28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honourable Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10.59 a.m. and read prayers.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I will move that leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the National Library Act 1960-1967.
– On Tuesday of this week, the Attorney-General tabled a letter to himself from the Director-General of Security in which the Director-General stated that he had drafted and issued a telex message to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation staff on 28 March. I ask the AttorneyGeneral: In view of the fact that this is a continuing matter of intense public interest, and as what purports to be the telex message has been published in many newspapers throughout this country and the AttorneyGeneral has not as yet stated whether or not what has been published is accurate, will he now table in the Senate the telex message? If he will not, will he make a clear public statement as to why he will not?
– The answer is, no, I will not table it. As to the second part - the clear public statement - yes, I will make it now: The matter has been discussed with the Prime Minister who has indicated in the House of Representatives that he will not table the telex, and I propose to take the same course here as he is taking there.
– Does the Minister for Primary Industry recall Labor’s urgent demand last year for an early report by the Australian Wool Corporation on wool marketing reform based on acquisition, even to the extent of having written into the legislation a rigid time limit of 6 months in which a report and recommendations were to be tabled in the Parliament? Does the Minister also recall that earlier this year the Government indicated that the report would be available at the end of April in accord with Labor’s policy? As it is now almost the end of August and as yet no report has been released, can the Minister inform the Senate when the report will be available and what newly discovered reasons have caused the delay in its release?
– I am not aware of, nor would I consider myself responsible for, any comments which may have been made last year. I indicated earlied this year that I was hoping the report from the Australian Wool Corporation would be available about the middle of the year. But as I have indicated on more than one occasion, and as I did again only yesterday or the day before in answer to a question, I have told the Wool Corporation that I did not want the report hurried. Irrespective of what other opinions may have been expressed in the past, so far as I am concerned now as the Minister responsible, I am not going in any way to encourage the Wool Corporation to hurry that report. It is not likely that the report will affect the coming wool clip. For that reason, when I do have to make a decision on the matter I will have before me a properly documented statement.
– Does the Minister for Customs and Excise recall the hue and cry set up by members of the Australian Labor Party over the imposition of excise duty on wine because of its effect on grape growers? Has the Minister noticed a reported statement by the South Australian Labor Premier condemning the Federal Government for what he terms ‘directly inflationary and quite undesirable’ aspects of the Budget? Is he aware of the distress and dismay expressed by the Labor Premier of South Australia over the increased duty on brandy? Is it a fact, as Mr Dunstan has stated, that South Australia produces 90 per cent of the brandy made in Australia? As this impost will mean that other spirits will have an advantage over brandy, with obvious adverse effects on sales, will the Minister give sympathetic and urgent consideration to the submission that I understand is imminent from the South Australian Government, in the interests of the South Australian grape industry?
– I regret that I have not read the statement referred to; but assuming that what the honourable senator has stated is correct, there is no doubt that any sub- mission from the distinguished Premier of South Australia would be given every consideration by the Australian Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Does the Minister recall that during the last election campaign the Australian Labor Party promised not to reduce defence spending below 3.5 per cent of the gross national product? Will the Minister agree that earlier this year the Prime Minister and he modified that promise by pledging that the defence provision in this year’s Budget would be not less than 3.2 per cent of the gross national product? Does not the actual Budget defence vote fall short by 10 per cent of the Minister’s own modified pledge? How many further election promises does the Government propose to break? Will the Minister indicate the approximate date when the Government plans the final elimination of the Australian defence structure?
– The last part of the question asked by Senator Gair, as he well knows, is just nonsense. What the Government has done - I refer particularly to the reorganisation of the Services into one defence department - has been to place emphasis on spending on wages and salaries. I point out that approximately 62 per cent of the defence vote is related to improvements for personnel in the Defence Services. Everybody knows that one of the complaints by the LiberalCountry Party Government and by the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the old days was that Australia could not have a volunteer professional Army or Defence Service. The Labor Government has demonstrated that this is possible and has spent massive sums to increase defence salaries and to improve the defence forces retirement benefits scheme and has provided very significant funds for Service housing. This action has been outstanding. It has been applauded by everybody in the community.
In addition, as everybody knows, our repatriation benefits have been increased extraordinarily in the face of the demands which the Government has had imposed on it. We have done things in the repatriation field which the last Government refused to do over the years it held office. When I was a member of the Opposition in the Senate, in the course of considera tion of repatriation legislation I moved an amendment seeking to provide free hospitalisation for war veterans. That amendment was passed. Honourable senators will remember that when that amendment was sent to the other place the then Government forwarded to the Senate another Bill which had the effect of killing the proposition agreed to by the Senate. There were no squeals from anybody on that matter.
Since the Labor Party was elected to government, I have had the pleasure of announcing that in forthcoming legislation we will do exactly what my amendment previously proposed should be done. In this area, which obviously is a basic area of the defence Services, we have done extraordinarily well in a situation in which general welfare demands have been great. We promised the people that we would allocate resources to that area. As a result of that resources allocation, it is true that there are some minor setbacks.
Let me refer to the percentages mentioned by the honourable senator and look at what we are doing today. The defence expenditure proposed for this financial year, expressed as a percentage- of gross national product, is 2.9 per cent, which is slightly less than the percentage last year. That expenditure includes appropriations relating to the sorts of areas which I have mentioned and which have major significance in continuing the Services as an expert body in all areas. Let us look at annual appropriations for defence by the former Government. In 1962-63 the Liberal-Country Party coalition devoted 2.6 per cent of the gross national product to defence. In 1963-64, the figure was 2.9 per cent. I think anyone who reads the Press comments about this matter will find that people realise that the Australian Labor has done what it should have done in relation to the general allocation of funds for defence purposes. The reallocations are minor departures from the promises made by the then Leader of the Opposition. We have largely met our promises and we are going to ensure, as has been clearly stated, that the necessary examinations in the defence area will go on. They are complementary. This is the first time in our history that any government has tackled the problem of reorganising the defence Services and of avoiding the multiplicity of objectives and the strategies which have been the propositions of other governments.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Can he acquaint the Senate with the circumstances surrounding the setting aside of a court martial decision late in 1942 against Lieutenant A. L. Reid of South Hobart, Tasmania, who was the first Tasmanian to win a Military Cross during the Second World War? Is it a fact that the Governor-General has recently agreed to a submission from the Government that the court martial proceedings and the decision in relation thereto be set aside?
– Yes. Lieutenant Reid was a war hero. He had a record of outstanding gallantry. He was the subject of a court martial in 1942. Following that - I cannot give this information with any precision - objections were taken by him and on his behalf against the decision of the court martial which had found him guilty on several counts. Since that time repeated attempts have been made by him to have the matter rectified. He complained in substance that procedural irregularities were such that the court martial findings ought to be vitiated. His repeated attempts were unsuccessful. I had some acquaintance with the matter. I am able to tell you, Mr President, and honourable senators that I was able to recommend to the Government, in the light of the approaches now being taken to the administration of justice, particularly the requirements of natural justice, that the decision given in 1942 should not be allowed to stand today. It is gratifying to know that the long pursuit of justice has been successful and that the Governor-General has upheld the appeal, if one may call it that in simple terms, after some 21 years of struggle by Lieutenant Reid. I think this story is greater in its own way than that of ‘The Winslow Boy’. I think everyone should be pleased to know that this man has had his name cleared, especially as he is in advanced years and in declining health.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I ask: Is the Minister aware that a large overseas company is at present establishing a factory in Australia for the manufacture of automotive wiring harness? Further, as many Australian companies will be seriously threatened by the entry into the market of this large overseas company, what steps will the Minister take to have this matter investigated?
– I will have the matter inquired into. Perhaps the honourable senator will give me some further details. I imagine that it really comes within the province of other ministerial colleagues who are represented here, but I will see that it is looked into and that some reply is given to the honourable senator on the course of action, if any, that should be taken.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. What is the current position concerning the manufacturing in Australia of a buttervegetable oil spread?
– A great deal of research has been done into the manufacturing of a product which will combine the advantages of both butter and vegetable oils. Most of the work has been done in South Australia and New South Wales. The matter came before the Australian Agricultural Council only 3 weeks ago. The Council has accepted in principle that such a product should be manufactured and has agreed that further research on this product should be carried out but that no State should proceed with production until a report has been presented to the next meeting of the Council. This was felt necessary because the full implication of the relaxation of margarine quotas has not yet been felt. The Standing Committee of the Agricultural Council is required to report on the matter to the Council at its next meeting. The 2 States to which I have referred, South Australia and New South Wales, through their Ministers, offered to make available to the Australian industry all information that they have on this product. I feel certain that in a few months there will be on the Australian market a product which will combine the advantages of both butterfat and vegetable oils.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy aware that the Division of National Mapping holds numerous contracts with a private cartographic company named Co-ordinated Management Pty Ltd for that company to supply specialist services to the Division in Canberra? Is the Department of Minerals and Energy or the Treasury substantially in arrears of payment of moneys owing to that private company? Can it be construed that the actions of this socialist Government in not meeting its obligations on due dates are directed towards breaking the financial stability of this and perhaps other Australian companies?
- Senator Willesee, you represent the Treasurer. The question seems to be in your domain.
– I was not listening intently to the question but I picked up its purport. It seems that somebody owes somebody some money. I will certainly inquire into it. I. will see that the somebody who is owed the money is paid.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Repatriation, refers to the Minister’s earlier announcement that repatriation determining authorities will be required to give reasons for their decisions. What is the current position with these proposals for improvement?
– For the information of the honourable senator, the position is that trial reasons and methods are being worked out. They will apply to 2 appeal tribunals because the Labor Government feels that they are necessary procedures to perfect the system. We feel that each appellant ought to be entitled to know the reasons why his application was rejected or, for that matter, accepted. The failure to give reasons has been one of the long-standing complaints of the Returned Services League and other organisations, and has been an area of consideration and debate in this chamber: We have announced that we intend to introduce this system. When the methods are finalised, legislation will be introduced some time between laic September and November.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Media who, in this instance I think, represents the Prime Minister. Has the Minister seen the 54-minute film now showing in Australian theatres and produced by Mr Terry Bourke which shows 2 murders, a psychopath hacking off the hair of his victim, a horse shot and mutilated and an army of rats gnawing a young girl to death? Does the Government approve this type of film? If not, why, according to Mr Bourke, has he been allocated a Government grant of $165,000 for another film which he says will contain more violence than the last one?
– I have not seen the film because I do not patronise that type of program. My attention has been drawn to a newspaper article on which apparently the honourable member based his question. Lt is true that Mr Bourke, whatever his philosophy may be, has received assistance from the Australian Film Development Corporation for a number of projects in the past, including the film to which the honourable senator referred, ‘Night of Fear’. I note, however, that the article said Mr Bourke will get a grant next year for a western .called ‘Latrik’. Incidentally, the grant awarded by the Australian Film Development Corporation was awarded when the previous Government was in office. Referring to the statement that Mr Bourke is to get a grant next year for this western called ‘Latrik’ - I note that the newspaper article says that there will be a $165,000 grant - I think it fair to say that there is no way by which Mr Bourke could know this because I understand he has not yet even made application to the Corporation requesting money of this nature for the project. I should say also that the Film Development Corporation operates under an Act brought down by the previous Government. The Corporation is a completely independent statutory body with complete power to select whatever project it wishes to subsidise. The Corporation has backed a number of films for children, including a series recently sold for television called ‘The Yellow House’. As for films of this type referred to by the honourable senator, I am told that these must be cleared by the Australian Film Censorship Board before they may be exhibited in theatres. Mr Bourke’s films have been cleared by the official censors and I suggest to the honourable senator that it would be improper for the Film Development Corporation to consider itself to be a censorship body when there is an official body in existence to fulfil that role.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport what action has been taken to combat the increase*, circulation throughout the Commonwealth o forged overseas airline tickets.
– The question relates to what has been reported in the Press as forged Qantas Airways Ltd flight tickets. A message from Qantas indicates that the tickets were not forgeries but were stolen from overseas agents of Qantas. The thieves also stole a validating machine at the same time. The computer machines installed as part of the Qantas service throughout the world will immediately detect the presentation of such a ticket so there is no question of anyone travelling illegally. I think, however, that this matter should receive publicity in an endeavour to protect anyone who may be conned into purchasing such a ticket as he would be the loser in such a case.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does the Minister agree that the Budget brought down by his Government on Tuesday night will add substantially to the inflation which has been accelerating to dangerous levels since his Governemt took office early last December?
– The question is clearly out of order. It seeks an opinion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. With regard to current newspaper reports of iodine 131 being detected in milk supplies in Perth, will the Minister inform the Senate on the gravity of the situation and the action currently being taken by the Government?
– The Government, through its various agencies, is keeping a very careful watch on appearances of radioactive fallout in Australia. From discussions that have taken place in the Senate, honourable senators will be aware of the undesirability of any fallout. Let it be clear that the Government will give warning if it considers that any special steps should be taken by the public in regard to the matter. Proper warnings will be given and proper steps will be taken. I think it is enough for me to say that the Government is keeping the position under very careful surveillance.
’ -TECT OF BUDGET ON INCOMES
nator CARRICK - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the undertaking given in t!»c Labor Party’s policy speech that personal income tax scales of lower and middle income corners would be restructured downwards as that most pressing need’, in the words of the policy speech, to offset inflationary effects. Firstly, why, in view of the current unprecedented inflation, was that promise broken? Secondly, why was the main burden of financing the Budget increases placed upon the lower and middle income earners by the imposition of savage indirect taxes, the very regressive taxes which over the years the Labor Party has strongly opposed?
-Senator Carrick is obviously hopelessly confused about the Budget. The second part of his question has no basis of truth. As to the first part of the question in which he talks about scaling down income tax, we have said continually - we said it before the election - that 23 years of ineptitude of the previous Government could not be overcome in one year. We never said that any of our promises would be carried out in the first few months. We have found out only since we have been the Government the extent of both the ineptitude of the previous Government and the hopeless morass in which the various departments are floundering. Our promises will be carried out over a period of time and not in the first 6 or 7 months of our administration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Are there any plans for the development of the fishing industry in Australia?
– As I think is well known, Australia as a nation has not been a major taker of fish. I think we are about 50th in the world. However, the value of our exports places us as about the twelfth greatest exporter of fish in the world. This is due mainly to our sizeable exports of lobster and cray tails, and prawns. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates that there is a possible catch in Australian waters of 250,000 tons a year. Currently we are taking only about 15,000 tons. So it is evident that there is very large scope for improvement in the quantity of our catch. I should say that since it has been in office the Government has appropriated Sim for research, promotion and development work for fisheries in Australian waters. We do have plans in mind to assist the industry to develop. Of course the great problem is that it is necessary to have bigger boats working in the fishing industry. In the past one of the inhibiting factors has been the inability of fishermen to finance bigger boats and thereby to reduce their costs. As yet the Government does not have a specific plan but it is working on one whereby we can increase the take of fish in Australian waters.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Was the Minister for Overseas Trade voicing the opinion of the Australian Government when he said that he wished Australia could import meat to help combat rising prices? Did the Minister for Overseas Trade previously advocate the importation of butter and lamb from New Zealand? Was that suggestion supported by spokesmen for primary industry within the Labor Party? From which country would it be expected that cheap meat would be obtained? In view of the event in other parts of the world does the Minister agree that to import meat would increase alarmingly the risk of animal diseases entering this country? Finally, does the Minister agree that Australia will continue to rely heavily on overseas earnings to finance its expenditure on social welfare programs and that the meat industry can play an important part?
– I am not aware of any statement by the Minister for Overseas Trade concerning the importation of meat. I would be surprised if it were made in the context of actually hoping that meat was available.
– He said that.
– I am not sure. I did not see that. I do not know the context in which it was said. I can only say that it would be extremely unlikely that meat would be available from any overseas source. The same applies to the Minister’s alleged comment about butter and lamb. I am not aware that he has made any such statement. This is a matter which I shall refer to him specifically as I am not going to comment on it. As to the latter part of Senator Maunsell’s question, yes, the meat industry obviously is a major earner of overseas income for Australia. The Australian Government will do all it can to ensure that that situation continues. At the same time we have to be mindful of the position which obtains in Australia. I have quite clearly stated my opposition to interfering with the export of meat, but I have always had to qualify my position by saying that we have to keep a very careful watch on the developments which are taking place here. It could well be that it will be necessary to rethink our position on the export of meat. We cannot go on allowing a price/ supply situation in this country to become progressively worse. Nevertheless I am sure that whatever action may be taken will be taken in the interests of the Australian community as a whole.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that the people of Port Kembla are seriously perturbed at the continuing pollution problem in that area? Does the Minister know that citizens and trade unionists are now threatening to take direct action to force Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd to institute controls to reduce pollution? Is it a fact that Port Kembla is the most polluted town in Australia and that the pollution is fast reaching the dangerous levels existing in the United States? As the New South Wales Government has failed to take any effective action to control pollution will the Minister, as the Minister for Customs and Excise, consider the matter or, alternatively, discuss the matter with the Minister for Overseas Trade to consider making it a condition of approving steel exports that the company eradicate pollution at its steelworks at Port Kembla?
– It is evident that the problem of pollution is increasing in Australia. We had a Senate committee inquire into the causes and prevention of air pollution. That was the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution. From its report it is evident that there is an extremely serious problem.
– There was also a committee on water pollution.
– Yes, we had the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution. I understood Senator Gietzelt to be referring rather to air pollution at Port Kembla. I am not sure whether this area is the worst in Australia, but there is no doubt that this is a matter in which the Australian Parliament must become involved. The Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment has as part of its charter a continuing oversight of the problems of pollution and the preservation of the environment. It is clear that there is a legislative base for action to be taken by the Australian Parliament in a number of ways if we choose to legislate in respect of such pollution. I think that inevitably the Australian Parliament and the Government will have to become involved in those problems. Whether the solution can be found exactly in what the honourable senator suggests, I am not sure, but some solution ought to be found. Whether it is done in respect of the company being a trading corporation within the Commonwealth, because of its exports or because of a number of other factors, I think that some legislative action can be contemplated, and I will look into the suggestion made by the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. By way of brief preface I refer to the answers previously given to my questions when the Minister said that the Commonwealth was prepared to provide an operating subsidy for the King Island shipping services. Now that the ‘Straitsman’ is being restored to the service by the Tasmanian Government, has that Government made any application to the Commonwealth Government for a subsidy? If so, what has been the response from the Commonwealth Government? If no application has been made, is the Commonwealth still prepared to honour the undertaking to provide a subsidy to enable the freight rate to be reduced from the extremely high figure of $18.50 a ton for general cargo?
– The Commonwealth has been prepared at all times to subsidise -a shipping service to King Island. I was unacquainted with the fact that the Straitsman’ is being engaged by the Tasmanian Government. I shall take up the matter with the Minister for Transport and seek more details.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is egg production in the Australian Capital Territory to be increased, thus endangering the proposed national egg production scheme? If so, what steps does the Government intend to take to bring the Australian Capital Territory into line with similar production control measures being implemented by all State governments?
– No, it is not true. Moves were made to increase the quota which had been allocated to the Australian Capital Territory by the Australian Agricultural Council, and this matter was referred to ‘he Council at its last meeting. But there was unanimous opposition by all Ministers present, including myself, to increasing that quota because there has been a long history of dispute and negotiation between the States in trying to get an egg production control scheme under way. That has finally been achieved and it was felt unanimously that to increase the Australian Capital Territory quota would interrupt that very program which has taken so long to bring into operation. In short, the answer is no. The quota will remain as was previously allocated.
– My question ls directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. I refer to discussions in Adelaide yesterday at the annual conference of the Australian Universities Staff Association. At this conference there was criticism of Australian universities for producing what was called a glut of some specialists and a shortage of others. Can the Minister say whether any consideration has been given to the provision of training in what was described yesterday as community orientation? If not, will the Minister note this point and inquire whether there can be a response to a call for a greater breadth of interpretation in specialist education?
– 1 have not seen the report to which the honourable senator refers. I shall therefore refer the honourable senator’s question to my colleague in another place and see that he gets a reply.
– Can the Special Minister of State in his capacity as Minister representing the Treasurer indicate what progress has been made with the proposal announced some time ago to assist North Vietnam to rehabilitate its country? How much assistance has already been given by the Government?
Further, should it not be necessary for that country to absolve itself from all acts of aggression against its neighbours before any assistance whatever is forthcoming from this Government?
– Senator Lillico has added something new to a question which I have answered on several occasions. As I have said several times before, the Australian Government has stated’ that it stands ready to give generous aid to the Indo-Chinese states. Obviously one cannot give post-war aid while there is not a post-war situation. For instance, we are not yet in a position to give post-war aid to Cambodia. The second point I want to make is that we have said that we will give aid irrespective of the politics of the people concerned and their governments, however they might settle down in the 4 Indo-Chinese states. In North Vietnam there are people who are hospitalised. Also as a result of the bombings there are many amputees. This is one direction in which aid can be given. We are not very concerned - and probably the amputee is not very interested - whether we are giving aid to a communist government, a noncommunist government, a fascist government or a neutral government.
The point raised by Senator Lillico which I have not answered before concerns the amount of aid that has gone into Vietnam. At the moment applications have been made for wool and roofing iron to the value of approximately $660,000. This material is scheduled for delivery early in October. Aid to South Vietnam has been going on for some time and I think the figure for this year is about 75 per cent higher than that for last year.
– Does the Minister for Repatriation, who is also the minister assisting the Minister for Defence, recall election assurances that a Labor Government would provide greatly expanded work for Australian defence industries? How does he reconcile this pledge with last night’s announcement of major reductions in defence spending and the abolition of 7,000 defence jobs? Does the Minister agree the the scrapping of the DDL destroyer project and the failure to replace the Mirage aircraft will severely disrupt and reduce work available in our dockyards and in the aircraft industry? Is the Minister happy to find himself now presiding over the disman tling of Australia’s defence and the displacement of thousands of Australian workers from their jobs?
– Of course, Senator Kane can be expected to criticise what the Government has proposed. I have already answered this question in the general context in my reply to Senator Gair. The facts are - and I told the Senator this - that in the general context of the Budget the defence vote has been reduced slightly and this has affected manpower and will affect some work. But in the light of our objectives we have achieved more than any other government. I refer particularly to the things that the previous Government did not accept. Honourable senators opposite know quite well that never before have serving members of the Services been given such a good deal in respect of pay, allowances and pensions. Never has any Liberal coalition goverment planned to coordinate and rationalise the defence forces. As a result, we have found it necessary to reduce some civilian manpower. It is quite a joke to me to hear many senators opposite talk about reductions in civilian manpower because in every Estimates committee I have been on, and in some over which I have presided, the Liberals and Independents always have said: What about cutting civilian manpower?’
– Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I draw your attention to standing order 99 and inquire: Is the Minister debating the matter, contrary to the Standing Orders?
– I wish to conclude my answer. I think that, after his contribution last night, Senator Greenwood should be the last one to raise a point of order on that ground. As Senator Kane knows quite well, we have taken an active part in trying to get the Government Aircraft Factories on their feet. As everybody knows, over the years we and many people on the other side have contributed to debates which were designed to activate the former Government into obtaining increased work for the Factories. I had the pleasure, while I was Acting Minister for Defence, of getting through Cabinet an order for 50 Nomads. That is a substantial order. In addition, as has been mentioned previously, we hope that production of this aircraft, which we think is a goer, will result, with our marketing methods, in increased orders from many sources. These sorts of things will engage the work force in our defence capability.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise considered the submissions made by the New South Wales Field Ornithologists Club vigorously opposing the suggestion that the export of native birds be permitted?
– Yes, I have received that submission. Under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations, the export of native fauna, including birds, is prohibited unless the prior approval of the Minister for Customs and Excise has been obtained Approval normally is given for bona fide zoological or scientific purposes. Genuine household pets, which may on occasions include birds, may be exempted, provided that they have been personally owned for at “least 6 months.
The Senate may recall that, in reply to a question asked here about the increase in bird smuggling, I stated that I was examining the possibility of taking the profit motive out of this activity by permitting the export of some birds. That would be under satisfactory conditions so that the birds would not be subjected to the cruelty and the inevitable deaths which occur now. The fact is that there are a large number of private zoos - in Europe especially - which are extremely well conducted, lt would be reasonable, perhaps, to permit export under proper conditions to some of those zoos. There have been certain recommendations by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation. Representatives of the various government departments concerned in fauna conservation matters will be meeting shortly with a view to identifying the various courses of action which might be adopted in the future. The honourable senator may be assured that the Government will make an announcement if there is any intention to vary the policy in respect of the export of birds.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the ban on trade with France, imposed by trade unions and supported by leading members of the Government including the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr J. F. Cairns, still in force? Is it a fact that Dr Cairns on behalf of the Government recently signed a trade agreement accompanied by expressions of eternal friendship with China - a country which recently exploded a nuclear bomb which affected 7 times more people than the French nuclear tests did? Have Mr Hawke and the trade unions protested at the signing of the agreement, or do the Government and the trade unions regard the French bomb as being ideologically dirty and the Chinese bomb as being ideologically clean? Does the Government regard the different attitudes it adopts to trade with France and China as indicating a double standard?
– I do not accept what has been said by the honourable senator as to the attitudes or actions of the Government. I remind the Senate that the Government of Australia is engaged in litigation with the Government of France in the International Court of Justice. Any statement as to the Government’s attitude towards France would be made, and any action in regard to France would be taken, in the most formal manner. As to the other matter of protests about nuclear testing, it has been said again and again in this chamber and outside of it that the Government is resolutely opposed to the conducting of atmospheric nuclear testing and, for that matter, to any kind of nuclear testing by any country.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is prompted by a reply given by the Minister for the Media to a question asked of him by Senator McManus in which reference was made to the operations of the Australian Film Corporation and its virtual immunity from interrogation and scrutiny. I ask: Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate present to the Senate a list of the instrumentalities which could be described as statutory corporations, showing the date of their establishment and giving a brief summary of the functions of each of them and the nature of their accountability to this Parliament?
– Yes, I think that could be done and that it should be done. A great deal of concern has been expressed in the Senate and in the House of Representatives - it is not confined to any particular quarter - about proper relations between the Parliament, members of the Government and statutory corporations. Perhaps I will be permitted to say that an Estimates committee of the Senate was, last year and perhaps the year before, quite concerned about this matter. I found when 1 was in Africa that, curiously, one of the countries there had exactly the same kind of concern and that exactly the same kinds of problems were arising as between the government or the legislature and the statutory corporations.
– You may have to set up a continuing committee to overlook these corporations.
– That may well be so. Some very valuable studies have been conducted in universities over the years on the different terms in the Acts covering statutory corporations. The legislation gives different kinds of powers to corporations and provides for different kinds of relationships between them and the legislature or the Government. Changes have been made from time to time. It may interest the Senate to know that it is my understanding that Australia was the pioneer in the development of statutory corporations. In the middle of the last century we really led the world in evolving public corporations, especially in the transport field. They were then copied by other countries. So they have a very long history. There is a large number of these corporations. I will be very pleased to accede to the request of the honourable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Media been drawn to reports which indicate that the television program points system which came into effect last Sunday has made no difference to programming? Are there any indications that there have been favourable changes in the programming policies of the commercial stations?
– It is true that the new points system came into effect as from 19 August, which was last Sunday. I can tell the honourable senator that there has been not only a gradual increase in the number of Australian productions but also an improvement in the quality of Australian productions over the last few months. The fact of the matter is that the commercial stations have been gearing up for some months to meet the requirements of the new points system. As a result, by way of example, there has been a substantial increase in the number of hours in which professional variety programs are now being shown. When the present Government came into office the televising of professional variety programs occupied, I think, some twenty-six hours a week. There is now a total of some 42 hours a week. In addition, the programming arrangements of the stations are planned in advance, so that the changes which have been made have not been made on a sudden, ad hoc basis, as it were.
All the stations have committed themselves to increased spending on Australian programs. I think that there will be noticeably more Australian productions in variety, drama and children’s programs put to air in the next few months. This applies particularly to children’s programs, which is an area that has been very much neglected previously. I noticed in a number of newspapers only this morning that 3 new children’s programs are contemplated in the immediate future. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, which is not covered by the points system but which takes cognisance of it, is putting to air next Sunday night a production called ‘Seven Little Australians’ which is based on Ethel Turner’s novel. I understand that it is being telecast at 7.30 p.m. next Sunday.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Is it a fact that the Minister for Minerals and Energy and the Western Australian Minister for Mines have jointly commissioned a feasibility study by engineers of a gas pipeline linking Palm Valley, Perth, Kalgoorlie and Dampier? Is it a fact that the successful tender for the feasibility study is the Bechtel Pacific Corporation Ltd, a wholly owned American firm of consulting engineers and contractors, despite the fact that tenders from several Australian firms of consulting engineers were received? If this is the case, why was the Bechtel company chosen in preference to the Australian firms?
– I have no specific knowledge of this matter, so I will refer it to the Minister concerned and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Yesterday I asked him a question about a document setting out the pros and cons of the export of merino rams from Australia. He inadvertently failed to answer that part of the question. I now ask him: Is this document being prepared? If so, who are the authors of the document?
– I omitted to answer that part of Senator Young’s question yesterday. I think that from my omission arose the misunderstanding between himself and the President. A pamphlet has been prepared. It is to be distributed to all wool growers before the referendum. It was prepared in consultation with the constituent bodies of the Australian Wool Industry Conference namely the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council, and also the Stud and Merino Breeders Association. Their views as to the manner in which the 2 arguments should be put were sought, in conjunction with the views of my Department. I have not yet seen a copy of the pamphlet. I understand that a final draft has been prepared. I feel quite sure that the respective arguments will be put fairly. If I feel that they are not being put fairly I will have the document redrafted.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry read reports about Japanese wool spinners offering to support financially the expansion of wool production in Australia? Has the Government been requested to take any role in this move by the Japanese?
– I saw a reference to what appears to be an offer by Japanese wool buyers. Apparently they are concerned about the possibility of a supply problem next year - in the coming season for wool. That is quite understandable. I understand that Mr Clarke, the Managing Director of the International Wool Secretariat, had certain discussions while he was in Tokyo. It was from these talks that the apparent offer stemmed. I believe it is not an entirely new approach but I have had no indication from industry as to whether it would be interested. I imagine that if the Japanese wool buyers are sufficiently interested to proceed with this idea it really is a matter for them to contact industry groups in Australia. I am quite sure that the Australian Government would be only too willing to assist as a liaison body if the industry felt that it was desirable to conduct these negotiations with the Japanese.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I am sure that the Minister will be aware of the concern that has grown since the Budget announcement of the withdrawal of sales tax exemption for cordials containing a percentage of fruit juice and the impact this will have on the apple, pear and citrus industries. I noticed what has been said on this matter by the task force presided over by Dr Coombs but it leaves a blot which needs examination. It is said, for instance, that 15 per cent to 17± per cent of the apple crop will have to be dumped in future as a consequence of the loss of this market and probably that represents a million cases. In view of these effects, will the Minister arrange, before the debate on the proposed legislation, for an examination of the economics of the proposal by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, a representative of the Tariff Board, or a specialist officer of this Department, and circulate a report in adequate time for consideration before that legislation is introduced?
– I am aware of the consequences which will flow to the fruit industry as a result of the decision. As I indicated yesterday in answer to a question on this matter, the extent to which it will affect growers will be minimal. This does not make me unmindful of the fact that it will create greater strains on the industry. For that reason I am asking my Department to look at the consequences of the removal of this concession. As soon as I have obtained a proper report I will see what action I can take to alleviate what problems may flow from it.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-66 I present the report of the Council of the Institute for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with the Institute’s financial statement and the report of the Auditor-General on that statement.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on the effect of stopping freeway construction in State capital cities.
– For the information of honourable senators I present communiques relating to the meetings of the ministerial council established to oversight the growth of the Albury-Wodonga area held in Albury, Canberra and Wodonga on 9 March, 23 May and 4 July 1973 respectively.
– Pursuant to section 168 of the Trade Practices Act 1971-72, I present the Sixth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices with respect to his operations during the year ended 30 June 1973.
Reports on Items
– Ipresent the report of the Tariff Board on synthetic rubber latex. I present also the following report by the Tariff Board which does not call for any legislative action: 2,4,5-T products and 2,4,5-Trichlorophenol and its salts (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
– For the information of honourable senators I present the joint communique issued at the conclusion of the visit to India by the Prime Minster (Mr Whitlam) from 3-6 June 1973.
– I present the plan of the research laboratory at North Clayton which will be the subject of notice of motion today.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public
Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
– I lay on the table the report of the Reserve Bank of the operations of the Reserve Bank of Australia together with the financial statements and reports of the Auditor-General thereon for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– I seek leave to make a statement on Australian defence.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is a long statement identical with the one made last evening by the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, in the House of Representatives. It would take about an hour to read and unless the honourable senators want it read I ask that it be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The defence vote for 1973-74 is $ 1,345m. This compares with an actual expenditure during 1973-73 of $ 1,285m. My purpose this evening is to set out some of the Government’s thinking on defence, with particular reference to the strategic situation we now find, the capabilities which exist in our forces, and in the light of these the financial and other provisions which should now be made for defence. The nation’s security is the Government’s first responsibility. Labor policy calls for a strong and valid defence capability that will demonstrate beyond all doubt the nation’s intention to defend itself and its vital interests. There can be no neglect of defence. In determining policy regarding the shape and size of the defence force and its capabilities, at any time the government of the day will give firstconsideration to the strategic prospect facing the nation. It will assess the possibility of military pressure or threats against Australia and of other situations which might require evidence of defence strength or some involvement of the defence force.
Given the long lead time necessary to acquire and develop many of the capabilities of the force, it is necessary to assess not only the immediate situation but the likely situation in future. Shortly after taking office I called for such an assessment to cover the next IS years. There are bound to be uncertainties about the future, particularly about the later part of such a long period. The principal findings, however, are clear and I believe that they allow us to plan our defence policy with a good measure of confidence. We shall regularly review the assessment made now to allow timely decisions for the development of the defence force should future assessments indicate a requirement for this.
At the present time, however, it can be said that Australia’s situation is favourable and that various important factors and trends in the.international situation support Australia’s security into the longer term. We and our advisers do not at present foresee any deterioration in our strategic environment that would involve consideration of the commitment of our defence force to military operations to protect Australia’s security or strategic interests. This view of Australia’s long term security was, I may remind the House, the view accepted by previous governments in recent years. Yet they continued to commit Australian forces to unnecessary operations in Vietnam which were not only unwarranted, but counter-productive. They did not cease that involvement until the United States withdrawal was under way. This Government would, of course, be prepared to consider the use of Australian forces abroad in support of United Nations peace-keeping operations, if this sort of situation arose and we could make a useful contribution.
Let me indicate briefly the nature of the factors and trends to which I have just referred. Australia is not a global power, but we have twice this century become involved in world wars and could not remain unaffected, and probably uninvolved, were global conflict once more to threaten. At present, however, there is a very strong trend away from this prospect. The ability of the 2 super powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, to destroy each other by nuclear exchange has placed substantial restraint on direct military confrontation. There is significant movement towards detente between them and co-operation in the handling of situations that could lead to critical con frontation. China for its part has effected some rapprochment with both the United States and Japan, and has strong interests in the avoidance of major international conflict.
Another important factor in the global situation is in the economic field. In particular, the growing dependence of large industrial economies on the uninterrupted, world-wide flow of raw materials places increasing importance on the stable management of international relations. This consideration is of particular importance to major economic powers such as Japan and the West European countries.
Political competition among the major powers can, of course, be expected to continue. Nor can we rule out the possibility of limited local conflict during the years ahead in various parts of the globe. But present trends generally point to a prospect of relative stability in the global order. Any major, protracted conflict, drawing nations into general war, appears remote.
In South East Asia, any risk of military confrontation between the major powers has substantially receded. Fighting continues in Indo-China, but in our view only the people of that region themselves can reach the political settlements necessary to bring an end to military conflict. This Government has ended completely all Australian military involvement in Indo-China, and we have no intention of involving the nation there again.
The countries forming the Association of South East Asian Nations - Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia - have made substantial advances in nation building and regional co-operation. There continue to be many problems of development and areas of local insecurity. We can, and do, try to assist development, by our aid and co-operation programs. But we understand that the regional governments see internal security questions as their own domestic concern and are not looking for external involvement in internal security situations.
The ASEAN governments have been discussing proposals for a ‘zone of peace, freedom and neutrality’ in South East Asia that would preserve their security and independence and allow them to pursue their national and regional development free from disruption by military confrontation in the region. Such proposals have obvious interest for Australia and we have made clear our support for this initiative. Australia has an abiding interest in the security and peace of South East Asia and we welcome moves that can further reduce the likelihood of military confrontation there.
Pending neutralisation, this Government will continue to honour the Five Power arrangements. We do not accept that these arrangements require the stationing of forces in Malaysia and Singapore indefinitely and we have already arranged for the phased withdrawal of Australian ground forces from Singapore. However, a RAAF detachment of some 1500 and our Mirages will remain at Butterworth at least until we review the situation again in 1975, and we shall continue to maintain a small naval presence in the area.
Closer to home, our largest neighbour is Indonesia. Honourable members will be well aware of the friendly relations we enjoy with that country and this Government’s intention to give central emphasis to the further development of these relations. We are maintaining the defence co-operation program with Indonesia begun under the previous Government and I have said that we shall support a successor program. Close defence understanding with the Government of Indonesia is at all times important to Australia and I much welcome our fruitful and friendly exchanges with Indonesia in this field.
In Papua New Guinea there is now a clear movement towards final independence and we are closely involved with the Government there in discussions about the development of their defence force. The process of localisation is proceeding effectively and at an increasing pace, although Papua New Guinea is likely to continue to require assistance from Australia for some time to come. No threat of external military attack against Papua New Guinea is foreseen and we see no major risk to Australia’s security arising there. Regarding internal security, honourable members will have noted the important statement on 20 August by the Minister for Defence and Foreign Relations in the Papua New Guinea Government, Mr Kiki. The Minister said that PNG was determined to look after its own security problems in the future’ and:
No country can lightly contemplate either the dispatch of their own forces or the acceptance of foreign forces to deal with an essentially domestic situation’.
I can say that Mr Kiki’s views are very much in accord with those of this Government, and, I am confident, those of all members of the House.
The favourable developments in the strategic environment that I have outlined strongly support our view that Australia is unlikely to come under strategic pressure or military threat. This is the current assessment. As I have said, we shall review it regularly so that as any changes are discerned they can, as necessary, be reflected in defence policy and in the development of our military forces. Wc can, however, at this stage responsibly look to the future in reasonable confidence that no significant requirement is likely to arise for the operational commitment of our forces. We believe that any change would take time and would allow us to develop the response necessary. We shall certainly maintain Australia’s security association with the United States and New Zealand under the ANZUS Treaty. We place much value on this association. It would be of the utmost importance to Australia should a major threat ever develop again in the Pacific area. In the meantime, it sustains contact and co-operation in a variety of practical defence fields and in consultations about defence and security matters that are of advantage to all 3 partners in the alliance.
This assessment of the situation Australia is likely to face in the next decade does not, of course, mean that Australia can dispense with defence strength. I have already referred to uncertainties in the longer term. In matters affecting the nation’s security it is necessary to move with prudence. I wish to stress also the extent to which Australia nowadays and in the future must accept the primary and independent responsibility for safeguarding our security and strategic interests. We are no longer simply a junior partner whose activities are largely shaped by the strategic and military policies of more powerful friends. We shall maintain our co-operative relations with them, which we greatly value. But we cannot assume that their interest in local and regional situations will necessarily be the same or as close as ours. Nor is it our wish or intention simply to sit back and rely on them to safeguard and protect us. We must maintain a defence capability that accords with our foreign policy.
The modern situation requires Australia to be more self-reliant than in the past, and this is very much in accord with this Government’s view of our independent national status. We must have forces in being for the surveillance and patrol of the environs of this continent. We must maintain our ability to be a source of military advice, technology and training which are helpful in the development of the defence capabilities of other countries in our region with whom we maintain defence co-operation and aid programs. There can be scope for further Service assistance to community tasks beyond what is already done. This is now being explored. Above all, it will be important to maintain in being sufficient skills and capabilities to allow timely expansion of the forces, should this again become necessary.
But the favourable strategic prospect allows us an opportunity to review and rationalise, to promote more efficient and economical defence capabilities. After the more or less continuous defence expansion of the last 10 years, it is a time for taking stock, for pruning back activities whose original purpose has changed, for eliminating redundancies that have crept into our force structure. We intend to make full use of the opportunity presented to us. Where savings can responsibly be made, we shall make them. Where new acquisitions of equipment and other costly defence expenditures can be reduced or deferred without prejudice to the essential capabilities of our defence forces, we intend to use the resources for higher community priorities. Balanced judgments must be made of the kind and extent of forces that would permit expansion in the time available if changes to the strategic position become apparent to the Government. The feasible rate of expansion would depend essentially on the size and nature of the base force - the core force - and the resources the nation would be able to put into the development of this force. The core force would not be a manpower intensive force. But it must have sufficient modern defence components and skills and be of the size and organisational framework that would permit expansion in time of need.
We should all be conscious of the fact that Australia has developed over the past decade a very significant level of defence capabilities. There has been a very substantial growth in manpower and equipment, and in some forms of defence facilities, although not in others. Much modern and complex equipment has been introduced or is on order. We are now self sufficient in many areas where we were not so before. We have consequently reached a stage of force development where we should appraise the forces we have in being as a whole in relation to likely tasks. We must consider whether replacements of capabilities in the Air Force or Navy, or Army, or Supply establishments are all essential at this stage and whether they need to be on a one for one basis. We must be alert to the prospect that new needs will emerge for capabilities not now in existence. Along with this, we ought to reduce or retire any defence capabilities which we believe have a lower priority in the future or which can be readily re-developed. In our strategic situation, there can be military, economic and technological benefit in extending the life of some equipments we already have, so that advantage can be taken of foreseen improvements in technology later on. There can be some general reductions in the tempo of Service activities. All these considerations are leading to a thorough re-assessment of our defence forces.
I turn now to the current provision that is being made for maintaining and developing the capability of our defence forces. I shall review the position on a functional rather than a Service basis. The main elements of the maritime force are the ships and other vessels and maritime aircraft which provide for maritime defence, surveillance, patrol and other maritime roles. The present maritime force is centred around 11 effective destroyers; one aircraft carrier backed by 19 fixed- wing attack aircraft and 15 fixed and 21 rotary-wing anti-submarine aircraft; 2 RAAF long range maritime patrol aircraft squadrons totalling 22 aircraft; 15 patrol boats (an additional 5 operate in the Papua New Guinea Division); and 4 submarines.
The maritime force will in due course be complemented by current projects for 2 additional submarines under construction and for anti-submarine-cargo helicopters which will replace some existing rotary-wing aircraft. A variety of naval vessels complements the main fleet units, including support craft, landingcraft, a destroyer tender, mine counter measure vessels, survey and oceanographic ships, and so on.
In line with our aim to achieve desirable economies, I have already announced the decision I have taken to pay off the ageing fleet transport HMAS ‘Sydney’, which would otherwise have required considerable expenditure to maintain her through to the end of her life projected for 1974. This expenditure would have been quite unjustified. It has been decided that the second training ship, HMAS Anzac’, can be paid off when HMAS Duchess’ completes her conversion refit in 1974. The naval component of the force provides a substantial force in being. From this could be developed a very much larger Navy should it be required. The Navy is most unlikely to be out-classed in strength or quality by countries in the Australian region of strategic interest within the time scale of the present strategic review. It must be note a however, that substantial capital investment is necessary to maintain this comparative effectiveness. The distances involved in our area, and the lack of ports and naval bases, make long range and sea-keeping attributes an important part of the naval force component. This requires the maintenance of a core of substantial ships.
The naval component has the type of units which contribute - especially in conjunction with maritime patrol aircraft and aircraft providing strike attack and defence - to meeting the appropriate fundamental requirements for the protection of Australia and its immediate environment. The naval force can assist in coping with any intrusions into territorial waters and fishing and resource zones. It provides considerable support to civil authorities. It could, in the present strategic environment, deter to a great extent any minor harassment and interference with Australian sovereign control. As I indicated while in opposition and again earlier this year, I have been giving particular attention to the escort strength of the RAN and the need for new destroyer construction. The two Daring Class destroyers in the fleet have recently been modernised.
A decision was taken by the previous Government to proceed with the modernisation of the 3 Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers. This will cover the overhaul and modernisation of the 5-inch guns; updating the Tartar missile system to enable it to use the more advanced Standard missile; and installation of a computerised automated command -and control system. Further, and in line wilh maintaining our existing destroyers as ope’;, tionally effective fleet units, it is the Government’s intention to proceed with the refit arc modernisation of some, at least, of the older River class destroyers during the latter half of this decade. The extent to which these ships should be updated is being critically reviewed, taking into account of the assessed importance of the individual weapons systems to our likely strategic situation in the 1980s, the costs involved and the manpower and maintenance savings that can be achieved. Work is continuing on the Australian development of Project Mulloka - a new improved sonar which may be part of the update of these antisubmarine warfare ships.
The need for new destroyer construction has been examined against this background. The Government recognises the importance of naval strength to Australian defence preparedness, and has endorsed the need for a new destroyer acquisition program for the Navy to maintain its strength in the 1980s. But before any specific decisions are reached on this important matter, more detailed study is necessary into a number of aspects. There is the question of timing and priority and looking to the best opportunity. The provision of 3 Australian designed and built destroyers for the RAN - under the DDL program - has been estimated to involve $355m project cost over the next 10 years, but experience of ship construction shows a strong tendency for costs to escalate. We have to bear in mind that a high proportion of defence expenditure is already committed to strengthening our maritime capability rather than other needs. After thorough consideration of all the circumstances the Government was not satisfied that the previous Government’s decision to acquire light destroyers of the particular Australian design and characteristics is the most appropriate solution. In the light of that decision I have directed the Defence/ Navy investigators to examine naval development overseas, taking also into account the current strategic assessment to which I earlier referred. The position will be further reviewed next year.
I realise this decision will come as a disappointment to many who have been closely involved in the DDL proposal. I would like to express the Government’s appreciation of the work of all the many participants in the project, in Government and industry, both in Australia and overseas. To date some $1.7m has been spent on the project, principally on design investigations and management consultancy. This work has been valuable and will provide a firm basis for the continued study of ?he requirement for a new destroyer construction program. The Government has decided to proceed with the construction of a new oceanographic ship. This ship will provide capability which will be of much benefit in both the military and civil fields for work in ocean research, including resource exploration. We have decided that there is no need to proceed at this time with the construction of a fast combat support ship, capable of underway replenishment of the fleet. It has been assessed that such a ship would not be required before about 1980, when HMAS ‘Supply’ is expected to be retired. I believe that a less sophisticated and less costly ship than that originally proposed at a cost now estimated at around S69m might be more suitable. This is being further examined.
The need in the future for the acquisition of maritime surveillance aircraft continues to be examined. We have at present one squadron of Orion aircraft and one squadron of Neptune aircraft, the latter reaching the end of its life later in the decade. We are considering what is needed to meet projected military and, in conjunction with civil authorities, civil offshore surface surveillance tasks. The Naval air power study will assist in this examination. That study will also contribute to the consideration of the possible future need for a seaborne aircraft platform when HMAS ‘Melbourne’ goes out of commission. But these matters are not for decision now. With the paying off of HMAS ‘Sydney’, and other economies, savings in both Service and civilian manpower can be achieved. These are being put into effect. I shall refer to this again later.
I turn now to our ground force strength of which the Army naturally provides the major and essential component. The Navy and Air force contribute associated support for sea and airlift and ground attack by land and sea based aircraft. Following the recent review of the Army, there is to be a better balance between the field force and the Australian support area. This has led to a planned increase in the field force of about 2,000 men this year with a corresponding reduction in the support area component. This increase will enhance our capability to provide effective ground forces should any low level situation arise to which the Government may decide it is necessary to respond; and it will provide a sound basis for expansion should our strategic circumstances change. As previously announced, the divisional structure will be retained for the Army, with 3 Task Forces each of 2 battalions. I shall be extmining critically the various combat and supporting elements, the need to maintain particular military skills at particular levels, and their balance in relation to the likely strategic situation. With the cessation of active operations and the phasing out of national service, the support component of the Army, both Service and civilian, has now become excessive in relation to the field force and the level of capability required. Less essential activities are being curtailed and numbers will be reduced accordingly.
As part of ground force maritime support, the acquisition of 8 heavy landing craft will provide the capability to transport men and material in coastal movement. For air support of ground forces, the present substantial Mirage force has a ground attack role, and Navy’s 19 Skyhawk attack aircraft, whether sea or land based, also provide an attack capability. Air transport support of the ground forces will be provided by 2 squadrons each of Hercules and Caribou aircraft and Utility Helicopters now in service, shortly to be complemented by the additional capability provided by medium lift helicopters. There are a number of armoured vehicle proposals now being studied including the replacement of the Centurion medium tank, the acquisition of fire support vehicles and bridging equipment. These and other proposals will be submitted to the Government for decision at the appropriate time.
Turning to our air capability, the main offensive and defensive units are 24 F111C strike aircraft and 87 Mirage air defence and ground attack fighters. We have carefully reviewed the present provision for air defence capability. While recognising the dual role of air defence and ground attack for the Mirage fighters, and the need to maintain complex skills in both these areas, our strategic situation can no longer justify maintaining 4 squadrons of costly Mirage flying effort. Accordingly, it has been decided in the present circumstances to disband one of the Mirage squadrons. Two fighter squadrons will continue to be deployed for the time being in Malaysia, and the third squadron at Williamtown near Newcastle.
This will amply meet the present requirement. Our Mirage aircraft provide Australia with an air defence force that is very unlikely to be outclassed in our strategic area of concern. With the phasing out of one Mirage squadron, and the consequential reduction in overall flying effort, it is expected that the life of the aircraft remaining will be extended into the 1980s. This decision has the effect of deferring until later in the decade the need to acquire a new tactical fighter. The reduced flying of Mirage aircraft will also reduce the need for maintaining the present training effort on both the Macchi and the Winjeel trainer aircraft. Substantial manpower savings can be achieved. This decision also has an important bearing on the future of the aircraft industry to which I will refer later.
In support of our major air force elements, there is one Canberra squadron now being used for target flying roles and photographic tasks, and a number of other support and training aircraft. The acquisition of the New Zealand CT4 Air Trainer as a replacement for the Winjeel will proceed in the coming year. But as a consequence of the reduced flying training effort now required, there will be a reduction in the number of aircraft to be required. I have already referred to RAAF maritime and transport squadrons.
I turn now to the manpower position in the light of the Government’s general policies, the need for some restructuring of our forces to which I have referred, and the manifest scope for economies. This Government abolished conscription soon after it came to power. It decided to depend fully on volunteers for manning the Army, and the Navy and Air Force. There has been no shortage of volunteers, and more Servicemen are reengaging when their terms of service expire. As I have said on many occasions, this Government has already successfully demonstrated that all-volunteer forces can be raised during peacetime if the right policies are adopted. Central to the Government’s policy on all volunteer forces is the principle that terms and conditions for Service personnel should be no less attractive than those available for the community generally. This is essential if we arc to have adequate forces with the necessary high level of efficiency and morale. 1 need not repeat here all that has been done by this Government in the areas of pay and conditions and in retirement, resettlement and repatriation benefits.
A central problem in developing an adequate force structure is to decide on the correct balance between manpower and equipment expenditures, capital works, communications and so on. During the last decade Service manpower, excluding National Servicemen, increased substantially from 50,100 in June 1963 to 71,300 in June 1973. Civilian manpower increased from 36,600 in June 1963 to 51,300 in June 1973. Over this same period of a decade pay rates also increased substantially. In 1973-74 some S713m, that is, no less than 53 per cent of the $l,345m appropriation for defence, is expected to be spent directly on Service and civilian pay. There is, of course, in addition, considerable expenditure on administration, stores, etc., which is closely related to manpower numbers. It is essential to make more money available for major equipments, for much needed improvements to Service accommodation, for improvements to defence bases and for other capital projects that will put Australia in a better position in future years to meet a threat should one arise. We have therefore decided to make way for capital programs to meet the uncertain future, by controlling expenditure on manpower in the present low risk period.
Flowing partly from the review of Service activities which I have already discussed, and partly from achievable economies in the use of manpower, reductions in Defence manpower will be effected. Civilian manpower in the Defence group of departments will be reduced by about 4,500 or 9 per cent during 1973-74. Civilian employment in the Department of the Navy will fall by 880, in Army by 1,300, in Air by 400, in Supply by about 1,850. These reductions will include the Defence Research and Development Laboratories, Supply factories and naval dockyards, to which I will refer later. The greater part of the civilian employment reduction will, however, be achieved through attrition, that is, by not replacing wastage. Terminations of employment will be kept to the practicable minimum and, where necessary, the Department of Labour and the Public Service Board will provide assistance with re-employment.
There will be a reduction of some 2,300 or 3.2 per cent in Service manpower. The Navy will come down during 1973-74 by 1,100 and the RAAF by 1,200. The Army, on the structure I have already indicated, will effect some economies in the Australian Support Area, which will be reduced by about 2,000 to about 19,600, keeping the Regular Army total strength constant at some 31,150 during 1973-74.
Almost all of the Service reductions will be made by not replacing wastage. Retrenchments of servicemen are unlikely to be necessary except for a relatively small number in certain ranks and musterings. Where they arc in suitable categories they will be considered for inter-Service transfer. There will continue to be a need for a considerable number of recruits in 1973-74. I am satisfied that these cuts in manpower represent necessary and indeed in some cases overdue economies and will not impair the defence capabilities we need in present circumstances.
In association with the re-appraisal of our force structure a major re-appraisal is also being made of our defence industrial base. By their very nature defence industries are in large part sustained by the workload generated by the needs of the Defence forces. Much of our Government-owned defence production capacity was established in World War II and has been updated in part to carry out new tasks. It has capabilities for production on a scale far beyond that envisaged as necessary under current strategic assessments. It should have been reviewed by our predecessors in office.
In redirecting the activities of our defence industries there will be problems of adjustment. To a large extent these problems will occur because change has been avoided for too long. The changes in Service activity and equipment procurement which I have already mentioned will result in a lower level of orders being placed on industry and on naval dockyards and government factories in the next few years. Further, a major review is being carried out of the policies governing the Service’s stockholdings of munitions and other items. I find that these policies have remained unaltered since 1963, despite the great changes which have taken place in Australia’s strategic situation during the decade. In some cases unnecessary stockholdings, financed by the taxpayer, have been accumulated. The present review is expected to lead to a lower level of authorised holdings and the need to run down some of the existing holdings by reductions in orders covering peacetime usage. The Services have a combined stockholding valued at many hundreds of millions of dollars and more efficient management of a resource of this size is essential and long overdue. Because of these considerations, it is necessary to review and adjust the operations of the Government munitions factories moving towards some definite longer term objectives.
We want to dispense with those activities which have outlived their usefulness while retaining those of a continuing validity and providing for their future development in line with our prospective needs in the 1980s. Progressive nationalisation of activities and concentration in fewer sites will be examined. In the short term, the reduction in orders from the Services will mean an unavoidable contraction of workload in the munitions factories. Where possible the associated reduction in employment will be made by non-replacement of employees who resign or retire. But retrenchments will be necessary in some factories. In city areas the present full employment situation should ensure quick re-employment of those displaced. Efforts are being made to lessen the effect on country areas.
Early this year I announced that a study was being made aimed at rationalisation of activities in the aircraft industry. The Government has examined this question, but it was evident that the decisions which needed to be made on equipment for the Services and the level of service activity had a vital bearing on the future workload and size of the industry and hence on the direction of rationalisation. The Government has now taken these decisions and I will press for a rapid conclusion to the rationalisation discussions. There will also be significant alterations to the pattern of future workload for our naval dockyards. The extensive modernisation of our 3 Charles F. Adams class destroyers was to have been carried out in United States dockyards. This work involves updating the missile fire control systems and the installations of new digital data systems. I have directed that ways be developed to do at least two of these modernisations in Australia. This work will be undertaken at Garden Island, and as a consequence, it will be necessary to transfer significant amounts of other refit and fleet maintenance work to the other 2 naval dockyards.
As I have already indicated the Government will proceed with a project for the acquisition by the Royal Australian Navy of a new oceanographic ship. Construction work will be undertaken at Williamstown Naval Dockyard to offset the results of the various decisions taken in reviewing the defence program on the workload of this dockyard. As a result, it will be necessary to decline all tenders submitted for construction of this ship. Any inconvenience to tenderers is regretted. Other new work of importance to the naval dockyards will include the refit of some of the older River Class destroyers to which I referred earlier. Planning is now underway to redirect the future development of the naval dockyards to these new circumstances. In the short term, there will be a need for some reduction in the work force particularly at Williamstown dockyard. Where possible this reduction will be made by normal attrition.
In line with our across-the-board reassessment of the structure of forces a review has been made of the expenditure proposed on constructing, procuring and maintaining defence facilities. In present strategic circumstances, I have decided to extend the completion of the next phase of the Western Australian Naval Support Facility, HMAS Stirling’, at Cockburn Sound, by 3 years, that is, from 1975 to 1978. Some components of the. project which can be regarded separately, the armament depot and jetty and the large ships wharf, have been deferred for later decisions as to commencement.
As previously announced, a comprehensive study is proceeding within my Department to assess the most suitable location for Australian defence bases. The study will embrace not only considerations of strategic need but also the relationship of defence establishments to urban development proposals and the need for Service personnel to be integrated as fully as possible with the general community. The study will pay particular attention to the question of the Services’ land requirements and to the identification of areas of land now held by the Services which might be released for other uses. The Government recognises that much of the living and working accommodation at the various defence establishments at the present time is old and sub-standard and that significant expenditure will be necessary to provide servicemen and servicewomen with facilities that can be regarded as acceptable by today’s standards. It is planned in future years to spend considerable amounts on replacing war-time facilities which are still in use.
In the same way, we will be diverting considerable sums towards the provision of adequate housing for Service families. In 1972- 73, expenditure on Service housing throughout Australia was some $6m. We are planning to more than double that amount in 1973- 74. Apart from new construction, we are looking at the possibilities of purchasing established dwellings, and we are pursuing a policy of upgrading and improving the older married quarters which were built to standards hardly acceptable today.
The persistent theme of my remarks this evening is the need for careful appraisal of our present force structure and defence activities in the light of present strategic circumstances. We mustprovide those capabilities which are essential at present and as a basis for possible expansion, prune those which are excessive or redundant, and be alert to the needs of the future. Adequate defence strength is necessary to the more independent posture of this Government. Vigorous management will ensure that the size and shape and support of our forces meet our real security needs with the maximum efficiency and economy.
Senator Bishop: I move
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Withers) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of a Research Laboratory at North Clayton (Monash), Victoria.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Government Business take precedence of general business after 8.0 p.m. today and that after 8.0 p.m. intervening business bepostponed until after consideration of Government Business, Order of the Day No.8, that being the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That General Business, Orders of the Day Nos 4 and 14, be postponed until after consideration of General Business, Order of the Day No. 16.
Debate resumed from 7 June (vide page 2477), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– A sequence of events has made the discussion today of this interim report on shipping services between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne entirely timely and appropriate. We had a statement this morning from the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones). That Minister does not even know that the ‘Straitsman’ has been purchased by the Transport Commission of Tasmania, sent to Hobart where it arrived at the weekend and that it is now being piepared to go into service within the next week or so. That shows the concern of this Government at the absence of this service while the Straitsman’ has been lying idle at the Melbourne wharf for 14 months. According to Mr Justice Newton in the Supreme Court of Victoria this has cost $2,087 a week or something of the order of $108,000 for the year. Yet the representative in this chamber of the Minister for Transport has had so little interest in this matter that he did not even know that the ‘Straitsman’ had been purchased to go into service.
I mention those facts because this maher came up when we moved, in exasperation at the continued repudiation and delay by the Labor Government, for a select committee of this chamber to show that this chamber was capable of acting promptly and effectively in matters of practical administration. I say that the report of the Select Committee in this matter is one of outstanding promptness and of uniquely positive effect. The Committee was set up on 3 May. After giving 2 or 3 weeks for the jiggery-pokery to take place in the Labor Party Caucus as to whether it would fill the 2 vacant places, we then proceeded into action in their absence. In the very busy days at the end of last session we managed to sit in Melbourne on Monday 21 May, in Launceston the following Monday, 28 May, and we had a unique excursion on Saturday, 2 June. This Senate Committee sat especially on that Saturday. We proceeded to an outlying island and I think that we must have heard in the space of 4 hours something like 14 local witnesses. Their convenience was met and they were able to give the Committee practical and on-the-spot information.
We reported to the Senate within a few days, making it quite clear that the Government would not escape the responsibility of the recommendations in the report by going into vacation unadvised as to our opinion. It must be one of those moments of inner humility when Senator Wriedt reminds himself that he referred to that select committee as a farce, and a sycophantic Australian Broadcasting Commission whose ear was tuned to the Senate that day chose to retail only that part of the debate. But, acting as it does as an echo and a channel for the Labor Government, it can remember with humility that contemptible remark of Senator Wriedt. Then the following day it recruited to its aid a confimatory remark from the warden of King Island, Mr Smith, who has been the chief nigger in the woodpile. Due to his local interests he was making mischief and undermining the operation of the Straitsman during these 14 months. Now, I express a hope that he will be persuaded by the fact that we have induced the governments to restore this service to give it assistance instead of obstructing the success of the Straitsman’ service for the future. What he should represent are not his local interests but the interests of the community over which he has the office to preside.
It is a remarkable story. It is simple and confined and therefore capable of being understood clearly. It involves an island community of 3,000 people, primary producers and miners. All of them are working people dependent upon transport by way of ship. Air transport did a wonderfully good job while the shipping service was suspended but air transport cannot move the heavy cargoes and the livestock that are so important to the island. One would think that it would be a cherished challenge for a Labor Government to see that a community of that sort was assisted, even if at a little undue cost. That was the Labor Party’s policy when election fever was on, and Mr Davies, the local member, was assiduous to get the service restored. At that time he persuaded the Labor leaders to send an express telegram to the interests owning the ‘Straitsman’. The Labor Executive, as a matter of policy decision on 14 October, authorised him to say that Labor government, if elected to office, immediately would instruct the Australian National Line to commission the ‘Straitsman’ and restore it to the service. The first thing to be noted is that the Labor Government dishonestly repudiated that promise. We can bring to mind what we were saying last night about the Karmel report. Ordinary observance of undertakings by the Labor Government is a matter purely of political expedience, and if it can weave its way out of an undertaking that it has given after it has secured office on the face of the promise, it will not be reluctant to do so.
The Minister for Transport made some delightful, devious excuses. The Labor Government was to grant Sim to the Tasmanian Government to buy or build a ship abroad. The ‘Staritsman’ was specially built for this service in Australia without subsidy. There we have a completely unworthy alternative suggestion, namely, that we build or buy in foreign fields a ship not suitable for the service. Then another event which the compliant and sycophantic Australian Broadcasting Commission chose to report in distorted fashion was when those alternatives were shown to be insipidly stupid. A vessel - the ‘Blythe Star’ - was procured which I think was about 20 years old. The ABC trumpeted the fact that it was proceeding out of Melbourne. I gave the Commission a reminder on 14 June that that was the anniversary of the day on which the Straitsman’ was tied up and brought to its attention the suggestion that it might have the wit or intelligence and perhaps the integrity to bring to public notice the fact that 12 months had gone by of this waste of assets of the ship and the waste of 3 shipping terminals which have been either modified or constructed at the public expense of $2.l8m. The ABC, of course, absorbing from $70m to $90m for what it does with wasteful work was, of course, not quite the suitable organisation to make an assessment of that. Instead of doing what I suggested they chose to trumpet out that the ‘Blythe Star’ was proceeding out of Melbourne to renew this service that day. It was well known that the ‘Blythe Star’ could not carry livestock nor did she have any refrigeration capacity to carry butter and other perishables so important to the community.
The next despicable contribution that Labor made to this performance was a refusal to allow any member of the Senate representing Tasmania from the Labor side to serve upon our Committee. It said that the Committee was stacked. The facts reported by our Committee find confirmation in the judicial proceedings that have recently taken place in the Supreme Court of Victoria. Any member of the Labor Party could have taken part in the proceedings of the Committee, questioned witnesses and put in any report that he wished. But practical measures to help a little community such as King Island are not the con- cern of the Labor senators. They are coerced by Caucus and they cringe about here without making any contribution to the Committee but will get up and indulge in a whole lot of oratory pretending that they have given some support for this effort. So, after that endeavour to get over the devious excuses of the Labor Party, the Senate Opposition established this committee. With drive, energy and cooperation among the 3 members who participated - Senator Rae, Senator Townley and myself - as I have shown, we met in 3 important places in connection with this matter within the space of 3 weeks. Despite the immense pressure of the last week of the session we put before the Senate the report to which I have referred. The report carried the recommendation that the ‘Straitsman’, the ship that was specially built for the trade by Australian workmen, and which had been lying idle in Melbourne for so long, should be immediately put into operation for the purpose of the King Island shipping service and ‘should be operated for at least 12 months before it can be said that a fair test of experience has been had.’ The Committee reported further:
We found no objection to the re-introducion of the Straitsman’ on the service and unanimity of opinion thai such a ship should be used.
The Committee made that statement notwithstanding having heard Warden Smith. When Warden Smith gave his evidence before the Committee,, he offered no objection to the reintroduction of the ‘Straitsman’ and he certainly did not perserve with the rumour that had been circulated to the effect that that vessel was unsuitable as a shipping vessel.
– Did you question him on that?
– As if we would stoop to question Warden Smith on a matter of that sort. He would be a veritable ignoramus on such a matter. It was suspected that he was the originator of the rumour. We would not give htm the opportunity to dignify his ignorant rumour by any affirmation of it in evidence before a parliamentary committee.
So, after all this wheeling and dealing on the part of the 2 Labor governments - Mr Batt, the Minister for Transport in Tasmania, came to light with a few ‘batty’ suggestions - we were left to make the firm recommendation that the ‘Straitsman’ should be reintroduced. Legal proceedings followed, and then the legal vacation. Now the ship is in Hobart. After a suggestion by the Transport Commission that the vessel be generally engaged from northern ports, only this morning, in today’s edition of the Hobart ‘Mercury’, has the Minister for Transport in Tasmania made it clear that the Straitsman’ will be used only on the Melbourne-King Island-Stanley service, supplemented by calls to Burnie as appropriate. We have now achieved the situation where the ship is in port almost ready to sail next week. The people of King Island can expect a restoration of the service within a week or 10 days.
I think that the Senate will acquit me personally of presumption if I claim on behalf of my colleagues, Senator Rae and Senator Townley, a notable achievement in the management of parliamentary proceedings by showing that Parliament, when properly managed and directed and managed in the interests of a section of the people on a practical matter, is capable of being effective and practical. We made every effort to cut down the devious red tape and to rebuke the Australian Broadcasting Commission for its partial and palsied reporting of what went on in the Senate.
The report of the Senate Select Committee is now before the Senate for consideration. It is not a long report. The proceedings did not take from year to year. It is a report of no political content, simply a matter of practical judgment. Because of the happy accident - the happy event - that the Opposition still has some effective authority in this place, we were able, despite the most obstinate opposition on the part of the Government, to bring the inquiry to a conclusion and to lay our report on the table of the Sentae. From it neither government could invent an excuse for escape. It is a matter of great pride to me that the Parliament has been able to make a contribution to the interests of a small community which has little political influence or electoral importance and which the Labor Government had repudiated, disowned and refused to assist. On this occasion the Senate Opposition has refused to be party to inefficacy and delay. It has put the Committee system of the Senate into active operation and shown that committees are capable of doing a practical job at any time. I hope that there will not be any word in denigration of the Committee. I hope that there will be proper appreciation of the Committee’s efforts as a contribution to the Senate’s work on behalf of the people of King Island.
– I wish to add a few remarks to those of Senator Wright concerning the report of the Senate Select Committee on Shipping Services between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne and the general questions which gave rise to the presentation of the report. King Island, as has been stated, is a very fertile island in Bass Strait on which all the principles of decentralisation are well exemplified. But, being an island, its livelihood is of course dependent upon a shipping service. I believe that the people on it were encouraged by the Commonwealth Government and the Tasmanian Government to go there and develop the island. It is an island which has a large soldier settlement. Ex-servicemen were encouraged to go there by the 2 governments. They were even told that they would be provided with a good, efficient, regular shipping service. I believe that they are entitled to a good, efficient and regular shipping service at a reasonable price.
During the past year when the ‘Straitsman’ has, as Senator Wright said, been tied up in Melbourne, they have had very little by way of a shipping service and what they have had has been provided at an outrageously high cost. The net result to a lot of the people there has been a very considerable economic loss. That economic loss has been the direct result of government inaction and ineptitude, principally on the part of the Tasmanian Government. Page 10 of the report sets out 2 parts of the evidence given to the Committee which I would like to quote. The King Island Products Co-operative Society gave evidence to the effect that its turnover had been reduced by $150,000 in the past year. The King Island scheelite mine, through its manager, gave evidence to the effect that the delay has cost the company approximately $120,000 during the past year. The Manager said that with this burden, added to the low price of scheelite, it is doubtful whether the mine will be able to continue to operate under present conditions. That mine is the largest employer of labour on the island. It employs 362 men. As well as that, many individuals have been hard hit as a result of the shipping problems. I believe that those people are entitled to special consideration at this stage.
It has been proposed that the ‘Straitsman’ should operate a service on a regular basis from Melbourne to King Island and Stanley.
The proposed freight rates were published recently. The freight rate is to be $18.50 a ton for general cargo. That is nearly twice as much as the residents of Tasmania have to pay to have their goods shipped across Bass Strait, For half the distance the rate will be nearly twice as much. That will make it extremely difficult - it may even make it almost uneconomical - for some of the operations at present conducted on King Island to continue. But for the fact that they are fortunate in that they are receiving good prices for their meat and wool, many of the farmers who were encouraged to take up soldier settlement blocks on the island would be in real strife in endeavouring to make a living. They were encouraged by the actions of both the Commonwealth and the State governments. Many of the soldier settlers on the Island came from various parts of Australia. They were encouraged to take up .their occupation on the Island in the belief that they would have a reasonably regular service at a reasonable rate. I believe that there is a clear duty on the part of both the Commonwealth and the State governments to provide a shipping service at a reasonable rate. I submit that $18.50 per ton is certainly not a reasonable rate.
I have visited the Island since the decision to restore the ‘Straitsman’ to the Island service was taken by the Tasmanian Government, following the very considerable pressure which we applied to get it to take the decision, and I have had discussions with a number of representatives of the various organisations and bodies on the Island. All are extremely concerned about this freight rate. The Government has indicated that it is prepared to make a subsidy available. I quote from page 7 of the Committee’s report which sets out an answer which I received on 6 June from Senator Cavanagh, the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He said:
Prior to the election and since the election this Government promised to subsidise shipping services to King Island. There have been 2 delays in the provision of such services. Firstly, the Tasmanian Government wanted to control the shipping line operating to the Island, and secondly the question of providing a suitable ship had to be resolved.
Later he said:
The subsidy would have to be considered on the basis of the losses on the King Island service which are expected to occur. The honourable senator will remember that after thorough investigation it was decided that the ‘Straitsman’ could not be employed for this service because the cost of subsidy by the Commonwealth Government would be too high.
That was at a time when, according to the evidence given to our Committee, the estimated cost of the subsidy was about $500,000.
– Per annum.
– Yes, per annum. As the inquiry conducted by our Committee demonstrated, that was an almost reckless estimate of loss. It was as a result of a very hasty inquiry conducted by representatives of the ANL. I have had discussions with a lot of the major would-be shippers in the StanleySmithton area and on King Island to find out to what extent the ANL, in making its inquiry, contacted them to ascertain the tonnages that they would be likely to be exporting or importing. I found that very little conversation was had and that in particular two of the major exporters from the Stanley area were not contacted by the ANL. The reasons why the quite incredible figures were produced by the ANL are quite obvious.. At the instruction of the new Government, it conducted a very hasty inquiry at Christmas time when perhaps it was hard for it to spare the time or when perhaps it was hard for it to contact people. There may have been all sorts of reasons. I think it is an inquiry of which no notice at all should be taken. The inquiries and the estimates which were given by others were obviously of much greater relevance from the point of view of the likely income from the service. Most of those who costed it came to a reasonably comparable figure in relation to the likely cost of operating the service. So that part of it does not matter.
The main question was the likely income, on which the estimates varied very substantially. Obviously what must now happen is that the Commonwealth Government must honour its promise to make a subsidy available. The State Government will presumably be in direct dereliction of its duty to the people of King Island if it does not apply for the subsidy. I have seen the publication in the King Island ‘News’ of the Commission’s freight rates for the ‘Straitsman*. Those details were stated by the Associate Commissioner, Mr T. Moorehead, when he visited King Island on the Thursday before 15 August. They state that the freight rate will be $18.50 per ton, which is a disgraceful rate to be charged. It it a rate which will make uneconomic a number of the operations on the island and it is a rate which need not be charged because the Commonwealth Government has offered to subsidise. If it were subsidised to the rate of about $3 per ton it would bring the rate down to SI 5.50, which would be not unreasonable, and the cost to them would be within the sort of terms which we gathered they were talking about when they said that $500,000 would be too much but $150,000 was what was being paid before. Presumably something between those 2 figures would be regarded as reasonable. This morning at question time I asked the Minister for Works, Senator Cavanagh, a question and he indicated that he would find out the reason for me. I will be glad to receive that information. If the honourable senator could indicate any sort of answer now I would be delighted to hear it. I am sure the people of King Island would be delighted also.
– We may be able to give it to you this afternoon.
– Thank you very much. I acknowledge the co-operation of Senator Cavanagh throughout this matter. He has been prepared to obtain information and to assist every time that I have made an inquiry of him. He indicated the willingness of the Government to provide a subsidy. I only regret that there are some others in ministerial positions in both the Commonwealth Government and the State Government who have not been as co-operative as Senator Cavanagh.
– Did that happen under your Government?
– No. Thank you for the interjection. I am glad to take up that point. The former Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr Nixon, stated repeatedly that if the State Government would put a proposition to the Federal Government it would be considered reasonably and favourably. My statements to that effect in debate in this chamber appear in Hansard and I go no further than simply to repeat it. The Tasmanian Government has been derelict in its attitude.
– What is your attitude to the Australian Broadcasting Commission?
– I make no comments about the ABC and I expressly disassociate myself from the comments made by Senator Wright about Mr Smith, the warden at King Island.
– That is not a real example of Cabinet solidarity is it?
– Senator Wright is entitled to his opinions. I am entitled to mine. I do not have the basis of knowledge that Senator Wright has. I have had co-operation from Mr Smith when I have discussed the matter with him. I discussed it with him recently and he indicated to me that he was quite prepared to accept the principle of the reintroduction of the ‘Straitsman’ but was concerned over 2 matters; firstly, the reasonableness of the freight rate, and secondly, the regularity of the service to the Island.
The other matter I wish to refer to was the desire by the Tasmanian Transport Commission to engage in what appears to be a case of empire building. As I quoted earlier, Senator Cavanagh confirms this point when he says that there have been 2 matters which have caused the delay in providing services to King Island. I think the people of King Island will remember this. The first was that the Tasmanian Government wanted to control the shipping line operating the service. If that was the desire of the Tasmanian Government, if that was the desire of the empire builders within the Tasmanian Transport Commission, let everybody know that that desire was one of the causes for the long delay in restoring a proper shipping service to King Island. Secondly, the problem of the provision of a suitable ship had to be resolved. We heard all this nonsense about unsuitability but the fact was that the evidence was that the ‘Straitsman’, built specially for the job, was suitable. There was no real evidence to indicate otherwise.
– Your minority report would cast some doubt on that.
– No. Thank you, Senator Cavanagh. I will refer to that aspect since you have drawn attention to it. The Committee agreed upon a report but I felt it encumbent upon me to add a few words. I said:
We were deprived of the benefit of hearing evidence from any officers of the Tasmanian Transport Commission or any other representative of the State Government. I can but assume that there are some relevant facts and logical arguments in favour of the State Government’s wish to take over the service and/or its rejection of the reintroduction of the Straitsman’.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was referring to certain comments which I made in a supplementary submission to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Shipping Services between King Island, Stanley and Melbourne. I said:
I therefore qualify my support of the report to the extent that the State Government or its officers may be able to refute any of the otherwise overwhelming evidence in support of the re-introduction of the Straitsman to the Melbourne-King Island-Stanley service.
Notwithstanding what might be regarded as the bait held out to the State Government to produce some evidence which would indicate good reason for its actions or delays, it has done nothing other than eventually to change its mind and accede to the suggestion which we made in this report, and which was made to us by such a cross-section of witnesses who gave evidence. It appears therefore that the State Government did not have a good reason or any logical arguments which it was prepared to make known as to why there should have been a 12 months delay in taking some action which would re-introduce the ‘Straitsman’ to the service. However, let us not cry over what has happened; let us approach it from the point of view that belatedly, but in fact, the Tasmanian Government is now to re-introduce the ship to the service. The major problems have been the regularity of services hut I understand that the scheduling which has been arranged is to ensure that the ship will call regularly, that people can enter into commercial transactions with the knowledge that they can expect their freight to be carried on a particular date and that they will get their cattle to market in Melbourne on the appropriate dates. That aspect therefore need not be of concern.
The other question therefore is that of the freight rate. I reiterate that as the Commonwealth Government has made an offer to subsidise the rate, it is up to the State Government to request a subsidy immediately, if it has not done so already. I am looking forward to hearing Senator Cavanagh this afternoon tell us the position, if he will do so. If the State Government has made no application for a subsidy, then obviously it is in the interests of all concerned with this service that it should make that application immediately. The other point I make, which is basically a local one, is that there has been considerable concern on King Island over the question of the management of the shipping service and the agency arrangements on King Island. I simply draw attention to those as being matters of concern to the people in the area.
I support the report of the Senate Select Committee and I support the remarks made by Senator Wright regarding the proof that a Committee could take expeditious action to investigate a matter and to present to the Senate a report which shows the facts and which gives the public an opportunity to know the facts, and to bury forever some of the rumours and mis-statements which have been made about this ship and the concept of the shipping service. I am glad to see that all now appears to be going to end well, and I shall be even more delighted to hear this afternoon that the Tasmanian Government has made an application for a subsidy and that the Commonwealth Government will provide it.
– I want to speak briefly on this subject for I think there are some things which we have so far not heard in the presentation of this case once again to the Senate, and it is my duty and responsibility, I imagine, to try to put the record straight on these issues. To the present time everybody has been responsible, everybody has been to blame except the real culprits. One tends to forget this especially when listening to the comments which have been made by our. 2 legal colleagues on the other side of the chamber who, following the usual traditions of their profession, 1 suppose, have presented their point of view and their side of the case as strongly as they possibly could. But one regrets that too often in a situation like this one does not get the full story; one gets only one side of it. I imagine we could depart from the normal practices that are adopted in a court of law when we come into a chamber of the Parliament of this nation and could reasonably expect to get from those who address themselves to a subject before the chamber a complete version of what has taken place. This is not the first occasion, of course, that this subject has been debated in this chamber, but it is the first occasion on which we have had an opportunity to speak about the report. One hears everybody being blamed for what has happened. Firstly, I think, the Australian National Line came in for its share of blame, and then the Australian Broadcasting Commission was properly lambasted by Senator Wright although I thought the ABC had been pretty kind to him. I can recall an occasion not so long ago when Senator Wright had an opportunity to state his case over the ABC and the general impression given was that the ABC had provided him with a reasonable opportunity to express himself on that subject. That does not appear to be the case, however, for one would gain a very strong impression from the comments he has made. So the ABC also is a culprit in this matter somewhere along the line. Warden Smith of King Island has been another villain in the piece, apparently, as has Mr Davies, the honourable member for Braddon, who has done his damnedest to get the service restarted. Do not let us forget that the service did not cease during the life of the present Government. This ship was tied up on 14 June last year, that is, for 6 months during the period of administration of the previous Government, and a pretty inept performance it was too, especially in the area of this transport system. There has been no mention of that.
– Did not Mr Lynch do something about that?
– No. We saw a period of 6 months during which nothing was done. The Senate Select Committee takes great credit. Senator Wright has been taking great credit today for the speed with which the Committee went into action, and now he takes full credit for the restoration of the service. But one would not have to be a person of great intelligence or wit to wonder why the same sort of performance could not have come from Senator Wright when he was a Minister of the Crown and nadi direct access to the then Minister for Shipping and Transport. But there has been absolutely no mention of that.
– Senator Cavanagh gave the explanation. He said the delay was caused by the Tasmanian Government.
– No. Wait a minute. Let us be consistent. According to the report and to what both you and Senator Wright have said today, the blame is at the feet of this Government. You are willing to blame this Government. That is why I am responding. On 2 December responsibility apparently was transferred from the State Government in Tasmania to this Commonwealth Government.
– Obviously you were not listening to the debate.
– I do not always do so. Mr Deputy President, I tried to give Senator Rae a reasonable hearing and I think I am entitled to be heard.
Another matter which I think was omitted from the comments of both Senator Wright and Senator Rae was the legal involvement which this Government inherited on 2 December as a consequence of the operations of the ‘Straitsman’. This was a pretty difficult matter and surely one would have expected more from the 2 honourable senators with the legal knowledge which they claim to have. We have seen evidence of it and I am not knocking their knowledge because it is evident. However, if one is to deal with this subject properly, adequately and in its entirety, one would have expected to hear some reference from either Senator Wright or Senator Rae about the legal involvements which took so long to unravel before this ship could be released. In fact, those legal problems went before the courts. We heard nothing from them about that. We heard nothing from them about the Committee set up last year by the previous Government. It made certain recommendations about the sufficiency, adequacy and suitability of the ‘Straitsman’ to perform this service. Why did they not tell us about that today? The whole thing just leaves me cold. If honourable senators opposite want to establish their bona fides and prove that it was not a bit of cheap political gimmickry the whole episode ought to be laid out before the Senate so that honourable senators and those who come after to read the reports can establish the facts of the whole situation.
I suppose that honourable senators opposite will claim that there is some political advantage in having at this stage gone into action so speedily after a lapse of 6 months during which the previous Government could have done something but did not. They will claim now that they are the ones responsible ultimately for getting a ship back onto the service. I am going to take the credit on behalf of this Government and the Tasmanian Government for having been able to unravel the entanglements that were found in the shipping service when the 2 governments assumed responsibility and got the service operating to King Island. There is no point in my saying anything further. The Minister will have other things to say but I wonder why the 2 honourable senators opposite who have spoken in this debate so carefuly avoided the essentia) points which ought to have been stated w* that the Senate would have a true exposition of the whole matter.
– lt is obvious that the concern has gone out of this debate. When the Committee was established it was a very important question because it was a time for preselections being made in Tasmania. This brought about a desire to serve on the Committee. The purpose of establishing the Committee is clear from its report. It brought in a report as required by the majority of this chamber. The Committee had to be stacked on one side and whether Labor co-operated with the Committee or not its decision was going to be adverse to Labor and would hide the fact that the problem of the shipping service to King Island originated with and was carried on by the previous Government. In this debate Senator Rae has paid me the compliment of saying that I have been honest and have done everything I can in this matter. 1 intend to carry on that policy. Possibly I have gone further than I should have gone on some occasions. We recognise the problems and it was our policy to do everything possible to maintain a shipping service to King Island. When Labor was returned to office last December for 6 months there had been no satisfactory shipping service to King Island. Apparently Houfe and Company decided to build a special ship named the Straitsman’. The special wharf facilities at King Island seemed to ignore the findings of a previous study of the facilities available at King Island.
Captain Houfe took a commercial risk on setting up a viable proposition. He approached a shipyard which did not attract a Commonwealth subsidy. It was not a condition of the building of the equipment or the special ship for the King Island service that a subsidy would be paid on the operations of the ‘Straitsman’. It was found that without studying the evidence that had been given previously Captain Houfe had made a bad commercial judgment. After a few months the operations of the ‘Straitsman’ were no longer viable and the service was terminated in June last year. That is history. Appeals were made to Mr Nixon, who was then Minister for Shipping and Transport, for assistance but the Government of the day did nothing about it. It showed no concern for the small population of King Island for whom the hearts of Senator Rae and Senator Wright are now bleeding. When their Party was in office it allowed the cessation of the shipping service to King Island. It did not operate for 6 months until Labor came into office with a promise to assist King Island transport. Only now do honourable senators opposite shed crocodile tears about the residents of King Island.
– That is not true and you know it. I tabled a letter that you can see at any time.
– It is true. The position is that we admit the problems. The Prime Minister does not repudiate the telegram that was sent to Mr Davies or the information that he was given. He was told that we would renegotiate the conditions of operation of the ‘Straitsman’ on the King Island run. Since Labor came to office at all times it has advised the Tasmanian Government of its preparedness to subsidise shipping to King Island. However, we are not prepared to make up all the losses resulting from an unwise decision by Captain Houfe who established a non-viable service to King Island. We engaged in discussion on a suitable ship for the King Island service. Immediately discussions were opened up with Tasmania and information was supplied by Captain Houfe. Senator Rae asked a question in the Senate and subsequently I supplied the answer that the ‘Straitsman’ would be a viable proposition with a suitable Commonwealth subsidy. Therefore the Australian National Line could go ahead with the purchase of the ‘Straitsman’ for the run. On studying the project the ANL found that the Department was working on wrong figures supplied by Captain Houfe. The ANL estimated that it would cost about $500,000 a year to operate on the run a ship that was too large for the work offering and was therefore unprofitable.
The Australian Government is not prepared to sink in unlimited funds because of Captain Houfe’s unwise commercial operations. We have accepted at all times the right of Tasmania to operate the service to King Island and have offered a subsidy either through the purchase of a ship or the establishment of wharf facilities. The Australian Government offered largely to finance the purchase of an overseas vessel to maintain the service with a replacement within 3 years by a vessel built in Australia suitable for the trade between King Island and the mainland. The Australian Government agreed to subsidise the building of such a ship.
Extreme difficulty was experienced in finding a suitable ship to operate for 3 years but the Australian Government has done everything possible to rectify the injustice caused by the previous Government which let the residents on King Island go to the devil without any consideration. We have honoured an election campaign obligation to subsidise shipping to King Island. Then we have the report of the stacked special Committee. In desperation that report is brought up for review today only for the purpose of trying to argue that we are not interested in this matter and that it is clear that it would be a viable proposition to put the ‘Straitsman’ on. We have seen some alteration in the figures given by the Australian National Line, and while we show that the ‘Straitsman’ would be a losing proposition it is argued that it could possibly be a profitable proposition if an increase in shipping from Stanley to Melbourne was probable. Governments do not make decisions on probable increases in shipping. That is the only condition on which there is justification today for this scheme.
Today for the first time I learnt that the Tasmanian Government has purchased the Straitsman’. Senator Wright and Senator Rae suggested - as did the report of the Committee - that there should be a 12 months’ trial to see whether the run could be operated commercially. That has been achieved. Now there is no longer a question whether there should be a shipping service and whether the Straitsman’ should be the ship that should be acquired. There is some complaint about the freight charges from King Island. Of course this supports what Captain Houfe said about the ‘Straitsman’ not being able to run profitably without higher freight rates being charged. I think the King Island residents are justified in protesting about those rates, as they are protesting. The fact is that today they have the ship which the Commonwealth Government turned down as being not a commercial proposition. They are left in this position I suppose through the non-availability of other shipping. The Labor governments, both State and Federal, are anxious to do something for King Island. They are left with the ship which the Commonwealth at all times knew was not profitable. The residents of King Island find that freight costs are prohibitive and that it is not worth while exporting their products or trading to and from the island. This bears out what was said by the
Commonwealth. This justifies Commonwealth action. But whoever takes the blame we are in the position of having to overcome this position at this time.
I tell Senator Rae that in an effort to assist and to be frank on the matter the Department of Transport supplied me with a document giving information in relation to the history of the matter. It states:
In the course of discussions in March between the Minister for Transport, the Treasurer and the Tasmanian Premier and Minister for Transport it was agreed unanimously that ‘Straitsman’ was not a suitable vessel for the King Island trade.
That was in March of this year. The document continues:
At that time the Australian Government agreed to provide financial assistance for the purchase of an interim vessel pending the building in Australia of a vessel designed to meet the needs of the trade, lt was also agreed to provide loan assistance for the building of such a vessel.
Honourable senators will recognise the difference between the approach of the new Labor Government in keeping with its election promise and the approach of the previous Government which let the island go 6 months without a vessel. The document states:
However, the Tasmanian Government in the exercise of its commercial judgement has decided to purchase ‘Straitsman’ to resume the King Island service.
Whatever political ideology we should support, I point out that this is a decision of the Tasmanian Government.
– Is the Minister critising the decision.
– It is a decision of the Tasmanian Government. Perhaps I am in a position to criticise but the honourable senator is not because of the report which suggested that the ‘Straitsman’ should be the ship. Senator Rae is not in a position to criticise. He has somewhat changed sides. The document points out:
The Australian Government has not changed its views that ‘Straitsman’ is not a suitable ship for the trade. and there is criticism of the decision -
This view would seem to be borne out by the fact that the Tasmanian Transport Commission is proposing to charge a freight rate for general cargo of the order of $18.50 a lon.
At no stage has the Australian Government agreed to subsidise the operation of ‘Straitsman’.
There is the answer. The Australian Government has not at any time agreed to subsidise. The document continues:
But it was agreed to provide loan assistance to finance the purchase of an interim vessel (other than the ‘Straitsman’ which it was agreed was not suitable)
This was an agreement between both governments - and to share in any losses such an interim vessel might incur pending the building of a suitable vessel.
That was the Commonwealth commitment. The document goes on:
As we gave these assurances to assist in the resumption of a service to King Island we are prepared to consider providing loan assistance for the purchase of ‘Straitsman’ and for building a suitable replacement vessel.
That is a recognition that the ‘Straitsman’ is not suitable.
Turning to the question without notice asked by Senator Rae the Minister for Transport has informed me that when he visited north-west Tasmania recently he invited the Tasmanian Minister for Transport to lodge a formal request for loan assistance.
An application for assistance amounting to $1.5m was sent to the Minister for Transport on 8 August covering not only the purchase of ‘Straitsman’ but also the provision of equipment, survey of the vessel and installation of a crane at Prince of Wales Bay terminal. This request is being considered.
The letter from Mr Batt contained no request for a subsidy for operation of ‘Straitsman’.
That is the position in relation to the Department now. We have reaffirmed our previous decision. We possibly will assist in this purchase. We do not accept it. This is a decision of the Tasmanian Government. We think that more assistance will be given. If the members who insisted on the Committee for propaganda purposes would join with the Government for the purpose of getting some satisfactory commercial transport to King Island I think they would be doing a better service to King Island than by seeking to protect their own hides for re-election or for pre-selection. I suppose the Committee has done its job as it was appointed to do. We have received the report. Of course we have reached the stage now where I do not think there will be any disagreement with the motion that the Senate take note of the report.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator O’Byrne) agreed to:
That General Business, Orders of the Day Nos 4 and 14 be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Inquiry into Australia-New Zealand Trade
Debate resumed from 7 June (vide page 2479), on motion by Senator Wilkinson:
That the Senate take note of the Report.
– We are debating in this chamber the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade which was presented following its inquiry into Australia-New Zealand trade, and I rise to make a few short remarks. I was a member of the Committee during most of the time that it was inquiring into the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, but I am no longer a member of the Committee. First of all, I express my congratulations to the staff connected with the Committee during the time this inquiry was under way. I think one would be remiss not to mention the excellent work done by the staff and the courtesy that we all received from the staff. This enabled the work of the Committee to be carried out much more precisely than would have been the case if we did not have their services. They did a huge amount of work between the Committee’s hearings in order to have everything lined up so that the appearance of witnesses and the general work of the Committee was made, much easier.
The report is rather a lengthy one and I have not had a chance to go right through it. But I wish to make a few general remarks as to how I see our trading situation. From the outset of the establishment of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, I formed the opinion, even though I was not a member of this Parliament at the time, that perhaps to some extent Australia’s primary industries were being sold short in order that our secondary industries could gain a foothold in New Zealand. I still hold that opinion after hearing the evidence of many witnesses connected with all aspects of trade in Australia. I still believe that there are some areas of primary industry in Australia which have been sold very short in order to allow our secondary industries to develop in New Zealand. The plight of these primary industries was brought forward by various witnesses, particularly those from Tasmania. The pea industry in particular and the grass seed industry are those particularly affected. Although the grass seed industry is only very small in Australia, it would appear to have been very hard hit at different times because of this Agreement. In other areas of trade a practice is carried on which, if it cannot be classed as dumping - that is, dumping from New Zealand to Australia - must go very close to that situation. One hopes that as a result of the findings contained in this report action will be taken by the responsible Department to have a further look at this situation to see what can be done. I can well recall people giving evidence that they were being very hard hit by New Zealand jam appearing on the Sydney market because the New Zealand product was cheaper.
One other matter which comes to mind readily and about which there was a great deal of debate at various stages during the Committee’s hearings concerns the merits of the New Zealand Meat Board compared with those of the Australian Meat Board. Both Boards had their point of view out forward for them, and it would appear that there has been agreement that on third markets in particular there is a great deal of room for the development of better trading relations between the 2 organisations. In other words, there is room for both organisations to get together and take a much broader and perhaps co-operative look at third markets instead of competing with each other. Also in that regard one would hope that the Australian Meat Board would adopt some of the policies of the New Zealand Meat Board and update its marketing processes in third markets. From the evidence given to the Committee it appeared to me that the Australian Meat Board had something to learn from its New Zealand counterpart in regard to marketing, particularly of lamb, in third markets.
I do not want to say very much at all on this matter. The report is a comprehensive one. As I said earlier, I believe that as a result of its findings certain weaknesses in the Agreement have been brought forward. I just hope that Ministers and their departments will study the document very carefully and that in areas where problems have been found remedies will be forthcoming. If the Agreement is to be developed, again I think Ministers and their departments on both sides of the Tasman have a great deal of work to do, because it appears that, despite the good intentions of those who brought the Agreement to fruition initially, in actual fact not a great deal has happened to bring about freer trade across the Tasman.
– I support Senator Primmer in his remarks because I sincerely hope that some cognisance will be taken of the report presented by the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade after doing a mighty lot of work and hearing a great deal of evidence. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later time.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 8 May (vide page 1417).
Clause 3. 3. (1) This Act applies within and outside Australia and extends to all the Territories.
Upon which Senator Greenwood had moved by way of amendment:
In sub-clause (2.), omit ‘and, to the extent to which the powers of the Parliament permit, in relation to, and in relation to offences under Imperial Acts’.
– When this legislation was last before the Senate I was in the process of answering a suggestion that had been made by Senator Murphy. He suggested that every member of this chamber should vote for the proposition as it stood merely because - he quoted from the political arguments of his own Party during the Federal election campaign - of what his Party had said. It had said:
We will pass the Death Penalty Abolition Bills which were passed by the Senate in June 1968 and March 1972 but which, in each case, were shelved by the Liberal ministry in the House of Representatives.
Senator Murphy had suggested to this chamber that virtually nobody had the right to suggest amendments or to propose any alteration to the Bill because the Government had obtained a mandate from the people by winning the election and that the people of this country had given an instruction that the Bills should be passed in exactly the form that had been argued in the Senate and carried by the Senate on the previous occasions. I was drawing attention to the fact that that did not mean that senators sitting in this chamber representing different States were not even bound to present the point of view that seemed to be paramount in the State which each represented, whatever may have been the result of the Federal election campaign. Indeed, to substantiate my argument in that area, since this matter was adjourned an election has been held in Victoria, the State which I represent here.
– But not on this question.
– This question was canvassed by both of the parties involved. One party supported the retention of the death penalty; the other sought its abolition. Let me make it imperfectly clear that I am amongst the abolitionists. But the party that was in favour of the retention of the death penalty at that time - it may be in the process of changing its attitude now, but in the course of the election campaign it had a clear policy which it had enunciated and fought for on the platform at that election and at every State election for the last 15 years - won that election in Victoria by an overwhelming majority. It would be just as illogical to suggest that I should stand here and reverse my attitude, taken when this Bill was before us earlier, because of the vote in Victoria, as it was for Senator Murphy to suggest that we should not even discuss the Bill or the amendment.
I am making my stand on this question perfectly clear. I am for the abolition of the death penalty as we have known it for some considerable time. The application of the death penalty has not been very stringently controlled. Most death penalty sentences have been remitted and varied to a lesser penalty. But the death penalty has stood in the law. We are discussing at the moment the proposition that as far as the Commonwealth is concerned it shall not appear in the law. I am in favour of that proposition in the sense that although it has applied in the past it should not continue. But I am not foolish enough to join those who think that in an area which is as broad as this one, with respect to laws which have stood for so many centuries, those laws should be subject to no alteration because they have stood for so long. I do not accept that argument. Nor do I stand for the proposition that because a change is desired the laws must switch from black to white or from white to black.
I realise that whatever the theories, arguments and statistics that may be proposed and put forward by anyone as proof that one argument is paramount over another argument with respect to a change of this magnitude in this law, there must be areas in respect of which all of us have grave fears and doubts as to what may be the result of such a change in the law. I have looked at this matter in terms of crimes that are being committed today but which when we first discussed the abolition of this penalty - I first discussed it in a State Parliament some 20 years ago - were not the sorts of crimes with which we were acquainted. I refer here to the area of terrorism, of hijacking and affairs of a military sense where members of the armed forces are subject to a military code, in the course of war, which legislatively is held to be paramount over the civil code. I believe that in time of war those penalties too should be retained in respect of the civilian population for crimes in the areas that are set out specifically in Senator Greenwood’s amendment.
Whilst I agree with the broad concept of the abolition of the death penalty and I have so voted on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I am for this amendment which holds in abeyance and retains the death penalty only in a very limited sense. I refuse to shut my eyes to what happened at the Olympic Games when Jewish athletes together with innocent bystanders were slaughtered. This act of military aggression and terrorism was judged by the civil code. The perpetrators of that crime were apprehended and dealt with under the civil code by which they were held in gaol for a sufficiently long time to allow their supporters who were organised in a military sense to perpetrate even more vicious and murderous crimes against innocent people with the purpose of gaining the release of those who were obviously guilty of the act of callous destruction of innocent human lives - the lives of people who had nothing to do with the purpose in which those terrorists were interested.
Whatever statistics may show, I must admit that I believe in that sense in the retention of the death penalty as this must make the perpetrators of such crimes as organised execution of innocent people to gain a military purpose aware of the fact that they cannot succeed. Almost inevitably, they must be apprehended and in their turn, with the retention of the death penalty .for that crime at least, they must be subject to the very sentence which they themselves have passed upon people who are innocent of any crime other than the crime of being a good runner or a good sportsman eligible to represent a nation at the Olympic ‘Games. This is a concept of crime which has not been introduced into or faced before in discussions on this matter. 1 have heard these discussions so often. They have been discussions on the basis of the most horrible and repulsive sorts of civil crimes and the destruction of innocent human life in the worst possible circumstances. I do not think that we should discuss a philosophy such as that in those circumstances.
But we should not blind ourselves to events that are occurring around us. I refer here to attempts to hijack aircraft sometimes for the same purpose as that for which athletes were slaughtered at the Olympic Games, and at other times merely as a facet of organised crime to gain huge sums of money by this form of blackmail of holding the lives of hundreds of innocent people in danger as the criterion against which people who are asked to pay blackmail may measure that which is sought. We have reached the stage of civilisation where inevitably a decision on such a blackmail threat falls down on the side of parting with the money. But we must face, too, that such a decision inevitably creates a still further and greater impetus for people to plan and to commit such crimes. If no death penalty applies to crimes of that character, I am afraid that there is an encouragement for people to so involve themselves in such crimes. Only the most extreme of all penalties will act as a deterrent to such crimes.
I am worried about that situation. One of the propositions that makes me opposed to a community such as ours exercising the right in law to invoke the death penalty under any circumstances, is not a feeling for the perpetrator of such a crime or some feeling for the innocent relatives who may have a deep regard for the perpetrator and who will suffer for as long as the penalty hangs over his head awaiting execution. I take it a step further. As long as such a penalty can be invoked we must have somebody to carry it out. What do we do to the executioner whom we appoint once, twice, three or four times to execute people on behalf of society? There are many cases in the history of British law in which the hangman or the executioner ultimately has himself destroyed life against the law because he has become accustomed to taking human life.
This, too, is one of the arguments that turns me against those who argue for the abolition of the death penalty but who argue in favour of the right of the mother - because she is a mother and who may feel she may be inconvenienced even by a pregnancy - to take the life of her own child. That child is not judged by a jury, society or anyone else; it is judged by the mother in a fit of desperation or merely in a fit of consideration solely of her convenience and circumstances in life. That mother, these people argue, should be given the right by society to take life. What should we do to her and to those whom she engages to end that life? Society has an enormous responsibility in this respect. It is a responsibility that society must accept.
Crimes of terrorism and hijacking have recently been introduced into the scheme of things. It is to be hoped that no country Wi ever again become involved in war, but one cannot deny the possibility. The world must protect itself from those who would destroy not only our present form of society itself but also large numbers of the people who belong to it. We have an obligation, however, repulsive it may be, to accept responsiblity for punishing with extreme penalties people who will indulge in those sorts of crimes. There is plenty of evidence that people are quite prepared to commit these crimes. It is only in those areas that I stand, as does the amendment, in favour of a refusal to alter the law completely. The law should be altered at a slower pace and not in so sweepingly a manner as to take away from us the responsibility of doing anything we can to curb what is becoming all too prevalent a practice in the societies of the world today.
I have already referred to the slaughter at the Olympic Games of Jewish athletes who were guilty of no other crime than that they were capable of representing their nation in a world sporting arena. Those who were killed subsequently in an attempt to release the perpetrators of the crime would not have been killed if the crime had been placed in what I consider to be its proper category, that is, a military offensive which should have been judged almost upon the spot. The perpetrators of the crime should have had to suffer the extreme penalty of the law and should not have been placed in a position where they could be rescued by those who were prepared to go to the extreme limit of murdering innocent people.
I am clearly against what was formerly conceded as being a ground for the retention of the death penalty and I believe that it is time our civilisation moved towards its aboliton; but I am not prepared to move so quickly towards its abolition as to abdicate completely our responsibility to retain some control over the incidence of the extreme types of crimes I have mentioned. Indeed, that is what the amendment to this clause of the Bill seeks to do. I believe that it is a reasonable proposition. I believe that it is in conformity with my support for the general abolition of the death penalty as we have known it in the past. I hope that the Senate will consider this measure as being a serious one and not just one in relation to which we declare that we are either on one side or the other, giving no recognition to the events that are taking place around us.
– My remarks will be brief. I am opposed to the imposition of a death penalty under any circumstances. I do not regard the death penalty as being an effective deterrent. I believe that there is always the danger in the imposition of a death penalty that a mistake will be made which can never be remedied. I was deeply concerned about 2 cases in Victoria - the execution of a woman named Lee, who was carried under most extraordinary and unpleasant circumstances to the death chamber, and the execution of a man named Ryan, about which 1 heard from the prison chaplain, who is a very close and respected friend of mine. What he told me confirmed my view that I should oppose the imposition of the death penalty under any circumstances. I shall therefore support the Bill as it stands for the complete abolition of the death penalty.
– This Bill has come before the Senate for a second time. There have been several suggestions put forward in relation to it in the intervening period. My original attitude was that I was against the retention of the death penalty. I was an abolitionist in this area. My position remains the same. I know that compelling arguments stemming from logic and sentiment have been presented by those who feel that in certain circumstances, as a social precaution, the death penalty should be retained. I acknowledge the situation in which those arguments have been presented and what actuates the minds of those who have presented them. But I cannot find myself in agreement with them. I still feel that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to the commission of offences against the public law. For that and other considerations, I feel that it should be abolished. Therefore I will persist with my original view and support the Bill for the abolition of the death penalty.
– As the mover of the original amendment, I. rise only because I feel, in the light of what Senator McManus and Senator Byrne have said, that the particular purpose of this amendment may not have been appreciated by some honourable senators. I say that not in any sense believing that the view of Senator McManus or Senator Byrne would change or could be changed. But they spoke in a context which I feel did not acknowledge the purpose for which members of the Opposition will be moving amendments in committee.
The debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill has concluded. It was clearly the will of the Senate that the Bill, which seeks the abolition of the death penalty for all offences, should be given a second reading. But, as I and other members of the Opposition said in the course of the debate, there are various offences which presently carry the death penalty for reasons which are particular to society’s needs in relation to those offences, lt may be that people who, as Senator Little said, are generally against the imposition of the death penalty and who would regard themselves as abolitionists, nevertheless believe that for particular types of offences, because of their gravity and the effect that they have on society, the death penalty should be retained. Accordingly, members of the Opposition will be moving amendments which will seek to give expression to those different circumstances. A vote of the Senate may be taken on each of the amendments.
I repeat what was said in the course of the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill and what has been repeated in committee. This Bill highlights the differences in approach between the Government and the Opposition. The Government has decreed that it is a policy matter. It is a Bill which the Government has put forward and will support. If the way in which it has been- brought forward in this chamber is any indication, it will be supported by the Government with a minimum of words. I regret that the Government has chosen to take that attitude, which suggests that this is a cut and dried policy matter. Senators will vote as a party. The Opposition has always taken the view that as this is a measure upon which individual consciences are stirred, no party discipline ought to be applied.
As has been demonstrated, this Bill was given its second reading in this chamber not because the Government, with only 26 out of 60, had the numbers to carry it but because a majority of senators, including the 26 bound members of the Australian Labor Party and sufficient individuals among the Opposition Parties, excercised their undoubted right as legislators to give expression to their views on a matter which they regard as being a matter of conscience. We shall continue to maintain that view as we put forward our amendments in the committee stage.
The effect of the first amendment is to maintain as part of our law the death penalty, in time of war, when persons who are engaged in actual fighting are betrayed by one of their colleagues who traitorously delivers them up to the enemy. Shortly expressed, I believe that if we are to send into armed conflict soldiers, whether they are volunteers or conscripts, who are fighting on behalf of their country, they are entitled to the full support of the nation and the nation”s laws. I cannot comprehend a state of affairs in which we should regard life imprisonment as the appropriate penalty for a person who acts traitorously, wilfully and with the knowledge that this colleagues will be killed or captured by the enemy, and who is identified and proven guilty of that crime. Such a sentence would mean imprisonment until at some later stage, many years after, the Executive Council may feel that the punishment has expiated the original crime. I do not look at the matter that way. I make the assumption that the vast majority of Australians would not look at it that way. I believe that it is the obligation of a government, however unpalatable it might be for the individuals who have to vote to enact laws specifying appropriate penalties. No matter how unpalatable it might be to commit armed forces of a country in a conflict, a government has to take the necessary steps to indicate the support which it is prepared to give to its armed forces in conflict. I do not believe that a person who, in conflict, treacherously and wilfully betrays his colleagues in war ought to be treated in a way comparable to that in which a person who is a murderer under our civil law is treated. The nature of the crime is the important feature. It is for that reason that I have moved the first of the amendments which the Opposition will be moving during the course of the Committee stage of the Bill.
When I spoke previously 1 detailed at much greater length the considerations in support of this amendment. I regret that we were not favoured with any answer or any attempt at argument to justify the continuance of the death penalty for this offence. I do not think arguments of this character are met adequately by simply saying: ‘I am an abolitionist. I object to the death penalty’. Clearly there is a case which 1 believe warrants an answer. From the Government’s viewpoint, this appears to be a matter which is simply treated as one of ideology and declared policy. I again invite honourable senators opposite to attempt to meet these arguments on their merits.
– I think the answer to Senator Greenwood’s argument is this: A Bill in almost the same terms as this was passed by the Senate in 1968. I introduced it in 1967, I think, and it was finally passed by this chamber in May 1968. It was steered through by the late Senator Cohen while I was overseas. Then it was shelved in the House of Representatives by the then Government. A similar Bill passed its second reading in this chamber. I had introduced it in 1971. The third reading was in 1972. Again it was not dealt with by the House of Representatives. For the third time a Bill to abolish the death penalty has passed the second reading stage. The same kinds of arguments have been put. I think exactly the same kinds of amendments have been proposed.
– They are not the same amendments.
– They amount to the same thing. The answer to Senator Greenwood’s argument seems to me to be this: He selected a crime and said: ‘Here is a crime which is so bad that you should make an exception of it’. All over the world there have been attempts to approach the matter on this basis. Minds can differ. 1 can imagine much worse crimes than the one which he mentioned. I would think that the crime of poisoning would be worse than the crime which he mentioned. I would think that the crime of engaging in drug trafficking on a large scale, which destroys the lives of many persons by inducing them to take heroin, and which causes enormous misery, would be a far greater crime than the one which the honourable senator mentioned.
– In many cases the drug trafficking finishes in a capital offence, anyhow.
– -Yes. I think that would be even worse than the crime of hijacking an aircraft or the killing of persons on an aircraft. Some might differ on that. They might agree with Senator Greenwood. Minds will differ. The answer is really this: The death penalty should be abolished, not out of any sympathy for the perpetrator of the crime and not because of any undue sentiment but if we are to uplift society the community itself has to show the regard that it has for human life and say that it will not take that life. Even when there is no sympathy for the perpetrator, society will say: ‘We are prepared to keep that person throughout his existence rather than put him to death because that is the value which we place on human life. We will not punish by taking away life’. That does not mean that society will not, if it needs to prevent a crime, execute someone, as is done in the course of preventing injury to someone else or in an act of self-defence. Society is saying: ‘We will not punish. This will not be a penalty because society considers that human life ought to be regarded so highly that it will not be taken by way of penalty’.
– Is it not your Party’s policy to agree with abortion?
– The point which the honourable senator raises is an extremely important one, but it ought not to be dealt with by way of interjection in the course of this debate.
– It is very embarrassing.
– It is not embarrassing to mention it. It seems to me to be distracting in this debate. If the honourable senator would like a debate on abortion, I would welcome it. If he cares to put some matter on the notice paper, I would be one who would be quite willing to say that it should be brought up so that there could be a thorough discussion, as I think there should be in this chamber, on abortion law reform. I think that it ought to be discussed. But do not let us be distracted from a topic which in itself ought to require proper debate in the chamber in order that there may be enlightenment on the subject and in order that the law may be brought into a proper state.
The anwer to Senator Greenwood is that if we pursue the considerations which I have put it is not a matter of trying to find some crime which is worse than other crimes and make those exceptions. We should pursue the principles which I have enunciated. We should also take into account other considerations such as the errors which can be made in regard to convictions for crimes, even in respect of a crime for which one has had a full trial by jury, with the apparent safeguards surrounding it. One can never forget cases such as the case of Timothy Evans who, it was generally agreed, was executed although he was an innocent man. I would think - I am open to correction on this - that in the case suggested by Senator Little of a person who commited treason having some kind of military overtones if he were tried by a military court there would be more danger of errors occurring in those circumstances than in normal circumstances. The main principle is that we should establish the regard for human life on a plane where society itself will not take it by way of punishment.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator E. W. Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 6.
– I move:
The arguments which are to be advanced in support of this amendment cover in great measure the arguments which were advanced in support of the amendment upon which the Committee has already divided. Of course, those arguments were directly related to offences committed by a member of the Armed Services in the course of armed conflict. I should imagine that that offence could generally be comprehended within the offence of treason, but treason is much more comprehensive. There has always been an offence of treason, even before the famous Act of 1352 and the various Acts of attainder basically expressing treason as it was known in ancient times through to the present offence of treason which is contained in the Commonwealth Crimes Act.
There are varying degrees of treason but they all have as their geneses the respect for the corporate nation - of society - of the State which is at the core of our civilised society. It has always been regarded as a heinous crime for a person to betray the collegues with whom he associates and lives and who depend upon his continued loyalty as part of society. Whilst treason is not the type of offence which these days finds its way into the courts because few people are charged with treason - indeed, the concept of treason has lessened greatly over the years - still there is a need, I believe, for society to recognise that there is an offence which is basically the offence to which history has given the name treason’. Section 24 of our Crimes Act - I willingly concede it is a provision which requires amendment in modern day thinking - expresses the concept of treason, as it was known some 50 or 60 years ago when it first appeared in our Crimes Act. That section states:
A person who -
kills the Sovereign, docs the Sovereign any bodily harm tending to the death or destruction of the Sovereign or maims, wounds, imprisons or restrains the Sovereign;
kills the eldest son and heir apparent, or the Queen Consort, of the Sovereign;
levies war, or does any act preparatory to levying war, against the Commonwealth;
assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist, an enemy -
at war with the Commonwealth, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared; and
specified by proclamation made for the purpose of this paragraph to be an enemy at war with the Commonwealth;
instigates a foreigner to make an armed invasion of the Commonwealth or any Territory not forming part of the Commonwealth; or
forms an intention to do any act referred to in a preceding paragraph of this sub-section and manifests that intention by an overt act, shall be guiity of an indictable offence, called treason, and liable to the punishment of death.
That is our existing law and, as I said,I would willingly accept some amendments to it in style as well as in substance. But basically that offence is an offence against the maintenance of society and maintenance of the State; an offence against the loyalty and allegiance required of ones fellows in society. We all know the customary type of treasonable act which we understand as covered by the offence of treason. That is the type of act which I believe we are concerned with. I certainly am concerned with it in moving this amendment. I refer to the traitorous act of a person who assists an enemy to overthrow the country of which he is a member. I suppose the last prosecuted case of high treason was the case of William Joyce - Lord Haw Haw - who was executed in 1946 because of the treasonable acts of which he was convicted. Those acts were committed in the period from 1939 to 1945 during the war with Germany. Whatever legal difficulties that case created they did not centre upon the treasonable character of the acts committed. They related rather to the extension of the crime of treason to persons who for other purposes were aliens; but in the case of William Joyce the House of Lords said that he was not an alien because he travelled under and received the protection of a British passport.
– It was a very debatable case though, was it not, because he had tried to give away his British citizenship?
– I think I agree with Senator Murphy. The real point which took the matter to the House of Lords was, as he said, the extent to which a person who was not a British citizen, in most respects or in the layman’s concept of a British citizen, but nevertheless had a British passport, was, in all the circumstances in which he held the passport - I do not recall the precise details; they may be as Senator Murphy suggested - capable of committing the offence of treason, which basically is the breach of the allegiance which one owes to the country of which one is a member. I leave that matter aside. I referred to it only to illustrate the type of treasonable acts; the conduct which is covered by the offence of treason. I appreciate that there can be differing views as to whether in this day and age treason is the type of offence for which the death penalty is appropriate. I certainly believe it is the appropriate penalty to be on the statute book and, according to our practices, if a person is convicted of the offence of treason there is an Executive Council which would always review the circumstances of the case. I certainly believe that society must indicate its corporate nature, and the obligation of all members ofsociety to work within that society and not to deter the society or members of that society is probably the highest duty which can be imposed upon citizens. It is a duty which can be abused and misused. Nevertheless it is a duty which we must recognise as existing and if we rate it as a high duty we must regard its disobedience as an offence of the highest quality measured by the type of sanction which is imposed for that breach. I believe it is appropriate, if we are considering the type of offences where the death penalty may be retained, in the context of a general prosposition before the Senate that the death penalty should be abolished for all offences, that we ought to give specific consideration to the offence of treason. Therefore, I have moved to the effect that if the Senate accepts this proposition treason would be an offence for which the death penalty still remains. I have moved that a new clause be added stating that the Act does not apply to the offence of treason.
– I suggest that this proposed exception falls under the principle we dealt with in the case of the last amendment. However I go further and say that in any view to except treason in this way shows the great dangers of the death penalty. The history of the cases of treason shows that many of them would be regarded as political cases. The last person executed was a debatable case. Many thought that the man should not have been executed; that he should not even have been convicted. In substance what he did was give away his British allegiance. Really he was on the side of Germany during the war. When one reads the case it is very difficult to say that that man should have been treated as a traitor to the United Kingdom because in fact he had made a decision and had said: ‘Look, I am not on their side, I am on the other side.’ He did a great deal to establish that fact. I do not want to get into arguments about that case but it was debatable.
Throughout history the offence of treason has been used very often as a means of oppression. Its defects are its vagueness. Senator Greenwood read out the relevant section in our Crimes Act and it covers such things as maiming the Sovereign and imprisoning the Sovereign. That may not mean merely our notion of imprisonment; it may be a detention of the Sovereign, and locking the Sovereign up in a room would constitute imprisonment of the Sovereign. This illustrates that the crime is one which has been vague in its application. It is capable of being used oppressively and that adds to the weight of the other considerations. I do not need to go through them again. The real point is whether you are against the death penalty or not. It is no use seeking offences such as treason because one could imagine many worse offences. In my view there are many offences worse than treason. As I indicated, I am opposed to the proposal put forward. It detracts from the clear statement that the community should not permit the death penalty to be imposed in any circumstances.
– I agree with Senator Murphy that there were many cases in which what is called the crime of treason had political connotations. Strictly speaking, had the colonists’ side lost in the American War of Independence, George Washington could well have been executed for treason. The classic case, of course, occurred in Ulster before the First World War when those in Ulster who disagreed with the proposals for self-government for Ireland formed an armed force, one member of which was a well-known English lawyer, Mr F. E. Smith, who acted as an aide-de-camp for one of these forces which threatened rebellion against the Crown. At that time Mr Smith - later Lord Birkenhead - was known as ‘Galloper’ Smith. The organisation with which he was associated made overtures to the German Government for assistance, and a large quantity of arms was imported for the purpose of maintaining their refusal to accept the Act of Parliament passed in the House of Commons, and they therefore threatened treasonable action. The war broke out, and of course the situation was changed. But Sir Roger Casement committed exactly the same crime which the people concerned in Ulster had threatened to commit before the war. He went to Germany and endeavoured to obtain assistance for the other side, the Sinn Fein. The remarkable position then came about that Sir Roger Casement was prosecuted for treason in the courts of England and the prosecutor was the Lord Chancellor, Mr F. E. Smith, who had himself been associated with people guilty of the same crime.
– He was the AttorneyGeneral at the time.
– He was AttorneyGeneral at the same time. He had been associated with people who had been guilty of the same crime, and history records that the 2 men each threatened the same course of action. One was rewarded with the woolsack, the other was hanged and his body was buried in quicklime.
– On the subject of capital punishment for treason we have heard a couple of examples given by Senator Murphy and Senator McManus, but one must look at what treason really means. What of the case of a man who may be a traitor to his country and could cause the loss of lives of hundreds or thousands of troops on occasions, such as those on a troop ship? This is not beyond the realms of possibility. What should happen to this person? Should we merely gaol him for 7 or 8 or 10 years, when he has taken the lives of numerous innocent victims who were prepared to give up their lives for their country? He could also place his own country at risk. These are the things that concern me. I am not one who is looking for blood in any of these cases. Rather, I am looking for a deterrent and I think one should exist because the price some people are paying for murder today is only, say 10 years imprisonment, after which they come out on the streets again free. A great deal of thought is given to them and to their souls. What of the victim? What of treason which could result in hundreds or thousand of victims, and what if it put the perpetrator’s country and the people in that country at risk? These are the areas we must consider, not just one side of the picture where there are a few grey areas and particular examples. This is a very serious matter, and I support the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood because I think it is necessary. True there will be cases of treason, perhaps in a grey area, when a person could be acquitted of his crime. But when it can be clearly shown that a person has been a traitor to his country, has put his country in jeopardy and has placed the lives of many people in jeopardy, and perhaps caused the deaths of many people, then I think there ought to be no alternative to his paying the full price for his treachery.
– A general proposition has been stated here and has been resolved by the Senate which is for the abolition of capital punishment. This amendment purports to place against the general proposition a particular circumstance which might be a qualification or dispensation from the general proposition. Once I or anybody else has accepted the general proposition and the reasons which found such an attitude, I do not think it is logical or proper for such a person then to find a qualification which would justify a departure from the acceptance of the general proposition. If the proposition is placed on the basis that there is no proper justification for taking the life of a person condemned by process of law as guilty of an offence, and in those circumstances or any attached circumstances such .a person’s life should not be taken from him, then 1 do not think that logically one can have a hierarchy of offences. In that case only the peak of the hierarchy would justify departure from the general principle. I am not speaking for other honourable senators who may not find such a position or may find that a departure is justified, warranted and acceptable. I personally could not find that. It may well be, of course, that the crime of treason stands today at the peak of the hierarchy of offences, that is, in the concept of our regard for nationality, our nation and the protection of iS security. It could be that in another age and in another time some other body of offences may be found to be even more culpable and more warranting the final punishment than would even the offence of treason. Therefore one would be stating propositions on the basis of shifting sands, which I think would be very undesirable. For those reasons 1 oppose the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood, though I understand what has prompted him to move it. lt is a justifiable attitude which is propounded and one which is defensible but one which in the circumstances of the acceptance of the general proposition and the reasons which actuate me to accept that proposition, I cannot support.
– I concur with what Senator Byrne has just said for I believe that if we are to accept the principle that the State should not judicially take the life of any person then this must apply no matter how horrible the offence may be. I do not believe that we can say, as apparently the mover of the amendment wishes us to do, that we can develop this hierarchy of heinous offences when we have conceded that no matter how heinous are certain offences, we will not impose the death penalty. For example, I cannot imagine more heinous offences than those allegedly committed recently in Texas - the mass murders, the horrifying reports of which we have recently heard. I do not believe that it would be possible to work out a hierarchy of magnitude of these crimes whether committed for financial aim or anything else. For somebody to say: ‘This person is not as bad as someone who has committed treason’ or ‘someone who has poisoned another is worse than one who blew up an aircraft full of people in order to collect insurance payments. What we are saying is the State should not deprive people of their lives by a judicial act. We believe that in saying this we are, in fact, by example setting certain standards by the conduct of the State itself which we hope will permeate throughout society. Senator Young has raised the question of deterrents in the case of treason. My own feeling would be that if any offence where the death penalty is unlikely to bc a deterrent it would be precisely treason. One can well imagine that in the case of a person who commits murder in order to get financial gain that there would bc perhaps some balancing of the possible gain and the possible penalty.
– Treason can be for that reason too.
– If I could just finish my point, I say I could well imagine that in the case of murder for financial profit the perpetrator of the crime may well enter into some calculation of the possible risks compared with the possible gain: Although I would reject the argument, I can understand the argument that there may be some deterrent involved in such cases. But it seems to me to be highly unlikely that this would apply in the case of treason unless one includes those people who are not committing treason for any political or moral purpose but for financial gain - because they have been bribed.
– That is possible, lt does happen.
– Certainly there are some cases but probably in the case of treason these examples are rather fewer than those of people who are committing treason because of ideological, political or moral motivation, however misguided. I would assume that in the case of a person committing treason for financial or material reward the deterrents provided by capital punishment would have no greater deterrent effect than would be the case in the commission of any other crime.
– You would need to have a heirarchy of offences within treason.
– That is so, if you were to acknowledge that point of view. In generally discussing the commission of crimes we do not find a correlation between the frequency of the imposition of capital punishment and the rarity of otherwise of a certain crime. We all know, for example, without rehashing these matters, that in the Netherlands, which was the earliest country to abolish capital punishment, there is the lowest rate of ‘unlawful homicide. Certain other countries which have quite frequent executions simultaneously have a high rate of unlawful homicide. Coming to the case of treason, at one extreme is William Joyce and at the other extreme is Sir Roger Casement. Clearly the possibility of capital punishment is not a deterrent in such cases. Obviously it was not a deterrent in those 2 cases because the death penalty was applied in their lifetimes and, in fact, they both suffered the imposition of the death penalty for their acts.
People engaging in treason for ideological reasons - Thomas Jefferson, Washington, Roger Casement, or for that matter, William Joyce - are doing it for reasons which in their minds have caused them to take supreme risks, however desirable or evil we may think their causes to be. They have reached the ultimate stage in their dedication to their causes. I do not believe that the retention of the death penalty will in any way deter such people. The only thing that the retention of the death penalty in the laws of the country does is to show once again that, even if only in limited cases, we as legislators are holding that the state ought to retain the right judicially to deprive people of their lives.
– The miners at the Eureka Stockade were guilty of treason.
– Not only were they guilty of treason; they were guilty of treason at a time when the death penalty was provided for as a recompense for treason. It acted as no deterrent whatever. The reason that there have not been similar cases to Eureka Stockade in Australia is not the existence of the death penalty but social changes within society. I do not believe that we for any reason should say that the state is going to deprive people of their lives by judicial process because it sets a pattern for the whole of human conduct. In the barbaric world in which we live it is my opinion that an example should be set by this Parliament, by saying that whatever anybody else may be doing at least through our courts and our law we are not going to deprive individuals of their lives in this way.
– I am amazed at the squeamishness of so many of our parliamentarians who defend people who destroy the lives of other people, sometimes in a most dastardly fashion or in ways which have great national consequences. Of course, the decision was made on the general principle. Senator Greenwood .has moved a motion touching on treason. We have heard all sorts of angles expressed on treason. This legislation applies mainly to treason, to people who are treacherous to their country. I have heard it said here that a person might be treacherous to his country and a few lives or a few hundred lives might be lost. I think that is taking a very small view of what treason might be. Most acts of treason resulting in national consequences come about during a time of national crisis such as a war. What do we find? In the last 2 World Wars people were killing each other because of the determination of one country to survive against another. Our own men were taking the lives of people opposed to us. Does any honourable senator want to tell me that if one of our men or one of the enemy had moved over to the other side, committing a disloyal act of treason by going over, the natural reaction of the side he left would not have been to shoot him? Of course it would have been. That is the natural reaction in cases like that.
In the matter of treason let us consider what can happen to a person who is treasonable to his country in a time of war. This involves not the loss of a few lives but probably the loss of a war by a nation because of that person’s treachery. Treason reaches far beyond simple acts like that today. It may be the treacherous act of a person who relays information to an enemy country so that that enemy is enabled to find out just what a country such as ours might be doing. As a consequence it might be able to take action to counter our move or moves and possibly to destroy this nation. Am I supposed to believe that a person who would act to sacrifice his own country and have his countrymen put under the yoke of another country, causing the deaths of a great many of his countrymen, should be allowed to survive because of squeamishness about getting rid of him?
What could be the result of a change of control of Australia? A traitor could become one of the dominant persons in this country because of his treachery. Can honourable senators imagine the consequences and how many lives would be taken as a result of that treachery when somebody else took control of our nation or any other nation? So far as I am concerned, treachery to a nation is a very serious matter. It is a serious matter to the people living within that nation. There is a namby-pamby attitude towards criminals to whom leniency and sympathy are extended by so many people in public life and by the courts, lt is an indication of how weak-kneed this nation and its people have become.
– It must be very personally satisfying for any individual to be able to see black and white in considering the removal of the death penalty from the federal statutes. Some people who are seeking genuinely to abolish capital punishment from the books of this Parliament are able to say. ‘In some instances we will have nothing to do with the retention of capital punishment on the books.’ Senator Ivor Greenwood has moved that the Senate decide that the Act should not apply to the offence of treason. Surely that is the very core of why the Senate and the Parliament should be seeking” to retain that particular piece of legislation on the books. We are elected to this Parliament by the Australian people. We have an obligation to show that we will have on the statute book such laws as will operate for the good of a well ordered society. At present the death penalty is provided in the case of certain crimes. I am not aware that any honourable senator or any member of the Australian public would go to bed feeling that he could have said to him, as has been said by honourable senators opposite, ‘You are a hanger’, or ‘You are a man keen on death.’
The fact is that we should retain on our books legislation which will enable the proper judicial system to decide whether to rid society of an individual who has foregone his right to live in our society. I think that the act of treason should be a basis for the retention of the death penalty. It provides a very pertinent reason, why the total abolition of the death penalty should not be agreed to. I note that t fie re is no division of opinion within the Labo£ Party on this matter. In actual fact in this instance a free vote is being exercised only by the Opposition. Surely in the variety of matters which have been put forward the most important is the national interest so far as treason is concerned. If we are considering the abolition of the death penalty entirely we must keep in mind the possibility of the pub lic on occasion taking the law into its own hands. This is what the amendment now before us is aimed at.
Surely not one honourable senator can say that in every instance of every crime he believes that the death penalty should be abolished. We have heard various arguments put forward by previous speakers. Senator Wheeldon said it was his belief that if treason were committed then by retaining legislation providing for the death penalty for treason we would automatically take the life of the individual who was branded as a traitor. That is not our situation today.
– That is not what I said.
– No, but the general tenor of the honourable senator’s argument which he put forward here was that if an individual were charged and found guilty of treason then he lost his life, even though it was debatable whether he was guilty or not. Suppose the Parliament in the following weeks decides that it will go to war for some reason - perhaps because we are being attacked on our shores. We put out a troop ship to send Australians overseas. By some treasonable act information is given by an Australian citizen to the enemy and that troopship is lost with 1,000 lives. An individual stands proudly and says: ‘I am an Australian citizen. I am proud to do that.’ The abolition of the death penalty in our law means: ‘Come, we will look after you in the grand conditions which we are now demanding for citizens of this country. You must be excluded from society but we will not take your life.’ Should there not be some element of the law which can require that person to forgo his life because of the action which he has taken?
Finally, looking at the economic calculations in relation to the Australian community, should such a person while away the next 30 or 40 years in prison while the balance of the Australian community pays $20,000 or $30,000 a year to keep him? To go back to the argument of the Opposition, 1 believe that the crime of treason does not automatically require the life of the person who has committed the treason to be taken, but we should retain on the statute books a provision so that the judiciary which is appointed by the Parliament of this country will be able to judge a man for his crime and, eventually, perhaps, call on him to forgo his life.
– I rise to support the amendment which has been moved by Senator Greenwood. I have thought often of the awful position in which the British Government has placed itself in regard to Northern Ireland - although I doubt that it could be said that treason is involved in this instance. I do not attempt to say which side is right and which side is wrong. But in that country we have a position where people can go on the rampage with bombs, throw them into shops and slaughter innocent people wantonly and with premeditation, and if they are caught nothing can be done except put them in gaol. It seems to me that in a case like that justice can be done only by meting out the death penalty. There is no other way. Senator Webster spoke of people who with deliberation, forethought and premeditation can attempt to sell this country or part of it and to sell their fellow men down the drain. We are abolishing the only method by which justice can be meted out to them. I say without any hesitation whatever that without the slightest compunction I would hang those responsible for some things that are happening in the world today. In doing that I think that I would be meting out justice in the only way in which it could be done.
It is not long ago - I referred to this when I spoke during the second reading of the Death Penalty Abolition Bill - that I pointed out that it is claimed by statistics that since the death penalty was abolished in the United Kingdom the number of people shot in the streets, by other citizens or by the police, has increased tenfold. These statistics went on to show that instead of executing persons in prison cells the people are executing each other in the streets and the police are doing it in the streets as matter of self -protection. It seems to me that some people have an obsession about capital punishment. There is a great desire to do away with what I believe is the only method by which ultimate justice can be meted out. This great desire to throw it all away is a sign of the times in which we live. Those things which we valued so much in the past do not matter any more and people traduce them and throw them away and we do not bother to punish them. We let them go. The thing is a fetish. I believe that this abolition is something which this country will regret in the future as it has been regretted in other parts of the world where the death penalty has been abolished.
The complete and absolute absurdity of the Labor Party is demonstrated by the fact that the death penalty provision is only a reserve power. It was used in Tasmania by a Labor Government. We had a Labor Government in office in Tasmania for 30-odd years and this power was used once. At the time I said to a Labor member: ‘I thought you people were against capital punishment; that you did not believe in hanging anyone’. He said: ‘Oh yes, so we are but this bloke was so bad that we just had to do it’, and they did. They hanged him. There are people who perpetrate crimes which in my view are so horrible - I refer to some of the things which are happening in Northern Ireland and an incident which occurred in Brisbane not so very long ago - that there is only one way by which justice can be meted out, and that is by means of capital punishment. Anything else is just flimsy; it is poor. A few years gaol for some of the most horrible offences known to man is, in my opinion, completely and absolutely inadequate. Especially is that true in regard to the crime of treason against one’s country and one’s fellow man.
That the clause proposed to be added (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator E. W. Prowse)
Majority . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– 1 move that the following new clause 6 be added to the Bill: 6 (1) This Act does not apply to or in relation to-
The offence of murder committed by a prisoner where the person murdered was performing duties as a member of the staff of a prison;
Prisoner’ means a person who is undergoing imprisonment or detention in a prison or who, while liable to imprisonment or detention in a prison, is unlawfully at large.
I would like the Senate not to capture the atmosphere this afternoon that this debate is of no purpose. This debate probably will constitute the final record of the Senate’s opinion at this day and age of August 19,3 as to one of the defences of society. Hitherto we have moved through a century and a half when we have seen a grand relaxation of the harshness of punishments at criminal law, moderated according to the community’s achievement in law abiding habits. We have moved through the stage where capital punishment has been reduced to apply to very few but singular and unique crimes. We have moved through a stage where the prerogative of mercy has minimised the penalty that the law prescribes for those crimes so as to substitute for the final sanction of capital punishment imprisonment, usually for life, in, I would think, 99.5 per cent of the cases. But it is one of the greatest indictments of the intelligence and sense of responsibility of people who are elected to this Parliament if they do not understand the true significance of what is being done when they destroy the last safeguard provided by capital punishment in the case of those unique crimes. I can pay no more respect to the opinion of the majority than to say that it is an act of madness and irresponsibility in the present mood of the world, which is one of growing violence, mob violence, terrorist violence and individual violence whatever be one’s conscientious conviction, to proceed to the destruction of our community safeguards in this precarious period.
It is being gradually recognised that the threats that are being engendered, aided by the most modern methods and mechanisms that man has devised including the development of instruments of violence and opportunities for man under the influence of stimulants to commit violence are such that a Parliament that today persistently proceeds, just because of an ideological idea that it has a conviction that there should be no capital punishment, is, I believe, blind completely to the destructive threats that are evident in our community. As Senator Webster has so cogently said in a speech to which I listened with great appreciation, individual men have defects and deserve punishment for particular crimes. We constitute a structure of the State to ensure that the majority might live without violence and in peace, and that the majority who attack that situation shall be properly punished. Is there anybody who would deny that that system of penal sanction for crime can be dispensed with and the stability of our community maintained?
We have equipped the community with a Parliament that should be responsible to the actual needs of the community instead of yielding to the dictates of what is called an ideological conscience, or perhaps to Party pressure which itself is pressured from other organisations which only seldom, thank goodness, up to date engage in violence but which are showing increasing tendencies to use violence for their purposes. We have heard that the State has committed crimes in the name of treason. So has the Church. We have moved from that time. Today, in an era of growing and highly mechanised violence we are seriously taking the step of ridding the community of the defence and the safeguard that it has to deter crimes of murder by the existence on the statute book of the sanction of capital punishment.
In relation to police officers and prisoners, my file reveals that the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ published on 23 May 1972 some comments made at the annual conference of the New South Wales Police Association which then was assembled and was considering its affairs. That newspaper published the following report:
Policemen run as big a risk of being murdered in New South Wales as in the United States’, the President of the New South Wales Police Association, Mr M. T. Taylor, said yesterday. Speaking at the Association’s Fiftieth Annual Conference, he said 5 policemen in New South Wales had been shot dead in the past 18 months.
It was Churchill who said that a policeman in our country is not an ogre to be feared but a friend of those needing protection. A little contemplation as to the unequal circumstances in which their duty compels them to confront and to engage in combat, ought to cause a little hesitation on the part of those who would put policemen into combat where the criminal intent on violence knows that he can get the satisfaction of seeing a uniformed officer die before his bullet and that he will be treated by a gentle government, a just jury and a merciful judge under the law which will not impose on him the ultimate penalty. 1 am ashamed of people who take the defence of police officers and will not give them corresponding safeguards for their defence when they must confront criminals at the risk of their lives. If a policeman is vigilant enough and has the opportunity to see the gun half a second before it is used against him so that he can use his gun and shoot the assailant, he does so without the threat of judicial trial for his action. He is justified in law, by the law of self defence, which nobody, whatever be the passage of this Bill, will have the temerity to remove from the statute book. Here is being created a situation inclining people to engage in pistol warfare in substitution for judicial consideration.
I have cited already on the record the case of the siege in Sydney where a half insane person had killed his de facto wife. A policeman approached and he shot the policeman from the protection of a house. Other police approached and he escaped. The policemen followed him by car. As he turned a corner he was seen to level his rifle at the pursuing policemen, and thankfully on that occasion, the police were able to forestall him and to shoot him dead. There are people in this chamber who would say, if he had gone ahead and killed 2 policemen as well as his de facto wife and been brought to trial, that justice would have been done if he had been put in gaol for life.
I am ashamed to think that so little responsibility is entertained in the minds of the proponents of this Bill that they are prepared to deprive members of the police force of a deterrent which I would suggest is a necessary safeguard to them in the performance of their duty. The same goes for those members of prison staff who have to maintain control over a large congregation of criminals, some of whom are of violent disposition. Prison staff are put there as representatives of the community to maintain these people in gaol, which is the only place in which reprieved murderers can be incarcerated. Members of prison staff are now to be robbed of protection by the taking away of this deterrent.
Only 6 months ago there was a succession of gaol riots, all motivated and connected with one another, in various countries. They were organised for the very purpose of destroying the efficacy of prison staff in maintaining the gaols that the community thinks are necessary for the incarceration of prisoners. Terrorist tactics have been adopted in Germany. My colleague, Senator Lillico, referred to the terrorist tactics that have been adopted in Northern Ireland. Terrorist tactics have been referred to by Senator Murphy as though they are a matter of tremendous evil in Australia. He has lectured honourable senators on this side of the chamber as to the gravity of Croatians taking out naturalisation and taking part as Australians in terrorist activities against Yugoslavia. Of course, all of those activities are completely destructive of society.
My protest is that anybody who today joins with others in destroying one of the safeguards that we have against terrorism and violence, who will not protect a policeman and who will not protect a member of gaol staff is not discharging the appropriate responsibility he has for the maintenance of the structure of today’s community. Men, women and children are now able to go about their lawful avocations only because of the efficacy of our prisons and the efficiency of our police force. With all this before our eyes - a growing tendency towards organised crime, terrorism and prison riots - it is a humiliating moment for the Senate that it should be constituting a majority that will precede with the breaking down of these safeguards and the depriving of prison officers and policemen of that to which they are entitled, that is, the deterrent of the possibility of a capital punishment penalty being imposed upon anybody who takes the life of a prison officer or policeman.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I support completely all Senator Wright has just said. He has approached this matter with the realism and responsibility that 1 see as being necessary in a modern society.
In my opinion it is quite ridiculous that support is not to be given, even if it is only moral support, to our police forces. By the work they are doing they are providing for the very basis of society. Our police officers are open to the greatest dangers with which any human being can be faced. To have removed from the statute book provisions which at least put fear in the minds of people who are likely to take premeditated action against the law and against other people is ridiculous. In those cases, as with the offence of treason, there is usually no killing of a person in the heat of the moment because of great provocation. It is a cold blooded, premeditated act which is against the law of the country. Wardens in prisons perform a great service to society in the work that they do. They are all the time in association with people who, having committed a great felony, have no greater punishment to suffer in this life than that which has been imposed upon them up to that point. Some of these people can kill others without any thought in their mind that their penalty will be increased if they do.
– They have nothing to lose.
– Nothing at all. In my opinion we have to give our fullest support to the police forces of Australia, be they in the States or the Commonwealth. They are the ones who take on the responsibility of performing duties without which we just could not have an orderly and decent society. I support completely this amendment. I congratulate Senator Wright for the very able manner in which, as usual, he presented his case. He presented it forthrightly, with commonsense and with a great degree of responsibility.
– I oppose the amendment. I do so basically for the same reasons as were put before. A general principle is involved. It would be very difficult for one to justify the drawing of a distinction between the murder of a person performing duties as a member of the Commonwealth Police Force and the murder of other persons or, as I have said, what seems to me to be an even graver offence, that is, the trafficking of heroin or some destructive drug which might do damage to a considerable number of persons and which is worse in its own way than the simple instantaneous murder of a person. One will be driven into trying to draw fine distinctions between offences of various types.
I do not think that they can be properly, logically or rationally drawn. Attempts in other countries to try to draw them have always foundered. Of course, it is a very serious matter if any police officer, prison warder or member of the staff of a prison is murdered or if an attempt is made upon his life. I think that there are some defects in this proposition. The amendment refers to the police forces of the States as well as the Commonwealth and the Territories. I do not know whether Commonwealth law should cover all of them.
– If a State police officer is operating in an auxiliary fashion in a Territory he is under Commonwealth law
– It may be that there will be some cases where that could happen. Mostly it would be a matter for the State law. Coming to the substance of the argument Senator Wright has put, it is important that there be protection of persons working in prisons and police officers. I think it ought to be understood that on this side there is no suggestion that violence against persons should be countenanced or that murder should be tolerated. Let it not be thought that I have any feeling that we should be approaching these matters with any undue sympathy for those who perpetrate crimes of violence against others. I do not adopt that approach. The approach which I have put is that I think it is in the interests of society to do away with the death penalty and that this will set an example for society to show that it regards that the taking of life as a matter of punishment should not be accepted even for the worst of crimes. I think that this is happening. With some exceptions, over the years there has been a tendency towards a more civilised way of dealings between people in our society. We do not have in our cities, as there were at the turn of the century, the great scenes of violence with the large mobs fighting against one another - the great razor gang fights and so on that occurred in Sydney. Overall, with the exception of acts committed in wars, I think there has been a tendency, for the most part, towards a more civilised atmosphere as between persons. This has accompanied the tendency to moderate penalties and certainly for society to do away with the death penalty for most offences.
I suggest to the Committee that the general principle ought to be observed. It is a matter of those involved in police work and in prison work taking proper precautions. Certainly the length of the term of imprisonment which can be imposed - life- would be, we would hope, a deterrent. But, more so, society will have to find, as it is intent on finding, new and better ways to prevent crime and to stop persons such as those to whom Senator Wright referred committing crimes. As I understand Senator Wright, he spoke of a man who is half insane and who, after killing his de facto wife, shoots persons. The death penalty will not deter a person who is half insane. We ought to have - I think we will have- better methods of ascertaining whether such persons are mentally ill and of dealing with them in order to prevent the crimes being committed. It is not right that in a society there should be persons who are obviously in need of treatment. We ought to have better ways of finding this out. My understanding is that ways are being evolved. When they are we will be able to more easily anticipate, deal with and treat such persons. To retain the approach of the past when men were more ignorant than they are today, and in the face of an understanding which is growing around the world that the death penalty does not serve a useful purpose, I think would be wrong. It is not on undue sympathy or any false sentiment that the proposition is based, but we believe that the general principle ought to be adhered to.
– I would have expected Senator Wright’s amendment to have received the support of the majority of the Committee. Although some people may be opposed to the death penalty in toto or in certain areas, I would expect the majority of people to accept the proposition that there are certain degrees of crime and murder for which the death penalty would apply. In this country, as in any democracy which places reliance upon the enforcement of law and protection of the people, officers of the law who protect the rights of the individual can be placed in dangerous situations at times. If we expect them to give protection to the community by enforcing the laws that this Parliament makes, then these officers of the law should be given the full support of the community, particularly the Parliament of this country. I would hate to see a continuation of the situation which we have seen in the past few years in which there have been challenges by so many people offered to officers of the law during protests. The officers have been magnificent in the way that they have stuck to their posts.
We have situations in which an officer is expected to arrest an armed criminal. That criminal is armed for only one reason - that is, to make sure that he can get away if he meets any resistance along the line. If that criminal merely had an unloaded revolver, it would be a game of bluff. If that criminal has a loaded revolver and if he is prepared to. use it - he has loaded it before he has gone to the scene of the crime and before he has been detected - in my judgment, if he kills a police officer that is premeditated murder.
– If we have proper laws that person will not have a revolver, loaded or unloaded.
– In theory, yes, I would like to see that situation, but it could never be enforced. Leaving the revolver aside, the criminal might have a knife. Many a policeman and many an innocent victim in the street have been stabbed, not by somebody who could claim insanity because in so many instances these criminals are some of the best brains in this country, although, unfortunately, they are slanted in one direction. So, there is no excuse of insanity and there is no excuse that the crime was not a premeditated exercise. If the need arises, they will take the utmost step if taking a life in order to get away. Yet we have a situation in which some members of the Senate are prepared to say: The policeman can take all these risks. He can protect us and enforce the law. He can take all the risks and possibly get killed. If he does get killed, we must protect the murderer’. What consideration is given to the victim? It would be no pleasure for policemen to go to a particular building when they know that there is an armed bandit inside. These policemen are expected to make an arrest. They do it because it is their duty to do it. I think they are entitled to the fullest protection and support that we can possibly give them.
We are the ones who make the laws. We in this place, as well as the people outside, are the ones who expect these officers to administer those laws and so give protection to the community. Yet .some honourable senators are prepared to go only part of the way to give support to the law enforcement officers. I find that that is somewhat hard to understand. If in a moment of heat somebody knocks down a policeman and perhaps kills him, that is an entirely different situation. It can be clarified in a court of law. Where it is clearly shown that a police officer has been killed, with a weapon which a criminal has on his person, and where this man was prepared to kill that police officer if necessary, this is premeditated. Yet we are not prepared to say that he must also pay the supreme sacrifice. Wc are placing these officers in a position in which they must be prepared to pay the supreme sacrifice in the course of their duties. If in the course of doing his duty, as Senator Wright said, an officer is quick enough to draw his own revolver and kill the criminal before he himself is killed, that is OK. If, unfortunately or tragically, the police officer is killed, it is a different story. As far as I am concerned, those who do not support this amendment should consider whether their attitude towards that police officer who killed the criminal before the criminal killed him should not be challenged. Is the policeman classified as a murderer because he took a life? Should he also serve a life sentance?
The cheapness of the exercise is shown by the fact that a man can commit premeditated murder, no insanity need be claimed, he ‘s put in gaol, at the taxpayers’ expense, for a few short years and out he comes to freedom street again. What of the policeman’s widow and children? They have a lifetime in which to put up with the tragedy caused by this one man and yet that man goes out onto freedom street and goes his own way. This, to me, is not good enough. Even though some honourable senators may not agree with me, I say that a few short years in gaol is not much of a deterrent.
– Who said it would be a few short years?
– Well, we have the example of the Stuart case in South Australia. A man brutally killed a little girl in Ceduna not many years ago and today he is coming out onto freedom street.
– That is not the case about which we are talking.
– No, but we are talking about imprisoning someone for a few short years and then releasing him onto freedom street. The widow and the children of the victim have to carry on in their own sweet way and put up with a great tragedy in their lives. The same thing applies to a prison warder. In the course of his duty he has to enforce the law within the prison and handle criminals who are inside because they have committed murder. In an attempt to escape these same criminals can use any weapon they like and kill one of these law inforcement officers or an innocent victim out in the street. When this criminal is finally caught he goes back into gaol and serves a sentence. That is the only sacrifice he pays. This to me is not good enough. If we are to have laws in this country and expect officers to enforce those laws and to protect our rights and freedoms in this country the least we can do is to ensure that they have the full support they justly deserve.
– As I have said before, I am one who believes in the general principle that the death penalty should be retained. In fighting these particular sections of the legislation before us it is what might be termed a ‘rearguard action’ to retain something of a sensible character relating to the abolition of the death penalty. A policeman is compelled, by his duties, to enter into dangerous areas on behalf of citizens. He is compelled to safeguard them. Because of the special requirements of his duty, such as going into these danger areas, I think special consideration should be given to his case. I will illustrate that idea. If the police force generally adopted the attitude of many of the unions and said, ‘Well, because there is danger we will not carry out our duty’, many of those people who are shouting loudest about people not receiving death penalties for taking the life of a policeman would be the first to call out that something should be done for the protection of the police so that they themselves might be protected. I think that we should give this special consideration because of the circumstances which require policemen to enter danger areas.
I know there has been a lot of talk as to why the abolition of the death penalty will encourage people to behave correctly. I have a great regard for the logic of the AttorneyGeneral, Senator Murphy. However, he has been led astray on this occasion by an idealistic fantasy that, with the abolition of the death penalty, the idea of killing other people will disappear. That is a very fine form of idealism but it is not a practical idealism. More and more criminal action will take place when the death penalty is abolished. Ultimately people, through their legislators, will be forced to restore the death penalty. There is no question about it. Contrary to what Senator Murphy says, that is what will happen.
Because of what has been taking place in Great Britain there is more and more demand amongst the people to restore the death penalty. The parliamentarians have not yet got strong enough stomachs to stand up to it but as the demand strengthens they will become stronger, too, and restore the death penalty. If they do not do that the crime rate will grow and grow until eventually what we know as civilisation might very well break down. We see this idealistic business of reforming people day after day in our courts. Judges poke out their chests when they sentence a man to 20 years imprisonment with a parole period of 4 years. What they mean to say is that in their own weak manner they have sentenced the man to 4 years’ imprisonment. That is what it really amounts to.
What happens to this type of person when he is released from goal. Does he reform completely? What is the evidence? I quoted a particular case before and I think it has since developed further. Some years ago a chap raped 4 models in one of the parks in Sydney - Centennial Park or Hyde Park - and: he was gaoled and let out on parole. After he was released from gaol he entered a school and, I think killed a school teacher and student and injured another girl or teacher. He was sent back to gaol. If he had served the length of his prison term those people would have been saved. What happened when he went back to gaol? One of these idealistic people, an entertainer, a young girl, went along to the gaol to entertain the prisoners. The man to whom I refer charged forth and assailed the entertainer in front of everybody in the gaol and the prisoners had to drag him away. Do honourable senators think that the soft treatment he received through being paroled and the tenderness he was shown reformed him? Of course it did not?
In my own State, Queensland, somebody saw something about 62 miles north of my town of Mackay and began to investigate. He found a heap of timber and noticed that somebody had tried to start a fire. He began to fossick around and found that 3 young men had been killed. That case is well known today. A young man and a young lady were arrested. The young man did what the law should have done - he hanged himself. Nobody was very concerned about his hanging himself, in fact, it was probably the best thing that could happen.
– What is the point of that story? What has this to do with shooting a policeman?
– We make a song and dance about hanging people. This fellow recognised that the right penalty for himself was hanging, and he did the job completely.
– Who is your authority?
– Well, it is an illustration. A lot of people would be worried about hanging that particular chap, but he did the job himself.
– That illustrates the insanity of some other human beings.
– Exactly. I am trying to point out that special consideration should be given to circumstances where people have to go into danger areas to protect the safety of others. I think it should be demonstrated very clearly to the criminal element that if it does anything of a criminal nature to people who protect others we will show a strong force. I think history shows, and will always show - it shows in public life as well as anywhere else - that if people are strong results are obtained. If we have strong legislation we will get results.
Not so many years ago I remember people saying that it was no good putting people in gaol and that it was no good doing this and that. There was a magistrate in Toowoomba, Queensland, who would sentence people to gaol for a month if they were found guilty of drunken driving. People became very careful in that city about drinking and driving. That shows that people take notice of someone who is strong. When that magistrate retired he stood for the city council and came second I think, in the poll of many candidates. When he stood again his term was renewed. Unfortunately he has passed on. That man demonstrated that people who are strong in seeing that the law is carried out will always win the approbation of the people generally.
– I had no intention of talking on this measure. But having listened with great interest to everything that has been said by all previous speakers, I feel that those honourable senators who are supporting these amendments are indicating that they do not really want the death penalty abolished. I think the death penalty is a deterrent. It is very seldom used; the courts and the judges see to that. I think we are wrong even to be considering removing the death penalty. I consider that it should remain in force so that it may be used by the judiciary if it wants it used. As for these amendments, I will support them because they have been put forward by men who, I believe, really do not want the death penalty abolished. Penalties for crimes today are far too lenient and the sooner we wake up to that fact the better we will be. 1 will support these amendments; in fact I will be voting against abolition of the death penalty.
– There is one matter which 1 think should be emphasised in this area, lt is an aspect to which little consideration is given. One general argument against abolition of the death penalty is that it will engender within the community a greater tendency for self help, a tendency for people to take the law into their own hands in circumstances of violent crime more so than would be the case if there was reliance and trust in a law which was justly carried through. I can only suppose that if a father came upon the rape and murder of his daughter and sensed that the laws of the land were such that the perpetrator, when convicted, would languish in prison for a number of years and then be let out, he might say: ‘Well, the worst that will happen to me is that I will be in gaol for 10 years’, and exact his own vengeance on the spot.
– Why not? Who would not?
– That is a situation which I put by way of illustration. I do not think it requires very much imagination on the part of persons who think about this to visualise such a situation occurring. I do not believe that society will be helped if that type of conduct is encouraged, no matter how understandable it may be. The more society creates situations in which people will look to their own strength and their own ability to exact their own private vengeance, so much more is society less able to evolve and develop for itself those standards which really mark a civilisation. I believe this comes about simply because we are not prepared to carry through, with the full force of the law. what ought to be, as society sees it, appropriate penalties, appropriate deterrents, for particular types of crimes. That is. as I have seen it, a general argument against abolition of the death penalty but it is one which does not seem to gain a great deal of currency amongst the commentators who discuss this matter.
This argument has enormous weight in the area covered by the amendment which Senator Wright moved. The amendment seeks to retain the death penalty in cases where a person who is charged by society with protecting society is murdered in the course of his duty, or where a person who is charged by society with protecting those who are committed to the prisons is murdered in the course of his duty. Of course, those people do have the means of protecting themselves. Surely one of the greatest factors or influences operating upon the observance of the law by policemen who are charged with enforcing it is the fact that they can be dealt with by the law equally along with criminals if the law is broken. But it should not be forgotten that these policemen are in risk of their lives daily with every step they take in the pursuit and detection of crime. They may be faced with criminals who can maim and wound and kill knowing that nothing greater is going to happen to them for doing that than for committing the crime which they are in the course of committing when they are detected. In that situation criminals are likely to stoop to any means to avoid apprehension. A policeman will know that this is the attitude of a criminal and he will be more likely to take the law into his own hands in those circumstances. This is one of the great fears which we, as a society, ought to recognise: If we create the situation in which a policeman, in order to protect himself, prefers to rely upon his own strength than upon the law of the land, all out rights and liberties are jeopardised - just because society is not prepared to take the stand to ensure that the police will be protected by the law just as much as ordinary citizens will be protected by the law.
These are the considerations which I wish had received more consideration and attention. Vainly in this place we have sought to have these matters examined. We have even sought to have them debated.
– When you say ‘we’, you mean ‘some’?
– I know that last year we tried very much, with scorn and ridicule being heaped upon us for undertaking what was said to be simply a delaying tactic, to have these matters investigated in some depth away from the area of fierce disputation. We did so because there are real problems as to what are the appropriate means of punishment and what are the appropriate steps by which society should seek to enforce its values in the deterrents and sanctions attached to the laws which society makes, but we do not have the opportunity for that now. Even in this debate the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, is putting up a valiant one man fight on behalf of his Party, not to answer the points made by Opposition senators but to explain in some semblance the measure which is being carried. I rose only because I thought the point I made had not been fully emphasised in the course of the debate. I think it is a highly relevant consideration why this amendment should be supported.
– I rise to make several points only. The first is that my colleague Senator Greenwood referred to actions that ‘we’ have taken. I want to remind the chamber that so far as our Party, ‘the Liberal Party, is concerned this is not a matter on which we as a Party are taking a particular attitude. In fact it is a matter about which there are differences of opinion. Perhaps by using the word ‘we’ Senator Greenwood was referring to those who are of like mind to himself. The second point I wish to make briefly is this: My attitude in relation to capital punishment has been made clear in this chamber on a number of occasions. Mv reason for voting as I have also has been made clear. But we frequently hear in the debate that takes place that the reason given for maintaining the barbaric attitude in our society of wishing to retain capital punishment is because we are incapable of having a system whereby people who have been sentenced to life imprisonment are retained in prison for life. The 2 matters are completely distinguishable. The one amendment to this Bill which I would support is one which pm.vides that life imprisonment means imprisonment for the term of natural life. That to me is a punishment which could be justified in many of the circumstances of crimes in this country. The use of the barbaric system of hanging is not justified because you cannot organise your society so that it can carry out the punishment which was given.
– Is not imprisonment for the term of one’s natural life barbaric?
– It is not as barbaric as the taking of life.
– Have you ever been in prison for a long period?
– Senator Webster, somewhat jovially, has asked me whether I have been in prison for a long period. In the course of my practice as a lawyer in Tasmania I had the misfortune to be in prison for long enough. I went to the prison to interview a person and was taken into the then empty women’s section in the gaol for the interview. Unfortunately the gaoler who directed me forgot that I was there and I spent some hours longer than I ever wish to spend in prison. Perhaps I did get the feeling.
– You have answered my question, that it was barbaric.
– Perhaps Senator Webster can suggest other systems for the improvement of the penal system. I do not think it is an improvement of the penal system to say that because some aspects of gaols are barbaric we should be even more barbaric by imposing capital punishment. I simply wish to reemphasise that we have had the arguments for and against capital punishment. Very few people need arguments in order to make up their minds. What should be realised - here I completely support Senator Greenwood - is that there is a great deal of room in this country for the proper consideration of what is appropriate as a system of punishment and as a system of rehabilitation; to what extent is the deterrent aspect important in the sentencing of persons; to what extent is society entitled to retribution; to what extent is society bound to ensure that people who have breached society’s rules are given some prospect of rehabilitation. All those matters are far more important, I believe, than the continuation of a debate on an aspect of punishment, namely, the imposition of the death penalty which has been argued in most countries for many years. An enlightened world has moved increasingly towards the abolition of capital punishment for the majority of countries believe that there is no evidence that the deterrent effect of capital punishment warrants the imposition by society of that penalty. I continue to oppose any aspect of the carrying out of the death penalty in this country.
– An assumption has been expressed here on a number of occasions that if a person commits murder, even the most dreadful kinds of murder that can be imagined, he will serve a few short years in gaol, and that this would be so even where it was evident that there was some prospect of further violence being expected from him. I think that ought to be discounted. Where it is clear that some violence can be expected from a person, it is reasonable and proper and, I think, necessary that society should take the view that a person who has been sentenced to life imprisonment should not be released.
– They are being released.
– The honourable senator says they are ‘being released. 1 bring to mind the case of a person who was sentenced under the laws made by this Parliament - I will not go into great details about it - and who has now served more than 20 years and for whom over some period of time representations have been made for release. Not so long ago representations were made to me that this was the time and that prisoners usually did not serve such long terms. I examined the case and I declined to make any recommendation for the release of that person notwithstanding that more than 20 years had elapsed.
– It was an unusual case.
– It may be that it was unusual. But when there is enough indication that society would be exposed to further violence, I think one would expect this decision. I do not say that this was a singular attitude on my part because my recollection is that my predecessors took the same view of the matter. So this is an attitude which one might say would extend across party divisions, that there is a view that society should be protected. It is a matter of civil rights, perhaps one of the foremost of civil rights, that a person is to be secure in his life and liberty, and that he should not be living in a society Where others can injure him and take away his life. This should not be understood as though it were some kind of sentimental approach, that everyone is sorry for the persons who commit crimes. We are trying to approach the question rationally in the best interests of society.
Senator Rae’s remarks were very important and are, I think, proper subject matters for the Australian Institute of Criminology. What we need is what might be described as a scientific approach to these matters. We want to ensure that the society we live in is a decent society, that people are protected. No one on this side of the chamber is suggesting that it should be approached in a sentimental way whereby we care nothing for the victims of crimes who go on suffering. Our approach is born out of human experience and out of hope, idealistic though it may be. But we believe that it is established by experience that if society says that it will not exact the taking of life as a punishment, then that is an example to society. We think that this is a resolute approach to society, but that it gets away from barbarism when the other extreme of imposing the death penalty for all sorts of offences was tried. All it did was breed in society a feeling that the taking of life was of no great account at all, whether for the stealing of a loaf of bread or of a few shillings. What we have developed is in general a far better and rational approach. It is to ensure that our fellow citizens will be able to live their lives in security. It is with that hope we approach this question, and we would ask the Senate not to make any exception to the general principle.
– Following that observation I rise before the issue goes to the vote only to ask the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) whether he is able to confirm the statistics on violent crime for either Victoria or New South Wales which were published recently. I speak from memory and subject to correction. That is why I have put my remark in the form of a question to one who ought to have a ready knowledge of this matter. Do not the statistics of New South Wales or Victoria show that the number of crimes of violence in the last year were about twice the number 4 years ago? Every crime of violence in which a police officer or a prison warder is the victim, like every other one, is potentially a murder. I am asking that we should all take stock, even if it takes a minute or two, before this disastrous decision is entered upon to see whether we cannot have authentic information on the trend of crimes of violence in this country today, every one of which is a potential occasion for murder.
– There are great difficulties in dealing with the statistics relating to crimes of violence. 1 attended a meeting of the Aftercare and Prevention Council at which some distinguished criminologists were present. My recollection is that it was stated that there had been a distinct upsurge in a number of crimes. Probably it would be fair to say that this had occurred in respect of crimes of violence, but not to the extent that the honourable senator has suggested. However, this seems to me to be very much removed from the question of whether a special exception should be made for the murder of a warder or a police officer.
That the proposed new clause (Senator Wright’s) be inserted in the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator E. W. Prowse)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Before I call Senator Webster I would like to point out that there has been a tendency to cover more ground than is included in the clause before the Committee. We are having a debate in Committee. I think I have been very generous - or lax, whichever way honourable senators might care to put it - in relation to the scope of the debate. I request that from this stage on honourable senators stick closely to the clause that we are debating.
Proposed new clause 6.
– The proposed new clause on which the Committee has just voted set forth in general terms that the Act should not apply to or in relation to a variety of offences. Those mainly consisted of murder committed against a member of the police force of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth and the murder of a prison official or an official performing duties as a member of the staff of a prison. The new clause which I propose should be added to the Bill refines that provision a little more. I move:
The debate has continued because of the attempt by some honourable senators to see preserved within the law of the Commonwealth the ultimate penalty should it be required in our society. The arguments which I have heard put forward by those who have spoken in opposition have generally been along the lines that they are opposed to the taking of life. We have heard used the words sanctity of life’ and that the community should not degrade itself. Generally we have heard the argument that there is an importance for life to be preserved in our community. Again one finds a double standard coming into the argument. I suppose that each one of us would be opposed to the taking of life on any count, much less that it be taken by community direction or the direction of a court which may be performing such a duty on behalf of the community. But the sanctity of life, as that phrase is used, is not something in which those honourable senators who are protesting against these new clauses really believe. The sanctity of life is not something which this Senate has gone out of its way to preserve because it is known that over this weekend in Victoria probably 12 or 13 people are going to lose their lives by some particular act. There is no great demand by the Senate that we take action which will preserve the sanctity of those private lives.
A Budget has just been brought down and it does not concentrate it efforts on preserving the sanctity of life which is apparently so important, according to those honourable senators who put themselves forward as people who genuinely believe in the sanctity of life. I have a great regard for the sanctity of life but I do not see that it can be taken into account in relation to those individuals who have no regard themselves for the sanctity of life. This afternoon in this debate we have heard from honourable senators - in this instance all on the Opposition benches - who wish to see the highest standards preserved in the community, standards of which the community can be proud. But in putting forward the proposed new clauses to this Bill we are not saying that we believe in the taking of life. We are not saying that we believe in hanging or in murder or that we are demanding an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. We are individuals who are saying that people in this country - its society - require the protection of the law. Some protection may be afforded by retaining on the statute books the provision of the ultimate penalty in some cases. This afternoon those cases have been very aptly spelt out. I would be very surprised if the majority of honourable senators in this chamber did not agree in retrospect that the death penalty should be called upon if necessary in the case of treason. It should be called upon in the case of the taking of the life of a police officer or of an officer who is serving the public by protecting it from an individual who is confined because of the penalty which he is serving for his act against humanity and society.
My suggestion in the new clause which I have moved is one which refines this situation. If we are to talk about deterrent as a major argument associated with the death penalty I think that very properly members of the Senate and people in other areas of discussion should be able to say: ‘Give us proof that deterrent has done anything. Prove that the retention of the death penalty is worthwhile in certain instances.’ But deterrent is not the main point associated with this matter. But I suggest that it is. in fine, the only way that there may be of prompting a man’s mind such as “in the case which I put forward in relation to a prisoner who is serving a life sentence and an employee who may be appointed on behalf of the community such as a prison officer, Commonwealth Police Force officer or State police force officer to confine that prisoner in a manner such as the law provides or such as we are able economically to provide. I was anxious that an honourable senator who spoke previously would, make some show of having a knowledge of what our penal institutions are really like around this country. If we had any regard in this Parliament for these institutions we would provide millions’ of dollars for the reform of the prisons which we have. Instead there is mental stress on the prisoners whom we confine for various reasons. But that is another subject. Maybe I am moving away from the direct point to which, Mr Chairman, you suggest that we should confine ourselves.
I make the point that where a man is serving a life sentence it is impossible in any prison for him to arm himself with some weapon so that he can take the life of the man who is appointed to protect society from him. Where the life is taken of the prison officer or the person who is employed to retain custody over the offender the ultimate penalty should be retained in our statute books. I have moved that that new clause should be added because we could argue that there is in that situation no deterrent whatsoever. One could also say that the only deterrent which may be left to society against such an individual should he continue with his ability to murder the prison officers who are appointed to look after him is to retain on the statute books that ultimate penalty. It should be for the protection of those officers whom we have appointed. It is right that we should appoint from our society officers who will be the custodians of prisoners of violence or prisoners whom our society has adjudged should spend a life in prison? There is no further penalty for that man with the years in front of him should we deprive our prison officers of the protection of the ultimate penalty. No other penalty is available against a man who is serving a life prison sentence unless we do as Senator Rae says.
He suggested that perhaps we should have within our prisons the torment - undoubtedly this is done in our prisons today - of placing a man in solitary confinement. Hardly any member of the Senate would know the burden that is placed on that man. But it would he said that society would rather face a man with that type of penalty than deny him his life and rid society of him. It is my view that the police who protect society from those who are locked away and who are serving life sentences should know that they have a further protection, when at last a murder is committed by one who is locked away for life, of the ultimate penalty being imposed on the murderer so that he should lose his right to freedom. On the basis of a deterrent and on the basis of protection for our society I believe that in such instances the death penalty should be retained on the books.
That the clause proposed to be added (Senator Webster’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator E. W. Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move that the following new clause 6 be added to the Bill:
This Act does not apply to or in relation to the offence of murder when committed -
This is, I believe, the fashionable way of committing an act of terrorism, and it is a crime which has become popular in recent times and which has caused growing concern to the people of the world, including the people of Australia. We are fearful that this crime will increase in number and in seventy. I recall an occasion just over 12 months ago when I came close to a terrorist or a person who could have been a terrorist on an aircraft which was on an internal flight from Los Angeles to Chicago in America. I must say that my companions of the time are excluded from that description. On that occasion we were members of a parliamentary delegation. A negress came into our part of the aircraft with a glass of whisky in her hand and with what I thought to be a large chip on her shoulder and a fairly mean look in her eye. Fortunately she approached me and one of my colleagues in the Liberal Party. We were able to dispel the look of antagonism from her eye. I bought her another glass of whisky. If she had stayed near the seats where my colleagues from the Labor Party were sitting, the situation could have been different. I was able to show this lady that the Australian people are most mindful of problems in the United States. Having bought her a glass of whisky and having presented her with a golden kangaroo which she pinned on her ample bosom the look of antagonism-
– Order! I hardly think that this is relevant to the debate or an occasion for hilarity.
– It is entirely relevant. I wish to go a little further. My colleagues from the Labor Party had a conversation with this lady and I heard her becoming a little excited. I thought: The damage has been done now. My colleagues informed me afterwards that this lady displayed a nasty looking knife and said that if we had not been nice to her she would have used it. Perhaps that is a lighthearted way to describe my contact with what could have been a terrorist on an internal aircraft flight in the United States. If we had not been able to tranquillise her, she could have caused some considerable damage and perhaps even death because she was a fairly strong female. I recall very vividly the pale look on the face of the present Treasurer (Mr Crean) when the lady left our part of the aircraft. This example illustrates the problems that we face in the world today.
I believe that the Australian public, if asked at a referendum whether the death penalty should be provided with respect to acts of terrorism and hijacking of aircraft would say, in a majority vote, that it expected responsible members of Parliament to provide penalties for such extreme situations. We on this side of the Committee have identified the special cases in respect of which we believe the death penalty should be retained. This does not mean that we are bloodthirsty barbarians by any means. In fact, none of us would wish wilfully to take a life. But I do believe that, as responsible members of this Parliament, we should provide such penalties in cases of the type referred to in my amendment. We on this side have the right to exercise a free vote on every matter and particularly on this one. We are not bound to support the dictates of the Party as Government supporters are. It is for this reason that clauses dealt with previously have not been included in the legislation. I hold this right very dearly, and as a responsible member of this Parliament I have moved my amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– For the information of honourable senators, I lay upon the table of the Senate a statement dated 23 August 1973, by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) on Government initiatives in education, together with supporting documents, and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wright) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I lay upon the table of the Senate the report of the Committee on Medical Schools to the Australian Universities Commission relating to the expansion of medical education, and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Marriott) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a report on the development of tourism in Australia and also a statement by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) on the development of tourism in Australia, and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Young) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives as follows:
The House of Representatives returns to the Senate the Bill intituled ‘A Bill for an Act to grant Financial Assistance to the States for the purpose of Assistance to Students in Need at Universities in the Year 1973’, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in the Bill.
The House of Representatives also acquaints the Senate that it has made an amendment to Clause 2 of the Bill. The House desires the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill in respect of Clause 2, and requests the concurrence of the Senate in the amendment made to that clause by the House as shown in the annexed Schedule.
– I propose to move that the message be taken into consideration in Committee of the Whole forthwith.
– The Opposition would prefer it if consideration of the message in the Committee of the Whole were to be postponed.
– 1 should mention that earlier in the day I spoke to Senator Rae about this matter. In view of the Opposition’s request, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Bishop) read a first time.
– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
On 7 December 1972 the Government announced the following benefits for members of the regular forces. All members of the regular forces including Citizen Forces and Reserves on continuous fulltime service who are honourably discharged after 3 years continuous service, or earlier on medical grounds provided the member could have completed 3 years under his existing engagement or undertaking, will be eligible for:
Post discharge vocational training scheme for the purpose of reestablishment in civil life:
Note: All other entitlements are not affected.
All members of the regular forces including citizen forces and reserves on continuous full time service, who serve beyond 3 years initial service, will be entitled to A, B, C and D above, and to:
A re-engagement bounty of $1,000 will be payable to any such member who, after 6 or more years service, is on an engagement, or who undertakes an engagement which will provide a further minimum period of 3 years service before reaching the prescribed retiring age. The earliest point when the bounty will become payable is at the 6-year service point for all ranks except apprentice entrants where the minimum service period is 9 years. The bounty will be payable on one occasion only during a serviceman’s career. Re-engagement will not be a right. It will be subject to normal eligibility criteria. Any member who once having received the bounty and is subsequently discharged for misconduct, inefficiency or on request without sufficient compassionate grounds will be required to repay a portion of the bounty on a pro-rata basis related to the shortfall in service.
Unless discharged earlier on medical grounds, the above benefits will not apply to the following:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965-68 to provide for some of these benefits. Other benefits which were contained in the Government’s announcement of 7 December 1972 have already been provided for by the legislation or are in the process of being provided for by regulation. I refer to repatriation benefits, war service homes benefits and reengagement benefits. The benefits concerned which are provided for by this Bill are presently available to national servicemen under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act. This Bill extends the benefits to all members of the regular forces, including citizen forces and reserves on continuous full time service, who are honourably discharged after 3 years continuous service or earlier on medical grounds, provided the member could have completed 3 years service under his existing engagement or undertaking. Certain existing resettlement benefits for members of the regular forces who have long term service are not affected by this Bill.
The Bill provides for the establishment of an additional training scheme to be known as the former regular servicemen vocational training scheme. The benefits under this scheme will ‘be similar to those already operating in favour of national servicemen under the national service vocational training scheme. Trainees who will be eligible for these benefits and who commenced training on or after 7 December 1972 will be able to claim the benefits which this scheme will provide. Part IV of the Defence (Reestablishment) Act is in very wide terms and desirably so. It enables the Minister to make arrangements for the post-discharge vocational training of national servicemen and now, as a consequence of this Bill, of former regular servicemen where it is considered necessary or desirable for their effective resettlement. Training may be full time, part time or by correspondence. Part IV allows arrangements to be made with the States for the use of State facilities. It permits the Minister to pay to trainees allowances and expenses, and tuition and other like fees. It also makes provision for text books, tools of trade and so on. The development of the vocational training scheme in relation to former regular servicemen which this Bill now authorises, will, of course, require the working out of some details.
The Bill further provides for rehabilitation treatment and training benefits under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act to be extended to former regular servicemen as defined in the Bill. That Act already applies certain provisions of the Social Services Act 1947-1973 to national servicemen. This Bill, therefore, also applies, subject to variation, those provisions. In accordance with Government policy, the means test provisions of the Social Services Act will not apply to former regular servicemen. Finally, the Bill provides for re-establishment loans to be extended to former regular servicemen. These loans are for agricultural and business purposes. Under these provisions, a former regular serviceman will be eligible for such a loan where this would be necessary to enable him to reestablish himself in a business, profession or occupation including farming in which he was engaged prior to call-up. I am sure that they will be found most valuable for some at least of these former regular servicemen who have rendered service.
Mr Acting Deputy President, the Bill is complementary to other measures such as defence service homes and repatriation benefits which the Government is in the process of extending to servicemen, not only in recognition of their occupation in present-day circumstances, but also in pursuit of the Government’s determination to provide an adequate volunteer force. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill amends the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act in 5 ways: It makes provision for special superannuation arrangements for New South Wales and South Australian teachers now teaching in Commonwealth schools; it provides benefits by way of book and equipment allowance to Commonwealth teaching service scholars; it provides benefits by way of special financial assistance for Commonwealth teaching service scholars; it repeals existing provisions for officers absent from duty in relation to child birth; and it enables the Commissioner to provide, and the authorities to use, members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service for special educational duties.
The special superannuation arrangements for the New South Wales and South Australian teachers will allow those teachers who elect to join the Commonwealth Teaching Service to transfer their current superannuation contributions and benefits without additional cost, without medical examination and without probation. In the absence of this amendment it would be very difficult for many of these teachers to transfer to the Commonwealth Teaching Service. In a large number of cases the additional cost of superannuation would be such that there would be real hardship involved in making the transfer.
Earlier this year the Government decided that the holder of a Commonwealth Teaching Service scholarship should be given an annual book and equipment allowance of $80. The existing provisions of section 45 of the Act do not cover a benefit of this kind, and it is necessary therefore to add to the legislation to encompass this benefit. Similarly there is nothing in the existing section 45 of the Act which covers the accommodation costs incurred by the holders of Commonwealth Teaching Service scholarships who undertake practice teaching in places remote from their training institution. It is considered that the holder of one of these scholarships who undertakes practice teaching, for example, in the Northern Territory, should be assisted with the accommodation expenses incurred in the Territory. The Bill makes provision for this.
It is proposed that separate legislation should be introduced which will provide for a Commonwealth code in relation to maternity leave similar to that which operates in other matters which apply to the generality of Commonwealth employment, for example compensation and furlough. This legislation repeals existing provisions of the Act which relate to maternity leave.
The definition of teaching duties contained in section 4 of the Commonwealth Teaching Service Act appears to limit the ways in which members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service may be employed. No modern education system can operate without the services of persons with teacher training and with teaching background and experience who have special competence in a variety of fields. These services are not only needed in schools. There will always be responsibilites in head offices of education authorities which call for qualities most likely to be possessed by members of the Commonwealth Teaching Service. Examples are educational research, curriculum development, the preparation of text materials and teaching aids, to say nothing of guidance and counselling services, including psychological and educational clinics. Other support services attached to education authorities include master teachers who can be used to visit schools and by example, guidance and encouragement raise the quality of teaching. The amendment contained in clause 4 of the Bill is designed to widen the function of the Commonwealth Teaching Service Commissioner to meet the requirements I have outlined.
The Commonwealth Teaching Service carries responsibility for the education of a significant proportion of the Aboriginal child population of Australia, some of these children being taught in their own languages. Part of the Teaching Service may in future form the expatriate teaching service in Papua New Guinea, carrying responsibility for secondary and technical education there. In Arnhem Land the Service operates in one of the world’s most precious ecological environments. It must work to give equality of opportunity to all children in the Northern Territory - children who live under some factors of disadvantage in their schooling. It is also the teaching force for the Australian Capital Territory, which ought to be a laboratory for new and valid educational ideas. The Commonwealth Teaching Service’s responsibilities to the nation - and probably in future to other nations - are therefore very great and its calibre should be very high.
The steps taken in the Bill today are all steps towards creating such a teaching service. They coincide with action being taken to launch an extensive school expansion and improvement program in the Northern Territory, and with the establishment of secondary colleges in Canberra. These colleges will constitute a form of broad and high calibre secondary education, recognising in its scope and structure the adult status of fifth and sixth formers. I believe Parliament should enact this legislation.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 17 May (vide page 1753), on motion by Senator Primmer:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency, the Governor-General be agreed to:
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator Withers had moved by way of amendment:
That the following words be added to the AddressinReply, viz: ‘but the Senate is of the opinion and regrets that - The Government in its conduct of the nation’s affairs has subordinated the security and welfare of the Australian people on whose behalf it should govern to the factional decisions of the Conference and Executive of the Australian Labor Party, in that:
without regard to either economic or social consequences it intends to award Government contracts to employers who will comply with trade union policies;
in defiance of its election policy, it attempted to introduce compulsory unionism for Commonwealth public servants;
it has pursued and intends to pursue defence and foreign policies which are contrary to Australia’s international treaty obligations and which ignore or reject long established bonds with traditional and trusted allies; and further the Senator views with alarm -
economic decisions which take no account of their impact on the nation’s exporters and their employees; and
the Government’s lack of action to curb runaway inflation’.
– We are in the unique position, in the second sessional period of this Parliament, continuing and I hope completing the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I wish to address the Senate for a few moments tonight on an urgent matter concerning a particularly important industy in southern Tasmania. I wish to contrast to the dilatory passage of this debate the expedition in focussing the Senate’s attention on a matter of immediate importance that has arisen only since the Labor Government, on Tuesday night, dealt another major and damaging blow to the apple and pear industry of southern Tasmania. According to statistics which I have before me that industry has declined from a bearing area of 17,000 acres in 1955 to 12,800 acres in 1972. It is an industry which to Tasmania means from Si 2m to
SI 5m gross yield. It is particularly interesting to note that the main market existed, hitherto, in Europe, 12,000 miles away. In the 3 months of the year when the European produced fruit is not available on the European market we take advantage of the different hemisphere in which the fruits grow and get our apples on to the European market. As the recent investigations have shown, the high increase in freight rates and the difficulties arising out of European conditions of the market are creating tremendous obstacles to the continuance of this industry.
In the last 8 to 10 years the number of orchardists owning their own orchards has been reduced from about 1200 or 1300 to 800 or 900, or figures of that sort. I do not propose to engage in a review of the industry but I give those facts to indicate that over the last 2 or 3 years the risk of difficult economic conditions in this industry is unique. Not merely is the industry suffering ordinary perils which occur in primary industry but silly newspapers continue to report that primary industry now is in a state of real prosperity, simply because beef, wool, sugar and, in restricted quantities, wheat are enjoying good markets in the last year; those newspapers forget one factor and that is that in the last 10 years the general overall indebtedness of primary industry has risen from about $136m to more than S2,000m. About 50 per cent of primary industry is still in peasant conditions and producers’ incomes are infinitely inferior to general average weekly earnings. That was the level of economy that the growers were already facing before the Budget was delivered on Tuesday night(Quorum formed).
In the particularly prejudiced condition of the industry, the Budget delivered a damaging blow. At a recent meeting I heard the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) say that the Liberal Government stabilisation scheme of 3 years ago, which awarded this industry $3.1m last year, was the most generous subsidy to any industry in the country. Nobody had ever known that until the Minister revealed, in his weird way, these mysteries.
Before the recent Budget this Government had effected a revaluation which deprived the industry of about SI. 5m of the returns that it could expect. On Tuesday night the Government brought in proposals to abolish the sales tax exemption on carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit. Dr Coombs tells us that the cost of that sales tax exemption was estimated at S25m per annum. The genius of the Labor Government has discovered that this expanding benefit to the industry, which began in 1932 and has continued except in the war years right up to the present time, returns to it a unique supplement to its returns from distant markets by reason of the industry being able to market about one million cases of apples. These apples which are delivered to the fruit juice factories cost practically nothing because they were surplus to export sales. They net to the industry probably $500,000. The 4 million to 6 million cases which are exported abroad net to the industry only between $2m to $3m, if the season is good, out of the $12m to $15m I have mentioned. Therefore, it is not surprising that today I received telegrams from prominent growers. I cite one from one of the eldest, most successful and respected growers of his area - Mr Eric Benjafield. The telegram states:
The sales tax amendment will cost Tasmanian apple growers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year because they will have no outlet for their juice apples. The disposal of fruit not up to export standard has been a vital benefit to a struggling industry and without that income the position of growers will become worse. Resistance to the amendment is urgent.
Also, 1 have a telegram from the Chairman of the State Fruit Board which points out that the industry anticipates most serious consequences from the withdrawal of this benefit. By making it attractive to the cordial industry to buy apple juice and other fruit juices, obviously the sales of apples are greatly increased. The Chairman of the State Fruit Board states:
It can be expected that soft drink manufacturers will be reluctant to take delivery of orders placed for 1973 concentrated juice now packed waiting shipment and will have very little interest if any in placing orders ex 1974 apple crop. Please inform other Tasmanian senators.
Mr Leo Benjamin, Managing Director of H. Jones and Co. Pty Ltd, a very big processor in the industry, draws attention to the same facts and to the importance of the withdrawal of this benefit. I bring this matter to the attention of the Senate tonight knowing that Hansard will be studied by departmental officers and the Minister for Primary Industry can therefore have such information as they will produce. So before the Bill to give effect to this exemption is presented some opportunity for reconsideration can be granted.
If we look to the comments of Dr Coombs on various factors of this withdrawal we will see that they are like the Karmel report whereby so-called experts closeted in the offices of Canberra got together a few figures and, without a real knowledge of the industry, put together a few facts based purely upon the statistics. There is one provision to which I take exception. It is pointed out that as a result of the concession fruit juice processors generally, of citrus fruit and others, buy apple juice because it is colourless and because it is most tastefully attractive. They introduce it as a blend with citrus juice and thereby are able to get the subsidy. This is what Dr Coombs offers for the advice of Cabinet. It is this sentence which is the criterion of the advice on which the Government of Australia relies today. He said:
The soft drink manufactuers, in pressing for sales tax exemption for all soft drinks, claim that apple juice lowers the quality of their products. While exemption is conditional upon fruit juice content, however, they continue to use apple juice.
If Dr Coombs will come with me to Geeveston, where there is a new factory which blends citrus juice with apple juice, he may be persuaded in sober moments when he drinks fruit juice to agree that when you mix citrus juice with apple juice it is one of the most delicious and appetising cordials that could be partaken. Later in his report Dr Coombs said that he had found that the Government was losing $25m by exemption of sales tax. He involved himself in a piece of arithmetic which I find too tedious to state, far too tedious to analyse and far too tedious to answer. After his analysis he said:
There is little doubt that withdrawal of the exemption would have a marked effect on the incomes of apple growers, especially in the face of current adverse market conditions for Australian apples in the Common Market countries . . .
Nevertheless, looked at purely as a form of assistance to apple and citrus growers, the exemption is rather an uneconomic form of subsidy.
He went on to suggest that if the Government does consider withdrawal it would need to be accompanied by the provision of adequate funds for reconstruction of those fruit growing industries, chiefly the apple industry, likely to be affected. Then, during question time yesterday, we were confronted with a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry that after withdrawing this subsidy the
Government proposes to appropriate to the fresh fruit industry of Australia, not exclusively the apple industry of Tasmania, the grand sum of $4m. For what purpose? For the purpose euphemistically called reconstruction. In actual fact that money is for grubbing orchards out and destroying in a day when the environment is supposed to be one factor considered as well as economics the lovely orchard country that has been built up by hard work for 50 years in many cases. The country will become just apple root holes. The Government proposes to appropriate $4m for this.
I do not want to be provocative tonight. I told the Minister, Senator Wriedt that I intended to raise this matter but obviously his absence will be explained by the fact that he is studying hard on other subjects in the industry elsewhere. I urge that some other form of real assistance be given to the industry, not by way of grubbing grants. If this sales tax exemption is to be removed, there should be some real form of assistance that will allow the industry to regrow.
It is abyssmal pessimism to suggest that this industry cannot be maintained. In the Pacific in the last 4 years there has been built up an alternative trade which already exceeds 1 million cases. The market of Japan in the Northern hemisphere is capable of consuming an input greatly in excess of English trade or what the English trade can ever consume. I urge that emphatic efforts be made immediately by the Australian Government, as part of the trade bargaining with Japan, to secure access to the Japanese market for our fresh apples. If that could be announced the item I am referring to would be comparatively unimportant. Some people are bemused by the fact that Japan announced a quarantine objection against receiving our apples because we cannot certify that they are the product as a whole of a country entirely free of codlin moth. We all know that for many years in international trading quarantine has been the most over-used and abused pretext for restricting trade. I hope that we will adopt a positive attitude to see whether the removal of this sales tax exemption cannot be postponed, particularly in view of the precarious and deprived state of the industry at the present time. I accompany my request in that respect with an urgent adjuration to the Minister that he and the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) will use every effort to try to persuade Japan to allow entrance of our apples so that there will be opened up a market far superior to that we have every enjoyed in Europe.
– It may be one of the disadvantages of an Address-in-Reply debate that it is not a coherent debate on any particular subject. I am not going to continue along the lines of my colleague from Tasmania, Senator Wright, but that must not be taken as indicating any lack of support or interest in what he said. However, I do not like and I do not encourage repetition. All I want to say in that respect is that I hope that the Minister for Primary Industry, Senator Wriedt, a fellow Tasmanian, will look thoroughly into the grave situation that this aspect of Budget policy has forced upon the apple growers of Tasmania. The longer one is privileged to be a member of the Senate the more first occasions one must celebrate and tonight, well into my 21st year and participation in my 21st AddressinReply debate-
– Too long.
– That is not what the electors of Tasmania think. This is the first time that the Senate has been so mismanaged that in the beginning of the second sessional period we are still debating what should have been a continuing debate from the opening day of this Parliament. Traditionally speaking, we have insulted Her Majesty the Queen and we have breached the traditions of this Parliament. However, not all that has happened in this House -
– That is good.
– Pardon me, I am making the speech. Not all that has happened in this House even under this Government is bad, and I should like to place on record an event which took place yesterday in the quadrangle of Parliament House and which pleased me greatly. Seventy American school children who for the last 10 or 12 weeks had visited schools throughout Australia under the auspices of the American field service scholarship scheme, which is promoted very largely by the Australian-American Association, visited this national capital as part of their final tour towards Sydney from where they will depart tomorrow for their own country. I am an executive of the American field service scholarship scheme in Australia and I was privileged to obtain the Government’s authority for the Government to entertain these young people to morning tea. The great privilege which they were granted - this really pleased me - was that you, Mr President, and your Presiding Officer colleague, Mr Cope, both of you busy men, were waiting in the quadrangle when they arrived. You mixed with them and you talked to them. I spoke with them afterwards, and they said they were very thrilled and honoured that they had been accorded this distinction in Parliament House. They all assured me that they had had a remarkably good time in Australia and many of them want to return in later years. They will be good ambassadors for AustralianAmerican relations when they return to their homeland.
When making up my mind this morning about the subject on which I would address the Senate during this Address-in-Reply debate, I decided that I would not at this late stage speak in retrospect of the last session, firstly, because it would have been old hat and, secondly, by referring to a debate in the same session of Parliament I would probably breach Standing Orders. I certainly will not indulge in a debate on any aspect of the Budget because at present - I do not think it will last for more than 72 hours - members of the Government and their supporters and some of their friends in the media are still in a state of euphoria, believing that they really did something good by the Budget. They think they have changed the face of Australia. I think that the Budget will change the position of the Australian Labor Party in government in Australia. However, we shall have plenty of time and plenty of legislation to afford us an opportunity to discuss this aspect of Parliament. I believe, Mr President - this is no fault of yours - that since the new Government took office this Senate has been very badly managed; in fact it has been mismanaged. Permit me to cite quickly 3 examples. Firstly, several months elapsed before we formed the Standing Orders Committee which you, Mr President, so wanted to be operating. Secondly, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, which to my knowledge has continued since it was first set up at the instigation of a former senator, Professor McCallum, did not commence operations. Previously this Committee came into operation at the beginning of each Parliament; even on the celebrated one day meeting of Parliament on 19 November 1969 the Parliament found time to resurrect it. But this Government took some months to get the
Committee operating again. We still have on the notice paper a resolution to appoint a similar committee for the Northern Territory but the Government did not find time in the last session for a debate and a decision on what would be important legislation for the people of the Territory. Those are only 3 examples which very clearly indicate the mismanagement by the Government of the business of the Senate. We all know that day after day in the last sessional period we came into the chamber and neither we nor the Government knew what was to happen. As a result there was frustration and the use of the guillotine at the end of the last session.
I am amazed that the Government and its spokesmen have been boasting about the large number of Bills they introduced. They say: We had 110 Bills brought to the Senate in the last session which was more than the number introduced in a comparable period by the previous Government’. I do not believe, and I am certain the people do not believe, that a government shows its mettle and efficiency by boasting about the large number of pieces of legislation it brings in to control, tax and frustrate the taxpayers of this country. If we could finish a session of Parliament and boast that we had only about 8 new Acts of Parliament with which to worry and confuse the people, we would be a more popular Parliament than we are today, and let none of us think that the national Parliament has much popularity among the people of Australia today. Speaking of popularity, I do not believe that the Senate has found its right place or reputation in the minds of the people of Australia. Some of this may be, and possibly is ,the fault of we senators. But I believe a lot of the fault lies with the media, for traditionally the media has placed the emphasis for news on the House of Representatives, which is the House of Government and the House which initiates most legislation. Many media commentators have decided either not to publish any news or information about the Senate or to rubbish the Senate and to speak of it as a rubber stamp. The extraordinary fact is that immediately the Senate - it has been like this for some years because the Government of the day does not have a commanding majority in the Senate - has amended, held up of defeated legislation, some among the news media, and always the Government, whichever party is in power, say that the Senate is frustrating, mischievous and interfering. But I believe that the Senate in all cases, no matter which party was in power, was doing its job as the elected senators thought it should.
One very good illustration, I think, of the lack of treatment of the Senate by the media occurred at the end of the last session. On, I think, 8 June the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Withers, prepared a Press statement which I believe spelled out very well the role of the Senate and showed that it had acted sensibly and reasonably and had accomplished a great deal in the time at its disposal. I do not believe that a major part of that Press statement appeared in any newspaper in Australia. I searched a few newpapers for it but did not see it. It is quite a shame that this aspect of the Senate is not put to the people. For instance, in the sessional period under review it is true that the Government produced to the Senate a total of 110 Bills of which the Senate decided to defer the final decision on three. I am citing these figures from the statement of Senator Withers. The Senate rejected 4 Bills and amended eight.
In a similar period when the previous Government was in power, but without a majority in the Senate, in 1972 the Senate dealt with 65 Bills of which it amended 6 and the Opposition coerced or encouraged the Government to withdraw one. This indicates that when either major party or a coalition has been in power without a majority in this chamber the Senate has not in reality acted mischievously or to frustrate the government. Senators - and in each case I have referred particularly to the Opposition senators - have been frustrated by a great overload of work towards the closing stages of each sessional period. I think my memory is correct that the debate on 19 measures was guillotined in the last sessional period. Some of the most important Bills presented to this Parliament were debated in this chamber for between 1 hour and 2 hours. At page 2475 of Hansard of 1 June of a certain year, to be divulged later, the following appears:
Sometime the lesson will be learned by the Government that measures of a major nature ought to be brought in well before the end of the sessional period. If this lesson is not brought home in any way it will have to be brought home by consideration of the matters remaining on the notice paper at the end of the sessional period being deferred. Bills ought to bc introduced in ample time for them to receive a reasonable consideration. The Senate is not being treated as it ought to be treated, and I ask the Senate to agree to the proposition that we stand these matters over to the first day of the next period of sittings.
That was said by the current Leader of the Government in the Senate when he was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on 1 June 1972.
– Senator Murphy?
– Yes. Unless a new look is taken at the management of the Senate and of legislation in the national Parliament every Leader of the Opposition worthy of his Opposition will be threatening and possibly taking the action that Senator Murphy urged us to take in June 1972. The main delay to legislation is caused by the House of Representatives, partly added to by the custom of initiating the majority of Bills in that House, and by the fact that the government of the day always has a majority and is able to rush legislation through by guillotining measures or by making members sit into all hours of the night. I believe that that was not done in the autumn session this year, but still the rush came on. So the Government’s legislation starts to mount tip here and that is why we are dealing with the Address-in-Reply debate tonight, 6 months after it started, because it was broken into and had to give way to get legislation through. This will continue to happen and we will have the same frustration and the same anguish unless we take a look at the facts of political life as they are in the Senate in 1973.
I would go so far as to say that a seminar ought to be held of interested senators of all parties over the weekend to thrash out ideas on how the Senate should have a new look at its treatment of legislation. It should not be done when the Senate is in session, when Standing Orders have to be obeyed and votes taken. It should be done by informal discussion, perhaps in groups taking various aspects. The groups could then report to the Government which would decide what it would like to suggest to the Parliament. I do not think we will do it by senators rising in the AddressinReply Debate and taking certain points. I believe that the time is past when something has to be done.
I refer, for instance, to second reading debates in the Senate as it is now constituted. In my estimation on every Bill there have to be at least 8 speakers in a second reading debate. This is because the Senate consists of 4 groups and the Government. Custom, tradition, the thoughts of men and women are such that a Bill is introduced, the Minister makes a second reading speech and when thi debate is resumed the Opposition, the Country Party, the Democratic Labor Party and the independent group each have the right to have at least one of their senators speak. This is true of each measure. Every three or four speakers possibly but not always necessarily are against the measure or against the Government. It is then necessary to interweave a government supporter between each group, it is necessary to have a closing speech in reply by a Minister so that for every important Bill 8 speeches are made.
Mr Daly, the Minister for Services and Property, has informed the Australian public that about 200 Bills will be introduced between now and Christmas. Some will be the subject of cognate debates, but each Bill must be dealt with in Committee and the procedures of handing over and passing motions and debates all take time. We therefore have reached the stage where there is not time for Parliament to do its business and anything else in the time that it can sit. In this situation is must be remembered that we are now overloaded with valuable committees. In my view we have out-committeed ourselves and we have to look at that. Party meetings have to be rushed. People cannot attend one committee meeting because they must be at another. All these problems are upon us and will get worse as we proceed in this session.
We are sticking to the fact that in an Address-in-Reply debate we can take over H hours each. For other Bills we can talk for over an hour. So that as many senators as possible can speak to listeners when we are on the air on Wednesdays we allow ourselves half an hour each. I believe in freedom of speech in the Parliament and the rights of senators to speak, but I believe the stage has been reached at which we must cut ourselves down in time but not in numbers. I believe that in the Senate no speech should be allowed for more than half an hour without special leave of the Senate - and I would begrudge the granting of that leave. I believe that when the Senate is on the air, in order to get through the business and for the sake of listeners no speech should be longer than a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes. Then I believe that we could really improve the business of the Senate. There would be full and adequate discussion. There would be time for committees to go on doing the work for which they have been established. Unless the Governments takes a lead in this no improvement will come. Honourable senators say to me: ‘You were in office for 23 years and you did not alter anything’. I admit that they are right. We did nothing.
One of the problems of government is that once a government gets in it thinks: ‘We will ride roughshod over the Opposition whatever happens so do not alter the system’. Last year when we wanted to alter the system a little - we were in government - honourable senators who were then in Opposition would not listen to the suggestion of shortening the time of speeches or cutting down debates. They insisted on their rights. We had arguments from certain honourable senators whom I will not name now because I am not being provocative. I am trying to be constructive and helpful. But many honourable senators from the Australian Labor Party felt that the slightest alteration to the Standing Orders was taking away their rights. If 2 of the Estimates Committees sat at the same time the attitude of some honourable senators was: ‘We will not have a bar of it’. Not one of those honourable senators came to an Estimates Committee hearing because they were not interested. But these are the problems which are facing this Senate. My Tasmanian colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), is taking all this in. Hansard is printed and there are the’ public servants and the army of advisers. Surely we can get something good out of the advisers. We do not want all these search and destroy combinations going around. I suggest that the Government find some of the academic advisers and get together with them to see what they can produce to help Parliament conduct its business in a better way.
Just in case the Opposition thinks that because I am not criticising aspects of policy I have gone all calm and that I am satisfied with the present Government I will let honourable senators know by way of conclusion, that I am very worried about many aspects of government. I hope that soon Senator Wriedt will be able to let the farmers of south-eastern Tasmania have something definite and helpful in relation to the 1967 fire loans, the interest and the problems associated with that matter. On several occasions we thought the Government had made a decision or was nearing a decision, but my latest information from the division is that nothing has been granted. As the Minister knows full well this same area has been subject to a very bad drought. Our shipping situation is terrible. Do not lose any sleep over the idea that the Sim to the ‘Empress of Australia’ will be any great help. It may save the fares going up a lot but it will not get the ‘Empress of Australia’ running satisfactorily. It will do nothing for the ‘Australian Trader’. I believe that our shipping situation is chaotic. It will be chaotic until strong action is taken by government or by courts against the waterside workers, the ship unions and those who run the ships. I do not believe that the Australian National Line is run well. I believe that it is run shockingly. I have always said that and I still believe it.
I shall briefly refer to the situation in Canberra, which has not an elected representative in this chamber. I believe that the situation in the Australian Capital Territory today for the people is worse than it has ever been. Treatment by government has never been very good. The facilities for the people arc good but the control of Canberra by government has been so fragmented under the new administration that the people are confused and confounded. They have the great handicap that their own honourable member who should be fighting for them is the Minister who has some control over some aspects of their lives in Canberra. But naturally because of Cabinet responsibility he is too timid and too handicapped to take action for the people who put him in with a record vote. He probably did not beat the late Jim Fraser in the number of votes he received but he probably got near a record vote. The people of Canberra put him in but he cannot fight for them because other Cabinet colleagues are controlling many aspects of this city. This is a matter which has to be dealt with. I believe that the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory will do something to help the people but the Government needs to wake up to the fact that it is not giving the people of the Territory a fair go.
The only other criticism at this stage about the Government is that I believe it has declared war on the people of Australia. I mean that. I believe that there are Ministers who have not vested interests but doctrinaire dislikes of elements in our community. They are using their ministerial power and authority to declare war on the people. We have one Minister referring to the ‘fat cats’ of the Public Service. These people whom he is gratuitously insulting are the people who advise him. I think it is terrible when we have Ministers saying things like that. There are plenty of other illustrations. The hillbillies of the mining community, as they were called, are attacked. There are others. Honourable senators know them. I know that in the Labor Party the backbenchers and honourable senators like Senator Wriedt regret this. But something must be done to stop the national Government declaring war on segments of the population. I will say more about that at the suitable time when the Budget debate is taking place.
One has only to move around the States or to write or telephone people in the State governments - Liberal, Labor or Country Party - to learn that they fear what is going to be said about them or what will happen to them next. Enough was said about foreign affairs last night. Our friends have been insulted, our acquaintances have been ignored and our enemies have been crawled to. That is the problem of having a Prime Minister who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs. He may be fit to be Prime Minister but he is certainly not fit to carry the 2 highly important offices. Foreign Affairs is a portfolio which needs a level-headed, dedicated person with plenty of time to study all aspects before he opens his mouth. These are the things which are worrying Australia today. I hope that this AddressinReply will soon be agreed to and presented in the normal, traditional way to His Excellency the Governor-General and passed to Her Gracious Majesty the Queen.
– I wish to join in this debate only very briefly, mainly because of the comments which were made by Senator Wright. As he indicated to the Senate, he advised me earlier in the day that he would be raising this matter during this debate. But I will briefly comment on one or two points which Senator Marriott raised. Until the latter part of his speech I thought that he was rather interesting. Many of the comments which he expressed concerning the operations and the running of the Senate I thought were worthwhile matters on which all of us could dwell. I am sure that there are vast improvements which could be made. It was unfortunate that towards the end of his contribution he became somewhat less logical than it was in the earlier part. I make the comment that it is true that this Government in fact has declared war. We have declared war on poverty and on the lack of facilities for education and health, and the lack of facilities for the cities of Australia. This is the sort of fight upon which we have embarked, and it is a fight we plan to win because these are the things for which the people of Australia have been waiting for a long time. I have no doubt that during the course of the Budget debate I and colleagues of mine will be able to amplify the areas in which we have indicated that in fact we intend to tackle these problems. In respect of the specific matter of fire loans which was raised by Senator Marriott I should say that apparently there has been some difference of interpretation of the communication from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to the Tasmanian Premier. I inform the honourable senator that I have been looking at this matter only today in order to seek clarification on it. As soon as possible after I have had clarification the honourable senator can be assured that I will communicate with him.
Senator Wright raised the matter of the removal of the taxation concession on fruit juices. He properly said that this was really a matter for the Budget debate. I want to say very briefly that I accept the fact that certain problems will arise for the fruit industry as a result of this decision. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) recognised this fact during the course of his Budget speech. But I think Senator Wright would be well advised to remember that his arguments are damned by the very points that he made. It is true that the difficulties that have obtained in the Tasmanian fruit industry still obtain despite the fact that exemptions of this nature have been applied over the years. They have not solved the problems of the fruit industry and they will not solve those problems. If in fact the honourable senator could show that there was some justification in continuing these concessions because they were improving the long term viability of that industry there would be some validity in his case. But, of course, the position is directly the opposite, as the honourable senator himself has said. So for what reason should we continue with an exemption of this nature which allows for the misdirection of money which we could be putting to better purpose for the benefit of the industry?
I was surprised that the honourable senator was so critical of the restructuring process in the industry because he must be aware that this scheme was introduced two or three years ago by the former Government of which he was a member. It was necessary that that be done. Since I have become responsible for this portfolio I have said in this place that the decision of the previous Administration to introduce a fruit growing reconstruction scheme was the correct decision. It has helped to some degree to remove the sections of the industry which are not viable, and it has helped growers transfer into varieties of fruit that are in greater demand on the world market and into other forms of farming. Without that scheme we would have had a bigger load to carry and the people who remained in the industry would be struggling on in worse conditions than those obtaining now. It is a matter of looking logically and rationally at how we can overcome the problems in this industry by the redirection of the moneys which over the last 10 years - since 1963 - have been allowed to be expended on this fruit juice taxation concession which has contributed virtually nothing to the fruit growers of Tasmania or any other State. I know this will be-
– That is a terribly wrong assessment.
– I simply say that during the course of the Budget debate perhaps Senator Wright and I could have a more detailed discussion on this matter. I assure him that I would welcome a further discussion. I do not think now is really the time to do it.
– I opened it up tonight so that we would be prepared.
– Yes, I appreciate that, but I felt obliged at least to make some comment in return.
– I regret that this debate on the AddressinReply is being wound up at such a late stage. I think it is a poor compliment to the representative of the Crown and it is a poor compliment to the Government which, after all, is responsible for the Governor-General’s Speech and for the fact that the presentation of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral has been delayed and delayed and delayed. The Government can blame only itself that there are people about who deduce from this delay an inclination to show towards the representative of the Crown a spurious kind of republican feeling.
One feature of the performance of this Government since its election has been that it has interested itself more than any other Australian Government in other people’s business. We have found while this Government has been in office that there have been notable interventions in the affairs of other people and notable interventions particularly in the field of human rights. The Government has belaboured a number of countries. I refer, for example, to Rhodesia, South Africa and other countries. It has belaboured them on the ground that in those countries there have been infractions of human rights. No doubt many Australians agreed with this. There were some who disagreed. But I think one objection that most Australians had to the expression of the Government’s indignation upon many of these questions of human rights was that the government’s indignation appeared to be almost entirely selective. It was normally indignant to the nth degree when governments which were not communist infringed human rights and it slumbered peacefully when communist countries infringed human rights, in many cases to a far greater degree.
I will offer the Government the opportunity to redeem itself - to prove that its indignation is not selective - by asking the Government to turn its attention this week to affairs in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia today has less freedom than any other country in Europe, and it has less freedom than most countries. Five years ago Czechoslovakia was ruled by a communist government. That communist government had gained control after the Second World War in circumstances in which one of the best loved diplomats in Europe, Jan Masaryk, was murdered by being thrown from, a window. Benes, a patriot who had nursed Czechoslovakia through the period 1918-1940, died of a broken heart. The Czech people were not permitted to elect their own government but a communist government was imposed upon them by the bayonets of the Red Army. Five years ago, although the government was communist, that government was attacked on the ground that it sought some small degree of independence from the demands of the Soviet Union. It was attacked because the Czech communists felt that they had some obligation to their own people over and above their obligation to the communist front. When they attempted to use that small degree of independence they were invaded by the Red Army. They were invaded by the armies of the Warsaw Pact. A new government which was entirely foreign to any form of democracy was imposed upon them, and since then Czechoslovakia has been a complete communist dictatorship.
At that time, 5 years ago, many of the Czech people protested. One of the national heroes since then has been a young student named Jan Palach who, in 1969, gave up his life as a protest against the tyranny that had been imposed upon his country. When, this week, the fifth anniversary of the imposition of that tyranny on Czechoslovakia by the Red Army came around, the Communist authorities in Prague erected around the cemetery where this young boy had been buried a 6- feet high fence and prohibited any Czechoslovak from going to the cemetery to put flowers upon the boy’s grave. In spite of the threats and menaces of the Army backed by the Soviet Army, hundreds of Czechs braved imprisonment by going to the cemetery and pinning their flowers upon that wooden wall.
We ourselves, I think, have had an example of this denial of liberty and human rights. One of our own members, I am informed, in the House of Representatives, Dr Klugman, found impenetrable obstacles against getting into Czechoslovakia because he had expressed his personal views on what he regarded as an infringement of what was right. Apparently the attitude of the authorities in Czechoslovakia is that they have the right of denial of free speech not only to ordinary citizens of this country but also to members of our Parliament. In Czechoslovakia today, I repeat, there is less freedom than in any other country in Europe. Religious freedom has been denied the people. The bishops of the principal church must be members of the Government sponsored organisation. There is no general freedom. Yet we in this country receive a diplomatic representative of the puppet government which tyrannises the Czech people because Red Army bayonets are available to back it. I look forward to our Government issuing a protest this week on this fifth anniversary of that attack on human rights. If our Government were to do that, there would be less of those accusations that our Government is anxious always to protest against infringements by non-communist countries but is silent when wrong is done by communist countries.
On this question, may I say that there has been considerable interference by our Government in the affairs of other governments. If I am asked for an example, I point out that the presence of American troops is a difficult question for countries in South East Asia. But in spite of that, the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, intervened in an unjustifiable way by making statements saying that the people of Thailand should get rid of the American forces there. This provoked an outburst by a leading Thai government member who was featured in our papers as saying: ‘Mr Whitlam should mind his own bloody business’. Following upon that, although South Vietnam is a friendly country and although our Government had been thundering about attacks by sabotage or guerrilla forces on Yugoslavia, representatives of our Government met and welcomed here representatives of the Vietcong who at present, in defiance of the Paris Treaty, are making attacks upon the people of South Vietnam. We have diplomatic representation with that country. If it is good enough for our Government to protest when people attempt to go to Yugoslavia, why is it that we do not protest at the Vietcong? Instead we welcome them to our country.
I turn to the United States of America. We all heard the interventions not only by the Prime Minister but also by other Ministers in the affairs of the United States. Gratuitous insults were offered. Then the Prime Minister determined that he would go to the United States. He went to the United States. He met President Nixon. He came away and said that everything had been smoothed over, that the attacks would end and that he would stop his Ministers, including even Dr Cairns. Yet, the Prime Minister was hardly out of Washington before he levelled at President Nixon a sailor’s farewell. What would we say if President Nixon issued a statement in regard to the ASIO case? What would we say if he and his Ministers made statements about ASIO similiar to those that the Prime Minister and Ministers in our country have made about Watergate? We would say that it was a shocking infringement of the relationship between the 2 nations. But there are double standards in our Government. It reserves the right to insult others but it firmly objects to anybody even criticising it.
In the case of Britain and the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, no one can object if there were hot words between the Prime Minister of Britain and the Prime Minister of Australia. But what was the necessity to continue the argument after the conference was over by making sneering refences to the British Prime Minister and by suggesting that in Australia we are getting rid fast of the British tradition? We may be, but why stress the fact? We owe a lot to Britain. We owe a lot to the country from which many of the people in this country originally came. What was the necessity to sneer and to say: ‘Well, it will not be for long before we will have forgotten the British tradition’? I have a regard for the British people. We can stand up and talk about multi-national corporations - that is all right - but why go past that? Particularly when the conference at which the fight occurred is over, why gratuitously flash insults from this country when there is no need to do that?
I come next to Lee Kuan Yew. Once again, our Prime Minister had the right, if hot words were being used, to come back. But he made the allegations that he did about Lee Kuan Yew and the state of affairs in the government of his country, and suggested that Lee Kuan Yew was no democrat. Anybody with any fair mindedness would know what Lee Kuan Yew has had to deal with and what he has had to put up with. I always remember somebody from the Australian Broadcasting Commission going to Singapore and being primed to ask all the wrong questions. He interviewed Lee Kuan Yew there for ABC television. He said to him: ‘Is it not terrible that in your country you have some communists in prison?’ Lee Kuan Yew said: That is right’. This representative of the ABC said: ‘Now, is that not very undemocratic?’ Lee Kuan Yew said: ‘I suppose it is. But what you have to realise is that if the communists ever get control of this country they will shoot me. I do not shoot them. I just put them in prison until they get over it’. One can make all the criticism that one likes to make about Lee Kuan Yew, but one should remember that when he came into power he was faced with an almost impossible situation. It was a city with almost impossible problems to overcome, but he has got over them. If anybody were to say to me that it would have been possible to do so with democracy, pure and undefiled, I would say to them that their attitude was most unfair.
I will deal with the question of France later. I am disappointed with the attitude being adopted by the Australian Government, which can only be described as a hypocritical one. We have har1 thunderings about the atomic tests in the Pacific. We went to the International Court of Justice and at it portrayed France as a criminal.
– All based on a lie.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poyser) - Order! Interjections are out of order, Senator Webster, particularly when they are made by an honourable senator when he is out of his proper place.
– We endeavoured to get the other countries of the world to condemn France. What happened almost immediately afterwards? Chou En-lai declared that China sympathised with and supported the actions of France in exploding atomic bombs. He declared that China would continue to explode them, even though she was exploding them close to areas of very heavy population, whereas the French were exploding their bombs in an area where there is a very small population. The crime of the Chinese is obviously worse. What happened while we had our Attorney-General before the International Court of Justice lambasting the people of France? Dr J. F. Cairns was feting in Australia the representatives of communist China and concluding with them a trade treaty which described them as being, in the eyes of the Whitlam Government, the most favoured nation. Has there ever been anything the equal of that which would make the head of the average Australian citizen hang in shame? Here we have a country which not only supports the exploding of bombs but also intends to explode more bombs and to explode them in areas of heavy population in South East Asia and the Whitlam Government says that it is the most favoured nation in our eyes.
What have we done about Taiwan? The Taiwanese people never did us an injury. They were friendly to us on all occasions. Representatives of our Government went to Peking and there announced that it would recognise the Peking Government and declared that it would not recognise the Taiwan Government on the ground that it was a part of China. Is there anybody here who does not know that Taiwan is de facto an independent state? Could Chou En-lai or one of his policemen go to Taiwan? Does the fiat of the Chinese Government run in Taiwan? Not at all. Taiwan is de facto an independent government. We have recognised de facto independent governments in Germany and Vietnam.
– And Bangladesh.
– We rushed in to recognise Bangladesh. It was said by our Government that in China it is claimed that China is one country and that therefore we could not recognise both. But we recognised Pakistan originally as covering Bangladesh too. When the time came to do so we did not say, as we had said in China, that one cannot recognise both. What we said, hypocritically, was: We will recognise Bangladesh’. We still have an ambassador for Pakistan in Australia and, as far as his writ runs, he is the ambassador for Pakistan and Bangladesh. But the Government has said: ‘No, there will be a separate Bangladesh’. It is time our Government gave up all of its meanderings and twistings. When one recognises a government one docs not set out the geographical boundaries upon which one is recognising that government. When one recognises China one does not say in the instrument of recognition that it includes Taiwan. One simply says that one recognises China. What one is recognising apparently depends upon the government concerned. There is no reason why we do not recognise Taiwan, other than that we are subservient to Peking. Is it any wonder that in South East Asia diplomats are describing the Australian Government as the running dog of Chairman Mao?
The Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said: ‘We will still trade with Taiwan. We do not want to lose its money. But we will not have a trade mission there and we will not allow our trade representatives to go there. We could not do that because we have recognised ‘Peking’. The Japanese had no difficulty. All they did was to declare that their diplomatic mission in Taipei was an international trade commission. The same organisation is still functioning there in the same way. Canada has trade representatives and trade missions in Taipei. Those countries have not laid down at the feet of Chou En-lai - and said: ‘Do with us what you want’. Those countries have stood on their own feet and said: ‘We will recognise you but we are not going to be completely subservient and slavish to you. Why does the Australian Government not stand up for itself? Why does it say in the case of trade missions that they cannot be there? Why does it say that a Taiwanese basketball team will not be allowed into Australia? One will not be allowed in because Chou En-lai might not like it being allowed in. We cannot bring an athlete to Australia from Taiwan because Chou En-lai might not like the idea of him being brought here. It appears to me that every now and again in relation to everything that happens in connection with the East our Government rings up Chou En-lai and says: Please can we . . .?’
Our recognition, of course, took place in circumstances that were a grave embarrassment to the countries of South East Asia with which we are friendly. If one were to speak to diplomats from Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia one would find that they were gravely embarrassed by the rush of the Australian Government to recognise Peking. We have been pretending that we want to be close friends with those countries. We have said to them: ‘We want to associate with you and work with you as a friend and neighbour’, but we did not consult them before we recognised Peking. By rushing in hastily and not consulting with the friendly countries of South East Asia we placed them in a position of the utmost embarrassment.
To give an example of what they are afraid of, I will take Indonesia, which still has one of the largest communist parties underground in the East. Indonesia has to reflect upon the fact that if it recognises Peking China it could find that that country will bring to Indonesia a couple of hundred alleged diplomats who would really be organisers of a communist revolution in Indonesia. The Indonesians have to be very careful. There is almost a 50/50 Chinese/ Malayan community in Malaysia. It is pretty awkward for that country. I spoke to one of the diplomats of another country in South East Asia the other night and he said to me: ‘This is a very large problem for us. One of our Government representatives went to Peking and discussed the possibility of our recognising Peking. He said to Chou En-lai: “We would have to ask that you do not interfere in the affairs of our country”. Chou En-lai said willingly: “We will not interfere in the affairs of your country”. This government representative of a South East Asian nation said: “That is good. That means that you will cut off aid to the National Liberation Front”. Chou En-lai said: “Oh, no. A national liberation front is not interference”.’ These countries have a lot of problems, and they have not been helped by the manner in which we rushed in headlong to recognise China when they at least had the right to expect us to consult them and talk it over.
We have been told that, after all, our Government had to do it because Nixon had gone to Peking and that once Nixon went there we had to recognise China. This is a government which says: ‘We will never tune in with LBJ’. What did it do as soon as Nixon went to Peking? It tuned in with Nixon. It said: Nixon has gone there, so we have to recognise China’. But Nixon has not recognised Peking. Then the Government said: ‘We cannot recoghnise Taiwan. Everyone is dropping it’. Is the Government aware that since Nixon went to Peking his relations with Taiwan have become stronger? For years the United States Government would not give uranium to Taiwan. It has now decided to give uranium to Taiwan. For years the United States Government would not train submarine crews for Taiwan. Now it has agreed to train submarine crews. It has promised Taiwan considerable military assistance, and it is also helping Taiwan’s development by providing loans. Our Government says: ‘What we did, we did because Nixon went to Peking and we could not do anything else but break off relations with Taiwan’. Nixon has been to Peking. His relations with Taiwan are stronger now. Where does that argument get the present Government?
I appeal to the Prime Minister to give up the Foreign Ministery, in the interests of Australia. We have a new government. Most of its members, if not all, are completely inexperienced. They have a very difficult task. Even in old, established governments there are often stresses and strains between different Ministers and departments. In those circumstances it is vital that the Prime Minister should be at home, freely available for consultation and freely available to exert discipline in his Ministry when it is necessary. In the first 12 months at least he should be on tap in this country to keep his Government on the rails. Since the election he has been on the move. He loves the guards of honour. He is trailing around the country with an entourage behind him as big as the tail of Halley’s Comet. I can understand Mr Whitlam, in his exuberance at being Prime Minister, wanting to parade before the guards of honour, to attend the State dinners, to appear before the national Press clubs and so on. It is very heady wine. But he has had a go. I think that he should now stay in the country for a week or two and do a job of work for Australia.
I believe that one of his crucial mistakes when he became Prime Minister was to take the Foreign Ministry. It is too big a job for a man to share with the Prime Ministership. It is an 18-hours a day job, according to a previous Foreign Minister. I know that Mr Whitlam loves it and loves to get away. He should make up his mind that, in the interests of his Ministry, in the interests of Australia and in the interests of the Labor Party, he will stay at home and be available. It would be good for the Labor Party if he did that. He should try to do something about inflation, which is getting worse and worse. When the people of Australia are called upon to vote they will not remember that he attended a state dinner with Mrs Gandhi or that he saw President Nixon and had a guard of honour or that Mr Trudeau took him to a special government banquet somewhere out in the snow. When the time to vote comes the people of Australia will remember what he did about inflation, what he did to stop his Ministers attacking one another and attacking the leaders of foreign countries and what he did to keep his Ministers together as a disciplined force doing what is necessary to be a successful government.
I see a great resemblance between Mr Whitlam and Harold Wilson of Great Britain. Both are men of attractive appearance. Both speak fluently. Both do well on television. Both are masters of the biting and the cutting answer. Both have that little trace of arrogance. When Mr Wilson went on television, as he did on many nights, and put over these cutting quips and these spurts of humour, everybody laughed at him and said: ‘By jove, he is funny. He is cute’. But when the election came they voted for the stolid, serious man who never laughed but who. in their opinion, would get down to the job of being Prime Minister in a serious way. There will be an election one day. Some people in the Labor Party are honest enough to say that their stocks have fallen a bit, but they say: Whitlam has made such a good impression that he will carry the rest through’. All I can say to them is that people in Britain said that about Harold Wilson. They said: ‘He is such a tremendous figure, so attractive on television. He makes everybody laugh’. They said that about him, but Wilson was a one-termer.
When it came to the election after he attained power, with all his posturing, all his fun, all his sneers and all his quips, they preferred the man whom they thought would do a serious job of work.
– I join with other speakers tonight in deploring the fact that the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech is taking so long to complete. I certainly have no intention of taking up a great deal of time tonight because I hope that it will be completed before we rise. I shall speak tonight on a matter which concerns me. I know that it concerns a lot of people in Australia, some for different reasons. I refer to the announcement by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy) of an export ban on kangaroo products. I know that since 1 April, when this ban came into operation, a great deal has been said and a great deal of information has been put forward. But the thing which we have to remember is that a lot of false propaganda has been put out by people who are unaware of the facts. I want to put the record straight on certain aspects. I can speak for what I might call the arid pastoral areas of Queensland, which is the big problem area of that State. I have little doubt that the problem which exists in Queensland applies also in particular areas of other States.
If one listens to the propaganda which has been poured out, by well meaning people, I would say - the conservationsists and their supporters - one would imagine that the western areas of Queensland were once a great bushland teeming with kangaroos, and that greedy graziers destroyed everything when they embarked upon a killing process to get rid of the kangaroos so that they could run their sheep and cattle at a profit. The fact is that prior to the entry of graziers and settlers into that area there were no kangaroos out there.
If honourable senators want confirmation of this they only have to read the history of our early explorers, such as Bourke, Wills, Landsborough and Mitchell. These people went out into this country. Bourke and Wills died. Most of the explorers suffered from starvation and thirst. We read of their eating snakes, lizards, galahs and so on. We have never heard of their eating kangaroos. Anyone who has lived in that country and understands it will know the reason. Kangaroos, like other animals - human being for that matter - require water. There is no natural water in that country except for certain waterholes on the main river system. I refer to the Diamantina River, the Barcoo and Cooper’s Creek. Gathered at these waterholes in those days were the natural enemies of the kangaroo - the Aboriginal tribes and the Australian dingoes. Any kangaroo that may have ventured into that area as a result of a good season was soon killed by the dingoes or the Aboriginal tribes certainly rejoiced in the fact that they had kangaroos to live on. If one reads the corroborees of the Aboriginal tribes of those areas it will be noted that a great feast was held when a kangaroo was killed. Kangaroos have not been a problem in that country from the time that it was settled in the l-860s or the 1870s until after the Second World War. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that shortly after the war there was a boom in the price of wool and that particularly affected the wool industry. There was also a measure brought into this Parliament by the late Ben Chifley and his Government making expenditure on water conservation earth tanks a full deduction for income tax purposes. It is interesting to note that after 25 years it is a Labor Government that threw out that deduction in the recent Budget.
It is also a fact that earth moving equipment was being developed during the war. In the early days earth tanks were put down by horse teams. About 100 horses would be involved and it would take about 9 months. One can imagine 100 horses eating their heads off on a property. The tanks cost about 2/6d a yard to build. In those days the price of wool was about lOd or 12d a lb. In 1951 when wool was 200d a lb earth moving equipment was able to put the same size tank down in under a week for l/9d a yard. Naturally, water tanks were placed all over the country. Instead of waterholes being 100 miles or 200 miles apart they were 3 miles or 4 miles apart.
Even then, kangaroos were not a real problem in the area until in the 1950s when good seasons occurred. The graziers, because they wanted to protect their sheep against dingoes, built a sanctuary not only for their sheep but also for the kangaroos. A 3,600 mile dingo barrier fence was constructed around the sheep country of Queensland, from the border of South Australia right up to Cloncurry in the east and then down to the New South Wales border east of Goondiwindi. It was then that the kangaroos started to increase in numbers. They have been breeding ever since and now they are teeming millions. It is all very well to listen to people telling us that they are conservationists. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy) annoyed me and made every grazier, I think, in Western Queensland hopping mad wilh a statement he made on 7 June 1973. In reply to a question by Senator Durack he said:
The suggestions that there has been proper control and proper conservation have been proved to be a lot of nonsense. It is time that Australians woke up to the fact that all around the world there is abhorrence at what has been happening in regard to the virtually uncontrolled slaughter of kangaroos.
I say right now that the only conservationist of the kangaroos in Australia has been the grazier in arid areas of this country and not the people in the cities who talk about it. The people in the cities have not saved one kangaroo with all their talk. I have a property in the Longreach area. Not once in the past 25 years have I or my immediate neighbours allowed a professional shooter on the place. But once these kangaroos reach pest proportions they get into the scrub country in the bigger areas and something has to be done to control them.
What I am concerned about now is that we suffered from 10 or 12 years of drought in that area. The number of kangaroos was depleted. But we have had 2 good seasons and the numbers are building up again very rapidly. The problem has been mainly confined to the sheep areas. There has not been a problem in the cattle areas because dingoes are still prevalent there. The cattle people have not bothered over the years, or perhaps felt that it was economically impossible, to get rid of the dingoes. Consequently dingoes have been allowed to breed and have been able to control not only kangaroos but also wild pigs. Now, with the introduction of the poison named ‘1080’ we have all virtually got rid of the dingo population from the vast peninsular cattle areas, the Gulf areas and the far western areas of Queensland and we see a rapid increase in the numbers of kangaroos.
I drove around the Gulf country recently. A few years back one could drive through it at night and never see a kangaroo. If one drives through that place today one has to travel at 20 or 30 miles an hour because the kangaroos are there in pest proportions. I would like the Minister for Primary Industry to take particular note of what I say and to talk to these people, the graziers of the area, the real conservationists of the kangaroos in Queensland, and see if some sort of organised program can be undertaken. I, like many other people and most graziers in particular, am an animal lover. Graziers spend a lifetime looking after animals through drought and everything else. We are not just disinterested in the kangaroos. Graziers are the people who are prepared to do the right thing. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent by graziers in building up their assets for the production of wool and meat which assist in obtaining the necessary overseas income for this nation. All those assets could be destroyed by animals that are not economic. Dr Cairns has suggested that we should import meat into this country. He might have a look at the usage of kangaroo meat to bring meat prices down. It would be better than importing cheaper meat from somewhere else. I believe that when a Minister makes statements and listens to people who have no idea whatsoever of the conditions he should at least remember that the country people are dealing with a problem concerning teeming millions of kangaroos in an area where they did not exist before.
Kangaroos would be a real problem in the cattle country. Make no mistake about that. In these vast areas in the Gulf country and in the peninsula area, most of which is uninhabited, it will not be easy to eradicate kangaroos. If kangaroos get a hold in those areas there is no way in the world that the graziers will be able to control them. We have heard from experts that kangaroos do not eat the same grasses or herbages as do sheep or cattle. Naturally horses do not eat the same pastures as cattle or sheep - that is if they have a choice. Half the time these arid areas are suffering from drought and there is a limited amount of pasture available to the animals that may be in the area. It is difficult trying to keep two or three thousand sheep alive, knowing it will not rain for 6 months, when the particular pastures are invaded by 400 to 600 kangaroos. That means that instead of lasting 6 months the pasture will only last 2 months and then not only the kangaroos will die from starvation, so will the sheep. This is a problem that people have to appreciate. I told the Minister earlier that I was going to bring this subject up tonight. He is not here but I know that he is a busy man. I hope that Senator Wriedt, the Minister for Primary Industry, will be able to pass the message on to him.
– I wish to take the opportunity given to us by the Government to return to the subject which was raised yesterday afternoon and last evening, the question of education in Australia. I and a number of people who contacted me today have been concerned about statements that appeared in the Press. We saw today in a number of Australian newspapers a story which reads like this:
The Senate last night rebuffed the Federal Government by carrying an urgency motion against the Karmel committee recommendations for grants to schools.
That appeared to many people - in fact it would appear to anybody who had not heard the debate - to mean that the Senate carried a motion relating to grants to all schools in Australia. I remind you, Mr Deputy President, that far from doing that the Senate last night carried a motion, by 29 votes to 23, which related to a very specific area of the Karmel Committee report. I also remind the Senate that in speaking to the motion which 1 moved I referred to the fact that we did not oppose - I emphasise the word ‘not’ - in any way at all but rather applauded the steps which had been taken to make further funds available for education in Australia. The Liberal Party - I am sure I speak for the Country Party as well - applauds the granting of further funds to education. We believe that there are areas where it is necessary to take steps to overcome disadvantages and to bring up the standards available to the children of Australia. What we were talking about was the Government’s denial of a basic principle- its denial of the rights of people to know the facts relating to the steps taken by it. This newspaper states that the motion carried last night read as follows:
The Government’s denial that every child had a right to have part of its educational needs paid for by Government funds.
I willnot quote from the actual motion but it was in these terms: We believe that every child in Australia has a right to government expenditure on its behalf towards its education. This newspaper states that another part of the motion was the Government’s ‘failure to tell schools how their categories had been calculated.’ That was one way of saying that what we objected to and what so many schools in Australia objected to was the Government’s failure to disclose facts and information. We asked what the Government was trying to hide. We wanted to know why it would not disclose information. We pointed out that in relation to the schools which received grants under the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act there was a proposition that a number of them should be categorised into categories from A through to H; that some schools should receive nothing while others should receive a greater amount than they would have under the scheme which the previous Government put forward last year.
The schools placed in those categories receiving less” would like to know the facts and the factors taken into account in arriving at the famous or infamous index which has been applied to those schools so that they can be categorised. The index of recurrent resource use, as it is called in the Karmel Committee’s report, basically is an index calculated on the basis of expenditure by schools on teachers, administrative staff, teaching aids and other aspects of the teaching function. Nothing was taken into account in relation to expenditure on such things as buildings already constructed but upon which there are loans; nothing was taken into account as to payments on overdrafts which may have been obtained for operating expenses; nothing was taken into account as to what assets each school may have or as to its general debt situation. Instead this rather incredible term recurrent resource use’ was used. That is a nonsensical term and it resulted in a nonsensical categorisation.
What we wanted to know and what I believe the schools and the parents of the children of Australia are entitled to know is: What were the facts, what were the factors and what was the final index figure? Unless that information is made known there is not a school in Australia that can know whether it has been fairly treated on this absurd basis or whether it has been unfairly treated, equally on this absurd basis. At least they are entitled to know the basis upon which they have been discriminated against. But no, apparently the Government is not prepared to release such information. I suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that it must be hiding something. Why is the Government so secretive about this? Why is it that the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) wrote a secret letter dated 13 April to the Karmel Committee changing the terms of reference? Why is it that he was not prepared to disclose it to the public at the time that he made the alteration to the terms of reference? Why is it that he is not prepared now to disclose to the public, to the schools, to the parents and to the children the basis upon which they have been discriminated against?
The next term used in the Press was:
Its failure, through the committee, to state the criteria used to alter categories of some small nongovernment schools.
Basically that is a fair statement of what we were complaining about. The final term was:
Its failure to keep the promises made by Mr Whitlam and Mr Beazley that Federal grants to nongovernment schools would be maintained at a basic level of at least that applying in 1972.
Again I think that that is a fair statement of what we were concerned about. Dealing briefly with those matters, I reiterate that the Karmel Committee, although its report said that it would not take into account school size, decided for some reason which it does not explain and the Minister has not /explained - the Minister still will not explain - to change that and to give some preferential treatment to some small schools while at the same time excluding some schools from that preferential treatment. This apparently was in the name of equity, justice and equality of opportunity. What absolute rubbish! No one should have to be subjected to the sort of nonsense which is coming from this Government and this Minister for Education who, if he was a man of principle, would have resigned long since. What absolute rubbish it is for people to be told that it is fair and just that some schools should be given preferential treatment - treatment which others do not receive - on some basis which the Government is not prepared fully to disclose. Last night the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), who in this place represents the Minister for Education, gave us a little information, but precious little. Representatives of many schools in Australia have sent me copies of letters they have written to Mr Beazley, such as the copy of a letter dated 20 August which I received today. This is about a relatively small Jewish college in Melbourne. The representative wrote thus to the Minister for Education:
I write formally to object to the classification of our college in category A as recommended in the Karmel Committee report to the Education Committee of the Australian Government. The method of determination is unfair and completely unrealistic. The asasessment of needs cannot be made without inspection of facilities and examination of finances.
The writer refers to the fact that this college is able to demonstrate that it has never been in the wealthy category. The letter goes on:
Our teacher-pupil position is aggravated by our lack of adequate facilities, attested to by our recent protracted litigation with the Caulfield Council. They insisted that we were unable to operate due to our lack of adequate facilities’ (their words, not ours). This necessitates reduction of the size of classes to fi i accommodation available.
That college, according to this government, is a category A wealthy school. The Government speaks of use of resources. What are resources? This Government does not know what resources are because it does not know what education is. It does not know the first thing about education. Let me turn to one committee which has at least studied the subject, even though I do not agree with everything it says. Let me quote from the reports of the Cook Committee of South Australia which was set up by a Labor Government in that State and which has done some things which are perhaps more commendable than some of the recommendations of the Karmel Committee and the actions of this Labor Government in Canberra. In its first report relating to the distribution of the additional S2S0.000 per annum to those independent schools which have children attending primary schools, the Committee said:
The Committee emphasises that all schools were obviously in need of financial assistance. . .
That is just one quotation from the first report. Now let me quote from the second report of this Committee in South Australia:
The Committee wishes to express its deep concern for all schools and the increasing need for adequate across the board per capita grants to meet recurring costs. We wish to say, with all respect, that it is the opinion of this Committee that the present State and Federal per capita grants are not adequate and we would urge the governments to reconsider this matter. At the same time this Committee would reaffirm its belief that the needs of some schools are greater than others and that they need a larger grant than others.
But, I emphasise, nowhere suggesting that there are not real needs in every school. Let us look at the third report of the Committee in relation to primary schools where it states:
Although we have not yet worked out a ‘formula’ which we regard as satisfactory, we think that our present assessment has been reasonably just.
The Committee goes on to explain its method of assessment - a far wider and more comprehensive method of assessment than this unjust, absurd method which has been adopted by the Karmel Committee in the haste imposed upon it by the Labor Government here in Canberra. This is as a result of some years of experience by the Cook Committee in South Australia. It has tried to develop a fair system, a system about which it still has reservations but by which it believes it is getting closer to doing justice, and which is far more comprehensive and which takes in a far wider cross section of .matters than the Karmel Committee took into account in its absurd, so-called current resources uses. Finally, I refer to the report of the Cook Committee which came out almost contemporaneously with the Karmel Committee report. This is the report dated June 1973 which relates to secondary schools in South Australia. It states:
In addition to the problem of recurring expenditure, almost all independent schools are incurring huge capital debts in order to provide good quality education. While the Committee recognises that capital assets such as good grounds and buildings provide an enriching environment for education, it is obvious that it is becoming increasingly difficult even for the most affluent schools to service such debts.
The Committee once again wishes to stress its conviction that all independent schools are finding it more and more difficult to survive in the face of ever increasing inflationary trends. The Committee also recognises that while the needs of schools vary to a great degree, all these schools do have needs, and supports the policy of allocating additional grants to all schools according to ‘need’.
The report goes on to say:
We are convinced that the withdrawal of grants according to need would inevitably mean substantial increases in fees and that this would mean a decline in the number of students in these schools. The ultimate result of this trend would be the inevitable closure of at least the smaller schools.
Notwithstanding the availability of that informed opinion, this Government - T include this Minister for Education, Mr Beazley, who is prepared to get up in the House of Representatives and sanctimoniously say what he said on 30 May, which I shall quote in a moment - is prepared to take action which will mean inevitably in the opinion of the Cook Committee in South Australia the closure of a number of smaller schools. Can it be said that it is not the intentional action of the Labor Government to close a number of independent schools? Let us consider what Mr Beazley said:
My informal opinion was opposite to what the Committee has recommended. My view was that every school in the country, including Geelong Grammar School, should receive a basic grant from the Commonwealth and that the Commonwealth should have an identity with the education of every child. If it has recommended, in good conscience, something that is different from that, it is its decisive and not my directive.
In other words, having directed the Committee by a secret letter, he is prepared sanctimoniously to try to escape responsibility for his own actions. There can be no doubt that the recommendations of the Karmel Committee are the direct result of Government directives given directly and indirectly.
– That is an indictment of the members of the Committee.
– They themselves stated that they took into account Government policy in making the recommendations which they made. I do not intend to have a person like Senator McAuliffe who displayed his ignorance of the subject as he did last night, interrupt the speech which I wish to make on this subject tonight. We had to pay enough of a penalty last night by listening to the honourable senator. Let me continue. Mr Beazley who was prepared to stomp around the countryside last year following his leader, Mr Whitlam, and promising faithfully left, right and centre, as was quoted repeatedly last night from occasion after occasion, that no independent school in this country would be worse off under a Labor Government, is prepared to say sanctimoniously on 30 May when he introduced the Karmel Committee recommendations that although he still believes that every school and every child should have something, he is bound by the recommendations of the Committee. What sanctimonious rubbish. I would like to refer to the effect that this will have on children. I have quoted from one school. I could quote from dozens of schools from all over Australia whose representatives have written to me about their problems or to send me copies of letters which they have written to Mr Beazley explaining what will happen to them if this Committee’s recommendations and this Government’s decision are carried into effect. They include small schools like those that I mentioned last night and dozens more, schools that have been placed in category A which will receive no aid; schools which have been placed in category B which will receive reduced aid.
– Yet we are spending 12 times as much money.
– The honourable senator who displayed his ignorance last night has interjected. I will respond to this one interjection but not to any more. I will respond to it in this way: The position is that under the scheme which was introduced by the LiberalCountry Party Coalition Government last year there was to be a graduated acrosstheboard per capita grant made available to every child in a non-government school in Australia. Those per capita grants were to be calculated as a percentage of the average cost of educating a child in a government school. This meant that there were automatic increases. As costs increase in government schools they obviously also increase in nongovernment schools. They increased in government schools and so too did the grants increase to children attending non-government schools. In 1974 the grant for a student at a non-government secondary school would have been about $130.
The fact is that the Labor Government has worked a con trick as it has in relation to its Budget. Unfortunately tonight I do not have a chance to talk about the con tricks in the Budget but I will have an opportunity when the Budget is debated. I want now to point out the con trick worked on the public in relation to the Karmel Committee report. Labor supporters have been going around saying how they have advantaged all children, right, left and centre. But they have taken grants away from 19 per cent of children at non-systemic non-government schools. Nineteen per cent of those children have had their aid taken away. Fifty-four per cent of those children will receive next year less than they would have received through per capita grants under the Liberal-Country Party Government plan enacted last year. I find now a strange silence from Senator McAuliffe.
– You astound me.
– ‘Let me just remind the honourable senator that the Karmel Committee surveyed the needs of education in Australia. In surveying the needs of all Australian school children it met on 16 days. We know how long it took God to make the world but I rather think that the Karmel Committee was stretching it if its members thought that in 16 days they could remake on an equitable and just basis the whole distribution of funds and the whole principles and philosophy of education in Australia. They met for 16 days to consider it. Is it any wonder that the demonstrable absurdities and demonstrable rubbish which came out of some sections of the report were evolved.
I want to make a further point, lt was bad enough that that committee should work out a system such as it worked out for categorising schools, but it is worse that the Government acted a fortnight after the report came out and before a majority of the organisations of parents of school children, the people interested in education in Australia, had even been able to receive a copy of the report which carne out in such limited numbers that it was available to members of Parliament, a few committees and about half a dozen schools. Otherwise the report did not become available until the end of July, 6 weeks after the Cabinet had made its decision. Was its decision to implement the Karmel Committee report? No. Its decision was to implement all except 2 parts of it, one of which is deferred; that is chapter 13 of the report. The other part which the Government did not accept is the strong recommendation of the committee that aid should be phased out to category A schools, rather than having it done immediately.
The Government chose - I suggest vindictively - to cut out aid immediately to category A schools. It has cut out a number of little schools like the Jewish school which wrote to the Minister the letter I read. It cut out aid to little schools such as the ones I referred to last night that cannot afford to be toyed with at the whim of some socialist who decides that he wants vindictively to take it out because of some idea that wealthy schools should be discriminated against without ever thinking that at whatever school it may be there are children who may come from a variety of economic backgrounds. So .many parents have written to me in the past few weeks saying that both parents have been working, gaining a relatively low income, but they have been prepared to work to put their child through a school at which an education of the type they believe in is available. Apparently these people are regarded by the Labor Government as those to be discriminated against vindictively. The Labor Government thinks it can get away with it but I suggest that it will find out that it cannot.
I want to refer now to another matter of importance to which I did not have time to refer last night. How did the Karmel Committee arrive at the figure of $511 per annum for secondary pupils and $293 per annum for primary pupils for the national average running cost per pupil in government schools? There has been no disclosure of what was included in that total cost. Was the administration cost included? Was superannuation included? Was long service leave included? Many people in Australia are asking just those questions. The figures I have cited are relevant to the categorisation of schools. They are ingredients in the categorisation. How did the Committee arrive at the national average? It is not stated. Was it a combination of the averages for 6 States or was it done on the national basis of totalling the whole lot and then dividing nationally? If it was the former it is statistically unreal, as any statistician would say.
How arrogant can a government become? How far will it ride over the wishes and legitimate concerns of people? Throughout Australia there has been a wave of concern about what the Government has done in relation to 158,000 children who will receive less next year than they would have received under our government. That is a fairly sizeable number of children. Concern has been expressed in many letters that have been written to the Minister for Education. That is clear, because I have copies of them. What has the Government done? After the Parliament through this chamber by a clear majority expressed its concern Mr Beazley came out today, with an arrogance almost unknown before in this Parliament, and did not give an answer to the questions raised by the Senate or an answer to the matters raised by parents and schools all over Australia but rather said: ‘What a good boy am I.’ He made a statement in which he patted himself on the back and said: We as a government have done all these things in education.’ If he had any concern, if the Government had any concern for education in Australia as it pretends to have, a concern which goes beyond dollars and cents, he would have said: ‘These are the matters about which the Parliament and the people are concerned and I will answer them.’ But he has kept to the secretive principle which he adopted in relation to the terms of reference and the change which came about by a secret letter.
He has adopted a secretive approach since the Karmel report was made public. He will not make known certain of the factors and facts which were taken into account. He will not make known what the index figures were for the schools. Last night the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) who represents the Minister for Education in the Senate, said something about the small schools. I believe that an extreme degree of concern is justifiable in Australia. It should not have happened, but worse, it is an indication of what may happen in the future if the Minister for Education continues to adopt an arrogant and unfeeling attitude as he has done in the past.
– 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.
– This matter has come to my notice late this evening. I have just spoken to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) about this and I apologise because one should show courtesy and let a Minister know early in the day about a matter he intends to raise on the adjournment debate. It has just come to my notice that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has written a letter to the Premier of South Australia requesting South Australia and the River Murray Commission to slow down the construction of the Dartmouth Dam. To me this is something which must cause grave concern to al] the people of South Australia. For years quite a wrangle went on as to whether we should have the Chowilla Dam which was then proposed. There was much debate in this Senate over the issue whether we should have Chowilla Dam or Dartmouth Dam. For many reasons it was finally decided that a dam would be built at Dartmouth. But more significant was the fact that a State election was held on the issue whether South Australia would have the Chowilla Dam or the proposed and recommended Dartmouth Dam. There was a change of government in South Australia as a result of those discussions. But irrespective of the side on which people stood, whether they supported the Chowilla Dam or the Dartmouth Dam, each and every one in South Australia supported the need for greater conservation of water to supply our rather dry
State. Because of the controversy and the politics which came into the issue we saw the construction of Dartmouth Dam delayed for quite a long time. In fact, one in fairness could say that probably 2 years were lost in the construction of a dam to supply much needed water to South Australia.
South Australia is not one of the fortunate States with ample catchment areas, so there was a need for us to obtain further supplies of water from further up the River Murray in order to increase the amount to which we were entitled. But now we see a situation, with a change of government in Canberra, where in the Budget this week the Government proclaimed that it was going to do so many things in the fields of social welfare and education and in so many other areas. Now we find one of the many issues beneath the surface starting to reveal itself, and now cloth is going to be cut - and this is not going to be to the betterment of the country as a whole.
Perhaps one could be accused of being parochial in bringing this issue up tonight but it is a matter of great importance to the people of South Australia. In our State we were very conscious of the fact that we had a Labor Premier who, all last year, kept saying how different things would be in our State when there was a Government in Canberra the same colour as the government in South Australia. He said: ‘It will be prepared to give us the assistance and the finance which we need for our State. It will be wonderful if we have Mr Whitlam and his Government in power because it will be so different in future. We will not be coming home with the great disappointments we are so used to because of the attitudes of a Liberal Prime Minister and Government in Canberra.’ At the last Premiers Conference - if we could refer to it as such - we saw our Premier come back extremely disappointed. In fact he was critical of the fact that he did not receive all the assistance which he would have liked. Granted he showed loyalty - and I am not saying that he did it disrespectfully - but he came home a disappointed man.
We are now seeing the attitude of the Government in relation to the application of section 96. From now on the States are going to be told how their finances will be spent. This in itself is bad but then we go further into the Budget - I will not go into the area of brandy - and we find another disappointment, when our Premier has come out and been critical on this issue of the Dartmouth Dam. In justification of his own State and the needs of his State and having in mind the loyalties and responsibility of Government the Premier has been critical of the Whitlam Government in Canberra over this very important issue. I was amazed to learn that a Prime Minister could do such a thing as propose to the River Murray Commission and directly by letter to the Premier of South Australia that the construction of this very necessary dam for South Australia be curtailed or slowed down. If it were something which was not of great need and if there were an urgency on the part of the Federal Government that spending in the public sector should be curtailed that would be an entirely different situation. But here we have another example of double standards. The Government has proudly boasted about our Budget and what it is going to do in the fields of national development. Yet in this area of great need for South Australia the suggestion has been made by the Prime Minister to the Premier of South Australia, as I understand it, that construction of this necessary dam be slowed down. One cannot be other than critical of the Federal Government and express concern for the people of South Australia.
– I am deeply disturbed at the suggestion that the decision to proceed with the Dartmouth Dam should be deferred pending a full economic evaluation. This is just the last straw.
– Does the honourable senator have any evidence?
– Yes, certainly.
– I ask the honourable senator to give it to us.
– O.K. If this is not authenticated there is certainly a very great rumour about this matter. If it is true then there is an attack on South Australia of a nature which I have not experienced in my years here.
– The honourable senator did not worry about -
– The honourable senator can speak afterwards. South Australia is fundamentally dependent for its water supply on one major waterway and that is the River Murray. In every instance we have conserved water to the utmost capacity in all other available waterways. The future of South
Australia is now at stake if there should be a deferment with these horrible words: ‘Pending a full economic evaluation.’
– From what is the honourable senator quoting? Would he mind revealing his source of information?
– I gave it to the honourable senator a moment ago. It was a Press report.
– Is it from Dr Coombs’ report?
– This goes back to the Coombs’ recommendations, I understand. That is the authority at base. It is further amplified in a Press report in South Australia today but, it goes back to the Coombs’ report. If there is any foundation to this report then this is the worst news that I have heard as long as I have been in this place.
– But is there a report from the Prime Minister to the Premier of South Australia?
– Just a minute. The Coombs’ task force assessment of the Budget expenditure included a reference to the continuation of Dartmouth Dam - ‘Is it necessary?’ Must it go forward?’ Any doubt at all which is expressed in regard to the building of Dartmouth is in my opinion absolutely impossible. We in South Australia sought to have a major water conservation area at Chowilla because in times of drought we are dependent for our entire needs on a certain amount of water coming down the Murray, apart from our reservoirs. We felt that there was so much water going out to sea in times of good rainfall that it ought to be impounded in a major catchment area, and we chose Chowilla as the location for this. When I came to this Parliament in 1967 the first matter to which I made reference in this place was to the utter urgency of the establishment of a major water conservation scheme on the Murray if South Australia was to go ahead. It needed water not only in its agricultural areas and irrigation areas but as far away as Whyalla, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Woomera and the areas down in the south-east of South Australia. The whole State depends for its future well-being on water supply obtained from these conservation projects.
We forwent Chowilla as the location for the scheme because Victoria needed a flow past Mildura, which would have been impossible had water been impounded at Chowilla which is below Mildura. Cusec flow past Mildura was very important to the Victorian Government, and we ran into great difficulty with the attitude of other States as to where a major catchment area should be located. South Australia forwent its request to have Chowilla as the site in order to give Dartmouth No. 1 priority which would assist New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. But the agreement was that Dartmouth be the first catchment followed by a further catchment so that we in South Australia would have water impounded for use in times of drought.
One can make all the preparations in the world for economic development in relation to many aspects of economic life but one cannot base that development on a problematical water supply. There has to be an assurance that through thick and thin water will be there. We conceded that the Dartmouth project should be proceeded with first but the details of Dartmouth had to be agreed to. I said myself at the time: ‘Very well but for heavens sake get going; do not delay any longer because we in South Australia will be in real trouble unless water is impounded somewhere down the line. But if it is the desire of Victoria, New South Wales and the Federal Government to proceed with Dartmouth first, we will defer our great claim in relation to Chowilla until later, but get cracking’. This was agreed to.
– What brought on all this?
– Mr Whitlam’s letter to the South Australian Government.
– Where is the letter?
– This is referred to in the report of Dr Coombes, and from that will flow-
– This is only rumour.
– If there is no basis to the rumour I will be very happy. I would be amazed if Senator Bishop and my other South Australian colleagues in the Labor Party were not up in arms about any proposal for the deferment of construction of the Dartmouth Dam. There is more in this than appears on the surface, and our whole purpose in raising it tonight is to indicate to the Senate the deep concern of South Australians at the suggestion that there be a deferment or postponement in the construction of the Dartmouth Dam. It is because we are so deeply concerned that we rise to speak at this time in the adjournment debate. We realise the great importance of a water supply to the whole of South Australia. I will say no more than that at this stage. But ifthis suggestion be only rumour I will be very happy. If it is factual it is the duty of every South Australian in this place to do everything in his or her power to ensure-
– It is an important matter to South Australia.
– As a matter of fact, it is a national matter. South Australia, which is part of Australia, will be in jeopardy if this suggestion is carried into effect and we are denied our entitlement to the basic commodity of water from which can flow the whole well being or the disruption of the whole State.
Senator Dame NANCY BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (10.45)-I rise because I, too, am extremely concerned about this issue. We have heard Opposition senators cry out: Where is the evidence?’ To begin with the first of the evidence came out in the Coombs task force report which recommended that the Government should delay proceeding with this project pending a full economic evaluation. On that point I would like to say that I was a member of what was the Government Members National Development Committee, and that Committee spent many hours examining an evaluation that was put forward by the experts to the former Department of National Development. Those experts explained to us exactly how it was more beneficial to build the Dartmouth Dam than the Chowilla Dam. They had done extensive salinity tests and they had done extensive tests in all directions to ascertain the feasibility of building the Dartmouth Dam. We were convinced that that was the better project and therefore we dropped the idea ofbuilding the Chowilla Dam in favour of what the Department of National Development recommended to the Government of the day.
The Government senators have been asking also what evidence we have at this moment that has disturbed us. We have as evidence the letter that was read in the House of
Assembly in South Australia today. I refer to the letter from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to the Premier of South Australia. It reads:
As you will know the Government has sought advice from our task force under Dr Coombs of ways in which expenditure on existing projects or programs might be curtailed in order to enable the Government’s due initiatives to proceed more rapidly. One of the recommendations of the task force which has been endorsed by the Government is that if possible the rate of construction of the Dartmouth Dam might be slowed down. We have in mind that water requirements might be affected by the result of the current study to measure the impact of salinity in the River Murray depending on short term projects and as there might also be some scope for the temporary allocation of water from the Blowering storage . . .
That is not the full text of the letter; it goes on. I do not have any more of it but that is enough to disturb us. 1 would like to go on to comment on some of the other points which have arisen out of the Coombs task force report. It is drawing a red herring over South Australia’s need for this extra water. The report says that significant changes have come about since the building of the Dartmouth Dam was recommended, and the significant changes all relate to the difficulties of the irrigation areas in selling their products. Of course, these difficulties have been added to by the recent Budget which has imposed sales tax on fruit juices. But this is not the pertinent point in relation to South Australia. Certainly the irrigation areas have their problems. They need water. We must have enough water in the river at the lower end. It should not be forgotten that we are at the lower end of the river and we take our water after New South Wales and Victoria have taken their shares. We get what is left. As Senator Laucke has said, if there is not enough water in the river the salinity problem mounts up lower down. The whole viability of the State of South Australia is dependent on the development of secondary industry in and around Adelaide. If we cannot get sufficient water to come down the river so that it is clear when it is delivered to industry and to the people who service those industries we cannot develop our State. This nonsense coming from Government senators is ridiculous. To me it proves that other States do not want to see South Australia developed; they want to crush us out of existence.
– We admire South Australia.
Then for goodness sake stop going on about this. We need water. I did not rise to criticise any particular government; all I am saying is: Get this water into South Australia and get it there quickly. The Government should stop throwing in red herrings by referring to changes in the position of people in irrigation areas which it is claimed is aggravated by the operations of the European Economic Community. That is not the point of this argument. That is a red herring thrown in by the Coombs task force which obviously has not studied the problems in South Australia. Perhaps it has not even studied the other problems on which it has made recommendations to the Government but has simply produced a report quickly. It will throw the whole of the economy of Australia into jeopardy in many areas. This disastrous proposal which has come to our knowledge today will play its part in that.
– I do not wish to delay the Senate for very long, but I must join my colleagues in condemning the absolute stupidity of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in writing a letter of the nature referred to by Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield to the South Australian Government, knowing that he could not do anything about the matter in any case without first consulting the other partners to the agreement. The Premier of South Australia unfortunately is sick and was unable to be in the House today. Part of his sickness may have been due to the shock that he received as a result of the stupidity of the inflationary Budget which has been brought down here and about which he has made his comment as is reported in today’s Press. However, the Deputy Premier of South Australia very quickly said that his State would not tolerate any change in the Dartmouth Dam program. We as Senators and responsible people representing the people of South Australia, endorse what the Deputy Premier of that State has said. I may say that I have had conversation with the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, Dr Bruce Eastick, who is completely in agreement that this is a most irresponsible action for the Federal Government to take, recognising the desperate need for South Australia to ensure an adequate water supply for its future viability.
I would remind the Prime Minister through the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas
McClelland) who is at the table, that he is acting in a cavalier fashion in accepting the recommendations of the Coombs task force without consulting with the State governments concerned. I believe that the Coombs task force is a disaster area for Australia. I am certain that recommendations which will be forthcoming from it will be damaging to the future economy of this nation. I have no confidence in Dr Coombs or his task force, if the Budget is any evidence of their credibility. I have no confidence in .this Federal Government which has treated South Australia in a most shabby fashion in relation to this matter.
– 1 join in this debate and, following up what I said last night when speaking on another subject when I referred to a series of broken promises and lack of credibility on the part of the Government, I now call on the Government to clear the air on the section of the Coombs report which says that any decision on the Dartmouth Dam should be deferred pending what it calls an economic valuation. This is the most dastardly piece of behaviour in which the Commonwealth Government has engaged. The letter from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) today is just another act in which he has completely overridden the wellbeing of the State, and, indeed, denied everything that he has promised or has indicated as being the policies which he said his Government might carry out.
Honourable senators will recall the many discussions that have been held in the Senate relating to water for South Australia. As my colleagues, Senator Young, Senator Laucke, Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield and Senator Jessop, have reminded the Senate tonight, South Australia more than any other State in the Commonwealth is depending upon water supplies from the River Murray. This was not South Australia’s choice. South Australia is so placed geographically that the River Murray is its only source of water supply. We have gone through debate after debate in relation to the establisment of the Chowilla Dam and as a result of representations and studies which have been made and researches which have been undertaken, we have agreed to the establishment of the Dartmouth Dam in terms of both quantities and quality of water. The project has been commenced. Indeed, I recall that some of my South Australian colleagues were present when the first sods of the Dartmouth Dam project were turned. Now, shortly after that event has taken place, the Prime Minister has the audacity, the stupidity and the utter un-Australian characteristic of sending some sort of a letter which may indicate that the Dartmouth Dam’ project is not to proceed and South Australia’s water supplies will not be forthcoming.
The Prime Minister of this country in recent months has spoken incessantly about decentralisation. He has talked about an Australian nationalism. He is purported to have been an enthusiast for some kind of philosophy for the development of Australia other than the area of the eastern seaboard. Here he is giving his assent and giving his Own hand to an action which will cut off this very kind of development, decentralisation, nationalism or whatever he likes to call it, of the centre and southern parts of the continent. He surely must know that there are wide rural interests in South Australia which depend on the River Murray for their water supply. He surely must know that the city of Adelaide depends on the water supply pipelined from the River Murray. He surely must know that the decentralised area of Whyalla in the electorate of Grey, with which Senator Jessop has a connection and in which the Prime Minister has more than a passing interest, depends on water from the River Murray. He surely must know that the projects at Woomera have a dependence on the waters of the River Murray? He surely must know that the south eastern areas of South Australia have a dependence on water from the River Murray. If he does not know these facts, let the Senate remind him here and now that the Dartmouth Dam is essential for water supplies from the River Murray for all of the projects that I have mentioned and for so many other undertakings.
Now, there is something called the Coombs task force which casts doubts on the whole Dartmouth Dam project. This action is additional to and in confirmation of the lack of credibility with respect to a series of broken undertakings for which we strongly condemn the Prime Minister. Let him answer our charges. Let the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) stand here and answer what the Deputy Premier of South Australia said in the House of Assembly this afternoon. South Australia needs the Dartmouth Dam. Let the Federal Government clear tonight any doubts about the future of the whole project. Let it give assurance to the electors and the community of South Australia that the Dartmouth Dam project will continue and that no doubt whatsoever about its future will arise.
– May 1 say first that it is most surprising to hear this great agitation for water resources for South Australia from Liberal-
– Why are you surprised? Tell the Senate that.
– I will tell the honourable senator if he will sit tight. There were great debates in this place on the Chowilla Dam and Senator Davidson with other Liberal senators were silent. May I remind him that in those days -
– Tell us about Dartmouth.
– We were talking about Chowilla.
– You do not want to listen to a case, do you?
– We are talking about the Dartmouth Dam.
– I am talking about water resources for South Australia. In those days-
– We want to know about Dartmouth.
– I will get to Dartmouth. Let me tell honourable senators opposite what they did. In those days, the only person in this place on the then Government side who supported that project was Senator Laucke. He supported the stand by the Australian Labor Party with regard to the water which would come from Chowilla. Every other South Australian senator on his side of the House sat tight, said nothing and supported the Government which said: ‘No more Chowilla’. Honourable senators opposite will remember that Mr Fairbairn was then the Minister for National Development. I have here a newspaper report from that time in which he is quoted-
– Have you one from-
– Listen and you will learn something. Let me get to this matter. You do not want to know about it.
– We want to know what is proposed-
– If you keep interrupting, I cannot tell you. Honourable senators opposite will remember that in those days their Government promised that Chowilla would be built, but then they decided to reject the proposition. The only people on the Chowilla committee were Senator Laucke, Tom Playford, myself, Scott and some other people from the State Parliament; we were very concerned about water resources but honourable senators opposite were, very quiet in those days. Tonight they have raised this matter without first asking the responsible Minister whether the statement upon which they have based their remarks is true or untrue. Just one minute before the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate began Senator Young came to me and said: ‘I have just found out about a letter from your Government which says that the Dartmouth scheme is finished’. He was basing his remarks upon some statement which Mr Corcoran made today in the South Australian Parliament. I do not know what was said but I will find out.
– You sure will.
– Would you mind listening, Senator Jessop. I am as much entitled to talk as you are. I would have been happy, if the matter had been raised with me or during the weekend, to obtain all the information I could because I, like honourable senators opposite, am most concerned about lt. I am more concerned because, as I have said, Senator Laucke and I were two of the champions of the cause in this place. We put up a fight against the previous Government for water for South Australia. I know honourable senators opposite do not like being told these things. Obviously it would have been more sensible to have asked the responsible Minister to ascertain whether the statement which has been referred to is accurate. I put it to honourable senators opposite that they are relying for their argument largely upon the Coombs report.
– No we are not; we are relying upon a letter from Mr Whitlam.
– Honourable senators opposite talked about the report by Dr Coombs. His report has to be put in its proper place. If honourable senators were to read the first page of the letter from Mr Whitlam to Dr Coombs they would see that, among other things, he said that Cabinet had decided that action should be set in train to apply a close scrutiny to continuing policies of the previous Government so that room might be found for the present Government’s higher priority programs. Mr Whitlam asked Dr Coombs to conduct that scrutiny and to let him know aboutit. The report also makes a proposition about the Tarcoola railway. It is a wonder honourable senators opposite have not got up tonight and said that the Labor Government has disowned that project.
What is the issue tonight? Rather than give me an opportunity to obtain the facts about this matter from the responsible Minister and advise them next week…
- Mr Whitlam has said that the Government endorses the Task Force’s findings.
– Honourable senators opposite will not let me speak.
-You are ignoring the evidence we have produced.
– Honourable senators opposite have had a chance to speak but they will not give me a chance to reply. There have been, I think, 4 Opposition speakers on this matter. It would have been more realistic and sensible to ask the Government whether a particular statement in a letter from the Prime Minister means that there will be an interruption to the Dartmouth Dam project.
– It says that it is the intention of the Government.
– Would you allow me to talk? If honourable senators were to read the report they would find that only half of the content of it has been -
– That is all that has been necessary. The other half has been leaked out.
– Would you mind shutting up. I was about to say that only half of the report has been implemented to any extent and then only partially. It was an exercise for the Government to consider. The Government has honoured its undertaking to make the report public as soon as the Budget has been brought down. Honourable senators opposite have copies of the report. That is why they are talking about it now. That is a good thing from the Government’s point of view. All I can tell honourable senators opposite is that any proposition that would prevent the Dartmouth Dam from being completed certainly will receive my opposition and that any attempt to stop the completion of the Tarcoola railway will meet my opposition.
– You ought to be careful. There might be a division next week.
– Would you mind listening? I know of no moves which could have the effect of preventing any such construction from continuing.
– What about -
– Would you shut up and give me a chance.
– Order! Ithink ‘shut up’ is an unparliamentary term.
– May I say, Mr President, that the sensible thing to do is to find out the facts. The only conclusion to which I can come from the reference made by Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield - she was the only honourable senator who relied upon a statement made by Mr Corcoran of the South Australian Parliament - is that the question of salinity in the area is of some concern to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and he has written to the Premier about it.
Largely, the argument which has been presented tonight has been the result only of matter extracted from the Coombs report which, I suggest to honourable senators, cannot be taken very seriously. As they know, the Coombs report contains a number of options and the Cabinet had to make up its mind as to which suggestions made by Dr Coombs and the task force should be adopted. All I can undertake to do at present is to say to honourable senators that in the days before we meet next Tuesday I will be able to get the fullest information and will report it to the Senate so that, if necessary, Senator Jessop or any other honourable senator can debate it if they so wish.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What is the cost per mile for the Sydney to London ‘Fare Deal’ fares?
Senator CAVANAGH- The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The cost per mile for the Sydney-London return excursion fare is 3.02c. The cost per mile for the one way excursion fare is 3.62c.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What is the cost per mile of first and economy class fares on the (a) Perth-Sydney; (b) PerthAdelaide; (c) Adelaide-Sydney; (d) Brisbane-Port Moresby; (e) Sydney-Auckland; (f) Sydney-Fiji; (g) Perth-Singapore; (h) Sydney-Hong Kong; (i) SydneyLondon (Kangaroo Route); (j) Sydney-London (via Mexico; (k) Sydney-San Francisco; and (l) SydneyJohannesburg routes?
Senator CAVANAGH - The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s qustion:
For your additional information, the cost per mile of the existing off-peak fares on routes (a), (b) and (c) are 5.26c, 4.75c and 5.64c respectively, whilst that for the special Sydney-Fiji return excursion fare is 4.64c.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for tht Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The following have entered tenancy agreements with the Commissioner for Housing:
and (2) Senator the Hon D. R. Willesee from 31.5.73; honourable T. Uren from 26.6.73; honourable L. H. Barnard from 15.1.73; honourable R. M. Holten from 11.2.70; honourable L. H. E. Bury from 13.12.62.
The flats or houses were allocated on a priority basis in accordance with the policy of both the previous and present Governments that Ministers should have access to accommodation in Canberra.
Rentals in all cases have been determined in accordance with the standard formula which applies to all tenants based on amortisation of 80 per cent of the cost over a period of 53 years.
– On 8 June Senator
Bonner asked the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the following question without notice:
Can the Minister inform the Senate what body is responsible for the disbursement of accrued royalties payable to Aborigines by mining companies in the Northern Territory.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Northern Territory (Administration) Act provides for the establishment of the Aborigines Benefits Trust Fund into which all royalties from mining on Aboriginal reserves are paid. The Minister for the Northern Territory has the statutory responsibility for the management of the Fund but, by agreement, he accepts the recommendations of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in relation to the Fund.
An Advisory Committee, with a majority of Northern Territory Aborigines, was established by the previous Government to advise the Minister on the management of the Fund and it now gives its advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730823_senate_28_s57/>.