27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator FITZGERALD presented from 43 electors of the Divisions of Barton, Calare, Evans, Kingsford-Smith and Lang a petition showing that in the national interest, it is essential that there be an effective and respected Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration system; that the decision given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the professional engineers’ case on 3rd December 1969, which has followed to the letter in both magnitude and date of operation the salary increases for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service which were announced before the arbitration hearing had concluded, has given rise to utter dismay and has indicated a lack of independent assessment; that recent statements made at the Australian Workers Union Conference and by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have indicated disillusionment with the federal arbitration system and have particularly referred to the professional engineers’ case; that an unacceptable arbitration system must inevitably lead to industrial unrest throughout Australia.
The petitioners pray that the Australian Government take positive action as soon as possible to re-establish confidence in the Commonwealth arbitration system.
Petition received and read.
Senator WITHERS presented from 34 electors of the Divisions of Berowra and Macarthur a petition showing that in the national interest, it is essential that there be an effective and respected Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration system; that the decision given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the professional engineers’ case on 3rd December 1969, which has followed to the letter in both magnitude and date of operation the salary increase for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service which were announced before the arbitration hearing had concluded, has given rise to utter dismay and has indicated a lack of independent assessment; that recent statements made at the Australian Workers Union Conference and by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have indicated disillusionment with the federal arbitration system and have particularly referred to the professional engineers’ case; that an unacceptable arbitration system must inevitably lead to industrial unrest throughout Australia.
The petitioners pray that the Australian Government take positive action as soon as possible to re-establish confidence in the Commonwealth arbitration system.
– Mr President, as the petition I have presented is in terms identical to those of the petition presented by Senator Fitzgerald, I shall not move that it be read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move -
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply, ls it a fact that the cost to Australia of finally obtaining a force of either Fill aircraft or the Phantom as a replacement will be about $500m? In view of the monumental mistakes made by this Government on the Fill programme over the past 7 years, will the Government now tender an apology to the Australian taxpayer? Will the Government also give an assurance that such incredible open ended contracts as that signed to cover the purchase of the Fil ls will never again be entered into and that major defence issues will never again be used as election bait?
– The honourable senator’s questions are blatant propaganda questions and they follow, of course, the statement which was put down last night by the Minister for Air who represents the Minister for Defence in this matter. Debate on the statement was adjourned. Therefore the questions which the honourable senator has asked relate to a matter which is already on the business paper and they do not require any answer from me now. The honourable senator’s reference to an apology is arrant nonsense. The fact of the matter was that the Australian Government entered into a contract a long time ago. The Minister for Defence has been to America and has negotiated a new agreement, and I think that, far from an apology being made, the Minister for Defence will receive the praise of everybody in- Australia who reads the new agreement thoroughly.
– Would the Minister for Civil Aviation agree that a vigorous migration policy is urgently needed for the development of South Australia? If he does, will he give urgent consideration to the building of an international standard airport in Adelaide, with the immediate purpose of flying direct to South Australia the thousands of migrants planning to come to that State but who might, by landing in Sydney or Melbourne, as at present, be diverted from their original intention?
– For many years the Australian people have seen a vigorous migration policy throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. That is one of the things that has made this country grow and become greater. South Australia has had a reasonable share of the migrants who have come to Australia. Whether the number ought to be increased would of course depend upon the employment opportunities in South Australia:
The honourable senator asked me whether we could direct our attention to building an international airport in Adelaide and whether an increased number of migrants might be landed there as their first port of call. I doubt very much whether that is a practical proposition, but I am sure that it would be sensible for me to make a general examination of whether or not migrants could be landed in the city of their destination as their first port of call. I will do what I can to look into that matter for the honourable senator.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, refers to the announcement of the personnel of a committee on women’s employment which has been appointed by the Minister for Labour and National Service. I note that the female representation on the committee consists of Miss Pauline Griffin, Miss Joyce Henriott Miss Myra Lillywhite. Miss A. M. Mogoffin Professor Jean Martin and Miss Lenore Cox. Does the Minister not think, in view of the effect that this committee might have on family life, that there should be included on it some married women who have had experience of running a family?
– I am most indebted to the honourable senator for drawing to my notice the personnel of this committee. I feel that the consideration that he has asked us to take on board is a most important one. I think that the neglect of such a consideration can be seen in part in the extravagances of over-industrialised life in other countries, such as America. I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Labour and National Service and ask him to give an early comment.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry in a position to say whether the United States of America’s ban on Australian mutton has been imposed because export inspections are below standard or, as suggested in some quarters, is it merely political because of pressure by what is known as the United States meat lobby? If the latter is the case, will the Government make strong representations to the United States Government and even consider retaliation in kind regarding some American imports? If the latter is the case, would it not be advisable to concentrate more on building up reciprocal trade relations with other trading countries with which our trade is not so ill balanced? Can the Minister say just how long he thinks the ban is likely to last?
– 1 believe it would be quite wrong to make assumptions that the reason for the ban on the export of mutton to the United States of America is anything more or less than what it purports and sets out to be - that our Australian killing conditions do not come up to American requirements. I believe that is the fundamental issue. I do not believe, I do not accept, and I do not think the Government accepts, that the ban has been imposed for any purpose other than that. The information 1 have at this point of time is that an early resumption of exports is expected for some plants which conform to the American requirements. It would seem to me that we must meet the American requirements if we wish to sell meat to the United States market. I believe that is the position. The honourable senator’s question is based on the assumption that the ban may have been imposed because of political lobbying in the United States. That report has been made.
– It is pretty right.
– The honourable senator is making his own judgment on it when he says that it is pretty right. That is a very courageous statement to make.
– What about the import restrictions that were imposed on our beef?
- Mr President, am 1 answering one question or half a dozen? I appeal to you, Mr President.
– Order! There are too many interjections.
– I repeat that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, a restriction has been imposed because our killing conditions do not conform to the American standards. When we do conform - and some are attempting to conform - the market will be open to us then. If the situation improves-
– Will it improve?
– I cannot hear the honourable senator.
– Do not take any notice of him.
– We have to reach (he stage in this place at which matters are conducted in an orderly fashion. We have reached the point at which I will not answer questions if my answers are interrupted continually.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air and relates to the Fill contracts. What is the current position in relation to accommodation charges for each of the Fill aircraft in the United States of America, a storage charge having been struck at the time when the aircraft was found to be faulty? Were these amounts included in the statement al’ the Minister for Defence? What will bc the future in relation to these charges? What has been the cost to Austrafia of the various specialist and scientific parties which either visited the United States or had to attend investigations into particular failures of the aircraft? Are these costs likely to continue? Are they to be offset against the future charges announced by the Minister for Defence?
– The funds authorised to date in the Fill project are $US252m, of which $US230m has been paid. The final price for the project will not be available until after the delivery of the aircraft. A close examination is to be made by the Department of Air of the methodology of pricing with the United States Air Force to determine the agreed methodology for final pricing. There could be some additional costs over and above what I have said because of the spare parts which we may have received up to date but which we have not paid for.
– What about the cost or the evaluation team?
– Order! No supplementary question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Is me Minister aware that imports of cheese into Australia rose by about 25% in the 1968-69 financial year? Is the Government cognisant of the fact that this product is being imported into Australia at a time when the dairy industry faces practical overproduction problems? Is it a fact that cheese imports account for about 13% of the total Australian cheese consumption? Is it a fact that most of the imported cheese originates in countries which totally exclude imports of Australian dairy produce? Will the Government take immediate and sensible action to eliminate the importation of cheese from countries which totally exclude the imports of the Australian produce?
– BROCKMAN -
Cheese imports in 1968-69 were 25% above the imports in 1967-68. The imports are from a number of countries. Some of the countries do impose import restrictions on Australian dairy produce. The problems concerning cheese imports were discussed at a meeting in September of last year between the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Minister for Primary Industry and representatives of the Australian Dairy Industry Council. It was decided that a panel of industry representatives and departmental officers should be formed to make a full examination of the problems concerning cheese imports and the need for the establishment of a fancy cheese industry in Australia on a firm basis. When the results of the examination by this panel become known I will pass them on to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Will the Minister confirm whether a team of Royal Australian Air Force members and officers of the Department of Air left or will leave Australia for the United States of America to evaluate the Phantom F4E aircraft? What will be the cost of the mission in terms of the taxpayers’ money?
– -It is true that an evaluation team has left Australia. It is headed by the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff in the Royal Australian Air Force and he is assisted by the Assistant Secretary, Finance, and a number of other specialist officers of the Department of Air. I will not know the cost of the trip until they have returned.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, lt follows a question asked earlier about muttion exports to the United States of America. Will the
Minister ask the Minister for Trade and Industry to make representations to the United States Administration to have mutton import restrictions lifted as each export abattoir meets the health standards required by the United States of America?
– Yes. I thought this was inherent in the answer 1 gave earlier. It is my understanding that when abattoirs conform to the requirements of the United States of America they will come back on stream. There is no reason why they should not. If that is not the position, I will make further inquiries and inform the Senate accordingly, but that is my understanding of the position at present.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents the Prime Minister in this chamber. In view of the virtually certain and apparent imminence of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and the great economic consequences of it to Australia, particularly to the rural industries, will the Prime Minister arrange for the preparation at an early date of a White Paper on the implications to Australia of Britain’s entry?
– The question is a very valid one. I am not sure that this matter would come within the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department. I should have thought it would be within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Trade and Industry, However, I shall take the question on board. It involves the results of a possible British entry into the European Common Market and whether a paper should be prepared setting out the pros and cons of such entry and all the implications affecting Australia. I shall refer the question in the first place to the Minister for Trade and Industry if that is the appropriate course to adopt.
– I direct a further question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I ask: Can the Minister say whether there is in existence in Washington what is known as a paid meat lobby consisting of persons whose principal function is to induce the Administration to reduce as far as possible the amount of meat imported into the United States? How successful are these people, and what means to exclude imported meat are used?
– The question is a very interesting one. A practice exists in Washington which is becoming an integral part of the political scene there. I refer to what is known as the lobby, which we do not have in Australia.
– Well, it is a different kind of lobby. I am talking of the classical kind of lobby. There is hardly a section of the community in America which would not have a lobby to represent its interests. I understand that the members of these lobbies are professionals and are paid for their services. I do not doubt for one moment that there would be a meat lobby in Washington. There is nothing new or unique about this. It is part of political life and the political scene in the United Slates. What the honourable senator suggests is that the lobby may well have made very strong representations regarding the prohibition of the import of Australian mutton. 1 could not say yea or nay to that proposition. However, we must accept the situation at its face value. This prohibition on the import of Australian mutton has been imminent for some time. The question of abattoir conditions in Australia and the need to bring them up to certain standards has been under active consideration for a long time. This is not something which has come out of the blue. It has been in the air for a long time. We must accept the position al its face value until it can be shown that our abattoirs meet the United States requirements, at which point - and here I refer to the question asked by Senator Bull - they may recommence exporting to America.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. I ask the Minister whether he recalls the ministerial statement made yesterday in which it was said: lt is the. Government’s view, and this is strongly supported by the Chiefs of Staff Committee that an air strike and reconnaissance capability is an essential element of a balanced defence force for Australia.
What is Australia’s current strike aircraft? If we do not have one, does this represent an admission by the Government that we lack a balanced defence force?
– I well recall the statement Senator Wriedt read out. This belief is firmly held by the Air Force. The Fill aircraft was ordered in the first place to replace the Canberra bomber, and that is the bomber which is acting as our strike aircraft at the present time.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the rapid and continuing development of trade between Australia and Japan, in which Western Australia is particularly involved, will the Minister consider setting up an independent Australian News and Information Bureau in Tokyo similar to those operating so well in London and New York?
– We have, of course, in Tokyo representation by the Department of External Affairs and within that framework - I am speaking now from memory - there would be trade representation. Certainly the Department of Customs and Excise has an office in Tokyo because 1 well recall as Minister for Customs and Excise always bemoaning the fact that 1 was never able to go and see my own officers at work in Tokyo. I will certainly take this matter up with the Minister but I imagine that there would be a news and information service within our Australian establishments in Tokyo.
Sentaor Wilkinson - There is. 1 want it independently of that.
– You want it independently of that. This is a matter that should be looked at. I shall refer the matter lo the Department of External Affair*,
– My question i< addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and I indicate by way of preface that it is not asked facetiously. I ask: Are there in fact 2 Vietnams? If so, when was the line drawn, where was it drawn and by whom was it drawn? Thirdly, do countries other than the combatants and those committed in the- Vietnam- affair accept as an historical fact that there are 2 Vietnams?
Senior ANDERSON- The honourable senator says that it is a genuine question and I accept it as such. Really, to get a detailed reply one would need to go back and have regard to the Geneva Accords, lt is therefore obviously not a question that one would answer at question time. If th: honourable senator puts the question on notice I will get a considered reply for him.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen reports that the Lon Nol Government in Cambodia intends to expel some 600,000 Vietnamese residents of Cambodia from that nation where they are now living? Will the Government make a statement as to the correctness or otherwise of these reports, the consequences of this action by the Cambodians against the Vietnamese and the possible consequences that this action by the Lon Nol Government will have on the whole situation in Indo-China?
– I have not had the advantage of seeing the statement which suggests that the Lon Nol Government has taken action to expel from Cambodia some hundreds of indigenous people. I will treat the question as being on notice and have it looked at in order to get by way of reply, if I can, some reflection of the implications in the honourable senator’s question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the statement by the Minister for Primary Industry yesterday that the rejection rate of Australian mutton exported to the United States had amounted to about 1 million lb up to the middle of April and that Australian meat was not meeting the standards necessary for entry to the United States market. I ask: Is there an acute shortage of Commonwealth meat inspectors for the export market principally caused by low wages and poor working conditions and has this shortage thrown an extraordinary or, indeed, intolerable amount of work onto the shoulders of existing meat inspectors? Will the Minister investigate this situation and see what steps can be taken as a matter of urgency to improve the salaries and working conditions of Commonwealth meat inspectors in order to attract more people into the important work of Commonwealth meat inspection for the export market?
– I certainly will take up the matter with the Minister for Primary Industry but I should not think that pay and conditions would be the problem behind the shortage of meat inspectors, if that be the case. 1 am well aware of the submissions made by meat employees unions in the past in regard to these matters. However, I have noted from time to time that when peaks are reached through drought conditions or an excess in killing there is a shortage of meat workers.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. It relates to the Hansard record and the importance of Hansard being an authentic record of what occurs in the national Parliament. To what extent is a senator entitled to alter the Hansard proof of what he has said in the Senate? To what extent has a senator any right to object to an alteration made by another senator to what that other senator has said? Has a senator any right to check his recollection of what another senator has said in order to verify the accuracy of what appears in the printed Hansard?
– I will look into the matter and advise the honourable senator tomorrow.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will he confer with leaders of other parties to see whether it is possible to reach agreement on the arrangement of the business of the Senate so that in the few remaining weeks of the session we may concentrate on proposed legislation and reduce, as far as is possible, debate on other matters? Is not this necessary if we are to avoid, in the dying hours of the session, debate on legislation without proper consideration having been given to it?
– The question has great attraction for me because, as all honourable senators know, the Leader of the Government in the Senate has the prime responsibility of getting the legislative programme completed. T feel bound to say that I have always had co-operation from leaders of other parties in this place. Built into the Standing Orders and the forms of the Senate is ample provision for the exercise of an individual senator’s rights and one has to tread very carefully in any attempt to curtail those individual rights. I have today given notice of a motion which, on the face of it, when it comes up for debate tomorrow will have the effect of restricting the rights of individual senators after 8 o’clock on Thursday nights. That is a very big decision to have to make and 1 do it with great reluctance but we cannot get away from the point made by Senator M c Man us that we are here to accept, amend or reject Government business. We all need a great amount of goodwill and patience. I had in mind having a discussion with leaders of the parties before we left this week on the way in which we can better facilitate the conduct of Government business for the remainder of the sittings. I believe that all leaders will come to the conference with all the best goodwill in the world, but there are problems because there are traditions in relation to this matter to which we must have regard.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate could almost, by coincidence, be supplementary to that asked of him by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, fs it not correct and traditional procedure that motions for dissent from a ruling be given precedence over the normal business of the Senate? Has the Leader of the Government been notified of an urgency motion which will be moved and debated by the Opposition this day, thus further delaying debate on the dissent motion moved early last week? Does the Leader of the Government agree that the Opposition, realising that the dissent motion when debated will be soundly beaten and proved to be based on weak premises, is using the forms of the Senate to postpone the debate and that, therefore, the Opposition should be requested to admit its lack of judgment, withdraw the motion and permit the normal business of the Senate to proceed?
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I believe that the question should be disallowed on the ground that contrary to the Standing Orders and practice it is argumentative, it calls for an expression of opinion and it reflects upon the honourable senator who moved the motion of dissent.
– Mr President, 1 do not accept the point of order that the question should be struck out completely. Of course I would not reflect upon an urgency motion which is to come on. That would be quite wrong. However, I suggest that it is singularly unfortunate that in the circumstances a motion of dissent has been stood over for several days, lt has always been my understanding - I believe that this is most desirable - that when a motion of dissent comes forward we should dispose of it as quickly as possible. 1 hope that we will be able to dispose of this motion of dissent quickly today, when it comes on. As to the arrangement of the programme on the notice paper, under the Standing Orders that is a matter which, 1 believe, conies within the responsibilities of you, Mr President, and the Clerk.
– 1 call Senator O’Byrne.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface, I remind him that one of his predecessors had considerable difficulty in persuading the Senate that the IPEC company, under the chairmanship of Mr Gordon Barton, should not have a licence to import aircraft to operate on intercapital air routes. Has the Minister seen a report in ‘Rydges Business Journal’ dealing with plans by the directors of the Jetair company, including the notorious Alexander Barton-
– He is not related to Gordon Barton.
– Who is not related to Gordon Barton, to float a company depending on Government approval of the grant of a public transport licence, permission to operate intercapital routes and permission to import new Nord 262 aircraft? Has this company received any assurances or undertakings from the Minister? How would such a company operate while the present Airlines Agreement remains in force?
– I think I had only just come here when the argument to which the honourable senator referred - about the IPEC company and a Mr Barton - occurred in the Senate. So I do not know very much about lt. I have not seen the article in ‘Rydges Business Journal’ to which the honourable senator referred; but ] shall certainly look it up. When I read what it says in detail I will be in a better position to answer the honourable senator’s third question. But he may take it from me at this stage that I have given no assurances of any kind.
– My question is directed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. As the tourist industry is now widely recognised as one of the major overseas income earners for Australia, would the Minister give consideration to approaching the Government with a view to making long term, low interest rate loans for the development of tourist facilities such as motels or hotels, particularly in remote areas which, being unique, could attract international tourists if such facilities were available?
– The honourable senator refers to incentives and benefits that are given to tourist enterprises in other countries. Only yesterday I had occasion to peruse the full list. It is amazing to see how, almost uniformly, all the countries that are building up their tourist trades are giving special incentives and concessions for the establishment of enterprises. On my recent trip it was brought home to me vividly that the Government of Fiji, for instance, in order to build up the tourist industry allows a 7% subsidy on the capital provision for a new motel or hotel and allows a recoupment out of income before tax accrues of 55% of the original capital cost. I think I have said sufficient to indicate that this matter is receiving earnest and continuing attention at this time.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, refers to the question asked earlier by Senator Lillico and the answer given in respect of the employment of lobbyists in the United States. I ask the Minister whether he believes that the meat lobby or any other would continue to be employed if it did not pay dividends to its employers.
– This is really an academic question. If a person is employed to do a job, he does the job if he is worth his salt. All I said was that political lobbies are part of the political scene and political life in the United States. There is nothing mysterious about it. It is just a fact of life. I suppose there are people in Australia who would attempt to lobby honourable senators, but they would not be paid professional lobbyists in the sense that the expression has been used.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether the Department of the Army has agreed to any offer made by the South Australian Highways Department to acquire land which is part of the Warradale Army camp. In some parts the land in question extends to 45 feet in width. With apologies to Senator Mulvihill, I ask whether consideration has been given to the preservation of gum trees in the area surveyed. Those gum trees are over 200 years old and are irreplaceable as examples of the type of gum tree which was prevalent in the area when it was originally settled. Few examples of this type of gum tree are left in the area.
– I am not aware of the situation to which the honourable senator has referred. I certainly will take it up with the Minister for the Army and let the honourable senator have a reply.
– Has the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities had an opportunity to consider my suggestion that his Department give evidence before the royal commission appointed to investigate drilling on the Great Barrier Reef?
– I remind the honourable senator that when he asked me to consider that suggestion I said that I welcomed it. I gave it immediate consideration and have issued a direction that my Department will offer evidence to the royal commission on the tourism aspects of the Great Barrier Reef.
– In directing my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate I refer to the very sound decision of the Federal Government to direct that genuine primary producers be excluded from the effect of the recent rise in loan rates of interest applied by major trading banks. The Minister will recall that I asked recently whether the increased interest rates may have been applied to all bank customers and that he replied that the administration of the matter is in the hands of the trading banks. I now ask: Does the Minister feel that the reply he gave is acceptable, or does he not feel that the Treasurer or he as Leader of the Government In the Senate may acquiesce to my request to obtain a statement from the major trading banks as to the manner of their administration in regard to this matter?
– The honourable senator is asking that the Government through the Treasurer inquire of the trading banks what have been the application and implications of the policy concerning increased interest rates. I would have to put that question to the Treasurer. I suggest that the honourable senator place his question on the notice paper and I will get a reply for him.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it not a fact that owing to the close proximity of a tannery and glycerine factory and other undoubtedly necessary but malodorous enterprises, Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport is possibly the smelliest airport in the world? Is it not also a fact that the international terminal airport at Sydney suffers from the same aromas as does the domestic terminal? ls this state of affairs made even worse by the fact that a large canal through which effluent is transported has been constructed alongside the expressway running to the International Airport? Can the Minister take any action to ensure that persons arriving in Australia at the Sydney Airport will have a less aromatic introduction to this country?
– One of the less fascinating features of arriving at and departing from Sydney airport has been the smell on a hot night from the canning and glycerine factories. I think everybody in Sydney has deplored that the factories have been there but, after all, this is a matter for a State instrumentality and not for a Commonwealth instrumentality to attend to. This question refers really to the road into the airport and the road out of the airport. The canal referred to was not constructed after the expressway, but unfortunately was there when the expressway linked to the new terminal was put in. The concern expressed by the honourable senator is shared by me. 1 have been looking at this matter and trying to see whether there is anything that I could possibly do. I will not be able to undertake to remove all the smells in the honourable senator’s lifetime but I shall do what I can to help.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. If I as a senator see an image of honourable senators of the Opposition marching behind the flags of the Vietcong or the North Vietnamese, or behind a flag bearing the hammer and sickle, would you feel that I should be requested to withdraw a remark that Opposition members appeared to be caught up with the Communists? How is such a comment considered offensive to honourable senators? Would, you review your decision?
– I point out to the honourable senator that he is perfectly entitled to ask the Presiding Officer a question. It remains for the Presiding Officer to decide whether he will answer it. I will not answer this question.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Air follows on from my previous question. I ask again: Is the United States insisting upon the payment by Australia of charges for storing
Fill aircraft in circumstances where they were defective? Will these charges continue to apply in the years to come? Do the costs which the Minister has mentioned include amounts for the storage of the aircraft? Do these amounts which the Minister has mentioned include also the cost of the special visits to the United States of scientific and specialist teams which were investigating the aircraft or are they separate payments charged to the Department?
– The matter of charges for storage in which the honourable senator and his colleague Senator Toohey have been very interested for some months is still under negotiation with the United States Department of Defense. I cannot say when we will get some finality on this question. In regard to the cost of specialists going to the United States, this figure is not known to me at this stage. What was the honourable senator’s third question?
– Will the Minister tell us how much it is?
– I do not know at this stage, but if there is a figure which I can give to the honourable senator 1 shall obtain it for him and give it to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. What is the total amount paid to date of the debt on the Fill aircraft? What proportion of the money paid has been met from loans raised in America?
– I think 1 told Senator Bishop earlier that the Government has authorised the expenditure of $US252m to date, of which amount $US230m has actually been paid. 1 cannot say at this stage what proportion of that amount has been raised in America but I shall check up and let the honourable sentaor know.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government. What Ls the position regarding the proposals which were mooted early in the session for streamlining and making. more effective the procedures and the session times of the Senate and the Parliament? As the Democratic Labor Party supported these proposals which were put forward initially by Senator Murphy and many members of other Parties supported them also, have the proposals been bogged down in Party caucuses?
– If I may go back over what has happened: I moved for some variation of sitting times. Senator Murphy, as Leader of the Opposition, canvassed the matter which was then stood over. He merely canvassed the question and certain other proposals. When we came to a substantive decision on the matter it was agreed that whilst Senator Murphy was not to pursue his proposal for a 2-week cycle, he kept his options open to raise the proposal again in relation to another matter. There have been discussions-
– You said that we would have a meeting.
– I am reminded by Senator Murphy that 1 indicated we were going to have a meeting, which I hope will be held this week.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. As the Minister advised me, in answer to a previous question, that the Canberra bomber constitutes the strike capability in our defence system, is he aware that the Mark 19, which is a later version of the Canberra than that used by the Royal Australian Air Force, is currently used for radar target practice by the Royal Air Force? Does the Minister still believe that such an aircraft can fulfil the role which he ascribes to it?
Royal Australian Air Force sought a replacement for the Canberra bomber in 1963. Now the Canberra bomber is 7 years older. So I think the honourable senator will realise that whatever version of the Canberra bomber we may have, it must be nearing the end of its life. For this reason, I do not think that the Canberra bomber could continue to be used as the strike aircraft which the RAAF requires at the present time.
– M y question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Whilst recognising Australia’s great need for peace in South East Asia, i ask the Minister what role, if any, the Australian Government is playing in the United Nations and in other places to try to bring about peace and understanding in the Middle East. Of course, as the Minister knows, . Australia played an important part in the formation of Israel. 1 further ask: Will the Government use every endeavour, through every channel possible, to bring all the nations involved in the Middle East dispute to the sams peace table in order to bring about a cessation of hostilities in this troubled part of the world, because these hostilities are a further threat to world peace?
– Of course, Australia has representatives at the United Nations, and indeed we send delegates from the 2 Houses of this Parliament to the plenary sessions of United Nations which are held in October, November and December each year. We have at the United Nations an officer who has the status of Australian Ambassador. We are in fact very much a part of the United Nations and are playing our role, along with other nations, in helping to achieve the objectives of the United Nations.
It is also true that in relation to the current situation that has emerged in Cambodia the Minister for External Affairs is to attend a conference on Cambodia which was initiated by the Indonesian Foreign Minister and which will be held in Djakarta on 16th and 17th May. The conference will deal with the problems of the Cambodian situation. I cannot give any further answer at this point of time, but after question time I shall look at the question to see whether there are any further aspects which I think warrant a further answer.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, follows a previous question. Is the Minister aware that a recently floated company known as Jetair has acquired a number of DC3 aircraft and, in rather unusual circumstances, 2 Viscount aircraft?
Could the Minister supply information as to whether these Viscount aircraft were purchased from the Commonwealth Department of Supply? If they were, does he know the conditions of sale? If he does, are the conditions of sale being fulfilled?
– I think that I might intercede to answer the question because, as I recall, Senator Keeffe asked a question about the sale of Viscount aircraft and I supplied the information for which he asked. Senator O’Byrne’s question relates to the terms and conditions of sale of the aircraft. I am speaking now without reference to notes, but it is my clear recollection that the Viscount aircraft were offered for sale under tender. Tenders were called from all over the world, and one was accepted. One of the terms and conditions of sale was that the aircraft were to be exported. The terms and conditions of sale were entered into and signed. I. have been informed that subsequently the aircraft were resold from one purchaser to another. The implications of what Senator O’Byrne asked stem from the circumstances in which the aircraft may be now. Quite clearly the terms and conditions of sale for the Viscount and for the aircraft sold previously by the Department of Supply provide for export of the aircraft.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the many erroneous statements of fact and history as to proceedings of the Geneva Conference in 1954 and events in Vietnam since then made by members of the Australian Labor Party, supporters of the Moratorium, and others who wish to propagate the cause of the Vietcong will the Department of External Affairs consider extracting from Hansard and other publications these many erroneous statements and publishing, with a view to the widest possible circulation, the actual position as to those facts and matters which are misquoted consistently?
– Earlier, when answering a question asked about Vietnam, I said that one would need to go back to the Geneva Accords to get a broad picture of the situation. Senator Greenwood asked that I pick out all the erroneous statements that have been made and give a reply to them. I would be a very busy man if I did that. I think it would be fair comment to say that some amazing interpretations have been made by bush lawyers and by laymen as to what the Geneva Accords mean. It may be possible to get some of the main fallacies that have been propounded. 1 will ask the Department of External Affairs whether this can be done.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When will the Senate be able to debate the proposal for a series of standing committees to operate in the Senate, which proposal has met with much approval from many quarters and which should not be sidetracked?
– The current situation is that the Standing Orders Committee has had some consideration of a paper put down by the Clerk, Mr Odgers. The paper is currently being considered by the various Parties. At this point of time I can talk only for the Government Parties. We have been looking at proposals and narrowing the field of our consideration in the early stages to the concept of dealing with the Estimates. I hope that within the next couple of weeks the Government Parties will be in a position for our representatives on the Standing Orders Committee to have some discussions within that Committee. I think this is the way in which the matter should be considered.I would imagine that before we rise for the winter recess we should have a clear pattern of understanding as to how a number of matters will be proceeded with during the Budget session.
(Question No. 12)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3) These questions relate to matters outside my sphere of responsibility.
(Question No. 66)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 180)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 186)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development the following question, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 187)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development the following question, upon notice:
Do any Australian States conduct their own aero-magnetic and seismic surveys in the exploration for hydro-carbons in their on-shore areas; if so, which States conduct (a) aero-magnetic surveys and (b) seismic surveys, and over what period of time.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The South Australian Mines Department is the only State Department which has conducted its own aero-magnetic and seismic surveys in the exploration for hydro-carbons in on-shore areas.
The aero-magnetic surveys were conducted in the period of 1955 to 1957 and were carried out for the Mines Department by a contractor.
Since 1957 the South Australian Mines Department has been carrying out seismic surveys in the sedimentary basins, using its own crews and equipment.
(Question No. 263)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
In each of the last 10 years, what has been the cost of imported film material used for television in Australia.
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The type of information which the honourable senator seeks is not directly available to me but I note that my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry supplied information on the matter in reply to a question in the Senate recently. It appears in the Senate Hansard for 18th March, 1970. This information may be sufficient for the honourable senator’s purposes. However, in respect of earlier years, information was supplied in reply to a question in the Senate in 1966. It appears in Senate Hansard for August, 1966, page 40.
(Question No. 265)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
In view of the increasing pollution of coastal rivers, particularly the Georges River in New South Wales, and bearing in mind the importance of the oyster industry to Australia, what investigational work, if any, is being undertaken in Australia on oyster diseases.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Oysters are cultivated extensively in the estuarine systems notably in Georges River, Port Stephens, Wallis Lake and the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales, and to a lesser extent in estuarine areas in Queensland and Tasmania. As such, the fisheries are the responsibility of the States and I suggest you direct your enquiries to the authorities concerned.
(Question No. 292)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Commonwealth Railways Commissioner economic studies relating to a number of alternatives for connecting the South Australian railways system to the new standard gauge system, and including a link with that system to Adelaide; if so, what were the alternatives, and the costs of the proposals, including the cost of each proposed connection.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The alternative schemes comprised:
Brook, Port Pirie-Broken Hill and Gladstone-Wilmington-Quorn. Narrow Gauge: NiL
The information supplied at that time in relation to the various proposals was confined to an order of differences of capital costs of track and structures based solely on board unit rates. At that stage overall estimates had not been prepared. Similarly, information supplied in connection with operating costs was confined to the differentials of the various schemes compared with those existing at that time. A feasibility study and report on the most efficient and economic method of providing a standard gauge connection to Adelaide was recently undertaken by a firm of consultants. Their report is now being studied by the South Australian and the Commonwealth Governments, but information concerning it must be regarded as confidential at this stage.
(Question No. 288)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Primary Industry upon notice:
What is the total financial assistance being given by the Commonwealth Government to the dairying industry throughout Australia during the financial year 1969-70.
– The Acting Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Total assistance for the dairy industry with respect to the financial year 1969-70 is estimated at $50,284,000, made up as follows:
(Question No. 313)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Japan. As to the final part of the honourable senator’s question, the Government remains of the view that, as I said in my statement on 27th April, immediate action is required in Cambodia, and that any attempt to cover a wider spread of issues at this time might only serve to minimise the impact of the proposed meeting. The framework within which negotiations of a settlement of the Vietnam war already exists in Paris. Unfortunately the Communist side has not yet shown a readiness to engage in serious negotiations there.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science the following question without notice on 17th March 1970:
I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science a question. Will he seek, through the Minister for Education and Science, to iron out a problem that has arisen between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth concerning secondary teachers’ scholarship tuition? Will the Minister ascertain whether it is true that the Australian National University in Canberra would willingly accept students living in nearby areas, such as Young, Yass, Cootamundra and Temora and adjoining areas, thereby saving young people from travelling hundreds of miles to Sydney? On behalf of the young men and women involved, will the Minister try to adjust the petty difference that has arisen between the respective Education Departments and overcome this problem, which affects a number of young Australians and their families?
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The situation to which the honourable senator has referred is that, following a change in fee charging provisions at the Australian National University, the New South Wales Government has placed certain restrictions on its teacher training scholarship holders who wish to attend the National University. The Commonwealth is perfectly happy for these students to attend the Australian National University, but it appears that the New South Wales authorities are not prepared to pay the necessary fees on behalf of their trainees unless they are within daily travelling distance.
I might add that the Commonwealth pays fees on behalf of its own bonded students attending both the Australian National University and State universities. The Minister has indicated to me, however, that he would be prepared to see what can be done if the New South Wales authorities have proposals to make.
– On 9th April Senator Marriott asked me the following question:
In view of the fact that we are reaching the era of the Jumbo Jets and because of the great increase in the number of charter flights, will the
Minister advise the Senate, either now or as early as is possible, what airports in Australia are capable of handling Jumbo Jets and what action is contemplated to bring to the necessary standard airports which Jumbo Jets may’ desire to use on charter flights.
The following information supplements the reply I gave to the honourable senator on that day:
Most ofthe capital cities have runways to meet the requirements of the Boeing 747 though not over long stage lengths.
The new Sydney terminal can look after the Boeing 747 right now.
The international operators do not expect to schedule jumbo jets through the other capital cities, except perhaps Melbourne, for some considerable lime. Late 1971 has been mentioned.
The new Melbourne terminal will be able to look after the Boeing 747 as from its opening in July.
Work is in progress on the lengthening of the north-south runway at Sydney and similar plans for Melbourne have been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
At all other possible scheduled stops plans are in hand to meet the requirements of the Boeing 747. Meanwhile, we are paying very close attention to the manner in which these aircraft are being handled since they recently were introduced across the Atlantic and the North Pacific. We intend to use this experience not only to ensure the completeness of the earlier mentioned plans but also to sec to what degree existing facilities intended to meet the Boeing 747 requirements should be further developed.
Bearing in mind that it is most unlikely that the Boeing 747 will be used for other than international operations in the foreseeable future and that therefore its operation is confined to the international ports of entry, it is not proposed to specially develop additional airports for Boeing 747 operations, irrespective of whether they are in the regular public transport or chatter category.
– on 23rd April, Senator Milliner asked the Minister representing the Treasurer to ascertain the reason for the delay in the delivery of the bound volumes of Hansard, and I undertook to have inquiries made into the position. I am informed that the distribution of the bound volumes for the period 26th February29th May 1969 began in December last. The bound volumes covering the period 12th August-26th September 1969 will be available shortly. Approximately 750 sets of weekly Hansards - perhaps 2,250 or 3,000 separate volumes covering a sessional period - are bound for distribution to official recipients and for sale. The magnitude of this undertaking, the fact that binding can- not begin for 6 to 8 weeks after the close of a session until the indexes have been compiled by the Parliamentary Reporting Staff and set by the Government Printer, and the Christmas close-down are all considerations influencing the issue of the bound volumes for the period 12th August-26th September.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator
Bull) - The President has received the following letter from Senator Mulvihill:
Mr President, I intend to move today:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 9.55 a.m., for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely: the necessity for protection of the kangaroo and other endangered marsupials by urgent steps including the convening by the Minister for Science or other Federal Minister of a meeting with the State Ministers responsible for fauna conservation to consider the framing of a Commonwealth Endangered Species Act that would enable the Commonwealth to aid the States to save the kangarooand other endangered species’.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– In moving this motion, I have-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Mulvihill, you must move the motion.
– I move:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 9.55 a.m.
In submitting this proposal to the Senate my thoughts go back to 1st September 1 965 when, having been in the Senate for only a very short time, 1 suggested in my maiden speech, amongst other proposals, that the Commonwealth should assume greater responsibility in the field of fauna conservation. At that time I instanced the red kangaroo and linked him with the fate that befell the American bison. In the time at my disposal today I propose to trace events over the past 4 years which have culminated in the motion now before the Senate which calls virtually for summit talks between the Commonwealth Minister concerned, the Minister for Education and
Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), and the responsible State Ministers. 1 commence with a communication dated 4th May addressed to me by the Minister for Education and Science in reply to some views that 1 have expressed. Among other things the Minister slated:
To assist in the development of this policy and to achieve a closer consultation and co-operation between the Commonwealth and Stale authorities, a permanent secretariat lo the Australian Fauna Authorities Conference and its related committees is being established in my Department.
My first comment on that is that it is perhaps a case of too little too late. I say thai because as we proceed we seem to be getting a host of inquiries and conferences at a lower level but there is not much administrative action. According to a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph’ of 9th May considerable agitation had been expressed and directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) who replied by stating that he hoped soon to hold a conference with other departments, including the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Education and Science. lt is significant that coincident with those utterances we have been receiving a spate of petitions which claim, among other things, that only uniform laws can protect certain varieties of kangaroo.
Let me say at the outset that the proposal which 1 am sponsoring is not aimed only at kangaroos. It refers to other endangered species. I go a little further. Realising the size of the Australian continent. I am not Utopian enough to claim that because some species are endangered in, say, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria the same state of affairs applies to those species of Australian wildlife in perhaps Western Australia and even parts of Queensland. The same problems do not necessarily exist in all States. At this point let me say that my Victorian colleague, Senator Poyser, who will be supporting me to the hilt in these proposals has a pretty intimate knowledge of conditions in his own State. 1 am seeking positive administrative action and 1 can do no better to prove the validity of my charge that it is essential that urgent consideration be given to this matter than to quote from an article in the February 1970 issue of ‘Australian Conservation Foundation’ which is published in Melbourne. The article is written by a Mr Winter, lt refers to the safe shooting ratio of 1:6.5. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate the article in Hansard. safe-shooting’ ratio
Mr Winter’s calculation produced a ‘safe shooting’ figure of 1 in 6.S, which means that for every kangaroo shot in the course of a year, five or six should be left alive at the end of it. His calculation is open to criticism on the ground that it does not make adequate allowance for the adverse effect on breeding of extreme seasonal conditions -a response which is an integral part of the kangaroos’ adaptation to a drought-risky habitat. However, it would be impossible to produce a shooting ratio1 that would apply to extreme situations as well as to a normal run of seasons.
The sensible approach, therefore, is to accept Winter’s figure as a guide to die degree of restraint called for under ordinary, somewhat variable, seasonal conditions, while bearing in mind that even greater restraint might have to be applied in a time of widespread severe drought.
It must be confessed that the practical implications of Winter’s calculation are rather disquieting, lt is obvious that the shooting of only one kangaroo in six or seven would be completely unacceptable as a pest-control operation to graziers, while it is surely ludicrous to expect commercial shooters to accept any edict demanding this degree of restraint (which would be unenforceable anyway).
While local operations cannot be made to conform with the ‘shoot-one-in-6.5’ formula, the fact remains that a restraint of this general order must apply to the species and the hunting areas as a whole, if the industry is to survive. This means, surely, that the inevitable local overshooting must be corrected by the spelling of blocks of country, probably for several years, to permit population recovery. Quite apart from any consideration for the kangaroos, there seems no escape from the conclusion that commercial hunters must be prevented from shooting anything like the number of animals that they would like to, and could easily, kill.
My purpose in referring to that article is to prove that in certain States there is rising agitation for appropriate action.
– Is the article simply to the effect that the ratio should be I in 6.5?
– Yes. Let me quote now the words of Vincent Serventy, who is well known in Western Australia and is well known to Senator Willesee. He is one of Australia’s foremost naturalists. Among other things, he is the editor of Wildlife in Australia’, which emanates from Brisbane. In a letter to me he said, among other things:
In New South Wales that means (he central division where parks are almost non-existent.
That area is -the haven of the red kangaroo. Something positive should be done. He went on to say:
The Federal Government (should) buy or lease a sizeable property to test out the CSIRO contention that sheep and kangaroo farming is the best use of most of our pastoral land. 1 was told by a leading figure that the CSIRO had been unable to get a property to test out their conclusions on an economic scale. 1 have written to Mr Bowen about this.
That is the picture that I am attempting to sketch. I will give an illustration of private initiative trying to do something. I am not unaware of the credit side of the ledger. If I may digress briefly, I acknowledge that in the 4 years I have been in the Senate I have noticed the enhanced status of the Australian Conservation Foundation. I give credit for the subsidy that the Foundation receives. The difficulty is that it and a host of other bodies do research which is extremely valuable, but I am looking for action beyond the general research that has been advanced. I point out that individuals and State authorities have certain targets but, because of a lack of finance and lack of other assistance from the Commonwealth, they have been unable to achieve their targets.
I can do no better than refer to a project in northern New South Wales which was known as the Boundary Creek Bentley State Park. It was sponsored by the Summerland National Parks and Wildlife Committee. That Committee held seminars on this project. I think Senator Wright and Mr Anthony attended one of the seminars. Some very sound speeches were made. I quote the following from a letter from the President of the Committee, Mr Hartley, dated 19th August 1969:
We appear to have reached a ‘stalemate’ with regard to this project and wish to bring to your notice the latest .happenings in the hope that you may be able to help the National Parks and Wildlife Service make a decision as soon as possible.
Logging operations will be commencing in a few weeks’ time . . .
Once logging operations commence, it means that another part of our wildlife habitat has disappeared. Dr McMichael of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service is an extremely dedicated and competent State official; but, like all the other States, New South Wales has a certain budget and cannot go beyond it.
We can refer to Dr Mosley’s books on Australian national parks. He was aiming at having 5% of the entire continent set aside in various categories. Some would be wilderness reservations; others would be for specific wildlife purposes; and then there would be the general national parks. We are not reaching that 5% target. We are far from it. My colleague Senator O’Byrne could paint a picture of the position in Tasmania. I know that in all the major States the situation is spotty. I am not trying to rekindle the embers of the past failures; I am looking to the future. The point 1 am making is that we must think big and act big.
Returning to New South Wales, I do not deny that in most of the State the acreages are increasing; but the tempo is not fast enough. I am referring particularly to the area out near the South Australian border. The point that I hammer is that, until we have a massive acquisition of land that will parallel in acreage the Kruger National Park in South Africa, nothing very positive will be done about the red kangaroo, and what I say about him can be applied to a number of other marsupials.
Let me come to the real crux of the situation as regards the time factor. As reported in Hansard of 19th March 1970, Senator Wright, representing Mr Bowen, said in reply to a question from me:
I wish to inform the honourable senator that no date has been set for the next meeting of State Ministers concerned with this matter–
He was referring to Ministers dealing with fauna control - . . with the Federal Minister for Education and Science. It is expected that consideration will be given to such a meeting after the next conference of Australian fauna authorities which is scheduled for 26th or 29th May.
As honourable senators can see, that answer dovetails with the text of our matter of urgency, in which we say that there should not be any time lag. If many of the minor matters are being dealt with by those fauna authorities, the time is well overdue for this summit meeting to take place. Someone may say to me: ‘The State Ministers will meet with the Commonwealth Minister. Where do we go from there?’ Perhaps I have some sort of a vision. I ask for permission to incorporate in Hansard an extract from the United States Congressional Record. This is known as Public Law 89-669. I would not expect Senator Wright to make a judgment on this, but my motive is to have incorporated in Hansard a summary of the United States legislation on endangered species. The point 1 like about it, among other things, is that it consistently uses the words ‘after consultation with the affected States’ and then goes on to say how the United States Department of the Interior can work in tandem with the States. So I ask for permission to have this extract incorporated in Hansard. It will clarify whatI am driving at. in regard to legislation.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Is leave granted?
– Yes. But let me say that it would assist me greatly in making a judgment on whether leave should be given if the honourable senator would let me peruse the relevant documents before the debate commences, if that would not prejudice him. I suggest that for the future.
– I have noted that. I appreciate the clemency that I have been given. With the concurrence of honourable senators. I incorporate that extract in Hansard.
To provide tor the conservation, protection, and propagation of native species of fish and wild life, including migratory birds, that are threatened with extinction; to consolidate the authorities relating to the administration by the Secretary of the Interior of the National WildlifeRefuge System; and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (a) the Congress finds and declares that one of the unfortunate consequences of growth and development in the United Stales has been the extermination of some native species of fish and wildlife; that serious losses in other species of native wild animals with educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value have occurred and are occurring; and that the United States has pledged itself, pursuant to migratory bird treaties with Canada and Mexico and the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere, to conserve and protect, where practicable, the various species of native fish and wildlife, including game and nongame migratory birds, that are threatened with extinction. The purposes of this Act are to provide a program for the conservation, protection, restoration, and propagation of selected species of native fish and wildlife, including migratory birds, that are threatened with extinction, and to consolidate, restate, and modify the present authorities relating to administration by the Secretary of the Interior of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Sec. 2. (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall utilize the land acquisition and other authorities of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, as amended, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, as amended, and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act to carry out a program in the United States of conserving, protecting, restoring, and propagating selected species of native fish and wildlife that are threatened with extinction.
Sec. 3. (a) In carrying out the program authorized by this Act, the Secretary shall cooperate to the maximum extent practicable with the several States. Such cooperation shall include consultation before the acquisition of any land for the purpose of conserving, protecting, restoring, or propagating any endangered species of native fish and wildlife.
Sec. 4. (a) For the purpose of consolidating the authorities relating to the various categories of areas that are administered by the Secretary of the Interior for the conservation of fish and wildlife, including species that are threatened with extinction, all lands, waters, and interests therein administered by the Secretary as wildlife refuges, areas for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife (hat are threatened wilh extinction, wildlife ranges, game ranges, wildlife management areas, or waterfowl production areas are hereby designated as trie “National Wildlife Refuge System” (referred to herein as the “System”), which shall be subject to the provisions of this section. Nothing contained in this Act shall restrict the authority of the Secretary to modify or revoke public land withdrawals affecting lands in the System as presently constituted, or as it may be constituted, whenever he determines that such action is consistent with the public interest.
In administering the System, the Secretary is authorized-
No person shall knowingly disturb, injure, cut, burn, remove, destroy, or possess any real or personal property of the United States, including natural growth, in any area of the System; or take or possess any fish, bird, mammal, or other wild vertebrate or invertebrate animals or part or nest or egg thereof within any such area; or enter, use, or otherwise occupy any such area for any purpose; unless such activities are performed by persons authorized to manage such area, or unless such activities are permitted either under subsection (d) of this section or by express provision of the law, proclamation, Executive order, or public land order establishing the area, or amendment thereof: Provided, That the United States mining and mineral leasing laws shall continue to apply to any lands within the System to the same extent they apply prior to the effective date of this Act unless subsequently withdrawn under other authority of law. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to control or regulate hunting or fishing of resident fish and wildlife, including endangered species thereof, on lands not within the System. The regulations permitting hunting and fishing of resident fish and wildlife within the System shall be, to the extent practicable, consistent with Slate fish and wildlife laws and regulations. The provisions of this Act shall not be construed as affecting the authority jurisdiction, or responsibility of the several States to manage, control, or regulate fish and resident wildlife under State law or regulations in any area within the System.
I deliberately referred to the use of the words ‘after consultation with the affected States’ because, although I am putting this proposal from the Opposition benches, last year in Sydney I found myself sitting around a table with Mr Wentworth, the Minister for Social Services, Mr Fox from the other place and the New South Wales Minister for Lands, the Honourable T. Lewis, M.L.A., and heading a group of people who wanted joint action on fauna conservation. To be quite candid about it, I found that I was fighting tooth and nail and shoulder and shoulder with Mr Wentworth in an effort to convince the New South Wales Minister for Lands, who is a member of the same party as Mr Wentworth and not of my party, that Canberra would not gobble up his National Parks and Wildlife Service.
I make this point because I believe that it is a case of obtaining the trust and cooperation of the States. But going beyond them, I think of utterances by people such as the late Professor Jock Marshall from Monash University; his able assistant, Dr Dorward; Vincent Serventy, whom I have already quoted; the members of the Australian Conservation Foundation; Dr McMichael and Alan Strom of the Nature Conservation Council in New South Wales.
These people will not be fobbed off. They are becoming impatient with these fruitless demarcation disputes. If the States could make greater use of competent Commonwealth officers, such as Harry Frith, we would get somewhere. If these summit conferences received the same amount of publicity as Premiers Conferences receive, I believe that public opinion would convince the States that some of their suspicions and fears are of no consequence and we could move along together in double harness. That is why I have endeavoured to pinpoint a date when we should pursue this line. On one occasion the late Senator Laught mentioned in the Senate a scheme that operates in Canada whereby subsidies are paid or taxation deductions allowed in respect of farmland which is not cultivated but left in its natural state to assist conservation. Of course, the New South Wales Government may say that its present budget does not provide sufficient money to acquire additional land in the Western Division of the State. No doubt Senator Poyser will deal specifically with the Victorian position. I believe that in this situation grants could be made by the Commonwealth under section 96 of the Constitution.
Since the legislation to which I have referred was introduced in the United States 78 conservation projects have been undertaken. While the problem here may concern kangaroos in one State, wallabies or even platypuses may be involved in other States. In suggesting the creation of a federal secretariat in the field of conservation I point out that the Minister for Education and Science employs a secretariat to check the validity of claims made by States for handouts for education purposes. I am not suggesting that the Commonwealth should hand out money holus-bolus, but it should be able to make an effective evaluation of claims through the Wildlife Division of CSIRO under its director, Dr Harry Frith.
I turn again to the agenda which I hope will be considered by Commonwealth and State Ministers. I do not believe that it is just a straightout case of handing out money. I. am indebted to a colleague, Dr Ritchie Gun, a member of another place, for information about the situation in South Australia. On 10th March I directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science a question based on an article in the journal ‘Wildlife in Australia’. The article stated that no scientific expedition had been made to the Pearson Isles, off the coast of South Australia, for over 20 years. In ray question I pointed out that a rare variety of wallaby is found on those islands. Our defence authorities in their wisdom have acquired about 84 helicopters and I suggested that patrols by naval craft and helicopters of the Royal Australian Air Force should be meshed in the area to keep at bay from the islands some of the nomadic fishing groups which would be inclined to destroy the wallabies there.
The is precedent for the suggestion. The United States Navy did not hesitate to participate in an expedition in the West Indies investigating marine life. The Australian taxpayers would be pleased to see our defence forces operating in civic projects because they would feel that they were getting some value for their money. Such a move would assist to create a better image for our defence forces. I sincerely believe that it would be advantageous for defence forces and equipment to be used for these different purposes.
When such suggestions are made governments are inclined to say: ‘What are the individuals in the area doing?’ i have a letter from the Natural History Society of South Australia concerning a memorable occasion on which I found myself allied with a group which was endeavouring to curb some of the impetuous actions ot the present South Australian Minister for Agriculture in respect of the Moorunde Wombat Reserve. It is clear that the field of fauna conservation can become a battleground for many interests. It is also clear that there is a growing body of opinion that wants action taken. If positive action such as I have suggested is taken success can be achieved on many fronts. I wish to pay tribute to a member of one of the many rank and file groups concerned with conservation. I refer to Mrs Jones, who resides in the electorate of the Minister for Social Services. She is an active member of the Save Big Red Committee. As the representative of the average voter she sums up the situation by saying that what we really need is a Commonwealth body to coordinate, establish and administer laws to protect Australia’s native fauna on a national basis.
I part company . with the Minister for Education and Science on the matter of action to be taken at a positive level. I am advocating a massive acceleration of the acquisition of acreage to assist restoration and preservation of natural habitats, and I do not believe that we are moving fast enough. However, my colleagues will deal in more detail with that matter. I have no doubt that there is great need for the more effective operation of wardens and other such safeguards against the people who are doing well, out of the exploitation of our wildlife. It may be necessary to take steps in regard to the industry involved. 1 joined with my colleague Senator Devitt on an unforgettable occasion on an excursion that involved also the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) and Mr Lance Barnard, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place, in defence of the Cape Barren geese. Because of the co-operation of Mr Sinclair we were able to have Chapel Island and Goose Island in Bass Strait proclaimed as reservations for Cape Barren geese. Senator Wright will be aware that because of the establishment of those havens the numbers of the birds was restored to a stable level. We are realistic enough to realise that if those birds reach pest proportions in other districts control measures may be necessary there. The same principle applies to kangaroos and wallabies.
In New South Wales, Victoria and possibly South Australia there is an unanswerable case for action to be taken to hold the line, to increase the number of reservations for particular varieties. It is of no use for people to try to twist the issues. To the people listening to my speech and to those who will read it in Hansard I emphasise that I am aiming at the people who live off the industry. I have in mind kangaroo shooters arid people engaged in tanning. I have heard many squeals about how long the situation san continue. If adequate planning is conducted on a live and let live basis all will be well. Some people weep crocodile tears ‘and regard Senator Poyser and me as angels of disaster. I invite them to go back into history to the time of the American war between the States when people said that if the shackles of the slaves in the south were removed the cotton industry of the United States would founder. The slaves were freed and the industry did not founder.
I could apply some particular epithets to the people engaged in the roo meat industry that is destroying some varieties of our wildlife. 1 do not wish to wipe out legitimate employment but those people, like the mineral interests, should be obliged to put something back into the country. I make that appeal to them. Every year when we discuss the Estimates we consider the number of CSIRO scholarships. The people to whom I have referred are like those of a lot of other groups who are quite happy to live off the research conducted by CSIRO. Dedicated people like Harry Frith do not receive donations to assist them in their research, nor do people in the industry make substantial gifts to the Australian Conservation Foundation.
I have endeavoured to deal with the technicalities of this matter and to take cognisance of the rivalry that exists between some States and the Commonwealth. I am not adopting a narrow viewpoint. If legislation such as the United States Endangered Species Act were introduced a conference such as 1 have suggested would follow. With adequate give and take we would be able to produce something worth while. I am hopeful that my colleague Senator O’Byrne will enter this debate. Senator Wright appreciates that the dead hand of the Treasury has always to be considered in these matters. When I spoke in this chamber on 1st September 1965 I pointed out that the United States had a water conservation fund through which the then President, Lyndon Johnson, fed money back to the States.
I have had discussions on this point with my colleague Senator O’Byrne. He has had experience in this field in Tasmania. Attention should be paid to the bonanza being reaped in off-shore oil and gas royalties to see whether part of it could be applied to conservation activities. There are other ways in which the Government could act. It is not necessarily my place to say where the money should be obtained. I have never advanced in the Senate any proposal without accompanying it by facts relating to the way in which the necessary revenue could be obtained.
I think I can do nothing better in winding up than to point out that the proposal that has been submitted by the Opposition today is fairly broad in character and does provide an opportunity for creative federalism - a term which is often used today - to work effectively. 1 finish with some short verses. Ode to the Kangaroo’ from Mrs Mary Barrashers of Croydon. New South Wales, another Tank and file person who leads one of these small fauna groups:
We are the speechless
We are the harmless. the hunted and the killed.
We ask of no man
Other than the right to live.
Spare its from the callous, the Mercenary and cruel.
Wc do not slay
Either ours or other kind,
Nor encroach on man’s preserve.
And dignity is ours.
– I have listen ded to Senator Mulvihill, as 1 usually do, wilh a great deal of respect, both for his earnestness and his energy in prosecuting a cause. On this occasion I welcome the move that he has made to bring before the Senate a very important aspect of our public responsibility. He has pointed out that in the preservation of wildlife the States have a very important primary responsibility, and he has developed a theme that the national Government also has its aspects of interest in the matter for which he has a practical proposal. I make no comment upon the practicability of that proposal. He would not expect me to accept it or reject it without an adequate opportunity for consideration. But when he seeks that this national Parliament should give its attention to the conservation of the kangaroo and other wild life that is characteristic of this country, I am sure that he evokes from most of the Parliament a very keen interest because we have developed from a situation where we feel that our life should be moulded solely upon economic growth.
We have come to the stage where the quality of the environment and the essential natural aspects of our life, including the unique wildlife of Australia, are important parts of those things that give human happiness. So I am the first to join with Senator Mulvihill in acknowledging that the kangaroo is a unique animal which has been recognised by its place upon our national badge and that it is imperative that we preserve it, not only from the point of view of the human instincts within us but also from the point of view of every aspect of life, including economic aspects. As Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities in the Commonwealth I have, from the time I took office, maintained an intense interest in the wildlife aspect of Australia because we in the tourist field realise that the presence of all wildlife for the pleasure not only of our own people but also for international visitors is one of the great attractions and one of the great pleasures that come from travel. In that connection I mention that the extension and expansion of habitats in which they will expand is an objective of the Tourist Commission. I wish to show that that interest is not peculiar to the Australian Tourist Commission in the Australian Government.
We have had conferences of wildlife authorities for many years, but in July 1969 Mr Malcolm Fraser, who was then Minister for Education and Science, convened an official meeting in Canberra of all State Ministers interested in the preservation of wildlife. Unfortunately that meeting was not as fruitful as it was hoped ro be. but it did al least begin to attract to one focus of federalism the idea that there were aspects of this matter to which this Parliament could contribute. 1 may say for the interest of Senator Mulvihill and the Senate generally that following on that meeting there is to be a meeting of wildlife authorities in Darwin in the week beginning the 25th of this month. That meeting will develop a date upon which it is hoped that the next meeting of federal and State Ministers will take place. For the purpose of that wildlife meeting in Darwin, as Senator Mulvihill has mentioned, activities have been going on within the Government.
Mr Chipp’s activities have been referred to and some public reference has been made to those activities in his responsibility of administering the machinery for the control of exports, such as kangaroos. But in addition the Department of Trade and Industry is interested in the trade aspects of the matter. The Department of Primary Industry is interested in the aspect so far as the animal may be a pest to any primary industry. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, under my colleague the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), has been following a continuous programme of research into aspects of the kangaroo in particular. The Department of Health is concerned, as is also the Department of Education and Science, the Tourist Commission, the Department of the Interior and the Department of National Development A meeting of these departments and their representatives is to take place on the 18th of this month - next Monday - for the purpose of concerting the viewpoints of the Government’s advisers on the matter that should go to the Darwin conference and then go to the Ministers’ conference out of which action should take place.
I am glad to be able to tell my colleagues and the Opposition in the Senate that Mr Max Fox, the honourable member for Henty, to whom Senator Mulvihill made such pleasing reference as a protagonist at the forefront of this field, only today in another place, after preparation going back for quite a period, gave notice that he is going to ask the other place to appoint a select committee to consider and report upon the need for an urgent and comprehensive survey of wildlife populations, including birds and mammals, of land and water and other wildlife; the adequacy of the several systems of national parks and reserves; the effects of pollution and the widespread use of pesticides on wildlife; the effect on the population of kangaroos of trade in meat and hides and the effect of other industrial exploitation; the need for international and interstate agreements for the effective conservation of migratory animals; the threat presented to wildlife by large numbers of domestic animals gone wild, particularly in the north of Australia; and the need for a Commonwealth wildlife conservation authority. So I am sure that Senator Mulvihill and those who support the cause that he has brought to our notice today will be gratified to know that the initiative in this matter is being actively pursued.
– Only because of Senator Mulvihill, but he will get no credit for it.
- Senator Mulvihill and I do not work on the basis of who gets the credit.
– Oh no!
– No. Senator Mulvihill always gets the utmost cooperation from me in anything in which I can advance his cause in the Commonwealth Parliament. I am sure he will be pleased to know that these steps are being taken, and everybody, except those with a malicious mind such as Senator Turnbull has, would treat the matter objectively. I have informed Senator Mulvihill of the purposeful steps that are being taken now and have been taken for a long time by several of our Ministers.
– If it had not been for Senator Mulvihill you would have done nothing.
- Senator Turnbull speaks out of the top of his hat, as usual. It may be pertinent to remind him that he could refer, with advantage and perhaps to improve his knowledge, to an article on the controlled harvesting of kangaroos which has been contributed by Dr H. J. Frith of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Division of Wildlife Research in the Australian Conservation Foundation’s ‘Newsletter’ of April 1 968. In that article I find a very interesting review of the problems concerning the kangaroo. It points out that the number of kangaroo skins sold in Queensland has increased from about 3 million in the period 1956 to I960, to 4 million in the period 1961 to 1965, and that since 1959 the weight of kangaroo meat sold has increased from 2,500 lb to 400,000 lb per year. Then reference is made to the nation’s economy and there is a discussion of the subject in its application to 4 outstanding species. Then for the purposes of clarity Dr Frith deals with the red and the grey kangaroo, and comes to a consideration of the red kangaroo. He goes into its natural habits concerning breeding and propagation and then he considers the question whether or not control measures are needed. Of course. Dr Frith does not speak from the top of his hat.
Those people who consult this article will see that Dr Frith refers to experiments that have been carried out, which show the density of population of kangaroos that has been found by various helicopter reviews of particular tracts. Then he deals with the question of the effect of drought on kangaroos and the compatibility of kangaroos with stock. Of course, he does not overlook the fact that there are some aspects of cultivation that have led to a real increase in the number of kangaroos as a species of wildlife, and he deals with questions of improved pastures, access to water and so on. Then he says that the number of kangaroos has been declining. He goes into the evidence that exists. He refers to tags that have been attached to kangaroos. He says that the decline in the number of kangaroos is striking in New South Wales, and that this has been accompanied by a movement of the trade from New South Wales into Queensland. He also refers to the fact that supplies for some of the chillers still in New South Wales are drawn from South Australia. He concludes with the viewpoint that control measures on an intelligent and proper basis are necessary.
I think that the aspects to which I have referred provoke the thought that Senator Mulvihill has advanced, that this is not a matter that can be dealt with effectively within Slate boundaries because neither the wildlife nor the hunters nor the tradesmen recognise State boundaries. When these people deplete stocks in one State they go to another State. I stand to be corrected by my legal colleagues, but I think that the High Court has extended to wildlife the protection of section 92 of our Constitution. On that I speak with bated breath. But all of this illustrates the point that we have a problem. All but Senator Turnbull will rejoice in the fact that the Government, with the aid of such people on the Opposition side as Senator Poyser, Senator Mulvihill and others, is approaching the question. Perhaps the Government is not moving as quickly as a lot of people would wish but, nevertheless, it is approaching the question very purposefully and with a strong endeavour to see that this country will never bring upon itself the discredit of allowing any of our wildlife species that can be preserved to disappear. We have had, to our discredit, a few such instances, but this happened at a time before the governments of this country realised the great value, from every aspect of life,’ of every species of wildlife, including the kangaroo.
I now refer to a contribution that was made by the Australian Conservation Foundation in February 1970 on the subject of
15360/70- S.- (561
The Conservation of Kangaroos. - Second Thoughts and Suggestions’. It refers to the fact that the populations of red and grey kangaroos have been further and seriously depleted and that kangaroos are of unsurpassed scientific interest. Further on, when referring to the biological situation, it states:
This is the survival of kangaroos in reasonable numbers, but below pest levels - and not as a continually hunted and harried population, when v/e would be unlikely to have the pleasure of seeing them often, and certainly not for long!
That emphasises the point that visitors wish to see these animals. If one goes out to the Tidbinbilla reserve, which 1 had the privilege of doing recently, one sees the utmost friendship that exists between the animals in a proper environment and visitors, lt is a real education in the pleasure which people derive from seeing wildlife. It indicates that perhaps we should promote the establishment of proper habitat for kangaroos, in the form of national parks and reserves. In the earlier article to which I referred, Dr Frith concluded from an experiment which was conducted under proper climatic conditions, that the red kangaroo has a comparatively sedentary nature and will not move beyond a radius of about 30 miles. He said that in drought conditions it moves in a radius of about 120 miles.
– That argument would be valid in the western part of New South Wales if we could get the additional acreage for parks. The point you are making about the red kangaroo not covering an excessive number of miles proves our point when we advocate the provision of additional parks in western New South Wales, against the wishes of certain graziers.
– Yes. I am referring to a few aspects of the matter which I would hope would bring to our attention the actual value of wildlife today to the tourist industry, both interstate and international, which is considered to be worth about $2,000m a year to all those who participate in it. It is not fully realised yet how wildlife in a proper environment such as national parks and reserves, could enhance that business and act as a terriffic magnet to increase it. I point out that the kangaroo is not a diminutive animal. The kangaroo is not like a small bird which can be seen only after minute observation. The male red kangaroo is a comparatively large animal which comes out to graze and which can be seen, if properly nurtured, before dark and again after daylight. 1 think the value of this wildlife from the point of view of its value to the tourist industry has to be emphasised properly. In this article The Conservation of Kangaroos - Second Thoughts and Suggestions’ the Australian Conservation Foundation states:
Any way you look at it, the obvious and urgent need it to cut back the commercial shooting to a traction of its present potential.
The article has regard to the ratio called Winter’s ratio of 1:6.5 which was referred to by Senator Mulvihill. I am not persuaded that any reliance can be placed upon the ratio. People talk about preserving the kangaroo population, but I would rather they spoke of husbanding the kangaroo population because 1 do not think that the present numbers are necessarily the level at which we should be aiming. In areas where the kangaroo becomes a pest of course other interests will require that the pest be harvested down to a level at which it can be reconciled with agricultural and other interests. Where the population is now altogether too sparse, either because of over-harvesting up to date or because of natural drought conditions, we can do a great deal to build up the population in those areas and to make it accessible to scientific interest. By a proper husbanding of the wildlife. I believe the interests of the nation would be satisfied.
I do not want to resume my seat with honourable senators thinking that 1 imply that the States have neglected this matter. Senator Turnbull need not listen lest he attribute a political motive to this. Others who are interested in objective information will be interested to know that steps have been taken. [Quorum formed.] I am obliged to Senator Turnbull who, on one of the few occasions when he is present, has drawn into the Senate a larger audience for me by calling for a quorum. The bells could be rung for a quorum on dozens of occasions and Senator Turnbull would be in one part of the country or another carrying out his own business while most of us are here. I was about to say, New South Wales has made quite a notable contribution towards solving this problem. Anybody who has familiarised himself with the State’s new Act dealing with wildlife conservation, who has met Dr McMichael or who has seen something of the State’s insight into its wildlife service would be quite encouraged to think that the State is on the threshhold of a new beginning. The article of the Australian Conservation Foundation states:
There are 4 cornerstones to the NSW policy:
the licensing of operators and each of their ‘premises’,
granting to each operator the monopoly of harvesting in a specified area,
the issue of official tags, serially numbered, for attachment to carcasses making them legally handable and
the inspection of properties before issuing licences specifying the numbers of kangaroos that can be taken off them.
The Queensland State Government has taken some interest, as recently as December 1969, to limit the number of chiller boxes to 80. The number had risen to 150. It is now down to about 80 to 90. The Queensland Government is adopting some of the policies of New South Wales, including royalties and charges for shooters’ permits and licences, I understand, for buyers and sellers. I mention those matters in the hope that a co-operative effort will be made by both sides of Parliament on a matter on which party policy, I would think, is united completely. We will all take some encouragement from the fact that our counterparts in the States have in recent years improved their wildlife services and their control measures. The Commonwealth has joined in and offered to co-ordinate those efforts and to provide, within its jurisdiction, the proper measures to bring this matter under proper control to ensure that not only will the kangaroo population not be destroyed but that it will be husbanded. With proper measures, I would foresee that it could be husbanded to a degree far above anything that we now envisage.
– I rise to support the motion moved by Senator Mulvihill. I congratulate him for taking this step. There is no doubt that we would not have got as far as we have today in relation to the conservation of the kangaroo and other marsupials if it had not been for the action over many years of Senator Mulvihill in continuing to bring this matter before Parliament. It is a matter now on record that he and he alone carried on this fight for a great number of years until other people, noting the seriousness of the situation, were prepared to join him. It is also on record that on the numerous occasions when Senator Mulvihill has risen to his feet to discuss this subject many of us have treated his remarks a little lightheartedly. However, the light-heartedness was not of people who do not care. The conservation of the kangaroo is a matter of great moment to honourable senators in this chamber. When the history of its conservation is considered in the future I think Senator Mulvihills name will receive high ranking. He is a great fighter in the cause of the conservation of the kangaroo.
This matter is a matter of some urgency. 1 understand that figures were produced in another place which indicate that about I million kangaroos arc being destroyed in Australia each year. They are being killed mostly for commercial purposes. A tremendous number of these animals are being destroyed in the interests of pet food manufacturers and those who manufacture articles from their hides. It seems to me that the kangaroo will be soon extinct if killings of this magnitude continue, it is quite obvious that kangaroos are not around in such great numbers. It is a matter of history that some of our marsupials have become extinct and others are very close to extinction at this point of lime, including the red kangaroo - the big red - which we have heard so much about in the past from Senator Mulvihill. Many years ago he realised the great dangers which exist in relation to the extinction of the kangaroo if killings of this nature are to continue. I support to the hilt any efforts which arc made by the Commonwealth and the States to husband our marsupials, particularly the kangaroo, in order to ensure that no species which is not already extinct becomes extinct and that some of the species which are close to extinction increase in number.
I wish to bring to the attention of the Senate another matter which is associated with the slaughter of the kangaroo for commercial purposes. Not only is conservation of the Kangaroo necessary and vital at this stage, but it is also essential that the Commonwealth and State parliaments take action to stop the inhuman killing of our kangaroos at present. This applies not only to the sportsmen who go out and kill these animals for sport but also to the commercial shooters. Ample evidence has been provided by Mr Quirepel of Mildura and others who have taken a great interest in this matter which proves beyond doubt that not only do the people who kill for sport do so in an inhuman manner but also many of the commercial shooters. We will have to ensure that the inhuman methods which are now used are eradicated. Evidence has been submitted to me, which I accept because of the validity of the person who has submitted it to me, to the effect that many kangaroos are disembowelled whilst still alive by the professional shooters because of their haste to get the next animal to put into their coolers. Joeys are also slaughtered. There is completely indiscriminate slaughtering of the species regardless of whether the kangaroos are male or female and regardless of whether there is a joey in the pouch or at foot.
No sensible person in any kind of commercial undertaking who wants to keep the species going would be a part of this type of indiscriminate killing. The States do not seem to have any real laws to prevent this indiscriminate killing. If there are laws there does not seem to be any policing of them to ensure that the mad method of killing which now exists is stopped. Many inhuman methods of killing meat for commercial purposes are adopted. No-one in his right mind would suggest that the animals which are killed to provide meat for human consumption are killed under the most hygienic conditions. The kangaroos are killed in conditions of cruelty. They are killed far away from the areas in which they are to be processed. A ludicrous situation would exist today if the meat industry were permitted to kill Iambs which are to be processed for the commercial market out in the paddock and then allowed to be thrown into the back of a truck which is covered with dust and dirt. I make these observations because of some other aspects I wish to bring up at a later stage of my speech.
If - and I say ‘if advisedly - there is a necessity to destroy the kangaroo and if there is a necessity to keep up the profits of the commercial interests we will have to have a system of slaughter and a system of processing which will completely obviate the methods which are adopted at present. We can do this very easily. It may be true that in parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory and perhaps the west some problems are being experienced because the kangaroo is a pest. However, this does not excuse the method by which these animals are killed today for commercial purposes. There are many methods whereby kangaroos can be captured and killed in a humane fashion if it is absolutely necessary to do so. For example, a tranquilising dart could be used. These are extensively used in national parks in many countries in the world to treat ill animals. These tranquilisers put an animal out of action for a considerable period of time and they become easy to handle and to treat for an illness or an accident, lt is equally feasible that this system could be adopted in the slaughtering of kangaroos for commercial purposes.
I believe - and 1 am supported by many people in Australia - that there should be a complete and absolute halt at this stage to the legal and illegal killing of these animals because it is quite clear to anybody who has a true appreciation of the situation that this is necessary. I know that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other organisations have done great work in the study of these animals, but a proper assessment has not been made of the number of kangaroos in Australia at present or of the number slaughtered for commercial or sporting purposes. This information is needed in order to assess whether kangaroos will multiply or become extinct by the indiscriminate killing which is going on at present, lt is not a science which we have developed to any great extent. I believe that a complete halt in these operations should take place.
I am not going to stand in my place and use the excuse that we have little power at a Commonwealth level to handle this situation. In fact, we have the power at a Commonwealth level to do what I suggest should be done. We have power under our customs and tariffs legislation to ensure that the meat of kangaroos which are killed for commercial purposes is not exported from Australia in either a tinned or raw form. Under the same legislation we can ensure that none of the articles produced from the hides of these animals is exported from this country. This would result in the depletion to a very great extent of the commercial killing of these animals. The peculiar situation exists in Australia today whereby live kangaroos cannot be exported under any circumstances - it is taboo - but we are at the same time exporting millions and millions of pounds of kangaroo meat. We are also exporting many articles which are produced from their hides. We have this hypocritical situation whereby, on the one hand, live kangaroos cannot be exported from Australia and, on the other, the by-products of the animal can be exported. 1 am permitted to speak for only 15 minutes in this debate. In the short time which I have left 1 wish to point out that I am speaking not only from the point of view of the conservation of kangaroos but also from the point of view of the dangers which are inherent in people in Australis using raw kangaroos meat for pet food. This danger has been clearly established by an article which appeared in the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ on 24th October 1964. I want to quote briefly from this article. 1 will be asking leave of the Senate to incorporate the whole of the article in Hansard. At this stage I wish to quote from the early section of the document:
During the period 1962 io 1964, u number of unusual salmonella were isolated from human sources with increasing frequency in the Salmonella Reference Laboratory, Adelaide. At the same time, it was noted that samples of kangaroo meat submitted for bacteriological screening prior to export were occasionally yielding similar serotypes. The sale of kangaroo meat for pet food in Adelaide shops did not at first, appear to be significant hazard, since legislation provides for the protection of other meat sold for human consumption. In brief, meat nol claimed to be fit for human consumption cannot be sold in a butcher shop unless it is in a sealed package, is marked as pet food and is. effectively coloured with dye. However, the isolation of salmonella from the faeces of 2 cats in houses where gastroenteritis bad occurred suggested another route of transmission, which might implicate pet food as the source of the infection.
This 2 page document goes on to draw certain conclusions. The results of these tests showed:
Of 36 samples submitted for examination 21 yielded salmonella on culture. Sixteen samples produced 1 seretype 4 produced 2 serotypes, and 1 yielded 3 serotypes.
The summary and conclusion of this investigation indicated:
Heavy contamination with numerous salmonella serotypes is recorded and the results are compared with those obtained from kangaroo meat for export.
What has happened, in fact, is that persons who have purchased this kangaroo meat - this is discussed in detail in this report - have placed it in their refrigerators next to the meat they have bought for home consumption. This is one way this disease has been carried through to the family. On other occasions the disease has been transmitted by petting the cats and dogs which have eaten the affected meat. This report indicates quite clearly that the use of raw kangaroo meat is a great danger to the health of the people.
In South Australia there are some rules in relation to the sale of this meat, but to the best of my knowledge in the State of Victoria horse meat and kangaroo meat is sold by pet shops; it is not packaged and not coloured. It is well known that some people on the pretext of purchasing this meat for pet food have been using it for human consumption. This document clearly indicates that kangaroo meat is very dangerous to the health of the community as has been proven by laboratory tests. I think it is absolutely essential that all aspects of this problem should be examined very closely and we, as a Commonwealth, should take all the necessary steps to halt this uncontrolled slaughter The Senate may recall that I placed a question on the notice paper on 3rd March this year relative to the matter which I have just read from the medical journal. It has taken exactly 2½ months for the Minister to tell me that questions 1, 2 and 3 are not within his sphere of responsibility. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard an article which I previously mentioned, and which was published in the Medical Journal of Australia’ of 24th October 1964.
THE ISOLATION OF SALMONELLAE FROM KANGAROO MEAT SOLD AS PET FOOD
Kevin Andersen. M.D. (Lond.) M.R.A.C.P., M.C.P.A., Senior Medical Bacteriologist.
Philip Woodruff. M.D.D.T.M.&.H. F.R.A.C.P., Director-General of Public Health Adelaide.
THE MEDICAL JOURNAL OF AUSTRALIA, OCTOBER 24th 1964
During the period 1962 to 1964, a number of unusual salmonella were isolated from human sources with increasing frequency in the Salmonella Reference Laboratory, Adelaide. At the same time, it was noted that samples of kangaroo meat submitted for bacteriological screening prior to export were occasionally yielding similar serotypes. The sale of kangaroo meat for pet food in Adelaide shops did not at first, appear to be significant hazard, since legislation provides for the protection of other meat sold for human consumption.
In brief, meat not claimed to be fit for human consumption cannot be sold in a butcher’s shop unless it is in a sealed package (packed elsewhere), is marked as pet food and is effectively coloured with dye. However, the isolation of salmonellae from the faeces of two cats in houses where gastro-enteritis had occurred suggested another route of transmission, which might implicate pet food as the source of the infection.
The majority of kangaroo meat is fed raw to domestic animals, after being stored in proximity to other food in domestic refrigerators. It is cut up with knives used in the kitchen, and is handled by both housewives and children. Animals may develop a clinical gastro-enteritis after consuming infected meat, or may merely excrete the organism in their faeces. In either case, infection may spread to other members of the household, and in particular to children, who fondle the animals. It was therefore decided to examine samples of kangaroo meat sold as pet food in a number of city and suburban shops.
Materials and Methods
Thirty-six samples were purchased over a period of two weeks by an inspector of the Department of Public Health, and forwarded to the Salmonella Reference Laboratory in batches of 12 on the day of purchase. Each plastic bag contained one pound of meat, some samples of which were not dyed in accordance with existing legislation. Bags were opened with sterile scissors and a portion of meat was transferred to a sterile jar containing 1 ml. of sterile saline. This was agitated and 0.5 ml. of the washings was added to5 ml. of solenite broth. A further 20 gramme sample was covered with50 ml. of solenite broth and minced with a sterile scalpel blade. These containers were shaken mechanically for three minutes, and all the cultures were incubated at 37 deg. C. for 18 hours. Subcultures were made on to S.S. medium (Difco) and suspicious nonlactosefermenting colonies were subsequently transferred to Kohn’s two-tube medium. Isolutes with suggestive bio-chemical reactions were submitted to full biochemical testing and final identifications by routine serological methods.
Of thirty-six samples submitted for examination twenty-one yielded salmonellae on culture. Sixteen samples produced one seretype, four produced two seretypes, and one yielded three seretypes.
The results were quoted in Table 1.
The number of isolations from kangaroo meat sold as pet food is extremely high, and must be compared with the 13 isolations obtained from 119 samples submitted for testing prior to export in the period 1962 to 1964. Details of these strains are shown in Table 111 Salmonellae isolated from human sources during the same period and which were also found in kangaroo meat, are shown in Table IV. It seems unlikely that the one species of animal would be parasited by such large numbers of salmonellae. The observation that kangaroo meat for export has a much lower incidence of contamination is further evidence in favour of the explanation that the meat is handled more carefully, and requires bacteriological screening before its acceptance overseas. There can be little doubt that kangaroo meat sold as pet food constitutes a serious danger to public health, if the observed degree of salmonellae is allowed to continue.
Summary and Conclusion
Salmonella: - Was first delected by that eminent American Pathologist the late D. E. Salmon. He defined it as:- A large group of micro-organisms, members which arc responsible for many forms of enteris, (e.g. food poisoning, typhoid and para-typhoid fevers. Also hog cholera).
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Cant) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The subject of conservation which is before the Senate this afternoon is one of considerable importance. The Senate is indebted to the honourable senator who brought it forward for discussion. One of the extraordinary manifestations in our contemporary history is the growing concern and the acute alertness of the modern world to the significance of environment. Perhaps that stems from the fact that man today is making greater and greater demands upon the physical resources of the world because of his aspirations to a higher standard of living and a wider distribution of the products of the earth, and his ingenuity in fashioning and fabricating those products to his own use. Therefore we see the application of chemistry in so many fields creating new, synthetic substances and drawing upon the natural endowment of the world to create new and significant additions to man’s use and knowledge. But unfortunately, accompanying this tremendous urge, are the consequences to the deposit of physical resources from which man draws. Not the least of those is the extension of man’s living into the natural areas of the world’s surface with the consequential inpingement upon the fauna and flora over the face of the earth.
From time immemorial this has been done without any particular concern or perhaps any need to be particularly concerned under the stress of imminent necessity, for the preservation of the fauna and flora. As the world population increases at such a great rate and as increasing demands on the physical resources multiply man is growing concerned for the consequences of his own actions. Today the world is not only conscious of contemporary history, it is also conscious of man’s own history and the history of the world. Institutes of learning such as the universities, the technological institutes and institutes which patronise learning in many ways are undertaking examinations of man’s past and for an archaeological examination of the past of the world. This is evidence of an increasing intellectual interest among people for a mastery of the knowledge of why we are here, what our background was, from whence we came, and how this information in turn might be used for the betterment of man in the future, and, if not that, then for the enrichment of his mind and the enrichment of his culture. This is why nations today are growing particularly conscious of their responsibility not only to their own people but to mankind in general to protect, preserve and cherish the natural deposits which are their immediate responsibility within the physical confines of the national boundaries.
In this regard Australia stands in a rather peculiar and privileged position. It is conceded that Australia is an extraordinarily old land and its fauna and flora very often are species which do not appear anywhere else. The species have all the evidence of archaeological age. Australian investigation and research is in a position to make a particular, specialised and most significant contribution to the wealth of man’s knowledge. Perhaps while all other nations have this responsibility we, in this remote continent in the southern seas, have a particular concern which I am pleased the nation is manifesting. In the past this has been due in a large measure to interested people and to enthusiasts who individually or in small groups or through institutions which they have created have gone about the protection of one or another item of Australia’s spread of flora and fauna. I know the tendency today is to concentrate, in the realm of protection of our national endowment of fauna, on the kangaroo, that unique species with which Australia and the Australian image is now internationally inseparably associated. It would be a tragedy if the demands of commerce or anything else should result in the destruction and the elimination of this precious, unique and ancient species and deny it to future generations in this world.
To a large measure the national alertness to this problem has been the consequence of the interest of particular groups and particular people such as the honourable senator who moved this resolution today. Of course, always in this situation there is the conflict between the economic necessity which drives people on and the consequences of the resultant activity to that fauna and flora which are going to be used. The situation of the red kangaroo or the grey kangaroo, or the whole species, is no exception. First of all, it is necessary in this country that we have vast expanses of pasturage for the type of husbandry in which we engage, to feed the great flocks of sheep and the great herds of cattle. In areas that have not a high carrying capacity, they require vast spreads of land which must be normally available to them. Because of the nature of that country these Australian marsupials choose to live and have lived there immemorially, but in increasing numbers they are likely to deny to the people wanting to develop this country and draw their sustenance and living from it the opportunity to farm and culture that land in the proper way. Then this conflict arises between our responsibility to preserve these marsupials for the future and our responsibility to command the natural resources of our country in the interests of this generation and for the development of the nation, and this is a conflict not easy to resolve.
Of course, the present alertness to the endangered position of the kangaroo is a manifestation of a wider problem which includes the threat to other species and particularly to our great areas of flora, to our timber resources and things of that nature. If we abandon these things and these concerns we may be able to live in some physical sense and in some mechanical sense more adequately and more comfortably with all of the modern technological aids, but life will bc robbed of something. Not only will the individual life of the Australian, his physical life and his opportunity for resort to country areas to see life as it was years and years ago be deprived but the world will be robbed of the intellectual pleasure and the cultural heritage which are its right. Therefore there are these great problems to be resolved, not only in Australia but in the modern world. I did not have the opportunity to hear the contribution of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to this debate because I had to be out of the Senate for a few moments but I understand that he has informed the Senate that a conference is to take place in Darwin between the flora and fauna conservation authorities and from that it would be expected and would bc hoped there may be a consortium of appropriate Ministers from the States with the Commonwealth which might embark upon a unified national approach to this problem. The one thing that possibly is absent at the moment when we come to consider this is not the enthusiasm of Senator Mulvihill or the concern of us individually here, or the concern of many people in other places. It is the absence of established fact and reliable information as to how far the depredation has gone, how one can reconcile these differences to which I have adverted and, how the co-operation of all interested units and all responsible units can be commanded, commandeered and amalgamated so that the problem can be handled. I think therefore that the debate is salutary.
The problem is great and it is attracting a new urgency. The national concern now has a sense of urgency about it also. In the course of some deliberations we have had and in the course of some investigations that have been made in another area of Senate activity over the past 12 months I have been comforted by the manifestation in the Australian society of what I call the voluntary organisation. These are not merely people who are driven by enthusiasm but people who are equipped technically and in scientific areas and who lend this scientific training in a voluntary way to the preservation and the identification of fauna and flora and the exotics in this country. Therefore we have a tremendous amount not only of goodwill and enthusiasm but also of actual knowledge and a high level of skill ready to be commanded and merely looking for a lead.
If the enthusiasm that is now apparent in this country and throughout the world for the preservation and conservation of national and international environments is mobilised, if there is the necessary exchange of technical skills from one country to another, and if that is mobilised in this country by the interest of the Commonwealth in co-operation with the States to create legislation ultimately - whether in the form suggested by Senator Mulvihill, by the passage of an appropriate Act of this legislature, or by parallel legislation in this legislature and in the State Parliaments, or in some other way - then Australia will be taking her place in this new army of international enthusiasts for the preservation of the national and the international environment. Man does not live by bread alone and the natural resources of this globe are limited. They may be used and re-used but we must ultimately live within them. The natural endowment is limited and cannot be expanded, particularly those living creatures and living plants. They cannot be replaced. In the absence of these things, if I may use the words of the English philosopher Hobbes which have been used in another context, life could become short, nasty, brutish and poor. That could be the prospect in a totally mechanised and devitalised society in which we have been the architects of the annihilation of so much that is beautiful, so much that is valuable, so much that solaces man’s mind and spirit in the material world in which he lives. Therefore I commend the development of this debate and 1 commend to the Minister the principles embodied in the resolution.
Senator GEORGES (Queensland) 14.42] - Once again it has been necessary to attract by an urgency motion the attention of the Senate to a problem which faces this nation. One begins to wonder when will the need cease for urgent matters to be raised. One could perhaps say: Not until such time as there is a change of government, because in the period in which this Liberal-Country Party coalition has held power in this country federally and in the States the problems of the nation have increased and the neglect of those matters which are of national concern has increased. In the field of conservation we have a subject which is the concern of all, as has become evident in debates here, because there has been unanimity on the part of those who represent each of the parties in this place that something must bc done about conservation especially as far as our fauna is concerned. One wonders whether one ought to be somewhat afraid of this unanimity - afraid that because we all agree nothing will be done, because there is so much acceptance of the proposition that something ought to be done that in effect little will be done. The case for a national commission on conservation has been established here. The case for cooperation by the States to protect our environment and to protect the lives of our marsupials has been established here. The case for federal initiative in this field has been established and this is the purpose of this urgency motion initiated by Senator Mulvihill, who has on so many occasions attracted the attention of the Senate to this concern that the kangaroo is in danger of extinction. 1 recall the time when it was impossible to travel throughout Queensland without being constantly aware that kangaroos and other natural fauna existed in quantity, lt was evident. Sometimes it was dangerously evident. Sometimes it was necessary to place a protector on the front of your vehicle, especially at night, so that you did not suffer damage by collision with kangaroos on the road. Twelve months ago 1 had occasion to travel 6,000 miles throughout Queensland, to the north, into the middle west and back to Brisbane. On not one occasion did a kangaroo cross my path until I came back to the suburb of Bunynville when a grey kangaroo hopped across the road in front of me. Some years ago that would not have happened. The slaughter that has continued over past years in Queensland requires some corrective action. 1 shall read to the Senate from the editorial which appeared in the ‘Courier Mail’ on 23rd April 1970. It is headed Killing Kangaroos’ and states:
The interest of members of the Commonwealth Parliament in the conservation of kangaroos is commendable, but it is a matter for which Stale governments have the responsibility.
The killing of kangaroos is particularly a problem which concerns Queensland, for this State has by far the largest kangaroo population, at least of the eastern States, and, until this year, had few conservation controls.
A result of this was that when, more than a year ago, the New South Wales Government introduced a controlled harvesting scheme and divided the State into 17 management zones allotted to selective shooters, teams of southern shooters moved into Queensland.
Concerned at this position the State Government increased the royalties payable on kangaroos and reduced the number of licensed chillers, lt was hoped that this would at least limit the slaughter of kangaroos.
The editorial finishes with a question:
But has it?
It has not. The intention was good but the application did not go quite far enough. The limitation on the number of chillers meant that they were to be placed SO miles apart. There was no licensing arrangement so far as the shooters were concerned. In an endeavour to gain the greatest advantage out of the situation the shooters killed at will knowing that the specified distance of 50 miles was not enough. Shooters serving a chiller50 miles away would invade their territory. So the slaughter went on unabated and without care or consideration, humanely, economically or otherwise.
The approach to this economic or commercial exploitation of the kangaroo for meat parallels our approach to the exploitation of every other natural resource, whether it be prawns in the Gulf, crayfish in the north or fish on the continental shelf. The uncontrolled exploitation goes on and without Government control, supervision or action the private individual, the commercial exploiter, naturally must follow his own desire which is to get the most out of it that he can before the industry is destroyed. In this industry we face a double loss, not only the commercial benefits of the industry but also the value of this particular kind of fauna for other reasons. It is a direct destruction of our environment.
We have set up committees to investigate the problems of air pollution and water pollution. We have set up a committee to investigate the level of aircraft noise. We have set up all sorts of committees to investigate the attack upon our environment. But those are ad hoc arrangements. They are arrangements which should he brought under the control of a single commission, either an environmental council or a national conservation commission. It cannot be left to the States. The Commonwealth Government must take the initiative and, as this urgency motion suggests, in cooperation with the States set up a national programme of conservation which will include the protection of kangaroos as particularly specified in the motion.
The destruction of the kangaroo has become of interest internationally. Only recently, on 29th March 1970, the ‘New York Times’ carried the banner headline Australia: The Kangaroo is in Danger’. The article which follows describes and documents the slaughter and the devastation of the kangaroo population throughout Australia. So it will be seen that the matter of conservation is of concern not only to us in Australia but also internationally. We must accept fully the responsibility which goes with the fact that our flora and fauna are unique. Because they are unique a heavy responsibility is placed upon us to protect them.
On humanitarian grounds the case against this indiscriminate slaughter of the kangaroo is such that it should attract the attention of everyone. To me it brings the thought to mind that if we treat with kindness those dumb animals which are in our protection and if we raise the concern of the legislators and the people in general to the necessity to protect from harm this area of life, perhaps there is a chance that we may transfer some of that humanity to mankind itself in the more troubled parts of the world.
Senator LAWRIE (Queensland) 1.4.54]- I shall confine my remarks in the debate on this urgency motion mainly to the position in Queensland because 1 am not fully aware of the laws in other States of Australia. In Queensland there is no closed season on kangaroos and no restriction on shooting. The Queensland Government claims ownership of all native fauna on behalf of the Crown and usually charges royalty on skins or other produce of that fauna. Private ownership of any of our native animals is not allowed in Queensland.I should like to point out also that the Commonwealth Government has no power over our native animals. That is not mentioned in the Constitution in any form. The only power that the Commonwealth Government has is in relation to trade over the border between the States in kangaroo meal and skins and in the export of those commodities.
As the control of kangaroos conies within the jurisdiction of the State, border hopping becomes a serious business. Kangaroos could become a pest in one State and before action could be taken to reduce their numbers they could take advantage of section 92 of the Constitution and hop the border. The first complete description of the kangaroos in Australia was made by Captain Cook and the officers of his expedition.
The description that they gave and took back to England was put away in the archives of that country. But when the First Fleet arrived 18 years later Cook’s description did not fit any of the animals that were found in the area around Sydney or, as exploration extended, in any locality to which the European settlers went. It was generally believed at that time that Cook and his officers had made a big blue in this connection. lt was not until 60 or 80 years later, when European settlement spread to the area around Cooktown and the other northern parts of Australia, that the settlers found the animal that Cook had described - the unique kangaroo that lived in the far north of Australia. It is very unlike the grey and red kangaroos that we know in the vast areas of Australia. Apparently Cook’s description was very accurate in respect of the animals of Cooktown but did not fit the others. Evidence is available that in the pre-European days the kangaroo population varied with the seasons from great numbers in good seasons to great mortality in droughts. The early Aboriginals hunted kangaroos for food. They had a habit of using fires or shutting off the water to kill large numbers of kangaroos. Even in those days this caused the unnecessary death of many kangaroos.
Another interesting point is that the early explorers of the western plains country and the inland areas of eastern Australia made no mention of seeing any great numbers of kangaroos in those areas. But, with the coming of European settlement in those areas and the provision of many watering points, windmills, bores and flowing bore drains, the kangaroo population on the western plains and downs country built up greatly. There have probably been more kangaroos in some of those inland a reus in recent years than there were in preEuropean settlement days.
Despite what has been said to the contrary, a kangaroo does eat and damage more grass than does a sheep, and the uncontrolled expansion of kangaroo numbers could seriously damage the pastoral industry. But I want to make this clear: I agree that there is a necessity for protection, although not a complete blanket protection. If some sort of co-operation can be achieved between the Federal and State authorities for fauna protection on a national basis, subject to that type of fauna not becoming a pest, then I am all for it and will support it.
There is great variation in the numbers of kangaroos in our country, due to economic conditions, shooters and the value of the skins and meat of the animal. High prices for skins and some slackening of employment cause many more shooters to operate; whereas full employment and low prices for skins mean less destruction of kangaroos. This has been the position for as long as I can remember.
– I missed the last part of what you said. Would you mind repeating it?
– Let me put it this way: Full employment in the community - that includes potential shooters - and low prices for skins and kangaroo meat mean a build-up of kangaroo numbers because they are not being shot in the same quantities. On the other hand, high prices for skins and kangaroo meat and a slackening of employment drive more people out to shoot kangaroos and consequently there is greater destruction. It goes from period to period in cycles. I think the honourable senator will agree with that if he has had any experience of the inland areas.
Despite the shooting that has gone on for many years, there has been no apparent diminution in the number of kangaroos. There has been a greater use of kangaroo meat as pet food in recent years. We know that that use has increased quite considerably. There were exports to some areas for a while, until the Commonwealth Government rightly stepped in and banned the export of kangaroo meat because we had no control over what use was made of it in other places and it did not come up to Australian meat export standards. I agree wholeheartedly with that action.
One speaker has said that there is an apparent drop in the number of kangaroos in some areas at present because they have been shot in large numbers in recent years. But I do not think enough notice has been taken of the drought conditions which have existed for so long, particularly in Queensland. As I have already said, this has been the position over a number of years. The kangaroo population has built up naturally in the good seasons - even before European settlement - and the kangaroos have died out in great numbers in dry seasons. 1 believe that that probably accounts for the apparent shortage of kangaroos in the inland areas of Queensland today. 1 would not like to say that the apparent shortage is completely due to that factor, but I believe that much of it is due to that factor.
There have been many car accidents involving kangaroos. Reference has already been made to armour plate protection on the bumper bars of cars. I think Senator Georges referred to that. One insurance company had so many claims in respect of cars hitting kangaroos that it sent one of its inspectors to investigate the position in the western areas. Of course, the inevitable happened: The inspector crashed, too. That was conclusive evidence of what the story was there. Senator Wright mentioned that kangaroos have a magnetic attraction for tourists. I hope that this story about a tourist will not apply to everybody: An overseas tourist’s car hit a kangaroo and stunned him. The tourist wanted a photograph. So, as the kangaroo was sitting up - he was still stunned - the tourist took off his highly coloured coat, put it on the kangaroo and took the photograph. But, just as he was going to take the coat off again, the kangaroo hopped away - and he is still hopping with that coat on and with $100 of the tourist’s money in the pocket. I hope that all tourists will not have that experience.
As I have mentioned, I support some form of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States, if it can be arranged, for the control of our national heritage type of animals on a national basis. We need co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States because, after all, the States are sovereign States and control their own areas. The Commonwealth has a big area to control in the Northern Territory. So it comes into this matter in quite a big way. That is my position on this urgency motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I have to inform honourable senators that the Government has made certain decisions regarding the siring of important buildings within the parliamentary triangle. Following consideration of proposals presented by the National Capital Development Commission, Cabinet has approved the siting of the High Court and the National Art Gallery in the north-eastern sector of the parliamentary triangle, that is in the area between the Administrative Building and the lakeside. In making this decision, the Government is satisfied that these two buildings have a status befitting this location within the triangle and that they would appropriately flank the open areas between the Parliament House and the lakeside.
As a result of this decision, design studies will be put in hand for the National Art Gallery, which as honourable senators will be aware, has already been the subject of an architectural design competition. Preliminary planning will also proceed in respect of the High Court building. The timing of construction will be considered by the Government at a later stage.
Developmental Works at Melbourne Airport
– I move:
The work includes construction of freight aprons and associated taxiways; taxiway development; fillet widening for Boeing 747 operations; extension of the north-south runway to 12,000 feet; additional roads and car parks; and extensions to the electrical power supply. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $17. 3m. I table the plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Tactical Trainer Building at HMAS Watson,’ South Head, New South Wales
Motion (by Senator Wright) agreed to:
That Government Business, Notice of Motion
No. 2, be postponed until Thursday, 21 May
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Wright) proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– Standing order 429 provides:
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the President, such objection must be taken at once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed to the Senate, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to the next sitting day, unless the Senate decides on motion, without debate, that the question requires immediate determination.
Mr President, a few days ago I challenged a ruling you gave concerning a debate on a matter of urgency. It was moved that the matter was required to be determined immediately. That motion was defeated and the motion of dissent then became the subject of an order of the day for the next day of sitting. The substance of the motion that has just been moved by Senator Wright is to suspend standing order 429, which I have just quoted.
– But only for a limited purpose.
– But I wish to remind you, Mr President, that your ruling as President of the Senate is under challenge. I find that the Senate, unlike any other body of which I am aware when placed in a similar position, continues with business as usual. This happened all day yesterday following a similar motion moved by Senator Anderson to suspend so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent a Bill being dealt with without delay. A full day’s debate ensued. It is stated at page 172 of ‘Australian Senate Practice’ by Mr Odgers:
When objection is taken to the ruling of the President and no order is made that the question requires immediate determination, the well established practice of the Senate is for the order for the consideration of the motion for dissent from the ruling to be placed first on the notice paper for the next sitting day as an order of the day.
Mr Odgers then referred to precedents in the Journals. On the notice paper the ruling of the President objected to appeared first on the printed paper. But we have also to consider the roneoed sheet. I understand that this is issued as a convenient means of advice of the formal business that will be conducted by the Senate. On that sheet the dissent from your ruling, Mr President, is listed as item No. 10, not No. 1. I now draw the attention of honourable senators to standing order 66, which provides:
The Senate shall, unless otherwise ordered, proceed each day with its ordinary business, in the following routine: 1. Presentation of petitions. 2. Giving notices, and questions without notice. 3. Questions on notice. 4. Formal motions. 5. Postponement of business. 6 Motions and orders of the day . . .
I do not know whether we should look to the roneoed sheet or to the printed sheet, but in any event, there is no reference in standing order 66 to messages before the Chair. Neither is there reference to the bringing on of Bills for debate at the first or second reading stage prior to dealing with a motion of dissent from a ruling of the President. I am aware that a practice has grown up in the Senate under standing order 337, which states:
Every Message from the House of Representatives shall be received, if the Senate is sitting, at the Bar by a Clerk at the Table, and, if the Senate is not sitting, by the Clerk of the Senate, and shall be reported by the President as . early as convenient, and a future time named for its consideration; or it may by leave be dealt with at once.
The practice which has grown up has been to use this standing order for the purpose of introducing Bills prior to some other matter being dealt with. But there is a dissent motion on the business paper and if the Standing Orders are suspended, as proposed by Senator Wright, then the standing order that gives the motion for dissent from your ruling precedence over other than formal matters does not apply and the motion for dissent cannot be brought on. Therefore I oppose the suspension of Standing Orders on this occasion.
– I want to make it abundantly clear that what is being done on this occasion is quite the normal procedure, as has been indicated by Senator Cant himself. It has always been a practice, for the convenience of the Senate and particularly for the convenience of the Opposition, to put messages down. Except in the odd circumstances where there is a debate on the first reading of an appropriation Bill the message is put down, the Opposition takes the adjournment and then we go on with the business. I want to make it abundantly clear that what has been done so far has not departed from what has been done in the past and the intention is to bring on the motion relating to the dissent from the Presiding Officer’s ruling as soon as we get these Bills on the notice paper, which will be more or less a formal procedure. In case Senator Cant feels that there is any suggestion of delay in bringing on the motion I should like to make it clear that I hope that we will be in a position, before the suspension of the sitting, to bring on this item which appears on the business paper as Order of the Day - ruling of the President.
– What does getting a Bill on the business paper entail? To what stage?
– It simply means that you take the second reading and that the Opposition then takes the adjournment. This has always been the practiceand clearly it has been done for the convenience of the Senate. Otherwiseitremains on the table until aMinisterputs it onto the business paperinwhich case the Opposition would not necessarily be aware that the measure had arrived. As to what happened yesterday, I am the first to acknowledge that we did get a little off line because some of the Bills put down were Appropriation Bills in relation to which some honourable senators exercised their right to speak on the first reading.
– We proceeded to debate a Bill yesterday.
– Those measures are adjourned. I suggest that the honourable senator should allow us to get this onto the business paper. 1 should like him to understand clearly that we intend to bring on the motion for dissent from the ruling as soon as we have put these Bills on the business paper.
That the motion (Senator Wright’s) be agreed to.
– No. I express my dissent.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Senator Wright and read a first lime.
– I move:
The object of this Bill is to bring about progressively the use of the metric system of measurement in Australia as the sole system of measurement of physical quantities, and to this end to establish a metric conversion board which will be responsible for facilitating and planning the conversion from the imperial system of measurement to the metric system of measurement. A public announcement of the Government’s intention that Australia would convert to the metric system of measurement as soon as possible was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 19th January 1970. The Government’s decision was taken having regard to extensive inquiries throughout the community made by the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures and on the advice of Commonwealth departments.
Honourable senators will recall that the Senate Select Committee was appointed in April 1967, under the chairmanship of the late Senator K. A. Laught, to inquire into and determine the practicability of the early adoption by Australia of the metric system of weights and measures. The Senate Select Committee made extensive inquiries and took evidence very widely. It held meetings in all capital cities, evidence was heard from 141 witnesses, and in addition written submission were received from 54 persons and organisations. The report of the Senate Select Committee was presented in this chamber in May 1968. Its contents were debated and the report noted by the Senate on 27th August 1968. The Senate Select Committee reported:
Following a full inquiry and a thorough examination of the evidence and other matter placed before it the Committee is of the unanimous opinion that it is practicable and desirable for Australia to adopt the metric system of weights and measures at an early date and recommends accordingly.
Submissions to the Committee from individual citizens, Commonwealth Ministers and departments, State governments and departments, Commonwealth and State instrumentalities, and organisations, overwhelmingly supported an early change to the sole use of the metric system and clearly indicated that therewould be no insuperable difficulties in effecting such a change.
The Government believes that the whole community will, in the long-run, benefit from conversion. It should enhance our ability to export; increase efficiency in operations involving weighing and measuring; simplify and unify the teaching of mathematics and science; and provide an opportunity to rationalise and modernise industrial practices and reduce diversification in manufactured products.
Conversion will, of course, have its problems, some of which may be considerable, but these should relate solely to the period of transition and should disappear once conversion has been completed. There will be a need in the course of conversion for training in and familiarisation with the metric system. In-service training arrangements will be required in industry, for school teachers, and in many others areas, and there will have to be programmes for education of the public. Some wastage, inefficiency, double stocking of goods and accelerated obsolescence of equipment will inevitably occur during conversion, but these transitional problems can be greatly reduced by careful planning.
In some sectors it will be necessary to permit the use of non-metric units for an extended period, perhaps even indefinitely. Such might be the case where international standards apply, as, for example, in civil aviation. No meaningful estimates have been made of the costs and benefits which will result from the adoption of the metric system, but the Government is in no doubt that the ultimate benefits will greatly exceed the costs of conversion which in many cases also can be considerably reduced by forethought and careful planning. The adoption of an overall conversion period of about 10 years will allow advantage to be taken in many sectors of natural obsolescence and depreciation.
In the light of these considerations it is intended that, in general, the costs of conversion should, as for instance in the United Kingdom, lie where they fall. There may be special circumstances in which some compensation might be paid, and the Government will be prepared to consider these on the recommendation of the Metric Conversion Board.
The Government’s decision to convert to the metric system has been taken against the background of a world-wide movement towards the use of that system. Over 90% of the world’s population lives in countries using the metric system, and countries which in recent times have either launched conversion programmes or announced their intention to convert to its use include the United Kingdom, South Africa, Pakistan, Eire, New Zealand and Canada. The only major country which has not declared itself on this issue is the United States of America, and there an official study regarding increased metric utilisation is in progress. The system to which the countries mentioned are converting is that known as the International System of Units - ‘S.I.’ as it is commonly known - which is defined and controlled by international agreement already accepted in Australia. It will be S.I. units, at least predominantly, to which Australia will change. The metric system of measurement is not new to Australia. The Weights and Measures (National Standards) Regulations 1961 made metric units legal in addition to the customary units based on the foot, the pound and the gallon, and metric units are already in wide use in Australia in, for instance, pharmacy, electronics, the chemical and photographic industries, national mapping and, of course, in education.
Unlike decimal currency conversion, metric conversion will extend over a number of years with no single ‘M’ day. For the different sectors of industry, of commerce and of education it will actively commence at different times and proceed at different rates. This will necessitate the adoption of an overall programme and the co-ordination of the programme for the individual sectors. The Bill provides for a Metric Conversion Board which will be required, inter alia, to advise regarding the conversion programmes and generally to plan, guide and facilitate their implementation. It is intended that this should be on the basis of full and detailed discussion with interested parties in the various sectors. The aim will be to effect conversion as a whole to the best advantage of the community, and it is expected the Board will make extensive use of advisory committees, each concerned with conversion in a particular sector of the community. As already indicated, the Board will be required to investigate and report to the Minister for Education and Science on any special circumstances in which the payment of compensation may be appropriate, lt will also be required to advise on the need for legislation to give effect to conversion, to report attempts to take unfair advantage of the public in the course of conversion, and to perform various other functions appropriate to conversion, lt is not, in general, the Government’s intention to tie the composition of the Board to representation of specific interests - for it would be impossible to represent on one Board all the major interests concerned with metric conversion - but it will be the aim of the Government to appoint to the Board those it considers best able, by virtue of experience and ability, to contribute to its work and to assist in the activities of its committees. The keynote of the Board’s activities will be full and detailed consultation with interests in each sector prior to and throughout conversion.
This Bill is the first of a number of legislative and administrative steps which will be needed to facilitate and encourage orderly and efficient conversion to the metric system, lt is stressed, however, that conversion cannot be implemented by such actions, for this must be effected in the main by detailed planning and action at ali levels and in the places where changes will need to be made, and this means throughout the whole community. The Government is convinced that conversion is nol only in the best interests of the community but that there is overwhelming support for the change. Many organisations, establishments and individuals have indicated their keenness to get on with conversion in relation to their own activities as speedily as possible. The Government will do all in its power to help and guide them in doing this and looks forward with confidence to co-operation in all sectors and at all levels of the community in bringing the change about with the minimum of difficulty and inconvenience. lt is hoped that all those concerned with the change will start thinking soon, if they are not already doing so, about how they will implement it. However, they should not act so precipitately as to compromise the actions of others. State governments will, of course, be involved in conversion in many and various ways, and a meeting has already been held with representative Ministers to discuss the bases for mutual co-operation. I believe the decision to convert to the metric system of measurement constitutes an important step forward in Australia’s development. It has been taken in the firm belief that the longterm benefits that will accrue to the nation will greatly outweigh any disadvantages that may be suffered during the period of transition. 1 should like to take the opportunity to add a tribute which 1 feel should be paid to the late Senator Laught, who chaired the Committee that was responsible for recommending this measure with untiring effort and great distinction. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poyser) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[5.33] - 1 move:
Thai the Bill be now read a second lime.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate $221,757,000 for certain expenditures to carry on the necessary services of the Government for the first 5 months of 1970-71. The total amount sought comprises:
The amount for capital works and services is required in general for the orderly continuation of works programmes, but includes a $5m repayable advance to the Papua and New Guinea Administration for construction of the township at Arawa in connection with the Bougainville copper project. The amount of $20m is sought to enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[5.35] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr President, on 26th September last year, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to provide a loan of up to $80m to the Queensland Government to help the State finance the construction of a proposed large scale power station at Gladstone in central Queensland which would provide low cost power and, through it, attract a viable export-oriented industrial complex to central Queensland. The offer was conditional on the State being able to satisfy the Commonwealth that it could attract such special industrial development to the region. Since that announcement, negotiations have progressed between the State and organisations likely to establish industries in the central Queensland region, and also between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth. The result of these negotiations is that the Queensland Government has satisfied the Commonwealth that major export oriented industries are likely to be attracted to central Queensland through the provision of the low-cost power; and the Commonwealth and Queensland governments have reached agreement on the terms and conditions of a Commonwealth loan to the State to assist with the necessary works. On 8th April, an agreement between the 2 governments was signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland. The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the Senate for the agreement to come into effect, and for the provision of the financial assistance specified in the agreement.
The estimated cost of the proposed power station together with local reticulation at Gladstone, at 1968 prices, is$1 55m. It will have an approximate total installed generating capacity of 1,100 megawatts, of which about 600 megawatts will be reserved by the State for special industrial purposes in central Queensland. For the purpose of the agreement, the Queensland Government shall produce evidence satisfactory to the Minister for National Development that the State has entered into or proposes to enter into agreements, arrangements and options for the consumption of electrical power by industrial organisations which will export a substantial proportion of their products or which will produce goods of a kind whichwill be supplied to industries producing goods predominantly for export.
As in other similar arrangements, provision is made in the agreement for the approval by the Minister for National Development of the letting of major contracts - in this instance those for the performance of works to a value in excess of $1m. The actual amount of the Commonwealth financial assistance will depend on the cost of construction of the power station and local reticulation. The agreement provides for a variation in the amount of financial assistance above or below$80m according to any variation which occurs in the total cost above or below$1 55m. Thus the amount of financial assistance may be expressed arithmetically as 80/ 1 55ths of the total cost of the project. Commonwealth financial assistance will be available towards expenditure by the State on the project during the period commencing on the date of the Prime Minister’s announcement, 26th September 1969, and ending on 30th June 1977. The assistance will be in the form of an interest bearing loan repayable over a period of 30 years commencing when the power station is completed. The loan will carry interest at the rate of 6.4% per annum to accrue and to be capitalised during the construction of the project. There is, however, provision for the State to make payments of interest, instead of allowing the interest to be capitalised, once integral components of the station are commissioned and producing power. There is also provision for interest charges not to be payable during the early stages of construction of the project, thus reducing the overall interest cost to somewhat below 6.4%.
Honourable senators no doubt will be interested in an outline of the background to this important project. Prior to its consideration of a major power station at
Gladstone, the State had already envisaged the construction of a thermal power station in the region as part of its programme for a general expansion to meet normal growth in the demand for electricity. The initial planning involved inter-connection of the supply networks located in southern and central Queensland. A number of studies of the prospects for development of central Queensland, including a study by the Department of National Development in conjunction with the State Department of Industrial Development, have pointed to the imposing array of natural resources which exist in the region. These resources have been shown to be outstanding in both variety and magnitude, yet still relatively under-developed. The official studies and various industry inquiries have indicated that these resources could well be a base for the establishment of large scale export oriented industries.
In saying this, it should be remembered too that impressive developments have already been taking place in the region. For example, large coal mining and export operations have become established, the ports of Gladstone and Port Alma have been considerably developed, and a large scale alumina project established at Gladstone is entering a further major expansionary stage. The region possesses very large resources of steaming coal, considerable quantities of which are mined and produced together with coking coal by companies principally engaged in the production and export of coking coal. This steaming coal will be regularly available to the State at low cost.
Against this background of resources and potential the Premier of Queensland in September 1968 raised with the Prime Minister the possibility of the Commonwealth assisting the State with capital in order that a power station could be built at Gladstone to provide the high load factor and low cost supply required to attract major export-oriented industries to central Queensland. At that time negotiations had commenced between Queensland Ministers and officials and several companies interested in major industrial development in the region. Since then the proposals put forward by the Queensland Government have been closely examined by the Commonwealth. I would mention that, in the course of these investigations, the Snowy
Mountains Authority was engaged as a consultant. The Commonwealth, as a result of these investigations, is greatly impressed with the potential of the power station project, both for attracting major industries to central Queensland and for bringing about a substantial lift in exports.
Naturally the negotiations between the Queensland Government and the companies concerned are confidential. I can say that the Commonwealth is satisfied from the evidence presented to it that major export oriented industries will be establishing in central Queensland. In fact, the Government believes, as the Governor-General said in his speech on 3rd March, that the power station will result in the construction of an aluminium smelter, possibly the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, and in other industrial development. The Government is confident, along with the Queensland Government, that the power station will attract a major chemical industry using the extensive salt resources in the area and high hopes are held that operations in this field may commence in 2 or 3 years time. There is indeed a whole range of industries which could be attracted to central Queensland by the power station. To the best of my knowledge these have not been brought to finality, but it is fully expected that that will happen. The Government believes that its support of this project, besides encouraging new industrial development and a lift in exports, will prove to be a concrete example of decentralisation.
There is one further matter which [ should bring to the attention of honourable senators. The Queensland Government has also asked that the Commonwealth give consideration to further financial assistance at a later date should the demand for power from the special export oriented industries to be established in the region increase to such a pronounced degree that further enlargement of the power station would then be required. While the Government cannot at this stage give any commitment in relation to decisions that will have to be taken by a future government in the circumstances existing then, the Government has informed the Queensland Government that the Commonwealth would approach the matter sympathetically when it arrives. 1 would like to give to the Senate an example of the kind of development to which this project might lead. If the aluminium smelter to which 1 have referred should be established in this region it is likely that at its first stage of production it could be producing 240,000 tons of aluminium a year at a value on present day prices of about $126m. At a later stage, should all go well, it could be producing 320,000 tons of aluminium at an export value of $165m. The taxation revenue alone from such a development, should it come to fruition, would make this indeed a proper business proposition. But this is not only a business proposition. It is, as I have said, a concrete example of decentralisation and it may well prove to be the greatest step yet taken to awaken in that area of Queensland - a State which has been called a sleeping giant’ - really significant industrial development, a real increase in population, a real benefit to the State and, through its exports, a real benefit to the nation. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Georges) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[5.45] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill proposes several amendments to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act 1956-1966. The first of theseand one which was announced in October last year - will give to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation an important broadening of its authority by enabling it to offer payments insurance on, and guarantees relating to, exports from Australia to the external Territories of the Commonwealth. The other amendments of major substance will authorise an increase of $100m in the maximum contingent liability which EPIC may accept under contracts of payments insurance and under guarantees; and an increase of $60m in the maximum contingent liability which EPIC may accept under contracts of insurance on Australian investments abroad.
The first of the amendments relates to the extension of EPIC’s facilities to Australian exports to the external Territories. In actual fact, such an extension of EPIC facilities would have no practical significance for exports to Australian territories other than Papua and New Guinea. The customs tariff applicable to imports into Papua and New Guinea accords no preference to Australian products. In the competitive sense, therefore, exporting to Papua and New Guinea is no different for Australian exporters than selling to a foreign country. They face the full force of international competition, as to both price and credit terms, and what is more they have to compete with overseas suppliers who enjoy all the facilities and backing of credit insurance organisations in their own countries.
Hitherto, this disability has not had serious practical effects on our exports to Papua and New Guinea because these have comprised mainly products sold for cash or on very short term credit. Recent important developments in Papua and New Guinea, however, have opened up very substantial export opportunities with characteristics new to Australian trade with the Territory. These opportunities largely revolve around the huge $300m copper mining project on Bougainville. Developers of large projects like this do not normally obtain their requirements of infrastructure development, housing and heavy capital equipment on a cash basis or on short term credit. The payment period for these bigvalue items normally extends for periods in excess of 5 years and, in the case of Bougainville, the credit term for much of the purchases will be considerably more than 5 years.
Last year Australian industry put it to the Government that, over a large area of Bougainville requirements, they felt themselves well able to meet international competition in respect of price, quality and performance. However, they pointed out that without the availability of long term finance they would be at an extreme disadvantage in bidding for Bougainville business, because they would be unable to match their overseas competitors’ offers of credit.
Moreover, they demonstrated that, unless the credit standing of companies seeking Bougainville contracts were strengthened in some way, they would either not secure the finance they needed or, if they did obtain it and successfully tendered for a Bougainville contract, they would find their fundraising capacity for future business, at home or abroad, seriously inhibited for a long period. That was the position of industry.
The banking system moved as far as possible within its capacity to help meet the problem. The banks agreed, in principle, to make the finance available - and the Australian Banks’ Export Re-Finance Corporation acted with remarkable speed to amend its charter to enable it to refinance loans on exports to the external Territories. However, the banks, too, had noted the problems which companies faced in raising sufficient security for loans. Their position was that, in very many cases, only EPIC payments insurance and guarantees would provide companies with the necessary security for the long term financial accommodation they would need to be able to tender for Bougainville contracts on competitive terms. In other words, the banks regarded EPIC cover as a fundamental prerequisite before they would provide the credit needed by Australian exporters.
I mentioned earlier that the facilities of EPIC have no present significance for Australian trade with the other external Territories - Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and Cocos Island. However, should major economic developments occur in these Territories, Australian exporters would face competition equal to that now experienced in Papua and New Guinea, lt is for this reason that the Bill proposes that all the external Territories be included within the scope of the proposals.
The next amendment included in the Bill, apart from a minor drafting change, is an administrative one. At present the Corporation must obtain the specific authority of the Minister for Trade and Industry to determine staff salaries at a level exceeding $7,000 per annum. This figure was set in 1964 and is now out of line with current levels. The Bill would insert into the Act a more realistic figure and would provide that future adjustments be made by way of regulation.
I turn now to the remaining amendments to the EPIC Act proposed in the Bill. These relate to the maximum contingent liability which the Corporation may accept under export payments insurance and guarantee, and under the overseas investment insurance facility. EPIC’s contingent liability on export payments insurance, and under guarantee, is a direct reflection of the amount of business it writes. As the aggregate face value of its policies of insurance and its guarantees increases, so does the contingent liability. Consequently, adjustment of the maximum contingent liability is necessary, from time to time, to allow the Corporation to meet the increasing demands of exporters for EPIC facilities and so to facilitate further expansion of Australian trade.
The contingent liability under current contracts totals SI 92m. The contingent liability ceiling under the payments insurance and guarantee facilities was last set at $200m in 1965. With continuing growth in business and the consequent increase in accepted liability this ceiling will be reached within a very short time. The Bill therefore provides for an increase in the statutory maximum from $200m to $300m. The Government proposes also to increase the maximum contingent liability which EPIC may accept under policies of overseas investment insurance. This facility was introduced in 1965 to provide insurance cover for direct Australian investments overseas in desirable types of ventures, particularly those of a joint venture nature in the developing countries. The facility offers protection against the expropriation of the investment, inability to transfer money to Australia, and damage or destruction by a warlike operation.
The actual contingent liability under the scheme currently stands at S17m. Should contracts be taken out in respect of recent approvals this figure will increase to over $29m. Taking into account applications currently under examination and new applications expected to flow from the increasing awareness of the benefits to be derived from overseas investment, it is expected that the contingent liability will, during this year, reach $40m, which is the present maximum allowable under the Act. It is therefore proposed to raise the maximum contingent liability for insurance on Australian investments abroad to S i 00m.
It would be appropriate, at this stage, to tell honourable senators a little of the experience and operations of EPIC in order to provide a background to consideration of the Bill. In fact, the amendments included in the Bill stem directly from the success, growth and widespread acceptability of the Corporation. The impressive record of achievement since EPIC commenced business in 1957 speaks for itself. In the first year EPIC insured $22m worth of exports. Five years later it unsured nearly $90m.
Last year 1968-69 the Corporation insured exports to the value of some S300m. Overall, since its inception EPIC has provided insurance cover for exports amounting to $ 1,064m.
Tn the 10 years to December 1969 the number of policies in force with EPIC has grown from 91, with a face value of $42m, to 780, with a face value of some S330m. The number of countries to which EPIC insured exports have gone has grown, in the same period, to over 150. Over the period it has steadily enlarged the range of risks which it is prepared to insure. It now offers comprehensive cover, acceptable to banks as collateral, for a wide range of risks starting from the time of the exporters’ or manufacturers’ acquiring raw material in connection with the export contracts and extending to risks arising from failure of a buyer to accept goods, risks arising from warehousing overseas, from investing overseas, from commercial default after delivery, from exchange blockages caused by foreign government action, from war risks - cargo in the ships locked in the Suez Canal was, to an important extent, insured with EPIC - and a number of others. During its operation, the Corporation has substantially reduced its average premium rates, especially on short-term credit transactions which constitute . the larger part of its business. Even so EPIC’s premium income and earnings from capital have not only enabled it to meet all operating costs and all claims made upon it but also have permitted a build-up of reserves of almost $2m.
This record of achievement underlines the important role EPIC is playing in promoting the policy objectives of export expansion and diversification. This role has been accepted by all sectors of private industry and commerce as a useful, indeed essential, complement to existing private institutions such as the banks and the finance houses. EPIC has become an indispensable element in the growth of our export trade. Exporters frequently have been able to export only because there is this facility. Banks frequently have been able to extend finance to exporters only against the collateral which an EPIC insurance cover provides. The banks regard EPIC cover as an essential prerequisite to them providing finance for many export transactions.
In short, EPIC is accepted by business as an absolutely essential facility, lt is accepted and understood that EPIC was designed to do - and has done - what no other institutions, in fact, are designed to do. It provides a facility which fills an important gap in Australia’s export trading arrangements. I am now reminded that the Government has announced another new facility - another Corporation - to complement the existing facilities and institutions which operate to encourage industrial development, exports and Australian ownership.
Like the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, the proposed Industry Development Corporation is designed not to compete with existing institutions, but to fill a gap - to do something which no other institution is charged to do. That is, to have as its prime purpose making it possible for large Australian industry ventures able to make a major contribution to development and export to remain to a greater extent under Australian ownership. No other institution, government or private, exists for this prime purpose or is capable within itself of doing what it will be proposed the IDC should do. All other financial institutions exist around the issue of profit making, either for themselves or for those to which they lend, and mostly this is done irrespective of where the ownership of the enterprise lies or the particular contribution it will make to industry development or exports. I am supremely confident that it will be accepted that the new Corporation will be just as successful and fill an even more important role than EPIC. I commend the Bill to Honourable Senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1189).
– Before the Senate proceeds to debate the motion of dissent from my ruling made on 6th May,I wish to reply to certain statements. On the adjournment debate at the close of the sitting of 7th May, it was claimed that the Clerk did not correctly record in the Journals of 6th May the proceedings relating to the urgency motion moved by Senator Greenwood under standing order 64. The interpretation and application of standing order 64 have always been that the statement of the matter of urgency is not part of the motion. The proceedings of 6th May were recorded in the Journals in accord with the long established interpretation of standing order 64 and in the style used by The Clerks since 1908.
I point out to the Senate that the resolution of 6th May was not the first occasion on which an urgency motion under standing order 64 has been carried. There were two occasions in 1950 - on 30th May and 7th November. There was no suggestion then that the Senate, when it duly met the next day at the unusual time, should proceed to debate the matter of urgency. The proceedings in 1950 were recorded in the Journals in exactly the same way as were the proceedings of 6th May 1970.
With reference to the Hansard report of these proceedings of 6th May, the Principal Parliamentary Reporter has supplied me with a memorandum, which reads:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 9.55 a.m. - the motion being the means to enable a debate on a matter of urgency to take place. That is to say, the subject of the discussion is not part of the motion. Hansard is consistent with the Journals.
That the amountof the proposed vote be reduced by $1 - as an instruction to the Government - (e.g.) to make an immediate grant-in-aid to the States.
– I do not know whether it is necessary for me to move my motion again, but I do so. 1 move:
That the rulingof the President be dissented from, to the effect that he did not propose to change established precedent regarding the interpretation of standing order 64 and that the passing on 6th May of the motion moved by Senator Greenwood under that standing order did not mean that the Senate at its next meeting should proceed to debate the matter of urgency.
Mr President, 1 had the advantage of having a look at your statement prior to your reading it. I point out to you, Sir, that in paragraph 3 you say:
A somewhat similar form is used in the House of Representatives in the consideration of the Estimates, i.e., a motion is proposed -
That the amount of the proposed vote be reduced by $1 . . .
On several occasions the Australian Labor Party has been accused, when it has moved that the defence vote be reduced by £1 - as it used to be - of wanting to spend less money ondefence. In your paragraph 4 you state:
Senator Greenwood, when revising the duplicate of his speech, did not ask Hansard to reproduce the terms of the matter of urgency.
That is a matter for Senator Greenwood and I submit, with all respect, that Hansard is required to reproduce all that is said in debate in this place.
– Let us apply that and we will have some funny Hansard reports.
– All that I say to the honourable senator is that I want to discuss this thing as calmly as possible. It is a rather serious matter when there is a motion of dissent from the President’s ruling. If the honourable senator wants to join this debate I suggest that he does so after [ have spoken. The motion moved by Senator Greenwood on 6th May was:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 9.55 a.m. for the purpose . . .
And I repeat ‘for the purpose’ - of debating a matter of urgency, namely . . .
So as not to weary honourable senators I will not proceed with the substance of the matter that Senator Greenwood considered of sufficient urgency to seek to use the forms of the Senate to debate it. But it is clear that the proposal was for the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency. That was what the adjournment was for. Despite what the practice is and despite what the Standing Orders say, this is the motion that was accepted in this Senate and I just want to say, Mr President, that in your statement - which 1 do not criticise - you refer to the practice since 1908 with respect to the Journals and to the practice of Hansard since 1901. Might I, with respect, say that perhaps the practices of some 60-odd years ago do not fit the circumstances of today, and 1 accept your sincerity, Sir, in your statement that you will have this matter referred to the Standing Orders Committee at a later time. 1 submit that standing order 64 is capable of the interpretation that I place upon it. lt states: (1.) A motion without Notice, that the Senate al its rising adjourn to any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency. . . . The Senator so moving must make in writing, and hand it to the President before the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, a statement of the matter of urgency. Such motion must be supported by 4 Senators rising in their places as indicating their approval thereof. . . . 1 do not think I need read the next sentence. 1 submit that on a reading of the standing order in that matter it is capable of being interpreted in the manner in which I have interpreted it. There was in a later debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate last Thursday evening some dispute as to what Senator Greenwood had in fact moved. Despite the appearance in Hansard only of the motion: ‘That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 9.55 a.m.’, Senator Greenwood asked for the letter that he had written to you, Mr President, to be incorporated. But during his remarks he said:
All I say is that insofar as the question has been raised as to what did occur in the Senate yesterday when this motion was moved, I have a positive recollection that, contrary to what does appear at page 1135 of Hansard, I read in full the notice of motion which I had given.
Later he said: 1 have a very positive recollection that I did read it in full.
I rely on the Hansard record of the motion that was moved. I do not rely on the journal record. Probably at some later stage 1 will give notice of motion for an amendment of the journal in terms of the motion that was used. Let me refer to page 199 of the book ‘Australian Senate Practice’ on which the following appears:
By the very nature of an urgency motion, no issue can be determined, but opportunity is afforded to spotlight some specific matter which, in the opinion of those senators supporting the motion, is of sufficient urge’ncy to warrant the immediate consideration of the Senate.
That is a re-statement of the practice which has grown up in the Senate. 1 submit that it is an unsatisfactory practice to perpetuate in the Senate. Honourable senators come here to discuss matters that they consider to be of sufficient urgency to warrant suspending the operations of the Senate for 3 hours but there is no possibility of their getting a decision on the matter in relation to which they consider there is urgency. I submit that that should not be so. I submit that there should be provision within the Standing Orders for senators to be able to get decisions on the substance of matters that they want to discuss. 1 will not weary the Senate any further. I state to you plainly, Mr President, that the standing order is capable of the interpretation - I am not saying that it is not capable of some other interpretation - that I place upon it. The motion that Senator Greenwood moved is in line with the interpretation that I place upon the standing order and, in the face of that interpretation of the standing order and the motion moved by Senator Greenwood, I submit that your ruling, Sir, is contrary to the standing order and the motion.
– Senator Cant has moved dissent from a ruling that you, Mr President, gave on 6th May. I want to make it clear at the outset that the Government does not support the motion for dissent. The Government believes that the ruling you gave is the proper ruling and therefore it cannot support the motion or vote for it. Like Senator Cant, 1 do not propose to speak at any great length. I think it is desirable that the matter should be resolved as quickly as is possible. However, I should like to advert to some of the arguments that the honourable senator has put forward in support of his motion for dissent.
He has said - I think that this is the foundation of his argument: Standing order 64 could be interpreted to mean that there could be a continuing debate subsequently and that, because the standing order could be interpreted in that way, he therefore should dissent from your ruling. I think it is proper to say, Sir, that the ruling you gave is the ruling which has been given and which has been understood ever since the Standing Orders were written in 1901. 1 think it is also proper to say not only that the ruling gives an interpretation of the meaning of standing order 64 but also that the ruling is supported by practice. It has been made abundantly clear and has been repeated over and over again during our short history that your interpretation of standing order 64 is the proper one.
It is interesting to reflect that ‘May’s Parliamentary Practice’ which, of course, comes from the British mother of parliaments, is a long story of parliamentary practice. I would remind the Senate, for instance, that in the mother of parliaments there are something like 80 standing orders. We have 450 standing orders in the Australian Parliament. The British mother of parliaments is built, not necessarily around the 80 standing orders but around parliamentary practice. We in Australia also have parliamentary practice. If one picks up May’s Parliamentary Practice’ - I think there is one on your desk, Mr President - one will find a whole series of rulings that have been given by presiding officers over the years. One will find that ‘May’s Parliamentary Practice* deals with the interpretation of the procedures of parliament.
There is no doubt in my mind, Mr President, as I am sure there is no doubt in the minds of honourable senators on the Government side, that in the circumstances your ruling on standing order 64 was the proper ruling. If it were not so, why would we need to debate the matter for 3 hours when the resolution was put down? Taking Senator Cant’s argument to its logical conclusion, one could assume that when the motion to adjourn the Senate until 9.55 a.m. the next morning had .been carried there would be not a 3 hour debate. At that stage there would be an unlimited debate which could go on ad infinitum. That was never the intention. The Standing Orders and parliamentary practice have provided vehicles to enable senators and members of the parliaments of our democracy to discuss matters. Standing order 64 clearly provides a vehicle to enable a senator to speak on a matter, the vehicle being the motion that the Senate adjourn until some time which is not the normal time.
Yesterday and today we had debates on the motion for the first reading of a money Bill during which, as all honourable senators know, they can talk about anything. They can talk about the birds and the bees. They do not have to talk about the appropriation of funds. Yesterday honourable senators were talking about drugs on the motion for the first reading of a money Bill. That has no relationship to an appropriation but it is a form of the Parliament to provide to a senator the right and privilege to raise matters. The same thing applies to standing order 64. It provides that a senator can move for the adjournment of the Senate to a time different from the normal time to enable him to talk about anything which he, supported by 4 members of his Party, or indeed of the Senate, considers to be a matter of urgency. That device to enable such a debate has been written deliberately into standing order 64. To me there is no doubt, as has been demonstrated by the comments that have been made, that ever since we have had a federation and a Federal Parliament we have had a clear understanding in terms of practice of what standing order 64 means.
Now in this year of grace 1970 - our bicentenary year - we have come to the situation where an honourable senator says that because in his judgment - an honest judgment, no doubt - standing order 64 could be interpreted in a different way he should dissent from the ruling of the Chair. I would say that the Presiding Officer had no other course open to him but to interpret standing order 64 in the way in which he interpreted it. If we are to enjoy the freedoms that we have in our Parliament which enable honourable senators to speak on matters to which they want to speak and which are not necessarily germane to the discussion current at that time, I believe that it is very desirable, in fact essential, that they should have the opportunity open to them by moving as a matter of urgency that the Senate at its rising adjourn until some time other than the normal time. That is the device that is open to us. That is the procedure that is used. I want to see that preserved in our parliamentary practice. If we were prepared to accept Senator Cant’s motion of dissent, in my view it would tend to destroy that and to destroy the priceless heritage that we have in the management and conduct of the Parliament of this country. So I say that the Government does not support the motion of dissent, but gives absolute support to the ruling given by you, Mr President, from the chair when this matter was dealt with on 6th May.
– 1 feel that I should contribute something to this debate because the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) said that standing order 64 was clearly a vehicle for the purpose of discussing some matter. It is not clearly a vehicle. There is no doubt that, according to the practice, it has been used as a vehicle; but if anything is clear about standing order 64 it is that it is unclear. Whilst it might be said: ‘Why does standing order 64 provide for a 3-hour debate? Surely it must be for that purpose.’, 1 could ask: ‘Why does standing order 64 provide that the Senate should adjourn to some different hour from that fixed? What is the sense in it if it is to be fictional?’
Standing order 64 is capable of being applied to this situation - a situation of urgency in which the Senate might decide, after some debate which could be brought on in this way and does not necessarily have to last for 3 hours, that it should adjourn to some special time. Let us suppose that there was a situation of impending war and a projected invasion of Australia and we decided, on a motion that was put in the very kind of terms used by Senator Greenwood, that at the rising of the Senate we would adjourn to a special time - say, 8.30 tomorrow morning - in order to discuss a matter of urgency.
– It says ‘for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency’.
– Yes, the projected or possible invasion of Australia. Would anyone doubt that when we arrived at 8.30 in the morning that is what we would discuss: that that was the purpose of the motion; that the Senate was to meet at a special time, nol the ordinary time, in order to discuss a matter of urgency. That seems to me to be a plain reading of what standing order 64 says.
It is true - 1 would concede this - that what you have done, Mr President, has been done before, and done for a considerable time. But at the very least Senator
Cant has brought this important matter to the attention of the Senate. I must say that it occurred to me during last year, I think it was, and I had occasion to discuss with others this variance between what the terms of the standing order required and what was being done. If we are to have vehicles for discussing matters of urgency, then we should make this plain. There is no need for it to be mixed up with an adjournment motion. If the idea is that we will spend 3 hours discussing a matter and not that we will adjourn in order to debate a matter of urgency, surely the standing order should be altered in that regard and it should be said that by this device of giving a notice the Senate will debate for 3 hours the matter of urgency. Why have it caught up with an adjournment motion unless there is some intention to debate the matter when the Senate meets at the special time? So, I believe that there is considerable force in what Senator Cant says. As I have said, no-one - least of all you, Mr President, or for that matter the Clerk who has done what has been done before - is to be criticised. But, on a plain reading and a fair reading of standing order 64, I say that Senator Cant is right.
– 1 cannot agree, Mr President, that your ruling is supported, without any measure of doubt, by standing order 64. Unquestionably you are supported by parliamentary practice over very many years. Parliamentary practice, of course, has great force not only in this Parliament but also in the older parliaments of the British Commonwealth. But standing order 64 says very clearly, as far as I can read it: (1.) A motion without Notice, that the Senate at iti; rising adjourn lo any day or hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate, for the purpose of debating some matter of urgency . . .
Then it stipulates when that should be done, namely, after petitions have been presented and before the business of the day is proceeded with, lt goes on to stipulate the period of debate and the periods of debating time allowed to the mover, the Minister and subsequent speakers. I cannot really see any ambiguity in that standing order, lt says:
My interpretation of that is that it is a notice of motion, as it were, for a debate on a matter of urgency to take place at the time stated in the motion itself. 1 do not. propose to support the motion of dissent. My reason, Mr President, is that you have given an undertaking to have this standing order referred to the Standing Orders Committee for further consideration. Whilst I respect practice, 1 do not think we are entitled, when in the opinion of Senators a standing order is ambiguous or has a double meaning, to allow it to pass without correction or at least consideration by those appointed to examine our Standing Orders from time to time. I cannot see that any advantage or benefit can be gained by carrying this motion of dissent; but 1 believe that much can bc gained if this standing order is clarified and put in simple language so that there will be no possibility of a double interpretation.
I can see only one meaning in this standing order, and that is that the Senate adjourns to a stated time for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency. No other interpretation can be put on it, as far as I can see. 1 trust that when the matter is referred to the Standing Orders Committee by you, Mr President, the Committee will also take the opportunity to have a look at other standing orders, some of which, 1 believe, are outdated and in need of revision and correction.
That the motion (Senator Cant’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Consideration resumed from 7 May (vide page 1217).
[8.35] - The Committee has agreed that the Bill be taken as a whole but I wish now to refer to clause 5. It relates to the conditions under which individual credit unions may seek and obtain approval for the purposes of the homes savings grant scheme. One of the conditions is that in a credit union’s most recently concluded financial year not less than 15% of the total amount lent by it shall be in the form of prescribed housing loans. A prescribed housing loan is one of not less than $7,000 repayable over a period of not less than 12 years. This is intended by the Government to be a positive and not a restrictive measure. Its purpose is to help credit unions while not losing sight of one of the basic objectives of the homes savings grant scheme, namely, to help to increase the volume of savings available for lending for home ownership.
The attitude of the Government to the conditions for acceptance of the savings of credit unions set out in the amending Bill now before the Committee has not been entirely inflexible. I have listened with interest to arguments put on behalf of the credit unions for an easing of the proposed requirement. Senator Little in particular referred to the possibility of a reduction of the requirement of $7,000 in order, to use his term, to open the door a little wider. Later he brought to see me a deputation of credit union officials. I therefore have given further consideration to this matter and I see merit in some of the views that have been put to me. In particular I have been impressed by the thought that the objective of adding to the volume of savings for home ownership could in fact be advanced by setting a minimum amount for the prescribed housing loan which is perhaps more readily attainable by credit unions. I am pleased, Mr Chairman, to inform the Committee that the Government proposes a further amendment that will reduce from $7,000 to $5,000 the proposed minimum amount for a prescribed housing loan. The definition of ‘prescribed housing loan’ in proposed section 4b. (1.) reads: prescribed housing loan’ means a housing loan of un amount of not less than Seven thousand dollars repayable over a period of nol less than twelve years:
As an amendment 1 move:
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendment: Leave out Seven’, insert ‘Five’.
– I propose to move an amendment to the request for amendment in the following terms:
Leave out all words after the words ‘Leave out’ and insert the words ‘seven thousand dollars repayable over a period of not less than 12 years’, and insert instead the words ‘three thousand dollars repayable over a period of not less than 5 years’.
That amendment would have the effect of making the provision read: prescribed housing loan’ means a housing loan of an amount of not less than Three thousand dollars repayable over a period of not less than five years;
The amendment which I propose to the request made by the Minister for an amendment to the Bill is in line with the amendment which ( moved to the motion for the second reading, which the Minister would not accept, which the Democratic Labor Party did not support and which went to a division on which it was defeated. In speaking on the second reading of the Bill I indicated that I had moved the amendment following representations which had been made to the Australian Labor Party by members of credit unions. According to the Minister, Senator Little approached her and introduced representatives of some of the credit unions. The Minister said that she was impressed with the approach that was made. Apparently she received from the credit unions information which prompted an amendment which would be of assistance not only to the credit unions but also to the legislation which is brought forward by the Government on this occasion.
I recall quite vividly that ever since the Homes Savings Grant Act was put on the statute book by this Government, we of the Labor Party have endeavoured to have the credit unions recognised for the purposes of this legislation. However, the Government has completely rejected our approaches until this occasion. I give the Government credit at least for having opened the door, although by this legislation it is just open. Unfortunately, if the Bill now before the Committee is given effect to, even in the amended form as requested by the Minister, it will not bring within its provisions the number of credit unions which the Labor Party would desire to have participate under this legislation.
I should think that the Minister probably would have covered some of the ground for this proposal with representatives of the credit union and would have believed that if she deleted the words ‘Seven thousand dollars’ and inserted in lieu ‘Five thousand dollars’ this would have brought quite a number of other credit unions within the provisions of the Bill. We ask the Minister to go just a little farther and particularly we ask that the provision go a little farther in relation to the time factor. The time factor is just as important to the credit union movement as a lesser prescribed amount because whilst it might be desirable in some cases to have a loan repayable over a period of 12 years, it is the wish of the credit unions that their loans should not be repayable over a long period. This is the reason why I have sought to amend the request proposed by the Minister and to have the period as 5 years instead of 12 years. I do not think there is much difference in the approach of the Government, the Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party to this legislation.
Surely to goodness in 1970 we have grown up sufficiently to try to bring in legislation which will benefit the great number of people who will be able to participate in the scheme under this legislation and also benefit members of the various credit unions. Consequently, in all earnestness 1 propose this amendment to the Minister’s request.
– lt will be necessary for the honourable senator to seek leave to move his amendment because the question before the Chair now is the Minister’s request for an amendment to leave out the word ‘Seven’ and to insert the word ‘Five’.
– I seek leave to move an amendment to the Minister’s request in the following terms:
Leave out all words after the words ‘Leave out’ and insert the words ‘Seven thousand dollars repayable over a period of not less than 12 years’ and insert instead the words ‘Three thousand dollars repayable over a period of not less than 5 years’.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– 1 support the amendment and in doing so 1 should like briefly to indicate that the person who originally drew up this legislation had no real conception of a credit union and its function. But to move quickly to the matter before the Senate, the Government has in this clause realised that the original legislation was restrictive and excluded practically all credit unions in Australia from the scheme. Reducing the amount of a prescribed housing loan from $7,000 to $5,000 is an improvement, but it sti!l excludes many credit unions which exist under State legislation, lt excludes them not by reason of the amount only but by reason of ability and depth of finance, lt excludes many of the very small credit unions, lt must be appreciated that it is the small credit union which forms the backbone of the credit union movement. lt is the small credit union in a parish of 200 or 300 people, the small credit union at the place of employment of 200 people, which has limited finance which the employees themselves contribute and which has limited personnel and staff. In fact, all the work that is done for the small credit union is undertaken on a voluntary basis. The small credit union does a tremendous amount of work to assist young people, in particular, to buy homes.
In fact, the small credit union is responsible for enabling the Government’s legislation to function. Through the small credit union it is possible for people to take advantage of the $8,000 which the Government provides under this legislation with which to purchase a home, lt is the small credit union which enables a purchaser to find the amount of money to cover the deposit gap so that he can purchase a home. Not only this; once the home is purchased the small credit union enables young people to furnish a home, lt provides them with very cheap credit, so (bat the furniture is obtained at a reduced price. The small credit union does a tremendous amount of work. I believe that the Government has not really appreciated the amount of work which these small credit unions do and the amount of assistance which they provide. They request that the amount of the prescribed housing loan should be smaller than that presently proposed. Normally speaking there is a deposit gap of $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 or perhaps $4,000. Credit unions often lend $1,000 or $2,000 in order to allow somebody to clear a mortgage on a block of land so that the title of the land is free and a house can be erected on it.
But there is another reason why credit unions want the amount of the prescribed housing loan reduced and a shorter term provided for repayment of the loan. The shorter the term for which credit unions can lend, the better it is for the members of the credit unions because money becomes available for lending to other members within the group. This is one of the reasons why they want a smaller sum, say, $3,000 rather than $5,000, as the amount of the prescribed housing loan, and a shorter term for the repayment of the loan. They request a shorter term so that money will be quickly recoverable in order to be lent again and other couples can take advantage of the money available. I am strongly suggesting to the Government that having accepted the principle that $7,000 is too much for a prescribed housing loan it should not stop at $5,000. Why does not the Government accept the tremendous amount of work that credit unions, especially the smaller ones, are doing and reduce the amount of the prescribed housing loan to $3,000? Later we will possibly move other amendments which concern other aspects of the legislation. I appeal to those who support, in principle, the reduction in the amount of the prescribed housing loan from §7,000 to $5,000 to consider reducing it further to $3,000 in order to assist the small credit unions. Let us not make of the credit union movement what we have made of various medical benefit funds and other housing societies; do not let us make them monolithic. Let us try to keep them as they are - small, mutual type societies which work on a voluntary basis to assist their various members, especially young people in the community.
– 1 wish to indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the amendment that has been brought down by the Government, that is, in line 6 in clause 5 on page 4 of the Bill, to leave out ‘seven’ and insert ‘five*. We will vote against the further amendment that has been moved by the Australian Labor Party.
– Is the Democratic Labor Party unhappy about the repayment period proposal?
– I will give Senator Devitt an explanation concerning the repayment period, because it is quite clear to me now that the Australian Labor Party has always been a long way behind in understanding what the credit unions want and, in effect, what the Democratic Labor Party has been proposing. Now the Australian Labor Party is prosecuting something on which the credit unions have had a full explanation and which they no longer require. If the honourable senator listens to my explanation he will understand why, in the history of this piece of legislation, the Labor Party has made such a very sorry showing. It has moved an amendment, and after everybody has discussed it, it has amended its own amendment in order to try to get on to the political band wagon.
Of course, this legislation does not have only one purpose in mind, that of allowing credit unions to participate in the lending of homes savings finance. The legislation must retain the original intention and motive of the Government. We must concede that point. Perhaps if there were a different government, if the Democratic Lahor Party were in government, we might add to the Government’s intentions, we might broaden them, but the present Government is the Government of the day, and its purpose under this legislation is, first of all, to encourage people to save. That is why credit unions are embodied in the legislation. But another purpose of the legislation is to make available to those seeking finance an ever widening resource to which they can go to borrow money for the purchase or building of a home. This legislation, which seeks to amend the Homes Savings Grant Act, covers many other very desirable aspects and we as legislators have a responsibility not to hold the legislation up unnecessarily by adopting futile delaying tactics. All of these matters have to be taken into consideration.
It is true that we in the Democratic Labor Party would have perhaps gone further and proposed a reduction of the amount of the prescribed housing loan to less than $5,000, but if we did that, as a matter of practical politics we would get into the category of the Australian Labor Party which in another place moved an amendment which was virtually along the line which Senator Georges is suggesting, that is, to make this legislation apply to every credit union, however small it might be. It might have only 10 members and completely lack finance.
– You know that a credit union cannot have 10 members.
– It can in some States. If the honourable senator gets a list of the registered credit unions he will find some with as few as 9 members.
– If a credit union had only 9 members it would not have the funds available.
– Let us make it 20 members, if Senator Georges wishes to argue that point. The point I am really making is that if the amendment which was moved in another place had been accepted it would virtually have meant that all credit unions were in, irrespective of the amount of money or the number of members in them. In the final analysis that would not be a good thing for the homes savings grant legislation. It would financially embarrass many small credit unions. They would not be capable of participating in the homes savings grant scheme, nor would they wish to do so. The Government will not accept such an amendment, because a similar amendment was rejected in another place, and the Labor Party in the other place did not even consider moving a further amendment to reduce the amount of the prescribed housing loan. The legislation then came to this chamber. When it came here the Labor Party moved an amendment which was identical with that moved in another place. After 2 speakers from the Labor Party had made contributions to the debate - and neither of them mentioned the areas to which I directed the whole of my attention in my speech - Senator Poke then sought leave to amend his amendment, to introduce the very question which I have been discussing in order to try to obtain some benefit for people in credit unions.
But it is obvious that whatever we may think in this chamber, we cannot impose our will concerning this legislation on another place which has already rejected out of hand the proposition which the Labor Party in this chamber has advanced. To try to impose our will on another place could endanger the other very worth while proposals which the Government has included in this legislation. Many things are said about the Democratic Labor Party, but we are very responsible people when it comes to the interests particularly of those people who are prepared to build their homes and who want to create their own source of finance through the formation of cooperatives. We have given these people every encouragement throughout the political history of the Democratic Labor Party and, indeed, much of the original cooperative housing legislation was introduced as a result of the efforts of the people who today form the Democratic Labor Party. A culmination of our efforts is the proposition that is before the Committee tonight. I think that the Government should be congratulated for having moved at all on this question. It has moved quite considerably.
– It has taken a long while.
– The legislation has already been debated for a long time. I am one of those who, recognising the good things that are in the legislation, do not want to see it delayed further by futile political manoeuvres which may add to the political aggrandisement of a party when it talks to the people, or when it tries to sustain a case, but which will do nothing practical to get for people in credit unions the very things that they want. For that reason and for that reason alone, as I made perfectly clear when we rejected the Australian
Labor Party’s amended amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill, tonight we are prepared to accept the proposition that the Government has brought forward. Reducing from 57,000 to $5,000 the amount of the prescribed housing loan will open the door considerably wider than the original legislation. I think that is proof of the good faith and the good intentions of the Government. It is prepared to move this far away from its original intention so that more credit unions are allowed to participate in this legislation now.
Having said that, I deal now with the period of nol less than 12 years over which a prescribed housing loan is repayable and in which Labor senators were so interested. The credit unions now have a knowledge that none of us had before. The first interpretation that could be placed upon the clause was that the loan had to be for a period of 12 years. This is still true. The loan has to be made for that period. But, like any other loan, it can be paid off in a period of 2 years if the borrower so desires, lt still is a legitimate loan for the purposes of the homes savings legislation because it was made for a period of 12 years.
– lt could still be for 12 years.
– It could be for 12 years if the borrower so requires. This fits in with the intention of the Government in making sure that the borrower may take 12 years to repay the loan if he so desires. We should make sure that we do not run away with the idea that this legislation is only for the benefit of the credit unions. lt is also and primarily for the benefit of the borrower - the person who wants to build a home. The credit unions, like cooperative housing societies - wonderful is they are and no matter how much I support them - exist only to serve and function in the interests of the borrower. We must not lose sight of the fact that at all times the borrower must be the person who retains the greatest interest, whether he borrows from his own credit union, from a cooperative society or from a banking institution. Is it not right that he should have the longer period if he so desires? If we make it obligatory that a borrower can borrow for only 3 or 5 years, only the wealthy could borrow. Only those who see ahead of them a huge income and who can pay off a debt rapidly would be able to borrow.
The interpretation we now have of this clause seems to be acceptable to the credit unions, if not to the Labor Party. If the Labor Party is not up to date with its information from the credit unions, I suggest that it is no worse off than it was the other night when it lagged a long way behind everybody else with its information. The loan must be repayable over a period of 12 years. I agree that we should protect the interests of the small man - the little man who sees only a limited income in the period in which to pay off that loan. If he desires and if he arranges with his credit union to pay it off in 3 years he can do so. There is nothing to stop him. As the legislation stands, the benefit can be received both ways. If the period of repayment is reduced to 5 years, only the man on the higher income who can see himself paying off the loan within the period of 5 years will be eligible for the prescribed housing loan.
In their amendment, Labor senators have not considered the practical effects on the interests of the little people that they want to represent - not the credit unions as such but the people who make the credit unions, the ones who put their money into the credit unions. In the final analysis^, surely those people are more important than the organisation of the credit union as it exists. I think that this clause, as it is acceptable to the Government, should be passed. It is necessary that this legislation, after it has been delayed so long, should be passed as quickly as possible and become effective in the interests of widows and divorcees with children and in the interests of people who at the moment are trembling on the brink of wanting a $16,000 home but who are limited to a $15,000 home. We should not waste time on idle political manoeuvring that has no possible chance of success. I think that the mover of the further amendment to reduce the amount of the prescribed housing loan to $3,000 and to reduce the period of repayment is perfectly aware that all that could be accomplished is that the Bill would be sent from this place to another place and we would have it back again in another couple of weeks in its original form - perhaps with the period of repayment not even 5 years. Labor senators would resent that. They would risk losing a concession for the foolish political manoeuvring of being able to say: ‘We moved something which the Democratic
Labor Party would not support.’ We do not care what they move. We are prepared to stand for the interests of the people we want to represent in Parliament. We think that the best thing that could be done is to support this legislation. We are prepared to support the Government’s amendment.
– I looked at this Bill for the first time tonight when this amendment came to my notice. Apparently accusations were made during the debate on the second reading of the Bill that the Australian Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party played politics and sacrificed the interests of home seekers. I do not know whether that was so. I do not think the Committee stage is the appropriate occasion to try to play politics. We should be concerned with Senator Little’s closing remarks that we should be interested in the home seekers. While I did not detect in Senator Poke’s contribution any suggestion that the vote of home seekers was being sought by our political Party, I think Senator Little’s speech contained strong indications that that was the objective of the DLP. We should look at the Bill and see the definition of a credit union. For the first time the possibility of credit unions being accepted as eligible organisations for savings for homes savings grants is introduced. People may save their money by depositing it in a credit union. In the past they did not qualify for a grant unless the money was deposited in a special homes savings account.
– This Bill amends that.
– 1 will come to that if Senator Little will let me develop my own argument. I think I am as competent without his assistance as I am with it. The Government’s argument is that the Act has 2 purposes: Firstly, to help the home seeker who wants to purchase a home and, secondly, to reward him with some benefit or bounty not on all his savings but on savings deposited in an institution that makes money available for housing. The Bill will assist the home seeker only on the condition that he deposits his savings with an institution that makes money available for housing. Therefore, we seek the benefits of having housing loans more readily available. I think that is the Government’s intention under this legislation. In the past we would not accept credit unions because, in the main, they did not lend their money for housing. Nevertheless, certain people, particularly those in the Public Service, subscribe to credit unions as an easy and convenient method of saving money. Now we are prepared to accept credit unions under certain conditions.
Among the matters sought to be amended is the definition of a prescribed housing loan. The Government seeks to reduce the amount of that loan. The Government’s amendment will provide that a prescribed housing loan means a housing loan of an amount of not less than $5,000 repayable over a period of not less than 12 years. To know the significance of this we must see how the words ‘prescribed housing loan’ are used to see whether any benefit is obtained by reducing the amount by adopting the Government’s amendment, or by reducing the term by adopting the Labor Party’s amendment. Proposed section 4b (4.) provides that credit unions have to meet 3 conditions in order to qualify under this scheme. The sub-section states:
The Secretary shall not approve a credit union unless -
he is satisfied that -
not less than 20% of the total amount that was lent by the credit union to its members during the last financial year of the credit union that ended before the date of the application for approval was lent by way of housing loans -
When one turns to the definition of a housing loan one finds that it means a loan made at a rate of interest not exceeding 7i% per annum or, if another rate is prescribed, not exceeding that other rate, for or in connection with, among other things, the purchase of land that could, at the time when the loan was made, lawfully be used for residential purposes or for the purchase of a dwelling house. Therefore, 20% of it must have been for housing loans. There is no qualification about what is a housing loan. It does not matter whether the loan is $2 or $5,000 because as long as it is a housing loan it achieves the Government’s purpose. It assures that a proportion of the credit union’s money is being used for the purpose for which the Government insists it shall be used, which is that it is available for housing without qualification. But the Secretary shall not approve of a credit union unless he is satisfied that not -less than 15% of the total amount lent - 20% of the housing loan - by the credit union to its members during the financial year was by way of prescribed housing loans. While the credit unions have to lend a larger amount for housing the Bill imposes the added restriction that 15% of the loans must be for prescribed housing loans. A prescribed housing loan is defined as a housing loan of an amount of not less than $7,000 which is repayable over a period of not less than 1 2 years.
How does this restriction help the Government’s scheme? If it is essential that 15% or 20% of the money to be lent is available for housing purposes the Government’s purpose, which is to make the money available for housing, is met. What does it matter to the Government when it is repaid or in what proportion it is lent as long as it helps the borrower? If a second mortgage or a third mortgage is involved it helps the borrower regardless of whether the amount is large or small. What has this got to do with the Government? What is the reason for this requirement? The money has to be paid back in so many years. It neither assists the borrower nor achieves the Government’s purpose to have the money tied up because if it is repayable in a shorter period the money would be available for further housing loans. Another restriction is that the credit union shall not be registered unless the total amount lent by it to its members during the financial year by way of housing loans is not less than $50,000. Of course, that is obviously a sine qua non of the old registration. It completely eliminates the argument that one can have a credit union of 10 or 20 members. Firstly, the credit union must lend $50,000 by way of housing loans in order to meet the Government’s requirement that so much of its money shall go towards housing loans. Secondly, 20% of it must be lent for housing purposes. But 15% of that 20% must be lent for prescribed housing loans. In this respect a restriction is applied which is not applied to other institutions. It is not a restriction which helps the borrower and.it is not a restriction which helps the Government’s policy of a reserve for housing; it is purely a restriction to debar credit unions from participating in this scheme. There is no other reason for this restriction.
– That is not right
– What is the purpose of it?
– It is to ensure that a high proportion of the lending is devoted to housing.
– Will the Government have that guarantee? All the Government is concerned about is that at a given time $50,000 will be loaned for housing purposes. Is the Government concerned about the conditions of borrowing? There is a guarantee that 20% of it must be loaned for the purchase of land for residential purposes or the purchase of a dwelling house without any qualifications. It serves the Government’s purpose for the credit unions to lend the money for housing purposes. But then it ties up 15% of this 20% under conditions which could well make it impossible for the operations of the credit union scheme. Can honourable senators opposite tell me why it is necessary for these conditions to apply to prescribed housing loans? What is the need for them? In paragraphs (i) and (iii) of proposed subsection (4.) (a) the Government has its guarantee of 20% and $50,000. This restriction can serve one purpose and one purpose only and that is to disqualify certain credit unions. It could well disqualify all of them. It is possible that it will.
– They are not worried about them.
– No, you are not worried about them. However, the credit unions provide a service and the Australian Labor Party is worried about ensuring that they are encouraged to continue to provide this service. The Bill deliberately purports to mislead. When one analyses the words one finds that they have no meaning and no purpose. The restriction is not designed to help the borrower and it is not designed to achieve the Government’s purpose; it has no other purpose but to disqualify some credit unions. The Australian Labor Party regardless of whether it has copied the policy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, is seeking to ease the restriction to the extent that credit unions are able to participate in the scheme. If the Government’s Interest is in making money available for housing and not in debarring credit unions from participating in the scheme it cannot object to the Labor Party’s amendment.
– It is obvious not only that the Government is unappreciative of what the credit union movement is and how it operates but also that Senator Little of the Australian Democratic Labor Party is unappreciative because if he were a member of a credit union and he was interviewing someone about a loan of this type the last thing he would advise the person to do would be to borrow over a period of 1 2 years. Obviously he does not know how the credit unions operate. They give a higher rate of interest on deposits to assist their members. In fact, many rates are as high as 6% and some are a little more on deposits. But the amount of interest that the credit unions have to charge on their loans is, as has been stated previously in this chamber, lc for each $1 for each month, which is 6% flat or 12% simple interest.
It has been argued before in this chamber that that rate of interest is too high. It is too high on housing. However these days young people are being forced to borrow from fringe banking organisations, from financial organisations or from hire purchase firms to make up the gap which occurs between what the Government gives and what the youngsters have to obtain and the rate of interest has to be compared not with bank interest or present housing society interest, which is about 8i% on a 6-monthly basis, but with the interest which they will be charged by the fringe banking organisations which are taking these young people for a ride. The fringe banking organisations about which I speak charge interest at the rate of 9% flat, in some cases 10% flat, and in some cases 14% flat. Let me put that in simple interest. Nine percent flat is 18% simple interest, and 10% is 20% simple interest. Some of these firms, battening on the needs of the youngsters, are charging as much as 28% simple interest. It is in this field that the credit unions assist.
– We know all that.
– You obviously do not know it because you would not suggest to a young person that he borrow $5,000, virtually on a second mortgage, at 12% interest.
– He cannot do it under the Act, Senator. That Act specifies the rate of interest which the credit unions are permitted to charge. You want to get your facts right.
– Listen, if young people were to accept a loan of $5,000 for a period of 12 years they would be paying $3,600 in interest. The purpose of the credit union is not to do this. The purpose of a credit union is to give amounts of money for short terms to enable-
– You should read the whole Bill.
– No, they actually do assist in putting a person into a home. 1 am not concerned about the Government. It gives 8,000 miserable dollars for home building these days. Eight thousand dollars would build a home of only 8 squares. Eight squares is not a home. It is a ridiculous size.
– You go to the Bill.
– I know. I will come back to the Bill. The very policy of the Government has made it necessary for the establishment of credit unions and the banding together of people to save together to be able to assist one another to take advantage of finance which is available. The Government ought to recognise this. It is done on a voluntary basis throughout the land. Many people give many hours financing the policy of this Government to get young people into homes. Yet we hear someone here who suggests that we make the minimum loan $5,000 over a minimum period of 12 years which is a ridiculous period of time at an exorbitant rate of interest in this particular direction. Obviously the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the Government do not know what the purpose of a credit union is. If they did-
– The credit unions know. You are the only one out of step.
– Wait a minute. If the Government did know, it would do everything possible to assist credit unions, rather than hinder them. The Australian Labor Party wants the Government to go further than this particular amendment. I did not range further down. The other portion which requires that credit unions lend a minimum of $50,000 in home lending is to be considered later. I have not yet got to that stage. Here is another imposition which makes it patently impossible for the credit union movement, or the bulk of the credit unions, to take advantage of this scheme. I am merely asking the Government to recognise what home building is. It is not just a matter of putting up an 8 square home with 4 walls. It is putting up a home which will cost somewhere near $15,000. It is putting the furniture into that home. It is financing the home. Although the credit union movement charges this high rate of interest it has all sorts of precautions built into its loans even at this high rate of interest. There are all sorts of distress benefits. The credit unions do not impose any burden upon those who, for some reason such as illness, unemployment, or even strikes are unable to meet their commitments. If a person dies the loan is repaid. If the person is ill a moratorium operates. The credit union, by its nature, by its mutuality, assists. It is a fine and excellent movement. Yet for some reason the Government refuses to accept it. Although the Government has now accepted in principle that those restrictions which it placed are too high, and it has come back to a loan of $5,000 repayable over a period of 12 years, we point out that this is too high. The loan figure should drop back to §3,000 and we should have a look at it again.
The so-called champion of the credit unions, the DLP, is prepared to go along with the Government. I know how it deadlocked this matter last year, and then it went to water. The DLP is no more a supporter of the credit unions than are some of the Government supporters who have not heard the term before. They think that the credit union is creeping socialism and it ought to be opposed. I heard one Government member say: ‘We cannot support these credit unions. They support the Labor Party.’ How wrong they are. If one looks at the credit un.:on movement one sees that its greatest strength is in that particular section which doss not support the Labor Party. If the Government would only wake up to itself it would give the credit union movement as much support as it possibly could. But it does not. It is afraid of the credit union movement. Charges have been made that at the instigation of the private banking systems the Government placed a limitation on the credit union movement.
I believe this because for the first time the credit union movement started to appear on the list of financing bodies which is given in statistics. For the first time at the bottom of that list of financing institutions appeared the credit union movement. The private banking business does not like this. They are, incidentally, using ordinary people’s money and giving them 3i% interest. They transfer the money to their special fringe organisations and they lend it to the ordinary people who want to build a home at 18% simple interest, and sometimes 20% or 22%. as I have just stated.
I believe the Government ought to be ashamed of itself for not recognising a need and not recognising how these organisations operate.
– 1 call the Minister for Housing.
– Mr Chairman-
– I thought you. Senator Georges, had concluded your speech.
– No, I was merely moving towards my place in order to obtain some literature which 1 need to continue my speech. I did not notice that the Minister had risen.
– In that case you may continue your speech.
– 1 have here further support of what 1 am saying that the Government ought to be assisting the credit union movement, otherwise it is placing many young people in the hands of the hire purchase firms. Brother, these firms have been doing well. On the front page of ‘The Courier-Mail’ of Wednesday, 13th May we saw:
Finance firms to increase rales on all lending. Public, industry to pay more.
Further down the article it indicates that personal lending, lending on second mortgages, lending on bridging finance, will go up by 2% to 3%. This means 2% to 3% flat, which actually means 6% simple interest. Because of this costs go up further again. If the need was great yesterday then the need today is even greater because the hire purchase firms, the fringe banking organisations, are determined, as they have already stated, that they are going to increase their interest rates. 1 appeal to the Government to look again at this legislation and to accept the amendment moved by the Australian Labor Party which reduces the loan of not less than $7,000 to $3,000 and reduces the repayable period of not less than 12 years to 5 years, and to look al any other amendments which the Australian Labor Party is likely to propose.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.28] - 1 would like to refer to one or two points which have been raised. The first thing I wish to do is to take the minds of those in this chamber back in time, particularly Senator Georges who does not seem to recall the intention of this legislation.
– What is it?
– 1 will tell you because obviously, Senator, you just do not know. You have admitted what I have been trying to say to you. You just do not know the purpose of this legislation.
– What do you mean? You are not assisting anyone.
– Order! Senator Georges, you will cease interjecting while the Minister is speaking.
– The more he interjects the more he shows how little he knows about this legislation and how little he appreciates what has been done for the young people of Australia. The more he interjects the more the people of Australia will know how little he knows, and perhaps that is just as well. Now may I go on? I remind the honourable senator - I am giving him some information so that he will know a little more - that the homes savings grant has 2 principal purposes. It is good to remember this as we discuss it in committee tonight. The purposes are to encourage young people to save for the first home they own after marriage and to promote the savings of the major institutions which make relatively high ratio long term loans for the acquisition of a home. This point was put before the people by the then Prime Minister in November 1963 when the scheme was foreshadowed. He stipulated that the grant would be payable only in respect of those savings held in an identifiable account by an approved institution. The reason for this, of course, is to assist young people to save for their homes and to assist them to save in those institutions which make relatively high ratio and long term loans for the acquisition of a home and thus increase the volume of savings available for lending for home ownership. I emphasise the importance of this objective because, as Senator Little well said, it is on this that we base our whole discussions concerning this legislation.
I turn now to the amendment moved by Senator Poke. This is becoming rather a habit. Last time, as the honourable senator will recall, it was an amendment to an amendment. But again I refer, when considering this, to what might reasonably be done to permit savings with credit unions to be acceptable under the Homes Savings Grant Act. It becomes necessary to fix conditions which, while not unduly burdensome for the credit unions, nevertheless pay proper regard to the overall intention of the legislation. I have already placed this intention before the Senate tonight and this has been the purpose of this legislation since it first came into operation. The Government already makes some concessions to the credit unions in that the amount of $5,000 which I have moved tonight and to which objection is being taken by the Opposition is rather below the norm for maximum loans available from the major institutional lenders. I might mention in passing that a similar concession is offered in the repayment period. It is good that the honourable senator should be reminded of this. He will have noted that the Opposition amendments concentrate on the aspirations of the credit unions but we must remember, however, that the legislation is not for the benefit of the lending institutions but is meant to benefit the individual couples and the community at large. It is meant to benefit young people in the vital matter of being able to get housing finance in relatively large sums for long periods. Against that background the Government’s overall objectives and specific fixation of an amount of $5,000 are, I believe, clearly in the interests of the young home seekers and that, surely, is tremendously important. So the Government could not consider the suggestion made by the Opposition to reduce this amount from $5,000 to $3,000.
Now, let us look at the other amendment moved by the Opposition in which it seeks that the repayment period for the prescribed housing loan be reduced from 12 years to 5 years. I think I have already answered this in replying to the first amendment but I would like to spend a moment on it. The major objective of the homes savings grant scheme is to encourage savings with those institutions which make long term loans for the purchase or construction of homes. This, of course, has been the objective of this legislation right from when it first came into operation and the amendment proposed by the Opposition would not succeed with this objective and it is certainly not acceptable to the Government. We need to pause for a moment and think about the loans that are made. The bulk of loans made by the principal institutional lenders for housing are repayable over periods of from 15 years to 30 years and the average duration of an institutional housing loan is probably of the order of 12 years to 15 years. Loans that are repayable over such substantial periods enable people to acquire their own homes with regular repayments that are within their means and this, I think, is important.
Although the total amount that must be paid by a borrower is greater than where the loans are for shorter periods, the availability of long term loans does bring home ownership within the reach of many people who would otherwise simply not have the resources to contemplate home ownership. I would like to give Senator Georges a little illustration because he gave me, I recall, some sums. I would like to quote an example of the extent to which the regular repayments by borrowers is affected by the length of the repayment period. A loan of $5,000 at 7i% reducible interest requires a repayment of $23.70 a week if the loan is for 5 years and $12.40 if it is for 12 years. The same loan over a longer period of, say, 25 years requires a weekly repayment of $8.60. I think that these are all points that we should take into account when we consider the length of the repayment period. In this legislation what we arc endeavouring to do, as we have endeavoured to do and have done since this legislation was first introduced into this Parliament, is to assist young people to acquire their first home. I believe that the main purpose of this legislation is to assist them to save their money in those institutions which make long term high ratio loans. By doing this, I believe, we can best assist them in acquiring their first home after marriage. I do not feel that there would be any advantage in the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition. The Government opposes these 2 proposed alterations, a reduction in the amount of money and a reduction in the period of the loan.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) 19.37] - I cannot let the occasion go without commenting on the reply made by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) because 1 think it has been a most unsatisfactory one due to the Minister’s inability to grasp the points that have been raised by the Opposition. She attempted to belittle Senator Georges by saying he did not know what the Act was about. All that Senator Georges was trying to do was to show the workings of credit unions anc! to establish that they should receive some encouragement. It is no justification to say that we should simply dismiss his arguments because in the Minister’s opinion he has not a knowledge of the Act. He obviously has a knowledge of credit unions. At the present time when people are saving with credit unions the Minister does a disservice to them by insisting that young people withdraw their savings from credit unions to put them into a recognised establishment for the purpose of qualifying for a grant. That is the whole purpose of the Bill and what Senator Georges is saying is that this procedure is not right if that is their method of saving. I suggest that the Government has 2 objectives in mind in this legislation. I think we can concede Senator Georges’ point if the credit unions will meet the 2 objectives that the Government seeks to achieve by this Act. As the Minister said, the first objective of the legislation is to encourage young people to save for their first matrimonial home. Of course, the encouragement to save is the Government grant but the encouragement is there wherever they invest their money. But nevertheless we do not give them that grant unless they invest their savings in a particular deposit in a particular institution which will earmark this money for housing. The second objective is to make more money available for housing. There are the Government’s 2 objectives.
It cannot be denied that the encouragement for saving is the grant and that that encouragement is there wherever the savings are. But to make money available for housing the institutions which we accept as meeting the requirements of the Act must have certain qualifications. Of course, the savings bank institutions do not have to worry about the necessity to invest so much in prescribed loans, housing loans or anything else because in normal practice they invest so much. The condition that the Minister imposes on credit unions - I think it is legitimate - is that they must subscribe a certain amount of their income to home loans. That is the purpose of the Act. But the Minister has not told me what is to be achieved by the restrictions in the definition of prescribed housing loans that we have been discussing tonight. How does it achieve the Government’s purpose by pulling in the restrictions? For an organisation to qualify it has to invest at least $50,000 in housing. lt has to invest not less than 20% of its income in housing loans with strings.
How does it help people to save and how does it help more money to become available for homes by insisting that 15% of the loans that a credit union makes to its members must be under the condition that it is lent in amounts of not less than $7,000 repayable over a period of not less than 12 years? As Senator Little has said, it can be repaid in a lesser period if the borrower is in the fortunate position of finding his way clear to do that, but this is a restriction on the organisation. The term of the loan must be not less than 12 years. The restrictions that the Government imposes on the organisations will not achieve either of the 2 purposes that it seeks. The Minister has not replied to me. I asked how the qualification as to prescribed loans meets either one of the intentions that the Government has in this Bill. I should like an answer before the vote is taken.
- Senator Cavanagh has now asked this question twice. It is obvious to me that he is not reading the 2 clauses in their proper context, and that is why he is getting the wrong impression of them. The obvious reason why not less than 15% of the total amount lent by the credit union to its members during each subsequent financial year will be lent by way of prescribed housing loans is that this will cover those credit unions which are perhaps very large and where the $50,000 will not amount to that proportion of their lending for a particular year.
– What about the small credit unions.
– Senator Georges will learn by this. That makes the $50,000 the minimum. That is quite logical. I do not support the minimum of $50,000. I would have liked to have seen it lower but I realise
– Then why do you support it?
– I have told the honourable senator once and I will tell him again if he will listen. I support it because I realise that it is the best that I can get. I think that is a pretty practical reason for supporting it. If the honourable senator does not think so, then let him pursue the tactics he is pursuing and see for how long he delays the Bill and still does not achieve anything better than the minimum of $50,000. Senator Cavanagh has said that the $50,000 is there. That is all right. The 15% which must be lent by way of prescribed housing loans also is there. The purpose is obvious. From talking to credit unions I have learned that many of them can manage their $50,000 quite comfortably. The bigger ones which lend a lot more will have to lend more than $50,000. They will have to lend 15%. The total must be 15% of their total lending.
– It is 20%.
– That is for loans not for prescribed housing loans. One relates to housing loans and the other to prescribed housing loans. You must read the whole amendment with the other clauses and discover what is a prescribed housing loan which, if the Government amendment is carried, will now be of the order of $5,000. Those clauses are perfectly logical to attain the things that they are intended to attain. I think Senator Cavanagh would realise, when he understands that there are some credit unions which can lend more than $50,000, that the clauses are there for the sole purpose of seeing that the bigger credit unions lend still more for prescribed housing loans.
He, like I, wants to see the young people have still more and wider finance available to them. If there is one thing which will cut the cost of loans to young people trying to buy a house it is the fact that funds are readily available everywhere. Money is like every other commodity in thai respect. The scarcer it is to the borrower the more tendency there is for interest rates to increase. The Government has a very worthwhile objective in trying to increase at all times the amount of money that is available to young people who are seeking a loan. Senator Georges referred to extortionate interest rates. The only part of his argument with which I agree wholeheartedly refers to the wonderful work that the credit unions are doing. They are defeating some of the organisations that lend money at atrociously high rates of interest to people endeavouring to build a home.
I rose for only 1 reason - I know I am being enticed away from it - and that was to point out to Senator Cavanagh that there is a legitimate reason for those clauses. To read into them the reasons he does is to charge the Government with a lack of goodwill and good faith in this. I believe that the Government has its reasons. It now has seen its way clear to open the door a little wider, and at this stage I do not think we should charge the Government with a lack of goodwill because to do that is tantamount to saying that nothing should be done. 1 do not think that you get anything out of a government, an opposition or anyone else if you start kicking them in the face. I, for one, am prepared to accept the Government’s reasons although, perhaps, they are not completely acceptable to the credit unions. I would like to have in the Bill everything that the credit unions want. I am prepared to admit that the credit unions are a specific type of organisation, and they are prepared to admit that if they want to enter the field of housing they will have to change some of the things which have stood them in good stead in the past. Senator Georges was wrong when he referred to interest rates. The credit unions recognise that they have to amend some of their previous practices and the manner in which they have charged and have paid interest.
– Oh, come on.
– The Bill will force them to do it if they want to become eligible. They recognise that they will have to conform more to the practices of the larger lending institutions if they are to come within the ambit of this Bill. They feel that they are quite capable of doing that. In my view they are in the best position to know. I suggest to Senator Cavanagh that, in the context of what the Government is trying to achieve with this legislation, if he reads the 2 clauses to which he has objected, particularly that relating to the 15%. he will realise that the purpose for its being there is obvious.
– I rose earlier in the hope that the Minister would reply to the questions that I asked. I rise again in the hope that the Minister now will do that. 1 do not know whether Senator Little believed that there was some lack of confidence in the Minister when he decided to reply for her. He took over. I only hope that the Minister’s reply will have more information in it than Senator Little gave. He told us things about which I did not ask the Minister because they were so elementary that they were plain to everyone. Firstly, I did not ask the reason for the minimum of $50,000. I said that it was a guarantee that the credit unions would be investing in homes. Obviously” I. accept that some other protection is needed to ensure that the big organisations lend more than $50,000. We have that guarantee in the provision that not less than 20% of the total amount lent by a credit union to its members in the last financial year shall have been lent by way of housing loans.
– You are failing to recognise the difference between a housing loan and a prescribed housing loan.
- Mr Temporary Chairman. I seek your protection from this fox terrier who is yapping here without contributing anything of any value to the debate. I am trying to achieve some clarity on this matter, and this man is supporting the Government because he finds it profitable to do so and without seeking the details of the meaning of the legislation.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I rise to order. Firstly, is the honourable senator in order in referring to my colleague as a fox terrier? Secondly, is he in order in imputing improper motives to my colleague’s contribution to this debate and his attitude in this connection?
– The point of order is upheld.
– I withdraw. 1 have the greatest confidence in the canine-
Order! Senator Cavanagh, you will confine your remarks to the clause.
– To the clause, yes.
– At least he is loyal, which is more than we can say about you.
– Obviously Senator Little is loya! to the Government, as he has indicated tonight.
– The big organisations, because $50,000 would not be a proper amount for them to have to lend by way of housing loans, have to give a guarantee that they will lend 20% of their loans by way of housing loans. All housing loans are for the purchase of land for a residence or the purchase of a dwelling house. That is the very purpose for which the legislation is intended.
But then 15% of an organisation’s loans has to be tied up. It is not an additional 15%. The Bill says that 15% of the total amount lent by an organisation to its customers or members has to be tied up in loans with strings attached to them. Noone has told me why strings have to be attached to the loans when the very small organisations cannot come into the scheme because they cannot lend $50,000 a year and the bigger organisations have to lend in excess of $50,000 a year by way of housing loans and have to make 20% of their loans to members by way of housing loans. Why is it necessary for at least 15% of the total amount lent to be in the form of loans of not less than $5,000 repayable over a period of not less than 12 years? Great benefit could be conferred on young people seeking homes if they could utilise their credit unions for the purpose of obtaining a second mortgage.
The only purpose in imposing restrictions on the form of housing loan is to restrict the credit unions. This represents the Government’s opposition to credit unions. The lifting of the restrictions the Government imposes would do nothing to destroy the purpose of this Bill. It would encourage people to save. The grant encourages people to save. It would make money available for housing because the credit unions have to lend at least$50,000 a year by way of housing loans and, if they are bigger organisations, 20% of their lending must be by way of housing loans, irrespective of the conditions of those loans. This is not an assistance to the borrower; it is a restriction on the lender.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.55] - I regret that Senator Cavanagh thought that I did not want to reply to him. I was endeavouring to treat him with courtesy. When he stood up I was prepared to let him speak before me. The position was not that I did not intend to stand up and have my say; I can assure him of that. First of all, let us look at the legislation, bearing in mind that its main purpose is to make available relatively large long term loans for housing. Let us look at the first point Senator Cavanagh raised - the definition of housing loan’. The Bill states: housing loan’ means a loan made, at a rate of interest not exceeding seven and one-half per centum per annum … for or in connection with any one or more of the following purposes:
So housing loans are for a variety of purposes connected with housing. Then the definition of ‘prescribed housing loan’ reads: prescribed housing loan’ means a housing loan for an amount of not less than Five thousand dollars repayable over a period of not less than 12 years.
That is where we have provision for a relatively large long term loan. In order to ensure that we achieve the benefit that is the purpose of the legislation, we provide that:
Those are the bigger loans repayable over a period of not less than 12 years. This is of benefit to the young couple who are endeavouring to obtain a home. That is the whole purpose of the legislation.
– How does it benefit them, whether the loan is for $5,000 or $1,000 and over a period of 12 years or 12 months?
– Of course it benefits them, as I have explained earlier. They receive the benefit of a relatively large long term loan. This is the whole purpose of the legislation. We show that we wish to continue to assist in this regard by ensuring that not less than 15% of the loans made by an organisation are prescribed housing loans, which are the bigger loans repayable over a period of not less than 12 years.
The the amendment (Senator Poke’s) to the proposed requested amendment (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question - that the request for amendment be agreed to - resolved in the affirmative.
– I indicate now that I propose to move 2 further amendments. Each refers to the limit of $50,000 to be placed on credit unions for housing loans. I seek guidance as to whether the amendments should be taken together or dealt with separately.
– Is it the wish of the Committee that the proposed amendments be taken together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– Proposed section 4b. (4.) reads:
The Secretary shall not approve a credit union unless -
he is satisfied that -
the total amount that was lent by the credit union to its members during thai financial year by way of housing loans was not less than Fifty thousand dollars;
the credit union has given him an understanding in writing that -
the total amount that will be lent by inc credit union to its members during each subsequent financial year by way of housing loans will be not less than Fifty Thousand dollars. 1 move:
Leave out sub-paragraph (iii) of paragraph (a) of sub-section (4.).
Leave out sub-paragraph (iii) of paragraph (b) of sub-section (4.).
I do not have much to add in explanation of why we seek the proposed amendments but 1 do wish to say that we have had consultations with the credit unions. Senator Little said that we are not up lo dale with our information on this Bill or on its provisions which relate to credit unions. I advise the Committee that representatives of the credit unions suggested to the Labor Party that it would be in the interests of both the credit unions and persons seeking loans covered by the Homes Savings Grant Act to delete the limit of $50,000 to enable credit unions to advance a certain amount of money in bridging finance. This is the important point. Bridging finance has to be found to cover the gap between a deposit and a loan, or even a second loan on a house.
I sincerely hope that Senator Little will support the Opposition on this occasion. From the indication that Senator Little has given it seems that I have my answer immediately. We proposed an amendment to the amendment which Senator Little was so kind as to throw at the Labor Party. On each occasion that he has had an opportunity to throw something at us on this issue he has done so. We mentioned in the amendment we proposed that the limitation of $50,000 by way of housing loans made and undertaken by credit unions should be eliminated or reduced. There has been no proposal by the Government either to reduce or to eliminate that amount. The Labor Party therefore has no alternative but to seek the deletion of the relevant clause. 1 suggest to the Minister that the safeguards which she has said should be included in the legislation are contained in the proposed section (4.) (a) (i) and (ii). Senator Cavanagh said during his speech that the provision we are now considering does not affect the Government. That is true, lt affects credit unions and their members. One would think that the Government would welcome the participation of the credit unions in this type of legislation. The Minister referred to the intention of the Government when it introduced the homes savings grant legislation. 1 agree with the Minister. 1. think that this is good legislation and I wholeheartedly support it. Nevertheless, 1 would like to see it improved and that is the sole intention of the Opposition in bringing forward its proposed amendments. The greater the amount of money that can bc used in the homes savings grant scheme, the more our young people will be helped, to use the Minister’s words, to obtain their first matrimonial home. It is our desire to do this. I hope that the Minister will not take the view that the Opposition is merely trying to gain a political point against the Government. We do not sink to that level although Senator Little accuses us of doing so.
I suggest that so far as my own Slate of Tasmania is concerned there will not be one credit union in the whole of the State which will be able to participate under the conditions of the Bill. I may be wrong because I am not an authority on credit unions, but I have had discussions with a number of representatives of credit unions in Tasmania who have told me, when we have discussed this type of legislation, that it was their opinion that there was not a credit union in Tasmania which would be able to qualify under the conditions laid down in this legislation. I suggest that the Government should appreciate the participation of the credit unions in this scheme and the benefits which may flow, not only to the credit unions themselves but also to the members because the office bearers and employees of the credit unions are interested only in giving their members service. 1 want to return to the amendment which I moved to the motion for the second reading of the Bill. Senator Little has accused us of trying to take political advantage of this measure and he went on to say that we had moved an amendment to an amendment. We did do this; it was done by leave of the Government. But Senator Little is endeavouring to discredit the Labor Party because he is not in possession of the facts. it will bc recalled that the Bill was introduced in this place on 21st April, on which date the second reading speech was delivered.
– When was it introduced into the House of Representatives?
– lt was introduced into the House of Representatives on 5th March and introduced in this place on 21st April. The Government wished to have the measure debated on 22nd April, 26 hours after the motion for the second reading. As 1 was in charge of the Bill for the Opposition I indicated that 1 was not ready to go on at that time, lt had been the practice and it is the practice of the Government normally to allow a Bill to lie for 1 week before the Opposition is expected to debate it. I had assumed that the principle which had been established would be followed on this occasion and I had not given the Bill my particular attention. However, on 22nd April the Government agreed that the debate on the matter should be deferred. But then it wanted to bring it on again on 23rd April. I had commitments which took me away from the Parliament on 23rd April and so i could not go on with thi debate on that day. We then went into recess. When we came back the Government brought it on again and we debated it.
On those occasions when the Bill was before this chamber - on 21st. 22nd and 23rd April - although our first amendment had been moved we had not been approached by the credit unions to bring forward an amendment lo the proposed legislation. We had simply moved as an amendment what had been moved in another place. Before the debate on the Homes Savings Grant Bill resumed in this place we were approached by the credit unions to amend our amendment. This is where Senator Little says that we are not in touch with the feelings and desires of the credit unions. This is the reason why, after consultation with the credit unions, we brought forward our amendment lo the amendment! I do not see anything wrong with that, and I am sure that Senator Little would not see anything wrong with it if the Democratic Labor Party were bringing forward the amendment. But in this instance, m order to gain a bit of political advantage and because the proceedings of this chamber are being broadcast tonight, he has tried to rubbish the Labor Party. The real reason is that he thinks we have stolen his thunder.
But as I said earlier, the credit union representatives came here to Parliament House and canvassed every political party. It became a matter of which political party could get in first to gain the greatest advantage for the credit unions - not for themselves. The Labor Party would not stoop to this. However, we did want to assist the credit unions. We did that by bringing forward an amendment to our amendment of the motion for the second reading. We move the amendments now in Committee to get a wider participation of the credit unions in the scheme operated under this piece of legislation.
- I shall be very brief. I wish only lo indicate how the Democratic Labor Party feels about the proposed amendment. We would certainly have liked to have seen the figure left at 15% rather than have a specific amount mentioned.
– Well, why not move that?
Sena lor LITTLE - As I said, 1 intend to be brief. 1 wish the honourable senator would allow me to be brief. As I said earlier in the debate, other things have to be considered in relation to this legislation. I think that Senator Poke in giving the history of this legislation has indicated the reason why at this stage the Democratic Labor Party feels that there should be no Further unnecessary delays which will accomplish nothing. There are other benefits from this
Bill which people are waiting to get and which have been delayed long enough while the Parliament has been in recess. The House of Representatives gave consideration to an amendment which achieved nothing which is not already contained in the measure now before us.
Senator Poke was probably right when he said that the credit unions canvassed all political parties. Representatives of the credit unions came to me. At that time they had no knowledge of what the Bill meant, but now perhaps we all know more about it than when we started. I advised them to look at a certain wording of the Bill, which they did and in relation to which they suggested certain amendments. For Senator Poke’s information, the credit unions have not been out of touch with me since. They certainly would have liked the $50,000 not to be mentioned in the legislation, but when we consider the amount of $5,000 for a prescribed housing loan we realise that they must make 10 loans each of $5,000 in order to reach the amount of $50,000. If the credit unions are big enough to do that they will probably reach the 15% proposed in > the clause and automatically would have the amount necessary for prescribed housing loans. If the reference to $50,000 were deleted from the clause the result would probably be no different from the situation if the 15% still remained. However, in practical politics, the obvious thing is that as the amendment has been rejected in another place there is no prospect of achieving it here. All that will be achieved will be delay. I put this to Senator Poke quite fairly and honestly. He knows that this is true in practical politics. It will delay the legislation for probably another month. I do not see that that will do any good at all. It is for that reason, rather than for any other reason, that we do not support the Labor Party’s amendment. I note the complete futility in endeavouring to delay the legislation at this stage. The subject of the amendment was placed very strongly before the Government in my speech during the second reading debate, and subsequent to my speech the Labor Party placed the matter before the Government in its amended amendment. If perhaps I drew the wrong conclusion as to why the amendment was introduced at that stage, what does that matter now? I do not think I drew the wrong conclusion.
– You did.
– Perhaps I have learned some bad habits from the Labor Party, and the reasons that I have attributed to them are the sort of reasons that they wish to attribute to us. Indeed, Senator Poke has just attributed those reasons to me in his argument in support of the amendment to the clause. We do not propose to support the amendment at this stage because we believe that all that could be accomplished by doing so would be to delay still further legislation that already has been too long delayed. The Government is introducing an entirely new field into the homes savings grant legislation which, of necessity, must be of a somewhat experimental character. We would think that in line with the good faith which the Government has now shown in opening the door a little wider, by its own proposed amendment to the- original clause, if this clause proves in actual practice to be excessive, the Government will take the necessary action to amend the clause.
The Government has shown its good faith in reducing the original amount of the prescribed housing loan from $7,000 to $5,000, which, according to the credit unions, was the biggest bar to their participation in the scheme. Because of its very character, this Bill is an experimental piece of legislation. It includes a whole new field of credit unions as organisations that are acceptable for the purposes of the homes savings grant scheme. I am confident that the Government will extend the scheme further if it proves necessary to include a greater number of credit unions. It is for those reasons that we do not support the amendment. It is not because of any lack of sympathy with the original desires of the people who wanted to delete the requirement that a credit union must lend $50,000 a year for purposes in connection with the acquisition of homes but who now, I understand, are prepared to give the legislation a go for the purpose of getting it made the law of the land.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.23] - I rise after Senator Poke and Senator Little have spoken to indicate that the Government cannot accept the amendment moved by Senator Poke. I think that we have to look at the whole purpose of the legislation, as we have already done tonight.
Credit unions seek to have their savings accepted for the purposes of the homes savings grant scheme so that their members can share in the benefits of the scheme. It is for this reason, 1 believe, that credit unions should be fairly asked to understand the scheme’s objectives, which have been discussed tonight. Credit unions are asked to contribute to the scheme by making loans available for housing, lt is also reasonable to ask the credit unions, if they are willing to contribute to the scheme’s objectives, to do so in a practical way.
Senator Little has made the point very clearly - and I make it again - that surely the $50,000 requirement is not too onerous to achieve in practice. A credit union need make only 10 loans of $5,000 each, or 8 loans of $5,000 and a number of smaller loans. This is a practical way in which credit unions could make loans available for housing and so achieve the requirement. 1 believe that by including this requirement in the legislation we are ensuring that we guarantee the purpose of the legislation. I appreciate the point that Senator Poke made, when he said that he thought this was good legislation. 1 appreciate the point that Senator Little made, when he also said he thought that it was good legislation, and the further point he made when he said he thought it would be a good thing if we could get the legislation through the Parliament so that people can benefit from it. I suggest that if the passage of the legislation can be made a little speedier, it will be of advantage to those who will benefit from it. I again indicate that 1 cannot support the amendment moved by Senator Poke.
– I bow to the inevitable, particularly since the Australian Democratic Labor Party has indicated its attitude so unequivocally, but let it not disillusion anyone. The DLP, by its support of the Government, has indicated that it does not understand or support the credit union movement. This is perfectly clear. The talk of members of the DLP about the result of postponement or delay in the introduction of the legislation indicates that at this stage they are not prepared to fight a battle on behalf of the credit union movement. The $50,000 barrier - and I call it a barrier - which has been placed on credit unions is not a condition that is imposed for 1 year. It requires the making of 10 loans of $5,000 each for 1 year. But it must be realised that credit unions must maintain this rate for, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 years. A credit union has to grow at a rate which will enable it to lend $250,000 in 5 years. That is beyond the ability of the small credit unions. I say again that the Government’s action, together with that of the DLP, denies justice to the small credit unions that are providing a service to the community.
We would be prepared to accept the proposition which was indicated in passing by Senator Little, that perhaps this clause ought to indicate that 15% of the amount of money held by credit unions should be channelled in the direction of housing or prescribed housing. If this were done, having made credit unions eligible to accept the savings of youngsters, the credit unions would grow rapidly to the stage at which they would be lending $50,000 a year for housing. But by imposing this $50,000 barrier, it excludes the smaller credit unions and, what is more, it prohibits them from ever reaching the position where they would be able to lend $50,000 a year for housing. lt is no use honourable senators leaving this chamber without knowing clearly that this is the case.
Our amendment seeks to delete the clauses which impose the $50,000 barrier. By doing this 1 think we would show that we properly appreciate the role of credit unions in our society, and it would place no limitation on them, if you invest in a credit union you will find that its lending is directed in some means towards the home. I have said this before and 1 say it again: Funds of credit unions are not used for the establishment of businesses or profit making concerns. They are directed towards improving the economic position of the ordinary person. Ninety per cent of a credit union’s lending is directed towards making a home. Therefore, I do not think it is even necessary at this stage to indicate that some proportion of a credit union’s money ought to be directed in this specific way. Nevertheless, 1 should have thought that the members of the DLP would have proposed another amendment which undoubtedly we would have supported. This shows, perhaps, their lack of sincerity in this direction. They have merely assisted the Government in spite of their previous intention to support the credit union movement. Their claim of support of the movement has been revealed here tonight as being of no account.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) express my support for the request for the amendment and to give my opinion on what the Government seeks to do by clause 5. As we know, clause 5 seeks to insert section 4B. The proposed section 4B.(4.) (a) (iii) will have no application at all to the big credit union 20% of whose lending to its members in the previous year exceeded $50,000. In the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill it was said that there were many credit unions whose 20% of tendings to their members was in excess of $50,000. Under proposed section 4b (4.) (a) (i) not less than 20% of the total amount that was lent by the credit union to its members during the last financial year of the credit union that ended before the date of the application for approval had to be lent by way of housing loans. Sub-paragraph (iii) will have no application to those credit unions. Those whose 20% of lendings did not exceed $50,000 will have to lend in excess of 20% for housing. Sub-paragraph (iii) will apply to housing loans and not to prescribed housing loans. No strings are attached to it. The smaller credit unions whose 20% of tendings did not exceed $50,000 will have to lend a bigger percentage to qualify under the scheme. This has no purpose. It adds no value to the Government’s purpose of ensuring that money is lent for housing, to encourage people to save for their first matrimonial home and adds no greater value by ensuring that more money is made available for homes. Again it is an attack upon the small credit unions. No matter what percentage they lend or how many loans they make, the small credit unions cannot participate under this scheme. I think that must be accepted.
These sub-paragraphs which are sought to be deleted have no purpose other than keeping out of the scheme the small credit unions. The Australian Labor Party thinks the credit unions play an essential part in contributing to home building and that they should be in the scheme. Therefore we seek deletion of the minimum of $50,000. Apparently the Democratic Labor Party senators agree with us on that, but they say that the other benefits ofthe scheme are not worth delaying for the purpose of achieving this principle. We think we owe an obligation to the small credit unions. The DLP is entitled to its opinion. If the Senate accepted the amendment, the Bill in its amended form would go to the House of Representatives which would decide whether to accept or reject the amendment. Senator Little seemed to think that, because the House of Representatives rejected similar amendments before, it would reject this amendment and send the Bill back here. He seemed to think that now is the time to consider whether we should sacrifice the Bill by insisting on this principle for the protection of small credit unions. At present, whatever the other benefits of the Bill are, we think that it could be delayed a further 3 weeks so that small credit unions, which are deliberately excluded by the subparagraphs, which are sought to be deleted, can be included in the scheme.
That the requests (Senator Poke’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to with a request.
Bill reported with a request; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 12 May (vide page 1303) on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 1)1 970-71
Debate resumed from 12 May (vide page 1 360), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I rise on the motion for the first reading of this supply Bill to reply to some of the matters which were mentioned yesterday in the course of the debate. 1 think the debate, which was on the question of the Moratorium activities of last week, was initiated by Senator Cavanagh; butI feel that it would be useful for the Senate to reflect upon some of the activities which have occurred over the past week and certainly to reflect upon some of the things which were said during the debate in the Senate yesterday by members of the Australian Labor Party. When one considers some of the things which were said yesterday one will find that there is a striking revelation as to where the bias and the sympathy of the members of the Australian Labor Party who spoke yesterday ready lie.
We had initially from Senator Cavanagh the bald statement that the Vietcong flag has more respect than the flag of the United States of America. In the context in which he said that, he was asserting that the Russianflag and the flag of China have more respect throughout the world than the Australian flag. When a statement like that is made it indicates a clear preference on the part of the person who makes it for the flag of an aggressor country. He said also that the attitude of supporters of the Government during the past week had been one of hoping that violence would come about. He said that, with the support of the Government, fear was being created. I think it is fair to say that the record of what we said in this chamber last week and in the week preceding it will indicate that what we said was not that violence would come about - this has not been said - but that when there is in a mass demonstration of the type which was seen in our capital cities last week associated with the doctrine that a person has the right to break any law which he regards as objectionable there is in those facts a tremendous potential for violence.
– Why did it not occur?
– We had also from Senator Georges a statement, which was completely untrue, to the effect thatI and other persons who had sought to expose certain facts about the Moratorium were inciting to violence. There was also from Senator O’Byrne a clear indication of the tactic which he feels is achieved by a Moratorium of the type which took place last week. The tactic to which he adverted with some feeling and support was that if these activities are engaged in there will be humiliation and a weakening of government which is strong in its resistance of aggression. Then the statement was somewhat baldly made that there has been tremendous support for this Moratorium. I think it is useful to bear in mind that when this Moratorium was first mooted in November 1969 the spokesmen who announced the original decision, which was made in Canberra on 25th November, said that they expected to have 500,000 people on the streets of Australia.
– So they did.
– According to even the most generous estimates of some newspapers of the people who were in the streets of the capital cities last Friday, the number would not reach 100,000, which means that there is no support when less than 1% of the community is concerned to indicate its feelings. When onelinks what is a far more representative sample of popular feeling with what happened last Friday one can put into really true perspective the minimal support which this Moratorium, after weeks and months of feverish activity, was able to muster.
Gallup poll figures indicate that 19% of the Australian community wants Australian troops to remain in Vietnam without any withdrawal at all until the original objective is achieved; that 52% agree with the Government’s present policy of withdrawing as the occasion and the situation in Vietnam permit; and that only 25% favour the policy which is being currently espoused by the Australian Labor Party, contrary to its own policy, of immediate withdrawal of troops from Vietnam. I think the gallup poll results indicate where public opinion in this country really lies. As I have said previously, and I still say now, it will be a sorry day for Australia if the tactics of the Moratorium - the espousal of a doctrine that democracy can be in some way expressed by mob rule on the streets - ever wins any public acceptance.
During the course of the debate yesterday we had - again from Senator Georges - some of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations which pervade the whole of the Australian Labor Party’s case on this issue. He said - and I am sure that he could never convince Australians of this - that Australia has always been supporting the enemies of democracy. He said that we are always supporting the enemies of true peace. When expressions like that are used in what is one of the freest, truest democracies in the world it is an indication that the whole sympathy of one Labor Party Senator in this place is with people who are completely opposed to the principles of freedom and democracy which are characteristic of Australia. He said also, as I recall, that Australia was not at war, but that what was happening in Vietnam was an illegal war. Leaving aside the inconsistency of those 2 statements, I point out that they represent part of what is endeavoured to be sold to the people of Australia not by any logic and not by any reasoning but simply by the constant repetition of something which is totally untrue.
We have also the statement which was given tremendous prominence in the newspapers last Saturday morning that Dr J. F. Cairns had claimed a great victory. What was the victory he claimed? It was not a victory in numbers because the original hope was that half a million people would be demonstrating. Fewer than 20% of that number demonstrated. So that was not the victory Dr Cairns claimed. It certainly was not the fact that there was no violence because if we are to believe what he said for weeks beforehand there was to be no violence. So that was not the victory he was claiming. The victory he must have been claiming was the fact that there was an expression of opinion by some thousands of people which would be emblazoned in the newsprint and on the television media throughout the world to lend some encouragement to the North Vietnamese forces. That is the use which will be made of this. I suggest this was the real victory he was claiming and it is to be read in conjunction with his statement which was reported in the Press last Monday that he felt that right and morality were on the side of the Vietcong and the Government of Hanoi. When that is coupled with his public statement made at the Moratorium demonstration that what had started will not be the first and only occasion when this will happen, but there will be successive occasions all leading to the defeat of the current Government, then we see there is a vast political exercise which is being pursued in the name of peace in order to bring some innocent and unthinking people behind it. It is designed to propagate a view which he says is the morality and the cause of the Vietcong and the Government of Hanoi.
When one examines in retrospect what has taken place 1 think one should reflect upon these things. The first thing is that the demonstrations which took place in the streets of Australia last Friday reflect the? essential freedom and democracy of this country. This sort of conduct would not be tolerated in Hanoi or in any Communist country where, as I said, the bias and sympathy of so many members of the Australian Labor Party seem to lie. What was allowed to take place in this country last Friday is essentially part of the freedom which characterises our society. I say that notwithstanding that it was a denial by the view of the rights of a majority, notwithstanding that it was a usurpation of the streets by a few determined to protest, irrespective of the inconvenience which they caused to other citizens. The second aspect upon which I think reflection may be made is that no major incident took place in the course of the Moratorium demonstrations. Of course there were incidents but there were no major incidents. For that I am sure wc are all thankful.
– They did their best to provoke the police in many places.
– I agree with Senator Gair, judging by reports which I have read in the Press. I think it is important to recognise that what happened on the streets of Australia last Friday was contrary to the original intention of those who promoted this Moratorium Campaign. As a result. I think, of the activities of people in this Parliament who exhibited a sense of responsibility and on the part of newspapers which recognised the dangers implicit in all that was involved in this Moratorium Campaign, people had second thoughts as to whether they would achieve anything if they adhered to their original intention. One should not forget that when the Communist Party indicated its initial support of this Moratorium Campaign in a national executive statement made on 28th January this year it was calling for something more militant than the traditional march. It indicated that there should be no limitation on militancy involved in the demonstrations. What was meant by this statement? Surely it was something more than what took place because I suppose one could characterise the demonstrations last Friday as something less than the traditional peace marches. I suppose some decision was made in the higher echelons of the Moratorium Campaign organisers that as a result of the publicity which had taken place they would not adhere to their original plan.
I know that within the universities, and certainly the Monash University in Melbourne, there were plans for much more active militancy than in fact took place last Friday. The reason why this did not take place was because at some stage after the organisers had been preparing their snake dances and other activities for some weeks a decision was made, or a decision was passed down which they accepted, that this was not the appropriate time to engage in an activity which was not only provocative but which, by its very nature, was liable to cause disturbance. Dr Cairns initially said that he could not guarantee that the demonstration’s would be non-violent. He protested that he would be peaceful. I do not doubt that he intended that and sincerely meant it. Initially he stated that he could not guarantee that there would be non-violence. So in that statement he anticipated or he believed that there was to be something different from what actually took place. I believe there was a toning down of the programme of the Moratorium Campaign because there was a fear of what would otherwise be the result.
It is interesting to reflect upon other demonstrations which have taken place in the streets of Melbourne, in particular, over the past 2 years. They started off to be nonviolent. They were said by the original sponsors to be non-violent. There have been scenes witnessed in Melbourne in the demonstration outside the United States consulate never before experienced. The Friday demonstrations proved - I think this is a point of reflection - that if the organisers of these demonstrations want them to be non-violent they can make them non-violent. If they want them to be violent all they have to do is omit certain precautions, certain steps which they took last Friday, and they will obtain the desired results. Possibly the most obvious step which was taken last Friday, at least in the Melbourne demonstration, was the appearance of so called marshals who were identified by white arm bands and who walked alongside the mass of the marchers, determined to prevent any outbreak by them and equally determined to prevent any provocation by bystanders on the streets. These marshals were obviously appointed by the Moratorium Campaign organisers. I have no doubt they contributed to the ultimate result. But the point is that there was never any mention at any stage that these people were to be appointed. One can only be thankful that they were there. But implicit in the existence of these marshals are dangers of which I think we should be aware.
Last Sunday night Dr Cairns was interviewed on television. He was asked about these marshals. He was asked his views as to whether there was, in effect, a substitute police force being created. He has made a statement which is as remarkable for its naivety as it is for its selective historical background. He said that the right to enforce law rests with the citizens, that the police are, in effect, but a recent temporary historical occasion. As he said it, every citizen has the right to enforce the law and these marshals were doing no more than exercising citizens’ rights. I think arguments such as that might suitably have been addressed to the old-time vigilantes of the United States because when people take the enforcement of the law into their own hands and outside lawful authority in an endeavour to create what amounts to a substitute police force they take another step which can be used by those who desire to utilise such forces for unlawful purposes.
I think it is a dangerous step. It is a step which ought to be recognised for what it is.
Maybe last Friday was a testing time of unlawful forces which can be used for good as they can bc used for evil. When we associate this with the doctrine that citizens have a right to disobey any laws which they please and couple that with the view that democracy and decisions equal or greater in importance than decisions of the Parliament can be made in the streets, we have for the very first time in this country the emergence of a philosophy and a doctrine which can be used if people wish to do so for nothing less than revolutionary purpose. If that be regarded as an extravagant remark then I ask honourable senators to consider each step in what has been said in the past few weeks and to look at what can be the consequences of those steps taken together and to say whether what I am saying is so far removed from reality. There is one other fact which I feel is of equal significance. It has been adverted to in the course of this debate. That is the presence of so many Red flags, so many Soviet flags-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Byrne) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
Thai the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to refer briefly to a comment made by Senator Greenwood that the statement I made that our intervention in Vietnam was illegal was wrongly based and inaccurate and that it in some ways reflected on my knowledge of the subject. I wish to refer him to a book which he, as one of the legal profession and one who seems to have achieved some qualification in that direction, ought to read before he makes wild statements concerning the legality of the intervention in Vietnam. I suggest that Senator Young read it also
– I bet it is printed in red ink.
– It is not printed in red ink. The name of the book is ‘Vietnam and International Law’. The foreword states:
The Lawyers Committee on American Policy Towards Vietnam was formed after the Department of State in March 1965 issued its memorandum, ‘Legal Basis for United States Actions Against North Vietnam.’ The Committee prepared a Memorandum of Law entitled, ‘American Policy Vis-a-Vis Vietnam,’ which, as far as we are aware, constituted one of the first scrutinies of the American policy from the viewpoint of its international and constitutional legality. The Memorandum was inserted into the Congressional Record . . .
If Senator Greenwood continues in this vein it ought to be included in the record here also -
Now, just in case honourable senators still think that this book was written in red ink - the inference by Senator Young was that it was a Communist publication - let us look at the eminent figures who constituted the Committee.
– First of all, who is the author of the book?
– The preface is by Richard A. Falk.
– No, I want the author of the book.
– The book is entitled ‘Vietnam and International Law’. The sub-title is ‘The Illegality of United States Military Involvement’, and tha editor is John H. E. Fried. It is the work of a consultative council of lawyers committee on American policy towards Vietnam. There is a series of articles by a number of prominent lawyers. I was about to read the names of these people so that they can be included in the record.
– There would not be 500 or them, would there?
– No, there are not. They would all have qualifications superior to those of Senator Greenwood and superior to those of any of the people whom the Government set up as experts on this matter. But it is of no use for the Government to continue to infer that our intervention in Vietnam is legal under international law. We have endeavoured to justify it and it cannot be justified. The membership of the committee was as follows:
Richard A. Falk, Chairman. LL.B. (Yale). J.S.D. (Harvard). Albert O. Milbank Prof, of Internat’l Law and Practice, Princeton Univ. Has served as consultant to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Law Fund, etc. - Member, Exec. Council, Am. Society of Internal Law; member, Editorial Board, ‘Am. Journal of Internat’l Law’. Co-Editor, ‘World Polities’. Assoc. Editor, ‘Journal of Conflict Resolution’. Counsel. Ethiopia and Liberia, ‘South West Africa Cases’. Internat’l Court of Justice. - Member of New York Bar; member, Internat’l Law Committee of the Bar Assoc. of the City of New York.- Books: The Role of Domestic Courts in the International Legal Order’ (1964); ‘Law, Morality and War in the Contemporary World’ (1963). Co-Editor, The Strategy o! World Order’. 4 vols., (1966): Security in Disarmament’ (1965).
John H. ie. Fried, Rapporteur, Ph.D. (Columbia), LL.D. (Vienna). Adjunct Prof, of Political Science-
– We have a bloke called Bennett like that in South Australia.
– All right, 1 will read the whole lot. It continues: . . City University of New York (City College). Previously, New York Univ.; Inst, of Social Research. Columbia Univ.; collaborator, Brookings Institution project, ‘Financing the U.N. System’; etc. - United Nations expert on internal 1 law (Legal Adviser to the Gov’t, of Nepal, (‘1964-1966); Consultant (1950-51), Legal Officer 11952-54), United Nations; Senior official, inter-nat’l Labor Office (Montreal, 1944-7). Expert, Judge Advoc. General’s Office, Dept. of the Army (1949-50); Special Legal Consultant, U.S. War Crimes Tribunals, Nuernberg (1947-49). Books: “lbc United Nations System, (Vol. 1. Worldmark Encyclopaedia 1963); etc. Co-author. Annual Review of U.N. Affairs’ (1955-1957); etc. Co-editor & co-author, “The Third Reich’ (UNESCO symposium) (1953); co-editor (as the Tribunals’ representative), ‘Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals*. 14 vols. (1950-53).
All of these people say that the intervention of the U.S. in Vietnam was illegal. The next one is:
Richard j. Barnet, LL.B. (Harvard). CoDirector. Institute for Policy Studies, Washington, D.C. - Previously, Advisor on Internat’l Law, Headquarters U.S. Army, Europe;
That takes him out of the Red category. It continues: . . Special Assistant, U.S. Dept. of State; Deputy Director, Office of Policy Research, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Consultant, U.S. Dept. of Defense; World Law Fund.
Honourable senators ought to be careful now, this next qualification will bring out the suspicion. It continues: - Fellow, Russian Research Center, Harvard Univ.; Research Assoc., Center of Internat’l
Studies, Princeton Univ. - Member of Massachusetts and Federal Bars. Adviser, American Law Institute. - Books: ‘Who Wants Disarmament? (i960); co-author, ‘After Twenty Years’. The Decline of NATO and the Search for a New Policy in Europe’ (1965); co-editor, ‘Security in Disarmament’ (1965).
– Can you give us an idea of how much you are going to read?
– Are you prepared to accept the qualifications?
– 1 am prepared to accept the names, so incorporate them.
– I am prepared merely to read the names of the men who follow but I was incited to read the qualifications of every one of these men because Senator Young foolishly indicated that these people would be - shall we say - Communist orientated and therefore their opinions would be suspect and the only way that one can counter such an accusation is by reading the qualifications of the men who are on this committee. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the names of the remaining members of the committee and their qualifications:
John H. Herz LL.D. (Cologne), Diplome (Institut Universitaire de Haines Etudes Internationales, Geneva). Professor of International Relations, City Univ. of New York (City College). Visiting Prof., Columbia Univ., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, etc. Member, Institute for Advanced study, Princeton Univ. Consultant, Rand Corp.; Political Analyst, U.S. State Dept. and Office of Strategic Services. Fullbright Fellow (Free University, Berlin). - Books: ‘Nationalsocialist Doctrine of International law’ (Zurich, 1938); ‘Political Realism and Political Idealism’ (1951) (This book received the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award of the Am. Political Science Assoc.); ‘International Politics in the Atomic Age’ (1959); co-author; ‘Major Foreign Powers’ (latest ed., 1967); ‘Government and Politics in the Twentieth Century’ (latest ed., 1965).
Sta’nley Hoffmann, Diplome, Institut d’Etudes Poliliques (Paris), M.A. (Harvard), Dr of Law (Paris). Prof, of Government, Harvard Univ. - Research Associate, Centre for Internat’l Affairs, Harvard Univ.; Associate, Kennedy Institute of Politics.- Books: ‘The State of War’ (1965); ‘Organisations Internationales et Pouvoirs Politiques des Etats’ (1954); etc. Co-author, ‘In Search of France’ (1963); Editor, ‘Contemporary Theory in International Relations’ (1960).
Wallace McClure, LL.B. (Univ. of Tennesee Ph.D. (Columbia). Advisor (1958-64: Consulting Director), World Rule of Law Center, Duke Univ. - Previously, Lecturer on Internat’l Law, Univ. of Dacca and Karachi (Pakistan), Duke Univ.,
Univ. of Virginia; member, Faculty of Am. Internat’l College, assigned to U.S. Air Force (Dharan; Dean, Overseas Div.; Prof., Bermuda). - U.S. Dept. of State 1920- 19S1 (incl. assignments at Montevideo Conf. of American States; U.S. Legation, Stockholm; Ass’t. Chief, Treaty Division). - Member of the Knoxville, Tenn and Federal Bars.- Rapporteur, ‘The U.S. in the U.N.’, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace. - Books: ‘World Legal Order. Possible Contributions by the People of the United States’ (1960) ; ‘International Executive Agreements’ (1941); etc.
Saul H. Mendovitz J.D. (Chicago). Professor of Law, Rutgers School of Law, State Univ. of New Jersey. - Member, Executive Council, Am. Society of Internat’l Law. - Research Associate, Centre of Internat’l Studies, Princeton Univ., Univ. of Chicago Law School. Visiting Scholar, Harvard Law School. Consultant, Harvard Grad School of Education; World Law Fund; etc. - Member of Illinois Bar. - Books: ‘Legal and Political Problems of World Order’ (1962); co-editor, The Strategy of World Order’, 4 vols. (1966).
Richard S. Miller, LL.M. (Yale) (Sterling-Ford Fellow), LL.B. (Boston), B.S. (Boston). Professor of Law, Ohio State Univ. College of Law; previously, Wayne State Univ. Law School. - exec. Director, Detroit Internat’l Trade Conference (1963); Reporter, Michigan Juridical Conference (1961) . - Member of Michigan and Mass. Bars. - Editor-in-Chief, Boston Univ. Law Review (1955-56). - Member, Regional Council, Am. Assoc. of Univ. Professors.
Hans J. Morgenthau LL.D. (Frankfort); G rad Instit. for Internat’l Studies (Geneva). Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Prof, and Director, Center for the Study of Am. Foreign Policy, Univ. of Chicago. Previously, Univ. of Geneva; Prof, of Internal’1 Law, Madrid; Visit. Prof. California. Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Yale Universities; Visit. Research Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for Internat’l Peace; Washington Centre, Foreign Policy Research. - Consultant, U.S. Dept. of State, U.S. Dept. of Defence. Member of the Missouri Bar. - Books: ‘Politics Among Nations’ (latest ed., 1966); ‘Politics in the Twentieth Century’, 3 vols. (1962); ‘The Purpose of American Politics’ (1960); ‘In Defence of the National Interest’ (1951); ‘Scientific Man vs. Power Politics’ (1946); etc. Co-author, ‘American Diplomacy in a New Era’ (1961); etc. Editor, Peace, Security and the United Nations’ (1946); Co-editor ‘Principles and Problems of International Politics’ (1950).
William G. Rice S.J.D. (Harvard). Professor emeritus of International Law, Univ. of Wisconsin Law School. - Honorary Member, Am. Soc. of Internat’l Law; two terms on Executive Council of that Society. - Lecturer on U.S. law in Austria, India, Pakistan, Switzerland. Law clerk of Assoc. Justice Louis D. Brandeis; first General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board (1934); U.S. Labor Commissioner in Geneva (liaison with Internat’l Labor Organization); Member, National Defence Mediation Board; Asst. Gen. Counsel. U.N. Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (1945); etc.- Books: ‘A Tale of Two Courts’ (1967); ‘Law Among States in Federacy’ (1959).- Chairman. Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union; member of the Board, American Civil Liberties Union.
Burns H. Weston LL.B (Yale), J.S.D. Candidate (Yale) (Sterling - Rockefeller Fellow). Associate Professor of Law, College of Law, The University of Iowa. Previously, Associate Attorney, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind. Wharton & Garrison - Member of the New York Bar.
Quincy Wright Ph.D. (Univ. of Illinois). Professor emeritus of Internat’l Law, Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Virginia. Visit. Prof. New Delhi, Cairo, Ankara, Makerere (Uganda), Columbia Univ., etc.; Visit. Research Scholar, Carnegie Endown. for Internal.’1 Peace. - President (1955-56) and Honorary member. Am. Soc. of Internat’l Law; Honorary Editor, ‘Am. Journal of Internat’l Law’; President (1949), Am. Political Science Assoc., (1950) Internat’l Pol. Science Assoc., (1944-46) Am. Assoc. of Univ. Professors; member, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace; etc. - Consultant, U.S. Dept. of State, Internat’l Milit. Tribunal, Nuernberg; U.S. High Commissioner, Germany; etc. - Books: ‘A Study of War’ (1965); The Role of International Law in the Elimination of War’ (1961); ‘International Law and the United Nations’ (1960); ‘The Strengthening of Internat’l Law’ (1959); ‘The Study of Internal’1 Relations’ (1955); ‘Problems of Stability and Progress in Internat’l Relations’ (1954); ‘The Causes of War and the Conditions of Peace’ (1935); etc. Co-editor and co-author, Preventing World War III, Some Proposals’ (1962); etc.
In conclusion I suggest that all honourable senators on the Government side who question the legality of the American and Australian intervention in South Vietnam should read this book for their edification so that they will not come forward with such wild statements. Anyone who suggests that our intervention in Vietnam is legal has no knowledge whatever of the subject.
– In the industrial field at the present time a very important debate is proceeding on the respective merits of arbitration and collective bargaining, the latter usually being supported by the threat of strike action. This is a very serious debate because until now the general body of the Australian trade union movement has supported arbitration. When one looks at events which have been occurring in the past year or two one can understand how certain trade unions which have stuck to arbitration are becoming disillusioned with it, particularly when they see how the unions which do not stick to arbitration but which threaten or use strike action appear to be profiting thereby.
One organisation which has always been loyal to the arbitration system is the professional engineers organisation. I would say without hesitation that it has always been loyal to the arbitration system, but the way in which things are going now is convincing its members that that loyalty is getting them nowhere and that their only hope is to do the kind of thing that has been done by the pilots and other people, that is, to use the undoubted industrial power that they have through strikes. At recent meetings of their organisation they have instructed their leaders that unless something acceptable is achieved by 15th June 1970 they will proceed to other action. That would be regrettable. It would involve a very serious situation as most of these men are in the employ of the Government. I hope that the Government will take some action prior to that date to prevent anything happening. 1 am like a lot of other people in that I am a little disturbed about things that I hear regarding the organisation of our Public Service and the treatment that is often received by its employees. I have come to the conclusion that the organisation of our Public Service is, to a large extent, at the stage at which it was in about 1940 and that it is completely incompetent to deal with the tremendous increase that has taken place since then. I am impressed by the remarkably tortuous system that has to be followed for the purpose of making appointments, and I cannot help noticing that in the case of wage determinations some sections in the employ of the Government seem to do all right, particularly the tall poppies in the Public Service, while other sections appear to get the brush off. When they attempt to improve their wages and conditions they are fobbed off by every possible obstacle, legal and otherwise. I am one who thinks that there may be something to be said for a reorganisation in our Public Service. I think it is time that we had another look at it because it does not seem to me to be calculated to deal properly with the Public Service as it has expanded over the years.
The Government should be warned that there is intense dissatisfaction among professional staff and technically skilled staff - persons, for example, such as members of the Association of Professional Engineers, the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia and others. The one with which I am particularly concerned is the Professional Officers Association. This body, in its membership, has just over 4,000 professional officers, all in the Commonwealth Public Service or Commonwealth instrumentalities, and many in senior positions including the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. Most of the Association’s members are in the professions of engineering and science and therefore they are skilled men - men who are very scarce at the present time.
Over the past 3 years they have experienced continual frustration in their attempts to get reasonable satisfaction of their salary claims. The result is that these highly skilled professional men are being left behind. Other people who are infinitely less skilled are getting a better deal because they are able to exert more industrial pressure and in some cases use, or threaten to use, the strike weapon. 1 think it is scandalous when people who are prepared to do the right thing and act as the Government says they should act and are prepared to resort to the arbitration system, have placed in their way every possible obstacle, legal and otherwise, and are prevented from getting justice and satisfaction.
What is the result of all this? The result is seen in the pronounced shortage of engineers in Australia. That shortage is due to the fact that people in the engineering industry are finding that they are not being rewarded as are people in other professions and industries. The Secretary of the Association has provided figures which show that the number of engineers per 1 ,000 persons engaged in civilian employment in Australia is very low compared to other countries. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the number is 19.4, in Germany it is 12.7, in Japan it is 10.9, in Sweden 10.7, in the United States of America 9.8, in Canada 8.3, in Taiwan 6.3 and in Australia 6.1. That is a scandalous state of affairs.
I understand that the Minister concerned has said that it is probably the fault of the universities for not training them, but I would say that the position largely can be ascribed to the fact that people are finding that the remuneration and status available to them as professional engineers, particularly in the employ of the Government, is not sufficiently attractive for them to want to qualify. The shortage of engineers is having very serious effects upon our industry because, as the Secretary of the Association has pointed out, a country like Sweden is able to develop her own defence aircraft and export the design of telecommunications equipment to Australia, while Japan is able to establish an endless variety of capital intensive industries like steel processing, importing 40% of the raw materials from Australia. This may explain, he said, why despite our success in developing small units of defence like the Ikara missile and exporting it, we must depend on countries like the United States to develop our major items.
A tremendous debate is going on in this country at the present time on whether we should allow many of our industries to get into the hands of overseas organisations and on whether we should import so much from overseas. 1 believe that one reason why we have to do it is that the shortage of engineers is such that we cannot do anything else.
The engineers to whom I have referred have been to arbitration. The last time that they got any satisfactory increase was in 1.961. Everyone knows how inflation has increased since then and the manner in which other industries have obtained wage increases. But they have been left behind. They have been fighting for 3 years. In 1967, 1968 and 1969 they engaged in negotiations in an attempt to use the arbitration system. AH that has happened to the organisations in that period is that they have been involved in costs, legal and otherwise, of $250,000 and have received next to nothing for the outlay.
– Is there not a legal maxim about justice delayed being justice denied?
– That is so. After 3 years in which every conceivable legal excuse and delay was used to stop them from receiving justice, finally when they thought they were getting somewhere the death of one of the judges has now complicated the matter and they are faced with almost having to start all over again.
The result is - I think this is quite understandable - that mass meetings of these engineers in the employ of the Commonwealth Government have been held in all States. I can give the Senate the wording of the motions that they have carried. They have referred to the fact that they have tried to do the right thing - to use the arbitration system and to have negotiations with the Public Service Board - and they have got nowhere. They say that there has been a complete failure by the Arbitration system to award just and adequate salaries to professional engineers. They say straight out - this is the point I want to stress - that if nothing satisfactory is done by 1 5th June they will consider appropriate industrial action.
The difficulty for them is that while this has been happening members of other organisations in the employ of Australian governments have simply gone on strike. What happened? When they went on strike, instead of their having to wait, having letters going backwards and forwards and having all the delays, suddenly people were appointed to deal with them direct and they received satisfaction within a month or two. So, what it boils down to is that the attitude of the Public Service Board is steadily convincing a strong section of its employees that it is useless to try to deal with the Board and useless to try to deal with arbitration, but that if they go on strike - if professional engineers go on strike we know what will happen: works will close down everywhere-
– But they will receive higher wages.
– That is so. On the basis of the experience of other employees, if the professional engineers go on strike and hold up the works there will be a rush to placate them, as there is always a rush to placate the pilots, when they go on strike. The pilots, of course, are going to be the tycoons of the future because they are using their industrial strength to a degree that I have no hesitation in characterising as straightout greed. I hope that that will not happen in the case of other organisations. But I point again to the powerful industrial strength of the professional engineers employed by the Commonwealth Government. I hope that the Government will take the threat seriously. These are people who for 3 years tried to get somewhere but got nowhere, and now somebody has died and they are stuck up again. Professional men will not put up with this situation when they can see other organisations using the strike weapon and can see that when those organisations use the strike weapon their demands are satisfied.
– My interest in the matter raised by Senator McManus is only slight. In the Department of Civil Aviation, for which I am responsible we have some members of the institute to which he referred. Since I was given the privilege of being the Minister of this
Department, we have dealt with some of the problems of the institute to which he has been addressing himself tonight. I myself have had some concern at the delay they have experienced in receiving answers to their claims and queries. In the short time I have been the Minister, I have done what I can to see that greater satisfaction is achieved for them. I have listened with very great interest to the comments made by Senator McManus tonight. I shall be taking the matter up as from tomorrow morning.
-! want to reply very briefly to Senator Georges because for the first time we have had an attempt to support or to make a case for what is a foundation of many of the statements that we have heard many times in this place from Senator Georges and other people on his side of the chamber, such as that the war in Vietnam is an illegal war and that the intervention is unlawful. But 1 thought that it was interesting and perhaps worthy of note that to support his case he quoted, and he quoted the authority available apparently to him to support the case.
He quoted in support of his case an article that he said was written by a Professor R. A. Falk of the United States. He also mentioned the names of some nine lawyers in the United States. Taking a wild stab at how many lawyers there might be in that country, I suppose that one could say 50,000 or perhaps 75,000; I do not know. But, certainly if, on a population ratio basis, it is something similar to the Australian situation, it would be in that region. I suppose that it would not be difficult to find perhaps nine or ten of them who might support the case that Senator Georges wishes to put forward.
I believe it is interesting that the particular one whom Senator Georges quoted - R. A. Falk - is a young man of some eminence in the anti-war movement and an author who has displayed his, perhaps, interest in this subject by writing on topics such as ‘Security Through Disarmament’ - hardly a topic for a disinterested lawyer; a lawyer interested only in the legal aspects of this problem. I should have thought that it displays an interest that is more towards another topic on which he wrote, namely, Law, War and Morality in the Contemporary World’. He has displayed over quite a considerable period of time his lack of impartiality in relation to this matter and, I would have thought, would not bc an appropriate authority to quote in support of a case if it was an overwhelming case.
What arguments did Senator Georges put forward so that they could be answered? As I understand his speech, he put forward the names of R. A. Falk and about nine other people, but no arguments. Therefore, there is nothing to which I can reply. I simply say that that impartial or otherwise authority was the only authority to which he referred.
– I wish to say just a few words on this question. I believe that somebody is trying to belittle what Senator Georges said. Senator Georges put up as the authority on whether the war was illegal Senator Georges, and he reinforced that authority by referring to eminent legal men in the United States of America. What he did was to invite everyone to read the book to which he referred. It is of no use to try to belittle people in one’s own profession because they are only 10 out of a big number. We accept the decisions of the judges of the High Court of Australia. They are only 3 or 5 out of all the legal men in Australia. But they are the authorities. In the book the eminent men have set out their reasons for finding that there was no legality in the American entry into Vietnam and have set out the details, which Senator Georges has asked everyone to read.
If an honourable senator opposite can read the book and say that in his legal opinion these learned jurists in America erred in making their findings, we will be interested to hear his arguments. But the whole point is that honourable senators opposite cannot present for support one legal authority who has examined this question and said that there is no legal justification for Australia or America being in Vietnam. All that Senator Georges has asked is that honourable senators opposite read the book and come in and give us their criticisms. Having read the book I accept the opinions of the legal men who have published them in the book. If it is suggested that I am accepting wrong advice, I would welcome a constructive criticism of those opinions by the legal men in this chamber who can make such a criticism.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 May 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700513_senate_27_s44/>.