27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of15 electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth -
That the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2603 XXIV A (December 1969) declares that the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Australia has ratified, prohibits the use in international armed conflict of any chemical agents of warfare - chemical substances whether gaseous, liquid or solid - employed for their direct toxic effects on man, animals or plants;
That the World Health Organisation Report (January 1970) confirms the above definition of chemical agents of warfare;
That the Australian Government does not accept this definition, but holds that the Geneva Protocol does not prevent the use in war of certain toxic chemical substances in the form of herbicides, defoliants and ‘riot control’ agents.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
That the Parliament take note of the concensus of international political, scientific and humanitarian opinion; and
That Honourable Senators urge upon the
Government the desirability of revising its interpretation of the Geneva Protocol, and declaring that it regards all chemical substances employed for their toxic effects on man, animals or plants as being included in the prohibitions laid down by that Protocol.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. As a corollary to the recent adjustments in the health and medical fund operations does the Government contemplate any legislation to compel employers to provide facilities for their employees’ contributions to such funds to be deducted from their pay?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThis is a matter of policy. I am not in a position to give a definite answer now but I have had this matter raised with me and it is under consideration at the present time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. What is the Government’s reaction to the statement made last night in Tasmania by the Archbishop of Tasmania, Dr Young, that he will be forced to close a number of Catholic schools in Tasmania because of inadequate financial provision made for them by the Federal and State Governments? In view of this further evidence of the continuing crises in education what steps does the Government plan to prevent such a disastrous closure?
– The honourable senator refers to a very important matter upon which this Government negotiated policy many years in advance of the Opposition. Funds were to be devoted to the support of independent schools, recognising that they relieved the Government of expenditure, which otherwise would be thrown on the Government’s shoulders, to educate a huge number of students who presently attend independent schools. I noticed Archbishop Young’s statement last week. I have not seen the statement he made yesterday but last week’s statement was to the same effect. It would not be possible to increase the amount that has been voted in this Budget for the independent schools, but Dr Young and those who share his concern will know that the submissions of the independent schools have been given most earnest consideration so far. That will be the continuing reaction of the Government.
– Has the Minister for Health seen the statement by Australia’s distinguished Nobel Prize winner, Sir Macfarlane Burnet, to the effect that he is satisfied that research over 15 to 20 years has established a direct connection between cigarettes and lung cancer? Sir Macfarlane Burnet added:
The Department of Health has a very poor record in this. The Medical Research Council has strongly advocated the banning of television advertisements. The Department of Health and the Federal Government have done nothing about it. Why haven’tthey?
I ask the Minister: Apart from approving the voluntary code on cigarette advertising, what action has the Government taken in relation to this matter?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes, I saw the comment by Sir Macfarlane Burnet that appeared in the Sydney Press. In fact I have a copy of it in front of me. Under the Broadcasting and Television Act the Director-General must approve of advertisements for proprietary medicines and of medical talks before they are broadcast or televised. The Anti-Cancer Council’s advertisements were submitted to the Department of Health for approval. Those advertisements wilh a medical content were approved. Because the remainder were not considered to have a medical content the approval of my Department was not required. I want to make it abundantly clear that the Department of Health deals only with the advertisements which have a medical content, lt has to approve only the ones which it considers to have a medical content.
– 1 did not ask the Minister about that.
In approving of television scripts the Director-General of Health has to satisfy himself as to the medical accuracy of the content. For advertisements in particular he is guided by the programme standards of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council. It is true that in response to a question yesterday I indicated what the States were frying to do in relation to this matter. But I want to make the point in direct response to what Sir Macfarlane Burnet said that, insofar as health issues in advertising are concerned, the Department of Health has to approve only the advertisements which have a medical content. It has no jurisdiction over the ones which do not have a medical content. A wider issue has been raised in the question asked by Senator Willesee. I will have to have a look at that matter and make a comprehensive reply to it on a subsequent occasion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Has the Minister seen the reported statement of the National Secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association, Mr Laurie Short - a highly respected trade union leader - that secret ballots in union disputes should minimise, to quote his words, ‘a lot of the intimidation, psychological and physical, at emotion charged meetings at which strikes are called or continued’? Will the Minister keep this in mind when policies are being formulated to reduce such intimidation as Mr Short has described and to allow the authentic voice of the majority of trade unionists to be effectively expressed?
– Yes, I have seen the statement to which the honourable senator referred. Emanating as it did from a person of such wide and balanced experience as Mr Short it deserves very earnest consideration. It was a valuable contribution from a person who has had experience in trade union management. I believe it reflects the views of trade unionists in general that there should be an element of consultation in the management of trade unions in this day and age instead of dominance and coercion by union bosses. Mr Short’s view is that secret ballots would displace that dominance. This would be of great advantage to the trade unionists, who comprise a very important section of the community.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Health. In April 1970 the Department of Health believed that anatensol, largactil and me.leril should be prescribed for pensioners whereas valium should not. Since 1st August this year we have been able to prescribe Valium for pensioners but unable to prescribe the drugs which were formerly free. Is there any sane explanation for this complete reversal and, if so, what is it?
The honourable senator will be aware that restrictions on the prescription of pharmaceutical benefits are recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and not by my Department. The honourable senator is no doubt aware of the structure of that Committee. The minor tranquilliser valium has been available for pensioners for any disease or condition since 1st August 1970 and is still available. Arising from a Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommendation, major tranquillisers, including those mentioned by the honourable senator, were made available on 1st August 1971 for the treatment of all patients suffering from a major psychosis. These include pensioners suffering from these conditions. The Committee’s recommendations in relation to tranquillisers were based on the expert advice it receives from the appropriate medical colleges.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation advise the Senate whether there are any plans for the provision of a modern aircraft for services between Australia, Norfolk Island and New Zealand? If so, can he advise me when the new aircraft will go into service?
– It was a long while ago that I visited Norfolk Island and on that occasion I travelled in the civilian version of the Lancaster bomber, which is not an aircraft that I would recommend to many people. There is some potential in Norfolk Island for tourism from Australia and New Zealand on a kind of 3-legged operation. At present Qantas Airways Ltd is evaluating various aircraft that might serve that route more efficiently than the current aircraft. One such aircraft being evaluated is the Boeing 737. Beyond that I have no further information, but I shall ask Qantas whether it has any more up to date information for me to make available to the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What navigational aids are there at the Port Lincoln airport in South Australia? Are there more navigational aids at Whyalla than at Port Lincoln? If this is so, why is it so, when Port Lincoln is a main airport for Eyre Peninsula, serving a wide area and many people?
– This is the approximate position as reported to me this morning: The navigational aid installed at Port Lincoln is a non-directional beacon. At Whyalla a distance measuring beacon is installed, in addition to a non-directional beacon. Whyalla has been made available as the primary alternate airport for Adelaide because of its proximity to Adelaide and because of the generally favourable weather in that locality. As an alternate airport it is required that more than one navigation aid be provided to ensure adequate reliability of ground equipment for instrument approach purposes. The distance measuring beacon has been installed at Whyalla in addition to the nondirectional beacon to meet this requirement and also to provide assistance for en route nav igation on the air routes between Perth and Sydney and to the north of Adelaide.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Army seen Press report of complaints from soldiers serving in Vietnam about their pay. classifications and groupings compared with other groupings in the Services and also claims that their pay is relatively low when compared with that received by civilian tradesmen in the same category. If the Minister has not seen the statement will he make inquires to ensure that servicemen receive rates of pay equivalent to those applying to civilian tradesmen? Is not this the normal criterion for the Public Service in recommeding pay rates for the Services?
– There have been complaints from time to time throughout the Services in regard to pay matters, both on a comparison with alternative civilian employment and between the ranks. The honourable senator will recall that earlier this year the Kerr Committee was set up to investigate the pay and conditions of service. It has just completed a tour on which it interviewed Army representatives of all ranks as well as all ranks in other Services in regard to pay matters. The Kerr Committee has made a recommendation which the Government has accepted. At the present time, particularly in my own Service, there are men in the field with tapes and documents explaining the various pay groupings to the troops and answering any questions they have. I feel that by the time these people have toured all the camps and bases and explained the new pay groupings to the troops there will be a better understanding of the position.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General and refers to phase 7 of the television extension programme, f understand that the original programme provided for the completion of the installation of a transmitter at Ceduna in South Australia during the first part of this 4- year period and that the Woomera area would be catered for during the latter stages. Can the Minister inform me whether these projects are meeting the schedule and, if so, when is it expected the Ceduna station will be commissioned?
– It is a fact that the proposed national television stations at Ceduna and Woomera are among 38 stations which are proposed in the seventh stage of television development. I am informed, and I pass it on to the honourable senator, that the task of establishing these stations is one of considerable magnitude and involves the provision amongst other things of special relay links to the stations concerned. In regard to that a great deal of work has already been done. There have been technical surveys of the area; there has been the selection of sites and there has been some determination of operating conditions. Involved in this necessarily has been the visit to the sites of all the stations of engineering survey teams. With regard to Ceduna and Woomera, the ordering of the necessary equipment will take a considerable time and it appears that it would not be possible for these stations to be established and operating before the middle of 1973. However, the Postmaster-General’s Department is advancing these projects as quickly as possible and the PostmasterGeneral hopes to be able to release in the not too distant future a timetable of operations for these 2 stations and other stations in the seventh stage of development.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the Postmaster-General will investigate the possible adjustment of radio and television licence fees for different areas of Australia and gear them to the number of programme sources that are available. For instance, in Tasmania most television viewers can receive only one or two programme sources and three or four radio sources. Yet they have to pay as much for their licences as people in other areas of Australia who may be able to choose from perhaps twice as many stations some of which, particularly radio stations, operate from much longer periods.
– I sense the very real interest which Senator Townley has in obtaining some preferential treatment for the people of Tasmania because of local conditions. I would suggest to him that if expression were given to the principle he has enunciated it would involve such a variety of fees throughout Australia according to television and other programme sources that maybe the satisfaction which would be given to local areas would be offset by the dissatisfaction of other people when they started to contrast their entitlement and payments with those of other people. I will convey the substance of the honourable senator’s question to the Postmaster-General for him to consider the nature of the reply he would like to give to the honourable senator.
– In addressing my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation I remind him of a question I asked him concerning the collision at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport between a Canadian Pacific airliner and a Trans-Australian Airlines aircraft. Since there has been a further incident at that airport involving an overseas airliner and endangering the lives of many people, will the Minister indicate why the report on the accident referred to in my former question has not yet been presented to the Parliament?
– Yes, very gladly. There is an aircraft involved in this accident belonging to an overseas country - Canada. It has been necessary in order to conclude the report to send safety investigators of the Department of Civil Aviation to Canada. They are still in Canada but should be back in Australia before very long. On their return the report will be concluded and presented in the normal course.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport indicate the success or otherwise of attempts by Mr Nixon M.P. and Mr Bob Hawke, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to settle the industrial dispute surrounding the sailing of the
Echuca’? Without disclosing details of the discussions at the conference, will the Minister indicate whether Mr Hawke’s influence was a factor in the anticipated settlement of the dispute?
– The information I have is that both Mr Hawke, President of the ACTU and Mr Nixon, Minister for Shipping and Transport, have been acting most responsibly in trying to overcome the problem. I think we should all be very pleased about that.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Health, follows on the question asked by Senator Turnbull a short while ago concerning the availability of special types of drugs for pensioners. As a preface to my question I would say that I guess most honourable senators have had representations at some time or another from medical people concerning drugs which have been removed from the free list. I ask: Where drugs which have been found to be greatly beneficial to pensioners have been so removed on the advice of the Drug Evaluation Committee, or the particular committee concerned, what action is taken or what action can be taken to meet the special problems of people who are required to continue a course of drugs on the advice of their medical officers who are or ought to be the best judges of the requirements of these particular people? 1 further ask the Minister: What opportunities are available to doctors in this particular situation to make some special representations about particular cases when, I say again, the use of certain drugs has been found to be beneficial?
- Senator Devitt, I wish you would make your question more specific. It is rambling and quite difficult for honourable senators to follow.
– It is an extremely important question, of course, Mr President. I will come to the conclusion of it. What appeal is there from a judgment of the Drug Evaluation Committee upon whose advice the Government acts?
The honourable senator has asked me a series of questions and I will firstly give him some information about the Pharma ceutical Benefits Advisory Committee which was set up to advise the Government on the drugs to be included in the free list. I think all honourable senators will agree that that is a necessary qualification. I think the structure of the Committee is important to a consideration of the points raised. One of the members of the Committee is a pharmacist appointed by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Six medical practitioners are appointed by the Minister for Health from a panel of 10 nominated by the Australian Medical Association. A pharmaceutical chemist is appointed by the Minister from 3 nominated by the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia. I think everybody will agree that this field, which is the basis of Ihe question, is one for the experts - people to whom the Government would need to turn for advice on what should be on the list, what should be removed from it, and that type of thing. From time to time representations are made to have new drugs that become available put on the list. When I receive those representations I refer them, as I am bound to do, to the Advisory Committee for an evaluation.
The honourable senator asked me about the right of appeal. I would need to check that and give him a subsequent reply. At any rate, it is competent for anybody, whether he be a medical practitioner or not, representing a particular member of the community, to write to the Minister, raise the issue, express a view and give reasons of the type given by Senator Devitt. I then would be duty bound to examine the matter and make a decision on reference to the Advisory Committee. That avenue is always open. As for the embellishments to the question asked by the honourable senator, I would like to get a considered reply from the Department.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, refers to the very serious plight of the wool industry. Is it fact that the present total indebtedness of the Australian wool growers to orthodox lending authorities is of the order of $ 1,200m, requiring an interest bill amounting to approximately $100m a year? Will this interest bill alone absorb almost one-quarter of the anticipated total gross income of wool growers for the year? Is it also a fact that individual wool growers are heavily indebted in every country town to the stores, agencies, garages and other services which form the vital basis of each country town, particularly in providing employment? Can it be reasonably anticipated that the lending authorities, in accordance with past precedents, will pursue a restrained and humanitarian policy towards outstanding debts so that dedicated and efficient farmers may remain on their properties and may be able to discharge their financial commitments within their local towns?
– I understand that an estimate has been made of the indebtedness of wool growers and that it is $ 1,200m. I understand ako that it is estimated that the interest bill for 1970- 71 will be $10Om. It has been estimated that this bill will, absorb from one-quarter to one-third of the total net income of wool growers during 1970-71. 1 point out to the honourable senator, however, that the position is magnified a great deal if we include the wheat growers because the total indebtedness of those 2 groups to the institutional lenders could be as high as $2,000m, and to the private sector a further $630m. It is true that wool growers are heavily indebted to stores, agencies and other services in country towns. I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry has had talks with institutional lenders and with stock firms, and that they recognise this situation and have agreed to carry out a policy whereby reasonable and restrained efforts will be made to assist these people. The Minister has assured me that he believes that this policy is being carried out. I point out that the Government recognises the situation. That is why it has introduced a rural reconstruction plan to assist wool growers. No doubt the introduction of legislation to provide deficiency payments will give further confidence to the pastoral houses and to the banking institutions to make provision for rural debts.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform Parliament how many Aboriginal children under the age of one year died in the Alice Springs hospital each year since and including 1968? What was the cause of death in each case? How many children of European descent under the age of one year died in each of the same years and what was the cause of death in each case?
– 1 cannot give the honourable senator those figures, but I shall obtain the information from the responsible Minister.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I know that he has had a distinguished career in local government. Does the Government recognise the vital role that local government plays in the planning of local communities, particularly in urban areas? Is the Government aware that the responsibility for planning is largely the prerogative of municipal and shire councils? Recognising that the provision of airports, sea ports and other Commonwealth installations is an important national requirement, will the Government consider the establishment of co-ordinating bodies or at least consultative bodies embracing Commonwealth, State and local authorities so that the total needs of the community, including preservation of the local environment, are given every consideration?
Senator Gietzelt and I, and a lot of other honourable senators, have served a very good apprenticeship in local government. I think the basic thing to remember is that in Australia there is a 3-tier structure of government. That comprises the national Parliament, the State governments, which have sovereign power, and local government. Access to the national Parliament for the third tier, which is local government, fundamentally is through the State governments. The local government authorities function through a series of Acts of Parliament passed by the States. All States have a Minister with a portfolio associated with local government; he might have other portfolios as well. For that reason it would be very dangerous if an attempt were made to by-pass the source of local government power - that is, the State legislatures. That is not to say that in certain circumstances there should not be some loosely drawn
Questions organisation, if the States concur, in which the voice of local government on matters of particular concern could be raised. The matter would need to have an ingredient of a national nature also.
The danger is - and this is where we must be very careful - that the local government might express a view contrary to the view of the State. Local government, under the charter given under the Local Government Act, should not bypass the source of its authority, which is a State parliament. I would like to look at the question again. As I understand it, the honourable senator is suggesting that there should be set up some kind of loose consultative arrangement which would give local government access to express a view more firmly than it can do through the State authorities.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Why is the bulk of advertising by the Commonwealth Government and its instrumentalities handled by agencies which are 100 per cent foreign owned when in Australia there are more Australian owned agencies than there are foreign owned agencies? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Advertising Council - a body set up to handle Commonwealth advertising - is monopolised by members who head 100 per cent foreign owned agencies? Could not the Australian owned agencies handle, for example, the advertising for Trans- Australia Airlines, which is handled by Hansen Rubensohn-McCann Erickson Pty Ltd, which is 100 per cent foreign owned; for Qantas Airways Ltd, whose advertising is handled by Jackson Wain and Co. Pty Ltd-
– Order! I think the honourable senator is giving information and not asking a question.
– These are examples.
– I know that they are examples. As the Presiding Officer of this chamber, I wish to inform honourable senators that the method of presenting some questions has to be looked at very severely. To refrain from giving information is fundamental to the Standing Orders.
– Mr President, could I then rephrase my question?
– I ask: Why is the bulk of the Commonwealth Government’s advertising and that of the government instrumentalities handled by agencies which are 100 per cent foreign owned when there are more Australian owned agencies than foreign owned agencies in the Commonwealth? Is it a. fact that the Commonwealth Advertising Council - a body set up to handle Commonwealth advertising - is monopolised by members who head 100 per cent foreign owned agencies?
I am not aware of the points raised by the honourable senator in his question. I do know that the advertising of certain organisations is handled through certain firms. But, as to the implications of the question in respect of foreign ownership vis-a-vis Australian ownership and participation, I would need to obtain some information about that. When I do, I will make it available to the honourable senator and the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Because of the particular difficulties regarding television reception on King Island in Bass Strait, will a further investigation be made with a view to the expedition of the completion date for translators, etc., on that island, which I understand has been delayed considerably from the originally intended completion date?
– I note the honourable senator’s interest in the provision of television reception facilities on King Island. I am unable to give him the information he now seeks. I shall convey his question to the Postmaster-General and arrange for as full a statement as can be supplied to him to be provided as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen a report in a Melbourne daily newspaper of a speech by Mr Vines, the acting or interim chairman of the Australian Wool Commission, in which he is reported to have said that vital wool marketing reforms have been prevented by a 26 August 1971 combination of well meaning reactionary forces, allied with some elements of straight out self-interest? Could the Minister name the reactionary forces concerned and the type of tactics in which they have engaged?
– Having seen only the same report as the honourable senator has seen and not knowing what was in Mr Vine’s speech, I could not name the people concerned. I suggest that the honourable senator write to Mr Vines and ask him for a copy of his speech.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen a recent survey on poverty by Professor Henderson of the University of Melbourne which shows that in 1966 Australia spent 5.6 per cent of the gross national product on social welfare, compared with 14.7 per cent in the Common Market countries and 6.3 per cent in New Zealand; that in 1969 the Australian percentage was only 5.3-
– Order! Ask your question, Senator.
– The question is: Does the Minister consider this a fair effort on the part of the Government to alleviate hardship?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think that basic to the question is the criteria used in arriving at the percentages. Until I had a complete analysis of that, I do not think I would be competent to respond to the question. Quite clearly this question of relief of hardship must have many facets to it, and the criteria used in one country, for instance, may well be different from the criteria used in other countries. Consequently a judgment has to be made. Professor Henderson has made a judgment. Until I have had some research done on the document and had some opinions expressed to me about the document and the methods employed, I do not think I would be inclined to make the judgments that obviously the honourable senator is making.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As there are signs that peace talks between Russia and the West may at last be tegarded as possible in the not too distant future and in view of the Western response to the latest Soviet peace offensive, particularly Mr Brezhnev’s proposal for a 5-power conference on nuclear disarmament, can the Minister inform the Senate whether arrangements have been made by the parties concerned regarding this very important move? If so, is the Minister in a position to make a statement as to what stage negotiations have reached?
– That is a question that I shall refer to the Minister himself.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen an article in this morning’s Press by Mr Vines to the effect that a new knitting machine could pose another threat to the future of the wool industry? Has the Minister any information to give to the Senate?
– As I said in reply to the last question asked of me I have seen this article and I read with interest about the introduction of a new knitting machine which, from all accounts, is supposed to be a high speed fine gauge machine which produces a fabric to replace woollen fabrics as tailoring material. Of course, this does pose a very difficult situation for the wool industry because from a recent survey in Sydney and Melbourne of 15 leading manufacturers of woven material we found that there have been drastic falls in production, and these falls were due to a demand for knitted fabric. I understand that fashions these days, particularly in women’s outer wear, are demanding knitted fabric. If this machine can speed up the knitting process then it will pose a very difficult situation for the wool industry because the wool industry has to bridge that gap. I quite understand Mr Vine’s interest in this machine.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform me whether any further developments have occurred to enable Australia to become a signatory to the Refugee Seamen’s Convention?
– The honourable senator made reference to this matter during question time a few days ago and I told him on that occasion the situation that had been reached. I have been informed that the question of the application of the Refugee Seamen’s Agreement to the Territory of Papua New Guinea is being considered and the Administrator’s Executive Council approves extension to Papua New Guinea, subject to certain provisions which require further investigation by the Commonwealth. These investigations are now proceeding and when they are concluded I shall be happy to inform the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the provisions of the 1971-72 Budget require companies to pay increased taxation on profits derived from trading during the year of income to 30th June 1971? Does the Minister consider it a reasonable attitude to require companies to pay increased company taxation on a year of trading now completed? Is it a fact that the Government decision requires many companies to recast their final accounts and, in instances, incur substantial accounting, auditing and printing costs? Will the Government reconsider its action or at least give some assurance that in future declared taxation increases will not apply retrospectively?
– The honourable senator is asking me to reflect upon a Budget matter which is currently before this chamber. With great respect, I do not think that I am permitted to do that. In the circumstances I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer but I cannot debate it while it is currently before the Senate.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation advise the Senate as to what steps he has taken to ensure the maintenance of the provisions of the Air Navigation Regulations by cabin staff on domestic flights?
– This matter has been taken up quite seriously to the point where I made some flights in areas where the regulation appeared to be a problem. Following that I addressed a letter to the chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission about the matter as I saw it. I received a letter from the chairman about 5 days ago. I am preparing information from this letter which I will let the honourable senators have. My experience on 2 flights within the last 2 days was that this matter had been attended to. One heard the announcement over the public address system: ‘You will notice that the seat belt signs are now flashing for you to have your seat belts fastened. Smoking is not permitted. Will hostesses please make sure that they have resumed their seats?’.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise considered the recent rise in the price of superphosphate in Western Australia in view of the fact that there has been a continuing fall in the price of sulphur over the last 2 years? Will the Minister advise the Senate of the basis on which any ministerial supervision has resulted in an approval of the price rise?
– This is really a question of some detail. I do not think it would be fair for me to try to answer the honourable senator from my own observations. I have one or two views on this matter. The rise may be related not only to sulphur but also to industrial costs, wage rates, the hours of work and the price of phosphate. I understand the honourable senator’s concern. Indeed, I think every primary producer would share that concern. I shall ask the Minister to let the honourable senator have the information he seeks.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Works. Are there any plans for the construction of an all weather bitumen highway between Port Augusta and Alice Springs? If so, when is the highway likely to be constructed and what period of time will be required for its completion? Will not such a road open up some of the most beautiful scenic and tourist sites known in the world to many Australians and world visitors?
– Senator Poyser refers to a matter in which I have taken a very close interest. In fact, I took the opportunity to travel this road the other day- With regard to his suggestion that the improvement of the road to ordinary standards will open up the inland to a greater number of world visitors, I state that that is all too obvious. To a remarkable degree it will also open up Australia to Australians travelling on leave and for business. Of course the potentiality of the country has to be considered for only a few moments to be impressive. So far as the construction of the road is concerned, I remind the honourable senator that the road is in 2 sections, part in South Australia and part in the Northern Territory. Work has been done in the Northern Territory on parts of the road south to Alice Springs. I think three or four bridges have been constructed in that section of the road. That work will eliminate a lot of the traffic dislocations that occur in wet weather. It would be quite obvious to anyone who passed over the South Australian section of the road that there has been a degree of improvement to it. Any proposal for the entire reconstruction of the road would be a matter which would come within the responsibility of the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for the Interior. It would be up to them to give further consideration to the matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science been drawn to a report in this morning’s Press to the effect that a number of university students have been stood down for various periods at the La Trobe University in Melbourne? Could the Minister inform the Senate whether any of those students are in receipt of Commonwealth scholarships? If so, will they automatically lose their scholarships as a result of the action taken by the La Trobe University?
– The report to which the honourable senator has referred has not come to my notice, but I am glad to have been informed that the La Trobe University has, for the good of the other students and out of respect for the Government moneys that go to support this education institution, exercised some disciplinary action. It is my understanding that there is no automatic disqualification of scholarships; it depends upon the degree of misconduct and the length of the suspension. I assure the honourable senators that the Minister for Education and Science will give serious consideration to the question of whether Commonwealth scholarships should continue in such instances.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will the Minister examine the legislation of the French Government of August 1969 which makes it compulsory for company profits to be shared with employees, and report on the effect that such legislation has had on reducing industrial unrest in France? Will he also examine whether the enactment of such legislation in Australia would have more beneficial results than the Government’s mad desire at present to penalise workers who find it necessary to take strike action in order to obtain industrial justice?
– The Government has no desire to penalise workers and it certainly has no ‘mad’ desire to do such a thing. Its only desire is to introduce reason into the arriving at of decisions in relation to the discontinuance of work. The honourable senator referred to a piece of French legislation that was enacted in August 1969. It will be my real interest to examine that legislation. I shall bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service. I have no doubt that he will accept the honourable senator’s suggestion and study the operation of this legislation to see whether any advantages would be derived from introducing similar legislation in Australia. The only other comment I wish to add is that, without compulsive legislation by this Government, a prevalent act practised in the commerce of this country, over the last 20 years has been for profit sharing to take place to a significant degree, and it has been my unfortunate lament to find that quite a significant number ‘ of strikes have arisen out of the very bonus and profit share provisions that companies have made in this respect. It is nevertheless an idea that should be fostered and that fact will not prejudice us in any attempts to culture it.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry able to say when the rural reconstruction scheme agreed to by this Parliament last session will be operating? What authorities in the respective States will be handling the scheme? To whom should producers wishing to participate apply?
– The matter referred to by the honourable senator is the scheme introduced under the State Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act 1971. Honourable senators will recall that that legislation went through the Senate last session and was assented to on 25th May. The Act provides for an agreement between the States for a rural reconstruction scheme and appropriates SI 00m for that purpose. I understand that all States signed the agreement in June last and that all States with the exception of Tasmania have provided assistance under the scheme. Each State has set up an authority, operated within the State and by the State, to which applications are made by farmers who seek assistance.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. ls it a fact that in addition to the orders for 5 Boeing “547 aircraft from the United States a request has been made by Qantas Airways Ltd for consideration of further Boeing 747s? I refer to a statement made last week in which it was reported that Qantas had indicated to the Boeing company that it wanted to operate as many as 20 Boeing 747 aircraft by the end of the 1980s, ls it a fact that these propositions have been made by Qantas? Are the decisions dependent upon the arrangements which will be made between the United States and the Australian party which is now in the United States? If not, what will be Qantas’s requirements of the United States industry?
– It is appropriate at this time to mention one or two things that could be of interest in this general area. Qantas Airways Ltd ordered 4 Boeing 747s and then a fifth, and it has an option for a sixth Boeing 747 in due course, subject of course to negotiation as to time, price and other factors. I read in a newspaper the comment referred to by the honourable senator that Qantas had told the Boeing Company that it would want 20 Boeing 747s. I checked this with Qantas and found that nothing of the kind was said by Qantas to anybody, including the Boeing Company. What Qantas said was thai en a long term projection of traffic, as the company saw itself developing, the need would occur at some time in the 1980s for a capacity which would equate itself to a fleet of about 20 Boeing 747s. That was a very long way from saying that the company would buy that number of aircraft.
The members of the negotiating team at present in Washington on behalf of the Australian Government are the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation; the General Manager of Qantas, Captain Ritchie; and the Australian Ambassador to the United States, Sir James Plimsol]. They will do a very careful and well-considered job which may take some time. Honourable senators would be aware that there are all the time in this scene proposals for a re-equipment of the Australian airline industry, both for domestic operations and for Qantas. In the light of the present state of the negotiations, my personal view, which I have made known to the Department, is that we are not in a situation to take up any further orders for American equipment until such time as the negotiating position is more clearly established and the final results of present negotiations are known.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. In view of the concern expressed yesterday by the Minister about not passing the buck in relation to legislation to provide for warning labels on cigarette packets, would he now ask the Postmaster-General to intervene on behalf of the Victorian Anti-cancer Council? Will he ask the PostmasterGeneral to obtain the support of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the Anticancer Council in its efforts to have an anti-cigarette advertisement accepted by commercial television stations? How is it possible for commercial stations to refuse to play anti-cigarette advertisements which represent only a drop in the bucket compared with propaganda bombardment used to advertise cigarettes which are a proven health hazard? 1 can vouch for that having been an 80 cigarettes a day man until 3 years ago.
If you were an 80 a day man you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din. As I said in response to questions yesterday and again this morning, the Department of Health has no control over the advertising of cigarettes on radio and television or in any other media. Control of advertising on radio and television is vested in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department under the Broadcasting and Television Act. Under this Act the Director-General of Health has power only in relation to advertisements for talks on matters of health. I will refer the question to the PostmasterGeneral.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation and I express my alarm at the protracted nature of the investigation into the aircraft accident at Mascot. Is the Minister aware of the growing concern over this matter especially since, according to the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation, an overseas pilot landed a jumbo jet by the seat of his pants? Is the airport safe for the landing of aircraft by overseas pilots or are some overseas pilots not qualified to land at the airport?
– About the only thing that one would want to say positively here is that Senator Georges most certainly may express his alarm; it is his right to do so. The airport is certainly not unsafe. It is a highly efficient airport under very good control. There has been no problem in the landing of aircraft there for a very long time. The Director-General of Civil Aviation expressed an opinion, and very properly so, when it was claimed - I believe quite wrongly - not by the pilot but by somebody else that the pilot was not able to land safely. This is certainly not the case and it has not been the case for any other pilot. The honourable senator may rest assured that accident investigations by the Department are conducted extremely thoroughly and with great precision and technical ability in order to find out the facts and lay blame without fear or favour where it properly belongs. That takes time.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs a question. As the Australian Government recognises the South Arican Government and believes that there should be a free exchange of sporting teams, what principle underlies the Australian Government’s attitude compelling it to impose sanctions upon the South African Government?
– The Australian Government recognises the South African Government and maintains normal diplomatic and commercial relations with it. Secondly, the Government believes that so far as possible sporting arrangements between nations are best left to the sporting associations concerned. Thirdly, the Australia Government does not impose sanctions upon South Africa. However it is possible that the honourable senator has in mind a statement made by the Prime Minister when he was Minister for Foreign Affairs in August 1970 to the effect that Australia will not sell arms to South Africa. That is the Government’s policy. It is a clear one and is being adhered to.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science whether he can inform the Parliament how many children of Aboriginal and Island descent were enrolled in the 197 J school year final matriculation classes and university courses?
– Order! I do not understand how that matter can properly be the subject of a question without notice or how the Minister could be armed with statistics of that nature. I suggest that the question go on notice.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise: Is it not a fact that the United States Government has sought to encourage Turkey and Mexico to discourage some of their farming communities from cultivating plants which are the source of well know drugs? If the answer is in the affirmative, does not that destroy the credibility of trie view of world drug trafficking expressed in this morning’s Press by the wife of the New South Wales Premier?
– I do not feel that this is a matter on which I could usefully or sensibly comment. It seems to me to be a sort of conjecture based on an observation by the wife of a Premier on conditions in overseas countries. I do not feel that I would add anything to the discussion by making any further comment.
– My question, which I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the subject referred to a short while ago by Senator Lillico. I ask: What proportion of claims under the recently passed rural rehabilitation legislation are in respect of, firstly, reconstruction, and, secondly, farm build up? What percentage of such claims is currently being approved?
– Order! Senator Drake- Brock man, do you carry those statistics in your mind?
– No, Mr President.
– The question will be placed on the notice paper.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has Ansett Airlines of Australia given any reason for the curtailment of its flights from Melbourne to both Warrnambool and Portland in south-western Victoria? Is the Minister of the opinion that the schedule of flights proposed by the company taking over those routes will provide a better service to commuters than that which was previously provided?
– I do not have the details with me but I will try to remember them for the honourable senator. Ansett operates on the network with aircraft of the F27 variety. For those aircraft it is necessary to carry a certain number of passengers to operate an economically viable service! This has been one of the problems of the Victorian network for quite some time. Because of the proximity to Melbourne of most of the Victorian cities served by air and the availability of rail transport or fairly cheap motor car transport alternatives, there are problems in attracting sufficient loading for aircraft of that size at some of the country airports.
I made a trip around Victoria studying this matter. Ansett had to withdraw because it could not fill its aircraft with enough passengers to make the operation economic. Accordingly, this company dropped out of those routes. They were taken over by a group called Business Jets Pty Ltd operating smaller aircraft of the Beechcraft type. The information given to me about 2 days ago is that it would appear that the service would be at least as good as previously. Indeed, if anything it may be better in the sense that it will be more frequent and will carry people almost from door to door. It is one of the features of the Business Jets organisation that it has this air taxi cab arrangement which I think will serve the Victorian community quite well. 1 am hoping so.
– I again ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question which he has not yet answered. Are some overseas pilots not qualified to land at Australian airports? I also ask him a question of a different nature about factors which may be inhibiting the preparation of the report on the accident at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. What is the nature of the litigation currently in progress as a result of the collision between a Trans-Australian Airlines aircraft and a Canadian Pacific aircraft?
– I do not think it would be proper for me to comment on the flying ability of pilots employed by overseas airline companies. The present position is that all such pilots are properly trained and properly licensed to fly. We understand that to be that fact, and we examine their credentials when they are supplied by other countries in the total sense of those countries’ flying programmes. We assume that if these people are cleared by a responsible country ,to fly these aircraft then they are so cleared. We have no jurisdiction to say that we or somebody else believes that a certain pilot is not as good a pilot as one of our pilots and that he should not fly. Equally, Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is highly equipped with all the aids required for its purpose and people have succesfully flown, and still do, all types of aircraft to and from that airport. The honourable senator referred to the question of pending court cases relating to that accident. There are some matters under discussion in this respect. I am not too sure of my legal position in this regard and I would not want to comment on pending court cases that may be in embryo without getting advice from the Attorney-General. I will wait to get that advice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Up to December of last year has there been a total of over 11,000 persons eligible for registration under the National Service Act? Of that number have only 1,700 been prosecuted? If these figures are correct, are the chances of non-registrants being prosecuted less than the chances of registrants being called up for service?
– Figures relating to these matters were given to the Senate on a recent occasion. I do not carry them in my head. I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice so that I can have an opportunity to analyse them and to give a considered answer.
(Question No. 1152)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1205)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1224)
asked the Min ister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
No action has been taken to curb the source of this pollution.
(Question No. 1233)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
Australia enjoys normal diplomatic relations with Algeria, although accredited diplomatic representatives have not been exchanged. There is however diplomatic contact through the United
Nations and its Specialised Agencies and also through third countries in which both Australia and Algeria are represented. In addition, Australian commercial representatives have paid periodic visits to Algeria.
(Question No. 1234)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has furnished the following reply:
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics In addition, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia also maintained diplomatic representatives in Khartoum.
None of these countries has severed diplomatic relations with the Sudan.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1966-67, I present the 48th annual report of the operations of the National Debt Commission for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– I have received a letter from Senator Gair appointing senators to the following Standing Committees:
Education, Science and the Arts - Senator Byrne in place of Senator Kane, resigned.
Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade - Senator Kane in place of Senator Gair, resigned.
Social Environment - Senator Little in place of Senator Kane, resigned.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 7th September 1971 at 3 p.m.
Motion by (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) agreed to:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of General Business, Order of the Day No. 19 and Government Business, Order of the Day No. 1; if General Business Order of the Day No. 19 is not disposed of by 5.45 p.m. today that it take precedence over other general business after 8 p.m.
– At the request of Senator Gair and pursuant to notice, I move:
If the motion is carried I shall proceed to move the following motion:
After the consideration of General Business Order of the Day No. 19, intervening General Business be postponed until after the consideration of Notice of Motion No. 11.
Order of the day No. 19 relates to the appointment of Assistant Ministers. The Senate has agreed to the motion moved by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson that we shall proceed with that matter after 8 p.m., in priority to other business, if it is not completed by 5.45 p.m. The effect of my second motion, if carried, would be that contingent upon the outcome of the debate on the appointment of Assistant Ministers notice of motion No. 11 would take precedence over notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name. Notice of motion No. 1 seeks the setting up of a select committee to inquire into Australian defence. The motion for suspension of Standing Orders is to enable the other motion to be moved. Those will be the terms, purport and intent of the subsequent motion.
– I oppose the motion.
– You could agree to this and oppose the second motion.
– As the leader of the Government interjected, I could agree to this motion and, when the Standing Orders are suspended, I could oppose the second motion, but I do not think it matters much when I register my opposition. The purpose of moving the motion has been explained. Senator Byrne has notices of motion No. 1 and No. 11. He has the first and the last. He is seeking to enact the biblical expression ‘the last shall be first’. I suggest that he is giving scant consideration to notices of motion Nos. 2 to 10. It is true that he feels that the nature of No. 11, dealing with the reprimand administered by the Senate, is such that, if it is to be removed, it should be removed at the first opportunity. I concede that. It is also a matter of opinion. There should be no leapfrogging of items of General Business, unless there is agreement between the Parties or unless there is a tremendous urgency to deal with an item.
I wish he would withdraw his motion. If we agree to act along the lines that he is thinking, we will get ourselves into a fair bit of turmoil later. When the Independents find their feet, they will be moving similar motions. The present situation is vastly different to that which we have had over the years. I am afraid that we will have to discipline ourselves into some order. If Senator Byrne feels that No. 1 should be taken off the notice paper altogether - and I feel that there would be and argument in favour of that, but that is his decision - he should ask leave to withdraw No. 1. We have been snookered by No. 1. The Australian Labor Party has given a tremendous amount of time to item No. 2 that is in my name. I regard it as a tremendously important item. I regard it as being of more importance as the date of an election approaches. I think that this is one matter that should be brought to the public’s attention and that all Parties should have something to say about it. Election times can be valuable, apart from providing the opportunity of banging one another over the head. It could be a great public debating forum. Whatever the results on election night, if we have brought something to the public’s notice, if we have had a good debate on it, if we have brought out the various points of view and if we have caused the whole nation to think along the lines we suggested, we have achieved something.
I cannot support Senator Byrne’s motion. My Leader will not be back until this afternoon. I do not know what thoughts he has on this, but I think that his thoughts would be along the same lines as mine. Of the next 6 items of General Business Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has 2, Senator Murphy has 2 and Senator Devitt and myself have one each. I do not think that we should proceed with the last item of business. I do not think that we should elevate it over other items. We should not elevate it to No. 1. This is not a very good idea. Senator Byrne has told me that he would be quite prepared to see No. 1 moved further down the list. He does not want that item to hold its position. That would mean that when we came back to General Business - I must be fair to him on this - No. 2 would be debated. That is not the point. If Senator Byrne withdraws item No. 1, we could move to No. 2. We could debate that, subject to a few contingencies that are involved. We would be prepared to debate the items and to dispose of them as rapidly as we can, if we can get a crack at them. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson might not wish to proceed with the 2 that stand in his name. At such short notice I cannot agree that we should elevate the last item on the notice paper to make it the first item on the notice paper.
(12.22) - As 1 understand the position, the points at isue are being debated on the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders rather than on the substantive motion. The view I hold is that if Senator Byrne wishes to move to rearrange General Business that is his inalineable right. Every senator has that right. The will of the Senate will prevail. If the substantive motion is carried, there will be some rearrangement of business. The inclination of senators on this side is that we will not oppose the substantive motion.
– Like Senator Willesee, I feel that I have to oppose the change suggested by Senator Byrne, for many of the reasons mentioned by Senator Willesee. If one looks at notice of motion No. 1 in the name of Senator Byrne, one finds that it was placed on the notice paper on 3rd March 1970. Item No. 11, which he desires to bring forward and to debate in lieu of Item No. 1, was placed on the notice paper on 17th August 1971. Item No. 1 has been on the notice paper for 17 or 18 months. It is quite true, as Senator Willesee said, that until such time as item No. 1 is disposed of all other items are snookered. I merely put forward this thought: If the item was important enough in March 1970 to be put on the notice paper, there have been a number of opportunities of which Senator Byrne could have availed himself in order to dispose of that item and enable items placed on the notice paper by other people to be dealt with.
– It could be discharged.
– I think I overhead Senator Byrne say that he could have the position of that notice of motion on the notice paper changed. If it was important in March 1970, why have we not been able to deal with it and get it off the notice paper? If it was not important, why has it laid there for so long? -Let us clear the deck. Let us get on with the business of this Parliament. There has always been a tendency for this Parliament to sit on and on towards the end of a session, when we become short of time in which to dispose of the business. We are now in the early part of a session, and we have the opportunity to dispose of some of these matters which are important to the people who put them on the notice paper. They may be important also to the parties those people represent. I believe that we should go along with the thought that notice of motion No. 1 must be cleared from the notice paper. If Senator Byrne now considers that it is not important, as it was in March 1970, let him seek leave to have it discharged from the notice paper so that we of the Australian Labor Party can bring forward notice of motion No. 2 standing in the name of Senator Willesee.
– in reply - A number of matters arise here. The first is the fact that I am attempting to give notice of motion No. 11 an order of importance and priority above that of another notice of motion standing on the notice paper. Notice of motion No. 11 is an important motion by its nature. It seeks to rescind a resolution of the Senate and to revoke a discipline imposed by vote of this chamber on 2 citizens of this country and the people they represented. Nothing could be more serious than that a parliamentary reprimand or parliamentary discipline should be imposed on a citizen. If, in the opinion of any member of the chamber, or more particularly of the chamber itself, that discipline was wrongly imposed, it should not be allowed to remain for one moment longer than is reasonably practicable. That is why I give this notice of motion a degree of emphasis and priority that otherwise a motion would not attract.
On 13th May the Senate adopted the report of the Committee of Privileges on the conduct of representatives of 2 newspapers in Australia regarding information that had come prematurely from the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse.
– I do not think you should canvass the subject matter.
– No. This is just on the time question. On 14th May the Senate, by resolution, imposed a certain discipline on 2 gentlemen. On 19th May I indicated in this chamber that I was concerned about the propriety of that procedure. I did that in a very short contribution in a debate late at night. The only body that can rectify this situation is the Parliament. I think the Parliament adjourned that night until we resumed only last week.
– We adjourned the next day.
– Well, the next day. Therefore, I gave my notice at the first practicable opportunity when the Parliament resumed, as I thought it was proper to do if my proposition is correct, namely, that a parliamentary discipline that may have been wrongly imposed should not be allowed to rest unduly long on any citizen of this country. That is why I am now attempting to give the matter a degree of urgency of the kind I have indicated by attempting to superimpose it on other items on the notice paper.
– What about notice of motion No. 1?
– I will deal with that now. I have dealt with the first question. The second is that I purport to have notice of motion No. 11 take the place of notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name, which relates to the reference to a select committee of the Senate of the defence situation in Australia. That notice of motion has stood on the notice paper for quite a long time, as Senator Poke has said. But it has not been allowed to impede the discussion of other items of General Business. Many matters of General Business have been discussed ahead of it. As I mentioned in the Senate on a previous occasion, I arranged with Senator Murphy that we would be prepared to let notice of motion No. 1 be postponed until after other matters in which he was interested came forward. We have never allowed it to remain as a block in the path of the discussion of other matters.
But at this stage we think, as we have though all along, that as time has gone on the importance or significance of that item has been eroded to some extent. That is why we have not insisted on it always taking its place according to its priority on the notice paper. Now we are prepared - 1 think Senator Poke made the point wellto ask that that item be discharged from the notice paper. In the event of that happening, I would then seek to replace it with the item which I now put forward to the Senate with the degree of urgency that I have tried to indicate must necessarily be attracted to it. That is the position. It is an important matter that I raise. I give it due importance. But I do not wish to clutter up the notice paper by taking the No. 1 position for it and retaining the No. 2 position for the other notice of motion standing in my name, which I am now prepared to have discharged from the notice paper.
In addition, apart from the erosion of importance because of the passage of time, the Budget discussions will allow opportunities for debate on the defence situation. It is probably appropriate that that vehicle be used for the discussion of that matter.
– You will have to amend your motion.
– No, I will not. If the honourable senator is referring to the motion I have now moved, I point out that it has nothing to do with that. So, if leave is required, I will ask for leave to have notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name discharged from the notice paper. That is the reason why I ask the Senate to grant a suspension of Standing Orders and to support the motion I wish to move in order to allow the matter relating to the journalists to be discussed as soon as practicable.
That the motion (Senator Byrne’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Byrne) proposed:
That after the consideration of General Business, Order of the Day No. 19 relating to Assistant Ministers, intervening General Business be postponed until after the consideration of Notice of Motion No. 11.
– I do not intend to debate this motion. I took the opportunity of debating this question on the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. Had we defeated that motion, of course, it would have been a much more expeditious way of handling the matter. The Australian Labor Party will vote against this motion but not press it to a division because the Senate has already made up its mind on the first motion. 1 suggest to honourable senators that we should look very carefully at the handling of this matter. If everybody in the Senate is going to jack up against the
Labor Party it means that the use of many of the forms of the House can be denied to the official Opposition. The suspension of Standing Orders could be moved in relation to all sorts of things. We could even be gagged from speaking if that was thought necessary, and our only protection would be you, Mr President, and you as the first among equals would have to do what this Senate decides. I am not suggesting that this is what is in the minds of honourable senators. I merely say, particularly to new senators, that these matters should be watched very carefully, because I do not think they want to finish up in the position that I have indicated. I concede to them that on this occasion they were impressed with the argument put forward by Senator Byrne and with the urgency of this matter. I do not think for one moment that they want to finish up at the end of that lane.
– I agree with every word that Senator Willesee said even though I voted in favour of Senator Byrne’s motion. I did that only because I felt that his proposition to delete notice of motion No. 1 and substitute No. 11 deserved some credit in this instance. But what Senator Willesee has said is absolutely correct. If the Senate were not careful some honourable senator who had an item at the beginning of the notice paper could keep on bringing up the ones at the end. In fact, Senator Willesee has put the idea into the heads of the independent group. We too might even play. I think we should accept Senator Willesee’s remarks for the future. But when we are dealing with a special case such as the one raised today I am prepared to support it.
– There is just one observation I would like to make. Senator Turnbull used a phrase of which I wish to take notice. He referred to an independent group. I recognise senators; I have not any recognition of independents as a group.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In accordance with the notice of motion I gave yesterday, I move:
The proposal includes construction of sewers, pumping stations, rising mains, macerator station and a deep sea outfall. The estimated cost of the proposed works is$3. 2m.I table a plan of the proposed works.
These works are referred because of the lapse of time since sewerage schemes for Darwin covering the northern and central zones were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in March 1969, and because of the concern of members of the Darwin community that a satisfactory standard of treatment should be achieved having regard to environmental factors. The completion of a central sewerage scheme for Darwin is an urgent and essential requirement to permit further development in this area of Darwin. I request the Committee’s co-operation in making it an objective to table its report during the present parliamentary session.
I take the time of the Senate for only one minute to explain that this is not treated as a formal motion in a technical sense, although I anticipate not the slightest opposition to it. I am giving this opportunity to the Senate to join in with the House of Representatives which passed a similar motion yesterday. It is in deference to the concerted public opinion that has come from the port authorities, municipal council, some Legislative Councillors and some medical practitioners who have the opinion that the present proposal for the central sewerage scheme in Darwin is not up to the standard that should be required. This proposal is to give our statutory committee of the Parliament - the Public Works Committee - an office in the affairs of the Government in this matter and will enable it to give consideration to those folk who are prepared to come forward with evidence on oath so that it can consider the propriety and the standard of this scheme. I may say that we have given close departmental consideration to the matter since these objections were raised but I am sure that the Senate will consider it entirely appropriate, having regard to the degree of importance that we attach to any suggestion of pollution at the present time. that we consult the Committee’s judgment after taking evidence as to the appropriate standards of this scheme.
– I would like to speak to this motion very shortly. To my knowledge it is a unique procedure that a matter of this sort should be referred back to the Standing Committee on Public Works. As one who took part in 2 aspects of this consideration it is clear that what is now proposed to be done is a measure of the heightened sense of awareness of the general public on matters concerning the pollution of the environment. Although I believe that the first investigation made by the Public Works Committee into this matter was a sound and thorough one it is clear that this new approach comes from general public awareness and a desire for higher standards of cleanliness in the environment. I think that this inquiry will be far reaching with important effects upon the whole matter. The question which will have to be faced is the extent to which the public is prepared to go to pay for such an upgrading of standards. This inquiry will have a far reaching effect on sewage disposal throughout the area of the Australian environment. This is not only a unique occasion but also one which marks in this Senate the heightening awareness of the need for environmental control.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill returned from House of Representatives without amendment.
– I seek leave to make a statement in relation to Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 2, standing in my name.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On 12th May I gave notice of a motion for the disallowance of certain Export (Fresh Fruit) Regulations. At the time of giving this notice I informed the Senate that it was a holding notice in order that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee could have time to pursue further its investigation into certain aspects of those regulations which were of concern to members of the Committee. The Governor-General has now promulgated amendments to the Export (Fresh Fruit) Regulation which overcome the objections raised by members of the Committee. Under the circumstances I seek leave to withdraw Notice of Motion No. 2, Business of the Senate, standing in my name on today’s notice paper.
The Committee’s investigations into this matter will be set out in a general report on the Committee’s activities. I hope that that report will be tabled this evening or, at the latest, in the next week of sitting. In conclusion, I would like to say that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the Department of Primary Industry have been very co-operative in this regard. As a consequence, the suggestions made by the Committee have now been incorporated in the amendments that have been promulgated. The Committee is very pleased with the co-operation it has received.
Notice of motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Debate resumed from 24 August (vide page 288), on motion by Senator O’Byrne:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add ‘, and refers the statement to the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications to inquire into and report upon a question as to the vacation of office by a senator, namely whether, if a senator is appointed an assistant Minister of State, his place shall become vacant’.
– Mr President, you will recall that the debate on the appointment of Assistant Ministers was adjourned shortly after I had begun to speak. I think that the history of this matter is fairly well known. The House of Representatives has agreed to allow the appointment of Assistant Ministers in that chamber. I will not go into the history of the matter because I think it was dealt with fairly fully by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) the other day. But I shall repeat very briefly what I said before the debate was adjourned. I said that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) had made out a case for the granting to him and other Ministers in this chamber of assistance to enable them to carry out their ministerial duties. I also made the point that I thought the Leader of the Government’s case would have been better made if it had been made out for the appointment of extra Ministers in this chamber.
The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out the peculiar imbalance that exists where 5 Ministers in this chamber represent between them 22 Ministers in the other place and the 22 Ministers in the other place represent between them only 5 Ministers here. One of the things that bedevils question time in this chamber is the fact that one cannot honestly expect a Minister in this chamber to answer off the cuff a lot of the questions asked concerning the administrative responsibility of a Minister in the other place, although sometimes he can answer questions on matters of high principle or policy or on matters of public moment at the time.
I believe that the timing of the announcement of the proposal to appoint Assistant Ministers was very bad. Troubles have occurred in the Liberal Party of Australia. It is only natural, in view of what has been happening in the Liberal Party, that accusations would be made to the effect that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was seeking a wider power base within his Party by appointing Assistant Ministers at this stage. I think the argument would have been based on completely different grounds if the Prime Minister had said that he wanted 1, 2 or 3 extra Ministers because of the extra responsibilities devolving on the Government of the day.
Mr President, I seek clarification on certain aspects of what would happen in the event of this proposal being implemented. The Prime Minister has said that he was looking at the possibility of Assistant Ministers handling the passage of a Bill in the Committee stage of the debate. There seems to be some confusion about this matter. I wonder whether the Prime Minister considered the situation in the Senate. I have seen occasions when the Minister at the table in the Senate has agreed on the spot to accept certain amendments that have been put forward. What has happened is that the responsible Minister in this chamber has considered the force of the argument and decided that the amendment put forward would not materially alter what the Bill was trying to achieve and has accepted the amendment. It is in this way that amendments the Opposition has put forward from time to time have been accepted. 1 think it would be a very backward step if the right of the responsible Minister in this place to do this were taken away from him. The Senate is, after all, a House of review and lots of honourable senators like to think that, the Senate does from time to time amend legislation. It would not be in the interests of the Senate if the right to accept amendments were taken away from an Assistant Minister who was handling a Bill in the Committee stage of the debate. The proposal is at present that there will be only one Assistant Minister in the Senate, namely, Senator Marriott. However, even Senator Marriott is not immortal, which means that another honourable senator will have to take his place in due course. The question of the personalities involved is not important. All I am saying is that it would not be in the interests of the Senate if the Assistant Minister were not in a position to make a decision on the spot as to whether an amendment should be accepted.
Of course, the Ministerial responsibility does not end when the Parliament rises. In fact, weekends are favoured by Ministers for the making of statements. The situation could arise where a statement made by an Assistant Minister is challenged by the Opposition. Will we have the situation of the Minister saying that that he cannot be responsible for the policy enunciated by an Assistant Minister? Let us take the confusion that has arisen in the last few days about the terms of the proposed wool subsidy and the social service benefits granted in the Budget. I suppose it could be said that I read the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) a little cursorily at the time, but when I read it I thought that all pensioners were to receive a pro rata increase. According to what has been said in the other place and to Press reports this is not so. So confusion can arise as to exactly what a government means when it says one thing or the other.
I am not going to debate the constitutional validity of the appointment of Assistant Ministers. Frankly, I think that there is some doubt about the proposal. I mention this matter only because the Opposition has proposed that the Committee on Disputed Returns and Qualifications should inquire into whether the place of a senator who is appointed an Assistant Minister of State becomes vacant. It was said the other day that if an appeal is made it should be to the High Court of Australia. I suggest it is putting the cart before the horse to do that. The Committee may be able to clear up beyond all possible doubt the constitutional question. It may satisfy the Senate that there is no constitutional doubt at all as to the validity of these appointments. I leave the constitutional position on that basis. I do not think that a great deal more can be said about it. This matter has bean well canvassed. The Australian Labor Party has simply moved that this Committee be asked to inquire into this matter and advise the Senate accordingly. If honourable senators opposite would prefer this matter to be referred to another committee for proper analysis they should say so. The Committee on Disputed Returns and Qualifications has been nominated by the Opposition because it would have every opportunity to call witnesses and seek opinions from law societies and that sort of thing.
Some reference has been made to what happened in the other place in relation to the staff available to members of the Opposition vis-a-vis the Government. Some pretty sarcastic things have been said about this matter. The fact of the matter is that the Liberal-Country Party coalition has the same number of members in this chamber as the Australian Labor Party. In the other place there is a difference of 7 in favour of the coalition. There are at present 27 Ministers and they have the backing of a very considerable staff. It is proposed to appoint 6 Assistant Ministers. I presume that the Assistant Ministers will be backed by a reasonable staff and will have the advantages of travel facilities and so on. Only 4 members of the Australian Labor Party have any extra staff. I have 2 more staff members than a normal honourable senator would have and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has 3. It goes up the scale to Mr Whitlam who has a staff which I believe satisfies his needs. It is a rather uneven state of affairs.
The United States of America has realised this in its handling of the position over the years. I have not been to Washington but I understand that the parliamentary reference library is a quite fantastic organisation. If one has a question, say, about foreign affairs one can be connected by telephone directly to the particular desk dealing with that subject, or even to a section of a desk. Always in those situations the staff is equal in salary and status for both Government and Opposition. 1 suppose one could be cynical and say that the Government holds the whip so why should it give the Opposition anything. But this should hardly be the position when we are trying to put before the Australian public the great debates that should take place. It is not sufficient for a government to steamroll things through the Parliament, to say that this is the law of the land and everyone must obey it. I suggest that in that way we will finish up making bad laws.
Her Majesty’s Opposition in another place and in the Senate has a responsibility to put an opposing point of view, to make an examination of legislation and to suggest amendments, as we very frequently do. Often we agree with a proposal. However, time and again in the Labor Party Executive when it has been our responsibility to recommend to our caucus the action that we should take on a particular Bill we have come to a dead end because we have not had sufficient information. The only information that we have been able to get has been that which the Government has been acting on and the Government has not been getting a second opinion as it were. In that case we have a situation where we are stultified by not being able to make a proper examination of legislation. Bills have been amended or even withdrawn because matters which should have been considered in the first place did not come to the knowledge of members of Parliament for a long time.
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson made the point that in his new portfolio he expects, on information that he has been given, to receive between 5,500 and 6,000 letters each year. That is a lot ot letters, particularly in view of the increased postage. But surely this is not an argument for the appointment of an Assistant Minister who, if I recall accurately the statement by the Prime Minister, will be occupied in the policy-making side of the business rather than worrying about this sort of thing. Also I suggest that many of the letters to which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has referred will be repetitive. We know perfectly well that time and again we have one problem raised by several people. A problem which arises from legislation does not hit one family only; it hits many families. We find that not only in relation to health but also in relation to immigration and social services there is frequent repetition of the same type of problem. I suggest that answers to problems of that kind should be prepared by officers who are experts in that field. Frequently I receive from Ministers letters which have been signed by their secretaries. I do not take any objection to this practice. At times my secretary signs letters on my behalf, especially if it is an interim letter or when I am sending copies of statements or Bills to somebody. That is why we have a staff. I suggest that the job of replying to correspondence is a task for expert staff and not for a person who will be engaged in the policy-making side of government.
Another thing that worries me is a matter which has become a problem for the Pentagon where, because of its tremendous size, there is a bogging down and things become completely lost. The same thing happens here. How often do we write to Ministers raising some problem only to find suddenly, perhaps 6 months later, that the inquiry has been lost arid the whole matter has to be started again? Already between the departments and the parliamentary process we have Ministers end the Cabinet, but now it is intended to interpose what might be referred to in Australian Rules football as the 19th man and in cricket as the 12th man. I do not know how many there are in a rugby team.
– In the proper football game, Rugby Union, it would be the 16th man.
– I do not intend to go into that; I do not recognise either of those codes. This extra echelon will lead only to a bogging down. We have been talking about regulations and ordinances. Senator Wood, who for 13 years was my chairman while I was a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, will recall one occasion while Senator Wright also was a member of the Committee when we worked on a matter and cross-examined witnesses for weeks, finally recommending the disallowance of a regulation which had been 13 years in the making, going right back to Chifley’s day. The original minute on that matter was in Chifley’s handwriting. After 13 years that regulation was finally disallowed. It is very nice to be able to say ‘Give us more staff’ or ‘Give me assistance to permit me to handle this material’, but it can lead to a bogging down. I remind the Leader of the Government that irrespective of what might happen in this case, the course proposed will produce a tremendously unfair advantage to the Government of the day. Nobody is immortal, even in the field of politics, and governments can change. I would certainly hope that if we were in government we would give to the Opposition a far better deal than unfortunately has been given to us. In saying that I do not point the finger at any particular person; it is just something that has grown up and been accepted. But with the pressures today we find the task of trying to cope with the situation becoming more and more onerous.
It is tremendously important that both sides of a case should go before the public. Suddenly to jack up the numbers of staff available to members on one side of the Parliament without doing the same for the other side is, to put it as gently as I can, terribly unfair. I sum up by saying that I believe that what is proposed leaves room for a constitutional doubt. But I do not want to argue about that; I want that matter to be considered by experts who can advise us. The delay in doing this need not be great. There has already been a delay in making the appointments. The Parliament will not be sitting next week, and I am sure that the Committee could quickly call for legal advice. If there is a doubt, surely this is the time to remove that doubt, instead of waiting for some years to pass and for somebody to raise the question with the High Court. The situation which might arise then could be worse than the position that we find ourselves in today. I suggest that it is terribly uneven and unfair to build up the staff and capability of the Government without doing the same for the Opposition.
Finally, I fear that the Senate itself will be damaged if we take away from this place the flexibility and goodwill which have grown up. I am sure that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson would agree that we have been able to amend and improve legislation with a minimum amount of abrasiveness because of the goodwill that has developed. In the Committee stage we always do a good job with legislation - I think far better than the job done by other places that I can think of which are not far away. I do not think that in the Committee stage the Government can ask an Assistant Minister to sit in the chamber and decide whether an amendment should be accepted. I suggest that the Government would suffer no harm and nothing would be lost, but quite an amount of good would be done by examining the situation in the first instance.
– The matter being discussed falls into 2 distinct parts. On the one hand we have the constitutional aspects of the appointment of Assistant Ministers, and on the other hand we have the practical needs for the appointment of Assistant Ministers. Both this afternoon and on Tuesday evening Senator Willesee referred to what he described as constitutional doubts in respect of the appointment of Assistant Ministers. Because of the existence of those doubts he supports quite strongly the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. As far back as 1952 one of the most eminent constitutional lawyers of the land, Sir Robert Menzies, the then Prime Minister, backed by his eminent advisers of those days, said that there was no constitutional bar to the appointment of Assistant Ministers. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) said here on Tuesday that the need for a reference to any body or authority as to the constitutional propriety of establishing the office of Assistant Minister was non-existent. He was backed by the legal opinions which are being offered at the present time to our Ministers. So we have a wealth of eminent constitutional lawyers who say there is no doubt on this matter. I believe that reference to the Committee on Disputed Returns and Qualifications, as suggested by Senator Murphy, is unnecessary.
On the practical side of things the need for the appointment of an Assistant Minister in this place is real. The Assistant Minister would assist in this place the Leader of the Government who has the very onerous work of leading this chamber. As well, he is a member of Cabinet and is, and must be, inundated with the responsibilities which devolve upon his 2 high offices. I feel that his work and the work of the Senate as a whole can be enhanced and improved by the assistance of one competent to assist. So from the point of view of constitutional correctness I have no doubt about the appointments. I see the real need in this place for assistance, particularly for the Leader of the Government. He has a portfolio now which is possibly the most demanding of any portfolio so far as correspondence from the electorate at large is concerned. It is expecting too much from any person to carry the responsibilities of the diverse offices which constitute this gentleman’s responsibilities for him not to have assistance such as that proposed. Maybe it is so that there should be further ministerial appointments in this place with a division of work among a greater number, but for the time being it is the considered opinion of the Government that the situation is met by the appointment of Assistant Ministers. I support this contention and, therefore, the motion to take note of the ministerial statement concerning the appointments and I reject the amendment moved by Senator Murphy.
The ministerial statement which has been laid down in the Senate is important because it means that a departure in practice has been embarked upon and the Senate is to have an Assistant Minister, a senator appointed with that designation. I take the opportunity - perhaps it might be considered somewhat premature as was the announcement - of congratulating Senator Marriott who is the one designated in this chamber to be Assistant Minister to assist the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). We have here some of the elements of the executive system of government although we operate under the Westminster system of government, which is the system of Cabinet responsibility and not the executive type of government. But we have a strange phenomenon in that we have senators seated here as members of the Executive Council, and we shall now have a member of the Executive Council who is an Assistant Minister by that title. It does raise the whole question as to the wisdom of having the Executive represented in this chamber at all. However, that is not an exursion on which I propose to embark because that is accepted practice and it does operate in some sort of strange misalliance between the executive and the Westminster systems of government.
What I am concerned about is the developing practice of Senate Ministers being required to assume a greater and greater burden of work and for that reason, if for no other reason, I welcome the appointment of an Assistant Minister who, even in this rather minor degree, can take some of the workload from the shoulders of, in this case, Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson who administers a heavy portfolio in addition to being the Leader of the Government in this chamber. I think it is time we looked at the distribution of ministerial strength between the 2 Houses. The figures as we look at them over the years are illuminating. Ministers are appointed under the Ministers of State Act and the appointments go back to the federation. I, will seek leave later to incorporate the statement from which I read in Hansard. In 1901 under the Act the number of Ministers could not exceed 7, and in that year there were 6 Ministers in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. There was one Assistant Minister carrying the title of vice-president. That position obtained until 1915 when the ratio was still 6 Ministers in the House of Representatives to one in the Senate. In 1915-16 the ratio moved to 7 Ministers in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate, one vice-president and one Assistant Minister.
In 1916-17 the ratio had moved from 6 to 2. I might say that the vice-president and the Assistant Minister were both in the Senate. In 1916-17 the ratio had moved from 6 Ministers in the House of Representatives to 2 Ministers plus one Assistant Minister in the Senate. In the House of Representatives then there was one vicepresident and one Assistant Minister. In 1917 the position moved to 7 Ministers in the House of .Representatives and one in the Senate - I leave out reference to the Assistant Ministers and vice-presidents - and from 1918 to 1923 the ratio was 7 to 2. From 1923 to 1929 the ratio moved to 8 to 1. Between 1929 and 1932 there were 9 Ministers in the House of Representatives but none in the Senate. In 1935 there were 7 Ministers in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate, plus one vice-president in the Senate and 4 Assistant Ministers in the House of Representatives which appears to be a, ratio of 11 to 1 or 2. The story is an interesting one. In 1938 the ratio moved from 10 Ministers in the House of Representatives to one in the Senate plus these Assistant Ministers and people of that character. In 1939 the ratio was 9 to 2, in 1940 it was 9 to 2 and in 1940-41 it was 9 to 3- In 1941 when the Ministers of State Act was amended to provide that the number of Ministers may exceed 11 but not exceed 19, there were 14 Ministers in the House of Representatives and 5 in the Senate. Later that year there were 1 3 in the House of Representatives and 5 in the Senate. From then until 11th May 1951 the ratio was 14 Ministers in the House of Representatives and 5 in the Senate.
Again the Ministers of State Act was amended in 1951 giving a permissible limit to the Ministry of 20. The ratio then was 15 to 5. Later in 1956 the Act was again amended to provide that the Ministry should not exceed 22. Those 2 additional Ministers were appointed in the House of Representatives which gave it one. Ministers while the Senate remained with 5. In 1964 the Act was amended and provided that the Ministry was not to exceed 25. Twenty Ministers were then appointed to the House of Representatives. The increase of 3 went to the House of Representatives and there was no increase in the Senate. In 1967 the Ministry was increased but was not to exceed 26. The additional Minister was appointed to the House of Representatives and the number in the Senate remained at 5. As recently as May this year the Ministers of State Act increased the number of Ministers to 27 and the extra Minister again went into the House of Representatives while the number in the Senate remained at 5. Now we have 6 Assistant Ministers of whom 5 are to be appointed to the House of Representatives and one to the Senate. This is a serious situation. This gross imbalance which is developing and which is being allowed to develop - apparently it is being deliberately developed - has very alarming consequences for this chamber. As more Ministers are appointed, as life becomes more complicated and as administration assumes greater responsibilities the area of operation of the Ministry becomes wider and deeper.
Five Ministers in the Senate are now expected not only to administer their own portfolios but also to represent in this chamber 22 Ministers in another place. I think, Mr Deputy President, that it is almost a physical if not an intellectual impossibility for that work to be adequately done. Surely at some stage the Senate must take a stand and say: ‘We require a better distribution of ministerial portfolios than obviously is operating and obviously will continue to operate. Now the Assistant Ministers are to be added, 5 of whom are in the House of Representatives. That will give ministerial representation of 27 in the House of Representatives and there will be 6 in the Senate. The proportion is dropping all the time with what I think are disastrous consequences for this chamber.
Honourable senators appreciate that a tremendous work load is carried today under the Westminster system of government by Ministers generally. In addition to the administration of their departments they are required to represent an electorate, as members of one of the Houses of the legislature. They are required to present Bills relating to their departments, to defend and to propound their administration, to answer questions in relation to their ministries, to present the estimates for their departments and in addition they are required to do all the things done by Secretaries of State under the executive system of government.
In addition to those duties that fall upon Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, Senator Drake-Brockman and other Senate Ministers they are now required to represent in this chamber 27 Ministers or Assistant Ministers in another place. That is done by 6 members of the executive government in this chamber. It is becoming increasingly an impossibility and I do not think lt is fair to the Senate Ministers. Certainly it is not fair to the Senate. We have an extra problem in this chamber due to the advent of the proportional system of representation. It was designed to have and does have inevitable parliamentary consequences which are evident in the presence in this place of an intermediate political group such as the Australian Democratic Labor Party and 3 independent senators. This group has been produced here only by the proportional system of representation so that segment of the people who have an inadequate number in each electorate to elect a member shall find parliamentary representation. But the effect of that is that the Ministry does not control this place numerically as it does another place and an additional parliamentary burden is therefore thrown upon the Ministers in this place because of the absence of mathematical control of the chamber and of the numbers. That means that there is a tremendous amount of parliamentary man.oeuvering to be done. I do not use that expression in any sinister sense.
It is the function and duty of the Government to present a legislative or administrative programme and to have it accepted by the Parliament. In a chamber such as this it can be done, with the present distribution of numbers only by negotiation, approach and very often by compromise. That adds an additional heavy burden to all the Ministers in this chamber, and a particularly heavy additional burden to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, the Leader of the Government in the Senate. These things should be considered when ministerial appointments are being made. The balance between the Senate and the House of Representatives should come under scrutiny, but apparently it does not.
We regard it as a very cherished right, as it is held in all systems of government, that private members should have an opportunity to interrogate continuously and closely members of the Executive. It is a right that is freely available in this place. The maximum time is given for questioning, not only by questions on notice but also by questions without notice. Any Minister in this place in addition to ans wering questions about his own department has to attempt to answer questions about the departments he represents. Admittedly an interrogating senator knows that a Minister in his representative capacity cannot answer in great depth, but it is to the credit of Senate Ministers that they do not inevitably pass it down the line by saying: T will refer that to the Minister I represent.
Ministers make a genuine attempt to satisfy the interrogation of senators, even in respect of the departments they represent, by supplying such information as comes to them. When the information sought is beyond their immediate knowledge they say that they will refer it to the Ministers they represent. But that does impose a tremendous strain and burden because they are answering questions on behalf of the Ministers they represent in relation to departments which they do not administer. Undoubtedly the response given to parliamentary questions is extremely sensitive, and if not properly done, it can involve a Ministry or the Government in considerable embarrassment. That is an additional responsibility and burden that rests upon Senate Ministers.
I have had figures taken out as to the load of interrogation which is raised in this place. I shall ask for this table to be incorporated in Hansard later. In 1970 1,903 questions were asked in the Senate without notice of the 5 Senate Ministers. In the same year only 1,188 questions were asked in the House of Representatives where, at that stage, there would be 21 or 22 Ministers. I emphasise that some of the questions asked in the Senate would be asked of Ministers in a representative capacity. As honourable senators are aware, Senate Ministers do not merely throw the questions aside by saying that they will refer them to the Ministers they represent. They attempt to make an immediate response in the interests of the interrogators. We can therefore take it that those 1,903 questions in the main would be questions that placed demands on the responsible Ministers, even though speaking only in a representative capacity.
Up to 20th May of this year in the Senate 940 questions were asked. Up to 6th May of this year in the House of Representatives only 494 questions were asked, or about half the number of questions asked in the Senate over about the same period.
– But there is unlimited time for questions here.
– Yes. 1 said that we are very generous with the time we allot for questions. I am not raising the point of whether we have too much or too little time for questions. I am saying that due to the generosity of the Standing Orders towards private members wishing to ask questions a tremendous burden is placed upon Ministers here. After all, it is not fair to honourable senators that except to an unavoidable extent they should be asked to accept answers from Ministers speaking in an unduly representative capacity which is becoming greater every day as the Ministry expands and the numbers of Ministers in the House of Representatives proliferate.
In addition to all those considerations we have now developed a very advanced committee system which is operating in the Senate. I do not refer now particularly to standing committees. I am referring more particularly to the Estimates Committees. We have established a series of Estimates Committees which come into operation just before the Appropriation Bill is presented. As honourable senators know, the Estimates Committees in great depth examine the accounts of a particular department according to the provisions in the Appropriation Bill and in comparison with the estimated and actual expenditure for the previous year.
Honourable senators who sit on the Estimates Committees are familiar with the system. The Ministers concerned appear before the committees accompanied by their appropriate departmental and subdepartmental officers. The members of a committee can interrogate at will. Each Minister will do his best to reply and will call upon the services of his departmental officers to assist him. Very often questions are directed to them, but in the main the burden of the responses is taken by the Minister who sits at the table with the committee in the presence of his departmental officers. This is not merely a gesture. It is a very real and penetrating examination of the Estimates. Unfortunately it has to be done only through the mouth and agency of another.
No Minister who, in addition to his own portfolio, is trying to keep his eye on another 5 or 6 departments - particularly major departments - can fairly be expected to discharge that task as it should be discharged and to the satisfaction of committee members. In saying that I should make it clear that Ministers who appear before the Estimates Committees attempt to answer questions to the best of their ability, irrespective of whether the questions relate to their own departments or to the departments of the Ministers they represent. They attempt to make a reasonable presentation to the committee and to answer the questions directed to them.
I put forward a very serious suggestion. I see no reason why Senate committees should be satisfied merely with the presence before them of representative Ministers. I pay due respect to those Ministers who, speaking on behalf of other Ministers, have appeared before the committees and to the best of their ability, and no doubt as a result of very hard work, have attempted to command the knowledge that may assist the committees. But at the best it is only a second hand exercise. I think that the Minister in charge of the department should appear before those committees. After all, if I were administering a department which was to be probed in depth and with intensity, as is done by the estimates committees, I would not only think about it but would welcome the opportunity of myself appearing and preenting my estimates and answering any questions on them. Whatever confidence I might have in the representative Minister, I would still prefer to do it myself. In those circumstances I think the Senate should seriously consider the question of extending invitations to Ministers sitting in another place to come before the Senate committees and present their estimates and answer interrogation by committee members.
Estimates Committee C, of which I am a member and whose chairman is Senator Laucke, has a number of departments under its jurisdiction. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) is the Senate
Minister responsible for the other departments dealt with and naturally his department comes within that Committee’s jurisdiction. But he also represents the Minister for Education and Science, the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for External Territories and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Those are major departments and I see no reason why Senator Wright should have to do his best, as he does, to strive to make some reasonable presentation before the Committee in relation to those major departments.
If the committee system is to work I do not see why, as we say in law, we should not have the best evidence. Why should we take second hand or hearsay evidence? Therefore, I intimate to the Senate at this stage and to Senator Laucke, the Chairman of Estimates Committee C which scrutinises those departments, that at a preliminary meeting of that Committee, when it is called into being for the purpose of examining the current estimates. I shall move, whether as to all departments or some of them at the beginning that an invitation be extended to the appropriate House of Representatives Minister to appear before the Committee and present his own estimates and answer interrogation. I do not know what will be the response of the Minister concerned or the response of the House of Representatives. I do not know whether the Committee will even attempt by any process to require the Ministers to be there should they decline to attend. I do not think the Committee would or should take such action. But I think that a Minister in another place should welcome the opportunity of the extension of such an invitation and of presenting and defending his estimates.
I find grave concern at the increasing disparity in the ministerial strength in this place compared with that in another place. Something will have to be done about it if this Senate is to be acquainted with the details of Government administration at the best possible level. What is to be the end of this process if it continues? Has the number 5 some magic about it so far as ministerial representation in this place is concerned? The number of Ministers here has not changed for 20 years. Is it that 5 Senate Ministers were considered adequate in 1951 and that 5 Senate Ministers are still considered adequate in 1971 while the Ministry has increased from 19 to 27? If the Ministry has been expanded, it must have been expanded for proper and legitimate purposes because of the extension of the arms of administration and the things which come within the embracing arms and solicitude of the administration. If that is so, obviously life has become more complex and more matters require parliamentary consideration. Therefore the Senate must be given the opportunity of playing its proper role in the investigation of the whole of Government administration. Ministers in this place should not be so over-burdened with representative capacities that it is physically impossible for them in any rational way to command such knowledge as can be of assistance to this chamber.
I support the Bill because at least it will give us further assistance in this place. The Senate should be articulate in expressing its considerable and growing concern at the increasing imbalance in ministerial responsibility in the 2 chambers. The Government should give serious consideration to reducing this imbalance and taking the burden off Senate Ministers so that it will be possible for the Senate to be better enlightened on the matters that must come before it. The Democratic Labor Party subports this Bill, and with the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the 2 tables to which I referred earlier.
– The appointment of assistants to senior Ministers is a matter purely for decision by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). It is not a matter about which a government supporter may make critical comment. This debate has been prompted by the decision of the Prime Minister that the
Federal Parliament will work better by the elevation of several members of the House of Representatives to a more senior situation and the elevation of a senator to the position of Assistant Minister. He did this obviously following an assessment of the volume of work done by certain senior Ministers. I imagine there would be unani mous agreement on the significant volume of work required to be done today by a Minister.
I find that I can agree with little of the basis of the reasoning put forward by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), who said that as he now is in charge of the Department of Health his work load will be very greatly increased. It seems to me that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, well knowing the enormous volume of work that he had and that he had a portfolio which perhaps did not attract the great public interest that the Department of Health attracts, would have been in a better situation if he did not have the Health portfolio in his hands. However, he made the point that that was one reason why he should have an assistant.
The work load with which Ministers have to cope can be likened to that which one finds in private industry today. Leaders of industry called upon to use discretion in the expenditure of many millions of dollars find that they need assistance on many levels. That assistance is readily found in private industry and I see no reason why it should not be found within the ministerial ranks in Federal Parliament. I think we should re-evaluate the situation of continuing to have only 27 portfolios in the Federal Government. I have previously expressed in this place the opinion that certainly the portfolio of the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) should be divided. I believe that the duties falling on the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) today should be split so as to give more representation to secondary industry, for example. In the case of the Postmaster-General’s Department perhaps the television industry should have more direct representation.
This decision to appoint Assistant Ministers is for the Prime Minister and perhaps his Cabinet to make. I know that in this instance the decision came as an announcement by the Prime Minister. He had sound reasons for making assistance available to Ministers by way of Assistant Ministers who will come from the ranks of members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate. I agree with this announcement. I feel that it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to make such an announcement.
The Opposition has raised constitutional aspects about the appointment of Assistant Ministers. I think that the general argument put by Senator Murphy was, we would all agree, interesting. One finds great difficulty in agreeing with his argument. The point that he put was that the appointment of Assistant Ministers may be a breach of section 44 of the Constitution. That stated that any person who holds any office of profit under the Crown, or who receives any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth, shall be incapable of being chosen or sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. I take as my guide in this matter the general arguments that were advanced when Sir Robert Menzies sought to appoint Parliamentary UnderSecretaries. Senator Greenwood quoted part of what Sir Robert said in 1952. Sir Robert said:
Mr Speaker has raised the question whether the appointment of a private member under these circumstances constitutes his appointment to an office of profit under the Crown. My colleague, the Treasurer, ha’s already stated to the House the view of the Attorney-General, who has advised that in his clear opinion a Parliamentary UnderSecretary
There is no difference between a Parliamentary Under-Secretary and an Assistant Minister. I reiterate:
If, as stated by the present Prime Minister, the appointment of Assistant Ministers will mean that they receive no extra salary but purely a reimbursement of out of pocket expenses and some allowances for extra travelling, I, believe that the community will receive value from the appointment of Assistant Ministers. If full time secretaries or some other persons were to be appointed, in my opinion that would involve hundreds of thousands of dollars being expended to give this type of assistance to a Minister. I reject the Opposition motion. The decision is one purely for the Prime Minister and one for which he is responsible.
– I listened with great interest when the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth
Anderson) made his ministerial statement. 1 support the action taken by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I was interested in some of the statements made by Senator Webster. I was rather amazed when he said that a decision of this nature should be left to the Prime Minister. I remind the honourable senator that last Friday a number of people on the Government side of the other House precipitated a crisis because they wanted to fortify their positions - or to pay a premium on an insurance policy; put it that way - by having the subject of the appointment of Assistant Ministers debated in Parliament. I can understand the shyness of the Senate Assistant Minister elect. He has not listened to the debate on this subject in case he is reduced to tears. For most of the debate he has remained out of the chamber. That is a modest attitude to adopt.
This subject precipitated a crisis. I venture to say - I doubt whether anyone is likely to contradict me - that those who expressed this view and who wanted to debate the subject in Parliament wanted to be fortified by the fact that it was discussed in Parliament. I can understand the sympathetic feelings that Senator Webster has for overworked Ministers, but there are ways of overcoming the problem apart from appointing Assistant Ministers. It must be remembered that the experiments that have been conducted in this Parliament over the years have not worked effectively. Probably one of those who was most consistent in his attitude to the appointment of Assistant Ministers, Parliamentary Under-Secretaries or whatever you like to call them, was the late Speaker Archie Cameron. He never recognised them. If an Assistant Minister is appointed in this chamber I doubt whether I would have any great desire to recognise him. As far as I am concerned, he would be merely a message boy for anybody who wanted to use his services. No dignity or no real importance would be attached to the position. He would probably lower his chances of getting promotion in future, but more of that in a few moments.
I ask whether the real reason for the appointment of Assistant Ministers was the desire of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to protect himself from the rear. Over a period of only a few weeks the sacking of senior Ministers has reduced this Parliament to a state of instability. We remember that famous vote in the not too distant past when he was able to carry with him only 33 people. Appointing 6 Assistant Ministers gives him additional support. It is almost certain that they will do his will and that they will carry out his wishes because they too will be looking over their shoulders to make sure they get a casual Cabinet vacancy. This is probably the only Government in the history of this country that has on the back bench a larger number of former Ministers than it has Ministers on the front bench. A number of people have been removed from office in recent months.
It has been said that there is no constitutional doubt about the ability of the Prime Minister to appoint Assistant Ministers. In my view - and I think in the view of certain members on the Government side - there is a constitutional doubt as to whether he can appoint Assistant Ministers. Those are the noises being made by the small voices whispering in the dark. It has been said that the Assistant Minister may not receive additional salary through the fear of disqualification from being a member of Parliament because of section 44 of the Constitution. It will be said that he holds an office of profit under the Crown. There are other ways in which rewards can be given. When the smoke and fire of the appointments have died down, will the Assistant Ministers receive an additional electorate allowance? Will they be entitled to have additional staff and staffing facilities? Will they receive additional travelling allowances? No doubt as a. reward they will receive additional overseas trips. No doubt they will be entitled to the use of a Commonwealth car. Will this entitlement extend to the use of a VIP aircraft? If one believes some of the stories that have been floating around during the last few days, the appointments might entitle them to some kind of favouritism in regard to the supply of a house in Canberra.
I want to dwell on this point for a moment, although it is not directly concerned with the appointment of Assistant Ministers. I quote from the editorial in today’s Canberra ‘Times’. If the Government appoints Ministers and Assistant Ministers whenever it feels like doing so, without constitutional authority, it will be doing exactly what the editorial in today’s newspaper stated. It stated:
In the normal course of events in the current economic climate considerable capital gain accrues to anybody fortunate enough to be able to buy an executive-type government house sold at the low prices made possible by large contracts. There are additional gains if the land is greatly superior, and if the house carries the prestige of the fact that it was built for and occupied by a Minister.
At this stage two questions must be asked. What will be the next privilege?
This is where this comment is relevant to the matter under discussion at the moment -
What will be the ultimate privilege? Already the situation has exceeded the bounds of propriety. The principle at issue is whether the holders of ministerial office should be entitled to profit from government housing brought under privileged conditions. . . .
The circumstances attending these privileged allotments inevitably bring Ministers’ actions and motives into the field of public speculation. This in turn must give rise to scandal.
So, when it is hoped no-one is watching rewards will be handed out to these people under the guise of their being Ministers of the Crown. The Prime Minister when speaking on the subject in the other place, waxed very eloquent. I shall quote only 2 or 3 paragraphs from what he said. He said:
I also believe that it is highly desirable to give young and talented people the opportunity to learn the responsibilities of government and of administration, to know the tasks to be performed by Ministers, to get a greater acquaintance of the departments of State and the officials involved and, I believe, therefore to prepare themselves for promotion firstly to ministerial and later to Cabinet rank.
– Would Senator Marriott qualify as young?
– I will have something to say on that in a moment. The Prime Minister also said:
Standing order 319 relates to the presentation of papers. We want to confer that right on the Assistant Ministers as well as on the Ministers themselves.
Then, near the end of his speech and before all sorts of rude interjections were made, he said:
I believe it is in the best interests of the government of this country and of members of this Parliament that they should have the opportunity to train themselves for appointment to the Ministry and, for that matter, for appointment to the Cabinet.
I ask, Mr Deputy President, what the former Ministers on the back bench of the Government side of the House think of a statement like that from their Prime Minister. At present there are more second hand Ministers who have been relegated to the back benches than have ever been seen in the history of this Parliament.
But let me refer again to that very fine statement by the Prime Minister. He said that he wanted very young men to be brought in to be trained. Whom did he select? One is Mr Robinson, at the very youthful age of 45 years. Another is Mr Dobie, who arrived in this world 12 months later. He is 44 years of age. One had hardly ever heard of those 2 men. They were not known in public life as having very great talents. Another is Mr Street, who is a comparatively new arrival in the corridors of power in Canberra. He is 45 years of age. Another is Mr King, who no doubt could qualify for student child endowment. He is very young at 51 years of age. Another is Mr McLeay, whose main contribution to democracy in this country has been to go to the African countries and say that Australia - particularly the churches - is riddled with Communists. He is a very youthful 49 years of age.
Now, without being disparaging in any way, I come to our own Senator Marriott - the man over whom the Prime Minister has waved the magic wand; the man to whom the Prime Minister proposes to say: ‘Arise, Senator, and take the position of Assistant Minister’. He is 58 years of age and will be 59 in the very near future. I am not saying that the man is incapable because of his age, but I am saying that this gives the lie to one of the Prime Minister’s reasons for appointing Assistant Ministers. He said: ‘I want young people’. At 25 years of age I was young; at 50 years of age I do not feel as energetic as I did 25 years ago.
Let me quote what Senator Marriott - the man who will accept this great mantle of authority and who will walk the corridors of this place saying: ‘I am an Assistant Minister’ - said in the Budget debate on 15th September 1970. These are the words of our future Assistant Minister:
Let me make a further suggestion for improving the Senate. The difficulties of servicing committees and ot solving the other problems which arise convince me that a suggestion I made a number of years ago when I was comparatively new in the Senate - it cannot be said that I am making it now at the latter period of my service in this place - is worthy of consideration.
So even Senator Marriott admits to himself and the Senate that he is no longer 25 years of age. He continued:
It is this: I do not believe that any Ministers of State should be in the Senate.
This man has decided to take this mantle, but last year he said that Ministers should not be in the Senate.
– I still agree with that statement; let us get that clear.
– The honourable senator will have his chance to speak a little later. I made reference to him once before on a theological basis. In his speech he went on to say:
There is nothing personal in this. I like all Ministers and I avoid as many as possible because I know how busy they are. I sincerely believe that the House of Representatives is the place where all the Ministers should be situated . . .
This is a House of review. It is not the executive chamber and was never meant to be the executive chamber. I believe that all those who are in the Executive should be gathered together in the executive chamber . . .
I quote that because I understand that this position of Assistant Minister was hawked around the Liberal Party by the Prime Minister before he could find a taker.
– It is all very well for the Government Whip to say: ‘Haw, haw’. He was known as Lord Haw-Haw at one stage. In any case, he did not come into this raffle because the position had already been refused by 2 younger men.
– Who were they?
– That is for your own Party room, is it not? It is just a shocking tragedy that it got out.
– Name them.
– If I name them Senator Sim will say: ‘So-and-so told you’ and he will have a witch hunt.
– Name them.
– I suggest that Senator Sim go back into his party room and discuss it there.
– You are making reckless statements.
– I am not making a reckless statement.
– You are.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order!
– If Senator Sim cannot find out through the normal channels of his party room, he can ask me publicly another time and I will tell him who the 2 men were. But I would hope that he would have the confidence of his party colleagues so that they would tell him who had the offers made to them. I think that is a fair enough accusation. I will back it up if Senator Sim has not the confidence of his own party members and is not able to obtain the information from inside the Liberal Party.
– Do you mean they have leaks?
– I heard that interjection. The other day I heard a person being accused in the other place of being ‘Willy the Leak’, or something like that; but I am not coming into that. In 1971 undoubtedly the work load of the ministries in this country has increased. That is justifiable. If it has not increased it is because the Ministers are not doing their job. But this is not the way to overcome the problem. As I said at the outset, if additional trained staff were appointed and if additional facilities were made available, a Minister ought to be able to do his job without having a coronary in the middle of a Budget discussion.
But, as has been mentioned by my colleagues in this place and the other place, it is significant that this very selfish Government wants to run everything its own way and is not prepared to extend any facilities at all to committees that are set up even by the Senate. Those committees work without staff and in rooms into which it is not possible even to take the necessary documents because of the lack of space. The Government is not prepared to staff the committees properly. By an expenditure of $400,000 or $500,000 - peanuts in today’s Budget expenditure of about $9,000m - these committees could be made to work effectively and well. There are members of the Parliament who are prepared to work hard and to be true representatives of the people. If members of the Government parties did not take this dog in the manger attitude or this head in the sand ostrichlike attitude, they would know what was going on around them. But they hang on to office so tenuously, by the very tips of their fingers, that they are not prepared to make any concession to anybody anywhere. They are turning this Parliament into a complete and utter mockery. The President comes into this chamber every morning to say prayers - I am sure that he does it with all due respect - while hypocrisy reigns supreme, while political immorality is a part of the life of this country today. In conscience as a Christian I cannot bring myself to join in the prayer period any more because I see this hypocrisy going on day after day.
The Government is trying to win friends. The Prime Minister hangs on to office with his toes and his fingers. He has to promote people into positions of Assistant Minister so that he can say to them: Do not desert me or I will put you on the back bench’. At the present time he is saying to many of his Ministers: ‘Do not desert me because I need your support. Without your support I cannot remain Prime Minister of this country.’ To me this is one of the tawdry, brassy little things behind the appointment of the Assistant Ministers. The Prime Minister is prepared to go to any extent to hang on to his office. For that reason, the reasons that I have explained previously and the reasons that have been explained by my leader in the Senate, I oppose these appointments.
– With reference to the prayer that is recited in this place every day when the Senate meets, I do suggest that Senator Keeffe could add one of his own. It would be in these terms: ‘May the Lord help me to be a little bit more charitable to my fellow man’. I think that would be most appropriate. One of the easiest things to do in this wide world is to disparage a fellow man. One of the easiest things in the world is to pour contumely on your fellow man. There are some people who are most adept at doing it and who love every word and minute of it. But we are not here to discuss the merits or the demerits of the people who have been appointed Assistant Ministers. We are not here to discuss whether some person or another in a party meeting got 33 votes or any other number. We are here to discuss whether or not it is warranted that an Assistant Minister should be appointed in this place. I believe that that is the only point at issue so far as we are concerned.
We have heard Senator Byrne and others speak about the disparity between the number of Ministers in this place and the number of Ministers in the House of Representatives. As the years have gone by we have missed out in that the number of Ministers in this place has not increased proportionately with the number in the other place. Although it may be said that Senator Marriott was at one time - and probably still is - opposed to the appointment of Assistant Ministers, in my view this does not preclude him at all from concentrating his activities on the position to which it is proposed to appoint him. We have heard it said that a Minister in this place represents about 4i portfolios in addition to his own. He is responsible in this place to about 4i Ministers in another place, and here we are looking askance at a proposition for some alleviation of the position, minute though it is. Even though we will get only one Assistant Minister in this place we are looking askance at the proposition that some assistance be given to the already overburdened 5 Ministers in the Senate.
It may well be that if we as a body say: No, we do not want an Assistant Minister in the Senate; we are not going to have an Assistant Minister in the Senate’, it will m no way alter the fact that Assistant Ministers will be appointed. It may well be that instead of an Assistant Minister being appointed to this place an extra one will be appointed to the other place. Indeed, I think we would be foolish to look askance at this proposition which has been offered to us. I know that it is a moot point, and some people argue that there should be no Ministers in this place at all. That position pertained at one time but we have to accept the fact that there are Ministers here. I believe that we should do what we can to alleviate the responsibilities they have. It does seem to me as one who has had no experience of these matters that the Health portfolio has tremendous responsibilities which involves a lot of work and a lot of contention. I for one am pleased to see that one man has been appointed to assist with the portfolio at least. I reject the idea entirely that we should not go along with his proposition. I repeat that so far as I can see if we do not it will not prevent the appointment of Assistant Ministers. They will still be appointed and probably will all be appointed to another place.
– Because I do not belong to any political party I can quite safely vote against this proposition. It has surprised me to see that all parties are willing to accept a little sop or a little bone which has been thrown to them so that they can hope in the future that one of them may obtain that morsel.
Senaor Gair - That does not include the DLP.
– I thought it had optimistic hopes one day of being the government, but apparently that is not so, so I will withdraw the Australian Democratic Labor Party from that group.
– That might have been your only chance of being an Assistant Minister.
– For heaven’s sake, we have just had a lecture about trying to disparage people. It seems to me that the practice in this chamber is that when a person does not agree with somebody else all he can do is criticise and try to disparage the other person for not having the same views.
– You reflected on us.
– I did not reflect on you.
– You said that we were going to vote in favour of this proposition in the hope of getting-
– I am sorry if I did reflect on you. When I made that remark the Democratic Labor Party did not cross my mind. I was thinking of the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. So you did not really come into my reckonings at all. If Senator Gair will let me I will come back to my point. I am opposed to the present proposal because it does not solve the problem that we have. Let us get down to the business of it. If we really believe that more Ministers should be appointed let us say so and readjust the position in the Senate. I am not indulging in personalities in relation to any of the Assistant Ministers who have been appointed or are about to be appointed. There may be good grounds for their appointment and they may well deserve such appointment. I am not attacking them. I also believe that if anyone needs an assistant it is the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). But that still does not alter the fact that I do not think we are going about it in the right manner. I believe that if we really want to take some of the burden off the Leader of the Government in this chamber we should appoint a House manager. In the other place there is a Leader of the House who conducts the business of that chamber and who lets the Prime Minister get on with his job. There is no reason why this could not be done here. The Office of Whip could be enlarged and the Whip could take over the duties of running the business of the Senate thus freeing the Leader of the Government in the Senate from some of his duties.
We are told that the Leader of the Government in the Senate must have assistance because he has the Health portfolio. But the next Leader of the Government in the Senate may be the Minister for Works. What would he have to do? Nothing at all. He could adequately carry on the job without an Assistant Minister. Can honourable senators visualise that eventually the position of Assistant Minister would be abolished? Of course not. Once these things commence they keep on multiplying and they continue. Is there any need for more Ministers? I shall not get into a dispute on whether we should have more Ministers in this chamber. To me that seems a totally different argument. The fact is that we do have Ministers here. Looking at Ministers and their portfolios we have seen the number rise to 27. Now Assistant Ministers are to be appointed. There are 180 members of Parliament and now roughly one-third of Government supporters will be Ministers or Assistant Ministers. We are getting to a ludicrous stage when we have so many Ministers. I ask honourable senators to look at the jobs which some of them have. There is a Minister for the Navy, a Minister for the Army and a Minister for Air. It takes 3 Ministers to conduct these departments which in Australia are small. These are people who should be made Assistant Ministers to the Minister for Defence. We have a Minister for Housing. That this is a full time occupation must be the laugh of the season. What does the Commonwealth Minister for Housing do? He allocates money. That is a full time job.
– He is responsible for war service homes too.
– Yes, but there are not many of them. Does the Minister allocate each home? Of course not. That is a policy matter. This department could be incorporated in another department. The multiplicity of these departments is increasing. I do not want to become personal, but the Minister for Works has the capacity to run 3 portfolios. Works is a negligible portfolio. It is not a full time job. The Minister for Repatriation has a Repatriation Commission which tells him exactly what do do. He sits by and makes pleasant noises to the returned servicemens associations, trying to woo voters. There is no need for a Minister for Repatriation. His duties could be included in the Health portfolio, the Social Services portfolio or one of the other portfolios.
Looking at some of the other portfolios, I suggest that Education and Science is important but it is still not a full time job. It could not be because, again, it simply requires the Commonwealth to hand out money. That is not a full time job. Most of these jobs are made full time jobs by the application of Parkinson’s Law. Any Minister can fill in his day, saying: ‘What a terrible job I have’, but do not tell me that the Minister for Works and the Minister for Housing have a full time job. What can the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Air do except go around inspecting troops, to the horror of the troops themselves? We allow this situation to expand and now we are going to have Assistant Ministers. I think that if we are to have all these Ministers there should be an increase in the number of Ministers in this chamber. Assistant Ministers should not be appointed. I think that an honourable senator should be appointed to manage this chamber and 2 more Ministers should be appointed here. In this Senate we have one-third of the number of members of Parliament and therefore I believe that in this chamber we should have onethird of the number of Ministers.
The correct way of dealing with the situation is to increase the number of Ministers in this chamber. We are told that at the moment the workload is unfair on the 5 Ministers here. That is true. They each have to carry out the work of representing 4i portfolios which are in the other place. But they do not have to do that. They can easily say: ‘Put that question on notice’. That is unsatisfactory but that is virtually what most of the Ministers do unless one advises them beforehand that one will be asking a question. Ministers in this chamber have to have a much wider range of knowledge than Ministers in the other House. If we had more Ministers here there would be no need for Assistant Ministers.
Finally we come to the matter of the privileges of Assistant Ministers. As everyone knows, once we start privilege it snowballs immediately. We only have to look back 3i years ago in regard to the VIP aircraft to see this. No-one was allowed to use them except the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and somebody else. Very soon that number of people increased. I read in the Press that the Australian Democratic Labor Party was going to raise the matter of the misuse of the VIP aircraft, although that Party has not raised the matter. We now find that all Ministers are using them. Junior Ministers are using them. Ministers are using them to go for holidays. A VIP plane has taken a Minister to the Gold Coast, to Townsville and other places. If we ask for the records this will be shown. Honourable senators can see that in time the VIP aircraft will become a common means of transport for all Ministers to use as part of their ordinary duties. I mention this situation as an example of snowballing. The same circumstances could apply to Assistant Ministers. Today we are told that they are not going to receive an extra allowance; there will be no perks. But the next thing we know, they will have to have a secretary, then 2 secretaries and then as they are on duty we will have to give them an extra allowance. This is how the situation develops. It snowballs with the result that although today we say that there will be nothing like that happening we know very well that in 6 to 12 months it will be happening. Then it is an accepted fact and nothing can be done about it.
Now that Senator Marriott is here I shall repeat what I said earlier. I have no doubt that the Government has made a good choice in selecting him to be an Assistant Minister but 1 still object to the principle of Assistant Ministers. This has nothing to do with personalities. On the grounds that I have enumerated, I believe we should not approve of the ministerial statement. We should not have Assistant Ministers. We should not keep talking about the wrongs of the system and then perpetuate them. We should start at the beginning and say: ‘We are not having Assistant Ministers. We are going to have more Ministers in this chamber.’ I think the Government is tackling this matter in the wrong way. I oppose proposals set out in the statement.
– Before the Senate is a motion: ‘That the Senate take note of the Statement.’ An amendment was moved by Senator Murphy in these terms:
At end of motion add ‘, and refers the statement to the Committee on Disputed Returns and Qualifications to inquire into and report upon a question as to the vacation of office by a senator, namely whether, if a senator is appointed an Assistant Minister of State, his place shall become vacant’.
Speaking on the constitutional aspect of the amendment and as one who was here when Assistant Ministers were appointed quite some years ago - I rely on my memory - I feel that the constitutional aspect was adequately cleared up at that time. The discussions which took place and the answers which were arrived at then indicated to me that the Government was within its rights if it wanted to appoint Assistant Ministers. 1 could not accept the amendment that has been proposed for the referral of the matter to a committee of inquiry because I think that such a committee would only go over the same ground again. I believe that the matter has been amply ventilated.
The appointment of Assistant Ministers on that occasion was trumpeted with a great deal of hope. It was hoped at the time that the understudies to the Ministers ultimately would be able to step into the shoes of the Ministers when vacancies occurred. The idea seemed at the time to be a worthy one. However, as events showed, it proved to be a failure. If I remember correctly, only one of the Assistant Ministers appointed at that time ever became a Minister, namely, the present Minister for National Development, Mr Swartz. The others just faded away, lt is apparent from the evidence we have that the appointment of Assistant Ministers on that occasion did not prove to be the success it was expected to be.
– I think it will be found that some of them lost their seats in the 1961 election.
– I think that may have been the case. However, that is beside the point. My memory of it is that it was a failure. I cannot see very much good coming out of the present proposal. Once again I should point out that I am not referring to personalities when I say that. I think that Senator Marriott has, by his work as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse and as Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, has proved that he can make a success of anything to which he puts his mind. I have no personal animosity or feeling insofar as the appointment of Senator Marriott as an Assistant Minister is concerned. But I do want to say that I have very grave doubts and feelings about the appointment of Assistant Ministers.
I know it has been said before that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), who is also the Minister for Health, is greatly overworked. My view is that the Leader of the Government in the Senate should be here in that capacity only and should not be side-tracked by having to administer a portfolio. I believe that he should be able to concentrate entirely on the duties of leading the Government in the Senate. If he did not have the responsibility of having to administer a. portfolio he would have more time at his disposal than he has at present to think about leading the Government in this chamber.
I believe that there is a lot of work which the Ministers could delegate to someone else. I think some people spend too much time on mundane things. An office boy can be kept very busy licking stamps. There are ways of delegating work.
I think this is something the Ministers will have to- keep in mind. The suggestion that Ministers cannot delegate work interests me. What will be the position when the. population of Australia is as large as the population of the United States? A Minister handling a portfolio in a nation the size of the United States of America would not bother about the little things that Ministers deal with in Australia. I think that there will have to be a rethinking insofar as the handling of portfolios is concerned.
I adhere to the view that has been expressed by honourable senators today and on other occasions that the role of the Senate is to be a house of review - a States’ house. I do not think that there should be any Ministers in this chamber. As an indication of how ludicrous the situation has become, it has been mentioned that there are only 5 Ministers in this chamber handling 27 portfolios. Senator Byrne has given a resume of what has happened over a period of time. It has been found that the whole thing has grown out of proportion. There should not be any Ministers in this chamber. If there are to be Ministers here they should be here in proper proportion, but I think it would be in the interests of the Senate if there were no Ministers at all in this chamber.
The Senate is supposed to be a house of review. Ministers are naturally wedded to Cabinet or ministerial decisions. If the Senate is to fulfil its function as a house of review its members should be free to vote according to their wishes, but no Minister will vote against anything the Government has brought down. Ministers are obliged to vote for the Government. I think the Senate would function better if none of its members was appointed to the Ministry. It would appear from the rather interesting speech made by Senator Byrne that on one occasion this chamber was without any Ministers. I do not think that any great harm was done at the time. I am not aware of any great repercussions taking place. There is no reason why the Standing Orders could not be altered to allow a Minister from the other place to present a Bill and then sit at the side of this chamber and answer questions on it. This matter was considered two or three years ago. A Minister in the other place could be invited to this chamber when legislation came before it concerning a matter which came within that Minister’s portfolio. We would obtain better replies to our queries about the legislation because he would have a more extensive knowledge of it than a Minister who is representing him in this chamber. This is because the Ministers in this chamber are at present called upon to represent 27 portfolios between the 5 of them. Senator Byrne took this matter a bit further when he referred to the Estimates committees of the Senate. The responsible Minister sits in at each meeting of the Estimates committees and answers questions.
If it is the thinking of honourable senators that we should have Ministers in this chamber than I submit that it is ridiculous to have the present imbalance. I think the truer purpose for this chamber would be served if it were to function as a house of review - a States’ house - without Ministers. I am not in accord with the appointment of Assistant Ministers either in this chamber or anywhere else because I do not think that their appointment has been a success in the past.
One aspect which I think should be of great concern to honourable senators on this side of the chamber is the manner in which the Ministry is selected. The selection is in the hands of the Prime Minister. There is no doubt about it that the increase in the number of Ministers and Assistant Ministers has meant that the Prime Minister has a much greater power base in the Liberal Party than would be the case with the Party which sits in Opposition. Its senators and members select its Ministries. To my way of thinking the present policy gives the Prime Minister of the day, whoever he may be - I am not casting aspersions on the present Prime Minister - too great a power base because behind him will sit a much larger proportion of Ministers and Assistant Ministers than is desirable from the point of view of getting a free and true expression of the opinion of the Party. Not everyone, but a good proportion of the people who had favour bestowed upon them, would probably lean towards the bestower. This does not make for good government and it does not make for a good party. I am one of those people who believe that the selection of a ministry is better left to senators and members. In saying this I am reminded of past power struggles that have been resolved in favour of the bestower of portfolios, whoever he may have been. I feel that we are in danger of creating a situation where there will be too many people who are more or less committed to the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the experience of some years ago has shown that the system of appointing Assistant Ministers was a failure. I cannot see why there is going to be any great chance of it succeeding now. If some people are overworked there are other ways of overcoming their problems. I am not prepared to support Senator Murphy’s amendment, but I will vote against the taking note of the paper in order to register the fact that I do not support the appointment of Assistant Ministers.
(2.55) - Technically I am speaking to the amendment to enable me to comment on this matter. I hope that what I say will bring the matter to issues. It surprises and disappoints me to find that although almost every speaker in this debate has recognised that in the Senate we suffer under a tremendous disadvantage because we have only 5 Ministers in a Ministry of 27, only one of those 5 Ministers - myself - being a Cabinet Minister, there is some opposition to the appointment of Assistant Ministers. On all sides honourable senators have recognised that there is an imbalance, and everyone acknowedges that this situation makes for difficulty and puts tremendous pressure on Ministers and extraordinary pressure on me. Yet for some extraordinary reason, which I find hard to comprehend - I do not wish to import motives into anybody’s remarks - there is a reluctance to agree to the appointment of Assistant Ministers.
The legal argument raised by Senator Murphy has been fairly well dealt with. That matter was covered first by statements in another place by leaders of the Australian Labor Party who said they did not want to canvass that aspect. Those remarks appear in Hansard for everybody to see. The legal aspect has arisen in questions in this place. I assure the Senate that the aspect of profit under the Crown has been properly examined by the law officers of the Attorney-General’s Department and they are satisfied that there is no risk to an incumbent Assistant Minister. Therefore it seems to me that the amendment proposed by Senator Murphy does not have validity. I propose to make just one reference to the question of an Assistant Minister making statements of policy, a matter which I believe was raised by Senator Willesee. No Assistant Minister will make statements of policy. Ministers in this place - this applies even to me as Leader of the Government and a very senior member of the Cabinet - are very cautious about making statements of policy on matters outside their own portfolios. In any event, no Assistant Minister will be making statements of policy.
– That is determined by the Cabinet.
That is right. It seemed to me that that was not a very strong argument on which to base the case. On the question of emoluments, reimbursements and salaries, the Assistant Ministers will receive no additional payment in that position. They will be reimbursed for travelling expenses, but we are all reimbursed for these costs - even the back benchers. Their reimbursement will be on a scale consistent with the work that they are doing. It is proper to point out that some of the Assistant Ministers who already have been appointed in the other place will be financially in a worse position because of their appointment as Assistant Minister. I cite the case of Mr Dobie who, as I understand it, is retiring from the position of Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, a position which attracts quite substantial fees. Equally, I understand that if Senator Marriott is appointed as an Assistant Minister, in which position I will require a great deal of him, he will not be in a position to take the chairmanship of Senate committees, which position also attracts fees. So from a financial point of view the Assistant Ministers will be worse off.
This was in my view a rather hurtful argument when referring to men who, because of their dedication to the parliamentary institution, dedication to the Party which they serve and dedication to a job of work associated with the management of Australia, feel that it is a great honour to be sought for appointment as Assistant Ministers, in many cases at financial disadvantage. Yet we have heard raised the question whether they will receive fees. I shall not respond to the points raised by Senator Turnbull.
I want an Assistant Minister in the Senate. As I said at the outset, I believe that an Assistant Minister in the Senate will assist not only the Minister to whom he is allocated but also the system, the parliamentary institution and the Senate. He will be able to assist in all sorts of things and provide a better service to senators and their constituents. For that reason I oppose the amendment. I hope that this matter will be disposed of, if necessary by vote, so that we can get on with the job.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Murphy’s amendment) be so added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
At end of motion add: ‘but the Senate disapproves of the appointment of Assistant Ministers’.
I will not speak at length on this because the matter has been well canvassed. The Opposition sought in the first place to have this question thoroughly examined although it does disapprove of the general principle. It is left with no alternative now. The Opposition regrets that its previous amendment was defeated because it felt a thorough examination would have settled this question for all time. However, the will of the Senate is that we do not do that. I now want an expression of opinion from the Senate on the general principle involved. The Australia Labor Party believes that particularly in the Senate there should not be a system of Assistant Ministers adopted.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Willesee’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question that the Senate take note of the statement, resolved in the affirmative.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) - by leave - I wish to make a personal explanation. In the division before last by inadvertence and perhaps concentration on a variety of matters 1 voted although I was paired. 1 am very embarrassed about it. 1 am sure honourable senators will accept that I did not vote with intent, but I am wondering whether the record could be adjusted to show that I was paired according to my permanent arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). It operates for his and for my convenience and it is a very happy arrangement.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThat is not the question. There are times when I am not here and Senator Murphy pairs for me. It is a Leaders’ arrangement and a happy one. I regret that I voted inadvertently in the division preceding the last division because my attention was not drawn to the arrangement.
Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) - by leave - Mr President, if it meets with your approval I would ask that Hansard and the other appropriate records be altered in accordance with the wish of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). That would certainly satisfy the Opposition. I do not intend on this occasion to have the matter referred to the Court of Disputed Returns.
THE PRESIDENT- Is the Senate agreeable to that procedure? The Senate being agreeable, that course will be adopted.
Debate resumed from 25 August (vide page 348), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1971-72.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1972.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30th June 1972.
Particulars of Proposed Provisions for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1972.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1971.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add: ‘, but the Senate condemns the Budget because -
it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to Parliament on taking office to bring into effect for 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and of methods of adjusting them,
it contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government and
it produces no programme for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security.’
– I intend to call Senator McAuliffe. I draw to the attention of honourable senators that it will be his maiden speech.
– Let me say at the outset that I am deeply sensible of the honour of being elected to the Senate. My satisfaction is more complete as it is my honour to represent Queensland. I believe that Queensland, with its vast natural resources, mineral development and rapidly expanding tourist industry will play a very important part in the future growth and progress of Australia. This afternoon I address myself particularly to the electors of Queensland on account of the confidence they placed in me in November at the Senate elections. I am very grateful to them and I would like to assure them that I will at all times to the best of my ability endeavour to carry out my parliamentary duties. I feel perfectly sure that at the end of my term I will be able to give a good account of my stewardship.
I also address myself to members of the Australian Labor Party, particularly in Queensland. I have in mind the thousands of workers who give unselfishly of their time and are unstinting in their support over a long period of years and in their services to the Party that I am proud to represent. They man the polling booths, distribute literature and give many other services during election campaigns. Their only reward is to see their representatives elected to the parliaments of Australia. To them I express my heartfelt thanks and deep gratitude.
The trade union movement played a sterling part in pre-selection procedures and during the election campaign. I am grateful to them for my ultimate election to the Senate. I have been a trade unionist all my working life and I believe that only those people who have been closely associated with the trade union movement know the requirements of the working class people of Australia. I will return to that subject later in my address. I offer my thanks also to the officials of the Commonwealth Electoral Office - the presiding officers, the poll clerks and all the other officials who give such efficient and impartial service and play an important part in the conduct of an election. I would be remiss if I, did not especially mention Mr Ivan Weise, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in Queensland. By his administrative ability and impartiality he has won the respect and confidence of all political parties in the conduct of elections.
This is my maiden speech in the Parliament and in it I propose to deal with 4 main subjects - poverty, the trade unions, tourism and sport. I am fully aware that there are many other important subjects warranting the attention of this Parliament, such as immigration, foreign affairs, health and education and I hope that at a later stage I will be given an opportunity to canvass them. On the subject of poverty, recently a survey was undertaken by the Applied Institute of Economic and Social Research under Professor Henderson at the University of Melbourne. It was the first survey of its kind undertaken in Australia. It was felt that Melbourne would be suitable for the survey as the greatest proportion of our population is located in the cities. It was felt that the results gained in Melbourne could be applied to the other capital cities and would give an indication of the position in urban Australia. The survey concentrated on private dwellings and did not take into account institutional accommodation such as hospitals, hostels and boarding houses. It took no account of the Aboriginal population of Melbourne. I am sure all honourable senators are aware that the incidence of poverty amongst Aboriginals is very high. Honourable senators will therefore appreciate that the results of the survey understate the position because of the failure lc take into account institutional accommodation and the Aboriginal population.
For the purposes of the survey, poverty was classified as lack of an adequate income. For the purpose of fixing a poverty line, the people conducting the survey decided to take as the base the weekly income of a man with a wife and 2 children, which was below the basic wage plus child endowment, as at 30th June 1969. The poverty line was fixed at $40 a week for such a family. It is clear that the poverty line as fixed by the survey is very austere and unchallengeable. The survey shows that poverty existed among people who were beneficiaries of social service cash payments. The percentage of poverty ranged between 4.5, in areas of extreme poverty, to 14 in areas where there was less hardship. The survey indicted that an average of between 7 and 8 per cent of the population is living below the poverty line in the community.
Anybody with any degree of humanitarianism must be alarmed and appalled by the statistics of the survey. It is all very well to say that in the United States of America and the United Kingdom the percentage of poverty is a great deal higher, but we should be concerning ourselves with the existence of poverty in this country. This is a young and rich land with an abundance of natural resources. We have great mineral development and prosperous industries, yet the average incidence of poverty in our population is between 7 per cent and 8 per cent. I hear people in this chamber and in other places make very pious appeals for assistance to underprivileged peoples in other countries. I agree with those sentiments. There should be an alleviation of poverty in other lands. In fact poverty should be eliminated. But we have a responsibility to our own people. We should eliminate the 8 per cent of poverty here in Australia. Having corrected that, we then look elsewhere and see what we can do in other lands. It is all right to stand in this chamber and make emotional speeches about poverty and other things, but we have to come up with an alternative idea for correcting these things. I intend to outline a proposition.
I said earlier that the main areas of poverty are those places where the people are social service beneficiaries. We know where the seat of the trouble is and we should be able to come up with an idea to correct it. My suggestion is based on the survey I mentioned. If the proposals outlined in the report of that survey had been applied to the whole of Australia in 1968-69 the total cost of eliminating poverty in the areas where it has been discovered would have amounted to $189m or . 7 per cent of the gross national product. That is not a lot of money when we talk of 4 figure millions in budgets. All that was required to eliminate poverty in Australia was $189m or . 7 per cent of the gross national product.
I do not want to weary honourable senators with a lot of detailed statistics but those who conducted the survey proposed to increase the child endowment rate for the third and subsequent children by $2. If this policy was adopted and the tax concession for children was abolished the amount needed to eliminate poverty in Australia in our time wouldbe reduced from$1 89m to $100m. Let us reflect on $100m. I know that the wool growing industry is in dire distress and is in need of help. I know that a lot of other things require financial attention. This Government has been able to come to the assistance of the wool growers and pull $100m out of the sky. I submit in this maiden speech, Mr President, that the Government should be able to find $100m for the poor and underprivileged people of Australia. The Government spent $500,000 on the spout in Lake Burley Griffin which, I admit, has aesthetic beauty. If we multiplied that sum by 200 we would have the $100m for our people.
It is a blot on a nation such as Australia that we have an incidence of 8 per cent poverty. By spending $100m it could be eliminated and, as I said earlier, that sum represents . 7 per cent of the gross national product. Most of the cost could be offset. Our cash contribution to social services in 1968-69 represented 5.3 per cent of the gross national product. If we were to restore it to 5.9 per cent - the percentage con tributed to social services in the 4-year period from 1960-61 to 1963-64 - we would be going a long way towards alleviating hardship and eliminating poverty in our time. The figures I have quoted are important. As I have said, Australia in 1968-69 spent 5.3 per cent of its gross national product on social welfare, and I suggest that we should lift that percentage to 5.9 and bring it in line with what was spent in those 4 years from 1960 to 1964. 1 am not asking for any greater contribution than was previously made.
There are strong grounds for the Government to consider uplifting the amount spent on social welfare. We must take into consideration the fact that 14.7 per cent of the gross national product of the countries in the European Common Market is spent on social welfare. In a country nearer to home, New Zealand, 6.3 per cent of the gross national product is spent on social welfare. I appeal to honourable senators to look to the future. I hope that the raising of these questions will make them sensitive and aware of the existence of poverty, and that when the opportunity presents itself in future Budget talks they will try to persuade the Government to uplift the proportion of our gross national product that is being spent on social welfare and thus alleviate hardship and eliminate poverty in Australia in our time.
I would like to devote the second part of my speech to the trade union movement. It has a history and tradition of activity on behalf of organised workers in Australia which is unequalled by any other organisation in the Commonwealth. The movement does not condone useless strikes or inflict unnecessary hardship on its members. Industrial disputes represent only a small item of trade union activity, but unfortunately it is the item that receives wide Press publicity while all the other activities of the trade union movement pass without recognition. In any given day the trade union movement negotiating in industrial disputes solves thousands of problems on behalf of its members - social injustice, wage injustice, incorrect payment of wages, victimisation, unjust sacking and finding of employment for many members. The trade union movement contributes to countless charities. Its officers and members are continually engaged in community service. They sit on committees, more often than not unpaid, which deal with employer-employee relations, and on countless other organisations in the community that are interested in the social and economic welfare of our society. The Government readily admits that many of its most important committees are unable to function without the full support and cooperation of the trade union movement.
The trade union movement will not and cannot accept restrictions upon its right to involve itself in the political life of the community. As the organised strength of the lower and middle income workers, trade unions have an obligation to exercise their civic responsibility. The standard of living of the Australian people depends upon the strong demands of the unions for improved conditions, social services, education, housing and a host of other things. Trade unions initiate the demands and they need to have the Australian Labor Party in government to implement their policies. This is the basis of the trade union movement. It initiates the demands and looks to the Australian Labor Party in government to implement them. Consider our archaic social services and the lag in this country when compared with others as revealed in the statistics I quoted earlier. We lag behind European and American countries.
Australian workers are expected to live on $17.50 a week upon retirement after 50 years service. This is what is handed out to men after 50 years of service. No-one in this chamber can deny that a worker is entitled to a retirement allowance many times above that which he receives now after such a period of faithful and loyal service. He should be entitled to full pay when he is off work through sickness or injury. He should be entitled to free medical treatment, free education for his children, guaranteed employment and decent homes. These are political issues. Surely no honourable senator would challenge the right of the trade union movement to intercede in these matters. Surely no-one would challenge the right of the trade union movement to interest itself in these matters. Here and outside I have heard the Government attack the trade union movement for its stand on apartheid. History will prove the trade union movement right in relation to apartheid, just as history has proved the trade union movement right in its stand in opposing the shipment of pig iron to Japan, in its support of independence for Indonesia and in its stand in opposition to the phoney war in Vietnam. The Australian Labor Party is proud of its association with the trade union movement. I hope that while I am a member of this Senate I will be able to work to see a strengthening of the great ties that exist between the Australian Labor Party and that most important section of the working class - the trade union movement.
The third subject with which I deal is tourism. It is the most rapidly expanding and dynamic industry in Australia at present. It is ranked as the 9th largest foreign exchange earner. For the State that I am proud to represent, Queensland, it is one of our major industries. Its growth has taken place in the absence of the financial assistance and rewards that have been given to other industries. The Australian! Tourist Commission was formed in 1967. Despite the fact that it was hampered by having had 3 different ministerial heads since then, it was still able to work and to gain further prominence for the tourist industry. In 1968 and 1969 the number of international visitors to Australia was 387,197. Australia earned $116m, equal to what it earned from the dairying and canned fruit industries. The Commonwealth Statistician tells us that by 1975 we will earn from international tourists $300m a year and that 700,000 overseas visitors annually will come to our shores. It has been claimed and supported by the strongest authenticated statistical evidence that the tourist industry is the biggest single business in the world today, earning $14 billion a year.
This Parliament is charged with the responsibility of doing something to increase our share of this rapidly expanding tourist market. With the advent of the jumbo jets that are now landing at Tullamarine and Sydney, we will attract greater numbers - thousands - particularly from America. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) in answer to a question recently, admitted that he hopes that the jumbo jets will soon be landing in Brisbane. That will boost the tourist industry. There is a responsibility on this Parliament to do something to help the tourist industry to attract overseas visitors. One of the main problems to be tackled is the high cost of travel both to and within Australia. There is a need for promotional or concessional fares in appropriate circumstances. There is a need for improved accommodation and convention facilities. We must pay attention to the inadequacies relating to resort development, the specialised training for members of the industry and the disability borne by the industry because it has not been given the incentives that are available in many other industries. These are some of the things that we, as a responsible Parliament, have to touch upon.
In the time remaining at my disposal I deal very briefly with some of the tourist items on the home front. On the home scene the Commission has been active with posters, publications, films and surveys. It has reported on a tourist plan for central Australia, a study of the Great Barrier Reef and a survey of the Port MacquarieHastings region. All this is good. Let me in my speech today make some mention of that wonderful 26-mile stretch of golden beach in the State that I am proud to represent - the Gold Coast of Queensland - which is unequalled anywhere in the world. Among tourist authorities, the Gold Coast is accepted as the tourist capital of Australia. Many feel that it can justifiably lay claim to being the tourist capital of the southern hemisphere. I crave the indulgence of the Senate to give a few statistics to support this claim that the Gold Coast is the tourist capital of Australia.
It is the most rapidly growing area in Australia, apart from the Australian Capital Territory. In 1945 there were 10,000 residents on the Gold Coast. In 1960 there were 30,000. In 1970 there were 70,000. It is estimated that by 1975 there will be 100,000. By 1990 the number will have reached the 250,000 mark. Each year 2.5 million visitors visit the Gold Coast. On every public holiday its population explodes by another 200,000. Less than 30 years ago there were very few houses in Surfers Paradise. To the end of June 1970 building investment grossed $11 lm for the preceding 5 years. The boom which began in the last decade resulted in a total of $172m being ploughed into Gold Coast buildings. Tourism in this area is worth S85m annually. The 3,000 establishments accommodating 120,000 people, with a capital investment of $150m in 10 years, tell the success story of this Gold Coast city. Nevertheless, as with tourist buildings elsewhere, there is a discordant note. The city is concerned to see no depreciation and taxation concessions allowed in respect of tourist accommodation buildings. These buildings age and become obsolete much more quickly and require greater maintenance and renovation expenditure in their lifetime than the general run of industrial or office buildings.
I have 3 or 4 recommendations which from time to time I will be urging and putting enthusiastically in this chamber. I hope that the Government will consider favourably the provision of special assistance by way of subsidy to local authorities which provide tourist facilities and amenities so that the cost is not borne fully by the local ratepayers. I hope that the Government will consider allowing depreciation on new buildings and maintenace and renovation to be allowed as a tax deduction, as is the case with accommodation centres in tourist areas in other countries, particularly our strongest competitor, the Pacific countries. I hope that the Government will consider favourably the establishment of a tourist development loan fund similar to that in operation in New Zealand. I hope that the Government will consider favourably the proposal that Australian National Line passenger ships should provide tourist cruises to north Queensland during the winter months. I thank honourable senators for their attention and for allowing me to engage in some parish pump activity in putting the case for the Gold Coast.
I come now to the last portion of my maiden speech, and that deals with sport. I suppose many who know me will feel that this is a subject on which I am possibly better equipped to speak than I am on anything else. That would be due to my very proud association with rugby league - the greatest game of all - in Queensland. It is my honour to be the President of the Queensland Rugby League. This is the game which is referred to, quite good humouredly, by our friends south of the border as ‘wrestle on the run’. We, just as good humouredly, refer to their game as aerial ping-pong’. Only last evening, when I had the pleasure of watching on film in the Senate Club Room South Sydney playing Manly in the rugby league grand final in Sydney last year, someone whispered to me: ‘It will not be anywhere near as good as the day Collingwood plays the Moscow Circus’. I do not know what he meant by that, but I thought he had a good sense of humour. I enjoyed it.
But, to become serious, sport will play an ever increasing role in our quality of life in the future. With automation, push button industry and the natural reduction in working hours, people will have more leisure time. Some people are gravely concerned. They say that we will have a leisure crisis. I do not go along with that. But I do believe - I have been convinced of this by my experiences in association with sport - that we have to do something worthwhile regarding people being involved or occupied in their free time. Involving people becomes a question of finance, as is the case in so many other matters. Many people can become involved; others cannot. It is the old story that those who have get and those who have not cannot get. So, it now becomes the responsibility of governments, both State and Federal, to study this question in depth, as the experts say.
I am appealing to the national Parliament to carry out a study in depth of sport in Australia. The extra leisure time that is on our hands as a result of the reduced working hours and the new methods of the industrial revolution has to be occupied. It has now become the responsibility of the national Parliament to come up with a proposed policy for sport in Australia. We will have to commission a task force for sport. It will take the members of that task force some considerable time to explore and investigate all the ramifications of sport. The national Parliament is faced with this responsibility: For the 1970s and onwards it will have to come up with a proposed policy for sport in Australia. No longer can governments, whether State or Federal, leave it to the thousands of people who, in a voluntary capacity, week in and week out, every year, raise thousands of dollars to support sport in their States.
I know that New South Wales is more fortunate than most other States. It has poker machines. This helps sport considerably. We in Queensland do not have poker machines. So the finance for sport has to be raised in other ways. It is left to thousands of voluntary workers to raise this money. They have been doing it for years in Queensland by chook raffles. I submit to this chamber quite seriously that in every city in Queensland there should be erected a monument to the chook, because without the chook raffles there would be no sport in Queensland or sport would be on its knees. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. Sport is becoming big business not only because of the amount of leisure time but with the introduction of sports medicine. I refer to sport on the international, interstate, inter-city and inter-club levels. It can no longer be financed in a voluntary manner by people selling chook raffle tickets. It becomes the responsibility of the Federal Government to introduce a proposed policy for sport and to commission a committee, which could be called a task force for support, to survey, investigate and report.
There is an equal responsibility on the State parliaments. I am very happy to say that New South Wales has seen the light before all the other States. A ministry of sport has been established in that State. I hope that the pressures that are mounting in Queensland will persuade the Government of that State of the worthiness and desirability of having a ministry of sport. All the major sports organisations in Queensland have banded together to form a major sports association with the intention of making approaches to the Government for the establishment of a sports foundation with an initial grant of, say, a quarter of a million dollars. The money would be invested in securities and the interest on it would be used to finance the various sports and to bring about the improvements that are necessary. This situation is facing us. It can no longer be denied or shunned by any goverment, whether State or Federal. The time has arrived when all sports - all codes of football, cricket, athletics and so on - have to receive the support and backing of the Government.
Along with this change of policy in the country we see the emergency of activity medicine - a new field of medicine - and the Australian Sports Medicine Association. It had its annual meeting at the Broadbeach Hotel on the Gold Coast last weekend. The meeting was attended by representatives from all States as well as a representative from New Zealand and one from India. The ramifications and work of the Australian Sports Medicine Association are not known to many people in Australia, but it will play such an important role in our every day life and in our quality of life that it will fast become recognised. But it needs funds. It will control the fitness and expertise of sport on an international basis as well as at the interstate and inter-club levels.
If any honourable senator becomes health conscious and feels that he would like to jog around the parks of Canberra of a morning or to walk briskly somewhere, he pauses before endeavouring to do this because he feels that, on account of his age, if he rushes in he might not be up to it physically. But one of the purposes of sports medicine is to detail and tabulate how a man between 40 and SO years of age can make a gradual approach to sport and how he can make a gradual approach to getting fit. I have not the time at my disposal to deal with as many of the ramifications of sports medicine as I would like to deal with. I will be introducing this subject in this chamber on a later occasion - possibly when we are considering the estimates of the Department of Health - and I will be looking for some support from an honourable senator who, together with the Executive Adviser to the Brisbane City Council and myself, is a life member of the Queensland Sports Medicine Association. In fact, we three are the only life members of the Association. I refer to Senator Gair. I hope that at a later stage in the lifetime of this Parliament he will make some contribution towards advancing the cause, because financial assistance is definitely needed.
As I said, on this first occasion I do not propose to weary honourable senators with a great litany of all the wonderful things the Australian Sports Medicine Association can do and what Australia’s role has to be in the future. But in this maiden speech I would appreciate the opportunity to put certain recommendations before honourable senators for their consideration. I believe that we should establish a Commonwealth ministry for physical culture, sport and recreation, the responsibilities of which would include, firstly, making grants to States to ensure adequate facilities for all physical culture and sports programmes; secondly, making grants to States to ensure that national fitness councils are provided with adequate finance for promoting physical fitness campaigns; thirdly, making grants to State and national physical culture groups and sporting teams where such assistance is deemed to be in the general interest of the nation; and, fourthly, arranging the interchange of physical culture groups and sporting teams between Australia and other countries where such groups or teams are selected on other than a racial basis.
Before I resume my seat I would like to thank honourable senators for the tolerance they have all displayed this afternoon in hearing me make this maiden speech. As I said earlier, it may appear to honourable senators that many more items could have been discussed but I hope that during the lifetime of this Parliament I will be given the opportunity later to advance them. I would be remiss if I did not say that after a week and a half in this Senate chamber how greatly I have been impressed by the dignity and the conduct of the proceedings in this chamber. Since my childhood days I have always been told to have respect for the Chair. That is a message from my parents that I have never forgotten. I must congratulate you, Mr President, on the dignified manner in which you preside over this chamber. In conclusion, I thank you and honourable senators for their tolerance.
– First of all, may I congratulate my fellow Queenslander Senator McAuliffe on his maiden speech. Last night we heard Senator Negus from Western Australia also make his maiden speech. I am quite sure that we will hear more from them on the particular subjects which they have brought before this chamber.
I think honourable senators will agree that all Budgets receive criticism in one way or another. I would say that the little criticism that this Budget has received is indicative of acceptance by the general public of the fact that at least it has endeavoured to meet the problems of the nation and indicative of satisfaction with the Government’s handling of the nation’s financial affairs at this time. Although we have an inflationary trend in our economy this Budget has been able to increase social services and repatriation benefits which increases, of course, are so necessary to those people who do not have the means or opportunities to cope with rising costs. The fact that there is an increase of $2 17m this year in the welfare fund, bringing it up to a total of $ 1,694m, gives some indication of the interest that this Government has taken in the social welfare of the nation.
A new item contained in the Budget provides assistance by way of a deficiency payment to the wool industry. This matter has received a great deal of criticism from different sections of the community and, to some extent, from members of the Opposition. That the nation should have to help an industry as great as the wool industry is something that we would hope would not happen, but because of the position of this industry this assistance is absolutely necessary at this stage in order to allow the wool industry to remain a force within the community. The wool industry is able to adapt itself to the temporary problems it is experiencing, but the only way that this can be done is by means of a guaranteed price to the wool grower for his wool. This assistance will help not only the wool grower but also all the people who are dependent on the industry. It is particularly important to the country towns. This is a social as well as a financial problem for the wool industry.
If we look at this industry from a national point of view we find that since the war it has brought into this country a total of $25,000m in overseas funds. There is no doubt that this terrific sum of money has gone a long way towards assisting in the development of this nation, creating the job opportunities and the standard of living that we in this country are able to enjoy. After all, many industries which are owned by overseas interests have set themselves up here. The profits are repatriated to the country of origin of the company and the capital itself does not belong to us. But one can say that the greater part of the Australian wool industry is owned by Australians. The money that it receives from overseas for exports remains in Australia.
History has proven that the great nations of the world always have been great trading nations. I refer to Great Britain in her heyday, and also the United
States of America. The fact that Australia which has only a small population relative to other nations ranks as the twelfth or thirteenth trading nation in the world is indicative of the prosperity that we enjoy. The more we trade and export the goods that we produce the greater will be our standard of living. The whole nation will benefit as a result of what we can export, and our trading relations will improve also. Because the wool industry plays such a large part in the economy of this great nation - in some years over 50 per cent of our total export earnings came from wool - it is imperative that we look after it so that it may play a great part in the development of the nation in the future. At the moment the wool industry is earning revenue to the extent of $800m a year. Upon reorganising the industry there is little doubt that we will be able to maintain this figure.
There are other reasons why we should assist the wool industry. Wool growers today are diversifying into other primary industries. If too many wool growers go over to the grain industry or the meat industry, for example, we could reach the stage where these industries are over-producing. Therefore by assisting the wool industry and trying to deter wool growers from diversifying we will be assisting the other primary industries. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) in his speech on the Budget last night attacked this scheme and said that the big wool growers as well as the small wool growers would receive a subsidy. Of course, the fact of the matter is that most of the big wool growers are the people who are most in trouble. Although they grow most of the wool, they are situated in the arid areas where the rainfall is very erratic. Their transport costs are extremely high.
Wool is grown in areas which can produce very little else, with the possible exception of beef cattle, so consequently if we allow this country to disappear as a wool growing country we cannot use it for anything else. The people who are really in trouble are those in the western districts of New South Wales, the western areas of Queensland and, I imagine, most of the north of South Australia and Western Australia. Most of these areas grow merino wool. In good seasons they can grow high quality merino wool and if we are to maintain the wool industry in this country the retention of high quality wool is imperative. So I think therefore that to try to put them through a drafting gate is completely silly because in most cases, as I said earlier, it is the bigger wool growers in the nation who are in the most trouble at the moment.
There are other items in this Budget which I feel should be referred to. I believe it is most unfortunate that increases in postal and telephone charges have been made. I appreciate that we cannot sustain losses in these areas to any great extent but I feel that a great deal could be done to improve efficiency within the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. These over the board increases of some 18 per cent in telephone charges, for instance, will certainly weigh heavily against people in country areas, particularly those in outback areas where all telephone calls are trunk line calls. An 18 per cent increase will place an extra burden on these people. I hope that, if the deficiency in the Port Office is to be made up by increased charges, there will be some compensation from improved services, particularly in those areas where telephonic communications are sadly lacking. I refer particularly to the installation of new telephones. There are a number of areas in the outback with no communications whatsoever and I have been informed that it will be 5 to 8 years before some people there can expect to get a telephone. I think that in this modern day and age when in most of our city areas we live in affluence, telephonic communication for people is necessary, especially to meet a need in accident cases or when people require medical attention. I believe that this is one avenue in which the Post Office can certainly speed up its services.
This Budget aims at the general control of inflation and this is a necessity if we are to have a stable economy and if we hope to have our rural industries play their part in maintaining the export earnings of this nation as they have in the past. Although there has been a tightening up of departmental expenditure by the Government on this occasion - we have seen a fairly big cut back in the expenditure of a lot of the departments - I believe that other measures will have to be taken to ensure that this inflation is stopped. I am quite sure that the general public today will be behind the Government in any measures it takes to try to curb inflation. People have had enough of this business of the dog chasing its tail and I am quite sure that measures that may not have been accepted some years ago will be accepted now, provided they are not too drastic and do not affect certain sections of the community at the expense of others. They have to be felt through the whole community and then I believe the public will accept them. This is absolutely necessary if we are to remain stable and not reach the stage where we could be in the same strife as some of the European countries and the United States are in at the moment. I do not think that will benefit anyone. I hope that these measures will be continued and that there will be a tightening up of the economy so we will contain this inflationary tendency.
As we go through the Budget papers and the Budget Speech we see an increase in expenditure in nearly all directions, especially for those items that the public feels are necessary such as social services, education, external aid, the advancement of the Aboriginal community and retirement pensions and allowances for superannuitants and ex-servicemen. I feel therefore that the measures taken to obtain more revenue such as increases in company tax and personal income tax - although most of us may not be happy with it we would agree that it is spread over the whole community and we are all in the same boat - are a welcome way of collecting the extra revenue. I feel that this Budget, provided it carries on with the anti-inflationary measures that are envisaged here, could be a good budget for the nation and I have pleasure in supporting it.
– May I first congratulate those honourable senators who made their maiden speeches last evening and this afternoon. I think it is a good introduction to the Parliament. Senator Negus from Western Australia found an opportunity last evening, which was very early in the Budget debate, to talk on his pet subject of probate duties. Those who believe in the abolition of probate duty have never had a better advocate in a higher position than they have at present in Senator Negus. Senator McAuliffe from Queensland made his maiden speech today and I think it is a tribute to the people of Queensland, particularly supporters of the Australian Labor Party, that they send to the Commonwealth Parliament such talented people as Senator McAuliffe whom we heard recount to the Senate the things that he holds dear to his heart and which he will fight for while he is in the Senate. We get good tal ent from some sections of Queensland, but, while I do not disparage Senator Maunsell, I think we could have heard a better speech from him. I do not think it was a lack of capability as much as a lack of interest in trying to persuade the Senate to accept a proposition which he knows he cannot justify. Anyone would find it difficult to justify this unimaginative Budget that has been presented at a time when the country could be facing one of the greatest crises it has ever seen.
Senator Maunsell has told us of the dangers of inflation and of the plight of the wool growers. He is a member of the Australian Country Party which has for a long time - I think falsely - represented itself as representing primary industries. Today people are realising that no longer does that Party have a solution to primary industry problems; nor will it have a solution as long as it remains a part of the present coalition. If there were hope of any solution from this Party that solution has failed to materialise in the Budget. Today the wool industry, the wheat industry and other primary industries are in chaos with no possibility of getting out of that chaos. Certainly there is no possibility under the Budget which has been presented.
– Which primary industries does the honourable senator think are in chaos?
– I do not think one would say that the wool industry was prosperous when the Government gave wool growers$60m to pay their debts. The Budget Speech states:
The Budget provides, in addition, $4m against a possible loss by the Commission-
That is the Australian Wool Commission - and $3.7m towards the costs involved in handling wool involved in the Price Averaging Plan.
Under this scheme $60m is made available in 1971-72. The Government has also decided that some additional assistance will be granted this year. It will introduce a one-year scheme of deficiency payments in respect of the 1971-72 wool clip. Listening to answers given to questions asked of the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) who in this place represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) I think that this is an involved system. It is not only a system of the payment of a bounty or a subsidy on the selling price of wool which has not met the market or fixed price - the price worked out as a payable price - but also the payment goes to those who sell wool during a week when the selling price falls below what is considered a profitable price, based on the cost of production. Some wealthy companies and big wool growers will receive far above the average price. They will receive a subsidy from the poorer section of the community. This will permit them to share in the buoyancy which is to be found in this subsidy scheme. While we are granting $60m to wool growers many other sections of primary industry are assisted. I see from the Budget that $38m will be extended as a bounty to the phosphate fertiliser industry. Expenditure on butter and cheese bounties are expected to be almost $40m and $3m will be paid to the apple and pear industry. Payments to rural industries are expected to total $27 5m which is $65m more than last year.
I do not think anyone can feel pleased about the position of our rural industries and say that there is no chaos when it is necessary to pay out of general revenue such sums to stabilise those industries. But we find that the problem is greater than that. The Minister for Primary Industry in addressing the Federal Parliamentary Country Party set out the cost of debts to primary industry. I think this matter was mentioned in a question today which was asked by a new honourable senator from Western Australia. Mr Sinclair stated:
On an Australia-wide basis the woolgrower debt from institutional lenders is about$1, 200m and net farm income is about $300m of which about $100m will be required solely to meet interest payments on current debts.
A lot of money lenders will not be paid their interest unless the Commonwealth subsidises sections of this industry for that purpose. How are we going to stabilise an industry when the best we can do is to carry a section of the farming community in a state which permits it to have interest payments outstanding to money lenders until such time as the industry becomes sufficiently buoyant and it can make its own payments of interest for the debt? Mr Sinclair also stated:
At anything less than 35c per pound it is difficult to see any woolgrower even covering his costs, let alone having sufficient income on which to live. lt is questionable whether even with the deficiency payment which is to be spread over a section of the wool growers they will receive the necessary 35c per lb. It is necessary for them to receive this amount if they are to stay on the land.
This situation applies not only in relation to wool but also in relation to wheat where difficulty is being experienced today. To a large extent South Australia relies upon wheat production. We see areas where there are vacant farms, vacant properties and vacant houses. Just recently a series of articles was written in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ by Stewart Cockburn. He has toured the farming areas of South Australia and reports very poorly on the prospects of farmers continuing on their properties. There is no attempt to stabilise the farming community by establishing viable properties for the purpose of profitable production and marketing. Across the board subsidies are granted which will provide payments for interest and payments to the wealthy farming community. We have serious problems in South Australia, particularly on Kangaroo Island. Men who returned from the Second World War were granted scrub type land which they were expected to clear and bring into production with the aid of money lent by the Commonwealth Government through the State hank. They had to pay a yearly interest on the capital advanced to them as soldier settlers. Today the responsible State department is in the process of selling many of the properties on Kangaroo Island because of the inability of the farmers to succeed. The land has no price.
Farmers with heavy commitments who have been sold up cannot get out of the financial difficulties which face them. Normally after the sale of their farms such people could meet their debts but the price of farming property has slumped so badly that they are walking off the land with nothing. We promised them everything after the War. They made a sacrifice. They volunteered for service to their country. They were told that they could expect a new order - that there would be something more important than they knew before the War. We settled them on land. They had an idea that within a few years they would become wealthy and retire. Now they are seeking jobs at an age when industry does not require them. They are unskilled and possibly incapable of carrying out the work whereas they were competent farmers, given the opportunity to work their farms. Today because of the annual interest rate they are finding it impossible to carry on, with the result that they have to sell their properties. While there is talk and plans of further land settlement for returned servicemen I think that some proposition should come from the Federal Government to keep on the land men who have already been settled there. These people have put some 20 years of hard work into the land. They have improved the property. At the present time they should not see it go under an auctioneer’s hammer for an insignificant amount.
There are many other deficiencies in the Budget. I was interested in what Senator McAuliffe said about need and where it is the greatest, and his suggestion that perhaps we should seek to alleviate the poverty that exists in Australia, which he indicated could be found amongst 7 per cent to 8 per cent of the Australian population, before we consider providing aid overseas. I do not know whether we should stop providing overseas aid, but after 20 years of Liberal-Country Party Government so much needs rehabilitating in Australia that it is extremely difficult to know where we should start and what priorities we should give. One cannot help thinking that because poverty exists to the extent that it exists today in certain sections of the community, that question should receive a high priority.
I do not think that one can neglect the deficiencies in education today. Although we will be told what the Commonwealth Government has done in the field of education, I think that there is a great deal more to be done. This deficienty in education can be overcome only by the provision of Commonwealth grants. I want to spend some time on this subject because I have received an abundance of correspondence on the question of education from primary and secondary schools in South Australia. These schools pinpoint their various needs. But I am more concerned about the appeal which the South Australian Premier made to the Premiers Conference which was held on 25th and 26th June 1970. At that Conference a plea was made by the various Premiers of Australia to the then Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton. The official report of the Conference shows that after the usual plea had been made for the allocation of grants, the Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, made the following plea:
The survey of educational needs undertaken by all States recently shows clearly that to cope with increasing enrolments and to improve standards to the extent that the community and governments regard as essential vastly increased sums needs to be spent for both recurrent and capital purposes in the next 5 years. These sums will far exceed the capability of the States as fixed by what has happened in the last 2 days.
Obviously Mr Dunstan was not satisfied because he said that the cost of meeting educational needs far exceeded what the States had been given. What is provided for education in the Budget? What is provided to meet the increased expenditure which the survey on education indicated would be necessary over the next 5 years? I think that some indication of what is needed is to be found in this statement by Mr Dunstan:
For South Australia the survey shows that we would need to spend in the S years a total of the order of S750m. That is an average of about $l50m a year - made up, of course, of increasing annual sums - compared with a little over S90m in 1970. Towards meeting these total needs South Australia will make every effort to provide allocations out of its own resources growing more rapidly than its allocations for other areas of the budget, but it cannot possibly meet the necessary costs without a massive injection of Commonwealth support. 1 believe that this general comment holds good for all other States.
We waited for that massive injection of Commonwealth support in the last Budget and in this Budget. The particular needs of South Australia were summarised by Mr Dunstan in this way:
As regards teaching staff, significant increases in staff are needed to meet enrolment increases caused by population increases; to meet increased enrolments caused by much greater retention in the numbers at school; and to progressively reduce pupil/teacher ratios. To meet these needs the total S-year expenditure on salaries would be about $295m, even allowing for salary increases of only 5 per cent per annum and providing for only modest annual decreases in the pupil/teacher ratio.
This amount of money is required to maintain the present pupil-teacher ratio - not to improve it - and teachers salaries would have to be restricted to only 5 per cent per annum. As every honourable senator knows, the last national wage increase was 6 per cent, and I believe that teachers have received higher increases. Mr Dunstan estimated that S295m is required to maintain, not to improve, the present pupil-teacher ratio. Then he said:
Ancillary staff are vital. As they stand, our schools are understaffed Teachers have to provide ancillary services and this means we get inadequate teaching done. We find that on an average 16 per cent of the children reaching the end nf primary school require remedial teaching and <vo have no remedial teachers tn provide it.
This becomes a serious question, to my mind. I was a member of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. This question will be developed when we consider that Committee’s report, but the Committee found that on the average, youths between 15 and 25 years of age indulge in drug taking of some sort, whether it -be narcotics or alcohol, and that after 25 years of age they generally give drugs away. Possibly 5 per cent of them remain on drugs for the rest of their lives and become addicted to the habit of drug taking. They become either alcoholics or drug takers of some sort.
– What percentage?
– Possibly 5 per cent of youths become drug takers. There are some 250,000 hopeless alcoholics in Australia. These people have no hope or purpose in life. They will simply waste away their years. They are a burden upon society. They are sentenced to life imprisonment by the instalment system. Psychiatrists can trace every one of these cases back to a disturbed early childhood. Invariably a disturbed early childhood can be detected at school when a child is 6 or 7 years of age. Backward children can be detected because they will not co-operate with the class or with society, or they are in revolt against society, or they have an inability to mix. This problem can be rectified by remedial action by a psychologist, but we are not training psychologists in Australia. There are only 3 psychologists in the whole State school system in New South Wales, and there are fewer in State schools in the other States and in the
Commonwealth Territories. Here is a wastage, a throwing away of human life, and we are doing nothing about it.
Correspondence from the Minister for Education in relation to a complaint at one school indicated that the educational capabilities of migrants cannot be assessed because of their inability to speak the English language. The Minister pointed out that the Government tries to give help in this direction but that it can do so only when the numbers are sufficient. As there were only 3 at a particular school nothing could be done. Unless they mix into the environment and make progress with the language their education is doomed. That is what is going on in our education system at the present time.
According to Mr Dunstan, increased clerical and para-professional services as well as counsellors and social workers are needed in South Australian schools. He said that the total 5-year cost of providing these services would be $63m. That is only the cost for South Australia. He said that by 1975 we will need to spend $20m annually compared with the current expenditure of about Sim a year. In this area South Australia is well behind the standards in the other Slates, even though they consider their standards to be inadequate.
I turn now to the question of the adequacy of school buildings. Forty per cent of South Australia’s school buildings are constructed of timber. Most of them urgently need replacement. It appears that South Australia undertook an emergency timber construction programme for schools because of the problems it faced as a result of an enormous increase in school enrolments. Apparently South Australia has twice the Australian average. In consequence of that there is a need today to replace some of these buildings. To bring all school buildings in South Australia, including the timber ones, up to a desirable standard by 1975 would cost over $200m. Classes are being taught in South Australia in open sheds and in old and dilapidated schools which are not fit for children to occupy. They have cold, draughty corridors and so on.
The equipping of all schools in South Australia with desirable and useful equipment by 1975 would, according to Mr
Dunstan, entail a doubling of the 1970 expenditure in 1971 and the expenditure of increasing sums thereafter. He said South Australia is well behind the standards of the other States. South Australia needs increased expenditure on administration, the purchase of land, inservice education, the provision of text books, allowances for students, school transport and library services in primary schools, lt should be noted that of all the Austraiian States South Australia has the greatest population of students attending State schools - about 85 per cent. South Australia is faced with by far the greatest expansion of enrolments of any State since the war. The increased anxiety of the State schools in South Australia can be readily appreciated, lt is the State which has had the biggest increase in enrolments since the war. It is a State in which 85 per cent of the school children go to State schools. Mr Dunstan said that it is an absurd situation when the priorities become so out of kilter that school children being taught in a shelter shed have the use of a very expensive telescope which has been provided for the school when there is not an adequate class room in which they can be taught.
South Australia needs more Commonwealth help in education generally with the greatest possible degree of flexibility being left to that State to determine is priorities. The Commonwealth is giving priority in the field of education to assistance to independent schools and the provision of science blocks and libraries. The first priority in any school should be adequate class rooms. It is absurd to think that the use of an expensive telescope should be made available to a school at which children are being taught in a shed. J understand that an agency gave to the Mansfield Park school in South Australia a computer for study purposes and that a number of children from other schools go there to receive lectures on the use of computers. I believe that on every occasion such a group comes to this school to study the use of the computer the class in the room in which the computer is installed has to find accommodation in the yard or crowd into another classroom.
The education position is not much better in the other States. Let us consider what Mr Cutler, the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education in New South
Wales, had to say about the position in New South Wales. Incidentally, he supported Mr Dunstan’s claim for more assistance for South Australian schools. He said:
In New South Wales - these are figures that have not been released before - we need not an expenditure but an increase in capital works over the next 5 years of about$160m in the field of primary and secondary education and teacher training. In the recurrent field we need a rise of - not up to, but an increase -$280m at the end of the 3-year period in our annual recurrent expenditure. That is roughly double the annual amount of money that we are spending as recurrent expenditure at the moment. In thefield of teacher training you-
That is, the Commonwealth Government - have helped considerably over the last few years and we are in fact building 3 new teachers’ colleges … to try to cope with our teacher training problem. … We are trying to recruit them in England, America and Canada and at the present time we are spending $250,000 on recruitment on those countries.
That is an indication of the battle by New South Wales to train teachers. Mr Cutler went on to say: 1 join with the Premier of South Australia in saying that whatever is done in the future there should be flexibility as far as the States are concerned; but the States are completely incapable financially of facing up to the problems that confront education over the next 5 years. It is particularly in this period between now and 1975 that we need to put education in Australia on a proper basis. Perhaps after that we can as States face up to our responsibilities completely.
This is not a matter that can be put off to another day. An urgent plea has been made by the Minister for Education in New South Wales for assistance. Mr Bjelke-Petersen is no better off in Queensland. He supported the provision of further assistance. He said:
As to further Commonwealth assistance, we certainly, do not want it on a matching basis. Our Budget is, you might say, shackled far too much at present by Commonwealth matching requirements. This is always a very real problem when money is made available on this basis. I think any moneys that are made available for educational purposes within our States should not be on a matching grant basis.
Sir Arthur Rylah said that he also supported the Premier of South Australia in his claims.In pointing out the position in Victoria he said:
As my Premier pointed out earlier today or yesterday, the matching grants, as far as the revenue of universities is concerned, have an historical background. Students used to pay 85 per cent of the fees. Now they, pay about 10 per cent. On this general question I endorse what has been said by the Premier of South Australia about flexibility. It is becoming awfully hard to convince a school that has not got any class rooms or which is living in temporary class rooms that the school next door needs a library and should have a library. One further thing that is worrying us very severely is that the standards which are set by your people are so much higher than we can afford and they horrify, us.
That is the problem facing Victoria. In that State the aid is, as is the case with the assistance to primary industry, provided for certain projects. The result is wealthy schools are being granted aid for certain projects and not the schools that really need the aid.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - I present the 37th and 38th reports of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances relating to Norfolk Island ordinances and the activities of the Committee since the 36th report.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I move:
Mr J. R. Walsh and Mr H. B. Rothwell. on their own behalf and on behalf of their publishers be reprimanded by the Presiding Officer, be rescinded.
Senate on 14 May 1971, to Mr J. R. Walsh and Mr H. B. Rothwell on their own behalf and on behalf of their publishers by the Deputy-President in pursuance of the aforesaid Resolution of the Senate be revoked. (Notice given 17 August 1971).
This motion arises in rather unusual circumstances as it is a motion for the rescission of a resolution of the Senate and for the revocation of a discipline imposed by the Senate on the 2 gentlemen whose names are mentioned in the motion. The whole of these proceedings took place before the Senate as it was constituted prior to and up to 30th June this year when, following the periodic election for half of the Senate, the personnel of the Senate changed, a number of honourable senators having retired and a number of new honourable senators having joined this chamber and subsequently been sworn in. Therefore we have today a Senate constituted by those who were parties to the proceedings which I now have under scrutiny and by those who were not parties to this matter but are asked now to cast judgment in relation to it as this debate proceeds and as any resolutions are taken. However, let it be said that the Senate is a continuum. By the nature of the Senate under the Constitution it has a consistent and persistent life and although the personnel may change the Senate itself as an institution continues unbroken in the sense that it is not the 25th or 26th Parliament, although the Senate may operate in successive parliaments and does. The Senate itself persists, subject to periodic elections, and it goes on therefore in an unbroken stream discharging its duties as an integral part of the legislature and of the legislative process.
But because there are honourable senators here who were not here when these proceedings took place, which are now subject to the scrutiny 1 propose to give them, 1 think that as these honourable senators are to be asked to pass judgment in this matter, and I trust individually, it is only right and proper that I should inform the Senate even though briefly of the background of the whole situation so that honourable senators may be informed on the matter to which they will be asked to direct their minds and on which they will be asked to pass judgment. Therefore I trespass on the time of the Senate ever so briefly to indicate the background of this whole matter.
As honourable senators will know there was constituted last year, and is still operating, the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. That Committee has now brought in its report. Apparently the report was in course of preparation and had not been released. Under the Standing Orders, in those cir cumstances neither the report nor any part of it can be disclosed or made public until it is first reported to the Senate. However, some part of the report appeared to emerge in 2 newspapers in Australia with a reference in terms which indicated that the report or part of it had been sighted and quoted. That was regarded with very grave concern by the Senate as probably constituting a breach of privilege of this chamber.
As honourable senators know, there is a special committee of the Senate, the Committee of Privileges, which overlooks these matters and which, by direction of the Senate is entrusted with the responsibility of giving particular consideration and attention to, and particularly scrutinising, any allegations of breaches of privilege of the Senate or the Parliament that might be referred to it. In view of the publication of these reports, Senator Marriott, who is Chairman of the select committee in question, moved on 4th May the following motion, which appears at page 1 of the subsequent report of the Committee of Privileges which was presented to this chamber:
That the article on page 1 of the ‘Sunday Australian’ of 2nd May 1971, and the article on page 845 of the ‘Sunday Review’ of 2nd May 1971, dealing wilh the proposed report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia, be referred to the Committee of Privileges for investigation and report.
That motion was presented to the Senate and carried, and the matter stood duly referred to the Committee of Privileges which subsequently sat on the matter, heard evidence in terms which I shall later describe and presented in its report to the Parliament. As honourable senators approach the consideration of this matter, which is a motion for the rescision of the resolution of the Senate that the report of the Committee of Privileges be adopted, they will see that the motion is in 2 parts, the first part relating to the adoption of the finding of fact of the Committee and the second part relating to the adoption of the recommendation of the Committee as to the punishment of the 2 gentlemen concerned and those whom they represented.
I assure honourable senators that if they are to pass judgment on this matter they should in no sense regard this as what we call in law a stare decisus. That is a term used for a case which, having been determined by a superior court - probably the highest of the superior courts - stands then among the decided cases and is there to be observed and followed. Unless it is specifically overruled, as sometimes happens, it stands as a legal block against any departure from the principles therein enunciated. I am suggesting that in this case the decision of the Senate on this matter is not a stare decisus. No appeal lies from a decision of this tribunal. The only appeal, in a sense, may be a reconsideration by this tribunal of its own decision. If a determination is made by a court there is an appeal to a superior court or a series of superior courts until one reaches the highest tribunal, and that is a right which may be availed of by litigants. In this case, of course, there is no appeal from this body and, therefore, if this body has erred in any way it is only this body that is positioned, equipped and entitled to rectify the error.
Therefore I am asking honourable senators who may come to a consideration of this matter not to be affected or to feel that in any sense they are bound by the decision which was made by the Senate when it last looked at this matter. It is open to the Senate to reconsider the matter. Due notice having been given, the matter is properly within the forms of the Senate, and if it is proper to be reconsidered natural justice may demand that it be reconsidered. The obligation lies on honourable senators to regard it in that light. It is a matter of individual senatorial responsibility. I take it that, this being a matter in which the Senate is acting judicially, or quasi-judicially, there should not be any firm party decisions on this matter. It is not a matter on which a party can decide how its members should vote. In other words, to use a cliche, the whips should properly be withdrawn from honourable senators because, this being a rare occasion on which the Senate operates judicially, individual senators should have the untrammelled right to form their own decision and arrive at their own conclusion.
– Surely, Senator, you cannot decide how parties operate.
– No. I am not deciding. I am merely suggesting that it is appropriate. I think that Senator Cavan agh, who has some sensitivity in this field, would agree with my proposition that this is a matter on which individual senators would feel disposed, obliged and entitled to cast a free vote according to the evidence displayed before them or the principles they thought should be followed in this case. Beyond that I do not go. That is a matter for individual senators and parties.
– I would hope that the whole party would vote for natural justice.
– Thank you very much. Senator. I would hope that the whole party would vote for it, but I would hope that in doing so honourable senators would vote as individuals. In other words, I hope that they would not vote as a party but that all members of a party would look the same way if it were established that there had been a denial of natura! justice.
– Natural justice is a concomitant of the exercise of judicial power.
– Exactly. That is right.
– Why do you say that a legislature exercises judicial power?
– I was going to develop that as part of my presentation, as I concede that that is an integral and necessary part of the case that I would present for the support and, I trust, the approval and adoption by the Senate. I would ask honourable senators also not to allow their minds to be diverted by the fact that the punishment in this case appears to be a very light punishment. In relative terms, possibly it was a light punishment. It was a severe reprimand. Senator Gair said that it was a very light punishment. That was his opinion. I suppose that, in relative terms, it is a light punishment because the Senate had power to impose very much more severe and heavy penalties. But any discipline imposed by a chamber of the national legislature is by its nature, in my concept, a severe punishment though relative to other things it might be considered a mild and light punishment.
But I do not want the fact that this was only, in any terms, apparently a mild punishment to divert honourable- senators from the fact that the operative factor here is the fact of the discipline, the fact of the punishment, not the quantum of the punishment. If, for example, the gentlemen concerned, having been called to the Bar of the Senate, had been sent to prison if that power rested in the Senate, or had been heavily fined, then I feel that if I put up a proposition here that they had not been given the right to be heard as they should have been heard, honourable senators would feel that a very strong case would have to be made out why the matter should not be reviewed. I do not think that case has to be any stronger because the penalty appears to be a light penalty.
It is a penalty, it is a disability and it is a disadvantage to the persons on whom it was imposed and, coming from this Parliament, 1 think that in absolute terms it is nevertheless a severe penalty in anybody’s language. A reprimand from the national Parliament is quite a grave reflection on any citizen and one which none of us would wish to bear. If administered, it is a reprimand that one carries through the whole of one’s life. I was concerned about this when the report was brought into the Senate. I shall detail to honourable senators the circumstances surrounding that. J feel, candidly, that I should have done something about it then. I want to say quite clearly: f think the Senate has erred in this matter.
As one of the senators who was sitting in this place on that day and at that time I think that I am what is called in law .ticeps criminis.’ I feel that 1 also must bear my share of responsibility - if my proposition is correct - that this matter was not handled at that time.
– Are you saying that the Committee did not discharge its function?
– No, I am not suggesting that.
– Are you canvassing it?
– I will say just what 1 am doing, lt is not that. 1 am not suggesting that. I am merely saying that the Senate, when it assembled and when these gentlemen appeared before the Bar and when the report was presented, adopted a wrong procedure and as a senator who sat in this chamber at that time I must accept my share of the responsibility for what it did. All I can say is that I was conscious of it, and when the matter was raised in a slightly different context 4 days later in this chamber I said:
I have been very concerned about certain aspects of this matter. I have been concerned as to whether, the Senate, in operating in the whole of this matter within the Standing Orders and precedents, operated properly in that it did not ask those who were charged with breach of privilege to show cause before this chamber. I think that it is most important that the whole matter of the rights of the Press, and so on and so forth, should be referred to the Privileges Committee. Therefore, I strongly endorse the motion which is now before the Senate.
So I did advert at that time to a matter that was gravely concerning me. That was the day immediately before the Senate rose for the recess. We returned only a week ago. Under the Standing Orders I had to give notice of the motion I am now moving and 7 days had to elapse before the motion could be presented. Therefore, I gave notice on the first day the Senate sat and today is the first available day on which it could be debated. 1 did that because anything that involves the rights and liberties of the individual is a very serious matter and one in which delays and procrastination cannot be accepted or tolerated. Consequently, at the first opportunity I have moved in this matter. That is why the matter now comes before the Senate.
Following the matter being raised and then referred to the Privileges Committee on the motion of Senator Marriott to which 1 referred, the matter was considered by the Privileges Committee. It sat for some days and called evidence and, among other witnesses, it called Mr H. B. Rothwell, publisher and editor of the ‘Sunday Australian’, and Mr J. R. Walsh, editor of the ‘Sunday Review’. These 2 gentlemen were heard and the Committee brought in its report which was furnished to the Senate on 13th May 1971. The report - I take it that honourable senators have a copy before them - read in part as follows:
The Committee, as a ‘result of its consideration of the relevant documents and its examination of witnesses, has resolved unanimously that the publication, in ‘The Sunday Review’ and ‘The Sunday Australian’, of contents of a draft report of a Select Committee of the Senate, prior to its presentation to the Senate, constitutes a breach of the privileges of the Senate. Premature publication of a. report, or the contents of a document containing a draft report from a Senate Committee is a breach of privilege, unless the Senate hu approved that course or has authorised the Committee to publish the same. It is no answer to suggest that the consequences of such action are avoided if only part of the report is published or if extracts are prefaced by words indicating anticipation of Committee recommendations.
The report goes on to canvass authorities and then the Committee reports to the Senate as follows:
The Committee also considers that the Senate has the power, by order, to find a person guilty of a breach of privilege.
This is what the Committee reported:
The Sunday Australian’ -
Editor: H. B. Rothwell
Publisher: Mirror Newspapers Ltd
The Sunday Review’ -
Editor: Mr J. R. Walsh
Publisher: IPEC Ltd.
AND RECOMMENDS -
That, having regard to the nature of the breaches of privilege in this case, and the circumstances in which they occurred, Mr J. R. Walsh and Mr H. S. Rothwell be required to attend before the Senate, on their own behalf and on behalf of their publishers, to be reprimanded by the Presiding Officer.
THE COMMITTEE FURTHER REPORTS -
That it considers that any such breach should, in the future, save in exceptional circumstances, be met by a much heavier penalty, such as a substantial fine, but, as this is the first such breach to come to the attention of the Senate, the Committee considers that the situation would bc adequately met by severe reprimand.
In moving this motion 1 do not purport - nor is it my intention - to canvass the merits of the case. As I say, that report came out in 2 parts. There was a finding of fact- a combined finding of fact and law - that there had been a breach of privilege, and a recommendation. Subsequently a motion was moved by Senator Branson raising the matter of the means by which this leakage of information, if it was established, occurred. There was also on the
Senate notice paper a motion by Senator Murphy for a reference of the whole matter of the privileges of the Senate to the Privileges Committee. Subsequently a motion combining Senator Murphy’s motion for a reference to the Committee and Senator Branson’s motion was placed before the Senate and the 2 motions combined were referred to the Committee of Privileges and they stand there referred. That Committee is looking into this whole matter of the source of the leakage and things of that nature.
It is not my intention to canvass the merits of the case. What I am canvassing here tonight is a series of propositions which I will put succinctly thus: In the whole of this matter the Senate was acting judicially. The Senate, or any chamber of the legislature, is not a judicial body, but the Senate is a body which in this circumstance was acting judicially. That is the first proposition. If that is so and if it was acting judicially, it is required to observe the procedures and forms of a body acting judicially. That is the second proposition. To fail, in those circumstances, so to act is a denial of natural justice.
– Some eminent legal men, including Queen’s Counsel, were on that Committee.
– That may be so. I said that there is a degree of culpability in the Senate, and the legal men of the chamber are not excluded from that reference. I happen to be a legal man myself, although not in the area of eminence to which the honourable senator referred. Thirdly, in this matter there was a denial of natural justice. There having been a denial of natural justice in the operations of a tribunal acting judicially, the proceedings, insofar as there has been a denial, should be quashed. That, in brief, is the series of propositions that I place before the Senate.
– What was the denial of natural justice?
– I am coming to that. The denial of natural justice was this: When the report was presented to the Senate it was adopted in toto on 13 th May by resolution of the Senate. The report was in 2 parts: Firstly, there was the rinding of fact that there had been a breach of privilege by the 2 gentlemen concerned and those on whose behalf they appeared; and secondly, there was this recommendation:
That, having regard to the nature of the breaches of privilege in this case, and the circumstances in which they occurred, Mr J. R. Walsh and Mr H. B. Rothwell be required to attend before the Senate, on their own behalf and on behalf of their publishers, to be reprimanded by the Presiding Officer.
I think that the Senate, in passing the resolution to adopt the finding of fact, did not err in the sense that one might disagree with the finding but the Senate, by resolution, was prepared to adopt it. The Committee of Privileges has been constituted by the Senate, almost as a jury as a tribunal of fact might be regarded as an integral part of the criminal or even the civil judicial process, as a tribunal of fact to find the facts. The fact having been found, it is then taken into consideration by the court for subsequent action in pursuance of the decision or the verdict.
– Are you blaming this on the Committee’s handling of the matter?
– No, 1 am not - not at all. Therefore I think the recommendation of the Committee was one it was entitled to make within the terms of the reference and within the terms of the Standing Orders. Whether or not on the facts the Committee should have made the recommendation it did is another matter. I do not canvass that. All I say is that there is a standing order, which was recently amended, regarding the release of evidence given before committees of the Senate which provides for the extraordinary proposition that such evidence can be released for inspection only by resolution of the Senate or by the Committee itself. I think that is the proposition in general terms.
I do not know how one would operate such a standing order. If. for example, a committee of the Senate refused to publish its evidence or to make it available and one member of the Committee thought that the evidence should be published and moved a motion to that effect in this place, how would honourable senators be able to decide whether the evidence should or should not be published if they were not able to see it? Yet honourable senators cannot see it until the Senate has passed the resolution. There is an extraordinary contradiction within that standing order. The Senate is asked to make a definitive judgment as to whether it is proper to release evidence; but only when the judgment is passed, when the motion is carried in the Senate and judgment is made can evidence then be seen by the senators, apart from those senators serving on the Committee. That seems to me to be an extraordinary contradiction. However, the point is that the Senate did endow the Privileges Committee to make a finding of fact and the Senate adopted the finding.
The next part comes in the Senate’s motion to adopt the recommendation of the Committee. After all, like a judicial proceeding with a tribunal of fact embedded in it - a criminal or a civil jury - a tribunal of fact finds the facts and then the matter goes back to the judicial presiding officer who will operate from then on. The Senate was the disciplinary body. It constituted the Committee to be the fact finding body and adopted its finding of fact, but the discipline did not rest within the Committee itself. It rested within the Senate. Therefore all the Committee could do was make a recommendation, which it did. I think the Senate erred grievously at this point. When the Senate adopted the recommendation of the Committee as regards punishment, it adopted it in those precise terms; that those 2 gentleman be called to the Bar and reprimanded. I think it is unfortunate - no more than that - that the Committee framed its recommendation in those terms. I think the Committee should have framed it in terms that the gentlemen be called to the Bar to show cause, why they should not be reprimanded or otherwise dealt with. But the Senate finished in the position that it adopted the recommendation that these men should be called to the Bar and reprimanded.
– Would you elaborate on why they should have been called upon to show cause?
– Very well. I hope to do so later on. These gentlemen were called to the Bar and they were immediately reprimanded by the Presiding Officer of the Senate on 14th May in quite explicit terms. That reprimand was administered personally to the gentleman concerned. I refer honourable senators to page 1935 of the Senate Hansard report of 14th May. Under the heading ‘Privilege’ it states:
– Honourable senators, yesterday the Senate agreed to the following resolution:
The resolution was then recited. The report continues:
The Usher of the Black Rod- Mr Deputy President, Mr Walsh and Mr Rothwell are in attendance.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull)Ask Mr Walsh and Mr Rothwell to attend the Senate. (Mr Walsh and Mr Rothwell being in attendance)
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Mr Walsh and Mr Rothwell, the decision of the Senate is that you, on your own behalf and on behalf of your publishers, be severely reprimanded for the publication of contents of a draft report of the Senate Select Committee on Drag Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia, prior to its presentation to the Senate. I therefore, on behalf of the Senate, severely reprimand you as guilty of a breach of privilege. Gentlemen, you may now withdraw.
In other words, the Senate immediately proceeded to reprimand these gentlemen at the Bar. No attempt was made to call on them to show cause why they should not be reprimanded or why they should not be punished in some other way, more or less severely. As I have said, Mr President, my first proposition is that the Senate, while not being a judicial body, was a body acting judicially and was required therefore to observe the forms. At one of the famous Irish treason trials when an attempt was made to deny to a person who had been found guilty of treason an opportunity to show cause why sentence of death should not be passed upon him, he said to the Presiding judicial officer:
You are the priest of the oracle. I insist upon the whole of the forms.
We were the priests of the oracle and we did not insist upon the whole of the forms. After all, these gentlemen were brought to the Bar. With respect, I think it would be contrary to Standing Orders for a person to intrude himself by purporting to speak uninvited in this place. At the Bar it would be disorderly for him technically to attempt to speak uninvited across the Bar. These gentlemen did not speak and were not invited to speak on their own behalf or to say why sentence or punishment should not be inflicted upon them.
– Do you think the punishment would have been any different had they been invited to speak?
– I hope to deal with that, if I have time. I do not know; that is a matter for individual senators. The point is that the gentlemen were not given the opportunity to speak and senators were not given an opportunity to hear them.
– They said ‘Thank you’ after the punishment.
– That might be a matter of courtesy. I remember one famous case in Victoria where somebody said of a judge that he spoke such beautiful English that it was a pleasure to be condemned to death by him. One presumes that the use of the words ‘thank you’ does not necessarily indicate one’s concurrence with the decision. 1 therefore submit that this was a proceeding of a judicial nature, while this is not a judicial body, and I cite the authorities as to the governing law that should guide a body purporting to act judicially in relation to the following of some forms and procedures. This is the question raised by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). The authority 1 cite is from the most recent edition of the ‘Judicial Review of Administrative Action’ by Professor S. A. De Smith, Professor of Public Law in the University of London, who is well-known to all members of the legal profession. I shall quote a few passages^ - T hope rather briefly - from this volume to indicate that this is a proceeding of a judicial nature which must attract the observance of the procedures which normally are followed in general terms by bodies acting or purporting to act judicially or being judicial bodies. My first quote is from page 162. This concerns the right to a hearing in natural justice and what we call the scope of the ‘Audi Alteram Partem rule’. It states:
The courts tend to lean in favour of according procedural protection to certain classes of individual interests when these are placed in jeopardy. These interests include liberty of the person, freedom of movement, immunity from being found guilty of discreditable conduct or from being expelled from an organisation of which one is a member or from being deprived of a legal status, immunity from being subjected to financial impositions and from having one’s property destroyed, taken away or substantially interfered with, and immunity from being deprived of one’s livelihood.
I proceed to quote further excerpts from this authority:
The adverse impact of a discretionary decision on the interests of an individual may nevertheless be such that a refusal by the courts to insist that he be given an opportunity to be heard may be considered an affront to justice. A decision to deport an alien (in respect of which the courts have declined to require observance of natural justice) probably falls into this category, even though the Home Secretary’s decision may be based on considerations of national security or the maintenance of friendly relations with foreign States. So too, in general, does a decision to take away a person’s property rights in the public interest. Again, although it may be inappropriate for the courts to impose procedural duties on a licensing authority exercising a discretion to grant licences, justice may call for the imposition of such duties on the same authority before it decides to revoke a licence, especially if the revocation of a licence places a slur on the reputation of the person aggrieved.
That is, if in any sense the decision is of a punitive character or causes him substantial economic loss. In other words, the authorities at this point bear down on the side that if there are bodies that are not strictly judicial in character but operate within those parameters of imposing disciplines which may affect the character or status or economic welfare of a person, then they are required to follow certain procedural lines. I continue with a quotation from page 398 under the heading: Having a Duty to Act Judicially’. This sentence is rather technical. The prerogative writ of certiorari is one of the prerogative rights to move a matter from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction and that operates only in judicial jurisdictions. The authority states:
Certiorari will not issue to quash the order of a body that has acted in a purely ministerial capacity, notwithstanding that its ministerial order may have been preceded by, a determination of a judicial character by another body. It would appear, however, that prohibition may issue to a body that has itself performed functions of a judicial character although all that remains for it to do is to carry out a ministerial act - e.g., execution of its own judgment.
What, then, is meant by the ‘Duly to act judicially’? By 1952 an idea was prevalent that the duty was to be defined exclusively in procedural terms: a body was under a duty to act judicially, only if it was bound by statute to decide on evidence between a proposal and an opposition’. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has laid it down that the only relevant criterion was the nature of the process by which the decision was to be reached.
When it is a judicial process or a process analogous to the judicial, certiorari can be granted.’
In other words, if certiorari lies only to move initial processes then in those circumstances the Privy Council has held that according to the nature of the process by which the decision was to be reached that is a judicial process attracting certiorari. The author continues:
But the view that judicial duties arose only where explicit provision had been made for an authority to determine an issue resembling a lis inter partes -
That is a conflict between two parties, two people - - a view that may have been based on an oversimplified interpretation of the cases on natural justice decided under the Housing and New Towns Acts - overlooked two relevant lines of cases. First, there arc the cases in which a duty to act judicially in accordance with the rules of natural justice has been held to arise by implication from the nature of a power and its impact upon the rights of individuals, despite the absence of any express duty to follow a procedure analogous to the judicial.
This recitation from this authority obviously is bringing this procedure within the principles laid down in these judicial decisions.
– Your authority would not be upheld by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in dealing with unions.
– Perhaps I will bow to the knowledge of the honourable senator in relation to that, but I do not know that that is a matter that is particularly relevant. It might be that that body might not follow judicial procedures. I do not know about that. The author continues:
Secondly, there are the cases in which certiorary has issued to quash decisions made in excess of authority despite the fact that the body concerned was under no express or implied duty to afford a hearing to two contending parties. . . .
The duty to act judicially may, therefore, exist in situations other than those in which there is express statutory provision for the determination of an issue analogous to a lis inter partes. This was recognised in the Manchester Legal Aid Committee case (1952) by the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division, which observed that the duty might arise ‘in widely different circumstances which it would be impossible, and, indeed, inadvisable, to attempt to define exhaustively,’, in that case the committee, purporting to exercise its powers under the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949, had awarded a civil aid certificate to a trustee in bankruptcy to continue a bankrupt’s claim against a company, but had exceeded its jurisdiction by making its award on the basis of the bankrupt’s means, which were irrelevant. There was no statutory provision for the other party to the impending proceedings to be heard by the committee, and even the applicant for aid was not entitled to an oral hearing. The defendant company nevertheless succeeded, as persons aggrieved, in an application for certiorari to quash the certificate. The court held, after an unusually full review of the authorities on the scope of certiorari that although legal aid committees were in a sense administrative bodies and did not determine lites inter partes, they were under a duty to act judicially because they, are quite unconcerned with questions of policy.
There again we have these modern authorities saying that one cannot estimate or assess the judicial nature of a body in the strictest terms; that there are bodies which have no statutory definition of judicial functions but which by implication operate judicially and as such are subject to the legal processes of lifting litigation from one jurisdiction to another because it is a judicial proceeding. I submit therefore that, on these authorities, the procedures in the Senate - there was an examination of the facts and a finding of fact, and, the finding of fact having been brought into this place, the” Senate proceeded to administer punishment - were in all senses a judicial proceeding, a proceeding of a judicial character, in which, according to the authorities, the procedures should have been followed, I submit that the procedures were not followed.
What is the consequence? What did the Senate do? The first thing is that it found the facts. There is no doubt about that. It found the facts, clearly, and with that I do not disagree. We constituted the Privileges Committee, our arm, to discover the facts and we adopted its report. It made its recommendation in these rather extraordinary terms and we adopted that.
Of course, the Privileges Committee itself could not punish. It had no executive power whatsoever. The only disciplinary power rested with the Senate. In fact, until the Senate adopted the report of the Privileges Committee those gentlemen were technically not found guilty of the offence with which they were charged. The Privileges Committee may have found them guilty, but until the Senate adopted the report the Senate had not. Therefore, if the violation of natural justice lay in the fact that they had not been given an opportunity after the verdict had been brought in to be heard on the question of punishment or why punishment should not be inflicted upon them. I would say that that was a violation of natura! justice and one that calls for rectification by the body that was responsible for the imposition of the penalty and the only body that can correct the situation.
A crucial point in the whole argument is whether judicial support exists for the proposition 1 put forward. If a person, having been found guilty of an offence, is then denied the opportunity to be heard, does that constitute such a denial of justice as to amount to a violation of natural justice which requires either a quashing of the conviction or, for that matter, a retrial of the offence. In this case I am submitting that there is no occasion for a retrial at all. If my proposition is upheld I think the punishment should be quashed. I do not think these gentlemen should be again called before this chamber. I will indicate what may be the course open to them in those circumstances. I submit therefore that the 2 crucial stages in the whole of this procedure were when the Senate adopted the report of the Privileges Committee and when the Senate called the gentlemen to the Bar. The Senate should then have called on them to show cause why they should not be dealt with by imprisonment, fine, reprimand or in some other way. The Senate did not do that. Those men were denied an opportunity which is available in the humblest court of this land to the humblest citizen of this land. The Authorities are clear and unmistakable that if that right is denied, a violation of natural justice has’ occurred which must be rectified through the legal tribunals of the land.
– Browne and Fitzpatrick were brought before the Bar of the House of Representatives and given 3 months gaol.
– I do not know that injustice, however it is alleged on one case, will justify injustice in another. I wish to cite 3 cases. Firstly, I turn to a case in the High Court of Australia, Coward v Stapleton, 90 Commonwealth Law Reports at page 573. The Court comprised of Acting Chief Justice Williams, Mr Justice Kitto and Mr Justice Taylor. The headnote to the report read:
A bankrupt, who on his public examination under section 68 of the Bankruptcy Act 1924- 19S0 gives answers of such a nature as to convey to the court an intention not to give any real answers to the questions to which they relate, can properly be convicted of refusing to answer such question, but before he is convicted of contempt of court arising out of such refusal the specific charge against him must be distinctly stated and he must be allowed a reasonable opportunity of being heard in his own defence; that is a reasonable opportunity of placing before the court any explanation or amplification of his evidence and any submission of fact or law which he may wish the court to consider as bearing either upon the charge itself or upon the question of punishment.
That is a decision of the High Court of Australia. The other 2 references I wish to quote from the unanimous judgment of the Court are as follows:
The charge having been made sufficiently explicit, the person accused must then be allowed a reasonable opportunity of being heard in his own defence, that is to say a reasonable opportunity of placing before the court any explanation or amplification of his evidence, and any submissions of fact or law, which he may, wish the court to consider as bearing either upon the charge itself or upon the question of punishment.
The judgment continues:
But, with great respect to his Honor, to take that view at that stage was to overlook the imperative necessity of deferring the formation of a concluded opinion as to the inference to be drawn from the appellant’s words until there could be placed in the scales everything that the appellant might fairly wish to say, not only upon the questions asked of him, but also upon the question whether his purported answers amounted to a contempt of court, and, if so, what the sentence of the court should be.
In other words the court is scrupulous that a person must specifically advert to the probability of punishment and to what could be the condign and adequate punishment in the circumstances and he may be heard upon that. The reason is fairly patent. Particularly in a criminal trial an accused may elect not to go into the box. If the only evidence that could come before the court on his behalf was such evidence as he might adduce had he gone into the box in the course of the trial, things he might have said in exculpation of his crime, after his conviction, in explanation or expiation, are denied him if he is not given the opportunity when he is no longer in danger of conviction - having been convicted - to say why punishment at some level or another should not be imposed upon him. I presume that is why an accused is called upon to show cause before the judicial officer commences to impose the discipline of the law upon him. It is a condign and appropriate step to take, That step, if denied, is considered a violation of natural justice. The High Court, in the case of Coward and Stapleton, did not use the term ‘natural justice’, but it quashed the conviction of the person concerned.
In the case of Davies and Griffiths, reported in Kings Bench Division 1937, the court consisting of Lord Chief Justice Hewart, and Justices Macnaghten and Singleton upheld in substantially the same terms that proposition. In the course of their judgment, the Justices recited what the Justices sitting in original jurisdiction had said. The report reads:
Having come to the conclusion that we ought to convict on both charges, we then returned into court but did not make an announcement of our decision in court and asked if there was anything known previously against the appellant. The appellant’s previous convictions were then supplied to us in court and admitted by the appellant …
Now, with regard to that matter of procedure, our attention has been directed to Hill v. Tothill (1), but that case is admittedly not on all fours with the present case. In that case:
It appeared that the justices had privately informed themselves of a previous conviction of the defendant, when deciding upon the sentence to be imposed, and that on returning into court they convicted and pronounced sentence upon the defendant without requiring the previous conviction to be proved.
In other words, whether it was convictions to be proved or something to be stated by the convicted man in his own defence it was not heard and the court proceeded to consider the quashing of the conviction. The report continues:
In that case, this court decided to uphold the finding of the justices. Although undoubtedly it would have been better if the justices here had announced their decision to convict before inquiring of the previous history of the appellant . . .
The final case that I cite is the case of ex parte Kelly; re Teece, 1966 in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The court consisted of Justices Jacobs, Asprey and Holmes. It is reported in 1966 2 New South Wales Reports. The judgment states:
K was convicted under a provision dealing with suspected persons or reputed thieves found in any dock, etc., with intent to commit felony. The felony in question was larceny, but since the value of the goods would have been less than $100, K might have been proceeded against under s. 501 of the Crimes Act 1900, as amended, and so have been convicted of a misdemeanour and not of a felony.
At the trial, the prosecutor purported to prove K’s previous convictions by reading his record and also as to a further offence alleged to have been committed, by adding unsupported statements of his own recollection. The court accepted this, over the objection of the defendant’s counsel. The magistrate then purported to sentence K without giving his counsel the chance to be heard on the matter of sentence. When this matter was pointed out to him, the magistrate invited the defendant’s counsel to address on sentence and then proceeded once again to sentence K.
On the hearing of rules nisi for statutory and common law prohibition . . . failure to give counsel for the defend an opportunity to be heard on sentence was, without more, a denial of natural justice;
That is a decision of the Full Court of New South Wales in 1966 where counsel for the defence was not given the opportunity to be heard after his client had been convicted and before his client was sentenced. Counsel was not heard on any matter relating to sentence. It is illuminating to read in more detail the references by the court in this matter. The judgment continues:
Two matters have been relied on to ground the writs of prohibition. First it has been submitted that the statements of prior convictions were wrongly made and not properly proved; secondly, it has been submitted that no opportunity was given to counsel for the defendant to address on sentence. We shall deal with these questions in turn and at the same time consider whether they constitute grounds for statutory or common law prohibition respectively. This is important for the reason we indicated above. ft was submitted by counsel who appeared to support the conviction and sentence that some distinction should be drawn between evidence which would go towards a conviction and the type of thing which is said after conviction relating to sentence. It was submitted that because of expediency these statements, though still called evidence, should be regarded as capable of being placed before the Court in some way other than according to the ordinary rules of evidence even though the defendant, the accused, or counsel disputes the statement or the method of stating it.
Later the court said:
We are also of the view that the learned magistrate fell into error in failing to give counsel for the defendant an opportunity to be heard upon sentence. We consider that thereby there was at that stage a denial of natural justice to the defendant. It is true that there is no section of the Justices Act which specifically gives to a defendant the opportunity to be heard upon sentence, but we are led to the firm conclusion that such an opportunity should be given and that if it is not so given then there is a denial of natural justice. It is fundamental to the system of criminal trial that it proceed in two stages, the first up to the stage of determination of guilt and the second after the determination and up to sentence. It is not practicable to have an account of matters going to sentence, and it is therefore impracticable to address on sentence, until the first stage has been concluded.
The first stage was only concluded here when the Senate adopted the finding of fact of the Committee by its resolution, and the only, and the first and only, opportunity those 2 gentlemen would have had to show cause before sentence was pronounced was when they stood at the Bar and when they should have been given the opportunity on invitation.
– Yes, but the whole trial and evidence was different from court procedure.
– I know that members of the Privileges Committee or Senator Cavanagh may not agree. I am putting the proposition forward that this chamber must be particularly scrupulous and conscious in its approach to civil rights. I know that in this place I have been charged at times with lacking that sensitivity in relation to civil rights which my friends on my right claim some particular concern with, but on this occasion there is, to my mind, an obvious, clear and fundamental deprivation of civil rights according to the authorities, and particularly the authority which I am now reading. Therefore I would hope that the sensitivity as to civil rights in the mass would be seen here. I would hope that the civil rights individually, as shown here to have been violated, would reveive the same solicitude from honourabe senators as they have shown in relation to the theory of civil rights generally. The court said - and this is important:
It is true that there is no section of the Justices Act which specifically gives to a defendant the opportunity to be heard upon sentence, but we are led to the firm conclusion that such an opportunity should be given and that if it is not so given then there is a denial of natural justice. It is fundamental to the system of criminal trial that it proceeds in two stages, the first up to the stage of determination of guilt and the second after that determination and up to sentence. It is not practicable to have an account of matters going to sentence, and it is therefore impracticable to address on sentence, until the first stage has been concluded. Section 80 of the Justices Act provides:
After hearing what each party has to say and the witnesses and the evidence adduced, the said Justice or Justices shall consider and determine the whole matter, and convict or make an order upon the defendant or dismiss the information or complaint, as the case may require.’
This section is important in laying down the procedure before justices but it must be read in the light of the fundamental requirement of our criminal law that the two stages of the criminal trial be dealt with separately.It follows that the procedures of s. 80 must be gone through twice where the Court is dealing with first with conviction and then with sentence. The proper procedure for justices is stated in Davies v. Griffiths-
That is the other case which I have here to cite in Kings Bench by Lord Hewart and 2 other justices - to be that they should announce the decision to convict before inquiring of the previous convictions and, that being so, the defendant or his counsel should have the further opportunity of addressing.
There is a clear and unmistakable statement of the law.
– Under criminal law.
– I am staggered at the type of interjection that is coming from Senator Cavanagh. After all, we are dealing here with something which is penal in its very nature; something which imposes a discipline by the High Court of Parliament, as it has been referred to through history; something which imposes a reproach on a person who appears before the Bar charged with violating the privileges of this House. It is essentially penal in its nature, lt may not be provided for in the Criminal Code but it is penal in its nature. All the protection and all the defences available in criminal law, I would say, should properly be available where penal situations develop in this place. That Senator Cavanagh should attempt in any sense to distinguish between the one and the other as justifying the procedure in this case is completely incomprehensible to me. With his protester’s concern for civil rights, I am staggered that he should make that comment. I could perhaps expect it to come from other honourable senators but not from Senator Cavanagh. The court continued:
The question now arises as to what course should be taken by this Court in the light of the events which have been disclosed.
It stated further:
This would be so if the conviction and sentence must be regarded as one act, the component parts of which are not separable, lt may be, however, that conviction and sentence should be separately regarded.
I rely very substantially on the fundamental principles of justice. They were enunciated by a superior court in Australia as recently as 1966. The court comprised distinguished justices of New South Wales. They were Justice Jacobs, Justice Asprey and Justice Holmes. There is a clear statement on a situation which arose here. The 2 requirements are for a body purporting to act judicially to convict these 2 gentlemen of an offence against the privileges of the House, and for that body to then proceed to impose punishment. They are the 2 stages, and the court is clear that a judicial body acting judicially must separate the 2 stages and at the commencement of the second stage must give the accused the opportunity of showing cause why they should not be punished. This is not purely an academic exercise. Let us examine what these good gentlemen said to the Committee. Paragraph 6 of the committee’s report reads:
The Committee was told by each editor that he did nol advert to the possibility of a breach of parliamentary privilege being involved in the premature publication of the relevant article. The Managing Editor of ‘The Sunday Review’ stated that no disrespect to the Senate was intended and that, if a breach of privilege was involved, he would wish to tender an unqualified apology on behalf of himself and his newspaper.
The breach of privilege was established only when the Senate passed the resolution. It was at that point of time that he should have been given the opportunity, which he said he would take, of apologising. The Committee had this to say in relation to the second gentleman:
The Editor of The Sunday Australian’ indicated that if the Committee found him to be in breach of privilege he would be ready to apologise.
Again he was not found guilty technically until the Senate adopted the resolution. As these gentlemen came to the Bar they at least should have been given the opportunity, which they said they would seize if it was presented to them, of tendering their apologies. If these gentlemen had tendered their apologies, who is to say that the judgment of individual senators, including the judgment of Senator Cavanagh, may not have been different? Who is to say that when the 2 gentlemen came to the Bar and publicly and humbly apologised at the Bar, the opinion of the Senate may not have been totally different? That is an opportunity that should have been presented to these gentlemen and was denied to them by this chamber. I think that is an extremely serious thing.
The Senate is moving into a new area of operation. We are embarking upon an extended system of committee investigation which will require the attendance of members of the public before committees. It will require the attendance of the Press, or the Press will be present. There is now a higher degree of importance surrounding the deliberations and operations of the committees. As a former distinguished chairman of a number of select committees and other committees in this chamber you, Mr President, know to what I am referring. It would be very bad if at this stage of the development of the committee system the Senate did not show the greatest sensitivity in relation to civil rights. It would be disastrous if we allowed this situation - if there is validity in the proposition I present - to go unchallenged and unchallengeable. If the Senate finds it necessary to revoke its former decision, I think it should not be embarrassed. I think that such a decision would bring great credit to the Senate and that members of the public, who undoubtedly approach these new developments in the Senate with some trepidation - already questions have been raised in regard to trespass upon civil rights - would be reassured if they knew that the Senate was so conscious about these matters that, even to the extent of rectifying what it thought may have been a departure from proper practice wreaking some element of injustice, it was prepared to retrace its steps and to revoke the discipline that had been imposed.
For those reasons I appeal to honourable senators - I appeal to them individually - to bring to this matter the best judgment they may bring. I appeal particularly to the new honourable senators who were not here on the occasion I have mentioned. I appeal to honourable senators to do so without embarrassment and to do so with a proper concern not only for the dignity of this chamber and the rights of those who may be in it. but more particularly for the rights of those who are not in the chamber but of whose welfare we are the guardians and the custodians. They are my concern tonight. I do not know either of these gentlemen personally or individually. I do not think I have seen either of them, except casually. I would not recognise them now. (Extension of time granted.) I thank honourable senators. I do not propose to trespass unduly upon the courtesy which the Senate has extended to me. I merely wish to round off the submission I was making. I say to honourable senators that this is a rather rare occasion on which the
Senate is being asked to revoke a decision made in the high Senate on a most dramatic occasion. It is an acknowledgement that the Senate may have erred on that occasion in the way which I think it has erred and which 1 have tried to present to this chamber.
There is no reason why the Senate should feel it is being humiliated to any degree or in any way by recasting its view, recapturing the position and exonerating these gentlemen from punishment. I see no reason why any honourable senator or the Senate should be embarrassed about that. But I would see great reason for embarrassment if for any reason - and particularly if the Senate wished to preserve its own dignity or refused to acknowledge an error - the Senate should decline, if it thought an injustice had been done, to rectify that injustice. That would be a deep cause for embarrassment to the Senate and to honourable senators individually.
For those reasons I say this: I do not ask for the retrial of these men; I do not ask for them to be brought to the Bar again. I said before that I think we should quash the punishment. The finding that these gentlemen breached privilege stands. 1 do not disturb it. The whole- matter of privilege and other matters are before the Committee of Privileges and I do not canvass them. But I think the punishment in these circumstances should be revoked and to that extent should be quashed. I do not suggest that these gentlemen be brought back again to the Bar. They said that if they were found guilty of a breach of privilege they would be prepared to apologise. That would be a matter for the individual gentleman concerned. If this resolution is revoked I have little doubt that they, having accepted the finding of fact, or said that they would, would then be prepared -to present their apologies in a suitable form, by letter or otherwise, through you Mr President, to this chamber. I do not know; that is purely speculation. I would imagine that that would probably happen. I think that when that stage was reached the matter might well be allowed to rest.
Mr President, I commend this motion to the attention, the care and the consideration of honourable senators. I ask them to give it the best judgment which they may bring to bear upon it so that what I think is a fundamental injustice done to 2 Australian citizens may be discarded and destroyed by this Australian Senate by a resolution rescinding the motion for the adoption of the report of the Committee of Privileges, insofar as it applied to punishment, and revoking the sentence of reprimand imposed by the Senate. I do ask honourable senators to give this motion the consideration that it deserves and to give these gentleemn the opportunity to which they are entitled as citizens of this Commonwealth.
– For more than an hour now we have listened to a case built up by Senator Byrne to the effect that a decision made by the Senate in May, during the last sessional period, has caused an injustice. We have listened very carefully to Senator Byrne, but despite all his long experience in this place, despite his legal training and despite his practice in law, I cannot agree with him.
– You would be a great challenge, would you not?
– That is all right, Senator Gair. 1 want to take the Senate back firstly to Senator Byrne’s opening remarks when he referred to this decision being taken at a time when the personnel of the Senate was totally different from what it is today. 1 remind honourable senators that at the time this decision was taken there were 12 senators who are not here at the present time. Today we have 12 new senators who have not the background and who have not heard the arguments put forward in this case. Yet Senator Byrne is asking that these men and women make a decision tonight that an injustice has occurred.
Senator Byrne’s motion suggests that the penalty imposed on the 2 editors concerned following the recommendation of the Committee of Privileges should be revoked. What would be the effect of this? The effect would” be that the breach of privilege which was found to have been committed by the premature publication of extracts from a committee report would be allowed to pass without a penalty of any degree. The original penalty, a reprimand, was recommended hy the Committee which had considered the matter upon reference from the Senate. It heard evidence from the 2 gentlemen concerned who were completely unrestricted in their appearance, and selected a reprimand from the range of possible penalties, including no penalty at all.
For the benefit of the new senators let us. go back over the case. We had a situation where some premature reports were printed in 2 weekly newspapers as to what they believed would be the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia. On 4th May 1971 Senator Marriott, who was Chairman of the Select Committee, moved the following motion in the Senate:
That the article on page 1 of the ‘Sunday Australian’ of 2nd May 1971 and the article on page 845 of the ‘Sunday Review’ of 2nd May 1971, dealing with the proposed report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia, be referred to a Committee of Privileges for investigation and report.
After hearing arguments on this matter from Senator Marriott the Senate agreed to the motion and the matter was referred to a Committee of Privileges of this Senate. I understand that the Committee had never met in the 70 years history of this Senate. Yet this matter was referred to the Committee for its decision. On 13th May the Committee brought down a report. The report is a document which is available to all honourable senators to read. On reading the report we find that the Committee held its first meeting on the day following the moving of the motion in the Senate. After discussion the Committee interpreted its reference from the Senate as raising only the possible breach of privilege by the newspapers referred to in the motion and considered that the reference did not entitle the Committee to inquire into and report upon the question of how the information contained in the draft report came to the knowledge of, or into the hands of, the newspapers concerned.
The Committee held 6 meetings and heard evidence from Senator Marriott, Mr Walsh, the managing editor of the ‘Sunday Review’, and Mr Rothwell, the editor of the ‘Sunday Australian’. If one looks into the minutes of these meetings one finds that at the meeting on 6th May the Committee decided to discuss the action to be taken by the Committee. It was of the opinion that a prima facie case of breach of privilege had been committed by the premature publication in the newspaper articles referred to the Committee of a select committee document contrary to the provisions of standing order 308. It also decided that the editors of the ‘Sunday Review’ and the ‘Sunday Australian’ be requested to attend before the Committee and, in the event of their not agreeing to attend, action be taken to issue the necessary summons for attendance. The Committee went on to decide the matter of legal counsel and whether the witnesses appearing before it should be represented. Following a discussion it decided that the practice previously adopted by Senate committees following the House of Commons practice - as set out in May ‘Parliamentary Practice’, 17th edition at page 655 - should be followed. It was resolved that witnesses might be accompanied by their solicitor or counsel and might, with leave, seek advice from their solicitor or counsel during the answering of questions put by the Committee. It also decided that any submissions or representations made by witnesses should be heard by the Committee. It further decided that the right of the solicitor or counsel to make any submissions be considered by the Committee when application therefore was made.
If we turn to the back of the report and read the minutes of the meeting held on 10th May we find that Mr Walsh, managing editor of the ‘Sunday Review’ was called and made an affirmation. First of all Mr Walsh was asked whether he would like to give an explanation. He told his story and was examined by various members of the Committee.
– Of course that is not my point.
– The honourable senator made his point after this matter came into the Senate but there are honourable senators who have no background knowledge of what took place in this matter. Then we find that Mr Walsh withdrew and Mr Rothwell, the editor of the ‘Sunday Australian’ was called, sworn and examined. Mr Rothwell was accompanied by his legal adviser Mr B. R. Gallen who also addressed the Committee. Then if we turn to the minutes of a further meeting of the Committee, under the heading ‘Future Witnesses’ the following - appears:
The Chairman advised the Committee that, in answer to telegrams sent to Mirror Newspapers Ltd and IPEC Ltd, replies had been received indicating that neither company wished to produce any evidence or submissions to tha Committee.
Surely if those companies believed that their 2 editors had not had a fair go up to that stage, would not they have wanted to come and give further evidence on this matter to the Committee? Having received all this information and having cross-examined the 2 witnesses who wanted to appear before the Committee, the Committee then had further meetings in order to decide what recommendations it would put to the Senate.
– Why were they not allowed to apologise to the Senate?
– That matter was even considered by the Committee. The Committee considered whether it should recommend to the Senate that the 2 editors be reprimanded, punished or allowed to apologise.
– It was never claimed that they did not get a fair hearing.
– It could never be claimed that they did not get a fair hearing. The Committee then made its report to the Senate. I remind the Senate that 12 members of the Senate at that time are not now members of the Senate. The Senate, as then consituted, agreed to the Committee’s recommendation without any variation or any suggestion as to how the reprimand was to be effected. The Senate’s decision was taken without any dissent or comment. Senator Byrne and his colleagues, if they had wished, could have approached the President of the Senate and made their fears known to him. They could have stood in their places in this Senate and said what they believed should be done, but they chose not to do so.
– Say that was right; is that a reason why we should not rectify it now if we consider it wrong?
Senator Byrne believes that there is further evidence to indicate that an injustice has been done, he has every right to stand in his place and say that an injustice has been done and to convince the Senate, as constituted today, that an injustice has been done. I listened carefully to Senator Byrne for more than an hour and I did not hear any indication that an injustice has been done to these 2 men.
– We cannot help it if you cannot understand.
– I have not had the legal training of Senator Gair or his colleagues, but I listened carefully to Senator Byrne, and nothing he said convinces me that an injustice has been done and that I should change the opinion that I held at the time when the Committee made its report. Finally, may I say that many of the matters to which Senator Byrne has referred are presently before the Committee for investigation. I, as Chairman of the Committee, think it is inappropriate that I should go on and say anything further about those matters. The Committee consisted of seven of the most experienced senators in this chamber, including 4 legal men. Surely they would be wary at all times to ensure that no injustice occurred. Therefore, I cannot support the motion moved by Senator Byrne.
– Despite the plethora of legal authorities that we have had tonight from Senator Byrne it would be hard to imagine a more hollow proposition than that which he has put before us. My own view, and it is only my own view, about what transpired in the Senate in May of this year is that the Senate acted with rather excessive pomposity in calling these 2 editors before the Bar of the Senate.
– Who said that?
– This is what I am saying. My view is that the Senate would have sufficiently cared for its own dignity and the preservation of its privileges if it had demanded from the offending editors a letter of apology to be sent to the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse in Australia. Having said that, I would like to say further that there was clearly a breach of privilege by the newspaper men in question.
– We agree with the honourable senator.
– Please allow me to develop my argument. The honourable senator took an hour to develop his. It is my view that there was clearly a breach of privilege; that the Senate was entitled to deal with the matter; that the offending journalists were dealt with fairly; and that there was no miscarriage of justice. But let us examine, first of all. the elaborate legal argument which has been put to us tonight at such inordinate length by Senator Byrne. One would have thought that before embarking on a line of argument which suggested that there was almost nothing to distinguish a legislative chamber from a court of law the honourable senator would have had a look at the Australian Constitution. If he had done so he would have found that section 71 reads as follows:
The judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Supreme Court, to be called the High Court of Australia, and in such other federal courts as the Parliament creates, and in such other courts as it invests with federal jurisdiction.
One would have thought also that Senator Byrne would have glanced at a couple of other sections, namely, section 49 and section 50. For his enlightenment and the enlightenment of those enthusiastic lawyers by whom he is surrounded tonight I would like to read section 49 and section 50 of the Constitution. Section 49 reads as follows:
The powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of the members and the committees of each House, shall be such as are declared by the Parliament, and until declared shall be those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom, and of its members and committees, at the establishment of the Commonwealth.
Section 50 reads as follows:
Each House of the Parliament may make rules and orders with respect to - (i.) The mode in which its powers, privileges, and immunities may be exercised and upheld; (ii.) The order and conduct of its business and proceedings either separately or jointly with the other House.
Senator Byrne, as a lawyer, should know that the common law doctrine of natural justice must cede to express provisions in a statute, even if the Parliament were to be regarded as a court. What did be suggest should have happened when those 2 men were called before the Bar of the Senate? He said they should have been called upon to show reason why they should not be dealt with. What was going to happen? They were going to come in here, presumably, and the President was to sit in the position of a judge. I do not think anybody here would quarrel with the proposition that the President has the dignity to act as a judge, but I do not think that even he would consider that he has the legal qualifications. And who was to be the prosecutor? Was each one of us to be allowed to cross-examine these journalists as they stood here? What would have been the rules of procedure governing these proceedings? It is only necessary to mention these things, Mr President, to point out the hopeless confusion into which Senator Byrne has fallen in an attempt to equate this Parliament with a court of law. When dealings with these journalists this Parliament was not acting as a court of law; it was acting as a legislative body in defence of its privileges in accordance with the powers conferred on it by the Constitution.
Now it may be argued that this Parliament has not with sufficient precision defined the powers, privileges and immunities which it exercises under this section of the Constitution. I suggest that it has been accepted by the Parliament, largely in the light of what happened here in this particular case, that we need to do a lot more work to spell out just what those powers, privileges and immunities are. but there is no doubt that that section and the other section confer upon this Parliament absolute jurisdiction to decide the way in which it will conduct its affairs. It is not bound strictly by any laws of natural justice.
– It can only bind itself.
– It can only bind itself: that is a fact. I thank the lawyer behind me for that contribution. The fact is as I have said, that the Senate is not bound by any laws of natural justice. I would hope though - and I believe - that it has acted according to the laws of natural justice and I would hope that when the Privileges Committee gets down to an examination of its procedures it would spell out all sorts of protection for witnesses who are called before committees and for people in the position of the journalists who were called here on that day. But what sort of an injustice was done to those men? If we overlook the pettifogging, hair splitting approach which Senator Byrne has adopted in neglect of the Constitution and in a confused equation of a court of law with the Parliament of the land, let us have a look at what was done to these men. There is no need to go into it in detail. It has been elaborated by Senator Drake-Brockman. But very briefly what was done was that the men were called before the Committee. They were told that they could be legally represented. One of them in fact was legally represented. They were given every opportunity to say their piece. The publishers of their papers were written to and asked if they had any further submissions to make and they replied that they did not. It was only after all of these steps were taken that the journalists were called before the Bar of the House and dealt with in a most lenient way.
In case Senator Gair thinks that they have suffered any gross personality damage or that their futures have been put in jeopardy by the way they have been dealt with, I can assure him that when the procedures were finished I accompanied one of the journalists, Mr Richard Walsh, who happens to be a long term personal friend of mine, to the refreshment room in this building and had a cup of coffee with him. Far from being bruised and far from feeling that he had been badly done by he commended the Senate for its dignified and very lenient way of dealing with him. I can assure Senator Byrne that Mr Walsh is not going to carry any mark, any trauma on his personality for the rest of his days because of what happened to him. And of course it is worth remembering, despite the mea culpas we heard from Senator Byrne tonight, that he did not raise his voice at the time against what was being done to the journalists. In fact the only voice that was raised as these men were leaving the chamber was that of the eloquent Senator Gair whose contributions tonight have been the usual neanderthal grunts that we get from him when his slumbers are disturbed. But what did Senator Gair say? As reported in the Press at the time he remarked as the men were leaving the chamber ‘Flogged with a feather’! Surely we can assume from that comment, if it means anything-
– You are not even correct in that.
– Of course I gave Senator Gair credit for the possibility that it might be meaningless but if it means anything it surely means that he considered the sentence too lenient. But now he comes along here tonight and, as I say, gives his usual grunts of approbation for spokesmen on his side but after listening to Senator Byrne’s tedious, long winded and irrelevant speech I found myself wondering what his motivation should be. Surely it is a very surprising stance for somebody from this coiner to be adopting the posture of a defender of civil liberties. I remember that on the first occasion that I spoke in the Senate against the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill which had been introduced by the Government, a Bill which 1 considered to be unnecessary, irrelevant and unnecessarily harsh, the voices of Senator Byrne, Senator Gair and Senator Little-
– I was not here when you first spoke.
– I correct myself.
– You might find it difficult, but try.
- Senator Gair might disagree with what Senators Little and Byrne said on that occasion.
– I was not here when you spoke.
– No, but your companions, your fellow philosophers, spoke in support of harsher and harsher measures being imposed. But now we hear them tonight, speaking rather longer than would normally be the case because of the adventitious fact that the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, saying the opposite. Obviously their motive is not any sympathy with journalists or anybody who is not getting a fair go; they are, I suspect, grandstanding for the media. This was their opportunity to pose as friends of the journalists, as people who want to see everybody get a fair go. But we on this side of the chamber are not convinced by the pseudo-legal submissions made by Senator Byrne, nor are we taken in by any suggestion that he is motivated by any concern for the civil liberties of the journalist. This motion propounded by Senator Byrne is worthless and should be rejected by the Senate.
– The Senate has heard from Senator Byrne a very learned, erudite and eloquent disquisition on a highly complex subject. It is a complex subject in which the lines are not clearly drawn or the rules clearly known. Much of what we rely on for the determination of what are the privileges of Parliament is shrouded in the mists of history. In those circumstances it is incredible that Senator Byrne has been able to express so finitely what is obviously a matter of great doubt and complexity. He would be aware, as I think the whole of the Parliament is aware, that my predecessor was charged by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the Government to present in due course a paper on the workings of parliamentary committees and the whole question of parliamentary privilege. That is a role which has now devolved upon me. It was a charge which was given because of the need for these areas to be clarified. There is much which has to be done in order clearly to set out not only what are at present but also what ought to be in the latter part of the 20th century the privileges of members of Parliament.
Senator Byrne’s case proceeded on certain assumptions which were fundamental to the conclusions at which he arrived, but I think an examination would disclose that those assumptions were neither appropriate nor able to be established. I remind the Senate very briefly that the facts in this issue are incontrovertible. I could not imagine any person who looked at them dispassionately or objectively coming to any other conclusion. The first is that there was a premature publication of the report of a Senate select committee. It is equally incontrovertible that the premature publication of a Senate select committee’s report is, on the basis of one of the privileges that have been established through the ages, a breach of the privileges of this Senate. It is equally clear that no answer was able to be given by the persons who published these newspapers as to why they had committed this breach of privilege. They pleaded ignorance and indicated that they regretted, if it was a breach of privilege, what they had done. The publishers of the newspaper, given the opportunity to appear before the Committee of Privileges, did not appear.
I submit to the Senate that the decision that the Senate arrived at and the decision which the Senate Committee of Privileges arrived at were arrived at fairly and in all senses properly, and above all else without injustice to the persons who came before the Senate. I suggest to the Senate that there are 3 grounds upon which this may be looked at. First, they were dealt with fairly in the light of the law and legal considerations upon which Senator Byrne has placed so much stress. Secondly, they were dealt with fairly having regard to the traditions of Parliament and the experience of the House of Commons in the way in which it deals with persons who are guilty of breaches of privileges. Thirdly, they were dealt with fairly in the light of the facts and what was appropriate in all the circumstances.
Let me deal firstly with the aspect of the law. I do not want to spend time on this because 1 feel that, flattering as it is to all of us to be addressed as Senator Byrne so courteously did address us as judges to whom learned arguments and extracts from law reports may be tendered, as senators we are not lawyers. We ought to have respect for the law and observe the canons which are embodied in it, but essentially we are not lawyers addressing legal arguments one to another. Senator James McClelland indicated the provisions of the Constitution under which the Parliament has certain privileges. He also indicated that Senator Byrne’s proposition that this chamber was obliged to act judicially or was in some way a judicial chamber, was not to be sustained. Nor it is, because no higher authority than the High Court of Australia has expressly said so, and has said so in a privileges case involving the House of Representatives. I refer to the case of the Queen v. Fitzpatrick.
This matter went to the High Court after the decision of the House of Representatives in 1955 when Messrs Browne and Fitzpatrick had been found guilty of a breach of privileges and had been committed to prison. The argument had been addressed to the High Court that there was a judicial character in the decision of the
House “of Representatives. Certainly there was in the imposition of a term of imprisonment, which was inconsistent with the Constitution of Australia which embodied the judicial power in the High Court and the courts which the Parliament created. The High Court said:
The consideration we have already mentioned is of necessity an answer to this contention, namely, that in unequivocal terms the powers of the House of Commons have been bestowed upon the House of Representatives.
Because of the provisions of the Constitution the powers of the House of Commons vested in the House of Representatives are also vested in this Senate. The decision of the High Court continued:
It should be added to that very simple statement that throughout the- course of English history there has been a tendency to regard those powers as . not strictly judicial but as belonging to the legislature, rather as something essential or, at any rate, proper for its protection. This is not the occasion to discuss the historical grounds upon which these powers and privileges attached to the House of Commons. It is sufficient to say that they were regarded by many authorities as proper incidents of the legislative function, notwithstanding the fact that considered more theoretically - perhaps one might even say, scientificallythey belong to the judicial sphere. But our decision is based upon the ground that a general view of the Constitution and the separation of powers is not a sufficient reason for giving to those words, which appear to us to be so clear, a restrictive or secondary meaning which they do not properly bear.
In short, the Senate is an arm of the legislature. It is not a judicial body exercising judicial power. I think it is clear, if one considers the matter, that the judicial power and the obligation to act judicially are vested essentially in the courts of this land and not in the legislature. But the important point which should never be forgotten is that in anything which a parliament does, whether it is in the exercise of a jurisdiction to assert its privileges or whether it is in any other way which affects the rights of individuals, the Senate has an obligation to act fairly. This concept of acting fairly should not be underestimated.
I have here one of the reports of the Court of Appeal in England - I will not refer to it in detail - of a case which was decided only this year. It said that investigators who investigate company matters have an obligation to act fairly. As investigators they were not exercising a judicial power. They were not, to use strict language, bound by the rules of natural justice but they were under an obligation to act fairly. When one examines tribunals which are not exercising judicial powers one should postulate that above all they should have regard to their responsibilities, to the rights of individuals and act fairly by everybody. I would have thought that that was the obligation of the Senate on this occasion. We are not here tonight to rebut, detail by detail, clause by clause, law report by law report, the various matters which Senator Byrne has raised.
They are matters which might appropriately be addressed to a court of law. But, with all respect to him, I feel that in the circumstances I have endeavoured to outline they are not appropriate to be addressed to the Senate. Let me say this in rebuttal of this aspect: Even if all the points which Senator Byrne raised were to be sustained and established, does that inevitably mean that one must set aside a decision which has been arrived at, and which has been arrived at fairly and on a basis at which no-one really cavils? Is it right to say that just because there has been some error, assuming all Senator Byrne’s points, a great injustice has been wrought on people who were quite clearly, I think, guilty of the offence of which the Senate found them guilty?
That is not the way in which the courts act. I refer honourable senators to a provision in the Victorian Crimes Act. I have the belief, although I have not had the opportunity to check it, that a comparable provision is to be found in the Crimes Acts or similar Acts of the other States. The provision states that, on an appeal to a court from the decision in a trial at which the accused person has been found guilty, the appellant may appeal to the court to set aside his conviction on the ground of a wrong decision on any question of law or on any other ground that there was a miscarriage of justice. The court is told that if it finds that there was such an error it shall uphold the appeal. But then there is a proviso which has the merit of common sense and which has been applied over the years properly and sensibly. It is in these words:
Provided that the Full Court may, notwithstanding that it is of opinion that the point raised in the appeal might be decided in favour of the appellant, dismiss the appeal if it considers that no substantial miscarriage of justice has actually occurred. 1 would have thought that, whatever might be the views which lawyers hold in a very technical sense about the matters Senator Byrne has raised - and I for one do not share them in this context - if there was no injustice in the result that was arrived at it would not lead to the conclusion to which Senator Byrne asks the Senate to come, namely, that the decision should be rescinded-
I suggest that the next ground is that if one examines what has been the practice of the mother of parliaments over the years one finds that the proceedings which have been followed here are not inconsistent with that practice. If one looks at the seventeenth edition of ‘Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice’, which is the acknowledged authority on the proceedings of Parliament, at pages 141 and 142, one finds set out what is the usual procedure of the House of Commons when a breach of privilege has been adjudged. I shall read just one excerpt which is not inconsistent with what appears in those pages. The authority states:
Sometimes the House on taking the report into consideration orders the person incriminated to attend the House in order to hear anything he may have to offer in extenuation or palliation of his offence, or in mitigation of punishment before it decides whether or not it will confirm the decision of the committee.
Sometimes it does call the offender before it. If one looks at page 103 of the same volume one finds this statement:
In the Commons, when a person who is not a Member is directed to be reprimanded or admonished, the offender, if he is in attendance, is brought to the bar of the House forthwith by the Serjeant at Arms, and is there reprimanded by the Speaker in the name and by the authority of the House. The offender is then discharged.
I refer, to give a specific example, to the case of Mr Sandham, who committed a breach of privilege. I read the following from the Hansard report of the proceedings of the House of Commons on 31st July 1930:
Resolved, that this House’ doth agree with the Report of the Committee of Privileges. - (Mr Attorney-General.)
A Motion was made, and the’ Question being put, That Mr Sandham has committed a breach of the Privileges of this House by his speech reported in the Manchester Guardian newspaper of the 28th July 1930 and that he be admonished by Mr Speaker for the breach of Privilege that he has committed.
Then it sets out that the House divided and that the motion was carried. The Hansard report continues:
Mr Speaker then called upon Mr Sandham by name and, Mr Sandham standing up in his place uncovered, Mr Speaker sitting in the Chair covered, spoke to the effect following:
The Speaker then admonished, in, 1 might say, far more forceful language than the President of the Senate used in admonishing Mr Walsh and Mr Rothwell, Mr Sandham for the breach of privilege he had committed. That is, I suggest to the Senate, a procedure which is almost on all fours with the procedure which the Senate adopted in the case of Mr Walsh and Mr Rothwell. I do not think it is sustained, if one examines the pattern and record of the House of Commons, whose privileges as they were in 1900 are the privileges of this Senate, that we have contravened what should be the standards of propriety which a Senate, exercising its power to assert its privileges, should observe.
The last point I make is that when one considers the facts - 1 have recited what I regard as the essential facts - one must conclude that the Senate has not acted unfairly. I have said that the facts were incontrovertible. They were clearly established, and I believe that justice was done and was fairly done. There was a breach of privilege because there was a premature publication of the report of a Senate select committee. It was a situation in which the maintenance of the dignity of the report and the assertions of the privileges of this chamber required some penalty to be imposed. I believe that the recommendation the Committee made to the Senate on the course which the Senate should follow was an adequate and proper recommendation. It was indicated that the Senate had the power, in the enforcement of its privileges, to commit to prison, to fine, to reprimand or otherwise to withdraw facilities held by courtesy of the Senate in and. around its precincts. What did the Committee of Privileges recommend? It recommended:
That, having regard to the nature of the breaches of privilege in this case, and the circumstances in which they occurred, Mr J. R. Walsh and Mr H. B. Rothwell be required to attend before the Senate … to be reprimanded
The Senate Committee further reported:
That it considers that any such breach should, in the future, save in exceptional circumstances, be met by a much heavier penalty, such as a substantial fine, but, as this is the first such breach to come to the attention of the Senate, the Committee considers that the situation would be adequately met by severe reprimand.
The Committee recommended that the Senate take a course which really was the imposition of the minimum penalty which could be- exacted but indicated at the same time that it was not taking a light view of what had happened and that in future such a matter would be treated much more severely. In those circumstances, taking what 1 think was a proper, fair and broad view, the Senate has tempered justice with mercy. The attempt to suggest that there has been in some way an error in proceedings, I believe of some slight character, is no warrant for doing something which, if it were to be carried as Senator Byrne has suggested, would not redound to the credit of this Senate. I believe that the Senate had to impose a penalty. It imposed it fairly, with justice and with propriety, and it was a proper decision for this Senate to come to.
– I intend to be very brief. Because I was one of the members of the Committee of Privileges I wish to speak to this matter. On that Committee were 3 legal men, including the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), 2 QCs, a lawyer, some other people and myself. Senator Byrne suggested tonight that we have erred.
– I did not say that the Committee had erred. That was not my case at all.
– To me, Senator Byrne suggested very clearly that the Senate had erred. For 65 minutes I listened to him and I came to that conclusion.
– You said that I said that the Committee had erred. I did not say that the Committee had erred. You said that there were so many distinguished members on the Committee and that I said they erred.
– The point I am making is that for 65 minutes I listened to Senator Byrne tonight, and he made the point that this Senate had erred. If that is not his case, I do not know what we are arguing about. If he does not contend that we have erred, why are we discussing this matter? Senator Byrne suggested that when the Senate handed out this very mild punishment, as Senator Greenwood so aptly described it - the least we could have done to these people was to admonish them - it erred. He said that we erred because we did not call on them to show reason why the very mild admonition should not be made. I understand that that is the case he put before us. The honourable senator said that he does not challenge what the Committee has done, but let us have a look at what happened when the report was furnished by the Chairman of the Committee which had been offended, namely, the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. This matter was referred by the Senate, the senior body, to a committee to deal with the situation and to make a recommendation to the Senate.
There is no doubt that there is no clear law on the way we should proceed. We have to study precedent coming to us from the House of Commons, the Mother of Parliaments, but not solely from there. We had the sword of Damocles hanging over our head because of what had happened in the Browne and Fitzpatrick case and the criticisms that had arisen from it. Because of those criticisms we were not doubly careful but trebly careful about what we did. I was tremendously impressed by the way honourable senators applied themselves and when we had finally cleared our minds on every possible point - Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator James McClelland and Senator Greenwood have pointed out how these men were allowed counsel, and the rest of it - after we had come to the final decision we said: ‘Let us examine the position. Let us go back and in the name of conscience have another complete discussion on whether at all stages we have given these people natural justice.’ That is what we did. We were worried about the question of natural justice.
We went back to the very beginning and examined all that we had done up to that point. Where is the practical approach to this matter? It has already been mentioned that at this stage, after a careful examination, after taking into consideration all the peculiarities of the case and the fact that the committee system was new and it was a very clear case of a breach, because of the novelty of the situation we decided upon a very mild punishment. Mr President, Senator Byrne suggests that the parties concerned should have been brought here and that your predecessor should have said to them: ‘Now show cause before 60 people why you should not receive this punishment’. That may have taken even longer than Senator Byrne took for his speech tonight, although that would be hard to imagine. We are all equal here, and T. assume that each honourable senator would have an opportunity to clear his mind by whatever way he thought fit. I imagine that questioning would be the method adopted in an attempt to decide whether the punishment fitted the crime. What a situation that would be. The Senate would be turned into a laughing stock.
– That is why we employ committees.
- Senator Wright is a lawyer. As he points out, that is precisely why we employ committees and attempt to clear this sort of debris out of the way. Obviously it is not suitable for a big body of people to handle a situation such as this. Senator Byrne’s next point was that he did not want a retrial of these people. There are new members of the Senate. There are people here who are not aware of what happened and therefore, he said, he did not want to retry the 2 persons concerned. He said, in effect: ‘Do not hear them again. Just let us squash the whole situation.’
– Oh, senator.
- Senator Byrne said that he did not want a retrial of these people. He said that he did not want to send the matter back to the Committee without any evidence at all, with new people here who know nothing about it. He said: ‘Just let us squash the whole situation’. There were admitted facts in this case. There was no argument about the facts. There was no dichotomy of thinking at all. It was unanimously accepted by the Senate. Senator Byrne comes here months later and for some unknown reason which I cannot fathom suddenly says: ‘No retrial. Just squash the whole think and forget all about it.’ No complaint has been lodged with the President by the 2 individuals concerned.
We have heard from Senator James McClelland who is a friend of one of those individuals. He told Senator McClelland that he was completely satisfied with what happened. He was tremendously candid in the assistance that he gave us. My withers remain completely unwrung in this situation. I have nothing to worry about regarding the way in which the Committee approached its task and 1 have no worries about the way in which the Senate faced up to its task. The Senate decided unanimously on this course of action and this matter has come before the Senate tonight as a complete afterthought. What has motivated Senator Byrne is completely beyond me. This matter should never have been revived in this form. Senator Byrne knows perfectly well that this House and the House of Representatives at the moment are engaged in examining the whole of the situation and doing, as Senator James McClelland pointed out, what those who framed the Constitution thought that the Parliament would do in 1900 - that is, make its own laws and adopt from the British- House of Commons the methods by which the Australian Parliament should protect not only itself but also those people who come before it to assist it in the administration of justice or to have penalties dealt out to them if they offend against the important body of Parliament. Senator Byrne knows perfectly well that those 2 bodies are examining this matter now. If he has any worries on this matter, he is most welcome to appear as a witness. The Senate Committee is in the course of clearing its mind a little further on the matter. It then will invite people in the Australian community, with special invitations to law societies, universities, the Press and those who can be affected by our privileges, to appear as witnesses. Senator Byrne is most welcome to come before either of these bodies to present any evidence that he wishes to submit. Frankly, in passing, I hope that these 2 bodies will be amalgamated so that one body will consider the privileges and responsibilities of members of Parliament and those people who have contact with Parliament in this regard. I suggest that this matter should never have been raised in this place in the way that it has been raised. Certainly, the Senate should not reverse the very mild admonition - justice
Privilege 441 was tempered with mercy in this case - that was handed out to these 2 gentlemen.
– I do not enter this debate as a lawyer because I am not one, but as one who has some respect for natural justice, particularly as it applies to the rights of honourable senators to bring before the Senate matters that they consider to be in the interests of the Senate and the citizens of this country. It is because of the course which the debate has taken that 1 have decided to enter it. I wish to explain, first, the circumstances in which this matter has come before the Senate.
The imputation has been made that we, as members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and as Senator Byrne’s political colleagues, were in some way biased in favour of the case which has been presented tonight by Senator Byrne. This is not true because, while Senator Byrne did advise us that he proposed to bring this matter before the Senate, he in no way attempted to convince us of the rights or wrongs of this case. We did not hear it fully explained until we sat here and listened to him tonight. I was not sure whether or not he had a case but I thought that if any senator felt the way he did about the manner in which this Senate - not the Privileges Committee - had acted in the circumstances in imposing sentences upon these men, in spite of what Senator Willesee says to the effect that it should not have come before the Senate, I believe most strongly this matter should have been brought before the Senate again. Whether Senator Byrne is right or wrong, it most certainly should have come before the Senate at this time if we accept the case presented by Senator Willesee that we are endeavouring to establish our own rules of law and to give to the public at least a knowledge of the privileges that this Parliament has to protect itself under its laws.
As I see and have always seen the role of this Parliament, we have the same rights perhaps as the Crown has to be above the courts of this country. But the fact that we have these rights, does not give us the power to ignore the ordinary concepts of natural justice and the forms of natural justice which have been found by the courts of England and Australia over the ages to be necessary to carry out natural justice. In this way, we do not allow the 26 August 1971 courts to become arrogant as indeed they were when many of our ancestors were sent to this country following trials in courts that did not know the law. If we want to establish the right of this Parliament to express its own rule of law for the examination of members of the public by its committees, surely we do not want to make all the mistakes which were made by the courts of law in England as it developed the principles of justice that apply in the administration of law today.
Several honourable senators spoke tonight about the evidence given before the Privileges Committee. Any senator who had reason to believe that he as well as other honourable senators had erred, not when the evidence was presented to the Committee but when this Senate actually established the guilt of these people after the hearing of evidence at a secret trial and established their guilt at their first appearance before the public when, for the first time, they had the opportunity publicly to say anything in their own defence, was justified in bringing this matter before this chamber tonight. I want to say something to Senator James McClelland before he leaves the chamber. He suggested that there was an ulterior motive on the part of Senator Byrne in bringing this matter before the Senate tonight.
– Obviously there was.
– Senator James McClelland knows that this matter was listed to be dealt with tonight at 8 p.m. when all of us thought that the proceedings in the other chamber would be broadcast. I think Senator James McClelland should apologise. He is a legal man and must realise that this is an established case of a miscarriage of justice. He accused Senator Byrne of bringing this matter before the Senate tonight so that the proceedings could be heard on the radio. Neither he nor anyone else knew when the decision was made to discuss this matter tonight that the Senate proceedings would be broadcast.
– He did it to have the matter reported in the Press.
– Now the honourable senator is changing his ground. He is a lawyer and is changing his ground rather than apologise. I am glad that he is the lawyer and I am not. The honourable senator made an unfounded charge when he said that Senator Byrne brought the matter up for the purpose of gaining cheap publicity over the radio. He knows that the Senate proceedings would not have been broadcast. I always believed that the honourable senator was a good lawyer. He was when he represented trade unionist friends of mine in the courts of this country. 1 thought he would be man enough to apologise to the honourable senator to whom he directed the aspersions.
– 1 do not apologise. I said he extended his speech because we were on the air.
– That is a matter for the honourable senator. I want to revert to some of the other things he said as a lawyer. Senator Byrne never suggested that there had been a miscarriage of justice. He said that in his view the Senate had made a mistake in not giving to the accused the right to be heard publicly before they were sentenced. This case was lengthy, and necessarily so. It was lengthy enough for honourable senators to try to refute the case put up by Senator Byrne but they never mentioned it at all. Honourable senators must have sat here without listening tonight because they dealt with the evidence submitted to the Committee. Certainly Senator Byrne referred to the fact that the Committee had heard evidence and had brought a recommendation before the Senate. In no way did he challenge that. He said that for the information of honourable senators who were not here when the decision was made.
The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) hinged his whole case on this and said there was no suggestion that we were now discussing whether or not the Committee had properly found that there had been a breach of privilege. Senator Byrne spent an hour in giving us a brilliant address during which he tried to concentrate the minds of those of us who are not legally trained on a most intricate legal problem. I congratulate him on being able to convince at least one mind that is not legally trained that at least there is a case for the Senate to answer. Judging by the way the debate has developed, some of Senator Byrne’s greatest fears have been answered but not all of them if the Senate is to establish the right to do what it ought to do in similar cases which may have far more serious consequences for the victims of the sentences, however deservedly the sentences in this present case may have been passed.
Can we possibly justify the procedure that we adopted in this case? Senator Byrne never questioned that we had a legal right to adopt it, as we are our own masters. But does that give us the right to dispense with the forms that the courts have found over the years to be so necessary or should that not make us more sensitive to the proposition that these forms are the very forms that we must be very careful not to discard because, like the Crown, the Senate has the capacity to discard them. I think this is the crux and the value of the argument that Senator Byrne brought before the Senate tonight. The Attorney-General presented what I believe was the only case that would give one to doubt whether we should reverse the decision that we previously made. That argument was based largely on the lack of severity of the sentence. Whether or not we are lawyers, when the Senate has to behave in the manner in which it did to protect its privileges each one of us, whether he likes it or not, becomes a lawyer and a judge. We have no choice at all. I ask honourable senators: Would they as judges sit here and submit to a proposition that some person be sentenced to a long period of imprisonment for a very serious breach of the rights and privileges of this Parliament if the only public defence that such a person was allowed was to stand silent while he was sentenced? f do not think we would. I do not think that implicit in the arguments of even Senator Greenwood or in his quotation of the procedures of the British House of Commons is a suggestion that that was a right procedure. It does not strike me as an ordinary citizen who is legally untrained that it would be a right procedure. I know that such procedures are applied in some countries that have a different concept of justice and a different concept of human rights from those that we have. In those countries a person is subject to a secret trial about which the only information submitted to the public is the fact that the person has been found guilty by the tribunal which has imposed a penalty for the alleged crime. Natural justice demands at least that before a sentence is passed a person found guilty should be given the right to speak at the eleventh hour in his own defence.
I am grateful to Senator DrakeBrockman who brought 1 fact to the attention of the Senate which helped to convince me. He said that these 2 men had the right to counsel when they appeared before the Privileges Committee. But they were not found guilty by the Committee. The Committee merely made a recommendation to this Senate, and this Senate confirmed the guilt and passed sentence. When that was taking place, these men did not have the right or the privilege of being represented by counsel, or even of raising their voices to say that there were mitigating circumstances as a result of which the severity of the sentence should be reduced. They could not even have pleaded on the ground of human compassion if the sentence might have been 5 or 10 years in gaol. Senator Willesee made a contribution when he said that we are trying to establish our own rules and not to follow slavishly the practices of the British House of Commons. Even the British House of Commons has substantiated the case that Senator Byrne has advanced tonight. Senator Greenwood read out the British practice which indicates that sometimes the House of Commons calls people before the chamber and gives them an opportunity to speak before sentence. From his brief reference to what occurred in the House of Commons, it appeared to me that the severity of the sentence itself might have had something to do with the Commons practice on that occasion.
But is not the Senate charged with the responsibility to ensure that every precautionary measure be taken? This is the first time that the Senate has used this procedure. We have set a precedent. If the debate tonight has served no other valuable purpose, at least it has served the purpose of bringing out the fact that the AttorneyGeneral feels that, because of the lack of severity of the sentence, these people were treated fairly. Perhaps there is some logic in that contention. We have set a precedent for all time. “Is it not natural that a brilliant trained lawyer, as Senator Byrne is, should have his doubts that, having set the precedent which we set on this occasion, we might adopt the same practice on an occasion when the offence is a far more serious one and when the sentence may be vastly different to the one which Senator Byrne referred to as ‘being flogged with a feather’?
– You are just not right.
– For all those reasons, Senator Poke, I believe that those who have disagreed with Senator Byrne and who have complained about the time that has been consumed by this debate have not done proper justice to the dignity of the Senate. However mild in the circumstances the ultimate sentence may have been, we were all concerned at what we considered to be the tremendous potential in the breach of privilege that took place and the serious necessity for the Senate to protect its rights and its privileges. It is not a matter of the individuals or of how they felt about the sentence that was imposed. Senator James McClelland said that when he had coffee with one of the sentenced persons he learned that they had no resentment. I take issue with the honourable senator on that. I do not think it should bother the Senate whether they had or had not resentment. That is not the purpose of this exercise. Whether or not they resented what happened, I imagine that they would have had access to trained legal advice. One of the papers protested about this point. I quote from the ‘Sunday Australian’ of 16th May. An article in that paper adverted to the circumstances. Referring to the editior of that paper, the article states:
In company with the editor of another newspaper he was found guilty of a breach of parliamentary privilege. He was summoned by telegram to appear before the Senate on Friday, where he was severely reprimanded. He was given no opportunity to speak publicly in his own defence.
We still think that at that time we could well have acted in accordance with the forms that are established by the courts, when we were acting rightly as a judicial body. That is not questioned by Senator Byrne. We did not act in accordance with those forms. Whatever suggestions have been put by Senator Byrne as to the consequences of our omitting to adopt those forms, at least all honourable senators should be congratulating him for giving us an opportunity to review the circumstances, whatever our decision now may be; and not only to review the circumstances, but to realise the potency of the power that we have. We should not fail to take every precautionary measure to protect the natural justice that should be afforded to citizens who may at any time offend and who may have to appear before us, as a judicial tribunal, when we may be called upon rightly to impose sentences upon those people to protect the rights of the Senate. A future sentence might be far more severe than the one on this occasion.
Whatever forms we ultimately set up, let us ensure that those forms cover not only the minor offences for which sentences may be light but also that they are adequate, and not only in our eyes. We will act as the jurors and as the judges as well, as we must do. This, therefore, gives us much higher responsibility to ensure that our forms shall not be lesser than those of the courts but instead will be even more powerful in protecting the natural justice and the rights of somebody who even wishes to plead, when guilty, for the mercy of those who are about to sentence him.
– I have listened to every word of this debate tonight and I am not able to bring myself to entertain one vestige of doubt as to the propriety of the proceedings of the Senate on the occasion to which reference has been made. I rise only because I think it is a tribute to the Senate’s sense of justice that it has listened to everything that has been said on behalf of the mover of this motion with an appropriate patience and quiet of attention.
The first thing I want to say is that it is important to this Senate that it establishes its right to prevent unauthorised publication of its committees’ reports at the threshhold of a very opportuneful period of employment of Senate committees. Secondly, the Senate, on this occasion when its notice was called to what appeared to be a breach of the rule, appointed a committee of the highest experience and unchallengeable qualification. The Chairman of the Privileges Committee was Senator the Honourable Tom DrakeBrockman, D.F.C. The Committee consisted of Senator Branson; Senator the Honourable Ivor Greenwood, Q.C., now the Attorney-General; Senator Murphy, Q.C., the Leader of the Opposition; Senator Justin O’Byrne, the senator with the longest period in the Senate: my colleague from Tasmania, Senator Peter Rae, whose acquaintance with the law has been demonstrated by his efforts on the Securities and Exchange Committee over the past few months; and Senator Willesee, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and who has been an industrial advocate and a member of this Senate since 1949. Thirdly, both editors appeared in person before the Privileges Committee, one of them accompanied by his own legal counsel. They both admitted the facts of publication, explained that they were not conscious that it was an offence and expressed their regret.
The question whether they had an opportunity to offer excuse was not passed by through inadvertence. I can affirm confidently that questions were asked deliberately of members of the Committee on whether they were satisfied that these men had every opportunity to advance any excuse that they might wish to advance before the Committee. Men of the experience that I have referred to as members of the Committee, with the legal experience of judicial procedures that I have referred to, were satisfied that the editors, having admitted their offences, knew that they were then to be dealt with by the Committee.
The Committee simply recommended. The Senate adjudged when we assembled here and resolved to call them before the Bar of the Senate and administer a reprimand. That was after they had been apprised of the proceedings by personal attendance. They had notice through ordinary publications and channels and they had almost a day after receiving the telegram. One of them had taken legal advice, ls it any wonder that when questions of miscarriage of justice are canvassed Senator Little says that that is not Senator Byrne’s proposition and that the claim is that the Senate has made a mistake. It is completely indisputable, in my submission - having some claim to be able to evaluate evidence and having some claim to have had a 40-year experience of legal procedure - that the case that, has been advanced raises not one vestige of doubt in favour of the proposition that the resolution of the Senate on the occasion referred to should be altered, qualified or rescinded. I only wish to say that the Senate will do itself great credit if, having listened to everything that has been said and anything Senator Byrne may say in reply, it registers its own decision and either affirms or alters the decision that has been impugned. If the Senate affirms that decision, as I hope it will, I believe that that will be a satisfaction to everybody who took part in the proceedings in May, because 1 for my part would not relish the situation if it were thought by any considerable number of honourable senators that we had lacked a sense of natural justice and had not been scrupulous to observe every precaution which would ensure a proper and just adjudgment of the situation so far as the editors were concerned.
– in reply - I take it that in rising at this time I will be closing the debate, and I propose to do that very briefly. First of all, I express my indebtedness to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in particular for his erudite and calm investigation of the propositions which I considered it my duty to put forward and for his presentation of the relevant authorities. The Attorney-General has brought to the consideration of this matter that calm, professional approach which is really the type of approach that should have occupied the Senate during this debate.
It is strange that the main allegation that was made by me initially has not been adverted to at all by many speakers. I made no challenge to the deliberations of the Privileges Committee or to its findings. I expressly said that the conviction as recorded by the Committee should stand, and at no stage did I challenge it. For Senator Willesee or anybody else to claim that I challenged in any way the conduct or findings of the Privileges Committee is a complete misapprehension and is certainly a mis-statement of my position. My complaint was about the conduct of the Senate; that after the Senate had adopted the finding of fact of the Committee and recorded the conviction, if I can use that term, and before sentence it did not give these 2 gentlemen the opportunity to be heard. I still say that the authorities I presented are authorities that must be compelling to this chamber. Any attempt to say that we are not a judicial body and therefore we are not bound by judicial procedures is only a partial statement of the truth. Of course, we are not a judicial body; but we purported to act judicially. In those circumstances, we were under an obligation to have regard for judicial procedures, and it is in our departure from the observance of those procedures that, in my submission, a violation of natural justice has occurred. I regret that the proposition that I put forward has not been met squarely and face on by the honourable senators who have participated in this debate.
However, I am concerned about 2 things. 1 am concerned about the type of speech made by Senator James McClelland and Senator Willesee from the Opposition. This matter was raised in a completely non-political atmosphere and in a nonpersonal way. It was raised purely as a professional approach to a matter of great moment to the Senate. This was the atmosphere and the context in which I presented my arguments. But unfortunately those 2 honourable senators did not see fit to conduct themselves in this debate and discuss the matter in the same atmosphere as the one in which I projected my propositions. Senator Willesee suggested that 1 had raised these proceedings as a belated afterthought, although I had expressly stated in my speech that 4 days after this matter was raised 1 voiced my concern about the procedures in this place. I mentioned that in the course of my speech and I quoted from Hansard what I said on that occasion. Therefore, any suggestion that this was an afterthought is completely wrong and totally improper. But the Senate rose the day after I had sopken - again as I said in the course of my speech. In the meantime I examined such authorities as I was able to command and on the first day the Senate resumed 1 put my motion down. Any suggestion that this was in any sense or to any degree an afterthought is totally inaccurate. It was virtually an immediate response of concern which was carried into operation and execution at the first parliamentary opportunity.
I now want to say something about the speech of Senator James McClelland. For the first time since I have been in this place my motives in raising a proposition have been impunged by an honourable senator. I do not welcome such an imputation. No other honourable senator in the years that I have been here has seen fit to do that. However, in some way Senator James McClelland suggested that I had brought on this matter purely because I was grandstanding. I said in my speech that 1 do not know the gentlemen concerned and I do not know their newspapers. In fact, I have hardly seen the gentlemen. I think I saw them casually on the day that they appeared at the Bar. That is all. To suggest that I was inspired by motives other than a proper regard for the dignity of this place and the rights of these citizens is to impute to me the type of motive that I hope never does inspire me and has never been suggested does inspire my conduct. For that reason I resent very strongly and very bitterly the suggestion made by Senator James McClelland. At all times my conduct has been dictated by a regard for or perhaps a sensitivity for the rights of these 2 people. I feel that my regard and my sensitivity has not been met tonight. I think that there was among the members of the Privileges Committee a desire to protect the deliberations of the Committee, unfortunately, rather than to face the issue as to the conduct of this Senate. That is what is in question - not the conduct of the Privileges Committee but the conduct and mode of operation of the Senate. 1 have little more to say. 1 welcome the attention that was given to me in my necessarily long, detailed and somewhat technical presentation of my case. It will be no discredit to the Senate if on a calm consideration of the proposition it should find that there has been a violation of natural justice. That is something of which this Senate should be particularly conscious. If this is done honourable senators will see this as an opportunity to rectify what has taken place; and a process of rectification should be undertaken.
I think that the Senate is all the better for this matter having been discussed and ventilated. I think that honourable senators who have contributed to the debate in that manner and in that spirit have done a great deal for the Senate and will do a great deal for the Senate in the new mode in which it is beginning to operate. It was important, and it remains important, that the Senate and its conduct must be above public reproach and public criticism. That the Senate should have a sensitivity on this matter is extremely important. It is important that the Senate fortify the respect in which it is held whatever decision is made on this matter. The decision itself may not be so material if the decision is made calmly and objectively on the facts. But that the debate should have taken place was of supreme importance and I am indebted to honourable senators who today permitted the suspension of Standing Orders so that this matter could be transferred above other matters on the notice paper and debated tonight. I commend the motion to the support of honourable senators.
That the motion (Senator Byrne’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 37
Question so resolved in the negative.
– On 17th August Senator Wheeldon asked me a question to which I undertook to provide a reply. The honourable senator is not here. I asked him yesterday how he would like his question answered and he replied that he would like it answered in the Senate. The answer is as follows:
On Tuesday, 17th August, Senator Wheeldon asked me a question concerning the visit to Parliament House by the touring South African Rugby football team. It is normal practice during recess periods for organised groups of persons, particularly those from overseas, to visit the Senate chamber. Following a request, arrangements were made for the South African Rugby Union team to be shown the Senate chamber on 20th July 1971.
It is not the practice for visitors to be permitted to take photographs in the Senate chamber. No authority was given for photographs to be taken in the Senate chamber on this occasion and to my knowledge no photographs were taken. Advice has been received from the Clerk of the House of Representatives that the team was escorted into the House of Representatives chamber by officers of the House who described the chamber to them. Whilst in the chamber the visitors were told that photographs were not permitted and no photographs weretaken on that occasion.
– With Senator Dairy’s concurrenceI refer to a matter raised by the honourable senator. He asked me a question relating to the conditions, salaries and hours worked by Parliament House attendants. I undertook to provide the honourable senator with the information which he sought. The answer is as follows: On Tuesday, 24th August 1971, Senator Drury asked me a question concerning attendants’ salaries and their hours of duty. Salary rises for Parliament House attendants were approved during the winter recess and the rises, which average 10.5 per cent, will be paid retrospective to 16th July 1971. Hours of duty worked by attendants are laid down under regulation 8 of the Public Service (Parliamentary Officers) Regulations. These hours were reviewed in 1970. The hours have been set at 42 hours per week in session and 321 hours per week in recess so that attendants working hours will coincide with those of other members of the staff. In total, the hours worked compared favourably with thoseworked in otherdepartments of the Public Service
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 August 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19710826_senate_27_s49/>.