28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 66 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That Australian citizens place great value on the sanctity of human life and the physical, mental and social welfare of mothers and children.
That we are deeply concerned to preserve throughout Australia the law’s protection of human life from the moment of conception.
That if, as some argue, the unborn child at the time abortions are performed does not constitute human life, then justice and reason demand that anyone arguing thus has the onus of proof upon him and that this onus has not been discharged.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House should not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Petitions in identical terms were presented by Senator Drake-Rrocknian (3). Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson and Senator Mulvihill.
– Mr President,I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move:
That, notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders, the resolutions of 3 May relating to the appointment of members to serve on the Select Committee on Shipping Services to King Island. Stanley and Melbourne be varied to read as follows:
That the Committee consist of the following Senators:
Three to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate:
Twoto be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; and
Oneto be nominated by any minority group or groups or Independent or Independents.
(i) That the Committee elect as Chairman one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Government. The Chairman of the Committee may, from time to time. appoint another member of the Committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the Committee. The member so appointed shall act as Chairman of the Committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee.
In the event of an equality of voting the Chairman, or the Deputy Chairman when acting as Chairman, shall have a casting vote.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation. As all fares for international air travel set under the International Air Transport Association are in United States dollars and as the Australian dollar has been effectively revalued against the United States dollar twice in recent months, when will Qantas Airways Ltd, which is wholly owned by the Australian Government, be reducing its fares in accordance with the changed value of the Australian dollar? If Qantas has no intention of so doing, could the Minister advise why? If no action is taken in this matter, will he have this whole question referred to the prices justification tribunal, if and when it is set up, to ascertain the validity of Qantas’s reasons for not so doing?
– There are discussions and international agreements on the question of air fares. Of course, Qantas Airways Ltd has greatly reduced its fares over recent months, with the introduction of charter flights. 1 do not know whether consideration has been given to a further reduction of fares because of the revaluation of the Australian dollar. I shall refer the matter to the Minister to see whether he can provide any further information on the question, and let the honourable senator know.
– Is it a fact that the Minister For Primary Industry has instituted arrangements whereby individual export shipments of live sheep or cattle from Western Australia are subject to his discretion as to whether approval is given for their release? If so, does this procedure imply a belief on his part that exports of meat on a live basis are different in their impact on meat prices in Australia from exports on a carcass basis? Are there other reasons for the Minister’s action? If so, what are they?
– It is my understanding that it is the right of the Minister for Primary Industry to determine whether livestock shall be exported from Australia. It is true that representations have been made to me in the last few days to allow sizable increases in exports of livestock. In view of the present situation in Australia, I believe that it is only reasonable that I exercise great caution in allowing increases in livestock exportsfrom Australia. In the particular case which I have in mind and which the honourable senator possibly has in mind, I have disallowed the export of that livestock. I believe that the question of the export of meat should be administered in terms of established markets. I believe that we ought to secure those markets. That is one of the reasons why the Government has not acted hastily in making its decision to try to limit the export of these products. I believe that it is necessary for the Government to exercise these restraints. I believe also that the decision 1 have taken in the last few days is the correct one.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Is he aware that last Saturday represented the second anniversary of the tabling of the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare relating to mentally and physically handicapped persons in Australia? Is the Minister in a position to state what plans the Government has for the implementation of any of the 85 recommendations contained in the report? Have any of the recommendations already been implemented? Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister has committed his Party to the implementation of all the recommendations?
-I am aware that it is about the second anniversary of the tabling of the report of that Committee of which former Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood was Chairman and of which I was a member. I noted during the course of the last election campaign that the Prime Minister indicated that when a Labor government was elected it would be Government policy to implement the general principles embodied in the recommendations contained in the report dealing with the problems of mentally and physically handicapped persons. I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Health, is working on this matter and, if my recollection is correct, that he has established a committee to consider the details of the report. I will obtain further information from my colleague and advise the honourable senator as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister for the Media whether he has seen a report in the latest copy of the ‘Bulletin’ in which it is suggested that a recent stoppage by script assistants employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission was settled after negotiation had been reopened at the Minister’s request. Will the Minister confirm this report? Does it imply that the management- of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was not able to settle the dispute without the Ministers intervention?
– My attention has been drawn to the article appearing in this week’s ‘Bulletin’ in which it is implied, as I understand it, that negotiations in connection witha recent stoppage by script assistants in the employ of the Australian Broadcasting Commission were reopened by the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and senior executives of the Commission. My understanding of the matter is that at all times negotiations were under way between the Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association and the Commission. They were not in any way reopened as a result of intervention by me. I did not intervene in the negotiations at all. NaturallyIwas kept informed by Mr Duckmanton of developments in the negotiations and I must say, in fairness to the General Manager of the Commission, that a lot of the credit for the stoppage being settled in a friendly and amicable way must go to him. I know that he worked day and night and over the weekend of the stoppage to see that a settlement was arrived at and that normal programming was resumed as soon as possible. I make it quite plain that since I have been Minister for the Media, Mr Duckmanton, as the General Manager of the Commission, has given me his utmost cooperation. In the contacts I have had with him it has been mutually understood that the Commission is an independent entity not only entitled but required by statute to administer its own affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government considered the terms of the United States note of 24th April, which was delivered by the United States Government to the other members of the International Conference on Vietnam, charging Hanoi with violations of the Vietnam peace agreement? Does the Government deny the force of the evidence of the illegal movement of equipment and supplies, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, ammunition and more than 30.000 North Vietnamese Army personnel from North Vietnam in or through Laos and Cambodia and into South Vietnam to which the note refers? Although Australia is not a party to the ceasefire agreement, will the Government make representations to Hanoi in support of the United States claim with a view to bringing diplomatic pressure on North Vietnam to honour the ceasefire agreement?
– We are well aware of the attitude that the United States Government is taking on the violations of the ceasefire agreement in the Indo-China states. Our information is that each side has accused the other of various violations. As Senator Greenwood pointed out, we are not a party to the peace agreement. We have taken the attitude, both on the prisoner of war issue and on this matter, that as we are not a party to the agreement it is better to try to let the accords work out and try to let them achieve their own form of peace. At the moment we are not contemplating changing our attitude. We are not contemplating moving away from that situation. To do what Senator Greenwood suggested - to protest to Hanoi, to put pressure on Hanoi or whatever term he used - would be moving away from the Government’s present position.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. By way of preface I refer to a document which has been issued earlier and which indicates the grounds on which Aus tralians can get extensions of their period of residence in Great Britain. In view of the first release by the British Home Office of a report stating that 123 Australians had been directed to leave at the end of a period of 12 months, could I have a breakdown of the various groups involved and the specific reasons why they were -ordered to leave the United Kingdom?
– 1 will get that information and let Senator Mulvihill have it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Education been drawn to a Press statement today by Professor Watson-Munro, who is Professor of Physics at the Sydney University, in which he is reported to have said that Australia needed to embark upon a program to determine the economic feasibility of solar energy? Is the Minister aware that Professor Clark, who is the Vice-Chancellor of the Flinders University in South Australia, stated recently that he is planning to establish Australia’s first institute of solar and electrochemical energy conversion at that university? This would encourage research and training in matters relating to the provision of future energy supply through solar and electrochemical sources.
– Order! Do not give information.
– Is the Minister aware that Flinders University is seeking $5m to support an initial research program? Will the Minister consult his colleague in another place with the object of providing Commonwealth finance to assist this important work which could be vital to Australia’s future energy requirements?
Minister representing the Minister for Education I can tell the honourable senator that I saw in this morning’s paper the report which was attributed to Professor Watson-Munro. I am unaware of the other matters to which the honourable senator has directed my attention. I feel that the matter is more the responsibility of the Minister for Science than of the Minister for Education, and I will see that the contents of the honourable senator’s question are referred to Mr Morrison, the Minister for Science, so that he can consider the matters raised by the honourable senator.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, relates to the current approach by the Australian Government to the International Court of Justice at The Hague concerning the French nuclear tests. In this the first legal approach by any Australian Government to the International Court? Does the Australian Government fully accept the jurisdiction of that Court? If so. does the Government accept that it will be bound without qualification by any future decisions of the International Court which affect Australia, including, for example, a dispute on territorial waters and decisions which may adversely affect Australia?
– The honourable senator has asked extremely important questions about Australia’s relationship to the International Court of Justice. I would like to give a formal answer on a matter of such vast importance, and I will do that. I will treat the honourable senator’s question as being upon notice and will endeavour to give an answer to him tomorrow. Sometimes very simple questions raise great problems and deserve a considered answer. The honourable senator will receive one.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. In vie-w of the Minister’s advice to me yesterday that Senator Greenwood, Liberal, Victoria has been nominated for the delegation to China and Senator Maunsell., Country Party, Queensland, for the delegation to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as Opposition representatives of the Australian Parliament
– Order! Has information on this matter been given to the Senate?
– Yes. Lt appears in an answer to a question upon notice in Hansard.
– I just wanted to clear my mind on that.
– I ask the Minister: Will he take steps to inform the respective Governments of these 2 countries that the views expressed in this Parliament towards each country by these 2 senators are not the views of the present Federal Government?
– Order! I am just trying to consider how I should handle that question.
– I have some information in general terms. I do not think that either Senator Greenwood or Senator Maunsell would expect me to endorse their expressed views as being those of this Government. But on this whole question, when the trips were first mooted I had talks with the Ambassador of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and also with the Charge d’ Affairs of China. Because this is the first time that these fact finding missions - these winter trips as we term them - are to go to these 2 countries. I was at great pains to explain to the representatives of these 2 countries not only that this was not a Government delegation but also that there was a responsibility on all parties to select members to go to these countries.
This is not directed at any of the members who are to comprise the delegations, particularly the 2 senators named, but I also explained to the representatives of these 2 countries that the members of the delegations are not necessarily senior people in their own parties. In fact, on many occasions when we vote in our party rooms our vote is based on all sorts of reasons. As 1 have said, because this is the first time that we will send delegations to these 2 countries, I explained very carefully to the representatives of these 2 countries that the delegations were not in any way Government delegations and that the members of the delegations would not necessarily be expressing the views of their own parties. I explained that they would be general fact finding missions which the previous Australian Government and the present one believed are of tremendous value. We have been sending delegations to various countries for a long time, and we are happy to send delegations to these 2 countries on this occasion.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Prime Minister on 13 th March, in answer to a question on rural finance, state that a submission from the Minister for Primary Industry and the Treasurer was before Cabinet and that he expected a result within a week? Did the Prime Minister, in answer to a question on the same subject yesterday, state that the matter was still before Cabinet? Has the Minister seen a report in today’s Press that Government sources explained that the question had been delayed because of improving liquidity in the rural sector and the pressure of other business? I ask the Minister: Does this reflect the Government’s complete disregard for the rural sector, which was evident in the policy speech delivered before the election and the decisions that have been made since the election on 2nd’ December?
– I was not aware that it was evident in the policy speech of the then Leader of the Opposition that there was any indication of poor treatment of rural industry. My understanding is that according to the Opposition the alleged grandiose promises made before the election have not been fulfilled. So I do not quite see the consistency in what the honourable senator is saying. The fact is that no overt promises which could not be fulfilled were made.
As regards the question of rural finance, as the honourable senator will realise, this is not a problem which was solved adequately by the previous administration and it will not be solved easily by the present one. It is true that there is before Cabinet a submission relating to rural finance, and it is still the subject of discussion. I do not know that the Prime Minister said that a statement would be made within 7 days.
– It is in Hansard.
– Well, perhaps he did. But the fact is that it is still under discussion. I have not seen the newspaper report to which the honourable senator refers, but I am sure he would be the first to agree that the need does not exist today in the same strength as it did a year or two ago for various financial requirements of the rural sector. When a decision is taken in respect of this matter I will make an appropriate announcement.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security aware that many private nursing homes will be severely strained financially due to the national wage case decision of yesterday? Has the Government any plans to grant an immediate increase in approved nursing home fees to cover the increased costs?
– The honourable senator will be aware thai the national wage case decision was announced publicly only yesterday. I did hear a report - accurate or otherwise I cannot say - that the private nursing homes are expected to have to bear additional financial strain and they would be urging the Government to increase the subsidy awarded to them. Naturally, in the time that has passed since the decision was announced, the Minister for Social Security has not had the opportunity of completely investigating this matter. Doubtless, his Department will be asked to do so should an application for an increased subsidy be made by the private nursing homes and the outcome of such an investigation will be a matter for Government determination.
– 1 address my question to the Special Minister of State. Did Mr Li, the Finance Minister of Taiwan, accept an invitation to attend the forthcoming meeting of the Pacific Basin Economic Council? Did the Australian Government lay down conditions for Mr Li’s entry into Australia? Did Mr Li accept the conditions? Did the Government intervene in any way to prevent Mr Li from attending the meeting?
– Yes, I understand Mr Li was to attend the meeting of the Pacific Basin Economic Council. He would have been informed of those conditions that apply to anyone travelling from Taiwan to Australia; that is, that he would enter Australia in an unofficial capacity. This position was altered when Mr Sinclair, in another place, asked Mr Whitlam a question about Mr Li’s visit and mentioned that Mr Li was an official of the Taiwanese Government. This immediately made the issue a public one. The Government then anticipated that there would be complaints from the representatives of the People’s Republic of China. Those complaints did eventuate. The Government made it very clear to the Taiwanese, and it was mentioned in this Parliament, that visas would not be issued to people who came to Australia, representing themselves as part of the Government of Taiwan, but only to those who come in a private capacity. The Government then informed Mr Li that it would not issue a visa for his visit.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. 1 refer to the recent announcement of the Minister for Minerals and Energy and the Treasurer that it is the Government’s policy to withdraw the subsidies and tax concessions for petroleum and mineral exploration in Australia. I ask: Is it the intention of the Government to divert the savings of revenue thereby made towards the Government’s own announced mineral and petroleum exploration program? If it is not the intention to divert all the savings, how much of the savings, if any, are to be so diverted?
– I am not in a position to answer specifically the question which has been asked by the honourable senator and I shall refer it to the appropriate Minister.
– r ask the Minister for Works: Is it a fact that in 1971 the Australian Labor Parly Federal Conference announced that it would treat the construction of the standardised railway line from Port Augusta to Darwin as a matter of urgency? What is the state of the Government’s consideration of that project?
– The agreement on this railway was entered into by the. previous Government. I believe that plans are well in hand for the conversion of this railway line and the reconstruction of the railway line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. I have nol considered the matter for some time, but I will find out whether there is any further information that I can give to the honourable senator and let him know.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Labour subscribe to the glib theory put forward yesterday by the Minister for Labour that the increase of approximately $ 1,000m in the annual national wages bill can be absorbed by commerce and industry without increases in prices and service costs? If so, on what rational economic grounds can (his claim be sustained?
– The honourable senator, having read the judgment, would have noted that there was a rather remarkable affinity of opinion between those who took part in the application to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. There were no great protests from the employers, the unions or other sections of the community. This would seem to imply that most sections of the community affected by the increase are not complaining about it. There also was a report in the Press this morning that the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures is advocating that the increase should not necessarily be fed down the line in the form of price increases. Not having read precisely what Mr Cameron said, 1 think one would have to take his statement as an appeal to people not to transfer costs resulting from the. wage Increase where such action is not justified. We know as a matter of fact that industry has a capacity to meet additional costs, even in the form of wage increases, because of increasing mechanisation. The honourable senator’s question has to be looked at in the light of the fact, as it appears to me, that today most responsible people in the community are tending to conserve costs, if possible, rather than transferring them in anticipation of wage loading.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the latest Commonwealth loan announced for subscription carries a higher interest rate than previous loans. Does this not represent an abandonment of previously expressed Government policy that interest rates would be reduced? Can the Treasurer advise what effect this action will have in due course on the level of prices in general, the cost of government services, both State and Federal, and the cost of housing in particular?
– I shall refer the question to the Treasurer and seek the information for the honourable senator.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral believe that citizens of Australia have a right to believe that their civil rights and liberties should not be violated? Has he given any attention to 2 questions on the Senate notice paper which ask whether several of the persons who he suggested, in a statement to the Senate, were terrorists have in fact no charges laid against them in Australia? Will he, prior to going overseas, ensure that a matter as important as this receives his co-operation and prompt attention even though the answer may create temporary and serious embarrassment?
– I believe that the citizens of Australia ought to have their civil rights and that those civil rights ought not to be violated. Probably in the past, under the previous Administration, they often were violated; they certainly were not given to the full. I shall do my best to meet the wishes of the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence whether he can say when the first of the FI 1 1 aircraft will arrive in Australia. Is it a fact that the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, flew in an F1 1 1 aircraft when on a visit to the United States of America some time ago and that since then he has never really criticised the Fill? Will the Minister, as the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence, be making a flight in an Fill when the aircraft arrive in Australia in order to obtain a first hand impression of the features of this aircraft?
– All I can say in answer to the last part of the honourable senator’s question is that if I am given the opportunity I shall certainly fly in the aircraft. In this respect I am following the practice of the Minister for Defence. It is true that when Mr Barnard last visited the United States he flew in the aircraft. But in answer to questions asked by Senator Drake-Brockman I have made it clear that the Fill aircraft will take its place in the Royal Australian Air Force complement. The performance of the aircraft will be watched closely by the RAAF. Already there has been some criticism to the effect that the aircraft will not be used at its top performance when it comes to Australia. 1 only say that the RAAF will ensure that the aircraft is put to proper use in Australia. The crew will go through a training program to gain experience in the operation of the aircraft. In relation to the arrival date, the first ferry from the United States is expected to take place late this month. The expected date of arrival in Australia is 1st June. I shall check that date and confirm it with the Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to the recent annual report of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia which draws attention to the problems occasioned by the switch to single side band equipment. Is the Minister aware that the report, while acknowledging Commonwealth Government assistance for the establishment of bases, is concerned and regrets that the people of the inland must meet the very high cost of their own sets? Will the Minister examine this area of need which affects social, economic and educational matters and see whether any further assistance can be extended?
– I am unaware of the matters raised in the question posed to me by the honourable senator. Therefore I shall refer the matter to my colleague in another place and obtain an early reply for the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to a report in today’s Press that the Labor Party Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Kirk, intervened with a strongly worded speech at a party conference to kill proposals for recognising Hanoi and the Vietcong and for withdrawing recognition of Saigon. Is the Minister aware that the Labor Party Prime Minister of New Zealand also said that his country would not recognise North Vietnam until the ceasefire agreement was properly observed by the North? Is the Minister further aware that the New Zealand Labor Party Conference also rejected demands for withdrawal from overseas alliances, including SEATO, ANZUS, ASPAC and the Five-Power defence pact? Finally, will the Minister use his good offices to obtain 2 copies of Mr Kirk’s speech, one for myself and one for Mr Whitlam?
– Several of the matters which Senator Hannan has mentioned he saw in the Press were drawn to my attention. I, too, saw them in the Press myself, so we agree on that part of his question. But 1 am afraid that that is as far as we can agree because the cables which we are receiving from a very old friend of ours, our Ambassadress - I think that is the term - in New Zealand have not adverted to this matter up to this time.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation institute inquiries so that he can inform the Senate as soon as is reasonably possible of the fees and allowances being paid to the chairman, deputy chairman and members of the committee set up by the Australian Government and known as the Lake Pedder Committee of Inquiry? What staff and how many staff does the Committee employ? What office accommodation does it use? When is its report expected to be, given to the Minister, and will the contents of that report be made available to the Premier of Tasmania who is opposed to the inquiry?
– I can assure the honourable senator that .1 will take up the matter with the Minister for the. Environment and Conservation so that he can initiate inquiries. If he can give the information which the honourable senator seeks, and if it is advisable that it should be given to the Senate, L can assure the honourable senator that it will be made available.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State who represents the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to his answer to my earlier question about the Government’s attitude to the Note from the United States on the Hanoi violations of the ceasefire agreement and his own statement of the Government’s awareness of accusations by both the United States Government and the Hanoi Government of breaches of that agreement. 1 ask: Does the Government accept the specific and categorical denial of the accusations made by Hanoi which is contained in the United States Government’s Note7 If so, why is not that denial, together with the evidence of the many breaches by Hanoi of the ceasefire agreement, sufficient to persuade the Government to use its diplomatic influence with a government - the North Vietnamese Government - with which it claims to have friendly relations?
– I am not in a position to say whether I agree categorically or disagree with the details of any Notes that pass between the 2 governments. When 1 said both sides I meant both sides in Vietnam. But that is not important; I just mention it. I have mentioned the attitude of the Australian Gov ernment. It seems that many people really do not want to see peace in the Indo-China scene. The Australian Government does. Wc believe that at this stage, when fighting has stopped and there is at least some basis on which they can proceed, the 2 sides should be allowed to proceed. We have no official position in relation to that, as I have explained several times, and Senator Greenwood has agreed with me today in that regard. Our attitude at the present moment is that the best way to help peace in this area is to stay out of it at this time and to see whether the agreements can be made to work. If unfortunately the peace does not continue - it seems that would suit some people - the Australian Government will have to have a look at its stand in the light of what happens then.
– 1 direct a question to the Special Minister of State. If the Australian Government is genuinely trying to promote peace in that area, will it impose as a condition of aid being given to North Vietnam that North Vietnam ceases its aggressive tactics against Cambodia?
– A little while ago I referred to the helpful sort of suggestions one receives in a very delicate and very difficult situation. We have stated several times that aid will be given to people in the Indo-China theatre. Obviously it cannot be given at the moment in Khmer.
– -Because they are still fighting; that is why. The very simple explanation as to why we cannot give aid there is that it is fighting.
– Who is fighting?
– Never mind who is fighting, ft would be a bit silly pouring in aid when a country is at war. It is quite a ridiculous proposition. What 1 am saying is that if peace comes to that area the attitude of the Australian Government is that it will be concerned about the people - the people who will have to go into hospitals for the rest of their lives, the people who will be missing limbs and the people who have no shelter over their heads. We will not be concerned with the ideology of the government under which they live. That is the Government’s broad attitude towards the whole situation.
The question of aid has been built up under all sorts of parameters which 1 do not have to go into at the moment. The situation is that we will assist by giving aid to the people in that area when it is possible to do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. In view of a precedent established several years ago when Senator 0’Byrne and myself attended a forestry conference in Canberra will arrangements be made for interested senators to attend as observers a conference in Sydney in August which will discuss the merits of various types of railway sleepers?
– -J will confer with the Minister to see whether other honourable senators may attend the conference. I see no reason why they ought not.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry and follows an answer he gave mc earlier. Is it not a fact that threequarters of the stock exported live from Western Australia is destined for the Middle East which has been a very valuable market for many years and where there is no market for processed meat? Does the Minister realise that this market could be permanently lost through action now being enacted by him?
– 1 am unaware of any restrictions being placed on established suppliers of livestock from Western Australia or anywhere else. Hie case I referred to and the one to which I presume the honourable senator was alluding concerned a fresh application by a newcomer to the industry who apparently was desirous of capitalising on the present world price for livestock. There has not to my knowledge been any rejection of established suppliers in that trade. I will check this now that the honourable senator has raised it, and if any restriction has been imposed I will look into it to see why it was imposed. But certainly to my knowledge there has been no rejection of meat for established suppliers of livestock to the Middle East.
– I would like to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Can the Minister say whether there is any truth in a rumour currently circulating at Coober Pedy in South Australia that the Government intends to control the sale of opal and that Asian buyers may be excluded from purchasing Australian opals? Can he also say whether it is true that all opal in future will have to be cut in Australia and the sale of rough opal for export will be prohibited? Is the Minister aware that a large volume of opals is exported to Asian countries? If there is any truth in these rumours will he ask his colleague in another place to reconsider this step which could cause grave economic hardship to this valuable industry?
– I have no knowledge of this matter. I will have to refer it to the appropriate Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation. Will the Minister say whether any consideration has been given to enlarging both the buildings and the strips at Hobart Airport so that Boeing 707 and Douglas DC8 aircraft may land at Hobart direct from New Zealand and that visitors to Australia may visit Tasmania en route to the northern island?
– 1 promised Senator Rae 2 days ago that I would refer this matter to the Minister. Senator Rae has been asking continually about an international standard airport for Hobart. Accordingly, I forwarded the question to the Minister, but I have received no reply to date.
– I direct another question to the Special Minister of State, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I think that he misunderstood my previous question. He seemed to understand it as relating to a request for aid for Cambodia. My question was: If the Government is genuinely determined to try for peace in IndoChina, will it impose, as a condition of its decision to grant aid to North Vietnam, a requirement that country cease its aggressive activities against Cambodia?
– I was not confused as to the question. What I said was that the announced attitude of the Australian Government was that we would give atd to all of the 4 Indo-Chinese states. I pointed out that it was pretty impossible to give aid in Cambodia at the moment because the war there is continuing. I do not think that it is appropriate at this stage to deal with the question of whether we will impose this condition. I have said - I do not want to go over the matter again - that, in taking our attitude to people, we would not worry about the political colour of their governments. I do not think that even the United States of America, which is known for its attitudes on this matter, has ever yet linked this condition to aid. The whole question of aid is being looked at by many countries. When they deem it a proper time to move in, it will be a tremendously big aid job. Many more countries than Australia and the few others that come to mind readily will be involved. As far as 1 know, the United Stales has not linked its protests to the question of aid at the present time.
– J direct a further question to the Special Minister of State, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it not a fact that Mr Li was invited to attend the meeting of the Pacific Basin Economic Council in a personal and private capacity and that he was coming in this capacity, as mentioned by Mr Sinclair in his question to the Prime Minister? Will the Minister explain how the term ‘official’ was used - it is the expression that he used - and by whom? Does not his reply to my earlier question indicate subservience to the arrogant demands of the People’s Republic of China?
– Taking the last part of the question first, and ignoring its offensiveness, I state that my previous reply does not indicate subservience. This was a part of the agreement with the People’s Republic of China that was made clear in the Senate in answer to several questions. When we enter into an agreement with a country, we believe in keeping it. The honourable senator also asked who mentioned that Mr Li was an official. The answer is that Mr Sinclair mentioned it. He asked:
Is the Prime Minister aware of the very good work undertaken by the Pacific Basin Economic Council and’ that the sixth annual meeting of the Council is to be held in Sydney this month? Also, is he aware that Mr K. T. Li, the Minister for Finance for Taiwan-
He is the man who mentioned that Mr Li was an official.
– He did not say that Mr Li was an official.
– I have quoted to the honourable senator what Mr Sinclair said. It was his side of politics that brought this matter into the open and underlined the fact that this man was coming here and that he was an official. That is where the whole matter blew up.
– 1 direct, a question to the Special Minister of State, as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Again, it relates to this United States Note on the Hanoi violations of the ceasefire agreements. In relation to the hostilities stilt continuing in Indo-China, is the Government’s position that it should not take sides and that it should not be regarded as taking sides? If so, how does it sustain that position in the light of, on the one hand, the Prime Minister’s protest to the United States Government in January of this year about the United States bombing of North Vietnam and the particularly virulent statements of condemnation made by several Ministers of the Government at that time and, on the other hand, the complete silence of the Prime Minister and those same Ministers at this time in the face of the obvious North Vietnamese aggression in that area?
– At the time of the bombing, a time when we believed that peace should be brought about in the Indo-China states, the Prime Minister did protest to the President of the United States of America. At the same time the Canadian Parliament unanimously passed a motion condemning the bombing. So Australia was not the only country which condemned the bombing at that time. Senator Greenwood takes the line that because there is still not complete peace in the IndoChina states we should be protesting to somebody about what is happening. We are most anxious to do everything that in our considered judgment can be of assistance in bringing about a permanent peace in that area. The previous Government, after many years, at least started to withdraw Australian troops from the area. We will do whatever is possible which would, in our judgment, help to sustain the very tenuous peace existing in the region today. We certainly will not be goaded into doing something that might upset that peace by people who should think about the delicate situation in that area if they really want to see peace brought about.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. In view of the fact that the Government has a desire to assist in the provision of proper medical services and aid for the people of South East Asia affected by the Indo-China war, can the Minister state why the medical teams and medical aid formerly sent to South Vietnam have been withdrawn?
– I am not aware that they have been withdrawn. I pointed out in a debate the other night that last year under the previous Government $3. 02m in aid was given to South Vietnam. Some of that was in thu form of war materials. In the coming year that figure will be increased to $5. 5m.
– No. Of course it is nol all medical. If the honourable senator is trying to suggest that the Government is withdrawing aid from South Vietnam. 1 can tell him that that is not the case. As to whether the Government has withdrawn medical teams, I do not know the answer but I will find out for him and let him know.
– I ask the Special Minister of State: As the Government has ceased to recognise the Government of Taiwan, does it now regard Taiwan as an independent nation or as a territory of some nation? ls Australia still trading with Taiwan? Are passports and visas available for Australians to travel to Taiwan?
– .1 have answered this question several times. There is no restriction on unofficial travel between the 2 nations. Visas are available. We are trading with Taiwan. We do not recognise it as a separate country.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it not a fact that last Wednesday evening in this Parliament House 7 Ministers of the Federal Government, including the Minister for Overseas Trade, and a group of Australian Labor Party backbenchers entertained at dinner 6 delegates of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese?
– Order! I cannot accede to this form of questioning dealing with the private affairs inside Parliament House of members of Parliament and their guests, whoever they are. I cannot see that they are a subject for discussion inside the Parliament.
– I think it is outrageous that I cannot examine publicly the activities of the Minister for Overseas Trade and a visiting delegation from a communist country against whom we have been fighting until very recently.
– The hideous Standing Orders relating to questions are being constantly breached. Whether this is a question which relates to the Minister’s responsibility is open to question. However, the Minister may answer it if he wishes.
– To entertain a Vietcong delegation. That is his responsibility.
– And I, on behalf of the Senate, have entertained the VicePresident of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
– We are not asking as to your discretion.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: ls it not a fact that 4 days after such dinner the Federal Government decided that it would end controls over the export of hundreds of strategic items to communist countries and that the embargo on trade with North Vietnam had been lifted? Is there any nexus between the 2 events?
– The answer is: Not so far as I am aware. I should say, in amplification of what was said by the President, that it is common knowledge that many Ministers of the previous Administration and I suppose of this Administration have entertained delegations from various countries. They have had lunches and dinners with ambassadors from communist countries and from anti-communist countries. They include Prime Ministers. I think that if activities of this kind are to be subjected to questioning in the Senate it will make it very difficult to carry on the ordinary kind of intercourse which is necessary for a parliament to operate. The tendency to inquire into every activity of a Minister’s daily aff’airs is one which ought to be deprecated. I do not say that the honourable senator is doing that on this occasion, but there is a tendency by others to do it. The question having been asked, I would say that it does not come within the area of my ministerial’ responsibility.
– -Does the Minister representing the Minister for Tourism and Recreation accept that the Ayers Rock-Alice Springs area is an area of great potential for interstate and international tourism? If he does, will he impress upon his colleagues, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Works, the first-class importance of rating the road from Adelaide to Alice Springs as a national road requiring urgent construction?
– I recollect a number of my colleagues asking Senator Wright, when he was Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, whether he would have this work carried out. I certainly agree that the Ayers Rock-Alice Springs area is an area of great potential for tourism. 1 know that East-West Airlines Ltd in New South Wales is now running a service through Broken Hill to Alice Springs to take tourists from the eastern seaboard of Australia into the hinterland. Seeing that the previous Government apparently did nothing about the problem, I most certainly will refer the matter to my colleague the Minister for Tourism and Recreation to see whether he will discuss it with his colleague the Minister for Works.
– Is the
Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Western Australian Government is mounting a 3-pronged attack to fight the Federal Government’s plan to take con trol of the territorial sea beyond the low water mark of the Australian coastline? Is he further aware that Tasmania is attempting to have the matter put to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council? Does the opposition to the Bill in several States suggest that the Prime Minister, who said yesterday that he expected that only a handful of senators would oppose the Bill, is unconcerned about State rights or is totally unaware of the thinking in the States on this controversial matter?
– 1 think the Prime Minister is well aware of the political situation throughout the country. The fact that he is in his position of Prime Minister shows that he is more aware of the political situation in Australia than those whom he displaced. The question of control of the territorial seas and related matters are ultimately ones for judicial decision, if the declarations by this Parliament are not accepted on all hands. Those who care to contest the declarations may take whatever course seems appropriate to them. There are not only State rights, there may be Australian rights in this area. The former Administration apparently thought that there were. The Bill which is being proceeded with by the Government, together with a mining code, as I understand it, were introduced by the former Government and left in the House of Representatives. That is the statement which was made by the present Prime Minister. The proposal was announced in the Governor-General’s Speech, and the Prime Minister is proceeding to implement it.
If someone considers that the proper legal position has not been set out in the Bill, which we trust will become an Act, then it is for that person to take whatever course he might think fit. 1 should imagine that the Leader of the Australian Country Party, when he asked this question, simply was trying to stoke up some fires of antagonism between the Australian Government and the States with which we have very good relations. I would suggest to him that whatever he might think is in the interest of the Country Party, he ought not to be trying to stir up any more controversy than is necessary.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. By way of a brief preface I refer to the fact that there is a specially constructed ship which takes 2 loads of acid waste each day from Burnie and dumps it 7 miles off shore in Bass Strait. Can the Minister ascertain what present steps are being taken to investigate whether that dumping of acid waste is having any adverse effect on marine life in the area?
– I do not know whether that matter has been considered, but I will take up the question with the Minister to see whether I can obtain any information on the matter.
- Mr President, I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.
– I wish to inform the Senate that 1 have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate, the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate and Senator Townley notifying nominations to the Senate Estimates Committees. A list of the honourable senators nominated to those Committees has been distributed to honourable senators. It reads as follows:
Estimates Committee A
Senator James McClelland
Estimates Committee B
Estimates Committee C
Estimates Committee D
Estimates Committee E
Estimates Committee F
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That senators having been duly nominated in accordance with the resolution of the Senate be appointed members of the Estimates Committees.
– Order! The motion has been agreed to.
– I could not catch your eye before the question was put.
– Perhaps, Senator Murphy, you will move for the recision of your motion?
– No. I ask for leave to move a motion to amend the previous motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
In Estimates Committee E, delete ‘Senator Poyser’, insert ‘Senator McLaren’.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that it is my intention tomorrow to move:
That the sitting of the Senate be suspended from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to enable Estimates Committee A to sit in the Senate Chamber.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate, Notices of Motion 1 to 7 be postponed until the next day of sitting.
– Order! The motion has been carried. Senator Gair, you did not catch my eye. Do you wish to seek leave to move a motion?
– No. Mr President, pursuant to my contingent notice of motion, 1 move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Gair moving a motion relating to the order of business on the Notice Paper.
– Order! The question is-
– Mr President!
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, do you want me to call you before J put the question?
– I wish to ask what the motion is on which we are to vote?
T he PRESIDENT- Senator Gair has moved the contingent notice of motion standing in his name. Do you wish to address the Chair further on your motion, Senator Gair?
– 1 take this course, Mr President, really to suit the convenience of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, who I learn from the Press is to leave Australia in a few days to go to The Hague.
– I did not ask Senator Gair to take this course.
– No, 1 am not saying that. I do so out of consideration for Senator Murphy, in my characteristic solicitous manner. I am raising this question now so that we can proceed with the debate on the motion of which 1 gave notice yesterday.
– What is the motion?
– Order! I do not want to interrupt, but Senator Gair’s contingent notice of motion must be carried in order to enable him to proceed. 1 will put that question.
– He has asked for leave to move a motion, ls be now going to move -a motion?
– The position is that Senator Gair has a contingent notice of motion on the notice paper and he now moves a motion pursuant to that contingent notice of motion.
– The Standing Orders must be suspended.
– The’ Standing Orders have to be suspended and that requires a motion.
– To put things in order, I now move:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of General- Business, notice of motion No. 10, relating to the appointment of a select committee on the civil rights of migrant Australians.
– Order! That is not in order. I have not had an opportunity to put the contingent motion. I will now put the contingent motion.
– Mr President, the motion that has just been moved is not in order. The Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) said that pursuant to his contingent notice of motion he wanted leave to move a motion. He asked that he be permitted to move a motion; he has not moved a motion.
– I thought that Senator Gair had moved, pursuant to his contingent notice of motion, that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent him moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper. I thought, Mr President, that you had put that motion and that it had been carried and that Senator Cavanagh then raised a matter. As 1 understand the situation, Senator Gair does not need leave. L understand that the procedure is, if we go back to the placing of business, that he merely has to stand in his place and move pursuant to his contingent notice of motion. He does not need leave: he just moves that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended, etc., and that motion always has been regarded as a formality here and been carried. Then he would move the second motion relating to the postponement of intervening business. I thought that the first motion had been carried and that was when Senator Cavanagh interrupted.
– Order! The confusion began during the placing of business when I put Senator Murphy’s motion and it was carried. Senator Gair was slow in rising to his feet and I confess that I did not see him. He then sought a method of bringing on his own business by making reference to his contingent notice of motion. 1 would be grateful if the party leaders would come to some agreement so that we do not become involved in any higgling.
– I suggest that Senator Gair go back to square one and move pursuant to his contingent notice of motion.
– Would you so move, Senator Gair?
– Yes. 1 move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Gair moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians
– 1 move:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of general business, notice of motion No. 10, relating to the appointment of a select committee on civil rights of migrant Australians.
– Read out the whole thing so that we will know what you are talking about.
– J do not expect that honourable senators would want me to read .he motion as I read it verbatim yesterday. It is very lengthy and reading it would take up the time of the Senate.
– We are entitled to hear the terms of the motion.
– The motion is No. 10.
– There is no need to read it out. We are interested only in dealing with the question of postponement of intervening business.
– Before proceeding with my speech in support of the motion, 1 seek leave to make a few minor amendments to the motion.
– Read it out.
– All we are involved in at the moment is getting leave to postpone intervening business. It is not a matter of dealing with the substance of the motion at this stage. So the question is: ‘That the motion be agreed to’.
– Senator Gair is not speaking further in support of his motion?
– I rise on a point of order. I indicated that before proceeding to address myself to the motion I sought leave to make a few minor amendments.
– On the point of order, may I suggest to you, Mr President, that the stage has been reached where Senator Gair is now in effect moving that intervening business be postponed until after the consideration of his motion. In the ordinary course it is not for me to advise him as to what he might or might not do. The substance of the matter really is whether his business or the other business should now be proceeded with. We are not now discussing the merits of his motion.
– When Senator Gair ventured upon this matter of amendments there was an interjection by Senator Georges who wanted to clarify his mind on the question of whether intervening business should be postponed. Senator Gair said that he wished to make some amendments to the motion. Senator Georges properly wanted to be informed and wanted to know what these amendments were so that the Senate could decide whether intervening business should be postponed. Senator Gair was about to intimate the nature of the amendments when he was interrupted.
– The question before the Senate is that intervening business be postponed to enable Senator Gair’s motion to be dealt with. The question is: ‘That the motion be agreed to’.
– If Senator Gair does not wish to address himself further to the motion, I propose to speak to it. The Parliament is engaged in one of the heaviest legislative periods of its history. It has been announced that there is an extremely heavy legislative program. Literally dozens of Bills have yet to come from the other chamber to this chamber. There are Bills on the notice paper which have not been dealt with; there are measures which concern social services to be paid to the people of Australia, and I am informed by Senator Douglas McClelland that delay in the passage of those Bills will mean the payments will be paid later. We have Bills ready to be introduced into the Senate. I have a number of measures of some general importance to be introduced, one of which concerns implementation of the Montreal Convention on Hijacking. There are measures on war service homes and the Death Penalty Abolition Bill 1973 - and honourable senators ought to know that this is a measure of some importance and long awaited and that in fact a case within this very Territory is concerned with it. There is the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2), the Defence Service Homes Bill, the Housing Assistance Bill, the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2), the States Grants (Technical Training) Bill, extradition Bills and a great deal of other business which ought properly to be dealt with by this Senate.
The Government is engaged in this heavy program and what has happened here is that Senator Gair has brought in a motion under general business - and he is entitled to do that. A long-standing arrangement in this Senate provides that matters of general business are dealt with on Thursday nights; yet he comes here now on the Wednesday, presumably because the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, and seeks to interrupt the ordinary course of Government business in order to bring on this motion. It is not the first time that the Opposition Parties - the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party - have joined together in order to take over the Government business section of the program and insisted upon bringing on on some day when the proceedings are being broadcast business of their own such as this.
There is no warrant whatever for what is proposed to be done. It is so clear that there is no warrant that when repeatedly requested to advance some reason as to why this should be dealt with now rather than take its ordinary course on the Thursday night Senator Gair did not choose to make any argument at all in advance of this proposal being dealt with now. He said it was to be dealt with now in order to meet my convenience in some way. My convenience was not consulted at any stage. He did not ask me whether it was convenient for me that it be brought on now. Not the slightest endeavour was made to do that. If he has the slightest thought thai it concerns me because it refers in one section to the Attorney-General then I suggest that what he is endeavouring to do is to bring on something before I go away and to distract and impede the Minister in the course of his affairs by starting hearings by some kind of committee before I go overseas on what is the nation’s business. This is not the first time that this has been endeavoured to be clone by the Opposition Parties. Only a few weeks ago, I. remember, some motion was pulled on, again out of order, without any proper notice because at that time a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General was in progress in Sydney; and so I had to depart from Sydney and race back to Canberra at night in order to- deal with such a motion.
There is not the slightest reason why, if such a motion was thought to be brought properly before the Senate, it could not have been done weeks ago. Instead it has been held over until a day or two before I leave for overseas. What is the intention of this? Is the intention that some course of action be undertaken while I am overseas so that something concerning me might be inquired into? What else? Could not this motion wait until I return?
– How long will you be away?
– I expect to be away for a week or 10 days. I do not know whether I shall be away for 3 or 4 days or a fortnight. I cannot control what is to be done and any time that 1 am away will be spent on the nation’s business. Common sense and a proper regard for (he public affairs of this country ought to suggest that this motion should not have been attempted to be brought on in this way. I would ask that the Senate not deal with this motion in the way suggested but that it be dealt with in the ordinary course and that it ought to wait. If the only ground which the honourable senator has chosen to advance is my convenience - and that is what he suggests - then my convenience is that it ought not be dealt with now.
– I rise on the point that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has said that Senator Gair has no warrant for bringing on this matter and that common sense and proper regard would require him to put it off until the Leader of the Government returns from overseas. The Leader of the Government went through a variety of matters which would impress on the people of Australia that this Government was devoted to a very busy work program and that the Senate had heavy commitments. In the years that I have been in the Senate I have never seen such a light notice paper 4 weeks before the Senate is due to rise as is before the Senate at the moment. I do not deny that there may be in the House of Representatives some very important matters, lt is for the Government which has control of that place to get those matters from the House of Representatives into the Senate. The Government has apparently been unable to do so for if one looks at the notice paper one sees that very few Bills are before the Senate at this time; and 1 think that if one notes the comment that has been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) in writing on 3 occasions - and no newspaper so far as I know has taken this up and emphasised it - there is not this great work load in front of the Senate but that in fact there are Bills which the Government itself has sought to retain in the Senate instead of having them debated. In short, there is no heavy work program. The Government itself is attempting to put off debate of Bills in this Senate.
Let me emphasise this further by saying that Senator Murphy has moved this day that
Estimates Committee A shall sit in this chamber tomorrow between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. If ever an explanation was required from a Leader of the Government to this Senate about a heavy work program we should be told why one committee of Senators will sit in this House for 4 hours when at no previous stage have fewer than 2 committees, and sometimes 3, sat at the one time. This is a denial of the things, I believe, that the Leader of the Government has said. I believe that this Senate is not as busy as the Leader of the Government cares to indicate.
One might well say that, while Senator Murphy considers his jaunt to The Hague as a very important Government matter, we have excellent legal advice beyond that of Senator Murphy’s which may be going to The Hague if this matter is of national importance. One would be inclined to think that since Senator Murphy had approached France on nuclear tests and come back with the answer that he did, he would be prepared to let other than the Attorney-General of this country, who is a member of a House which is so particularly busy, as he says, go overseas for these 10 days. I speak not so much on that matter as on a matter on which I offer Senator Gair very great support. I refer to the civil rights of individuals and the matter that he, as the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, has attempted to emphasise here. Before the original statement on Croatian terrorism was made in the Senate, Senator Murphy - a man whom I respected when he was the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate - had always claimed that the Australian Labor Party stood up for the civil rights of individuals.
In my view, Senator Murphy a year ago made more statements about protecting the rights and liberties of individuals than did any other honourable senator. What do we find in his statement relating to Croatian terrorism, on which I prompted him while he was speaking? If honourable senators read his statement they will see that he named 8 individuals. Of those 8 individuals, I think that he indicated the charges that had been made against four of them in his statement. But it can be inferred, because he said nothing about the other 4 individuals other than to name them, that in fact no charges had been laid against them in Australia. Yet, as a protector of the civil rights of individuals in Australia, he chose to name them in the Senate as being terrorists. If ever the comment should have been made, as it was in another place, that a man should be ashamed of himself, it should have been made at that time. Senator Gair is attempting to have the facts made known. Am I correct in saying that Senator Murphy is very reluctant to have it known in the Senate whether the rights of those individuals were infringed in any way by him, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia?
– No one is denying that, lt is only a question of-
– I am very pleased that Senator Turnbull’s statement that nobody is denying that fact will appear in the Hansard record. I do not quite know in what context he is speaking. But I hold the view that Senator Murphy is not anxious to have it known whether any individuals were wronged in his statement to the Senate. On 12th April 1973 I placed on the notice paper a question that was directed to the Attorney-General. I do not think that he is ignorant of the situation
– 1 rise to order. Mr President, we are debating the order of business and not the merits of item No. 10 on the notice paper which subsequently will be called on for debate. I think that the debate is restricted to reasons why other business should be postponed for the purpose of giving Senator Gair an opportunity to move the motion contained in item No. 10. Honourable senators have no licence to debate the matters contained in it or to say what the implications may be.This will be done subsequently. I ask you, sir, to ask the honourable senator to stick to the matter which is before the Chair at the moment.
- -Senator Cavanagh has only anticipated me. I had been considering earlier whether Senator Webster was moving away from the subject matter of Senator Gair’s motion. Senator Webster, you must relate your remarks to Senator Gair’s motion that intervening business be postponed. I do not think that you can discuss the context of the motion on the notice paper.
– 1 bow to your ruling; but, Mr President, you can-
– Order! As long as the honourable senator connects his remarks to the motion, that is all right. He was doing that earlier, but now-
– Mr President, I noted that you gave Senator Murphy great scope in this matter-
– Order! Senator Webster, now you are beginning to move away from the subject matter under discussion, and Senator Cavanagh quite rightly has taken a point of order. All I am suggesting to you is that you come back to that matter and relate your remarks to the motion that intervening business be postponed.
– When Senator Murphy spoke he took some 8 minutes to go completely over the ambit of the great program that was before the Senate and the great-
– That related directly to the motion.
– T am relating my remarks to the program of the Government in attempting to say that I believe Senator Murphy was not speaking as correctly as he should have been when he said how busy the Senate is, how much work the Government has for the Senate and how, in fact, as he is about to go overseas he would wish to have this matter deferred for another 10 days. I believe that T am speaking to the point–
– The honourable senator is now, yes.
– Thank you very much, Mr President. I believe that I am speaking to the point when I say that on 12th April I placed on the notice paper a question which related to the matter on which Senator Gair has moved a motion, namely, to have the rights of individuals mentioned in the Croatian debate examined. Nobody could deny that I am tying up my comments with that proposition. I asked this question on 1 2th April 1973. I draw attention to the date because it is almost a month ago. Surely all honourable senators would think that a diligent Attorney-General would have given his attention in this busy time to clearing the names of such individuals. I asked this question:
– Mr President, I rise to order. Do the contents of this question have anything to do with the reason why we should proceed to discuss Senator Gair’s motion forthwith?
– I speak in the context of the busy program that we have before us. If Senator Murphy had wished to proceed with the business of the Senate, I have drawn attention to a question on which undoubtedly he must have had information in his mind when he spoke on the matter that Senator Gair is bringing before the Senate, and to Which he could have given mc an answer within a few days. Why has he failed to put forward that information? I tie up that, proposition with the fact that he is now going overseas and asking for a further deferment, of this matter. I support Senator Gair completely and l hope that the Opposition and even Government senators will give their support to the proposition that the motion on the notice paper requires debate at the present time.
– Honourable senators will be aware that I entered the Senate nearly 2 years ago last August. I had before the Senate, under the heading of ‘General Business’, a motion that, without any doubt, affects more than 40,000 Australians every year. I approached both the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition at that time to try to have that motion on death taxes brought forward. Try as 1 might, I had no chance whatever to do anything but have my motion take its place with the others under the heading of ‘General Business’. General Business is supposed to be discussed on Thursday evenings between 8 o’clock and ] 1 o’clock.
– 1 rise to order. Mr President, do the honourable senator’s remarks relate to the question under debate? I raise this point of order on the same ground as Senator Cavanagh raised his point of order on which you ruled a while ago.
- Senator Negus is only opening his remarks at the moment. 1 know th.it; he will get on to the matter at issue in a moment.
– I consider that Senator Gair’s motion should take its place with the others under the heading of ‘General Busi ness’ and be debated in its turn. It should not be given precedence over anything else. If my motion in relation to death taxes, which without doubt affected many people in Australia, had to wait its turn, this motion ought to wait its turn because it deals only with fiction and not with fact. Therefore, I say that in this case, without any doubt, honourable senators should allow the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) to do what he is supposed to be doing, namely, dealing with the placing of business in such a way as to enable us to debate Bills which are before the Parliament and that Senator Gair’s motion should take its place under General Business where it should be.
(4.50) - It is quite clear that the combined Opposition in this chamber - the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party - is deliberately setting out to frustrate the Government’s legislative program and to thwart the desires of the Australian people clearly expressed at the ballot box on 2 December last. It is becoming quite obvious that the sooner a Federal election is forced for both Houses of Parliament by the Government the better it will be for everyone because the Government’s legislative program in the Senate has been delayed for far too long by the combined Opposition engaging on a weekly basis and, when Senate is on the air, on a daily basis in a witch hunt of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy).
Let me answer some of the things which Senator Webster has said. First of all the honourable senator said that Senator Murphy asked for deferment of this matter now sought to be raised by Senator Gair, and of which Senator Gair gave notice only yesterday afternoon, for a period of 10 days until Senator Murphy returns from The Hague where he will represent Australia at the International Court of Justice to put Australia’s case against France’s desire to carry out nuclear experiments in the Pacific Ocean. The fact is that Senator Murphy has never sought deferment of this matter for a period of 10 days. All Senator Murphy has done is ask that the normal processes of the Senate take place this week, as they have taken place every week, because in the normal course of events General Business will be debated tomorrow night and Senator Gair may then move his motion. As I understand it, Senator
Murphy will be not only in Australia tomorrow night but in this Senate. Therefore, when Senator Webster says that Senator Murphy wants deferment of the matter for 10 days he is not right. And when Senator Gair says that he wants to move his motion at this stage to suit the convenience of Senator Murphy, he is not right. Senator Webster also referred to the Government’s legislative program now before the Senate.
– Why will only one Estimates Committee meet tomorrow?
– I will come to that later. If Senator Webster were to look at the notice paper he would see that at present there are 12 important pieces of legislation awaiting debate in the Senate. The Attorney-General has another 3 Bills that he wants to introduce today dealing with matters of great importance and matters for which the Labor Government was given a mandate to legislate by the people on 2nd December last. And if honourable senators opposite look at the House of Representatives notice paper they will see that already there are about 20 Bills to come from the House of Representatives to this chamber.
– Why have you not got on with the business earlier?
- Senator Durack has the audacity to ask why we have not got into this business earlier. We have not done so because every honourable senator in the Opposition has been wanting to embark on a witch hunt of the AttorneyGeneral. I think it is quite scandalous that the Opposition is engaging in this form of tactic at this stage in a deliberate attempt to impede the Government’s legislative program. In so doing the Opposition is deliberately withholding finance which will be made available under the Defence Service Homes Bill, assistance to workers under the Housing Assistance Bill and assistance under the States Grants (Universities) Bills that I introduced into this chamber yesterday. It is delaying debate on a has I of other matters on the notice paper which are awaiting attention and which should have been dealt with by now. Senator Webster asked a general question as to why only one Senate Estimates Committee will sit tomorrow. The simple fact of the matter is that a large number of honourable senators, certainly honourable senators from the Government side and possibly, if not probably, honourable senators from the Opposition side, has been complaining for far too long that with 2 or 3 Estimates Committees sitting at the one time they have been unable to attend all those committees, which they would otherwise have done had they not been sitting at the one time. The simple method to ensure that this does not happen again, bearing in mind that as only supplementary estimates are to be considered the sittings will be comparatively short, is to enable every honourable senator who wants to attend the Estimates Committees to do so by having the Committees sit seriatum
This attempt by Senator Gair, supported obviously by all members of the Opposition, to have this motion brought on is not only an attempt to get at Senator Murphy when this Senate is being broadcast - the matter can still proceed tomorrow night in the normal way when Senator Murphy will be here - but also a deliberate attempt to deprive the many hundreds of thousands of Australians of assistance which will be justly given to them and which they demanded by their vote on 2nd December. The Opposition is deliberately setting out to impede and frustrate the Government’s legislative program.
– We have now spent about 45 minutes debating something that is not of that much importance. I would like to answer a few matters that have been mentioned by the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). When I spoke in the Address-in-Reply debate I thought I made it quite clear that we on this side did not accept this nonsense about the so-called mandate of the Government to do what it likes. As I pointed out at that stage, the mere fact of some temporary electoral insanity in the 2 largest States should not affect the Senate, especially as my colleague, Senator Bonner, was returned to the Senate on the same day by the vote of the whole of Queensland. So let us put that argument aside.
As to the allegation that the Opposition is off on a witch hunt of the Attorney-General, if there is a witch hunt who started it? Did the Opposition start this whole business? Honourable senators will remember how the broadcasting day was re-arranged and how the whole of a Tuesday’s program was upset. So who started this exercise? Now the Government is whingeing because this matter has backfired in its face. It should be more manly about the proposition. I refer now to the reference to this massive legislative program. J have been issuing a weekly statistical bulletin on the Government’s performance. I know that the media have not taken any notice of it. It does not suit the media to do so because most of the media are still having a love affair wilh the Government. But that is changing. The polls do not agree with the media. It is rather interesting that we are getting all these challenges to go to an election. As far as I am concerned, we can go tomorrow or at any time the Government likes. I am not afraid of an election.
– Docs Mr Snedden agree with you?
– We are not afraid of an election. Do not let us have any of your huffing and puffing. Do not give us that sort of nonsense. J deal now with the comments about the Government’s massive legislative program. As of last Thursday we had sat for 21 days. Only 4 Bills were introduced into the Senate last week. As at last Thursday there were only 8 Government Bills on the Senate notice paper.
– Seven were introduced yesterday.
– There were only eight as at last Thursday, when we rose. Of those, three had been stood over at the Government’s request. I refer to the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill, the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill and the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill. The first two were in committee. The other was not debated, at the Government’s request. The Book Bounty Bill, which had had its second reading, could not be proceeded with in the Committee stage because the Government did not have advisers present to provide information in response to a question from an Opposition senator.
– That is not so. He asked for an opinion.
– He asked for an opinion, and the Government was not able to provide it. This is not frustration of the Government’s legislation. The Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, which is chaired by a Government senator. That Committee had requested further time to consider the Bill.
What is the situation as at today, 9th May? The Death Penalty Abolition Bill has been read a second time. It is now in Committee. The Book Bounty Bill is in Committee. The Commonwealth Electoral Bill has not yet come on for debate. I thought that the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill may have come on last night, but I understand that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop), who is in charge of the Bill, could not have been here, for quite proper reasons, to deal with it. I do not question the Minister’s reasons for not being here. The Housing Assistance Bill was introduced on 3rd May. Members of the Opposition expected the Defence Service Homes Bill to be introduced last Thursday. We would have been prepared to deal with it and to pass it then. I do not think the Government would expect the other Bills which were introduced yesterday to be introduced one day and to be passed the next. I mention in passing that 2 Bills were introduced and were passed yesterday. The Opposition is not here just to frustrate the Government’s legislation. Legislation to which we are not opposed has gone through.
– Then you admit that you are here to frustrate the Government’s legislation.
– Of course we are here to frustrate the Government if we can. That is the role of an Opposition.
– Then you admit it.
– Do not be silly about it. This business about taking up Government time-
– What about the Address-in-Reply? We will be old men when it is presented to the Governor-General.
– That is up to the Government. I am not in charge of the notice paper. I remind the Senate that we are in our seventh or eighth week of sitting. So far urgency motions have been moved on 2 Wednesdays only. I can recall that when we sat on the other side of the chamber Opposition urgency motions were almost a weekly event. I am not complaining about it. The Opposition was entitled to move them. Of course the Opposition should have moved them. But do not complain now, when we have had two in 7 or 8 weeks of sitting. We have not been taking up Wednesday after
Wednesday with urgency motions. We have been discussing other matters which have been far more interesting.
Government members have attempted to say that what Senator Gair wants to do today will frustrate the Government’s legislative program. Tomorrow being Thursday, 2 hours normally are set aside for debating Senate committee reports. As 1 understand the position, there are no reports which we on this side would wish to debate. Those 2 hours could be used for Government Business. If the Government wants the Estimates Committees to sit for 4 hours tomorrow afternoon, that is its business, and we do not quarrel with it. Quite frankly, if it had an urgent desire to pass Bills, they could be disposed of in the 4-hour period tomorrow afternoon. It is now 5 p.m. I do not know whether the House of Representatives will be sending across any more Bills today. Senator Murphy has indicated that he wishes to introduce 3 Bills. With due respect, I do not think that any of the Bills which are on the notice paper are of momentous importance. I rather get the impression that the objection to the motion is part of a propaganda warfare and an attempt to talk about the Government’s enormous and massive legislative program. Quite frankly, most of the Bills will serve only to boost the Government’s statistics. It would not matter if most of them were never introduced into this place. I fail to see how we are frustrating in any way the Government’s legislative program by supporting Senator Gair’s procedural motion.
– I oppose the motion moved by Senator Gair which obviously is being supported by the Opposition. As has been indicated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), there arc very important matters on the notice paper which should be dealt with very quickly. I refer to one in particular which received a passing mention by Senator Withers as a Bill of no importance. I refer to the Defence Service Homes Bill, which is a most important Bill. Its passage should bc expedited through the Senate as quickly as possible. All honourable senators have had representations in relation to it and have been asked when it will be passed by the Parliament. A person I know has lost the option to purchase a home because the home has been sold to somebody else. We have an opportunity to pass that Bill today, I would think, if the Opposition were prepared to debate it and not to have the debate adjourned as is the usual procedure.
– We will deal with that Bill whenever the Government is ready.
– We are ready now, if you vote against Senator Gair’s motion. Despite what Senator Withers might say about this matter, there are 12 Government Bills on the notice paper. They will have to be passed to clear the way for the large number of Bills that will come from the House of Representatives.
The real reason for this manoeuvre today is that the Opposition wants to have the matter debated while the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast. The matter is a continuation of the persecution of the Leader of the Government. It is as dead as the dodo so far as the media and the public are concerned. It is dead fish. As I said yesterday, the motion calls for the setting up of a kangaroo court. That is by the way. I am infringing the Standing Orders by referring to that aspect of the matter. If we continue to allow Government Business to be taken away from the Government on each Wednesday for the purpose of getting General Business before the Senate, something which never happened during our period in Opposition will happen. The Opposition will have 2 bites of the cherry in relation to General Business because it will be brought on on a Wednesday and on a Thursday night as well. If honourable senators opposite believe that it is so important to have General Business on a Wednesday, why did not they move at the start of this session amendments to hours of business of the Senate? General Business could have been debated on Wednesday evenings. The Opposition is getting 2 bites of the cherry. It is doing this and it is holding up legislation which should be passed by the Senate so that further legislation can be processed to the Senate 1 say to all the people who are waiting lor a war service homes loan, to all the people in Victoria and other places who are waiting for the Commonwealth to provide assistance to the States to enable the States to construct Housing Commission homes for rental purposes and to all people who will receive increased benefits under the various social service Bills and other Bills of importance which have been presented to the Parliament, that the people who are basically to blame for the delay in these Bills being passed, despite what honourable senators opposite might say in this debate, are the persons who are deliberately frustrating the Government’s program. They arc deliberately doing it for the purpose of trying to bait us into a position that we will certainly accept. The people will know, both now and when the election is held, the reason why the action has been taken. The answer will be loud and clear when an opportunity is given to the people to stop the Government being frustrated on matters for which it has a mandate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I call Senator Cavanagh.
– Mr Deputy President–
– Oh, Mr Deputy President!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I am sorry, 1 did not see Senator Byrne rise.
– I am prepared to yield.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Cavanagh was called but he is prepared to yield. I did not see Senator Byrne. 1 now call Senator Byrne by virtue of Senator Cavanagh’s courtesy.
– If Senator Cavanagh got the call and he is prepared to yield to me, I would be happy to accept the yield.
-I have yielded.
– I appreciate that from the honourable senator. I think that Senator Withers has conclusively and with great finality answered the argument that the interruption of the procedures of the business of this chamber by this motion will gravely impede the processing of legislation. I think that that argument has been so conclusively answered that it requires no further comment.
I am interested to present to the Senate - and I think it should be presented - the justification for the action which has been taken by Senator Gair at the instance of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The matters contained in notice of motion No. 10 deal fundamentally with the question of civil rights of a major section of our community. These people are now Australian citizens who have come from other countries, from Europe - and their names are mentioned.
They include Croats, Serbs, Montenegrans and others.
– You have added several groups that are not involved, senator.
– We have mentioned a number of migrant groups who are gravely concerned about their position in this community because of the possible trespass on their civil rights. Any suggestion that this is only a witch hunt after the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) is discounted by the terms of the motion which obviously is directed at protecting
– Mr Deputy President. I raise the same point of order as I raised when Senator Webster was speaking. The motion we are debating deals with the reasons why Government business should be postponed to enable notice of motion No. 10 to be considered. We are not permitted to discuss what is contained in notice of motion No. 10 unless we carry the motion which we are now considering. It is wrong for Senator Byrne to go into the question of the merit of the matters raised in notice of motion No. 10 which may come up for discussion if the motion which we are debating is carried.
– Mr Deputy President. I accept the intervention of Senator Cavanagh. I was merely illustrating that this is a civil rights matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Cavanagh’s point of order is related to one which was taken earlier. I think that all speakers in this debate should try to relate their remarks very directly to the motion, which is that intervening business be postponed until after the consideration of notice of motion No. 10. I trust that you will do that, Senator Byrne.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. That is what I had intended to do. I accept Senator Cavanagh’s intervention. The point I make is that the question of civil rights is an extremely important one. It has always loomed large in the considerations and in the public utterances of the AttorneyGeneral and of Senator Cavanagh and of many honourable senators who sit behind them. In this place and outside of it they have always been protesting about the importance of the adequate and proper protection of civil rights under the law. That being so, obviously this is a matter which is to them, as it is to us and as it should be to all Australians, a matter of very great urgency. If there is some suggestion that civil rights have been impugned, attacked or assaulted, then civil rights must be protected. Our justification for putting aside all other business in order to enable this motion to come forward is on that basis, that it is important that as early as possible an investigation should be held to ascertain whether civil rights have been trespassed upon, to what extent they should be protected and the methods that should be adopted to achieve that protection. That is the basis of the urgency which we attach to this motion which we say justifies the laying aside of other business to enable notice of motion No. 10 to be debated. In fairness, I think that honourable senators who have protested about the question of civil rights would not deny the validity of that proposition. Therefore, I present it to this chamber with very great confidence that at least that proposition will be accepted.
Senator Gair in the early stages of this debate said that he was accommodating an early presentation of this motion to the convenience of Senator Murphy who finds himself faced with important business of an international character concerning Australia before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. That intervention by Senator Murphy at The Hague, I suppose in Senator Murphy’s connotation, is essentially a question of civil rights. At least, that is Senator Murphy’s connotation. It is a question of civil rights-
– What about other people?
– 1 am merely taking Senator Murphy’s mental attitude. That is Senator Murphy’s assessment of the trespass upon the individual rights of Australians and of the people in the Pacific community. That is his presentation and his proposition. We say that here is another case, an immediate case, where we allege that civil rights have been trespassed upon. Civil rights must be declared, they must be defined and they must be protected. Therefore, I would have expected that contrary to Senator Murphy opposing our proposition, he would have been the first to say: ‘Of course, I am going over to The Hague on this very question of theassertion and protection of civil rights. They are being attacked in Australia, and I will be the first to see that there is an early investigation to ensure that civil rights are protected and defined.’
– But Senator Murphy says that you can do it tomorrow night in the normal process.
– Every day is important; every -day is urgent. These inquiries do not get under way at a moment’s notice; they take time. That, I would say, is the proposition which we thought would have found acceptance and enthusiastic support in honourable senators who sit behind the AttorneyGeneral.
What has been the position in Australia? We have had migrant communities claiming that their rights have been attacked. They have lodged affidavits which have been tabled in this chamber. Today these people are living in a condition of fear lest the knock on the door come again. There is in their minds a tremendous urgency about this matter which justifies protection by their parliamentary representatives at the first possible opportunity. If we were to lay aside this investigation for a day longer than is necessary - much less a week or a fortnight - we would be recreant to the trust that these people have placed in us. They have come to Australia from societies which are autocratic in nature and context - societies of which terror has been a part.
These communities have come here because we were a free democratic country. They have looked for the very things that we want to give them - the protection of the law and immunity from trespass by people who unlawfully try to interfere with their freedom, their liberty, their privacy and their person. If this Parliament falls down in this context, it would be a grave blow to the confidence of these people who have reposed their whole lives and futures in the very democratic processes which we now want to operate on their behalf.
Senator Murphy rightly claims that he is going to The Hague on a matter of state. We all concede that. It is a most important matter to which Senator Murphy gives particular significance. But the question which we want to discuss is a matter of state. It is the matter of the protection of Australian citizens in this country, lt is as vital as. if not more vital than, the protection of Australian citizens from atomic fallout or anything else. This is the protection of Australian citizens from trespass by their own people in this country at the instance of forces which cannot be accepted, much less tolerated in Australia.
As Senator Murphy has said, he expects to be away for 10 days. We know the processes of this Parliament. If this motion is carried, the committee would be established while Senator Murphy was here. Notice of motion No. 10 refers to the type and composition of the committee. We know that in the ordinary processes of formally setting up the committee, a great deal of time would be taken in creating the administrative structure before any steps were taken which would go to the heart of the matter. Therefore, if Senator Murphy is to be away for 10 days only his absence cannot in any way be prejudicial to any part that he may wish to play in the operation of this committee or in the presentation of any evidence or propositions that he would wish on his behalf to be submitted to, or personally to place before, those conducting the inquiry. So, I cannot see that there could be any prejudice whatsoever in the appointment of this committee immediately and nominating members to it forthwith so that work can commence on setting up the administrative structure necessary for its operation. This can be done prior to the return to Australia of Senator Murphy following his presentation of Australia’s case to the International Court of Justice..
Senator Murphy said , if he did not, it was said on his behalf , that the matter to be referred to the committee is complex and covers a large area and that it will take time to assemble the material and to master all the facts. No matter has been more thoroughly canvassed than this topic and no more detailed brief has been presented in this place than the documents tabled and the ministerial statement delivered on the existence of the Croatian movement in Australia. The information which was collected by the AttorneyGeneral was massive and detailed. I would imagine that Senator Murphy already would be in possession, without further study, of all the information that he or his Department would require for any presentation which might be made before this committee. Therefore, I cannot see that his absence from Australia for 10 days would impede in any way or render unfair or unjust the establishment and the early operation of this committee in that period.
This is a matter of civil rights. Urgency is associated with those civil rights. The Senate has an obligation to a tremendous number of people - perhaps one million Australians - who feel that their rights are being impeded. According to affidavits, some of them are going in terror. Surely the proposition must appeal to everybody in this chamber that this Parliament above all institutions or authorities should move as quickly as possible to assert the rights of those people, to defend them and, where those rights are uncertain, to define them. 1 would imagine that in relation to any investigation of civil rights we would have received the enthusiastic, immediate and unanimous support of all members of this Senate. I am gravely concerned to find that that support “jas not been forthcoming. The only reference proposed in this inquiry to ASIO concerns the circumstances surrounding and relevant to the Attorney-General’s actions in March 1973 and that goes to whether a case was available on which to base those actions.
– 1 rise on that point-
– I will not pursue that line. I mentioned that only to indicate what significance this matter would play in the inquiry. If Senator Cavanagh does not wish to hear the degree of emphasis I give to it, that is a matter for him. The Australian Democratic Labor Party makes no apology for sponsoring this motion. The matter has already been adequately canvassed in this debate. Senator Murphy has put his case completely and as he wanted to put it to the chamber. Speakers have been heard from both sides of the House. The issues are clear and have been defined. It is, I believe, the opinion of the Senate that a committee should be established in the form and with the terms of reference which have been proposed. For those reasons, I move:
That the question be now put. (Honourable senators interjecting)-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! There can be no debate on this motion.
– 1 wish to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Cavanagh, please resume your- seat.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia - Minister for Works) - 1 wish to say only that ] yielded to 2 honourable senators, despite the fact that I had the call and the opportunity was available to me to speak. Senator Byrne expressed appreciation of the fact that 1 yielded to him. 1 yielded to the honourable senator and he made statements to which 1 think 1 should reply. But having given him the opportunity to speak, 1 find that Senator Byrne seeks to use the numbers supporting him for the purpose of abusing my generosity and so that I- cannot speak in the debate.
– 1 ask for leave to make a statement on a matter to which 1 will be unable to reply because the gag has been moved.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The Chair has a request from Senator Mulvihill.
– Perhaps what .1 wish to say may anticipate what Senator Mulvihill wishes to say. In those circumstances, will you allow me to speak?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I called Senator Mulvihill who sought leave to make a statement. Leave will, be granted to you, Senator Mulvihill, I take it-
– May I-
Government senators - Sit down!
– I was indicating to Senator Mulvihill-
– Withdraw your gag motion and you will gel leave.
– I am indicating to Senator Mulvihill-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! No question as to leave has been put. Senator Mulvihill rose to seek leave. In the circumstances, I cannot see Senator Byrne. I call Senator Mulvihill.
– The only reason why I rise is that in the discussion that emerged earlier, wittingly or unwittingly-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Mulvihill, are you seeking leave to make a statement?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I enter the debate simply to point out that, with respect to the reference to ethnic groups and the alleged vital importance of this issue, the fact of the matter is that a delegation comprising Messrs Cujes, Alagich, Bizjak, Dezlin, Kosovich and Spiciar, saw the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) and me. That delegation sought a pledge that the Crimes Act would be amended during this session. A Bill with that purpose is on the stocks and it will be one of the measures that we will wish to see speedily passed. Consequently, the longer that the Government’s legislative program is delayed, the longer will this necessary action be put off.
On 1st June and 16th July various immigration committees are to meet in Melbourne and in Sydney to deal with alleged or possibly reasonable areas of discrimination. The first point that I wish to make is that amendments to the Crimes Act are much more important to the Yugoslav community. Secondly, the immigration committees, to which I have referred, are in existence already, are available to consider these matters and their services will be utilised in this field. The specific argument that I wish to convey to Senator Webster and particularly to Senator Durack from Western Australia is that, while the Senate remains in session, a number of honourable senators are unable to deal with the unsavoury mining companies in Western Australia that have welshed on 8 Yugoslavs for 12 months. Those Yugoslavs have not received their wages. lt is far more important to achieve political emancipation through the passage of amendments to improve the Crimes Act and to regain withheld wages from spiv mining companies than to establish the proposed committee. At the moment, we are being denied the opportunity to get to those mining companies. In the final analysis, I recall what several former Government senators have said to me. It was to this effect: ‘When you are in government, not all the work is done in the parliamentary chamber. Work is done to arrange deputations to Ministers and to deal with kindred subjects’. On the same issue, the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) and a number of back bench senators, including Senator Georges and me, have been agitating with the Greek Government concerning certain Greek migrants and moneys which have been unnecessarily held up. It is issues such as these that we wish to ventilate.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Is leave granted?
– No. Withdraw the gag first.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Is leave granted?
– I object to leave being granted.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- As an objection has been taken leave is not granted.
Thatthe question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . -
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have found throughout my life that there is some reward for tolerance and kindness, but I realise that that is not the case in this place. I think it would be unknown in the history of parliaments to see something as filthy as what we have just seen. The mover of the motion knew what was intended. I gave someone an opportunity to speak and on the second occasion I yielded and gave Senator Byrne the opporunity of speaking before I did and he then moved the gag. i permitted him to speak and in doing so presented him with the opportunity of moving the gag. We have come to expect gentlemanly behaviour from the honourable senator and I think he fett embarrassed about the situation in which he found himself at that time. It was indicated in the course of voting that he was prepared to stand up and make a statement and withdraw his motion, but some senators on this side of the chamber were not prepared to let him try to expunge the filth with which he had covered himself in trying to make himself a hero.
– Mr President, I rise to a point of order. Is the language of the Minister, in referring to the conduct of Senator Byrne as being filthy and saying that Senator Byrne is covering himself with filth, in keeping with what is required in a chamber such as this?
– Order! I confess that I was discussing a matter with the Clerk. If I apply the Standing Orders rigorously I have to have the words that are complained of taken down in writing. I think that would be just inflaming the situation that exists at present. I am quite convinced that if Senator Cavanagh feels that he stepped over the line of parliamentary propriety he will make amends.
– I do not want to say anything offensive. I will withdraw anything that may be taken as offensive. I will leave it to the public to decide the question after reading the Hansard report. If there was any remorse on the part of the honourable senator and if he thought that he should cleanse himself, when the vote was being taken to take away from another senator the right to speak - that senator having presented him with the opportunity to move the gag - could have done something about it. His motion was That the question be now put’ and it denied to the senator who had yielded to him the right to speak.
Yielding to another speaker goes back to the procedure in the American Congress. The practice could be traced through history and
I do not think one would find that a member of any House of a democratic parliament had done anything resembling the unfair and filthy tactic we saw today on the part of someone from whom we expect better. This tactic is characteristic of the matter under debate. It was not my desire to speak in this debate - it is only a question of the order of business - until Senator Withers spoke. What he said would seem very logical and sound very reasonable if only his utterances were true. But when we come to the point and examine what Senator Withers said we find that the situation is not quite as he put it and as it may sound. What we have seen on this occasion is the brutality of numbers. Senator Gair moved that his item have precedence over every other matter. He did not justify the claim for precedence by speaking to the motion. He did not place any importance on his item or justify it before the Senate. We thought that, in desperation, Senator Byrne was getting up to do that. But we know that Senator Byrne was the only member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to speak and his purpose in speaking was to apply the gag. With the brutality of numbers and the unity of opposition which is occurring at the present time there is no need to give the reason or to justify the action. Logic does not matter to honourable senators opposite. It is a question of numbers. Until the recent vote the Opposition had the numbers. But there was more manhood in the Senate on the last Occasion than we saw displayed previously.
Let us look at the matter. Had the Democratic Labor Party spoken it would have had to justify some of its actions. But Senator Withers rose and said that it has been alleged that this matter was being brought on so that important business could be adjourned and so that there could be a witch hunt. But who started the witch hunt? This is Senator Withers’ statement. The implication Was that we had started the witch hunt. It is an admission that this is a continuation of the witch hunt. This is the very question. It has been claimed that this is a witch hunt. We have always said that the purpose of item 10 on the notice paper was to have a witch hunt. Senator Withers spoke in support of the motion.
– The honourable senator claims that it is a witch hunt, but who started the witch hunt?
– Well, there you are. There is no question that it is not a witch hunt. If someone else starts this witch hunt we are going to carry it on. The reason I have risen is to look at some of these important items that have been referred to. Senator Withers has said that there is only a small number of Bills on the notice paper. If it is not generally known it is at least known by honourable senators on this side of the chamber - it has been announced in Caucus and in the other place - that the reason why honourable members will have to curtail debate in the other place is that it is intended to introduce 68 Bills into that place during the remainder of this session. This is stated in the House of Representatives Hansard. Today in the other place there is a restriction on the industrial legislation. Tomorrow permission will be given to debate for 3i hours the controversial Bill dealing with abortion. Those 68 Bills must come before this chamber before we rise for the recess. At the present time we do not have a great number before us. We have the long and tortuous process of going through the Senate Estimates Committees. There has been difference of opinion over whether one or two Committees should sit. For the reasons given by Senator Douglas McClelland a decision has been made to have one Committee sit at a time. This is a system which I prefer because then there is not a multiplicity of meetings. A long process has to be gone through.
The Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech will have to be presented to the Governor-General at some stage. This matter must be debated in order to present the reply to the Governor-General. A few honourable senators have spoken on this matter on the few days it has been before the chamber. Such has been the speed of the program of this Government that there has been more urgent business. Another Bill relates to war service homes. I shall refer to this directly. There is the Bill dealing with the advance to the Senate for home loans and the matter of housing assistance. This Bill will make another $6. 5m available to the States to allow their building force to continue operations after June.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the dramatic suspension of the sitting for the dinner break I think we had got to a debate on the merits of Senator Gair’s motion. It would be well to review the position now. What we have under discussion is not notice of motion No. 10 under general business which proposes the setting up of a committee to examine the question of certain visits made by the Commonwealth Police to the homes of certain Croatian members of the community. The question before the Senate at the moment is whether we should adjourn other business for the purpose of debating Senator Gair’s motion, the terms of which are set out in notice of motion No. 10, to establish the committee.
Before the sitting was suspended I was trying to deal with some of the questions raised by Senator Withers in relation to this matter. He seemed to create the impression that the Government did not think its business was important, that there had been some waste of time and that there was not much business on the agenda. I was saying that the point was not the amount of business on the agenda but the quality of the items on the agenda or the need to treat some items as urgent. In voting on the motion presently before the Senate honourable senators must consider whether it is more important to examine the actions of the police on this particular night or to get on and deal with government business. The items of Government business on the notice paper have been recited by Senator Withers.
Before the suspension of the sitting 1 was dealing with the Housing Assistance Bill which provides for the allocation of another $6. 5m to the States for the purpose of keeping employed the building workers throughout the Commonwealth who, in the present circumstances, could not be employed continuously until the end of June because the money allocated for this purpose over the current 5-year period has run out. The provision of the money under this Bill is to ensure that Housing Commission constructions in the various States do not further decline and that there will be full employment in that section of the building industry up to the end of June. Also the additional allocation will provide essential rental homes for those on low incomes because one of the conditions of the allocation is that it be used to construct rental homes. Believing that the allocation would be approved, I think the States have prepared plans for the expenditure of this money which must be used by the end- of June. If we delay the matter much longer the States will be bard pressed to use the money allocated by the Commonwealth. Therefore, as a result of our vote tonight, we could well see unemployment in the home construction section of the building industry in the various States, and many of the people who otherwise would get rental homes will now be without them because of the action of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the support given by the united Opposition.
When I introduced the Housing Assistance Bill on 3rd May Senator Rae rose in his place to move the adjournment of the debate. He mentioned that he noted in the last paragraph of the second reading speech that the Government considered it important that this matter be dealt with urgently. He assured the Senate that he would not delay the passage of the Bill so that it could be passed through the Senate as quickly as possible. Now we find that the passage of the Bill has been delayed from 3rd May to 9th May; the Bill still has not yet been approved. So despite the assurances of Senator Rae there has been a delay, and the motion before the Senate this evening seeks to delay further the passage of that Bill. It ensures that the Bill will not come on for debate today. The Senate has been notified that the Estimates committees will be sitting tomorrow, and this will mean that another week will go by without the States getting the finance they need to continue home construction and which is provided for in the Housing Assistance Bill.
Let us look at the other legislation on the notice paper. Senator Withers said that the Defence Services Homes Bill was introduced into the Senate only yesterday and that it was late coming to this chamber; he said he expected it last week. Let me assure Senator Withers that I have been sitting on this Bill for some 2 days and officers of the Department have been here prepared to assist in ite passage, but I did not get the opportunity to introduce it and deliver the second reading speech.
– You were in charge of the business yesterday, and that is the only day we have mentioned that the Bill was brought here. Please stick to the truth when we are on the air.
- Senator Marriott makes wild accusations in relation to a matter about which he knows nothing. I was. in charge of the . Bill but 1 had that Bill here for 2 days.
– You must have been here on Sunday and Monday with it.
– No, I had the Bill here on Tuesday, and it could well be that I had it last Thursday and lack of opportunity prevented me from introducing it. When it was introduced into the Senate yesterday I was absent temporarily because the Bill was called on out of the order in which it was placed on the business paper circulated to honourable senators.
– That was your Leader’s fault. He was doing your work for you.
– It was not. We do nol want to apportion blame in relation to this; it was not my Leader’s fault. But my !temporary absence from the chamber did not prevent the motion for the second reading being moved on that occasion. That motion was moved. Whoever is at fault, the point is that under the provisions of this Bill a number of people for the first time will qualify for certain benefits, but they are being deprived of those benefits over a period of days because of the action that has been taken in the Senate today. There are those who will qualify for this benefit immediately the provisions of the Bill come into operation, but the accommodation which these people could purchase with a war service loan may or may not be available at the time the Parliament approves of the Bill. Therefore we have to consider whether this matter of setting up an inquiry into the police visits to homes is more important than immediately giving to those who have served in the armed forces the benefits which I believe the Senate is prepared to approve.
The Death Penalty Abolition Bill also is on the notice paper. That Bill has been before this chamber on 3 occasions, and on each occasion the Senate has shown that it is prepared to pass the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. Last night we passed the second reading stage and went into Committee. On previous occasions Senator Greenwood has always found some reason to delay the Senate taking a vote on this Bill.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. Can you advise the Senate why Senator Cavanagh’s powerful disputation is not being broadcast?
– Order! I wish to inform honourable senators that a minute after the Senate resumed after the dinner suspension I noticed that the signal lights which show whether or not the Senate is on the air indicated that it was not on the air. I sent the Usher of the Black Rod to make inquiries and he informs me that the Senate is being broadcast but that a fuse has blown in the lighting system. I just wish to add my own personal comment, that I hope no more fuses are blown here tonight.
- Mr President, you reassure me by saying that proceedings are being broadcast for I had thought that Senator Hannan had some difficulty hearing me and I was going to suggest that we might promote him to a position where he could hear me since it would be a shame if he missed the benefit of what I am saying about what the combined Opposition is attempting to do to prevent the people of Australia from receiving deserved benefits under Government legislation. I had said that on every occasion that the Senate has indicated its preparedness to abolish the death penalty in Australia some reason has been found to adjourn the debate on the question so that the expressed opinion of the Senate, including the question of referral to a special committee, would not be put into operation by legislation. Another debate which the Opposition seeks to adjourn is that on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2). It is expected that the Opposition will again unite to defeat this measure though everyone knows that to do so could possibly result in a double dissolution of the Australian Parliament. Tn a spirit of bravado-
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, the question of a double dissolution is not the matter of debate at present.
– 1 respect your ruling, Mr President, but 1 would have thought that what I said was pertinent to (he attempt by the Opposition to sidetrack the vital issues on the notice paper by introducing some extraneous matter such as Senator Gair desired to introduce and as has been done on a number of occasions. However, let me leave that matter and deal with the matter under debate. It has been stated that the visit to the homes of certain Croatians in Canberra was a breach of civil liberties and that we would be recreant to our trust if this was not examined and that it is the important thing. I am inclined to think that an attempt is being made to discredit Australia’s representative who is to present the case for the Australian people before the International Court of Justice against the French nuclear tests which will be held in the Pacific. The Government, the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party are all opposed to the French tests in the Pacific. I do not know whether the Australian Democratic Labor Party is opposed to them.
– I rise to a point of order. This afternoon I listened to Senator Cavanagh constantly raise points of order against other speakers on the basis that they were not addressing themselves to this question and you, Mr President, responded to his points of order in terms of whether or not the speakers were addressing themselves to the Bill. Senator Cavanagh has roamed at large in his speech on this procedural motion and raised matters which he has not in my submission connected to the purpose of this motion. When he talks about the French nuclear tests, 1 submit he ought to be faced with the challenge he was raising with other speakers and be required to address himself to the motion.
– I have already indicated to Senator Cavanagh that he must relate his remarks to the question before the Senate. But I go on to add that this is almost an epidemic in the Senate. Bearing that in mind I take your point of order, Senator Greenwood. I wish you would bear down on some of your colleagues.
– 1 rise to a point of order. The last 2 sentences that you, Mr President, allowed to fall from your distinguished consideration I submit so qualified that degree of control which should require the debate to be relevant to the motion as to make it prudent to reconsider them. I submit that the Standing Orders should govern this debate. On a motion as to whether one item of business should precede another, that procedural question should have addressed to it only arguments relevant to that point. I have sat for the last half an hour listening to Senator Cavanagh’s harangue in a feeble attempt to traverse the Government’s so-called program of legislation and it has a horrifying impact on the listeners to this debate. My point of order is that the Standing Orders entitle us to expect a command of relevance unqualified by any aspersions on this side of the chamber in response to Senator Greenwood.
– Order! Senator Wright, you have been a member-
– For a very long time.
– Yes, for a very long time. I have checked out in my mind on many occasions the question of relevance and sometimes I have come to the sad conclusion that the word ‘relevance’ can be defined only on the basis of ‘irrelevance’. I am constantly attempting to bring honourable senators back to the relevance of the matter that is in front of us but I am not entitled as Presiding Officer of this Senate to intervene in or interfere with the arguments put forward by an honourable senator who is on his feet until it is clearly distinguishable that his arguments are irrelevant to the subject matter before the Senate. I call Senator Cavanagh.
– No, 1 wish to speak to the point of order. I believe that Senator Wright has cast a grave reflection on the Chair and that he should not be permitted to do so. He should be required to withdraw. I think his manner was insolent and arrogant and, in effect, an insult to your position, Mr President.
– There is no substance in the point of order A Presiding Officer in the Senate can protect himself and the forms of the Senate provide him with the means of his own protection.
– Mr President, I try to carry out your directions, which I appreciate, on all occasions. Let me say to the Rip Van Winkles who have just awakened and who have not followed the debate, and especially to Senator Wright, since he said he had listened to me for the last half an hour, that the sitting was suspended before dinner. Apparently he had not woken until it was resumed for we have been reassembled for only 20 minutes. Let me tell Senator Greenwood that obviously at some time -this afternoon he was in slumber because I was trying to reply to the very statements that Senator Byrne had made in this debate. He attempted to justify the bringing on of this question on the ground that it would examine whether there had been a breach of rights of the individual or of civil liberties of certain Croatians. We had asked that it be delayed because the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) is to represent Australia before the International Court of Justice. However, that was Senator Byrne’s suggestion, and of course he stated that the question of civil rights is more important than any other. He even had the temerity to say that the alleged violation of the civil liberties of a few Croatians in Canberra was more important than the deaths that may occur from the explosion of nuclear devices in the Pacific.
– Why did you sack Professor Titterton?
– [ cannot stop to hear the explosions that may come from Senator Hannan from time to time. If I can get on to this question - I hope I am appealing to the responsible members of the Opposition - I point out that we have to consider in this question whether we should seek to set up a committee for the purpose of attempting to discredit our representative who will appear before the International Court of Justice simply because some honourable senators do not think that the deaths that may occur as a result of the French nuclear explosion in the Pacific are as important as the privacy of some Croatians which may have been invaded by the raid by Commonwealth police, on their homes on that particular night.
– -Order! In accordance with the practice and orders of the Senate the honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented by Senator Cavanagh when he, in effect, accused me of not having done what I offered to do in relation to the passage of the Housing Assistance Bill. I simply refer to the Senate Hansard at page 1304, where I am reported as saying:
The Opposition will do what it can to facilitate the early passage of the Bill. If there are any specific proposals, please let us know.
I add that we have received no proposals as to the re-listing of this Bill or any special treatment to be given to it. I reaffirm that the Opposition will do what it can to give a speedy passage to the Bill.
– We have heard quite a lot from the Australian Labor Party about the urgent matters that the Government has to bring before the Senate. Whilst the Senate has a duty to act as a States protection House, I feel that it has no right to become a continuous stumbling block to legislation that the Government, by its majority in the other House’ - no matter how small - has a right to implement. I feel that the Government should be allowed to deal with legislation that it deems fit to be dealt with, and with that in mind I can see no reason why the matter under discussion now cannot be dealt with on Thursday night, as is usual for General Business. In the setting up of any parliamentary committee I am in favour of slow, sensible and deliberate action. I do not feel that one day’s delay will alter the situation in the setting up of this committee. So, I will vote so that Government Business will be proceeded with. Earlier today we heard Senator Byrne move the gag. I voted against the gag at that time because of the situation that had arisen. But I now feel that this matter has been thrashed out thoroughly. I will not move the gag, but I will support such action now.
– Mr President-
– Mr President-
– Order! I call Senator Byrne.
Senator BYRNE (Queensland) - I rise to-
– Senator Byrne has spoken already.
– Order! Senator Byrne indicated that he would ask to be called in order to make a personal explanation on the ground that he had been misrepresented.
– Mr President-
– Order! I point out to you, Senator Georges, that Senator Byrne cannot do this until such time as the previous speaker has resumed his seat. Senator Byrne, who claims that he has been misrepresented, cannot be given the call until that situation has been reached. He sought to make this persona] explanation earlier. I now call Senator Byrne.
– I am indebted to you, Mr President. I do not want to impede Senator Georges or any other honourable senator. An unfortunate incident occurred before the suspension of the sitting of the Senate for dinner. It concerned my moving the motion That the question be now put’ at the end of a speech I delivered. Certain statements were made. I would like to put it on record that there was a misunderstanding. I think that I should make this personal explanation in fairness to myself because my personal integrity is involved. I am sure that honourable senators will bear with me. The matter involved a statement made by Senator Cavanagh following my motion ‘That the. question be now put’. Senator Mulvihill had risen earlier in the debate. I rose at the same time. Mr Deputy President, who was then in the chair, called me. My intention was to move the gag when I spoke. In view of that, I said to Senator Mulvihill: ‘In view of what I propose to say, I think that you should have the opportunity to speak’. In other words, I did not want to cut off Senator Mulvihill or any other honourable senator who wanted to speak. At that Stage I indicated very clearly by my conduct and words that I would not use the gag to impede an honourable senator who had risen to speak.
Subsequently, when Senator Cavanagh rose, 1 rose at the same time. Although I think that the call should have gone to an honourable senator on this side of the Senate, we both rose and the Deputy President saw and called Senator Cavanagh. 1 indicated to Senator Cavanagh that 1 wanted to speak. I said: ‘I will yield to you’, or something like that. Senator Cavanagh said that he would yield to me. I accepted that yield. At that stage I had in mind to move the gag, which I subsequently did. I went on with my speech and at the end of the speech I moved ‘That the quetion be now put’. At that stage I overlooked the fact that Senator Cavanagh had yielded to me.
– Why did you vote lor the gag?
– Order! Senator McLaren, an honourable senator who is making a personal explanation is entitled to be heard. I would be grateful if’ honourable senators would accord Senator Byrne the courtesies to which he is entitled when he feels that his personal integrity is involved.
– Of course, if I had recalled that Senator Cavanagh had yielded to me, not for one moment would 1 have attempted to resile from the arrangement that I had made with him in his ceding to me as I had ceded to Senator Mulvihill when, knowing that I would impede him, I deliberately allowed him to be given the call before me so thai he could speak before the question was put. However, I then spoke and I moved That the question be now put’. Then, of course, there were some protests from honourable senators on the Government benches and, not unexpectedly, from Senator Cavanagh in particular, who thought that there was a breach of faith. I can understand that. I then rose in my place. I proposed to withdraw the motion That the question be. now put’. I can do that only by leave of the Senate. I rose and said: 1 ask for leave to make a statement’. Perhaps I should have said: ‘I ask for leave to withdraw the motion’. There was a turmoil. It was obvious to everybody what I wanted and proposed to do, as it was even to an honourable senator who was outside the Senate chamber and who told me later that he heard me speak. But I was denied an opportunity to withdraw the motion That the question be now put’ which I had already moved. When the vote was taken it became a question of whether, in view of the denial to me of the opportunity to withdraw my motion, I was entitled to vote for it. I did that. At that stage I think I was perfectly entitled to do so, when I had made every attempt to withdraw the motion and leave had been refused to me. It was obvious-
– You sought leave to make a statement, not to withdraw the motion.
– 1 do not know what inspired the members of the Government Party to deny me leave. I think that it was fairly evident that my being granted leave would have entailed the withdrawal of the motion. I do not know why the Government did that. But, had I been allowed to speak as I wanted to, I would have withdrawn the motion in view of the fact that it would have been a breach of honour with Senator Cavanagh in the peculiar circumstances in which it arose. I want to put it on record that when I moved the gag I was at fault in the sense that I overlooked the fact that Senator Cavanagh, in a rather confused situation, had given me an opportunity to speak before he spoke. As soon as I adverted to that, I attempted to withdraw the motion. I attempted to get leave, which 1 had to do, in order to withdraw the motion, and leave was refused. In those circumstances I was perfectly entitled to vote as I did.
– Mr President, I rise to order. Senator Byrne was given the opportunity to make a personal explanation. I ask for your guidance, Mr President, as to whether he is entitled to debate the question instead of making a personal explanation.
– Order! The honourable senator is entitled to make a personal explanation. He is making a personal explanation now. Whether the Senate is satisfied with it is not for me to judge.
-I assure Senator Cant that it is not my intention to debate it. I have made my personal explanation. I merely wanted to place on record that there was no deliberate breach of faith on my part; it was an oversight. I attempted to rectify the position but unfortunately the opportunity was not given to me for one reason or another. I regret that that incident took place.
-I call Senator Bishop.
– Mr President
– When does an Opposition senator get a chance?
– When does an Opposit’on Liberal senator get the call?
– Order! I remind honourable senators that the calling of speakers is a matter for the President to decide. Senator Bishop came to me and asked me for an opportunity to speak. He rose before Senator Greenwood. I will not be instructed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as to how the Senate is to be run. I call Senator Bishop.
– I remind the Senate of what Senator Townley has said tonight because it seems to me to clarify the issues now before the Senate and what have been the issues since we came back after the election. Senator Townley said that he thought that a government, having been elected and having a mandate from the people of Australia, should have the carriage of the business of the Senate.
– You should get on with it instead of filibustering.
– There you are. The Opposition is so used to being in government that it cannot understand why the Labor Government, having been elected, should decide the order of the business of the Senate. What I am putting tonight is what I think is the crux of the issue. Senator Townley, a former Liberal Party member, said tonight that he accepted the proposition that in this place, because the Labor Party had been elected to government, the Government should have the responsibility of telling the Senate what is the Government business for the day. That seems to me to be not only reasonable but also the essence of democracy. In the general context, if a government is elected in another House but cannot carry through its policies in the Senate, obviously a minority of senators is frustrating the work of that government. That is the issue before us tonight.
As I have reminded the Senate on a number of occasions before, we have a situation in the Senate which we will have to face in the future and I am not now issuing any challenges in respect of a double dissolution. I simply remind the Senate and the people of Australia that there could be a circumstance in the future which would require the Australian people to decide whether they want a situation in which the Senate holds up legislation of the government which has been supported by the people. At this stage the Senate has to ask itself whether it wants to test its position with the Australian electorate. Up till now it is true that a number of important Bills have passed through the Senate but I remind honourable senators of what has taken place since we came back after the election. Amost immediately after the election the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) reported upon his investigations into the threats on the life of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and his own life. We then had for many weeks persistent questioning of the Leader of the Government in the Senate - questioning which continued for not only 2 hours on one occasion but all day on another. We had the Opposition parties in combination questioning the Leader of the Government about these matters.
– The same old questions.
– The same old questions. This happened every day as though Senator Murphy was in the witness box. These were the tactics, as some newspapers said, of the bullying lawyer.
– Order! Senator Bishop, you are straying from the matter under discussion.
– I accept your direction, Mr President–
– Hear, hear!
– Senator Greenwood, who has broken all the rules in the past–
– Of course he has. What he is trying to do tonight is take away from the Government the business of the Senate which should be in the hands of the Government. There are 16 Bills which should be dealt with at this stage and Senator Gair would have the opportunity on Thursday night to proceed with his motion.
– Tomorrow night.
– That is tomorrow night.
– How about the abolition of death duties which Senator Negus wants?
– The honourable senator knows that tomorrow night is for general business. Senator Murphy has already said that he would make sure that Senator Gair could proceed with his motion tomorrow night. There would be no obstruction from the Government which would prevent him discussing this matter then. Why is it urgent for it to be brought on tonight? It is brought on tonight in order to use the broadcasting time and somehow place another impediment in the way of the Government. It is another attempt by the group of Opposition parties to frustrate what the Government should be doing.
– It is engineering.
– Of course it is. As I pointed out before., the Senate has placed itself in a certain situation and let me remind the Senate of what has already been done here. Opposition senator*, have held up important Bills. There is the Defence Services Homes Bill, and many honourable senators have had people remind them about it and have cases before them concerning it. They have held up many other important Bills such as the Housing Assistance Bill. They have also decided that they cannot debate the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill which passed through the other place with no objection from Opposition members there. However, when it came to this place Opposition senators decided that it should go before a committee of the Senate, and that committee will not report until Thursday. So there is further frustration in that regard. In respect of the Bass Strait shipping services what did they do? Senator Wright, with the assistance of the minority parties, successfully moved a motion that the balance of power on the Senate Select Committee on Bass Strait Shipping Services should be held by the Opposition parties and not by the Government. Also in the motion to be moved by Senator Gair and argued later tonight the balance of power on the proposed committee will not be with the Government but with the Opposition parties, the Opposition parties representing a minority of the Australian electorate. How can a Government put up with this situation? This is not what was always done.
– We never did that to the previous Government.
– Of course not. As Senator Murphy reminds me, although we were an active Opposition we never denied the Government of the day the right to dominate committees and to select the chairmen. On no occasion was this done to the previous Government. However, on every occasion after the election, this minority group of 3 people - it is not a party, there are only 3 involved-
– Order! Senator Bishop, you are straying from the debate.
– I accept that there is some straying from the main argument but i; am trying to point out that what is happening in the Senate is an amalgamation of minority groups which do not represent the voice of the people.
– Order! That is still straying from the subject.
– lt is important in this place, and 1 think you will agree with me. Mr President, that the Government of the day be able to decide the business of the Senate.
– Especially in the lime allotted to Government business.
– Yes, of course. General business is something for which we on this side of the Parliament have fought. We have demanded, and achieved it in the main, that on Thursday night there should be time for matters other than Government business. We have spent the whole day under the influence of this minority group, arguing whether this day, which is usually a Government business day. should be used to debate what is not Government business. That is the issue on which 1 suggest Senator Townley has put his finger. This is a frustration of the work of government. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) in opening the case for the Opposition said exactly that. He said that the role of the Opposition is to frustrate the Government. That is not an accurate statement of the role of the Opposition. It is not the role of the Opposition in any democracy operating under the British system. The role of an Opposition should be to be constructive. It should be critical but it should also be constructive.
What we have had today is a continuation of what was started when this Parliament first sat after the election - a combination of minority parties which do not have the support of the people of Australia wanting to decide what the Senate shall do and wanting to take out of the hands of the Government in the Senate its power to introduce the legislation which it has been authorised by mandate of the Australian people to introduce. Honourable senators opposite can be supertechnical, but those are the issues. I suggest that Senator Townley has put his finger on the exact point. It must be clear to everybody, not only those who argue the point in this place but the people who are talking about it, what has been taking place. I shall deal now with Senator Byrne’s speech.
– You are just trying to waste time, that is all.
– Of course Senator Webster will talk all night when he starts. I deal now with what Senator Byrne said. He tried to explain why, after Senator Cavanagh yielded to him, he moved the gag. He tried to excuse his action. Whatever obtuse reasons he gave for moving the gag were completely exploded when, on the issue of whether the gag should be applied, he supported the gag by his vote. I think these issues are important. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber have issued a number of challenges about having a double dissolution. In the future there will be an occasion for the people of Australia to decide whether this sort of practice should continue. In previous days when Senator Murphy challenged the then Government - we had a very active Opposition then - we never denied (he Government
– Surely he never frustrated the Government.
– As Senator Webster will agree, Senator Murphy never denied the rights of the Government to dominate the committees or to ensure that it exercised control of the committees. Since we have been in government Senator Wright, who is now growling, last Thursday decided that the Opposition should have the weight of numbers and should dominate a committee.
– The Senate has been experiencing a delaying, filibustering exercise by members of the Government. As they have been speaking, they have been consistently blaming the Opposition for the delay which has been occurring. What are the facts? At about 4.30 this afternoon - I cannot recall the exact time - Senator Gair, as Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, moved a motion. The Senate is still debating it. He moved:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of General Business, notice of motion No. 10. relating to the appointment of a select committee on civil rights of migrant Australians.
The point at issue which Senator Gair would have the Senate deal with is the matter of appointing a select committee to look into the civil liberties of migrants. That issue would be given priority over other business. His motion is a procedural one. What had happened since he moved that motion? As I recall it, Senator Murphy, on behalf of the Government, opposed it. Senator Webster, who is the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in this place, supported it. I think there was another Labor opponent, and then the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) supported the motion. One would have thought that at that time or shortly after that time, on a procedural motion, the issues of whether the Senate wanted to deal with this matter now or to defer it until it until some later stage would have been clear in the minds of honourable senators. Was a vote taken? Not at all. These Labor Party members - these Government members - who have been talking about the alleged delay and frustration caused by the Opposition continued to talk. A member of the Democratic Labor Party who obviously was concerned about the substance of what his Party wanted to have discussed applied the gag. He moved:
That the question be now put.
That motion would have had the effect, if carried, of bringing the original motion to a vote and thereby resolving it immediately. What did Government members do? They voted against the motion. The Senate was divided equally because the Independent senators supported the Government. That left the matter still open for debate.
Since then for a period of approximately one hour we have beard a succession of Government speakers accusing the Opposition of frustrating the legislation of the Government.
It is a fact of which you, Mr President, will be aware, because your records will assist you, that I am the second Opposition speaker on this motion. The major amount of the time which has been taken up in the debate has been taken up by Government members. The statements which they have made defeat their arguments. While they are saying that the Opposition is delaying the business of the Senate, their statements and the length of time that they are taking to make these constant assertions without foundation or evidence are the cause of the delay.
What has happened over this period? 1 will repeat what has happened because I think it is important that it be repeated. The Leader of the Opposition said that if the Government looks at the legislative program which it has introduced in the Senate this year and at the performance of the Opposition in assisting the Government to get that legislation through, the Government has no cause for complaint. As Senator Withers pointed out, until the Easter recess 32 Bills had been introduced, and 26 had been passed. The balance had been deferred, except in one instance, at the request of the Government. That is not frustrating the Government’s legislative program, and that is what the record reveals irrespective of what Ministers may say.
What is the position of the Senate notice paper at the moment. There are 12 Bills on the notice paper. Five were introduced yesterday. Surely it is unreasonable to suppose that the Opposition should have given them a passage in the course of 24 hours. Two Bills were introduced last Thursday. They would have been dealt with if the Government had been prepared to give them priority yesterday or if the Government had indicated that it would give them priority today, the Opposition is entitled to argue fully, and to the extent that it wants, the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. We were prepared to debate the Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill and the Extradition (Foreign States) Bill, but at the request of the Government the Bills were deferred. We were prepared to debate the Book Bounty Bill, but because the Minister who was in charge of that Bill could not answer a question which Senator Wright of the Opposition asked, that Bill had to be deferred also. It is an absolute canard to suggest that the Government is being frustrated by an Opposition which is not prepared to give to the Government’s legislation the consideration which that legislation deserves, because the Opposition’s record demonstrates that it has met every reasonable request which has come from the Government. Any senator who has any doubts about that statement and who has a spark of objectivity about his approach will know that by an examination of the record.
What stage are we at now? Approximately 20 minutes ago Senator Townley, an Independent, who had previously opposed the motion that the question be now put said that surely the Senate is wasting its time dealing with this motion; let us get down to the important motion.
– No. He said that it should be debated on Thursday night.
– He said that he would prefer to have it debated tomorrow night, which is his right. Senator Negus, who has been waiting for ages to debate the Bill to abolish Federal estate duty, ought to know that it is General Business No. 1 for tomorrow night. Presumably he would want to have that Bill debated tomorrow night. That is a matter for individual senators. Senator Townley has his rights. Senator Negus has his rights. Government senators have their rights. Opposition senators, subject to the President, have their rights. If we are prepared to have this matter resolved sensibly so that we can vote upon the issue as to whether we will debate Government Business or General Business, the thing to do is to have a vote on this motion and let the numbers in the Senate determine the issue. As I said, about 20 minutes ago Senator Townley got up and said that if the gag was put again he would support it. Therefore, I propose to move the gag.
– I suggest to Government senators that if they really want to have this issue decided, then let the numbers determine it. But do not let us waste time on this nonsensical procedural motion. Accordingly, with the hope that Government supporters will not require a division on this, but that we will all get down to the simple issue and vote upon it, I move:
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority .. .. 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (SenatorGair’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . - . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Crimes Act 1914-1966 in relation to the Deportation of Persons from Australia.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave -I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to repeal those provisions of the Crimes Act 1914-1966 which permit Australian citizens to be deported from Australia. The Bill gives effect to the policy of the Australian Labor Party that naturalised Australians are to be treated for all purposes as Australians and are not to be liable to deportation or cancellation of citizenship except for substantial fraud in application for citizenship. The Crimes Act contains a number of provisions under which the AttorneyGeneral may order the deportation from Australia of a person not born in Australia. The provisions apply irrespective of whether the person against whom such an order is made is an Australian citizen or not. These provisions were inserted in the Crimes Act by the Bruce-Page Government in 1926. The Government has in recent weeks given a number of assurances that Australian citizens will not be deported. This Bill is the practical expression of those assurances.
I turn now to the detailed provisions of the Bill. The first 3 clauses deal with formal matters or consequential amendments. The substantive provisions are clauses 4, 5 and 6. Clauses 4 and 5 amend sections of the principal Act which empower the Attorney-General to order the deportation of a person convicted of an offence against those sections in a case where that person was not born in Australia. Clause 6 of the Bill repeals a number of sections of the principal Act. Section 30lempowers the Attorney-General to order the deportation of any person not born in Australia who is a member of a body of persons declared by the High Court or the Supreme Court of a State to be an unlawful association. The other sections to be repealed by clause 6 are machinery provisions relating to deportation under the Crimes Act. Clause 7 and the
Schedule to the Bill make a number of amendments to the text of the principal Act to bring that text into conformity with current drafting practice. They do not involve any changes of substance in the principal Act.
The provisions of the Migration Act relating to the deportation of aliens and persons who are in law regarded as migrants will continue to apply. Under the Migration Act a person may be deported only if he is a prohibited immigrant, he is an alien or a migrant who has been convicted of a serious offence or he is an alien or migrant whose conduct has been such that, in the opinion of the Minister for Immigration, he ought not to be allowed to remain in Australia. In this latter case, a person against whom a deportation order is to be made has a right of appeal to an independent commissioner and he may not bc deported unless the commissioner considers that the ground on which the deportation is proposed to be made has been established.
– ls the Commissioner a judicial officer?
– Yes, he is. 1 understood the honourable senator would be familiar with the provisions. If he looks them up he will find that the Commissioner is a judicial officer. The passage of the Bill will also give effect to many representations that have been made over the years by migrant organisations in Australia. I am confident that the Bill will be supported on all sides of the Senate and I commend it to honourable senators.
– The Opposition received a copy of the Bill only when Senator Murphy rose. Therefore, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to approve Ratification by Australia of the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, to give effect to that Convention and to provide for the Punishment of Unlawful Acts of the kinds dealt wilh by that Convention in certain circumstances in which that Convention does noi apply.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move:
The Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation was signed for Australia on 12th October 1972. Following ratification by the tenth signatory state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Convention came into force on 28th January 1973. This Bill, and the necessary amendments to the extradition Acts to which I shall refer later, will enable Australia to ratify the Convention.
Honourable senators will recall that the Montreal Convention is the third international convention in recent years dealing with the problem of the disruption of civil aviation by terrorism, hijacking, personal acts of violence and the destruction of or interference with aviation facilities. The other related conventions are the Tokyo Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, which was implemented by the Civil Aviation (Offenders on lnternatioal Aircraft) Act 1970, and the Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, which was implemented by the Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Act 1972.
Australia is one ot the world’s principal aviation nations and accordingly played its part in the formation of the Montreal Convention in 1971. The main purposes of the Bill are to approve ratification by Australia of the Convention, to make provisions in Australia for the offences created by the Convention, and to provide the necessary procedures with respect to the detention and custody of offenders and for their prosecution. There is also provision for the holding of a preliminary inquiry into the facts relating to the offences, as provided by Article 6 of the Convention, the findings of which are, under the Convention, to be reported to other interested parties.
The offences created by the Convention are enumerated in Article 1. As the English text of the Convention is set out in the Schedule to the Bill 1 need not detail those offences. It is, I think, sufficient to say that sub-clause 7(1) of the Bill, which creates the offence? for Australia, has adopted the language of the Convention in its entirety. At the same time, however, the opportunity has been taken to extend the scope of operation of the Bill beyond that of the Convention, where the interests of Australia are considered to require that extension. Accordingly, subclause 7(2) of the Bill applies to offences committed by Australian citizens anywhere in the world and to offences involving either Australian Government or visiting government aircraft. The Convention is, of course, confined to offences in relation to civil aviation only.
Article 3 of the Convention requires that the offences be made punishable by severe penalties. Sub-clause 7(3) accordingly provides that the 2 more serious offences carry penalties of imprisonment for 14 years and the other 3 offences penalties of imprisonment for 7 years. Those penalties are substantially the same as those provided in the Crimes (Aircraft) Act 1963.
The remaining provisions of the Bill create the necessary machinery for dealing with offenders. In view of the fact that the Montreal Convention is, except for the provisions creating the offences, identical in terms with the Hague Convention, the provisions of the present Bill are for all practical purposes the same as those of the Crimes (Hijacking of Aircraft) Act 1972. A further consequence of that identity of terms is that additional provisions will be required to implement the terms of Article 8 which permits the use of the Montreal Convention as a basis for extradition in appropriate cases. Amendments have therefore been prepared to the 2 extradition Bills now before the Senate and 1 propose to move the amendments when those Bills are further considered in Committee.
Diverting from the written text of my second reading speech, honourable senators will recall that about a week ago I had the extradition Bills deferred so that amendments might be made to include in them, and ultimately the Act, the necessary requirements to effectuate the provisions of this Convention, instead of having to come back at some later time and again amend the extradition Acts in order to give effect to the legislative requirements to implement this Convention.
– Therefore it was entirely unfair to imply, as some honourable senators did tonight, that those Bills were being frustrated by the Opposition, was it not?
– If one interpolates, as Senator Wright did, his very interruption shows how wrong he is. An attempt was made to divert the Government from its affairs, one of which was the introduction of this Bill. We wanted to carry on with the rest of the Government’s program. That program already has been interrupted by the events of today and no doubt further attempts will be made to interrupt the time ordinarily allotted for Government Business.
I return to the Bill. As honourable senators would expect, the amendments will be very similar to those made last year for the purpose of implementing the Hague Convention. This Bill will enable Australia to take a further important step in the protection of aviation in Australia and elsewhere. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– I tried, by interjection, to catch Senator Murphy’s attention, but apparently I am unsuccessful on occasions. I was seeking to ascertain whether the amendments which he said will be proposed to the extradition Bills are simply amendments to the Schedule, or whether they will be more extensive. 1 would appreciate it if he could take the opportunity to let me know that. Because this again is a Bill that we received only as the honourable senator rose to speak, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Can Senator Murphy answer my question?
– I am afraid I would be out of order if 1 did so. If we are able to continue with our business, I will deliver to the honourable senator a copy of the amendments which are proposed.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Marriage Act 1961-J966.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is a short one - to reduce the age at which a person may marry without parental consent from the present 21 years to 18 years. I am sure all honourable senators will agree that any person, male or female, over the age of 18 years should today be able to marry without the necessity of obtaining his or her parents’ consent. Social conditions have changed considerably even in the short period of 12 years since the Marriage Act 1961 was enacted by this Parliament. There has been a great acceptance by the community of the fact that persons in their late teens have sufficient maturity to be regarded as adults; not as old adults, thankfully - for that is a stage we reach all too soon - but as young adults with a capacity to make choices and decisions that not all older people have.
The acceptance by the community of the maturity of these young adults is perhaps a belated one, for it is now clear that the 18- year-olds of today are physically and psychologically much more advanced than ever before. There is no doubt that they are physically bigger, stronger and healthier. They take part in all kinds of activities at a younger age. They are better able to speak and write and are generally better educated than any previous generation. They stay at school longer and receive tertiary education in increasingly large numbers. We constantly see these young adults well able to hold their own in discussion with older people.
The age of 21 is, of course, the traditional age of adulthood. It is an historical age, flowing from the theory in medieval times that a man was not fully capable of bearing arms until he was 21 and also from the magical conjunction of the numbers 7 and 3. Australian soldiers have been successfully bearing arms in peace and war at age 18 for many years. If one needs a precedent for reducing the age at which consent to marry is required from 21 to 18, it is not necessary to go beyond Britain. A committee appointed by the Lord Chancellor in 1965 made a thorough inquiry into the age of majority and recommended in 1967 that the age of full legal capacity should be lowered to 18 years. The committee also recommended that the need for parental or court consent should cease at the age of 18 years. Part II of the report gives the following reasons in support of this conclusion:
We have concluded on every ground that it is not wise to demand parental consent to marriage past the age of 18. We can only end by saying that this is not because we think parents should never discourage their children’s marriages but because this is not the way to do it: Not because we think well of marriages made in defiance of parents but because we think the law now contributes to the defiance: Not because the family is too weak to use this weapon but because it is strong enough to do without it. … It is because good parents know that the way to help their sons and daughters of any age is to hold light with loose hands that we recommend removing the knuckleduster of the law.
Statutory effect has been given in England to the recommendations of this committee. There was no need for legislation on the subject for Scotland, where parental consent to marry has never. -been necessary for a minor over the age of 16’ years. The reduction in the age at which parental consent is required is effected by clause 3 of the Bill, which will make a person a ‘minor’ for the purposes of the Marriage Act only until he has attained the age of 18 years. The opportunity is being taken to make a number of useful amendments to the Act, regarded as necessary or desirable as a result of .10 years experience of the operation of the Act. They are for the most part of comparatively minor importance, and I can deal with them in Committee.
I would, however, refer now to the list of persons whose consents to marry will be required to the marriage of a minor. Although I have till now referred only to the consent of parents, the consents of other persons may be required in certain circumstances. The persons and circumstances are set out in the Schedule to the Act. Part I of the Schedule presently deals with legitimate children and Part II with illegitimate children. It is high time this legislative distinction was removed, and the Bill does this. Clause 13 substitutes a new Part I to take the place of the existing Parts I and II. There are some consequential changes of substance, in that the consent of the father of a child who is not married to the mother will now be required in certain circumstances. The most usual case where the putative father’s consent will be required is where the parents are living together. It will also be required where the mother is dead and the child is living with the father. The consent of guardians will not be required in as many cases as at present. As well as achieving the result of. removing the legislative distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children, the new table will, I believe, provide a set of conditions that will be more consonant with present day requirements.
Some honourable senators will recall that I introduced a Bill for this same purpose in 1968. The Senate, regrettably, was then unable to find time to debate it. I hope the good sense of honourable senators will now give this present Bill the speedy passage it deserves.I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– This Bill, along with others, has been introduced by leave. Of course, any honourable senator if he had the intention of frustration could have refused leave for these Bills to be introduced. That did not happen. But there has been no opportunity to give consideration to these measures. Indeed, they require full consideration. In those circumstances, having madea point which in the light of so much of what has been said earlier, has been disproved by the conduct of the Opposition tonight, I move:’
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1973.
-I seek leave to amend the text of my motion which reads as follows:
That a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon the following matters:
the unwarranted deprivation of liberty, privacy or good reputation; and, if so, what review or amendment of the law or administrative or judicial procedures is necessary or desirable;
That the Committee shall observe the following rules for the protection of witnesses:
receive and dispose of requests from such person to subpoena additional witnesses;
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted?
– What is the honourable senator doing? I ask him to tell us what the amendments are.
– I was about to do so. The alterations I desire to make are really minor. There are not many. The first amendment is to insert the words ‘Serbian community’ after the words ‘Australian Croatian community’ and before the words ‘Slovenian community’ which appear in paragraph 1 (b). The words to be inserted were inadvertently omitted from the typed copy whichI signed and laid on the table of the Senate yesterday. My second amendment is to leave out paragraphs 13 (d), 13 (h) and 15.
– What is that?
– If the honourable senator has a notice paper he will see the full motion of which I gave notice yesterday. We are leaving out paragraphs 13 (d), 13 (h) and 15.
– Paragraphs (d) and (h)?
– It is a pretty poor state of affairs when members of the Government–
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. It has been the practice in the Senate for amendments to be circulated under the name of the honourable senator wishing to move the amendment. I suggest that the Senate should be provided how with copies of the proposed amendments so that we can follow what the honourable senator has to put before us.
– I submit that the notice paper shows the notice of motion which I moved yesterday. These are only simple amendments. We are leaving out paragraphs 13 (d), 13 (h) and 15 entirely. If leave is refused–
– I wish to speak to the point of order.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Georges, are you raising a point of order?
– My point of order is in addition to the point of order raised by Senator O’Byrne, that these amendments should be circulated. In spite of what Senator Gair says, the amendments are considerable. For instance, there is a complete deletion of paragraph 13(d). This is a deletion of magnitude. I suspect that Senator Gair - and wisely so - has had second thoughts on thismatter.
– Then I think the honourable senator should be pleased about this.
– Senator Gair should not have put it in in the first place. This indicates how ill prepared Senator Gair and his Party are in bringing forward this motion. In order that we can clearly follow what the honourable senator intends to do with these amendments by way of deletion, I think that they should be circulated. 1 suggest that discussion of this matter be postponed until the amendments are circulated.
– Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I listened to what Senator Georges said under the guise of a point of order. With respect, it was not a point of order. It was a substantive rebuttal of a proposition put forward by Senator Gair. All I say is that whether there is substance in what Senator Georges said or in what Senator Gair has said is a matter for debate on the substantive motion. The point of order, strictly, is whether it is necessary for Senator Gair to put his proposed amendments in writing. All I say is that this is a practice which has enabled the Senate to work in the past. When proposing his motion the mover asks for leave to make certain formal amendments, that type of leave. is granted and the amendments are made. Senator Murphy knows that when he was in Opposition that was frequently done,’ and it is done frequently by Ministers. It is only on that basis that the Senate really can work. It may be that Senator Gair feels, if there is any dispute, that he simply will propose his motion and deal with this matter at some later stage when the issue can be raised. But I think it is paltry of the Government to take this petty attitude after it has been given leave to introduce 3 Bills without one Opposition senator objecting.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The point of order has been considered. Senator Gair is following the customary practice of the Senate. No doubt at a later time he may have the amendments prepared but there is no standing order that would require him to circulate the amendments now at this stage.
– Mr Deputy President, it would appear that the only mistake I have made is to credit the members of the Government party with more ability than they are prepared to admit they have. If leave is refused, I will simply move amendments to cover these additions and deletions and the amendments will be circulated.
– I rise on a point of order. I understood that Senator Gair asked for leave to make amendments and leave was refused. Is that correct?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! When Senator.- Gair has completed his explanation I will put the motion that leave be granted. I call Senator Gair.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy President. No one has moved that leave be granted. Senator. Gair, asked for leave and leave was refused. That has been accepted. Senator Gair then went on to address the chamber, and I take it that he is addressing :the chamber in relation to notice of motion No. 10. We accepted that leave was not granted, and no one . moved that leave be granted.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Order! My ruling stands that Senator Gair may complete his explanation.
– I. sought, leave to amend the motion. ;…..
– I ‘ rise on - a point of order.- So that, the Senate .can have this position cleared up by Senator Gair, can we have the amended motion read to the Senate?
The DEPUTY. PRESIDENT- Order! I want the Senate to understand, the situation. Senator Gair’ is. attempting- to .explain his amendments . tq., the Senate., I , trust that the Senate will allow .the explanation to continue..
– I said in relation to the motion as ..it , appears on the .business sheet, notice of which I gave yesterday, that the alterations are simple and feW in number, and I have enumerated ‘them. “:
– Read them out.
– I have . read . them twice already. , :i. ..
– You have not read them.
Sentaor GAIR - I have so. 1 seek leave to make the alterations as set out .by me to the motion notice of which I gave yesterday.
– Order! Senator Gair is seeking leave to allow the Senate to consider some amendments he proposes’ to bring down, namely, to insert some words in and delete some words from notice of motion No. 10. I suggest that the Senate is ‘not in any position at this juncture capriciously tj! refuse Senator Gair leave until it understands’ What Senator Gair attempting to do. Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
The Senate does itself not much–
– He has not explained it yet.
– All I ask is that Senator Gair be given leave so that he may explain what he is attempting to do.
– He can explain it.
- Senator Murphy, address yourself to the Chair.
– If I may interpose briefly, a number of my colleagues want Senator Gair to explain his reasons for seeking leave.
– In giving a ruling on a point of order, I asked Senator Gair to explain why.
– He has not explained the reason for the deletion of these paragraphs. My colleagues are declining to grant him leave at least until he explains why he thinks these paragraphs should be taken out.
– I am trying to get him to explain that matter. I call Senator Gair.
– In the first place, I sought the insertion of 2 words, namely ‘Serbian community’, which inadvertently were left out of my motion, but not by me. The document from which I read yesterday and which is signed by me contained those words and I am seeking to insert them in the motion.
– In paragraph (1) subparagraph (b). The other amendments seek the deletion of certain words.
– The Leader of the Democratic Labor Party has said that although it was not his fault some words were left out of the motion. I suggest that he certainly should be given leave. Perhaps he does not even need to be given leave. However, he certainly should have leave in relation to that aspect if the omission was not his fault.
– Order! I have not had time to examine whether this is the fact of the matter but I take the word of the honourable senator who says that something has been left out. He wishes to explain this matter to the Senate, and Senator Murphy has indicated that he is quite agreeable to that course being followed.Is leave granted?
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Mr President.
– Leave has been granted by the Leader of the Government.
– Mr President, I am serious about this.
– Order! I call Senator Gair.
– If leave has been granted to make the amendments that I have enumerated,I thank the Senate. Now I shall proceed to speak to the motion; I will deal with the other amendments later. On 20th March this year the Yugoslav Prime Minister, Mr Bijedic, arrived in Australia accompanied by a retinue of 25 Yugoslav security men. Before he landed, the Commonwealth police raided the homes of innocent Croatians in Sydney and Canberra seeking information in relation to a phantom assassination plot.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr President. I draw your attention to what you said was the stated position of Senator Gair, namely, that he would explain in what way he wished to amend the motion.
– By inserting certain words.
– Yes. He has not done that. I suggest that he is now embarking–
– The Senate has granted leave to Senator Gair to deal with the situation in which 2 words were left out of his notice of motion No. 10. Senator Gair, will you now address yourself to your explanation in relation to the words that have been left out of your notice of motion.
– Leave was granted in relation to that one.
– What about the others?
– I saidI would deal with the others later. When I was interrupted I was saying that before the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia arrived here the Commonwealth police raided the homes of innocent Croatians in Sydney and Canberra seeking information in relation to a phantom assassination plot.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Gair is clearly reading the whole speech and I suggest that he is quite out of order in doing so.
– I call Senator Gair.
– I noticed that Senator Murphy read every word of all the speeches he made on the Bills he introduced tonight and I claim the same right.
– Order! We have dealt wilh the insertion of certain words. Now you have indicated that there are certain words that you propose to leave out.
– Yes - later, I said.
– The Senate wants to know what are these words that you propose to leave out.
– For the time being 1 am leaving them in. So the necessity for any further discussion on that issue is eliminated. I go on to say that also before the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia landed here, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) raided the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in Melbourne and Canberra on the pretext of seeking evidence of another phantom plot to deceive the Australian Government.
– 1 rise on a point, of. order. While we do permit second reading speeches to be read, I would draw your attention to standing order 406. I think it is mandatory on you to rule accordingly, especially when it is obvious that an honourable senator is reading a speech the author of which is not associated with this chamber.
– Order! There is some discretion which I have always extended to leaders of parties in order that they may make their positions perfectly clear. Where they have to make a precise choice of words and it is not a debating speech, I have always accorded to leaders of parties the right to read speeches or, if you like, to read from copious notes. I am not going to divert from that view for the moment. Therefore I will not uphold the point of order. I would be grateful if honourable senators did not press me on this. I call Senator Gair.
– In a matter of 24 hours Australia’s security organisation had been discredited in the eyes of all friendly allies of Australia. Canberra was turned into a police State, helicopters hovered over the city, road blocks were set up and people searched. A thousand or more police were . imported into the Australian Capital Territory to protect the Yugoslav Prime Minister’.
Senator Douglas McClelland - I rise to a point of order. At the commencement of his address on this subject Senator Gair indicated that he would seek leave to ‘ delete certain words from the motion that he now proposes to move and which is the subject of debate. I suggest that the honourable senator, having indicated that he intends to seek the deletion of certain words, should indicate at the outset of the debate what he intends to do about amending the motion that he has on the notice paper before the debate proceeds. (Honourable senators interjecting) -
– Order! I know that all honourable senators are very testy; it has been a very testy day for everyone. The circumstances are that Senator Gair has indicated his intention to delete certain words from notice of motion No. 10 but he has now said that for the time being he proposes to leave them in, to address himself to the motion and subsequently to indicate to the Senate what he intends to leave out. I cannot see anything wrong with that. :
– I can.
– I would be grateful if you would hear the honourable senator out; Senator Georges, “do you wish’ to take a point of order? ‘ ::
– Yes. The whole basis of what Senator Gair has to say depends upon the sub-paragraph he is going to delete.
– We have, yet to find out what this is. .
– - No. There is a very important sub-paragraph which he has indicated he is going to delete. It is subparagraph (13) (d). It will affect . the Senate greatly, it will affect this debate and it will affect what Senator Gair has- to say. Permit me to read this sub-paragraph. It says:
That, I would say, would be the-‘ clause which would determine whether we will support the resolution that He has put forward. He ought to make it clear at this stage whether this is what he proposes.- Does he’ intend to include that? ‘ ‘ “.’ ‘ ‘’
– And why he proposes to.’ “ ‘.’ ‘!”. “. :’:’, ‘ ‘ ‘
– And why he proposes it. The motive of his whole exercise rests in this sub-paragraph because he was determined at the outset to make of this inquiry a witch hunt against certain persons and in particular against one person.
– Order! Honourable senators must realise that Senator Gair has indicated quite clearly that he intends to ask for leave of the Senate to amend the motion by the deletion of certain words. What those exact words are, I do not know, and honourable senators do not know either. He is entitled to explain what the object of his motion No. 10 is and then move at a subsequent stage, if it is his intention to disclose this to the Senate, what words he proposes to delete. I call Senator Gair.
– I have already indicated to the Senate that I desire to make a few minor alterations. Subsequently I said that I had been convinced to alter my mind. I do not intend now to make any alterations. I will just let the resolution go as it is. Accordingly, I move:
That the motion (vide page 1462) be agreed to.
When I was rudely interrupted 1 was saying that at the time of the visit of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia 1,000 or more police were imported into the Australian Capital Territory to protect the dignitary of a friendly nation, as he was described by Senator Murphy. Having arrived safely in Australia, Mr Bijedic was wined and dined by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at the Lodge and had discussions with Australian officials. After these discussions, a joint communique was signed. It is an incredible document and to read it now, after learning of new information about certain matters, would be amusing if it were not so tragic. Let me quote from the second paragraph. It reads:
The discussions took place in a warm and friendly atmosphere and covered the main features of Yugoslav and Australian thinking on foreign policy matters. Matters of common concern in bilateral relations between Yugoslavia and Australia were also discussed.
We now know that one matter of common concern was certainly not even discussed, and that is the execution of 3 naturalised Australians. If we are to believe the later official revelations, just 3 days earlier the Prime Minister’s Government had executed 3 naturalised Australians without Australia being informed beforehand of their trial or pending execution. The blood of these 3 Australians had probably not been cleaned from the place of execution at the time when Mr Bijedic was expressing - and I quote from the joint communique - his ‘warmest gratitude for the extremely friendly reception and hospitality extended by the Australian Government during his visit’. What treatment did the Yugoslavs give the 3 Australians? The Australian Government was not even informed of their trial or execution. For 9 months they were kept secretly in prison, probably tortured, and Australian authorities were never told. To the ordinary Australian such an attitude will appear quite cynical. But it is not so very cynical when one notes that Mr Bijedic-
– I rise to a point of order. 1 refer to standing order 421 regarding irrelevant remarks. The motion that Senator Gair is now moving proposes the creation of a select committee of the Senate to do certain things. It refers to whether there has been or is intimidation or undue pressure applied to members of Australian migrant communities, etc. The honourable senator is referring to subject matter that I cannot see has any relevance to the motion that he is moving. I believe that his comments are irrelevant to the subject matter.
– I mentioned earlier this evening that the question of relevancy is involved always in the question of irrelevancy. So far, 1 am not persuaded that Senator Gair’s remarks are irrelevant under standing order 421.
– Mr President, ] rise to order. I raise a point of order under standing order 422. It deals with the circumstances in which an honourable senator may interrupt another honourable senator. Since Senator Gair started speaking at 9.25 this evening, we have seen a continual procession of Government senators rising to interrupt and take points of order, not one of which has been upheld. lt can be regarded only as n calculated attempt to prevent another senator from delivering his speech. Mr President, I ask you whether under standing order 422 you have any power, and if so whether you will exercise it, to prevent such interruptions from occurring.
– Mr President-
- Senator Cavanagh, do you wish to address yourself to standing order 422?
– Yes. A point of order has been taken in regard to standing order 422, which deals with the interruption of a speaker. Of course, if the interruption of a speaker were never contemplated, it would be regarded as an interruption for an honourable senator to rise and refer to the observance of the Standing Orders. I think that it is the responsibility of all honourable senators to interrupt when, in their belief, there has been a breach of the Standing Orders. Interruptions have occurred tonight because honourable senators held the belief that there was a breach of the Standing Orders. *Mr President,** the remarkable thing is that, when I interrupted to take a point of order, you acknowledged that there was a breach of the Standing Orders but asked me not to press it. That question arose under standing order 406, which states that it is an offence against the Standing Orders for an honourable senator to read a speech. When that was submitted to you, you asked for the point not to be pressed as you have allowed leniency for the leaders, of parties to read speeches. That was a pertinent point of order that was raised in good faith. Obviously, Senator Gair was and still is in breach of the Standing Orders. As has become the custom, I think that it is reasonable for honourable senators to read second reading speeches. . I do not know why that should apply to the leaders of parties if ohe h not capable of making a speech without a written document.
– Every time a Minister, makes a speech, he reads it.
– There are other honourable senators, apart from leaders, without capabilities. Why the leniency should not be. extended to others, I do not know.
– Every speech-
– Senator Wright keeps interrupting and I-
– Thoroughly disorderly.
– As has been suggested, he is thoroughly disorderly. Of course, every ministerial speech is read, because it is conveying the policy of the Government. But rarely, or never, is a second reading speech read from beginning to end without copies being supplied to honourable senators. I say that this is a departure from the rule. I think that, if we allow a relaxation of the Standing Orders for a leader to read a speech, at least he should have the courtesy of supplying us with copies of it. The point of order I raise is that those honourable senators who thought that there was a breach of the Standing Orders raised their points of order in full conformity with the Standing Orders. There was a breach. It was not an unnecessary interruption of a speech. Mr President, it was an honest belief of honourable senators that there was a breach and that they had a duty and a responsibility to bring it to your notice. Having brought the matter to’ your notice, I resent Senator Greenwood stating that there was a deliberate breach of- standing order’ 422.
– I will not accept the point of order. Honourable senators must remember that the Senate is or should be a place of deliberate debate. Occasionally, senators may stray a little from the line. The Presiding Officer, whoever he . may be, just cannot cut down the whole quality of debate with a strict adherence ! to the Standing Orders. From time to time, they have to be interpreted in the spirit of the occasion. I did not uphold Senator Brown’s point of order under standing order 421. Also, I ask that interruptions, by the taking’ of ‘ points of orders, do not take place Jb order to try to defeat the speaker, whether ‘ those’ interruptions come from my left ‘ or from ‘ my right. Therefore, I would be grateful if, the Senate would hear Senator Gair out and then we can proceed to the substance of the motion. Senator Gair, before you proceed !1 point out that your time has nearly expired. Perhaps Senator Murphy will move an extension’ of time for you. ‘ ‘’,
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Senator Gair be granted <an ‘extension of time to enable him to complete his speech. ,
– The Australian Government was not even informed, of the trial of the 3 men who were executed., For 9 months they were kept secretly in prison and probably tortured, and Australian : authorities were never told. To the ordinary , Australian, such an attitude will appear quite cynical. But it is not so very cynical when one .notes that Mr Bijedic is a former head qf the secret police in Yugoslavia. This fact . :was conveniently omitted from his official biography which was distributed in Australia. ……
– Mr President, I rise to order. I regard this as a serious matter. What Senator Gair is speaking about ‘now has no relevance whatsoever to the motion that is before the Senate. The proposition that is before the Senate calls for some sort of inquiry into security services. This is not a discussion of Mr Bijedic, his previous biography or what happened to people who were charged with some offence in Yugoslavia. I submit that these remarks by Senator Gair are totally irrelevant and that the irrelevance is compounded by the fact that he is reading from a prepared speech. Mr President, I suggest to you that it is quite improper that this should be inflicted on the Senate and that this document, which has no bearing whatsoever on the substance of the motion, should not be read out.
– I cannot uphold the honourable senator’s point of order.
– Mr Bijedic was no simple tourist to Australia. From information which I received only last week from impeccable overseas sources, Mr Bijedic is regarded as one of Tito’s ‘Iron guard’. He joined the Communist Party in the mid-1930s and between 1945 and 1950 he was ostensibly Assistant Minister for Internal Affairs’ but in reality was head of the secret police in his province. In fact, during that period he was a main architect of the ‘communisation’ of the provinces of Bosnia and Hercegovina It was quite probable that he arranged the execution of thousands of innocent Croatians who opposed communism. Yet this is the man who was wined and dined at the Lodge by Mr Whitlam while, at the same time, playing him for a Fool. The Australian Government lent over backwards to please this ex-secret police head, all for the apparent purpose of obtaining Yugoslav sponsorship at a non-aligned conference in Algiers to be held later this year.
Mr Whitlam promised Mr Bijedic more vigorous action against the Croatians in the future. Nine days later, on 1st April, the action came - in the form of dawn raids by 260 police on 68 homes in Sydney and Wollongong. It should be noted that they were all homes of Croatian people. Babies and children were woken, people were told they would be deported, children were quizzed about their parents, innocent Croatians were detained at Criminal Investigation Branch headquarters for hours and personal letters were confiscated. The details of what happened are contained in the 21 statutory declarations which I tabled in the Senate on 2nd May. It makes one wonder whether this is really a democratic community in which we live.
It is no wonder the New South Wales Premier, Sir Robert Askin, promised that ho would never allow his police to be a party to such a manoeuvre again. But the damage had been done and, as far as I am aware, most of the confiscated personal effects, such as letters and bank books, have not yet been returned by the police. And all this was to show the Yugoslav Government how vigorous and enthusiastic the new Australian Government was and how keen it was to toady to its new found communist friends. What does it matter if the Croatians are largely unskilled and semi-skilled workers? They will not know their rights. They will not ask for search warrants or receipts for property confiscated. They will keep quiet. What a monstrous exercise in bullying. And for what purpose? Simply to show the Yugoslav Government how prepared the Australian Government is to jump when a communist government cracks the whip. I doubt whether there has ever been such a similar exhibition of diplomatic gullibility, stupidity and foolishness in all the post war years on the part of a supposedly advanced democracy. Just imagine the situation of Australian diplomats abroad at the present time. Diplomats from other countries are probably trying to sell them tins of striped paint and left-handed screwdrivers in order to see whether they are as gullible as the Prime Minister of the country they represent.
It has been suggested that a Senate committee be formed to investigate many of the facts which I have placed before the Senate tonight. A Senate committee is the only avenue left to Croatians and other new Australian residents amongst us to obtain some satisfaction on this whole affair. The Government has refused the Senate’s request for a judicial inquiry with deafening silence. Yet the Government could have chosen the members of such an inquiry. The Government had all the Easter recess to consider the request for a judicial inquiry and yet has chosen to ignore it. A Senate select committee, with neither the Government nor the Opposition holding a majority on it, is the next best thing. We have even provided in the resolution that the Australian Labor Party will have 3 representatives, compared with one only for each of the other Parties represented on the com,mittee. How can the Australian Labor Party complain when it will have 3 times as many members as any of the other political parties in this Parliament?
There are many questions which this committee will have to face. I am not pretending that it will bc capable of providing answers to all these questions but 1 see one of the main values of the committee in providing an opportunity for additional information to come to the surface. It is my strong belief that to date only one side of the picture has been presented and the statutory declarations which Senator McManus and I have tabled during the past month raise matters which are worthy of investigation.
There are questions which are worrying me and causing concern to a great many people. Who authorised the August 1972 raids on houses in New South Wales and Victoria? Why was the then Attorney-General not informed beforehand of these raids? Were the civil rights of Croatians protected in these raids? What is the correlation between the names of the people raided and the names supplied in the Yugoslav aide-memoire delivered the week before? Have all documents seized in those raids been returned? As a result of these raids, were any personal papers, such as letters from relatives in Yugoslavia, shown to. or copies given to, Yugoslav authorities? If so, did such action lead to harassment of relatives in Yugoslavia? Concerning the recent executions, when were the 3 naturalised Australians executed? Is there any truth in the suggestion that they were executed on 10th April and not 17th March. If they were executed on 10th April were any Australian officials or Ministers informed beforehand? Are there any other naturalised Australians currently imprisoned in Yugoslavia awaiting execution over the so-called Bosnian incursion? What is the current position of other Australians listed as missing in Yugoslavia? Have they been executed or are they still alive? If they are still alive, have they been provided with adequate assistance by the Australian Embassy in Belgrade? Does the Embassy know of their existence? Is the Yugoslav Secret Police - the UDBA- present in Australia? Has the UDBA intimidated any Australians? What are its activities in Australia? What is the connection between the UDBA and the Yugoslav Embassy and consulates?
Has the UDBA been implicated in the assassination of Croatian national leaders in Europe? Is there any knowledge of similar activities planned against Australian Croatian national leaders?
What are the problems caused by dual nationality? What are the processes involved in an Australian citizen renouncing his Yugoslav nationality? Has a Serbian Matica been formed in Australia? What is the function of the Serbian Matica in collecting information on Yugoslavs in Australia? How many Croatians are listed for deportation? What is the basis of the deportation case against them? What is the possibility that information on which these cases are based is information which has been planted or supplied by the Yugoslav authorities? Why did the 1st April raids take place? What is the correlation between the names of the people raised and the names supplied by Mr Bijedic and his officials when they visited Australia? When is it proposed to return documents and personal possessions seized on those raids? Were the civil rights of Croatians protected in those raids? Why were the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters raided? Had ASIO been denying information to the Attorney-General? What were the contents of the August 1972 aide-memoire delivered by the Yugoslav Government? Is there any intimidation of Yugoslavs from Australia who visit Yugoslavia? What is the truth of the statutory declarations already tabled in the Senate by Senator McManus and me? They are 30 subjects which are puzzling very many people, especially Croatians. They deserve examination.
I am not pretending for one minute that the committee should be expected to find conclusive answers to all these questions but I am confident that the committee will be able to obtain additional information which will help to throw new light on this general subject. But most importantly, hundreds of Croatians have been named in the documents tabled in the Senate by the Attorney-General. These were documents whose public servant authors never dreamed would find their way into the public arena. They were prepared for internal use in various Commonwealth departments. They contain rumour, gossip, speculation and hearsay. Yet those people who have been named in the documents have never been given an opportunity to clear their names or to refute allegations which have been made against them by a third party - in many cases, an anonymous third party.
The existence of a committee of inquiry would reassure these people that Australia has not been turned completely into a police state; that while the rule of law exists and our parliamentary democracy functions, wrongs can be remedied in a non-violent, correct manner. The failure of the Senate to establish this committee of inquiry, together with the failure of the Government to establish a judicial inquiry, would be interpreted by naturalised Croatians as meaning that they are truly second class citizens; that they can be defamed under parliamentary privilege with no redress. How could any one expect them or their children to have faith in the parliamentary system of Australia? 1 refer now to the provisions of the motion. Paragraph CD (a) deals with the civil rights of Croatians, This is the most important aspect of the whole Senate committee inquiry. It is my belief that the civil rights of the Croatians have been trampled on. The 21 statutory declarations which I tabled earlier in the Senate provide a prima facie case for investigation. Paragraph (1) (b) deals with intimidation amongst the migrant communities. The statutory declarations which my colleague Senator McManus tabled in the Senate some time ago give an illustration of what is occurring in the Croatian community particularly. But migrants from Yugoslavia do not come solely from Croatia. They come from the other republics in Yugoslavia and, although Senator Mulvihill for one insists on lumping them all together as Yugoslavs, the various communities object most strongly to this and that is why I have spelt them out in this section. This paragraph also refers to the activities of the secret police. We know that the Yugoslav secret police - UDBA - has engaged in intimidation in European countries. We want to find out whether it is doing likewise in Australia.
Paragraph (1) (cj deals with the raids on ASIO by the Attorney-General. Those raids are part and parcel of the Croatian affair. No satisfactory answers have been given by Senator Murphy in this chamber as to what prompted the raids and what they were all about. We hope that the Committee will be able to obtain some answers to the puzzling questions surrounding these raids. Paragraph
Paragraph (2) deals with the membership of the Committee. As I pointed out earlier, the ALP will have 3 times as many representatives as any other Party. Neither the Government nor the official Opposition will have a majority on the Committee. Paragraph (3) is procedural. Paragraph (4) concerns the appointment of the chairman. Honourable senators will note that the Senate is not telling the Committee who should be chairman. As with other committees which have been appointed this session, that matter is left for the Committee to determine. Paragraphs (5) to (12) also are procedural. Paragraph (13) is the new paragraph dealing with the rights of witnesses. In this paragraph we have gone to great pains to protect the rights of witnesses. Paragraph (14) is procedural. Paragraph (16) nominates the date when the report is to be presented. I have selected 31st August as it represents the end of the first month of sitting after the winter recess. Our intention is that the Committee should spend the winter recess investigating this matter. If the Committee finds that this deadline does not give sufficient time for it to complete its investigations, it can, of course, with the permission of the Senate, present a preliminary report and seek an extension of time for its investigations to continue. Paragraph (17) is procedural.
Before I conclude I make one or two observations about the Bill which was introduced tonight by Senator Murphy and which seeks to amend the Crimes Act. I believe that the suggested appointment of the Committee influenced the introduction of the Bill by Senator Murphy. It was introduced into the Senate as a political tactic so that it would appear that he is prepared to do something about deportation.
– I rise to a point of order. Mr President, I seek your ruling on whether Senator Gair is in order in debating a Bill which was introduced into the Senate tonight.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order if Senator Gair can demonstrate that the context of the Bill relates to the matter on which he is now addressing the Chair. Senator Gair must relate it to that matter.
– I am in a position to know that the Bill is a result of negotiations between Senator Murphy and people who purported to represent the Croatian community in Sydney. These people spoke without the authority of the Croatian community. Later I will be in a position to reveal the details of Senator Murphy’s 4 secret meetings with these people in his desperate attempt to find a way out of the mess in which he has got himself.
– The sponsors of this motion which seeks to set up a select committee for the purpose of inquiring into and reporting on certain actions and activities which have transpired over the past 10 or 15 years in Australia have surprised the people of Australia. I am amazed that honourable senators opposite have the temerity to present to this Parliament what could be called a virtual whitewash of a group of lunatic fringe migrants who call themselves the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood. After years of protection by the previous Government, with a new Government in power which is determined to stamp out the terrorism, the bomb throwings and the attempted assassinations that have been going on in Australia-
– By whom?
– By the lunatic fringe group with which the honourable senator sympathises and which the previous Government has been protecting in this country for the past 20 years.
– Where is your evidence?
– I will give the honourable senator a little evidence. This is a little bit of evidence from Garfield Barwick as he then was, Minister for External Affairs, who is now Sir Garfield Barwick, Chief Justice of the High Court.
– What paper is this?
– It is some of the information which has been made available since 2nd December and which has been tabled in the Senate. During all the years that the previous Government was supposedly pro tecting the interests of Australian people, this information was available. It was never acted upon. I want to read to the Senate a letter which was written by Garfield Barwick to the then Attorney-General.
– What was the date of the letter?
– The honourable senator can read that when I table the letter. He said to the Attorney-General:
My dear Attorney . . .
– Do not be secretive. What was the date?
– It was 6th January 1964. I am complaining that this cancer has been in our community since 1964 and earlier. I wish to diverge for a moment. I saw this cancer in Europe while I was a victim of the fascists, the Gestapo and the Croatian brotherhood type of activity when Ante Pavelic, this so-called leader of Croatia, collaborated with Hitler and took part in the burning, murdering and gassing of millions of innocent Europeans for a number of years. To think that in this Parliament people would whitewash, cover up and protect such people who have migrated here to get away from the judgment that should have been passed upon them because they participated with Hitler, the Gestapo and Ante Pavelic-
– Stalin and Hitler were together, too, at one stage.
– The honourable senator is trying to divert me. He is using the diversionary tactics which he uses all the time. I am telling him the facts. Croatia was the headquarters of Ante Pavelic, the beloved leader of this lunatic fringe group of people who have gone abroad and who have come to Australia. Some of them are still here. They will be quietened down now that a firm government is in control of this country. The Government will try to restore a little stability and sanity in the streets, in the churches and in various places in Australia where these ratbags - one cannot describe this lunatic fringe group as anything else but ratbags - operated. Yet the previous Government did nothing about them. I will proceed to read this letter from Sir Garfield Barwick. He said:
My dear Attorney,
My attention has been drawn to the record of proceedings of an interdepartmental meeting held on 25th November to consider the implications for the Australian Government of the behaviour, culminating
In the arrest in Yugoslavia earlier this year of 9 members of the so-called Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood, of a group of extremists among our immigrant population.
Our colleague, the Minister for Immigration is concerned about hostilities within local communities, particularly in relation to their effect on the problem of assimilation. For my own part, I am disturbed at the foreign policy implications of such activity which may embarrass our relations with other governments. We have already received a formal .Note from the Yugoslav Government conveying the view, which we have of course rejected, that the Australian authorities were acquainted with the organised activity of the Croatian fascist emigrants and were, to say the least, tolerant towards them. I am anxious to prevent any recurrence of behaviour, either on the part of Yugoslavs or any other national minority groups, which adversely affects our external relations, and I have asked the Minister for Immigration to consider what positive steps might be taken to restrain them.
In essence, the problem is one of keeping an eye on immigrant extremists, while operating within the framework of existing law and practice.
This is what Sir Garfield advised the AttorneyGeneral to do.
– All that was done 9 years ago, when he wrote the letter.
– He cannot hide, under the, shadow or umbrella of 9 years ago. This was a problem then and it is a problem today. These people went to Yugoslavia for the purpose of carrying out their Croatian Brotherhood oath. They swore by Almighty God that they would carry out the methods of the Brotherhood, that they would practise bow to manufacture bombs and how to commit assassination.
– You read that in a newspaper.
– This is in a document which Senator Murphy was able to table, in the Senate. This was never done by previous governments. Now we see the temerity of people in this Parliament who want to protect these people in our society. That is exactly what has been done. Yet very few people in this Parliament understand the way in which these people work. They have been trained as terrorists or commandos. Many people who defend them would not know the first thing about war. They were in ‘B’ company - they would be there when others were going away and they would be there when they came back. That was their war experience. But people who went through the horrors of war know the influence of these, people in Europe who collaborated with Hitler, who disturbed the whole’ of Europe during this period and who brought this great catastrophe to mankind. Such people now want to come to Australia to continue this kind of activity, with the vain hope and some stupid idea that they can go back and repeat their previous performance. Sir Garfield in his letter said that the problem is one of keeping an eye on these people. He continued:
With this end in mind, I should like to suggest that the: Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should -maintain some supervision over migrant groups (making no attempt to disguise its surveillance) and bring to your attention any activities which might be considered to have contravened sections 30(A) or’ section 30(C) of the Crimes Act.
Then he said:
In appropriate circumstances, it may be necessary to consider the desirability of prosecutions under the Act . . .
Further on he said:
As an illustration of the type of activity which is causing me some concern, 1 attach a copy of a recent Note from the Yugoslav Consulate-General complaining of certain alleged deeds by migrants and their associates in Australia. .
The letter is signed by. Sir Garfield Barwick. 1 have another letter from Phillip Lynch.
– On what date? . .
– It 1 is dated 3rd December 1969, which was some years later, but it shows that it was a continuing problem. He said: «..
My dear Attorney-General, ‘I feel it is necessary to bring to your attention my concern at the likely serious consequences if Croat nationals in Australia are permitted– to -continue unchecked their terrorist activities and .outrages against representatives of the Yugoslav Government and authority generally in this country.
– He was
Minister for Immigration then.
– Yes. He continued:
I have reason to believe that the terrorists are endeavouring to create the impression amongst Yugoslav migrants in Australia that the Croatian extremists have the support df significant sections of Australian society and even of the Government.
The bombing attack last week on the Yugoslav Embassy in Canberra (which was apparently intended to coincide’ with the Yugoslav National Day on 28lh November), the evidence of a deliberate attempt to fire the Immigration Offices at Barton on the evening of 1st December, the bombing ‘ of the Yugoslav Consulate-General in Sydney earlier- iri the year are evidence of a pattern of ‘extremist activity which should be capable of preventive measures by the law authorities.
Who said this? This is what Phillip Lynch, then Minister for Immigration, said in a letter to the Attorney-General in 1969. What was done? When Senator Murphy tackles this problem with courage, intelligence and vigour, we have simpering people coming here and trying to kid me and to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people by saying that something wrong has been done. They are indicating their philosophy, their ideology and the fact that they are sympathisers with people who are murderers, burners and bombers in our community. We have to control them and keep surveillance over them, as Sir Garfield Barwick has suggested. Phillip Lynch in his letter continued:
The Prime Minister has recently approved a visit to Australia by Mr Polajner a senior Minister in the Yugoslav Government in connection with the signing of the Migration Agreement with Yugoslavia on which agreement is expected shortly to be reached wilh the Yugoslav delegation at present in Canberra.
Senator Gair and those who sit with him are talking about the Slovenes, the Macedonians, the Montenegrins, the Ukrainians and also the Serbians. But if these people claim to have those nationalities they are here under false pretences. They came here as Yugoslavs and they acquired Australian citizenship. They renounced their Yugoslav nationality when they came here. There is no recognition of the names included in the motion.
– Did your ancestors come here as Irish or British?
– I would have more chance of proving my ancestors than I think Senator Little would have. Phillip Lynch in his letter continued:
Publicity surrounding the visit of Mr Polajner to Australia cannot be avoided and I believe it essential thai every safeguard be taken to avoid serious incidents associated with his presence in Australia which could well have serious consequences.
In this ersatz - to use a European word - motion before the Senate Senator Gair is complaining because we take precautions to protect visitors from other countries.
– We were in power then.
– Senator. Hannan’s Government was in power when Phillip Lynch wrote that letter. He asked for every safeguard to be taken to avoid serious incidents. Then he said:
Apart from this immediate Issue and the inevitable involvement of human life, I am moreover concerned with the likely effect upon our relations with Yugoslavia …
What do the Democratic Labor Party and Senator Gair, who moved this motion, care about the likely effect? Phillip Lynch continued: . . especially in terms of our migration arrangements with that country, of continued incidents of this kind and the apparent inability of the law authorities to apprehend offenders.
Senator Murphy got the law. authorities to apprehend the offenders, and he will continue to do so with the full backing of his Cabinet and of Government supporters. The position is that these people from the Revolutionary Brotherhood travelled from Australia to Yugoslavia for the purpose of assassination and sabotage in order to be true to the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood oath which they swore by Almighty God, but they got caught in the act. Here an attempt is being made to blame Senator Murphy because of the action he took. But these members of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood returned to Yugoslavia with the specific intention of murder, assassination and bombing.
– How do you know?
– Because they had sworn to do that.
– You said that they were all killed.
– I have a copy of the oath that they take. It comes from the ASIO files. If honourable senators opposite had taken the trouble to read those documents they would have seen that we are dealing with people who really should be written off as absolute lunatics. They should be cared for as very sick people. They should be treated as mentally ill persons because that is what so many of the Croats who take this oath are.
– What about the firearm that was concealed in the koala bear?
– Yes, that is right. Yesterday some crank was found boarding an aircraft with a machine gun and a bike chain. One cannot understand the mentality of these people. They have introduced elements and activities into this country which are completely foreign to our way of life. Yet, when men like Senator Murphy have the courage to come. to grips with these people, so-called concern is expressed for the civil rights of these people who in fact are violating our civil rights.
This whole exercise has been a cover up. Senator Greenwood, when Attorney-General, refused to answer questions on this matter. We knew of the activities of the Croatians. Senator Mulvihill continuously brought to the attention of the Senate the activities of this lunatic fringe. Senator Greenwood evidently knew of these records that were in the possession of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. But all he would say was that there was no such organisation as the Ustasha. He never admitted the existence of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood or the chain of organisations which were exposed when the ASIO files were tabled in the Senate.
– You are not being truthful. Senator.
– I can document everything that I am saying. Senator Webster sits there like a Country Party cocky, chirping on the fence. You document your speech when you make it. I am prepared to say where my information has come from. I do not need to refer to the documents that have been tabled. I have here a story of the leader of these people, Anton Pavelic. I quote from the book That Day Alone’ by Pierre van Paassen. This is his description of the beloved leader of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood, Anton Pavelic:
Anton Pavelic is the model fascist: Ruthless and utterly unscrupulous, boundlessly ambitious and cruel. He has violated every law and he has never needed a pretext when he sought to betray.
While I was a prisoner of war in Germany, this man was operating in Europe. He was the great leader of this lunatic fringe, the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood. Pierre van Paassen continues:
His cruelties spring not from the heat of his blood, but from cool, calculating meditation. Tall, well-built, good looking and possessing an ingratiating manner, Pavelic lived on the fringe of an international society which had its centres in Berlin, Paris, Deauville, and Monte Carlo in the post-war years. An adventurer of sharp practices and equally dubious antecedents, he lived tortuously on his wits, sold himself brazenly to the highest bidder, and had a very foul reputation.
An attempt is being made to’ draw a red herring across the trail with respect to what this Government is trying to do to protect Australian citizens from this’ type of activity. This is being done by members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, who have been elected by people in the States of Victoria, New South Wales ‘ and Queensland, by Country Party senators such as Senator Web ster and by., senators like Senator Hannan from Victoria. The Australian electors believe that those honourable senators are representing their interests in the Senate. Yet, these people bring before the Senate a motion of this type seeking to protect the kinds of people whom I have described. This is a diversionary tactic.
– It is not. It is an inquiry to find out the truth.
– An inquiry has been held already. Honourable senators opposite have already tried Senator Murphy. They have found him guilty. Most of those honourable senators voted last night in favour of retaining the death penalty, that is, by hanging. If they had the opportunity, they would probably hang Senator Murphy. Honourable senators opposite do not like Senator Murphy. They have a hang, up about him. because the quality of his intellect and his energetic pursuit to enforce the principles that are right and to protect civil liberties p’:ace him far above anyone on the Opposition side. Next week in The Hague, Senator .Murphy will present the Government’s case against nuclear explosions by the French in the Pacific. Senator Murphy will be seeking to preserve the lives and good health of future generations of Australians. This man, capable of doing all these things, is being degraded by people who, by comparison, are underlings, not fit to clean his boots.
I feel quite strongly about this matter. I have been through the mill and have vivid memories of the activities of Croatians when they were astride Europe. In collaboration with Hitler they were ruthless, bloodthirsty murderers. I did not think that I would ever live to see the day when honourable senators opposite would gang up together in this very unhappy .marriage– (Honourable senators interjecting)-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! Honourable senators know that it is disorderly to conduct disputes across the chamber. I am a most patient man in the Chair, as Honourable senators will have observed. But there are limits to my patience. I will not permit this sort of behaviour to continue.
-The howling that has just come- from Opposition senators is an indication that they are most unhappy about sponsoring this motion. We know that the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr Snedden, has more or less disowned this action. We know of the political pressures that are being faced because of pre-selection battles and the like that are imminent. The moving of this motion represents the lousy deal which has been made to take this action in order to satisfy the little splinter group in the corner whose members more than ever are sympathisers with the lunatic fringe that is with us in our society and to which 1 have just referred. That is why those honourable senators have initiated moves for the establishment of this committee. They have been protecting this lunatic fringe. Their responsibility for this action is shared by Country Party senators too. The Country Party with the splinter group has held the balance of power in the past and kept the former Government in power. I can illustrate my claim further. The League of Rights has a sprinkling of strong supporters amongst honourable senators on the Opposition side. If ever there was a reactionary, despicable organisation, it is the League of Rights. Have honourable senators ever seen a more reactionary, despicable organisation? It represents every evil. It is racist and sectarian and supports apartheid. Its principles are reactionary and detestable in relation to what the average Australian accepts as political and ideological activities. Let me say that we can see emerging the pattern that developed with the DLP working as a pressure group on the former Government. One could call members of the Democratic Labor Party extremists because they are sympathisers with the people in this lunatic fringe, these collaborators with Hitler. They collaborate with these reactionaries. We see how the DLP applies pressure on all these issues. Normally members of the Liberal Party would take a more moderate view on many of these social issues, but the DLP is prodding them into getting people fanatical. These are emotional issues about which many people throughout this country get tense and afraid. That is caused by the pressure that the DLP is putting on the Opposition. People are wondering about this very unhappy marriage of the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party; this marriage of the hicks and the micks, as people call it. People are wondering how the 2 parties will ever disengage. At present the Australian people are a wakeup to the DLP. They realise that the DLP has been flushed out by Senator Murphy. They are aware of its activities and its close collaboration with this lunatic fringe.
– What do you mean by flushed out’?
– Exactly what it means, and the material that is flushed is, in my view, the material that the DLP likes. I want to make this point in conclusion-
– You are making a brilliant speech!
– I will mention Cain and Abel. Back in history one fellow could not get on with his brother, so he did the same thing as the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood is doing; he killed his brother. I object strongly, as did other honourable senators earlier this evening, to the time of the Senate being taken up when important business could be before us in the interests and for the well-being of ex-servicemen in respect of their housing, the education of our children and other important issues. This motion is a red herring and a diversion brought forward by the Opposition. The Opposition wants to set up a committee on a pretext of finding out whether the civil rights of migrant Australians, particularly members of. the Croatian community, have been infringed. What should be done is that the honest to goodness Yugoslavs should be encouraged to isolate this lunatic fringe and should let the people of Australia and everyone else know about it.
The people in this lunatic fringe have been standing over them. They have been standing outside factories collecting levies from other Yugoslavs under the guise of being the true full-blooded Croats who will liberate their country. It is known and it is on record in the files of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that these people are fanatical enough to cut their arms and mix their blood, saying that it is the blood of the fatherland. You would not read about it in a deadwood dick.
– It is witchcraft.
– lt is virtually witchcraft and it shows their stupidity. They are about on an equal level of intellect with members of the Democratic Labor Party because they are such close collaborators and sympathisers. I can say on behalf of my colleagues on this side of the chamber that we reject this proposition. Not only is it frivolous, but it is degrading the committee system of the Senate. One would be laughed out of court by any intelligent Australian if one went along and tried to ask questions about this matter. The Australian people know the answers.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The honourable senator who has just resumed his seat, Senator Justin O’Byrne, led for the Australian Labor Party and in his speech attained a distinction which is unique even for him. In the course of 30 minutes he never made one statement relevant to the motion before the Senate. I make it quite clear that his diversion - all this melodrama and blood and guts, if I may use that term - related not one whit or tittle to the motion. Nothing in this motion or the action that it envisages will prevent the Government from taking all action that it deems necessary to arrest, charge, try and convict, if consideration of the evidence so determines, any person who has committed a crime in . this country. Despite all the melodrama , of Senator O’Byrne, let nobody suggest, that what is sought by the motion for this inquiry would in any way militate against meting out full justice to any person in this country. 1 say this to members of the Labor Government: If any member of the Labor Government knows of any person, a Croatian or otherwise, who has committed a crime and ought to be brought to trial, let him. say so. If he knows of somebody who has not been convicted, let him say so. If he knows of somebody mentioned in the documents of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation who has not been brought to trial, let him say so. If he does not, let us have no more mouthing of generalisations and blanket assertions against a people who as a race are as fine and as dignified a race as any race on earth, including our own. Let us have no more of this blanket slander and blanket libel. This motion has nothing whatever to do with any attempt to prevent anybody being brought to justice. Let the Government bring to justice if in fact it has the facts. If it has none of the facts, let it not make the blanket allegations.
The genesis of this motion occurred over the last 6 weeks and it relates entirely to actions initiated by the Labor AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) in this chamber. The very reason for the origin of this motion, the very need’ for a committee of inquiry, arises out of the actions of the AttorneyGeneral. Those who talk of delays and of the use of this chamber for this purpose must say: ‘Physician, heal thyself. It was the Attorney-General who in this chamber made a speech about the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Croatians. It was the Attorney-General who broke all the rules of the land and raided ASIO. It was the Attorney-General who drummed up an ersatz conspiracy on the part of public servants. It was the Attorney-General who launched post-facto raids at night on Croatians. It was the Attorney-General who failed to tell the Government of the day the key fact that he had been told by the Yugoslavs that 3 Australian citizens had been executed - and the evidence how suggests that they were murdered. In fact he covered up.
If the time of . this chamber . has been taken up today, it has been taken .up for 3 hours by the deliberate delay, stalling tactics and filibustering of. supporters pf a .Labor Government which does not want this motion brought to a vote. The Labor Government does not want the Australian people to hear the truth. If there have been delays they have been initiated and provoked by. the Australian Labor Party senators and ‘ they must take the blame.
This motion is the natural, corollary of 2 things. Firstly, on 12th April, a “motion was carried in this chamber tq the effect that 3 judges should be appointed to inquire into these circumstances. The Government has bad one month to act on this matter but has done nothing at all. It is a quaint circumstance, Mr President, that those who talk, purity while in Opposition, those who see things clearly with the pure eye of justice, while in Opposition, turn to corrupt the principle when in Government. It was only on . 19th . September, 7 months ago, that in this chamber the then Leader of the Opposition, Senator Murphy, stood with the backing . of “the ‘ whole Labor Party and urged that there should be a Senate standing committee to carry out exactly such an inquiry. He said that the. facts must be brought out. He said that the facts about terrorism and breaches of civil liberty must be brought out. Senator Murphy and members of the Australian Labor Party recommended that a Senate committee should be used because they said that there was no more shining instrument of truth, justice and factual information than a standing or select committee of this Senate. They said in words of pure gold: But we will not go ahead with a standing committee if the Government will appoint a royal commission.’ One month ago we asked the Government of the day - now that it has the power - to do what in fact it recommended in September last year, lt did nothing. We now say that the Government should do exactly what it said in September last year should be done. When this motion comes to a vote, if honourable senators on the Government side vote against it they will be voting against everything they argued’ for some 7 months ago. Let nobody doubt that at all.
As a matter of interest, as honourable senators will find in Hansard, last September I stood up here and said that I believed that it would be a good idea for the government of the day to appoint a royal commission to investigate these matters. I invite honourable senators to read Hansard. Indeed, I bent all the efforts I had towards that end. The proposal before the Senate should be put in the context of the irrelevancy of the remarks delivered by the Government speaker, Senator O’Byrne. The motion seeks to do 3 main things. It seeks to inquire whether the civil rights of Australians, naturalised or otherwise, Croatian citizens and related persons are being infringed. Does any member of the Labor Party say that it is wrong to set up a committee of this Senate to inquire into whether civil rights are infringed? Throughout last year and the year before in debate after debate members of the Labor Party inveighed and alleged the heinous crime that police had gone into premises without a warrant. Yet in the last week the present Attorney-General has stood up in this chamber and confessed tha*. Commonwealth police, acting fully on his authority and for whom he must accept responsibility, broke into the homes of decent citizens in Canberra without a warrant at 3.30 a.m.
– Who said they were?
– It is a dreadful thing when honourable senators on the Government side say ‘Who said they were’ when I say decent citizens’. It is a quaint little habit in this society of oura - I ask the AttorneyGeneral to deny it - that in a parliament and in a democracy we accept the innocence of people until they are proved guilty. I ask the Attorney-
General now whether he knows anything to the detriment of these people. 1 ask him because he is responsible; - or is he- -for those behind him who are yelling behind him, whether he knows of any- crime which has been committed against this country by Mr and Mrs Til of Narrabundah? Does he know? As Attorney-General he, of all people, should stand up and say: ‘I will defend to my back teeth the innocence of a person unless he is proven guilty*.
What we have seen tonight and what we have seen before is, in fact, trial by persecution. Honourable senators are getting up and naming people, as the Attorney-General did. I regard it as deadly serious that he should have named in this chamber the man Ivan Pavlovic as having, on his words, threatened to kill a Prime Minister, accepting full responsibility for the statement and then abdicating it. Or does the Attorney-General not abdicate it by shaking his head? I say that he should accept it. Let us be quite clear on this matter. As far as we are concerned these people will remain innocent until they are proven guilty. If the Attorney-General has any proof of guilt he should act on it. In the absence of that action every such person is innocent. Throughout last year honourable senators of the Australian Labor Party who are now sitting opposite me inveighed against the Government saying that, there must be no illegal entries into the homes of Australians. Does anyone in the Government say that the civil liberties of Australians should be infringed by breaking into houses without warrant and by seizing property? Does the Government now believe that it can bend the truth to suit its purpose?
In fact, the first term of this motion says that we are not going to have whit happened in Hitler’s Germany or elsewhere. In this country we are not going to have the knock on the door at midnight. We are not going to have a reign of terror initiated by government. God forbid. But that is what has happened. In this country there are 2 million decent people of migrant origin.
– Honourable senators opposite would not-
– Order! Senator Little, you must not interject. It is disorderly and you must be in your place when you want to attract my attention under beneficient conditions, not adverse ones.
– Mr President, we are on the air. CanI for clarification make it perfectly clear through you that that is the first time that Senator Little has interjected in any way. The babble has come from the Government benches.
– May I make it clear through you. Mr President, to this Parliament and the people of Australia, thatI find no disability in the continual barrage of interruptions by honourable senators on the Government side. If I want support for my arguments that today the Government is embracing tyranny and that it fails to understand the very conceptof democracy then the yells, screams and attempts to frustrate my speech from the honourable senators have provided that support. Tonight, the greater the truth of a democratic principle that has been spoken the greater honourable members opposite have yelled.
I say to this Senate that 2 million people have come to this country on our invitation. The overwhelming majority of them are decent, dignified people who fled from tyranny. They are seeking freedom. They deserve and will get the civil liberties to which they are entitled, whoever they are. This is the very duty ofan Attorney-General. We say quite clearly that we will have a committee which will inquire into something. Lest anyone think that I will gag this debate, I point out that on the contraryI have never done that.I never will. In a moment or two I shall seek leave to continue my remarks tomorrow. Lest that should in fact intrigue those on the bleachers let me continue. Those 2 million people are entitled to full freedom and liberty. On our view they will not be subjected to unlawful entry to their homes, unlawful seizure of property and unlawful trespass in their homes, whether they are Australians or Croatians. No amount of mouthing of mass slander against all Croats will do any good at all. The bulk of the Croatian people are first class people. Let Senator Gietzelt, who is interjecting, put up or shut up on this. In fact, let him bring the charges. Let him take the people to court, try them, and convict them. But if he does not know of any crime against a person let him stand up here and say that he accepts that the person is innocent. I wish to ask for leave to continue my remarks.
– Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate,I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND - The answer to the honourable senator’s questions are:
Sir Robert Madgwick, O.B.E., Chairman, 30 June 1973.
Mr A. M. Ramsay, C.B.E., 19 July 1973.
Mr A. G. Lowndes, C.B.E., Vice-Chairman, 6
Mr J. Tehan, 6 September 1974.
Mr A. J. Smith, O.B.E., 31 December 1974.
Mrs D. Edwards, O.B.E., 30 June 1975.
Mr M. A. K. Thompson, 20 September 1975.
Mr H. F. Lashwood, 8 January 1976.
asked the Minister’ for Repatriation, upon notice:
Will the Minister take steps to enable the wife of a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner who, in addition to his T & PI pension, is in receipt of a service pension, to receive a pensioner medical card so that she may receive medicines on a repatriation prescription.
Senator BISHOP - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Under the provisions of the National Health Act, the administration of which is the responsibility of the Minister for Social Security, eligibility for pensioner medical service benefits ceases when a pensioner’s means reach a certain limit. The limit applies to both Repatriation service pensions and social security means test pensions.
The position is that the means limit applying to eligibility for pensioner medical service benefits is the subject of an agreement with the Australian Medical Association which has indicated in the past that it would not agree to any easing of the means limit for eligibility for pensioner medical service benefits.
Mr BIJEDIC: VISIT TO AUSTRALIA ‘ (Question No. 202)
Senator CARRICK asked’ the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Will the Government issue instructions to Australia’s Ambassador-designate to the People’s Republic of China, Dr S. FitzGerald, that diplomats should confine themselves to carryingout their diplomatic duties and not engage in political controversy.
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for Foreign. Affairs has furnished’ the following reply to the honourable senator’s. question:
Such an instruction is unnecessary. I have the highest regard for Dr Stephen FitzGerald and I am confident he will carry out his duties with a high degree of professional judgment and skill.
asked the Minister repre senting the. Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
Will the Minister make it mandatory that in news broadcasts involving car accident reports, the make of the car involved be named so that the public will become aware of which cars are dangerous?
Senator McCLELLAND- While I appreciate the motives of Senator Townley in asking this question, I cannot accede to his request.
Even had I the power implied by the question, such an interference by a Minister in the procedure for compiling any news reports could set an unwise precedent. I would also point out that such a procedure might not be fair in that the causes of car accidents are complex and most authorities agree the major factor involved is driver error.
– On 11th April, Senator Devitt asked Senator Bishop the following question, without notice:
Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that as a consequence of revaluation many persons in Australia in receipt of British service and civilian pensions have had substantial cuts made in those pensions? In dealing with revaluation compensation in other situations, can the problems of British pensioners who have suffered in this way be given the most sympathetic consideration so that, if possible their living standards will be restored to the former level.
The answer to Senator Devitt’s question is as follows:
Pensions paid to Australian residents by overseas Governments or other Institutions, whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, are of course liable to change in terms of their Australian dollar value if the exchange rate between the currency of the country concerned and the Australian dollar changes. Such a change may occur either because of a change in the par value of the Australian dollar, such as was made on 23rd December last; or because of a change in the par value or central rate of the foreign currency concerned such as occurred in the case of the pound sterling when it was allowed to ‘float’ in June 1972; or because of a change in the relative valuation of the Australian dollar and the foreign currency concerned as a result of differing consequences for those currencies of action taken in the case of other major currencies, such as the devaluation of the United States dollar in February 1973.
In these respects the effects on the remittances concerned are not different in kind from the effects on other payments due to Australian residents in foreign currencies. Thus, while the Government sympathises with those individuals whose pensions payable from overseas sources may have been reduced in terms of Australian currency as a result of exchange rate changes, it would not be appropriate for it to seek to offset by specific action such reductions.
I should mention that, as a result of the recent exchange rate changes, some persons resident in Australia in receipt of a pension from the United Kingdom could have become eligible foran Australian Social Service pension for the first time and others could have qualified for an increased Social Services pension.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Has the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics given aid to Indonesia, up to 1966, totalling more than $ 1,050m, consisting of:
Senator WILLESEE - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: it is correct that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics provided aid to Indonesia in the form of loans prior to 1966, valued well in excess of $ 1,000m.
I am not in a position to confirm all the particulars listed at points (a) to (i) but the general suggestion that many of the projects have failed is correct. In several cases, notably the steel mill at Cilegon and the fertiliser plant at Cilacap, the, projects were still under construction when Soviet aid was abruptly terminated. They’ were never completed. It is also correct that a large proportion of the military equipment supplied to Indonesia by the Soviet Union is no longer serviceable. However, if it is intended to suggest that Indonesia is not capable of making proper use of external aid, that is ‘quite incorrect, as evidenced by the .very large number of projects established with external aid in that country which are operating well. .
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730509_senate_28_s56/>.