27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill to abolish capital punishment under the laws of the Commonwealth.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise in a position to inform the Senate whether the Labrador dog being used in drug smuggling detection will be joined by an additional 2 or 3 dogs in this field of investigation?
– 1 have a fairly high regard for Labrador dogs, but I cannot answer this question off the top of my head. 1 shall have to find out for the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation read today’s copy of the “Australian.” the sub-leader of which refers to a Senate select committee on aircraft noise? ls it not a fact that there is no Senate select committee on aircraft noise? Has the Minister any comment to make on the statement that the restrictions regarding the curfew on airports prove that airports are built in the wrong places? Is it not a fact that normally in Australia, apart from Mascot Airport, airports have been built and homes and industries have been built around Ihe airports after the airports have been constructed?
– I have nol read the “Australian’5 sub-editorial referred to but, as the honourable senator has said, there is no Senate select committee on aircraft noise. There is a select committee operating in the other place. There have been comments in the Press about things that have been said to the House of Representatives Select Committee, but we do not have any plans in the Department of Civil Aviation to change our present attitude towards flights within curfew hours. The point about airports all being built in the wrong place is a strange one because one of the problems with airports is that people who want to fly from place to place have to board aircraft and leave aircraft close to the place where they want to be or from which they want to leave. I do not see how we can avoid this.
– Can the Minister for Supply give us the latest information on the progress of Apollo XLII?
– I recognise that everybody will be most concerned at the dramatic circumstances relating to the return lo earth of the Apollo crew. The information which was handed to me a short lime ago is that at 9 o’clock this morning Ihe Apollo spacecraft was onethird of the way back from the moon and confidence has increased progressively that there will be a safe return to earth on Saturday morning at approximately 3 a.m., Australian eastern standard time. The spacecraft orbit is now suitable for a safe reentry at a time about 20 minutes different from the proposed time of orbit re-entry. This results from a correction in the course last evening. The critical angle of re-entry is about 7 degrees. On its present orbit the spacecraft will re-enter al about 6i degrees, which is within safe limits. There has been concern about the consumables in the spacecraft - water, oxygen, power and so on - but the steps which have been taken to counter any problems have been successful. At this stage, provided no further problems arise, the margin for the consumables is quite comfortable and safe. A small mid-course correction is scheduled for about 2.30 p.m. today. This will invlove a 15-second burn of the lunar landing module engine, which has been used in all the maneouvres since the event which caused the present critical situation.
– I desire to ask a question of ihe Minister for Air. Has the Department of Air rejected the F111C aircraft in a bid to get the more powerful and costly FU IF aircraft as well as the use of Phantom aircraft in the interim period if necessary? Has the Department based its opposition to the F111C on alleged shortcomings in Australia’s technical and operational capabilities, as is reported in this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’?
– The Department of Air has not rejected the FI 1 1C aircraft. In order to meet its requirements the Royal Australian Air Force has asked for certain modifications to the Fill. These include extension of the wing tips and reinforcement of the undercart
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I ask: Has the AttorneyGeneral’s attention been drawn to a statement which appeared in the South Australian Press to the effect that molotov cocktails are being made for the purpose of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign? ls k a fact that the statement which appeared in the Press is attributed to a responsible officer of a political party who has said that he has evidence to this effect? Can the Minister state whether the Attorney-General would consider that this statement warrants investigation by a Commonwealth authority? If so, is action being taken?
– I have not drawn the attention of the Attorney-General to this statement. My attention was drawn to it during the course of the debate last night on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I shall ensure that the AttorneyGeneral is advised of the news article to which reference has been made. I have no doubt that either the State or the Commonwealth police force will do its duty in accordance with the facts.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report on page 1 of today’s ‘Canberra Times’, which states that Commissioner J. B. Holmes of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in a judgment handed down on the application by certain trade unions for a public holiday to celebrate the Captain Cook bi-centenary, said thai he found it difficult to believe that Canberra would not proclaim a day to celebrate the Cook bicentenary? In view of the Commissioner’s a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse judgment, will the Government now act to give effect to the spirit of it?
– I have not seen this report on the first page of today’s ‘Canberra Times’, but I shall certainly direct the honourable senator’s query to the Minister in the other place.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: Does the Minister consider that the Government’s present policy of requiring rural municipalities to contribute towards the capital cost and upkeep of certain airfields in Australia is a fair policy? Does the Minister know of any city municipality which is called upon to make a similar contribution to support an airfield within its boundaries? Will the Minister reassess the present policy and attempt to provide some alleviation for this financial impost on rural municipalities?
– What Senator Webster is discussing is what is called the local ownership plan which has been taken up quite enthusiastically by a number of country towns, cities and municipalities. In many cases they have been able to make it a useful revenue exercise. There may be cases where it is not satisfactory. I do not know of these cases. I will be pleased to examine any case to which the honourable senator can direct my attention. I will have such cases looked into. But I can tell the honourable senator and the Senate that the system of local ownership, which involves the Commonwealth contributing 50% of the capital while the local people contribute a like amount - and maintenance costs are met on the same basis - is currently being re-examined over the whole Australian scene. This is being done, but I can also say that the system has been of benefit to many country areas. In many cases the local bodies have had substantial capital assets transferred to them and these have enhanced their financial position.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Is any examination being made by the Treasurer to provide for home buyers to enjoy concessional rates of interest on their home loans similar to those reported to be provided for people in rural industries? If not, will the Treasurer give the matter immediate consideration in view of the extra burden being placed on home buyers, both old and young, by the increased interest rate which has meant extra payments of up to S40 or S50 a year.
– 1 understand a statement has been issued to the effect that interest rates on home loans have lately been increased. The honourable senator refers to the exemption of primary industries from the recently increased bank interest rates. What he suggests in regard to home ownership would be a matter for Treasury consideration. 1 know of no proposal to grant special concessions to home buyers, although 1 do believe that it is intended that when interest rates are increased the period of repayment of these loans will be extended so that the impact of any increase will not be felt, in terms of actual money paid out, in each instalment period. But this does not answer the honourable senator’s question. He asks that home buyers should be given concessional interest rates. 1 will put his question to the Treasury. lt is a policy matter and I can do no more than refer it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities whose portfolio is connected with the Department of Trade and Industry. Is it not a fact that over 1. million people have attended the Australian pavilion at Expo 70 in Japan? Has the Minister received any indication at this early stage whether these visitors are merely sightseers or could there be great benefit both to trade and industry and the tourist industry because of our obviously very popular pavilion at Expo 70?
– The Department of Works takes great pride in the Australian pavilion at Expo 70 because it has been ranked by the Japanese Association of Architects as one of the first 6 pavilions at the exposition for attractiveness, novelty and forward design. We are very gratified at the numbers of people attending the pavilion but I have not been given any indication as to their thinking or as to any impressions they may have gained which would influence them to tour Australia or do business with Australia. I will advise the honourable senator when any such information comes to me.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, ls the statement appearing in today’s Press correct that Phantom aircraft would be available on a least- or a reimbursement basis and that such a lease would cost in the vicinity of $850,000 for each Phantom aircraft for 2 years? Should not the replacement be made in default of the delivery of the FI 1 1 aircraft ordered in L963? Will the Minister for Defence, during his time in the United States, shop around the American discount houses or used plane yards to see whether he can get a trade-in on the $200m equity that we have in the FI 11C aircraft?
– Discounting the flippancy at the end of the question and replying to the matters of substance, f point to the background of what was said here yesterday and what the Prime Minister said in another place to the effect that until the Minister for Defence returns to Australia and reports to the Government on his discussions in Washington with the Secretary of Defence and others, it is unreal to be making up hypothetical questions and expecting an answer of substance.
– We are reading these things in the Press.
– Then the Press is making up hypothetical questions too.
– Has the Minister representing the Attorney-General seen Press reports relating to our own Australian jockey Billy Pyers, at present living in France, who obviously is having great difficulties with the French courts over a traffic case which happened in France during 1 967 and has involved him in a gaol sentence and in numerous court appearances? Will the Minister request the Attorney-General immediately to contact the Australian office in Paris to ensure that every assistance is given to this Australian jockey who has been a good ambassador and who obviously is receiving a raw deal due to his lack of knowledge of French court procedure?
– Yes, at the instance of the honourable senator I shall direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the matter and ask him whether he considers that any action should be taken.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate will be aware that the Commonwealth and State officials committee on decentralisation was established at the 1964 Premiers conference. Was it the aim, in establishing this committee, that governments throughout Australia, particularly the Commonwealth Government, be encouraged to further assist the decentralisation of industry and the Australian population? Is the Minister aware of any one benefit which has flowed from the deliberations of the committee? Will the Minister consider a suggestion that a report of the committee’s activities and findings be presented to the Senate?
– I am aware that stemming from the Premiers Conference a decentralisation committee was created and is now in existence,I am not aware of the substance of the committee’s deliberations. I will have the question examined to see whether it would be a good thing at this time to have a report of the commiitee’s activities tabled in the Senate.
– In directing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport 1 refer to an answer I received to a question on notice concerning the passage of oil tankers within the Barrier Reef area. The answer read as follows -
– I must read the previous answer to get the answer that I require to my present question.
– I am a little confused about this. Are you asking a question that you asked previously?
– No. I am asking a question arising out of the answer to a previous question. I cannot ask this one unless I give the substance of the answer to the previous one. That answer stated:
Investigations into this matter have been carried out, and it is possible Tor tankers to use routes that avoid the Great Barrier Reef area to a large extent. However, such routes generally involve considerable extra steaming distances and are therefore commercially unattractive.
Am I to understand from that answer that the commercial interests of oil companies are to be placed before the interests of the future of the Great Barrier Reef? If not, what action does the Government intend to take to protect the Great Barrier Reef in this direction?
– The answer the honourable senator quoted, of course, was supplied to me by the Minister for Shipping and Transport in another place. I will need to direct this further query to the Minister. I believe that the comment relating to the commercial aspects of this matter have to be considered in the context of the first part of the answer, which stated that action was proceeding to examine this matter and to see what could be done. I understand the situation to be that it is possible for tankers to pass quite safely through certain passage areas. I equally understand that other tankers are of such weight that they have to pass outside this area. I do not think it is for me in this place and at this moment to exercise my own individual judgment on what ought to be the commercial judgment of people who operate shipping and transport portfolios and vessels.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is there any truth in this morning’s Press and radio reports that the Government has decided to withdraw the Sth Battalion from Vietnam in August or earlier and also that the present Army training team will be reorganised into a composite unit and used for training South Vietnamese men in one locality?
– I have not seen the article referred to. I would want to see it. I certainly do not know of any proposals which are available to me to give to the Senate at this time. In the circumstances the proper thing for the honourable senator to do is to put his question on the notice paper.
– Idirect a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Commonwealth Bank increased to 6.75% the interest rate on loans to home buyers? Are these loans made from savings bank deposits? ls it a fact that the interest rate paid on savings bank deposits has been increased to 5% on deposits of §4,000 or more and that deposits of less than $4,000 have not been the subject of an interest rate increase? Will loans made to home buyers from deposits of less than $4,000 attract the interest rate of 6.75%?
– I think it would be proper to obtain a comprehensive reply to the honourable senator’s question. It is true, as he suggests, that there has been an increase in the home ownership interest rate. It is equally true that increased interest rates on money in savings banks have been announced. The honourable senator’s reference to a limitation or ceiling of $4,000 is true, as I understand the position. He then went on to ask another series of questions which I believe should properly be answered by the Treasurer. If the honourable senator puts them on the notice paper I would hope to be able to give a reply to them when next we meet. I think it would be quite wrong for me to give at question time an answer on a matter that is in another portfolio.
– Has the Minister for Air seen a report emanating from Washington that the Fraser mission to the United States leaves Americans confused as to what Australia really wants and that the Pentagon has made a major sacrifice in order to make Phantom F4Es available at short notice? Will the Minister agree that Australians are equally confused and concerned about what our Air Force wants and what our Air Force will get? Can the Minister tell us, as Minister for Air, irrespective of what the Minister for Defence might say upon his return to Australia, what we are going to get, whether the Air Force now wants the Phantom F4Es, the F111Cs, the F111Fs or any other type of aircraft as Australia’s strike reconnaissance aircraft?
– Both yesterday and today Senator Anderson and I have given the only answer which I think it is possible to give. But I remind the Senate that following the fatal crash of an FI IIA on 22nd December, all Fills were grounded. A little later this grounding order was relaxed for 7 aircraft on a restricted basis - for testing purposes only. Following this, 2 suggested recovery methods for ungrounding the aircraft were submitted to Australia, but no firm proposals were made. However, there was an indication that there would be a delay in the delivery date of these aircraft. Following the lack of information in these 2 cases, Senator Bishop asked me another question about the cost of parking the aircraft after they came ofl the assembly line in America, and at the time I said that we did not have the answer to that question. With all this information, or lack of it. Cabinet decided that the Minister for Defence would go to America to try to obtain some of the answers to these questions.
Yesterday a statement was issued in the name of the Australian Minister for Defence and the United States Secretary of Defence, Melvin R. Laird. The last paragraph of that statement said:
It Is understood that the Minister for Defence would be reporting to the Government the results of his exploratory- and I underline the word ‘exploratory’ - discussions, having ascertained the views of the United States Department of Defence on a number of issues.
Until we know what those issues are and the results of the discussions, neither Senator Anderson, who represents the Minister for Defence in this place, nor I can add any further comment.
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General able to say whether the committee of inquiry which was appointed by the AttorneyGeneral to consider the scope and adequacy of the appeal procedures available from administrative decisions of officers and instrumentalities has yet reported? If not, is the Minister able to give any indication of when the report of this committee might be expected?
– I have not any information to the effect that the committee has reported, but I will make an inquiry of the Attorney-General and ensure that tha honourable senator gets the latest information.
– Did the Acting Minister for External Affairs see in the Sydney Press on Sunday last a statement by Miss Anne Deveson drawing attention to an English newspaper article about the missing Australian journalist, Francis James, and staling ‘whilst James languishes in gaol, somewhere on the mainland of China, nobody in Australia seems to be doing much to help him’? I ask the Minister whether the Australian Government has made any inquiries as to Ihe whereabouts of Francis James? If not, will the Australian Government do so, and inquire on a governmenttogovernment basis in order to find what we can as to the whereabouts of this man? As Australia is now the fourth largest trader amongst the countries of the world with mainland China, I ask the Minister: Should we not be able to secure reliable information as to the whereabouts of this Australian journalist?
– Yes, I have some information about what is known of the whereabouts of Mr Francis James. It is amongst all the papers that I have with me. I will locate it and inform the honourable senator before the end of question time. If I cannot obtain the information before the end of question time, with the indulgence of the Senate I will make the information available later in the morning.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air and is related to the organisation within Australia in respect of the Fill aircraft. To what extent has the programme of capital works and ground support equipment necessary to operate the Fill been developed within Australia? What quantities of the necessary spare parts and associated equipment have been imported to date? Is this equipment already stored at Royal Australian Air Force installations? Will the Minister state the value of these items in relation to the total cost of the FI 1 1 aircraft?
– I can answer part of the honourable senator’s question. I think the remaining part of the question is contained in a question on notice in the name of Senator Turnbull. Part of the honourable senator’s question is the same as a question directed to me by
Senator Turnbull earlier in the sessional period. I gave Senator Turnbull a figure then that the total cost to date - that was to 28th February 1970 - for providing ground facilities at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley for the Fill, for the training of crews and for maintenance in the United States of America was $8.8ni. Of the total advised expenditure as at the same date for all stores and supplies for the Fill and for the purchase of the aircraft to that date, $ 194.7m had been paid.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that, to my knowledge, no announcement of the names of honourable senators who are to be members of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange has been made, can the Leader of the Government indicate whether the delay is caused by leaders of all Parties awaiting a reply from the Attorney-General to a question I asked some weeks ago as to whether or not it would be fit or proper for honourable senators serving on that Committee to be holders of shares and/or people who have any dealings in shares during the life of the Committee?
– I can indicate that in accordance with the normal procedures I have supplied to Mr President the names of the Government nominees for the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. I understand that other leaders have supplied the names of their nominees. My understanding of the situation is that possibly today Mr President will announce the names to the Senate.
– The names have been published already in the ‘Australian Financial Review’.
– I shall deal with the question. Any names appearing in a newspaper certainly were not supplied by me. J have no knowledge of the circumstances in which they were supplied to the Press. Senator Marriott raised a question as to the qualifications of honourable senators appointed to that Committee. I believe that this would be a matter for the judgment of the Parties and, to some extent, for the judgment of the person who accepted the responsibility of serving on the Committee. For my part - and I know this is the view of Senator Marriott and honourable senators on this side of the chamber - it would be singularly inappropriate for a person to sit on that Committee if he were a recognised operator or a dealer on the share market. But of course, it must be recognised that to buy shares is a normal business transaction. Everybody has the right to do that in the normal way. However, it would seem to me to be singularly inappropriate for a person classified as a dealer in shares to be a member of the Select Committee.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Air been drawn to a Press report which appeared in today’s Melbourne Age’ that Mr McEwen, the Minister for Trade and Industry, told Victorian Country Party members not to ‘squeal like stuck pigs’ and threatened ‘to get on my plane and go back to Canberra’? Does the Minister consider that the use of a VIP aircraft for travel to a Party conference to endeavour to placate angry delegates is a proper use of a VIP aircraft by a Minister of the Crown?
– I have seen the report referred to by the honourable senator, but before I would comment on it I would prefer to wait and find out what took place at the conference. Mr McEwen was granted the use of a VIP aircraft under the normal procedures determined by the regulations relating to VIP aircraft.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On what basis does he form his judgment and opinion that a person who buys and sells shares on the slock exchange would not be entitled to serve or should not serve on the Select Committee which is to deal with activities of the stock exchange? In the light of the view he has expressed, how docs he justify the fact that parliamentarians holding primary producing properties very often receive the benefit of legislation granting them taxation concessions far transcending anything available to persons dealing on the stock exchange?
On what basis was his opinion formed? How does he justify the situation of parliamentarians holding properties used in primary industry who secure concessions through the Parliament?
– 1 offered a personal view and 1 do not have to justify it. I maintain my personal view. I was very careful to make a distinction between a person I termed a dealer and a person who buys shares. In the present speculative climate, I suppose the only people who do not buy shares are Ministers of State. In referring to a dealer, I am talking in terms of a trader. All I can say now to Senator Wood is that I have expressed a personal view. I am not dictating government policy. I do not think it is a matter of national importance to give an explanation of my personal view.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate convey to whoever is responsible for the arrangement of deliberations by the Senate Select Committee which will inquire into share dealings, that the Opposition has never suggested that senators serving on the Committee to be established should be disqualified if they have bought, sold or dealt in shares? The Opposition would seek to have appointed to the Committee persons with practical experience, ls the Minister aware that persons serving on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission had had great practical experience before their appointment? I think the first Chairman of the United States Commission was Joseph Kennedy. Some said this was following the principle of Greek meeting Greek or that it takes someone to catch someone - whatever it may be - but nothing has been done on this side which would suggest that persons who dealt in the market-
– Order! Is the Leader of the Opposition making a statement or asking a question?
– I ask the Minister whether he will give further consideration to this matter and to whether it is necessary that there be some determination by the Senate so that no senator sitting on such a committee would be in any doubt as to what he or she could do with propriety?
– I made it perfectly clear in my response that I knew of no circumstance in which it had become a matter of government policy. I made it equally clear that so far as I was concerned I was expressing a personal view. I thought 1 made it perfectly clear that I believed it was up to a person who chose to sit on the committee to make a personal judgment. Perhaps 1 was unwise to offer a personal view at question time but 1 am stuck with it and I still believe that.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he is aware of the concern of the South Australian Exporters Association Incorporated about the disadvantage its members suffer through lack of a direct international air cargo service out of Adelaide. On the opening of Tullamarine Airport and any possible contingent redirection of international air routes across the continent, will consideration be given to the inclusion of Adelaide in order to allow South Australia at least one through service to the United Kingdom and the United States of America and one through service to Asia, on a weekly basis, as is enjoyed by some other States?
– 1 certainly shall take this matter up. I do not know what I can do about it. As I listened to the honourable senator it seemed to me that it was a suggestion of some merit. 1 suppose it is very much bound up with the amount of traffic that a carrier could pick up and therefore make that part of his business pay. The idea appealed to me as I listened to it and I shall investigate and do what I can to help.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Did the Minister note the radio report this morning that one of Australia’s largest teachers organisations has announced that it will not intervene on behalf of any teacher suspended for advocating the Moratorium to pupils under his charge? Does the Minister agree with the spokesman for this teachers organisation who says that the policy of the union is that teachers have the right to their private political opinions but they have no right to import those opinions into the class room?
– I am indebted to the honourable senator for drawing my attention to the statement, which seems to me to be very valid. With the latter part of the statement to which he referred, I certainly agree.
– My question, relating to the proposed Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, is addressed to the Leader of the Opposition. I asked a question some weeks ago as to whether it would be proper and/or wise for members of the Senate Select Committee, which he moved to have set up, to hold shares and deal in them during the proceedings of the Committee? As I know that my colleague, the Minister for Works, who represents the Attorney-General in this place, has made strenuous efforts to obtain an answer to my question, and as I know that the Attorney-General is making inquiries, would it not indicate that there is some grey area of doubt in respect of this? Therefore, in fairness to all honourable senators concerned, would the Leader of the Opposition agree wilh me that it would be preferable that no names of members of the Committee be announced until this Senate is advised by the Attorney-General as to his opinion?
– Order ! lt is not the practice to forbid this type of question, so if Senator Murphy is prepared to answer it he may do so.
– I think I can answer the question. In the first place I would say that this is lifting the edge of the carpet, on a very important question as to what limitations should be placed upon the rights not only of members of a committee but also of members of Parliament in other transactions. It is important that there be some clear definition of the extent to which a member should be limited in the activities which he could otherwise undertake as a private citizen. However, I believe that: this is a question really for the chamber to determine. 1 do not think the answer to this question should be given by the AttorneyGeneral. Apart from his drawing attention to relevant decisions and so forth for our information I think it is not desirable that somebody outside this chamber be appealed to as if what he said were definitive of the question.
Legislative chambers should make up their own minds and lay down their own standards on these matters. 1 would not think that any view of die Attorney-General should be conclusive on this matter. However, I believe that we should begin to define some standards in these matters. Senator Wood has referred to the position of those with interests in, say, primary industry who arc directly affected by the legislation which is passed by this chamber relating to taxation concessions and so forth. Should there be some standard by which such persons should not participate in the voting on such questions? I would agree that all these matters could be given some consideration.
In answer to the specific question that Senator Marriott asked as to whether the names should not be revealed until the Attorney-General had given his answer, I think no. The names of the Opposition members are already available. I do not know whether they have been directly communicated to the President, but if in the light of all this the President will not think I am discourteous I might indicate that the Opposition has selected its members by election, the members being Senator Georges. Senator Wheeldon and Senator Wriedt. We think there is no reason why those persons should not sit on the Committee. I have no doubt that whoever has been appointed by the Democratic Labor Party and by the Government will act with the propriety that the Senate would expect. We will have complete confidence in the ability and integrity of those who are appointed, whether or not they hold shares and whether or not they should buy or sell shares.
– I was asked a question earlier, I think by Senator Fitzgerald, about Mr Francis James, a journalist who was last reported to be overseas. Mr James was last seen travelling by train from Canton to the Hong Kong border on 4th November 1969 but is not recorded as having entered Hong Kong. Current inquiries have failed to disclose any trace of Mr James. A formal request for information about his present whereabouts has been made to Chinese authorities by the British Charge d’Affaires in Peking, but no reply has been received. Information will continue to be sought through any channels which might lead to some definite information as to his whereabouts and well being.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. By way of preface I refer to the present hubbub in the United States over an appointment to the United States Supreme Court. When the Commonwealth Government makes an appointment to the High Court does a precedent exist that an appointee must assure the Government that he has no extensive share interests, or is it taken for granted that the person concerned will do the right thing?
– Appointments to the judiciary proceed by communication from the Attorney-General to the appointee concerned. Appointments are a matter of honour in this country. I do not know of any exception to the observance of the principle that any consideration of interest which may affect the appointment is automatically advanced by the appointee. The appointment would proceed on the basis of the absence of any contrary interests.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Air. In answer to a previous question the Minister informed me that the Department of Air had requested extension of the wing tips and alteration to the undercarriage of the F111C aircraft. Was this request accepted by the company in the United States of America which is manufacturing and supplying this aircraft?
– Yes, of course it was. The F111C aircraft’s wing tips are now 7 ft longer and it has a much stronger undercart than the other Fill aircraft.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and relates to the qualifications of honourable senators who accept appointment to the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. Does the Minister feel that wisdom would suggest that no honourable senator should be prohibited from membership of the Committee because he holds or trades in securities on the official or unofficial stock exchanges of Australia? Does the Minister feel that wisdom would suggest that any honourable senator who accepts membership of the Committee should declare to the Senate or to the President of the Senate in confidence his present holdings or financial interests in any public company whose shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Australia? Further, does the Minister feel that members of the Committee should use discretion in their personal participation in the questioning of witnesses where it may be construed that they have conflicting interests?
– Earlier in question time I made known to the Senate my personal view. I do not want to add to it. I believe it is a matter within the judgment of the person concerned. 1 have my own personal view. J accept without reservation the point which was made by Senator Murphy.I believe that any honourable Senator who accepts the responsibility of membership of the Committee would act with propriety. It is for him or her to make a judgment as to whether any shareholding he or she may have should be indicated in some way at the Committee level itself. By stating my own personal view I have touched off a series of supplementary questions, which only goes to show that a person in my position has to be most careful about offering personal views. Nevertheless, I still hold to the view I expressed.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air and relates to the financial arrangements between Australia and the United States of America in connection with the F1ll aircraft. Can the Minister advise the Senate of the current position in relation to the payments which are due to the United States in connection with the project? What are Australia’s further commitments? What temporary arrangements have been made in connection with Australia’s further commitments?
– I have informed the honourable senator of the payments which were made up to 28th February of this year in regard to the whole Fl 1 1 project. I understand that on 22nd March a further payment of $US345,000 was made. 1 understand further that three other payments totalling an estimated $US4.9m are due on or before 30th June of this year.
(Question No. 195)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
In the light of the figures quoted by the Minister at the opening of Endeavour Hostel.. New South Wales, which disclosed a housing capability of 8,500 persons under the new accommodation complex, what is the amount of residual accommodation available in other types of hostel facility.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
At the end of March, 1970, the residual active accommodation in other types of hostel facility had a capacity for 15,924 persons. This latter figure is reducing progressively us new buildings in progress become available.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - The President has received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Acting Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives appointing members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Leader of the Government in the Senate has appointed Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, Senators Sim, Buttfield and Maunsell. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has appointed Senators Drury, Bishop and Wheeldon. The Acting Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party has appointed Senator McManus. The Prime Minister has appointed Mr Donald Cameron, Sir John Cramer, Mr Fairbairn, Mr McLeay, Mr Street, Mr Turner, Mr Katter and Mr Calder. The Leader of the
Opposition in the House of Representatives has appointed Mr Bryant, Mr Cohen, Mr Cross, Mr Kirwan, Mr Morrison and Mr Reynolds.
– 1 move:
The regulations 8 and 12 of the amendments of the Naval Financial Regulations, as contained in Statutory Rules 1969, No. 13S, and made under the Naval Defence Act 1910-1968, be disallowed.
The Senate will recall that on Thursday, 12th March, I gave notice of this motion and, in doing so, mentioned that the Committee was concerned about certain aspects of these regulations, but at that point of time had not had an opportunity to examine them closely. The Committee has now conducted an inquiry into the circumstances of these regulations and has prepared a report which will bc available for tabling in the Senate this evening, together with the evidence taken from departmental witnesses.
In the Committee’s view these regulations grant to the Naval Board a wide power of discretion in determining the rights of naval personnel and do not set down any criteria to guide the Naval Board in its determination. This is one of the principles on which the Committee has operated for many years. It is one of the principles which the Committee looks upon as important. Some criteria should be set down by which people will know how judgments can be made. The Committee heard the evidence and gave due consideration to it, and that has led to the motion that I have proposed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Anderson) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Wood) agreed to:
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for Thursday, 7th May 1970.
– I move:
This motion has been before the Committee for some time. It has caused a debate as to postponements but there have been circumstances which the Committee was prepared to try to meet, and as a result of the actions of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) and the Minister concerned a Bill has now been introduced in another place. There is no doubt that when the Bill becomes law, as [ believe it will when both Houses approve it, it will take over where these regulations really commenced.
In proposing this motion let me say that the Committee is not concerned with the policy of the regulations. It is the Committee’s duty to scrutinise all regulations to ensure (a) that they are in accordance with the statute, and (b) that they are confined to administrative detail and do not contain matters more appropriate to substantive legislation. The Committee is opposed to the regulations because, firstly, it is doubtful whether they are properly authorised under the regulation making power of the statute and, therefore, whether they are in accordance with the relevant statutes; and secondly, apart from any previous regulation which may have been issued under the regulation making power of the statute the provision of this annual allowance is not an administrative detail. Rather it is an important innovation more appropriate to substantive legislation. I think that so far as this House is concerned it strikes a very important note.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. The Opposition supports the motion proposed by Senator Wood for the disallowance of these regulations on the grounds that the honourable senator has spelled out. I do not want to delay the business of the Senate but I think it is important to express the view that we have which is in agreement wilh the view that Senator Wood has just put. As I mentioned some few days ago when we were giving consideration to this matter in the Senate, there are 3 ways in which the purposes of the legislation could have been given effect. One was the process that was adopted by the Government, namely, making a regulation to cover the situation. Another one would have been to include the expenditure involved in the estimates for consideration during the debate on the Budget later in the year. The third one would have been to introduce substantive legislation.
Without canvassing again the possible weaknesses in the Acts themselves, particularly in section 124 of the Defence Act in respect of which there is some doubt as to the authority for making regulations under the Act for this purpose, we believe that the procedure adopted offends against one of the firmly held principles of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, namely, that a proposal of this kind ought to be given effect to by the introduction of substantive legislation and nol by the making of a regulation, which was the procedure originally adopted.
We understand that the Government has now introduced substantive legislation to cover the situation. 1 understand that nobody will be disadvantaged by the decision that I hope the Senate will now take, namely, to disallow these regulations. I believe thai it should be made clear from our side of the chamber that we have no wish to deprive any people of anything to which they are properly entitled. There is no argument from this side of the chamber as to the reasonableness of providing for allowances of this kind to be made available in the manner suggested because, in fact, it is in conformity wilh procedures that are followed now in respect of First Division public servants.
There is no point in labouring this mailer, except to say thai we agree that these are principles that we must uphold. 1 would have thought that by now these principles would have been pretty well recognised by the lawmaking authorities, the draftsmen and so on. Perhaps we have not made our views in this area clear enough. Maybe an opportunity to do so will be given shortly in connection with the introduction of a new drafting procedure about which no doubt we will hear more later. Matters of this kind should be dealt with by substantive legislation. The Opposition is pleased to note that the Government has now seen the wisdom of this move and, in fact, has taken steps to introduce substantive legislation. There seems to be no point in arguing against the principles that have been put to the Senate by Senator Wood. The regulations as they now stand ought to be disallowed. Accordingly, we support the motion.
– We had a discussion on this issue last Thursday. I think it was. At that time the Senate chose to defer the matter until this Thursday. Let me say at the outset that I am conscious of the fact that under the provision which stales that action must be taken within 15 sitting days the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is running out of time for disallowance. As 1 understand the mathematics of the matter, the time would run out next Tuesday, which would be a sitting day. 1 want to make it clear that I am not unmindful of the almost cleft stick type of situation in which the Regulations and Ordinances Committee may well be.
But, having said that, I revert to a comment made by Senator Devitt about seeing the wisdom of the situation. Let us have a look at the wisdom of the proposition that 1 arn putting to the Senate, lt is not new. 1. dealt with it in some substance last Thursday. Senator Wood and Senator Davitt have given the classic reasons for disallowance. I do not think we need to argue about them. They are based on whether action should be taken by legislative enactment or by regulation. Senator Wood and Senator Devitt consider that in this instance action should be taken by legislative enactment. I will not argue the substance of that beyond saying that the Department of Defence, the Attorney-General’s Department and the draftsmen believe that there is no question of the validity of the regulations. Whether it is appropriate to take action in this instance by one means or the other is the subject of a decision of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. The Government depends upon its legal advisers in its drafting procedures, and they do not think that there is any argument about the validity of what they have done. But the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Senate might well lake the view that they believe it should have been done by legislation.
The Government recognises the implications in the motion for disallowance of the regulations, which has been moved by Senator Wood, and, as a result of my representations, the Government set about the task of introducing a Bill into the Parliament. It has drafted a Bill and it has introduced the Bill into the other place. I had hoped that the Bill would have passed through the other place and that it would have come to the Senate by way of a message and then, of course, it would have been a much simpler proposition. The Senate could have dealt with the Bill, the Committee would have achieved what it thought was the proper procedure, and we could have gone on our way rejoicing. But for a variety of reasons, over which we in this place have no control, the Bill has been delayed in the other place, and I will not dwell on the reasons for the procedural problems which have arisen.
Senator Devitt referred to the wisdom of the situation. What is the wisdom in disallowing the regulations today and possibly, on Tuesday next, passing a Bill which will do the filings which the Committee wants to do? That does not appear to me to be a very logical approach to the matter. I think we all recognise the fact it may well happen that we cannot deal with the Bill by Tuesday next, because we will not receive the message until Tuesday next, but there is no reason why the Bill will not come to the Senate. The important point 1 want to make is that when the Bill conies here, the Senate will have the right to look at the merits and substance of the Bill. If the Senate says: We do not think that the Bill meets the situation because it contains a provision which Will come into effect only when the Bill receives royal assent and we think thai is not immediate; therefore in the meantime the regulations are current’, it is competent for the Senate to say: ‘All right, we are going to amend the Bill. We are going to send it back to the other place with an amendment or, if it is an appropriation Bill, with a request.’ I do not think that we do ourselves justice, and I do not think that we do justice to our status or to the status of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee when we start pinpricking about a matter on the basis of having won a victory in a matter of judgment, then hammer the point home in this way, knowing that the Senate, in its wisdom, can pass the Bill as soon as it is received here by way of a message.
That is how I feel about the matter, and 1 think that we ought to give consideration to the proposition of not disallowing the regulations. Of course, if the Senate decides to disallow the regulations, well, I have to live with that decision, and in those circumstances 1 make this point, which is important: I know that there arc difficulties regarding the consideration of the Bill in another place, but if some members of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee have seen the Bill which has been introduced in the other place and if they have the feeling that it will not meet their basic objections, then for heaven’s sake let us get those objections on the record, because lor i he last 24 hours I have been trying to obtain some indication of what might be considered to be difficulties in the Bill, lt seems lo me that perhaps some members of the Committee may have the feeling in their hearts and the thought at the back of their minds that the Bill will not be much good to them. If that is the position let us, with the indulgence of the Chair, have a debate in which members of the Committee can put down some of the reasons why they do not like the Bill.
– Is it a Bill?
– It is a document which has been circulated in the Parliament. The honourable senator can obtain a copy of it. I know that some members of the Committee have seen it. I would like io know the Opposition’s attitude to the poposed legislation. It is important to mc to know that. I do not want to be faced with the prospect, when dealing wilh the Bill, of suddenly being confronted with amendments. 1 would like to know in advance what the amendments are likely to be. The Bill is not a political one. It may well be that some agreement could be arrived at in relation to proposed amendments.
– What procedure do you suggest at this stage for debating the proposed Bill?
– At this stage I cannot suggest any procedures. I have to seek the indulgence of the Chair. I speak in deference to you, Mr Deputy President. Somebody may say that the Bill would not be any good anyway. I know, and we all know, that one of the provisions of the Bill is that it will come not into effect when it receives the royal assent, lt will not come into effect immediately. Therefore the regulations will continue until such time as the Bill receives royal assent. Senator Devitt queried the validity of the allowances if the regulations are disallowed. That problem could be overcome by including in the proposed Bill a clause which makes retrospective provision for the appropriations under the regulations. That could ease the concern of some honourable senators. It would have the other effect, which is important, of tending to cover any hiatus between the time when the regulations are disallowed and when the Bill comes into operation. Other possibilities could be canvassed.
At this point I appeal to the Senate to exercise its judgment. I do not want the Senate to divide on the matter. I want to capture the true spirit of the discussion. In the circumstances it would seem to me to be quite safe to adopt the approach that 1 suggest. The message about disallowance of regulations has gone home loud and clear. I do not think we should enforce the disallowance. We should await the Bill, which has been presented in the other place. It will come to us by message as soon as the other place has disposed of it. If the Bill was not acceptable to honourable senators opposite, they could propose amendments. I certainly would look at the Bill in the meantime to try to accommodate any possible amendments.
– As Senator Devitt indicated, the Opposition will support the motion to disallow the regulations. It seems to me that some matters of great principle arc involved in the motion. Under the Constitution, the legislative power of the Commonwealth is vested in Parliament. We exercise that power by the passage of Bills. Under the Constitution it is permissible to delegate that legislative power to other bodies or persons. The practice of providing in legislation for delegation of that legislative power to Ministers or to the Governor-General has grown. At the same time laws have been enacted to ensure that the delegated power is kept under strict supervision. Under the Acts Interpretation Act either House may disallow regulations or ordinances which are delegated legislation. Certain procedures are laid down for such disallowance. The Senate has adopted standards as to what should be observed in exercising the delegated power of legislation. Those standards have existed for some decades. I inform the Senate that the standards have been adopted by the Opposition. The Australian Labor Party at its last conference, in 1969, adopted those standards. Part of the platform of the Labor Party now is:
AM delegated legislation to be publicised and to be subject to disallowance by Parliament. Such legislation not to trespass on civil rights and liberties; not to make the rights and liberties of citizens unduly dependent upon administrative and not judicial decisions; and to bc concerned wilh administrative detail and not matters of substance.
It is conceded that the legislation in question offends against the standards which have been adopted by the Senate.
– Do you mean the regulations? You said ‘the legislation.’
– Yes, the regulations - the delegated legislation. The regulations offend against that standard which has been adopted. If we insist upon the standards being maintained, it follows that the regulations should be disallowed. To answer what the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) had to say - that, because a Bill has been introduced in the other place, we should not proceed to disallow the regulations - I put this reply to him: The Bill has been introduced and it is a matter for consideration by Parliament as to whether or not we will pass that law. I do not know whether we will. It may not be passed for reasons other than the one mentioned by the Minister, which concerned the time at which it will take effect. I do not know whether we are prepared to accept the policy enunciated in the Bill. We may be and we may not. If the Bill is passed by the House of Representatives, if it is presented here and if we reject it - which is our prerogative; we may or may not want to provide allowances for these persons - what is the position should we not have disallowed the regulations? The regulations continue to operate.
It seems clear to me that once the Senate is of the opinion that a regulation offends against the standards which have been set up, it should be disallowed. I should think that only in some very grave emergency or in some very special situation would a departure from that approach be permitted. The standards have been adopted for many years. They should be well known by those in the departments who are responsible for the making of the delegated legislation. The standards should be observed. If they are not observed and if they are broken, I do not see why the Senate should bend over backwards to allow the regulations to continue and in effect to give the message that it does not matter if the standards which have been set out and which are well known are broken because if they are broken the Senate will not worry but will wait until the matter is adjusted by the introduction of some kind of legislation. It is important that the standards be observed.
The Regulations and Ordinance Committee has done a marvellous job on behalf of the Senate and on behalf of the nation. Its importance is not merely in the reports tabled here, which allow us to act for the disallowance of regulations, but in the fact that the Committee is there, that the departments know what the Senate will do and that information travels back through the departments. Those who are responsible for the delegated legislation know that they have to observe certain standards. I do not think we should allow these clear breaches of the standards to be passed over. The more resolute we are in insisting upon observance of the standards, the more certain we are of observance of the standards at the point where the regulations are made. For those reasons I suggest that the Senate adopt the motion moved by Senator Wood.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the motion emanating from the Regulations and Ordinance Committee to disallow these regulations. The circumstances are particularly unfortunate and especially so for the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), who is really the innocent party in this matter, lt is unfortunate that this step of moving to disallow the regulations is deemed necessary. These regulations deal with 1 or 2 matters which are always considered of prime importance in the operation of subordinate legislation. Where individual rights are involved, Parliament is always particularly jealous that protection shall rest within the ambit of Parliament itself. The second sphere of particular interest is the appropriation of public revenue for any purpose. The Parliament always jealously regards and protects its sole right to the supervision of thai power. This regulation falls into the second category. Undoubtedly the purport of the regulation is that it has been found desirable, prudent and just that the high ranking officers of the armed Services who are involved should be entitled to the allowances to the degree suggested in the regulation. lt would be unfortunate if any action of ours were to deprive them, even temporarily, of what has now been considered and acknowledged as their just entitlement.
Nevertheless, there is implicit in the whole situation something much more important than that. I refer to the question of the power and rights of the Parliament itself and the abdication of those rights into subordinate hands. The unfortunate position is that, the report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee came in and no early action was taken by the Government to meet the situation, as has now been taken. 1 can understand the Minister seeking the solicitude of the Senate in the particular circumstance, but I would have said what Senator Murphy has said. After all, the remedial legislation which has been presented in another place is not formally before this chamber. We would be asking the Senate to take formal action to abandon the motion for disallowance in the light of a merely informal presentation of prospective legislation before another place. I cannot conceive that we would be acting in the interests of the Senate, or even acting P..0.perly, if we were to take that into our consideration in forming an attitude on this matter other than an attitude which would deny that regulation.
As Senator Murphy has said, nobody knows what will be the fate of the Bill in another place, or even what will be its fate here. On the face of the Bill, it is a simple one. I have secured a copy of the Bill presented in the House of Representatives. But we can imagine another situation in which a complex regulation is involved, requiring complex remedial action and legislation and a great deal of study to determine whether in fact every aspect was covered which had been considered objectionable by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. If the Senate were faced with that situation, could we rest on the assurance, however well presented and however much we would like to meet it, of the Minister that in substantial terms the proposed legislation would meet all the complex objections of the Committee in a complex situation? I do not think we would be entitled to do that. 1 do not wish unduly to prolong this debate. I consider that the Senate is acting properly. At the moment we have an audience of young people in the gallery. They are witnessing a situation in which the power of Parliament is being exerted and Parliament is being lifted to its correct position in relation to the Executive. To that extent it may rest in the minds of these young people that they have witnessed an occasion when Parliament has asserted its position as the representative of the people. In all the circumstances I am happy that the motion should be carried and the regulation should be disallowed
– I am taking the opportunity to speak in this debate as a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and at the invitation of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) to discuss this matter, lt has become obvious how the vote will go on the motion and further discussion may in that case seem unnecessary. However, I would like to say that 1 was a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee during the life of the previous Parliament and 1 am a member of that Committee in the new Parliament. If I have been impressed by any one feature of the work of the Committee it has been the extent to which the Committee has been prepared to go from time to time to try to lit in and to meet necessary remedial action by discussions with Ministers and departmental officers, by calling witnesses from departments and from time to time by calling the Parliamentary draftsmen.
Every effort has been made to meet the requirements of departments in an attempt to overcome objectionable features of subordinate legislation we have considered. Regulations are operative from the time of gazettal until their disallowance or the time that something takes their place. The payment that the Committee believes is not proper to be made under regulation has been made since last December in a manner which, in the Committee’s view, is not proper. There is involved the question of the power of the Governor-General to make the regulation. If on testing the opinion that the Committee has formed is found to be correct, it will not mean that there has been illegal payment as the payment is legal until such time as it is tested.
– The question of legality is very doubtful.
– I am submitting that. 1 am saying that whilst the Committee has the power and one of its charters is to see that the regulations are within the power of the regulating legislation, I do not think the Committee is the body to decide on the legality of regulations. On legal advice the Committee has some doubts as to whether it was within the power of the Governor-General to make such a regulation. The Committee mentioned its doubts, but they are not the factor which would determine whether the regulation is legal. I understand that the Minister has been advised and is confident that the Act contains the power to make the regulation. But it is 3 weeks since notice of disallowance was submitted to this chamber. Discussions have been held with the Minister and we were concerned that nothing was done.
– In one of those weeks Parliament was not in session.
– It may well be longer than 3 weeks since this matter was submitted. The fact that Parliament is not in session does not stop a department from arranging the legislation or starting a move to get over the objections of the Committee. But we heard nothing until last week, when I believe a Bill dealing with this question was introduced in the other House to overcome the problem. I have read that Bill. It seems to me to be worded to the effect that the officers covered by this regulation will be paid a wage and allowance as decided by Parliament. But the notable thing is that there is no appropriation to pay the increase envisaged in the regulation and the point arises of how payment is to be made until the appropriation is provided. There is no question of retrospectivity in the legislation.
The Committee had to consider the alternative possibilities. If no decision is made on the motion for disallowance of the regulation it will go out of operation automatically, as a regulation, as from Tuesday of next week. If the Senate disallows the regulation, it becomes inoperative from the time of disallowance and has no more validity or effect from that time. Alternatively, if we want the regulation to apply until the Act of Parliament comes into operation there is no alternative but to withdraw the motion for disallowance and to permit the regulation to continue. Then there would be no need for an Act of Parliament and we would have defeated the purpose of the Committee. So it is clear that the Committee had the alternatives of proceeding with the matter, adjourning it until Tuesday, or allowing it to die through effluxion of time. Committee members thought that it would not be in keeping with their responsibility if they simply let the matter die out. They have to demonstrate that they are taking note of these things and are the watchdogs of the democratic operation of Parliament and the rights of the people. They were faced with the question whether to deal wilh this matter today or next Tuesday. Whatever happens the legislation cannot become law by next Tuesday. As has been said, there were 3 adjournments of the debate on the disallowance of these regulations by the Senate. The Senate was condemned last Thursday because it did not go on with the disallowance motion.
– The Senate decided not to go on with the disallowance motion.
– lt was the
Senate’s decision last Thursday. The Committee was under criticism by some honourable senators for not proceeding. Such criticism must increase if we continue to adjourn this matter. The Committee had no alternative but to proceed with the disallowance motion today and acted accordingly. The loyal and capable Chairman of the Committee had no alternative to the action he took today. There is very little alternative open to members of the Committee following the Committee’s decision. I might say that the action of the Committee was not unreasonable, lt has been very tolerant and very considerate of the Department on this question and every other question. There would appear to have been an ignoring or complete defiance of this Committee by this Department. I think the Committee was somewhat hostile to the attitude of the Department. We did not know what its attitude was. Right on the last day and at the last hour we found that legislation had been introduced. There was no approach made by the Department to the Committee to ascertain whether it would be prepared to do something upon receipt of certain guarantees from the Department.
– I spoke to the Chairman of the Committee, lt was not the Department which gave the information to the Committee. The Chairman and 1 have had negotiations. The honourable senator would appreciate that.
– I agree with what the Minister says. I have heard some report of the methods adopted. The Minister spoke to the Chairman. I thought that they had had some restricted and confidential talks. If 1 disclose all of my interpretation of the discussion between the Minister and the Chairman the Department may not come out of it very well.
– J do not know what the honourable senator means by that remark. If he is suggesting that 1 blackguarded the Department to the Chairman I assure him that I have never done that.
– I am not saying that that happened. There were discussions between the Minister and the Chairman. As a result the members of the Committee were of the opinion that the Department was not hurrying this matter in an effort to get over the impasse that had occurred. That is the position today. No-one can deny that the Committee has been very tolerant and desirous of finding a solution to the matter. J would say definitely that the Department has not been co-operative.
Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) ( I 1 .40] - I rise to support the proposal for the disallowance of these regulations. I do so because as a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee I am persuaded, for the reasons set out in the 27th report of the Committee which have been summarised by Senator Cavanagh and speakers who preceded him, that these regulations offend in 2 respects against the criteria which the Committee has to determine how it performs its functions. I think there is an issue as to the appropriate relationship between the Committee and the Senate. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee has been in existence for approximately 40 years. Over that time it has achieved a reputation which’, in the ordinary course, gives a certain respect to its procedures. But the Committee is a servant of the Senate which has appointed it. The Senate, if it had the time, would attend to the job done by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, which is to scrutinise every regulation tabled in this place. It is prudent for a committee to undertake this work for the Senate because of the time factor. This is what the Committee has done.
When the Regulations and Ordinances Committee reports to the Senate, through its Chairman, that a particular regulation should be disallowed, in my opinion it is asserting that there is a prima facie case that the regulation offends against the criteria which the Committee has before it. lt is then for the Senate to do what it considers appropriate in the circumstances. The overall function of the Senate is not to disallow regulations; it is to perform its functions as one of the two chambers of the legislature.
As 1 see it, when a recommendation for the disallowance of a regulation is before the Senate, having regard to the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act there are only 3 alternatives which may be followed in respect of that regulation. The first is that it may be withdrawn by the proposer by leave of the Senate. The second is that no action may be taken, and, if no action is taken, then the Acts Interpretation Act requires that after a period of 15 sitting days the regulation shall be deemed to be disallowed. The third course is for the Senate to debate the motion for the disallowance of the regulation.
In my opinion it is not a proper course for the Senate simply to allow a regulation to remain on the notice paper and for the regulation to be disallowed by the effluxion of time. There may, on occasions, be matters which make that the prudent course but they would be exceptional matters. As a general rule I should have thought that the Senate should deliberate upon the issue before it. This would be fair not only to the legislature but also to the Executive which put up the regulation. There may be circumstances of course, whereby the matter is rectified speedily and it would be appropriate for leave of the Senate to be sought to have the recommendation for disallowance withdrawn. But normally it should be a matter for the Senate to take upon itself the question of determining whether the regulation should be disallowed. That is the position which has arisen in this case. I remind the Senate that it was on 23rd September 1969 that the 27th report dealing with these particular regulations was first presented to the Senate. This matter has been on the Senate notice paper on 3 occasions. We must remember that the Parliament was prorogued for a period. It is a matter for some regret on this particular-
– The matter came off the notice paper because of the prorogation, of course.
– I accept what the Minister for Supply says. The prorogation took it off the notice paper. Then, under the Acts Interpretation Act, for the Committee to pursue its point, the matter had to be put on the notice paper again. As I recall, it was put on again on the 25th November and again on 3rd March.
– So strictly speaking it is only the period from 3rd March to date which is in issue.
– In a technical sense I must concur with the Leader of the Government. In terms of notice to those people who may be concerned about what is involved, notice has been available for a period of over 6 months. I can only say that if the legislation which has been introduced into the House of Representatives had been before this Senate and the Senate had had an opportunity to examine it and to canvass whether it met the objections which had been placed before the Senate by its own Committee, the matter would have been resolved. If this recommendation was still on the notice paper presumably at that time there would be no concern as to its fate. But that has not happened. If the Senate is persuaded that a regulation is beyond power or is not a good one for some other reason, then I do not think it is right to allow it to remain in operation merely in the expectation that a legislative measure designed to overcome the objections of the Committee may or may not be passed in the future. 1 think it is appropriate either that new legislation satisfactory to the Committee be promulgated or that legislation overcoming the objection be passed. Whilst this is not so much a matter for the Committee as for the Senate, as a member of the Senate I feel that that is an appropriate course to follow.
In this particular case where these regulations are about to be disallowed, the legislation which has been introduced into the House of Representatives certainly meets the objection which the Committee had that these matters are more appropriate for legislative enactment than for introduction by regulation. But even that creates some problems, as Senator Cavanagh has pointed out. The prospective legislation in its present form merely enacts that Parliament shall provide what the allowances shall be and leaves it for some appropriation in the near future or at a later date to give effect to the provision and to specify, if the Appropriation Act does so specify, what the amount of the allowances shall be. I should have thought in those circumstances, if the payments which are made by the regulations are to continue to be made to the Chiefs of Staff, that those payments would have to depend for their authority on this regulation. If the Senate is of the view that this regulation ought to be disallowed then I do not feel that for the sake of making these payments to the Chiefs of Staff the regulation should be retained in force.
The only other matter to which 1 would refer is the question of what should be the Senate’s approach to a recommendation from this Committee that a regulation is not in accordance with the statute. Reference hits been made to the fact that this is a legal question. There is no doubt that only a court of law can determine whether a regulation has validity in the sense that it is validly made under a statute. Nevertheless the Senate has an obligation with regard to regulations because many of the regulations which are passed may never come before a court of law to have their validity passed upon. When the Regulations and Ordinances Committee was first established it was regarded as of prime concern that the first matter for the Committee to look at was whether regulations were in accordance with a statute. So the Senate did expect the Committee to pass some judgment on this question. In the case which we have before us of the Chiefs of Staff regulations the Committee was of the view that although legal opinions will vary, these regulations were not within power.
– You are entitled to do that for the purposes of disallowance by the Senate.
– That is a straight examination and reasons are expressed to the Senate as to why the Committee has that view. I think it is perfectly proper for the Committee to express the view and I should think that it would be an imprudent committee which did not conceive of the possibility that it might be wrong. We find, on the other hand, that the Minister introducing the projected legislation in the other place has said that the Government’s legal advisers are quite satisfied that the regulations are within power. There is, therefore, a conflict. The Committee was concerned and this was one reason why the adjournment was sough; last week - to enable the Committee to consider this aspect. In the way in which the Committee proceeds, its own legal adviser was consulted and he expressed a view which coincided with the view that had been expressed by the Committee. 1 think the Committee in those circumstances is entitled to feel fortified in the view which it expresses to the Senate, that the doubtful validity of the regulation is something which the Senate should take into account, particularly for the period after the projected legislation which has been introduced in (he other place has been carried until an appropriation is made, assuming, of course, that the legislation is carried in its present form.
– Did I understand the honourable senator to say that the Committee’s own legal adviser expressed a view?
– I did mention the Committee’s own legal adviser and. lest some conclusion be drawn from my inelegance of expression, the adviser to whom the Committee refers for advice on the regulations which are laid before the Senate and referred to the Committee-
– Is he a legal officer of the Crown?
– No, an independent legal adviser whom the Committee has consulted. Whilst he is not the person who has been consulted for a long time, he is the person who for many years has been consulted. All the Committee’s advisers are persons of eminence and that applies particularly in the case of the Committee’s present adviser. For those reasons I think it is appropriate for the Senate to disallow these regulations. Accordingly, I support the motion.
– in reply - In closing the debate I should like to say that as “Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee I have listened with great interest to the debate which has taken place. The means by which we arrived at out present situation have been clearly set out From the Committee’s point of view it is necessary that some action be taken one way or the other. I think it would have been a weakness on the part of the Committee if it had allowed the regulations to go on until next week to be disallowed then because of the effluxion of time. I think it would have been unwise for the Committee to ask for a further postponement because we know of the argument that took place last week. I think it would have been bad from the point of view of the status and purpose of the Committee to have moved for the abolition of this motion before the Senate. In those circumstances I think the Committee’s purpose today is crystal clear.
The Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) mentioned that the motion appeared to be pin-pricking in nature, but I can assure the Leader that that was not the purpose in moving the motion. I should like to say to the Leaders of all parties and to the Senate generally that in the 17 years or more during which I have been Chairman of this Committee I have never found any member of the Committee, no matter what his Party - it is a Committee representing the 3 Parties - trying to take a political advantage. I say with absolute sincerity that the deliberations of the Committee have always been on the highest plane. Only last week one of the newer members remarked that the Committee was a lively one and that he had enjoyed the meeting very much because of the type of debate that went on. During the time that I have been Chairman of the Committee I can safely say that we have had as members some of the most able men in the Senate.
– That goes for all Senate committees.
– I am not saying that that is not so, but in the Regulations and Ordinances Committee we have been particularly fortunate in many of the senators who have served on the Committee. Because of the nature of the work of the Committee, whenever the Committee moves for the disallowance of a regulation it provokes some feeling, but the Committee has to remember that it has a purpose and must act. In acting it must be careful that it docs not appear to be too precipitate. The Committee has a determination to show the authority that might reasonably be expected of it, but also it has a duty to make sure that the Senate does not feel that it is lagging in the job. In these circumstances I feel that in its deliberations the Committee gives deep consideration to the problems that come before it, but at the same time recognises the duty that it has to serve the Senate and the people of Australia.
I well remember that when appointed to the chairmanship of this Committee the late Sir Robert Garran was asked by one of my colleagues what this Committee was. As a man who helped with the framing of the Constitution Sir Robert replied that this was the most important Committee in Parliament because its duty was to see that Parliament ran this country with legislation and that the Executive did not do so by regulations and ordinances. In those circumstances 1 have always treated it as a Committee of very great importance. I think that, as a layman, I have given to the Committee the best I am able to give. I have been supported very ably by the honourable senators who have served on the Committee with me during this time. In view of the interest which has been shown by many people in the activities of the Committee I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the Twenty-seventh Report of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
– ls leave granted?
– Is it customary to incorporate in Hansard a parliamentary document which has been printed?
– It is certainly not usual, but it is within the power of the Senate to determine whether such a document shall be incorporated.
– It is setting a dangerous precedent.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The report is as follows:
The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances has the honour to present its Twenty-seventh Report to the Senate.
Statutory Rules 1960, Nos 112, 113 and 117 being Amendments of the Military Financial, Naval Financial, and Air Force Regulations.
Regulation 1 of the amendments of the Naval financial Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1969, No. 113, provides for an annual allowance of $1,000 for the first Member of the Naval Board and the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (when a Naval officer); and
Regulation S of the amendments of the Air Force Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1969, No. 117, provides for an annual allowance of $1,000 for the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and for the Chief of the Air staff.
This Bill arises from the Government’s decision to increase the salaries of $15,000 and $17,500 for permanent heads of departments of state and certain statutory offices and to provide for the payment of annual allowances additional to these salaries.’
Regulation 5 of Statutory Rules H969, No. 117 be disallowed.
IAN WOOD, Chairman
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Acting Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party appointing members to the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. The Leader of the Government in the Senate has appointed Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, Senator Sim, Senator Rae and Senator Lawrie. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has appointed Senator Wheeldon, Senator Georges and Senator Wriedt. The Acting Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party has appointed Senator Little.
Sitting suspended from 11.57 a.m. to 8 p.m.
– I present the Twenty-ninth Report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances on the Amendments of the Naval Financial Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1969, No. 138, together with minutes of evidence and move:
That the Report and minutes of evidence be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business
– I move:
That the Senate is of opinion’ that a royal commission should be appointed to inquire into the present condition and future prospects of primary industry in Australia.
The first question one must ask in considering my motion is this: Is there a crisis in primary industry which demands such strong action? I answer firstly by pointing to the latest report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics which states that net farm income this year will fall by 21% to $969m, while primary production, which represented 8% of the gross national product in 1964-65, will this year represent only 4% of the gross national product. 1 point also to a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) in which he declared that grave problems are facing the wool, dairy and wheat industries. He has also referred to problems in quite a number of other industries. In answering the question I have posed I would also refer to a statement by the Minister when speaking in 1968 at the Rural Science Graduates Conference at the University of New England, Armidale. The position has worsened since then. He said:
These days I think everyone would agree that an income of $2,000 per annum is no great comfort. The average earning of factory workers in 1966-67 was over $3,000. There are several rural industries where the proportion of producers with net farm incomes of less than $2,000 a year is 50% or greater. Remember that net farm income has to cover not only the labour of the operator but also the return, if any, on the capital he has invested in his farm. It is not right to allow these people to struggle on at the inadequate standards of living without doing something to rectify the situation. The last thing we can afford is a policy of let drift.
In recent weeks Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland, announced that the Queensland Government had asked the Commonwealth to consider urgently a proposal to help some graziers who were facing bankruptcy. He added that the graziers concerned have reached the limit of their credit from all sources. A remarkable statement was made by Mr P. J. Meehan, President of the Victorian Farmers Union, Grains Division. In the ‘Victorian Farmer’ of 6th April he is reported as saying:
Surplus wheat stocks could be brought back to manageable proportions if Australian went out of wheat production for at least a year.
He said that such a drastic suggestion would shock many people, but, if nothing else, it emphasised the position of Australian wheat growing in a world plagued with wheat surpluses. He said that the Canadian Government was setting an example which he believed could be followed by Australia’s Federal Government. The report went on:
The Canadian Government is proposing to pay fanners $5 for wheat land left as fallows, and $8i an acre for wheat land given over to forage crops for at least 2 years. If this principal were adopted in Australia, however, there would have to be a funding of farmers’ debts or a moratorium declared.
Can anybody fairly suggest that there is no crisis in the wheat industry when a responsible officer of a wheat growers organisation puts forward such a proposal, which may have to be considered? Honourable senators are familiar with the problems of the dairy industry. They were brought home to me on the day following the recent farmers’ march in Melbourne when a deputation of dairy farmers approached me and pointed out that they were in a desperate position. Some of them said that in order to keep going they had had to borrow money at high rates of interest, at 14% in some cases, and had now reached the end of the road.
– That is usury.
– It is, but it has been happening because of the desperate position of these men. I agree that it is usury. Serious problems have arisen in the dried fruits industry, particularly as the proposal for stabilisation placed before the industry recently failed to receive a sufficient number of votes. The potato industry is in a serious pligh’t. All in all, there is a crisis in which only 1 or 2 of our primary industries can face the future with any confidence. What is the result of this situation? The result is that all over some of the most fertile portions of Australia, in Victoria and New South Wales, demonstrations of discontent have been made by farmers with demands that something be done to relieve their situation.
Edenhope in Victoria is the centre of one of the most prosperous areas of perhaps the most prosperous State for its size in the Commonwealth. It is the centre of the Kowree Shire, the sixth largest in Victoria, the second biggest producer of wool in the State, in which are the highest numbers of sheep and lambs in the State. It has a total occupied area of over 1 million acres, and only 92,000 acres remain unimproved or partly improved. It produces 2,600,000 bushels of wheat, oats and barley, plus beef, dairy cattle, small seeds, dried fruits, fodder and fat lambs.
A survey of 30 farmers was conducted in this region, one of the most prosperous in Australia. It revealed that the average area of farms there was 892 acres; the average liability was $28,400 with an average rate of increase of debt over 3 years of over $3,000 a year. A selection of 600 farmers showed that nearly 300 had net incomes over the past 3 years of less than the basic wage. I remind honourable senators that this area was severely affected by drought. There are 906 farms in the shire and the survey showed that nearly 50% of those farms brought in net incomes of less than the basic wage. I point out that the farmers at Edenhope originated the farmers’ protest movement. To round off the picture I will give some details of neighbouring towns in the area. In Horsham, a very prosperous town, there are about 200 houses for sale; in Casterton 45; in Coleraine, where a butter factory, hotel and chemist shop have already closed, 14 houses are for sale. In Hamilton only 80 of 450 school leavers were able to be placed locally and there were 12 vacant shops in the main shopping area.
At other centres there were demonstrations similar to that which originated in have been present at a number of others. A number more are scheduled which I Edenhope. I was present at one at Ballarat; I was present at one at Hamilton; and I hope to attend. The impression I have gained from attending these meetings is that these people are definitely facing a grave crisis. In view of the contribution of rural industry to Australia, prosperity over the years we must do something in order to assist them.
The most impressive meeting that I attended was held at Jerilderie. It was attended by 1,500 to 2,000 farmers. The area concerned normally is a very prosperous one. When such a large number of primary producers are prepared to leave their farms for a whole day for the purpose of showing that they believe that there is a crisis which must be met, it indicates that there is grave trouble facing us. There was a large attendance of parliamentarians from all parties. The chair was taken by Senator Bull who, however, was not associated with the decisions made. He, as a representative of that area, acted as chairman. Also present were Mr Grassby, the local Federal member, Senator McClelland, 2 Commonwealth Ministers, Mr Holten and Mr Anthony and a number of State parliamentarians. I was present on behalf of my party. The result of the meeting was that a motion was carried calling for -
Immediate demands on the Commonwealth and State Governments to implement a short term plan to effect instant relief in fields most affected by the cost price squeeze, including land tax, receipts tax, shire rates, consolidation of rural debt, interest rates, freight and transport costs, wool compensation, education, improved port facilities and power for industry.
There was a second part to that motion. I think those attending the meeting showed great wisdom by putting forward a short term policy and then a long term policy. The long term policy called for -
The appointment of a royal commission by the Commonwealth Government to inquire into the total effect of the cost price pressures, inflation, tariffs, marketing methods, etc. on primary production and the rural community, emphasis to be placed on the appraisement and the assessment of new long term development programmes to secure the retention of the family farm as a major part of Australian agriculture.
I was impressed by the meeting. I was impressed by the wisdom of those present in putting forward short term policies to meet the immediate needs and a long term policy to cover the future. I formed the conclusion that their proposal for a royal commission was a sound one. I found that it was agreed to by farmers at other meetings in Victoria which I attended. It was for that reason that I placed on the Senate notice paper this proposal for a royal commission. The farmers had asked for it and I felt that their proposal was entitled to consideration in this chamber. I believe that a royal commission has a great deal to commend it. I propose to deal shortly with my reasons for that statement. It may be asked why it should be a royal commission and not a parliamentary committee. I think that the last parliamentary committee of this type was one appointed as long ago as 1941. I have with me a reference from the Senate Hansard which states:
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report upon the effects of the war on the marketing of primary produce, and on the economic condition of Australian rural industries, and requesting the concurrence of the Senate therein, and the appointment of four members to the committee.
That was in 1941 when there was a similar period of crisis because of the effect of the war on Australian primary industries.
If I am asked why did I embrace the proposal for a royal commission rather than the precedent I have referred to, my answer, firstly, is that this proposition was put to the meeting of farmers in Jerilderie. They were asked whether they wanted a parliamentary committee of inquiry or a royal commission. The answer of those at the meeting was overwhelming. Of the attendance of at least 1,500 farmers, only 6 were in favour of a parliamentary committee. The overwhelming majority declared that they wanted a royal commission. I was interested to note that among those present was Mr Pat Hills, the Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales and a member of the Australian Labor Party. My recollection is that Mr Hills commended those present on their decision requesting a royal commission rather than a parliamentary committee of inquiry and told them that he felt that they had done the right thing. We of the Democratic Labor Party have put forward this proposal because the farmers themselves indicated that this was what they wanted. There are obvious objections which can be brought forward against a royal commission covering such a wide area as this one would cover.
– Were they the only 2 suggestions made?
– They were the only 2 proposals placed before the meeting by the sponsors. The matter of putting propositions to the meeting was left in the hands of the sponsors. We left it to them and it was their decision. The obvious objection was put to me yesterday by one honourable member who said that a royal commission on this issue could take 5 years. I think he was exaggerating, probably having in mind a counter proposition to be put forward by his Party. I might point out that there is no suggestion that everything in regard to the rehabilitation of rural industry is going to be halted until this proposed commission has brought in its recommendations. As the meeting itself suggested, there are short term things that can be done and must be done in order to keep rural industry upon its feet. The proposal for a long term committee of inquiry was designed to see that an expert body - and it would have to be a very expert body - should determine the lines of development for Australian industry in the face of developments over the years to come. I think that by doing this those at the meeting have countered the argument that a royal commission would be merely a means of postponing action and that it might take too long to put its propositions into effect.
I might say that on every occasion that I have had the opportunity to speak to representatives of the farming community I have assured them that my Party would co-operate in desirable short term measures and would vote for them at all times, in the interests of the rural community, because we realise that short term measures of a drastic nature are urgently required. We believe that a royal commission is needed in order to carry out the broad survey required at a time when the difficulties of our rural industries are not due entirely to local factors. They are largely due to factors affecting primary industry throughout the world. This is not a problem which can be fastened on this Government. This is a problem which is fastened upon governments throughout the world today. In Canada Mr Trudeau faces the most difficult of situations. As I have explained, he is now in the situation of paying the Canadian farmers not to grow wheat. In Great Britain, Mr Wilson is being approached repeatedly by delegations of farmers complaining that their situation is desperate. In the United States of America primary industry has been propped up by all kinds of systems and subsidies and other aids to such a degree that the whole edifice is now threatening to topple. In small countries such as the Philippines there are grave problems in the sugar industry which is the backbone of the country’s rural economy. In countries like Brazil the coffee industry is in a similar state. Where there is a situation which is world wide we cannot deal with it by trying to plug a hole here, there or anywhere else. It is necessary in that instance to have a body inquiring into the whole matter, a body which can take a broad view, which can have at its disposal the services of overseas experts.
There is much argument in favour of the proposition that our troubles come from the fact that the world system of distribution has broken down. The have-not countries do not have the capital to develop their economies while at the same time buying food and wool abroad. Until the system of distribution is corrected it may be that we will have the utmost difficulty in rehabilitating our own primary industries. On behalf of my Party I have put forward the proposition that we should endeavour to improve the situation of the have-not countries by increasing our aid to 2% and by making approaches to world organisations for greater sums to be made available as capital for the have-not countries which are seeking to develop their industries and to improve their standards of living. I must confess that I feel that any body of lesser stature than a royal commission would find grave difficulty in covering the whole sweep of this extremely serious problem.
I have seen, by the courtesy of Senator Drake-Brockman, a proposal for an amendment which I understand will later be moved by the Government. Also I have heard or read in a New South Wales newspaper details of a proposition which, it is said, will be moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. It is only fair that my Party should face the situation which may arise in view of the fact that the 2 major parties each intends to put forward its own proposition. It may be that we will not have the numbers for our proposition. If that is so, we are faced with the situation that if we used our numbers to defeat both propositions nothing would be done for the farming community. Therefore, if we do not have the numbers for our proposition we propose to examine the 2 propositions put forward by the other parties and to decide which will be better in the interests of the fanning community. I am unable to forecast what our decision will be because, while we have received the amendment which will be moved on behalf of the Government, we have not received that which will be moved on behalf of the Opposition. It is only fair that we should wait and see it before we arrive at a decision.
As there are suggestions in one of the propositions that has been placed before us that instead of a royal commission there shall be a series of individual inquiries with, I must admit, proposals which are designed to achieve some measure of co-ordination, I can only say that I still feel that there is need for a committee of the broad sweep which a royal commission would have. I am a little uncertain as to how these committees based on industry would work. I think the danger of individual committees is that they can come up with something which has hampered primary industry in the past, that is, that the degree to which they are able to achieve what they want from governments frequently depends on the degree of their organisation and the amount of political influence which they are able to exercise. Therefore, I am not entirely happy about the proposition. I shall await the other proposition, as will also other members of my Party, before arriving at a decision.
Although we have to admit that there is a grave crisis in our primary community, it would be most unwise of us to allow statements that there is a crisis to develop to the stage that they might almost cause panic. What we have to realise is that averaging our prosperity to our population we are the sixth most prosperous country in the world. We must therefore have the resources to give justice to the primary producer and, if those resources are available, we should take whatever action is necessary to give justice to the primary producer. But I would deprecate panic because I believe that panic is one thing which could destroy our prospects of thoroughly rehabilitating not only primary industry but also secondary industry on which it could have serious effect.
I hope that the question of the primary producer will be approached by all parties on the basis that all that we want to do - all of us - is what is best to assist and improve a deserving section of our economy. I am sure that this will be the approach of most honourable senators. I do not believe that any Party has a monopoly of messiahs, nor do I think that any Party can claim that it has the remedies which are going to solve these problems which are being found to be so difficult of solution in almost every similar country. So far as my Party is concerned we will assist any
Party which puts forward a desirable proposition for the welfare of the primary producer. The proposition which I have put forward was suggested originally by members of the farming community. I have put it forward as I promised them that I would put it forward. I have not endeavoured to survey the whole ramifications of our problems or to suggest remedies because that would be something for the royal commission to do, if it were appointed. All I have done is to suggest what in our view would be a desirable long term action if associated with the short term policies to which I have referred. Whatever happens, I hope that Parliament in its wisdom will bring into effect those measures which will do most good for the farming community in the present crisis that it faces.
– I should like to thank Senator McManus for making this opportunity available for this very valuable discussion. I think him also for the very fair and good way in which he presented his case. I think we should heed what he said about pressing the panic button. I think that primary industry and all those concerned with the various industries, together with industrialists and parliamentary leaders, have to get together, sit around a table and try to think this position through. Great damage will be done to the industries and to those in the industries if we cry panic at this stage. I thank Senator McManus for his warning.
Tonight I should like first of all to state the Government’s view in regard to the motion that has been moved by Senator McManus. I begin by reminding the Senate that there are at least 16 separate industries within the primary industry set-up, and that is taking the fruit industry as one industry only - not the various sections which go to make up the fruit industry.
– Are you not speaking there of rural primary industries? There are many more than that if you speak of primary industry.
– I am talking about rural primary industries.
– With all due respect, this motion does take in mining.
– That may be the honourable senator’s view.
– I am taking the meaning of what is written.
– We qualify that.
– You are referring to rural industries?
– It is difficult from the Government’s point of view to see how any useful purpose might be served in the present circumstances by conducting a royal commission of the nature which Senator McManus has suggested. Indeed, such an inquiry could well prove to be a disadvantage to the primary producers in this way: An inquiry of the scope I have just suggested into 16 separate rural industries would be certainly a long and time consuming operation. It is highly questionable whether it would come up with any information which is not already available. On the other hand it would inevitably cause delays as individual industry organisations would not be in a position to make recommendations to the Government on measures to overcome their problems while the royal commission was investigating the same problems. At the same time an inquiry of this nature would necessitate deferment of any Government action which is designed to assist particular industries until the completion of a full scale formal inquiry and the submission and consideration of its report. Also a royal commission would provide a wonderful opportunity for procrastination if such were desired.
The Government does not wish to put off this matter until some vague date in the future. Its opposition to the proposed royal commission is a- direct indication of the Government’s desire to implement with a minimum of delay sound plans to assist the various rural industries overcome their most pressing problems and, at the same time, lay the foundations for adjustment and development over the long term. The primary producers are experiencing difficulties at present. Senator McManus has brought this fact to our attention. I feel sure that all honourable senators who have had an opportunity to attend the large meetings which have been held throughout the length and breadth of Australia will be well aware of the present situation. Nobody questions the fact that primary producers are experiencing difficulties. We must aim for practical, realistic and sound solutions of lasting benefit. The Government’s policies have helped to overcome problems in the past and the Government will continue to help the producers to face up to their problems now and in the future. The Government’s approach has been to provide a framework within which the producers can operate effectively and efficiently. I indicate that at the end of my speech I intend to move an amendment to the motion which was moved by Senator McManus.
Let us examine what has been done in regard to Government action within the rural and primary industry sectors. The Government has been active in seeking markets internationally through the Trade Commissioner Service, by way of helping exporters and through direct government to government negotiations. It has sought to achieve international arrangements which assure the securing of markets at reasonable prices through bilateral trading agreements and commodity arrangements such as the International Grains Arrangement and the International Sugar Agreement. The Government has provided stabilisation schemes and other schemes of direct assistance to the wheat, dairying, dried vine fruits and cotton industries. When the United Kingdom devalued its currency the Government provided, and is still providing, compensation to the rural industries affected. This commitment has now reached a cost of $115m. The cost to the Government of the direct financial assistance to primary industries in 1969-70 is estimated to be more than $180m.
The Government recognises the importance of farm development and farm investment. It has provided improved credit facilities through the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia, the term loan fund and the farm development loan fund. It has also provided taxation concessions, special depreciation rates, full deductibility of expenditure on some capital items, averaging of incomes, carry-over of losses for unlimited periods and estate duty concessions. But costs are rising. Our economy is growing. Because these rising costs impose a burden on the primary producer the Government has sought in cases before the arbitration tribunals and in general economic policies to restrain cost increases.
Costs are rising almost continually in all advanced countries and the Government is concerned about inflation in Australia, but
Australia’s performance in managing its economy compares very favourably with other countries. Over the past 12 months prices have risen in Australia by 3.5%; in Canada by 5.1%; in France by 6.8%; in Germany by 2.7%, in Japan by 5.6%; in New Zealand by 5.7%; in South Africa by 2.6%; in the United Kingdom by 6.6% and in the United States by 6.1%. Rising costs present problems. The Government has recognised this by providing subsidies on input costs - on fertilisers and petroleum products. It has provided increased finance for research to enable farmers to improve productivity to meet the challenge of increasing costs.
The Government’s overall policy has been aimed at achieving stability; at assisting the farmer to achieve income growth along with the rest of the economy; and at helping farmers adjust to the changing circumstances of the rural industries. Sometimes these adjustments are difficult, but the Government has faced up to them in cooperation with the industries concerned. In the case of wheat, the industry, in the face of difficult problems, put to the Government sound and courageous proposals for delivery quotas. The Commonwealth has assisted with substantial finance and the States are administering the scheme, which is a most difficult job. In relation to the wool industry attention is now being directed towards marketing. From 1st July 1970, the levy for research and promotion will be reduced from 2% to 1% of the gross proceeds from the sale of shorn wool and the Government’s contribution to these activities will increase from $14m to an average of $27m a year. The Commonwealth has accepted a financial commitment of some S7.3m a year to improve wool marketing under plans which will be implemented for the 1970-71 wool selling season. The object is to upgrade the preparation and presentation of the clip. This should be the forerunner of a whole range of important reforms.
These examples of wheat and wool illustrate two principles of our policy. Firstly, the circumstances differ in our rural industries and each needs particular policies. Those who seek a uniform policy for all industries show that they do not understand those industries. While there are certain basic features common to all industries - such as efforts to restrain price increases, to seek income improvements and to increase productivity - for the most part there is a need to tailor policies to the circumstances of individual industries.
Surely no one would suggest that an agricultural policy could have blanket application to all industries, or to all sections of one industry, or to all parts of Australia. That is the difficulty with primary industry - it is so diverse. It is made up of so many varying elements and the people engaged in it quite often have very diverse views. Secondly, it is not the Government’s role to take over from farmers and their industry organisations and responsibility for planning the production and marketing of their output. The Country Party believes, and the Government believes, that the final responsibility for making decisions must come back to the farmer himself to make decisions affecting his own farm. Farmers value their independence and do not want anyone, particularly the Government, telling them how to run their affairs.
– The difficulty is that farmers may be losing their independence. That is the point. They may have a theoretical independence and be losing their economic strength.
– All right. Let us go on. This is not to say, of course, that the Government has no responsibility in all this. On the contrary, governments have very great responsibilities to help the people who make up such a vital part of the nation and its economy. This Government’s policy is aimed at helping primary producers achieve stability; at helping them organise themselves on a sound basis; at helping them find new overseas markets and make those markets secure by trade agreements; at helping them develop new products through research and extension; at helping them lift production where this is warranted; at providing them with access to finance on concessional terms; at helping them overcome the problems of rising costs through assistance in a variety of ways; and at ensuring that they receive all available information concerning their industry. If farmers are to make their own decisions, they must have full information. They must know what is happening around them, what is happening in their industry, what is happening on their home and export markets, and what is likely to happen in the future. On the production side they must have the best technical and economic advice.
The Commonwealth Government has long made funds available to the States to support agricultural extension services. Since 1966-67 steadily increasing grants have been made, reaching $4. 9m in the current year. Total Commonwealth agricultural extension grant funds made available from 1948-49 to 1969-70 have been $33,550,000. The Government is active in making information directly available to primary producers. Twice a year, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), as Chairman of the Australian Agricultural Council, makes a comprehensive report on all the rural industries and on the general economic position of the rural sector. During the last 2 years the Minister has also addressed thousands of farmers at meetings in many parts of Australia. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics is engaged in continuing surveys of the various rural industries and the resultant information is published. The Bureau also publishes regular outlook reports on the various commodities. Further, there is a number of committees and panels on which the Government is represented and these are constantly engaged in examining and assessing the situation of various industries or looking into specific industry problems. In addition, the Government is represented on marketing boards which are in close contact with the problems of the particular industry concerned. There is close co-operation between the Government and rural industries in formulating policy. The Government looks to the industry organisations for advice on policy and tries to implement policies which will have the backing and support of the industry concerned. The programme of consultation, discussion, and thrashing out of ideas and policies is virtually a continuous one. There is frequent contact between people in the primary industry organisations and the Minister and officers of his Department. Before an industry puts a proposal before the Government there has usually been much consultation and discussion between officers, and perhaps Ministers, of the Government and representatives of the industry concerned. This a two-way process. On the one hand the Government needs the advice and suggestions of the industry based on its wealth of practical knowledge and understanding of its own problems and possibilities. On the other hand, the industry needs the expert knowledge and experience the Government has available to it to help formulate policies of value to the industry on a sound long term basis.
It is inevitable that in the interchange of ideas, in the discussions behind the scenes, in the private talks, that there should be extensive consideration of the alternative lines of action and their implications for the short and the long term. In this way it is possible to hammer out a sound practical policy proposal which has the support of the industry and the support of the Minister based on his own knowledge and opinion and the expert advice of the officers of his Department. Such a proposal is likely to be acceptable to the Government and is likely to be capable of effective implementation. One of the facets of agricultural policy in need of urgent implementation is that of adjustment, of reconstruction. This applies particularly to the dairy industry. A royal commission is hardly necessary to delineate this problem. The industry is aware of it, the State Governments have recognised it and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and other research organisations have carried out economic surveys of the industry as a whole and in parts. What is needed is a viable plan acceptable to all sections, Governmental and industry. About 3 years ago the Australian Dairy Industry Council asked the Commonwealth to introduce a low-income dairy farm reconstruction scheme. Some State Governments had been operating such schemes on a limited scale for a number of years and the Commonwealth Government agreed to assist in a scheme of this nature to the amount of $25m over 4 years. However, the difficulty has been to negotiate a scheme acceptable to both the Commonwealth and the State Governments and which would have the support of the producers themselves. The negotiations have been most protracted and it is only recently that prospects of finalisation have come into view. The Dairy Reconstruction Scheme is one which has been worked out in conjunction with the industry and at its own request and yet it has run into all sorts of difficulties in getting it going. Imagine the difficulties that would arise in the case of some arbitrary unilateral action on the part of the Government. Similarly, in the case of wheat the industry has had the courage to impose upon itself, by its own decision, quite a severe discipline which demands a considerable sacrifice on the part of many growers. Apart from the fact that the Commonwealth has no power to control production, imagine the industry reaction if delivery quotas had been arbitrarily imposed by the Government - in this case it would have been imposed by the State Governments. The reaction from the industry would have been such that the scheme would never have worked. How could a royal commission have helped in these circumstances?
Let us turn to the position of the wool industry. Last year for the first time the various sections of the wool industry came together and agreed on marketing proposals. This was not done without a great deal of work and effort by the industry leaders and the Minister for Primary Industry. Agreement was reached on a scheme which will lay down standards and help to improve clip preparation. The scheme when implemented will be the basis for many other improvements in the industry. What is next required is a study of and a quick solution to the question of objective testing of wool. Two committees are working on this.
The Australian Wool Board is looking at the overall economic problems of the industry. The Board has brought together an eminent advisory group representative of the wool industry with terms of reference covering the main issues facing the industry both in the immediate situation and over the longer term. It is certainly to be expected that through this advisory group the Wool Board will arrive at some really worthwhile findings and recommendations.
– Do I gather that you think that with the wool industry and the dairying industry you have gone as far as can reasonably be gone? Is that the inference I draw from those comments?
– I am reiterating what has been done. Let us look at the situation from that position. It would seem obvious that the method of consultation and discussion which has been outlined is much more likely to produce timely and valuable results than is the formalised and time consuming mechanism of the form proposed in the motion. That is the reason why I submit the following amendment to the motion proposed by Senator McManus:
Leave out all words after ‘that’ insert ‘the Senate, being aware of the economic position of primary producers and the problems associated therewith, knowing of the immediate need for analysis of industry problems to determine requirements of policy as affecting the different industries and believing that a royal commission would not meet such an immediate need, as it would involve too lengthy a period for investigation and report, is of the opinion that -
the most appropriate way of investigating the present problems of the primary industries would be to establish industry sponsored committees of inquiry, backed by the available resources of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, to establish lines of action in the light of a world-wide situation; and
these committees should be required to analyse the factors affecting the individual industries and report to the Government upon short term policies to alleviate present difficulties and long term policies for the guidance of both primary producers and the Government.’
We have advanced this proposal because, as I said during the early part of my remarks, we do not believe that a royal commission is the answer. If an industry comes to the Government and says: ‘We want you to look into the various factors within our industry from all aspects and we want you to use the information that is available in the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation’, we believe that that would be the best way of overcoming the immediate problems within the industry. We believe also that these committees, if set up, could look at the long term problems in the industry and make recommendations to the Government for implementation. When my colleagues on this side follow me in the debate they will elaborate on our proposed amendment.
– The Labor Party Opposition is appreciative of the opportunity to debate the motion which has been put forward by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. We give credit to that Party for bringing it forward and stealing our thunder. This is a matter about which I think every section of the Senate is vitally concerned, and because we are so vitally concerned I hope that during the debate we will endeavour to achieve such a position that the people of Australia, and in particular those in our rural industries, will appreciate that their plight is of considerable concern to the Senate. Therefore I welcome this opportunity for discussion. We are faced at the present time with a surprising situation. Within my memory this is the first occasion on which farmers have stepped outside their generally accepted organisations and have tried to impress on the public and the Government the difficulties that now are facing them.
It is of considerable interest to look at some of the background to this matter. A very interesting brochure has been produced from information obtained from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research. I think we all have had a copy of it delivered to us. It sets out in thumbnail form some of the relevant points that I think we should take into consideration. The one that I want to mention first relates to the value of rural commodities from the point of view of their export earning capacity. We have always appreciated that our rural industries are our major earners of export income, but it comes as a shock to people who are not aware of the situation to learn that even now, despite the tremendous expansion that has taken place in the development of our mineral resources, rural industry still commands 55% - more than half - of the income earning capacity of Australia.
This is something which is tremendously important and we must not, as is generally found to be the tendency with people who do not understand the situation, endeavour to place rural industry as a kind of coming sideline. Agricultural economists and economists generally all accept the fact that for some considerable period rural industry will still be earning more than 50% of Australia’s export income. Let me cite some figures. In 1968-69 the value of rural products exported was $l,847m. That represents 55% of the total value of exports. It is interesting to note some of the commodities which earned amounts that went to make up the $ 1,847m. Wool was worth $797m, meat and meat products $286m, wheat $258m, sugar $130m, fruit and vegetables $97m and the kind of things that we do not usually consider as being valuable export earners such as hides, skins, dairy products and other cereal products earned S250m. That is an indication of the value of rural industry to Australia.
Productivity and costs are the next important factors at which we have to look. The farmer is complaining that he is being forced by economic circumstances to improve his efficiency. I do not think he is objecting to improving his efficiency; but his costs are increasing and his income is remaining practically constant. Turning again to this valuable little brochure, which is the sort of document that those who are interested in the farmers’ problems can put in their pockets and carry with them, we find that, giving a value of 100 to the prices paid by the rural community in 1961-62, the figure for prices received in that year was -97. The rural community received rather less than it paid out in 1961-62. The prices received did not vary very much over the years up to 1968-69. The figures were 97, 109, 111, 107 and 106, taking them in 2-y early steps. Over the same period the prices paid increased to 120. In 1968-69 the figures for prices received was 106. whereas that for prices paid was 120.
That shows the reason why the primary producer is in the position in which he is now. One of the problems that result from this position is that he has no reserves on which to draw. His reserves are depleted very quickly. So, he has to approach finance houses and stock firms for assistance. This creates a very serious national problem. This is the last matter on which I wish to refer to this brochure. It shows that the primary producers have had to increase their net indebtedness dramatically over the last few years. In the 5 years up to June 1969 the net rural indebtedness rose from Si 59m, which is a pretty considerable sum, to $998m, representing an increase of 527%. That is an indication of how badly off the primary producers are.
These difficulties in rural industry have been evident for some time. Let me draw to the attention of the Senate very quickly the sorts of things that we have seen over the last few years. In the apple industry for instance, Tasmanian senators, supported by Western Australian senators, have been pointing out the difficulties experienced over the last few years. The growers have not been able to obtain markets for the terrific crops that have been produced in these years. Prices have been extremely low. At the same time we have had problems in the dairy industry in Western Australia. We had a meeting in Busselton which was advertised as being a meeting of protest by dairy farmers. To the surprise of the organisers, some 300 dairy farmers came along to the meeting from all round that area, overflowed the hall and complained about the problems of their industry. It was at that meeting that the suggested dairy industry rationalisation scheme was brought forward. The primary producers welcomed it as a possible means of making their farms viable.
The situation also extended to the banana industry. In 1967 I went to the coastal areas in New South Wales and saw the banana industry which at that time was in a very serious plight. The situation has not improved since then. In the following year droughts occurred in various parts of Australia. Seasonal conditions in the south west of Western Australia brought about a crisis situation. At that moment in Western Australia the crisis situation applied only to wheat farmers and producers of fat lambs. The result was the holding of protest meetings at which the farmers objected because the Government was not taking any action to help them. Those meetings developed into a mass meeting which took place at the Perry Lakes Stadium and which was attended by more than 3,000 farmers on a very good harvesting day in December. They surprised Mr Anthony by their attacks in which they asked for some assistance and advice as to what could be done to remedy the serious situation in which they found themselves. The situation has continued ever since. But last year it became more drastic when world markets disappeared. This has now made a very big difference to rural industry throughout Australia and its prospects.
A meeting was held only a fortnight ago tomorrow in Perth. It was called by the Adult Education Board. A number of prominent speakers were invited to attend. They included Mr Anthony; Dr Rex Patterson; Professor Lloyd, the Professor of Agricultural Economics at Monash University; Mr Honan, an Assistant Director of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics; Mr Teese, of the Department of Trade and Industry; and Dr Schapper, an agricultural economist at the University of Western Australia. The suggestions that were put forward by Mr Anthony did not meet with general approval because there was very little difference between them and those he has been making over the last 2 years.
As an example, I wish to refer particularly to the speech that Mr Anthony made to the Australian Agricultural Council. I am trying to make my speech in a constructive way. I do not want to be destructive. I can see what he was trying to do. I believe that he was doing the best he could. In the speech that he made to the Australian Agricultural Council on 2nd February this year a few points stand out. The first point that we notice is that he is not so sure that we are in a difficult situation. He says that some sections of rural industry are, but some are not.
I do not intend to go right through the speech. I propose to summarise some of the things he said. He said that there had been drought situations in some parts of Australia, particularly Queensland and Western Australia, and that these reduced overall rural output, but even so the exports situation was not too bad. He said that in 1969-70 wool production is expected to pass the 2,000 million lb mark for the first time. Meat production is estimated at 1,915,000 tons, which is 10% above last year’s output; milk production appears certain to set a new record; the area sown to wheat was a bit down on what it was for the previous year, but the estimated crop of wheat for the season is still a very good one; barley production was up 6%; and the sugarcane harvest fell because of drought conditions in Queensland. But he said that the gross value of rural production for 1969-70 is estimated at about $3,700m, which is only $230m below the record figure for 1968-69, and it is still higher than the figure for the previous year, 1967-68, which was a drought year. So it would seem from the address which the Minister gave to the Australian Agricultural Council, that he considers that the situation is not as bad as we might think it is.
Of course, on the other hand farmers are complaining, and this is why protests are taking place at the present time. Farmers consider that they are in a bad state. The Minister in his speech to the
Australian Agricultural Council, which is very similar to the speech that he made in Perth last Thursday week and similar to the one which he made in Queensland approximately a month ago, did not give any solutions to the problem facing farmers, other than the ones about which we have heard; for instance, the dairy reconstruction scheme which has considerable merit. When we discussed this question 2 years ago, I pointed out that I considered the scheme had merit, but I criticised the fact that it does not take into account a very important human factor, that is, that we ought to be finding other occupations for those farmers who have been displaced from their dairy properties, and at this stage there is no provision for retraining. I think that the scheme could be expanded and applied to all farmers in order to help to rehabilitate them and also to rehabilitate the industry. But this is something that has to be considered by a much more competent body than the suggested royal commission into primary industry.
At the meeting in Perth a number of proposals were put forward by the various speakers, and without indicating that I agree or object to them, I should like to run quickly through them, by giving their headings and nothing more, in order to give honourable senators an idea of the thinking of the various people particularly agricultural economists, on the problems facing the dairy industry. The first proposal which was advanced - and I referred to this matter in my speech during the Budget debate, I think, last year or the year before that - is that a very close look should be given to the proposition of negative income tax for inadequate income farmers who cannot get big and cannot get out. This is a very important avenue that I think should be explored, because it could provide important relief to farmers. The important point to remember is that there are 2 problems: There is the problem of immediate relief, and there is the problem of long term assistance to the industry, and these questions have to be considered.
The second proposal is to speed the dropout and the merger rate of uneconomic farms. I referred to that matter previously when I said that we wanted to extend the idea of the reconstruction scheme for dairy farmers so that it could take in other farmers as well.
– Could you define an uneconomic farmer?
– Although the honourable senator is not in his right seat, r do not mind defining what 1 mean by an uneconomic farmer. 1 do not mean a farmer who is not able to produce efficiently, although he may know his job. I do not mean this sort of a person. I am referring to a person who is on a property which cannot give him a return which is adequate for his needs. This is an uneconomic farmer. He might be the best farmer in the world, and he might run his property in the best possible way, but if the property is not large enough to give him a return that is adequate to meet his needs and to recover his expenses, then it is not an efficient farm: he is not an economic farmer.
Another proposal, which I think is very important, refers to the raising of managerial skills of farmers. This comes back to the point that I have raised, and it is an important one. In the future it will be necessary, in my opinion - and this view is held by a number of people who have given considerable thought to this matter - to give farmers the ability with which to change their type of farming within a reasonable period of time. For instance, if a farmer changes over to wheat this year and the wheat situation deteriorates - wheat is not a good example because the present position in the wheat industry is bad - in 5 years it might suit him to change over to barley, oats or some other crop, and he has to have the skill to be able to do so.
The next proposal which was suggested at the conference - and I stress that the proposals are not mine, they were put forward at a conference, but they give an idea of the sort of thinking that is going on - is to reduce tariffs to lower the rate of increase in prices paid, or to pay tariff compensating bounties on tariff-induced farm costs. Another proposal is to increase the efficiency of processes and organisation of marketing farm production. This is something which really is outside the control of the farmer, because he cannot be involved in the actual marketing of his product. He can advise, he can say what he hopes to do with his product, but he is not able to look at the overseas markets, to assess them and to canvass their possibilities.
Another proposal put forward at the conference was that: there should be marketing boards to do their own wholesaling in foreign markets. The final proposal that was put forward at the meeting is that there should be more help for poor people in Australia and for poorer countries to become richer faster, and to become better customers of Australia’s farmers sooner. They are some of the proposals that were put forward at the meeting. The question is: What are we going to do? The Democratic Labor Party suggests that we should set up a royal commission. This is the standard approach which is adopted by farmers wherever you go. At each meeting which you attend, the only thing they say - and. of course, this is a thing about which they know very little - is that they want a royal commission set up to examine the whole situation.
Senator McManus appreciated the difficulty that is inherent in the normal conduct of a royal commission, that is, that the commission takes a long while to reach any conclusions, and the question arises as to what happens in the meantime. This is a very important point, and Senator McManus did not try to gloss over it. He pointed out it was possible that a royal commission could make interim decisions which could be implemented, and such a procedure would be of considerable value to primary industry at the present time. But I think that there is another way of looking at this matter, f have already referred to the Australian Agricultural Council. Here is a body which is already in existence and which could do a. considerable amount of work for the farmers who are in need of help.
The amendment moved by the Minister for Air has some merit in it, but the Opposition feels that it will not achieve the results that were intended to be achieved by the mover of Ihe original motion and certainly will not achieve the results intended by members of the Labor Party. Senator Webster wanted to know how many committees would be involved if the Minister’s amendment were carried. The Minister said that about 24 would be involved, from a quick glance at the amendment, but that a lot more than that could be involved. Twenty-four committees would be cumbersome. Their inquiries would be interlocked. How would they work? I suggest that we look at the terms of the amendment that the Labor Party proposes to move later on. I will foreshadow the type of amendment that is proposed. 1 think it has been mentioned already that the words in the Government’s amendment which refer lo primary producers are an unfortunate choice of words. Therefore, in due course, we will move:
That, ihe word ‘primary’ in iiic second line be deleted and (he word ‘rural’ inserted in lieu thereof.
I think that this would be a generally acceptable proposition, lt leaves no doubt as to what we have in mind.
– Could I assist there? Instead of deleting the word “primary* why not add the word ‘rural’? The rural primary producers, not the rural producers, arc the ones at which your motion is aimed.
- i think the expression ‘rural producers’ gives the same meaning. If the honourable senator wants to move another amendment afterwards, he may do so. 1 think that the proposed amendment contains the correct expression.
– A rural producer may be a manufacturer in a rural area. He is a rural producer.
– I think that is a little equivocal. To my mind and. 1 think, to the minds of most people, a rural producer would mean a person engaged in rural production. We propose to leave the rest of that paragraph. In relation to clause (1) of the Government’s amendment, we propose to leave the words:
But from that point we would delete the rest of the amendment and would insert these words: . . for the Government to call an emergency meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to review the present crisis in the countryside and give proper national leadership and end without delay ihe present uncertainty and current hardship.
I hope that by the time someone moves the amendment all honourable senators will have a copy of it. At the moment I have only a flimsy copy of it. The first question that could be asked is why the Australian Agricultural Council should be asked to do this work. As most honourable senators probably know, each State Minister for Agriculture is a member of the Agricultural Council. The Chairman is the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry. The Secretary is an officer of the Department of Primary Industry in Canberra. I did not know that until a short while ago. The Council is a nominated body only. It is not an elected body, apart from its members having been elected to Parliament. The Council’s function is generally to promote the welfare and development of agricultural industries. That is one of its overriding responsibilities. It has to function and carry out its duties in conjunction with the Standing Committee on Agriculture. The Standing Committee is the work horse of the Agricultural Council. Permanent members of each of the State Departments for Agriculture are members of the Standing Committee. A representative from the Department of Primary Industry, a representative from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, a representative from the Department of the Interior, a representative from the Department of External Territories, a representative from the Department of Health, a representative from the Treasury and last but by no means least a representative from the Department of Trade and Industry also are members of the Standing Committee.
The Standing Committee would be able to cover much more fully the needs of rural industries than would the committees set out in the Government’s amendment. The committees mentioned in the Government’s amendment would be backed by the available resources of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as stated in the amendment. The Standing Committee could offer more help than committees such as those mentioned in the Government’s amendment. The Standing Committee provides the basis for a complete coverage of matters that affect the primary rural industries.
– I am pleased that you have adopted my phrase. It is very accurate.
– I said that for the benefit of the honourable senator, but I did not think it registered. I said that only for his benefit. Those words will not be included in the amendment. The Standing Committee’s functions are these - and its functions are most important when we consider the objective of the motion that we are debating tonight:
The last-mentioned function is one of the Standing Committee’s normal functions and does not really come within the ambit of the motion that we are considering. The first 2 functions are the important ones. They cover all the matters that are of concern to primary producers. Those functions give the Standing Committee the means by which it could produce a finding which would be of value to the Government and which would enable the Government, acting on that expert advice, to do something immediately and to do something that would assist the farmers both in the short term and in the long term. Apart from the slight change in wording to the first part of the Government’s amendment, our proposed amendment seeks to insert these words: . . for the Government to call an emergency meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to review the present crisis in the countryside and give proper national leadership and end without delay the present uncertainty and current hardship.
I believe, and the Labor Party believes - I hope the Government also believes - that the calling of an emergency meeting of the Agricultural Council would assist materially in finding solutions to the difficulties which face rural industries at present.
– I support the amendment moved by the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman). I shall give some reasons why I believe (he motion moved by Senator McManus would not be workable and would have some disability attached to it. The motion seeks the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the present condition and future prospects of primary industry in Australia. When Senator McManus moved his motion he said that he believed that a royal commission should cover all primary industries and their ramifications. What is it suggested should be covered by the proposed royal commission? For example, would fishing be included? Although mining could be omitted from a list of primary industries. I would think that fishing should be included. I believe that logging, afforestation and re-afforestation should be classified as primary industries. Would a royal commission inquire into some of the semi-manufacturing sections of primary production? I shall cite some of them. I will not name many of them, but 1 believe that at least some of them would have to be included in the term ‘primary industry’. In the dairying field dairy factories, butter factories and milk pasteurisation plants could be included. Meatworks, sawmills, sugar mills, cotton ginneries, fruit packing houses, wineries, fruit and fish canneries, jam factories, flour mills, malting houses and rum distilleries could also be covered.
I have made only a selection from the businesses that could be covered because they are bound up with the well-being or otherwise of primary industry. I would think that one of the objections to a royal commission at this stage would be that it would take at least 2 years and possibly longer to bring in a finding, if the job were to be done properly and to cover every section of primary industry. Some time would then have to elapse before the finding could be evaluated.
The words ‘present condition’ are used in the motion in referring to primary industry. The time taken for inquiries to be conducted by a royal commission would defeat the purpose of the motion because, by the time a royal commission reported the present position could have altered considerably. ls it suggested that a royal commission should cover all aspects of each and every primary industry in Australia, or fi it 10 inquire only into a few of ihe bigger industries? I shall name a few of the activities that I understand to be included in primary industry. Probably the number one industry of Australia is the wool industry. Production of that wonderful fibre, wool. h;is meant much to Australia in the post anil still means much today.
– 1 rise to a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the honourable senator is contravening standing order 406 which states that no honourable senator shall read his speech. I am not sure whether the honourable senator is reading his speech word for word, but 1 would like to draw your attention to the position.
– [ wish to speak to the point of order. Senator Lawrie is not reading his speech verbatim. As Senator Keeffe is so technical, I remind him that some honourable senators on his side of the chamber read their speeches verbatim and we accept that practice. I ask Senator Keeffe to have some regard to fair play.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Kennelly) - I understand from the way in which Senator Lawrie is making his speech that he is speaking from copious notes. I believe that, is in order.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I am sitting next to Senator Lawrie and i can see that he is speaking from notes of headings, and not from copious notes.
– I was saying that the wool industry is our main industry and principal earner of export income. I suggest that the wheat industry is our next biggest export income earner. It has been a very important industry to Australia for many years. Exports of meat have earned great income for Australia. Consideration of the meat industry would have to include production of mutton and lamb from the wool industry. The next primary industry to be considered is dairying, including butter and cheese making, and milk processing. The sugar industry is of special significance to Queensland and cams a great deal of export income for Australia.
Exports of apples and pears play a very important part in gaining export income for Australia. Other primary industries do not earn such a big percentage of export income but are very important to Australian producers and would have to be covered by a comprehensive inquiry into primary industry. I have in mind the production of coarse grains such as sorghum, millet, safflower. canary seed and various others. Australian producers are engaged in the production of oats and barley, and also citrus fruits. In the pig industry businesses are concerned in the production of hams, bacon, pork and various by-products.
The tobacco industry is very important to Australia. Pineapple and banana growing are also significant. The growing of cotton has been expanded considerably in Australia, to the extent that the bounty previously paid by the Government has been removed. In the poultry industry, apart from the production of eggs, many people are engaged in growing fowls, turkeys, ducks and geese for table meats. The fishing industry has expanded rapidly and is of great economic value to Australia. Various products from the sea are included in the fishing industry. Hop growing is an important component of one of Australia’s major industries. Grapes are grown for wine manufacturing as well as for the production of raisins and sultanas. Fodder crops are grown for animals, the principal fodder crop being lucerne. Maize is another fodder crop. Rice growing has developed greatly as a primary industry. Peanut oil production ‘is an important industry in some of the peanut growing districts of Australia.
Many people are employed in the growing of fruit and vegetables for use in the kitchen. Small fruits such as berries are grown for jam making. Strawberries are grown for that purpose. These are all important primary industries and to some extent they probably all are suffering from low prices. Some industries are not but they would have to be covered in the inquiry. The tea growing industry is another which has developed recently and which will, I believe, be an economic proposition soon. Certainly it requires a big fermentary to make the tea leaf usable.
We must remember that Australia still is on the horse’s back to some extent. We never have been able to do without horses, especially in controlling animals on cattle and sheep properties. Some of our horses become trotters and gallopers but not every honourable senator would agree that the best of them appear at the tracks. There are 2 industries dealing with sea products, the pearl shell industry and the production of artificial pearls, which are primary industries whatever way we look at them. Another important agricultural industry deals with bee keeping and honey production. A less important industry but one which is established in some parts of Australia produces mohair from goats. This industry is developing in Australia. I understand that there is a very substantial and profitable whaling industry. This is another of the products of the sea. Another product of the land which is not often mentioned is the agricultural seed industry. It is a very important one. It is operated in a big way in areas suitable for growing seed of the various kinds needed in agriculture generally. There is also that section of primary industry associated with our forests, such as logging, afforestation and reafforestation. Another industry which I am told is quite important close to our big cities is called, I understand, floriculture - the production of flowers sold by florists. There are other smaller primary industries which I could mention. One of these is the production of pet foods from horse meat and other things grown in Australia. I am told that at times of the year there is even quite a valuable mutton bird industry.
I have been elaborating on these various sections of primary industry, Mr Acting Deputy President, in order to show what a big job it would be to have a royal commission into all these things and the long period of time that it would take. The only compromise that could be made would be to pick out several of these industries - or arrange for the industry organisations to pick them out - and have separate inquiries. This is the very thing suggested by the Government’s amendment and that is why I support it. Most sections of primary industry have their own producer organisations. There also are marketing organisations such as boards or other similar controlling bodies. For a royal commission to have any real chance of producing an authoritative report on the condition of primary industries, it would have to be helped by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics or some similar body. This would take quite a considerable time. It would be a big job to look into so many industries. The Bureau would have to be greatly enlarged. This point also is dealt with in the Government’s amendment which for that reason also is worthy of support. The wording of the motion we are discussing calls for a royal commission on the ‘future prospects’ of primary industries. At the best, I believe, such a report could be based only on the opinions of responsible people and would involve some measure of crystal ball gazing. By the time a royal commission had done its work, obtained all the facts and compiled its report, the information would be somewhat out of date.
Some of our major primary industries are faced with a combination of low prices and limited overseas markets. Often the lack of markets is due to the restrictive action of some governments in not allowing us to send our exports to their countries. This practice is forcing our industries to operate under a considerable handicap. These industries need assistance now, not 2 or 3 years hence. I would not hesitate to support the establishment of a royal commission if 1 thought such action would have any immediate effect and get our industries out of the trouble they are in at the moment. However it would not have any effect for quite some time - in my opinion, 2 or 3 years.
Statements have been made at various limes about the alleged inefficiency of farmers. Under no circumstances would I agree that farmers generally were inefficient. The only way in which our primary industries have been able to keep abreast of rising costs since World War II has been by greatly increasing their efficiency. They have been very successful in this regard - so much so that in the last 20 or 25 years the volume of production from the farming sector has been doubled although the same work force has been employed. This has been due. in a large measure, to mechanisation. lt also has been brought about because primary producers have taken advantage of extension services, research, soil treatment, fertilisers and plant and animal breeding. f think Senator Wilkinson suggested that we should raise the managerial skills of our farmers. 1 believe that our present extension services and research work are bringing this about and that our primary producers are improving their managerial skills. The general increased efficiency of our primary producers has been contributed to by their hard work. The position is that a combination of increased costs in Australia and low prices overseas has made it difficult for our farmers to carry on under present circumstances. I believe a further extension of the principle of sharing Australia’s prosperity is required to meet the situation.
World surpluses and world shortages of food seem to alternate at regular or irregular intervals. We have now come to one of those periods of surplus, especially in the production of wheat and butter. I understand that Canada already has in storage twice our record wheat production. The amount of butter stored in the countries forming the European Economic Community could eliminate Australian butter from the United Kingdom market indefinitely if that country chooses to join the European Common Market. Some countries have greatly increased their food production and have applied tariffs or restrictions against our exports. The so-called free markets for our primary products are now somewhat limited. We have had to make trade treaties with many countries in order to be able to sell our primary products. I would like to quote a statement made by Mr F. O. Grogan, formerly First Assistant Secretary, Department of Primary Industry, and latterly Research Consultant. Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Newcastle-on-Tyne. He said, referring to the conditions in primary industry:
I tlo not believe that these extremely difficult problems will by some miracle suddenly emerge from any one person’s mind, bc he a farmer, politician or research worker. I think the only way that they will emerge is by patient examination of the facts and of the pros and cons of alternative courses of action.
The problem of arriving at reasonably salisfactory solutions becomes even more difficult’ when Ihe views and the interests of more than one country have to be taken into account.
To continue with my remarks on the suggested royal commission, much would be involved in ihe scope of the inquiry which would have to cover many ramifications of the whole Australian economy, lt would have to deal with tariff protection and Government policy, it would have to cover freight costs, wages, handling costs to get the produce to the consumer here or overseas: and it would have to cover some important side issues, such as the incidence of death duties as they affect farmers. But in addition it would have an effect on other industries, one of which would be the machinery industry. The index shows that sales from the machinery sector of industry arc down considerably. I believe that is due to a large extent to the setback that primary producers are facing today. Honourable senators are aware that primary producers are at the end of the chain when buying or selling. Their net return for their product is arrived at after all costs - freight, selling charges and all the other things - have been paid, but when they have to buy anything they must pay city prices, in addition to which they must pay transport costs and other charges to get the product to their place of business.
I suggest also that it is most important that any inquiry into primary industries must cover the effect on residents and business people in country towns who are so dependent on the rural industries. The wellbeing of the rural industries in particular districts is bound up with the wellbeing of the country towns serving those industries. The country towns and rural industries go hand in hand, and we want attractive and prosperous inland towns associated with our primary industries. As I have said before, the principle has been established that Australians who benefit from high tariff protection, unprecedented prosperity and over-full employment must share some of this prosperity with those who are engaged in primary industries. This is done through price support and marketing schemes. We may even have to consider extending these measures a little further because our primary industries today still earn 55% at least of our overseas income. Without that large part of our overseas income we would find it very difficult to carry on and to buy the products, raw materials and so on that we need for our factories.
I believe that the amendment proposed by the Minister would be a better proposition than that contained in the motion. The Minister has told us what the Government has done to give help to a wide range of industries. But quite apart from any inquiry which might be held, the Government must be free to carry out such remedial measures as it thinks fit on a short term basis. Our primary industries in country districts deserve more support, lt is very difficult to know the immediate answer to the problem, but in view of the facts that 1 have stated I support the amendment moved by the Minister. I suggest that the Senate carry the amendment and allow primary industries to have inquiries at an industry level to see whether we can arrive at some sort of answer to the problem on a short term basis, rather than have a royal commission which I believe would take a long time in arriving at an answer. No solution can arrive soon enough for the majority of our primary producers. I support the amendment and oppose the motion.
– It is indeed refreshing to see the Senate with one purpose in mind, to see a unanimity of thought on how to tackle the problem of primary production in Australia. We all recognise that there are problems within the primary industries and it becomes a matter of how, between us, we may tackle the problem. I suggest that it should not be difficult to resolve the situation because the Australian Labor Party proposes to move an amendment which should fit the bill admirably. The approach from the Australian Democratic Labor Party is that there should be a royal commission to inquire into the primary industries. I suggest that that would be a most protracted way of attacking the problem. Senator McManus has qualified his resolution by saying that he would support any short term measures that are introduced to support primary industry, but the substance of his motion is that there should be a royal commission. I repeat that it would be a most protracted way of endeavouring to find a solution to a problem which is with us at present.
I have had taken out by the Research Service of the Parliamentary Library a survey of royal commissions which were held between 1953 and 1967. In that period several royal commissions were conducted. To indicate just how protracted their inquiries can be, 1 point out that the Royal Commission on Television was set up on 12th February 1953 but did not present its report to Parliament until 29th September 1954 - 19 months later. The Royal Commission on Espionage was set up on 3rd May 1954 and presented its report to Parliament on 14th September 1955 - 16 months later. The Royal Commission on Alleged Improper Practices and Improper Refusal to Co-operate with the Victoria Police Force on the Part of Persons Employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department in Victoria in Relation to Illegal Gambling was set up on 23rd May 1962 and presented its report to Parliament on 23rd May 1963-12 months later. The Royal Commission on the loss of HMAS Voyager’ was set up on 14th February 1964 and presented its report to Parliament on 13th August 1964 - 7 months later. The Royal Commission on the Statement of Lieutenant-Commander Cabban was set up on 31st May 1967 and presented its report to Parliament on 13th March 1968-10 months later.
I think honourable senators would agree that the Royal Commissions to which I have referred would be very minor in their extent compared with a royal commission such as has been suggested by Senator McManus. I suggest that a minimum of 3 years would elapse before a report could be available from a royal commission such as he proposes, and in all probability it would take considerably longer than 3 years. Nevertheless, Senator McManus has suggested what he conceives to be the correct procedure. He has qualified his resolution with other statements. However, I do not think the qualification meets the bill. 1 believe it is important to do something which will give a lead to the community. 1 do not think that the amendment which has been moved by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) fits into this category. The amendment states in effect that the most appropriate way to investigate the present problems of primary industries would be to establish industry sponsored committees of inquiry. At a later stage I shall refer to the Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics to show that that would be almost impracticable if we are to rethink some of the problems associated with the industry. It is no good continuing to think as we have in the past. Surely we must have more progressive thoughts in this direction. 1 do not believe that an industry sponsored committee would have the facilities - I am not suggesting that it would not have the capabilities - for the forward thinking which is suggested in the document to which I shall refer later.
– Does the honourable senator think that the Labor Party’s suggestion would be better?
– Not only do I think that the suggestion of the Australian Labor Party would be better but I also believe that it. would be better. I shall deal with this aspect at a later stage. The situation is that, although we must have forward looking policies, it is nevertheless important to have some degree of self analysis in order to see whether some of the difficulties which we are experiencing at present can be attributed to our own faults. 1 would suggest that one of the major difficulties in Australia, has been the inability of the Government to grapple with the question of the harnessing of water. How many millions of gallons of water flow into the sea annually? We have not done a great deal about harnessing this water. I can remember the time - it was perhaps 40 years ago - when Dr Bradfield put up a proposition - I do not know whether it was to the Queensland State Government or the Commonwealth Government, but that is immaterial - for a water conservation scheme throughout Queensland known as the Bradfield scheme. At that lime the scheme would have cost approximately $14m. Everybody said that that was too much to spend on such a proposal. Although they approved of the proposal in principle they felt that the money was loo substantial to be spent in that direction.
Lel me refer to the situation ut present. Only yesterday I was speaking to members of the Walgett Shire Council, which has been advocating for some time a water conservation project in its area. I am not suggesting that its scheme is perfect. All 1 am saying is that the Walgett Shire Council has put up propositions which it claims have nol been examined. The Council’s proposition w;is that from its point of view such a water conservation scheme would be of greater benefit than the Snowy River scheme. If the Council’s claim is true I would suggest that we are not being very forward thinking if we do not examine such a proposition. I return to the thoughts expressed by the Minister for Air in moving an amendment to the motion to the effect that there should be industry sponsored committees of inquiry. In this instance we have an industry sponsored committee of inquiry. Ils members have gone out of their way io endeavour to influence the State or Commonwealth Governments that there should be a water conservation scheme in the Walgett area, but we have done nothing about it. I believe that in this respect we have failed quite a substantial number of people throughout Australia.
Queensland has experienced drought after drought, lt has been said on innumerable occasions that there should be water conservation projects in certain areas of Queensland, ft has been also said that had such projects been undertaken many years ago we would not be in the parlous situation in which we are today. I say this quite objectively. Mr Acting Deputy President. 1 do nol say it in a spirit of carping criticism. I believe f hat’ it is necessary to look at what has happened in the past to ensure that the same mistakes are not made in the future.
If that is not a reasonable proposition then 1 believe we will not make any progress in the future because we will be starting on the wrong basis. I do not wish to debate the relative merits of the Dartmouth and Chowilla proposals, but I believe that when it was recommended that a dam be constructed at Chowilla about S6m was spent on preliminary work in this area before the project was abandoned. For the life of me I. cannot see how a responsible Government could embark upon spending about S6m of the public’s money on a proposal and then abandoning it. I do not think it is good planning. Most certainly it is not good husbandry. 1 wish to make a few comments in relation to (he rising costs to farmers. It is inevitable in an affluent society that costs must rise. It is useless wringing one’s hands and bemoaning the fact that prices are continually rising. The immediate answer will be that this is due to higher wages. 1 am reminded of an occasion when I appeared in the State Industrial Court in Queensland and the President of the Industrial Court, a Supreme Court judge, was hearing evidence on a basic wage application. The employers advocate was bemoaning the fact that rising costs and inflation were crippling the industry. He said that the workers should not receive additional wages, lt has always appeared to me to be most pertinent that the Supreme Court judge turned to the employers advocate and said: ‘We agree that inflation is not good for the Australian economy, but who is going to lead the way back?’ The workers cannot lead the way back. A system must be devised which will prevent or endeavour to prevent the increased costs of wages and prices being passed on to the farmers. It is acknowledged that the farmers find it most difficult to puss those prices on any further. Therefore, if we were to have a look at the past and examine our failures and endeavour to correct them 1 believe that we would be more successful in the future. 1 do not think that there should be any panic about the present situation. I believe that sufficient forethought and a pooling together of the brains of Australia to tackle the problem would be sufficient to alleviate and arrest the situation. I am fortified in this regard by an article in the ‘Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economies’. A report refers to the ‘Australian Farm Situation, 1969-70’. The sum mary on page 1 of that document reads as follows:
Unfavourable seasonal conditions and market opportunities have resulted in reduced output of most cereal crops and sugar, and even though livestock production is expected to set a new record, total farm output will probably be lower than in 196S-69, with a smaller accumulation of wheat stocks. Total exports of rural origin are expected to teach a new volume record: increases in exports of wool, beef, mutton, lamb and rice should more than offset a substantial fail in sugar exports. Wheat and dairy exports, although greater than last year, will probably be below the levels reached 2 or 3 years ago. and a further increase in wheat stocks is expected.
Prices received by Tanners for wool and several other products have declined, while aggregate costs have increased slightly. Net farm income, unadjusted for stock changes, is estimated at S%9m, a fall nf S251m or 21% from the previous year’s figure. 1 would suggest that all is not lost, when the serious droughts which have occurred throughout Australia are taken into consideration. I believe that with proper planning these droughts can be dealt with in future. Let me turn to page 8 of the document to which I have referred. This will show whether a committee as suggested by the Government could assist in this direction. Page 8 of the ‘Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics’ states:
Of rapidly growing importance as a market For many of Australia’s farm products is Japan. Although a developed country, Japan has strictly limited potential for increased local production. Rising incomes together wilh rapidly changing tastes suggest a widening potential for sales nf a range of Australian products such as beef, ch: C.c coarse grains, sugar, wool and perhaps cotton. This market 011ers good prospects for growth in the short term as well as in the long term, provided our production can be successfully tailored to Japanese requirements.
I suggest that the industry sponsored committee of inquiry could not hope to take advantage of the potential outlined in the paragraph I have read. The proposition to be put forward by the Australian Labor Party could and should be able to cope with the situation. The Labor Party believes that the Australian Agricultural Council should meet. I will stand corrected on this point, but to my knowledge the Council was formed in December 1934 and 1 have not heard a great deal of its reports. It may be said that we are talking politically. If one has a look at the composition of the Council that argument is destroyed immediately because the personnel of the committee are, in the vast majority, members of parties other than the Australian Labor Party.
– I think they all are.
– I am not talking politically, I am talking objectively. The Australian Labor Party is trying to overcome the problems of the primary industries and if members of the Australian Country Party want to interject and show they are not interested in that proposition, then it is unfortunate for them.
The terms of reference of the Australian Agricultural Council are so wide that the Council can do many things for primary industry. For instance, the Council has the following functions:
Generally to promote the welfare and development of agricultural industries.
To arrange mutual exchange of information regarding agricultural production and marketing.
To co-operate for the purpose of ensuring the improvement of the quality of agricultural products and the maintenance of highgrade standards.
To ensure, as far as possible, balance between production and available markets.
To consider the requirements of agricultural industries in regard to organised marketing.
To promote the adoption of a uniform policy on external marketing problems, particularly those pertaining to the negotiation of intraCommonwealth (of Nations) and International Agreements.
To consult in regard to proposals for the grant of financial assistance to agricultural industries.
To consider matters submitted to the Council by the Standing Committee on Agriculture.
Mr Deputy President, what wider charter could anyone want than that?
– Provided it operates.
– Provided it operates, (rue. It is the function of the Government to see that it does operate. I stated a while ago that I had never heard of any reports from the Council, and nobody has told me anything about any such reports. The situation is that this body was set up and its services have not been utilised. Whose fault is that? It is not the fault of the body itself, lt is the function of the Government to see that the organisation operates as intended. I repeat that this is not carping criticism on my part. I am trying to be objective and assist the primary industries. I commenced my speech on the note that I hoped we would all agree that there is a problem in primary industry and that we would submit our views on the correct procedures to be adopted to attack the problem. T close on that note. I hope I do not criticise stupidly any proposition put forward by honourable senators. I submit that our whole proposition is by far the best if it is allowed to work. I say the amendment that will be moved subsequently by the Australian Labor Party is practical as a charter to do the job. Our amendment would enable the job to be done in a most capable manner and so assist the people whom some of my colleagues on the left say are in such a difficult situation at the present time.
– I do not doubt for a moment that it would take a very long time for the royal commission envisaged by Senator McManus to investigate the ramifications and further prospects of the 18 primary industries mentioned by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). A royal commission would be cumbersome and would probably take a long time to reach a conclusion. Senator Milliner spoke about this great charter which is enjoyed by the Australian Agricultural Council. The amendment states:
In regard to the words proposed to be inserted -
Leave out all words after ‘would be’ in paragraph (1), insert ‘for the Government to call an emergency meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to review the present crisis in the countryside, and give proper national leadership to end, without delay, the present uncertainty and current hardship’.
The Australian Agricultural Council, to the best of my knowledge, is composed of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States and it is notorious that the Commonwealth and the States do not agree at all conferences. If they do agree it is notorious that since federation the representatives of the States report back to their own parliaments and their own parliaments then do not agree, lt would be a super-optimist who would believe that such a body composed of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States could give national leadership.
– Talk will not fix this; it is action that is needed.
– I am stating something that has been proved since federation. The honourable senator knows perfectly well that the Commonwealth and the States very often do not agree, and that if they do agree it very often happens that when the representatives of the States report to their respective parliaments the parliaments refuse to sanction what has been done. In my view, to get concerted positive action it is necessary that the States should cooperate in this matter because they hold jurisdiction over areas that are vital to primary production.
Senator McManus quoted figures ; you can quote them ad infinitum ; detailing the slump that has taken place in the Commonwealth in primary production. The startling figures he quoted indicated that there has been a decline of 21% in net income and that the percentage of gross national income earned by primary production has fallen from 8% to 4%. Those figures are startling. They have shown up at a time when most of the community is in affluent circumstances and when sections of the community are demanding, and are receiving, added increments, lt is a most unfortunate feature of our economic setup that when those things happen the costs accruing to primary production increase with them. Primary industry the world over is in trouble. Because of excessive subsidisation in the European Common Market large quantities of primary products are being destroyed. In spite of that fact there is serious dissatisfaction among primary producers. A good long look at the position which exists in the European Economic Community leads one to believe that subsidisation by itself is not a solution to the problem.
In this country while certain of our markets overseas have been receding and we have lost others altogether, and while this Government has done much for primary producers, the plain fact is that there is a surplus of primary products the world over. The position which pertains in regard to wheat is brought about because there is too much wheat in the world. It is something about which there can be no short remedy, but I do say in all seriousness that at this time in this country when nearly every class of primary product is in glut supply, we should take a good long hard look at the primary products which are being imported into Australia. I have asked questions on this subject often. We have been told that those imports amount to only 1%, 2%, 3% or 4% of our total imports and that they are so small in terms of Australian consumption that they do not really matter. In my view that is a completely false conception because it is perfectly true that if you have a sufficiency of production of any given commodity and you add f% to that production by imports, that 1% does infinitely more harm than would be indicated by the figure itself because you pass immediately from a sufficiency to a surplus.
– Do you not think, therefore, that it is the economic structure of these industries which requires examination?
– Probably it is but I would certainly have a look at the importation of primary products into Australia.
– Which affects the economic structure of a particular rural industry. I would agree with the honourable senator on that.
– I think that is one of the bedrock causes of the trouble. I believe that the primary producer, particularly so far as the local market is concerned, has been costed out of production so that it is almost impossible for him to compete. However I do not go along with the idea that because the percentage of imports is minute the position is not affected. If you import even a very small percentage onto an already glutted market you will do very much more damage than is indicated by the percentage imported.
I support the amendment which has been moved by the Minister for Air who represents in this place the Minister for Primary Industry. If notice is taken of the committees which are set up under the proposed amendment and if the Government will act in accordance with the recommendations of those committees - that has not always been the experience in the past in relation to the setting up of committees - I think that something can be done for primary production. But I repeat that it is absolute folly at this time when there is a glut of primary production in this country to import, whether it is under the auspices of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement or outside it, primary products in no matter what quantities and place them on an already glutted market.
– Would not increased production have the same disastrous effect?
– But in regard to the matter that I have brought up in this place so often you have it both ways. For example, in regard to peas you have imports, you have production of 120 million lb and you have consumption of 80 million lb.
– 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.
– I rise to draw the attention of the Senate to further aspects of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and the association with it, which has been demonstrated, of certain members of the Australian Labor Party both in this chamber and the House of Representatives. I do so not with the purpose of seeking partisan political advantage but because I feel as strongly as I have felt on any issue that what is involved in this Moratorium Campaign strikes at the very fundamentals of the system of government that we have in this country. Naturally, 1 am opposed to the objectives of the Moratorium Campaign-
– Mr President, 1 move-
– There is a point of order. Sit down.
– Order! Senator Keeffe, you will keep quiet, too. I will hear Senator Cavanagh.
– I move that Senator Greenwood be no longer heard.
– Order! The Senate Standing Orders have no provision for a motion that a senator be not heard.
– I regret that there was that example of an attempt to stifle what I believe is every senator’s right of free speech. Involved in the Moratorium Campaign and the activities associated with it is an incipient involvement of every individual’s right to freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom of association, ft is because the Moratorium Campaign and its activities strike at these things that I, for my part, would not regard my obligation as a member of this chamber as being discharged unless I used every opportunity available to me to express strongly what I am concerned about. 1 appreciate from the laughter and mirth which bring disorder to this chamber that members of the Opposition do not regard this as a serious matter.
– Order! The Senate must come to order.
– It is all the more significant that members of the Opposition treat this matter with laughter and derision, as they are attempting to do, because I believe that with an activity such as the Moratorium Campaign-
– Order! Honourable senators on my left can go only so far in what they are doing. If they give me any trouble I will deal with them. I am not in a humour to be lenient tonight. I call Senator Greenwood.
– I thank you, Mr President. I desire to state, so that it may go into the record, that since I began speaking there has been continual laughter by a group of approximately 10 Labor senators which is designed to deride and, if possible, to intimidate and embarrass me and to prevent me from saying as I wish to say what I propose to say. I assure the Senate and f assure you, Mr President, that, come what may, I shall abide by the notes I have prepared and 1 shall say what 1. have to say.
I have said that I am naturally opposed to the objectives of the Moratorium Campaign. Although those objectives have significance. I believe that they are of lesser importance than the tactics which are being promoted at the present time by those people who seek to give publicity to the Campaign and its purposes. We, of course, are a free country. We shall remain a free country so long as people are able to speak as they wish to speak, to move as they wish to move and to associate and demonstrate to give effect to the objectives and options that they hold. We are a people who, over our history, have been free and able to express our views. 1 consider it imperative that we maintain in this community the right of every individual to speak what he has to speak.
The attitude of the Labor Party in this chamber, in seeking by a constant barrage of interjections to deny me the right to speak, ought to make the Australian people alert and alive to the risks they would run if they should ever give power to members of the Labor Party. I sense in what Labor Senators are doing tonight that they are afraid to hear what I have to say and that they wish, by any means, to stifle and prevent discussion. If that is the belief in free speech which they hold, I sense that their objectives in supporting the Moratorium Campaign must be rated as insincere.
The Labor Party has never been unable to present its view on Vietnam. The election campaign in 1966 was fought on the issues which the Labor Party is seeking to perpetuate to this day. In that election the people of Australia, by a resounding majority, rejected the Labor Party’s view. Much of what was associated with the presentation of the Labor Party’s views in those days was associated with scenes of violence which were a disgrace to the Australian electoral scene. In the 3 years from 1966 to 1969 the Australian Labor Party maintained a perpetual propaganda campaign which was designed to promote the view that it is still promoting. Members of the Labor Party were not very concerned to fight the 1969 Federal election on this campaign, but it was an issue in that election and again the Australian people, by a resounding majority, rejected the Labor Party’s view on this point.
When members of the Labor Party, with the sense of frustration that continual inability lo have their point of view succeed promotes in them, resort to other tactics, one wonders what is the purpose of those tactics. As I said, the Australian Labor Party’s viewpoint has been presented to the Australian public on many occasions. There has always been opportunity for that viewpoint to be presented. With regard to one aspect of the Australian Labor Party’s policy. I say that it is the policy of appeasement; it is (he policy of the 1930s which culminated in the Second World War; it is the policy of Munich: it is the policy of peace at any price.
What are the facts with which we are concerned in regard to Vietnam? The first is that we have an actual and continuing North Vietnamese aggression and that we have had that aggression for many years.
Let me quote what Sir Robert Thompson said when he was the Guest of Honour on the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 8th March. It is a striking indication of what the present position is.
– Who is Sir Robert Thompson?
– He is a renowned British military adviser who saw very successful service in Malaysia. He was the head of the British Advisory Commission in Saigon from 1961 to 1965. He was a special adviser to President Nixon on South Vietnam. He has recently been in Australia for consultations wilh the Australian Government. He said:
All current talk of post-Vietnam policies is premature because these must inevitably wait on the result. One side or the other must win in the sense that either North Vietnam is going to get South Vietnam or it is not. Upon (his. more than just the future of South East Asia depends. The repercussions of the Communist victory would spill over into India, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The Western Alliance would be seriously damaged and a defeat would, in the words of President Nixon, “result in a collapse of confidence in American leadership nol only in Asia but throughout the world”. In the following period, when Communist countries and revolutionary movements know that they will be supported while threatened countries in the Free World are uncertain whether they would be supported, a very dangerous situation could develop.
Never let it be forgotten that the United States Government is prepared to negotiate and has been prepared to negotiate for a long time. The Vietcong is not even prepared to discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops, lt is not even prepared to discuss the question of holding elections under international supervision. President Nixon has said that anything is negotiable, except the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own future. Earlier this year 1 asked a question of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon). On 7th April he provided me with a reply. The question concerned the Vietnamese peace talks. He said that there had been 5S plenary sessions of the talks up to 12th March 1970 and he said:
No progress has been made so far.
He went on to say:
The lack of progress in the talks is the result of the communists’ refusal to enter into serious negotiations. They have refused to discuss the reasonable and constructive proposals put forward by President Nixon on 14l!i May 1969. ami by President Thieu on 1 Hh July l%9. despite the fact that the Allied side h;is made clear that all aspects of those proposals and any other proposals put forward are negotiable, wilh ihe single exception of the fundamental right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own future. Instead, the communist side has continued to demand that the Allies accept unconditionally their own proposals, the chief elements of which are the unilateral withdrawal of all Allied forces and ihe replacement of the present Government of the Republic of Vietnam by a so-called ‘provisional coalition government’. There arc indications that the Communists, in maintaining their intransigence, hope for a progressive weakening in Allied resolution, which will leave the way open foc them to achieve their own maximum objectives.
– From what are you quoting?
– I am quoting from the answer given to me by the Minister for External Affairs on 7th April this year. Wc are at the present time undergoing a test of resolution. Hanoi and the Communist world is intransigent. It is not achieving its territorial or military ascendancy, but it is relying upon a relentless propaganda campaign which distorts the situation in Vietnam, which ignores the fact of aggression from North Vietnam in South Vietnam and which publicises and stresses the horror of war - the horror of all war - and puts all the blame for that horror on the United States in order to weaken the determination of the United States and its allies. In these circumstances, any people with a sense of history and a sense of responsibility, and with a genuine desire for peace and the protection of free peoples, small peoples throughout the world, cannot in honour or with any hope of preserving peace in the future pull out of Vietnam. The Australian policy, the American policy, the policy of all the countries which are engaged in South Vietnam, is to resist aggression, first of all, and with it there is alive the determination that the South Vietnamese people shall be permitted the ability to determine their own form of government. It is apparent to anybody who can understand simple facts that to pull out of Vietnam now is to give in to aggression and to create the likely prospect of South Vietnam being overrun by the insurgents from North Vietnam.
Why docs the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign urge the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam? It can be only because it is part and parcel of a propaganda campaign which is designed to ensure the success of the North Vietnamese. 1 believe that this policy of withdrawal and peace, in the sense that it is talked about by those promoting the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign, is a policy of peace at any price, and peace at any price was shown to the world in the 1930s as never securing peace at all. Having stated those certain objectives - and I am sure that the opportunity will present itself in the future to say more on that - it is the tactics which are currently being employed which ought to be understood. These tactics are based on the proposition that government policy is determined by the pressure of mass demonstrations. There can be no other interpretation placed upon the campaign which is to culminate in mass demonstrations calling for immediate action.
There is some belief in those who promote this campaign that by mass demonstrations calling for immediate action, such action can be achieved. That is antithesis of the sort of governmental process by which we are governed in this country. Also, it is somewhat different from the policy which a few months ago the Leader of the Australian Labor Party professed. In his letter of 18th December to Mr Chamberlain in Western Australia, Mr Whitlam said that members of the Party should not give the false and damaging impression that under a Labor government foreign policy would be determined at mass meetings or by public protest. But apparently it is all right for the Labor Party to hope that with regard to the Liberal Government, policy can be determined in that way. But is it an indication that if there were ever to be a Labor government, the mass demonstrations which are so espoused now would not be tolerated? The organisers of this campaign must know that the Government will not respond to mass pressures. One must therefore assume that there is some other objective which these people hope to achieve by the holding of this campaign.
As I said last night, the tactics which are being followed are an invitation to lawlessness to the mass of the people, in which violence can readily be precipitated. I have stressed that there are indications that some persons are following tactics and pursuing objectives which are not associated with a non-violent campaign. I have also indicated that there are certain inherent probabilities in having a mass of people together, in which some small action can precipitate something which no one really intends. But what 1 have been staggered at are some of the statements which have been made by members ofthe Opposition in this chamber. Last night when we were debating this issue Senator Cavanagh said:
The hope is for a peaceful demonstration.It will gain greater support from the public if it is a peaceful demonstration.
– Why don’t you help us?
– But then Senator Cavanagh, if he will listen to what he said, went onto say:
But there is no possibility that it will be peaceful.
– Because of rats like you.
– Would you like to listen to what you said? You said: It will be a period of emotional strain when we think of the horrors of the tyrannical war in which we are engaged.
If it is merely the thought of emotional strain which makes violence inevitable, as Senator Cavanagh is saying, what prospect is there of this campaign having a peaceful outcome? Senator Cavanagh also went on to say:
In addition certain people will be planted amongst those taking part in the demonstration forthe purpose of provoking violence and discrediting this mass demonstration that we are capable of organising.
It would appear to me that anticipating violence. Senator Cavanagh is seeking before the event to explain why it happened, because I think that in his first statement he gave the game away. He said that where you have emotional strain, where you think of the horror of war, violence is inevitable. There is no prospect that the campaign will be peaceful. This is consistent with what Senator Cavanagh said on an earlier occasion this year, that the mere existence on the statute book of legislation, such as the National Service Act, is. in itself, provocation. We have Senator Keeffe saying very much the same thing. Last night he said:
Then he said:
They are the people with the inside knowledge and associations with ASIO who will provide the plainclothes secret servicemen to see that violence is started somewhere.
So we have the preparation beforehand of an explanation for what violence might occur. I do not see how violence can be incited by any words of mine which are uttered in this chamber, and the attempt by members of the Opposition to believe that violence in some way is justified or explained by what I say here tonight represents shallow thinking and is in no way justification of what they are claiming. It is no use believing that words and intentions by themselves will make the demonstration non-violent. I remember in 1968. when Mr Calwell addressed a meeting before the Fourth of July demonstration at the American Consulate, he expressed the hope that the demonstration would he nonviolent. He had no prospect whatever of succeeding in that hope. That was one of the most unruly scenes that Melbourne has ever witnessed.
The problems associated with mass demonstrations become potential dangers when they are associated with the doctrine that citizens do not have to obey an objectionable law. All citizens have an -obligation to obey the ordinary laws of the land. Law is the rule under which the lights and freedoms of individuals are protected. Laws which protect personal freedom, personal property and public property, and the rules of the road are the laws under which people can live and move amongst each other. To destroy respect for the law is to destroy something of everyone’s rights and freedoms. History has proved that laws are changed. Some laws are changed because they are not observed. On some occasions the non-observance was due to a deliberate policy of disobedience of the law. If, for reasons of moral scruple or because of a conscientious objection, people disobey laws, they must pay the penalty. They cannot escape scot free. If the sanction, which is part of the law, is taken away, the law itself is taken away. If the sanction is destroyed, the law is destroyed. When people destroy laws because they conscientiously believe that they cannot obey them, they must accept the penalty. The penalty that is imposed or the martyrdom that they suffer may be an example which leads to the law being changed. I have no quarrel with that proposition. Much of what has happened in our history has been due to such events.
To assert positively that no citizen is obliged to obey a law which he regards as unjust - or, in more recent times, as Dr Cairns has put it, which the citizen regards as objectionable - is to make a rule of what cannot be made a rule, if we are going to have any respect for the law. If we associate that doctrine of ability to disobey a law with the circumstances involved in the promoting of a mass demonstration, we invite people at demonstrations to ignore the law, and that is the area where a mass without any law or without respect for law becomes a mob. Therein lies the danger. Therein lies the risk. Last night, by way of attempting to answer 1 or 2 things 1 had said about 5 members of the Opposition referred to an editorial which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 15th April. It would appear to me that, having one newspaper editorial their way, that represented a sufficient answer to these serious matters, as I view them, which I put las! night. What I say has received some support in the newspaper editorials. The Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 26th March contained a reference to Dr Cairns and to what he had said in his call to occupy the streets of Melbourne. The editorial said:
Or Cairns has himself been the victim of violence. This makes it harder to understand the incitement that could too easily be read into his statement. He hopes that ‘the occupation of the city streets’ will be non-violent - ‘hut we cannot guarantee non-violence because of the threat of police intimidation’.
These are dangerous tactics. They must be repudiated. The Melbourne ‘Age’ of 30th March 1970 - and the ‘Age’ has been prepared to give credence to the more responsible attitudes of the Australian Labor Party - under the heading of ‘Dangerous protest’ said this:
The frustrations of Dr Cairns are easily understood. For years he has campaigned passionately but unsuccessfully, against conscription and against Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the frustrations of this unusually skilful and altruistic politician are leading him now to support a proposed activity which is irresponsible, potentially dangerous and, ultimately, futile.
The article concluded:
Dr Cairns’s hope that the street demonstrations will be non-violent seems naive in the extreme. He must know that the tiniest disruptive minority in a crowd (or one over hasty policeman) can precipitate violence during a demonstration. Perhaps the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) over-reacted in accusing Dr Cairns of embarking on a policy of anarchy. Nevertheless, responsibility for any violence on May 8 will rest squarely with him.
I say these things because I hope that their constant reiteration may have the desired effect on those participating to do all they can to ensure that what occurs occurs without disorder and violence and because I hope that some positive action will be taken to ensure that violence does not occur. I would have thought that any responsible political party would al least endeavour to achieve that aim. 1 conclude by saying that the Labor Party is trying to have it both ways. A number of members of the Labor Party are wearing their Moratorium badges. I know that they will speak in support of the Moratorium Campaign. Why, then, did the ALP Federal Executive choose not to support the Moratorium? In its statement made on 26th February this year, which was read to the Senate last night by Senator McClelland, the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign was not mentioned. What the Labor Party Executive was hoping to achieve was that members of the Labor Party would take the leadership in a peaceful campaign. What is happening is that members of the Labor Party are being hauled along and are trailing behind organisers and other groups which are hell bent on making some protest on 8th May. The Labor Party is making no effort to control it. It is in the hope that the ALP will take some action to prevent violence occurring that I raise the issue in this way tonight.
Senator POYSER (Victoria) [10.57J- In this chamber last night and again tonight we heard a deliberate attempt by Senator Greenwood - who no doubt will be followed by his colleague Senator Rae at a later stage in this debate - to incite violence at the Moratorium demonstrations that will take place in May. It is quite obvious that last night Senator Greenwood was not able to get the support of honourable senators on his side of the chamber to launch a full scale debate on the subject, which those of us on this side of the chamber challenged the Government members to have here one Wednesday so that the Australian people could listen to a broadcast of the debate. It is quite obvious that, apart from Senator Rae, he had no support for the attack made last night because no other speaker on the Government side rOSe to support his statements. It is quite obvious that Senator Greenwood thought that his efforts last night were insufficient to incite violence at the Moratorium demonstrations in May. Again tonight he has endeavoured to get publicity in the Press - which he was unable to get today - to ensure that this violence would take place and so that on a subsequent date in the Senate he could say: T told you so’. I have no doubt in my mind that Senator Greenwood and other persons who have a vested interest in seeing violence in connection with this Moratorium would not hesitate to use provocateurs at the Moratorium demonstrations to ensure that violence look place.
I mention another aspect of which many honourable senators may not be aware. We saw the exhibition of two back bench senators on the Government side clawing at each other to get to the front bench on 1st July 1971, when a vacancy will occur in the Ministry. Both these young lawyers at some stage of their life could have fought in the armed forces. They chose to enter politics. They voted in favour of sending 20-year-old lads to Vietnam. They said: Good luck to them. We will shed every drop of their blood, but not ours.’ One honourable senator opposite last night admitted that he is a reservist. He is in very honourable company because Sir Robert Menzies, a former Prime Minister of this country, was also once a reservist. His very brilliant military career was cut short by the advent of war. It was most unfortunate that that gentleman had to have his career in the military forces cut short because a war occurred.
– What about Mr Calwell?
- Mr Calwell had the courage not to join the forces because he held strong views. Senator Little is laughing. He had an opportunity in 1939 to join the forces. He is in my age group. He had an opportunity to join but did not accept it. Now 2 young lawyers on the opposite side of the chamber are clawing at each other to get the one ministerial vacancy that will exist next year. They have to show that one is more hawkish than the other to obtain the one portfolio that will be available. That is why in the Senate on 2 nights in succession we have seen the disgraceful behaviour of Senator Greenwood. I have ho doubt that Senator Rae will attempt to out-hawk his colleague in this debate in order to be absolutely certain of attracting the eye of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), rather than have it attracted by the senator from Victoria.
Last night a 4-hour debate ensued in the Senate in which only 2 honourable senators opposite took part. The debate gained no publicity in today’s Press. Therefore the motives for the debate were not realised and the debate is being repeated tonight. The first purpose behind the debate is to create a situation in which violence is sure to occur in the conduct of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. The second purpose is to ensure that the hawkish views of the 2 young lawyers opposite will be taken into account when the Prime Minister decides to fill the ministerial vacancy that will exist in this chamber on 1st July next year.
– What about getting back to a debate on the Moratorium?
– We will have this debate at any convenient time when the proceedings of this House are being broadcast, so that the Australian people can hear it. We who are supporting the Moratorium are not ashamed of our support for it. We believe that Australian troops should be withdrawn from Vietnam. We believe it is a rotten war and we have been drawn into it simply because of the politics associated with big business and the investments of United States companies in this country. We believe that honourable senators opposite are not in any way concerned that the Government is sending 20-year-old youths to be killed in Vietnam. Not one of you of military age has attempted to carry on that fight although you profess to believe in the defence of Australia in Vietnam.
In 1939 many thousands of Australians enlisted to fight against Fascism. There was no question of conscription of men to fight in the Middle East or to travel to England or to the islands in the Pacific in order to save Australia. There was no question of conscription at any level because we knew in Australia that if this country was in danger enough young Australians would be prepared to defend it.
– Did you not hear about the regulations passed by the late John Curtin?
– You are talking about something that happened much later. You are a boy in a man’s world.
– lt was the same war.
– Yes, the same war that you refused or decided not to fight in. You were fit, you were able and you were young enough.
– He was fit, able and unwilling.
– ‘Unwilling’ is the word for it. I disagreed with the conduct of events in Korea but I say publicly without hesitation that we were able to get enough volunteers in Australia to fill the force that Australia was committed to provide for Korea. The situation is different in respect of Vietnam. In the initial stages we had to find 4,000 soldiers to fight in Vietnam, from amongst a population of about 12 million. Could the Government find 4,000 volunteers for the stinking war in Vietnam? Of course not. Our young people know that that war is unjust. They know that the Government is not game to declare war. Government supporters say that there is no war. Ministers in this chamber have said that there is no war, yet young Australians are being killed in Vietnam every day of the week. It is ‘business as usual’. The Government has to conscript 20-year-old boys who have no vote. They have not finished their education or apprenticeships. They are at a stage of development where they should be on the sporting fields of this country, but they are being sent to die in Vietnam.
The Government could nol get 4,000 volunteers to fight in the Vietnam war and now it has had to raise the force to 8,000. It became necessary for the Government to decide that 60% of our people who fight in Vietnam would be young kids. Initially the Government claimed that 2 years of training was necessary under national service regulations to make a soldier out of a trainee. You are now sending them after 9 months training to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. The initial debates in this Parliament on the Vietnam war prove that a 2-year period of training was initiated following the Government’s claim that that time was required to train a soldier. Now the Government is prepared to send half trained lads into the jungles of Vietnam. They are sent to delouse mines about which they know nothing. The newspapers carry reports that 20-and 21-year-old national servicemen are being killed because they are insufficiently trained to handle the mines they are asked to delouse.
A Minister said in the Senate that the mines were laid by the Americans and could not be shifted. But the North Vietnamese have shifted them and the plans have been changed. When our boys go into the mined areas they find that the mines are in different places. When they attempt to delouse them, they blow them up. lt is an absolute disgrace to every member of the Government Parties that you are sending boys on a man’s errand. You are not supported by the general public of Australia. The people en masse have now decided to protest and Senator Greenwood, the hawk from Victoria, is endeavouring to incite violence so that he can come back to this Parliament and say: ‘We were right.’ He is seeking to ensure that broken limbs and bodies will be in the streets of Melbourne and Sydney to prove that he is right, to ensure that he can get the public on his side in talking about the rabble that he claims is supporting the Moratorium.
Every honourable senator on this side of the chamber knows that professional provocateurs will be used within the ranks of the demonstrators to make sure that the people become violent. I am sure that Senator Greenwood does believe in his own heart that he is acting to incite that kind of violence. I advise him to examine the records of the visit to Australia of that great democrat Air Vice-Marshal Ky. He came into this country with guns on his hips. At every door in this Parliament there were officers with guns on their hips. We were denied the right to come into this Parliament with more than 3 guests while he was visiting this place. There were armed people in every corridor in this building. There were hundreds of New South Wales policemen hiding behind hedges. A peaceful demonstration was conducted at the Canberra Hotel and court proceedings proved that provocation took place to ensure that that peaceful demonstration would get the utmost publicity. People were charged with offences. However some fatal mistakes were made - the wrong people were charged.
– They should have charged the Democratic Labor Party.
– 1 will deal with the Democratic Labor Party later. They charged the wrong people, lt was clearly disclosed to Australia that there was provocation on that occasion and the persons charged and who faced the magistrate in this capital city were not found guilty.
Last night in this chamber Senator McManus from Victoria quoted at length from some documents which honourable senators may have thought were quite authentic. We may have thought that he had the inside information from the committee meetings of those organising this Moratorium. Because we wanted to examine the documents Senator Wheeldon decided that he would have them tabled. The document from which Senator McManus quoted at length about the alleged activities within student groups and among children was an information bulletin published by the Democratic Labor Party. I cannot read the street number but the document was printed at an address in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. This is a document of fiction. 1 challenge any Democratic Labor Party speaker tonight to authenticate any of the statements in it. This is just a straight publicity handout from the Democratic Labor Party.
Senator McManus stood in this chamber last night holding this bulletin close to his chest, reading from it at great length and saying, in fact, that it contained inside information that he had obtained from the Moratorium committees in Monash University and other places. But it is a spurious bulletin printed by the machines of the Democratic Labor Party in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. It is exposed for what it is worth. We had it tabled so that every honourable senator could see it.
There is an article on the front of it which is alleged to be a document directing people of the Communist Party to do certain things. There is no evidence in any shape or form to suggest that it was not printed also at Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.
– It has the name and address on it.
– I challenge Senator Little to produce factual evidence relating to this document that his Party had printed on its own machines. I ask him to produce factual evidence about what appears in this document which Senator McManus claimed to be an authentic record of what was happening within the committees operating as part of the Moratorium Campaign.
– Why do you not read the document so that we can judge it?
– The honourable senator will have his opportunity to stand and authenticate what was printed in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. He can do so later. We will listen with great interest to find out who gave his Party the evidence, what the evidence is and who authenticated it.
– Where did you get the document?
– I asked for it. It was tabled last night in this chamber. I understand it is available to all honourable senators. It was tabled under Standing Order 364.
– He would only have to ask for one and we would give him one of his own.
– The DLP published it so Senator Little probably has hundreds of them. Tonight we witnessed this shabby display. Senator Greenwood and Senator Rae, who probably will speak later, seek to use the motion for the adjournment of the Senate to claw their way to the front bench next year by proving that they are the most hawkish of the candidates. We see the shabby example of the same 2 people, deliberately, on 2 nights running in this Senate, using this chamber in order to incite violence, in order to be able to prove that they are right. We witnessed the shabby performance of honourable senators on the Government side who were not prepared to support their own speakers last night. I certainly hope that Senator Greenwood has rounded up more support for tonight. We of the Opposition are prepared to match him speaker for speaker. We are prepared to remain here again until 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock, in the morning. But what is more important is that the Australian Labor Party is prepared to debate this matter at a time when the Australian people can hear what is being said rather than after the motion for the adjournment has been moved when they cannot hear the speeches made.
I am appalled, Mr President, to think that men who are ready and willing and were able to take a role in the armed forces of Australia have used this chamber to attack people who have a conscientious objection to fighting in this war. While using the chamber for this purpose they have been prepared to spill the blood of every Australian except themselves.
- Mr President, I congratulate Senator Poyser on his new role as an earnest seeker after truth because it was not always so. Senator Poyser has been associated for many years with the Labor movement in Geelong. I recall the election before the Labor split when, as the officer who had the job of posting Labor speakers to various areas, 1 posted Dr Evatt to speak in Geelong. The country organiser of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Tripovich, a close friend of Senator Poyser, came to me and said: ‘You cannot send him to Geelong because after what happened when he was there last time the electoral committee carried a motion asking that he never be sent there again’.
– What has that to do with the Moratorium?
– Senator Poyser ranged over a wide field and the honourable senator enjoyed it. Let me range a bit.
– What you are saying is not true.
– The honourable senator knows what is coming. Some time later, when the split occurred, there was an allegation that I, had not sent him there because 1 wanted Labor to lose the seat. This close friend of Senator Poyser, Mr Tripovich, did not feel inclined to tell the truth as to the reason Dr Evatt was not sent there. Senator Poyser, although he is a great protagonist of truth, allowed that lie to be propagated throughout Victoria although he knew the truth.
Seneator O’Byrne - So what?
– So what? Members of the Labor Party can give it but cannot take it. Every time you give it to them they how).
– You are senile.
– If members of the Labor Party have any decency and if they are heard in silence they should also listen in silence. 1 love to hear them howl because then I know that they are hurt.
– You are crochety. You are a nut.
– Senator McClelland has a great deal to say. I have listened night after night while he has spoken in the debate on the motion for the adjournment. He has spoken ad nauseam. He is the second most boring speaker to whom I have ever had to listen. I would suggest that if I could put up with him for hour after hour, surely he could put up with someone else for 5 minutes.
– You are crotchety and a nut.
– Withdraw that.
– I do not want him to withdraw anything.
– Mr President, I rise to order. Senator McClelland has more than once made a remark which is offensive to me. I ask for a withdrawal.
– What was the remark?
– Senator McClelland has said that Senator McManus is a nut and has also said that he is senile.
– Speaking to the point of order, there was recently a ruling that if the President did not hear a remark which was claimed to be objectionable an honourable senator may not ask for a withdrawal of the remark. I ask you, Mr President: Did you hear any objectionable remark?
– I am not prepared to go into that. If Senator McManus heard a remark and feels aggrieved 1 will take action.
– Senator Little heard it.
– Order! Senator Branson will sit down. I inform the group on my left that if they play up and try to take charge of the Senate I shall soon deal with them.
– In what way?
– Order! I have given a warning. Any more of this and I shall deal with it.
– Mr President, may I ask you how you will deal with the situation that you have just outlined? I. would be very interested to know.
– You will find out.
– Mr President, 1 have no intention of being threatened.
– Mr President-
– Order! There are 2 honourable senators standing. I call Senator Cavanagh.
– Mr President, I ask. with the greatest respect, whether your ruling tonight cancels the very recent ruling relating to the inability of the President to hear an interjection.
– Order! I do not intend at this stage to give a ruling on a ruling that I have given before. I do not propose to take the matter any further. I call Senator McManus.
– I beg the Senate’s pardon, Mr President, but standing order 418 was legitimately raised by Senator Little who took exception to words which were used in the debate. On 2 occasions it was interjected that Senator McManus was senile. Senator Little took objection under standing order 418 but there has been no ruling. The matter is still before the Chair.
– Mr President, I commend you for the ruling that has been given and I think it should be adhered to. This relates to a matter which I raised in this place the other day in your absence, Sir, and I was very disappointed when I was not upheld. If my memory serves me correctly, it is a time honoured custom that an honourable senator may object to an expression which is offensive or at which he takes umbrage and may ask that the expression be withdrawn. This is the ruling that you have given tonight.
– I have not given a ruling tonight.
– Then I apologise, Sir. Your suggestion was that Senator McManus could raise this matter and I took that as a ruling. Perhaps I used the wrong word when I said it was a ruling. I suggest that you have adopted a very wise procedure. If we had taken points of order in respect of all interjections tonight we would have been very busy people. There are tones of debate. Debates are conducted at different levels. I hope that what you have indicated, Mr President, will be your ruling now and on all occasions, that is, that a person at whom a remark is directed can take objection. It would be most strange for politicians at this hour of the night to start jumping up everywhere and becoming personally offended at every interjection.
– Order! I feel that I should clear up this matter. Senator Little has taken exception to words that he claims were used by Senator McClelland. Senator McClelland did you use those words?
– With very great respect, Mr President, which words? I said that in my opinion the honourable senator from Victoria, Senator McManus, having regard to what he had said, was adopting an attitude of senility. I do not withdraw that.
– You do not have the guts to repeat what you said.
– Senator McManus is using an unparliamentary word.
– You do not have the guts to say what you said.
– Order! I shall hear Senator Little on the point of order.
– I heard Senator McClelland interject to Senator McManus: You are senile.’ I ignored the remark once, but then it was repeated. Senator McClelland said: ‘You are senile. You are a nut.’ Then 1 took exception that the words were unparliamentary and offensive and I asked for their withdrawal.
– Order! I ask Senator McClelland whether he used those words.
– I said that having regard to the remarks that Senator McManus was making-
– Order! Did the honourable senator use the words that Senator Little has complained about?
– I said that in my opinion, having regard to the remarks that Senator McManus was addressing to the Chair, Senator McManus was senile in the remarks he was making. I do not withdraw the remark.
– I have not asked for a withdrawal yet. I want to know whether the honourable senator then went on and made the other statement. The honourable senator referred to Senator McManus as being senile, but did he go on and say that Senator McManus was nuts?
– Plural or singular?
– Order!I do not need advice from Senator O’Byrne.I call Senator McClelland.
-I said that in my opinion and having regard to the remarks that he was makingI thought Senator McManus was uttering senile remarks. I am sorry, Mr President, but I did not hear your later remarks.
– Did the honourable senator use the expression ‘nut’?
– I said that in my opinion Senator McManus-
– Be a man and admit it.
– Order! Let Senator McClelland be heard.
– Mr President, despite the assistance from my colleagues, I do not admit that. What 1 said was that i thought Senator McManus was a nut and that he was senile in character. If Senator McManus asks me to do so I withdraw the expression that he is a nut.
– You have withdrawn that?
-I have withdrawn the word ‘nut’.
– And senile?
– No,I do not withdraw the word ‘senile’.
– Exception has been taken to the use of the word ‘senile’ which in my opinion is offensive.I ask the honourable senator to withdraw the word ‘senile’.
-I withdraw the world ‘nut’ but I do not withdraw the word senile’.
– Order!I name Senator McClelland.
-I suggest, Mr President, that you call upon Senator McClelland to make whatever explanation he sees fit to make.
– Why should I?
– Order! Does Senator McClelland wish to make a explanation?
– Mr President, I do not wish to make an explanation. It is my genuine belief that Senator McManus is entitled to make the remarks that he has made. But having regard to his disparaging remarks about the former leader of the Labor movement, the right honourable Dr H. V. Evatt, who in my opinion was a very great Australian and a very great leader of the Labor movement, I consider that Senator McManus has uttered remarks which are senile in character. I do not intend to withdraw that expression.
– I move:
That the honourable senator be suspended from the sitting of the Senate.
– The question is: That the motion be agreed to.
– What happens now?
– The honourable senator will find out.I have put the question.
– HaveI the right to speak?
– No.I have put the question. Those in favour say ‘aye’ and to the contrary ‘no’. I think the ‘ayes’ have it.
Opposition senators - The ‘noes’ have it.
– The Senate will divide. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
– The question is resolved in the affirmative. Therefore, Senator McClelland is suspended for the rest of the sitting. (Senator McClelland thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– Turning now to another aspect of Senator Poyser’s remarks, 1 wish to say that I think it is a rather despicable act for an honourable senator to accuse another man because he may not have served in war. I have heard this question argued in the ranks of the Australian Labor Party. Some of the finest men in the Australian Labor Party that I have known have said categorically - and they had war records themselves - that whether or not a man went to war was, in their opinion, his own business. Therefore, I think that it is despicable for anybody, regardless of whether he went to war, to point his finger at another man who may not have done so.
– But the question is whether they arc sending others.
– A lot of people who did not go to war between 1941 and 1945 sent 20-year-old kiddies to war. These people were members of the Australian Labor Party and of a Labor Cabinet.
– And those they sent were not trained soldiers.
– That is so. The men who at that time took a prominent-
– We were engaged in war.
– Yes, you were engaged in war.
– How could we send them to war if we are not engaged in war?
– Order! There are far too many interjections.
– When Senator Poyser was attacking me I heard him in complete silence. I did so because I believe in his right to speak. I believe in freedom of speech. But I am not getting freedom of speech at the moment from the honourable senator or from other honourable senators.
– Do you deserve it?
– Senator Cavanagh now says that whether you get freedom of speech depends on whether in his opinion you deserve it. Hitler used to adopt the attitude, that there was freedom of speech only for those he thought deserved it. Anyway, to get back to the subject we are discussing, 1 wish to say that during the period when the Australian Labor Party introduced conscription there were members of the Cabinet who were outstanding in the 1916 anti-conscription campaign. One of those men was a reservist in 1914. He took a leading part in the anticonscription campaign. When the Labor Cabinet determined on conscription he sent 20-year-old men to war and he did not resign from the Cabinet. I have never heard Senator Poyser attack him. On the contrary, Senator Poyser has been one of his most determined supporters. All I want to say is that I hope we will eventually get away from the position where supporters of the Australian Labor Party who went to war point to other people and say: ‘You didn’t go. You didn’t go. You didn’t go.’ I hope we will have a higher standard of debate from now on. Of course there is another form of conscription. Children are conscripted to go to school. They have to go to school and obey the teacher. When children are conscripted to go into class the teacher has control over them and they have to listen to the teacher. Why is it that the Australian Labor Party supports the right of the teacher to indoctrinate the children with the political views of the teacher? Even the New South Wales Teachers Federation does not stand for that. I suggest to the Australian Labor Party it is adopting a very dangerous point of view if it adopts the attitude that the teacher has the right to force his views on children who are conscripted to listen to him.
– You are on dangerous ground now.
– Yes, it is dangerous ground because it means that if I am a teacher and I hold the opposite view and support the war in Vietnam I have the right to force the view on the children that the Vietnam war is a just war. f regret that a party which claims to be the heir to the great traditions of the labour movement of the past should, in regard to the Moratorium Campaign, support the right of a teacher to force his view upon children who have no alternative but to listen because they are conscripted to listen. 1 now come to my next point. Senator Poyser wants io know about the documents 1 tabled last night. This is part of his earnest search after truth, a search after truth which he did not pursue in 1954. 1 placed the documents on the table. I had no objection. I challenge him to go to the Communist Party and get it to deny that the document which he has in front of him with the red ticket is not authentic.
– I am not concerned about it.
– No, you arc not concerned about it because you know it is a Communist document. The other document to which 1 refer contains evidence which has been collected by members of the Democratic Labor Party at universities. Those members can vouch for every one of the statements made. The statement about the children appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’. Senator Poyser said that the statement about the children was a DLP statement. It is a statement that appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’. Senator Poyser did not even read it. 1 conclude by saying, as I said before, that I am very happy to learn that after all these years Senator Poyser is interested in the truth. If he had been interested in the truth in .1954 and denied the allegation that was made against me on that occasion I would respect him as one who believes the truth always. But he believes in the truth when it suits him and he keeps silent when it suits him.
The Australian Labor Party has made a great deal of the fact that it objects to the use of the gag in another place. I would point out that what has generally caused the gag to be introduced has been the kind of tactics that the Australian Labor Party employed last night. It is a travesty of Parliament when honourable senators get up between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. with nothing to say and then read 5, 6 or 7 times the same leading article from a newspaper. They get hold of all kinds of documents and read them out. That is the kind of action which originally caused the gag to be introduced. If honourable senators continue in that way they will cause the gag to come into this chamber. In all the years 1 have been in this chamber I have refused to vote for the gag. I have had requests from the Government and from Senator
Murphy to vote for the gag. It will be a bad day if the gag is ever introduced into the Senate. We have got on without it. The party that has had the advantage of our refusal ever to use the gag has generally been the Opposition. If the Opposition plays the game and does not make a joke and a travesty of Parliament as it did last night my party will continue to refuse to use the gag. If the Australian Labor Party is going to go on as lt did last night and carry on in a way which is a disgrace to the Parliament of this country it will reduce the Senate to the position to which the other place was reduced the other night. As far as I am concerned, if that is the way the Australian Labor Party wants it that is the way it will get it. If it acts in a decent way there will be no gag but if it forces the gag into the Senate then it must accept the responsibility, and the result will not be to its advantage.
– If anyone has been guilty tonight of trying to enforce the gag I have been the guilty one because 1 got up at the commencement of this debate and moved that Senator Greenwood be no longer heard. I thought the Standing Orders provided for this to be done. I agree that what we saw in this chamber last night was a disgraceful spectacle. No one wanted a repetition of it tonight, neither on this side of the chamber nor on the Government side. I am given to understand that honourable senators of the Government parties had a meeting tonight and decided that if Senator Greenwood was determined io proceed wilh a course of action about which there had been gossip around the lobbies - in other words to speak on the adjournment motion every night from now until the Moratorium Campaign gets under way - he will be on his own and Government senators will not support him. We see here how one man can corrupt the activities of the whole Senate.
Rather than have the Senate endure again what it had to endure last night I. thought the best course was for me to move that Senator Greenwood be no longer heard. In this way I sought to obviate a repetition of the scurrilous attack that we heard from him last night. I learnt, however, that the Standing Orders of the Senate do not permit a senator to move that another Senator be no longer heard. My only alternative then was to move that the question be put. I was not prepared to do so. lt was not because of any inherent unwillingness on my part but because 1 knew that I would not get any support from my own colleagues if 1 sought to apply the gag and, as has now been indicated, 1 would have received no support from the Democratic Labor Party. We must, therefore, put up with what we were afflicted with last night because one man has determined that he will try to stop people demonstrating in a peaceful way their opposition to the action of this Government in forcing young men to go to Vietnam.
I rise now mainly because many references have been made to statements I made last night. I said last night that the honourable senator’s purpose in raising this matter was to achieve promotion in his Party. The opposition he has encountered tonight from Liberal senators will show him that this is obviously not the road to progress in his political parly. Nevertheless he has a haired for those who desire peace in Australia, and despite the repercussions that that may have on his future political aspirations he is determined to continue with this line. Senator Poyser replied to him and said that the Opposition is prepared to meet him at any time and on any occasion. Senator Poyser has invited Senator Greenwood and the Government to raise this matter, not in an adjournment debate but when we are on the. air so that the people of Australia will know what we are talking about.
Some of Senator Greenwood’s remarks need a reply. There is a lack of logic in his arguments. He talks about our willingness to promote a free election. I do not know whether he was referring to Vietnam or South Vietnam. Senator Greenwood has a very short memory and a lack of knowledge of history. He forgets the Geneva Accords of 1952 which provided for a free election in Vietnam. He forgets the fact that President Eisenhower in his book Mandate for Change’ said that if an election were held in Vietnam on that occasion in 1962 as was required by the Geneva Accords, Ho Chi Minh would win it.
– !n 1962?
– I hope that Senator Rae will not try to corrupt the whole of my argument because I may have stated an incorrect date. Senator
Greenwood forgets the fact that the former Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies, stated in a debate at that time that if there were free elections in Vietnam - remember these words - the Communists would win them. Obviously that was the reason why Vietnam was a Communist prize. Vietnam had decided to adopt Communism, whether right or wrong, and America had to invade Vietnam. Australia, as a willing partner of America, likewise had to invade Vietnam. When we talk of aggression we denigrate the activities in which we are engaged in Vietnam. There are no foreign troops in Vietnam supporting North Vietnam. The only foreign troops in Vietnam arc Americans, Australians, Koreans, Filipinos and possibly a few New Zealanders. We are the partners of the only aggressors in Vietnam, and when we talk of aggression in Vietnam we are the guilty ones.
Senator Greenwood knows this, but to support his hawkish policy he condemns those who want to put this matter to the people. He condemns those who by mass demonstration want to alter the policy of this Government. He now says that to pull out of Vietnam would leave South Vietnam open to aggression. The Australian Labor Party has always said that the problem of Vietnam is a problem for the Vietnamese. No-one can say that we have any right or any justification for being in Vietnam. If there is a domino theory and if we are to chase the progress of the domino theory which is said to be the aspiration of the liberation movement throughout South East Asia, then we will kill more than the 400 young Australians whom we have sacrificed already in the calamity that i,s Vietnam. We will kill many more for a purpose which has nothing to do with us. The problems of Vietnam should be left to the Vietnamese. lt was stated that I had said that violence was anticipated. I would say that that statement was accurately recorded by the Hansard stall’. Of course there will he violence in these demonstrations because there are Senator Greenwoods all over Australia whose purpose is to see that violence occurs during the campaign. They are men who have a vested interest in perpetuating warfare. They will not permit the success of a peaceful demonstration. They will see i hat this demonstration brings disgrace upon those who have organised it by ensuring that there is violence. There was no other purpose for the debate last night, for the debate tonight or for any subsequent debate which will take place in the Parliament from now until the Moratorium. There was no other purpose behind the small mischievous mind of Senator Greenwood than to try to incite someone to violence in this demonstration.
– That must appear, even to you, to be so absurd.
– No. I would say that it could be harmful to yourself. Can you give me one logical reason why a man with Senator Greenwood’s capability, with Senator Greenwood’s knowledge and with Senator Greenwood’s foresight would raise these matters? He can see that a successful demonstration will be held and that i! will win mass support. In fact, according to the editorial of the ‘Australian’ it already has won mass support. That view will spread to other newspapers. What other purpose could Senator Greenwood have for the campaign that he is conducting? In demonstrations in which I have participated and in demonstrations which I have witnessed people of Senator Greenwood’s type have been planted for the sole purpose of creating violence and trying to arouse the emotions of those taking part in the demonstrations. Senator Greenwood is not opposed to that. He with his capabilities must recognise that his attitude in trying to create violence to discredit the demonstrations must give publicity to the campaign and assist us to make a success of the demonstrations. There will be violence in these demonstrations because of the very existence of the type of individuals we have seen tonight.
Senator Greenwood is not opposed to demonstrations for changes in the law. As he has said, and as we know, the great British system of justice which he now represents and advocates before the judiciary was founded mostly upon the illegal actions of those who revolted against tyranny and oppression in the early stages of British history. So our system of law evolved. As I said last evening, while I acknowledge that there is a responsibility on everyone to uphold the principles of law, a government for the people can claim respect for the law only if the law is designed for the benefit of the people. A law designed to send the young kids of Australia to be shot is a law which never can be respected and never can be honoured. There is some justification for supporting those who do not hide behind the coward’s castle of the Parliament and are courageous enough to go out and demonstrate in the streets and defy such a law.
– Whose decision was that?
– We heard last night about whose decision it was as to whether a law was just. Senator Rae suggested last night what would happen if I decided that the law which required me to drive on the left hand side of the road was an unjust law and that I would drive on the right hand side of the road. Obviously in my desire and agitation to drive on the right hand side of the road I would be in isolation. No-one can defy a law in isolation. If people do not support the breaker of the law, then the law is justified. But when a great number of normal, respectable law-abiding citizens are prepared to break a law, that law is wrong. That applies to our national service law, our trade union law and everything else.
Possibly Senator Greenwood is not worthy of further words from me or other members of our Caucus. I am very pleased that he is isolated from his own group. There might be a vacancy in the Australia Party, if he is without a party in the near future. He is an embarrassment; he is a burden for anyone to carry. I believe that with the resignation of Senator Turnbull there is a vacancy in the leadership of the new party. Senator Greenwood may receive some coverage if he seeks a position in which he can find a group who may support him. Obviously he has no support in the Senate, not even in his own Party.
I come now to Senator McManus, to whom I give some credit. He does not hide under any bushel. He is straight out and very forthright. He is opposed to anything that is progressive. He is opposed to people having the right to show their freedom or their liberty to justify peace. Members of the Democratic Labor Party are a splinter group from the greatest political party in Australia. They can justify their existence only by condemning the party of which they are no longer members. Their attitude is that anything the Australian Labor Party says must be wrong. As we have seen, they attack a great upholder of the principles of the Labor Parly in Senator Poyser. Whatever may be his limitations, his honesty, his sincerity and his capabilities have been recognised since he entered the Senate. Obviously, if ihe DLP is to justify its existence, Senator Poyser has to be attacked.
Tonight Senator McManus used the best of his abilities for that purpose. He referred to something that Senator Poyser did in the past. 1 do not know whether he would let Dr Evatt go to Geelong or not. But no-one can doubt Senator Poyser’s loyalty, sincerity and activities not only on behalf of the Labor Party but also for the cause for which the Labor Party stands. It was considered necessary to attack Senator Poyser because he destroyed the case that had been put up previously on the basis of the great document that was presented last night. He showed that it was only a DLP publication. Such publications are always open to suspicion, lt was considered necessary to destroy Senator Poyser. Unfortunately, the only weapon with which he could be destroyed and the only knowledge of disloyalty or any semblance of disloyalty on the part of Senator Poyser that Senator McManus had was in relation to some occasion that involved Dr Evatt. Whatever people say about Dr Evatt, he was one of the greatest brains Australia has ever produced.
Because of this attack on Senator Poyser and Dr Evatt, another conscientious member of the Labor Party became involved. During his period in this chamber he has stood up to a lot of abuse and a lot of attacks, but tonight it was beyond his powers of endurance to listen in silence to Dr Evatt being attacked, and he said: ‘I will not have the old doc attacked’. Consequently we have seen tonight the necessity to expel a senator from this chamber because of the filthy and vile attack that was made on a deceased leader of the Labor Party and because that senator had a high regard and respect for that deceased leader, Dr Evatt.
I am very concerned about this matter. Although I am unable to recall the actual occasion and who was involved, I remember some considerable discussion of this question when a very offensive remark was made against another senator who, although he felt aggrieved, could not ask for a withdrawal of the remark because the occupant of the chair at the time did not hear it and so was not prepared to ask for a withdrawal.
It would appear that when this happens on one side of the chamber there is one rule-
– Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I draw your attention to the fact that the honourable senator is going dangerously close to canvassing the ruling of the President of the Senate and that this is not the time to canvass a ruling.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Cavanagh, you cannot canvass a decision of the President. I suggest that you keep off that subject.
– It is far beyond me to attempt to canvass a decision of the President. I agree with Senator Wright, who raised the point of order, that I may be going dangerously close to doing so. I ask him to warn me when I reach a point beyond being dangerously close. I say that Hansard records certain incidents that have occurred in this chamber. The decision made by the President tonight was probably a correct one. I am not disputing it. Whether the President was in the chair on the previous occasion or whether-
– Mr Deputy President
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Cavanagh, you must not discuss this question at all or canvass the decision of the President.
– This is the great upholder of the rights of the individual and of human rights. I have had great admiration and respect for him since 1 came into the Senate. He now turns to the role of prosecutor and says that I am not allowed to raise a matter which I believe is an infringement of human rights. I bow to your ruling, Mr Deputy President. I am unable to show this infringement of human rights and the inconsistency because that would be in breach of the ruling of the Chair. Therefore, I leave it at that.
All I want to say is that Senator Greenwood, knowing the opposition that is coming from this side of the chamber and without his party’s support, has set out determinedly to win support for his campaign. He wants to be the Wentworth of the Senate. He hopes that he will be recognised for his remarks. This has paid off in the past. Although there is no indication that it will pay off in this case, he is still hoping that it will. What does it matter to him how many young lives are sacrificed in the interim? Does it not permit him to smile, as he was accused of doing last night, when we talk of the slaughter of human lives? Has not he that right? What does human life matter if this serves his own aggrandisement? It is unimportant. They are only humans. They are replaceable. What does he care?
To me they are human lives; they are Australian lives that we are sacrificing. This is important to me and to our party. That is the reason why the Federal Executive made its decision. Contrary to the interpretation Senator Greenwood put on it tonight, the Federal Executive decided that Labour’s Federal politicians should be leading the campaign for peace in Vietnam and for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. That is what we are proudly doing. That is what the last election rewarded us for doing. That is what the next election - the Senate election this year - will reward us, in terms of victory, for doing. Whatever may be the outcome of this Moratorium Campaign, we offer no apologies for our participation in it and our leadership of it. If there is any compassion in the soul of Senator Greenwood, we offer him the opportunity to do something good in the miserable life he has led until now.
– I enter this debate because without any apology I say that with Senator Keeffe, Senator McClelland and one or two other honourable senators on this side of the chamber I have used the adjournment debate as a forum for raising injustices, and I notice that Senator Wright is nodding his head. The advice which I received when I came here was that that was the proper occasion on which to raise such matters. If honourable senators peruse Hansard, they will find that in the main we have restricted ourselves to IS minute bursts, as Senator Wriedt and I did last night. First of all, I regard last night’s happenings, in the main, as being things which require an answer from me tonight. I refer to Senator Greenwood’s attitude, and in the absence of Senator McManus, doubtless his 2 colleagues can take note of my strictures.
I shall deal with the question of the Australian Democratic Labor Party first, because I have had several clashes with Senator Gair, who is in South East Asia, on the question of the effective use of the adjournment debate. He had a right to interject, if he wanted to, and I am not canvassing that question, but the inference was there, and Senator McManus implied it tonight: ‘If people are going to use the adjournment debate and read documents, etcetra, well, it is prostituting Parliament and it almost justifies the use of the gag’.
– Do you think that is a fair interpretation?
– Senator McManus made a broad statement about it, but Senator Gair had a crack at me some months ago. I repeat that when I have some grievance - whether it concerns immigration or some other question - to ventilate 1 will do so, and that is a privilege which I will fight to maintain. It may be that what Senator Byrne is saying is correct. Senator McManus painted a very broad canvass. The point I am making is that the question of the use of the gag, or the hint of it, on people who speak during the adjournment debate is wrong. I will come back to that matter shortly.
– If it is properly used with purpose.
– That is not what Senator McManus said. Senator Byrne is saying it, but Senator McManus did not say it. If he had said: ‘Some did this and some did that’, that would have been all right, but he said: ‘Last night this is what happened’. That is where he was not factual. I want to come back to Senator Greenwood. In the 4 years that I have been in this Senate there have been 3 occasions on which we have had virtually a battery of speakers. On other occasions the pattern has been that perhaps Senator Webster and honourable senators from this side of the House have raised matters. The debate has been confined to about 40 minutes for about 4 speakers. The occasions on which that pattern has not been followed all involve Senator Greenwood. I am pleased to see that Senator Anderson is present in the chamber. If ever there was an occasion when he was embarrassed, it was in the middle of a big postal strike, and Senator Bishop, in his own style. quickly seized on the point that Senator Greenwood was jeopardising industrial peace.
Senator Greenwood got up one night and spent 30 minutes in making a vicious attack on the present Federal Secretary of the Postal Workers Union. Let us be frank about it. 1 am not playing favourites. It is known that I am like other people. We have people whom we like better than others. George Slater is not necessarily a close friend of mine, but that does not give either of us any particular status. The point I am making is that George Slater was to negotiate on a major dispute the next day. As Senator Greenwood was in full flight I can remember the expression on Senator Anderson’s face. He was looking up at the ceiling, he was looking everywhere, and I suppose he was saying: ‘Lord, save me from my followers’. That is the only interpretation you could put on it. This was the first faux pas that Senator Greenwood had made, lt is true that 7 Labor speakers followed one after the other. I repeat that Senator Bishop hammered the point that Senator Greenwood was jeopardising industrial peace. We thought that he had learnt his lesson. When did he make his second faux pas? lt was last night.
I went over to the President and told him that I wanted to speak on the adjournment debate, and I knew that Senator Wriedt also had something to raise. We could have made an issue of who put in the first report, because at 9 o’clock yesterday morning I alerted Senator Cotton’s staff that 1 was going to speak on the adjournment debate, and I see that Senator Cotton nods his head. I could have got up here and disputed with the President as to who should get the first call to speak. As events turned out, if I had spoken first and if Senator Wriedt had followed, we would have been out of the way and the other matter could have been raised. But in a very chivalrous manner we deferred to Senator Greenwood. How was our fair play repaid? Senator Greenwood went on again with a vicious attack. People have been talking about threats. 1 can go through my files and get up every night in this chamber and indict the Attorney-General because he has not dealt with ultra-rightist elements. 1 can give chapter and verse and dates and 1 can produce photographs. The occasion might come when I will do that, but I do not do it because the first thing that honourable senators would say would be: “You have been pretty provocative.’
The point I am making is that it has been said we are going to jeopardise our right to use the adjournment debate as a forum for raising injustices, but on each of the occasions that I have mentioned, who has been the aggressor? It has been Senator Greenwood. It was not Senator Georges or Senator Cant - people who can hand it out. Senator McManus talked about people having to take it. We did not start it. Senator Greenwood started it. He had a good enough go last night, and he comes back here tonight and he is on it again. If this is going to be the case, we are not going to sit here and remain silent. The indictment I make in relation to Senator McManus is that whatever are the pros and cons of the Moratorium, he did not speak of the general use of the adjournment debate to ventilate grievances. I know that Senator Byrne interjected and attempted to explain what his acting leader meant. 1 was still sensitive because the real leader of the Democratic Labor Party, who is away in South East Asia, has already expressed to me, both in the corridor and in this chamber, the view that I should not have the temerity to speak on the adjournment debate.
– But he nas never attempted to gag you.
– But there has been a threat there, and the point at which my colleague Senator Devitt took umbrage was the inference that: ‘You are going to be told, as happens in the Army, that because someone will not conform, the whole battalion is going to be punished.’ We do not go for that sort of thing. I shall sum up this way: I believe that the 3 occasions on which the spirit of the adjournment debate has been abused, has been when Senator Greenwood has gone on one of his rampages - and I repeat rampages. The best example was - never mind this question that was debated last night and again tonight - when he almost jeopardised industrial peace, when the Postmaster-General was going to negotiate with George Slater the next morning. Quite frankly, if I had been George Slater I would have said to the Postmaster-General: ‘If you don’t muzzle some of your madmen, we will have another day’s strike.’ 1 do not regard myself as an extreme militant, but this is the damage that Senator Greenwood does. That is the point I make there, and 1 think it has to be made.
This is not the first occasion on which Senator Greenwood has offended against both the decency of this Senate and, for that matter, the responsible government. He coined the phrase ‘law and order’ - we did not - and that is where he committed a cardinal sin. Honourable senators opposite talk about people telling the trade unions what they should do. Senator Greenwood is a gentleman who attempted to usurp the power of his own Postmaster-General, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Mr Slater. Do not let him get up here and talk, in a high and mighty way, about decorum in the Senate.
I conclude by saying that a number of honourable senators on this side of the chamber might take up with the President in the future, the question as to who is to receive the first call. I believe in this principle - and I do not know whether it is Australian rules terminology, but I know it is Rugby terminology - that if someone plays the ball, whoever is up there as dummy half is the dummy half. If I ring up at 9 o’clock in the morning and say to Senator Cotton: T am going to speak on the adjournment debate’, I will expect to get the first call to speak. I think we have to know where we are. I do not know at what time Senator Greenwood got these peculiar ideas and this venom, but if he got them before 9 a.m., he should have got the call to speak before me, but I am certain that he did not get these ideas before 9 a.m. These are some of the matters that we have to consider.
I do not want to delay the Senate any longer. I entered this debate deliberately to get a bit of stability on the use of the adjournment debate. As I say, that is the point I am trying to emphasise. I hope that there will be no more of these fruitless exercises that have occurred here. Sometimes on the adjournment debate I have not got what I wanted, but if Senator Webster or I want to ventilate something, we do it and we get it recorded. Perhaps we might have to wait until the next Estimates debate and say: ‘I raised this matter last April or May.’ The fact of the matter is that we use the adjournment debate for a useful purpose. 1 repeat that Senator Greenwood has frittered away the chance to use the adjournment debate for a useful purpose. He is a time waster.
– I want to enlarge on the theme raised by Senator Mulvihill. I think that tonight’s episode, which led to the expulsion of one of our members, was the direct result of an irresponsible action on the part of Senator Greenwood.
– He is not here.
– 1 know that he is not here at present. Senator Greenwood adopted an irresponsible approach tonight. Surely he made his point last night. The long debate that ensued answered him. We hoped that, by forcing the debate to run for such a long period, a similar situation would not occur again. It was obvious that tonight Senator Greenwood was determined to repeat the episode. If we had shown any sensibility we would not have answered him at all. Honourable senators must appreciate that we were here till 3 o’clock this morning. Many of us have had a long day either by reason of attendance in the Senate or by doing committee work. We were busy right up until 10.30 p.m. It must be appreciated that the nerves of honourable senators have been stretched beyond the normal point of endurance. Yet it was a deliberate action by an honourable senator on the Government side that led to a repetition of the debate last night.
– Rubbish. Senator Georges is stretching my nerves.
– If the honourable senator wants to play it that way, I will oblige him. We can talk all night. Last night the sheer provocation of 2 Government members and a member of the Democratic Labor Party led to the debate lasting until 3 o’clock this morning. Senator Greenwood, with the concurrence of the Government and of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) tonight was responsible for a repetition of last night’s episode. If the Government desires that from now until the Moratorium we should continue debating the subject during the adjournment debate - and continue until the early hours of the morning - I for one am prepared to stay here. I for one am prepared to oppose the motion, when it is moved, for the adjournment of the Senate. I am prepared to talk in order to force Ihe Government to apply the gag. The Government might have to face this situation night after night. The gag will have to be applied by someone. In the early hours of this morning I sought leave to include something in Hansard. If it is intended to debate this subject in the early hours of the morning I shall try to enlighten members of the Government by reading to them extracts from books that they should have read. The first extract is chapter 9 of ‘From Yalta to Vietnam’ written by David Horowitz, it ought to be read by everyone here, especially members on the Government side. I seek leave to have this chapter incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - ls leave granted?
An honourable senator - No.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted.
– Honourable senators can see just what situation could arise. I could read the 25 pages of that chapter in the book, but I do not intend to do so.
– Why not?
– It would take at least 2 hours to read this chapter.
– You have only I hour.
– It would take at least 2 hours to read the chapter because the print is small and because at the bottom of each page there are footnotes which ought to bc read so that the proper sense of the page can be obtained. I would read that to enlighten those who have nes’er bothered to read the history of the intervention in Vietnam.
– ls the book written by or published by Horowitz?
– The book is written by Horowitz. If members of the Government intend to provoke us night after night to force a debate on the Moratorium, I think we ought to match them. 1 do not think that this kind of exercise should continue in this way. The best way to clear the air would be to have a debate on the Moratorium. The Government could introduce the statement made by the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) and we could have a debate in the normal hours for debate. We could clear the air in that fashion. If night after night Senator Greenwood adopts the tactic of raising this matter we will retaliate in kind.
– Will you read the third page of that chapter?
– No. I sought leave to have that chapter incorporated in Hansard. Leave was refused. I do not intend to read it. Next time 1 speak at this hour on this subject I shall read a chapter of a book which questions the legality of the Vietnam war. The name of the book is ‘The Vietnam War and International Law’. The book has 150 pages. The article, Legal Aspects of the Vietnam Situation’, written by Quincy Wright, questions our involvement in Vietnam. If honourable senators opposite are prepared (o put up with my reading that book, by all means they should encourage Senator Greenwood to start again next Tuesday evening.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.27 a.m. (Friday)
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 April 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700416_senate_27_s43/>.