28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10.55 a.m.. and read prayers.
– I thought that with the indulgence of the Senate I would mention before I called on questions without notice that I have been struggling for some time to see whether it is possible to alter Standing Orders in relation to question time. Basically, I am told by the traditionalists that question time is a period for the obtaining of information. On the other hand it has been mentioned to me that that is quite untrue; it is a blood sport. Coming as I do from and representing the State of Victoria, I am used to a game played down there which the umpire is supposed to keep moving. However, I understand that there are others addicted to a more ancient and perhaps more sterile form of activity in which scrums and line-outs seem to interrupt everything. There is one characteristic of the Hippodrome in Melbourne and that is that armed police have to escort the umpire off the field at the end of the game. I sometimes feel like that here.
About 20 per cent of the Senate’s time is taken up with questions without notice but, whereas I had been able previously to keep the ball moving to the tune of about 34 questions in the time occupied by questions without notice, in the last 2 weeks the number has dropped back to the middle twenties. Obviously that is the fault of the umpire.
– I will obey your injunction, Mr President. My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Attorney-General and refers in general to this continuing smear campaign being waged by the Labor Government implying that the Liberal Party is dominated by foreign companies. I refer in particular to a statement by the Minister for Labour, on the television program ‘This Day Tonight’ on Tuesday, that he had evidence to back the Labor Party’s claim. I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Will he arrange for this evidence to be tabled in the Senate?
– I will take it up with the Minister for Labour and then decide what ought to be done about it. I hear an interjection about open government. If honourable senators opposite are insistent that this matter be opened in an official capacity, as 1 was asked the last question in my capacity at Attorney-General and not merely as Leader of the Government here, I will pursue it. It may well be that a full investigation into exactly what is happening ought to be had because it is not right that in any country foreign interests ought to be able to dominate the political parties and to influence the course of political affairs by that means.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General and refer to his astounding revelation of yesterday to the effect that certain persons who were convicted and fined during an indefinite period prior to 2 December last year have had those fines waived and the moneys returned to them pursuant to some Government policy. I ask the Minister: When was this policy decision made? When was it actually announced, if it ever was announced? Will he answer the question already put to him on 3 occasions and not answered: What is the reason for it?
-I do not quite get the drift of the honourable senator’s question because my understanding is that it was publicly announced that we would take steps to deal with national service convictions. Certain legislation has been introduced. I think there is some still to come. Certainly it was public knowledge that all persons who were undergoing sentences of imprisonment were released almost within hours of the Government’s coming into office. I think some may actually have been released before the Government came into office. I think that some steps were probably taken to give effect to the Government’s policy and the dealing with fines was in conformity with exactly that. I am looking for the statement that was made on this matter at the time of the last election. I think that everyone was well aware of the policy of the Government. I do not think that there has been any complaint about it. I will refer to this matter again when I can turn up what was said in the election policy speech.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Transport detail briefly to the Senate the procedures adopted in search operations such as the one conducted for the ill-fated ‘Blythe Star’ and its survivors? Will he consider initiating a complete review of sea-search procedures involving all governments, organisations and groups likely to be concerned in similar operations in the future?
– I will pass on to the Minister for Transport the honourable senator’s suggestion for a review. There are some worrying circumstances which have been reported by the crew of the ‘Blythe Star’, particularly the report that a plane flew over their raft but did not sight them.
– Several times.
– Several times. The Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, reported in the other place today that he has initiated a preliminary investigation headed by Mr Taylor, I believe, who was Regional Controller of Transport in New South Wales. When he receives that report he will set up a court of marine inquiry into this question. We hope that as a result of these measures we will be able to review procedures so that any defects in the present system can be rectified for future searches.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport: Has he had a reply from the Minister for Transport as to why Australian nationals are not allowed to receive any benefit from revaluation in regard to overseas trips whilst other nationals do receive this benefit?
-No. I passed on to the Minister for Transport the remarks made by Senator Turnbull during the adjournment debate last Tuesday. In replying to Senator Turnbull I was unaware of the information that I gave to Senator Withers to the effect that the Minister would not interfere and insist on a reduction of fares that are charged by Qantas Airways Ltd.
– That is not an answer to my question.
-No, but I will try to find the answers.
– I ask the Mininster for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that an apple juice concentrating plant in Hobart is currently being installed for the purpose of producing apple juice concentrate for export and that this plant will produce 200,000 gallons of concentrate and will require 500,000 bushels of apples a year? Is it correct that the company involved has applied to import ‘ bitter sweet ‘ concentrate for the purpose of producing the finished product? Can the Minister advise whether permission has been granted to import the concentrate in order to allow this important
Tasmanian industry to proceed and thus assist in revitalising the Tasmanian apple industry?
– It is true that a company is establishing a juice concentrate plant in Tasmania and that it proposes to produce concentrate mainly for the United Kingdom export trade. It is hoped that when in full production this plant will absorb approximately 500,000 bushels of Tasmanian apples. The company sought permission to import a particular type of concentrate for inclusion in this product, and the Minister for Customs and Excise has advised me that permission has been granted. This will enable the process to proceed. It will, in fact, be a very significant move for the Tasmanian apple industry because it will widen an outlet which, until now, has been a decreasing one, and I am sure that measures such as this will bring tremendous benefit to the apple and pear industry in that State.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the big increase in mushrooms imported into Australia since the recent 25 per cent reduction in tariffs? Is he also aware that these increased imports are placing the Australian mushroom industry in jeopardy? Has the Minister heard reports that one large Australian canning factory has stopped contracts with some Australian mushroom growers, contracts that should have continued until June 1 974? Will he inquire into these reports and also give consideration to the effect of the increased imports on the Australian mushroom industry which employs a great many people?
-The Australian Mushroom Growers Association has advised me of its concern about the matters raised by Senator Young. It is a matter of Government policy that any firm which has been disadvantaged, or feels that it has been disadvantaged, by the 25 per cent tariff cut can make application to the Government for any relief measures which may be considered appropriate. The Association has been advised of the procedures that are necessary and, as far as I know, the present position is that the Association is preparing a submission for the Government’s consideration.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry noted the apparent concessions that Britain has made in regard to the disputed Icelandic fishing waters? Does he see prospects of Australia emulating Iceland and pegging the catches of foreign fishing fleets operating adjacent to the Australian continent? Does the Minister feel that the conference on the law of the sea scheduled to be held early in 1974 in Chile will be in that venue, in view of the Santiago political turbulence?
– I have seen reference to the agreement that has been reached between Britain and Iceland, although I have no knowledge of the details of the agreement. Insofar as Australia’s position in concerned under present international law, we have no jurisdiction outside the 12-mile limit which is the declared fishing zone. The Australian Government has indicated that at the forthcoming conference on the law of the sea, to which Senator Mulvihill has referred, we will be pressing for a 200-mile fishing zone in Australian waters. As I understand it, that conference was to be held in Santiago, but I believe that in view of the problems that have arisen in Chile the offer to hold the conference there has now been withdrawn. I do not know where the conference is to be held. Until such time as it is held, the points that have been raised about Australia’s position in. respect of international agreements cannot be clarified.
– My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. I am sure we are pleased to see that the Minister has returned to the Senate. He was present at the United Nations at a period of great importance particularly in view of the Middle East war, a war which at one time seemed to threaten to develop perhaps into a world war. In view of the importance of the situation will the Minister give us information as to the present state of affairs in the Middle East war?
– That is hardly a matter for question time. One would not know where to start and finish. The situation is pretty well known. There have been 2 attempts at a cease fire both of which have at least been somewhat fractured if not completely broken. My own view is that this is not unusual, because if one thinks about it for a few moments one realises that it is not very easy to keep armies in position when they are scattered over wide areas. There is a tendency for certain units to try to get together again and as they try to move across, of course the fighting flares up again. The situation at the Security Council, the presidency of which for this month happens to fall on the shoulders of the Australian representative, Sir Laurence Mclntyre, is that several attempts have been made to achieve a cease fire. The latest information is that yesterday a joint resolution was put down by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America. One must remember also that simultaneously with the Security Council’s activities- and Sir Laurence Mclntyre has been tireless in trying to get the representatives together, adjourning when nothing could be done, and finally getting them together again yesterday- Dr Kissinger has been negotiating directly with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I agree with Senator McManus that the problem in the Middle East, particularly the way the war started to blow up with both sides being fed by two of the great powers, had all the earmarks of what could develop into a world war. In spite of that I remain optimistic that the whole world realises the problems associated with the situation. I think this is shown not only by the Security Council but also by the interest the world is taking in the position. I understand that one member of the Democratic Labor Party has on the notice paper a motion on the Middle East war which may be debated this afternoon; and although this is a specific matter, if there is anything on which I can give information at that stage with the permission of the President I will certainly do so.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the proposed poll on the ban on the export of merino rams. Has the Minister made clear in the Parliament or to the public that the cases for and against the export of these rams have been written by officers of his Department and that they were then shown to some of the associations which are interested in this particular proposal? I ask the pointed question of the Minister: Has he made it clear that officers of his Department did originate the cases for and against in the proposed poll? I also ask the Minister if he recalls that at a meeting of Senate Estimates Committee F and again in this House some few weeks ago he did give the assurance that the cases which were to be sent out, apparently to those who had a right to vote, would be given to some members of the Senate including myself? The Minister may recall that he said he would see that I had a note of the cases. I ask the Minister: When is the poll to be held? When do the cases for and against the ban go out and will he see that members of the Senate who are interested get a copy of the cases?
-I had on my desk, I think 2 days ago, copies of the cases for and against to be forwarded to members of Estimates Committee F, including Senator Webster. I thought that they would have been delivered by now. I signed a letter to the Chairman of the Committee and I would assume that if he has not received the pamphlet there must have been a breakdown somewhere along the line. That was done 2 days ago and I assumed that he had received it by now. So far as the earlier part of the question is concerned it is not true to say, as I indicated earlier in answer to Senator Webster on this matter, that my departmental officers drew up the case. It was spelled out quite clearly from the very beginning that the 2 arguments would be drawn up in consultation with the bodies which were named and which would be affected by the referendum. Naturally I was not personally present at the discussions which took place. I say in good faith- I believe it to be true- that my Department would have considered seriously the suggestions which were made by the primary industry bodies associated with the drawing up of the pamphlet. I think it is quite wrong to imply, as obviously has been done in the question, that the arguments were drawn up by my Department disregarding the considerations of those other bodies. I assure the Senate that that is not the case. The ballot commenced on the 22nd of this month. It will be open for one month and will close on 22 November.
– As the Minister for Primary Industry is no doubt aware of the concern of farming organisations at the lack of uniformity between the States on safety regulations which apply to tractors and other farm implements, will he indicate whether anything is being done or whether anything can be done to overcome this serious problem?
– The only comment I can make about this matter is that I had some discussions recently with the Australian Tractor and Farm Machinery Association which drew this matter to my attention. I am not conversant with the details of the matter and I was not conversant with them at the time I discussed it with the Association. It appeared that there was considerable need for greater safety measures to be adopted as I understand that there has been as many as 100 deaths in the last 12 months from accidents on farms. What I have agreed to do is to refer the matter to the Australian Agricultural
Council at its next meeting on 2 November for further consideration.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. It refers to the examination which Senate Estimates Committee A is making into the item of appropriation for payment of $62,900 to Sir Richard Kirby on the occasion of his retirement from the office of Chief Justice of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Attorney-General will remember that I have requested that papers in connection with the matter be tabled. Last evening he was good enough to undertake that that would be done. I ask the Attorney-General: Will he arrange to table those papers today so that they will be available for our consideration during the week that Parliament is in recess.
-I will endeavour to do so. I spoke to Senator Wright last night and indicated the position to him. I think he spoke originally about a file. The file includes some Cabinet documents or some other matters of a very personal nature which I am sure he would not want. But I indicated that I thought that there could be extracted from the file documents which would probably meet his wishes. The original letter was written by the former President. I stress that the office is President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Documents which can be extracted should enable the honourable senator to see the way in which the matter arose. I think that probably this can be done today. If it cannot conveniently be done today the letter certainly could be put before the Estimates Committee when it next meets.
– My question which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer concerns housing interest rates. Is the Minister aware that many people find the recently imposed extra bank interest quite hard to pay, particularly when the interest has to be paid after paying tax. As it has been suggested that interest rates will again be lifted in the next 12 months, will the Minister give the people of Australia a definite statement that the Government will control interest rates and not allow them to be further increased by the banks so that home buyers will know what they are letting themselves in for when they buy a home?
-I shall refer the matter to the Treasurer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister who I believe is responsible for the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Literary Fund provided a 6-month fellowship in 1969 valued at $3,000 for the completion of a so-called novel entitled ‘The Wort Papers’. Has anyone yet succeeded in reading the whole of this book without disastrous consequences to his mental health unless, of course, he was mad before? Would the Minister examine the circumstances and criteria in and by which the Commonwealth Literary Fund disburses taxpayers’ funds for the production of unreadable trash?
– Of course, this occurred in 1969. That was probably during the time of Prime Minister Gorton who would then be administering the Fund. The honourable senator said that the writer must have been mad.
– I did not say that. I said that the reader must be mad.
– I cannot really give any useful information on that. As to whether the Commonwealth should be subsidising unreadable trash, I would think that probably it would be better for it to subsidise unreadable trash than to subsidise readable trash.
– I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry has had several discussions with organisations involved in the apple and pear industry about marketing arrangements for that industry. Can he indicate whether any firm conclusions have yet been reached that might be for the benefit of the growers?
– All I can say in reply to that question is that there have been many discussions held with various interests in the apple and pear industry. I will be making a statement later today on the formation of the proposed Australian Apple and Pear Corporation which I think will spell out in some detail the matter to which the honourable senator has referred.
– In directing a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, I refer to reports that it is the intention of the Postmaster-General to close some 300 official post offices throughout Australia. Is this a firm decision by the Government? If it is, can the Minister assure the Senate that the services to the public will not be reduced as a result of these closures?
Although I have not seen the report, I assume that it emanates from discussions that took place at the meeting of one of the Senate Estimates Committees last Monday where it was reported that the Postmaster-General’s Department is giving consideration, if I recollect correctly, to the transference of about 1,000 official post offices and non-official post offices. Consideration will be given to making official post offices non-official post offices and in the case of some non-official post offices, closing some of them down over a period of 3 years. So in the aggregate it is estimated that official and non-official post offices in that respect will be affected in a period of 12 months. The officers of the Post Office are giving very close consideration to this. I understand that this is only a proposal at this stage and no definite determinations have been made. The matter is being looked at from the point of view of a cost analysis and certainly of service to the public.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to an article entitled ‘Commandos train for PNG “extraction” operation’ which appeared in the Australian Financial Review’ of Monday, 22 August 1 973? Briefly, the article states:
Incursion and extraction’ are military terms being used to describe an exercise to take place in Papua New Guinea next February in which the elite of the Australian Army, the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR), will put the final touches on a contingency plan drawn up in case of trouble in the post independence era.
Hypothetical exercises based on a threat to the ‘stability’ -
– Order! Senator Brown, you are giving far too much information.
– It is essential, Sir, to render my question intelligible.
– All right.
– There is only a further brief reference:
Hypothetical exercises based on a threat to the ‘stability’ of Papua New Guinea have been held in Australia in recent months but the SASR has not been previously mentioned as pan of any contingency plan.
Will the Minister assure the Parliament and the people that our nation will not be a party to furnishing any military aid in an internal security situation in Papua New Guinea?
– I will refer the question to the Minister for Defence for a full answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I refer to a question asked earlier this week by Senator Young relating to questions on notice concerning the proposed petrochemical plant at Redcliffs, in South Australia. I remind the Minister that there are 5 questions on notice in the name of Senator Young and one in my name. Before the Minister for Minerals and Energy goes overseas, does he intend to respond to the request to provide answers, or does he intend to evade this issue which is of urgent and immediate interest to South Australia?
– I imagine that the Minister for Minerals and Energy would be about the last Minister to evade anything; I would have thought that would be well known publicly. I am not in a position to say whether the answers to these questions will be available before he leaves for overseas tonight. As soon as question time is over I shall contact him with a view to ensuring that, if at all possible, those answers be provided before he leaves.
-Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen reports in this morning’s Press that Mr Noel Hogan, President of the Australian Farmers Federation, has claimed that farmers have been fooled and deluded by the Country Party and that he has declared himself in opposition to the Country Party’s stand against the Industries Assistance Commission? Where do Australian farmers stand on the establishment of the Commission?
– I certainly did see that news report. In fact, I was a guest of the Australian Farmers Federation at the function referred to in the Press report. I do not imagine for one moment that Mr Hogan ‘s comments are any reflection of any thoughts which I may have expressed because I think that Mr Hogan can speak in his own right. I think it was an extremely significant statement because it is quite apparent to me, from the discussions I have had, that the average Australian farmer is becoming more and more concerned about the long term viability of his industry. This is his first consideration, and it is fortunate that this is the line along which the present Government is operating. I do not really know what the average Australian farmer thinks about the Industries Assistance Commission, but I would be very surprised if he supported the line which is being taken by the Country Party because the Industries Assistance Commission will ensure that the support given to the Australian farming community will be completely justified and warranted.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In view of the fact that the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Gordon Bryant, was reported to have indicated to an Aboriginal university student that he was prepared to offer university students long vacation employment, will the present Minister consult those Aborigines who are engaged in tertiary education and offer them the same opportunities as the former Minister did? Has the Minister an answer to the question which I asked him previously about the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee?
– Some discussion is going on between my Department and the Department of Labour for the purpose of placing university students in employment during the vacation. Everything possible will be done to give employment during vacation to university students, particularly Aboriginal university students. My Department did some detailed study on the payment of subsidies to any enterprise which would employ Aborigines. We are now having a great deal of success in this regard, the number of Aborigines employed at the present time being greater than ever was the case previously. I told Senator Bonner yesterday in answer to a question that I would have for him today figures relating to the number of Aborigines enrolled for the purpose of electing members of the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. I can now report that in New South Wales enrolments total 5,931; in Victoria they total 1,011; in Queensland, 11,611; in South Australia, 2,478; in Western Australia, 7,938; in Tasmania, 358 and in the Northern Territory, 7,415; making a total of 36,742.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a statement by a producer member of the Australian Meat Board to the effect that next year graziers will face steep rises in sheep and cattle levies payable to the Australian Meat Board as a result of the halving of the Federal Government’s export promotion subsidy? If this is correct, will the Minister agree that increased costs to the meat industry will not help to increase production which is necessary if we are to meet the demands of both the home market and the export market?
– The Australian Government has decided to reduce the amount of money being used for meat promotion overseas- I understand that this is the matter to which the honourable senator is referring- by, from memory, approximately $ 1 50,000 or $200,000. 1 suggest that in the total overseas market, on which the value of Australian exports of meat this year will be in excess of $ 1,000m, this reduction could hardly be regarded as a significant impost on the industry. I would think also that should the industry decide to take up the leeway itself- it could well be in its own interests to do so- the average meat producer in Australia would not even remotely feel the effect of it.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, concerns the proposed poll on a new national anthem which is reported to be planned for early next year and in which, according to reports, the people of Australia will be limited in their choice to 3 songs, namely, ‘Advance Australia Fair’, ‘Song of Australia’ and ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Why has the present national anthem God save the Queen’ been excluded from the list? Does the Minister not agree that the Australian people should be given the chance to determine whether they wish to retain the present national anthem? Is the exclusion of the current anthem another step according with the declaration of the Prime Minister that the monarchy, in his words, ‘is outmoded and irrelevant’?
-I do not know the answer to the honourable senator’s question. I suggest that he place the question on the notice paper and the Prime Minister may be able to explain the matters raised.
– Sing the anthem.
-Senator Wright is offering to sing the anthem, I understand. That may enable us to arrive at a clear conclusion on which anthem ought to be preferred.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to reported statements that even if Australian wool growers vote in the affirmative on the question of the export of merino rams, the unions concerned will still refuse to allow the export of any rams? Will the Minister make it clear to those concerned that in the event of an affirmative vote the Government will take firm action to see that no union impediment will prevent the export of these rams? Will the Minister make it clear that the Government intends to govern and not be dictated to by such industrial organisations?
– An almost identical question was asked of me last week by, I think, Senator Drake-Brockman. I said then quite clearly, and I say again, that the Government is running the country. Let me assure the honourable senator that no outside interests, irrespective of who they are, are going to run it while the Australian Labor Party is in office. I did see a report of the action that the Australian Workers Union intends to take in the event of the referendum not going the way in which it apparently would like it to go. I am not in a position to direct any union as to what attitude it should take, but 1 hope that it will take a responsible view of this matter and that it will abide by the results of the referendum.
– I direct a question to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a recommendation by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in its report on Japan that machinery be established for consultation between the Government and industry prior to the next meeting of the Australia-Japan Ministerial Committee. As such a meeting is to take place within a few days I ask the Minister: Has this been done? Has there been consultation between the Government and industry? If not, why not?
-Broadly I think the answer is yes, but I will check it out for Senator Sim. The situation is that a permanent section of the Department of Foreign Affairs is working continuously on the whole question of JapaneseAustralian relations. As Senator Sim is well aware, the meeting that is to take place soon- a group of Ministers will be leaving Australia tonight- will be the second of these meetings at a ministerial level. The Japanese visited Australia last year and Australia is returning that visit this year. There is a tremendous amount of interest in this meeting. I was in Tokyo a week or so ago and I know that a tremendous amout of work is being done on it. I think that broadly the answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes, the working committee within the Department is doing the sorts of things that the report recommended. But I will check on this matter and let the honourable senator have any further details.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I ask: Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the reference in the report of the Director-General of Health tabled yesterday that the number of prescriptions for tranquillisers nearly trebled in the last 12 months? Does the Minister agree that this represents a situation with serious social as well as medical and even political implications? Will he ask his colleagues to undertake a program of research into the reasons for this increase and seek the cooperation of social workers and others engaged in welfare work?
– I did notice the reference in the annual report of the Director-General of Health that the number of prescriptions for tranquillisers had nearly trebled in the last 12 months. For some considerable time all members of the Australian Parliamentboth in this place and in another place- have been referring to this problem. I know it is a matter that is causing the Government some concern. The Minister for Health, Dr Everingham, is giving the matter consideration. I will refer the honourable senator’s question to him and ascertain whether the suggestions the honourable senator has made about social workers will be heeded.
– I ask: Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of the general hostility and aversion felt by the man in the street, his wife, and the small shopkeeper in particular, to the use of metric units for weights and measures- very different from the general acceptance of decimal currency? Is he aware that the general public believes that the promised advantages have not materialised and that grams, millilitres and kilometres are mysterious? Is he aware of the clumsy units which have been forced upon the public- for example, a 26-oz bottle of beer has become a 740-millilitre bottle of beer and no litre bottles will be made? Also, how many metres are in a cricket pitch? Is he aware that metric units are being used to bolster inflation both in private industry and in the Post Office? Will the Minister re-examine the position and ascertain whether this extremely expensive decision could, even at this very late hour, be reversed?
-There is a Metric Conversion Board, of which I understand Dame Ivy Wedgwood, formerly of this chamber, is a member, and it is endeavouring to bring these changes in smoothly. The honourable senator asks me whether it is a change for the better. I suppose if one had been born in France one would find it just as difficult to change over to a system of pints, feet and inches. On being asked whether it is a change for the better I would say that it is possibly 2 steps forward and one step back. If we had wanted to adopt the perfect system we would obviously have gone for that system which combines the advantage of the zero, which is the reason for our moving to the metric system, and the advantages of the 12 with its divisibility by 2, 3, 4 and 6, as against 10 with its simple division by 2 and 5 which is not very helpful and leads in practice to great fractions. The duo-decimal system is one which the world will probably accept on the next occasion that this great problem is dealt with. The disadvantages we are striking we will just have to put up with, because we are moving towards some kind of world uniformity in this field.
-On the eve of the departure for Japan of the Minister for Primary Industry I remind him of representations made to him that he should negotiate for the acceptance of Australian apples in the Japan trade. Can he assure us that in the course of his meetings he will be engaged in negotiations to that end?
– Yes, I certainly will be, and I will be making a statement to that effect before I leave.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. You are no doubt aware of the decision taken in another place yesterday to request a joint meeting of both Houses to decide the site of the new and permanent Parliament House. As the Senate carried a similar motion during the life of the last Parliament, can such a meeting be convened now or does it first require further consideration by the Senate?
– I will read out in the course of today a message from the House of Representatives on this matter. I do not think at this juncture that it is a matter for the Presiding Officers. It will be a matter for discussion between the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition as to what time this matter will be brought on for discussion in the Senate.
– And the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party.
– And the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party.
– And the Independents.
– And I have no doubt that the Independents will have a word in it, too. When the Leader of the Government and the leaders of the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party, take this matter into consideration on the floor of the Senate they should examine where the joint meeting should be held, under what Standing Orders it should be held and who is to be responsible for presiding over and the conduct of such an assembly,
– I ask the
Minister representing the Treasurer whether his attention has been drawn to a statement by the Assistant General Manager of the Bank of New South Wales that the Federal Government is exacerbating inflation in Australia by failing to curb its own expenditure. Has this view been expressed by many other prominent figures in the banking and economic fields, including officers of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Treasury? If the Minister believes that these critics are wrong, when does he expect a downturn in the rate of inflation and what will cause its fall?
-No, I have not seen the statement referred to, but I accept that what Senator Drake-Brockman has said about it is correct. I do not think any one of the other bodies referred to has agreed on what he suggests as a cause. I am certainly not going to put myself in a position of trying to forecast what world inflation is going to be.
– I address my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In announcing the 25 per cent tariff reduction of 18 July 1 973 the Prime Minister stated that in future by-law administration will be more flexible. Will the Minister advise the Senate what action, if any, he has taken to implement this decision?
– As honourable senators are aware, the Prime Minister’s announcement of tariff cuts followed the Government’s consideration of the Rattigan Committee’s report on possible ways of increasing imports. One of the prime objectives of the cuts was to restrain price increases by increased competition. As I recall the Rattigan report, it said that a less restrictive administration of customs by-laws would give both short and long term benefits. The report did not say what those benefits might be. However, I have looked into the matter with officers of the Department and I believe that, as with the tariff cuts, a more flexible approach to by-laws will generate more efficiency and competition in industry and must act to restrain price increases as well as improve the availability of goods.
Only recently in this chamber I said that duties were being waived on goods such as foodstuffs and some types of steel because shortfalls in local supply forced Australian users to buy the balance of their requirements overseas. I have also instructed the Department to be more flexible in regard to other relevant factors so that by-law entry will be granted in many cases where it might otherwise have been refused. Some of these factors are price, delivery times, suitability of goods for particular end uses, compatibility of equipment, one-off requirements and technological advances. In essence, potential Australian suppliers are put on their mettle to compete with imports to give the buyer or user what he needs. I am sure that this will bring benefits to the whole community. At the same time I want to stress that this approach will not be applied so as to deprive efficient local industry of the tariff protection it fairly merits.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy whether it is a fact that the Government has approved revaluation compensation for the asbestos company Woodsreef Mines Ltd? Is this the first case of revaluation compensation to a mining company being approved? Is it also a fact that negotiations are continuing to change the control of the company which is owned 58 per cent by a Canadian group and the rest by the Australian public? Is the Australian Industry Development Corporation involved in these negotiations? Finally, is it to be taken that revaluation compensation to mining companies will be determined by whether the companies are controlled by overseas or Australian interests?
– I have no knowledge of the matter raised by Senator Maunsell. I will have it referred to the Minister concerned.
– I direct my question to the Minister who represents the Minister for Secondary Industry. As the manufacture of motor vehicles provides one of Australia’s greatest secondary industries and is of vital importance to South Australia particularly, I ask the Minister whether he will have inquiries made into the reasons for the significant increase of the share of the Australian market captured by imported cars since January of this year which is to the detriment of the local industry.
– I shall refer the question to the Minister concerned and obtain an answer.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy refers to the answer that the Minister was good enough to give to me yesterday in response to my previous representations in regard to revaluation compensation for the tin miners of north-eastern Tasmania. I notice that the Minister says in answer that the representations of the small tin miners are now being examined and a decision will be reached as soon as possible. I ask the Minister to note that that language does not indicate any sense of urgency. I ask him to assure me that the Minister for Minerals and Energy realises that these are small tin miners whose continued livelihood is threatened by rising costs and that a decision is urgent. Further, the answer refers to the fact that the price of tin per metric ton has increased from $27.48 before the first revaluation to a present figure of $3 1 .86. Lest that be a misleading guide, I remind the Minister that I said that although there has been that marginal increase in price, if there had been no intervention by the Government the present price would be nearer $40 per metric ton, and that in the meantime rising costs have absorbed the whole of this marginal increase in price.
– I am not even clear what the question is. I did not even know that I had been asked a question.
-I will put it again, Mr President. I ask the Minister, firstly, whether he will assure me that despite the apathetic terms in the first part of the answer I received yesterday, the Minister for Minerals and Energy understands the need for an urgent decision. Secondly, will the Minister assure me that despite the language used in respect of the increase in price, the
Minister for Minerals and Energy understands that but for the Government’s intervention, the price would have been nearly $ 10 per metric ton more, and that in the meantime the increase in price referred to has been absorbed by rising costs? Do I penetrate now?
-I would have thought that the phrase ‘as soon as possible’ would have penetrated anybody’s mind as indicating that that is as soon as anything can be done. That was mentioned in the answer that I gave the honourable senator yesterday. I am sure that the other matters referred to in the honourable senator’s comments will be taken into account when the matter is considered by the committee.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to the statement made in answer to a question asked by Senator Drake-Brockman, that there will be a preliminary inquiry and subsequently a court of marine inquiry into the sinking of the ship ‘Blythe Star’. Will the Minister endeavour to ensure that the Government will extend the inquiry into the sinking of the ‘Blythe Star’ to include the subsequent search and the reasons for the failure of the most expensive maritime search in Australian history which, though using large numbers of defence aircraft and naval ships with all their allegedly sophisticated equipment, failed to locate the survivors while they drifted for 8 days, including across the mouth of the Derwent River?
– I understand that there will be a preliminary investigation under section 377a of the Navigation Act and presumably there will be a court of marine inquiry under, I think, section 358 of the Act. These will be comprehensive inquiries. Already the Senate has been informed that Mr L. W. D. Taylor has been appointed to make the preliminary investigation into the loss of the ‘Blythe Star’.
– I am concerned about the defence aspect.
– I have no doubt that everyone would want a full inquiry into why the search was not successful. I do not think there is any doubt that the Government would want to know just what happened. We cannot assume anything from statements that have been made. The purpose of the inquiry is to get to the bottom of the matter, and I think there is little doubt that the Government, and not only the Minister for Transport but also the Minister for Defence, would want to know whether the procedures were efficient and, if not, why not.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Did the Minister not think it regrettable that Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Ltd and the Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia did not participate in the recent medical fees inquiry to defend the rights of fund contributors?
– I did not know that those two organisations did not take part in the inquiry regarding social insurance. If they did not- and I assume from the honourable senator’s statement that they did not- I would think, because of the large number of contributors to those funds, it is a great pity that they did not contribute the information that they could have contributed to such an inquiry.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the action of the Federal Government in substantially increasing the general overdraft interest rate to a record level with consequent sharp increases in all interest rates including home purchase and hire purchase rates. Is the Minister aware that an average family paying off a home or acquiring a motor vehicle and one major domestic appliance on hire purchase is now faced with an increased monthly interest payment of between $30 and $40, a huge drain on family purchasing power and a savage increase in inflation? In view of the utter failure of the Government’s higher interest rates policy, will the Government undertake an urgent review in order to bring early relief to all families committed by government action to such serious hardships in both home purchase and hire purchase?
-I do not know what is the basis of Senator Carrick ‘s figures. Naturally if interest rates are increased some extra expenditure follows. As to the future, since very obviously in an inflationary period which the world is going through at the moment all those things are taken into consideration, the interest rate is one charge which would be under the constant surveillance of the Government.
– Further to my question of yesterday I ask the Minister for the Media whether he has any further information on what coverage television stations will give to the Prime Minister’s visit to China and Japan?
-As I mentioned to the honourable senator yesterday, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Channel 0-Ten network will be sending television teams with the Prime Minister’s party on its visit to Japan and China. I am not in a position to say what the Channel 9 organisation is doing about television coverage of the visit. However, I have been informed that the ‘Sydney Morning Herald ‘ group will be sending 3 journalists to accompany the Prime Minister’s party. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ also has appointed a topline woman journalist, Miss Margaret Jones, to a position in Peking. The Channel 7 group in Melbourne will be sending a television cameraman and that group ‘s film, I understand, will be made available to the Channel 7 network in Australia.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. During the absence of Senator Willesee I directed questions to the Leader of the Government concerning our resolution on Russian dissidents. I ask Senator Murphy if he will accept a compliment and I would ask him, if he would, to convey to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs appreciation for the speed with which the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Laurence Mclntyre, has been instructed to bring to the attention of the Secretary-General of the United Nations the terms of the Senate resolution of 27 September concerning political dissidents in the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics.
– I am prepared to accept a compliment for the Prime Minister or myself at any time. I wish only that there were more of them coming from the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I refer to the ownership and control of steel gas pipes intended for the line from South Australia to Sydney and to the ownership of the company East-Australian
Pipeline Corporation. I ask the Minister: Is he aware of a reply which came through him to me from the Minister for Minerals and Energy in recent days which indicated that the Australian Government does not at present own the share capital in East-Australian Pipeline Corporation? If this is so, does this situation indicate that the Australian Government has paid out something in excess of $40m for pipes, the accounts for which have been submitted by a company which this Australian Government does not control? Will the Minister be prepared to lay on the table of the Senate the agreement by which the Australian people are secured in the action of the Australian Government paying for this enormous amount of steel imported from Japan and from local suppliers?
– I do recall the answer which was transmitted from the Minister for Minerals and Energy to Senator Webster. I think that what Senator Webster is seeking is further and more detailed information. I shall refer the question to the Minister.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926-1949, I present the report of the AuditorGeneral on the accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present a report prepared for the Australian Government Cities Commission by John Paterson Urban Systems Pty Ltd, Melbourne, entitled ‘A National Urban Framework’. As only a few copies of the report are available, I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library for use by honourable senators.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the final report of the Committee on Administrative Discretions dated 17 October 1 973. As only a few copies of the report are available, I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library for use by honourable senators.
– Pursuant to section 3 1 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953-1966, I present the twenty-first annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for the year ended 30 June 1973 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General ‘s report on those statements.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the fifteenth annual report of the Snowy Mountains Council for the year ended 30 June 1 973.
-by leaveOn 30 August the Senate approved a request I made on behalf of the Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians for an extension of time for the presentation of the Committee’s report until the first sitting day in November 1973. We have since encountered further difficulties in that our program for the completion of hearings was disrupted by recent air transport problems. The delays in the production of the Hansard record of evidence, to which I referred in the Committee’s interim report, hampered our deliberations but this difficulty has now been overcome thanks to special efforts by Hansard and the Government Printer. In view of these unexpected problems the Committee requests a further extension of time for the presentation of its report, which I am confident can still be presented during the current sittings of the Senate. I would add that while there are some witnesses still to present evidence, sections of the draft report which will not be affected by this evidence are in course of preparation.
The Committee proposes that its report be presented as soon as it is possible to do so, but rather than attach a date to this I would seek the Senate’s agreement for the Committee’s report to be presented prior to the conclusion of the present sittings of the Senate on the assumption that this will not eventuate before midDecember. I therefore ask leave to move a motion requesting an extension of time for the Committee to complete its task.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Townley) agreed to:
That the time Tor the presentation of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians be extended to the first sitting day of December.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 6 November next, unless sooner called together by the President, or, in the event of the President being unavailable owing to illness or other cause, by the Chairman of Committees.
– Pursuant to my contingent notice of motion I move:
That concerns general business at 4.30 p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
I point out that that is the motion in relation to the Middle East war moved by Senator Kane on which I think Senator Wriedt has the adjournment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have received message No. 20 1 , dated 24 October 1973, from the House of Representatives in which the House of Representatives transmits to the Senate the following resolution which was agreed to by it and requests the concurrence of the Senate therein:
This House is of the opinion that (a) the site for the new and permanent parliament house should be determined forthwith; (b) a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter; and (c) planning for the new parliament house should commence immediately.
The message was signed by James F. Cope, Speaker of the House of Representatives, on 24 October 1973.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That consideration of the message be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Consideration resumed from 17 October (vide page 1306).
– When the Committee last had the amendment to this clause before it I think I had indicated the reasons why the Opposition proposed the amendment. While I repeat that the amendment is not one of great substance, I think that it should facilitate the operation of provisions to which the parties have agreed. Because it has that function in an area which otherwise could be very controversial it is an amendment which ought to appeal to the Committee as a whole.
– Clause 27 deals with the right of entry of union officials. The amendment seeks to insert after the words working hours’ the following words ‘but subject to any conditions provided by the relevant award’. We do not accept the amendment. I am one who has had a long experience in relation to the right of entry of union officials. At one period they had no right of entry. This is a matter related to conditions of employment. Agreements between employers and union officials for union officials to go to establishments, upon notification, seem to work satisfactorily. Now the Opposition seeks to impose the condition that the visit has to comply with the conditions of the award, which necessitates consideration by the tribunal possibly after representations by the Chamber of Manufactures or other employers’ organisation, which is no more informed on the industry than is the Commission. There could be restrictive conditions in the award. We take the matter no further than opposing the inclusion of the words.
– I urge the Opposition not to proceed with the amendment. If it is carried it could prejudice good working arrangements. In an industry, different unions operate in the same establishment. Take, for instance, an establishment in which clerks, boilermakers, blacksmiths and other tradesmen work. That establishment would have what is known as a shop committee. It would comprise representatives of each union. Quite frequently a union organiser going into the establishment would be required to speak to somebody who is not a member of his union. For instance, an organiser from the Amalgamated
Engineering Union may be required to speak to a representative of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia or to a representative of the Federated Clerks Union. An organiser from the Clerks Union may go into the establishment and may have to speak to employees who are not members of the Clerics Union. Under those circumstances, the Opposition amendment could present a lot of unnecessary difficulty.
I do not know whether the Oppositon knows this, but I would say that on 99.9 per cent of the occasions on which a union organiser goes into an establishment he goes first to the employer or the employer’s representative. That is a common courtesy. I would say that the employer would do exactly the same if he visited a union establishment. I am not trying to make out that the unions are ultra courteous. They are not; they just show the common courtesies that would be extended by a stranger coming in to a person’s home. The unions regard the establishment as belonging to the employer as it does. When they are entering an establishment they pay the common courtesy of going to the employer or to the employer’s representative. Senator Greenwood sits there with that knowing look on his face.
– I am only thinking that your argument is really an argument against even putting in the clause that the Government is proposing.
– No, I do not think so. The honourable senator should be fair. That is not so at all. This clause is regarded in trade union circles as one of the most important provisions in the legislation, namely, the right of entry. By its amendment the Opposition is attempting to restrict that right of entry which could cause complications. I am trying to point out to the honourable senator -
– It was not in the Bill until the Government proposed it, and we are only amending what the Government has put in the Bill.
– If Senator Greenwood wants a running battle with me on these issues, he may have it.
– God forbid.
– The honourable senator says ‘God forbid’, and that suits me too. The point is that if the Opposition proceeds with this amendment it will cause difficulties in industry, and surely the object of everybody should be to avoid difficulties in industry. I have indicated to the honourable senator how this amendment will operate if he proceeds with it. I have tried to show, too, that unions, as more than a general proposition, exercise some degree of courtesy when they enter an establishment. If the Opposition has its way it will break down many of the practices that have been built up over the years which employers themselves recognise. Employers recognise shop committees in establishments where there is a multiplicity of unions operating. The employers themselves encourage the establishment of shop committees. In these circumstances if the Opposition proceeds with its amendment then I say, with respect, that it will not assist industry; it will be going out of its way to create difficulties for industry.
– I rise briefly to support the statements made by Senator Milliner. I do so in the context that in these days we have disputes in the fringe area which is not strictly covered by an award. Settlements are not reached either in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or before a Conciliation Commissioner. For Senator Greenwood ‘s benefit let me say that the people covered by these terms ‘area shop stewards’ or shop committees’ are doing a tremendous amount for the employees in relation to canteen services and, in this modern context, in relation to the employer providing sufficient car parking space. Conflicts are solved in the main by on the job discussions between area Committees and management. In this regard there would not be the secretary of any union or possibly a paid organiser who would have at his fingertips the relevant facts that the people in the shop would have. This means, in effect, that if an organiser of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia and perhaps somebody from the Federated Storeman and Packers Union of Australia who happened to be the secretary of the area went on to the same job, the shop steward secretary would be able to rattle off to them the sins and omissions of the existing catering service or whatever was the cause of dispute.
I know of a case in which the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union was involved in a dispute with the Sunbeam motor corporation. The real cause of the friction was not the employer; it happened to be the Botany Municipal Council. The shop stewards were spearheading a campaign for better parking facilities. There had been accidents outside the plant. Finally there was a 2-hour stoppage by the members of about 1 1 unions concerned, involving both white collar and blue collar workers, to convince the Botany Municipal Council and the Police Department that their failure to provide adequate parking facilities and to provide a policeman on duty was constituting a hazard. But these matters to which I have referred are not matters on which an Arbitration Commissioner would be expected to rule because they are matters which can be solved at the lower echelon level. I share Senator Milliner’s fears that if anything is tacked on difficulties will arise because perhaps only 2 employers out of 100 will attempt to be as rigid as the amendment suggests. We are saying that the status quo recognises the very valuable role played by those who are encompassed in the terms ‘area shop stewards’ and ‘shop committees’ in curbing and controlling what I would call brushfire industrial tensions.
– I rise only in deference to the fact that two Government senators have advanced an argument suggesting that the Opposition should not pursue this amendment. I think there is a fundamental misconception in their approach. There is at the present time under this legislation, no right for a union member or a union officer to enter upon an employer’s premises and to do the things which this clause is proposing to enable them to do. To that extent the clause which the Government is introducing is a new clause which confers a right, and it is a right in fairly substantial terms. That right is not being opposed by the Opposition. By this amendment all we are doing is saying: ‘Let it be accepted that there is a statutory right, in the terms in which the Act gives to officers of an organisation, to enter upon premises’. But- this is the point of the Opposition’s amendment- if the employer and the employee organisation make an agreement which regulates the circumstances in which the officers of the employee organisation can go on to the premises, they should have the right to do so. The purpose of the amendment is to confer upon the parties the right to make their own agreement as to the circumstances and the conditions upon which an officer of an employee organisation can go on to the premises. If the parties do not make any agreement then the employee organisation, the union, can rest upon its statutory right. I do not think that is unreasonable. This is a mild limitation, if it be a limitation at ali. On a completely new provision which is being inserted, it is a totally reasonable approach.
– I am compelled to rise again because of the remarks made by Senator Greenwood. I do not think he is quite correct in what he says. I agree that for the first time we are giving to union officials the right, with some restrictions, to enter upon the employer’s premises. The union officials have to be authorised in writing to do so by the secretary of the organisation. If they wish to enter upon premises they must do so during working hours. They may enter any premises in which work to which an award binding on the organisation is applicable is being carried on, and the particular premises must be specified in the authority. They may also enter upon premises occupied by an employer who is bound by the award, and who is specified in the authority, if the purpose of entering the premises is to ensure the observance of an award. The entering upon premises must be for the purpose of inspection of award conditions. The provision seeks to permit the union organiser to have the right to watch over conditions and to apply the provisions of the awards of his * members. He may enter upon premises only to ensure the observance of the award and for the purpose of inspecting any work books or documents and interviewing any employee on the premises.
We have union officials as inspectors because it is obvious that the arbitration system has not been successful in ensuring that inspections are carried out. Possibly it would break the Commonwealth if we had to have sufficient inspectors to police every award in every detail. It is for that reason that we insert for the first time by means of this clause the right for union officers to inspect books and premises and to speak to any employee for the purpose of ensuring the observance of awards. The Opposition’s amendment seeks to give this right of inspection to someone else who may impose such conditions as would restrict what the Government proposes to such an extent that our proposal would have no effect. The Parliament decides that the unions should have the right of inspection to ensure that awards are being observed. If this power of inspection is given to someone else he may put so many restrictions upon that right of entry that it would be of no benefit to the individual or to the union. The very thing that Parliament is seeking to achieve will be defeated by the acceptance of the amendment. Its acceptance will take away the right of Parliament and put it in the hands of some other authority, such as a commissioner, with the restrictions that he will place upon the matter. I shall take the matter no further than to say that it is quite contrary to what Senator Greenwood suggested is in the interests of the community. The conditions of employment should be the subject of a decision of the Parliament and not of a commission or judge.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The purpose of the amendment is, of course, to define clearly the person who may be interviewedit is, of course, a very limited purpose which is there disclosed- and to indicate that there is an obligation upon an officer not to prevent an employee from performing the functions he is obliged to perform during working time. The amendment provides that an authorised officer shall not hinder or obstruct an employee in the performance of his work. This provision is sought to be inserted to clarify what otherwise might be doubts, to anticipate what might conceivably be problems and to ensure that the right which is being granted to a union officer to enter onto premises at any time is a right that is exercised in a specific way and not so as to prevent the ordinary fulfilment of duties by an employee.
– The amendment that is merely intended to clarify the motion has been the subject of a very disingenuous explanation by
Senator Greenwood. I suggest that his real purpose is to prevent any tendency on the part of union officials entering premises to do anything in the nature of the recruitment of non-unionists. I point out to him that this limitation on the right of a union official entering premises, confining him to dealing with members of his organisation, suffers from, a great logical flaw, and it is this: The amendment fails to recognise that the purpose of the right of entry is, as stated in the amendment, to ensure observance of the award. At times awards regulate the wages and conditions of an employee in an industry irrespective of whether he is a member of an organisation. It is therefore quite illogical to confine the right of a union official entering premises merely to people who are members of his organisation. This right should be totally unimpeded. I repeat what I said at the outset: The real purpose behind the amendment is to segregate people who are not members of a union from union officials who might be able to persuade them that it is in their interests to join the union.
– In order to overcome the objection of Senator James McClelland to this amendment, it is the intention of the Democratic Labor Party to suggest to the Opposition that it includes in its amendment after the word ‘organisation’ the words ‘or eligible to be a member’. As a trade union official I have been requested on several occasions to attend a factory where a person had refused to join the union. At the employer’s request I spoke to him to try to get him to join the organisation. Some people have religious reasons for not wishing to join. They become conscientious objectors. Unions adopt different techniques in trying to overcome the problem raised where an individual is genuine in his beliefs. Some people belonging to particular religious sects will not join a union at all. An employer does not wish to see this plant held up and is only too happy to have a union official talk to a chap under those circumstances if he feels that the matter is likely to disrupt his plant. The employee is not a member of an organisation at that stage but is eligible to be a member by virtue of the fact that he works in the plant. It would assist both sides of the industrial relationship if it were part of the Act that a union official could talk to an employee who was a member or who was eligible to be a member of an organisation.
The union official may meet other circumstances. For example the employee might have recently come into the industry or come back into the industry and might not have had time to join the union. If he is a new employee a question may be raised as to his margin of skill but the amendment would mean that the union official could not speak to him because he was not a member of the union at that time. He may have left the union or industry 10 years before and not have been working in the industry again sufficiently long for the shop steward to have interviewed him. These questions can often arise in industrial relationships on the very first morning of a person ‘s employment if he is a new hand. Invariably if he is working in the industry he is eligible to be a member of the union and if the words I have suggested were accepted by the Opposition and placed in the amendment it would cover the purposes the Opposition seeks and meet the objections raised by Senator James McClelland.
-The Country Party acknowledges the point made by Senator James McClelland. I think the suggestion by Senator Little to add to the amendment the words ‘or eligible to be a member’ following the word ‘organisation’ would certainly clarify the situation and the Country Party would be pleased to agree to the amendment in that form.
– The question which Senator James McClelland raised seems to forget the purpose of an award. This clause relates to an inspection to ensure observance of award conditions applying to a factory. That is the sole purpose of the clause. If an officer of an organisation has not the right to question or look at time books of employees who are not members of the organisation it places members of the organisation in a position where they could be victimised because they are the only employees in the factory on whom there is a check to see that they are working under award conditions. The union official would not be able to check those who are not members of his organisation. So that situation is unacceptable. Those eligible to join an organisation will be performing an operation in a factory covered by the award, in a classification covered by the constitution of the union. For example, in a foundry there may be moulders, grinders and other employees who are either members of an organisation or who have the right to join an organisation which would cover everyone working in that classification. The object of policing the award and seeing, for example, that there are no underaward payments made in the factory is achieved in that way.
The Government would be prepared to accept the suggestion of Senator Little to include the words ‘or eligible to be a member’ after the word organisation’. Rather than go any further at this stage I seek some information from Senator Greenwood as to whether he is prepared to go that far in amending his amendment. The Government is not happy with the restriction that an officer duly authorised shall not hinder or obstruct an employee during the performance of his work during working time, because this immediately creates this fiction in the industry that the officer has come in there to do that. The Bill would be better without that provision. The Government has no intention of having union officials obstructing or stopping work. We are prepared to accept the amendment upon inclusion in it of the words suggested by Senator Little.
– I rise, firstly, simply to reject the suggestion made by Senator James McClelland that the purpose or intention of putting the amendment forward was that which he ascribed to the Opposition and, secondly, to indicate that what Senator Little has suggested is acceptable to the Opposition. The Opposition will include in the amendment which it has proposed words of the nature that Senator Little has suggested. However, as a matter of drafting I suggest for Senator Little’s consideration that what should be put in are the words ‘or a person eligible to be a member’ after the word ‘ member’ where it first appears in the amendment. The amendment would then read: ‘Another employee being a member or a person eligible to be a member of his organisation on those premises’.
– There is no objection from me. It means the same thing.
– I agree with Senator Little that it means the same thing. Probably the penalty of having a lawyer in this place when a proposition of this character is raised is that he endeavours to put amendments in a form which is agreeable to the draftsman. I seek leave to amend the Opposition’s amendment in that way.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– In those circumstances the Opposition does not wish to respond further to what has been said.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 28 and 29 agreed to.
Section 58 of the Principal Act is amended-
– The Opposition has an amendment to clause 30. Clause 30 amends section 58 of the Act which provides that an award shall continue in force for whatever period is specified in the award not exceeding 5 years. There is provision that at the expiration of the period which is specified, subject to certain conditions which are set out in this clause, the award continues in force until a new award is made. The purpose of the clause in the Bill is to amend the existing provision and to draw a distinction between awards and agreements which are certified and which may be described as consent awards. An award which determines an industrial dispute shall continue in force for a period of 5 years, or where there is an agreement it shall continue in force for a period of 3 years.
The Opposition supports this distinction which is made of a 5 -year period for awards and a 3-year period for memorandum agreements, but it seeks to amend the provision in the Bill so that agreements, like awards, shall continue in force after their expiration until they are replaced. This objective is achieved by omitting paragraph (b) of the clause. The effect therefore will be that, subject to the general provisions in section 59, the award will run for 5 years and an agreement will run for 3 years, and in each case at the expiration of that period the award and the agreement shall continue indefinitely until replaced. The significant impact of the amendment which is proposed is to ensure that agreements which are memorandum agreements will be treated in the same way as awards. Accordingly, I move:
– I am not quite sure whether the Opposition quite understands the import of its proposed amendment. Senator Greenwood has adopted a curious attitude towards certified agreements. In debates on earlier sections of the Act in which we discussed amendments proposed by the Government Senator Greenwood sought to place barriers in the way of the making of agreements and the certification of agreements. It will be recalled that in an earlier debate he objected to the Government’s general proposition that these agreements should be made and certified provided that they did not create any major detriment to the public interest. That, to the Opposition and especially to Senator Greenwood, seemed to be altogether too permissive an attitude towards certified agreements and he insisted that they had to meet the test of being in the public interest before they could qualify for certification. But now he takes the attitude in regard to their duration that whilst admitting that there should be a different period they should be more or less on an equal footing to awards, that is, that they should continue in operation after they have expired. We believe that this would have the purpose of providing a disincentive to the renegotiation of agreements and would leave out-of-date agreements in force, which would be a potential source of industrial trouble.
The purpose of our amendment in paragraph (b) is to encourage the parties to renegotiate certified agreements before their period of operation expires. We believe that the effect of the Opposition’s amendment will be to nullify this purpose. This is the reason why paragraph (b) is in our amendment. I do not know whether that is fully understood by the Opposition. But we believe that it should stand for that purpose. Under our amendment the parties to the certified agreement will advert to the fact that the certified agreement is to expire and they will, we believe, take pains to renegotiate the agreement. For that reason we believe that the provision in the Bill should stand as it is.
– I would like to say just a few words on this question because it is something which is very important in the context of the whole intention and purpose of the alterations that are being proposed to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Committee will remember the previous occasion on which Senator Greenwood amended the clause which sought to have agreements certified after it had been proved to the Commissioner that the agreement had been discussed with the majority of employees and that the majority of the employees had agreed to the agreement. This is the whole purpose of the legislation which is before honourable senators. We believe that the method of dealing with industrial disputes should not be by the imposition of penalties but should be by making everyone take part in and be responsible for the agreement that they have entered into. If they enter into an agreement they will observe it. If everyone makes a contribution to and is an author of the agreement, the parties to the agreement will not break their word.
But if at the expiration of 3 or 5 years the agreement, which was perhaps serving a purpose up to that point of time, becomes obsolete and the workers suddenly become restless because of their belief that the terms of the agreement are not satisfactory at that point of time, we could have industrial turmoil or industrial disputes during the period in which negotiations are being conducted for a new agreement or an amendment to the old agreement. Of course, there is always scope then for the legal claim that the parties involved are governed by an agreement entered into perhaps 8 years ago. As far as the legal people are concerned, this is the governing factor. But this is not sufficient inducement to men who could see themselves disadvantaged in comparison with their fellow workmen in a similar industry or some other industry. The result could be the creation of industrial disputes.
The purpose of the changes proposed by the Government is to get workers to participate in their industrial affairs. We want them to consider and to vote on the making of agreements. We want to give them the right to make a fresh agreement every 3 years. By keeping workers involved in the position of their industry and their conditions we think that we can get workers to participate and to co-operate. We believe that in this way we will help to stop the continual friction that occurs in industry. It is my claim that there can be no condemnation of this Government for strikes that have occurred or may occur in Australia when the Government is pledged not to impose penal clauses and the Opposition refuses to the Government the machinery which the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) is confident will prevent industrial disputes. The Opposition refuses to sanction or by amendment makes ineffective the very clause that the Minister puts faith in, that is, the provision which will enable worker participation. In effect, the Opposition is denying this Government the right to attempt to stop the industrial turmoil that does occur from time to time. Consequently the Opposition must take the responsibility for what is hapening in industry today.
– I rise only to respond to what has been said. I believe that the Opposition is fully aware of the import of what is involved in its amendment. If an award is to continue beyond the 5 years which is its set period, there seems to be in logic and in principle every reason why an agreement should continue for the same period. Under the provisions of the legislation, these agreements are to be equated and made a consent award, and if the parties are working under terms which are acceptable, then it seems to be conducive to industrial peace and reasonable relations for those conditions to continue as the backdrop against which negotiations for new agreements can take place. Negotiations as to what shall be contained ultimately in the award which is made can take place. Far from it being a factor which is likely to create discord and disputation, I would have thought that it would have precisely the opposite effect. What I say in response to what both Senator James McClelland and the Minister have said is that the Opposition believes that an agreement should be on the same basis as an award in this context as in any other context.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 1.2 to 2.15 p.m.
Clauses 3 1 and 32 agreed to.
Clauses 33 to 37- by leave- taken together.
Section 73 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted- “(3) In relation to industrial questions, the powers of the Commission under sub-section (2D) of section 28, and under sections 31, 34 and 35, are exercisable by a Full Bench and not otherwise.”.
Section 78 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted- “(3) In relation to industrial questions, the powers of the Commission under sub-section (2d) of section 28, and under sections 3 1, 34 and 35, are exercisable by a Full Bench, and not otherwise.”.
Section 84 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting subsection (I), (U), (2) and (2a) and substituting the following sub-sections: “(2a) In relation to industrial questions, the powers of the Commission under sub-section (2d) of section 28, and under sections 3 1 , 34 and 35, are exercisable by a Full Bench, and not otherwise.”.
Section 88ca of the Principal Act is amended-
Section 88v of the Principal Act is amended-
– Amendments, the terms of which have been circulated, will be moved to each of those clauses. The amendments seek to remove from those clauses a reference to subsection (2D) of section 28, and in one case sub-sections (2c), (2d) and (2e) of section 28. The purpose of the amendments is to give effect to a decision which the Committee made when it amended clause 1 9 of the Bill. Clause 19 of the Bill proposed to insert sub-sections (2c), (2d) and (2e) and the Committee removed from the clauses those intended subsections. Therefore, consistent with the decision already made it would be appropriate for the Committee to give effect to these amendments. Accordingly, I move:
Amendments agreed to.
Clauses, as amended, agreed to.
Section 88za of the Principal Act is amended-
– The Opposition desires to move an amendment to clause 38 also. Whilst it cannot accurately be described as a consequential amendment it is nevertheless an amendment consistent with an earlier amendment made by the Committee. Clause 38 seeks to amend section 88za of the Principal Act. It is a clause which seeks to bring in an expression which was earlier attempted to be brought into this Bill by clause 19 and which substituted for the concept of ‘the public interest’ which has long been part of the frame work of this legislation, a completely new concept, namely, ‘a major detriment to the public interest’. When the provision in clause 19 was before the Committee a long and sometimes involved debate ensued; but it was then recognised that the words ‘a major detriment to the public interest’ have an element of uncertainty and limitation and are not as satisfactory as the words simply expressed ‘whether or not a memorandum which is proposed to be certified is in the public interest’. The Opposition seeks to adhere to the expression which has been generally used and to which customary usage has given some indications or guidelines as to how it is to be interpreted. Accordingly I move:
It will mean in due course that the Chairman of the Conciliation Committee shall not refuse to certify a memorandum unless he is of the opinion that it is not in the public interest that the memorandum should be certified.
– I oppose the amendment as moved by Senator Greenwood. It is a repetition of an amendment which was inserted in a previous clause and in fact is taken word for word from the existing Act. I believe that the words ‘it is not in the public interest that the memorandum should be certified ‘ are too vague. Qualifying them by the words ‘a major detriment’ then establishes where a commissioner would have the responsibility for something that could be regarded as trivial- and this has happenedand for something which was really a major detriment. Last week when we were dealing with another clause Senator Cavanagh referred to what could happen in the event of the parties having an agreement signed. I think he referred to the Tramways Trust, saying that it could be argued that improved conditions, and probably higher wages, would mean that fares could go up. I can relate the circumstances of a case that did happen and where as a result of the vagueness of the provision of the existing Act a Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator refused an application for improved conditions under the Commonwealth Railways Determination. A reading of the transcript of evidence put forward by the advocates for the union and that put forward by the advocates for the Commonwealth Railways made it very obvious that the decision was not consistent with the evidence given by the witnesses who were called. However, when the union appealed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Court said it was not in the public interest for the Arbitrator to give this increased benefit of working conditions which were actually enjoyed by every other comparable industry in the Commonwealth.
The Court did not explain why it was not in the public interest beyond the vague suggestion that it could have resulted in increased freight rates and passenger fares charged by the Commonwealth Railways. In my opinion it would be giving a let-out to any Arbitration Commissioner to say that it may not be in the public interest. I think that the amendment moved by Senator Cavanagh certainly improves the existing section of the Act; it has that advantage over the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood in that it would be a better guide to a commissioner who has to make a decision. I strongly support the amendment proposed by Senator Cavanagh.
– The Government does not accept the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood. We recognise that it is a question of certification. Previously we had altered the provision in respect of the public interest but now the amendment suggests that it is not in the public interest that the memorandum should be certified. Of course, for the reasons given by Senator Cameron, it is too indefinite; it puts a greater restriction in the proposed sub-section. We think the provision should show that it has to be a ma jor detriment rather than just ‘in the public interest’. Accordingly we oppose the amendment.
– The question is:
That the words proposed to be left out, be left out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-The question is:
That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 39 and 40 agreed to.
1 ) Section 98 of the Principal Act is amended-
– The Opposition proposes to move an amendment to clause 41. As it stands clause 41 amends section 98 of the Act. Section 98 simply states:
There shall be a federal court to be known as the Commonwealth Industrial Court, which-
shall consist of a Chief Judge and not more than 7 other Judges; and
shall be a Superior Court of Record.
The amendments which are proposed by clause 41 substitute for the word ‘Commonwealth’ the word ‘Australian’ so that hereafter the Court shall be known as the Australian Industrial Court. The Opposition makes no point of that, but it would be grateful if the Government would explain why we have to have the word changed in circumstances where we do not feel that nationalism is greatly advanced and where confusion is bound to occur because it has been known as the Commonwealth Industrial Court for so long. But leaving that aside, the substantive amendment seeks to remove the limitation on the number of members of the Court from not more than 7 other judges after the appointment of a chief judge and to substitute the words:
Such number of other Judges as are appointed from time to time.
In short, instead of the Court being limited to, in total. 8 members, it will be a court of unlimited membership. The Opposition believes that the amendment in this area is unnecessary and I therefore move:
Omit paragraph ( b).
That will mean simply that the Court will consist of a chief judge and not more than 7 other judges. The Opposition believes that the amendment proposed by the Government is unnecessary because it is a court with limited jurisdiction and functions and it is certainly not overworked. I have had on notice for a long time a question seeking details as to the sitting times of the judges of this Court over the past 3 years. I have an anticipation of what that information will reveal. I know that in earlier years when I had a ministerial responsibility which comprehended a responsibility for these judges, the number of days and hours upon which they were engaged in matters in the industrial jurisdiction would have been the envy, I would think, of every Australian. Whilst the judges do have other commitments from time to time, such as the obligation to sit in the Northern Territory Supreme Court or the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, relatively little of their time is occupied in those jurisdictions.
I regret that there has been no indication by the Government as to why this provision should be increased. One would believe that if there were merit in increasing the provision one could and should be given details of the enormous sitting hours and burdens under which these judges labour, or an indication of an increased jurisdiction which necessitates an increase in the number of judges. If that sort of information is available we would welcome hearing it. But, as I say, the Opposition’s view has been based upon an assessment that this clause proposed by the Government is unnecessary, having regard to the limited workload which the judges have. Indeed, it seems inconsistent that while it is proposed to increase the number of judges of the Court, other provisions in this Bill propose an increase in the single judge jurisdiction of the Court. Whereas in some matters hitherto 3 judges had to sit, hereafter only one judge will have to sit. I feel that these are quite significant matters. I think that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has a general indication of why the Opposition is moving this amendment.
– I know why the honourable senator is moving every amendment, but it is not to his credit.
– I thought that the Minister and I were getting along famously and reasonably expeditiously in the course of the debate. I am sorry that an untoward comment might disturb the harmony which has hitherto prevailed. But I invite him, if he would, to deal with the substance and to give express reasons why it is proposed to amend this section. We would be grateful for any information which he could give us.
– In an attempt to restore the harmony which has not as yet disappeared and which I hope will not disappear, I point out that we have different ideas in relation to this clause. We are not in favour of the amendment and, Mr Temporary Chairman, I seek your guidance. I think that at this stage it would be necessary for me to give notice of a further amendment. Would that be the case?
– The honourable senator has regard to what happened yesterday, I imagine.
– No. Is that the circumstance? At any rate, I give notice at this point of a further amendment which I understand can now be distributed. It has been given to the clerks. We do not share the view that there may be no necessity for this amendment. In the area of industrial relations enormous sums of money can be lost and industries can be held up, sometimes for long periods, once a dispute has really started. Perhaps this could be avoided in the early stages if there were immediate access to the facilities of arbitration. The judges in this jurisdiction are not necessarily young men. Because of the very nature of the experience which is required of them, they are usually not so young as perhaps they themselves would like to be. They are subject to the usual limitations of the flesh, particularly as the years begin to pass, and it is not always possible for all judges to be available. We believe that the expense involved in having more judges would be as nothing when compared with the industrial harmony which could be achieved. If it is felt that there is a shortage of judges which in some way is likely to delay and cause further irritation and aggravation of industrial disputations, that situation should be remedied. The cost in itself is virtually nothing when compared with the cost of a major industrial dispute which may develop if there is an insufficiency of arbitration available.
We do not agree with the points made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Greenwood) that we base our consideration on the sitting hours of judges, any more than one with a sense and a knowledge of the functions of Parliament and the responsibilities of its members would consider only the sitting hours of members of parliament. One cannot take the sitting hours of judges and try to extract from the result the amount of work that they actually do. It could very well be that a judge will spend days considering the evidence in a case which took one day to submit in the court. He would compare the evidence with previous records and judgments and, of course, when he had arrived at a conclusion which, in his wisdom, was based on the evidence placed before him and which he thought was a fair and reasonable conclusion to the dispute, he would devote himself to writing a judgment and the justification for that judgment.
I think it would be unfair even to bother to research the sitting hours of judges, any more than we should try to assess the responsibility or value of lawyers when we pay the bill for a divorce court hearing on the basis of the number of moments, sometimes, that the lawyer appeared in court in the course of the hearing of the case. We do not accept that reasoning because we know that there is prejudice in the community, to which I must say that I am sometimes weak enough to subscribe, that lawyers are always astonishingly overpaid. Perhaps I feel that because I do not happen to be a lawyer. I would not in any way try to define, without more expertise than I possess, their responsibilities. I say this in regard to judges also.
As a copy of the amendment of which 1 gave notice has probably been distributed by now, I inform the House that our proposition is to omit from the paragraph (a) the words ‘seven other Judges’ and to substitute the words ‘nine other Judges’ in lieu thereof. We feel that it would be a mistake for the Parliament to give an unrestricted power to the Minister to be able to appoint judges at will or to meet circumstances. It is abdicating too much to the responsibility of the Minister. We believe that at this point of time perhaps it can be shown that, because of the new Government itself, there is a need for more Arbitration Court judges. It is for the Government to answer whether or not it is its policy that brings about this requirement. I point out that there does seem to have been an upsurge of industrial disputes that have occurred at great cost to the nation during the last 10 months or so. Be that as it may, if it is the will and the wish of the Government that it should obtain the industrial harmony that we all seek by the appointment of several judges, we feel that that course should be open to it. We do not feel that it should have a completely open door to appoint as many as it will. But at least there should be an extension of the appointments that it can make at the moment. We believe that the addition of 2 judges, at least in the immediate future, should meet the requirements. Of course, it is always open to the Government if it finds that it has too many or too few judges after experiencing the effect of the amendment we will offer, to come back to the Parliament and make the necessary adjustments in the legislation itself. I give notice that at the appropriate time I will move the amendment which has been circulated in my name.
– I find myself, again, like Diogenes on this occasion, trying to inject a bit of common sense into the legislation. Whenever we watch television we are shown shortcuts, that can be applied, for example, in the kitchen so that things can be done more quickly. Yet, we have these hesitant people who ask: ‘What does the Government’s policy mean?’ If it created industrial harmony and led to speedy decisions, I would not care if another 20 appoin tments were made to the bench of the Industrial Court. I would not care as long as it led to effective decisions. I think I can illustrate what I mean in a simple way. The point might even get home to all New South Wales senators. There is a very small classification known as ‘despatch clerks’ in the Commonwealth car pool in Sydney. For over 1 2 months during the term of the previous Government and my Government I have asked the powers that be for these people to have their duties assessed on a work value basis. From both the previous Government and from my Government I have received the reply: Somebody is having a look at it. There is a simple case involving a couple of despatch clerks.
In 1973 we are being told about the push button age. Companies are installing computers in order to get speedier action. I question that they succeed in the light of the way that private insurance companies process claims made upon them. Be that as it may, I do not want to see any impediment that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) feels will prevent him from appointing an unlimited number of arbitrators or judges- whatever the designation- to get action. It is no use talking about people being docile and waiting their turn. I have said before that the meek do not inherit the earth. In fact, it is the big businessmen and the other people who take advantage of it. All that is intended in this legislation is that where a sudden exodus of people occurs from an industry there will be a unlimited number of people in authority to adjudicate on any dispute. It would be money well spent, irrespective of the amount involved.
– At present the Conciliation and Arbitration Act states that there shall be not more than ‘seven other Judges’. Of course, what the amendment seeks to do -
– Not more than seven additional judges apart from the Chief Judge.
– Yes, not more than seven other judges. The Government seeks to delete those words and insert the words: such number of other Judges as are appointed from time to time.
Of course, I agree with what has been said by both Senator Little and Senator Mulvihill to the effect that additional judges should be appointed if this would avoid any delay that may occur in hearings. If it is necessary to appoint them during the operation of this Act, the Government should have the right to appoint them. Under the Government’s amendment, there is no limit to the number of judges who may be appointed. It would depend upon what call for them is made. I would direct the attention of honourable senators to the fact that judges of the Arbitration Court are carrying out many other duties for the Government. They are not always on demand in regard to arbitration. In a further amendment of the Opposition we see that it is seeking to have 3 judges sitting in the Arbitration Court at any one time whereas the amendment the Government proposes is directed towards limiting the number of judges working in such a capacity at any one time to one. The Opposition apparently wishes to increase the work load on the judges but refuses to agree to the Government’s proposal. The Government desires to have its proposal accepted as the best working arrangment for the Act but we know the position in regard to the numbers in the Senate. At least to obtain some benefit from the Act, the ability to appoint another 2 judges is much preferable to not being able to appoint even those 2 extra judges. So at the appropriate time we will support -
– The Minister ought to acknowledge the wisdom of our amendment.
– I do not acknowledge the wisdom of it. I say that the Opposition Parties have us over a barrel. Being in that position, we will compromise and have some improvement on the present Act.
– I am very relieved to hear that if the amendment of the Liberal Party Opposition is not to be carried, at least we have the safeguard contained in Senator Little’s amendment. I think that 2 considerations are involved here. Firstly, to constitute a Court consisting of an unlimited number of judgesa number that shall be decided by the executive of the day- gives an opportunity of stacking a court that we should prevent by law.
– It was not the intention.
– I am sure that it was not. I am sure that the Government has all these wonderfully good intentions well covered for the time being. But what might erupt if the Government gained the power? It would not only be I who would suspect. What I am saying is that the important principle here is that a court should be constituted which is statutorily limited in its number of appointments. Parliament controls the number, otherwise the executive will have an opportunity to stack the court. We are dealing with a real court, a judicial court, that operates in the industrial field which is a most important jurisdiction in the Commonwealth law.
The other factor that deters me is the thought that any section of the Opposition in the Senate will accept the mere suggestion of the Government, without even a word of averment, that the present number of judges cannot conveniently discharge the duties of the Court. We have here a most miscellaneous congeries of people under one name, of Industrial Court. They are dispersed almost from Cape York to Matsuka in discharging all sorts of miscellaneous dutiesjudicial and for a large part, executive advisory duties. A judge of a Commonwealth Court should very rarely accept executive advisory duties. He is a member of the judiciary. He should devote his time exclusively to it. Not only are the various jurisdictions dispersed, but it has not been suggested, stated or proved that the time of the judges is fully occupied with judicial work. I regret the facile way in which we slip into burdening the expense of government with even an extra 2 judicial appointments if they are not shown to be necessary. If there were any statement or any proof that the appointments were at all necessary I would agree completely with the advocacy of Senator Milliner and other Government senators; err on the side of too many rather than too few. If 5 out of the 7 judges are devoting themselves to duties other than Industrial Court duties, do not come along to this Parliament seeking the passage of a Bill which provides for other appointments. That, in itself, would indicate that the real purpose was to stack the Court and not to have a Court sufficiently, duly and properly constituted to do its duties.
-I am sorry that I heard in this chamber today a member of the legal fraternity suggest that a judge of the Industrial Court or of any other jurisdiction could be influenced by or could take directions from a government. In effect, that is what Senator Wright said. He claimed that the Government had an ulterior motive for inserting this clause. He said that it would enable the Government to stack the Industrial Court. Inherent in that statement is the suggestion that the Government could influence the judicial appointees to bring down decisions in favour of the Government. Surely Senator Wright, with his lengthy legal experience, ought not to suggest such a thing. But he has done so. It appears to me that there is some credence to be given to the statement which I heard recently that if the Liberal-Country Party Government had been reelected Senator Wright would possibly have been appointed to the judiciary. In view of the fact that it was not re-elected, he now claims -
– What rot.
-I said only that I had heard it; I did not say whether or not it was right.
– I told you.
– Did you? Senator Wright’s criticism falls to the ground. He is wrong to criticise the judiciary. I was amazed also to hear Senator Greenwood say that as a result of his experience as Attorney-General -
- Senator Wright would make a good judge. I mean that. Why not appoint him?
- Senator McManus will be appointed to the Vatican shortly. That will fix him. Senator Greenwood said that as a result of his short- thank goodness- term as AttorneyGeneral he was not sure that these judges had been overworked, or words to that effect. He said it in a very kindly way. Nevertheless, the inference was that they were not at all times fully occupied in the Industrial Court. That would be true. I say that for an entirely different reason from Senator Greenwood’s reason. I believe that he, with his legal training, should know that all judges in all jurisdictions are required to continue their research into every field of endeavour in the legal profession. While they may not be engaged 100 percent in the duties for which they were appointed, it does not necessarily follow that they are not working. Senator Greenwood said, in his ignorance of the whole system of arbitration, that because an Industrial Court judge is not working full time in administering the affairs of the Industrial Court, he is not working. How do you, Mr ex-Attorney-General, know that the judge of the Industrial Court is not out doing splendid work resolving disputes? Do you, Mr ex-Attorney-General, know on how many occasions unions and employers are in conference, they cannot resolve a particular difficulty, they do not want to apply to the Industrial Court, so they seek the assistance of a judge of the Industrial Court to resolve their difficulties? You would not know the first thing about it. What do you think the Queensland Industrial Court did in the Mount Isa Mines dispute, which went on for 9 months? I, or anybody else who was associated with that dispute, could tell you that a member of the Queensland Industrial Court continually went to Mount Isa during those 9 months in an endeavour to settle that dispute.
– I think that you are confusing the issue.
– The honourable senator said all these things. Now he is being told the situation. The insertion of the clause does not necessarily mean that we will appoint another 10, 12 or any other number of judges. It is there in the event of its being necessary to appoint additional judges. I believe that it is an appropriate way to amend the Act.
– I commend Senator Little for a sensible and pragmatic approach to this problem. I wish to comment first on the curiously tortuous logic which we have heard from Senator Greenwood on this question of the need for additional judges. I remind him that section 104 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, as it stood before amendments were introduced by the then Attorney-General on behalf of the then Government last year, read:
The amendment to that section, sponsored by Senator Greenwood, altered ‘two’ to ‘three’. The next amendment to be moved by Senator Greenwood to this Bill seeks to omit an amendment which we are suggesting, namely that in proceedings under section 119, that is, for the imposition of penalties, jurisdiction should be capable of being exercised by one judge, not by three. Senator Greenwood proposes to ask the Committee to omit the words ‘proceedings under section 119’. In other words, he proposes that it shall be necessary for 3 judges to hear proceedings under section 119. It must be clear that that move will increase the workload of the Industrial Court. He asks us to agree to increase the workload of the Court.
– The Government has told the unions that there will not be any applications for penalties while it is in office.
-Look at the matter logically. The honourable senator is asking that 3 judges hear any applications for penalties. If the honourable senator thinks that there will not be any applications for penalties while we are in government, why does he bother to seek the removal of the words ‘proceedings under section 119’?
– Because you will not be in government for very long.
-This is one of those pious expressions of hope which are not a real substitute for logic. Senator Wright who I am sorry to see has left the chamber, asked us in the rather eccentric prose to which he resorts when his overheated temperament causes him to get a little excited to give him a word of averment. I take it that what he meant by that was that we should provide some evidence of the need to increase the membership of the Court. Apart from the fact that Senator Greenwood is insisting that 3 judges should sit in proceedings under section 1 19 of the Act, there is the fact that several of the judges of this court are engaged, more or less permanently, on other duties. There is Mr Justice Woodward who is engaged on an investigation into Aboriginal land rights. There is Mr Justice Nimmo who has been loaned to Fiji to help set up its Supreme Court. These are relatively new departures. There is Mr Justice Eggleston who is more or less permanently engaged on the Trade Practices Tribunal. I do not want to embarrass the other member of the court by naming him, but it is well known that there is another justice of this court whose work capacity is gravely affected by illness. We believe that this court already has been depleted in its strength and that it is reasonable to bring it up to strength. I am sorry that Senator Wright is not here to hear this explanation. He may not be familiar with the workings of this court. He may not know these facts. I am sure that if he did know them he would agree that these facts alone constitute sufficient reason for increasing the strength of the court.
The example that Senator Greenwood gave, without citing any figures, that this court is not overworked, that it is a court, I think he said, whose hours of work would be the envy of most Australians is, I feel, rather unworthy of him. As Senator Little justly said, it is not a true yardstick by which to judge the work of this court. This court has to deal with very complex matters, matters which take a long time to resolve. At the risk of being tedious the case of Moore and Doyle, to which I have often referred, is I think an example of the work with which this court is concerned. It is serious, complex legal work in which there is a need to weigh complicated facts and to wade through conflicting legal precepts. I make bold to suggest- I know this from my personal knowledge- that the time spent out of court in writing judgments on cases that may have occupied court for two or three weeks, such as the Moore and Doyle case did, accounts for infinitely more time than the time which is apparently spent in court itself. I do not think that this is an under-worked court. The tasks it takes on are of vital significance to the community and to the industrial peace of the community, to which the Opposition claims it is so dedicated. We are short-changing ourselves and the community generally if we take a miserable attitude towards the question of bringing this court up to the desirable strength. I think that the amendment moved by Senator Little will just about satisfy the requirements of this court.
As Senator Cavanagh has said, there was never any intention on the part of this Government to do the dire things that Senator Wright feared, such as stacking the court in order to achieve some ulterior social objectives. Even though ideally we would have liked more freedom of action in the number of judges that we could appoint, I firmly believe that if the amendment sponsored by Senator Little is adopted by the Senate we will have gone a long way towards satisfying the pressing need for more judges in this court.
– I am grateful that the Committee has at last received some reasoned argument and detail as to why it is necessary to increase the number of judges of this court. 1 am, as I have said, pleased that Senator James McClelland has provided the Committee with some such argument. The arguments that I have heard hitherto have indicated a confusion as to which court we are talking about. I think this was classically illustrated by the remarks of Senator Milliner and, indeed, to some extent the arguments put forward by Senator Little in favour of his amendment. These arguments would indicate that these honourable senators were looking on this court as being the court concerned with resolving, by conciliation or arbitration, industrial disputes. Of course, it is clear enough that, if necessary, hours and weeks of time must be taken up by negotiations in that type of judicial work. But this court, now to be known as the
Australian Industrial Court, is a court which operates in purely a judicial manner in this sphere of industrial law.
It is notorious that a very light burden of work has been imposed upon the judges of this court who are engaged solely, as I have said, in the judicial administration of this Act. Certainly the considerations which apply to them are different from those which Senator Milliner and Senator Little believe apply to the conciliation and arbitration process. I am glad to see that Senator Milliner has now returned to the chamber because I am having a shot at him. Although Senator Milliner thought that Senator Greenwood was ignorant of the whole judicial process, I regret to say that in fact it was Senator Milliner who was ignorant as to which court we were talking about.
My concern with this clause as it is printed is one of principle. Really the principle with which I am concerned is the same as that expressed by Senator Wright. I believe that the clause is wrong in principle, and certainly I would always oppose it. I am glad that the Opposition has decided to oppose the amending clause which would have allowed for no limit on the number of judges who may be appointed as members of this court.
– Do you feel that the Government is stacking the court?
– I am not saying it is stacking the court. I would not suggest for one minute that the Government which the honourable senator supports would do that. It is simply wrong in principle to have a court which may be stacked by any government. Therefore we as members of Parliament should ensure that such a power is never given to a government. Therefore I believe it is correct for the Opposition to bring forward this amendment. There may be some arguments as to why the membership of the court needs to be increased from 7 judges. I think Senator James McClelland has given some sound reasons for this. I am not happy with the situation as it exists. I am not happy about the fact that out of a court of 7 judges at least three of them are fully engaged on other duties. If one judge is really so incapable of pulling his weight on the court, as Senator James McClelland said, it seems that consideration should be given to his retirement.
I am rather disturbed, in fact, by the reasons that Senator James McClelland has advanced for the increase in the membership of the court. The fact of the matter is that there is a practical problem, namely, that there can be only 3 judges available to exercise this jurisdiction. Although they are faced with a fairly light work burden, it is nothing like that contemplated by some honourable senators who have spoken. There may well be some case for an increase in the number of judges. In those circumstances it would seem that Senator Little’s amendment, which would meet my objection in principle, is one which might well find general favour with the Committee.
– I wish to clear up a few points that have been raised. I am now in a position to say that the Government will accept the Australian Democratic Labor Party’s amendment. I think there is quite a lesson to be learned from this short debate this afternoon. The Waterside Workers Federation or any other trade union could teach the legal profession something about trade union unity. The trade unions believe that an injury to one is the concern of all. Today we have seen honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who are also members of the legal profession stand in their places and condemn the members of their own profession by questioning whether they have enough work to do in the Commonwealth Industrial Court. We have heard from them such brutal things as the statement that anyone who, through invalidity, is unable to pull his weight should be retired. Apparently that is the attitude of the legal profession. It would never be the attitude of the trade unions. There is a loyalty in trade union circles that is not apparent in professional circles.
Mention has been made of the use of judges on other than judicial functions. It should be remembered that it was not the present Government that initiated that procedure. Judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and other courts have for a long time been used on other than arbitration and judicial matters. I cite the appointment of a judge to inquire into the defence forces retirement benefits scheme. 1 cite also the appointment of a judge to inquire into the allegations of bastardisation at Duntroon. A judge was even appointed to decide the salaries and allowances that members of this Parliament should receive. He was engaged in that task for many weeks. That is what was done under the previous Government.
I thought the legal profession was an honourable profession that determined issues on the basis of justice, fairness and a strict interpretation of the law. Apparently, from what was said today, there are men in the legal profession who would be prepared to make a decision that accorded with the views of a particular government if it appointed them as judges. It was unfair of
Senator Milliner to suggest that Senator Wright would ever enter a disgraceful outfit that, sitting as a court, would be influenced by whoever appointed its members. I suggest that Senator Wright would never stoop to the extent that the professional men on the other side of the chamber are suggesting their legal colleagues would stoop to if they were appointed judges by a particular government. It has never been the intention of the present Government to encourage that. It has never thought that a professional man who took an oath of office to carry out the law in accordance with his strict interpretation of it would be influenced in his interpretation of the law by the views of the government that appointed him as a judge. That may be the opinion of honourable senators opposite of the attitude that their professional colleagues would adopt, but I am not of the opinion that it would be the attitude of those whom the Labor Government appointed to high positions in this country. As I have said, the Government will accept the amendment moved by the Democratic Labor Party.
– I rise only briefly- it being some time since I moved the original amendment- to say that I regret that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has not been more forthcoming in explaining why there is a need for an increase in the number of judges. I see advantagewe welcome the Government’s acceptance of the principle- in there not being an unlimited number of judges in the Commonwealth Industrial Court. We believe, in terms of past performances, that eight is an adequate number. It appears from the fact that the Government will accept the Australian Democratic Labor Party’s amendment that we may expect there to be 10 judges. 1 repeat my earlier statement that the work of the Commonwealth Industrial Court is exceptionally limited. The fact that in times past some of its members have taken advisory or commission roles and have become members of boards of inquiry is because they could be spared without detriment to the work of the Industrial Court. The reason why they are also members of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory and the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory is that they could be spared from the work of the Industrial Court. I am quite sure that the record of work in the Industrial Court does not impose those burdens which would necessitate the additional appointments. Senator James McClelland indicated, I thought, in fact only 6 judges were available and that one of those judges is ill. I am not sure to which judge he was adverting.
– Five are available, including one who is ill.
-Apparently 5 judges are available of whom one- the one to whom he was adverting- is indisposed. I know that a number of the judges are elderly, but they work at their task diligently. It is not a task which requires a great deal of time. On 18 September I asked, by way of a question on notice, the names of the judges, what other appointments they held for each of the last 3 calendar years, the days on which they have been occupied in court and generally what other appointments they have held. I should have thought that as part of the preparation of this Bill some, if not all, of that information would have been readily available to the Department of Labour and the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). I know it is available in the Attorney-General’s Department. The question was, of course, asked of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy). I would very much like to have seen what the position was because the areas in which the Industrial Court sits at the present time are limited. It is not a very extensive jurisdiction. Be that as it may, the Government has decided that it will appoint 2 extra judges. 1 would welcome a clear exposition from the Government, if only to dispel the rumours that the Minister has committed himself by promising appointments to 2 people and that he desires to honour the promises which have been made. Whilst no explanation is forthcoming one can only suppose that there might be some basis to the rumour, which is fairly prevalent. I must say that, if for nothing else, this debate is to be remembered because I do not think I have heard such fine expositions from supporters of the Government of the work of members of the legal profession and of the duties and obligations of judges and the dedication with which they perform their tasks. That must indicate, of course, that the harsh words which were spoken by supporters of the Government when in Opposition about members of the Industrial Court are now forgotten and are not to be repeated. I am sure the members of the Court will appreciate the recognition that has been given to them, albeit belatedly, by the members of the Australian Labor Party.
-I shall be very brief in my remarks, Mr Chairman. I have listened with a keen sense of appreciation to what has been said about the necessity for governments to ensure that members of the
Commonwealth Industrial Court are properly occupied in their duties. On looking back the thought has come to mind of the biblical statement: ‘Let him that is without sin cast the first stone’. Only a few years have elapsed since I brought to the attention of the then Government in this House the allegation that there has been a disagreement between a Chief Judge and two of those who sat with him. Under a peculiar system which I think ought to be eliminated if it has not been eliminated already- if it has not been eliminated, I hope it will be eliminatedwhereby the Chief Judge had the right to allocate cases to those who were associated with him he found that he had no cases to allocate to two of his associates. That happened after he had this profound disagreement with them.
For nearly 2 years 2 judges of the court, in the employ of the Commonwealth, sat in effect twiddling their thumbs. I made representations to the Government off the record and then I raised the matter in the Senate but the then Government took no action. All that happened was that I heard on the grape vine that the Government was going to play out time for a couple of years until the opportunity arose to transfer the 2 judges concerned to other jurisdictions. The Government in those days let the side down in allowing that to happen. I am foremost in upholding the authority and prestige of members of the courts but when intolerable situations such as this arise it is the duty of governments to do something about it.
In this case the Democratic Labor Party has decided to vote for the extra 2 judges on the grounds that in our opinion the case for them is unanswerable. At present one judge is incapacitated and some are engaged on other duties. I do not think it is wrong that on occasions they should be asked to officiate in certain capacities. Every government has done that over the years and I see nothing wrong with it. I hope that the Government will not stack the judiciary. This is a matter for governments to look at from the point of view of what is right and I hope that this Government will be as meticulous as other governments have been in ensuring that people are chosen for their qualities as judges and not for their political views. However, in this case as a matter of principle the Democratic Labor Party believes that there is a good case for adding 2 judges to the number.
– I rise only on the point raised by Senator Greenwood. He does not know whether the minister has offered 2 appointments. Obviously this is not so because the Minister wanted an unlimited number to be appointed as required. This suggests that if he had wanted to satisfy promises he had made he would have offered more than 2 appointments. I can assure Senator Greenwood that if the Minister desires to appoint certain people they will not be people who would be influenced by the appointment. They would be people who would seek to do the job in accordance with the oath of their office. I do not think there is any truth in Senator Greenwood’s suggestion. The only thing that concerns me is Senator Milliner’s suggestion that Senator Wright was looking for promotion. Whether the Minister has had words with Senator Wright and that was the basis of the suggestion I do not know.
– It is unfortunate that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) used words of such levity. But for the fact that they have gone on the record I would treat them as laughable, as he did. I want the record to show that the suggestion
– Why do you not take an appointment?
– There were all sorts of suggestions of that sort here on a former occasion. We had a speech from Senator Kennelly suggesting that I had been offered judicial appointment. I told him that, if he thought that, a Committee of Privileges should be constituted. I do not take this laughable suggestion in the same sense and but for the fact that it will appear in print I would not have risen. I rise only to express my derision of a Minister who has time to indulge in such levity in Committee.
-The question is that the words proposed to be left out be left out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question is that the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 42 and 43 agreed to.
Section 104 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting after paragraph (c) of sub-section (2) the following paragraphs:- “(d) proceedings under section 1 19;
Clause 44 of the Bill seeks to amend section 104 of the principal Act. Section 104 states that the jurisdiction of the Court shall be exercised by 3 judges but in certain matters it may be exercised by a single judge. The purpose of clause 44 is to add to those matters which may be dealt with by a single judge a number of particular and specified types of inquiries or proceedings. The Opposition believes that one of the matters which is proposed to be inserted should not be inserted and therefore seeks to amend the clause by omitting paragraph (d). Paragraph (d) is simply worded: ‘Proceedings under section 119’. All honourable senators with any interest in this area will know that section 119 is the section under which penalties may be imposed by the Industrial Court. It is a section which has long been a matter of controversy. It was not so many years ago that the section was amended to ensure that the penalties imposed by it and the other decisions which could be made under it could only be made by a court constituted by 3 members of the Industrial Court. What the Government now proposes to do is remove that provision of 3 judges and limit it to one judge. The Opposition believes that it should continue to be 3 judges.
The belated acknowledgment of the virtues of members of the Industrial Court which has come from Government supporters this afternoon should not blind us to the fact that there has been a great deal of condemnation of some of the judges who have been forced into the position, because of the office which they hold, of exercising their jurisdiction under section 1 19. 1 believe that if a single judge is to exercise this jurisdiction there could be an intensification of some of the expressions of feeling which have been evident at earlier stages. It is such a controversial area that the jurisdiction ought not to be exercised by one judge; it ought to be exercised by 3 judges. Whilst the argument which must be advanced has a pragmatic quality and possibly is not the usual type of argument advanced in favour of whether a court should be constituted by one or a larger number to exercise the jurisdiction, we believe in this instance that it is appropriate that the existing position should be continued.
– There is something rather odd about this amendment from the Opposition. The Opposition is seeking to retain the provision in the Act whereby proceedings under section 119 could be heard only by 3 judges. Senator Greenwood interjected during the discussion of the previous amendments with the jibe that under this Government there would be no prosecutions of unions.
– That is what you told the unions. That is what I said.
-Let us for the sake of argument on this clause accept that as a statement of fact- just as an hypothesis. What you are saying means that the majority of cases which will be dealt with- this is on your argument- by the Court under section 1 1 9 will be for breaches of awards by employers. Under section 1 19 such breaches may actually be dealt with by a magistrate in a court of summary jurisdiction. Is it not absurd to suggest that a power that can be so exercised must, if exercised by the court, be exercised by 3 judges, especially as Senator Greenwood is so concerned about the way in which the time of these judges will be spent? I suggest that throughout the debate on this Bill there has been no theme and no philosophy uniting the amendments proposed by the Opposition in relation to one clause as against another clause. There is no consistency. In fact there is a total opposition of philosophy between the considerations applied to one clause and those applied to another. Here we have a couple of clauses cheek by jowl on which the Opposition takes, in my submission, totally contradictory positions. The amendment moved by Senator Greenwood is completely unjustified.
– I rise briefly to indicate that I think Senator James McClelland has rather narrowed the area of jurisdiction in regard to judges under section 1 19 of the Act. There is one area, of course, which must be dealt with by the Industrial Court- that is the controversial area of penalties which may be sought under section 33 of the legislation.
– But you say there will not be any of those.
-Well, as I said, we do not think that this position where the Government ‘s undertakings to the union will prevail will be a very lasting situation. As the Act is now being amended, we hope that the Act will remain in this condition for some little time after honourable senators opposite cease to be the Government. I think it is only appropriate now that the matter is before us, to ease the way so that there is a continuing pattern upon which those who rely upon this Act can place their reliance. We have therefore moved the amendment which has been circulated.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 45 and 46- by leave- taken together.
– Clauses 45 and 46 are simple clauses which substitute the word ‘Minister’ for the word ‘AttorneyGeneral ‘. We are told that it represents the Government’s decision to transfer the administration of parts of this legislation from the AttorneyGeneral to the Minister for Labour. Earlier I indicated that if the Government desires to place matters relating to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission within the purview of the Minister for Labour and not of the Attorney-‘ General, then the Opposition does not raise objection to that proposal. But the Opposition will not accept the proposal that the Minister for Labour shall be the person who applies on behalf of the Commonwealth before a superior court of record. Therefore, the Opposition will oppose the change to section 106 of the Act which is contemplated. Section 106 of the Act states: (1.) The Attorney-General may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, by giving to the Registrar notice in writing of his intention so to do, intervene in the public interest in a matter before the Court.
We believe that it should be the AttorneyGeneral who always appears on behalf of the Commonwealth and in the public interest before the court. Indeed, the concept of the AttorneyGeneral is that he is the parens patriae, the person who in the public interest takes a cause before the court to represent those who otherwise would not have a locus standi to appear in matters in which the public interest is directly affected. Likewise, we oppose any amendment to section 109 of the Act, which is proposed to be made by clause 46 of the Bill. Section 109(2.) states:
The Attorney-General may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, and in the public interest, apply to the Court for an order under paragraph ( b ) of the last preceding subsectio
That refers to orders which are injunctions to prevent persons committing or continuing contraventions of the Act. The same principle applies. In short, the approach which is designed to put the administration of the Act in the hands entirely or as completely as possible of the Minister for Labour, is an administrative decision which the Government may be regarded as having the right to determine. But any question as to how the Commonwealth appears before the courts is, I think, a matter in which the rights of the Attorney-General ought to be protected.
– Once again it is possible to feel some sympathy with the lack of understanding of industrial matters which leads the Opposition into taking up a position in these matters which is inconsistent with the stand that it has taken in relation to other clauses. I do not know whether Senator Greenwood is aware, but in the other place when a debate was being conducted on a proposed amendment to section 1 10 of the Act, the Opposition insisted that it should be the Minister for Labour and not the AttorneyGeneral who should carry the burden of representing the public interest in these matters. Surely it is the most natural thing in the world that the Minister who carries the burden of industry, of labour, should be the man who should be responsible in these matters. As I have said, in regard to a proposed amendment to section 1 10 of the Act, which refers to who should approach the Commission for an interpretation of an award, the Opposition in the other place insisted that it should be the Minister for Labour.
– As distinct from the Secretary of the Department, not as distinct from the Attorney-General. The original draft had the Secretary, and we objected to the Minister divesting himself of responsibility to the Secretary of his Department.
-Why do you allow the Minister for Labour a guernsey anywhere? If this is an Act which should be administered by the Attorney-General, and if the Attorney-General is the man who should represent the public interest, why do you allow the Minister for Labour to appear anywhere in section 1 10? What is different about that?
– It is a judicial exercise.
– Is it a judicial exercise? Is it suggested that every time the Attorney-General appears in the public interest, he appears personally? Surely the Minister for Labour is just as entitled to brief counsel as is the Attorney-General.
– He should brief the Attorney-General. That is the way it has always been.
-With respect, I think that this is pettifogging. We are dealing with industrial realities, not with legal niceties. It is apparent to us that if the Minister for Labour is administering this Act, he should be the man who throughout carries the heat and burden of the day and the responsi bility for each of these sections. We think it is inconsistent and unreal for the Opposition to insist that the AttorneyGeneral should be the man, instead of the Minister for Labour, who carries that responsibility.
– I support what Senator James McClelland has said. I think that he has answered the question. The Government considers that the Minister for Labour should appear, wherever possible, in proceedings before this court because hr is the man solely responsible. He is the man in the best position to know what is in the public interest or what should be submitted to the court on the question of public interest. I am advised it is peculiar that in regard to section 1 10 of the Act, the Bill, as presented in the other place, sought to insert the words ‘the Secretary to the Department of Labour, an inspector or’, but the Opposition insisted upon an amendment which was designed to put the matter in the hands of the Minister. There was no question of putting it in the hands of the Attorney-General. The Opposition in the other place insisted on giving greater power to the Minister. That proposal was accepted and it is not a point for debate today. The Opposition in the other place seems to have adopted an attitude different from that adopted by the Opposition in this place in relation to section 1 10 of the Act. The Opposition in the other place insisted on the inclusion of the word ‘Minister’, and the Opposition in this place is insisting on the inclusion of the word ‘Attorney-General ‘.
That clauses 45 and 46 stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 47 and 48 agreed to.
Clause 49 (Limitation on appeals to High Court).
– Clause 49 is a short clause which says simply that for the words ‘Part VIII or IX of this Act’ substitute the words ‘Part VIII, VIMA or IX’. The simple fact is it would deny any right of appeal to the High Court on any union amalgamation question. The Opposition opposes this clause. We believe that as property and assets are involved as rights about which individuals may feel strongly appeals should not be prohibited. We believe that there should be at least a right of appeal to the High Court or, putting it more accurately, that the right to go to the High Court to ask the High Court whether it will entertain one’s appeal should not be prohibited. The effect of our opposition, if acceded to, will be simply that as the position exists at present the High Court will have a descretion as to whether it will grant leave to appeal and we think that in this area that is sufficient safegard. We oppose this clause.
– Here again we are seeing this inconsistency that runs right through the Opposition’s amendments. The Opposition’s attitude to this would continue the present anomalous situation in which decisions of the Commonwealth Industrial Court on inquiries into amalgamation ballots would be appealable to the High Court while decisions of the Commonwealth Industrial Court on registration and deregistration of organisations under Part VIII of the Act, which also involve questions of property and assets, and decisions on inquiries into irregularities in union elections under Part IX of the Act would not be appealable. The Bill as framed by the Government has the merit of consistency which I submit is considerable merit. The decisions of the Industrial Court in both of these matters are, I think Senator Greenwood would agree, concerned mostly with questions of fact; they are not high questions of law which should engage the attention of the High Court. In such circumstances it is difficult to justify appeals to the highest court in the land. We have a consistent pattern in the matter of appeals running right through the Bill whereas Senator Greenwood once again is inconsistent.
That clause 49 stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 50 agreed to.
Clause 5 1 (Representation of parties).
– The Opposition will oppose clause 51. The clause seeks to amend section 1 1 7a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. This section refers to the way in which parties may be represented and, for example, who may appear on behalf of an organisation. The clause which the Opposition is opposing allows an organisation to have an absolute right to be represented in proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court by an officer, a member or an employee. The attitude of the Opposition in opposing this clause will, I trust, not be misunderstood. We recognise that the organisation has a right generally to be represented in proceedings by an officer, member or employee. But this is always subject to the discretion of the Court. The Court has a discretion under the Act and it is proper that the Court should have some control over who may appear before it. I feel that there are circumstances- here we are not talking about the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but about the Industrial Court- where if an intricate matter involving interpretation comes before it an organisation may be required to have legal counsel appearing on its behalf. That would not, as I understand the position, cause the financial problems which might have been caused in an earlier day. The essential point which the Opposition desires to make is that we should not take away from the Court the power which it has under the existing Act. The amendment will deny the Court the exercise of discretion as to who may appear before it.
– I intervene only to seek information in relation to what Senator Greenwood means. I take as an example a case which has conservation overtones. Given the problems that beset the Builders Labourers Federation official Jack Mundey at the moment, could the Opposition’s proposal not be open to discrimination? I agree with a lot of Mr Mundey ‘s militant attitudes on conservation, but if some member of the judiciary or the establishment resented Mundey being involved in this sort of thing, does Senator Greenwood mean that he could not appear as a spokesman for the Builders Labourer Federation, even if members of the union wanted him to do so? Would he virtually have to genuflect to be allowed to stay in court?
– The essential point which is being covered- if I might respond directly to Senator Mulvihill- is that there is provision at the moment in section 1 1 7a of the Act. It states: (3.) In proceedings before the Court under Part V of this Act (other than section one hundred and thirteen of this Act), a party shall not be represented as provided by the last preceding subsection except with the leave of the Court.
That is a provision which we would maintain. Possibly in order to make his point Senator Mulvihill has used language which highlights the type of argument which he is making. I suppose that, in blunt terms, for the type of argument which he is making he must get the responsive answer yes. But it is not to be assumed that courts do not exercise this discretion in accordance with the judicial requirements always attending the exercise of a court’s discretion. I believe that a court- I think that this is an appropriate consideration- should have power to control proceedings before the court because it is inherent in the power which a court exercises. I think that we take it away at our peril.
– I think that the Court has acted responsibly in relation to granting leave to appear. On all occasions it has permitted anyone to appear before the Court as an agent if that person’s appearance would assist the Court and perhaps assist the parties before the Court. Of course, the important question on this is the right of the trade unions. Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act the Industrial Court was established to resolve between employers and employees issues relating to conditions. This whole question is one of their attending as a right. It is their court. But by this amendment the Opposition wants to rebuff them by saying that they may be able to attend if it pleases the court. If there is to be confidence by the trade unions in conciliation and arbitration they should be able to accept that this is a court for their purposes as much as for the purposes of the employer and for the public interest. The essential parties to disputes or actions which occur and come before the court should have a right by law to go before the court. They should not depend upon the will of or permission from someone else. We insist on the amendment.
– An individual may appear before the Commonwealth Industrial Court now without seeking leave to appear. The disqualification arises only if he seeks to represent his organisation. This strikes me as patently absurd. Here we have a court specifically created for the consideration of problems concerned with trade unions. The only person who has to seek leave to appear is an officer of one of those organisations. I have been in the Industrial Court and I have seen able, competent trade union officials stand up and ask for leave. I have seen some of them humiliated. As a matter of fact, I have part of a transcript here which I propose to read to the Committee in order to highlight the sort of indignity which I believe representatives of trade unions should be spared. I think this matter involved the dispute about the Atlantean buses in Sydney. A Mr Ludeke, Queens Counsel, who has since been appointed to the Bench- in fact he sat on the recent medical tribunal case- announced his appearance. He said:
I appear in this matter for the claimant. Mr J. Dey appears with me.
Mr Dey was his junior. Chief Judge Spicer said:
Are there any other appearances?
Mr P. Ryan, the official of the union, said:
If Your Honours please, I appear on behalf of the union as secretary of the union and Mr J. Coulthart as an organiser of the union.
One of the other judges, Mr Justice Dunphy, said:
You first of all seek leave to appear?
Mr Ryan: Yes.
Dunphy, J.: You did not say that.
Mr Ryan: If I omitted the words ‘I seek leave to appear’ it is because I have not appeared before a Tribunal of this nature before, Your Honour.
Dunphy, J.: You have no right to have a junior.
Mr Ryan: It is a matter for Your Honours. If I could comment here, I would make the comment ifI am allowed to thatI do not regard Mr Coulthart as junior to myself.
Mr Coulthart happened to be the New South Wales Secretary of the union and Federal president. He had peculiar knowledge of the circumstances of the case. These two reputable, competent citizens had to demean themselves by asking permission of the Court to appear and assist the Court in a matter in which they knew much more than any counsel whom they might have briefed. This strikes me as a matter which is not calculated to build up the confidence of the unions in this Court. It is an obstacle which we believe should be removed as soon as possible.
-I rise only to reply to one aspect of what Senator James McClelland has said. I do not think what he has said is borne out. He himself might agree that this is confirmed by a close reading of the section. Section 117a applies to individuals as well as organisations. A person and an organisation are subject to subsection (3.) and must have the leave of the court.
– Order! The question is that clause 5 1 stand as printed. Those of that opinion say ‘Aye ‘, to the contrary ‘No’.
Government Senators- Aye.
– I think that the ‘Ayes’ have it.
– The ‘Noes’ have it.
– A division is required. Ring the bells.
The bells being rung.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, you called that the ‘Ayes’ have it and a division has not been called for. The Standing Orders provide that senators, in the plural, shall call for a division. Honourable senators opposite did not call-
– They did.
– There was one voice. Of course, there can be as many calls as they like now. But previously there was only one voice.
– Order! Stop the bells. I put the question again. The question is:
That clause 5 1 stand as printed.
Those of that opinion say ‘Aye’, to the contrary say ‘ No ‘. I think that the ‘ Ayes ‘ have it.
Opposition Senators- The ‘Noes’ have it.
– A division is required. Ring the bells.
That clause51 stand as printed.
The Committee divided, (The Chairman- Senator Pro wse)
Majority …….. 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clauses 52 and 53 agreed to.
Section 125 of the Principal Act is amended-
– I move:
The effect of the amendment is to alter the proposed subsection (2a) to ensure that those people who are inspectors under the Act are members of the Public Service or people who are temporarily members of the Public Service. But they must be temporary inspectors of the Public Service. Secondly, the proposal is to amend subsection (2b) to ensure that those persons whom the Minister authorises to be inspectors under this Act are already officers of the Public Service. We have seen a few examples of freelancers who recommend themselves to the good graces of ministers. It is thought that inspectors under this Act should be persons who have already been through the processes of approval for appointment under the Public Service Act and its rules. I think that the principle is pretty clear. I would expect the Committee to endorse it. Therefore I content myself with a brief submission.
– I hate to disappoint Senator Wright, but the Australian Democratic Labor Party has no intention of supporting this amendment.
– Does the honourable senator want us to support it?
– I was thinking of Senator Wright.
– If the honourable senator wants me to do so, I will sit down. In the whole history of the arbitration system no such restriction has been placed upon the selection of those who shall be inspectors in these areas. When arbitration was implemented it was a new area. It was thought advisable at that time- I believe that it is still advisable- that the people who administer these things, particularly as inspectors who are seeking out breaches of the award, should not necessarily be people who are trained in something that has nothing to do with industry in which the great majority of breaches of the award take place. Why should such people be people who are trained in the Public Service?
There are many men who have given enormous service in a completely satisfactory way and proved the point. One who comes immediately to mind is the late Jack Roberts who at one time was an official of the Federated Moulders’ Union of Australia. At one time he was President of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party. From the time of the split between the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party he was State treasurer of the DLP. He was an inspector of the Arbitration Court and he had been appointed to that position- from the Union. It is not only in the area of inspectors that such appointments have been made. It has been rather traditional that this should happen even in the field of arbitration itself. From both sides of the industrial field men have been selected on a State and Federal basis to sit as chairman of wages boards. There are a sprinkling of public servants who have aspired to and attained this office. But there are also trade union officials and representatives of employer organisations who have done so. Men from industry or commerce have been appointed. All have proved themselves able and worthy appointees once they took the necessary obligation upon themselves. They proved that they were quite capable of dissociating themselves from any previous connections and of administering the job in the manner in which it was intended to be administered.
We believe that the Act should contain a provision which induces people from a broad section of the community to submit themselves for appointment and to aspire to positions of this type. We believe that it gives more flexibility. It certainly encourages a great deal of trust by those people on both sides for whom arbitration has been created- commerce and industry, and the organised union movement. Today the trade unions expect to provide appointees to these positions. The unions have every confidence in the inspectors who bring down the wrath of the unions at times when the unions do not get what they think they should have got. No one can point the finger at any of these appointees and say that he has not carried out his job effectively and with great integrity; that he has not succeeded in severing himself from any previous associations; that he has given biased decisions or in any way attempted to persecute one side or the other in the commercial bargains which go to make up industrial relations. We believe that there is no proof of any requirement to change the patterns of the past and we have no intention of supporting the amendment. We will support the clause as it stands.
– I intervene only to oppose the amendment moved by Senator Wright. I say respectfully to him that history completely refutes the fears which he seems to have. I think the classic illustration of such refutuation would be Arthur Blakeley who was a senior Minister in the Scullin Government in the 1930s. After the defeat of that Government he was appointed by the subsequent Government as a Commonwealth inspector. He .laid down a standard of conduct which became the accepted norm in subsequent years. Here is. a classic case of a man who in a very turbulent period had tasted the fruits of office. It might be argued that such a person might get a sort of curdled mentality. Obviously he had a golden opportunity to vent his spleen on people who contributed to his political eclipse, but he did not. The fact that he served honourably and well confirms the view of Senator Little that Australia wants a pretty wide scope from which to make appointments of this nature. I think all honourable senators have a high regard for the Commonwealth Public Service, but people with practical industrial experience often know, when they walk into an area of industrial operations, by virtue of industrial intuition what they are looking for. There are certain factors which they can sense out.
I think that by rejecting Senator Wright’s amendment we will get the best of both worlds. Obviously some people come up through the Public Service” ranks. We all know industrial registrars who have made the grade. The whole history of the Public Service shows that they have been men to whom a person could always go for practical advice. The ranks of Commonwealth inspectors are strengthened by the injection of these specialists who are developed in the trade union movement. I think the most potent reason is that nobody knows, at a given stage in his career in public life, what will happen to him. He can be chopped down in mid air when he has 10, 15 or 20 years of useful service ahead of him. Surely to goodness there is no better place to apply the industrial lore which he has absorbed through his experience than in this field of operations. That is the reason why we will vote against the amendment moved by Senator Wright.
– If the principle espoused by Senator Wright was’ perfectly clear to him, it was not always clear to those who sit or sat on the same side of politics as Senator Wright. I quote, for his edification, a contribution to a debate in 1934.
– Did you say 1934?
-Yes, 1934. The debate was o.n this subject- arbitration.
– I knew that you were living in the past, but I did not. know that you were living that far in the past. .-
Senator JAMES McCLELLANDArbitration is as old as 1 934. Wait for it. I warn you not to be too brash about this. In 1934 the power of ministerial appointment of inspectors was first introduced by what was then ‘known as the
United Australia Party. I am sure Senator Greenwood finds that title sacred and is not affronted in any way by the fact that that was a name which his predecessors adopted as long ago as 1934. Let me read the words which bear on the subject which we are discussing today. They are: . . it is desirable that the widest area of choice should be open to the Government in order that someone of very definite industrial experience and knowledge may be appointed. If that be so, it is undesirable that the appointment should be restricted, as it would be under the terms of the Act as it stands, to those who are already within the Public Service . . . The Government definitely believes that it has a responsibility in relation to the enforcement of awards, particularly in the case of some awards in respect of industries that are not in themselves highly organised from an industrial point of view.
They were the words of a distinguished AttorneyGeneral, a predecessor of Senator Greenwood and Senator Murphy, a man who was known as Mr Menzies. To be acused of living in the past when one invokes the name of Menzies, is an odd reproach to fall from honourable senators opposite. They have had nothing like him since. It appears unlikely that they ever will. At least on a subject such as this he was able to bring his legal mind to bear on the subject and to espouse exactly what we are espousing today.
– I acknowledge, from what the Democratic Labor Party has said, that the Opposition will not succeed in this amendment, but I think it is proper to say that the Opposition views with concern clause 54. 1 was interested to hear Senator James McClelland quote what Mr Menzies said almost 40 years ago. I think the honourable senator should have completed the pattern by indicating that it was a government headed by Mr Menzies in 1952 which removed from the Act the provision which had been introduced in 1934. The present section does not give the power of appointment to the Minister for Labour. The clause seeks to give to the Minister the power of appointment of what he might call trouble shooters, what Senator Murphy might call advisers, and what the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and other members of the Government might call by various other names. It is a pattern which we are seeing develop. I am not in the habit of prophesying, but I fear the consequences of this on the structure of industry in the country. . .
We have been long served by the Public Service structure, which has its problems. We have always to be on the alert to ensure that those problems do not reduce the effectiveness of the Public Service and its acceptance in the public eye. It has tremendous advantages because a code of conduct has been built up in the Service. I think it is a disadvantageous step for the Minister to be able to pick whomever he pleases to move into this controversial area. I am merely explaining, in possibly greater justification than Senator Wright stated when he moved the amendment, the Opposition’s view. We acknowledge that the amendment will not be carried. Naturally, we will not divide on the issue which will be put to the vote shortly.
-I am sorry that Senator Greenwood finished on that note. If he had his way, no one from the trade union movement or from the employers associations or anyone else could possibly hope to be appointed as an inspector. In effect, that is what he said. He said that it is all right to appoint these people as Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioners, but they cannot be appointed as inspectors. Surely that is an absurd situation. It is obvious, I think, that Senator Greenwood did not have his heart in the argument. He let Senator Wright move the amendment, knowing that it would be defeated. Senator Wright made an aside a moment ago which I hope will not be reported in Hansard. He indicated that this proposition was being put forward to benefit one particular person. Senator Wright is on the brink of defeat and I suggest that he accept it.
Question resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 5 agreed to.
Clauses 55 and 56 agreed to.
Clauses 57 and 58- by leave- taken together.
– I simply state in very brief terms that what the Government seeks to do here is to replace the words ‘Industrial Registrar’ with the words Attorney-General’ in the financial provisions sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In 1972 the Parliament agreed to make the Attorney-General the person to whom applications for financial assistance were to be directed in place of the Industrial Registrar. Clauses 57 and 58 of this Bill seek to revert to the earlier position. The Opposition desires to maintain the position that applications be made to the Attorney-General. Very shortly, the reason for retaining that position is that the AttorneyGeneral is the ministerial head answerable in public in the Parliament to any accusations that financial assistance has not been given in accordance with the criteria laid down in the Act. If it is left to an officer such as the Industrial Registrar or to any other officer who is named then, of course, there may be accusations, either well founded or ill founded, that there has been a denial of legal aid, and because of the way in which things naturally develop the discretion of the officer is not open to challenge within the Parliament. We believe that the pressure of public opinion can be brought to bear if a person who has the responsibility is in fact required to justify, and can be made to justify, publicly a decision which he has made in a particular case. For those reasons we oppose clauses 57 and 58.
– The amending clauses seek to restore the position which applied prior to 1972. The position then applying worked satisfactorily for many years until, I think, a person who opposed the amalgamation of 3 unions to form the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union applied for financial assistance. It was then discovered that the Industrial Registrar did not have power to grant such assistance. The position was then changed, I think by some regulation, to permit the AttorneyGeneral to grant financial assistance to the applicant to conduct the case. We are of the opinion that the previous position worked satisfactorily. We think it can work satisfactorily. We think that in those cases in which it is necessary to provide financial assistance, the granting of that assistance should be taken out of the realms of politics and handed over to an independent registrar to decide whether he has the power to do so, and whether he should grant such financial assistance.
That clauses 57 and 58 stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the negative.
-Order! In accordance with the sessional order that General Business shall take precedence of Government business at 4.30 p.m., I shall report progress.
– Order! Under the Sessional Orders, General Business will now take precedence of Government Business.
– I move:
I have had discussions with the Opposition Parties about this matter, Mr President, and they are agreeable that there is a possibility of the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973 (No. 2) being concluded by 5 p.m. The parties involved in the General Business debate are prepared to allow an extra half an hour for the debate on the Bill.
– Order! I have been led to understand from what the Party leaders have said to me that they are agreeable to -
– It is for the Senate to agree.
– I have merely said that the Party leaders have indicated to me that they are agreeable and I was just about to put the motion that would enable the Senate to decide for itself.
-The question is: That the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion say aye’; to the contrary ‘no’. I think the ‘ayes ‘have it.
Clauses 59 to 61- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 62 (Organisations to notify particulars of bank accounts, etc.).
– The Opposition opposes clause 62. It is a clause which, I say with respect to the Government, ought not to be in this Bill, for 2 reasons. Clause 62 seeks to repeal section 153a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 153a was inserted in the Act last year. Section 153a requires that organisations shall, in accordance with the prescribed form, lodge with the Registrar particulars of financial institutions with which deposits of moneys have been made by them. As I have already said, clause 62 seeks to repeal that section.
Clause 62 should not be in the Bill, firstly, because the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) has indicated that he was removing from this Bill all sections relating to penalties. Section 1 53a is a section of the Act which is in the Act as an aid to enforcement if there should be the imposition of penalties and a question arises as to how to obtain enforcement of the order which has been made. The second reason why the clause should not be in the Bill is that the section is a section which ought to remain in the legislation in any event. It is a necessary requirement for the obtaining of particulars of banks and other institutions in which funds may have been deposited. It should be retained. I am firmly of the view that it is a provision which is ancillary to an enforcement provision. If we are to have enforcement provisions, for my part we have to have the provisions whereby we can properly enforce them. If we are to drop the enforcement provisions there will be no need for things like this. But I do not believe that we can have a middle course. For those 2 reasons I certainly believe that this clause should be opposed.
– The deletion of clause 62 would prevent the repeal of section 153a of the Act, which requires organisations to notify the Registrar of prescribed details of bank accounts and their locations. It was introduced to enable Parliament to decide what scrutiny should be given. Of course, it must be remembered that the section applies to employer organisations as well as unions. If the Opposition is successful in its opposition to this provision the Government might well make the necessary regulations and enforce them rigorously against employer organisations as well as the large single employers.
– I should have thought that that is naturally what would have followed.
-I do not know whether the honourable senator really wants the Government to have the power to require such a prescribing in relation to employer organisations. Sitting in the gallery of the chamber we have a representative of one of the largest employer organisations in Australia. I think he has come along to see what opposition there would be to an attempt to give the Minister for Labour the right to require his organisation to notify the Registrar of its investments and funds. As long as honourable senators opposite know what they are doing and do not think that we would be making an attack upon employer organisations if we required them to do so. Obviously the employer organisations are not such friends of the Liberal Party of Australia as one would have believed.
– I cannot avoid the opportunity of a little ironical aside as to the sincerity of honourable senators on the other side of the chamber about the imposition of penalties. Senator Greenwood has just stated that section 153a, which clause 62 seeks to remove from the Act, is an essential part of the machinery of the imposition of penalties. ‘After all if you are going to pursue the resources of an organisation’, he would say, ‘you would have to know where its money is’. I suppose that was an urgent consideration of the Government of which Senator Greenwood was a member. I want to draw Senator Greenwood’s attention to an important part of the Bill that was assented to on 2 June 1972, which says:
An organisation shall, as prescribed, lodge with the Registrar
the prescribed particulars of financial institutions with which deposits of moneys of the organisation or of a branch of the organisation have been made and the prescribed particlars in relation to those deposits . . .
The previous Government, which was so serious about having full powers to impose penalties, never bothered to prescribe any particulars by regulation. So this section always has been inoperative.
-I have to say that Senator James McClelland well knows that there were many areas in which there were matters to be prescribed by regulation. It was one of the problems of the previous Government that one could never get the regulations done in the expeditious manner that one would like them to be done. I have risen only to challenge the accusation that the previous Government did not bother and was not interested. I assure Senator James McClelland that the opposite was the case. I understand that the present Government has improved the regulationmaking facilities. So those difficulties will not arise when the present Opposition comes back into government.
Clause 63 agreed to.
Clauses 64 to 69- by leave- taken together.
-Clause 64 alters the basis on which objections to amalgamations can be made. It imposes very heavy restrictions on the grounds on which these objections can be made and allows the introduction of certain injustices in the sense that changes in the rules could have a significant effect on members. The changed rules could be discriminatory and other organisations could be affected. Perhaps the reason why the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has suggested that clauses 64 to 69 be taken together is that in essence they constitute the charter for control of amalgamations. So far as the Opposition is concerned, amalgamations in themselves are neither good nor bad, but they are matters which if they are conducted have to be conducted with justice and propriety.
I will not repeat the figures that I have given in this chamber on more than one occasion on the scandal surrounding the Amalgamated Metalworkers Union, a union which now has 183,000 members and an income running to over Sim. This amalgamation was brought about by a vote of an insignificant number of members of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia and Sheet Metalworking Union of Australia who conducted the ballot without the control of the court or the electoral officer. I will not go into specific details but the Committee may recall that the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society at the time of this amalgamation had approximately 32,000 members. Only 21,783 received ballot papers. Approximately one-third of the members either did not receive or were not posted ballot papers. The way in which the ballot was conducted was that batches of papers were sent out to the shop stewards on the boilermaking jobs and it was left to the discretion and honesty of these gentlemen to ensure that all members of the union on the job received a ballot paper. Without making any suggestions against the integrety of these gentlemen, that type of unsupervised ballot is utterly unsatisfactory where rights of such significance are involved.
The original provisions which were laid down in what has been rather disparingly and quite unfairly called ‘Lynch law’ which was introduced last year provided a proper protection for rank and file members so that their assets, rights and union connections could not be disposed of without a substantial vote of the people concerned. If this legislation were allowed to go through unchallenged it would be technically possible- I know it is unlikely- for an amalgamation to be brought about by the vote of 2 members. One has only to recite that to indicate how necessary it is that the protection given under the existing legislation be not removed.
I move now to clause 65 on the assumption that we are dealing with these clauses at the one time in order to save popping up and down. Clause 65 repeals substantially the protection contained in existing section 158k. The Opposition opposes it for the reasons which I have given. There is a real need to reduce the opportunity for abuses and we believe that the ballot should be conducted by the electoral officer. Clause 66 repeals the requirements to gazette dates for ballots and other matters. The Committee will recall that on one famous occasion notifications of proposed amalgamations were gazetted for Christmas Day. This is not the day upon which the normal rank and file member of a union sits around reading the Gazette. There are other things to do on Christmas Day than worry about amalgamations.
– The previous Government also raided homes on Christmas Day in relation to national service.
– I am prepared to debate that matter on a different occasion but I think it is out of place to introduce it in a debate on industrial legislation. The Minister’s Government has a most obnoxious record in regard to the raiding of persons’ homes at midnight.
– But not on Christmas Day.
– With policemen dressed in boiler suits conducting all sorts of raids and all sorts of physical exercises -
-Order! I think you are getting a bit away from the clause, Senator Hannan.
– I was provoked.
-I do not think so.
– I come back to the Bill. The Opposition is opposed to clause 66. Ballot papers might not be received and it is our belief that people who oppose the amalgamations should be entitled to send out a ‘no’ case. Clause 67 which covers the repeal of section 158N, deals with the determination of the results of a ballot. The alteration of the criterion of voting is from a majority of more than 50 per cent of eligible voters to a simple majority of those voting which, as I said before, technically could be 2 people although in practice this is unlikely. The provision leaves the way open, of course, to connivance and is contrary to most concepts of effective membership control. Clause 68 removes the penalties in relation to ballots and takes away the Minister’s capacity to make regulations for penalties. We feel that it clearly removes a restraint upon improper practices and would be a significant repeal bearing in mind that unions at present run their own ballots.
Clause 69-1 think this is the last one we are taking in this group- relates to alterations to the rules of amalgamating unions. The Opposition opposes this clause because of the inter-related matters to which I have referred in regard to section 158h. Many statements have been made, largely by Labor spokesmen, about the desirability of reducing the number of unions. The Minister can correct me but my recollection is that there are about 300 unions including the small craft unions. Is that so?
– Possibly it is in excess of that.
– In that vicinity. There could well be a case where it would be advantageous to the members of the union and the community for some amalgamations to take place. The Opposition’s only comment on the whole aspect of amalgamations is that they should reflect in substance and in essence the substantial will of the members of the organisations concerned. For these reasons -
– Would you define the word ‘substantial’?
-We would be willing to listen to some reasonable variant provided it substantially reflected the will of the organisation. There is no magic in 50 per cent. If one gets 50 per cent voting one at least knows that a substantial body of the rank and file has taken sufficient action and cares enough to look after its own interests. For these reasons the Opposition completely opposes clauses 64 to 69. I ask the Minister whether he wishes to deal with clause 70 now or whether it is to be dealt with separately.
– Firstly let me thank all those honourable senators who have tried to assist the Government in the vain hope that we would get this legislation through today. We have been debating this legislation now for some days and we knew that the clause we are now considering would be one which would be dealt with at length. Honourable senators no doubt will remember the previous occasion on which debate on similar amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was gagged. This is one Act in respect of which I do not think the gag should be applied and in respect of which it will not be applied by this Government.
– We sat up all night.
-Yes, we sat up till 7 o ‘clock in the morning.
– The then Government did not have a co-operative Opposition as this Government has now.
– I was going to pay a tribute to the Opposition for the co-operation it has given to me today in an effort to get this legislation through. But, of course, we know that general business will be called on at 5 p.m. and that we will not be able to conclude the debate by then. Unfortunately we did not receive complete co-operation from all members of the Opposition. Therefore we will have to come back at some other time to discuss this legislation. Perhaps then we could go into the question of amalgamation in more detail than we have today.
The last speech was made by a senator who has taken no interest in the debate on this industrial Bill until now and who has rarely done so in the past. This honourable senator has a hatred for the unions which amalgamated to form the Australian Metal Workers Union. His reasons why we should not endorse such amalgamations were based on allegations he made of corruption, of failure to hold ballots and so on in the metal trade unions. We are asked to accept that as the reason for not voting for clauses relating to amalgamations. But the honourable senator failed to mention -
– Would you like to see the photostat?
-Yes, he has photostats of everything. But the honourable senator failed to mention that all of these accusations were heard before an arbitration tribunal which found that there was no foundation for them.
– It did not find that.
-The arbitration tribunal did find that there was no foundation. Is the honourable senator suggesting that we have to look at the sincerity of the judiciary? Are we to decide that these amalgamations should not be made because Senator Hannan says that there was corruption in a ballot? The proposals pui forward by the Government do not make for corruption; they make for the right to amalgamate and assistance in doing so. I think that it is important that assistance be given to unions to amalgamate when amalgamation is possible. There are many small unions in Australia today. As has been stated, I think that employers would rather deal with one large union in a particular industry than with a number of smaller unions. Of course, a bigger and close knit union is better able te look after and protect the interests of its members. A bigger union is more financial and is of more benefit to members in matters of industrial arbitration.
It is doubtful whether we would have seen the imposition of a green belt plan in Sydney at present if the building trades union in that area had amalgamated and formed a union in which everyone in the building industry had a say. But at the moment building in the Rocks area of Sydney cannot go ahead because the builders labourers have put themselves up as the saviours of the green belt area of Sydney.
– Do you approve of that?
– My friend, at no time have I approved of industrial action being taker upon questions that do not concern industriaaffairs. I am not criticising the trade u MOI movement or those who want to preserve the environment or the conditions of Sydney. But 1 do not think it is a trade union responsibility.
– You do not agree with political strikes by the trade union movement?
– Well, the honourable senator is getting into an area now on which ii would be possible to put different interpretations If I were asked whether I agreed that we should remove some of the political influence that one has to contend with at times in this place I mightake a different view. But as one who all his life has belonged to a smaller organisation, 1 know of the necessity for amalgamation. I have taken ballots on a number of occasions for the purpose of achieving amalgamation and I know that we have been frustrated by the Act and by provisions of the type which were introduced on a previous occasion by Senator Greenwood when he made a provision retrospective to a previous Friday. Because we had made our position dea and because we had the facilities in the Act, he introduced the amendment to -
– Order! It being 5 p.m., under sessional orders I leave the chair and report progress.
– Order! Under sessional orders, general business will take precedence over Government business.
Debate resumed from 1 1 October (vide page 1 174) on motion by Senator Kane:
1 ) That the Senate, noting reports-
that, in the hours immediately before the outbreak of war in the Middle East, the Israeli Government with U.S. diplomatic help sought to avert hostilities,
that Israel offered assurances to both the Egyptian and Soviet Governments of its peaceful intentions in the hope of preventing an outbreak of hostilities, and
that, despite these Israeli efforts, U.N. observers have reported that it was Egyptian and Syrian forces which commenced hostilities by attacking Israeli positions on the cease fire lines along the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights, views these attacks by Egypt and Syria on Israeli positions as a grave threat to world stability.
That the Senate condemns these attacks as endangering world peace; and, accordingly, the Senate calls on the Australian Government to use its influence in the Security Council to bring world pressure to bear on Egypt and Syria to withdraw their forces behind the 1967 cease fire lines and agree to realistic negotiations for a Middle East settlement based on Israel ‘s right to existence within secure and defensive borders.
-On behalf of Senator Kane I ask for leave of the Senate to present an amendment to order of the day No. 2 1 which relates to hostilities in the Middle East and to which the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) was addressing himself when the debate was adjourned.
- Senator Byrne has asked for leave to amend order of the day No. 21. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
-On behalf of Senator Kane I move:
I ask leave to make a short statement to indicate the purpose of this amendment.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– 1 am appreciative of the action of the Senate in granting leave, firstly, for me to move the amendment and, secondly, for me to make a short statement. I have moved the amendment on behalf of Senator Kane who will be in Canberra in a short while and who possibly will address himself to the amendment when he participates in the debate. Therefore I do not want to speak on this matter at any length or anticipate what Senator Kane would say and, as a result, trespass on the indulgence that the Senate has given to me to make this statement. It has been necessary to move the amendment because of the current developments in the Middle East situation which have resulted in a ceasefire which has not been totally observed but which still operates at the instance of the United Nations. Because of the considerations which may arise from that, it would possibly be untimely and perhaps not altogether relevant to persist at this stage with the existing paragraph (2) of the motion as originally proposed. The original paragraph states:
The substantial elimination in the alternative proposal is a reference to retirement behind the 1967 ceasefire lines. I think we are all conscious of the fact that Senator Kane propounded the motion acting on the advice which apparently was current then and held in the United Nations that there had been actual aggression. It was a stern proposal. But in view of the sensitive negotiations which are pending and which we all hope and trust will culminate in the successful conclusion of the war and which will proceed to a settlement on just terms and on political lines, we think that it would be unwise to persist with this insistence according to paragraph (2) of the motion.
We are conscious of the fact that a political settlement must entail the recognition of the rights of both sides- not merely the rights of Israel, but also the rights of the Arab nations which are involved in the war. Any political negotiations, any attempt at settlement, will have to consider the rights and entitlements of all the nations in the area affected so that a just and lasting settlement can be achieved. We still persist in the proposition that Israel shall be recognised as a viable State, with viable and defensible boundaries within the African continent and in the area in which it is situated. We insist on that, and I think that possibly finds universal recognition now. I think that it would be accepted possibly by most people in the Arab world. It .would be accepted as a proposition by all nations over the face of the earth. Therefore, that is implicit still as expressed in our motion.
But we do not go to the point how of insisting on retirement behind the 1967 ceasefire lines following the Six-day War, because insistence on that at this stage could only perhaps render more difficult a settlement which would be just and equitable to both sides and which would be so widely welcomed by the whole world. It is in those circumstances that I have moved the amendment on behalf of Senator Kane. I sought leave of the Senate, which was kindly granted, to present this motion on which debate may now proceed.
– I call Senator Willesee and I take this opportunity of welcoming him back.
– Firstly, an amendment is being circulated in my name and I will now move it in order to put the Senate in the picture. I move:.
Leave out all words after ‘That the Senate’, insert-
I intend also to read resolution 242 because anybody, who reads the record of this debate later may . be a little confused if that resolution does not. appear in the record. I think that it should be underlined as the basis of my amendment and what I believe is the feeling of the majority .of the Australian people. Resolution 242 (1967) which was adopted by the Security
Council at its 1,382nd meeting on 22 November 1967 states:
The Security Council,
Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,
Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Chaner.
Affirms that the fulfilment of Chaner principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
Affirms further the necessity
- Senator, would it be possible to photostat that resolution and circulate copies of it to honourable senators?
-I would think so. I think that resolution 242 is very important in the context of what will be .said in this debate. I will read two other short resolutions of the Security Council because there seems to have been some confusion about them- These resolutions were adopted in the Security Council on 22 and 23 October last. The first states:
The Security Council-
That resolution was at first adhered to and then substantially broken. Of course, simultaneously while the Security Council was meeting, negotiations were going on between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America. The Security Council again met the following day and, referring to its resolution of 22 October, added these words:
I said a little while ago that I would read those resolutions because there appears to be some confusion about them, and I detected this confusion in the amendment which was moved by Senator Byrne a few minutes ago. That amendment contained these words: to enforce the United Nations cease fire proposal which is based on direct negotiations for a Middle East settlement between the Arab governments and Israel.
That is not what the resolutions said. Whether one thinks they ought to have said it or did not say it, the fact is that that was not what was said in those 2 resolutions. I do not think anyone underrates the seriousness, or certainly the potential seriousness, of a war in the Middle East. It is a problem with which we have been living over a long period of time.
I do not want to go deeply into the history of all this, 1 merely want to come as quickly as I can to the attitude of the Australian Government which, incidentally, follows on what the previous Government has done, but up-dating with the march of events. But I want to deal just very briefly with it to try to put this thing into perspective and to show why the Australian Government has been led logically step by step to the action it takes in support of the previous Government’s attitude to the Middle East conflict. Ever since the 1967 resolution there have been unsuccessful attempts to bring it into effect; that is, to get the Israelis to withdraw and to get the Arab countries to recognise that there is a state of Israel, and in the course of that at long last to try to do something about the Palestinian refugees, a problem which I point out is mentioned by the word ‘refugees’ in the original resolution 242.
Continuing efforts were made but all of them have failed. It has always seemed to me that both sides should have realised that time was on neither side, that the longer this was allowed to carry on without any appreciable movement at all- in fact, I think I could delete the word ‘appreciable’ and say without any movement at all- then something like what has happened was always in danger of happening, either a preemptive strike from one side or the mounting of troops on the other. In fact, there has been a mounting of troops on both sides over these areas.
Resolution 242 said that the SecretaryGeneral should take action, and he did so through what was known as the Jarring Mission. Dr Gunnar Jarring worked in this area over a period of time but the whole thing broke down in 1 97 1 because in his opinion and in the opinion of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Israel had failed to respond to a questionnaire to it by Dr Jarring. On the other hand, Israel’s objection was that Jarring had exceeded his mandate by seeking in the questionnaire a prior commitment by Israel to withdraw from Arab territory as part of a first step towards a settlement. Egypt in its response to Jarring had agreed to enter into a peace agreement with Israel on the basis of Security Council resolution 242 providing Israel gave certain reciprocal commitments including that it would withdraw from Sinai and the Gaza Strip. This was again going back to resolution 242 and it was at that stage that the whole efforts of the United Nations Security Council broke down which I suppose in retrospect, but certainly at the time, was another vicious spin of the wheel against what ought to be happening in the Middle East. Since the suspension of that mission activity has been going on to try to force this to a head.
Egypt made considerable efforts to generate international sympathy for the Arab cause and has increased pressure on the United Nations to provide a solution as the only alternative to further hostilities. Egypt requested a review of the situation in the Middle East by the Security Council following Israel ‘s raids on Beirut earlier this year. In the June-July sessions of the Security Council the review resulted in the drafting of a resolution by a group of non-aligned states deploring Israel’s failure to withdraw from occupied territories. This was supported by all members of the Council including ourselves but was finally vetoed by the United Nations on the grounds that it was unbalanced and that it did not also incorporate a parallel reference to the right of all states in the area to live in peace within secure and recognised borders. Australia’s attitude to this was that we supported the non-aligned states draft in July 1973 but it did not indicate any change in our policy of neutrality and friendly relations with both sides. While the resolution was far from ideal it was considered to be the best that could have been achieved in the current circumstances of world opinion which was turning away from Israel. At the same time it did not run counter to or seek to displace resolution 242. Moreover, our affirmative vote was intended to indicate Australia’s support for the efforts of the international community in the Middle East and to reflect our view that the United Nations should be encouraged in its efforts to facilitate progress towards a peaceful settlement. We gave an explanation of our vote because we were not completely happy with the resolution as it stood and our explanation incorporated the precise language of resolution 242 regarding the right of states to live within secure and recognised boundaries. Australia’s support of Israel ‘s right to exist as a state, which goes back to its vote in the General Assembly in 1948, is unchanged.
The question of Israel’s ultimate boundaries and the nature of a final settlement lie in the hands of the parties concerned and must flow as in the Prime Minister’s phrase ‘from agreement freely arrived at between the parties in accordance with the principles of resolution 242’. A connected point will be the resolution of the problem of the Palestinian refugees whose continuing plight has long been a subject of deep and practical concern to Australia. It would be hoped that any settlement would take this problem into full account. In the circumstances of the Middle East the Australian Government’s policy has been not to permit the supply of Australian arms to any of the countries involved in the dispute. Australia cannot of course dictate the policies of other countries but it has always believed that the restraint on the supply of arms by others would help to reduce the tension in the area.
I would like to finish this brief history, I suppose one might call it, by putting to the Senate the 2 sides as they have been presented in the world community. Egypt formally accepts resolution 242 although it has consistently stated that it will not enter into negotiations with Israel in the absence of an advance commitment by Israel to withdraw from all occupied Arab territory. In a statement in the June-July session of the Security Council Egypt’s Foreign Minister strongly emphasised the principle of the inadmissibility of” the acquisition of territory by force and said that Egypt would never relinquish any territory. Israel’s view has been that its acceptance of resolution 242 does not oblige it to withdraw from all territories occupied in 1967 but only to secure and defensible borders which would have to be negotiated and which would not be the pre- 1967 lines. This would involve retention of areas in the Sinai and the Golan Heights considered essential for its security.
I have tried to pick up briefly the salient points of the situation which bring us to the situation in which we find ourselves today. Incidentally, when this situation blew up the Australian Government immediately expressed its serious concern at the outbreak of further hostilities and of course, as all honourable senators know, the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations is the President of the Security Council for this month. We are worried about the loss of life. In view of the potential of these hostilities and the fact that two of the super powers are backing the respective sides concerned, it is fortunate that in spite of that, the detente that came about between the USSR and the US prior to this situation has proved to be an anchor in these very troubled times. They each started to supply both sides. In the old days as honourable senators can imagine, that would very quickly have blown up into a world war. But because of the detente or because of some other better considerations for each other, Russia and the United States were able at the same time to enter into negotiations to bring about a ceasefire as a preliminary towards peace talks.
We have welcomed the joint ceasefire resolution because obviously before we can get anywhere we have to have a ceasefire. It is disappointing that the first ceasefire broke down but, as I said this morning, in many ways this is an understandable situation. When there is an in situ ceasefire, inevitably troops are scattered. If a section of troops on one side is being sandwiched between 2 sides and if the 2 sides try to join up, naturally there will be hostilities in that area. I think that this is quite unavoidable in a war of this sort. The days of having a war where there was a straight line down the middle and where each side pulled up at the sides I think has gone for ever. This is not a situation in which I have completely lost hope. In fact, I am optimistic. Because of the seriousness of the situation, because of what the Security Council has been doing and because of the actions of the USSR and the USA, I believe that we have grounds for at least some optimism, if not now at least in the weeks to come. We have supported the Security Council resolutions because we see them as being an updating of the practical and meaningful situation for which resolution 242 stands. But one of the reasons why I would not like to see Senator Kane ‘s motion carried in any form, and particularly in the Senate, is because it seeks to apportion blame. The Australian Government does not think there is any mileage in this at all. There is a war on. It has been going on over all this time and the immediate thing is to stop the fighting. Another thing is not to return to the situation which we have had for 6 years but to do something better. We should not lay down these inescapable rules because no matter how much both sides might berate one another there can be no firm and lasting peace until those three propositions are put into effect and accepted.
– Why does the honourable senator say that we apportion blame?
-The Australian Democratic Labor Party is apportioning blame because in its motion it is saying that it was the Arabs who caused the war.
- Senator, would you be good enough to read our resolution?
-Just a moment. You have amended it 3 times. We do not see any hope at all in apportioning blame to anybody. That situation will not bring about peace. Over the years both the previous Government and this Government have assiduously moved away from this situation and not apportioned blame. We have tried to get to a situation where both sides will recognise the sovereignty of each other. Resolution 242 has again been endorsed by the situation which has arisen. So both sides, at least to some degree, have agreed with it and it seems that until something better comes along this is the resolution that we ought to hang on to. The other day the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said in the House of Representatives that the Australian Government is committed to the sovereignty of Israel.
However, the question of the ultimate boundaries between the various states in the area will have to be worked out at the negotiations envisaged in the ceasefire resolution of 22 October. Throughout all this conflict, when people could very well have lost their heads, this Government has tried to maintain our situation. We are neutral in the conflict. We are trying to be evenhanded with the countries with which we have friendly relations. By doing this we think that it is the best thing for Australia because our interests are better preserved this way and, also, it is the best we can do for peace in the Middle East. The essential thing after there is a ceasefire is to make sure that in the negotiations both sides realise that they just cannot go back to a stalemate of 6 years and sit on a situation again. I would not think that they would want to because, as I repeat, they surely realise by now- as they should have realised over the years- that time was not on their side.
– In Korea they have not got peace yet. They still have only a ceasefire.
– If Senator Little says that we ought to wait over 20 years as we have in Korea -
– I am only reminding the honourable senator of the fact that when communism gets in that is what happens.
-If Senator Little wants to recommend that we should wait 20 years in the Israeli-Arab conflict, I think he will find that he is dealing with something which can very quickly get out of hand. This is the situation which they must not be allowed to get back to. I am dealing with the Arab-Israeli case. I am not dealing with the Korean case. I am not dealing with any of the other cases which Senator Little likes to drag across the track as red herrings. If Senator Little wants to deal with the Korean case then let him introduce it. What his Party has done on this occasion is to move a motion in relation to the Middle East and that is what I am dealing with. A little while ago Senator Byrne raised the matter of the recognition of Israel as if it were thought about for the first time. Resolution 242 states clearly that all nations in that area must be recognised and that their sovereignty must be recognised. I repeat, the 3 essentials as I see them are that the Arab countries have to recognise Israel; the Israelis must withdraw from the occupied territories- and no wonder, because if people are sitting in your backyard it will be a continuing source of conflct- and above all the Palestinians -
– What about South Vietnam?
-I am dealing with the Middle East. The honourable senator should get off South Vietnam and Korea. His Party introduces a motion here and then starts to run away from the situation. We are dealing with a tremendously serious situation but the honourable senator seems incapable of facing up to that fact. The previous Government was sensible enough to play this correctly. We are following in its footsteps by bringing the situation up to date with the things that are imposed on us from outside. As I was saying, the third thing that must be respected is the question of the Palestinians. This morning in answer to Senator McManus I said that if there were any recent developments I would bring them to his attention this afternoon. But looking at the paper that has been prepared for me I cannot see anything very new. He would be well aware of what has happened in relation to arguments as to where troops are. I do not think that is all that important in the question of a ceasefire. But United Nations observers are moving in, particularly on the Canal front. For what it is worth I suppose it is a good thing that they are able to go in. I do not know what happens if a war breaks out. I suppose they report it. But at least they are in the position of being able to move into this area.
I have said a couple of times that I am an optimist in this situation. I suppose that in the field of foreign affairs if one is not an optimist as one looks around the world then one had better get out. If we look at the elements which we have going for us, there always has been the problem of the Egyptians and the Arab countries saying clearly and definitively that they respect the right of Israel to exist. Early this week President Sadat made a quite unequivocal statement which has been repeated in many leading articles around the world that he was not interested in destroying Israel; he was interested in regaining the territories which had been taken from him. Some people will say that they do not believe him. Of course they will. But, after all, we can only start in very small measures. We can have a ratchet effect by grabbing something and moving on to the next stage. Sadat has said this. I read it very carefully. He has said it unequivocally. If this is something on which we can hang a peg then we have achieved something which we had not achieved before. Of course Israel, on the other side, has to agree to substantially withdraw and move away from the territories it is occupying. At the same time, both sides have to recognise the Palestinian situation.
I had tried not to go too far into the history of this situation but merely to show the stage to which both governments have been led because of the situation. In spite of optimism, there is no doubt that the area is the greatest danger spot in the world. When two of the super powers are arming both sides, that is potentially dangerous. Mollifying that effect has been the fact that the super powers have been able to keep talking whilst it has been going on. From time to time I have noticed Australians pressing- rightly so because an Australian is President of the Security Council this month- for us to do more. Sir Laurence Mclntyre has done something about this. I quote briefly from an evening newspaper that was given to me just before I came into the Senate chamber. The article was written by another Australian- Randal Heymanson- who has lived in New York for about 26 years. He says:
Only the calmness and impartiality of the president of the United Nations Security Council. Australia’s Sir Laurence Mclntyre kept the impassioned and angry debates on the ArabIsraeli war from explosion. Under a more excitable or partisan president the worst might have happened. Sir Laurence, a effacing man of few words, displayed a dignity and restraint which was not without its influence on the disputants.
I read those words for the benefit of people who do not know Sir Laurence. For those of us who know him, there is no need for us even to read the article.
– I start where Senator Willesee ended and add the tribute of the Opposition to Sir Laurence Mclntyre whose skilled diplomacy no doubt was a major influence in the United Nations. I am quite sure that the Opposition would wish me to state that. On behalf of the Liberal and Country Party Opposition I have circulated a foreshadowed amendment. I do not think that it differs in substance a great deal from that of the Government. It differs mainly in emphasis. I also agree with the Special Minister of State, Senator Willesee, when he says that this is not the time for recriminations and the apportionment of blame, beyond making a general comment: We all recognise and accept that we have the possibility of a cease fire. We accept the statement of Senator Willesee that we cannot expect a cease fire in the situation that exists to be enforced immediately. We only hope that it will be enforced.
The amendment which I have circulated reflects the present position. The motion which was moved by Senator Kane on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party reflected the position that existed some weeks ago. That same position does not exist today. We noted that both the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) and the Deputy Leader made reference to the situation in the Middle East having within it all the possibilities of a world war. Indeed, it had. A miscalculation by either of the great powers involved- the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics- could easily have brought about a world war. It may well have been that, in the situation we have faced over the past several weeks, the unfortunate and unsettled domestic situation in the United States could have brought about a miscalculation. We have to be thankful that it did not. Therefore, today we face a situation in which there is- I do not think it is too strong a term to use- an unstable cease fire at the moment.
As Senator Willesee said, the situation represents hope. We must all be optimistic. One of the great hopeful signs in the long term is that the Arabs no longer smart under humiliating defeat. Perhaps today we have a military stalemate. From that may well develop the willingness on both sides to reach an agreement. But we cannot expect that the years of bitterness and dispute can be solved in a matter of days, weeks or months. The Middle East- I think that Senator Willesee spoke of this- is one of the world ‘s most unstable but vital areas. I do not wish to pursue this debate by speaking on the general instability of the Middle East and the reasons for its instability. But I mention that there is an increasing nationalism amongst the Arab countries and indications of increasing strong-arm oil diplomacy being exercised by these countries in pursuit of political ambitions. This in itself must create instability.
We recognise that one-third of the world ‘s oil is produced in the Middle East and two-thirds of the world ‘s oil reserves are in the Middle East. One can imagine how those countries will try to exercise their oil strength, if I may use that phrase, to bring pressure to bear on the United States of America to cease support for Israel. This will be done indirectly because America, I think, is dependent for only 8 per cent of her oil requirements at the moment on the Middle East. But Japan is dependent for 90 per cent of her requirements and Europe for some 50 or 60 per cent of its requirements on this area. Therefore, there was some element of strong-arm oil diplomacy in pursuit of political objectives. We must recognise this in itself as being a pretty dangerous policy. We can hope only that the Arab powers will not continue to threaten instability and world stability by pursuing this type of policy.
The second reason why I think that this is a matter of immediate concern is the existence and the integrity of the state of Israel. We wish in our amendment to express on behalf of the Opposition clearly the view that Israel exists as a state and her existence must be recognised. I recognise that the Government has said this. We would wish the Senate to express it in clear unequivocal terms. But we believe that the existence of Israel, the recognition of her existence as a state and the instability brought about by the Arab states engaging in strong-arm oil diplomacy cannot be divorced one from the other. Perhaps I should also mention before dealing more specifically with the amendment the strategic importance of the Middle East to the world. It sits astride almost the whole of the communications between Europe and this part of the world. One should also mention the political uncertainty that exists in the Middle East and particularly in the Persian Gulf area where there exists between the Arab states long standing disputes over borders and jurisdiction.
One should recognise also that internal changes are taking place in these countries. They are moving away from the strong conservative rule of the past. As the people become more subject to outside pressures and their new wealth is bringing more affluence to them we find that this is not increasing the internal political stability of the countries but is creating internal political instability. We have had a number of examples of this during recent times. The issues that divide the Arab world are almost as great as the issues that unite it. Of course, one issue that unites it is its opposition to and hatred for the state of Israel. The realities of life make it inevitable that the State of Israel exists. Before there can be an enduring peace and stability in the Middle East that fact must be accepted. We believe that this is a cardinal factor in the issue of peace or war in the Middle East. We re-affirm, in our foreshadowed amendment, the right of all states in the Middle East to exist within defensible and recognised boundaries, free from external threat and we call on the Australian Government to use its influence to ensure that negotiations are based on Israel’s right to existence within defensible and recognised boundaries.
This brings me to the great issue of the present conflict. I refer to Resolution 242 of the United Nations. It is quite clear, to me anyway, that if Israel withdrew to its recognised frontiers, these frontiers would not be defensible. As long as Israel felt that it was under threat and there were continuing threats to its existence as a state, and as long as the Arab states were being massively armed and were showing an expressed willingness to use those arms, I believe that Israel felt, and justly felt, that it must have defensible borders which gave it room to manoeuvre in case of surprise attack. If the surprise attack had begun behind its recognised borders this time Israel may not have existed today. I think the first condition of peace must be an acceptance that Israel has a right to exist, that the Arab states must accept that fact and that Israel must be free from continued external threat.
This raises another question. I am bound to mention it. I do not mention it in recrimination. I mention it as a fact of life. We talk about being even handed. I respect the Government’s attitude of being even handed. Perhaps I am not as even handed in my attitude to the Middle East conflict as it is. I note that both the Soviet Union and the United States were criticised together for the supply of arms. It is rather like the position when somebody pushes a burglar into a house; the next door neighbour rushes in to help the householder and he is found as guilty as the man who broke into the house. The Middle East war would not have occurred this time if it had not been for the massive Soviet Russian support of the Arab states.
– That is not being even handed.
– I do not pretend to be even handed. I said that I would be less even handed than the Government. This is a fact which cannot be denied. It is no use being pious about it. It is no use throwing up our hands and trying to ignore it. It is a fact. The Soviet supplied not only massive armour but also the most modern weapons. It is noteworthy that it was reported within 2 or 3 days of the attack on Israeli positions along the Suez Canal that the Russian advisers military personnel returned home from Egypt. The United States, only when it was faced with Israel suffering attrition of its armour and weapons and with Russia beginning a massive airlift to supply the Arab states, began its very significant re-supply of Israel. I believe that this should be said and accepted. I do not accept that a even handed policy blames the United States to the same degree as it blames the Soviet Union for the war in the Middle East.
It is very easy to express pious hopes in resolutions. The world cannot continue to live with this threat. Probably a chance exists now with goodwill on all sides to try to find a durable solution. It may well be that the only solution in the short and immediate terms will be a very significant peace keeping force to provide a buffer between the Arab states and Israel until such time as tempers cool, bitterness becomes a good deal less and a settlement is reached. People say: ‘What is the cost of a peace keeping force?’ The cost of a peace keeping force would be minimal compared with the cost of war. It would be minimal compared with the cost of a war which lasted 14 days. Negotiations are possible only on the basis that Israel’s existence behind defensible and recognised borders is guaranteed. Without that guarantee there can be no lasting and durable peace in the Middle East.
We also believe- it is referred to in our foreshadowed amendment- that there must be an understanding and an agreement between the 2 major powers concerned, the Soviet Union and the United States of America, that they will ensure that there is no massive rearmament and that they will adopt an even handed policy on both sides to ensure that peace is maintained. I regret to say it, but peace will be possible, regardless of the Security Council of the United Nations, only when these 2 major powers agree. There is an obligation on other powers not to fish in troubled waters. I recall a recent ‘Four Corners’ program, 1 think it was, which showed terrorists from Lebanon and elsewhere who had been trained in China and who were armed with Chinese weapons to carry out these outrageous acts of terrorism against innocent people throughout the world. We in this country have not been free of this threat. There is an obligation on other countries, including China, not to cause trouble and not to fish in troubled waters by training and supplying these people, if there is to be peace and trust in this area.
Senator Willesee mentioned the refugee problem. We mention it in our foreshadowed amendment. I think the solution of this problem is basic to any lasting settlement. The refugee problem must be solved. One cannot help but feel that the Arab states have been using these unfortunate people as a sort of shop window. There has not been by the Arab states a genuine effort to solve the refugee problem. It is not only a problem for the Arabs; it is a world problem. I hope that Australia will take a leading part in offering to help solve this problem. We could play a prominent part by offering generous financial support, in common with other countries, to solve this dreadful problem. It must be solved before there can be peace in the Middle East. I have spoken, I think, in a low key. United Nations Resolution 242 refers to the acquisition of territory by war. I speak for myself, but my sympathy is with Israel. I do not think we could have logically or rationally expected Israel to give up this territory which it believed and which many believed was essential for its defence and was proved essential for its defence, until such time as there was a settlement. Admittedly there has been intransigence on all sides. Do not let us apportion the blame too much to one side. There has been intransigence on all sides. It is very easy for us, in the relative security of Australia, to be critical. 1 have tried to put myself in Israel’s position. Maybe I would have been as intransigent as Israel was. We only hope that out of this will come a greater desire to solve a problem which so far has proved to be insoluble.
We believe that the amendment which we have foreshadowed and circulated faces up to the realities of the situation. It may express pious hopes but within its terms, I believe, are the essential ingredients for a settlement. The other essential and most important ingredient for a settlement is the willingness on both sides to come to an agreement which respects the territorial integrity of Israel and respects the rights and integrity of all other countries in the region. Reaching a settlement will not be easy, but recriminations will not do any good today. This is why we prefer the terms of the amendment we have moved to the Government’s amendment rather than the terms of the motion moved a fortnight ago by the Australian Democratic Labor Party which does apportion blame although at the time the motion was moved that may have been fair enough. If this debate does anything at all, I hope that it expresses the wish of this Parliament to see in the Middle East a peace that recognises, as I said earlier, the existence of the state of Israel and the rights and integrity of the other countries in the region.
– The situation prevailing in the Middle East at the present time is a tragic situation. It is a tragic situation for the people of Israel who find themselves in a small country of only some two million people, many of whom still bear the scars of the holocaust under the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, and many others of whom bear the scars of memory through knowing what has happened to their families as a result of racist, antisemitic persecution in many other parts of the world, fearful of their continued existence because they believe that they are surrounded by many millions of hostile neighbours who do not acknowledge the existence of their state. The situation is likewise a tragic situation for the Arabs who find that many hundreds of thousands of their people are refugees from the country of their birth, and that many hundreds of thousands of their people are now living in the most appalling conditions in refugee camps away from the homes in which they were born and away from the cities, towns and villages in which they grew up. They are people who have suffered humiliations and bombardments, not only by the Israelis but also by the British and the French in 1956. At the present time they have large areas of at least three of the neighbouring countries to Israel- the Arab Republic of Egypt, Syria and Jordan- occupied by Israeli troops.
I would like to say at the outset that I agree with the contention of the Israeli Government that one essential for peace in the Middle East is a recognition by the Arab states of the sovereignty of Israel and the right to existence of Israel. In fact, at the last Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party I successfully moved a motion that the policy of the Australian Labor Party should include such a provision, which it now does. This is the policy of the Australian Government, namely, that it is essential for peace in the Middle East that there should be a discontinuance of the denial of the right to existence of Israel by the majority of Arab countries, and that the Arab countries should recognise that Israel is a state which does exist and which should continue to exist.
But that is not the same thing as laying down what the borders of Israel should be. The borders of Israel are matters of negotiation. The Israeli Government claims- this is the purport of the amendments proposed to us tonight by the Democratic Labor Party and by the Liberal Party- that there ought to be direct negotiations between Israel and the contending Arab powers. Coupled with this, one finds very frequently the most stringent, caustic observations by the Government of Israel and its supporters about the United Nations, what they describe as the failure of the United Nations and the unsatisfactory nature of the United Nations. They express a general desirability not to have the matter considered by the United Nations but rather by way of direct negotiation. This is an attitude on the part of the Government of Israel which the Australian Government does not support and which I, for myself, deplore. If there is one country in the world which ought to show some loyalty to the United Nations it is Israel, because Israel would not exist if it were not for the United Nations decision in 1.948. Israel is a country which was constituted by the United Nations. For Israel, of all countries, to say that the United Nations is an organisation which should be treated with contempt and that negotiations should take place outside of the authority of the United Nations is, I believe, most deplorable and something which I hope that no Australian Government would support.
The Israeli Government calls for direct negotiations between the parties. That is something which sounds attractive, but the consequence of any direct negotiations always has to be that one party is negotiating from a position of strength and another party is negotiating from a position of weakness. Surely the whole purpose of the painful construction of the United Nations is to remove situations whereby important decisions relating to world peace are resolved by negotiations in which one powerful country can talk te a weak neighbour. Decisions should be made on the basis of rational argument by disinterested parties, by a body which does not approach the question either from a position of strength or from a position of weakness but which tries to make a rational and humane a:sessment of the issues that are involved.
For that reason I believe that it is essential, however unsatisfactory the United Nations may have appeared to be- certainly the United Nations is no more unsatisfactory than its individual members; it is not something separate from the individual members of the United Nations- that there should be no decision on the problems which have occurred in the Middle East unless the discussions are under the auspices o .” the United Nations. If anything were to damage world peace- not just peace in the Middle East but world peace- it would be for the United Nations to say that it was incapable of resolving ti e problems in the Middle East. They are proble ins which, I believe correctly, it played a major part in the creating by the resolutions which led b the establishment of Israel. If the United >ations were to say: ‘We carried resolutions w 11ch established Israel but we are incapable of keeping the peace now that disputes have broken out between Israel and its neighbours’, I think lt at we could all say that: ‘This is the end of the United Nations’. I do not think anybody, however critical he might be of the United Nations, would say that this would be desirable. Surely if there is to be lasting peace in the world it has to be achieved as a result of the sorts of negotiations which take place within the United Nations.
What is the history of the area? I think this is important. Israel was, in historical times, the home of the Jewish people who were dispersed throughout the world and who were very oftenir fact, more often than not- cruelly and abomir ably treated by the inhabitants and the govern.ments of those countries to which they went as refugees. After the passage of the years their former area in Palestine became settled and occupied by fellow Semites of the Jewish people, the Arabs, and they became an Arab community. In the 19th century the Zionist movement was fiormed, primarily with a religious-Jewish orien-tadon but arising out of the persecution of the J> wish people in central and more especially e: stern Europe. Some Jewish people- those who believed in retaining their ethnic and religious i< entity- came to the conclusion that there was no way in which they could continue to exist in the countries in which they were living, particularly countries such as Russia and Poland, and that the only way in which they could continue to exist was to fulfil the promises of the biblical prophets and return to Israel and re-establish the nation whose people had been dispersed so many centuries before. Small settlements were established in Palestine. They continued to be small settlements until the 1 920s and particularly the 1930s when Nazi persecution of the Jews reached such a peak that many thousandsprobably hundreds of thousands- of people who themselves would never have been Zionists or never would have wished to settle in Israel had there been a normal state of affairs in their previous home countries, were driven to move to Palestine, or Israel as it subsequently became known. This was the direct result of the persecutions to which they were subjected. Theirs was a tragic story. One can only feel sympathy for them.
I am one of those who supported the establishment of the state of Israel and still believe that it was correct that the state of Israel was constituted. Even if one were to argue that it was a mistake for the United Nations to decide some 25 years ago that Israel should be established as a state- even if one were to say that it should not have been done, despite the fact that the United States, the Soviet Union and practically every country in the world voted for the establishment of Israel- it is too late now to say that it was a mistake. It is like saying that it was a mistake that the Pilgrim Fathers went to the United States or Captain Phillip settled in Sydney. Israel is a fact; it does exist; it is a state and it is entitled to its independent existence.
Having said that it is a state which does exist and which is entitled to exist, there are certain other things- very important things- which have still to be said. For example, what is to happen to the Palestinian Arabs who, irrespective of whether their fears were justified- I know that it is argued by spokesmen for Israel that their fears were unjustified- left the country and became refugees? What is to happen to them? The argument is very frequently put by spokesmen for Israel that they are not being looked after by the Arab countries into which they fled and that the responsibility falls on those Arab countries to look after them. I would not deny that the Arab countries do have a moral responsibility to look after kinsmen of theirs who come into their nations as refugees. I suppose we have a responsibility to look after them, too. All human beings have a responsibility to. look after them. But surely the primary responsibility for making some restitution to them falls on the people who occupy their homes and their lands- the people who now constitute the state of Israel. I make no suggestion at the present time as to how the problem is to be resolved. But I do say that there is a real problem, a very burning problem, with many hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab refugees from Israel. In fact the Palestinian Arab refugees from Israel are now, in the Middle East, what the Jews of Russia and Poland were in the 19th century- dispossessed people living almost without sustenance, without hope and in desperation, knowing that their former country is now occupied by somebody else.
I do not believe it is any wonder- I do not say this is any sense of approbation- that as a consequence of this some amongst them have turned to extreme forms of violence, because that is what does happen when people are in the sort of situation in which the Jews of eastern Europe were in the 1 9th century and in which the Palestinian Arab refugees in the Middle East are today. When one is critical- I believe that one is entitled to be critical; that one ought to be critical; that one ought to deplore; and that one ought to do whatever one can to prevent actions of terrorism such as those we have seen perpetrated by .certain Arab organisations- one has to remember that this is something which seems to be almost a natural consequence of this sort of situation.
One has only to cast one’s mind back 25-odd years to know that the allegations which are now being made against Arab terrorist organisations were then being made against the Zionist terrorist organisations Irgun Zvai Leumai and the Stern Gang, of which Senator Mulvihill has just reminded me. I think one has to acknowledge that Mr Menahen Beigin, one of the leaders of the Irgun Zvai Leumai is now a leading member of the Israeli Knesset. He is a man who was, if not directly at least indirectly, responsible for the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo and for the hanging of 3 British sergeants during the British mandate in Palestine. I am not condemning Menahen Beigin. I am not saying that he should not be a member of the Israeli Knesset. But I can well understand some non-terrorist Arab saying: Who is the former leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi to be reproaching our people about terrorism?’ 1 think it is quite false and quite improper for us to try to judge the situation in the Middle East by counting up who committed more acts of terrorism. Appalling as were the murders committed in Munich during the Olympic Games by an
Arab organisation, I do not find them any more appalling than the murders that took place in Beirut only recently of the leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. I cannot say it is disgraceful to murder the Israeli athletes, which it is; but that somehow it is different, it is not, so bad, to murder one of the leading Arab poets” in his own home in Beirut or to capture a man in his home city of Beirut and take him to Israel and, by a most extraordinary distortion of any judicial process, charge him with belonging to an illegal organisation when the organisation was legal in the country in which he lived but illegal in Israel.
To bring him to Israel and charge him with being a member of an illegal organisation, which is what is being done at the present time, would be parallel to someone from South Africa coming to Australia, kidnapping a member of the South African Defence and Aid Fund and taking him to Johannesburg and trying him for being a member of an illegal organisation when the organisation to which he belonged was perfectly legal in this country. So I do not think we ought to discuss the question on the basis of who committed the acts of terrorism. What I think we have to do is try to resolve a very difficult problem. For this reason 1 believe that the approach of the Government and, I think, in general terms the approach of the amendment which has been foreshadowed by Senator Sim, are attempt’s to do this by saying that we should have an evenhanded policy. What contribution can Australia possibly make to the settlement of this dispute and what possible assistance can we give to the Australian who is at present sitting as Chairman of the Security Council in resolving these difficulties if, before we even start to discuss them, we say the Arabs are right and the Israelis are wrong, or vice versa.
– The United Nations observer said that.
-Senator Little said that the United Nations observer said something. I do not care what the United Nations observer said. I am asking how we can have our representative act as Chairman of the Security Council- how on earth we can make any contribution to the resolution of these difficulties- if we do no adopt an even-handed attitude. Senator Little would like us to make an heroic declaration in Canberra condemning, I take it, the Arab states, the Soviet Union and anybody else who happened to be connected with the Middle East position, and then to withdraw from the proceedings and take no further part in them, because that would be the consequence. Australia is not a major power with any military influence in the area. The only influence we can possibly hope to exercise in the area in order to achieve peace is to approach the matter as an evenhanded country which does not have any vested interests and which is trying to resolve the question in the light of morality and justice. To turn up at the United Nations and say: ‘Before we get to you we would like to tell you that we have already found one side guilty and the other side not guilty ‘is tantamount to saying: ‘We intend to wash our hands of the whole affair’.
– We are not saying that.
-That is in fact what the Democratic Labor Party’s motion says. I would say at the same time that it seems to be quite absurd for the Senate to say that it is going to condemn the Soviet Union for selling or providing arms to the Arab countries. We can condemn the Soviet Union for providing arms to the Arab countries only if we condemn the United States for providing arms to Israel because there has been a two-sided traffic going on. It is not as if Israel is manufacturing its own arms and the Arab countries are getting their arms from the Soviet Union. What has happened is that there has been a conflict of interest between the Soviet Union and the United States with the Soviet Union supporting certain Arab countries and the United States supporting Israel. I am not condemning anybody for that. I am not saying that either the United States or the Soviet Union is acting maliciously or endeavouring to create havoc or harm. I am not saying that either is doing anything other than what it conscientiously believes to be correct. But it would certainly be absurd to say that we should condemn those people who are giving material assistance to one side and, at the same time, not saying anything at all about the actions of the other major power which is giving material assistance to the other side. I believe that this would be quite foolish, quite wrong and quite damaging to our position.
The proposition which is before the Chair- the motion which has been moved by Senator Kane and amended by Senator Byrne- is that we should condemn Syria and the Arab Republic of Egypt for their attack on Israel. I believe that this is not a proposition which holds water. Those areas into which the Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria moved their troops are areas which are legally part of Egypt and Syria. They did not invade Israel.
It could be said, if one wanted to make this sort of point, with just as much justice that what happened as far as the battle around the Suez
Canal was concerned was that the Egyptian Government decided to move some of its armed forces from one part of Egypt to another and was prevented from doing so by Israeli aggression. One could just as easily say that. In fact one could say that with quite complete justice because Israel itself admits that the Golan Heights area in Syria which it now occupies, and the Sinai peninsula, are parts respectively of Syria and of Egypt and not parts of Israel. They were taken by force by Israel in 1 967 for whatever reasons it may have had for making a pre-emptive strike on the basis of what they guessed or thought might happen. They were the ones who committed a specific act of military aggression against Syria and Egypt. They invaded Syria and Egypt in 1967. Whatever they thought may have been going to happen the fact is that it was the Israeli troops who moved into Syria and Egypt. I will not condemn the Israelis for that. There may well have been good reasons in their judgment for doing so. It may well be that if I had been in their position I would have wanted to do and would have decided to do precisely the same thing. But the fact remains that that is what happened. They moved into Syria and Egypt, and occupied Syrian and Egyptian territory. They are continuing to occupy it not only by force and illegally but also in direct contravention to a decision of the United Nations, the organisation which created Israel. That is the precise position at the present time.
Israel illegally and by force occupied some of the territory of their neighbours contrary to a decision of the United Nations. I do not believe that in those circumstances, whatever sympathy one can have for Israel, one can turn round and say: We are going to condemn the Egyptians and Syrians for trying to move into their own territory’. If, for example, some other country were to have attacked Australia in 1967 and occupied the northern part of Queensland, and the United Nations had carried a resolution saying that that country should withdraw its troops from Australia, and in 1973 we sent our troops back into that part of Queensland which was occupied by that foreign power, would we accept a proposition which said that we were guilty of aggression? Guilty of aggression against whom? Why cannot the Egyptian Army go onto the Sinai peninsula? Why cannot the Syrian Army go onto the Golan Heights? One is part of Egypt and the other is part of Syria. I concede the point that has been made, and it is a very valid point, that Israel has a great deal to fear. Above all things they have to fear the attitudes adopted by governments in a number of Arab countries. Certainly the treatment of Jewish minorities in a number of Arab countries is of such a nature as would inspire any Israeli to have the utmost fear of what could be done to him. Certainly the treatment of the Jewish population in Baghdad by successive Iraqi governments has been one of the most disgraceful episodes this century. Although the position of the Jewish population in Egypt has certainly not been as bad, that likewise has not been anything which would lead one to have a great deal of faith in the sort of treatment -
– What has been the circumstances of any Arab population in Israel?
– I will come to that later. No one could do anything but deplore the treatment of the Jewish minorities in the great majority of, if not all, Arab countries. Certainly the Arabs do not come into these negotiations with clean hands as is shown by their own attitude. But what we are faced with is a conflict which could well lead to a third world war because not only are the people of these countries involved, not only are their territories involved but also questions of the utmost strategic and economic importance to the major powers of the world are involved. There are matters which prevail in those countries which would certainly encourage any power to take much more interest in the disputes which are taking place in the Middle East than probably in any other part of the world.
First of all there is the strategic geographical position of the area. Although over recent years geographical positions have not been as important as they once were, there is still considerable importance in the geographical position of the area in dispute. Probably even more important is the economic situation in regard to the world supply of oil coming from those areas. So it seems that if there is to be any worsening of the tension and conflict in those areas what we are faced with is a real possibility of a major world war involving the major powers. Although the major powers are confronting each other over the present dispute between Israel and her Arab neighbours the fact remains that the settlement is not one which in the end can be made by the major powers. It is one which can be made only as the result of a just settlement between the Arabs and Israelis. I believe that there are certain essential points to be recognised. The first of them is that the Arab countries all recognise that Israel is a State with its independent right of existence and, having recognised that, that there must be negotiations as to where the borders of
Israel and the Arab countries are to be. Insofar as it is possible to do this, satisfactory arrangements then need to be made for the rehabilitation, compensation or re-settlement of the Arab refugees from Israel.
It seems to me that these are not matters which ought to be left to the parties which are directly involved to negotiate when their negotiations will be largely subject to which of them thinks that for the time being it has the strength. These are questions which can be resolved only by all countries of the world through the United Nations, and the most valuable contribution which our country can make is not to be condemning any of the parties involved in the dispute or their friends and supporters but by strengthening the United Nations, by seeing that this country plays a significant and impartial role within the United Nations. That is precisely the policy which this Government has laid down and for that reason I support the amendment moved by Senator Willesee.
– The Australian Country Party will support the foreshadowed amendment distributed by Senator Sim. It is very interesting to hear the speeches in this chamber tonight. When one boils it all down there is very little difference between what honourable senators are saying and thinking. We have to get to the nitty gritty of this and I think it is essential from this Parliament’s point of view and from the Australian people’s point of view that a settlement of the Middle East issue be brought about and maintained. I listened to Senator Wheeldon with a great deal of interest. I do not think that I have heard a speech from Senator Wheeldon in this chamber that was so even handed, particularly when he was in Opposition. It may be that that is an indication that the Government after 23 years in Opposition has finally realised that it now has the responsibility of conducting the foreign affairs of this nation and that it cannot make great statements designed to gain votes or which may have some ideological flavour to them. The Government has to get down to the nitty gritty and decide who is responsible for action and who is not. I believe that this is also the role that we in this Parliament should play.
This issue, which has been boiling for a long time, is not a local issue but we very nearly came to a third world conflict over it. After all, when there is one super power increasing its support for one nation on one side and another super power increasing its support for a nation on the other side, unless something drastic happens, we could be in a situation where we could not stop a conflict and then we would all be involved. It is all very well to believe that the United Nations is the be-all and end-all in keeping world peace. I heard Senator Wheeldon say: ‘Well, OK, Israel was created by the United Nations so therefore it should obey everything that the United Nations asks of it’. But history has proved that while the United Nations might take pious views on certain things and insist on certain things it does not have the power to carry out these views. The United Nations has no control over issues in which the super powers are involved. There is no doubt that the 2 super powers, and not the United Nations, decided whether or not the conflict in the Middle East would go on and whether that conflict would involve the rest of the world. I think that this point has to be recognised. If Israel had been dependent on the United Nations to decide the issue in this conflict, that country could have been wiped out. We have to realise that this is the situation.
I agree with statements that were made in the Senate this afternoon and this evening that we must ensure that among the nations of the world Israel is recognised as a nation within the Middle East. We have to convince the other states in the Middle East that Israel is part of that region. We have to ensure that once the boundaries have been decided they will be maintained, notwithstanding the threat that arises from time to time of aggression from either side. I say still that it is the super powers who in the long term will be in the box seat to decide what will happen. It is not much good the United Nations deciding where the boundaries will be when one side or the other is being armed by an outside super power. It is quite obvious that when this happens the other side will take action to protect itself. This is why I believe that the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Sim gives Australia the opportunity to set the seal for some peace in the future. I do not think that much good will be done by pointing to who is at fault in this conflict, who was at fault last year or who was at fault the year before that. I do not believe that we will do much good by asserting that certain groups from either side are conducting guerrilla tactics and so on. Our role is to ensure that Israel is recognised as a state within the Middle East area. We have to ensure that all other states in this area recognise it also. We should make every endeavour to ensure that once boundaries are decided on they will be maintained.
In view of what has been said in the Senate tonight on this subject I see no reason why I should continue my remarks at great length. I believe that this Government has a role to play on behalf of the Australian people. It has a duty to put our point of view. It is all very well to condemn the Soviet Union and the United States of America in this conflict. The fact is that it was the Arab states that made the first move and it was the Soviet Union that assisted the Arab states before the United States came in. If the Government is to be consistent in its attitude towards aggression and its belief that there should be peace in the world, it should forget its outside allegiances and state clearly that it will oppose those who condone and support aggression. The Government should lay this attitude clearly on the line. I support the foreshadowed amendment to be moved by Senator Sim.
– I support the original proposition moved by Senator Kane and also the amendment to that proposition moved by Senator Byrne on behalf of Senator Kane. I think that everyone who has taken part in this debate has spoken most sincerely. However, I think that they completely overlooked certain facts in their condemnation of Senator Kane’s motion, particularly in regard to the opening clauses of that motion. I would like to remind honourable senators that for evil to triumph it is only necessary that honest men remain silent. I deplore the attitude to international events today that one must shut one ‘s eyes and not observe the obvious, that one must pretend that what is going on is not happening because in that way we will get world peace. I do not believe that we will get world peace that way at all. Indeed, incidents that take place around the world today show quite clearly that it is only when things that are wrong are dragged out into the open and condemned by honest people throughout the world that nations that are attempting to engage in these acts for the promotion of their own power basis abandon their efforts and begin to conciliate and lean towards an attitude of world peace.
It is wrong to ignore the part that the Soviet Union is playing in the Middle East conflict or the part that it is still playing in the Korean conflict. As I suggested by way of interjection to the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee), it is wrong to ignore the fact that the United Nations is still at war in Korea. It is true that there is a ceasefire agreement in that country, but there is no negotiated peace agreement. Even today representatives of the Soviet Union appear continually at peace conferences to conduct negotiations with members of the United Nations. If anyone doubts that this conflict is still going on one may venture to ask what these representatives are doing there? If these are the facts of the circumstances that apply in Korea today, surely we should not blush when we state these facts. If we do we shall not succeed in allaying those things which can create conditions that can lead to a major conflict in the world today, a conflict which we all want to avoid.
I revert to the opening sentences of the resolution moved on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to prove that we in no way have attempted to apportion blame. But it is sheer stupidity to want to talk about this question and to shut one ‘s eyes to the facts that caused the conflagration that at present is going on in the Middle East. The resolution moved on behalf of my Party refers to the present conflict, but I will go back further than that. The first part of our resolution states:
1 ) That the Senate, noting reports-
We must decide whether or not that statement is a fact. The resolution continued:
Surely it is not provocative in our effort to persuade the Senate to express our concern to the United Nations to recount what was said by the United Nations observers. Surely the United Nations cannot be an influence in creating peace in this area if it sits blindly with its hands over its eyes so that it cannot see what is actually happening in the world. If this happens no one will listen to what is said by a powerful body such as the United Nations.
I said that I would refer to what happened prior to the outbreak of the present conflict. I would like to refer to what has happened since the Six-Day War took place. We must spare a moment to consider these events because we would not have a conflict in the Middle East now if the Six-Day War had not taken place. We should refresh our memories about the circumstances existing when the Six-Day War broke out. Those circumstances were that Nasser, who led the Arab nation, was supplied with the most sophisticated armaments of warfare by the Soviet Union; he closed the Suez Canal; he demanded the withdrawal of the United Nations forces from the Gaza Strip thus cutting off the Straits of Tiran from the Israelis and placed
Israel in the situation where she was being encircled by a Nasser-led Arab nation which was making most boastful statements about its intention to wipe out completely the Israeli nation. Israel- perhaps wrongly on that occasionsought a peaceful solution by consultations with the major powers- that is all on the record- and finally, when she seemed to be abandoned and standing alone in this isolation that was gradually being forced upon her, launched herself against the Arabian forces that were gathering and wiped them out of existence within 6 days. She established the lines which now exist. In our motion we do not suggest that it is Israeli territory. We define the lines factually as they are. The lines which Israel established are the ceasefire lines, as we mentioned in our motion. So this war began 6 years ago.
The Soviet Union then established in the Arabian states up to 20,000 military experts who were advising and training in the use of still more sophisticated armoury and weapons which it had supplied and still continues to supply. Senator Wheeldon drew attention to what is a fact today- the conflict of interests. The Soviet Union is still supplying arms to the Arab nations, and America is trying desperately to catch up by supplying arms to Israel. But one must pause there and ask: ‘What are the intentions?’ In regard to this conflict of interests, what specific interest has the United States of America in supplying arms to Israel? In a commercial sense, probably America is far more interested in the other side in the conflict. One must ask the reasons why America allows herself to get into the situation where she is only endeavouring to match with what the Soviet Union has already supplied and is continuing to pour into an area of conflict.
A sinister note has crept into the reports that we have received. No doubt this could be checked by the United Nations although the Australian Democratic Labor Party can only reiterate the reports that have appeared in the newspapers, although they seem to be authentic reports. Those reports seem to establish that the Soviet Union has supplied equipment to the Arabs and has trained the Arabs in the use of that equipment. This equipment was used by the Arabs in the attack which was made against the Israeli positions, and we are not saying whether they were legally occupied positions as a result of the Six-Day War. The Soviet Union then informed Israel that the attack was likely to come. I am only an Australian who happens to take some interest in international affairs, but here was a situation in which a country was endeavouring to provoke a war to which there would be no immediate solution; a war that could well follow the pattern of the Korean War in which the United Nations was and still is involved; the type of war that is and has been crippling Western democracies as they are created in country after country. By a strange coincidence, the same influence seems to have been exerted all the time.
Are we to ignore these facts? Are we to endeavour to establish peace by blinding our eyes because we believe that if we crawl on our bellies we are more likely to get peace than if we stand up like men and reiterate the facts, and let it be known that we observe what is happening and are not trying to fool ourselves and everybody else with an imaginative picture of doves of peace flying around the world? With the enormous supremacy that Israel established in the Six-Day War, she could have gone far beyond the lines she established. Are we not entitled to think for ourselves and to say that at least it was a gesture that she had no real intention to occupy the territories of others, other than in the sense of occupying what was necessary in order to ensure her own security? Now the situation has changed with the pouring in of the extra equipment. Israel gets the tip-off that action is to be taken against her, but this time she restrains herself from taking the initial advantage and, small as she is and surrounded as she is, allows the advantage to go to the other side.
I think that Israel is a country that has not shut her eyes to what is happening in the world. She is one of the few countries today that is standing up to her responsibilities to herself and to the rest of the world. Israel is not weak in her capacity to defend herself in spite of the enormous strength of the forces that surround her. She is becoming really the bulwark for world peace, although there are those who would attempt to brand her as an aggressor. This is a nation that is capable of taking care of herself; this is not an Australia that is strong in her own right and able to protect the enormous natural wealth that is to be found in one of the largest continents in the world with one of the smallest populations. Israel is not Australia, she can stand on her own feet. Israel stands in far more difficult circumstances than we know.
This conflict in the Middle East could be an enormous threat to world peace. I warn the leaders of the nation who sit in the Senate- after all, we humbly accept the privilege to be able to sit here among those who are supposed to lead this nation- that they should not allow Australia, with its enormous natural wealth and its present situation in world affairs, to become so tragically weak that it cannot defend itself in the world as it is today; in a world where there has been a ceasefire in Korea for 20 years against United Nations forces but where no peaceful settlement has yet been reached; in a world where there is a Vietnam.
There are those who want to take no sides in this conflict in the Middle East, although they were very ready to take sides against those who did not step into North Vietnam and were prepared to walk under banners calling for the success of Ho Chi-Minh who led North Vietnam against South Vietnam. I warn the leaders of the nation that with Australia becoming as weak as she is today, she too could become one of the greatest challenges to world peace. The weaker a country becomes, the greater the danger to world peace. Australia has a lesson to learn from the situation in the Middle East. All that Israel has tried to do has been merely to find a place for herself in the affairs of the world. Perhaps what Israel has done, as Senator Wheeldon rightly said, was not done with complete justice to everybody concerned, but it is an established fact today that Israel has created a miracle in an area of the world where people had to grub from the hostile environment only the barest necessities of life. Israel has transformed the area which she occupies into an economic success beyond even her own dreams. She has shown that she is prepared to stand and to die rather than to have it taken from her. I have no hesitation in saying that I will take sides and that I will express my view on this issue. I will not take sides by blaming the Arab nations because I feel that they are but pawns in a bigger pattern that is developing to keep the world in a state of semi-peace and semi-war, a state of constant violation of countries and borders with incidents which stretch the economies of the nations of the world in their endeavours to manufacture and keep pace with the necessity to produce the sophisticated equipment they need for defence in these areas.
I believe, and I say it here- I will say it anywhere- that this is but a small part of an overall pattern and that the Arab nations, whilst they may have some rights and some problems that should be aired before the United Nationssome privileges which should be granted to them and some rights restored to them- when they are equipped as they have been equipped for these purposes and when they are urged on and then their opponents are informed of what is about to happen, they should realise that they are being used as pawns, that nobody wants anyone to win this war, that other nations want the wars to go on and on even when there are no more dividends in the actual conflicts to ensure that there shall not be stabilised peace. We have seen a ceasefire in Korea and a negotiated ceasefire in Vietnam. But there has been no cessation of hostilities in Laos, Cambodia or Thailand. Is it the aggressive Americans and Australians who are maintaining these circumstances in these various theatres throughout the world? I say to Government supporters: ‘Do not sit there with your eyes shut. You have a responsibility to open them and you have a responsibility to speak of what you see’. And if we do not see through the same eyes, my eyes see it that way. These are the events and changes that I see happening in international affairs today.
I believe that the proposition which the Democratic Labor Party has placed before the Senate is a real proposition. It is not one which starts with an apology that we will not face the facts. It starts with the facts from the moment the first shots were fired in this particular conflict, which is what we are dealing with at the moment. We are saying: ‘Here are the facts, let us achieve a ceasefire’. We amend that proposition to meet the very latest circumstances and we have been challenged on it. We say that we should try to enforce the United Nations ceasefire proposal which is based on direct negotiations for a Middle East settlement between the Arab governments and Israel; and the special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) who has the advantage of having just visited the United Nations says we are wrong, that that is not what was negotiated. I would like him to explain to me the meaning of paragraphs 3 and 4 of resolution 242 of 1967 which was adopted by the Security Council at its meeting on 22 November 1967. These paragraphs say:
The Minister referred to that, and if that does not mean direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states then I would like to know who are the states concerned in the Middle East through whom we have to promote and maintain the peace of the area. I rest the case there. I believe that we must open our eyes and then say what we think about what we observe. The DLP motion is not only in the interests of the people in the area itself who have become involved on this occasion but it is also in the interests of world peace. If Government supporters will listen to us they will learn that the motion is in the interests of the future security and the peace of this nation also for we too are gradually drifting into this whirlpool where our own weakness will be an attraction to the violence which is spreading to this very rich area of the earth’s surface which has to date escaped.
-In the brief time which is at my disposal in this debate I would just like to draw attention to the subjectivity of the approach that has been taken not only by Senator Little but also by Senator Kane who moved the motion we are debating. In his remarks he called on the Australian Government to use its influence in the Security Council to bring world pressure to bear on Egypt and Syria to withdraw their forces behind the 1967 ceasefire lines. That was a partisan approach particularly in view of the resolution that had already been carried in the United Nations. It follows that we on this side of the chamber must stress Australia ‘s continued maintenance of neutrality and an even handed policy in the Middle East and continued support for the Security Council resolution 242 as an acceptable basis for a just and lasting settlement in the Middle East. I think it is proper that I should reiterate some parts of the text of Resolution 242 of 1967 to which Senator Little did not refer. I emphasise particularly that all member states of the United Nations in their acceptance of its Charter have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2, which is concerned with world peace. I read paragraph I of the Resolution:
. Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
That has never been achieved. The occupied lands conquered by the Israelis in the 1967 war have never been vacated. The 1 .3 million Palestinian refugees are still homeless and have never been able to return to their homeland, yet we are trying to allocate blame and specifically to pick out who started the war. I will refer to that a little later. The United Nations Resolution goes on:
Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force;
Here I would like to refer to the closure of the Suez Canal, which is an abrogation of Resolution 242. The text goes on:
The refugee problem is still festering throughout the whole of the Arab countries. The text continues:
Senator Kane said that there are 2 fundamental questions: How did the war begin and why did the war begin. He said that the answer to the first question was that it began with a premeditated and unprovoked attack on Israeli positions. Of course the situation is that the war began in the times before Christianity. There have been continuing wars right throughout the history of the Middle East area. The war could be said to have begun in 1933 with the pogrom of the Germans against the Jewish people in Europe. Anyone who saw with his own eyes the persecution and the degradation of these people in Europe realises the emotion and ‘ the compassion of members of the United Nations when eventually they were able to come to grips with finding a solution to this age-long problem of the Jewish people.
The Jewish people have been inspired by the scriptural belief that they were children of Israel and that they would return. I suppose this could apply to all people throughout the Middle East because at some time or other they have had relatives or ancestors who have resided in the Holy Land or they have had contact with the Holy Land through this common allegiance to Mohammed. Senator Kane said that the answer to the second question as to how the war in the Middle East began was that it was started by Egypt, backed by Syria, because the Arab states were trying to achieve on the battlefield what they had been unable to achieve in the 6 years of maneouvering in the diplomatic and political arenas. How subjective can one be? Senator Kane made a judgment on 1 1 October. He finds now, on 25 October, that he has to move an amendment to alter his position because he knows very well that there can be no possible settlement of this dispute while the Israelis occupy the Sinai peninsula.
– They will never cease to occupy it without the guarantees which they have been seeking for 6 years.
– They will cease to occupy it because that is conquest. In this day and age the world has learnt that it cannot win anything by conquest. Wars have to be outlawed and the people who supply arms to small nations to provoke wars should also be outlawed. The two super powers are aiding and abetting this bloodbath, this loss of humanitarianism which exists throughout the world towards these people and the loss of all the things which have been built up over a period of years of sacrifice. All this is being lost now because the super powersfor whatever purpose- have made it possible for these death dealing sophisticated weapons to be matched against these nations. These are not the wars of the religions or holy wars of a kind that have happened in the past. These are deathly final wars in which no quarter is given and no quarter taken. This lifts the situation to the level which man had hoped would never be reached again after the experience of the 1939-45 war and even the war which has just been settled in South East Asia. I look at this problem as being one in which we must confirm Australia’s belief in the maintenance of a neutral and even-handed policy in the Middle East and a continued support of resolution 242 which we supported in 1947. We have constantly asked for a just and lasting peace for the Jewish people after their Gethsemane of Europe. We hoped that they would live in this land which had been given to them compassionately by the rest of the world. They had no rights to Israel. It was given to them by the other nations of the world.
– They would have the same rights as the Aborigines have -
– They had no rights to Israel whatever. After all, it was given to them by the United Nations.
– Order! Before I put the adjournment question I inform the Senate that I have received letters from Senator Gietzelt and Senator Wheeldon requesting their discharge from attendance on the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate nominating Senator Devitt and Senator Poke to be members of that Committee.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That Senator Gietzelt and Senator Wheeldon be discharged from attendance on the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence and that Senator Devitt and Senator Poke be appointed members of that Committee.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 7.1 p.m. until Tuesday. 6 November, at 2 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
1 ) (a) Navy 37,06 1 , Army 396,66 1 , RAAF 122,5 1 7.
The religious denominations of individual members are recorded on personal files. The manual task involved in extracting and collating this information by denominational groups is of such magnitude that I am reluctant to authorise the allocation of staff to undertake it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Science is not a compartment separate from other aspects of life. The orientation of our society towards the qualitative aspects of growth and towards broad concepts of welfare requires a close integration of science policy with social and economic policy, especially in relation to the long-range human objectives of economic development. Labor recognises that science policies must be conceived in the broadest sense, including a close relationship between technological opportunities and social goals, each being considered in the light of the other. It follows that for the most effective use of science and technology in achieving national goals, these goals must be thoroughly studied and continually reviewed.
While all science has a common basis, Labor recognises that national scientific policies must take account of the different factors involved:
Labor therefore proposes:
To promote the surveying and scientific study of Australian flora and fauna.
Royal Australian Navy: SANAR Lifejacket (Question No. 441)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
This jacket has not . replaced the type 50N inflatable lifejacket which will continue to be the normal issue to HMA Ships for lifesaving purposes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 10 October 1973, Senator Rae asked me the following question, without notice:
My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is it a fact that holders of private post office mail boxes and private mail bags have at the suggestion of the Department this year paid their annual rental fee in advance until March 1 974? Is it a fact that in breach of what might have been regarded as a contract the Postmaster-General’s Department has sent out notices to such private box and bag holders stating that the charges will be increased from 1 October 1973? Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to reconsider the equity of this action and to defer the increase until March 1 974?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
Holders of private boxes and bags have paid their rental fee in advance until March 1974 at the pre 1 October 1973 rates. Notices are being sent to private box and bag holders stating amounts now payable for the period to 31 March 1974 in accordance with the amended Postal legislation.
All applications for private boxes and bags provide that the applicant will comply with the Post and Telegraph Act and Regulations. The Act and Regulations are varied with the approval of Parliament. Rental charges are effective from 1 October of the relevant year and this ensures all are treated on an equal basis.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731025_senate_28_s57/>.