27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MCCLELLAND presented from 296 citizens of the State of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Union’s policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in their petition so that citizens receiving the social service pension may live their lives in dignity.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Deputy President. Can you inform the Parliament which departmental head is responsible for the observance of protocol at state functions? Can you explain also why, at the last 2 state functions, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party was ranked above the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I will look into this question and give the honourable senator a reply in due course.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister read the statement attributed yesterday to the Vice-President of the Yugoslav Assembly that, despite (he ratification of the immigration agreement between Australia and Yugoslavia, some very important questions have still to be covered? Can the Minister indicate the nature of these points of conflict, and docs she intend conferring with the Yugoslav Vice-President on this issue or, alternatively, will the Minister for Immigration, Mr Lynch, while in Europe, be conferring with the Government concerned?
– I am aware of the report to which the honourable senator refers. I am not aware of any questions of substance concerning Yugoslav migrants which have not been covered in the recent agreement with Yugoslavia. The agreement records the rights that Yugoslav migrants in Australia enjoy and the obligations that they undertake in common with Australian citizens and other migrants. These include assistance in finding employment and eligibility for social security benefits. The agreement also provides for advice to Yugoslav migrants on the acceptance of vocational qualifications in Australia and records that the Australian Government will endeavour to advance the acceptance of Yugoslav qualifications within the framework of Australian laws, regulations and practices. Some of the matters covered in the agreement, such as payment of workers’ compensation abroad, fall within the jurisdiction of the States. Some States’ legislation presently restricts payment of compensation to dependants, resident overseas, of workers dying from injuries in those States. Action is already in train to remove these restrictions.
In the initial stage of the operation of any agreement there must be a considerable number of practical points which need to be discussed and resolved. The agreement did not come into force until 20th May this year. There have been some discussions between the Australian Embassy in Belgrade and the Yugoslav authorities, but we welcome the opportunity to explore with the visiting Yugoslav parliamentary delegation any other practical points which may have emerged. I feel that in the spirit of co-operation and goodwill which has characterised all negotiations, any discussions with the Yugoslav parliamentary delegation will have a satisfactory outcome.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, refers to events at Woomera in South Australia. 1 understand that the European Launcher Development Organisation was planning to fire its latest rocket from Woomera today. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether or not it has taken place?
– J was informed earlier today that the ELDO F9 launch was called off this morning. However, another attempt will be made between 8 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. tomorrow. The delay was not caused by any fault in the rocket itself. A fault was detected in the impact prediction computer system, which is a piece of range equipment essential to the test. A Press party which was to have witnessed the launch was flown back this morning from Woomera to Adelaide, and I understand that Colonel Dutton, who is the ELDO representative in Australia, has offered to fly the party back tomorrow morning for the delayed launch.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He may recollect that last week I tabled documents which purported to be photostat copies of documents from the Public Service Board, in particular, a minute from the Secretary of the Public Service Board relating to a report by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on an applicant for appointment. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether or nol he accepts the authenticity of the photostat copies which I tabled?
– I make no comment about the authenticity of the documents. I question, in my mind, the propriety of making public a document which is a Public Service document. But be that as it may, that is the decision which the honourable senator chose to make. All I can say is that the honourable senator spoke about this matter during an adjournment debate, and in the normal process what be had to say and what documents he tabled will be subjected to examination.
– M.y question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. J.n view of the announcement that high ranking politicians are being allotted thousands of shares in the controversial Comalco Ltd share issue. I ask the Minister, as I have done previously, whether he would now nol agree that parliamentarians who are elected and entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the affairs of the Australian people would command much greater respect and the confidence of those people if the whole of their income, including share holdings, were made available for public scrutiny - a practice which at present operates in many States throughout the United States of America and in Singapore under the Prime Minister, Mr Lee. Will the Minister take up this matter with the Treasurer in order to protect the good name and honesty of the vast majority of Parliamentarians throughout the Commonwealth?
– J am sorry that the honourable senator has linked his question, which he had asked previously in isolation, with what we have been reading in the Press in the last 48 hours. Previously I have expressed the personal view, which I repeat, that a parliamentarian does nol cease to be a citizen or to enjoy the rights of a citizen when he becomes a parliamentarian, lt seems to me to be completely unreal to suggest that because a man chooses to represent the people of this country his own personal affairs should become public property. Nevertheless every man who goes into public life has an obligation in relation to the propriety of his conduct which he has to accept. That is a matter of judgment. He stands in the position where at any time his honesty can be impugned. That is an occupational hazard, lt seems to me that that is vastly different from suggesting that because a man chooses to do one of the highest things that a man probably can aspire to, namely, to represent his fellow men, the whole of his domestic life and the whole of his rights as a citizen in the matter of the investment of his savings or anything else should become public property. I do not subscribe to it personally, but I think the honourable senator’s question is valid so I will put it to the Treasurer.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the announcement on the radio today that European Economic Community countries have invited the United Kingdom to apply for membership of the organisation, and the fact that this means so much to Australia in the matter of trade, will the Australian Government endeavour to have an observer present at any negotiations between Britain and the countries of the European Economic Community which are not held in closed conference?
– There have been a number of questions about the possible entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community. I recall that Senator Byrne asked whether a White Paper which would reflect the implications to Australia of Britain’s entry into the Community should be produced. That has been referred for consideration. Senator Lawrie now has suggested that at any discussions between the United Kingdom and countries of the Community, and where it is legitimate for Australia to do so, Australia should have an observer present. I would have thought that when discussions were being held in open session it would be a normal procedure for the Australian Government to observe what was taking place. It would be appreciated, of course - I would assume this to be the case - that when the United Kingdom sat at the table with members of the Community for purposes of negotiation, the discussions would be a matter for the parties only and certainly not something at which outside observers would be encouraged to be present.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a statement by Mr Averell Hardman, former chief United States negotiator at the Paris talks, to the effect that the Nixon Administration’s Vietnamisation policy was a programme for the perpetuation of the war and that the concept was dependent on an unpopular and unrepresentative government in Saigon? Does not the Minister agree with Mt Averell Harriman that the way to save lives is to get them out of combat by putting an end to the fighting in Vietnam instead of expanding or prolonging it?
– Yes, I have seen the statement by the former United Slates negotiator at the peace talks. I think it was the late Winston Churchill who once said that there should be more jaw and less war; at least that was the substance of it. But that is an oversimplification of the problems with which we are confronted now. Mr Harriman is entitled to express his views and I would not want to make a judgment on them. 1 know the Government’s approach to the problem. Naturally we are hoping that the result of the peace talks will be for the good of mankind. That is axiomatic. I decline to comment’ on any other statement made by Mr Harriman.
– The honourable senator has posed his question in descriptive form and I would need to have some reflection upon it. I am aware of some of the antecedents of the gentleman concerned. Perhaps beyond that I should not make any comment.
– I direct a question to my Tasmanian colleague, the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities. I ask th: Minister whether he is aware of a serious observation made by a recent visitor to Hobart, who I believe is involved in travel and tourist promotion, to the effect that it will not be possible for Tasmania to achieve its full potential in the area of tourism until the Hobart Airport terminal is elevated to international status? Does not Tasmania’s separation by Bass Strait from the services of existing international airports place that State at a disadvantage in the field of international tourism? Finally, will the Minister take steps to have the Hobart
Airport terminal raised to international status to overcome the present disability and to give full opportunity for the development of the undoubted natural attraction of Tasmania?
– I remind the honourable senator that not many years ago an entirely new airport was constructed at Hobart. Fewer years ago probably the best airport in the Commonwealth, with all its facilities, was constructed in northern Tasmania at Launceston. I. for my part, have always made it clear that because of the heavy load upon capital in civil aviation I will insist upon a proper degree of responsibility. I believe there are centres other than Hobart where airport facilities are more urgently in need of improvement. It follows that I would counsel those who wish to generate tourism through Hobart - none of whom takes a front place to myself - that they use the facilities there with the utmost regard to their full serviceability. They are adequate if we properly use them. J believe that if we take account of aviation facilities at other outposts in the Commonwealth, the general tourism pattern of Australia will be better balanced.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Air. Has the investigation into the 20 18-galIon kegs of beer requisitioned for the sergeants mess at the Amberley Royal Australian Air Force Base and subsequently loaded at the Castlemaine Perkins Ltd Brewery by a private vehicle and delivered to the Grand Hotel at Labrador, in Queensland, during the period of an industrial dispute between the proprietor of that hotel and the Federated Liquor Trade Employees Union been completed? If the investigation has been completed will the Minister furnish the investigators’ report to the Senate?
– I can add nothing to the answer I gave in the Senate recently.
– My question, directed 10 the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows upon a question asked earlier by Senator Lawrie. Does the Australian Government intend to make further representations to the British Government regarding the impact on Australian trade prospects in the event of Britain entering the European Economic Community? What consideration is being given to the possible effects on Australian trade, particularly on dairy and fruit exports?
– I am aware that the whole impact of a prospective entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community is under constant study by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry. I cannot add any more at this time. I think 1 should take the question a little further and see whether anything can be added by either of the 2 departments.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, ls the Minister aware that in addition to films from other Commonwealth countries being granted a percentage recognition for Australian content purposes, repeats of Australian programmes are now being shown in peak viewing hours by some commercial television stations and that full credit rating for Australian content is being granted for these programmes? Because no residual rights exist in Australia for the playing of repeat performances, will the Minister agree that this decision is making it extremely difficult for new Australian productions to get on air and also is creating difficulties for Australian artists to secure work in the television industry? Does this attitude which is being adopted by some commercial television stations and which is tolerated by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board tend to circumvent the provision in section 114 of the Broadcasting and Television Act that Australians shall be employed as far as possible in television programmes? Will the Minister take up this matter with the Broadcasting Control Board to ensure that more adequate protection is given to Australian productions and Australian artists?
– The honourable senator asked a detailed question about programmes shown by commercial television stations. I think his question should be given a very detailed reply, so I will place it before the PostmasterGeneral and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– 1 ask a question of the Minster representing the Minister for Health. In view of the great interest shown by large numbers of patients and by some doctors who are not members of the Australian Medical Association in relation to the most common fees to be charged by the medical profession, will the Minister arrange to table before the end of the session or, if this is not possible, to distribute to members of the Parliament and to the Press the list of most common fees agreed on for each State?
– Previously Senator Lawrie has shown some interest in this matter. 1 have been able to obtain some information for him. The information which he seeks is available at present from figures contained in the National Health Bill, at present before Parliament. To obtain the most common fee for a particular service in a particular Stale one simply adds the Commonwealth benefit shown in the First Schedule of the Bill to the fund benefit and specified excess shown in the Schedule for that State, lt is intended that, us soon as the legislation is passed, a booklet setting out the list of most common fees will be printed and distributed widely throughout Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Works and refers to the Minister’s replies to a number of questions asked by honourable senators on both sides about the possibility of constructing a Commonwealth Centre in South Australia to house some of the Commonwealth departments in that Stale. As the Minister has said previously that the matter was under active consideration, could he examine the possibility of giving a constructive report on any progress which has been made in relation to plans or prospects for building such a centre in Adelaide?
– I appreciate the honourable senator’s interest in the matter. 1 regret that the final solution has been delayed. I shall give consideration to the suggestion that he made. At the moment I think it is quite practicable. 1 think I should be able to supply some information to honourable senators who are interested.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to my question directed to him during the debate on the Appropriation Bill when J sought information on the continuing cessation of construction on the Chifley Square memorial fountain in Sydney, despite a sizeable grant by the Commonwealth. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate now give any further information on this matter?
– 1 looked at the honourable senator’s question again yesterday afternoon. [ was under the impression that some further comment was coming through for him. I do not have it with me. If it emerges during the day I will make it available. If it does not, 1 will make it available tomorrow.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services and MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs, ls the Minister aware that a conference between Commonwealth and State Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs and departmental officers was held at Brisbane on Monday, 8th June and that no Aboriginal or Islander was present? In view of the fact that the Aborigines and Islanders Council sought and was refused a hearing by the Commonwealth Minister on that dale, will the Minister agree that in all future discussions of this nature white men alone be not allowed to make decisions and that a majority of Aboriginals and Islanders be included in such conferences?
– A conference was recently held between Mr Wentworth, the Commonwealth MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs, and Mr Hewitt, the Queensland Minister for Conservation, Marine and Aboriginal Affairs. I believe that it was a very successful discussion and I draw the attention of the honourable senator to a joint statement issued by the Ministers, lt contains some points of very great importance relating to matters in which I know Senator Keeffe is interested.
The Ministers agreed on a number of matters concerning Aboriginal welfare in Queensland. These included future participation in a trust for the welfare of the Weipa Aboriginal community by taking up 10.000 shares at issue price. Queensland has already bought 40,000 shares. Other matters are the development of wolfram deposits on Moa Island for the benefit of Torres Strait Islanders and the development of the fishing, trochus shell and bechedemer industries in Torres Strait. I believe that the discussion between the Ministers was of great value. I shall convey to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs the further points raised today by the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services aware that when an assessment is made of the means of a person applying for an age pension the asset value of the ownership of a home is disregarded? Is it a fact that, when a person makes a capital contribution to secure entry to and occupancy of a residence in an institution which is approved under the Commonwealth Aged Persons Homes Act as a home for aged persons, that capital contribution is treated by the Department of Social Services as not being an investment in a home? If the position is as I have stated, will the Minister urgently review what appears to be an unfair practice in order to allow the amounts so paid to be accepted as payments towards home ownership?
– I am aware of the point raised by the honourable senator concerning ownership of a home. Of course, the honourable senator stated the position quite accurately. The honourable senator’s second point concerns payment of money by a person living in an aged persons home, as I understand it, run by a church or a charitable body. Such institutions receive a Commonwealth subsidy on the basis of $2 for $1. This is a different situation from that of persons who own a home. I cannot give an answer to the question now but I shall inquire about the matter and obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is Australia a signatory to a United Nations Article which states, among other things, that the signatory nations shall do all in their power to promote energetic action which, by combining with legal and other practical measures, will make possible the abolition of all forms of racial discrimination? If so, how does the Government reconcile that fact with our growing trade with South Africa, which in 1969 reached a total of $65. lm?
– The honourable senator has asked me about signatories to a treaty, and various implications in his question stemmed from that basis. I suggest that the honourable senator should place his question on the notice paper so that a reply can be furnished by the Minister for External Affairs.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs aware that an Aboriginal was recently sentenced to 70 days gaol for alleged consumption of alcoholic liquor at the Yarrabah Aboriginal Settlement in Queensland? Does the Minister not agree that the sentence is an extremely harsh penalty for a minor offence and that immediate steps should be taken to alter the Queensland law which allows such punishment to be imposed?
– The honourable senator has referred to an individual case of which I have no knowledge. I will place his question before the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
– I address my question to the Minister representing tha Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that 20 18-gallon kegs of beer left the Army base at Enoggera in Brisbane during the currency of a recent industrial dispute? Is it also a fact that these kegs of beer were transported to the Grand Hotel, Labrador, by Army vehicles? Have the empty kegs been returned to the base or to the Castlemaine brewery? Was an inquiry commenced into this incident? If so, with what results7 ls action proposed io investigate the operations of the Australian Services Canteens Organisation, which controls the supply of liquor to defence establishments, to ensure that similar actions are not permitted in the future?
– 1 have knowledge of kegs of beer being sold by a Royal Australian Air Force mess. The honourable senator questioned me about that incident a short while ago. 1 have no knowledge of a similar action by an Army mess. I shall look into the matter and let the honourable senator have a reply as soon as 1 receive some information on it.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Government completely reconciled to the continuing closure of the Suez Canal? What initiative has the Government taken recently to protest to warring nations against the blockade of one of our most important supplu routes? Or does the Government no longer consider the Suez Canal to be vital to our export economy?
– I could not imagine any circumstances in which the government of a trading nation in particular would be reconciled to the closing of what was one of the main sea routes of the world. So there is no difficulty in answering that part of the question. I imagine that nobody would be reconciled to that. What representations have been made in relation to the reopening of the Suez Canal and what part, if any. Australia has played in that respect would clearly be matters that would have to be referred to the Department of External Affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Has the Minister seen reports that the first Australian science course for primary schools will be introduced in Victoria next year to give primary school children a grounding in several branches of science including physics, chemistry and biology? In view of this educational advance, will he discuss with his counterparts in the Slates the possibility of the introduction of the study of an Asian language at primary school level? Could this consideration be undertaken in the light of overseas experience which shows that children in their formative years are able to absorb knowledge al a much younger age than was thought to be the case hitherto? Will he agree that studies have shown that the younger a child begins to learn another language the easier it is for that child to become proficient in it and that the step suggested could be of tremendous benefit to future Australian generations?
– None of the suggestions the honourable senator makes is unwelcome to me. I put my answer in that form because I would not pretend to answer a question that involves a judgment on curricula or the appropriateness of any instruction for children of any particular age. But I indicate to the honourable senator that I, along with all other members of the Government, am most anxious to see a widespread tuition in Asian languages as early as possible. The committee that has been set up to study that matter has made considerable progress. I expect that it will soon be able to make some report. However I will submit the suggestions in the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Education and Science to see whether he thinks any further answer is appropriate.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls it not a fact that, because of either the lack of desire or the inability of the Egyptian Government to reopen the Suez Canal as an important shipping route, the South African ports of Capetown and Durban have become 2 very important ports in the trade lifeline between the United Kingdom and this part of the world?
– This is unquestionably true.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is the Government in receipt of any reports and/ or feasibility tests in respect of the economic potential of the proposed Jervis Bay power plant? If se, has this information been compared with the known cost of production of electrical energy by existing conventional means? What does this comparison disclose?
– I shall have to ask the honourable senator to place that question on the notice paper. It contains the need for an examination of the various economic criteria for various forms of power production. I think the honourable senator would understand that I would not have that information at my disposal in any file that I have here.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is it a fact that in France, West Germany, the United States of America and New Zealand the reasons for the rejection of a claim for acceptance of a disability as being war caused must by law be provided to the claimant? In view of the widespread and growing discontent being expressed regarding the shortcomings of the Australian Repatriation Act in this and in other directions, is there any valid reason why this procedure cannot be adopted in Australia?
– The honourable senator did not say who was expressing this widespread dissatisfaction with the Repatriation Act. I am not aware of the measures to which he refers. I ask him to put his question on the notice paper.
– In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, I refer to the report made in April that the Federal Government was to consider recommendations from the joint Department of the Army and Department of Defence survey about new establishments on the Australian mainland to accommodate troops, being mainly troops withdrawn from Vietnam. Have these recommendations been made to the Government? I point out that the recommendations were promised within 2 months of that time. Is South Australia envisaged for any new Army establishment?
– So far as I understand, the investigation into this matter is still going on between the Department of Defence and the Department of the Army. Until a report is made I can add nothing.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government who represents the Treasurer in this place. Does the Government support the present high rates of interest imposed on bank loans and, consequentially, on home mortgages and hire purchase?
– This subject has been the basis of a series of question in the Senate for several weeks - in fact, since the increase in interest rates was applied by the banks. I can merely repeat what I have said in the past, that the decision to increase interest rates was taken having regard to the state of the economy. This decision was not unique. This is a well accepted and traditional procedure in relation to the economy. Since the question was whether the Government supports the decision my answer is yes, the Government does support the decision because it believes it was taken in the best interests of the community. At some time in the history of every democratic country that I know of there has been a movement of interest rates either up or down as an instrument of the fiscal policy of that country.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Can the Minister elaborate on the apparent difficulties that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has experienced in its failure to obtain television rights to the current world soccer championships in Mexico, particularly when it appears that no other continent has encountered this barrier?
– Because of the detail and the importance of this question I will get the information for the honourable senator from the PostmasterGeneral.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it a fact that the economy of South Australia is dependent mainly on the motor car industry and the household consumer goods industry which includes washing machines, sewing machines, refrigerators and so on?
If the Minister agrees with that proposition, does he then agree that if the home building industry is depressed the household consumer goods industries are as a result disadvantaged? If so. will the Minister take up with the Government the possibility of relieving the present situation of the home building industry in order to relieve the whole economic situation in South Australia?
– My previous answer was given on the broad issue of the movement of interest rates. The honourable senator directs her question to the particularity of the motor car industry on the one hand and the consumer goods industry on the other. As we know the Government has given consideration to some variance in the interest rates applying to certain industries. Notably, primary industry had a differential before the movement of interest rates and this differential has in fact been maintained and improved upon since the variation of the interest rate took place. It is not for me to be drawn into an argument in relation to particular industries. It is true that the Government is currently giving consideration to this aspect but I want it to be clearly understood that I was giving an answer in relation to the principle and the movement of interest rates as a part of fiscal policy. I repeat what I have said before. History is studded with examples of variations in the movement of interest rates from time totime, linked to the economy of a nation. There is nothing unique and nothing new in this. What has been done has been done and I have no doubt that at a certain stage there will be a movement the other way.
– Not while this Government is in office.
– It has gone down since I have been in this place and if the honourable senator looks up the text books in the Library he will find that this is so. This is not fairy tale stuff; this is fact. If it will help the honourable senator I will bring along a supplementary answer which will show the movement of interest rates up and down. It is a matter of regard for the economy, and that means regard for people and employment. That means in fact all matters relating to good government and the welfare of our people.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and arises out of his last answer. Does the Government not accept that there must be discrimination in the exercise of these economic weapons? Does it want the result that the housing industry is as depressed as it is and does it want the result that the small people have to meet increased commitments which they did not expect because of higher interest on hire purchase contracts and home purchases? Is that what it thinks is social justice, or ought it not direct its action into areas where it really thinks the economy ought to be dampened?
– Obviously the Leader of the Opposition did not listen to the answer I gave to Senator Buttfield because I did give a specific example where the Government thought discrimination was desirable. I quoted the field of primary industries.
– What about housing and home mortgages?
– Now the honourable senator is giving a little bit extra, but the fact of the matter is that I did say that there had been consideration of this matter. Then in response to Senator Buttfield’s question I said that there were considerations of a broader canvas than primary industry.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it not a fact that inflationary trends in Australia over the last few years have been less than those trends in most other countries of the world? Would it be correct to say that this has been because of economic management and that the result of this would be benefits for the people of Australia generally?
– The answer to all questions asked by the honourable senator is yes.
– My question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government, in the Senate, follows on the questions asked by Senator Murphy and Senator Buttfield.
I ask: In the event that the South Australian motor car industry and the South Australian consumer durables industries suffer a downturn because of the increased interest rates which are prevailing in Australia, will the Government consider taking some action to support those industries?
– As long as I can remember, at this time of the year - notably, in the period coming up to the end of the financial year - there is a curve in relation to production and sales indicating the success or failure of the motor industry. This, I think, has been reflected particularly in a statement which .1 saw and which was made by one of the leading companies in relation to the curve that has happened during the last month, or whatever the period is.
I can come back and repeat what I have said already. If there was some special area which might be suffering an adverse effect in isolation, it would be natural that any government would need to look at that area. But we must keep our minds on the main chance all the time. That is the economy of Australia and what it means to people in Australia. We should keep that consideration well before us and we should accept what I have told the Senate, namely, that interest rates could go up or could come down as a matter of Government policy.
If honourable senators look at the history of the present Government of the United Kingdom, which is rather in the news at this time, they will find that some most dramatic increases and drops have occurred in interest rates in that country. Those increases and drops have been in accordance with what the United Kingdom Government considered to be appropriate action to manage the economy of that nation. I think that honourable senators will find that whilst economists can always disagree, this is the generally accepted principle in relation to these matters.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Senate why arrangements have been made for a tasty supper to be served to honourable senators at the witching hour on this day? Can he advise further whether this action is part of the Government’s plan for an extension of sitting hours in order to close the sittings of the Senate this week even if legislation has to be driven through the chamber or the method, more properly known as legislation by exhaustion, is to be used?
– It is true that I have had discussions in relation to the possibility of an extension of the sittings, beyond our normal time of rising, 1 night this week before Friday. It equally is true that I have indicated to party leaders that I anticipate that, if the Parliament is to rise this week, we shall need to sit later on Friday than the normal time of rising. It is also true that, if we decide to sit beyond the normal time of adjournment either tonight or tomorrow night I very properly would ask the establishment to provide some very light refreshments for perhaps half an hour. I am not sure that we have made any arrangements for tonight as yet.
– They have been made.
– You are going to exhaust us but not starve us.
- Senator Murphy says that we are going to exhaust honourable senators but not starve them. I want to make it clear that 1 have no desire to sit any longer than is necessary to get the Government’s legislation through the Senate. If we can accomplish it this week, we will do so. If we cannot accomplish it this week we will come back next week. If we cannot accomplish it next week we will have to come back subsequent to that. I would not want to be put in the position of being criticised for trying to do something which would help to facilitate the passage of legislation, on the one hand, and provide for the comfort of honourable senators on the other hand.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. Is it not a fact that in recent weeks there has been an increase in the number of building commencements in South Australia?
– I have not got the actual figures here, but I will make certain that they are made available to the honourable senator. I want to make this point-
– What is the answer?
– 1 have informed the honourable senator that I have not got the figures here. I presume that that is a sensible answer. I will be pleased vo get the figures for him. If I can get them today, 1 will make them available to the Senate, lt is only a matter of getting the figures from my office. But I should like lo make one or two other points which I think are very important. The Minister representing the Treasurer has been answering questions concerning the effect on the economy of recent increases in interest rates. 1 think it is important to remind honourable senators, as I have done previously, that the recent increase in interest rates was not directed only at housing. I reject that suggestion that has been made from time to time. The recent increase in interest rates has been directed at all areas in the economy. But because the building industry is important and because of the very high rate of commencements and completions of homes that has been achieved in the past, we now regret that there is a decline. But let me make it very clear that it is a decline from all time record figures.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a statement by the United States Secretary of State that, although the United States Administration would find a victory by the North Vietnamese forces in Cambodia to be regrettable, it would not send any armed forces into Cambodia in order to defeat the North Vietnamese forces’? Does the Government share this view of the United States Administration? If it does, could it at an early opportunity explain to the Parliament why the Government feels that it is worth while sending Australian troops to fight in South Vietnam to prevent a victory by the North Vietnamese forces but it is not desirable to send Australian troops to Cambodia to defeat the North Vietnamese forces?
– The honourable senator asks a question built round a presumed statement by the United States Secretary of State.
– Do you not read any of these things? It is public knowledge.
– Perhaps I read them in a different way from the honourable senator. Perhaps I read the full text of the statements and therefore I am not prepared to take something that is said out of context and build a question around it. Therefore, before 1 would presume to reply to the honourable senator’s question - I will do so in due course - it would be proper for me to get the appropriate department to have a look at the full text of the statement
– In directing my question to the Minister for Housing I refer to her answer to the question asked by Senator Prowse. The Minister said that the present economic restrictions imposed by the Government have been placed generally on all industries. Will she agree that they have hit first at the home building industry? Although she has stated that the figures relating to the home building industry are all time record will she admit that the industry in South Australia has been in a depressed state since about 1964? Will she agree that it is misleading to look at figures which indicate that Western Australia and New South Wales, in particular, have had a boom in the home building industry whereas other States have not been in that condition? Will the Government take particular notice of the fact that some States are suffering undue pressure as a result of these restrictions which are hitting the whole economy, particularly in South Australia? I ask that some consideration be directed towards alleviating the situation.
– There have been fluctuations in the States but there has been an overall very high result. South Australia also has had high figures.
– Just a moment. The honourable senator then went on to ask, as 1 understood her question, whether we would give special consideration in an area in which we felt there was a special problem or a special need. Let me say to her that we are very conscious of the need-
Opposition senators - Oh!
– Here we go again.
– I do not think there is anything funny in being conscious of areas of need-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Honourable senators must cease interjecting when the Minister is answering. If they do not, neither Hansard nor anyone else will be able to hear.
– We are very conscious of the fact that there has been a decline in the figures for housing and the Treasurer, representatives of the Treasury, my own officers and I have arranged to meet people in the building industry so that we may have the latest information. Of course these matters have been considered by myself and by the Treasurer, and I can assure the honourable senator that whatever information we receive will be placed before the Government.
-] should like to follow up a number of questions asked of the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerning the impact of the recent increase in interest rates, particularly as they affect home owners. I ask the Leader of the Government: Is it correct, as I assume it to be, that implicit in his answers to a number of questions is the fact that the Government is considering currently the impact of the increased interest rate where it has become burdensome to sections of the community? May 1 take it that the Minister by implication is saying that the Government is examining this matter particularly as it relates to the area where it appears to have hit hardest, that is, the home owners? Can it be assumed from what has been said that the Government will provide some measure of relief shortly to those people who already are struggling and whose difficulties will become greater in the field of home ownership and home purchase?
– I would have thought that the answer to I he honourable senator’s question was to be found in the . answer given by the Minister for Housing to the preceding question asked by Senator Buttfield when she said, as I understood her, that she, her officers and officers of the Treasury were obtaining information relating to the current position in the housing industry. Inherent in that is a desire and interest on the part of the Treasurer and the Government to be aware of the position in relator to that industry. That, I think, is a normal procedure. Whilst it may not be clear to Senator Poyser it may be clear to a lot of honourable senators opposite.
(Question No. 276)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question: (!) I have no reason to think that the operations of private investigation agencies cut across the main functions of State or Commonwealth Police.
(Question Nil. 2<>-<>
Sena or KEEFFE asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon no:ice:
Mow many sections nf Lavarack Barracks. Townsville, are subject lo lender for cleaning purposes.
How many tenders were received for each section
What were the highest and lowest tenders received for each section.
What are the details of the persons or companies who submitted the successful tenders.
Are any civilian cleaners employed at Lavarack Base, on a weekly or daily basis.
If a cleaner employed on a daily or weekly basis, is dismissed within a period of 6 months from the date of commencing employment, is pro rata annual leave granted.
Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Their tender price for the Canteen Buildings was St, 13 1 per month less settlement discount. The third Canteen Building was introduced subsequent to the arrangement of the contract increasing the contract rate to $1,729 per month from 1st February 1969.
Their tender price for Headquarters 3 Task Force was S54.J96.32 for 2 years and C months. As the previous contractor had requested his contract be terminated 2 months early, the current contract was arranged from 1st May 1970 for 2 years and 2 months.
(Question No. 323)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 347)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
In view of the rapid and continuing development of trade between Australia and Japan, in which Western Australia is particularly involved, will the Prime Minister consider setting up an independent Australian News and Information Bureau in Tokyo similar to those operating so well in London and New York.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am well aware ofthe importance of providing Japan with an adequate information service about Australia through the News and Information Bureau of my department.
We have had a Bureau officer at the Embassy in Tokyo since March 1965 and have also made staff available to publicise the Australian exhibit at Expo ‘70 at Osaka.
In view of the growing importance of AustralianJapanese relations 1 have directed by Department to let me have an up-to-date assessment of the stalling requiredA3 our Tokyo post to ensure that the Australian image and viewpoint is projected as widely and as favourably as possible in Japan.
(Question No. 380)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 415)
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Earlier today Senator Keeffe asked me a question about the protocol arrangements at recent functions held in the Parliamentary Dining Room. I have now ascertained that recent major functions held in the Parliamentary Dining Room were hosted by the Commonwealth Government and that protocol arrangements were within the responsibility of officers of the Prime Minister’s Department. Accordingly J suggest that the question be directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I would like to point out that whilst 1 agree with the figures given by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) for December and March in both 1969 and 1970, these figures are not a true representation of the state of the housing industry in South Australia. The housing industry in South Australia reached its peak in 1963 and then took a very steep tumble. Whilst other States in the last 2 or 3 years have been enjoying a boom South Australia has been at the bottom of the barrel, as illustrated by the relative figures. The Minister cited figures for 1969 and 1970. I repeat what I implied at question time, that the building industry in South Australia has been in a depressed state for some years. The figures presented by the Minister do not give an accurate picture of the situation in South Australia as compared with the States which have had a building boom in the last 2 or 3 years. I think it should be made very clear that whilst we are sympathetic with the need for the Government to curb the building industry, restrictions should not be applied in blanket fashion in all States, particularly when the industry in one State has been in a depressed condition for some years.
(Question No. 359)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 362)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 365)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The need for the legislation to operate in relation to leasehold land gave rise to a number of novel questions that did not arise in connection with the strata titles legislation of the States.
– On 8th April Senator Devitt asked me two questions about petrol pricing and the absorption of indigenous crude oil. The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer:
The question of price cutting and price rises for petroleum products is strictly outside the control of my Department. The power to regulate prices rests with the various State governments, although I understand that with the exception of South Australia, the States have chosen not to directly exercise that power. lt is understood that oil marketing companies have applied ro the South Australian Prices Commissioner for a price increase on petroleum products. It would, however, be difficult to reconcile the granting of price discounts of up to 8c a gallon with a large price increase.
As you are aware, the Minister for Customs and Excise is responsible for the valuation and allocation of indigenous crude oil. Companies marketing petroleum products within Australia may import refining feedstocks or finished products at concessional rates of duty providing they take up a share of Australian crude oil production proportionate to their share of the Australian petroleum products market. All companies marketing petroleum products in Australia have decided to participate in the absorption of indigenous crude oil. and have elected to take up a share of Australian crude oil production.
The utilisation or disposal of indigenous crude oil after purchase is solely the responsibility of the purchaser. There is no obligation on refiners to lake up any more than their proper share of local crude production. Nevertheless, I understand that in the situation you have referred to, there are refiners in Australia who have made offers to either process or purchase indigenous crude oil owned by one of the companies involved in the so-called price war.
– On 21st May Senator Fitzgerald asked a question about exports of motor spirit. The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer: lt has been a long-standing practice by oil companies in Australia to export and import comparatively small amounts of motor spirit.
There are two main factors which influence oil companies to import motor spirit. One is the proximity of pons in north and north-west Australia to overseas refineries which can be more economically supplied from those refineries. The other is to meet temporary short-falls in Australian market requirements when refinery production is slowed down or suspended due to mechanical breakdown or maintenance overhaul. As well, small amounts of motor spirit are imported by marketers who do nol have refinery facilities in Australia.
In the question the honourable senator quoted a statement in the Press that compared the export price of motor spirit with the retail price for motor spirit in Melbourne.
The export price referred to is the average for all regular and premium motor spirit exported during 1968-69. The figure is a f.o.b. value based on bulk filling of tankships direct from refineries, lt does nol include any excise (Any, storage and distribution costs or reseller margin. Thus there is no real basis for comparison between the two figures quoted.
I might add that the amounts of motor spirit exported are not great when viewed against the consumption of motor spirit withi’n Australia.
During 1968-69 Australian production of motor spirit was in excess of 2,000 million gallons. Exports of motor spirit amounted to some 60 million gallons or less than 3% of Australia’s production of motor spirit. However, these exports do contribute to the greater utilisation of refinery capacity in Australia and therefore make for a more economic operation. Indeed, in this sense exports can make a real contribution to the avoidance of price increases.
I do not think that in these circumstances go vernment action to control petrol exports would lessen the price of petrol i’n Australia or assist the overall economy of the country.
– For the information of honourable senators 1 lay on the table a copy of the tentative uniform home building code. 1 ask for leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In 1964 the 6 State Ministers for Local Government set up an Interstate Standing Committee on Uniform Building Regulations wilh the purpose of drafting a building code which it is hoped will be adopted by ail governmental authorities. The Committee expected that it would be several years before it would be considering uniform minimum standards for cottage construction. My Department, with the concurrence of the Committee, therefore undertook in 1967 to draft a uniform home building code whose minimum standards would incorporate up to date scientific and technical thinking as to safe and economical housing, and at the same time conform to modern Australian living requirements.
House building forms a large proportion of all building in Australia and we hope that this home building code, the first in Australia, will make a major contribution towards the establishment of uniform constructional requirements for housing throughout the nation. The adoption of uniform national building regulations would result in economies in building costs. Manufacturers would no longer need to produce a wide variety of fittings for houses to comply with differing State regulations. Regulations which require building materials of greater strength and dimension than is necessary would be eliminated, resulting in constructional economies.
As for the wider advantages, I shall give one example. A certain Australian firm which is now geared to produce prefabricated houses on production line methods, and has had success in selling its products overseas, is unable to gain full economies of scale in Australia because it cannot produce for stock in slack periods. Because plumbing requirements differ from State to State, it cannot complete its houses until it knows their destination. This is only one case in which savings can be made. The code incorporates the work of many authorities, spread over years, to produce reduced usage of materials combined with safety and lasting qualities.
I believe that standardisation of building regulations will result in reductions in the price of homes. But before the draft code can come into effect it must be generally acceptable, and I now call on all interested parties to examine it and make such suggestions as they think may further this desirable enterprise.
– J ask for leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I have just been handed a copy of the statement made by the Minister. I think it is very desirable that Australia should have a uniform building code in which the standards to be applied are laid down. I acknowledge that the experience of architects in Australia has been used to compile the booklet with which I have been supplied, particularly of those architects whose knowledge relates to home construction. For many years I followed the specifications and plans drawn by architects. Whilst I acknowledge their capabilities and knowledge of structural strengths and designs, and their ability as draftsmen, I believe that they are rather naive about some relatively minor aspects of building construction. In the occupation that I followed it was necessary on many occasions for us to use our skill to cover up the mistakes of architects. At times it was very difficult to follow the specifications of an architect in a field of activity in the building industry about which he knew very little and obtained his information from a text book.
Whilst it is desirable to have a uniform building code, we must consider the differences that exist from State to State. What is desirable in one State may not be desirable in another. An example on which [ have questioned the Minister previously is roof trusses in Canberra. What is permitted in Canberra would never be permitted in any other part of the Commonwealth. Some of the homes that were built in Canberra in earlier days are showing the results of this form of construction which is not as efficient as those used in other parts of Australia. I hope that no attempt will be made to reduce standards to the level which we seem to have accepted in Canberra and which the Minister justifies on the basis that factory built timber trusses are used for roofs. In other parts of Australia people have to consider factors such as winds and the expansion and contraction that occur in a day because of heat and cold. The Canberra structure would never stand up in the north west of Western Australia, for instance.
In the short time that I have had this booklet I have looked at the references to the aspect of the building trade in which I was engaged, namely, plastering. It would seem that whoever formulated these uniform standards for plastering has never plastered and has never taken into his confidence or his discussions any tradesman qualified in this occupation. Therefore we have standards which, if any tradesman ever attempted to comply with them, would mean a colossal loss to the unfortunate person who purchased the home - that is if the tradesman was able to finish the job under these standards. Firstly they state:
All internal brickwork and masonry surfaces, other than feature surfaces, are to be either cement rendered or floated and set to a minimum thickness of i in . . .
The plaster coat is applied for the purpose of levelling up the wall. Unless the bricklayer was perfect, which he never is, having a minimum thickness of half an inch could result in having 3 inches of sand and cement or sand and lime putty in some places, which would result in nothing but cracking and lifting of the plaster from the brickwork. The expression aggregate’, which is normally used, should be used here; but the advisers in this case have a different method of expressing it. The standards also state:
In two coat work, using cement/sand or cement/ lime putty/sand, the same type of mix may be used . . .
The term ‘lime putty’ goes right through the whole scheme. But in most States of the Commonwealth lime putty went out of existence about 20 years ago.It does not exist today. Hydra ted lime is used today. Lime putty is the fresh lime slackened for use in the work. The standards provide for the use of a mixture of cement and lime putty for both undercoat and finishing coat and say that the finishing coat shall be weaker than the undercoat. ]f the finishing coat was of a stronger composition than the undercoat it would never stop there.
I could go through all these standards, but I do not want to waste time. Under the heading ‘Cement Render - External Wall Surfaces’ the standards read:
Where external rendering of brick or blockwork is required the undercoat and finishing coat shall consist of1 part of cement,1 part of lime putty and 6 parts of sand . . .
As I said before, lime putty does not exist today. Also, it is against the best building principles to use lime on external work because of deterioration due to weather. These standards show a lack of knowledge of the industry concerned. . 1 accept the Minister’s invitation for those who are interested in this matter and know the industry to study the document and make recommendations in regard to it. So, rather than take up the time of the Senate now, I seek leave to move that the Senate take note of the statement.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted: debate adjourned.
– I present the report from the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, together with the minutes of evidence taken by the Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I seek leave to move a motion in connection with the report.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDNET - ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
Our emphasis on urgency is again mentioned because of the international situation in relation to water pollution. Throughout the world there are circumstances in which water pollution is seriously affecting society, but it is also true that large scale preventive and remedial plans are being adopted. Therefore the report tabled in the Senate today responds to all of these conditions by recommending a national approach to the management of Australia’s water resources. The recommendations go further by calling for the co-ordination of the aims and aspirations of State and local government authorities and the creation of machinery to achieve acceptable standards. These should be held in balance with other national goals such as those for growth and development.
To give effect to this objective our main recommendation proposes the setting up, by the Commonwealth, of a national water commission. We have set out in our recommendation many details concerning this commission and its relation to State governments and its various responsibilities as an agency to work with a wide range of instrumentalities and disciplines. Our recommendations propose financial aid programmes, technical studies and facilities for research in the field of water management. There are also references to public education, professional training and the encouragement of a responsible community altitude.
The matter of constitutional authority has also received attention and evidence submitted to the Committee tended to establish that the Commonwealth has, through a coalescence of powers in the fields of taxation, defence, external affairs and other areas, sufficient legislative competence to establish a national approach. However the Committee firmly believes that bearing in mind the federal concept of the Constitution it is preferable to achieve this national approach through complementary Commonwealth and State legislation. The Committee commends the report and draws attention to the special style of its presentation. It is something of a departure from the traditional pattern but the format of the document becomes, as it were, part of the report. We acknowledge gratefully the co-operation and assistance extended to us by so many people. Particularly do we recognise the contribution made by Mr H. C. Nichols, Mr C. J. Price and Mr R. G. Thomson.
We need to remember that water pollution is only part of a much broader pollution problem which the Committee maintains is threatening the whole of the national environment. Members of the Committee believe that the report will be a most significant document and we express the hope that it will contribute to a greater knowledge and a wider appreciation of the national value of an abundance of good, pure water.
We need to heed the words of the quotation by Walt Kelly at the beginning of the report:
We have met the enemy and he is us’.
Finally, the Committee wishes to point out that while its work has been as comprehensive as time and facilities allowed, and while its recommendations are clear and firm, the tabling of this report today is but the end of the beginning. I move:
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That for the remainder of the present period nf sittings and in accordance wilh the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969 leave be granted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works to meet during sittings of the Senate.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement in relation to the management of the Senate in terms of time and then, if appropriate, to move a motion. Earlier today I was asked about the possibilities of silting beyond the normal time tonight and some reference was made to supper being ordered for the Senate. I said at the time that there was in contemplation the possibility of sitting beyond the normal time. I have since checked on the position with the Government Whip who has told me that the dining room has been alerted for tonight. A prerequisite to any question of sitting beyond 1 0.30 p.m. or 1 1 p.m. is the passage of a motion relating to the introduction of new business after a particular time. In other words, even if we sat beyond 10.30 p.m. we could resolve only the Bill that we were debating. Although we might want to accomplish the completion of another couple of Bills we would need to pass a motion suspending standing order 68 to make that possible. I propose to move that standing order 68 be suspended for the remainder of the present sittings to enable new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m. What 1 have in mind is simply to clear the way so that if tonight or tomorrow night we want to dispose of a Bill which is not on the notice paper we will be able to do it.
If it is the will of the Senate to carry thai motion - I cannot see any reason why it should not be carried because it is a mechanical thing -I had in contemplation then the possibility of suggesting tonight at S o’clock that when we came to 1 1 o’clock tonight, while the proceedings were being broadcast, the Senate should deny the resolution relating to the adjournment of the Senate so that we might continue. In this way we would have some time to think about whether we should sit beyond 1 1 p.m. and the deck would have been cleared to enable us to do so. With standing order 68 suspended so that we may introduce new business after the normal time of rising, when the formal motion for the adjournment is put at 1 1 p.m. we can decide whether to proceed with other business. But we need first to suspend standing order 68 to enable us to introduce new legislation. Therefore. I move:
That standing order 68 he suspended for the remainder of the present sittings to enable new business to he commenced after half-past ten o’clock al night.
– We have a great deal of business to complete before we finish this sessional period, so I think there should be a programme for a sensible allocation of the business. I understand that the Government will not proceed with all the legislation which was introduced into the other House, but no clear programme has been put to the Senate. I should like the Government to come forward with a clear programme. We would be willing to assist. We should be prepared to allocate times to the different measures that will come before us. We did this towards the end of last year for the last couple of days and it worked very successfully. I would like to repeat that endeavour. I suggest that it would be better to fit the work to the time we have than to begin by extending the sitting times, because experience has shown that we tend to extend the discussion if we extend sitting times. If the occasion arises it may well be that we can then dispense with the operation of standing order 68. There will bc no very great problem if there is agreement on this.
I am sure that we will all try to act properly in regard to the disposal of business.
However, 1 should like an opportunity to discuss the programme with my colleagues, andI would hope that we might have some mind on it by 4 o’clock this afternoon. We would hope during the afternoon to bc able to take a few minutes to discuss what is happening. 1 do not feel inclined to support the motion at this stage because I think we should arrange our programme so that we do not have to extend the sitting times and to sit after 12 o’clock at night. I think we should have a clear picture of where we are going. I would prefer a picture which did not involve sitting after midnight. We are prepared to co-operate, but I do not think it is reasonable to expect people to bc here day after day from 9 o’clock in the morning - some get here before that for various purposes - until after midnight. I do not think we can work efficiently for those hours or with due regard to the health of each one of us. Consequently my inclination is to be opposed to any sitting after midnight. I suggest that we should have a programme and an allocation of time which we should fix as soon as possible. I suggest that this motion be deferred for the time being. I will stop speaking now because others may want to say something, but. if we do go to a vote before T have had a chance to discuss this with my colleagues, wc would oppose it. I think we would probably oppose it anyway. I suggest that we see how wc go in regard to new business at 10.30 p.m.
– In a few words I would like to say that I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I too am opposed to sitting here till the early hours of the morning and furthermore I am in agreement with what Senator Murphy has said with regard to getting a working plan if it is at all possible. We should be able to work out some timetable as to the disposal of the Bills and from that we will bc able to gauge just how long it will take the Senate to deal with them.
– Would you like to move that the debate be adjournedto a later hour?
– I move:
That the debate be adjourned to a later hour.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard. It reads: The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Defence Act to provide that the pay and annual allowances payable to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff shall be such as the Parliament provides. This amendment will mean that the provision for the payment of pay and annual allowances for these officers will be similar to that provided for officers of the First Division in the Public Service. Section 30 of the Public Service Act 1922- 1 968 provides:
Officers of the First Division shall be paid such salaries and annual allowances as the Parliament provides.
The provision by Parliament is made each year by means of the Appropriation Act.
The Defence Act enables the GovernorGeneral to make regulations providing for and in relation to the fixing of the rates of pay of members of the defence force who are paid for their services. As with other members of the defence force the rates of pay of the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the Chiefs of Staff are prescribed in the Military Financial Regulations, the Naval Financial Regulations and the Air Force Regulations. When the decision was taken to extend to these officers the payment of the annual allowances, action was taken to authorise the payment by amendments to the Military Financial Regulations.the Naval Financial Regulations and the Air Force Regulations. In its 27th Report, the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances recommended the disallowance of these amending regulations on the grounds that:
The regulations were disallowed by the Senate on 16th April 1970.
The Government’s legal advisers are satisfied that the regulations were made within the regulation-making power of the Statutes and that the payments made in accordance with the regulations before they were disallowed were validly made. Payment of the annual allowance to these officers was stopped when the regulations were disallowed. The amendment to the Defence Act will come into operation on a dale to be fixed by Proclamation. This action is necessary to enable necessary consequential amendments to be made concurrently to the Services’ financial regulations and to ensure that the commencement is delayed until after the passage of an Appropriation Act in which the rates of pay and annual allowance payable to these officers will be. specified. In the meantime these officers will receive pay in accordance with the regulations that were in force before the disallowed regulations were made and the Bill contains a clause authorising the payment to these officers of an annual allowance at the rate of $ 1 000 per annum from the date of disallowance of the regulations - that is, 16th April 1970 -until the day before the proclaimed date. This particular clause will come into operation immediately royal assent is given to the Bill so that payment of the annual allowance can be made as soon as possible. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard, lt reads:
The purpose of this Bill is to bring the formula that determines the category entitlements of more senior members contributing under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act into line with the corresponding formula in the Superannuation Act. Between 1963 and 1969 the formulae in the 2 Acts were comparable, producing maximum pension entitlements tapering down from 70% of salary or pay for the lower paid members of each scheme to approximately 50% of salary or pay for members at the highest level. With effect from 4th June 1969 the formula in the Superannuation Act was varied to produce a pension entitlement for staff at the highest level of approximately 60% of salary, if all available units were taken up on a contributory basis.
The change now to be made to the formula in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act will have a similar effect. The change is to operate from 4th June 1969, the date from which the Superannuation Act formula was varied. The change does, however, have some implications for the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. Unlike the superannuation scheme or that part of the defence forces retirement benefits scheme relating to members who entered the scheme before 4th December 1959, the contribution rates of members who have entered the scheme since that date, that is, post- 1 959 members, are fixed as percentages of pay. Consequently, the change in the formula and the resultant increases in entitlements of post- 1959 members in higher categories will not be matched by an increase in contributions to the Fund.
Only the entitlements of officer members will be affected by the formula change. As the rates of contribution for post-1959 officer members have been determined separately from those applying to post- 1 959 other rank members, the contribution rates applicable to post-1959 officer members will be examined in conjunction with the quinquennial investigation of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund as at 30th June 1969 to see whether there is a need to vary the rates because of the change in entitlement levels. As I said earlier, members who entered the scheme before 4th December 1959, that is, pre-1959 members, contribute on a different basis from those who have entered the scheme since that date. Since 1965, pre-1959 members have had the right, when faced with an increase in contributions, to elect to limit their contributions. Thereafter, additional category entitlements, when they become available, are granted without additional contributions, the benefit accruing from these additional entitlements being a proportion of the corresponding contributory benefit.
Pre-1959 officer members who have not already exercised their right to limit contributions will be able to do so, if they wish, in respect of the additional contributions that will become payable in respect of the additional category entitlements flowing from the formula change. Thu Bill also extends this right to pre-1959 officers serving on 4th June 1969 who have since retired on pension or, if they have died, to their widows or orphan children to whom pensions are being paid. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard. It reads: This Bill is intended to amend the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act in 2 respects, lt will complement legislative action by the States: First, to implement a quota scheme for wheat deliveries: and, secondly, to give discretionary authority to the Australian Wheat Board to sell wheat in Australia for purposes other than human consumption at prices lower than the price for human consumption.
The 1968 Act made provision for the fifth consecutive 5 year stabilisation plan for the wheat industry. In the first season of the plan, 1968-69, production exceeded 540 million bushels and the unprecedented quantity of 515 million bushels was delivered lo the Australian Wheat Board. The build-up of stocks and the prospect of further large supplies at a time when world trade in wheat had suffered a serious decline from the record level of 1965-66 meant th:tt the industry was confronted with storage and marketing problems such as had never before been encountered. Industry leaders were not slow to see that these problems would be compounded unless some positive remedial action were taken without delay. Their reaction was courageous and responsible. They proposed, and obtained the backing of the industry for, regulation of deliveries to the Wheat Board by a system of quotas.
The State Governments accepted the industry proposals. With the exception of Queensland each brought down enabling legislation in 1969. In Queensland a severe drought cut wheat production so badly that little more than one-third of its proposed quota was delivered to the Wheat Board. There was therefore less urgency about enacting legislation but I understand that it will be introduced this month.
The 1 968 Act envisaged that the Wheat Board would continue to operate its accounts on a pool basis with all the wheat delivered in any one season being wheat of that season’s pool. This Bill will enable the Board to operate on a quota pool basis. In the 1.969-70 season, for example, wheat delivered within a grower’s quota will become part of the quota pool. Wheat delivered in excess of his quota will be received as over-quota wheat, lt will not be taken into the 1969-70 pool unless, and to the extent that, it is sold and paid for in full during the season.
This Bill does not provide for the allocation of quotas. That is a matter for State legislation, lt does contain provisions in respect of deliveries in the Australian Capital Territory, the intention being to ensure that the purpose of the quotas in a State may not be defeated by delivery of wheat grown in a State to a licensed receiver in the Australian Capital Territory. This Bill recognises that costs incurred in the implementation and administration of quotas should be borne by the industry as a charge against the relevant quota pool. The quota provisions of the Bill are intended to be effective from the beginning of the current season, that is 1st October 1969.
Turning to the price provisions of the Bill, the change proposed is as a result of a further recommendation by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. The 1968 Act provided for a home consumption price to apply to all domestic sales of wheat whether as stockfeed or for products for human consumption or for industrial use. lt is the prerogative of each State to fix the price for sales within its boundaries. The Commonwealth legislation in this respect is effective only in so far as sales in a Territory of the Commonwealth are concerned.
In September 1969 the Federation asked that the price provisions of the complementary legislation be altered to give the Wheat Board discretionary authority to sell wheat for stockfeed and industrial uses at a price below the going home consumption price of $1.71 per bushel for f.a.q. wheat in bulk f.o.r. ports, but not less than the equivalent of the guaranteed price which for that season was SI. 45 per bushel for f.a.q. wheat f.o.b. With changes in the price levels and in the freight to Tasmania loading the limits for this season are SI. 725 and $1,435 per bushel f.o.r. ports basis. Each of the States enacted legislation to put the changes into effect in NovemberDecember 1969. This Bill would make the Commonwealth legislation consonant with that of the States.
The home consumption price of wheat has long been lied to a cost of production concept. In earlier years of stabilization it was well below going export prices. For some years now it has been above the level of export prices. The industry’s decision to seek this departure from a basic feature of its stabilisation arrangements was not taken lightly, lt reflects a realistic appreciation of the marketing situation which has developed. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cant) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Debate resumed from 19 May (vide page 1563), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
– The measure before the Senate proposes an amendment to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act to allow the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to import rubella vaccine. The amendments contained in the Bill relate to section 9b of the principal Act. This matter is explained in the first paragraph of the Minister’s second reading speech, lt states:
The Bill before the Senate is to authorise the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission to import and sell to the Commonwealth, for the purpose of immunisation campaigns, those vaccines referred to in section 9b of the National Health Act. At present that Act refers to poliomyelitis and measles vaccines and included in the amendments to that Act which are before the Senate is one which contains a proposal to include rubella - German measles - vaccine in section 9b. 1 would like to quote from an article which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 9th September 1969 which explained the dangers of rubella and the effects it has on new born children. From time to time it has been said that the name ‘German measles’ should never have been given to this disease and from what I have seen and read in different articles it seems to be very widespread. The article states:
Rubella - commonly and wrongfully called German measles - is a mild infection in adults but is considered the greatest single cause of deformity in new born children.
The danger is at its peak during the first 2 months of pregnancy. Medical scientists believe, that about 20% of women reach adult age in Australia without becoming immune through infection.
Hundreds of births of deformed children each year are attributed to rubella infection in these women during early pregnancy.
In 1940, rubella appeared in epidemic forms in Australia. The epidemic was extensive and the disease was severe. Many young men and women who were called up for Army service during that time contracted it and for a time, because of its severity, the diagnosis of rubella was in doubt. It was not until the first half of 1941 that the late Sir Norman Gregg, an ophthalmologist, observed an unusual number of congenital cataracts. In addition to cataracts, most of which were bilateral, many infants were small, ill-nourished and difficult to feed. In 67 cases, Dr Gregg found a history of rubella in mothers in early pregnancy and 44 of those cases also had congenital heart disease. He established this on clinical grounds.
Later, Dr Swan of Adelaide and Dr Gregg found that a high proportion of these children, as they became older, was deaf. This deafness was due to the fact that the mothers had contracted rubella in the early stages of their pregnancies. It was noted also at that time that many of the children had other deformities as well. Of course it was nol until an epidemic of this type occurred between 1962 and 1965, when a great number of malformed and deformed births occurred, that the virus was actually isolated. Dr Swan and Dr Gregg proved that the syndrome of cataracts, heart disease and deafness often associated with mental retardation was rubella and it came to be known as the rubella syndrome.
Although no mention has been made of what the cost of providing this vaccine to the women of Australia will be, many suggestions have been made as to when the vaccination should take place. Some recommendations have been that young women should be vaccinated at school-going age or later and others have been made that all women should be vaccinated with this vaccine.
I would like to make the point that it seems to me that somewhat of a contradiction arises here. On the one hand, the Government is prepared to spend and is spending a great deal of money making sure that the unborn child is protected and yet, on the other hand, I read in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, this morning, that members of the Liberal Party have asked for an extension of the abortion laws. This relaxation of the abortion laws has taken place in some States already.
It seems to me, I repeat, a contradiction that on one hand the Commonwealth spends money to protect the unborn child and to make certain, as far as it is humanly possible, that that child will be born a normal human being, yet on the other hand it is suggested that these laws should be relaxed. 1 am not canvassing the rights or wrongs of this move. By extension of such laws, we take from the unborn child the right to live. 1 feel that this is a grave contradiction.
So, without taking up any more of the time of the Senate. I indicate that the Australian Labor Party supports this Bill. We hope that, as a result of the passage of this legislation, the necessary benefits that we hope the vaccine will produce will be facilitated so that we may make certain that the unborn child is not denied its right to be born as a normal human being and not be malformed in any way whatsoever.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) 1.3.51] - I enter this debate very briefly to direct to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents in the Senate the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), a few questions dealing with the second an. third paragraphs of the circulated copy of her second reading speech. In common with Senator Drury and other honourable senators, I have a high regard for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. The only regret that 1 have is that we have not been able to develop and to enter the drug manufacturing trade with regard lo human beings lo the same extent as we have in relation to the field of stock.
Let me deal wilh the questions that worry mc. In her second reading speech, the Minister said:
The Commission then claims reimbursement from the Department of Health for the vaccine supplied in accordance with a price that has been determined by the Minister under section 22 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act.
I think that the history of national health schemes in Great Britain and New Zealand as well as the counterpart national health scheme in the United States of Amenca, known as Medicare, will show that constant high level guerilla warfare has existed between the authorities and drug companies concerning overcharging. As a matter of fact in Great Britain - whether the Government be formed by the Conservative Party or the Labour Party - after confrontation between the drug companies and the Government, the drug companies on many occasions have reduced their charges. I should like the Minister for Housing to elaborate on this point. Are there any occasions on which the Minister for Health has told some of these overseas drug companies that they are making a welter of their charges to the Australian public? Has the Minister ever been successful in having those charges reduced? Is the Minister satisfied that the powers are there for the Minister to protect the Australian taxpayer?
I come back to the second paragraph of the circulated copy of the Ministers second reading speech to pose my second question. With the widening ambit of the use of lifesaving drugs, does the Government contemplate that, without being a retail operator, it will become a wholesaler or producer of these drugs? lt is obvious that, as types of treatments become more sophisticated, a justification exists for the Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories lo reenter the production field. 1 do not wish lo discuss old feuds or rekindle happenings of the past. I know that my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, could well recall one occasion when a top officer of this body had a violent conflict wilh the government of the day when he warned it that if it did not sound the tocsin and produce its own drugs Australia would be in bondage to foreign drug houses. No doubt exists about that. I repeat that the United States of America, Great Britain and New Zealand at various times have been victims of excessive price charges for drugs. The main point I make here is that, in relation to all this talk about participation by the people, if the Minister for Health would lay on the table occasionally instances of overcharging, the image that the big drug companies try lo create of companies bleeding for us all would be put in proper perspective. I leave those thoughts with the Minister.
[3.54] - in reply - First, I thank the Senate for giving this Bill a speedy passage at its second reading stage. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Bill 1970 means a great deal in the field of health. This fact is recognised by the points which have been raised by honourable senators and the way in which they have been raised. This Bill authorises the Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories Commission to import and to sell lo the Commonwealth, vaccines for the purpose of immunisation campaigns. These vaccines are referred to in section 9b of the National Health Act. I refer to poliomyelitis and measles vaccines. Among the amendments to the National Health Act which were before the Senate earlier in the National Health Bill 1970 was a proposal to include rubella - german measles - vaccine in section 9b. So, it is in regard to these matters that this legislation is important.
asked a question about reimbursement for the price determined under section 22 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act. The price determined under that section has regard to the reasonable cost to the Laboratories of importing and distributing the vaccines. The particular vaccines are being imported because there is insufficient demand to justify this production in Australia. It is not intended that the Laboratories should become distributors of vaccines generally. Production of other vaccines by the Laboratories will be continued. J hope that answers the queries which Senator Mulvihill raised. T again thank the Senate for the speedy passage of the second reading stage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I ask. leave to move: That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole on the Bill to consider amendments to sections 12 and 23 of the principal Act*.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
– Would you make yourself a bit clearer or a bit louder?
– I will deal with the amendments later. I am asking the Senate whether it agrees that these are matters for the Committee to consider.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– There is a matter of principle about which the Committee of the Senate has been concerning itself over the last few weeks. I refer to bringing under direct parliamentary supervision and control the salaries of various officers. The majority of members of the Committee take the view that the salaries ought to be decided directly by Parliament and that other allowances ought to be decided by regulation. We take the view that in order not to disrupt the affairs of State while such a change is occurring, the Government should be given ample opportunity to deal with the matter for the rest of the year; that in the meantime it should carry on in whatever way it has been carrying on under the legislation.
I may be anticipating the matter, but I understand that that principle is accepted now on all hands. In other words, I am suggesting that it might be appropriate to amend sections 12 and 23 of the principal Act in such a way that the officers concerned under this enactment, the Commissioner and the Director, should have their salaries determined in the way which was decided as being necessary in enactments such as the Export Payments insurance Corporation Act. In order to meet the suggestion that we might leave some officers behind and deal with others, we ought to take the view that as matters come up for consideration we should make the appropriate adjustment and that the Government bring in perhaps one Bill to cover the remainder. I understand that Senator Drury has an amendment to put to the Committee.
– I am informed that there is some difficulty in this instance. I have not had an opportunity to mention this matter to Senator Murphy since I was informed of it because he has been on his feet speaking. The salaries of the gentlemen concerned under this Bill are not paid out of general revenue or appropriated in the Appropriation Act; they are paid from the income of the authority. If provision were to be made by statute for the payment of the salaries of these officers, a rather awkward position would arise. If the salaries could not be appropriated in the Appropriation Act. either we would have specifically to write the salaries into the statute constituting the authority or there would have to be a particular Bill providing the salaries which are adjusted annually according to cost of living adjustments. Therefore, that statute would have to be amended annually.
– lt cannot be done by regulation?
– At the moment it is done in the present form, but Senator Murphy has indicated - I think it is common ground - that this is now a general principle which will come under general scrutiny. Unfortunate situations are arising, and the instance to which I have just referred is an exemplar of the type of situation that can arise. If I may, I suggest that in the circumstances of this case, and with an assurance from the Minister that the general principle of the fixation of salaries is to come under review by the Government and its authorities, this position may remain undisturbed at the moment. Otherwise we will create this rather awkward position in which we would have to write the salaries into this statute and then we would have to recognise the necessity for the presentation of a Bill for particular statutes which are subject to annual adjustment. That would not be a good practice. I convey that suggestion lo Senator Murphy, as one of the officers conveyed it to me.
– If I may, I shall answer Senator Byrne. I think that careful attention should be paid to this aspect, but may I point out lo the Committee and in particular to Senator Byrne that the provision in the existing enactment stales:
A Commissioner appointed by the GovernorGeneral shall bc paid such remuneration (if any) and such allowances (if any) as the GovernorGeneral determines.
So there has to be a determination by the Governor-General. What we are seeking to do is to provide that allowances should be determined by regulation and that the determination of other remuneration be made, in the first place, by an appropriation message, which would be an enactment of the Parliament. There is no reason why these statutory authorities should not be dealt with in the one enactment, as the Government does in the Salaries Bill. In that Bill it includes a list of high ranking officers of the Public Service. We could have a similar Bill dealing with the high ranking officers of these other bodies, lt seems to me that it is no real answer to refer to where the money comes from because at the moment it is conceded that the determination of salaries is not it matter for the body itself, that it must be a public matter. The Governor-General must do it. The principle being adopted here is that that should bc done in a way which conies directly under the scrutiny, supervision and control of Parliament in relation to salaries. We can achieve that by a suitable amendment here to the effect that Parliament shall provide those salaries and that the allowances shall be by regulation. If we also put that until, say, 1st January 1971 the provision shall continue to be in the same way as it has been done - that is, as the Governor-General determines - then there will be no disruption. There will be plenty of time for the Government to sort this out, make a measure-
– A comprehensive measure.
– A comprehensive measure stating what the salaries are and dealing with them in a comprehensive way. If that is the efficient way in which to do it - we think that it is - the Government will do it in that way. If the Government chooses to do it separately, it can do so. However, we would have Parliament doing it. In the case of allowances the GovernorGeneral would still do it but do it by regulation. I think that we should still adhere to this principle. It is a very good principle and we should not depart from it because if we were to do so it would cause some confusion. I suggest that it is opportune to proceed with it. Apparently the principle has received considerable support not only here but elsewhere.
– I ask for leave to take my 2 proposed amendments together.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
After clause 2, insert the following new clause: 2a. Section 12 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the words “and such allowances (if any) as the Governor-General determines”, and inserting in their stead the words “as the Parliament provides, and such allowances (if any) as are prescribed, but until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-one, the Commissioner shall be paid such remuneration (if any) and such allowances (if any) as the GovernorGeneral determines”.’, and
After clause 3, insert the following new clause: 3a. Section 23 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: “(3.) The Director shall be paid such remuneration as the Parliament provides and such allowances as are prescribed, and on such other terms and conditions as are prescribed, but until the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-one, such remuneration, allowances, terms and conditions shall be as are prescribed.”.’. 1 think that Senator Murphy has put the case regarding these amendments andI hope that the Committee accepts them.
[4.8] - I think that this matter was discussed in connection with a Bill which was before us yesterday.
– Two bills.
– I believe that is so. The same matters have been raised and the same suggestions have been put forward in this case, and I can only reply as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) did yesterday. I think that the best way to deal with this is to put it to the vote now.
– My attention has been directed to Senator Drury’s proposed amendment to section 23 of the principal Act. The proposed new sub-section states:
The Director shall be paid such remuneration as the Parliament provides and such allowances as are prescribed, and on such other terms and conditions as are prescribed . . .
It appears that the word ‘and’ immediately preceding the words ‘on such other terms’ is redundant.
– The word ‘and’ should be left out.
– I merely direct the attention of the Committee to that. On the general question, I feel that there may be warrant in this case. I am not pleading it particularly because I have expressed my general concern on these matters although that does not apply in this instance. This is not a question of the fixation of a salary where the moneys are appropriated by Parliament from general revenue, whether that should be by statute or regulation. This is a case in which moneys are paid from a fund.If there was any opportunity to lay this aside for consideration until the whole principle was investigated comprehensively I feel that prudence might dictate that this should be laid aside. There would be no departure from the principle, the principle being recognised. But in this case we would be saying that this was an appropriate one to lay aside, the principle having been projected, and that a total investigation should take place. I would be disposed to think of that as a matter of prudence. We have made our point. We have projected a number of situations.
– Are you sure we should?
– Senator Murphy cannot see the necessity for that action. He would prefer that the matter rest as it is under the present system until January next year when a comprehensive statute might be brought in embracing all these officers with whom we have dealt and any other officers whose salary position might be called in for inclusion in the statute. I do not intend to press my view strongly. It is a suggestion. It is a workable suggestion. It may not be the best but I do not know that it is an issue, we having projected the principle on which I would be prepared to stand. I appeal to Senator Murphy. In this case he might think that that there is some warrant for it.
– It may delay the statute for some reason. I would hate to produce any inconsistency in our attitude. That would be somewhat confusing.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, we are unable to hear what is going on. Are private conversations allowed during a debate?
– I was hoping to get a resolution of the amendments from Senator Drury to solve this problem. I was hoping that as the proposer of the amendments he would assume some responsibility by rising to his feet.
– I have nothing further to add at this point.
– The precedent has been discussed in relation to Bills recently before the Senate. These amendments are of the same kind as those which have been accepted recently by the Senate. 1 do not see any reason why the Committee should not accept these amendments.
The I EMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Order! It has been suggested that the word ‘and’ immediately preceding the words ‘on such other terms” in proposed new sub-section (3.) of section 23 of the principal Act be left out. Is there any objection to the amendment being so amended? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– If what I am about to ask has been answered already I make no apologies for asking my question. I must say quite frankly - I have had to say this before - that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) completely ignores you, Mr Temporary Chairman. On this occasion he was aiming his remarks at or towards Senator Byrne and could not be followed by me and, I am sure, by anyone else on this side of the chamber. Therefore our ignorance is not our own fault. In addition, I want to say that even as a layman among so many legal people in this chamber I dread and fear the results of hastily conceived amendments that may or may not be drafted by the expert draftsmen who attend to our legislation. For all I know, these are not hastily conceived amendments. They may have been drafted by the best in the land. Obviously Senator Byrne had no great length of time in which to examine them but he picked out a superfluous word and I believe that in private conversation it was agreed that the word ‘and’ should be deleted. That drew my attention to the amendment. Proposed section 23 (3.) states:
The Director shall be paid such remuneration as the Parliament provides and such allowances as are prescribed, and on such other terms. . . .
What are the other terms on which he is to be paid? Are there other terms under which this person is to be paid? I query this, although it may have been explained. The proposed new sub-section further states:
Does that mean that when these amendments which are being passed in Committee in this House of review become law - if they become law - this Parliament before 1st January will have some need or requirement to take parliamentary action in respect of salaries and allowances on such other terms as become effective after 1st July? Is there clarification in anyone’s mind? Are we doing the right thing in this matter as a legislature?
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party has been very concerned over this matter. The Senate has made amendments to a number of such Bills in the last few days. A number of honourable senators have become disturbed about the implications of the Senate’s action, particularly as it may become necessary to pass Acts of Parliament to alter salaries at all stages. It was said last night - I heard no disagreement - that this was a matter on which we would have to determine a procedure by the end of the year. I understand that the principle has been accepted here and in another place, lt seems to me we should not go any further in altering the provisions of existing legislation until the principle has been determined. If in our view something should be done and if we know that it is going to be done, why alter existing provisions which apparently have been in existence for years without any adverse comments or results? In my view we should go no further now but should await the determination of a procedure to cover all these cases. I have never been keen for Parliament to assume the position of a wage tribunal. 1 have come to the conclusion - I think other members of my Party agree - that no further alterations should be made, because this is now to be determined as a matter of procedure for the future.
– Senator Drury, as the mover of the motion do you wish to reply? You will not be closing the debate.
– As I said before, this has become a matter of moment for the Senate. The Senate has done this sort of thing recently, as Senator McManus said. The Australian Labor Party will proceed with the amendment.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia; [4.19] - I just want lo add a few remarks. 1 am concerned with what Senator Mc Ma mis has said. As honourable senators know, the provision we are considering has been in many Acts. No-one had taken any notice of it until the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances drew attention to the legal point as to whether it was right for a Minister to determine salaries. A vote taken on a certain regulation decided that it was a question for parliamentary control and that we. as representatives of the people, are responsible for the expenditure of money and that we should be the ones to say what salary should be allowed to an individual who holds a high government office. I think if was al that time that an extension of an allowance to cover a section of the Services was discussed. I think that we should be consistent, and we have followed this principle in rc!>>tion to every Bill that has since come before us. We have made the necessary alteration to bring the legislation into line with the thinking of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee as endorsed by the Senate. Last evening when he was speaking Senator Murphy was asked whether we should nol have some machinery to cover these proposals and to bring them up to date. Which he was agreeable to that suggestion, he pointed out thai wc could deal with only those Bills which came before us. Accordingly, that is all we have power to amend at this time.
This afternoon we have been told that both Houses have accepted the principle. But we know it has accepted thai principle only in relation to such Bills as the Senate has amended. There has been some talk of overriding legislation which will cover not only Bills which come before us but Bills which may not come before us in the foreseeable future, but we have heard no ministerial statement that there is an intention to introduce such legislation. Therefore, we are acting without any specific knowledge. Senator Byrne said that he was talking to one of the parliamentary officers, but I do not think we can accept thai as any guide.
– 1 did not say the officer gave that assurance.
– No. I do not know whether the honourable senator has authority to say that the Government might introduce a Hill or will introduce a Bill. All I am saying today is that honourable senators must support this resolution to be consistent with what has been done in the past. Everyone agrees that it would be most desirable to clean up all relevant Acts wilh a subsequent Bill. There is no indication that the Government intends to bring down such a Bill. As we do not have such a Bill before us to consider we can deal only with each Bill piecemeal as it conies before us and reaffirm our support of this principle, as we have done on numerous occasions.
– I reject the suggestion made by Senator Marriott that I was discourteous to the Chair.
– I did not say that you were discourteous. But you did ignore the Chair.
– From time to time in this chamber we have to speak 10 one another in order to shorten the proceedings and to clarify matters; otherwise there might be a continuance of debate. We are dealing with an important principle which has been carried in this chamber on a number of occasions in the last few weeks. lt was carried in relation to the Parliamentary Counsel Bill, the Metric Conversion Bill, the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill and one other. The general basis of the amendment is thai salaries of high officers should be provided by Parliament and allowances should be fixed by regulation. If there is any chance of a dislocation occurring in the meantime, it is proposed thai the Government do this bv other and simpler means until 1st January next. I am open to correction here but I understand that what we did last night in relation to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill has been accepted by the Government I understand the Government has moved in another place to accept the amendment made here, [f that is correct the principle should be acted upon to preserve consistency. We do not want to do this in relation to some officers and not others.
I ask the Government to announce its intention and to say: ‘Look, we accept the principle. We will do this and we will bring in the enactment within a short time, say in the next period of sittings.’ I think this would be satisfactory. Let that be said. I am sure that Senator Drury would be prepared to accept the proposition. Let that be so and we will be content with it. If the Government does not say that, what else can we do but act in relation to the matters as they come before us? That is the s;age we have reached. In the absence of a statement by the Government I think we should continue to implement the existing principle. It seems to be a worthwhile principle. Perhaps the Government will accept it. That is my suggestion to the members of the Democratic Labor Party who said that they do not wan; to do things piecemeal. I agree with the common sense of that argument. If the Government says that it will agree to introduce legislation in an easier way - by bringing a comprehensive enactment - I will accept that with alacrity. If that is not forthcoming I think we should deal with the matters as they come before us.
Senator Marriott mad; some observations about the nature of the amendments moved by Senator Drury. It is true that such amendments are compiled in somewhat of a hurry. They are fairly simple. Sometimes there are typographical errors. The error to which the honourable senator referred was more one of style than of anything else. Senator Marriott asked - and there is a certain amount of substance in this - what are the ‘other terms and conditions’. The reason for the use of the word ‘other’ is that the remuneration and allowances may be regarded as terms and conditions of employment. That is why that word was used. He may be right. As a matter of style it may be better to eliminate the word other’. Perhaps it would be just as easily omitted.
– ‘Other’ must refer to something else.
– It refers to the remuneration and allowances. If one looks at the provision it would be simple enough to-
– I am informed that the Minister has an explanation. Perhaps before the honourable senator canvasses the matter the Minister might give the explanation.
– Very well. 1 had intended to make another suggestion, a slight improvement which Senator Marriott did not indicate but which 1 think ought to be made. It is my fault tha the matter needs to be raised. It is a very small matter but first I will hear what the Minister has to say.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [4.27] - My attention has been drawn to a matter which I think bears out the point that Senator Marriott made. What will be left out of the existing sub-section (3.) of section 23 by the amendment will be the power to determine terms and conditions as to leave and similar matters. Sub-section (3.) says:
The Director shall hold office on such terms and conditions as the Governor-General determines.
I think that answers the point that Senator Marriott made and also covers the aspect that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) referred to.
– The words ‘terms and conditions’, as they appear in sub-section (3.) of section 23 will be replaced by the amendment, will cover not only remuneration but also leave. This latter element is lost in the amendment, which is why the words become inappropriate. The terms of the amendment will have to be looked at more closely and redrafted.
– The amendments are in accord with the principle that has been expounded in the Senate for some time. I see nothing wrong with them. I think their purpose is to keep the control of such expenditure in the hands of the Parliament. As parliamentarians we should be keen to see that as much control as possible remains in the hands of the Parliament. I know there is a tendency to take more and more unto the Ministers or the Executive. I think, as parliamentarians, we should stand up for the rights of Parliament wherever possible. As honourable senators know, I have been Chairman of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee for many years. We stand very strongly for this principle. Protection of the rights of parliamentarians to ensure that they have the closest scrutiny possible of these matters is a good thing. That is what the amendments provide. Senator McManus is not present at the moment. He said that he did not think Parliament should be made a wages tribunal. I do not consider the amendments will have that effect. I believe that parliamentarians should have the right of knowing and of deciding whether such payments are in accord w.th what they think should be paid. The people to whom the amendments refer - as has been the case with several previous amendments - are people in positions of some significance. Therefore their salaries should have the close scrutiny of Parliament. 1 propose 10 support the amendments.
– What Senator Wood said is quite all right in theory, but from my experience the proposal is a cumbersome one. A Minister or a government should not be required to amend an Act of Parliament, by introducing a Bill, 10 make an alteration to the salary of an individual or individuals. Parliament does not surrender the right of discussing such matters. The salaries can be introduced or made by an executive minute or regulation. The executive minute or regulation has to be tabled in Parliament within a certain time.
– ls that a fact? I was noi aware of that.
– I understand that that is so. lt has to be tabled while Parliament is sitting, lt is the subject of discussion.
– People have tried to find what some salaries are and cannot find out.
– I have heard the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) tabling regulations, ail of which are subject to scrutiny and discussion. I cannot see where the Parliament forfeits ils right to scrutinise any alteration made in this connection. I assure the Committee that a very cumbersome way of dealing with salaries is to amend the Act by making some minor alteration with regard to the salary of an under-Secretary officer, commissioner or somebody else. Whilst I admit that in the past week or so we have supported similar amendments, I have agreed with some measure of reluctance because I could nol see any bona fide reason for the alterations. I do nol desire to take from the Parliament its lights.
I know from experience that a Minister has to have some room in which to move in such cases. He has 10 have a measure of discretion. He cannot bc running to Parliament for direction on every tiddly winking thing that comes before him. He is charged wilh he responsibility of administering the department. In certain circumstances there is no alternative but for him or her to make the decision on the matter. There has to be a measure of elasticity. That elasticity has to be provided in some form or another. If the salary is provided by an executive minute the Minister puts through an executive minute or regulation for the alteration. I understand that he tables it, which is subject to discussion. Anyone who desires to raise an objection to it has the opportunity to do so. 1 think that the matters contained in the amendments that we have carried could best bc dealt wilh by the adoption of the suggestion that some general principle be laid down. Then we will nol then be humbugged with these amendments to every piece of legislation that provides for the salary of an officer or officers.
[4.341 - Last night the Senate debated the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill. This issue was raised then. On the motion for the third reading of the Bill Senator ‘Byrne drew attention to the inevitable consequence of the type of amendment with which we had dealt, and which substituted a provision that salaries, allowances and the like should be as Parliament provides. He very properly pointed out that because of the Senate’s action in making various amendments to legislation recently a situation could be produced where some governmental corporations and organisations would have salaries and allowances as provided by Parliament, but the huge volume of provisions in the statutes of the Commonwealth would be in a different form. 1 responded to that suggestion and because of my response 1 have now entered the debate, ln my reply I pointed out that the Senate in the Inst week had amended legislation and the Senate would have to accept the responsibility for its own actions. Because of what I went on to say, I have now entered this debate. There k some suggestion that what I said had a connotation that was neither said nor meant. I said: lt stands 10 reason that any government worthy of ils sal: must have some regard to a consistent repetitive tj po of amendment corning before it and must make a judgment in the future on whether it believes it desirable 10 take cognisance of what is happening.
I said that the Government would have to conduct an examination of the procedures it was to adopt. Senator Murphy has chosen to argue - and I presume that before I entered the chamber other senators also chose to argue - that because it is reported that another place has accepted a message from the Senate in respect of an amendment or request, it means that the Government has accepted a principle.
I want to disabuse the Senate immediately of that notion. The Government has not accepted a principle this time at all. The fact of the matter is that a message goes with an amendment and the other place has to deal with the amendment in the light of the circumstances of that particular piece of legislation. I agree with the point of view of Senator McManus. lt is obvious that the Government will have to look at this matter on a wide canvas, in all its ramifications. That is not done overnight simply because of a message being accepted in respect of legislation that it is imperative to pass. Senator McManus made his point quite properly by saying, in effect: We have put the other place on notice. The view is held by members of the Senate that it should be as Parliament provides in a series of Bills.’ That has put the other place on notice. The Government obviously has to make up its mind in the long term, and not in the short term, as to whether it should accept the amendment as a broad principle. That has not been done as yet and I do not think that honourable senators can properly read into the passage of a particular piece of amended legislation acceptance of a broad principle. 1 subscribe to what Senator McManus has said. We have expressed our view. Now we wait for a period to see what the Government will do over the broad canvas of the whole of Commonwealth legislation in which the issue is involved. A judgment is necessary as to whether action is to be taken unilaterally on each Bill, piecemeal, or whether to wait and see where the Senate comes out on the matter. I think that Senator Gair was also quite right in his remarks, if it is provided in the legislation that these things should be fixed as prescribed, that does not deny the Senate its rights because it will find expression by regulation. The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances has the right of examination and has exercised it in the case of regulations relating to the defence Services. 1 think that is a classic case. As a result of the Committee’s examination an amending Bill is now before the Senate. The Regulations and Ordinance Committee examined the matter and said that it is necessary to have some substantive legislation. That view has been met. But many variations could apply in relation to different types of governmental organisations. It is far too early yet to proceed on the basis that the Government has accepted a principle laid down by the Senate that Parliament should always have the responsibility to fix allowances and emoluments. lt has been truly said that that would mean that whenever there was a variation, at a later period Parliament would have to bring down an Act. We would have a whole welter of amending legislation seeking to make adjustments. The Senate may want to do that. It is up to the Senate. Meanwhile, it is necessary to allow time for the Government to examine what the Senate is putting by way of a series of regulations. If the message has not got through yet, it will never get through, because the Senate has acted in respect of 4 Bills in the last 3 days. I suggest it is a time to pause and to see what happens.
– In order to meet the suggestions made about terms and conditions by Senator Byrne and other honourable senators I suggest that a slight amendment be made to the second amendment, if Senator Drury will agree. I suggest that the word ‘other’ be deleted, and the words ‘are prescribed’ at the end also be deleted and in their place the words ‘the Governor-General determines’ be inserted. It would then read: ‘conditions shall be as the Governor-General determines’. I ask whether Senator Drury will accept that.
– Which one is it?
– It is the second one.
– In 2 places the words ‘as are prescribed’ are used.
– It is the instance at the end, the second one.
SenatorRae - They are used in 3 places.
-It is the one right at the end.
-I would like to get this formalised. Senator Drury, do you seek leave to amend your amendment, as suggested by Senator Murphy?
– Yes, Sir.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– With respect to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), I think he has committed a fallacy. Firstly, the Act that we are considering does not provide that these things be done by regulation. They are left simply to the Governor-General’s determination.
– How old is this one?
– This enactment was in 1961. The Senate has accepted a principle by its voting over the last few weeks as to greater parliamentary supervision over high offices.
– By Parliament.
– Yes, and over other allowances by regulation. It is true that the message may have got through, as the Leader of the Government suggested. But he went on to say that although the principle has been accepted, it has been accepted only in respect of individual matters. I have confirmation that the other House has agreed to these amendments. The Leader of the Government stales that the Government has not accepted a principle but individual changes.
– Is not that sensible?
– Bui it has not got through to the point that the principle is accepted. If Senator Anderson were to tell us that the principle had been accepted and would be acted upon–
– Do you think that that is all that Cabinet has to do with its time?
– Senator Withers has interjected about what Cabinet has to do. That is right. Cabinet will do what it has to do and the Senate should do what it has to do. It hasto deal with matters as they come here. If the Senate is told that there is no need to make further amendments because the principle has been accepted and will be acted upon at a convenient early date, we will act accordingly. Ithink that would be a very sensible course. But the Government has not said that at all. It says: We accept the individual ones you have put up but we are not going any further to accept the others.’ We are left with no other course.
– I did not say that.
– If the Leader of the Government will say that the Government is prepared to act and to introduce these principles into enactments, that would meet the situation.
-I did not say that either.
– The Minister assists me by saying that he did not say that. So we know that the only course open to us at the moment is to do what we have been doing, namely, to deal with the enactments as they come along and make the appropriate amendments. We hope that very shortly the Government, instead of requiring us to do this in respect of each individual enactment, will say:We are prepared to adopt the principle andto see that there is a direct parliamentary enactment of salaries and that there is a direct parliamentary control over allowances by means of regulation. We will lift these matters out of the area of determinations by the Governor-General or determinations by the Minister.’ But at present it seems to me that we really have no option left to us but to proceed inthe direction in which we have been proceeding. I ask the Committee to support the amendments moved by Senator Drury.
Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) 1.4.47] - It appears to methat the employees of the Commonwealth are to be categorised broadly in 3 ways. There are those officers who are appointed by statute and whose salaries and, generally, terms and conditions arc fixed by statute. I imagine that foremost among those are the heads of departments and members of the judiciary. The employees in the second group, representing the mass of the people employed by the Commonwealth, have their terms and conditions and salaries fixed under the procedures of the Public Service Board. Then there appears to be a third category which consists of officers who are appointed under Acts of Parliament, who are enumerated in Acts of Parliament and whose salaries are fixed either ‘as the Governor-General determines’, which is simply by an administrative act, or by regulation.
As I understand the position, the view this chamber has taken in recent weeks has been that the form ‘as the GovernorGeneral determines’ is one which denies to the Parliament the opportunity to ascertain what the salaries determined in that way are and which, in effect, denies the Parliament a scrutiny that it should exercise. Whether this chamber has taken this view because there is a recognition that a practice which has developed over quite a number of years is an incorrect one or simply because a number of senators take a stronger view of this matter is probably immaterial. For my part. 1 believe that it reflects an awakening of interest by parliamentarians in what should be the role of Parliament in relation to the Executive. I have always accepted the view that Parliament should control the Executive and that everybody should be subject to law.
It appears to me that over the years the Senate has encouraged the development of a practice under which many determinations are made which are not known to the Parliament and which are not subject to parliamentary scrutiny. 1 was interested to hear Senator Gair speak. I think that he expressed the view that the principle embodied in this amendment was all right in theory. I think that he commended the theory. But then he went on to say that in practice these Executive minutes are laid on the table and are known. That is not my understanding of the position. This Act certainly contains nothing that requires that the determinations of the Governor-General shall be laid on the table of the Senate; nor is there any requirement that such determinations be published in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’. 1 imagine that if a senator or a member of the other place asked a question it eventually would be answered and the salary being paid would be revealed. But that is not to say that in between times salaries and allowances cannot be altered and no-one will know what has happened unless he continually asks questions and maintains a continuing scrutiny by that method. On the other hand, if the salary is ‘as the Parliament provides’ or ‘as the regulations prescribe’ the information is available, to the Parliament, in one case because it is the Act of the Parliament itself and in the other because the regulation must be laid on the table of the Parliament and anyone who is interested can ascertain the salary.
As it appears to me, the principle contained in this amendment is a desirable one. It is one to which I have given expression by my vote on earlier occasions. I propose to support this amendment. I recognise the force of what has been said by Senator McManus and what was said last evening by Senator Byrne. I recognise the problems that this principle may cause. But I believe that this amendment is couched in such a way that these problems do not arise immediately. As part of the amendment there is a provision that enables the existing situation to continue until the end of this year so that any adjustments that have to be made can be made in that intervening period. So, the carriage of this amendment would not involve any change immediately, but it would require some legislative change before the end of this year. In terms of practical consequences, I believe that it avoids the difficulties in creating a situation requiring immediate and urgent action; yet it indicates as clearly as words can that in the next 6 or 7 months action should be taken.
Very shortly, I believe that the basic reason why this principle has appealed to me and why it should commend itself to this chamber is that officers performing functions such as those of officers who are appointed under these Acts not only should have the independence to carry out their functions but, irrespective of what the movements in their salaries may be, should be seen to be independent. I hope, as other senators have said, that some clear indication of principle or policy will be laid down by the Government.
I consider that the real difference of opinion should be in the area of whether these salaries should be in all cases ‘as provided by the Parliament’ or whether in some cases they might be fixed by regulation. I believe that a person who holds a position of commissioner - certainly in the case of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation - should have his salary fixed by the Parliament. Yet 1 believe that there is a strong case to be made out that people who are members of corporations or boards could well have their salaries fixed by regulation. But that is a tentative way of approaching this matter. I certainly believe that an examination of what ought to be the appropriate method is warranted.
This is part of what, as I have said earlier, is a problem requiring some examination, namely, what should be the relationship between the Parliament and the statutory corporations which the Parliament sets up. For those reasons, I believe that this amendment expresses a desirable principle, lt is in accordance with the principle to which this chamber has adhered in the past. I have indicated my support of it on each of those occasions. 1 feel strongly that, consistently with my other actions, 1 can do nothing but support this amendment.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, 1 raise a point of order. I ask whether the amendment is in order in view of the long title of the Bill. Here this afternoon we have heard an awful lot from parliamentary purists. I believe that it is time we got down to our mutton. The long title of the Bill is:
A Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961-1966 in relation to the Importation and Sale of certain Vaccines.
My submission is that this amendment should be ruled out of order.
– ( cannot uphold the point of order because the amendments are in accordance with the instruction given to the Committee of the Whole at the end of the second reading debate.
Senator WOOD (Queensland) [4.53J - There are a couple of points which have been brought forward and which I would like to mention. The first relates to something Senator Gair said. 1 know that Senator Greenwood mentioned this, but I believe that it needs to be. stated clearly. Senator Gair said thai this information is available to parliamentarians in either ministerial or Executive minutes placed on the table. I understand that that is not the practice in this Parliament. In those circumstances how can parliamentarians find out just what is being done? That point should be cleared up. Senator Gair was relying on the fact that this information is available to parliamentarians because the minutes are placed on the table. That may have been the practice in another Parliament in which Senator Gair served, and therefore he may have thought that it was the practice here. But, to my knowledge and us 1 understand the position, that is not the case.
The other point that I want to mention is that the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) has spoken about regulations and has said that some of these things would come before the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. The purpose of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee is to scrutinise regulations; it is not the purpose that we are debuting here. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee has no authority to dictate the policy of the Government, nor can it dictate the size of a salary to be paid to somebody. That does not come within the jurisdiction of the Committee, lt should be clearly stated that the Committee works on lines different from that.
The purpose of these amendments is to enable parliamentarians to give consideration to the salary paid or proposed to bc paid to a person occupying a high office in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. In those circumstances it is quite clear to me that this is something over which parliamentarians should have control. Senator Withers, the Government Whip, in speaking to the amendments raised a point of order which was not upheld by the Temporary Chairman. The honourable senator referred to us as purists and suggested that if we wanted to do so we could find something wrong in any regulation or ordinance. I do not think that was a fitting comment from the Government Whip.
– Come on.
– It is all very well to cast reflections on parliamentarians who are prepared to do their best for the Parliament and the legislation of this country. lt is belittling for the Government Whip to speak like this.
– Break it down.
– I make no apology to Senator Sim for saying that. 1 know that he does not like anybody amending any legislation in this place.
– Order! The honourable senator is discussing a point of order on which I have ruled. He should confine his remarks to the amendment.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, you do not stop Senator Sim speaking to me like that so I think I should not be stopped from replying to him. While 1 am in this chamber I am prepared to stand up and say what I believe.
– Why not sit on the other side of the chamber?
– I would like to say in reply to that interjection, which you have allowed, Mr Temporary Chairman, that when I come to this place to discuss legislation I do not consider it on the basis of being for or against the Government. I consider that when legislation comes before us we have a right to see whether we can improve that legislation, lt is not a case of voting for this side or for that side, of voting for the Opposition or for the Government; it is a matter of whether we can improve legislation, whether we can improve the control by Parliament of matters such as we have before us now. One of the things that amuses me about the Liberal Party is that we in this Party are said to have freedom of conscience. When I was reselected that was one of the conditions laid down. As a Liberal senator 1 will stand here on that basic principle of our Party, a principle which most of our Liberal senators are afraid to exercise.
Senator RAE (Tasmania) 14.581- The general principle which has been adverted to by a number of speakers is one which in general terms 1 support. But I do not support the present amendment, nor have I supported the other amendments similar to this moved in the past few days. The reason is that I see no good reason, even though I have invited Senator Murphy and any other honourable senator who is concerned about this matter to state a reason, why this principle could not be satisfactorily carried into performance by an amendment which simply required the salary to be prescribed, rather than have the situation where we have statutes being either continually amended or amended in bulk with the consequent effects of which I spoke yesterday. In that case we would have an economic effect from the point of view of the individuals who were receiving this bulk alteration to their salary range and economic effects in relation to the wage structure generally. We would have a whole group of salary alterations being put through at once, or inconvenience to everyone because of a delay in altering their salary range. Either the salaries would all be amended at once or, alternatively, there would be the inconvenience of the Senate being continually inundated with a great many amendments all of which could properly have been dealt with by way of regulation.
I believe that in this case the matter could be dealt with properly by regulations which could be scrutinised by a committee of the Senate, if the Senate so desired. If there is a fear on the part of Senator Murphy or anyone else that these matters might pass unnoticed, the solution is in the hands of the Senate, which can easily set up a formal or informal committee to keep an eye on them. 1 can see no good reason for supporting the amendment as it stands, although I support the general principle which has been stated.
– I inform the Committee (hat at the end of the second reading debate Senator Murphy moved a motion, for which leave was granted by the Senate, that it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole to consider the amendments to sections 12 and 23 of the principal Act. The question now is that the circulated amendments be agreed to and that they bc inserted after clause 2. The first amendment is as circulated, but the second amendment has been altered, by agreement, and now reads as follows: 3a. Section 23 of the principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: (3.) The Director shall be paid such remuneration as the Parliament provides and such allowances as are prescribed on such terms and conditions as are prescribed, but until the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one such remuneration, allowances, terms and conditions shall be as the Governor-General determines.
That the amendments (Senator Drury’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . -
– Order! There being 26 ayes and 26 noes, the question is therefore resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 1807), on motion by Senator Drake- Brockman:
That the Bill be read a first time.
-I rise on the first reading of this Bill to speak briefly to a matter which gives me great concern. Some 3 or 4 weeks ago 1 asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) 2 questions in relation to Government policy concerning the visit to this country of a South African touring cricket team and also in relation to teams from South Africa that may visit this country in the future. The Minister on that occasion would give no indication of what Government policy would be but did indicate his personal view that politics should be kept out of sport. I agree completely with the Leader of the Government and for that reason I think we as a Commonwealth Government should indicate quite clearly to South Africa and to people who invite teams from South Africa to this country that in no circumstances does the Commonwealth Government support such visits. I believe that the intervention in sport by the South African Government in the manner in which it, firstly, selects the teams that it sends overseas, and, secondly, denies the rights of people other than white people to go into that country to engage in competition in sport is a very sound and valid reason why we in Australia should refuse at all times to support the visits of such teams to Australia. I think there are very sound grounds for this attitude because if we examine the situation on a world wide basis today we find that almost every world sporting organisation is taking decisions to bar South Africa from international competition.
– Could I inquire as to what Bill we are debating? I understand we were debating the Dried Fruits Exports Charges Bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - We are debating the first reading of the Bill on which a senator can raise any matter.
– IfI may continue, the point that I was making at the time of interruption was that many world organisations which conduct international sport have banned South African teams from competition because of the method by which they are selected within their own country and the denial of entry of many fine coloured sportsmen into that country for competitive sport. Honourable senators would have noted that as recently as 3 weeks ago the United Kingdom Government was forced to intervene in relation to a pending visit by a touring South African cricket team. lt had very sound reasons for doing this because, at the same time as this controversy was taking place in the United Kingdom with the threat of demonstrations that would have seriously upset a tour by such a team, it was faced with holding the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, lt is true to say that those Games would have been a complete farce if the South African cricket team had entered the United Kingdom to play on this tour. The simple reason is that some 14 or more countries had indicated quite clearly that they would boycott the Commonwealth Games if the South African cricket tour took place.
We are now in a similar situation in this country because Melbourne, if one reads the Press reports, is favoured to obtain the next Commonwealth Games in 1974. We as a nation will face the same fiasco as England would have faced if we continue to play competitive sport with a country that is using the most vicious form of racial discrimination against the indigenous and other coloured people who live within that nation. So 1 believe it is time that the Commonwealth Government made a very clear statement of policy and I would hope, in the interests of Australian sport and in the interests of sport generally, that it would come down on the side of discouraging - until such lime as South Africa alters its policy - the visits of any such teams to this country in the future. This attitude is supported not by just a few people in the community but has the strong support of many good Australians. I do not wish to delay the Senate al any great length on this matter other than to say that there was a leading article in the ‘Australian’ of 30th January 1970 which indicated clearly that it believed that no further visits should take place by South African sportsmen while their apartheid policy continues. There was a similar leading article in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 31st August 1968 and on 18th May of this year a statement on this matter was made by the Reverend Alan Walker in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. Those articles support my view. They support the attitude of leading newspapers and leading citizens of this country that no tours by any sporting organisations from South Africa should have the imprimatur of this Commonwealth Government. With the concurrence of honourable senators, in an endeavour to expedite proceedings, I incorporate in Hansard those 3 articles. They read:
APARTHEID TURNS TO ASH K
“Keep politics out of sport’ is the cat:hen the South African Government and its apologists have used every time they pui politics into it.
South Africa’s refusal to grant a visa to the American Negro tennis player Arthur Ashe h»> surely brought the hypocrisy of this plea to such heights that it can never be used again.
In making its political decision to bar Ashe from the South African tennis championships. Pretoria used the excuse thai he made political statements criticising racism, lt is true that, as a Negro and a sportsman, Ashe has in the past said he thought it wrong that black athletes should be excluded from South Africa because of their color. Mc could hardly say less. lt was South Africa’s politics, nol New Zealand’s, which effectively killed trie All-Blacks Rugby Union tour of 1960. lt was the reaction of his own sportsmen against his own policies that forced Mr Vorster to relent last year and concede that Maoris could come to South Africa as ‘honorary whites’ in this year’s tour.
The Springboks were faced with ugly demonstrations throughout their UK. lour; the MCC is forced to consult with the Home Secretary on the advisability of receiving the South African cricket team; the Olympic Committee and six other international sports organisations feel obliged to exclude South Africa because of the Political attitudes the Vorster Government takes towards colored sportsmen.
All this time South Africa has claimed that it is others who have been putting the politics into sport. This falsehood, always evident, is fully exposed by the Ashe incident.
Perhaps it would not look good, politically, if the black man who regularly beats the best any nation can oiler went on to beat die best white men in South Africa.
More significantly, a national election is coming up in which Mr Vorster fears a drift of voles from his party to Mr Hertzog’s arch-racist rebels. Barring Ashe is a show of strength which may appease these potential drifters.
Sport should therefore leave South Africa to stew in its own politics. But let us have no more pious, 19th-century illusions about sport promoting international brotherhood.
There is hope, meanwhile, thai the course of isolation South Africa has chosen will be reversed against its will. Man is a political animal, sportsmen no less so. A growing number of South African sportsmen are already speaking out against their country’s policies.
The South African Government may find that, whatever part politics plays in sport, it cannot keep sport out of politics.
A BATSMAN’S COLOUR
Why was Basil d’Oliveira, a naturalised Briton of Indian descent, dropped from the English Test cricket team that will tour South Africa later this year? The chairman of selectors, anticipating controversy, has tried lo explain d’Oliveira’s exclusion on technical grounds. We are advised that, while he has proved himself a world-class batsman, he is no all-rounder by international standards. We are reminded of his disappointing performance during last year’s West Indian lour. These statements have failed to convince either cricketers or political observers. It seems likely that, in excluding d’Oliveira, the MCC was less preoccupied with his competence as a sportsman than with the colour of his skin. Have the selectors tried to make a discreet concession to the South African policy of sports apartheid? If so, they have cast doubt not only on their own integrity, but on the proposition that it is worthwhile for any country to continue to compete with South Africa - on her terms - in international sports events.
The South Africans may not have been directly responsible for d’Oliveira’s exclusion. The Vorster regime, in contrast with that of Mr Verwoerd, has shown at least an elementary subtlety in international affairs. When the US aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped off the coast in February on its “way home from Vietnam, it was nol the South African Government that denied shore leave to the mixed crow of whites and Negroes. Mr Vorster simply made it clear that US mixed personnel could not expect to participate in integrated activities on shore and left the decision to the US State Department and the Pentagon. They responded by shortening the stay of the Franklin D. Roosevelt and denying shore leave to everyone on board. Have the South Africans explained to the MCC on this occasion that d’Oliveira could not expect to eat with his team in white restaurants, take part with them in public functions, or change into his flannels beside them in while locker-rooms?
Not an isolated case
There were excellent reasons for the final decision of the International Olympics Committee to withdraw from South Africa the invitation to compete in this year’s Olympic Games. The reasons were human rather than political. Despite Mr Vorster’s statement of sports policy on April 2, 1967 - which implied that racially mixed teams from selected countries would be allowed to tour South Africa - there has been no relaxation of the rigours of sports apartheid in South Africa.
During the first months of the Vorster regime it seemed that South Africa was edging towards a long-due compromise with world opinion. Mr Vorster’s April statement on sport did not promise much, but it could at least be regarded as a beginning. He made it clear that South Africa was still not interested in competing bilaterally with non-white teams. The acceptable sports partners were still the ‘traditional’ ones, such as Britain or New Zealand. He did nol say specifically that racially mixed teams would be admitted to tour South Africa. And the pro-Government Press hinted that such concessions as there were would apply only if South Africa were admitted to the Olympics. Still, it was possible to interpret the more flexible sports policy, together with the concern to take part in the Mexico Olympics, Vorster’s advances to the black African States, and the opening of diplomatic relations wilh Malawi, as signs of a new readiness in the South African Government to stir from her postwar isolation.
We have learned that these measures represented a concern with face’ rather than a truly outward-going policy. South Africa has begun to fabricate disguises, nol to respond to world opinion. The doctrinaire application of apartheid has gone further under Mr Vorster than under Mr Verwoerd, so that today the Cape Coloureds as well as the Bantus are disenfranchised and herded off into their segregated residential districts. There is no room for racism of this sort in international sport, which ideally provides a way for men to meet and test each other on their merits, without the intrusion of politics or racial inequality.
The d’Oliveira affair has brought these things home to us. The d’Oliveira case is not isolated. To preserve a theory of white supremacy, the South African Government refuses to submit its athletes to the challenge of coloured men. If world sport is to mean anything, we cannot continue to play Test matches with South Africa.
SPORT BAN URGED
Aust. Should Follow Lead on S. Africa’
Australia should follow the lead given by the international Olympic committee and break all sporting ties with South Africa, the Rev. Alan Walker said yesterday.
Mr Walker, president.elect of the N.S.W. Methodist Conference, was speaking at the evening service at the Central Methodist Mission, of which he is superintendent.
The overthrow of apartheid has become a world-wide moral crusade in which Australia must join’, Mr Walker said.
Apartheid is the most iniquitous form of government in the world. While the rest of the world is seeking to overcome racialism, South Africa is applying it with increasing ruthlessness
By choosing only white teams it is South Africa which has introduced politics into sport’.
A sporting ban was one of the few ways open to the world to influence opinion in South Africa, Mr Walker said.
Force was unthinkable, while sanctions would fall heavily on the black people it aimed to help.
A sports boycott hurts only the whites, and registers world revulsion at a sensitive point in the mind of South Africans’, he said.
To refuse temporarily to play games with white South Africans is a small price to pay in the struggle to end a great wrong and set people free.
Humanity cannot find the power needed for progress while the disunity of racialism remains’.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) 15.151 - Mr Acting Deputy President, I wish to raise briefly 2 matters. I take advantage of the opportunity to raise them during the first reading stage of the Dried Fruits Export Charges Bill 1970 because the normal procedure of the Senate - namely, the motion for the adjournment of the Senate - by which honourable senators may raise grievances seems to bc in abeyance for the remainder of this session. Senator Webster is trying to interject. Neither of the 2 matters which I wish to raise concerns the incident at Yuendumu which I have mentioned previously. 1 wish to refer to matters equally as important and grave.
Speaking in the debate on the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1970 on 12th May of this year, 1 referred to conversations that took place between a group of unionists, including myself, and 2 persons who had been Australian soldiers and who had seen service in Vietnam. Those conversations took place at the South Australia Hotel in Adelaide during the weekend when the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign was conducted. The information gathered from those conversations would suggest that, in the minds of those soldiers, Australian servicemen in Vietnam had been engaged in the shooting of civilians including women and children. In other words, Australian soldiers in Vietnam had been engaged in activities similar to those engaged in by the American forces, one of which we now know as the disgraceful and alarming massacre of My Lai. One of the soldiers staled certain questions that he was asked when leaving for Vietnam which suggested that Australian military personnel were carrying out a campaign which indicated that they expected such action and conduct from our soldiers when they went to Vietnam. 1 told the Senate that. if an inquiry was held for the purpose of investigating the truth of those allegations, the names of the 2 soldiers who spoke to me about them would be supplied so that they could be interrogated or interviewed about their allegations. I did state that I would nol supply those names to a military tribunal which would have as its purpose the exoneration of the Army and from which the question of the imposition of penalties on the 2 soldiers who spoke to mc might arise. That was on 12th May.
On 25th May. I received a reply from the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock). The reply reads:
My dear senator.
During the Senate debate on the Supply Bill (No. 1) on 12 May 1970 you made certain allegations concerning the behaviour of 2 exservicemen who had served in Vietnam.
I do not recall any allegations that I made which would justify the belief that I was making allegations about the behaviour of those 2 men. I was reporting their conversations in which allegations were made about the behaviour of Australian soldiers in Vietnam. The letter continues:
You will appreciate, I am sure, that these allegations are regarded most seriously by myself and the Army and yet I note that you are not prepared lo supply any information lo an Army inquiry. In the circumstances I regret that there is little which I can do, without your cooperation, lo verify or refute your .statements.
On the night I reported these conversations, the Press Secretary of the Minister for the Army and the Press Secretary of the Minister for Air - the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) represents in the Senate the Minister for the Army - rang me to ask whether they might have my permission to have released to them that night the Hansard duplicate of my speech. This illustrates the concern shown by the 2 departments involved in those statements. I gladly agreed to release the Hansard report of my speech for their perusal. 1 did not expect that the Minister for the Army would agree to a full public inquiry into this question without further probing. I expected that he would inquire among his Army officials to find om whether they knew of any truth in such allegations about questions asked of Australian soldiers before they embarked overseas. I fully expected a denial from the Minister of these allegations if discussions with officials of his Department or an inquiry within that Department showed that those allegations were without truth. I was hoping for that.
Despite the statements made by these soldiers - the fact that those statements were made can be verified by half a dozen reputable trade union leaders in South Australia - and despite the fact that in those statements were allegations which were very damning to the prestige of Australia, I think, in the world. I receive a reply from the Minister for the Army which stales that unless I give these names to him he can do very little more about t-he matter. Apparently, he is not going to ask the Army about the allegations. 1 quote his letter:
In the circumstances I regret that there is little which I can do. without your co-operation to verify or refute your statements.
The position is this: lt is alleged that Australian forces in Vietnam are engaged in committing atrocities and massacres, lt is suggested thai the military leadership in Australia condones this conduct and entices soldiers to engage in it by questions asked before those soldiers embark for Vietnam. But the Minister says that there is little that he can do to refute those statements. The Minister for the Army cannot refute those statements! I leave the matter there hoping that, after the publicity concerning it, we will get some further action by the Government on these most serious allegations concerning Australian soldiers.
The other matter that I wish to raise concerns the injustice that has been done to a group of employees, who were unemployed for a period in South Australia, by the refusal of the Department of Social Services to grant those employees unemployment relief. In South Australia there is a trade union known as the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. That Society has a membership of some 4,000 to 5,000 persons, lt is. not affiliated with other Australian unions represent. ng carpenters lt is registered in the State Industrial Court as an Association of Employees Among its 4,000 to 5,000 members, the Society has 1 member who works at the cement works at Angaston. Some 2 months ago cement workers at Angaston and Port Adelaide held a joint meeting. The decision of the employees concerned - the group included the carpenter to whom I have referred although I do not know whether he voted on this decision - was that they should stop work in support of a wage claim.
The dispute continued for a month. In South Australia, according to the policy of the Trades and Labor Council, when a dispute occurs and it is reported to the Council, the Council calls a disputes committee together on which all unions involved in or likely to be affected by the dispute are represented equally. As cement is an important item in the building industry, the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners was included among the trade unions which comprised the disputes committee.
As 1 have said, the strike continued for a month. Over this period, the building trade in South Australia practically closed down. Men in many sections of the building industry, including Government employees were unemployed, because materials were not available. Among those men were 9 carpenters, from various jobs, who had no association with the strike at all. Their union had never instructed its member at the cement works to go out on strike.
The man of whom I have spoken went out on strike by decision of the men on the job concerned. His union certainly never condemned him for going out on strike; but at no time did it approve of his action in going out on strike. The union was a party in the discussions of the disputes committee. At the only 2 meetings at which the delegate of that union was present, the disputes committee brought back a recommendation to the striking cement workers that work should be resumed pending negotiation. Everything would indicate that the union did not participate in this strike and that it was anxious to get the cement workers back to work for the purpose of permitting the carpenters to resume work.
The 9 carpenters made application for unemployment benefits, but their applications were refused in Adelaide. I took the matter up with the Secretary to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), and under date of 9th June 1970 I received a reply from the Minister indicating that he had refused to grant unemployment relief to these particular carpenters. He said:
The relevant provision of the Social Services Act, section 107 (c), requires as a condition of eligibility to receive unemployment benefit that an applicant show that he -
is unemployed and that his unemployment is not due to his being a direct participant in a strike.
Obviously these men were not direct participants in a strike. But the Minister interprets that section of the Act as follows:
In accordance with the policy which was laid down by the then Prime Minister, the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister for Social Services in April 1947, applicants for unemployment benefit who are members of a union that sponsors or supports an industrial dispute are not entitled to unemployment benefit.
The only conclusion to be drawn is that because one member of the union was on strike without the support of his union, all the other 4,000 members of the union could not qualify for unemployment bene- 5.. The Minister continued:
This policy has been followed by successive Governments since that time and as the applicants concerned are all members ofthe Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, and this union supported the recent strike . . .
Only today I contacted the AssistantSecretary of the union to ascertain whether the union supported the recent strike, and he said:’We have never expressed support for that strike.’ But the Minister arbitrarily has decided that the union did support the strike, despite all the evidence from the union that it did not. The Minister concluded:
The Minister has decided, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that the union supported the strike, and he has applied a false interpretation to section 107 (c) of the Social Services Act. If we can get no rectification of the situation for these particular employees who were out of work for 3 or 4 weeks, it shows the importance which the Senate must attachto the wording of Acts of Parliament.
The attitude of the Senate to the amendments to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Bill which we discussed today and to other amendments is that one must always have access to law, if necessary, for the purpose of obtaining justice. Therefore, if these particular individuals could take court action to recover the unemployment benefit to which they believe they are entitled and which was refused by the Government, and if they established their case at law, they would receive payment. But if we look at the Social Services Act we find that this right to take court action is denied to these employees because the Senate on a previous occasion was not sufficiently carefulto ensure that criteria were established to enable the employees to take court action if they could not satisfy the Minister that they had complied with section 107 of the Act. That section states: . . a person . . .
Of course, it is not a question of establishing, as a fact, whether the person was a direct participant in a strike. It is a question as to whether he can satisfy the DirectorGeneral. All the proof in the world that the person was not a participant ina strike may never satisfy the Director-General. The Minister has taken the attitude that because one out of 4.000 or 5,000 members of a union acted in accordance with the decision of the men on the job where he worked, no-one dismissed from employment because of shortage of materials or for any other reason qualifies for unemployment benefit. This is an entirely incorrect interpretation of the Act. The situation should have been rectified by law if it was not necessary to satisfy the Director-General. It is not a question as to whether the employee was justified in doing what he did or whether what he did was in accordance with the Act. It is a question as to whether the DirectorGeneral is satisfied. The Director-General can. say:’He did not satisfy me’, and there isthe operation of the Act.It shows the necessity for us to give closer scrutiny to future legislation that comes before this chamber.
I am raising this matter today because everything that is done under the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill occurs on the say-so of the Secretary of the Department. We must be more careful not to leave these questions to the prerogative of the Minister. If this Parliament passes legislation it must ensure that the people whom it. wishes to benefit from the legislation will receive the benefit. We must ensure that decisions are made not at the whim of the Minister but in accordance withthe entitlement and the qualification of the person to comply with the Act which we pass.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the second reading speech. It reads:
The purpose of this Bill is to increase the maximum rate of charge that can be imposed under the Dried Fruits Export Charges Act 1924-1965 so that an operative rate of charge higher than the present maximum can subsequently be introduced by regulation. Under the Act a maximum charge of 0.1c per lb can be imposed on all dried fruits - currants, sultanas and raisins - exported from the Commonwealth. This charge is the major income source of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board, the statutory authority which controls the export, and the sale and distribution after export of Australian dried fruits.
The charge was first introduced under the Act in 1924 and the maximum rate has remained unaltered up to the present time. Under regulation, the Board operated on rates of charge lower than the maximum until 1964, when, on its recommendation, the operative rate was set at 0.1c per lb, which is the maximum permitted by the Act. In recent years however, it has become apparent that the income derived from the existing charge is insufficient to allow the Board to operate effectively under present conditions. Over the last 3 years its expenditure has exceeded income resulting in a continual reduction in accumulated reserve funds.
The Board’s financial problems were aggravated in 1969 when adverse seasonal conditions reduced the supply of exportable fruit to the lowest level in almost 20 years. This confronted the Board with the prospect of funds sufficient for only administrative purposes. Probably the most serious effect of the Board’s money shortage is in the field of export promotion. The reduced 1969 income has meant a curtailment of the budget for this activity and uncertainty as to the amount the Board can make available for future expenditure through the Overseas Trade Publicity Committee.
This Bill raises the maximum rate of charge from 0.1c per lb to 0.3c per lb and retains the provision for a lower operative rate of charge to be set by regulation, lt is intended to set the operative rate for the 1970 season at a lower rate of 0.2c per lb. This or any subsequent rates imposed within the limits set by the new maximum charge should enable the Board to replenish reserves to meet any future losses in income arising in seasons of low production and to plan for a positive programme of export promotion.
These proposals have been recommended by the Austraiian Dried Fruits Control
Board which is comprised of members representing both grower and marketing interests. I am confident that the dried fruit industry as a whole can regard this and any subsequent recommendations concerning the level of operative rates of charge as being designed to provide the most effective basis for export marketing of dried fruit. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) 15.321- The Opposition agrees that this measure is one that is to the advantage of the dried fruits industry. The purpose of the Bill is to increase the maximum rate of charge that can be imposed on the industry in order to provide for the administration of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board. In 1964 it was found necessary, because of the increased costs of the various activities of the Board, to impose a rate of 0.1c per lb. This rate has been operating now for 6 years. According to the annual report of the Board, costs are increasing at such a rate that now it is necessary that further finance be made available to the Board. For that reason it has been found necessary to introduce this Bill.
The latest report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board shows that export levies amounted to S 150,393 up to 28th February 1969. An amount of $3,411 is available from investment in Commonwealth loans, revenue from the London office amounts to S43.440, and other income totals $468. The report shows total receipts to the Board of $197,714, against which there is expenditure of S83.940, for Australian administrative expenses, expenditure of $47,884 for administrative expenses in the United Kingdom and expenditure of $91,335 on the development of overseas markets and advertising, making a total expenditure of $223,160. So it can be seen that there is a deficit of $26,000. This has to be made up. The levy is to be imposed on an industry which has shown the way in which a properly balanced primary industry should be run. The growers have been successful in overseas publicity. Although I understand that last year they had a very bad season because very heavy rains created difficulty in the drying of the fruit, they seem to have been able to overcome their problems.
The purpose of this Bill is to increase the levy so that it will be possible for the Board to carry on its work. The Bill raises the maximum charge to .3c per lb and retains provision for a lower operative rate of charge to be set by regulation. It is intended to set the operative rate for the 1970 season at the lower rate of .2c per lb, so there will still be a margin of .lc per lb before the maximum will be reached. That will be the effect of the legislation when it becomes law. These proposals have been recommended by the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board, representation on which comprises representatives of both grower and marketing interests. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said that the recommendations relating to the level of charges had been designed to provide the most effective basis for export marketing of dried fruit.
In the past the industry has shown that it is able to cope with whatever pressures burden it. We hope that the people concerned who do such a good job, not only in supplying the domestic market but also in providing an export commodity, will gain very valuable credits through their activities. I hope that they continue to prosper. We do not oppose the measure.
– The Bill before us proposes a change in the maximum rate of charge that can be imposed under the Dried Fruits Export Charges Act. The Senate may be aware that the charge was first introduced under the Act in 1924 and that the maximum rate has remained unaltered to the present time. Under regulations the Board operated on rates of charge lower than the maximum until some few years ago in 1964 when, on its recommendation, the operative rate was set at 0.1c per lb. That is the maximum rate permitted by the Act as it now stands. This Bill proposes to raise the maximum rate from 0.1c per lb to 0.3c per lb while retaining the provision for a lower operative rate of charge to be set by regulation. 1 believe that it is intended to set the operative rate for the current season at 0.2c per lb. Therefore the regulations under this Act will require amendment
In recent years the income derived from the charge has been insufficient’ to allow the Board to operate effectively under present conditions. Several factors have brought about this position. The Board’s expenditure has exceeded income over the past 3 years resulting in a continual reduction in accumulated reserve funds. This is demonstrated in the Board’s report. Adverse seasonal conditions in 1969 further aggravated the Board’s financial position and the supply of exportable fruit was reduced to its lowest level in 20 years. In its 1969 report the Board when dealing with the 1969 season stated:
Due to the unprecedented and disastrous effects of rain and other climatic conditions experienced over the whole of the Murray Valley area in February and March 1969 during the season’s cultural and drying periods, the anticipated production for 1969 shows a heavy and serious decline in the production compared with the seasons over the past 40 years.
I mention that to the Senate because here is another primary industry which over the past few years has experienced great adversity. Conditions in the dried fruits industry have found many producers in serious financial difficulty. It may be recalled that during last year I, along with a number of other honourable senators, appealed to the Federal Government to meet the request from the industry, and indeed from the Government of my own State of Victoria, for financial support. This was not readily forthcoming although the Victorian Government was aware of the Commonwealth’s preparedness to assist if the situation in the industry was considered to be disastrous. Many producers of dried fruits found the last season really crippling.
This is a most important industry in Australia in that it gains that essential commodity - export income. The people generally, I believe, are willing to view many primary industries, in the very exciting context of the development of mineral resources and the sales of other commodities which definitely are supporting Australia’s economy at the present time, as being perhaps not as important as they were previously. There is not a great number of items that Australia can produce without some Government support having regard to our high standard of living, lt would be very interesting to compare, whether it be in manufacturing industries, heavy industry or light industry, the various measures of Government support which, hidden though they may be in some areas, are there because they are necessary to support indigenous Australian industries. Here is an industry which, without a great amount of Government support, has been capable ofl exporting over 70% of its entire production. That is an average, taken over the past few years.
– Exported to where?
– The honourable senator’s question is very much to the point and I shall deal with it. Consumption in Australia accounted for something over 22,000 tons of the 83.000 tons produced and sold in the 1968 season. The product is exported to the United Kingdom, Canada, the Continent and Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Central and South America. Asia and the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. We supply to the world food programme and to the stores of overseas ships. That alone, indicates the great value of. the food which is produced. Approximately 83.000 tons of dried fruits were distributed. Over 21,000 tons went to the United Kingdom. I believe a greater volume of money should be available to the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board than will be gathered pursuant to this legislation. I advocate that consideration be given to Budget support for developmental expenses for the promotion of overseas markets and for sales expansion in our local sphere.
During last year I had the pleasure of watching a film produced by the Australian dried fruits industry, lt was a most interesting film, lt demonstrated the important health factor contained in this product. I think Winton Turnbull in another place proposed that the products of this market should be placed on the parliamentary dining tables. I urge the Government to consider assisting the budget of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board and the expansion of our markets. Australia should be able to expand its exports to Japan and the near north. I mention again that Australia supplied 21,664 tons of dried fruits to the United Kingdom in the 1968 season but the total export to Japan was 1,518 tons. Surely there is reason to suggest that Australia should do more in sales in the near north. 1 suggest to the Government that it should look very closely at whether it will be possible to supply market research funds for this purpose. I support this measure and 1 have great pleasure in recommending it to the Senate.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports this measure. It is inevitable that funds be made available to assist efforts to export Australian dried fruits. I regret that the dried fruits industry is one more Australian industry which is in great difficulty during the present rural crisis, lt has been affected by drought and other seasonal conditions. Senator Little and I were told by a deputation of growers who met us that the industry has been plagued by considerable dissatisfaction among growers because of rising costs and unsatisfactory prices, which is almost a general disability experienced at present by our primary industries. The growers’ representatives who interviewed Senator Little and myself put it to us very strongly that the Government should introduce a proper marketing organisation. They indicated that a strong move was being made for a referendum. I understand that a referendum was held and a majority of the growers supported the institution of a marketing plan. The Government insisted that the marketing plan should not be adopted unless a fixed percentage of the growers supported it. Therefore the proposal was declared defeated.
I was interested in what Senator Webster said about seeking eastern markets. I was in Japan some time ago and I found that because of the increasing prosperity of that country it is importing and using foods nowadays which it was not using in former years. That has a remarkable effect. A tremendous move has been made to alter the desks in the schools. The imported foodstuffs which the Japanese people are eating have resulted in a considerable increase in their physique. The school desks which were suitable for their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers are no longer big enough for the young Japanese children of today. I hope our Government will make efforts to export our dried fruits to Japan. We have to realise that strong competition takes place from other countries. We would have to meet this competition. When I was in Taiwan I suggested that they might be able to import Australian apples. I was told that they could not do that because they have a barter agreement with Japan. Japan takes their bananas and, in return, they take Japanese apples. One of the problems we might have to face in Japan is the existence of these agreements with other countries.
Like every other honourable senator I wish the dried fruits industry well. I hope that it will get what it believes is essential; that is, a better or an adequate marketing system. I believe that what is happening in the case of the dried fruits industry is happening in other industries in the world. Fundamentally there is a breakdown in the system. Plenty of mouths in the world are open with hunger. They would like to have our dried fruits. The difficulty is the ability to pay for it. I hope our Government will try to assist the industry. What is needed is action on a world level to improve the system of distribution so that the have-nots will be able to purchase the fruit or other products which the haves are now able to produce so abundantly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 1808), on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The substance of this Bill was set out in the second reading speech of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) and there is not a great deal left to say about it. Its purpose is to effect some rather minor adjustments. A small amount is to be added to allowances paid to some honourable senators and some members of the other place. Some allowances are to be reduced and some are to be shifted into what are now the city categories because of changes in population. There is also a general re-adjustment of allowances consequent upon the recent redistribution of electorates. This measure does not involve the expenditure of more money. 1 understand that the adjustments of allowances, up and down, cancel out completely.
– Within about $5,000. Senator O’Byrne- About $3,000.
– It is somewhere in that area.
– It is $3,250.
– There seems to be general agreement upon that figure. It is not a major matter affecting parliamentary expenditure. It corrects an injustice in the legislation in both spheres because certain changes had been required. As I recall the matter, the Senate expressed a very definite view on allowances, not as to the amounts but as to an existing disparity. A correction now appears to have been made. The disparity may not be entirely removed but some correction has been made. The general question of parliamentary salaries is not dealt with in this measure. 1 hope that one day that matter will be dealt with on a basis of a comparison of parliamentary salaries with salaries paid outside Parliament, if that is possible.
The people who have the task of adjudicating on salary and wage matters, even in fairly different fields, generally find a basis of comparison in the responsibilities of the tasks involved. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is used to dealing with these matters on the basis of what is known as work value.. People who appear before arbitration tribunals ami those who adjudicate in that field spend a lot of time talking about work value. Ohe very experienced practitioner in the arbitration field, after appearing before arbitration tribunals for many years and arguing these matters, told me that he still had no idea on earth as to the meaning of the term ‘work value’. But that is the test that is applied elsewhere.
The salaries that arc paid to members of this Parliament are such that the Parliament has nothing to be ashamed of in respect of any suggestion of excessive payments. I do not think anyone nowadays would suggest that the salaries of members of this Parliament are at all excessive. Any complaints seem to be made in the other direction. The important thing is that the salaries should be determined on a fair basis. Before a general reassessment of parliamentary salaries is made an inquiry ought to be conducted, preferably by an independent body, not to make a determination but to make recommendations. The Constitution provides that this Parliament should make such determinations, but it ought to be assisted by the assessment of people who. looking at the position independently, can say what ought to be clone in fairness to the community. If such an inquiry were held I believe that there would be considerable re-adjustment of the anomalies which exist.
My Party had cause on the last occasion of a general consideration of parliamentary salaries to move for certain adjustments and wc adhere to the view that those adjustments should be made. I think it is important to members of Parliament not only that salaries be dealt with fairly, taking into account what is done in other sections of the community, but also, and more importantly, that we be provided with the resources and the facilities we need to carry out our tasks properly. As leader of the Opposition in the Senate I atn not satisfied that we are provided with the resources and facilities we need. I find it very difficult to penetrate the red tape of the bureaucracy that surrounds this place. In other parts of the community people in executive positions, even in minor positions, easily obtain the equipment they need.
In my case, I find that it is impossible to get an electric typewriter, even one with interchangeable heads such as arc used all around the country. I attended a seminar al Townsville and found there in a little sports club a man typing on an electric typewriter. They are to be seen in almost every business house. I have tried to obtain a photostat copying machine to deal with some of the problems we encounter. Honourable senators have often asked why they have not received documents on time and why the circulation of those documents has been left to the last minute. Even the most elementary equipment is not available to us.
I think that I have a fair amount of resource, but my endeavours have failed to obtain elementary equipment. I do not think it is right. We need the equipment and facilities to do our jobs properly. In the other place executive members of my Party carry out their functions on the front bench. Men of the calibre of Dr Cairns and others have spent most of their working lifetimes in the service of the public in this great institution. They are not even provided with a secretary when they attend Parliament. It must seem incredible to people outside Parliament that we are working under such conditions. The trouble is that in this Parliament we have fallen into the error of allowing many of the facilities and much of the equipment to be supplied by the Executive and not by Parliament. I think it is quite wrong that we must turn to the Prime Minister’s Department to ask for these resources. Sometimes there are arguments about whether it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Department, the Treasury or the Department of the Interior to supply them. On occasions the Department of the Senate would supply the facilities. I suggest that the Parliament should make a fair and proper allocation to each House. I suggest also that the way that the money is spent should be in the hands of each House. The Presiding officers should see to it that proper resources and facilities are supplied. I do not think it is right that members of Parliament, especially those in the Opposition, should have to go to the executive branch and ask for facilities. I think this not a proper course and it is one that is not working out well.
All honourable senators are reluctant to raise these matters in this place. No honourable senator likes to stand up here and talk about the domestic affairs of his own establishment, to complain that he cannot get this kind of equipment or that kind of facility, but we have to do it because of the practical facts of life. I think we should be considering what I have said and that we should be doing something about it. I see this as a Bill which will make certain adjustments. I suggest that the whole question of the resources and facilities should be looked at properly. We should make a determination, not only by ourselves, as to the provision of resources and facilities: we should have the assistance of others who are expert in these matters when it comes to a general reconsideration of salaries and allowances, so that justice may be done to members of the Parliament and to the community.
– 1 have 2 points only to make. The first is that for the life of me 1 cannot understand why senators receive the same allowance as members of the House of Representatives. 1 do not refer particularly to Tasmania, because ours is a small State and we are able to travel about it fairly easily, but a senator representing one of the larger States should have a much bigger allowance. It is preposterous that we allow this state of affairs to go on. A senator’s allowance is just creeping up now to the equivalent of that of a member representing a metropolitan electorate. Yet it is obvious that a senator has to travel about the whole State. In some of the big States like Western Australia and Queensland - in fact, in all States except Victoria and Tasmania - it is extremely difficult, and an expensive procedure, to travel about the State. I feel that the Government should look at this problem and see that senators - especially those from the bigger States - receive a larger allowance. It is no good saying that there are 10 senators from each State and therefore each senator can do one-tenth of the work. That suggestion is ridiculous. Each senator has to do the same amount of travelling as if he were the only senator representing his State. He may not get so much work but he has to travel just as far. We cannot allocate a separate part of a State to each senator.
The second matter, which again is preposterous, is that no allowance is provided for the Clerk of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives. I raised this question last year and the Minister in charge of the Bill at that time - I forget who it was, but it was probably the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) - said that he would look into it. We have heard nothing about that matter since. We have had before the Senate a defence Bill which provides for allowances for the Service chiefs and we have had Bills providing allowances for permanent heads of departments. It would be interesting to know how much of that money is spent. I believe that the entertainment allowance for a senior permanent head was fixed at S 1,500 a year, yet the persons who should be doing most of the entertaining are the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and they get nothing.
– It is called an electoral allowance in your case.
– It is called an electoral allowance for members of Parliament, but I am talking about the equivalent for people in the Public Service. Some public servants receive an allowance because they happen to be heads of departments. We were told that they were to receive this money because they were called upon to entertain. Now we are told that the heads of Service departments are to receive an allowance - why, I do not know.
– You have not had the opportunity to serve under the heads of Services.
– I am not as ubiquitous as the honourable senator and 1 cannot serve under as many heads as he does. This does not alter the fact that the 2 people whom I have mentioned are not receiving an allowance. If it is good enough for other people to receive it, it is certainly good enough for the 2 Clerks to be given an allowance. When we travel abroad and visit other parliaments we are entertained by the Clerks there, often at their own expense, or perhaps they get some member to entertain us. Usually it falls on the Clerk of the House to look after us and to see that we are looked after when we visit another country. 1 think it is time that both the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives were given an allowance of $1,500 so that they can do their share of entertaining. There is just as much justice in their having an allowance as there is in heads of departments and Service chiefs receiving one. T do not want to belabour the point, because we cannot bring the allowances in under this Bill, but for the second time I ask the Minister - 1 suppose I shall have to ask a third time - whether he will look into this and see why nothing is being done for the 2 Clerks.
– The Democratic Labor Party supports this Bill which is to provide for a readjustment of electoral allowances for members of the House of Representatives and a small readjustment in the case of senators. I join with Senator Turnbull in at least raising the query why it has- not been found appropriate to provide to the senior officers of the Parliament this new type of allowance which is provided for heads of departments and heads of the Services. 1 take it that these allowances are for expenses which are pertinent to the discharge of their duties but which properly could not. be expected to be discharged within their own emoluments for the duties they perform. If this is the test to be applied, the officers of the Parliament could reasonably be considered as having just as many demands of this type on their time and purse as many other senior officers who do receive such an allowance.
Another point which Senator Turnbull has quite properly raised is the question of the relativity of the Senate allowance to zonal allowances. for members of the House of Representatives. We are not proposing on this Bill to complain that the extra SI 00 is totally inadequate or anything of that character, but I merely draw attention to the fact that there is so often a misconception as to the work demands imposed on senators compared with members of the House of Representatives, lt is commonly pointed out that members of the House of Representatives will receive more individual approaches from their constituents for representations and approaches to be made to departments for the rectification of anomalies and presentation of cases. That is probably true. But it is not to be thought that senators do not receive a very great number of simitar approaches from constituents.
It is one of the facts of public and political life that so very often constituents like to approach their parliamentary representatives of their own political complexion. Therefore, in an area which may be represented by a member of the House of Representatives of a different political complexion from that of the constituent concerned, the constituent will very often elect to by-pass that member, it is not that he has anything personal against the member, who might be a very competent man, but he would prefer to discuss his problem wilh a person of his own political persuasion. In that case he would seek out the senator of that political character. Therefore senators do get many individual representations from all over the State. In the larger States senators are required to make periodic visits to places, which they elect to do, which they delight to do, but which nevertheless are time and expense consuming. I feel that 1 should register this fact because 1 can speak as one who, because of the interruption of my continuous political association wilh this Parliament - I was here for some years and then left the chamber for some years and returned - is in a position to make an assessment of the demands now imposed on senators compared with the demands imposed on them years ago. I am not suggesting that in the years during which 1 was here before - from 1951 to 1959 - senators did not work hard and discharge the duties imposed upon them to the best of their ability. But I find a very dramatic difference today. This is associated with the new situation that this country has assumed in its own national right and in international affairs.
– All democratic countries are experiencing it.
– That could be so. But in the case of Australia it is particularly significant and the causes are not difficult to discover. Fifteen or so years ago Australia was in large measure sheltered, in her national position, national development and national aspirations, behind the strength and presence of great powers. But in the intervening years that shield has disappeared. In a very real sense Australia is now the complete master of her own destinies and is required to make decisions of a major and permanent character.
This new position is reflected in the approach to and disposition and discharge of the duties performed by members of this Parliament. They themselves can sense this new position; they can sense this new responsibility which therefore devolves upon the Parliament and upon them individually as the participants in the parliamentary scene. As a result, members of Parliament today are demanding greater facilities - here I echo what Senator Murphy said - to enable them to discharge their duties. The consideration that is brought to debates is more penetrating and deeper. Resort is had much more to research services, library services and background information.
There has been a tremendous response in this place to the provision, through the Parliamentary Library, of research facilities of a very high order. These are at our disposal and I am pleased and proud to say that they are freely availed of by members of the Parliament. The fact that this service is available and is availed of by members of the Parliament is evident in the standard of the debates. I believe that today members of the Parliament are approaching the discharge of their duties much better informed, much better equipped and with a much greater depth of information than was the case years ago. Without saying that members of the Parliament are adequately or inadequately paid - I am not discussing that - 1 believe that the opportunity should be taken to point out that this Parliament, in the individual character of its participating members, is responding enthusiastically to the new demands being imposed upon it and upon the Australian nation. It is a credit to members of the other place and of the Senate that that is so.
I find also a much greater and more continuous personal involvement of members in the parliamentary scene. We see this, particularly in this place, in the emergence of select committees to discover and investigate certain areas of. concern. Today a report was presented in this chamber by the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution. This is one of a succession of valuable reports - we trust that they will be valuable - which have been presented here and which form the basis of the thought and consideration of honourable senators as they approach legislation dealing with the subjects canvassed in those reports. Members of the Parliament are delighted to serve on these committees. Service on them is not easy. Senators have to reconcile all the other demands on them with the attendance and attention they are able to give to committee duties.
These other demands are very varied and very considerable. No member of the Parliament can be considered purely as a parliamentarian. Under the Westminster system of government in which governments rise or fall on the floor of the Parliament, the chambers are also political forums. It is not only essential but also proper and appropriate that the political character of members of the Parliament should never be put in the discard. A person coming into this place must be always conscious of the political situation that he personally and his party occupy, because it is part of our system of government. He must be conscious of the position he occupies as a parliamentarian, contributing in the technical sense to the passage and discussion of legislation and the general conduct of the administration of the country. Finally, he has to be conscious of his personal responsibility to individual electors.
Doing all those things and reconciling the parliamentary demands with the quasipolitical demands impose tremendous burdens on members of the Parliament. Therefore I at no stage make any apology for the adequate or even slightly more than adequate emolument that is paid to members of the Parliament or for any allowances that might be disposed to them. For those reasons the Australian Democratic Labor Party supports this Bill.
– I wish to say a few words on this Bill.
Senator Turnbull brought forward the point of the difference between the allowances for senators and members of the House of Representatives. We know that the allowance for a senator is now comparable with that for a member representing a city electorate. In my opinion, this has always been a very unfair attitude. If a senator does his or her job properly there is no question that he or she has a much greater area to cover.
I am not suggesting that senators should receive increased allowances, but 1 believe that the position that existed years ago should have been retained. If I remember rightly, at one time members of the House of Representatives and the Senate were on the same basis, but the government of the day introduced legislation to increase the allowances of members of the House of Representatives and, despite the discrepancy that was caused, said: ‘Either you take it in toto or you do not receive anything at all’. 1 remember talking to senators at that time. 1 well remember the interjections from my colleague Senator Lillico. I am not talking about myself; I am talking about any senator who moves around and makes his donations to organisations. If Senator Lillico will bear with me for a minute, 1 would like to remind the Senate that when that legislation came forward 1 warned senators that they were putting themselves in a position inferior to that of members of the House of Representatives. As a consequence of their not listening to me at that time, we have this discrepancy today.
It is very easy for people to say what they spend on parliamentary duties and other things; but I am of the opinion that a member of the House of Representatives would not spend any more than a member of the Senate would. 1 have served not only in the Senate but as mayor of my city for many years. I suppose that no-one is approached for donations and subscriptions more than is a mayor of a city. He is a sitting shot for everybody. So, some of the stories I have heard from members of the House of Representatives as to what donations, subscriptions and so on cost them leave me a little cold because I believe that it is a case of drawing the long bow. But, whatever is the correct amount, I believe that honourable senators should think about the point Senator Turnbull brought forward. 1 am of the opinion that there is no reason why members of the House of Representatives should be put in any position superior to that of senators.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) [S.2SJ - My remarks will be very brief. I am very disappointed that the Senate is allowing this amending legislation to be presented without giving it more thought and without reviewing in depth the anomaly that exists between the 2 Houses of the Parliament. In the final analysis what has happened is that, after a very strong protest on the last occasion this matter came before the Senate, quite a number of people on the Government side joined with us on the Opposition side to point out the anomaly existing between the allowances of a member of the House of Representatives in a city electorate and of a senator. The difference was a matter of $100. The Government has now found its way clear to correct that anomaly. But 1 believe that the Senate is being treated with scant courtesy, to use the most polite expression.
Senators have a responsibility to move around their electorates. In this day and age a senator cannot move around his electorate without a car. In many States there are not facilities for air travel between major provincial towns. Honourable senators have to use their cars and a lot of people overlook the fact that a car deteriorates these days over a period of 4 or 5 years. Deterioration can amount to anything up to $750 a year. With petrol and other expenses a car could take up the whole of a senator’s expenses of $2,750. This is just for his transport. This is besides the increasing costs of accommodation when senators visit other cities and the like. I have gone into that detail only to point out that the difference between the expenses of a senator and a member of the House of Representatives in country electorates is so small that a complete review should be made of the traditional difference between the Senate and House of Representatives.
– That is surely not consistent with your general policy for the abolition of the Senate.
– The honourable senator was the last speaker when this matter last came before the Senate and I thought he was one of the leaders of the rebels who said that this anomaly between the House of Representatives and the Senate should be altered. I admired his stand because it is very rarely that we see senators on the Government side bucking the machine. We are now discussing a matter of importance to individual senators but here we have this great anomaly where the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee) and the deputy leader on the Government side - if there was one - in the Senate do not receive proper facilities and amenities. There has not been provision made for a deputy leader on the Government side of the Senate. I would like to find out who is the deputy leader on the Government side of the Senate.
– There is not one.
– No, there is not one al all.
– Why should there be one?
– Of course there should be one. The Government has overworked ils Leader, a leader who has given everything he has to the nation. He could not leave the place for 5 minutes because there is no provision made for an official deputy, lt is a ridiculous situation for the Government not to have a deputy leader. Not only should the Government have u deputy leader, but he should be provided with the facilities and amenities which would be provided in any other democratic parliament in the world.
– We do not require deputies. Can you not get that into your skull?
– There is one thing certain, Senator Sir Magnus, and that is that you would never fill the position. But I do not want to enter a debate on that level. The Opposition has a Deputy Leader who is practically unrecognised. The arrangements that are made for his electorate allowance and for the facilities in his office in his own State are negligible. I believe that this is a matter that the Senate should look to. For too long. I believe, the Senate has been playing second fiddle and it is time that it had a look into these matters. I look to people like Senator Greenwood, Senator Wright - one of the great protagonists of the Senate - Senator Cotton and others who should sustain the very strong belief of the people of Australia that the Senate has a very great role to perform in the democratic government of this country. This difference between the 2 Houses should be closed as rapidly as possible, and for such a parsimonious gesture as is being made in this legislation-
– Let us knock it back.
– We should. As a matter of fact, if this Senate had any intestinal fortitude it would be knocking back this legislation because it is only the smallest tribute to try to pacify what was previously a strong protest against this anomaly. Here we find the Government making all this great hoo-hah about what it is doing to change the electorates in- the House of Representatives and making the parsimonious concession of $2 a week to keep the senators quiet. Shame on the senators for allowing this legislation to go through without putting up a strong case to bring about equality of the Houses that 1 believe the Senate justifiably deserves.
[8.35.1- This Bill deals with parliamentary allowances. It has been brought about by redistribution of boundaries before the last general election. Certain electorates which had previously been country electorates have been classified as city electorates and certain city electorates have come into the classification of country electorates. Because there is a differential between the allowance for a city electorate and that for a country electorate it was necessary to bring in a Bill to make the correction. At the same time 2 minor amendments were made to the Act. For instance, what is meant by the ‘day of election* is defined. The amendment was put in so that the Act would read as it has always been interpreted. Another minor amendment relates to members of the House of Representatives who stand for reelection and are unsuccessful. Their appointment ceases with the election of their successor. This is a clarification of that matter, lt is a simple one which I do not think I need to develop at this time. 1 note that the Senate has accepted this Bill and will give it a speedy passage.
I am also aware that certain honourable senators have made reference in a fairly broad canvas not to the question of allowances but to some aspects of parliamentary emoluments in terms of salary that the position of senator or member of the House of Representatives attracts. I accept that that is a vehicle for expressing some views and I do not object to it, but it should be remembered that most of what has been said on this Bill has no relation to it. It merely makes an adjustment to allowances and it does - I will come back to this in a moment - also make a slight adjustment in relation to allowances for senators. I think both Senator Turnbull and Senator Byrne made some reference to the question of allowances for officials of the Parliament. This matter comes under a different area of legislation altogether. It was raised during a debate on an Appropriation Bill previously, and as we will be dealing with the appropriations during the Budget session it is competent for any honourable senator to raise this issue again at a different level. At the same time I feel bound to say that there is no analogy between what are known here as parliamentary allowances and what are spoken of in terms of special allowances for the Presiding Officers. The parliamentary allowances quite clearly are related to the allowances necessary to reimburse a member of the House of Representatives or a senator for expenses he incurs in discharge of his responsibilities in his electorate. That carries a whole multitude of functions, some of which have been alluded to in the debate tonight. It could be related to travel, to a senator’s expenses in relation to the management of his affairs or it could be related to the demands made upon him. We could all go on citing an endless series of demands which are made upon a member. The legislature provides therefore that if a member represents a classified city electorate there is an allowance of $2,750; if he represents a country electorate, it is $3,350; and for a senator it is equal to the allowance for a city electorate which is $2,750. This is an increase on the amount of $2,650 which was previously paid to senators. They were shown in isolation previously. I think that this is a very desirable Bill. Because of the circumstances of the redistribution, some electorates were on the fringe. It was difficult to decide whether they were city or country electorates. Certain names were changed and by definition it was decided whether electorates were country or city electorates. That having been decided - I think it is set out in the back of the
Bill - then the electorate has to attract the appropriate allowance. All I can say is-
– Why do not honourable senators receive the equivalent of the allowance for country electorates?
- Senator O’Byrne discussed this matter. I think that Senator Wood made a reference to it earlier. The fact is that it happened some time ago that senators allowances were put at a figure which was below both city and country electoral allowances. Whatever else this legislation has done, at least it has brought the allowances for senators equal to the city classification of allowances for members of the House of Representatives. A view may well be held here, which would find I think great support with honourable senators, that perhaps it could be at the higher level, that is, the country level. The fact is that the allowance for senators has been brought up to the level of the city allowance for members of the House of Representatives. The readjustment across the board over the whole of the Commonwealth does not mean any significant readjustment with regard to the revenue. I think that we worked out that the top figure was approximately $3,350 on the whole totality of allowances. So, the increase is not very significant. I thank the Senate for the passage of this legislation at the second reading stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
[8.42J - Mr Temporary Chairman, the Bill is one which, in general terms, seeks to amend the principal Act. We are entitled to consider any amendment that we like in this Act. It covers a whole multitude of matters. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) dealt with some of them. I hope that he did not intend to brush aside the matters that were raised during the debate. I think that some very important questions have been raised during this debate. Without the necessity for the Opposition to move amendments to the Bill. I seek the assurance of the Leader of the Government that these matters raised will be considered.
I would deal with these matters in passing in general terms. One of them is the position of the Opposition here. On the last occasion when the Bill relevant to these matters was before the Parliament - I refer to the Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1968 which was before this chamber in November of that year - I adverted to the position of Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. Let me repeat now what I said then. I said:
I do nol know anyone in this Parliament who would- attempt lo justify the treatment that has been meted out over the years lo the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. Many people on both sides of the House have expressed the view thai il is insulting and a disgrace.
We indicated then what we thought ought to be the proper provision for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I should like some assurance that this suggestion will be taken into account before the next general consideration of this legislation. If an independent inquiry is not to be held, some consideration ought to be given to these matters by the Government. Again. I believe that the position of the Whips in this chamber ought to he considered.
I do not think that- any need exists for any apology for raising these matters. We should look at salaries comparable with the positions which are held here. We should consider not only the positions of senators and members but also particularly - even though I am one - the positions of Leaders in this chamber. Whether the position be that of Leader of the Government, the Deputy Leader of my own Party, myself, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party or any others here, we know that the position presents tremendous tasks of the utmost responsibility. I am amazed when I look al the salaries which are paid for positions of far less responsibility outside this chamber, In these matters, the Government has looked after itself pretty well. I do not think too much complaint can be made about the position of Cabinet Ministers or other Ministers. I raise this matter tonight out of charity to them because it will nol be very long before they will be sitting in the Opposition benches.
– Ha. ha!
– Oh, yes. I do not suggest when raising these matters now that they ought to be altered now. But 1 think that - before the time arrives when these matters come along for consideration, again - it will not be very long before honourable senators opposite are changing seats from the Government side to this side; or it may be that we will have the determination of these matters.
What we ought to have is a consideration of these matters in justice and in fairness, lt is not right for the Government to just brush these matters away. We have seen instances of ancillary legislation in which every indication of partiality has been given in the approach to these matters by the Government, lt is just not good enough. I wish to see some justice done. I have referred to the position of Deputy Lender of the Opposition in the Senate. When I referred to it in 1968, the position was held by Senator Cohen; it is held now by Senator Willesee. When one looks at the salaries and allowances paid, one sees that they are a disgrace, lt is all very well for the Leader of the Government to say that soon some legislation will be presented providing allowances to the generals, persons in the Navy, and so forth. When that legislation comes before us we ought to think of the situation of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition here and consider the paltry allowances that he is paid. They are less than those paid to these people who suddenly are to be lifted up to these new allowances.
I would like the Government to give some indication that these matters thai we have raised will be looked at on a basis of fairness. We must raise them here. There is no ot her way of doing it. These things are done in some backdoor manner. The legislation is introduced at 3-year intervals and everybody is told: ‘Either agree to all this or you get nothing’. I indicated before; when legislation dealing with these matters was under consideration, that the Parliament should debate these matters fairly and openly. I do not think there is anything to bc ashamed abou! regarding them. 1 do not care whether there is or not. If there is, this is all the more reason why these mailers should be looked at and debated openly. I seek some assurance that consideration will be given to the establishment of resources and facilities for senators and members in both Houses. The remarks that I have made about the need for faim ss and justice apply equally well to members in the other place.
– I do not necessarily disagree that there may well be a wide area for debate regarding some aspects of the legislation dealing with parliamentary salaries. I would say that it would not all bc one way in relation to where the argument necessarily would go in some examples; nor do I mind Senator Murphy using this Bill as the vehicle to make bis points. Actually, what the honourable senator has said is not related to this Bill. His remarks were related to the Parliamentary Allowances Act which was last amended in 1968. That matter is different from the one with which we are dealing now.
Here we are deciding whether the electorate of Kingston, for example, in South Australia is a city electorate or a country electorate. Related to this, the Bill deals first with electoral divisions and puts them into certain classifications. The same piece of legislation brings the allowances for senators - not their salaries, but their allowances - up to a level comparable with that paid to a member of the other place representing an electorate which is classified as a city electorate.
– Why was the allowance for a city electorate chosen as being comparable with the allowance for senators? Am I to understand that a senator should represent only a city area? A senator represents a wide area. Why should I, representing the area I do, be compared with the member representing a city electorate?
– If I may take the interjection, I would say that the allowance for a country electorate is higher than the allowance for a city electorate. The country electorate allowance is $3,350. The allowance for a city electorate is $2,750. It was decided to raise the allowance for a senator from $2,650 to $2,750.
– Why was it not raised to the country electorate allowance?
– That does not explain it.
– If honourable senators wish to, they may make the personal judgment that the allowance should have risen to make it closer to or equal to the allowance for a country electorate.
– So they should.
– Surely it does not mean that senators should not represent country areas but only city areas?
– I cannot stand on my feet and make debate on this subject when honourable senators are hurling conversation at me. The fact is that it was decided that allowances for senators should be given some degree of equality with allowances for members of the House of Representatives. Senator Little has suggested by way of interjection that the new allowance is not equitable; that it should have gone higher and been made equal to the allowance for a country electorate. The honourable senator is entitled to that view. He may hold that view.
– Does not the Minister believe that?
– The fact is that it is not conceded in the Bill.
– Well, put it in the Bill.
– Now, on the one hand, Senator Georges has said: ‘Let us refuse it1, and, on the other hand, someone else has said: ‘Let us go up to the country classification’.
– He said ‘knock it back’.
– I think that what is contained in the Bill is a compromise between the 2 points of view.
– I seek a little clarification. In the light of what has been said here tonight I am rather surprised to hear some honourable senators now apparently saying that the allowance of a senator should be equivalent to the allowance of a member representing a country electorate in the House of Representatives, because I well remember the debate which we had in this chamber in November 1968. During that debate the whole tenor of the argument put forward from both sides of the chamber was that there should be parity between the allowance of a senator and the allowance of a member representing a city electorate in the House of Representatives. In fact, there was a motion moved to that effect by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). Many honourable senators may recall that eventually a motion which was moved by me - and I well remember it - to increase the allowance of a senator by Si 50 was carried by 31 vo’.es to 16 votes.
At the time of moving the motion I stated - and no-one disagreed with me - that the object of the motion was not in any way to indicate that the amount of the allowance should be increased by SI 50 or any other figure; it was designed to show that the Senate required parity between the allowance of a senator and the allowance of a member representing a city electorate in the House of Representatives. For procedural reasons we could not obtain parity. Therefore the allowance was increased by $50 as a nominal figure. There was never any argument during that debate - and I have checked through the reports of it - which suggested that the allowance of a senator should be more than the allowance of :i member representing a city electorate. I just want to remind honourable senators that that was the tenor of the debate on that occasion, and the Government has done what we as a majority of the .Senate on that occasion asked it to do. lt ill behoves honourable senators now to criticise the Government which has done exactly what we asked it lo do.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third lime.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 1 809), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
– Here again we have an example of the dilatory approach which has been adopted over the years by successive Liberal governments to the great problems facing this nation. We must concede that very often they have arrived at the right decision, but they have done so many years after other people have seen the necessity for and realised the desirability of doing something to solve many of the problems. Incidentally, this suggestion for the establishment of an institute of marine research is not new. lt has been espoused for very many years. In fact, I myself have espoused it for over 20 years. In my maiden speech in this chamber I sought the establishment of an institute of marine research. I sought the expansion and extension of research on tropical agriculture and scientific investigation of the pastoral needs of the north, lt has not been without some effect at least. For many years we had a Liberal leader of successive Liberal governments who was of brilliant intellect and had great academic qualifications, but he never realised that there was a necessity for the establishment of an institute of marine research, or if he did he never espoused it. He was succeeded by a Prime Minister who was supposed to be a nature lover, who had great affection for the tropical north and who was fond of ils marine environment, but he did nothing. We had to wait until the coming to office of the present Prime Minister. John Gorton, who is much maligned by some of his colleagues and by the majority of pressmen - unjustifiably so, 1 might say.
We must pay a tribute in discussing the Australian Institute of Marine Science to the Great Barrier Reef Committee which has struggled on since 1922, attempting to meet the needs of research, particularly as it has affected the monumental structure, the Great Barrier Reef, which incidentally is the largest structure built by animal or man in the history of the world. The Great Barrier Reef Committee has had to live on practically nothing, lt has received no governmental assistance. A few valiant souls have struggled on, realising their responsibility to the needs of marine research. Practically all of the States engage in some small measure of fisheries research. There is co-operation but practically no coordination of this research. The only other research station which is investigating the needs of the marine requirements of the north is the Heron Island research station. lt is a small research station near the Great Barrier Reef, lt is struggling on wilh a few tin sheds, one director and a handyman. Do honourable senators know that one of the magnificent successive Liberal governments, some 4 or 5 years ago. saw fit to make a special grant of £5,000. provided that the Queensland Government made a similar matching grant? That is the only specific financial assistance that has been given to research on the Great Barrier Reef.
I can speak with some small measure of authority on the Great Barrier Reef because for a considerable period I was there collating specimens for many museums and universities throughout the world. I was 0..e:ed a science research scholarship on the Great Barrier Reef. I do not pose as a great authority in marine biology, but I know something of it. We realise that at last the Government will now do something about it. During the last federal election campaign the present Prime Minister saw fit to propose the establishment of the Institute of Marine Science. Whether it was for the purposes of electoral success or not, I do not know, but it is to his credit that at least he was the first Prime Minister who did something about the legitimate needs and requirements of marine biological and physical scientific research. He promised that an Institute of Marine Science would be established at Townsville at a cost of $3m. Incidentally, when we realise the tremendous sums spent on research to meet the agricultural and pastoral requirements of this community and the tremendous sums spent on industrial research, it appears that $3m will be all too little.
We must congratulate the present Prime Minister on his sagacity. Tt is to his credit that he has espoused the establishment of the Institute of Marine Science. I think it is desirable to have the Institute located in the tropical north of Australia. After all, Australia is an island continent. We were taught at school that it is the smallest continent, but incidentally it is by far the largest island in the world. We should be ashamed that over the years we have never recognised the legitimate needs of marine research and that we have never embarked on a programme of marine research. Biologists throughout, the world have talked of the hundreds of millions of tons, of possible potential food to be harvested or harnessed from the seas. In the minute organisms of the sea, the animal or zoa plankton and the botanical or phyto plankton, are protein and carbohydrates to feed millions of people. The problem concerning the harnessing and harvesting of this possible potential food has not yet been solved. It is only through the mechanism of research and closer study that we will be able to solve this problem.
There are many other problems associated with the sea. We know very little about the sea. The United States has several research institutes of world significance which are admired by marine biologists throughout the world. England has a research institute. The Soviet has floating laboratories travelling the seas of the world. Even the Belgians have engaged in marine research. It should be to our eternal shame that no research has been done by Australian scientists on the Great Barrier Reef and that no research of any reasonable measure has been sponsored by Australian governments, Federal or State. The only research of any significance that has been done on the Great Barrier Reef has been done by a British research team, by a Belgian research team and, for a very short time, by a Japanese research team and by a United States research team. We have done nothing.
The Great Barrier Reef is probably one of the most admired structures of the world. Possibly in a few years it will become one of the great playgrounds of the world. The Great Barrier Reef is 1,250 miles long and extends from the north of Queensland to the area between Bundaberg and Maryborough. The colours of the coral are magnificent. They are exceptional in their variety. The fish vary in their classifications. They are of brilliant colours and would be an example to all the dress designers of the world. If they cared to see them they would get a combination of colours which would appeal to the most fastidious of women. Those are only a couple of points about the Great Barrier Reef. We know practically nothing of the currents or the behaviour of the tides in association with the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef. We do not know the dangers of oil pollution. An inquiry has just been embarked upon, lt could quite easily be too late.
The Bill before us does not seek to establish an institute of marine science. It is a preliminary measure designed to set up what is termed an interim council to investigate and report upon the powers and functions of an establishment which will come into being in the future. We on this side of the chamber have no quarrel with the academic qualifications of the personnel of the interim council. They are all outstanding in their particular field. If there is anything wrong with the personnel of the council, it is the emphasis which has been placed on those who espouse the physical sciences. There is a minimum of marine biologists. After all, this establishment is to conduct an investigation into marine science. As is knownto anyone who has been associated with scientific investigation, the structures to meet the needs of scientific research have to be specially designed and provided with special equipment and special facilities. No member ofthe interim council is versed in the structural needs of scientific research structures. I think it would have been wise for the Government to put a man on the council who was versed in Ihe structural requirements of an institute of marine research.
The amount to be spent is $3m. Itake it that this sum has been allocatedto establish the buildings. I do not know whether the amount is to cover the cost of buildings as well as the provision of adequate and suitable equipment to meet the purposes of the institute. If it is to coverthose things, it. is a comparatively paltry amount in relation to the requirements to be met in the future and in relation to the legitimate needs of the marine scientists. I hope that in the process of time asthe council meets and deliberates no limitation will be placed on reasonable expenses incurred in the functioning of the council and that no obstacle will be placed in the way of facilities for travel. We in Australia have no example to place before the council of what is likely to be the structure required and the needs to be met. The only place where there are establishments similar to that which we visualise as being legitimately requiredto be established in Australia is overseas.
Many members of the council, some of whom 1 know, do not know the requirements of marine research. They know the requirements in relationto mineral resources on the continent andthey know the requirements in relation to the geology of places but they do not knowthe requirements of marine research. That is not to their discredit. That is not something to be held against them because they do not happen to have followed that calling after having obtained their qualifications. We believe that something should be done to meet the needs of this establishment, and the best way for the members of the council to acquaint themselves of the needs of the structure to be erected and of the equipment and facilities to be provided, is to travel overseas, see the deficiencies of the structures already erected there, see what is likely to be required in the immediate and in thefuture and then present to the Government a reasonable report on whichthe Government can deliberate with a view to setting up a worthwhile establishment at Townsville or near enough to it.
The other question which arises is whether the institute is to be part and parcel of the James Cook University of North Queensland or whether it is to be a separate establishment. I hope that it is to be a separate establishment working in collaboration and in co-operation with the Department of Marine Biology at the James Cook University. Only then can it become an establishment of world stature ranking with similar establishments in other parts of the world, accomplishing its objectives, doing its own scientific research and receiving credit and worldwide recognition for that which it has clone. We owe that tothe legitimate needs of Australia and to the world of pure science.
We have failed the world of pure science as regards Australia’s marine environment. We have failed the world of pure science as regards the Great Barrier Reef. We do not even know the depth of the dead coral on the Reef nor do we know the structure of the live coral, that is, the depth to which it extends below the surface of the sea. The deepest that the drill has gone is 700 feet and it still has been in the limestone of coral. We do not know the depth or the basis of the structure; we do not know the habits ofthe creatures associated with the Reef; and we do not know the habits ofthe creatures associated with the sea. 1 would bet - it is a fair bet and I think it would be a winning bet - that the Japs would know more than we do about the habits of our fish in our marine environment, and possibly the Russians also would know more than we do. We know comparatively little. We have never made any real endeavour to get an accurate assessment of the potential value of that which exists in the sea. We know practically nothing of the inhabitants of the sea.
The Prime Minister is to be congratulated for what he has done in this regard. I congratulate also the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) for introducing this Bill which is, one might term it, merely an interim Bill to serve the purposes of the final Bill which visualises the establishment of an institute of marine research. 1 plead with the Government not to be parsimonious as it can be so often in handing out benefits to those most in need, to those who deserve them. In this case it is not a question of need but a question of just deserts and the paying of a tribute to those who deserve it. I hope that the Government will realise this and recognise that today S3m is practically nothing. At one time £3m was an amount of value but today S3m is practically nothing, particularly in the field of research. I do not think that amount would even build the type of structure justifiably required for this purpose. It certainly will not provide the necessary equipment and the ancillary services associated with such an organisation.
Do honourable senators realise that in addition to the buildings, equipment and facilities there will need to be provided ancillary services such as fishing launches, the equipment which goes with fishing launches and the equipment required to carry out investigations into currents, tides and so on? Frankly, I believe that the Government has a great responsibility which it should ponder very carefully. I do not know whether it has in mind the establishment of a small institute for the purpose of research but I hope it realises it has a responsibility not only to the people of Australia but also to the people of the world, particularly if the sea holds the assets which the biologists believe it holds and which we read about so frequently. We have no justification for denying their assertions. If the Government is seized of this responsibility it will not be parsimonious in its approach to this problem. It will be liberal in the largesse which it distributes to meet the rights and the needs of this establishment. I wish it every success. I hope no obstacles will be placed in the way of the Interim Council to preclude the possibility of its tendering to the Government a report which will meet the legitimate needs and requirements of the Institute of Marine Science.
– I rise briefly to support this Bill which provides for the establishment of an Australian Institute of Marine Science. I think it is a very good thing for the area that this Institute is to be established in Townsville and that it is to work in co-operation with the James Cook University of North Queensland. This Institute of Marine Science is designed to cover quite a wide area of research. The Great Barrier Reef is mentioned in the Bill, and obviously various phases of research will be carried out in and around the Barrier Reef. But as 1 understand the Institute, it is to cover research into the whole possible harvest of the sea - the sedentary sea life and the moving fishes. In fact, it will carry out research into the whole fishing industry and the migration and habits of fish. Very little is known about this aspect of marine research. Nothing much has been done in the past. Not much is known about how far the fish migrate and other things such as ocean currents. Little is known of the effect of ocean currents on the habits of fish and other types of sea life, and the temperature of the water in various areas. All this will be covered by research by this proposed Institute. Some kind of boat or boats will be needed to cover the work to be done by this Institute.
In the last year or two this Parliament has acquired a very large area of ocean territory and islands under the Coral Sea Islands Act. That territory covers a considerable distance to the north east of Australia. I feel that research into that newly acquired territory will be very valuable in the future. We know very little about it now. I presume this will be a long range proposition. It will take some time to report on the findings, which will be of lasting value to this country and to other countries which are interested in this type of research. Clause 7 (2.) of the Bill states:
In making recommendations with respect to the functions of the Institute, the Interim Council shall give consideration to the need for information and research in relation to the biological and physical aspects of marine science, with particular reference to information and research concerning the effects of exploration for, or exploitation of, oil and other minerals, and of fishing operations, on or in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef.
This implies that marine research will not necessarily be confined, as we might imagine, to fishing, water temperatures, food on the seabed and everything like that. It could be extended under this clause to cover the search for and exploitation of oil and other minerals. If the Institute of Marine Science is to conduct research over such a wide field it should check on possible oil slicks from boats such as the boat which went aground in Torres Strait recently and discharged a quantity of oil. It could go further than that and check on the effect of detergents and other things which are used in dealing wilh oil slicks. Research could be carried out into their effect on the various form of fish life, coral, and other sea life. These forms of sea life could be disastrously affected by some forms of detergent, as has been found in other parts of the world. 1 hope that the Institute will be established in the not loo distant future and that it will be able to add to the scientific knowledge of this country over a wide field. I hope the knowledge will be availed of by Australia for many years to come. I believe this is a very good Bill, and I support it wholeheartedly.
– I heartily congratulate the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), who was responsible for introducing this small but very important Bill which provides for the establishment of the Australian Institute of Marine Science at Townsville in conjunction with the James Cook University of North Queensland. I hope it is the beginning of some great scientific work in the years to come. No better place exists at which the Institute could be established than Townsville or some other northern centre contiguous to the Great Barrier Reef and its adjacent islands. There is no dispute that what the Barrier Reef holds is scarcely known to our scientists, our marine biologists and others associated with marine life. Although action in this connection has been slow, the fact remains that we have now begun to encourage scientific research into marine life in that part of Australia’s waters. When I, together with other members of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources, was taking evidence in Townsville we were informed by people in the scientific world that the wealth of the Barrier Reef had been untapped. They expressed the view that there was more wealth other than oil to be obtained from the Barrier Reef than we could imagine.
Little or nothing has been done Until now. That will be conceded. With the establishment of this Institute of Marine Science we hope that the work of our scientists will be rewarded with great results. It is a slow process indeed, and it is work which calls for great research. The fish life must provide an opportunity for scientists to examine their various types and to carry out research to determine whether the fish can be used other than as a good meal on a table. Further, the Institute could lead to the construction of a large aquarium at Townsville or some nearby centre. The mainland does not have an aquarium of any size. Green Island and some of the other islands each have an aquarium. The construction of an aquarium could be a prospect to which we could look forward. Botanical life among the marine growth on the Great Barrier Reef and around contiguous islands offers great prospects for scientific research. Chemicals and pharmaceutical side products could be obtained from the application of science to a lot of this marine growth on the Great Barrier Reef and off other parts of the Queensland coast.
The Bill is only a beginning. I join with the previous speakers in wishing the attempts to do something in this field every success. We should encourage in every way possible the scientists who are interested in this type of work. I agree with Senator Dittmer that we cannot afford to be sparing if we are to get the results that we hope to achieve. We cannot do very much in any field unless we have the capital to do it. If we want the scientists to carry out effective and fruitful work, we have to encourage them by making available facilities and by recompensing them for the time they devote to their work. These men are not clock watchers. In the main, they are dedicated people. They go to the Reef, spend unlimited hours in the search for fish, shells and growth which they examine and on which they carry out experiments with a view to determining the commercial and other value of their experiments. I commend the Government for this progressive step. I trust that its efforts in this connection will be rewarded with great success.
– I want to add a few words to the comments that have been passed about this Bill. As explained by Senator Dittmer, the Opposition does not oppose it, but we take the opportunity to criticise certain aspects of it. Unlike Senator Gair, I do not propose to congratulate the Government. This activity ought to have been set in motion many years ago. The evidence would indicate that such an institute was required and that Australians or people from overseas could have carried out the type of scientific research necessary lo make a success of the project.
The grant of $3m to set up an interim organisation associated with the Institute of Marine Science at the Townsville University is one of the political windfalls that we gol when the date of the 1969 election was set. As 1 said last night when we debated the Gladstone powerhouse legislation, Queensland does not mind windfalls, lt would prefer them to bc by way oi grant, but it the windfall is the result ot the worries of a political party as to the electoral support it will get, and if it can hand out a few million dollars, Queensland will take the money on every occasion. On I (hh Sep.ember 1969 the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Whitlam, asked a question of the then Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The Leader of the Opposition asked:
He will remember telling me on the day we first sat this year that the Australian Universities Commission was then considering a proposal by the University College of Townsville to establish a research institute of marine science during the next trienoium and that lbc Commission would make recommendations in due course. He will have noted that in the report of the Commission which he received 3 months later, and tabled 3 months after that, the Commission staled that it made no recommendation!, on the p; l,pus,al as it was aware that the Government had taken the first steps towards considering whether such an institute was desirable. I ask the honourable gentleman: When did the Government take these first steps which made the Universities Commission change its mind about making recommendations? What steps has the Government so fa taken?
The then Minister for Education and Science replied:
The Chairman of the Australian Universities Commission, together with three or four other people with a knowledge in this field, including the Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, were asked to prepare a report on this proposal. I will ascertain the present position and see what information might be given to the honourable member.
Thai reply was given 5 weeks, give or take a day, before the general election of 1969. A matter of 2 or 3 weeks later the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced that a sum of money would be made available for setting up this Institute. We were lucky that the money was made available, it was made available as a matter of political expedience, not because the Government believed the Barrier Reef ought to be preserved. Many months ago in this place the late Senator Cohen asked the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who in this place represents the Minister for Education and Science, a question on notice. Question No. 670 asked by Senator Cohen reads:
Has the Government received any requests from scientific organisations for funds to promote the scientific study of the Barrier Keel’; if so, what organisations have requested funds, what were the amounts involved and what was the response of the Government to each request.
The reply reads:
The Government has received numerous requests from the Great Barrier Reef Committee for financial assistance for research work al the station on Heron Island. The Government has refused these requests on the grounds thai it already supports research on Heron Island through grants to the University of Queensland on the recommendations of (tie Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Research Grants Committee.
The grants made tinder the Australian Universities Commission programme in support of the work on Heron Island are:
These have been shared equally between the Commonwealth and State Governments. The grants made by the Commonwealth on the recommendation of the Australian Research Grants Committee which are relevant lo the scientific study of the Reef arc set OUt below:
The Australian Museum, in July 1966, made an application to the Trustees of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for a grant in connection with a research project on tropical marine inter-tidal and sub-tidal populations. An amount of 51,731 was requested. This was refused principally on the ground that the Fund is used to assist individual workers (and not institutions) undertaking independent research.
The Science and Industry Research Fund made available a grant of S200 in August 1967 and another of S952 in August 1968 to Mr D. W. Kinsey of Mauri Brothers and Thompson Research Laboratories, to assist him in research at Heron Island and One Tree Island.
In July 1968 the University of Townsville sent to the Australian Universities Commission a formal request for the establishment of a centre for Marine Science in the triennium 1970-72: The proposed centre would be very largely concerned with research on biological and physical problems of the Great Barrier Reef. The Commission is now considering the proposal and will in due course make a recommendation to the Commonwealth.
The amounts provided in 1964-66, $20,000, and in 1967-69, $30,000, would not purchase a reasonably equipped small boat to enable scientific researchers to move around the area. As Senator Dittmer said, the research station on Heron Island was the only one operating in Queensland for many years. Its efforts were hamstrung by this Government and by the Queensland State Government. In the circumstances the amount of work it was able to carry is amazing. On 17th October 1968 the Queensland Branch of the Union of Australian Women carried this resolution:
We call for immediate complete protection against the exploitation of the Great Barrier Reef. No mining or oil exploration should be allowed until a thorough, long term scientific survey of the whole reef can determine its potential and its weaknesses.
This was followed on 13th September 1968 by a Press statement by the Premier of Queensland in which he made excuses as to why the Barrier Reef ought to be subjected to mining activities. He said that no mining industry based on harvesting dead coral was permitted on the Reef. He based his recommendations at that time on the findings of Dr Ladd who made a cyclone-like visit to the Barrier Reef, compiled a brief report, disappeared from the area and has not been heard of since. Dr Grassle a noted American scientist who is still in Queensland, said of Dr Ladd’s report that it contained a recommendation for controlled exploitation of the Reef based on meagre scientific evidence. That is exactly where we stand today.
Two bodies are conducting inquiries into the Great Barrier Reef, one a royal commission and the other a committee which is investigating the depredations of the crown of thorns starfish. At the Townsville university Professor Burden-Jones leads a small team of very dedicated men and women. These people must be sustained in their research. Will grants such as that of $3m authorised by this measure be made only when an election is in the offing, or should we expect that sums of money will regularly be made available so that a proper continuity of scientific research will be maintained with adequate equipment? Will sufficient funds be made available to employ top scientists, Australian or from overseas, who are capable and trained in this field of research? If that is to be the case, obviously there is great merit in the establishment of the Institute. But if it is to be a flash in the pan offered to this country only because of lack of electoral support in a particular area at a particular time it will not have a great deal of value.
If there is to be no sort of guarantee that the Institute will be kept in permanent operation a very serious look should be taken at the possibility of adjourning for about 14 or 15 years the royal commission inquiring into drilling on the Barrier Reef; that is, that it ought to complete its present series of sittings and then go into recess for a period until the necessary research is carried out for it to make a recommendation to the Government. Perhaps a similar move could be made by the committee inquiring into the activities of the crown of thorns starfish. In other words, sufficient information is not available at present. I fear that the royal commission will recommend that immediate drilling take place for oil on every section of the Reef. I am afraid that it will not wait for the results of the necessary scientific research or for the setting up of the Marine Institute.
The Australian Academy of Science produced a report on the crown of thorns starfish. So that there will be continuity in my speech, and for the benefit of the people who will want to read it, T would like to have li pages of the report incorporated in Hansard. This section is of particular interest because it contains 2 or 3 suggestions by the Academy as to the cause of the crown of thorns starfish plague. This is one of the major questions that the Institute will have to investigate as soon as its research team commences operation. I ask for leave to have that section incorporated.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is leave granted?
– No. leave is not granted. 1 would like to know how many pages are involved.
– I told you how many pages. Time after time the Minister comes into the chamber attempting to disrupt Opposition progress. He is adopting a dog in the manger attitude. He has never yet done anything worthwhile for the Senate. In order to satisfy the dog in the manger on the other side of the chamber I will read the extract of a little over a page.
– 1 am willing to have that amount incorporated.
– I am going to read it.
– Who is the clog in the manger now?
– If you want to be a dog in the manger, you can. lt is typical of this Government that whenever a worthwhile proposition is put foward from this side of the chamber honourable senators opposite do not want the channels of government lo operate smoothly. They are interested in holding up legislation in order to slide through other legislation that they do not want exposed to public view. That is the general attitude of Government supporters. The Minister who has just snarled is the type of gentleman who does that consistently. Perhaps that is a misuse of the word ‘gentleman’. The part of the report of the Austraiian Academy of Science which I originally sought to have incorporated contains a number of suggestions put forward by the Academy and outlines possible theories as to the cause of the plague of crown of thorns starfish or Acanthaster planci The report stales:
A disturbance of the physical or biological environment may cause changes in [he population dynamics of Acanthaster planci by interfering with the development qf larvae or of juvenile or adult forms. 1 1 was agreed early in the discussion that events associated wilh the larval phase of lnc life cycle of the starfish probably holds the key to the understanding of the problem of the A planci plague.
planci reproduces by external fertilisation following spawning of gametes into the water, lt has been calculated thai a female releases from 12 to 24 million in the breeding season which is believed to extend from mid-December to midJanuary. Annual recruitment of young spat into adult populations depends upon the success of spawning, larval development, larval disperal and larval settlement (spa if all), and each of these may be influenced by the physical environment of the ecosystem. Optimum environmental conditions for all stages could result in heavy population recruitment in some years. lt was agreed that changes in the environment which could trigger off a population explosion were often subtle and seldom had a single cause: a rise or fall in surface sea temperatures was cited as a possible triggering cause, lt was also recognised that this type of speculation, though worthwhile, would yield little of practical importance in the absence of much more data about the biological, hydrological, ecological, nutritional and life cycle conditions of the Great Barrier Reef than is at present available.
Two theories based on release of predator pressure have been proposed. The first arises from the believe that living coral is probably the major predator of A. planci at the larval stage, and that destruction of coral by bombing, blasting and other human activities has reduced this pressure. (Chesher. 1 969). Whilst such human activities may have operated in some parts of the world, they have not been widespread in the region of the Great Barrier Reef and are unlikely to bc the factors in causing the plague.
The second theory, which was first proposed by Endean, is that a reduction in the population of the gastropod Charonia tritonis (giam triton has permitted the survival of an u usually large number of juvenile and adi,li forms of A. planci. Charonia tritonis is the only animal found on the Great Barrier Reef which is known regularly lo consume A. planci and il has been reported thai one Charonia tritonis can ingest up to one adult per week and presumably more juvenile forms. Endean suggests that collection by humans of the giant triton in the years since World War II has released predator pressure which normally keeps A. planci in check. He has produced indirect evidence to support the claim. It has also been suggested that Cassis cornuta, another large gastropod occurring on the reef, and a large fish, the lump-headed wrasse, eat A. planci
I believe that the Institute will be able to work in the area covered by the section of the report I have quoted. Other people are worried about the position. On 9// September 1969 the Prime Minister said, in part, in replying to a question addressed to him by the Leader of the Opposition on the effects of oil drilling on the Barrier Reef:
I think the Leader of the Opposition would or should know thai the question of oil drilling is only one of the matters which might affect the ecological balance and the safety of the Barrier Reef. We should not confine our discission of this merely io the question of oil drilling because mining of the sea bed and other matters could have equally important or perhaps more important results. At present 1 do nol think thai enough is known of the possible effects which disturbances on the Barrier Reef itself might result in, and the question of setting up a commission is one that is under consideration by the Government.
I deprecated earlier the delay of both the starfish committee and the royal commission in bringing in their reports. There has been a delay of many months, apparently because of an inability of the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland to reach agreement on the third member of the commission. As most honourable senators - even Government supporters - would know, the area of the Great Barrier Reef is already under lease to a number of oil companies. Very little of the Barrier Reef area is not already covered by a permit to explore. Exploration has been suspended temporarily. We hope that it will be suspended permanently, although this is most unlikely. 1 suppose everyone expects from the royal commission a report favourable to the oil exploiters and the moment it is received they will be ready to go into action.
The representative of the Democratic Labor Party who spoke earlier in the debate mentioned the amount of research that has been carried out by the Japanese. Japan is probably the only country which has a fairly intimate knowledge of the size, form and general location of some of the possible mineral-bearing areas of the Barrier Reef, knowledge gained from the Japanese research in that area for the purposes of commercial fishing. The Russians also possibly have a fair knowledge of the area, a knowledge which is much greater than ours. The honourable senator from the Australian Country Party who has now retired from the chamber with his worries about the Reef mentioned what was likely to happen when dispersants were used in this area. We do not know what effect they will have and we will not know until the Institute is set up on a much grander scale than it is now. Because of its limited resources and the limited cash available to it the Institute will not be able to carry out the type of research needed to show what will happen to live coral when it comes in contact with DDT, dispersants and detergents, or even the effect of oil on live coral.
The report from the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution which has only recently been tabled carries an interesting chapter on the Great Barrier Reef. The report says what is likely to happen to the
Reef. Apparently this part of the report is based on evidence which was taken by the Committee. I hope that my friend, Senator Wright, will have no objection to my incorporating in Hansard a page plus 2± paragraphs of the report. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard page 48 and part of page 49 of the report from the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution.
A great deal of controversy has arisen over possible dangers to the Great Barrier Reef, particularly from oil drilling operations and oil spillages from shipping, especially tankers. Dr Connell said that the Reef was susceptible to oil pollution as much of it was exposed or in shallow water at low tide. In his view, biological investigation of the effects of oil on coral was one of the most urgent needs.
Mr Peel said: ‘The possibility of massive oil spillage due to the sinking or grounding of a tanker is of grave concern in view of the possible effect on the Great Barrier Reef. A recent experience overseas has suggested that a major oil spillage is fatal lo all the living coral with which it comes in contact and that the area contaminated by oil does not regenerate as a living reef. No research into effects of oil spillage on the Great Barrier Reef has been conducted and there are grounds for concern that even a comparatively localised accident may have widespread effects on the reef as a whole through its disturbing influence on the ecological balance of the reef system. Research by the Department into the effect of oil on sponge corals had been inconclusive.
Though the ecological balance of the reef is very delicate, the consequences are not by any means entirely ecological. Adverse effects on a significant scale could seriously harm the tourist industry. Paradoxically, Dr Richard Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Petroleum Geology, Department of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Queensland, in a submission received by the Committee, but not presented to it in evidence, expressed the view that, in descending order of importance, the threats to the reef were tourism, tankers and oS drilling.
Dr Patricia Mather, on behalf of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, presented in evidence a submission which stated: ‘Not only is further research required on the chemistry and biology of pollution but in Great Barrier Reef waters in particular physical hydrography is most essential in mapping out the current characteristics so that the patterns of water circulation in Great Barrier Reef waters and the waters between the coast and the Reef can be known’.
We are pleased to note the establishment of the Australian Institute of Marine Science at the James Cook University of North Queensland, together with the proposal to award up to five Queen’s Fellowships annually for study in the field of marine science. These are to be open to international scholars and will be tenable at the Institute or, on its recommendation, at any other Australian university or ‘ research establishment.
The Committee commends also the growing interest in the well-being of the reef as shown by the constitution of Com mon wealth and Stale royal commissions, each wilh identical membership and terms of reference, to investigate oil drilling and associated operations on the reef, and the appointment of a joint Commonwealth-State committee to study the current plague of the crown of thorns starfish.
This Committee, during its public hearing* in Queensland, was tendered evidence of concern over possible pollution of the Great Barrier Reef, but we did nol pursue this as a particular area of investigation since it was understood that the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources had received a great deal of evidenceon the subject.
However, we. share the common concern for the future of the reef and welcome the actions being taken to protect this great and unique natural wonder of the world.
This, I believe, is si quite important section of the Committee’s report on water pollution. 1 do not propose to delay the Senate - mainly because I have only 1-i minutes of my time left - but suggestions that have been made as to the amount of research that ought to be carried out are worth considering. Again I say, as all Opposition senators who have spoken in the debate have said, that we do not oppose the Bill, but we believe that its provisions should be extended. We believe that a continuity of money should be available to ensure that a proper institute is set up at Townsville University and that it has the facilities necessary to carry out detailed research. We believe that the salaries should bc sufficiently attractive to bring to this country, if we do not already have them here, scientists who can do the job effectively, who will be able to produce the type of report which will enable us lo preserve the Great Barrier Reef, which will enable us to preserve the marine life in this area and which will enable the Reef to be exploited in the way that it should be exploited - by being looked at, but not touched.
– Bearing in mind the programme which the Senate has 1 shall endeavour to be brief. However some matters which have been raised during this debate need some further comment. I refer first to a remark made by Senator Dittmer, a remark which was probably made with goodwill but which, I think, was perhaps the type of overstatement that people can make. His statement might have been a little unfair when he said that we know nothing of the sea or the habits of fish in Australia and that very little scientific research has been done into this aspect. The only question that I wish to raise in relation to that remark, if Senator Dittmer will allow me to do so, is that State departments of fisheries have over a period of years been conducting a very worthwhile degree of research into various aspects of fisheries. I realise that there is a difference between that type of marine science research and the development which will take place once the Australian Institute of Marine Science gels under way. I believe that the work of that Institute, combined with the research which has already been carried out, should mean thai our total knowledge of the marine environment will bc considerably enhanced.
The work of the research vessels and research teams which have been engaged on this task for a number of years and which I presume will continue to be engaged, when allied with some of the research work carried out at Townsville, should have a generally beneficial effect for Australia in relation to its marine environment. I trust that there will be sufficient co-operation and co-ordination between the activities of the various persons interested in the development of marine science and that we will not have one group working in one direction and another group working in a completely unrelated direction, with no co-ordination between them and no central body lo correlate information. I hope also that the establishment of the Institute of Marine Science at Townsville, which will be located in tropical waters and which will be primarily concerned with research in tropical waters, will nol be such that the products of training available to various scientists there will be limited to marine biology in tropical areas but will assist in the work being done in other areas. The tropical waters of Australia are not the only areas which need further and greater investigation and research.
The accusation that there has been no attempt lo set up any sort of training in this field is another rather wide accusation which 1 believe is unjustified. There have been many attempts in various places and a great deal of post graduate work has been done in this field. There was an attempt through a Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme after the 1939-45 war to train people interested in developing the science of fishing and people interested in fishing generally, but unfortunately that course failed through lack of interest, lt may be that not only have governments been at fault, if there has been any fault in relation to a lack of development in this field, but also, perhaps, that there has been fault on the part of people who are intimately concerned with the marine sciences.
Another matter which has been referred to a number of times is the question of drilling for oil on the Great Barrier Reef. lt was of some significance to hear people saying that drilling on the Reef must stop, that they hoped it would never be continued and that it was a terrible thing. I do not know whether it is a terrible thing. As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution I heard whatever evidence seemed to be available from those who might have been expected to know something about the effects of oil on coral. It seems to me that the amount of research which had been done at that time was very little, and that indicated that oil was not likely to have any effect on the growth of coral. But that was an indication only at that time; it was hot in any way a final conclusion. But it does show the value of research in this field in being able to conclude one way or the other whether a conclusion has been arrived at without an adequate basis. By all means let us plug for proper research into coral; by all means let us have a moratorium on the exploration of the coral areas until such time as the research has been carried out. But to conclude, as Senator Keeffe did, that at no time could we ever have any drilling in coral areas seems to me to be reaching the conclusion before we have any facts.
That was perhaps typical of some of the other remarks that he made in his speech. He said that this Australian Institute of Marine Science was a political windfall and that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was simply taking out of the air something that he thought might help what Senator Keeffe described as his flagging political standing, or something to that effect. But this has been an objective of this Government for some time. It is a matter which has been investigated not just immediately before the election. A fairly thorough investigation has been carried out. We have a Prime Minister who, as a former Minister for Education and Science, has an interest in these matters and a sympathy for them. It seems to me to be absolute rubbish to suggest, as Senator Keeffe did, that this was purely a matter of political expediency. We have many examples of the genuine interest that has been shown by the Prime Minister of this country in questions of the environment and, in particular, in questions concerning the tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
– What are the examples?
– One example, which I was going on to quote and which I will now quote, is that the Government, being interested in the preservation of the environment, moved for and set up committees on air pollution and water pollution, both of which have now produced reports. The second of those committees produced its report today. I believe that those reports, taken together, will assist the Government in reaching some sort of programme in relation to the control of the deterioration and pollution of the environment. To suggest, as Senator Keeffe did, that here we have ad hoc-ery at its worst, with no apparent and real interest in the environment, is to make a suggestion that simply is not supported by the facts.
The committees that were set up were set up with a foresight which has not been obvious in many other fields on the part of the people who have been criticising the Government. The fact that it has not been obvious is shown when one recalls that these committees were set up early in 1968 before the general public had been made as aware as it is now of the problems of the environment and the problems of pollution. It was largely the information that came before the general public by way of the reports and hearings of the Select Committee on Air Pollution and the Select Committee on Water Pollution that gave the stimulus to the already active fears on this subject overseas and brought about the vastly increased interest in this field which is now evident but which was far from evident at the time the Government, acting with due foresight, set up those committees.
With due foresight, the Government has set up other committees in relation to matters such as the Institute of Marine Science, the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef and other matters which it seems, did not concern the Opposition as early as they concerned the Government. I commend the Government for introducing this Bill. I believe that it will bring to Australia a development and an increase in its knowledge which can only be to its general advantage.I stress that the operation of the Institute will not be limited to the development of marine science in relation to tropical waters, but that its genera) training and general research will be able to assist in the solution of problems and the gaining of knowledge of the science generally in relation to Australia.
– I am not one who is liable to nightmares; but if there is any one thing that is liable to induce one it is the thought of the crown of thorns starfish eating away at the Great Barrier Reef at the present time. If we continue to take no action, perhaps there will not be any work for the Australian Institute of Marine Science to carry out. I make that point fairly advisedly, because if the overall ecological structure of the Barrier Reef is destroyed by the starfish there will be widespread consequence that will affect the whole of the area and the ability to carry out scientific research as it is intended this Institute will do. It is for that reason that I believe that the Institute has been established at least 10 years too late. Had it been established, say, 5 years ago, perhaps the plague of the crown of thorns on the Reef would have been under control.It is not under control at the moment. As a matter of fact, there are many indications that it is completely out of control.
Let us see how we have responded and howthe Americans have responded to the threat posed by the crown of thorns. The Americans have nowhere near the responsibility that we have. They have nothing anywherenearthe type or area of reef which is under our control and which is our responsibility. Yet because they had experienced the threat from the crown of thorns starfish they immediately responded and made available a budget of$4m to combat this threat. But as yet we have done almost nothing at all. The Queensland Government has spent about$1 5,000. We have set up a committee which is making an investigation. But no physical action has taken place as yet.
I believe that the Institute of Marine Science, which is provided for in this Bill, should have been established some years ago. I hope that it will function quickly and that it will be able to bring down some recommendations in conjunction with those of the Committee on the control of the starfish, which at the present time is conducting hearings. I hope that the Institute will quickly bring down some recommendations for positive action against this major threat to the whole of the Barrier Reef. 1 consider this to be the first priority.
In conclusionI ask the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen), whether the Institute or the council that is to be set up to’ establish the Institute will be prepared or allowed to make a submission to the royal commission on the Great Barrier Reef with the thought in mind that until this Institute has had at least 10 years in which to carry out its investigation no drilling should take place on the Great Barrier Reef. I believe that the intention is for this Institute to carry out the surveys about which we have been speaking for so long- the complete scientific surveys and assessments of the whole of the Barrier Reef - before any mineral exploitation takes place. I ask whether it is possible that the council that is to be set up will make a submission to the royal commission in favour of a moratorium on drilling on the Reef until the Institute has had sufficient time to carry out some research.
– In reply- The Senate is dealing with a Bill the object of which is to provide for the establishment of an Australian Institute of Marine Science. From the fact that Queensland senators have predominated in the debate, with the single exception of Senator Rae from Tasmania, one might be excused for inferring that it was only a Queensland institute of marine science. 1 acknowledge the emphasis that has been put upon the duties that are envisaged for this Institute. At all times it has been said that when it is established its first priority will be directed to the conservation and preservation of the Great Barrier Reef. But it is not a Queensland institute of marine science; it is an Australian Institute of Marine Science. Its field of interest will extend not merely to the most important waters of the Great
Barrier Reef but also to other areas of marine interest at various places around our continental coast.
It is entirely proper that one should notice that during the debate there has not been the slightest question as to the power and competence of this Parliament to establish an Australian Institute of Marine Science. The area of sea that will provide the scope for this scientific investigation is, of course, the sea surrounding our coast. We recall that the doctrine of the continental shelf has come into our national life only in the last 20 years. By virtue of that doctrine, now established by an international treaty, Australia acquires responsibility in respect of a continental shelf which is one-third of the area of the dry land mass of Australia. So that, when one considers that that doctrine attributes to Australia possession of and responsibility for the minerals, sea life and sedentary, nonliving species of the continental shelf, nobody would deny that Australia as a nation has an interest in exploring scientifically all the resources of that area. Not only does the area provide, as we have been reminded by various speakers, enormous wealth in mineral and food products, and, in the particular area of the Great Barrier Reef, unique tourist potential but it also provides a field for scientific discovery probably unique in the world.
I recall purely from memory that one scientist has put on record that in a small area -I think it is 10 square miles - around Heron Island the number of species of fish exceeds the whole number of species in the North Atlantic. That fact, brought into association with the unique quality of the Great Barrier Reef and its size, emphasises the interest that we have. In connection with the Reef it may be permissible for me to mention the description of it that Professor Maxwell gave at a seminar in Sydney in May 1969 under the auspices of the Australian Conservation Foundation. He said that the province exceeds 1,000 miles in length and in width it ranges from 16to 200 miles. Within that province reefs are restricted to a zone along the shelf edge, extending westward for not more than 35 miles. He also said that within the zone there are more than 2,000 reefs with surface areas in excess of 200 acres, 350 reefs with surface areas of more than 5 square miles and 75 reefs with surface areas of more than 20 square miles. I just mention that as a truncated reference to the description of the Reef. It is entirely in line with the thinking - the forward thinking, the positive thinking - of the Gorton Government that the time has come when this Institute should be established and so appropriately we make, first of all, a practical approach to the problem.
With all these scientific challenges and opportunities the first thing we do is to bring before the Parliament a Bill to establish the Institute. But the only part of this Bill which is material tonight is the part which establishes an Interim Council. This Council is purely of a preliminary nature. But nobody should have any doubt, if he has read the Bill with any degree of care at all, that this Interim Council has the job of planning for an Institute which is not merely intended to be permanent but which is intended to expand and grow. The functions of the Interim Council are set out in clause 7. ft states:
The functions of the Interim Council are to make recommendations to the. Minister with respectto matters related to the establishment of the Institute, including recommendations with respect to -
Having read that it is idle to suggest that there is anything in this Bill that leaves it unclear that the Institute is not to be a branch of the University. It is to co-operate with the University. Then, to show the practical approach, the Interim Council is required to furnish to the Minister estimates of the capital and recurrent costs of the Institute. No doubt the Interim Council will proceed upon its work and in due course give us a practical report including the establishment cost, the capital cost and the recurrent cost.
Therefore it is quite obvious that the whole purpose of the Bill is to get, in a practical way, an experienced report so that a permanent and expanding institution to take upthe great challenges and opportunities of marine science in Australian waters can be permanently established. But in making those recommendations the Council is required to give consideration to the need for information and research in relation to the biological and physical aspects of marine science, with particular reference to information and research concerning the effects of exploration for, or exploitation of, oil and other minerals, and of fishing operations on or in the vicinity of the Great Barrier Reef. So there we have the functions of this Council responsibly spelt out in a form that I was pleased to see excited from Senator Dittmer and Senator Gair, as well as speakers from my side of the Senate, congratulations to the Government for a very forward looking and practical proposal which will be of great value to the future development of the marine life of this country.
I do not stay at this time of the night to refer to factors that indicate the scope of this. Reference has been made in another place to the extent to which the modern world in other democracies has seized upon the opportunity of establishing institutes of marine science with growing interest - growing in San Diego from something like 200 to 6,000 students in a period of from 6 to 10 years. It is not necessary for me to go over that, but in view of the fact thai some of the speakers have taken the occasion to denigrate the Royal Commission that is sitting upon the question of the possible pollution of the Reef by oil 1 wish to say that I cannot too strongly deprecate any references that presume to anticipate the report of that-
– Only one speaker did it, but I will not excite any challenge by being too caustic. But I am bound to put on record that I denigrate completely any suggestion that any honourable senator could anticipate that the report of that Royal Commission will not be according to the evidence and will not reveal the very great knowledge that resides in the three Commissioners. I remind the Senate that not only have we this Bill as evidence of the alertness of the Government to the challenges that are there but also have we the report of the Institute of Sciences from which Senator Keeffe quoted. We have the Committee of Inquiry on the crown of thorns starfish now operating on that problem. We have operating also the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources, whose report I hope we can expect at an early date.
I think that the Senate should rejoice that the Interim Council’s duties are in the hands of people no less purposeful than the 7 people whose names are set out in the second reading speech. Those names include not merely Dr M. F. Day of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as Chairman of the Interim Council but also Professor Burdon-Jones who is the Professor of Biological Sciences - I understand that that is his chair - in the James Cook University. Among the other distinguished colleagues who are members of the Interim Council may I mention my own pleasure at seeing Dr D. F. McMichael, Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the State of New South Wales, only because of my special interest as Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities in these matters. His interest extends to the possibility of a national marine park in the area. I know his interest in the matter. I think that the Senate ought to be very grateful that we are in this chamber at a time when the Parliament has taken the first practical step to establish an Australian Institute of Marine Science so appropriately in the area where first priority is demanded - the Great Barrier Reef - and at a time when the challenges and the opportunities for marine science investigation are so important. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 1810), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, tonight we have heard various apologies from speakers as they rose to their feet commenting on the fact that they would like to speak at greater length on the Bills to which they directed their remarks but that time and the programme before the Senate did not permit such action. This is, I feel, a pity because each one of the legislative propositions that has been brought before the Senate needs to be thoroughly investigated.
The Bill before us is merely a machinery measure. It is a bill to provide for expenditure in respect of 2 halls of residences. These are the Women’s Hall of Residence at the University of Tasmania and a hall of residence to be known as Roberts Hall at Monash University. Even the minor proposition that we have in this Bill - it may seem to be merely a machinery provision, as I have said - to provide money tha! was appropriated previously does present or should have provided an opportunity for the Senate to debate whether the halls of residence are providing or are carrying out the functions that, they were sei up to carry out or whether they are doing the work in accordance with the expenditure, and the large amounts of expenditure, which are provided by the Commonwealth.
The discussion of this legislation should provide an opportunity for the Senate to investigate the living allowances of students who attend these halls of residence or these colleges. We should be able to debate why it is that the charges to attend these colleges are as high as $18 per week whereas, I believe, the living allowance for a student is only $19 per week. So, a student finds that, after he has met his costs at one of these colleges, he has barely a few cents upon which to exist. He must provide for clothing and all sorts of extras, including the minor costs of entertaining, out of that $1 per week. It should have been possible for us to examine just how great a burden is placed upon parents of students. It should have been possible for us to examine why this situation aids only those who are wealthy and improverishes even more so those who are poor. Let me take an example. There are many situations in Queensland where-
– ] rise to lake a point ot order, Mr Acting Deputy President. 1 submit that the honourable senator is traversing matters which are completely extraneous and not related to the Bill. The Bill seeks only a reallocation of moneys that were provided in the last triennium for 2 halls of residence. The Bill provides authority for the payment of appropriate balances of the Commonwealth grants that were provided for that triennium. I ask that the honourable senator be kept to the substance, of the Bill.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Georges, you will please keep to the substance of the Bill.
– Yes. 1 am often seated for much more glaring breaches, lt seems odd that, when the Opposition k to provide only 1 speaker on this debate. I perhaps should not have been al. owed some latitude. I was saying merely that time ought to be provided to enable the implications of this provision of finance for halls of residence to be debated fully. I would indicate to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright that in the first 20 days of this sitting we dealt wilh 8 Bills. The Senate ha* now sat for 33 days. We have 22 Bills still on our notice paper and another 35 Bills are on the notice paper in another place. We are expected to cover all this ground in wha.t has been stated will be 3 days only. So, I can see why the Minister rose to his feet and stated that I was wandering somewhat from the subject of the Bill. I will not proceed any further because it was not my intention to say very much more than what I have said. The Opposition supports the Bil) and will assist in its speedy passage through t:he second reading stage.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) 1 1 0.1 91- Mr Acting Deputy President, the purpose of the States Grants (Universities) Bill 1970 is to make available to halls of residence in 2 Australian universities sums of money which previously were to have been made available to them but which, because of what the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) referred to as ‘unavoidable delays’, have had to be carried over until the present time. I understand that the sums of money concerned are $454,930 for the Roberts Hall at Monash University in Victoria and $47,241 for the Women’s Hall of Residence al the University of Tasmania. I regret - and I notice that some members in another place have expressed regret - that this money is being made available for halls of residence which to a large extent can be described as dormitories, rather than being made available for colleges of the type which are well known and which exist. I regret to say, to a too limited extent in this country. In my young days during my university course I was fortunate to be resident at a college, and I believe that a college is of immense advantage to any young student. The mere fact that a couple of hundred young men live together, talk together - the play of mind on mind - is, I believe, of immense value to them. Apparently because of the great expansion of our universities and the degree to which money has to be made available, 1 regret that the best that it is possible to do in a number of universities is to establish halls of residence which, as I said, can be described as dormitories rather than to establish fully equipped colleges.
I believe that residence at a university is essential if one is to achieve full advantage from a university. I note that the number of full time students at Australian universities who enjoy accommodation in halls of residence is comparatively limited. Fifteen per cent of full time students ‘at all Australian State, universities are in halls of residence. The situation is much better at the Australian National University. About 53% of full time students are in residence. If one compares this position with the situation in the United Kingdom, one finds that in the United Kingdom 33% of full time male students and 39% of female students are in residence in colleges at universities. But as 1 have said. 1 realise the necessity for the erection of halls of residence. But I should have hoped that it would have been possible to establish more fully equipped colleges of the kind with which I happened to be associated, as I said, during my university course.
One realises, of course, the immense financial difficulties which the Commonwealth faces in meeting the large advances of money that it has to make. When one recalls the very limited contribution which the Commonwealth made to tertiary education not so long ago, and when one looks at the large sums that are made available for purposes such as the provision of halls of residence at universities, one must admit that the Commonwealth deserves considerable credit for the financial provision that it has made. We would like to see it go a lot further. I do not wish to trespass, Mr Acting Deputy President, upon the Standing Orders, but I should like to have entered upon a discussion of the degree to which we are entitled to ask universities to do more on the question of ensuring that students who go to universities are fully equipped to p;of» from such attendance.
All of those other questions upon which Senator Georges was tempted to enter, I would be tempted to enter upon as well, but I must observe the ruling of the Chair, as Senator Georges did. But I can say that I believe one feature of the interest that the Commonwealth has taken in education, for which it deserves to be particularly commended, is its interest in tertiary education. I say this although we cannot have fully equipped colleges and halls of residence which associate students more closely with the university and allow them the opportunity to participate in the social life of the university and in the social organisations that exist there.
A hall of residence is essential to a country student. One only has to look at the circumstances under which some students are compelled to live in suburbs close to some of our universities in the larger cities to realise that halls of residence offer students facilities infinitely superior to those which are otherwise available. As I have said, I believe that when one looks back a comparatively few years and considers how little was being done in education, and when one looks at the situation today and realises how much is being done in respect of universities, one must pay a tribute to the Commonwealth. At a later stage I should like to make some reference to the dissatisfaction of a number of universities over the provision that is being made for them in other fields. I have received representations from the University of Melbourne Staff Association which indicate considerable dissatisfaction. But this is not the occasion on which to deal with that aspect. I congratulate the Government on what it is doing for these colleges from the sums of money which are made available. I congratulate the Government on what it is doing for both colleges and halls of residence.
– in reply - I agree that this Bill is simply a machinery measure to provide this year funds which were authorised last year but which were unable to be expended. I acknowledge very cordially the remarks that have been made by Senator McManus. I want to make only one comment regarding his regret that we are not providing colleges as distinct from halls of residence. The figures show that the halls of residence which we provide are essential and indispensable to the country student, and for my part I should like to sec country students given greatly increased access to universities. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 1810), on motion by Senator Dr:,ke.Brockman
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator MILLINER (Queensland) [10.301- On behalf of the Opposition I indicate that we offer no objection to this measure. As the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) said in his second reading speech, this is an enabling Bill and consequently it needs very little discussion. We accept the Minister’s assurance that the Australian Canned Fruits Board has substantial moneys lying idle in the Canned Fruit Excise Fund and has recommended that a large portion of those moneys, representing the excess over ils current requirements, be returned to those canners who contributed excise in the period 1st January 1969 to 27th March 1969. Apparently the wording of the existing Act c’oes noi permit the return of the moneys which have been paid into the Fund, and for that reason it is necessary for the Aci lo be amended as indicated. As I have said, we offer no opposition to it.
Question resolved in the. affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 1813). on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman:
Tiwi the Bill be now read a second lime.
– I indicate at the outset that the Australian Labor Party does not oppose the Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to provide
Australia with first and second line reserves of about 52,000m which will put us in a fairly secure position with our balance of payments, lt will also give us strength in our position in the international monetary market. We need that because of the fluctuations of our economy. There is no doubt that in the past strains have been placed on the balance of payments of many countries, particularly the United States of America. Only a few years ago an equalisation lax was introduced in the United States in an endeavour to conserve internal funds by preventing outgoings. American nationals who had investments overseas were requested to repatriate as much of their funds as was possible in order to give io that giant of private enterprise more security and strength within ils own economy.
When the Wilson Government came io power in Great Britain the coffers were almost empty and very severe economic restrictions had to be imposed to try to get the country into a favourable balance of trade position. Although it has taken a long time, Great Britain now is in that, position. In recent years the position in France became so desperate that she was compelled to devalue her currency in order to put her balance of payments in better order. In 1960-61 Australia was in a desperate position wilh her balance of payments. We all remember the credit squeeze which was imposed in this country. We had lo fall back on our second line of reserves to preserve our balance of payments. This second line of defence in our balance of payments means a great deal to us because wc cannot always rely on having sufficient inflow of overseas capital to balance our payments. Invariably we are in deficit on current accoun.it and we rely on overseas investment to straighten the position.
The International Monetary Fund has been able lo stabilise the currencies of various countries which have run into balance of payments difficulties, but the Fund itself is running short of international liquidity and a move has been made io remedy the situation. This Bill is part of the scheme to do that. The fact thai we can fall back on the Fund when we run into balance of payments difficulties is of particular importance to Australia because our balance of payments fluctuates as a result of our great reliance on our rural industries. At present they are in a very depressed condition on world markets, unfortunately for those engaged in them. We hope that Australia will be able to come out of the position although we would not like to do that at the expense of other countries which might be suffering drought conditions or some such difficulty.
This Fund may help under-developed countries to purchase more of our goods, therefore there will be greater sales of our rural products. I am not one who believes that because we have a mining boom at present and are able to export large amounts of minerals we can discard our rural industries. We should not be replacing one export with another export; we should be building up both exports so that we would not have to rely so much upon the importation of funds from overseas, something of which I have been critical at other times. Because of the depressed condition of our rural industries and because we rely very heavily on them, we could require assistance from the Fund at very short notice. Unless we could obtain that assistance we would be in serious difficulties while our export earnings were depressed and while there was a fall off in overseas investment, which could happen at any time. Therefore we require this second line of defence to give security to our economy, to our standard of living and to our women and children so that the good life that we enjoy may continue. We do not oppose the Bill.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the International Monetary Agreements Bill. I do not think it is necessary to speak at any length on it. In a sense this measure is highly technical. The presentation of this Bill highlights the significance of the new international monetary controls. This is particularly relevant today when we have seen recessions on the international stock exchanges and the consequent concern expressed by people in many countries as to whether we could be moving into a condition of economic depression. Against this background it is salutary that we should have a Bill of this consequence which highlights the international monetary controls and which is designed to remedy situations which, if they are not handled in time, can very well deteriorate and precipitate economic recessions or even depressions. Australia is one of the great contributors on the international scene. In common with other countries Australia’s quota in the International Monetary Fund will be increased according to the economic strength of this nation. Australia has been a contributor to and a participant in the operations of this Fund with considerable economic benefit to this country. On the other hand our contributions and participation have been valuable and salutary in the scene of world economics.
The International Monetary Fund is an agency of the United Nations. I know that in these days there is tremendous criticism of the ineffectiveness of the international body at various levels, particularly at the political level. That may be so, because that is the most difficult area in which the international body can operate, lt can be said and J think it must be said that in the areas of the specialised agencies and technical commissions, the United Nations provides an international stability and a wealth of international experience and expertise which is of immense and today of indispensable benefit to the world at large. This is a viable, active and valuable component of the United Nations. To the extent that Australia participates in it and contributes to it we are playing an increasingly major role in international deliberations and international monetary and fiscal controls. For that reason it is worth putting on record during the passage of this Bill, which my Party supports and which the whole Parliament welcomes, that it is another demonstration of Australia’s international interest and the increase in her international importance and status, which I trust the years will witness to an increasing degree with great and valuable consequences to her and particularly the under-developed nations of the world. I repeat that the Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill.
– I thank my colleagues in the Senate for their generous support of the International Monetary Agreements Bill. They have a clear understanding of what is proposed. They know that the world situation of liquidity has been under strain in the latter years. Quite a marked change has taken place in the situation of world trade as against the world reserve position. For that reason it has been decided very wisely that the International Monetary Fund, which is designed to try to keep world currency stable, should be increased in 2 particulars. Australia has agreed to join in those 2 particulars. When Australia has done this the overall situation of world liquidity will be increased. This will be necessary to balance the very heavy increase which is taking place in world trade. These figures are given in the second reading speech and may bc referred to by those who have an interest in them. Australia will emerge from this exercise quite cheaply wilh a very substantial addition to our total reserve position. Our total reserves both first and second lane will amount to nearly $2,000m. This will be a satisfactory position for a country which, as we all know, experiences from lime to time by the very nature of its economy and its dependence on big exports of primary production the hazards of drought and overseas markets, which depends very much upon balance of payment problems flowing out of changes in export income, and which needs to have a strong reserve position and a good international monetary position. For all those reasons 1 am sure the Senale is very wise in supporting this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second rime, and passed through ils remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– lt will be noted from the notice paper that this Bill is at the stage where it is to have a second reading. I have caused the Bill and the attached map to be circulated. I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. With the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
This Bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia to enable the construction by the Commonwealth of a new standard gauge railway between Port Augusta and Whyalla. The Bill also authorises the construction of the railway by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner and contains the necessary machinery provisions regarding appointment of officers and acquisition of lami. The funds for the construction of the railway will be provided through the annual appropriation for the Commonwealth Railways capital works programme and no appropriation is provided in this Bill.
Honourable senators will be aware that section 51 txxxiv) of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth to make laws with respect to railway construction in a Stare wilh Ihe consent of that State. Accordingly clause 3 of the Bill provides that the operative sections will not have effect until consent has been given by the Parliament of the State. The circumstances in which the railway was proposed are well known. Suffice it to say that in (964 the then Premier asked the then Prime Minister to construct the railway. Investigations at the time indicated that the railway would not be economic for some time. Recent developments in the carriage of steel produced at Whyalla have changed the situation and the Commonwealth Government has agreed it would be appropriate to construct the railway forthwith. An undertaking to this effect was given by the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his policy speech last October.
I have circulated a map illustrating the general route which the railway will follow. In brief the proposal is for a single line railway some 47 miles in length, with a passing loop situated at Lincoln Gap about 19 miles from Port Augusta. There will, of course, be appropriate sidings and station facilities at Whyalla. Indications are that initially there will be I freight train per day each way over the line. A passenger service will also be provided at least once per day each way, probably by Budd rail cars. The actual construction timing will depend on the results of tenders to be called and passage of the necessary enabling legislation by ihe South Australian Parliament. lt is proposed that tenders be called in the near future for earthworks and culverts and the bridge across the northern end of Spencer Gulf. Indications are that construction of the latter will be the main factor determining the completion date for the work. However, construction cannot be commenced until the South Australian Parliament has passed the necessary legislation. The work will be done by contract, following the calling of tenders, wherever it is practicable and economic to do so.
The line will be lightly trafficked by comparison with other railways, but it is intended to provide the best standards of construction and service appropriate in these circumstances. Particular attention has been paid to the question of level crossings. Arrangements have been discussed with the South Australian authorities regarding the points at which the proposed route of the railway crosses the existing alignments of the Stuart Highway to Woomera and the Port Augusta to Whyalla road which is marked Lincoln Highway on the map. As a result the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has agreed to include a road overpass in the proposed work at a point approximately 5 miles from Port Augusta and the South Australian Highways Department will divert the Port Augusta to Whyalla road to enable it to use this overpass. This will eliminate highway level crossings. There will be level crossings, catering for purely local traffic, at Lincoln Gap and the Point Lowly Road near Whyalla. These crossings will be protected by flashing lights. There will, of course, be the usual access crossings provided by agreement with the holders of pastoral leases along the route of the railway. Clause 7 of the Bill limits the cost of the railway to $7m, which does not include the additional rolling stock which will be required to operate the railway. Subject to the comments I made earlier regarding tenders and enabling legislation it is hoped to have the railway ready for operation by the end of 1971. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– Whilst it is unusual for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) to place a Bill before the Senate in this fashion, the Australian Labor Party has no objection to dealing with the legislation at this stage. As he mentioned, the Bi;i provides for the construction of a railway line between Port August and Whyalla. I remind the Senate that in 1964 the then Premier of South Australia made to the Commonwealth Government an application which was related to the demand by South Australia for rail gauge standardisation work. It took many years for the Federal Government to approve the project. Early refusals were based upon the argument that such a line would not be economic. Despite representations which were made by the South Australian Government and by honourable senators on both sides of this chamber it was not until the Governor-General’s Speech was delivered that the Government announced it intended to build the line. On 26th February we were notified by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) .that an agreement had been signed between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government to affirm the proposition that this line should be built.
The delay in deciding to build the Whyalla railway line is characteristic of the Government. Delays have occurred. Representations have been made by the government’s of South Australia, both Labor and Liberal, and by honourable senators from both sides of this chamber about the need to carry out the Commonwealth’s obligation to standardise the South Australian system and to link Adelaide with Port Pirie. The Minister has given many reasons for the delay, lt ought to be clearly understood that the Commonwealth Government has an obligation to carry out the agreement made in 1949 between the then State Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, and the Commonwealth Government. The agreement provided that standardisation work in the State should be carried out. It provided for the conversion of the northern parts of the South Australian railway system.
At present all we can get from the Commonwealth Government is an indication that the report made by the private consultants is available and is being discussed by the State Government, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, and the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth insisted that private consultants be engaged to make surveys on the proposed link between Adelaide and the standard gauge system. The delay in relation to this obligation has been too long. As soon as the 1949 agreement was signed the Commonwealth Government should have proceeded to have surveys made. I do not agree that private consultants are necessary to carry out such surveys. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner and the South Australian Railways Commissioner are competent authorities in railway organisation and track laying. All that the Commonwealth Minister had to do was to instruct the 2 railway authorities to set about programming the conversion of the system, as was promised in 1949.
Prior to the signing of the 1949 agreement, Sir Harold Clapp, in 1946, developed a standardisation project which would have committed South Australia, New South Wales and the Commonwealth. After long negotiations the New South Wales Government backed out of the project. On the initiation of the then South Australian Premier it was decided to pronounce the 1949 agreement about which I am speaking. As a result of the 1949 agreement there was an obligation to convert the south eastern part of South Australia’s railway system to 5 feet 3 inch gauge. At the stage when these further standardisation works were to be carried out the South Australian Government was to convert them to standard gauge. The State Government accepted this proposition but, in turn, it understood that the responsibilities to convert the northern part of the South Australian railway system would be accepted by the Commonwealth Government. The argument was a legal one. Legislation was introduced into the parliaments, but nothing was done till now. The net result of all the delays has been that Adelaide is isolated completely from the east-west system. It should not be.
Over the years Ministers have said that examinations had to be made. Now the consultants have made their reports. I am guessing as to what happened, but I suggest that the reports from the consultants are not suitable and do not meet the request of the South Australian Government. I suggest that the recommendations of the consultants are such that they do not provide for the conversion of the northern parts of the narrow gauge system of South Australia, which were part of the 1949 agreement. The Commonwealth Government should proceed with the link between Adelaide and Port Pirie, although it has been long delayed. I remind the Commonwealth Government that many months ago the then Liberal Premier of South Australia and before him the Labor Premier of South Australia stated that the Commonwealth Government should agree to the programme I have mentioned. Although these matters were put before the Commonwealth Government, it said that it would have a survey made by the consultants. The Prime Minister said to the South Australian Premier: T want to make it very clear that the consultants will not consider the conversion of the narrow gauge section which was a part of the 1949 agreement and a part of the State Government’s request’.
Accepting that the Port August-Whyalla connection is a good thing, in South Australia about 250 miles of narrow gauge tracks in the northern part ought to be converted to standard gauge, lt ought to be converted on the basis of the agreement between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government. The Eyre peninsula has quite an extensive railway network. 1 know the conversion of this network is not part of the project, but we have to bear in mind that in Australia large sections of railways still are not uniform. The Commonwealth Government ought to be considering a plan to meet the commitments of 1949 and to assist the States in converting large sections of narrow gauge systems. If the system in the northern part of the State is converted, the great old problem of having 2 different railway gauges merging at terminal points will be repeated. This will mean very heavy transportation expenses, which add to the final cost of transportation in Australia. This is quite contrary to the expressions and the legal arrangements which were part of the 1949 Bill.
In relation to the works that are to be carried out on the Port August-Whyalla line, I hope that the Commonwealth Railways Department and the South Australian Railways Department will have the opportunity of doing what they have always done, and that is to carry out most of the engineering works. I trust that the representations made by the South Australian State Government in connection with the urgency of linking Adelaide with the eastwest standardised system will be considered with a great deal of respect by the Commonwealth Government because the representations have been made for many years. Other honourable senators and I have raised this matter frequently. We have pointed out that in the first place there should not have been a diversion to have private consultants examine the standardisation project but that the Commonwealth Government should have accepted an obligation to standardise this system and to link Adelaide. The criticism about the long delay comes not only from Labor members but also from the State Liberal
Party, from business people, from the South Australian Chamber of Commerce and the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures.
South Australia has many basic disadvantages. lt rs isolated from the rest of Australia and from markets. The products that South Australia makes and the technical knowledge it has available to make these products are well known. 1 mention motor cars and consumer durables. Every month that the connections between Adelaide and the great markets of the east and Western Australia are delayed means millions of dollars lost to South Australian producers. That is not a fair proposition. The position ought to be changed. I urge the Minister in this place to make representations to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) insisting that the report by the private consultants, which has been made available to the Government, be made available to Parliament. At least it lays down the premise of some connection between Adelaide and the standardised system. I urge that the representations of the South Australian Premier be considered because the matter is one of urgency.
We are pleased to see a belated agreement by the Commonwealth Goverment to build the Port Augusta-Whyalla railway line. Months ago we said that such a line would be a paying proposition. Honourable senators will probably know that in another -place the Minister produced an examination or a budget of the programme which proves conclusively that the line will pay. 1 will not delay the Senate at this stage by giving the figures, but it is very clear that this line will be an economic proposition. There is no doubt that a standardised system connecting Adelaide and the new IndianPacific railway system will be a very profitable system. It will serve to ensure that Adelaide and the industries of South Australia are not isolated from the rest of Australia, which they should not be. I cannot understand why, over all these years, the Commonwealth Government has not agreed to meet its commitment, lt was part of the 1949 agreement, which is in writing. I trust the Minister will do all he can to speed up the implementation of the report and the commencement of work on the line connecting Adelaide with Port Pirie.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) [11.01 - in reply - I understand from my reading of the material given to me this afternoon that the commencement of this project depended very much on its capacity to be economically viable. This position has only just been attained with the expansion of Whyalla. Even now, it seems, there is not a great deal of traffic on the line, either for freight or passengers, but it is expected to develop. Senator Bishop has my assurance, as has every honourable senator, that when I represent a Minister in another place in a debate conducted in the Senate, I always make sure that the attention of the Minister I represent and of his Department is drawn to the Hansard report of the debate. Attention is particularly directed to any suggestions put forward by honourable senators.
Senator Bishop raised various matters which I hope to deal with briefly and accurately. He mentioned an obligation incurred by the Commonwealth in 1949 and the delay in deciding to commence the programme. My advisers tell me that the delay is linked with delay in construction of the Adelaide to Port Pirie railway line. It is suggested that the obligation incurred in 1949 is not as to time. The work is to be carried out at times to be agreed upon. As to availability of the report of the consultants, the Commonwealth is waiting on advice of the attitude of the South Australian Government. The honourable senator made the suggestion that perhaps consultants are not needed. This is an open question for anybody at any time in connection with any project The Commonwealth has no powers in this regard and in 1964 it offered to the South Australian
Government money for a study to be made. The offer was not taken up. I understand that the South Australian Government suggested that its engineering capacity was fully occupied on the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway project - a quite substantial project.
Senator Bishop wondered whether the report of the consultants does not meet the needs of the South Australian Government, and perhaps docs not cover adequately the narrow gauge projects. The agreement is only an agreement to enter into an agreement. The Commonwealth cannot find money for uneconomic works. I think honourable senators appreciate that point. It is my advice that this project has only just come within the area . of economic viability. Senator Bishop referred to the Eyre Peninsula and narrow gauge railway lines. This subject is not covered by the agreement. It is a separate system. The honourable senator spoke of the high cost of gauge breaks. This factor is consequent upon problems involved with a light volume of traffic on the line.
Senator Bishop has made it clear that the Opposition does not oppose the project but welcomes it. He expressed concern about delay. I believe that reasons explaining the delay have been given. Senator Bishop raised certain queries which I am endeavouring to answer. It is necessary to make notes very quickly on an occasion like this and I hope that my : answers will be adequate. Senator Bishop suggested that the report of the consultants should be made available in Parliament and that the South Australian representations should be acted upon. I am informed that the recent change in the South Australian Government is the only reason for . delay by the Commonwealth Government. Senator Bishop suggested that the Commonwealth Government has not done anything to meet its commitment. As I said earlier, there is no commitment as to time. There is an agreement to do something, but no commitment as to a specified date.
The Commonwealth Government is called upon to raise money from the community through taxes and to direct those funds into projects with a priority for national needs. However, it is equally important that the projects, as far as possible, are economically viable. I am grateful to Senator Bishop for his comments. I have taken them in the spirit in which he offered them. He has my assurance that I will see that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) is made aware of his comments. I will probably get them to my colleague tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to pinpoint one of the matters concerning the study by consultants and a matter which has always gravely concerned South Australia. The 1949 agreement provided:
Conversion to standard gauge of the 3 feet 6 inches gauge lines of the Peterborough Division of the South Australian railways, the conversion to standard gauge of existing locomotives and rolling stock-
There is the obligation in 1949. Representations by the Premier of South Australia to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in 1968 resulted in a letter being sent by the Prime Minister, in which he said:
We propose that a firm of independent expert consultants be appointed to undertake the feasibility study embracing the matters I have mentioned, following which the Commonwealth would be prepared to consider the matter further. The consultants would, of course, need to confer with and obtain detailed’ information from the South Australian Railways Commissioner, and I would be glad to learn whether you are agreeable to this. If so, our officers could proceed to draw up suitable terms of reference for the study of our consideration. I must stress, however, that we see the study as being confined to the question of the most efficient way of achieving rail standardisation between Adelaide and the interstate railway, and while it would embrace the matters I have mentioned (including the question of the most efficient way of dealing with traffic on branch lines), v/e are not prepared to expand it into a general study of the broad and narrow gauge systems north of Adelaide.
I hope that the Commonwealth Government will not apply that principle to the South Australian conversion and that it will accept the basic 1949 agreement to convert the whole of the system. This would avoid very heavy expense through waste of time and transportation costs.
– I wish to raise a question that has been concerning me since I first saw the agreement. I refer honourable senators to clause 4 of the Schedule to the Bill. The
Commonwealth is building the railway and will operate the railway. The responsibility for gains or losses is the Commonwealth’s, but clause 4 of the Schedule provides, in part: (1.) The Commonwealth will at its own expense erect along every boundary of the land over which the route of the railway lies a substantial fire resistant fence capable of preventing cattle, horses and sheep from entering within the said boundaries of the said land but shall not bc liable to maintain or re-construct any such fence.
It seems that the Commonwealth is to build the fence, lt is over 200 miles from Adelaide. The South Australian Railways will not have its permanent way men employed on the line. 1 presume that the Commonwealth will bc using its employees, but someone else has to keep the fence in repair. The line traverses grazing property on which there is a need for substantial fences. If it is a responsibility of the South Australian Government to maintain the fencing it can be done only at very great expense to that Government, which will have to transport men to the site. If the responsibility lies with the local property owners whose land abuts the railway line there is a great possibility of neglect of the fencing. I should have thought that it would have been in the Commonwealth’s interest, because of the damage that, cattle can cause to rolling stock and other equipment, to accept that responsibility. I consider it most peculiar for the Commonwealth to accept responsibility for constructing a fence but not to accept responsibility for maintaining it or reconstructing it. Can the Minister explain this apparent anomaly?
– Senator Cavanagh has asked for an explanation and Senator Bishop has raised a query. I deal first with the matter raised by Senator Bishop who referred to a study by consultants. I have been told by the adviser from the Department of Shipping and Transport that the study has embraced a wider aspect of some broad gauge and some narrow gauge lines. Senator Cavanagh raised what seemed lo me to be a valid point. 1 understand that the provision referred lo by the honourable senator was requested by the South Australian Government. The clause to which he referred provides for a practice similar to that which operates for the South Australian railways where property owners are held to be responsible for fencing. Nonetheless, I listened with interest to the honourable senator. He raised what seemed to mc to be a point of value. 1 shall see that Ihe matter is taken up with the Minister.
Bill agreed lo.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Printing of Publications Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed: That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise quite reluctantly to speak on the motion for the adjournment because I know of the pressure of business that is on the Senate. However, I believe that the matter that I wish to raise is one of urgency which requires an investigation by the Government. If my analysis of the situation is correct the matter to which I propose to refer shows the complete insincerity of the Government towards the people of Australia. I refer to the fact that it is quite easy for Government supporters to parade their virtues and to support campaigns which say: Buy Australian made goods; spend your money in Australia and it will have a boomerang effect. But then we see that a book of 1 ,029 pages which was recently published by a Government department has been printed in Hong Kong. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has sponsored the printing of a book entitled The Insects of Australia’, the imprint of which states:
First published’ 1970
Printed in Hong Kong by Dai Nippon Co. (International) Ltd. . . . lt goes on to state that the colour plates were printed in Australia. Of the 1.029 pages in ihe book, the 10 pages of colour prints were printed in Australia, the remainder of the book being printed outside Australia. This work could quite easily have been done in Australia by competent tradesmen. I charge the Government with insincerily, because it parades as its thoughts that Australians are particularly good workers who have very high standards of skill, lt tells employers that it is doing a wonderful job for Australia in promoting private industry. But behind the backs of the workers and the employers one of the Government’s own departments has work done in Hong Kong that could have been done quite adequately in Australia. If 1 may say so, the work, if dons in Australia, would have been superior to that which we see in this publication.
Where is the sincerity of a government which allows one of its own departments to take from workers in the printing industry in Australia approximately, on my conservative estimate, 25,000 man hours of work? If that is an indication of sincerity 1 have yet to be shown what insincerity is. 1 believe that the Government can quite easily be charged with insincerity for its action on this occasion. Not only is it insincere to its own thoughts and expressions about assisting Australia through trade promotion but also it is insincere in its treatment of the workers in the printing industry who have assisted the Government. People in the printing industry have gone out of their way to find employment for migrants who have worked in the printing industry in other parts of the world. When they have come to Australia employment has been found for them. 1 repeat what 1 have said on other occasions, that officers of the Department of Immigration will say that if they had from other industries the same co-operation in finding employment for migrants that they have had from the printing industry their task would have been much easier. But what thanks do those in the industry receive for co-operating with the Government? We find that the work involved in printing this document of 1,029 pages has been stolen from the workers in the printing industry in Australia and given to a printing firm in Hong Kong.
– About 3,000 man days.
– lt would be at least 3,000 man days, at a conservative estimate. 1 do not want to talk in terms of international competition in private industry, but a further aspect to this question is that the Japanese firm is operating in Hong Kong and perhaps is depriving Japanese people of work. The Japanese trade union movement has been fairly active in endeavouring to improve the wages of workers in Japan. 1 believe that it was a most insincere action by a Commonwealth department to take from good Australian workers work which could have been done quite adequately in Australia. If the Government referred some of the work in the book to practical printers it would find that it is substandard. 1 suggest that if a third or fourth-year apprentice in the printing industry in Australia were to execute work of this nature he would be criticised by his employers. I believe that the Government can be charged seriously with insincerity, for the reasons 1 have stated. I trust that the Minister will see that an inquiry is held into this matter to ascertain why a department of the Commonwealth has allowed work of this nature to go to Hong Kong when it could have been performed in Australia by Australians.
– It is a nice exercise to try to work out where this lecture in sincerity or insincerity should end. However, on the basis that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) could have some interest in and some ability to control the situation to which Senator Milliner has referred, I shall direct the remarks made this evening to my colleague.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 June 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700610_senate_27_s44/>.