27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 present from 423 citizens of Victoria the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully showeth,
That due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions, are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. A parity allowance should be paid to pensioners in remote areas.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with the A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Pensioners’ Federation and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition; so that our citizens who are receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. I ask this question following discussions with and at the request of a citizen of Canberra who is anguished at the news that in this fair city the price of beer is to be increased. In his many recent statements on censorship the Minister for Customs and Excise has made it clear that he is in favour of a maximisation of civil liberties as long as they do not act unduly against the common welfare. I commend the Minister for this statement. I draw his attention to the fact that in the Budget an excise tax has been imposed on wine but that individuals are free to produce wine for their own consumption without fear of penalty. However, the same individuals may not produce for their own consumption that delectable beverage, beer, without risk of heavy penalties being imposed by his Department. On behalf of this citizen of Canberra, I ask: Will the Minister act to remove this obvious anomaly so that those who produce beer for their own consumption may enjoy the same civil liberties as those who produce wine for their own consumption?
– 1 have never had the opportunity to make my own wine but in earlier years, during the war, I made my own beer. I do not recommend that as a course of action to any genuine beer drinker. 1 remember on one occasion a bottle of beer blew up and the contents covered the whole ceiling, and on other occasions tops broke off the bottles. It is not a practice I would recommend to any keen beer drinker. However, I shall convey the question to the Minister for Customs and Excise and ask him what he can do to help people in this thirsty city.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral been drawn to a report in today’s Press of an incident in Brisbane yesterday in which 40 students are reported to have barricaded themselves inside the Quensland University Regiment building and destroyed files and done other damage? As this building is Commonwealth property and as a spokesman for a group known as the Revolutionary Socialist Students Alliance claimed that files had been stolen and that the students may take over the building again next week, will the Minister invoke any necessary laws to protect Commonwealth property and to prevent further incidents such as this which are so alien to the Australian way of life?
– I did notice the newspaper column to which the honourable senator referred, but in addition to that I am able to inform him that from time to time progress reports reach the Ministers concerned - the Minister for the Army and the Attorney-General. The Commonwealth Crimes Act makes appropriate provision for the unlawful damaging of Commonwealth property and for the taking away of Commonwealth records. The AttorneyGeneral has asked for an immediate and full investigation of the matter and a report. On receipt of that report no doubt he will make a decision as to appropriate legal action.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that the American negro entertainer, Dick Gregory, has been barred from Australia for his antiwar views, does the Government intend to prove its consistency by barring the entry of John Kaputin who also intends to speak in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign? Will Mr Kaputin’s colour, political views and well known talent for effective speech making be taken into consideration when his application for entry into Australia is being decided upon?
– The Leader of the Opposition must think that I have a bit of green in my eye. I think that all of us have been circulated with an advance copy of the terms of a proposed urgency motion. I think that he is fishing, looking for some ammunition that he can use when this very weak urgency motion is moved.
– 1 am sure that this is a matter of some concern to all of us. 1 think it is a loathsome thing for children to be assaulted by perverts. Like the honourable senator, I am a little concerned about this subway which seems to me to be not very well lighted. I think that I had better direct the question, in its full context, to the Minister for the Interior to ascertain the present position and any future ideas that the National Capital Development Commission may have for the construction of further subways.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration assure me that no ban will be imposed on the entry into Australia of Mr Leo Mates, Director of the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, who is scheduled to deliver this year’s Dyason lecture for the Australian Institute of International Affairs?
– I know that the honourable senator will be interested to learn that my information is that Mr Mates has already been granted a visa for this purpose.
– la directing a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate I refer to the report that Mr Bryant, the member for Wills in another place, has been banned from taking part in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign later this month because of his views on Cambodia, ls this just another example of the double moral standards practised by the leaders of the Moratorium Campaign, including members of the Australian Labor Party, who demand the right to break laws that offend their conscience but deny the right of others to hold conscientious views contrary to their own?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI cannot make any comment in relation to the instance referred to by the honourable senator, nor have T the mental capacity to understand the machinations of the people who associate themselves with this type of moratorium.
– My question to the Leader of the Government refers to a statement by Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, on Tuesday that the governments of New South Wales and Victoria are prepared to discuss the Dartmouth Dam agreement and matters related to the Chowilla Dam and that talks were likely to be held within the next 10 days, but that the Prime Minister had not yet replied to the South Australian representations. I mention also that apparently the Minister for National Development has not indicated whether he will be attending the conference. In view of the willingness of the 3 State governments to consider the agreement again, will the Minister confer with the Prime Minister with a view to facilitating such discussions?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think it would be singularly inappropriate for us to try to dictate the nature of discussions involving the Commonwealth and the States of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia in relation to the Dartmouth Dam. The responsibility for this matter is at a very high level - the Prime Minister and State Premier level - and I would not like to be taking a message to the Prime Minister in relation to it at this point of time. I am rather surprised that the Premier of South Australia should be going into print on this subject when obviously there is some suggestion of an arrangement for discussions at the Prime Minister and Premier level. 1 shall try to ascertain the current position, but I would not want to be directing a question to the Prime Minister about it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Government noted today’s Press report of the statement yesterday by the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that it pledged continuing material support to North Vietnam and restated its faith that Communist forces would triumph throughout South East Asia? Did the Government note also that the statement was made on the twenty-fifth anniversary of North Vietnam as a republic? Is it correct to regard this statement as clearly vindicating the view of the Government that the conflict in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is not a civil war but an avowed Communist offensive designed to secure the triumph of Communist forces?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONT have not had the advantage of seeing the statement to which the honourable senator refers. T have never had any doubt that the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is actively associated with the circumstance of Vietnam. However I think the question should be directed to the Minister for External Affairs for a reply in depth. T agree with the honourable senator that there has been - this only confirms what we have all believed - a quite definitely established assistance given by the Communists to the North Vietnamese insurgents who are attempting to overrun the democratic government in South Vietnam.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether his attention has been drawn to the leading article in today’s Melbourne ‘Age’ under the heading ‘Who is laughing?’ in which the question is asked: Is the Australian society so sick that we must regard American negro Dick Gregory, a pacificist dissenter, as a threat to our national health? Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate try to salvage a shred of respect by asking Cabinet to reverse the extraordinary decision to bar Mr Gregory?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONlt will be a sorry day for Australia if the policy of any Government is determined and judgment is made by honourable senators as a result of reading a leading article. Journalists are entitled to express a view. Honourable senators are expected to make a judgment. God help us if we accept the proposition that because some journalist writes an article in a paper, ipso facto, that should become the policy of the Government.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Following the report that a Federal member of the Australian Labor Party has been banned from taking part in the Moratorium Campaign because of his views on Cambodia, I ask: Is it not a fact that Cambodia, a neutral country, is being openly subjected to aggression by Communist North Vietnam? Is it not also a fact that the Australian Labor Party claims to have significant representation on the Moratorium committee? Has any leader or member of the Australian Labor Party criticised the action of the executive of the Moratorium committee? If not, does this not indicate that the Australian Labor Party condones the aggression against Cambodia by the North Vietnamese and, at the same time, consistently does not support freedom of speech?
– The honourable senator I think will be interested to know that yesterday I bad the privilege of attending at Government House when the plenipotentiary of Cambodia presented his credentials to His Excellency. In the course of his speech he made the warmest of references to the assistance and support that Australia has given to that unfortunate country. 1 believe it is unfortunate in the extreme that when a member of the Australian Labor Party, the honourable member for Wills, visits that country and expresses a point of view which may assist the independence and integrity of Cambodia, he should be precluded from taking part in any expression of opinion on the subject in this country. Some part of the responsibility must rest with the Australian Labor Party because it has actively supported the Moratorium Campaign. Insofar as that is a lawful campaign for the expression of public views it indicates the type of thinking which directs that campaign here and which precludes one of the Labor Party’s acknowledged members from participation in the campaign simply because he is favourable to the independence of Cambodia and, incidentally, supports our fighting troops in that areas of Asia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can the Minister state whether there are any Qantas cadet pilots at present employed in the general aviation industry whilst awaiting full time flying duties as second officers with Qantas Airways? Are the salaries of these pilots, whilst working in general aviation, subsidised by Qantas? If so, what financial arrangements are made between general aviation firms and Qantas? Finally, does the Minister approve of the practice of general aviation being allowed to use Qantas cadet pilots whilst they are awaiting full time flying duties as second officers?
– This is typical of the questions I get from time to time from Senator McClelland. There is usually a sting in the tail. All I want to say before I ask the honourable senator to place his question on notice is that, in general, surely Australia is helped by trainee pilots being given opportunities to fly. As to the rest of the question I would ask that it be placed on notice so that I can obtain the details for the honourable senator.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. In view of the petition received by this Senate today requesting the pension to be readjusted to equal 30 per cent of the base wage rate, while pensioners retain the extra benefits now available to them, such as free medical service, free transport and other concessions for radio and television licences, telephone and so on, will the Minister obtain for the Senate an estimate of the value of these extra benefits so that a more realistic assessment of the actual value of the pension may be arrived at?
– I think this is a very interesting question. The honourable senator is quite right in enumerating some of the extra benefits which are made available to pensioners. I will be pleased to get what in formation I can concerning this matter.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he observed the. report of a statement made in Sydney yesterday by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin, to the Retailers Association, in which Mr Askin said thai in his view the receipts tax was not a good tax and not a fair tax and that he hoped that his State could rid itself of that tax? Will this Government take into consideration the views of the Premier of the largest State, in terms of population, in Australia when determining future policy on this matter?
I did see the report of the comment of the Premier of New South Wales. He was talking not in terms of the revenue that he gets from the tax. Quite clearly he is highly delighted to get the revenue from the tax but as I understood the report he was speaking of the method by which the money is raised, that method being usually referred to as the receipts tax. What he is saying in effect is: ‘I want the revenue but would like to have it raised in a different way.’ We all now have had the advantage of hearing the observations made by Senator McManus last night when he expressed the views of his Party in relation to the tax as a tax. I think that what he said was somewhat along the same lines as what the Premier of New South Wales is reported to have said.I read into the honourable senator’s remarks a suggestion of an awareness of the need for the revenue to be raised, but it appeared to me that what his Party was directing its mind to was the application of the tax itself. I would like to see a detailed report of what the Premier of New South Wales said before I made any other comment.
SenatorMULVIHILL- Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted the report in today’s ‘Canberra Times’ that Australian Capital Territory residents are seeking the introduction of water pollution legislation? As a prelude to such action, when will the Senate deal with item No. 9 under General Business. Orders of the Day, which encompasses the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONAs the honourable senator knows, we hope to rise at about 10.30 this evening and, in the nature of things, we will not reassemble until Tuesday of the week after next. After 8 o’clock tonight we will be dealing with General Business, and it is highly probable that for the remainder of these sittings we will be dealing with General Business at least one night each week - preferably, as far as 1 am concerned on Thursday evenings. It is very difficult for me to make a forecast as to when this item will come on again for debate; but I will have a look at the matter. This is a very topical subject. Without committing myself to any resolution, it is a matter on which I believe we might well have quite a fruitful debate in this place. But I will have a look at the matter and. when we come back after the one week recess, see what the prospects are of bringing the matter on again for debate.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether she can confirm the Press reports, before the announcement of the Government’s decision yesterday not to admit Mr Gregory, to the effect that he has been convicted 5 times of offences arising out of his partcipation in street demonstrations in the United States of America. If she is able to confirm that, will she say whether it was a factor that was taken into account in the making of the Government’s decision?
– I certainly will obtain the information for which the honourable senator has asked. I do not have it here. I think I explained quite clearly yesterday the reasons for the Government’s decision. I do not think I need to go over the details again. We will be debating this matter later and I will make the position quite clear, as I did in the answer 1 gave yesterday. As I said then, Mr Gregory’s application for a visa was not accepted as genuine and the application, therefore, has been refused. 1 made the point yesterday that the Government’s policy is to allow the maximum freedom of travel to Australia and to ensure that people are not prevented from visiting Australia just because of their political views, as has been implied here. In the Government’s view, this does not apply where the intentions are related to a one-sided distorted anti-war Moratorium campaign. 1 believe that this point will be answered in the discussion later today.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration tell the Senate how many Americans have been refused visas over the past 2 weeks and the names of those persons?
– No, I cannot.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior ascertain from his colleague and advise the Senate whether the pedestrian crossing traffic lights on Commonwealth Avenue adjacent to the Hotel Canberra are to be replaced when the new roadworks are completed?
– Yes, I will.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government noted the Press reports today of the statement of Mr John Lloyd, the spokesman for the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign, that the September Moratorium calls for the withdrawal of support for Saigon and the withdrawal of United States and Allied troops from Indo-China? Has the Government also noted that this clearly indicates that one objective of the Moratorium, for which members. of the Australian Labor Party and others have publicly indicated their support, is necessarily the success of North Vietnamese aggression and the defeat of the United States, Australian and other forces who are fighting for the self-determination of 18 million South Vietnamese people?
-The honourable senator has asked me a series of questions relating to a report in this morning’s Press. 1 certainly have not had time to digest all its implications. I appreciate the factors involved in relation to the proposed moratorium and I understand the general implications of what the pepole are trying to achieve. However, I do not think I should be asked to make a judgment off the cuff in relation to such a significant and important question as the honourable senator has posed. My reaction on reading the article was the same as his as he has expressed it to me in his question, but T would like to have a proper look at the article.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question on the matter referred to by Senator Greenwood. T ask: Is the Leader of the Government aware that nearly half the members of the United States Senate have called for exactly the same thing as the people organising the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am not aware of that. T have some reservations about the statement made by Senator Toohey.
(Question No. 526)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Deputy High Commissioners are responsible for all activities in these offices. The establishment of each office includes an officer of the Department of Immigration and locally engaged staff.
(Question No. 534)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice: ls it a fact, as stated in an article by journalist Margaret Jones, that a Canadian-Chinese woman was asked to have a cervical cancer test before being able to join her fiance in Australia. If so, is this a regular practice, or is it only applied to cases of people with wholly or partly Asian background?
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Neither the department nor officers in Canada dealing with immigration matters have been able to identify the case in question.
Medical examinations of intending migrants are standard irrespective of the background of the applicant. Cervical cancer tests are noi required as a general rule but may be carried out if considered necessary in any individual case.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This morning radio station 2CA Canberra gave what was generally a very accurate summary of some remarks 1 made last night, but in one sentence the report was not accurate. It said that I had made the statement that it was not the function of the Senate to defeat money Bills. In fact I quoted that statement as having been made by other people and said that I did not agree with it. In my remarks I went on to say that the Senate has the power to take action in regard to money Bills. I felt it was important that I should clarify my attitude on this matter.
Formal Motion for Adjournment The PRESIDENT- I have received the following letter from Senator Murphy: Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order No. 64 ] intend to move today for the purpose of dis cussing a matter of urgency:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 10.20 a.m.’
STATEMENT OF MATTER OF URGENCY:
The attack on freedom in Australia involved in the Government’s refusal to allow Mr Dick Gregory to enter this country.
ls the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.20 a.m.
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The attack on freedom in Australia involved in the Government’s refusal to allow Mr Dick Gregory to enter this country.
I have moved this motion as a matter of urgency in order that the Senate can consider the further attack which has been made on freedom in Australia. We are getting a reputation all over the world for being racist and for denying the freedoms which are accepted elsewhere as the heritage of ail humans - the basic human rights. Here in Australia month after month we hear of cases of men being stopped from going into New Guinea and, in fact, of being stopped from coming to Australia. I need only mention the names of Mr Semenov and Dr Mandel. This repressive Government is destroying the freedoms to which we are entitled. Yesterday we had another example of this when a champion of civil rights in the United States was refused entry to Australia because he intended to speak at the forthcoming Vietnam Moratorium.
– Is that the reason for which he applied to come to Australia?
– He applied to come here, so the Government tells us, for sight seeing, and that is true. He was invited to come here by Aquarius, a cultural organisation which is associated with the National Union of Australian University Students, to proceed around Australia and, in the course of that, to do some sight seeing and to appear as a comedian. That is why he asked to come here. If the Government look the trouble to check it would find that that is the truth. In the course of his sight seeing here he was asked, and intended, to speak at the Vietnam Moratorium.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) this morning again engaged in double talk when he said: ‘Look, we do not stop people from coming to Australia because of their political views. They can come to Australia and take part in political discussions. We would not stop that’. But if, in the Government’s view, a person wants to come here to take part in what it regards as a onesided Vietnam Moratorium, that is a different thing altogether. The Government says: ‘This is Australia’s message to the rest of the world: You can come here, you are free to engage in political discussion and you can have complete freedom of expression so long as you say what we want you to say. So long as you agree with us you are free to come to Australia’. The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. That right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Although Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the Government does not honour its provisions. The refusal of an entry permit to Mr Gregory is another example of the Government’s failure in this respect. lt is clear that this man is being prevented from entering Australia purely on political grounds. He is guilty of 2 crimes in the eyes of this Government. The first crime is that he holds political views on the Vietnam war which are contrary to the views of the Government and would express them in Australia. The second crime he is guilty of is that he is black. The Government is a racist government. It is regarded all round the world as being a racist government. This man is being excluded only for those 2 reasons. If he were not guilty of those 2 crimes I have no doubt that he would be allowed into Australia. Mr Gregory is an entertainer. Other entertainers are allowed into Australia, including black entertainers, but this black entertainer is being excluded because of his desire to express his political views.
Other people have been allowed into Australia to express political views which are contrary to those of the Government. Other people have been allowed to come here and speak at Vietnam moratorium campaigns and take part in the great rallies which have been held. These people were nol refused entry permits. However, they were not black. Mr Gregory has committed the twin crimes of holding political views which are unpalatable to the Government and being black. Tt is time the people of Australia were made fully aware of and rose in protest against the reputation this Government is creating for Australia all over the world. When I was in Teheran recently it was not only my experience but also the experience of others that the rest of the world regards Australia as being just about next to South Africa as a repressive country and a racist country. Nobody in Australia should be proud of this reputation. T am not. I want my country to stand in the same light as other countries, such as Canada, and be regarded as a freedom loving country. The Government talks about freedom and the free world, but decision after decision is being made in this country which would not be made in other countries.
How is it that the great United States of America can allow men like Mr Gregory to speak freely against the war in Vietnam7 How is it that Australian citizens, including members of this Parliament, can go across to the United States and speak against the war? The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), who is a member of the other place, and Senator Wheeldon, who is a member of this chamber, were allowed to speak from one end of the United States to the other against the war in Vietnam. How is it that the standard of freedom which is the right of citizens of the United States is denied to citizens of Australia? The Government’s refusal to grant a visa is not merely a denial of freedom to Mr Gregory; it is a denial of freedom to all of us. The right of people to hear Mr Gregory speak is being attacked. We are entitled to hear him. It is our basic human right. It is set out in the Declaration of human rights, as it has been set out in the other great documents through history, that we are entitled to freedom of speech. And freedom of speech is a 2-way thing. Tt is not only the right to speak; it is also the right to listen to those who speak. Why should Australia be deprived of the right to listen to the views of men such as Mr Gregory regardless of whether the Government approves of these views?
Will the Government claim that the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign is onesided? Will it raise this rubbish about sabotaging the troops and so forth? Will it claim that the people are not to be permitted to speak in Australia against the war? My great Party, the Australian Labor Party, is against this war. My Party regards it as a shame and a disgrace that our country is involved in this. The sooner we are out of it the better. We want no part of it. We think that for generations to come Australians will be ashamed of their participation in this war and will attack the Government that has involved us in it. We are entitled to and we will continue to attack the Government for our participation in this war. We are entitled to and we will continue to speak against this involvement and to speak against the Government when it uses improperly its powers to exclude persons such as Mr Gregory entering the country. The sooner the government realises that it has taken the country on the wrong course in relation to Vietnam the better it will be for the security for Australia. The sooner the Government realises that its conduct in attempting to deter persons from speaking their minds will do injury to the Government the better it will be. I do not think Australians will tolerate this constant erosion of freedom of speech in Australia.
Members of the Government speak with a double tongue. They will rise in this debate and say that the Government is not against political discussion, that anyone can say what he likes as long as he does not say anything to which the Government objects. Perhaps Government speakers will explain why Linus Pauling was allowed into Australia in 1964 from the United States of America perhaps to speak on an antiVietnam platform, why General Hugh Hester was allowed in in 1967 from the United States to speak on an anti-Vietnam platform, why Doctor Connor Cruise O’Brien was allowed in in 1968 from Ireland to speak on such a platform, why Felix Green was allowed in in 1968 from the United Kingdom to speak on such a platform, and why Professors Schiller and Whittaker were allowed in in 1969 to speak on anti- Vietnam platforms, and yet Mr Dick Gregory has been prevented from entering Australia in 1970. Why were these persons permitted to come to Australia and why is Mr Gregory not permitted to come to Australia? These people espouse the same views. The difference is that Mr Gregory is black and the others were white. 1 think the Government is doing a great disservice to this country. I think it should reverse this decision.
Why is this Government entitled to abuse the powers which have been given to it for certain purposes in order to deny freedom of speech in Australia? Surely it is an abuse, a perversity, of the discretions which are allowed to the Government when it refuses entry when a man wants to air political views. He is a non-violent person. It is not suggested that Mr Gregory will start a revolution in Australia. It is not suggested that he will commit crimes in Australia. What is this refusal of entry but a simple denial of freedom of speech, a denial of the right of Australians to hear what this man has to say? If the Government thinks that it will prevent discussion of the war, or if the Government thinks that by continuing to take this stand it will prevent Australians from speaking against the war, it is mistaken because the more it tries to repress dissent against the war the more that dissent will increase. The tide is flowing against the Government and these acts are the acts of a desperate government which is trying to justify a policy which more and more is being rejected by the Australian people.
But the issue goes further than that. We are getting closer and closer to 1984. Recently we read and heard about the tapping of telephones. The terrible thing about that was that such action was taken for granted. That was the terrible thing, that the public servant concerned said: What is the fuss about? lt is normal for us to do that’. Honourable senators opposite stand up in this chamber and say: What is the fuss about? Why are you complaining like this? This is nothing out of the ordinary. Australia ought to bc doing this kind of thing. Do not think that it is abnormal for us to refuse entry to persons such as Mr Gregory and to take action which other countries woud not lake. Other countries such as the United Slates, the United Kingdom and Canada would allow persons such as Mr Gregory to enter their countries, yet it is becoming the norm for Australia to refuse entry to such persons. This is what is to be accepted in our country. One by one this Government is breaking down the liberties of the Australian people and it keeps telling them: Do not get upset about it. What is all the fuss about? There is nothing wrong with this. This is what we have always done and this is what we will continue to do.’
The stage has been reached when this Senate must speak out, and speak out resolutely on this question. From now on, as far as 1. am concerned, whenever the Government indulges in this kind of repressive conduct which is aimed not only at those who seek to enter Australia but also at the liberties of the Australian people and their right to hear opinions of all kinds, then I will raise the matter in the Senate. Mo longer will the Government get away with it. We will see that it is exposed for what it is. It is a repressive, racist Government, and it should be exposed to the whole world for what it is.
[11.52] - I never thought the day would come when’ I would have to listen to a speech in the Senate such as that which we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I believe that people all over Australia would feel as I do. I am disturbed that we should be subjected to the kind of charge that he has made which is. I believe, without foundation, false and indeed most damaging to the freedom which we believe should be enjoyed by all Australians. I would like to give a few facts about the matter which is now before the chamber, because J think it would be a good thing to know the details of the application for a visa which is the basis of the urgency motion. On about 20th August this year the Australian ConsulateGeneral in New York received an application from Richard Gregory, known as Dick Gregory, for a visa to visit Australia.
– Was that the only one?
– If Senator Georges is interested in this matter, as I believe he is, I think he should listen to what I am saying because it Ls surprising how much one learns if one listens. I give Senator Georges, quite kindly, that little piece of advice. As I was saying, on 20th August the Australian ConsulateGeneral in New York received an application from Dick Gregory for a visa to visit Australia for 2 weeks, departing from the United States on 28th August. The application form was lodged by Gregory. It showed Gregory’s occupation as ‘entertainer - self-employed’. The application also showed, alongside the question ‘purpose of visit’ the answer ‘sightseeing’. Information received in connection with the application indicated that Gregory proposed travelling to Sydney via Honolulu, London, Rome, Lusaka in Zambia, Nairobi, Bombay and Perth, arriving at Perth on 13th September 1970. No information was given and no representations were made by any person or organisation in Australia concerning Gregory’s visa application. At no time did Gregory himself disclose any information beyond what he showed in his application, and he made no reference to any sponsorship by persons or organisations.
After full consideration of the application it was decided that authority should not be given for the issue of a visit visa to Gregory. This decision was notified by cable to the Australian Consulate-General in New York. I am very disappointed that Senator Murphy, in his speech, rather laboured the point that some colour question was involved in this matter. I would like to give htm another instance which I think answers very well the point he made which 1 believe was a most false point. This is interesting to note and it will interest Senator Georges very much because he asked me a question about this yesterday.
– Why did you not answer it?
– Because the honourable senator did not mention a name. 1 know that sometimes I can see something in a crystal ball or read someone’s mind, but honourable senators will agree that when 1 am not given a person’s name it becomes a little difficult. Senator Georges did not name the person; he referred only to a Baptist Minister. Many Baptist Ministers may be wishing to come to Australia; I do not know. 1 know many Baptist Ministers. But I certainly cannot answer an honourable senator’s question if he does not give me a name. But now I can answer the honourable senator’s question because I have the information. The situation with Senator Georges is typical of the whole Opposition. Opposition senators cannot state a name and have no facts but still they make a charge, but when facts are available and are being stated they cannot keep quiet for one minute to listen to them. I will now state the facts and if next time the honourable senator will give me the name of the person involved I might be able to do better for him. An application for a visit visa was lodged in conjunction with Gregory’s application by one James Robert McGraw, who was born on 3rd December 1935 and who showed his occupation as clergyman at the Colombia Baptist Church, New York. I am sure that this must be the person in whom Senator Georges is interested. Mr McGraw showed the purpose of his visit as sight-seeing, and his travel itinerary and proposed arrival date in Perth were the same as those indicated for Mr
Gregory. The application by Mr McGraw for a visa for a 2-week visit to Australia was refused also.
– Oh, but the Leader of the Opposition tries to imply in this chamber and to tell the people of Australia that we have not accepted Gregory because there was a racial situation, because this man was of coloured skin. That is a false statement because this man Mr McGraw was refused also and he, 1 am informed, is not of coloured skin.
– What is his colour?
– He is a white man.
– White in skin.
– Yes, white in skin, as the honourable senator corrects me. But let me get back to the facts because I must give some information. McGraw also was refused and the Australian Consulate-General in New York was advised of the refusal by cable, also on 28th August 1970. Senator Georges asked me another question this morning and perhaps I was a little curt in answering him. I just said ‘No’. I do not carry all these figures about in my head.
– You just do not bother.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Georges will cease interjecting.
– I think this information also might be interesting to Senator Georges because it shows, as we all well know in this country, that many people visit Australia. People like to come to Australia. We have more than 360,000 visitors from all sources coming to Australia each year and, to mention the point in which Senator Georges is so interested, American visitors are currently arriving at the rate of 65,000 per annum. That, 1 believe, answers a few of the points.
– T did not ask for that information.
– T must have misunderstood the honourable senator; I thought he had sought that information.
– You did misunderstand.
– Never mind; you have that as a bonus. Let me get back to the point because this is a very serious matter. The thing that disturbs me in this is the misrepresentations that are being made. The Government’s policy is to allow the maximum freedom of travel to Australia and people are not prevented from visiting Australia just because their political views may differ from those of the Government. But this must be subject to the essential consideration of Australia’s national interest. The Government is not willing to authorise visits by persons whose activities are considered to be contrary to the national interest and where the stated purpose of the visit is judged to be not bona fide. I stress that. This is the point £ made yesterday and which I make again. In the Government’s view this applies where the intentions are related to a one-sided, distorted anti-war Moratorium Campaign which is inimical to the objectives for which our troops are fighting in Vietnam. I treat this with great sincerity and with deep feeling. I believe every Australian does. If authority were given to people to come to Australia for the purpose of this Moratorium Campaign I believe it would be betraying Australian servicemen in Vietnam. In Vietnam young Australians are performing a task of which we are proud. 1, as are thousand of other Australians, am proud of our servicemen wherever they may be. I oppose anything that would betray those young men. T would oppose anything that would destroy or damage the morale of our troops.
– You are a murderer.
– Mr Deputy President, that remark is most offensive.
– I object most strongly to that remark. I ask that Senator Hendrickson make an unqualified withdrawal immediately of that comment. It is despicable.
– I was provoked into making the interjection I made when I heard Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin describe this side of the chamber as being disloyal and not in full support of those people whom she has conscripted to be murdered in Vietnam. I take exception to that. If the honourable senator is guilty and does not like to take responsibility for her guilt, I will withdraw.
– I ask that Senator Hendrickson’s interjection be withdrawn. The honourable senator is making a speech. I object.
– 1 will withdraw the statement I made.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator Hendrickson, you must return to your seat if you wish to interject. You are completely out of order in interjecting from where you are.
– I will speak from my own seat, then.
– I ask for an unaqualified withdrawal.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator has withdrawn.
– He has not withdrawn.
– He did not withdraw unequivocally.
– I ask that the honourable senator give an unqualified withdrawal. He has not done that. He is deliberately muddying the waters.
– I will do the same as the 20-year olds the honourable senator is conscripting. Under the rules of this Parliament, I withdraw.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Hendrickson, are you prepared to give an unqualified withdrawal?
– I have had a look at the dictionary and the words I use are: I withdraw. You cannot get any better than that.
– With respect to you, Mr Deputy President, Senator Hendrickson has not given an unqualified withdrawal of his comment.
– I will put it in writing if you wish, Mr Deputy President. If Senator Anderson is not satisfied with my statement I will repeat it again I withdraw. What more does he want?
– Senator Hendrickson, you will withdraw the words you used.
– Mr Deputy President, I ask you to be reasonable. I was asked to withdraw.
– 1 accept that as a withdrawal.
– 1 can only say again what I said before. 1 want to repeat exact the words that I used because apparently they have been misunderstood. I said that if authority were given to persons to come to Australia for this purpose it would have the effect of betraying Australian servicemen in Vietnam and damaging the morale of our troops. That is what I said and that is what I believe. We must, on all scores, see that that is never done. I also say, as I said yesterday, that giving encouragement to those who seek not peace but peaceful submission, to those who seek to promote the power of the mob and the rule of the streets with the consequent threat that that involves to the maintenance of law and order in this country is a most disturbing thing and we cannot-
– The honourable senator gave that to us yesterday.
– Yes, T gave it to honourable senators yesterday and it is exactly the same statement. It still remains the point in which the Government believes, lt believes it decision is correct.
– See how you get on with law and order.
– Order! Honourable senators must cease interjecting. I protected Senator Murphy as well as I was able from interjections and I expect order from the Opposition side of the House. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin is entitled to make her speech. I am not going to have the interjections which are going on at the present time.
– Consistent with the reasons I stated yesterday and which were stated by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) yesterday the Government will not authorise the entry of Mr Gregory. I have already told honourable senators that when Mr Gregory said that the purpose of his visit was sightseeing his application for a visa was not accepted as genuine. That application has therefore been refused. Surely those last remarks of mine answer all the points raised by Senator Murphy. Gregory’s application for a visa was not accepted as genuine and was therefore refused. Senator Murphy talks about some alleged racial distinction. I have previously answered questions about racial distinction in explaining the refusal of another person’s application and I think that answer in itself would be sufficient to answer Senator Murphy’s question today. He mentioned a number of people and asked me whether their applications for entry had been granted. I cannot give him an answer in respect of every case. In any case it is obvious that he is not listening to me. It is very interesting that Senator Murphy frequently asks me a question and when I endeavour to give him an answer he carries on an animated conversation with an honourable senator sitting beside him. That is all right if that is what he wants to do but I should have thought he would want to know whether I can answer his questions. I am not able to give him answers about all the people about whom he asked. He did ask about a Colonel Hester and the information I am given is that his application to visit was approved some years ago.
We listened last night in this chamber to a maiden speech which impressed me tremendously. Senator Douglas Scott, who delivered that speech, spoke of freedom. It is all very well to talk about freedom but each and every one of us must always bear in mind that we should do our utmost to see that freedom in this country is not destroyed. That surely is our whole purpose.
– You have no 20- year-old sons of your own.
-lt is not often in this chamber that one would wish to make a personal comment, but Senator Hendrickson, who has now left the chamber, has made a pretty nasty comment to me. I have no sons. I am unmarried. A poet once wrote: ‘The men who would have been their sons gave their immortality.’ I think that this can be remembered of the men who served in a war and who did not come back and of some people in this country whose lives have been altered because of that. I believe that we must fight as they did for the freedom of this country and strive to keep this freedom from being destroyed as the Opposition would appear to wish it to be destroyed.
– I want to bring this debate back to a rational plane. The Leader of the Opposition in this place referred to national interest. It appears that honourable senators opposite are trying to drown me out with interjections. I have entered this debate in a temperate manner but if honourable senators opposite want to dish out muck I can also give it to them. I said that we were dealing or attempting to deal with this matter in a temperate manner. The Leader of the Opposition referred to national interest. That is a phrase that can be variously defined. I want to commence by quoting a remark by an illustrious former British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. He said that his idea of the post-war world would be a place in which anyone could buy a ticket from Blackpool to anywhere. It is true that that objective has not been completely realised. We went through the period of the cold war and now I want to bring us up to the present situation.
The Leader of the Opposition in this place referred to a situation which he says is now becoming the norm in this country. He made a comparison between the United States of America and Britain on the one hand and the situation that has developed in Australia in recent years. The amazing fact is that during the long period to which I have just referred more people of the kind who could perhaps be described as non-conformists were allowed to enter the United States and United Kingdom than were allowed to come here. More impediments to their entry were raised in this country than in those others. I heard last night Senator Douglas Scott make his maiden speech and I heard Senator McClelland on it. Running through it was the underlying theme of what I suppose we could call a sort of British way of life and a concept of freedom. I am reminded that at the time of the referendum our powers to deal with subversive bodies a Polish member of the Communist Party named Gerhardt Eisler was involved in a problem in the United States. He arrived in England and an attempt was made to extradite him back to the United States. He went before a British judge in the Bow Street court and the judge said: ‘He has committed no crime against Great Britain. If he does commit such a crime, he will be dealt with’. He was allowed to stay in England.
The point I am getting at is that there is a presumption of guilt. When a visitor is to come to Australia, the Government sometimes overrates his eloquence and says: He will say something about the war in Vietnam which will create industrial turbulence or some other form of turbulence. Therefore, he will not be allowed to come here’. This is where we part company with the Government. We are not much concerned with whether a visitor is black, white or brindle or whether he is native born or overseas born. What we want to see is the law applied consistently to people if they are lawbreakers. The Government is worried about what Dick Gregory will say here.
If we are talking about visitors from the United States, let us look at some of the Americans who have come here either as visitors or as permanent residents. The current issue of the Melbourne publication, the Catholic Worker’ refers to one permanent resident from the United States who, when asked why he came to Australia, went into a great monologue to the effect that in America the coloured people were being coddled. He made a very unflattering statement about people owning a property in a rural area in Australia. He said: ‘If Aboriginals took my daughters out into the bush, I know what I would do with them* - implying a virtual lynching law. Fortunately, he would be part of a minute section of the vast American population. But nobody begins to worry about him and say: Should he come here?’ He is allowed to come here and stay here.
This gets back to the point Senator Murphy made about anticipating what people will say. In regard to what is the norm, we can go back to the era when Harold Macmillan was the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Bulganin and Khrushchev visited England. Do nol let us forget that at that time we did not have the ideological thaw that we have now. In line with the typical British attitude of adopting a sensible approach, they were allowed to visit England. Last night Senator Douglas Scott referred to the idea of restrained discipline. Possibly that idea was followed by people in England who differed with Bulganin and Khrushchev, as I and other people here do. Those 2 men were allowed to go to England on a diplomatic mission. People who did not want to listen did not have to. Things were kept in perspective.
Not so long ago 2 people who represent the 2 extreme viewpoints in Northern Ireland - Bernadette Devlin and Rev. Ian Paisley - visited the United Slates. They both had their rallies at Madison Square Garden and other places. I suppose that people such as Senator Davidson and others who are well versed in the American scene would appreciate that Bernadette Devlin might have received loud applause in New York and Rev. Ian Paisley might have been given an equally vocal reception in northern Pennsylvania. The point I am trying to make is that the United Slates did not get into a panic and say that there would be riots because these 2 people put contrary viewpoints. As a matter of fact, I suppose that whatever views they put forward were absorbed in the broad American spectrum and there were no additions to the conflicts that America has at the present time. Whether we like it or not, it is a plain fact of life that the siphoning off of an excessive amount of money for expenditure in South East Asia has contributed to the inability of the United States Treasury to meet some of the urban problems that have racial overtones. That is one of the problems in America. The point I make is that that situation exists.
Senator Murphy’s broad thesis is that the Government seems to be completely unforgiving in regard to this ban. Obviously in British governments, whether they be Labour or Conservative - I am linking Ernest Bevin with 1 or 2 Conservative Foreign Secretaries - There have been latent feelings about the Stern Gang and some of the atrocities that were perpetrated against British servicemen. Let me say that in my own Australian Labor Party branches I have men who were members of the British Army and who have reservations on that score. But those men do not say that because a particular gentleman who warned to go to New Guinea had a Stern Gang background he should have been denied entry to New Guinea - in effect the past was forgotten. The point I am making is that Great Britain and America seem to have a much more sophisticated attitude of letting bygones be bygones than we have. Here there seems to be a fear of the spoken word. We can read some of the speeches made by a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. He seemed to have a much harsher attitude to Nehru of India and to Kenyatta than his Conservative counterparts in Great Britain had. There seems to be an interplay of African militants who visit Britain, but nobody tries to ban them or say that they should not visit here.
A political leader in some African republics rides higher than Dick Gregory ever did. The Government is trying to make this an issue of national security because somebody has reservations on Vietnam. If supporters of the Government want to be so sensitive about Vietnam, I ask them to ponder on this: If you are going to disparage the role of Australian servicemen in South Vietnam, if you want to look at it in that way, why do you not have a go at United States Senator Fulbright? You would not be game to deny him a visa because you know what an upheaval would follow. You have this ultra-sensitivity about who is playing the right role in Vietnam. I remind you that Senator Fulbright once thought that we did not count at all as a participator in the Vietnam conflict, and he is a United States senator. He is entitled to have his views. If there is to be such a sensitive attitude in the guise of national interests, it should not be forgotten that there are many conscripts in South Vietnam. It is true that many people,’ that is, among relatives of conscripts, may not have taken to the streets to demonstrate, but many approaches have been made to members of the Opposition, and also to Government supporters. People ask: ‘Do you really believe that this deployment of troops will make any worthwhile contribution to peace in Asia?’
I remind honourable senators opposite that many fellows have been shot down in their prime’ in Vietnam - many 20 year olds. It is inevitable that South Vietnam will have a coalition government. It will be a mixture of representatives of the Vietcong, neutralists and the present government of South Vietnam. When that comes about you may well ask yourselves: ‘What did we achieve?’ I say that deliberately. It could be said about World War IT that the Nazi hordes were driven back, but there is no guarantee that the ultimate government in South Vietnam will nol be a hybrid show. It will be a government comprising elements fighting which our soldiers have been killed. As to the objectives the Government is attempting to achieve in Vietnam, ultimately the United States Government will say that the time has come for agreement to be reached there. We will then tail along, the same as we have done on many other occasions.
I want to return now to the interplay between travellers and permanent migrants. We have never objected - and Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin knows this well - when action has been taken against people who have come out here and have been involved in crimes against Australia, perhaps through drug running or in other fields. I will not regale the Minister now with particular case histories. Nobody has objected when people have been a menace in that way. Super-confidence men may have been admitted to this country. The law applies. We object now because the Government is trying to equate criminals with people who hold non-conformist political views. That is where we part company with the Government completely. The Government adopts the attitude that we are always wrong and the Government is always right. It has amazed me over the last 5 years. Within the last 48 hours I have approached the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) on another matter regarding naturalisation rejections in company with a deputation.
For a long while we have chided the Government about its attitude to naturalisation vetoes and even to entry permits. The policy has been very one-sided and we have asked why equal treatment was not given to extremists on the right and extremists on the left. The Government has always taken the attitude, ‘Mother knows best’. It was made clear that it was not for us to reason why. Only a few weeks ago the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) finally obtained from Mr Lynch figures in relation to the people who have been refused naturalisation. We on this side of the chamber still believe that the ratio is not as it should be, but there has been an admission that naturalisation has been denied to some people on the far right. Whenever society has been menaced, the violence on the right has been more of a positive nature.
It may be claimed that a flaming speech by Dick Gregory will incite vandalism by people in Sydney and Melbourne. 1 dispute that. The people who sponsor moratoriums are a mixed grill, holding different viewpoints. Political capital can be made out of that. Government supporters make capital out of it through accusations of guilt by association. Frequently honourable senators opposite say: ‘So and so. who is organising a demonstration, is left of the Labor Party.’ Because a Labor man participates in that demonstration the Government claims that he is way over to the left.
The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), one of my colleagues in the other place, threw an interjection at the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes). He asked: What about your uncle? He is involved in a peace movement in Sydney.’ The Attorney-General was very angry about it. That is why I was a little truculent when I commenced my speech. I did not like the attitude of one or two people and the atmosphere here. I believe that if we are to have a proper democratic approach we must have consistency of purpose. It is one of my regrets that we are taunted as though our Socialist tenets are unpatriotic, lt is to the credit of the British Socialist Governments that whoever has been Home Secretary, he has treated equally the people on the far left and the people on the far right. This is a secret fear I have always had. When the chips are down the Government is always inclined to placate people who go off the deep end on one side. On the question of moral values, on one occasion Senator McClelland raised a query about Gunner O’Neil. Some honourable senators opposite said that he was defying a lawful command and the extreme punishment imposed was justified.
I am sorry that our comrades from the small Party, the Australian Democratic Labor Party, are not present. We talk about materialistic concepts of Marxism and about atheistic Communism. We have always tried to argue that there are better alternatives. All the churches are changing. Senator Fitzgerald is aware of a situation in Malta where an elderly archbishop held a view that because people had different attitudes they should not be allowed to speak. Because of Vatican intervention a different viewpoint was adopted. Attempts are made to kill ideas. Someone might say:
You are going to quote “Scope” or “Tribune”, or something like that”. 1 could refer honourable senators opposite to the London ‘Catholic Tablet’ or the London Catholic Herald’. They are hardly left wing newspapers, but some of their views on South Vietnam would have applied equally to the situation when British conscripts were fighting in Korea.
Unfortunately, we seem to bc so Utopian in our ideas. We think we are going to build a wonderful society. Life being what it is, we have to live with all sorts of people. This is part of the lesson wc learn. It is on that basis that we feet that the Government is trying to marry Vietnam objectives with the right of people to move from one country to another. We dispute the theory of guilt by association. Any person who comes here should bc entitled to express contrary political views, on the understanding that if he offends against our laws he will be treated the same as any native born Australian.
– In order to continue on the same plane as that, on which Senator Mulvihill spoke I shall make a few remarks in an attempt to throw some light on the matter. I would like firstly to reply to a couple of points made by Senator Mulvihill. He said that Australia and the Australian Government are getting the reputation of being racist. I suggest to him that it is ludicrous to say that of a Government which has done as much as this Government has done to further the interests of non-racism, particularly through the Colombo Plan. It is worth no further comment than simply to say that anybody who thinks that this Government is following racist policies should study the number of students who are being assisted in this country at the moment, having been brought here as a result of the programme carried on hy the present. Government. Senator Murphy also referred to the Declaration of Human Rights. I think it was perhaps unfortunate that he did not have in his mind at the time some of the other provisions of the Declaration of Human Rights - the ones that he omitted to mention. Let me refer first to Article 12 which states:
No-one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference wilh his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
I think that some of those who would be the most vocal in supporting the admission of Mr Gregory would be those who might be described as having invaded the privacy of the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) recently, but that is perhaps a different question. The fact is that everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. Article 29 has this to say:
I venture to suggest that someone who has the reputation of having done a great deal to ensure that there was no recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and did not meet the just requirements of public order and the general welfare in a democratic society is someone who may well be not admitted to this country to carry on in the way in which he obviously has carried on in the United States. I refer to Mr Dick Gregory of 5 convictions fame.
– You should read what a Supreme Court justice said about him.
– I should like to read what Mr Gregory himself said about this subject. In an interview which was reported in the ‘Canberra Times’ of yesterday, 2nd September, Mr Gregory said that he had been convicted 5 times after Negro civil rights marches in the United States. He added:
But I’ve never been convicted of a felony . . . I might just come out there anyway and see what
I can’t hurt, like a government official.
If that is not a threat intended to be taken-
– Read what the other papers say and be fair. He said: ‘I might eat a government official’.
– I am reading this one which says: ‘I might just come out there anyway and see what I can’t hurt, like a government official*. Obviously he has every intention of coming here and stirring up as much trouble as he can. On page 93 of his book entitled ‘Write Me In!’ there is a paragraph headed ‘Calculated Revolution’ in which the following appears:
But revolutionary action does not require an army of support. Spontaneous reaction involves larger numbers of people than calculated revolution. It takes only a half a dozen committed men to bring a city to a standstill. Ten thousand black folks in the streets of the ghetto are like, wind and snow; a momentary storm which runs its course in a few days. As always happens after a natural disaster, the National Guard comes in abd cleans up the disaster area, but six skilled revolutionaries can control the destructive natural forces as scientists attempt to do with the weather. When the National Guard pulls into an area, the revolutionaries will pull out. And after the Guard leaves, they will move in again to initiate new action.
So he goes on with his plans for that kind of revolution of which we have heard so much from other people, people who had used that means to take over a number of free countries of the world - Czechoslovakia and the rest. Let me return to the Declaration of Human Rights and read Article 30. It states:
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
If honourable senators care to look at the kind of books that Dick Gregory writes I think they will find that they fairly clearly advocate a breach of Article 30 of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Let me turn now to the question of freedom to which Senator Murphy referred. I suppose that freedom of speech is something that Senator Murphy may well be able to speak about because, if I remember correctly, it was the Party to which Senator Murphy belongs which prevented his exercising his right of freedom of speech at a recent conference in New South Wales and which caused him to go to Victoria so that he could have a platform on which to speak. Let me mention what the Moratorium organisers have done in relation to Mr Bryant. This was referred to in today’s newspapers. They say that they will not permit him to take any official part in the Moratorium planned for 18th September. These are the people who are protesting about freedom. I wonder what they would do if they had the opportunity to admit someone to this country who may not agree with their views. Let me mention also what Mr Joe Chamberlain said about the Labor Party. He is a well known spokesman for the Labor Party, a man who, from his long experience in the Labor Party, should know what has gone on within it. This is the Party whose members are standing here today complaining about the Government’s restriction of freedom. Let us consider what the Labor Party does in this field. Mr Chamberlain said:
Despite statements to the contrary, the ALP, both State and Federal, has never had a conscience vote written into the platform.
There have been many questions before Conference that have been keenly fought, but the minority has never argued it should be exempt from the majority decision on the ground of conscience.
– They are like sheep.
– Yes. Great conscience men, are they not? Let us look now at some of the other things that are of concern, bearing in mind the . kind of things that are going on and the kind of people who are complaining about the action of the Government. We have the interesting matter of the association of this question with the proposed Moratorium to be held later this month, so 1 think that with some interest we can look back on the last Moratorium and see what happened them. At that Moratorium in Melbourne in May there were 4 speakers - Dr Cairns, Mr Laurie Carmichael of the National Committee of the Communist Party, Mr Michael Hyde, a Maoist from Monash University-
– He has since been expelled.
– I. am sorry; formerly of the Monash University, and Mr Sam Goldbloom of the Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament which is a well known organisation associated wilh the Communist World Peace Council, or at least a fellow traveller organisation. Mr Goldbloom is accused - there is plenty of evidence of this from former members of the Communist Part)’ - of being, and may very well still be, an important member of the Communist Party. What did the people who organised the Melbourne Moratorium do? They got 3 of the 4 speakers who are either very clearly Communist or very clearly fellow travellers.
What kind of principles does Communism advocate for Australia? Certainly not freedom. Let us see also who financed the Melbourne Moratorium. Is it not a fact that me Melbourne Moratorium was financed, or at least underwritten, by the Communist Council for International Co-operation and Disarmament? If anyone does not think so, let him look at the minutes of the Moratorium organisation of 9th December 1969 and see whether an offer was not made and accepted. But let us not go too far into that. Instead let us take a further look at some of the other things that have gone on.
I mention the supporters of the Moratorium; the people who would bring mob action to Australia, mobs in the streets as a method of government; the people who clearly advocated, as Dr Cairns has done, that anarchy should, in effect, reign: the people like Mr Gregory who have advocated that anarchy should reign and that we should no longer have any regard for the parliamentary principle of democracy, that it is right and just for people to take over if they do not like what is being done by a government. This is the principle which those people advocate, ls that in the best interests of Australia? I suggest that it is not. I suggest also that it is somewhat ironical thai the day which has been chosen to bring up this matter is the 3 1st anniversary of the war which saw such great destruction while people fought against a regime such as that which these people would like to see introduced, whether it be Communist, Nazi or Fascist. Many people fought and died in that terrible war.
A schizophrenic attitude exists among the people who advocate the admission of Mr Gregory so that he may create even more chaos in the streets. Where do the people who are so keen on peace stand in relation to the actions of the North Vietnamese and Vietcong in invading Laos and Cambodia? Where do these people stand in relation to the recent shelling of an orphanage by Communists? 1 shall not waste the time of the Senate going into the details of this incident because it has been referred to on a number of occasions in this chamber. Have the people who are supposedly the supporters of freedom and peace protested about the shelling of this orphanage? No. they have not. Where are these people? They are marching down the Street carrying the flag of North Vietnam. This is what the people who are supposedly the supporters of peace and freedom are doing. It is becoming more and more obvious that the people who support the introduction into this country of anarchy, lawlessness, mob rule, demonstrations in the streets and the invasion of private homes are the same people who complain when this country takes steps to protect itself. I believe that a government which did not take steps to protect itself against that type of trouble would be falling down in its responsibility to look after the people it governs.
The controversy is over whether the Government should allow Mr Gregory to come to Australia and, as he flippantly claimed, engage in sightseeing. I imagine that he has sights he would like to see. Would he like to see the sort of sights which he advocates in his books? Would he like to see the sort of sights which led to his arrest and conviction on 5 occasions? Would he like to see Australians who are genuinely concerned about the situation in South East Asia led into committing an act which they will later regret? Would he like to see them led into a situation where they will find themselves in breach of the law? Would he like to see them led into a situation where they will find themselves before a court and convicted of a breach of the law?
Let us examine whether this is the sort of action we should advocate. It was said by Senator Murphy that Dr J. F. Cairns was allowed into the United States of America and given a free rein. One sometimes wonders whether he should not have stayed there because he advocates the type of anarchy which is being advocated in the United States and which is the cause of a great deal of trouble in the United States. It is also becoming the cause of a great deal of trouble in this country. I suppose many honourable senators on the other side of the chamber are smirking and saying: “This is very funny. Let us have anarchy. Let us have mob rule. Let us have people taking over in the streets. Let us forget about the institutions of the Parliament’.
– The honourable senator’s Party said that in 1941 when it deserted this country.
– I will not reply to any interjection from Senator Hendrickson. From the nature of the interjections he has made in this chamber he has indicated the things which he would like to see done.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I enter into this debate mainly to discuss the reasons which were given by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) for his refusal to allow Mr Gregory to enter this country. I commence my remarks by referring to an article which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of today’s date, which states:
Mr Lynch’s statement made the Gregory case the Government’s first positive blow in the ‘law and order’ campaign being pressed strongly by Liberal and Country Party members.
It was quite clear from remarks made in the Budget debate last night that LiberalCountry Party back benchers are forcing the Government to make law and order the main issue of the forthcoming Senate election. I hope that the election will be fought on the issue of law and order. In this way the people of Australia will be able to decide the type of law and order and the type of freedom that there should be in this country. The article quotes the Minister for Immigration as having said that people were not prevented from entering Australia just because their political views differed from those of the Government. What are the reasons for refusing admittance to Mr Gregory? He said that he was coming here as a sightseer. There is no doubt that he would see a lot of sights in Australia as well as speaking in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. Do honourable senators opposite think that he is coming to Australia only to speak in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and nothing else? Surely he would travel around Australia and be a sightseer. He would be a welcome visitor to Australia if he were allowed to come here. The article quotes the Minister for Immigration as also saying:
In the Government’s view this applies where the intentions are related to a one-sided, distorted anti-war Moratorium Campaign inimical to the objects for which Australian troops are fighting in Vietnam.
And thirdly, it would give encouragement to those-
I imagine the Minister is referring to those people who are organising the Moratorium Campaign in protest against Australia’s involvement in Vietnam - who seek not peace but peaceful submission, to those who seek to promote the rule of the streets and the power of the mob with the subsequent threat that that involves to the maintenance of law and order in this country. lt is said that the refusal to grant an entry permit to Gregory is the first positive blow in a law and order campaign for the Senate election which is to be held later this year. I would be very pleased to take part in an election on the issue of law and order in this country.
– What side will the honourable senator be on?
– I will be on the side which the honourable senator’s father was on in 1921 when he took part in the formulation of the Socialist policy of the Australian Labor Party. I remember the conference in 1.921 and will talk about it if the honourable senator wants me to do so. Who are the evil spirits in this country who are advocating disorder and disruption? As named by Sir Henry Bolte, there are 2 people in this country who are doing it. One is Mr Bob Hawke of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. However, the real evil villain is Dr Jim Cairns ot Victoria. He is Vi lifted as being a man who is committed to disruption and breach of the law. However, on every occasion on which Dr Cairns has spoken in support of a protest against the war in Vietnam he has counselled peace. It was a bitter blow to the hawks on the other side of the chamber when the last Moratorium Campaign was so peaceful in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. However, it was not so peaceful in South Australia because members of the armed forces were sent in as provocateurs. I believe that they were directed by the Government to try and break up the Moratorium Campaign in South Australia because the other peaceful demonstrations a couple of days earlier had been successful. These tactics will be used again on 18th and 19th September. The provocateurs will be in there to see that the next Moratorium Campaign is not peaceful.
Honourable senators opposite are advocating the introduction of legislation to ensure law and order. Was there any talk about a law and order Bill when a threat was made on the life of Arthur Calwell? Was any attempt made to ensure law and order at that time? Was there any talk about law and order when Dr Jim Cairns was attacked in his own home? No, there was no talk about law and order. But there is talk of law and order today because of a demonstration which was held outside the home of the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes), lt was an arranged demonstration. Who advised the Press and television media to be present when the demonstration was held? For how long had Mr Hughes been practising the left hook which was photographed from many different angles in the various issues of the daily Press? The Government should stand up and admit that it arranged and provoked the demonstration.
Silting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with the phoney demonstration that took place outside the residence of the Attorney-General. In case any part of what I said was not heard by honourable senators, J shall repeat the sequence of events. I want to know how it came to be that there was an arranged demonstration at that place which the Press and the television camera mcn were invited to attend. I want to know how long the Attorney-General has been practising the left hook which was photographed from so many different angles, which photographs appeared in so many issues of the metropolitan daily Press. I further want to know who placed the cricket bat in a convenient: position for the Attorney-General to be able to have photographs of it taken. To me this appears to be the first blow that the Government has attempted to strike in its law and order campaign for the coming Senate election.
Why does not the Government use the laws it has at present? Why does it not enforce the present laws of the country? Why are the young men who refuse to register for national service not gaoled? Why did not the Government carry out its proposal to put them to work on isolated farms or sheep stations in the centre of Australia? Has not the Government the intestinal fortitude to enforce the laws that it has? People break the law, and the Government says that the law has to be obeyed. It says that the honourable member for Lalor is encouraging people to break the law, that he is the evil spirit that exists in Australia at present. But it has not the intestinal fortitude to enforce the laws that the Parliament has authorised to be put on the statute book. People have been convicted of offences against the National Service Act and the Government is not prepared to collect the fines imposed on them. If it is good enough for the Government to ignore the law and to have the courts used for the purpose of convicting people, and if the Government is not prepared to enforce the sentences imposed by the courts, how can the Government gain any respect from the people when it tries to say that other people are encouraging a breach of the law? Obviously the law must be a bad one if the Government is not prepared to enforce it. If the Government is of the opinion that the law is a bad one, how can it substantiate criticism of people who say that a bad law should be protested against. Surely the stage has been reached where the law has to be enforced or has to come off the statute book.
I challenge the Government to enforce the law as part of its law and order campaign for the Senate election. I would be only too pleased to take part in a campaign of this nature, but I am satisfied that such a campaign is another phoney trick pulled by the Government to distract attention from its mismanagement of the Australian economy. The Government wants some other’ issue to bring before the people to distract the attention of the pensioners and the taxpayers who have had more taken away from them than has been given to them. The Government thought up this phoney law and order campaign for the Senate election. Someone must have read Time’ magazine or ‘Newsweek’ to have thought of this; Government members would not have been able to think of it themselves. They have thought up this law and order campaign for the Senate election. That will suit the Australian Labor Party down to the ground. We will fight on that issue any time the Government wants to fight on it. T have not much more to say on this issue.
I think it is a disgraceful act on the part of the Government to refuse entry into
Australia of Gregory for the purpose of sight seeing and, while visiting, of addressing Australians on the evils of the Vietnam war. The war is an evil one. No matter how the Government may try to justify our involvement in it, over SO per cent of Australians do not believe the Government. That is borne out by the gallup polls that have been conducted and by the demonstrations that people have held in protest against our involvement.
– Can the honourable senator refer to any such gallup poli?
– The last one 1 saw was substantially in favour of our withdrawal from Vietnam. The Government look no notice of that. No doubt the Government has some control over the pollsters who conduct these gallup polls because since the last one showed such an overwhelming majority in favour of withdrawal another poll has not been conducted. I would like to know now whether the gallup pollsters will conduct another poll. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said that troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam on the same basis and in the same ratio as American troop withdrawals but no Australian troops have been withdrawn. They are still stuck in Vietnam and are still being shot at by people whom this Government has not the intestinal fortitude to declare to be enemies of Australia.
The Minister for Immigration has refused to allow a man to come here to talk to Australians because he would disturb the morale of the Australian troops in Vietnam. That is one of the reasons why Gregory is not allowed into Australia. But the Government has not the intestinal fortitude to declare that there arc any enemies of Australia in Vietnam. No war has been declared. The 20-year-olds are carrying the burden for Australia. It is business as usual for everyone else. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) admitted that in his Budget Speech when he said that this year profits in industry had risen by 14 per cent. That was probably the biggest factor in the inflationary spiral. It is business as usual for everyone except the 20-year-olds. When will the Government wake up to the fact that Australians do not support a policy of this nature? We support Gregory’s application to visit this country to inform and to alert us about what is going on in
America in respect of America’s Involvement in Vietnam. I urge the Government to reconsider its decision.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The Senate is debating a matter of urgency raised by Senator Murphy. It refers to the attack on freedom in Australia involved in the Government’s refusal to allow Mr Dick Gregory to enter this country. Immediately we see that there is freedom within this country when on the floor of the Parliament the actions of the Federal Government can be challenged by the Opposition. If honourable senators opposite think that this is a matter of urgency and if it weighs heavily on their minds, we in this place can be quite proud that they have the right to bring it forward. I would be quite pleased if the Opposition would adopt the general attitude that we have a government elected by the people in control of this country’s affairs. Over a period of years the Government has sought to decide the rights and wrongs of particular issues. I believe that Australia has a proud record in the immigration field. I would hope that irrespective of whether the present Opposition or this Government is in power, the Federal Government always will decide, from the knowledge which it is able to obtain from various sources, who will be allowed into our household.
– Make sure their politics are right:
- Senator Cavanagh says that if the Opposition were in power it would make certain that only visitors whose politics were right would be allowed into Australia. I do not believe that this is the attitude of the present Government, because over the years we have seen people admitted to Australia who have possessed a wide variety of political affiliations. We note that the matter we are discussing is the major issue, on this day in 1970, in the view of the Labor Party. Each year some 360,000 visitors are admitted to Australia, and more than 65,000 of them come from the United States of America. T think this is the second occasion this year on which the Opposition has moved an urgency motion to question why the Government should have prohibited a visitor from coming to Australia.
I am confident that the Opposition believes that this matter has nothing to do with colour, although one or two Opposition speakers have attempted to suggest that it has. Surely the record of this Government stands for itself. Over the past years there is no case on record in which we have sought to prevent a visitor from coming to Australia because he was coloured. I am quite proud of that fact. The Government has attempted to prevent individuals coming to Australia who may be harmful to our community. I believe that we would all support an immigration policy which provides that people with criminal records should not be admitted as immigrants to our society. I would suggest that as a good policy we should not admit visitors if in actual fact they seek to come here with some criminal intent.
– Are you claiming that Gregory is a criminal?
– I am quite ignorant of the background of Mr Dick Gregory. Although I have done some reading about him, I realise that articles that are written about an individual and reports that are issued from time to time about an individual can belie the position. The reading that I have done on Mr Gregory indicates that he is a person Who has grown up in a very hard society in America and who has gained a considerable amount of fame for the attitude which he has adopted towards black-white relationships in America. Some of .his writings in America greatly entertained me. Because of the society that exists in the United States and in some other countries today, his writings must be of great public interest. But it is for this Federal Government to decide whether he should be admitted to Australia, from the knowledge that it may have gained from a variety of sources; not necessarily from the public media and not necessarily from information obtained from members of Parliament. The Government obtains from various sources information which indicates that certain persons should not be allowed into Australia because of the trouble that they might bring with them. I support the view that the Federal Government - whether it be a Labor government or an anti-Socialistic government - should have the right to decide who enters Australia. 1 am sure all honourable senators would agree with me that this should be the case.
– But you do not know what it is all about, do you?
– 1 probably know as much about it as Senator Lacey, although 1 do not know his degree of knowledge of this matter. Let us look at the facts. This is a challenge by the Labor Party. Senator Murphy’s motion refers to the attack on freedom in Australia involved in the Government’s refusal to grant an entry permit to Gregory. 1 am quite certain that the Opposition would agree with me when I say that it is to the forefront in’ advocating great freedom in our society.
– The records prove that.
– Senator Hendrickson says that the records prove that. He indicates that he is a member of a party which allows great freedom. Senator Hendrickson nods to signify his assent. If we think about this question of freedom and the Labor Party’s adherence to its principles regarding the freedom of individuals, we quickly come to the matter of Captain Sam Benson. When one looks at the matter one sees a party advocating freedom, but there is absolutely no freedom in the Labor Party when it comes to voting in freedom. We all know that in party political matters generally there is usually allegiance by party members to the general view of the party. But we would all agree that amongst Opposition members there is very tight allegiance and strict adherence to the Party view, to the extent that when Captain Benson, who was a member of the Labor Party in another place, was immediately excluded from the Party when he attempted to show some independence. There is, in actual fact, no freedom of voting within the Labor Party.
– What about Hannaford?
- Senator Hannaford was never put out of any political organisation. He chose to become an independent. But Captain Benson was excluded from the Labor Party.
– You would not let Senator Hannaford into your caucus.
– Can we have your Country Party’s rules on discipline?
– What about Senator Wright? You kicked him upstairs to get rid of him.
– We hear the Opposition attempting to draw some comparison with other members of my Party and members of the Liberal Party who showed some independence. I think honourable senators will agree with me when I say that in actual fact Captain Sam Benson was removed from the ranks of the Labor Party when he voted against it. This is the type of philosophy to which members of the Labor Party adhere. At the present time they are very vocal in their support of strikes which are rampant within the community. Senator Cant took great pleasure in suggesting that the matter which we are discussing today was raised by the Government to hide the present economic position in Australia. Senator Cant nods to indicate that this is the position.
This matter we are discussing has been raised by the Labor Party as being the most urgent consideration in the community today. The Opposition has not raised, as matters for urgent consideration, pensions or anything to do with the aged or infirm in our community. The Opposition considers that the most important matter to raise on this day in September is Dick Gregory and his application to enter Australia. This is the Party which, as ( say, supports the strikes which are rampant in the community today. It does not care whether these strikes disrupt the freedom of other people. No reference is made to the people within the community who do not wish to strike but who have strikes forced upon them. The people who generally would support the Labor Party are the ones who are most disadvantaged by the strikes which arc being forced upon them today. They are being deprived of their freedom because the Labor Party says that a strike is a good thing and that it will achieve something for somebody in the community. lt is a deprivation of the freedom of some individuals - this freedom which honourable senators opposite suggest will be eroded if Dick Gregory is not allowed into this community.
– The honourable senator said a moment ago that this was the most important matter before us. I presume that he meant important to the Labor Party.
– Certainly - not to our Party. On this Thursday morning and afternoon the Labor Party thinks it is the most important matter. We find that honourable senators opposite are supporting all sorts of events, including the action of individuals conducting a sit-in in parliamentary offices. On many occasions I had to climb over the feet and bodies of individuals, as Senator Hendrickson did, in an attempt to get out of the Commonwealth parliamentary members’ rooms when we had accommodation in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Members of the Labor Party would support the right of those individuals to trespass on property and attempt to deprive others of their freedom. Yet theirs is the Party which says that in our community we must have freedom for Dick Gregory to come in. When businesses were forced to close during the last Moratorium Campaign there was no discussion of the rights or freedom of those individuals who were not associated with the Moratorium. The Labor Party says that it will force its views on the community and will let the freedom of the individual go to the winds unless the individual supports the Labor Party view. In addition members of the Labor Party support compulsory unionism, with no freedom for the individual to make up his own mind on whether he should join a union.
The Party on the other side of the chamber proposes that an elected Government in this country should not have the right to say to any individual: ‘We do not wish to hand you a licence to come into Australia’. The reasons for the Government’s refusal are quite clear. I believe that Mr Gregory has said of his own free will that he has been convicted on 5 occasions. I do not know what the issues were on those occasions, but apparently they were not serious matters. I have studied with interest the findings of Chief Justice Warren in the case Gregory v. The City of Chicago. That is a most interesting document.
– Read out what Mr Justice Black said.
– In the time available to Senator Murphy for his speech he did not see fit to read out what the various justices said. I thought he would have been proud to do so because in this instance, obviously, Dick Gregory was exonerated in respect of the action that he took. I am certainly not familiar with the other 4 cases against him. Surely if Dick Gregory had been cleared of all the charges made against him the Opposition would be putting that material before the Senate.
– He was fighting for human rights.
– We are fighting for human rights for Sam Benson; we are fighting for human rights for the individual who does not wish to be compelled to join a union; we are fighting for the right of Senator Cavanagh to vote against his leader should he desire to do so, although it has not happened once since he came here. Senator Cant has said that it is a pity that some Government supporters have not intestinal fortitude, but I should like to know whether there is anybody in the Opposition who has the intestinal fortitude to vote against his Party at any stage.
– We believe in our Party.
– We are seeing a good example of it at present.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– What concerns me more than anything else in this debate is that the good name of Australia throughout the world has been hurt.
– By the Opposition.
– That is cheap coming from the Minister now that he occupies the front bench. He caused enough trouble as a back bencher so the Government promoted him to the front bench. Irrespective of whether one believes in what the party concerned wants to say, I think that our main thought should be: How will this decision affect us as a nation in the councils of the world? We are in the situation where, rightly or wrongly, Australia has been adversely criticised in connection with what we have done in New Guinea. Anyone who has read the debates of the United Nations or committees of the United Nations is aware of this criticism. We might not agree with it because we know what is best from our point of view. But what will be the situation if publicity about the Gregory case goes throughout the world, as it will and no doubt already has, and it is thought that because a person has different political views from the Government of the day on one subject he must be refused a visa.
– He is an anarchist.
– What right has the Minister to say that he is an anarchist?
– Did the honourable senator know that Gregory complained that Communists were getting credit for what he was doing?
– The only thing that worries me is that Government supporters are prepared to belittle the name of Australia in the councils abroad for the sake of creating an atmosphere for the forthcoming election.
– What rot!
– What rot? If one can believe what is reported in the Press, this person -will be addressing representatives of a number of nations in Africa. He would need to do no more than tell them of the decision of this Government. 1 have no proof that the decision taken in this case was based on colour and 1 do not go so far as to say that colour was the basis for the decision; I believe that he was refused a visa because of his views on a war - an undeclared war so far as this country is concerned - that we should not be connected wilh, according to the views of 54 per cent of the people of Australia as expressed in a gallup poll. The attitude of honourable senators opposite reminds me of what was said by Sir Samuel Johnson: The last refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism. As political scoundrels all that Government supporters are seeking to do is to shelter behind the situation in Vietnam. Surely the President of the United States has shown by his action in withdrawing a number of troops from Vietnam - no doubt more will be withdrawn as time goes on - that it was a mistake to become involved in this struggle.
Honourable senators opposite are aware of that and the world is aware of it. If the Government were honest about our involve ment in the undeclared war in Vietnam, if it believed in what it was doing and believed that Australia would be affected in any way by the struggle, it would have declared war, in which case everyone would have played some part in the struggle, by contributing their money, or their life as has happened in a number of instances. But as Senator Cant has said, all the Government has done has been to conscript a number of young men and send them to Vietnam because it could not attract volunteers by putting up a case to show why Australia should be involved. I believe that the Government by adopting the attitude that it has in this case is displaying one of the worst advertisements that this country has had in the councils of the world. In replying to Senator Murphy the Minister ridiculed the idea that Mr Gregory stated that the reason for his application for a visa was that he wanted to go sight seeing. I am not one who, as a rule, pays much attention to what the newspapers say because T know from many long years experience what side they take when it counts. But it is interesting to read in the leader of the Melbourne ‘Age’ what is said about sight seeing as far as Mr Gregory is concerned. The leader reads: lt is not so tunny: there are extraordinary sights to see. A Commonwealth Minister and his Government, for example, rising in the Parliament to tell the world thai Australian democracy would be threatened by a short visit from one of America’s vocal, but non-violent, rebels.
– His 5 convictions do not say much.
– With the training that Senator Rae has been fortunate enough to have in law. he or any lawyer who gets up here and boldly states that a person has 5 convictions-
– In saying thai I am quoting him.
– Then the honourable senator should state what those convictions are. He knows more about them than I because he has had the book thai Mr Gregory wrote in his hands. None of those convictions were for other than fighting for something he believed to bc right. I remember a senator who sat in this chamber and who was gaoled in circumstances similar to those in which our young friend would be gaoled today. It was Senator Donald Grant. Did we think any less of the late senator because, someone, who at that time thought the same politically as honourable senators on the Government side do today, caused him to be sentenced - if I remember correctly - to IS years gaol? I understand he served a very short time in gaol. A committee was appointed and after 3 years it was shown that justice had been abused. It is all very well for Senator Wright who has washed himself of all the. sins he had, as far as his Party is concerned, when he sat on the other aisle to support the. Government in this matter. Now he graces the seats of the mighty. One marvels at what a ministerial office can do to at least one member of the Administration who is now humbled to whatever duty he has to do and who adheres to any principle which he can fit into that nimble mind so that he will be able to sit over there.
As I say, I think what the Government is doing is utterly wrong. I am not one who believes in breaking the law of this nation. In my opinion there is one place for the law to be amended and that is here. Senator Cant rightly asked: ‘How can you expect the people of this nation to respect a law that you will not administer?’ People are - and rightly so in this instance - opposed to this law. I point out to my young friend on the Government side Senator Webster, who is so keen on sending everyone else to Vietnam, whether they be 19 or 20, that I would feel I would want to have a look at the place myself, and not merely as a visitor. He has told us he did see it once but not in the same capacity as those to whom he referred. Is it wrong for a person to come to this country to espouse a view on a question which is common to this country and his own? Would honourable senators opposite stop Senator Fulbright from coming here?
– He has not been game enough to go to South East Asia and have a look. Why does he not go to North Vietnam and Cambodia and find out something?
– It is true I have not been up there.
– 1 referred to Senator Fulbright, not to the honourable senator.
– I thought the honourable senator was alluding to me. I want to know why the Government should single out one person and discredit the name of this nation. That is what the Government has done. It has gained nothing by its action. There will be many more adherents to the Moratorium Campaign whenever it is going to be held because of the stupid action in denying this person admittance here. I said, and I reiterate, that surely we have passed the stage where because one person may have different opinions from those who rule today he is not entitled to put his case. In his own country he is not stopped from addressing whoever he wants to. This is the first time I have ever known this Government to do anything other than willy nilly follow the United States. But for some reason, perhaps because there seems to be an election in the offing and because the Government has nothing else in its own mind that will secure its position it wants to wave a flag and persuade the people that if this person comes here law and order will be destroyed. Surely to goodness anyone with common sense would say that if any person is admitted to this country and he breaks the law while he is here the Government would certainly have the right to put him out - and put him out quickly. No-one would object to that. But we should not keep him out. Whether the subject be South East Asia or Africa - where at least we want to have friends - we should not stop people from coming here unless they are prepared to say what the Government of the day wants them to say. If that policy is adopted I would hope to see one person come to this country and that is a young lady from Ireland. I would love to see her here because I always love a fighter. If she took the same attitude to the Vietnam struggle as Mr Gregory, the Government would not let her in either.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Today we have witnessed an exhibition of double standards by an Opposition which, when it desires to preach freedom can be very eloquent in defence of that concept. But on other occasions when it wants to deny freedom to people within its own ranks, the freedom of individual Australian Labor Party members is subordinated to what the Labor Party regards as the greater good of the Party. When those standards can be turned on and off as the Labor Party has been able to do demonstrably to the people of Australia over the last half a dozen or more years, then any posturing which is engaged in today is revealed for the hypocrisy it undoubtedly is. 1 suggest that if the Labor Party is adopting as the policy it would follow the proposition that anybody who wants to come into this country can come in and there will be no hindrance to him then that is a policy which negates any form of national interest. 1 do not believe that the Labor Party, if it ever were to form a government - and thank goodness that is never likely to be the position - would postulate that under no circumstances would anybody be denied entry to this country. It would be preventing itself from doing that which on occasion has to be done.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) has clearly indicated the basis upon which the Government has refused admission to Mr Gregory. It has said that as far as possible this country encourages freedom of movement of people to the country and from the country. We favour - and I would have thought that no-one in Australia if he is reasonable would dispute this - and we give every opportunity to dissent and we give every opportunity to differ. If the Labo, Party says that there is no freedom of speech in this country and there is no opportunity to put a viewpoint different from that which the Government puts forward then it is only because it imposes upon itself a silence which is unnecessary. This is a very free country and no-one can challenge that proposition.
What we are arguing about with lbc Labor Party today is the allegation that this refusal of entry to 1 individual is an attack on freedom in Australia. That is the ground upon which the allegation is made. Whose freedom in Australia is being affected? I will concede that Mr Gregory is a person whose freedom of movement is affected, but he is a national of the United States of America and the Australian Government has no obligation to promote the freedom of movement of nationals of other countries. The Australian position is, and has been for many years, that the Minister for Immigration has a right to say who may enter Australia and who may not. He has an inherent discretionary power to grant visas and the exercise of that power is dependent upon what the Minister of the day, as a member of the Government of the day, regards as the national interest. It is very seldom that there is a refusal of a visa.
The power which the Minister for Immigration possesses is a power which is exercised - and I suspect it is exercised far more frequently - in the United Stales of Australia. There are a number of countries throughout the world which have the requirement that anybody who wishes to enter the country must have a visa. I say that if we accept as a necessary function or power of the government of the day that it should be able to say in particular cases ‘this person shall not enter this country’ then it appears to me that there must be occasions when there can be valid application of that power. If we are to look at this matter objectively I cannot understand why the Labor Party tries to sustain the position that under no circumstances should that power be exercised. I know that I referred a moment ago to the fact that that appeared to be the way the Labor Party was putting its case and it may be that some members of the Opposition would hold that view, but 1 think that, responsibly, they would have to accept that there is a need for some power to prevent entry capable of being exercised in particular cases.
What are the circumstances in which that power should be utilised? I would have thought, first of all, that it cannot bc predicated that there is an absolute freedom of movement, an absolute right for persons to move throughout the world as they please. Nobody has an absolute right to enter Australia. It must be the right of the Australian people to determine for themselves who shall enter. I instance by way of analogy that no person has the right to enter my home unless I invite him, and as far as Australia, as the home of Australians, is concerned nobody has the right to enter Australia unless Australians invite or permit him to enter. The body which represents Australia for the purposes of making such a decision is and must surely be the Government of this country.
All freedoms must have some limitations imposed upon them. If we start on the basis that man is in a naturally free condition then it is due to the development of his own instincts and his own reason and the necessity of his own association with others that there should be some common bonds which limit his freedom so that others can have the type of freedom which he possesses. To me that is basic in any appreciation of what is involved in freedom. The laws which are passed in this country are laws which are essentially designed to promote the freedom of the greatest number and because they involve restrictions on some they enlarge the freedoms and abilities of others. So it is - as it appears to me - with the ability of people to move in and out of this country; that freedom must be subject to law. I must say that after making some investigations, prompted by this case, I think it is unfortunate that the power of the Minister to determine whether or not a person is to come into Australia rests upon an inherently discretionary basis. I would much prefer to see it in terms of legislation under which the discretion is given to the Minister but in the exercise of which there are some objective criteria to which he must have regard. One of those criteria must inevitably be whether or not it is in the national interest-
– That is what Senator Kennelly and myself are suggesting.
– On that issue I agree with you but to my mind that does not alter the fact that a discretion is there and 1 would have thought that there must be a discretion in any statutory power which is granted, and there will be occasions on which that power should or should not be exercised. I consider - and I think that this ought to be basic to any approach to these questions - that when a government exercises a discretion in this way it is acting in a matter for which it is responsible to the electorate which, every 3 years, has an opportunity to pass judgment on whether that government has been acting in accordance with its wishes. So long as there is the regularity of elections, so long as there are broadly free conditions under which these elections can be conducted, administrative discretions of this character can be entrusted to government because there is always an answerability on the part of that government to the people.
That is why I cannot see in this case any problem arising out of the fact that the Government has refused entry to a particular person. After all, whether or not a person is to be refused entry depends upon the circumstances of a particular case and in this instance there is developing a dangerous situation in Australia. In many respects it has been encouraged by members of the Labor Party. I am sure that within their ranks there are many who are fearful of what they have set in train.
Let me mention a few things which have been a part of the Australian scene over the past few months. I will refer specifically to Melbourne. We have had agitation in the streets of Melbourne. We have had people blocking the roadways, denying rights of access to other people, and we have had scuffling and fighting and arrests taking place in the streets. These are not isolated occasions. This appears to be the regular pattern on Friday and Saturday of each week. We have had a bomb thrown into the office of Australian General Electric. We have had a bomb thrown into the office of the Australian Prime Minister.
– What has this to do with Dick Gregory?
– I am talking about the scene which we have in Australia at the moment. If Senator Wheeldon will bear with me for a little longer I will link up what I am now saying with what is the justification for this Government’s action. Rather than being interrupted by Senator Wheeldon who would seek to prevent me from giving this catalogue of events which have been occurring I will proceed to recite some further matters. There was a building in South Melbourne owned by McPherson’s Ltd which was substantially burnt to the ground.
– How do you connect that up?
– In the incidents at both McPhersons and Australian General Electric, at the time the fires were occurring people were telephoning the newspapers and saying it was the work of what they called the peoples’ liberation army. We have had constant sit-ins. There was a sit-in late last year in the office of the then Minister for Labour and National
Service. I know that a few members of the Opposition have spoken to that Minister and they have some appreciation of the filthy things that occurred when that incident took place. But that is only one of numerous sit-ins which have occurred. We had the instance only last Sunday week when the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) had the privacy of his home invaded by about 20 or 30 toughs who just wanted to demonstrate. Offices of the Department of Labour and National Service have been broken into. Government files have been thrown out of windows and allowed to float down to the streets of Melbourne.
Is this the type of conduct that members of the Australian Labor Party wish to condone? I have not heard one word of condemnation of it. I have not heard one suggestion from the Australian Labor Party as to what the Government ought to do in order to prevent these things from occurring. But we have this as part of the Australian scene. What has been happening in Melbourne has been reproduced in Sydney. I leave out of account what has been occurring in the universities. There we have tactics which are developing from the ordinary demonstrations which have paralysed universities. We have people taking over offices. We have vice-chancellors being assaulted. We have walls being smeared. We have a complete lawlessness. We have student leaders who appear on television and say that the only chance they can see of altering the society in which they live is through violence. They state that publicly. In this chamber we have people who have said that they do not see any change being made in the present system through ordinary methods. They see change occurring by overthrowing the existing system.
That is part of the pattern of Australia at the moment. It must cause concern to the Federal Government and the State governments. It must cause concern - I know that it does - to millions of Australian citizens. Where are we heading? I recognise that the people of Australia are concerned as to whether there is not developing a lawlessness and a government that is unable to cope with that lawlessness. I believe that government has to take a firm stand. It must indicate that conduct of the character I have outlined is contrary to the accepted Australian standards. It is very difficult to do this because we must pre serve and maintain the basic rights of all Australians and preserve and maintain their freedoms. But, if we have a few people who oppose those freedoms an(. create licence, that makes it tremendously difficult, just because of the difficulty of controlling them, to maintain the ordinary basic freedoms of everybody. This is a constant challenge to government.
Against that background the Govern7 ment has received an application from a man who has a record of convictions for offences connected with civil rights marches in the United States. He is a man who has written books in which he has preached what is involved in revolution, although he calls himself non-violent. He is a man who wants to come here for a Moratorium demonstration which, if it was the size of the one in Melbourne last May, would be completely uncontrollable. But this Moratorium, which is to be held this month, states unashamedly that it wants the North Vietnamese to succeed in their aggression.
What it is claiming is far narrower than what was claimed in the last Moratorium. It is seeking the withdrawal of all United States and Allied troops from Indo-China. It is not seeking the withdrawal of the North Vietnamese. It is not seeking the withdrawal of all people and the end of what Mr Gordon Bryant, who went to Cambodia, came back and said was clearly and nakedly aggression. When we have that situation developing in Australia, I believe that the Government would be remiss in carrying out its duty if it did not take account of it in deciding whether it should or should not allow this man to come to Australia.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to spend a great deal of time on this question. I do not think it is important enough to justify the expenditure of a great deal of time. I am not impressed by the attempt of certain people to impart emotionalism to the discussion of this issue, because I am perfectly well aware that the attitude of the persons associated with the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign towards the exclusion of Mr Gregory is that it is a bonus for them. They regard it as a wonderful advertising opportunity. They are the happiest people in the world, knowing that Mr Gregory is being kept out of Australia, because they believe that it will give them an advertising impetus that will help to increase their numbers. 1 have been in the world long enough to be cynical about all this phoney emotionalism on the part of people who get worked up about Mr Gregory or about South Vietnamese atrocities but who are as cool, calm, collected and steady in their blood pressure as one can imagine when they read stories about the Vietcong firing mortar shells into an orphanage. So, let me say at once that I regard this whole issue as phoney and I am quite prepared to listen to a lot more of this wild emotionalism about Australia being a police state and about people not being allowed to express their views. I have read in the Press about dissident elements of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party going along to the Trades Hall to express their views. I know how they got on, and members of the Labor Party who are interjecting know how they got on. In this community there are all sorts of people who are in favour of absolute freedom for their side and no freedom at all for the other side when they happen to have the numbers, lt is a matter of numbers.
There is a whole lot of phoney hypocrisy about this whole issue. There are many people in the Australian Labor Party who will stand up and complain about Mr Gregory being refused entry to Australia but who, if he came to this country, would say that because of the colour of his skin and the white Australia policy he should not have been allowed to come here. I have heard people say that Mr Gregory is being kept out because he is a Negro. But 1 did not ever hear them complain when Sergeant Gamboa was being kept out because of his racial origin, and I did not ever hear them complain when Mrs O’Reilly was being kept out because of the white Australia policy. It was a great policy in those days.
– That is not the Whitlam policy.
– The Whitlam policy?
– It is your policy.
– lt is not my policy either because 1, more than any other, have been an advocate of a liberal policy in regard to Asians. 1 can say that I have heard more anti-Asian and anil-colour sentiments expressed in Australian Labor Party circles than 1 have heard expressed in any other circles, and those anti-Asian sentiments are still strong in the circles of that Party. There is any number of people who say that those sentiments have to be upheld. Let us not be hypocritical.
The gentleman concerned, Mr Gregory, was to have been sponsored by the Moratorium. The Moratorium people are those who in this case say that on grounds of civil rights and people’s freedoms he ought be allowed to come here. But a month or two ago the Moratorium people announced their intention of going into the hean of the city of Melbourne, taking over the streets, forcing the closure of the shops and preventing the ordinary citizen who wanted to go about his business in the heart of the city from doing so. Having done that, they now say that it was a success and they propose to do it again, but on this occassion for 3 days. Therefore, they propose to break the law. They propose to break the law flagrantly and to deprive other people of their civil rights. They also propose to import Mr Gregory as a stirrer of the people, to assist them in this programme.
– A stirrer?
– The honourable senator is used to stirrers in his Party, and to one in particular. It has been announced that Mr Gregory is one of a group of people who were approached to come here and who explained that if they did so it would be on a business basis; that they would have to receive first class fares and expenses. I have been informed through the Press that he was to receive $1,000 an appearance. All I can say about Mr Gregory is that his principles seem to depend a good deal upon his pocket. When he wants to come here for the purpose of stirring up people who say that they are going to break the law and take over the streets of Melbourne for 3 days, T am prompted to say that I do not see why we should import a person to deprive the ordinary citizen of his rights when we have thousands of people here already prepared to do it and without making any charge.
I hope that nobody will suggest that people who favour the North Vietnamese side have any problem about putting their case. Newspapers, television and radio stations - all the media - oblige them. I would say that the ratio of propaganda for North Vietnam over the years has been about 4:1 over the propaganda for South Vietnam. The supporters of North Vietnam have absolutely flooded the airwaves. If they hold a small meeting which about 6 people attend, almost every television camera in Melbourne will be there to give them publicity. I do not understand why Mr Gregory has to be brought out here to get across more propaganda, because I do not know of any campaign over the past 40 years that has received as much publicity, weighted in its favour, as the campaign for the assistance of North Vietnam.
I am amazed that people should get upset because Mr Gregory cannot come here. Some people on my right in this chamber - on the Opposition side - advocated that we should not allow the South African cricketers to enter Australia. It is not their intention to block the city streets or bring people out on strike, whether they want to strike or not. They do not want to impede our roadways and stop citizens from using them. They said that they were coming here to play cricket. I heard the same emotionalism about the South African cricketers. Some people said: ‘Why should we let these people in? They must be kept out.’ Some time ago an Australian born officer of the Rhodesian Air Force proposed to come here to visit his relatives. Some people who now say that Mr Gregory has an absolute right of entry into Australia said then that, because that officer was paid his wages by the Rhodesian Air Force, even though he was born in Australia, he should be excluded from this country.
– No. They did not.
– Yes, they did. I heard them - any number of them. We come now to the case of Mr Bryant. He is certainly proving a problem at the moment. The Moratorium executive has announced that appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that Mr Bryant did not address meetings, sponsored by the executive until he publicly retracted his call for arms. Mr Bryant went to Cambodia, examined the situation there and came to a certain conclusion. He believes in that conclusion. But what do the Moratorium people say? They say: ‘We will not let him in to speak at any of our meetings unless he retracts his statement.’ That is, he will not be allowed to speak unless he is prepared to say that what he believes is not true. I am sorry for Mr Bryant. He is having a rough time at the moment. He was excluded from the executive body of the Aboriginals because they declared him white. After being declared white by the executive of the Aboriginals he has been declared black by the Moratorium people. He is certainly having a tough trot.
I think the hypocrisy of all these people is exposed when they attempt to tell us they are upset about Mr Gregory. Everybody knows that they are just the type of people, in the case of Mr Bryant, who do the very thing for which they seek to condemn other people. My view of the Moratorium is simply this: People have the right to hold demonstrations, but not the right to hold demonstrations as they want to hold them. If I were Premier of Victoria I would say to them: ‘You can hold your demonstration in the Domain or at the Myer Music Bowl, on the fringe of the city, where there is plenty of space.’ I would facilitate arrangements for them to hold an orderly demonstration but I do not see why shopkeepers should be compelled to close or why the streets of the city should be blocked. I do not see why people should be prohibited from using the streets of the city by people who say that they are all out for freedom.
I would like to see anybody attempt to take that kind of action inside the Labor Party. I would like to see him make his own rules as to how he would demonstrate. I know how he would get on because I have had some experience in that regard. A lot of emotionalism will be displayed. Anns will be waved about, and people will get all excited and say it is a police state and all the rest of it. But within they are cuddling themselves with delight over this matter because they believe that the Gregory business is the kind of thing they will be able to exploit tremendously for advertising the Moratorium. The whole thing is a lot of hyprocisy by people who have no time for human rights and liberty but who are attempting to serve the interests of people in North Vietnam who, in many cases, are of their own kind.
– Anybody who is concerned about democratic government in Australia would be singularly distressed by listening to the debate which has taken place on this motion this afternoon. I refer particularly to speeches by members of the Government parties and the Australian Democratic Labor Party. One of the most important rights of human beings is to be able to move freely from country to country. I think it would be reasonable to expect that when members of the Government parties and the DLP were supporting a proposition which denied the rights of a particular individual, a citizen of the United States of America, to come in to this country, very cogent arguments would need to be presented as to the character, behaviour, and associations of that man. One would expect them to be of such a nature as would warrant preventing him from entering Australia. But we have not heard that at all. We have heard certain innuendoes about his 5 convictions.
– Krupp got 25 years gaol and they let him in.
– Yes. A number of people with convictions have been admitted, but as I understand it, the convictions which Mr Gregory has received during the course of his career were imposed on him because of his activities in the civil rights movement in the United States. If anybody with minor convictions of the nature of Mr Gregory’s convictions for activities in the civil rights movement should not be admitted to Australia, certainly the late Dr Martin Luther King should not have been admitted to this country. Certainly Mr Meredith, the man who was supported by the Kennedy Administration in integrating the University of Alabama, should not have been admitted to this country. Certainly Mr Walter Reuther, former President of the United Automobile Workers of the United States, who suffered convictions during the labour troubles of the 1930s, should not have been admitted to this country. Certainly many of the closest associates of the late President Kennedy and former President Johnson and associates of prominent members of the Republican Administration should not have been admitted to this country.
One of the most significant legal actions in which Mr Gregory was involved took place in Chicago when a demonstration occurred against the Mayor of Chicago, Mr Daley. After hearings in a lower court and in the Supreme Court of Illinois an application was made for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States. lt was granted on behalf of Mr Gregory and others. It might give some indication of the manner in which Mr Gregory conducts himself if I were to refer to part of the judgment of Mr Justice Hugo Black of the United States Supreme Court, which was delivered on 10th March 1969. lt refers to the episodes which took place in Chicago at that time. Mr Justice Black said:
I also think the record shows that outside of the marching and propagandising of their views and protests, Gregory and his group while marching did all in their power to maintain order. Indeed, in the face of jeers, insults and assaults wilh rocks and eggs, Gregory and his group maintained a decorum that speaks well for their determination simply to tell their side of their grievances and complaints. Even the ‘snake’ and snake pit’ invectives used by Gregory and his demonstrators, unlike some used by their hecklers, remained within the general give and take of heated political argument. Thus both police and demonstrators made their best efforts faithfully to discharge their responsibilities as officers and citizens, but they were nevertheless unable to restrain the hostile hecklers within decent and orderly bounds.
– And he was convicted?
– This was the conviction which was subsequently referred to the Supreme Court of the United States. This is probably the best known of all the episodes in which Mr Gregory has been involved. One would take it from listening to Senator Greenwood and Senator Rae, whom 1 find it very difficult to mention without a feeling of very strong distaste, that all of those persons in the United States who over the past 10 years have taken part in that great civil rights movement, that great movement to liberate a depressed minority of the American people, should be prevented from coming into Australia if they wished to visit this country. Senator McManus has been very free in his condemnation of Mr Gregory.
He said that money is the only thing which interests Mr Gregory. I think it is well known - this has been well reported - that in fact Mr Gregory gave up a very highly paid position as an entertainer in New York City when he was asked to refrain from engaging in political satire. That in fact was his conduct. Far from seeking money, he gave up money so that he could continue to engage in his own form of political satire which is allowed in the United States of America.
One knows very well where the Senator Greenwoods and Senator McManuses would have stood had they been in the United States during the time of that great movement of liberation which I suppose reached its peak in the demonstration which took place in the early 1960s outside the White House when the late President Kennedy, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, leaders of the trade unions and the churches and people like Dick Gregory demonstrated. They would have been the opponents of the people who were demonstrating for civil rights. I would be proud to be associated with a man like Mr Gregory who took part in a demonstration of that nature.
It has been said that the Labor Party has a double standard, and some curiously extended argument has been introduced to bring in certain people who have been expelled from the Australian Labor Party or dealt with by the Australian Labor Party because they adopted a position different from that of the Australian Labor Party. Let us take this at its very worst. Let us put the harshest possible construction upon what the Australian Labor Party did. Let us say that the Australian Labor Party is a rigid organisation which ruthlessly expels anyone who deviates in any way from the stated Party policy or viewpoint of the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. Let us accept that that is the position. There is still no parallel whatever between the actions of a voluntary body in excluding persons from its membership and the action of a state in refusing permission to persons to enter a country. There is no parallel whatever between the actions of any voluntary body in deciding which persons shall be members of that voluntary body and the actions of a state in deciding whether people shall be free to move around the world.
During the course of this week we have heard various pious sentiments expressed by members of the Government parties and its satellite Party about the position of certain minority groups inside the Soviet
Union. I think I have made my views with regard to the Soviet Union fairly well known and I will not engage in a red baiting campaign in order to make myself sound acceptable to any of those people because I have no desire to be acceptable to them. I would think that those people would be the last to talk about a double standard, yet they are the ones who posture as the defenders of democracy and at the same time prevent the free transit of a person into this country without producing one shred or tittle of argument to show why he should be prevented from doing so. The person in question has been described as an anarchist. We have not had any definition of an anarchist. A number of eminent people have been described as anarchists. I suppose Sir Herbert Read was the most eminent British anarchist.
– Who was he?
- Senator Sim has not heard of Sir Herbert Read but I am afraid that I cannot engage in an adult education class at this stage. I do not think that Sir Herbert Read was ever prevented from entering Australia. Dali was an anarchist; Luis Bunuel, the film director, is an anarchist; a number of people are anarchists. It is news to me that Mr Dick Gregory is an anarchist. If he is an anarchist, so what? Are people being excluded because they hold a certain political and social doctrine? Is that what the Government is saying?
– Tell us about South Africa.
– South Africa has been mentioned. I belong to an organisation which argues that Australia should not have sporting ties with South Africa.
– Why not?
– Because we believe that by doing so we encourage racism inside South Africa. But I have never said that people with South African passports should be refused permission to enter Australia. I have never said that any South African should be refused entry into Australia. It is a totally different thing to say that one is opposed to having sporting ties with the officially selected sporting team from a certain country and to say that the citizens of that country should be refused entry into Autsralia. I have never advocated that any South Africans should be refused entry into Australia. The only such matter that has been raised by the Opposition - this was referred to this afternoon by Senator McManus - relates to Air Vice-Marshal Hawkins. Two persons who hold important positions in the Rhodesian Government are Air Vice-Marshal Hawkins and Colonel Knox, both of whom were born in Australia and both of whom are travelling around the world on Australian passports carrying out diplomatic missions for the Rhodesian illegal regime. All that the leader of the Australian Labor Party has argued, all that the Australian Labor Party itself has argued, is that the onus should be on those people to decide whether they are Australian or whether they support the illegal regime in Rhodesia so that the Australian Government may act in accordance with the decisions of the United Nations. That is a fair enough proposition. We have never said that Hawkins, because of his behaviour in Rhodesia, should be refused permission to enter Australia if he decided to take up an Australian passport.
This country has become the subject of ridicule throughout the world. If we are not chasing books we are preventing comedians coming here. Senator Kennelly has said that it is a pity that this is damaging Australia’s good name. I believe that if a country has a bad policy then its bad policy should give it a bad name, and I believe that Australia should have a bad name for what it has done on this occasion. Only a short time ago Dr Cairns and I applied for permission to enter the United States to speak in opposition to the Vietnam war. I was invited by the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. As a result perhaps of some of my activities I. finished up with a No. 28 stamp on my visa which meant that I was to be subjected to particular scrutiny as a subversive. But I was admitted to the United States of America and 1 travelled throughout the United States of America without any let or hindrance. When Professor Owen Lattimore was driven from his employment in the United States by Senior Joseph McCarthy’s committee in the 1930s he was able to obtain sanctuary in Britain as Professor of History at Leeds.
Despite the follies and blunders which the United States has committed I am not one of those who denounce the United States for everything that it does. I object to its policy on Vietnam but I believe that its domestic policy is so far ahead of that of its satellites opposite that it would terrify any Liberal with even the adventurousness of its ideas. Only the other night Senator Gair accused Senator Barry Goldwater of being a Communist or fellow traveller.
– I question that. I think the honourable senator should say it when Senator Gair is here and not when be is away.
– If the honourable senator questions what I have said he should refer to Hansard. The reason why the United States of America still retains some allegiance and support from a great many people throughout the world is because it has stood for certain guaranteed rights of citizens, in particular the freedom of movement of people. It is no use Senator Greenwood saying that the preventing of Mr Gregory from coming to Australia is not an infringement of the liberty of anybody in Australia because it is an infringement of the liberty of all Australians. It is an infringement of the liberty of Australians to have contact with people from other countries who have been invited to come to this country. This is the action of a disintegrating government.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) [3.37] - I listened with great interest to Senator Murphy’s remarks about the matter of urgency which he raised. The thing that has disturbed me the most is the fact that Senator Murphy has accused the Government of the crime of refusing an entry permit to Mr Gregory because he is a negro. I recollect distinctly that Senator Murphy accused the Government of racism. The point I wish to make is that not only was a visa to enter Australia refused to Mr Gregory by the ConsulGeneral in New York but also at the same time a visa was refused to a Mr McGraw. The applications for visas were made by both men on the appropriate form at the same, time at the office of the Consul-General. Mr McGraw is of pure European descent.
– Why was he refused an entry permit? ‘
– I ask Senator Georges to allow me to make my remarks. I once described the honourable senator as a perfect illustration of a Greek chorus because he did nothing but yap, yap, yap while the actors were trying to make their speeches. I would be grateful for your additional protection, Mr Deputy President. Obviously the question of racism is not involved because visas were refused to the 2 men - one of African descent and the other of European descent - who had made application at the same time for visas to come to Australia at the same time. Therefore, the question of racism could not have been involved. The second point I wish to make, and it is fair to make it because Senator Wheeldon has in essence admitted it, is that Mr Gregory is a man who advocates and espouses inside the United States of America the concept of violence as a form of changing the law.
– He does not.
– I do not want to have to quote from Mr Gregory’s books. I have 2 of them in front of me. Senator Rae quoted from one this morning to give an illustration of what Mr Gregory writes. If any honourable senator wants to read any of Mr Gregory’s books he can obtain copies from the Parliamentary Library. Mr. Gregory has stated quite clearly and unequivocally in his books and in his various remarks that the situation of the negro in the United States of America is such that the only way he can obtain his rights is by violence. The position of negroes in the United States of America is not germane to the problems of Australia. I merely point this out to show that Mr Gregory has a record of advocating communal disturbances in the United States of America and that he has expressed methods by which a non-violent situation can be polarised into a violent situation. He has stated this in his books. A book I have in front of me is entitled ‘Shadow That Scares Me’. It was written by Dick Gregory and edited by Mr McGraw. The point is that they are a pair of wings, of the same bird in the United States of America.
One thing which we have to determine in our minds, and which cannot be excluded from the problem which is engaging the attention of a substantial number of Australian people, is the so-called Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. The central theme in the concept of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, which consists of a self elected, self selected and self directed group of people, is that if it thinks a law of the country is bad people are entitled to break it. The simple assertion that a law is a bad one is the sanction to break it. But this is not the theory only of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee because Senator Poyser also mentioned prior to the suspension of the sitting for lunch that a bad law should be broken. This is despite the fact that the whole fabric of society is based upon the rule of law and the concept of the rule of law under our system of government is that the law shall be passed by the Parliament and administered by the government. If a law should be changed, and undoubtedly there are many laws which should be changed as society evolves, that is the function and responsibility of the Parliament; it is not the responsibility of a mob in the street.
Equally fundamental is that deep down inside a large number of members of the Australian Labor Party is the concept of Socialism. Socialism is based upon the concept that because all laws are made by the middle class or the capitalists they are inimical to the proletariat. That is the fundamental Socialist concept of any given problem. It is embedded in the very matrix of the dialectic approach of honourable senators opposite to the problems of government and changes in society.
– The honourable senator is back in the last century.
– I am not back in the last century. I accord the following observation to Senator Georges: There are 3 groups within the Socialist Left in Australia. There is one which believes that changes should be made by force; there is one which tells the people that changes should be made by a parliamentary system of Government; and there is another group somewhere in the middle that believes that circumstances have to be created according to the pressures which can be placed upon a Government by a minority to change the law. This is central to the concept of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee.
Let us examine the position of Mr Gregory in the concept of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. The former Vietnam Moratorium Committee was discharged and a new one formed. One of the members of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee was in the United States of America for a while. On returning to Australia he said that it was the intention of the new Committee to invite people from North Vietnam - Hanoi - to participate in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign this month. At the same time as he made this statement 2 men appeared in the office of the Consul-General in New York - Mr Gregory and Mr McGraw - and applied for a visa to come to Australia. In the appropriate application form which is used - a copy of which 1 have in front of me - a space is provided in the top right hand corner for applicants to indicate the purpose of their visit. In both instances the purpose of the visit was stated to be ‘sightseeing’.
– Does the honourable senator have a copy of the application?
– I do not have a copy of their applications, but I have a copy of the appropriate form.
– I would like to see the form. I would like to know how much space is made available to indicate the purpose of the visit.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! Senator Georges will cease interjecting.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACKBoth of them said that their purpose for wishing to come to Australia was sightseeing. Both of them made their applications for a visa at the same time and both gave sightseeing as the reason for wishing to come to Australia. The 2 men were Mr Gregor)’ and the man who edited his book.
– Is the honourable senator suggesting that they were to be paid to come here?
– I do not know. I do not think Mr Gregory was paid to come here. I notice that in one of his books he states that during the Chicago Democratic Convention he travelled for 31 days on end, leaving San Francisco early in the morning, flying to Chicago, leading the demonstration in Chicago and returning to San Francisco each night, j assume that he has substantial resources. If he could do that in the United States of America, it would be no problem for him to fly around the world or to come to Australia. This is the question that everyone must ask: Why is another moratorium proposed this month? There is the coincidence, no less, that shortly after Dr Cairns went to the United States of America these 2 men applied to come to Australia. Both applied on the same day. Both were to be in Australia at the time of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign.
– Both were refused permission at the same time.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACKBoth were refused at the same time. A function of government is to ensure that law and order is maintained. I suggest, in the strongest possible terms, that a reasonable deduction to he drawn is that the intention in bringing to Australia men who are known to have been involved in civil disturbances of one kind or another in their own country, if nothing else is known, was to set in being some of the circumstances by which civil commotion may or could arise in Australia. I think that, in those circumstances, the Australian Government cannot be accused of refusing entry to men who wanted to come to Australia for sightseeing nor can it be accused of refusing entry to men who wanted to come to Australia to bring alien ideas to Australians. The Government is refusing entry to two men whose arrival will be coincidental with a period when civil disturbance and commotion may take place in Australia. Any government that has any responsibility or any concept of the responsibilities that accrue to it as a government inevitably is bound to ask itself: Are these innocent sightseers or have they an ulterior motive?’ If they were innocent sightseers they would have stated in their application for a visa that they were coming at the invitation of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee in Melbourne.
– There is no room to do that. -
– There is insufficient room to write that.
– In their applications they could have stated that they were coming to Australia to participate in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. Mr Gregory could have said that he was coming to Australia in the pursuit of his theatrical career as an entertainer of one kind or another. Mr McGraw could have said that he was coming to Australia to preach in churches about the Negro problem in the United States of America. Mr Gregory could have said that he was coming to address the National Union of Australian University Students on civil commotion in the United Stales of America and on” the rights of Negroes in the United States of America. These were legitimate reasons to put in the application for a visa, but none of these was put in the application. What was put in the application was that they were coming to Australia for sightseeing. They were coming to Australia for sightseeing at a time when a large number of people in Australia are disturbed at some, of the forms and. some of the aspects that the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign is beginning to assume. I believe that the Government was correct in refusing these applications. If these men wished to come at any other lime, I have no doubt that the Government would grant them visas. The Government was properly entitled to draw the inferences that I have drawn in the Senate this afternoon. Because of the Government’s responsibility to uphold law and order in Australia, it was appropriate that these men should be denied visas.
– I have just spent 1.2 or 13 minutes trying to explain that to the honourable senator.
– is the honourable senator afraid of what they might say?
– I have stated already that I have no fear of their ideas. No-one has any fear of their ideas. Both men are known to have been advocating forms of disturbance in the United Stales of America. They lied in their application for visas to come to Aus tralia. Their advent in Australia would have been coincidental with the operations that are now being planned by the Moratorium Committee.
– That is not the attitude taken by other countries.
– In the context of what is taking place in Australia, the Government was perfectly right. If the Australian Government wanted to refuse entry to Mr Benedict - Cohn as a refugee from France, it would be entitled so to do. Australia is just as entitled to do that as the Indian Government was last week to expel British Broadcasting Corporation cameramen and editors. I have nol heard anyone complain about that refusal of expression of ideas. The point is that any country has a right to say who shall come into that country, as Senator Greenwood said, and any responsible government has a duly to ensure that the people who come into the country do so on the terms, in the circumstances and on the conditions laid down by government. That is all I wish to say.
– in reply - This debate has been very important because it has been concerned with the right of freedom in this country. In opening the debate, I said that what the Government has done could be described as an attack on personal freedom in Australia. And so it is. The matter was not one of the human rights of Mr Dick Gregory to travel around the world and to come to Australia as a sightseer - and that is how he applied and that is what he was, because be was asked to come here by the Reverend Ted Noffs. I have been supplied with a statement made by Mr Gregory after he was told by the Office of the Australian High Commissioner in London what was said about him by the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch). Mr Gregory said that at the time he put ‘sightseeing’ on his application he had not been approached either by the National Union of Australian University Students or by the Vietnam Moratorium Committee. On behalf of the Government, Ministers have suggested that the man has lied because he put ‘sightseeing’ on his application when in fact he was coming here to speak at the Moratorium. Where is the proof that at the time He put ‘sightseeing* on his application he had been invited to come here to speak at the Moratorium? There is not a shred of proof. Yet the . Government, through its Ministers and its backbenchers, accused him of being a liar. Where is the proof that at the time he put ‘sightseeing’ on his application it was not exactly true?
The Government could have used the services of the Security Service, which seems to have enough time and money to spend investigating the affairs of men such as this. It is an eye-opener to see what can happen in relation to persons such as this. Apparently they are regarded as enemies. Apparently the Government considers that the taxpayers’ money should be spent on investigating and surveilling the activities of citizens of another friendly country such as the United States of America. Where is the proof that these men told a lie, that in particular Mr Dick Gregory told a lie when he put ‘sightseeing’ on his application? Where is the proof? With all the resources at its disposal, the Government cannot produce proof. If it could have produced the proof, its members would have said that the Government had an application for a visa, that an invitation to speak at the Moratorium Campaign had been issued before the date on the application, and that what he put on the application at the time was a lie. Instead, what they have done is to blackguard the man, without producing an ounce of proof.
His statement is that at that time he had not been approached by either the NUAUS or the Moratorium Committee. When he bad agreed to come to Australia, Reverend Noffs told the Aquarius Foundation and the Moratorium Committee that Mr Gregory was available. His. use of the word ‘sightseeing9 was quite a reasonable statement to make. Mr Gregory is to attend the Third World Conference of 67 unaligned nations in Zambia. Amongst those attending, on the information given to me, will be Mrs Gandhi, President Tito and Haile Selassie. At that conference the representatives of the 67 nations will be told that Australia insists upon excluding from our country men who want to speak to Australians in a way which is not palatable to the Government. It seems quite evident that people can come here and 6peak on platforms about the Vietnam war so long as they are in favour of the war. The Government does not object to that. But if they wish to come here to speak against the war, they are to be excluded. This is the kind of freedom of speech that we have in this country. That is crystal clear from what the Government has said. It has said: ‘We will not stop anyone from coming here to engage in political discussion. They can come here. Do not let it be said that Australia would stop men from coming here because they wanted to speak on political matters.’ In the next breath it says: ‘We cannot have them coming and talking in a one-sided Moratorium Campaign - talking against our point of view. Let them come if they say what we want them to say, but they will not be allowed to come here if they are going to speak against what we say.’ This is the kind of talk that came out of Hitler’s Germany. This is the kind of talk that is coming more and more from this Government.
Australia ought to be a free country. This is our land as well as the Government’s and we do not like what the Government is doing to it. We do not like the fact that it is preventing people from going to New Guinea. We do not like the fact that the Government is keeping out men of world renown, apart from other citizens, on these kinds of grounds, what is the Government’s excuse for keeping out men like Dr Mandel?
– What about the cricketers whom you tried to keep out?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order!
– I welcome the interjection of Senator Webster from Victoria. Men and women all over the world are trying to stamp out the colour bar in South Africa. They seek to do it by dissociating themselves from South African teams and saying: ‘We will not welcome teams that come from that country so long as there is a colour bar. This is something which is against our human rights’.
– Do you agree with that?
– Yes, I do agree. I may not seek to do the same as those people are doing, but I am in complete sympathy with those who are seeking, by every reasonable means, to prevent discrimination against people, lt is inhuman. No doubt Senator Webster is sympathetic to the South African Government and to the Rhodesian Government.
– I am trying to be sympathetic to your cause. Would you keep these cricketers out?
- Senator Webster shares the views of those - and there are many in the Government ranks who hold this view, and everybody knows it - who believe in the master race theory. They speak about certain people with contempt. We have heard members of Senator Webster’s Party - and he know* it - speak about niggers. They say: ‘Those niggers are not fit to govern themselves’. Senator Webster knows that this is rampant throughout his Party, ft is nice for him in this chamber to attack those who are trying to prevent the colour bar in South Africa, who are trying to end discrimination. If he stood for human rights and if he believed in a free country and a free world he ought to be doing everything he can to assist these people. We are entitled to have freedom of speech in this country. That is a right which the school children, such as those who are in the public galleries at the present time, are taught in their school books was one of the great rights that have come down not only from the British heritage but also from ancient Greece and other places. There is the right of people to speak to one another. That means that there is a right to voice one’s political opinions and the right of others to listen to those opinions. That is enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights.
– It is qualified in the Declaration. I wish you would read the whole declaration. Here it is if you wish to read it.
– 1 have read the Declaration of Human Rights. I welcome what has been said by Senator Byrne, because in regard to each one of those rights he will say, as Senator Rae did: Look at the end; all this is subject to the requirements of public order, morality and so forth.’ If Senator Byrne adopts that approach he will say that there is not one of those rights which is not subject to those requirements. They apply to every right in the Declaration, it is good that we have had this debate today because we can see where Government supporters really stand on this question. They are prepared to support the erosion of our fundamental freedoms. I am glad that Senator Byrne has intervened because it is good to know also where he stands on the question.
My Party stands firmly for the freedom of speech. We have made mistakes in our time, and I suppose that we still make them. But the mistakes which my Party makes on freedom of speech or on other questions are mistakes for which we will suffer. If we deny fundamental freedoms, my Party will suffer. If the Liberal Party denies these fundamental freedoms to its own members, it will suffer. But if the Australian Government does it, Australia suffers - all of us suffer. The Government is not doing disservice merely to itself; it is doing it to our country, and that is what we resent. That is why we will raise these matters again and again until the Government is deflected from the course which it has been pursuing.
– Let the Labor Party set an example in its own ranks.
– If the Labor Party breaks fundamental freedoms, it is the entitlement of Senator Marriott and everyone else to get up in this chamber and denounce the Party for it. If that kind of activity is engaged in throughout the community, it will be better for all of us. It is no use honourable senators opposite taking a stand and saying that the Government can be excused for breaching these basic human rights because something has been done by the Labor Party or by the Moratorium committee or by someone else. That ‘ is no excuse. We must insist upon these fundamental freedoms wherever they are threatened. This must be done by every party, and especially by the Government of this country. We will not stand by while this Government makes a mockery of human freedoms, keeps out of Australia people like Dr Mandel and keeps other people from visiting New Guinea because it is ashamed of what it is doing there.
I suppose that if the American citizen Gregory had come to Australia he certainly would have done some sight seeing. If he were to go and see what is being done to the Aboriginal people in this country, I suggest that he would have many stories to tell when he got back to America, and they would not be funny stories either. This Government ought to be ashamed of its trampling on human rights, especially those of the Aboriginal people in this community.
– Tell us what you would do if you were in office.
– If the Labor Party were in government and if it fell down in these respects, then I say that it would be entitled to be criticised. If honourable senators were to get up and criticise us and denounce us that would be good for us and for Australia. There is no excuse for honourable senators opposite supporting what they know in their own hearts is wrong. I think that there are many honourable senators opposite - apart from those who have spoken in the debate - who do not agree with what the Government has done. They know that this is wrong. They think that this man should have been allowed to come to Australia and speak so that we could hear what he had to say. Some people would agree with him and some would not. This is the way in which a democratic country works.
What is the Government afraid of? Is it afraid that this man or some other will come here and speak his mind to citizens who will go freely into some public hall or out into some open area to hear him? Why is the Government so afraid? That fear shows the Government’s own insecurity. It is doubting its own policies. Honourable senators opposite know in their own hearts that these policies cannot stand up to examination, otherwise the Government would welcome these people. Honourable senators opposite would say:’We are prepared to hear anybody debate these policies. Let those who have strong views on those policies come and speak their minds and we will show them the error of their ways.’ There is an old saying: When truth and error are in combat, truth will prevail. What the Government is seeking to do is to exclude the truth, to exclude the views of those with whom it does not agree.
The 3 hours which are allowed for this debate will have expired at the conclusion of my speech. I suggest that the Senate should support the motion as an indication of its disapproval of the Government’s actions.
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.20 a.m.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Appointment of Joint Select Committee The PRESIDENT- I have received letters from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr Whitlam), the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and Senator Byrne, the Whip of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, advising the appointment of members to the Joint Select Committee on the Defence Retirement Benefits Legislation. The membership of the Committee as appointed is as follows: Mr Jess as Chairman, Senator Byrne, Senator Devitt, Senator Maunsell, Mr Barnard, Mr Bonnett, Mr Crean and Mr Hamer.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
THE PRESIDENT- ls notice of motion No. I, Government Business, formal or informal?
Sen:,tor Wright - Formal.
– I move:
The work includes a strengthening of the existing runway and part of the existing taxi-way, extension of the runway to 10,000 feet and construction of a parallel taxi-way and parking apron. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $6.4m. 1 table the plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 15th September, at 3 p.m.
[4. 1 3] - f move:
That at 8 p.m. today intervening General Business ‘ be postponed until after consideration of notices of motion Nos 8, 9 and 10.
That will have the effect of bringing on tonight under General Business discussion of times of speaking etcetera in relation to which, by common consent, there is to be a free debate and a free vote by honourable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
Recently shipping freight rates to and from Tasmania by the Australian National Line, subsequently followed by other shipping companies, were increased by 12+ per cent overall and in some respects by a much higher percentage. Tasmanians are most concerned at these increases. A great anxiety prevails there. Before I go on to deal with thai fact in detail I shall refer to some of the background in relation to this matter. The ANL came into being with the passing in 1956 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. The Line has carried on the development of the shipping services around the Australian coast and, lately, overseas, lt has been a successful and well run organisation. I believe there would be general agreement in saying that no-one on either side of this chamber regrets the setting up of the Commission. The functions with which it was charged were to establish, maintain and operate shipping services for the carriage of passengers, goods and mail. To that end it was to carry on the general business of a ship owner in relation to any service operated by it. Its objectives were set out and described by the then Minister for Shipping and Transport, Senator Paltridge, when the Bill was debated in this chamber in 19S6. Pages 1126 and 1127 of Senate Volume 8 of the Hansard record of 31st May 1956 contain these words: lt has been the objective of the Government in drafting this bill to place the commission as far as possible in the same position as a private operator of ships. The commission, therefore, has been given a very considerable degree of autonomy and the powers of the Minister are, generally speaking, limited to a power of approval on a relatively few matters of policy. The Minister also has power to approve of freight rates charged by the commission; but it should be noted that the power is one of approval or disapproval only, and he has no power to initiate changes in the freights charged by the commission.
The Minister has one direct power, to which 1 should like to refer. Where he considers it is necessary to meet the needs of a particular area and it is in the public interest, the Minister may direct the commission to establish a shipping service to meet those particular needs. Where a service is established at the direction of the Minister and results in a loss and the commission’s operations for the year also result in a loss, then the commission is entitled to be reimbursed for the loss on the service or the loss on the year’s operations, whichever is the lesser. This power will enable the Minister to ensure that where they are necessary, developmental trades will be undertaken by the commission to areas where the commission would not normally provide services because they would nol be payable from a commercial point of view. If the commission is operating on a profitable basis overall, it will be expected to absorb any loss is on such trades, but if its operations should not he profitable, then it may be reimbursed and the maintenance of developmental services will thus not be an unduly onerous burden on the finances of the commission. The Government expects the commission to operate on a proper commercial basis and it has, therefore, included a provision in the bill which obliges the commission to pursue a policy directed towards securing revenue sufficient to meet all its expenditure and to pay a reasonable return on its capital. So far as is consistent with this obligation, the commission is obliged to make its services available at the lowest possible rates.
Section 1 8 (2) of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act in fact provides that requirement that the Line makes its services available at the lowest possible rate of charges. The Commission presents an annual report of its operations. By way of background I refer briefly to those reports. In 1968 the Australian National Line made a net profit after tax of $3,062,403. This was notwithstanding the substantial loss of $743,000 which was suffered on the Darwin service. No reference is made to any other section of the Line’s operations making a loss and that may or may not be a significant matter. In terms then of the concept outlined by Senator Paltridge and provided for in the Act the Commission bears the Darwin loss of $743,000 out of its profits without any special assistance from Commonwealth funds. In 1969 the loss suffered on the Darwin service was $740,000 which is approximately the same amount as in 1968. In the north Queensland service the loss was the rather astronomical one of $1,200,000. Those are the only losses referred to in the report although reference is made to the Tasmanian run but only to mention industrial unrest resulting in inconvenience. The report does not refer to any loss being made so one can assume that in 1968 and 1969 a loss was not suffered on the Tasmanian run.
In 1969 the Australian National Line’s net profit, after tax and after taking into account those losses which I have mentioned, was $1,028,791. Again, those losses were borne out of the profits and were not subject to reimbursement by the Commonwealth Treasury. I remind honourable senators that if the Line’s operations reach the stage where large losses, such as on the north Queensland and Darwin run amounting to about $2m, cause the Commission to suffer a loss it is possible for the loss to be reimbursed from Commonwealth funds. It is not therefore essential that freight rates on other services must - I emphasise the word must - be increased to cover any such losses. Whether it is desirable or not is an entirely different question and one which could be considered at a completely different time. The Commission’s reports have stated the exact amount of losses suffered on particular services - that is north Queensland and Darwin - so it is quite obvious that the accounting methods available to the Commission enable it to calculate the profit or loss on a particular service. Last year murmurings were heard of possible freight rate rises, particularly in relation to Tasmania. Tasmania has always had to rely heavily on shipping services for its continued participation in interstate trade and commerce.
As is well known, Tasmania is an island. It cannot therefore rely upon road or rail transport as an alternative. All other States can and the Commonwealth Government has been most conscious of the importance of developing these facilities and providing huge sums for projects such as the eastwest railway, beef roads, etc. It may be of assistance to honourable senators if I mention that from 1951 to 1970 in relation to railways every State except Tasmania participated in grants of $119 1/4m and loans of §123 £111 from the Commonwealth Government. In the period 1961 to 1974, in respect of beef roads, grants and loans were given to Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. The grants totalled $5Hm and the loans $14+m. Again Tasmania did not participate. Tasmania cannot have a rail link with Victoria nor can it have a beef road, other than through its shipping services. It is natural therefore that the cost of those shipping services governs, to a large extent, the prices of most commodities in Tasmania and the extent to which Tasmanian industries and producers can compete in interstate markets. Tasmanians believe that they are entitled, in relation to their shipping, to the sort of consideration given to the other States in relation to their road and rail systems. Perhaps the people of Tasmania may be forgiven for taking that attitude because they have been given to understand that their interests would be given special consideration.
For example, Senator Paltridge, who was the Minister for Shipping and Transport when the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act was before this chamber, said, as reported in Hansard at page 1365:
Tasmania always has been regarded, so far as shipping is concerned, as one part of the Commonwealth that should receive special treatment, regardless of cost.
That was a firm statement of policy by a responsible Minister and a statement to which I believe Tasmanians were entitled to have regard. It is not surprising, therefore, that the recent announcement in July that the Australian National Line would increase its freight rates in one jump by 1 21 per cent was received with some dismay followed by a degree of incredulity and resentment. Later it began to appear to Tasmanians that not only was there to be a general rise of 12+ per cent by the ANL but also that other shipping lines would follow suit. Blow followed blow as the people in Tasmania learned that new methods to arrive at freight rates for certain classes of goods would also be introduced and that some of the increases might be as high as 100 per cent or more. Perhaps some of the expressions of fear and indignation were based on misunderstanding and a lack of full knowledge.
Perhaps some were unjustified and exaggerated, but every person living in Tasmania was hit with a feeling of great concern. Editorial comment in the newspapers reflected the common view of the people in relation to this matter. I take but 2 examples. The editorial in the Launceston Examiner’ of 23rd July states:
The Chairman of the Shipping Division of the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufacturers has stated that Tasmanian industry is subsidising uneconomic services of the ANL by almost J2.5m annually. The figure will be challenged; but more than an unqualified and unsupported denial front the Federal Minister for Shipping (Mr Sinclair) will be needed to convince Tasmanians to the contrary.
The Hobart ‘Mercury’ of 22nd July said:
As for the principle that the ANT. should pay its way, does this have to be applied unreservedly in the case of a Stale which is so utterly dependent on shipping.
The Premier of Tasmania, Mr Bethune, has repeatedly expressed concern about this matter. He requested that the decision be reconsidered. A number of other steps were taken to make representations to those concerned. The increases were described by the Premier as another economic blow to the people of Tasmania, He described the situation as a crisis and he gave examples of increases, such as that on jam exports - an important export from Tasmania- from $26.35 to $38, an increase of nearly 50 per cent. Another example was on the export of carbide, on which is based another important Tasmanian industry. This increase was from $20.10 to $27.35, an increase of about 35 per cent.
The State Minister for Transport, Mr Bessell, forecast a 2i per cent to 4 per cent increase in the cost of many basic foods and groceries. Major industries expressed their concern and some which were contemplating expansion or development are now reconsidering. The Federated Chambers of Commerce expressed its concern and was one of many that made a statement to this effect:
The consistent refusal by the ANL to release individual figures on all its operations in Australia reinforces the suspicion that Tasmania’s high rates are subsidising uneconomical services.
The Chambers of Commerce also said:
Even if Tasmanian shipping routes are uneconomic, the rates should remain at the same level because of the Slate’s dependence on shipping.
Those comments are typical of the widelyheld beliefs. Whether they are justifiably held or not is an entirely different matter and one I do not go into at the moment because it is one into which I hope a committee of this Senate will be going. Discussions have been held to try to overcome the problems but notwithstanding those discussions between Tasmanian Ministers and the Tasmanian Government, the industries in Tasmania, the Federal Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) and representatives of the shipping line, nobody seems to be satisfied. We have had continued expressions of concern and suggestions for action coming from all the political parties in Tasmania. I believe it is fair to say that this is the most serious issue in Tasmania’s history. It is certainly Tasmania’s greatest problem since the 1967 bushfires. The people of Tasmania are confused as to the facts. The refusal - which may be completely justified - to release the figures in the same way as those for the Darwin and northern Queensland runs has led to suspicion and confusion. The people of Tasmania want to know the facts and they want to be taken into confidence so that they may try to determine what action should thereafter be taken. I emphasise that it is not necessarily a matter of asking at this stage- for any particular action, nor do I think that the people of Tasmania generally say that any particular action should be taken. Some may say that there should be some sort of subsidy and some may say that some other action should be taken. What is required is a basis of knowledge and fact, from which the people can determine the proper action to be taken.
We have, therefore, a most important and vital matter concerning the operation of Commonwealth Legislation, principally the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. This matter should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. The people of Tasmania are entitled to have the State House of this Parliament help them. We have recently created just the machinery to deal with such an urgent matter. We have created standing committees for this purpose and I suggest that this is a most appropriate matter to refer to a standing committee. Such a committee is capable of quick investigation and the presentation of an early report. Some of the investigations may need to be carried out in camera because it is quite conceivable that many of the figures and factors concerned in the determination of freight rates which would be dealt with by the Committee under its terms of reference would involve questions which may put the ANL in a disadvantageous position if they were bandied about publicly. But that is a matter to be determined by the Committee when it takes the evidence. It is quite a common thing for Senate committee to take evidence in camera where it is obviously in the interests of those concerned that such evidence should be taken in camera rather than in public. I simply mention that matter by way of putting up a skittle to knock down. I imagine that one of the matters that could be raised in relation to this is that it would be unfair to subject the ANL to a requirement to disclose its figures publicly.
The terms of reference are intended to cover the main matters which are of concern to the people of Tasmania and to give the opportunity for the appropriate recommendations to be made. The terms are intentionally - and I emphasise this - not so wide as to lead the committee into a lengthy and broad examination which would preclude it from bringing in an early report. I believe that an early report is important. It is essential for this is a matter which requires urgent investigation and the speedy presentation of a report. It may very well be that the investigation will show that the increases are completely justified and that some other and entirely different action must be taken, whether it be by way of alteration to existing legislation or some other step.
I know I have the full support of Senators Lillico and Marriott, the other 2 honourable senators on the back bench on this side of the chamber who come from Tasmania. I mention also that I moved this motion on behalf of the 3 of us after a full discussion with them. It was decided between the 3 of us that as I was the only one of the trio not up for re-election this year I should move it, so that no-one could suggest that either Senator Lillico or Senator Marriott was endeavouring in any way to make political capital out of what is a most important matter to the State of Tasmania. I ask the Senate to support me, the other Liberal senators from Tasmania and the Tasmanian people by agreeing to refer this urgent and critical matter to the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade.
I hope and trust that the motion will be supported and that, if it is supported, the matter can be proceeded with quickly and an early report produced to the Senate on the limited terms of reference I have prepared. It may then be that the report would suggest some further investigation, and at that stage consideration could be given to the further investigation. But at this stage it is important to have the opportunity for an early investigation and report so that, if some step to change the freight rates has to be taken, it can be taken before too much further damage is done to the further development of the State of Tasmania.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– On behalf of the Opposition I move the following amendment:
At end of motion add: (d) other legislative or administrative steps necessary or desirable to overcome the economic disabilities suffered by Tasmania in connection with those services.’
I do not think there is a great divergence of viewpoint between senators on the Government side and those on the Opposition side in our attitude towards the great misfortune that has befallen Tasmania as a result of these freight increases. But, after listening to Senator Rae, I believe that there may be a considerable divergence of viewpoint as to what the Federal Government’s reponsibilities in this matter are. It is to these points that I wish to direct my remarks.
It is correct to say - here I agree with Senator Rae - that probably no issue in Tasmania in recent years has caused as much controversy, as much concern and as much alarm among Tasmanians generally as has this decision, and that no decision will have more effect on the Tasmanian economy than will this one. I noticed that in the Press release, which was issued by the Minister for Snipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) just prior to his visit to Hobart 2 or 3 weeks ago but of which I have not a copy with me at the moment, he said that he had been made fully aware of the problems that would confront Tas- mania as a result of this increase. I question whether he is sufficiently conversant with them and has been sufficiently well informed on them.
A Hunter Valley Research Foundation report entitled ‘Tasmania in the Seventies’ was published recently. I think all Tasmanian members of the Parliament would be reasonably familiar with it. Some very revealing comments were made in it. It was an exhaustive report on the present economic position of Tasmania in the Commonwealth and the likely prospects for the State during the 1970s. I wish to quote to the Senate one or two of the comments that appeared in it. On page 12 of section 17, under the heading ‘Trade and Markets’ the following comment is made:
Economic growth for Tasmania will not be possible without the expansion of trade flows with the mainland and other parts of the world as well as the development of trade within Tasmania itself. Tasmania’s economy cannot operate within a framework of self-sufficiency if a modern growth pattern is an objective.
Later on the report states:
Tasmania’s domestic markets will always be relatively small. For this reason, manufacturers and producers should look towards opportunities available in other markets to sustain growth programmes in their activities.
It is quite apparent that the emphasis there is on the need for any manufacturers or exporters of any products in Tasmania to depend on markets outside the State. This, of course, is the paramount concern of anybody who is producing in Tasmania, whether in the primary field or in the secondary field. Emphasising this point, a supplement on this report, which was published by the Launceston ‘Examiner’ on 9th July, made this comment:
A surprising number of well-established Tasmanian firms have undertaken full scale comparative cost studies to examine the feasibility of shifting to the mainland.
The Hunter Valley Research Foundation report says that these firms include several which are regularly quoted in official literature and news media as examples of successful industrial development in Tasmania.
It went on to itemise some of the factors that bring this about. It concluded by saying:
Rising transport costs to the mainland were the most dominant factor. The net result has been to make production costs much more sensitive to variations in the price of power, raw materials and wages.
I do not want to be stating the obvious, but we can see from that comment what all this means to a State that is falling behind the national average in the field of development. I hope to say more about that during my contribution to the Budget debate. At this stage I will just say in general terms that Tasmania is falling behind the national average in all the important fields. This is not the time to give the details, but I want to make that point.
The provision of sea transport for the export of our products from Tasmania is vitally important to us; yet we now have a situation in which this load is imposed on us and we have a government which has virtually agreed with the shipowners and with the Australian National Line. Senator Rae made reference to the last report of the ANL - and correctly so - but I felt that he might have spent a little more time analysing the most recent report that is available to us; that is, the report for 1968-69. The report for 1969-70 is not available. I will have more to say about that in a moment.
In regard to the last one that is available to us, an impartial reading of the Chairman’s review would make anyone come to the conclusion that here was a statement or a warning that the Line proposed to increase freight rates. It was all oriented in the direction of justifying an increase in freight rates. I am not criticising the Chairman for adopting that attitude. It is the significance of it that is important. In the course of his review he made reference to 3 specific areas in which the ANL was losing money. On the Darwin trade, as Senator Rae pointed out, the loss was $74,000. On the north Queensland trade it was $1,200,000. There is no reference to any loss on the Tasmanian trade as a whole. The only reference is to the trade between Hobart and Brisbane. That was operated by the old ‘Dalby’, which is now off the run. There is no reference to any loss on any other part of the Tasmanian trade.
I suggest that a reasonable interpretation of that is that, had losses been incurred on the Tasmanian north-west coast trade, for example, or even on the trade between Hobart and Melbourne, the Chairman would have made reference to it. He did not do so. I believe that one can only come to the conclusion that the only loss being suffered was on the trade between Hobart and Brisbane. When we go further into the report and look at the section dealing with Tasmanian cargo services, in which the position is spelt out in detail, again we find reference only to the loss incurred by the ‘Dalby’ on the Brisbane run. There is no other reference whatsoever to the Tasmanian trade.
Let us assume - we can only assume it at this stage because we do not know the details of the latest year’s trading activities - that the ANL has made a loss on the overall trade or that it has made a loss on the Tasmanian trade. I come back to section 17(1.) of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, which has been referred to already. I think Senator Rae quoted from some source to indicate that the ANL should be or is regarded as a normal shipowner or a normal trading organisation. I do not think this proposition stands up to investigation. I do not believe that the ANL is a normal shipowner and it should not be treated as such. Section 17(1.) specifically provides as follows: 17.(1) Where, in the opinion of the Minister, a shipping service of the Commission is necessary to meet the requirements of a particular area and it is desirable in the public interest that the shipping service should be provided, the Minister may, by writing under his hand, direct the Commission to establish, maintain and operate, or to continue to maintain and operate, a shipping service for the purpose of meeting those requirements.
Section 17 (4) provides: (4.) Where-
The figures for operations of the Australian National Line for 1969 show that it did not make an overall loss. Therefore section 17(4.)(c) would preclude the Minister from reimbursement. I concede that point, but I am sure all honourable senators will be interested to know that if there has been an overall loss for this year - and 1 think that is a distinct possibility - the Minister will be entitled under that section to seek reimbursement. It will be interesting to see how genuine is the Minister. I do not mean that in a personal sense. 1 want to know whether in his capacity as Minister he will in fact use the provision contained in section 17 and ensure that reimbursement is sought to maintain the freight rate at its present level pending the outcome of the Committee’s findings. There has been no inquiry. There has been no instrument by which we can find out the details. In October of last year I addressed a detailed question on notice to the Minister. I asked him whether he would divulge the details of the ANL’s trading operations to Tasmania. He said that the Commission would not.
– Perhaps the honourable senator would direct his mind to this point: He has referred to sub-section (1.) of section 17 and also to sub-section (4.). Does it not appear that the Minister must first of all give in writing a direction to the Commission before sub-section (4.) can apply? That is as to the repayment of a loss. Could not that be a technicality which would prevent reimbursement this year?
– I think you have to read the whole of the section in the context in which it is intended. Possibly in a technical sense Senator Rae is right, but I think the intention of the people who drew up this section of the Act was to provide for the situation to which I have referred. It was quite clear even at that time that this situation could arise when a particular area of the Commonwealth required its services.
– This may be one of the amendments needed.
– Perhaps that is for a draftsman to decide. I would not like to comment on that. I think Senator Rae would agree that there is a distinction in respect of the intention, which I believe is quite clear. That is why I said in the first place that we should not confuse the ANL with a normal shipowner. I do not think there would be provision of this nature in the charter or articles of association, or whatever it might be, of a private shipowner. I think it is fair to say that it would not be included. That is why it appears in the section. At this stage I think the least that can be done by the Government is to hold the freight rates as they are at present until a determination is obtained.
I return to the point I was making. When I asked my question last year I did so because of information given to me from other sources to the effect that the ANL was not operating at a loss to Tasmania, and it was quite evident in the Chairman’s report for 1968-69 that it had every intention of increasing freight rates. I said at the time that if the facts were made known there would be a public outcry and that is why we did not get them.
I turn briefly to consider some of the other fields of operation of the Department of Shipping and Transport which refuses at this stage to accept the responsibility for the freight rates. A tremendous amount of money is outlaid by the Department in other fields. Senator Rae briefly referred to this aspect but I think the figures ought to be shown in Hansard so that anybody who reads the record of this debate can compare the moneys allocated by the Department of Shipping and Transport and other departments to other States than Tasmania, particularly in matters of transport. Expenditure by the Commonwealth to 30th June 1970 on work covered by the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act 1949 was $46.6m. Under the Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Act 1961 total expenditure by the Commonwealth to 30th June 1970 amounted to $93. 6m. Under the Railway Agreement (New South Wales and South Australia) Act 1968 total expenditure by the Commonwealth to 30th June 1970 amounted to $12m. The Railway Agreement (New South Wales) 1968 requires the State to carry out work and the Commonwealth to provide the funds to meet expenditure by the State up to a maximum amount of $10m. There is no requirement for repayment of any amount by the State. I could go on.
I appreciate that the Department should not be held responsible for the economic problems of Tasmania, but if the Department can find millions of dollars for other States, as it has done, why can it not find the same sort of expenditure to assist in the transport facilities for Tasmania which is utterly dependent on shipping? It is so logical. Any fool could see it. The Department of Trade and Industry subsidises a South American shipping service each year to the extent of $200,000, with a limit of $300,000 if the Commonwealth wishes to exercise its option. The total amount paid out under this subsidy since its inception is $2.22m.
The amount of subsidies paid by the Department of Civil Aviation to various airline operators throughout Australia to provide certain services for transport - basically the same thing as we are seeking - is nearly $2m over the past 3 years. The Department has subsidised these services to the extent of $5m. It is even subsidising the service to Lord Howe Island to the extent of $200,000 a year so that tourists on their annual holidays may be carried backwards and forwards. During this time, although the shipping service is absolutely vital to the economy of Tasmania, sufficient money has not been found to hold freight rates at a reasonable level.
I ask the Senate to support the amendment I have moved. The specific point that should be made is that the motion moved by Senator Rae - although we accept its main provisions - states in paragraph (c):
The problem is that in referring to the lowest possible freight rate one is right back where one started. What is a profitable operation? If the ANL has to increase freight rates in order to make possible a profitable operation, this will affect Tasmania immediately. The primary reason for moving the amendment is that further steps may be taken, if necessary, in order to overcome the economic disabilities suffered by Tasmania in connection with the shipping service. I hope that the amendment and then the motion will be carried so that the matter can be referred to the Committee, as in fact it should be, so that we can get an intelligent and definitive statement from that Committee as to freight rates of the Australian National Line.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Is the amendment seconded?
– I second it.
– As Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) let me say that I fully understand and sympathise with the reasons which have led Senator Rae to move for the reference of this matter to the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade. It is appropriate to mention at this stage that this is the first reference to that Committee. The committee system is a new device which we all hope will work extremely well. One would not want to circumscribe too much its activities in its first exercise. One would want to leave fairly open the possibility of examination. I am sure that we all agree that the Committee will approach its task with alacrity and judgment and will try to produce a result as soon as it possibly can, but I would not want to attempt to lay down too rigidly the precise terms under which the Committee might operate and the precise timetable to which the Committee might work. Suffice to say that one wishes the Committee the very best of good luck in its exercise.
It is a tremendous source of frustration and annoyance to the people of Tasmania that charges by the Australian National Line in the Tasmanian trade have recently been increased by 12t per cent. So large is the share taken by ANL of the total Tasmanian trade that an increase in the Line’s charges results in an increase in all charges by all shipping companies trading from the mainland to Tasmania. It is because the people of Tasmania still seem to feel so strongly that the increases are not justified that the Minister supports this motion. He has said: ‘I have no doubt, however, that the Committee will be more than satisfied after its consideration of the matters raised*. A study of the amendment moved by Senator Wriedt on behalf of the Labor Party seems to indicate that it does not add anything to the reference. It merely adds I more reference that is not necessary. As I have said, we can expect and assume that the Committee will approach its work in the sense of what the Senate will give it to do. Therefore we believe that the amendment is nol necessary.
Much has been said and done by people who should know better to make Tasmanians feel fearful that as a result of these increases their whole connection with the rest of Australia has suddenly at a blow become at best a tenuous lifeline. Nothing could be further from the truth. Eleven years ago ANL introduced into the Tasmanian trade a form of shipping which at that time was so advanced and radical that the Line was able overnight to cut its charges by 45 per cent. Two years later, in 1961, a further reduction of IS per cent was made in freights from Tasmania to the mainland. That is a reduction of a little better than 50 per cent in the freights which were ruling at that time. Since 1961 ANL’s charges have remained basically unchanged. I know of no other industry with such a record of reduction and stability in its charges.
Over the 8 years between 1961 and 1969 average cost items in the operation of ‘Princess of Tasmania’ and ‘Bass Trader’ have gone up enormously. Ships stores and providoring have gone up by 33.5 per cent, crew wages by 133 per cent and ship repairs by 171 per cent. These are just examples of the upward movement of major cost items. Wharfage, which is included in ANL’s charge, has, on the average, increased by some 8 per cent or 13c a ton. All these increases have been absorbed by ANL. Not only that, but in the time since ANL’s charges were reduced by more than 50 per cent the charge made by freight forwarders has increased by 47 i per cent. That is a very significant fact and I know that honourable senators who are interested in this will be noting these remarks with some care. It so happens that much of the cargo in and out of Tasmania is handled by freight forwarding companies. These companies offer a door to door service. They collect and consolidate the cargo, deliver it to the ship and, at the other end of the ship passage, pick it up and deliver it to the consignee. For that service the charge $337 southbound and $321 northbound for a typical container load. ANL’s charges amount to no more than half of these freight forwarders charges, that is $155 southbound and SI 35 northbound. It is truly incomprehensible that the forwarding companies have been able to increase their total charges by 474 per cent over 11 years without a voice raised seriously in protest whereas ANL, after reducing its freights by about 50 per cent over the same period, is being pilloried for increasing its freights by 12i per cent. ANL has simply run out of its capacity to absorb cost increases by greater and greater efficiency.
Honourable senators will know that ANL has to operate on a commercial basis. The Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act 1956-1969 provides inter alia:
The Commission shall pursue a policy directed towards securing revenue sufficient to meet all its expenditure properly chargeable to revenue, and to permit the payment to the Commonwealth of a reasonable return on the capital of the Commission.
There are very good reasons for this requirement. It is of course the only failway in which ANL can operate. If it sets freight rates at a level below those at which a private enterprise shipping company could operate, then competition would be eliminated. If it set rates which provided a return beyond what could be considered reasonable, then this would be unfair to Tasmania. This latter aspect is also covered by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. The Commission is required to conduct its shipping services as efficiently as possible and, subject to the requirement for a reasonable return on capital, it is to make its shipping services available at the lowest possible rates of charges.
Honourable senators will also know that the operations of the ANL are also governed by the provisions of the Australian Coastal Shipping Agreement. This Agreement, amongst other things, is designed to ensure the continued operation by private companies of ships in the Australian coastal trade. It also provides for payment to the Commonwealth of a reasonable return on capital. Honourable senators will appreciate that this is a provision in an Agreement, an Agreement embodied in an Act, but an Agreement nevertheless. There can be no doubt that the provisions of the Agreement in respect of the Commission policy for securing revenue are of great significance to private enterprise shipping companies operating in the Australian coastal trade. Whilst it may well be possible to alter legislation should the Government see fit, alteration of the Agreement could only be made with the consent of the parties to that Agreement.
The first part of Senator Rae’s motion concerns the factors considered in establishing ANL’s freight rates in its Tasmanian operation. I have already made brief mention of some of the major cost factors and the increases in those items which have taken place in relation to 2 of the ANL’s vehicle deck ships over a period of 8 years. There is no doubt that it is important for the Committee to be aware of the magnitude of these cost increases, which have been absorbed by ANL for such a long period. If there is any real belief that ANL has not been offering a most efficient and economical service, then the establishment of these factors should quickly remove it. It should also satisfy any doubt that exists - apparently it does exist in Tasmania - that factors not applicable to the Tasmanian trade are in fact considered In establishing freight rate in trades to and from that State. The second part of the motion concerns the appropriateness of the current level of freights. The Minister for Shipping and Transport has said ANL ls not profitable in the Tasmanian trade as best he can assess it and ANL has confirmed that.
Each year ANL provides very detailed costs of its overall operations. I am informed that in future those financial results will distinguish between overseas and coastal operation. There is no intention to offset any losses on one by increasing charges on the other. To reveal ANL’s costs of operation in great detail, however, would be to reveal the whole of its operations to all its competitors who do not have to do the same. Where would it stop? ANL would be led into revealing its costs in greater and greater detail until citizens in various towns in various ports were satisfied that their charges were exactly what they felt they should be. There is no intention that this level of detail should be examined. The situation patently would soon become absurd and untenable. Worse, this very fine institution - the
ANL - which has done so much for shipping on the Australian coast, would rapidly fall victim of all the pressures that have destroyed other government shipping lines before it.
ANL has a fine record because it operates commercially, because it is free from political interference, because it strives to make a profit and remain efficient. The use of this Committee to seek great detail would destroy all that by dragging ANL down to the degraded position of the Socialist transport enterprises that have operated in the past.
Incidentally, many of them have gone out of business. Further, it would be nothing more than an attempt to usurp the role given to the Minister under the Coastal Shipping Act. The Parliament deliberately ensured that a check was kept on the ANL’s charges by requiring that those charges be approved by the Minister. The Minister himself is restrained in his actions by the fact that he has to ensure that the charges will enable the Line to remain efficient and pay a reasonable return to the Government while nevertheless charging the lowest possible rare. He has done all that. He has. 1 know, put a great deal of effort into honouring his obligations under the Act to the best of his ability.
Senator Wriedt made some comments about whether the Minister for Shipping and Transport had been fully informed of the effects of increased freight rates on Tasmania. 1 have been advised that he was. I understand the Minister visited Tasmania on 17th August for talks with the Premier and other interested parties and that all the freight rate anomalies which were brought to his attention were investigated and resolved. The economic viability of Tasmania was also raised. All of us would agree that it is extremely important that Tasmania should have the same opportunity to grow and prosper as every other State. The disabilities between one Australian State and another can be rectified to a very great extent by reference to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which will provide extra financial assistance if it is deemed to be necessary. Perhaps this is an aspect which could be considered in another place on another occasion.
It would be intolerable to the Minister and to the Line if a Senate committee should seek to look over his shoulder and so deliberately and crudely question whether or not he has done his job. This is, of course, not the intention of the motion and one would not want it to become the intention of the Committee. It is envisaged that the costs of this service and the revenues secured should be considered to the extent necessary to determine if the revenue, at the current freight rate, is sufficient to provide the return of the capital employed as required by the Act and the agreement. Honourable senators are aware of the cost increases that take place from time to time. I am sure they are also aware of the substantial reductions which have been made by ANL over the years. I am sure that the Committee will find that the return on capital from the existing freight rate is at best not more than reasonable.
The third paragraph of the motion is quite different in character from the other two. It is, of course, quite within the competence of the Parliament to change the legislation under which ANL operates provided the need is there, but it would be a very serious matter to do so. Under this Government the Line has had before it a very realistic goal. It has sought to earn a reasonable return on the funds employed. Because, it has had that goal it has acted as a business should, lt has competed for business, sought the best and most efficient operating methods and striven always to keep its freights as low as possible, consistent with those objectives.
I must stress that it is essential to remember that the ANL operates in a competitive and I think tough environment. It should not be asked to provide detailed costs that will give an advantage to its competitors. Perhaps even more importantly ANL should not be weakened by being exposed to narrow political pressures from sectional interests, pressures that have brought so many great institutions to their knees and have been the graveyard of past shipping ventures. There may be areas, however, where variations to the guidelines under which ANL operates could be thought to be of benefit. Any such variation will have to be considered against the terms of the agreement under which ANL operates.
It is my view that ANL has been and is providing Tasmania with a most efficient and economical shipping service. I would be very loath to see anything done that may prejudice this situation. It is necessary however that Tasmanians be satisfied that they are being fairly treated. With this in mind, the Minister has instructed me to support the motion and to say that the Government does not feel that the amendment which has been moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party adds anything to the motion which is, in itself, complete and will permit the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade to consider the matter thoroughly.
– The motion which is before the Senate is of great importance to Tasmania, lt seeks the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade to investigate the operation of the Australian National Line’s shipping services to and from Tasmania with regard to the factors considered in establishing freight rates; the appropriateness of the current level of freight rates; and any amendments necessary or desirable to the governing legislation to enable the operation to be carried out at the lowest possible freight rate. On behalf of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Wriedt has moved an amendment to the effect that the Committee be also required to investigate the other legislative or administrative steps considered necessary or desirable to overcome the economic disabilities suffered by Tasmania in connection with those services.
The problem which Tasmania is facing at present is mainly an economic one. It boils down to the fact that, as the only island State in the Commonwealth, Tasmania is suffering from disabilities which the other States do not have. Firstly, Tasmania has fewer than 400,000 people, which is in itself insufficient population to support the economic absorption of the products of industries already established in Tasmania. Tasmania relies on the mainland States and overseas markets to buy 80 per cent or more of its production. Therefore, shipping is of vital importance to it.
I do not think anyone will contradict my allegation that the Government’s policy of allowing inflation to occur in all areas of the economy has disturbed the normal economic pattern to such an extent that nobody knows where Australia is heading. The Government’s policies have caused anxiety in the shipping industry. The fact that there is anxiety in the shipping industry is shown by the fact that, although a lot of criticisms has been levelled at the Australian National Line, all shipping lines operating to and from Tasmania have to some degree increased their freight rates. The inflation which the Government has allowed to occur in Australia has resulted in freight rates being increased. Inflation gathers momentum the further it goes. When shipping freight rates are increased there is a corresponding percentage increase in the price of commodities. Increased freight rates have a tendency to destroy the economy of the whole of Tasmania to a greater degree than the economy of any of the other States.
Senator Wriedt said earlier that a recent report indicates that Tasmania is in a very precarious position insofar as ils primary industries are concerned. The price of its wool has been depressed. Tasmania is experiencing very serious competition on the overseas market for its apples. Other difficulties have also arisen. The orchardists of Tasmania are finding themselves in a very difficult position. The producers of dairy products are, like their colleagues in other parts of Australia, having troubles, too. The same applies to Tasmania’s pea growing industry. People throughout the whole of the primary industry sector of Tasmania are rinding that they are on a similar level to the one which they were on when Australia was entering the depression years of the 1930s. Tasmania has been relying on the industries which have been developed in recent, years for its economic buoyancy. I refer to such things as the massive paper, pulp and newsprint industry, the electrolytic zinc complex, the manufacture of superphosphate and the cement works at Railton. All of these things have built up the export earnings of Tasmania. To superimpose the burden of higher freight rates on these industries is countering any advantage that Tasmania was able to offer those industries to establish themselves there. They were attracted there mainly by the large timber concessions which were offered and hy electricity rates which compared more than favour ably with electricity rates on the mainland. Unfortunately, inflation and the extra charges that are being imposed from time to time are eating up all the advantages that Tasmania offered.
Now it can be said quite fairly that the opportunities for development in Tasmania are being severely restricted. Wc have evidence of our young people leaving the State to find job opportunities in other States. As was mentioned earlier by Senator Rae, industries have had surveys carried out to examine the Feasibility of moving their industries out of the State. A debate such as this perhaps does not bring home forcefully enough the plight that the latest impost of the Mi per cent increase in freight rates has placed Tasmania in in comparison with the rest of the Commonwealth. The subject has been canvassed very widely. Deputations of State officials have met the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). Deputations have waited on the various Commonwealth Ministers. Every path has been followed to present Tasmania’s case to the Commonwealth Government.
– Has the Pak Poy report been presented to the Tasmanian Government?
– No, not on this issue. The Pak Poy people are doing a study of the whole transport system in Tasmania. Perhaps the only glimmer of hope that Tasmania has is that out of the report the Minister will obtain sufficient information to prevail on Cabinet to help Tasmania. I can remember the earlier clays of shipping problems when, in the prewar and immediate post-war periods, the Postmaster-General subsidised the operation of the Taroona’ and the ‘Nairana’ by paying special rates for carrying letters and other postal articles to Tasmania. That virtual subsidy on ships operating the Tasmanian route kept open the life-line. 1 believe that the time has come to act, despite the fact that I am speaking before the Pak Poy report has been presented. 1 think it is obvious that that report will mention the severe disadvantages caused by Tasmania having too many ports for such a small population and for a relatively small island. I think the report will recommend - I hope it does - an extension of the railway system to connect the main ports so that Tasmania will have the most economic form of transport to connect it to the mainland. I think the report will show that Tasmania is in such a dire position that a direct Treasury subsidy needs to be paid to whichever line is operating to Tasmania to keep down freight rates.
In my view, the problem is this: No matter how hard the primary producers work and no matter how efficient they become, they will have to compete on the same tough markets on the mainland to sell the bulk of their production. Therefore, the extra freight rates have reduced their ability to be able to compete favourably. 1 believe the increased freight rates could have very serious consequences for Tasmania’s primary industries. The matter has been canvassed so widely that I believe that those who are in a position to make decisions should be able to make decisions. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is in possession of all the facts of the case. I can quite easily understand the predicament in which he finds himself, in that he does not want to interfere with the private arrangements of the Australian National Line. The obsession with making profits out of the Commonwealth line perhaps deserves deeper examination than it has been given because shipping, like roads and railways, provides a public service. Shipping helps the flow of trade and commerce. Substantial subsidies and assistance have been granted by the Commonwealth to various States for the standardisation of railway lines and for the building of beef roads. We believe that similar massive support is warranted to help Tasmania hold its position as an equal partner in the Commonwealth.
I support the idea of the matter being referred to the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade. The person most vitally affected is the ordinary Tasmanian consumer, the family man, who has to bear the brunt of the extra impost not only of increased freight rates but also of increases contained in the Budget. It does not matter from which direction the revenue is gathered, eventually the consumer has to pay for it. It is only now that the people are feeling each increase imposed by the last Budget. This stimulates and exacerbates the discontent that is evident throughout Australia today. The Government has a very big responsi bility to do something constructive to solve the problem. 1 do not know whether if the Standing Committee were to present a report on these lines that report would make any difference to the facts that are available already. Nevertheless, the investigation will widen the field of information available to push Tasmania’s very urgent case to those who understand it best.
I support the amendment moved by Senator Wriedt because it makes the motion a little more comprehensive. It will take some positive steps that will need to be taken to overcome the disabilities. It will widen the field of investigation. I hope that, in doing that, it will alleviate the very grave problem experienced by Tasmania in relation to increased shipping freight rates.
Senator LILLICO (Tasmania) [5. 23 J- -In my opinion, the Australian National Line would be a phenomenal organisation if it did not increase its freight rates. In its last available report, out of 28 operational items 24 have shown increases due to the inflationary spiral through which we are passing. The 4 that did not show an increase are items such as commission fees, which did not necessarily have to be increased. The Line incurred a loss of about $2.5m on other runs throughout the Commonwealth. In addition the ANL paid nearly $2m in income tax. After having paid ali that, it showed a profit of about Sim. In Tasmania that has prompted the thought: Is the run to Tasmania paying for these losses? Is it paying this income taxation? Is it paying the dividend to the Commonwealth Government which, of course, has slumped through the other operations of ANL?
I want to say this with as much emphasis as I can: Senator Wriedt did not refer to one loss incurred by ANL. He could have gone on and referred to the loss of nearly $500,000 on the Europe to Australia run. In my opinion, it is absolutely intolerable that freight rates to Tasmania should be increased to cover the big losses that are incurred on ANL’s operations around Australia, and more particularly by the losses that are incurred on the Europe to Australia run which has just been inaugurated. Let us suppose that next year the losses increase, as they probably will, and let us suppose that there is a loss on ANL’s operations to Japan. Is it not elementary that freight rates to Tasmania must be increased to cover those losses?
The 2 matters cannot be divorced. Is it not reasonable that it’ losses are incurred on ANL’s overseas ventures, those losses should be met by the whole of the Australian people, not just by the people from Tasmania who happen to use ANL’s freighting service?
I am not blaming ANL for the present position. I am blaming the system under which freight rates to Tasmania are increased in order to cover the losses incurred by the ANL’s other operations. Let me refer to interstate trade on the mainland. This trade is carried on, to a fairly large extent, through the railway system. The 5 States on the mainland use the railway system as a means of conveyance of interstate freight. Last year that railway system, overall, incurred a loss of nearly $90m. That means that Australian taxpayers subsidised the railway system of Australia to the extent of nearly $90m. As I say, that system is one of the principal agencies used for the carriage of interstate goods on the mainland. Road transport has to compete with the railway system and that competition must, to a certain extent, influence the charges imposed by road transport. When we look at ANL’s operations to and from Tasmania, we realise that ANL must make a profit, it must pay income taxation and it must return a dividend to the Commonwealth.
I repeat what I said when I rose to speak: In my opinion, it is absolutely intolerable that freight rates to Tasmania should be regulated by the substantial losses which ANL incurs on other runs, more especially on its overseas operations. I do not think that the present position can be justified in any shape or form, and the sooner the overseas operations of ANL are divorced from its total operations, the sooner satisfaction will be given to the Tasmanian people. I believe that Senator Rae’s motion is adequate. I believe that it covers the position which Senator Wriedt has set out to cover in the amendment which he has proposed. If it is found, after the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade has embarked upon its investigation, that it is necessary to enlarge the scope of the reference, I take it that the Committee can come back to the Senate and request that the necessary alteration be made. Furthermore, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) agrees with the motion and, when all is said and done, he is the Minister who controls the operations of ANL.
I repeat again, at the risk of being wearisome, that what Tasmanian people resent more than anything else is any suggestion that they should have to meet the considerable losses which ANL incurs in its operations around the mainland, such as the loss of $750,000 on the carriage of 8 shiploads of goods to Darwin. Tasmanian people resent the fact that their freight rales are increased to cover the losses incurred by the overseas operations of ANL. I suggest that those losses properly should be met by the people of Australia as a whole.
– This debate has been initiated naturally by a Tasmanian senator, and the debate .has been confined almost exclusively to Tasmanian senators - I think up to this stage completely exclusively. Therefore, apart from the duty I have to address myself to the chamber in order to present the position of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, 1 can claim some minor entitlement in the other role because of the strong Tasmanian connections of my family; my mother and 2 sisters having been born in Tasmania. So I have a double entitlement to participate in this debate.
I commend Senator Rae for bringing this motion forward, first of all because it is a matter of great concern to Tasmania, it is a matter of urgency and it is a matter, in my opinion, appropriate for early reference to one of the newly appointed standing committees. By its nature it is circumscribed in area. It is capable of rapid investigation and of early report. These seem to me to be conditions precedent to a proper reference, as I have expressed before, to the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade. Tasmania does suffer very grave disabilities because of its geographical situation and its reliance on sea transport. It is more evident, perhaps, to Tasmanians than it is to mainlanders, how grave these disabilities are and how long it has taken to rectify them. This investigation may well expose the whole position not only to the scrutiny of the Senate and of the Parliament, but also to public scrutiny and so stimulate the solicitude of the rest of Australia for the Tasmanian problem. Therefore, the DLP has very much pleasure in supporting this reference.
– Would you comment on the losses incurred by ANL in its overseas operations?
– I am not equipped in this field. Candidly, I have not given it any particular attention. But I think that Senator Lillico’s point is well made. The whole trading operations of the Australian National Line must be taken as a unity. Naturally, if there is a loss in one segment of an industrial or commercial complex, that loss will be spread by adding to the costs in some other range, so that a general level of profitability or reduced loss can be maintained. That, of course, can be a very serious disability to Tasmania.
Senator Wriedt, in a considered speech on this matter, has presented an amendment which he feels might extend the operations and area of investigation by the Committee. I do not oppose Senator Wriedt’s amendment merely because it comes from Senator Wriedt or anything of that character. I think that he brings the amendment forward with the very best motives and under some apprehension that the original motion might be a little circumscribed. I find myself unable to agree with that. When I look at the precise terms of the motion 1 notice, for example, that it refers to ‘governing legislation’ which, of course, would include not only statutory legislation but also regulatory legislation and administrative decisions. I think, therefore, that that term governs those heads that are mentioned in the amendment. In relation to the other head, that is the desirability to overcome the economic disabilities, it appears to me that that is governed by the reference ‘legislation to enable the operation to be carried out at the lowest possible freight rate’. That obviously goes to the question of consequent economic disabilities in the event the freight rate is higher than otherwise might be possible. For those reasons, I feel that we would be unduly precious to add this amendment to the motion which I think is sufficiently explicit and embracing. For those reasons we find that we are unable to support the amendment. We support the motion presented by Senator Rae. The Democratic Labor Party welcomes investigations by the 2 standing committees which have been established. The Standing Committee on Health and Welfare is one to which the independent senator, Senator Turnbull, has been nominated. .The Democratic Labor Party will not have representation on that Committee. But on the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade our nominee is the leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Gair, and if he cannot attend then possibly some other member of the Party will attend. We commend the motion before the Senate.
– We support this motion. We have indicated from the beginning that our members, especially those from Tasmania, are conscious of the need to investigate this subject matter because of the importance of shipping to the whole economic life of Tasmania. However, we feel that there should be referred to the Committee the further matter which is contained in the amendment proposed by Senator Wriedt. I suggest that the mover of the motion might consider amending it or accepting this amendment, and that the Senate should agree to it. As it stands, the motion says that the operation of the shipping services to and from Tasmania should be inquired into with regard to the factors considered in establishing freight rates. Assuming that is fully investigated and reported upon, we will know what the factors are. The second matter is the appropriateness of the current level of freight rates. It may well be that the report from the Committee will say that they are the lowest rates at which the operation can be conducted. I do not know, but that may well be the answer.
The third matter relates to any amendments necessary or desirable to the governing legislation to enable the operation to be carried out at the lowest possible freight rate. It may be that the answer would have to be that the freight rate imposed is the lowest possible. I can conceive that these could well be the answers which the Committee would give to the Senate. But that is not enough. We think that the Committee ought to be able, in the interest of Tasmania, to go beyond that. For instance, the Committee might say that it is not possible to operate services at a freight rate which is low enough to meet the economic disabilities which are being suffered by Tasmania. For example, the Committee might say that in the interests of Tasmania and, Tasmania being part of the Commonwealth, in the interests of Australia, there should be a subsidy on freight services. This is just not covered. That would be something outside the proposal contained in the motion. Therefore, Senator Wriedt has suggested that the Committee should consider also:
Other legislative or administrative steps necessary or desirable to overcome the economic disabilities suffered by Tasmania in connection with those services.
I support the view that he has submitted - there is no antagonism on this matter - that is, that in the general interest the Committee should not be confined in the way in which it has been and that this further flexibility would enable the Committee to suggest something which might be outside the three clauses in the motion as it stands. For that reason we ask the Senate to support the amendment. We indicate that in any event the Opposition will support the motion. We prefer that it be amended and we think the interests of Tamania would require that it be amended as proposed by Senator Wriedt. But in any event, we will support the motion.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wriedt’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– There being no objection leave is granted.
[8.1I] -I have 3 motions in my own name on the business paper. If honourable senators look at today’s Senate Notice Paper at page 1220 they will see Notices of Motion Nos 8, 9 and 10. I propose to take them in the order in which they appear on the Notice Paper.I do not propose to deal with them in a cognate debate because various senators have different views about different motions.
– Can the honourable senator not put the matter to the vote separately?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI could do that but experience has taught me that somebody who is not here now will come in in 10 minutes time and say: What are we talking about and what are we not talking about?’I propose to deal with the first motion as it is on the Notice Paper and to speak to it. Then it will be open for discussion by honourable senators.
– Do we then vote on that?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONWe vote on that and dispose of it.
– It is No. 8. is it?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes. I am not going to speak about it at any great length at all. I am not on my feet as the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am not here putting forward Government policy. By agreement among all honourable senators what we say, do and vote on in relation to these 3 motions is a completely free, uninhibited expression of view. It may well be that we will find that not necessarily everybody from each Party is on the same side when the count is taken. Trusting that that is completely understood 1 move:
That the Senate agrees in principle that the reply to a Question on Notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk. A copy thereof shall be supplied to the Senator who has asked the question and such question and reply shall be printed in Hansard.
What happens is this: An honourable senator asks a question. If it is asked on a Tuesday or a Thursday it is broadcast between 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock at night. If it is asked on a Wednesday it is broadcast at the time the honourable senator asks the question and it goes into Hansard. Full publicity is given to the question. In reply the Minister may say: ‘Put it on the Notice Paper.’ He may give a short answer and then say: ‘Put it on the Notice Paper.’
– If the Minister will allow me I would like to raise a point.
– The Senate rightly gave permission to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack to distribute some papers. I think the honourable senator will agree with me that all honourable senators should have a copy. If they are not in the chamber at the moment a copy ought to be placed on their table.
– 1 agree wilh that and I am sure you do, Mr President.
– I think it is being done.
The staff is circulating copies now. The point Senator Kennelly is making is that copies should be distributed to the seats where honourable senators are not silting in case they come in. The question having been placed on notice in due time the Minister, having prepared an answer, the answer is put on a list for the sitting of the Senate. At the end of questions without notice the President then calls on the questions which honourable senators have indicated they want answered. We then go through the interesting exercise of an honourable senator getting up, asking his question again and the Minister answering the question. We certainly have a duplication of the question. We receive an answer which can be in depth to a question which may have been answered in part the first time around. I have pointed out that questions are broadcast for the first time and broadcast for the second time. All my motion suggests is that when answers are to be given to questions on notice, instead of going through that process again, we simply have the question and answer handed to the Clerk and to the honourable senator who has asked the question. Indeed, as far as that goes, it could be circulated to other honourable senators. The question and answer will appear in Hansard for that day of sitting.
The Standing Orders Committee attempted to get some sort of understanding on this proposal which would tend to break down this laborious situation where on a Wednesday proceedings arc being broadcast live and - this is an extreme example - 25 questions on notice are asked and answered. These 25 questions may have been asked the previous week, the previous month or the same week. I would not know. This motion is simply designed to short-circuit question time which can be a most significant part of our proceedings. I believe that because of questions and answers on notice we tend to take away a little bit of the character, the force, ‘.he power and the quality of our question time. I am not going to go to the barracks on this. I am simply putting the proposal. In fact 1 am the guinea pig in this House tonight because I am simply moving the motion. We can have a free discussion on it and come to a vote. When we dispose of this motion I will bring on the others if I have time. If there is not time we will just have to adjourn them.
– I am most concerned with the attitude of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson as a private honourable senator on this question. He cannot divorce himself from the fact that he is a member of the Standing
Orders Committee which discussed this question. Some time last year some concern was expressed in the Senate when Senator Kennelly sought to ask a question on notice. There was some dispute as to whether he had the right to read the question or whether he should state the number of the question. As a result the dispute went to the Standing Orders Committee to try to make some arrangements for expediting the handling of questions on notice. As a member of the Standing Orders Committee I attended the meeting and when I came back I had to face some criticism from members of my Party because they believed I had acquiesced in some way in the curtailing of the rights of honourable senators. At that time the opinion of the Standing Orders Committee was that when the Senate was on the air - and this must be distinguished from periods when the Senate is not on the air - each honourable senator had the right to ask his question on notice because he was giving it io the listening public. But during periods when the Senate was not on the air we sought to curtail this procedure.
Mr President, I believe it was under your influence that we decided to try for a trial period notifying the Clerk of the Senate if an honourable senator wanted to ask a question on notice, and only those questions that were notified would be asked. Those questions which were not notified to the Clerk of the Senate would not be asked but simply incorporated in Hansard. This practice has operated for a trial period. I have tried religiously not to ask a question when it has been a question on notice in order to give the system a fair go. When the Standing Orders Committee was considering this question and trying to work out arrangements as to how it would operate, without any further reference to the Standing Orders Committee a member of the Committee now seeks to bypass the Committee which was responsible for trying to expedite the business of the Senate and come down with a resolution of this Committee. Should a member of the Standing Orders Committee have the right to by-pass that Committee, which was discussing this matter, and to bring it forthwith before the Senate? Let us have a look at the procedure. Members of the Senate, as I understand the position, ask questions for various reasons. Some want information. Some ask questions for their propaganda value - and they should be allowed to do so. As Senator Branson suggests to me 90 per cent of the questions are asked either for their propaganda value or in order to embarrass a Minister or to show that the Government has done or failed to do something in a certain respect. Members are entitled to the fullest propaganda value that they can obtain.
In the House of Representatives there are about 20 Ministers and each one can reply about matters within his administration. In this Senate there are only 5 Ministers who represent not only their own departments but also the departments whose Ministers are in the other place. No-one can condemn a Minister in this chamber for npt knowing the answer to a question about some matter which comes within the administration of a Minister in another place whom he is representing here. The result is that we get fewer answers in this place to questions without notice than members get in the other place. Many more questions have to be put on notice in this place. Few questions asked without notice in this place are answered immediately. Most of them have to be put on notice or referred to the Minister in the other place. If a senator asking his question wants to extract propaganda value from it he will, if this motion is agreed to, receive only the very little propaganda resulting from its being read in Hansard. After all, how many people read Hansard?
– Sometimes the Press pick up a question and publishes it.
– What the honourable senator is saying is that it has propaganda value if it attracts the attention of the Press. However, it has a bigger propaganda value for the member who asked it if he is allowed to read il and have it broadcast over the air. If the newspapers think there is no news value in a question how can the member have it publicised? How can he achieve his purpose? He may not be able to achieve it at all. Members of this Senate have always had the right, at times when our proceedings have been broadcast, to ask their questions and have them answered. We did agree to refrain from reading questions at times when we were off the air because at those times there was no propaganda or news value.
– But when we are on the air we have always had questions and answers read.
– Yes, it has always been done. That has been our custom, lt was acknowledged on one occasion after a debate in this House that members had the right to have questions read at such times. This resolution seeks to take away that right. We get few direct answers to questions asked without notice in this Senate, lt is entirely different from the other place. To take away our right to have questions and answers read is unjust and an infringement on the rights of senators. We should not entertain this resolution. I think even Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson will admit that it could entail some injustice. My contention is that when we are on the air senators should have the right to ask their questions and have the replies read. When we are off the air the question could still have some little propaganda according to the number of people who are in the spectators’ galleries, and it appears to me that when a senator thinks his question is sufficiently important he should have the right to have it read and the reply also read.
– You want us to continue working as we are now.
– I think our present system is a good one. I remind the Senate that this was a system recommended by the Standing Orders Committee for a trial period. Now, without being told by that Committee whether the trial has been a success or a failure, we have a member of the Standing Orders Committee submitting this resolution without taking it back to the Committee of which he is a member.
– He had a perfect right to do so.
Senaton CAVANAGH- He has a perfect right but it seems to me that this is an expression of dissatisfaction.
– This is a pretty good example to follow in regard to standing committees. Do not labour that too much.
– When this yellow document comes on for consideration I anticipate that I will have something to say on it. The Standing Orders Committee tried amicably to reach agreement. We could not do so and we arrived at a compromise for a trial. We agreed to see how it worked out. I went back to my colleagues and received strong criticism because of the compromise I had agreed to and now I find that a member of the Standing Orders Committee, without referring the matter back for review by that Committee, and without saying whether our trial was a success, produces this resolution. ( am left to bear the wrath heaped on me by my colleagues. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson wants some further restrictions on the rights of senators.
Are members of the Senate prepared to restrict their rights to propaganda value associated with questions and replies? I notice that the time for questions without notice has been taking more than an hour during this sessional period while very little time is taken up in answering questions on notice. Does someone want to deprive senators of the right to ask their questions and have the replies read out? At the present time they can do this simply by giving notification to the Clerk of the Senate. This attempt to restrict the rights of senators is something that I am opposed to. 1 only hope that the Senate will not agree to this resolution. I am not fully acquainted with the Standing Orders in relation to this but I would suggest that the matter should be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee which can review our period of experimentation. It could then report to the Senate and let us all review the position and say whether we should agree to any change.
– Mr President, I rise-
– I rise to order. I want to know whether this motion, as submitted by Senator Anderson - I am referring to him in that way because he has not moved this motion as the Leader of the Government in the Senate-
– He is still Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson.
– 1 think he will appreciate that I meant no discourtesy. Mr President, I want to know whether this motion is in order in view of standing order 103 which says:
When Notices of Questions are given, the Clerk shall place them at the commencement of the
Notice Paper, according to the order in which they were delivered at the Table, and the Reply shall be handed to him in writing, when given.
The words that are important, in my mind, are ‘when given’. I would like the members of the legal fraternity in the Senate to help me. I suggest that if this motion is to be carried and made binding it must be carried by an absolute majority of the Senate; but I do not know whether a motion such as this can alter a standing order. If this motion were carried, I could put a question on the notice paper and no answer need be given. I suggest that in view of the use of the words ‘when given’ the answer has to be given verbally. Otherwise, I do not think it is ‘given’. If that were not so, in my opinion, the standing order would finish with the words ‘and the Reply shall be handed to him in writing’. I want clarification, although I know that lawyers will differ and although there are no fees attached to this request.
– I trust that 1 can clear the matter up for the honourable senator. What is happening here tonight is that an expression of opinion is being sought. After honourable senators have expressed their opinions - it is good that they should do so - the matter will have to go to the Standing Orders Committee. Naturally, it would be the Standing Orders Committee that would draft a new standing order. Does that answer your question, Senator Kennelly?
– If that is so, that will do. All I want to know is whether we are in order in discussing this motion in view of what is in the standing order I have quoted.
– The Senate can do as it wishes. What it is being asked to do is to express an opinion in a general way on a matter which will have to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– I do not want to debate with you, Mr President; I want to show respect. All I want to know is whether we can discuss a motion which, if carried, could be contrary to standing order 103 in application.
– I think we have got into this problem because there has not been a really good examination of the motion. All it does is to ask for an expression of opinion in relation to a standing order. Eventually, whether the matter goes to the Standing Orders Committee - and I agree that that is the only place for it to go-
– Where does the motion say that, it is only an expression of opinion?
– 1 suggest that the honourable senator read the motion. It uses the words ‘agrees in principle’. The point is that some honourable senators have not read the motion. That is the trouble. The fact is that any vote on this motion will nol alter the Standing Orders. However, it will put us in a tremendously advantageous position if we know what the general view of the Senate is. That is all the motion seeks to do. I do not want it to be understood to be doing anything other than that.
– If 1 may speak to the point of order, let me say that 1 agree somewhat with the Leader of the Government on this matter-
– What is the point of order?
– 1 am not too sure.
– Surely the point oi order was whether the motion is or is noi in order.
– The motion Ls in order.
– Then what is the point of order?
– 1 think Senator Kennelly has accepted my assurance that any vote tonight will not alter any standing order. It wil! be merely an expression of opinion.
– Why not just refer the matter back to the Standing Orders Committee?
– The honourable senator may move an amendment to that effect.
– Can I do that, Mr President?
– If you get the call. You will get the call after Senator Withers, if you want it. Senator Cavanagh, I do not think any point of order is involved. 1 think we have cleared the matter up reasonably well now.
– I only wish to make a couple of points-
– Mr President, I raise a further point of order. Senator Kennelly raised a point of order as to whether the motion was in order. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson spoke to that, and surely I have the right to support Senator Kennelly.
– The President ruled that there was no substance in the point of order.
– Without hearing the full argument.
President did that even before 1 spoke.
– I will overcome that situation simply by not upholding Senator Kennel ly’s point of order.
– But I wanted to say, before you made that decision, that the point of order should be upheld. You did not want to hear me and you very cleverly got out of doing so. lbc PRESIDENT- 1 think we will hear Senator Withers.
– 1 only wish to deal quite shortly - that is a dangerous expression to use in this place - with a couple of points that have been raised. The first is one that was raised by Senator Cavanagh in an implied criticism of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson for putting this motion down in his own name. 1 would hate to think that, merely because one is a member of the Standing Orders Committee, one thereby loses all his rights as a private senator. If that theory were to be taken to the ultimate, it could be a very neat device for burying matters in the Standing Orders Committee for years. Therefore, 1 believe that any implied criticism of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is quite unwarranted.
As I understood his motive in listing these motions, it is to enable the Senate to express an opinion on 3 matters. If the Senate, in expressing an opinion, agrees with him, it will then be the task of the Standing Orders Committee to frame a new standing order or an amended standing order, which must come back into this place and be passed in the proper way, to amend a standing order. If, however, the Senate should disagree with all or any of the 3 matters raised by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, the Standing Orders Committee can then forget those 3 matters for the foreseeable future. I regard what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is doing tonight as a very necessary device to stop the Standing Orders Committee wasting its time, lt will have 1, 2 or 3 matters to bite on - or perhaps none at all. Then, within the Standing Orders Committee, we can get on to other matters. 1 know that Senator Kennelly is worried about this motion; but, as I understand the position, it seeks purely an expression of opinion so that the Standing Orders Committee can either go to work or not go to work, lt cannot in any way - certainly not in my view - alter the procedures of the Senate until the Standing Orders themselves are amended by a proper resolution.
– Surely you do not think 1 will stay on the Standing Orders Committee with this treatment. While we are giving something a trial, someone comes along here and has another bile.
– That is a matter for the honourable senator’s judgment. If your theory is correct I would not want to stay on the Standing Orders Committee. I would not want to remain a member of that Committee if it meant that I would lose my rights as a senator and be a prisoner, in my view, of the Standing Orders Committee.
– With your Leader’s approval we gave it a trial period but he has never come back to the Committee to discuss it.
– With due respect to Senator Cavanagh, I think we would advance a lot further if we dealt only with the matters before us instead of indulging in nit picking operations as to past incidents. Whilst it might be a very interesting exercise it will not advance the purpose of the debate. If Senator Cavanagh wants to spend the next 6 or 8 months arguing this point back and forth around the table in the Standing Orders Committee he can spend his time in doing that. But I do not think it is a bad idea for the Senate to be consulted. What is wrong with consulting the Senate? Is a committee to be set up to deny the rest of the senators a right to speak? Would Senator Cavanagh have taken the same attitude if another of my colleagues, for example, Senator Davidson, had put these matters down?
– He is in a different position. He is not a party to an experiment which was being conducted, but Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson was.
– That is your objection. I take it that it is an attack on the integrity of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. This is one of the reasons why I raised this point because I am not prepared to accept that attack. As I understand Senator Cavanagh, if Senator Davidson, Senator Greenwood or any other colleague had raised these matters the objection would not have been taken; but merely because Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has acted in his capacity as a senator, as he has made quite clear, he is a bad boy who should be rapped over the knuckles. That is a view with which I am not prepared to go along.
– I think I had better clear up the matter of the Standing Orders Committee. Having discussed this matter, it arrived at a certain decision. There was a deviation from that decision which rather ended the valuable work that the Standing Orders Committee had done on this particular matter. The Standing Orders Committee is not being bypassed. It is still in existence. A matter comes before it, points of view are expressed and if the Committee thinks it wise it will draft a standing order. It comes back to the Senate again to be further discussed. All honourable senators are doing here tonight is what I think is a sensible thing to do, without any reflection on anybody. I do not feel reflected upon at all by the discussion here tonight. Honourable senators are having an open and frank discussion on these matters. Let us forget all about the Standing Orders Committee. If anybody should take exception or feel a little hurt, it should be me, but I am not offended. I think it is good to have this discussion. I call Senator Poyser.
– I am hurt by the disgraceful attitude of a member of the Standing Orders Committee.
– If he wants to play it rough I will play it rough, too. I have been accused of disgraceful conduct and I object to that. I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I understand that you called me, Sir.
– Yes. There is no need for any heat in this discussion at all. There is no need to be blaming anyone, or anything like that. If that point came into the discussion I could join in the argument with regard to the Standing Orders Committee. 1 do not think there is any need for heat, or any problems. I call Senator Poyser.
– The discussions that have taken place on this matter in the short time that it has been before the Senate show quite clearly that the Senate is simply wasting its time on the 3 points under discussion. The simple fact is that on the ruling of the President we are now in the situation that we are expressing an opinion. If we take the matter to its logical conclusion, we are virtually giving a direction to the Standing Orders Committee to bring down certain recommendations which, in my belief, will take rights away from senators and will move us closer to Executive control of the Senate, as is the case with the House of Representatives. I think it is a scandalous situation for the Senate to be debating these 3 items separately.
– Order! I do not think the honourable senator is justified in using the word ‘scandalous’. He should use another word. I do not think there is any scandal involved.
Sentaor POYSER- Shocking or terrible. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Regrettable.
– Incredible, if you like. Any word will suit me. We have 3 items for discussion. It is hoped that we will conclude the debate on them tonight. We are being confined to a separate decision on each item although they are all intertwined. It means, I suggest, that if we go through these items seriatim instead of in globo we will be debating this question for the next 3 or 4 months. The Senate is making a decision tonight, not on the curtailment of question time, debates on urgency motions or the length of speeches, but on the basis of handing over to the Executive of this Parliament rights that senators have held for many years. That is the situation we face.
We are being asked to vote on whether questions on notice should be automatically included in Hansard when answers are supplied by Ministers in another place. We are in an unfortunate position in the Senate because only 5 Ministers are senators. Many questions that we ask of Ministers in the Senate obviously cannot be answered by them off the cuff because they relate to portfolios held by Ministers in another place. Time after time our questions are partly answered by Ministers in the Senate and then we are asked to put our questions on the notice paper. This practice has been carried out by some Ministers. Now we are being asked to approve a system whereby none of those questions and answers will see the light of day again.
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said that we are getting 2 bites at the cherry. That is nol completely true. Immediately I can think of 2 of my colleagues - Senator Mulvihill and Senator McClelland - who before the beginning of a session place on the notice paper a number of questions that are never asked in the Senate. We are now asked to approve of the automatic system thai operates in another place, lt would curtail our rights and that is the situation that every honourable senator faces - a curtailment of rights that we have held for a Jong, long time.
A few days ago I spoke on this matter. I said then that we should never give away a privilege that we already hold. We face the situation that we will discuss in Committee many matters that should be discussed openly in public, before the public galleries and members of the Press. This whole matter is tied up in a report that will nol be discussed tonight, although we thought it would be. In that report we are told that we will have additional hours to discuss the Estimates, but an examination shows that in reality the additional hours we may have will be spent in Committee. No senator can be in 3 places at the one time. It is a physical impossibility. I personally will not be a member of any of these committees because of the restrictions that 1 believe would be placed on me and the obligation, which 1 could not fulfil, to attend all sittings of a committee of which I was a member.
The fact of the matter is that subjects that have been openly discussed in the Senate since Federation will be discussed in a small room in this building. The public will have right of entry to that room, but if it will accommodate more than 6 people it will be a lucky thing. If there is room for members of the national Press to listen to the discussions, it will be an even luckier thing. Then a report will come back to the Senate and we are told that we will have a second opportunity to debate the matter. I warn the Senate that these are inroads into the privileges which at present keep this House a workable House. If we become a complete replica of the House of Representatives we have no right to exist, lt is clear to me that the private members’ notices on the notice paper have been segregated so that the full implications of the 3 notices now before us cannot be debated at the one time. We are being asked to debate them separately. Of course this means that there will be limitations on speakers on both sides.
I implore the Senate not to give way on the first, second or third matters. Let us hang on to the privileges that we hold now. If we do not, we will reach the stage in this House where the guillotine and the gag will be applied ruthlessly at the end of the session and all the tricks that are played in the other House to get dozens of Bills through in the last fortnight-
– Order! I do not think that this has much to do with the subject matter before us. Please come back to it.
– I believe that if we accede to the propositions before us tonight the very things which happen in the other place will happen here. That is why 1 am so strongly opposed to them. The simple arithmetic of this operation is that we sit for a certain number of weeks each session and into those weeks we have to squeeze a certain amount of business. Some 64i hours of our time will be taken from us; the privileges that we already have in relation to question time will be taken from us and, if the other proposals are carried, still more privileges will be taken from us. In the end we will become a complete replica of the other House which is controlled by the Executive which uses the forms of the House to deny people the right to speak. I oppose the proposal most strongly.
-I rise to speak in this debate which, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has said, is a non party debate. In the first place, let me say quietly and without heat that 1 am amazed at the illogicality of Senator Poyser. He complains about the proposed Estimates committees yet he wants the matter now before us to go to the Standing Orders Committee. I find that completely illogical.
– Because you are complaining about committee work in regard to the Estimates yet you want this matter to be handled by the Standing Orders Committee.
– There is no parallel.
– I know that there is a difference. In the second place, I refute completely the imputations that have been made against Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. The real breach of the spirit of the Standing Orders Committee occurred many months ago in relation to the proposition for the establishment of standing committees and other committees, when one member of the Standing Orders Committee, for the purpose of anticipating the decision of the Standing Orders Committee on that matter, put down a whole series of motions as a private member. That is what subverted the whole operation of the Standing Orders Committee. I think that the debate should proceed with the usual degree of respect. We accord an unusually high degree of respect to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson in matters of principle and integrity. The third thing that J want to say is that after conversation and with the complete acquiescence of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson if I wish to do so, 1 am inclined to move that this matter be referred immediately to the Standing Orders Committee.
– You get up to talk and then move an adjournment. If that is not Rafferty’s rules, I do not know what is.
– No. I am only mentioning an inclination in my mind because I will not submit the matter to the Senate if there is any substantial degree of opposition. I would welcome individual points of view to the end of tonight’s sitting but I would hope that the Senate, the whole 60 of us, would not become involved in a continuation of debate, night after night, on procedural details which usually are the first proposition to go before a committee. 1 have indicated my inclination. I have not moved a motion. Now let me deal with the mechanics connected with the submission of questions in writing and answers to those questions being given in writing without any identification of an honourable senator in front of his fellow senators either in relation to the answer, so far as the senator is concerned, or in relation to the question so far as the Minister is concerned. I am wholly opposed to that. I simply point out that the present system provides a right more important to the Opposition and much more important to the minority than to a Government private member or a Minister, but it is a right which is important to a Minister because it is often of advantage to the Government to have the answers to the questions stated in Parliament which is the proper place for them to be stated.
The principal reason why 1 take the view in objection to the proposal is this: At present we see questions without notice distributed all over the Senate at question time. Obviously the questions have been written by some propagandist employed in a back office. If Ministers employed a propagandist in a back office-
– A Minister has a staff; we have not.
– Try to be objective. There we would have merely an interplay of back stage men using the table of this House as the focus on which to put their paper. I am saying this because I am opposing that view. When a question is placed on notice I believe that it becomes the property of the Senate. I believe also that a senator who has placed a question on the notice paper should have some opportunity to ask the question and to have an answer orally stated in the assembled Senate. That is what I believe identifies the elected member with responsibility for asking a question with regard to public affairs and obtaining an answer. I remind honourable senators that it has been said frequently over the past 50 years of increasing decadence of the House of Commons that the one real right that the private member still retains is question time. Therefore. 1 would not vote for any curtailment of the present right to ask questions on notice and to have answers stated orally in Senate assembled.
– I call Senator Willesee.
– A point of order, Mr President. Did the Minister move a motion?
– No. Do not anticipate too much. I must give the call to Senator Willesee as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– Over many years I have been trying to get some change in the Standing Orders and in the Parliament. I have been trying for 15 years to start a trickle of thought on the Standing Orders and tonight I am confronted with a flood. I think Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson timed badly the introduction of these proposals. lt would appear that in his enthusiasm he has forgotten the experience he has gained in this chamber.
– 1 am being the guinea pig for the whole team.
– I give Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson full marks for putting himself forward as the guinea pig. However, I think his timing could have been better. After 70 years the Senate is starting to do something about the manner in which business is handled. When I first became a member of this chamber I was young and very green. I used to suggest measures of reform. In those days the old timers would look at me and say: ‘If you do away with democracy you get a dictatorship’. When I would reply: ‘Surely we can improve on our parliamentary system of democracy?’ they would look at me in awc and then walk away. I never received an answer. Certain changes have been made in the procedure of this chamber since then. For example, the other day the Senate decided to do something about the number of days it would sit each week. The smart thing to do would have been to allow this proposal now before us to edge its way in slowly. As some of the present procedure dates back 70 years surely we could have waited another 12 months or so. If this had happened honourable senators would have been better able to appreciate the position, I am in favour of forwarding the 3 proposals of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration.
Over a long period of time I have suggested that there should be a reconsideration of all of the Standing Orders. So far I have not been able to get anybody to agree with me. You will remember, Sir, that a few years ago you invited honourable senators to forward to the Standing Orders Committee suggestions concerning amendments to the Standing Orders. Only one honourable senator forwarded any suggestions and that was me. I think I made about 30 or 40 suggestions and the Committee accepted 3 or 4 of them. However, it was some progress. If I can find my file on these suggestions I will resubmit them to the Standing Orders Committee. I hope other honourable senators will also forward suggestions concerning amendments to the Standing Orders to this Committee. For example, Sir, when the President is elected it is mandatory that he stand on the top step of the dais. I do not know what would happen if he did not do so. I do not know whether the Presidency would be taken away from him. Small things like that are unnecessary in this day and age. 1 return to the question of trying to save time. I think Senator Cavanagh has a point. Here we have a situation where we could ask the Standing Orders Committee to revise the Standing Orders. We are going through a trial period in relation to our system of standing committees. I do not know whether something went awry along the line, but I think the proposals of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson should be considered by the Standing Orders Committee. The Senate is leaning over backwards to introduce a committee system but on this issue it is trying to bypass the Standing Orders Committee. I know it is not being bypassed deliberately. Obviously the members of the Standing Orders Committee would be better able to thrash out these proposals than we are.
I agree with the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) that the right to ask questions of the Government is very important to an Opposition. The manner in which these questions are asked varies tremendously throughout the world. The House of Commons in the United Kingdom does not adopt a system of placing questions without notice on the notice paper, but it has a very broad system in relation to the asking of questions on notice. I noticed that questions were written out on a sort of school pad. It has been said on occasions that the Lok Sabha in India allows members more freedom than we do in relation to questions. Now that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has acted as a guinea pig and brought these matters to our attention, 1 would hope that they will be referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration on a very broad basis and not just on this question of saving time. Some great works have been written which would indicate that the Indian system of questioning Ministers is better than our own. Whether the situation in India or in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom is better than our own system is something which could bc looked at by the Standing Orders Committee. However, I think we have to be careful about any changes we make. Some years ago a book was written about the Parliament by a jouranlist named Warren Denning. As it was before the time of the broadcasting of proceedings it is considered to be a long way out of date by most people. But if honourable members were to read it they will get an understanding of what the Parliament is all about. I read it many years before I came to this Parliament. Voltaire said: ‘I disagree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it’. This is bound up tremendously in the proposals which we are discussing tonight. It is something which must be watched very carefully.
Senator Sir Magnus Cormack has circulated some information which I have not had much time to consider. I do not know what he intends to say on this aspect, but it would appear to me that, irrespective of the proposal to change the Standing Orders in regard to such things as the length of speaking times, common sense has made some Standing Orders redundant. I think the timing of these proposals has been bad. I believe that the Standing Orders Committee should examine them. I am in favour of the idea you had a few years ago, Mr President, of requesting suggestions con cerning amendments to the Standing Orders. When the Standing Orders Committee has made its report on not only these proposals but on the general question of the Standing Orders - -
– Is the honourable senator suggesting that these proposals should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee?
– Yes. I would also like to see the 3 proposals considered by the Standing Orders Committee. 1 would like to see you take an interest in this matter again, Mr President. Although you did not get a great response on the last occasion you asked for suggestions concerning the Standing Orders, I think the response may be different on this occasion.
– Are you moving that the first proposal be referred to the Standing Orders Committee?
– No. 1 do not want to inhibit Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson in any way. I think we should take a vote on his first proposal. We will have a chance at a later stage to forward these matters to the Standing Orders Committee because we have to debate the other 2 proposals of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson
– 1 rise to participate in this debate because there are a number of pertinent points which I think should be clarified. Some unfair criticism has been levelled at Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson tonight.
– I do not think that there is any need to pursue this aspect.
– It has been said that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s timing has been wrong. Circumstances have changed in recent times. It should be remembered that only recently the Senate introduced a system of standing committees in addition to its system of Senate select committees. The operations of committees have a direct relationship to the time we can possibly save within this chamber. I think this is a very important point which must receive consideration.
Another matter which has been raised is the restriction or curtailment of the rights of the various committees which have been set up. This is something which concerns me and I think it should concern all honourable senators in this chamber.
Questions on Notice
We all hope that the system of standing committees will be effective and of great assistance to the Senate. It is also hoped that they will save time. I do not think that it is a valid argument at this point of time to say that the 3 proposals of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. I think to do so would take something away from the rights of the individual members of this chamber. Tonight we have an opportunity to give expression to various points. These expressions can be noted by the Standing Orders Committee. If the Senate decides that a proposal should be accepted the Standing Orders Committee could draw up a standing order to suit the proposal and it would in turn come back to the Senate for it to decide on the merit of the standing order.
Another important point which must be given consideration is that, as I understand the situation, there is no member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party on the Standing Orders Committee nor is Senator Turnbull, who is an independent senator. The members of the DLP and Senator Turnbull will have an opportunity tonight to express their points of view and give an indication to the Standing Orders Committee of what they are desirous of seeing within the Standing Orders, particularly with regard to the 3 proposals of Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. I think, that for those reasons alone, one must commend Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson for facilitating an open discussion, not on Party lines but on individual lines, in the Senate tonight. This will give all of us an opportunity to express our point of view and will give the Standing Orders Committee an indication of what e desire that Committee to consider. The matter will then be brought back to the Senate. The Senate will still have control of its destiny because it will decide the fate of the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee.
– 1 hope the Senate will reject the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in his capacity as a private senator. If carried, in essence what will the motion do? It will curtail no; only members on this side of the Senate
Questions on Notice 51 3 but all members of the Senate. What will it add? It will add more Dorothy Dix type questions. That is all it will add. Instead of asking a question and having it put on notice, honourable senators will go to a Minister’s room and say to his secretary: T want to ask your chief this question today or tomorrow’. The purpose of the motion will be defeated. We must always guard against any curtailment of the rights of senators, whoever they may be at a given time. We are going through unusual times. Some think that we are in a permissive society. Some think that they can do what they like. Therefore we must protect one safeguard that the people have, that is, that at all times elected senators should have the right - and obtain more rights if possible - for free and open discussion. If that is done I think the Senate as we understand it, will have a greater chance of survival.
What does Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson think the motion will achieve if it is carried? The only thing would be a saving of time. How much time will be saved? In my view, it would be far better if the Senate met half an hour or 20 minutes earlier to let us enjoy the right we have had over the years. Not long ago there was an agreement that if we wanted an oral reply to a question on notice we would go to the Clerk and inform him that we wanted to ask the question, and the Minister would then read the reply. Senator Murphy appears to be having quite an audible conversation. I do not know whether he wants to make my speech for me or whether he wants me to make it. I do not mind if he wants to make it for me. I would prefer to make it myself, irrespective of how badly some may think I am doing the job. Time and time again when an answer has contained a mass of figures, the Minister who has been replying has said: ‘I have 2 pages of figures. I ask for leave for them to be incorporated in Hansard’. Those figures would not be read. If Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson replies, I would be interested to know what time he proposes to save if the motion is carried. If it is carried here it is more or less certain that the Standing Orders Committee, when it meets, will put the rubber stamp of approval on what the Senate decides. I would not blame the Committee for that. I say that with respect to you, Mr President. [3 September 1970]
– Order! I do not think the honourable senator has the right to speak about the Standing Orders Committee in that way. I hope he did not include me in the rubber stamp category. I can assure him that I am not in that category.
- Mr President, surely no-one could take umbrage from the words I have used. I said that, if the Senate carried the motion, in effect it would mean that when the Standing Orders Committee met and discussed the matter it would agree. If it did not, when it submitted its findings, the Senate would vote in the same way as it did the first time. 1 am sorry if I was not clear in my enunciation of the point, but I assure you, Mr President, that I had no intention of reflecting on you.
As one who will not be here much longer, I submit that we should never give away something that we have already. People are always anxious to take away something from the open Parliament in order to get the work through much more quickly. We have plenty of time. I suggest that if a Minister requests an extension of sitting times because of the volume of work to be done, the majority of senators will not mind sitting an extra hour or extra hours or an extra day to get the work done. Therefore I cannot see that the motion will be of any help to honourable senators. I think its main purpose will be to stop honourable senators from asking questions. We do get answers to questions, but honourable senators should always remember that we do not get an answer next day. Sometimes we do not get an answer at all to a question on notice. Those of us who have been here for some length of time know quite well that at the end of a sessional period a number of questions still on the notice paper are wiped off. I know that this will be a free vote. From what Senator Webster said this afternoon, that may help him. I hope that at least on this occasion he and I will be on the same side when the vote is taken.
– I am surprised at the heat that has been engendered by the debate tonight. I am quite sure that when Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson moved the motion he did not think that such heat would be engendered.
I do not rise to speak to the motion but rather to state what I believe should be done in the circumstances. I have in mind that we must always recognise that a committee of any organisation is a committee set up to give detailed consideration to the matter in hand. It then has to report to the substantive body which, in this case, is the Senate. The Standing Orders Committee is the special committee set up for the purpose of considering the Standing Orders. I hope that this matter and the other matters on the business paper that arc to come before us tonight will be referred to the Standing Orders Committee in the first instance.
Senaton Cotton - Move that way.
– I move:
I think this is the right way to do it. The Committee would then come back to the Senate with a unanimous report, a majority report or a minority report and we could consider it. In my opinion, this is how it should have been done.
– We now have before the Senate the motion moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson in his private senatorial capacity and an amendment which has been moved by Senator Bull that this matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. We are dealing with a particularly important and significant part of the opportunities that private members have in any Parliament to present points of view by way of questions and to elicit information from the Government. The rights of private members must be always jealously protected. After all, there are specific provisions written into our Standing Orders which give private members the right on certain days to present their own propositions and have them debated. Other opportunities are given and this is one of such opportunities.
The practice at the moment, if I am correct, is that if a question on notice is asked and it comes up for reply on a day on which the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, the senator by leave of the Senate can ask to be allowed to state the question and have the answer given from the Senate floor. On days on which the proceedings of the Senate are not broadcast the answer will be incorporated in Hansard unless the senator indicates to the President to the contrary in advance. This seems an eminently reasonable proposition and one which, with the application of the good sense of any particular senator, enables all matters of some significance to him or to the country or to the Senate to receive the maximum publicity here on the debating floor of the parliamentary chamber. I would think it would take a tremendously cogent reason to throw this practice overboard and to substitute for it what is contemplated in the motion.
After all, a question which is put on notice is not necessarily a less significant or important question than one that is asked without notice. It may be a question of a different type which requires some time to enable an answer to be prepared and delivered. But the mere passage of time does not mean that the answer has lost either its significance or importance. On the contrary, when a question is asked it may be comparatively important, but with the passage of time it may assume a new importance which makes its presentation on the floor of the chamber of even greater significance than would have been the case when it was first asked. I think, therefore, that to truncate this right is something against which the Senate should set its face.
The other proposition in Senator Bull’s amendment is that this matter should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. Normally I think that this is an eminently reasonable proposition. If I oppose it, I oppose it on grounds other than the reasonableness of the proposition. This is an important matter, and it is a particularly important matter to the nongovernment members of this chamber. Nongovernment back bench members and Government back bench members should have an opportunity to register a point of view by voting. If this matter goes back to the Standing Orders Committee, our Party, and I think Senator Turnbull as an independent, are not represented on that body. I protest here that that should be the case. If I am correctly informed, an attempt has been made to have this Party represented on the Standing Orders Committee but it has not succeeded. I think that is very much to be regretted. Therefore, we could not possibly support an amendment which would take this matter for initial discussion to a forum in which we are not represented. We should be eminently represented at the discussion of this matter. Therefore, for that reason I would have to oppose the amendment, much as I think it is the sensible way to do it.
If, in its wisdom, the Senate thought fit that the non-official Opposition, the second non-government party in the Senate and Senator Turnbull as representing the independent, should find representation on the Standing Orders Committee, I would be quite happy that this or any other similar matter should be referred to that body for consideration in a leisurely manner, taking into account all the considerations, with members being given an opportunity to make written submissions and suggestions, and then the matter could come back to this chamber for final determination. But until that is done I would oppose the amendment moved by Senator Bull and I would oppose the motion moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. Although there will be individual voting on this matter, Senator McManus would concur with me in this point of view.
– As one who makes some use of the procedure of placing questions on notice, I oppose the proposition that has been submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in his capacity as a private senator, namely:
That the Senate agrees in principle that the reply to a Question on Notice shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk. A copy thereof shall be supplied to the Senator who has asked the question and such question and reply shall be printed in Hansard.
At the outset I indicate that 1 completely agree with what my colleague Senator Kennelly said. If this sort of proposal is adopted, whereby the reply is merely printed in Hansard and the inquiring senator, and he alone, receives the reply, then obviously one will be forced to resort to asking the Dorothy Dix type of question. A private member will go to the Minister representing the Minister in another place and say: ‘Look, I intend asking this question tomorrow. Can you see that you have the information from the Minister?’
– What would have happened in the Hoffmann case if that was done?
– As Senator Poyser has said, if the Opposition had not been able to resort to placing questions on the notice paper and having replies read in the Hoffman case, the whole political effect of that case would have been lost in a backwater. Secondly, 1 object to Senator Wright’s statement that a lot of the questions that are placed on the notice paper seem to be writen by some - to use bis term - backroom propagandist.
– That applies to the Government side.
– I do not know whether it applies to the Government side. But 1 and all of my colleagues accept responsibility for our own conduct in this chamber. We certainly accept full responsibility for the questions that are placed on notice in our own names. I assure Senator Wright that private members on this side of the chamber have no backroom propagandists at their disposal. The Minister well knows that private members, compared with Ministers in this place, are at a considerable disadvantage regarding staffing arrangements.
Having said that, 1 indicate that 1 am opposed to the proposition that has been submitted by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. 1 do not suppose that I have any objection at all to the matter being referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration, as proposed by Senator Bull. But I hope that the Standing Orders Committee and this Senate will be able to give some consideration to the question of having a limit placed on the time for a Minister to reply to questions that are placed on the notice paper. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson mentioned that the situation could arise where 20 or 30 answers to questions might come into this place on the same day, and if every honourable senator desired to read his question and have the answer read by the Minister, a great deal of time would be consumed. In the situation proposed by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson I can well imagine that if we on this side of the chamber, or an Opposition at any time in the future, were not alert we could find answers to questions being held back until the last week of a session. In that situation there would be no need for the answers to be read in the Senate; they would merely be placed in Hansard and the sausage machine process by which a great number of Bills arc put through in the last part of the session would be applied to questions on notice. 1 should like to mention also that during the last sessional period 1 placed on the notice paper a question directed to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). Last week I received an answer to that question. 1 knew from the very nature of the question I had asked that a fair number of figures would be involved in the answer and, realising that the mere reading of figures and percentages would not be of very much interest to the Senate, I decided not to ask for the question to be read and allowed it to be incorporated in Hansard. Having taken the answer away and considered it, on the next day 1 asked a question based on the answer that I had received to the question on notice. Amongst other things, the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Postmaster-General in this chamber, said: 1 had a detailed answer incorporated in Hansard yesterday, but I was amazed that Senator McClelland did not ask his question again yesterday so that I could have read that answer out to the Senate. I would have thought he would have wanted the Senate to hear that information.
If this is to be the attitude of Ministers I shall insist in future that every question I ask and every answer thereto be read on every occasion. In allowing the question and answer to be incorporated in Hansard I was trying to play fair on the matter so far as time was concerned, but next day when I asked a question based on the answer I had received I found that 1 was sniped at politically. In future I shall seek permission to have every question that I place on the notice paper read to the Senate.
I certainly agree with all my colleagues who have said that they will not agree to anything being done to curtail the rights of private members in this place. If parliamentary procedure has to be modernised and updated, let us look at other time consuming matters before we make inroads on the rights of private members. For example, let us find another way of taking divisions, instead of having the present situation where the bells are rung, everyone files in and a count of heads is taken. Let us add some length of time to the hours of sitting of each day or even to the number of days; but let us make sure, whatever we do, that the rights of private members are fully protected in the interests of the Australian people.
– Mr President, may I ask you for a ruling on standing order 103. I find myself in some confusion.
– I think it would be very difficult to give a ruling at this stage. 1 am prepared to listen to the honourable senator and I shall see what I can do for him.
– The President has given a ruling.
– This matter has been raised already.
– I should like to state my bewilderment. Perhaps I am not as bright as the honourable senators who interject. Standing order 103 states:
When Notices of Questions are given, the Clerk shall place them at the commencement of the Notice Paper, according to the order in which they were delivered at the Table-
That part is fairly simple - and the Reply shall be handed to him-
I presume that is the senator who has asked the question. It continues: in writing, when given.
It does not say ‘when given to the Senate’.
– It means . however it is given. It would be given to him and the Senate simultaneously, I presume.
– I interpret standing order 103 as meaning that there is no obligation on the Minister at all.
– What about standing order 102?
– That simply relates to questions asked for an absent senator. That standing order has to be put to one side. I am seeking your guidance, Mr President. On my reading of the standing order there is no obligation on the Minister other than to hand his answer in writing through the Clerk to the senator who has asked the question. He does not have to tell the Senate about it. If I am wrong and this matter is referred to the Standing Orders Committee, will the Committee please look at standing order 103 and make the provision clear? I think it is open to different interpretations. What is your ruling, Sir?
– This is in the same category as some of the matters raised by Senator Willesee. Obviously some of the standing orders are not as clear as perhaps they ought to be, but practice comes into the question. In practice things have worked out fairly well. The standing order has never been interpreted in the way suggested by the honourable senator. I do not think the point raised by him is relevant to any discussion in the Senate tonight. I suggest to the Senate that the matter before it has been given a fair run and, if I am any judge of the temper of the Senate, I would say that honourable senators would like to see these matters considered by the Standing Orders Committee. But in the meantime I call Senator Turnbull.
– We have now been discussing this matter for H hours. I do not know whether honourable senators are frightened that the motion will be carried and, for that reason, keep on talking. I do not know whom honourable senators think they will convince. 1 know how I intend to vote and as it is a matter for a free vote I believe that everyone in this chamber knows already how he intends to vote. What is the point of continuing to argue about a matter when honourable senators already know how they intend to vote?
– How are you going to vote?
– 1 intend to vote No’ on notice of motion No. 8, ‘Yes’ on notice of motion No. 9 and ‘No’ on notice of motion No. 10. That is all that the Senate needs to know. It is my privilege to vote as I choose, and it is the Minister’s privilege to vote as he chooses. There is supposed to be a free vote, so everyone in this chamber knows already how he will vote. It is irrational to try to convince someone who will not be convinced, and it seems to me to be a complete waste of time. I agree with what Senator Byrne said in relation to Senator Bull’s amendment, but on the other hand if the matter goes to the Standing Orders Committee we will have an absolute repetition of this evening when it comes back to the Senate.
– They do not know any more than we do.
– That is right. So why not let us just sit down and vote on it?
– Move the gag.
– No, 1 do not believe in the gag.
– The business before the Senate is a resolution moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and an amendment moved by Senator Bull. That is fairly clear. I do not want to close the debate. I call Senator Murphy.
– i have listened with great care to what has been stated. 1 agree with Senator Turnbull that most honourable senators have made up their minds, and I do not think that any great purpose will be achieved by sending the matter back to the Standing Orders Committee. I do not know that the Standing Orders Committee would be in a better position to decide than we in this place are. We have all experienced the system. The purpose of sending something to a committee is to enable it to be investigated, to enable it to find out facts which are not available to honourable senators and therefore perhaps to arrive at a better determination. We all have experience in this matter, as Senator Cavanagh has said. Perhaps we differ in our opinions; I think it is probable that we do.
– You were a party to giving it an experimental trial here and to reviewing the situation later. We do not need a committee to review it.
Sentaor MURPHY- No. Now that the matter has by common consent been thrown into the Senate and there is agreement by everyone that we shall vote as we think fit without regard to Party issues, I shall avail myself of that right in the same way as every other honourable senator. I do not ask or expect anyone to vote with me on Party lines. Whether I am in the majority or the minority does not concern me. I will vote in the way I think is best for the Senate. My own feeling is that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s motion is defective as was pointed out by Senator McClelland. We all know that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is the guinea pig. He has put forward a motion so that we can have a chop at it in the general sense.
– I think they are going to eat the guinea pig.
– Yes. It is like Mr Gregory. He said today he would come over and eat a Government official. I think we might be eating one here tonight in the Senate. The motion is:
That the Senate agrees in principle that the reply to a question on notice, shall be given by delivering the same to the Clerk.
I do not see any problem about that. The next sentence is:
A copy thereof shall be supplied lo the Senator who has asked the question and such question and reply shall be printed in Hansard.
I do not think that is sufficient at all. Why should the honourable senator who asked a question be supplied with the answer and not the other honourable senators? That, is Senator McClelland’s objection and 1 think it is a valid one. When a question is asked here in the Senate the answer is given not to the honourable senator who asked it but to the Senate. The Standing Orders and the practice of this Senate inhibit another honourable senator from asking the same question because it is not a personal question. The moment a question is asked it becomes very much the property of the Senate and no other honourable senator can ask the same question. Why on earth should the answer be restricted to the 1 honourable senator? If Senator Bull’s proposition of sending this matter to the Standing Orders Committee is not carried by the Senate - and I do not agree with it because we are all here and we all ought to exercise our own views on the matter as it has been hanging around so long - let us decide for once and all what we are going to do. Let us finish with this matter.
My view is this: I would like to foreshadow an amendment and say that a copy of the reply shall be supplied at question time to all honourable senators in the Senate and the question and reply shall be printed in that day’s Hansard. If that amendment were to be carried all honourable senators would have the question and answer in their hand then and there before the Senate went on to the next business. Someone mentioned the VIP case. If this amendment were carried honourable senators would have the answer in their hand before they went on to deal with the other business of the day. I think this would meet the objection which has been raised. I think the desire for change has come about because we want more to be done in this Senate. Senator McClelland has said that we want to start cutting down on times here and there. I think we should do this on other aspects as well. But why should we go through question lime with everyone listening at great length to these questions and answers being read?
– This is not so. It does not happen. It is only a few.
– The questions and answers could be circulated to every honourable senator at question time. There would not be any question of not getting them until later. Whether 1 get a seconder or not, this is my view.
– You will not get a seconder for your amendment.
– Maybe not. Whatever happens it is a great tribute to the democracy of this place where Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and myself-
– 1 will second it or alter my amendment to accommodate it.
– That is the worst thing I have ever seen.
– He may not have helped me in this. I will express my view. 1 think it was Senator Webster who said the other day that the Leader of the Australian Labor Party had only to raise his hand and immediately everybody in the Labor Party will agree.
– That has been proved wrong.
– I said the other day that this was a fallacy. Senator Webster is getting a demonstration of this tonight. This is a very democratic Party and we put forward our own views. Even if I am in the minority 1 will insist upon my minority rights. I will put forward my views as the Leader of the Government in the Senate has. That is my view and I think it is a sensible solution to our problem. I would like to see the Senate do what I have proposed because I think we want more questions. We want more searching questions here.
– We want more answers.
- Senator Cavanagh is quite right. We want more answers in this place. Inevitably as time goes on we will get answers which will, if they are read out in length, take hours to read. I want to see more answers in this Senate. We have to adopt new procedures if we want to multiply our activities. This is what we want. Some of the conservatives in this place have to realise that if they want to take unlimited time to talk for 2 hours on some subject the number of subjects are going to be cut down. Democracy does not subsist only in speaking for a great time on a small number of subjects, but perhaps dealing with more subjects. I oppose the amendment to send the matter to the Standing Orders Committee because I think we should decide this for ourselves. If the amendment is defeated I would like to move, as I indicated, that the questions should be supplied to all honourable senators at question time and thereafter incorporated in Hansard. Subject to that amendment I would support what has been put forward by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson.
[9.37] - I am not going to add much to the debate. At least we have had an expression of view. On reflection 1 think it would be better to take a decision here. We have gone this far. We have debated this since 8 o’clock. Let us have a decision. I think it is desirable to put this to the test. I have a fair idea where the end result is going to be. I remember many years ago when I was in high school and volunteers were called for. Somebody said to me: ‘Never volunteer.’ After tonight I will never volunteer.
– Order! I think it would be correct for me to put, first, Senator Bull’s amendment which is:
That notice of motion No. 8, General Business, be referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration and report back to the Senate.
Senator Murphy has foreshadowed a further amendment. To keep the amendments in order I will take Senator Bull’s amendment first.
– If the motion to refer the matter to the Standing Orders
Committee is carried 1 would not be able to put my proposal. If it is defeated I will put mine.
– I rise to order. Was Senator Bull’s amendment seconded?
– Yes, I will second it.
– Yes, I think it was seconded. I will take that as being in order. The question before the Senate is the amendment moved by Senator Bull and seconded by Senator Cavanagh that the matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– I move:
Leave out the second sentence, insert ‘a copy of the reply shall be supplied at question time to all Senators in the Senate and the question and reply shall be printed in that day’s Hansard.
– I second that amendment.
– I take it that notice of motion No. 8 will not now be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee. We have 2 proposals before us. One is the motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that questions on notice be answered by delivering a copy of the reply to the Clerk and to the senator concerned. The second proposal seeks to make provision that a copy will be supplied to every member of the Senate because the question becomes the property of the Senate. This is simply a matter of tweedledum and tweedledee.
– 1 am prepared to withdraw the motion and accept the amendment. We can still have a vote.
– Order! Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is prepared to withdraw his motion.
– And accept the amendment.
– But I have got the door.
– Order! There will be no trios or duets when I am speaking. I want to get this cleared up. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson indicates that he is prepared to withdraw portion of his motion.
– That is right.
– I raise a point of order. Is Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson in order after the debate has been closed in withdrawing some matter that has become the property, in this instance, of the Senate? How can he do that? It is no longer his property. I do not know what rules of debate we are operating under at the moment. All I know is that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, being the original mover of the motion, closed the debate. Once he moved the motion it became the property of the Senate. It is not his property. If he wanted to withdraw the motion before he closed the debate he should have asked the permission of the Senate to do so. For those reasons I say that at this juncture he cannot withdraw the resolution because it is not his property; it is the property of the Senate.
– Order! Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has not closed the debate. I want to make that clear. I think it is probably in order for Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson to ask for leave to amend his motion. Now I ask the Senate to come to order. You are all supposed to be responsible senators. None of you can tell me that this debate is being carried on in any sort of orderly or sensible fashion. With the volume of laughter and amusement that is being got out of it I do not see how this debate is doing any credit to us. I think that Senator Cavanagh was speaking to the amendment.
– Yes. As one who never laughs I do not think I can be accused of contributing to the disorderliness of the debate. I entered this debate for the sole purpose of expressing my opposition to the amendment which I believe now will become the motion. We can readily understand why Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, following his policy of restricting the rights of senators, is willing to accept the amendment. There is very little difference between the motion and the amendment. In one case the individual Minister could get the reply either by inquiring from the questioner or waiting to read it in Hansard the next day. Under the amendment he can have the reply circulated to him although in most cases he is not interested in it anyhow. However, because it is the property of the Senate he will get a reply. This will mean a further accumulation of paper to fill up the rubbish bins and increase the work of the staff. It will perhaps increase the activities of the pulp industry. 1 suppose it has value to some extent.
Coming back to the basis on which we originally argued this question, we must face the fact that members ask the questions for a variety of reasons. Some want to elicit information. Some want to extract propanganda or political value from the question. When I mentioned this previously Senator Branson mentioned by way of interjection that 90 per cent of questions were asked for these reasons. The questioner, as the custodian of his own question, knows where he can get the best results, according to the purpose for which he asks the question. The Standing Orders Committee unanimously agreed to an experimental period during which those who wanted to ask questions could inform the Clerk of the Senate and be allowed to do so. Those who did not insist on this would simply have the question incorporated in Hansard. 1 challenge anyone to say that since that system came into operation there has been any undue time taken up in replies to questions on notice.
In this session of the Parliament the time spent on questions without notice has lasted for more than an hour on occasions, while there have been very few questions on notice. There has been no question of curtailing the time of the Senate. But this is just a sort of initiation of the process of curtailing the rights and freedom of members of the Senate. This particular issue does not matter greatly, but this is the start of the process of restriction which we find so many people ready to accept. I had certain rights when I come into this Senate and I am not prepared willingly to leave the Senate without leaving all those rights intact for the person who follows me. Senator Turnbull is striving valiantly to interject. I know I cannot convince him because he has been so long in the cut and thrust of politics and has for so long determined his own policy that he is unconcerned about principles, rights and justice, believing that the only proper principles, rights and justice are those of Senator Turnbull.
Let me repeat what 1 have said previously. Suppose a senator asks a question of a Minister and the Minister decides that it has to be referred to another department. When the reply is available the member may wish the people in the gallery to hear it. In that case he has a perfect right to have it read. If it is not read at the time the only people who will know about it are those who read Hansard the next day. It has been said, of course, that if the national newspaper, the ‘Australian’, is prepared to highlight a question and answer, then it will be brought to the notice of the public.
– If the amendment is agreed to the answer will be distributed to senators at question time.
– -I know what the Leader of the Opposition in this place is saying. Of course the senator who asked the question will know the reply. Everyone who reads the newspapers the next day will know the reply - that is if the newspaper deems it of sufficient interest to be published.
– The amendment is that the question and answer shall be distributed to all senators at question time.
– I understand what you are saying. Every senator, if he is interested, will know the reply. Everyone who reads the newspaper the next day knows the reply - if the newspaper considers it of sufficient interest to publish it. The Press in Australia publishes very few questions on notice and answers. It publishes mostly questions from certain individuals.
– And mostly questions and answers from the House of Representatives.
Sentaor CAVANAGH- Mostly questions and answers from the House of Representatives. It also publishes them in States that the member of Parliament concerned does not represent. For instance, I can get an answer to a question of mine published in New South Wales and Victoria, but I cannot get it published in South Australia. So, the poor people of Adelaide will never know the talent of the people they have representing them here, unless they read Hansard.
– Or the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
– Or the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. But the fact is that they do not read that newspaper and the circulation of Hansard in South Australia is so insignificant that there could well be some people in that State who lack knowledge of the talent of the people they have representing them in this chamber. If there is an opportunity to broadcast an answer or if there is an opportunity for a visitor from South Australia in the gallery to convey the information back to that State, I should have the right to ask the question and have the reply read out.
Another point is that we receive very few answers to questions without notice in this chamber. It has been suggested that that is because we have only 5 Ministers in this chamber and there are 26 portfolios.
– That is not the reason. It is the deficiencies of Ministers. We used to receive pretty good answers.
– We receive very few replies, whatever the reason is. In my generosity, I am prepared to say that it is because we have only 5 Ministers in this chamber and there are 26 portfolios. I am not critical of a Minister who cannot reply to a question relating to the portfolio of a Minister whom he is representing.
– You ought to be. The Ministers used to do it very well.
– Senator Murphy’s argument is with the Minister; it is not with me. On this question I am trying to put the facts as we face them. I think Senator Cotton would admit that he does not know all the answers. From Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin we receive the same answer to every question she is asked. She has a stock answer to every question, and that is all we get. If the question goes outside that ambit, it has to be put on the notice paper. That happened today to a question dealing with her own portfolio. Is it good enough for honourable senators to tolerate the conditions that exist? I humbly submit that senators have a certain right at the present time and that they should not forgo that right for the proposal before us; that is, that a printed reply be circulated.
Thai the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
– I present the First Report of the Publications Committee. Copies of the report have been distributed to honourable senators. Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to raise a matter that has been brought to my attention today. I believe it should be looked at closely by the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. If the information that has been given to me is found to be correct, I suggest quite strongly that the licence of at least 1 of the commercial television stations operating in Sydney should be taken away from the present licensee. On 18 September 1963 a report was presented to the PostmasterGeneral by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on applications for the licence of the third commercial television station in Sydney. A number of applicants applied for the licence, the successful applicant being United Telecasters Sydney Ltd. The Board said in its report to the Postmaster-General:
In a supplementary statement presented after the closing date for receipt of applications, the company presented further views on its programme policy, in which it was again asserted that the interests and welfare of the public and those of the shareholders are not incompatible, but must be regarded in that order, and gave further evidence of the manner in which this result should, in ils view, be secured. The following is an extract from the supplementary statement - lt is, of course, an obvious fact that the greater part of programming for a commercial television station must be of a nature designed to attract wide audience support. The company feels however that there is at present too much reliance on syndicated film programmes produced to a more or less stereotyped pattern and, in the main, reflecting foreign outlook. The conviction is held that a real and persistent effort should be made to bring a fresh, original and Australian approach to all types of entertainment programming.
Honourable senators will recall that about 18 months or 2 years ago Channel 10 in Sydney was having difficulty in meeting its Australian programme content requirement as laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. About November 1968 1 raised in the Senate the difficulties then being experienced by Channel 10 in meeting its requirements in accordance with the Board’s standards. At that stage Channel 10 was given by the Board a dispensation from the Board’s standards. In the Board’s last annual report to the Parliament is stated that as from February 1969 that station and a number of other stations mentioned in the report had televised the required Australian content in their programmes.
About 2 months ago a variety show employing each week about 50 or 60 Australians, shown in prime viewing time, was taken off by Channel 10 and replaced by a boxing programme. The boxing programme employs a couple of pugilists and a referee, while the variety programme it replaced employed each week between 50 and 60 Australians. Nonetheless, the boxing programme qualifies for Australian content percentage because, to all intents and purposes, it is an Australian show. Quite obviously Channel 10 was running into difficulties again. In April of this year a public relations firm was commissioned by the station to conduct an investigation into ways and means by which the station’s appeal could be built up. I understand that a fee of thousands of dollars was paid by the station for the survey that was conducted. The firm conducting the survey said, among other things:
From this examination wc conclude that in terms of night time viewing Channel 10 reaches 1 family in 5 effectively. The converse of this observation is, of course, 4 families in every 5 are not now reached as a result of what product and product image Channel 10 has so far promoted . . . Two examples of mass appeal versus segmented appeal come immediately to mind. These are the Sydney newspaper market and the Sydney radio market Both of these markets are, in fact, more sophisticated in their understanding of their audience than any current television station in this Group’s opinion. The reason for this view is that essentially today’s Australian television tends to be related to a scramble for successful overseas programme and movie packages. Very little orientation to local market exists mainly because the 3 other Sydney channels are firmly linked into national network affiliations. The pre-requisite of this positioning reduces emphasis on local content and provokes a network thinking philosophy. While the objective of Channel 10 long term must be to form strong network affiliations, the current potential growth of 10 appeal’s to us to very much depend upon a better understanding of the requirements of the parochial Sydney market . . . We note, too, that while Channel 10 has the greatest human talent resource of any Sydney channel, these talents appear not to be receiving sufficient personal publicity or - possibly as a result of this - die ratings are below their previous experience on other channels. We note from your own programme records a movie resource of some 3,000 titles which have been played and repeated since this station began S years ago. We note, too, that your highest rating at night is a repeat night. We note also that Channel 7 has one of its highest rating nights also a repeat night, lt is our belief that a channel with a rating average of 20 has a non-viewing rating average of 80. The conclusion we must draw from these facts is that you have a greater programme resource than you might imagine. We draw your attention to the rating of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman’ in the most recent Anderson Analysis. This was a repeat night performance.
Obviously some consideration was being given to a number of repeat performances of the shows that would be produced by Channel 10. I compared that type of report with the original statement submitted by the applicant in its original application to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the issue of a licence.
The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of Saturday 29th August carried an article about the share value of United Telecasters Sydney Ltd which operates Channel 10. lt was in these terms:
Shares in United Telecasters Sydney Ltd, operator of Channel Ten. slumped from 57c to 40c during trading on the Sydney share market yesterday.
The shares had been selling at between 58c and 60c for most of this month and closed at 59c on Thursday.
The Chairman of United Telecasters, Mr K. O. Humphreys, said last night he could give no reason for yesterday’s plunge in the price. “The channel has been performing in accordance with forecasts. 1 have no explanation why the market is moving this way’, he said.
The July issue of ‘Time’ contained an article headed TV Channel for Hire’. It set out certain equipment, studio facilities, video tape and things of that nature which are available for hire from TV Channel 10. The channel has been looking at the recommendation of the public relations firm regarding repeat performances. The information afforded me today is that an arrangement has now been entered into between Channel 10 and Channel 9 whereby all new overseas productions that have been acquired by Channel 10 will now be handed over to Channel 9, and the reruns of Channel 9 - the repeats that Channel 9 normally would put on - will now be transferred to Channel 10. Apparently Channel 10 will be using only repeat programmes. 1 am also given to understand that under the arrangement all Channel 9 news programmes will go through Channel 10.
If this kind of situation is permitted, assuming that my information is correct, a great number of employment opportunities for many Australians will be in jeopardy. If the proposed arrangement with Channel 10 in Sydney is allowed to be implemented, I think it is fair to assume that the same arrangement could be extended to Channel 0 in Melbourne because, by virtue of network arrangements, Channel 0 will be forced to adopt the same policy. Surely the dangers in a situation like this are obvious to all honourable senators. Why should the already closely knit hand of monopoly over the mass media of this country be further tightened? If the information afforded me is correct, it appears that in future Channel 10 in Sydney will become merely a replay station for Channel 9.
– A repeater.
– A repeater or a repeat performance station. Because this is of vital importance to the Australian people, particularly those living in the metropolitan area of Sydney and those who are engaged professionally in the Australian television industry, I urge the Minister to investigate the situation closely and as a matter of urgency to see whether the information which has been accorded me is correct, and to refer the matter to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for further investigation. If it is found that my information is correct, the Government should immediately cancel the licence of the licensee of Channel 10 and reissue it to people who have the interests of this great nation at heart.
I would not have raised this matter tonight but for the fact that the Parliament will be adjourning for 10 days. I would have liked to have been able to check more thoroughly the information that was given to me but, because I believe the matter is of great national importance, and bearing in mind the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act and the standards laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, I felt that I had a responsibility to my Party and to the people of Sydney to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister in the Parliament tonight.
[10.15] - I have listened very intently to Senator McClelland’s comments and have noted his desire to know whether the information that has been given to him is correct. He asked also that I take up the matter with the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) and seek information from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board concerning what has been told to him. If the information is correct, he would like to know how the people who are professionally involved in this area will be affected. I think those were the main points that he raised.
– And also, if the information is found to be correct, whether the existing licence should be cancelled.
– That is right. I shall place all of those matters before the Postmaster-General and endeavour to get some information for the honourable senator. If it comes to hand before we meet again I shall advise him of it. If not, I shall ensure that the information is given to him when I receive it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.17 p.m. to Tuesday, 15 September, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700903_senate_27_s45/>.