28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 regret to inform the Senate that Mrs Cavanagh, wife of the Minister for Works, is seriously ill. She was on the way to recovery but is now quite seriously ill. The Minister for Works will not be here today or perhaps for the rest of the week. I ask that except in relation to matters of exceeding urgency any questions which were to be directed to the Minister for Works be placed on the notice paper.
– I am sure that all honourable senators share the concern expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate in relation to the circumstances in which Senator Cavanagh finds himself.
– My question, which is addressed to the Special Minister of State as the representative in this chamber of the Treasurer, concerns the Government’s decision announced in the Budget to abolish the tax exemption on profits from gold mining. Can the Minister advise whether it is the intention of the Government to destroy the gold mining industry of Kalgoorlie and the livelihood of the work force there? Is it the intention of the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, or the Special Minister of State as the senior Government senator from Western Australia to accept the invitation from the Kalgoorlie Council to be present at a meeting to justify the action the Government has taken?
– The answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question is no. As to the second part of the question I will inquire from the other 2 Ministers whether they intend to be present at the meeting referred to.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. For what purpose has the Attorney-General required the attendance of numerous reporters and typists of the Commonwealth Reporting Service, which is attached to his Department, in order to provide a transcript of the proceedings of the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians additional to the usual Hansard facilities which have been available at each hearing? What is the estimated cost of the attendance of those reporters and typists? Why was a duplication of the Hansard account of the proceedings required to be provided? Additionally, why has the Attorney-General provided copies of the transcript to some Government senators and at least one Pressman and yet denied the transcript to witnesses and Opposition senators? How does the Attorney-General justify such a selective use of public funds?
– A record of the proceedings of the Senate Committee has been kept by officers of the Commonwealth Reporting Service. There is nothing unusual about that. The Government is entitled to have its record in the same way as members of the Press are entitled to be present. If my information is right, I think that some record may have been kept by some other government - at least of some part of the proceedings. I am not sure whether that is right. The Court Reporting Service is providing a record for the Government which can be transmitted to various areas of government which are concerned with the inquiry.
– What is wrong with Hansard?
– From what I heard in the. Senate the other day, apparently the production of Hansard is being delayed considerably. That is unfortunate but it is not a matter for which I am responsible. It is to be expected that the Government - and I in particular - would want to know fairly speedily and fairly accurately what was occurring at the Committee and that this should be transmitted to the other agencies of government that are entitled to know. As to the honourable senator’s comments about the transcript, there have been no requests that I know of from other members of the Committee for a transcript which has been kept. Indeed, I understand that one of them said that the only official transcript was that which was being kept by the Committee itself.
– Is the
Minister for Primary Industry aware of the acute shortage of the weedicide 2-4D Ester which is virtually unavailable in Western Australia at a time when many wheat crops are in urgent need of spraying? Is he aware that wheat growers are concerned that if spraying cannot be undertaken yields will be down and samples adversely affected? Having regard to the urgency of the immediate application of weedicide and the fact that delayed application could be useless, if not harmful, will the Minister take immediate action to alleviate the shortage?
- Senator Drake-Brockman was good enough to draw my attention to this matter last week. I have been able to ascertain some facts which I hope will be of help to him. It is true that there is a shortage of this weedicide in Western Australia brought about by a number of factors. Firstly, there is the quite dramatic upturn in demand by the farming community for this particular product as distinct from the quite low demand for it over the last couple of seasons. Also, there has been the equally important factor that the chemical works in Melbourne of Monsanto Australia Ltd last year discontinued the production of this product due, I understand, to its being an unprofitable operation. I believe that every effort is being made to increase production. There has been a shortage of an essential ingredient which is imported from Japan. A shipment is due this week. The main manufacturer in Western Australia at Kwinana, a firm called Chemical Industries (Kwinana) Pty Ltd I think, is currently working around the clock to alleviate the shortage. 1 can assure the honourable senator that every step is being taken to meet the demand. I hope that within 2 or 3 weeks the problem will be overcome.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to a report from the Prime Minister to the effect that the former Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, has broken the law and Ministerial conventions in retaining documents that he acquired as a Minister? In view of the growing prevalence of leaking from security documents and the possession of confidential documents, euphemistically called ‘mementoes’, what measures are proposed to bring equality before the law for all citizens in the country, including senators, found to be in illegal possession of confidential documents?
– I saw the report of the Prime Minister. I have had a certain communication from Senator Greenwood touching on this matter and have sent some reply to him in respect of one document. At the moment the matter is being referred to the officers of my Department for inquiry and report.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the proposed Googong Dam near Canberra be constructed for any other reason than beautification? Is it a fact that the first stage of the Googong Dam will cost approximately S24m? In view of the Cabinet decision to go ahead with this dam and the Government’s proposal to construct it, can the Minister say that it is justified in view of the Government’s proposal to defer the construction of Dartmouth Dam to which the Federal Government’s annual contribution will be minimal compared with the cost of the Googong Dam? Will the Government reconsider its decision, defer the construction of the Googong ‘Dam and allocate the finance saved to assist in the speeding up of the construction of Dartmouth Dam which is so vital to the welfare and the needs of South Australia?
– There are 2 aspects to this question. One is the justification for the Googong Dam to serve the needs of Canberra. My understanding is that it is certainly necessary; it is quite justified and it is tied up with the future water needs of this seat of government. It is also closely connected1 with the avoidance of pollution of the waters in this seat of government. There can be no question whatever about the necessity to proceed with the Googong Dam. I think it would be better to leave that part of the question which dealt with the construction of Dartmouth Dam to one of the experts from South Australia, Senator Bishop, who is intimately acquainted with that problem.
– Does the Minister for the Media recall receiving representations from Councillor Tibbies of Casterton concerning the quality of television reception in the south-west area of Victoria? Does the Minister recall saying on that occasion that he would ask the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to inquire into reception conditions in this area? Can he now inform the Senate of the inquiries which have been made and what these inquiries have revealed?
– I certainly recall the representations which I received from the people of Casterton led by Councillor Tibbies, and I know only too well the interest which my colleague Senator Poyser has always shown in the problems of this area. Engineering officers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board have been looking into this problem now for some time. I understand that they are still in the course of an engineering study of television reception problems for the whole of the south-west portion of Victoria. The Board has already reported to me that its investigations to date suggest that the standard of television reception in the Portland district should be improved, and it is now proceeding to a study of possible means of improving services in this area. These studies will take in an area from, I understand, the Otways through Port Campbell and Warnambool to Portland and will include parts of Hamilton, Cammeray and Casterton. I understand that in this whole area there are many problems so far as television is concerned and large pockets of population are involved. The studying of the problem and the finding of a solution are complex matters, but I can assure the honourable senator that the Board is working very effectively on them and I hope to be able to make an announcement in the near future.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate offer any explanation as to the contention of the Prime Minister in a recent statement to the effect that French nuclear explosions in the Pacific were a monstrous proposition; also that China was in danger of attack, and France was not? Were these contentions used merely to cover up the strangely ambiguous attitude by which a threat was made to sever diplomatic relations with France but China, which persists in exploding nuclear bombs in proximity to the world’s greatest centre of population, is treated by the Government with honour, its emissaries are received in this country and trade agreements are entered into with them?
Can the Minister explain such a strangely contradictory attitude as that taken by this Government?
– The honourable senator has entered into an argument which purports to summarise what has been said by the Prime Minister. He described the statements as contradictory and added various other adjectives, and he then asked me to explain a contradictory policy. The explanation is simple. The Government’s attitude has been consistent in opposition to atmospheric nuclear testing by any country. A careful reading of the statements made by the Prime Minister and by other members of the Government, even of statements made before we became the Government, will show that the Government’s attitude has been one of complete consistency. Our attitude is an admirable one and it has been supported by the overwhelming majority of the Australian people.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that overseas mail order houses are actively soliciting business in Australia through advertisements in the local Press and by contacting potential buyers by letter or telephone? Is duty normally payable on the goods offered? If so. is the Minister satisfied that buyers are made aware of this fact by the companies’ representatives?
– I am aware of the practice. The fact is that mostly duty is payable on the goods, and usually it is a very high duty. The goods often are clothing material, suits and so on. The people who purchase these items find when the goods arrive that they are faced with the payment of extremely high duties. I think it ought to be well known that this is so. The salesmen, who often operate from hotels or motels, do not make the customers aware of the obligations they will incur. The Australian people ought to be well aware of the fact that they may incur these quite heavy duties. People often are no better off than if they were to purchase the goods locally.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, follows an answer he gave on Thursday last in reply to a question asked by Senator DrakeBrockman. Did the Minister vote for an amendment moved on 26 October last by Senator Wilkinson, on behalf of the Labor Party, requiring that the Australian Wool Corporation formulate a detailed plan for operation by the Corporation to acquire and market the Australian wool clip, and to report this plan to the Parliament within 6 months of the commencement of the Act? Does the Minister now airily dismiss a considered vote as comment? Has he since changed his mind on the matter, or does he admit to a rather discreditable attempt by the then Opposition to gain political advantage without regard to the well being of the industry?
– I am not aware of where I am supposed to have made this vote. I presume that the honourable senator refers to some vote within the Parliamentary Labor Party. If that is the intent of his question I have no intention of answering it.
– I said vote in the Senate.
– I am not aware of it if I did. The point I made last week - I reiterate it now - is that whatever decisions may have ‘been made then are not my responsibility now. I believe that the report should not be hurried. It will not effect this coming wool clip, as I have stated on numerous occasions. When I receive the report I want it to be a proper report. I do not move one iota from the position that I have taken all along in respect of this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Why was it felt necessary to modify the free school milk scheme which has provided a valuable outlet for the dairy industry?
– As I understand the position, over the past two or three years there has been considerable criticism about the way the scheme operates at the school level. It has created work, and some children do not avail themselves of the free milk either because they cannot or do not want to drink milk. As a result of the criticism the Government’s feeling is that the scheme should be reviewed, and that is what it is doing. The original intention of the scheme was to provide milk at a time it was felt that proteins were necessary for all the Australian school children. However, that position does not now obtain to the same degree and therefore the Government will be looking at the scheme on a needs basis and, in co-operation with the States, will ensure that milk is made available in schools where it is most needed.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Labor Government has warned business houses and manufacturers that they must not take advantage of the change to the metric system of measuring to increase prices? Will the Minister assure the Senate that Government departments and agencies will be prohibited from increasing prices of goods or services purely as a result of alteration to the metric system of measure? Does the ‘Labor Government condemn as totally irresponsible those who attempt to cheat on metric conversion?
– Of course the Government would regard with disapprobation those who attempt to cheat for any reason - whether because of metric conversion or otherwise. I understand that the Prime Minister has said the Government would do whatever it could to prevent any improper advantage being taken of the switch over to the metric system. Of course, as one would know, the Government’s powers may have certain limitations; it may be that those limitations are less in cases such as this than in a normal case. The honourable senator would be aware that mostly the powers of this Parliament are constrained by, say, the corporation powers and a few others. In this instance it may ‘be that under the weights and measures power the Parliament itself would have sufficient power to prevent an improper advantage being taken of the switch over.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Minister able to give the people of Australia an absolute assurance that the 1.35 per cent income levy proposed to be paid towards the health scheme will be sufficient? Can he say whether the 1.3S per cent levy is also intended to provide enough money to meet the administrative costs of the Government department which will be needed to run the scheme?
– I think this is a matter more for my colleague the Minister for Social Security than for the Minister for Health, whom I represent, I know that the Minister for Social Security is now working on detailed plans of a national health scheme for presentation to the Cabinet and eventually to the Parliament. This is in accordance with Labor Party policy as enunciated at the last election, when .the proposed national health scheme was one of the main planks on which the Government was elected. I assure the honourable senator that the details required to present an effective and workable plan in the interests of Australia are being considered.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. By way of preface I refer to the fact that in his statement dated 6 August 1973 the Minister for Education stated that originally 140 non-systemic non-Government schools would be placed in category A. He also stated that the number had been reduced to 105 which was a reduction of 35 schools. In the Senate last Wednesday-
– Order! Senator, ask your question. Do not give information. You know the Standing Orders as well as I do.
– Yes. I ask the Minister whether he is able to elaborate upon the information which he gave to the Senate last Wednesday and which set out 21 of the 35 schools. Is he able to say what happened to the other 14 schools which were originally listed in category A? Why were they taken from category A and into what category or group were they placed?
– The figures which I cited in the Senate last Wednesday were provided to me by officers of the Department of Education on the advice of my colleague the Minister for Education who is in another place. I shall find out all the circumstances involved and give the honourable senator a suitable reply.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the removal of certain taxation provisions for primary producers as outlined in last week’s Budget and ask the Minister: Where does the farmer now stand in relation to the city dweller in regard to taxation?
– It is true that the Budget made provision to delete certain taxation concessions for primary producers which have obtained for some years. I believe that the removal of these concessions is justified. There may be some hardships initially for some people, but the bulk of the benefit of these concessions has been going to the people who can most afford to pay. I took the trouble to check with Treasury as to whether benefits now obtain for urban dwellers in taxation matters which do not apply to rural people. I am assured that this is not the case. To answer the question shortly: It puts the rural man on parity with the urban dweller.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been directed to the statement in this morning’s Press that doctors have the highest suicide rate in the community, namely 1 in 30? Can the Minister say whether this is understood to be caused by overwork? If so, what does the Government propose to do about it? Can the Minister say whether the suicide rate among doctors has accelerated since 2 December last?
– I have not seen the report to which the honourable senator refers. In fact, I am quite surprised that it is claimed that doctors have the highest suicide rate in the community. I would have thought, if we were talking of politics, that the highest suicide rate would be connected with members of the Australian Parliament.
– I direct a question to the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence. Can we have an assurance that fringe aid from the Services will be forthcoming to make the 1974 world gliding championships which are to be held in Australia next year a major success?
– Various representations have been made to the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, about this matter. Of course there have previously been suitable grants to organisations concerned. I can only say that the matter is receiving consideration. As soon as I am able to tell the honourable senator the result I shall let him know.
– Has it been drawn to the attention of the Minister for Repatriation that the National Secretary of the Returned Services League, Mr Keys, told the New South Wales State Congress of the League in Sydney recently that attempts were being made to amalgamate the Repatriation (Department with the Department of Social Security and that repatriation hospitals would be transferred to a national hospitals commission? Am I to understand that the Minister told the Congress the day before Mr Keys spoke that, as far as he was concerned, the Repatriation Department would continue to exist as a separate entity? In view of the Minister’s answer to a question asked of him last Thursday by Senator Gair concerning Labor’s reorganisation of the Services into one Department of Defence, does the Minister still hold the same view as he expressed to the Congress and does he see any threat to repatriation continuing in its present form?
– In relation to the statement I made to the New South Wales Congress, the answer clearly is yes. I stated that I would be opposed to any such amalgamation. It is also on record that the Minister for Defence has made the same statement to a deputation from the Returned Services League national group which met him about defence and repatriation matters. That is my point of view. As far as I am aware, the Government has no intention of carrying out any such amalgamation. I can only give the assurance that the Minister for Defence and 1 would resist any such amalgamation.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Media. Are any measures being taken to ensure that Government financed films produced by Film Australia are viewed by the Australian public?
– I know that the honourable senator is a member of one of the Senate standing committees which recently saw one or two of the films produced by Film Australia. I understand that he and the other members of Parliament who saw the films were highly commendatory in their praise of them. I can tell the honourable senator, as I think I told Senator Poyser one day last week, that recently my Department was able to negotiate the sale of 3 films produced by Film Australia - a 1-hour drama series - to the Channel 0/10 network and that there is the possibility of another 2 being purchased by that network in the near future. The Channel 7 network and the Channel 9 network also are interested in purchasing these films. In addition, the Managing Director of the Greater Union Theatre organisation, Mr Moremon, wrote to me only last week and said that his organisation was tremendously impressed with the quality of the films being produced by Film Australia, that it would be very interested in seeing the films available for purchase from Film Australia and that it also would be prepared to make suggestions as to what type of film could be produced by my Department which would be of a commercially successful nature. I assure the honourable senator that since I assumed my present office, knowing the quality of the work produced by the Firm Australia unit, I have been doing all I possibly can to have its films shown on the commercial television networks of Australia and distributed through the cinematic outlets so that the people of Australia will be able to see really high quality films produced by an excellent film unit.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The Treasurer stated last week that changes to the Banking Act are being examined by the Department of the Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia to regulate finance extending organisations. It was stated that all parties concerned are being consulted. I seek information as to whether the consultations are being conducted with the Treasury departments of the States in view of their legislation in the finance sector, particularly with regard to permanent building societies.
– I will ask the Treasurer to supply that information to Senator Guilfoyle.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Can the Minister give any information about the evacuation of school cadets from exercises in the Wilpena Pound area of South Australia?
– Yes. Over the weekend 474 school cadets and 94 Air Training Corps cadets were exercising in the Wilpena Pound area. By Sunday, 26 August, the area had received a total of 75 points of rain. The decision was taken to abandon phase 2 of the exercise. As a result of the rain a flooded creek cut the road between-
– Order! It is quite manifest to me that the Minister was not asked a question without notice. The Minister is reading off a lot of statistical information, which indicates that he had some prior knowledge of the question.
- Mr President, I had no prior knowledge of the question.
– Well, you are doing very well.
– The matter was ventilated in the newspapers and the concern of the parents of the cadets was illustrated by public announcements on the radio over the weekend. The care of cadets is an important question. I remind you, Mr President, that recently there were serious injuries to cadets in the El Alamein area of South Australia. Because of the importance of this matter I obtained information beforehand in case a question was asked. If you, Mr President, do not wish me to give the information I shall not proceed.
– It was intelligent anticipation. You may proceed.
– I advise the honourable senator that buses were consequently positioned at Hawker by 0930 hours and the cadets were taken across the flooded creek. A helicopter was provided to ensure that rations were available. Presently some school cadets are accommodated in the Warradale area because their parents are away on holidays.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security and it may interest him as Minister for the Media. In view of the Minister’s assurance to the Senate this afternoon that the Minister for Social Security is working on a detailed plan to place before Caucus and Cabinet in respect to a national health scheme, can the Minister state under what authority or precedent the Government is currently spending an amount said to be $250,000 on a national health scheme publicity campaign? Can he inform the Senate the name of the advertising firm which is carrying out this Press, radio and television campaign? Were tenders called to decide which firm would obtain this lucrative contract? Was it the firm that conducted the It’s Time’ campaign for the Australian Labor Party? If so, I believe it’s time is up.
– I cannot remember the exact name of the advertising firm that is doing the work on behalf of the Australian Government in connection with its social security policies, but I assure the honourable senator that it is not the ‘It’s Time’ company which did the commercial advertising for the Australian Labor Party. Arrangements for advertising are matters concerning my own Department, the Department of the Media, and the excellent Australian Government Advertising Service is available to all departments. The practice that is adopted by my Department in obtaining the services of advertising agencies is to ask the advertising agencies to submit .proposals on how they would best, in their opinion, carry out a campaign. The experts in my Department then assess the situation according to their expertise. Preference is given to an Australian agency where it is considered that that agency can compete at least on equal, if not better, terms with the foreign agency. I assure the honourable senator that the campaign that is being organised by my colleague, the Minister for Social Security, seeks to explain what is intended by the Government in the implementation of its social security policy.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State in his capacity as Minister representing the Treasurer and it follows the question asked of him earlier by Senator Withers. Is the Minister aware that many public and private companies are purchasing homes for executives and allowing capital outlay, rates and taxes as charges against general costs to the company; extensively using expense accounts as entertainment charges to the company; allowing executives to charge education of their children at wealthy private schools as a cost to the company; allowing interstate and international trips by company officials as expenditure items to the company’s costs; and generally loading a large amount of nonbusiness activity as a cost to their enterprise? Will the Government consider appointing a Coombs-like task force to examine whether illegitimate claims are included as expenses by companies lodging their tax returns?
– I would be very surprised if they were not. I think the latter part of the question ought to be handed to the Treasurer to see whether it is possible to tighten up some of these loopholes.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the Minister for Customs and Excise. When in Opposition the present Government asserted that if elected to the treasury bench it would promptly remove the then 25c per gallon excise applicable to wine and would not impose any alternative form of taxation on the wine industry. I ask the Minister: How can the Government reconcile the undertaking given then with its present action in removing the duty differential favourable to brandy, and the further imposition of a tax which add in total the disastrous impost of approximately S5 per gallon on brandy which is a product vital to the well being of the grape growing and wine making industry? Does he realise the severity of the increase and the crippling effect it must have on the industry? Will immediate consideration be given to rectifying the position and honouring an election promise which was given?
– There has been no breach of any election promise. The honourable senator raises some matters which ought to be given proper consideration. I ask him to put the question on the notice paper and he will be given the full answer which his question deserves.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. As a test of the basis for his previous answer that primary producing subsidies have been abolished where they have not been needed, I ask him to state the approximate amount of fruit used in Tasmania for carbonated fruit juices and the approximate value of that fruit to the industry and to say whether or not the growers who supply that fruit are in need of the income in addition to their present depressed low incomes?
- Senator Wright raised this matter in the Senate last week. I indicated during the course of that debate, as he himself indicated prior to the time that I spoke, that that was not the time to debate this matter. When I spoke I said to him that I would welcome the opportunity to debate the matter with him when the legislation comes forward.
– I did not ask you to debate it; I asked you to give us the information.
– I will give the honourable senator the information. As I indicated to him last week, the previous Government itself saw the futility of continuing in the way it had done for years and introduced the restructuring process which I know Senator Wright rejects. We are yet to hear whether he is in a position to suggest an alternative scheme which would assist the fruit industry in Tasmania, but it is quite true that the restructuring process that has taken place is the proper answer to the industry. It enables these people to move into the productive areas which the market wants.
– I address a question to the Special Minister of State. As the Government seems to believe that one of the virtues of the Chinese nuclear tests is that the tests have been conducted over Chinese territory, I ask the Minister: Does the Chinese Government consider the effect of nuclear fall-out to be of little significance, or does the Chinese Government display a callous disregard for the health and welfare of its people? If the Minister does not know the answer, will he ascertain it for me?
– It is always dangerous when a person ‘begins a question on a wrong premise. The honourable senator began his question by saying that we see virtues in the Chinese testing because it is being done over their own people and they will be the first to suffer from the fall-out. We see no virtues in any country conducting nuclear tests, and we have made that abundantly clear. We made it clear to the Chinese when Mr Whitlam visited China before we became the Government. We have done it officially in both Peking and here. Dr Cairns conveyed that view to the Chinese when he was in China. Senator Murphy himself in this place has attacked nuclear tests. We see no virtues at all in nuclear tests. Our consistent attitude has been that it is not only a question of the pollution of the area of fall-out but also a question involving the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. We want to see this pollution not only cut down but possibly eliminated. What Senator Sim has said shows the false attitude that he takes. He knows perfectly well that we do not see any virtues in this situation at all. The whole thrust of this propaganda is that we are protesting against the French tests but we are not protesting against the Chinese tests. There is not one tittle of evidence to support that suggestion.
– Yes, there is.
– There is not. We have protested and the honourable senator has seen this. He cannot snap out of the old cold war attitude. If the honourable senator is so blind to the facts I suggest that he keep quiet about these things.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Parliament of the amount of strontium 90 and other elements contained in nuclear fall-out registered on the Atherton Tableland during the recent French tests? If such information is not available can the Minister obtain details and” make them available for public information?
– From time to time details of fall-out are published, and as soon as convenient this will be done. I do not know whether the details relate precisely to the Atherton Tableland but there is a monitoring
– Will you be able to tell whether it is French or Chinese strontium 90?
– There is a monitoring system which operates around Australia. In answer to the honourable senator who interjected, it is scientifically possible to determine the origin of the fall-out.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Did the 1973 Budget impose substantially increased imposts on petrol, cigarettes, liquor and postal and telegraphic services? Are these in fact regressive indirect taxes on items of common daily use by all Australians, especially lower income earners? Why did the Government impose the main burden of its income-raising increases on those who are least able to pay? What explanation does the Government advance for breaking its pre-election promise that taxes would not be increased?
– We said before the election that direct taxes would not be increased and that promise was carried out. Senator Carrick is bringing up a matter which ought not be raised at question time. If the honourable senator wants to debate this matter and if he feels that there is some other way to balance the expenditure side of the Budget and pay for the pension increases and our moves into decentralisation and all the other areas into which previous governments never moved, I will be interested to hear him in debate on it.
– I ask the
Minister for Customs and Excise: What action has the Government taken to prevent the importation of children’s nightwear which is dangerous because of its flammability?
– This is one of the matters in relation to which a statement has been prepared for me and I hope, Mr President, I will not incur your stricture if I refer to some notes. I think this matter was raised previously and it is one of the matters on which I have some information ready. Legislation is being drafted to require articles of children’s nightwear imported into Australia to be marked as to their degree of flammability in accordance with Australian Standards Association standard AS 1249/ 73 covering safe design rules for children’s night clothes. This action is designed to complement the agreement reached at the annual conference of State Ministers for Labour held in Adelaide in July 1973 that uniform legislation, operative from 1 January 1974, should be introduced in all States requiring children’s flammable nightwear to be so labelled. I might add that the present Australian Government has been most active in taking measures to protect the consumer in respect of imports which are considered dangerous. Controls have been introduced to prevent the importation of items such as household crockery which contains excessive quantities of lead and cadmium, unsafe car windscreens, various chlorinated compounds except for specific purposes, and cigarettes unless they carry appropriate health warnings.
– The Attorney-General will recall that some time ago, following the death of 4 experienced Sydney divers in a limestone cave in South Australia, I asked whether he would take action for the introduction of uniform safety regulations governing underwater cave exploration. Has his notice been drawn to a recent report of a coroner’s inquiry which indicated that the divers stayed in the cave for too long and died from lack of oxygen? Can he say whether he has approached his State counterparts on this matter? If so, what progress has been made?
– I am aware of the honourable senator’s concern with this. It is an important matter. I regret that I am unable to tell him the present position. I will find out as soon as possible and let him know.
– I will now commence calling honourable senators to ask their second round of questions. I call Senator O’BYrne.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. In view of the widespread interest created by the decision to set aside the finding reached in 1942 of the court martial of Lieutenant Reid, a Military Cross winner of Hobart, Tasmania, will the Attorney-General explain how this came about after so many years advocacy?
– I think it was last week that I indicated in an answer to a question what connection my Department had had with the matter. But there is no doubt, as I think has been announced, although it might not have received much publicity, that the real reason for this happening after so many years has been undoubtedly the enthusiasm, dedication and persistence of Mr Lance Barnard, firstly as a private member of Parliament, then as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and presently as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. For many years he pressed on with a burning sense of injustice in making representations to have the judgment of the court martial in 1942 corrected. 1 believe that it was with a great feeling of achievement that Mr Barnard, as Minister for Defence, was able to see that his efforts were rewarded by the reversal of the previous decisions rejecting appeals by Lieutenant Reid over a period of 30 years.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory. Why has the Minister for the Capital Territory departed from the practice of the previous Government and declined to submit all proposed ordinances to the Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory?
– I do not know. I will find out for Senator Greenwood and let him know.
– Mr President, might I with respect point out to you that this is my first question for the afternoon?
– 1 beg your pardon, Senator Primmer. I had your name crossed off on my list. I am very sorry that I have reduced you to this state of supplication.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Have there been some claims that the Minister has not been available for consultation with leaders of farming organisations? If this is correct, can he say when he might be available to have these consultations?
– I have seen statements to this effect. I can say only that I have seen as many industry groups as I possibly could since being in this portfolio. As a matter of fact, during the winter recess of the Parliament I think I saw representatives from 17 different groups or industries. To the best of my knowledge I have seen representatives from all groups involved in rural industry with the exception of the fishing industry, whose representatives I will see this week.
– I again direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the South Australian Government is not in agreement with the
Federal Government’s request that the States freeze land prices for up to 10 years and so be in line with the Federal Government’s proposals to stabilise land prices in Australia? The stated policy of the Australian Labor Party is that increases in land prices for houses in the Australian Capital Territory would be kept to a minimum. Can the Minister explain why land values in the Australian Capital Territory have more than doubled in the past 6 months? Does the Minister consider that these latest prices are in keeping with prices being kept to a minimum?
– The main purport of the question is how the prices in the Australian Capital Territory could have risen in the past 6 months. That 6-months period has followed the policies and the change in policies of the previous Government. As one knows, there are not overnight changes in economic affairs.
– Land prices never doubled in any 6-months period in the past.
– We were lectured for year by the previous Government that the effect of its economic measures would not be felt for some 12 or 18 months. That applied to its land policies as well as to its financial policies. What we are getting is the effect of the previous Government’s policies. If the honourable senator wants the answer, that is it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Media, refers to 2 very disturbing statements on the administration of the arts which recently came to my notice - the first by a leading figure in the field of theatre who said that slick administrators of the Government’s art program are jet-planing all over Australia on missions which could be settled by a telephone call, and the second by Sir Robert Helpman n, the Director of the Australian Ballet, who said that too many people who know nothing about the threatre are running around in big Commonwealth cars getting far more money than the performing artists, and that the Australian Council for the Arts is being wrongly administered. Will the Government inquire into these allegations that money for the arts is being spent extravagantly?
– I am afraid that the honourable senator has directed the question to me as the Minister for the Media, whereas ministerial responsibility for the arts and the administration of the Australian Council for the Arts, belongs to the Prime Minister. Therefore I suggest that the honourable senator should have directed his question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister.
– I should have directed that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, answer it.
– However, I have seen comments of the type to which-
– Order! Is the Minister in order in attempting to answer the question?
– I am subject to your ruling on that, Mr President.
– I will relieve you of the responsibility of answering for a Minister for whom you have no responsibility. I call Senator Murphy.
– I think the Government, and the Prime Minister especially, would pay great attention to the remarks which were made by the honourable senator particularly when he quoted outstanding figures in the art world. I am sure that the Prime Minister would like to give the answer and explain such criticisms as have been made. There have been some earlier criticisms, and they were answered, I think satisfactorily. I am sure that the Prime Minister will either answer the criticisms or attend to them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of predictions that wheat prices could remain high for some years, is the Minister in a position to state whether Australian wheat growers will be obliged to contribute to the wheat stabilisation fund from sales of their next crop? If so, how much will growers contribute?
– It will not be possible to make that judgment until we know the precise price situation on the world market when the crop is harvested. Indications are that this year the wheat growers will pay into the stabilisation scheme as the prices almost certainly will exceed the 5c limit over the guaranteed price. I cannot say any more until such time as we know the exact price situation.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it true that the Minister has replaced the interim chairman of the Australian Wool Corporation? If so, is it also true, as reported in the media, that it is the Minister’s intention now to stack the Corporation and other statutory marketing authorities with people of his own choosing?
– It is true that last week I notified Mr Yeo, the interim chairman of the Australian Wool Corporation, that his services on the Corporation would not be required any longer. As Minister I exercise that judgment. In respect of the 3 persons on the Corporation who are there by virtue of their special qualifications, the Minister reserves the right to make the decision on who shall fill those 3 positions. I take this opportunity firstly, to say no, it is certainly not my intention to stack any Commonwealth statutory boards with people whom I like. I take this opportunity also to refute Press reports that there were some differences between Mr Yeo and the Government, which I presume would be interpreted as meaning myself. That is not true. I found in .my short association with Mr Yeo that he was always easy to work with. In my view he was a competent person. Nevertheless 1 reserve the right to make those decisions, and I shall make them according to what I think are the best interests of the industry.
– As a further test of the judgment of the Minister for Primary Industry may I ask him, in order to see what knowledge he has of the needs of primary industries, how the debt position of these industries today compares with the debt position 10 years ago?
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. The question of the honourable senator should not be prefaced in that way. The honourable senator’s question was capable of being put without those deprecating references in the preface. I suggest it would be more in conformity with the dignity of the Senate if his question was not so prefaced.
- Senator Murphy, I have been indulging in some smug selfsatisfaction in the Chair today in that I have been averaging questions and answers in under 2 minutes, including second questions asked by honourable senators, and all this within the hour. I shall take your observations under notice. I think that honourable senators are performing pretty well today. Senator Wright, will you address your question again in the light of the remarks of the Leader of the Government.
– (Having regard to the Minister’s reference to needs in the industry, and to the sense of maintaining continuity of reasoning during question time, as a test of the Minister’s knowledge of the needs of primary industries I ask him how the debt position of these industries today compares with the debt position of the industry 10 years ago?
– I can only make one or two general observations about this. It is an established economic fact that in times of prosperity there is the greatest increase in debt. This has been exemplified over the past 12 months which has seen the most buoyant of the rural industries, the meat industry-
– There has been-
– Mr President-
- Mr President, in view of the interjections I ask that the question be placed on the notice paper.
– Has consideration been given by the Minister for the Media to a major television survey conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s audience research department which indicates a considerable decline in television viewing? To what does the Minister ascribe the decline? Would he accept that undue governmental interference could be a factor? Should not public demand and reaction finally determine the type and quality of television programs?
– At present I am considering the very detailed report compiled by the Australian Broadcasting Commission as a result of a detailed survey it made of the television and radio needs of the Australian community. True it is that for some considerable time the percentage of sets in use has been on the decline. While the total aggregate of sets in use has increased as a result of the natural increase in population, the simple fact is that on a percentage basis there has been a decline in set usage. However, I would suggest to the honourable senator that there have been a great number of reasons for the decline in the viewing habits of the Australian community. One has been the inordinate number of repeat programs shown by commercial television over a number of years. The points system as devised by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, among other things, will not give the same credits for repeat programs as were applied on a percentage basis under the old system. Additionally, of course, this Government provided substantial assistance to the Australian Broadcasting Commission last financial year and again this financial year for the purpose of improving programming arrangements generally - and I think that at long last the results are starting to be appreciated and seen by the Australian public.
– I advise honourable senators that as a result of a question asked of me last week by Senator McManus and an observation by Senator Greenwood today on the reports of committee proceedings, I have taken further action to discover the technical reasons for the delays which are causing some disquiet among honourable senators. I report to the Senate as follows: The Reporting Department is able to provide daily the transcripts of the proceedings of 4 committees. Two of the transcripts are prepared by reporters and the other 2 from tapes. The meetings of additional committees are tape recorded and the tapes have to be put to one side to await transcription. The Government Printer, using the hot metal process, is able to publish the reports of two or, at the most, 3 committees a day depending on the volume of the evidence and incorporated material.
During the recent recess the committee meetings were the most numerous on record. Five, six and sometimes eight committees met simultaneously, and the backlog of tapes awaiting transcription was equivalent to 20 committee-days. Advertisements for additional tape and copying typists and experienced journalists to sub-edit the tape transcripts were inserted in the local Press. The augmented staff has overtaken the backlog but the Printer is still well behind. The transcripts of some committees are not printed initially but are typed on wax sheets and are reproduced by a roneo process. These committees receive their transcripts much more quickly than do committees whose proceedings are printed. In addition, the Printer’s capability is governed in part by work other than parliamentary printing. For the first fortnight in August the Printer was occupied almost exclusively with the Budget. I must say that some of the material accepted by committees of the Senate, for example, for incorporation in a daily report takes as long to set in type as the whole day’s evidence. The Reporting Department and the Government Printer are literally overwhelmed with work.
– Mr President, may I ask a question of you in relation to this matter?
– Who determines which committees will be supplied with either tape recorders or shorthand reporters and which committees shall have priority in having transcripts made available to them?
– Such a decision is not made by me. It is simply a matter of the continuity of committees. For example, a select committee in the public gaze obviously would attract much more attention than one carrying out some investigatory matter which perhaps is not of great public interest. This is a matter which I leave to the judgment of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter in the light of the resources available to him.
- Mr President, may I also ask a question? I wonder whether you can advise the Senate who decided that tapes should be used exclusively. Is it to be the practice in future that only tape recordings will be made of committee proceedings? If it is, would you be good enough to examine whether that is considered to be a proper parliamentary recording system. It seems to me that there could be accidents with the mechanical recording of such committee proceedings and it might not be advisable to persist with this method. I raise the question because of my concern.
– I can understand the concern which has been expressed about the use of tapes. The fundamental fact is that until such time as we introduced a tape system for the recording of committee proceedings it was not possible even to record all such proceedings. A technique has been developed by the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, using a tape system to record committee proceedings and typists to produce the transcripts at the tape transcription annexe. If that were not done there would be no possibility whatsoever of reproducing the proceedings of all parliamentary committees, particularly Senate committees. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter has consistently placed advertisements for additional staff where it has been thought they might attract attention. The response to the advertisements has been almost nil. The Principal Parliamentary Reporter has had to seek out retired reporters with a view to recruiting them for work in the editing of tape transcripts, overcoming the difficulty. This has not been enough.
A sort of forced draft training scheme for reporters has been established to try to make up for the shortage of shorthand reporters. The present system is literally breaking down under its own weight. The Prime Minister asked the Presiding Officers whether they could provide Hansard reporters to report the Constitutional Convention in Sydney next week. We have not been able to provide one reporter from the Parliament of Australia to aid the Convention. We have been unable to meet requests for reporting assistance from the Premier of Tasmania. Because of the increase that is taking place at present in the committee proceedings of the Parliament the whole reporting system is literally breaking down. In answer specifically to Senator Bishop I point out that we have to rely on a system of tape recording committee proceedings. Using this system and with the introduction of the new printing process at the Government Printing Office we may be able to get transcripts of committee proceedings out faster than we have been able in the past. But we are literally at the end of our tether.
– I seek leave to make a statement of a personal nature, Mr President. I claim to have been misrepresented.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I refer to a prominent headline on page 3 of this morning’s Melbourne ‘Age’ which reads: ‘Greenwood Broke Law: PM That, Mr President, is a misrepresentation not only in the sense that I did not break any law but also because, on my understanding of the report upon which the headline is based, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made no such allegation. It is an invidious matter to be headlined in this way by any newspaper. It is difficult for the ordinary citizen to have any means of redress when allegations of this character are made against him. I have had prior experience of the type of headlining in which the Melbourne ‘Age’ engages. I also know by experience that in these areas the Melbourne ‘Age’ is a law unto itself and that redress is not available in the ordinary way. I have therefore risen in my place to state my side of the situation in the hope - I hope it is not a vain one - that the ‘Age’ might be prepared to make some amends.
The statement is based upon a question on notice by a member of the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister’s answer to that question is reported in last Thursday’s Hansard. I propose to refer to it. Mr Mathews, the honourable member for Casey, asked the Prime Minister upon notice:
To those 2 questions the Prime Minister’s answer was as follows:
I simply say, by way of interpolation, that that answer is inaccurate. The documents which were tabled in the Senate were the original documents that I possessed and they were tabled in the Senate for the good and sufficient reason which I announced1 at the time. The third question was:
Is the retention of documents acquired in a former official capacity in conformity with (a) the law, (b) convention or (c) precedent?
The answer of the Prime Minister was as follows:
Questions relating to the retention by former Ministers of documents acquired by them in their official capacity involve complex issues of law and it would not be appropriate in an answer to a Parliamentary question to canvas all of those issues. It would, however, appear in general to be both in accordance with law and convention that a former Minister is not entitled to retain documents acquired by him solely in his official capacity. Former Ministers are, of course, expected to act responsibility in these matters.
The fourth question was:
If not, will he seek an assurance from any former Ministers known to hold any such documents that these will be returned.
The answer was:
I should be glad to arrange for the appropriate Department to receive any such official documents held by former Ministers that they did not surrender on the termination of their portfolios.
The point I wish to make is that any person who cares to examine the Crimes Act, which I understand to be the only law of this country which could have any relevance to the situation which is alleged in the question and answer, will see from the perusal of its provisions that the Prime Minister’s statement that complex issues are raised is very much to the point. I have examined the provisions of the Act and I am satisfied that no law has been broken. If it is alleged that a law has been broken there are many appropriate remedies available to ensure that propriety is observed. I did not understand the Prime Minister to have made the categorical allegation with which the ‘Age’ decided it would headline a particular article. There was no positive assertion in the Prime Minister’s answer to the question asked of him. There was a very cautionary expression that ‘it would appear in general’. The qualifications which the Prime Minister has indicated are very real qualifications.
I would only say that the documents which I tabled in the Senate on 4 April were tabled for a specific purpose. I make no apologies for the fact that they were tabled. Indeed, the fact that documents were possessed by me would never have become known but the need to table them became apparent because attempts had been made to make a selective case which was-
– I raise a point of order, Mr President. I have listened carefully to the explanation the honourable senator has been making. He was allowed to make an explanation because he said that he had been misrep resented. It is not a proper use of the occasion to launch into an attack upon anyone else, particularly if it involves the repetition of a matter. Surely as a matter of decency and as a proper use of the occasion to correct some misrepresentation, the honourable senator should confine himself to the very lengthy explanation he has given in respect of what he suggests was the use of some erroneous headline in a newspaper.
– Order! I have listened to what you have had to say, Senator Murphy. Nothing Senator Greenwood has said so far would seem to me to indicate that he is launching into a personal attack upon anyone. As far as I am concerned, any honourable senator who feels that his honour has been impugned is entitled to reply to the imputation. On that basis and as he has not concluded his remarks, I will allow Senator Greenwood to do so, but I would suggest to him that he should not stray into the area of debating the matter.
– I am indebted to you, Mr President. I wish to say only that the purpose of my tabling these documents in the Senate was to reply to a very well publicised case which sought to make certain accusations and which did so on the basis, as I then maintained, of the selective use of documents. The reply which was able to be made brought objectivity and greater perspective to the matter and demonstrated that there had been a selective use of documents. That was the sole purpose for the tabling of those documents. I reassert that for my part I categorically deny the allegation which was made by the ‘Age’ this morning. For my part I also say that it was not what the Prime Minister alleged. If he does make the allegation he ought to take the action which automatically would follow from the making of the allegation.
– I ask for leave to say something in relation to what was put by Senator Greenwood.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted. Senator Murphy, I now take you back to the other matter. You suggested earlier that you wished to give notice of a motion.
– Am I to understand that the honourable senator, having been given leave to make an explanation, denies me the right to correct a reflection which he made upon me in the course of making that explanation?
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to compensation in respect of the acquisition of certain land in the Australian Capital Territory.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table of the Senate a statement by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) relating to the Government’s new cities program. This statement was to be made in the Senate by the Minister for Works, Senator Cavanagh. In his absence, I ask for leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
This is the first time in the history of our nation, apart from Canberra, that the Australian Government has stepped into the area of new city development by direct budgetary allocations. The full history of the debate which has led up to this involvement by the Australian Government has still to be told. Some of us have been firmly convinced for many years that the case for new cities has been unassailable. For the past 2 decades at least, all political parties in Australia have talked about decentralisation at great length but little has been attempted. Originally, the rationale for decentralisation was explained in terms of halting the population drift from the country. Nowadays, that rationale is still applicable, but that justification has been overladen by the more pressing need to divert population growth from already overcrowded metropolises.
There can be no doubt that the 2 crises points at the moment are Sydney and Melbourne which are suffering from all the ills of over-centralisation - soaring land prices, lagging services, air and water pollution, lack of recreational space and so on. Probably the most immediate reason for the failure of any new city development to be launched in the past has been governments’ reliance upon dispersed measures which has meant that scarce resources have been spread thinly over many areas with little effect. Between 1947 and 1970 the population of the non-urban areas in Australia declined from 31 per cent to 14.7 per cent of Australia’s total population. What was so clearly necessary was what all governments, and particularly the previous Australian Government, failed to do. This was to select and promote a certain number of growth centres. To the exasperation of the citizens of congested metropolises and to the despair of the people in the country areas, no commitment was made by previous governments to a meaningful policy of new city development, except in repeated platitudes and cliches.
This Government has made its commitment. In this Budget the commitment stands at $33m. It is only a beginning in our program. One of the major planks of our election platform, and the chief reason for the Labor Party winning the last election, was our commitment to the improvement of the quality of life and standards of service in existing cities. Our new cities program is only one part of our overall urban and regional development strategy. Monies which are allocated for new city development in this Budget result from studies carried out by the Cities Commission. One of the chief roles of the Cities Commission is to conduct studies of regional areas. As I said in my second reading speech on the Cities Commission Bill last May, these studies will be undertaken for a variety of reasons. Some studies assess regions as potential growth centres capable of rapid population growth. Some studies consider strategies for development which may be already taking place. Other studies assess proposals for financial support put to the Australian Government. Some studies collect necessary information about particular regions.
At present, the Cities Commission is conducting studies in all States. The first report of the Cities Commission will be tabled in the Senate later in September. The studies which the Commission has been undertaking have necessarily been ‘broad brush’ in treatment and have been intended as the first steps only in a systematic program of investigations into urban and regional problems throughout Australia. On the basis of these initial studies, the Government has been able to allocate money to all States. I should point out that the money is intended for 2 broad types of operation. The first is what we call regional growth centres which comprise new city development at a substantial distance from existing city development. The second may be called system cities, which are intended as substantially self-contained cities on the fringes of existing metropolitan areas. Subject to the areas selected for assistance in this program being acceptable to the various State governments, and subject to mutually acceptable arrangements for it being worked out between the Australian Government and respective State governments, the national Government is allocating S3 3m in its new city program as repayable loans.
As I pointed out in my speech on the Cities Commission Bill the importance of land price stabilisation in areas being studied is possible growth centres cannot be over-emphasised. Although the carrying out of a study does not imply a commitment by the Australian Government to support the area as a growth centre, it can lead to speculation. The activities of speculators could result in defeating policies for the support of the particular growth centre. I have spoken about regional growth centres. In this Budget the Australian Government is making a total grant of $9m for the support of the new city complex of Albury-Wodonga. The national Government has identified Albury-Wodonga as its major priority in the regional growth centre program. We believe that a target population of at least 300,000 is a viable proposition for Albury-Wodonga. In this first year the majority of money will be spent on land acquisition although a certain proportion has been set aside for expenditure on selected public works. This figure does not include the cost of any projects which the Australian Government might finance under the regular programs of other Federal instrumentalities.
Leaving aside Albury-Wodonga we are proposing a total provision of $9.4m to be allocated to the State of New South Wales. This money is to be allocated to the system city areas of HolsworthyMenaiCampbelltownCamdenAppin and Gosford-Wyong, and the regional growth centre of BathurstOrange. I am pleased to say that the State of
New South Wales has announced its intention to introduce land price stabilisation legislation to apply to all these areas.
In Victoria, apart from Albury-Wodonga, the Government has in mind a total provision of S5m for the period 1973-74. This money is to be allocated to 2 areas - Geelong and the Melbourne south-east sector. The Cities Commission has found that the acquisition of critical lands to the south-east of Melbourne, either for recreation or for conservation and scenic reasons, would offer the strongest available guarantee of the continued protection of the Dandenong Ranges, Westernport Bay and the Mornington Peninsula. The need for recreation land near Melbourne is particularly important, and the preservation of the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenongs is a matter of some urgency. Unlike Sydney, which has 4 major national parks within 100km of the heart of the city, the only national parks near Melbourne are Kinglake, which is relatively small, and Wilson’s Promontory. Acquiring certain other areas in this corridor will also provide a means of channelling the inevitable population growth into more desirable patterns than those becoming evident at present.
The Government intends to promote a growth centre in an area near Geelong. Although the Victorian Government has introduced legislation for land price stabilisation in the Wodonga area it has yet to announce its intention to do the same for other selected growth areas in that State. I would like to make it perfectly clear that the support of the Australian Government of a Geelong growth centre is dependent upon the Victorian Government announcing its intention to introduce legislation for land price stabilisation. It is most important that the legislation which is introduced in Victoria - and this comment applies to other States as well - sets an appropriate base value. This should be the value at a date related to the earliest announcements or reports in the case of each growth centre. The base value in AlburyWodonga is 3 October last year, and the New South Wales Government has announced that this date will apply to other growth centres in that State. But for all growth centres the legislation should make sure that the stable door is closed well before the horse wants to bolt. In the case of Geelong, this should mean a date not later than yesterday - the day on which the Victorian Government issued a formal statement of planning policy identifying the Geelong region as a location for large scale urban growth.
We seek the development of the growth centre to be under the administration of a development corporation. This corporation will be the result of co-operation between the Australian and Victorian Governments and could operate under the same or similar principles as the development corporation which has been agreed to in the Albury-Wodonga growth centre. The Australian Government sees the development of a growth centre at Geelong as an important instrument in our attempt to slow down the growth of Melbourne. Other important areas will also have to be brought into focus. I am having discussions with the Victorian Minister for State Development and Decentralisation to have further study areas selected in Victoria. If these studies are successful, again the aim would be to divert population growth away from the Melbourne metropolitan area. The Government believes that the development of selected growth centres in Victoria can make a major contribution to relieving pressures on the Melbourne area. We intend Geelong to be a step in this process, along with AlburyWodonga. We hope other future areas could be under way before 1975. But I want to stress I will be seeking to have a stabilisation of land prices in each area under study.
I now turn to the other States in which assistance will be provided for growth centres in 1973-74. In Queensland, 3 regions have been under study - Townsville, the Fitzroy Region, which includes Gladstone and Rockhampton, and the Moreton Region. The national Government wishes to make an allocation of $4.4m to Queensland during 1973- 74 for assistance to these areas. Such assistance would include money for land acquisition, sewerage and water supply, and social facilities such as improved public transport, hospital facilities and child-minding centres. The South Australian Government has selected the town of Monarto for new city development and has introduced legislation to provide both for land price stabilisation and the setting up of a development corporation to plan and develop the new centre. The Government intends to provide $1.2m for this centre in 1973-74. In Western Australia, the Government has in mind a total provision of S3. 5m for assistance to Perth and Salvado, generally for land acquisition. The Cities Commission is continuing to carry out studies in Albany, Geraldton and Bunbury. In Tasmania, the Government intends to give assistance for land purchase and planning generally, and works in the Tamar region, of the order of $0.5m in 1973-74.
This Government does not believe that one can formulate policies on cities by concentrating exclusively on new cities. Urban problems cannot be solved by such an exclusive approach. The present Government recognises that there are urgent and severe problems in the existing cities. They can only be attacked by policies which both concentrate on the existing cities and are supported by policies for new regional centres. The major initiatives which this Government is now taking in cities should be seen as one inter-connected parcel of policies. This is one of the great strengths of our attitude towards cities. We do not intend to make and review policies on such things as roads, housing, sewerage and land in isolation.
The Australian Government is involved in urban investments through various agreements. Through our new initiatives we shall be involved in many more investments in urban areas. I am speaking of such things as Commonwealth Aids Road Agreement, CommonwealthState Housing Agreement, our proposed subsidy in urban public transport, our sewerage program, our policies on land commissions, assistance for the National Estate, and of course, our new cities program. These must be seen as inter-connected investments in order to ensure the most efficient return from these investments, and to ensure more equal distribution of opportunities within urban areas.
I am not under-estimating the difficulty of the task before us or the expensive nature of the undertakings we have made. But in the long term, these undertakings are an investment for all the people of our nation. If the program of building new cities is to be successful the sustained and combined support of political leaders at all levels of government over many years is essential. I seek the support of this Senate, of State and local governments for this historic and vital program of growth centre development in our nation.
– I present the following paper:
New Cities Program - Ministerial Statement, 28 August 1973.
– by leave - Honourable senators know that regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations prohibits the importation of literature and articles that are ‘blasphemous, indecent or obscene’; or ‘unduly emphasise matters of sex, horror, violence or crime or are likely to encourage depravity’. Honourable senators also know the regulation provides that even though a book is prohibited under regulation 4a the Minister may approve any application to import such works provided a report has been received from the Chairman of the National Literature Board of Review or the Director-General of Health. The purpose of this provision is to permit the importation of copies of prohibited publications for special purposes such as recognised scientific, social or cultural work by qualified persons; original research or advanced study; or for use as reference material in the practice of professions such as medicine or law.
When regulation 4a was introduced in 1963 the then Minister undertook to report annually to the Senate in respect of books released in accordance with the above provisions. This report, the tenth to be presented, covers the period 1 July 1972 to 30 June 1973. During this period a total of 14 applications were received. Of these, thirteen were approved and one refused. Of these 14, eleven were made to the former Minister for Customs and Excise, the honourable D. L. Chipp who approved 10 and refused one. Three were made to me and were approved. Details of the applications approved are as follows:
Medical, Psychiatric and Sociological Works
One to a University Lecturer.
One to a Psychologist.
One to a Solicitor.
One to an organisation training store detectives.
One to a University Researcher.
Six to University Lecturers.
One to a Teachers’ College Lecturer.
One to a State Library.
I present the following paper:
Customs (Prohibited Imports) RegulationsMinisterial Statement. 28 August 1973.
– by leave - Following the increases in duty rates on tobacco products, potable spirits and petroleum fuels introduced in conjunction with the Budget I advised honourable senators that I would make available further details of the excess clearances of these high duty goods made in the weeks before the duty rise became effective. Honourable senators will be aware that in the past it has been the practice for manufacturers and other persons with goods in bond to speculate on the outcome of the Budget decisions by clearing from bond excess quantities of dutiable goods hoping to make a windfall profit in the event of a rise in the rates of duty. This practice could not be prevented under existing legislation. However, where these benefits were not passed on to consumers, this represented a windfall profit at the expense of consumers. This year it appears that no excess clearances were made by oil companies of petrol and similar products in the pre-Budget period. However, between the middle of July and the Budget duty was paid on significantly greater quantities of both tobacco products and spirits than would have been normally required by consumers. During this period the volume of tobacco products in the hands of distributors and retailers had been increased by the equivalent of approximately three weeks normal requirements.
The information available at present suggests that the 3 major cigarette companies have not attempted to make windfall profits for themselves as a consequence of the higher Budget duties. However, the distributors and retailers of Rothman products on the day before the Budget were holding, on the average, approximately 5 weeks excess stocks and distributors and retailers of products manufactured by W. D. & H. O. Wills and Philip Morris were holding slightly under 2 weeks supply in excess of their normal stock holdings. Excess clearances of spirits were greater than those of tobacco products. Spirits merchants, distributors and retailers are holding approximately 5 weeks supply in excess of their normal requirements although this figure varies sharply between products of different companies. In the case of both tobacco products and spirits the overall pattern of excess clearances is similar in all States. These figures indicate that, on average higher prices should not be charged for cigarettes and tobacco until early September and for spirits until the end of September. I stress the words on average’. There will of course be retailers and distributors who run out of ‘old stock’ of some lines earlier than the dates I suggested. There will also be many others who will have some stock paid at the lower rate of duty for sale several months from now. This will be particularly true of many brands of spirits. It is important that consumers are not exploited by retailers and distributors who seek to make a windfall profit from these arrangements. If it should come to my notice that any company is seeking to make excess profits by increasing prices before old stocks are exhausted I shall not hesitate to name that company to the Senate. In the meantime as I have said before to the Senate I am examining the possibility of legal amendments to put a stop to this practice. I present the following paper:
Customs Excess Clearances - Ministerial Statement, 28 August 1973.
– by leave - The Centre for Research on Federal Financial Relations was established in 1972 at the Australian National University as an independent research centre to pursue studies in the general field of Australian Government-State financial relations. It is intended that the work of the Centre will be especially concerned with intergovernmental financial relations - including the problems of local government - with special reference to expenditure functions, inter-governmental co-operation, taxation and loan finance, grants, and constitutional issues affecting financial relations.
The Australian Government makes an annual contribution of S66.000 in the form of a special research grant. The initial agreement covers a 5 year period. The contribution is reduced by any unspent amount carried over from the previous year. Results of research undertaken by the Centre will be published as completed. ‘Federal Finance’ by Professor R. L. Mathews and Mr W. R. C. Jay has already been published and a second book ‘Intergovernmental Relations in Australia’ is in the process of publication. The first monograph to be issued by the Centre, ‘Patterns of Australian Federalism’ by Professor J. E. Richardson, is in the process of publication. A second monograph - a comparative study of federalism in West Germany - has been written and is now being edited. A question without notice was asked about this matter by Senator Greenwood on 25 May 1973. This statement substantially answers, I think, the matters which were raised by him in that question: I present the following paper:
The Australian National University Centre for Research on Federal Financial Relations - Ministerial Statement, 28 August 1973. and move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– I very much welcome the statement and the report that have just been put down because for many years I have been interested and active in the field of CommonwealthState financial relations. The previous Government set up this centre for research on Federal financial relations. It followed the work of a seminar at the Australian National University in November 1971. I thought that it was a very good thing to do. I am glad that the centre has made such progress. The kind of work it is doing has my very warm support and I hope that it will have the support of the Australian Parliament both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief statement relating to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare has resolved to make a statement to the Senate on the petition relating to ultrasonic aids for the blind. The Senate referred this petition to the Committee on 24 May 1972, after it had been presented by Senator McManus. The petition read as follows:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
The petition was sent to the Department of Health, Repatriation and Social Security for comment. These Departments subsequently submitted written reports to the Committee on the petition. After considering these reports, the Committee agreed to invite submissions from organisations for the blind, including those who initiated the petition, to help pursue the reference in its preliminary stages.
The Committee now considers that the preliminary investigations indicate that further examination of the points raised in the submissions is necessary, and will now proceed to do so with the aim of reporting to the Senate as soon as possible.
– I lay on the table the following papers:
Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ended 30 June 1973 accompanied by the report of the Auditor-General thereon and upon other accounts for the year ended 30 June 1973.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Australian National Airlines Bill 1973.
States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1973.
– Is Government Business notice of motion No. 2 standing in the name of Senator Willesee formal or not formal?
– It is formal. Pursuant to notice I move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the National Library Act 1960-67.
The Bill will be introduced at a later date.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That notice of motion Government Business No. 1 be postponed until 11 September 1973.
– To what date do you propose to adjourn the discussion?
– To 1 1 September.
– That is the actual date on which it would operate?
– No. It will give us this week in which to talk about the matter. It can be discussed on the first day after the resumption of the sittings after next week’s break.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Willesee) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill, which seeks to amend certain provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act relating to the redistribution of States into electoral divisions, is identical to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973 which was introduced in the House of Representatives on 13 March 1973 and passed on 4 April 1973. As honourable senators know, the motion for the second reading of the Bill was defeated in the Senate on 17 May 1973. The second reading speech on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973, when first introduced, was incorporated in Hansard dated 10 April 1973- pages 953 to 956 - where the details and the purposes of the amendments were fully explained.
The Bill seeks to change only sections 19 and 25 of Part III of the Commonwealth Electoral Act dealing with the redistribution of the States into electoral divisions. It is proposed that all other provisions of Part III of the Act which specify the procedure for redistributions of States into electoral divisions, be retained. The amendments proposed will have the effect of:
revising the factors (section 19(2)) to which the Distribution Commissioners are required to give due consideration by deleting the reference to:
The proposed amendment of section 25(2)(b) is a natural corollary to the amendment of section 19(1) reducing the margin of allowance from the quota to 10 per cent.
Mr Acting Deputy President, the purpose of these amendments is perfectly clear: The principle of ‘one vote one value’ must be established as the fundamental objective of redistribution and our intentions were publicised before the last elections at which the people elected an Australian Labor Party government. We propose a permissible variation from the quota of electors sufficient to enable the Distribution Commissioners to give due consideration to factors which are consistent with the equal representation principle which the Australian Labor Party, both in Opposition and in government, has consistently enunciated. (Quorum formed.)
Factors such as ‘the area of the Division’, the density or sparsity of population ‘ and references to ‘disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance’ inserted by the previous Government in 1965, are contrary to the concept of equality of political rights and encourage departure from the quota of electors in a manner which makes the value of a citizen’s vote depend largely upon his geographical location.
The changes proposed by this Bill are designed to provide by legislative measures that, as far as may be practicable, the value of the vote of one citizen shall be equivalent to the vote of another and to give some meaningful application to the principle of one vote one value’ without unneccessarily restricting the Distribution Commissioners in proposing a redistribution. The existing 20 per cent permissible variation from the quota which allows a Division to have 50 per cent more electors than another Division in the same State and which was introduced in 1902 when Australia had a population of about 4 million, as against 13 million today, can no longer be tolerated in our society.
Section 24 of the Constitution provides that the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people. Thus, the Constitution itself ensures equality of representation between States based on the numbers of people resident in those States, a condition which the Australian Labor Party believes should also apply within the several States. Based on the population revealed at the last census. New South Wales for example is entitled to 45 members while Western Australia, which comprises nearly one-third of the whole of Australia, is entitled to 10 members. Obviously, the founders of the Constitution did not take cognizance of the area, density or sparsity of population and disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance, in framing section 24.
It is evident that the area of Divisions and the density or sparsity of population in Divisions cannot be uniformly applied throughout the States. The Government believes that people should be the controlling factor, not only for determining the representation for the States in the House of Representatives, but also for determining Divisions within those States. The Government regards this Bill as a major piece of our legislative program, and in re-submitting it we expect that the Parliament will adopt a responsible approach and that the measure will be afforded a speedy passage through the Senate. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– I know it is the normal practice for the Opposition to move the adjournment of the second reading debate on a Bill that has just been introduced, but this Bill has been before the Senate previously. It has not changed. The arguments for and against it were canvassed 3 months ago. On this occasion the
Government indicated in the House of Representatives the urgency which it attaches to the Bill by allowing only 2 speakers from each side before moving the gag. So that we cannot be accused of frustrating or delaying major pieces of legislation we are prepared to take a vote on this Bill today. I will be the only speaker on the Bill on behalf of the Liberal Party because if the Bill were debated in a month’s time I have reason to believe that it would receive the same fate as it would today. So to delay its consideration is not warranted.
When this Bill was before the Senate on the previous occasion I stated the attitude of the Opposition quite clearly. I said then:
If we succeed in defeating this Bill and the Government wants to bring it forward again in 3 months time we will vote against the Bill again.
That is precisely the situation today; we will again vote against this Bill. If the Bill is defeated because of our actions the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) will then be able to hop into his imported sales-tax free white elephant and drive out to Yarralumla to see the Governor-General at 9 a.m. the following day, or earlier if he wishes, and tell him that he finds it impossible to govern. We in the Liberal Party do not wish to delay giving the Prime Minister this opportunity.
In seeking to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act the Government claims that it wishes to make the electoral system fair and equitable. What it fails to understand is that the present system is fair and equitable, because in December last year the Australian people voted for a Labor Government. This vote, I might add, comprised only 49.6 per cent of the total vote. That is all it received and yet with that vote it was able to gain S3 per cent of the seats. Surely that is fair and equitable. But the Government wants to make the provisions of the Act less fair. It wishes to change the legislation so that the Australian people do not have a fair chance of throwing the Labor Government out. It is difficult to see why the Government objects to a 20 per cent tolerance from the quota. The 20 per cent tolerance is not a mandatory requirement which binds the Electoral Commissioners and in fact it gives greater flexibility to them, as has been recently demonstrated in Western Australia where the State Act was amended by the State Labor Government to allow greater flexibility in the drawing up of State electoral boundaries.
There is little point in citing what has been done in other nations because no other country has precisely the same set of circumstances as we have. But, for those who wish to make such comparisons, there is little doubt that this country has an electoral system which has served it well and which had not been abused by any political party until this country was burdened with the Whitlam Government. It should be noted that under the present Electoral Act a party which receives SO per cent of the nation’s vote wins office. It should be noted also that there was only one occasion on which this did not apply, and that was in 1954 when the election was fought on boundaries drawn up in 1948 under a Labor administration. What happened then was that the sitting Labor members concentrated as many Labor voters as possible into their own electorates to preserve themselves. It was good for the sitting members but not necessarily good for the Labor Party, and it paid the penalty in 1954.
Under a fair system it took the Labor Party 23 years to gain office. For it the system obviously is not fair enough. Consequently it must now resort to electorate manipulation, subterfuge and deceit to remain in office. Mr Daly claims that the Government’s intentions in relation to the Electoral Act were well publicised and that it is carrying out what it told the Australian people the Labor Party would do. I suppose we should take some comfort from this factor because, on the surface at least, it appears that the Labor Government is intending to do something which it said it would do. This, of course, stands in stark contrast to many of the other promises which it made, for example, in the field of defence. The present Government stated that defence spending would not fall below 3.5 per cent of the gross national product, but now it has tumbled to 2.9 per cent. It also stands out in stark contrast to its promise in the field of education, namely, that there would be no reduction in grants made to independent schools. It stands out in contrast to the promise that the tax schedule would be revised, yet nothing has been done in that area.
There is, of course, a reason why the Government wishes to carry out this particular promise relating to the Electoral Act and not the other promises it made. The reason is that this Bill benefits the Labor Party. It does not benefit the Australian people. When governments are keen - in fact enthusiastic - to do something which involves their own preservation then all honourable senators should beware. The Government wishes to carry out a redistribution under terms and conditions that it believes would be more fair and acceptable to it. What must be remembered is that there is no requirement for a redistribution at this time, except in Western Australia where a determination has been issued following the last census and a redistribution is under way. Even here though there are ominous signs, because the Surveyor-General in Western Australia was not appointed as one of the electoral commissioners contrary to past practice and despite his availability. The only requirement for redistribution in the rest of the country is a political need.
This country has a history of infrequent redistributions and in a representative type of government this is desirable. It allows electors to be able to identify themselves with their member and the member himself is able to have a proper understanding of his electorate’s demands and needs. This would be lost if we were to start having redistributions whenever a government thinks it is necessary for political purposes instead of the criteria used in the past. Once we have a situation of a political party fiddling with the Commonwealth Electoral Act as soon as it gets into office, we will start a chain reaction. Whereas in the past we have all viewed the Electoral Act as fair and equitable, it will mean in the future that every party will believe the Electoral Act is there for its own purpose and not with the intention of allowing the Australian people to elect a Government that they prefer.
If a redistribution is held now it will still be necessary to hold a redistribution in 1977 following the 1976 census. Unlike the redistribution which the Government wishes to hold following changes to this Electoral Act, the 1977 redistribution would be a constitutional requirement similar to the present redistribution taking place in Western Australia. This claim is substantiated by Mr Mackerras in his article in ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ of 23 August 1973 in which he states that there will be a change of entitlement for seats in the States. The electoral boundaries that now apply have only been used for 2 elections - 1969 and 1972. These boundaries are as legal today as they were when the redistribution was made in 1968.
It is interesting to note the number of elections that have been fought on previous boundaries. In 1911 there was a census.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! Honourable senators are not allowed to converse with people in the gallery.
– I did not know that he was a person. For once the honourable member for Grayndler in another place (Mr Daly) is unable to indulge in his well known repartee. I have him cold. I repeat that in 1911 there was a census. A redistribution was held in 1912. Those boundaries were used for 4 elections covering the period 1913 to 1919. Another census was held in 1921. A redistribution was held in 1922 and those boundaries were used for 5 elections from 1922 to 1931. A redistribution was held in 1934 and these boundaries were used for 5 elections from 1934 to 1946. Three elections were fought on the boundaries drawn up in 1948, and 5 were fought on the boundaries drawn up in 1955. There has been a change in that we have moved to a 5-yearly census, but as the 1971 census shows, it is unlikely that this will mean a requirement for more frequent redistributions. The redistribution should still be necessary only after 10 years under the present Act and I believe that that is often enough. 1 conclude my remarks as I commenced them: We in the Liberal Party reject this legislation and will continue to vote against legislation associated with the Electoral Act when such legislation seeks to alter the impartiality of the Act as it has existed over the past 70 years. Should we be successful, the next step is then up to the Prime Minister. We do not shirk from allowing the Australian people an opportunity to pass judgment on the performance of the Government nor of ourselves.
– The Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) who is in charge of this Bill made the point during his second reading speech that the Government regards this Bill as a major piece of its legislative program. He went on to say: . . in resubmitting it we expect that the Parliament will adopt a responsible approach and that the measure will be afforded a speedy passage through the Senate.
Like Senator Withers, I can assure the Minister that the Bill can have a speedy passage through the Senate. As far as the Country Party is concerned, he can have it tonight. The present Opposition has always taken a responsible attitude to legislation that has come before the Senate. On 15 May 1973 when this Bill came before the Senate it was debated for over 9i hours, during which time there were 23 speakers from both sides of the Senate. All honourable senators from the Country Party spoke during the debate on this Bill. Members of the Country Party made abundantly clear what they thought of the Government’s proposals. Our opinion has not changed in the meantime.
I do not intend to go through all the ramifications of the Bill which the Country Party and, I believe, country people generally so steadfastly oppose. As I said, I believe that this was done adequately on the previous occasion. But the simple fact is that a general redistribution of electorates is neither necessary nor justified. The last census showed that a redistribution was necessary only in Western Australia. This is being undertaken at the present moment. I believe the Government is merely attempting to secure itself in office and that its arguments that electoral boundaries should be changed before the 1975 general election are mere subterfuge. The next redistribution according to the practice adopted by both Labor and non-Labor governments since Federation is due after the next census in 1976. My Parliament will continue to oppose vigorously any attempt to change this system. Therefore, we again oppose this legislation.
– I regret to inform the House that Senator Gair suffered a very painful but fortunately not a serious injury over the weekend and has not been able to attend the sitting of the Senate. Because of the fact that this Bill has very serious implications which are known to all honourable senators, because we wish to consider these matters with our leader and because he informs me that he intends to be here either tomorrow or the day after, I would ask for the indulgence of the Senate and move:
That the debate bc now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Before proceeding further, I wish to state on behalf of all honourable senators that I am sure it is with very deep regret that we hear of the accident of Senator Gair. We hope that it will not be long before he is restored to good health again.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Willesee) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to a change, with Her Majesty’s concurrence, in the Queen’s royal style and titles in Australia. Honourable senators will recall my statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on 1 May, in which this Bill was foreshadowed. It proposes that the Queen’s style and titles in Australia be ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories. Head of the Commonwealth’.
It is appropriate that such a change be made with the consent and approval of both of the Houses of the Parliament. It is they which, with Her Majesty, are able to express in form of law the appropriate description of the constitutional position of the Queen. I add that the royal style and titles as laid down in our legislation apply also in the States.
There are 2 changes in the proposed new style and titles from the present formulation. In the first place, the specific reference to the United Kingdom has been omitted. In the second, the reference ‘Defender of the Faith’ has been omitted. These changes have the Queen’s full concurrence.
The Queen’s present Australian style and titles were approved by the Australian Parliament in 1953 following a meeting in December 1952 in London between representatives of the Commonwealth countries of that time. (Quorum formed). Often during the course of the day Ministers and chairmen of committees are engaged industriously in preparing work. In their rooms they are able to listen to the speeches. I continue now. It was agreed in 1952 that each member country would have, as a standard element in its own style and titles, reference to the Queen’s Other Realms and Territories’ and to her title as ‘Head of the Commonwealth’ and that beyond that, each country would use a form of title to suit its own particular circumstances. At that time, the Australian Parliament approved the following formulation:
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Australia and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
The Bill now before the Senate retains, as honourable senators will see, the agreed standard phrases. But also it gives primary place to Her Majesty’s designation as Queen of Australia. This distinctive Australian form of style and title Her Majesty positively welcomes. It does not, since it is not necessary, make an individual reference to Her Majesty’s title as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The omission of ‘Defender of the Faith’, as was said on an earlier occasion, has the purpose of removing a reference which has no historical or constitutional relevance for Australia.
In accordance with agreement reached among the Prime Ministers and other representatives of Commonwealth countries in 1952, we have acquainted the governments of all countries which are members of the Commonwealth of our intention to change the Queen’s style and titles for Australia. We have done this not only for the countries which continue to recognise the Queen as head of State but also for the countries which are republics or have monarchies of their own. Her Majesty has indicated that, subject to the Bill giving effect to the proposed amendments being passed by both Houses, it would give her pleasure to approve the legislation personally and to sign the necessary proclamation. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Greenwood) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives as follows:
The House of Representatives returns tothe Senate the Bill intituled ‘A Bill for an act to amend the “Citizenship Act 1948-1969” ‘, and acquaints the Senate that the House of Representatives has disagreed to the amendment made by the Senate, but, in place thereof, has amended the Bill as indicated by the annexed Schedule. The House has also made an amendment in respect of Clause 5 as shown in the annexed Schedule.
The House of Representatives desires the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill in respect of the amendment disagreed to, and in respect of the amendment made to Clause5, and requests the concurrence of the Senate in the amendments made by the House.
Motion (by Senator Douglas McClelland) agreed to:
That the question be taken into consideration in the Committee of the Whole at the next day of sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to establish the Film and Television School as a statutory body with the status of a college of advanced education. It marks the culmination of 3 years extensive planning for a School which has found general support in the Parliament and from all sectors of film and television in Australia. Honourable senators will recall that an Interim Council for a National Film and Television School was appointed at the end of 1969 to advise the Government on the steps necessary to bring the School into operation. It carried out wide-ranging investigations and produced 3 reports which documented firm suport for the School from commercial film producers, the Federation of Commercial Television Stations, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Commonwealth Film Unit, guilds and unions, and educational institutions. The School was officially initiated in April 1972.
Negotiations have taken place with the Council of Macquarie University for the School to have a site of 5 acres on the University campus, but there will be no formal links with that institution. Professor Jerzy Toeplitz, former Rector of the renowned Polish Film School, has been appointed Foundation Director of the School. The intention is that the School will provide, at the highest levels, a wide range of training and experience for prospective creative workers in film and television. It will conduct full time courses in film and television production, and it is hoped that it wi;l become a centre for open school activities, which will include refresher courses, seminars and workshops for people involved in the film and television industry, in education, and for all film makers and video specialists in devoloping areas of audio-visual communications. The School will aim to meet the growing and changing needs of film and television in Australia and also to help our neighbours, for as the School becomes established we may expect it to offer training for overseas students particularly from New Zealand and the Pacific area.
Graduates of the School may expect to find employment in private film and television production, in government production agencies and in other areas connected with the communications media. Universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers and technical colleges, as well as many other institutions are increasingly seeking people qualified in areas of film and television production and education.
To ensure that the School gets the best instructors - the professionals whose livelihood is in film or television - many of the senior instructing staff will be employed under short term contracts so that their services may be gained between other professional engagements. Initially, the School will offer courses in the key areas of film and television production for directors, producers, writers, editors, and cameramen. As it develops, courses may be offered for unit managers, designers, media economists, writers on general film subjects, and communication theorists and technologists. The School should eventually develop facilities for post graduate study and other advanced research. Training will emphasise direct production experience with all the problems and demands that accompany professional productions. Central to the School will be model film and television studios, and there will be full opportunity for on-the-job training in professional situations. Many sectors of the film and television industry, both government and private, have indicated already that they will make available facilities for such training, subject to equitable arrangements being worked out with managements and unions.
Close collaboration will be sought with the industry, and the location of the School on Sydney’s north side relates to the presence there of a very large concentration of production houses, television stations and laboratories with which the School expects to be in constant touch. The School will work closely with educational authorities, the Film and Television Board of the Australian Council for the Arts, the Department of the Media and related agencies, and with the many bodies representing professional and community interests in film and television. It will also seek close association with the other arts, .and bodies such as the National Institute ot Dramatic Art, and schools of music, art and design. It is hoped that, in this way, the School wi’l not only turn out competent graduates in the techniques of film and television production, but artistic and imaginative people with a vigorous appreciation of the arts and humanities.
The School will co-ordinate the granting of financial assistance to organisations and institutions concerned with film and television training and education in Australia. Particular encouragement may be given to organisations and institutions wishing to try out pilot training schemes, workshops, and activities likely to lead to the development of other specialist facilities and the opportunity for community groups to gain experience in using the media. As well, the School will continue to provide grants-in-aid to people who may benefit through overseas experience, study, or training which is not available in this country. It will provide a resource centre for developing new ideas, techniques and methods and will be ready to make its studios available to producers for training, research and special productions. It will also collaborate in collating, disseminating and publishing data likely to assist the development of film and television in Australia.
The Prime Minister has announced the names of those who will form the first permanent Council of the Film and Television School. The Bill provides that when the School is fully operational the Council will consist of 5 members appointed by the Governor-General, the Director of the School, 2 members elected by the staff from among their number, 2 students elected by the student body, and 5 members elected by Convocation of the School. The Convocation will consist of graduates of the School, all members and past members of the staff of the School, all persons who were members of the Interim Council, all members and past members of the Council, and representatives of all sectors of Australian film and television. I believe that the School will provide an important stimulus to film and television in Australia and I commend the Bill to the Senate.
– The Liberal Party Opposition does not oppose the Film and Television School Bill. It welcomes the legislation. This Bill stems from initiatives taken by the LiberalCountry Party Government in 1969. Its purpose, as was stated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy), is to establish a Film and Television School as a statutory body with the status of a college of advanced education. An Interim Council for a National Film and Television Training School was appointed in 1969, to advise the Government on the steps necessary to bring the School into being. Mr Peter Coleman, MLA, was appointed chairman and the members were Mr Phillip A. Adams, Mrs Dudley Erwin, Mr Stanley G. Hawes, M.B.E., Mr Barry O. Jones, Sir Robert Madgwick, O.B.E., and Sir Ian Wark, C.M.G., C.B.E. The first report was presented in November 1970, the second report was presented in March 1971 and the third and final report was presented in February 1972. These reports indicated firm support for the School from commercial film producers, the Federation of Commercial Television Stations, the Australian Broadcasting -Commission, the Commonwealth Film Unit, guilds and unions, and educational institutions. The legislation is based fundamentally on the recommendations in these reports.
The venue for the proposed School is on the campus of Macquarie University but it will have no formal links with that institution. The foundation director is to be Professor Jerzy Toeplitz, the visiting Professor of film at La Trobe University. I understand that he has taken up his duties this month. The intentions of the School are very good. It is to provide a wide range of training and experience for prospective creative workers in film and television. It is to be a centre for open school activities, refresher courses, seminars and workshops for people involved in the film and television industry. Graduates from the School will find employment in private film and television productions and in Government production agencies. There also is a demand in universities, colleges of advanced education and teachers and technical colleges for people qualified in areas of film and television production and education.
In every respect this is commendable legislation. It provides a facility which will be of undoubted value to film and television interests in Australia, and promotion of the arts in general. We welcome and support the Bill. In a spirit of co-operation in order that legislation which does not involve controversy may be passed with expedition, I indicate that the Liberal Party supports the Bill, andi has not taken the usual procedure of taking the adjournment of the debate immediately after the Minister had delivered the Second Reading Speech.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the Film and Television School Bill and is pleased to facilitate its passage through the Senate. There is, however, one thing I would like to say. Many of us had high hopes that the new policies on arts embarked upon by the Government would bring about a new era in the arts in Australia. I regret to say - I asked a question about this today but I will not refer to it now - that I am being inundated with complaints from people associated with the arts who say that control of a number of these developments, particularly through the Australian Council for the Arts, appears to have been placed in the hands of a -small minority in whom many of them do nol have a great deal of confidence. I am concerned also about suggestions in a number oi newspapers which indicate that there is unnecessary extravagance in spending on the part of some of the new appointees. I do not want to labour the question. Like other honourable senators I am interested in the arts but 1 am not an expert on the arts in Australia. However I could not help but he concerned when a wide variety of people, including distinguished Australians like Sir Robert Helpmann, said that they were gravely concerned about what was going on. I urge the Government to look into these matters and ensure that development of the arts in the future will be what they want it to be.
– The television industry in Australia is rapidly becoming a multi-million dollar industry, lt is of very great importance in many areas. It is obvious that commercial television is one of the focal points of advertising in these days. Within a few months products can be promoted to being the leading products in the nation purely by the expertise of some person in television presentation. In the arts, the upgrading of the minds of the people of Australia is very necessary, and certainly in education, all honourable senators will agree, the full potential of television has not yet been tapped. In earlier years some of us suggested the establishment of at least a television network to enable us not only to achieve a cassettetype educational survice for schools in the metropolitan area but also to bring the expertise of the highest quality of teaching to those in more remote areas, a matter of particular concern to my Party, the Australian Country Party. The whole ambit of the development of television and the performance and ability of those likely to contribute to the industry can be seen to be endorsed by this proposal of the Government to further the interests of the Australian Film and Television School. We agree with the proposal that the school should become a statutory corporation and should have the status of a college of advanced education. The prospect of Australia being able to offer this type of development to friendly nations, particularly New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries, indicates the way the Government is thinking that it may be able to assist those who are perhaps less fortunate than are we in Australia.
I endorse fully the sentiments expressed by Senator McManus for I am gravely concerned that some of the appointees may have particular affiliations which may cause some concern. I am concerned also about finance in this industry, for those who appear to think that they can utilise television in its most expensive form and still make a profit from it and those who find television a very rewarding field of employment all seem ‘o he fairly affluent in their ideas. However, television is with us to stay and it has a great future. I think the further development of a film and television school as proposed in this Bill is worthy of the support of the Senate.
– I thank honourable senators for their support of the Bill. I have noted again the remarks made by Senator McManus following what he said today especially in view of the spirit in which the whole of the Senate has welcomed this Bill. Those remarks which were intended to be constructive will be taken that way and passed to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in order they may be considered in the spirit in which they were made, that is, a constructive attempt to assist the development of the arts in Australia and to inhibit any extravagance or other undesirable features which might creep in to developments which are. welcomed on all sides.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 6, which states:
Subject to this Act, the School has power to do all things that arc necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions and, in particular, has power -
to enter into contracts;
to erect buildings;
to occupy, use and control any land or building owned or held under lease by the Commonwealth and made available for the purposes of the School;
to acquire, hold and dispose of real or personal property; and
to accept gifts, devises and bequests made to the School, whether on trust or otherwise, and to act as trustee of moneys or other property vested in the School upon trust.
It would appear that this is a complete statutory corporation. Will this clause give responsibility to the Minister and will it be included in the consideration that is to be given to the relationship between ministerial responsibility and such statutory corporations?
– A question was raised the other day in the Senate by, I think, Senator Byrne about the number of statutory corporations. Some concern was expressed then, as it has been on a number of previous occasions, about the proper relationship which should exist between the considerable number of statutory corporations, the Government and the Parliament. I recall that the question arose as to the relationship between statutory corporations and the Estimates Committees, and the Senate confirmed by a vote in the Senate as a whole the decision of an estimates committee of which, I think, Senator Rae was the chairman that, in effect, statutory corporations must be accountable to the parliamentary committee for their financial arrangements. The functions of the Film and Television School are set out in clause 6 of the Bill. There are very wide powers in the corporation to act in its own discretion. Clause 34 in Part VI- Staff states:
The School may employ such persons as are necessary for the purposes of this Act.
Clause 40 appears to provide for some requirement of approval by the Minister though that appears to be limited to the power to purchase and dispose of assets. All J can say in answer to the honourable senator’s question is that the statutory corporation seems to have extremely wide powers and to be independent largely of any kind of ministerial control or direction and therefore free to that extent of parliamentary control in the sense that the Minister is responsible to Parliament.
– It is completely accountable to the Minister for the operations of the school.
– lt does seem - and 1 do not think we can enter deeply into the question - that the corporation is fairly free and in fact is completely independent of any ministerial or parliamentary supervision. The parliamentary supervision would certainly be over the amount of finance which may be allocated to the corporation. However, in answer generally to what was put by Senator O’Byrne, this would naturally come under consideration along with the various other statutory corporations which would be looked at following the question posed by Senator Byrne and the numerous other questions which have been raised both inside and outside the House. This is a question of statutory corporations generally rather than this particular corporation. One would need to consider the conspectus of statutory corporations before arriving at any conclusion about any particular one.
– I refer to Part III- the Council of the School. I would like the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) to elucidate what is to be regarded as a defect or irregularity’ as shown in clause 8 (6). That sub-clause states:
The appointment or election of a member is noi invalid by reason only of a defect or irregularity in connection with his appointment or election.
– I was about to say that this is a fairly common provision. Perhaps it is not so common. Generally under the Companies Act and elsewhere these provisions are aimed not to prevent the proper operation of a body because there may be some invalidity in the election or appointment of a person. Generally they provide in substance that the acts of a conference, board, commission or other body are valid notwithstanding that there might be some defect in the election or appointment of a member. Here the provision is that the appointment or election of a member is not invalid by reason only of a defect or irregularity in connection with that appointment or election. This goes somewhat further to protect the appointment itself. I think that that is probably reasonable enough in relation to an appointment by the Governor-General. If one can imagine something going wrong it is a simple matter of doing it again. As to an election itself, the general principle is rather that the validity of the acts of the person and the body are protected and generally there is some provision for inquiry into the election. This is so in a number of areas. I do not know how general it is. I do not know whether any honourable senator can assist. It seems to me to protect a person’s appointment or election even though there may be some defect or irregularity.
– Of a minor nature?
– It does not say so. I suppose it means that one could move to prevent the appointment or election if there were some defect. But once the appointment or election had been made - unless I can find something else which qualifies this - it seems that the appointment or election cannot be attacked.
– That seems a bit wide.
- Senator Rae is suggesting by interjection that that may seem a bit wide. I would assume that this would be a somewhat standard provision. But rather than hold up this measure on this point I suggest to honourable senators that it be allowed to proceed, especially as I am now advised that that provision is similar to or identical with a provision incorporated by the former Government in the Australian Film Development Corporation Act. That is not a reason for not correcting this if something ought to be corrected. But I undertake to have this looked at. If it is a precedent it ought to be looked at to see whether this is a proper provision to have in relation to such bodies. In relation to rural industry bodies there is provision for inquiries. They did not have these inquiries by regulation vested in the High Court. This was unsatisfactory. Probably there ought to be some kind of disputed elections mechanism, perhaps by the Superior Court or some other body which could deal with the election. But I undertake to have a look at this if honourable senators will allow the Bill to pass.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Consideration of House of Representatives amendment.
This Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.
House of Representatives amendment-
Omit the clause, substitute the following clause: 2. This Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on 17 June, 1973.’
– I move:
– Would the Minister explain it?
– I mention that prior to the States Grants (Universities) Bill being called on Senator Rae and I had a short discussion. In explanation of my motion I point out that this Bill concerns the provision of grants to universities for needy students. As honourable senators will be aware this Bill was passed by the Senate with certain amendments which I think were moved by Senator Rae. The Government has expressed a willingness to accept these amendments. Since the Bill was introduced a second Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1973 which concerns special grants for increasing the number of social workers in training at universities in Sydney and Melbourne, has been passed. Therefore it is necessary to deem the first Bill to have come into force before the second Bill. To enable this to be done a further amendment to the first Bill is now necessary. That is the amendment which is now before us. The amendment to this clause requires the Bill to be considered by the Senate in Committee and to be accepted a second time.
– The Opposition supports the amendment to the States Grants (Universities) Bill. It does not in any way wish to hold up the early introduction of this legislation. I simply comment that this amendment is necessary, as Senator Douglas McClelland has said, because the amendments that were made by the Senate at the end of the last session were not able to be dealt with by the House of Representatives as it had risen. It is arising out of that set of circumstances that this amendment has become necessary. We support the amendment. We are glad that the House of Representatives has seen fit to accept the amendments which were proposed by this chamber. We support the making available of the funds provided in the legislation.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 23 August (vide page 166).
Proposed new Clause 6.
– The Government does not accept the proposed amendment. This is covered broadly by the previous objections which were made to the amendments which have been proposed and, notwithstanding the importance of the provisions which exist in the law about hijacking, this amendment should not be made an exception. The proposals which treat hijacking as a special exception, we think, ought not to be accepted. The Government is not unmindful of the importance of preventing persons unlawfully taking or exercising control of an aircraft or attempting destruction or serious damage to such an aircraft while in flight. At present a convention is going on in Rome at which Australia is represented.
– There is a conference going on in Rome with a view to a convention.
– I thank the honourable senator, lt is a convention in the lay sense which technically is a conference hoping that a convention in the technical sense will emerge. All sorts of proposals have been put forward in the hope that there will emerge a means of providing for stricter means of implementation of the universal desire to see that aircraft are not hijacked. Australia is taking an active part.
I do not suppose that it would be revealing any secrets to say that we wish to pursue a very strict approach provided that it would be generally acceptable. That is the way in which we wish the law to develop. We think that it would not be desirable, and certainly not acceptable, if this conference determined that this crime, which is one of the most vicious in its various forms which can affect humanity, should nevertheless be dealt with by the imposition of capital punishment. We should take all means to prevent such an occurrence.
Frankly, I might have some stronger views than have most honourable senators on the matter of the payment of ransom in these cases. In many ways it has been a great error to pay ransom because I think that is an invitation to hijacking. However hard such an attitude may seem in a particular case - an honourable senator in such a case would want to pay any price if his own children or members of his own family were involved - nevertheless in the general public interest, as with cases of kidnapping, the law ought to be as strong as it can be that no one should be permitted to pay any ransom. In this way one can hope to take the profit out of kidnapping and similarly, out of hijacking. I am diverting a little.
– I would be very pleased if the honourable senator would address himself to the question of this sort of action taking place in the course of what is called liberation movements, or what have you, which is a matter which has caused a considerable problem in international debate on the subject.
– It presents a very great problem. In the extradition field we have an exception in regard to political offences which I think should be maintained. The argument arises sometimes whether the hijacking is a political offence or an ordinary criminal offence. The reality is, I suppose, that it is often both a political matter and a criminal matter. Perhaps we will move at some stage to have a definition different from that which we have at present. An assassination committed in the course of a political movement, some revolution or political action may, nevertheless, be regarded as a crime. It may be that we will evolve rules by which something will be regarded as virtually purely political in the nature of a political offence or substantially a political offence even though having also the characteristics of an ordinary crime. One may say that the extraditing country - that is the country where the person is present and from which he is being requested - may take the view that it is substantially criminal rather than political although there may be a political element in it. We have not drawn these fine distinctions and there is no necessity to do so at this stage. It is perhaps pertinent that 2 extradition Bills are next on the notice paper of the Senate.
Dealing with the question of punishment, wc see really no reason to make a special exception. This is governed by the general principal that however dreadful the offences may be one can suggest greater crimes as we saw the other night. Minds may differ but it is profitless to say that some particular crime should be made a special exception.
– I wish to speak very briefly in response to what was an invitation from Senator Webster when this matter was last before the Committee. Senator Webster, while I was speaking, interjected in relation to conditions in prisons. Perhaps I did not take the interjection as seriously as I should have. Later, Senator Webster said:
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 -
– Order! The honourable senator is not addressing himself to the issue before the Committee. The honourable senator should be addressing himself to Senator Jessop’s amendment and he is not in order in referring to a previous debate.
– I am referring to the general question of the death penalty and the alternative of imprisonment. It is to that point that I wish to address my remarks. 1 should like to conclude this quotation from Senator Webster’s speech. He said:
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.
Then he added:
But that is another subject.
I should simply like to indicate that, whilst 1 oppose the death penalty and support the Death Penalty Abolition Bill and intend to vote against the amendment that has been moved by Senator Jessop, I believe that there is a very strong case for considering the point in relation to this matter that was raised by Senator Webster and other honourable senators. We have the situation where one of the common arguments against the abolition of the death penalty is that if it is abolished criminals who have committed crimes for which the death penalty might be appropriate will in due course be let out of goal.
– And there is the cost to the State.
– lt costs the State a lot of money and there are other questions such as that. Senator Webster raised what I regard as a very important matter, but perhaps it is a matter for debate at a more appropriate time. During one of the divisions Senator Murphy and I discussed the possibility of the Institute of Criminology being able to conduct some investigation, carry out some real research into what can be done to reform the prisons in this country. The extent to which this is a Commonwealth matter and a State matter is one of those areas of clouding. But quite clearly, one thing that the Commonwealth could do is to provide the funds and the means so that some real research could be carried out into this aspect of our legal system or our system of the enforcement of laws in Australia. I strongly support any suggestion that research should be undertaken in this field. Our penal systems in Australia need development and improvement. Many things could be done to make them more effective both for the individual and for society. But in my view, none of those arguments outweighs my basic objection to the imposition of the death penalty for any offences in a society such as ours, and I propose to continue to vote against amendments such as the one moved by Senator Jessop.
– I support Senator Jessop’s amendment. I have spoken on 2 other amendments which have been moved to this Bill and have given my utmost support to them. I do so again this evening because hijacking is becoming far more frequent than has been the case in the past. It is endangering more and more lives and one wonders where it will stop if we do not have greater deterrents for it. Internationally, we have been very fortunate so far regarding hijacks, as very few lives have been lost and no plane blown out of the sky. But where will it stop if they become far more frequent and if the penalty is merely a few years in prison? There is very little deterrent to some radical person who, for many strange reasons, suddenly decides to hijack an aircraft and goes to the extreme of destroying it. This could .result in the taking of the lives of more than hundreds of people in the case of a Jumbo jet - all innocent victims of action taken by one radical person.
I personally would like to see the situation where there was an international agreement which provided that capital punishment was the minimum punishment as well as the maximum punishment for anybody who commits murder in hijacking an aircraft. We have seen planes destroyed, and we have also seen situations where people have been kept in an aircraft and not for only a few hours. There has been the traumatic and fearful experience in flight of wondering whether they were going to get down on to the ground again and also of being bottled up in an aircraft under adverse conditions. This has happened to young children and elderly people. Even though no lives were lost immediately as a result of these hijacks, perhaps many lives have come to a premature end because of this frightening experience.
I believe quite frankly that this is another area where the maximum penalty should apply because unless we, as a nation, and I would hope other nations apply the maximum penalty in this area I am fearful that we will see far more hijacking and many lives lost in the future than we have seen in the past. I support Senator Jessop’s amendment and hope that the Committee will carry it.
– During the course of this debate I have opposed the provision for capital punishment at all stages of debate on the Bill and I have opposed any departures from that principle in the particular amendments which have been moved. This amendment deals with a modern horrifying exercise - that of attempting to hijack an aircraft which immediately puts the complement of the plane-
– It is murder in the course of hijacking; destroying an aircraft in flight.
– That is right. It immediately creates horror in the mind of anybody who contemplates this situation. Of course, this is a most modern offence, and for that reason it has attracted the patronage of distorted minds - those people who for political purposes or for private gain have resorted to hijacking in order to exact their demands. But once you start to categorise offences which will or will not attract capital punishment, then immediately you may persuade those of criminal ingenuity to devise alternative methods of exacting their demands which may be more horrifying even than the ones we are now considering. I trust that I personally have no criminal propensities, but in an attempt to exact demands it would not be beyond my ingenuity to devise what could be even more horrifying than even hijacking and destroying an aircraft.
As we read the newspapers from day to day I think that we are shocked by the ingenuity that is displayed by the criminal or the perverted mind in an attempt to achieve its ends. As I say, you may drive such people to resort to something else which may be more horrifying once you prescribe capital punishment for this offence. In those circumstances I think that this type of thing, in itself, can carry the elements of danger. I think that if we are going to adopt the general principle we should adopt it in toto without departures and without qualifications.
– That argument could be used for any criminal sentence at all.
– Of course there is a point beyond which right reason does not take us. But in the case of capital punishment, the general principle having been stated, I think it is prudent that we should observe it as a general and universal proposition. To use a term that I used previously, once you enter into the field of a hierarchy of offences, it is an interminable field, it is a lane without an end, and it would merely mean that from time to time, as ingenuity demanded it, we would be adding new offences to create the departure that we have in mind. In those circumstances I still support the general proposition. Whilst acknowledging the attitude of those who see in this modern circumstance the most horrifying situation and sharing their sensitivity on that point, 1 do not depart from the general proposition and I find myself unable to support the amendment.
– The Committee is debating the proposition that a new clause be added to the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. I think it is important that we should note the wording of that clause. It reads:
This Act does not apply to or in relation to the offence of murder when committed -
for the purpose of, or in the course of, unlawfully taking or exercising control of an aircraft or while unlawfully exercising control of an aircraft; or
by an act or omission wilfully causing destruction of or serious damage to such aircraft in flight.
It is fair to say that this provision is quite an innovation. I ‘ imagine we would not have been debating such a motion some 20 years ago. Whether a hijacking is for political means, means of terrorism or means of exacting money from a government or a private person, there has been a proliferation over the years of the act of murder in the course of taking control of an aircraft or in causing serious damage to an aircraft. I mentioned earlier in the debate that I only wish that I was one who could see a straight black and white situation in relation to the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. I am afraid I doubt very much whether those individuals who have said that the death penalty should be totally abolished and who take the attitude that we must retain the sanctity of human life really believe it in their own hearts. I think their belief could be tested in relation to a number of occurrences at this point of time. But I reiterate that I wish I could be one who could say that he has such a great belief in the sanctity of human life that he never wishes to see a human life disposed of. Well, I certainly dislike to see human life lost, but in many instances those who pose as human beings are nothing more than animals. It may be a good thing if the community were rid of such animals.
Let us look at one or two of the situations that we see before us today. Take the problem of hijacking, for example. Were we to be involved or were those close to us to be involved in such an incident I wonder whether the sanctity of human life should be our greatest consideration. I wonder what those honourable senators who have spoken in this debate tonight would do if there was a peephole big enough .to poke a good rifle through in the bank chamber in Stockholm where 4 people are hanging on ropes while the man who is attempting to extort money from the community decides whether he will kill them. Those people have been locked up in the one room for 4 days without any facilities. What would be the action of those people who say that they would always preserve the sanctity of human life if they had a rifle and a peephole available. I bet that not one of them, including honourable senators who have spoken tonight, would not, in defence of the 4 people being held, try to take the life of their captor and save them. If I were in a position to know where the 2 children from South Australia are at the present time - I do not know what that situation may be - I feel that I would much rather see the kidnapper lose his life than I would see the 2 children lose their lives. Indeed, I tested this proposition in relation to treason during the last occasion on which this matter was before the Senate.
– Order! Senator Webster, will you get back to the amendment before the Committee?
– What I am saying has the greatest relevance. Perhaps I could assist you, Mr Temporary Chairman, in seeing the position that I wish to argue. The point argued in relation to hijacking is that this Parliament must preserve the sanctity of human life. Mr Temporary Chairman, I think you will see the point that I am making; prompt me if you do not. The argument being advanced is that we must preserve the sanctity of human life in any circumstances. For instance, let those honourable senators who are likely to vote against this amendment imagine themselves sitting in an aircraft in which perhaps the stewardess has just been murdered, which is the only circumstance about which we are talking. The effect of the proposed new clause will be to provide that this Act will not apply to or in relation to the offence of murder when committed in certain circumstances. If one of the honourable senators to whom I referred were sitting in an aisle seat on an aircraft in which a hijacker who had a bomb in his hand, as apparently they often do, had executed some member of the staff, would that honourable senator say that he would not take that person’s life because of his great regard for the sanctity of human life when not taking his life would result in the aircraft plummeting down with the loss of another 400 lives?
– What about Lieutenant Calley?
– There we have an honourable senator, in the great traditional socialist style, bringing into the debate a matter for the purpose of berating someone. Here we have an honourable senator, who obviously would support the Labor socialist Government’s suggestion that a soldier should be able to stop and make a decision as to whether he should take the direction of an officer in time of war. He is the type of individual who makes that sort of statement and he then condemns something which has taken place in a war in Vietnam, lt is very interesting that the honourable senator should make a comment in relation to treason. If I may say so, some honourable senators have experienced prisoner-of-war camps. Knowing the circumstances of his case, I said this to an honourable senator who had experienced prison camp life: ‘Senator, you obviously have a great regard for the sanctity of human life. If one of your fellow prisoners in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp gave information that led to the death of some of your fellow prisoners, what action would you take?’ His answer to me was as I expected. He said ‘We had a person like that in our prison and we were part of a group appointed to take his life’. There was no sanctity of human life involved in that instance because the individual led such a life that he deserved to lose his life in the interests of his fellow prisoners. I believe that in our community at the present time hijacking surely is one of the most violent of crimes. Senator Jessop’s amendment provides that this Act shall not apply to or in relation to the offence of murder when committed for the purpose of hijacking an aircraft or causing serious damage to it. I support the amendment.
– I did not intend to enter into this debate until I heard the remarks of Senator Webster. He said initially that there is no position of black and white in relation to the matter of capital punishment. But he has been on the black side ever since this debate started because he has consistently voted against all aspects of the Bill. He would kill any person for any crime in relation to which we are seeking to deny the State the right to carry out the death penalty. Senator Webster spoke about hijackers. It is true that this is a very heinous crime. But I challenge any honourable senator, particularly Senator Webster, to say that the persons who initiate the plans to carry out such a crime would be deterred by the fact that the Australian Commonwealth had provision for the death penalty to be carried out. There is no deterrent in relation to these crimes at all ‘because in 99.9 per cent of cases the people concerned are operating at a terrorist level because of their attitude towards a government, and they believe they are doing some good by carrying out their hijacking.
It is true that certain people hijack aircraft for ransom, but in my view the State does not have the right, in the cold calculated situation of a trial, to take that person’s life because it does not contribute anything at all to society by so doing. Senator Webster’s attitude is that he would kill them all. His attitude in this debate was clear. It was that it would not matter under what circumstances the crime was committed, he would kill the offender. I suggest that Senator Webster would make an ideal hangman. It makes me sick in my stomach to hear him say things that he said in this debate. Obviously, he would be the person to carry out the next act of capital punishment if it is ever carried out again in Australia. Tonight we are in a position to pass a Bill that will abolish the death penalty. Up until the time when Senator Webster rose to speak, the level of debate was very high. I respect the views of many honourable senators who have spoken in relation to this subject. Certainly, I do not respect a man who uses a situation involving one of our members who was a prisoner of war. That is an entirely different situation from trying a man before a jury, calculating the crime, and making a decision. Of course, there are situations in which persons have ben forced to take lives in self defence. But they would not have enjoyed it. They would not have done it at the calculated level of a court trial or in the manner that Senator Webster has indicated. I was trained to kill. I did not enjoy this at all. I came home from a war a pacifist because I had seen men die.
They had not know what they were fighting for. I am still a pacifist. That is my attitude in relation to war and in relation to any trial that may take place in the courts of this country. I believe it is wrong for us to force the death penalty on persons as a mandatory punishment. A judge will have to impose that penalty, irrespective of what he may think in relation to the case of, for example, a hijacker. He is forced ‘by law to put that black cap on his head and declare that a man shall be executed. All the circumstances associated with the minds of these persons are not taken into account. We will have a very twisted society if the views of Senator Webster are imposed on the laws of this country.
– It is not often that I claim a special right to speak but in regard to this amendment, I have a special speech to make. It is some 7 or 10 years since my government introduced legislation to make it a capital offence to attempt by hijacking or other means of violence to cause death on an aircraft. I then, as a privileged member of the Liberal Party had a right to determine my individual vote. I voted against that penalty because it extended the law of capital punishment which had been reserved up until that time only for actual achieved murder. I refused to give my vote to extend capital punishment to an attempt to murder. I pause for a moment to indicate that I face a number of honourable senators who do not enjoy that privilege of freedom of individual vote, honourable senators who, in a matter of this excruciating conscience vote, speak from the book of Caucus. That excites no admiration in me.
I go on to say that some reproached me when I was a Minister of the former Government for observing the decision of Cabinet reached in confidential committee. Members of that committee are all sworn to respect the confidences of each other. So long as you remain on that committee you are both by law and by conscience bound to put the Government point of view. But now I have regained my freedom from that situation.
– The honourable senator did not want to lose the salary.
– Do not interject on me in tawdry terms. When I am a free member of the Parliament I act as a free man, unlike the members of the Labor Party who, when they are ostensibly free men, act as Caucus cronies even in respect of a matter so important as capital punishment. J hope that I have done somthing to allay the criticism and instill an understanding of faithful parliamentary duty. Having voted in Cabinet against my government’s proposal to extend the law regarding capital punishment to an attempt to hijack an aircraft, I point out that when you are not a member of a government you have a duty to vote on the floor of the House according to your individual judgment. I appeal to the members of Caucus who are not members of the Cabinet to give expression to this principle in matters of capital punishment.
– But we do not believe in capital punishment.
– I doubt whether the honourable senator who has interjected believes in anything decent or anything that would defend the community. I have heard the denigration from Senator Poyser of Senator Webster. Often I hear Senator Poyser denigrated and criticised in debates in the Senate. I do not join in this because I recognise that the honourable senator has his values that are admirable. But they are severely handicapped when he joins in a denigration of a man like Senator Webster whose whole life has been dedicated to humanitarian ism and a jealous defence and betterment of the community of which he is masterful member. I repudiate entirely the idea that Senator Poyser should be listened to when he criticises Senator Webster because Senator Webster’s achievement in the cause of humanitarianism is outstanding by comparison with any other member of the Senate. He does not resort to squeamish excuses when it comes to a courageous decision.
The question is: Are you for the community or are you for the criminal? We have the case of a criminal using all the advantages of a modern mechanism as typified by aircraft; he may be holding up to 400 hostages to that diabolical criminal intent. We are posed with the problem of saying what should happen to the man who has taken advantage of that situation. Such a man may be found guilty only after having passed through all the procedures we have created to ensure justice. He is protected from being convicted where there is any reasonable doubt. Capital punishment may be applied only to the last one of 100 diabolical murders. Mercy is extended in any case in which a vestige of ground can be found for it. If a man has taken 40 or 400 lives, after passing through all these procedures, only then does the question arise as to whether his life should be taken because of his mean, contemptible abuse of all the advantage that he has in using a bomb in a modern means of communication such as an aircraft. Senator Poyser denies the justice of then imposing capital punishment. Should we say that the community is then denied the right to execute the penalty after proof of criminality beyond all reasonable doubt and after a merciful government has reviewed the sentence and can find not the slightest reason for mercy? Senator Poyser would deny the community the right to exact the capital forfeiture in that extremity because he says that it is not a deterrent.
I say with all friendship and respect that it is presumption beyond pardon for Senator Poyser to pitch his opinion on that question against all the experience of the criminal world. Those who have defended criminals on a capital charge know whether they feel an influence of deterrence when they face a trial that may end on the gallows. For a deliberate murder such as one involved in the hijacking of an aircraft, not one executed on the impulse of passion and not one executed on impulse in a violent situation of confrontation - a cold blooded hijacking of a modern mechanism, an aircraft, leading to the death of innocent passengers as a matter of deliberate, planned, cold blooded murder - the Government of mercy would not exact the forfeiture. In my opinion, this Parliament does itself no credit by denying the community’s agency - the government and the law courts - that final penalty in an era when this crime has great potential for increase. I believe that any member who votes against this amendment fails to realise the importance of this Parliament - the properly elected spokesman of this community - to make its judgment on important matters. If the Committee deprives the community of that last defence for women and perhaps children - innocent passengers - against a malicious, deliberate criminal planning hijacker, I say that it marks a great step in the decadence of Parliament.
– I wish to address myself to the amendment mainly because of the arguments which have been produced in the debate. I made clear my attitude on the abolition of the death penalty when I spoke during the second reading debate. I agree with Senator Webster that it is not possible for the matter to be all black and white. I believe in the abolition of the death penalty as it has applied in the past. I voted for the second reading of the Bill, but if we remove something that has stood in the law for so long we should, as provided in the amendment, retain the necessary precaution at least for a period in these very special areas, that is, the capacity of society to exact the extreme penalty, particularly in relation to crimes of this type that have as their basis the terrorising of the whole community. Firstly, I disagree with the arguments advanced by my colleague Senator Byrne who suggested that if we retain the death penalty for the crime of hijacking we will force these people to use their enormous ingenuity to find an even more shocking crime to perpetuate upon the community. If we accept that argument we should abolish all laws and all penalties, otherwise we would be forcing people to use their ingenuity to commit more shocking crimes. He suggested that we should not impose the death penalty on somebody who secretly and deliberately poisoned the whole of a city by poisoning, say, the source of Melbourne’s water supply because he wants to be more ingenious than the perpetrator of the crime of hijacking an aircraft.
I turn to Senator Poyser’s argument that the death penalty does not in any circumstances act as a deterrent. That is an opinion and a view which is often expressed. I do not share it. I believe that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to the man who kills on impulse or who kills without intent almost, but I am certain that if a man is planning the awfully intricate details that are necessary to hijack an aircraft he at some stage gives some cognisance to what will happen if he is caught. If this were not so, why do so many habitual criminals - housebreakers and burglars - never carry a gun? They know that the penalty is far greater if they are armed at the scene of a housebreaking or a burglary. So they never go armed. They take cognisance of the penalty.
Not being a criminal, I cannot speak with authority. Senator Poyser suggested that nobody would take into account the penalty that is to be imposed upon him. I do not accept that argument. Even if the retention of the death penalty deterred only one man from slaughtering innocent people in the process of hijacking an aircraft, I think it is wise chat the penalty be retained. I consider that one innocent life is far more valuable and of greater sanctity than that of the person who can be proven in a court of law to have killed somebody in the process of a hijacking enterprise, whether it is for capital gain or to exert a political or a terrorist pressure on the community to attain anything at all.
I do not agree with the idea that because one is for the abolition of the death penalty in the law as we have known it in the past it cannot be retained in certain specified areas and that there cannot be resource to it in extreme cases. If that were not so, why do we parcel the crime of murder into different degrees? Why do we have a difference between the crime of manslaughter, when there is no intent, and the crime of murder? Of course, we have that in the law now and it works reasonably successfully. Those innovations in the law took place over the centuries. It is not to be said that the law has been destroyed because different degrees of murder have been brought into the administration of the law. In some countries, for particular crimes’ of passion, there is compassion in the administration of the law. A man might murder somebody who is destroying his whole family structure or who is caught in an illicit relationship with his wife. In some countries the extreme penalty is not exacted in those circumstances. I stand for that, and I stand for the alleviation of this penalty for many of the crimes for which the death sentence is imposed and is almost automatically never carried out.
I do not stand for the idea, as I said during the second reading debate, that we should abolish the penalty in some of the instances that have been brought to our attention. Certain international political crimes are almost military actions and sometimes are military actions. Should we, as the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, suggested, differentiate between these crimes and not make them civil offences? Perhaps some agreement under international law is the only solution. But we have not got that solution yet. What would happen if we conducted the Olympic Games in Australia and found that some people, for the purpose of a political struggle in another country, slaughtered other people who were guilty of no crime except that of being leading athletes in their own country and having no interest in the politics of even their own country? What would happen if those athletes were slaughtered by armed brigands? Should not those brigands be immediately arrested, tried under the terms of a military court and, if found guilty, executed?- Only in recent months innocent people were killed in order to obtain the release of other people who had committed the crime of brutal murder in the course of what was almost a military action.
I maintain that until we find a better solution there is at least the curbing influence of knowing that people so minded cannot escape with their lives when they perpetrate a crime such as that. That does not make me a hater of mankind or a supporter of the death penalty as we have known it. I remind Senator Poyser that 1 voted for the motion for the second reading of the Bill and that I believe in the abolition of the death penalty as we have known it. However, the crime of hijacking which is being dealt with in the debate on this clause is in a special category. We are not hideous hangmen simply because we propose to retain the power of society to exercise this penalty in an extreme area such as this. I do not think it is fair to level that accusation against Senator Webster in this instance. I believe that we have to suggest some other alternative in order to deter criminals.
Senator Murphy said to the Senate that he did not consider hijacking to be as serious an offence as selling dope - heroin and cocaine - to young people. I differ with him. At least we are trying to teach young people not to become involved in this traffic. If they do become involved in it, there is some measure of self-involvement. However much drug users may become unable to control their desires for drugs, they are warned that it is habit forming. We try to deter that crime in advance by educating the people who may become involved. That does not mean that I would be merciful towards a drug pusher. A person who merely buys a ticket to travel in an aircraft has no choice. He is not involved in any way at all. He may be the father of a large family which is dependent for their success in life and for their future on his efforts and so on, yet he is destroyed. He may be a member of the crew earning his living, doing his job. He is the same as a man who is innocently working as a plumber, a tram conductor or in any other occupation. Somebody might walk into a tram and threaten to shoot the conductor to get a ransom from the tramways board. Is this not exactly the same position as that outlined in the proposed amendment? I know that Senator Poyser has been intimately associated with the tramway industry. I am certain that the honourable senator would be most horrified, in the interests of his fellow workers, if somebody perpetrated a crime such as that and held the occupants of a tram for ransom. Is an air hostess, a pilot or even an innocent passenger on an aircraft any different from a passenger in a tram?
To suggest that the extremeness of the penalty in no way acts as a deterrent is to ignore the facts of criminal life. Many thousands of criminals throughout the world will not carry a gun because if they are caught carrying such a weapon while in the process of a burglary, the penalty is far greater than if they were not armed. I believe that people with criminal minds who commence their life of crime with burglary are potential hijackers for profit. It is obvious that more severe penalties deter criminals from carrying a gun. We must produce some form of deterrent in an effort to stop the spread of these dreadful crimes of terrorism. I stand for abolition of the death penalty, but I also stand for society retaining that penalty for these very specified crimes, at least until we know whether such a penalty is a deterrent. We need more proof than we have today for the claim that the extremity of the penalty acts in no way as a deterrent. Some people make this claim but they do not provide any basis for it.
– Probably more words have been spoken in the Senate in recent years about the abolition of the death penalty than have been uttered on many other questions. I rise to support the motion and oppose the amendment moved by Senator Jessop and to challenge some of the injudicious statements made by some honourable senators who are clinging to the amendment as the last issue in this long debate to express opposition to the enlightened view that the death penalty should be abolished generally in Australia. In saying that I do not cast any aspersions upon those honourable senators who have, supported the amendment. Some of them clearly hold the general view that hijacking is a crime which is beyond the norm so far as the death penalty is concerned. I think those honourable senators who have expressed the view that this crime is different from others which would excite the community and involve the action of the State in taking the life >of the person concerned, crimes for which the death penalty previously applied, are those who largely have adopted the view in all the debates on this subject in this place over the years - they go back many years - that the death penalty should be retained for all capital crimes.
I think that Senator Wright has to accept some criticism from the Government side because he endeavoured to suggest that those of us who take the enlightened view do so because it happens to be the policy of the Australian Labor Party.
– That is right.
– I challenge that assertion. We already have examined our consciences in respect to the death penalty. Whether or not we are members of the Australian Labor Party we still would take the view that the State has no authority to take the life of another individual. I stand by that view. I held it as a young man before I became interested in politics. My membership of the Australian Labor Party has not influenced my attitude on this question in any way. I think I can say on behalf of all my colleagues that none of us is under duress. None of us feels obliged to vote against this amendment merely because we are members of the Government Party. We hold the view that each man can speak for himself. All of my colleagues believe that this is a conscience vote on a matter which we had determined when we were outside the Australian Labor Party. We are interested in humanitarian questions also. I remind members of the Opposition that humanitarian attitudes do not repose only in those sitting on the Opposition benches. In point of fact we are concerned about people and the sanctity of human life. We are concerned about understanding human nature. We are concerned about trying to apply law to a number of areas of capital crimes for which hitherto society has seen fit to impose the penalty of the taking of life when a life has been lost as a result of the activity of an individual.
I do not think it is possible for us to establish a yardstick, to say that a hijack is a more serious crime than kidnapping, treason or murder. Perhaps in a hijack more people would be involved than in the other crimes. However, I can appreciate that many people would say that a current incident in South Australia, if it becomes a tragedy, is in fact a crime even more difficult to understand than a hijack. We have taken the view that experience in all countries of the world has shown that the imposition of the death penalty has in no way acted as a deterrent to these terrible and horrible crimes. Let us consider a recent international incident, the murders at the Athens airport, and the futility of the acts. The death penalty does apply in Greece; yet the people involved in the murders had a cause and took action - which none of us could condone but all would condemn - in a country in which an autocratic government was imposing its will upon the people. These crimes were committed in a country in which the perpetrators knew they would pay a very stiff penalty for their actions; yet the penalty did not act as a deterrent.
I think this is what has been said by so many honourable senators from all sides of the House in the debates that have occurred on this subject in the couple of years that I have been a member of this chamber. I have heard honourable senators say that no matter how horrible some crimes were the death penalty was not a deterrent. Senator Webster, of course, reacted rather strongly to my interjection about Lieutenant Calley. I do not think that one can take the view that because one is at war one loses one’s respect for the sanctity of human life. If a person acts in the way Lieutenant Calley did, according to the American courts of law, then clearly he is as sick and as much in need of the protection of society as a person who is involved in a kidnapping or a hijacking. Some honourable senators tend to put such an action into a different category and fail to recognise that many of these crimes have been committed. During the debate in the last few days some honourable senators have suggested that hijacking is something different. I put to honourable senators that we must adopt the attitude that in a modern community capital punishment is no longer an acceptable deterrent and that we ought to consider the causes for these people’s actions rather than attempt to deal with the effect. That statement does not indicate in any way that we do not recognise that tremendous problems exist and that terrible crimes are committed by great numbers of people. But I hope that the debate on the death penalty is tonight in its death throes, that this debate will sound its death knell and the attitude of the Parliament to this question will be resolved.
I agree with Senator Wright that this is the place where decisions on behalf of the community are being taken. I am sure that public opinion has reached the stage at which it does accept the principle that we need a more enlightened attitude, a more humanitarian attitude, and sufficient evidence has been given by people more able than I to show that in other countries - and perhaps in our country - people were not guilty of the crimes for which they paid the supreme penalty. Some honourable senators have suggested in this debate that the death penalty should be applied for the crime of treason. Having established an attitude here in the Senate, we have now moved to the question of hijacking. Hijacking, of course, is a popular method by which some people can gain notoriety or express their belief in a cause. After all, this has cut right across the political spectrum. Members of the Croatian community were responsible for highjacking an aircraft in Sweden either last year or the year before. We do not condone this attitude; we condemn this sort of violence which involves innocent people. But because people have been put to death for their involvement in this sort of crime in other countries, does not necessarily mean that we should apply that principle here.
Ours is an advanced country which is beginning to develop a better attitude to society and its problems and so we should be abreast of current movements and taking a step forward by abolishing completely the death penalty. I think Senator Wright ought to re-examine what he said when he attempted to belie the motivation of those of us on the Government benches. He said he accepted the bona fides of honourable senators on this side of the House; he was speaking, I think, of Senator Poyser when he said that he cast no reflection upon him. Therefore Senator Wright should cast no reflection at all upon any Government supporter as a result of his attitude on this difficult question but should accept the principle that our vote on this question is a conscience vote - but a conscience vote determined years ago when we joined the Australian Labor Party and examined the issues and considered the whole problem of society’s approach to criminal offences and determined our total opposition to capital punishment.
The honourable senator should see that we appreciate the action of those members of the Opposition who have, we believe, adopted an enlightened attitude, who have in conscience decided to vote for or against the various amendments that have been submitted for debate in this place. A political decision arises from a person’s deciding to cast his vote after he has examined his conscience. The only point of difference we have with the members of the Opposition is that they want to deny us that right. They want the right to determine their attitude to an amendment or a resolution but to deny members of the Government precisely that right because they believe that we in voting as a group are denying the principle of conscience. I want to put the record straight and say on behalf of many of my colleagues that we have reached this conclusion on our understanding of the problem and not because it happens to be a rule of the constitution of the Party to which we belong. We would hope that the same openness and tolerance would be exercised by a majority of members of the Senate so that we will in fact take the very important step of abolishing, at least in the Federal jurisdiction, the death penalty for capital crimes in this country.
– I enter this debate briefly for a general discussion of 3 points. Firstly, j. say categorically that I oppose the amendment. Secondly, I want to defend Senator Poyser against what I think was an unjustified attack made upon him by Senator Wright and, to a lesser degree, by Senator Little. Thirdly, I say publicly that I believe that the Opposition, in pursuing these amendments and speaking at length to them, is largely using delaying tactics to keep the Death Penalty Abolition Bill from being finalised in this chamber.
– Cut it out.
– It is all right for Senator Young to interject. He knows that this Bill has been through this chamber on about 3 different occasions in the past. Today we are able to see a very satisfactory state of affairs. It has been carried twice in the other place; so it ought to be finalised here. Honourable senators opposite never tagged these sorts of amendments on before, nor did they make these points on other occasions when the Bill was before this chamber.
THE CHAIRMAN (Senator Prowse)-
Senator Keeffe, I trust that you realise that you are speaking in Committee to a particular clause. I trust that as far as possible you will address your remarks to that clause.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. I appreciate your intervention but I was under the impression that I was speaking to the amendment which is before this chamber now. If Senator Wright was able to attack Senator Poyser on a number of points then I feel that it is my duty to defend Senator Poyser. Senator Little pointed out all the dangerous things that could happen if hijackers decided to take over a tram. For the information of Senator Little I point out that Senator Poyser has told me that on no occasion in his long service and association with trams in the city from which he comes has his tram ever been hijacked by anybody.
– They were frightened.
– That was an accusation which the honourable senator made as part of his argument.
– I did not make the accusation. I merely drew an example. It was a possibility.
– I think the example is symbolic of the attitude of the honourable senator, and particularly of Senator Wright, to this Bill. In other words, the honourable senator is living in a tramway society. Today we are in the jet age. This is the point of the amendment which is before the Senate at the moment. Maybe Senator Little’s speech would have been much more edifying for the public at large if he had stayed in the jet age and not gone back to the trams. I shall make two or three points in relation to those things which were raised by Senator Wright. I have a great respect for his anility in some directions but not as a politician. It is quite obvious that today he is putting forward the type of argument which was strictly adhered to by people living 200 years before our time. In other words, it was an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and the hangman’s noose was not necessarily the last resort. I pose this question to Senator Wright: What would happen and how would he feel if, on the numerous occasions when he gazes across at people on this side of the chamber with that murderous look in his eye, he went to that final point where something snapped and he came over and murdered somebody? Would he believe that he ought not to be hung for that, that capital punishment ought not to apply to him? Of course he would. He would take the atti tude that it was justified homicide and that he ought to have the sentence commuted to something less, perhaps a bond.
– What has this got to do with hijacking?
– This is an illustration. It is the same as the hijacking of trams which was a point introduced by the honourable senator. Mr Chairman, would you please stop the babbling brook for a moment while I make these two or three points? The point which I am emphasising is that Senator Wright in his attack on Senator Poyser indicated even more clearly that he is out of touch with reality. Today criminologists around the world agree that capital punishment is not necessarily a deterrent to violent crime. In fact, I take my own State of Queensland where there has been no such penalty for very many years. On a per capita basis when we compare Queensland with other States which have retained capital punishment as a deterrent we find that fewer murders are committed in Queensland. I pose this question to Senator Wright: How does he know in his own mind and what scientific or legal evidence can he produce to indicate clearly to this chamber and particularly to members of the Government that the retention of the death penalty for hijacking will prevent hijacking? If he can produce this evidence in such a way that it cannot be refuted then even I might be tempted to have a look at some of the statements that he makes.
The honourable senator who spoke before me said that members of the Australian Labor Party are not bound on this matter as a part of irrefutable Party policy. We too have a conscience. We have conscience votes on many matters inside the Labor Party. If I believed in capital punishment I would certainly cross the floor in the same way as a number of very enlightened people in the Liberal Party will cross the floor in order to dispose of the penalty of capital punishment for this or any other crime.
– The honourable senator will get his chance.
– I do not think the honourable senator can differentiate because he is having 2 bob each way. He will have legal killing as a penalty in one area but in the other area he says that there ought not to be legal killing. I suggest that he remains silent because he is even blowing up his own argument by voting for both sides of the fence. I am telling him this quite clearly and straight from the shoulder. The point I make is that the statements made by Senator Wright in favour of his argument are 200 years behind modern thinking. They are 200 years behind the teachings of modern-day criminologists. I feel that it will be a sad day if his Party ever gets back into power again and if he holds any position of power inside that Party.
That the proposed new clause (Senator Jessop’s amendment) be added to the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Prowse)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause 6.
– I move that the following new clause be added to the Bill:
I repeat that I have moved this amendment because, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) announced when the debate on this Bill commenced many months ago, the opportunity would be taken during the debate in the Committee stage of the Bill, because members of the Opposition had differing views on the matter and had a freedom to vote as they pleased, to move amendments and identify areas in which it may be thought desirable that the death penalty be retained.
– Was the honourable senator not going to move the last 2 circulated amendments together?
– No. The amendment which I have moved relates to the Geneva Conventions Act. Under the Geneva Conventions Act the death penalty has been retained for offences against the Conventions which Australia ratified by passing this Act.
What is the Geneva Conventions Act? A number of people know of it, butI am sure they do not realise what is really consists of. The Geneva Conventions were adopted in about 1949. They represented the consensus of opinion as to what should be the proper treatment of personnel who were involved in war and conflict. The 4 Conventions which were adopted in 1949 were the subject of ratification by an Act of the Australian Parliament in 1957. I shall mention very briefly the 4 Conventions. The Red Cross Convention, which is the first Convention, provides for the protection and care of the sick and the wounded and the protection of medical units, voluntary aid personnel and so on. The second Convention provides for the protection of the wounded, the sick and shipwrecked members of the armed forces who are at sea. The third Convention deals with the treatment of prisoners of war and the obligations which captor nations must observe towards prisoners of war. The fourth Convention is concerned with the protection of civilians in time of war.
I have very shortly and possibly in the eyes of some inadequately described the broad functions which those Conventions are designed to perform, but I think I have given the gist of what they are concerned with. They are set out, for those who desire to read them more closely, as schedules to the Geneva Conventions Act. Part II of the Act provides for the punishment of persons who commit grave breaches - I emphasise that the punishment applies to those who commit grave breaches - of the Conventions. The grave breaches are, for example, wilful killing, torture, inhuman treatment, wilfully causing great suffering and extensive destruction of property. For those offences the death penalty is prescribed by our own law. It is prescribed by an Act of this Parliament of 1957.
I appreciate the arguments which have been raised in the generality during the course of the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill and I appreciate the arguments which have been raised in opposition to other amendments which have been moved. I should have thought that the Geneva Conventions represented a single advance in a world where war could not be outlawed but where, if war was to occur, the manner in which it was conducted could be regulated and the manner in which those who suffered as a result of war could have protected such rights as in wartime could be preserved to them. It was a single advance. It appears to me that the most effective way of ensuring that the advances we make are secured and that people observe the rules which have been laid down is to indicate that the ultimate penalty must be paid if there is any breach of those rules. It is in those circumstances, I believe, not only the most effective deterrent but also represents the way in which society views the importance of these rules. Arguments such as that have not prevailed in circumstances of, I think, comparable gravity, but I assert them because I think it is important that there should be those in our society who are prepared to express their beliefs and to take up the challenge that they are not enlightened and that they are living in the past and so on. They are still values which have as much relevance today as they had in an earlier day. The only significant difference is that there is no longer the widespread application that there used to be because as we have become a more civilised and educated society we have become more discriminating and we can single out those offences for which the dealth penalty is appropriate and where it should be the statutory penalty for breach of these provisions.
– We will not accept the amendment . for the. reasons I have indicated previously in relation to the acceptance of other amendments. The Geneva Conventions Act is a very important piece of legislation. It provides for the amelioration of the condition of wounded, sick and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea and a number of other very important provisions relating to the treatment of prisoners and, in general, the human conduct of war. I suppose the greatest mockery of the Geneva Conventions has occurred since 1 957, which was the time of the latest of these Acts. The fact that Lieutenant
Calley, a mass murderer who has destroyed women, children and babies is still living in comfort in the United States and being treated as a hero, I suppose, makes a mockery of all the pretentions of the rest of the world to introduce humanity into war. It is true, as I understand it, that the United States has not bound its actions by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
The world has failed in its attempts to introduce humane conduct into war. Such attempts become irrelevant anyway when it is acceptable to destroy whole cities, with ordinary people in them, as was done in Japan by the use of atomic bombs and as was done at other times. Nations in conflict have regarded the wiping cut of innocent persons - those who are going about their ordinary vocations, whether in Vietnam or Cambodia - as so appalling as to make the well-meant efforts of those who have evolved the Geneva Conventions and those who are still striving to evolve these humane methods seem almost irrelevant. To try to induce a little bit of humanity into world affairs and to try to set up an example to humanity is a very difficult thing. In a way those Conventions parallel what we are trying to achieve by this legislation.
The Geneva Conventions have been an attempt by mankind to say that despite the holocaust that may be occurring and despite the killing of persons, let us try to have something which will serve as a symbol to humanity. Let there be some limits beyond which humans will not pass even in the midst of destroying one another. Let us observe some principles which will inspire humans not to abandon their civilisation but to realise that they are generally one with another so that after the passage of a short period they will find it difficult to realise why they were so hell bent on destroying one another.
In the debate here we are saying that as a general principle it would be wise to abandon punishment in a judicial manner of persons by applying the penalty of death. Instead we say, as an example to humanity, that we will impose only imprisonment for life. Certainly we will fail to stop killing, murder and the other forms of crime that, in the highest degree, are reprehensible but, nevertheless, this is an attempt to mitigate the worst vices of mankind. I hope that the Committee will maintain its stand, a stand which I think is in accordance with the same principle which flows through the Geneva Conventions, that is, to abandon the death penalty.
I am well aware of the fact that, in the Geneva Conventions, there is an alternative of death for certain offences. When I speak of the ‘same principle’, I am speaking of the broad civilising principle to which the world is advancing. I ask that the Committee maintain its attitude and say: ‘Let us try this civilising experiment by way of example to our fellows, not by way of sympathy to the offenders who may be in some cases not deserving of sympathy, and in many cases probably very much the victims of their circumstances, of temporary insanity, temporary irresponsibility, or whatever it may be, but as an attempt by which we will set a standard which will help to uplift mankind if we eliminate this as a method of punishment’.
– I do not think that it is a worthy response to Senator Greenwood’s amendment to indulge in a rather spiteful denigration of war as such. Because of man’s depravity, in my lifetime we have been engaged in 2 world conflicts. For anybody to cast aspersions on the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in response to this proposal, to me is unworthy of the country of the cause. Anybody who recalls the men in captivity who were relieved from death staring them in the face by the abrupt ending of that war by the delivery of the bomb will never shrink from supporting those who took the decision to end the War abruptly in mercy to mankind even if it killed Hiroshima. The people who came out from behind the walls of Japanese prison camps would have died if they had not been released within another fortnight.
I do not listen with any admiration or acceptance to a sneering reference to the Hiroshima bomb in response to the noble principle that Senator Greenwood has propounded. How many years is it since Hiroshima? It is nearly 30 years. Nor do I listen with any admiration or acceptance to the sneering reference to Lieutenant Calley who is in a jurisdiction, as the Attorney-General, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) at once says, has not accepted these Conventions. Anybody who would not despise the acts that we have heard attributed to Lieutenant Calley and regard them as the most horrific that could be conceived, I cannot imagine. What Senator Greenwood is putting to the Committee is that if there is a Lieutenant Calley in our community subject to our laws, we will not have him living in honour, or in immunity or at all because the community that Senator Greenwood’s proposal expresses is nobler than that which gives continuance to the life of a person who has shot women and children and nobbled men in massacre.
Why can we not lift ourselves above this paranoia of party debate? Why can we not accept the purpose of these amendments which continue to come from the Opposition? The purpose of these amendments is to give every individual who has the responsibility of holding a position in the Committee tonight the chance to record his or her view for the record that will be studied 25 years, 50 years or 100 years hereafter as to the descent of human life in our generation and the actions of those who were prepared to rescue it from depravity and crime by preserving a deterrent. This is the final deterrent which, after exclusion through reasonable doubt as to all the elements that make up the crime and after a merciful government has considered every element of mercy that can be expressed in favour of the convicted criminal, is imposed when the conclusion is reached that there is no element of doubt or mercy that should extricate the criminal from the final forfeit.
I imagine that I am speaking in support of the principle that I think Senator Greenwood most nobly is propounding not merely on behalf of this country, this Australian community, but on behalf of the international community which is engaged together in a war, because we were never engaged in anything but a just war. The adoption of this principle will inflict capital punishment on a person who is proved beyond doubt to have breached the conventions that require mercy to be extended to the Red Cross, to prisoners of war, to those who are shipwrecked at sea and to others Who could be shot in a ditch or disabled by the very circumstances of war. lt is a sad contemplation that we witness. We see a concerted campaign by a party which adopted this as a party political platform. At the same time as it claims to deprecate war it repudiates the defences that the merciful provisions of the conventions that Senator Greenwood mentioned require in order to protect those without protection in the extremity of war. That highlights and I think makes unworthy the people who claim to deprecate war and who at the same time refuse to the victims of madness, of crimes in war, the protection of those unprotected victims.
I rise to speak in the last stages of this debate only because I am conscious of the fact that 50 or 100 years hence these records will be judged and humanity will have to determine in the civilisation that exists in Australia at that time whether we deserted the cause of our community in its noblest aspirations or whether we were weak and allowed criminals of the worst description to escape just punishment, and the just punishment for the offences described in these conventions is nothing less than death after judicial processes.
That the proposed new clause (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be added to the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Prowse)
Majority . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– There is a final amendment which I desire to move which proposes the addition of a new clause 6 to the Bill. I move:
In the eyes of the law there is no difference between public murder and private murder. The concept of public murder, which of course is not a term of art but which may be a description which readily appeals to the layman, really has no place in our law and therefore there is no penalty appropriate to what is one of the modern scourges of mankind. Murder is the unlawful killing with malice of a human being. Of course, the circumstance in which the debate on the merit or otherwise of capital punishment has been carried on over the decades has been centred upon whether or not the death penalty is an appropriate penalty for the unlawful killing by one individual of another individual. There have been occasions, of course, when there has been a multiple killing and a person has been charged and convicted.
But what we have experienced in recent years is the growing development of the terror attack by which persons seek to achieve political objectives. I believe that unless society is prepared to meet that sort of tactic ruthlessly and with determination to stamp it out, it will become increasingly a means by which political objectives are sought to be secured. I do not want to involve myself in partisan arguments which in other circumstances could be raised, but we know for a fact that in Northern Ireland over a number of years we have witnessed the spectacle of bombs being placed in crowded streets and of explosives being packed into cars. The people who have perpetrated those crimes have been unconcerned as to the damage, the havoc, the terror, the killing, the murder which would ensue from the explosion. It has been a tactic in which participants from both sides have engaged. It is one of the horrors of mankind but we seem unable to stamp it out. Of course, the death penalty does not apply in Northern Ireland. I recall that one judge did sentence a person to death and there was in the midst of all this havoc an outcry at the death penalty being imposed.
– You are attacking Mr Heath, a Conservative Prime Minister.
– I am not concerned to engage in the political by-play which in other circumstances Senator Mulvihill might feel justified in raising. We are concerned, or we ought to be concerned, with the fact that terrorism is increasingly becoming a way of life for some people and a means of securing political objectives. We in this country know the horror which communicated itself to all of us when a bomb was placed in a shop in Sydney last September and when another bomb exploded outside the premises. We saw the photographs and we were appalled that something had come to Australia which previously we had only read of elsewhere.
– You said there was no terrorism. That was the Croatian minority and you said there were not any terrorists.
– I hear what Senator Mulvihill says and all I say at the present time is that no one has been charged or accused with perpetrating that offence, and until a person is charged or an accusation is made, I am in the position in which I think most Australians find themselves of not knowing who was responsible. But it is relatively unimportant, if we know that the police are active in their pursuit of all clues and leads, to worry about who was responsible. It is more important to be conscious of the fact that it occurred and to be determined that by our detection processes and by our punishment procedures we can effectively mark our disapproval of that conduct and use what deterrent abilities are available under our law to prevent it spreading and becoming prevalent. That, I believe, ought to be the real concern of those who, like all of us, have been concerned about the allegations and the existence of terrorist acts of one sort or another in this country. Fortunately as far as I am aware they have not caused loss of life, but there is always the risk that loss of life will occur.
We know that throughout the world there is a feud to which the Jewish people - the State of Israel - have been subjected over many years because there are those who would deny to that country and its people the right to live. One only has to reflect upon the massacre which occurred at Lod Airport, the massacre which occurred at Munich, the massacre which occurred at Athens and the other killings which have taken place in the name of a political objective. I can only say that when that sort of activity is occurring society - the international society - ought to be prepared to say that people who engage in that sort of activity will suffer the eye for the eye, the tooth for the tooth, which is the only effective way in which society can indicate its total disapproval of that conduct. Interested people with political objectives will be concerned to achieve their political objectives. This has been the pattern the world over for many generations. As far as I am concerned, in this day and age when there is a great feeling throughout the world against the imposition of the death penalty - I know this feeling is there - to tolerate this sort of conduct is, I believe, opening the way to something far more vicious than the death penalty was to those who now seek to abolish it.
Accordingly, for Australia I believe that the most effective way of marking our determination to have no truck with terrorism, to stamp it out and to indicate our complete and emphatic denunciation of it is for the Senate to give a clear indication - even if it be after all the other amendments are lost that this one amendment is carried - that this is the type of crime for which the death penalty will be retained. I believe that it is only in this way that we can achieve the objective of the utilisation of the deterrent value in the death penalty. I accept what Senator Wright and others of my colleagues have said, namely, that there is a deterrent value in the death penalty and a person who denies it denies human nature. That it is not a deterrent for every person or in all circumstances is readily to be conceded, but to deny that it has any deterrent value at all is, I think, to argue in the face of human experience. The other objective which is to be secured is to indicate by the type of penalty which is to be imposed the emphatic denunciation with which our society would mark murder which is committed for a political objective under the name of terrorism.
– We will not accept the amendment which has been proposed. I suppose it ought to be clear that crimes are committed for various purposes, and if ever there was a crime which will not be deterred by a penalty, whether a death penally or anything else, it is the crime committed ‘in the course of unlawful political or terrorist activity’, to take the words used in the amendment. The persons who feel so strongly that they will commit murder in order to achieve political objectives are the most unlikely of all to be deterred by the penalty. Their objective is not to make money or revenge. They have ideological motives which they regard as supreme over other considerations. So to talk of deterrents is almost idle. Perhaps other people might be deterred. A person who will commit murder for reward might be deterred if the law states that he will be hanged if caught. But we are hardly likely to deter a person who wants to liberate his country or to pursue some other political objective, whether or not it is well intentioned or well reasoned from our point of view. The death penalty is the least likely deterrent.
– -They are the people most likely to commit an offence again.
– That might be so. If they were released I suppose that is exactly right. They would want to go out, irrespective of any other consideration and commit the same kind of crime again because the motive is to achieve a political objective. If they are restrained, they are prevented. Certainly, if they were hanged they would be prevented. But to talk of deterrents to prevent them or likeminded persons from engaging in the same kind of activity seems to me to be really ill founded. I know of no studies or experience of mankind which would suggest that the imposition of such a penalty would serve as a deterrent to others. Indeed, the imposition of such a penalty, from my understanding of history, has only served to inflame others to go out and commit crimes because of their burning passion which has been exacerbated by the killing of their fellow. It is clear that capital punishment will not prevent crime. Certainly, it would not rehabilitate. That much is self-evident.
In the closing stages of this debate, we know the basic view of some honourable senators. Senator Greenwood probably speaks for a number of honourable senators opposite. Although honourable senators opposite have been given a free vote in this debate, I think it is probably time that the views he is expressing represent properly the views held by some honourable senators opposite. Senator Greenwood is saying: ‘Look, when you get down to it, it is the mosaic law: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and death for a death’. This is the most primitive of laws, lt is the payback system of the primitive tribes. All through civilisation it is what we have tried to get away from in evolving better methods of approaching these affairs.
We have tried to evolve laws under which the State can say that a life is so sacred that it will not be taken even by way of punish ment. This still leaves room for the execution of persons by way of self-defence and by way of preventing crime. But we say that when a person is held in restraint and can be kept where he cannot commit further crimes the State will, as an example to everybody, say that you shall not take life and that this is the way everybody should behave. I suggest that we ought to pursue the general principle that we have adopted and that this proposed new clause should be rejected. I have not gone into the contentious questions which the honourable senator has raised which are more germaine to other debates that have been held in the Senate. If I were to do that I am afraid it would raise contention as to terrorism which would divert the course of this debate.
– 1 have been very interested in this debate on the proposed amendment, together with the debate on the other amendments that have been moved this evening. I have been most interested in the way that points have been stated in order to try to prove that capital punishment does not do something for the community. The word ‘deterrent’ has been used. It is said ‘it is not a deterrent’. Of course, the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) said that if somebody was put in gaol and escaped, he might commit the same offence again. I think that instead of just thinking of deterrents we should think of the elimination of people who commit these crimes. If such people are eliminated, they are not there to commit the crime again. But the elimination of those people can be a deterrent to some other people who would have a second thought about doing such things. That is what we have to think about.
I do not think that the average person would say that that type of individual who is prepared to commit mass murder, to terrorise people and to commit acts of the type committed by political terrorists should be allowed to live amongst us. This is a human society. If people are not prepared to conduct themselves in a decent way they are not worthy to live amongst others in this human society. This debate has been continuing for some considerable time. But so far as a deterrent is concerned, I believe always that strong action has its effect. That has been proved time and time again in other directions, even in this political world. It is strong leadership that can win elections. We hear al! this twaddling stuff from the media and idealistic people or people who think they know everything about winning elections. When all is said and done, it comes down to the strength of leadership. It comes down to plain common gumption, political nouse and a few things like that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I am wondering whether the honourable senator is inferring that leadership is a form of terrorism. Otherwise I cannot relate his statement to this debate.
– I am talking about strength having its effect upon people. It does not matter in what direction it is, strength, when exhibited to people has an effect. I am quite convinced that if we have strong effects so far as terrorists are concerned, by eliminating them, we will get rid of them. 1 know I have said this before. Some people may think that I am a bit ruthless. I believe that one of the worst features about hanging is the process involved in it - standing on the platform, dropping and hanging. The simplest way would be to give such people a needle and get rid of them. That is how it should be done. If that were done, I believe that we would find that it would have its effect upon many people who might have silly ideas.
As a matter of fact, I make bold to say this: A great deal of crime takes place because of the publicity that some of the crime makers get through the shallow type of media today. The sort of people who like that publicity do things very often just for the publicity. We see the sort of crimes that are being committed today. There is the case involving the 2 little girls in Adelaide which came to light just the other day. When honourable senators see the picture of one of these little tots, does not it make their stomachs turn up? We read about that individual in the bank vault in Stockholm. He has 3 women and a man held as hostages. It is said that he is so ruthless that he would not stop at anything. Am I to be told that people like that deserve to live in this human society? Of course they do not. If we faced up to the position, we would get rid of them. This is going on now because of the weakness of our public men who are not game to stand up to what should be done.
I heard Senator Keeffe speak about Queensland, the State from which he and I come. Queensland has not used the death penalty for years and Senator Keeffe stated that the percentage of murders committed there was less than elsewhere. Of course, I suppose that it can be said that we are the happiest people in Australia because we live in the best State, have the warmest sunshine and have the best State Government at the present time. But it seemed to me that perhaps Senator Keeffe’s argument might have had some more weight if he had compared what took place in Queensland years ago with what is taking place today. It is unfortunate that, whilst the number of these crimes probably has not risen to the extent that the numbers of other terribly tragic crimes have risen, it has risen over the years from what it used to be. Killing people was once a very rare crime, but today it is becoming more and more frequent. It may be that people from the south are coming to Queensland and indulging in their dreadful ways in our State, but I think these crimes have to be looked at more carefully than that.
Knowing human nature and knowing the feelings of people on these things, I believe that if the issue were put fairly and squarely before the average member of the public he would say: ‘Get rid of this menace in our community by getting rid of the people who commit these tragic crimes’. I think it makes people absolutely sick in the stomach to read of these crimes. In the political terrorism that is going on, people are dropping bombs and killing innocent people. They do not care who they kill. No one can tell me that these people should be allowed to move in the decent human society which we believe that it is. I think that the sooner we face up to this situation and get rid of these people by imposing the death penalty the better.
Last week when we were debating this Bill I said, and I repeat, that because of our weakness the position will get worse. I believe that it could lead to a breakdown of our society because, once things such as this get out of hand, nobody is then game to stand up. Now is the time for us to stand up, before we arrive at that horrible state. I stand right behind what Senator Greenwood has said. I think that the sooner that we realise that something should be done to deter these criminals among us the better it will be for the human race.
That the proposed new clause (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be added.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
If the Senate accepts the motion it will be the third time that such a Bill has been passed by the Senate. As well as introducing this Bill I introduced similar Bills on 2 occasions. The first Bill was steered through the Senate by the late Senator Sam Cohen in 1968. I think many members will remember with great sentiment what he did on that occasion and will regret his not being with us this evening. The abolition of the death penalty has been an important part of the policy of my Party for a very long time. I know that honourable senators opposite have taken objection to the fact that we have approached this matter on a Party basis, but it is an important part of the history of Australia that for a very long time the Australian Labor Party has wanted to achieve this objective. By democratic process we have arrived at the decision that the Government should seek to remove the death penalty from the laws of this country.
I thank the Senate for the way in which it received the Bill and the way in which it has voted upon it. The Bill is not without relevance. At present there are 2 persons in the Australian Capital Territory under sentence of death. It is true that in the ordinary course the prerogative of mercy would probably be sought and almost inevitably it would be granted. However, it is a real matter of consequence that the Senate should treat this Bill as it has this evening. If the motion for the third reading of the Bill is passed by the Senate we have every confidence that the Bill will promptly be passed by the House of Representatives and will become law. I am grateful to honourable senators for their contributions. I thank them all for the spirit in which they entered into this debate.
– My speech on the motion for the third reading of this Bill will not take long. I want to speak for 2 reasons. The first is that ever since the first measure of this nature was introduced in 1968 until the last vote which has been taken, I have voted in accordance with my conscience which is very clear. I believe that the statutes of the Australian Government should continue to contain the ultimate penalty of death by hanging for certain crimes.I have voted in that way on all occasions. However, in all the many hundreds of thousands of words that have been uttered on this subject I have not taken part in the debate except perhaps by way of friendly and helpful interjection. This evening my colleague Senator Wright reminded the Senate that we were discussing a Bill and that people in years to come will look back on the record and judge whether we were right or wrong. Many honourable senators on this side of the chamber would forecast that those people would decide that the Senate was taking the wrong attitude and was making the wrong decision. I do not want people to be able to prove that I was one of the few who consistently voted from one point of view and was not man enough to stand in my place and briefly state my reasons. I believe that the death penalty should be maintained. I believe it is some deterrent; how great no one can imagine.I believe that if, as a deterrent, it saves one human life, one innocent person from being murdered, it is well worth having on the statute book. I am a great believer in human life, but first and foremost the innocent person has priority. As we went through amendment after amendment tonight, I was nearly moved to speak but I wanted to say something beyond the terms of the amendments before the Committee and did not want to contravene Standing Orders. That is why I have taken the opportunity to speak to the motion for the third reading.
It is interesting to note, if one examines the Hansard report of this debate, that each time an amendment was moved the proposer or supporter indicated that that particular amendment at any rate should be passed as it dealt with the most important aspects of the law for which the penalty of death by hanging should be maintained. My colleague the learned Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Greenwood) in referring to the last amendment which related to murders for political rights or reasons, said that those things were important. I do not think that murders for those reasons are any more important than murders because of jealousy, murders as the result of provocation and murders for religious reasons. Any murder of an innocent person is a terrible crime, and I do not believe that we should classify it because to the innocent murdered person death is final and I believe that punishment for the guilty should be final also.
I do not reflect upon the vote of the Senate but I want to close my speech by saying very sincerely that when the Senate decided by vote not to maintain in our statutes the ultimate punishment of death by hanging for treason, I mentally threw the towel in. I said that this Senate, while it is so constituted, will never agree for any aspect of hanging to be maintained in the laws covered by this Parliament. If it really is the view of the Australian people that anyone who commits treason should not be hanged, the Australian people must believe that no person should be hanged for any crime. In my view, if the act of treason which so easily can cause the death of thousands - it can cause the fall of a nation - is not punishable by death by hanging, and if the Australian people share the belief of the vote of the Senate in that respect, they do not want death by hanging in their statutes. I oppose the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The Senate - Exclusion of Journalist from Press Gallery
Motion (by Senator Murphy) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise for 2 purposes. The first will take only a short time. I wish to explain why earlier today I may have appeared to have acted in an abrupt and cavalier way towards the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). I refused him leave to make a statement. I understood from what he said that he sought to make a statement by leave to correct something I had said in the course of a personal explanation.
– After you had been given leave to make a statement.
– After I had spoken I denied him leave. I want to say definitely that my reason for doing so was that I did not think it appropriate after I had made a personal explanation on something he had said about me - I had not referred to the Leader of the Government in the Senate - that a broad statement should be permitted. If he had asked for leave to make a personal explanation - I know that was suggested to him across the table by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) - the position would have been entirely different. I do not believe, at any stage and under any circumstances, that if leave is sought to make a personal explanation it should not be granted. The Leader of the Government chose not to make that application.
The second matter to which I desire to refer, Mr President, concerns a matter about which I asked you 2 questions in the earlier parliamentary session this year. On 29 May, following questions in both Houses, the Parliament was informed that a Mr Barry Everingham of radio station 2SM, would not be issued with a federal parliamentary press gallery pass for 1973. I refer, Mr President, to what you said. You said:
This decision arises from an incident in November last when Mr Everingham was found in the suite of rooms at Parliament House of the then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives without authority and when no members of the staff were present. The matter was investigated by the Commonwealth Police with the authority of the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, not as stated in a Press report of yesterday at the instigation of the President of the Senate and the then
Speaker. It was by the then Speaker, unilaterally following police inquiries, Mr Everingham’s Commonwealth Police pass was withdrawn.
– A Commonwealth Press pass.
– The Commonwealth Police pass was withdrawn. The text goes on:
Mr Speaker and I have carefully studied the police report and we have interviewed Mr Everingham who, subsequently, made written submissions and representations to us. Mr Speaker and I regard Mr Everingham’s explanations as unsatisfactory and his action in entering an unoccupied office without permission is, we consider, unacceptable conduct for a Press representative in Parliament House. Accordingly, we have directed that Mr Everingham’s Press Gallery pass should not be renewed for 1973. As a result Mr Everingham will not be entitled to any of the privileges associated with the Press Gallery, and this includes accommodation and a seat in the Press galleries of the chambers. However, the withdrawal of Mr Everingham’s privileges will not prevent his employers, the broadcasting station 2SM, from being represented in the Gallery.
That is the end of the passage I wish to quote. The results of this action upon the employment of Mr Everingham have been severe. He has ceased to be employed by the radio station by which he was employed and he is not able to act as a Gallery representative for any of the media. I shall not concern myself further with Mr Everingham’s future as what I have related is merely to demonstrate the consequences of how the refusal of a Gallery pass can jeopardise a journalist’s career. It is a decision of great import to the person concerned.
I should not have to stress that in the Parliament we should always be concerned as to how Parliament exercises its traditional and unchallenged powers when those powers impinge upon the vocations and the accepted rights and freedoms of citizens. This concern always ought to be the paramount concern of legislators because legislation often operates to deprive and restrain. But I am sure I am not misunderstood when I refer to Parliament’s traditional powers with the enormous impact with which they operate and the area over which they operate, and I say that this obligation has a direct and particular significance to us all. The power and privileges of the Senate as one House of the Parliament deriving immense inherent powers from the House of Commons and the unexaminable authority with which our Constitution clothes those powers must be exercised with responsibility and restraint. They are powers too easily used - and misused.
I believe that the attention and concern of the Senate must be directed to the procedures which are involved in the granting and the withholding of passes for the Press Gallery. The power of the President and the Speaker to control admission to the Press Gallery lies in traditional usage and in the concurrence of each of the Houses of the Parliament. It is entirely proper that the Presiding Officers of the Houses of Parliament should have wide powers to ensure the proper functioning of their Houses and the regulation of Parliament’s precincts. They should be able to act effectively and with full authority. They are, and properly should always be, subject to the control of their chambers. But it is a question of importance as to whether the powers of the President and the Speaker should be as wide as they have been and as capable of unchallengeable exercise as they have been. This, Mr President, as I know you are acutely aware, is a matter of great concern to whoever occupies the position of President as 1 am sure it must be to whoever occupies the position of Speaker. And it has troubled earlier Speakers.
I refer to Mr Speaker Makin who in 1931 had occasion to withdraw the Press Gallery pass of a journalist who had been in possession of some documents of which he should not have had possession and whose action was challenged. Mr Speaker Makin, as reported in Hansard of 23 April 1931, said:
The Speaker is the custodian of the rights and privileges of the House over which he presides, and is empowered to admit to or to exclude from the galleries of the House any person who, in his discretion, he may deem it desirable to admit or exclude.
Mr Speaker Cameron in 1951 indicated the ramifications of the exercise of these powers and the width of the discretion power. He is reported in Hansard of 7 November 1951 as having said:
No limit has ever been placed upon the number of journalists, news-letter writers or party publicity men who may use the press galleries and the facilities of the House. I have been informed that the number of journals represented here, including overseas newspapers, is steadily increasing. Every honourable member of this House has entered it per medium of the ballot-box, and has received electoral approval. Press men are chosen, 1 presume, by their editors. So far as I can learn, no attempt has ever been made to examine the relationship of the press to this Parliament. The status of the press, and the freedom of pressmen within this building are matters within the control of the President of the Senate and of the Speaker, until the Parliament determines otherwise. I believe that the purpose of the press in Parliament is to report parliamentary proceedings fairly and accurately in order to enable the public to judge the facts. I believe that certain portions of this building, especially on sitting days, should be exclusively reserved for the use of members. 1 think that the House might well establish a committee to examine the relationships which exist between press and Parliament.
I have mentioned those ciatations only to indicate that the problem is not new but has exercised the attention of Presidents and Speakers over the years.
I would say at the outset that there can be no question that the authority of the Presiding Officers to refuse to grant a Gallery pass to Mr Everingham is well established and that the exercise of their authority in this case has precedent. I am not at all concerned to assert that on a fair and proper examination of all the evidence involved in the incident Mr Everingham should not have been denied a Gallery pass. Nor am I satisfied that he should have been. Under existing and accepted practice this decision rests with Mr President and Mr Speaker. Clearly, if wrongdoing is established and if it is of the character which warrants a penalty appropriate to the standards which Parliament would wish to maintain, it is entirely proper that the withdrawal of a pass in those circumstances should be the consequence. What I am concerned with is the method by which this conclusion is arrived at and a penalty of this character is imposed.
I asked Mr President a further question on 8 June and subsequently, during the recess, I was allowed by him to inspect the file which Mr Speaker and Mr President had collected. There is more in the file than has been revealed in the statements of Mr President and Mr Speaker but I do not consider myself at liberty to indicate the nature of the file. Therein lies the heart of the problem. Neither Mr Everingham nor those who may feel that he has been or may have been treated more severely than the published accounts warrant are aware of the total material which Mr President and Mr Speaker had before them when they made their decision. It must be recognised that the initial decision to withdraw Mr Everingham’s Press Gallery pass was arrived at without informing Mr Everingham that the renewal of his pass was a real question under examination, without informing him that a view had been taken on his conduct which was adverse to him and without giving him any opportunity to present appropriate considerations as to the view of his conduct which the Presiding Officers should take. He was unaware of what was alleged against him.
The incident occurred on 28 November 1972 when, as Press reports deriving from Mr Everingham’s own account reveal, he was in Mr Whitlam’s suite of offices. I set out what has been reported in a Canberra newsletter as presumably Mr Everingham’s account of his conduct. I think it is very important and basic to the reason why I have raised this that Mr Everingham has gone into the public Press and has indicated his account of the incident. The newsletter stated:
On the Tuesday, evening before the last-
– What is the newsletter?
– It is called ‘Objective’. It states:
On the Tuesday evening before the last Federal election, Mr Barry Everingham went to the office of the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, to give some personal information to a staff member, Miss Lorraine Hoare.
Mr Everingham entered the office at some time between 5 p.m. and S.OS p.m. in clear light as daylight saving then applied. He entered Mr Whitlam’s suite of rooms through the door of the Press Secretary, Mt Graham Freudenberg, and there being no person in that section of the office, he moved through to the section of the office in which the stenographer outside Mr Whitlam’s inner office was located.
He called: ‘Anyone there?’ With no response he turned to leave. At that moment Miss Lorraine Hoare re-entered the suite of offices carrying a bunch of keys and asked Mr Everingham what he was doing there. He said: ‘I came down to see you’. She replied: ‘But the door was locked’. Mr Everingham said: ‘I don’t have the keys to any offices in Parliament House but my own in the Press Gallery’.
That is the account which I take from the newsletter. Subtantially that account - I have not checked it; therefore I use the word ‘substantially’ - has appeared in other newspapers or other accounts which I have read.
Subsequently there was a withdrawal of his police, pass to enter Parliament House. On 10 April he was informed by letter that he would not be issued with a Press Gallery pass for 1973. On receipt of that letter he contacted the local committee of the Australian Journalists Association and the Press Gallery President. Both the AJA and the Press Galley President protested to the Presiding Officers about a journalist being expelled from the Press Gallery without knowledge of the charge which was being made against him and without being given a hearing on his own behalf.
Then followed a reconsideration by Mr President and Mr Speaker. Apparently Mr Everingham was interviewed and, subsequently, he submitted statutory declarations - one by himself and one by a solicitor - in explanation of the events of 28 November. On 25 May Mr Everingham was again informed by letter that the decision of the Presiding Officers would stand. It is subsequent to this last letter that the matter received a general airing in the newspapers and, again, a first airing in the Parliament where questions were asked.
The crucial question as it appears to me is the statement by the Presiding Officers that Mr Everingham’s explanation was not accepted. On the statement of the Presiding Officers the mere fact that he entered an unoccupied office without permission is unacceptable conduct for a Press representative in Parliament House. It is difficult to believe that conduct of this character is always, and without exception, conduct which warrants the withdrawal of a pass. Common experience is that a person - be he a journalist, attendant, departmental officer or a colleague member of Parliament - may knock and open a door and enter a room, particularly a room which is one of a suite of offices, on legitimate business. If no one is present he withdraws. Certainly he should withdraw forthwith. But the mere entry in circumstances which are entirely legitimate ought not to be regarded as improper conduct.
Obviously in each case if a question is raised as to whether it is legitimate conduct an explanation must be sought. If the explanation given by Mr Everingham as to his conduct is the only material as to the events of that afternoon it is scarcely credible that it is improper conduct warranting a severe penalty. But, indeed, it is this explanation which was not accepted. This implies that if his explanation was to be accepted it would not have led to the action which denied Mr Everingham his Gallery pass. In this case an explanation was sought from Mr Everingham. He stated the reasons why he had entered Mr Whitlam’s office. That account, as he has given it, has been revealed in the newspapers. On the face of it it may be regarded as a legitimate explanation and no different from conduct which other persons have themselves engaged in without any thought that what they were doing was reprehensible conduct.
But Mr Everingham’s account was declared to be unsatisfactory. Mr President said:
Mr Speaker and I regard Mr Everingham’s explanation as unsatisfactory and his action in entering an unoccupied office without permission is, we consider, unacceptable conduct for a Press representative in Parliament House.
It is difficult for a layman, let alone the body of journalists in Parliament House, to consider that the account given by Mr Everingham to the newspapers of his conduct is unacceptable conduct for a Press representative. Maybe it is unacceptable conduct, but if it is the prohibition implicit on conduct of this character will have to be extended to persons other than journalists. Why should it be only journalists whose entry into an office for the purpose of seeing whether a person was present and, on seeing that a person was not present, immediately withdrawing be regarded as unacceptable conduct for anybody who engages in it? It is hard to accept this as a precept of consistent and universal application. Obviously Mr Everingham’s explanation was not accepted and the Presiding Officers were not satisfied that the reasons he gave for his presence in the office were not, in fact, the true account of his presence.
The justification for this view being taken - namely, the simple assertion that Mr Everingham’s account was unsatisfactory - is the kernel of the concern being expressed by Mr Everingham, by members of the AJA committee and by members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It is a concern which I also feel. This concern derives from the fact that there are factors known to the Presiding Officers which were not known and which presumably still are not known to Mr Everingham. What he does not know he cannot answer. It may be that if he does know these other factors he still would not be able to answer them. But at least he would know the gravamen of the complaint against him and what was the dominant consideration in the minds of the Presiding Officers. This is an area in which I feel the concepts of natural justice ought to have some application. The consequences to a journalist deprived of his Press pass are severe and lasting. His livelihood is jeopardised. He ought, therefore, to be provided with the opportunity of knowing the facts which are alleged against him and he ought to be given an opportunity to defend himself. These are procedural matters but they are very important.
What are the consequences of the views I have expressed here tonight? The first consequence is that Mr Everingham has been denied - because the Presiding Officers are operating in a field in which legal rights cannot be asserted in a court - any opportunity for redress in the way in which citizens placed in his position could seek redress. Secondly, notwithstanding the difficulties with which the Presiding Officers were faced and having seen the papers I have no doubt that the Presiding Officers have endeavoured to act completely bona fide in their approach to this matter. There is no procedure under which the rights of journalists, in circumstances comparable to those in which Mr Everingham finds himself, can be protected.
At present there is no law which is applicable in such a case and which regularises the position of the Press in relation to the assertion of these privileges. There ought to be a precedent which enables basic rights to be protected. It may be that consideration should be given by the Privileges Committee as a matter of immediate attention not only by way of affording Mr Everingham an opportunity to answer before the Privileges Committee the charges which have been made against him - because their outcome implies that they may extend beyond questions of mere conduct as a member of the Press Gallery - but also there should be a recommendation by the Privileges Committee to the Presiding Officers on guidelines or procedures in any comparable case in the future.
I have been conscious as I determined what I would say and as I have been saying what I had prepared that it might be thought that in some way what I have said is to be regarded or may be treated by others as some comment or criticism, Mr President, of you personally. I assure you clearly and unequivocally that on my examination of the matter and in the light of what you have provided for me that what you have done has been a genuine effort to resolve a difficult problem in accordance with those canons of propriety and right by which you are guided. I would not like it to be thought that anything I have said is meant to be criticism of the conduct of yourself. I am sure that what I have said must apply also to Mr Speaker. I have raised this matter quite simply because I think somebody should raise it in the Parliament. It is not satisfactory to leave the matter as it is. I believe the rights of any person are matters which ought to concern us. If it happens right in the heart of the Parliament it is proper that the Parliament should concern itself with the matter. I only hope that you, Mr President, may feel encouraged by what I have said to reconsider the particular case and, more specifically, the general considerations which it raises.
– I wish to speak on the same subject. My intervention in this matter is directed not to the particular case of Mr Everingham or the facts or circumstances which surrounded his actions or the action taken against him by the Presiding Officers. I approach this matter with some degree of irony, lt is ironical that it is only about 12 months ago that I raised in this chamber the subject of the conduct of the Senate and of honourable senators in relation to 2 journalists who had transgressed and who had been arraigned before the Committee of Privileges because of their transgressions. A recommendation was brought in by that Committee, which was adopted by the Senate, to the effect that the journalists should be reprimanded and the reprimand was administered forthwith.
I support the propositions which have just been put forward by Senator Greenwood. I agree with his presenting them in this place. There was a denial of natural justice to those 2 gentlemen, not so insofar as the finding of guilt was concerned because that was a finding by the Committee of Privileges after hearing evidence, but when the 2 gentlemen concerned were not called upon before punishment was imposed to show cause why they should be punished. To my mind, as I submitted in perhaps an unduly lengthy address, that was a denial of natural justice. It offended the canons of judicial conduct. Unfortunately my proposition was not accepted in this place. Therefore I was somewhat intrigued tonight upon seeing the significance of what Senator Greenwood has now proposed. What is of concern to him here, to use his own term, is the method by which the decision was arrived at and the penalty imposed. In the other case my concern was not so much with the method by which the decision was arrived at as the method by which the penalty was imposed. I quoted many substantial authorities to support my proposition that the Senate should have given the 2 gentlemen concerned the opportunity of showing cause why they should or should not be punished, and that having been denied that opportunity there was a denial of natural justice. I know that that was perhaps a refinement in argument and in presentation, but I did stress that it is rather the principle of facilis descendus Averni. If the Senate stumbled on that occasion it could have been the first step in a precipitous downward glide. We now meet the position which has been canvassed -
– You have cast yourself in the role of father Anchises.
– That is possible. Then we meet this position tonight where again the Parliament has found that perhaps it has not acted with the high degree of solicitude and concern which should be expected of this place. I am therefore grateful to Senator Greenwood that he has raised this matter in the context in which he has. I point out to honourable senators that this is a lesson to the Senate that it must be extraordinarily sensitive where the rights of individuals impinge upon the rights of this place and where perhaps action taken in this place can unduly prejudice the rights of private citizens. In this case, as it was in the case I presented, it is clearly a matter of the relationship of pressmen or a journalist to the Parliament itself and to its operations. Therefore, if we have learned any lesson from my presentation of that case and if it has been in any sense underlined by the presentation Senator Greenwood has made tonight, it should be at leas*t instructive to this chamber that it should, whether by the means now available to it and by a greater and more sensitive approach to the discharge of the duties as it is now competent to discharge them or by devising alternative means by which the relations between this place and private citizens who may transgress the rights of this place or of journalists in this House who may in some way again transgress the rights, devise some formula by which these rights may be adequately investigated and properly determined.
As I have said, I do not wish to go into the question of what happened in the case of Mr Evringham; I wish merely to go to the general proposition that this place is endowed with tremendous power and authority and honourable senators must by sensitive in their exercise of that power and authority, particularly where people do not have the rights that they have in courts of law to be heard with all the due protection of the law, the right of counsel, the right of defence and all the legal canons that surround the rights of those people in those places. We must be more than scrupulous in our approach to our duties. If Mr Everingham’s case is some illustration of the imposition of such a duty or if the case I presented was an illustration of the same principle, let the Senate have regard to it and perhaps set about devising the proper machinery by which these positions can be avoided in the future.
Senator Dame NANCY BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (10.56) - I wish very briefly to support the remarks of Senator Greenwood. I think it is appropriate that I should inform the Senate of the measures I have taken in an attempt to persuade you, Mr President, and Mr Speaker to give Mr Everingham a chance to defend himself by knowing of what he has been accused and what evidence has been given against him. I have received a very fair reception from both you, Mr President, and Mr Speaker. I am very grateful for the way in which both of you have heard my plea. I hope, as does Senator Greenwood, that you will be able to allow what I consider to be justice to prevail and permit Mr Everingham to defend himself against the charges which he does not at present know of. I feel that that would be the fair and proper thing to do. I am not in a position to judge whether his actions were right or wrong, but I do know that it is quite common for members of the Press to enter the offices of members of Parliament. The offices are open to anybody. I have walked right through the Prime Minister’s office looking for someone and on not finding that person have turned around and walked out. I sympathise with anybody who is caught at the particular moment that he is walking out of an empty office.
I feel that this is an unfortunate situation. I know that another journalist was caught coming out of an office with something in his hand and that he was deprived of his Press pass for 3 months. It seems to me to be very hard on Mr Everingham that he should have had his pass confiscated. I know that for many weeks he has been unable to find suitable employment. He is trained as a parliamentary journalist. It is obvious that if he is not allowed into the Press gallery he will not be able to practice the profession for which he is trained. It seems to me that a particularly harsh penalty has been imposed upon him. I hope that a reprimand will be considered to be a sufficient penalty.
– It is not my intention to speak at length this evening on the matters Senator Greenwood has raised. Senator Greenwood raised 2 matters in all. One concerned his refusal to give the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Murphy, permission to make a personal statement this afternoon after Senator Greenwood, a former AttorneyGeneral and a person whom I should have thought would have been endowed with the principles of fair play and justice, had been given the opportunity, by leave, to make such a statement. On that aspect I shall say no more. I leave it to honourable senators to judge the record for themselves.
As to the second matter Senator Greenwood raised, I appreciate the sincerity of the manner in which he has made his remarks. Frankly, as a member of the Australian Journalists Association, I believe that on this occasion the Speaker of the House of Representatives and you, Mr President, acted with complete wisdom. I say that even though 1 have known Mr Everingham, as a member of the Australian Journalists Association, for a great number of years. He and I have been members of the same union for many years. What are the facts of the matter? On Tuesday, 28 November 1972, 4 days before the holding of a general election, when the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, was not in this Parliament but out on the hustings, a journalist was found in the locked room of the Leader of the Opposition.
– What proof of that have you?
– I make this accusation. Let anyone deny it. I say it because I know the gentleman about whom I am speaking as as a member of the union to which I belong. The honourable senator knows that I know the gentleman concerned as well as the honourable senator does. What I say is said in all sincerity. How can any honourable member of this Parliament - be he or she a member of the House of Representatives or of this Senate - excuse a person from being in the locked room of a prominent member of this Parliament - the then Leader of the Opposition - 4 days before a general election is held? That must immediately arouse one’s suspicions.
– Can you tell us how you know that the room was locked?
– I am asserting that the room was locked.
– He said that it was not.
– All right. He might have said that the room was not locked. I am asserting on the information given to me that the room was locked; that no one was there; that the lights were off; that a secretary to the then Leader of the Opposition returned - perhaps, to the person concerned, unexpectedly - to the room and found a certain person in that room. When those events happened 4 days before a general election is held, I say frankly that if they be the facts - let us face the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives and you, Mr President, have examined all the files and all the facts and have heard Mr Everingham’s explanation - and if they be not proved otherwise, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and you, Sir, would have been recreant to the trust imposed in you bv this Parliament in protecting the rights and traditions of the Parliament and of its members. When we bear in mind that this transpired 4 days before a general election, when the then Leader of the Opposition was not in this Parliament building but was out on the hustings far away from this place, we must ask what excuse could any person who was not a member of that honourable gentleman’s staff have for being in his room even it was unlocked? What right did any person have to trespass on the privacy of the person concerned?
Despite all of the sincerity that has moved my friend, Senator Greenwood, to put the case here this evening - I say frankly with all the sincerity that I can muster in this place that he has moved with sincerity - I do not accept the proposition. I believe that there was every justification for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate to take the action that they did. All that they have done it to withdraw his Press pass in this Parliament.
– And deprived him of his livelihood
– No. The honourable senator has said that they have deprived him of his livelihood.
– He is a parliamentary reporter.
– That is not so. He is a journalist.
– A parliamentary reporter.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLANDThere is no difference between a parliamentary reporter, an industrial roundsman or a court reporter. They are all professional journalists. If he has been deprived of his right to a pass in this Parliament, he can still earn his living as a professional journalist. I ask this question of the honourable senator who has been interjecting: If the honourable senator was running a business and was standing for the position of chairman of the board of directors which was to be decided on a Saturday and on the Tuesday preceding that Saturday a journalist was found in her room, locked or unlocked, that would she think of the circumstances? Mr President, much as the circumstances of this case as they exist hurt me as a member of the Australian Journalists Association I certainly believe that you, Sir, and Mr Speaker have done the right thing.
– I have taken note of the statements of Senator Greenwood, Senator Byrne and Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield and the related remarks that have been made. I shall confer with Mr Speaker at the earliest opportunity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will the Prime Minister provide to the Senate, before it rises for the winter recess, a statement setting out details of costs and dates of all overseas Ministerial trips since the Government came into office on 2 December 1972, broken down to show: (a) cost attributable to the Minister himself; (b) cost of those accompanying the Minister.
Senator MURPHY - The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In accordance with usual practice the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-1974 shows expenditure brought to account during the preceding financial year for overseas travel by Ministers (including personal staff). The cost of other travel is shown in the Bill against the appropriate departments. Costs are not recorded in accordance with the breakdown requested by the honourable senator.
A comprehensive table showing details of all overseas Ministerial visits commenced or completed between 2 December 1972, to 30 June 1973 has been supplied to Mr Garland, M.P., whose question No. 566 antedated the honourable senator’s question (House of Representatives Hansard, 23 August 1973, pages 381-3).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
In view of Senator Townley’s continued criticism of travel costs incurred by Federal Members of Parliament, will the Minister inform the Senate whether Senator Townley has set an example by travelling economy class at all times since his election to the Senate.
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for Services and Property has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Senator Townley has travelled by air on occasions in first class and at other times in economy class.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Have any persons, other than the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Mr Uren, been allocated a unit at ‘Fraser Court’, and not been on the waiting list for the normal period; if so, for what reason have these persons been granted priority in the allocation of this housing?
Senator WILLESEE- The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Ten allocations were made to servicemen posted to Canberra. One allocation was made to an officer of a Department who had returned from overseas duty. Persons in these categories are normally allocated accommodation on a priority basis.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
Were the units named ‘Fraser Court’ constructed to meet any specific housing need; if so, what is it, and does the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Mr Uren, meet that criterion?
The units were constructed for allocation to persons on the housing waiting list and to persons in approved priority categories. Mr Uren, as a Minister, was in an approved priority category (see answer to Question No. 336).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
What is the waiting time for each category of Government house and flat in Canberra?
As at 31 July 1973 registration dates for dwellings being allocated were: 4 bedroom house, 4 May 1970 (waiting time 39 months) 3 bedroom house, 3 June 1970 (waiting time 38 months) 2 bedroom flat, 19 October 1970 (waiting time 34 months) 1 bedroom flat, 5 September 1966 (waiting time 83 months) bed-sitting room flat, 10 February 1970 (waiting time 42 months)
asked the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
What consideration has been given to the establishment of a satellite television coverage system to serve the whole of Australia.
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- I have discussed this matter with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. In regard to the possible use of a satellite to bring television to remote areas of Australia, I should explain that a satellite may be employed for these services either by using direct satellite television broadcasts or by using the satellite to distribute television programs to remote terrestrial television transmitters.
In the direct satellite television broadcasting method, television is received directly on a standard but high quality domestic television receiver. The television program is transmitted from an earth station to a satellite which amplifies the television radio signal and transmits it back to earth. This signal is picked up directly by a domestic television receiver as in the existing television system in Australia. The satellite may beam the television radio signal to cover the whole of the Australian continent.
Direct satellite television broadcasting is not in use anywhere in the world today. It is the subject of a special United Nations Study group and the technical opinion of this group is that direct television broadcasting would not be viable before 1985. The Australian Post Office supports this view. However, the second method whereby television programs are distributed via a satellite to several remote terrestrial television transmitting stations is available with the present technology; in fact the Canadian domestic satellite system is at present utilising this method to provide television programs to small population groups in remote areas of Canada. A television program transmitted over a satellite link is picked up by a special television earth station receiver, and this program is fed into a terrestrial television transmitter for retransmission as in the normal terrestrial system.
You may be interested to know that the Australian Post Office is investigating this latter distribution system in its current study program, and I understand that, subject to the studies confirming the case for a national telecommunications satellite system, it would be possible to bring into operation within about five years. The extent to which such a system could be used to extend television distribution to remote areas would, however, depend on a variety of economic and technical factors which have yet to be evaluated.
– On 28 March 1973, Senator Gietzelt asked the following question, without notice:
My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Services and Property refers to the fact that 500,000 people will become eligible to be enrolled because of the recent decision to lower the voting age to 18 years. Will the Minister make arrangements for electoral officers to visit all high schools, technical colleges and universities to advise on the procedure for voter registration. Will the Minister also give consideration to a nation-wide television campaign to ensure that all these new eligible voters are made aware of their responsibility to enrol.
The Minister for Services and Property has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Subject to approval being obtained from the authorities concerned, arrangements will be made for electoral officers to visit high schools and technical colleges to lecture students relative to enrolment and voting rights. It is not intended to extend the exercise to universities as it is doubtful whether the desired results would flow from lectures thereat.
Television advertising of these rights would not be a worthwhile proposition economically, but a wide radio advertising campaign was undertaken with a view to attracting the attention of those 18, 19 and 20 year olds who had not submitted claims for enrolment. A series of display advertisements encouraging the 18-19-20 year olds to enrol were placed in all major newspapers throughout Australia.
Sentor WRIEDT- On 8 June, Senator Laucke asked me, without notice, whether the Ministers for Minerals and Energy was aware of a joint venture proposal between local interests and a large United States mining group, Utah Development, for the re-opening of the Kapunda copper mines in South Australia.
The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am aware that a proposal involving an arrangement in respect of an exploration licence and surrounding areas at Kapunda, South Australia, is presently before the Committee on Foreign Takeovers, which comes within the responsibility of my colleague the Treasurer. Consideration of that proposal has been deferred pending review of policy on ownership and control of Australian mineral resources.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730828_senate_28_s57/>.