred also to colour television. I have given a reply in relation to that matter today and also an answer to a question on notice. I should like to make a point which ties up with some of the comments made by Senator Webster on the service given by the Department, Some 96% of the Australian population is now covered by black and white television. This is a very big area and a great number of people. Under the recently approved seventh stage of television development national television is to be extended to a further thirty-eight areas. Honourable senators will probably have heard this in the Senate and read it in the report. This shows the development of television in this country which I think is very noteworthy.
– I refer to the provision for capital works and services in Division 870. My comments arise from what Senator Webster said in relation to increases in operating costs and wages and salaries of Post Office employees. One should not just take a figure out of the book without having a look at what has happened in the Post Office. One cannot analyse Post Office business in terms of its making a profit for the first time in a long period. Most of us understand that the technical services pay very well and the postal side does not. Somebody interjected when Senator Webster was speaking to say that there has in fact been a decline in services. I should like to make a number of comments which have been put to me by the South Australian branch of the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union. It is well known that many complaints have been made to the Minister in the Senate who represents the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) and to the Postmaster-General himself about the one delivery a day system. This has been introduced since the Post Office was reorganised and some adjustment was made to the spread of hours worked by postmen. Unfortunately while postmen, as a result of the union’s representations, have a reduced working day to which they are entitled they have in fact additional duties. As far as I am aware the policy is now pretty well established in most capital cities that as postmen retire journey postmen are required to add to their areas part of the areas of retiring postmen, or the whole town or city is reorganised. I am told that this is pretty common. Some postmen are working shorter hours and doing more work and the community generally is not getting the same sort of service as it had before. The Committee will remember articles that were read in this chamber when the debate on the matter was current. The Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers complained about great delays. It cited evidence from a number of organisations, from manufacturers and commercial people, of long delays in the delivery of mails. The Chamber stated:
Business men were sending more of their correspondence by private carriers to ensure delivery rather than trusting to the haphazard care of the Post Office.
In relation to this matter I wrote to the South Australian branch of the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union which replied to me on 11th March 1969 - I agree that this is some months ago - in these terms:
Since the introduction of one delivery per day. 43 positions of postman have been reduced. However, at the time of introduction many offices had expanded lo a degree, whereby it was necessary to create additional rounds and additional staff was intended to be engaged. This changed conditions is not 43 but. in point of fact, more accurately 65 rounds in the city, suburbs and provincial country towns in this State- This has meant a reorganisation of staff whereby interchanges of personnel have taken place. Mail matter is therefore further delayed in processing as inexperienced staff are not able to fully assist in mail-handling operations.
During the currency of two deliveries per day in die suburbs, it was customary that mail too heavy. e.g. parcels exceeding 1 lb weight, bulky articles, etc., be delivered on the second delivery. Information now suggests that in some offices parcels wait for periods of 5 days prior to delivery. (St Peters - normal procedure at present).
That was in March this year. The letter continued:
Whilst the Department is utilising postmen’s private vehicles in other offices and paying mileage rates under Regulation 90, they deliver parcels at the conclusion of their morning round. An illustration is at Croydon Post Office. Duration was a period of li hours and a sum of $2.10 was complete reimbursement including mileage and labour. This incidentally is not an isolated incident; the practice is general.
In relation to letter-mail, deliveries from the city to the suburbs are taking as long as 9 days in reaching destination; only yesterday at Seacliff this illustration occurred.
He goes on then to refer to complaints which have been received by postmen who have sent them on to the union office. On Monday last I had representations from a constituent in the area represented by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) who wanted to make a complaint that in the Rosewater area a number of letters had been received without being duly stamped. He was wondering whether some improper practice was going on. I do not suggest that there is any improper practice. Probably this matter will be submitted to the Director in Adelaide. 1 think we must have full regard to the fact that whatever success the PostmasterGenera!1 has had in restoring some sort of financial stability to the Post Office, there is no doubt that part of the success story is due to the reduction of standards of postal services. What is happening in the Post Office seems to be happening in other industries. If we want to modernise the Post Office and improve efficiency we must have regard to the conditions of postmen. I understand that there is still a growing number of complaints in the community about the unsatisfactory postal service, particularly in relation to postal deliveries. I hope that some action will be taken as a result of the points I have raised. Senator Milliner also has referred to complaints about the postal service. He asked questions of the Minister on this subject and quite recently the Minister replied in a written answer that there had been some complaints but that they were of a minor nature. I trust that what I have said will occasion some support for the postmen who seem to be getting increased work as people leave the service.
– I call Senator Lawrie.
– Mr Chairman, I want to refer-
– Order! Senator Lawrie has the call.
– I do not think you should call a senator who has just walked into the chamber when others have been seeking the call.
Senator Lawrie has been here for a substantial period. While sitting here as the Temporary Chairman I attempt to call honourable senators as I see them and in the context of the debate. I was not aware that Senator Ormonde was desirous of speaking until the Opposition Whip drew my attention to it and asked me to put his name on the list. In the meantime I had signified to Senator Lawrie, who had been attempting to catch my attention for some time, that I intended to call him next. I would be grateful, therefore, if the honourable senator in understanding my explanation would extend to me the charity that he normally extends to other people.
– I refer to Division 870 which relates to Capital Works and Services. I propose to deal with the provision of small automatic exchange equipment throughout the various country areas of Australia. 1 believe that the Postmaster-General should give consideration to increasing greatly the orders for this type of equipment. I know that we cannot order equipment today and expect to receive it tomorrow, that we have to plan ahead for probably a couple of years and have a continuing programme for this sort of increase, but from the information that I have been able to gather it seems that about 45,000 telephones operate only on restricted hours throughout Australia. In these instances there is usually little or no night service and there is nothing on Saturday afternoons. In some cases the service is available for perhaps an hour on Sundays. These telephones are not used for business purposes; they are all in private homes, many of them on farms and station properties. If there could be a continuous service at a much earlier date than is at present planned extra revenue would accrue for the Postmaster-General’s Department. I suggest that consideration could be given to getting this equipment at the earliest possible moment.
We have been told that in Australia 92% of the telephones are connected to an automatic service, but has any consideration been given to the number of these which are in offices that in many cases are open only 5 days a week or perhaps also on Saturday mornings, but not at night or otherwise at weekends. For a considerable part of the week no revenue is obtained from a very large part of our telephone service in Australia. Yet those who would provide revenue are unable to get a service at some periods because of the restricted hours. The smaller exchanges which operate on what is known as an allowance postman system probably do not cater for mail or any postal service other than the telephone service, as a result of which we are reaching the stage at which many of these people are no longer prepared to operate the exchange, leaving many people without a telephone service over night. As well as providing more equipment for the smaller manual exchanges, I suggest that many of the exchanges which are reasonably close together could be merged with a cable system.
We have been told by the PostmasterGeneral that it will be towards the end of the 1970s before the number of telephones on a restricted telephone service has been reduced from 45,000 to about 16,000. That is 10 years from now. Even then we will still have 16,000 telephone subscribers on restricted hours. I do not think that is good enough for Australia when we consider the services which are available in other parts of the world, particularly in North America where the service is provided by private enterprise. In nearly every country that I have visited I have found that when I mention restricted telephone hours the people ask what I mean. They say: ‘Do you mean to say that you have many people who cannot use the telephone at night time and at weekends?’ It is rather hard to explain to them that that is the position. A decision should be made at the earliest possible time to plan ahead and to order the equipment. I do not think it would be too much to expect a deadline of, say, 5 years to eliminate the restricted service for almost all the 45,000 subscribers to whom I have referred. Every little exchange does not need to be automatic. With modern cable equipment they could be merged together or connected to bigger neighbouring exchanges.
The Postmaster-General has told us that for a matter of $4m everybody in Australia could have a continuous service tomorrow, but he has not told us how much additional revenue we could offset against that cost. I believe that with much more small equipment, with more cables and perhaps a little additional expenditure we would be able to offset much of the cost with increased revenue. I appeal to the Minister to put it to the Postmaster-General that the equipment should be ordered so that within about 5 years everybody can have access to a continuous telephone service incorporating all the modern ideas of the present telephone system. I do not think that is too much to ask and I do not think it is an unreasonable request. For the reasons that I have stated I make that appeal. I reiterate that a tremendous amount of telephone equipment,, exchange equipment and trunk lines must be standing idle for all but about 35 hours each week while the offices are open. At present subscribers on services with restricted hours kv country areas cannot take advantage of the cheaper rates which operate at night and weekends. If the service were available to them they could take advantage of the cheaper rates, thus providing more revenue to be offset against the cost of the service. I ask that the Department plan ahead and try to speed things up so that within 5 years we can eliminate the restriction on hours imposed on most telephone exchanges and services.
– The functions of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department are important to the community as a whole. I believe that in the main the Department is doing a reasonably good job, although I am not necessarily saying that it is 100% perfect in its administration or in the services it provides. The matter raised by Senator Lawrie is of vital importance. I think it would suit the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) better to visualise a time when he would be able to say that the people referred to by Senator Lawrie were receiving a proper service than to say he looked forward to the time when everybody had a telephone in every room of their house, which was the last famous statement that he made. Has any honourable senator ever heard anything so stupid and ridiculous? Who would want a telephone in every room of the house? Yet that is the vision and the target of the Postmaster-General. There are many other phases of the services provided by his Department to which he should be giving attention. The matter raised by Senator Lawrie is one example. These people are greatly disadvantaged. Many other sections of the community are not receiving the services to which they are entitled.
Senator Webster made great play of the fact that the Post Office made a profit last financial year. It is very refreshing to hear that. It is a long time since the Post Office has registered a profit. Years ago the Post Office was the best revenue producer in the Commonwealth, but it is deteriorating. However, it should not be surprising to any thinking person to learn that the Post Office showed a profit during the last finan cial year because the services it provides are restricted and the cost of those services has been greatly increased. As I have said on previous occasions, I am pleased that the Government has adopted my suggestion of making the Post Office a distinct entity by placing the revenue it earns into a trust fund instead of into Consolidated Revenue. I look forward to the day when the activities of the Postmaster-General’s Department are removed from the control of the Public Service Board and the Department is allowed to function as a distinct entity without Board interference, much of which is meddlesome. 1 find it very difficult to understand why 6,000 telephone subscribers in the metropolitan area of Brisbane should be disadvantaged because their new telephone numbers were not included in the latest telephone directory. All that anyone ringing up one of these subscribers is told is that the number has been altered. Surely this inconvenience could have been avoided. There is something wrong when this sort of thing is allowed to happen. Yet we are often told that the Department is efficient. A couple of weeks ago I had occasion on a Saturday morning after returning home from Canberra to ring a number in Brisbane. I did not get any signal at all. I did not get an engaged signal, a ringing signal or a disconnected signal. After dialling the number a few times I rang the telephone complaints section. A female answered and said that the number had been altered. I said: ‘Thank you very much. What is the new number?’ She told me to ring inquiries to find out. I rang again and gave her a second chance. I said: ‘I would not like to deny you the right to live, but if the Postmaster-General or Mr Lane knew how you treated a member of the paying public you would be removed to a position in which you would not be in contact with a member of the public from the time you start to the time you finish’. I should point out that Mr Lane is in charge of the General Post Office in Brisbane.
– That would be severe.
– It would not be severe because she had not learned even common manners. If the public is treated in this manner it is time the Postmaster-General put aside his visions of having a telephone in every room of a house and saw to it that the staff he selects to deal with the public know how to speak to the public. In criticising this individual I do not want to leave the impression that I believe all telephonists and others engaged in the Postmaster-General’s Department come within the same category. Generally, they are respectful, obliging and good servants. I do not know how a person like this could get under the guard of the authorities. She would not tell me the new number. Instead she wanted me to incur the inconvenience of another call to find out. It should not be necessary to make another call. This person should have been in a position to tell me the altered number. I do not know why the old number was altered. Things like this puzzle the taxpayers. In regard to the Postmaster-General’s vision of a telephone in every room, I ask: At the present rate of rentals who would be able to afford a telephone in every room?
– Of course not. Some Ministers take leave of their senses at times. In the last couple of months we have seen several of them take leave of their senses. [Quorum formed.] When attention was drawn to the state of the chamber I was referring to the things by which members of the public measure the standard of efficiency of the Department. They do not measure it by this high-falutin idea of a telephone in every room in the house. Nobody wants a telephone in every room in the house. It was a ridiculous statement to make. I think the newspaper that published this statement must have had a set against the Postmaster-General. Of course, the Postmaster-General must have made the statement at a time of mental abberation or weakness.
I refer to the activities of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I should imagine that if members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party did not have something to say on this subject honourable senators would wonder what is wrong with us. They may even be inclined to think that the things about which we have complained have been remedied. I hastily assure the Senate that the complaints have not been remedied. The injustice exists and continues to exist. As a democrat in a democracy I have believed always that minority parties in the political sphere should have equal rights with the major parties. I do not know of any argument, in justice or logic in contradiction of that statement. Why should the taxpayers, who maintain the ABC, subsidise the major parties to the detriment of a minor party in the matter of publicity at election times? The DLP gets half an hour free time on ABC TV and 45 minutes on radio. The major parties get about four times as much. Is there any reason why the taxpayers should subsidise the major parties to our disadvantage? The only solution to this problem is for the ABC to provide the leader of every political party, irrespective of its strength, 1 hour free time for the deliverance of its policy speech.
– Does the honourable senator include the Communist Party in this?
– Every political party that has candidates in the election.
– There would not be enough time.
– If he cannot deliver his policy speech in 1 hour he should be prepared to pay for the excess time. I have been delivering policy speeches for many years. One hour is ample.
– It is too much.
– It is not too much for those who listen to the good material we produce. The leader of every political party, irrespective of its strength, should be given 1 hour to deliver his policy speech. Having done that, the political parties would be on their own and would have to pay for the time they used on commercial stations. That way each party would have an equal opportunity. Who can say, in justice, that our policy is not as important to the people of Australia as are the policies of the Government or of the major Opposition party? The people want to hear and to listen to our policy. The people are as interested in our policy, particularly in these days when they are sick to the tonsils of the Government’s policy and when they have no confidence in the official Opposition, as they are in the policies of the major parties. So they should be.
– The gallup polls do not show that.
– The Labor Party always takes refuge in the gallup polls.
– Occasionally the DLP has taken refuge in them.
– Invariably they are wrong.
– Remember what they said and what happened in the last Senate election.
– In the last Senate election they forecast 9% for the DLP and in winning the fifth seat Senator Little polled 17% in his own right. The ALP talks a lot of nonsense about gallup polls. Opposition senators should not console themselves with the results of those polls. They need a far better basis for their optimism than the gallup polls. They want a very good policy and, what is more important, a restoration of public confidence.
– This election will see a repetition of the Dawson by-election, the result of which really stung the honourable senator.
– As usual, the honourable senator picks out a particular seat. Time will tell.
– We poll the biggest percentage of any party.
– We poll a greater percentage than does the Country Party, which has Ministers in this Parliament, and we cannot get a member in the other place.
– To which line is the honourable senator referring?
– I am on the correct line, not like the line I was on in Brisbane when I was told to ring another number and find out the new telephone number for myself. I am still searching. I continue to register our protest against the discrimination shown to smaller political parties by the ABC. The correspondence we have received is too silly for words; it is an insult to our intellect. I do not know why anyone would write the rubbish that was written to me when I protested against the discrimination shown to the DLP in the Tasmanian State election campaign. We got no time at all. Yet a centre party, alleged without any substantiation to be a political party, an affiliate of the Country Party, was given time. That party has one representative in the State Parliament. Senator Webster, accompanied by Mr McEwen-
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I have only two inquiries to make, so I will not detain the Senate long.
– What line is the honourable senator on?
– I refer to the expenditure last year of $55,354,137 on broadcasting and television services. Some 2 years ago, in conjunction with representatives of (he Postal Workers Union, Senator McClelland, Senator Mulvihill and I set out to get the co-operation of the Postmaster-General’s Department to reduce the number of Post Offices that have to open on Saturdays. From my experience, possibly the most difficulty experienced in closing a Post Office earlier on a Saturday was experienced at Darlinghurst in the Potts Point area. That Post Office is a very busy one. It now closes at 1 1 a.m. each Saturday. A lot of people said that the early closing would not work. The early closing has been achieved easily. The Post Office is closing early each Saturday. The inconvenience caused to people by a lack of public telephones was overcome by the installation of more telephones. Those who wanted to keep the Post Offices open merely-
– I cannot hear the honourable senator.
– There is too much noise in the chamber. The cares aud worries of those who wanted to keep the Post Offices fully staffed and open merely so that they could buy stamps were removed by the installation of extra stamp selling machines. To what extent has this campaign had success? How many Post Offices close earlier on Saturday morning? I know the Government’s intention is to close all of them on Saturdays. The campaign is continuing and wants a bit of a kick along. I was asked by union officials to raise this matter in the debate and I take the opportunity to ask that question. Another matter that has worried me - and I am glad that Senator Webster is not present to listen to this because he does not like to hear criticism of private enterprise - is the number of red telephones that have been installed. The increase in the number of installations has been remarkable.
– I cannot hear the honourable senator.
– The noise in the chamber prompts me to ask whether I am too provocative. Red telephones have been installed extensively- Private enterprise, not the Post Office, supplies them. Has the addition of red telephones caused a decrease in the number of applications for standard public telephones? A lot of small businesses and shops have a red telephone outside the door during business hours. When they close, the telephone is brought inside and is used as a normal telephone. I have seen how this operates. A lot of people with those telephones would not need normal telephones. I should like to know what effect the red telephones have had on the installation of other telephones. I wish to speak about another matter, and here I support the Leader of the Australia Party (Senator Turnbull) in his endeavours to get more time on our television and radio services. I agree with Senator Gair in that I believe that, if the Australian Broadcasting Commission has any reason for being on earth, it is, above all things, to serve the minority groups in life generally. I was a member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Advisory Committee for 6 years and was very interested in how it operated. It did set out to do something for the minority groups. In sport, for example, it gave time to rugby union instead of rugby league. In Melbourne it devoted some time to soccer instead of Australian rules. It has always given attention to defending the minority groups in these fields. But not so in politics. I have seen something done for games of checkers because it was the pastime of a minority group. There is something to be said for that policy. The minorities have to be looked after, and that is the Commission’s job. Of course, this does not return revenue and for this reason the commercial television and radio stations are not interested in it. Therefore, the national stations should take some interest in it. I really cannot understand why more time is not given to the minority political parties. After all, the Democratic Labor Party has been in existence for 15 or 16 years. It should be given more time. I think the Government should have got used to the fact that it is here.
– We are discriminated against enough by the newspapers.
– I think the Democratic Labor Party ought to get a fair share of time along with the Australia Party and the Communist Party. I could never understand why the Commission abandoned the programme ‘Meet the Candidates.’ Tremendous pressure must have been brought to bear on it to do that. Apparently someone did not want it. I think that Senator Turnbull is entitled to at least a fair proportion of time from the Australian Broadcasting Commission to tell his story. The ABC ought to look after the minorities in politics just as much as it looks after the minorities in the fields of arts and cultural activities. I hope the Minister can give me satisfactory answers to my inquiries.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [4.38] - I have some further information for Senator Cant who referred to music on television. He said that performances tended to become centralised. That is true. The performances of music on television have tended to become centralised. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has given a good deal of thought to the performance of music on television and has recently screened two series, ‘Concerto’ and ‘Gala Performance’. I refer Senator Cant to page 13 of the Commission’s report in which mention is made of these two series of performances. Mention is made there of a series of six studio presentations of Gala Performance’ featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra with guest artists and guest conductors. Reference is also made there to the radio series ‘Orchestra Time’ which ran from December to March. This was another all-States production broadcast on the first network each week from Monday to Friday for 13 weeks. That information should answer the question raised by Senator Cant on that item.
Senator Cant also spoke to me about credits. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s Australian content requirements on commercial television fall into two parts. Firstly, there is an overall requirement for 50% Australian programmes. Limited credit is here given for British and Commonwealth programme. Secondly, there are peak time requirements including requirements for Australian drama. Australian drama gets a special credit of oneandahalf to two times towards the 50%, but not imported programmes. The Board’s special credits for Australian content with respect to drama and children’s programmes apply only to such programmes acted in Australia or acted and written by Australians, and not British programmes.
Senator Lawrie referred to automatic exchanges. 1 have some information on that, in 1968-69, there were fifty-nine large automatic exchanges established in country districts. Nineteen of these installations replaced small country automatic exchanges. The number of small country automatic exchanges in service increased by 117, bringing the total number in operation throughout the Commonwealth to 2,156. In 1969-70, the installation of over 158,000 lines of automatic equipment is planned for country areas. The conversion of 38,000 manual services to automatic is proposed. New large country automatic exchanges are to be established at forty-six centres and small country automatic exchanges are to be established at 193 centres.
Senator Bishop referred to mail deliveries. It is true that a smaller number of postmen is required to deliver mail with the once daily delivery frequency. However, no postmen were put off. Staff reduction is being achieved by normal staff wastage. Senator Bishop also suggested that postmen were working shorter hours but doing more work. Postmen are still rostered for a 40- hour week, but, because they deliver only once each day, they can deliver to more homes within the same hours. Postmen’s rounds have therefore been re-arranged and this re-arrangement is continuing as staff wastage brings the number of postmen to the new level required.
There should be no reason for delays in the delivery of parcels. Senator Bishop commented about this. I shall make a point of asking the Postmaster-General to make inquiries about this and shall convey whatever information I get to the honourable senator. It will probably not be while the Estimates are under discussion, but I shall furnish it to him as soon as I can. Senator Ormonde asked how many Post Offices do not open for business on Saturdays. There are approximately 200 Post Offices which do not open on this day. The honourable senator asked for some other . information. I shall endeavour to get that for him.
– I refer to the item covering capital works and services in the Postmaster-General’s Department, provided for in document B and to which Senator Lawrie made reference. 1 cannot let the occasion go by without making some reference to a town in Tasmania that has a population of between 7,000 and 8,000 people and which also serves the people in the surrounding district. The Minister knows the town because she opened a show there. In that town there is an automatic telephone exchange building which as yet is not in operation. The building has been completed for 2 years now and we are told by the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Tasmania that the service from this exchange will not become automatic until some time towards the end of next year. 1 understand this is the last centre of any size in Tasmania which is to be converted to an automatic service. I can understand some delay, but when it comes to the stage where the lag is upwards of 3 years - and that is what it really amounts to - there is something very wrong indeed. I should like to know whether the delay in introducing the automatic service is due to insufficient money being allocated to Tasmania, lack of equipment or nonavailability of equipment. What is wrong? What could cause such a mighty holdup? In no way do I blame the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Tasmania. I believe that he is a sterling officer and is doing a wonderful job. Apparently this sort of thing is right outside his control. I would like the Minister to tell me what is wrong and what causes such a mighty holdup.
– I wish to speak again about broadcasting time for a minority party. As a result of this injustice to our Party, a commercial station - Channel 10 - offered us free time. I hope that other commercial stations will do the same.
– How much time did it offer?
– Seven minutes, which is quite good. I refer now to philatelic services and the sale of postage stamps.
When I was in Port Moresby a couple of years ago I noticed a display of European stamps. 1 asked the man behind the counter where the stamps came from. He replied: We receive them because we belong to the international postal union. Every country sends three specimens of each stamp issued to each post office in the union’. These stamps go to every capital city in Australia and also, I understand, to some other cities.
I want to find out how many other post offices receive these free specimens from foreign countries, and what happens to them. In Port Moresby 1 was told that they go into a vault. They must be worth millions of dollars over the years. What is done with all these stamps? In Australia, apart from the capital city post offices, I suppose that about twenty post offices would receive them. Perhaps the number is far more than that. Each one has free specimens of each stamp issued by every country in the union. There must be a fantastic number of them. They must represent a fantastic asset at face value and their philatelic value must be even more fantastic. I realise that it may be difficult to obtain the full information on this matter now, but I thought this was the appropriate time to mention it. Perhaps the Minister could obtain the information and tell us what happens to these stamps. Why are they not sold? The Government would make a fortune and could pay for its FI 1 ls without any trouble.
– As one who has been a critic of the Australian Broadcasting Commission on occasions, I say briefly that I compliment it on the fact that when I listen - and I listen to its stations more than to any other station - I notice that there has been a considerable improvement in its programmes. It appears to me that in the ABC there is a very sincere effort to give the people of Australia good programmes. I am very pleased to be able to say that in my view it provides a better service, from the point of view of the general community although not so much from the point of view of some particular types, than do other stations because it caters for all sections of the community.
I agree with those who have said that the present system of allocating political time is unjust. I believe that it will be entirely unjust if the Australia Party, which
Senator Turnbull represents, is not given time in the coming election campaign. I have this much sympathy for the ABC: I believe that the job of allocating political time was thrust upon it and that the job should have been undertaken by the Parliament itself. In Great Britain the political parties have representatives on a committee which agrees on political time. It seems to work very well, lt gives everybody a fair deal. In Great Britain even the Communist Party is given time on the basis that every political party is entitled to a fair deal.
Here in Australia, if the Parliament is unwilling to take over the task itself - I imagine that the task is probably distasteful to the ABC and that it would like to get rid of it - I support the proposal made by Senator Gair. Why should not we have a system under which the ABC gives the leader of each political party which is represented in Parliament and which submits a significant number of candidates - say enough to contest one third of the vacancies at an election - 1 hour to put his policy speech and then says: ‘That is it. If he wants more time, let him go to the commercial stations’?
I think everybody knows that the present system was instituted when the government of the day did not want to give the Communist Party any time. It did not want it to be thought that as a government it was exercising a political ban, so it got out of it by saying to the Australian Broadcasting Commission: ‘You look after it; but this is what you have to do’. The Government has been doing that ever since. I believe that the proper body to decide the allocation of political time would be a committee consisting of representatives of each party in the Parliament. If the Government is not prepared to have such a committee, I hope that the ABC will say: ‘We do not intend to tolerate all these charges that we are discriminating in favour of one party as against another. In future we will give each party 1 hour for its policy speech. That will mean that all parties will be treated equally. There will be nothing further. They can go to the commercial stations for the rest.’
The other matter on which I wish to speak is the allegations that have been made against the Australian Broadcasting Commission over recent years to the effect tha* it is giving more time to some points of view than to others. In particular, the allegation has been made that it has given more time to leftist points of view. In my Party 5 or 6 years ago there was a lot of dissatisfaction over what was happening. Week after week we had this kind of thing happening: A wide variety of people ranging from Mr Wheelwright of the University of Sydney to Mr Calwell would be put on ABC comment programmes, and invariably the inquisitor would ask them: ‘What is your opinion of the Democratic Labor Party?’. Anybody who knows Mr Wheelwright or Mr Calwell can imagine what their opinion of the Democratic Labor Party was.
On numerous occasions I wrote to the ABC, saying: ‘I have no objection to your asking Mr Wheelwright or Mr Calwell what he thinks of the DLP; but all I want you to do is to allow me to appear on the programme and say what I think of Mr Wheelwright’s opinions or Mr Calwell’s opinions’. I. emphasise that some people suggest that the DLP wants to interfere with what the ABC broadcasts, but we do not desire to interfere at all. We have no objection to the ABC broadcasting controversial material. We have no objection to it broadcasting attacks on our Party or on the points of view that we hold. All we say is that, if we are to be attacked or if one particular point of view is to be put, then the people holding the opposing point of view should have an equal opportunity to put their case. There would be no objections if that happened.
I want to be fair. I understand from what I have read in the newspapers - I do not know whether this can be confirmed - that the ABC itself has taken action in regard to this matter and that there has been an appointment of an officer whose duty is to see that a balance is maintained; that if there are two opposing points of view each point of view is put. I think this action may have been taken, because in recent weeks there has been very little to complain of in regard to the ABC. I believe that it has been giving both sides of the question and doing it very well. But if that fs so, that in my view is the solution to the problem. Instead of perhaps an individual who may have his own opinions having carte blanche to put over those opinions without regard to what
others may think, if the ABC itself will watch the situation and will see to it that both sides, are given fair play that will be the solution to the whole problem. I noticed that in the other place the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) had suggested recently that Parliament should take over the matter. He said that he did not agree with the way that the ABC was handling this and that Parliament should take it over. I do not think that Parliament needs to take it over at all.
Under the system that the Australian Broadcasting Commission appears to have adopted in recent weeks of keeping a careful survey of what is being broadcast and ensuring that both points of view are being put, I think the position is all right and that there is no need for the Parliament to interfere. So I conclude by saying that my attitude in regard to the ABC is this: Let it broadcast all the controversial material it wishes. I have no objection if it happens to attack my point of view, the views of my Party or the views which people like myself hold. But I say that the ABC must be careful to see that both points of view are put on controversial issues, and put fairly, because it is not much good to have somebody who is an expert putting one point of view and somebody who is apparently not an expert acting as his opponent. One example of that occurred in a broadcast about an industrial dispute. A union official, a member of the Communist Party, was put on to give the point of view of those who believed the dispute should go on. But it was contrary to a decision of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Quite a number of union officials who supported the decision of the ACTU would have liked the opportunity to oppose the militant gentleman who was in favour of the dispute, but they did not get the opportunity. The person who was put on apparently as the opponent turned out to be somebody who said that he agreed to a great extent with the man on the other side. That is not putting both points of view. However, I do feel that in recent weeks .the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been very fair in putting both points of view and I hope that it will continue to do so.
– I rise again to speak to the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s
Department and I will refer briefly to the statements just made by Senator McManus and by Senator Gair before him. They both have expressed the views to which they are entitled but to which I personally am violently opposed. But nonetheless it all illustrates my earlier point that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission should get together for the purpose of drawing up what in the United States is called a ‘fairness doctrine’ to ensure that representatives of all points of view are given an opportunity to present those views according to what is regarded as their strength within the community. But personally - and I speak personally at this stage - I would be violently opposed to the suggestion put forward by both Senator Gair and Senator McManus that all parties, irrespective of size, be given an hour’s time for a statement on the Australian Broadcasting Commission of their policy and then, to use their own words, that, would be all.
The Australian Labor Party receives the largest vote of all political parties, as Senator Cavanagh said by way of interjection a little while ago. How fair would it be, from the point of view of the largest political party in Australia, to get one hour’s time while our opponents, the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party between them got three hours?
– It is questionable whether they are parties at all.
– Indeed. I personally would have no objection to Senator Turnbull as Leader of the Australia Party being given time on the Australian Broadcasting Commission to put. his point of view provided that he bad been elected to this Parliament, as a representative of that Party. But he was elected as an independent senator. If we are to give that time to him on the basis that although he was elected as an independent he has now formed his own party and become leader of it and therefore is entitled to have free time on the ABC, what would be the situation if a number of independents were elected to this Parliament and then formed their own party? Suppose that at election time they said that, because they were leaders of a party which they themselves had formed after they had been elected to the Parliament, they should have an hour’s time on television. Under the proposals put forward by Senator Gair and Senator McManus we would have the ludicrous situation of the Labor Party, the largest political party in Australia, being given an hour’s time on television to present its case and Mr Benson, the independent member for Batman - a single member of the Parliament - being given an hour’s time provided that he had formed himself into a political party. He would be given the same amount of time as the Australian Labor Party.
I suggest that the proposal put forward by the Democratic Labor Party is too ludicrous for words. Nonetheless, I will agree that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Australian Broadcasting Commission could well get their heads together to draw up a fairness doctrine which would be in the interests not only of the political parties but of all sections of the community which have an important voice in the affairs of this nation. Earlier during the course of my remarks I was saying that the additional $2m allocated to the ABC this financial year will, it appears, be taken up mainly in increased costs and increases that will occur in salaries and wages because of the inflationary spiral which is now evident. I think the Government has to look closely at methods by which it can more effectively finance the operations of the ABC. During the recent parliamentary recess I visited a number of countries and had a look at mass communications in those countries. 1 will say this to the credit of the ABC, that wherever I went I heard praise of its activities. 1 think the executive and the officers of the Commission have done an excellent job internationally for Australia. But I want to deal with two aspects of the proposed expenditure by the Commission and 1 want to help it to obtain more funds from this Government for its development.
I shall refer to Radio Australia and to educational television. Let me deal first with Radio Australia. The programmes broadcast on Radio Australia are well received throughout Asia, principally because they have an air of authenticity rather than of sensationalism. Everyone to whom I spoke who listened to Radio Australia regarded the programmes very highly indeed. Radio Australia is carrying the views of Australia to the important parts of the world so far as we are concerned. I think that because of the international responsibility that Radio Australia has, this section of the operations of the ABC should be financed by the Department of External Affairs. The ordinary . Australian taxpayer pays his wireless and television licence fees knowing full well that he does so to assist with the burden of financing the operations of the ABC. But. he also regards those fees as finance for the production of home consumption programmes.
Little thought is given by ordinary Australians to the highly complex operations and the cost necessarily involved in the overseas programmes of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Commission has an important responsibility to inform the people of Asia on international affairs and to put to them Australia’s point of view. I visited the United Nations early in July and was amazed to learn that whilst the United Nations has its own radio station and television facilities, there are entire regions where reception of its short wave transmission is non-existent and where no facilities are available for national monitoring or re-broadcasting. One such area is in Asia. With the introduction of the Intelstat system of transmission of programmes it appears to me that all member countries of the United Nations including Australia should agree that the United Nations use Intelstat free of charge to ensure a proper worldwide coverage of its affairs. Pending such action the Australian Government has an obligation to the people to see that the Australian point of view is adequately presented to our near neighbours. Responsibility should not lie with the ABC alone. I believe strongly that a subvention should be made by the Department of External Affairs to the Australian Broadcasting Commission to subsidise the activities of Radio Australia.
The British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts its foreign language service to about forty-eight countries. The finance for that service is provided by the British Foreign Office. Because of our close links with Asia and the present international situation confronting Australia in its relationships with Asia, it is important that the Australian Government should face up to its responsibility and make more funds available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission to present Australia’s views adequately and comprehensively on Radio Australia to our neighbours.
I said earlier that I would comment upon educational television. This is another field in which more funds should be set aside by the Government to assist the Australian Broadcasting Commission to develop an effective educational television service. The latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board shows that the only organisation doing anything in Australia today to present educational television programmes is the Australian Broadcasting Commission and that is not enough when compared with what is done in other countries. Paragraph 83 of the Board’s report states that the time occupied by educational programmes on metropolitan commercial television stations is estimated at a mere 26 hours a station each year, or 0.5% of all programme time. In view of educational television activities in other countries, this is a scandalous state of affairs.
In Great Britain the British Broadcasting Corporation now conducts a university of the air. In Sweden the mass media facilities are used to educate the younger generation. In the United States of America about 188 educational television stations are connected in a national network for the purpose of educating the younger people. When 1 was in Los Angeles I had discussions with representatives of Channel 28, an educational television channel. It was pointed out to me that from the time a student starts school until he leaves and is eligible to enter a college he receives about 1,200 hours of manual instruction. In addition, if he wishes, he can receive about 15,000 hours of educational television assistance.
In Japan NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Commission, spends 40% of its budgetary allocation on educational television. The Australian Government simply is not doing enough for educational television services. We lag far behind other countries in this field. It is scandalous that Austraiian commercial television stations are permitted to devote to educational programmes a mere 0.5% of television time each year. There is great scope in Australia today for educational television programmes on closed circuit systems. The Australian Broadcasting
Control Board’s latest report states that about 46% of schools in the Commonwealth are now equipped to receive educational television programmes. In the small State of Tasmania 98% of schools are so equipped. I applaud the ABC for what it has done to date in the field of educational television, having regard to its very limited budget. However, in view of the crisis in education today T suggest that one way out of the critical period is for the Government to make more adequate funds available to the ABC effectively to show educational television programmes.
Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 want to remind the Minister that I have not received an answer to the query I raised about formal education television programmes and documentaries which do not attract a credit rating. It seems to me that this is an area of useful, informative and educational television for the Australian people, yet it does not attract a credit rating. I think the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should study this aspect. A paragraph in the Board’s latest report states that the purpose of the credit rating is to encourage the transmission of programmes that will be of benefit to the people. I remind the Minister that most television viewers are anxious to see more documentary films instead of old films produced in the 1930s, or even in the 1920s. Recently I saw on television a film produced in 1928. People would much prefer to see documentaries, whether produced in Australia or overseas, rather than look at old films. I urge the Australian Broadcasting Control Board further to consider the matter of formal educational films and documentaries shown on television with a view to giving them a credit rating. ] return now to capital works and services for the Postmaster-General’s Department. When I go into the country I am disturbed at being faced with queries from people living in isolated areas about the cost of having a telephone installed. This is something that Senator Webster forgot when he was congratulating the Postmaster-General’s Department. Only a few weeks ago he was advocating cheaper telephone services for country people. Recently 1 was in a developing farming area in the south west of Western Australia and I learned of sixteen people who had applied for a telephone to be connected. The Department was prepared to run a cable to a distribution box to serve them. However nine of the applicants were informed that the telephone would be connected to their premises free of charge and seven were informed that they would have to pay for the installation of the service.
I spoke to two of the people who would have to pay for the installation of the service. One told me that it would cost him $3,600 and the other told me that it would cost him $2,995. These are people living in isolated areas where for themselves, their families and for the conduct of their business, a telephone is almost essential. In many instances they have to travel many miles - some of them up to 20 miles - to use a telephone, frequently to find when they arrive there that the telephone is out of order; frequently to find that the person they want to contact is not available. On many occasions this has to be done in daylight hours because the exchanges do not operate a 24-hour service and the persons concerned have to sacrifice almost a clay’s work to telephone for a doctor or to telephone a firm to order some part of a machine that they require to carry on their business.
The amazing part is that whilst the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is prepared to run the cable to the distribution box and to provide nine of the applicants with a telephone free of cost, the other seven have to pay between them $24,000 for the service. Unless the seven are prepared to pay the $24,000 the cable does not go to the distribution box and all sixteen do not get a telephone service. Under the system of making loans to people to pay for the cost of installing a telephone service, the nine who are close enough to the cable to have the telephone installed free of charge would not be able to raise a loan from the Postal Department to assist the other seven. Therefore this system deprives sixteen applicants of a telephone service in the area.
If I take the extreme case of the applicant who has to pay $3,600 for the telephone service - that is the Department’s estimate of the cost - the Department then wants the subscriber to pay 5% extra as a maintenance charge. People in the metropolitan or urban areas of the States do not pay a maintenance charge on their telephones, but because the people to whom I refer live in an isolated area they must pay a large sum of money to have a telephone connected and, in addition, must dip into their pockets and find an extra 5% to meet the maintenance charge. The Department is prepared to allow these people to put in their own lines. They can do it themselves by working bees or by whatever other way they choose. The person to whom I am referring - I mentioned that his was the extreme case- estimated that he could put the telephone line to his place for $400. But the Department will not charge the 5% maintenance on the $400; it wants to charge the 5% extra on the $3,600 that it estimates is the cost of the service. By doing this the Department makes it prohibitive for people living in isolated areas to have a telephone service. I think it is time that the Postal Department had a look at this and considered making a charge overall on the whole community to assist people living in isolated areas. lt must be remembered that we have a continent of 3 million square miles with a population of approximately 12 million. The great bulk of the population is centred in the larger metropolitan areas and the greatest proportion of that population is centred in the south eastern corner of Australia. Therefore it is inevitable that large expense will be involved if the isolated areas are to be served with a communications system. But in a country which is supposed to be as wealthy as Australia is, why is it necessary that the whole charge should be placed upon the people living in the isolated areas? That is no encouragement for people to go into isolated areas and develop this country. Unless the Postal Department is prepared to bear some of the cost or to distribute it across the board to all telephone subscribers, there will continue to be people living in the isolated areas who will not have the amenities that the people generally are entitled to expect. When one considers the amount of money that is appropriated every year for this public service, the people are entitled to expect the amenities. I can call the Department no more than a public service. Although I was critical of it previously - there are many areas in relation to which one can be critical of the Postmaster-General’s Department - nevertheless it performs a public service, and it should perform a public service for those in isolated areas as it does for those in the more populous areas.
At this stage all I can do is urge the Government to have another look at the system relating to the installation of telephones in country areas. Telephones are not a luxury; they are a necessity if business is to be carried on in isolated areas. The Postmaster-General’s Department should review its policy to try to reduce the cost of installation and to remove the 5% maintenance charge which is not paid by people in metropolitan and urban areas and in largo towns. The people in the isolated areas should not be faced with this charge.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.19] - Senator Turnbull asked for some information about the foreign stamps he had seen in the post office at Port Moresby. It is true that members of the Universal Postal Union send to each other for reference purposes specimens of postage stamps which have been issued. As a member of the UPU the Australian Post Office receives three copies of stamps issued by other countries. These are kept in the official stamp collections at headquarters and are used for reference purposes by officers of the Post Office and the Note Printing Branch and in displays. It would be contrary to the spirit of the agreement with the UPU to sell these stamps.
Senator Lillico referred to the building at Ulverstone. This building was handed over to the Post Office in about April 1969. The diversion of ducts and external line plant has commenced, and the installation of telephone exchange plant is expected to start very shortly. It is expected that the exchange will be cut into service by the end of 1970. Senator Ormonde asked whether the popularity of red telephones was affecting the use of other telephones. Installation of these phones has to some extent relieved the Post Office of the need to provide public telephones in protected areas, that is, inside buildings. It has had little or no effect on the requirement for the Post Office to provide public telephones in street areas. Senator McClelland referred to educational television and the rating for school programmes. Most of the educational television for schools is viewed in the morning and afternoon sessions and so is non-competitive and does not seek a rating. The documentaries to which he referred have a good rating. They are put on between 7 and 8 o’clock at night when there is an hour of news and documentaries. Senator Cant referred to the encouragement of Australian drama and documentaries.
– I said that documentaries and formal educational films do not attract a credit rating.
– That is right. There is not a great shortage of documentary type programmes. They do not require as much encouragement, as does Australian drama. Formal educational television is carried on mainly through the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This, of course, is Government policy. A passage in paragraph 344 of the report of the Austraiian Broadcasting Control Board. T think, answers certain points that Senator McClelland made. It reads:
Consideration was given to extending the range of programmes which might benefit from credit loadings: but although other types of programmes may deserve recognition as meritorious contributions lo television, the immediate need to encourage production of them was noi seen to have the urgency that applied to drama and children’s programmes. For this reason programmes such as music, documentaries and formal education are not eligible for credit loadings.
– lt is not a satisfactory reason.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– Yes, I suppose it is.
– We can both have opinions. I think it is very satisfactory.
– I do not agree. 1 agree with the Minister that it is a matter of opinion. The opinion of the Board is wrong in my opinion.
– 1 do not know whose turn it is to speak. In relation to educational programmes para graph 84 is of interest, lt refers to the development of instructional television programmes and the co-operation of State Education Departments and the independent school systems in accordance with Government policy on educational television, lt reads:
The Commission’s policy is to present from all transmitters of the national service throughout the duration of each school day a comprehensive programme of educational television broadcasts designed and produced with the advice and assistance of the various education authorities.
This brings me back to the point that these programmes are non-competitive. They are transmitted during periods when the children may view them more readily, that is, during the morning and afternoon sessions. They are in quite a different field from other programmes.
– 1 refer to the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board at page 6, where reference is made lo stage 6 of the extension of television to smaller country centres. The report mentions that all except half a million Australians have a television service today but that those who have not are spread over about 85% of our total land area. I appreciate that this does create difficulties. We appreciate the decision of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to install additional transmitters at twenty-three additional centres in Queensland. Senator Maunsell has asked how much power will be allocated to the stations in these centres and how wide a range they will cover. If the transmissions cover only the immediate town area of a few square miles many very important Australians who produce a lot of our wealth will be without access to television. f appeal to the Postmaster-General to consider, when making this investigation, how much power can be given to stations in these centres. A few towns not far away from the transmitters will be left out entire))’. Surat, which is only 40 miles from Roma, is quite a nice, attractive town. Unless Roma gets a high powered station Surat will not be getting television. Aramac and Muttaburra, which are about 60 mites from Longreach, and Tambo, which is about 60 miles from Blackall, are not covered by the programme but deserve consideration. I wonder whether, now that some experiments have been done, the Postmaster-General could consider providing station properties with closed circuit television through their telephone services. I believe that this can be done without interfering with telephone services. If it can be done from local transmitters experiments are worthwhile. If the experiments are successful this could make a lot of difference to living conditions. I appeal to the PostmasterGeneral to install stations that have enough power to cover a reasonable area around towns so that they can also have translators such as mining companies have, which could be run by local authorities or other interested groups to provide little communities with television services from central stations.
Quilpie is a very isolated town of about 1,000 people, about 150 miles from Charleville and a bit more from Cunnamulla. These two latter places will have the nearest stations to Quilpie under the present programme. Consideration should be given to this area in the not too distant future. In a question which I directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General either yesterday or today I asked for consideration of an extension of television facilities to the Thursday Island-Bamaga-Weipa area, where there are. about 7,000 or 8,000 people now, I believe, within an area of about 100 miles. They deserve the facility of television. I commend the Postmaster-General on the start of stage 6 and ask him to expedite the programme as rauch as he possibly can, giving consideration to any possible means of extending the range of these transmitters beyond immediate town areas to cover station properties and farming properties where these exist, to give television reception to as many people as possible.
Senator WILKINSON (Western Australia) [5.30) - I refer again to Division 870. When I spoke previously I commented on the proposed expenditure of $229m under the Post and Telegraph Act. In view of the debate that has gone on since I should like to take that matter a little further. It does appear from what a number of honourable senators have said that they are concerned about the $229m and would like to know where it will be spent. In view of their remarks I want to mention that I was not talking about the $229m which is only part of the allocation. The Post Office will spend $876m about which we know nothing, apart from the amount that is mentioned in the document which is before us. It is because the S876m is such a large amount, of which we are now asked to authorise $229m, that I feel that there should be a complete report on how it is proposed to spend this amount in the coming year. I add these remarks so that the Minister will see that I am concerned about the total expenditure and not about the $229m only.
– I relate my remarks to Other Services as set out in the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department. I should like to refer to one matter which is rather in support of the remarks made today about the extension of telephone services to country areas. I mention particularly a matter that I raised with the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) earlier this year concerning a request that I had put to him on behalf of the Snowy River Shire Council for remote rural communities to be given the benefit of local telephone charges for calls to their nearest business centre. The case in point related to local call access between Jindabyne South and Cooma. The Postmaster-General, in refusing the request, explained in his reply to me that under the extended local service area scheme it was arranged, wherever practicable, that local access between exchanges up to 20 miles apart would be available where there was an established community of interest. He went on to say that this distance was not an inflexible one and that in some instances local call charges applied over somewhat greater distances in the more sparsely settled areas. The distance between Cooma and Jindabyne South is a mere 39 miles.
The new town of Jindabyne was created as a result of the activities going on in the area in connection with the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. There is a great community of interest between Jindabyne and Cooma. Jindabyne is now the gateway to the snowfields in the southern portion of New South Wales and Cooma is the principal area of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. The access road between these towns is excellent. Because of the increase in population in the area because of the arrival of tourists in the snow season I suggest that the limit of 20 miles should specifically be extended in this case. As the Postmaster-General has said, the rule is not inflexible. I plead with the PostmasterGeneral to give further consideration to the situation in this area. As I have said, the Snowy River Shire Council has been in touch with me on the matter and, in addition, 1 have received a number of letters from local residents. The Australian Labor Party candidate for the area, Mr Fraser, likewise has received a number of letters which he has directed to me. Because of the great community of interest that exists between Jindabyne and Cooma and because of the influx of tourists for a large part of the year I specifically request the Postmaster-General to review the decision which has been arrived at in this case.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.34] - Senator Lawrie, in referring to television for country areas, mentioned some areas additional to the thirty-eight mentioned in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. This is a matter for future consideration. 1 understand that he is referring to areas such as Tambo and Quilpie. There are difficulties in a country the size of Australia, with its great areas and sparse population, and. we have to be practical about it, because of the high costs. I think these factors are well recognised in the report because it states at page 17:
The low population density in theareas concerned would make it economically impracticable to provide high power stations in such places. The only acceptable solution is therefore to provide transmitters to serve the small centres where most of the population is concentrated. Outside these centres it is not anticipated that the sparse, widely scattered population will receive a service. The extent of this problem is illustrated by the fact thatthe thirty-eight stations are expected to serve only about 110.000 people.
That is the point which the honourable senator was discussing. Paragraph 57 of the report is pertinent to the questions which were asked by Senator Lawrie and Senator Maunsell concerning the problems of people in these areas. That paragraph refers to a statement made by the PostmasterGeneral in these terms:
In listing the above areas I should emphasise that it should nol be concluded that other centres will not in due course be provided wilh service. The Board will continue its examination of the ways and means by which service may be provided to other remote areas and, indeed, to those located relatively close to existing stations but where reception is not good. I should again point out however that the problems involved in further extending the service are not easy to solve as will be evident from the fact that although the Government has now authorised expenditure of $5m for the new stations, the additional people to be served will probably not exceed 110,000.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $63,935,000.
Proposed provision. $5,901,600.
-I propose to raise a number of matters. 1 begin by referring to Division 330 and refer specificallyto Commonwealth Hostels Ltd - Contribution towards cost of operating migrant hostels. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) in this chamber, will be well aware that this is one of the subjects in respect to which the Department of Immigration sometimes has to bear criticism for limitations within other departments that work with it.I mention, as it lead in, question 1418 to which I received an answer from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). I had sought information about the functions of the new welfare officers who have been allocated to Commonwealth hostels.
From time to time, as the Minister knows, I make it a practice, with the concurrence of the Minister for Immigration, in the Sydney metropolitan area to make spot checks on migrants in Commonwealth hostels. I have always been aware, as I have mentioned before, of the need to have available competent interpreters in places where there are young married mothers with young babies who might be ill. 1 had asked the Minister about the linguistic ability of the welfare officers who had been appointed andI was informed that a host of languages were spoken by the welfare officers and other members of the staff. I think Senator Cavanagh will agree with me whenI say that in Australia we do not give enough recognition to the status of interpreters. The procedure at some of the migrant hostels if the welfare officers do not know the language is to call in one of the girls in the office or a male operative to conduct the interrogation. I think a similar analogy can be drawn between this situation and a situation in industry of calling in a fitter’s assistant who has a boiler attendant’s ticket or a crane driver’s ticket to spend 6 hours on those duties. Senator Cavanagh will agree with me that these men usually find when they come back to their old job that somebody else has been upgraded to do their basic duties. I apply that analogy to this situation. I am certain that a girl who is taken away from her office job to conduct an interrogation will get a little annoyed. The Minister, who is fairly well travelled, knows that in West Germany a group of international interpreters performs these duties. These interpreters are fairly well paid. I ant nol suggesting that we want many interpreters, but I do think that we should have some.
I am not blaming the Department completely, but I believe that greater supervision should be conducted of the money poured into Commonwealth hostels. 1 believe that any welfare officers who are appointed should be competent linguists. Whenever I visit these hostels I walk into the dining room or some other section and ask the migrants present whether they have any complaints. I suppose it is an Army type of approach in that they may think that a visiting senator is the orderly officer of the day. But these people do speak up for themselves. They may say that the sandwich fillings are not to their liking or something like that, lt is to the credit of Mr Lawson and his officers that any complaints are remedied. But the point I am making is that if competent interpreters were visiting these hostels the conditions and relations could be improved and complaints detected earlier. I wish that Senator Poyser was present in the chamber. I know that he would agree with me that considerable progress has been made in this field. 1 offer this criticism in a constructive vein.
The next mailer 1 wish to raise concerns workers’ compensation, lt is a very important matter. 1 have been prompted to raise it by prominent people in the trade union movement. The Minister will recall that I have frequently drawn attention to the fact that some States arc lagging behind others in regard to legislation concerning the making of compensation payments overseas to dependants of migrants who are injured in Australia. [ know that in some States - I think they include New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland - the legislation is nor as watertight as it should be. In some instances there is an element of doubt as to whether, say, the wife in Athens of a Greek foundry worker in Australia is entitled to receive a dependant’s compensation allowance.
Lengthy submissions were forwarded to me through the Minister for immigration by the Department of Labour and National Service to the effect that sonic States had inferior legislation to others, lt is true that some insurance companies do the right thing by the workers. I believe that a couple of legal challenges are under way, but I want these compensation rights to be watertight. I think the Australian Workers Union has challenged the matter in New South Wales. I have spoken on this matter to Mr John Egerton, the President of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, MiLaurie Short, the Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, Mr Charlie Fitzgibbons. Federal Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, and Mr Charlie Oliver, the Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the AWU. These people have a wide knowledge of all aspects of trade unionism. They are all perturbed about the present situation. I would like to know whether the Minister has called a meeting of the State Ministers for Labour and Industry to see whether he can force those States which are lagging behind to speed up their legislation in order to clear up once and for all this uncertainty and ambiguity in compensation coverage.
The third matter I wish to refer to stems from a letter that the Minister for Immigration wrote to me on 29th August, lt is a matter which has been featured on the front page of. ‘La Fiamma’ in Sydney and other prominent foreign language newspapers. I refer to the unfortunate position of an immigrant who migrated to Australia in say the 1950s, and lived a lonely life contracted an incurable mental illness and desires to go back to his homeland. I know it may be argued in some cases that he should have become naturalised but my mind goes back to the discourse between Senator Cavanagh and Senator McManus about the moral obligations we have in connection with the offspring of Australian soldiers in Japan. In the eyes of the world we are regarded as a rich nation. We are reasonably affluent. In the last paragraph of his letter the Minister for Immigration said:
Australia has not concluded a formal agreement wilh any continental European country to meet the situations you have described.
The Minister was referring to my request for the repatriation of migrants who have incurable illnesses. I feel that our economy is such that we can afford to make such an agreement. I know that we would be up for more than we would get back. Although we will probably incur some expenditure, 1 sincerely believe that there are moral reasons why we should do so.
The Minister will probably agree with me when I say that the Commonwealth is regarded as the pace-setter for the States. I wish to raise a matter concerning two Scandinavian migrants - one Danish and the other Norwegian - who are members of the maritime industry and are engaged in permanent shore jobs. Their wives are in the unfortunate position of not being able to bear children so they sought to adopt children. It was found that arrangements could be made 6 months quicker in Queensland than in New South Wales. There is no reason why this should be the situation. We should adopt the practice followed in the United States and provide greater consultation between the Commonwealth and State agencies. I believe .this matter should be given early attention.
Another fault I have to find with the present immigration policy is in regard to our intake of persons of non-white origin. This is a ticklish subject. Over the years we have developed a more bi-partisan attitude. Senator Cavanagh was my colleague at the last citizenship convention and without wishing to appear boastful, I think that on that occasion we adopted a reasonable attitude towards immigration. I know that our attitude was shared by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and the Leader of my Party, Mr Whitlam.
I think the Minister is a little premature in his actions in regard to Mr Abdul Razak Nur, who is a resident of the Australian Capital Territory. Mr Nur is highly regarded by members of the Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union of Australia and other people in the Australian Capital Territory. 1 know that the Minister has under consideration the question of whether Mr Nur, who is on the verge of marrying an Australian girl, should be permitted to become a permanent of our work force. The Minister has received representations other than my own in this regard. I have in front of me a letter from a resident of Canberra, who states that the Department of Immigration has extended Mr Nur’s residence permit to the first week in December, but that it has also requested him to produce a ship or airline ticket by Thursday of this week. This is different from the usual case of students who come here to obtain certain technical know-how. I do not say that in any patronising vein. Mr Nur> who is a journeyman in the trade he is following, has acquired additional skills in particular forms of central heating and air conditioning. The Minister may recall the case of a metallurgist whom the Electricity Commission of New South Wales claimed had certain skills that he could use in Australia but not in his homeland of India. This case is in the same category. On occasions the Minister has been reasonably flexible in the decisions he has made. I appreciate that there is a general feeling that one has to watch the reefs or one will run aground. But I. do put to the Minister that it is a little premature to tell this person to get his airline ticket whilst representations are still being made.
Two weeks ago I read in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ about an interview conducted with the Minister for Immigration concerning the explosive position in Fiji. It is inevitable that there will be certain racial tension in that country, lt is not a matter of tension between the whites and the coloureds; it is a matter of tension between the non-European groups. I believe that we may have to assist in easing the situation in Fiji. I remind the Minister that clemency was granted to some people from Ceylon. Senator Wheeldon played a big part in this matter. I appreciate that it was granted because they were of Portuguese origin and therefore met our standard of being of Anglo-Saxon or other European origin. But 1 believe that we may have to go a step further in order to ease the situation in Fiji.
Some weeks ago 1 raised an interesting matter with the Minister about the case of Roman Hainger. I received an acknowledgement dated 1 st September. J am awaiting a reply. The case is well known to the Minister’s advisers. This man was a worker on the Snowy Mountains scheme. He and other workers, who had about 4 years 9 months service, followed their employers, Canadian and American firms, to British Columbia in Canada. They wish to return to Australia. Will they be given credit for their previous period of employment in Australia in qualifying for Australian citizenship? The Minister knows that I raised four specific questions on naturalisation procedures. J hope 1 obtain an answer before Parliament goes into recess. Another delayed matter I wish to raise is the case of a 19-year old Australian woman who married a South African. The South African Supreme Court issued an order over the custody of her 8-month old child. There is some element of doubt as to whether she has retained her Australian citizenship. The matter could have shades of the case involving people of Irish origin. This matter was reported in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ of Friday, 22nd August. Within 3 days I fired a question at the Minister. I hope I will get an answer. The matter has aroused some interest. One or two female radio commentators have asked me when I was expecting an answer. Apparently the case has aroused the interest of the women. I think it merits an early answer.
The Minister was kind enough to give me a lengthy statement about the increased intake of Yugoslav migrants. The 2-page document was well set out. In other circles we are hammering the point about overcentralisation of government affairs. I am sure the Minister’s advisers would know full well that I am not satisfied with the reasons given for the centralisation of government business in Belgrade. I cannot see any reason why district officers could not be established in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and places like that. Australia needs migrants, but intending migrants have to make a 20-hour train journey to visit our office in Belgrade if they come from Slovenia. I think that is too long a trip. In conclusion, perhaps the Minister could explain why we do not decentralise and have offices in the provinces of Croatia and Slovenia, without centralising them in Serbia.
– I would - like to discuss in a preliminary way the increase in salaries and payments in the nature of salary under the heading ‘Administrative’. Last year the expenditure was $4,900,000. The appropriation for this year is $5,800,000. The administrative expenses last year were $5,200,000. This year the appropriation is $5,600,000. There has been a similar increase in relation to ‘Other Services’. In relation to embarkation and passage costs, the expenditure last year was $41 m. This year the appropriation is $40m. The figures I mentioned are round figures. 1 want to compare those figures with the number of arrivals. As most honourable senators will know from public statements, a target of 160,000 was fixed. That figure included both assisted and non-assisted migrants. The total number of arrivals was 175,000. I believe that is the highest intake so far. The target for 1969-70, as announced, will be along lines to match this number. If conditions in Australia and abroad in the ensuing 12 months are much the same as they are now, we may well exceed the target of 1 75,000 to be met. Indeed, it could be exceeded considerably.
Over the past year a considerable number of extra migrants have arrived. We can expect that more will continue to arrive in the year that is ahead, based on figures that seem to run in an area of great similarity in terms of both administration and of expenses. Whether a migrant is assisted or non-assisted, he plays some part in each item of administrative expenses. With an increased number of migrants, it stands to reason that a greater appropriation will be required. We expect a greater number for the ensuing year. Therefore the appropriation should increase. Perhaps the Minister, in reply, might care to elaborate a little on this rather interesting arrangement of figures set out in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1). Last year the figure was 175,000. Next year it will be more. That involves a great deal more funds, shipping space, aircraft space, offices in some twenty or more source countries, and all the segments of administration, movement, accommodation, and the rest. A quick reflection on this might show that the total might well be spread out over a couple of financial years or more. If the Department pays on departures, it may well be that amounts paid in one year refer to arrivals in another year. I would be interested to have some comment from the Minister on this section of the Department of Immigration estimates.
Having said that, I intend now to make an observation or two on the migration programme generally. Australia stands to gain a great deal from the total migration programme and from the increased tempo of migration. The modern migrant is quite different from his counterpart of some 20 years ago when the migration movement, as we know it in Australia, began. No longer are the great percentage of migrants refugees and needy people as we knew them in past days. The greater proportion of today’s migrants are part of the world of sophistication. It is true that they may start from a very small beginning and that they may have considerable difficulty in assimilating, but the opportunities that exist today are greater than they were before. The standards of living in Australia and throughout the world are higher than they were before. The migrant is familiar with this, and he is in a much better position to take advantage of the higher standards of living. With the developing facilities in the migration programme in Australia he is able to embark upon what I would call a greater degree of international movement. A modern migration programme must take into account necessary degrees of flexibility and must allow for much greater movement internationally. In the light of our proclaimed need for migrants and in the light of the proclaimed advantages that we receive from the programme, I wonder if the appropriation is sufficient.
I wish to refer now to the Good Neighbour Councils and to the increase from $240,000 spent last year to the appropriation of $283,000 this year. I wish to refer also to the grants to community agencies involved in integration activities. Last year the expenditure was $47,000. This year the appropriation is $90,000. Good Neighbour Councils and the community organisations play a much larger part in the total wellbeing of the migration programme than we are ready to admit We may not be aware of the importance of the role that they play. The Good Neighbour Councils are well known to all honourable senators. Indeed, their growth throughout Australia has been a remarkable achievement. Their contact workers, their officers and their voluntary helpers have put in many millions of manhours over a period of years in the interests of integrating the migrant into the Australian community. I think I am right when I say that the good neighbour movement and the migration programme have to be flexible so that they can meet the needs of the modern migrant.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was dealing with the estimates for the Department of Immigration. I had made particular reference to Division 330. 1 had reached the point where I had made some reference to item 03 of subdivision 3 - Good Neighbour Councils - and Item 06 of the same subdivision - Grants to community agencies involved in integration activities. 1 had been spending a moment or two on the process of integration. The word ‘integration’ is an overworked one, but the process is one in which various instrumentalities of government are involved so far as the Department of Immigration is concerned.
Another matter which interested me was item 08 of subdivision 2 - Education of Migrants in the English Language. The appropriation for this item last year was just over $lm. There has been a drop in the amount sought for this year to just under $lm. The figure is not significant except that, in the light of the need for integration, and in the light of the problems which a lack of knowledge of the English language poses, I would be interested to have some information from the Minister concerning this trend in due course.
I want to devote a few minutes to saying something about a section of the integration part of immigration which I think is important. [ refer to the important aspect of integration that is involved in the recognition of professional qualifications and trade skills. Perhaps the recognition of professional qualifications is the one which is more important at the moment. This does not mean that the recognition of trade skills is not important. The important thing about the recognition of trade skills is that there are more ways in which this recognition can take place, and I think more has been done to recognise them.
The recognition of professional qualifications is an area of immigration activity which is posing some difficulties not only for migrants but. also for those who administer the immigration programme not only in Australia but also at the selection offices in the source countries. I think it goes without saying that we need more skilled migrants and that we need more professional migrants in Australia, and that we need to recognise their professional qualifications. This is related to a comment which I made right at the beginning of my remarks before the sitting was suspended when I said that the immigration programme has changed a great deal since it was introduced some 20 years ago.
That there has always been a recognition of the need for the recognition of professional qualifications was first borne out, I think, in the early 1950s when a mission went lo Europe to examine training methods of European tradesmen and professional people, lt went to only a few selected countries, and its terms of reference were fairly clearly defined. I think it was called the Eltham mission. As a result of the work that: it carried out, many migrants were able to have their particular qualifications’ recognised.
Last year a mission known as the Tripartite Mission went to Europe. This mission covered more trades, more professions, and more countries. We need more people with specialised knowledge and specialised training, and this entails an increasing proportion of professional people. As our source countries are located mostly on the continent of Europe this means that some consideration must be given to the recognition of European or, shall I say, nonBritish qualifications. A committee known as the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications was set up. Honourable senators will remember that the Minister repre senting the Minister for Immigration (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) made some reference to this earlier in the year.
Side by side with this, there is in the Australian community a growing recognition of the seriousness of this problem and a genuine endeavour is being made to achieve a balance within our community. The professions themselves are aware that a problem exists, lt can be said quite simply that on the one hand there is a recognition that we need to preserve Australian standards but on the other hand we need to avoid wasteful failure to recognise qualifications that may be equal to our own. If the Minister has the time, I should like to have some progress reports, if this is possible, from this Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications. 1 am given to understand that the Committee has already been in touch with State registration boards, certain colleges and certain ‘ advanced education institutions. It would be my opinion that this Committee would take some time to work out its programme. I am sure that it would be right to say that it would bc unrealistic to expect the results of its work to be known quickly.
In the few minutes remaining I should like to refer to another matter which interests me on this question of integration of migrants into the Australian community, a subject which has to be taken up very realistically in the light of the number of new migrants and new settlers who are coming here and in the light of the increased numbers who are going to come. This goes beyond the matter of language integration. It goes rather into the area which 1 will call ‘cultural integration’. This again is an overworked phrase, but I cannot think of anything else that meets the situation with which I am dealing at the moment, lt has an effect on people’s attitude to the community, lt has an effect on the securing of employment by migrants. It may have an effect on their ability to move around, and it might limit their progress.
Language differences can be set out quite straight-forwardly but in cultural differences there is a greater degree of subtlety which creates some serious problems, lt is quite straightforward to talk in scientific or professional terms in connection with certain clearly defined guidelines, but where concepts of thought require detailed explanation, the area of communication is considerably more difficult. So often in the world of immigration some words mean so many different things. Sometimes circumstances make for cultural difficulties. Sometimes they arise from relationships between a migrant and an Australian or a migrant and a superior officer. The attitudes are different on the continent of Europe from what they are in Australia. Attitudes may reveal different ethnic origins. I emphasise that these attitudes are not in any way to be criticised because they arise from circumstances that apply on the continent of Europe and elsewhere and are circumstances which the average Australian finds it difficult to appreciate. There are various reasons for these differences.
After all, in the last two decades we in Australia have enjoyed a set of circumstances in which we have been able to move around in comparative independence whereas so many of our migrants have come from overcrowded communities and, in the struggle to get to the top, may have developed a different kind of outlook to the average Australian.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I refer to items 01, 02 and 05 of subdivision 3 of Division 330. I refer in particular to the accommodation of migrants in hostels in Australia. I should like from the Minister some information relating to the development of the construction of flats or the purchase of flats for the housing of migrants when they come to this country. .
– I explained that when we were dealing with the estimates for the Department of Housing.
– I cannot find from a perusal of the debates on the estimates for the Department of Housing any figures relating to expenditure on these items in the coming year. I am also concerned at the fact that the accommodation available for migrants in the city of Geelong is still the igloo type hut in which we have been housing migrants for many years. For a number of months now representations have been made by the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Manufactures in that city seeking the provision of flat type of accommodation for these people. At one stage, Geelong had the highest number of new arrivals in proportion to its population of any city in Australia. We might still be in that position. At one time 66% of the employees of the International Harvester Co. of Australia Pty Ltd in that city were new arrivals to this country. The future development in the area will be such that many more new arrivals will come to take up employment in the area. We are concerned about the type of accommodation that will be made available for migrants. We are hoping that the igloo type of accommodation that now exists will be replaced by the flat type of accommodation that the Government, through the Department of Housing, has developed in some areas. We are concerned to think that up to this stage there has been no response from any department to «the overtures by the people of Geelong for the establishment of such flats.
I refer now to the appropriation for the overseas service in Division 332. On the occasion of the discussion of the 1967-68 estimates we received a complete break-up, country by country, of the expenditures under this division. The Minister may recall that on that occasion I made some remarks about the cost of bringing a certain number of migrants from one country compared with the cost of bringing a certain number from another country. I was able to equate the per capita cost of bringing migrants from Greece with the relevant figure for Albania, by using the quarterly and yearly statistics issued by the Department of Immigration. I notice that in the last 2 years the appropriations for the overseas service have been given in bulk. This procedure gives no indication of how the money is expended country by country, lt is of tremendous importance to people who are interested in this matter to have a break-up such as that given in respect of the .1967-68 estimates. I have not been able to ascertain the break-up. I looked at the papers to see whether there had been any movement in the per capita cost of bringing migrants from various countries. But that information is not in the documents that we have before us, unless it is in some other section or in an appendix that I have not been able to find. I would like to know the reason why the break-up has not been included as it was in respect of the 1967-68 estimates.
[8.13] - t have a number of answers to give. I. will begin by answering Senator Mulvihill, who spoke first. He spoke on a variety of subjects. One of them was the contribution paid to Commonwealth Hostels Ltd under Division 330. Commonwealth Hostels Ltd is responsible to the Minister for Labour and National Service for the operation of migrant hostels. Interpreters and welfare officers in those hostels are employees of the company. So I will refer the suggestion made by the honourable senator to the Minister for Labour and National Service, because these people actually come under his jurisdiction.
Senator Mulvihill referred to Scandinavian migrants and the adoption of children. The best thing I can tell him is that I will suggest to the Minister for Immigration that this subject be taken up with the State Ministers. The honourable senator also spoke about workers compensation and referred to New South Wales, Western. Australia and Queensland. He expressed the opinion that the law was not as watertight as it might be. I reply that both the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Labour and National Service are aware of certain difficulties regarding compensation for dependants resident in foreign countries of migrant workers injured in Australia. The matter has been raised with the States in whose legislative provisions these difficulties exist. It has been raised on a number of occasions. It is also proposed to discuss the whole subject at the next meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Immigration.
Senator Mulvihill spoke about agreements with overseas countries and the repatriation of mental cases. If he could advise the Minister for Immigration of the individual cases concerned, I think that would be the best thing to do. I assure him that I will ask the Minister to consider this matter. I think we all would agree that both the Minister and the Department deal most sympathetically with repatriation cases when repatriation is in the best interests of the individuals concerned. The honourable senator also spoke of the decentralisa tion of Australia’s migration activities in Yugoslavia. I think he referred to overcrowding. The work of the Department of Immigration will be decentralised as soon as accommodation difficulties can be overcome. I think that is a point that the honourable senator really accepted himself, but he wanted some further comment on the matter.
Senator Davidson pointed out that the cost of assisted migration has decreased, whereas the programme has increased in 1969-70 as compared with 1968-69. This has to be explained a little. The financial provisions for embarkation and passage costs in Division 330 show a decrease of $593,859 on the expenditure in 1968-69, although the assisted passage programme for 1969-70 is some 600 greater than the intake in 1968-69. This situation arises because the provision in the estimates is based on the programme or intake for the new financial year whereas expenditure for assisted programmes in 1968-69 is based on departures from overseas countries for which accounts were received from carrier companies. Movements funded in 1969-70 total 119,000, compared with 122,710 paid for in 1968-69. Thus, some migrants who were paid for in 1967-68 would be included in the 1968-69 intake figures and some departures paid for in 1968-69 will be included in the 1969-70 intake. This is due to some migrants being in transit at the end of the financial year. The procedure of basing the financial provision in the estimates on the migration programme or intake has been in operation for many years. At the time of the preparation of the annual estimates it is not possible to assess with any degree of accuracy the number of departures that will be paid for in the financial year. I think the honourable senator would appreciate that point.
Senator Davidson also asked about the progress of the committee on overseas professional qualifications. This matter has been raised on more than one occasion in this chamber in the form of questions directed to me as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and answers that the Minister has provided. The committee held its first meeting on 10th April and so far has met on four occasions. The fourth meeting was held on 28th August. The committee has already established contact with all professional associations, registration authorities, deans of faculties and principals of colleges of advanced education in Australia. At present it is engaged in assembling information obtained from those organisations. The committee commenced operating with the assistance of departmental officers temporarily seconded to it. It has now, however, selected as its executive director Mr Ramsay, an officer of the Department of Education and Science. Mr Ramsey commenced duty on 4th August. Action is in hand to make further appointments to positions of project officer. The people appointed to those positions will work with the committee. The headquarters of the committee have been established in Canberra and it is hoped that suitable premises will be available at an early date. The work of the committee will be long and complex. It can be expected, therefore, that it will be some time before specific results emerge from its activities.
Senator Davidson also asked about an item of expenditure on migrant education, which shows a decrease this year. One item of expenditure in 1968-69 was the purchase of stocks of language training records. A lesser amount will be expended on that item in 1969-70. Senator Poyser referred to flats for migrants. This matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing and was discussed when we were considering the proposed expenditure for that Department. He also asked about the listing of countries in connection with expenditure on salaries and payments in the nature of salaries, and on administrative expenses. Reference will be found to this matter in the document entitled ‘Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the Year ending 30 June 1970’, in table 12 at page 51. That matter has already been dealt with by the Committee.
– 1 wish to refer to the education of migrants in the English language. The amount proposed to be expended on this item, $990,000, is somewhat exceptional because it is less than the amount spent last year. I wish to refer to the problems of migrant education in inner suburban areas. 1 understand that there has been an inquiry which was instituted in New South
Wales, the full scope of the report of which has not yet been assessed. I refer specifically to problems which have been drawn to my attention in Victoria, in particular in the area of Carlton which has been a developing migrant area. The predominant sector of the community consists of people who have come from overseas, particularly from Italy. There are some from Greece and in recent times an increasing number have come from other areas. The position is that most of the schools in the area, both primary and secondary, are attended by pupils who have an inadequate ability in the English language. This has been taken up by groups of interested people in the area. I refer in particular to a group known as the Carlton Association which is concerned to preserve as much as it can of certain cultural features of the area as it is at the moment and to promote a respect amongst the inhabitants of the area for the cultural traditions which have been developed over a long period. The Association is concerned because it sees in this area inadequate schooling facilities and lack of the facilities which they need.
I will not elaborate on all of them, because although the Association has carried out an inquiry into the matter it likewise has not fully assessed the results of the survey. But it points to the lack of school teachers and the lack of facilities for teaching migrants the English language. It points to the fact that the children in the area have parents who, in many cases, are unable to speak English, and English, therefore, is not the language spoken in the home. The Association also points to the inadequate facilities of the Education Department in the State in the sense that, 1 think, there is only one school officer from the Education Department who is available. The tendency overall is for the teachers and for those who assist in various ways to work on the lowest common denominator basis, so that if there are persons in the schools who can speak English well they are not given any opportunity for advancement because the whole teaching schedule is related and directed to those who ure the least versed in English. I know that the general feeling of people who have interested themselves in this matter is that this is a field for very generous Federal assistance whether it be to the State Education Department or by direct assistance by the Department of Immigration in the exercise of the immigration power and the responsibility which that power permits the Commonwealth to exercise. I will be interested to hear, in elaboration of the points I have mentioned, concerning the projects that the Department of Immigration has in mind and to what extent the amount which is set aside for the ensuing year is designed to promote these activities, particularly in relation to assistance to the Victorian Education Department if it seeks such assistance to promote adequate teaching facilities.
– 1 want to refer to Division 330 because I am not quite certain of the position and I hope the Minister will enlighten me as to the particular area of my inquiry.
– You are setting her a great task, are you not?
– It is a reasonable task and 1 think the Minister can handle it quite well without assistance. The matter that concerns me very much is that a migrant in this country can come under considerable pressure from various directions. The case that I want to outline is that of a migrant who has had dealings with a hire purchase firm and because of a lack of knowledge, comes under the full pressure of repossession through inability to understand the various notices and literature which are sent to him in connection with the hire purchase debt. I notice that it is proposed to expend some $90,000 on grants to community agencies involved in integration activities and I am hoping that within this provision there is scope for migrants to appeal to other people, such as social workers or agencies. I would like quickly to refer to the case of a Mr Pantarotas of Brisbane who had a contract with Consumer Credit Corporation Pty Ltd. He received a letter which he did not understand and which he referred to someone else to decipher. It reads in part: Re: Account C.1337 Goods: Refrig Balance Outstanding $10.00
Your goods will be repossessed on Friday.
Please remove all foodstuffs from your refrigerator.
The letter placed this migrant in a new country, as honourable senators will understand, in a considerable state of panic. He saw a friend of his and the friend wrote on his behalf to Consumer Credit Corporation. This letter read in part: 1 asked my Secretary to contact your Mrs Kolt of the Collection Department, in relation to this account and she was advised that the account of the 23rd April, 1969, for $10.00 has been found to be incorrect and that Mr Pantarotas now owes $1.00.
To make a long story short, the company had made a mistake and had put this migrant into a state of confusion. The end result was that he owed 51, so the friend decided that he would pay the $1. He sent the $1 to Consumer Credit Corporation and Consumer Credit Corporation refused it in a letter saying:
Your letter of 9th May, 1969, and enclosed $1.00 is acknowledged.
This payment is returned herewith as we have previously advised that the matter concerns only Mr Pantarotas and this company.
This is an unjust way for a company to deal with a migrant. It may be an isolated case, but the point I wish to drive home is that a migrant should have access and should have knowledge of the access to a person or department who will act for him to gain quick redress in a matter of this kind.
– Why can he not go to you, for example?
– He came to me in this case. The point is that he should not have to come to me in this matter.
– You will not charge him, but if he went to Senator Greenwood he would be charged.
– That is possible. A migrant is in a strange situation. He finds it hard to integrate, especially if he has no knowledge of the language. Honourable senators should appreciate that a first generation migrant has considerable difficulties. When a case arises such as I have mentioned it is necessary that a migrant have access to someone who speaks his own language within the Department, or in an agency. He should be able to say to that person: ‘I have received this letter. Will you take it up for me within the Department and take steps to settle this matter?’ A migrant needs assistance because he does not have the means or the knowledge properly to retaliate. Had this letter come to me as an ordinary citizen I would have approached a State Government authority and said: ‘Look. I have this letter from this consumer credit corporation. This firm does not appreciate the proper ethics of money lending’.
Will the Minister advise me just how the sum of $90,000 is to be expended? Is it a provision for social workers within communities? Does it provide for people strategically placed within new migrant communities so that they can be approached by a person in the same situation as Mr Pantarotas?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.32] -Senator Greenwood referred to the education of migrants. In saying that I had already referred to an appropriation I did not intend to inhibit the honourable senator in raising any queries. The point was that I thought we were on different wavelengths. The appropriation is for adult education and the honourable senator was referring to the education of children. An inquiry has been carried out in New South Wales with the co-operation of the State education authorities and it is expected that the results of the survey will be available shortly. This is the point about which the honourable senator was concerned. To return to the actual appropriation, the education of migrants in the English language is carried out free of charge through the migrant education scheme for non-English speaking migrants above school age to help them to overcome difficulties they experience in personal affairs and any difficulties with fellow workers. This is done to expedite their integration into the Australian community. The scheme provides for class instruction in English on ships and at the Bonegilla Migrant Centre, factories and in metropolitan and rural areas where migrants have congregated. Persons unable to attend the classes can enrol for correspondence lessons. In addition, radio lessons are broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in co-operation with the Commonwealth Office of Education.
Detailed arrangements for class and correspondence tuition are carried out by State education departments. The Commonwealth Office of Education acts as technical adviser both to the State departments of education and the Department of Immigration, which is responsible for the oversight of the scheme. There is a total enrolment of approximately 22,000 students in classes and correspondence and radio courses. The provision of $990,000 covers reimbursement of State departments of education, costs of shipboard education, the preparation and printing of textbooks, and the supply of educational aids. It was at this point that I mentioned that there had been the added cost of the stock of language training records.
Senator Georges referred to grants to agencies involved in integration activities. The honourable senator referred to an individual case, but this is not the place to deal with it. I think he should take such cases to the Minister for Immigration. The main purpose of the appropriation of $90,000 is to enable community agencies to employ trained social workers to handle personal and family problems of migrants. I am quite certain that this is one of the great works being done throughout the community by welfare officers at State branches of the department who assist newly arrived migrants who have problems of language and of settling in with their families. This is the very point of the grants, to cover the kind of work to which the honourable senator was referring.
– I welcome the reference by the Minister to the impending meeting of the Commonwealth with State authorities to obtain uniformity of compensation coverage. Perhaps the Minister could hazard a guess as to when the State Ministers for Labour and Industry will convene on this important subject. The advisers to the Minister might recall an immigration seminar at Wollongong sponsored some weeks ago by the Workers Education Association and the Australian Interpreters Association. It was attended by a senior officer who has been in Australia for a few years. He came from Sheffield, England. He very capably fielded some of the questions that were raised. I agree with what Senator Davidson has said on this subject. At that seminar Mr John Stankey, an economics lecturer at Wollongong, submitted statistics in respect of the population of Wollongong between 1961 and 1966. One of the Immigration officers took a copy of those statistics. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate that table in Hansard. 1 wish to pay a tribute to the officers in the Central Office in Canberra of the Department of Immigration. Senator McClelland would agree with me that Mr Hitchens has a very dedicated staff in Sydney. It is with some trepidation that I pay homage to these officers because a problem arises that senators are often confronted with in Sydney. Senator McClelland will appreciate this because he knows some of the people concerned. In Sydney we are supporters of the Rugby League code of football and we find that we are making representations on behalf of soccer clubs to expedite the migration of players from overseas. We deal in Central Office with people who are supporters of Australian Rules football and give it 100% support. That is the finest tribute I can pay to the officers.
I wish to raise now a matter that I have raised previously with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) concerning the criteria of acceptance of migrants. This concerns Marianne Faithful). As senators we may get requests from British or European families that could have an offspring in the same situation as Marianne Faithfull. How many convictions for drug addiction overseas are necessary before they are deemed unsuitable as permanent migrants? Senator Scott was not very clear on what constitutes a sufficient number and 1 would like further information on that matter.
Finally, I want to put the record straight. When we were dealing with the Citizenship Bill 1 instanced in good faith the case of a migrant named Thomas Sylvester of Girraween, New South Wales. I stated that he had been dismissed from his employment because he had lost time to attend to affairs associated with naturalisation. One of the difficulties was that the trade unions which normally cover the area - the shop assistants and the clothing trades organisations - did not have members working with the firm. I had a long discussion with the employer, Mr Morrissey, who informed me that Sylvester had been absent on twelve occasions before and after the naturalisation but the boy was paid for the time he was away from work. In addition he was furnished with a reference when he left the employment. Fundamentally it was a matter of difference of opinion on both sides.
Mr Morrissey assured me ; I accepted his assurance ; that all payments due had been made. The difficulty arose because the boy had rather long hair and that did not meet the requirements of the business. As I have said, Mr Morrissey suggested that the boy should have his hair cut but the boy took a different attitude. If is not for me to argue about hair. Some’ of us feel that we could do with a better growth of hair. At any rate, in fairness to Mr Morrissey of Segrave Pty Ltd let me say that there was no evidence that the naturalisation was a factor in the breaking of the contract of labour between Thomas Sylvester of Girraween and Segrave Pty Ltd. The rest of it is purely an industrial matter but I felt that the case should be ventilated. 1 am satisfied that the naturalisation was not a contributing factor to the cessation of Mr Sylvester’s employment, and ali employer obligations on industrial conditions were met in full.
There was sonic scoffing at the submissions made by Senator Georges. We all pay tribute - rightly so - to officers of the Department of Immigration, but if you look at these things through the eyes of the migrant you do find that someone suffers from one of the causes that I have mentioned. Perhaps because of the evils of the free enterprise system - I am not canvassing political ideologies - migrants do not always have the opportunity to see a senator. But when a matter is ventilated, such as was the case with Senator Georges today and myself last night in relation to the Lebanese community, and when the message ultimately gets through and action is taken, many migrants have a higher appreciation of the process of law in this country. I know that I speak for senior officers of the Australian Council of Trade Unions when I say that they will be very gratified if uniformity of compensation coverage is introduced. I leave it at that.
– May I go from the general to the particular. Can the Minister tell me to what agencies in Brisbane money is paid for the employment of social workers? How many social workers are available? In what communities do they work?
– T wish to refer very briefly to the education of migrants in the English language, in respect of which 1 earlier addressed a query to the Minister. I am grateful to the Minister for what she said about the field of adult migrant education, lt seems that a very comprehensive range of services is provided. I am concerned particularly to know what is being provided at present in schools in the way of education for migrant children. If, as I rather suspect is the case, little or very little is being done, what is proposed for the future? Does it depend upon the results of the New South Wales inquiry? If it does, is there any assurance that from the beginning of the school year in 1970 the Department will become seised of the problem with a view to meeting what, in local areas where the problem is experienced, is felt to be a very real problem requiring some drastic action? As I have said, it may be a matter of co-operation between the Commonwealth and State education departments, or a matter for the Department of Immigration to take positive initial action. However at this time when we are considering the amount of money which is being set aside for the current year, I stress that the need for action of this kind should-not be overlooked. This is a very real problem. It is sensed to be a problem by those who observe it. I hope the Minister can give me some information.
I refer to Senator Mulvihills remarks about the earlier comments by Senator Georges. Irrespective of what the Minister may say by way of answer to the query, I think there will be a very real problem if governmental agencies, even if they be the agencies of the Department of Immigration, are to be made available as a source to which migrants can go to have their problems of the character mentioned by Senator Georges resolved. If it has the effect that Senator Mulvihill suggested, there will grow a dependance upon the government instrumentality to provide all kinds of services. If possible, that should be avoided and some other alternative substituted.
I appreciate that Senator Georges raised this matter because it related to the appropriation for grants to community agencies to promote integration. I hope that whatever services are placed in the way of these people will be provided by the voluntary agencies. I do not doubt for a moment that the kind of problem Senator Georges mentioned is experienced by a lot of people, but I would have thought that migrants who have these problems would be able to go, not to a department or an agency which bears the imprint of government but to persons, be they in co-operative societies, be they in unions, be they in church groups or be they in other bodies which are set up, from whom they could get the information they need. But I suppose that expresses a broad philosophy. I think it is far more desirable for the matter to be handled in that way than for a department to be required to do it.
– Has the Minister any discretionary power to grant an assisted passage to an Australian who married an American ex-serviceman, went to the United States, is now divorced from him and desires to return to Australia as an Australian citizen but has no money for fares? Has the Minister any discretionary power to grant an assisted passage to the family of a citizen of Cyprus who has come to Australia and is endeavouring to have his family join him but has no money to pay their fares?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.47] - 1. suggest to Senator Poyser that both matters he raised should go to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) because these problems can be considered. 1 cannot at the moment give a detailed answer to his questions. Senator Greenwood referred to the education of migrant children. The results of the survey in New South Wales will affect largely what is to be done in the future to provide the best arrangement for assisting migrant children.
Regarding welfare officers in Brisbane to which Senator Georges directed his remarks, the only one I can tell him about is attached to the Department of Immigration. That officer is available to migrants. The overall Australian picture is that to date twenty-seven agencies have been approved to receive aid under the scheme. Of those agencies, fourteen have employed social workers and have received financial assistance. The recruitment of social workers under the scheme has been reasonably good and it is expected that an additional thirteen will be employed during the current financial year. I take the point raised by Senator Greenwood and Senator Georges concerning the feeling that people have of wanting to talk over their problems with someone who understands. From my own experience with a variety of organisations - I say this not as a Minister but as a person who has been associated with the Good Neighbour Council, the Girl Guide movement, the Country Women’s Association - I know that very real work is done in assisting migrants who have problems and who seek out members of those organisations. Indeed, I can assure honourable senators that migrants with problems do seek them out. I think the work that the organisations do is well recognised. Australians are giving very real assistance to new Australians. Senator Mulvihill referred to Marianne Faithfull. Miss Faithfull would have entered Australia as a visitor. There were no grounds for prohibiting her entry under the provisions of the Migration Act.
– I take it that the Minister will give me an assurance that in the next week or two I will get a ruling from the Minister for Immigration on this very important aspect of migrants who did not have 5 years’ residence here, were on the verge of seeking naturalisation, and by virtue of their employment went to work in North America and then came back. They would like to know whether they will get credit for all or part of their approximately 5 years residence when they make a fresh application for naturalisation. Many women’s organisations in Sydney and Miss Ann Deveson of station 2GB are interested in. the case that I mentioned in late August of a girl who married a South African national and has a problem in relation to custody and her own citizenship. These arc two matters on which there is a lot of interest in Sydney.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.51] - I shall have to place these matters before the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and see what reply I can get for the honourable senator. Naturally I cannot get it before discussion of these estimates is completed. Further in reply to Senator Greenwood let me say that the Commonwealth Department of Immigration does not do any work in relation to State education of children. State education officers in some areas, we believe, are engaged in special language teaching but the Commonwealth does not come into this.
– I refer to Division 330. When is there to be some sense in the Immigration Department in regard to Asiatic migrants? 1 refer to a case in which it took almost a year to get permission for a Hong Kong Chinese to come into Australia. I do not know whether or not it has been discussed but I want to put this case to the Minister. This man happened to be a person of considerable wealth but the Department’s policy is that this does not count, that possession of money does not mean that a person has any right to be a migrant. On the other hand I know that a Chinese cook apprentice was wanted for a cafe in Launceston and he was allowed to come into Australia for 3 years, at the end of which he would have the right to apply for permanent residence. Here is a man who can bring nothing to Australia except possibly some knowledge of Chinese cooking.
– That is something.
– It is something. I am very fond of Chinese cooking. If he is a good cook I am all for his being admitted. But how can we account for the stupidity of saying that because a man happens, say, to be a millionaire - and he was - because he happens to be a man of wealth he is not allowed into the country?
– That is not the reason.
– This is the reason given. 1 have it in writing if the honourable senator wants it. When this matter was taken up the immigration Department said that he could be allowed in only if he were able to conduct some business with export possibilities. Has the Department never heard that you can make money work? Has it never heard of economics? Has it never heard that we believe we should have overseas capital brought into Australia to take over industries? This man was not going to take over an industry but he was bringing in overseas capital.
– Now we have the guidelines.
– Now we have the guidelines we seem to be-
– More confused than ever.
– Exactly. I am glad that the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party is making my speech because we agree on this subject completely.
– In 3 weeks he will see the light.
– No, he will not.
– Senator Turnbull is entitled to address himself to the provision in the estimates.
– I want to know why the Department persists in this policy. Do not tell me that this is what it says in the book - that wealth alone does not mean anything and that one must be able to export.
– You have to be able to bring in a skill.
– He has financial skill, lt is time the honourable senator went back to school. Everyone knows that money can be made to work. The principle is the same as working in a kitchen. There is no difference. One is doing just as much for Australia by bringing in money and making it work in Australia. That is just as successful and just as good for the future of Australia as bringing in a cook.
– Do you know how he made his money?
– Yes. He is quite an honest man. He has been vetted and he is now in.
– Has he made a donation to party funds?
– Not yet. There might be a dispute as to which party he would want to contribute to. The point is that it took a year of fighting to get him in. This is absolute ignorance or stupidity - 1 do not mind which it is called - in regard to our immigration policy. I want to raise another matter which I will relate to the same Division in the estimates. I do not want to keep on repeating this argument as the proposed appropriation for each department comes up. I use the debate on the estimates of the Immigration Department as an opportunity. It is not the chief offender in this matter although it is not too bad. I refer to the public relations officers and Press officers employed by each department. The Department of Immigration employs twenty-seven Press officers. What do they do? When I asked this question specifically in regard to the Army I received a very long letter in reply from the Department of the Army. To save my going through this argument in regard to each department, if you, Mr Temporary Chairman, do not mind my using the Department of Immigration as an example, I will read this very long letter from the Department of the Army which obviously shows its guilt.
Order! I do not think I can allow you to refer to the Army and its Press officers.
– It means that I will have to rise in relation to each department.
These are the procedures of the Committee.
– I shall keep on referring to immigration publicity.
– The Department of Immigration did not buy 200 trucks and pay for them before they were delivered.
– No. The twentyseven Press officers in the Department of Immigration include some at overseas posts. Tell me what they can do. Suppose a man is in Rome. Is there a full time job for a Press officer in Rome, Athens or anywhere you like? The Department of Immigration is not the worst department. The Department of the Interior has sixty-nine. A lot of these are connected with the Press. The worst one is the Department of the Army which has twenty-three.
– 1 must rule on behalf of the Committee that under our procedures you must refer to the estimates that we are discussing.
– I refer to the fact that the Department of Immigration has twenty-seven Press officers. To me this is a gross waste of talent and a gross waste of expenditure. This is repeated in nearly every department to a lesser or greater degree.
– Where are the Press officers situated?
– This includes people at overseas posts. I do not know what overseas posts are involved, how many arc overseas and how many are in Australia. If we have a Press officer in Athens, is that a full time job? Parkinsons’s law would have to be stretched completely if he had to keep on as a full time job writing material for migrants to come to Australia. In raising this point I might get from the Minister an answer which will help me in regard to the estimates of other departments.
– 1 wish to refer specifically to the Entry, Citizenship and Travel Division. For this Division it is estimated that a staff of 456 officers will be required this year as against 442 who were employed last year. I ask whether any provision is made in the Department for an appeal against a decision which has been made on an application for entry. 1 refer specifically to a case similar to the one cited by Senator Turnbull. This man, Mr Choi, a resident of Hong Kong, has a son who has qualified as an engineer. He is a very capable young man who intends to take out Australian citizenship when the opportunity arises. He is very much sought after in the engineering trade. Mr Choi’s daughter is a qualified typist and stenographer and is also a very fluent linguist. He has also another daughter who is well trained.
Mr Choi applied for an entry permit to come to Australia in his own right. He is an importer and exporter, a man of substantial means, and yet he was refused a visa to come to Australia and to settle here. I cannot understand why such a judgment would be made by the Department. I mct Mr Choi when he came to Australia after his son had been injured in an accident. I had notified him of his son’s accident and informed him that his son was in the local hospital. I found him and his family to bc delightful people. I went to all lengths to see whether they could come to Australia, but after protracted negotiations I was told that he could not come to Australia because he would not be bringing with him any special skill. I am quite certain that this man- had much skill to offer through his own intelligence and that of his family. They are very fine people and, collectively, I believe that they would be equal to the Chinese cook who came here to make dim sims in a little back room of a cafe.
I believe that there should be some higher tribunal to which perhaps a senator could put a case or from which he could find out the reason why a man or a family of this character should be excluded. 1 should say that this was an arbitrary decision of some officer in the Department. Although this may be a case in which the man should be denied a right of entry under the regulations as they are interpreted, I think also that, as in many other cases, there should be some ministerial discretion or some onus of proof on the Department in ruling that a man is to be denied entry. We have brought enough stigma to our country through our bias because of the colour of a person’s skin.
– There is no such stigma.
– There is a stigma and the honourable senator is closing his eyes if he is not aware of it. Traditionally there has been a stigma on Australia because we have discriminated against people because of the colour of their skin. But we still do it.
– One famous gentleman -made a joke once about one wong not making a white.
– He must have been talking about the honourable senator because he is always wong. But let us get on with the issue that is before us at the moment I have referred to Mr Choi’s case because I feel that Senator Turnbull has raised a matter of some significance which is very- similar to this case. I felt much aggrieved and I still do over this incident because I believe that this family would have benefited Australia. He would have brought in capital and would have been re-united with his family’. His son, who is a very capable engineer, will become an Australian citizen. His daughter also is a trained stenographer. If Mr Choi were admitted the whole family unit could perhaps find a- life with a better future in Australia. If their qualifications were not sufficient, 1 cannot understand what yardstick the Department was using in assessing them. I should like to know from the Minis- ter whether there is an appeal against a decision in a case such as this.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.5] - Replying first to the last point mentioned by Senator O’Byrne, the case can always be reviewed by the Minister. My suggestion is that’ if the honourable senator wants an individual case to be considered he should take it to the Minister. Both Senator O’Byrne and Senator Turnbull spoke about persons not being admitted to Australia. It seemed from Senator Turnbull’s contribution that the only way in which one would be eligible to come to Australia was if one were a good cook.
I should like to mention examples of those- who may be admitted. They include persons with specialised technical skills for appointments for which local residents are not available; persons of high attainment iri the arts or sciences, or of prominent achievement in other ways; persons eligible to practise in professions in which they may ^ be readily absorbed; executives, technicians and other specialists who have spent substantial periods in Australia, for example, with the branches here of large Asian com panies, or who have qualifications or experience in positive demand here:; businessmen who, in their own countries, have been engaged in substantial international trading and who, if admitted, would be able to carry on trade with other countries which would be of significant value to Australia; persons who have been of particular and lasting help to Australia’s interests abroad in trade or in other ways; and persons who by former residence in Australia or by association with us have demonstrated an interest in or identification with Australia that should make their future residence here feasible.
Senator Turnbull spoke about twentyseven Press officers being employed by the Department of Immigration. He questioned the need for this number, asked whether their time was fully taken up and wanted to know what they did. I inform him that the promotional activities for immigration extend into twenty-five countries and immigration literature is written in seventeen languages. From this I think it will be understood that there is a great need within the Department for the work of Press officers or public relations officers who are sending information to Australia and also making information available to persons in other countries who are interested in coming to Australia.
– I have in my hand a letter from’ Mr G. Zangalas, but I do not want to deal with this subject in the particular. I agree that we should not treat cases by way of an individual approach’ at this time. I relate my remarks to Division 330 - Administrative - because they concern an attitude towards migrants. I shall read the first three paragraphs of the letter to arrive at my point. .The letter, which is directed to the Hon. Mr B. Snedden, Minister for Immigration, states: 1 have this day reapplied to the Immigration Department in Melbourne for naturalisation. My previous application, as you know, was rejected without reason. I have been residing in Australia continuously for 19 years. I have committed no offence that would legally and morally justify the denial of my right to citizenship. I have long ago met the requirements for citizenship as defined by the law, that is, residence, knowledge of the language and a general acquaintance with citizens’ rights and responsibilities.
I believe therefore the. rejection of my application was due to my left wing political and trade union activity, participation in campaigns for the rights and needs of migrants, involvement in the movement for democracy in Greece and membership in the Communist Party of Australia.
This belief has been substantiated by statements in the House of Representatives by yourself and your predecessor, that the policy of the Liberal Party Government is not to naturalise Communists or Communist sympathisers. 1 ask the Minister whether this is the attitude of the Government. I would like to know whether these .people are being refused naturalisation, even though they possess the necessary qualifications, because they are sympathetic to Left wing- activities, have participated in Left wing activities or are members of the Communist Party?
– ls Mr Zangalis a resident of Queensland or of some other State?
– I should imagine that he is a resident of Victoria because he states in his letter to the Minister for Immigration:
I am asking you, Sir, to guarantee me the opportunity to present these views to the- people by granting me naturalisation, and thereby allowing me to oppose your candidature in Bruce.
The electorate of Bruce is in- Victoria.
– Is . the honourable senator’s Victorian colleague not interested ‘ in bringing up the case?
– That is besides the point. Mr Zangalis is entitled to naturalisation. He feels so strongly about certain political issues in this country that he has decided to oppose the Minister for Immigration in his own electorate. Apparently this is the purpose of his’ application for naturalisation. I want to know why a person who has resided in Australia for 19 years is refused naturalisation. I saw the list of the names of some SOO people that, was supplied to Senator Cohen today in answer to a question concerning cases in which no reason is given for refusal of naturalisation applications. Is the Government denying Mr Zangalis the right to naturalisation because of his political’ views? If it is safe for him to live in Australia surely it is safe for him to live here as an Australian citizen. Indeed, I should imagine’ that It would be safer.
– Is. an international Communist free to take the oath of allegiance?
– The criterion should be whether he is prepared as an individual to take the oath of allegiance. It should not be anything else. I know many Communists who attend church on Sunday-
– If- he is a Communist he will not take the oath.
– In that case he cannot be naturalised.
– The honourable senator seems to know a lot about this.
– I may. There are quite a few such people in Australia and they are sincere in their approach. I do not think that we, as a democracy, have the. right to deny them full citizenship: If the Government will not grant the applications of persons for naturalisation because of certain political activities, it should be fair about the matter and tell them that they should go back to the country from which they came; or it should deport them. It should not accept their services, skills and taxes whilst at the same time refusing them naturalisation. I want a clear statement from the Minister as to the Government’s attitude.
– My remarks are directed along the same lines as those of Senator Georges and Senator Turnbull! It seems incredible to me that Senator Georges has not learned that citizenship of Australia is a privilege. If somebody who comes from another country is willing to state that he is a member of the Communist Party and is prepared to be recognised as such, I do not think that person is loyal to Australia and therefore he should not be given the privilege of Australian citizenship. I am absolutely in favour of refusing citizenship to a person who,’ having come to Australia and taken advantage of the opportunities available in this country that are not available in the country from which he came, is not prepared to be loyal to Australia. Senator Georges said that such a person should be granted citizenship because he is paying taxes. I do not agree. It is disgraceful that Senator Georges should ask us to grant citizenship to a man who is not loyal to Australia. This man would probably take the oath of allegiance. We know that Communists do not place much reliance on an oath and that they, will break one any time they want to. It is quite obvious that this man is not a loyal person. In order to get the benefits of citizenship he would say that he was loyal to Australia, but he would then let us down
– That is a ridiculous statement.
– 1 am sorry that you think so. If that is the attitude you have, it is a great pity you were allowed to come to this country.
– 1 rise on a point of order, Madam Temporary Chairman. X am not over-sensitive, but 1 think that before the honourable senator speaks in this manner she should get her facts correct. My parents’ came to Australia and worked and broke their backs in this country. I was bom in this country, lt is not the advantage that some honourable senators may think it is to be driven to this country by circumstances of war. Any first generation migrant family is tortured in this country. The honourable senator’s statement that I should not have come to this country is offensive. It is not true as 1 was born in Australia. I am proud of Australia. I owe subservience to no other country, which is more than can be said for the Government, 1 ask for a withdrawal.
– If the Chair asks me to withdraw, I will have to withdraw. I said it is a pity that Senator Georges was allowed to come to this country. I should have said that it is a pity- that be is allowed to live, in this country. If that is the objection he takes-
– I rise to speak on the point of order, Madam Temporary Chairman. Senator Georges asked for a withdrawal. Senator Buttfield said that if the. Chair asked her to withdraw her remarks she would. This is very similar to something that happened in this chamber the other day when a conditional withdrawal was not satisfactory. Because of the similarity of the two incidents, I ask: What is your ruling on this occasion. Madam Temporary Chairman?
– I understood Senator Buttfield to say that she would withdraw her remarks if she had to.
– If the Chair asked her to do so. Senator Keeffe said the same thing.
– I will withdraw the remark. I said that it is a pity that Senator Georges was allowed to come to this country. I will replace it by saying that it is a pity that he is allowed to be in this country if he has such opinions about people who are Communists.
– I rise on a point of order, Madam Temporary Chairman. I do not accept that as a withdrawal. I still think that the stand the honourable senator is taking is offensive. As a matter of fact, it is becoming more offensive as she proceeds. I demand an unqualified withdrawal.
– I rise to speak on the point of order. I submit that in response to your address to her, Madam Temporary Chairman, Senator Buttfield said that she would withdraw the statement she had made that it was a pity that Senator Georges bad been allowed to come to this country. In my submission that is as absolute a withdrawal as words can state. Senator Buttfield is entitled thereafter to continue what she has to say unless exception is taken to what she says hereafter. My respectful submission to you, Madam Temporary Chairman, is that there has been in unqualified terms as absolute a withdrawal as can be made.
– I rise to speak on the point of order.’ I agree with Senator Greenwood’s . remarks.’ But in her withdrawal Senator Buttfield substituted the words that it was a. pity that Senator Georges was allowed to remain in this country.
– To be in this country.
– Senator Georges then- asked for a withdrawal of that statement. Is it not offensive to say that it is a pity that a man who has been elected to this chamber is allowed to remain in Australia? Is that not more offensive than the previous remark? We on this side of the chamber .do not accept that anyone who is elected to the Senate should not have a right to remain in this country. I think that Senator Georges’ point of order should be upheld and that there should be an unqualified withdrawal of these remarks.
– I rise to speak on the point of order. It is terrible that such a thing should happen. Senator Georges was born in Australia. The remarks which were made were highly offensive. We should not allow this thing to get out of perspective. I am sure that on reflection Senator
Buttfield will agree that the remarks she made should be withdrawn. Even if she is not required to withdraw them under the Standing Orders, I submit that in view of the obvious error she has made - apart from any other consideration - she should apologise and withdraw her remarks so that the chamber can .continue with its business.
– 1 am quite willing to say that I was wrong in saying that Senator Georges should not be allowed to stay in this country. I think it is regrettable that an honourable senator in this chamber is allowed to petition for a migrant who admits that he is a member of the Communist Party and for that honourable senator to say that the migrant should be allowed to have the privilege of Australian citizenship. To me this is very regrettable. I pass on to deal with certain remarks made by Senator Turnbull about Australian Press representatives overseas. The honourable senator asked whether they had full time jobs in countries such as Italy. It seems to me that Senator Turnbull should realise that the essential need in Australia is for more good citizens. It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain good citizens from Europe, where there is prosperity. We need press representatives’ in those countries to take every opportunity that they can and to seize the opportunity to project our image.
– I raise a point of order. Is the honourable senator in order in making a speech on the question whether or not she should withdraw and apologise for an offensive remark to which an objection was taken?
Order! The honourable senator did withdraw.
– She withdrew in the first instance?.
Order! She withdrew. Then she made a second statement She withdrew the second remark.
– She did not withdraw it very graciously.
– I had moved on to the item about, which Senator Turnbull spoke. He referred to., the twenty-seven Press representatives, some of whom are overseas. I make the observation that it is increasingly difficult for us to obtain migrants from European countries. Many countries in Europe do not allow us to put advertisements for migrants in the newspapers. It is increasingly difficult to find opportunities to get the Australian image over in these countries. To my mind, it is extremely important that we should have full time Press representatives in those countries , to seize every opportunity to get the Australian image over and to try to encourage people to come to this country even if such efforts have to be made in the indirect way on which many of the overseas governments insist. We have to find opportunities to put over our image by way of films, television and radio. There are many tasks which certainly will occupy the full time of .Press representatives in many countries. I am in favour of using every means we can to bring migrants to this country. If it means having more Press representatives in Europe, certainly I arn in favour of having more there.
-r-A most unfortunate incident has occurred . in this chamber. I regret that, in a matter which touched the background of one of our fellow senators, Senator Buttfield was npt very gracious in what she said when with; drawing, even though she was given ample opportunity to clear tip the matter so that no ill feeling would be left. Australian Labor Party senators and, 1 would think, the vast majority of honourable senators in this chamber, are proud that men such as Senator Georges are here. He was bom in this country. Even if he were not, he is the kind of man whom we should be proud to have in this chamber. He is proud of his antecedents. He often raises questions about Greece.
– His parents were good people; I knew them.
– They came from a nation of which the world is proud tor ^ contribution it made to civilisation: I ‘“?*. it. is very regrettable that this kind of hide should be exhibited in the Senate .by **Senator Buttfield. .^”j
– It is regrettable : that he should be run down by, people like Sena-tor Buttfield - militarists.
– It is most unfortunate that this kind of reflection should be made upon honourable senators when they are pursuing matters which they are entitled to pursue on behalf of persons seeking naturalisation. Cases have to be made on behalf of people, whatever their religious or political background might be. It is important that honourable senators put those cases. We know that there are differences between the parties in their attitudes. Sometimes strong views are held. Senator Georges and other honourable senators are quite entitled - indeed it is their duty - to put forward matters on behalf of citizens who belong to a party which, whether Senator Buttfield likes it or not, was declared to be a legal political party in this country. I think that the less we hear of the kind of remark made by Senator Buttfield in this Senate, the better. 1 regret ; that she did not take the opportunity to1 clear herself completely in the eyes of honourable senators for saying something that she should not have said. In the time that I have been here I do not think I have heard anyone express such a remark deliberately. Sometimes things . are said by way of interjection, but rarely is an attitude such as that adopted by Senator Buttfield stated and persisted in.
– I am still in doubt as to whether she withdrew the second one. I will be interested to see what Hansard says.
– I take a point of. order. I want to move that Senator Murphy be allowed to make a statement He is .out of order, speaking like this on the estimates.
– Senator Branson is casting a reflection on the chair.
– I .am trying to help. I ask that he be granted leave to make a statement. I believe he is out of order. The point of order has been decided. We are dealing with the estimates. Senator Murphy would find difficulty in relating his speech to the estimates. I am trying to help the Senate. I would like to move that Senator Murphy be allowed to make a statement.
Order! The point of .order is not upheld.
– It is relevant to the estimates not only because the incident occurred during our debate on the estimates but also because it is fundamental to immigration in this country as well as to fair dealings between honourable senators and to fair dealings with those whose ancestors came from elsewhere even if those honourable senators were born in this country. It is most regrettable that anything should be said reflecting upon persons who have migrated here. I think everyone in this chamber has ancestors who have come from elsewhere. In a sense, we are all immigrants; whether we be of the first or second generation. The Aboriginals were the true Australians. We are immigrants. We should not forget that. Anything which, reflects in any way on those of ..us whose immediate ancestors came from elsewhere should not be said. Everyone here has the highest regard for Senator Georges and for the way in which he fights for the issues which are brought to him. I have no doubt of that. I again ask Senator Buttfield to take the opportunity to withdraw completely any remarks she made against Senator Georges. I ask her to do that without any tags attached to it and out of the generosity which she has, exhibited on other occasions. I ask her to apologise for the statements she made. I think they not only reflect upon Senator Georges; they are. also not in conformity with the way in which the Senate is conducted. Even if she is not required to withdraw - and this is where .my speech is not on the point of order - I think she should take the opportunity to withdraw completely any suggestion of the type she has made against him.
– I would like to return to the estimates.
The TEMPORARY CHAIR MAN- - Order! Is the honourable senator coming on to the-
– No, I do not want to be involved in points of order. I want to return to the estimates for the Department of Immigration.
The TEMPORARY CHAIR MAN -
Before you do so there, is just one remark I would like to make. As there seems to be some doubt in the minds of honourable, senators as to . whether Senator Buttfield withdrew, on the second occasion, I invite Senator Buttfield to withdraw so that there will be no doubt about it. .
– I understood that I did withdraw the statement in which I reflected oh the fact that it was a pity that Senator Georges was allowed to be in this country when he had such views in favour of Communists being allowed to become Australian citizens and gain the advantages of this country.
– 1 refer to item 10 of sub-division 2 of Division 330. It relates to Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration - Contribution to , administrative budget. I wonder whether the Minister could, through her advisers, tell us whether there has been any improvement or acceleration in the ability of people from Czechoslovakia to come to this country since the invasion and occupation of their country by the Russians. When I was in Vienna some 2 years ago I was most interested in the work of the interdepartmental committee on European migration. I am anxious to know whether, through this organisation, we are facilitating the coming to Australia of people from Czechoslovakia.
My experience of people - from Czechoslovakia has been reasonably wide. We had quite a colony of them in Broken Hill when I was a boy. I always found them to be first class people who were highly skilled, particularly in the light industries. I had some of them working for me subsequently in industries with which I had something to do. They are good citizens and I would be grateful if the Minister could tell me whether or not we are getting any more of them as a result of the Russian occupation of their country and whether we are facilitating their coming here through this particular area of our interest in immigration.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) (9.32)- I refer to item 04 of subdivision 4 of Division 330. This is the item for TurkeyAustralia Assisted Passage Agreement - passage and associated costs, The amount spent on this item last year was $543,984. The appropriation sought for this year is $1,060,000, almost double the amount expended last year. I was wondering whether many migrants will be coming from Turkey next year. I should like to know from the Minister what it is proposed to do under this Agreement and how many migrants we may expect from Turkey. - I wish to deal now with another matter. It is one to which I referred when we- dis cussed the estimates for the Department of Works. While discussing the estimates for the Department of Works we approved many items of expenditure for the Department of Immigration. For example, we approved an expenditure of $86,000 on furniture and fittings for this Department next year. Expenditure on this item last year was $64,000.’ We also approved an appropriation of $100,000 for repairs and maintenance and we agreed to the provision of $3,200,000 for buildings and maintenance, when dealing with the estimates for the Department of Works. As the amount proposed to be spent on furniture and fittings for this Department is considerably more than was expended last year, I should like to know what it is proposed to spend the money on. What furniture is to be purchased, and where is it to be used?
I refer now to item 03 of this subdivision. This covers an appropriation of $6,078,000 for the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration Assisted Passage Schemes- Passage and ‘ associated costs-. This is the item which caused so much concern in the Senate a short while ago! Honourable senators will remember that I have been most consistent in my references’ to this matter for some considerable time. What Senator Buttfield failed to realise was that the question is not whether we should allow these people to come into the country be they Communists or anything else. The question is whether, after having . been “ admitted to the country, after having settled in the country, after having contributed to the development of this country, after having paid taxes to this country, after having been here for so long without there being any question of deporting them -because of their political affections, we should accept them as Australian’ citizens or allow them to remain in bur country as aliens.’
Senator Buttfield takes the view that we are doing these people whom we accept into our country a good turn - that we are . bestowing a great honour and privilege on them and that they should be pleased and proud because of this. The Department of Immigration on the other hand, speaks pf the great work these migrants have done in the development of Australia. The real - question is: ‘Do we owe a debt of gratitude to the migrants, or do they owe one to us?’ I think the gratitude might possibly be reciprocal. By encouraging the migrants to become naturalised, we acknowledge what they have done. Every honourable senator here, including Senator Buttfield, has attended naturalisation ceremonies and spoken of the good work that migrants have done in helping to develop this country to an extent which would not have been possible without their aid. Those who may have been members of the Communist Party have done just as much to assist in the development of Australia as have those who may be opposed to the Communist Party. We cannot draw any distinctions in this field. The question is not one of the migrants owing us something; it is one of our appreciating what they have done for us.
We have adopted a clear-cut policy over the years. Honourable senators will recall that on one occasion in the Senate I referred to the case of a Mr Thompson in South Australia. This man stood as a Communist Party candidate for election to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. He is still a member of the Communist Party in Australia. He was given assistance to migrate to Australia. The Australian Government paid his fare. We welcomed him. There is no opposition to members of the Communist Party in Great Britain.
Senator Georges spoke of a man who had been out here for 14 years, lt will be remembered that on two occasions I have mentioned in this chamber the case of Mr Steve Papas who has been a loyal member of the Communist Party for 35 years. He has done nothing but hard work in helping to develop Australia. After having worked so hard in the interests of our development for possibly 37 years, he has now reached the age when he should be retiring, but he cannot retire because he does not know his future in relation to social service benefits although I believe it is secure. This man has contributed a lot to this country, and in doing it he has not been engaged in the best types of employment. He made his contribution doing jobs that were tough, such as helping to lay the railway line to Alice Springs, working in orchards and cutting cane in north Queensland. He has contributed a great deal to the development of this country. No one can criticise him in any way. He has never been convicted of any offence. His character is as good as that of anyone else, possibly as good as that of anyone in the Senate. No one would dare to criticise him. Yet, for some peculiar reason, we refuse to accept him as an Australian citizen. i come now to another case that I should like to draw to the attention of the Minister. It relates to a family which migrated to Australia from Italy some 15 years ago. The father has always been a Communist. He was a Communist in Italy. We accepted htm into Australia. Seven years ago he applied for and was granted naturalisation. After his arrival in Australia, he remained an active member of the Communist Party of Australia. His wife, had no particular political affiliations, other than those engendered by loyalty to her husband, lt is presumed that her husband took out membership for her and paid her dues. She does not know whether she ever was a member. She has never taken any active part in the Communist Party. She says she has never paid anything herself to the Communist Party and does not believe that she was ever a member. As I have said, he has always been a member of the Communist Party. I repeat that, some 7 years ago, he applied for and was granted naturalisation. The children of the family were born here and are Australian citizens. About 3 years later the wife applied for naturalisation. Her paper was marked to show that a security report had been made, and she was refused naturalisation. The Communist was accepted at a time when the Security Service was not so thorough in making its checks. That is the case of that family.
I have referred before to the case of a Yugoslav who is married to an Australian who is a high school teacher on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. She was refused naturalisation. She does not know why. She considers herself to be a militant type of person, or one who takes an interest in militant politics, but not a member of the Communist Party. Because of her militant activity and possibly because of a false report to the Security Service by someone who was gabbing around the place - a report by a neighbour or something like that - she was refused naturalisation. This woman is married to an Australian and her children are Australian; but she is an alien. She is not permitted to receive citizenship of the country of her children and her husband. That is the position that exists.
The Labor Party does not accept the ideology of Communism. The Liberal Party hates it. Whilst there is some hatred on the part of Communists and whilst I think they have an allegiance to international Communism, that has never stopped a Communist from assisting and sacrificing and, if need be, dying for the country of which he is a naturalised citizen in a cause that he believes is right. In proportion to membership, as many members of the Communist Party as members of any other political party served in the Second World War. The Communist Party is the only party in Australia which has been accepted under our constitutional formalities and which has legal recognition, as a result of a referendum, as a party. But it is the party that the Government will not accept.
The justification for accepting it is that we should not discriminate. While the world cries in horror at discrimination on racial or religious grounds, discrimination is occurring in Australia today on political grounds through the activities of this Department, which never gives a reason. It merely says: ‘We cannot permit naturalisation and we will not state the reason’. I have referred to a man who has the stigma of being refused naturalisation without any right to make a defence, because the reason is not stated and the decision is probably made on false information.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (9.43]- I believe that Senator Cavanagh summed up the truth in regard to the application of a Communist to be naturalised when he pointed out that if a member of the Communist Party applies to join the Australian Labor Party the application is refused because the applicant cannot fulfil the qualifications. How could a Communist who, by virtue of joining the Communist Party, pledges his loyalty, above all nationality, to the cause of international Communism, turn around and say that he bears true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors? It is a complete contradiction. If any person says that he is a Communist and that he can sincerely take the oath of allegiance to the Queen, all he is saying is that he is not a Communist, because the two things are entirely contradictory.
I do not deny that a man may sincerely be a Communist. He is entitled to be. We allow him to live in our country. But surely in his own interests the Communist realises the impossibility of bis taking the oath of allegiance with any sincerity because he is denying everything that the Communist Party stands for when he takes such an oath. I believe that the Department of Immigration acts perfectly properly and in the interests of the man himself. AH it says to him is: ‘You are a Communist, and if you were to say that you bore true allegiance to the Queen you would be telling a lie’. In effect, that is the situation. Let me give a parallel case. I ask Senator Cavanagh: Do you think Lenin could have taken an oath of allegiance to Czar Nicholas II?
– He could have done as much for Australia as the DLP will ever do.
– Order! Senator McManus will address his remarks to the chair.
– Senator Cavanagh himself now realises the ridiculousness of any suggestion that a Communist could take the oath of allegiance. I respect a Communist if he is sincere and says: ‘I scorn allegiance to any queen. I scorn any allegiance other than allegiance to the cause of international Communism’. But I could not respect a Communist who went before a tribunal and said: T take the oath of allegiance to the Queen’, because he would be telling a deliberate lie. Senator Cavanagh knows perfectly well that that is so. I believe that the Australian Labor Party is denying the very principles on which it operates. Members of the Labor Party know that in the 1920s, when Communism first became known in this country, any number of Communists applied to join that Party and, when they were told that because they belonged to another party their allegiance was elsewhere, they said: ‘We are all members of the working class. We are all entitled to be in together’. All I say to Senator Cavanagh is that I will accept the right of a Communist to take the oath of allegiance when he accepts the right of a Communist openly to join the Labor Party, because I know that that would never happen in the Labor Party and it should never happen in this country.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.47] - Senator Cotton referred to the contribution to the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration. T inform him that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) visited Vienna a short time ago. He then made arrangements, in consultation with the Austrian Government, under which a substantial number of Czechs are likely to come to Australia. Senator Cavanagh spoke about Turkish migration. It is expected that 3,500 Turkish migrants will come to Australia this financial year. He also asked about the appropriation of $100,000 for repairs and maintenance under Division 584, which is under the control of the Department of Works.
– I am more concerned about the appropriation for furniture and fittings under Division 582.
– That is an appropriation of $86,000 for furniture and fittings for State and Central Offices and the migrant centre. The programme for 1969-70 comprises the following: Works in progress as at 1st July 1969, $10,037, and furniture and fittings to be ordered in 1969-70, $85,517; making a total of $95,554. Although the programme provides for items to the value of $95,554 to be on order during 1969-70, it is expected that it will be necessary to make payments to the extent of $86,000 only. The remainder will be carried forward into 1970-71. The increase in 1969-70 was due mainly to the provision for a 90% replacement programme for the Victorian office, additional requirements for the executive area and new positions in the central office. Senator Georges asked about naturalisation policy. Security considerations are a ground under Government policy for refusal of naturalisation.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Health, $27,825,000 - noted; proposed provision - ‘Department of Health, $3,210,00 - noted; proposed expenditure - ‘Department of Social Services, $32,685,000 - noted; proposed provision - Department of Social Services, $292,000 -noted.
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, $39,839,000.
Proposed provision, $38,233,000.
– There are several matters that I want to link with the proposed expenditure for administration. I want to refer to the fact that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) is Chairman of the National Forestry Council and as such was the main instigator of the recent conference of State agencies dealing with bush fire fighting techniques. I feel that there has been an iron curtain drawn over the results of that conference. This is September and we could have another dry summer. I feel that the Department could have been more articulate about the decisions that were made at the conference. In fairness to the powers that be, I should say that together with Senator O’Byrne I asked for a conference dealing with techniques of bush fire fighting. There was such a conference, I think about 2 years ago, and we even had people here from the light aircraft industry and the helicopter industry. I think it was a very beneficial conference. The discussions were completely uninhibited. Before this last conference was to be held in August the Minister representing the Minister for National Development informed me that it was considered better to hold the conference virtually in camera as people might feel that some of their views would be misinterpreted or misreported. We accept that but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. What I am concerned about is that we have had no documents or reports presented to this Parliament concerning that conference. That is the first point on which I would like information.
The other point about which I am somewhat perturbed is the growth of the Department of National Development. It has grown like Topsy, as it were, and it is now impossible for the Department to reconcile urgent needs. We have the Australian Water Resources Council, a very laudable body, but we also have under the same hat the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which brings to mind Rum Jungle, which in turn brings to mind some pollution that could be avoided and some that was unavoidable. Honourable senators are aware that I have engaged in extensive talks with the Minister on the policy of that body, first of all in relation to the Finniss River and as to whether the methods of combating pollution were as good as they should be. I received a letter from the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission informing me that he was visiting the Finniss River area. I want to say unequivocally that I am not talking about radioactive waste. I am talking about less injurious substances which resulted, according to information received from the Department of the Interior, in 20 miles of the Finniss River being unfit for man or beast. 1 discussed this matter informally with Senator Bull who has had pretty lengthy experience in the cattle industry. I cannot see how an arid continent like Australia can afford to have 20 miles of any river polluted in this way. I say to the Minister in all sincerity: ‘1 wonder how you fix your priorities.’
On the one hand we have the Water Resources Council which is rightly concerned with the maximum storage of water, water purity and the best use of water, and on the other hand we have the Atomic Energy Commission which is primarily interested in mining and similar matters. That is the first criticism I have to make of the Department.
I want to come back to New South Wales and 1 want to put to the Minister the matter of Lucas Heights and the complaints received from the Bankstown Municipal Council about certain private industries dumping industrial waste on Commonwealth land at Lucas Heights. This waste in turn runs into Mills Creek and ultimately into the Georges River. Again, I am not saying that it is radioactive waste, because every time I raise that point I am told publicly, by letter or by the Minister that there are no radioactive materials involved. 1 did not say that there was radioactive material as such. I imagine that the area would be patrolled by Commonwealth police, and I think it should bc. But what I cannot understand is why the Atomic Energy Commission is taking a Pontius Pilate attitude and washing its hands of the matter. It says that it has reported to the New South Wales Maritime Services Board that some unknown people are dumping waste on its grounds. Whatever the extent of the area, surely to goodness the Com mission could have members of the Commonwealth police force patrolling the outer perimeter and booking the polluters, no matter who they are.
The latest information I have on this matter is that first of all the Bankstown Municipal Council sent a letter to the Commonwealth health authorities, lt was misdirected in Sydney and finally finished up with the State authorities. As to the Atomic Energy Commission, as far as 1 know they have done nothing but say to the Maritime Services Board that somebody is dumping waste on their land and that they want to know what the Board is going to do about it. The Minister knows my views on this. I have always felt that Commonwealth departments should set standards because it is impossible to imbue the six States with the same enthusiasm. So what 1 am trying to elicit from the Minister tonight is the latest position in relation to Lucas Heights, ls it patrolled by Commonwealth police? Why are these industrialists who are dumping their wastes on to the area so that they constitute a threat to the Georges River not being booked? My colleague Senator McClelland appreciates that further down the river is a thriving oyster lease industry. The people operating that industry rely on the good sense of the Atomic Energy Commission.
When I asked a question about standards 1 was told that a combination of the Atomic Energy Commission, the New South Wales Maritime Services Board and the State public health authorities monitors the water purity. In fact, the Atomic Energy Commission has the sophisticated instalments to take readings of the water and there is nobody who is competent to question those readings. I do not query the readings, but I would be a little happier if readings were taken by a independent body. My basic complaint is that if the Commission is not prepared to handle these interlopers effectively, these private people who are dumping polluted material on Lucas Heights land, it is showing the same lack of judgment as was shown when the Rum Jungle project commenced. With all the technical knowhow at the disposal of the Department of the Interior, it now says that it was just bad luck that the Finniss River in the Northern Territory became polluted. It should not have happened. I agree that we are living in an age of mining bonanzas and the development of our mineral resources. Senator Cant is much better versed in the matter of uranium mining than 1 am.
I want to know whether the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission has finished his survey? Can he say that they have tightened up at Rum Jungle and the 20 miles of pollution will rapidly diminish? Can he say that in New South Wales since this matter was raised by the Bankstown Council and New South Wales senators Commonwealth police are patrolling the area, and that offenders will be reported to the local authorities? I would like answers on those matters from the Minister.
– 1 wish to refer to the appropriation of $130,000 for water resources research in Division 390 - Administrative, and to the appropriation of $34,462,000 for expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Act in Division 865 - Capital Works and Services. An appropriation of $270,000 for expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act also appears in Division 865. I ask the Minister whether there is any appropriation for water conservation in Queensland apart from the provision of $130,000 for water resources research. Will the Minister be so good as to inform me whether the estimates contain provision specifically for water conservation works in Queensland?
– I wish to relate my remarks to the appropriation of $45,000 for documentary films and publications in Division 390 - Administrative. I am particularly interested in the publications of the Bureau of Mineral Resources as a result of research works. On occasions I have been able to get them free from the Minister for National Development, but generally they are not distributed free of charge. I wish to know whether the increased provision o’f about $16,000 is for publications that will be distributed free for the information of members of this Parliament and the general public or whether they are to be sold. What sort of publications are they that the Department proposes to have printed that will incur an extra expenditure of about $16,000?
The item also deals with documentary films. When speaking on the estimates for the broadcasting and television services I complained that insufficient attention is paid to the production of documentary films. Documentary films are educational and informative. Most people to whom I speak would prefer to see documentary films on television to much of the rubbish that presently is shown. For what purpose are the films produced? To what use will they be put when they are produced? If the Department of National Development is to produce films of any great consequence for distribution throughout the world advising on Australia’s resources and the opportunities here, a much greater budget than $45,000 will be required. The increase of about $16,000 over last year’s expenditure relates both to documentary films and publications. The Department of National Development is in a position to produce excellent material that would be very valuable in the promotion of Australia. I would like to see its activities extended a great deal, but my impression of the appropriation is that it is playing around with something that will not be of much use to anyone.
I turn now. to the appropriation of $130,000 in Division 390 for water resources research. Last year a similar amount was appropriated and the expenditure was $110,403. Water is needed by Australia in great quantities. A constant effort should be put forward by the Government in research and the surveying of our water resources; not only the measuring of river flows to gauge opportunities for water conservation, but also in respect of underground water. Judging by the amount that is being appropriated for the purpose the Department is just playing about with the idea. It is well known that Australia is the driest continent in the world. Water will be Australia’s life blood. It will control our population increases and our production from the land, not only for our own use but also for export throughout the world to wherever we can find markets. A great deal more water is required for our industrial cities than is in prospect at present.
This also reflects upon our defence because unless you are able to build up industry and population you will not be able to defend this country adequately. All of these things relate to the available water resources in Australia. When I see the appropriation of $130,000 for water resources research it seems to me that, the Government is begging the question. This is a more important matter than the Fill aircraft or even the $ 1,000m that is to be spent on defence this year because we in Australia will rise or fall according to the amount of water that we are able to find and conserve. Nevertheless, the appropriation this year is about $19,500 more than was spent last year. I urge the Minister to pay more attention to this matter and to enlighten mc on whether this is the total amount that the Government proposes to spend in this very important field.
I turn now to the appropriation of $6,000 for contract investigations. Last year $160,000 was appropriated and, in round figures, $153,000 was expended. The present appropriation means that in this financial year about $147,000 less will be spent on contract investigations. Does this mean that in the Northern Division - I take that to mean in the northern part of Australia, that part of Australia which is designated roughly north of the 26th parallel - no contracts are to be let in this financial year and that no contracts are to be investigated? Does the Government intend to carry out any development works in the area, either by itself or in association with the States or the Northern Territory Administration? It seems to me - 1 think 1 am entitled to draw the inference - that the appropriation this year represents a contraction of the activities of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. Having regard to the two items that I have mentioned - the contraction of $153,000 in contract investigations and the 224% increase in salaries, which obviously must mean the engagement of additional staff - there seems to be a contradiction in terms. 1 think that the Government should be paying more attention to the development of northern Australia because it is to that area that the Commonwealth Government will be looking increasingly for its overseas revenue. The development of our huge mineral deposits, not by the Government but by private enterprise, will require all of the services that go with it. One of the most important services that goes wilh any of these projects is water but, as 1 have said, the Government has limited its appropriation for water resources research to $130,000. In the context of these three items, how is it expected that large towns or cities will develop in this area? How will this part of Australia, which is probably the least populated large area in the world today, be populated and developed if we do not have some form of decentralisation?
Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I would like to take this opportunity to clarify a situation which arose in the Senate just a little while ago concerning some remarks that I made. I understood that I had withdrawn but I am unable to see just exactly what I did say and while there is doubt in the minds of senators in this chamber I would like to take this opportunity of saying that I do withdraw unreservedly and if I have upset the senator I apologise.
– I ask for leave to speak on this matter. -
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It has been an unfortunate incident all round. I have looked at the record and I have heard the versions of various senators.
– How have you seen the record? I cannot.
– Well, a record is not kept only by the Hansard staff. Other people in the galleries of this place also keep records of what is said, especially on extraordinary incidents. I would think that the sense of this chamber would be that Senator Buttfield should withdraw unreservedly and apologise for the offensive statement made by her concerning another senator. If she will say that, I think this will be the end of the incident, if she does not at the last juncture qualify this by saying if it upset Senator Georges’. It was an offensive statement, not only upsetting to Senator Georges hut to the whole of this chamber. Unless she is prepared to do that I propose to move that she be directed to withdraw unreservedly and apologise for those offensive statements made by her concerning another senator. If she will indicate simply that she does so without endeavouring either to repeat the offence or without endeavouring to qualify it in any manner that will be an end to the incident. I would ask now that she does that as I have requested.
Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) - Mr Temporary Chairman, I am stunned that the Leader of the Opposition would ask me to repeat my apology and the com plete withdrawal. I have given it and I see no reason to repeat it. 1 have said it and I have apologised.
– That is an unreserved apology that you make?
– I have given it. Senator Murphy - You apologise unreservedly?
– Yes. You just like to rub people’s noses in the dirt.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, this will be regarded as an end to it.
– We are having a very interesting debate on .the proposed appropriation for the Department of National Development. Quite a’ few questions have been asked. I hope to be able to answer all of them with the exception of Senator Milliner’s. If it is not to hand now I will get it before the next lot and provide an answer when next I rise. Senator Mulvihill asked about bush fires. He referred to the rural fires conference held in Canberra about 2 months ago. This was held under the auspices of the Australian Forestry Council, comprising State and Federal Ministers. The report of the conference is not yet ready for publication. It will first have to be presented to the Council. It is hoped that it will be before the Minister within the next month.
The honourable senator asked about a problem in relation to the East Finniss River. A branch of the Finniss River system shows some pollution over a distance of several miles only. From its junction with the Finniss River about 4 miles downstream from Rum Jungle no pollution is evident, although the water may be slightly contaminated for several days only during a very heavy flow at the beginning of the wet season. A survey is under way to determine exactly the source of contamination. These are waste rock dusts, not effluent deliberately released into the river system. No economic damage has been or is being suffered by any person at the present time. The honourable senator went on to discuss a problem that is very dear to his heart and which he has raised on’ several occasions by questions in the Senate. I can advise him that Commonwealth departments do set standards. The Lucas Heights establishment is patrolled by Commonwealth police but their jurisdiction is restricted to the area of the research establishment. Discharge of low level’ liquid waste from Lucas Heights is subject to strict control under a formula agreed upon by the New South Wales Department of Health and the Maritime’ Services Board. The dumping of waste on a council tip or on other land in the area is a matter for control by the authorities of the area con.cemed and not by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission.
asked a question regarding films. The only film to be produced, one on the National Materials Handling Bureau, will be shown to all organisations and government departments interested in the improvement of efficiency in the handling of materials in Australia. Other films in the past have been on mapping and mineral surveys and are designed as general information and educational films. Senator Cant also mentioned publications. There is a Treasury policy that requires all publications to be sold at cost plus a certain percentage for overhead cost and the Department follows this policy except that certain publications are distributed free to other organisations with which there is an exchange agreement. The honourable senator went on to talk about the Northern Division. The funds provided for the Division are for salaries and administration expenses. The funds for the various major projects which the Division has evaluated appear under contributions to the States administered by the Treasury. The staff has increased to an average of thirty-eight instead of thirtythree over the whole year. They are based in Canberra but work on projects throughout northern Australia. They comprise agricultural scientists, engineers, economists, soil scientists and geographers.
The Northern Divison evaluates schemes which are proposed. The honourable senator has commented on the fact that the Government is making available to the Northern Division small sums of money. He complains that it is not enough to enable the development that is required in this area. I inform him that under our federal system the States look after their own projects. The Northern Division evaluates schemes which are proposed by the States and has evaluated schemes such as the Ord water conservation and irrigation scheme and the Nogoa Dam project and has made a study of beef roads. It recommends whether the schemes which are proposed are economically designed. This is the function of the Northern Division. The large amount of work going on in our north is unprecedented in the history of Australia. Any honourable senator who considers these works will agree that there is a need for the Division to take an active interest in the area and to evaluate schemes on which large sums of money are being spent.
The honourable senator referred also to water resources research for which funds are provided under Division 390. This item provides for funds to support the work of the Australian Water Resources Council. From the initial allocation of $130,000 in 1968-69 it has been decided by the Government to increase the allocation to $400,000 and to extend the period to 3 years ending 30th June 1971. The principal purpose of this is to enable studies to be carried out on topics which are of greatest concern to water authorities throughout Australia. In 1968-69 $130,000 was appropriated and it is estimated that the same amount will be required in 1969-70. The water research programme is administered by the Australian Water Resources Council, assisted by a committee composed of one representative each from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian Research Grants Committee and the following committees of the Australian Water Resources Council: the steering committee on education and research, the technical committee on surface water and the technical committee on underground water.
Reference was made also to contract investigations for the Northern Division. Last year $152,000 was paid for a feasibility study of the Darwin port The provision this year of $6,000 is for a study by the Snowy Mountains Authority of certain aspects of a proposal for a powerhouse in central Queensland. The figure for the contract investigation bears no relation to the possible cost of the project
– I relate my remark!; to the contribution towards expenses of the River
Murray Commission, which is dealt with in Division 390, and expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act, which conies under Division 865. 1 propose to say something also about the Chowilla dam. The report of the Auditor-General states that $5,572,355 had been expended on the Chowilla dam to 30th June 1969. I remind honourable senators opposite that this is not a joke. I ask them to listen attentively to what I say because currently in the South Australian Parliament there is a resolution that no money should be expended and no legislation should be passed in South Australia in relation to the Dartmouth dam unless it is accepted that the Dartmouth dam and Chowilla dam will be built simultaneously. Perhaps I should add that the pro forma for that resolution was suggested by Senator Laucke, a Liberal senator, who is a member of the South Australian Chowilla Dam Promotions Committee of which I also am a member. Recently the Chowilla Dam Promotions Committee discussed the position which had arisen from the decision of the Commonwealth and South Australian Liberal governments in relation to the’ abandonment of Chowilla. When we discussed this decision Senator Laucke initiated the proposal that the Committee, as a public body, should advocate that the two dams be built simultaneously.
In the course of debates in this place government supporters have said that there is no reason to believe that at some stage Chowilla will not be built. But when the Government is asked to accept this as a continuing project it says that it will not consider it and that legislation will be brought down at some particular time, that it intends to provide for the Dartmouth dam. On many occasions in this place honourable senators opposite have tried to discredit the Chowilla project. There is no question that in South Australia the action of the Federal Government and of the State Liberal Government is considered to be something of a scandal. When the South Australian Liberal Premier went to the electorate to secure endorsement of the Government he said that Chowilla would be built. He criticised the Australian Labor Party for suggesting a deferment to enable specialised attention to be given to the project. But he said that there was no doubt that they would build Chowilla. However, when his Party was elected to office it, with the Federal Government, decided to take notice of the report of the technical committee which had a bias against South Australia and the aims of the South Australian people in favour of the other States.
I heard someone refer to New South Wales. I must say on behalf of the New South Wales Premier that recently he has come out and said that he is sorry that the Chowilla project has been abandoned because all the State’s engineering works and general irrigation programmes had been geared to fit the Chowilla project. But he said this after he had received from the Commonwealth Government a grant of $20m. The Commonwealth has said that it cannot give to South Australia finance which would enable that State to have a chance of continuing with the dam, yet it can give to New South Wales and to other States quite substantial sums of money for irrigation works and water conservation projects. It is a good thing that money is made available for this purpose.
In South Australia the Chowilla dam is still a very important issue. Large sections of the South Australian community, particularly in the Upper Murray regions, are quite strong in their demand that the two dams be built. There is certainly strong feeling in the South Australian Parliament on this issue. If the Speaker of the South Australian Parliament decides to support the resolution proposed by the Labor Party - he has said already that he will do so - and if that Government tests its position there could be a new government in South Australia, a Labor government which would be coming back to the Commonwealth to ask that new financial arrangements be made to provide for the building of the two dams. Obviously this is a very sensible proposition.
– How would it persuade Victoria to change its mind?
-I have no doubt that if the Commonwealth Government told all the States concerned that it would arrange finance on fairly reasonable terms to enable the two dams to be built, and was prepared to take measures to deal with problems resulting from expanded irrigation in the other States, all States would come to the party and we would get the dam that we want for South Australia. In that case there would be no political issue. At the moment there is a strong political issue and let us not forget it. On 9th September a Liberal senator tried to use a Press statement to decry the aims of the River Murray irrigators organisation. On that occasion Senator Young asked whether the Minister had noticed the statement by the South Australian representative at the irrigators conference. The Minister, Senator Scott, took the opportunity, as is usually done, to decry the Chowilla project. Of course his attitude is no different from that of the Commonwealth Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). I have said, and it is on record, that the Commonwealth Minister has been consistently against the Chowilla project. Press statements have been made about the matter. There is evidence in the minutes of the meetings of the River Murray Commission to prove what I am saying. If the Minister does not agree with me he should produce the minutes of the meetings of the Commission, as I have already challenged him to do. The person about whom Senator Young asked his question is Mr Rowland of Mitta Mitta, Victoria. In a letter to the Adelaide Advertiser’ Mr Rowland said:
Scanning the Albury ‘Border Mail’ leads me to believe that a resolution at the recent meeting of the interstate Murray irrigators at Swan Hill may have been reported only in part.
That which 1 proposed, and which was passed, was an exhortation for the Dartmouth dam to proceed, and also for funds to be set aside, now lor a Chowilla dam, or other drainage scheme-
– Or other drainage scheme.
– The honourable senator is only begging the question. The honourable senator asked a question that he thought would be to the advantage of the Government and the Minister responded. 1 am reading what Mr Rowland said in a letter to a newspaper. He went on to say:
That is quite different from the slant the honourable senator has put on Mr Rowland’s statement. I make this point without any hard feelings. Only one of the Liberal senators from South Australia has consistently advocated granting the wishes of the people of Australia. It is more important than politics for the people of
South Australia to have a dam at Chowilla. There have been persistent requests for it from outside of the Parliament. There is strong evidence in favour of the Chowilla site. It has been put by the Opposition and contested by the Minister that Chowilla is the better site. Everybody knows that on the question of salinity the technical committee of the River Murray Commission reported in favour of the Chowilla site. There is no doubt about that factor because it is stated in the committee’s report. Honourable senators can read it for themselves if they want to. The supporters of the Chowilla site include important people like Sir Thomas Playford, the head of the South Australian Housing Trust and Mr Dridan, who was Engineer-in-Chief and head of the Engineering and Water Supply Department in South Australia at one time. I put it to the Government that, it is not. too late to accept the Chowilla proposal, lt accepted the Chowilla proposal when Senator Sir William Spooner was Minister for National Development. At that time the scheme was tested using all the resources the Government had at its disposal. The opinions of all the specialist authorities the Government could command were also sought. The Minister then came into this chamber, as did his representative in the other place, and recommended the construction of a dam at Chowilla. The Minister applauded the scheme and said it would be a great thing for South Australia. But the Government changed its mind when it became evident that a dam at Chowilla would cost a bit more than anticipated. But what costs do not increase in this clay of inflated prices?
– A bit more?
– lt was more. However, that should not matter. The Government has already spent $200m on the Fill aircraft although it has not taken delivery of them yet, yet it cannot spend $40m on a dam which would be of great importance to South Australia and in fact is needed to keep that State going. But that is not the only reason. The important reason is that an election is to be held very soon and this matter is highly important to South Australia. The refusal of the Commonwealth to go ahead with Chowilla will cost the Liberal Party seats. It is not too late for the Government to say that it will consider whether financial arrangements can bc made to construct the two projects. Inevitably a dam will have to be constructed at Chowilla. It may have to wait until there is a change of government, but ultimately it will be built. Honourable senators opposite accept the fact that a dam will bc constructed in the future.
I make the same plea to the Government as I have made previously that before any final decision is made it should reconsider the matter, lt is the Government’s responsibility to make the decision and not the responsibility of the River Murray Commission or the South Australian Government. The Cabinet of the Commonwealth Government should make the decision. It should then influence the South Australian Government, to accept its decision. The Commonwealth Government made a grant of $20m lo the New South Wales Government for a water conservation project. 1 believe that construction of a dam at Chowilla should be proceeded with. The Government has already spent $6m on the project. That money will be wasted if nothing is done at present. When it comes to consolidating the earthworks in the future it may cost double the amount it has already cost. 1 believe that the Minister should have regard for this type of consideration and that he should not stand up and give us a lot. of tripe about the Dartmouth site being better than the Chowilla site. Everybody knows that dams should be constructed at both sites.
– Madam Temporary Chairman, may I ask the Minister to repeat the answers he gave earlier to my questions?
– 1 am sorry if 1 did not make myself clear when I replied lo Senator Milliner earlier. 1 said to him that I did not have the answers to his questions but that I should bc able to reply to them later in the debate. I am now in possession of the information he requires. Senator Milliner referred to the expenditure in Queensland on water resources. A sum of $4m is to be provided this year for the construction of the Maraboon dam in central Queensland. An amount of $2. 5m was expended last year. In. addition, expenditure on investigations into surface and underground water resources in Queensland is estimated at $528,000 for 1968-69. This allocation will be provided under the State;; Grants (Water Resources Measurement) Act
I was unable to determine to which section of the estimates for the Department of National Development Che remarks of Senator Bishop applied. The honourable senator referred to the Government’s decision to accept the recommendations of the River Murray Commission for the construction of a dam at Dartmouth in preference to the Chowilla site. Senator Bishop accused me of misleading the Senate by saying that the Chowilla scheme would have a higher salinity content than the Dartmouth scheme and asked me to refer to the report of the technical committee of the River Murray Commission. I have seen the report. I point out to the honourable senator that I did not use the words he attributed to me. What I did say in answer to Senator Young was (hat during certain dry periods the Dartmouth scheme would produce lower salinity than the Chowilla scheme. If one looks at the chart in the technical committee’s report one will find that in very dry or drought conditions the salinity content of the Chowilla proposition will be about 50 parts per million higher than the Dartmouth scheme. 1 also want to make it quite clear that over a period of years the Dartmouth scheme would produce about 20 parts per million more salinity than, the Chowilla scheme. When answering Senator Youngs question I did not say anything about the overall position. However, 1 did say that during very dry conditions the Chowilla scheme would produce a salinity content of about 50 parts per million more than the Dartmouth scheme. I do not want to enter into a controversy about that.
– I will bet that the M mister does not.
– I do not mind, but we have not much time left to debate a matter such as this. The River Murray Commission, which was represented at one time by Mr Beaney, and a former South Australian Premier, Mr Dunstan, decided to defer the final acceptance of Chowilla until further investigations were carried out of other proposed sites to ascertain whether one would give South Australia more water than Chowilla would. After those investigations, set up and agreed to by a South Australian
Labor Government, were carried out, the River Murray Commission found that the Dartmouth scheme would provide South Australia with about 250,000 acre feel a year more than would be available and would be received under the Chowilla scheme. As this is not in the estimates, I do not propose to deal any further with it.
– 1 wish to refer to the expenditure last year of $110,000 on water resources research and to the appropriation this year of $130,000. I listened to Senator Cant this evening. My impressions of his speech are that he was being critical basically of what is not being done by the Department of National Development. His criticism was based on these figures and on the basic word ‘research’. I made a point of looking back to see what the Government has done in recent times. I have before me two Press statements made by the Minister for National Development. The expenditure would be far in excess of $130,000, so I relate my remarks to the heading ‘Administrative’, where the expenditure runs into over $lm. I do not see reference to allocations to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Is the CSIRO doing work in this area, which work perhaps is not shown in the appropriation? I refer again to my previous mention of some Press statements made by the Minister. On 18th April this year he made a statement about water developments and research developments. He said:
The total spending in Australia on the development of water resources is running at a very healthy SI 00m annually.
I think that statement is a far cry from the misconception, if I may use that word, or the interpretation placed by Senator Cant upon the appropriation of $130,000.
– One is research.
– Research is included in construction and development of water resources. The point I make is that research should be included in the context of amounts spent on the development of water resources. That is why I cannot relate my remarks to the water resources research. That is why I am referring to ‘Administrative’. Under the development programme for water projects in five States, $53 m is being allocated. Some $60m is being allocated for the Ord River irrigation scheme. Financial assistance is being provided for flood mitigation works in New South Wales, for the Blowering Dam in New South Wales, for the Western Australian comprehensive water supply scheme, for the development of Tasmania’s hydroelectric potential, for the River Murray Commission’s development of Murray Valley water resources, about which we have heard a lot tonight, and there is also an initial allocation of some $400,000 for research into water management techniques and better ways of finding, assessing and developing water resources. All these matters are closely inter-related. If one cares to add up the amounts being allocated, one comes to a fantastic amount of money being spent on the development of water resources and conservation in this country. In April of this year the Minister invited the State governments to submit proposals for inclusion in a programme for the water resources development of this country. The initial grant to the Victorian Government was some $3.6m. The South Australian Government had a grant of some $6m from the Federal Government to assist in financing and finishing the pipeline scheme to the upper south east of South Australia, which scheme, under the administration of a previous State government, for a long time was unable to be completed. A further $20m is being put towards further conservation in New South Wales. A lot has been done to develop the water resources.
– I was very interested in the role played by Senator Young in attempting to help the Minister out of a difficult position with respect to water resources. Whilst it is true that some $100m is being spent on water development, it is not true to say that it is being spent under this appropriation of $130,000 for water resources research. Of the available surface water in Australia, 75% lies north of the 26th parallel and only 25% lies south of that parallel. I want to refer to the 1963 report of the Australian Water Resources Council. A perusal of that report shows that Victoria has available to it, apart from water from the Snowy Mountains scheme, approximately 3 million acre feet of water.
– Is that unused water?
– That is water to be developed. Victoria is quickly reaching the stage where it has to decide whether it requires this water for decentralisation - for the setting up of industries outside Melbourne^ - or whether it requires this water for use in the monolithic growth of the city of Melbourne. The 1963 report shows that New South Wales had available to it only 20 million acre feet.
Senator Bishop referred to the Chowilla scheme and to the controversy raging about Chowilla and Dartmouth. That gives an illustration of the shortage of water available to South Australia. As the Minister knows, the most populous part of Western Australia, that part south of the 26th parallel, is short of water. There are two or three more large dams which could be constructed in the southern part of the State to provide for the development of an area almost as big as the State of Queensland. I do not know whether the rivers have been measured, or what amount of water is available there.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - 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.
– As I said the other evening when I was rudely interrupted, there are a number of points that I want to talk about concerning the national service set up and repatriation. I feel that, as they are matters of urgency, I ought to mention them briefly tonight because we are drawing rapidly to the conclusion of this, the last sessional period in the life of this Government and because no doubt the gag will be applied when debate comes on next week. I conformed with the forms of the Senate and extended to the Chair the courtesy that is expected of one when one proposes to speak on the motion for the adjournment. I indicated early in the evening that I intended to speak. I received from Senator Wright the courtesy of a short note saying that he had been advised by the Chair that I intended to speak and if I cared to let him know the subjects to which I propose to refer it would give him an opportunity to assemble some information. I sent a note back to Senator Wright in these terms: 1 shall be speaking on the following subjects:
Army travel facilities for new trainees.
Lack of allotment for defactos
No leave facilities on short leave for trainees living in distant areas.
Other relevant matters related to national service and repatriation. 1 want to refer first to national service training. I have already made this the subject of a communication to the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) und of a Press statement released in my home city of Townsville a couple of days ago. When a trainee is called up in the metropolitan area, and is moved to a training depot, he is taken by air or other fast means of transport in comfortable circumstances. But when he is called up from what Australians normally describe as a bush centre - for the purposes of illustrating my argument I shall use Townsville as the embarkation point - he is given only a second class travel warrant. He is not provided with any vouchers or any cash or any other facilities for obtaining meals on the journey. He embarks on the Sunlander at Townsville at approximately 9 p.m. on one evening, will travel for the whole of that evening, the whole of the next day and the whole of the following night before arriving at his destination. If the young kid concerned has no money on him, he starves for that period.
– That is not true.
– It is absolutely true. 1 have checked it with the Department. I would suggest to the honourable senator who interjects that he should first check his facts. Further, the young man is not warned that he will be required to bring rugs, blankets or heavy clothing with him. Those who have travelled in the second class compartments of Queensland trains will know exactly what I mean. They are cold and most uncomfortable in winter time. The trainees are not warned about these things at all. A young man who receives his call up notice is merely met at the port of embarkation, handed an envelope and told: You will be met in Brisbane’. The position is even worse for those who have to come from Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Cairns or some other remote area.
Again, when the trainee is granted his first period of short leave - it may be 2, 3 or 4 days - after having gone through a certain period of training, if he lives near the training centre, he enjoys the advantage of being able to get home to see his parents, his wife or his girlfriend. But the lad who comes from Thursday Island, Cairns, Townsville or any of the other more remote places in Queensland - I have no doubt that this applies also in other States - is given no allowance or travel warrant. Unless his parents are in a comfortable situation or unless he himself is well cashed up, he has no chance of getting home at all and seeing his parents or near relatives for many months.
I have in mind the case of one particular lad. This case came to my notice only a few days ago. He has a young wife. He paid his own fare by air both ways because, owing to the limited amount of leave available to him, he would not have been able to get home at all by other means of transport. I can remember that in wartime, when this country was facing a crisis, the Labor Government, wherever possible, did everything it could to keep the soldiers and servicemen generally happy. Whenever they were granted leave, that leave had added to it the time that it took for the soldier or other serviceman to travel to his point of embarkation or point of enlistment. This is not being done now, and we are at peace in this country. The Government is afraid to admit that we are at war so far as one in every eight of those young people who turn 20 are concerned.
– They bring the bodies back now.
– That is a concession that the Opposition has to fight for. They would not bring their bodies back. The
Opposition railed about it so loudly and for so long that they now make this small concession and bring the bodies of the dead servicemen back to Australia.
I also remember that, during wartime, in the case of a common law marriage or a case where a serviceman was living with a lass and they had a child he was able to obtain an allotment for the lass and the child. I have amongst my records the case of a young man who was the father of a child born outside wedlock. He asked for an allotment to be made for this child and his request was brutally refused by the Army. His request for an allotment to be made to his de facto wife was also brutally refused. What did this conscript do? He left the Army, and so far as I know, he is still at large. In civilian life he accepted the responsibility of paying for the upkeep of the child, and when he was called up against his will, he asked the Army to carry on this responsibility, and his request was refused.
– What about the wife?
– They would not even give him an allotment for her, either. That is the brutal way in which individual cases are being treated. They have social service workers and public relations people in the Army. Each and everyone of these cases ought to be investigated, but that is not being done.
– I have heard many stories about allotments.
– This is a true story. If anyone wants to check on it, the facts are available. I should like some information on another matter. This request arises out of a question that I asked quite recently. That question was:
Of the approximate number of 16,000 national servicemen now serving, how many have been posted to the following areas - (a) South Vietnam,
the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and
other overseas countries.
I shall not quote the whole of the reply submitted by the Minister for the Army because I do not want to take up too much time of the Senate.
– In any case we would not have been able to understand it.
– You can read it in Hansard if you cannot understand it in any other way. In his reply the Minister slated that there were 3,395 national servicemen serving in South Vietnam and 91 in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I hope the Minister who has contracted to answer these questions will be able to assist. What arc they doing in New Guinea? What units are they attached to? In what capacity are they serving? As lo the number serving in overseas countries, the Minister gave this interesting reply:
There are 275 national servicemen serving in overseas countries.
In what countries are these 275 national servicemen serving? What is their lour of duty in those countries? 1 am sure answers to some of these questions would be very revealing indeed. One would have thought that the Minister would have been open and frank enough when asked a question of this nature to give some indication of the terms of service in these overseas countries. I also asked another question about casualties, and, with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate the question and the answer in Hansard.
asked the Minister representing the. Minister for the Army, upon notice:
What are the total numbers of casualties caused by the explosion of mines in the Vietnam conflict among
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: lt is not practicable to extract the number of Australian casualties due to mines over the whole period of the Vietnam conflict, and to separate these into regular soldiers and national servicement without extensive research.
Curent records classify casualties (for example battle casualties, non-battle, casualties) but not in respect of the cause of the casualty. The total casually figures to 22 August 1969 in their available form are
It. will be seen that there have been a total of 1,922 battle casualties. An individual examination of the operational records relating to all of the incidents in which these casualties occurred would be necessary to determine the cause of the casualty (e.g. shrapnel from mines, rockets, mortars, or grenades) and whether the soldier involved was regular or a national serviceman.
In that answer it was indicated that one of the causes of the casualties in the minefields is the fact that the national servicemen are not properly trained; they are going into this war without adequate training. That is the reason for many of the casualties. The Minister for the Army said in his answer:
It is not practicable to extract the number of Australian casualties due to mines over the whole period of the Vietnam conflict, and to separate these into regular soldiers and national servicemen without extensive research.
If the Department of the Army has the facilities thai it claims to have, surely to goodness this does not require extensive research.
– God help the men when they go for repatriation benefits.
– That is right. If we have not the records at this point of time, what will happen when these men apply for pensions or other repatriation entitlements which should be their right? At the time this answer was given, the numbers of battle casualties among national servicemen were: Fatal, 140; and non-fatal 668. The numbers of battle casualties among regular soldiers were: Fatal, 170; and nonfatal, 944. They are small figures compared with the total population, but they are big enough figures for casualties. This matter should be thoroughly investigated. If the Department of the Army is so inefficient that it cannot analyse these figures, there should be a royal commission into the Department and the Minister should be moved out of his portfolio.
Let us look now at another very interesting point, which comes right back to the Minister for the Army. In question No. 1394 I asked for details of compensation paid to the surviving relatives of civilians killed as a result of the Australian involvement in the conflict in South Vietnam. I was told:
There is no record maintained of the deaths of civilians killed or dying from wounds or injuries sustained accidentally during offensive operations against the enemy. Indeed, it would usually be impossible to ascertain whether such casualties were caused by Australian offensive or defensive action or by the enemy. However, from 31st January 1966 to date there have been 28 deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Compensation has been paid in 20 cases and refused in 2 cases. One case is awaiting dettrmination and in S cases no claims have been lodged.
The amounts paid in the 20 cases settled to date are set out hereunder in VN$ . . .
Then followed a list of figures in Vietnamese dollars. This matter received wide publicity in the Press. But what did not receive wide publicity was the conversion of the compensation paid for those human lives into Australian currency. In the first case the compensation paid was $VN80,000. The Australian equivalent is $610.60. In the second case the compensation paid was $VN205,515. The Australian equivalent is $1,568.80. The compensation sounds most impressive when it is given in Vietnamese dollars. It sounds as though the Australian Army has really scraped the bottom of the barrel in order to find the money to pay the compensation. In the third case the compensation paid was $VN38,000. The Australian equivalent is $290. That is all the Government thinks a South Vietnamese life is worth. In the fourth case the compensation paid was $VN95,000 The Australian equivalent is $725.10.
– Is that for a death?
– Yes, for the death of a South Vietnamese. In the fifth case the compensation paid was $VN227,000. The Australian equivalent is $1,732.8. Then somebody in the big time in South Vietnam must have been killed, because in the sixth case we paid $VN276,200 for his life. The Australian equivalent is $2,106.80. The next one killed must have been that one’s twin brother, because in the seventh case we paid $VN272,000. The Australian equivalent is $2,076.30. The next one killed was probably a brother-in-law of Air ViceMarshal Ky, because in that case we paid SVN334.000 as compensation. The Australian equivalent is $2,503.80. Perhaps the next one killed was a shoe-shine boy, because the Australian Army, in its great generosity, paid $VN3,000 for this South Vietnamese life. The Australian equivalent is $22.90. That is the value that we put on a South Vietnamese life. I believe that the Australian Government, the Department of the Army and the Minister for the Army should be thoroughly ashamed of this sort of compensation.
– Are you nearing the end of your speech?
– I know that as far as Senator Cormack is concerned these people are black and therefore he puts no value on their lives. I wish to refer briefly to three or four points in regard to repatriation. In question No. 1339 I asked:
How many patients are currently inmates of the Wacol Repatriation Pavilion?
What is the total number of these patients who are deprived of their right to register on the Commonwealth and Slate electoral rolls, and why is this right denied to such patients?
My interest in this matter is that I have two personal friends who have been committed to this institution largely because of the effects of alcoholism. There is nothing wrong with their brains. They are intelligent. Their general mental facilities are as good as those of anybody representing any party in the Senate. But they are denied the right to register on the Commonwealth and State electoral rolls. There are eighty-one people in this institution. The Acting Minister for Repatriation (Mr Swartz) replied:
I am advised that the Commonwealth electoral law provides that no person who is of unsound mind . . . shall be entitled to have his name placed on or retained on any roll or to vote at any Senate election or House of Representatives election. Only such patients at Wacol who would be within this provision are debarred from enrolling and voting.
That is not true. That is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts of the matter, because incarcerated in that institution are people who are mentally fit and able to make a clear and sound judgment but who are not allowed to have their names placed on the roll for the purpose of voting in an election. If anything bears out the need for a Senate select committee or royal commission into the Repatriation Department, it is examples such as these, where injustices are being done to people who served this country in wartime and who today are being treated as lunatics when they are not. This is one of the matters that should be investigated. But the position is worse than that.
The Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital in Brisbane accepts patients who are put on the dangerously ill list - that is, people who are not expected to live for more than 13 or 14 days - and then in many instances within 4 or 5 days relatives are told that they can come and take the patients away.
If a royal commission or Senate select committee is set up the relatives of these patients will be prepared to come forward and give sworn evidence. I know from my own personal experience of one recent case of a man who was dying of cancer. He has now passed on. God rest his soul. This man was incapable of getting out of bed or feeding himself. He was a World War I digger. He was decorated in World War I. After a matter of a few days his wife was told to come and take him home. He was on a total and permanent incapacity pension. It was impossible for his wife to employ full time nursing assistance to help. She could not look after him. So, she was told that she could put him into a convalescent home. What sort of treatment is this that we are giving to our aged ex-servicemen?
According to my informant, this happened on three occasions within a brief period. Three ex-servicemen suffering from incurable diseases were told to leave the place and go back to their homes when they were incapable of looking after themselves and their relatives could not look after them either. In this chamber the other night I quoted a Western Australian case. I invited the Minister who was at the table at the time to seek the details of it. I said that I would pass them on confidentially. To show the hard heartedness of this Government, not one single movement has been made by the Minister or any member of the Repatriation Department to get the confidential details of that case. This is symbolic of the thinking of the Government and of the hierarchy of the Repatriation Department. I am not talking about the hundreds of employees who do a fantastic job coping with everyday inquiries and trying to look after ex-servicemen generally. But the hierarchy of the Repatriation Department and the Minister are falling down on their jobs in exactly the same way as the Minister for the Army is falling down on his job.
Finally, I want to quote the details of another case. It concerns a man named Jewell who enlisted on 28th June 1915 and was discharged on 2nd August 1919. On 16th December 1917 he went from France to the United Kingdom on leave. On 13th January 1918 he rejoined his unit and on 18th March he was wounded in action as a result of gassing. On the 19th, that is the day after, the effects of mustard gas played havoc with him and he was admitted to hospital. On 25th March he was repatriated to England for medical treatment. In 1951 this man presented a very well documented case, one of the best that I have seen. These things reacted against him. When he went before the tribunal there were people there who laughed when he said that he had been gassed; and there were people who withheld vital information that would have enabled him to obtain the justice to which he was entitled. If the relevant section of the Repatriation Act were carried out in its entirety the onus of proof would be on the Department, so that at all times the ex-serviceman would be given the benefit of any doubt. But it is even worse than this, because when the relevant papers were finally located after his claim had been rejected they were suppressed. These were the papers which showed that in fact he had suffered from the effect;! of poison gas. This is what his widow now says:
And when you succeed in having a new inquiry opened can my claims and my allegations (which I am prepared to put into an affidavit) be the first to be investigated. It could save me from wasting most of the small amount of money my husband has left to me in a court case I am trying now to arrange to have my claims legally investigated. 1 might say that this lady prevailed upon an advocate of an ex-service organisation who was apparently working hand in glove with those who block pensions. So she became her husband’s advocate even though they tried to stop her. She says further:
When I became Advocate on. 2/3/62, because I knew that my husband had true and just claims, and I saw the file for the first time, 1 knew that Mr Jewell had been denied justice from the very beginning. He had come home from that first claim on 18/10/51 very upset. He had been laughed at for claiming to have been gassed.
He was ultra sensitive and shy and 1 believe one of the finest men God ever made. For 40 years I tried to make up to him for what the war did to him. I know he gate of his best, his mate once told me that he was the best behaved soldier the Army ever had. And I guess that he was the most uncomplaining. And he deserved to be given the best in return.
Yet, even though proof for gassing was obtained from Canberra a week after he was laughed at he was never told of it. And No. 4 Tribunal and the Advocate even kept it from his knowledge for the 14/6/61 hearing.
I have many cases like this that T can quote. They are all documented in the files in my office and at the appropriate time they will all be exposed to public view. But I am asking, as a result of the three cases I have mentioned tonight, that an inquiry be instituted into some aspects of the Repatriation Department, that the Minister for Repatriation be removed from his portfolio as soon as possible and that the same apply to the Minister for the Army because injustice is rampant in both of these departments, there are injustices so far as national service trainees are concerned, and there are thousands of ex-servicemen in Australia today who are entitled to justice and are not getting it.
(1 1.24] - Senator Keeffe has spoken of matters concerning repatriation, and I think his comments concerning the Minister were very extravagant indeed and I would not support them at all. The points he raised mainly concerned individual cases which I shall discuss with the Minister. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard answers to some points raised by Senator Keeffe during the debate on the Estimates which I was unable to give him at the time.
Expenditure under this item is based on past trends and expected future movements, including the expectation that some 81,000 pensioners will receive medical sustenance payments in this financial year.
Expenditure under these items is based not on projected numbers but on expenditure trends. This has provided a reliable guide in the past. The total expenditure on them is expected to increase by about $8S,000 this financial year. Factors contributing to this include provision for the continued greater usage of ambulance services due to an ageing patient population, general increases in fares in New South Wales and increased tribunal activity in consequence of the appointment of an additional Assessment Appeal Tribunal.
Senator Keeffe has requested an explanation of the variation between expenditure for 1968-69 ($1,451,590) and the provision made under the 1969-70 estimates ($1,639,000), amounting to an increase of some $187,000.
This item covers payments under Repatriation regulations for recreational transport allowances, medical rehabilitation, funeral expenses, small business loans, educational grants to children under 12, reciprocal arrangements with other countries (this is recoverable), etc.
The additional $187,000 is made up of increases as follow for the items shown:
– I have listened to Senator Keeffe so far as he referred to matters pertaining to the Army and the first thing I want to say is that I regard his references to the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) as both extravagant and irresponsible. He has not supported his assertions by any statements of fact. I regret very much that he comes into the Senate and uses its forum for such extravagant and irresponsible remarks.
– He has only been listening to you.
– It is fitting that Senator McClelland should interject because he and his Party treated us to some observations relating to this matter yesterday. His support of Senator Keeffe’s outburst tonight shows how little value we can place upon what he heard yesterday.
– Answer the questions he brought up.
– They will’ be given in my own time. As to travel facilities for new trainees, whether this means new national service trainees or Regular Army recruits, a Government warrant is provided to any man travelling to a central area for induction into the Army.
– I said that.
– It is desirable that I state the thing as simply and clearly as possible because if not understood tonight and it is on the record it may be understood tomorrow. With regard to short leave, the position is that this is called local1 leave and is given to provide a respite from the demands of military training over short periods of training, for example, the Easter break, long weekends and so on. Approval for this is within the authority of the unit commander. Financial assistance is provided in certain circumstances as follows: Firstly, for troops at isolated or specified camps, for example, Puckapunyal; secondly, if a soldier lives within 100 miles of his camp; and thirdly, if he wishes to proceed to a nearby large town. The effect of this is that travel costs the soldier a maximum personal amount of 75c. In those cases not covered above the soldier is required to make his own arrangements and to meet all costs and time associated with the travel. The leave travel entitlements in other cases are as follows: In respect of annual recreation leave, free travel once a year is granted to the member’s home town. As to emergency leave, free travel is granted if annual recreation leave has already been taken, but the member is not granted any further annual recreation leave for 18 months. Additional free travel may be granted once a year in special circumstances.
Free travel is granted to the member’s home town when on pre-embarkation leave and air travel may be approved, that is to say, if the time factor prevents the soldier from having the requisite clear 7 days at home before embarkation. As regards disembarkation leave, two free trips may be taken after disembarkation from Vietnam. A married accompanied member whose service extends beyond 2 years in a remote area may be granted assisted or free travel1 to the nearest capital city.
As to concessional travel, members at specified isolated localities travelling up to 100 miles on local leave receive a concession once a month limiting travel costs to SI- 50. In relation to the method of travel to distant areas, continuing consideration has been given to this matter. Rail travel has been accepted as the normal means of transport for members travelling on leave at public expense. Modern intrastate and long service interstate rail travel is generally comfortable and reasonably fast. Any time necessarily involved in travelling to and from a leave destination is granted additional to a leave period to ensure that the member’s home leave is not reduced, irrespective of the distance he may have to travel to take his leave.
It is not considered to be desirable to adopt a general policy that air travel will be the usual means of transport when members are granted leave on return from service overseas. Under existing arrangements, although rail is the normal means of travel, each case is considered on its merits and sufficient flexibility exists to permit the use of air travel if the circumstances are such as to warrant a departure from the normal means. For instance, air travel may be authorised when a member travels on emergency leave and special compassionate circumstances exist, when a member from South Vietnam travels on rest and recreation leave in Australia, or if medical or compassionate grounds preclude rail travel. There are also provisions for air travel for certain long distance journeys where rail transport is not available and when it is necessary to meet a Service requirement.
The only other matter to which I can refer at the moment is the suggestion that casualties have been more frequent in the national service ranks of the Australian Army because national servicemen arc not properly trained. The honourable senator produced no evidence to support that suggestion and I would be very much surprised if there is the slightest evidence to support it. He then referred to figures given the other day as to amounts of compensation paid to Vietnamese civilians in the course of road accidents in Army operations. He cited $A610, SA2.076, and one case of SA22.90 as amounts paid. I have not checked the rates of exchange. I have taken the honourable senator’s calculations to be correct. He should understand that even in Australia civilian deaths may be rewarded by no more than those sums because the English law takes no cognisance of an absolute value on human life.
Human law compensates for the death of an individual only so far as a living dependant can establish an economic loss by reason of the death of the deceased person. It follows that if a 2-year-old baby is overrun, only the funeral expenses are paid. If an invalid of 25 years of age is overrun, again only the funeral expenses would be paid. That illustrates that the quantification of compensation depends entirely upon the economic loss of dependency of the claimant. I have no doubt that in South Vietnam, one would be subject to the economics of that country, and I have no doubt these people would be claimants for some assistance from the Government of South Vietnam.
– Mr Deputy President
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake- Brockman) - Does the honourable senator claim that he has been misrepresented?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- In what words?
– The Minister stated that in my contribution to this debate I said that vouchers for travel warrants were not granted. I did not say that at all. In any case, the Department of the Army in the first place does not issue the travel vouchers. They are granted by the Department of Labour and National Service. I complained that travel was in second class carriages, without comforts, meals or money. So far as that goes, the Minister’s reply seriously misrepresented my statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 September 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690918_senate_26_s42/>.