27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a recent statement on the health hazards of cigarette smoking made by Professor Nossal, Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research? The statement is signed also by four of Professor Nossal’s senior research colleagues. In view of the statement, will the Minister reconsider his refusal to ban cigarette advertising and to have cigarette packets labelled with health warnings? If he will not have these things done, will he name for the Senate the people who supply him with contrary advice and who presumably are of greater eminence and authority than 5 scientists of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute?
– I have seen reports of a statement by Professor Nossal and other very eminent persons associated with him in the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. I think it should be borne in mind that what those gentlemen say in the areas connecting cigarette smoking and health hazards has the greatest importance and significance. I trust that their statements receive the widest possible publicity. I think it is important that people who are prepared to engage in cigarette smoking should recognise the risks to their health which are involved. However, I do not recognise - those risks having been stated and made known - that the gentleman who made the statement referred to by the honourable senator have any greater ability than have others in the community to determine what are appropriate measures to be taken. I have stated before, and I think the evidence well justifies my view, that in those countries where a ban has been placed on cigarette advertising, and in other ways, limitations placed upon the advertising of cigarettes, there has been no noticeable decrease in cigarette smoking. In fact, in some cases there has been an increase notwithstanding the measures which have been taken. I have also said before, and I repeat it now, that this is an area which has many complex features attached to it. I am seeking as much information as I can obtain on the subject, and I will continue to do so.
– In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior I hope that he will pardon me for prefacing it. Two pleasure ferries were grounded by aquatic weed growth in Lake Burley Griffin yesterday. The control of this weed now exercised in Australia - it is only partially successful - is costing about $2m. Will the Minister request his colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to consider and decide on the following questions? Will he invite Dr Prowse, Professor of Fish Culture at Malacca, Malaysia, a recognised world authority on aquatic weed-eating fish, to visit Australia for the purpose of informing Australians in general, and officers of the fisheries section of the Department of Primary Industry and State Departments of Wildlife and Fisheries in particular, of the breeding and eating habits of aquatic weedeating fish commonly known as Chinese carp? Will he send one or two officers of the fishing section of his Department to meet Dr Prowse in order to obtain all available information on the habits, both breeding and eating, of Chinese carp? Will the Minister for Primary Industry as Chairman of the Australian Fisheries Council, a Commonwealth and States body, seek approval of that body for the importation of a small number of Chinese carp in order that their habits, both eating and breeding, can be tested under Australian conditions?
– I note this question with considerable interest because I am conscious of the fact that the honourable senator has a lot of experience with this problem at Albert Park Lake in Melbourne. I acknowledge his continuing interest. I think that what he has suggested is well worthy of consideration. I note his calculation of the total cost to Australia of $2m. Many of us who are familiar with the northern parts of New South Wales know the problem of water hyacinths in some of the rivers and lakes. The suggestion that Dr Prowse might visit Australia or that somebody might go and see him seems to me to be worthy of consideration. 1 shall certainly direct that question in its entirety to the responsible Minister.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister tor Shipping and Transport aware that the 300-mile unsealed section of Highway No. 1 between Ceduna and South Australia and the Western Australian border has been impassable for the last 2 days due to rain and is now only passable with extreme caution? As this is a most important national highway with a high volume of vehicular movement, most of which comes from States other than South Australia, will the Minister give consideration to the Commonwealth Government assisting in the sealing of this 300-mile section, the only unsealed part of Highway No. 1 which extends from Cairns to some 700 miles north of Perth?
– Amongst the researches conducted in my office yesterday and today we noted the impassable nature of that unsealed portion of the Eyre highway. We sought some information on this matter which I now give to the honourable senator and to the Senate. It is understood that following heavy rain in South Australia the Eyre Highway was reported to be impassable for 24 hours. This is reported in the ‘Advertiser’ of 27th April. The same report stated that the Prince’s Highway was flooded at Verdun. Over the years representations have been made to the Federal Government to seal the Eyre Highway but the fact is that this stretch is primarily the responsibility of the South Australian Government. The Commonwealth recognises the inability of the States to finance all road works from their own resources and provides considerable assistance under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1969. These grants comprise approximately one-third of all the money spent on roads. Under the current Act South Australia received an increase of SO per cent over the previous Act. For the period 1969-1974 South Australia will receive $13.6m for rural arterial roads. In addition, a $9m supplementary grant has been provided which may be spent on the Eyre Highway. My colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, informs me that it is his belief that the Eyre Highway as part of a national highway system is important and that the unsealed portion of it should be sealed as soon as possible. Of course he will continue to look at ways of trying to achieve this aim.
– When does the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior expect to be able to give a clear cut statement on the boundaries of the proposed Northern Territory Top End National Park considering the fact that 1 have been waiting many weeks for an answer and, meantime, mining depredations continue to intrude on the proposed area?
– At the moment I do not know but I shall seek to find out.
– J ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: What factors are delaying a decision on the request by the Premier of Victoria for assistance by the Commonwealth to those pear growers in the Goulburn Valley of Victoria who were in a financial plight when the Premier originally wrote to the Commonwealth? Is the Commonwealth still considering a suggestion that the excessive fruit may well be preserved and given to people less well fed than we in Australia are? Does the Minister know of any present impediment to this latter suggestion?
– 1 inform the honourable senator that the submission from the Premier of Victoria was sent to the Prime Minister on 16th March. At the present time the Government is studying the submission, and further than that I have nothing to say.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Parliament of all steps taken by the Government to trace the Australian journalist Francis James? Were inquiries made in all countries visited by Mr James prior to his disappearance?
That question would come under the portfolio of foreign affairs. It may be that Senator Wright can say something.
– I can assure the honourable senator that inquiries are continuing, but there is no relevant information to be slated at the present time.
– My attention has been drawn to the article in today’s Canberra Times’ which is headed ‘Academics criticise Pakistan “genocide” ‘. That article contains a protest as to the activities in East Pakistan. It is true that the names appended to the article include undergraduates, senior and other academics. I always take as my guide to the proper limits of intellectual discipline the statement in the Murray Committee report. I believe that great harm can be done to the prestige of academics if there is a pretension on the part of academics to pontificate on subjects which are not within their realm of expertise. I noticed the contents of the article, and so far I have no information from the Department of Foreign Affairs which agrees with the statement in the article. Therefore I am unable to speculate with regard to the source of the information, whether it is a newspaper or otherwise. I only wish to add that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has stated recently in this Parliament that we very much regret the circumstances that are occurring in East Pakistan but, of course, we take the view that it is a matter for the internal government of that country.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that the Minister informed Senator Wriedt yesterday that the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal -was set up to deal with disputes over pay and general conditions of work which I presume are covered by the terms ‘industrial matters’ and ‘industrial questions’ as denned in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, I ask the Minister the following questions: Does any aspect of the present dispute between Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots cover any matter associated with the safety of aircraft operations? If the present dispute is only over industrial matters and general conditions of employment, why has the dispute not been referred to the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal, which was established for the specific purpose of mediating in such disputes? If the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation was empowered to mediate in disputes which affect the safety of aircraft operations, why was the tribunal established in the first place? Under what section of the legislation is the Director-General empowered to mediate in matters which have to do with general conditions of employment?
– The . honourable senator has asked quite a long question. I think it was divided into 4 parts. First of all, the aspects of the present discussion - discussion’ is a better word than ‘dispute’ - that is taking place between the board and management of Qantas Airways Ltd and its employees in a technical aircrew sense are more properly dealt with at this stage in the present fashion. The present area is not one which would encompass the general activities of the Flight
Crew Officers Tribunal. The honourable senator asked what powers the DirectorGeneral has to mediate in disputes. The situation is a simple one. It is this: There have been attempts, and proper ones, by the board and management of Qantas to turn a potential loss situation into a profit situation, which has involved them in looking at the dismissal of some of their technical aircrew. In that process there have been prospects threatened of a national airlines strike. I took it upon myself to ask the Director-General to act as the chairman in a discussion between both parties in order to resolve this problem in the common interests of both parties and the people of Australia. I think that this was the proper course of action for me, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Government to adopt at that point of time.
– -My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: Is it a fact, as reported in the Press, that the discussions to which the Minister has just referred between Qantas Airways Ltd, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and, in some cases, the Minister himself are progressing satisfactorily? If this is the position, is there any reason why an incidental matter - the so-called redundancy and retrenchment of some 40 flight engineers, many of whom were recruited recently and are now being trained in special schools - should not at this instance be immediately revoked?
– I did not quite get at the purport of the honourable senator’s question, but I would like to give the honourable senator information that I believe his question sought to obtain. The Flight Engineers Association is a separate professional organisation within the area of the airline industry. From time to time it has association with the pilots and other people, but it is an association in its own right and I believe that it is quite proper that it should be treated as such. I have seen representatives of the Flight Engineers Association on several occasions in the past. I am always happy to see them. They came along last night and had a long talk with me about how this matter affects them. It seemed to me to be sensible that the talks should continue. I arranged for the Director-General to report to me this morning. He did this. He had a talk to them with me and a talk to them on his own. We are doing what we can to help them in their relationship with their employers in the same sense as we are helping the pilots, in both cases in the interest of the general public. I am reminded that there was some reference to safety in an earlier question asked by Senator Georges. I cannot see how the safety aspect comes into these discussions at the present point of time, although safety is a factor which is always very high in our thoughts. If there are prospects of the aircraft of Qantas being grounded, it would seem to me that safety would have a lower priority in my discussions than keeping the aircraft flying.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs. I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that on 2nd November 1970, I asked the following question of the Minister who then represented the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs:
To safeguard the industries of Australian Aboriginals from increasing competition from cheap overseas-produced imitation bark paintings, boomerangs and other traditional Aboriginal products and to assist the Aboriginals in retaining and building their markets, both domestic and overseas, for such products, which represent their culture, will the Minister request the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs to investigate the possibility of taking action to legislate to license the manufacture and sale of any such products and to secure the widest possible patent and design rights for Australian Aboriginals?
I have since drawn the matter to the Minister’s attention by way of correspondence. I now ask: Has the matter been considered by the Minister and has any action been taken or will any be taken in relation to it?
– Representing as I do the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, I have no knowledge of the matters which are currently awaiting hh attention. In particular, I am not aware whether the question which the honourable senator asked last November, when I did not have this responsibility, remains unanswered. I have noted his question and I shall endeavour to obtain as speedily as I can an answer for him.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted that a United States presidential commission yesterday recommended that the People’s Republic of China be admitted to the United Nations? Did the Commission say that the admission of that government might be awkward and discordant but that there was more hope for peace in its interaction in the organisation than in its continued isolation from the United Nations and the United States? In view of those statements, will the Leader of the Government tell the Senate whether the Australian Government has under active consideration the recognition of the People’s Republic by Australia and also whether it will vote for the admission of the People’s Republic to the United Nations? If it does not have the matters under active consideration already, will it commence such active consideration in view of the report of the presidential commission?
– 1 recall that last week the Senate, as a consequence of the moving of a motion of urgency, debated the subject of continental China. All the aspects of the subject were canvassed by the speakers in the debate. Now, because of some report of an American presidential commission, Senator Murphy wants to continue the argument. The subject was debated for the allotted time last week and members of the Opposition took the opportunity to put their points of view. I have nothing to add to what took place in the debate last week when Government senators presented the Government’s point of view.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that many farmers on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, and no doubt in other areas, are in financial difficulties and at present are unable to obtain credit for the purchase of their superphosphate requirements for this season? As seeding operations for this year’s crop are about to commence and as it is impossible to grow a wheat crop without using superphosphate, can the Minister say how long it will be before the rural reconstruction Bill will be introduced and what assistance can be given to these people in the meantime?
– The honourable senator’s question serves only to show the seriousness of the position in the wheat/ sheep and sheep areas of this country. It points out the need for the rural reconstruction project to come into force so that debt reconstruction may take place. I point out to the honourable senator that 6 States are involved in this scheme and that they all have now accepted the formal agreement. It has been stated, time and time again, that funds are available to the States under the Commonwealth Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act. They are able to use these and the Commonwealth would like them to use them before they get other Commonwealth funds. I understand that in South Australia legislation has passed through the State Parliament amending the old Farmers’ Debt Adjustment Act making it possible for the South Australian Government to use this money from this moment on. The matter of finance for superphosphate was brought up at a recent meeting of State Ministers for Agriculture. At that conference the West Australian Minister made the point that the same problem is facing farmers in Western Australia and that the Government of Western Australia has made money available to them by taking a lien over the incoming crop. Perhaps South Australia could follow suit in this regard.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to a report in today’s Press that 3 former American Army officers had told an unofficial Congressional hearing that their commanding general in Vietnam knowingly had approved of an artillery bombardment aimed at an enemy hospital. Is the Minister aware that one officer told the hearing that the senior command of the American Army breached the Geneva Convention in the artillery incident indicated? Would he agree that this further evidence of the dehumanising nature of this war, which even now is breaching one of the most respected clauses in the Geneva Convention-
– Order! The honourable senator will ask his question.
– Is it not imperative for Australia to salvage something of our international reputation by withdrawing immediately all our troops and thus dissociating ourselves from complicity in this type of warfare?
The honourable senator has posed a question built around a Press report. To use his own words, he talks about an unofficial report.
– An unofficial Congressional hearing.
Well, an unofficial Congressional hearing. If that is the basis for our foreign policy, heaven help Australia. The fact is that he is projecting into a Press report - which I, at any rate, have not seen - his own views and is trying to frame a question along those lines. In those circumstances it is not an appropriate question to be asked at question time.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence whether his attention has been drawn to a current news article in which it is suggested that Russia is developing a fortress type of island in the Indian Ocean in conjunction with the fleet it apparently has established in that ocean. Can the Minister confirm that this is so and advise the Parliament of his knowledge of the matter? Is the Australian Government greatly concerned at this development of Russian power in an ocean which touches Australian shores?
– Again, in fairness to the previous questioner, this is a question based on a Press report. The honourable senator asks me to <postulate Government policy on the basis of something read in the newspapers. For the same reason I gave in reply to Senator O’Byrne, I am unable to make any comment.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise me now, or can he have a statement pre pared, on the progress made in response to the Prime Minister’s austerity appeal to the nation to cut costs? Can he advise us, or can he seek information, about Government expenditure in grants to the States and other Government bodies since that appeal? I also ask him to include, in any statement he may make, known or proposed increases in doctors’ and dentists’ fees, hospital costs and private school fees, and increases by State bodies including the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board in Sydney whose rates, it is suggested, are to go up by 40 per cent in Sydney and Wollongong? What benefits to the ordinary citizen of Australia have resulted from the appeal by the Prime Minister? Would it be true to say that inflation has increased further since that appeal?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer. I am sure that the depth of the question and all its implications will involve tremendous research in order to provide an answer. All I can say is that I will undertake to refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer. It is a question that canvasses projected or possible increases in rates, etc. In fact it canvasses almost every conceivable thing. I will leave it to the Treasury to see what sort of an answer the honourable senator can be given.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science aware that for some time in 1970 the University of Queensland, on a head count, was the largest university in Australia? Despite that fact, for a long time it has been the university with the lowest financial provision per student in Australia. Could the Minister explain the reason for this anomalous position?
– If that be the fact, it has escaped my notice. I shall draw it to the attention of the Department of Education and Science and ask for a comment.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Is it a fact that each member of the Senate and each member of the House of Representatives, when they first sat in the Parliament at Canberra, planted a tree in the vicinity of the present Canadian High Commission? If so, have some of those trees been cut down; on whose instructions were they cut down; and for what purpose were they cut down? Are the trees at present standing marked with the names of the senators or members who planted them? If not, will the Minister take steps to preserve the trees now standing and have them so marked? Also, will the Minister have trees planted to replace those that were cut down and have them marked appropriately?
-It would be a pity, I am quite sure and I think everybody would agree with Senator Cant, if such a singular thing as a tree planted by each member of the Senate and House of Representatives, when they first sat in the national capital, were not kept in existence. One would only make the reservation that some of the trees might have, as trees do, reached their normal life span. But I will certainly make inquiries about this matter, direct the attention of the Minister for the Interior to it and see what can be done either to stop this happening or to have some commemorative plaque or notice put in the position that would have been occupied by the trees planted by the members and senators when they first sat here.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration say what differences there are between the Government’s present policy on immigration and that of Mr Daly, the shadow Minister of the Australian Labor Party, taking into account the differing views expressed by Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party?
– 1 have always understood that the policy adopted by the Government and the Australian Labor Party with regard to immigration is essentially a bipartisan policy. As I have always understood it, the policy of the Government and of the Australian Labor Party has been directed to the preservation of a homogeneous community and the avoidance of those problems which have caused difficulties in other countries. I think it would be a tragedy if that bipartisan approach were departed from. Insofar as the latter part of the honourable senator’s question suggests that a different approach is adopted by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, let me say that 1 also have read Press statements. I hope that in the interests of the Australian nation the Australian Labor Party will do what it can to preserve the bipartisan approach which is essential in the nation’s interests.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. Is it true that, although the Government has refused to make public the range of the Fill fighter-bomber, information was displayed publicly on a notice board at the Fairbairn Royal Australian Air Force base during the visit of United States Fills that it is 3,150 miles with full bomb load? ls that consistent with the expected range of the FI 1 1Cs Australia has ordered? Is it a fact, as has been widely canvassed, that we could have saved $25m on the Fill deal by waiting until the aircraft had been developed instead of meeting the full extent of the relative proportion of the research and development costs by ordering the aircraft on the drawing board 8 years ago - an order yet to be fulfilled? Is it not a reasonable proposition that, though relatively small in the total situation, $25m is a figure which Australia can ill afford to lose, especially when it was committed as a result of a political gimmick on the eve of an election 8 years ago, for equipment which has not yet passed the standard necessary for acceptability?
– I think the honourable senator has his facts mixed up quite considerably. The Royal Australian Air Force had a requirement for a strike aircraft and, after carrying out an evaluation of the aircraft available at that time, a decision was made to buy 24 Fills.
– The decision was made within 2 days.
– The decision could not possibly be made in 2 days. A long and detailed study was made of the aircraft available throughout the world at that time. On all brochures relating to aircraft performance standards are stated. Any person who attends an air show will see this information giving details of what the manufacturers believe the aircraft will do. From my knowledge no aircraft that has yet been built has lived up to every single standard of performance indicated in the brochure published by the manufacturer. All I can say to the honourable senator is that the Fill still more than meets the RAAF requirements so far as range is concerned.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation advise the Senate whether the policy of the Government to reduce the migrant intake into Australia is one of the factors associated with the reduction of travellers on aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Ltd? Are foreign shipping companies still carrying to Australia under our assisted passages scheme large numbers of migrants who could be transferred to our own airline?
– It is correct that the reduction in the migration programme would have some effect - I cannot give precise figures - on the declining revenue situation of Qantas Airways Ltd as it is viewed ahead. I understand that there was a conscious decision, taken some time ago, to bring most migrants out by air on Qantas aircraft and by Qantas taking up wet charters with other airlines. I cannot say what the future situation will be with regard to the air transport of migrants by air and by ship. I shall certainly make inquiries about this and, in my own selfish interest as Minister for Civil Aviation, see what I can do to improve the situation.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that the Australian Government was planning to confiscate the Australian passport of Australian journalist Francis James and that the Government planned this course of action after Francis James departed from Australia? Can the Minister advise whether the passport was in fact confiscated?
– No facts such as those suggested by the honourable senator are in existence to my knowledge.
– In addressing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs I point out to him that the ‘Sunday Review’ of 25th April reported Vice-Premier Ky of South Vietnam as saying that his country was like a sinking ship, that the Laos invasion had been a. farce, and that a political solution should be sought to end the war. Will the Minister check the truth of that report? If he finds it to be accurate, will the Government accept the opinion of this prominent ally and supporter of Australia’s official policy in Vietnam and assist in finding a political solution by withdrawing our troops from South Vietnam forthwith?
– Order! I point out to honourable senators that a number of questions have been based on newspaper articles. It must be clearly understood that the Minister will not be checking as requested by Senator Georges. Senator Georges, you should have checked the report before you asked your question. The responsibility for the accuracy or otherwise of a report lies with the questioner.
– If I may have leave, I would like to say that in answer to 2 previous questions the Minister indicated that he had a very low opinion of Press reports. In order to ask my question I, therefore, had to seek that he ascertain the truth of the report to which I referred. Otherwise 1 would not have made that request. As far as I am concerned, the report is soundly based.
– Senator Georges is obviously a tiger for punishment.
– As Senator Georges has drawn the report to my attention it will be examined. However, it would be completely imprudent of me to offer any solution on the hypothesis that what Senator Georges has put forward has any basis in fact.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs: What form of condolence was extended to the Yugoslav Government by the Commonwealth Government following the assassination of the Yugoslav ambassador to Sweden by Croatian terrorists, in view of the late ambassador’s association with senior Australian Cabinet Ministers during the signing of the Yugoslav Immigration Agreement?
– I am pleased to be able to tell the honourable senator that on 21st April the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs instructed the Australian Embassy in Belgrade to pass the following message from him to the Yugoslav Foreign Minister:
I should like to convey my sincere condolences on the tragic death of Ambassador Rolovic in Stockholm. Please extend my sympathy to his family on behalf of those many Australians to whom he was well known and respected.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that the United States Central Intelligence Agency had approached Australian journalist Francis James to act as agent during his overseas tour? Was the approach made with the knowledge or at the instigation of the Australian Government?
– The answer to that question is no, but I shall refer it for comment.
– I direct another question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether the former Prime Minister or the Government generally was aware that there was a possibility that Australian journalist Francis James would infiltrate the United States Central Intelligence Agency to satisfy his own curiosity? Was the Australian Government then responsible for leaking that information so that Green Beret methods would be used to eliminate Francis James, or alternatively, was the information supplied to agents of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or the United States Central Intelligence Agency in the People’s Republic of China in order to ensure that Francis James would be detained indefinitely in that country?
– It is with some reluctance that I take notice of the ques tion. I ask that any reference to the Governor-General be ordered not to be printed as part of the question.
– I did not say anything about the Governor-General.
– With regard to the other part of the question, it is a spurious figment of the imagination.
– I said: ‘The Government generally’. May I have that point of order noted?
– Yes .
– The other part of the question is of such a spurious nature that it is hardly worth attention but I shall submit it for comment.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In the present crisis in primary industries will the Minister review the rentals paid by soldier settlers on land valuations at the time of settlement far in excess of present day valuations and, where justified, reduce rents by making provision for repayments over longer periods? Will the Minister state the position of soldier settlers who are being compelled under loan agreements to insure all plant and buildings on the allotment including fixtures such as water tanks which are not easily destroyed?
– I might like to get on the bandwagon with Senator Cavanagh because this is a matter which comes under State jurisdiction. Although the Commonwealth made the initial funds available to the States for war service settlers the rent is collected by the States. They take from the rent the various expenses and meet the interest payments fixed by the Commonwealth. This matter is one for the Government of South Australia.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform the Parliament of details of factual evidence that Francis James, the Australian journalist, was detained or is still being detained by the People’s Republic of China? What action would be taken by the Government if the Australian ping pong team which is at present visiting China were refused permission to leave the country at the termination of its visit?
– The latter part of the question is purely hypothetical and does not call for any answer. In reply to the first part of the question, I have told the Senate that the Department of Foreign Affairs has sustained inquiries up to the present time as to the fate of Francis James. I have nothing to report.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I find the incessant questioning of the Minister by Senator Keeffe tedious. I ask: Is it not a fact that Francis James is staying with friends?
– I shall take shelter under the shadows of both wings of that ambiguity and say possibly.
(Question No. 979)
asked the Minister for
Air, upon notice:
What is the total amount spent to date on repairs to Royal Australian Air Force Phantom fighterbombers on lease from the United States of America.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The amount spent to date is$A1,081 on minor repairs. Other repairs are in course of progress, but, as stated in an earlier reply to Senator Keeffe I will not be in a position to inform the Parliament of the amount involved until repairs to the aircraft are completed.
(Question No. 1020)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
What was the production of Kangaroo meat and skins in 1970 and in the first quarter of 1971.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Details of the production of kangaroo meat and kangaroo skins are not available. However, exports have been as follows:
Kangaroo meat- 1969-70 1,710,498 lb, value $236,165; July 1970 to February 1971 441,973 lb, value $62,224.
Kangaroo skins- 1969-70 835,279 skins, value $1,567,753; July 1970 to February 1971 627,900 skins, value $1,345,953.
(Question No. 1035)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 1063)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The payasyouearn system of taxation which applies to individual taxpayers is designed to ensure as far as practicable that income lax is collected in the same year as that in which the income is derived. This result is achieved by tax deductions at the source from salary or wages and by the imposition of provisional tax on other classes of income where such other income aggregates more than $400. Provisional tax is an integral part of the payasyouearn taxing system and its retention is essential if equity is to be maintained between taxpayers deriving different kinds of income. For this reason, the provisional tax system is not regarded in itself as causing hardship.
(Question No. 925)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
What form of government have the inhabitants of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago of the British Indian Ocean Territory.
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The British Indian Ocean Territory (of which the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago is part) was established by a British OrderinCouncil on 8th November 1965, which provided for the appointment of a Commissioner who is responsible for the administration of the Territory and who resides at Port Victoria in the Seychelles. Before that date the islands in the Chagos Archipelago were administered by the Government of Mauritius. The law in force prior to 8th November 1965 remains in force except where it has been modified by laws made under British OrdersinCouncil.
The islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory are all owned by the British Crown and there is no resident population on any of them. The inhabitants are transients who consist mainly of labourers employed on contract.
(Question No. 1021)
asked the Minister for Supply upon notice:
What was the ratio between miles travelled by Commonwealth cars from the Sydney car pool and private hire cars on charter to the Department of Supply and operating from metropolitan Sydney pick-up points for the last six months of 1970 and the first quarter of 1971?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1027)
asked the Minister for
Air, upon notice:
Are the ‘high-ranking services representatives’ from overseas, who are coming to Australia to take part in the RAAF 50th Anniversary celebrations, coming at Commonwealth expense; if so, what is the anticipated cost and which department will be responsible for meeting the cost.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In November 1970 invitations were forwarded by my Department to Chiefs of Air Staff of a number of countries for them and their wives to be guests of the RAAF during the celebrations connected with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the RAAF. The invitation was extended to a representative should a Chief of the Air Staff be unable to attend.
The invitation covered a period of up to 6 days. The cost of hotel accommodation and transport while in Australia, estimated at $3,900 is at the expense of my Department. The cost of travel to and from Australia is the responsibility of the Governments of the countries concerned.
(Question No. 1029)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 1039)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Did an American overseer of a properly in the Northern Territory, in a television programme entitled ‘Whicker’s Walkabout’ which appeared on Australian Broadcasting Commission Television recently state that he would shoot any aborigine, without fear of punishment, who was found on a United States acquired property in the Northern Territory; if so, will the PostmasterGeneral insist on a withdrawal of the offensive remarks and ensure that no similar attitudes are expressed in the future in television programmes.
– The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the programme referred to, the American Manager of an Americanowned’ station spoke of the aborigines employed on the station, and said that he expected no trouble from them concerning his daughters, because, he implied, the aborigines would be shot, without the likelihood of intervention by police.
The programme was one of the ‘Whicker’s Walkabout’ series, which was not produced by the ABC, but by Yorkshire Television Ltd, and shown widely in the United Kingdom. The series was passed by the Commonwealth Film Censor for television showing. It was purchased by the ABC because of Alan Whicker’s high international reputation as a television reporter, and because the ABC felt that Australians should have the opportunity of knowing what was said about their country in a series being shown overseas.
– On 1st April 1971, Senator McManus asked me the following question:
Is it a fact, as stated in the Financial Review’ of 25th March, that the Post Office is considering cuts in the discount handling of registered papers and periodicals which in 1969-70 amounted to 150 million articles? Furthermore, is a statement in the same newspaper that the senior management of the Australian Post Office has recommended that the service of discount handling of registered papers and periodicals be discontinued correct? Is it correct, as further stated in the article, that the PostmasterGeneral has recommended this action to the Government?
The PostmasterGeneral has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
Registered newspapers and periodicals, which still pay as little as onesixth of normal printed matter postage rates, incur the Postal Service in a $7m loss. Last year 7,600 publications posted 158 million copies.
In the course of recent meetings between postal management and various organisations which were affected by last year’s postage rate increases, this continuing loss has been discussed, including possible ways of reducing it. Among these possibilities was the cessation of further registrations of publications into Categories A and B. Existing registered publications would not be affected. There are other possibilities also and the discussions are continuing. No recommendations have yet been formulated.
– On 1st April. Senator Cavanagh asked me the following question:
I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs in relation to the 23 fellowships offered under the Colombo Plan for the training of personnel in Australian companies of the metal trades export group. What wages and/or allowances will be paid to those who undergo training and who will make such payments?
I said I would get those details for the honourable senator at the earliest opportunity. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer:
Provision has been made in Colombo Plan training appropriations for 1970-71 for 25 fellowships for the nominees of governments of the developing countries participating in the Colombo Plan to train with Australian companies associated with the Australian Metal Trades Export Group. Under these arrangements the company offering training undertakes to pay the trainee the normal Colombo Plan living allowance of $2,140 per annum and to take out maximum hospital and medical benefits cover for the trainee plus accident insurance covering any injury suffered on the job. The cost of normal Colombo Plan clothing and establishment allowances on arrival in Australia are met by the Commonwealth from Colombo Plan training funds. The Government is also responsible for overseas air fares to and from Australia and the provision of preliminary English tuition when necessary.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That Senator Murphy be appointed to the House Committee to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Ormonde.
– by leave - I wish to move 2 motions relating to the business of the Senate. One relates to the Estimates committees and the other relates to the hours of sitting of the Senate. I am hopeful that the Senate will co-operate with me on both proposals. Therefore, I do not suppose it matters which one I take first. Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to move the first motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
I wish to give briefly the reason for moving this motion: The resolution which the Senate agreed to in relation to the Estimates committees provides that they shall report to the Senate by 29th April, which is tomorrow. This would in turn involve the Committee of the Whole in the process of dealing with Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and Appropriation Bill (No. 4). Only supplementary Estimates are involved. In the 18 years I have been a member of this chamber we have always dealt with the supplementary Estimates almost by a straight resolution as they have come from the other place. The supplementary Estimates are to meet the excess expenditure which will be incurred in the balance of this financial year.
It is with great reluctance that I have moved this motion. I realise it involves a controversial subject and I am not walking away from that fact. However, the position is that if the Senate does not resolve that the Estimates committees to which I have referred can meet today and tomorrow during the sitting of the Senate they will be obliged to come back tomorrow and report to the Senate that they have not concluded their examination in the time which has been available to them and the Senate will have to go through the exercise of making up its mind whether to open up the discussion of the Estimates in the same way it has done in the past. I want to avoid that if possible. I am sure that nobody else wants to follow this practice. Therefore, I have taken this extreme measure. I recognise it is an extreme measure. I do not want it to be regarded as in any way setting a precedent to be followed when the Senate is dealing with the Estimates in the Budget session. As only supplementary Estimates are involved, I have moved that the Estimates committees to which I have referred be given leave to sit today and tomorrow to clear up any outstanding matters. Two of the Committees have completed their work. Committees A, B and D have work to do. In certain circumstances the Senate has allowed committees to sit while the Senate is sitting. A fortnight or 3 weeks ago it allowed the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange to sit for practically a week while the Senate was sitting.
– You established a dangerous precedent.
– That is why I said atthe start that I did not want this to be regarded as a precedent. I am not suggesting for one moment that this should be regarded as a precedent. The alternative would be for the
Committees to report to the Senate. They are doing good work. 1 think that in the time allotted to them they could finish their work and report back and when they report to the Senate, the Senate, as a body, will have a better opportunity to examine their work than if permission for them to sit were not granted. Perhaps I could foreshadow something that may have some related significance. I bad in mind to move the re-arrangement of business so that the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill could be debated. I know that many honourable senators want to speak on the Bill. Senator Murphy has indicated that already. I want to get on with it. The other place is prognosticating that it will rise on 7th May. We will need a very tight programme if we are to stay as close to it as we can. Finally, the Department of the Treasury asked originally that the supplementary Estimates be passed by 29th April. Because of misadventure, we set the date for report by the Estimates Committees as 29th April. I am under tremendous pressure from Commonwealth Treasury officials to get the Appropriation Bills passed. That is the justification for the unusual procedure that I am adopting.
– I have consulted my colleagues on this matter. Our attitude is that we will oppose this motion. We do not consider the justification advanced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) is sufficient reason to adopt what he has agreed is an unprecedented course and one which should not be followed as a precedent if it is adopted on this occasion There are strong reasons which actuate us. They are that the proceedings of the Senate as a whole, whether in Committee or in the Senate, should not be broken down and eroded by having committees sitting at the same time. While there was an emergency in the case of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange a week or so ago, which was explained to the Senate, that course should not be adopted in relation to matters of a financial nature which are dealt with twice a year. We welcome the assurance by the Leader of the Government that such a course would be unthinkable when the normal annual Estimates are debated in the second half of the year.
The Senate should consider the fact that the suggested course is virtually being forced upon the Senate, in the words of the Minister, by the requirements of Treasury. We should not accept this. These financial matters can be worked out well in advance. They should be brought to this Parliament in ample time for consideration to be given to them. There appears to be some doubt as to whether Treasury wanted the Estimates passed by 27th or 29th April. If Treasury wanted them by 27th April, that was yesterday.
– No, that is not so. I had to allow time for them to be dealt with here.
– Whatever the position is, the Parliament is being put under pressure to give insufficient consideration to these matters. We should not accept the proposition that we have to rush through the consideration of Estimates or any other financial matters in order to suit the requirements of those who are presenting them to us. Instead we ought to insist that they present them to us in sufficient time to enable us to have proper and full consideration. They ought not to require us to adopt emergency methods in order to deal with them.
We are not now considering that other matter of importance which no doubt shortly will be brought before us, that is the Senate’s sitting times, but the background of what no doubt is in mind aggravates the position. We of the Opposition feel that the same old processes are going on, that there is a hold up of the legislative material, including this financial material. During the early part of a sitting virtually nothing is put before the Houses of the Parliament but at the end it is all rushed in. The old joke is played by the Executive because it knows that if legislation is pushed through in the last week or so insufficient time will be available for proper consideration. I am not blaming the Leader of the Government in the Senate for this because no doubt it would happen to us if we were in office. This tactic is
Used in order to ensure that the Parliament cannot give proper consideration to its own functioning. Whether the delay is ascribed to a shortage of draftsmen or to all sorts of other things, the same tactic is used in every Parliament in the world by those who try to have legislation pushed through without proper consideration. My Party will not accept this proposition. If it is adopted by the Senate it will be adopted without our concurrence. We will oppose it.
– I wish to add my remarks to those of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) against the simultaneous sitting of the Senate and the Estimates Committees. lt is true that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) indicated that this is not to be taken as a precedent. But in fact it is a precedent, a very dangerous one that I think will be repeated many times in the future when the Government puts itself in a position similar to that which it is in at present, ft desires to close up shop in a week’s time although there is at least 3 to 5 weeks work ahead of both Houses of the Parliament.
The situation is that if this motion is adopted we will be dividing the sitting of the Senate into 2 or 3 parts. The Estimates Committees are discussing legislative matters. They are not discussing something referred to them along the lines of a reference to a standing committee or to a select committee. The Estimates Committees are discussing things that will come back to this chamber. We were given an undertaking previously ‘by the Leader of the Government that there would be no restriction in this chamber when the Senate sat as a Committee of the Whole. It is quite obvious, if these Bills must be passed by this House tomorrow, that again this undertaking will be repudiated. If honourable senators on both sides of the House wish to pursue their right of discussion of the Estimates in the Committee of the Whole, there is only one way by which those Bills can be passed through this chamber and that is to do what was done in the Budget session last year, apply the gag on senators who wish to question the Government on matters related to the Estimates.
This would be too dangerous a precedent to be even considered by any honourable senator. It would mean the beginning of the end for either one of two parts of the Senate; it would mean the end of the Estimates Committees or the end of the authority of the Senate. I am not referring at this stage to the standing and select committees. It would be a most dangerous precedent which we should never consider establishing in any circumstances, even taking into account the undertaking given that this is not to be taken as a precedent. The precedent was established a fortnight ago when, in certain circumstances, the Senate allowed a standing committee to sit-
– A select committee.
– The precedent was established a fortnight ago when, in certain circumstances, the Senate allowed a select committee to sit while this chamber was in session. On that occasion we considered the matter to be so important that we gave permission without opposition. Now, within a matter of days in terms of the sitting days of the Senate, we find a similar motion in relation to estimates committees coming before the Senate.
We are creating a situation in which this happens every time the Government gets itself into a jam through its own inability to provide the business to keep the Senate going for the number of weeks we come to Canberra. In order to get the Government out of a hole once more and so that it can conclude its business on a certain date decided by it as being the date by which it wants to get out of the Parliament or out of Canberra, it decides not to give the Senate the opportunity to examine matters that are very important to it. The prestige of the Senate has been lifted very high over recent years - not because a certain party has become represented but because it is a House which is now debating matters seriously and is not operated on the old system of being purely a rubber stamp in relation to legislation. We are now in a situation in which this chamber could revert to that position very quickly and easily.
As I said earlier in my remarks, we will face a situation in which we will have one
Senate sitting and three or four small Senates sitting in small rooms at the bottom of this building where access is not easy, members of the public are not aware that such meetings are open to them to attend and the members of the committees are not interested in attending. At 8 o’clock last night I heard that a quorum could not bc obtained to commence the sitting of one of the estimates committees. That was indicated quite clearly over the internal sound system which we have here and by means of which we can listen to the proceedings of a committee that is sitting in this chamber. The interest of senators is flagging in this regard. We should be in the position that the estimates of expenditure are considered to the utmost extent in this chamber and not in small rooms where two or more committees may be sitting and honourable senators have not the opportunity to attend. 1 oppose the motion as being a dangerous precedent and as taking genuine business from this chamber into rooms that are inaccessible to the public, i believe that the precedent is too dangerous for the Senate to contemplate.
– I desire to add a few words on this motion, mainly in order to have it recorded that, consistent with my previous policy, I again oppose the intrusion upon and the taking away of the rights of senators to open debate in this chamber and object to the fact that about a quarter of the number of senators are not being able to be in the chamber because they have responsibilities on committees. Since I became a member of the Senate I have seen from time to time this attempt to take away some of the rights of senators and to impose some restriction on their speaking time or on debating time by cutting down here and cutting down there. On every occasion I have opposed this restriction of the rights of senators.
We members of the Labor Party opposed the establishment of estimates committees, although we are great supporters of standing committees. I opposed the establishment of estimates committees for the very reason that I could visualise that it would take the consideration of the finances of the country outside the open Senate into rooms behind closed doors. We were told that that was not so because, although the committees were limited to 8 members each, it was the right of every senator to attend. Now we find that the committees are to be asked to meet on an occasion on which every senator cannot attend because the Senate cannot function if every senator exercises his right and attends committee meetings. It will be seen that those who framed the Standing Orders of the Senate guarded keenly the rights of this chamber. They laid down in the Standing Orders that a committee of the Senate could not meet without the approval of the Senate, other than in exceptional circumstances. The Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange applied for permission to meet during a sitting of the Senate on a question of national importance which was receiving wide publicity. The Chairman of that Committee said that it was not to be taken as a precedent and explained that certain witnesses who had come a long way had not completed their evidence. On another occasion leave was given for some Western Australian members of the Committee to take evidence in Perth as it would be inconvenient for the matter to be heard here.
– On two earlier occasions the Senate gave leave for the Public Works Committee to take evidence somewhere.
– Yes, we have agreed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works meeting during a sitting of the Senate because some travel arrangements were involved. From private conversations with Government supporters I have found opposition to the proposal that the Securities and Exchange Committee should be allowed to meet during a sitting of the Senate. It was suggested that by allowing this course we were establishing a dangerous precedent. Because we permitted that Committee to meet in exceptional circumstances, which gave it more justification for meeting at that time than the Estimates Committees have had for meeting during a sitting of the Senate, a precedent has been established. Now it is proposed that 2 committees shall meet during a sitting of the Senate, thus taking from this debating chamber a quarter of its membership. It is proposed that those senators shall carry out their duties in some small rooms in this building. We are told that by allowing this we will not create a precedent.
On a previous occasion we were told by the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Committee that it would not establish a precedent, and we hoped that that would be so, but we have found that it is being taken as a precedent. Although it may not be the intention to create a precedent, once the Senate permits something to be done the precedent is established. We are now reaching the position where we will see in future a number of committees meeting at times when their members should be in this chamber discussing the affairs of the country. We were told today by the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that if this motion is carried the important subject of law and order will be dealt with here while the committees are meeting, yet a quarter of the members of the chamber will be excluded from participating in what the Leader of the Government describes as an important item to come before this chamber. We are establishing a dangerous precedent. If we accept this proposal we will be eroding the rights of members of the Senate. I suggest that on no account should we permit this motion to go through without protest. Consequently, I lend my voice to the protest against the proposal.
– Mr Deputy President-
– We could have got the Appropriation Bill through while we are discussing this.
– Anything would be good enough for the members of hillbilly corner. It is my understanding that the Parliament determined that its proceedings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate should be broadcast to the nation in order that the nation might be informed of the performance of members and senators. Part of the function of the Senate is to examine the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure of the Government. Wednesday is the one day of the week when the proceedings of the Senate are broadcast, but by setting up some committees the Government has moved the discussion of the Estimates into back rooms, off the air, where members of the public are not informed of the proceedings of the Parliament. That is my first objection to committees meeting during the time that the Senate is sitting.
When dealing with the Estimates Committees I do not know whether we should regard them in the same light as standing committees or select committees. I find that standing order 39 states that the Senate may give leave to a standing committee to sit during the sittings of the Senate. Earlier in this sessional period we gave the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange permission to sit during a time when the Senate was sitting, but we did that for an express purpose involving a dispute within the stock exchanges of Australia with regard to a registered company named Leopold Minerals Ltd. It did not occur to me at that time that the Securities and Exchange Committee would continue to meet while the Senate was sitting to examine other aspects of the stock exchanges of Australia. I understood that we were giving permission for the Committee to sit during a situation of emergency with respect to Leopold. An examination of the Standing Orders with respect to select committees leaves me with the impression that we are in breach of the Standing Orders by giving the Securities and Exchange Committee the right to sit during a period when the Senate is sitting. Standing order 301, which is in the chapter dealing with select committees, states:
All Committees sitting at the lime the President is about to take the Chair shad be informed thereof by the Usher of the Black Rod; all proceedings after such notice shall be null and void.
I agree that the Senate is its own master, but there is no provision within the Standing Orders which gives it the right to give leave to a select committee to sit during the time that the Senate is sitting. When the Select Committee on Securities and Exchange asked for leave to sit because of an emergency while the Senate was sitting, the proper procedure would have been to adjourn the Senate to allow the Committee to sit and to examine its witnesses. When framing the Standing Orders the founding fathers could envisage situations of this kind developing and endeavoured to protect the Senate, the rights of senators and the people who are bound by decisions of the Senate. It is my opinion that we cannot give leave for a select committee to sit during a sitting of the Senate but, as I say,
I do not know whether the Estimates Committees are regarded as standing committees or select committees, which are the only 2 classes of committee dealt with in the Standing Orders.
It is important that the Senate should distinguish between an estimates committee and a select committee. A select committee is one which operates under terms of reference to make an inquiry within those terms of reference. An estimates committee is a legislative committee whose function is to examine legislation proposed by the Government, lt is important that legislation which is put on the statute books should be examined by the Committee of the Whole. During a meeting the other night of the Estimates Committee upon which I serve as a member, I wanted to ask some questions with respect to a department but on a matter not dealt with in the supplementary Estimates, but I was told that I would have to ask those questions in the Committee of the Whole. We are running out of time. We have been informed today by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that the reports of the Estimates Committees are to be in the hands of the Senate by 29th April. If the programme of the Government is adhered to, we have 1 week in which to examine all the legislation coming before us and at the same time have the Committee of the Whole consider the supplementary Estimates. That programme seems to me to be impossible to achieve. As happened with the Estimates during the last Budget session, consideration of the supplementary Estimates will go down the drain.
I also point out to honourable senators that examination of the supplementary Estimates by the Estimates Committees is somewhat inhibited and lengthened when explanatory notes are not available. The Committee upon which I sit has met twice to consider the supplementary Estimates. The Department of the Interior, the department with the most widely spread activities, did not have explanatory notes available in respect of its estimates until yesterday morning, when I went and asked for them. It seems to me that the Government wants to have Estimates Committees - which are running out of time - but does not want to assist them to do their work by making available the appropriate information in time for it to be used in proper form by members of the Committees. I oppose the motion.
– 1 and my colleagues support the Government’s proposal. We do so because of the special circumstances outlined by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). As a general practice I would not countenance the sitting of committees while the Senate is sitting, but I recognise the necessity to complete the work of certain committees so that the Appropriation Bills may be submitted to the Senate. That is an essential consideration. We have heard a lot of poppycock on this question from members of the Australian Labor Party. Let us be fair dinkum in our approach to these questions. I know very well, as you do, Mr Acting President, that frequently when the Senate is sitting not more than 2 members of the ALP are in their places in the chamber. Repeatedly the Senate chamber has been emptied because of special meetings of the ALP Caucus. ALP senators have left the chamber to attend meetings of their Party. Let them deny that. Yet they say that the Senate cannot go on because meetings of Estimates Committees are to be held in special circumstances.
Much has been said and repeated about precedent. Precedents are created every day and 1 am not opposed to that. There is an old saying that strong men create precedents and weak men follow them. There is a good deal to be said for that. Let us be big enough to face an issue involving special circumstances. We are approaching the end of this session. We are hearing a lot of humbug about a rush by the Government. The Government is just as eager to conclude this session as anybody else is, so let us be honest with ourselves and with the people when dealing with this issue.
– I probably would not have entered this debate had I not just heard the waffling of Senator Gair. It is not of much use for him as Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to complain that members of the Opposition are not present in the chamber. On numerous occasions no member of the DLP is occupying the small group of cross benches allotted to it. But that is not the real reason why 1 entered, the debate. The real reason is that a few weeks ago the Senate allowed a select committee to sit while the Senate was sitting. We believed at that time that the matter was important enough to warrant the establishment of a precedent, but we did not know at that time that the . Government would seize on that instance as an excuse to allow 2 Houses of the Senate to sit at once.
– Three Houses.
– That is so. That procedure might be permissible if the proper facilities were available. I have continually complained about the lack of proper facilities with ready access to Committee members if required for debates in the Senate. The Government’s approach in this matter is nothing but a sham. It seeks to close down the Parliament as soon as possible because it is embarrassed by sitting here. It is also embarrassed by the fact that the House of Representatives is sitting while there is dissension within the Government parties. -That dissension, is the. main reason why the Government, has come forward with this scheme for 2 Estimates Committees to sit while the Senate is sitting. It is not because it wants to dispose of business efficiently or for any other reason than that it simply wants to get the Appropriation Bills out of the way. If such urgency was really warranted the Government could have saved time by avoiding the fortnight’s brawl it had at the beginning of the session white deciding who would be Prime Minister. At that time the Government should have been getting down to deal with the business of the Parliament. There is no reason why the Senate or the other House cannot sit-
– Who will be your Minister for Immigration?
– I suggest that the Leader of the DLP would not be even Minister for Toilets.
– Order! Senator, I do not think there is any need for remarks like that to be made. There is no need for them at all. I do not want to see the Senate getting into a position in which senators will use that sort of language.
- Mr President, I suggest that the remarks coming from . the 11668/71^-14*1 corner over there are ten times worse than anything I have said.
– If you would direct your remarks to me and not to Senator Gair you would do much better.
– I am directing my remarks to you, Sir. I suggest that if we are to continue rushing our jobs we will not do them properly. I have sat as a temporary member of an Estimates Committee. It is obvious that if the Estimates Committees are to work effectively a lot remains to be done. The Committees must make recommendations to the Senate, and the Senate must properly debate those recommendations. The Committees cannot sit properly while the Senate is sitting. Important Bills are coming before us. The Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill 1971, listed second on .’ the notice paper, is one of the most important measures to be debated in the Senate since I have been here. T would like a reasonably full attendance for that debate, or at least senators should be readily available while it is debated. I would like honourable senators to be able to participate in. both the debate and the vote on : that measure. That would not be possible- while the Estimates Committees were sitting in places not easily accessible, meeting almost in secret, so to speak. I support my colleagues in their opposition to the Government’s motion. The Government’s argument is nothing but a sham and an attempt to close down the Parliament. The Opposition will have no part of it.
– Anderson - 1 do not want to attempt to close the debate before Senator Kennelly speaks, but I would like the Senate to come to a vote fairly soon on this matter because we have other things to do.
– You may be rushing to close this place in a fortnight, but after that r will not be here.
- Senator Anderson, are you agreeable -
– I defer to Senator Kennelly.
– I regret that the Government has moved the motion before- the Senate. We commenced this session on 16th February. .
Had matters of urgency not been raised, firstly, by the Opposition and. secondly by the Australian Democratic Labor Party I do not know what we would have done at that time. No legislation was placed before us. We are about to debate a Bill which some of us believe to be unnecessary, the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill 1971. This Bill, commonly known as the law and order Bill, will need to.be debated extensively. God forbid that some of my friends in the corner whom I have known in the past should rush to support the law and order Bill. Their whole being and ancestry will not want them to rush and support it. I nearly cry when I think of it. As if we have not already had enough of law and order. The ancestors of my friends in the corner and my own ancestors hated the thought of the law and order which was being dished out to them.
It is an important Bill on which I want to spend some time. Why should we divide the Senate? It is true that there was never any thought that sensible people would say that a quarter of the Senate should be doing work elsewhere: Mr President, as you know I never wanted these Estimate Committees established. I wanted the time to be taken up here. I believe that everything ought to be done here. But the majority of honourable senators decided otherwise. Because of the numbers attending I do not know whether the committee system is a success. Now we are going to take a quarter of the membership of this chamber and let those honourable senators deal with other affairs when the Government wants legislation rushed through. If the Government does not want to think of anyone else I ask it to think of me. I would like another week in the Senate. After the first week in May 7 would be quite prepared to come here as long as I am not kept here on Saturday because I guarantee that I shall not be here on Saturday. Is there any need for all this rush today? We have plenty of time afterwards to keep going. From what I read the Senate will not meet again until 16th August. The Government says that unless the work of the committees is finished by tomorrow and a report is presented matters will be placed in an awkward position. But in the past I have been in many awkward positions. The numbers can always rectify awkward positions as far as this Senate or any other house of assembly is concerned.
I regret the action taken by my friends. I would like to see them in their true spirit of fighting in opposition. They know as well as I do that this’ is not the way to carry on the work of this chamber. I ask them even now to have a second thought on the matter. What will it matter if we have to sit an extra week? Do not divide the Senate. Do not take the numbers away. This morning I ascertained in a party room that legislation is pouring in. I admit that we could not receive it as early as we would like. We have been sitting since 16th February and surely to goodness in the last week we are not going to rush legislation through. Why must we have this situation? I admit it is not easy because when we consider the legislation we have passed to date there must be more to come. We have sat since 16th February and we are fast getting into May. If the Government wants to have legislation turned out like sausages out of a machine and to take upon itself the whole administration of Australia it can forget the legislative enactments of the States:
I ask the Government not to go on with this proposal. Let us carry on in the way we ought to carry on. If the Government wants the committees to sit it will have to find time when they can meet. They should not meet while the Senate is sitting. I hear that the Government wants the Senate to sit on Friday. Am I correct?
– I cannot anticipate the debate.
– Let us forget about this Friday. Let the committees sit on Friday and if the Government wants to sit extra days next week and the week after I am certain speaking for myself that co-operation will be given. Do not split the House as is proposed. I hope the resolution will be defeated.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (4.40) - in reply - I do not want to speak at length in the debate. I put the proposal as I saw it. Honourable senators have reacted and points of view have been expressed. I think the most effective way to decide the matter is to put it to a vote. I have responsibilities as Leader of the Government in the Senate.I think honourable senators understand that. I am going to move a subsequent motion in terms of sitting hours. Senator Kennelly can respond to that. But the fact is that I am not suggesting that we are going to finish at the same time as the other place finishes. To the contrary, I think that the time may well extend beyond that date. But I want, as I think other honourable senators want, to try to stay as close to that time as possible within reason and without prejudice to the conduct of this place.
Question put: .
That the motion (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s) be agreed to. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Ayes … . . . . 25
Noes … ‘ ‘. . ‘. . 22
Majority . . . . 3
Question resolved in the affirmative.
(5.45) -I indicate at this stage that Estimates Committees A and D will sit in rooms L17 and L58 respectively for the remainder of today and that Committee B will sit in room L1 7 tomorrow. I ask for leave to propose a motion in relation to the times of the sitting of the Senate.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
Apart from the proposed sittings on Fridays, the only variation is that, in order to gain time for the Senate, we propose, following our usual practice around the end of a session, to commence earlier, to sit a little longer before the suspension for dinner in the evening and to continue until 1 1 p.m. on certain days. It is true that it is proposed to sit on Friday of this week and the following week. It is also true that when we come back next Tuesday the proposal is that we commence our sittings at 11 a.m. My original intention, as I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) - and I am informed the information was circulated to members of the Opposition Party in their conclave - was to sit on Monday of next week. However, I have been informed that thereare many good reasons why we should not sit on Monday next. In one State that day is a public holiday.I think it is fair enough that we should not sit on that day because it would be most inconvenient for all honourable senators. In any event, I feel that to sit for 5 days of next week would be just too much. Even I, who have obtained a reputation apparently for being a pretty hard driver in terms of time, would find a 5day week pretty difficult.
– We oppose the proposition put forward by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). Our reason for opposing the proposal is that the extension of sitting times would not be necessary but for the Government’s practice of holding back legislation until the end of a period of sitting and then pushing it through in a great bundle and saying: You must sit extra hours; you must sit extra days; you must get yourself into a state of exhaustion.’ Then all of the business before the Senate must be pushed through without proper time for consideration. Honourable senators will recall how the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was dealt with. The Minister in charge of the Bill, Senator Wright, gagged it. through from the middle of the night until 7 o’clock in the morning. On that occasion it was said that this course had to be followed because we could not sit the following day as somebody would be away. That is not the way that important legislation ought to be dealt with.
The Opposition take’s the view that if it cooperates by supporting at the end of each session the sort of proposal now put forward by the Leader of the Government it is only facilitating the Government’s action. We say that whatever the proper hours and the proper days of sitting should be, they should be instituted from the beginning and we should sit those days and those hours. Legislation ought to be brought on in an orderly fashion. What excuse, is there for about 20 or 30 Bills being introduced at this time in the House of Representatives? The Government has been dawdling with these measures . for weeks and weeks and consequently they have not been brought into the Senate for discussion. Instead the proceedings in this chamber have been stretched out, the Government practically begging for some business to deal with. Much the same has taken place in the other House, and now legislation is being gagged through in that place. The Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill was gagged through without proper consideration.
The Parliamentary Draftsmen are suddenly galvanised into action. Although they could not produce anything for months and months, suddenly 20 Bills are produced in 2 or 3 days. We do not accept the position that those Bills were not available previously. We know that they were available and they could have been presented to the Parliament. They could have been introduced into this chamber so that there would have been a chance to consider them properly. Now they cannot be given that consideration.. This is simply a part of the process which enables this bad practice to be carried on. Our attitude is that if we must sit for some more weeks, let us stay here for some more weeks. Let us dispose of the legislation in the way that we should. We. are a deliberative assembly. We should act like a deliberative assembly. For those reasons we oppose the proposition put forward, by the Leader of the Government.
– As the Leader >of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has pointed out, we oppose the times of sitting detailed in the proposal put forward by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). Firstly, over the years certain times have been, set down in this Parliament as a result’ of very long standing practice. These times have been found to be the best for the parties and for the proper consideration of Bills. Although it is very easy to talk on Bills, the most important thing in any advocacy, whether it be that of a school teacher, a lawyer or an advocate in any other’ walk of life, is not the delivery but the preparation. What is happening is that we are now getting a sort of inverse situation. When only one or two minor Bills have to be considered, we find that we have all the time in the world so that our party committees can look at them, seek evidence or information from interested people or those with skilled knowledge outside the Parliament, and have plenty of time to talk to these people and obtain their advice. But when we have this rush of legislation on the important Bills, as I say, quite, an inverse situation applies and quite insufficient time is available.
The proposal put forward by the Leader of the Government shows a complete disregard for the practices of the Labor Party. It is proposed that the Senate sit next Tuesday morning. I am sure that it is well known to everybody in the Parliament that on each Tuesday morning the Labor Party conducts its first parliamentary meeting of the week. Our Executive meets to examine the Bills that were introduced in the previous week, our committees have some chance to look at these Bills, and our shadow Ministers make recommendations to the Executive. We usually meet from half -past 10 - sometimes it is 10 o’clock if we have a lot on the agenda - until 1 o’clock or even later to formulate recommendations to make to our general caucus either to support Bills, as we do in most cases, or, if we oppose them, to decide what amendments will be moved. The Government has shown a complete disregard to the position of those Opposition senators who are members of the Executive of my Party. They have to make up their minds as to whether they will be present at a meeting of the Executive or in the chamber. I suggest that a meeting of the Executive is just as important to the legislative programme of the Parliament as is a sitting of the Senate. The Opposition should be given an opportunity to examine each proposal which is put up by the Government. By not giving the Opposition this opportunity the Government is making a bit of a mockery of democracy.
It is well known that the practice is being followed of delaying the introduction of legislation until the end of a session and then fixing a date by which it has to be considered by the Parliament. The date, set on this occasion is an artificial one. The Senate is apparently to adjourn on 6th May until 17th August. There is nothing magical about setting the date of 6th May instead of 13th May. I am sure that the general public will want to know why the Parliament will not take the opportunity of dealing in that period with the very important legislation which is on the noticepaper.
– What about the committees?
– The committees are subordinate to the Parliament itself! I submit that the committees would not be hamstrung if one or two weeks were set aside during the period of time between May and August for the Parliament to debate the important legislation which is on the notice paper. The committees would still have plenty of time in which to sit. Most of the committees of the Parliament are Senate committees. If a little more thought had been given to this matter earlier it would have been quite easy, as Senator Young well knows, to have lifted the Senate for a week early in the session and to have had a week of committee sit tings. As Senator Kennelly pointed out in the previous debate, there was nothing very important for the Senate to deal with early in the session. In fact, we were almost twiddling our thumbs for quite a period of time.
I notice that worker’s compensation legislation has been introduced in the other place. I do not suppose that there -would be anything more fundamental to the interests of most people in Australia, particularly the working class, than worker’s compensation. The Australian Labor Party has over a period of years been working on revising the worker’s compensation legislation. My Party has a particular interest in this subject as it fought in the early stages for the introduction of legislation of this nature. The present legislation in Australia is in a state of tremendous disarray. We are miles behind the Western countries of the world in our compensation legislation. The Government has indicated that it may be prepared to accept some of the amendments which the Australian Labor Party will propose to the worker’s compensation legislation that was recently introduced in the other place. It would appear that this legislation is now going, to be forced through the Senate in the dying stages of this session. This is only one example.
It was said yesterday at a meeting of the Executive of my Party, that there were something like 18 or 19 Bills still to be debated in the other place. These Bills will then have to be introduced in the Senate. As I have already said, it suits the Establishment to hold up the introduction of Bills in the Parliament. I believe that if a strong Minister were to say to his Department prior to the beginning of a session: ‘I want to introduce that Bill in the Parliament when it meets’ he would be in a position to do so when the Parliament met. Surely a Minister would know what sort of legislation his Department would need to carry out the legislative programme of the Government? I believe that a Minister should say to his Department: ‘I want you to have this legislation here in the first few weeks of the session so that I can have a look at it before introducing it in the Parliament and obtaining the view of the Parliament on it’. An opportunity should be given to the Opposition to put forward its views on the legislation and, if necessary, to seek to amend it. I repeat that it suits the Establishment and Ministers for the Parliament not to have time in which to properly examine legislation. It also suits the civil servants because they do not have to worry about being instructed to redraft legislation.
The Government is trying to foretell what is going to happen. We got ourselves in a flap a couple of weeks ago and were going to sit ali hours of the night to discuss certain legislation, but we finished by getting up at about half-past nine. One cannot foretell exactly how things are going to be handled. There is no reason in the world why this sort of rush should occur. Let us have a look at the proposed programme of sitting. If it is accepted it will mean that honourable senators will have to commence, work at well before 9 o’clock each morning’. I do not know how honourable senators will be able to prepare their material “unless they start before this hour. The only.’ morning the .Senate will not be sitting is on the Wednesday, which is when everybody has to attend his party meeting. The Australian Labor Party has an Executive meeting- and a Party meeting on Wednesday morning. These meetings generally start about 9 o’clock in the morning.
– They are usually pretty rough, are they not?
– No, not lately; not since we got rid of some people. The Party room has been a very orderly and much more progressive place since then. Honourable senators will be required to be in attendance in this chamber from 10 o’clock on most mornings until 11 o’clock at night, which is not a bad spread of hours. In addition, honourable senators will have their committee meetings to attend. By committee meetings I mean the intra-party meetings that are held as well as the caucus meetings. It is obvious that, if there is going to be a rush of legislation, more of these meetings will have to be held because more business has to be dealt with. It is a very unwise step to force through legislation at the end of a session. I think it brings the Parliament into contempt because nobody could be reasonably expected to sit in this chamber over a spread of 14 or IS hours and still intelligently discuss legislation at a late hour in the night. We know also that the standards which have been laid down are only the minimum standards. As Senator Murphy pointed out, a very important piece of legislation was gagged through this chamber last year at 7 o’clock in the morning. Do not let us kid ourselves - none of us has shown any extra intelligence. Some people might doubt the amount we started off with, but that intelligence certainly is not improved by sitting through until 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, or 7 o’clock in the morning. It is unwise to do so. It is not conducive to good legislation. It certainly does not enhance the Parliament in the eyes of the intelligent people in the community who examine’ the hours of sitting.
– 1 wish also to oppose the proposal which has been submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). I do not oppose the extension of a quarter of an hour from a quarter to 6 until 6 o’clock or the other minor adjustments, but I do oppose the giving of facilities to the Government to rush through this Parliament the number of Bills it is hoping to deal with in one short week. I have examined today’s House of Representatives notice paper and found that there are still’ 28 . Bills on it. These Bills will have to pass “through the Senate within - if we do. not sit any longer than the House of Representatives; - trie next week if the full legislative programme is to be carried out. There are only 3 Bills on the notice pape of the Senate for consideration. One of those Bills is at the Committee stage. The debate on the motion for the second reading of that Bill has been completed and all that is left is its consideration in Committee. Only , 2 other Bills are on the notice paper. However, the document which I have in front of me indicates that, if the normal processes of the legislative programme are carried out, 28 Bills will be introduced in the next few days. I am told that more Bills are to be introduced in the other place, too.
– Five more.
– That makes a total of 33 Bills which have to be dealt with in a little over a week. In’ addition to that there is the fact that under General Business on the notice paper of the Senate alone are 32 items which should be discussed. It is obvious that the matters which are on the notice paper under General Business - private members’ Bills, ministerial statements and so on - have been placed there because honourable senators consider them to be of some importance and to be matters that should be discussed in this chamber. It is quite obvious now that none of the matter’s under General Business on the notice paper will see the light of day in this session. Included in these matters is a ministerial statement on which we had a little bit of a to do last night. I refer to the ministerial statement on Papua New Guinea. Honourable senators’ on this side of the chamber WiN want to debate the ministerial- statement about independence, that finally will’ be granted to Papua New Guinea. …
The Senate is being asked now not only to carry these items of legislation in this short period of time but also to consider what I, believe to be 3 extremely important items of legislation which honourable members on this side of the chamber believe should be examined and debated at some length. The first, item to which I refer is the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill, which is now on the notice paper. The second item is the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill, which is of tremendous importance to members on this side of the Senate. We should have a full debate on that Bill and we should be able to propose the amendments that we feel should be submitted to the Senate for its consideration. The third item which I think is of some importance and which should take some time to be considered is the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which will be renewed for the next 5 years. They are only 3 items that 1 can see by glancing very quickly through the notice paper that could take probably the rest of the time that has been allocated for the remainder of this session.
We on the Opposition benches find that we are almost being politically blackmailed in relation to our ability to amend legislation. I recall on one occasion, when a
Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill was before the Senate in the last few days of the Senate sitting - the other place was not sitting. We sat on for a few days longer so that we could complete the business of the chamber. The only valid excuse that was given for rejecting an amendment that was moved by a senator from this side of the chamber was that the other place was not sitting and that if the amendment were carried the legislation could not be finalised until the next session of Parliament and we would be denying the wheat growlers of this country a stabilisation scheme for that period.. No Opposition, wherever it may be or whoever is in .government, should be blackmailed into carrying legislation that it believes should, be amended. _We are now in this position, particularly in relation to. the workers compensation legislation. . We. may be forced into a situation of not being permitted or not being able to amend it as we wish, on the ground that the benefits contained in the legislation will be withheld from the workers of this country if we insist on pursuing amendments when the other place has risen.
I say: without hesitation - and without apology that the Senate should not under any circumstance relate its sittings to those of the other place. If we, as a Senate, decide to. amend legislation, the alternative should be adopted and the other place should be recalled to consider the amendments that we have passed. We are in an intolerable position. By acquiescing at any time to this type of motion we are perpetuating something which is creating a situation in which this country is being governed by the Executive and not by the Parliament. The Government rushes legislation through. It is not examined properly. Who can examine properly 28 Bills in a few days? They will be carried through this chamber. On a subsequent occasion, when we decide that certain clauses in legislation are not fit and proper to be in legislation, the Government will refer to a Bill that was carried through this place under these circumstances - in the rush of the last week of sitting - and will say: ‘Here is legislation in which this principle has been carried unanimously and without opposition by the Senate’. The Government uses these tactics as a precedent to get under the guard of vigilant members of this Parliament.
I say that under no circumstances should the Senate agree to the extended hours of sitting, with the exception of the few minor alterations of quarter of an hour here and there. I recall that during the last session the Senate, by an overwhelming majority, agreed that we should sit in cycles of 2 weeks on and one week off. The sitting days would be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the first week and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the following week. That would give us about 10 days off in which to look after the business for which we were elected and other business such as committee work. We have not observed that timetable since the motion was carried by the Senate. We have never observed a 4day sitting week simply because the Government has not been able to provide the Senate with business for it to be able to sit 4 days a week. As was said earlier, if it had not been for the Opposition and members on the corner benches providing business for the Senate, the Government would have had to close shop because it is obvious that the Government has no intention of permitting much of the general business on the notice paper to be debated. I ask the Senate to give consideration to meeting at the normal hours decided upon last year 2 weeks sitting and one week off.
On this occasion we have agreed to sit for a third week: When we did this we did not expect that we would be confronted with the proposition that is now before us of extending the sitting hours further. At that time we were not confronted with the proposition that we would have simultaneous sittings of different sections of the Senate, as has been brought about by the carriage of the previous motion. I ask the Leader of the Government to reconsider this proposal and to return to a system of sane consideration of legislation.I know that each year the Opposition and members of the Democratic Labor Party have protested against this rushing through of business in the dying hours of the session. The position has not improved. I think that on this occasion the situation is far worse than it has ever been because the Government has kept until the last week all the important and controversial legislation. It has kept until the last week all the legislation that may cause heated debate or amendments to be moved so that it can do what it did with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which was gagged and rushed through without proper consideration being given to it and without permitting members of the Senate to put the points of view which they have been elected to put. I oppose the motion.
-In opposing the motionI endorse the remarks of Senator Poyser, who has just resumed his seat. I am concerned about the Friday sitting. I think it is a shocking thing for the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) to inform the Senate at 4.45 p.m. today that the Senate will meet on Friday. Is there no respect for those who have appointments on Friday? The Minister is very kind in a lot of ways. He is always fair in that he does not jump on people. Surely he would not say, at 4.45 p.m. on Wednesday, irrespective of the arrangements people have for Friday, that the Senate will meet on Friday. What does a Friday sitting mean from a business point of view? The proposed hours of sitting are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2.15 p.m. to 4 p.m. Out of the 3 hours prior to the lunch break roughly one hour is normally taken by questions. That leaves 2 hours for debate. In the afternoon session13/4 hours are provided for debate. By trying to bend everyone to the will of the Government for the sake of 33/4 hours work on Friday, those who have engagements are placed at a disadvantage because the numbers that the Government has will keep them here for 33/4 hours as a result of a motion that was moved at 4.45 p.m. on Wednesday. I ask the Minister whether that is fair.
– Some of us cannot get home.
– Some senators, particularly those travelling to Tasmania, cannot get home on Friday because there are no flights on which they can travel. My friend Senator Lillico told me that, because of a meeting last Friday, he did not get home until after 5 p.m. on Saturday. Whatever the position is with regard to other senators, surely the Government should consider the plight of those who have to travel- long distances. I do not think the Government is entitled to bulldoze this motion through at the inconvenience of others, especially those who have appointments. We should also consider the senators from Tasmania. If they leave Parliament House at 4 pm., possibly their plane will leave Canberra at about S.30 p.m. They cannot get a plane home that night. Unless they live in Launceston or Hobart they will not arrive home until well into Saturday afternoon. All this is for 3 J hours extra for discussion.
If the Government wants co-operation in the last 2 or 3 weeks of the sitting I can assure it that it is not asking for it in a proper manner by moving a motion such as this. I ask the Government at least to give some thought to this point: The Government is not entitled, in any shape or form, to come here’ at 4.45 on a Wednesday and say that we have to meet here on Friday. That has been done. While I endorse the arguments advanced for the sitting next week, considering that we have plenty of time in the future, to say the least and not to be unkind, 1 think it is beastly unfair at this time to say that we have to meet on Friday.
– I enter this debate because I come from a distant State. 1 notice that this Parliament is built around the States of Victoria and New South Wales. Originally the hour decided upon for meeting next Tuesday was 10 a.m. The Minister for Supply (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has agreed that the Senate should not meet on Monday and has now put the hour of meeting on Tuesday morning back to 11 o’clock. Senators from New South Wales and Victoria can leave home on Tuesday morning and be here in time for an 11 o’clock sitting, but this is not the case with senators from Western Australia. We are to meet on Friday morning and it will be midnight by the time we reach our homes that night. Yet, we are expected to be back again on Monday.
I think the Government is being completely unrealistic. Senator Poyser mentioned some of the Bills that are to come before the Senate. For the first time I can remember since I came here 12 years ago the Supplementary Estimates are being examined by the Senate. When the 2 Bills involved come before the Senate I want time to speak on the motion for the first reading. I think that the Government, over the years, has been playing ducks and drakes with the parliamentary system in connection with Supplementary Estimates. We want to talk about this matter. There is a lot of confusion in the minds of Australian people about industrial action that may be taken in respect of the airlines of Australia, both domestic and overseas. At the same time there is on the notice paper a Bill relating to a loan to enable Qantas Airways Ltd to purchase aircraft. It is quite likely that the whole gamut of what is happening in the airline industry inside and outside Australia today will need to be examined when we deal with that Bill.
One could continue and refer to the 26 Bills that are on this paper. Of course, some of the Bills can be taken together - probably the 2 Supply Bills and those relating to workers’ compensation - but there will have to bc some sort of debate on all the rest. Some of them are important internationally as well as to people in Australia. The Fisheries Bill can have repercussions for people who come to Australian waters to fish. This Bill could result in good or bad international relations for Australia yet we are expected to examine it in just a few hours. I wonder where the Parliament is heading when we are asked to agree to this sort of thing happening. 1 do not agree that it should happen.
Last year we sat until 14th June. What is the hurry today to get out of this place? Why does the Government want us to get out so quickly? It was set down originally that we would conclude the sittings on 29th April. The Government cannot say that it has no work for the Parliament because there is plenty of work on the notice paper. The simple fact is that the whole of this session of Parliament has been devoted to settling the disputes within the Liberal Party, in determining who should be its leader and what attitude should be taken. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) cannot make up his mind whether .to go on with the legislative programme or whether to hold an early election in an endeavour to get a mandate for himself to govern this country. This is the sort of thing that has been going on in this country since Parliament met on 16th February. Now we are faced with the situation that the Government wants to get out of this place as quickly as possible.
I am prepared to work here as long as I did in the autumn session last year, dealing with the business of the Parliament in the way it should be dealt with. I do not want to race home just to get away from the place. I was elected to come to Canberra and deal with the legislation affecting this country and I am prepared to be here. Apparently the Government is not prepared to do this. The Government does not want to be here in Parliament; it wants to continue the Cabinet system of governing; it. wants dictatorship government whereby 13 members of Cabinet decide the issues that affect Australia. It wants the elected representatives of the people to have no sayin the government of Australia. This is the sort of government that the Liberal Party and the Country Party want to continue. I’ do not agree with it. I think it is time that the Australian people insisted upon some form of. democratic government, some semblance of democracy, in this country. Democracy does not mean governmentby the majority; it means government by the majority with due respect to the minority. There is no respect for the minority, the Opposition. The Government takes no notice of what happens. It bulldozes legislation through the Parliament I think it is time that it was stopped. It is time that we jacked up and told the Government that we are not going to co-operate with it in this form of governing and told it that the Cabinet is not the sole purpose of Parliament House being open. I oppose the motion.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (5.23) - in reply - We have seen the old free ride this afternoon for sure. But I guess I can take it. Before we leave this Senate at the end of this session some honourable senators I am looking around are going to be eating the words they uttered this afternoon. I am referring to those honourable senators who have Uttered such rhetoric about sitting on, who have said: ‘Let us go to the barricades. Let us sit on’. They will be the people who will be asking in the corridors: ‘When can we get up?’ I do not think hypocrisy, I never have, and I have never had to live with it. I will explain what I am doing for those who want to be reasonable. I am trying to get an ordered plan which will keep our work as close as is reasonably possible to that of the other place. But let no honourable senator imagine that they will be leaving Parliament House when the sittings conclude in the other House. You have asked for it and you will get it.
– Is that a threat?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThat is far enough. We will work a reasonable time. It is easy for honourable senators to stand and have a sling when the proceedings are being broadcast.
– I do not like being threatened.
– All I am saying to you, Senator, along with the rest, is: Do not ever come to me and talk about how soon the Senate can rise. If somebody could listen in the halls of the. Senate they would hear all the people who, come along and say: ‘When can we get up?’. We heard Senator Kennelly speak about my coming to this chamber at a quarter to five. It is true to say that the times in the motion that I have moved, with variations, were discussed between the Opposition and the Acting Government Whip yesterday. It is also true to say that . members of the. Opposition must have known about it because, in fact, their Leader indicated to me at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon that they were not prepared to go along with it. So, when Senator Kennelly puts on the act that he just put on, it is sheer hypocrisy, and let.no man say that it is not. It is all right to dish it out, but one has to be prepared to take it. I am prepared to take it. I am prepared to take it on the basis that the Leader of the Government has to accept responsibility. But I repeat that I do not like hypocrisy.
Let me get on to the substance of the matter. We intend to try to stay as close as we can to the other place. What Senator Cant and some other speakers said about the number of Bills yet to come to us is true. I am glad that Senator Kennelly has come back into the chamber. Now that he is here, in fairness to him I will repeat what I said.
– Say what you said about hypocrisy.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI intend to. I will do so after finishing the point I am making. We intend to try to stay as close as we can to the other place. But it is true, as stated by Senator Cant, I think it was, that 20odd Bills have yet to come from the other place. We have 5 Bills here already, waiting for the messages to be read. But, in order to meet the convenience of the Opposition I am not proposing to put them on as I normally would. That is to enable a debate to take place tonight on the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill. This is factual. I could sit in here, have these 5 Bills called on and introduce them. That would mean that we would come to the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill at about 10 o’clock tonight. But I do not want to do that. We have to be sensible about these matters.
Let me come back to Senator Kennelly’s point. He said that it was not fair he might have used stronger language against me, but I will leave it at that because what I was doing was introducing at a quarter to five today a motion to sit on Friday. 1 repeat to Senator Kennelly that on my instructions the Acting Government Whip spoke to the Opposition Whip yesterday in relation to proposals for sitting
– Yesterday morning.
– Yesterday morning. So I say that in fact members of the Opposition must have known about it because their Leader indicated to me at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon that they were not prepared to go along with it. Therefore, how can Senator Kennelly say that I just introduced a new proposition at a quarter to five today? It is semantics and he knows it is semantics.
– It is not. If you want it like that, I do not mind.
– Senator Kennelly knew about it before, but he stood up and said that he did not know about it until a quarter to five today. He knew about it yesterday.
– You brought it in at a quarter to five.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI say that it is hypocrisy on Senator Kennelly’s part to suggest that it was intro duced at a quarter to five. That is what I am saying now and what I said before. That is where I stand in relation to the matter.
I will always try to give members of the Opposition the courtesy that should be extended to them. I repeat that I want to keep as close as we can to the other place, and I am sure that all honourable’ senators, regardless of party, want to do that very thing. Honourable senators opposite have had a free ride this afternoon. I suppose that is part of the life we live. But I think they have to give me credit for the fact that I repeat this for Senator Kennelly’s benefit I did not first introduce this question of sitting on Friday at a quarter to five today.
– In the Senate, you did.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn the Senate, I did, of course? but Senator Kennelly did not say that. He did not say what he said in that context. The many people listening to the broadcast, I hope, will have heard what he said. He and I have a difference of view about that. I say that he did say it in the context of suggesting that hedid not know about this proposal Until a quarter to five.
– No. I said that you introduced it at a quarter to five.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe honourable senator made play on it.
– It is the truth.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn fact, it is the truth that I introduced it at a quarter to five.
– In this place.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn this place. That is the point of it. However, the short answer to all of this is that the vote of the Senate and the will of the Senate will determine the matter, and if the Senate determines not to sit on Friday we will have to sit a little longer. But do not let anybody come around the corner and say: ‘How soon can we. get up?’
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria)- Mr President, I ask for leave to make a personal explanation because’ I believe that I have been grossly misrepresented and, what is more, by the words I heard, insulted.
– The honourable senator claims to have been misrepresented. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is true that I said that this matter was introduced at a quarter to five. It is true that it was discussed yesterday afternoon among the Labor Party senators, and we rejected it. I certainly did not receive any information that after that rejection the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) intended to. persist with it. It is all right for him to try to put the blame on to someone else; but what I stated was a fact. He introduced this matter at a quarter to five. Will he deny that?
– I said that.
– Will he deny that? No, of course he will not. Therefore do not let him or anyone else in this place say that I am a hypocrite, or words to that effect. I have been in Parliament for much longer than he will be and my record is as good as his. He has been lucky, being on the right of the President and always alluding to what his masters in the mass media say. But neither he nor anyone else can say that I have ever been a hypocrite in what I have advocated here. All I can say is that I stand by what I said. The Leader of the Government introduced this matter at a quarter to five today without any intimation, as far as I am concerned, after the Leader of our Party, no doubt, told him that we would not have a bar of it. No intimation was given to me that the Leader of the Government was persisting with it. I tried to tell him that he would get only 3) hours of debate on Friday. I say to him with great respect that he will hear a lot more about this matter before the Senate rises.
That the motion (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority .. .. 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 April (vide page 995), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is part of a campaign carried on by the Government and its supporters over the past year under the slogan of law and order. Like so many acts of this Government, its action in introducing this Bill, as has been its whole behaviour in running a campaign on the question of law and order, has indicated a desire to imitate the less desirable features of life in the contemporary United States of America. It may be remembered that during 1970 Mr Spiro Agnew, the Vice-President of the United States, and Mr Reagan, the Republican Governor of California, entered into an intensive campaign of law and order directed against the civil rights movement and against those people who were demonstrating in the streets against the continuation of the war in Vietnam. It was promised by Agnew and Reagan, at the behest of the President of the United States, that they would carry on this campaign in the congressional elections to be held in the
United States of America at the end of last year.
Vice-President Agnew was the star performer in the campaign for law and order and he campaigned very vigorously against people such as Adlai Stevenson III, a former Marine Corps officer who was the Democratic Party candidate for United States senator from the State of Illinois; against Mr Tunney, the Democratic Party candidate for the Senate in California; and against many other eminent Americans who have been opposed to the Vietnam war and who have supported the civil rights movement in the United States. The result of the law and order campaign in the United States was a repudiation of the policies which have become identified’ with the name of Vice-President Agnew, to such an extent that the Republican Party analysts have now concluded that, in those States where Agnew went with his law and order campaign, far from benefiting his own party he benefited the Democratic Party, so that even in the conservative State of Illinois the seat which had been held by the former Republican leader in the Senate, Senator Dirksen, was won by a liberal Democrat, the son of the former Democratic Party Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. It is as a result of this that Mr Agnew is now under some cloud and may not be the next Vice-Presidential candidate of the Republican Party.
We saw. that simultaneously with this, as is their wont, the Liberal Party in Australia decided to imitate the more extreme right wing elements of the American Republican Party. Mr Askin, the Premier of New South .Wales, said that they were going to run elections in that State on the question of law and order.. In fact they fought a by-election in the State seat. of George’s River on that very issue. We all know what happened there. Law and order was sunk in George’s River and we have not heard much about law and order from the New South Wales Government since then. This is the Government which about a year ago wanted .to fight an election on this issue. But still we have this Bill floating around. There are still . some ghosts haunting us from the law and order days of the Government, and one of them is this Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill which is before us now.
It is remarkable how like minds think alike. Sometimes one can only wonder at the strange telepathy which seems to exist between members of this Government and their friends and colleagues who are members of the South African Nationalist Government. It will be well remembered by many that the Suppression of Communism Act in South Africa, which has been responsible for the imprisonment and the suffering of many Democrats in that country, was based on the Communist Party Dissolution Act which was passed by the Australian Government in” 1950, only subsequently, to be repudiated by the High Court of Australia and by the people of Australia. It is curious how similar the Bill that is before us now is to the Suppression of Communism Act, how strange mystic numbers seem to run .through the minds of people who advocate a police state. For example, in clause 4 of the Bill we find that ‘assembly’ is defined as meaning ah assembly of not .less than 3 persons. So 3 persons constitute an assembly, precisely as in the South African Suppression of Communism Act. Within the terms of that Act a banned person may not attend any meeting if there are 3 persons present. The syn.chronisation pf thought between the Parliament in Canberra and’ ‘.the ‘ Parliament in Cape Town is remarkable.
-A thought going back some 600 years in British law.
– If this thought goes back 600 years it is much more modern than most of the legislation that the Government has introduced. We find the same sort of euphemisms used in the speech which was made in another place by the then Attorney-General, who despite his dedication to law and order has subsequently left for the back bench where no doubt he is not enjoying himself as much as he was previously.
– He has taken his bat with him.
– I think he supported the wrong man for Prime Minister.
– He is a good cricketer. k
– As Senator Mulvihill points out, he is a good cricketer, but even his dedication to law and order did not save him when the knives were out in the Liberal Party and he is, despite his efforts in Red baiting, sitting on the back benches with some of his other Red baiting colleagues whose Red baiting efforts have been similarly rewarded.
– At least ours is not a daily problem; it happens only occasionally.
– I did not quite follow what that was all about, but I shall let it pass. When Mr Hughes was introducing this Bill in another place on 16th March this year, in his second reading speech the Bill became a quite simple measure and in fact a humane Bill. He said that it was introduced to safeguard liberties. He said that the main objects of the Bill were to clarify, to simplify and in important respects to mitigate the severity of the law concerning assemblies and persons. So far have we come from those heroic days of law and order that the Bill which was promised to jerk us into gear and to put the demonstrators out of business is no longer a Bill dedicated to keeping the demonstrators in hand; in fact, it is a Bill to mitigate the severity of the law concerning assemblies. I submit that it is such in the same way as an act to extend university education ‘ in South Africa was an Act 10 deprive non-whites of the right to attend the few English speaking universities they still bad a chance to attend. The same sort of euphemism is used by both repressive governments.
In the first’ fever and flare of heroism the Government intended to hound us all into the gutter or into gaol. But now all that we have is a Bill that is being introduced to mitigate the severity of certain penalties’, lt is interesting to study the views held by Mr Hughes when he introduced the Bill. I do not know whether he still holds those views or whether he has had a change of mind as well as a change of occupation. Let us consider what he regarded as the essential principles, the principal considerations of the law relating to assemblies. He said:
First: the public interest requires that the conduct of people assembling for a common purpose shall noi give rise to violence or to any reasonable apprehension of violence. Second: the public interest requires that people who assemble in public places for a common purpose shall conduct themselves so as not to cause unreasonable obstruction to others . . . Third: The public interest requires that lawful occupiers of land and premises should be protected from intrusions upon their peaceable occupation . . . Fourth: the public interest requires that the proprieties of international discourse should be preserved.
No doubt all of these things should be preserved, but how different is that approach from the principles which are safeguarded in the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. It seems that this Government imitates the politics of the United States only when it wishes to be repressive and not when the opportunity exists to follow the great democratic principles enshrined in the United States Constitution. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights states:
Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the Press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The right of persons to assemble appears in the First Amendment of the, Bill of Rights, in the United States Constitution. The primacy of those rights is given to the people who wish to assemble. I have just read out the 4 propositions being the principal considerations outlined . by the former Attorney-General. He dealt at length with the 4 principal considerations which should be taken into account in the law relating to the assembly of persons. Nowhere did he make any mention of the right of persons to assemble. He mentioned only the rights of people who may in some way be hindered or obstructed by those people who do assemble. This, if nothing else, shows- the bias of the legislation now being introduced. It. is not a Bill to safeguard liberties; it is a Bill to hinder the liberties of the citizen. Nobody could fairly deny that problems are involved in free assembly of large gatherings of persons, but under the United States Constitution the first right is the right to assemble. The subsidiary rights are those of persons who may be interfered with by the exercise of the right of assembly. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights refers to the right of assembly and not the right of persons who may be affected by an assembly. Senator Byrne is trying to interject. 1 have only a short time to speak. Senator Byrne will have a longer time than I have.
– I am asking a question.
– If the honourable senator has some difficulty I will speak to him privately later and enlighten him. One of the matters dealt with by the former Attorney-General was making comprehensible the law relating to assemblies. He said:
If any law is to be effective in regulating human conduct in potentially discordant situations, it ought to be comprehensible not only to those to whom it is directed but to those who have the responsibility for its administration. The law ought therefore to be conveniently accessible; it ought to be expressed in clear and explicit language.
But does this Bill achieve that aim? It does not. It does the contrary. For example, I direct the attention of honourable senators to clause 17, which states: (1.) Where . an assembly consisting of not less than twelve persons is taking place in relation to protected premises or to a protected person and -
persons taking part in the assembly have conducted themselves in a svay that has caused a member of a Police Force of the rank of Sergeant or above reasonably to apprehend that the assembly will be carried on in a manner involving -
How imprecise is that wording. The clause does not even require that persons should be carrying on in such a way or that the onus is upon the Crown to establish that they were carrying on in that way. All that is necessary is to establish that a sergeant of police or a policeman holding a rank superior to sergeant is satisfied that such would be the case. It is anything but precise. I remind honourable senators of a much more precise piece of legislation. I refer to an ordinance of the City of Chicago relating to disorderly conduct. The ordinance provides:
All persons who shall make, aid, countenance, or assist in making any improper noise, riot, disturbance, breach of the peace, or diversion tending to a breach of the peace, within the limits of the city; all persons who shall collect in bodies or crowds for unlawful purposes, or for any purpose, to the annoyance or disturbance of other persons; . . . shall be deemed guilty of disorderly conduct, . . .
A comparison of the clause of the Bill which I have just quoted with the City of Chicago ordinance shows that the language of the ordinance is far more precise. It does not say only that a sergeant of police has to be convinced as satisfied that such is the case. The ordinance states that it shall have to be the case before action can be taken against the persons concerned. Even then what do we find? I refer to a judgment delivered in March 1969 by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Gregory v. The City of Chicago. The name Gregory should be well known to honourable senators. He has been one of the victims of the law and order programme of this Government. He was refused admission to this country as part of the great law and order campaign. Mr Justice Black of the United States Supreme Court referred to the language of that City of Chicago ordinance in his judgment. He said:
The disorderly conduct ordinance under which these petitioners were charged and convicted is not, however, a narrowly drawn law-
Mr Justice Black said that it is . not a narrowly drawn law, but it is much more narrowly drawn than the Bill now before the Senate. He went on: . . particularly designed to regulate certain kinds of conduct such as marching or picketing or demonstrating along the streets or highways. Nor does it regulate the times- or places or manner of carrying on such activities. To the contrary, it might better be described as a meat axe ordinance, gathering in one comprehensive definition of an offence a number of words which have a ‘ multiplicity of meanings, “some of which would cover activity specifically protected by the First Amendment.
We in Australia have no First Amendment to protect us. If that City of Chicago ordinance is a meat axe ordinance, what we have before us now is a. whole butcher’s shop full of meat axes because it is much more imprecise than was the Chicago ordinance declared to be unconstitutional and contrary to the Bill of Rights by the United States Supreme Court. I have very little time left to debate this measure but I wish to make some general observations. Only recently Frank McManus, a member of Parliament, was sentenced to gaol for 6 months because of his vigorous activities on behalf of the civil’ rights of the Irish people in Northern Ireland - so-called Ulster. Protests have been made in the British Parliament on behalf of Frank McManus and civil liberties because of this shameful treatment of a member of Parliament who demonstrated only to win some liberties for an oppressed section of the population of Northern Ireland. His other Independent Unity colleague in the House of Commons, Miss Bernadette Devlin, has been treated in the same manner. They have been prepared to demonstrate because they know and- realise that any substantial changes which have been made to civil liberties have been made by people who demonstrated. Magna Carta was the result of a . demonstration. It was not the result of law and order, lt was the result of a demonstration.
– lt was nothing of the kind, lt was the result of a fight by the barons. - Senator WHEELDON- Here is the honourable senator from the Congo back again. The United States Bill of Rights was also the result of the actions of demon.strators the result of the actions of Washington, Jefferson, Tom Payne and other demonstrators who were prepared to depart from law and order to bring about a reform in the laws. The Declaration of the Rights of Man in France fall: into the same category.
We appreciate that great problems are involved in this matter but this Government which we are facing at the present time says that h is dedicated to law and order. It is dedicated1 to what it calls law and order only when law and order are used to suppress those people who object to fundamentals of its policy such as the butchery in Vietnam. We hear very little about law and order when the victims of violence are those persons who are opposed to this Government. Little did we hear about law and order from the Government when the Soviet Embassy was bombed recently. Little did we hear about law and order when the house of a senatorelect who belongs to the Australian Labor Party was bombed. We hear a great deal about somebody sitting down disgracefully in the Department of Labour and National Service and how the full majesty of the law and the police forces must be called in in order to stop these shocking activities which were used in the civil rights campaign in the United States of America supported by President Kennedy and President Johnson. Little do we hear about the acts of violence of people on the extreme right. As Senator Mulvihill has pointed out on many occasions, one of the leading members of the Nazi collaborator
Ustashi movement is a senior officer of, I think, the Department of Labour and National Service. This terrorist organisation engaged in the butchery of friends of the Allies during the Second World War.
This Government has engaged in what it hopes will be a policy of intimidation of members of the Australian Labor Party and their political opponents. During the Christmas vacation under the orders of the- then Attorney-General who was so distressed when some demonstrators came to his house’, Commonwealth police officers appeared on my front doorstep early in the morning seeking to ask me questions which I refused to answer other than giving my name and address. The questions concerned an advertisement which appeared in a newspaper relating to the National Service Act. In the Senate I asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) why this was done, who, authorised it and what was going to be done about it. In reply I received a letter from Senator Greenwood saying that investigations were being made as to whether .there should be a prosecution. I notice he did not have the audacity to give the reply inside the Senate chamber so that it would be broadcast and be known to the public. What is the purpose of this sort of . action? What is the purpose in sending during the Christmas holidays 2 policemen to my home in Perth, knocking on the front door and demanding to ask . me questions about my political activities? What is the purpose of leaving this episode in a state of suspended animation so that no answer. is given to people, who are placed in this situation, as to whether there is going to be a prosecution and, if so, what it is going to be for?
– It is purely intimidation. That is the only reason why it is done. It does not succeed in intimidating me and I do not believe that it succeeds in intimidating my ‘ colleagues. I do not doubt that a great many people are made uneasy by this action. Senator Wright finds it funny. He believes in sending policemen to interrogate members of the Opposition. That is typical of his attitude ever since he has been here. We get the phoney Churchillisms on occasions.
They are somewhat illiterate Churchillisms but we can see what he is intending to imitate even if he does not succeed. But when it comes to any basic question of the liberties of the subject the first person to vacate the ranks is Senator Wright. The Australian Labor Party appreciates the problems which are involved in any plural society where there are people who wish to demonstrate and publicly show their opposition to laws which they regard as being unjust. The Australian Labor Party says that the primary right is the right for people to demonstrate and the right of free assembly, not the rights of those people who object to it.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I must say that I am bound to defer to Senator Wheeldon?s mastery of some of the shadier aspects of the American, South African and Irish scenes, but I think it is a pity that he did not refer to the Bill before the Senate. He delivered himself of a farrago of nonsense, the speech of a would-be demagogue, but he did not touch the meat of the - matter contained in the legislation before us. I do not have the time to pursue his twisted logic down the labrynthine corridors of his fantasy, but if he claims to be serious when he says that Australia is a police state I can” only think that he must be joking. However, I do point out in rebuttal of a couple of the statements that he made that no-one ever promised to put demonstrators out of Business, no-one ever suggested that the ‘ members of the Australian Labor Party would be herded together into the gutter, although I have seen them sitting there quite voluntarily-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the senator in order in reading his speech?
– 1 am not reading my speech; I am speaking from copious notes.
The ACTING. DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - There is no substance in the point of order.
– Perhaps at this stage I should point out that in rebuttal I am quoting directly the words of Senator Wheeldon. No-one ever suggested that the members of the Australian Labor Party would be herded together into the gutter, although I have seen them sitting there quite voluntarily, and that was on an occasion that was quaintly called a moratorium. I think it is confirmation of the strength of the Government’s position when one observes the complete absence of factual criticism of the legislation from the Opposition.
I do not want to spend all my time replying to Senator Wheeldon ‘s comments, but he did make a reference to Magna Carta and suggested that it was a victory for the freedom of the people. Perhaps Senator Wheeldon does not know that this proposed . Act will repeal legislation which was passed in the century .which followed Magna Carta. That indicates how necessary it is to clean up this legislation. The Riots and Tumults Suppression Act was passed at the end of the 14th century, and that is one of the pieces of legislation which applies in certain ‘ Australian States and will be repealed. Its applicability will be removed by this legislation. Although this is perhaps a slight digression, I might say that Magna Carta -was not a victory for the people, as Senator Wheeldon claimed; it was a victory for the barons. (Quorum formed) As I was saying when Senator Keeffe found himself bound to call a quorum, Magna Carta was not a victory for the people, as Senator Wheeldon suggested; it was a victory for the overpowerful barons and earls over the pusillanimous King John. But I come back to the Bill in 1971. It is a Bill which I am pleased to support. Unlike Senator. Wheeldon I do not believe in wild exaggeration. I do not suggest that the Australian society is dissolving into cataclysmic chaos. It is not true that brigands lurk in the hills, that bandits infest the city streets, lt would certainly be unjust to suggest that anarchy stalks the land. But there are areas of lawlessness and disorder which demand correction, and that is what this very moderate Bill sets out to do.
Senator Wright in his second reading speech pointed out that the purpose of the Bill was to simplify and in some cases to moderate the existing force of the law. I do not resile from the proposition that the Government stands for a free but a well ordered society. This legislation is necessary if we are going to fill in the gaps in the existing laws. This is a federation, a nation in which we have 6 States, some territories
– Was he in gaol in Ireland?
– This gentleman was the Attorney-General in- New Zealand. He said:
Both freedom and order are essential. Freedom without order - which is. virtually what the anarchists proclaim - is an impossible state except for hermits. There can be no meaningful freedom in society unless we have order. On the other hand, order without freedom is tyranny and we will have none of it. Balancing the .two is a perennial human problem, to which there is no perfect solution.
Senator Wright went on further to quote a distinguished member of the Labor Party, the right honourable Lord Shawcross, Q.C., a man who was Attorney-General of the United Kingdom under Mr Attlee and the British prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials. I think he should be an authority whom the Labor Party would accept on most points, although perhaps his views on Vietnam would not be acceptable to them. Lord Shawcross said:
I know that if honourable senators opposite were allowed to have a free, secret, non-Party vote on this legislation very many of them would go along with the Government in supporting it. The Government has an international obligation.
We have in Australia at present between 50 and 60 - I am not quite sure of the figure; I am relying on my memory - foreign legations, embassies and the like. The countries which subscribe to the Vienna Convention of 1961 are bound .to
Persons and Property) Bill
Commonwealth premises . have been to some extent an area of no-man’s land. There .are very few members, numerically speaking, of the Commonwealth Police Force. The High Court of Australia gave a decision fairly recently, although I do not recall the year, in relation to a claim for workers compensation ‘ for an injury suffered on Commonwealth property near either the: Richmond or Williamtown aerodrome. The decision of that great constitutional authority was that the State law in respect to compensation did not run on Commonwealth territory. I am not saying that the position is exactly analagous, but recently we had in Melbourne people who I would in fact describe as hoodlums but who describe themselves as protesters, who attempted to set fire to wastepaper baskets in the General Post Office. In earlier days in Victoria, as there were people in the Post Office, this would have constituted the crime of arson. The penalty in Victoria for this crime was until a few years ago - I cannot give the exact date - death. The penalty was death for setting fire to a building in which a person was present. Because there was initially no Commonwealth police officer present there were some doubts as to the validity of arrests being made by the State police of these’ hoodlums on this Commonwealth property. To improve the position slightly, the Commonwealth did pass the Commonwealth
Property (Application of State Laws) Act, which allowed State laws to run on Commonwealth property. 1 did hear some suggestion emanating from honourable senators opposite that this was a piece of tyrannical legislation. I desire to point out that the penalty under this legislation for unlawful assembly is a fine of §250 - this is the maximum penally - or 3 months imprisonment. The maximum penalty in Queensland for the same offence is 1 years imprisonment. If it happened in Senator Wright’s State pf Tasmania the penalty which could be imposed is an unlimited fine and ‘up to 21 years imprisonment. If it happened in the State of South Australia the penalty could be an unlimited fine and unlimited imprisonment. How, in the tight of these contrasting penalties, can anyone argue that by introducing legislation which provides a maximum of 3 months imprisonment we are enacting legislation which is more tyrannical than the existing laws.
We have seen in this country in recent times a growth in what has been euphemistically described as “signs’. Only the States of New South Wales and Victoria have appropriate’ legislation to deal with this particular activity. I wish to quote the words of a distinguished Labor lawyer on this matter. On this occasion - on this aspect, at any rate- -I am in complete agreement with bini. He said that people who make invasions of Commonwealth offices are contemptible cowards. He added:
The people who participated in those invasions, those threats, those demonstrations, those, sit-ins should have been brought to trial.
– The sometime Leader of the Australian Labor Party in another place, Mr Whitlam. There is nothing in this Bill which outlaws demonstrations as such provided they are not accompanied by violence or threats of violence.
– As long as one does not give out pamphlets on Commonwealth property. That is what happened to the people in Melbourne,
– J think the honourable senator should stay in Geelong. I do not think he is correctly stating the law.
The law in some States, as I have already mentioned, goes right back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The Riots and Tumults Suppression Act of 1393 is still in force in some parts of Australia. After this legislation is enacted it will not be in force. Honourable senators will be interested to know that in some cases it provided a penalty of indefinite imprisonment and a defendant who was convicted had to surrender his suit of armour to the king. We propose to remove that form of penalty by way of the legislation which is before the Senate.
Senator Wheeldon offered some criticism of the fact that a police sergeant had io assess whether there was likely to be violence. He suggested or implied that the police sergeant determined whether a crime or offence was committed. Nothing could be further from the truth. What happens in this case, as in the case of any other simple prosecution, is if there is an assembly and a police officer of the rank of sergeant or above has reasonable grounds for believing that there will be violence he may act as prescribed’ in the legislation. But that is not the end of the matter. Whether an offence has been committed will be determined by a court on the evidence placed before it and the onus remains fairly and squarely on the. Crown to prove the offence. 1 do not think it would be fair to blame all honourable senators opposite for some of the statements which have been made by their colleagues in another place, but we do know that Dr J. F. Cairns, for example, was recently reported as having said that he was glad that authority had had its day. If that is not an incitement to anarchy I would like to know what is. He is also reported as having said: ‘If you do not like a law break it’. The good doctor has also claimed that this legislation was unnecessary as the State laws cover everything. To show how irrational that proposition is, I shall refer to the case to which he referred of the women who were prosecuted in Victoria under certain legislation relating to trespass.
I now propose to read what the good doctor said about this matter. I do so to show how necessary the legislation is; that is on the assumption that one believes that there should be a well ordered society. The good doctor, when speaking in another place on 20th April, said:
In. respect of other inquiries 1 have made, 1 find that the only time when any of these women were on the floor is when they were being dragged out or lifted out of the Department of Labour and National Service into the hallway where they could be arrested legally. That dragging them out of the Department was strictly illegal, because until (he Bill which is now before mis House is passed there is no power to do that.
Could anything be clearer than that? Here we’ have the champion of the bobby soxers the oldest teeny bopper in the business, conceding .that there is really absolute necessity for this type of legislation if a well ordered society is to be maintained in our country. I do not think that the matter needs to be taken any further.. The Bill virtually speaks for itself. T hope that the legislation will receive a speedy passage.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! I call Senator James McClelland. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that Senator James McClelland will be making his maiden speech. T ask the Senate to extend to him the usual courtesies. .
– The Australian Labor Party opposes this Bill because it is hypocritical, unnecessary and dangerously vague in many of its terms. It is hypocritical because it was. introduced into this chamber as a libertarian measure designed, in the words of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to mitigate the severity of existing laws and to draw a clear, and sensible line between freedom and order, whereas its true purpose is to impose additional restrictions on the right to dissent and at the same time to give the Government yet another opportunity to ham its favourite role of defender of the citizenry against the forces of anarchy. The Government cannot sell this Bill by pointing to its superiority over archaic statutory and common law penalties for riot, rout and unlawful assembly Certainly these archaic laws are long overdue to. be scrapped and the last clause of this Bill, clause 25, is to be applauded for doing just that. But this provides no justification for the introduction of new offences and new penalties into a field already cluttered with restrictions on human freedom.
The Bill fails lamentably to achieve the synthesis of freedom and order which the Minister claimed for it. This is no easy task, but I believe that the Government’s obsession with order has outweighed completely its concern for freedom. The Minister and all Government supporters in the other place who spoke, on this Bill have genuflected piously before the citizen’s right to dissent and to express that dissent, by the process of peaceful assembly. But if the Government sincerely held this view it would have directed its attention to one of the most glaring gaps in our legal structure - namely, the absence of any constitutional guarantee of the right of freedom of speech of peaceful assembly. This gap has been referred to already by Senator Wheeldon who cited the American Bill of Rights as an example df a positive’ charter for dissenters. It. is always assumed that we have these rights, but the fact is that there is no law and ho constitutional guarantee that we have a right of freedom of speech and a peaceful assembly. An eminent judge of the Supreme- Court of New South Wales, Mr Justice Hope, has put this matter in its true light. His Honor has written:
When one looks at the law iri Australia in relation to the right of public assembly, and I have taken- the law in New South Wales - as a sample because it is best known to me, it seems to be, in. form, restrictive to an intolerable degree. What should be a right turns out to be entirely dependent upon the uncontrolled and unreviewable discretion of some official or other, the exercise of the discretion often being based on a selection of causes as being good or bad.
Mr Justice Hope also referred to numerous statutory provisions and regulations which fetter or restrict the right in a ‘ variety of ways. Obstruction, of traffic, vehicular of pedestrian, is prohibited by a great number of statutes and regulations. It is almost inevitable that public meetings or demonstrations will cause such obstruction and, when they do, no matter what the purpose of the meeting or demonstration and no matter how the demonstrators conduct themselves, this in itself constitutes an offence and the participants may be arrested by the police.. Surely nobody in this chamber sincerely doubts that the police use this power selectively. We do not hear of people being arrested for blocking the streets during a visit by the Pope or the Queen or while disporting themselves at some of our regional mardi gras such as the Moomba festival or the Waratah festival, while the drunken excesses of Anzac Day are evidently sanctified by patriotism: But it is quite different when the public demonstration is disapproved of by the police, goaded on by their own prejudices or inflamed by the media or sooled on by some politician who is looking for an electoral law and order issue, such as Mr Askin was doing at the time of the last Moratorium demonstration.
The law as it exists already, without any additional enactments by this Parliament, is heavily weighted against demonstrators. I suspect that many members of the Government parties believe that this is as it should be. If they do believe in the right to dissent, they believe it should be exercised in a tame, discreet and almost invisible way which ignores the very meaning of the word ‘demonstration’, the purpose pf which is to draw the attention of as many people as possible to the viewpoint of the demonstrators. I am confirmed in this view of the way honourable senators opposite regard the - right to demonstrate by a remark that was made by one of the speakers of the Government in the other place when he pointed, as an example of an acceptable demonstration, to the Quakers who sometimes demonstrate outside this House. Surely this merely proves my point because I would make bold to claim that not many members of Parliament, let alone the public at large, even know that the Quakers are there.
I find it ironical that so many people who deplore apathy are appalled by commitment. The fact that people, especially the young, feel strongly enough about public issues to want to proclaim their opinions publicly in the streets is something which should be applauded by those who care for the health of democracy, not whittled down further as is proposed by this Bill. To seek to make the lot of the demonstrator more difficult and to call that exercise ‘striking a balance between freedom and order’, as the Minister put it, is in my view hypocritical in the ‘ extreme. This Bill reflects all the distaste which is felt by the old, the smug and the cynical for the young, the idealistic and the non-conformist. A true synthesis of law and order would require that the emphasis in this Bill should be the other way; that is, in the direction of spelling out specific rights of dissent and public assembly.
It is interesting to note, Mr Acting Deputy President, that when the Common wealth Crimes Act was first framed some 37 years ago an attempt was made to spell out, admittedly in too vague and unspecific a way, the citizen’s right to dissent. Tha original Act was passed in 1914, when, as honourable senators will recall, this country was in a state of war. Section 24a (2.) of that Act contained these words: .
It shall be lawful for any person -
It should be clear that we have gone backwards since then because when the Crimes Act .was amended in 1960 the section I just read was omitted from the Act and was replaced by the present section 24p which, in place of the permissive words ‘itshall be lawful for any person’ to do tha things I enumerated, contains the exclusive words ‘Nothing in the preceding provisions of this Part makes it unlawful for a person’ to do much the same sort of things.
This is not a mere technical distinction.’ The Act, as originally framed, spelt out positive rights, not adequately, not as wa would like them spelt out, but at least in a’ way which indicates that the legislature of 1914, when this country was in a state of war, had a more libertarian approach to civil rights than this Government had in 1960, when the Act was amended, when we were in a state of peace, or has in 1971 when we are still, technically at least, not at war. I would remind honourable senators that we are not formally, technically at war in Vietnam. The Act as it stands at present merely states that certain actions are not crimes merely because of certain preceding provisions in the Crimes Act. But in the absence of positive safeguards of liberty, this does not prevent the Parliament from making these actions crimes in a subsequent provision in the Crimes Act or in another Act, such as the one for which we now have a Bill before us. In the light of this history it can hardly be claimed that freedom in this country is marching forward with giant strides.
It should not be beyond the wit of man to . frame laws stating positively the rights pf freedom of expression. His Honor, Mr Justice Hope, who I quoted previously, suggested, for example, that there should be a positive right to distribute leaflets and a positive right of public assembly, with the onus placed on the police to . justify in a court of law any prohibition or limitation of this right. I repeat: It is a nice exercise in hypocrisy for the Minister to claim that this Bill draws a clear and sensible line between freedom and order. It leaves freedom in its present legal straitjacket in fact it has tightened it up a little; it -will not strengthen order because bad legislation does not have that effect.
In addition, this Bill. is. totally unnecessary. Has the Government produced any evidence that offences against public order are going unpunished because of the inadequacy of existing laws? Let us look at the Bill a little more closely. Part II of. the. Bill is designed to deal with assemblies involving violence or the apprehension of violence in a Commonwealth territory or on Commonwealth premises. It is suggested that the existing law is silent or inadequate on these subjects? What breaches of public order have occurred in the Australian Capital Territory which the Police. Offences Ordinance or the Crimes Act have been inadequate to deal with? What offences have occurred on Commonwealth premises outside the Territory which the Crimes Act or the State laws have been unable to cope with? The previous speaker referred to the doubt which had been cast by a High Court decision early last year on the applicability of State laws to Commonwealth premises. But honourable senators will recall that this doubt was removed by the passage in this Parliament last November of the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act. The State police have more power than they need to cope with any disturbance of the peace on or in the vicinity of Commonwealth premises outside Commonwealth territory.
In his second reading speech there was only one aspect of the existing law which the Minister named specifically as being inadequate, and this also was referred to by the previous speaker. The Minister claimed that the law presently available to deal with persons taking part in sit-in demonstrations in Commonwealth premises is inadequate to control this sort of behaviour. This is simply not true. The law of trespass is available, as well as all the dragnet provisions under the State laws, covering offensive behaviour, disorderly conduct and so on, which the police know only too well how to use. There are also specific offences under the Crimes Act which could be called in aid in certain circumstances. Without going into any detail I would merely draw the attention of honourable’ senators to sections 29, 30K and 89 of the Crimes Act; As far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned, there is, of course, ample, power to deal with- sit-ins in section 24B- of the Police Offences Ordinance.
Part III of the Bill contains provisions for the protection of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel:’ Let there be no doubt that the Opposition fully supports the traditional sacrosanctity of diplomatic persons and places. But here again this, Bill is totally , unnecessary. . In his second reading speech, the. Minister mentioned Australia’s obligations under the Vienna Convention of 1961 , on diplomatic relations. As was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in the debate on this Bill in the other House, this Convention was ratified by this Parliament in 1967 and the text of the Convention appears in the Schedule to the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967. In the debate on that Bill in 1967 not one Government supporter suggested that any legislation was necessary- to ‘ protect diplomatic missions.
What has happened since to make the present legislation necessary? There have been attacks on diplomatic missions and consular posts in Australia and arrests have been made and charges preferred in respect of some of those, attacks. In his speech the Minister gave ito instances tending to show that the existing laws are not adequate for the protection of missions in this country. The provisions in Part III of the Bill are just’ so much legal surplusage. But because they are unnecessary it does not follow that they are harmless and that we should not worry about them, for terms are smuggled into these clauses which, though quite unnecessary for the protection of diplomatic personnel, can be construed by a court in such a way as to impose intolerable burdens on Australian citizens expressing their disapproval or abhorrence of the policies of foreign governments.
I do not wish to anticipate the detailed discussion of this Bill in. the Committee stage, but i would like to. refer briefly to some of the dangerously vague terms that the Bill seeks lo. import into our laws. For’ example,, clause 18 makes it an offence, to behave iri an ‘insulting’ way to a protected person; that is, diplomats, consuls, etc. What is insulting? Almost anything could be called insulting. For example, someone might take the view that the Soviet Union’s treatment of lews is similar to the treatment meted eat by the Nazis and might give a Nazi salute, to a visiting. Soviet diplomat. Shook! such conduct place him at risk of a $230 fine or 3 months in gaol? ‘
One of the more far-fetched observations of the Minister is. that this’ Bill provides ‘objective criteria’ for determining’ whether an offence has been committed. In fact, the Bill is studded with terms so vague as to make its construction by a court almost a game of chance. A ‘reason-, able’ apprehension of violence’ by a sergeant of police who may, according to his conditioning, regard any youth without a short up the back and sides’ haircut as a menace to society is not my idea of an objective criterion. On last Moratorium Day in Sydney I saw police practising brutal, unprovoked aggression on peaceful demonstrators and even on people, who were not taking part in the demonstration but who merely became caught up in it. This, in fact, happened to one of my family. Doubtless the police would justify their actions on the ground that these people were creating ‘unreasonable obstruction’, which is a term enshrined in clause 9 of this Bill.
The word ‘vicinity’- crops up. in several clauses dealing, with protected persons - that is, consuls, diplomats, etc- and pro tected premises. How far one has to be from a place or a person to be ‘in the vicinity’ is anybody’s guess. On my reading of clause 5, if an anti-apartheid meeting were being held in Moore Park, Sydney, while the South African Consul-General was watching his countrymen play cricket at the Sydney Cricket Ground, that meeting could fall within the provisions of the Bill. There is also a curiously vague use of the term ‘person’ in clauses 8 and 17. . These clauses make it lawful for ‘a person* to use what he believes to be reasonable force to disperse an assembly after a sergeant of police has issued a direction to disperse. Note carefully that it is ‘a per« son’, .not a law enforcement officer, who is. given this right. The members of the local, Nazi party who took it upon themselves to attempt to disperse anti-apartheid demonstrators at the Mascot Airport recently’ undoubtedly would applaud these clauses’ of the Bill, under which their thuggery could be legalised. I. have pointed to these vague and imprecise terms in the . Bill . to rebut the Minister’s claim that the Bill clearly and sensibly’, to use his words.” draws the line between freedom and order. These terms are not clear, and they are therefore not sensible.
Finally, I should like to make it plain that I am not advocating that violent demonstrations should be tolerated by the community. The right that I am upholding is the right of peaceful assembly. It can be taken for granted that in a period of rapidly* changing values such as the present one there will be no shortage of public assem’blies and demonstrations which will arouse conflicting reactions and emotions in our citizens according to their moral and political positions on the issues of the day. Whether these demonstrations will be peaceful or violent will depend, above all, on the wisdom and clarity of our laws. As I have pointed out, our laws on public assembly and demonstration are already too wide and too vague. There are already too many such laws. Public order is not enhanced by creating new offences where there are already too many offences. The task of law enforcement officers - an onerous one in any circumstances - is notmade easier by importing the vague terminology which I have instanced. - I believe that the real threat to law and order comes from intolerant over-reaction by traditionalists and defenders of the status quo rather than from dissenters, even wrong-headed dissenters, who wish to speed up the process of change. Tolerant laws, including positive statements of the right of peaceful assembly protected by the law, in my view will do more to prevent violence than will Bills such as the one we are considering. Even the Minister and the previous speaker, Senator Hannan, conceded that matters had not got out of hand and that there was no need for the enactment of repressive measures. This admission surely prompts the question: Why do we need this Bill? The clear answer is that we do not need it at all. It should be rejected by the Senate.
– I must congratulate Senator James McClelland, who has just delivered his maiden speech, on the ability and eloquence with which he made his first appearance as a speaker in this chamber. Naturally, I do not agree, with his attitude to this Bill; but I must say that I last heard him speak nearly 20 years ago when, with ability and eloquence, he was defending individuals against interference with their rights by the Communist Party, and I am glad to see that he still has the ability and eloquence that he showed on that occasion.
This Bill is described as a public order Bill and a Bill for the protection of persons and property. Generally, people in both Houses are speaking of it as a law and order Bill. I believe that is a good name for it. However, I am somewhat surprised at the attitude towards the words Jaw and order which has been demonstrated in both Houses by speakers from the Australian Labor Party. One might almost come to the conclusion that they regard ‘law and order’ as dirty words. If that is so, I disagree with them. I think members of the community regard them as very important words.
Senator Wheeldon suggested that we could take the result of a State election for Georges River in New South Wales as an indication of the people’s attitude to this kind of measure. That election was won narrowly by the Australian Labor Parry, but it has been pointed out to me that in that same election the Democratic Labor Party very strongly fought the issue on the question of law and order and, although its vote was not large, it was double what it had been previously. I want to point out that in the Senate election which was held last year the Democratic Labor Party put law and order in the forefront of its policies and received the highest vote that it had ever received in its history. My Party is never afraid to fight an election upon the question of law and order and I challenge the Australian Labor Party to defend in an election the kind of action by demonstrators that has resulted in this kind of legislation being introduced.
– Put in those arrows from China. That will fix them.
– That is a typical remark from the mountebank of the Senate. In his policy speech Senator Gair put the issues strongly. He said the big issues were those of responsibility in Government, responsibility in Opposition and responsibility in society. He said no-one could escape his parliamentary duty, no institution could avoid its obligation and that those entrusted with public duty must not allow rightful and legitimate authority to be destroyed - otherwise our society will collapse in anarchy. The Democratic Labor Party has put its case on this . question in these words:
We . . . affirm the right of Australian citizens to demonstrate, provided they obey the law.
We affirm the right of Australian citizens and organisations to protection of their persons, their property and their civil rights from interference by alleged demonstrators.
I should like to hear more on that issue from the Opposition. The Democratic Labor Party’s case continues:
We affirm the obligation of Australian governments and other authorities, including universities, to fearlessly deal with unauthorised or illegal demonstrations or actions on the basis that all citizens are equally subject to the law.
I stress the words ‘all citizens’. My Party will support the Bill, but we propose to deal with it from 2 points of view. I have been asked by my Party to demonstrate the need for this legislation. Senator Byrne will deal with the specific legal provisions and will examine whether those provisions are adequate or necessary in order to ensure that the law will be observed. On the first question whether it is necessary to have legislation such as this, there has been great play on the need for the right of assembly. Everybody concedes that, but what is needed today is protection of the rights of those in the community who are not demonstrating against those who are demonstrating.
Let us consider one case that has been mentioned, the attempt to move into the offices of the Department of Labour and National Service, to lie on the floor and to demonstrate inside those public offices. Citizens have the right to go to government offices on normal business and no demonstrator has the right to interfere with entry to those offices or the use’ of those offices by the administrators of the Commonwealth or by people who desire to seek their services. I propose to refer to 2 particular instances in which I was concerned to show what is happening today. Some time ago the Young Labor Organisation in Victoria sought to hold a gathering at the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Flinders Street. Melbourne, and it was acceded that right. On the night in question persons who were present in order to demonstrate their disapproval of the Democratic Labor Party tore the plaques with the names of myself and Senator Little from the doors of our offices and took them away from the building.
– Apparently some young people there had a better attitude than Senator Mulvihill has towards what was done. A couple of days later a representative of the Young Labor Organisation came to my office and expressed his deep regret. He’ said that the action was unpardonable, that he regretted it and that his organisation was seeing that the signs involved were restored.
– Fair enough.
– Yes, fair enough, but some people here would be prepared to defend those who took away the plaques. When the apology was tendered I told the young man that in the circumstances I would make no official complaint. However, a couple of weeks later leaders of the demonstrator organisation at the Melbourne University, determined to blood, if that is the term, or to try out the new crop of students who had come from the high schools where they had been trained by the Students for a Democratic Society went to the city and put on a demonstration. In the usual manner they held a meeting with the adult organisers associated with this kind of thing and prepared their plan of operations. The Press received full details so that the television cameras would be set up and the pressmen would be there. This was no sporadic demonstration.
On that day, having prepared everything, they came to the Commonwealth Parliament Offices. They burst into the offices and the young woman who has the duty of speaking to people who come to visit members there was in a sadly shocked state after the whole event. These people, apparently having a plan of what they were to do, went straight in and straight up the stairs to the first floor, along the passage to my office and burst into my office. I was not present. About 30 of them burst into my office and told my secretary that if she got in the corner and kept out of the way she would not be hurt.
– Is this not covered by the existing law?
– I shall deal with that. Having ensconced themselves in my office they proceeded to examine my private papers. They used my telephone and they milled up and down. Senator Wheeldon thinks that this is funny because he knows that this will never happen to him as he is on their side. Having stayed there for some time they locked the door against the police and attendants who had come forward and eventually they made their way out of my office by climbing some scaffolding outside. The police were waiting for them and they were arrested. They claimed that they had legal advice that they had done nothing wrong.
– What was the outcome of the court case?
– They were then charged at the City Court on 3 counts, the first of which was for coming into my office illegally.
– And using the telephone.
– We have just heard from the second mountebank of the Senate, the man who went to Townsville to save the north of Queensland for the
Labor Party and it has net won a seat in the area since he went there. The 3 charges laid were for wrongly entering my office; assaulting the police; and resisting arrest. Although these men had come into my office without permission, threatened my secretary, examined my private papers and taken possession of my office they were discharged.
– That is covered by the law.
– If it is covered by the law, why were they found not guilty? My own opinion is - 1 think everybody knows it- that these people have been instructed by well known members of the legal fraternity and university lecturers who are skilled in the law on the actions that can be taken so that they do hot infringe the taw. lt is because these people have had skilled advice that they come to the courts time after time, and what happens? They are almost apologised to for having been brought there. On the occasion I have described the people charged were discharged on the count of coming to my office; they were discharged on the count of assaulting the police; and they were found guilty on the charge of resisting arrest. The penalty was such that if they would be good boys for 6 months nothing would ever happen to them.
– Were they put on a bond?
– Yes. They were put on a bond to be of good behaviour for 6 months, which means that at the end of 6 months they can take over my office, kick the police in the shins as they did then and they can resist arrest. Yet there are people here who say that that is all right. I say to any young people listening to my speech - 20 or 30 of them - that if they are opposed to the ALP views on Vietnam, according to what happened in my office and according to the defence being made out by the ALP, they are entitled to enter the office of an ALP member, order his secretary to one side and read his private papers. It seems that they are entitled to do all of those things because, the Opposition members who are now interjecting say that it is all right and nothing should be done legally to stop it from happening.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! I ask that the senator be heard in silence.
– It is amazing to me that people will defend demonstrators. When attempts are made to control them, such people will say: ‘Look, this is a police state’. Hitler ran a police state. Mao Tsetung is running a police state. Can honourable senators imagine what would happen if a number of students in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany or Red China entered the office of an administrator or a leader in the Government and performed as these people did? Is anyone here prepared to tell me that they would be discharged on 2 counts, found guilty oh 1 count and let off on a bond to be good boys for 6 months? Honourable senators know, what would happen. They would end up in a concentration camp and they would be there for years. That is a police state. People who talk about a police state in Australia demonstrate to the community their complete lack of responsibility. Any government has to stop such actions.
I demand that the Government protect the offices of members of Parliament. I demand that the Government take action to see that such acts are not permitted. I have a few words to say to people who tell us: ‘We cannot do this. We have to protect the right of assembly.’ Senator Little and 1 can remember the halycon days of the Victorian Trades Hall in 1945 when demonstrators, pleading the same right to demonstrate, burst into the Trades Hall carrying bludgeons, hammers and staves. They threatened to deal with delegates. They burst into the union offices. Did the Trades Hall authorities say on that occasion: Well, boys will be boys and we must protect their right of assembly. That is O.K.’? T will tell honourable senators what they did. For 6 years on Trades Hall Council meeting nights they closed the balcony of the Trades Hall and stationed uniformed policy on duty because they said it was the duty of the trade union movement to stop demonstrations from getting out of hand. What is the difference between that action and what the Government proposes to do?
Nowadays Mr Whitlam seems to be so often out of touch with other members of his Party, but I was pleased to read his defence of the right of diplomats in Australia to be protected from molestation. I thought it was a good thing and 1 agree with him that irrespective of whether a diplomat comes from Russia or Yugoslavia he ought to be protected.
– Hear, hear.
– But we differ in that I think a diplomat who comes from South Africa ought to be protected but you do not.
– What has happened to a diplomat from South Africa?
– I read with interest in the Press of a call by an ALP member of the other House on his colleagues to join with him “in a cavalcade of cars to the South’ African Embassy where they were to sound their horns and create a public nuisance. That concerns diplomats from South Africa. 1 have also read about people waiting in cars outside the South African Embassy. When a diplomat from South Africa leaves the Embassy they follow him in a cavalcade of cars. We station policemen at considerable personal inconvenience night after night to protect the Soviet Embassy. I would like to hear members of the Australian Labor Party equally eloquent in saying that irrespective of whether they agree with the political views of a government, its representatives are entitled to courtesy and in Australia they will get it.
– That is an endorsement of Whitlam’s policy.
– If you disagree with the Whitlam policy that is your privilege. I would only comment that in your Party if you disagree with his policy you will have plenty of mates. I want now to refer to the case of an ambassador in Brisbane. Apparently at the request of some students he went along to address them. He was not only molested but also ill treated. I think it is time for the community to take a stand on this kind of action. In this connection I was interested to read that the well known cartoonist A1 Capp was invited to Princeton University, where demonstrations are favoured, to take part in a seminar for an honorarium of $800. He wrote back and said that his fee was $3,500, plus an extra $1,000 as combat pay to attend that kind of a university. Capp said that Princeton is dedicated to training sub humans. He went on:
When I believe schools get rid of presidents who do not know how to tame the animals they breed and when they are replaced as they must be by retired brigadier generals, when beasts no longer roam the university campuses but are locked in cages, then and not till then will any sane man accept an invitation from that type of university..
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that under the terms of the Crimes Act Senator McManus is reflecting on an allied power; namely,’ the United States of America. He is committing an offence under the Crimes Act and should be dealt with by the Chair.
– I was possibly misled by the lengthy and eloquent remarks of Senator Wheeldon when he attacked Vice-President Agnew of the United States of America.
-I ask the honourable senator to read the remarks again. We missed some of them.
-I shall simply say again that he said: .
When I believe schools get rid of presidents who do not know how to tame the animals they breed and when they are replacedas they must be by retired brigadier generals, when beasts no longer roam the university campuses but are locked in cages, then and not till then will any sane man accept an invitation fromthat type of university.
– Could the honourable senator read it again so that we will understand it?
– I have read the article twice. If it has not permeated, that is the honourable senator’s fault. This is (he kind of Bill which ought to be examined from the point of view of the big public issues involved. I am surprised at the attitude of some people who launch into a tirade to the effect that Australia is a police state, that we are going to take away the right of assembly and all that kind of nonsense.
– You have taken it away.
– I hope we will take away the right Of people to assemble in places where they have no authority to be, such as the honourable senator’s office and my office. Senator lames McClelland made a good point when he said that, in some degree, this is a reaction, lt is a reaction to wrongful action and in any community when people act wrongfully the community will protect itself. The old Latin maxim salus populi est suprema lex’ still holds good. Therefore I support this Bill. It is a Bill which would never have been introduced if it had not been for the activities of people who claim to have special privileges and the right to defy the law. I would like to hear whether the Australian Labor Party defends the right of people who have no authority to invade the rooms of honourable senators, take possession of them, use the facilities and read private papers. If it defends that kind of action then obviously this law is more necessary than ever,
– First of ali I want to join in extending congratulations to Senator James McClelland on his maiden speech in this chamber. It was a scholarly exposition of the weaknesses of this legislation. I venture to say that from the manner in which the honourable senator stated the facts in this chamber tonight we can expect to hear many good speeches from him in future days in the Senate. I join with the honourable senator in saying that the Bill is totally unnecessary. For the purpose of the exercise I point out that the Bill is entitled:
A Bill for an Act Relating to the Preservation of Public Order in Certain Territories of the Commonwealth and in respect of Commonwealth Premises and the Premises and Personnel of Diplomatic and Special Missions, Consular Posts and International Organisations.
I want to refer to a number of points which I think are pertinent to the debate. It might be appropriate if I make some reference to Senator McManus, the honourable senator who has just resumed his seat. By way of interjection he used the word ‘mountebank’ when referring to members of the Opposition. Perhaps we could call the honourable senator a calumnicetor, a detractor and a person who indulges in malicious slander. He claimed that support in the electorate for the policy of his organisation was based on law and order. It think it is significant that this was a very small part of the policy of his organisation in the election to which he reffered Then the honourable senator complained about some youngsters who misused his telephone, read one of bis pri vate letters - probably one of his bills - sat on the floor of his office and, he alleges, kicked a policeman in the shins. He complained because these young people were released on a 6-months bond.
– His secretary was intimidated which I think is rather important.
– I suggest that if Senator Rae has anything to say he might use his time in this debate to expound his views. In the meantime I will- expound mine. I assume from the statements made by the previous speaker that his desire was to see these people with a sentence of 5 years in gaol or, better still, consigned to a concentration camp. He must remember that the people who annoyed him in this way were representing those whom for 5 years, 10 months, 1 week and 2 days in this chamber he has sent to Vietnam. The honourable senator has played his role in that.
– Does the honourable senator know, who they were? How does he know them so well?
– Some of those who were sent to Vietnam will never return to this country because they are no longer alive. I suggest that Senator Rae, as a member of the Reserve who has never seen a shot fired in anger, ought to hold his peace on occasions such as this. When he comes into this chamber wearing his jungle greens with the Vietnam ribbon I shall listen to him with great respect. Until then I have nothing but contempt for his views on this matter. These were the people who were endeavouring to speak for the tens of thousands of Australians who were unable to speak on their own behalf. The speaker prior to Senator James McClelland was a member of the Liberal Party, Senator Hannan. A few weeks ago he made a speech in this chamber calling for greater strength of Australian representation in Vietnam. He made garbled remarks concerning the Moratorium. I think the words he used were ‘quaintly called the Moratorium’. He referred to hoodlums on Commonwealth property. With all due respect, the people who have been forced to do this sort of thing are not hoodlums. They are merely attempting to voice their democratic rights. Even under existing laws they have not been allowed to do that. If wa pass this Bill in toto we are going to further restrict the civil liberties of all Australians. If these laws are passed in toto they will be much more restrictive than the national security regulations under which this country operated in a time of total war.
Probably the Bill was born as the result of a nightmarish experience of the former Attorney-General who on a cool, calm Sunday afternoon was forced to wave a cricket bat. A few weeks ago we read that in. a moment of crisis, when Cabinet badly needed his advice, he dashed from the squash court - still carrying his squash racquet - into a Cabinet meeting. As far as I can ascertain that was the last time he appeared as a Minister at a Cabinet meeting. No doubt he was still waving his squash racquet as he walked out. It is significant that on a particular day as I was leaving this Parliament 2 ravens sat on the roof of the House of Representatives side of this Parliament cawing into the gathering dusk of the evening. Probably it was the death of civil liberty that they spoke about to the world. But the fundamentals of Australian society as we know it are freedom of. speech, which this Bill restricts, and freedom of assembly. This Bill goes a long way to completely suppress freedom of assembly.
– Can you explain how that happens?
– If the honourable senator from the Australian Country Party is incapable of reading the Bill for himself and incapable of carrying out his own analysis then I suggest with all respect that he may very likely be the first victim of this restrictive legislation.
– It is probably designed to stop the farmers demonstrating.
– As .my colleague has just reminded me, the words that I have spoken could quite possibly be true. It is known that militant farmers in Australia in their tens of thousands have marched on Parliament Houses. They have marched through cities and streets without permits to march. I suggest to Senator Webster that while he muses amongst his mooing cows and listens to the rabbits gnawing on the clover he might. very well be the first victim of this restrictive legislation as he leads his next farmers march. Another of the fundamental things is freedom of worship, and it is not impossible for an Attorney-General or a government with Fascist tendencies to distort this legislation in such a way as to prevent marches associated with religious worship. I have no doubt that this Government would be prepared to do that in particular circumstances, and in particular cases.- The former Attorney-General, the man of the famed cross cricket bat and squash racquet, in an address to- the third Young Liberal Convention said:
I go on to say without any hesitation that on several occasions during the past year;- ‘
He held this exalted office for a period of approximately 15 months -
I have delivered myself of my. views on the role of the Attorney-General in relation to the upholding of the law and the upholding of public order. If I may say so, I have been living abd living very anxiously from day to day with the task of determining whether, and if so in what cases, prosecutions ought to be instituted for alleged offences of incitement. I shall reiterate those views -with the indulgence of the Convention this morning because those views ought to be known and clearly understood. They are views which I stand by and stand by quite unapologetically, with all respect to anyone who may have. a contrary view.
I will quote 2 other relevant paragraphs from the same speech made to the assembly of Young Liberals:
The Attorney-General of- the day -in whatever government be may be occupies a curious position in that he is on the one hand a -politician and on the other hand he is the Sovereign’s agent to uphold the law. There may be .thought to be an essential inconsistency between these two positions and because that is so it is necessary always to keep separate and apart the two roles- politician and lawyer. It is essential not to allow one’s judgment to bc influenced in one’s role of Queen’s Agent - that is all the word ‘Attorney’ means - by political considerations.
I would like to suggest at this point that political considerations are the very basis upon which the Bill has been drafted. At that assembly a question was asked of the then Attorney-General in these words: 1 would like to ask the Minister, sir: The previous questioner made a point of these loopholes and he gave us the assurance that these loopholes were not being , left in the law whereby people can sign statements of this nature and seemingly get away with it. You have given us your assurance that these loopholes have not been left in for political -purposes. Accepting this sir, when can we see these loopholes closed?
This was the question asked by one of the young Turks of the Liberal Party. Obviously he had never been to Vietnam but was making sure that all his brothers and mates went. He was seeking help from the then Attorney-General. I suggest that this is an historic document because it was one of the last public statements made by the then Attorney-General. This was his reply to the question:
If I conveyed the impression that I was admitting that these are loopholes in this particular area of the taw, then I have conveyed the. wrong impression. What i have tried to say is this: The law is there.
Yet we are bow introducing another Bill to close these loopholes which the AttorneyGeneral of the day said did not exist.. He. went on to say: ft is an intelligible law but it is not always easy, indeed lt is ‘sometimes very difficult to gel the evidence which, is required to found a successful prosecution The difficulty lies not from loopholes in the law but i from the exercise by the citizens who ase approached by the police for interrogation’ of their right - and it is a cherished right under oar system . of law, that nobody is obliged to incriminate lt in self. . .
Yet Senator McManus wanted .these youngsters who came in and illegally used his telephone - to incriminate themselves, and he would have been perfectly happy. There is one sentence of the former AttorneyGeneral with which I agree- com,pletely ‘We cannot take away this fundamental freedom’. The then AttorneyGeneral continued:
Now if what is proposed in the minds of some people bete is that the law ought to be altered to do away with that right - not to incriminate yourself when ashed questions by the police - if that’s what’s in people’s minds, let them follow through in their own minds the implications as these implications are pretty serious. I think that very careful thought would have to be given to any proposal that the law should be altered so as to require people to incriminate themselves in answers to questions. It has been done sometimes, it has been done during war-time in defence emergency legislation. All I ask you is to ponder the consequences of effecting or seeking to effect such a change in the law. It is not quite as easy as you may think.
I have been preceded in this debate by highly qualified lawyers, but as a layman I believe that there are certain aspects of this legislation which will take away the very right that was spoken of so glowingly by the former Attorney-General. We already have enough laws to control any lawlessness or alleged lawlessness in this country. Most of the legislation is aimed at those who protest against the provisions of the National Service Act. But under the National Service Act itself young men can be charged for not registering. The penalties are severe. In fact, one of the penalties, as stated by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) quite recently - I think it was at the time of the last ballot - was that if a person fails to register he may be called up immediately without the right to take part in the ballot. Young people can be charged for refusing to have a medical examination. Again the penalty is severe. Young people can be charged for not reporting after they have registered, after their death marble has been drawn and after they have undergone their medical examination. People who have not registered can be charged for incitement, and there is a lot of hoo-ha about this too, particularly if they are themselves eligible to register and have incited others not to register.
Once called up, having complied with all the other laws, one becomes subject to the very harsh military laws that govern and are used as an umbrella for discipline in all Service establishments. But the law goes further than this. It forbids a layman - this is where the layman is most affected when this provision is supplemented by State legiT station, as it is. in three States in this nation - the right to carry placards. It for bids him the right to carry placards of a certain size, if a permit is granted under State legislation to carry specified types of placards. He can be forbidden, with one law supplementing the other, the right to hold a meeting or the right of assembly. He is forbidden the right to congregate to tell his friends, his supporters and those who may have cause to support him the issues which are under discussion or which, are subject to disagreement. It forbids him the right to march in a procession. The Crimes Act is already very sweeping in its cover, and it can be made to apply to cover almost every situation where some danger to the community may be possible.
The Commonwealth Police have the right to interrogate. I do not blame any Commonwealth policeman for carrying out his duty; he is expected to do this and in fact he is caused to do it because of directions that come from the hierarchy. He may never lay a charge, but the person who happens to be interrogated may live under the cloud for many months or years. Of course, this may be construed as a form of intimidation. Then we go into the field of the workers under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the current controversy as to whether or not certain fines will be applied. The penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are completely harsh. But they are much harsher when applied to the worker than they are when applied to the employer. But we do not see the same anxiety on behalf of the Government to bring in supplementary legislation to enlarge the powers of the Trade Practices Act. We have heard a lot of noise from the House of Representatives .over the last year or two about bringing in legislation to protect the offshore areas of this country, but we do not see any suggestion that any of the laws are likely to be implemented, because they will restrict the business freedoms of some of the friends of the Government. The Australian Labor Party has written into its platform a very positive policy on civil liberties. It is this policy that the Australian Labor Party will exercise at the end of the term of this Government, whether it be in 6 months time, at the end of this year or in 1972. The platform of the Australian Labor’Party states:
The Constitution to be amended to provide for the protection of fundamental- civil rights and liberties.
The Commonwealth and State parliaments to pass Acts providing for human rights and civil liberties, and to take all possible legislative and administrative action and judicial proceedings to prevent infringement of such rights and liberties and in particular to prevent discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, sex, creed or politics.
Australia to pass laws and to press for world wide and regional implementation of international covenants on human rights. The States also to pass any laws necessary for such implementation. - An administrative court of appeals to review administrative decisions, and in particular, to review at the instance of any adversely affected citizen or migrant any decision alleged to be made on security grounds, and to lay down regulations governing the conduct of members of ASIO and other security organisations and to hear, determine and report to Parliament on the breach of any such regulations.
That will be in splendid contrast to the position as we know it today. At present there is a special branch of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation working with cloak and dagger secrecy and no man’s life is private, no home is private and no telephone is private. This is what is called ‘Laura Norder’. The Australian Labor Party, as a government, will also ensure the following:
The right to privacy to be protected by Commonwealth and State laws and vigilant administration of those laws. The Commonwealth and States to pass laws prohibiting the use of any device for the invasion of privacy and’ to include postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services.
In any civil or criminal proceeding no-one to be compelled to incriminate himself and no party or witness to be subjected to anything calculated to impair his dignity.
Trial by jury lo be preserved and extended as far as practicable in all serious civil and criminal cases.
In conclusion, 1 would say that this Bill has been born of panic. The Government fears public reaction and the protest of the multitude outside of this chamber. In order to preserve itself from public “criticism the Government has found it necessary to bring in restrictive laws qf, this nature. Senator Hannan referred in disparaging terms to the moratorium- campaigns last year. These campaigns will be Seen again this year. On 30th June of this year this country anil every other free country in the world will see a mass demonstration of resentment against the laws’ that commit or compel young men to be murdered in Vietnam. The Government- will use the provisions of this ‘ legislation as far as it can to restrict this moratorium campaign. Whether it is a demonstration against war, against the raw deal being received by primary producers in this ‘ country or against a raw deal in the field’ of restriction of worship, the Government will use the provisions of this Bill to its worst. I join with my colleagues who have spoken previously in this debate in saying thai this Bill is unnecessary, that it should’ never have been drafted and that it was drafted for the sole purpose of further restricting the civil liberties of every person in this country.
– The Bill before the Senate tonight is called the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill. I would draw the attention of the Senate to - the words which are in brackets. It seems incredible to me that it should be necessary in the society in which we live to write those very, words into a piece of legislation. However, it would appear that there is a need foi special legislation of this nature for the protection of persons and property. In view of the concluding remarks of Senator Keeffe, who has just resumed his seat, it may well be that this, special legislation is necessary. I reject out of hand Senator Keeffe’s suggestion that this Bill is born of panic. After saying that this Bill was born of panic Senator Keeffe proceeded to threaten not only the Senate but also the Australian community that a whole lot of moratoriums and mass demonstrations later on this year would prevent worthy citizens from getting into their own homes send offices or going about their lawful occupations and undertakings. I know what I am talking about in this regard. I have battled my way through mobs in the streets of Adelaide. These mobs have had no reason at all to be there save to satisfy their own desire completely to impede society, disrupt the community and disorganise the lives of freedom loving citizens. This is a disgraceful and reprehensible practice. Despite this fact we find that Senator Keeffe has threatened that an attempt will be made to impede and destroy the very basic features that . make up our civilisation. I say that the Bill was not born of panic; it was born of necessity. The Bill was devised to enable people to go about their own business, express their own wishes and to indulge in the freedom of the society which they, like the rest of us, have a reason to expect. This legislation is to be implemented to enable these people to do these sorts of things.
At the outset of my remarks I want to reject completely the disgusting and reprehensible statements of Senator Keeffe. Having disposed of that, I wish to refer to the fact that in this very important debate which is before the Senate tonight we have had the benefit of a maiden speech by Senator James McClelland. I want to offer my congratulations to him. All honourable senators have had to make a maiden speech and therefore know all that such a speech means. We all share in the congratulatory opinions that have been expressed by other speakers who have taken part in that debate. I move into this sphere with readiness and sincerity because from the viewpoint of his political philosophy, from his own experience and from the experience which obviously other honourable senators have had, Senator James McClelland has given us a well studied and documented approach to this very important measure. Because it is an important measure he has taken the trouble of making a complete, detailed and genuine study of the Bill. It was he who said, amongst other things, that he did not think the Bill was necessary. I beg leave at this point to take issue with him on this matter. This aspect was highlighted by Senator Keeffe’s comments earlier. It is important to note that all discussions pertaining to this legislation on law and order and the community reaction to it have undergone a series of what I will call developing emphasis in recent times. Gallup polls are not a bad guide on this sort of thing. Some honourable senators may remember that in November of last year a gallup poll was conducted concerning law and order, which is the subject of discussion in this Bill. The query put to the group of people in the community that the gallup poll surveyed was whether we need stronger laws for controlling demonstrators or we have enough laws for controlling demonstrators. The demonstrators are, of course, the key part of law and order. In the replies that - were given 66 per cent of those people who were surveyed said that we needed stronger laws to maintain law and order while only 29 per cent believed that we have enough’ laws. This developing process iri the community has found expression in the public media. If one looks at a selection of newspaper headings which appeared at the time this Bill was introduced in the other place, one gets some idea of the community response. One Sydney newspaper described the Bill as ‘a new Bill to curb civic lawlessness’. This is an admission by a responsible newspaper that there is a quantity of civic lawlessness. The article continued: The day of the yahoo is over’. Here was a response from a Sydney newspaper. Another ran a headline which stated: ‘Tough new Bill will mean gaol for demonstrators’. This was an admission that at long last the Bill would provide for some ordering of society and for some protection of people who needed protection. A third, which looked very closely at the details of the Bill - and a very important feature of the Bill is that its details have been updated - described the Bill as ‘throwing out the legal lumber*. Anybody who has read the Minister’s speech will remember that the Minister, in presenting the Bill to Parliament, indicated that the Bill was being updated and that certain antiquated and anachronistic elements were being removed so that new clauses and new concepts could be brought into it because, quoting another newspaper headline, ‘the new Bill updates the public order and law legislation’.
The regulation and discipline of society stem inevitably from parliamentary interest, governmental activity and political activity, but when any person or any group offends against the State, against society, against individuals or against property - we have seen far too much of this kind of offence against the State, against society, against individuals and against property in recent times - people rightly expect that the Government should respond. Honourable senators opposite are justifying and endorsing people who offend against law and order. They are endorsing the fact that people offend against human life, human kind and human flesh. The people rightly expect the Government to take some action. They rightly demand that the Government do something about-protecting the citizenry. This legislation is a response to this need in the community. If people are hurt, if property is smashed or if injury is inflicted, people expect governmental action and the political machines are expected to go into action. Unfortunately too many people such as those honourable senators opposite who are trying to interject equally expect that the Government might refrain from taking certain action. Evidence of those expectations has been given in the contributions that have been made by honourable senators opposite tonight. To meet these varying developments this was the phrase I used at the beginning of my remarks - and to pursue a line of responsibility, the Government has introduced this Bill. As the Minister said in his opening remarks:
The main objects of this Bill are to clarify, to simplify and, in important respects, to mitigate the severity of, the law concerning the assembly of persons in areas of Commonwealth legislative responsibility.
It is perfectly true to say that if any law is to be effective in regulating human conduct in situations that might be described as difficult, this law should be comprehensible not only to those to whom it is directed but - and more importantly, if I might say so - also to those who have the responsi 12668/71- 3”- t*5j bility for administering this law. In a democracy, as everybody has said tonight, every citizen should be free, but he should be free within limits imposed by laws that are designed to maintain a reasonable balance between conflicting interests. He should be free to give expression to his views or to his sentiments by the process of peaceful assembly. That is the kind of expression one would expect in a ministerial statement. It is the kind of statement one would expect to read in a newspaper article. It is the kind of statement one might make in the course of a debate.
I warn honourable senators that to set the limits to which I have referred is a difficult task. Where there are competing interests, and where they are in sharp conflict, not only is the task delicate but also, as 1 said a moment ago, it is difficult It is the task and the responsibility of government - and of this Government in particular - to strike that balance and to draw that line. The line should be clearly and sensibly drawn. I submit to the Senate tonight that the balance has been struck fairly and that the line has been- drawn clearly. Throughout this community, as part of a kind of international reflection, we have had calls for law and order within our society. We respond to these calls for law and order. It must also be stated that all this enthusiasm for law and order should not be allowed to deteriorate into attacks upon the right to dissent. Nobody in this debate has as yet attacked the right to dissent, or will do so. Calls in support of the right to dissent, as the Minister pointed out in his speech, must be heeded, but they must never be allowed to deteriorate into attacks upon the rights and proper liberties of people. In a world such as that in which we live there cannot be absolute rights for people to assemble together or to roam without restriction or to go into premises that are lawfully and properly occupied by other people. Therefore this Bill, relating to the preservation of public order in Territories of the Commonwealth and in respect of Commonwealth premises and the premises and persons of special and diplomatic missions, consular posts or missions, makes a very sound and proper background to this piece of discipline which the Government has undertaken very realistically at this point of time.
The Bill removes a great deal of the old laws. I think honourable senators will recall the reference in the Minister’s speech to English statutes dating back to the 14th century, Australian colonial legislation and State legislation dating back a considerable time. For example, in South Australia, my home State, there are some English statutes which were passed in 1394, 1411 and years as far back as that which are still operative. The existing Australian law as to illegal assembly and riot differs from State to State. As honourable senators will recall the Minister’s speech, the present law is found partially in the common law and partially in old United Kingdom statute law of considerable antiquity, dating back to riot legislation of 1394 in the reign of Richard II. It is. perfectly necessary that this kind of anomaly should be repealed to make the legislation relating to Commonwealth activity realistic, up to date and contemporary. Then there is the related fact that the Bill makes uniform and accessible the law on public assembly and also the law on demonstrations as far as Federal Territories and Commonwealth properties are concerned. Until this measure was introduced, the law varied from State to State, and from Territory to Territory. It was scattered in a large number of statutes and ordinances. Anybody knows that this is a very inefficient and very ineffective way to go about things. I have been looking at the book entitled ‘Freedom in Australia’ by Enid Campbell and Harry Whitmore. In this work they strike the note which I mentioned a few moments ago. They said:
It will always be difficult to strike the balance between public order on the one hand and freedom of speech in public meetings on the other.
It is this grasping of the nettle, this preparedness to strike the balance, that is the keynote or the central feature of this Bill. It cannot be denied that the freedom to express individual opinions and ideas and to join with others in such an expression is a basic right in our democracy. Few citizens would argue against this. A democratic society such as we pride ourselves upon must involve freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to express opinions and, where relevant, to criticise the authorities of the day. These broad and oft repeated statements are very acceptable. Everybody subscribes to them.
I go on and point out that if these statements, which I would describe not as statements but as principles, are accepted, they carry heavy responsibilities and obligations. If we indulge ourselves in the freedoms to which I have referred and if we are prepared to pay even lip service to the fact that they carry responsibilities, of necessity these responsibilities involve some restrictions. These restrictions are essential in the interests of national freedom, national security, public safety and public order and even go as far as the safeguarding of public health and protecting the rights of others.
I referred earlier in my speech to public demonstrations such as the moratoriums we have seen in our cities. I am very familiar with the one that took place in Adelaide. I remember again the sense of horror I felt at the outbreak of violence and clashes with the police. I take time now to pay a high tribute to the police of Australia. I speak with knowledge of the situation in South Australia. The job done by our police forces in protecting the public and maintaining public order and the rights and freedom of the people is highly commendable. I think we should place it on record in this Parliament. I despise those who would undermine our society by the attacks they make upon the police who endeavour to preserve the rights and freedoms of our people.
I am looking at one or two of the details dealt with in the Bill. One clause relates to assemblies where people might have or might use weapons. The Bill aims also at discouraging people from sitting in buildings, whether public or private, where they have no right to be, and at ensuring that those people leave if required to do so. I draw attention to the fact that this Bill accepts the right of citizens to engage in assembly and procession but not where such things will result in persistent occupation or in preventing reasonable access to public thoroughfares and public buildings. The Government believes in upholding the rule of law by which this protection is provided both for the individual and for property. It also believes in the right of legitimate protest this is inherent in the Bill within the limits outlined. It also emphasises the need to strike that balance between the right of protest and the maintenance of public order:
The quickest way to lose freedom is to bring the law into disrepute, to cast aspersions on the administration of justice and to hinder the law. Democracy must ensure that the right to change the law is maintained but the claim that freedom depends on breaking the law must be rejected completely.
I refer now to the protection which this Bill provides for what may be called the diplomatic community within our midst. We have seen enough incidents and events within the last few weeks to recognise here again the necessity for a measure such as this. We may have differing opinions on the administrations of other countries and about the way they interpret their form of government, but we have no right to deny the freedom of people who are in our country representing, governments that we recognise. We have no right to interfere with their freedom as they lawfully go about their lawful occupations. We have no right .to disturb the wives and families of diplomats. Ignoring the diplomats themselves, who are prepared to undertake hazards in the course of their duties, we have no right to. disturb the wives and the children during the long hours of the night. There is no reason at all for people to make offensive telephone calls to the wives and members of families of the diplomatic community, as has happened in this Canberra community in the last. few weeks. I hope that as we seek to interpret our international obligations relating to this matter and put this . Bill into effect we will remember that we are part of a world family of nations; that even though, in diplomatic language, we may have a difference with forms of government, at least we are prepared to respect the freedom of others just as much as we claim that our own. freedom should be respected. 1 want to finish my speech with my recollection of a quotation I heard on Anzac Day. This is not a bad time of the year for a Bill such as this to be discussed in this Parliament. Here in Canberra last Sunday morning, the Reverend J. R. Payne, of the British and Foreign Bible Society, when giving the address, said amongst other things: ‘Freedom is not free. It is bought at a price and it is maintained with a discipline. And the discipline, amongst other things, demands a respect for social order, a respect for the rights of people to move as they wish.’ After all, if we want to maintain freedom we need to maintain in our society the fact that freedom relies upon authority. We must have a concept of authority which gives us respect for authority. It is not sufficient merely to allow minority groups, simply because they may disagree with a form of authority, to impose their will and their inconvenience upon a law abiding majority. I am sure that this Bill will be passed and that it will be supported and endorsed by the community. As the Minister said in his speech:
It is a first duty of government to protect the citizen against violence, intimidation and crime, but law and order must be linked with moderation, liberty and justice.
Any study of the. Bill will prove that those facts are true.
– Firstly I add my congratulations to Senator Jim McClelland who tonight made his maiden- speech in the Parliament. I join with the previous speaker iri saying that making a maiden speech in the Parliament is a nervous experience for anyone. I think Senator^ Jim McClelland showed us tonight that he. has the qualifications to make many good contributions to debates in this Parliament. He- made an academic analysis of the” Bill which no-one has attempted to- criticise. He condemned the Bill clause by clause, showing that it is unnecessary in our community. Although every honourable senator since then has commended his speech, honourable senators on the Government side still support the Bill despite the fact that he said that it was unnecessary in our society. No-one destroyed his logic. It is obvious that honourable senators are bound by Party machines. There is no argument against his logic but Government supporters have to vote against it because numbers count, not logic.
The last speaker, Senator Davidson, tried to express a point of view but all he did was to cite newspaper editorials relating to this Bill. 1 do not know whether he claims that those editorials are greater authority than the logic we heard this evening in that maiden speech, together with the thought and training that went into it. The last speaker said that this was a Bill born of necessity. If honourable senators had listened to Senator McClelland’s speech they would see that there is no necessity for the Bill because there are sufficient laws in Australia to meet any contingency that may arise should someone trespass unlawfully on someone else’s property or should someone else interfere with someone else’s rights and liberties.
Necessity is not the reason for introducing this Bill. It was introduced in an endeavour to preserve this Government in office. This is of course, all-important. We remember how that leader in tactics, Sir Robert Menzies, always produced a Communist spy and said that his Government should be returned to office in order to protect the Australian community. Now the Government parties are endeavouring to create in the minds of Australian citizens the fear that they will have no security unless additional legislation is passed to ensure security, and that only this Government can formulate that legislation. The whole measure cannot be applied except with the authority of the Attorney-General. He has to make the decision and give permission for prosecution to take place. Like many other Commonwealth measures, it is doubtful that this one ever will be used. It has received some precedence in the legislative programme because the Government believes it is essential for its return to create fear. Everyone has forgotten that for 7 years we have been promised new workers compensation legislation. That legislation has been on the books now for 2 sessions, but it is to be debated after this Bill which was introduced this session. The creation of fear for the purpose of the preservation of the Government is more important to the Government than is the protection of the wives and children of injured workers.
There is an old adage that he who is least governed is best governed. The best Acts of any Parliament have on all occasions been Acts of repeal. In primitive society there were very few Acts of Parliament. Governments can justify legislation only if it is for the protection of some of their citizens against an act of another section of the community. We must remember that governments are not here as dictators or authoritarian administra tions. Governments are here as governments for the people. Their duty is to promote Acts of Parliament for the protection of people, not to imprison people. That is not the purpose of Acts of Parliament. They must be for the protection of people. No Act can be justified if it does not have that as its purpose.
We have to see whether it is necessary to give some protection by means of this law. No demonstration, unlawful act or wilful act against an Act of Parliament can command the respect of people. No requirement for a police force to enforce an Act of Parliament can enforce the respect of the citizen. We need an Act with great powers, as this Bill provides, only on those occasions on which there are Acts of Parliament which large numbers of citizens disregard and say are not fair Acts. Some Acts of Parliament have been put on the statute book mistakenly and even the police will not enforce them. In my State it was unlawful to serve liquor after 6 o’clock in the evening or on Sunday. But all the returned soldiers clubs and bowling clubs served liquor then and, although the police knew it, they took no action.
An Act which normal law abiding citizens will disobey in large numbers is not an Act worthy of policing. Therefore, while the Act involved there was an Act of a representative party, it was not one that could receive the respect of normal law abiding citizens. It was a bad Act. Until quite recently the running of a lottery or raffle was illegal in my State; but everyone ran them. I would have my doubts whether they were not run by the police association and many organisations with which that association was connected. Obviously that was a bad law which people did not respect. It could not obtain the respect of citizens. Therefore it was a law that should never be enforced.
We did not ever have a demonstration to an extent that caused anyone any concern or worry until 2 things occurred in the Federal Parliament. One was the introduction of the National Service Act. I have been connected with the peace movement ail my life and had tried to organise demonstrations, without receiving much support. That was the position until the introduction of the National Service Act under which 20-year-old kids are conscripted to go and fight in Vietnam. That is a law that has no respect in the Australian community. Everyone who has a concern about the enactment of bad laws has a duty to organise demonstrations against a bad law in the Australian community.
In Australia we did not ever have a demonstration large enough to cause any concern to the authorities, even when we entered Vietnam and even during the last 2 wars, until the introduction of the National Service Act which conscripted 20-year-old kids for a war in which they believed Australia had no right to be involved. That is the cause of the demonstrations. That is the cause of the desire to introduce this legislation rather than appreciate that we have on the statute book a law which should not be there, which normal law abiding citizens including secretaries of the youth league of the Liberal Party see fit to break and which normal law abiding young lads will not uphold. It is a bad law. We do not want repressive legislation; we want the repeal of that law.
The only other factor that is causing trouble is the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The penal provisions have been in existence for some considerable time, but they did not ever cause trouble until they were enforced. The right to strike has been a fundamental right of the working man throughout history, wherever there has been an industrial system. It is a light that will not be given up. To take away from the working people of Australia a fundamental right or birthright - namely, the right to give or to withhold one’s labour, which distinguishes the free man from the slave - is asking for demonstrations. The trouble cannot be cured by repressive legislation. When there is a bad law or a law against which normal law abiding citizens revolt, all the known repressive legislation in the world will not stop that revolt. Hundreds of citizens may be imprisoned - of course, there are limits to the number that can be imprisoned - but that will not stop the growing revolt against the bad law. On the figures supplied by the Attorney-General (Mr N. H. Bowen), we have reached the stage today where only some of those who have defied the National Service Act have been prosecuted.
– Who dennes a bad law?
– That is a question that is being raised continually in this chamber. What I say - I am supported in this view by the evidence given by the South Australian Police Commissioner to the liquor inquiry in that State - is that a law which a number of normal law abiding citizens will break is a bad law. With any law, there will be someone who will break it. But that is not an indication that it is a bad law. If I say that. I have the right to drive on the right hand side of the road when the law is that I must drive on the left hand side of the road, I am looking for trouble and I would be in isolation if I drove on the right hand side. But when the opposition to a law can attract the support that the Moratorium and the opposition to the penal powers have attracted, we know that that law is not for the benefit of Australia. Therefore, although the Government seeks to penalise someone by this law, we know that the law is wrong and that the solution of the problem is the repeal of the law.
Nothing has been put forward to meet the reason why people demonstrate. Today we are entering a stage in which opposition is expressed in demonstration rather than distribution of literature. Whether you like it or not, that is the method of opposition. We have reached an era in which people go in groups for the purpose of engaging in activities. This may be because of our better communications, because of our better transport system or because young people seek a let-out for their adventurism in group activities. It is far better to have these people demonstrating in the main street of a capital city or to have them sitting in the main street of a capital city than to have them gathering in groups to engage in thuggery and pack rape. This is what we are likely to achieve if we drive them away from the supervision that is exercised on occasions such as the Moratorium demonstrations. Apparently Government supporters are trying to create this kind of situation. They are trying to disperse groups so that they will gather in the back streets, rather than appear publicly as part of a demonstration.
I feel some sorrow for Senator McManus who did not make out a case to support his views. He told us that his office was invaded but that he was not there. He said that his files were searched and there was damage to his property, after which some of those who had occupied his premises resisted arrest. I remind the Senate that the persons concerned were put on trial and were found not guilty. We are asked to have faith in our judicial system in Australia, yet tonight we are asked to accept Senator McManus’s word that something happened in his office while he was not there. What he has said tonight has been hearsay. A judicial tribunal established under the laws of this country found those persons’ not guilty.
– And put them on a bond.
– They were found not guilty. On the basis of this hearsay evidence we are asked to accept that these things .happened and to support the Bill. I occupy a Commonwealth Parliament office in a., building which has possibly tighter security than any other Commonwealth office in Australia. My office is in the Australian Mutual Provident Society building’ which has the benefit of permanent security officers whose duty it is to protect the Australian Mutual’ Provident Society. In addition we have the services of a local private security organisation.
– The MSS
– Yes, and on other occasions there are members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. In addition we have the services of the Commonwealth Police when the occasion arises. We have demonstrations at that building from time to time. Although we have had visits from the militant group of the Youth Council, from the Fascist group of Croatians and other organisations, the only group from which I seek protection is the Commonwealth Police. I do not seek protection from people invading my office. The reason that some honourable senators need protection from the general public is that they have not the respect of that section of the community. I repeat that the only ones from whom I do not receive respect in South Australia are the Commonwealth Police. If members of the Commonwealth Police force could be kept out of my office and the building in which it is situated it would be a service to me. It should not be necessary for anyone who wants to see me to tell a member of the
Commonwealth Police what it is that he wants to see me about.
– That goes back a long way to the days of Chifley.
– I do not need the protection of Commonwealth Police whereas Senator Little does need it. This is brought about by the difference between his actions and policy and my policy. I believe in freedom and civil liberties whereas he believes in repression and restrictions. This Bill has been rushed through the House at the very time when we have established in South Australia a commission to examine, an incident that happened during the Moratorium demonstrations in South Australia. The terms of reference of the commission ask it to set down guidelines for what should be permitted by those who seek to demonstrate publicly. Apparently there is a fear of what will be contained ‘in the report to Parliament by the ‘ commissioner, Mr Justice Bright, so this legislation is being rushed ‘ through the Senate tonight before the report ‘ of the ‘ commission becomes available.
As Senator . James McClelland said tonight, no guidelines are laid down in the Bill to say what .a demonstrator may do. This measure contains nothing but prohibitions. It is like the. 10.. commandments: Thou shalt not’. I remind -the Senate that Senator Hendrickson tonight made an admission that in 1920 he was engaged in an unlawful demonstration. At that time he and Senator McManus marched through the streets of Melbourne to protest against the city council by-laws .which pro:hibited the holding of a procession on St Patrick’s Day. So it is not only Moratorium campaigners who demonstrate.
– No-one is very responsible on St Patrick’s Day.
– Some people are never very responsible. There is much more that I could say on the right to dissent. I remind the Senate that we are approaching the time when people will want to dissent, so we have a responsibility to make provision for that dissent. Dr Cairns mentioned that public protest has taken second place to commercial enterprise and business activity only because the Government is interested in business and not in legislation. Tonight Senator James McClelland gave illustrations of the difficulties that would be experienced in policing the provisions of the Bill, and also during the debate Senator Wheeldon likened this measure to a South African Act which defined ‘assembly’ as meaning an assembly of not fewer than 3 persons. For some purposes a gathering of 3 people may be classed as an assembly and bring those persons within the provisions of the Act. The honourable senator pointed out also that the word ‘vicinity’ is not defined. How far from a particular point is a place which can be classed as being in the vicinity to bring one within the provisions of the Bill?
Whether or not we agree with this legislation, it could never be justified by normal people engagedin law making. All who have served on the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and have protested against the infringement of rights of the individual and direction by the Administration must oppose this legislation. ‘ We find in the Bill that unreasonable obstruction is defined as meaning an act or thing done by a person that constitutes, or contributes to, an obstruction. What is meant by ‘contribute’? I know that these are questions to be raised at the Committee stage, but I mention them now as an indication of the matters which will be raised at that stage and to show that it is the desire of the Government to lake away the liberty of individuals and to justify its action for election purposes by creating a fear. Clause 6 states:
Where persons taking part in an assembly that is in a Territory or is wholly or partly on Commonwealth premises . . . in a way that gives rise to a reasonable apprehension -
What is a reasonable apprehension? It continues: that the assembly will be carried on in a manner involving unlawful physical violence . . .
How does one have a reasonable apprehension of whether there will be unlawful physical violence? The Bill does not define which violence is lawful and which violence is unlawful. Clause 7 states:
A person who, in a Territory . . . causes -
actual bodily harm to another person; or
damage,to an extent exceeding Two hundred dollars, to property . . .
Why is it this arbitrary amount? if the damage amounts to only $199 a prosecu tion cannot be launched with the AttorneyGeneral’s permission. The AttorneyGeneral may say: ‘Bill Smith will be prosecuted; Tom Jones will not be prosecuted’. How can Senator Wright or any other honourable senator opposite who has been a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee and has campaigned to take matters away from ministerial control agree to a provision that the AttorneyGeneral shall decide whether a prosecution takes place? It is to be an offence to disobey a direction where a direction is given and an assembly I remind honourable senators that an assembly may be 3 people-
– Not less than 12 people.
– It is an offence where a direction is given and an assembly of not less than 12 persons continues after the expiration of 15 minutes from the time of the direction. They can make hay for 15 minutes. They can do what they like and it does not become an offence for 15 minutes. That is an absurdity in this clause.
– It is an offence only if the assembly has not dispersed after 15 minutes. Clause 11 relates to a person who, without reasonable cause, trespasses on premises in a Territory. He shall be guilty of an offence punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding $100. The meaning of ‘Premises’ is defined as any land, building or part of a building. The purpose of that definition is to overcome the difficulty of the previous AttorneyGeneral who found that for legal purposes his home did not constitute premises as the area involved was not an enclosed building. For the purposes of this legislation, subject to the wish of the Attorney General, this clause can be applied to people in an open paddock. We will need a lot more cricket bats in the near future. The purpose of this clause is to cover cricket bat protection.
– We will need a lot more television cameras, too.
– We will want many more television cameras because we are to enlarge the area subject to the legislation. The previous AttorneyGeneral became involved in an area that was not covered by the existing legislation. This provision seeks to cover that deficiency. Clause 16 relates to diplomatic and consular premises. Where damage to property to an extent exceeding $200 is involved, it is an indictable offence, but again action is taken only with the permission- of the Attorney-General.
– Do you not think that is right?
– I do not think that the honourable senator has the ability to interpret an Act. I suggest that he take the advice of a legal man on his side of the chamber on this question, rather than give an interpretation which could be shot to pieces. Clause 17 makes it lawful for a person to use such force as he believes necessary on reasonable grounds. This provision offends every principle fought for by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. lt does not provide that it is lawful for a person to use such force as is reasonable or is based on reasonable grounds, but such force as a person believes is reasonable. It may be thought reasonable and necessary to knock somebody over the head with the butt of a gun or a baton. The victim cannot claim that the force used was unreasonable if in the mind of the arresting officer it was reasonable force. That is the criterion. Surely no parliament can pass such a provision.
My time has expired. No one should allow such legislation to pass, not even in general terms. I make a final appeal to the Government to study our Acts of Parliament. What makes people demonstrate? I suppose I have been demonstrating for the last 40 years. Most demonstrations are against injustices in our society and I believe that such demonstrations are warranted. Remove the injustices and there will be no necessity for this legislation.
– This evening we heard the maiden speech of Senator James McClelland. I add my congratulations to those of other honourable senators who have said that this evening the honourable senator presented to the Senate a fine speech, well delivered and worthy of the reputation which preceded him into this House. I hope that he is here for many years to deliver such addresses to the Senate. The
Bill before the Senate relates to the preservation of public order. I believe that this Bill has basic limitations of application. It concerns only assemblies of persons in areas of Commonwealth legislative responsibility. The comments we have heard from nearly every Opposition senator this evening have dealt with the Bill in a much wider context. Honourable senators who have spoken have attempted, while Senate proceedings are being broadcast, to suggest that the Federal Government is moving in very wide areas to restrict assemblies of individuals and to impose severe penalties on them for exercising their right to dissent.
I believe that the general provisions and principles of this Bill will attract those people who wish to maintain a basic freedom in our community. That view is contrary to those expressed by honourable senators opposite. The point put forward by them is not so much that the Bill is not well phrased or that its provisions are not worthy, but that it is unnecessary legislation. They believe that the restrictions applied through State laws are competent to deal with situations which have arisen in past years. Surely they do not believe that. I believe that the more moderate element in the Australian Labor Party does not support that view. With due respect to senators who have spoken this evening, and to Senator Cavanagh who, I am sure, will not mind my classifying him with others, I say that it appears that the extreme left of the Labor Party is that element which is expressing its view to the Senate this evening.
– The Labor Party is an extreme left Party.
– You divide the coalition and let the Labor Party divide itself.
– I do not doubt that the Labor Party is dividing itself very aptly. Senator Cavanagh, if his words were taken correctly, said that the Labor Party is an extreme left-
– In comparison with your ideology.
– You broke into my statement, but you agree that it has an extreme left wing element. It is interesting that the honourable senator endorses the point I make, that it is the extreme left of the Labor Party which is making its views felt on this matter of law and order.
– The Labor Party is unanimous on the question.
– I do not know whether the honourable senator will agree with what I am saying, but I believe it is the desire of every citizen to see that the opportunity is maintained in the community for each citizen to express his or her view on any subject, whether social or political. There is no dissent on that point. I agree that that position should be maintained in the community. I believe that it is certainly necessary to encourage in our society the voice of dissent and of opposition in matters of concern. I belive that the right of dissent must be maintained. Indeed, throughout the whole of my life that attitude has been maintained. When a subject is put forward I would much rather argue the other side of it in the first instance in order to come to a correct conclusion finally. In this case the Opposition acts in a way that is not uncommon. It takes this argument to the point where it wishes to have its views forced on to the people generally. That is what this Bill is about. It attempts to maintain the right of dissent by the individual and the right of freedom of expression by the individual, and to see that people within the community do not prohibit others from going about their lawful business. 1 believe that youth in our community should be encouraged to argue both sides of any matter of interest. I think that this would be the view of most citizens. In the situation which we have in Australia I believe that people dislike some other person, persons or authority interfering with their right of freedom of movement. Provided that I am within my rights in my movements and they are within the law of this country of which I am a citizen and which has given me my infant nurture, I believe that I should not be interfered with by other people in the community who wish to press their views on me. I have encountered this attitude on Commonwealth property. When Commonwealth members of Parliament had their rooms in Post Office Place on several occasions there were meetings of either university students or some group belonging to the Australian
Labor Party - I could not tell who they were. It was impossible to move in the foyer of the building as my good friend from Victoria would know. This is a situation to which I object. These people may dissent all their life if they wish but I do not want them to interfere with me in their dissent. Let them express their view but if they want to take from me my right of freedom of expression or freedom of movement I shall endorse a Bill such as this which will prohibit them from doing that. I know that Senator Hendrickson is the type of man who supports that kind of thing.
– Government supporters were taking away the right of their children who did not want to go to Vietnam. They were conscripted. That is why they were protesting.
– If they had children they must have had them at a pretty young age. The core of this legislation seeks to uphold the rights of citizens and I have expressed that view. The debate on this Bill in the other place has been expressed on rather clear lines. I was most interested to see that the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) was somewhat moderate in his condemnation of the Bill. He may have taken the attitude that existing legislation was sufficient at the present time. In a society such as ours it can be recognised that we have great freedom. People who come from overseas tell us on many occasions of the great freedom we have in this community compared with that which is found in other countries. Undoubtedly in a responsible community such as ours the great majority of the people have an enormous respect for the way in which a person goes about this undertakings. People do not interfere with the rights of others. I applaud our society. If one sees people going about their business and their work normally, in a well ordered society such as we see on an average day in Australia, it is of great credit to the citizens. They are building an ordered society despite the great tensions and stresses of our modern type of living. There are problems of work and problems of play. In general, people do not want to interfere with the rights of others. There is always a need for lawmakers in our community. Lawmakers such as ourselves and those in the various States must seek to restrict those who seek to perform beyond the law or perform on the edge of the law. This principle is nothing new in the Senate. The Parliament is charged with areas of control. This present coalition Government in recent years has seen a need to act against big business. Legislation must be introduced to see that big business conforms to the proper standards of performance, to see that people adhere to the taxation laws and that those who would act on the fringe of tax benefits do not get beyond control. We have laws in relation to patent rights, the control of violent acts and those who may create risk whether it be in the air or on the sea. The Parliament deals with legislation to restrict those citizens who would seek to force ..their views on others. This situation is acceptable to our society and most people . act within these bounds. Today we have beard Senator Cavanagh and I believe Senator Wheeldon^- if my notes are correct - endorse those views which were expressed by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr j. F. Cairns). Those views are absolutely abhorrent to the average citizen in this community.
– They were true.
– That well known senator from Tasmania, Senator O’Byrne, says that those remarks were true. I am not too sure which remarks the honourable senator says are true because I have not mentioned them as yet. Perhaps he thinks the words of Dr J. F. Cairns are as good as those of Mab Tse-tung. I believe that the honourable member’s most important statement was that if one in conscience objects to a law one should have a right to break the law.
– Pamphlets can be given out in Melbourne now but they could not before.
– That in turn means that the streets of Melbourne can be littered whereas they could not before.
– Undoubtedly there are honourable senators on the other side, experienced as they may be, who do not realise the cost to the community of the idiots who walk along the street handing out pamphlets all day. As Senator Little has said this creates great litter in the community. If such people had responsibility for municipal affairs they would be pro moting legislation to try to eliminate the litter. A. prominent member of Federal Parliament and apparently a number of other honourable members would say to the people: ‘Vote me into Parliament to make laws for this country. If you disagree with any law you are free to break it.’
– We have a Premier like that.
– I do not know whether it will be the Premier of South Australia, Mr Hawke, or someone else who will be in control of the Opposition in this place in the future.
– Were the farmers of Victoria who marched up the streets of -Melbourne against the law because of your legislation?
– That is a laudable comment. They were quite right to march. Did the honourable senator support them?
– My word I did.
– Did the honourable Senator march?
– Too right I did.
– 1 think I know which corner the honourable senator would be marching towards, ft. would not be with the farmers up to the Gardens. It is very interesting that a body such as that would obtain permission to march before it marched. But that is not the case with the propositions which are put forward by the Australian Labor Party. I regret that the honourable senator took me away from the point. 1 was suggesting that, according to the opposition, the people of Australia should be encouraged to support members of the Opposition who say: ‘Put me into Parliament to make Jaws. If you disagree with them I suggest that you break them.’
– They are prepared to face the consequences of breaking the law.
– I do not think you are quite right there. In fact, if you suggested that those weak livered people who broke into the Commonwealth offices recently were willing to take the consequences of the law, I would say that that is not so, because they showed their shirt tails and they dashed out the window as quickly as they could to ensure that they avoided the law. It is a pity that there was scaffolding there to support them, because it would have been much better if they had taken the dive from the second floor on which Senator McManus’ office is situated. But there should be basic rights for individuals in the community not to be interfered with by others. I do not know whether any honourable senator opposite, as much as he may call out and as much as he may make a lot of noise, really objects to the principle that a person should be entitled to go about his lawful business.
It is interesting in this context that Senator Cavanagh took this argument one stage further. Since he was speaking about strike action, perhaps it gives me also the opportunity to mention that matter here. Much as I support his view that an individual has a right to strike, I have the greatest abhorrence - of that type of labour blackmail which has been very evident in our community in recent years. The Minister who is in charge of the Bill is from Tasmania, and I suggest to him that the latest strike that has so much affected the economy of Tasmania is nothing but ah attempt to blackmail the owners of .the vessels on which those employees work. They are blackmailing not only the State government but also the Commonwealth Government in an attempt to have their rights forced on the community. This is ‘ occurring in many instances today.
– Would you sell your wheat if you could not get a price for it? The same thing applies with labour: If you cannot get your price for your labour you have the right to withdraw that labour. That is all these people are doing.
– Let me take this point one stage further, because if Senator Georges is within the group that I mentioned undoubtedly he will be speaking in this debate either this evening or perhaps tomorrow. I come to the point of the attitude that has been taken by the newly elected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in Melbourne, Mr Hawke. His attitude has been very similar to this idea of blackmail. I do not doubt that Mr Hawke wishes to make laws. He wishes to have the laws made for the community himself - not laws made in the Parliament but laws made by Mr Hawke - and the band of individuals - probably a very excellent band - is going to follow what the leader says because it would not like to disagree. We have seen Mr Hawke impress his views on business; we have seen him impress his views on the labouring community, on the public generally and, I would say to his credit, he is impressing his views on government. I only hope that governments are strong enough to stand up to some of the things that he is doing because I completely disagree with the type of - action that he is taking, particularly in regard to business throughout Australia.
He is a person who, on the Labor principle, should have one job, but who suggests that several jobs should be available to one individual and he takes a position on the board of some company in Melbourne and then, for the advantage of that company, he makes ‘ certain demands. Indeed, I cannot assume’ that it is not to secure an advantage for, Mr Hawke in some way, because’ he is either ‘ making some demand on behalf of the company or he is doing his job as President of the ACTU. Undoubtedly his activities react against those who are interested in other businesses in the community. What he is doing is saying to manufacturers: ‘You will supply to this particular business in Melbourne under any circumstances’.
– That is a barefaced lie.
– That is not a barefaced lie, as you know. Senator Kennelly has been up on his feet so regularly this evening defending himself he now wishes to defend Mr Hawke. What we are seeing throughout the community is some attempt at blackmail. What we are seeing in relation to this Bill is the attempts of individuals, supported in many instances by that faction within the Labor Party, to blackmail the community into adopting their views.
– It is not blackmail.
– It is blackmail. The action they take to interfere with the rights of individuals is nothing more than forcing their views on the individual. I support any person who says that he has the right to work or that he does not wish to work. I believe that he should have the right to strike but I believe that he should be responsible to the community for his actions. I have indicated that I do not believe in this mass strike action or this forcing of one’s views on the community. I believe that the strike threat has done untold damage to pur society and has been one of the major causes of the inflationary trend which is adverse to the interests of the working community in this society.
Some of the . comments made by speakers on the Opposition side were quite interesting. Senator James McClelland expressed his attitude as to the law enforcement bodies in the community. He said that he felt that the police in New South Wales had on occasions been goaded, by their own prejudices. That is a pretty forceful sort of comment to make about a force which attempts to uphold the rights of citizens in this community. I completely disagree with him and I suggest that the prejudice which those words demonstrate is held by the Individual who uttered them. If one can follow what Senator Keeffe had to say, 1 believe he defended the rights of demonstrators. At one stage in his speech he was taking Senator McManus apart for complaining about the fact that these individuals entered the Commonwealth offices in Melbourne. It is peculiar that members of the Labor Party should defend the right of these people to invade such premises. If in the privacy of their own homes these honourable senators had had action taken against them such as was taken against the previous AttorneyGeneral, or if their offices had been entered, as Senator McManus’ office was entered, there would have been the greatest cry by those same senators in this place.
The terms of this Bill are highly acceptable to me. I believe that 2 provisions of the Bill describe very well and provide very well for that which I have expressed to the Senate. The Bill provides that individuals should not create unreasonable obstruction, and there is a penalty for unreasonable obstruction. I believe that this area, which I spent some time discussing, is covered by these 2 provisions, which adequately describe the responsibility that will fall on the shoulders of individuals who create unreasonable obstruction. According to the Bill, the term ‘unreasonable obstruction’ means an act or thing done by a person that constitutes, or contributes to, an obstruction of, or interference with, the exercise or enjoyment by other persons of their lawful rights and privileges. I completely agree with that, definition, as I have no doubt does Senator Cavanagh. Clause 9 of the Bill states:
A person who, in a Territory or” on Commonwealth premises - -
This provision is the confining limit of this Bill and it is not meant to apply, as the Opposition has attempted to put forward, to something which takes place on the streets of any State- while taking part in an assembly, engages in unreasonable obstruction is guilty of an offence, punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding $250 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or both.
I agree entirely with those, provisions of this Bill. I believe that they will alleviate some of the concern which has been held in the minds of citizens in, at least, my own State of Victoria. This Bill in no way stifles or silences dissent. It is a safeguard to the rights of those wishing freely to move about their lawful undertakings. I support the Bill.
– I have listened with interest to some of the speakers who have participated in the debate. I dismiss the speech of Senator Hannan. I have yet to hear him not commence a speech on a subject on which honourable senators have different opinions to his with his favourite phrase that their opinions are a farrago of nonsense. I do not think that he enlightened the Senate to any great extent with his contribution to the debate.
Let me talk about what Senator McManus had to say. I want to be quite candid and say that I deplore the intrusion of one person into another person’s office. I think it is wrong. However, the law is there to deal with such an intrusion. I was surprised by the fact that Senator McManus seemed to blame the demonstrators for what the court did. Some of the demonstrators were apprehended and prosecuted. The police did the right thing by prosecuting them. However, I think it is altogether outside the realms of the Bill to blame the demonstrators for what the court did. I do not agree with what the demonstrators did, but I do not think that it is right to attack them simply because the court, in its wisdom or otherwise, put them on a bond or gave them a sentence which was not a severe enough punishment in view of the law which they broke. I do not agree with their action. I think they were wrong.
– Does it not show a deficiency in the existing law?
– But this Bill will not improve the position. I have been amazed by some of the decisions which have been given by courts. I say that quite candidly. However, one should not blame a law simply because the courts do not impose sufficient penalties under it. I ask: What will this legislation achieve? Is there not already legislation on the statute books which will achieve the same ends?I agree that the right should be given to the courts of this country to punish people who act contrary to the law, but I object to this legislation because I think it is unnecessary. I do not agree with the idea of people sitting down in the streets in protest. I think they are mad. I do not like the long hairs. I know that in certain places I am called a square, but I like to be one. The fact is that long hair is the fashion. In the 1920s and earlier when I was young my generation got away with a lot of things that could not be got away with today. The trouble is that the Government is bringing before the courts only some of the people who break its laws and it is forgetting to bring the others before the courts. It put 5 women in prison in Victoria recently, but when a week later other people did what appeared to be the same thing it made excuses for their actions. I am not saying that I want to see these people put in gaol. All I am saying is that because of the way in which it is operating the law the Government is giving some young people the idea that they can get away with certain things. I believe that this position has arisen largely because of the Government’s policy on the conflict in Vietnam. It will not declare war although Australians are being killedin that country. The young people of Australia cannot comprehend some of the Government’s actions. In their minds the war is not worth fighting.
– And none of the sons of honourable senators opposite is in it.
– I will leave it to their consciences. I will let them think about the matter. I am old enough to know what happened during the 1914-18 war, particularly at the end of it. There were no troubles then. It is true that there was a conflict about conscription in those days. It is also true that there was disagreement with the policies of the government of the day. No doubt we did in those hectic years as much as the young people are doing now, in proportion to the population then and now of the city in which I lived; but there was no talk of anyone doing anything against the nation as a nation because the people believed that this country had a right to be at war. The same applies to the 1939-45 period. Senator Young said that the Australian Labor Party introduced conscription.
– I did not.
– The honourable senator said that earlier in the form of an interjection. Of course the Australian Labor Party introduced conscription. Why? Because this country was in danger. The Labor Party did not run away from the responsibilities it had at the time. The fact is that the Government is today sending a certain number of young people to a war in which the majority of the people of this country do not believe. If one reads about what is happening in this regard one will agree with me that it is a plain joke. Therefore, is it any wonder that the young people of today are using-
– As you tried to use me a minute ago, although I never said any such thing.
– I do not abuse anyone unless they abuse me.
– I said ‘use’.
– I am sorry. I withdraw my remarks. I believe that we should adopt a commonsense approach and say that we have no right to ballot certain young people in this country into a war that the majority of the people of Australia do not believe in.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I. formally put the question.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 April 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710428_senate_27_s47/>.