28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. By way of preface I refer to earlier concern expressed by the Waterside Workers Federation, the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Association and the Transport Workers Union about some safety measures in relation to different types of overhead cranes, forklifts and lifting appliances generally. The question I put to the Minister is: Does he know whether the Minister for Labour has effected any liaison between unions and the State departments of labour and industry to ensure that there is uniformity when new types of cranes from Europe are introduced to Australia?
– The Minister for Labour, Mr Clyde Cameron, has already stated that he intends to consult as soon as possible his counterparts in the State in order to set up a uniform safety code. Of course that will be a general code. All I can say in relation to particular industries is that I know that there have been consultations between Commonwealth departmental officers and State officers. As far as I am aware there has been no move yet for a uniform standard. But 1 would think that the position will be covered generally when that conference, which has been promoted by the Commonwealth, gets under way.
– My question is addressed to the Minster for the Media. If he has not already done so will the Minister give consideration to taking early legislative action to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act in relation to the ban on the broadcasting of political matter within 48 hours of an election? I am sure he will agree that in the past ithas been found impossible to put this ban into practice, particularly in relation to State elections and especially if they are held when the Australian Parliament is in session.
– I have had discussions with officers of my Department and with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board about general, overall amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act. Further discussions will be taking place next Monday. Section 116, which applies a definition to the broadcasting and televising of electoral matter, is being looked at. AsI understand the position to date, the general interpretation of the existing section has been to exclude news broadcasts relating to political speeches and events within the 3-day period from midnight on the Wednesday preceding the rate of the election. I think that at least in that respect the present Act is restrictive and I have asked my officers and the Control Board to prepare amendments for the Government’s consideration.
I must say in further replying to the honourable senator that if the situation is to be eased it will be necessary for solid assurances to be given by the licensees so that if a particular station chooses to indulge in partisan and biased reporting on the eve of an election the parties discriminated against can be confident that they will have an opportunity to reply. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board should have power, if necessary, to order a station to provide this opportunity without unreasonable restrictions being imposed by the station concerned on the terms of the reply. I trust that all honourable senators will support an amendment to this effect when the amending legislation is brought forward, which I hope will be in the next session of Parliament.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property. I ask: Is there in operation in Canberra for the benefit of the Public Service a scheme for the subsidisation of rents payable by public servants? If so. on what legislation is it based?
- Senator Willesee, who is abroad at the moment, represents in this chamber the Minister for Services and Property. I am unaware of the details sought by the honourable senator in his question. Therefore I ask him to place his question on the notice paper.
– In addition to Senator Willesee and Senator Wriedt being abroad at the moment on Government business, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, is today attending a steering committee meeting on the proposed revision of the Constitution. As Senator Bishop, Senator Cavanagh and I, because of the circumstances, represent a large number of portfolios, I seek the indulgence of honourable senators in the placing on the notice paper of as many questions as possible on subjects that are not within the immediate responsibility of my colleagues and I.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that Australian wheat industry leaders will meet officials of the Department of Primary Industry on Monday to begin discussions on a new 5-year wheat stabilisation scheme? Is the Minister aware that the Minister for Primary Industry is reported to have announced in Paris that the Australian Government intends strictly to limit price guarantees to wheat farmers under any new wheat industry stabilisation scheme? Is the Minister aware that Liberal-Country Party coalition governments traditionally have taken decisions relating to financial assistance for primary industries only after receiving submissions from various industry leaders? Does he not agree that the Minister’s reported announcement at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development conference in Paris pre-empts any discussion that could be had on submissions forthcoming from Monday’s conference? In those circumstances will the visit by industry leaders be a waste of time?
– Firstly, I wish to say that the present Minister for Primary Industry is not responsible for anything the Australian Country Party may have done during its period in office and that what has been the practice of the Country Party in relation to this matter will not of necessity be the practice of the present Government. I believe that there is to be a conference on Monday. In relation to Senator Wriedt’s statement in Paris, I wish to state that the Government’s aim is to eliminate as far as possible subsidies and support to agricultural industries where returns from the market are adequate to ensure continued production. Basically the Government’s approach is to look for stable prices and adjustments of industry so that the output of the product is in line with the re quirements of the market. The Government’s specific policy on support for the wheat industry will be determined in the course of the negotiations for a new wheat stabilisation plan that are about to commence.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry. Do the comments of the Minister for Primary Industry at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Committee for Agriculture conference in Paris that any future price guarantee to the wheat industry will be strictly limited mean that returns to wheat growers in the future will be determined by world prices and that the Australian wheat industry will be competing with highly subsidised exporters such as Canada and the United States of America?
– I would have thought that my answer to the previous question gave an indication of the Government’s intention in this regard. If the industry can stand on its feet, it must stand on its feet. We are relying on a Press report that came from Paris. At the next day of sitting the Minister will have returned and will be able to account for the statements he made to the conference. 1 would suggest that the honourable senator repeat his question on the return of the Minister.
– I address a question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is this present Government genuinely opposed to all forms of racism? Did it before the Parliament met exclude or restrict 19 girl visitors who were members of a religious organisation on their way to New Zealand on the ground that they were born in Rhodesia? If the Government is sincere, can the Minister explain why it is still giving financial assistance to the barbarous regime of President Amin in Uganda and why it is spending $30,000 in training Ugandan teachers in this country?
– So far as the first portion of the honourable senator’s question is concerned, namely whether this Government is genuinely opposed to all forms of racism, I give a very strong affirmative answer. We most certainly are opposed to all forms of racial discrimination. So far as the second portion of the honourable senator’s question is concerned, namely whether the Australian Government excluded 19 visitors from Rhodesia on their way to New Zealand - I am now speaking from recollection - my impression was that the Government decided toallow these people to stay overnight in Australia on their way to and from New Zealand and their home country. So far as the remainder of the honourable senator’s question is concerned, namely our giving aid to President Amin in Uganda, I assume that what the honourable senator says is correct. So far as the training of teachers is concerned, it is the policy of the Australian Government to assist all underprivileged people in the world by giving them the best of professional advice and assistance that we can.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour noted the acceleration of profits made by most companies, as reported daily in the financial columns of the Press? Is the Minister aware that there is an increasing demand that wage and salary earners should have their wages pegged as a one-sided contribution to combating inflation? Does the Minister agree that profits play a significant part in the cost structure of prices? Can the Minister advise the Senate whether he knows of any private company that has agreed to peg profits or even reduce them as its contribution to curbing inflation?
– I think what the honourable senator says is well known, namely, that in the general sense of the economy and profitability most industries are doing fairly well. I refer particularly, of course, to secondary industry and other areas of the economy. I notice also that the reaction of most of those people we would regard as conservative to what has been a custom and a fact of life in Western countries - that is, this inflationary trend - is to say that the way to stop it is to depress wage levels. The Labor Government does not agree with that. Our position is very clear. I would think that in an era of increased productivity and profitability the workers’ share in that productivity must be increased. As to the last part of the honourable senator’s question, I am aware that in a few industries in Australia there is a minimal form of profit sharing and that in some other industries there are minimal arrangements between the unions and the employers for bonuses related to productivity. But in a general sense there certainly is no recognised agreement by organised employers and industry generally that the workers should share in any way in profits in a particular industry. However, I would think that the general approach of. the union movement and the Australian Council of Trade Unions today - the Labor Government supports this - is that workers should be able, by collective arrangements and bargaining, to get some share of the profitability of industry.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Will the Minister say when the legislation to reduce the means test progressively is to be introduced? When the means test has been removed, will the Government consider also removing the requirement that superannuation contributions in the Public Service be compulsory so that members of the Public Service may choose other ways of saving if they want to do so?
– It is the policy of the Labor Government to abolish the means test over the lifetime of a Parliament. This means that legislation will be introduced periodically to abolish the means test over a period of 3 years. I understand that the Government will be moving in that regard in the first instance during the forthcoming Budget session. Regarding the second aspect of the honourable senator’s question, namely the requirement about superannuation, I know that a committee has been established by the Minister for Social Security, Mr Hayden, to inquire into the effects of a national superannuation scheme.
– My question is addressed to the acting Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen the telex report of the statement by the Minister for Primary Industry that there would be no more open-ended subsidies to the wheat industry? What open-ended subsidy has existed in the past? Have the subsidies not been determined by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics calculations relating to cost movements and limited in quantity to 200 million bushels?
Having regard to the Minister’s statement that a rural price organisation similar to the Tariff Board is to be set up, does the statement indicate that the determinations of such a body will be overridden by the Minister?
– I have not seen the telex report of the statement referred to. I think I answered all the points in the honourable senator’s question when I replied to Senator Drake-Brockman’s earlier question. It is clear that this Government will not give what has been described as ‘open-ended’ subsidies to primary industry. Where there is a need to give subsidies to industry, whether primary or secondary, for the purpose of permitting the industry to continue and in order to permit a reasonable degree of prosperity for it, this Government will do so. It could well assist areas of industry rather than grant overall compensation.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that there are at present 140 Recovery groups operating in Australian States and the Australian Capital Territory? Does he realise that Recovery is a unique voluntary community mental health service offering a sufferer to sufferer relationship which assists the expatient’s rehabilitation? Has his attention been drawn to the claim of the Recovery movement in South Australia that it keeps at least 20 people out of psychiatric hospitals each year, resulting in a saving of approximately $72,000? As some States are already making annual grants to this organisation -I was pleased to see that the Commonwealth recently saw fit to make a grant of approximately $1,350 to the Australian Capital Territory branch - and as the organisation requires $30,000 a year to operate nationally, will the Government consider making such a grant to enable these sufferers to be more speedily returned to the workforce?
– I am very much aware of the excellent work performed by the organisation known as Recovery because my wife is a very active member of it in New South Wales. The Recovery organisation originated in Australia and as a result of the excellent work that it has performed here, it has now spread to a number of other countries, particularly to the United States of America. I am given to understand that one of the honorary officers of the Recovery organisation is going to the United States in the near future to advise on how Recovery functions in Australia. As I have said, 1 know of the excellent work that the organisation does. I personally believe that because of its excellent work it keeps a tremendous number of people out of psychiatric institutions. I will certainly refer the honourable senator’s question to my colleague, the Minister for Health in another place. It will have my sympathetic support.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour which is related to a question asked a few minutes ago by Senator Gietzelt. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the seriously depressed value of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. shares arising from the meagre return on that Company’s funds, particularly in relation to its steel interests? How does he reconcile this position with Senator Gieztelt’s reference to excessive profits in industry?
– Senator Laucke will know that when I answered Senator Gietzelt’s question I spoke in a general way. I think that my answer has been supported by the comments of honourable senators opposite who, during various debates in the Parliament, have shown that they are concerned with what they call the inflationary trend. Generally speaking, the Australian economy is in a state of prosperity. Some incidental stresses are occurring at present, but they are not symptomatic of the state of the whole economy. Senator Gietzelt referred to an impression which is held by most conservative elements in the community and by employers that the attack on inflation should be concentrated simply on attempts to reduce wage standards, and that was the sense in which I answered his question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. I refer to the current Whyalla work force syndrome. Does the Minister agree that the salary position of guest workers in major industries in Europe is related to the highest wage applying whereas in Whyalla migrants are being utilised at the lowest rate applicable?
– The Minister for Labour has already laid on the table in the other place figures which illustrate that the wages paid to, and the various fringe benefits enjoyed by workers who come from overseas and from other parts of Australia to work at Whyalla are at a lower level than those which are generally applicable in other comparable industries. The facts are well known. They indicate one of the reasons why the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd in Whyalla is somewhat embarrassed about its work force and about productivity, which was the general basis of the question asked by Senator Laucke. I know that for many years in my State, in the era of the Playford Government and during part of the early years of the Labor Government, BHP was given a preferential status in the community and it had fairly liberal conditions which would not be available to employers in other States who had to compete generally on the labour markets. The simple answer to Senator Mulvihill’s question is this: It seems clear to me that if BHP wants to get in line with the other sectors of industry in that area it should certainly lift its wage standards and fringe benefits to the levels that are granted by employers in other parts of Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. I refer to the question asked by Senator Marriott and the Ministers answer in which he indicated that on Monday next he will be discussing this matter of political broadcasts. Will the Minister also look at the question of repealing that section of the Broadcasting and Television Act which was passed by the last Labor Government and which restricts the presentation of political matter in dramatic form?
– It is true that section 1 16 of the Broadcasting and Television Act was inserted by the previous Labor Government in 1948 as a result of very dramatic broadcasts that were being perpetrated at that time by the Liberal Party in the name of John Henry Austral. In the 23 years of administration by the LiberalCountry Party Government, despite requests which were made from time to time by the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations and the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters, the former PostmasterGeneral, Sir Alan Hulme, and his predecessors would not agree to the repeal of the section. I certainly do not think that a Labor Government would agree to its repeal, but I believe that in certain respects there should be some relaxation of the existing provisions, particularly the broadcasting of news.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Works. I remind him of his directive in December that in allocating contracts consideration should be given to the relationship of the contractor with the trade union movement. I ask the Minister whether any contract has been refused to a contractor whose tender was the lowest because, in the opinion of the Minister, the relationship of the contractor with the trade union movement was adverse.
– The answer is no.
– My question is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate.I apologise to him because the question probably should be directed to either Senator Willesee or Senator Wriedt, but in their absenseI hope he will be able to provide me with an answer. My question refers to reports of an offer to the Australian Government by the Rio Tinto Zinc Corporation, a British company, of a large share holding in Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia Ltd. Has the Australian Government received any such offer? If so, is that offer being considered?
– I heard the report on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news service this morning. That is as much as I know about the matter. I will refer the question to my colleague, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, and find out for the honourable senator what the situation is.
– In the absence of the Minister representing the Treasurer, I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. I realise that he may find difficulty in answering the question but I hope that he, as a Cabinet Minister, can help me. I refer to the Federal Government’s plan to introduce maternity and paternity leave for public servants. Can the Minister give me an estimate of the cost of this measure to the Australian taxpayer? Will there be a need for more Commonwealth public servants to be employed to enable this leave to be given? Does the Government expect that this benefit will flow on to the private sector? If so, what would be the anticipated cost to industry?
– I am given to understand that no figures are available on the estimated cost of the new provisions to bring Public Service working standards and conditions into line with conventions adopted by the International Labour Organisation. The question whether these provisions will flow over into the private sector is rather hypothetical. The Labor Government adopts the attitude that the Public Service should give fair and reasonable working conditions to all its employees. The Labor Government will ratify the conventions that have been agreed upon by governments at International Labour Organisation meetings.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Australian Delegation to the 27th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held at United Nations headquarters in New York from 19th September 1972 to 1 9th December 1972.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the interim report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on Australia’s relations with Indonesia.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the sub-committee of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council on nursing home insurance proposals, dated 1st August 1972.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report on the survey of Child Migrant Education in Schools of High Migrant Density in Melbourne.
– By leave - I am grateful to the Senate for the opportunity of making a few brief references to this report on the survey of child migrant education in schools of high migrant density in Melbourne. My interest in the report springs not only from its content but also from the reference in its conclusions to the Migrant Education Committee of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council. The Migrant Education Committee of the Council was set up during my term as Chairman of the Council. Senator Mulvihill, the present Chairman, naturally will be aware of its existence. To a certain extent it pioneered the work referred to in this report. The survey, which is the substance of this report, was initiated by the previous Minister for Immigration and the former Minister for Education and Science. It is interesting to observe in the conclusions of this report that attention is drawn to the problems occasioned by the shortage of accommodation. The Migrant Education Committee of the Advisory Council became aware in its surveys, carried out, I think, last year, of the difficulties which shortage of accommodation was causing in the migrant education program. I recall that members of the Committee visited many schools of a variety of kinds in several capital cities and took note of many of the needs of child migrant education.
The Migrant Education Committee of the Advisory Council comprises distinguished people in all fields of education and I understand they are continuing their work. I hope that the Advisory Council will continue to use their expertise but, more importantly, I hope that the Government will take advantage of their findings. The statement which the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland) has just tabled notes the role and interest of the Council’s sub-committee and the important field of research into child migrant education. I draw the Ministers attention to this comment.
– Does this area come within the scope of investigation undertaken by the Senate committee looking into the education of deprived children?
– That would be a matter for discussion and, perhaps, debate but the report tabled by the Minister refers to a specific area of needy children - migrant children who have been having difficulties in education, notably in the English language, and who, because of their location, may be regarded as deprived children. The report which the Minister has tabled contains conclusions and recommendations which will require action by the Government. I would not think that an immediate reaction would be to refer it to the committee-
– I was wondering whether the committee 1 mentioned was considering this aspect as part of its reference.
– I imagine that the committee to which the honourable senator refers would have, or would seek to have, this document among its papers. I think that it would give some consideration to it and then decide whether to take up this matter. Returning to my short statement on this report which Senator Douglas McClelland has presented, 1 would say briefly that at this time last year some 25,000 children were receiving instruction and some 600 teachers were employed under the child migrant education program.
I commend the Government for its response to this report, which response was referred to in a speech made in another place by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). I hope that the response will be taken further in examining the committee’s findings. Finally. I point out that the problems referred to herewith are both educational and social, and the successful adoption of appropriate action and finding effective solutions to the problems referred to in the report will add greatly to the quality of our national life and it will be to Australia’s advantage.
Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales)by leave - I concur largely with the sentiments expressed by Senator Davidson. I think that the success of the remedies to be undertaken will depend to a large degree on how the various State education systems respond. It is quite clear that education is a field in which numerous calls are made. I know that the Commonwealth Minister for Education (Mr
Beazley) has taken an interest in this matter not only since he has become a Minister. In the campaign preceding the election of the new Government, at each place the Minister visited he made on the spot checks of the mounting problems. I know some of the problems facing primary schools in the electorate of Evans, which has a very high Italian population, and the problems facing primary schools in the outer western suburbs of Sydney.
Like Senator Davidson, I emphasise the point that when the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council holds its next meeting in mid-July, no doubt we will be watching the responses of the various States. I say that because when the findings were announced and there was a reasonably favourable and optimistic response from the Victorian educational authorities. I detected one educational officer in the New South Wales department who seemed to be bitching a little bit. He said: ‘Yes, and what share of the cake will we get?’ I think this is a challenge to all concerned. I know that all of us realise that under our Federal system we can achieve reforms of this nature only when we are working in tandem. Mr Beazley, the Commonwealth Government and all the State governments have to achieve reforms in this field and, frankly, they have to do it in the context where, although some schools do not have the same migrant problem as do other schools, they have basic accommodation and teacher problems. I repeat that it is a complex question, but, in the spirit in which the report was tendered, I think that at this time next year we will have made sizeable gains.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table the following papers:
Particulars of proposed expenditure for the service of the year ending 30tb June 1973; and
Particulars of certain proposed additional expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1973.
I ask for leave to move a motion relating to their reference to the Senate Estimates committees.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a paper entitled ‘Components of the Growth of Australia’s Major Urban Centres’.
– In accordance with the orders of the Senate of 25 th November 1965 I lay on the table the following paper:
Copy of an instrument dated 3rd February 1973 made pursuant to section 5 of the Housing Loans Insurance Act 1965-1966 declaring a class of persons to be an approved class of lenders.
I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the paper.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I have laid on the table copy of an instrument made by the Minister for Housing (Mr LesJohnson) pursuant to section 5 of the Housing Loans Insurance Act 1965-1966 declaring credit unions, credit societies and other co-operative, industrial and provident societies that make mortgage loans to their members to be an approved class of lenders. Section 5 of the Housing Loans Insurance Act provides that approved classes of lenders may be declared by the Minister and that individual lenders within these classes may be approved by the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. The classes of lenders already approved include most of the main sources of housing finance, and the Corporation has approved more than 500 individual lenders within these classes.
The declaration of credit unions as an approved class of lenders follows the liberalisation of the conditions under which they may be accepted as repositories for savings under the homes savings grants scheme, and indicates our support for the credit union movement. It is now open for credit unions to apply to the Corporation to become approved lenders and to insure with the Corporation those housing loans which meet its requirements. The instrument also caters for co-operative societies other than credit unions that are registered or incorporated under laws relating to co-operative, industrial or provident societies and that lend to their members on mortgage security. We believe that it is desirable that all reputable organisations which wish to insure their housing loans with the Corporation should be able to do so provided they meet the Corporation’s conditions.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
– I inform honourable senators that on behalf of the Senate I have to receive a delegation from the Parliament of the Republic of Indonesia. I ask the Chairman of Committees to take the chair while I perform this ceremony on behalf of the Senate.
– I move:
Thai in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary, Standing COmmitte on Public Works for investigation and report: Modernisation of HMA Naval Dockyard, Williamstown, Victoria (Stage 1).
The proposed work involves modernisation of existing facilities and the construction of new facilities necessary to allow the construction and launching of a bare hull. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $7. 6m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of new telephone exchange at Windsor, Victoria.
The proposed telephone exchange is to be an 8-storey reinforced concrete-framed structure with an external brick facade. The building is to be air conditioned and will accommodate telecommunications equipment. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $6m. [ table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Kane) agreed to: That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to restrict increases in prices of certain goods and servces resulting from the making of industrial agreements, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate be postponed until tha next day of sitting.
– I move:
That Government business, order of the day No. 1, be postponed until after consideration of orders of the day Nos 2, 3, 13, 12, 9, 10 and 11.
This will mean that the Senate will proceed to consider the Public Service Bill, the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill, the proposed joint select committee on prices, the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill, the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2), the Excise Bill and the Papua New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank) Bill in that order.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– 1 move:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 1 May next, unless sooner called together by the President or, in the event of the President being unavailable owing to illness or other cause, by the Chairman of Committees, provided that the President upon a request or requests by a majority of senators that the Senate meet at a certain time shall fix a day and hour of meeting in accordance with such request or requests and such time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter. For the purpose of determining a majority the total number of senators shall be understood to exclude senators who by reason of absence overseas or illness are unavailable to register a request.
– I would like to have this matter adjourned until a later hour this day. I do so for one reason and one reason only: The Senate will recall that I have on the notice paper under general business a motion which is not in the same terms but in similar terms to that just moved by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland). Before the Opposition could consider that motion we would like some ruling from the President as to how the persons absent overseas or absent from illness are to be determined. How is the President to inform himself whether Senator X is overseas or whether he is ill? Is he to inform himself by a procedure by which the Leader of the Party to which Senator X belongs tells him that Senator X is not able to send a telegram because he is overseas or because he is ill? I think we ought to give the President an opportunity to inform the Senate that if that is passed -
– You are not debating this matter now?
– No, I am just indicating that I’ think the President ought to be requested to indicate how he would handle this matter. That is the reason why I ask for leave to continue my remarks and that this matter be adjourned until a later hour in the day in order that it may be cleared up.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Withers moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
– I move:
The Opposition parties have agreed that this morning they will not use the normal 2 hours allocated to discussing Committee reports. We think that time should be devoted immediately to Government business in the order which has just been put down by Senator Douglas McClelland. In that way we will pick up an hour and a quarter which can be utilised at 4.30 this afternoon to deal with the matters I have mentioned in the motion I just moved. The last part of the motion is intended to give priority at 8 o’clock this evening to notice of motion No. 11 relating to the establishment of a board of inquiry on terrorist activity in Australia.
– I can inform the Senate that Senator Withersdiscussed this matter with me this morning in the absence of Senator Murphy. On behalf of the Government I agree that the procedures he has outlined should be adopted by the Senate in its deliberations today.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 11 April (vide page 1057), on motion by Senator Willesee.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for having given this Bill a fairly speedy passage and I think I ought to reply to some points raised by Senator Durack. The honourable senator queried whether this Government, or other governments, should be the pacesetter in annual leave. I point out both to Senator Durack and to the Senate that it has been traditional for the Commonwealth Government and State governments to set such standards. In fact, since 1920 the Commonwealth Act has provided for the level that we now enjoy and which will be increased to 4 weeks. The change has been the subject of representations by the general Commonwealth Public Service Organisations for at least 17 years. They put a case to the previous Government that annual leave be increased by one week. In the meantime, as most people know, State governments have increased annual leave for their public servants from 3 weeks to 4 weeks. So we have a situation in which almost as a matter of history and tradition, governments have set that standard of leave for a number of reasons related, of course, to the State organisations and to the security of State governments. I emphasise that the State governments have moved ahead and that some of them are in fact granting 4 weeks leave while others have approved extra days of leave.
Senator Durack, while accepting the position, because he related the Opposition’s viewpoint to what the Government had decided about 4 weeks annual leave and preference to unionists, was rather reluctant about agreeing to State governments doing it. 1 think 1 have answered that point. We are meeting the traditional position of governments and what are, in our view, legitimate claims by Commonwealth officers that they should share in increased leave because in outside industry generally working conditions, if not leave, have been advanced. While one may say that in outside industry annual leave levels have not increased in some areas, a great number of fringe benefits have been applied to employees.
Regarding the International Labour Organisation’s standards, Senator Durack referred to a number of other things which have been and will be introduced by this Government. I refer to what the Government is trying to do. The Government is trying to apply standards set by the ILO as a pattern for the whole of the Commonwealth because, after all, we consult with other governments through that agency. We take part in the deliberations of tripartite organisations representing governments, employers, and workers organisations. Those deliberations produce recommendations and conventions. For many years we have thought it proper that governments having voted for those recommendations and conventions should apply them. One of our long standing criticisms of the previous Government was that in many cases it had agreed with recommendations and conventions but did nothing to apply them. It related its opposition to the problems of federalism within Australia.
Most Labor governments are now trying to establish those standards so far as this is possible. Therefore, in our opinion what the Government is doing is justified. The question of any snowballing effect of the granting of extra annual leave applies also to any other movement in the economy. It might be argued that the Parliament, having recently accepted increases in parliamentary standards, in fact becomes the pacesetter for industry. I simply say that in our view the action of the Government is justified. We believe too that there ought to be, in a general sense, preference to unionists because that policy has been accepted in many industries. However, I thank the Opposition for having given this legislation a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 3 April (vide page 770), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this Bill. It’s provisions are extensions of allocations previously made under the State’s Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1972. They allow for an extra $7,500,000 for expenditure in various areas in which the previous Government made allocations. As I say, the provision of this $7,500,000 extra grant is a continuation of past policy and procedure. The grant will be used for housing, health, education, employment, special works projects and regional projects. The amount of $ 14.5m was provided previously. Now, a total of $22m will be provided. The continuation of the policy of betterment of the Aboriginal people is to be applauded. I must point out that there has been a continuing increase in allocations for Aboriginal advancement. In 1971-72 the total Commonwealth provision for expenditure in this field rose to $3 1.3m. In 1972-73, it rose to §53,285,000, an increase of 70 per cent. I believe that Aboriginal advancement, in the fullest meaning of the term, constitutes one of the most vexed, difficult and complex problems confronting any administration. It is certainly a major matter for consideration by this Government as it has been by previous governments.
I wish the Government well in its efforts to meet this very challenging and demanding situation. It is a very human problem to be viewed with the utmost sympathy, patience and understanding. No common denominator of betterment can be applied uniformly across the whole spectrum of Aboriginal interest. The needs of the Aborigines differ so dramatically and greatly. This was brought home very strongly and deeply to me and my fellow honourable senators who were members of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment before the Committee’s reconstitution. It inquired into the environmental conditions of Aborigines and Torres Strait islanders. In our movements around Australia we went to the Northern Territory, Arnhem Land, Alice Springs and out from there and we visited the north west coast of Western Australia. It is only when one sees for oneself the whole gamut of situations, the variations of conditions for the Aborigine and the way in which he lives that one becomes mindful of the massive problem that he poses to the country. 1 wish the Government well in its attempt to meet that major challenge.
Difficulties arise because there are tribal Aborigines, semi-tribal Aborigines and urbanised Aborigines. Each category has problems peculiar to itself. The tribal Aborigines have little contact with Western civilisation. The semi-tribal Aborigines, those who move into places such as Alice Springs, Darwin or any major centre of population, have some contact, but they come and they go. Their problems are different from the problems of the Aborigines who reside permanently on a particular settlement or in a town or city. I believe that the underlying purpose of Aboriginal advancement is the provision of a kind of assistance which will enable Aborigines to stand on their own feet rather than to have to resort to massive handouts. The self respect of Aborigines is vital. It has been wonderful to see their deep respect for and their pride in their traditions and their people, most especially in those Aborigines who are not completely urbanised. That is a most noble trait in the character of Aborigines. I have been deeply impressed by the Aborigines who have not been in contact with our civilisation. We have to ensure that that self respect which these good people have is had by all Aborigines, particularly those who live in the cities. They have a sort of resentment and a feeling of being pushed aside. Because the problem is a human one, it will be improved only by an approach to the humanities.
Although finance is vitally important, it is not the most important factor. An understanding of their problems is the most important factor. Let them feel that they are taking part and that there is an involvement by themselves in their own affairs. They should not have the impression: ‘I am told to do this; I must do it. I have had no part in determining this attitude or policy. I will go along with it. but I am doing what I am told to do’. There has to be a greater provision for involvement by Aborigines in their own affairs. We should encourage and strengthen their capacity to do this. I believe that we should strive for their economic independence and to reduce existing social and other handicaps which face them in respect of health, housing, education and vocational training. We should promote their enjoyment of normal civil liberties. The Opposition supports the Bill. I commend the Government for the increase that the Bill provides in various areas. The increase is required. I hope that the application of the increase will lead to that to which alt of us aspire, that is, the real betterment of the Aboriginal people.
– I wish to indicate, on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party that we support this Bill. We do not support it on the basis that money itself is the solution to the problem. We realise, of course, that the problem cannot be tackled without the finance required to take necessary action. If the problems of the Aboriginal people of this country could be solved merely by the Parliament voting the amount of money believed necessary to achieve that end, 1 think that senators in this chamber and members in the other place would set out immediately to take that action to solve some of the more urgent problems.
I instance one matter affecting Aborigines. Contrary to the belief of many people, the Australian Aboriginal people are not primitive in themselves. Our Aborigines have been forced to live in a primitive environment. To survive in that environment they must condition themselves Jo their circumstances. To try to make Aborigines move from that way of life and live in our present day environment would be to court disaster. This is one area in which Aborigines have not been able to keep pace with us, not because they could not do so but because the circumstances of their environment made it imprudent that they should even try. They have survived where we would have perished.
Aborigines, as they feel more and more the impact of our modern type of civilisation, must face other problems with which they find it most difficult to cope. These problems stem not from the environment to which they have become accustomed but from association with the ideas and standards by which the present society has learned to live. A close study of Aborigines in their simple environment reveals that they had excellent methods, for example, of maintaining family levels at a standard which was commensurate with their environment and which enabled them to survive. Because of the impact of our type of civilisation on Aborigines, their family numbers have expanded out of all proportion to previous family numbers.
Some people believe that by enacting legislation to provide increased expenditure the infant mortality problem in Arnhem Land, for instance, could be cured overnight. But money will not solve the infant mortality problem because even if all the money in the world is stacked around the Aboriginal infants they will still die. Certainly medical knowledge can help if this assistance reaches the infants who are dying. But no doctor, however well intentioned, can take a babe out of its mother’s arms for the purpose of saving its life. Even if enough money was made available for the recruitment of doctors in sufficient numbers to service these areas and even if doctors were found who could accept the harsh conditions and loneliness of such areas, this still would not necessarily mean that they could cope with the problem immediately. I think that too much criticism has been made of the medical men who have been dedicated enough to go to these areas. That criticism attributes to those doctors the responsibility for any failure in attempting to do what they set out to do.
The infant mortality rate is not a scandal there. The complex causes of the problem can be readily understood by visiting these areas. Acknowledging the magnitude of the problem of the prevention of infant mortality, we should learn to respect the dedicated men who are attempting to maintain the level to which they have reduced the incidence of infant mortality, It is wrong that the doctors should be criticised in any way at all because of the facts contained in the statistics that they have produced to alert this nation to the problem that exists in these areas. It is a shame that through the simple process of the publication of these figures this information reaches everybody and causes a public outcry. The magnitude of the difficulties associated with this state of affairs is explained to very few. So, the public does not come to understand the reason why this problem exists. I am mentioning now only one of the problems with which these people, in such a primitive environment, must learn to live as they feel the impact of modern society on their lives. Money can help, but to obtain the necessary dedicated people willing to make personal sacrifices to go into certain areas to do this work is another problem of some magnitude. We may even have to provide high salaries to get them but we have to recruit sufficient people who are educated to do this job. Perhaps some of them are not psychologically suited for this type of employment and are not capable of achieving the maximum results.
I mention only a few of these difficulties to indicate that when passing legislation of this character we must not think that by merely voting a sum of money we are completely solving the problem. By doing so we make only a small but necessary contribution towards its solution. Indeed, if we are unwise and vote too much money too soon for this work it may be spent unwisely. We may do what was done in the past when well intentioned legislation was passed, and add to the problem we are trying to solve rather than cure it. The old system of handouts was not conducive to providing a permanent solution to the problem, as I and other honourable senators have said before in this chamber. Handouts may have been thought to be the answer at the time and it is for that reason that I mention them. I see no virtue in harking back and passing recriminations about some of the mistakes of the past in the light of the greater knowledge that we have today. Perhaps without what now appear to be the mistakes of the past there would be no problem today. There may not have been the number of people requiring assistance to become assimilated into our community or to create a community capable of living together, however one likes to put it. Whichever is the best course to follow, it must be of a transitional nature because ultimately the only real solution to this problem is for us all to live together on similar standards as one nation. To attempt to do that within the foreseeable future would be perhaps expecting too much. Perhaps it would negate what we are trying to do rather than accomplish it.
I think it is necessary only for me to indicate that the Democratic Labor Party wholeheartedly supports this Bill and the allocation of the money for the stated purpose. Money is being spent in this field much more wisely today than ever before. The thought being directed to this problem is producing many new ideas. However not all of them will be winners and we should not expect them to be. We should not expect more of the people being assisted by the spending of this money than we would expect of ourselves. Many of the problems that those people have - I speak of those who have become associated with our communities and live in urban areas - affect not only themselves as a society but also ourselves if we are a distinct entity at this time. Those problems affect us and our community almost as much as they affect Aborigines or people of part Aboriginal descent. A little patience and more understanding will assist in solving the problems of those people also. 1 agree with Senator Laucke that the problems of the people in urban areas are vastly different from those of the people in the more remote areas. We are not dealing with one problem really because it has many different facets. A dozen problems are rolled into one and each requires a unique solution. Certainly no single solution is applicable to all of the problem? The Democratic Labor Party knows that this Bill will be passed unanimously by the Senate and we give it our blessing.
– I want to indicate my wholehearted support for the measures relating to Aboriginal advancement being brought forward by the present Government. As my colleague stated earlier, it is an extension of some of the measures that were brought forward by the previous Government, and I also gave my wholehearted support to those measures. I have looked very closely at the allocations of the moneys, and 1 notice with great pleasure that the money is to be allocated to overcome some of the real problems facing Aborigines, particularly those living in cities and towns. But perhaps the money does not really reach those of my race who live in the Northern Territory and in other similar areas. Money is to be allocated for housing, health, education, employment, special work projects and regional projects.
It is important that Aborigines are given the same opportunities as other Australians in the field of education and housing, and surely there is a real need for more to be done in the field of health than perhaps has been done in the past. As Senator Little stated, one cannot always cure all these problems wholly and solely by legislation and finance. For many years I have advocated, both at the State and Federal levels, even prior to my becoming involved in politics, that perhaps one of the main solutions to many of the problems facing members of my race is the involvement of competent Aborigines working in the field. This would require finance, but 1 believe that there is a greater need for the involvement of Aborigines, and I am pleased to note that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) has indicated that this is what he intends to do.
I have had discussions with many Aborigines, particularly in my own State.
Many Aborigines have applied for positions but unfortunately, because of some misunderstanding or something within the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs, many of them have not had the courtesy of even receiving an acknowledgment of their applications. So if the present Government is to bring forward policies, I would hope that the policies would be followed through and that Aborigines would be given the opportunity to work amongst their own people.
I say this because far too often people advocate an overall policy for the cure of all the problems facing Aborigines. I believe that this cannot be done. We cannot have an overall policy for Aborigines because Aborigines in Australia today are in varying stages of development. The answer to the problems facing Aborigines in, say, northern Queensland would not necessarily be the same as the answer to the problems facing Aborigines living around Melbourne or Sydney, or even in Townsville and Brisbane. So there needs to be more in-depth studies of the problems facing Aborigines in various areas.
Today many members of my race suffer what we may term psychological scars because of the destruction of their own customs, traditions and culture and because for far too many years Aborigines were treated perhaps with less esteem than the household pet. There has been discrimination and prejudice in many ways, and I do not think that we can get away from this. Although the discrimination may perhaps not be so blatant today, it is still there, it is in a more subtle form. I could give many instances where this has happened, even in my own State of Queensland where perhaps Aborigines have been given a better deal than they have in any other State. I say that most sincerely. Today many of the adult Aboriginals suffer from a lack of education and training in various fields. All the legislation which is brought forward in relation to education and health will not solve problems unless competent Aborigines are fielded to liaise with their own people, to ensure that they are sure of their entitlements and where to go to receive them, and how to cope with the many problems they are facing. Today I am very proud to stand up and support this Bill. I sincerely hope that what I have said and what I will continue to say will be noted. We need competent Aborigines in the field to work with their own people.
I have levelled criticism not only at the present Government but also at the previous Government. I bring into this Parliament a certain amount of expertise in relation to Aboriginal affairs, lt seems strange to me but the consultation by previous Ministers, by the present Minister and by the Parliament generally has not been what I hoped it would be. Many people come into this Parliament with expertise in various fields. We have lawyers, agriculturists and economists. We have expertise in all fields. I am quite sure that their expertise is taken advantage of by their parliamentary colleagues and particularly by Ministers in charge of various portfolios. I have found that in my own case there has not been a use of this expertise.
– They might not consider the honourable senator an expert.
– I do not know what Senator Cavanagh is interjecting about, but if his Government is prepared to call on my knowledge in relation to Aboriginal affairs I will be happy to give it. There are those who have levelled criticism at me, particularly honourable senators on the opposite side of the chamber. This seems strange when we look at the figures for the last Senate election in Queensland. I received at least 75 per cent of the total vote cast by all Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders living in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. To me that indicates that I certainly have the support of the Aboriginal people in my own State, lt is difficult to obtain any percentages in relation to Aborigines not living in communities because they are not identified as such On the rolls. But in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities I have obtained a very good idea of how the people voted. I am proud to say that despite the criticism and the taunts from the Government benches I have obtained the support of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. 1 do not want to take up more of the time of the Senate. Suffice it to say that I am very happy to support this Bill because it makes money for Aboriginal advancement available to the States. As I said previously, I hope that some note will be taken of the employment and the involvement of competent Aborigines in the field of Aboriginal endeavour. Thank you.
– I can truthfully say that this is the first time I have been able to stand in this chamber and give wholehearted support to a Government move in relation to Aborigines. I think that my feelings can probably be summarised by the words contained in the second reading speech which was placed before this chamber by the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) who in this place represents the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Gordon Bryant). He Stated:
I wish to emphasise that this Bill is designed only to provide additional finance for this financial year. It serves as an earnest of our intention to attack the problems that face us, energetically and resolutely. We have a duty as a nation to remedy results of the neglect of the past. This Bill before you is an initial step to fulfil the responsibility which was unequivocably placed upon the Australian Government in the referendum of 1967. In increasing the total grants to the States for 1972-73 by over 50 per cent, we are honouring the trust placed in us to restore to the Aboriginals the basic human rights and to create for them the conditions in which they, too, may enjoy a standard of living, a freedom from fear and deprivation which has previously been reserved for nonAboriginal Australians.
That sums up the feeling with which the Government of which I am a supporter is approaching an issue that has been neglected for 200 years. When Senator Laucke commenced his speech he indicated that there was not going to be any opposition to this Bill. I do not propose to speak on the Bill at length because I want to see it receive a speedy passage. Senator Laucke gave complete support to the Bill. But there were a couple of things which the other 2 speakers in the debate - Senator Little and Senator Bonner - said which I think ought to be enlarged upon to some degree.
Tn his criticism of the Bill - if one can describe it as criticism because he indicated that his Party supported the Bill - Senator Little said that money would not save children. He also said that the infant mortality rate among Aborigines was not a scandal - in other words, that we have to live with these sorts of things. I cannot agree with that attitude. The infant mortality rate in north Queensland - in fact right across Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn - is a national scandal. There are a number of things that can be done to eliminate it. The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and his Department are formulating preliminary plans to overcome this great scandal. I looked at some figures yesterday which shocked me. In the rather enlightened State of Victoria the incidence of tuberculosis among white people is something like 15 per 100,000, but among black people it is something like 80 per 100,000. Surely that indicates a gross imbalance between the 2 sections of the community. We have to search for the reason for the difference. It is possibly because members of the white community have easier access to facilities for medical treatment, enjoy a higher standard of living and have a diet that is vastly better than that of most black people, even in a State like Victoria where there is only a limited number of Aborigines.
The problem has to be attacked at the grass roots. It has to be attacked right at the very basis of society. Not only should black people have decent housing and equal right to employment, but also their children should be looked after in their infancy. The criticism levelled by Senator Little was hardly valid. Not only has this Bill set out in some ways to overcome the problem but also, I should imagine, when the Budget session of this Parliament takes place we will see an expansion of this Government’s policy on Aborigines into ever-widening areas. I do not accept Senator Bonner’s criticism as being valid. He said that one cannot plan an overall policy. Of course one can plan an overall policy. It is merely a deviation to take a general policy into several areas and plan for the urban blacks, for those who are still tribalised and for the people in between who live on reserves and mission stations. Discrimination can be overcome. It has to be overcome. Eventually the Government will produce a Bill discriminating, if you tike, in favour of Aborigines. But that wilt take planning. We cannot do everything at once.
I am amazed that the 2 honourable senators who spoke so loudly on this measure are not in the chamber at the moment. I hope that they are listening to the debate in their offices. It is not possible in the first 120- odd days for any government to produce the sort of plans that will correct the neglect of some 23 years, but by the end of the year I expect substantial developments in this regard. Of course, 1 must take Senator Bonner to task. He said that he believes in all sincerity - I think they were the words he used - that Queensland treats its Aborigines and islanders better than any other State. I hope that he was being facetious because there are still some 30,000 people in Queensland living under the provisions of the infamous Aborigines Act 1972 and the Torres Strait Islanders Act 1972. These Acts, together with the various regulations and by-laws, virtually confine these people under the laws of a police state. It is true that another 30,000-odd people live outside the provisions of these Acts and many of those are discriminated against by the Government.
There has been no real attempt to reduce the incidence of infant mortality and malnutrition; there has been no real attempt to overcome the housing shortage; there has been no real attempt to train Aborigines and islanders in trades and professions. In fact, if it were not for Commonwealth moneys the State of Queensland, the deep north, would be one of the most shocking in Australia in its treatment of Aborigines. It still is the most shocking in Australia, as far as I am concerned, but without Commonwealth moneys it would be even worse. However, I commend the Bill. I believe that the Government has made a real and sincere attempt in its very early days in office to implement the findings of the 1967 referendum.
– I would like to say a few words in relation to this important legislation. I do not think it should be passed through this chamber without some mention of the way in which the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Mr Bryant, has tackled the problem of Aborigines. Never in the history of Australia has anyone tackled the job with the same enthusiasm that he has shown. I believe he should be congratulated by the people of Australia for trying to implement some of the measures that the Australian people told the previous Government by referendum should be implemented but which the previous Government failed to implement. I do not suppose it is an occasion on which criticism of what has gone on in the past should be offered. However, I do ask the members of this Senate to contrast the attitudes of this Government towards the affairs of Aborigines with the attitudes adopted in the past. The present Government has appointed a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs whereas previously Aboriginal affairs were dealt with by a bits and pieces ministry. I repeat that Mr Gordon Bryant has done a particularly fine job in relation to the Aboriginal people and indeed the people of Australia. If honourable senators would care to have a look at the photographs the Minister has of the conditions under which Aborigines are living and were allowed to live by the previous Government they would realise that Mr Gordon Bryant is doing - I believe he will continue to do - a particularly fine job, and he has the full approval of the members of the Government.
Another thought that I would voice concerns infant mortality. I pay tribute to Dr Everingham in this direction. 1 accompanied Dr Everingham on a visit to a reserve in Queensland - the Woorabinda Mission. As far as I know, he was the first person in Australia to draw attention to the infant mortality rate amongst Aboriginal children, and the position has improved - I believe it will improve considerably in the future - as a result of his endeavours. I believe I should pay tribute to those 2 Ministers of the Government for their sterling work on behalf of the Aboriginal people. Because of the enthusiasm with which these Ministers approach their task, I know that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs will be pleased to assist those people requiring assistance. The Government is anxious to do everything possible for these people.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– in reply- I take it that before the sitting of the Senate was suspended all honourable senators who had wished to speak on the State Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1973 had done so and that now it remains for me to reply. This will be an unusual reply for I wish to say that I appreciate very much the attitude of all parties to this Bill. All honourable senators who took part in the debate not only supported the Bill but also commended the Government for having introduced it. One sees this as recognition of the necessary step which this Government took in its early period of office. I think that the Government’s action warranted the praise given by Senator Laucke, Senator Little and Senator Bonner. When one recalls the congratulations offered to the Government last evening for having introduced the Excise Tariff Bill 1973 which abolished the excise on wine, one can believe that this is typical and that all sections of the Aus tralian commuinity are appreciative of this Government’s actions as evidenced by its legislation since coming to power.
A few points, I think, call for reply. Senator Little said very pertinently that money alone is not a solution to the Aborigines’ problems and that many other questions are involved. I agree. I find it very pleasing that Senator Little has taken a different attitude when speaking to this Bill from that which he took on the previous occasion when he spoke about Aborigines and said that he believed they owed a debt of gratitude to the white population of Australia because we had preserved their race which otherwise would have died out. I agree with the honourable senator that money alone is not a solution to the problem that Australia faces. In my second reading speech I had incorporated in Hansard a document which listed a brief record of the actions initiated by this Government on behalf of Aborigines since it took office. This record shows that the first action occurred on 7th December which was pretty quick since the election was held on 2nd December. The record of events which runs until 7th March shows that no period longer than 5 days elasped when we did not take some action to improve the conditions of Aborigines. This speaks volumes for the concern of this Government about the problem, which every honourable senator who has spoken in this debate agrees is a problem, and that something more than money is required.
The Government proposes to set up a National Aboriginal Consultative Committee in which Aborigines will participate. Regarding Senator Bonner’s criticism of whether the money provided would go where it was needed, that is, whether Aborigines in the Northern Territory would get any of it, the answer is no. This is a grant to the States, and of course any assistance afforded to Aborigines in the Northern Territory or in the Australian Capital Territory must be provided by a separate appropriation. It cannot be brought under the Bill. This Bill is, in effect, providing for an allocation to the States and therefore the remedy sought by Senator Bonner is not to be found in this Bill but will be found in subsequent Bills. Senator Bonner put special emphasis on the necessity for Aborigines to work among themselves. When speaking of employment for Aborigines and consultation with experts on this question, he claimed himself as an expert who should be consulted.
I have been informed that Senator Bonner was consulted on this question by this Government. His own statements would suggest that he was not consulted by the previous Government. He was invited to and attended the Consultative Committee conference in February which was called by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant). So the Minister recognised that Senator Bonner may have had something to contribute to this question and may indeed have expertise. However, one must consider expertise in every field, and one cannot claim that in this field the colour of one’s skin necessarily implies expertise, lt could well be that governments have not accepted Senator Bonner because over the years his opinions have differed greatly from those of other honourable senators such as Senator Keeffe and Senator Georges who have taken a keen interest in Aborigines. Perhaps they have more expertise in this matter than has Senator Bonner.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has called consultative conferences of the Aboriginal people which have been well attended. 1 attended one which featured a dinner in the courtyard of this Parliament House. The Minister has been well advised by those who would be accepted as experts on Aborigines. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
Clearly this Government is serious about the need for consultation with Aboriginals. Too often in the past have decisions been taken by governments to act in the name of Aboriginal advancement when the people most concerned - the Aboriginals themselves - have been totally unaware of what is proposed.
Every action taken by the Minister and his Department is taken on the advice of the Consultative Committee which the Minister set up to represent that section of the community which he seeks to benefit. I think the praise he has received was justified for no Minister and no government has done more for the Aborigines than the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and this Government. Whether the Minister has found solutions to the problems, I. do not know. Last evening I attended a conference on the health of Aborigines in the north. One argument was: We are trying to educate them in our way of health but they quickly forget it when the witchdoctor scratches their arm or points the bone or something else’. That has changed. Today they are advising us and we are trying to implement that advice. We hope that the Aborigines will live successfully in their own culture as they always have, that they will succeed and that we will make them useful members of society.
Senator Bonner referred to the necessity for Aborigines to work by themselves. This is happening in the north. There will be further co-operation between Government departments. At present when officers of my Department are working in any area where Aborigines have a venture which is producing a product that can be used in a contract being undertaken by my Department, they are required to consult the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on whether that product can be utilised in the contract.
– What sort of products are you talking about?
– The illustration that came to my notice was a case at Gove where 11 houses were to be constructed. My Department called tenders for brick houses or timber frame houses. The Aborigines have a brick making plant in the area. When the tenders were received it was found that the timber frame houses were much cheaper to construct than the brick houses, with the result that the contract was let for the timber frame houses. The protest made at this stage is that, despite the disparity in price, it would have been of benefit to the Aborigines in that area if brick houses had been specified.
On future occasions such matters will be taken into consideration. While 11 houses are being constructed at Gove today, the Aborigines are not making bricks because the bricks cannot be utilised. This is only one area. Another co-operative is operating somewhere outside Alice Springs. Tt is constructing, under licence, a special type of building. We have to consider whether this can be utilised. In future, no Department of Works construction will be engaged in and no specification will be written until, after investigation, the Department is satisfied that there is no Aboriginal industry whose plants or products can be used or written into the specification. All Government departments are cooperating. As 1 said last evening, the Department of Health is concerned that we must alter the whole basis of our approach. In the past, we have been trying to force health measures upon the Aborigines and to reach a position where they accept them. Again I thank the Senate for not opposing the legislation and particularly for the congratulations conveyed to the Government on its introduction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 10 April (vide page 972), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Senate concurs with the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 22 of the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a joint committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to prices.
That the provisions of the resolution so far as they are inconsistent wilh the Standing Orders have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Upon which Senator Cotton had moved by way of amendment to paragraph (I) of the message which reads:
That a joint committee be appointed to inquire into and, as appropriate, report on -
complaints arising from the prices charged by private industry;
movements in prices of goods and services in particular fields or sections of private industry, for example, as measured by price indices; and
such other matters relating to prices as may be referred lo the committee by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
At end of paragraph (1) add ‘subject to the following modifications -
paragraph (I), sub-paragraph (a), after the words “private industry,” add “and by the public sector”; and
paragraph (!), sub-paragraph (b), after the words “private industry” add “and the public sector”
And on Senator Maunsell’s amendment to Senator Cotton’s amendment:
Al end of amendment add the following modification
at end of paragraph (2) add - “and one Senator nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate” ‘.
– The Government has considered the amendments put forward by the Opposition parties. I have had a brief discussion with Senator Murphy and I have also had a discussion with the Treasurer (Mr Crean). The
Treasurer has indicated that he endorses the approach that was made by Senator Willesee when he first raised this matter in the Senate on behalf of the Government. But, because the Opposition has persisted with its amendments, we are prepared to accept them as they are proposed rather than not have the committee established. We believe that it is in the interests of the Australian people to have the committee established and brought into operation at an early date to consider the important question of prices. Therefore, we do not object to the amendments moved by the Opposition.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party is in the position that its manpower is limited. We gave consideration to making a request for representation on the proposed committee. But we have decided to proceed with it. The comments made by Senator Gair in regard to the committee and its prospects of success were such that we would hardly be expected to want to be represented on it. (t may be remembered that Senator Gair pointed out that in his view the committee would not have any power to do anything constructive. He also pointed out that in his view it was a face saving device designed to save the Government from the charge that it had not carried out its promise to do something about prices. In these circumstances, we will support the Country Party’s claim to representation on the committee but we will not seek representation on it. We hope that it will achieve something, but we cannot see it achieving anything.
Amendment to proposed amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLAND (New South Wales - Minister for the Media) - (2.33) - 1 understand that, as a result of the 2 decisions now taken by the Senate, it is necessary for me to move another amendment. I move:
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - The question is that the amendment proposed by Senator Douglas McClelland be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
The question now is that the original motion, as amended, be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 11 April (vide page 1023), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As I said when it was introduced yesterday, the Bill contains matters which are of concern to the Opposition. It raises the spectre of inflation, which has been raised frequently during this sitting. It raises the fear of the sudden and rapid spread, not just into the Commonwealth employment field but into the State employment field and the private employment field, of a very substantial increase in the cost of services and the cost of production. It is feared that this will be an inevitable result of the Bill. Many sections of private industry already have been making heard their fears about the increases in the cost of the provision of workers compensation. This is not to say that the Opposition opposes in any way the principle of having a generous and appropriate workers compensation scheme for Commonwealth employees. As has been pointed out, the increases are very substantial. For instance, the basic lump sum payment will be almost doubled. If the cost of premiums were to spread to private employment from what I have been able to gather it would probably mean, to take an example, that a small employer such as a sawmiller who has 10 employees and who at the moment is paying just over $1,100 a year in premiums will almost certainly be paying of the order of $3,000 a year in premiums. If a scheme such as this does not spread to private employment, one wonders why the Commonwealth employees should be so much better treated than the employees of the States or the employees of private industry in the distribution of the wealth of the nation.
The Opposition has reservations or inquiries to make about a number of other aspects of the Bill. These reservations will be referred to by other speakers, each of whom will take up one or two of them. It is believed that they are matters which should be considered further before the Senate votes on the Bill. Those matters include the meaning to be given to the amendment which provides for lump sum payments to be based upon average weekly earnings. In certain sections of the Commonwealth Public Service some of the average weekly earnings are extremely high. Therefore the amounts calculated on a redemption basis become extremely high. It is wondered whether that was the precise intention of the Government in introducing the Bill, whether some of its implications have been considered or whether the concern of the Opposition is perhaps misplaced. We are not saying that our concern is so categorically fixed in its opposition to any particular provision that we oppose the Bill in any way at this stage, but rather we are saying that we have a concern as to the meaning and effect, economic and social, of some of the amendments. It is for that reason that the Opposition will move that the Bill be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, with the request that the Committee return a report to the Senate on 1st May 1973. We are proposing the deferment of the Bill for one sitting day only. The Senate will not be sitting for the next 2 weeks. It is believed that this will give an opportunity to the Committee to look at some of the matters which concern members of the Liberal Party Opposition. I speak on behalf of the Australian Country Party as well when I say that we believe that these matters should be considered. Having foreshadowed the course which will be taken, I shall seek leave to move that motion at a later stage this afternoon.
– I have been able to give to the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill only brief consideration. I believe that it is important not only because of the principles it contains and because of the money that will be required to implement its provisions but because it sets a new trail for workers compensation in this country. For those reasons I believe that the Senate must give further consideration to the Bill. The first matter to which I advert briefly is the situation in relation to wife and family dependency. It is to be understood, from looking at the Bill, that the dependants who are to benefit from compensation are. not circumscribed in any way by any family relationship. The beneficiaries are described simply as persons who may be dependent. There is a definition of prescribed dependants. A prescribed dependant means a widow or widower of the deceased person.
When one looks at the benefits to be provided under the Bill, one finds that in the case of the, death of a Commonwealth employee a weekly payment shall be made to the dependants, whereas previously there was a lump sum payment which was limited to $14,500. lt was to be shared between all dependants. In the case of a widow the Bill provides a weekly payment equal to the full amount of the employee’s average weekly earnings. The head of a department could be killed, leaving a widow aged 30. She would draw 829,225 per annum not for the remainder of his expectancy of life, not until she reached age pension eligibility, but for the remainder of her life unless she marries. One only has to consider that situation to see how vastly different that basis of compensation is from any known common law assessment of compensation for death, any known workers compensation scale or any known repatriation scale which compensates for a war death while in the service of the Commonwealth.
That example alone leads me to think that, if we are to do justice not only to this favoured class of beneficiary but to the other classes to whom I have referred and to other people in the community, further consideration has to be given to the Bill. I ask honourable senators to consider next the case of a deceased public servant who at the time of his death had a legal wife and also a de facto wife. We have been told, as an argument supporting the provisions of this legislation, that it is a social advance to compensate a de facto wife in such a case as a dependant. Let that be. Under this scheme, the share of the benefit to which the legal wife is entitled is that portion of the benefit which is thought not to be appropriate to go to the de facto wife. All sorts of situations could arise. For instance, the legal wife up to the time of death could have been receiving $50 a week as maintenance from her husband. It is hardly likely that, following his death, she will be allocated a greater share of the compensation payment. If he was earning $400 a week, the de facto wife will receive the remaining $350 a week. These are the matters which need to be taken into account.
Let us presuppose, Mr Acting Deputy President, that Parliament will see another flash of this advanced social enlightenment when Senator Murphy, in his next bound, presents to us legislation to provide that a divorce will be granted simply on the ground of separation for 12 months. Let us assume that the legal wife of the public servant whom I mentioned earlier is separated from him at the time of his death and is earning sufficient to maintain herself. She simply goes into the discard and receives nothing by way of compensation, whereas the de facto wife is recognised as the sole dependant and, if she was living with him as his wife at the time of his death, receives the full $29,000 a year.
The next case to which I turn is that of a legal wife with a dependent daughter, who at the time of the husband’s death was 10 years of age. The legal wife may be earning a salary equivalent to her husband’s salary. We have been told in the last week of a wife who has been awarded a salary of $10,000 by the Commonwealth. That is not to be regarded as a singular case. Let us assume that the husband is killed at work or dies at his desk through heart failure, and he leaves a widow, earning as much as his weekly salary, and a dependent daughter. By reason of the existence of the 2 relationships - the wife does not need to prove dependency, but the daughter is a dependant - the 2 together become entitled to 100 per cent of his salary.
No limitation is placed on the period for which this payment continues. It is not limited by the termination of the infancy of the daughter or by the daughter attaining the age of 25 years or 30 years. The daughter may be mentally handicapped and may remain with the dependent wife. In that case the 2 dependants will continue to receive the full amount of the deceased’s salary - the example that I have taken is that of a permanent head of a department earning $29,000 a year - until the death of the survivor of tha wife and the daughter, even though the wife may continue to earn a salary equivalent to that received by her husband at the time of his death. There seems to be only one qualification in respect of that situation. I draw attention to proposed new section 43 (7). The Commissioner may consider that a dependent daughter with all her faculties should go out to work and, if any change in the financial situation of the dependants occurs, the Commissioner may take that change into account in determining the amount that should be paid to the dependants of the deceased employee.
I have enumerated sufficient cases to deter me from giving acceptance to this Bill immediately, without further consideration. Those examples have related simply to the death benefit. It appears from the provisions of the Bill that the compensation provided in respect of the death of a Commonwealth employee with a wife and a dependant or dependants is to be a life annuity of 100 per cent of his average weekly earnings, whereas in the case where the widow is the only dependant the compensation is a weekly payment equal to 75 per cent of the deceased employee’s average weekly earnings. With respect to injury or disease that causes incapacity, which may be total or partial, certain payments are prescribed. I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop), who is in charge of this Bill, to inform me whether an award made to an employee in these circumstances is based on the national average weekly earnings or that individual’s average weekly earnings. A matter which arises in such a case is that an employee who is totally incapacitated with respect to his ability to perform his employment by reason of injury or disease is provided for already either by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, if he is in the Services, or by the Superannuation Fund, if he is in the Public Service. The extent to which his full salary entitlement is reduced under this Bill is the 30 per cent of his former salary not covered by superannuation, assuming that he would be entitled to a benefit of 70 per cent of his weekly earnings - this is the ordinary practice - plus any further amount of his pension coming from the government contribution. This means that, according to the provisions of this Bill, in conjunction with the other benefits payable by the Commonwealth, that person in the period of his total incapacity is provided with an annuity equivalent to his weekly earnings while in employment. I understand that under the provisions of this Bill a pensioner receiving a payment in respect of total incapacity can, if he is receiving also a pension under the DFRB scheme or from the Superannuation Fund, claim to redeem his weekly payments and obtain a lump sum. That provision seems to me to be quite incongruous with the idea that the benefit provided by this Bill should be periodic payments for the period during which the incapacity exists.
I take next the case where the injury causes a partial incapacitation for work. The Bill does preserve the criterion measurement of benefit here, that being the margin between the amount that the person can earn subject to his partial incapacity and the amount that he was earning at the time of injury. But there is a very interesting provision in this respect. If the Commonwealth is unable to provide the partially incapacitated person with employment suitable to his partial incapacity, he is entitled for the period of his partial incapacity to a payment equalling the total wage that he received prior to sustaining that injury. In that case I understand that he can redeem the payments due on partial incapacity at any time after they have been running for 6 months. Those are the weekly payments being made on death or total or partial incapacity.
For 30 or 40 years now there has been growing in this legislation an additional supplement to partial weekly incapacity payments or total weekly incapacity payments. The supplement is a lump sum for specified injuries. The amounts appear at page 10 of the Bill. In the case of the loss of the sight of 2 eyes a person is entitled to 100 per cent of the lump sum payment. That will be worked out on some sliding scale according to the national statistics of average weekly earnings. On present figures that person would receive $26,026. Therefore a man who is blinded will get full compensation for his weekly earnings - I think that would be for life; it is not limited to the employable remainder of his life - plus $26,026.
Blindness is a very severe incapacity and if that were the only instance perhaps we would not stay upon the matter, but I see in the Bill that for the loss of a leg at or above the knee a person will get 90 per cent of $26,000, and for the loss of a leg below the knee 80 per cent of that sum. So if I am coming to work on my bicycle and fracture a leg, and have it amputated above the ankle, and although I would be just as capable next year of shining the seat of my pants at my office desk as a clerk with or without the ankle, I will get a cool $21,000 in a lump sum for the loss of that leg below the knee. Unless I am very far out of touch with the Courts of justice in this country, if I were a clerk and that loss were imposed on me by the most negligent act of my employer today, my capacity to earn would be reduced to a minimal extent and I would get nothing like $21,000 in compensation. This sum will escalate as the average weekly earnings escalate through the years.
It is not our function surely to select our employees for very special compensation on a scale far in advance of what is given to State services and to private industry and what selfemployed persons can provide by way of their own exertion and insurance. This Bill having been trundled into the Senate only yesterday, 1 raise my voice in support of the application for the Bill to be referred to one of our standing committees after it has passed the second reading stage. I think the appropriate committee in this case would be the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee. That Committee should be given an instruction to report back to the Senate within 4 weeks, that is, by 10th May.
– The date mentioned in the foreshadowed amendment is 1st May.
– Well, 1st May suits me. I have indicated that I am prepared to sit at any time between breakfast time and midnight, weekends included, and to take the risk of injury even though f am not conpensatable under the Act and report within that time. Please, as a responsible Senate, give to those who will make the effort to look into this matter the opportunity of bringing to the Senate a few tables to show the relativity between the scale of benefits provided in this Bill and that provided for State Public Services, private industry, self-employed person.-, and, in particular, war casualties. War casualties have just as much claim - 1 always understate my case; I say ‘just as much claim’ - for compensation from the public purse if they have lost the sight of both eyes, as one young medical student 1 have been told of did in Vietnam, as is provided for civilian casualties in the Commonwealth service.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Rae which is to the effect that this Bill be referred to the Senate Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee conditionally on its reporting back in a fortnight, that is, by 1st May. We believe that a strong case has been made that there are anomalies in the Bill which ought to be examined and about which Committee which has on it representatives of recommendations ought to be made by that both sides of the Senate and whose chairman is, of course, a supporter of the Government. In view of the strong case that has been made, we think that this Bill should be examined further. Perhaps agreement will be reached which will facilitate its passage through the Senate.
When this suggestion was brought to our attention we said that it would be undesirable for it to be referred to the Committee in circumstances which would enable the Committee perhaps to take months to deal with the issue. We thought that there might be suggestions that employers had used influence to have the Bill postponed. But when it was pointed out to us by Senator Rae that his proposal was for the Committee to report back on 1st May - that is. the first day that we meet after the fortnight’s recess - we could see no reason why that very desirable action should not be taken. It seems to me that the only people who will be disadvantaged will be the members of the Committee who will lose portion of their holiday. I think it reflects great credit upon Senator Wright that he is prepared to sacrifice himself in the interests of the community. Some other members of the Committee are now asking that they also be included in the sympathy I am expressing. On the definite understanding that this will not be a Kathleen Mavourneen - it may be for years; it may bc forever - and that the Committee will report back and that we deal with the Bill at our first meeting in a fortnight’s time, I say, on behalf of the DLP that we will support the foreshadowed amendment.
– Earlier today I informed honourable senators that I requested their consideration so that I could withdraw from the Chair in order to welcome a delegation of members of the Indonesian Parliament who were in the precincts of this Parliament. I now therefore draw the attention of all honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of a delegation from the Parliament of Indonesia led by its Deputy Speaker. Therefore. I take the opportunity on your behalf of extending to them our warm welcome in this chamber. We hope that they shall continue to enjoy, as I understand they have enjoyed, their visit to Australia and that further delegations from their Parliament in our neighbouring country will come to Australia.
Honourable senators - Hear, hear!
Second Reading Debate resumed.
– Mr President, I seek leave now to move the motion which I foreshadowed when I spoke earlier.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
In order to explain what else we propose, if that amendment to the motion for the second reading is passed I will move, pursuant to standing order 196A, a motion for referring the Bill to the Committee.
– in reply - We are rather surprised at the action being taken because in the other place the Opposition gave the legislation a speedy passage. The speakers who took part in the debate in the other place raised no objection to the legislation, except that they expressed some concern about what it might cost the Commonwealth Government and what it might cost if the principles laid down by the Labor Government flowed to the community generally. The Opposition speakers in the other place accepted the Government’s position. I think that some of them pointed out, as did the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), that the Labor Party had in fact moved these amendments on 2 occasions - most recently in the Bill which was introduced last year when we announced that if we became the Government we would amend the legislation along the lines contained in the Bill we are now discussing. Having done that, the Labor Government considered that it had a mandate to include the particular provisions in this Bill.
We have moved towards this position because on more than one occasion the Labor Party has said that we believe in the principle of no loss of earnings. We believe that regardless of whether a man earns $1,000 a week or $26,000 a week, as in the case stressed by Senator Wright, the widow of such a person whose death is caused by an accident in his occupation should receive what the husband was earning at the time of his death. That is our approach. While it is a higher payment than applied previously, it is not a great deal different from what some
States provide. For example, in Tasmania by the accumulation of multiple amounts it is possible for the total amount to reach $26,000. But at any rate, having regard to the promise which the former Opposition made to the unions that we would introduce this legislation, we considered that we had a mandate to base our approach to workers’ compensation on that principle.
Despite the fact that Senator Rae and Senator Wright both have drawn attention to what they consider to be the excessive amount which a widow might receive, we think that the principle is sound. She has lost the wage earner. Her dependency is clearly established and she should receive what was normally earned by her husband. Of course, the same principle is applied to weekly payments, whether they are for partial or permanent incapacity. In the case of partial incapacity to which Senator Wright referred, we are ensuring not only that an employee receives what he would normally earn. If he cannot find suitable employment, which is the point raised by Senator Wright, we are providing that he should be paid what he would normally earn. That principle already is incorporated in a number of pieces of State legislation, including the legislation in my own State.
In relation to redemption, which is a point to which Senator Wright referred, the fact is that there is a dual right to compensation and superannuation or a defence forces retirement benefits pension. I wish to make it clear that this Bill provides for the Consolidated Revenue portion of such a pension to be offset against the compensation. In the old days under the workers compensation legislation, honourable senators will remember that it was possible to offset sick leave and other leave provisions which the then Government considered to be improper and unfair.
I refer to what Senator Wright said about a de facto wife and a legal wife. Already this Parliament has passed legislation in respect of the Social Services Act and the Repatriation Act which in fact establishes the simple principle, which is now to be included in the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act, that where a legal wife is no longer dependent on the wage earner and a de facto wife is so dependent, payments can be made to both wives. In this case the Commissioner has a discretionary power to decide, on examining the circumstances, what amount he should give to the legal wife and what amount he should give to the so-called de facto wife. So this principle is not new in the sense that this is the first piece of legislation in which it is included. With the support of the Opposition we already have included the broad principle in other Acts.
Senator Wright referred to proposed new section 43 (7) which relates to a widow with a child. He referred to a circumstance which could arise where, because a widow with a dependent child is receiving the full amount of the average weekly earnings, the child would never work. My advisers from the Department inform me that proposed new section 43 (7) contains a provision which will safeguard or qualify this position. It is competent for the Commissioner to take action so as to ensure that any sort of malingering which might occur, as suggested by Senator Wright, can be averted.
In regard to the question which Senator Wright raised about average weekly earnings, as I have said, our approach is that average weekly earnings should be based on what an employee would earn which is determined more and more by industrial agreements. State governments and some other employers are applying to workers the principle that there shall be no loss of pay. Honourable senators will recall that in the previous debate on the compensation legislation, we pointed out that in the building industry in, I think, all the States know there was wholesale acceptance by the building employers organisations of the principle that when workers, such as bricklayers, builders’ labourers and plasterers, were off work on compensation they should receive what they normally earned, including overtime. The average weekly earnings will be based on an employee’s own earnings: they will not be based on the national earnings or the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures. 1 think that that answers most of the arguments about the general principles contained in the Bill. We have accepted the fact that there is a need to provide legislation, which we agree is model legislation. We have said this. It has always been part of the Government’s policy; it has not just recently been adopted. Honourable senators will recall that we have, approached all the debates about compensation legislation on the basis that there should be no loss of pay and that there should be adjustments down the line. We have put those adjustments into effect in this Bill. We have also accepted that there was a mandate from the people who elected us to office to give effect to what we have proposed. The Opposition intends to oppose the proposition. This will cause unnecessary delay to the passage of the Bill which seeks to grant some great benefits.
Honourable senators will know, from reading Hansard, that in the other place many Government supporters who spoke on this Bill said that the previous Opposition in fact gave a preliminary warning that we would do as we have done in this Bill. On the last occasion when the compensation legislation was before the Parliament we had no hesitation in saying that that piece of compensation legislation was the best in Australia. There is no question about that. Many months have passed since that was done. At the time we tried to improve the situation. Honourable senators will recall that in 1969 and, I think, again in 1970 we did the same thing by moving amendments. So, prior indication was given of the sorts of things we would be moving. Those are the reasons for our objection to the delay. It can be argued that it will be a short delay. It appears to me that the amendment will be carried because the Opposition has the numbers. I am sorry that the Senate is not going to do the same as was done in the other place, which accepted the Bill.
– I am sorry that the Democratic Labor Party and the Country Party let the workers down.
– Yes, I am sorry about the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the Australian Country Party. In winding up I point out that we had presumed that because the Opposition in the other place had accepted the intimation the Government gave of what it would move, and that whilst it might be a costly system which would overflow to the community generally the Opposition here would give a speedy passage to the Bill. Unfortunately in this case the Bill is going to be delayed. For that reason the Government opposes the amendment.
– I will not delay the Senate for long. I point out to honourable senators how difficult it will be to implement the amendment if it is carried. I refer to the composition of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal
Affairs. Serving on that Committee are Senator James McClelland, who is the Chairman, and Senators Brown, Byrne, Durak, Wheeldon and Wright. I am particularly concerned with the responsibilities which have already been undertaken by Senator James McClelland. He is the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. We have arranged to meet in Sydney next Monday and Tuesday. Arrangements have been made for witnesses to come from other parts of Australia.
– Do not suggest that the Committee should meet on Thursday and Good Friday?
-I do not think it is intended that we should meet during the Easter period. Perhaps it is; I do not know.
– What about Good Friday?
– Honourable senators opposite raid people on Christmas Day, but that is not my idea of doing things. On Thursday, 26th April, and Friday, 27th April, we are again committed with Senator James McClelland who will be chairing the Committee on Education, Science and the Arts which is meeting in either Sydney or Canberra - I am not sure which. Out of those days which the Opposition seeks to allocate for tht Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs we on this side have committed the Chairman of the Committee and ourselves to 4 days of sitting. I suggest that this is going to make it difficult, particularly for Senator James McClelland, to meet the requirements of this amendment.
– Does the honourable senator want us to extend the time for another week? Does he want to make the reporting date 8th May?
-I craved your indulgence, Mr President. I shall not impose on it any further to answer the stupid and inane remarks made by some honourable senators on my right.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Rae’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that the delegation from the Parliament of the Republic of Indonesia is about to retire.
Bill read a second time.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 196a, I move:
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
EXCISE TARIFF BILL (No. 2) 1973 Second Reading
Debate resumed from 1 1 April (vide page 1018), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now road a second time.
– Mr Deputy President, would it suit the convenience of the Senate to have a cognate second reading debate covering this Bill and the Excise Bill 1973 as they are associated matters?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is it the wish of the Senate to have a cognate debate covering the 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Opposition does not oppose either the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1973 or the Excise Bill 1973. The amendment contained in the first Bill seeks to provide for the exemption from excise duty of home brewed beer, that is, beer brewed for noncommercial purposes,
In his second reading speech the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) said that there has been an upsurge in public interest in home brewing in recent years but that persons doing this had either to restrict the strength of the beverage they brewed to a maximum of 1.15 per cent by volume of alcohol or take out a licence to manufacture beer and pay excise duty on the amount produced. I think that this is quite realistic and sensible legislation. It is known that for many years amateurs have sought to brew beer in their own homes and that they have done so with varying success. The brewing of beer at home is something which will go on no matter what one may do by way of legislation to make it legal or illegal.
It is only fair and reasonable, as those who desire to produce their own non-fortified wines can do so to the extent of 400 gallons per person, that there should be an acceptance of the principle that persons have the right to brew their own beer at home. From my observations it is a most intriguing and interesting exercise.
In spite of the modern processes which are available, capsules, strings, bits of wire and so on are still used. It may be that this situation will improve. Despite all the precautions he may take a home brewer when opening a bottle of beer may find its contents exploding in his hand. Despite the amount of brewing which is estimated to be going on at home there has not been any great infringement on the overall beer consumption. Home brewing is something of interest to certain individuals.
I commend the Government for approaching realistically a matter that is with us. It has approached it in a manner which removes the stigma of taking a furtive look over the shoulder because a person is brewing a little ale. The Opposition raises no objection to this Bill. Personally 1 welcome it, as I say, as a matter of realism, practicality and common sense.
– in reply - The Government appreciates the Opposition’s indication that it does not oppose the passage of the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1973 and the Excise Bill 1973. While the subject matter of both Bills is perhaps of a like nature, nonetheless these Bills are of tremendous importance to the rights of people in this country. I do appreciate the commendatory remarks of Senator Laucke, who has led for the Opposition in this case, in regard to the Government’s approach to this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 11 April (vide page 1018), on motion by Senator Murphy:
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.
Debate resumed from 1 1 April (vide page 1019), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition - that is, the Liberal Party; if the Australian Country Party wishes to do so it can express a reinforcing view - both welcomes and supports the measure which is before the Senate and which already has passed through the House of Representatives with similar support. Perhaps the greatest single need in the Territory of Papua New Guinea, the emerging nation which is now is a state of self-government and which will be coming into full nationhood not very far from now, is communications, and roads would stand pre-eminent in that regard. It is a country with an immense history in civil aviation. In my time as Minister for Civil Aviation I visited Papua New Guinea on 3 occasions. I was extremely impressed with the potential of civil aviation and with what it has done to open up communications in that country. However, it is apparent - it has been apparent for a long time - that road transport needs to be extended, expanded and upgraded. The purpose of the Bill is to give aid to this type of work. There are 2 principal roads concerned in this measure. One is to be built from Waterais in the Highlands to Lae, and the other is to run from Port Moresby west into what might be called a food bowl area. Port Moresby as such is not selfsupporting in food production. Both of these projects are admirable, sensible and wise, and the loan sought by means of this Bill will assist in the construction program to quite an extent.
The loan is guaranteed by the Commonwealth for borrowing in various currencies to an amount of $A6,900,000, to be obtained by the Government of Papua New Guinea from the Asian Development Bank. It also includes provision for consultancy services as part of the program of road construction. What is not mentioned is whether the officers of the Snowy Mountains Authority were involved in the consultancy program. One would be justified in holding up the Bill because this is not mentioned. If those people were so involved it would have been a good thing, but if they were not one would wonder why they were not, because they have considerable expertise in road construction in tropical areas of high rainfall. Many of us have seen their consultancy work in areas of some considerable difficulty in South East Asia. We have seen their work also in areas such as Sarawak and Sabah. So, had these people been involved, the Government would have been well advised to mention it, and had they not been involved it would have been wise to have had them involved.
Of course, this Bill is the extension of the undertakings given and the work put in hand by the previous Government. There is nothing unusual about that. An outgoing Government hands on to an incoming Government the various works in train. This is part of the process of Government. Last year an appraisal mission from the Asian Development Bank made an examination of the projects. As we enter into a discussion on this matter - I do not think one would call it a debate - it is worthy of note that Australia is a founder member of the Asian Development Bank and a substantial holder of capital in that Bank. Under the guidance of the previous Government Papua New Guinea was encouraged, first of all, -to become a member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and, subsequently, to become a member in its own right of the Asian Development Bank. It became a member of the Bank in April 1 97 1 .
There are a few matters contained in this legislation which are worthy of a little attention. Paragraph 1 of the letter of assurances attached to the Bill states:
Until such time as Papua New Guinea assumes responsibility for its own international relations. . . .
One could construe from that that the guarantee holds good only until such time as Papua New Guinea assumes its own international status. I do not think that is the case. This is not spelt out in the second reading speech and it is not spelt out in the Bill. It would be useful for Australia to know whether the guarantee given now holds good for the full term of the loan or whether in any way it is to be set to one side, altered or compromised when the self-governing territory of Papua New Guinea becomes an independent nation in its own right. In paragraph 5 of the letter of assurances appears this further comment:
If Papua New Guinea should achieve independence while any part of the loan is outstanding, Australia will use its best endeavours to ensure the continuing security of the loan and the smooth devolution of responsibility with respect thereto.
One could construe from that that Australia tended to be saying: ‘At independence we will review the situation with regard to the guarantee’. I think this matter needs to be cleared up for the emerging government of that country and indeed for our own peace of mind and what I might call self-respect. If this matter has not been cleared up as yet, I ask the Minister to give some assurance that it will be thought about seriously so that both we and they will know what the position is. Clarification of that matter would, I think, be useful to all of us. The second reading speech mentioned a choice of currency. What the currency is to be initially is not specified. One assumes it will be United States dollars but equally it could be Australian dollars. It is simply not stated what it is to be. Nor is it stated whether any other currency is involved. The words ‘choice of currency’ are interesting. Is it to be envisaged that at some time there may be a change in the currency situation and that the currency now involved may be switched for another? That, I think, would be usefully clarified.
The interest rate of 3 per cent is highly favourable; most satisfactory. The repayment terms until 1977 are equally very favourable. The initial rest period of no repayment for 4i years is, I think, very wise. The total period is 24i years. So looking at it from the point of view of those who are borrowing the money, it is a good arrangement so long as their economy can stand the repayment program, and the Bank, no doubt, would have assured itself of that. Behind all this we stand as guarantor. But how strongly do we stand, and how long are we to stand? Any honourable senator on either side of the Senate would agree that Australia’s record in helping these people towards independence and a state of economic responsibility has been very good. Some people perhaps would not think so, but I do not think that they have an open mind on this subject. Our work in this respect has been complimented. I believe we have done a good job, and that Australians should be proud of the activities of their fellow Australians in Papua New Guinea, both in war and peace, irrespective of the governments involved because it has gone on in the period of Liberal governments, Labor governments, and again Liberal governments, and I am sure it will continue during the period of the current Government. Our relationship, as Australians per se, is something of which we can be proud. We have encouraged moves by Papua New Guinea towards self government and independence.
Paragraph 12 of section 9.01 in Schedule 2 of the Bill is interesting because it is not mentioned in the second reading speech, lt reads:
There is a slight further confusion. One could read into that - I do not think this is intended - that if Papua New Guinea were to develop a separate currency system from that of Australia - and this has been mentioned in the past as a possibility - then the reading of that paragraph would make it appear as if it is excluded from consideration of the total debt position. I do not think that is the intention but it could, I think, be usefully examined.
We have, as 1 have said, every confidence in the future of Papua New Guinea. I mention in passing that this is an Asian Development Bank loan and that we have sponsored the Asian Development Bank. We were substantial founder shareholders and we continue our support. I advert now to the possibility of the Asian Development Bank being allowed to consider raising loan moneys on behalf of the Bank in the Australian capital market. Here I refer to an answer to a question which I sought from the Treasurer and which I obtained today. I quote the Treasurer’s reply which bears today’s date:
Australia’s international reserves at the end of February 1973 were equivalent to more than 13 months’ supply of imports at the current rate - greater than for any other developed country in the world today. They were more than two-and-a-half times their value at the end of February 1971.
One might comment in passing that this is a fair indication of the confidence which the world had in the previous Government. But it does put one in a situation of asking oneself now: ls Australia justified, in the light of those immense capital reserves, in turning ils back and saying to people: ‘We do not want anything from you; we have enough; take your money away’? Or should Australia be considering becoming a greater capital market and helping other people by lending them money which is surplus to its needs? I think this would be both wise and sensible for a great trading nation to do. One would obviously expect that all safeguards would be built into the system but here, it seems to me, is an opportunity for Australia to open its capital market for loan raisings under properly secured terms by Asian Development Bank arrangements. This would aid the development of people in our region with whom we want to trade and with whom we are friendly. Further, it would use our reserves effectively and would, I think, make us look a little more like people who want to live in the modern world instead of giving the impression sometimes of people who want to shrink from the modern world.
Next, I should like to quote an interesting comment by Mr Julius Chan, the Minister for Finance in Papua New Guinea - a fine man whose friendshipI enjoy - in which he mentions that the kind of financial economic situation that one can look at in Papua New Guinea in the emerging future is to be found in the post-colonial developments in the monetary financial sense of Malaysia and Singapore. The general proposition as outlined in Mr Chan’s comments is that Papua New Guinea will be a responsible country in the economic and financial sense and will encourage investment of capital in that country for sensible purposes. Mr Chan mentions the particular requirement for large scale investment in the harvest of natural resources and: in the development of our land to produce the food required by the changing needs of our people and in the establishment of our manufacturing industries . . . investment in transport. . .
All of these requirements are both wise and sensible. From our own point of view, ours is a country which is very high in the world’s standard of reserves and therefore has wealth available to help other countries.I suggest that beyond this particular measure it would be very wise for all of us to consider - I say again, with the proper safeguards - whether we ought not to consider investing through the proper agencies in developing countries. The Asian Development Bank is such an agency and we could ensure that the safeguards were maintained through that Bank. We could be usefully engaged in thinking about that and doing something about it.
As honourable members can see, we support the measure. We think it is a good measure and indeed one which we would have put in train ourselves had we retained office. We feel however, that there is a little lack of clarity in some of the terms of what the currencies are to be, and what are the guarantee decisions which lie beyond a state of independence. We think that these questions could be usefully mentioned by the Minister in his reply if he has an opportunity to do so. If he does not have that opportunity because his advisers might want to get further information, then perhaps he will be able to do so at a later date, there will be some method by which he can communicate with myself or others to give the answers to the questions we have asked. The Opposition does not want in any way to hold the matter up. We want to approach it responsibly. We believe that these questions need to be answered, and we would hope to gel an answer today or at a later time from the Minister through his respondent Minister.
– I take a few minutes of the Senate’s time to say that although Senator Cotton indicated that the Country Party fully supports this measure - we do and I thank him for saying that - I would like to make clear that we are joining the Opposition in supporting this Bill. We recognise that in a developing country such as Papua New Guinea the transport of goods is an essential priority and that it is of prime importance to acquire sufficient finance to construct roads. I commend the Bill and I hope that we shall see from it all those things that we believe will happen with the provision of this money.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party, in common with the Liberal Party and the Country Party, and of course the Government which brought in the measure, enthusiastically supports this Bill. I feel I should make one comment which stems from a statement by the Minister in his second reading speech, in which he said:
I would mention that at the time of Papua New Guinea’s admission to the Asian Development Bank Australia gave an undertaking to the Bank in accordance with Article 3.3 of the agreement establishing the Bank that, until Papua New Guinea itself assumes responsibility for its own international relations, Australia would be responsible for all obligations that may be incurred by Papua New Guinea by reason of its admission to membership in the Bank and enjoyment of the benefits of such membership.
That statement predicates the contemplated situation that when Papua New Guinea assumes political independence a new relationship will develop between Australia and that country in which that country will e considered to be on its own and free from the solicitude, regard and attention that are now being devoted to it by Australia. If that is in contemplation, I think that it could be a very unwise proposition. While Papua New Guinea may well achieve political independence very quickly, it will by -no means have achieved economic independence or even complete economic viability. It will still require support and sustenance. The logical place from which that should come is Australia. Therefore, the Government of this country should still contemplate the fact that, if Papua New Guinea in its present position of what we may call dependence receives guarantees from Australia for the Asian Development Bank to support its loan indebtedness, no vastly different position should be allowed to obtain merely with its emergence into independence.
I think that that regard, solicitude and favoured nation type of support should continue to come from Australia. If they do not, a situation will be precipitated in which the nation will have political independence and, if it is economicaly starved or finds itself economically inadequate, the real danger will arise there, as it has arisen in other countries - political independence founders and finally sinks on the shoals of economic insufficiency. Then the position of Papua New Guinea politically, socially and economically could be really bad. Therefore, I think that the Government should at the earliest stage give some indication of its attitude from the point of view of financial and economic support to these Territories when they emerge into political independence. Otherwise, as I say, we will precipitate a situation in which a tremendous danger might be posed to the very political independence which that country has sought for so long.
Having said that, I indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party supports this Bill with considerable enthusiasm. We trust that this support, which in this case will improve transportation in one of the areas of the world in which transportation at a high level can be of the very greatest significance, will help to build a transport system through the whole of Papua New Guinea so that, with that as a base, economic improvement and expansion can come all the more quickly, readily and effectively to the emerging independent nation of Papua New Guinea. The Democratic Labor Party supports the Bill.
– I would like to take some small part in the debate on the Papua New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank) Bill in order to support it and the remarks made by Senator Cotton. I wish to speak about it largely in relation to international aid. 1 know that the Bill is very much an economic measure. On the other hand, it carries with it strong overtones of international aid and Australia’s place in the field of international aid. It is a field about which there is a great deal of discussion and in which I think the Government would agree a great deal of research and work remains to be undertaken. The details of the measure have been outlined and referred to already, lt is well known that its purpose is to finance a highway project that is designed to serve a region that contains approximately half the population of Papua New Guinea. It is a matter of joint governmental activity.
As honourable senators probably know, the initiation of projects for international loan proposals falls within the authority of the responsible Minister in the Papua New Guinea Government, and the Commonwealth Government formally guarantees such loans from international agencies. It is through our membership of the Asian Development Bank that we as a nation have the opportunity to make contributions and to give assistance in the total field of international aid. Papua New Guinea became a member of the Asian Development Bank in 1971. Last year a mission of the Bank visited the area about which we are speaking to examine the highway project. A highway project in a territory such as
Papua New Guinea is, of course, of vital importance not only to its future economic and social development but also in assisting to bring about a greater sense of what I will call political unity. Papua New Guinea is a country of considerable ethnic diversity, and any serious obstacles to communication will be a hindrance to the development of independence. On the other hand, the improvement of transport facilities certainly will help to break down some of the problems that could threaten the unity of the country when it becomes a nation.
As I said, what arouses my interest in the Bill is the role of the Asian Development Bank in the field of international aid and the part that we play, through it, in that field of international aid. I am interested in the speech made by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea, Mr Somare, during the visit of the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) earlier this year. On that occasion he said:
There is no doubt that we will want a close relationship with Australia. We have been ruled by Australia for many years. Australia has influenced our political system, our education, and other aspects of our daily life. Individual Australians have contributed their skills and have assisted us in our efforts for a better life. We still rely on Australia for most of our aid and specialist manpower, lt is noteworthy that we are not achieving autonomy in an atmosphere of hatred and retribution, but in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.
We will, therefore, remain friends after selfgovernment. Though we will seek to make our economy increasingly self supporting and viable, and though we may seek assistance from other countries, we will look to Australia to continue aid to us and assist in our defence for some time to come. We want to be good neighbours and good friends. We want to cooperate with Australia on joint projects to the benefit of both Australia and ourselves.
I think that Mr Somare was acknowledging in those words the interdependence that countries such as Australia and Papua New Guinea have in the total area of the international aid program. Our program of international aid has shown for some considerable time a preference for bilateral aid. This arises from several circumstances. It is interesting to note that some 80 per cent of the world’s international atd is given bilaterally. This is a fairly obvious flow-through from the relationship between donor countries and recipient countries existing from early days. This is the case with Papua New Guinea. 1 believe that bilateral assistance is the best proposition. What is more, Papua
New Guinea is our closest neighbour and therefore is a very special case in Australia’s international aid program. As has been acknowledged by the Chief Minister, it stands to benefit very much from an inflow of aid and investment from Australia. It is true to say that we have a special responsibility as independence approaches in Papua New Guinea. I think that after Papua New Guinea attains independence Australia will assume with it an aid relationship which is similar to those which Australia has at present with other countries.
The matter of international aid always is of public interest and is a matter for comment. That was so throughout a substantial sector of the Austraiian community during part of last year when programs such as Action for World Development were very much a subject of community discussion and in the news. 1 think that out of a lot of this discussion there has come a recognition that among the donor countries Australia has a rather special position. Apart from Japan, we are the only developed donor country situated in the region of greatest population. Because we are in this situation we have special responsibilities. It would be well understood by the Senate that in the area of greatest, population the most serious development problems exist. So in looking at international aid not only must we examine our performance as a donor nation. I think it should be asserted repeatedly that Australia’s role in international aid programs should be one of involvement and certainly not one of detachment. lt is essential that developing countries, particularly those in our area, not only should receive adequate assistance but should advance economically and socially.
According to the various formulae used by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation, for Economic Co-operation and Development, our record as a donor nation compares very favourably with the records of other donor countries. In the current financial year our estimated expenditure on external aid amounts to $220m, of which S145m or almost two-thirds goes in various forms of aid to Papua New Guinea. I do not want to take the discussion on international aid any further than that at this stage because the Bill deals primarily with the activities of the Asian Development Bank, of which Australia is a member and through which it extends assistance to a large number of countries, in particular Papua New Guinea. So it is very much a matter of interdependence, as I said earlier. My speech does not pretend to be anything like a total statement on international aid. The Bill gives us a relationship to Papua New Guinea. Emphasis is placed on our role through the Bank and on the important field of assistance to Papua New Guinea to enable it to become not only a worthy nation in the family of nations but also a very friendly and acceptable neighbour. With those comments, I lend my support to the Bill.
– -I appreciate the support that was given to the Bill by members of each Party. I appreciate the speedy passage of the Bill and the sympathetic remarks which were made by Senator Cotton, Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator Byrne and Senator Davidson about the great problems confronting the people of Papua New Guinea. Because no opposition was expressed to the Bill I do not intend to speak at length in reply. I shall merely comment on one or two matters which were raised by Senator Cotton and Senator Byrne. Because, the Bill was debated earlier than 1 expected it would be debated, it was not possible for me to get a departmental officer here until a reasonably late stage of the second reading debate. Therefore, if I should miss any point that was raised, I shall certainly see that the comments which were made by honourable senators are referred to the Department of External Territories and that replies are forwarded to the honourable senators concerned.
asked about the future currency and what was envisaged after independence. He also asked about the loan from the Asian Development Bank being described as a loan for an amount, in various currencies, equivalent to $US9.8m. He wanted to know the currencies in which the loan would be made available. I understand that in accordance with Article III of the Special Operations Loan Regulations of the Asian Development Bank, except as the Bank and the borrower shall otherwise agree, the cost of goods (financed out of the proceeds of the loan shall be paid in the respective currencies of the countries from which such goods may be acquired and withdrawals of the. loan shall be made in the respective currencies in which the cost of goods has been paid or is payable. As the countries from which the goods - namely, the materials and plant - will be acquired will depend largely upon where the contracts for carrying out the project will be let, it is not yet possible to state, so I understand, the currencies and the amounts of the currencies in which the loan will be drawn.
asked about the future financial arrangements for Papua New Guinea. I think that I have answered portion of his question. The Minister for External Territories, Mr Morrison, during the course of the debate on this Bill in another place, indicated how Australia would have regard to Papua New Guinea after independence is granted. As honourable senators will be aware, the Labor Government’s policy on Papua New Guinea is to expedite independence and the emergence of a nation with its own identity. I am informed that a couple of months ago the Treasurer (Mr Crean) stated in effect that loans which are at present guaranteed under section 75a of the Papua New Guinea Act and which are raised up to the time of independence will continue to be guaranteed for the life of the loan after independence. I know that those financial arrangements have been set out by the Treasurer.
– What about projected financial arrangements in the Territory? You may not be aware of them. I do not expect you to be aware of them.
– I am not aware of them. I understand that certain provisions are receiving consideration by the Department now. I do not know the exact detail of all those provisions, but 1 understand that financial matters after independence are the subject of discussion and advice within the Department. I thank honourable senators opposite for their support of the Bill. It is an important one. I repeat that we appreciate the speedy passage which has been given to it. As I said, any matters which have been raised and which I have overlooked will be referred to the Department, and replies will be given to the honourable senators concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 1070).
– I seek leave to move an amendment to the motion that 1 moved this morning in relation to the next meeting of the Senate. In short, the Government now seeks to delete the last paragraph of the motion.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert - the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 1st May next, unless sooner called together by the President or, in the event of the President being unavailable owing to illness or other cause, by the Chairman of Committees, provided that the President upon a request or requests by an absolute majority of senators that the Senate meet at a certain time shall fix a day and hour of meeting in accordance wilh such request or requests and such time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter’.
It is not my intention to speak at length as to why the Government believes that this proposition should be supported.
– Would the Minister mind paraphrasing bis proposition and explaining why this amendment has been moved?
– I am about to do that. The Government’s proposition basically follows the line of thought expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, during the discussion that took place on Tuesday concerning the days and hours of meeting. The Government, by moving in this direction, virtually urges that if the Senate is to be recalled it should be done as a result of individual approaches by honourable senators either by telegram or letter to the President or, in the absence or illness of the President, to the Chairman of Committees. The approach should not be made on behalf of members of the Liberal Party by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, on behalf of members of the Australian Country Party by the Leader of that Party in the Senate, or on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party by the Leader of that Party. Each honourable senator has a right of personal expression on the question of whether the Senate should be recalled.
On Tuesday, Senator Murphy pointed out that in 1967 he moved a motion which was somewhat similar to an amendment that I understand the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate shortly will be moving to my amended motion. Senator Murphy pointed out that both inside and outside the chamber the objection was raised at that time that one person, namely the leader of a party, could purport to be binding all members of his party. It is the desire of the Government to protect and to preserve the individual rights of members of the Senate, including the 3 Independent senators - 2 of whom have been elected by the people of Tasmania and the other by the people of Western Australia. We believe that each of those 3 senators is entitled to an expression of opinion which carries the same weight as the expression of opinion of any other “honourable senator as to whether the Senate should be recalled. It is on that principle, namely the protection of the rights of individual senators, that we have moved this motion.
A somewhat similar matter was discussed in this chamber in 1967 when my Party was in Opposition and the present Opposition was in Government. Certain opinions were expressed individually by members of the then Government parties, namely, that action similar to the course which the Government is now proposing should be adopted. For those reasons 1 urge honourable senators to support the amended motion that I have moved on behalf of the Government.
– I, too, will be brief. I realise that other business is due to come on at 4.30 p.m. I move the following amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘Chairman of Committees’ at end of first sentence, insert -
That during any period of the present Session when the Senate is adjourned, and notwithstanding any resolution of the Senate fixing a time for the next meeting of the Senate, the President upon a request or requests by an absolute majority of the whole number of Senators that the Senate meet at a certain time, shall fix a day and hour of meeting in accordance with such request or requests and such time of meeting shall be notified to each Senator by telegram or letter.
For these purposes a request by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate shall be deemed to be a request by every member of the Opposition, and a request from the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate and/or a request from the
Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party shall be deemed a request by every member of the respective Party.
Provided further that the request or requests may be made to the President by leaving the same with or delivering the same to the Clerk of the Senate, who shall immediately notify the President.
In the event of the President being unavailable, the Clerk shall without delay notify the Deputy President, or, should he be unavailable, any one of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees, who shall be deemed to be required by the Senate to summon the Senate on behalf of the President, in accordance with the terms of this Resolution.’
– This is virtually the same as the motion that you moved on Tuesday.
– Yes. It is the motion of which, finally, I gave notice on Tuesday. I understand the arguments raised by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). The argument, in a strict parliamentary sense, is a real one. I agree with the sense of the argument, with one exception, lt does not allow for the sheer administrative difficulties which are involved in recalling the Senate. The number of honourable senators in this place is fairly delicately balanced as between the Government and the Opposition. The Government has 26 senators, the Opposition has 21 senators, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party have 5 senators each and there are 3 Independent senators. If an absolute majority of senators is required, the support is needed of almost the total number of honourable senators who are not members of the Government Party. The administrative problem is that the Senate will go into a winter recess - with luck, some time in May or, with not so much luck in early June - lasting 2 to 3 months. During that time, quite rightly, a number of honourable senators will travel overseas as members of parliamentary delegations. It is because of their absence from Australia that the problem arises. It would be virtually impossible to have in Australia in that period 31 non-Government senators who would be able to send to you, Mr President, either a letter or a telegram seeking the recall of the Senate. It might well be said that in these days of radio telephones, cables and so on this should not present such an enormous problem. However, this year a delegation is going to China and another is going to Russia. It would be a matter of tracking down where people are. 12607/73- S- i
– Do you think that honourable senators should not-
– I do not criticise the fact that people are going overseas, I am just indicating that there will be at least 2 parliamentary delegations overseas. In fact there could be more. People are going away with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It is right that they should go and I am not being critical. I am referring to the sheer administrative problem involved in getting in touch with these people. We would have to track down where they are staying and explain the situation to them. Then they would have to cable you, Mr President. That is beyond the realms of reasonableness. It is for that reason, and I imagine for that reason only, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, couched his motion in 1967 in the terms he used. It is for that reason, and again for that reason only, that the present motion is couched in those terms.
I would be most surprised if Senator Drake-Brockman, of his own initiative and without consulting his 4 colleagues, sent you a telegram, Mr President, purporting to be on behalf of his colleagues. The same might be said of Senator Gair. He would not send you such a telegram without consulting his 4 colleagues. I certainly would not send a telegram without consulting all those colleagues of mine with whom I was able to get in touch reasonably by a telephonic communication. I am well aware of the fact that there could be some of my colleagues with whom I could not get in touch. Therefore, in effect, what I am asking my colleagues to do when voting for this motion is to delegate to me some sort of proxy on their behalf that I could use when I could not get in touch with them because of illness, an overseas visit or some other reason.
– Would you expect pairs for those people if the Senate were to sit?
– Normally, when parliamentary delegations are overseas-
– Other than parliamentary delegations.
– No, I would not expect pairs to be granted in that situation. I would not myself. If the Government asked for a pair because a Minister was away on urgent Government business, naturally a pair would be granted. But parliamentary delegations automatically are paired, one side of the chamber to the other, so that question does not arise.
– This situation would arise if an honourable senator happened to be on a private trip overseas and the Senate was suddenly recalled. Would you consider pairing in that situation?
– I realise what the honourable senator means. As far as the Opposition is concerned, it is our view that the fair and reasonable thing to do if a member of the Government is overseas on private business is to grant a pair. I think it would be ridiculous to expect a private senator to break a trip which had been arranged for months and to return at his own expense merely for one or 2 days in order to vote. I think that would be unreasonable. I was Government Whip for long enough to realise that the seeking and granting of pairs has to be on the basis of a sensible and reasonable arrangement. This idea of refusing pairs out of pique is nonsense. I would say that persons overseas on private trips ought to be given pairs. That is my own indication.
I have taken longer than I expected to take. Before I conclude I should move some motion to allow this debate to be continued after 4.30 p.m. Perhaps the Clerk can assist me. Perhaps I could ask for leave to move that General Business, which is due to be called on at 4.30 p.m., be postponed until the disposal of this matter. Would such a motion cover the situation?
– That would be adequate.
– I ask leave to move such a motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is because of the basic administrative reasons that I have mentioned that I now move:
That General Business be postponed until after the disposal of the matter now before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The Democratic Labor Party supports the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). The very nature of this exercise is that the matter will rise in emergent circumstances. A very great power is being exercised. There may be on some particular occasion or in relation to a particular matter an element of high concern among honourable senators which in their opinion warrants the calling of the Senate. It would be a matter of great moment or great urgency, or both. In those circumstances the overriding consideration must be that if it is the predponderant opinion of the Senate that it should assemble, the facilities must be made available to enable that to be done.
In the situation contemplated in the proposition presented by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Douglas McClelland, we visualise a situation where it would be the desired opinion and perhaps the express view of 31 honourable senators that the Senate be assembled. But individual requisitions are required. One honourable senator might be out of communication and might not be able to be contacted or for some other reason his requisition may not reach the person with whom it was to be deposited. Therefore that meeting of the Senate could not take place.
The overriding consideration is the facilitation of the calling of the Senate if that is contemplated by a majority of honourable senators. That could be achieved within the party system by the Leaders of the various party groups receiving from their members the authority to speak and to act on their behalf in this type of emergent circumstance. That seems to me to be a reasonable and prudent procedure to follow. Party members would be confident that their leader, as Senator Withers said, would not operate against the views of his senators collectively or of any individual senator. A leader would not purport to represent or present his opinion where it was contrary to what the individual senator holds and wishes. The leader would be able to present the individual members in the aggregate as a composite price to you, Mr President, or to the Deputy President or to the Chairman of Committees, in the event that those honourable senators want a meeting of the Senate summoned.
In those circumstances I think that this is the way in which the Senate should operate. I do not think the Senate should place any impediment in the way of this procedure being adopted.
There have been situations about which the Senate has been gravely concerned and has felt that it should operate quickly. It would be wrong and totally undemocratic if, because of some technical intervention which we ourselves created, we denied the Senate the opportunity to do what it wished. While there is obviously a concurrence of opinion on all sides that the Senate should have a free opportunity of assembling when that is the expressed desire and opinion of the majority of honourable senators, there is a difference as to what should be the form in which this compliance shall take place. We of the Democratic Labor Party believe that in entrusting the leaders of the party groups with this opportunity - in the case of independent senators independent requisitions would be required - and in displaying confidence in the leadership that it will speak properly, it is a matter for the leadership of the parties to determine what authority they would require from individual senators.
It may well be that the Leader of the Opposition would require an express individual authority from his members to be deposited with him. In circumstances in which he considered that the Senate should be called together he would carry with him the authority of individual senators to act on their behalf and he would lodge a requisition with the Senate on behalf of those individual senators. That may be a matter which has to be determined by the leader of a party. It would merely reassure him that he carried authority with him.
So far as you are concerned, Mr President, or somebody who may be acting for you, I think you would require no assurance from the leader that he has been so authorised. I think you would accept that a leader of a party purporting to act on behalf of any senator or any group of senators of his own party was so authorised. 1 think you could operate on the basis that those senators, individually and by that method, were requisitioning a meeting of the Senate. I think you should have and would have no doubts on that account. However, if you felt that that was not adequate authority for you, you could insist on the adoption of a suggestion I have presented, namely, that in those circumstances you could have lodged with you an individual authority by the leader of a party that he was authorised at all times to act on the authority of individual members of his party. In thos* circumstances if you received a request from the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party you would then consult the authority then in your possession. You would see that he had a continuing authority to act for his members and you would accept that as a requisition for a meeting from the 5 members of the Party.
If you thought that procedure was necessary, or if - and I think more properly - you acted on the basis that he is so authorised, or that he is purporting to be so authorised, then I think that we would facilitate this very democratic process of allowing the Senate to be called together only in those urgent circumstances but with the minimum of technical interference to enable a matter of urgency and importance to be discussed in the forum of the Senate. For those reasons the Democratic Labor Party supports the proposition presented by Senator Withers.
– I will not traverse the ground that has been covered by previous speakers. We are dealing with the question of whether the Senate should be recalled to discuss a matter of urgency, and whether each individual senator should be notified by the President or his deputy or whether a telegram from the leaders of the parties should be sufficient for the recall of the Senate. During the course of the debate last Tuesday I said that, if 1 indicated on behalf of my Party that I was seeking the recall of the Senate, that should be sufficient. I recognise what Senator Douglas McClelland said about individuals, but I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) that this is an administrative matter. I know full well from past experience that if every honourable senator receives a telegram, the first thing he will do will be to try to get in touch with the Whip or the leader of his party to find out what it is all about. So not only would telegrams be sent to individual senators, but individual senators would be trying to contact their Whips or their leaders to find out what it is all about.
I am quite sure that if I receive notice from one of the leaders of the parties in the Senate indicating that he is seeking the recall of the Senate and the reasons are given to me, I will be able to study them, talk to my Party and give the decision of our Party to the President in a very much shorter time than 1 believe would be possible if we accepted the proposition put forward by Senator Douglas McClelland. I believe that the administrative, act involved in the Government’s proposition would be expensive. It is the long way round and it is unnecessary. Therefore, I will support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I want to take a few minutes of the Senate’s time because I think that, although the amendment which has been moved would be a convenient way of hurriedly getting the Senate together, it defeats the very purpose of what we have been talking about. I am of the opinion that everyone agrees that a majority of the Senate should have the right to call the Senate together if it is necessary that the Senate should be called together not at the whim of the Government but to discuss some urgent matter. Unless we have some procedure for calling the Senate together during a recess, it will not be called together. If we have a procedure that allows a majority of the members of the Senate - and I think that everyone is agreed upon this - to call the Senate together, I do not think that we should take that right away from anyone.
But the first thing to remember is that the amendment provides that during any period of the present session - and this is the life of the Parliament, a 3-year period - a request can be made for the Senate to meet at a certain time and the President shall fix a date. As Senator Byrne said, the President does not have the power to reject a request if he has some doubt as to whether the leadership has the sanction of the members of the parties. The President can act only in the terms of the resolution of the Senate.
– But he has to be satisfied that he has a genuine requisition.
– No. It is a genuine requisition if a leader of a party tells him it is.
– From where did you get that?
– From the wording of the amendment. The amendment states:
For these purposes a request by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate shall be deemed to be a request by every member of the Opposition . . .
Whether it is or not, it shall be deemed to be a request. Therefore, the President is requested to call the Senate together. So the
Leader of the Opposition does not have to have the sanction of all the members on whose behalf he is petitioning. Senator Withers said that he would not have that sanction. He said that if he wanted to make a requisition he would get in touch with all the members that he could reasonably reach by telephone communication or by other means to make sure that he had support for calling for a meeting of the Senate.
A number of members of the Senate could be overseas at this period. Senator Withers said that Senator Douglas McClelland’s proposition is useless because of the inability to get in touch with members of the Senate. But Senator Withers, as the leader of his Party, is going to make a request on behalf of senators with whom he cannot get in touch. What is more, if senators are with the girls in Paris and they get a request, does anyone think that they will be anxious to return? Does anyone think that they would ask to return to a meeting of the Senate to see whether Senator Murphy went into the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or somewhere.
Other senators could be away with their wives on a holiday. Would they be anxious to return? They could not be contacted, but the Leader of the Opposition is going to come in here and sign an acceptance on their behalf. We will reach the position where the Senate will be called together not as a result of a request by the majority of members of the Senate. The Senate could be called together by 3 men. I do not say that they would act only for 3 men. Possibly they would have the majority of- their parties behind them in order to ensure that their view was sanctioned. But taking the question to the extreme, it is possible for only 3 men to call the Senate together.
There is another consideration. If we accepted the amendment we would commit a senator to a time for calling the Senate together. If the Senate is in 3 months recess, the Leader of the Opposition could come in and say: ‘I want a meeting of the Senate in June, and that is a request of every member of my Party’. A senator in Western Australia or overseas could say: ‘I am not opposed to a meeting, but I am not agreeable to this request’. Then we would get many requests but the Leader of the Opposition has the authority to request the timing of the meeting.
Having got that authority, he is in the position that he is speaking on behalf of everyone in his Party.
K any difficulty arose, which Senator Withers and other honourable senators opposite have said could happen, and if the members of a party had complete confidence that their leader would not call the Senate together without justifiable reason and without a deal of responsibility, there is nothing to stop any leader from getting a requisition for the Senate to be called together signed before honourable senators left this House and simply filling in the date later. That could be done under Senator Douglas McClelland’s proposition, if there is confidence in the leadership of the parties. It would make no difference to the practice. It would be easier than having to go to the trouble of travelling all round the world to get the signatures of senators. But no-one has sufficient confidence in his leader to give him this power in order to permit him to do that. But when senators are out of eyesight and out of hearing, the leader uses the power and acts on their behalf. So we will get the position where the Senate could be called together - and on most occasions will be called together - on a minority decision of the Senate. We have no assurance that when the Senate is called together those who are not available - those who cannot be here - will be given pairs from the other side of the chamber. I say that there is no hardship to anyone. When Senator Murphy moved the original motion it was not based on the unanimous decision of our Caucus. Many have seen the wisdom and justification for a majority calling the Senate together. But in the interests of democracy we cannot tolerate a decision which would mean the minority could call the Senate together.
– I support the proposition put by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). My comments will be brief. I point to something which I think is highly important as regards the Senate. To me it seems quite undemocratic to have a motion advanced in this form. The Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) has canvassed the issue. If the amendment is carried, it will actually depend upon the leaders of the minority groups as to who decides when this Senate should be assembled. It should be a matter for each senator to decide. I have heard many pleas in this chamber about the importance of the Senate. This afternoon the Senate was subject to great arguments about the importance of the Senate in relation to the other place. Honourable senators can argue that an honourable senator in this place has a very special responsibility and ability. But in the prosposal which has been advanced by the Opposition it has been left to the 3 leaders of the minority groups which are, in fact, the Opposition of the country to contest the role and powers of the Government. We are the Government, as we have been appointed by the electors of Australia to govern the country. Yet honourable senators opposite come along and say: ‘Right, one leader from each of those minority groups can assemble the Senate’. The leaders would not have to assemble their members in a democratic fashion; they would not have to have Party meetings; yet on their say so it is proposed that the Senate can be reassembled.
– There has to be a quorum.
– All honourable senators are doing is carrying out a policy of frustration of the Government. The Opposition has been experimenting with the idea of frustrating government. It has said tentatively that on every occasion it will accept whatever the Government has a mandate for. But whenever there is a Bill before the Senate the Opposition does what it can to frustrate its passage.
– Of course you do. As a matter of fact, you did it this afternoon in relation to workers compensation. But in the other place your Party said: ‘Let it go through’.
– Not our Party.
– Today your acting leader, Senator McManus -
– Who is our member in the other place?
– Well, the coalition. It is the group opposite me acting in coalition all the time. The leaders of the minority groups say: ‘We will decide when the Senate will meet’. If honourable senators are genuine about the proposal they should insert a prescription that there has to be an assembly of members of all Party groups. Then perhaps honourable senators could justify what they are doing. They may be able to justify it on the basis of democracy or as related to the role of each honourable senator who is elected from the States. But until that is done this is a most undemocratic act. It is intended to frustrate the Government. At some time the Opposition’s proposal will cause a crisis within the community and within the political machinery of this country. I repeat that this procedure is most undemocratic. This is simply an exercise of a power which honourable senators have just found they have. Like all power it has to be exercised carefully. It would be a bad thing if the Senate were to have regard for this sort of thing in such a cursory fashion. Perhaps honourable senators could have this motion examined by one of the Senate committees. The great advocates of the Senate committees might say–
– Senator Murphy was a great advocate.
– The honourable senator knows the situation. We are trying to exercise a democratic power by the motion which was put down by Senator Murphy. But the proposition advanced by the Opposition is too simple. Why, a child could work it out. It is a little puzzle whereby 3 people, Senator Withers, Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Gair, if he is here, or Senator McManus telephone each other and say: ‘We will put the heat on the Government. We will give an instruction to the President.’ It is as simple as that. The great defenders of the Constitution opposite have said that the Senate ought to do this or do that. They are setting up a little junta within this Senate which will subvert the purposes of the Senate. I hope that due regard will be given to that fact. It is great to be happy when one has the numbers. But honourable senators opposite have the numbers only because they have agreed for the time being to work together on some specific, common platform. They do not have the numbers because of their electoral strength.
– We were all elected to this place.
– Honourable senators opposite have agreed to run on the same policy pattern in the short term. In my opinion it is not proper for the Senate to carry the amendment. I suggest that in the long term honourable senators opposite will be sorry if they use their weight to pass this proposal. If some sort of democratic process had been written into the amendment whereby there was some sort of requirement that the leaders had to consult individual honourable senators, then I think there might have been some sub stance in the proposal. For those reasons I suggest that this is a fundamental mistake in the history of the Senate. I have no doubt that in 10 years time the person who writes the ‘Senate Practice’ will mention this as a great failure.
– in reply - It is not my intention to speak at length in reply to the matters which have been raised by Senator Withers, Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Byrne. I think that most of what needs to be said has been said already by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) and the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh). Our motion means that if the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Australian Country Party or the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party wants to recall the Senate then it is up to those honourable senators to convince their own members that they - their own members - should send telegrams to you, Mr President, or in your absence or illness to the Chairman of Committees advising that they as individual members of the Senate, not under Party discipline, want a recall of the Senate. While most of us are members of one or other of the political parties the fact is - this has not been alluded to by any of the honourable senators on the other side who have spoken - that there are 3 independent honourable senators sitting in this Senate. Under the amendment they would have no right to express their opinion as to whether there should be a recall of the Senate, as suggested, by the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Country Party or the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party.
– That is just not so.
Why is it not so? The leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) said that if one can marshall the weight of the Country Party and of the Democratic Labor Party behindthe weight of the Liberal Party then one can recall the Senate.
– But independent honourable senators can still express their views under this motion.
– Express their views! They do not even have to be notified. Theyare notified only after the Leader of the Opposition has made the request to the President. Then it is up to the President to notify’ them that there will be a recall of the Senate. If the Leader of the Opposition makes a request to the President that there be a recall and if the President accedes to that request, then it is the responsibility of the President to notify every member of the Senate that there will be a recall of the Senate.
– They can still request the President for a recall.
They can request the President for a recall but there is no necessity for the Leader of the Opposition to notify them if he has the numbers. Let us face it, it is a simple game of numbers which the Opposition is playing. If the Opposition has the numbers on its side then it need not tell anyone on the Government side that it is seeking a recall of the Senate. But let me make this point: As soon as the President is notified that a recall is sought - because it is made he, of necessity, has to deem it to be a request by every member of the Opposition - then he has to notify every honourable senator no matter where he is and no matter how difficult it may be to contact him. If the President of the Senate has to do that after the request has been made, why can it not be done in the first instance?
Let me raise another point. It is a point to which Senator Cavanagh alluded. There are just as many administrative difficulties in getting members of the Senate back to a meeting of the Senate as there are in contacting them to request a sitting of the Senate. The simple fact of the matter is that acceptance of the proposition which has been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition will be binding on the Senate during any period of the present session when the Senate is adjourned. But there is to be a Senate election either towards the end of this year or early next year.
– When does the Minister think it will be?
– I would not know.
– If the Government is so confident of having the numbers then what is it worrying about?
– It could well be that the Government will have the numbers in the Senate after the next Senate election. I think it will. What I am getting at is that the Opposition is now trying to bind the Senate after 1st July 1974 with a proposition which, on its argument, will last for a period of 3 years. The Government has no objection to a recalling of the Senate if that is the express wish of the majority of honourable senators. But, under the Opposition’s proposal, it could well be that what is deemed to be a request on the part of all members of the Opposition is in fact not a majority request.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he assumed that if a request were made to Senator Drake-Brockman he - Senator DrakeBrockman - would not send a telegram to the President unless he had consulted all of the members of his Party, and that Senator Gair would do likewise. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the fact that a number of overseas trips are to take place this year. It could well be that a member of, for instance, the Country Party in the Senate is on a trip to China and that another member of the Country Party is on a trip to the Soviet Union.
– We get only one every 4 years.
– Be that as it may, it could well be that a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party is on a trip to China or to the Soviet Union. I wonder whether in those circumstances either Senator Drake-Brockman or Senator Gair would consult all the members of his Party. The situation could arise where a request is made-
– We would make a good effort anyway.
– But Senator Gair and Senator Drake-Brockman might not be successful in their efforts. We say that the very fact that the leader of a party is not successful does not allow him to speak on behalf of all members of his party. No matter how much a leader tries it might be impossible for him to contact one of the members of his party.
– Our leadership is trusted.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that his leadership is trusted. I referred earlier in the debate to a situation that occurred in 1967 when the present Government was in Opposition and it proposed a somewhat similar motion to this one. Senator Wright was a supporter of the
Government in those days. He was then a back bench member of the Senate. On 19th May 1967, Senator Wright said:
I want it to be quite plain that anything that suggests that the leaders of the parties should have control over senators or should be able to call the Senate together is unacceptable to me.
Senator Marriott, who was also sitting on the Government side of the chamber, also had something to say on the matter. On the same date - 19th May - Senator Marriott said:
If the President of the Senate were to receive a telegram stating: ‘We desire a meeting of the Senate. Murphy. Leader of the Opposition. Gair. Leader of the DLP’, how could he be sure that every member of the Opposition was behind the request? There would also have to be a request from the 2 Independent senators or some senators on the Government side.
– But I did not doubt my leader.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDWell
– What did Senator Murphy say in reply to that?
– Unfortunately I do not have an extract of what he said. But, knowing the great civil libertarian that Senator Murphy is, I think he would have said, as he said on Tuesday, that the rights of the individual members of the Senate are to be preserved. We on the Government side of the chamber believe in preserving and protecting the rights of individual members of the Senate. I urge the Senate to support the logic of the argument put forward by the Government.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Withers’ amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Withers’ amendment) be inserted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority .. 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Douglas McClelland’s) as amended be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the second report of the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That General Business, Notice of Motion No. 10, be withdrawn.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to terminate Commonwealth estate duty. Commonwealth estate duty has become an oppressive, punitive and discriminatory tax which is carried by those people least able to afford it. Since the Commonwealth introduced death duties in 1914 there has been a widespread belief that this form of taxes would lead to a fairer distribution of wealth and a fairer distribution of the nation’s land holdings. It has been trumpeted around that death duties on inherited property ensure that the personal wealth of a nation is not locked up in the hands of a small arrogant and self-perpetuating group of people. Nearly 60 years after the Commonwealth
Government first entered the field it has become obvious that this view of death duties is as untrue as it is irrelevant.
There are only 2 certainties about Commonwealth estate duties. Firstly, they tax the poorer citizen rather than the richer citizen and, secondly, they tax the rural producer far more rigorously than they tax the city dweller. The first point is well established by even a brief study of the structure of Commonwealth estate duties in this country. The poor pay their estate duties while the richer pay their lawyers. As with any other scheme of taxation estate duties are open to avoidance. The smarter the lawyer a man can hire, the larger the estate he will leave to his heirs. Let us look at the other side of the coin.
The smaller and middle level property owner such as the family farmer just cannot afford the elaborate schemes for avoiding estate duty which are open to wealthier citizens. It is the smaller and middle level of property owners who make up the great bulk of people who are liable to estate duties. Quite apart from the question of who can afford the best legal advice, the process of inflation since World War II has further jeopardised the chances of the smaller and middle levels of property owners to get fair treatment from the Commonwealth Government.
The rate structure of Commonwealth estate duty has not been revised since 1941. Although the last Government made some concession to inflation in its Budget of August 1972, there are innumerable smaller property owners who have been put into the tax-paying class by the pressure of inflation; that is, inflation has increased the nominal value of their properties thereby forcing them to pay estate duties at a rate which in 1941 would have been reserved for the well to do. Therefore in the rural community - unless you are a wealthy landowner - legal costs on the one hand and inflation on the other - successfully conspire to deprive your heirs of the benefit of hard work and skill lavished on your property.
Let me state a common instance of how estate duties have become punitive and oppressive for the small family farmer. I quote from an article entitled ‘Death Duties are out of Date and Inefficient Too’ by Dr Peter Groenewegen, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Sydney University, published in the ‘Financial Review’ on 16th March. The article reads:
Where the beneficiaries of such a small estate are a widow with or without dependent children (although the hardships in the latter case are multiplied) the delays resulting from the existence of death duties can cause considerable hardship since the family assets - such as savings bank deposits - can generally not be touched while the only source of income has suddenly been removed.
Frequently, especially in the case of the lower income groups with small estates, no provision has or can be made for this eventuality.
This considerably increases the effective burden of death duties at the lower end of the scale. This consideration reinforces the conclusion that death duties are no longer an equitable tax. They, therefore, no longer justify their existence by fulfilling their original objective satisfactorily.
A deep concern for these iniquities of the Commonwealth estate duties prompted the DLP to move for its abolition on 3 occasions during the last Parliament. In 1970, my colleague Senator Condon Byrne moved an amendment designed to eliminate Federal and State duties. The ALP senators voted in a bloc against that proposition. In May 1971, 1 moved an amendment to the Loan (Farmers Debt Adjustment) Bill by which the Federal Government would retire from the field of estate duty. On 2 occasions we were unable to win the support of a majority of senators. However, we brought the matter forward again on 11th October 1972, on the Estate Duty Assessment Bill. On that occasion the majority of the Senate supported us.
Two developments in the past few years demonstrate how out of date Commonwealth estate duties are. Firstly, there is a growing movement for decentralisation of Australian population for the development of the full and productive life for the people outside congested capital cities. Secondly, there is a growing awareness in the cities of the particular disabilities under which farmers labour. The recent rural depression, the fickleness of commodity prices, as demonstrated by the recent drop in wool prices, and the ever present danger of drought have all contributed to a much better understanding by the people in the cities of the special problems of the rural producers.
Let us take the question of decentralisation first. During the last general election campaign there was a surprising and perhaps historic agreement among all parties represented in this Parliament that decentralisation had become a pressing national issue. The present Government has given lip service to the proposition that Australians must have the opportunity to enjoy life outside the capital cities of the nation. The Prime Minister has even journeyed to Albury-Wodonga to test the waters of Commonwealth-State co-operation for an inland city. The previous Government made strenuous efforts after the last Budget to make decentralisation a top national priority. Its achievements were limited to a few Press releases by the then Prime Minister.
– Why do you now support it?
– The honourable senator will have ample opportunity later to take the second reading speech apart if he wants to do so. I draw the Senate’s attention to these facts because the DLP beieves that the first step in attracting Australians outside the congested coastal cities is to preserve and expand existing rural based communities and to ensure that the economic conditions exist which will encourage present day country people to stay in these rural areas. However, climate and commodity prices have worked against them. Drought and poor prices resulted in one of the most severe rural depressions in this nation’s history just 2 years ago. Rural communities are still struggling to rehabilitate themselves from that disaster. It is very foolish indeed to impose what amounts to a capital gains tax on rural producers during a period when the Government has promised money on the one hand for rural reconstruction and on the other hand for rural regeneration.
This proposition becomes quite clear when the discriminatory nature of estate duty is looked at. For the primary producer these are the facts: Firstly, primary producers pay more than twice as much death duty on their estates as does the average taxpayer. Secondly, in the past decade primary producers have paid from 32 to 39 per cent of all estate duties collected by the Commonwealth, yet primary producers account for only 7 per cent of all taxpayers. It should be pointed out quite quickly that the reason for these figures is not to be found by saying that farmers are unbelievably wealthy and must be taxed accordingly. The distress and dispossession of country people in the past 4 years are proof enough that they are not some sort of chosen race. The estimates for 1972-73 show that only 0.79 per cent of total Commonwealth revenue, or (67m, will be raised by Commonwealth estate duties. Surely the gain by the Commonwealth is so small that the abolition of this tax will hurt nobody, while it would help thousands of Australians.
Any member of Parliament who directly represents country people, as all senators do, will realise the agony which so many country people go through as a result of rural depression. The 1971 census was able to show a dramatic flight of people from the country, a scene which brought to mind the depression of the 1930s. The contention of the DLP and the purpose of this Bill is to abolish the oppressive taxation which forced many of these people off their land. The precarious economic situation facing farmers would surely justify the abolition of estate duties. We have seen already a mass exodus from the land by people who lack nothing in courage, tenacity or love of the land. They were simply beaten by forces outside their control. They were beaten by drought, by falling prices and ‘ by callous indifference to their sufferings. The Senate has no control over the weather or the latest wool prices, but it can make a start in showing its determination that one section of the community is not forced to carry an unfair and unnecessary burden of taxes. This is especially so when that section of the community is just emerging from its most severe economic disasters since the depression.
The Senate is in a position to give full expression to all those promises made during the general election campaign about spending capital in country areas to make them attractive for Australians to live in. By all means let us spend money to make Australian primary industry as productive and efficient as possible. But before we promise to pour in the money, let us stop draining out the money. The Commonwealth estate duties are a device which takes from rural producers much of the vital capital which is needed for farm reconstruction and efficient economic performance. The burden of estate duties falls on the smaller property owner - the family farmer - who is in the greatest need of his small savings built up by sheer hard work over a generation. It is a prejudiced tax which seizes this man’s assets under the guise of taxing the ultra-wealthy and of breaking up the ultra-large holdings. For too long Commonwealth estate duties have masqueraded as a tax on the rich and a device to break up vast squatter runs as a means of ensuring a fairer distribution of the nation’s wealth. In fact, this tax has turned into an attack on the rural community and especially on the small family farmer who is the backbone of country life.
This Bill is designed to destroy once and for all this iniquitous contrivance of government at the expense of the rural community. The regeneration of rural Australia will begin when the Commonwealth decides to vacate the field of death duties and thereby set an example for all governments in Australia to follow. In conclusion, let me remind the Senate that in October 1972 the DLP called for the Commonwealth Government to retire from the field of estate duties, and that call was supported by the majority of honourable senators. It is our view and hope that the same situation will apply on this occasion in relation to this Bill. We are also hopeful that the Bill, having passed through the Senate and being sent to the House of Representatives, will be supported by Government members there and will end once and for all this iniquitous tax.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gietzelt) adjourned.
– I move:
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon - whether there is justification for immediately employing the M. V. Straitsman to operate shipping services between King Island, Stanley, and Melbourne, having regard to:
by private interests with or without subsidy;
The motion suggests that a Senate select committee consisting of 5 Tasmanian senators be appointed. Its function would be to gather together the responsible information in regard to whether there is justification for not employing the ‘Straitsman’ in the carrying on of the shipping services between Melbourne. King Island and Stanley. All I think I need say is that over the 3 years preceding May of last year the Government of Tasmania and the Federal Government studied the question of terminals for the King Island service. The proposal was that terminals for a roll-on rolloff ship be constructed. Therefore, one was constructed at Melbourne at a cost of $200,000. One was constructed at Grassy at the remarkably cheap cost of $2m. The Marine Board at Stanley constructed its terminal at a cost of $500,000. Those 3 terminals have been idle since June of last year.
For the purpose of this reorganised shipping service to King Island the gentleman who had pioneered the service and who had operated it for 15 years, Captain Robert Houff, through his own company, engaged an Australian shipbuilder in Cairns to build a ship the design of which, according to the designer, was superior to other ships of its type. It was finished by May of last year at a cost of $1.2m. Today it would probably cost $2m to construct. Certainly in 3 years time it would cost $2. 5m. It was put on the run at a time when, due to a variety of circumstances, custom was low. The first 6 weeks, T think it was, that it was on the run produced a phenomenal loss of $90,000. The figure was public knowledge at that very early stage. The bank refused to give further credit. Since 4th June this ship, which is worth $1.5m. has been tied up in Melbourne. Maintenance and custody costs are about S800 a week, and port dues are about S600 a week. There is a tremendous need for a shipping service to King Island. Notwithstanding that need, the ship and the terminals have lain idle now for 10 months. I do not need to go into the political aspects of the matter.
– Who was the Government?
– We were the Government for part of the time.
– The biggest part of the time.
– For 6 months. The Labor Party made an unconditional election promise, if the honourable senator wants to play politics. On 10th October Mr Ron Davies sent a telegram saying that he was authorised by the Australian Labor Party to say that if it were elected it would require the Australian National Line to take over the vessel and to start immediately shipping operations to King Island which would carry a separate subsidy account. The Labor Party has repudiated that promise. I had not intended to raise that matter except for Senator Cavanagh’s interjection. I want to get the committee set up tonight so that 5 Tasmanian senators can gather all the information and present it to the Senate for its collective judgment.
Negotiations have been going on to get this ship employed. An alternative proposal is the purchase of a foreign ship with funds made available from a loan by the Federal Government. Some people think that that is an entirely impractical proposal. We want to get the information so that if the shipping service is not started the Senate will be able to form a judgment as to why it is not started. If a short charter of 3 months is arranged, which is the proposal, the Senate will be equipped with information and be able to form a judgment on the best form of shipping service to give to this island community which has been without a service since June of last year, except for services of a spasmodic character. I have purposely compressed my remarks in the hope that tonight the Senate will set up the committee, which will work towards getting a report before the Senate in the next 2 or 3 weeks.
– The Government will oppose the establishment of the Senate select committee referred to in the motion. At a time when there is a possibility of a solution to the plight of the people on King Island an attempt is made to delay any such achievement for the period that will be necessary for the committee to make inquiries. I agree that there are difficult times at present. 1 have not heard in my life such humbug as the statement that it is necessary for a committee to make inquiries. I would assume, from my knowledge of committees of inquiry, that the shortest inquiry would take anything up to 6 months. J can give Senator Wright an assurance that at present there is a possibility of a solution to the King Island problem.
– That has been so for a long time.
– I know, but it is not the Government’s fault. The Commonwealth is prepared to subsidise a service to King Island. It was prepared to carry out its election promise, but there was a request by the Tasmanian Government to operate the service. Shortly after I answered Senator Rae’s original question the Tasmanian Government hosted a conference of State Ministers, the Commonwealth Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) and departmental experts. Everybody agreed that the ‘Straitsman’ was not a suitable vessel for the service.
– That is one of the matters which has to be established.
– Yes, but you want it established by politicians. You want to ignore the advice of the departmental experts.
– You said that everybody agreed that the ‘Straitsman’ was not a suitable vessel for the service. Who is ‘everybody’?
– 1 thought I had qualified that statement previously by saying that there was a conference of State Ministers and the Commonwealth Minister for Transport. The Premier of Tasmania, Mr Reece, and the State Minister for Transport, Mr Neil Batt-
– They are politicians. I thought you did not want the matter established by a conference of politicians.
– If the honourable senator would let me finish he might understand the position. That conference was attended by shipping experts from various departments. They were of the opinion that the ‘Straitsman’, which had run for 7 weeks at a loss of $92,000, was not a suitable vessel for the shipping service to King Island. The service was a costly one which could not be maintained or supported.
– Perhaps during the suspension of the sitting you could check that statement.
– In 7 weeks operation the ‘Straitsman’ had lost $92,000. It was taken off the service. At that time an appeal was made to the Federal Government to make available a loan so that the ‘Straitsman* could continue to operate the service. The Government did nothing about the matter. It was not prepared, at any cost, to help the people of King Island get their shipping service. If there has been any neglect it has been by the previous Government. The Labor Party, when elected to office, agreed to do something. It recognised that the plight of King Island required that urgent action be taken. It has held regular conferences, It has sought an investigation by the Australian National Line for the purpose of trying to achieve something. It has agreed to subsidise any service to King Island. The previous Government refused to give any subsidy. The Tasmanian Government is continually conferring with the Federal Government. The Tasmanian Government has suggested that consideration be given to the advisability of it purchasing an overseas ship of suitable tonnage for this service. The service would be subsidised by the Federal Government. Within two or three years the ship could be sold and an Australian built ship could then operate the service.
The decision to build the ‘Straitsman’ in Queensland, at the yards of Evans Deakin Industries Ltd, which would attract no subsidy, was a commercial decision by the firm concerned.
– Those ships are built in northern Queensland.
– Yes, that is right, In Cairns. The decision by the company meant that no subsidy would be payable. It is now discovered that the ‘Straitsman’ is not suitable for this service-
– It was built on the best nautical advice available.
– It may be the best ship; I do not know the value of the ship. But it is unsuitable for the service to and from King Island. It is a ship which has a capacity of, I believe, some 780 tons, and that tonnage of cargo is not available to or from King Island. It has been found that in the lower hold some alterations and renovations are necessary for roll-on roll-off operations. This work will cost many thousands of dollars. A ship of the capacity of the ‘Straitsman’ cannot be run if cargo is not available to fill it. Those who have inquired into this matter believe that a ship with a capacity of 300 tons or 400 tons would be sufficient for this service.
– Oh, what rot!
– All right. I point to the fact that the company which ran the service could not make it pay because insufficient tonnages of cargo were available. What do honourable senators opposite wish to do now? As I have said, the Tasmanian Premier and the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) are conferring on the question. They are hopeful of. an early solution to the problem. Both parties are anxious to have a ship service the run in question. It is the desire of the Tasmanian Premier that it should be a Tasmanian service. The Commonwealth has agreed to subsidise the service and, I think, would go much further in providing assistance if necessary. It is a question of finding a suitable ship. The State Government will not commit itself to a ship whose operations would be uneconomic if it is possible to obtain a ship suitable for the service -
– That is why we say that responsible evidence should be obtained.
– I ask the Minister this question: Who are the experts who said that the Straitsman’ was an unsuitable ship? Can you tell me? I would really like to know the answer to that question.
– The decision that it was an unsuitable ship was made by both departments.
– I mean experts in that field?
– This decision is supported by many more people. On 29th March 1973 Mr Jones issued a statement that the ship was unsuitable. Possibly the greatest authority in Australia on what is suitable for this service - I refer to the Australian National Line - reported that the ‘Straitsman’ was unsuitable.
– In what way, according to the ANL, was it unsuitable?
– It is unsuitable in that its capacity is much larger than the amount of cargo offering. It is too slow for the journey involved. A smaller faster vessel would make the round trip daily. I am now informed that the ‘Straitsman’ has a tonnage of 1,036. It is suggested that the cargo available on that service is between 400 tons and 500 tons.
– There you are! Your first figure was wholly haywire.
– Well, I have corrected it. The ‘King Islander’ has a capacity of 220 tons. The whole history of this service shows that the available cargo does not make it a suitable service to be operated by the Straitsman’. There is some desire on the part of honourable senators opposite for the Straitsman’ to be engaged on this service, although its use may not be of benefit to those whom it would serve. What the basis of the desire of these politicians to have this ship used on that run is, I do not know. Whether it is that there is a Liberal preselection taking place in Tasmania, I do not know-
– Now, cut that out. Get out of the gutter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator ‘Lawrie) - Order!
– A promise was made before the last Federal election. That is where the policy lies. Now, the Government hu backed down.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -
– Since the Federal election we have done everything possible to provide the service. We promise that we will provide the service. When the Federal Government does provide the service it will provide a service which is capable of continuing operations on the run to and from King Island. We see here evidence of the neglect by the former Government. The service which was operated by this ship when the former Government was in office was discontinued. The operators of that service sought and appealed for a subsidy from the previous Government to permit them to continue that service. The previous Government was uninterested in that appeal. Now, in Opposition, supporters of the former Government want reinstated to that service the ship which they now say is suitable to provide the service but which they did nothing to assist when it did provide that service to the people of King Island. The present Government has done everything possible to restore this service to King Island. Now some politicians come along with the great idea of adjourning the consideration of this problem, which is on the eve of solution, so that an inquiry may be held. The purpose of that inquiry is to restore to the King Island service a ship which has proved unsuitable for that run. They want that ship back on that run.
If an inquiry were held, the Commonwealth Department could, and possibly would, await the decision of that inquiry. I do not think the Senate would wish the Commonwealth Department to act on a matter in respect of which one of the Houses of this Parliament had initiated an inquiry. Therefore, the holding of an inquiry would be a delaying tactic which would deprive the people of King Island of this transport that they need. Although this may not be an attempt to do that, the motives behind this move will have that effect. In the interests of the shipping service to King Island and bearing in mind the desire for a suitable shipping service to King Island, I express the hope that the motion will not be carried.
Let me say one further thing. It is not proposed that this inquiry should be conducted by people with a knowledge of navigation or shipping. It is to be an inquiry by a select few with a particular interest in that shipping service. The purpose of the inquiry is to return to the King Island service a ship which has proved unsuitable. The inquiry will disregard the difficulties of reintroducing that ship and the costs involved to the Commonwealth in re-establishing the service with it. If we want an inquiry into the shipping service to King Island, surely we should appoint to a committee of inquiry people with the best possible knowledge of shipping and accountancy, bearing in mind the economic aspect of this matter. What honourable senators opposite want is a stacked committee of senators. This Senate, because of the number of members in each Party, and the Opposition having the continuous and loyal support of the Democratic Labor Party, will be asked to establish committees for no other purpose than to try to embarrass the Government, a government which is doing everything it can for the people concerned.
That is the purpose behind the proposal to set up this committee. That is the purpose of trying time and again to establish such a committee. Surely if there was any desire for an inquiry we should establish a committee of experts. It could well be an interdepartmental committee or a State-Commonwealth committee but such a committee has been established. There are regular consultations with the State committee of inquiry. The only thing that has held up the provision shipping to King Island today is finding a suitable vessel. All available information points to the fact that the ‘Straitsman’ is not a suitable vessel. The Opposition is seeking an inquiry relating to a ship in regard to which there is ample evidence to show that it is not suitable for the trade.
I would suggest one purpose for this proposed inquiry. It would have the effect of delaying the benefits that the people of King Island deserve. Opposition senators decried it when I suggested that a pre-selection campaign was going on in Tasmania. I am sorry if that hurts them but I heard of a Mr Bessell, who is said to be the king of North West Cape, who is giving serious opposition to 2 of the current members of the Senate. I believe that Mr Bessell was a Minister in the State Government. I hope he achieves election to this place. Let us get some representative from Tasmania who will not seek to take political advantage of something involving the deprivation of one section of the Tasmanian population.
– We have just heard the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh), a Minister whom we all remember presented a statement in this Senate about what the Government’s action would be. He made the positive statement that the Government had instructed the Australian National Line to negotiate the purchase of the ‘Straitsman’ and to operate it and to keep special accounts under the provisions of the relevant Act. Now he has told us that we are the people who are being, shall I say, less than outgoing in our attitudes. He suggested that there are all sorts of conspiracies behind the action we propose when what we want to know is why the responsible Minister will not produce the reports. We have asked him repeatedly and he has not produced them. What is he trying to hide? What is the Tasmanian Government trying to hide and so will not produce the reports? Why are conflicting statements made time and again? Why does this Minister make conflicting statements time and again? Why is it that there is so much concern on the part of the people of King Island to get some action, and there is so little action from this Government and the State Labor Government in Tasmania? Four months have passed and there has been no action by this Government to clarify the matter one way or the other. During the preceding time the Minister had the hide to say in this chamber that the previous Federal Government refused to help. That is a demonstrable lie. What happened, as is well known and is documented, is that the then Commonwealth Government said that if the State Government put a proposition to it the matter would be given consideration. That was said repeatedly, even in answers to questions asked by me. I have correspondence and later I shall table it. These are the replies which we were given by the former Government. It pointed out that this was a matter which had to be initiated by the State. It was the State Government which was dragging its feet, not the then Commonwealth Government. The State Government appears to have continued to drag its feet, ably assisted by the new Labor Government of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Mr President, the history of the cause of this matter-
– Mr President, on a point of order, I would like to say something quite briefly. As I understand the motion moved this morning, the notice of motion standing in my name should be called on at 8 o’clock. Senator Rae was speaking when the sittings were suspended at 6 o’clock and I understand that he wants to continue his remarks. Therefore, I think that I would have to ask for leave to postpone the notice of motion standing in my name until 8.15, or something like that; otherwise Senator Rae cannot continue his remarks.
– The Government does not mind Senator Rae concluding his remarks, but senators on the Government side want to speak on the same matter. If Senator Rae is allowed to continue his remarks, we would insist that Government senators who wish to speak on the same matter should be allowed so to do.
– One a side.
– A number of Government senators, including Senator O’Byrne and Senator Devitt, want to speak on this matter. Frankly, the Government agreed to extend the sittings from 5.45 to 6 p.m. tonight so that Senator Rae could be heard. At about a half a minute to six, if my recollection is correct, Senator Rae sat down and Senator O’Byrne was about to commence to speak. Then Senator Rae claimed that he had not completed his remarks. In addition to Senator O’Byrne a number of other Government senators want to speak on the matter. The Government already has extended the time for discussion of this matter by a quarter of an hour. Frankly, we believe that the motion to be moved by the Leader of the Opposition should be brought on at this stage.
– In that case, I think that the business of the evening ought to be called on.
– I move:
Thai, in the opinion of the Senate, a board of inquiry consisting of 3 High Court or Supreme Court Justices should be established by the Government to inquire into and report upon - (a) whether terrorist organisations exist in Australia and, if so, their size, objectives and methods, and whether any of them have a connection with a foreign power or its Australian Embassy or consulate;
whether co-operation between ASIO, Commonwealth and State Police is sufficient to ensure effective police investigation of terrorist activity;
whether any amendments are desirable to strengthen the law relating to terrorist activity and politically motivated acts of violence; and
whether the actions of the Attorney-General in entering the Canberra and Melbourne offices of ASIO accompanied by Commonwealth Police officers was -
justified in the public interest.
I may say at the outset that we in the Opposition desire to have this matter determined tonight before we break for the Easter recess. If the matter is not determined by the normal method of my replying to the debate by 10.30 tonight, I would seek to negative the motion for the adjournment of the Senate until it is determined.
– You are not prepared to allow a full debate.
– 1 am determined not to suffer a filibuster. In moving the motion that I have and seeking the expression of the opinion of the Senate that there should be a judicial inquiry to look at the matters outlined in my motion, I do so for the purpose of ascertaining what is the truth in the matters that have been brought before this Parliament over the past 3 weeks. There have been allegations and there have been counterallegations. We in the Opposition believe that the best way of discovering the truth is to have the judicial inquiry that I have proposed on behalf of the Opposition.
Not only does the Opposition believe that this is the best type of inquiry to have on such a matter, but it would also appear to the Australian public to be impartial. We believe that this is in the best interests of all who are involved. We want to find out just what terrorist organisations do exist in Australia, <f there are any, and the extent of their activities and objectives. We want to know if it is possible to improve the detection methods, and if so, what steps need to be taken. We want to know whether Senator Murphy was justified in taking the action that he did in invading the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and other members of the Government have accused the previous Government of indifference, neglect and deceit in relation to the activities of alleged Croatian terrorists. The former Attorney-General has been specifically accused of indifference. We reject such inferences and such allegations.
I would remind honourable senators that last September the present Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, moved that the matter of terrorist activities in this country be referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Senator Murphy also added to his motion:
That the Committee not proceed with the inquiry if the Government appoints a royal commission to inquire into these matters.
The Government at that time opposed Senator Murphy’s motion for an inquiry because of the circumstances then existing. However, the Prime Minister at that time, in answer to a question asked of him on 19th September 1972 concerning terrorist activity stated:
I can express to the House the opinion that I certainly am not opposed to a royal commission to consider these 2 types of offences.
The offences alluded to were political violence and terrorism. It was, I might add, as a result of that answer that Senator Murphy added ‘o his motion that portion which dealt with the Senate Committee not pursuing its inquiry if a royal commission was established. In the remaining weeks of Parliament before the election, no final decision was made on this matter, as far as I am aware. Now we have the spectacle of the Party which asked for such a royal commission saying that it is not necessary and even having the audacity to suggest that the reason for not having it is to protect us. The circumstances of the past few weeks, and the allegations made, have made it even more imperative that a judicial inquiry be held now before the basic issues are camouflaged in irrelevance and further charges and counter charges.
The Prime Minister has said that his Party and Ministers have nothing to fear from such an inquiry. He has stated that it is the members of the present Opposition who should be concerned at the thought of such an inquiry. He says the material is there to back his statement; material, I may add, that no-one else, and certainly not those who are accused, are able to see and verify. Not only is the credibility of Senator Murphy at stake now, but one must begin to doubt the political judgment of the Prime Minister for giving such wholehearted and blind support to the Attorney-General who, the Senate found, misled the Senate in the statement he put before it; and who treated the Parliament with contempt by not divulging information to the Parliament when he had the opportunity to do so.
Indeed last Friday, after the Senate had risen, Senator Murphy appeared on a television program and provided information which was deemed to be of the highest security, which was deemed to affect future intelligence operations, information which he had decided not to provide to this Parliament. I believe that Senator Murphy’s action on that night alone has vindicated the resolution of the Senate last Thursday. Politics has now obscured the issue. People looking in from the outside are confused. We think that the electorate is entitled to know what the truth is. Unfortunately, the proponents of open government, the Government that tells all, the Government which has no secrets, the Government which is not ashamed of its actions, has refused to take action when the opportunity was provided for it to do so in the House of Representatives last Tuesday. Instead we saw an exercise in mutual admiration of themselves.
The Prime Minister said that he was sorely tempted to establish an inquiry, but that he would not do so because he wished to protect the reputations of the Opposition. That surely is laughable. One cannot help but become a little tired of the ironic expressions and the pretentions of the Prime Minister. What we need now is some straight talking and positive action from the Prime Minister and his Government on this matter. Both have been sadly lacking. The Opposition wants the inquiry and the Prime Minister has said such an inquiry would suit him fine. So let us get on with it and cease the double talk.
The purpose of this motion is to allow the Government the opportunity to reconsider its decision of last Tuesday. If it is passed it is an expression of opinion by the Senate and we ask that the opinion of the Senate be taken note of and given careful consideration. I remind the Prime Minister that the Federal Parliament consists of 2 Houses of Parliament and that the first paragraph of the Constitution dealing with Parliament states:
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate and a House of Representatives.
As a part of the legislature and to carry out functions as the representatives of the people of the States who have sent us here, we have a right to question the Government. We are not seeking to take any powers away from the House of Representatives. We are not querying the authority of the majority Party in the House of Representatives to form the Government. But we in the Senate are elected on the same franchise as are the members of the House of Representatives and are voted for by many more people than vote for any individual member in the House of Representatives. We in the Senate are part of the Parliament of this country and as such we have responsibilities which should not be abdicated.
The Parliament is not here to act as a cheer squad for the Government. It is here to supervise it and to hold the Government accountable to it and through it to the electors for its actions. An attack on the Senate by the Executive is an attack on the Parliament of this nation. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) accused the Opposition in the House of Representatives of trying to elevate the Senate into a monster. I would remind the Treasurer that the significance, importance and standing in the community of the Senate is such that no remarks of his can do it damage.
Far too many questions have been left unanswered and we believe that the Australian people have the right to know what is the correct position. Here is the opportunity once again for the Government to take action, to give a lead and to restore the confidence, not only of the people of Australia in the Government as a whole, but also to allow the opportunity to see where the truth resides in the allegations that have been made and to see if the actions of the AttorneyGeneral were warranted in the light of other alternatives that are available to him as a Minister. Members of the judiciary would be best suited to this task - a proposition that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, must surely agree with, considering his actions of last year. I commend the motion to the Senate.
– We have heard the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) speak in support of this motion which is an exercise in futility. This proposition has already been put in the other place. Now in this chamber we are going through the technical exercise of putting up the same proposition. It is not going to lead to any useful result and it is done in circumstances which are unfortunate. I regret that because of the industrial dispute which is threatening the 3 independent senators are not here to voice their opinions, lt would be valuable if their opinions were sought. It is unfortunate that the various public duties which we have have been and are to be seriously impeded, as the Leader of the Opposition would know, by this motion being brought on at this time.
Let me turn to the question of principle upon which Senator Withers proceeded. None of us would disagree with some of those matters. The honourable senator said that the responsibilities of the Senate ought not to be abdicated. He said that the Senate asked for this inquiry to see whether the actions of the Attorney-General were warranted. What did honourable senators opposite do last Thursday night except abdicate the responsibilities which they had? Tonight honourable senators come here and say: ‘Let us have a judicial inquiry to find out whether the actions of the Attorney-General were warranted’. Senator Wright, along with others, voted without having such an inquiry which honourable senators opposite say is necessary. They have voted and determined. They have abdicated their responsibility as members of the Senate. As I told the Senate last Thursday night everyone knows that whatever damage might be done by the use of numbers to the Government and to myself, honourable senators opposite were doing great damage to this institution. What was done on Thursday night was an abdication of responsibility.
– We want a decision of the judges.
– The judges who made up their minds on Thursday night now say that they want an inquiry. They say: ‘We want this matter ascertained. We want to see by a judicial inquiry whether the actions of the Attorney-General were warranted.” But last Thursday night honourable senators decided without the inquiry and without the facts. They made up their minds and having made up their minds they now turn round and say: ‘Let us have an inquiry.’ They do not even have the decency to come here with a motion to rescind what they did and then say: ‘Have an inquiry.’ Let us look at what has been put by the Opposition. In the words of the motion the Opposition wants: a board of inquiry consisting of 3 High Court or Supreme Court justices should be established by the Government to inquire into and report upon -
I would have thought that the material which has been put before the Senate would have established to the satisfaction of most persons who approach the matter in any reasonable way that terrorist organisations exist. The determination of the Government is that those organisations do exist. The motion continues: if so, their size, objectives and methods . . .
This is a matter for the Government to deal with. It continues: . . whether any of them have a connection with a foreign power or its Australian embassy or consulate.
Those are matters for action by the Government and for its various bodies to determine. Paragraph (b) of the motion refers to the question of whether co-operation between ASIO and the Commonwealth and State police is sufficient to ensure effective police investigation of terrorist activity. I am pleased to learn that at least it has crept into the minds even of those on whose behalf this motion has been moved that there is terrorist activity in Australia. At long last they recognise that what was stated in the Department of External Affairs report of 1969 to the effect that there were terrorist or extremist elements in Australia who were responsible for the various attacks upon Yugoslav Government representatives and their property was true; that there were a number of terrorist organisations in Australia; and that terrorist activity was being conducted in this country. I am pleased to see that that much has reached into the consciousness or subconsciousness of those who drafted this motion.
Paragraph (c) refers to the question of whether any amendments are desirable to strengthen the law relating to terrorist activity and politically motivated acts of violence. Of course it is clear that the law needs reform. As I have pointed out to the Senate and as it has been pointed out elsewhere, the . federal law is extremely deficient and steps should bo taken - and promptly - to amend the law.
National matters which are concerned with affairs overseas and which, by their very nature, ought to be dealt with under the laws of the national Parliament are for the moment approachable only under State laws not properly directed to dealing with the problem. There ought to be changes to the law. The Government will introduce for the consideration of this Parliament changes to enable the national law enforcement authorities to move appropriately in these areas to deal with terrorist activity and politically motivated acts of violence.
Surely it is a matter for the government of the day to determine what laws should be proposed to the Parliament and for the Parliament to deal with them. It is absurd that in a situation where we are faced, as is conceded by the motion, with terrorist activity we should seem to think that in some way we need a judicial inquiry. That is a matter for legislative activity. The proposal contained in the motion is for some judicial inquiry into what a legislature should do about the matter.
I turn to paragraph (d), which is concerned with whether the actions of the AttorneyGeneral in entering the Canberra and Melbourne offices of ASIO accompanied by Commonwealth Police officers was lawful, necessary, and justified in the public interest. I do not know on how many occasions - it must have been at least a dozen - those who indulged in the lengthy questioning of me have been told exactly who accompanied me to the Canberra office of ASIO. No police officer accompanied me to the Canberra office. But the facts of the matter do not count for those who drafted the motion. It is simple enough for them to put down this nonsense without having any regard for the anticipated facts of the matter.
If my actions were not lawful why have the legal processes not been invoked? I do not know whether Senator Greenwood was properly reported to the effect that he said that he wanted to prosecute or take some other form of action in the High Court of Australia. If, as Attorney-General, I did something unlawful why have proceedings not been taken? It is not necessary to have a judicial inquiry into the matter. Action can be taken in the courts if that is thought desirable. If something unlawful was done by me as Attorney-General, why is it that those who have all the resources available to them to do so - including dozens of lawyers - and who have prated about illegal conduct have not instituted some proceedings?
A lot of nonsense has been talked by members of the Opposition about unlawful activity, but not one of them is prepared to institute proceedings in the courts, despite all their talk of unlawfulness. There are ample proceedings which could have been taken against me by honourable senators opposite if they had been prepared to back up what they have said about there being unlawful conduct; hut all they are prepared to do is come into this chamber and use their numbers, as they did the other night, talk about unlawful conduct and keep away from the place where it is appropriate to go to get the necessary orders or declarations in respect of unlawful conduct. It is all very well for members of the Opposition to sit on their side of the chamber and speak about what was necessary or justified in the public interest but it was not their function to see to it that persons were protected at a time when assessments were being made by law enforcement authorities that it was not safe for certain people to come here. It is very easy for honourable members opposite to sit in their places and use their numbers, but that is about all they can do because they have no persuasiveness, law or logic. They do not even have any decency. All they have on their side is numbers and they have used them.
– There are no facts substantiating their argument.
– No; nor has any attempt been made to answer the case which I put in this chamber and the documents which I produced. There has been no attempt whatever to answer the mass of material which was placed before the Senate to establish the truth of my statement that terrorist organisations were operating in this country.
– Are the numbers not used in the House of Representatives?
– The interjection by Senator McManus warrants a reply. He asked whether numbers were not used in the House of Representatives also. That is what he said and that is what it comes down to.
– The members of the House of Representatives are elected by the whole of the population of Australia.
– That is right. This motion has been proposed simply as a technical exercise. As I said about a previous motion, no amount of argument of persuasion will make the slightest difference to the vote on the proposition which has been put forward. Those honourable senators on whose behalf it has been propounded will vote for it. There is no point in trying to persuade them to do otherwise because there minds already have been made up, as they were made up last Thursday night. The Senate may pass this motion. I regret that all honourable senators are not present in the chamber. If they were there would be a better expression of the views of those who will be in the minority.
No matter what honourable senators opposite may do, 1 say this to them: The truth of the existence of terrorist organisations in Australia has been established and will be confirmed by the passage of time and, as more and more emerges not only here but also overseas, the public of Australia will come more and more around to supporting this Government for the actions that it has taken. Members of the public will learn and understand more and more that the previous administration failed to act as it should have acted and that, despite the pleas of some of the Ministers of the former Government, there was negligence in the approach to this problem. The Government of Australia is attempting successfully to carry out its public duties. It will introduce the necessary laws. It will take the necessary steps. It will do what it has to do to protect the people of Australia from terrorism and violence. Those honourable senators who wish to assert themselves, in more or less degree, in opposing the efforts of the Government and in denigrating the officers of the police forces who were attempting to carry out their duties may do so. But it is sad to see the law enforcement of this community being infected with this kind of party political bias.
I think that honourable senators opposite will live to regret their opposition to the resolute course of the Government in endeavouring to stamp out terrorism and violence. Whatever they may do to criticise me, I am satisfied that I have acted in the execution of my duty. I did what was necessary. I did what I considered was justified in the public interest, and I am certain that the results of my action have been to advance the public welfare. Whatever honourable senators opposite may do with their numbers, I say that I reject the motion before the Senate. I say that this motion is a further denigration of the Senate. Opposition senators by accepting this motion are undoing the work of recent years in building up the presitige and the public acceptance of this chamber. Honourable senators opposite are embraking on a course, the result of which will be to erode away the public respect for the Senate which has grown in recent times.
– For a long time now during the course of answering questions over many days and during a debate which lasted 2 whole days in this Senate we have heard Senator Murphy putting forward the reasons why he took the actions he did on the night of 15th-16th March. Tonight we have heard him again.
– That is your gimmick.
– He is all gimmick, as the honourable senators says.
– I said: ‘That is your gimmick’.
– I turned it around to: ‘He is all gimmick’. Like the public and the media of this country, I am still at a loss to understand what Senator Murphy is trying to get at.
– We are not very interested in your loss.
– I have a long way to go yet, Senator Wheeldon. Senator Murphy commenced and ended his speech by apologising for the absence of the 3 Independent senators.
– I did not; I said I wished they were here in order that there might be a better reflection of the view of the whole Senate.
– AllI can say to Senator Murphy is that it is their duty to be here as it is the duty of all other honourable senators to be here on such an occasion as this. We honourable senators from Western Australia probably have the furthest to come, yet if one looks around this chamber one sees most West Australian senators here tonight.
– But you cannot get back.
– Despite the fact that there could be industrial problems. So I see no reason why the Independent senators to whom Senator Murphy referred should not be here this evening. Then Senator Murphy referred to the motion that was passed by the Senate last Thursday night, which was to the effect that the Senate did not have confidence in the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) because of his handling of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation matter. It is because the Senate passed that motion last week that we have put before the Senate tonight a motion which has the effect of asking for further action to be taken, because we do not have the answers.
– He has answered every question you have asked him.
– I know he has answered every question but the Minister has given us the information he wanted to give us and nothing more.. He even told us that he went to the ASIO offices on the Thursday night because he was informed that there was some information in those offices which was detrimental to the safety of this country and he considered it was urgent that he have that information. The Minister was questioned time and time again on this particular point but he would not go very much further than informing the Senate of what I have just mentioned. Yet the very night the Senate passed the motion of want of confidence in the Attorney-General he went on television and informed the viewers of why he went to the ASIO offices - something which he would not tell this Parliament.
– He told the people.
– He told you; it was not classified.
– Look, I well remember when Government senators were sitting in Opposition and time and time again they moved censure motions against the Government for not making statements in the House of Representatives and in this place. The Minister asks why we do not institute proceedings in the courts if we have anything against his actions. My answer to that is that the Minister has been talking about terrorists; why does he not institute proceedings in the courts against them if he has some substantial information?
– Have you read the tabled documents?
– No, of course they do not want to read them.
– You have not taken the time to read them.
– No, in the books of honourable senators opposite we have not done anything.
– We have the responsibility for upholding the law, as you did last year; that is the difference.
– The assessments were made. What was the reaction of the then Opposition at the time of the Springboks’ visit to this country? Do honourable senators opposite not think that Senator Greenwood and the other Ministers responsible made an assessment at that time? But what was the reaction of the Opposition at that time? It criticised Senator Greenwood and the other Ministers such as Mr Hunt, who was Minister for the Interior at that time. The Opposition both in this chamber and in the other place day after day criticised the actions taken by the Government at that time to prevent tragedies from occurring wherever the Springboks played their matches. Senator Murphy goes on with this sort of drivel, as I call it–
– That is hardly fair; he is the law enforcer of the Commonwealth.
– So was Senator Greenwood, but how much confidence did honourable senators opposite have in him? They had none.
– I went to Senator Greenwood and suggested a plan in relation to Yugoslavs and he would not implement it because he is one-eyed.
– Order, Senator Mulvihill!
– I rise in my place tonight to support the motion moved by Senator Withers. There is no doubt in my mind that the people would welcome the establishment of a judicial inquiry. I am certain that the people would see such an inquiry as the only means of getting all the facts and the one way in which to get all the answers to the questions that have been raised here in the Parliament and in the media over the last couple of weeks. Whether an inquiry should be conducted should not be determined by one or other of the various political parties in this chamber because one party may have something to hide in the affair and another party might have something additional to disclose. I believe that this matter must be determined by the degree of need to gain from an unquestionable source the unabridged details. We in the Opposition parties believe that the need for this is great.
– No self-respecting judge would go on it anyway.
– The Parliament and the people are entitled to know, Senator O’Byrne, whether terrorist organisations exist in Australia. If they do exist every detail of their origin, size, composition and the methods used by and the objectives of these people should be known. We should know through co-operation between our security and law enforcement bodies, whether we have an organisation that is competent to carry out investigations into terrorist activities. The Attorney-General has given notice of the Government’s intention to make changes to ensure the closest liaison between the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Commonwealth Police Force and the Goverment in combating terrorism. An inquiry could and should determine whether liaison and co-operation have been inadequate and, if that is established, recommend to the Government corrective action which should be taken. We all want to know whether the laws dealing with terrorist activities and politically motivated acts of violence should be strengthened. Some honourable senators opposite say that they should; others say they should not.
– The Commonwealth Police have said that they should.
– We want to know whether they should be strengthened. Not least, I believe the air should be cleared about the Attorney-General’s visit to the Canberra and Melbourne offices of ASIO in company with Commonwealth police. That has never been cleared. Far from providing the answers, I believe the debates in Parliament have left the nation in a state of deep confusion over this extremely serious matter.
– ‘Where is your evidence?
– I will give it to you in a moment. Furthermore, accusations of varying degrees have been levelled at a number of people both inside and outside the Parliament, and it is their democratic right to have their involvement proved or disproved, and their guilt or innocence established. I believe that only a judicial inquiry will do this. Calls for a full investigation are widespread and growing. Several leading newspapers took up the call yesterday following the refusal of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to appoint a royal commission. Let me quote from 2 or 3 editorials. Firstly, the editorial which appeared yesterday in the Australian* reads:
A judicial inquiry should be set up to give the public the objective answers once and for all to the essential questions of the extent and danger of Croatian terrorist organisations in Australia; the justification or otherwise for Senator Murphy’s raids on ASIO; and the still unclarified doubt about public servants’ relations with Ministers.
The editorial in the Melbourne ‘Age’ has this to say:
Mr Whitlam yesterday took the bemused public no closer to the heart of the matter.
Finally, the editorial of today’s issue of the West Australian’ is in these terms:
The argument put forward by the Prime Minister that a judicial inquiry could be politically devastating for the previous Government is as unconvincing as it is uncharacteristic. Mr Whitlam has not shown any inclination in the past to forgo any opportunity to embarrass his political opponents, and it is odd that he should do so now.
I emphasise that regardless of its findings, an inquiry within the terms of the motion will benefit Australia. Our opinions as elected representatives of the people should not be formed on the basis of whether persons, groups, organisations, law enforcement agencies or indeed members of Parliament might be brought into criticism, or worse, by an inquiry. We should be concerned with the much greater issues, those affecting Australia and Australians. Whether we admit it or not, the facts are that violence and terrorism in this country are increasing to the extent that people are becoming genuinely alarmed.
– And your former Govenment is responsible for it.
– Well, this is why we are asking for an inquiry. Senator Murphy has had nearly 3 weeks in which to put his case and it has been unconvincing both to this Parliament and to the people at large. We believe that the only way out of this is through a judicial inquiry. My Party welcomes the opportunity given by this motion to initiate a thorough inquiry, and we give it our wholehearted support.
– Last week the Opposition moved a motion to the effect that in the opinion of the Senate the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) should be censured. Logic went out the door, sheer weight of numbers came in and the Opposition’s expression of opinion was carried by way of motion. Then the Australian Government which had been elected only 4 months ago to carry out the will of the people, had to take time off from the important affairs of business to express in the House where a motion of this sort really mattered, a motion of confidence in a man who has done a great service to the Australian community. Tonight the Opposition comes here again with the same phraseology:
That in the opinion of the Senate a board of inquiry consisting of 3 High Co:.rt or Supreme Court judges should be established. . . .
Doubtlessly, again, logic will go out the door and sheer weight of numbers will come in, and if this motion is put to the vote 1 assume it will be carried. I should not be surprised next week to see a motion phrased ‘that in the opinion of the Senate 3 members of the Opposition should be appointed to the judicial inquiry’. So this thing has gone on. The case ot the Opposition to date has been based on fancy and not on fact. If honourable senators opposite go out and speak to the men in the street they will learn at least one thing that Senator Murphy has convinced them of, that is, that beyond doubt terrorist organisations and terrorist individuals exist in this country.
In his remarks Senator Drake-Brockman said that Senator Murphy had been questioned time and time again. True, he was questioned time and time again. He has been questioned time and time again, day after day in this place for the last 3 weeks, and Opposition senators have used this Senate as though it were a court of criminal jurisdiction. They have put the accused in the dock; they have been the prosecutors; they have been the judges, and they have been the jury. Now they want to drag more blood out of a man who did something which he believed had to be done to protect the life of a visiting dignitary, to protect the life of the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), to protect the lives of Ministers of this country and indeed to protect the lives of decent Australian citizens.
The motion which is before the House tonight is nothing but a complete and utter waste of time. It is a waste of time for 2 reasons, firstly, because honourable senators are fully aware that the Leader of the Opposition who moved this motton, and his supporters, know that the Senate itself has no power to establish a court of inquiry. All they can do is express an opinion. As I have said, the motion commences with the words: ‘That, in the opinion of the Senate’. Additionally, they already know that, even in the motion expressing an opinion is carried, the Government will not act on it because the Prime Minister, as recently as last Tuesday, said in the House of Representatives that it was not Government policy to establish such a court of inquiry. Honourable senators opposite know this. If they have any doubt about what the effect of passing this motion will be, I ask them merely to exercise their common sense for about 30 seconds.
Secondly, this motion is a waste of time because it treads over ground that has been covered in the Senate, to use Senator DrakeBrockman’s expression, time and time again over the last 3 weeks. All we have heard this evening from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Senator DrakeBrockman) has been merely a recapitulation of what has gone on in the Senate over the last 3 weeks. But I think the best summary of what this motion really means was put by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) when he answered some questions earlier this week. He pointed out then that it is hardly the time for honourable senators opposite to be calling for an inquiry into the facts surrounding the whole Croatian terrorism affair, for which this motion is pleading, when only a week ago they voted solemnly and confidently as though they were in possession of irrefutable evidence. They voted to censure a Minister of the Australian Government who was elected unopposed by his fellow members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Honourable senators opposite have already judged this man on the evidence they have and now they want to drag more blood out of him. They were so sure when they voted last week. If they were so sure of their facts as to move and vote for a motion of censure of a senior Minister of the Crown last week, they stand condemned by this motion this evening.
The motion merely purports to seek the facts that they so confidently, by the expression of their opinion last week, thought they had. With this motion, honourable senators opposite, who collectively have the numbers in the Senate, seek to put the AttorneyGeneral into treble jeopardy. It reminds me of a saying of the Duke of Buckingham. He once said: ‘I have heard that 2 negatives make an affirmative. But I have never heard before that 2 nothings ever make anything.’ This motion is the second of the. nothings we have had from members of the Opposition in the last 2 weeks. They propose that a man, who considered it was his duty and who still considers it to be his duty to stamp out terrorism in this country, should undergo 3 weeks of intensive cross-examination in the Senate on his actions, then be censured by a motion of the Senate and then go through the same, process before a judicial court of inquiry which would, I assume, be asked to examine the same facts as have been investigated by the Opposition in the Senate and upon which it has already passed judgment. So the Opposition proposes to put the Attorney-General into treble jeopardy.
The motion states in paragraph (d) that the board of inquiry should examine whether the actions of the Attorney-General are lawful. How many trials must a man go through because he has taken the attitude that there are in the Australian community elements which rely on assault, extortion, violence and thuggery, which have secretive possession of dangerous and harmful weapons and explosives and which should be dealt with efficiently and quickly to protect the lives of Australian citizens, including many of those who have come to Australia from Croatia? How many times must the Attorney-General stand up and be counted when he has shown that he is not complacent about law and order - a phrase that we heard so often from the Opposition in the time that it was in government - and who is determined to seek information which he, as a senior Minister of the Crown, is entitled to receive and which, having regard to his important and responsible position, he has a duty to acquire and then act upon? How many times do we have to sit and watch the old autocracy of numbers being used in a desperate attempt to confuse one essential and vital issue? In spite of what has been said here before, and regardless of the reasons or the lack of reasons for ignoring it, terrorism has existed in this country for 10 years and will continue to exist unless action is taken to stamp it out.
The Attorney-General left Canberra this morning, I understand with Senator Greenwood, to attend a very important steering committee conference in connection with the proposed revision of the Australian Constitution. He has had official government duties to perform elsewhere. But, because this motion has been moved by the Opposition tonight, he has to forego those duties and return to Canberra from Sydney to face his accusers again-
– The committee was not sitting tonight.
– But he has other duties and responsibilities. He is leaving Australia on Saturday to go to Paris to put to the French Government the Australian Government’s point of view on the proposed nuclear tests in the Pacific. He left Canberra this morning, he is back in Canberra tonight and he will be on his way to Paris on Saturday. He has been brought back to Canberra by honourable senators opposite while they try to draw more blood out of him. I ask: How much more has a man to take? The duties that he has performed for the Australian Government and the Australian people today have not involved danger to the lives of Australians. To my knowledge, honourable senators have not criticised Senator Murphy for attending to his official duties in Sydney today. But, when it comes to a matter that was literally one of life or death, when it comes to a matter of the Attorney-General taking firm action to protect the lives and welfare of Australian citizens and action to protect sections of the Australian community from bombings, honourable senators opposite react as though we were as bad as the people who commit these atrocious acts. The irony of the situation is that this motion is not directed at those who have been active in terrorism. Certainly on the balance of probabilities, if not beyond reasonable doubt, Senator Murphy has convinced the majority of the Australian people that there are terrorists in this country. We have not heard from the Opposition one word of condemnation of the terrorist acts that have been carried out in this country. The actions of the Opposition, if they do anything, suit the cause of the people against whom Senator Murphy has wanted to take action, because they seek to cast doubts once again on the existence of such people. It is as though the 2,000 pages of documents tabled in the Senate by the Attorney-General had not existed. It is as though report after report from the Commonwealth Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had not existed. It is as though the concern of the former Minister for Immigration and the former Minister for Foreign Affairs had not been put seriously to paper. It is as though the catalogue of crimes which was produced in the other House by the Prime Minister last Tuesday had not occurred and had not been reported in newspaper headlines across the nation.
What does the motion ask the board of inquiry to do? Its first term of reference is to inquire whether terrorist organisations exist. It is a case of ‘back to the old hard line’. The Opposition says: ‘We do not know that they exist because when we had a quick look last year we could not be sure that 2 or 3 police forces and the occasional security force were right in their unanimous conclusions’. The Opposition’s attitude is: ‘We could not be sure that a man with 4 silencers in a toy koala bear really meant to do harm to someone.’ Whom does the Opposition think it is kidding, when the facts were placed before us and laid on the table in documents for all to see?
I suppose that like any other senator I have spent as much time puzzling over the motivations of some honourable senators opposite as the whole of Australia did.
So far as I am concerned, there are 3 puzzles. Firstly, I puzzle why honourable senators opposite, when they were in government, could not see or perhaps chose not to see what was obvious to the whole world around them, particularly to the whole Australian nation. Headlines about bombings against former Yugoslav citizens and about flag burnings ran on and on, but the obvious conclusion could not be admitted. I puzzle, too, about the reactions of honourable senators opposite to the vast pile of documents which were tabled before their eyes but which they have apparently fatted to see so far. When extracts were read by members of the Government honourable senators opposite closed their ears, as they have closed their minds now. lt puzzles me mostly to find that honourable senators opposite must take this matter up time and time again when it is as plain as a pikestaff to the Australian public that the greatest disservice done to any democracy is that done by men in authority who refuse to provide the strongest weapon which any democracy has to defend itself against attack, namely, the weapon of information.
It is as though the Opposition, when it became the Opposition, adopted the principles of open government. The Opposition did not mention those principles in the election campaign last year. Daily the Opposition espouses them now, but it hardly even acknowledged that they existed a mere 4 months ago. It is as though the former government had provided the information about which we are arguing this evening. In short, it is as though the worm had turned and found a voice, because it was not until a Labor government was elected and until Senator Murphy became the Attorney-General that 2,000 pages of documents were laid open to the Australian nation and to the Australian Parliament when he tabled them in the Senate 2i weeks ago. They were tabled for the nation to see and for each honourable senator to read. Yet it is the Attorney-General against whom the motion is directed.
I can think of only one explanation for the volume of complaints which have been registered in this chamber during the past 2i weeks, and that is the old principle of human behaviour that when a man feels doubtful or guilty about his behaviour in the past his condemnation will be the loudest condemnation of others who draw his doubt and guilt to his attention. To me, that is what the proposal for an inquiry is about, lt is not an inquiry that honourable senators opposite seek; it is an outlet for their own self doubt. In short, it is like the old McCarthyist witch hunt.
– The Democratic Labor Party will support the motion.
– You did not have to say that. We knew it.
– I am glad that Senator Poyser is such a good judge.. We are not impressed by the argument that these issues should be regarded as decided because the motion of no confidence in Senator Murphy was carried last Thursday. An examination of the 2 motions shows that the present motion covers much wider grounds than and includes other and different issues from the no confidence motion. For that reason, in our view, the present motion deserves support. I will not cover the. ground that has been covered in previous debates. I shall not be referring to questions about Senator Murphy and Senator Greenwood.
As justification for the attitude of my Party I mention that 1 have been approached by a representative group of Croatian citizens with 2 requests. They ask that they be given the opportunity to appear before some inquiry or tribunal to prove their innocence of the allegations made against them under privilege. Honourable senators will remember that on 2 occasions at question time I have asked Senator Murphy whether there is any tribunal to which those who have been charged under privilege or the organisations which have been charged under privilege can appeal to defend their innocence. Senator Murphy has said that in his view there is no tribunal to which they can go and that the matter is worth thinking about.I have waited some time to hear the results of that thought. No tribunal has been suggested. Now the opportunity is presented to us to have a tribunal of 3 judges to determine the truth in regard to this highly controversial issue.
It has been said that the Parliament has acted wrongly. It has been said that we have wrongly accused and have wrongly charged certain people and that the allegations have come from both sides. I have heard it said that the public mind is confused. What better way to clear the public mind and to prove whether there are terrorist organisations and, if so, what they are, and what better way to prove whether the people who have been charged are guilty or innocent, than to have an inquiry before 3 judges? I am surprised that members of the legal profession should show such opposition to a proposal to allow 3 judges, in accordance with ordinary rules of law, to determine what is a highly controversial issue.
The deputation that saw me made 2 requests. The first was that there should be a tribunal such as this before which they could appear to clear their names and the name of their organisation. The second request - I think that it is reasonable - was that there should be such a tribunal before which they could appear and, as allegations have been made against them, sponsored by the Yugoslav secret police in a number of instances, be given the opportunity to present evidence against the work in this country of the Yugoslav secret police. To me, that is eminently fair. They have been attacked by certain people. They desire to present evidence against the bona fides of those who have attacked them. If this matter were tried in a court of law, they would have that right. But, because the Attorney-General, having charged them, says that no tribunal is to be made available where they can prove their innocence or even defend themselves, I support this motion.
I support this motion which, if carried, will mean that 3 judges, in accordance with the rule of law, will say whether Senator Murphy is right. Senator Greenwood is right or anybody else in this place is right. They will get the facts and then the Australian people will know.
– You would not survive it.
– I am not afraid of such an inquiry. It is the honourable senator’s side which is afraid of the truth. I want the truth. I am prepared to let 3 judges determine the truth. But honourable senators on the Government side say: ‘We will not allow the judges to determine the truth’. All I say is that we have come to a pretty sorry state in this, country when the Prime Minister’s answer to a request that, on an issue such as this, 3 judges shall determine the truth, is a smart aleck answer to this effect: ‘I won’t have it, because I want to spare the Opposition’. We would expect something more responsible from the Prime Minister of this country.
Here is an issue which has been obscured in all the welter of charge and countercharge. That is the issue of civil rights. It is the issue that ought to be determined by an inquiry such as that proposed. I have noticed that newspapers such as the ‘Australian’, which are no friends of us or anybody on this side of the Senate and which, in the course of the last election campaign, by their support assisted in the election of the present Government, have said definitely that there ought to be a judicial inquiry to determine the truth. The leading article in yesterday’s ‘Australian’ was the most critical that I have ever seen of a political party, except for the ones that the Australian’ wrote against the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
This question of civil rights is important. The Council for Civil Liberties, which is in no way involved with the DLP and which nobody would accuse of operating on a political basis, as reported in this week’s edition of the ‘Bulletin’ gave an interview to one of that journal’s reporters in which the gravest concern was expressed about the procedures adopted in the case of the raids on a number of Australian citizens and residents. We are told.
Members of the Council for Civil Liberties pose these questions: What information did the Commonwealth Police act on in obtaining warrants if it was not as their Commissioner claims supplied by ASK or Senator Murphy?
The Council for Civil Liberties asked further:
Were there, in fact, enough warrants to go round? On what ‘reasonable suspicion’ did the police divine that goods such as bolts of cloth, typewriters, tape recorders and adding machines on the premises of citizens they raided were stolen property?
What evidence did they have that they were stolen property? The Council for Civil Liberlies also asked:
What redress have the innocent? What future protection?
The Council says that it is worried about the subsequent charges. Eighty raids were made. Something has been said about 68 of them. Nothing has been said about the other 12. Apparently they were lost. The Council for Civil Liberties states further that, of the 13 people charged, 3 were not charged on political questions at all. They were alleged to be in possession of stolen goods and one was charged with having obstructed police in the execution of their duty. The Council for Civil Liberties goes on to say that it is standard procedure with some policemen to insure against actions for wrongful arrest by picking up an odd radio as suspected stolen goods when making the arrest, and later the police ask the person concerned to sign a release on the basis that if he does they will not proceed against him. Those are the views of the Council for Civil Liberties. The article goes on to say:
A particular concern in the case of national groups such as the Croats is that refugees from police - state administrations with an incomplete grasp of the English language are unlikely to know or stand on their civil rights in Australia. ‘It is easy and tempting for the authorities to abuse their powers in situations of this kind,’ said one Council for Civil Liberties barrister, ‘and they should therefore as police correspondingly be particularly careful that the proper forms are observed.’
One of the proper forms is not to raid the home of a citizen without producing a warrant. Evidence has been offered by Senator
Hannan and others that in a number of cases the police walked into people’s homes and did not produce warrants.
As an example of the need for an inquiry in the interests of the civil rights of Australian citizens, I wish to read a sworn declaration. This is the statutory declaration sworn by Anna Kristo of Princess Street, Bexley, New South Wales. Her statutory declaration states:
That is a Croatian social organisation. The statutory declaration continues: We have both visited the Tomaslav Club at Cabramatta from time to time. We are both members of the Croatian Soccer Club.
I think honourable senators will find in one of the documents tabled by Senator Murphy that ASIO states that it has been informed that this man was killed in West Germany. The statutory declaration continues:
I had already heard from my sister in Sweden that the head of the body was missing. I told the police to let the body stay in Europe. My sister in Sweden subsequently made arrangements for burial.
A German court made an open finding on who was responsible for the death of my brother in the early hours of the morning of 9th March 1972 from gunshot wounds. My brother had been a lifelong opponent of Tito and I assume that my brother’s death was at the hands of his UDBa agents.
That is the secret police agents. Now I turn to the raid. She said:
– Was that at 3 a.m.?
– Yes. She continued: At about 8 a.m. 3 carloads of police arrived at our home at Bexley.
Honourable senators on the Government side are interjecting. They represent the Party which has always said that above all it stands for the civil rights of citizens. Listen to them now. This affidavit continues:
Speaking in English they said they wished to search for documents and to keep what they found. My husband, cousin and I were kept in the dining room of my home during the whole time they were there except for toilet visits and my getting dressed. When they arrived I was still in my pyjamas and was not able to get dressed for another half an hour.
I was accompanied to the toilet by a policeman who waited outside the door. My husband was also accompanied and the door was left open. They left at approximately 1 p.m. and took my husband and I, my cousin aged 22 years, and my 2 children–
Listen to this - my 2 children aged 8 and 4 to an office near Central Railway. They took with us nearly every book and paper in the house including telephone books, my husband’s business papers, taxation returns, his builder’s licence and 2 letters they found in the roof. One of these letters was from a member of my family warning that visitors coming to Sydney from Yugoslavia as members of the Croatian Matisa were probably members of UBDa. Tito’s secret police. In approximately October 1971 4 such men visited Sydney and asked questions about my brother.
I have been reading from a statutory declaration. I do not apologise for demanding that there be a tribunal before which people, treated in the manner in which the author of that statutory declaration claims to have been treated, can appear, say what happened to them and take action to ensure that the right authorities in this country will stop that sort of thing from happening again.
Reference has been made to the UDBa. Because of the statements made to me by the Croatian deputation, which I felt I should test and not necessarily accept, the reference section in the Parliamentary Library was asked by a member of Senator Gair’s staff, on behalf of our Party, to seek information about Mr Bijedic who visited Australia recently. We also asked for information about this entire question. The reply given to the Parliamentary Library by the Department of Foreign Affairs is amazing. Our Department of Foreign Affairs has an Embassy in Yugoslavia which sends regular reports home to Australia. The reply given to the Parliamentary Library is:
We have noted reports that there may be a secret police in Yugoslavia, but how it operates and under whose control it is, frankly we don’t know.’
Yugoslavia is a communist country and our Department of Foreign Affairs does not know whether it has secret police, and it does not know who controls them if it does have them. Our Department does not know anything. I hope that when the Department of Foreign Affairs supplies that reply the officer concerned sent for a basin of water and solemnly washed his hands. I think I should helpthe Department of Foreign Affairs because it has been unable to find out anything about secret police anywhere. The letters UNDBA are commonly used among Croatians and Yugoslavs to represent the secret police of that country. The literal translation of the words of which they are the initials is ‘security interior police’ or ‘secret police of the state’. The name UDBA was officially discarded in 1964 and the new name adopted was SDS but in colloquial terms today it is still referred to as the UDBA.
There are 3 Yugoslav intelligence services. One is the ordinary intelligence service consisting of 2 branches,” the co-ordination department in the foreign ministry, which operates under diplomatic cover, and department 2 of the general staff military intelligence. Then there is the security service which conducts counter-revolutionary activity and espionage. Finally, there is a military security service. The non-military intelligence services which operate in countries like Australia are, firstly, the co-ordination department of the foreign ministry which probably consists of 200 to 300 officers, and secondly, the SDS which engages in activities normal to an internal security service.
Referring now to the method under which it operates in Australia, the agents in Australia probably work for the 2 non-military intelligence services. How do they operate? They operate in 2 ways. Firstly, they may be attached to diplomatic services and operate from there, and secondly, they pose as ordinary immigrants and then operate among the migrant population. The activities of the Yugoslav secret police in this country are as follows: Firstly, the compilation of information about migrant people in Australia and the activities of nationalist organisations; secondly, obtaining photographs of leaders and prominent members of those organisations; thirdly, the infiltrating of nationalist organisations; fourthly, the creation of dissension within those organisations; fifthly, the harrassment of individuals; sixthly, circulating false or misleading information to the Australian police or security authorities; seventhly, discrediting religious leaders of national communities, and finally, acting as agents provocateurs in the migrant community and its organisations.
It is interesting to know something about UDBA, the Yugoslav secret police. Mr Bijedic came to Australia and was reported to us to be merely a parliamentarian or a politician. According to a cable report from Belgrade which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Herald’, part of Mr Bijedic’s duties after World War II as Deputy Minister of the Interior was to direct the secret police. I think it is understandable that the Croatian people were not exactly fans of Mr Bijedic.
– After all, he was fighting Hitler’s Germany.
– He did not deny that he had been in the secret police; he was proud of it. The next matter with which I want to deal-
– Mr Deputy President, I rise to a point of order. Senator McManus has a strong voice, but even with a strong voice he has had to speak loudly against the constant barrage of interjections which he has had to face from the moment that he stood up to speak. Mr Deputy President, I only ask that you use your authority in order to ensure that Senator McManus is able to be heard without constant interjections. It has reached the stage now where Senator McManus is facing a babble, and I think it is only proper in the interests of the Senate that people who interject should be brought to order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! I think that Senator Greenwood’s words are justified. In this place we try to keep order. The Chair has its responsibilities but equally senators have responsibilities to see that the Standing Orders are obeyed. I have called for order but I have not attained that degree of orderliness that I think is justified in this instance. Senator McManus is not being provocative. In the main he has been reading from factual documents. There is no justification for the continued and noisy interjections. A certain number of interjections have been permitted, as a practice, in the Senate, but there are limits and I am warning the Senate that I think the limits have been, to some degree, transgressed. I trust that we will have more orderly conduct from now on.
– I have based what I have had to say, firstly, on the necesssity to uphold civil rights in this country and, secondly, on the necessity to give people who have been charged under privilege and whom the Attorney-General has informed me have no redress, no way of proving their innocence, no tribunal to which they can go, an opportunity to appear before a tribunal. As I have said, there should be a tribunal to which they can go. I have given evidence in regard to the activities of the Yugoslav secret police in this country. I have declined to be associated with any evidence in this matter unless the persons concerned were prepared to make sworn declarations and to give their names and addresses. They are prepared to do so. This involves a fairly courageous act, particularly where people may have relatives still in Yugoslavia. But I have not been prepared to accept evidence unless the persons were prepared to give sworn declarations, and I think that is the right thing. I will not read all of the sworn declarations I have here, but I am prepared, if a motion is moved, to lay them on the table.
– I am going to oblige you; 1 intend to do that.
– I am very pleased. I will be happy if they are laid on the table and tested, as they should be. I will just indicate the general tenor of the documents and then I will be very happy, if Senator Mulvihill will move this way, to table them.
– Stop your grandstanding; table them now.
– I said that I am prepared to do something, Senator Mulvihill says that it is the right thing for me to do this, but Senator Poyser says that I am grandstanding. If I am grandstanding, Senator Mulvihill should say that he does not want the documents tabled. You cannot have it both ways. Either you are right or Senator Mulvihill is right. Will you please both go outside and decide what the story is going to be and then come back and tell us. Then we will all know.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator McManus will proceed to address the Chair.
– I am sorry. Mr Deputy President. The first affidavit is by Barbara Binicke of 504 Swanston Street, Carlton, in
Victoria. She states that she came to this country from Europe where her husband was a member of a political party named the Croatian Peasant Party which was opposed to the Ustasha, as Senator Mulvihill would know. After they came here her husband continued as a supporter of the Croatian Peasant Party and at all times they have been in favour of Croatian independence. She makes a sworn declaration about the attempt to enter her home by people whom she believes were members of the Yugoslav secret police.
The second sworn declaration is by Todor Ivanov of 50 Relowe Crescent, Box Hill North. He states that he is a naturalised Australian of Bulgarian descent. During 1949 and 1950 when he lived in a camp in the city of Nis in Yugoslavia attempts were made to make use of him, he said, by officers of the Yugoslav secret police, and he gives the details. The next sworn declaration is by Tom Bratusha of Canberra. He says that when he went to the Yugoslav Embassy for the purpose of giving up his Yugoslav citizenship he was interviewed by a Mr Lazic. He says that Mr Lazic made attacks upon his father, said that his father talked too much and showed him a file of photographs of persons whom he presumed-
– It breaks up many homes.
– I suppose that talking too much is something for which we all can be dealt with. At any rate, Mr Bratusha gives a sworn declaration about information which convinced him that there was a Yugoslav secret police organisation operating in the Yugoslav Embassy. There is another declaration by Ljubomir Vuina of Flat 4, Edward Street, Bondi. He gives evidence of the activities in Yugoslavia, particularly, surrounding the killing of a man named Nikola Raspudic which he ascribes to the people whom I have mentioned. There is a sworn declaration by Ante Gnjec of Macquarie in the Australian Capital Territory. In the course of the sworn declaration he gives evidence of how, when he went on a visit to Yugoslavia, attempts were made to force him to become an operator of the Yugoslav secret police. Finally - and I do not table this one - on the other issue of the raids there is a reference to a statutory declaration which Senator Hannan has and which I presume he would make available in the event of this inquiry being held.
– I have 5 others if you wish to see them.
– I know. I have been promised a number of other declarations. But 1 want to make it clear that I will not present any evidence unless it is sworn and is therefore subject to the laws of this country.
– It is declared; it is not sworn.
– It depends on whether you went to Oxford or Cambridge. I conclude by saying that whatever decision may have been made regarding Senator Murphy, no decision has yet been made on the question of civil rights. By ‘civil rights’ I mean the right of people to be protected from intrusion without a warrant and the right of people to have some tribunal to which they can go and put their case if they have been wrongly accused. I have in my office another statement by a man in South Australia. Some time ago when statements were made about Yugoslavs going from Australia, invading Yugoslavia and being caught and dealt with, his name was proclaimed throughout Australia as being the name of one of the persons. He has sent me a statement in which he says that he has never returned to Yugoslavia since he came to Australia and that he certainly did not go on that occasion, and this is obvious because he would have been in gaol if he had gone. There is an example of how a man may be smeared. He was smeared as a terrorist who had invaded Yugoslavia and all the time he has been living in South Australia and knows nothing about it. In those circumstances, for the protection of human rights, to allow people to prove their innocence, and for the purpose of showing that undesirable activity is being carried out in this country by the Yugoslav secret police I believe that this inquiry ought to be held.
– In accordance with standing order 364 I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative
– I feel that I carry a particularly heavy onus in rising to defend the conduct of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), after listening, to the heart-rending protestations of the lillywhites of Box Hill North. As far as I could detect a theme in Senator McManus’s speech, I think it was that horrible things happen in the world and that they are to be deplored when they happen to friends. Let us take this theme which has emerged not only from Senator McManus but also from Senator Little and Senator Greenwood, although in a rather more oblique-
– He did not read a document; Senator Murphy did.
– I ask the honourable senator to listen to me. I know it is hard for him to follow.
– He did not listen to Senator McManus.
– He did not let anyone from that corner listen to me.
– Are we having a chat or are we obeying the rules of the Senate?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Senator James McOlelland, 1 ask you to address the Chair.
– I must confess that I rise tonight with some feeling of weariness, verging on boredom, to discuss this subject. After all, the issues in this matter have been hashed and rehashed and digested and regurgitated and illuminated and obscured and generally kicked about. I think that the general population, the newspapers and the Parliament are thoroughly bored with this issue because everything that has been said about it and everything that could be said about it has been said. Unfortunately tonight it has been raised again by the Opposition, and just as a matter of parliamentary procedure we have to deal with it. First of all I shall deal with what was said by Senator McManus.
– Kids have been taken from their homes and flung a few biscuits after 10 hours.
– I suppose they would have had ‘Playboy’ to read while they were locked up. They could have got it from the honourable senator’s newsagency. They would not have to be as bored as all that. Because it gets us a little off the beaten track I shall refer to this UDBA theme which has been raised by Senator McManus and which I know is dear to Senator Little’s heart. The attempt that they had made - it was dome in a slightly more sophisticated way by Senator Greenwood - in reply to the irrefutable case which we have raised was to suggest that these violent outbreaks in the Yugoslav community in Australia are really the actions of agents provocateur.
– The papers which Senator Murphy released said that some of them were in other parts of the world too. I suggest the honourable senator read document Al 3.
– 1 have read document Al 3. I have read all the documents. Senator Little has just exposed his indomitable ignorance and prejudice in suggesting that documents which he has read prove-
– 1 did not say that they proved it. I said that they suggested it. The honourable senator has distorted my remarks straight away.
– Is that as high as the honourable senator puts it - that the documents suggest.
– Yes, and it is from a responsible source - ASIO.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I ask Senator Little to cease interjecting.
– 1 am helping Senator James McClelland.
– I think I would do better to ignore the cachinnations on my right. The proposition which has been raised as a smokescreen to obscure the irrefutable evidence which we have produced is that these terrorist acts which undeniably exist in the Croatian- Yugoslav community in Australia are really the actions of agents provocateur of the Yugoslav Government. As Senator Little admitted just a moment ago - and as can be seen from a reading of what Senator Greenwood said in his alleged reply to Senator Murphy’s accusations - all of this is the merest hearsay. It is suggested but never proved that assassinations, liquidations, are carried out by the Yugoslav secret police. But for Senator Little, Senator Greenwood and every honourable senator on that side of the chamber the merest suggestion of ill-doing by their enemies is conclusive evidence. But when we make allegations they demand that we produce evidence which would stand up in a court of law. This is merely evidence of their double standards. They believe what they choose to believe and they do not want to be disturbed by the facts.
– There is irrefutable evidence on which people have been arrested or is there evidence and people will not be arrested?
– I suppose if I were to start talking about the evidence on which people have been arrested Senator Little would stand up and take the point of order that I was discussing something which was sub judice. I remember a discussion which took place in this chamber last year. We were talking about the action being taken against the draft resister Barry Johnston. The burden of the adverse comment which we were making from our side of the chamber against the then AttorneyGeneral was that he was imputing guilt to a man who had merely been charged and against whom none of these charges had yet been proved. But I gather that Senator Little wants me to embark on a trial of the people who were arrested the week-end before last. I will resist that temptation because, among other reasons, I would be out of order. But if Senator Little is suggesting that there is no evidence of action being taken by this Government, as against the inaction of the last Government, then I suggest that he is on his- 1
– I am not complaining of that. Eighty homes have been raided to catch 9 people.
– You cannot have it both ways. On the one hand they ask: *Why do you not charge somebody? Why do you not do something about the allegations you raise?’ On the other hand they complain that we raid people. How are we to please these stand-pat people who are ready to believe that there is a conspiracy by communist Yugoslav governments but who say that anything we allege against Croat terrorists come from our imagination? How are we to please people who, on the one hand, say that we are doing nothing and who, on the other hand, complain when raids happen? I suggest that we will have to rely on the good sense of the Australian people who believe - I think for good reasons - that there have been outrages in this country, that bombs have gone off on the streets, that there is a running vendetta between Croat terrorists and the Yugoslav Government and who applaud the fact that a government is at least in office which is prepared to do something about the situation. As I have said, there is something about this debate tonight which I find absolutely unbelievable. After everything which has happened in this Parliament over the last 3 weeks this debate which is being conducted tonight strikes me as an exercise in total futility.
Let us examine the wording of the motion moved by Senator Withers, who, I see, is exceptionally favouring us by remaining in the chamber while the debate is being conducted. Senator Withers moved:
That, in the opinion of the Senate, a board of inquiry consisting of 3 High Court or Supreme Court Justices should be established by the Government to inquire into and report upon . . .
Certain serious problems are said to be confronting this country at the moment. We have heard from the responsible Opposition throughout this week that, among other things, there are problems such as inflation that we should be discussing in this chamber, but the Opposition has taken time off from doing so to discuss a proposition as meaningless as this - that in the opinion of the Senate a board of inquiry consisting of 3 High Court or Supreme Court justices should be established by the Government to inquire into and report upon certain things.
What would happen if this motion were carried? The word would go out to the world - to Mr Whitlam and to every member of this Parliament - that the opinion of the Senate was that these things should be inquired into. Noble as that may be, what would issue from it? Mr Whitlam has already made it clear that there will be no inquiry. The Opposition in this place must know that even if this motion were carried there would not be an inquiry. This is merely a pious expression of opinion by people who have taken a thrashing on the facts that an inquiry should be held. If an inquiry were in fact set up - if this country decided that it could afford to waste the time of 3 High Court judges for 3 months, 6 months or 12 months - into what would those learned gentlemen be inquiring? The first question that they are asked to inquire into is whether terrorist organisations exist in Australia. I suggest that is something which has been established beyond peradventure to the satisfaction of the Parliament, as is illustrated by a motion that was carried in the House of Representatives and, I suspect, by the way, to the satisfaction of most of the gentlemen on the other side of the chamber.
– The honourable senator has a funny way of suspecting things.
– It would never be established to the satisfaction of Senator Little. If Senator Little were to reexamine the documents which he claims to have examined he would find that it has been established to the satisfaction of ASIO - an organisation whose reputation and functioning honourable senators on the other side of the. chamber are most anxious to defend and most tender to protect from what they call the depradations of the Attorney-General - that such terrorist organisations exist.
– Just as it has been established by the same documents that secret police are also in existence.
– We have been asked by Senator Little and other honourable senators on the Opposition side of the chamber to waste the time of 3 High Court judges for an unlimited period by asking them to establish whether something that ASIO is totally satisfield exists does in fact exist. The Commonwealth Police are completely satisfied that these terrorist organisations exist. Senator Little, who will rely on nothing but the documents, will know that documents exist which establish this to the total satisfaction of the Commonwealth Police. But not only that. The Department of Immigration, which has a special reports branch and which is interested in the question of whether there are terrorist organisations in Australia, is also totally satisfied that such organisations exist. But, more than that, Sir Garfield Barwick, who was Minister for External Affairs and also Attorney-General, curiously, if one looks at the records, wrote letters to himself with one hat to the man in the other hat, that is, as Minister for External Affairs he wrote letters to Sir Garfield Barwick as Attorney-General telling Sir Garfield Barwick as Attorney-General that he should be worried about what the Minister for External Affairs had discovered as to the danger of terrorist organisations.
– I think you are wrong. I think the Attorney-General then was Mr Snedden.
– You are wrong, senator. I invite you to examine the documents. You will find that that is what happened in early 1964. It is funny, but it is more than that. Senator Wright made one of the most sensible contributions in the debate last year. I appreciate that he is now interjecting out of loyalty to his side and trying to make the most of it. During the debate in September and October of last year the most sensible intervention was made by Senator Wright. He admitted that any government of this country has nothing to gain by the promotion or condonation of terrorist activities in this country directed to the breaking up of the state of Yugoslavia.
It is no mystery that Tito is in his 80s. The Croatian separatist organisations throughout the world figure that it is now or never. Tito must be expected to die within the next few years. They hope that that will be the time to break up this rather artificial ethnic union of Yugoslavia. Senator Wright showed a much more sophisticated recognition of the interests of this country when he intervened in the debate last year. Obviously he had been advised by officers of the Department of Foreign Affars who know the realities of life. Senator Wright said that we and the so-called free world had nothing to gain by the fragmentation of Yugoslavia because this would mean merely another power cockpit in the world, something like that which exists in the Middle East. As any student of politics knows, the so-called independent republics of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro -
– There would be another Sarajevo.
– That is right. They would come under increasing pressure to be dominated by one of the power groups in the world; more probably than not by the Soviet Union. I am astonished that a man like my friend Senator McManus, who is not interested in the expansion of Soviet power in the world, should be indifferent or somehow blind to the implications of a possible victory of the people to whom he feels–
– I am on Roosevelt’s side.
– There has not been an independent Croatia since 982 A.D. The suggestion is that we have some romantic attachment to these people who want to go back to olden times. It is something like our suggesting that we should raise the flag against William the Conqueror because of what happened in 1066. This is a totally romantic, unreal and almost unbelieveably reactionary movement. I do not mind if the Croatians in Australia have folk dances and play at boy scouts, but when it becomes something that involves armed incursions into Yugoslavia–
– And oaths.
– And oaths.
– And bombs.
– Bombs are used against people who will not agree with them and standover tactics are employed against people who will not contribute to their cause. It is fantastic and unreal, but also dangerous. Further, it is from the most mundane and old-fashioned point of view contrary to the interests of this country. That is what Sir Garfield Barwick was getting at. Sir Garfield Barwick, in his capacity as Foreign Minister, knew that it was not in the interests of Australia to pick this fight with a friendly country and that it was not in the interests of Australia to allow here any sort of groups which would contribute to the fragmentation of the State of Yugoslavia. That is why he wrote as Foreign Minister to himself as Attorney-General saying in effect; ‘We should not condone this; we should do something about suppresing it’. Of course, this is the thread that runs through the documents relating to events since the first incursion in 1963, up through the years to the last incursion last year, and to the projected one this year.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has been quite clear sighted that this was something which should not be tolerated. Unfortunately Sir Garfield Barwick, in addressing himself as Attorney-General, did not achieve any results in the suppression of Croatian terrorism, but at least he was alert to the problem. Down through the years successive Attorneys-General have refused to listen to the warnings that they got from the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, from ASIO and from the Commonwealth Police. The purport of what I am saying on this leg of the argument is that it almost passes comprehension that sensible people in this community should have any doubts whatsoever about the existence of Croatian terrorist organisations in this country. I submit that Senator Murphy’s statement of a couple of weeks ago, in which he documented and produced a great heap of documents that were tabled in the Senate, indicates the existence of Croatian organisa tions. The indifference of previous governments and the determination of this Government to do something about it remains totally unrefuted.
After having a week to prepare his defence Senator Greenwood said in effect: ‘There are other documents to which Senator Murphy did not refer which showed that I was concerned about this problem’. But he failed completely to answer the case that was put against him. Certainly there were other documents which showed that he toyed with the problem and that he talked about the problem. He knew that the problem existed, but he was conditioned to thinking - I say this without any harshness towards Senator Greenwood but I believe it is the explanation of his attitude - along sympathetic lines, a sympathy which he just cannot get over, towards people who are anti-communist. The Croatian organisations here are anti-communist, and Senator Greenwood as well as other honourable senators opposite, including Senator Hannan whom–
– I am not attacking Senator Hannan. I believe that he is totally sincere in his attitude towards this problem, but I am suggesting that the mote in the eyes of honourable senators opposite is this: These Croatians come here as fugitives from a communist country and therefore are their natural allies. Therefore anything that they do in the way of toying with gelignite, fuses or something of that nature is seen as a peccadillo. Actions which would be crimes if done by supporters of a left wing cause are to honourable senators opposite little boys’ games when they are played by people for whom they have a natural political sympathy. So I am not suggesting that Senator Greenwood, Senator Hannan or the other defenders of the rights of the Croatians in this country who advocate a separate Croatian state are people who love violence - not for one moment. I am suggesting that they have a natural tolerance towards people with whose cause they sympathise and this leads them into the blindness in which they condone the dangerous, anti-social, fundamentally criminal activities which these people consider to be permissible in the furtherance of the cause in which they blindly, romantically and quite pointlessly believe.
We are not prepared to extend this tolerance towards these people. We do not find it horrifying that these people might have this romantic belief in an independent Croatia but we say: You are not going to be allowed, under this Government, to pursue these romantic dreams with gelignite and rifles at the expense of your fellow countrymen, most of whom are not interested in these romantic dreams, and especially to the danger of Australian citizens who may happen to be walking around when one of your bombs goes off. This is all that Senator Murphy was directing his attention to.
– If you work on a Melbourne wharf your body might go off.
– I always like to hear Senator Gair’s interjections. May I have that again?
– If you work on a Melbourne wharf your body might go off. There are 3 missing now.
– That is a very interesting comment from Senator Gair. I take it that what he means is that we should not be concerned about Croatian terrorists because there are other terrorists in Australia. Is that what he means?
– In the Trades Hall in Sydney, too, they have terrorists. They blew up the Secretary of the ALP.
– I ask honourable senators to ponder the wisdom of Senator Gair. He does not say that what I am saying is not true. He says that he has suspicions that terrorist activities are being conducted by other people in the community. If there are, I do not approve of them either. His party especially referred to some terroristic activities that were perpetrated on members of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia in Victoria, and I take it that that is what he is referring to now. I do not approve of those actions; I condemn those actions. I believe that the police should be interested in suppressing them, but it is an appalling juvenile argument against what I am saying to suggest that these things happen somewhere else and that means we do not have to worry about terrorism when it is performed by people of whom Senator Gair approves.
– Who assaulted Ducker in the Trades Hall? Were they Croatians?
-Will you tell me, Senator? Who assaulted Ducker?
– I will not. You know. You are a closer associate.
– I do not think I need to worry a great deal. I think that honourable senators are sufficiently logical to understand that the fact that acts which are reprehensible occur outside the sphere of Croatian terrorism has nothing to do with the argument as to whether Croatian terrorism exists. What I am suggesting is that this has been proved beyond doubt, beyond argument, and so the first section of the motion - the suggestion that we should waste the time of 3 High Court judges to decide whether terrorists organisations exist in Australia - is something which can be laughed out of Court. The other aspect of the first part of this argument is as to the number of Croatian terrorists. I would be interested to know how many of them there are. But does it really matter? Does it matter that they are a small minority of all the Croatians in this country? We acknowledge that. We are not suggesting, as it is attempted to be suggested against us, that all of the Croatians or most of them or anybody but a tiny minority of the Croatians in this country are terrorists.
I have known a lot of Croatians. I acted for a lot of Croatians when I was practising law. I believe most of them have turned their backs on this romantic violence that has unfortunately plagued their people in the past. I believe that most of them want to integrate into the Australian community and forget all about the proposition of an independent Croatia. Unfortunately a few of the adventurers and criminals in their midst make them their prime victims. They stand over them for money; they bomb their premises; they try to intimidate them into joining their organisations. The question of the size of these organisations is not anything about which we need concern ourselves. We accept, and the overwhelming evidence supports the proposition, that there are not many of them. But does that matter? A few of them can destroy a great number of lives and cause a great amount of misery, and to have an inquiry by 3 High Court judges who would spend a year or 18 months to find out whether there are 200 or 2,000 of them is a luxury that this country cannot afford.
The next thing that these 3 High Court judges are asked to inquire into is the objectives of these terrorists. Senator Little, who I see has had enough, claims to have read the documents. If honourable gentlemen on the other side have read the documents they will have been abundantly informed of the objectives of these organisations. Their objectives are to achieve an independent Croatia by any means whatsoever including bombing, terror, intimidation, standing over their countrymen, training people to infiltrate and wrecking the relations of Australia with a friendly country. These are the objectives. We do not need High Court judges to tell us about them. They are to be found in the documents tabled in this House by Senator Murphy. As to their methods, we have to do no more than look at the list, which was tabled by Senator Greenwood in his own defence, of the unsolved crimes of violence committed in this country by these extremists.
I could go on analysing this motion in detail but, as I said at the outset, I find this topic already played out and boring. Everything that has to be said about it has already been said. I should like finally to advert to only one thing, that is, the red herring which has been drawn across this trail as to why Senator Murphy - the word that is usually used is ‘raided’ - the offices of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Canberra and in Melbourne. I have taken a rough straw poll among the ordinary people of this community, the people who judge what happens here in Canberra by standards of common sense, and I have found that mostly their attitude is that if Senator Murphy in the context in which he visited ASIO in Canberra and in’ Melbourne had a suspicion, even if it was unjustified, that he was not getting all the information to which he was entitled, with an impending visit of a dignatory like the Yugoslav Prime Minister around the corner, he was entitled to take the most drastic methods to find out whether he was getting the information. I have found that the ordinary man is not concerned with the niceties. Senator Murphy’s action was highly unorthodox; it was highly unusual.
But what of this sacred cow ASIO? By the way, the basis of the indignation of the Opposition over what Senator Murphy did, is that somehow or other ASIO is a sovereign power within a sovereign power. You do not question ASIO; you do not have a good look at what it is doing; you do not exercise the authority of the Government over ASIO, ASIO is a power unto itself. I understand from what Senator Greenwood and other speakers on the other side of the House have said, that even at this advanced stage of the debate they still believe this to be the case, that ASIO, somehow or other, is a power unto itself, not answerable to the Prime Minister, not answerable to the AttorneyGeneral. I invite honourable senators opposite who still entertain this illusion to examine the document that was tendered by Senator Murphy on 10th April setting out the relationship between the Director-General of ASIO and this Government.
Senator Little, that great student of the documents who has not chosen to stay with us, has presumably seen this document which contains phrases like this:
The Director-General may not, except with the consent of the Attorney-General, hold any other paid office or, whether for remuneration or otherwise, engage in the private practice of, or be employed in, any profession, occupation or trade. . . .
If after investigation and report by the Public Service Board, the Attorney-General is satisfied that the Director-General is unfit on the ground of physical or mental incapacity to continue to discharge the duties of his office efficiently…..
If, after inquiry, the Attorney-General finds that the Director-General was guilty of misconduct and that the misconduct was such that it warrants the dismissal of the Director-General, the appointment of the Director-General may be terminated by the Governor-General.
Later on there is the following definition of misconduct: the word ‘misconduct’ in this paragraph includes any failure on the part of the Director-General to comply with the provisions of the Act or any of the terms and conditions set out in this Determination or any lawful direction given by the Attorney-General regarding the Organisation.
There is another paragraph which states that the Attorney-General is entitled under certain circumstances to reprimand the DirectorGeneral. Generally that is the thread running throughout the terms and conditions of the appointment of the Director-General.
– Who drew them up?
– A previous government, but not a Labor government. In 1965 I think this document was drawn up and it makes it quite clear. One would expect nothing else-
– It was 1969.
– Thank you, Senator. One would expect nothing else than that the head of this important Organisation is in every way responsible to the elected government of this country. So if the Attorney-General of this Government, on the eve of the visit of a high dignitary in the Yugoslav Government and in the light of a long list of outrages by Croatian extremists in this country chose, even on an unsupported suspicion, for more abundant precaution to decide that he would have a look at whether ASIO was doing its job, he was acting lawfully. He was acting responsibly. He was doing no less than what the people of this country are allowed and expected to anticipate from a responsible Attorney-General. If the Attorney-General had done anything less than what he did this would be something to complain of. I can imagine him being censured if a bomb had gone off and Mr Bijedic’s life had been imperilled or the life of the Prime Minister of this country had been imperilled. Do not forget that when the Ustasha assassin struck down King Alexander in Marseilles in 1934, King Alexander was not the only victim. The French Foreign Secretary, Mr Barthou, also was a victim. Even if honourable senators on the other side are indifferent to the fate of a distinguished visitor to this country I assume they would not be indifferent to the fate of one of our own leaders such as Mr Whitlam or Senator Murphy. I suggest that honourable senators opposite, and I suggest this with due respect to them, would be really concerned to think that political assassination could reach out and strike down one of our own political leaders. I seriously suggest to honourable senators opposite who have been so censorious and, I think, self-righteous and very intolerant of a very tolerant AttorneyGeneral - a man who as leader of the Opposition in the Senate adopted a highly responsible and impersonal attitude towards his task and a man who since he has been in the office of Attorney-General has acted with great responsibility - that they should really examine their consciences and put themselves in his position in the week before Mr Bijedic was due to arrive in this country.
– That was not the appropriate time to empty out the ASIO documents for his information.
– With due respect to Senator Wright, I say that the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia was due to arrive in this country in two or three days. At the end of a busy day in the Senate the Attorney-General turned to the problem of whether the security for the impending visit of this man was good enough. Why is it so extraordinary that he chose 12 o’clock at night to go to the office of this important security organisation? Is it suggested seriously that our super spy force goes to bed at 12 o’clock at night and that this was an unseemly hour for the first law officer of the Commonwealth–
– It is very unusual.
– I suggest that it is not at all unusual. Anybody who observes the way in which this Government is functioning will know that at 12 o’clock any night in the week the Ministers of this Government are conducting their business, having interviews and receiving deputations. This is a commonplace of the way this Government conducts its affairs. At the end of the day, at 11.30 p.m., a responsible Attorney-General adverts to the question of whether, in a couple of days time, a visiting dignitary will have enough protection. So he rings the local headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and makes an appointment, without objection from it, to go and check up on this elementary matter which goes to the very heart of his duties. He is received there courteously. There is no question of breaking in. Documents are shown to him. He reads documents. Without regurgitating the whole sorry mess, I merely say that he found one which I suggest any responsible Minister would have found disturbing and, on the strength of it, decided that he had to take immediate further action.
– Only if he wanted to play Hamlet.
– We know of the honourable senator’s well known predilection for being at the centre of the stage. I am suggesting that Senator Murphy had a much more serious motivation than that. He was charged, as a Minister of State, with securing the safety of a visiting dignitary who was invited to this country by a previous government. I suggest that it is a sorry reflection on the state of political responsibility in this country that he should be reproached for having regarded 12 o’clock at night as not being too late, after a busy day in the Senate, to make further inquiries as to whether security precautions had been taken. He went there. On the strength of the document he saw, he was not satisfied and he decided he had to do something further. Even if it were suggested - I know that it is - that he made a mistake of judgment then in taking a bunch of Commonwealth police to the ASIO headquarters in Melbourne, taking the position at its harshest against the Attorney-General, even if honourable senators opposite say that this was a mistake of judgment and that it was something he should not have done, surely they must conclude–
– You are saying it now.
– It is something that honourable senators opposite have said. I do not for one moment agree with it. Cannot the honourable senator hear and understand? I am saying that, putting the case against the Attorney-General at its worst, even accepting - I state that I do not for one moment, in order that Senator Little will understand me - the proposition that he made a mistake of judgment, is it a mistake of judgment that allegedly patriotic senators should applaud? Was it a mistake on the right side - on the side of more abundant precaution? Was it a mistake that he was entitled to make as a man who was concerned to do his job properly? I do not accept that it was a mistake. I think it is something that any responsible Attorney-General would have done. But even if it were a mistake it is something which I suggest that the people who are interested in security should regard with tolerance and with charity. I think the worst case that can be made against the Attorney-General is that he was over-zealous in doing his job in maintaining the security of a man whom a previous government had invited to this country.
– That was the defence of the Nazi war criminals.
– I do not think at this stage I should even dignify Senator Little’s absurd interjection with a reply. I suggest that on reflection the members of this Senate should hang their heads in shame for having censured a responsible, dedicated, hard working Attorney-General for doing what he considered was necessary in the interests of the security of a visiting dignitary and in the interests of our relations with a friendly nation.
– in reply - This matter ought to be decided thisnight, as I said when I first rose to speak shortly after 8 p.m. It is quite obvious that Senator James McClelland who spoke for over 50 minutes has just been filling out time. At least one can say this for Senator Murphy: He was able to stay with the matter under consideration and develop an argument which I respected even though I disagree with it. He was able to do that in approximately (fifteen or sixteen minutes. I think the. same goes for Senator Douglas McClelland. But the last speaker, Senator James McClelland, said nothing although he took a long time to say it. It is quite obvious that the opposition have no heart for this debate. They pulled out after 3 speakers. It is fair enough. They know we want to get to a vote and therefore I suggest, Mr Acting Deputy President, that you put the question to a vote.
That the motion (Senator Withers’) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the modifications made to the resolution transmitted to the Senate by the House for the appointment of a joint committee on prices.
– The question is:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise because of something which was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) when he concluded the debate on the motion to appoint a board of inquiry to deal with certain matters. During the course of his remarks he said that the Opposition had lost heart about this matter. It was a Freudian slip, I think, although I also think it revealed some truth about his own thoughts.
– I rise on a point of order. Is it in order for a senator, during the adjournment debate, to allude to a debate which has occurred during the day?
– Order! Senator Greenwood has taken a point of order that it is not permissible to allude to a debate in which the Senate has been engaged. It is permissible for an honourable senator to clear up a matter that occurred during the preceding debate, but he should not debate the matter.
– I do not wish to debate it but the Leader of the Opposition said that the Government - his own words were ‘the Opposition’ - did not wish to continue this matter and had no further speakers. The honourable senator would have been able to verify this matter if he had checked with the Whips or with you, Mr President. He would have known that I was listed to speak next. Also he would have known that Senators Bishop, Cavanagh, Mulvihill, Gietzelt, Brown and O’Byrne also were on the list. We were all prepared to speak on this matter.
– A good collection.
– As Senator Rae said, it is a good collection. No wonder the gag was moved. The Leader of the Opposition totally misrepresented the position of the Government, which is prepared to carry on this debate for as long as the Opposition wants to carry it on. We had the speakers ready to speak on this matter and we were prepared to speak on it. The action taken by the Leader of the Opposition in closing the debate meant that he was in fact gagging the debate.
I wish to refute entirely the allegation that Government Senators were not prepared to speak in opposition to the resolution which was moved tonight by the Leader of the Opposition during one of his rare appearances in this chamber.
– I rise simply to correct a misunderstanding. I think that Senator Wheeldon has mistaken the course of the proceedings in the termination of the recent debate. No motion that the question be put ever came before the Senate. At the conclusion of the speech by Senator James McClelland, in accordance with the Standing Orders, Senator Withers rose. Senator Withers was the only senator to rise. Of course, he having moved the motion, when he rose he closed the debate because he was rising to speak a second time and that was his reply. I make these facts known because whatever might have been the intention of Government senators, they were not present and prepared to rise to continue the debate. Otherwise Senator Withers could never have received the call.
– The explanation just given by Senator Greenwood is typical of the shabby conduct by honourable senators opposite. It does not deceive anyone. Everybody knows how the order of’ debate is determined in this place and that it changes from one side to the other. We all know that there is a list of speakers. The last Government senator to speak in the debate was Senator James McClelland. In accordance with the usual practice the next call would be given to a non-Government speaker. If it happened that no other non-Government speaker rose, except he who moved the motion, the tradition has always been that he would not rise and close the debate in that fashion; he would give way immediately if there was still a speaker from the opposite Party ready to speak.
But the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers), having been the only nongovernment speaker to rise, did not, as one would expect in accordance with tradition, immediately give way when Senator Wheeldon expressed his desire to continue the debate. Instead he insisted on proceeding so that he closed the debate. Honourable senators know that this is not in accordance with the tradition of this Senate. If mat were to be the practice it would be a shabby littly trick that could be played every day of the week. It is not fitting that it .be played in a matter that was thought to be of some importance and for the mover of the motion to stand and fail to give way when it was very evident that there were Government speakers who wished to speak. Not only did the Leader of the Opposition do that, which was a shabby thing to do, but he then went on to say that there were no Government senators who wanted to speak when there were.
Mr President, honourable senators here know what was done, they know why it was done and they know how it was done. What we have seen tonight is typical of what has been done by the Opposition throughout this matter.
– One cannot let the whinging and whining of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) pass unnoticed. That is about all his remarks are. 1 complained once before in this place, when I was Government Whip, that I always thought that the traditions and decencies of the Senate were that the list of speakers which appears on your table, Mr President, represents a confidential arrangement between the Whips and the Chair. It is not a public document. It never has been. In no way does it bind the Chair to call honourable senators in the order shown. I think that that is a correct statement of the position.
– ‘If you were in the Senate more often you would know that that is not the case. If you put in half an hour a day here, you would know that that is not what happens.
– Mr President, I will ignore the interjection, for what it is worth. The interjections of Government supporters are part of the cheap gibing in which some honourable senators now indulge. The simple factor of the matter is that when I rose earlier this evening, I looked around and no other honourable senator rose. If an honourable senator had risen, I would have yielded. The simple fact is that honourable senators on the Government side all want to go home. They have been indulging in a filibuster. Now they are yelping, whingeing and whining and I suggest to them that they go home to their beds.
– I want to put the record straight on this matter. What the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has said tonight is typical, as the Attorney-
General (Senator Murphy) said, of the attitude being adopted to this Government. I think it is true that when Senator James McClelland resumed his seat, Senator Withers rose and received the call. Immediately he did so, Senator Wheeldon made a protest. If there had not been some arrangement in this place with regard to speakers, I would have been on my feet. But the arrangement here is that speakers are called from alternate sides. If no Opposition speaker rises in this place, it is up to the Government to provide a speaker. But an Opposition senator did rise in his place seeking the call. That Opposition senator was Senator Withers who possibly was entitled to receive the call at that stage. But he knew that there were other speakers wishing to participate in the. debate. Incidentally, Senator Wheeldon was the next Government speaker, and I was to follow him. It was not my place to rise at that stage. Senator Wheeldon was to be the next Government speaker. Senator Withers received the call and closed the debate despite the protests. This action is contrary to the whole traditions of this Parliament. It is typical of the dirty, filthy attitude of this Opposition since Senator Withers has been Leader of the Opposition. Could honourable senators ever imagine such dirty, low down, gutter snipe tactics being adopted by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson when he was Leader of the Government in the Senate? Can honourable senators ever imagine that happening when an arrangement had been entered into with that honourable senator?
I rise because we must look at the question of the slip of paper on your desk, Mr President, on which the Whips supply you with the names of speakers in debates. On numerous occasions, I have called at the President’s Ohair for the purpose of seeing who is on that list and the order in which they are to speak. This is information that is available to honourable senators. Mr President, you know - and Senator Withers should have known as the Opposition Whip would have known - about the arrangements for speakers who were on that list. I think they were well known to members of the Liberal Party in the Senate.
The matter that we debated earlier tonight has become a joke to the public. There is nothing more serious that happens to the Liberal Party than the degradation of that Party by its trying, in the absence of policies, to deal in personalities in seeking to condemn this Government which is doing something for the benefit of Australia. This is regrettable in view of the fact that the Liberal Party includes some honourable senators for whom we have high respect. Unfortunately, they re not here now. I am sure they would dissociate themselves from what has gone on here. It is unfortunate that Opposition senators who are held in high respect on this side of the Senate and Opposition senators who hold in high respect Government senators on this side of the Senate must be associated with actions of this kind. I refer to the filthy actions of the Withers and Greenwoods of the Liberal Party in 1973.
– I do not wish to engage in the same type of tactics that have been engaged in by some of the more emotional members of this chamber who talked about dirty, filthy attitudes and dirty guttersnipe tactics, but I would like to point out that the thing they are complaining about, if their complaints are correct and well founded, is the very thing that has been happening in another chamber of this Parliament this week. That is, the brutality of numbers has been exercised in a way unknown for 23 years.
– This has nothing to do with numbers. This is a question of deliberate deceit. There were people who were prepared to speak.
– Apparently Senator Wheeldon wishes to make a second speech. He made a rather poor one a little earlier. Perhaps he should seek leave to make a second one. Let me continue, if I may, without Senator Wheeldon trying to make a speech at the same time. The things which it is being suggested Senator Withers did are the very things which undeniably have been done in another place. It is demonstrably true on the record that what Senator Withers did was to observe the Standing Orders and comply with the arrangements that had been made here.
– When Senator Murphy says oh’ all I can say is that Senator Murphy ought to remember the way he behaved when he was in Opposition. I do not think it is necessary for us to spend a great deal of time talking about this, but I would like to suggest that, whilst the Opposition did not take objection to Senator Cavanagh’s using the sort of expressions he used-
– ‘Because you know they are true.
– Thank you, Senator Gietzelt. The honourable senator says that we know they are true. All I say to Senator Gietzelt is that I know they would be true as descriptive of that type of action had it taken place. Demonstrably it has occurred in another place. Senator Gietzelt attributes to his own Party’s Leader, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), dirty, filthy attitudes and dirty guttersnipe tactics.
– Order! I just want to make this observation to honourable senators: They do the Senate and themselves no credit by using lower case vocabulary.
– I rise only to defend what I believe is the right of the Government in this matter. It has been demonstrated quite clearly that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) acted tonight in a way which I can only describe as the way in which a shyster lawyer would act.
– Order! I warned honourable senators about that kind of thing. I would be grateful if the honourable senator would-
– I take a point of order-
– Order! I am dealing with Senator Milliner now. I know that tempers in the Senate are warm. I deliberately intervened to say that the Senate should elevate the level of debate. I think that Senator Milliner would agree that that epithet he used in the context of lawyers should not have been used, and I would be grateful if he would withdraw it and continue his speech.
– In deference to you, Mr President, I withdraw it and say that the conduct of the Leader of the Opposition tonight would upset the susceptibilities of anyone who observed decent standards that the law may provide. Mr President, I go further and challenge the Leader of the Opposition when he says that the list provided on your desk for the arrangement of speakers is confidential. If it is confidential, I could name at least 15 people here tonight who have breached the confidence of the Whips and the President of the Senate. On innumerable occasions we have seen honourable senators from both sides of the chamber go to the
President’s Chair and look at the list showing the arrangement of speakers, and that practice has never been challenged. Now the Leader of the Opposition is saying that we are dishonourable for doing so; that we are breaching a confidence. Mr President, that is typical talk to hide their own misdemeanours in this debate. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate stands condemned for his attack on honourable senators in saying that they breach confidences. I entirely reject that charge.
– I rise to speak because I happen to be an Assistant Whip. I am now being paid for that work and that is something which has not happened for a long time. If the arrangements made between Party Whips are going to be flouted in the underhand way they were tonight by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers), we may as well not have Whips. We may as well revert to the rules that operate at question time and you, Mr President, will be the person who will have to decide who first rose to speak in the debate. The Leader of the Opposition wanted a motion discussed in this chamber tonight and wanted to stop the debate. He warned us when he moved the motion that he was going to gag the debate irrespective of how many speakers we had.
– That is what he said.
– Yes, he threatened us. He said that it did not matter how long we wanted to debate this subject and it did not matter how much logic we applied, he was going to get a vote tonight. We on the Government side did not mind if we sat through until 2 o’clock or 3 o’clock in the morning so long as honourable senators on our side were permitted to join in the debate on this matter. These are the tactics of the sometimes Leader of the Opposition who probably spends less time in this chamber than any other honourable senator. I believe he could not work in an iron lung even if he wanted to do so. If this is the type of leadership that is being given to the Opposition side, the sooner it is changed the better. I said much stronger words to him when passing him on the floor of the chamber and I am prepared to say them to him outside if he wishes.
The simple fact is that there is a system which has worked in this place since 1901 whereby the. Party Whips have been able to allocate speakers. If the Opposition wants that system broken down it need only use these tactics once more. We will then find that there is no system of allocating speakers. On some occasions we have allowed 2 or 3 speakers from one side when the other side of the chamber has not had speakers ready. That has happened on both sides of the chamber. On this occasion we had speakers available. The list of speakers is not a secret document. It is not a classified document.
– You were all too lazy.
– Senator Greenwood is interjecting. He gets like this when the moon is full. What has happened will, if it continues, lead to the destruction of the system of co-operation between the Government and the Opposition. That system was retained on all occasions when we were in Opposition and honourable senators opposite were sitting on the Government side. The Whips were able to respect the arrangements that were made. There was no question of anybody ratting on them. I give the Opposition Whip full credit for what happened the other night when, because of an unfortunate but not intentional error on the part of the person occupying the chair, 2 speakers from the Opposition were given the call consecutively. The Opposition Whip immediately came over to me, because I was in the chamber, and advised me that we would get the next 2 calls. We got the next 2 calls because he was not prepared to destroy the arrangements that have operated since 1901. But we have a Leader of the Opposition who is so swelled headed about his jobbeing promoted from Deputy Whip to Leader of the Opposition - that he really believes that he can now take over the House for all time. He was in control of the Senate one night on the first occasion when he took the chair and he threw 3 of us out in about as many minutes because he is so intolerant of people - completely intolerant. He wants to use the jackboot. He used the jackboot that night and he used the jackboot again tonight. This was a complete abuse of the office he holds. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will learn from his experience tonight and accept his job with a greater sense of responsibility, not only in his attendance to his duties in this place but also in honouring arrangements which have been made for so many years between party Whips.
– I must rise to speak on this matter because Senator Poyser tonight has referred to an arrangement between Whips. I want to make it perfectly clear and place it on the record that I did not supply any names to your desk tonight, Mr President. I had no arrangement with Senator O’Byrne at all tonight with regard to the speakers list. That is correct and Senator O’Byrne will verify it. I thank Senator Poyser for referring to my earlier conduct as Whip in this place. I have always tried to give fair play. But I must refute what Senator Poyser said tonight. No arrangement was made between the Whips tonight. I say that in fairness to Senator O’Byrne also. We have worked together with mutual respect, and I do not like this sort of comment being passed tonight against either myself or Senator O’Byrne. The other point I must make in fairness to my own Leader and in all honesty, is that he rose in his place when Senator James McClelland sat down and not one Government senator rose. In fact, if Government senators had been watching closely they might have seen me rise at one stage because I thought I might buy into the debate to scratch a little ground around the place. The Leader of the Opposition received the call and that was that. Not one Government senator rose to speak on this matter. I deny the charge that has been made against Senator Withers.
– I should like to direct a few words to you, Mr President. You have safeguarded the rights of honourable senators in this place. This is without question and it has been commended by senators on both sides of the chamber. When the originator of a motion rises to speak again you often ask him, when there is a list of speakers before you, whether he is closing the debate. On this occasion you did not do so. Am I to take it that you were not aware that Senator Withers had originated the motion or were you not expecting him to do what he did, which was contrary to the practice of this place? I should have thought that, as has happened so often in the past, the question would have been asked of Senator Withers whether he was closing the debate. This question was not asked. I take it that it was not expected that he would be closing the debate. For that reason he should be condemned and he has been condemned in no uncertain terms tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m. until Tuesday 1st May at 3 p.m., unless sooner called together.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Treasurer has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE - The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
End November 1972- $4,738m
End December 1972- $4,8 16m
End January 1973- $4,849m
End February 1973- $4,363m
The overall decline from $4,738m at the end of November 1972 to $4,363m at the end of February 1973 was entirely due to the effects of exchange rate changes on the valuation of our reserves in terms of our reserves in terms of their Australian dollar equivalents: the result of actual balance of payments transactions for the 3 months ending 28th February 1973 was a surplus approaching $100m.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Treasurer has provided the folowing answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 13th March Senator Young asked the following question, without notice:
Following statements made by the Minister for Transport, including those made prior to his coming to office, that the coastal trade would be resrved for Australian owned, built and manned vessels, what steps does the Minister now intend to take in relation to the Australian National Line entering the Australian coastal tanker trade?
The answer to the question is as follows:
The Minister for Transport confirms it is the Australian Government’s intention to reserve the coastal trade to Australian ships. The Australian National Line, of course, will play a major role in this trade.
In relation to the Line’s entry into the coastal tanker trades, this matter is currently receiving consideration.
asked the Acting Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Will the Government continue with the subsidies which were instituted by the Liberal-Country Party
Government, having regard to the current prices and economic climate for the rural industries.
Senator CAVANAGH- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Government is not bound to continue the policies of the previous Government on subsidies for rural industries. Existing Commonwealth assistance for rural industries will be reviewed in the light of the present circumstances in each industry.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE - The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE - The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 April 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730412_senate_28_s55/>.