27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
The Honourable The President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department, Central Administration Board’s Policy of re-centralising and concentrating certain staffs, under what is called the Area Management Project, to the great detriment of the economies of the towns and related rural areas, and to the detriment of the overall morale, efficiency and independence of the Australia Post Office is against the public interest and should be made the subject of special investigation by the Senate’s Social Environment Committee and by the Senate’s Finance and Government Operations Standing Committee.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to refer the above matters to the two committees of the Senate referred to, and in the meantime will order that:
There win be no transfers of persons, areas of authority or operations under the Area Management Project; and
No further appointments to positions under Area Managers or above them in the State Administrations or Central Administration of the Australian Post Office until the two committees of the Senate have investigated the matters and reported to the Senate and the Government.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the days and times of meeting of the Senate for the remainder of the present period of sittings be as follows:
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware that officers of the Department of Social Services in Adelaide have been inundated with inquiries following newspaper advertisements advising that the upper income and property limits under the means test have been raised? Is it a fact that the staff of the Department are embarrassed and indignant because they have not been supplied with complete details of the new means test and are unable to give the information required? Will the Minister recommend that all officers of the Department and its agencies and members of Parliament be supplied with the necessary information to assist them in helping people-
– Order! I do not think the honourable senator can ask a Minister representing another Minister a question in the context of new policy. However, I will allow the honourable senator to finish his question.
– I am asking the Minister whether he will recommend that to the Minister for Social Services. He can make up his own mind as to whether he does.
– Order! I will be instructed by myself and not by the honourable senator.
– I will complete the question.
– I have already asked the honourable senator to complete his question.
– Will the Minister recommend that all officers of the Department and its agencies and members of Parliament be supplied with the necessary information to assist them in helping people who have not previously applied for a pension but who now may be eligible under the new provisions to obtain their just entitlements?
– I am not aware of the details on which the honourable senator has based his question. I understand that he has some knowledge of a particular situation in South Australia. I am quite sure that all members of the Parliament would be generally aware of the details because amending legislation to the Social Services Act passed through the Parliament only recently. To that extent we have all been informed of certain changes which have taken place. I will certainly convey to the Minister for Social Services the fact that Senator Donald Cameron has some knowledge of administrative difficulties, with a view to having them rectified. The record of the Minister for Social Services is such that I am quite sure that when this matter is brought to his attention he will act promptly.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In answer to a question I asked him on 26th April about the action to be taken by the Government concerning a proposed wool acquisition scheme the Minister commented that my question was a lot of rubbish. In view of the Prime Minister’s statement of 2nd April regarding Cabinet’s consideration of the Randall Committee’s preliminary report, does the Minister still hold the same opinion? While a Press statement which was released states that no decision has yet been taken, I again ask the Minister whether the Government will guarantee that the details of any recommended scheme will be put up for public discussion before the Federal election or whether the giving of such a guarantee will be refused because of the divisions in the coalition Government about that scheme. If no such guarantee can be given-
– Order! The honourable senator is getting away from the proper form of asking a question.
– If no such guarantee can be given, what opportunity will this chamber have to debate thoroughly the advantages and disadvantages of any scheme before a final decision is taken?
– I do not know whether the honourable senator wants me to say yes to the early part of his question, but I do. He can treat that how he likes.
– The Minister is very helpful, as he has been with lots of other things!
– Can I go on?
– The Minister can please himself.
– In that case I will say that I have nothing further to add to the Prime Minister’s statement.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. I ask: Has the Minister received any reports concerning an increase in the number of cases of child poisoning from anti-depressant drugs? Does he agree with statements which have been made recently that the situation is alarming? Has his Department been able to speed up research into treatment methods relating to this matter? Are any plans in hand for campaigns to promote greater care in homes concerning the accessibility of these drugs to children?
– Mr President, it is proper for me to say that I received an indication from Senator Davidson that he was going to ask me a question in this context and I had some information prepared. All I can say is that I have not received many’ reports of the kind referred to, but that my attention has been drawn to reports in medical literature concerning the increased incidence of the poisoning of children by anti-depressant drugs. The data available from the National Poisons Service for cases of poisoning in 1971 is at present being analysed but initial impressions are that there has been an increase in the number of cases reported for this type of poisoning.
I can assure the honourable senator that I am concerned at the incidence of poisonings of children but this situation is part of a world wide pattern. It is not isolated to Australia. The treatment of this type of poisoning is essentially a clinical matter and I understand research, is being done on this throughout Australia. However, of prime consideration is the prevention of poisons which is essentially a matter for health education. As I recently informed senators in reply to a question by Senator Turnbull, my Department has been giving a great deal of attention to the consideration of safety containers and other forms of packaging drugs such as strip packaging, which would have the effect of making the ingestion of these drags in any quantity, particularly by children, more difficult. In 1970 the Director-General of Health wrote to all approved chemists drawing attention to the fact that there are tablet containers available that cannot readily be opened by any child and that these containers come within the allowance provided by the Commonwealth for reimbursement of container costs in so far as pharmaceutical benefit prescriptions are concerned.
The matter of poison containers was considered by the Poisons Schedule Subcommittee of the National Health and Medical Research Council at a meeting in March this year. The Sub-committee decided to approach the National Council for Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries with the request to propose standards for safety containers and to indicate which drugs could be packed in such containers. I understand that a good deal of attention is being given to the matter of safety packaging by manufacturers.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs give, the Senate any information on the crises which has developed in the Vietnam war? In particular, can he tell us whether the Congress of the United States has declared war or has taken any steps towards declaring war? Can he tell us whether the Australian Government will make a positive response to the call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations that parties to the Vietnam conflict should use the machinery of the United Nations to restore peace?
– I have noted with great interest the call of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. 1 have nothing to suggest concerning the reference to the Congress of the United States. I am not authorised by the Minister whom I represent to make any statement upon these matters of immediacy, and it would be imprudent and inappropriate, for me to express any view on such important matters without the Minister’s explicit instruction. I shall convey the honourable senator’s comments immediately to the Minister and I have no doubt that he, with sense of the Importance of the matters raised, will provide immediately a reply that I will be able to present in the Senate to the honourable senator according to the exigencies of the day.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply: What was the price paid to the Department of Supply for the recent purchase of a surplus DC3 aircraft? To whom was the aircraft sold?
– In the past it has not been the policy of the Department to make available publicly the name of a successful tenderer or the purchase price of an aircraft. However, in recent times the Department has adopted a new policy of making the price and the name of the successful tenderer available to the unsuccessful tenderers. I understand that in this case the Minister is prepared to reveal the price received for the aircraft and the name of the successful tenderer. The successful tenderer was Mr Singh and the price received was $8,555. It is stipulated that the aircraft must be exported within 90 days of the date of sale, which was 14th April 1972.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities. By way of preface I wish to state that on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘A.M.’ this morning it was said that about 120 Australian tourists were stranded in Singapore because the cheap fare ship in which they were booked to return home had been arrested. Will the Commonwealth Government take some action, by extensive publicity or by other means, to warn Australian citizens against unscrupulous travel agencies which are fleecing many hundreds of our citizens by offering false promises of cheap overseas holidays - promises which border on the fraudulent?
– I did not hear this matter referred to on the programme A.M.’ but I did see something briefly in this morning’s Press. It appears to me th.it the ship has been arrested for non-payment of bills amounting to about $183,000, if I remember correctly, for food supplied to the ship, I imagine by Singapore providores. The people on the ship are in the same embarrasing position as the ship’s owners and its master. This occurrence highlights what Senator Poyser said; there are unscrupulous people operating in the travel world, in the fields of both air and sea travel, who are taking people’s money for cheap travel and not complying with the necessary requirement to take them to the proper place and bring them home. I have a concern about the situation. I have always expressed this concern in connection with air travel. As to the matter of sea travel, I will have to refer the question to the responsible Minister. I share The honourable senator’s concern; people ought not be fleeced of their savings when they travel.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Prime Minister’s Department has evaluated a recent House of Commons decision to reject an amendment aimed at strengthening the status of Commonwelth citizens entering Britain as against the status which will be enjoyed by those from the Common Market countries when Britain enters the Common Market establishment?
– The relevant House of Commons procedures are being examined as a result of questions put to me by Senator Mulvihill and which have been directed to the Prime Minister’s Department. I will be repeating what I said before, but I should point out that arrangements made by the British Government for the admission of people to the United Kingdom are matters within the domestic jurisdiction of that Government. That principle has to be understood. However an examination is being made in the light of the questions previously posed by the honourable senator.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the proposals of the Australian Wool Commission for a lot building plan. Is it known what increase in handling costs will be involved in the plan? If there is to be an increase in costs, can the wool grower be guaranteed a commensurate increase in the return on his wool?
– At the present time, one, 2, 3 and 4-bale lots are handled under the price averaging plan. There has been a considerable amount of criticism, both by the trade and by the producers, of this scheme. The Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Commission have presented a plan which is called the lot building plan. They have estimated that this will mean a good deal of saving for producers. A figure has been given, but doubts have been expressed as to whether it is as good as the industry indicates. At the present time I know of no estimate of what the cost will be. I think that is one of the things that the industry is looking into at the present time. If I can obtain a firm figure for the honourable senator I will give it to him.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the new regulations concerning warnings’ on cigarette advertising do not require telvision advertisements actually to have the warning spoken; that it may appear only on the screen in small print, whereas in radio advertisements naturally must be spoken. If this is the position, will he ensure that such television advertisements provide an oral as well as a visual warning?
Two matters are raised here on which I think we should obtain some clarity of thinking. In regard to the labelling of cigarettes packages, certain States have already passed legislation to bring the labelling into effect as from 1st January next year. Other States have indicated that they will follow and introduce legislation. The States that are thus committed already are New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. Two States have not yet made a determination. Of course, Tasmania had a change of government at the critical time when I convened a meeting of Health Ministers. In fact, strangely enough it was on the very day. A very high officer of the Tasmanian Government was present, and naturally the Tasmanian Government is considering its position. Queensland also has certain-
– It has problems with an election.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIt is an election period there at the present time. But an indication has been given that Queensland will give consideration to this matter as quickly as possible. Through the intervention of the Commonwealth, in the form of myself, all the States will have a common code. The code will be the same in every State. The Commonwealth will intercede to have this implemented in its Territories. The terms of labelling will coincide. I think that one can say almost with certainty that it will be effective all over Australia as from 1st January next year. The situation in Tasmania is that the Government very properly is looking at the matter at the moment.
– It has agreed.
– There is some agreement in principle, but one should not commit that Government until it has had a chance as a new government to look at the matter. The other point is that a Bill which deals with radio and television is curently before the other place. I must not anticipate the debate on that Bill in another place. But I can say that the Bill provides that the warning on television will be audio and visual concurrently. On cigarette packets, where the warning will be slightly different, it will be on the front and the back of each packet. That will be a State as well as a Commonwealth matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Can the Minister say whether he had the power to prevent the entry into Australia of the publication known as ‘The Little Red School book’? If not, will he take steps to amend the appropriate legislation to prevent obscene literature from coming into Australia? Has he any power over the importation of such literature into South Australia which has much more relaxed laws than other States in relation to the publication and distribution of certain types of literature?
– I have some general information which may assist Senator Young. It does not deal specifically with the position in South Australia so I would need to pass on that part of the question to the responsible Minister. As the posi tion is stated to me, all imported publications are examined for censorship purposes in terms of regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. This regulation says that goods are banned if they are blasphemous, indecent or obscene and place undue emphasis on sex. Prohibitions brought down under this legislation are on a Commonwealth-wide basis. Commonwealth legislation gives no control over the distribution, display and sale of imported publications. This is a matter for State authoriities. It is understood that there is appropriate legislation on the statute books of all States. The enforcement of that legislation is a matter for State governments.
The Minister has no power, as far as I am able to detect from the information given to me, over the printing and publishing of books within Australia. He has stated that at the time he made his decision he had information that the book was being printed in Australia. To make a prohibition effective, successful prosecutions would need to be instituted in all 6 States, otherwise the ‘Portnoy’s Complaint* situation would be repeated in which a Commonwealth prohibition existed and in which the sale of the book was illegal in some States but legal in others, with the result that massive sales were being effected because of the undue publicity given to the prohibited nature of the book. Because of the limited information that I have I cannot say anything further to the honourable senator, but I shall direct the balance of the question to the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– My question to the Minister for Air relates to the current estimate of the total Fill aircraft project costs, stated by the Minister for Defence to be $US344m. Does that figure include any estimate for storing the. aircraft during the evaluation and modification stages? If so, what is that amount? Is it a fact that the cost of maintaining Royal Australian Air Force teams in the United States of America and the expenditure on training will be additional to this estimated cost?
– The total cost of $US324m includes not only the fly away cost of the aircraft but also the cost of spares, spare engines, ground support equipment, training, technical manuals and all other items that go into the buying of the aircraft. There is a great deal of misunderstanding in relation to this matter. Some people say that we are getting 24 aircraft so they divide the total cost by 24 and then claim that that gives the cost of each aircraft. It does not matter what aircraft we buy, we pay the fly away cost for the aircraft then we have to buy the ground support equipment for them and the technical manuals to give to the technical staff. The cost of training and everything else, is also added. The $US344m is the total cost of the whole project.
– What is the cost of storing the aircraft?
– I cannot give the amount at present, but a figure of some millions of dollars was being bandied around. We had talks with the officials when they were here last. The amount was reduced to less than $750,000.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the Government financing the challenge in the Commonwealth Industrial Court by 2 individuals to the amalgamation of 3 metal trade unions? If so, what is the estimated cost to the Government of such assistance?
– Order! I thought that that question was asked and answered yesterday.
– I have no recollection of that, Mr President. The Government has made provision for assistance, by way of legal costs, for those who object to the amalgamation. I am unable to state the amount of that assistance. I do not know whether the Attorney-General can give the information now, but I will undertake to obtain it for the honourable senator if it is available.
– The Minister for Air has informed me that he made an error in an answer he gave a few moments ago to Senator Bishop and he would like to correct it.
– The new storage cost of the Fill aircraft is $200,000.
– Further to the question just addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service by Senator Cavanagh I ask the same Minister: Is it not a fact that the legislation under which the rank and file of a trade union can be financially assisted in an endeavour to assert their rights was passed by the Chifley Government in the commendable belief that members of the rank and file of trade unions are entitled to have their ordinary rights in a union preserved?
– I believe that that was the origin of this form of assistance in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Of course, it is a recognition of the need for assistance of an individual when he is called upon to confront the unionised strength of a great body of other personnel, together with their resources.
– Is the Attorney-General aware of the growing concern at the large increases in marriage breakdown and divorce in Australia? Is the Minister also aware of the growing concern at the operation of the present matrimonial causes legislation? Will he therefore consider making a statement as to any possible legislative amendments or other steps which he considers may overcome or reduce the concern to which I have referred? Are any steps being taken to undertake further research into the operation of marriage guidance in Australia?
– I have recently seen the divorce statistics for last year and they show that there was, as has been the case for at least the last 5 or 6 years, an increase in the number of applications for divorce and the numbers of divorces granted. I suppose it depends upon the standards with which one approaches these matters, but I would have thought that it ought to be a matter of concern that there is an increasing tendency for people to be divorced. Whether the concern ought to be reflected in the provisions of legislation ls difficult to answer because the legislation only reflects the needs of the community. If there is a growing breakdown in respect for the marriage institution, it is inevitable that legislation will give expression to that breakdown.
I have said on other occasions that this is a matter which is under general review within my Department because many aspects of it have come to attention from time to time. Following the concern I have felt I have asked for work to be done and I hope shortly to have a broad indication of what is happening in this area throughout Australia. Certainly in the area of marriage guidance bureaux, the Senate is aware from the increasing amounts which annually are provided as subsidies to these bodies that they have an increasing role to perform. I am sure that they perform a satisfactory role and the fact that notwithstanding the work they do the divorce rate is rising is possibly to be explained by the fact that if the bureaux were not there the rate would be higher. It is a vast and complex situation. Without any commitment, I will give consideration to making a statement when I am better placed to assess the position.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities aware that more than 80 overseas countries have special incentives for developers which stimulate the construction of adequate tourist facilities? Is be also aware that many of those countries are in direct competition for tourists with Australia but no such incentives are available here? Will the Minister tell the Senate whether any progress has been made on the incentive scheme submitted by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anthony, earlier this year but put aside at the time because it was considered necessary to curb expenditure? Will the Minister bring the matter forward again as one of urgency?
– I am aware of the situation as expressed by the honourable senator. The whole matter, as I think I have said before, is still under review by the Government. I will direct his question to the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is supplementary to the one asked by Senator Murphy relating to the intervention of the United Nations in the Vietnam conflict. Is is a fact that in 1952 the Security Council of the United Nations voted 10 in favour of and one - Soviet Russia - in opposition to the admission of South Vietnam as a member of the United Nations in its own right as an independent sovereign state? Is it further a fact that in the same year the General Assembly of the United Nations voted by a substantial majority to support the admission of South Vietnam to the United Nations? Was it solely because of the exercise of the veto power by Soviet Russia that South Vietnam was prevented from gaining membership of the world body today? Does not the exercise of this veto power make it virtually impossible for the United Nations to function as a peacemaking body in the Vietnam conflict unless there is a massive change of attitude by Soviet Russia?
– Generally, confirmation of the facts to which Senator Carrick has referred is given. But I would like the opportunity to see the record myself before actually guaranteeing them. The Soviet Union veto is the reason for South Vietnam not having been recognised by or admitted to the United Nations. In addition to that, the efforts of Great Britain to get the Soviet Union, as a cosponsor of the Geneva conference, to reconstitute that conference will have come to the knowledge of honourable senators. But the Soviet Union recently has been quite adamant in refusing any such reconstitution, jointly with Great Britain, to get consideration of the situation at that level.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate recall my question to him on 7th September 1971 and his subsequent reply outlining the decision of the Government to defer Mr Gorton’s scheme to assist in the provision of child care centres? The reply indicatd that the state of the economy influenced the Government’s decision in 1971. I ask the Minister: In view of the Prime Minister’s proposals at the moment to stimulate the economy, will he agree to raise again the question of child care centres with the Cabinet so that the Commonwealth can play a meaningful role in the immediate provision of these essential community facilities?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI could forgive Senator Gietzelt for asking this question which strictly seeks an opinion on a matter of policy. In that sense, it is not one about which I would wish to say anything further. He has asked for a view on Government policy and I am not in a position to answer such an inquiry at question time.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. My question is supplementary to that asked by Senator Murphy. Is it not a fact that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Kurt Waldheim, attempted to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council yesterday on the Vietnam situation? Is it not a fact that the Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations declined to attend such a meeting on the ground that such a meeting was unnecessary?
– I have no information on the matter refered to by the honourable senator, other than newspaper reports, but I will refer the question to the department for authentication at the earliest opportunity.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in his capacity as Minister for Health. In view of the poor quality of printer’s ink now being used in newspapers, will the Minister confer with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to ascertain the possibility of producing an ink of a better quality and of a fast colour in order that members of the general public may be spared the inconvenience of being covered with a dirty black substance every time they read a newspaper?
This is an interesting question but I am not certain that it comes within my portfolio as Minister for Health. By inference the honourable senator is suggesting that there must be a health hazard when people get their fingers dirty with a dark stain. I think he has a point in suggesting that the matter be raised with the CSIRO. 1 will arrange for that to be done and get a comment from the CSIRO.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. In the implementation of the agreement between the Minister’s Department and major health and medical funds to ensure that fund reserves are pegged are such reserves monitored quarterly or half yearly to see that the agreement entered into by the funds is strictly adhered to?
– There are some aspects of the question that I would want to have a look at. In the older days the theory was that the funds needed to have 9 months’ reserves, and therefore the funds built up huge reserves. In the modern concept, following the Nimmo Report, extended benefits have been provided and in some instances the various funds have been able to extend those benefits in the short term by using their reserves. The procedures in relation to that are departmental matters and I would respond on that aspect later on. I know that all the normal and proper requirements are being adhered to. I will be happy to spell out the precise requirements on a subsequent occasion at question time.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that a statement has been made by the former Australian Labor Party shadow minister for Immigration, Mr Daly? Has the Minister seen this statement? If so, what did it say?
– It is a fact that Mr Daly made a statement, and I have seen what it contained. Mr Daly, of course, is a former shadow minister for Immigration in the Labor Party and it is commonly believed that if the Labor Party were ever to form a government within the next 10 years he would be a minister in any such government. I think the significance of what Mr Daly said is that after a change in the Australian Labor Party’s immigration policy at its Launceston conference last year, Mr Daly was dismissed from his position as shadow minister. The statement which he made was that there was some doubt on the Labor Party’s policy on immigration. He said it was time - and he repeated the fact that it was time - that a statement was made on behalf of the Australian Labor Party indicating precisely Labor’s policy on nonEuropean immigration. The people of Australia are entitled to know the intentions of a prospective government on a matter which can have far-reaching effects on their society and way of life. No statement has been made by the leader of the Australian Labor Party on this subject. The Prime Minister has challenged Mr Whitlam to make a statement, but no statement has been made. One can only say it is surprising that while the media endeavoued to pick up the statement made by Mr Chipp and take it out of context - Mr Chipp said the next day that he had been subjected to misinterpretation - not one of them is prepared to raise the same query when Mr Daly makes a statement. Possibly they will do so now.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I ask him to recall an answer that he gave in this chamber on the people who came here from India and other countries. I ask him how he rationalises that situation with his foreboding about Labor Party policy when it is something which was agreed to, both by Mr Whitlam and the then Minister, Mr Opperman, as a matter of principle. Where is the change of face?
– Until the Australian Labor Party changed its policy last year there was a generally accepted and acceptable bipartisan policy in this country on migration. The Government’s position has been made clear by successive Ministers for Immigration. It is conceded to have been made clear by none other than Mr Daly in the other place. It is that the
Government wants to see a migration policy under which we shall have a homogeneous society and under which people will be coming to this country who can he integrated into society. We have a society which is essentially undivided, without permanent minorities and free of avoidable tensions. What the Labor Party has done is to create a great doubt as to what it really believes in. It says on the one hand that it wants to avoid discrimination and, on the other, that it will provide without discrimination a greater number of assisted passages. At the same time is says that it will reduce the number of people coming to this country while maintaining a system of sponsorship. Four or five spokesmen on behalf of the Labor Party are putting up different stories. My plea simply is: Will someone declare what its policy is? I am grateful to Senator Mulvihill for the question which enables me to pose that question again.
– I have a question to ask of the Attorney-General. I refer to an incident on 23 rd December at the Prime Minister’s Lodge. In view of the increasingly mysterious answers being given to this matter will the AttorneyGeneral scotch for all time the rumours which arc very persistent in Canberra that guests at the Prime Minister’s Lodge that evening or that night were responsible for the firing of the gun?
– I do not know the basis of Senator Turnbull’s suggestion that all of this is exceedingly mysterious. At the time the incident happened the Press was full of it. The Press received all the information it sought. I have been asked certain questions since as to the outcome of the inquiry. I have stated - and I repeat again - that an inquiry was conducted by the police as to who went to the Lodge and fired the shot. The police inquiry has ascertained that we have not been able to identify who that person was who got into the grounds of the Lodge and who fired the shot. I think it is regrettable that we are not able to make this identification but I assure the honourable senator that there was a full police inquiry into the matter. I do not know why these other matters are being raised. It is a fact that there was an entertainment at the Lodge that night I believe that the Prime Minister was not present. It has a Christmas function which is traditionally held. But that had nothing whatever to do with the events which followed and that is what the police inquiry found.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a statement made last week by Mr H. D. Huyer, Chairman of Australia’s largest electronics company, Philips Industries Ltd, to the effect that unless the Government makes a decision on components for colour television within the next 2 months 30,000 people could be out of work in the electronics industry? Can the Leader of the Government inform the Senate what action, if any, has been taken by the Government to safeguard the livelihood of these 30,000 people?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI have not seen the statement made by Mr Huyer. I will have the question directed to the relevant department. To the extent that it is then examined I have no doubt that there will be a response to it.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer or the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, if that is more appropriate. The Minister will recall that I have questions on notice - question No. 2095 is one of them - concerning aid to Bangladesh, I understand that replies have been given in another place to similar questions. I ask: What is the reason for the delay in answering the questions of this nature that are on the notice paper of the Senate?
- Senator Wright, the honourable senator has given you the option of answering his question or of allowing the Leader of the Government in the Senate to answer it. Do you wish to answer the question?
– I think the Leader of the Government should answer it.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI suggest that the question be put on notice. I understood that it was being asked of the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. If the honourable senator puts his question on notice I will get an answer for him.
– Questions on this subject are already on the notice paper. I am asking what is the reason for the delay in answering them.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI will find out what is the reason for the delay.
(Questions upon notice and the answers thereto are published at the end of the day’s proceedings).
Motion (by Senator Webster) agreed to:
That presentation of the report of Estimates Committee E be made an order of the day for a later hour of the day.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee D on the Additional Estimates for’ the year 1971-72, together with the Hansard transcript of the proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Standing Committee on Health and Welfare
- Senator Turnbull, is Business of the Senate, notice of motion No. 1, formal or not formal?
– by leave - Other petitions in identical terms have been presented, and I suggest that they formally be dealt with in the same manner.
– by leave - That is satisfactory to us. I take it that it would be acceptable to Senator Turnbull if 1 made the suggestion that a slight amendment be made to the motion to include all petitions in identical terms.
– Would you be prepared to move a motion to that effect, Senator Turnbull?
– I would be happy to do so
Motion (by Senator Turnbull) agreed to:
That there should be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare the following matter: The petitions presented to the Senate on 10th May 1972 by Senator Turnbull and other senators relating to social services.
– I seek leave to move a motion relating to a statement on Australian foreign policy which I made on Tuesday night.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Wright) proposed:
That the Senate take note of the statement on Australian foreign policy made by the Minister for Works on 9th May 1972.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
Off-shore Petroleum Resources Committee
– For reasons which are obvious, I suggest that the best way to deal with this matter is for the Senate to take note of the paper.
– And consider it in conjunction with the other report of that Committee?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONNo, I do not think we need do that because the other report was only an interim report.
– lt is part of the whole report.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes, it is part of the whole report. An interim report was put down in September 1970 and that is now in the new report before the Parliament. Therefore I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 5 May 1971, on motion by Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– The Standing Committee on Health and. Welfare was one of the first standing committees established by the Senate. Its establishment was the direct result of the work that has been done over the years by my colleague from New South Wales, Senator Fitzgerald, on behalf of the physically and mentally handicapped people of Australia. It was Senator Fitzgerald who, on behalf of the Opposition in this place, moved in September 1970 that such a standing committee be established. One must remember also that the forerunner to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, whose report is now under consideration, was the select committee which was established by the Senate to inquire into medical and hospital costs. The Select Committee’s Report was tabled in this Parliament in June 1970. One of its recommendations was that the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments should conduct a thorough joint inquiry into problems associated with the special care and treatment of the mentally and physically handicapped of all ages for the purpose of establishing the most practical forms of assistance for them.
The Select Committee expressed deep concern at the existing situation of persons of all ages affected by physical and mental afflictions. The Chairman of the Select Committee was former Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood who also chaired the Standing Committee whose report we are now considering. I want to pay tribute to her for the hard work that she did on behalf of this Parliament in preparing this Report. She worked night and day and was a tremendous inspiration to those of us who sat with her. I say quite frankly that the way in which the Standing Committee dealing with the physically and mentally handicapped carried out its task is an excellent example to be followed by all other standing committees of this Senate. The Committee carried out an inquiry of great magnitude. It was not established by the Senate until 2nd September 1970 and its report was tendered in May 1971, a mere 8 months afterwards. I think it is fair to say that the Standing Committee only dug a little under the surface; it was not able to get down to the depth of the problem. Frankly, no-one yet has been able to assess the real depth of the enormous problem involved for the people who are the subject of this Report.
However, we dug sufficiently to realise that the problem is one of great magnitude for the community, particularly those who are vitally affected by the Committee’s recommendations. Only 8 months elapsed between the time the Committee was set up and the time it tendered its Report, and the unfortunate thing about the Report in my opinion is that it has taken this Government 12 months to give consideration to its recommendations. I repeat that the Committee took only 8 months to survey the problem and to make detailed recommendations. Apart from the establishment of an interdepartmental sub-committee to consider the recommendations of the Standing Committee, I do not know one thing that the
Government has done to ameliorate the tragedy, the suffering and the plight of so many unfortunate Australians.
– That is not quite right. The Government has contributed finance to voluntary organisations.
– I am talking about those people who are extremely physically and mentally handicapped, and particularly about the aspect of rehabilitation.
– Does not the Commonwealth contribute $2 for every $1.
– Having regard to the tragic problems which confront these people, that is a mere drop in the bucket. Senator Webster should be the last person to suggest that the Commonwealth is doing sufficient because he was a member of this Committee. At 10 public hearings the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare took evidence from 45 witnesses, lt received over 70 written submissions. The members of the Committee also had the benefit of visiting many institutions. For me, and I am sure all the other members of the Committee, those visits, to say the least, were traumatic experiences. To see little children in institutions because of their mental retardation, the suffering of those who had been injured in industrial accidents or motor car accidents and their great desire to regain good health and to be rehabilitated in our society and the elderly invalids and their problems made me, and I am sure everyone else, realise that the greatest asset one can possibly possess is good health.
Only last week, as members of the same Committee, which is now chaired by Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, in the course of conducting our inquiry into all aspects of repatriation we visited a rehabilitation institution in Perth. That institution contains mainly young men and women between the ages of, I suppose, 16 and 25 years who have sustained terrible injuries, principally in motor car accidents. I could not help but think that, if every citizen who drives a motor car was made to go to one of these institutions once a year and see the suffering of these people who have been injured and who are desperately wanting rehabilitation, most certainly there would be greater care and caution on our roads. I was very interested to hear some of the questions asked and the answers given on the subject of immigration at question time today. When I went to see that institution my heart pulsated with pride to see young Asian girls giving great assistance as nurses to those who were suffering from terrible injuries.
The first thing I wish to say in relation to the detail of this report is that no-one knows precisely the extent of the problem in this country. The best we could do was to estimate its extent from the evidence. As appears in the Committee’s report, it has estimated that at’ any one time in Australia there are between 120,000 and 240,000 mentally retarded persons. The minimum is 120,000. The figure could be as high as 360,000. A survey was conducted by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics in May 1968. That survey did not include Victoria, the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory. It indicated that approximately 1,909,000 people, or 23 per cent of the civilian population covered by the survey, suffered from one or more illnesses, injuries or impairments. Of the 1,909,000 people so afflicted, 756,000 or 40 per cent, reported that the condition from which they suffered limited their ordinary activities in some way. The number of persons in receipt of invalid pensions or sheltered employment allowances from the Department of Social Services at the time of presentation of the report in May last year was 133,770. A further 9,000, I think, were in receipt of sickness benefits. Virtually it is all guess work. It is only a result of estimate and survey. The Committee recommended, in order that everyone in Australia could appreciate the magnitude of the task, that a national survey in co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States be carried out to determine the number of mentally and physically handicapped persons.
I am particularly concerned about handicapped children in the Australian community. The Department of Social Services, at the specific request of the Senate Standing Committee, carried out a survey of the number of handicapped children in Australia. In short, it was determined that there is a minimum of 44,000 handicapped children under the age of 16 years in Australia. I suggest to the Government that these children are entitled to all the assistance that they can possibly be given. I urge the Government to heed their pleas and the pleas of their parents for greater assistance. But it appears to me that in this so-called affluent age the problems of these people are being swept under the carpet, as it were. Although some assistance is being provided by the Commonwealth, it is far from sufficient. It is a mere drop in the bucket. The very existence of these people is dependent upon voluntary bodies and charitable institutions. That is not good enough. To me, the problems of these people, as we saw them, should be given a much higher priority by all governments - Commonwealth and State - irrespective of political persuasion or colour. The Commonwealth has a tremendous responsibility in this sphere. The greater the number of people who are rehabilitated and the greater the number of people who can receive training to enable them to take a proper place in society, the greater will be the easing on our national health costs and our social service payments, and the greater will be the taxation revenue that will flow to the Commonwealth. More than anything else, it will mean that men, women and children will not be merely existing. They will have the right to human dignity. The Commonwealth has a prime role to play, particularly insofar as the aspect of rehabilitation is concerned.
That brings me to the work of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, the officers of which are performing an homeric task in the interests of humanity generally. Unfortunately the Service is not open to all those who require it. The Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service is an autonomous service. As the Committee’s report stated, the Service is unrelated to other hospital services and is restricted, through social service legislation, to providing rehabilitation services, namely, remedial treatment, vocational assessment and vocational training to certain recipients of Commonwealth social service benefits. The Committee pointed out that the Service accepts only those beneficiaries who, after the rehabilitation, have prospects of full time employment. In other words, they will be taken only if the Service assesses that they have prospects of being rehabilitated into full time employment. If it is assessed that they are able to be rehabilitated only on a part time employment basis, they are ineligible for rehabilitation facilities only from the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. The Service allows only 3 years for resettlement to be achieved, although in certain circumstances the period can be extended. I wish to quote to honourable senators the last paragraph on page 21 of the Committee’s report. It states:
Evidence also emphasised the problems caused by the long interval of time between discharge from hospital and admission to a Commonwealth Rehabilitation Centre. This delay could often be as long as 9 months and the Committee was told that in both New South Wales and Victoria there were about 100 persons on the waiting list.
The report goes on to state that a subcommittee appointed by the Hospitals Commission of New South Wale nad expressed the opinion that the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service does not meet the rehabilitation needs of all categories of physically disabled chronically sick persons in hospitals, and therefore cannot be regarded under any circumstances as a substitute for hospital rehabilitation services. Everyone agreed that the vocational rehabilitation aspects of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service were excellent. Again I urge the Government to give top priority to rehabilitation of physically and mentally handicapped people, particularly through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. Its activities should be extended and its area of operation widened to ensure that it is effectively used in the interests of those people who can be rehabilitated into society on a full time or part time working basis.
The report has been with the Senate since May 1971 and all honourable senators have had an opportunity to read the recommendations it contains. One matter concerns me. It is fair to say that most, if not all, members of the Committee during the course of the hearing were also concerned at this matter. It is referred to in the introductory section of the report. A Commonwealth interdepartmental Committee was established in 1970 to commence a survey of handicapped children and the facilities available for their use. At about the same time, at the request of the Minister for Social Services, Mr J. Griffith of Perth prepared a report in which recommendations were made on possible future trends in governmental participation in the provision of adequate facilities for the mentally and physically handicapped. Although the Committee was made aware of those inquiries it did not have the benefit of access to the report prepared by Mr Griffith.
I suggest to the Government that in inquiries conducted in future by standing committees, except where an element of secrecy related to the defence of this nation is concerned, members of the committees should be provided with a copy of the relevant reports even if only on a confidential basis by the department or Minister concerned. The committees will then be able to assess the necessity for further inquiries into the subject. I come now to consider what has been done by the Government. Towards the end of last year I asked the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), who is now at the table, what action was being taken by the Government to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the Standing Committee. The Minister told me that an interdepartmental committee consisting of representatives of his Department, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Education and Science, the Repatriation Department and the Department of Labour and National Service had been formed to investigate the relevant reports. One of the problems confronting charitable organisations and institutions engaged in the care of mentally and physically handicapped people was reflected in the claim made not by one but by a number of them that too many departments were involved in handling the problems of mentally and physically handicapped people. The fact that so many representatives of different departments had to be appointed to a sub-committee gives credence to the claim. I think that within the Department of Health or the Department of Social Services a special section should be established to deal immediately with the problems of these voluntary organisations which handle in the main the difficulties experienced by mentally and physically handicapped people. It would be of enormous benefit to them and to the community generally.
The Minister established an interdepartmental committee and this year I followed up the matter by asking the Minister about the progress that it had made. I also asked whether the Minister intended to report to the Senate on the deliberations of the interdepartmental committee. On 11th April the Minister said that the interdepartmental committee had met on a number of occasions and that further meetings were planned. He said that the interdepartmental committee would be reporting to him and in the light of any Government decisions on the recommendations of the Standing Committee he would consider what further action should be taken to keep the Senate informed about these matters.
On 20th April Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, who is now the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, asked the Minister about the implementation of recommendations in reports of standing committees. The Minister in reply dealt with what happens to reports after they have been presented to the Senate. He gave quite a detailed answer and said, amongst other things, that the fact that the report on mentally and physically handicapped persons had been referred to an interdepartmental committee under his instructions indicated that at least it was receiving the consideration of the departments involved and that the relevant departments were considering and examining the recommendations made by the Committee. He pointed out that that is the normal procedure and went on to say that where he has any influence the matters are considered and referred to the appropriate authorities for consideration. Knowing the Minister as I do, I accept what he said.
However, the stage must be reached at which, if Senate committees are to continue to function as effectively as they should, whichever Government is in office, it will have to refer the reports to the departments, consider which recommendations can be implemented and in what way, receive a report from the interdepartmental committee involved, and then report back to the Senate on its intentions. These committees are costing the Australian taxpayer an enormous amount of money. They are bringing down excellent recommendations. 1 cannot help but say that, if all the recommendations of all the Senate select and standing committees had been implemented, this Government could claim credit for being a good Government. The fact that it has not implented those recommendations probably indicates why it is a bad Government.
I believe that this report is an excellent one which contains some most worthy recommendations. lt is a pathway to reform in social welfare and to the solution of the problems of physically and mentally handicapped people in Australia. I was proud to be a member of the Committee. I sincerely trust that the interdepartmental committee which is considering the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee will report to the Government very soon, and that the Government will see its way clear to implement the recommendations. When it does that, the burden of those who suffer from these afflictions will be eased.
Senator Dame NANCY BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (12.26) - I rise to support this report. 1 fear that because of my laryngitis my remarks necessarily will be .very short. I was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Weifare which, under the chairmanship of Dame Ivy Wedgwood, inquired into and reported upon the problems of physically and mentally handicapped people.. I congratulate Dame Ivy Wedgwood on the splendid report that her Committee produced. The report contains 85 recommendations, all of which are extremely important. The numbers of letters that so many of us have received asking when some of these recommendations will be implemented indicate, I think, the enthusiasm of those who are working for physically and mentally handicapped children to see some of the recommendations and improvements carried out.
One of the recommendations which I feel is most important comes at the end of the section in which the Committee’s recommendations are set out. This is that a division of rehabilitation be established within the Commonwealth Department of Health. As we present members of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare move about the States in connection with our inquiry into repatriation,, we are visiting rehabilitation centres. It is most heartening to see the enthusiasm with which people are seeking to rehabilitate themselves. But there is an obvious lack of co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States in this field. 1 believe that the establishment of a division of rehabilitation in Australia, to co-ordinate the work in this field, would be extremely advantageous to everyone.
I also support most strongly the appointment of a national advisory council for the handicapped. Such a council should be established. I would hope that such an advisory council would be made up, not of people from the Public Service, but of medical people or people in the field of rehabilitation who can keep in close touch with what is happening in other countries and bring their advice to the attention of the proposed division of rehabilitation to be disseminated so that all organisations may be kept up to date. Improvements in this field are occurring constantly in other countries and we in Australia need to be kept up to date with them.
There seems to be a great deal of overlapping in the work done in this field by voluntary organisations and either State or Commonwealth organisations. In the Commonwealth field at least 6 departments handle rehabilitation in some respect. If rehabilitation were under the control of one department it would be handled very much more effectively. An urgent need exists for a survey to be made of the number of physically and mentally handicapped persons in Australia. It seems to be completely impossible to find figures on the number of people who are handicapped in this way. It appears that finance for this purpose is lacking. If the Commonwealth could see its way clear to finance such a survey, this would be the first step towards getting more effective treatment for these people. An obvious need exists also for further training courses and scholarships in medical, nursing and paramedical fields, because a shortage of staff is apparent in these fields.
The Committee has noticed very clearly that rehabilitation is not being started off early enough in many cases. Sometimes this is the fault of the provisions of the Acts relating to workers compensation. The courts are jammed with cases and on occasions a person waits 3 years for the finalisation of a claim. During this time, such persons are reluctant to undertake rehabilitation as this may affect the lump sum payment which they may be awarded. lt is regrettable also that the courts do not insist on rehabilitation. The courts award lump sum payments but do not insist on rehabilitation. We all would like to see a change in the time taken to finalise such cases and to see rehabilitation encouraged. An urgent need exists, too, for rehabilitation units to be established in State hospitals in regional centres. If the Commonwealth could see its way clear through the proposed co-ordinating division of rehabilitation to set up proper, efficient and modern rehabilitation units on a regional basis, obviously there would be a great improvement in rehabilitating people into the work force and into the community in general. I regret that I am unable to speak further; but I am most enthusiastically in favour of this report.
– Like my colleague, Senator Douglas McClelland, and the previous speaker, Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, I enthusiastically support this report and its recommendations. I think it is appropriate to remind honourable senators at the outset that the Senate in its wisdom on 2nd September 1970, having established a number of legislative and general purpose standing committees, decided to refer to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare an important matter, namely:
I have heard no criticism of the Committee’s report. The reverse has been the situation. There has been nothing but praise for the material that has been compiled and presented in this report and the recommendations contained in the report.
As my colleague, Senator Douglas McClelland, and Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield said, many directly involved voluntary organisations which have interested themselves in the care, welfare and treatment of mentally and physically handicapped people in Australia have requested repeatedly by letters, I am sure to all members of the Senate and no doubt to members of the House of Representatives, that at least some of the 85 recommendations that they say would materially assist them in providing greater care and treatment to those whom they have cared for and treated over the years be implemented.
Inside 12 months, this Committee was able to present its report. I. think that that in itself is a commendation of the Committee’s determination and resolution to deal with this matter which is of such importance. Many organisations forwarded written submissions to the Committee. Commonwealth departments and no fewer than 5 State government departments prepared and presented well documented submissions. As well, 70 submissions from voluntary organisations were forwarded and verbal evidence was taken tinder oath from some 45 witnesses at 10 public hearings.
I do not think that the Senate can discount lightly 2 facts. The first is the importance of the decision that it made for the first time in its history to set up these committees. The second is the hope that this move gave to members of the public at large in seeing, as they did, the opportunity to avail themselves of another channel of access to the Australian Parliament by placing submissions before the various committees dealing with whatever subject matters are referred to them for inquiry and report. This in turn involved the Commonwealth in expenditure to service these committees. Public money is being spent, and well spent in my view, to examine in depth and in detail matters of importance to the Commonwealth for consideration by Parliament. If these committees are to have any meaning whatsoever, their work must receive the Government’s consideration at the earliest opportunity, and subsequently the consideration of Parliament when the Government decides to adopt the recommendations that it considers appropriate to the subject matter under consideration.
The Committee’s work brought to light a matter of great concern to everybody. It appears in the introductory remarks on page vi of the report:
The Committee was informed that there is a decline in the number of babies born with brain damage, due to a. reduction in the incidence of infectious diseases. It has also been said that the size of the handicapped population is increasing, mainly due to the survival of babies born with previously fatal conditions and to industrial and increasing road accidents.
This means in effect that notwithstanding that the Committee was unable to ascertain the number of mentally and physically handicapped people in the Commonwealth, it was able to glean from professional and expert evidence that the level of mentally and physically handicapped people in Australia was on the increase. This point should be noted by the Minister, and I am sure that he has done so on reading the report. The report went on to say at page ix - and I think the 3 references are pertinent - under the heading ‘Recommendations’:
The following are the recommendations of the Committee:
The Number of Mentally and Physically Handicapped Persons hi Australia
That there should be laid down a set of definitions for the guidance of medical, educational and welfare authorities working in the field of handicapped persons in Australia.
In other words we have not even established in this country the definition of a mentally and physically handicapped person. We are not yet at a stage to determine the numbers based on a categorisation of variations between people with a retardation on the one hand and a physical handicap on the other. The Committee recommended that a survey be carried out in each State to determine the numbers of mentally and physically handicapped persons, by category of handicap. The report went on to say that funds should be made available for the States through the Commonwealth Department of Health to finance the surveys. This, if implemented, would mean some additional cost to the Commonwealth Government, but I am sure that as an initial step in ascertaining the magnitude of the problem, it would be of small moment in terms of the cost involved to ascertain first of all the rudimentary information that is necessary if the subsequent recommendations of the Committee are to be adopted.
Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield has referred to recommendations on page 50. I agree 100 per cent with them, and I propose briefly to refer to them. The Committee recommended that a Division of Rehabilitation be established within the Commonweath Department of Health. Like the 2 former speakers, in recent months I have had the opportunity of examining the facilities and the .kind of treatment that is being afforded to mentally and physically handicapped people. I am sure that there would be no person in this Senate - or outside it for that matter - who, having had this opportunity, would not be moved by the resolution, determination and courage of the people we have seen, who have been provided with facilities and opportunities for rehabilitation to the greatest extent of their capacities. Therefore it would seem to me that this recommendation is soundly based.
I agree with the second proposal that a national advisory council for the handicapped be established. This field of concern, the handicapped, strikes me as somewhat akin to our social services system, which has tended to grow like Topsy over the years. There is a scattered arrangement of services. There are great gaps between actual priority needs that ought to be met, and there is overlapping between the States and the Commonwealth. Regrettably, many people fall between these services and do not receive the real attention to which they should be entitled. We must co-ordinate, draw together, provide some cohesion and consolidate the scheme of arrangements so that a person will not have to shop around, so to speak, to find out his entitlement and the Department from which he must seek it. People should be able te go to one centre and be dealt with at that point. This would relieve a lot of strain and anguish that they must experience in trying to determine what help they might obtain from a great range of facilities that are available.
As 1 said earlier, it seems to me that this is an excellent report. The Committee has worked assiduously. The report has been before the Senate for just on 12 months. My greatest concern is twofold. First, the task of caring for the mentally and physically handicapped, the magnitude of which becomes manifest upon a reading of the report, has not been dealt with as expeditiously as we should have liked and hoped. The Government should have accepted a number of recommendations which would cost nothing at all, or at least only a minimum amount, to put into effect. It should have got under way the survey that is suggested in the early part of the introduction. The second consideration is that this group of people, the mentally and physically handicapped, are unlike any other group in the community. They are dispersed. They are not a coherent group. Unlike, for instance, the manufacturing, commercial and trade union interests, they are not able to bring pressure to bear, or to prepare and present their point of view on what they believe ought to be done to assist them. They have to rely on the good sense and judgment of the legislators of this nation to ensure that they are not forgotten. 1 think it would be a reasonable criticism of every senator to say that in effect these people have to some extent been forgotten in the past. This report leaves no room for any of us in the future to make excuses for not giving consideration and attention to the needs of the mentally and physically handicapped in Australia.
I hope the Minister will, as a consequence of this debate, see - fit to expedite the inquiries through the interdepartmental committee that he was instrumental in having set up to examine this report. If the interdepartmental committee is unable within a reasonable time to submit proposals on the whole report for consideration by the Government and eventual submission to Parliament, I suggest that at least it should look at some of the recommendations which, if accepted, would not create the complications that might otherwise arise because of the interests of so many departments. I suggest it would be possible to select some of the Committee’s recommendations for immediate implementation. I am sure the Minister has had before him letters from voluntary organisations which have suggested only 2, 3 or 4 of the 85 recommendations as those which they are desirous of having implemented as soon as possible to enable them to increase the value of their care and attention to the mentally and physically handicapped persons in whom they are interested.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– (Quorum formed) In my concluding remarks, I acknowledge the numerous interests competing for attention by the Commonwealth Treasury. In my view there is no doubt that if we are to provide the kind of programme which will meet the needs of treatment and care and an appropriate rehabilitation programme for the mentally and physically handicapped in Australia then some additional finance will be required to service that type of scheme. However I think that when we ace determining what ought to be done and what needs to be done the underlying philosophy which should be guiding our determination should be based on what is physically and financially possible. I believe that it is not beyond the physical capacity of the Commonwealth Government to give the leadership which is required to promote the programme which is being suggested in the broad terms of this report. Likewise I am sure it is not beyond the financial capabilities of the Commonwealth to service such a programme. Whatever cost may be required, I think it should be seen not as a cost against the people of the Commonwealth but rather as an investment in that great number who require our urgent attention, namely, the mentally and physically handicapped in Australia.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party congratulates the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare on its report to the Senate. It has been in our hands for some 1 2 months. We have examined it. We have not been privileged to serve on the Committee because of the pressures of the committee system which makes it impossible for a party with the representation which we have to serve on all committees. Wc were happy to be able to vacate a place on this Committee so that Senator Turnbull, who has much expertise in the field, could take a place and help the Committee with its work. 1 have no doubt that he contributed enormously to the successful work which the Committee has carried out. I join in the remarks of the other speakers, particularly the concluding remarks made by Senator Brown which, to some extent, did not match up with his earlier remarks. He said that to some extent this field of the mentally and physically handicapped was a forgotten field. I rather liked his concluding remarks. They gave some recognition to the enormous demands which are made and to the responsibility which has to go to meeting the obvious need that there is in this area.
One has only to cast one’s mind back to the days of one’s youth to realise that many of the cases which are now recognised - particularly in mental retardation in children - were not even diagnosed 30 or 40 years ago - as recently as that.
It is only recently that we have had the medical knowledge and the expertise to be able to guide us, even if we had the money and wanted to spend it in this direction. Today it would be a tragedy to be moved too much by our emotions to try to assist to the fullest possible degree all those who are handicapped in any way at all and leave nothing to be spent on the very necessary research which leads to prevention and which adds to our knowledge of the whole problem. I think that this has been one of the very good features of the Committee’s report. It is a very balanced report. The Committee has not run away with itself and tried to find areas of condemnation for what has not been done. I do not think that any of us should do that because I think we all concede as Australians that, whatever we think politically and whatever we disagree with politically, either in this House or in another place, we would want to do the maximum possible, taking cognisance of the other responsibilities of government in this field. In reading the report 1 was somewhat taken with the statement that 95 per cent of children born in Victoria were taken to baby health centres. I would not think that that would be the percentage that would apply throughout Australia. I bow to the evidence which the Committee has heard. It has quoted the evidence received to indicate that the percentage in Victoria is as high as that. But probably Victoria is the most densely populated State of the Commonwealth because of its size. Therefore these facilities are more readily available to more people than they would be in many other States. The sheer physical facts of geography probably prevent many people who would otherwise take babies to baby health centres from attending. But even 5 per cent of the children in Victoria are not regularly taken to baby health centres.
One field alone which is well in my mind where early diagnosis and immediate attention can relieve a situation enor- mously is the field of deaf children. 1 notice that the report states that this would usually show itself - that is in those cases where babies are not having some form of supervision such as at a baby health centre - within 2 years. But a much earlier diagnosis than 2 years is enormously important in understanding that a baby is deaf because treatment in these cases can be so successful. This is not a case where the handicap is such that it cannot be treated. Indeed, almost complete normality can be obtained. Early diagnosis is one of the most important needs. In a society such as ours we accept child endowment as being a proper thing. Yet, in Victoria where 5 per cent of the children do not attend public health centres there would not be 5 per cent on whose behalf child endowment is not collected. But even the payment of child endowment should not be made mandatory. An age should be fixed by the medical profession as being the proper age at which a child should be medically examined. Every child to be eligible for child endowment should be subject, free of charge, to such an examination. If necessary it should be paid for by the Commonwealth. I justify this suggestion with the last words used by Senator Brown that this would be an investment not a payment as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. Every child should be medically examined at one, 2 or 3 months or in accordance with professional and expert advice.
Senator Turnbull would know better than I the age to fix. But I would believe that some time in the 3 months of life after the baby has left hospital with the mother - if it were born in a hospital - it should be taken for a complete check over and tested for such things as deafness. The situation should not be permitted to exist that 5 per cent of babies in Victoria could have a hearing defect which may not be discovered until the child is 2 years old. I would not object to the use of the steamroller by saying that child endowment will be available only to those parents who bring their children in for a medical inspection at a specific age. I would agree to the use of that method in the interests of the children themselves. If good cause could be shown why that should not be done, I would impose some penalty on the parents of a child who was not brought in.
It is only in very recent years that medical science has turned its attention to the study of malnutrition, including post natal malnutrition, and how it can affect the mental processes of a child as it grows. A child which suffers from malnutrition in the first 12 years of its life may be handicapped for the rest of its life. Many people in the medical profession say that a child can be handicapped as a result of not receiving .sufficient protein in its early years. As I have said, the medical profession is only just beginning to undertake thorough research into the likely effects of something like that on a child. For those reasons, I think it is important for children to be examined medically in their formative years. It is very important that that should be done, no matter what we as a community have to put up with in the form of some compulsion being exerted upon us. After all it would be no sacrifice for those who decide not to take their children to a public health centre or who are discouraged from doing so because they live a long distance away from one to make sure that a complete medical examination is made of their children 3 or 6 months after they are born or at a particular time at which the medical profession considers it is possible for any of the abnormalities to which I have been referring to be diagnosed. Any treatment which was necessary could begin immediately. In that way a child which has an ailment such as deafness would miss no more than is absolutely necessary the enormously creative years when the brain is capable of absorbing so much.
I turn my attention now to other matters which have been referred to in the report. The most tragic thing which is happening today and which is not receiving the publicity it should receive is that a large number of people are becoming paraplegics as the result of preventable motor car accidents. A neighbour of mine - a young girl in her early twenties - is a paraplegic. She has made a statement which I think is quite shocking. She has said that her greatest ambition now is to be again able to drive a fast car. I can understand the spirit of challenge in which she would make an utterance such as that, but a fast car was the cause of the condition in which she is today. To think that the only ambition she has in life is to drive another fast car is a shocking thing to me, but perhaps some of us would react in that way to such tragic circumstances. lt is a fact that statistics are provided of the death toll on the roads as a result of motor car accidents in particular. The publicity that is being concentrated on this subject by a particular newspaper in the State of Victoria has enabled that State to accomplish quite a considerable reduction in the death toll on its roads in the last 12 months. 1 would like to know the extent to which this publicity has resulted in a reduction in the number of people who would have become crippled for life as the result of a motor car accident, lt seems to me that the chances are almost equal of dying in a serious motor car accident or of being crippled for life. The statistics about the number of lives which are lost as the result of a motor car accident are shocking to us. I think that the statistics about the number of people who become paraplegic as the result of such accidents would be equally as shocking and would help to throw a lot of weight oil the prevention side of this problem. That is why I think it would be foolish for us to go into an institution for those who become paraplegics as the result of car accidents - T understand that money is being raised to try to establish such an institution in Victoria - and allow our emotions to sweep us away and say that we must spend as much as we can on alleviating the tragedy of these unfortunate people without thinking about spending a proportionate sum on endeavouring to ensure that the number of persons who enter such institutions is reduced as much as is humanly possible. I point out again that no matter what we are able to devote out of our national economy to this purpose we must always keep our sense of balance and ensure that the not so obvious aspects of research and prevention are given due accord.
Another point which has been highlighted in the report and which I hope the Government will take up post-haste is the part that the imposition of a means test on the incomes of handicapped people plays in preventing them from making the enormous attempt, as it is to them, of becoming members of the community again in a true sense and of working at some form of employment for their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the rest of the community. The only certainty to a person whose life has been completely shattered and who is facing the challenge of trying to rehabilitate himself is the income he will derive from the pension which will be payable to him. The acquisition of a skill that would never be the skill attained by that person if be were not so handicapped becomes rather hazardous to handicapped persons because they know that any income resulting from the application of such a skill after they have acquired it may affect the basic pension rate to which they are entitled. In that way the means test, instead of becoming a protection to the public purse, could become an encouragement not to try. The discouragement is probably not quite as obvious to those of us who have not had to face the challenge as it is to anybody who has been through the situation of seeing before him years in which he realises that he is handicapped by comparison to other people in the community; yet these people are being asked to learn skills that may interfere with their right to the basic subsistence income which the pension provides to them.
I do not think that the public purse should be protected in this way. Indeed, it would be a very worthwhile investment of public funds if people who are so handicapped were to know right from the very beginning that the pension they get is, as with the example stated in the report of a pension to a blind person, theirs by right to balance their life alongside another person who is not so handicapped, that we as a community accept a responsibility towards their handicap and that we will help to adjust the difference between ourselves and them by the payment of a certain amount to begin with and what they earn over and above that is theirs by right. Indeed, paraplegics have to cope with many large expenses that a normal person would never incur. That in itself is a justifiable reason why the public purse should help to spread the load over the whole of the community. After all not every paraplegic is in that position because he wished to drive a fast car. Many of them are in it because someone else wanted to drive a fast car. I believe that we should try to rehabilitate them into our community and that the means test in this respect could well be forgotten.
I conclude my remarks by congratulating the members of the Committee for the report which they have presented. It is a very worthwhile report on a subject about which we still know and understand all too little. I congratulate all of the governments which have in the last 30 or 40 years made a contribution to this field of endeavour. I look forward to mankind becoming still further emancipated and moving into an age where the problems in this field can be more easily overcome because of our capacity to produce and hope that the foundation work which has been laid by this very fine and worthy report will continue.
– I express my appreciation of the fact that this report is being discussed by the Senate this afternoon, and my commendation of the programme and process by which from time to time we are to give attention to Senate committee reports. As has been said by previous speakers this afternoon and at other times by all of those who know the situation, reports are produced as a result of an extended amount of work by a committee. Sometimes those of us who are involved in these committees feel that the reports do not receive the attention from the Government that they should receive. But this process which we see exemplified today is an answer to a concern we felt regarding the fate of the reports and an uneasiness in the minds not only of people who take part in the committee, but also those who spend a great deal of time, energy and thought in preparing submissions and who come to share with the committee their opinions, their experiences and their ideas on what course of action should be taken.
The comment has been made already today that the Government has been slow in implementing the recommendations contained in the reports of various committees. All of us who have served on committees and who have brought in recommendations certainly would like to see action taken by the Government quicker than has been the case to date. At the same time, it should be acknowledged that the Government already has taken a deal of action over a period of time in relation to a number of reports. The report of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric
System of Weights and Measures is a fairly good example to indicate the truth of what I have said. I would certainly like to see a great deal more attention given to the recommendations contained in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, of which I was Chairman. It should be said, at the same time, that as a result of the. activities and the report of that Committee governments, not only the Commonwealth sphere but also in the States, have moved into this field in a way that they had not done before.
I am especially mindful of my most recent exercise with the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. The report of that Committee on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education was tabled in this Senate this session. It has been received very favourably indeed by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). He has indicated that he has referred certain of the recommendations to education councils and organisations of that nature with a fairly firm view of looking favourably at the recommendations brought down. So I hope that the response of the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) today, and the Government’s response in the future, to this report which we are discussing this afternoon will be sympathetic and will show that there is a genuine endeavour to implement as many of the recommendations as is possible, if not in detail then at least in spirit, and if not in complete fashion then at least in part, with a pointer towards eventual implementation in the future.
A government, of necessity, must take political decisions, and it takes those decisions against the background of a series of factors which a committee discussing an issue does not have to take into account. A committee makes recommendations on other bases and on other premises. A committee represents a dialogue between *:he parliament and the people, and I hope that in the blending of a committee’s activity the Government also will be aware that a committee brings to the parliament the results of its dialogue and, therefore, will be able to respond not only for the good of the people but also for the good of what I would call the political condition of the country.
The report before the Senate was brought down by the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare which conducted an inquiry into mentally and physically handicapped people in Australia. The Committee’s report received a good response when it was put down in The Senate by its then Chairman, Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood, who I think most honourable senators know had a great personal interest in this sphere of needy humanity. She carried on this role not only in the Senate but also in public life in Victoria prior to and during her term of office as a senator, and since her retirement from the Senate she has continued that role in another fashion altogether at a national level. Her work in this field has been acknowledged. She brought an element of dedication to it which has been followed since she left this place. When she put down the Committee’s report the Press of the day reacted favourably and drew attention to what it considered to be the important areas in the various recommendations. It would not be a surprise to any of us to learn that the Press reports at the time picked up the fact that the Committee of which I was privileged to be a member put down recommendations which called for more help for the handicapped and needy people, and for additional facilities to be provided to aid those who happened to be afflicted.
When this Committee was carrying on its activities it became very much aware of the wide spread contribution made to our Australian society by the voluntary organisations. lt also became aware of the necessity not only to recognise the difficulties of those people who may be afflicted or who may be described as handicapped people, but also to recognise sympathetically the difficulty of those who are related to these people, either by ties of blood or in other ways, in attending to them and providing for them. In our introduction to the report we referred to the fact that disablement, handicap or impairment of the capacity for life and work was one of mankind’s greatest personal and social afflictions. Of course, that is stating a fairly obvious fact, but when one, as a member of a committee, comes face to face with issue after issue this impairment of the capacity for life and work becomes apparent. When we studied this matter further we became aware that there was a great unevenness in this field throughout Australia in terms of facilities, services and staffing. It would be true to say that only in recent years has it been emphasised that the successful rehabilitation of the handicapped and those who have been impaired can yield tremendous social benefits to the country and - 1 suggest this is more important - tremendous economic returns. The remarkable advances in medical treatment, rehabilitation procedures and techniques of education surely will contribute towards an era in which mentally ill or retarded people will be able to become useful and satisfied citizens in the community instead of just being left to languish in institutions and homes.
As I said a few moments ago, assistance to handicapped people in Australia always has been spearheaded by voluntary organisations. In the main - very much in the main - they have been financed by groups of hard working relatives and friends of the handicapped. The unevenness throughout the country in this sphere was manifest and apparent. It persisted both in terms of treatment and co-ordination, and even in terms of differing recognition of the problem from one side of the country to the other. The report of the Senate Standing Committee contains 85 recommendations. That is a lot of recommendations. Perhaps some of them might well have been grouped together for the purposes of general description, but I think it was important that a Senate committee which was charged with bringing to the Senate a story on this very sensitive and needy area in our community should put down clearly and in detail, even if it involved as many as 85 recommendations, the feelings of the committee so that they would be clear to the Government and to the community at large.
It has been said already this afternoon that one of the matters about which we were concerned was the lack of information on this difficult area. We feel strongly about this. Some of the recommendations refer to the fact that there should be a disability register; that there should be an opportunity to provide for future estimates, and that there should be greater attention to statistics in relation to the disabled and the handicapped.
The Senate Committee also spelt out some recommendations relating to prevention and treatment, lt dealt for quite a while with recommendations concerning education - pre-school education, the main schooling area and teacher training. It is important that some attention be given to the area of vocational training and the recommendations in the report dealing with this subject. The all-important area of rehabilitation also was among the 85 recommendations that received attention. This covers employment, compensation, pensions, benefits, and matters relating to taxation. It was important that we make recommendations concerning aids, appliances and accommodation. The Senate would not be surprised to read amongst the recommendations of the Committee references to home nursing, the architectural design of buildings and the all-important area of administration.
I think 1 should point out to the Senate and to the Minister that the report which the Senate is discussing this afternoon is based on the combined wisdom of no fewer than 70 written submissions from interested departments, organisations and individuals throughout Australia. Sworn evidence was received from 45 witnesses and the Committee held 10 public hearings, all in Canberra. The combined effort of submission of evidence and of deliberations has resulted in this report containing these recommendations being put before the Senate.
As I said earlier, during the inquiry it became evident that the size of the handicapped population was unknown and that services to the handicapped within Australia had developed in what we may call a piecemeal and fragmented fashion. As I said in another context the other night, no fewer than 6 Commonwealth departments accept a measure of responsibility for the handicapped. The Committee considered that some form of co-ordination was very necessary indeed. The voluntary organisations throughout Australia have reached the stage at which they can no longer carry the increasingly heavy burden. This is evident from the high cost of maintaining organisations. Witness after witness from the voluntary organisations drew our attention to this. They referred to the high cost of staffing organisations and their facilities. They said that the demands of the people they served were increasing, that their desires were such that there was an increasing cost to meet their demands. I said ‘demands’ but perhaps I should have used the word ‘entitlements’ instead.
More handicapped people within our community are becoming increasingly aware of their potential. More of them are becoming aware of the fact that there are opportunities of which they can avail themselves. They are becoming aware that they can make a useful contribution to our total society and, more importantly, they can get personal satisfaction from it. The relatives of handicapped people and those who live closest to them are becoming increasingly aware of the potential of these people. All of this has made an enormous demand on the voluntary organisations and we were told again and again that they have reached the stage where they can no longer carry the very heavy burden. Voluntary organisations have to realise that they have to face a very difficult situation.
All of us who have dealt with this report - in fact all honourable senators present - have had associations with organisations which endeavour to serve and help handicapped people. I had the experience a few Sundays ago of starting one of those walkathons or marathons, whatever they are called, in aid of the Phoenix Society in South Australia. This organisation, as its name indicates, is engaged in the rehabilitation of handicapped people. I stood in a parking lot in an Adelaide suburb surrounded by a lot of people who were members of the Society. Most of them were in wheel chairs or needed some kind of assistance to help them along. They set off that afternoon to traverse a certain distance in order to raise a certain sum of money to aid their own cause. I thought of this particular report as I played my small part on that occasion. The occasion highlighted the fact that there needs to be not only greater Government awareness; if we proclaim that there should be greater Government awareness surely we should call for greater community awareness, greater community involvement and a greater sense of community responsibility. Another of my activities relates to handicapped Aborginal children from the Northern Territory. They are cared for in a hospital in Adelaide with which I happen to be involved. Here again is a situation in which people are helpless to rehabilitate themselves and voluntary organisations are doing a great deal.
I must not let this opportunity pass without registering the fact that the Commonwealth Government is one of the great friends of movements of this kind. I refer to direct grants of finance, the provision of its own health and welfare services and the provision of long term loans to enable voluntary organisations to undertake wider, more intensive, more efficient and more effective work. This report highlights the work of voluntary organisations and the needs of people, and calls over and over again for increasing awareness of the problems by the community at large. 1 turn now to the reference in our report to education. I want to mention the speech which Dame Ivy Wedgwood made when she tabled the report. She said that the Committee had been told that there was an Australia-wide shortage of all categories of teaching staff concerned with the handicapped. She went on to say that the Committee recommended various diploma courses in rehabilitation. There were further references to training for nurses, teachers, therapists and social workers. This is a matter of particular interest to inc. I referred earlier to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts on the Commonwealth’s role in teacher education. I take the liberty of drawing attention to chapter 6 of that report which refers to the training of what we call special teachers who handle special classes of children who demand a particular form of training. We drew attention to the fact - this is reflected in the report we are discussing today - that there are few such courses in Australia.
One of the submissions to the Committee which investigated teacher training stated that provision within the State education systems for the special training of teachers dealing with the mentally retarded virtually is non-existent, although awareness of this lack is evidenced by recent moves in some teacher training colleges to introduce special courses. We pointed out that there is an urgent need for at least one recognised training course for special school teachers in each State. The evidence given to that Senate Committee indicated an Australia-wide shortage of teachers of the handicapped. It is all very well for us to talk about education for the handicapped but we must ensure also that as we do this we talk about some facility for teaching the teachers. We discovered that opportunities and facilities for the training of such teachers are few and that they vary considerably from Stats to State. All teachers in all schools educating the handicapped should have sufficient background to recognise the common learning problems of the handicapped child and should be able to refer those children with the more serious problems to special classes or to special schools at a very early age. Honourable senators may care to refer to the Committee’s report and its recommendations for establishing special arrangements for training teachers who will have the special job of teaching handicapped children.
Turning, very briefly, to the report itself, I would like to draw attention to the references to home nursing and domiciliary care. Honourable senators will recall from their reading of the report that domiciliary nurses, or people who are engaged in domiciliary nursing, form part of what we call the community health team in which the general practitioner provides the essential continuity to the health care for each individual and family whilst domiciliary nurses operating from either a hospital or a community based service ensure that specialised nursing is available in the home when necessary. More importantly - this reflects something 1 have said once or twice today - the family concerned can be counselled or helped as to the best way in which it can take advantage of other services provided, perhaps by hospitals, local councils or voluntary agencies. We strongly recommend that visiting nursing services, providing not only health supervision but also demonstrations and nursing care, should be designed to help all persons who have a disability, to help them adapt to the limitations which have been imposed upon them and to enable them to live among their families and friends rather than to find their way into some impersonal institution.
I have only one other reference to make to handicapped people. As with the references of other honourable senators, it arises from my association in recent times with a particular matter. 1 do not want to delineate a particular area of handicap which could be claimed to be more needy than any other, because all areas are needy. But representations have been made to me very recently on behalf of a group known as the Association of Adult Deaf Societies, lt has drawn attention to the fact that the adult deaf are quite unlike any other type of handicapped person. They arc able to obtain employment and lend a relatively normal life in the community. They do not require, because of their deafness, any special medical or paramedical assistance. But, because of the highly unusual nature of the problems arising from deafness - of course, these are concerned mainly with communication - the adult deaf do not fall into the normal categories of the handicapped or of those requiring welfare assistance. But, at the same time, they do have a great claim on the assistance of the hearing community. Of all the handicaps we are capable of sustaining, deafness is probably one of the most profound. It not only cuts a person off from verbal conversation but also denies him a ready access to language itself and to all the complexity and richness of human experience that language opens up to us. This is just one example of a handicap with which I had an involvement in recent days and which highlights the importance and the underlying concern set out in the Committee’s report and its call for a Government response.
I hope the Government regards the report as a balanced one. As I said earlier, it deals with an area that is distressing and sensitive. It deals not only with handicapped people but also with those closest to them. The 85 recommendations involve a great amount of money. We have to remember that, if we seek money from the Government, the Government can only obtain it from the people. 1 want to place on record my appreciation of what the Government has already done for handicapped and needy people. The report deals with people who are placed in circumstances beyond their control. If we expect the Government to do things for these people, there is equally a call for the community to show a greater awareness. Already many thousands of people are involved in voluntary organisations. The work of voluntary organisations can be best expressed and very wonderfully undergirded by additional funds and services being made available by the Commonwealth itself. Handicapped people are people and not statistics. Because they are people, a feeling of understanding and compassion and a sense of humane responsibility are required. After all, we are our brother’s keeper and those of us who have the blessing of a full life should be concerned with those who suffer from some disability or handicap. I commend this report to the Senate and to the Government. I hope that now and in the future the. Government will use it as a basis on which it can make a continuing response to meet the needs of needy people.
– I join with fellow senators in expressing satisfaction with the presentation of this report. In doing so, I equally join with them in paying tribute to the former chairman of the Committee, Dame Ivy Wedgwood, for the dedication that she exhibited right through the hearings by the Senate Select Committee on Health and Welfare. I think she was fortified by a lengthy career attached to various groups that were aimed at improving the sectors of the community that have suffered these terrific hardships. I think that this experience stood her well. I was only a fill-in on the Committee for 6 months pending the return to active politics of my Victorian colleague, Senator Brown. On the New South Wales scene - my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland made reference to this - Senator Fitzgerald in some of his early Senate activities several years ago energised a number of groups to marshal their facts and therefore present valuable witnesses at the Committee’s hearings. 1 think that there is one theme which has repeated itself. It could probably be drawn from the remarks of the previous speaker Senator Davidson. He referred to the fact that the report contains 85 recommendations. I fee] that one of the problems in Australia in respect to social services - this applies also in the United States of America and Canada - is that, under a federal system, whatever policy is implemented, the orders have to go down through a chain of command. Sometimes, along the way some of the enthusiasm is blunted. I say that advisedly. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, the Minister for Health, is to follow me in this debate. He will notice several recommendations in which the Committee refers to a meeting of the responsible State Ministers. I believe it is unfortunate that at times, not necessarily in the field of health - honourable senators know that I have been hammering for uniform firearms control - we find that some States are more aware of their responsibilities than others. For that reason, I believe that when we look at these recommendations it must be remembered that there has to be constant galvanisation of some States to their responsibilities.
Of course, this is not new to Australia. I said that it applies in North America as well. I contrast it with the situation applying in some sections of Asia where there have been the tragedies of war or, for that matter, the situation in post-war Europe. I can recall going into devastated areas of Eastern Europe in the mid-1950s. I do not think Senator Jessop will mind me making this point: With all governments, even those with left wing ideologies, it is a question of priorities. I am not canvassing ideological views. The results of war with massive civilian injuries speeded up forms of rehabilitation. 1 am saying that in a reasonably affluent country such as Australia, which at times exhibits this friendly society complex of people in voluntary organisations, we are inclined not to give the solution of these problems the attention it ought to have. Perhaps I can put it another way. As medical science has improved, some pregnancies which previously might hve been aborted have resulted in children who needed special care being brought into the world. This has added to our social service structure. That is the broad picture with which we are confronted. 1 repeat that in our federal system it is obvious that we have to be constantly following up these directives. Far too often a Commonwealth Minister makes a Press statement and it will look good; but by the time the implementation gets down to the municipal level, a lot of the drive seems to have been lost.
Senator Davidson also referred to the cost factor. The amazing point in this regard is the attitudes and suspicions of some of the States. The Committee refers to the utilisation of the Bureau of Census and Statistics. I do not think it would be possible to estimate the cost of such utilisations. The facilities have always been there, but some States are not always inclined to accept the assistance of Federal bodies. The Spastic Centre in Sydney and its counterparts in the other capital cities were the trail blazers. As my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland pointed out, where previously there has often been a lack of social workers, today there is a proliferation of graduates with Arts degrees. With a little organisation and a little manipulation we could increase the number of social workers for whom we are crying out, by diverting some of the arts facilities in this direction.
In a debate such as this I think we should pay tribute to the valuable work which is done by people in Commonwealth establishments such as Mount Wilga. They do a wonderful job. I say that with some feeling. When we thank these people lor their dedication we should remember that they have to live the same as everybody else has to live. I know that last year some of them waited 9 pay days before a Public Service determination was implemented. 1 know what would have been said in this chamber if those people had mentioned taking industrial action. We talk about a happy ship, but these things have to be looked at and the dedication of such staff taken for granted.
I deal now with the matter of workers compensation. Australia is a large continent. A man injured in an industrial accident in a country area - for example, by a fall of rock in a country quarry - -does not always have the same opportunity to be rehabilitated as has a man who is injured in an accident in a factory at Footscray or Redfern. This is one of the problems thu! has to be faced. We do not always consider the individual. He could be a man of 30. with a wife and a couple of children. II he is sent to a rehabilitation centre in a capital city, secondary problems arise. I know that the report refers to the inquiry conducted by Judge Conybeare. It is history that Judge Conybeare, in his farewell speech in Sydney, was rather caustic of all the elements that make up the compensation arena. It was brought out vividly by most witnesses, medical and otherwise, that until the applicant is assured of some financial security he is not over-receptive to physical rehabilitation. This is a very difficult problem. As a consequence, if a person is injured in industry, often the employer after a period of time, with the connivance of the union, will make his work a little easier. The problems usually arise in the first 6 months after the casualty. An apprentice in an engineering industry, someone in a construction industry or a migrant present problems which require the help of social workers. I return to this theme: I believe that more interpreters should be used as social workers, particularly when migrants are involved. ft is a vast field with which we have been doling. I believe that overall it is a challenge to our Federal system. I know that in this chamber I make frequent comparisons between our position and the position in the Scandinavian countries which I regard as the most progressive countries in the world in this field. It is true that they have a centralised form of government and that we have to rely on co-operation with the States. I am often a little impatient with the States. I believe that the report contains some very effective recommendations. I refer to recommendations 83, 84 and 85. Tribute has been paid to many of the witnesses. I sincerely hope that recommendations 83 to 85 are implemented. If the Minister for Health looks through the list of people who testified - he will have to make the appointments - I think he will find a nucleus of people who could give excellent service in advising the Government on the subsequent implementation of the majority of the recommendations.
– Order! In accordance with the decision of the Senate relating to the business of the Senate - we are dealing with item No. 2 on the notice paper - I intend to call the Minister for Health. The matter relates to his portfolio. The time factor is now such that there will be time only for the Minister to speak. 1 call him now.
(3.10) - Thank you for calling me. Mr President. I do not close the debate because, from memory, Senator Murphy took the adjournment of the debate. After I have spoken and if there is any time remaining within the time limit imposed by the Senate, it will be the will of the Senate whether the matter will be continued and left on the business paper. The report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare is, without challenge, a magnificent report. As did other speakers. 1 acknowledge the tremendous contribution that was made to the preparation of the report by the Chairman, Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood. It is true that she had a good team with her. lt was drawn from both sides of the Senate. It considered the reference and presented what 1 would say is virtually a blueprint of what is required to solve the problems relating to mentally and physically handicapped persons in Australia.
The report having been presented to the Senate, the question of what was to be done with it arose. There is a parliamentary procedure in relation to committee reports. In my capacity as Minister for
Health, I intervened. The nature of the report, the magnitude of the recommendations and the considerations that were involved meant that it was, as I saw it, almost a blueprint - the ultimate - of what should be done in this field. Obviously if we are to get the most effective result from it an interdepartmental committee would need to examine it. 1 will return to and develop that aspect a little later. It was because of that belief in my mind, as the responsible Minister, that I, with the concurrence of the Government, referred the report to an inderdepartmental committee of which a very senior officer of my Department is the chairman. The other departments involved are Social Services, Repatriation, Education and Science, Labour and National Service, Treasury, Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Public Service Board, and Interior. Each of those departments has a role to play in relation to the recommendations contained in the Standing Committee’s report. In some form or other there is a recommendation relating to each of them, with perhaps greater emphasis on the Departments of Social Services and Health.
The interdepartmental committee is functioning. When it has done what it considers to be a sufficient amount of study and work in relation to the report, it has the option as was suggested by one honourable senator, of taking some of the recommendations in isolation. Because of the magnitude of the task facing the interdepartmental committee, it may approach the Government for a policy decision before it makes a final report. But that is in the nature of things to come. I do not think the Senate would want me to catalogue the avenues that currently are being explored. For example, I do not think it is completely relevant in this debate to point out what the Commonwealth and the States are doing for retarded children or the methods currently being employed in the paramedical field. Senator Davidson referred to the problem of deafness. Simply to make my point, I remind honourable senators that persons under 21 years of age with hearing difficulties are provided with hearing aids free. The aids are also maintained without cost.
In almost every field referred to in this debate today action is being taken. The report does not denigrate what is being done at present. It really goes further and says: ‘Having taken evidence and having studied it, we believe that certain other things should be done.’ I do not think I should spend the very limited time available to me by going through a catalogue of present activities. Nursing homes are referred to in the report and in this area Commonwealth assistance is being given. The Department of Social Services is active in assisting retarded children who are in institutions. I do not use the word institutions’ in a discreditable way. The Commonwealth is providing capital assistance for the building of works.
Senator Douglas McClelland referred to the first recommendation which says, in essence, that a survey should be carried out in each State to determine the numbers of mentally and physically handicapped persons, by category of handicap. I think all honourable senators would agree that if it is possible to carry out such a survey it will be a most effective start line in any consideration of rehabilitation or health. What must be understood is the enormity of that single task. I am not saying that it should not be attempted, but I have in mind problems such as the movement of population in Australia, with pockets of high density population and sparse population and the fact that until this decade there was a great tendency for parents to hide retarded children. It is only through the wonderful work that has been done in the last 15 years by voluntary workers, by education campaigns to establish confidence in retarded children and acceptance of them, that we have been able to get across the message that retarded children should not be so treated.
In Australia we can be proud of the fact that wonderful organisations have been created to aid retarded children. Before I became a Minister of State, in the voluntary sense I served on a committee with a group of wonderful people who were working for and caring for retarded children. I know all these folk. Even now as a Minister, in my private capacity 1 still go to visit one place at which retarded children are cared for. The work that is done by the voluntary organisations is tremendous. I was referring to a survey as a start line. It would be a most difficult achievement. With all the goodwill in the world, an interdepartmental committee must look for the most effective ways to do these things.
Another point to be remembered about this report is that it contains 85 recommendations, set out in groups. In every group at least one recommendation is made to the States. In the first group, which relates to handicapped persons, there is a reference to what is required of State governments. In the group headed ‘Disability Registers’ there is a reference to State governments. The implementation of recommendations 22, 23, 24 and 33 will require tremendous cooperation from the States and, with the greatest goodwill, from the Commonwealth.
One recommendation refers to Commonwealth and State financial agreements. With all the respect in the world, I point out that in the 19 years for which I have been a senator we have been dealing with the problem of Commonwealth, and State financial agreements. 1 am not saying this in a critical sense but simply to point up the enormity of the recommendations and the work that has been done by the Committee. The Commonwealth Department of Health has a great task in co-ordinating and bringing forward recommendations to the Government. Recommendation 36 is that the States be encouraged to establish rehabilitation units on a regional basis in conjunction with the regionalisation of public hospitals. I would not challenge that. Recommendation 33 is that the major teaching hospitals in each State establish departments of rehabilitation. Recommendation 22 is that those States which have not taken full responsibility for the provision of free and compulsory education for all handicapped children should take immediate steps to do so. Recommendation 23 is that State authorities responsible for the design and building of schools should ensure that features are incorporated in school buildings which will enable as many of the less severely physically handicapped children as possible to attend. Recommendation 24 is that there be at least one general training course in each State for special school teachers.
Recommendation 83 is that a Division of Rehabilitation be established with the Commonwealth Department of Health and the following recommendation is that a national advisory council for the handicapped be established. Honourable senators who have preceded me in this debate have drawn attention to the very point I have been making. They have referred to the various wings of the problem, with particular emphasis on handicapped and retarded children, social services, health, education and so on. The Committee recognised this problem and suggested as a solution to it that, if possible, the co-ordination of knowledge and activities should be done through a division of rehabilitation within the Commonwealth Department of Health.
– Excuse me interrupting you, Mr Minister. The time allowed for this debate will expire shortly. Will you indicate what your intentions are in relation to this motion? Do you wish to talk this matter out or to have it concluded?
– That is not my prerogative. I think that Senator Murphy has the prerogative because, as the notice paper discloses, the adjourned debate on this matter stands in his name. If he sought a few moments in which to address himself to this matter before the time for consideration of it today expired, i would yield to him. He is returning to the chamber now. All I say is that, with the best good will in the world, I, as Minister for Health, and the Government will do everything to give maximum consideration to this report and will do whatever can be done to bring into being, if not all the recommendations, at least some and as many as possible in the fullness of time.
– I ask for leave to speak again on this motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition)’ - We are all grateful to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare for the admirable report which it has presented to the Senate on a subject of great importance to the whole community and of special importance to persons who are physically or mentally handicapped and those associated with them. I thank the Leader of the Government, in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) for his expression that the Government will do everything that it can to see, in effect, to the implementation of the report. That expression was given in the broad sense and we understand that it does not commit the Government to the various aspects of the recommendations. But, in general, the Government will pursue the report and see what can be done to implement it in general. I will not say any more about the report because it speaks for itself and others have spoken today on it. But I remind the Senate that in some ways this is an historic occasion. This was the first report–
– Order! Perhaps the Leader of the Government will oblige the Leader of the Opposition by moving for an extension of the period allowed for this debate so that Senator Murphy may conclude his remarks.
– With the indulgence of the Chair and the leave of the Senate, he may continue.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This is an historic occasion because this is the first report from any of the standing committees which were established by the Senate as a result of its decision on11th June 1970. This reference was, I think, the first reference to any standing committee. It was made on 2nd September 1970. This is : he first report from a standing committee to be debated under the new procedure which was adopted on 27th April of this year to enable the reports of Senate committees to be discussed in some systematic and regular way by the Senate. I am doubly pleased - and I say this with some modest pride - that I moved for the reference of this matter to the Committee. I thank the Committee for the way in which it has carried out the task which was allocated to it by the Senate. I hope that other committees will do their work with just as much enthusiasm and with just as much value, in the result, to the Senate and to the community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the report from the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade relating to the proposed takeover of Ansett
Transport Industries Ltd by Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd, together with the evidence taken by the Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I ask for leave to move a motion in relation to that report.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
In doing so, I wish to speak very briefly on the matter. I have no intention of attempting to convey to the Senate any of the matter contained in the report. The report is available now for all to read. However, I do wish to take this opportunity to place on record the appreciation of the Committee of the most able and willing cooperation of various departmental officers whose assistance has been made available to us by their respective Ministers. We have been able to avail ourselves of specialist advice in the many matters involved, without which we could not have prepared a meaningful report in the time available to us. As Chairman of the Committee, I express my thanks to the staff, who have worked under considerable pressure for many days. Not least do I appreciate the co-operation and enthusiasm of the members of the Committee in engaging in this task, which has been subject to considerable publicity and great frustration by events occurring since the work has commenced.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Prowse) proposed:
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– Mr President, I have no objection to the motion which has been moved by Senator Prowse. But, in view of the great public importance of this report and the questions which arise as to whether the investigation, which was commenced and curtailed, ought to be continued, my hope would be that the debate would be resumed at some early period and not dealt with as are the other reports from the standing committees, because those reports are, in their nature, generally ones which do not arouse questions, such as this report does, as to whether further inquiries should take place. 1 suggest, with respect to those who have responsibility for the ordering of business, that this matter ought to be brought on at a time when we can discuss it. In other words, it ought to be dealt with in some way in the next few days.
– I agree with Senator Murphy that an early opportunity should be afforded to discuss the report. From a quick glance at the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee ii appears that the Parliament ought to give early scrutiny and perhaps the Government should give early attention to some of the proposals and recommendations. Presentation of the report in such a short time is much to the credit of the members of the committee concerned. Standing committees were created expressly for this sort of purpose. This Committee has provided a classic example of the manner in which the 2 types of committee, the standing committee and the select committee, should operate. This was a reference within a short compass of time, and as the subject matter was appropriate for a standing committee it was so referred. One of the recommendations is that a wider examination of some aspects of this problem be referred to the Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. That is an appropriate illustration of the harmony existing between the 2 types of committees.
As there are matters involved which call for early parliamentary scrutiny and attention, it would be appropriate if an opportunity were given for an early debate on this subject, more particularly as another existent committee may take it upon itself to examine further aspects of the matter. Perhaps the opinion of the Senate should be discovered quickly as to whether this is an appropriate course. This should be done while the committee is still in existence and is embarking on its wider investigations. I support Senator Murphy’s suggestions.
– I have noted the remarks of the Leader of the
Opposition and Senator Byrne, and I will endeavour, with the Leader of the Government, who will be going away early next week, to facilitate a debate as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I seek leave to make a statement on the Trespass of Commonwealth Lands Ordinance. The statement was made in another place earlier today by the Minister for the Interior.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is the Government’s intention to bring in an ordinance which will fill a need in relation to the law regarding trespass on Commonwealth lands in Canberra. Existing legal provisions are not sufficiently definite or precise in respect of persons camping on unleased Commonwealth land within the city area. This would apply to all open spaces such as Capital Hill, City Hill, median strips, nature strips and other vacant land. The proposed ordinance will make it generally an offence for persons to camp on unleased land in the city area and empower authorities to move their possessions away in the event that they do not comply within reasonable time with a direction to remove them. The change in the law will of course apply to the areas around Parliament House. Adequate public notice will be given of the coming into effect of the ordinance.
– I bring up the report of Estimates Committee A on the particulars of proposed additional expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1972, together with the Hansard record of the Committee’s proceedings.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Rae) agreed to:
That the presentation of report from Estimates Committee B be an Order of the Day for a later hour of this day.
– I present the report of Estimates Committee C together with the minutes of proceedings. I also table a Hansard report of the evidence taken.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Consideration resumed from 10 May (vide page 1543), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That theBill he now read a first time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator COTTON (New South Wales-
Minister for Civil Aviation) (3.41) - I move:
The Bill now before the Senate represents the initial step towards the progressive implementation of the Government’s decision to adopt the metric system of weights and measures in Australia. It is proposed that ail references to weights and measures in the Customs and Excise Tariffs and in related administrative legislation will be amended to metric terminology to take effect from 1st July 1972. This Bill is one of a group of six that collectively amend the Excise Tariff and all complementary administrative legislation. The other five Bills seek to amend the following Acts: Excise Act. Distillation Act, Spirits Act, Diesel Fuel Tax (No. 1) Act, Diesel Fuel Tax (No. 2) Act.
The rates of excise duty proposed in this Bill represent the conversion of existing duty rates carried out in accordance with principles approved by the Metric Conversion Board. Honourable senators will appreciate that because of the conversion factors involved, for example 1 gallon converts to 4.54609 litres, some rounding off of decimals in the rates now proposed was unavoidable. I can assure honourable sena- tors that where rounding off has been necessary, care has been taken to ensure that neither the public nor industry will be disadvantaged by any variation in absolute duty collections. Overall in fact the changes will represent a very slight reduction in Commonwealth Excise receipts - approximately $30,000 in a full year, or, expressed another way, a reduction of 0.003 per cent.
The proposed new duty rates also give effect to the Government’s decision to adopt a different system of expressing the alcohol content of potable spirits. Currently the alcoholic content, or strength, of spirits, such as brandy, rum, etc., is expressed in terms of proof spirit and duty is assessed on the spirit content expressed in the imperial unit of proof gallons. The terms proof and proof spirit are derived from the British system of alcohol measurement. This system provides a scale of 0-175 in which 0 equals pure water and 175 equals pure alcohol. ‘Proof is taken to be 100 on the scale. Strengths between 100-175 are overproof, for example 159 equals 59 o.p. while strengths from 1-100 are underproof, for example 70 equals 30 u.p. Readings within the scale are ascertained from hydrometer readings and related tables.
This proof system does not lend itself in practical terms to volumes expressed in metric terms. In fact, to the best of my knowledge no country using metric measures also uses the proof system for expressing alcoholic content. The system now proposed provides for the alcoholic content of a product to be expressed as a percentage of the total liquid contents of that product. It is a simpler system to work with and no doubt will be more readily understood by the general public than is the present proof system. The proposed new method is widely used throughout the world and is in fact recommended by the International Organisation of Legal Metrology. It is also under consideration by the Customs Co-operation Council for adoption by member countries as standard procedure.
The new method of expressing alcoholic content and the proposed duty rates based on metric measures have been given wide publicity. Officers of the Department of Customs and Excise have held talks with the interested industry groups and I am confident that the changes which are proposed to take effect on 1st July next will be implemented with little or no inconvenience either to commerce or the general public. I commend the Bill.
– It is rather fortuitous that this Bill has been introduced in the Senate immediately after the debate on the report of a Senate standing committee. In fact this is historic legislation in view of the committee work that was done by the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures appointed by the Senate in 1967 under the chairmanship of the late Senator Laught. The historic legislation to implement the recommendations of that Committee is now before this House. We are carrying out what would be termed routine legislation’ for the purpose of converting to the metric system of weights and measures the excise and customs duties which are payable on certain spirits, diesel and other fuels. The simple fact is that the debate which occurred prior to this debate shows quite clearly the tremendous interest which honourable senators as members of committees have in examining issues which are put before them.
I can recall a similar debate which was as interesting as the debate which we have just concluded. It was the occasion when the report of the Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures came before this House. It is a matter of history that as a result of that Committee’s examination of the advisability of Australia’s converting to the metric system this country is moving a long way towards that system’s implementation and completion. Up to date it appears that conversion is moving reasonably smoothly although later in my speech I shall refer to some matters which disturb me in relation to consumer goods. It is interesting to look briefly into the whole history of Australia’s interest in converting to the metric system of weights and measures. In 1902 the Parliament of the Commonwealth approved the decision of a Prime Minister’s Conference in London for the British Commonwealth, or the British Empire as it was then called, to convert to the metric system of weights and measures. Now, 70 years after that decision was approved in Federal Parliament - one year after Federal Parliament opened in this nation - we are implementing by legislative action the conversion procedures in the initial stages.
It is rather refreshing to see that at last the Commonwealth is being a little generous. In the rounding off of the figures in relation to what the Commonwealth will collect in one full year as a result of this conversion I think that 3c in every $1,000 is being taken off the annual income of the community from excise and customs duties collected. I hope that this will be reflected in the consumer market. Senator Keeffe, my colleague and friend, has already been able to bring to the attention of this Parliament the fact that some retailers and wholesalers have already cashed in and are making profits out of the conversion to the metric system. All honourable senators will recall that Senator Keeffe, by example, produced products in this chamber which were being converted to the liquid litre measure. He showed that these people have made a smaller container. They have put the orange juice, lemon juice or whatever it may be into that smaller sized container and they are charging exactly “.he same price as they were charging prior to their effort at conversion.
When examining witnesses throughout Australia the Committee seriously considered what would happen at the time of conversion. I think it is correct to remind this House that the Committee was an all party committee of this Senate. In its wisdom it decided that it would put into the report a special conclusion regarding this matter. The conclusion was that the Metric Conversion Board - which is a Board set up as a result of a recommendation of this Committee - should watch extremely carefully the conversion position to ensure that the public would not be exploited. It is interesting to see in the first annual report of the Metric Conversion Board that it has referred to the responsibilities which have been placed on it. On page 16 of that report it states:
Metric conversion provides many opportunities for rationalisation and economies in the consumer industry and where appropriate those concerned are being encouraged to take advantage of these. At the same time the Board is particularly mindful of its responsibility to keep under review any attempts to take unfair advantage of the public under metric conversion and to bring such instances to the attention of the relevant authorities. Foremost in consumer protection activity has been the development by the Board of a simple cost comparator to enable consumers to make ready comparisons between the costs of packages marked in imperial and metric units. The device is intended to be widely distributed and freely available to the consumer.
The Committee in its deliberations, as 1 said earlier, was extremely concerned to try to establish some control at Commonwealth Government level to ensure that no exploitation took place. Although decimalisation of Australian currency ran reasonably smoothly, we all know that there was exploitation of the consumer at that level. We all know that a lot of money was made by people at the time of conversion. We know that the Metric Conversion Board will do its very best to ensure that no exploitation takes place but it disturbs me to read the phrase: ‘bring such instances to the attention of the relevant authorities’. To my knowledge we have no organisations or authorities with legislative powers to deal with this matter. I think Senator Keeffe has brought this very forcibly before Parliament with the examples which he has produced here. Up to this time no action has been taken at any level to recompense the consumer against what is obvious exploitation in this minor field. Unless we can stop this now and have a system whereby action can be taken at some level by some authority certain unscrupulous people are going to take no notice whatever of the ideals and the needs that we see.
– Where is the honourable senator’s army? There is one general and no army.
– Yes, there is one general and no army. This is the position. We are in the situation now that despite the fact that the Committee was most meticulous in bringing this aspect before Parliament, to my knowledge there is no legislation which will give security to the consumers of this country. I understand that we can have a cognate debate on the 6 Bills rather than go through them one at a time. I hope that that is the position.
– We shall be happy to do that.
– In the brief time during which 1 aim going to speak to these 6 Bills which we have, before us I want to pay tribute once more to the late Senator Laught who was the Chairman of the Committee and particularly to the executive officer whom we were fortunate enough to have assisting us. He is now Chairman of the Metric Conversion Board. I refer to Mr Alan Harper, who was the expert adviser to the
Committee at the, time of its sittings and who has probably been instrumental in the smoothness with which the conversion has taken place up to date. The co-operation which has been received from all sections of industry, from all sections of the educational Held and by the committees and the sub-committees which have been formed by the Metric Conversion Board to ensure that the conversion will take place within a reasonable period indicates quite clearly that the country is ready for and accepts conversion to the metric system of weights and measures.
It is interesting to observe that in its first annual report the Metric Conversion Board indicated that the only major country in the world which is now not actually committed to conversion to the metric system is the United States of America. I note from page 11 of this report that Canada, which is very closely associated geographically and economically with the. United States of America, has already made a decision to convert. The United States is now examining this matter very closely. I predict that within the next 2 or 3 years a definite decision will be made by the United States, which will mean that all major countries will have converted or be in the process of conversion.
We oldies are going to have some difficulties in the next 2 or 3 years in training our minds to adjust to the conversion. My grandchildren will be able to help me along the road. But in the long term great advantages will be experienced not only internally but also internationally. We will experience in the export field the advantages the Committee had in mind in its recommendations. I have great pleasure in indicating the Opposition’s support for the 6 Bills before the chamber.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the 6 Bills before the chamber. As a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures I fully endorse what was said by Senator Poyser as to the manner in which it was chaired by an old and revered friend of ours, the late Senator Laught. I support fully what Senator Poyser had to say about the wonderful assistance given to the Committee by its technical adviser, Mr Alan Harper. I have no doubt that the smoothness with which the operation of converting to the metric system of weights and measures is now proceeding is to a large degree due to the tremendous ability and organising flair that Mr Harper possesses.
The Committee was told during its inquiry that for every year Australia delayed bringing in a metric system the cost would go up 8 per cent. In those circumstances, it is good to see that the Metric Conversion Board is making such rapid progress while at the same time being careful to ensure that nothing is done which might prejudice the whole conversion. I think that the conversion to the metric system is something which will be for the good of Australia. I think that we can be proud of the way in which it is being carried through. I believe that we must all be grateful that the board which the Government appointed is proving to be most effective in performing a very difficult task.
– in reply - I wish to thank Senator Poyser and Senator McManus very much for their observations. I would also like to refer briefly to the very valuable work which was performed by the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures under the distinguished chairmanship of the late Senator Keith Laught. I think the Committee performed a very valuable task for this Parliament and for the people of Australia. I think it was quite singular work. The Committee was one of the first committees that the Senate appointed in the new phase of its activities. It rendered a most valuable service. The Committee’s report was extremely well received in this country and widely acknowledged overseas. Without any doubt a very capable, precise and accurate job was done by the Chairman of the Committee his Committee members - 2 of whom have spoken this afternoon - and the officers attached to the Committee. The important thing from the Senate’s point of view is that the initiative taken in this chamber had a great deal to do with the overall decision to proceed towards metrication in this country. It hastened that decision and informed the public. The recommendations of the Committee led to the establishment of the Metric Conversion
Board, which in turn has led to the proposals which are before us this afternoon.
Senator Poyser referred to the exploitation and abuse which could occur in the changeover to the metric system of measurement. This matter has been brought to the notice of the Government by not only Senator Keeffe and Senator Poyser but also other people in the community. It is possible that some people will seek to take advantage of the change. The Government is conscious of that. Reference has been made to the advantages to this country both now and in the future as a result of the changeover to the metric system of weights and measures. I think that is completely true. At the same time, I acknowledge Senator Poyser’s statement that any one who is a part of the old world of living will experience slight difficulties in adjusting to the new world. Like Senator Poyser, 1 will rely upon my 5 grandchildren to take me in hand and lead me through this very difficult period whilst at the same time extracting money from myself and my wife for their future progress.
As Senator Poyser quite rightly pointed out, these measures should be taken together. They attach themselves substantially to metrication in the important area of the measurement of alcohol, both beer and spirits. I think it is quite correct to say that these measures should be taken together. It is for that reason that I agreed to that course. There has been no opposition to these measures. Before I sit down I must say that once again I feel emboldened to commend the Department of Customs and Excise for continuing to follow the practice of circulating with Bills concerning its administration a table of explanations of the clauses. I think that is a very worth while way in which to produce information for the benefit of members of Parliament. I value it and I know that my colleagues do also. As there is no opposition to these measures, I think the question should be put on them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27 April (vide page 1377), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27 April (vide page 1377), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27 April (vide page 1377), on motion by Senator Cotton:
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 27 April (vide page 1378), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That theBill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
(No. 2) 1972
Consideration resumed from 27 April (vide page 1378), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second lime, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 26 April (vide page 1 340), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill but it takes the opportunity to make a couple of short statements in relation to the loan, the financial position of this developing country and one or two minor matters. Honourable senators may have forgotten some of the background to this Bill and 1 think perhaps I should clarify the situation. In the first paragraph of his second reading speech the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) set out. the purpose of the Bill. The Minister stated:
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the provision of a guarantee by the Commonwealth to a$US4.5m - $A3.8m - borrowing by the Administration of Papua New Guinea from the Asian Development Bank.
Papua New Guinea was admitted to membership of the Asian Development Bank in April last year. The Australian Labor Party consistently has said in previous debates of this nature that borrowings for Papua New Guinea ought to be made available from areas other than Australia. Whilst we may have been vocal in our criticism from time to time of the interest rates attached to some loan borrowings which have come from various sources for developmental projects in Papua New Guinea, there was a time when the Government was very strongly opposed to money coming from other countries or, if it was not strongly opposed, it certainly never gave any encouragement to that course being followed. A completely different picture now has developed in this country as a result of the recent election campaign and the conclusions reached by the people and the political parties which took part in it.
Mr Michael Somare, the chief spokesman for the new Pangu Party coalition government, has been extremely outspoken since he arrived in Australia a few days ago in relation to the provision of additional finance for the development of his country, lt is not difficult to paint a picture, for those who are familiar with the area, of the requirements of this great new land. It would appear that the coalition government which has been elected will be a very stable government. I think it is equally apparent to many people that the government of the Territory knows where it is going. There was great fear in the ranks of the Australian Government because of the self-determination campaign being carried on in the Territory. The position in that regard now has been spelled out in very clear terms.
Not only should aid of this nature be encouraged; there is also a responsibility upon Australia to do a great number of things, particularly during the next 6 to 12 months, which will aid the new government and which will keep intact the bond of friendship that we have known now for many years, which will indicate that Australia supports the development of the Territory and which will be a vast change from what we have done over the last 50 years during which the Australian tendency has been to exploit the Territory without mercy.
We have a bunch of pretty good public servants in Papua New Guinea who want to know where they are going in the future. One of the problems that I see facing us today is the phasing out of the Australian Public Service in the Territory and those officers of the Public Service who have been seconded or who have established themselves in the Territory. This is a matter of prime importance for the Australian Government. Probably this could be regarded irrelevant to the Bill, but in fact it is not; it is very much part and parcel of the changeover that is taking place there today. If the Government of New Guinea wants the senior men from this country, the expatriates, to stay on there for an indefinite or for a limited period, the position of the people about whom we are concerned, the senior expatriates, should be looked at in a more responsible manner. There ought to be some sort of established portability of benefits and status in the Public Service. If we had such a scheme the transition would be much smoother. People in senior positions would not be worried about trying to obtain employment in some other sphere, perhaps well away from the Territory. They would be prepared to see it out and to act in the way in which they should act to help the new government establish itself throughout the country.
It is possible that the coalition government, or perhaps some succeeding government, may desire in the future to seek capital from other than this country, and the areas in which the Territory has been able to obtain loans in the last two or three years, if we do not encourage the Australian people, through this Government, to provide the necessary amount of finance. I hope that somewhere along the line the Department of External Territories will conduct an extensive survey to determine just how much Australia can increase its aid. If we cannot give aid by means of direct grants or by the means currently being used then the possibility of additional loans from the coffers of Australia ought to be examined in detail. In view of the debt that we owe to the people of the Territory I see no reason why we should not be prepared to do something more in this regard than we are doing at the moment.
This loan of $3. 8m in Australian currency is not a very large one. It will be helpful but it represents only a drop in the ocean compared with the amount of money that will be needed. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that in the future some of the Australian based business interests with branches in the Territory will not operate in the manner in which they operate now. Nothing has been said at this point of time by the Government or by people in responsible positions in the Territory to indicate that there are going to be major changes; but politics is a pragmatic field and I think we have to be realistic in examining the policies of this country and the Territory. There must come a time in the future when there will be lesser financial holdings in all parts of the Territory. I hope we will see no more developments of the type currently taking place in Bougainville in which the local people have a minimum of the returns from the mining while people outside the country get the maximum in profits. This goes right across the board. It is apparent in the copra industry, the cocoa industry and the coffee industry. In fact it is seen in every aspect of primary industry there. The people of the Territory cannot be selfsupporting unless they are able to develop their own industries for their own people.
There will be a time, perhaps in the not too distant future, when secondary industry will be developed beyond the embryonic stage at which it stands at the moment. There is no reason why a nation of almost 2.5 million people cannot develop its own secondary industries. Undoubtedly in the early stages some financial assistance from outside the country will be necessary. Loans such as the one dealt with in this Bill, which is being made available by the Asian Development Bank, might well be the forerunner of other loans from similar areas that will result in the establishment, of secondary industries in that country. I hope that as we march down the corridors of time this Government will carry out an in-depth examination of how much additional assistance can be given. I am sure that the government that will replace this Government later this year will make a far greater contribution, financial and otherwise, to the Territory of Papua New Guinea than we have seen over the last 20 years.
– The Democratic Labor Party supports the Papua New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank) Bill. Obviously the steps of the people of Papua New Guinea towards independence will require development, and for development capital must be available. 1 noticed that the present delegation from the Territory which is visiting Australia is holding talks with our Government about the financial question. 1 hope that those talks will be satisfactorily resolved.
Senator Gair and I today had the pleasure of meeting members of the delegation aud discussed the future with them. If those discussions can be taken as an example, Australia should have nothing to fear about the future development of that country. They impressed us with their arguments and statements. They made singular common sense. It was quite obvious that they appreciated the seriousness of the problems before them. It was obvious also that there was no desire on their part to completely cut the painter with Australia. There was a feeling that the future association between Australia and New Guinea would be for the benefit of both sides. There are people in the community who wonder about this aspect. They say, quite rightly, that New Guinea faces very serious problems in the future. I hope that the feeling of pessimism held by some people will not. be justified and I hope that the optimism expressed by others will be shown to be soundly based. I think that among the Australian people generally there is a feeling of good will towards the new nation which will come into being before long.
Finally, I want to say that 1 do not agree with Senator Keeffe that the history of Australia’s association with New Guinea has been merely one of merciless exploitation. We may have made some mistakes. Most countries which had colonial territories under their control made mistakes, but my feeling is that even allowing for those mistakes, Australia has nothing to be ashamed of in what it has done to develop that Territory and to bring it to the threshhold of independence.
– I would like to express gratification for this Bill which will provide a guarantee for a loan to Papua New Guinea. The amount involved, $3. 8m, is not insignificant. The money will be of real assistance to this emerging country in its own right. 1 am very proud to note what has been achieved in Papua New Guinea by Australia and its governments through the years. I think that we have a record of achievement in Papua New Guinea which is a source of gratification and pride. We have achieved there something that is acclaimed throughout the world as being an operation which has assisted the indigenous people mightily.
We have the best of relations with the peoples of the Territory. Our record has not been one of exploitation of the peoples, as has been suggested by Senator Keeffe and refuted by Senator McManus. I think that great benefit has accrued to the local peoples from the investments that have been made in Papua New Guinea Certainly, there could be individual instances and situations which could be regarded as untoward and unfortunate. But on the whole - I want to stress this point - we have a proud record in that country, lt is good to see the good feelings that exist now. I wish this young, virile and emerging country well in its future development. I hope that for many generations ahead we shall have close and happy associations with Papua New Guinea, as we have had in the past. I have pleasure in supporting this Bill.
– The Opposition supports the Papua New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank) Bill 1972. I rise to say a few words on our relationship with Papua New Guinea. That relationship is undergoing rapid change. The policy of my Party is in accordance with that rapidly changing relationship. If elected in the forthcoming elections as the government of Australia, the Australian Labor Party will take steps to ensure the orderly and secure transfer of Papua New Guinea to self-government and independence in its first term of office.
The changing relationships will bring many problems. Some of those are already manifest. In the new relationships which will develop we will have to find solutions, for example, to the problem of currency. At the moment, the currency of Papua New Guinea is the Australian currency. Obviously, we will have to make arrangements about that.
Facilities of the Australian Government are operating in Papua New Guinea. We have many services which are common services. It is clear that solutions will need to be found to the problems of separation of common facilities, such as air facilities, other communications facilities and many other facilities which so far have presented no problem because of the relationship which has existed.
– The honourable senator quoted from his Party’s policy. Does that policy state that his Party hopes to see independence in the first term of office of the new government?
– Is that against the will of Mr Somare, as expressed by him recently?
– I stated the policy of our Party. I do not propose to enter into any question or to accept any statement from the honourable senator as to what might be the policy of the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea. The problems which will confront Australia will be many. The problems which will confront Papua New Guinea will be many. We may have our observations on affairs in Papua New Guinea. We are entitled to make those observations at this stage of our relationship. For example, I think that there is a great deal of force in the reflections of the economist who recently doubted the policy of the development of a cash crop economy in the way it is being done in Papua New Guinea.
Of course, in the future, questions such as that will be entirely for the new nation and not for us to consider or debate in the Senate. There will be other questions of the same nature. For some little time at any rate, there will be questions which will be of joint interest. One of those is the question of the army in Papua New Guinea. I am aware that on this subject matter in the new nation, through its Chief Minister and, as I understand it from my discussions on my recent trip to Papua New Guinea, through the representatives of the other parties, there is a concordance that they do not want a third battalion in the armed services of Papua New Guinea. On a subject such as that, where the wishes are so clearly expressed, the policy of the Australian Labor Party would be. of course, to defer entirely to the wishes of those who represent the new nation. There would be no thought whatever that an Australian government should do other than act in accordance with the wishes of the new nation.
Many other matters may require discussion and resolution. The policy of a Labor government clearly would be to negotiate on matters which needed resolution. Such negotiations should take place between equals. Indeed, it may be necessary that the negotiations on some matters should await independence in order that they be between equals and that there be fair dealing between the nations of Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is curious that Australia is going through the process, which might seem legally impossible, of seeing that there emerges a Papua New Guinea which is free and independent, and independent to a higher degree than Australia is. It is contemplated that the new Papua New Guinea will be truly independent. There will be a free and independent Papua New Guinea, yet Australia will remain with a degree of dependence upon Great Britain. That should not bc tolerated in the modern world. We will still have a Constitution which provides for appeals to the Privy Council. A day or two ago I noticed a Press report that the Privy Council had given leave to hear an appeal from the High Court of Australia on a State tax matter. We know that under the provisions of the Statute of Westminster Act it is still possible for the imperial Parliament to pass laws affecting our nation. This has been done. We know that there is a peculiar area in the Executive field in which it is claimed that a kind of prerogative still resides in the British authorities instead of in the Australian authorities. That astonishing result will be reached when Australia helps to bring about a free and independent Papua New Guinea.
I make those observations because wc look forward to the emergence of the new nation and to having, for example, a treaty of friendship and a mutual defence arrangement with it if it is so inclined. We would want an enduring relationship of harmony, friendship and goodwill between our nations. We support the Bill because it is a step towards assisting the emerging nation with its financial affairs.
attempted to state the policy of the Australian Labor Party in relation to Papua New Guinea. 1 imagine that is what Hansard will reflect. I prompted him to tell me what that policy actually was. I think the record will show that he immediately veered away from the question altogether. He was unable to state the present policy of the Opposition in relation to independence for Papua New Guinea. This is a most complex problem. Over the years in which Australia has had control of the Territory of Papua New Guinea, the time limit on when that country should become independent and on when there should be a peaceful move towards independence probably has been a significant question which has exercised the minds of Ministers in this country. It certainly has exercised the minds of the excellent Administrators in the Territory. No doubt thinking people in the Federal Parliament have been greatly concerned about Australia’s action in this matter.
I feel that I can take some pride in having had an interest in the Territory for a great number of years. On Tuesday night I made certain comments about my background in the Territory. I remember that in 1952, I think it was, I tramped through the Territory and had much to do with many of the indigenous people. I was greatly pleased with the friendships that I made. Since 1963 I have visited the Territory each year. 1 acknowledge that a visit to the Territory does not make one an authority on the Territory; one has to live in the Territory to understand fully the problems that are there. But perhaps more so than many other members of the Federal Parliament I have had a deep connection with the indigenous people and with expatriates who live in the Territory, in many instances expatriates who are devoted to the progress of the Territory in a manner which they think will be for the good of the community.
I had the pleasure of attending, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, the recent opening of the Territory House of Assembly. I hope that my remarks on this matter will be taken as a personal view that I gained from attending the opening of the House and as a personal view of an event which occurred on that day. I state my own view. I hope it is a fair view. If anybody wishes to prompt me as to what actually occurred, I would be very pleased that that be done. I believe that to some extent the enormous problems that face Papua New Guinea were prompted by the comments of leaders of political parties in the Territory, particularly those of Mr Michael Somare. Because I knew that Senator Murphy was most anxious to be associated with Mr Somare on the day of the opening of the House, 1 asked the honourable senator to state his Party’s policy on independence for the Territory. On the day that the House was opened I think I was photographed with Mr Somare prior to Senator Murphy’s arrival. The honourable senator was most anxious that he and some of his Labor colleagues should hit the headlines before 1 did.
My understanding is that the Pangu Party had said that it wished to see independence in the Territory in a very short time. I believe that this was the policy on which it purported to go to the people of Papua New Guinea. It was elected on that policy as a major party in the House. My understanding, from being in Port Moresby the day after the House of Assembly opened, was that Mr Somare - I have not his words with me - made a comment along the lines that he did not want the Australian Government to press independence on the Territory before the Territory was prepared for it. Today I was interested in what Senator Murphy was trying to say because for 6 months, or perhaps for less than 6 months, Senator Murphy and the Opposition have been attempting to force the Australian Administration into granting independence to the Territory on the demand of the Pangu Party or whoever may have been its leader. The leading intelligent individuals in the Papua New Guinea Parliament - Mr Michael Somare is one - have stated that they do not want the Australian Administration to press Papua New Guinea into independence before it is ready. I think we should note those words well.
The difficulties of those who have been elected to the House of Assembly can be appreciated only by people with some knowledge of the inhabitants of the Territory. Whilst I was at Mount Hagen in the week before the opening of the House, a person who had been deeply concerned with that area for 20 years said, when I asked him for his view of the understanding of the people of the election, that approximately 80 per cent of the individ uals entitled to vote would have voted. He believed that of that number 30 per cent fully understood what the election was about. I heard that repeated in Madang when I spent a day there as a representative of the Commonwealth at the Anzac Day dawn service. In justification of that comment I might add that on the day of the opening of the House of Assembly I attended with a delegation of representatives of the 2 major parties in the Federal Parliament. After the opening I found that all the seats in the general galleries were taken and I took a seat in the Press gallery. I was interested to observe the procedure during the first 3 divisions.
I did not take notes but it is my recollection that several times when the request was made ‘Those in favour say aye’, a number of members said ‘aye’ and a division was called for. The clerks then approached the various seat groupings and, as 1 understood it, marked the names of the members who had said ‘aye’. They then returned to their seats and the request was put ‘Those against say no’. A body of members stood and pronounced ‘no’. The clerks again approached and marked the names of those who had voted against the motion. To those of us in the Press gallery it was evident that a number of members who had voted in favour of the motion stood again and voted against it. I am not in any way speaking against the method that was adopted. Undoubtedly it is difficult in the early stages of a parliament to achieve full understanding, but what interested me was the possible effect on the voting.
– Were the numbers announced?
– I have stated the way in which I believe the vote was taken. On speaking later to one of those in charge it was indicated to me that the clerks had moved down to note the names of the members who had voted in favour and it was verified that a member had voted in favour of and also against the motion. That may surprise members of this Parliament but it caused no surprise there. I was told that, if a member had voted in favour and stood to vote against, he was approached and asked whether he had voted in favour and whether it was his intention to have his name recorded as voting in favour. However, I stress to honourable senators that his name had already been recorded as voting in favour of the motion.
From my position of vantage it seemed to me that it would have been very difficult to conduct a conversation with individuals who are most unfamiliar with the English language. It would be very hard to make them fully understand the question that was being put to them. I have described that experience in conjunction with my point that it is most difficult fully to understand the New Guinea people. I believe that when a number of members who had joined with the Pangu Party in coalition returned from the House of Assembly to their electorates they would find it most difficult to justify that coalition. Great difficulties are related to the general running of the House of Assembly. I believe that the Commonwealth Government has been most correct in its attitude. It does not wish to force independence on the Territory of Papua New Guinea. Several Ministers for External Territories have confirmed that when the people of the Territory request independence it will be handed to them.
On one matter 1 find myself in agreement with Senator Murphy. He referred to attempts to equate a cash economy with general community living. I spent some days in Mount Hagen. I said earlier this week that I was able to travel into some of the real back country of the highlands and I was able to establish contact with a great number of people there. A branch of the Administration has been set up there in an effort to assist the natives to understand general business principles so that they may run their own small businesses. My word, some of the natives are most capable in what they attempt to do. They are very good and shrewd businessmen but there is a belief that great distress will be caused amongst the natives in the area where business advice is being given on how to keep records and to conduct a business. There is a misunderstanding as to the outcome when they enter into businesses. I journeyed 50 miles into the area known as the Mul-Dei Council and to the Baiyer River area. There I saw about 50 tin huts of about 6 feet by 6 feet set up in the expectation that natives will conduct busin esses in them. The general belief is that they can buy goods and find out what a cash economy is all about.
They buy goods, set up business and wait for customers to come along the road. In tribal relationships in the area the difficulties that beset native businessmen are enormous. It is conceded that family groups - ‘wuntoks’ as they are known - have the right to live on and have whatever may be the property of their own families or tribal groups. Some individuals are basically incapable of running businesses as we understand them and honourable senators may gauge what may follow from the situation I have described. The problems of stocktaking and accounting for money can be understood only through a full and thorough knowledge of the individuals. I certainly do not have such a knowledge of the people of Papua New Guinea. I believe that financial assistance in a substantial form will be required not only from the Australian Government and the Asian Bank but also from other countries which will be encouraged to assist in many ways.
I have not heard the Commonwealth Government at any stage acknowledge the assistance that is being given in the Territory by the Canadian Government. I think it has surprised most members of Parliament. I do not speak with great authority but it appears to me that it may have surprised many Ministers that cash is flowing from the Canadian Government to certain philanthropic institutions in the Territory. I do not know - and I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) through his advisers to inform the Senate on this - whether any other government is assisting in such a manner. This is a most wonderful contribution at the grass roots level of assistance for the well-being of the people of Papua New Guinea. With those few words, I fully support this Bill and I hope-
– Would the honourable senator amplify the reference to financial assistance from the Canadian Government? It is a matter which takes me by surprise.
– I do not doubt that it does take a number of honourable senators by surprise. I have suggested to the Minister that perhaps the Government should make some comment and be thankful to the Canadian Government and its High Commissioner in Canberra, Mr Arthur Menzies, that this is happening. I believe, that the Government should give some publicity to this fact. But this has not happened since the day Pierre Trudeau came to this Parliament and made some passing comment during a speech at a parliamentary dinner. I will not go into the matter. It refers to the encouragement which an association with which I am most familiar has received, firstly, from a Vancouver association which in turn encouraged one of the Canadian grant authorities to provide money to the YMCA in Australia so that that money might be used in Papua New Guinea. At the present time, that money is paid directly to Papua New Guinea. A great deal is being done in Papua New Guinea by a number of organisations. Great work is being carried out by the Australian Administration through Mr Johnson, which, I believe, can only reflect great credit on this Commonwealth. I support this legislation.
Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) (4.571 - in reply - The purpose of this Bill is specifically to provide a guarantee by the Commonwealth to the Asian Development Bank in respect of a loan of money to the Papua New Guinea Development Bank. But. in the process of examining this fairly simple measure, we have heard quite a wide ranging series of observations. Senator Keeffe made the comment that Australia had exploited Papua New Guinea without mercy. I thought that that comment was unfortunate and quite unnecessary and did nothing for anybody. The good work that Australia has done in Papua New Guinea for so many years, both under Liberal-Country Party governments and under Labor governments, deserves something better than that, as do the men who have served that country in its Public Service over many years and equally in the area of developing its economy.
The observation was made that the need existed to have some security of tenure for Australian public servants who serve and work in Papua New Guinea. That need is well known and the Government is more than conscious of it. It is working on the situation with the people of Papua New Guinea. Senator Keeffe observed that a Labor government would do some wonderful and more generous things. Senator Webster commented that the people of Papua New Guinea are both astute and practical. They have great common sense. They will be little persuaded to spend extra sums of money in the vain hope that some future Labor government is likely to assist them. They are realists. They know that, that is never likely to happen.
I would think that we would all have great goodwill towards the people of Papua New Guinea. This has been demonstrated through the years. I do not think that any problem exists in this respect. I do not think that the people who have suddenly discovered that we have great goodwill for these people have discovered anything new. This goodwill has existed always in Australia. There is great association and great friendship between Australia and Papua New Guinea. We would all want this feeling to prosper and to grow. I do not think that anyone wishes to be singled out for specific credit in this area. This is something that all the people of Australia believe in and work for.
Senator Murphy made some comments about the need for a new relationship. This speaks for itself. It is happening, is it not? He dealt also with the need for a solution to the problem of the separation of common services and common facilities. This study has been going on for some time. There are areas of common association and common work. Civil aviation is one. The thought is not new that some development will take place leading towards increased activity, through time, by the people of Papua New Guinea. This is welcomed, understood and worked for. The Department of Civil Aviation quite a long time ago set up a college in the Port Moresby area to train people to higher levels of responsibility. We are happy to do this.
Senator Murphy also made the observation that the need could arise for a separate currency for Papua New Guinea. This is something that only the future will determine. The note issue problems which may need to be contemplated in an economy such as that of Papua New Guinea may well be ones on which we could continue to provide help. That will be a matter for the future. I do not see that it presents a problem. I think that it is an observation that Senator Murphy makes. I do not think one has it in contemplation that it will be any cause of friction or trouble. Senator Murphy did develop to quite some extent a number of views on policy and attitudes towards relationships. He expressed himself most clearly on what policy would be, in his view. With Senator Webster, I noted all of those observations with considerable interest for future reference.
Speaking for myself, I have few observations to make. I have not been to Papua New Guinea very often, but I have been there. I see one of the great needs to be to develop, both sensibly and properly, tile requirement for an economically viable country that will be capable of being self-sustaining at some point in time in its own right. That is the aim that I would hope we would do everything that we could to assist Papua New Guinea to achieve. Those honourable senators who interest themselves in the problems of Papua New Guinea will know that the Australian National University has had for quite a long time a very good New Guinea research unit which studies in detail many of the problems in Papua New Guinea and seeks to help. The work of that unit will be familiar to those people who study that country and the things that happen there.
I found the contribution made by Senator Webster most interesting. I enjoyed listening to him. 1 was impressed very much with the fact that he has spent 20 years of his life unobtrusively and without ostentation going to the country every year, learning of the country and doing what he can to help, to understand it and to be friends with its people. I think that his activities have been, to say the least, an admirable exercise, I wish to pay my personal tribute to him for what he has done.
The legislation that we have before us is a straight forward measure. What it is all about is known to each of us. We now confine ourselves to the purpose for which we are here. The purpose of the Bill is to approve a Commonwealth guarantee of a loan of $US4.5rn- $A3.8m - to the Papua
New Guinea Administration from the Asian Development Bank. The proceeds of
I he loan are for relending to the Papua New Guinea Development Bank and will meet foreign currency expenditure on development projects financed by :he Development Bank in Papua New Guinea. The Bank itself in Papua New Guinea is a statutory authority. This is the first loan that the Asian Development Bunk has made to the Administration and it follows the admission of the Papua New Guinea Development Bank to the Asian Development Bank last year. So, this is the first occasion on which this Parliament has been asked to approve a guarantee by the Commonwealth of a loan to the Papua New Guinea Administration. The Act will come into force when it receives the royal assent. The definitions, I do not think, add anything to the argument.
There are regulations which set forth the conditions generally applicable to loans made by the Bank from its special fund resources. These were tabled with the Bill. The regulations set out certain procedures for drawing the loan and computing the interest and other charges and for loan repayments. The letters of assurance which have been tabled here are the ones that give the base for this loan to be approved and for the borrowings to be guaranteed. There are letters of undertaking and assurance which give the undertakings to overseas lenders, as is normal.
The Bill has a First Schedule which sets out the text of the letters of assurance. The Second Schedule to the Bill contains a point of some interest. The loan will carry an interest rate of 3 per cent per annum. Its life will be 15 years. Repayments will commence after 3 years. It is noted that the Australian Government is guaranteeing the loan and that the rate of interest is 3 per cent. I think that people would regard those facts as some evidence, and continuing evidence, of the willingness of the Australian Government and people to do what they can to help Papua New Guinea. The Papua New Guinea Development Bank is required to use the proceeds of the loan, relent to it, exclusively for making loans for the purpose of projects. The Bank undertakes that it will carry out the projects with due diligence. These are always conditions of Asian Development Bank loans - indeed, of most development bank loans. That, I think, is the broad pattern of the measure. It is, as 1 said when I began, specifically to approve the Commonwealth guarantee of a loan of $US4.5m to be appropriated to the Papua New Guinea Development Bank.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 27 April (vide page 1376) on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is essentially of a technical nature. It concerns certain alterations to he made to the Act in respect of tonnage measurements relating to merchant ships. In that respect the Bill is not opposed by the Opposition, although an amendment is to be circulated. The only criticism that i feel can be made legitimately is that the Government has taken so long to amend the Act.
Back in 1967 the Opposition levelled a good deal of criticism at the Government for its tardiness in dealing with matters concerning the Act. This covered facts in relation to the International Labour Organisation agreements. Generally the Government has not been mindful of the rapid changes that are taking place in this industry. I am aware that the Act is currently being revised and I understand that within 12 or 18 months a new Act will be brought down for consideration, ft is indeed a pity that within the past 3 years Australian shippers, particularly on the north-bound Japanese trade, have been under a liability as a result of these measures not having been introduced earlier. The Minister said in his second-reading speech that there was an urgent need for Australian shippers engaged in overseas trade to be able to take advantage of the tonnage marking scheme on a similar basis to their competitors. The sooner this is done, the sooner they will be .satisfied. I stress the urgent need expressed by the Minister.
Overseas shipping is of tremendous importance to Australia. As my time is somewhat limited 1 shall have to make only a brief appraisal of the matter. This debate gives senators a rare opportunity to consider the position of the conferences and the situation of Australian overseas shippers, particularly those concerned in the export of wool and other primary products. 1 am sure that no-one would question the importance of overseas shipping to our economy generally. The actual cost to Australia of sending its goods overseas in non-Australian vessels is a matter for some debate, lt could be said that, this cost is at least $300m a year, and a figure as high as $800m a year has been quoted. Overseas shipping is almost entirely tied up by the conference system, which has operated almost throughout this century. The conferences are essentially cartels. They are non-competitive. They have been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny in this country over the past few years by individual bodies, individuals and firms, but not by the Commonwealth Government. In spite of this, I am sure the Government itself would not argue on the importance of this aspect of our overseas trade. The fact is. however, that the Government has made no concerted effort to look at this question.
In 1970 the Australian Woolgrowers Council appointed a shipping committee. This committee’s general task was to look at means whereby wool might be exported more cheaply. In its first report to the Council the committee made this comment about conference operations. I quote from page 6 of the report:
The report of the Committee of Inquiry into Shipping under the Chairmanship of the Rt Hon. Viscount Rochdale, O.B.E., T.D., D.L., which was presented to the British Parliament by the President of the Board of Trade in May 1970 deals at some length with conferences and the operations of conferences. The report describes a conference as meaning ‘any type of formal or informal agreement between shipowners which restricts competition. There is in practice great diversity in the content and practical effects of conference agreements. Some conferences have formal written agreements and secretariats responsible for their day to day operations.’
The important thing is that here is virtually a system operated largely - almost entirely - by non-Australians who play a very big role in the export potential and capability of this country. The conference system has advantages: it would be idle to deny this. They provide rebates for shippers. These are known as loyalty rebates. This means that if the shipper sticks to the agreement with the conference he gets a discount of a particular amount. The conference provides regularity of service. Shippers look for 2 main things - cheap freight rates, or as cheap as they can obtain, and regularity of service. To a degree, the conference provides both of these things.
The conferences are of 2 types - the closed conference and the open conference. The closed conference particularly is the one which dictates the terms and conditions of export and import of goods. Newcomers are not allowed into the conference. An open conference of course does accept newcomers. The Americans will not allow closed conferences to trade to the United States. They realise how much danger there is to their economy, so they have imposed certain restrictions on the various conferences trading to the United States. They had the wisdom to do this some years ago.
There has been a long history of argument and discussion between the Australian Tonnage Committee in London, which represents the British and European shipowners, and the Australia to Europe Shippers Association. The Australian Tonnage Committee has, of course, the trump cards. It has a greater research facility, lt has also greater economic power. Consequently shippers from Australia have always been at a disadvantage in their ability to engage with the Australian Tonnage Committee in London. The Commonwealth has taken a passive role in this area. It has stood by all these years while the conference system has dominated our overseas trade. Over the years the Canadians have appointed two royal commissions to look into conference operations in Canada. The Australian Wool Growers Shipping Committee criticises the lack of Federal involvement in conference shipping. It is evident from reading that Committee’s report that a good deal of research has gone into it. It is a report which I think should be read by all those who are interested in conference shipping generally. I shall quote again from page 15 of the report which refers to the degree to which we in this country are not in a position, under the present arrangements, to determine factors which are of vital concern. I shall quote directly from the report because I think this matter ought to be spelt out. It states:
The method whereby AESA-
That is the Australia-Europe Shipowners Association - determines whether there should be changes in the rate of freight downwards 01 upwards (but historically upwards), was for reference to be made to a firm of accountants in London. Messrs Whinney, Murray and Co., acting on behalf of FEOTC (as it then was) and Thomson, McClintock and Co., Chartered Accountants, London, acting on behalf of the Australian Tonnage Committee-
Which represents the ship owners - examined the audited returns submitted to them by member lines of the ATC in order to annually determine the freight adjustment required in accordance wilh the formula agreed between FEOTC and ATC in 1964. The returns showing the results of certain defined voyages undertaken by the lines’ fleets during the accountancy year were prepared and audited in accordance with instructions issued by the joint accountants.
At no stage in the provision of ships at different capital costs, and with variable efficiency of receiving, carrying and delivering cargo, are the actual costs of each shipping line in each link of the operation disclosed.
In the Committee’s opinion one of (he weaknesses of the system is that it benefits the efficient shipowners to have inefficient shipowners in the conference. There has been no way of assessing, on the basis of the figures available, the efficiency of individual cargo shipping lines.
This is the situation which exists at the present time. We have a series of members of the various conference lines, some of which are probably quite efficient and others of which are not so efficient. Naturally the more inefficient ones are causing freight rates to be raised to a level which is not in the interests of Australia. Much of the information in the Committee’s report is not exactly new. It has been known for many years that certain lines have been carried by the conference. This has been one of the factors in rising freight rates over the years. Another interesting fact is that the recently appointed Bureau of Transport Economics has also looked at this matter, particularly in relation to the handling of wool, lt has some very important points to make. But an important point is - I believe this is oi great importance to the Parliament and it is a factor which has not been given consideration by the Federal Government - that a head-on clash has now occurred between the conference lines and the shippers. Obviously this has affected things. The Australian Wool Board is negotiating contracts to ship wool overseas in its own right on a contract basis outside the conference lines. As wool is such an important factor one asks what will happen to the conference system if one of its main sources of revenue is taken from it. That is what we have to face up to. It could well mean that the whole system of overseas shipping to Australia could be at a point of break down.
As a nation we have never properly investigated what is happening in this respect. There has never been an inquiry. We have left it entirely in the hands of shipowners to make these determinations despite the fact that the Australian Woolgrowers Council, the Australian Wool Board and other people have taken the initiative. They realised that someone had to do something because the Federal Government has wiped its hands of overseas shipping to Australia. We have had a Restrictive Trade Practices Act which has no teeth in it despite the fact that we are given assurances that alterations will be made shortly. It is my view that before very long this matter will need to be referred to one of the Senate committees, presumably the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade. A great deal of information is available. I do not know why the Commonwealth has abrogated its responsibility in this area. There may be pressures on it not to interfere. But we should not and must not allow overseas interests such as ship owners or anybody else to dictate to us the cost of exporting our goods. I hope that before this year is out the Federal Government will see the wisdom of involving itself directly in this area and that it will ensure that Australian interests are protected to a greater degree than they have been in the past.
– in reply - When Senator Wriedt began he said that the Navigation Bill was a technical measure relating to tonnage measurement. This is indeed correct. He said that the Australian Labor Party had no objection to the Bill at all in relation to tonnage measurement. Therefore the Bill, as proposed by the Government, in its tonnage aspects is one with which it would agree, 1 take it. On the other hand the honourable senator proposes to circulate an amendment. It contains various observations which the honourable senator thought should have some attention paid to them. He involves himself in quite a train of criticism about this. Therefore it will be appreciated that I am dealing only with the amendment which the Labor Party proposes. As I see it, it contains 4 areas. The first area relates to an amendment to the Navigation Act to comply with International Labour Organisation arrangements and the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation Conventions. The second area is related to adequate protection for Australian shipping interests. The third area is concerned with effective safety operations as promised in August 1967 by the Minister. The fourth area concerns the failure to provide an Australian register of shipping.
As would be understood, in my representative capacity I have notes from the advisers who are with me in the hope that this will be sufficient to deal with the matters raised by Senator Wriedt. The Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation deals with effective safely operations. As I understand it, in 1967 the Navigation Act was amended to give effect to a convention on the safety of life at sea. In 1968 the Act was amended to give effect to the loadline convention. Of course it is also a safety provision. Other Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation conventions are not yet in force internationally. I imagine that it would be true that we would accede to them when they are in force internationally. We do accede to them when that takes place. It seems to me that the criticism there is not justified. I wish to be eminently fair, as I always am. The International Labour Organisation deals with some of these matters. Of the 53 international conventions which apply in the maritime field, 11 have been negotiated within the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation framework. Only 6 of the 11 are in force. Australia has ratified 5 of them. Action is in hand to ratify the sixth which deals with the facilitation of international maritime traffic.
The remaining 5 conventions have been drawn up quite recently - 3 in 1969 and 2 in 1971. Between them they have attracted only 11 ratifications so far. Some 21 of these 53 are International Labour Organisation conventions of which 18 are in force and 6 of these have been ratified by Australia. Australia has also ratified 3 ILO conventions not yet in force. Ratification of ILO conventions has frequently to await compliance by the States. The position in relation to ratification of ILO conventions by Australia has been explained on a number of occasions in the past. I refer here to question No. 49, Hansard of 7th May 1970, page 1877 and question No. 43, Hansard of 12th June 1970, page 3595. The remaining 21 conventions have resulted from general or diplomatic maritime conferences and 14 are in force. Australia has ratified 7 of them. Whilst action is in hand to move towards ratification of others, there are a number which have been in existence for many years but are virtually obsolete as they have attracted little international interest or support. They are of little or no interest to Australia and are not likely to be ratified. The attitude of the Government towards ratification of maritime conventions is to retain a balance between the advance adoption of safety standards and the economics of ship operations. Its general aim is to ratify conventions at about the same time as they receive general recognition and come into force internationally. Particular care is taken to ensure that legislative action to give effect to conventions is completely thorough. This often makes a rather lengthy drafting process unavoidable.
As to an Australian register of shipping the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) indicated quite recently - on 20th March - that substantial further progress has been made towards the preparation of this complex new legislation. It is not an easy matter. It would involve cutting loose from over 40 years of British law. We would have to establish an Australian registry within Australian conditions and legal framework. The Parliamentary Counsel is at the moment drafting the legislation. In August 1967 the Commonwealth undertook to take into account - I emphasise the words ‘take into account’ - the proposals of the transport committee of the Australian Labor Party, which incorporated some convention and other general shipping practice matters, when a general review is next made of the Navigation Act. Senator Wriedt has reinforced the earlier request.
A complete review is being made of the Navigation Act. It was announced in April 1971 that special consultants had been appointed to undertake the review. They have been working for some months now. They are working in consultation with the Department, the industry and the unions to modernise the Navigation Act. The review will include the question of the ratification of conventions which have not already been implemented and of Australian practices already ahead of conventions. It is a complicated issue, as indeed most of the shipping interests seem to be. The Navigation Act is of nearly 400 pages and there are 40-odd sets of regulations. The revision will embrace all aspects of shipping practice and safety. But I should point out that it is regarded by those who are acknowledged as having a great understanding of this field that Australian safety standards are second to none. That is recognised by all parties. Australia has a solid reputation internationally for high standards. In many areas Australian safety requirements are ahead of the convention requirements. For example, the fire protection standards for cargo and passenger ships are more fully defined in the Australian regulations than in the conventions. We are already working in areas which the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation is not yet considering. We are ahead of it in many areas. For example, we are ahead of it in the area of vessels constructed of glass-reinforced plastic.
I do not think that the all-embracing amendment which the Labor Party has foreshadowed Is one that the Government will feel itself disposed to support. The answers I have given on behalf of the Minister for Shipping and Transport are ones which should settle satisfactorily any doubt in anybody’s mind that the Government is not both active and energetic in the field mentioned by the foreshadowed amendment. Accordingly, the Government will riot accept it.
– Mr Deputy President, it has just been pointed out to me that I have not formally moved the amendment I foreshadowed. I seek leave formally to move that amendment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Wriedt’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
(5.36) - by leave - The following statement was made by the Prime Minister, (Mr McMahon) in another place about an hour ago. Honourable senators will understand that where I use the first person singular pronoun it refers to the Prime Minister.
In this House on 9th December 1971, 1 announced measures for additional assistance to both government and independent schools to help them in areas of particular and immediate concern. Honourable members will recall that those proposals, for which legislation has since been enacted, involved unmatched capital grants totalling $20m for government schools in the States over the 18 months to June 1973, together with an increase in the rates of per capita Commonwealth grants towards the running costs of independent schools in the States estimated to cost $9.7m in 1972. There was also an increase in the per capita grants to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The Government has now decided on longer term measures for direct assistance to both government and independent schools throughout Australia. Our decision has been taken against the background of the direct and indirect contribution which the Commonwealth is already making to education in schools. I remind honourable members that under the general financial assistance arrangements with the States, the Commonwealth is meeting approximately half of the recurrent expenditure on government schools. In almost every year for a number of years, the Commonwealth has made a substantial contribution by way of special loans to support the overall works and housing programmes of the States from which the States finance capital construction in schools. State schools have also had the benefit of unmatched Commonwealth capital grants for science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools.
The independent schools in the States have received capital grants from the Commonwealth for science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools. Since 1970 the Commonwealth has been making per capita grants towards the running costs of both primary and secondary independent schools and, under the measures announced last December, those per capita grants were increased to their present rates of $50 per head in primary schools and $68 per head in secondary schools.
Notwithstanding the assistance already being given to the States, we are convinced of the need for the States, on a longer term basis, to devote more resources to the building of new schools and the replacement of outmoded and crowded accommodation than they are likely to be able to make available from their general purpose funds. Therefore, as a measure of assistance which will facilitate forward planning, we have decided to offer unmatched capital grants over a 5-year period for government primary and secondary schools. These grants will commence in July 1973 and carry on when the present $20m programme has been completed. Over the 5 years to June 1978 the Commonwealth will provide $167m, and the annual rate will be $31m in the first 2 years rising to $3 5m in the 3 later years of the programme.
This increase in the annual rate from 1975-76 is in recognition of the fact that the grants specifically for science laboratories will cease in June 1975. It is part of the Commonwealth’s intention that outstanding demands for science laboratories for government schools be met thereafter from within this new programme I have just announced. These unmatched capital grants will be divided among the States on the basis of school enrolments.
Over the 5-year period, each State will receive the following:
As these grants are intended to increase expenditure on school buildings, we wish to have an understanding with each State that it will maintain the present share of total Joan funds being devoted to schools construction. We also wish 70 per cent of the funds to be used for additional facilities rather than replacement facilities. However, beyond these conditions, each State will be free to develop its own programme, including the provision of science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools. It is the Commonwealth’s objective in making these general capital grants to permit flexibility, so that each State can select the priority areas for school construction as it sees them.
I turn now to the position of the independent schools about which the Government has stated its policy position clearly and precisely. Our policy is that, relying on their own efforts and with assistance from governments, the independent schools should be able to continue to provide places at a reasonable standard for that proportion of school population which in the past has sought education in nongovernment schools. It has become increasingly apparent that to give full effect to this policy the independent schools need assurances for the future, including assistance of a capital nature as well as continuing help with running costs on a basis that will take positive account of cost increases.
While the per capita grants towards running costs from both the Commonwealth and the States have been a major factor in keeping existing independent schools in operation, there are many newlydeveloping residential areas where parents are not able to exercise the choice between government and independent schools which is available to them elsewhere. There are also many independent schools which badly need to extend their classroom accommodation and other basic facilities or to replace temporary and outmoded buildings.
To assist in meeting this need for capital facilities, the Government has decided to make available a total of $48m over the 5 years commencing July 1973 in capital grants for the construction of classrooms and associated facilities in independent schools. For the first 2 years, these grants will be at an annual rate of $9m rising to $ 10m in the final 3 years. As with the government schools, the increase in the latter years is in recognition of the fact that the special funds for science laboratories will run out in June 1975.
Let me interpose at this point to explain that although the funds specifically for science laboratories in both government and independent schools will cease in 1975, the special programme for libraries for both government and independent schools for which funds have been approved to December 1974 will continue as an addition to this new general purpose programme because of the large outstanding requirement for libraries in both government and independent schools.
Returning to the capital grants for independent schools, these will be distributed among the States in proportion to enrolments in independent schools on the following basis over the 5 year period:
As for the government schools, it will be a condition of the grants that at least 70 per cent of the funds will be used for additional facilities rather than for replacement facilities. For the independent schools, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will approve the individual projects and authorise the amount of assistance to each of them. It is the Government’s intention that he have advice from a committee of experts on the facilities to be provided in particular schools together with advice from committees in the States on priorities among projects in individual independent schools.
This new measure of Commonwealth capital grants for both .government and independent schools will be the subject of legislation for specific purpose payments of a capital nature to the States. I am inviting the Premiers to accept the grants for their own schools and to co-operate in making payments, as approved by the Commonwealth, for the independent schools.
I come now to the important question of running costs in independent schools. The Commonwealth first entered this field in 1970 to help arrest a financial crisis which had developed for many independent schools. Following a review of the situation with which independent schools would be faced in 1972, we took action at the end of 1971 to increase the rates of our pe : capita grants. In our further consideration of the position of the independent schools, we have been impressed with the fact that they have no guarantees for the future. Although faced with rapidly increasing costs, they have had to rely on decisions taken by Commonwealth and State Governments independently and usually at different times in the spring ot one year about the funds to be available to those schools a few months later when the next school year commences.
Over the last 2 years, running costs in government schools have risen by over #80 per pupil at the primary level and by over $130 per pupil at the secondary level. Many independent schools have had to face even larger increases because of the higher rate of salary increases in their schools. Grants from Governments, although they have been substantially increased, have not kept pace with these increases in costs.
We believe the difficulties facing ‘he independent schools can be resolved if the Commonwealth and the States join in assuring the independent schools that they will receive grants towards running costs on a continuing basis. These grants should be expressed in per capita terms and be set at a nominated percentage of the assessed cost of educating a child in government schools. After careful consideration of the level of support which would be appropriate in all the circumstances, the Government has decided to recommend to each State that it join with the Commonwealth in sharing equally the cost of making per capita grants to independent schools at a rate equivalent to 40 per cent of the assessed Australia-wide cost of educating a child in the government primary and secondary schools. We propose that this arrangement should operate for a period of 5 years from the beginning of 1973 and that the combined Commonwealth and State per capita rates be assessed and announced in the latter part of each calendar year for application from the beginning of the following calendar year.
I have written to the Premiers inviting them to join with the Commonwealth in a joint operation along these lines. I emphasise that the Commonwealth intends to meet its share of the proposed assistance to independent schools irrespective of the decision of the States. We hope that all States will join with the Commonwealth in this new measure because we and they share the responsibility to assist the independent schools. However, the Commonwealth will contribute its full half share from the outset even if a particular State feels obliged to move to its half share of assistance over a period of perhaps 2 or 3 years.
The assessment of the actual rates of assistance will require consultation with the States to determine an appropriate figure for the Australia-wide average of the per capita cost of running government schools. However, as an approximation we would expect that for 1973. the present Australian average of the combined Commonwealth and State per capita grants of around $92 per primary pupil and $119 per secondary pupil would increase to about $125 per primary pupil and $210 per secondary pupil. Putting it another way, the present rates of Commonwealth and State assistance are equivalent to about 29 per cent of the cost of educating a child in a government primary school and 23 per cent for a government secondary school compared with the 40 per cent for both primary and secondary schools the Government now proposes.
The following table illustrates the approximate cost to the Commonwealth and to the States of these increased per capita grants to independent schools in the full year 1973. I reiterate that these figures are subject to detailed assessment.
I am suggesting to the Premiers that my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, the Honourable Malcolm Fraser, discuss the detailed application of these proposals for both government and independent schools with his colleagues in the States. One particular element in these discussions will be the determination of the conditions to be attached to the proposed combined per capita grants to independent schools. Discussions will also be required with the independent school authorities. lt is the Government’s intention to introduce legislation during the Budget session to authorise special purpose grants to the States for these new’ programmes.
These measures represent a new era in Commonwealth aid to all Australian schools. On the one hand we will now be providing general capital grants for the whole fabric of school buildings, both primary and secondary, and on the other hand, we will also be prepared to join with the States in ensuring that independent schools have a guaranteed level of support towards their running costs. We have been impressed by the arguments advanced by the States for their need to have, available general capital funds for their schools so that they might develop programmes tailored to their own individual needs. We have also accepted their argument that they should have a programme extending over a sufficient forward period to enable proper planning and systematic commitment of resources. Likewise we have accepted the arguments put forward by the independent schools about the necessity for assurances of continuing support in the face of cost increases so that they, too, could face the future with confidence in their ability to survive and to expand in step with the growth of the nation.
The Government is satisfied that the new measures I have outlined will represent a milestone in improving the education of all Australian children.
The the Senate take note of the Statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business at 8 p.m.
(8.0) - The first item of General Business on the notice paper is the Merino Rams Export Prohibition Bill 1970. It has been there for a a very long time. I would suggest that, if the Opposition does not want to debate it, the best thing to do would be to remove it from the notice paper.
– The Opposition had in mind not to proceed with that Bill this evening. I understand that a certain course might be taken in regard to the second matter of General Business. Then we could proceed with the third matter, which is the proposed reference to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. So, I move:
That General Business, Order of the Day No. 1, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Health) (8.2) - I want to respond to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). In the circumstances I will agree to the postponement. I would have liked to have had the item removed. But, in the spirit of co-operation which exists in the Senate, I will agree to the postponement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
(8.3) - It is my understanding that order of the day No. 2 was removed from the notice paper today. It dealt with only an interim report. A major report has been presented and the interim report was included in that. So we can remove this item from the notice paper.
Debate resumed from 2 Novemper 1970 (vide page 1859) on motion by Senator Murphy:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare the following matters - The incidence, distribution and causes of primary and secondary poverty in Australia and the adequacy of existing Commonwealth and State social welfare legislation.
(8.5) - This proposed reference to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare was moved on 2nd November 1970. [n this year of grace, 1972, we are a long way from that date. The motion moved by Senator Murphy was as follows:
That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare the following matters - The incidence, distribution and causes of primary and secondary poverty in Australia and the adequacy of existing Commonwealth and State social welfare legislation.
Today the Senate dealt with a report from the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. I can be corrected if I am wrong, but I suggest that that report took a considerable amount of time to come forward.
– It took 8 months.
I am told that it took 8 months. Albeit, it was a first class report. We have before us now a proposed reference to the same Committee. I want to canvass the role of these various committees and to repeat what I have said in the Senate before. The concept of creating these committees was born during the life of this Parliament. It has been demonstrated that they have a role to play. The greatest risk we run with these special committees is if we give them references on which it will be beyond their capacity to bring forward reports in a reasonable time. We all know what happened in relation to another one of these committees. The Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources took more than 3 years to bring down its report.
– That was a select committee.
There is no essential difference between select committees and standing committees in their procedures and the way they deal with matters. I am not talking about the matter of substance at the moment. I am talking about the role of the Senate and the capacity of the Senate in relation to these committees to do a worth while job and to do it in a period of time which makes it valuable in terms of the purposes that the committee set out to achieve. I would say that this proposed reference in its own right, without arguing it, is one which by the very nature of its wording, as it was moved in November 1970 would require a tremendous amount of time from the honourable senators on that committee. This year there is the possibility that other things will happen.
– There will be a change of government.
– Not necessarily a change, but there will be an abortive attempt made by some to achieve change. Be that as it may, the situation is that the time available to the honourable senators to work on these committees may be more restricted this year than perhaps would be the case in the next 3 years. I put it to the Senate that to refer another matter to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare is striking a blow at - perhaps destroying - the very work that these various committees do. That is only part of the story.
I now deal with the references that are being considered already by the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into all aspects of repatriation. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I have sought information from my representatives on the Committee in particular. I am assured that, having regard to the circumstances pertaining this year, ‘he problems existing, apart from the functions Which the Committee has to perform, and the fact that the Budget session will commence in August, it is highly improbable that a report on the reference in relation to repatriation will be presented to the Senate this year. It should also be borne in mind that, if what may happen does happen, the Budget session will not necessarily last as long as some other Budget sessions might last. It is highly probable that the report on the reference in relation to repatriation which the Standing Committee on
Health and Welfare has before it already and which its members are working on may not be presented to the Senate before it adjourns at the end of the Budget session.
The Committee also has another reference. It has a reference in relation to the introduction of a national superannuation scheme. Those who have read the history of politics in Australia since Federation and certainly in the post World War I years know that this question of national superannuation is not one that is likely to be resolved very easily. The implications of a national superannuation scheme have been under discussion in Australia for at least 25 years.
– I would say that it would be longer than that.
– It may be longer than that. Senator Murphy might say that this is a very good reason why the matter should be referred to this Committee. The fact is that I am talking about a time slot. I am sure that no honourable senator would suggest that the Committee would be able to deal with the repatriation reference this year. Do honourable senators think that the Senate will get a report in 1973 from the Standing Committee on the introduction of a national superannuation scheme? I am sure that I will not be here to see that report presented because the magnitude of the issue is such that it will make the performance of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources pale into insignificance.
– Does not that-
Let me make my case. If the motion were carried we would be giving another reference to the Committee, which already is overburdened with references. The Committee does a magnificent and painstaking job, and it could easily take the next 3 or possibly 4 years to complete the references that it already has. Then we would be giving it another reference if the motion were carried. I have made no mention of certain petitions which have been referred to that Committee. That is a very delicate subject at the moment.
– They are for information only.
Some are for information only, as I understand it. If we give the Committee this additional reference we will be putting upon it a burden which is completely unfair and unreal and which, because of the nature of the reference, will help to destroy the concept of the committee system.
I make only one other reference. In the other place as recently as yesterday the matter of an investigation into poverty was raised. The Opposition moved a motion in the other place. It did not succeed. In the other place the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) said that he has put to the Government the view that there should be a governmental investigation into the matter. What he said can be read in the Press, can be heard on the radio and can be seen on television. He has the burden and carriage of matters associated with social service benefits and similar matters. He said it quite openly, at question time, in the presence of the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was in the chamber at the time. The Minister for Social Services has made it clear that in his view at a governmental level there should be an inquiry into this broad matter.
– Is that his recommendation?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThat is as he put it.
– Will there be public hearings?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONDo not try to get conditions before we get to the matter of substance. There can be nobody better equipped to organise an investigation, if it were thought necessary, than the Government. I put to the Senate that the investigation should be at that level. If an inquiry were justified, that would be a far more logical way of inquiring into the matter than by referring it to the Standing Committee which has not the capacity, in terms of time and in terms of work load to deal with the issues that should be considered. I shall not go into the matter of substance at this time. I believe that the Government has responsibility to govern. It has to make decisions in relation to these matters. If it believes that there is a need for certain investigations to be made, those investigations should be made at the government level. To refer this matter to the Committee would impose on it an impossible task. The Committee would not be able to inquire into the matter for years. For those reasons the Government resists the motion moved by Senator Murphy.
– The matter before us is of extreme importance and of very great urgency. For some time now all honourable senators have been concerned about the emergence of disastrous pockets of poverty in the increasingly affluent Australian society. It has been a matter not merely of political concern; it has been a matter also of personal concern. I know that individual senators feel very strongly about it. That a motion of this kind should be moved is appropriate and, in certain circumstances, it should attract the support of the Senate. What Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson said is correct. To create a select committee to which the matter would be referred would be to impose a very heavy burden on the body of senators already available for committee work.
The Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control has recently commenced operations. Its work will be particularly heavy. It will take a considerable time to complete its hearings. Standing committees and other committees are already occupying all the time that honourable senators are able to give to them. There is still a long queue of subjects of a very embracing character before many committees. I was one honourable senator who queried the desirability of referring certain types of matters to standing committees. I regarded the committees as a repository for references of a limited character, such as the proposed take-over of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd by Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd. You, Mr Deputy President, are Chairman of the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade, which is dealing with that matter. I thought that was the appropriate type of topic to refer to a standing committee. In the wisdom of honourable senators many matters of a major and extensive character have been referred to the committees.
The motion seeks to refer the matter of poverty to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. That Committee already has references on the most important subjects of repatriation and the introduction of a national superannuation scheme, lt also has a reference concerning certain petitions. Some of the honourable senators who serve on standing committees would be required to serve on a select committee, if it were established, to deal with this matter. A particular type of inquiry is now proposed. It would scan many aspects of Australian life. A tremendous economic investigation would necessarily be involved. That would require technical, sociological and academic contributions. There would have to be an onsite inspection of areas in which the poorer people in the community live. The inquiry would have to extend into their housing accommodation, their social ambitions and their acceptance or resentment of the conditions under which they live. I could imagine that the committee would not sit in the splendid isolation of Canberra but would be required to move from place to place and to have protracted and numerous investigations on-site in relation to the physical conditions in which people live. That would cover an enormous spread of time. As this is a matter of acute urgency, I think that not only would that course be inappropriate but rather it would defeat the purpose of the inquiry if the matter were to be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare in these circumstances. If no other alternative were available, my Party and I would most certainly support the motion. If no other investigation were contemplated or available, I think the matter should be referred to the Committee, irrespective of all the disabilities to which I have referred, such as the additional burden on senators and the availability of individual senators.
Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has drawn the attention of the Senate to a statement made by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in the House of Representatives, in the presence of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), that the Government is aware of the situation and that the Minister for
Social Services is making or has made certain submissions to the Prime Minister for an immediate inquiry into the subject of poverty. With due respect to the work of honourable senators, a body of investigators, adequately structured in personnel, adequately supported by technical assistants and without the commitments that honourable senators necessarily have politically and in the sphere of parliament, would be much better equipped to examine this matter with the speed and in the depth which is now required than would a Senate committee. I do not know what form of inquiry is contemplated by the Minister or what form would be accepted by the Government. By interjection, Senator Douglas McClelland indicated his concern that perhaps such an inquiry would not be a public inquiry. Would I be correct in saying that?
– My word. The Government has not had a public inquiry yet.
– I think that is a valid point. In view of the announced intention of the Minister for Social Services, which apparently is finding acceptance in the Government, I think we can anticipate a fairly early announcement on whether the Government is prepared to do anything or whether it proposes to do anything. No doubt the Government will indicate in more specific terms what it intends to do. Therefore, I think it would be inappropriate for the Senate, on such a long standing motion as this, to create a select committee on the eve of an announcement that another body of investigation is apparently in early contemplation. I think there should be an investigation. If nothing else were available we would support the motion but I think the sensible thing to do in the circumstances - and I will move accordingly in the course of my submission - is to adjourn the motion.
– I was going to suggest that.
– -It should be adjourned, but not indefinitely to a time after this session of the Parliament concludes. My suggestion is that the motion should be adjourned and if that suggestion is supported, a motion for resumption of the debate to be made an order of the day for 25th May could be moved. That is the next available Thursday. In that time the Government may have announced its intentions.
– That is the course I would suggest. I think somebody else wanted to speak to the motion. Instead of Senator Byrne moving the motion, I would move in that direction.
– Thank you, Senator Murphy. That is the attitude of my Party. If a motion is moved that the debate be adjourned and the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for Thursday 25th May in the anticipation that in the meantime the Government will come forward with a specific announcement as to the creation of body of inquiry, its nature and the terms and conditions under which it will operate, we will be content.
– Whether public or private?
– Yes. If the course I have proposed is not satisfactory to this chamber, if it is too restricted, too limited or too circumscribed, it will still be available within the sitting times of this session on Thursday 25th May to ask that the matter be brought forward again so that the Senate can resolve whether in the circumstances it should not proceed to create a select committee. If Senator Murphy is disposed to move in the direction I have suggested we are prepared to agree. That is our proposal.
– I am glad to learn the attitude of the Democratic Labor Party to this matter and that the Labor Party concurs. I believe that we must very carefully consider the references to the Senate committees that we have established, for reasons I have mentioned before. The DLP senators would appreciate those reasons because the DLP, and for that matter the Country Party, have only a few members in this House to devote to these committees.
– You have Senator Townley and Senator Turnbull here, you know.
– That is right. Senator Townley happens to be a member of the Committee we are discussing. Committee work takes a lot of time. The DLP has no member on the Standing Committee on
Health and Welfare but I am sure that it would be happy to have a representative on it if he had the time to spare to devote to these important matters. I think we have to bear this in mind.
– One can always attend.
– I do not think it is really fair for a senator to attend only occasionally. If we are to make these committees work we must have a conscientious effort by everybody to attend. I am not suggesting that Senator Murphy’s motion is not a matter of urgency. I am suggesting that he ought to consider these matters very carefully in the future. I particularly have in mind the report submitted recently by the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade on the proposed takeover of Ansett Transport Industries. It is a classic example of how the Senate can work efficiently and quickly to bring down a report. Senator Prowse, the Chairman of that Committee, is in the Chair at the moment. I think he ought to be proud of that report because it was produced effectively and quickly. In the short time that the Committee had to deal with the question it produced a document of which it can be justly proud. The Committee, which was set up at the instigation of the Democratic Labor Party, referred in its report to the need to go into the particular matter very carefully. I think we have to consider these points more carefully in future.
Senator Murphy is one of the architects of the committee system and I suggest to him that unless he is very careful he is likely to destroy the building that he has helped to create. I look upon the matter of poverty as being of critical importance. One of the references we have made to the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare could well include an investigation into poverty in the community. I do not understand how the Committee can explore the possible introduction of a national superannuation plan without giving very careful consideration to what we are to do in the area of poverty - to discover the people who cannot afford to be included in such a plan. I believe that to a degree this motion is duplicating a reference that is already before the Committee.
The committee of which 1 am a member currently has under consideration all aspects of repatriation. This is quite a demanding task. We are in the process of winding up the taking of evidence but a lot of wheat has to be separated from the chaff in this evidence. We have to give due regard to the demands that are placed upon the staff who are helping us to correlate ideas before producing a report. I do not think we will be in a position to report to the Senate, in my personal view, before next year. 1 do not think we ought to rush into a report that is so important. I ask Senator Murphy to pay due regard to the need to preserve the building that he has helped to create - the establishment of the Senate as a committee House. There may be other ways in which the problems of poverty could be dealt with. I feel confident that the Government will take some action. My belief is not based on fact or information I have received, but I would like to think that before 25th May a move will be made by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in this area. I commend the Opposition and the DLP for considering the adjournment of this matter.
– The DLP and the Opposition.
– Very well. I would also like to suggest to the DLP that it should very carefully consider what I have said about the responsibility of its members to serve on committees that are dealing with matters of great national significance.
– We have only 5 senators to go around.
– I know. That is why I am making the point. I believe that you are interested in this matter.
– Should you not address the Chair?
– Thank you for reminding me, although on this occasion I would have thought the Chair might excuse me because of the compliment I paid earlier about the latest report before the Senate. Mr Deputy President, I crave your indulgence for my exchange with my friends of the DLP. This is an important consideration. The Country Party, of which you are a member, Sir, and the
DLP have a limited number of members in this House and should pay due regard to confining the activities of committees to a narrower area.
– That has always been our attitude.
– -I realise that. I have paid you the compliment of going along with the idea of adjourning this matter. I think all honourable senators must uphold the committee system. We have to do all we can to preserve it and to make sure that it works effectively. We must exert our efforts collectively to try to get the Government to act upon the reports which are brought down and which I believe are of great significance to the Australian people. I support what Senator Douglas McClelland said in a speech that he made earlier today on the report on physically and mentally handicapped people by the Wedgwood Committee. The honourable senator mentioned that a number of reports had come from Senate committees and that the Government would do well to adopt their recommendations. The Senate can be a very effective House if we do all that we can to preserve this system. But we can make it so only by paying due regard to the time involved in pursuing an inquiry and the burden that this imposes on members of these committees in order that committee work may be really effective.
– As a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, I have listened to this debate with a great deal of interest. Frankly, I find myself in agreement with practically everyone who has spoken in it, including representatives of the Government and of the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
– This is the House of consensus.
My Leader, Senator Murphy, says: ‘This is the House of consensus’. It is only by a discussion of this nature that we will find the best method of tackling the problem. But, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) pointed out in his remarks, this matter has been on the notice paper since 2nd November 1970. Because of the great work load that has been put on the members of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, it has not been possible up to this stage, for the Senate to determine whether or not the matter should be referred to that Standing Committee.
The tragedy of the situation is that the fact that Senator Murphy placed this matter on the notice paper on 2nd November 1970 obviously indicates that at least he and the Labor movement at that stage were concerned about the pockets of poverty that existed in Australia at that time.
– How much better off we would all be if my motion had been carried.
– Senator Murphy has taken the words out of my mouth. How much better off ‘his nation, including all those suffering from this terrible scourge, would have been if this matter had been referred to that Senate Standing Committee at that time and dealt with by it? Be that as it may, at least now, especially after the remarks made by and the evidence produced by Archbishop Loane of Sydney and Bishop Hulme-Moir of Sydney directly to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), directly to the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) and directly to other members of the national Parliament including Senator Carrick, who is one member who has experienced this evidence at first hand-
– And the honourable member for Chicey, Mr Armitage, in the other place, who saw it, too.
– I should mention also the honourable member for Chifley in the other place. I think that it is important to know that at least the Government is considering the establishment of a form of inquiry. Even if it be not by reference to a Senate standing committee, at least the Government is considering the establishment of an inquiry. When Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, on behalf of the Government, indicated this fact this evening, I immediately interjected to ask whether the inquiry was to be public. Quite obviously from the reply that he gave to me, the Government at this stage has not determined whether the inquiry will be public or private.
I hope that the Government will learn from past experience. I can cite a number of occasions when, either at the stage when notice was given of a motion for the Senate to establish a select or standing committee to investigate a certain matter or after the committee was established to conduct an inquiry or an existing committee had a reference directed to it on that subject matter, the Government appointed its own inquiry into the same matter. For instance, in 1962 the Senate appointed a select committee to inquire into and report upon the encouragement of Australian productions for television. Senator Drake-Brockman was a member of this Committee as I was. At that time, the Government appointed an interdepartmental committee of inquiry. The Senate committee carried out a public inquiry; the interdepartmental committee conducted a private inquiry. Certainly the Parliament received the report of the Senate select committee. But we did not hear anything, nor did the public, of the private interdepartmental committee.
Further, the Senate established the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. When we established that Committee which sat in public, the Government established its own private committee on health insurance which we now know as the Nimmo Committee. That Committee sat in private. Although the report of the Nimmo Committee eventually became a Government document and a parliamentary paper, we did not have the benefit of reading any of the evidence that was presented to that Committee. But we had the benefit of the public evidence given before the Senate Select Committee and of the public report by that Committee.
In recent times, the Senate decided to refer to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare for inquiry and report all aspects of repatriation. That inquiry has been proceeding certainly for the best part of this year, if not longer. As a member of that Committee, I can say frankly that the inquiry is most detailed and comprehensive. But, as soon as the Senate referred that matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, the Government established a private inquiry into the repatriation system to be presided over by His Honour, Mr Justice Toose. I understand that the report by Mr Justice Toose will be presented to the Minister for Repatriation, not to the Parliament. The report of the Senate Standing Committee inquiring into repatriation will be tendered to the Parliament. Therefore, having regard to what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has said tonight, if the Government does determine to establish a private inquiry and agrees to have its hearings in public, at least we of the Opposition in putting this motion forward will have succeeded in achieving what we set out to achieve as long ago as 2nd November 1970.
I am pleased to know that Senator Murphy and Senator Byrne of the Australian Democratic Labor Party have indicated that they will propose that further discussion of this matter be adjourned until 25th May, because frankly I personally will not be satisfied if the Government appoints an interdepartmental committee or a committee of its own choice to inquire into poverty and that inquiry is to sit in confidence or in camera. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country, especially in the great metropolis of Sydney, suffering from the scourge of poverty. Senator Carrick would be able to tell the Senate much more than I about that. Anyone who has had anything to do wilh the Meals on Wheels organisation in Sydney can tell of the extreme poverty in that city. Anyone who knows the work of the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army and the many other organisations, which have hundreds of voluntary workers in and around that city, can tell and expose publicly the great problems that so many thousands of Australians are suffering. If these things are exposed publicly, the public will demand that action be taken to ameliorate the conditions compalined of. So, 1 say that if the Government agrees to a form of inquiry into poverty, be it by way of a Senate committee or some other committee, provided that the hearings of that committee are conducted in public the result which Senator Murphy set out to achieve on 2nd November 1970 when he moved for the reference of this matter will have been achieved.
– In this building there are some 184 persons, 60 honourable senators and 124 gentlemen in another place, who day by day throughout the year in their roles as members of Parliament are in contact with the problems that we are discussing in this debate. Sadly enough, to any one of us in public life there is nothing new in the anguish, suffering and hardship of those who are poor. And who are the poor? They are the unemployed, the widowed, the deserted, the disabled, the improvident, the old, the inadequate, and, for my part, more than anyone else, the lonely. Tonight, whilst supporting the terms of the amendment, I want to make a few observations. I would have hoped that this subject of poverty would lend itself as much to broad debate in this chamber by way of philosophy as it would to the deliberations of some specialised inquiry - although of course I personally support the concept of inquiry. Indeed I have had over the years the benefit of reading the reports of many inquiries. Recently there became available to all honourable senators the report of the royal commission on social security in New Zealand, and to those who have not read it I commend chapter 10, the concepts and definitions of poverty and need. I think if one bends one’s mind to that, then the real problem emerges.
Mankind - and I refer to the Western world - in its development towards affluence over the past decade has believed that the problems of poverty, hardship and distress can be solved and dealt with primarily and predominantly by some appropriate fiscal measure passed by a Parliament. Indeed, in my studies not only of what we have done in Australia but also of what has been done overseas, notably in countries such as the United States of America, Britain and Canada, I have seen many things done in the name of social reform which in the end have created great hardship. I think that statement needs some explanation. I have said that we as senators and members of the other place are in fact, in our daily duties, ombudsmen - as we ought to be - the people who can listen to the problems of the electors of this country, I hope, understand them and try to help by resolving them. We are inadequate social workers, all of us. Every one of us is inadequate, but nevertheless ever-present psychotherapists. I shall return to that theme in a moment or two.
More than anything else in the relief of distress in this community is there a need for people to communicate, to go to somebody who they believe is a person of some authority and reliability and, more important, to confide in him. More than anything else, what they want to do is to talk out their problems. Many of the problems do not have solutions, but much relief comes from talking them out. Many of us in this chamber and in the other place were creatures of the depression years and therefore would personally not need any vicarious experience in poverty. What I am saying is that whilst I would of course be keenly interested in the undertaking given by the Minister for Social Services to raise with State Ministers for social welfare at a conference in Brisbane on 5th June this year one half of this motion - that is, the relationship, delineation and partnership of Commonwealth and State associations in this field of poverty - whilst I would support that, and whilst I would indeed support the concept of the Government’s setting up an inquiry, what 1 want to press is that we as a Parliament and we as a community should look not only to the material things - and I do not talk in any starryeyed way about this - but also to the intangible and abstract things of the community which in my judgment are far more important.
Some reference was made to the fact that, by way of invitation from the Church of England in Sydney recently, I was associated with an inspection of areas of poverty. I accepted that invitation. I would like to make one point clear. I have a feeling that it is strange to find the politician who is in some way shy of publicity, and I do not want to appear so naked or embarrassed, but I do not believe that the way to find out about poverty is to make a public inspection, although I am grateful to the Church for its invitation. Indeed, I would like to say that prior to accepting that invitation I had telephoned the Bishop - I know him well personally - and said to him: ‘Can I have a talk to your social workers, and can I bring a member of State Parliament and a member of a local government authority? Above all, when we have this talk, can we talk free of any kind of mass media?’ In my view the only way that one will start probing honestly in this field of poverty is to do so in private. I simply say that it is my intention to continue doing what I have been doing for many years, trying to find the causes of human hardship. I do not believe one can do so in the light of publicity.
Since that matter has been raised, may I say that I would very much like to commend the great dignity, restraint and courtesy - as one would have expected - of those who invited us into their homes, who talked to us quietly and with restraint about their problems, and who helped us to some undertstanding of them. Those people had never before been confronted with such a volume of Press men, radio men and TV men. Although these men were legitimately going about their job, nevertheless these people were involved in something that was quite terrifying to them, and they behaved extremely well and with great dignity. To that extent in individual cases, we learnt a very great deal indeed.
I rose not to say such things and indeed not to oppose the Democratic Labor Party’s proposed amendment, but rather to say that in my view any solutions whatsoever to the problem of poverty cannot be made at the level of government alone, whether it is local government, State government or Commonwealth government. What we have to understand as an Australian community is that most of these problems arise because of the isolation of the individual from a family or, if I may use the phrase, a tribal group, so that in adversity he is incapable of banding together with others and solving his problems. What these people need more than anything else is relatives or friends, or, in their absence, for the community to band together and help them. So much of the problem is personal; so much of the problem is one not of talking to an official, however understanding, but one of confiding and receiving understanding, sympathy and compassion.
For the Church it is an enormously important job which it undertakes under very difficult circumstances. It is a job for voluntary organisations and for every member in the community. What we have done inside the Western community, including the Australian community, is to believe that we can solve human problems by institutional means. That is the greatest fallacy of the affluent society. Human problems cannot be resolved by institutional means. Let me demonstrate this. We were proud and, indeed, 1 was proud to have been associated with a policy of granting financial assistance to provide homes for the aged. But this community which puts aside the aged, isolates them and virtually quarantines them has nothing to boast about.
– It becomes a ghetto.
– That is right. I agree. We must accept with a sense of shame that such a policy is destroying a most valuable and precious part of the community. Every human being from a babe to the aged must feel that he belongs, that he is secure, that he is needed and that he is significant. By Acts of Parliament which we solemnly pass in this place we set out to emasculate those qualities in people at 60 or 65 years of age. In my view we do this to our eternal disgrace because we have a lack of understanding or compassion. This is not a problem which we have just discovered. I commend the Archbishop’s winter appeal but it does not mean that we have suddenly discovered poverty at all. Everyone has known about it. Many honourable members in another place represent electorates which are pockets of underprivilege. Let nobody deny that at all. But do not let us believe that by increasing a benefit here and by raising a pension there we will solve these problems. The hardest case which everyone of us finds is the individual person facing hardship all on his own, lonely, and shattered as a personality. What such persons need is not just another $2 in pension. They need warmth, friendship and to be gathered inside the community.
Let me give an illustration of a great country - America. We tend to denigrate America but it is a country with great compassion. A classic case was evolved by a great man, Roosevelt, for good reasons but the people concerned reacted in the wrong way. As honourable senators may know, over the centuries the negro population of America was denied the right of marriage. For 250 years marriage was not for negroes because they were not human beings until after the Civil War. For many years thereafter families did not develop under the institution of marriage because they had been completely shattered as tribes. Therefore in the 1930s in the ghettos, in poverty that I have seen, many mothers were found with strings of children but with no obvious husbands. A President of the day said: ‘We must stop those mothers from going out to work. We must keep them at home with the kids. We will bring in aid for dependent children.’ So the Government brought in a policy of aid for dependent children. Unbeknown to themselves they virtually created a profession of mothers without husbands and with the kids at home. This did not resolve the problem at all. In fact it created a problem. The problem in America among the negroes is the same as the problem which we have among the poor here in many cases. It may seem strange that I should raise the negro problem in America on this debate but I was privileged to have a pretty good look at it. It is not really a problem of colour. It is a problem of a shattered tribal situation, of a shattered family situation, of a people who have no traditions, nothing to fall back on and nothing to belong to.
When we push down the ghettos - beware of this - and when we go in, as we must, to our slums with our bulldozers, remember that when we are pushing over old and tumbly places and when we take these people and put them in other places we can be creating for them a loneliness which we do not understand. I am not here on my feet to appear overwise - to appear to be trying to resolve anything. Tonight 1 rose to say that the problem we are facing is a problem which we do not face by ourselves. If we accept the report of Professor Henderson of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research, we have some 4 per cent of our economic units in the kind of situation I have mentioned. But it is equally true that compared with the rest of the world we have been tackling this problem. I say this in no spirit of partisanship at all because, in my view, both sides of the Senate can take pride in striving for those kinds of goals. But I shall spend a few minutes explaining what I mean by ‘community participation’.
In recent months and years I have taken part in various discussions at various seminars with members of the medical profession who are feeling more and more that they are getting out of touch with the community. More and more they are feeling that one does not prescribe medicine by writing prescriptions in their surgery. They feel that the fact that psychosomatic disease is developing so rapidly in the community is a reflection on their own practice of medicine. If they are to do their job properly they have to reach out into the community. They have to have contacts with the community so that the community can bring to them people who need help and they can go to them. More and more we are looking into a community which will have not just a group practice of doctors but also social workers creating what we have shattered - small integrated communities.
In supporting the amendment I emphasise that I would like this Parliament and the people of Australia not to deal with this problem of poverty purely on material lines but to ask on all levels: Are we dealing with these things so that we create and strengthen human dignity and human personality? Are we making people feel that they belong, that they are needed and that they are significant; or are we, by some monetary gesture which we make here, destroying all dignity and significance and therefore destroying the spirit of the individual aged people of this country? I say that because in my view the problem is absolutely enormous. I therefore commend the amendment.
– I add a word in support of the amendment for a couple of reasons. I ask honourable senators to look for a moment at the committee system which has been the subject of part of this debate this evening. I draw attention again, as other honourable senators have done in the Senate tonight, to the problems which arise as a result of the increasing number of references which are put down in the Senate for one or other of the Senate standing legislative committees. As honourable senators are well aware the references are very wide. Classic examples have been given tonight of the repatriation and national superannuation inquiries which are listed for reference to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. In my own situation serving on the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Science, I point out that there is the enormous reference relating to radio and television. Of course the reference which is suggested before the Senate tonight and which is related to the amendment which has been put forward is also a very wide one. It has an additional aspect in that it is linked with an announcement by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) that he is putting forward a plan for an inquiry by the Government.
Sooner or later the Senate will have to couch the terms of its references to committees along narrower lines and require a report to be presented on a reference by a date that will give a committee a reasonable chance of accomplishing its task. I fear that by not doing this we could rapidly approach a situation in which the committee system would be in jeopardy. It has been said before, but I wish to add my own emphasis to it, that the committee system has provided not only a splendid opportunity for the Senate to be, on the one hand, a States House and, on the other, a house of review but also a relationship between the public and the Parliament which has been very worth while indeed. An additional benefit of the committee system has been the enabling of all members of the Parliament - supporters of the Government, Opposition or other parties as well as the Independents - to play a fuller role. We have the opportunity to be involved in matters of great public importance and interest in our community.
If the proposed reference were to be approved it would be some considerable time before the relevant committee had an opportunity to deal with it. I think it would be an excellent step to postpone this reference so that the Government can give an indication of its views and the Minister for Social Services can put forward his own ideas about an inquiry into pockets of poverty in the community. The Minister for Social Services is a man who has a deep concern for the welfare of the community, particularly for those who are in special need by reason of absence of an income, poor housing, old age, infirmity or some other handicap. I am sure that anyone who has had the opportunity of sharing a platform with him or of being present on one of the many occasions on which he has made some statement in relation to the subject of social services has been impressed by his concern for the people of this country who have a particular need. At the same time one has to take into account that he, as only one of the
Ministers in the Government, is bound by the limitations of finance. I applaud the interest which the Minister for Social Services has shown in these areas of human need. It was pleasing to me to note that he has made certain references in another place. I hope to hear from him further to the effect that he has agreed to undertake an inquiry.
I turn briefly to the problem of poverty. I am only repeating what others have said when I acknowledge that there are pockets of poverty within the Australian community and that it is no credit to our affluent society that we have these pockets of poverty. But the answer to the problem is not just to refer such things to the governments. There is a need for us all to have our share of concern and for us to encourage the community to have its share of concern. All of us have been involved with cases of hardship at a personal level. All of us have received representations about cases which are incredibly difficult and in relation to which, when we examine the circumstances and read through the briefs associated with them, we are at a loss to know what to do because there are so many areas and so many personal or individual situations in which there is no solution to all but just next steps. It is this matter of next steps that the Senate needs to inquire into and to urge and persuade the Government to inquire into.
I want to pay my tribute, as I am sure other honourable senators who have been involved will, to the members of the social welfare organisations who work in this field. I think of the countless times I have pleaded and made representations to the Citizens Advice Bureau. I think also of the times when, in my association with the Immigration Advisory Council, I have had negotiations with the Good Neighbour Councils and between us we have sought to work out solutions to the problems of certain migrants who are in need. But one should not forget the record of 100 years, as it were, day in and day out of the churches and the missions within our cities and large towns. Coming from Adelaide I have had association only with the missions in that city, but I know of the work of the missions in all of our major cities. I know from personal and continued contact with the missions not only in the city of Adelaide itself but also in some of its suburbs of the needs of families for clothing, warmth in winter, food, money and general help. Indeed, I know of the need for care, concern, companionship and interest. The community owes a great deal to the dedicated superintendents, social workers and so on who are counsellors in the field of social services. I know of the Lifeline people, who man telephones around the clock. All of these people are caught up in a programme of Christian concern which is born from their association with one or other of the denominations of the Christian Church and all of them have their various areas of work. It would be very good if the Government could initiate an inquiry which would determine how we can take the next steps towards a gradual solution of these problems.
When thinking in terms of areas of poverty we should think not only of the middle aged people who have problems in raising their children, problems in finding jobs or problems in providing food. We must also think of the children. Reference was made to this matter this afternoon. We think of the unfortunate person who is an alcoholic. We think of the person who has just been released from prison. We are grateful to the Prisoners Aid Society for its involvement in this regard. We think also of the widows and the unmarried mothers and the areas where people are in need of not only the material things but also the social and spiritual things. The Government has over the years given a great deal of time and attention to the needy in the community. The report of the Department of Social Services refers in great detail to a large range of services provided by the Government. It sets out the new techniques the Department has undertaken. The Department has given substantial financial support to private social workers and instrumentalities whose work has been of the greatest possible benefit. But theproblem is still with us and steps must be taken to see what can be done to alleviate suffering. Because poverty is part of the environment the need to meet that poverty is an environmental matter.
Reference was made earlier to the establishment of homes for the aged. I know that there are problems with the high rise homes which are being built for the aged in Adelaide and I know that there are problems in large establishments which have been built for the aged elsewhere. Anyone who has had anything to do with homes for the aged - I had a great deal to do with them in earlier years - will know the benefit derived from a sense of belonging to a community. People can experience utter loneliness even in high rise buildings. There is something to be said for the wellbeing, stability and security that comes from living in a community. It is perfectly obvious that in a community that is devoted to this sort of thing there is a need for hospitalisation as well as for welfare workers. Great advantage is* derived by involving a range of voluntary workers, and by voluntary workers I mean people within the community who, because of their concern for others, lend their assistance in this way.
– Has the honourable senator seen the film ‘Kotch’ which deals with the problem of the aged?
– No, I have not but I will take the opportunity to see it. I imagine from Senator Murphy’s interjection that he is suggesting that there is a disadvantage in having large settlements. I am well aware of the disadvantage of having large settlements. I have seen this for myself and I am just pointing out that these people are not at a complete disadvantage because in, shall I say, a medium sized settlement which is properly designed and arranged there are advantages for people who are able to enjoy the companionship of other people in similar circumstances. Also there are advantages for people to enjoy community functions and community recreations which are not available in a small settlement or when a person is living in a single unit. I will take an early opportunity to look into this because I believe that we should move forward not only in relation to development but also in relation to individual needs and so on. I think you would agree, Mr President, that the steps that have been taken to create larger developments arose out of the then latest thinking on the matter of loneliness, old age, physical need and medical care. I support the amendment. We look forward to seeing the results of the steps which the Government has taken and to giving the matter further consideration in due course.
– I welcome the remarks made by honourable senators. I propose to follow the course which I indicated earlier when Senator Byrne was speaking. This arose out of what was said by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) when referring to the Government’s proposal to conduct an inquiry. Because the outcome of that consideration may affect the way in which the Senate would approach this question I intend shortly to seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date and then to move that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for Thursday, 25th May next.
The Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has been asked to perform several tasks. It was asked to inquire into the problems of mentally and physically handicapped persons. It carried out that inquiry and we now have its extremely valuable report. The Committee also has been asked to look into all aspects of repatriation and into the matter of the introduction of a natioal superannuation scheme. We are told that the inquiry into all aspects of repatriation virtually has been concluded but that a report may not be presented for some time. The Committee is dealing with topics which overlap. All of these matters are concerned in some way with health or welfare. I have no doubt that the expertise, the experience and the information which was gained by the Committee in dealing with the inquiry into mentally and physically handicapped persons will be of extreme value in dealing with an inquiry into poverty. This also would be true in relation to its inquiry into all aspects of repatriation which the Committee has considered, and its inquiry into the matter of the introduction of a national superannuation scheme. All of these references are concerned in some way with overlapping questions of the social position of those who are unable to cope. Therefore, there is every reason why this Committee probably would be in a better position than almost any other body in the community to investigate this very important matter of the incidence, distribution and causes of primary and secondary poverty in Australia and the adequacy of existing Commonwealth and State social welfare legislation.
I am conscious that some members of the Committee said that it would be impossible to report before the election. That is an important consideration and I would accept that probably it is correct. But the work of the Committee is not limited to the report which it presents. When an inquiry is being conducted into an important subject matter such as this the ball starts rolling and people throughout the community begin to gather material on the subject matter. They start to learn more about the subject matter and then send to the Committee considered submissions. The fact that the views of various other persons are aired before the Committee is extremely important and is a justification for establishing an inquiry. Even if there were only one member on the Committee, even if only a staff member were involved, the fact that submissions are flowing in is, in itself, important because it results in a focusing of attention on this problem of poverty.
Had this reference been made to the Committee when it was first proposed to the Senate on 2nd November 1970, the community would be in a far better position today to deal with this problem. Now there is a call for a national inquiry. Archbishop Loane and others are speaking about the problem. Honourable senators should realise how much better off we, and Australia, would have been if the proposal to refer this matter to the Committee had been carried at that time. All of this material could have been flowing in. People in the universities, people in the welfare institutions, members of the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul could have given us their knowledge about the problem, and people would have started to find out what had been done in other countries, which cures worked and which failed. There would have been a focusing of public attention on this problem. Unfortunately, we have been denied that.
– You have not been denied it.
– We have not had it.
– Do not blame us.
– That is the sense in which I am using the word. We have been denied the benefit of that knowledge because we did not deal with the matter. I am not blaming the Government; I am saying that we have not initiated the inquiry and therefore Australia has lost the advantage which it would have had. I hope that the Senate agrees to this proposition. Even though the Government has commenced an inquiry I believe that this matter should be referred to the Committee because, as Senator Douglas McClelland pointed out, it has been almost the practice of the Government to set up its own inquiry whenever the Senate is conducting one. There are a number of instances of this occurring. Senator Douglas McClelland mentioned to me that in the course of his speech he had omitted to mention one. The Government should be inquiring into this matter, and so also should the Senate. I would like to see an inquiry commenced even if it is on the understanding that the Committee could not possibly report before the election. I think it important to have this material gathered together by those who would be concerned. Many of the bodies which would be concerned to present submissions probably have not turned their minds to this problem but in preparing a submission they would of necessity do so. This would mean that the nation would be in a better position to deal with the problems when in fact we come to deal with them. So, irrespective of whether the inquiry is commenced by the Government, I ask the Senate to agree to this proposal. Of course, if a comprehensive public inquiry were not embarked upon by the Government this certainly could fortify the proposition that this matter be referred to the Committee.
Mr President, I do not want to conclude my remarks because, in accordance with what was stated earlier, we all want to know the Government’s decision. I propose, after I request leave to continue my remarks, to move that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for Thursday 25th May. 1 ask leave to continue my remarks.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to.
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for Thursday 25th May.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) agreed to:
That Order of the Day No. 4 be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– The adjournment of the debate on this motion stands in my name. The motion calls for an extensive inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment, a Committee which has received some attention tonight because of the heavy work load it now bears. In view of the concern expressed in the Senate during an earlier debate, it appears to me that it would be somewhat illogical if we were to proceed and present the Committee with this additional burden of investigation. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) is solicitous in this field and that the motion has been on the Notice Paper for some time. We of the Democratic Labor Party also are solicitous in this field. I propose to suggest a certain course in which Senator Murphy may be. able to concur. I had a word with him about it. Rather than have this matter remain on the Notice Paper or, alternatively, have it referred in some sort of theoretical fashion so that it stands in the long queue of matters awaiting attention by the Committee, I propose that the motion be discharged from the Notice Paper at this stage, with an intimation that if Senator Murphy wishes to bring it on again during the next session he will be able to do so, and that the Senate will consider debating it earlier than if it merely came back to us in the ordinary course of events.
I commend that course to Senator Murphy. It would clear the business sheet and would prevent the mere registration of this matter as another subject of inquiry by the Committee. This course would allow us still to underline our concern about the proposition. I think that course would be satisfactory to all honourable senators.
– I would like to express my appreciation to Senator Byrne for the attitude he has adopted towards the proposal to refer this matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment. If we are to have a really effective committee system, one which can inquire into and report upon certain matters, it would be a pity to have on the Notice Paper a series of references which could not be attended to for quite a long time. Above all, I sense in Senator Byrne’s attitude towards this matter the protection of a system which is becoming more important to the Senate and to the parliamentary institution generally. We do not want a committee system which is inundated with references. We do not want a seemingly endless chain of matters for it to inquire into. Rather I think we should refer certain matters to committees for expeditious inquiry and report. It should be possible to have existing references completed and then to move for further references to go to committees.
The attitude suggested by Senator Byrne is an excellent one. Without going into the merits or demerits of any particular reference, I think that this attitude is the most conductive in the long term to the successful operation of our new committee system. I very heartily concur with the suggestion made by Senator Byrne.
– I think honourable senators will find that the proposal to refer the matter of housing to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment was moved on 23rd February 1971. The debate was then adjourned. I think it is reasonable to make the observation that there is a large number of matters before this Committee. We know that it is difficult to have general business brought on for discussion. Other matters were subsequently referred to the Committee. I think I moved for some of them to be referred to it. One was the continuing oversight of the problems of pollution. That motion was moved on 30th March 1971. It therefore was subsequent to the adjournment of the debate on this matter of housing. Then petitions relating to crime were referred to the Committee and its report has been presented.
– But it has not been discussed.
– No, it has not yet been discussed. On 13th May 1971 the form and presentation of the information section of telephone directories was referred to the Committee and its report on that subject has been presented to the Senate. I think that motion was moved by Senator Byrne. The crime reference was moved by Senator Cavanagh. I moved for the Committee to inquire into the environmental conditions of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and the preservation of their sacred sites. Then there was the matter of a petition; it was for information only. The Committee reported also on the possible pollution of the environment by the Clutha project. Then the Committee had referred to it certain petitions relating to the Postmaster-General’s Department.
All the matters I have mentioned were subsequent to the adjournment of the debate on this matter of housing. In view of the matters which have been presented since this debate was adjourned it would be preferable, rather than for me to proceed and to have this matter brought to a vote - I think it would be disposed of adversely, not on the merits of whether it should be inquired into by the Committee but on the basis that the Committee could not undertake the task at present - I am prepared to accede to the suggestion. Rather than have the matter decided tonight adversely, from our point of view, I would withdraw.
– There is no more important question that housing.
– I agree with that statement but what has been put to me by the honourable senators concerned - I can add up as well as anyone else - is that if I proceed with this proposal this evening it would be defeated, not on the basis-
– That does not necessarily follow.
– You could give an assurance that it would not be defeated.
– No, that is not the basis of the suggestion.
– My assumption is that if the matter proceeded to a vote the motion would be defeated, not on the basis of its merits but on the basis that the Committee could not cope with the inquiry at this stage. There may be other reasons why some honourable senators would vote against it - perhaps on the basis of merit. It is my understanding that, in any event, it would be defeated on the basis that it could not be dealt with. That being so, I propose to take the course which I indicated, without prejudice to the matter being restored and on the basis that it is not being dealt with on the merits. That means that it can be restored, if necessary, on the next sitting day.
– I also suggested that if it were restored we might use the forms of the Senate to accord it some priority.
– I thank Senator Byrne for his interpolation. That is the course I propose to take in order that I may give some consideration to the matter. Perhaps I can consider the question of what is the appropriate committee in view of the work load on the committees and in the light of the fact that since I advanced the proposal to the Senate these other events have occurred with respect to references to this Committee. 1 therefore ask for leave to withdraw that motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Debate resumed from 27 April 1971 (vide page 1039) on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Senate take note of the Paper.
– I am informed by my Party Whip and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) that Senator Willesee, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who arranged the matter on behalf of the Opposition, concurs that the proper course is to have this item withdrawn. Let me say in explanation to the Senate that it has been superseded by subsequent events and subsequent statements. Indeed, the matter was made the subject of a debate this afternoon. The statement to which the motion refers is therefore wholly out of date. That was the course arranged with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I suggest a preferable course which I think might more closely represent what Senator Willesee had in mind. That is simply that the question be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I present the report of Estimates Committee B. together with the minutes of proceedings. Also, I table the Hansard report of the evidence taken. In doing so, I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to the following paragraphs of the Committee’s report:
The Committee, noting the confirmation by the Senate of the view expressed in its November 1971 report, has considered further questions which arise in relation to this matter.
After some delay the Committee received from the Acting Postmaster-General the deferred answers to questions asked by Committee members.
In that reply the Minister raised the question of the possible detriment to the business interests of a Statutory Corporation, and therefore to the public interest, if such a Statutory Corporation was required to divulge, in public, information which would weaken the bargaining and competitive position of that Corporation.
The Committee unanimously agreed that without necessarily accepting the reasons stated in the Minister’s letter in relation to the particular questions and their subject matter, it did recognise the existence of some circumstances which would warrant the objection of a Statutory Corporation or government department to answering questions or supplying information in public.
The Committee believes that all such information should be available but that in some circumstances it must be upon a prima facie confidential basis. The Committee believes that in such circumstances a Committee should hear such information whilst sitting in private session.
With these views the Attorney-General, as the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, agreed. . . upon consideration and advice, the Committee has concluded that considerable doubt exists as to whether a Senate Estimates Committee has, under the present Standing Orders and Terms of Reference, the power, on its own initiative, to take evidence in private session.
It would therefore appear that some revision of the Standing Orders and terms of Reference under which Estimates Committees operate may be necessary to permit them to hear evidence in private session on their own initiative.
The Committee is therefore of the opinion that the matter of Estimates Committees meeting in private session should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee for its consideration and report to the Senate prior to the next meetings of the Estimates Committees.
In making this report the Committee draws attention to the 2 important principles arising. First, that subject only to any express legislative provision to the contrary, there is no area of expenditure of public funds of Statutory Corporations which cannot be examined by Parliament or its Committees’ and secondly, that circumstances may well exist where the interests of such corporations may be adversely affected by the public disclosure of information relating to their commercial or business activities.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave - I present the report of Estimates Committee E, together with minutes of proceedings. The Hansard record of the Committee’s proceedings will be available at a later date.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 6th May 1971 (vide page 1463) on motion, by Senator Marriott:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– On 7th May 1971, over 12 months ago, the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse was presented. Senator Marriott, the Chairman of that Committee, spoke on the report. I think that it was a premature presentation for the purpose of permitting Senator Branson to say a few words as he was retiring as a senator at the end of that session. From what I recall of Senator Branson’s speech, he offered high praise of my activities on that Committee. I then received the call to speak, not for the purpose of delaying the Senate on the presentation of the report on that occasion but only to express my appreciation of the words expressed by Senator Branson as to my assistance on that Committee. As it was towards the end of the session all parties agreed that the discussion on the report be adjourned. But no-one in his wildest imagination thought that the adjournment would be for 12 months.
The Committee commenced taking evidence in December 1969, and 12 months after its first meeting, to the day, it concluded the taking of public evidence on drug trafficking and drug abuse. After a lot of deliberation it submitted a report.
Recent investigation has disclosed that the report is the second best seller of any report that has been presented by a select committee of the Parliament. I believe that the report of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution has sold more copies than has the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse.
– I am very happy about that.
– 1 give Senator Mulvihill credit for being a member of the Committee which produced such a good report. But of no mean order is the desire of the public to learn of the findings of the Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. Only the week before last 1 was approached by the Methodist Church in South Australia to endeavour to get 150 copies of the report for the Flinders Street Methodist Church which is conducting a counselling service. It intends to train counsellors who will mix with the young folk of Adelaide to try to dissuade them from taking drugs. The Church thought that the best textbook for the training of counsellors was the Committee’s report. Being a religious and charitable organisation, it could not afford the SI. 50 which is necessary to purchase a copy of the report from any of the Government agencies, so I was asked to make representations for the purpose of obtaining free copies for that counselling service. The Church desired to give a copy to each of the 150 students who were taking the drug counselling course.
– Does it cost only $1.50 a copy?
– I believe that the reports are cheaper to buy in Adelaide.
– I would say that it was cheap when compared with the ‘Little Red Schoolbook’, which costs $1.75 a copy.
- Senator Little would agree with me that it is a more preferable document than the ‘Little Red Schoolbook’. It is unfortunate that that book has become such an obsession in his mind that every other publication has to be compared with it. The Committee’s report illustrated some of the evils of our modern society. Thousands of voluntary organisations in Australia are trying to assist youth, in particular, to walk the path of avoidance of drug taking, which we see escalating in our capital cities at present. Because of the desire of the Methodist Church in Adelaide to have 150 copies for 150 students who are undergoing a study course at that Church, I made representation to the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). I was informed that there are only 1,000 copies left in print in Australia and therefore it was impossible to give one organisation 150 copies of the remaining 1,000. The Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Health, Senator Marriott, who was Chairman of the Committee, arranged to make available free of charge to that organisation 25 copies.
When one sees the value that an organisation such as that places on the report, and when one sees the value that the obtaining of the report would be to such an organisation, one wonders why money is expended on other forms of drug education while there is a restriction on the availability of the report which, in the opinion of individuals who claim to be authorities on drug prevention, is the most up to date and the best textbook that they could have for study by those who will be counsellors in the field of drug prevention. 1 note that a considerable sum has been spent on drug prevention education, but I wonder whether it would be better to spend more on publication of this report and allow free distribution to agencies which seek to use it for the sole purpose of educating their counsellors to assist those who wish to fight the scourge of drug taking which is prevalent in Australia at present. Much of the Commonwealth’s expenditure on drug prevention has been wasteful expenditure.
Evidence was given to the Committee that a film had been produced at very great expense by, I think, the Apex Club of Sydney. I know that Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield was responsible for that film being screened throughout South Australia. The drug educationists in the States condemned the film because it could possibly tempt youth to take drugs rather than deter youth from taking drugs. Evidence was given by Bobby Limb who, in consultation with a psychiatrist in New South Wales, had gone to a certain extent in the production of a film. That film was modified greatly and altered at the request of Mr Chipp, the Minister for Customs and Excise, to make it suitable for showing. The film was called The Acid Test’. It was condemned by the Department of Health in Western Australia and by Dr Bartholomew in Victoria. Those interested in education against drug abuse condemned the expenditure by the Commonwealth Government because the film was more likely to incite rather than repel a desire for drugs. Therefore, without the advice of qualified experts, we can well vote large sums and the expenditure would not have any beneficial results.
During the debate on a Bill, the name of which I forget, I spoke about the Committee’s findings in relation to drugs. I should apologise for the quality of my speech tonight because it was only as I was walking into the chamber tonight that I was informed that the report was to be debated. I said that I was prepared to speak on it if I could be given time to get the papers which I have in my office. I forgot that I had changed offices. Because of a lack of assistance to get my office in order, it is impossible to find anything there at present. From memory, the Committee found that the taking of narcotic drugs by Australian youth was insignificant when compared with the taking of narcotic drugs by the Australian adult population. Unfortunately, statistics on crime and convictions indicate that there is an increase in the incidence of drug taking by Australian youth. The increase in the number of convictions could be due partly to the increase in size of the drug squads, which has led to more investigation, more detection and more arrests. It could be due also to the fact that in Australia the smoking or possession of marihuana is now recognised as being illegal.
At one time marihuana was not known and one never knew whether the fellow one passed in the street was smoking a home made cigarette or a marihuana cigarette. At the time that the Committee took evidence, the smoking of marihuana was not illegal in South Australia. The question has since been raised of altering the South Australian drugs legislation. In South Australia until early 1971 no conviction could be obtained for smoking marihuana. The
Committee found that drug taking starts in a person’s life in the mysterious decade between the age of IS and 25 years. I refer not only to narcotics but also to alcohol and tobacco. A list of drugs influencing the death rate in Australia would be headed by nicotine. Therefore the greatest peril through drug taking for the population of Australia lies in cigarette smoking.
The Committee recommended in its report that the taxation deduction allowed to tobacco companies for the advertising of tobacco and cigarettes should be disallowed. The Commonwealth today through allowing that taxation deduction is subsidising the tobacco companies in the promotion of their product which is damaging the lives of Australian citizens. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has not adopted the Committee’s recommendation but has announced that the Commonwealth wilt act to enforce the printing of a warning on cigarette packets, and the broadcasting and televising of a similar warning.
It has been stated in the Senate as justification for not prohibiting the advertising of cigarettes and tobacco on television and radio - the media over which the Commonwealth has control - that in other countries in which a ban was placed on the television and radio advertising of cigarettes the sales of cigarettes and tobacco were not curtailed. Therefore, if cigarette advertising is banned on one medium, the expenditure on such advertising on another medium, is increased. If it does not go through one channel, it goes through another channel. We are to warn people that cigarette smoking is a danger to health.
– We are not going to put a warning on cigars. We would not think of that.
– The Committee did not receive much evidence about whether the smoking of cigars involves more or less danger than the smoking of cigarettes. The Commonwealth has a vested interest in this question because of the excise duty collected on imported tobacco. Contributions by tobacco companies to political’ parties could well make those parties very hesitant to create any
Impediment to the right of those companies to sell their product. It seems that a secondary consideration is the health of the people of Australia. We are subsidising the growing and marketing of tobacco in Australia. I do not know whether the tobacco growing district in Queensland has a Liberal or Labor representative, but it would be political suicide to suggest curtailment of tobacco consumption in Australia.
– We are not subsidising tobacco growing.
– We are giving a subsidy to tobacco marketing.
– No - we are assuring a sale.
– The stage is reached at which public health is a secondary consideration. This raises the question of whether it is democracy as we know it to protect the public - whether we must protect the public interest for our own preservation. While it is established that tobacco is the biggest cause of death in Australia, through numerous complaints, it is also established that about 5 per cent of the population of Australia become total and hopeless drug addicts through alcohol. The second biggest curse in Australia in the field of drugs is alcohol. People in Australia in the mysterious decade between the ages of 15 years and 25 years partake of drugs of one sort or another, whether heroin, other various narcotics and drugs, or alcohol.
We hear a lot of talk today about heroin and other narcotics that are used, but at any bar in Australia more young people between the ages of 15 years and 25 years are to be found drinking liquor than are to be found smoking harmful drugs at any narcotics pad. Alcohol is still the danger. It has been suggested that our youth take alcohol because it is an adult thing to do. They believe that they can present themselves as adults by taking alcohol. It was suggested to the Committee that our youth between the ages of 15 years and 25 years have a great many problems on their mind with which they are unable to cope. It is said that they must escape from the problems that are bearing them down, with which they cannot manage, in the decade from 15 years to 25 years-
Some of them escape through belief in a superior being. They turn to religion as a distraction from the worries and burdens imposed upon them. If we are to help them, we must first identify the problems. In that decade a youth has his introduction to sexual life. It is an age at which a youth is searching to find a partner in life and to establish a home. Possibly he is attempting to advance his education or to find his place in industry. It is the age at which he is called upon to take part in the alleged defence of Australia, whether on our own shores or on a foreign shore. He has to cope with all these problems.
Government action cannot help with some of those problems. It is not possible to transfer his introduction to sex to another age, and possibly the establishment of a home and the finding of a partner in life cannot be delayed until later in his life. As was stated in evidence to the Committee, our youth between the ages of 15 years and 25 years represent the most exploited section of industry in Australia. The Government could by legislation at least give some relief from that position. The Government could also transfer to a later age the establishment of a home. There is no reason why a man at 30 years of age cannot defend this country as well as a man of 25 years. At the age of 30 years a man should be sufficiently matured to cope with the burdens of society which, at an earlier age, force him to seek escape in drugs.
If we accept the recommendations contained in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, the question that arises does not concern condemnation of or penalties against youthful drug addicts. It is not a question of prohibiting the activities of tobacco companies, although I think that some restraint should be placed upon them. The concern must be to remove from society the problems that cause people to become drug takers. That is the duty of the Government. It is the question that we must consider. We must create an attitude of mind so that people live in modern society and do not try to escape from modern society by drug taking.
As I have said, the average youth takes drugs of some description between the ages of 15 and 25. We are told that, at the age of 25, most persons who in their youth took drugs - be those drugs alcohol, heroin or certain other drugs, including drugs of addiction, which have not had a detrimental effect upon their health - find that they have solved the problems that forced them into drug taking and discontinue the habit. lt is possible that because of responsibilities assumed these persons overcome their problems. But 5 per cent of those of this age who have taken drugs cannot discontinue drug taking. We discover that in our socio-economic strata of society, in proportion to their numbers, doctors are the greatest addicts of any section of the Australian community. These are educated men who have reached the heights of their profession. They have been a success in life and have academic achievements. They have good practices. But they are unable to give up drug taking and they are reduced to mental and physical wrecks.
Representatives of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists gave evidence before the Senate Select Committee to the effect that the drug problem of each of those doctors could be traced to a trauma in early childhood. A disturbed childhood was responsible for the inability of an adult over the age of 25 years being unable to give up drug taking. Surprisingly, the evidence was that the most vital years in a person’s life are those between birth and attaining 3 years of age. The period between birth and attaining 6 years of age is important, but the period between birth and attaining 3 years of age is the most important.
I questioned one of these witnesses to the effect that there must be some starting point and that he could not put forward the proposition that a new born baby was capable of determining what would be its future attitudes. I was told that the rejection of or willingness to co-operate with society at an adult age is decided by a baby’s rejection or acceptance by those around it in the age period that I have mentioned.
This trend can be detected in schools. Opinions can be formulated as to possible drug addicts of tomorrow. It is possible to formulate knowledge as to those who, at the age of 7, at school, are prepared to cooperate with the authorities and those who are prepared to revolt. In most cases, the attitude of revolt can be rectified by child psychiatrists or child psychologists. But . in Australia, other than 3 persons in the New South Wales Department of Education, persons with these qualifications are not available. Even though this problem area can be detected, we have no method of rectifying it and we condemn in youth habits which we could have prevented by treatment in early childhood. We do nothing to prevent these attitudes developing.
I believe that in Czechoslovakia in the war years it was necessary for all women to work and for all children to be put in creches. Evidence was discovered 20 years later that a problem had been created for society because of the unco-operative individuals who were the product of those war years. Rather than the creation of creches, it was found necessary to finance agencies to look after children while their mothers worked. The mothers had to work during the war period. In Australia we hear agitation for the provision of more child minding centres and condemnation of the Government because it has not adopted the Gorton proposal on child minding centres. But one wonders whether the adoption of that proposal might not create a bigger problem than any problem which its acceptance would solve.
Whether we like it or not, women in the future will be working in industry. They will be Australia’s future mothers, but they will be going to work. The suggestion that we make is that some establishment should be provided in each factory for the purpose of looking after their children while those women work. The evidence of the psychiatrists was that danger arises when proportionately in excess of 3 children are being brought up by one adult. Is the Commonwealth proposal in respect of child minding centres to pay for at least one adult for every 3 children at a child minding centre? We could well be creating a bigger problem by seeking to meet the need for child minding centres. Surely, on future legislation, the Senate should give consideration to these matters. 1 return to my earlier point that, after attaining the age of 25 years, 5 per cent of the population cannot discontinue drug taking. These people should not be condemned for continuing to take drugs because somewhere in their childhood is to be found the cause of their present drug taking habits. The average person who over-indulges in alcohol - be it on social occasions, for company, for pleasure or because he likes alcohol - some day realises his position. He realises that he is going too far and that his over-indulgence is breaking up his family or impairing his health. We find therefore that the average person either reduces his intake of alcohol or gives it away completely. He may, of course, adopt some method by which he gives it away for a period. But, as I have said, 5 per cent of those over the age of 25 years cannot achieve any control of their drug taking habits because their needs were neglected in early childhood. So, society faces the problem.
Of the people in this 5 per cent category who become confirmed alcoholics or confirmed drug takers - I exclude from this group a section of middle aged women with whom I will try to deal directly if time permits - for some unknown reason 4 per cent do give up their addiction during the period that they are addicted. The first essential recognised in hospitals or referral centres today in the rehabilitation of a drug taker is that he must have the desire to discontinue the drug taking before any treatment can bc successful. A change must occur in his state of mind or in his attitude.
Persons who had been drug takers gave evidence before the Senate Select Committee. Some accepted religion as the light that caused them to give up drug taking. Others discontinued drug taking for the love of a woman, a partner in life or for some other similar reason. These people have reasons for discontinuing the habit. But in none of these categories is the number of persons giving up drug taking increasing. The biggest success in this field is being achieved by the Alcoholics Anonymous organisation.
Alcoholics Anonymous has had great success because it is an organisation that attracts only those people who have resolved in their own minds the futility and danger of taking alcohol to excess and have reached the stage of being prepared to give it up. Therefore, while we acclaim the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, the number of people who give up alcohol is not increasing. The fact is that more of them attribute their abstention to Alcoholics Anonymous rather than to such things as religion and love of a woman. In spite of the development of hospitals and methods of treatment, nothing has been found to alleviate very much the plight of people addicted to drugs. This is a problem that must be considered.
I sound a warning about another group of people in Australia who take drugs. They are mostly middle-aged females whose children have grown up. Suffering from boredom, they take analgesics and bromides in one form or another to relieve mental stress. Some 5 per cent of our population are in hospitals throughout Australia suffering from renal diseases caused by heavy consumption of analgesics. Dr Patricia Kincaid Smith of the Melbourne Hospital, who is internationally renowned as an authority on kidney complaints, points out that throughout Australia people are being kept alive at terrific cost on kidney machines, waiting for someone to be killed so that they may get a healthy kidney by transplant. It costs some $500 a day to keep such a person alive. The analgesics they have taken to excess are available at corner stores, chemist shops, hotels and service stations, the Parliamentary bar, and even as a bargain sample at Woolworths. The drug houses have launched big publicity campaigns to induce the Australian public to swallow their analgesics, though they will ruin their health. The average citizen in our society cannot resist this publicity. The position became so alarming that the PostmasterGeneral called a voluntary conference to draw up a code of ethics on the advertising of such products. The conference decided that certain words such as ‘infallible’ and ‘it is a cure’, used in advertising were objectionable in not stating the truth, and were inducing people to take analgesics to excess. They cannot be used in television advertising today.
The advertising technique is now different. Now these drugs do not cure and they are not infallible. Instead, they soothe away the pain. To say that an analgesic is a safe and sure relief from pain is false advertising. The drug houses of Australia are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in boosting these products, which are poisoning thousands of people, but the
Government will do nothing at all about it. The drug houses employ one detailer to every 8 doctors. The detailer’s job is to get the doctors to take the product of the particular drug company. In Australia, medical practitioners receive no instruction in pharmacology when going through their course at the university. They learn from textbooks that certain drugs will ease or cure certain complaints, but they are not familiar with new drugs that are being introduced. Their only source of knowledge on the subject is the advertisements in medical journals and the descriptions given by the detailer. On previous occasions in this chamber I have said that drug companies have advertised as harmless and relief-giving products drugs that 3 years before were condemned by international health authorities as harmful to health. In the medical journals of Australia one sees advertisements such as ‘Stock and display drug A, and count your profits and smile as you go to the bank.’ There are an inducement to the chemist to push the product on to the people to the detriment of their health. The only thing that matters to the drug company is a big return. Surely some restriction must be imposed on this form of advertising by the drug companies, virtually all of which I believe are owned overseas.
The Committee received evidence about a Victorian country doctor who was given a sales talk by a drug company detailer about the health-giving properties of a particular drug and its ability to cure certain complaints. This doctor described himself as one who had seen too many persons die from taking too many drugs. When old people had died, he had seen vast quantities of drugs by their bedside, and he was firmly of opinion that many deaths would not have occurred without an excess of drugs. When he refused to prescribe more drugs for patients, they would go to another doctor and get the necessary prescriptions. Telling the story of a detailer who had presented a certain drug, he said that he would not prescribe the drug until he got an opinion from a specialist of his acquaintence in Melbourne. This specialist told him that the drug in question was highly dangerous and ought not to be prescribed at all. The doctor referred the matter to the Commonwealth Drug Evaluation Committee, and after 2 months the drug was put on the prohibited list and medical practitioners were no longer allowed to prescribe it. Doctors with inadequate training in pharmacology had not known whether that drug was good or bad. All they had to go on was the word of the detailer, who is a salesman rather than an authority on drugs. That is the position of health services in Australia today.
The report of the Committee suggests that statistics - there are no reliable statistics - should be established straight away. The consumption of analgesics in Australia is a major cause of kidney damage. In Australian post mortem examinations it has been found that one death in 7 was due to kidney damage, compared to one in 30 in America. This leads to the conclusion that Australia is the greatest race of drug addicts or pill takers in the world. We have a greater addiction to drug taking than any other population. We are not imposing restrictions on the use of analgesics. We are creating a psychology that we should not suffer pain, that we should not put up with the problems of life but that we should seek an escape on every occasion.
We see advertisements that a certain drug is necessary when driving over long distances to prevent weariness. There is an advertisement that when sitting in the sun by the swimming pool, to stop the glare of the sun a certain preparation must be swallowed. This permits us to sit by the swimming pool and see the bathing beauties who go into the water without the glare of the sun affecting our eyes. We are even told that it is necessary for good health to take vitamin tablets. But the Australian diet makes that entirely unnecessary.
This promotion is forced on us by drug companies with a vested interest. The Government is unable to restrain such advertising because it has a vested, interest in the revenue produced by advertising such drugs. Therefore if we look . at the drug problem we find no solution in penalties. We find no solution in prosecutions. If an individual wants to do something the deterrent aspect of the possible penalty does not concern him. He is of the belief that he will never get caught. But he does get caught. We have increased the penalties but we find that we have nowhere to put the offender except in a gaol among hardened criminals. He will mix with other drug takers who can supply information as to where the next drugs can be obtained when he is released. We are not looking at the problems and stresses of society which one meets every day and which cause one to seek an escape The individual seeks to escape from those problems which he finds burdensome. We have been told that we have reached the stage of our development where the success or failure of government is based on the monetary development of the country. Whether the government is good or bad, whether it justifies rejection or retention is counted on last year’s gross national product. So if the Government can increase the gross national product of last year it is worthy of preservation. Noone has considered how much it has contributed to welfare or social justice.
Today we are reaching the moon. While we are seeking every avenue of development which may be polluting the air, noone has questioned whether the member of society with the highest standard of living has any greater enjoyment of life than his grandfather had 2 generations ago. There is a feeling that perhaps we should call a halt to our efforts to put astronauts on the moon. Perhaps we should call a halt to our development. But above all the value of a government should be decided by its contribution to the welfare and social success of society rather than by the advancement of industrial techniques.
I conclude by saying that it is very disappointing that of the recommendations of the Committee - which I see number 26 and which follow a well set out statement of evidence - very few have been put into effect. The Committee gives a warning about Commonwealth expenditure on education. The question has been asked whether this is right or whether it could do more harm. Today an allegation has been made about expenditure without full knowledge of those who have the responsibility of expending the money. The matter of a deterrent to stop tobacco companies advertising their wares and promoting the use of their product has been raised. The suggestion has been that a warning be placed on the packet - which no-one will read - that there is a danger to health from the particular cigarettes. Possibly it has reached the stage where we cannot impose a complete ban. This is one of the socially acceptable drugs of our society. We cannot put a complete ban on it and therefore we should seriously seek to curb the activities of tobacco companies.
In Australia the suicide rate is possibly increasing to a greater degree than in most countries. The increasing suicide rate is due to overdoses of drugs. A young lass because her parents forbid her to go out with a particular boy friend will, in desperation, go in and swallow a handful of drugs and it is necessary to use a stomach pump to revive her. There is the frustrated individual who knows no other remedy than to take a handful of drugs. There is the aged person who takes a prescribed drug and does not know whether he took his dose that night so be takes another dose to make sure. To prevent this impulsive taking of drugs because of an emotional upset the Committee recommended that drug tablets should be singly wrapped so that those seeking to take a fatal dose would take so long to undo them that the emotional upset would be overcome during that time. What has been done to adopt or consider these recommendations? There has been no prevention. The suggestion of the Committee in relation to prevention has not been implemented. By taking such action the Government would prevent what is occurring and reduce the toll of life in Australia. Unfortunately, it is not all old life that is being lost. The Committee found that there was a greater dependence upon medically prescribed drugs than non-medically prescribed drugs and a greater dependence upon legally medically prescribed drugs than upon imported prohibited drugs.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate. I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– 1 regret that it is necessary for me again to raise a matter that I have been pursuing since 17th April without success, but I have exhausted every avenue known to me in my quest for an answer from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) to a question. My question was whether a claim of conscientious objection to national service by Mr Paul Fox on 3rd March of this year, which was acknowledged by the Department of Labour and National Service on 6th April of this year, is entitled to be tested by a court of summary jurisdiction. I think it is important that I should relate to the Senate precisely the steps that 1 have taken. I repeat that I believe 1 have exhausted every avenue known to me in my endeavour to obtain satisfaction on behalf of my constituent of the State of Victoria.
When this matter was first brought to my notice on 17th April I sent an urgent telegram to the Minister for Labour and National Service in the following terms:
Understand Paul Fox imprisoned some time and claims to be a conscientious objector. Cannot understand why correct procedures to have objection tested have not been taken. Please advise.
That telegram was sent on 17th April. At 9.35 a.m. on 20th April I received a reply in Canberra in the following terms:
I acknowledge receipt of your telegram roncerning Paul Fox. The matters concern questions of law which I have referred to my colleague the Attorney-General for consideration.
The telegram was signed ‘Phillip Lynch, Minister for Labour and National Service*. On Tuesday, 18th April I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, Senator Wright, why facilities had not been made available to Paul Fox to have his claim tested. In his reply, the Minister adverted to section 51d of the National Service Act. Finally, he said that the matter would receive immediate attention. He added:
It is a matter upon which legal advice is necessary. Every effort will be made favourably to give an opportunity to have the claims of this man to be classified as a conscientious objector tested by the Court if the terms of the Act permit that now to be considered by the Court.
Because I was not satisfied with that answer I followed up the matter by speaking in the adjournment debate on the following night, 19th April. In my closing remarks on that occasion I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service to request the Minister for Labour and National Service to expedite the facilities that should be made available to Mr Fox to have his claim tested forthwith. Approximately a week later - on 27th April - I asked a question of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) because I had received advice from the Minister for Labour and National Service on 20th April and from the Minister who represents in this chamber the Minister for Labour and National Service on 19th April, that a matter that had to be considered in the legal sense was whether the application was applicable at that stage because of section 51d. On 27th April 1 asked the following question of the Attorney-General:
I ask the Attorney-General whether he has formulated any opinion on the application by Mr Paul Fox under section 29a of the National Service Act 1951, as amended, which was referred to his Department by the Minister for Labour and National Service? If he has not I ask him whether he is aware that it is over 7 weeks since the original application was sent to the Director of Labour and National Service in Melbourne? When did the Minister’s Department receive the referred matter for advice? Will the Minister expedite the advice sought by his colleague in another place?
The Attorney-General replied as follows:
I am unable to give the precise dates in response to the honourable senator’s question. It is a fact that advice was sought from my Department and that that advice was given to the Department of Labour and National Service some time ago.
You, Mr President, were good enough to allow me to ask a supplementary question in due course and I asked the AttorneyGeneral whether he would be good enough to supply to me by letter the specific details sought in the question I had asked previously. The Attorney-General, in response to my request, said that he would do so. To this date I have not received a reply. However, I did check with the solicitor who is representing Mr Fox on Tuesday of this week to ascertain whether any advice had been received, I checked yesterday and I checked again this morning. There was only a formal acknowledgement by the Minister for Labour and National Service of a letter from Mr Fox’s solicitors dated 28th April. It made no reference to requests made by Mr Fox’s solicitor over the period of time from 7th March to 28 th April that the matter be listed for hearing.
I decided then that 1 would attempt to see the Minister for Labour and National Service himself. Yesterday I attempted to make an appointment to see Mr Lynch. I said that I would be pleased if it would be possible for me to see him not later than 4 p.m. I received advice late in the afternoon that Mr Lynch had carriage of a bill in another place and he was not available. I understood the situation. I impressed upon the Minister’s secretary that I would like to know later in the evening whether it would be possible to see the Minister today. This morning 1 again rang the Minister’s office and it was suggested to me that I might be prepared to see the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Street. That I readily agreed to. However, I was rung back in a very short space of time and advised that Mr Street would be busy most of the time. It is true that originally I was invited to see the Assistant Minister right away but unfortunately it was not possible for me to do so because I was waiting on a call from Melbourne. Tentative arrangements were made for me to see him later on in the afternoon although I did stress upon his secretary that I would be grateful if an appointment could be arranged for not later than 6 o’clock this evening. I do not know whether the Assistant Minister or the Minister himself took umbrage because I was rather insistent due to the time factor. I did indicate that if I could not obtain satisfaction or an appointment, or both, I intended to take another course of action this evening, which I am now doing. Incidentally, I heard no more from the Minister’s office and I was in and around my office up until 6 p.m. by deliberate design. In the meantime I informed the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service that I would be raising this matter and that I would let him know if I were to change course before the adjournment of the Senate. Of course, that has not transpired.
I want to say at this stage that I frankly believe that Paul Fox is entitled to have his claim to be a conscientious objector tested by an appropriate court. However, if the Minister for Labour and National Service was advised by the Attorney-General’s some time prior to 27th April that Fox had no entitlement to have his claim decided, why was the Department not informed Fox’s legal advisers? It is now 10 weeks all but one day since Fox, through his solicitor, gave notice on Form 7 of his claim to be a conscientious objector. I repeat that it is just 3 weeks and 3 days today since I first raised the matter by telegram with the Minister for Labour and National Service. On 18th April I asked a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service and I spoke on this same subject matter on 19th April. It is 2 weeks today since the Attorney-General in answer to a question asked by me said:
It is a fact that advice was sought from my Department and that that advice was given to the Department of Labour and National Service some time ago.
I repeat that last week the Minister did acknowledge a letter from Fox’s solicitor dated 28th April 1972. That letter from Fox’s solicitor reads:
We act on behalf of the abovenamed who has been in custody since the 4rd of March, 1972, for failure to comply with a call-up notice.
Our office was consulted by the abovenamed on the 2nd of March, 1972 and on that date signed an application for total exemption as a Conscientious Objector.
This application together with our covering letter was forwarded to the Registrar on the 3rd of March. 1972.
Notwithstanding the urgency of the situation in view of the fact that our client has been in jail since that date, the Registrar has ignored all our pleas for a speedy hearing apart, from acknowledging our letter containing Mr Fox’s application, on the 7th of April, 1972, more than one month after it was sent to the Department.
In view of the extreme urgency of this situation we would implore you to exercise your discretion under Regulation 32 (a) and refer this question to a competent Court of Summary Jurisdiction for hearing and decision.
Kindly contact Mr Gullaci of our office if von require any further details.
The extraordinary thing about this is that it was a week after the Attorney-General had informed me on 27th April that advice had been sought by the Department of Labour and National Service from his Department ‘some time ago’ that the Minister replied to that letter. I do not know how long before 27th April, which was the day on which 1 asked the question, the Attorney-General is referring to when he says ‘some time ago’, but certainly it was before 27th April. So Mr Fox’s solicitor wrote to the Minister for Labour and
National Service on 28th April. The Minister acknowledged receipt of that letter last week, but in that letter there was no reference by the Minister to the advice he may have received from the Attorney-General’s Department. I think it is fair comment that that is strange conduct indeed. Why is the Minister delaying - I believe it can be said that he is delaying deliberately - in informing Fox’s solicitor on precisely where he stands? I think the charge fairly could be laid on the Government that the Government’s treatment of Fox reeks of discrimination and political persecution. This conduct is intolerable and cannot go unchallenged. In the interests of not only Paul Fox but also other young men who may fall foul of this Government, the Government’s treatment of him must be exposed to the public. I believe that I have exhausted every avenue that is available to me in trying to obtain an answer to the simple question whether Paul Fox has an entitlement to have his application as a conscientious objector tested.
Fox’s legal representatives have written a number of letters to the Registrar of the Department of Labour and National Service, namely on 7th and 30th March. They wrote on 28th April the letter to which I referred first to the Registrar and then to the Minister asking for a reply to their request for a speedy hearing. These letters have never been acknowledged. I say again that I have been pursuing this matter since 17th April. In the meantime this young man has been languishing in that medieval institution called Pentridge Gaol, Coburg, for 10 weeks and 1 day. If and when this man’s claim is tested what will happen if the court upholds it? What right of redress does he have for the time he has languished in that place to which they refer as Pentridge Gaol, Coburg?
I believe that in view of the treatment to which Fox has been subjected 2 things should be done. Firstly, Fox’s claim to be a conscientious objector should be tested at the earliest moment. Secondly, I believe that whatever date is fixed for the hearing Paul Fox should be given the opportunity to seek bail and the Commonwealth should not oppose bail so that he can be released from Pentridge Gaol, Coburg. I ask the Minister to impress upon the Minister for Labour and National Service in another place the sequence of events that have transpired to date in relation to this matter. I believe an injustice has been done, for whatever reason and whoever may be responsible. I think it can be said that the inordinate delay in answering the question I asked the Minister on 18th April is unjustified in the sense that 10 weeks and one day is not 2 or 3 weeks. Will the Minister ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to accede to the 2 requests that I have made this evening on behalf of Paul Fox?
– I wish to speak briefly on a matter which I have mentioned to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright). I do not anticipate that he will be able to answer the matters that I will raise this evening but I would like him, if he would, to refer them to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who is responsible for them. At the present time there is being held in Canberra an international training course in management services. It is being attended by some 24 fellows from a number of Asian and African countries who have been sponsored under the Colombo Plan, the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan and the South Pacific Aid Programme. The fellows who are attending this course were selected as a result of competitive entry by these persons who are engaged in administration in their respective countries. They are attending this course at present in Canberra where lectures are being given by a number of people on the problems of management and the problems of administration. Certainly I would not wish in any way to reflect upon the competence of the persons who are giving the lectures, nor do I wish to say that the matters on which the lectures are being given are not in themselves extremely interesting. No doubt in many circumstances they could be very valuable to those who attend them, but the problem as it has been put to me is that a very great number of the persons who are attending the course, namely men and one lady from Singapore, are very senior civil servants who have had a great deal of experience in administration. At least some of them already have attended high level courses in other countries such as the United States of America. They are not a novice group of civil servants who have been brought to Australia virtually to learn the ropes as junior civil servants. They are very senior people in their own countries. What some of them, at least, believe would have been appropriate would have been for them to work in Australian government departments in conjunction with their Australian counterparts. Many of the countries from which they come are recently independent and it is understandable that they would not have had the experience in administration that we would have in this country. Apparently these fellows who have come here were under the impression that they would be working in conjunction with senior Australian public servants who hold ranks similar to those which they hold in their own countries, and that they would be gaining experience at a high level in what was done in Australia in the fields of which they work. However, they have found that the course they are attending is one which many of them feel is rather elementary compared with the level which they have already reached and the training which they have already had.
This course, I am sure, is well intentioned although it is at a relatively elementary level. It is not at an absolutely elementary level but a relatively elementary level when one compares the qualifications and experience of those who have come here. It is a very valuable course. However it does seem that perhaps it is not suitable for at least some of the fellows attending it; that we would be doing a more useful job if we were to allow these people, if they wish, to work in conjunction with their Australian counterparts.
I do not expect the Minister for Works to be able to comment one way or the other about this matter this evening but I ask him to refer it to the Minister for Education and Science. The course started on 3rd May and I understand that the people will be in Australia for 2 or 3 months. I urge the Minister to ask the Minister for Education and Science to make some inquiries and to see whether what I have put to him is well founded. I am afraid that I am not in a position to vouch for it being well founded but I think that bona fide people believe it is well founded. I ask him to see whether some change in the arrangement made with these people could be accomplished before the end of their stay in Australia.
– I listened to Senator Wheeldon and I am grateful to him for bringing a matter of this sort under notice so that I can refer it to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). I am grateful to him also for the terms in which he submitted the matter. My response is that I will not leave it to the routine method by which these matters are conveyed to the Minister; I shall convey the sense of his submissions to the Minister, if not tonight then tomorrow morning, so that he can give it the earliest possible attention in the hope that if there is substance for the representations they will be acceded to.
Turning to the matter raised by Senator Brown, I wish to acknowledge the courtesy that he paid me of ringing me this afternoon to advise that failing an interview with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) he would raise the matter of Paul Fox again this evening. I wish to inform Senator Brown that the Minister for Labour and National Service has this matter under close and active consideration. He is well aware of the full circumstances of the case, most of it having been transversed in this chamber on a previous occasion when Senator Brown spoke about it on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
I merely want to add one or two further points. At the court hearing which led to the conviction of Mr Fox for failure to report for national service, he did not claim to hold conscientious beliefs which would entitle him to recognition as a conscientious objector; nor did he even suggest that he may have applied, or intended to apply, for exemption on those grounds.
– But he does now. Give him a hearing. That is all we ask.
– Please! Moreover, he was not represented at the hearing notwithstanding that, on the basis of the date of his application for conscientious objection and the date of the letter forwarding it to the Department of Labour and National Service, a firm of solicitors was acting on his behalf in relation to his national service liability. I understand also that Mr Fox has admitted that his conscientious objection application was not dated when he signed it and that he has declined to indicate when he signed it. The Minister nevertheless, as I said, is giving close and active consideration to Mr Fox’s case. As soon as he concludes his consideration of the case - it demands very careful consideration - a decision will be made and communicated at the earliest possible opportunity to Paul Fox, his solicitor and Senator Brown.
– Like my colleague Senator Brown, I want to raise a subject that could be directly associated with the restriction of civil liberties. I was surprised to learn today that the long talked about intention of the Government to bring in a special ordinance had been advertised in the other place. I am intrigued by some of the words used in the Minister’s statement. They are:
Existing legal provisions are not sufficiently definite or precise in respect of persons camping on unleased Commonwealth land within the city area. This would apply to all open spaces such as Capital Hill, City Hill, median strips, nature strips and other vacant land. The proposed ordinance will make it generally an offence for persons to camp on unleased land in the city area and empower authorities to move their possessions away in the event that they do not comply within reasonable time with a direction to remove them.
The next paragraph of the statement reads as follows:
The change in the law will of course apply to the areas around Parliament House.
I hope that this proposed ordinance is not to be directed against the Aborigines who have been camped on the lawns in front of Parliament House since 26th January this year. They have camped there because they feel that that is the best way they have of demonstrating their disappointment about the restoration of lands which they once owned in this country. During this period they have been extremely well behaved. They have kept the area clean. I have never seen any sort of activity carried out by them that could be objected to by any honourable senator. It is true that on one or two occasions Senator Wood has asked that they be moved. He has asked questions along those lines in the Senate but, Mr President, I wonder how he would feel if it were indicated that there were large veins of nickel, gold or something else there and he wanted to peg out a lease in order to develop the area. He would be perfectly entitled to do that in accordance with the laws of the land, whether or not the area is in front of Parliament House. I wonder if some sort of ordinance would be brought in to prevent that sort of thing happening.
If the introduction of this ordinance is intended to lead to a confrontation with these people who represent many thousands of others in this country then all 1 can say is that the Government has a weakness for committing political suicide. We have seen the Government badly handle a number of things this year and on every occasion there has been a violent public reaction against its activities. I hope it is not going to add to the list.
The people in the Aboriginal embassy - there usually are about 7, 8 or 9 there - have been well adopted by Canberra residents. They have been supported in many ways by Canberra residents - morally, financially and in other respects. A large group of youngsters at the Australian National University has indicated support for them. I should imagine that if this ordinance is brought into operation and physical action is taken to evict them we probably will find not the remnants of this group there but perhaps 1,000 Aborigines converging on Canberra.
On the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘This Day Tonight’ this evening I heard John Newfong say what I thought were a few well chosen words. He said that instead of a confrontation of this sort the Government ought to be praying for a long, hard, cold winter in the hope that it would whittle down the numbers at the Aboriginal embassy. If these people are moved from the lawns the Government might consider providing them with warm quarters somewhere for the period of their months-long vigil. The Aborigines have indicate publicly on more than one occasion that they are prepared to move out after the election. Perhaps the Government might consider allowing them to move their residence to King’s Hall for the winter period while the cold weahter is with us.
Another inference that might be drawn from the statement made by the Minister concerned is that if the Aborigines make application for a lease of the area it is remotely possible that it might be granted to them. I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who represents the
Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt), whether this is one of the special leases. If it is, it will extend for a period of 50 years unless there are other types of leases which may be made available under the existing ordinances as they are administered by the Minister for the Interior and the National Capital Development Commission. I make this appeal on behalf of a group of people who, I feel, have behaved themselves admirably and made known to many Australians and to people outside this country their point about the unfairness of the Government’s attitudes in relation to their being able to obtain land which was originally theirs. If it is the intention to introduce this ordinance for the specific purpose of having a confrontation, my advice is: Please do not do it, because it will lead to all sorts of ugly problems that we do not want to see in this country. I think that they have a perfect right, as normal human beings, to receive some sort of compassion from this Parliament, and particularly from this Government.
– I have noted the remarks of Senator Keeffe about the statement I presented in the Senate on behalf of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). I must tell him that my knowledge of the matter is no greater than his own. I have no particular knowledge of the subject other than that which the statement contains. I am not able to read any inferences into it. Senator Keeffe has made observations about it and the problem that he sees developing. What I can best do to help him in his views is to pass on to the responsible Minister what he has had to say tonight. I shall do that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were given:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Gladstone, Laguna Bay, Caloundra, Brisbane/ Moreton Bay (11), Newcastle, Sydney Harbour (15), Botany Bay (2), Port Phillip (4), Westernport (7), Melbourne (56), Geelong (15), Portland (2), Hobart (8), Devonport (4), Tamar River (5), Stanley/Port Latta (2), Corrong, Port Adelaide (4), Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Streaky Bay (3), Port Stanvac, Fremantle (40), Bunbury, Port Walcott (2).
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD - The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Has the Government conducted negotiations with any country other than the United States of America and France regarding the possibility of establishing uranium enrichment facilities in Australia; if so, what countries have been involved and what stage or conclusion has been reached with these discussions.
Senator COTTON- The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There have been discussions with a number of countries on various aspects of the possibility of establishing uranium enrichment facilities in Australia, e.g. on the likely demand for enriched uranium, which has a major effect on the need and timing for such a plant; on the status and availability of centrifuge and diffusion technologies; on the suitability of Australia as a possible site for such a plant. These matters have been discussed variously with representatives of the U.K., U.S.A., France, Canada and Japan. In the case of France, as has been announced fairly recently, we are presently engaged in a preliminary assessment of the feasibility of establishing a plant in Australia, based on the use of French diffusion technology. This study is of a preliminary nature, with no commitment to the next detailed stage. Discussions with the other countries have all been of a preliminary nature and no conclusions have been reached.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON - The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Senator COTTON-The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
These payments were by way of grants or loans mainly for rail standardisation projects.
N.B. - Outstanding Debt is funds provided by or owed to Treasuries. It does not .include long term or current liabilities.
This information has been extracted from the Annual Reports of the railway systems. It should be noted there are substantial differences in accounting methods and terminology among the systems and even within the systems at different points in time.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2) and (3). Prior to August 1971 vehicles with drivers were hired from time to time from the Department of Supply to meet peak demands. During July 1971 certain vehicles were disposed of because it was not economical to repair them. Until replacement vehicles could be purchased, the need arose to hire vehicles without drivers - a need that could not be satisfied through the Department of Supply.
Quotations were obtained from leading truck rental firms and the quote submitted by Avis Truck Rental was accepted. For the period 2nd August 1971 to 31st March 1972, less than 6 trucks a day have, on average, been hired from Avis Truck Rental at a total cost of $13,209.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Do vehicles in the Postmaster-General’s Department, Melbourne Transport Branch comply with the Victoria Police Force standards of roadworthiness; if not, in which respect to PostmasterGeneral’s Department vehicles fall short of these standards.
Senator GREENWOOD- The PostmasterGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 22nd March 1972, Senator Poyser asked me the following question:
I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Who made the decision to ban the ‘Four Corners’ programme on the Sydney Town Hall abortion reform debate addressed by Dr Germaine Greer and Dr Colin Clark? On what grounds was the decision made? Can the Minister explain why, notwithstanding the television ban, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is programming edited highlights of the same debate in ‘Fact and Opinion’ tonight on radio on its first network?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
The decision not to devote the entire ‘Four Corners’ programme of 18th and 19th March to an edited version of a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall at which one of the speakers was Dr Germaine Greer was properly made within the ABC having regard to the many opportunities given to Dr Greer on ABC radio and television during her Australian visit to present her views on a wide variety of subjects.
In all, Dr Greer during her Australian visit appeared in ABC radio programmes for a total time of approximately 3 hours. Some of these programmes were repeated. Her appearances on ABC television totalled approximately one and three-quarter hours. In addition, a further television programme which Dr Greer recorded with an Adelaide psychologist just before leaving Sydney, is in the course of production. This will probably run 45 minutes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The
Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
At a recent conference with the local authorities it was agreed that the State Education authorities would initiate action with the State Government to approach the Commonwealth with a view to the State obtaining the site.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720511_senate_27_s52/>.