28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 1,450 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens, being members of the Country Women’s Association in Tasmania, repectfully showeth:
That the continuation of the monarchy should be upheld by loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen, recognition of the flag and the National Anthem and the bestowing of Honours, and
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should ensure that no changes are made in the continued recognition of the Monarchy, expressed by loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen, recognition of the flag, the use of the National Anthem and the Honours system, until the voice of the people has been expressed by referendum.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition from 9 Citizens of the Commonwealth.
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘Free’ National Health Scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme;
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons;
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the government will take no measures to interfere with the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to implement the international covenant on civil and political rights and for other purposes.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the elimination of racial discrimination.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. Does the Government acknowledge that the continuing strike of State Electricity Commission electricians in Victoria is, in fact, a strike against a decision made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Does the Government accept that it has an obligation to uphold decisions of the Commission? If so, will the Government publicly support the system of conciliation and arbitration by urging publicly the striking members of the union to return to work and to abide by the decision of the Commission, and if the union wants to have the decision altered to use the ordinary procedures of putting in a claim and submitting it to conciliation?
-The Government is of opinion that there is a lot in the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act that possibly could provoke strikes rather than eliminate them. The Government has sought to remedy this situation by alterations to the Act. It was not successful because of certain sections in the Senate which the Government believes have a vested interest in strikes.
– I rise to a point of order. I asked the Minister a question. There are 3 limbs to it, each of them specific. My submission is that the Minister is now debating an issue which has been through the Senate and is avoiding answering the question. I submit, Mr President, that your previous rulings indicate that the Minister should not debate questions.
– Order! The question was quite clear. The Minister has begun, I think, to debate the question. The specific question he must answer or not as he sees fit.
-Having said that, I go on to say that the Government is concerned with the number of strikes that are occurring throughout New South Wales and is cognisant that the great strikes that are occurring involve the employees of a government instrumentality in New South Wales. The Government is fully cognisant of the fact that it would appear that with a pending election there is political motivation in what is happening in New South Wales and that no attempt is being made to settle the disputes which are occurring.
– I ask for leave to ask a supplementary question on the basis that the question I asked was not answered.
– I have no hesitation in granting the honourable senator leave to ask a supplementary question, because the question asked of the Minister was in relation to matters occurring in Victoria and not in New South Wales.
– I ask the Minister again: Does the Government accept that the strike occurring in Victoria by State Electricity Commission electricians is a strike against the decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Does the Government accept an obligation to uphold decisions of the Commission? If it does, will it publicly urge the persons who are on strike to go back to work, to abide by the decision of the Commission and to use the procedures of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to put in their claim and let it be conciliated?
-The public acknowledges that the strike is against the decision of a Commission in Victoria. The Government is concerned that some settlement be reached to this dispute and is doing everything possible to settle it.
– Is the
Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that his Government’s promise of open government is being questioned as a result of the refusal of Ministers to give details about the composition of existing interdepartmental committees? Why should Ministers not inform the Parliament of which interdepartmental committees their officers are members? Why is it wrong to identify the existence of a committee or its membership, even if there is international or commercial involvement, when its findings are not made public? In view of the Government’s election promise, will he explain the reason for secrecy?
– I can imagine that there may be circumstances in which the standing of the name of a committee or the subject matter into which the committee is inquiring might easily cause problems, as the honourable senator has indicated in his question. Suppose, for example, that some particular security problem arose. To have it announced that a committee was looking into that very subject matter might in some way be prejudicial to the inquiry. On the other hand, it would seem obvious that probably many committees are looking into matters in relation to which there could be no possible reason why the existence of such committees or the subject matter being inquired into by them, or for that matter the membership of the committees, ought not be made known. I do not think it is a matter of simply saying all or nothing. I am sure that if we can find some way of making information available, consistent with the declared policy of the Government to have as much openness in administration as possible and compatible with the requirements of the nation’s security, such matters ought not to be kept confidential. If committees have been set up in the areas for which I am responsible and if the honourable senator wants to know about them, I would be happy to supply the information. I should imagine that information on a great number of committees could be treated in this way. Some of the committees are formalised and I suppose some of them might be informal, as the honourable senator would be aware from his own experience. Insofar as assistance can be given by me on the matter, I will be only too happy to give it.
-Is the Minister for the Media aware that among the advertised programs on television last week were 3 Australian feature films to be screened on the major networks? Is this the greatest number of Australian feature films ever shown on television in the one week in Australia? Can the Minister say what additional efforts are being made by him to implement the Government’s policy on the development of a viable Australian film industry?
– In reply to the first portion of the honourable senator’s question, yes, it is a fact that last week 3 Australian feature films were shown by the major commercial networks throughout Australia. This is the greatest number of Australian feature films ever shown by the networks in one week. So far as the second portion of the honourable senator’s question is concerned, I can tell the honourable senator that I have been endeavouring to persuade international film production companies to consider the production of films in Australia using predominantly Australian labour, in conformity with the Australian Government ‘s policy of establishing a viable film industry.
– Order! I ask the Minister to answer the question and not to debate it.
– I can advise the honourable senator that next week 3 Australian feature films will be at the shooting stage of production simultaneously. Of course, it is also most unusual that 3 feature films should be shot at the one time in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer in this chamber. Is it a fact that the British Government has increased its bank rate to the very high level of 13.5 per cent? Does the Australian Government, in pursuance of its dear money policy, propose to increase further the already high bond and overdraft rates? Does the British experience and the Australian experience to date indicate that making money dearer, thus increasing costs and adding to inflation, is not the sensible way in which to overcome a situation of excess liquidity in the community? Does the Government understand that it has to look to its own expenditures if it wants to find the proper solution?
-I will refer to the Treasurer those parts of the question which affect the Australian Government. I do not think the honourable senator expects me to make criticisms of another government.
-Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that an inspector of the New South Wales Corporate Affairs Commission has stated that the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral intervened in a case in which the inspector was on the verge of investigating certain activities of the Alexander Barton Company group operations? Further, is he aware that efforts to arrange a joint interview between Alexander Barton and his legal representatives, McCaw and Johnson, were quashed by the New South Wales Attorney-General? I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he can suggest any avenue in which the Australian Government can expose and punish such examples of financial buccaneering.
- Senator Mulvihill, I have warned you about this already. You are asking the Attorney-General for a legal opinion. I call on the Attorney-General to answer the question as far as he can.
-Really, the matters which the honourable senator raises are matters which are under the New South Wales law and come within New South Wales administration at the moment. As to what the Australian Government can do about financial irregularities and malpractices under corporation law, I state that it is the intention of the Government to proceed with legislation for securities and exchange regulation. It is intended to have a securities and exchange commission and also to have a national companies law. The supervision and prevention of malpractices would appropriately be dealt with by the laws relating to companies and by the supervision which would be expected to be had by a securities and exchange commission. I believe that such supervision is long overdue, in order that the malpractices to which the honourable senator has referred may be largely prevented and certainly minimised.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Does the Minister recall my asking him last week whether he was aware that the current greatly inflated property values are making the present level of allowable assets for pensions unrealistic? As this is so, will the Government consider increasing the value of allowable assets to compensate for inflated values so that many pensioners and persons applying for pensions will not be further disadvantaged by the current rate of inflation? In his answer to me previously the Minister really failed to answer this specific question. I ask him again whether the Government will give consideration to my proposal.
– I recall the question which the honourable senator asked last week. I think I told him that it was Government policy, in accordance with an election undertaking given by the Prime Minister, that in each session of the Parliament the Australian Government would increase the subvention payable to pensioners by $ 1 .50 a week until the pension reached 25 per cent of the average weekly male earnings. This is Government policy and that Government policy will be adhered to.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Is the Minister able to advise the Senate of the number of houses that are presently required throughout this country? What number of houses is it anticipated will be required in 12 months time? Does the Minister acknowledge that the present high interest rates on housing loans and lack of finance will prevent many people, particularly low income people, from being able to afford to build their houses until the present credit squeeze is removed, and that many people feel it is wrong to use a financial measure to stop people satisfying their urgent physical need of a home?
– It would be impossible to state the number of houses needed. As has been stated, there are 93,000 applicants for rental homes in Australia at the present time. So at least 93,000 families are seeking homes. The demand for housing within the next 12 months will increase as the housing figures increase each 12 months. But I will see whether the Minister for Housing can supply any information on that matter. Interest rates have no effect upon the number of homes constructed. They could have an effect upon the number of sources from which housing finance is allocated. Housing construction today is at the maximum level possible with existing resources of manpower and materials. The delay in the construction of houses today is caused not so much by increased interest rates as by a shortage of skilled labour and materials. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs has increased the vote in each State for the Aboriginal housing program. It is very doubtful- it seems almost impossible- that the houses for which money has been allocated will be completed. The same situation applies in the Australian Capital Territory. The problem with housing today is not interest rates; it is the shortage of skilled labour and materials.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the following question: In view of the genocide practised in Tibet by the Chinese, which was exposed in its report on the matter by the International Commission of Jurists which is based in Geneva, does the Government really believe that Taiwan should be a province of” China, it having been referred to as such some time ago by the Prime Minister, because of the risk of a similar fate befalling the people of that country? Just what is the Government’s policy in regard to Taiwan?
-Our policy in regard to Taiwan has been stated several times. What will be the situation of Taiwan vis-a-vis the People ‘s Republic of China in the future, I could not tell.
– In view of the serious mosquito problem being experienced by the residents of Darwin, particularly in the areas of Nakara and Wanguri, can the Minister representing the Minister for Health say what action, if any, is being taken in an effort to rid the community of this menace?
-The Minister for Health in another place advised me that Senator McLaren might be seeking information of this nature. The Minister has advised me that there has been no recorded case of indigenous malaria in the Northern Territory since March 1962. There has been a mosquito control program in the Territory for several years and the Australian Department of Health, in cooperation with the Darwin City Council and the Department of the Northern Territory, is currently undertaking an expanded mosquito control program which includes the northern suburbs of Darwin. My colleague the Minister for Health has provided me with additional background information of some detail and that I will provide in turn to the honourable senator.
-Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted the decision of Comalco Ltd to abandon the proposed alumina refinery at Weipa in north Queensland? Has he also noted that it may be built in another country in the south west Pacific region? Will the Minister inform the Senate as to how many projects which could be of great benefit to remote areas may be discontinued as a result of the economic climate in this country and the Government’s policy towards mining companies?
– I will pass the honourable senator’s question along to the Minister for Minerals and Energy who will no doubt be able to give an answer which might go beyond a little bit of the confined suppositions that the honourable senator put in his question. There may be many reasons why a movement of a project is made. But no doubt the Minister could answer the question more adequately.
-Can the Minister for the Media inform the Senate what has been done to provide additional news services to Queensland as a result of additional operational funds being made available by the Government to the Australian Broadcasting Commission this financial year? Is the Minister aware that regional news services are important to the people of Queensland, and will he discuss this matter with the Commission?
– I have already been able to advise my colleague, Mr Hansen, the honourable member for Wide Bay, as I think I said in answer to a question in the Senate recently, that a new regional television news service has been established for Maryborough and Wide Bay. That service in fact commenced on 5 November. The daily bulletins for this service are prepared in Brisbane because as yet the Australian Broadcasting Commission does not have studio facilities available at Maryborough. The Commission is now looking at extending the special television news bulletin service for Cairns and surrounding district and is engaging staff for that purpose. I understand it is expected by the Commission that it will be able to introduce this service within the course of the next 2 months. This, of course, is in conformity with the Government’s policy of diversification of news coverage, and as a result of the Government providing an additional $ 10m to the Australian Broadcasting Commission this financial year these things are now able to be done by the Commission.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to claims emanating from the College of Advanced Education in Tasmania that that college’s budget has been cut from $ 15.8m to $12m necessitating a reduction in the number and the extent of the courses available at that college? Is it a fact that that has happened? If it is a fact, what were the reasons for the cut in the budget? Is there any prospect of it being restored?
– I am unaware of the details involved in the honourable senator’s question. I will certainly make inquiries of the Department of Education and let the honourable senator know the result.
-Last week Senator Rae asked me to obtain some information for him about the introduction of regulations under the Students Assistance Act. I have now obtained that information, and with your concurrence, Mr President, I will provide it to the honourable senator. The Scholarships Act 1969 was not proclaimed because of the absence of regulations. A heavy legislative program during the period immediately following the passing of the Act prevented for some time the allocation of an experienced draftsman to the task. Drafting of the regulations was nearly completed when it became apparent that new legislation would be required and action was suspended. Much of the work already done, however, can be used as the basis for regulations under the new Act and it is anticipated that that Act will be proclaimed to commence by the end of January 1974.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen advertisements in the Sydney Press, authorised by the Liberal Party of Australia, suggesting a large increase in the Australian Public Service was irresponsible and inflationary. Has the Minister read the booklet ‘Compendium of the Australian Public Service’ which lists the growth of the Public Service since Federation? Does this booklet show that in 1965-66 the increase in the Australian Public Service was 9,526; in 1967-68 it was 10,555, in 1969-70 it was 12,132 and in the current year it was 9,996 as at 30 June 1973? Is this official publication correct? If so, does the Minister concede that the advertisements are not only improper but also misleading, and that the Government has to expand the Public Service to carry out its mandate given in 1972 in many new areas of public activity?
- Senator Murphy, this will require general knowledge from you.
-Yes. I can safely say that the answer to all the honourable senator’s questions is yes. The Senate will be indebted to him for exposing the misleading advertisements which have been published by those in New South Wales who have the material available and should know better.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation: Will the Australian Government allow Qantas Airways Ltd to accept the increase of 6 per cent in air fares suggested by the International Air Transport Association while still defrauding the Australian travelling public to the extent of 25 per cent? Why does the Government allow Qantas to remain a member of IATA?
-The answer to the question is yes, it is permitted so to do. We deprecate the use of the words ‘defrauding the Australian travelling public’.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Further to the question asked by Senator Young earlier, is it a fact that the present Government will completely eliminate the means test in the lifetime of this Parliament.
– It will be a long time before that happens.
– I assume that Senator Wilkinson required an answer from me on behalf of the Minister for Social Security and not from the Opposition Whip, Senator Young. It is the policy of the Government to abolish the means test in the life of 2 parliaments- that is, over a period of 6 years. In addition to the information which I provided to Senator Young earlier this afternoon -
– It is 3 years.
– I think it is in the lifetime of 2 parliaments. Already action has been taken along this course. In the Budget action was taken to remove the means test on anyone 75 years of age and over.
– I think it is 3 years.
– I will check on the period involved, but I can assure Senator Wilkinson that it is part of Government policy to abolish the means test.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a question which I asked yesterday about wheat for Ethiopia. In reply the Minister indicated that various other forms of assistance were under discussion. In the light of further Press references this morning, I ask the Minister: Are there any developments in this matter as far as the Government is concerned?
-Yes. To get more immediate help in these very tragic circumstances we have arranged for a quantity of protein enriched milk biscuits to go direct to Addis Ababa by Qantas Airways Ltd. We expect that to be within the next 2 weeks. If we can get it on an earlier flight it will go, but that depends upon Qantas. Also there has been set in train by the Disaster Emergencies Committee of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid a national appeal for the inhabitants of the area. It is hoped to raise a minimum of $200,000.I commend that appeal to anybody who wishes to associate himself with the provision of help for the area. Yesterday the honourable senator asked me whether wheat was to be given to Ethiopia and other places. I did not have a note in front of me. I could not remember them. The countries which are mainly affected are Ethiopia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. The population of those countries is about 25 million, or which a little over half is affected by this drought. The stock losses in some places are as high as 83 per cent. The honourable senator asked what we are doing. The first thing that we are doing is taking immediate steps to send the protein enriched milk biscuits direct to Addis Ababa. As I explained yesterday, there will be some difficulties in getting the wheat there. It will be fairly slow. The other thing that we are doing is to be seen in the appeal which has been launched and which I commend to everybody.
– I ask a question of the Minister for the Media. He will recall that earlier this session I raised with him, as a result of his visit to the north-west coast of Tasmania, the possibility of extending Australian Broadcasting Commission services in that area. He advised that the ABC hoped to appoint a journalist in the near future. Is he in a position to say what action has been taken along these lines by the Commission and when it is likely that the north-west coast of Tasmania will receive this additional service?
– I recall the honourable senator’s question. 1 am pleased to be able to advise him that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has determined to appoint a journalist for the northwestern coast of Tasmania. He will be stationed in Burnie. He will be taking up his duties on Monday, 26 November. I understand that the gentleman concerned is a Mr H. W. Lacey.
-Did the Minister for the Media in the early part of this year request television stations not to enter into any commitments for the purchase of overseas programs? Has the Minister’s aim been achieved? If not, how does he propose to achieve it? Are the requested limitations on the purchase of overseas programs still in force? Have the television networks complied with the Minister’s previous request? Has the request for limitations on overseas programs been lifted by the Minister? Does the Minister contemplate any further action in this direction?
– It is a fact that earlier this year I wrote to the licensees of the major commercial television networks, and also to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, requesting them to defer the purchase of overseas television programs at that time. They co-operated on the basis that I did this because it had been the practice of the networks, perhaps rather unwillingly I tend to believe, to commit themselves in advance to the purchase of American programs, made only to the pilot stage, before they were actually tried on the American networks. Thus they were being purchased 12 months before they would be required for use in Australia. In some cases this had meant that the Australian networks had committed themselves to the purchase of American programs which had flopped on the American market.
The stations agreed to delay their purchasing and this has given them the opportunity to judge, from a number of episodes of the programs that have been shown in America, their suitability for prospective success in Australian television. Australian buyers have since gone to America as from, I think, September this year. The honourable senator might have noticed recent statements which have been rather critical of me, saying that as a result of the introduction of the points system I had tended to create a buyers market rather than a sellers market. If this is so, I regard those statements as a compliment for the success of the points system because our endeavour has been to encourage Australian commercial stations to expend a greater sum on the production of Australian programs. I read recently in a newspaper article that this year Australian commercial stations have committed themselves to an expenditure of about $7m on Australian television productions.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Davidson concerning the calamitous famine in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries and to the reply by the Minister in which he specified as evidence of early aid some protein enriched biscuits, which may or may not get there in a fortnight, and approval’ of a commended scheme for voluntary aid to the tune of $200,000. Is the Minister aware that in 2 or 3 weeks thousands of people may die because we are dallying in the provisions of aid? Is he willing to send a bull to China by Hercules aircraft but not vital food and medical supplies to Ethiopia? What plans, if any, has the Government in terms of money? Will it underwrite the $200,000 or more and get it going immediately? What plans has the Government to mobilise medical and paramedical aid and to guarantee to those who are offering already that it will move them by Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to Ethiopia immediately?
-I regret that Senator Carrick very obviously tries to import a political context into a situation such as this. Some weeks ago we gave a cash grant to the multilateral organisation under the Food and Agricultural Organisation. Senator Carrick is being very wise after the event. This situation was not known until recently. As I said yesterday, my interest was aroused in London and I did something about it immediately I got back. We sent our Ambassador to Addis Ababa when we could not find out anything about it. Senator Carrick acted on the premise that the only people in the world who are going to assist in this tragedy are the Australians. Australian aid is only one of many forms of aid and therefore it has to be dovetailed with the other situations which arise. As I said yesterday, we are still trying to seek information. It seems to us, from the advice that we can get, that this would be the best thing that we could do. Today we decided that as from yesterday- I am able to tell Senator Davidson now although I could not tell him yesterday because it was not finalised- we would send milk protein biscuits. We are sending them by the quickest possible way.
– Two weeks?
-Will the honourable senator just wait until I have finished. We are sending them by the quickest possible way. It is just not that easy to get a Hercules aircraft on which to send them. If we could, the biscuits would go. How can the honourable senator make his comment when we have taken the 4 actions- we have also encouraged the general appeal- which we have taken to do something about this situation? Now, at this stage, we start to get criticised and honourable senators opposite start to import something of a political nature into the matter. The fact is that in relation to aid this Government is moving faster and giving greater amounts than the honourable senator’s Party when in government ever did. There never has been this amount of aid. Even in relation to this amount we have not put a ceiling on it. This is the most immediate thing we can do. The honourable senator ought to realise, if he does not realise it, that there are several multilateral organisations throughout the world. I attended on three of them when I was away only a few weeks ago. This matter is constantly under study. Does the honourable senator think that we will ignore the people and the expertise which has been built up in relation to this subject over this time? We are doing everthing -
– That does not answer the question.
-The honourable senator is so jealous that he is trying to import politics into a situation where people are dying in Africa today.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he has calmed down.
– I withdraw the words calmed down’. I ask: Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to yesterday’s statement by the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, that Australia was trying at last to get in step with New Zealand in the Pacific? Prescinding entirely from the motivation for such a statement, will the Minister advise Mr Whitlam that three of the steps taken by the present Labor Government in New Zealand, a Pacific power, are a refusal to recognise North Vietnam until that country desists from aggression and observes the cease-fire in South Vietnam; a refusal to destroy the SEATO alliance; and a refusal to break the Five Power alliance in Malaysia? As our Government is badly out of step with New Zealand in all these matters will the Minister, in the interest of credibility, ask the Prime Minister to adjust his step?
– If I decide to give the Prime Minister any advice I shall certainly look for a much better briefing than I could get from Senator Hannan.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to statements which were made by the Prime Minister and other Ministers in Japan recently concerning the Australian Government’s policy in relation to overseas investment in the mining industry. I also refer to the speculation which has occurred in the Australian Press ever since as to what those guidelines really amount to. I ask whether it is the intention of the Government to make a statement to this Parliament in the near future informing the Parliament of the details of the policy. If it is not the Government’s intention, I ask: Why were such policy announcements made in Japan thousands of miles away and not to the Australian Parliament and the Australian people?
– I shall pass the honourable senator’s question along to the appropriate Ministers in order that they may decide whether and when such a statement should be made.
-I assume that the Acting Minister for Primary Industry will be aware of the increased difficulty which the apple export industry is facing in the light of demands for extra shipping freights. I ask him: To what extent has distribution of payment been made for revaluation compensation effective at the beginning of the year? Will revaluation compensation be available for next year’s export season?
– Payments have been authorised to be made this year to more than 90 per cent of the eligible Tasmanian fruit growers involved. The Department of Primary Industry is seeking some technical details of the actual figures of payments and when the figures are available they will be made known. I do not know whether a decision has been made about next year’s crop. I will take it up with the Department and I hope that Senator Wriedt on his return can give the information to the honourable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the reasons surrounding the resignation of Professor Strehlow from the Institute of Aboriginal Studies? Is it a fact that, according to a Press statement attributed to him, this occurred as a result of his disagreement with the Federal Government’s policies on Aboriginal affairs and that he did not see eye to eye with the Chairman? Can the Minister say when he expects to be able to announce a replacement to this position?
-AU I know about this is what I read in a newspaper article. Whether it is a fact or not, I do not know. I have asked my Department for a report on it. Until we have received an official resignation no consideration will be given to a replacement. I do not know what motivated the mind of the professor or whether the reason stated by the Press was his reason for resignation. But if any further information comes to hand I will make it known to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the prolonged negotiations between the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government over the release of Australian Government-occupied Sydney Harbour foreshore land is due to the failure of the New South Wales Premier to accept the principle of leasehold land tenure? Has the New South Wales Government also refused to give an ironclad assurance that the 700-acre Bantry Bay land lot would not be used for other than national park purposes?
– I have had occasion to be supplied with some information on this subject matter and I can inform the Senate as follows: In January of this year Mr Lewis, the New South Wales Minister for Lands, wrote to Mr Uren seeking a discussion on the question of transferring defence lands to the State. Mr Uren replied that while he had a very definite interest in this matter, the question was properly one for discussion between the Premier and the Prime Minister. Mr Uren recommended to Mr Lewis that he ask his Premier to write to the Prime Minister. Premier Askin has never written to the Prime Minister on this matter. The Minister for Defence in March set up a committee to examine all the aspects relating to shifting defence personnel from one area to another. That committee should report before the end of this year.
Regarding the question of leasehold land tenure, the Australian Government’s policy, as I understand it, is to release land to the States only if it were held for leasehold tenure. With regard to Bantry Bay, representations have been made to the State Government that Bantry Bay should be combined with other national park proposals. Representations to the State Minister have not been answered to the satisfaction of the residents; that is, they do not have firm assurances that the land will be used only for national parks. It is interesting to note that whilst the New South Wales Government wants the Australian Government to hand over some of its land, the New South Wales Government continues to subdivide and sell State-owned lands. The view of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is that some of those State-owned lands should never be subdivided but should be retained as open space or park land. The Australian Government stands ready to discuss these matters with the State Government. I have no doubt that if Premier Askin writes to the Prime Minister on this matter he will receive a prompt reply.
– I wish the Minister for the Media to answer the latter part of a question which I directed to him and which was the main part of the question. I ask: As the Minister had instituted some restriction on television stations entering into commitments overseas, are the requested limitations on the purchase of overseas programs still in force? The Minister did not answer that part of the question and I ask him to do so. I asked also: Have the television networks complied with the Minister’s earlier request? The Minister did not answer that. I then asked: Has the request for limitations on overseas purchases now been lifted?
– I was under the impression that I had answered all the questions asked by Senator Webster. In reply to his specific question as to whether I instituted proceedings requesting limitations on the purchase of programs abroad, I did not institute proceedings but I made a request to the stations that they not engage in the purchase at that time. As to whether the limitations are still in force, I thought I mentioned to the honourable senator that stations now have buyers overseas and have had them overseas since September.
– With your authority?
– I cannot stop them. I only make the request. There is no embargo upon them at all. It was just a request that the stations co-operate, and they willingly co-operated. There is no limitation still in force and the buyers have been over there since last September. The honourable senator asked whether the television networks complied with the earlier request. I thought I answered by saying yes, they had extended their co-operation. As to whether the request had been acceded to, again I think I answered yes by saying that the stations did not send their buyers abroad until September.
– I do not think it requires a bell; it requires the good sense of honourable senators to detect such questions.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. I refer him to the continued presence in the parks opposite Parliament House of the tents and other structures contrary to law and to his answer yesterday when he said he has not seen any cause to take action on the matter. I ask: Will he take action if other persons and groups of persons or organisations move onto the site and erect and occupy tents, caravans, cars, trucks and other structures? If he will not take action, will he take steps to ensure that the appropriate toilet blocks and ablution blocks are put in place so that the health of the community can be protected?
– It is a wise practice, and the rules on the Notice of Question form state, that one should not answer hypothetical questions. I propose to follow that course in this case.
-Has the Acting Minis ter for Primary Industry noticed recent figures that reveal that farm numbers, total area and the number of permanent full time workers on farms in Tasmania are showing a steady decline? Will the Minister ask the Department of Primary Industry to prepare a report on special requirements on farms in Tasmania so that this very important facet of Tasmania’s economy is not allowed to decay?
-I think the Australian Year Book’ shows a decline in farm labour right throughout Australia. Farming has become more mechanised today and is now not so much a labour intensive industry or one which is reliant on the labour which can be provided by a farmer’s family. I shall take the matter up with the Minister on his return to Australia and see whether there is a problem that we should look into and whether there is some plan which should be proposed to arrest the position, if it is desirable to so arrest it.
– Last week I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory as to the method of valuing rural land in the Australian Capital Territory for probate duty purposes. He promised to obtain the information for me. Can I expect an early answer to this question?
-Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that the Premier of Western Australia said this week that he had not been notified of any decision by the Government to proceed with its Budget proposal to withdraw income tax concessions to the gold mining industry? Was the Premier a member of a deputation which came to Canberra recently to seek a continuation of the concessions? Why was the rejection of the deputation’s submission communicated to the industry but not the Premier? Is this another example of the Federal Government bypassing the States, or is it merely another instance of the Government’s bad manners?
-The answer is really no, I have not seen the statement. The Premier of Western Australia is probably a very persuasive man and a very outstanding Premier. I would say that he is probably the most outstanding Premier in Australia. He is battling for the gold mining industry. I think the honourable senator might hear something about this matter a little later.
– Can the Attorney-General indicate whether as yet it has been possible to establish the identity of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation officer who is alleged to have leaked information, I think in June of this year? If his identity has been established, what have been the consequences?
– Ring the bell.
– Was that Senator Dix?
– The honourable senators are in error in suggesting that. I suggest that the question be placed on the notice paper. I will endeavour to give an early answer to the honourable senator.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. It concerns his reply to a previous question with regard to the abolition of the means test within the life of one parliament or 2 parliaments. I would like the Minister to clear this matter up, because I will have a very personal interest in it after next year. Is it proposed that the means test will be abolished in the life of one parliament or in the life of 2 parliaments?
– I did inform Senator Wilkinson earlier that my impression was that it was to be in the life of 2 parliaments, but I am reminded that in the Budget Speech delivered in August the Treasurer said:
We have promised to abolish the means test on age pensions payable to residentially qualified persons 65 years of age and over within the life of the Parliament
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. On 2 previous occasionsearly in October and again this month- I asked the Attorney-General whether he was aware that the Supreme Court of South Australia had ruled that doctors fees in South Australia were subject to price control under the South Australian Prices Act. As it appears that fees and wages could be affected by this decision, will the AttorneyGeneral prepare a statement on the matter for the Senate as soon as possible? On the second occasion on which I asked this question the Minister did say that he hoped to reply the following day. I just remind him of that.
– I have prepared a statement on this matter. I do not seem to have it here with me, or I would deliver it now. I will deliver it tomorrow, and perhaps supply it to the honourable senator during the course of the day.
-I would like to give an answer to a question asked by Senator Rae yesterday. I indicated that I would endeavour to obtain an answer for him. The honourable senator asked me who appoints scrutineers for both polling and counting at a referendum. The answer to the honourable senator’s question is found in section 18 of the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1965 which reads:
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Seat of Government Administration Act 1936-1963 I present a statement on moneys received and expended during the year ended 30 June 1973 on the administration and development of the Australian Capital Territory.
– Pursuant to section 16 of the Grants Commission Act 1973 I present the Fortieth Report for 1973 of the Grants Commission on the applications made by the States of Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania for financial assistance under section 96 of the Constitution.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report on the activities and developments of the Department of Supply for the year ended 30 June 1973.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend section 1 3 1 A of the Customs Act 1 90 1 - 1 97 1 .
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing orders suspended.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to make an amendment to the Customs Act which is necessary to bring it into a form that allows complete application of the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora. Honourable senators will recall that, when the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, the honourable Moss Cass, recently announced that the Australian Government had decided to sign the Convention, he foreshadowed amendments to Customs legislation to prohibit international trade in those species covered by the Convention.
The Convention obliges contracting states to control importation or exportation of specimens to which the Convention applies and further requires the exercise of controls in respect of any such specimens introduced from the sea. The authority given respectively by section 50 and 1 12 of the Customs Act to prohibit by regulation the importation or exportation of goods provides adequate basis for whatever import and export restrictions may be required in terms of the Convention. However, a somewhat anomalous position arises in that section 131a of the Customs Act specifically exempts from the control of the Customs fish and other produce of the sea landed by Australia registered fishing boats operating out of Australian ports.
It is necessary to qualify this provision to make it quite clear that exemption from the exercise of control by the Customs does not apply in relation to any specimen of a marine species the importation of which is subject to prohibition or restriction under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, that is, to conform with the provisions of the Convention. The Bill now before the Senate does nothing more than supply that necessary qualification. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13 November (vide page 1 727), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As I said yesterday, this Bill was brought in late in the afternoon and in rather a hurry and one did not have any time to consider it in any detail except to make some general observations and to indicate that the Opposition would facilitate its progress and passage once we had had a chance to study its impact and consequences. I think that this is a proper responsibility for the Senate to assume, both in the Government style and in the Opposition style. In no sense can this be construed as a delaying action or other than as an act of total responsibility by a Senate which should perform in this style.
It will not take me very long to put my views on this matter. The Bill provides what might be called carry-on money. It does not in any sense change dramatically the appropriations which are due to come to us on some future occasion when the House of Representatives has disposed of them. Naturally we will be examining the Appropriation Bills at that time. The Bills are being examined at present by the Senate estimates committees. Some of those committees have concluded their work; some have still to conclude their work. The Bills will come to us at an appropriate time, and that time may well be rather close to the end of November. One understands that there is some need for the Government to have additional funds to carry on past that date. That is substantially what this legislation is about.
There are areas of this legislation which are of considerable interest. The passage of time has produced changes in both money requirements and circumstances. One thing is clear from examining the statements supplied with the Bill and from reading the rather short message given to us, that is, that part of this problem has been caused by the expansion in the number of Government departments. The Government has added 10 new departments of state. It also goes without saying that some part of the need for the extra money must be the additional expenditure incurred by Ministers who have added to their staffs people in various grades and at various rates of remuneration. One of those positions was mentioned yesterday by Senator Murphy in answer to a question. A person is to be appointed to his staff at $25,000 a year. This is not the first appointment of this character, although the rates of remuneration may be different, that has been made to the staffs of various Ministers.
The number of departments of State has been increased by ten. This has added a considerable number of new people to departments, and the restructuring of their pay rates will without doubt have a substantial effect on the requirement for the money that has been sought in such an urgent fashion. I imagine that the consequential effect of these new advisers and other people who have been appointed to the 10 new departments of State will not really be able to be judged adequately until about April or May next year. That 12-months period will enable a review to be made of what is now the cost of staffing compared with what it was before. This was indicated in this Senate when Appropriation Bills No. 5 and No. 6 were under discussion.
Even at that time- this was early in the sessionit was evident that at least an additional $ 10m would be required.
Other things that one might comment on include the fact that Dr Coombs was given the task of looking at the overall level of government expenditure. He made some substantial proposals for reductions in expenditure, many of which had a dramatic effect on primary and other industries, and on Australia’s export capacity. However it seems to me that he was rather reluctant to propose any decreases or adjustments in the areas under his own control. We have seen some expansion in that area. Some of it no doubt may be praiseworthy, but in the context of seeking to restrain expenditures the person who makes such proposals should have some regard to action called for in his own house. Therefore, a little later we will be looking at this matter more critically. In 1971 there was a similar process involving a request for supply. I referred to the Minister’s second reading speech on that occasion and found that the request was substantially for increases in wages and salaries and war and Service pensions, the product of a substantial national wage case decision at that time. However, the same principle held true. It is not the purpose of an Opposition to defer a request for supply made by a government but only to look at it, have it explained and scrutinise it. Any delay and inconvenience in this matter is the Government’s responsibility and fault because Appropriation Bills are matters in the hands of government and the timetable of their passage through Parliament is a matter for government determination and government order of priority.
In the Minister’s second reading speech the request for a total of $36m is explained as follows: Salaries, what I call not fundable under existing votes, represents about $5.288m; an amount for the restructuring of and additions to departments which is not specified; an amount for education of $ 1.834m which, as I said yesterday, is for admirable purposes; Service pensions and gratuities of about $9m. That adds up to something like $16m. So less than half of the $36m which is requested is explained to the Senate. One needs then to turn quite briefly to the accompanying document. There it is seen that in respect of the Parliament the increases are substantially those brought about by salaries and payments in the nature of salary. The same is true of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Department of the Attorney-General has only one substantial addition to salaries and payments in the nature of salary and that is for expenditure under the Criminology Research Act which we all support as an admirable project. The Department of the Capital Territory seems to have an increase in caretaking expenses of no great consequence. For the Department of Customs and Excise there is an adjustment of $400,000 in respect of petroleum products in the Northern Territory. As I said, I am being quite brief.
In respect of the Department of Education the increase is for Aboriginal secondary grants, Aboriginal study grants and isolated children’s assistance, the latter being for the substantial amount of $ 1.5m. All of them are rather good measures. For the Department of Environment and Conservation the increase is only in salaries. In the Department of External Territories it is for special assistance to facilitate the transfer of functions to the Papua New Guinea Government. There is involved an amount of $158,000. The Department of Foreign Affairs has some additions, the product of reimbursement of sales tax and a substantial increase in aid programs and aid under the Colombo Plan of nearly $600,000. For the Department of Health it is the Canberra Hospital and the Northern Territory hospitals which have had the main effect on the requirements. In the Department of Labour it seems to be the employment of persons displaced by technological change, which expenditure again is a very good thing. It has been brought into account in a request for money. The balance is due largely to salaries and payments in the nature of salary.
For the Department of the Media the increase is in respect of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for expenditure under that Act. It is not explained in detail but the amount of $150,000 could be taken up by an Estimates Committee at a later date. The increase for the Department of Minerals and Energy of $433,000 is substantially for the search for oil subsidy. It is not detailed but it also can be looked at by the Estimates Committee. For the Department of the Northern Territory there is about $340,000 for the Water Resources Branch and for general supplies stores and materials. There again it is a matter for the Estimates Committee and not for consideration under this Bill. The increase for the Department of Primary Industry is mainly in respect of wool marketing advice and administrative expenses. These are quite straightforward. When we come to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet there is a large amount of nearly $2m, the explanation simply being ‘Other services- acquisition of works for, and conservation of, the National Collection’. I do not want to get involved in a debate on artistic merit, but it would have been useful to have been told in the Minister’s second reading speech what that $2m is for. We have not been told. Perhaps the Minister might care to tell us whether that $2m approximately is to be for the proposed purchase of the painting called ‘Blue Poles’ and others. In effect, what is the $2m for? It is a rather large sum and is not explained here.
– The value of Blue Poles’ has increased since the Australian Government purchased it.
– The Australian Government, therefore, is bringing into account in its Estimates a sum of money reckoned to be profit or a credit. The Minister should not have said that. It was a rather useless observation. The collection is a good collection and it is important that we do these things. The $2m needs to be explained now in the Senate or we will search it out in the Estimates. The appropriation for the Department of Science, which is substantially for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, I imagine is a separate appropriation for funding its requirements. The appropriation for the National Library, which is under the control of the Special Minister of State, is $392,000 for running expenses. That is understandable and supportable by me at least because I am a great believer in the National Library for the use of the Australian people. The appropriation for the Department of Transport, which is mostly for the Bureau of Roads, is for expenditure on items other than salaries and payments in the nature of salary. The Service departments have large sums involved for gratuities and bonuses which have been explained in the Minister’s second reading speech. lt seems to me that the thing that one might say is that out of $36m only about $16m is itemised expenditure. The balance is treated rather casually. In that balance there is nearly $2m for the acquisition of works of art. That amount needs to be explained at some appropriate time. Other than that, speaking for myself, I feel that the Opposition has a responsibility to see that this Supply Bill is passed and that the money requested by the Government is given to it. The Government, of course, must stand ready to answer in due course for its actions in relation to its total expenditure and its general extravagance.
-The Supply Bill (No. 3) 1973-74 was read a first time in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 13
November. The Opposition in that House assisted the passage of the Bill, and it was introduced into the Senate on the same day, which was yesterday. The Government wishes the Bill to be passed this day, as I understand the position. It will not be the wish of the Opposition that the Bill be delayed. It is important to the Government that this finance be available. It may be that the method of approving the financial requirements of the Government should be undertaken in a somewhat different manner to that in which it has been traditionally undertaken. The method of annual appropriation by cash accounting, which is required of the Treasury, is perhaps not appropriate in these days. We are aware that the Federal Government is tied to an annual cash accounting system. The requirements as far as departmental budgeting is concerned are that the Government must include in its Estimates basically only known items of expenditure at the time of preparation.
I point to this matter as it is part of the uncommon circumstance that, while Appropriation Bill (No. 1) is not yet through the House of Representatives, the Senate is required to approve Supply Bill (No. 3) certainly well prior to the end of November or the Federal Government will have no funds to pay for its ongoing commitments. I shall quote the exact requirements for departments when preparing their estimates. We know that the original appropriation Bill which provided funds for the Federal Government to act until the end of November 1 973 was introduced into the Parliament as late as April or May of this year. We now find that those funds are insufficient for the work required. I quote from the Treasury principle which must be observed by all departments in preparing their estimates. It states:
Estimates for all items of expenditure must present a realistic assessment of the sum expected to be spent having regard to the information available to the department at the time of preparation. Estimates for supplies and services arc based on the current or known costs and provision is not made for possible rises in costs.
There is a further item which does not concern us at this moment, but I will include it. It states:
Where an item is for a type of recurring expense, such as office services or travelling subsistence, it is appropriate to budget on the basis of experience.
Of importance to us is this item:
Estimates must not include amounts for proposals which are so far from firm that it is not possible to form any real estimate of what payments, if any, will be made in the financial year.
If one studies those words one can readily see that rises in wages and the other items which the Treasurer (Mr Crean) has announced have required the introduction of this Bill. I shall refer to some of those items. The Treasurer said:
In a number of instances, and for a variety of reasons, these appropriations have proved insufficient.
Salary increases amounting to some $46m -
I refer to the quotation from the Treasury principle to indicate that it is impossible for departments to include amounts such as likely salary increases. The Treasurer also said: . . but there are some substantial salary requirements which cannot be met from that provision such as salary increases to staffs of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Australian National University and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board . . . Not only have there been substantial increases in rates of pay, but staff changes resulting from the restructuring of departments, the establishment of new departments and an increased tempo of activity have also put additional pressures on the Supply appropriations.
Under the terms of the principle for various departments it is unreal and unfair for one to criticise the shortage of money due to ineffectual budgeting by departments.
I recall that the Treasury, at least 3 or 4 years ago, was conducting an inquiry into programmed budgeting. A number of other advanced countries which were aware of the considerable problems associated with such methods of financial management have commenced a method of financial control by programmed budgeting, but they have found reasons for discarding it. I believe that some such system- perhaps a method similiar to what may be envisaged in the words ‘programmed budgeting’ should be introduced into the financial system of the Federal Parliament. The traditional Australian system has been for the Government, prior to the commencement of each financial year, with the consent of the Parliament, to appropriate sufficient money to fund necessary Government expenditure for the 5 months to 30 November. This is done usually through Supply Bill (No. 1 ), which is for salaries and running expenses, and Supply Bill (No. 2), which is for capital works and services. When Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) are presented they will allow for amounts already appropriated under the relevant Supply Acts. If further adjustments are necessary later in the financial year they will be appropriated through Appropriation Bill (No. 3) and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) and through subsequent appropriation bills which might be deemed necessary. The presentation of a third Supply Bill is not unusual or uncommon, nor should the Government be condemned for it.
The Bill provides for substantial amounts which are required for other than ongoing expenditures or recurring expenditures. It is proper that one interested in the Australian economy should have some concern about what I believe has been set in operation by this socialist Government in the creation of havoc in the Australian economy in ensuing years. I feel that it is reasonable that, while referring to the Treasurer’s suggestion that costs are incurred due to recurring and ongoing expenditures such as rises in wages, I should refer to the Schedule attached to the Bill. It contains a number of matters in respect of which, in approving this Bill, one can only say that it is the Government’s desire that this extra money be available. It will have the effect of creating a further escalation in the inflationary rate within our community. It appears to be a minor matter to refer to an expenditure of $35,944,000 when, as was mentioned by the previous speaker, we find in the estimates for the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, under administrative and other services, a commitment of $1,900,000 for the acquisition of works and for the conservation of the national collection. I understand that the Minister may give some breakdown of this amount but here, if I am not mistaken, there is a proposed expenditure of $1,959,500 which is, I understand, for 3 works of art being purchased from the United States of America. At a time when obviously the Government must pay some regard to the Australian economy, it has seen fit to enter into some expenditures which surely are unnecessary at present.
In the life of the previous Government, at least in the years that I have been in the Senate, it correctlyincorrectly in the eyes of some peoplereduced expenditure of large sums of money on things which were thought to be ineffective in the community and which, in general, did not add to the economic strength of the community. I refer to things which did not lead to a greater maintenance of business activity which is at the heart of the proper production of goods and services in the community and which provides the basis for employment within the private sector. This is a matter of great concern. We find that the present Government seeks to escalate the size of the Commonwealth Public Service by a rate approaching 5 per cent. That rate of growth is not matched by the very much larger employer in the community, the private sector. The growth rate of productivity in the community is not matching the growth of the Commonwealth Public Service. A reasonably alert Government would consider the great cost being placed on the Australian public by the creation of so many extra departments. The present Labor Government has seen fit to escalate the number of departments from 27 to 37 or more. Obviously the introduction of these new departments means the appointment of very highly paid officials and great expansion under them. That expansion is not yet complete. There must be a calculation of all the expenses associated with greater Public Service employment, such as recreation leave, sick leave, long service leave, holiday pay or whatever it may be. The ongoing burden placed on the Australian public as a result of what this Labor Government has done is enormous. It is reflected in this Bill which seeks additional funds.
I believe that there is in the community at the present time a shifting of opinion about the flush of new ideas that the Labor Party brought in during its first 6 months of office. I found encouragement within many sectors of the community. The anti-socialist Government had been in power for 20-odd years. Whilst this country possibly had attained the highest material and living standards in the world, perhaps the Australian community considered that a Labor Government could take actions which would improve our society. There was a clamour within the public for extra funds to be allocated in a number of areas, particularly social services. However I believe that the early policies of this Labor Government have created devastation. Its policies have been directed entirely at the socialisation of Australia, the socialisation of business, the centralisation of State governments and municipal governments as well as of the business community. Its policies have withdrawn the very important props built up under the mining industry for the encouragement of exploration and exploitation of resources. There has been devastation in the primary field, whether it be in the mining industry or in primary industry, and incidentally, that devastation is not yet understood by the public.
This Government has withdrawn support from primary industry in an attempt to find funds for programs of a socialist nature which it wishes to carry out. It has withdrawn taxation benefits that had been built into primary industry to enable those engaged in it to have reserves to carry them over periods of drought, fire and flood, and reverses in seasonal conditions which nearly all of them have to face. We have seen a reduction of that encouragement. The subsidies that had been rightly paid now have been withdrawn from nearly every sector of the community. This sort of thing is happening not only in the producing sector on which I lay emphasis so far as the promises of the Labor Party are concerned. It promised that it would reduce interest rates for the less fortunate members of the community.
– They could not afford loans under your Government; they were all unemployed.
-A Government supporter is trying to detract me from what I am saying. He knows that the Labor Party has taken a definite attitude in order to try to force higher costs on to newly weds, the young people of the community. It is forcing them to pay hard cash out of their pockets for their borrowings, even for that required for their first home. The Labor Party has in fact reneged on its promise in that regard. That is only one of the very many items in the list of Labor Party promises prior to its gaining office on which it has reneged and which it is now happy to bypass in the interests of its headlong socialisation of the Australian community.
This Bill which we are asked to pass is an important matter. The Senate will not refuse reasonable passage of this Bill. It is required because the Labor Party in the House of Representatives did not pass Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ) in sufficient time. It was not the Opposition in the House of Representatives that delayed passage of that Bill; control of the House of Representatives is in the hands of the Government. The Opposition is not able to delay passage in that House of a Bill which the Government claims is of enormous importance. The stomach which one may have thought that the Labor Party had has vanished. It has been frightened to bring into the Senate prior to this date the main Appropriation Bills dealing with the ordinary works and services and capital expenditure of the Government. Those 2 Bills were brought into the House of Representatives on 17 August with the Budget Papers. Why is it that the Labor Government has not seen to it that they have been passed in the House of Representatives? It has forced other Bills through and has demanded that there be as little as a quarter of an hour for debate on a Bill. But they are still languishing in that House. They have not been introduced into the Senate, but we are now presented with the situation that we will not see Appropriation Bills No. 1 and No. 2 but we do see Supply Bill (No. 3) which requires approval for the expenditure of $36m for some services so that this Government can carry on until 30 November 1973. 1 criticise greatly the activities of this Government. I am somewhat heartened in the belief that the story is gradually getting out into the Australian community.
– I will take but a few moments, and I generally keep to my word. I would not have spoken on this Supply Bill (No. 3) but for an item which appeared on page 5 of this morning’s Melbourne Sun’. It is headlined in large black print:
Senate Holds Up Vital $ Bill.
We have all been here long enough to know that all of a sudden journalists do not come up with these bright ideas. It is quite obviously an article inspired from the Government side.
– That is not quite fair to the journalist involved, and I would not know who he is.
- Senator, we have been here long enough to know that stories are inspired around this place, and this has all the hallmarks of an inspired story. All I say is that if the Government wants co-operation from the Opposition, which it gets, in relation to its legislationof course it ought to get this legislation through as early as possible- then we are prepared to be co-operative. But if the Government wants co-operation it should not play this funny sort of politics. What happened yesterday with the Opposition taking the adjournment on a Bill was not an unusual procedure. There is nothing unusual about that. I know that this year we have adopted the practice with quite a large number of Bills that when the second reading speech of the Bill has been put down we have allowed it to go straight through to the third reading stage. This has happened in relation to Bills to which we are not opposed. In relation to this Bill Senator Cotton quite rightly thought that he would like to have a look at what was in it. After all, as I understand it, this Bill went through the other place in 10 minutes. If the Senate is to retain its place in the bicameral system as a House of review, a House where legislation will be properly scrutinised and where reasonable criticism can be made then it is not unreasonable that debate on a Bill, which goes in and out of the other place in 10 minutes, should be adjourned overnight by the Opposition when it comes here. I say in those quite gentle terms that we are prepared to co-operate. But, if in fact, someone did inspire this, then I say to the Government: ‘For goodness sake, do not do it again because it does not make for the happiest working in this place’.
-By this Supply Bill (No. 3) the Government seeks to increase Government expenditure by some $36m. The public should understand that it does so at a time when, by a variety of measures including many savage measures, it seeks to cut back, and is in fact succeeding in cutting back, the private sector of the community and the expenditure of every family throughout Australia. Here we have the very malaise of a socialist government. This is a government which believes that at a time of record inflation it is good for the Government to increase its spending but bad for the ordinary family in Australia to do so. The socialist father knows best. It can, by cracking us on the knuckles with a ruler, tell us that we must cut down. But it, of course, can expand. The public should understand this because at the moment inflation is running at something like 14 per cent. In the December quarter it is due to increase even further. This is robbing the Australian people of their savings and of their spending power. The Government, by deliberate action, has created this inflation. Inflation was at some 4.8 per cent and falling when the Government took over. In the decades beforehand it had been running at a world record low, averaging 2.5 per cent. This was something unprecedented. Now it is running at 14 per cent and rising. This situation was created by the Government by its own deliberate device. The Government, in seeking action which it says will control inflation, is seeking to cut back spending by ordinary families. Today every family which seeks to buy a home and finds that it cannot do so because loans for building have fallen some 20 per cent or more, because the money is not there, or because the costs are too high, must understand that this situation has been deliberately contrived by the Government. It has sought to reduce the ability of ordinary individuals to buy goods and homes.
In a time of inflation when there is more money than goods, a socialist seeks to reduce the money to meet the supply of goods. Of course, a non-socialist would take the common sense attitude and increase the supply of goods to meet the supply of money. That is what the Opposition in the Senate and elsewhere would put forward. The fact of the matter is that against this request by the Government for some $36m extra to spend in the Government sector is the recent series of taxes and charges imposed on petrol, smokes, liquor, postal rates and a variety of things to get more money. The public must pay. One must realise also that the most disastrous step taken by the Government has been that it has contrived that the general overdraft interest rate should go up 1.75 percent, in the knowledge that with it the ordinary commercial interest rates, the hire purchase interest rates, and the homes loans interest rates would all go up by 2 per cent, 3 per cent or 4 per cent. So today commercial borrowing is running at something like 14 per cent or 15 per cent. The public should understand that every time it seeks to buy something and cannot do so, because of a shortage of money or because of the higher price, this is by deliberate action of the Government in using the interest rate savagely to restrain the flow of money, or to restrain the flow of goods. Today Senator Cavanagh said that it is not interest rates that are holding up housing, it is the shortage of resources. Let me examine that. While interest rates are holding up housing by cutting back the flow of money, the flow of resources is holding up housing as it is holding up the supply of automobiles, refrigerators and every other commodity in the community.
The fact is that by deliberate act of this Government shortage of manpower and shortage of goods was created. By deliberate act of this Government the migration program was cut back by some 30,000 or 40,000 people in the first year of Government. By deliberate act this Government sought to create a shortage of employment. The steel industry said: ‘Please get us more migrants. We need to produce more steel to provide the cars, the refrigerators and the houses’. But the Government deliberately, by its action, has created a labour shortage which has done so much to inflame the industrial scene and to create shortages. What has happened is that a government of a socialist kind has decided that it knows best what to spend. To this Budget which we are being asked to enhance now by this measure, the Government over the next year or two will add some $300m of public money to build a pipeline which could and should have been built by a private authority which had the knowledge, the enterprise and the money to build it. So the taxpayers of Australia are being sold short- they are being robbed- because a socialist government wants to build a socialist toy. It has got itself into an extreme position on it. It cannot build it itself and it is now asking the very company which it refused permission to build it to go ahead as its agent and do the building. For that exercise the taxpayer will pay some $300m or more in the next few years. At a time of intensive labour shortage and inflation the taxpayers are being asked to transfer from the private sector to the public sector some 10,000 persons. It is useless of the Government to recite figures on the growth of the Public Service in the past. The key factor when you are dealing with a situation in which there is contrived shortage of labour and goods is that you inflame inflation by transferring people from the private sector to the public sector- and that is precisely what is happening today. We are being asked to finance ten or more new departments and some 10,000 or more new public servants.
I rise on this simply to spell that out because we are moving into a situation in which the Government by its own actions has created inflation. It has refused to ease inflation by lowering interests rates, which should now be done; it has refused to bring in a plan to help home buyers, to ease their interest burdens- although in fact it promised in its policy speech to do so; it has declined to reduce the public sector and increase the private sector when we could have had an easing. It has all the powers that are necessary to control and subdue inflation, all the powers which all governments of the past 72 years had and with which they were able to control inflation, and which over 2 decades enabled them to record low inflation rates averaging 2.5 per cent in Australia. This was achieved without extra powers.
This Government is now contriving a new socialist trick- and the public should understand it. The Government is saying: ‘We will ask the people by referendum on 8 December to give us powers over prices and incomes- although, in fact, because the trade unions and the left wing will not let us, we will not use the incomes power’. It is pretending that it is seeking the power over prices in the referendum for control of prices. The fact is that this is one further step by the Government to achieve centralised powers, not just over a harmless word or a seemingly harmless word called ‘prices’, but over virtually the complete private sector of the economy. What the people of Australia should understand is this: That in the pretence of gaining a power to control inflation the socialist government will be gaining the power over the lives of all the people of Australia. Prices undoubtedly include not only prices but rents, fees- whether for lawyers, doctors, dentists or others- the cost of any service and wages; and, I should add, they include, no doubt, the charges the State governments and local government authorities make. They include rates and the price of any commodity or service. This being so, what the Federal Government is doing is seeking to make a massive takeover by way of socialist power over the whole private sector.
That is what we are facing at this moment. We are facing a situation, I repeat, of a government demonstrating doctrinaire socialism. It says to the people of Australia: ‘We know best. We are going to increase violently the amount of government money’- although there is no necessity to do so. It could save on the pipeline and on a variety of other things. But is says: ‘We are going to do this, and because one offshoot of that is that it will cause inflation, we are going to cut back on the spending power of you, the people of Australia, and we are going to decide what goods you should have and what you shall not have. We are going to contrive a labour shortage by cutting back immigration’- and in fact it has done that- ‘and then with inflation running at Christmas time and diminishing people’s spending, we are going to plead emotionally to the people for power over prices and we hope, emotionally, that we will get it. And when we get it, we, the socialist government of Australia, will then have power over the whole private sectorand that gives us total control ‘
I say- and I speak with reasonable brevity on this-that this is symptomatic of the whole journey by the Labor Government towards its doctrinaire socialist policy. In itself the expenditure of an additional $36m is relatively small in such a massive budget. It is, however, symptomatic. It shows the thinking, the paternalism and the autocratic nature of the Government. It shows the type of government which, if it is allowed to continue in this, will lead this country into economic chaos.
– in reply- It is very clear why this Bill was brought in. Senator Cotton, I thought, made the appropriate point that some of the details that have been raised in the debate are really matters for the Estimates Committees. The other speakers roamed very far away from the Bill itself, which they were quite entitled to do, and made rather political speeches. I do not think it is incumbent upon me to answer them. Senator Cotton- or it may have been Senator Withers- said there should be no complaint about taking the adjournment debate yesterday. There is none from me as Minister in charge of the Bill. The only other thing I would say is that I regret that Senator Withers referred to an item in the Press, which I have not seen, which implied by a headline that this Bill was being delayed by the Senate. I have not seen the ankle and I do not know which journalist wrote it. Journalists are here to report on the happenings of Parliament. As I understand the Press, they do not even write the headlines: A sub-editor does.
The honourable senator made a very clear implication that this article was leaked or inspired in the Government side. I am in charge of the Bill, and I certainly did not inspire it. I never have inspired articles. I think the Press can get plenty of stories without assistance from parliamentarians. I just reject any suggestion that this was inspired by myself or anybody else on the Government side. It was an article the type of which we see every day in the Press. I certainly from this side of the House reject the implication and I regret that the journalist, whoever he was, has had this attributed to him.
Otherwise, I thank the Opposition for allowing this Bill to go through for the normal requirements of government, so that the normal services of government can be carried on until the Appropriation Bills come in. I understand that they were held up in the other House because there were urgent Bills coming throughthat was the explanation given to me when I made this very inquiry- and had to take their place in the queue in the other place. I thank the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
-I refer to division 430, subdivision 3, item 06, under the heading ‘Administrative’, ‘Other services’ in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. It is captioned ‘acquisition of works for, and conservation of, the National Collection’, and the amount is $ 1.959m. We have seen an extraordinary increase in the appropriation asked for the Australian Council for the Arts, including acquisitions for the National Collection. I think the appropriation was increased from some $4m to nearly $14m. During the dealing by the Parliament with the appropriations a transaction of extraordinary significance and uniqueness has been disclosed in that we are told the National Collection has purchased an object of art- that is the best way I can describe it- called ‘Blue Poles’ for $ A 1.3 7m or US$2m. We are told also that members of the public, whom we are supposed to represent here, are being asked to pay $100,000 commission for the skilful and subtle brokers who arranged that purchase.
Two aspects of the matter seem to me to indicate a certain contempt for this Parliament in the submission of this item to us for passage. The first is that we in an Estimates Committee have been engaged in examining this matter over a number of weeks and in the course of that examination we have elicited the fact that the person who is selling that object of art to the National Collection purchased it in 1954 for US$36,000. The seller multiplied his purchase money by 60 times and arrived before a duped government of 1973 that is willing to purchase the object of art for $2m. That is the first unique feature.
The second unique feature is that in the course of that examination by the Estimates Committee the Minister who was in charge of the estimates concerned was twice asked to table all the correspondence, all the valuations and all the minutes constituting the transaction by the National Collection. Before doing so the Minister has the effrontery to ask the Parliament to pass a Supply Bill of an emergency supplementary nature including this item. The next unique feature is that in the last week from at least 2 sources of the Senate, according to my recollection, questions of quite a responsible character have been asked as to whether or not the National Collection Committee includes a person associated with Max Hutchinson Galleries, who were the brokers for the purchase, either by way of partnership or on commission or in some other way.
I suggest to the Minister that every dictate of prudent politics should prompt him to rise and say that this item at least will be omitted from this Bill without prejudice to his referring it in the major Bill that we will be considering in the Committee of the Whole. Unless I can get satisfaction upon those matters I propose to move that the House of Representatives be requested to omit this item from the Bill.
-I wish to speak on the same subject as Senator Wright. I think it is a bit late now to do much about the purchase but I think the Government should take some notice of what has been said by the Director of the National Gallery. It is very difficult for anyone to talk about whether this painting is worth having. It is a matter of one’s point of view, and my personal view is that the painting is not worth having. I am not an artist but if the Director thinks the painting is worth having I must defer to his judgment. Having said that in regard to art, let me come down to the matter of finance which I am interested in. Is any painting worth $ 1 .3m?
– There was a Renoir in Washington during the depression years.
– I only asked the question. There may be paintings worth that amount but this one certainly was never worth it. This painting was once offered for sale at one stage for one-third of a million dollars and suddenly without any rhyme or reason the price jumped to $1.3m. Let us accept that it is a famous painting and one which any national gallery would want to have. But surely some control must be placed on expenditure. I say to the Minister: ‘Is it not time that you had a finance committee- you may have a selection committee to pick out these paintings- to inquire into costs before such a painting is bought?’ I know that Mr Mollison said he referred the matter to the Prime Minister but I doubt that the Prime Minister has any more knowledge of art than I have. When the Prime Minister was informed by the Director that the painting was worth having he probably agreed. Should not a committee be formed to which purchases of this type can be referred?
I should like to be driving around in a Rolls Royce, but I have to look at my budget and all I can get is a Valiant motor car. The same applies to paintings. There are a lot of paintings I should like to own, including a Dobell, but I cannot afford to have them. The Government has unlimited money at its disposal to splash around, but I think it is completely wrong to spend a sum like this. I think the Government should do something in future about the purchase of paintings, works of art, sculptures or anything like that. The Victorian Art Gallery recently bought a sculpture that I think has been ridiculed by nearly everyone. I have a few friends in the United States and every one of them has written to me, not criticising the art, but about the absurdity of the price. We have become the laughing stock of Soho. When I refer to Soho in the United States I am referring to where Hutchinson has his gallery. All the big galleries are now drifting to Soho from Maddison Avenue. I repeat that we have become the laughing stock in Soho because we paid this sum of money. There is not one person in the United States who does not agree with that fact.
When the Opposition was in government it thought everything it did was right. The same applies to this Government; it thinks whatever it does must be right. It is much better to admit one’s faults. I think the public appreciates it more. Whilst this may be a wonderful painting let us have an assurance from the Minister that there will be some financial check on Mr Mollison ‘s designs for the purchase of goodies for his Gallery.
-I take up, firstly, the item which has been discussed by Senator Wright more particularly and to which reference has been made by Senator Turnbull. Evidently in this matter the appropriate Estimates Committee has asked for certain information in regard to the purchase of this work of art and the Estimates Committee so far is not satisfied that adequate information has been supplied. The Estimates Committees were established for the very purpose of penetrating in depth the parliamentary apropriations. In that sense an Estimates Committee is not merely a hand or a limb of the Senate; it is the Senate itself virtually, sitting in another way. Therefore the Senate has asked for this information to be supplied in respect of a very major sum. I think we must rely upon the judgment of the Estimates Committee that that information is material to what it considers to be the exercise of a fair judgment on the amount of the appropriation.
As this matter is now raised in this way in the Senate due to the presence of this Bill, I think it is appropriate that the Senate should stand behind the Estimates Committee and should ask that that information be supplied. The approval of the appropriation on this item should be deferred until the Senate itself is satisfied that the procedures followed were adequate, in view of the amount of money involved and the purpose to which it was to be devoted. I think until that position is resolved to the satisfaction of the Senate, the Senate should not be a party to the passage of this item in the Supply Bill. It is important, of course, that the Supply Bill go through. Nevertheless, the Senate also must insist upon observing its duties and responsibilities to investigate these matters in depth. If the Senate makes a request that the item in this Bill be deferred until the information is supplied, that is a matter which then would be considered by the House of Representatives and by the Government. I think the Senate is entitled to the information. There will be adequate opportunity for the information to be collated, if it is not already being collated, and to be supplied. Then the Senate will be able finally to pass its judgement on the adequacy of the arrangements that were made, their defensibility, the amount of the appropriation and whether the expenditure in these circumstances was justified.
That is the very purpose of the new procedures which have been adopted in the Senate, namely, to question an item such as this. If the request of the Committee which has not been formulated is disregarded, this is a challenge to the very nature, purpose and existence of the Estimates Committees. If we were to stand by and see such a request lightly disregarded then I think the Committees might as well go out of existence. Since their inception the Estimates Committees have been in a major degree not irritating but penetrating in their examinations. They have never attempted to harass. They have tried to discharge their duties objectively and quietly and, I think, efficiently. This is an occasion when they have followed the same line and have found, apparently, a wall, if not of resistance at least of non-co-operation. In those circumstances we feel that the suggestion made by Senator Wright is one that might well be accepted by the Government. Perhaps it would defer the consideration of this Bill with a view to awaiting the supply of the information rather than, our, by request, seeking the deferment of this item and the parliamentary procedures that follow. I commend that attitude to the Government.
I address myself to another matter namely, the extraordinary burden of work that is being imposed on the Senate due to the legislative program of the Government. Perhaps in the history of Australia we have never seen such a plethora of legislation and proposed legislation as has been presented to the Senate and is in contemplation in the future. I see on the Senate notice paper that there are 37 Bills at present. At the moment I do not have a copy of the House of Representatives notice paper before me, but there are numerous Bills on it. Of course, they do not represent the end of the Government’s legislative program for this session. The numerical weight of the Bills in itself would be disconcerting, but when we look at the nature of the legislation, when we see the fundamental character of the matters which are contemplated in the legislation and the vast and almost unimaginable consequences that can flow from it, we realise the tremendous responsibility that is now reposed in this place. I mention only a few of the Bills to indicate the deep concern that must be felt by this chamber and by all honourable senators at the position which now faces them.
I take a number of Bills just at large out of the business sheets of the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are Bills such as the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill, which is a Bill of very great consequence because it purports to determine a very vexed constitutional position. It has as wide an implication as to the sovereignty of the States, and the geographical area of that sovereignty, as it does of the Commonwealth. As a House whose function and the purpose of whose genesis was to protect the States, this Senate has a particular responsibility in relation to this Bill. It is only one of a series of Bills which have similar far reaching consequences. The Senate must be given adequate time to discuss that Bill.
We have also the Trade Practices Bill which, in its commercial implications, is very wide and far reaching. It is a Bill which again must demand, if we have any sense of responsibility, the attention of the Senate with time for recollection and study. The Bill has already been put aside and is to come up for debate on the first sitting day next year. I understand that the Government has reintroduced the Bill and it will come again to this chamber and again the Senate will be faced with trying to analyse its contents and assessing its implications in a very short space of time. We have the projected National Health Bill which again will radically change the whole structure of the national health scheme operating in Australia at the present time. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was an enormous Bill, and again it has wide repercussions in the whole field of trade unionism and in the relations between the trade unions, industry and commerce. We have the Schools Commission Bill which contemplates the establishment of a Schools Commission and which fundamentally alters the structure of the whole education system in Australia.
Finally we have Bills of the character, the weight and the importance of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill, which go to the very heart and core of the whole commercial and economic structure of Australia and in which there are not only vast and wide philosophical differences but also very vast differences in the interpretation, both economic and financial, which honourable senators in all parties may place upon those Bills. I have taken only four or five illustrations to demonstrate not only the sheer numbers of the Bills but also the mass, importance and wide implications of them. It is not proper in these circumstances that a government, however enthusiastic and whatever its program may be, should attempt to persuade this legislation through the Parliament in this manner.
Speaking now for my own Party, we have at this time a determinant vote in this chamber because of the numerical disposition of honourable senators on the Government and nonGovernment side. The Australian Democratic Labor Party sits as a cross-bench party. Because we have that position we carry all the responsibilities that go with it. We do not have a substantial staff structure, and for us to attempt to pass definitive and final judgment on legislation of this character without a proper and adequate study on our part and, more importantly, without the presentation to us of those arguments and considerations that would come and should come from outside this place from those who more properly, more adequately and more relevantly than we can interpret what are the overtones, the shades and the implications of the legislation, would be totally irresponsible.
I know that any action by this chamber which in any way results in the impeding of a Bill, whether it is by the rejection of a Bill, the adjournment of a Bill, the deferment of a Bill, or the reference of a Bill to one of the committees which we in this place have particularly established to look at legislation- particularly legislation of a major character- is interpreted, as it were, as harassment by the Senate and merely putting a road block across the progress of the legislative and political program of the Government. That is not the position. So far as we are concerned, we attempt and have always attemptedI think our record will show this- to analyse legislation on its merits. Sometimes we have sought to amend it. We have supported amendments. We have rejected legislation in the hands of the previous Government. We have rejected legislation in the hands of this Government. We have amended or attempted to amend legislation in the hands of either Party in government. For that matter, we have supported amendments as they have come from one side or the other of the House.
That has been our program. That has been our policy. It has been our attitude and performance in this place. We do not intend to depart from it. I can say on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party that we do not propose to allow ourselves as a party to be dragooned into taking this tremendous responsibility and making these tremendous, far reaching and sometimes historic decisions unless we have adequate opportunity, a proper opportunity, to seek such advice of a technical nature as we have to get from outside from those who can advise us on the legislation on which we are asked to pass a final judgment. Therefore I say to the Government on behalf of the Party that it is asking too much of this chamber, too much of this Parliament, and certainly too much of the five of us who sit here.
We would be recreant to our responsibilities if for any personal purpose or from sheer exhaustion we were prepared to stand by and allow this mass of legislation to go through without challenge where challenge should be mounted, without examinations where examination is necessary and without assessment where assessment is called for. I mention those things to the Government because if the Government is to continue with this mass production of legislation, whatever its excitement or enthusiasm may be, it cannot possibly be equated by the administrative and physical resources of this chamber or of honourable senators. Therefore, Australia will be presented with legislation which fundamentally changes the whole structure of many areas of our society. Those whose reponsibility it is to see that if such things are to take place they take place not merely with the concurrence of the Parliament but also with the full awareness of Parliament, and every member in it, of what is being done. That can happen only if proper time is given to study the legislation and to make a proper assessment of it.
I have here the statistical summary of the Bills which were presented in the Senate for the period of sitting from 27 February 1973 to 8 June 1 973. Some 1 10 bills were either introduced in this chamber or received from the House of Representatives and considered here. The great bulk of them was passed, some were deferred and some were amended not to the satisfaction of the other place. All the activitities of this chamber in the past few years has been one of intense examination of the propositions that have been put before it. That was the case when the chamber was in the hands of the previous Government. Once the committee system was introduced in this place, we got a program of examination which the Senate had not witnessed before. Nobody was more enthusiastic about it than were the present members of the Government when they were in Opposition. Nobody saw the need for this type of thing more than did the members of the Australian Labor Party when they were the official Opposition. The legislative program then was not as heavy. As a matter of fact, Senator Murphy was one of those who, with others, proposed the committee system and who gave it his personal and Party support. As a result of this, the committee system was introduced.
Therefore, the attitude of the Senate over the last few years when the Australian Labor Party was in Opposition, the Liberal and Country parties were in Government and members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party were sitting where they are now, has been to undertake intense examination of the legislative and administrative processes of government. For our part, we are not going to depart from that now. We do not care how the Government attempts to crowd upon us or upon the community this great mass of legislation. We cannot possibly, with any sense of responsibility, stand by and allow this to happen without some action on our part. Therefore, we merely alert the Government to this: Its legislation will have to come through with some restraint and with proper time for consideration. If it is necessary for us at any time to take action either to impede the Bill, to refer a Bill or to adjourn consideration of a Bill we do not accept that that is some sort of subtle attempt to frustrate the intentions of the Government. It is an open and clear prerogative of this chamber to examine those things and it is a clear responsibility of every senator to ensure that these examinations take place. Therefore, I commend to the Government the thoughts that I have expressed. I hope that some restraint will be exercised by the Government and some opinion will be brought to bear within its numbers that particularly the more fundamental Bills, those which change so many of the fundamental structures of our society, shall be given adequate time for debate and deliberation in this chamber. I hope that the Government will take notice of the considerations that I have put forward.
– I find myself in the position of agreeing with the 3 honourable senators who have spoken on this matter. In relation to what Senator Byrne has said, I call to mind the words of a very famous Tasmanian in another sphere -
– Who was it, you?
– No, it was not me, but I was there and heard what he said. He said this: The rabid Party man likes to govern unfettered. He hates restraint and for that reason he hates upper Houses. He hates to have his legislation delayed’. I agree absolutely with what Senator Byrne has said. I say without any hesitation that probably never before has there been a time in the history of the Commonwealth when this chamber should refuse to be hurried, especially at a time when legislation is being guillotined through another place at an enormous rate. I am well aware of the fact that if this chamber dares to attempt to take its time and delay a measure until it can be put into proper perspective and until people can express an opinion on it, this action is branded at once as frustration. I think that this chamber should take no notice of the aspersions that are cast upon it. One of our newspapers in Tasmania had something to say about the position. It was speaking about this same mandate which the Government seems to think gives it a right to shove through legislation at whatever rate it thinks fit. The newspaper stated that anyone would think that this Government had discovered the Holy Grail, the right to put legislation through without any review.
I rose to speak about the grotesque and alarming position pointed out by Senator Wright. In 1954 some US$36,000 was paid for a supposed work of art. Some people say that the perpetrators of it were drunk when they did it, but that does not alter the principle of it. In 19S4 some US$36,000 was paid for the painting. It was bought recently by the Australian Government for US$2 m. Surely there is no one in this place who would attempt to justify such a proposition. Even if we allow for the inflation that has taken place since 1954, surely someone must have made a mighty profit. Some people would be impolite enough to call it a rake-off at the expense of the Australian taxpayer. I agree with Senator Turnbull. It seems to me to be entirely wrong. If 2 men, whether one of them is the Prime Minister or whoever he may be- we are told that it was 2 men who did this business- can irresponsibly commit the Australian taxpayer to such unwarranted expenditure, there should be some way by which restraint can be put upon them. There should be some responsible authority to supervise such expenditure as this. We have seen statements by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) splashed across the front page of a Tasmanian newspaper. The headline states:
Loose thinking ‘out ‘-Barnard.
The article goes on:
Australia could not afford loose thinking-
This is what Mr Barnard said:
– What was the bill for champagne on the China trip? We would like to know that.
– I do not know about that. But Mr Barnard goes on to say some other very weird things which the Chairman would rule me out of order if I repeated. He said some things that simply do not tie up with the Government’s program, especially its program on defence. It is inconceivable that at this time of inflation, at this time when, without any question our defences are going down the drain, a pair of irresponsibles you have to call them that- can purchase an alleged work of art for US$2 m that originally cost US$36,000.
– After all, senator, it might frighten any of our enemies away if they looked at it.
– I have been told that that is so.
– It would have just as much effect on the enemy as the things on which $65m was paid.
- Senator McLaren would justify anything the Government did, but, he would not justify it in his own private business.
Because this Government does something he prattles away, interjects and attempts to justify it. No man in his right mind can justify this sort of expenditure. This item should be held up as an example to point out to the Government the complete and absolute absurdity of plunging the Australian taxpayer into this expenditure. The expenditure on this painting is very much worse than sending a bull to China and paying for the plane to take it there. With such expenditure it is no wonder that inflation is running at a rate of 1 4 per cent. I heard on the television the other night one of the new members of the House of Representatives- I forget his name- say that the Government inherited a condition of inflation when it assumed office. But, do not forget that when Labor attained office it stoked the fires with a vengeance and the rate of inflation increased from 4 per cent to more than 14 per cent. Among other things, the Government intends to spend $ 100m on a pipeline which private enterprise easily could and should have built. If we add all of these expenditures together we can see why inflation has jumpted to a rate of 14 per cent. I support entirely everything that has been said by Senator Wright. This place would be in a trance if it allowed such an expenditure as this to be passed without some protest.
– I have listened to this debate with a great deal of interest. I propose to speak on the point Senator Wright brought forth about that piece of shickery art. But firstly I wish to comment on the contribution made by Senator Byrne. We should derive a lot of satisfaction from what Senator Byrne said because I think that his contribution today from a purely parliamentary point of view was first rate. It indicated clearly the rights and responsibilities of this Senate. One of the things that people forget, particularly the juvenile Press that we have about the country today, is that this Senate derives its constitution from the people of this country and it derives its election from the votes of the people of this country- the same people who elect members to the other chamber. The Senate was specially designed not only to look after the interests of the States but also to review legislation. It has always been the contention that the Senate should give a more deliberate consideration to the legislation of this country. If the Senate is doing that, as I believe it is, it is fulfilling its proper role. But in certain respects the idiotic Press and other sections of the media which continually castigate the Senate because of some alteration of legislation, some delay for further consideration or for some rejection of legislation, forget that it is the right and the responsibility of the Senate to do so if it so desires.
Those of us who have a true sense of public duty believe that no one should do these things capriciously; that members of the Senate should act because they believe sincerely in what they are doing. If the Senate chamber takes action, instead of being criticised it should be complimented for doing its job properly. There is no question that a great amount of legislation is being poured through the other place almost as though through a sausage machine. Legislation is being forced through that chamber but there is no reason why the Senate should not take a reasonable time to examine it. The quantity of legislation coming from the other place is such that it defies proper examination. Why, even the staff who bring us Bills and other documents these days say: ‘Here is another bundle. I do not know how you can read it all.’ A man would need a reading machine to get through a fraction of what is coming into his office these days.
- Mr McMahon’s autocue might be a help.
– I do not know whether that would be so. If we had something automatic that could assimilate this information we may be able to overcome this problem. But for human beings the position is impossible. Therefore, as a senator, I thank Senator Byrne for raising this matter and making such a fine contribution with respect to the Senate and its work.
Senator Wright referred to an item in the Supply Bill (No. 3) 1973 relating to an appropriation of $1,959,500 for the acquisition of art. I have already entered into the controversy about this piece of shickery art known as ‘Blue Poles’. I have always called it shickery art because I think that people who paint in this manner must be a bit under the weather. It has been made clear from contributions that we have had in this place- the man who makes this assertion insists that he is right- that Pollock, with the support of a cobber, walked about in a drunken stupor, stamped on paint on a canvas and ultimately produced the painting ‘Blue Poles’. It was even stated that Pollock had a knife, indicating that he may have been going to commit suicide. This recalls to my mind what I have often thought about people who indulge in this so-called art- they must be a little bit off balance if not shickered to create such work. Despite all we have heard about it, we find that this painting has been purchased by Australia for such a remarkably high price.
It was rather interesting to hear Senator Turnbull ‘s contribution in this regard. He referred to comments by various people in the United States of America. There is no question that we have been made to look a bunch of suckers in falling for this purchase. I know that all manner of statements have been made, including the comment that the man who sold it would like to buy it back. But, of course, anybody who knows anything about selling knows that glamour stories are circulated to make it appear that purchases are sensible. It is suggested that Australia was sensible when it bought this painting for $US2m. To my way of thinking expenditure of this amount of money on the painting ‘Blue Poles’ is absolutely disgraceful. We are an Australian people and there is no reason why we cannot have an international outlook on such things as art, but I believe that primarily the national Parliament should encourage the development of Australian artists. The amount spent on this one item would have gone a long way to assisting the purchase of a great number of Australian pieces of art and encouraging Australian artists. This would have meant much more to this country than this piece of art. I know that a lot of passion is involved in these matters. Some people love to say: ‘Oh, isn’t it wonderful’, and so on.
– Something has only to be different to be a work of art.
– That is right- it has to be something different. Yet if one asked the majority of these people what some of these works of art meant, they would not know. Just to show honourable senators what happens, if I remember rightly it was in this city of Canberra, or somewhere not very far away, that a young child was fooling around with paints on a canvas. He was just mucking around. What happened? As a joke one of the parents put it into a competition. It won the prize. I cannot remember what the judges said about it, but quite possibly they said: ‘This person has great ability’. But it was put in as a joke and it won.
– The child might have had ability.
– It is a rather strange ability when someone is fooling around with something, does not know what he is doing, and has it called a work of art. Recently one of these great contemporary works of art was put into an exhibition. The people who hung it apparently were great art critics and said it was something good. When the artist came along he found that it was hung upside down. It goes to show that there is a lot of nonsense about a lot of this so called contemporary art. For us as a nation to fall for this sort of stuff is a great shame from the national point of view. It is a great shame that we have spent this amount of money in bringing ‘Blue Poles’ to this country. We could have done a great deal in the encouragement of our own Australian artists if we had concentrated on building up a first class selection of Australian works of art so that we, at least, in our national Parliament could make our people feel that there is an art consciousness among our artists. Therefore I support Senator Wright’s contention that this item should be postponed.
– I want to take the opportunity presented by the Supply Bill to refer to some other matters of public moment. I refer firstly to the recent visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to China. Since his return, with the assistance of the media, that visit has been surrounded with such an atmosphere of euphoria that anyone who criticises it, despite giving date, time, place, chapter and verse of criticism, is regarded merely as a knocker.
– Have you seen the amount of the bill for champagne on that trip?
– No, I have not.
– It would open your eyes.
– I am sure it would have been astronomical. I have a question on notice as to the cost of charter of the Boeing 707 aircraft, its passengers and the purpose for which they were taken. One of the significant aspects of the visit, it will be recalled, is the fact that the Prime Minister thought it desirable to take with him not mere reporters, not people who sit up in galleries and run around both ends of the House, but actual newspaper executives to ensure that this phoney atmosphere of euphoria was created on their return. Whilst I am no admirer of the Melbourne ‘Age’, at least the editor of that newspaper had the integrity to say that he would not go because it might compromise his independence.
– He might have been looking for facts- Fairfax.
-I thought Senator O’Byrne said that he might have been looking for a job with this Government. I understand they are going plenteously. We are told that thousands of cheering men, women and children lined the streets of Peking, presumably shouting Vive l’Emperor’ or ‘Vive Whitlame’, or whatever way one says it.
– All conscripts.
– Conscripts, as Senator McManus reminds me. Only one correspondent that I know had the honesty to point out that the following day an identical reception was given to the gentleman from the Congo, or perhaps I should say Zaire.
– What was the name of the correspondent?
– My recollection is that it was Mr Oakes of the Melbourne ‘Sun’. That is purely from memory. I may be giving him an accolade to which he is not entitled. I do not know. The Prime Minister has an oleaginously servile approach to Red China. Australia is losing its best friends. We go around insulting them and then say that is strengthening our relationship with them and is intended to make us better friends. We cannot be trusted any more in South East Asia. I am reminded of the excessive subservience which this Government pays to the United Nations. From memory I think there are 138 nations now comprising the Ceneral Assembly of the United Nations. It is dominated by countries with an anti-western approach. Mr Abba Eban, the outspoken Israeli Foreign Minister, said the other day that if an Arab country gets up in the General Assembly of the United Nations and alleges that the world is square he starts off with 40 votes.
Under this Government in 10 or 1 1 months we have lost every shred of independence in our foreign policy. We are no longer a middle power firmly associated in ideology and integrity with the western approach but have become the running dogs of Chairman Mao or, if not Chairman Mao, the running dogs of the so-called third world. I know that people have short memories, but I want to go back to 27 July 1971 to a statement made by the then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam. On 27 July 1971 Mr Whitlam said: ‘Labour will not dump Taiwan’. That statement proves that the present Prime Minister is politically untrustworthy, politically unreliable and a man upon whose word politically no account can be taken.
– Where did he say that?
-On 27 July 1971 and it appeared in the ‘Australian’ as a report of a television interview. That one will take a lot of getting out of.
– Like his education promises.
– There are a lot of other promises but I have only a short time and cannot run through all the ways in which he has reneged. I know that it is not proper these days to indicate hostility to communism. One of the great successes of communist propaganda is that it has made anti-communism slightly disrespectable. If one takes that line one is accused of being a war monger, a red baiter, a smearer or anything that is approbrious. I am reminded of a splendid article in the Sydney ‘Sun ‘ a little while ago pointing out the dangers of detente. But I do not want to be distracted into that line just for the moment. I come back to the present Prime Minister’s promise not to dump Taiwan. Not only has it been dumped, but also it has been banished. Its embassy had to be sold and at one time there was talk that proceeds of the embassy sale could not go to Taiwan because Chairman Mao might not like it. Professor Teng who won a musical scholarship under the previous Government was such a dangerous Taiwanese that he was not allowed to come to Australia. We had trouble with the ping pong and basketball teams and have at the present moment the proscription on public servants against going in a private capacity to Taiwan. They are not allowed to go. They can go to Cuba. They can go there and see Fidel Castro and his boys or to see Pham Van Dong in Hanoi if they want to. Or they can go to East Germany and even to see Leonid Breznhev in the Kremlin. But they cannot go and see anyone in Taiwan. They cannot see Chiang Kai-Shek. That would probably make them dangerously subservisive, in the opinion of this present Government.
We have had a lot of talk, as the Senate knows, about a new anthem. The Prime Minister is so purblind on China- this description of him was given to me by a senior Labor man- that it would not have surprised me if the Prime Minister had brought back from China the No. 3 record on the British pop charts, originally written by the Goons and entitled ‘Ying Tong Yiddeli Po’ as a suitable anthem for this country. When Nixon went to China he at least said that he was going without prejudice to old friends. When our then Leader of the Opposition went, the present Prime Minister, he put all his cards face up in advance and surrendered everything- so much so that Professor Arndt, who is not exactly in the pocket of the Liberal Party but who was economic adviser to the Labor Party, resigned in disgust.
– Go on!
– It is a fact. He was so disgusted with the attitude of the leader of his Party, with his subservience and oleaginousness, that he resigned. There are very serious overtones in these famous wheat and sugar sales. I know that any development of a substantial rural market is valuable and is welcomed, provided it can be relied upon. One of the things to which any Australian would object is the fact that the wheat sales seem to be tied to the continuance of a Labor government in this country. In other words, the Chinese have agreed to a 6-months sale and have promised to extend it for 2.5 years if the Labor Government remains in power. I would not think that that was a particularly good bet. We know, from an authority as high as Dr J. F. Cairns, that the Chinese entered into this agreement only because we had a Labor Administration. If that is not the most disgusting and degrading admission for a Minister of the Crown to make, I would like to know what is.
– Hear, hear!
- Senator Lillico knows that a blind baby could sell wheat at the moment. There is a world shortage of it. The Soviet Union has bought 700 million bushels from the United States. France, which is normally an exporter, is importing. Canada has had a tremendous drought. The European Economic Community is not self-sufficient in wheat. Whilst a wheat sale is welcome, I think it is sobering to realise that the current wheat sales are less, on an estimated per year basis, than the sales arranged by the previous Government from 1966 onwards. Let us have a bit of sobriety and reason when we look at these exciting matters. The sugar sale might be in a better category. I am not sure; I will withhold judgment on it. The world is not so clamant for sugar as it is for wheat. On the one hand, the Government rejoices in having a sugar trade agreement with China. On the other hand, it brings Fidel Castro’s boy out here to see what he can do to undermine our industry.
When the Prime Minister returned from China he said that China symbolises Australia’s highest aspirations. Surely nobody in this country beside comrade Aarons, Ted Hill and a few others, would agree with that statement. Not even honourable senators opposite would agree with it. Does not the Prime Minister realise that China has a one party system? There are no free trade unions in China. Let us look at the 2 gentlemen over whom our distinguished leader was slobbering. Chou En-lai, a man who has murdered 16 men- not killed them in battle- and Chairman Mao who, on his own admission, is responsible for the death of 20 million of his own people are the two to whom I refer. Was Adolf Hitler, whom all of us regard as the embodiment of all evil, a man whose ideas are to be shunned and criticised, evil only because he lost? Chairman Mao and his boys embody the same evils, the same brutality and the same tyranny. Are they to be respected simply because they won?
Last Monday evening I was speaking to a friend of mine who had with him a friend from China. He was a bit disgusted with all the rubbish that was appearing in the Press about what great friends we were now with these 750 million or 800 million people. He said: ‘I have two of the most terrible photographs that any man could have in his possession. I have a photograph of the execution of my mother and one of the execution of my father. My mother was walking down the street of a Chinese town shortly after the great Red successes in China. One of the locals denounced her as a landlord type’. I said: ‘How much land did she own?’ He said: ‘A hectare’. A people’s court was convened in the street where she was walking. The masses came, yelled for blood and condemned her to death, and without a trial her head was lopped off by a swordsman in the public street. Similar, although not exactly the same, circumstances existed in regard to the execution of his father. This is the method, the tyranny and the type of disgrace to humanity by which Chairman Mao and his friends have come to power.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Like all other honourable senators I am prepared to facilitate the passage of this Bill which will enable the Government and its various departments to carry on. However, I deplore the fact that this afternoon the Committee is faced with agreeing to a Bill of this size, of agreeing to it under pressure and at great speed. In the Committee stage we have to agree to the appropriation of $35m, as outlined in the Bill. That is a considerable amount and should be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than it is receiving at present. The Estimates Committees have spent some days going through the Estimates line by line to ensure that the taxpayers’ funds -
– I rise on a point of order.
– Order! There is too much audible conversation and crossfire in the chamber. Senator Jessop, what is your point of order?
- Mr Temporary Chairman, you have anticipated my point of order.
-The Estimates Committees have spent some considerable time going through the Estimates line by line and examining the expenditure. A good many of us have been considerably alarmed at the tremendous increase in Government expenditure this year. In a number of departments I have noted, with some considerable concern, that some items of administrative expenditure have increased by 100 per cent. With all the provision which has been made for the scrutiny of estimates, the Government has placed before the Committee this afternoon a Bill which seeks to appropriate $3 5m. The Committee is asked to deal with it in fairly quick time. The reason given in the very brief second reading speech of the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) is that it is to meet urgent payments because the Appropriation Bill has not been passed. I might be repeating what other people have said but it needs to be emphasised that the fact that the Appropriation Bill has not been passed is not the fault of the Senate or of the Opposition in this place. It is not the fault of the Opposition in the other place because the passage of this kind of measure surely is in the hands of the Government. I regard the fact that it has not been able to get it through as very bad management. Therefore I regard the Bill before us also as an example of very bad management.
I am concerned that the reason given for the introduction of this Bill was that it was to meet a number of salaries and other payments which were coming due at a fairly early date. One recognises that fact in administration, however much one may disagree with it and may deplore the lack of skill and management in bringing it forward. I am concerned also that throughout the Schedule there is a number of items which have no relationship with salaries or administrative expenses. Perhaps at a later stage in this discussion we will get some response about this matter. Because of the program which the Government embarked upon nearly a year ago, in which it is giving effect to the lines laid down in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), I would have thought that provision would have been made for some of these things and also that certain departments would not have found themselves in the situation of being required to meet these particular amounts and demands before the end of the month.
I look firstly at the amounts set out for the Department of Education, a department in which a lot of us have more than a passing interest. An amount of nearly $2m is sought for 3 itemsAboriginal secondary grants, Aboriginal study grants, and assistance for isolated children. The total for those 3 items is $1,834,000. I understand from the Minister’s second reading speech that he claims that the number of applications coming forward has been greater than anticipated. I was surprised to hear that. I would have thought from the earlier emphasis placed on this field that surely the Government, in laying down this policy, would have had some sense of anticipation.
I turn now to the provisions for the Department of Foreign Affairs. I see that there are a number of items relating to the Colombo Plan and international aid. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) would know that I am among those who have a genuine interest in this matter. One would not consider for a minute withholding these payments or even expressing critical views. On the other hand I want to know what the urgency is about an item described as Other Services’. The sum of $7,500 is not a very large amount out of $35m but I want to know what is urgent about providing it for the relief of destitute Australians abroad. I would have thought that that item would have received a sufficiently generous provision to cover it without requiring the urgent provision of this sum.
The sum of $318,000 is sought for the United Nations Environment Fund. Surely that item is provided for year by year. The sum of $5,500 is sought for the reimbursement of sales tax paid by manufacturers on motor vehicles purchased by diplomatic and consular representatives in Australia. I would have thought that these items would have been taken care of as part of the normal housekeeping. I cannot see why they have to be brought forward in a measure of this kind for the urgent attention of the Senate.
I turn now to the division relating to the Colombo Plan, an aid item which deserves the support and co-operative interest of all people, particularly those of us in the Senate. The Colombo Plan and other aid projects are to get $590,000. A number of items is listed and I would have thought that every one of them would have been taken care of in a total program for a year’s operations and expenses.
Items relating to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have received a great deal of attention during the discussion this afternoon. In the Schedule, under the heading ‘Administrative’ there is an item called ‘Acquisition of works for, and conservation of, the National Collection^ 1, 959,500’. The total is nearly $2m. The total for the entire Department is only $2,454,500. Apart from the item relating to the National Collection, the remainder of the money is for salaries and payments in the nature of salary. I have not yet seen the picture to which everybody has referred but I have read a great deal about it and heard a great deal about it. I am not normally devoted to contemporary art and am not attracted to it. I guess that is because I do not have a measure of appreciation and understanding of it. I recognise that as we develop this side of our national life we must give some care and consideration to it and spend money on collections and the encouragement of artists and others who will contribute to our total quality of life. However, as I have read about this particular work and have heard the explanations of the Ministers in this place and the other place, I have not been persuaded that our money has been well spent.
I respond to what has been done by expressing a personal warning: If the Government wishes to engage in the purchase of works of art of this dimension and this considerable sum, it needs to exercise rather more care than it has. It should indicate something about its interest in this subject so that those members of the public who are concerned and involved in this area may have an opportunity of making a judgment and tendering their advice. I have made these observations on the Bill before the Committee this afternoon and in due course I would be grateful if the Minister were to comment on them.
– I want to reply briefly to the debate. Firstly, I am not going to defer this Bill in any way. If the Senate wants to reject it and send it back to another place it will do so knowing full well what the timetable is. It knows full well that this is not the normal appropriation. Honourable senators know full well that every item they have talked about today will be in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) and that they will have the chance to deal with it. They already have dealt with many of these things when they have been brought up in the Estimates committees.
The debate has ranged very wide. There has been criticism of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for going to Peking. There has been criticism of the alleged drinking of some champagne on that trip. What that has to do with the Bill I do not know. I admit immediately that Opposition members have a genuine feeling about the purchase of a painting called ‘Blue Poles’. Senator McManus anticipated this debate because yesterday, without any opposition and by means of a formal motion, he moved that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. I quote from Journals of the Senate ‘ which states:
Reference of Matter Senator McManus, by leave, amended Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 2, standing in his name, and, pursuant to Notice, moved- That there be referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts the following matter- Procedures, organisation and action necessary to ensure that the Council for the Arts, and its Boards, properly and effectively carry out their task of over-all promotion of the Arts in Australia.
I suggest that any criticism levelled at the body which bought the painting called ‘Blue Poles’ should be put before the Committee to see whether, in its view, this has been a bad purchase. I do not know whether it was a bad purchase. I have not seen that painting. I would not be a good judge if I had seen it. I might say in passing that I do not believe that any of the critics have seen ‘Blue Poles’ either. I do not know that they would be any better judges than I in regard to the purchasing of works of art. Senator Wood in particular lodged criticism and said that 2 men were irresponsible. I do not know those 2 men and I do not know whether Senator Wood knows them. He chose to stand in his place and abuse 2 men who do not have the opportunity of reply.
– I did not.
– Yes, you did. You called them 2 irresponsible men. The honourable senator said that they were buying shickered art. He went on to say that a child was shickered too and he painted the picture, and so on. I do not blame the honourable senator if he has some doubts about it. That is fair enough. However I think he should be fair in his criticism. He should not abuse people who cannot reply. Senator McManus took the proper course yesterday. He feels disturbed about something and is using the committee system to examine the matter. ‘Blue Poles’ already has been paid for out of the Advance to the Treasurer. This small amount of $2m out of the total $36m to which Senator Wright has referred is to reimburse the Treasurer’s Advance. As to one of the general subjects which has been brought up today, I suggest that it can be taken care of in the future by Senator McManus’ motion which has been carried by the Senate and which will go to another place. We were told that this Bill would be assisted through this House. We were told, and I understood, that there would be 2 speakers on the Bill who would take a couple of minutes each. Now the Opposition has decided to change its mind, but I make no criticism of that. It is the right of honourable senators to talk if they want to. I merely say that this is quite different from what happened when the then Government was in this situation in 1971. We passed the Bill through the 2 Houses with a total debating time of eight or nine minutes. We did not try to rake over it. We easily could have done that.
Anybody can be a critic. Anybody can go through a mass of figures and start debating them. What the Opposition has done today is to hold up this Bill very much longer than we anticipated and very much longer than we did a similar Bill in 1971. If the Opposition deletes this item and sends the Bill back to the other place, honourable senators know perfectly well that they will jam the Government, the Printer and the bureaucracy which has to handle this matter into a situation where there can be the difficulties which, without any basis, have been rumoured. Honourable senators can embarrass the Public Service in relation to the normal payments incurred for the services, and salaries and the running of the Commonwealth of Australia. If honourable senators do that, it is on their heads. I suggest that if they do, that is an irresponsible action. Honourable senators will have every opportunity to make all the complaints and criticisms which they have made today when the normal Budget proposals come forward, I understand tomorrow and next week. I say to honourable senators that if they choose to reject that Budget, then that is their responsibility and that too will be on their heads.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (5.7)- We are discussing in the Committee of the Whole, Supply Bill (No. 3) which involves an amount of about $36m. I want to speak only in relation to the sum of $ 1 , 959,500 which adverts to the acquisition of works for, and conservation of, the National Gallery. I am glad that the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) has intervened in the debate. lama little sorry that he did not intervene earlier because Senator Wright put a point of view and indicated an intention. Now the Minister, in his response, makes it abundantly clear that the amount of $1,959,500 relates to the purchase of a painting called ‘ Blue Poles ‘ by Jackson Pollock. Insofar as the purchase and the method of purchase are concerned, I find myself in complete support of the views put by Senator Wright initially and by other honourable senators during the Committee stage. I realise, as I think we all realise, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person gets some satisfaction from, perhaps another cannot see any beauty in. But it is incredible that one can pay US$2m for an item which was purchased previously for some US$36,000.
I was at a private function on Saturday evening last with an Australian painter of renown. I shall not embarrass him by mentioning his name. He was almost beside himself in his concern and rage at the purchase of this painting for the sum mentioned. In addition he has expressed- I have asked him to put them in writing because I feel it is something upon which lay persons should not pontificate- some very critical arguments about the durability of the painting. It is his view, and he is no slouch, that it will need to be refurbished very quickly. That being so, the point made by Senator Willesee is that this is a purchase which the Government has made. In our view, it is a very poor purchase and one made very unwisely. But the decision has been taken. This is a Supply Bill and, as far as I am concerned, the Government must get Supply. The Minister has said that he will not defer the Bill, and I make it abundantly clear that in my view we have to give passage to this Supply Bill because that is the method of Parliament. We can use other forms of the House and we can do other things and make other references to this item. But here we have an item of Supply and the Government requires some $36m.
The Government has to get Supply for this $36m. I make it abundantly clear that that is where I see my duty as much as I deplore the item, as much as I think it was a bad decision and as much as I think the Government will live to regret the decision, both in terms of the painting and of the reaction of the community. The fact is that there will be no National Gallery for many years in which to show the painting. This is a pity in a way because I think that more and more people in Australia would be able to make their judgment sooner. I believe that the Government is entitled to Supply. Under the parliamentary procedures here I believe that it is entitled to it today. As far as I am concerned I will vote accordingly to give Supply.
– I have already raised my voice in protest and condemnation at the outlay of public moneys to the extent of US$2m for the purchase of a so-called work of art. The prodigality, the reckless spending of this Labor Government is blatantly illustrated in this decision to purchase the painting Blue Poles’. To me this epitomises the irresponsibility of this Government in its whole attitude towards raising and distributing public revenue. We have a rampant inflationary situation with rising interest rates and with harm being done to many people throughout the nation. There is no sign of getting down to firm and resolute activity to overcome what is, at the present time, a financially disastrous situation for Australia. I rise to say these few things now as I condemn utterly the appropriation for works such as this. I feel that nobody in Australia would be averse to having in the National Gallery in the first instance works of Australian art. We have excellent examples of both modern and earlier art which show what our folk are capable of doing. The National Gallery in the first instance should depict the art of the country. We have great artists in Australia.
I pay tribute right now to what has been done in previous years in getting together a collection of art works at monetary outlays which have been consistent with responsibility and which have given the nation an excellent background for its National Gallery. In my opinion this purchase only indicates the lack of appreciation of the Government of moneys which are extracted from the people and which could be better applied in other directions. The Government has no consideration for the promotion of efficiency in industry. The very source of wealth is seemingly disregarded but the spending of money is OK. I condemn the Government’s attitude in relation to outlays as epitomised in this purchase which is part of the appropriation which we are now considering.
-After considerable delay and a somewhat discursive debate the Special Minister for State and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) made quite clear my interpretation of this item and confirmed the identification of this vote with the purchase of the painting ‘Blue Poles ‘.
– He could have said it immediately.
-He could have said it immediately. But the point I want to make out of the fact that the Minister has now confirmed it is that it is idle eyewash for him to say that we can deal with it when dealing with the general appropriation. This vote is here identified with a purchase that has been so roundly condemned. Next, he says that we know the crunch with regard to supply. I do not know when the Government needs this supply. Has it been mentioned?
– My information, as I said, is that there would be very great difficulty if it had to go back and we had to have an amending Bill.
– If emergencies of that sort are to be relied upon, especially when they are put in the form of a minutary threat to the Opposition, or to some members of the Opposition, they should be quite definitely documented. What is the parliamentary way of dealing with this? Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson was good enough to put his view before the Committee. I want to put mine. We have a Senate Committee to which has been promised- not quite definitely, but promised- the production of all the documents, valuations, correspondence and minutes of the transaction, and we have not yet seen those documents. If a chief clerk of mine concluded a transaction, having been asked for the documents and not having sent them, I would kick him out tonight. That is what I would think of his responsibility to represent a client whom I represented. I told the Committee that it had been responsibly asked in this chamber by 2 senators, one of whom addressed this chamber before me, whether the firm of brokers deriving a not insignificant commission of $100,000 from this purchase has, among those who have a pecuniary interest in the purchase, a member of the collection purchasing committee. That has not been answered. And we have seen what loose methods can do in democracies.
– It sounds like the Fill transaction.
– That was not even authorised. What about the reports on the F 1 1 1 ?
-That is another matter. Bring it up for debate.
– Order! Senator Wright, will you resume your seat? Will honourable senators please remember that the proceedings are being broadcast. I ask honourable senators to pay attention and not to interject across the chamber. I am not directing that to the senator who is speaking but to those who are interjecting across the chamber. Will you please refrain from doing this.
– I was adverting to the fact that this allegation has been made responsibly in the Senate and to ignore it is, I think, a matter of irresponsibility. That is the most charitable view one could take. Others would say that it is a cowardly attitude not to face up to the requirement that that should be adequately answered and justified before we vote not $ 1.9m or even 90c for a picture that may have been purchased by corrupt means. In those circumstances, having given the Minister the opportunity to defer this item- he could quite easily do that in relation to an emergency Bill without loss of face or other qualification, and he could allow it to come up in the general debate- if my offer is declined I conceive the parliamentary duty to be quite clear; that is, to put the proposition to the vote of the Senate to see whether there are sufficient members in the Senate who are prepared to vote the people’s money, a sum of $1.9m, for the purchase of an object of art the papers in respect of which we have not seen, about the integrity of the purchase of which we are not satisfied, and the prudence of which transaction the majority condemns.
In those circumstances I once again invite the Minister to indicate that he would be prepared, having put the specific item before the Senate in that condition of evidence, to defer it. If a motion such as I have indicated is passed, it will go to the House of Representatives for acceptance or rejection; and when it comes back the question will be whether we have been satisfied in the interim both as to these factors associated with the purchase and with the justification of the purchase. In those circumstances I would think that the duty of this place is imperative- that we must not give final sanction to this appropriation this day.
-The Special Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Willesee) when replying earlier- I know that he would not do this maliciously- said that I spoke of 2 irresponsible people having purchased the painting ‘Blue Poles’. If he was referring to any debate today, he has mixed me up with another senator who did use that expression. I mention that today; I did not use that expression.
– If Senator Wood assures me of that, I certainly accept it. I do not like to see people being attacked without a chance to defend themselves. It goes on far too often in this place. As I have said, some people are critical of ‘Blue Poles’. I repeat that I have not seen it, and I would not be a good judge. I suggest that many people who are criticising it have not seen it and that they might not be better judges than 1. 1 want to get down to the point of what this is all about. Senator Wright has invited me to change my mind. I have no intention of changing my mind. I do this for one reason only. I take no umbrage at the criticism which he has levelled. On a former occasion when this sort of thing happened we did not make any analysis of what the then Government was doing. We took the Government at its word that it was necessary for the normal functioning of the Government, and we passed the legislation through the 2 places in 8 or 9 minutes. The Opposition has not chosen to do that on this occasion. I have not accepted it because all the information I have is that if we send this measure back to another place and it accepts it all these things have to happen, whether it is the reprinting of the Bill or whatever it is. I am informed that, it could be tremendously embarrassing not to the Government but to the carrying out of the normal payments to public servants and the rest of it
I believe that this Bill should be passed. I repeat that Senator McManus has made it possible for this Senate to do anything it likes about Blue Poles’ or the whole gamut of the arts. All those who have made criticisms such as those made by Senator Turnbull can take advantage of the lead that Senator McManus has given. We have already made that decision. All these criticisms can come forward then. We are asking for the passage of this Bill as an emergency. I believe that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, experienced parliamentarian that he is, and because of the respect that he has for this institution, has taken the right line even though he condemns what we have done about ‘Blue Poles’. He does not back away from that; he is quite unequivocal about it. But, as a parliamentarian, he says that the Commonwealth Government should be able to carry out its normal works and services. I agree with Senator Wright on one thing; that is, that this debate has gone long enough, far longer than we anticipated this morning, and far longer than was necessary. I suggest that the question ought to be put forthwith.
– I shall be brief. I think we ought to vote on this matter now and I think we ought to have voted on it some time ago. I think Senator Wright was quite entitled to raise the matter which he did. That is his privilege. I take a different view from my colleague, Senator Wright. If the Government has made a boo-boo- I am not passing a judgment as to whether it should have purchased Blue Poles’- the electors will deal with it. I take perhaps the narrow legalistic point of view that the vendor ought to be paid. He has entered into a contract in good faith with a representative of the Australian Government. We may say the painting is no good or that too much has been paid for it but we will deal with that at an election. That is when the Government must face the issues. I take the point of view that the vendor is entitled to be paid. For those reasons I think that the sooner we reach the third reading stage of the Bill the better off we will be.
I believe no explanation has been given as to why this money had to be paid before the end of this month. I would have thought it would have been more politic to include the appropriation in another Bill. I do not say this is any derogatory sense, but the Government perhaps is to blame somewhat for this because there is a feeling that this was a method of sneaking the appropriation through the Parliament in a piece of emergency legislation. I do not think that was the best way of dealing with it. I think, perhaps, that the debate has gone too long this afternoon. If it has, I think it is due to the manner in which the Government has attempted to get the money from the Parliament to pay for the purchase. If the appropriation had been made in the right way we would not have been occupied on the matter for some two and a half hours.
– I move:
I wish to say that I have listened with respect to the words that have fallen from my Leader. If there was a purchaser whose transaction was proper, of course he would be paid but only after examination of the transaction and the documents provided by any prudent buyer. Included in this appropriation is not merely the price but also the commission of $100,000. The corruptness or integrity of that commission is in issue. To pay that commission in the present state of evidence would not only be wrong but also dishonourable.
– I should like to speak for a few moments because I feel that this exercise this afternoon has been marked by a great degree of humbug, with honourable senators scoring cheap political points. I should like to put on record the names of the members of the Committee who were responsible for the purchase of this work of art. The Acquisitions Committee is comprised of Mr James Gleeson, art writer, critic and painter, of Sydney; Mr Leonard French, painter, of Melbourne; Mr Clifford Last, sculptor, of Melbourne; Mr Fred Williams, painter and graphic artist, of Melbourne; and the Director of the Gallery, Mr James Mollison.
– They were appointed by the previous Government.
-Yes, I might mention that these distinguished gentlemen were appointed by the previous Government. I wish to inform the Senate of the backgrounds of the members of the Committee. I refer firstly to Mr Fred Williams. ‘ Who ‘s Who in Australia ‘ states:
Williams, Frederick Ronald, Painter and Etcher; National Gallery Sens, (Melb.), Chelsea An Seh. (Lond.); exhibited in London, Switzerland, Asia, Prague, Cracow and Australia; represented in Tate Gallery London, and all Australian galleries; Rubinstein and Dyason; Travelling Scholar in Europe 1963-64; Georges, Wills and Wynne Prizes 1966; publication, Fred Williams Etchings 1968.
The next person who has been condemned and degraded in this debate is Mr James Gleeson. Who ‘s Who in Australia ‘ states:
Gleeson, James Timothy, Artist, Author, Critic; ed. Gosford, East Syd. Tech. Coll., Syd. Teachers’ Coll.; Lectr. An Syd. Teachers’ Coll. 1945-46; studied Lond., Paris, Rome, 1947-49; publications, William Dobell 1964; Masterpieces of Australian Painting 1969.
The next member to whom I wish to refer is Mr Clifford Last. He is one of the advisers who has been criticised in my view so wrongly this afternoon. The Committee members were advisers to this Government and advisers to the previous Government. For the purpose of the record I shall read Clifford Last’s curriculum vitae. Who ‘s Who in Australia ‘ states:
Last, Clifford Frank, Sculptor, Member C ‘wealth Art Advisory Board since 1970; ed. Barrow G.S. (Lanes), City Guilds An School (London), R.M.I.T. (Melb.), E. Syd. Tech., Lectr. Mercer House Teacher Training Coll.; CI. Member. Vic. Sculptors SOCY.; Vic. Univs. & Schs. Examination Bd. Arts & Crafts Standing Cttee. Outside Examiner R.M.I.T.; work in Nat. Art Collection, Canberra, Nat. Galls. Vic. & Malaya, and an galls. Mildura, Ballarat, Newcastle, Launceston & Castlemaine.
Those are the backgrounds of the people who were commissioned or to whom authority was delegated on behalf of the Australian Government to build up our art collection. In art, as in other areas, man does not live by bread alone.
– He could not live on selling Blue Poles’ either.
– You would like your ‘pornshop’ to be full of filthy pictures. I would not. I am saying that to have a collection of artistic works gives students, the artists of the future, an area for comparison. Access to the different styles of paintings is invaluable for teachers of the arts. It is not right for the Senate to spend all this time criticising these very capable people who have devoted a whole lifetime towards achieving and acquiring knowledge. These people are on a Committee that selects these various works of art for our galleries. Perhaps there are members of the Opposition who would be prepared to sell works of art, cash them in and buy a couple more FI 1 ls or some such thing. I should also like to mention that the Chairman of this Committee, Mr Mollison, was appointed by Opposition ‘s previous Leader, Mr William McMahon. With its background I would say that this Committee stands beyond reproach.
The main reason I rose to speak was that the Government is being condemned. After all, neither Mr Whitlam, Senator Murphy, Senator Douglas McClelland, Senator Mulvihill nor any of us was responsible for choosing this painting but we are certainly supporters of the arts. If we give responsible people the job of choosing the various artists to be represented in our galleries then they are the people to do the job. When we get the tab for the paintings they choose it is our duty and responsibility to pick up that tab. Honourable senators opposite might want to say: Sack them all’, but where will we finish? The people who comprise this Committee would possibly be among the 10 best representatives of their profession and of art in the country. Yet here we are spending 2 or 3 hours condemning them. None of us has ever seen the work ‘Blue Poles’. None of us knows anything of the background of the artist. Perhaps most of us have too little appreciation of art. After all, the history of Australia has been one of hardship and of colonialism and we were not supposed to appreciate the arts. But we believe that this country has now reached an age of maturity and it should be able to get a little artistic fruit for the sideboard. We should be able to acquire collections similar to those acquired by practically every other civilised country in the world. One can go to the Art galleries and find wonderful paintings of the various artists.
– But we produced Nolan, Drysdale and Gruner.
– Of course, and Gruner is represented in most of our galleries. The same applies to Norman Lindsay. People in this country such as honourable gentlemen sitting opposite condemned Norman Lindsay because he was way out and avant garde, and he was called everything they could call him. They banned his books and covered up his paintings, but try to acquire a Norman Lindsay painting today. Perhaps in the 1930s one could buy a Norman Lindsay painting for twenty pounds, but today it would cost $ 10,000 or $ 1 5,000.
– Why not $2m?
– I was most impressed with that Senator Turnbull said. I interjected when he asked whether anyone knew of a painting worth $1.3m. I saw a magnificient painting by Renoir in the Phillips Collection in Washington- Renoir is one of my favourite artists- and I inquired the price. The Phillips Collection paid $ 1.25m for this painting in 1 932, in the middle of the depression, when money was very scarce. If one multiplies that amount allowing for the inflation that has occurred in the United States, as it has here- it is not quite as bad here as it is there- one gets an indication that some of these works are priceless and invaluable, not only from the point of view of their material worth but also for the fact that they are examples of a period of history or of a different interpretation of art. Unless we equip our art galleries with the best that money can buy, we will have fewer examples of art and less material available for our future art students. It ill behoves this Senate to put on an exhibition such as this to score a cheap political point on the Government. The Government is simply standing by its Committee. The Committee made this decision and it is sending us the tab. If we are not welshers we will pay it.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Request for amendment negatived.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Willesee) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9 October (vide page 1064), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition has not changed its attitude in relation to this Bill. We do not lend our support to the proposition before the Senate. The second reading speech made by Senator Cavanagh certainly has not done anything to persuade us to change our minds. In fact, his speech is substantially the same as the original second reading speech made by Senator Willesee when he introduced a similiar Bill into the Senate. Senator Cavanagh did vary his speech slightly from that of Senator Willesee by endeavouring to make political capital of the fact that the Australian Country Party member for the Northern Territory, Mr Calder, supported the Bill in the House of Representatives and that the Country Party senators chose to oppose the measure in this place. I appreciate Mr Calder ‘s stand on the matter and applaud the fact that he demonstrated how we on this side of the chamber have the right to vote according to our own wishes. We are not subject to the will of the Party, as is the unhappy lot of Australian Labor Party senators. Senators, of course, have the duty and responsibility to protect the interests of the States.
– You are reading your speech. You are in breach of the Standing Orders.
– I do not really have to, although I have seen honourable senators on the other side of the chamber do it very frequently. Anyhow, I suggest that honourable senators on this side of the chamber have a different responsibility from that of honourable senators opposite. The Country Party senators, together with all other honourable senators on this side of the chamber, recognised that this Bill jeopardised the position of the States of this country and quite properly exercised their vote accordingly in the interests of the States. Senator Cavanagh also referred to a statement purported to have been made by the Chairman of the Liberal Party federal electorate conference which was held in the Australian Capital Territory.
– It was in the newspaper.
-I know that. He quoted from the newspaper indicating that that conference asked us to support that measure. Here again is an example of how the Liberal Party is quite different from the Labor Party which is subservient to people in the Party who are nonelected people in the country and who have the advantage, so they think, of telling their members of Parliament exactly what they have to do. What I did- I think that it was quite a proper thing to do- was to talk to senior members of the Liberal Party in the Australian Capital Territory and explain the attitude of the Opposition to this Bill. We maintain that the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have adequate representation. This is particularly so in the Northern Territory. I have my doubts really about the representation in the Australian Capital Territory because of the present incumbent who has done little to give the people of Canberra any confidence.
However, we have agreed in the Senate to allow for another member of the House of Representatives when redistribution next occurs. Hopefully, at that time the people of the Australian Capital Territory will have a member of the Liberal Party representing them. I would think that there is a strong possibility at the next election that the people of Canberra will have 2 members of the Liberal Party representing them, judging from what I have heard about the present member for the Australian Capital Territory who sits in another place. I reminded people from the Liberal Party who came to speak to me that the Australian Capital Territory has not only an elected member who is their representative in the Parliament but also another Minister whose sole responsibility is to look after the Australian
Capital Territory. We also have in the Parliament a committee that is comprised of representatives from all parties to watch the interests of Canberra.
– Probably because the Ministers are incapable of doing the job.
-That probably is the point. But not only has the Australian Capital Territory a committee to look after its interests but, also, the Parliament has seen fit to appoint a Joint Committee for the Northern Territory. I know that honourable senators on both sides of the Senate are represented on that Committee. In addition to the appointment of that Committee we have a Minister for the Northern Territory as well. I am sure that any State of the Commonwealth which had a Minister responsible solely for it would have a very strong voice, or should have, in the Cabinet room. I want to mention also that in the Northern Territory a Legislative Council is operating which gives added stength to the representations that are made from that area. I want to suggest- I support the Liberal Party organisations in this matter- that it is about time we had a look at the question of local government for the Australian Capital Territory. I think that this is an area of need to which we should be paying some attention. I hope that the present Minister will look at that question and do what he can to introduce local government into the Australian Capital Territory as soon as posible.
– Don’t you know that is already being looked at?
– I was aware of it. That is why I wanted to give my support for it. The Minister and honourable senators on the Government side ought to be grateful to me for supporting the action that has been taken. I can do no more than reiterate what I said in my previous speech on this matter on 7 June 1973. On that occasion I said:
We believe that this proposal is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution by which the sovereign States agreed to the establishment of the Federal Parliament. The prime reason for this agreement was that the Senate should be created as a States’ assembly with the clear and prime responsibility of protecting the interests of the States, particularly the less populous ones. In order that the smaller States were given full protection, the basic principle of Federation was equality of Senate representation of the original States and that all proposed legislation must have the majority assent of the Senate before being enacted. The people responsible for drafting the Constitution acted very wisely in this respect as this principle gave a reasonable guarantee to the 3 smaller States that they would have an equal voice in the Senate and provided a balance to the House of Representatives where they were decidedly outnumbered by New South Wales and Victoria. We believe that if this Bill were approved, this principle would be destroyed by giving the balance of power to Territorial representatives and the Senate would no longer be a true States’ House.
The passing of this Bill would also open the door- and I believe quite properly- to a request from other Territories of Australia to seek Senate representation, and this would create a precedent for the admission of 2 senators from the Australian Antarctic, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Heard Island, McDonald Island and Norfolk Island. A further 12 senators could conceivably be added to the number of senators in this place. I think that this Bill is a further attempt by the present Government to weaken the States.
And undoubtedly, in the long term, it would be the thin edge of the wedge towards the abolition of the Senate which, I understand, is the driving ambition of some honourable senators opposite.
I understand that the Representation Bill is consequential upon the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill. Therefore, the Opposition rejects both of these Bills.
– The purpose of the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill is to provide senatorial representation on the basis of 2 senators each for the Australian Capital Territory, including the Jervis Bay Territory, and the Northern Territory. The Bill proposes that such senators will have the same powers, immunities and privileges as State senators and that both senators for each Territory will be elected under a system of proportional representation at the time of each general election of members of the House of Representatives, provided that the first election of the Territory senators will be held at the time of the next election of State senators if such is held prior to a general election of the House of Representatives. I want to say that the Country Party’s opposition to the proposals set out in this Bill was made abundantly clear when the original Bills were debated in the Senate last June. The present Bills- the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill and the Representation Bill- are in identical form to the original Bills and no fresh evidence has been brought forward by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) which might cause my Party to reconsider the stand which it took in the Senate at that time. In fact, the second reading speech of the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) delivered in another place on 25 September 1 973 was a very feeble, pathetic and in many parts objectionable speech. The purpose of any second reading speech is to detail the proposals set out in the Bill and to state why those proposals should be adopted. I think that honourable senators look to the second reading speech for information on clauses in the Bill. But on this occasion the Minister chose to depart from tradition. He devoted half of his speech to an attack on those parties opposed to the provisions in the Bill, and particularly the Country Party. He said in part that the Country Party’s opposition to the Bill in the Senate was a display of political gymnastics based not on facts, principles or reason, but straightout political opportunism. That sort of comment should not be made in a second reading speech when a Minister is explaining a Bill. If the Minister cares to read the speech I made when the original Bill was before the Senate on 7 June he will see that facts, principle and reason were the very basis of the Country Party’s objection to granting senatorial representation to the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. I pointed out then, and I do so again, that the Senate is a States House and the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are not States. I said that the Australian Capital Territory, in particular, was unlikely to become a State in its own right. I also pointed out that the Australian Capital Territory, apart from having a member in the House of Representatives who is a Minister, is able to wield great influence through the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory which is composed of members from both Houses of Parliament. No State has a similar committee working for its interests.
– Have you looked at the history of Alaska, senator?
– I am looking at the history of Australia; I am not worried about Alaska. When I spoke previously I made the point that the first progressive move to greater parliamentary representation for the Northern Territory surely must be the establishment of a House of Assembly for that Territory. This would effectively give the people a voice that they seek in their own affairs. It certainly would not bring Territory senators into this place to try to get support for Government proposals such as that relating to land acquisition which was considered recently by the Senate.
I repeat that the Senate is a States House and we are here to represent those States. To grant the mainland Territories representation in the Senate is seen by the Australian Country Party as the thin edge of the wedge in the destruction of the independence of the Senate and perhaps of the Senate itself in the long run. Sooner or later, if the proposals contained in the Bill are adopted, two things will happen. Firstly, the Australian island territories will press their claim for Senate representation, and who would deny them the right of admission once the doors were open? I foresee that in the long term in such an eventuality the importance of the Senate would diminish. Secondly, the 60 State senators would be elected for a period of 3 years instead of the present 6 years to tie in with elections for the House of Representatives. I say that because this Bill proposes that the election of Territory senators take place at the same time as elections for the House of Representatives.
– You said 60 senators.
-Yes, because one thing leads to another. The thin edge of the wedge is apparent to the Country Party in these proposals. We make no apologies for continuing our opposition to them. The people of Australia do not need long memories to be able to acknowledge the worth of the Senate both as a States House and a House of Review. Many Australians have been thankful for the existence of the Senate in the months since Labor came to power. I am sure that they do not want any meddling with the independence of the Senate or any threat to its continued existence.
– Where is your evidence for that claim, senator?
-One can read of it in the paper every day. The Australian Country Party was opposed to this Bill on the last occasion when it was before the Senate. It has seen no new evidence in the second reading speech of the Minister to alter its view. It is still opposed to the Bill.
– Before the Senate suspends I remind honourable senators that they are invited to the reception for the right honourable Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-The Australian Democratic Labor Party will not support the Representation Bill. This Bill was previously before the Senate and was defeated but it has now been returned. Its purpose is to give representation in the Senate to the Australian Capital Territory and possibly to the Northern Territory also. As we said before,’we believe that the Senate while it is a House of review is also a States House. The history of the negotiations which took place for the formation of the Senate shows that it was clearly understood that the Senate would be a House where the States would each enjoy equal representation. We do not see that either of the Territories has yet arrived at the stage where it should receive senatorial representation. I will not detain the Senate long because this matter has been previously debated. I merely say that I regret the continual tendency of another place to attempt to interfere in the Senate.
Not long ago we had an attempt which the people rightly rejected to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives in a way which would have destroyed the basis of representation as between the 2 Houses, and could have resulted in the Senate becoming an inferior House under the Australian Constitution. The people rightfully defeated that attempt to interfere in the affairs of the Senate. We now have this proposal which could alter the very delicate balance in the Senate upon which many people are relying at present so that the Senate can restrain the spate of legislation which comes into the Senate at a rate that has never been seen in parliamentary history. When we have so much legislation being capriciously and hastily rushed into the Senate it is all the more necessary that the Senate should retain its status as a guardian, or rather a watchdog, of proper parliamentary procedures. We now have other proposals based on other lines, which I will not debate now because they have yet to come before us, to interfere with the term for which senators are elected. I believe that there is a deliberate attempt for some reason to interfere with the affairs of the Senate and to make it an inferior House instead of the House the designers of our Constitution intended it to be, that is, a House having its own strong place in our Constitution. For that reason the Democratic Labor Party will not vote for this proposal to alter the basis upon which the future numbers in the Senate may depend.
– I rise to make a few comments in this debate as one of the senators who believe that the people in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay are fully entitled to have their voices heard in this Senate chamber.
– But you are on the Northern Territory Committee.
– The Joint Committee on the Northern Territory, for the information of Senator Jessop, has nothing to do with the legislation now before the Parliament as he would well know if he had read the terms of reference of that Committee. I thought Senator Jessop would have had more sense and would know what the Northern Territory Committee was charged with inquiring into at the present time. Senator McManus has just stated that he resents the interference of the other place in the Senate. I have not yet heard Senator McManus or any of the members of his Party say that they resent the interference of the Senate in matters that affect the Northern Territory. The people of the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay, all have to pay their just share of income tax and I see no reason why we in this place should deprive them of a voice in deciding how revenue raised in this country is to be expended. They are just as entitled to that right as are the people I represent in South Australia and as are the people Senator McManus represents in Victoria.
It has long been the policy of the Australian Labour Party to give the people of the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay representation in this place so that they can have a voice in the affairs of this country. When I first came into the Senate I took the trouble to go to the Parliamentary Library and get some background information on the setting up of the Senate and what the Labor Party had promised in years gone by about giving the Territories representation when it became the Government. That has been our policy and immediately we became the Government we attempted to carry out that plank of the policy for which I believe we had a mandate. Senator McManus stated that this legislation was introduced some time ago in the House of Representatives where it was passed. It came in here and was rejected. It went back to the other place and was passed again. We now have it back here to determine our position on it. I will refer to some of the statements which were made by members of the Australian Country Party in the other place when the Bill was there in the first place. But I refer first to information with which I was supplied by the Parliamentary Library.
In November 1 968 the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, moved the first reading of the Territory Senators Bill. This Bill sought representation for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in the Senate of the Federal Parliament. So this Bill is nothing new. It is 5 years ago almost to the day since the Labor Party first introduced legislation into this Parliament to give these people a say in the running of this country. In the second reading speech to the Bill, Mr Whitlam commented that before the Commonwealth had accepted the Territories from South Australia and New South Wales both had been represented in the same way as all the other parts of those States in the Parliaments of those States. He said that both Territories had been incorporated in electorates for the Legislative Assembly of New South
Wales and the House of Assembly of South Australia respectively and that the Northern Territory was included in a province for the Legislative Council of South Australia. As far back as 1922 the Northern Territory was given representation in the Australian Parliament by one member in the House of Representatives. He was not entitled to vote on any matter. In 1936 this member was given the right to vote on a motion to disallow an ordinance affecting the Northern Territory.
This is what honourable senators do here at present. They can move to disallow ordinances and did so before the winter recess when the Senate disallowed an ordinance providing for the acquisition of 32 square miles in the Northern Territory to give the people there cheaper land and to make it easier for young people to get a home. At that time the Democratic Labor Party voted with the Opposition to disallow the ordinance. However, I am pleased to say that after careful thought the Democratic Labor Party saw fit to vote with us on the next occasion when the ordinance was before us. It is now law and the Government can acquire that land. There are many people in the Northern Territory who are thankful that the Democratic Labor Party did support the Government on that occasion.
The question of whether a Bill related solely to the Northern Territory was determined by the Presiding Officer or, if objection was taken to a ruling by the Presiding Officer, by the House of Representatives itself. In 1968 a Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to give the member for the Northern Territory the right to vote on any matter as soon as it had received royal assent. Assent was duly granted in May 1968. The Territory Senators Bill 1968 proposed that there be 2 Senators for each Territory and the term of office was to be the period between House of Representatives elections. The Bill was not proceeded with in 1968. In 1969, in speaking to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill, the then Leader of the Opposition again pressed for representation for the Territories. During the course of the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill the member for the Northern Territory, Mr S. E. Calder, D.F.C., stated: in the campaign publicity pamphlet which I distributed for the 1966 elections I stated that I was in favour of Senate representation. I still stand for Senate representation for the Northern Territory.
That statement appears in the House of Representatives Hansard for 10 September 1 969. When the vote was taken in the House of Representatives on the original Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill the member for the Northern Territory, Mr Calder, voted for the Bill. So he was true to his campaign platform, part of which helped to elect him to the House of Representatives.
– What is the population of the Northern Territory?
– I shall mention that later for Senator Wright’s information, when I refer to the projected population for some years ahead. In August 1970 the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, again moved for the introduction of a Territory Senators Bill. The Bill was in the same form as that of which he gave notice in 1 968 and on which he made a second reading speech in that year. No conclusion was reached on that Bill as the time allotted for debate expired. Of course, we were not in government at that time.
I have some information from the Parliamentary Library dated 13 October 1971. At that date the Northern Territory had one representative in the House of Representatives and no representation in the Senate. The member in the House of Representatives is entitled to vote on any matter and has all the rights and privileges of an ordinary State member of the Parliament. Originally the representative of the North Territory could vote only on matters affecting the Northern Territory. After a lot of agitation from the Oppositionthe Labor Party at the time- the Government finally gave him the right to vote on all matters; rightly so. I am one who believes that all citizens of Australia are equal, although some people think that because they are well endowed financially they are more equal than others. I do not believe that that ought to be so. I shall reiterate what Senator Cavanagh said in his second reading speech on this Bill. When the vote was taken in the House of Representatives on the original Bill, it was carried by 78 votes to 43. Seventeen members of the Country Party crossed the floor and voted with the Government, the other 3 members of the Country Party being absent when the vote was taken. When that Bill was rejected by the Senate and went back to the House of Representatives, no division was called for. Even members of the Liberal Party supported it because it was carried on the voices. Now the second Bill is before the Senate.
asked me the population of the Northern Territory. I quote from ‘Northern Territory Population Projections 1973-1990’. This publication was put out by the Department of the Northern Territory in January 1 973. It covers the 5 major centres in the
Northern Territory, namely, Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy. I shall read the first page of this publication and then I shall ask for leave to have incorporated in Hansard the medium projection figures on population. It is not the high population basis or the low population basis; it is the medium population basis, so I strike a happy balance. The figures indicate the projection covering 1973 to 1990. These are the introductory remarks of this publication:
Population projections are used for forward planning in both the public and private sectors. To meet this requirement a range of projections has been prepared for each of the major urban centres in the Northern Territory.
They are the 5 centres which I have just mentioned. The introductory remarks continue:
These are contained in the attached paper and cover the period 1973-1990.
For the period to 197S the projections are based on observed trends in population growth between 1966 and 1971 and an assessment of the impact of current activity and of the potential for further development.
Beyond 1973 all the projections show a gradual and progressive reduction of growth rates. This is consistent with the experience of comparable towns throughout Australia.
It must be emphasised that the population projections in no way represent ‘official’ Government attitudes to likely levels of future population. They are simply figures based on stated assumptions of growth and subject to a variety of qualifications which must be noted. Different rates of growth have been assumed to result from changes in the structure and level of economic activity and in the characteristics of the population.
Users of the projection should pay careful attention to these assumptions and qualifications.
The projections will be reviewed and where necessary revised when full details from the 1971 Census and the proposed 1973 population count are available. Thereafter the projections will be reviewed regularly.
A table is set out. The overall population for the Northern Territory in 1971, including the 5 centres which I mentioned, was 86,390. The projected population for 1973 was 102,000; for 1975 it is 120,000; for 1980 it is 175,000; for 1985 it is 240,000 and for 1990 it is 305,000. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the table to which I have referred which sets out the information for honourable senators.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– I thank the Senate. I wish to comment now on the difference of opinion between members of the Country Party in relation to this legislation. As Senator Cavanagh pointed out in his second reading speech, the member for the Northern Territory was most emphatic that the Northern Territory, in particular was entitled to Senate representation. This afternoon Senate Jessop said that the Liberal Party in the Australian Capital Territory is in favour of Senate representation for the Australian Capital Territory. He said that members of the Liberal Party were in a different position from that of members of the Australian Labor Party because they were not supporting Senate representation for the Territories and because they could vote against the wishes of the Party. I invite him to look at the annual report which was delivered in Canberra 2 years ago by Mr Southey, the Federal President of the Liberal Party. Mr Southey said most emphatically that members of the Liberal Party were servants of the Party, and he expected them to carry out the Party’s wishes.
– But we are not subject to the dictates of Caucus.
– That is on record. Prior to the suspension of the sitting Senator Drake-Brockman said that although members of the Country Party voted for this Bill in the House of Representatives there was no need for members of that Party to vote for it in the Senate. I am very interested in an advertisement which appears in the ‘Canberra Times’ of today, Wednesday, 14 November. This puts the Country Party’s policy for the State election to be held in New South Wales this week. The advertisment contains some of the main planks of the Country Party platform. ‘A better balance of population, it is not prepared to give people in the outlying areas a better balance of representation in this Parliament. Another plank is ‘A fair deal for all with special consideration to those outside capital cities’. What about the people in the Northern Territory? Should there not be some consideration for them? This Government wants to give them a voice in the parliament. The most informative part of the advertisment is the plank ‘Internal party unity’.
Where is the internal Party unity? When one looks at the way in which members of the Country Party in the other place voted on this Bill, and at what members in this place have said about how they will vote on it, how can they in all conscience put an advertisement in today’s paper asking the people of New South Wales to vote for them because of internal Party unity when, by their actions in the Senate, they show they have no unity on something which benefits the people? That is why I say that we cannot trust the Country Party, that is why I say we cannot trust the advertisement which it put in the paper to fool the people. The Country Party, by the actions of its members in this place, shows that it is similar to the Liberal Party. It is a A-grade Party in the other place and a B-grade Party in the Senate.
I go to the Northern Territory quite often. Because the people there have no representation in this place I get an extra amount of work to do on their behalf. I have been prepared to take up the cudgels on their behalf on many occasions. I was elected by the electors of South Australia but always I have been prepared to do something for the underdog. For that reason alone I think that the sooner we can get Senate representation for the people of the Northern Territory the better they will be served. In saying that I am not decrying the effort put in by the Country Party member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder).
– I am.
– You might be. I do not agree with his policies but I have a lot of sympathy for him because of the area he has to represent and the places he has to go to. It is not physically possible for him to do the job. Irrespective of whether I agree with his policies, I feel that he is not physically able to do the job. Having one representative for an area of that size is not doing justice either to the member or to the people who live in the Northern Territory. Honourable senators should remember always that a lot of the people living in the Northern Territory today transferred from the southern or eastern States or Western Australia. Before they went there they were endowed with the privilege of voting for a senator. Immediately they went to the Territory they lost that franchise. It was taken from them. Immediately people go to one of the outlying posts of this mighty continent they lose half their franchise. I ask honourable senators: Is this fair to the people who live in the Territory? I and my colleagues on the Government side believe that it is not. That is why for the last 5 years we have endeavoured to give those people representation in this place. The people denying them that right are doing so because they are afraid of who might be elected. It is a purely political matter. Senator McManus said that Senate representation of the Territories would whittle away the powers of the Senate. What nonsense! Are not the people of the Northern Territory to be allowed the right of electing whom they wish to this place? Why take that right away from them? Why should honourable senators opposite prejudge and decide whom they are going to send here?
There is no guarantee that the Australian Labor Party will get any representation. In the last two or three elections we have not been able to get the numbers to send one man here although we had held that seat for many years. Therefore it cannot truthfully be suggested that we are trying to give the people in the Northern Territory representation in this chamber because it will help our Party. Anyone with any common sense would know that under the present voting system one member from each Party would be elected. Why deny the people that right? I think it is just playing petty Party politics to try to deprive those people of their right to a voice in this chamber.
Senator Drake-Brockman mentioned that if Senate representation were given to the people in the territories we would be whittling away the powers of the Senate and that this Bill was the thin edge of the wedge for the abolition of the Senate. He has been in politics long enough to know full well that honourable senators cannot vote for the abolition of the Senate. If we had been able to do that- it has been in our platform for a long time- we would have done it years ago when I think we had 33 members and the Liberal Party had two.
– Put up another Referendum Bill.
– It just cannot be done, Senator Wright, and you know it. The Opposition cannot promote the old scare tactic that if these people are given a vote this will whittle away the powers of the Senate and that eventually this House will be abolished. Even if that did happen Senator Wright and I would not be here to see it. I am sure of that. It will never happen. There has to be a referendum of the people in order to abolish it and in that referendum there has to be a majority in favour in all States. Honourable senators opposite know what is required. I think I have said enough on this subject. I hope that I have been able to convince Senator Wright who claims to be a great upholder of the rights of the citizens of this country. He was a member of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review and in that report he recommended that the Territories have representation. Tonight Senator Wright will be given the opportunity to stand up and be counted and we will see whether he sticks up for the right of the individual, as he claims in this place day after day. Tonight we will know whether he is genuine or whether he is only talking poppycock.
-We have listened to some of the views expressed by Senator McLaren about a Government Bill which proposes to give the territories representation in the Senate, in addition to that in the House of Representatives, by 2 senators for the Northern Territory and 2 senators for the Australian Capital Territory. I listened with great attention to what Senator McLaren said. It gushed through like a rush of ill-considered thought. He suggested that just because the Northern Territory had been conceded representation in the representative House it followed logically that it was proper to give representation in the Senate. The honourable senator was good enough to refer to the fact that I was a contributor to the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in 1959. 1 put in a dissenting report in which I put forward views in which the independence of the Senate was maintained. It should be recalled that that report was made midway in the 23 year period from 1950 to the present. At that time the Senate was in the position of striving to maintain the purpose of its constitutional existence as an independent expression of Australian thought, quite distinct from the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives shares with us one factor. It is directly elected by the people, its members on a provincial basis of electorates and we on a basis of States.
What Senator McLaren did not reflect upon and did not take into account is that we, instead of representing the people according to the numerical numbers of the population or electors, represent the people according to States. Even though Tasmania has 400,000 people and New South Wales has 4 million, it is part of the original fundamental compact upon which the Federation of Australia was founded that New South Wales and Tasmania have a representation in the Senate of equal potency. There are 10 senators to represent each State, and 6 States with equal representation constitute the Senate as a States House and a House of review.
I ask honourable senators to consider this immature intrusion presented to us tonight. The first thing that we ought to reflect upon is that when the Australian Labor Party came to Government in December, the mortification that its members have not yet learnt to assimilate was that in the Senate the people had put a sufficient number of representatives to require review and revision of some of the impulsive, illconsidered, thoughtless, extravagant and damaging program that we have seen avalanching through this place. They resent it. Impulsive people with little knowledge resent the suggesiton that there should be second thoughts. In dealing with the whole of this program, as the Deputy Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Byrne, so thoughtfully put to us this afternoon, we stand as the chamber that will insist upon a proper and thoughtful review of this impulsive and thoughtless program that the Government is completely incompetent to manage. The politics of the situation are that, by the unvarnished device of trying to get territorial members into the Senate, the Government is trying to upset the equilibrium which the populations of the States have in this place to safeguard the people from the thoughtless, extravagant, impulsive, malicious, ideological motivations of the Australian Labor Party, exalted by the thought in Gough ‘s mind when he said: ‘I am the greatest’. And when he conceives the idea that he is the greatest, he expects all of us to wither back into our seats and say nothing. But that is not the humour of the Senate.
Having revealed the primitive, immature, political device whereby Gough should have 2, 3 or 4 territorial accretions in this place to overcome the democratic majority which has been established in this place by an electoral vote, let us examine the reconciliation which can be made between this proposal and fundamental constitutional conceptions. In 1900 and the decade before, the thoughtful and responsible people of Australia, then numbering 2 million to 3 million, saw that unity of government in this continent was essential to its development. The first and foundational agreement which was made by the prudent men who crusaded for the creation of a new nationhood was that there should be equal representation in the Senate for the 6 States. Without that fundamental, prescient and prudent agreement we would never have got to the beginnings of federation. Rudyard Kipling said when he visited Melbourne in 1894: ‘I see that your cause of federation is dawdling.’ In his manuscript letter, which is in the basement, he states: ‘I suggest that you get a German gunboat into Melbourne and give it a few shots one night, and a fortnight later get it into Sydney and give them a few shots there. You will have federation within a month’.
I remind these Johnnies-come-Lately of the fundamental influences which forged federation in this country. Unless we had had people wise enough to agree that the 6 States should have equal representation in this chamber we would never have had the nation of Australia. I say to those who are prepared to forfeit that heritage: Let it be upon your escutcheons of irresponsibility’. I for my part stand here in my twentyfourth year in the Senate- some will scream ‘too long’ but that I am prepared to put to a votehaving seen a terrific development of this chamber on the basis of equal representation of the States. To think that we would agree to this immature, politically devised intrusion whereby 2 territories should be given an adventitious vote here, each not of ten but of two honourable senators! When we come to think of it, we find that the Australian Capital Territory- the Territory which lies within the environs of this budgetary organism- can, through Senator Willesee who represents the Treasurer, expand its overflow of government appropriation in one year from $10,000m to $12,000m. Of course those who live near the bakehouse get the best, the warmest and the freshest bread. Now we are asked to believe that the citizenry of the Australian Capital Territory, who were rejoicing in their emoluments until we exposed the avalanche- fabulous in any conception- in addition to their riches and in addition to their representation in another place through Kep Enderby- God forgive them for the quality- want representation here among men who represent the States.
Now I come to the Northern Territory. One thing in which I rejoiced as a Minister was that I was presiding over a program of works which, as a community develops, is much more important than turtles, sea doves, crocodiles, daubed ‘Blue Poles’, or other nonsense of socialist politics. We had a program of works for roads, railways, sewerage development, housing estates and hydro-electric performance. After 4 years the Northern Territory was receiving about 60 per cent of the total Commonwealth appropriation for capital works. That is the degree to which we rejoiced in developing this Territory. Let them ask for representation according to their contributionno taxation without representation or no representation except commensurate with taxation- and then let them have their American revolution, if you like. But we gave them 60 per cent of the Commonwealth capital works program. Those are the realities as compared with this tendentious, piddling, socialist nonsense whereby the Government tries to fiddle a vote for the Northern Territory by asking for 2 seats in the Senate. That is entirely incongruous with the Constitution, lt is entirely destructive of the fundamental basis upon which the Senate was constituted, and it reflects the complete idiocy of the proponents.
– One could be really amused tonight by the long dissertation given by Senator Wright from the honourable State of Tasmania. He would deny representation to 1 80,000 people in the Northern Territory but yet he is one of 10 honourable senators who represent 40,000 people in Tasmania. Consequently we have the situation where 10 senators from Tasmania, who represent 40,000 people, or one senator for every 4,000 people, are denying the right of representation to 1 80,000 people.
– Are you suggesting that Queensland should be cut down in comparison with New South Wales?
– Let us take it as 120,000 people. Senator Little, you are not even in your seat and if you continue to interject I might say something unkind about you. This attitude shows how foolish are the arguments of that nature that can be advanced. I repeat that a senator is appealing to this Senate and criticising the Government for introducing legislation which will give representation on the basis of one senator for 120,000 people or 180,000 people when he himself represents on a proportional basis 4,000 people.
-It is 40,000 people.
– Well, 40,000 people. How could anybody justify such an argument as that? But in an attempt to excuse himself and those who oppose the legislation Senator Wright referred to the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review which sat in 1959. It is unfortunate for Senator Wright that I happen to have a copy of that report before me. It has been referred to in the Senate before but I think it appropriate that I say, firstly, why this Joint Committee was set up. The reason is shown on page 1 as follows:
APPOINTMENT AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review was first appointed by the two Houses of the twenty-second Parliament to review such aspects of the working of the Commonwealth Constitution as the Committee considered it could most profitably consider and to make recommendation for such amendment of the Constitution as the Committee thought necessary in the light of experience.
That was its task. What did it come up with?
– What about getting down to some original statements instead of reading that twaddle?
– Fancy that comment coming from a defeated member of the House of Representatives for whom the Liberal Party had to find a seat in the Senate. I will deal with him in a moment. Let us consider who were the members of that Committee. I think it is very important that we should remind the people of Australia who were the members of that Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. The list of members is shown on page 173. They begin with none other than the late Senator Neil O’sullivan as Chairman. I know that many people, and I would say the vast majority of honourable senators, would have a very high regard for the late Neil O’sullivan. Then there was Senator P. J. Kennelly. Senator Jessop has retired. He would not know Senator Kennelly, but I think a lot of people here would know Senator Kennelly and would have a very high regard for any opinion he expressed. Do you know the next name that I read? It is Senator Reginald C. Wright.
– Are you sure of that?
-I will read it again. I have it here in black and white before me: Senator Reginald C. Wright, who is one of the 10 senators from Tasmania who represent 40,000 people and who denies representation to 120,000 people in the Northern Territory.
– Have a look at his dissenting report.
- Senator Rae, you are in exactly the same position so I will substitute Senator Rae’ for ‘Senator Wright’ if you come into the debate. Now, if I may continue, the next was Mr A. R. Downer. I am sorry; I do not know Mr Downer.
– He was the High Commissioner to London.
-He was appointed by the Liberal Party. They must have had a very high regard for him. The next member was Mr Len W. Hamilton. Then there was Mr Reg. T. Pollard; he is very well respected in all political spheres. Then we have Senator Nick McKenna. Everybody adored Senator McKenna. Other members were the late Arthur A. Calwell; Mr D. R. Drummond; Mr P. E. Joske who is now a member of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and who was appointed by the Liberal Party when it was in government; the late Eddie Ward; and last but not least, Mr E. G. Whitlam. That Committtee recommended some very important amendments to the Constitution. One of them was that the Senate should not remain constant but should fluctuate with circumstances. It is in that context that I want to come to the point raised by Senator McManus. He said that by this legislation we are trying to denigrate the work of the Senate. On the contrary, we are trying to advance the interests of the Senate because we are asking that there should be additional representation of the people in the Senate. How can anyone say that we are trying to play down the role of the Senate when we are trying to extend the influence of the Senate by giving representa.titon to the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory? One just cannot add up that type of argument and I would suggest that on analysis one will find that it is completely wrong.
Senator Jessop in his contribution tonight referred to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. For good or for bad, Senator Jessop has his opinion. The members of the Committee will have their own opinions. I happen to be Chairman of that Committee. It is very interesting that Senator Jessop should criticise all and sundry; but he does not know his own record. The situation is that he said there should be local government representation in the Australian Capital Territory. Does Senator Jessop know that some 5 months ago the member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) who was then Minister for the Capital Territory asked our Committee to examine how we could introduce local government to the Australian Capital Territory and that that is what we are now doing? He did not do his homework. No wonder he was thrown out of the House of Representatives. It is obvious that he must be thrown out of the Senate in due course. I am not sensitive about these things -
– If you are Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory then I think that members ought to revise their opinion.
– That might be so. I thank Senator Jessop for that interjection because I will again prove to him how innocuous he is in this Senate and that it is no wonder he was thrown out of the House of Representatives. This Joint Committee is composed of representatives of all political parties. If Senator Jessop keeps on yapping I will turn on him again. I want to address my remarks now to Senator Webster. Senator Webster, trying to get on side with his colleague from South Australia to curry favour somewhere along the line, said that the Committee is ineffectual. Of course he is entitled to that opinion. You stick to that opinion, Senator; you are entitled to do so. But if you do let me remind you that Mr Jack Hallett, a Country Party member of the House of Representatives is Deputy Chairman of that Committee and is highly regarded by that Committee.
– What we should remember is that Senator Jessop knocked off a sitting member of his own Party.
– Oh, no. I would not accuse him of such disloyalty. Let me deal with the compilation of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. We have Senator Marriott who, according to Senator Webster, is ineffectual. Then we have Senator Devitt. What about Senator Webster rising on his feet and saying that Senator Devitt is ineffectual? What about Senator Webster rising to his feet and nominating who on that Committee is ineffectual? What about Senator Webster getting to his feet and criticising the report that was brought down?
– We do not want to interrupt you.
– The honourable senator should go back to his pornographic literature shop in Melbourne. What about Senator Webster bringing forward some criticism of the report that saved an abattoir for the people of the Australian Capital Territory, when his Party when in office wanted to close it? Why does he not do that? Why does he not criticise Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson for what he said in this House? The honourable senator is on record as saying that it was an excellent report that was brought forward to save the abattoir in the Australian Capital Territory for the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Please do not make wild accusations. Senator Little continues to interject. All I can say to one who rises in the Senate and parades the virtue of morality and says all along that one must inculcate into the young people all the splendid ideals of Christianity, and then sells pornographic literature to those young people in his shop in Melbourne, is that in my book his case falls to the ground. I rest on that point. Senator Little is again interjecting. All he can do is wear dark glasses in the Senate to suggest that he is not a member of the Mafia. I challenge all members of the Opposition to dispute my argument.
– You have not challenged anybody. You are weak and you could not do it. You are absolutely weak.
– Is it right that one of your own members knocked you off in your electorate? I say to members of the Opposition that if they vote against this legislation they will vote against what the representative from the Northern Territory wants. He is a member of the Country Party.
– Who are you talking about, silent Sam?
- Mr Calder, I am sorry. I refer honourable senators to page 1062 of Senate Hansard of 9 October 1973 where the following appears:
This Bill, which seeks to provide Senate representation Tor the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, is identical to the Bill of the same title which was passed by the House of Representatives on 30 May 1973 … it was carried by 78 votes to 43. Seventeen members of the Country Party -
The Nationalist Party, I suppose now- crossed the floor and voted with the Government, the other 3 members of the Country Party being absent when the vote was taken.
Do honourable senators know who was amongst those 17 members who crossed the floor, none other than the member for the Northern Territory, Mr Calder. Where are we going to have a situation in Australia -
– What about 4KQ?
– Of course I am proud to be associated with 4KQ. I do not have to rely on anything in 4KQ like the honourable senator had to rely on to get a crust when he was thrown out of Parliament. He cannot ever, have the confidence of members of his own party; they have jettisoned him again.
I appeal to members opposite. If they believe in democracy surely they will give an area with u population of 120,000 people representation in this honourable Senate. If honourable members opposite do not intend to do that, I ask them to look in the mirror and see that there are 10 senators from Tasmania representing 400,000 people collectively or 40,000 people each. I believe the argument is irrefutable. I believe that the Country Party has demonstrated that it believes in what we say. If I were to believe anything that was said, then God forbid that I would believe anything that Senator Jessop said, and in par.ticular the matter he raised in the Senate yesterc’ay.
– If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of 3 months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor-General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. That is part of section 57 of the Australian Constitution, I say to the Labor Party and to the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) who is in charge of this Bill, that one can confidently predict that this piece of legislation which the Senate is now debating- the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 (No 2)- will be rejected by the Senate this evening.
– You cannot say it confidently but we can.
-Thank you, Senator. I hope that those members of the Government who have been so vocal tonight in giving an idea of the great strength that they have, will certainly show some intestinal fortitude in this matter and realise that the Senate will have rejected a piece of legislation on 2 occasions and within the terms of section 57 of the Constitution. I hope that Mr Whitlam and his Government have sufficient stomach to stand up to the assurances which they give to the public. I hope that they will take this country to an election, but I feel confident in my own mind that they lack the necessary intestinal fortitude.
This Bill is an important Bill. It is one in which the Senate must take great interest. The Government presented a similar Bill to the Senate in the last session and it was rejected. The Government has presented it again and after a vote is taken tonight we will know the Senate ‘s reaction to this Bill. A previous speaker from the Labor Party- I do not think it was Senator Milliner- stated that it was Labor Party policy to abolish the Senate but the Labor Party, he said, had not acted on that policy for many years and it was unlikely that Labor members would vote themselves out of office. Members of the Labor Party are men without stomach. They have in their platform that they propose, and will work for, the abolition of the upper House in this Federal Parliament. The way that they will do that is by the very legislation which they have proposed and introduced during their first 10 months of office in the Australian Parliament in 20-odd years. This measure, the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973 (No. 2), is the commencement of that action. I have no doubt in my mind that if this measure were to be passed it would commence the weakening of the stature of the Senate which it has at the present time. One finds that there has been a reaction against any government which has determined a policy of interfering with the constitution of the Senate. The previous Government, in its wisdom, attempted to break the nexus so that the House of Representatives could escalate in numbers compared with the number in the Senate. The people of Australia heartily rejected that proposal.
I am surprised to hear Labor senators supporting this measure. I do not believe that most of them in their own hearts support a proposition which, if passed, will provide for 4 new senators to come into this Senate which presently comprises 60 senators. It is a House in which each of the 6 States is represented equally and in which we as direct representatives of our States have so much pride in serving. I am disappointed that Labor senators are attempting to sell out the Senate in such a manner, but it is not surprising that the Labor Party is hypocritical in its attitude towards this matter. I believe that it has demonstrated and intends to demonstrate in the ensuing months a double standard in relation to their attitude of support for a bicameral system of Parliament. It is well know that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) sincerely hopes that he can rid the Australian Parliament of a Senate, and also he has laid down the proposal that he hopes to rid the Australian community of States so that we have regions only throughout Australia.
– I think he rather likes the idea of his mate Mao Tse-tung- you know, no opposition even.
-This Bill is directed towards having no opposition in the Senate. I doubt whether any honourable senator would say that the Senate has not been of great value. Senator McLaren, who is interrupting, has visited the Northern Territory on numerous occasions. When he was speaking I heard him say what a wonderful job he had done to represent the Northern Territory. I just wish to draw to his attention some of the great disadvantages caused to the public- particularly those in the Northern Territory, although possibly they are not aware of these disadvantages- because we have a Labor federal government in this Parliament. During the sittings of Estimates Committee F on Monday night we drew from Senator Cavanagh information on 2 actions which this Government has taken against the residents of the Northern Territory. I would imagine that the residents are not very aware of what has happened.
Senator Milliner, who was the previous speaker in the debate, was very critical of my friend and colleague, Senator Little. When Senator Milliner has reached the stature that Senator Little has attained in this House he will feel a very proud man. During his remarks he slated Senator Little as much as he could. He suggested that there was a great disadvantage of those people who live in the very isolated areas. He stated that he had some sympathy for that great Country Party member of the House of Representatives, Mr Sam Calder. He sympathised with Mr Calder for the great area that he had to represent. In actual fact he indicated that it was unfair that one man should have to represent so great an area. With that we are agreed.
Whilst the Labor Party pronounces by one standard that there is a disadvantage for the constituents in large areas such as that represented by Mr Calder, what standard is it attempting to bring in? I know that Senator McAuliffe will agree with me that the people who live in isolated areas in Queensland have a disadvantage so far as their electoral representation is concerned. They do not have equality of availability to their member of Parliament, and their member of Parliament cannot give to them the equality of attention that one finds in the densely populated areas. The previous Government had set up a great number of advantages for the people of the Northern Territory. The Senate will be aware that the previous Government had set up a subsidy for the transportation of goods into the Northern Territory for the purpose of attempting to lower the cost of living in the Territory. Is the Senate aware of what the socialist Labor Government has done since it has been in office? Let me refer to Senator Cavanagh ‘s words.
– Who was that?
-Senator Cavanagh. On Monday night Senator Poyser arrived late after a very healthy dinner. On Monday evening during the examination by Estimates Committee F of the estimates for the Department of the Northern Territory, I asked whether it was a fact that the Commonwealth subsidy on rail freight had been withdrawn in relation to the Northern Territory. Senator Cavanagh said in reply:
It was a recommendation in the report of the Coombs task force. It was adopted by Cabinet and expressed in the Budget Papers.
The expenditure for this item last year was $130,000. But that subsidy to residents of. the Northern Territory has been withdrawn by the Labor Party. Honourable senators opposite remain in silence when Senator McLaren from South Australia attempts to stand up and say how sympathetic he is towards the residents of the Northern Territory. In attempting to give the people of the Northern Territory representation in the Senate the Labor Party is using a double standard all the way.
– You have only picked out one point.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie)- Order! Honourable senators in that quarter of the chamber in which Senator McLaren sits will cease interjecting.
-The interjections are very welcome at times, Mr Acting Deputy President, because the honourable senator says that I mentioned only one of the disadvantages. Let me assist him by mentioning another of the disadvantages.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Senator Webster, you will address the Chair.
-Mr Acting Deputy President, I know that you are as interested in this matter as are members of the Labor Party. But I am just as anxious to tell them about it because apparently they do not know what they have withdrawn from the residents of the Northern Territory. Previously assistance was given by way of a subsidy which was related to housing in the Northern Territory. During the sitting of Estimates Committee F on Monday evening at which Senator Cavanagh was representing the Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) I raised a point in which I used these words:
Amounts of $1,000 for housing in Alice Springs and $2,000 for housing constructed elsewhere in the Territory are not repayable and operate as subsidies to offset high construction costs in the Territory.
Mr Hull, who attended the Committee hearing to advise the Minister, said in reply:
Prior to the Budget, at the time when these explanations were prepared, as an aid to reducing the rental charges on dwellings the Government provided a non-repayable notional grant … ‘
Mr Hull went on to say that under the Labor Party- being a good officer he does not use the words ‘Labor Party’- that grant has been withdrawn. So another means of assistance to these people in the Northern Territory who need the assistance has been withdrawn by the Labor Government.
– I do not like to interrupt in a debate, but I do think that Senator Webster has strayed a long way away from the subject matter of the Bill. He has made 5 or 6 points now. I hesitated to interrupt before, but I think he ought to come back to the subject matter of the Bill which concerns electoral representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTSome of the previous speakers strayed quite considerably. However, I ask Senator Webster to keep closely to the subject matter of the Bill which, as has been pointed out, relates to the appointment of senators to the Parliament for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
-The Country Party has looked into the possibility of having extra representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. It is of concern to us that at the most appropriate time extra representation should be given to these Territories. Let us take the Australian Capital Territory as the commencement point. The Australian Capital Territory has a population which Senator Wright described as being very close to the seat of government. The population of the Australian Capital Territory is a couple of hundred thousand people. There is a Minister for the Capital Territory- I heard Mr Calder call him the white father- Mr Bryant. Also the member for the Australian Capital Territory, Mr Enderby, is the Minister for Secondary Industry. The people of the Australian Capital Territory have a committee directly representative of the 2 Houses of Parliament working in their interests and drawing the attention of the Parliament to deficiencies and to assistance that is needed for the people. There is also a committee that has direct access to these members of Parliament. Perhaps it represents them indirectly. At least, that would be the suggestion made by the Government at this time. Quite recently the Senate approved the proposition that there be an extra member of the House of Representatives for the Australian Capital Territory. It appears to me to be particularly unwise that we should think of weakening our State representation by introducing 2 senators for the Australian Capital Territory.
This Bill does not stop there. It suggests that there should be 2 senators to represent the Northern Territory. I believe that the population of 100,000 in the Northern Territory, with the great expanse of that area, the physical features and the difficulties of communication which exist in the Northern Territory, is entitled to adequate representation. At the present time I serve on a committee jointly with other members of the Senate and the House of Representatives which I hope will find a method of introducing government to the Northern Territory on an adequate basis. I am sure that that will follow within the next 12 months. I believe that it is inappropriate for senators to be elected from the Northern Territory at this time. I acknowledge that my colleague, Mr Calder, the honourable member for the Northern Territory in another place, believes that greater representation should be granted for the Northern Territory. But I think that he is wrong when he suggests that that representation, on some basis, should be in the Senate.
Senator Poyser is trying to interrupt. When he comes up for election in Victoria in the next 6 or 8 months he will have to find some 300,000 first preference votes before he is elected. Whilst Senator Poyser feels quite confident, as he may, that he will be returned to the glory of the Senate it becomes much more difficult for one such as myself who will now hold No. 3 position on the ballot paper. I acknowledge that there is the problem in Victoria that 300,000 first preference votes will be required to return a senator. The Labor Party suggests that we should adopt the principle of one vote one value. Can anyone think of greater hypocrisy or double standards than has been displayed by that Party? It then suggests that we should have 2 extra senators from the Northern Territory. If I could brand each honourable senator opposite with the brand of hypocrisy, it would be because of what he has done in supporting this Bill.
The main thing that would flow initially from the passage of this Bill would be the degrading of the Senate by the Labor Party. We have heard a great deal about what will be referred to the people by way of referendum in the ensuing months. On 8 December two matters will be referred to the people of Australia. The first such matter is the giving of greater power to the Australian Government in relation to prices. The second is that there should be referred to the Australian Government greater power over incomes. I feel quite confident that both these propositions will be rejected. We have this appeal from a Government that has been unable to control the economy during the past 12 months and which says that it needs more power. Previously governments did not need the power. But the incapacity of the Labor Government makes it go to the people and spend $2m of the people ‘s money in having those 2 questions referred to the Australian public.
But we find that during next year Mr Whitlam wants some other matters referred to the Australian people. I believe it is his view that they should be referred at the time of the Senate election. Two of the matters refer to the Constitution. The first is that the Senate and the House of Representatives should always go to an election jointly. The suggestion that there should not be elections every 18 months or so, one for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives, must appeal to the public. But the purpose of this proposition is to attempt to ensure that the Senate is controlled by the Party that is in power in the House of Representatives. As the people of Australia threw out the referendum conducted by the previous Government to break the nexus, I sincerely hope that they will throw out this referendum which will attempt to have elections for the 2 Houses put into line. That in itself is another proposition designed by this Government to weaken the Senate and to see that the Senate does not stand out as a House of importance when Federal elections are held. It is not the election date for the Senate that needs to be brought back into kilter with the election date for the House of Representatives. A previous Prime Minister called an election for the House of Representatives half way through a Senate term. It is the House of Representatives election date that needs to be put back into kilter with the Senate election date.
If those proud members of the Labor Party were to rise- they now have the opportunityand ask for an election of the House of Representatives next May, at the same time as the Senate election is held, they would save the people a great deal of bother and money and would save putting a great deal of strain on the economy.
There is another matter that I wish to refer to while I am dealing with the subject of referendums so that those who are listening to me will know the position. I believe that the Labor Government intends to ask the people of Australia whether they wish all electorates in Australia to have the same number of electors. Whatever wording is adopted, it will represent an attempt by the Labor Party to introduce the principle of one vote one value. We feel that people should have equal representation in equal blocks of electorates.
-The foolish senator opposite says: ‘Hear, hear’, while supporting the proposition before us to appoint 2 senators to represent a Territory with a population of 100,000 people. Senator Poyser, who tries to interrupt again, knows that in Victoria a candidate must have 300,000 first preference votes before he is elected to the Senate. In New South Wales I think that some 600,000 first preference votes are required. Where is the equality of representation to be given as far as the Senate is concerned? It makes me sick to hear of all the double standards that are advanced by members of the Labor Party. I sincerely hope that when a vote is taken on this matter this Bill will be rejected. I only hope that the Prime Minister has sufficient stomach to take action on that result.
– The kernel of the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill, which my illustrious leader has submitted to the Senate, provides for the election of 2 senators each for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and for such senators to have the same powers, immunities and privileges as senators who represent the States. When I listened to Senator Webster tonight I was reminded of a very fine American President, the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said that the greatest threat to our institutions are those who refuse to face up to a change. That was symbolised tonight. As an Australian, I do not believe that because there are only 120,000 people in the Northern Territory, those of us in the eastern States have any God-given rights. Senator Webster hurled abuse at my Victorian colleague, Senator Poyser. There is one matter on which Senator Poyser and myself can stand and be counted. In our Party, the Australian Labor Party, 6 votes from Western Australian delegates at a Federal Conference are equal to 6 votes from delegates from Victoria or New South Wales. We regard ourselves as Australians.
I am of a different political complexion to that of Mr Calder, the member for the Northern Territory in another place. But those of us who have served on Senate committees that have travelled to the Northern Territory know of the distances entailed. I think that Territorians would have much better service if they had additional senators to look after their wants. We should not delude ourselves. Do honourable senators imagine that decisions are made by committees of the Senate? It is in this Senate where decisions are made. As far as I am concerned I think it is the essence of democracy that senators from the Northern Territory, whether they come from Alice Springs or Darwin and whether or not I agree with their point of view, should sit in this place.
Many years ago I visited Noumea which is a very small possession in what was then the
French empire. It may not be fashionable to talk about France in this era of atomic testing, but at least it can be said that no matter what type of government has been in power in Francewhether it be a popular front government, the De Gaulle Government or any other political combination- little areas like Martinique and Noumea have had representatives in the Chamber of Deputies in Paris. I defy Senator Webster or anybody else to go with me to the Darwin waterfront and debate with me why they should deny Senate representation to the Northern Territory. Honourable senators opposite should realise that this is 1973. 1 was amazed to hear what was said on this matter by the doubting Thomases in this chamber because not so long ago when we had several debates on trade unionism the whole crux of the Opposition’s argument was that there should be little unions and not big ones. If we apply that reasoning- that precedent- to the argument now before the Senate why is it that the Opposition does not want a couple of senators from the Northern Territory in this chamber participating in debates? The Opposition cannot have it both ways.
My colleague, Senator McLaren, who is extremely knowledgeable on Territory matters has drawn to my attention a manifesto of the Australian Country Party, which appeared in the Canberra Times’ and which referred to internal Party unity. Yet, we find a travesty of political morality here today. Seventeen Country Party members in the House of Representatives supported this legislation when it was before that House, but Senator Drake-Brockman and Senator Webster now are repudiating what their colleagues in the House of Representatives suggested. We should consider the North American experience in this regard, because frequently we have been told to study the position in the United States of America. I suggest to Senator DrakeBrockman and Senator Webster that they go to the Parliamentary Library and have a look at the quest for statehood that was undertaken by Hawaii and Alaska. They will see that these 2 States battled on repeatedly and ultimately attained statehood. Surely in 1973 the Northern Territory should not have to go through this political Gethsemane that was imposed upon Alaska and Hawaii in their efforts to attain state rights. Honourable senators opposite have harped on numerous occasions on this subject. Even the famous Senator Wright has always argued- he told me this on one of his rare occasions of warmth- that the Senate is the place where we get a consensus. Although representative Calder puts a view point in the House of
Representatives there is no one in this chamber, with all due respect to my colleagues, who is responsible for the Northern Territory when it comes to a ballot. Obviously, if we believe in broadening democracy there is only one answer, and that is to support this legislation. I have heard taunts about facing the people, but this Government has been very liberal in relation to hospital facilities and many other things and I believe there is a hidden fear. Senator Webster referred to Estimates Committee F. I only wish that he had listened last night to the proceedings of Estimates Committee C because the members of that Committee found- and I have spent 4 years of interrogation on this matter- that if an industrial worker in remote areas such as the Northern Territory employed by a multi national employer which, I imagine, takes out an insurance cover on its employees, is injured the taxpayers of Australia pay any costs in excess of $40 if that worker is flown back to Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide for additional surgical treatment. I venture to suggest that if we had a couple of senators from Darwin or Alice Springs some pertinent questions would be asked about this situation and there would be an exposure of the way in which the so called semi-State administration of the Northern Territory featherbeds big private insurance companies which do not pay what they should to fly injured industrial workers from Gove and other places and which do not pick up the tab.
There have been occasions- I suppose this might sound like heresy- when I have reached agreement with Country Party senators. I believe that the more senators we have here from the distant parts of Australia the nearer we will get to the real essence of democracy. I refuse to believe that some mythical population figure should be reached before Senate representation is given to the Territory. Senator Webster referred to the number of primary votes that were received by Senator Poyser and myself when we were elected to this place, but numbers do not always have a monopoly on ideas. It could well be that as a result of technological changes in mining operations or in the manufacturing industry a massive increase in the working population of the Northern Territory is not on. The natural corollary is that the population of the Northern Territory probably will never reasonably approach that of the other States. If we accepted the thesis of Senator Webster, and, to a lesser degree, that of Senator Drake-Brockman, we would have to say that the Northern Territory will always be underfranchised. It is as simple as that.
Much has been said about the lessons we can learn from other continents. I would hate to think that the incessant agitation of the people of Hawaii and Alaska should be repeated in Australia. I repeat that if the relatively small areas of Martinique and Noumea, as part of the French Empire, were able to get representation in Paris I see no reason why the people of the Northern Territory should not be represented in this place. Every time we talk about electoral redistribution and quotas Country Party members refer incessantly to the mileage travelled by their members. As a matter of fact, they are prone to exaggeration. I know of one member in the other place, Mr Katter, who got his arithmetic completely mixed up; but we accept that. The fact of the matter is that they cannot have it both ways. I have no doubt that if the Government attempted to get what I might call a form of electoral equilibrium with parity between House of Representatives seats honourable Senators opposite would argue that Country Party members have to contend with the problem of travelling massive distances each year. There is no way that we can fertilise democracy other than by assuring that representative Calder has a couple of senators to assist him in his electorate. It is as simple as that.
In my opinion the Opposition is trying to bury a lot of the social inequalities that exist in the Northern Territory by not allowing it representation in this place. I am trying to be charitable because, after all, I played in a cricket match with Mr Calder, I admired his cricket prowess. He has a good pair of hands and did not drop any catches, but that does not mean that I have to accept his political viewpoint. His physical limitations must reach only a certain point. On each occasion when I visited the Northern Territory with Senator Keeffe, Senator Laucke and Senator Davidson as members of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution I found that people came to me with their problems. On one memorable occasion when that Committee was taking evidence in Darwin from representatives of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission- a body for which I do not have a lot of timeevidence was given that was very close to perjury. I have said this in writing. I questioned whether the Finnis River was subject to pollution. With the help of witnesses from the Department of the Interior, as it was known then, I proved my point. As a matter of fact I hate to confess this- if senator Davidson were here he would confirm it- but when I walked out of the hearing a couple of people came up to me and said: ‘Senator what you did today was very good for the cattlemen.’ They asked: ‘Are you a member of the Country Party from New South Wales?’ I accepted that as a compliment that I had pinpointed the inadequacies of the Atomic Energy Commission. The moral of the story, and I can see Senator Poyser nodding his head, is that representative Calder should have done it. A senator from the east should not have had to do this, at all and I hammer this point again. If one goes through the Northern Territory on committees dealing with Aboriginal welfare, water pollution or wildlife conservation it becomes clear that representative Calder cannot carry the load. It is too much for him. If he had 2 senators they would be ventilating issues in this chamber and they would be on committees.
Senator Webster talks about being on committees, and my eminent colleague, Senator McLaren, is on committees too. He has constituency problems in South Australia to look after and Senator Webster has constituency problems in Victoria. Do honourable senators opposite mean to tell me that they can be half time members for the Northern Territory as well? I agree with Senator McLaren; they cannot. There is overwhelming evidence to support the widening of the democratic fabric in the Northern Territory. This case is unanswerable because there are so many occurrences now which manifest themselves as injustices. On the Immigration Advisory Council I get correspondence, as does my colleague Senator Davidson- I pay tribute to Senator Davidson as Chairman of that Council and he would agree with me if he were in this chamber now- from people in the Northern Territory. I say to them: ‘Why do you not go to representative Calder?’ They say: ‘We can never find him’. I do not belittle Mr Calder. The work is just too much for him. We talk a lot of rubbish about limited democracy and Opposition senators sermonise about little unions having rights along with big unions. They debate that point ad nauseum. They say that they do not believe in the amalgamation of unions. If that is their argument, we do not want to amalgamate everything under Mr Calder either. We want to lessen his burden of representation by giving the Northern Territory Senate representation.
I simply summarise in this way: If we look at the history of North America we can learn from past mistakes. I am sure that the people of Alice Springs, Darwin and other smaller areas are looking tonight for added representation. I do not know what the work load of 2 senators in the Territories would be, but over a 365-day parliamentary year, if they were able to remedy 100 cases for victims of bureaucracy, whether it be a matter of a slow decision on a pension or something to do with a telephone, it would be far better than having Senator Lawrie or me detail, say, to Estimates Committee C what somebody from the Northern Territory wrote to us. I end where I began. After all the rhetoric that has gone on about referendums, let us be quite clear about the issue. We all know that the purpose of referendums gets blurred by different issues. It is part of the game. The Opposition tries to distort the issue and intrude other issues. But Senator Murphy when introducing this legislation said simply that the idea was to provide for senatorial representation for the Northern Territory. That is the particular issue before us tonight and I am sure that the people of Darwin and Alice Springs are looking for a lead from us. The Government has given it and I hope that after sounding the tocsins the Opposition will get the message loud and clear.
-I have listened very keenly to the debate on this issue because it is an issue which was before this chamber not so long ago and the Senate then rejected it. It was very well debated at the time. On that occasion I used the opportunity to quote quite extensively from the constitutional discussions which ultimately resulted in the initiation of an Australian Parliament. It should be remembered that the Constitution of Australia is based not on the House of Representatives but on the Senate. If it had not been possible to secure agreement on the establishment of the Senate there would not have been an Australian Parliament. The reason for the discussions was to determine the basis of representation and it was decided that the States had to have equal representation, otherwise the smaller States would have been swamped by the more populous States. Honourable senators will remember that the basis of what I put forward on the earlier occasion was that the Senate is a States House. Honourable senators here represent States.
Now we have the desire on the part of the Government to bring in another aspect, that is, that Senate representation shall be given to the Territories also. This strikes at the very heart of what brought about the initiation of the Senate and I think that when we start moving in such a direction as is now proposed we are taking a very serious step. The Territories are not States. The argument has been used: What about the number of people? But then we have unequal numbers in the States. The States did not get representation by senators on a population basis; they got it because they were States. Therefore I cannot see that we as a chamber should countenance in the slightest degree the suggestion that this whole basis of representation should be changed. I know it is very easy to say that the people here and the people there should have better representation by bringing in senators, as is now proposed for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Those people do have representation in the House of Representatives, which has a different basis. Their representation is based on the number of electors in each State being divided into electorates. As a consequence the more populous States have more members in the House of Representatives.
Because of the limitation that this chamber is a States House, the solution to the problem of representation for the Territories is that if the Territories do not have sufficient representation there should be more representation of them in the House of Representatives where they are entitled to it. If we say that because of their population and because they are Territories we have to widen their representation and bring them into this chamber the questions are then raised: If representation is not on a States basis where do we stop? How far do we go? We have the Australian Capital Territory and we have the Northern Territory. Supposing we stop there. What do the people in the other Territories say? Are they not entitled to Senate representation too? We have more Territories than those two. For instance, what about the people of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands? Are they not entitled to representation here if the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are?
– They do not have any representation in the other place.
– They are entitled to it if you say that territories are to be treated on the same basis as the States. What about the people of Norfolk Island?
– You are on flimsy ground here because you do not know the background.
– I think I have made a better study of the Senate than anybody in this chamber.
– I am talking of the Cocos Islands.
-What about Norfolk Island?
– You do not know the background.
– No, of course I do not.
– What about Christmas Island?
-What about Norfolk Island? That is another Territory.
– And Christmas Island.
– And what about Heard and McDonald Islands. They are territories.
– There are only seals there.
– We are talking of territories such as the Heard and McDonald Islands. What about the Coral Sea island territories and the Antarctic territory?
– That is not inhabited and you know it.
– Just a minute. Where will we stop? If it is a matter of bringing more territories into the Senate, on what basis do we do it? The Constitution provides that this House shall be comprised of so many senators from each of the States. Once we break down that situation I believe we are doing very serious damage to this chamber. I feel that the States would consider that the election of senators to represent the Territories would in certain ways weaken their strength in the Senate.
– What nonsense.
– It is not nonsense because the Territories are on an entirely different basis. The Australian Capital Territory has a representative in the House of Representatives. Who can say that electors in that Territory are not very close to the minds of members of this Parliament? We are situated in the area. Because of contact that public servants and others in this area have with us, do honourable senators opposite mean to tell me that this area has not a great influence on us? Yet the Government proposes to give them more strength by allowing them to elect 2 members to the Senate. We either stand by the very basis on which the Senate was established or we destroy it by doing what is asked. This move must not be countenanced in any form because it might possibly be an expedient to help a government or a party through some situation. That is the sort of thing which we should resist. I believe that we should look at this matter on the highest basis so far as the Senate is concerned. Because the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) probably has not a very strong regard for this chamber is no reason why any move should be made to denigrate it in any shape or form.
– That statement is not right.
– It is right. I know what he thinks about the Senate and about senators. I have been a senator for quite a long time and I know things that have been said in the past. No one can say that in the years that I have been a senator I have not stood for the Sente. I came into the Senate with a determination to use any power in my capacity to make it a better chamber. I believe that credit is due to those senators who over a period have worked to make this chamber a much better chamber today than it possibly was before. In fairness, I believe that generally speaking the quality of the Senate has risen considerably. I believe too that senators now have a much better outlook and that the Senate now stands higher in the minds of the people than possibly it did before.
I travel around the States. In the last election campaign I was most interested to hear the approbation which came from people about the work of the Senate, its committees and so on. I think that we as senators should be proud of this chamber. When we look at its history, the reason it was introduced and the basis on which it has been developed, we should have in our minds that we should preserve the Senate as it was originally intended and as it is presently functioning, that is, as a States House. Once we depart from that we can lead ourselves into very dangerous areas.
– That is not so.
– The honourable senator may laugh about it. Mention was made of the other Territories. Once we change the reason for the establishment of the Senate- to protect the States- and allow the Territories to be represented, we do not know where things will end. If all the Territories are represented after a period, ultimately, with governments giving more and more representation to them, the States could be outvoted, and that would destroy the purpose for which this chamber was established. I oppose the Bill because I believe that it is a downward movement so far as the Senate is concerned, and so far as relations with and representation of the States are concerned. In those circumstances I oppose the Bill, as I opposed the previous Bill. I sincerely hope that when the vote is taken the majority will be in opposition to the Bill.
– I will be brief in reply because I do not intend to stray as far from the Bill as several Opposition members did. Senator Wood brought out some of the old shibboleths which might have been talked about in the 1 890s but which were never practised in this House. One of them is that the Senate is a States House. From very early in this century the Senate has been a Party House. Whether it is good or bad, that is the fact. He talked about States versus Territories, as though there is some inherent difference in them. A person is a person whether he lives in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory or one of the States. As Senator McLaren pointed out, the moment a person moves from a State to a Territory he loses certain rights. He loses the right to vote at Senate elections and the right to vote in referenda. Then we heard this story: Where will we stop? We heard the old voice of reaction- ‘We must not take one step forward; look where it might lead us’. (Quorum formed). I was dealing with the question which has been raised several times tonight about what happens to the other Territories if we give Senate representation to two of the Territories. Honourable senators opposite talked about giving representation to a Territory in Antarctica. If it were desired to give representation to any further Territories, a Bill would have to go through both Houses of Parliament. No sensible parliament would give representation to Heard Island which does not have anybody living on it. That is taking things to the extreme.
Senator Wright said that we should not be upsetting the fundamental constitutional concept. Senator Wood took this a little further and said that the constitutional situation is that senators represent people in the States. Section 122 of the Constitution is very clear. I will leave out a few words in the middle of that section because they are irrelevant to what I am about to say. With the deletion of those words that section states:
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any Territory . . . and may allow the representation of such Territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
Those great people who wrote the Constitutionthe Constitution to which people tonight have displayed great adulation- realised at that time what the situation would be in the years ahead. Tonight the Government is relying on the Constitution and is putting forward a perfectly constitutional situation to meet the times in which we live. It seems strange that Senator Wright, who comes from Tasmania, should talk about what a bad thing this is. In Tasmania 239,058 people are enrolled. They are represented by 10 senators, 5 members of the House of Representatives, 35 members of the State House of Assembly and 19 Legislative Councillors. By simple division we find that there is one representative for every 3,464 people enrolled in Tasmania. The Parliament already has agreed that there should be an extra member for the Australian Capital Territory and when that Bill becomes operative it will mean that there will be 2 members of the House of Representatives each representing 48,000 people in the Australian Capital Territory. There is a big difference between 48,000 and 3,464 people.
I do not want to go through all the side issues raised in this debate. The proposition is a simple one. It has been rejected by the Senate on one occasion. The original Bill went back to the House of Representatives and a new Bill is being considered tonight. The situation is a fairly simple one. There has been talk about all sorts of things, such as the thin edge of the wedge; that a Territory is something different; and that a person living in a Territory should be regarded as a second class citizen because he does not live in a State. All those sort of arguments boil down to one thing. The situation is that we have a bicameral system of government and Bills go through both Houses of the Parliament. In the House of Representatives there is a member representing the Australian Capital Territory and another member representing the Northern Territory. They can defend matters and put forward their points of view in that House, but when Bills come to this place their points of view are no longer heard. The matter is quite simple. The crux of the matter is that the Government wants to give to those 2 Territories some representation as is allowed and foreseen under the Constitution and the combined Opposition is saying that that is not to happen. It is as simple as that.
There has been talk about abolishing the Senate and damaging the Senate. I cannot follow the logic of those arguments when the intention is to strengthen the Senate by putting more people in it. By some queer twist of the mind this logic comes out at the end of the machine: ‘Ah, but by strengthening the Senate you really are weakening it and you are going to abolish if. Everybody knows the constitutional position perfectly well. It is almost impossible to get rid of the Senate. By passing this Bill we will be strengthening the Senate, not weakening it. I come back to the point that the position is very simple, apart from all the side issues introduced tonight. The 2 members in the House of Representatives who represent these 2 Territories can debate Bills affecting their areas. Is the Opposition going to allow the voice of those 2 Territories to be heard when such Bills come into the second part of the Parliament, the Senate? We say that the time has come for this, on a population basis and on the basis of equality. The Opposition says that that is not to be. We will leave the matter to the vote. I repeat that it is a simple proposition. It is a logical proposition. People have stood here and in the other place and said: ‘Yes, we agree with it but we are not going to vote for it’. They say it is not the time. They say that this Bill is the thin edge of the wedge and that we will give the same thing to Heard Island or somewhere else.
The proposition is simple. Before us tonight we have 2 Bills providing for 2 more senators. Senator Wood said that this should not be done to assist some political party. How will it assist a political party when under the proportional representation system it is absolutely certain that the representatives will come from each of the major parties? How can the honourable senator say that this Bill will assist any political party? The old subject of politics has been dragged in without very much logic. The situation is that these 2 Bills are designed simply to give Senate representation to both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. They do that and no more.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 9 October (vide page 1065), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 13 November (vide page 1733).
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears-
Australian Capital Territory’ includes the Jervis Bay Territory;
– In relation to this clause the Opposition has an amendment which it wishes to move. We wish to add to the definitions a definition relating to the Australian Education Council in the Bill. However, in view of the fact that this amendment is related to an amendment to a later clause it is my suggestion that we defer consideration of this amendment until we consider amendment No. 5 in the list of amendments which has been circulated. It is my further suggestion that the two of them, that is amendment No. 1 and amendment No. 5, be taken together as the one hinges upon the other. It will simplify the proceedings of the Senate if they are taken together.
– The Government has no objection to the course which has been suggested by Senator Rae in dealing with the first amendment which he proposes. But because it is an amendment that is consequential upon the other amendment to which Senator Rae has drawn the attention of the Committee, I suggest that this matter should be disposed of when we deal with amendment No. 5.
– That was my suggestion.
-The Government agrees with that.
-Is it the wish of the Committee that amendment No. 1 be postponed? There being no objection, it is so ordered.
– I do not know what procedure is being followed and what the intention of the Government is. We understood that the Schools Commission Bill was the Bill on the notice paper for debate today. In the circumstances what I think would be welcomed by the Opposition is an explanation of the Government’s intentions for the balance of this day. It may be there is a perfectly valid explanation, but not knowing what it is, we seek some explanation.
– I understand that the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) desires to lift the Senate and I agree with that.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Principles are involved in this. Firstly, I do not support the motion for adjournment. I was never consulted about it. No one discussed it with me though apparently there is agreement between the Leaders. I suppose the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has the power to move for the adjournment of the Senate. However, Senator Keeffe wishes to raise certain matters tonight. He believes that an attack was made upon him in the Queensland Parliament which he seeks to refute and to which he wishes to give a public explanation on the motion for the adjournment tonight. Of course, when he wants this right we should not let him remain under a cloud for that period. Without his knowledge the adjournment motion has been moved and of course Senator Keeffe is not in the chamber at this moment. I have sent for him, asking whether he can get here because I know it is important to him. What concerns Senator Keeffe is that an attack has been made upon him relating to visits he made to Aboriginal settlements. What he intends to say, I do not know, but I should think, as the Minister responsible for Aboriginal settlements, that if there is anything in Senator Keeffe ‘s protest which perhaps affects my Department, I should reply. However, through trying to do the right thing I have forfeited the right to speak on a second occasion, unless after Senator Keeffe has spoken tonight leave is granted for me to say anything that I might want to say on this question. But let me just say that I do not know how many more this affects. This is a case in which, I believe, some publicity has appeared in the Press and Senator Keeffe thinks that he may be cited in a misstatement, possibly a scandalous statement, so he wants the opportunity of public reply tonight. I hope I have done a service in prolonging the adjournment of the Senate to permit him to fulfil his intention.
– I did not realise that we were going to break early this evening; I had anticipated that we would continue until 11 o’clock. My notes are being sent to me now. I want to refer to something that was said in the Queensland Parliament today in relation to Aboriginal affairs. I think it is of some significance that the State Minister for Aboriginal Affairs referred to an incident that happened on the Lockhart Reserve. He referred also to Palm Island. To get the record straight- I do not propose to detain the Senate for any great length of time- I want to read into the record some repudiation of the statements that were made. The Australian Government has set out to establish a condition in the community to enable Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to regain their status as human beings. It is a great pity that Minister Hewitt, who made one of the replies today, and Mr Row, the Country Party member for Hinchinbrook, probably aided and abetted by the Premier of Queensland, decided to keep Aborigines in a state of subjection and degradation.
The Australian Government has reached agreement with Western Australian and South Australia, is making more than satisfactory progress in New South Wales and Victoria, and has laid down a blueprint for the Northern Territory that will allow the Commonwealth Administration to legislate and administer for the benefit of Aborigines. In Queensland there have been recent glimmers of co-operation but these have been repudiated today by the petty outburst of an incompetent Minister and the Country Party cipher for Hinchinbrook. Neither has made a real attempt to ascertain the real problems of Aborigines, and both apparently are showing signs of trying to hold up the Australian Government ‘s program. The childish accusation that I am a Black Power advocate is just too crazy for words. If by the description ‘Black Power’ these gentlemen are implying that I am advocating equal rights for Aborigines and Islanders, then I am happy to be so classified. But if the implication is that I advocate violence and bloodshed, then these 2 gentlemen are themselves the agents of that minority in the community which leads the groups supporting the white backlash. I am sorry that this has happened, and I appeal to the State Minister and his Government to co-operate in providing justice for the black people of this country which has been denied to them for 200 years.
One of the allegations that was apparently made today is that I was in some way responsible for the bashing of the manager on the Lockhart River Reserve. The implication in the statements made in the State Parliament is that he has resigned as a result of this. I want to say that Mr John Maher, for whom I have the greatest respect, and who is a very capable officer in the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs, had decided to resign anyway and it was only a matter of time before he left the Reserve. The State Minister said the bashing was the most recent of a long line of disturbances caused by radicals and troublemakers visiting reserves. That inference is against me. I wish to make it quite clear that I visited Lockhart recently for the first time for a number of years in company with other members of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment. The 2 senators who accompanied me on that visit were Senators Little and Bonner. I have no doubt that they will support me if I say that at no stage did I hold any meetings to create any sort of problems on that particular reserve.
The Minister further said that troublemakers were going from settlement to settlement stirring up problems. I think there is probably an inference to be drawn there- in fact I am sure there is an inference- that I was one of those responsible. Probably there is also a veiled reference to Miss Bobbi Sykes who recently went from Sydney to Palm Island as a representative of the Aboriginal Medical Service. Bobbi Sykes is a person who has a tremendous reputation as a worker among black people and is certainly not the type of agitator that is referred to by the Queensland Minister.
Mr Row, who is the comparatively new member for the State seat of Hinchinbrook, precipitated this question and answer business in State Parliament by asking the Minister for Conservation, Marine and Aboriginal Affairs whether I had visited Palm Island Reserve recently or at about the time of the recent disturbances. At no time during the recent disturbances was I ever on Palm Island. Mr Row wanted to know also whether I had worn the red headband of the Black Power movement. The red headband symbolises the blood that has been spread by Aborigines over a period of many years. No white person has a real right to wear this particular symbol. This, at least indicates the crass ignorance of Mr Row. The Minister said that he did not know that I had visited the island but that, if Mr Row had said that I had and that I was a member of the Black Power movement, he had no reason to doubt it. I regret very much this particular inference. Again I feel that this is an attempt by the State Minister to kill that new spirit of co-operation which apparently is starting to show itself between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government. I think it is very regrettable that this man should have adopted this attitude.
Quite recently I had a quite lengthy interview with the State Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs in Queensland in which nothing but friendship was expressed. We talked about pilot studies for some reserves. I agreed with the State Director that some problems had to be settled at ministerial level between the Australian Government Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Queensland Minister who dealt with Aboriginal affairs. Again I should like to have on the record that the last time I visited the Palm Island Reserve was in September of this year. I went there with the full and unanimous co-operation of the Palm Island Aboriginal Council. I went there with the complete permission also of the Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs at that time, Mr Bryant. I took with me a task force of experts and we spent some two and a half to three days on the Island. While we were there we had the utmost co-operation from State officials, from members of the Council and from all members of the 1,300 population with whom we came in contact. We examined a number of propositions which could be of value to the people on that Island.
Among the recommendations which are currently being examined by the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and his Department are a fishing development which will involve quite a number of Aborigines, agriculture development which is a long range planning project, an oyster farm which will have not a great amount of personal involvement but which as a long term project could be highly lucrative, and possibly a minor tourist project. (Quorum formed). At the same time I am prepared to pay a tribute. I have been critical in the past of the lack of development on reserves such as Bamaga, Cherbourg and other places. I wish to say that on recent visits to Cherbourg the development has been excellent. The same applies to Bamaga and to a lesser degree to Woorabinda and one or two other areas in Queensland. But we should look at the disadvantages that can be seen in other places. I am not saying this because of a recent sighting, but because of continued sightings over a period of years. There has been an attempt to take over the Aurukun reserve by mining interests. I have no doubt that, unfortunately, this is being done with the co-operation of the State Minister dealing with Aboriginal affairs.
The tragedy of Weipa has been written about so often in so many volumes that there is no need for me to recapitulate the things which have happened in that area. The Torres Strait Islands have become one of the scandals of 1973. 1 am not referring only to the many arguments, backwards and forwards, that have taken place over the turtle project; I am referring particularly to the border dispute which some people in Queensland wish to perpetuate because of the highly prospective area that exists in the Torres Strait in relation to the possible exploration for and exploitation of hydrocarbons. We will not achieve a great deal until both the Torres Strait Island Act and the Queensland Aboriginal Act are abolished. I shall be publishing in the next few weeks a letter written by a highly respected member of the Aboriginal community setting out in detail his attitudes to the Queensland Act.
Let me make reference to what I feel are some of the background problems to which the current Queensland Minister is apparently now subscribing. If he did not subscribe to those problems there would have been no need for his attack on me and other people in Queensland Parliament today. History tells us that the period after 1885 was the beginning of missionary ventures in the far north of Queensland. The first of these was established by Lutherans in 1 886 at Cape Bedford, which is just north of Cooktown, and at the Blomfield River, which is now known as the Bloomfield River, south of Cooktown. At about the same time a third mission was established in another area. It has been said, and it was said at that time, that the contact with whites and others had been disastrous. The answer therefore was to control and minimise such contact. Though in the north more missions were eventually established than Mr Meston, who was then prominent in this field, would have considered necessary or desirable, there was little direct governmental activity in the area for many years and the Government concerned itself primarily with the problems of Aborigines and part Aborigines in the settled areas.
Mr Meston ‘s proposals for the scattered remnants of quiet tribes in the settled areas were based on the same premise that contact was demoralising and had to be restricted. He argued as follows: the Aboriginals scattered among the settled districts and wandering about the towns . . . require collection on suitable reserves, complete isolation from contact with the civilised race to save them from that small section of Whites more degraded than any savage; kept free from drink and opium and disease, the young people and the able bodied taught industrious habits, and to raise their own food supplies; the people being decently cared for . . .
The collection of Aborigines onto reserves and their total exclusion from towns, except in properly regulated employment, entailed legislation to end their unfettered liberty to roam about and mix with whites. It would then be considered necessary to appoint a chief protector and assistant protector, and to confer on them power to send Aborigines to reserves and keep them there. The utterances of the State Minister today would indicate that the general attitude to Aborigines has not changed.
The secessionist movement that has been gathering some sort of support in Queensland, particularly from members of the National Party, is to be deplored. If there is an intention behind the utterances of the Minister to take away the Aborigines from the Australian sphere and to keep them isolated, then I think it is to be regretted and deplored. My own family has had particular problems in its dealings with one particular Minister. This will be the subject of discussions in another place removed from Parliament probably some time this year or next year. It is regrettable that because one has differences of opinion with State people they want to continue their attacks in a sphere far removed from their own arc of influence.
The policy of the Queensland Government and the Queensland legislation, some of which I mentioned a moment ago- I refer particularly to the Act and to those things which were done many years ago- would indicate that the Queensland Government has a desire either to retain this sort of control or, in cases where we have moved away from it, to return to it. I believe that there ought to be a spirit of cooperation between the Australian Government and every State government in this country. I think that probably the nicest thing that Queensland could do at this stage would be to co-operate by abolishing both of the Acts to which I have referred. In the first place, this would restore dignity to the Aborigines. It would give them the opportunity to make their own decisions, to plan their own lives and to run their own communities. It is said that the councils on the reserves have this power; but when the real crunch comes, when we get down to the nitty gritty of it, they do not have this power. Always the State Director or his nominee- it is largely at the reserve manager level that this power is exercised- has the power of veto and it is being exercised in many ways.
If the Acts are removed and dignity is restored to the black people, then dignity will also be restored to the whites, because many of the officers of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal Affairs are men of integrity. They are men who are trying to do the right thing by the Aborigines, but always they are weighed down by the system. They are subject to all its shortcomings. Consequently they are not able to do the things that they as human beings want to do. I suppose there are possible answers if we want to go the whole way, namely, to petition for the removal of the State Minister. While we are about it maybe we could petition also for the removal of the Premier who seems to have some sort of obsession that there is something wrong with the Australian Government.
– What right have you to argue this in the Federal Parliament? Why do you not get someone to argue it up there in the State Parliament?
– If Senator Wright would make his interjection in a clear voice I would understand what he is trying to say. His words are difficult to understand.
– I have listened to you with patience. You are just a muddling, confused -
– Whether Senator Wright likes it or not, the white man’s problem in relation to the Aboriginal cause is a national one. It has nothing to do with a parochial or sectional approach. Every State Government and the Australian Government ought to be co-operating to. solve it. It is useless for the honourable senator to say that it ought to be argued out on a State basis. It is an Australian problem, and the sooner he realises it the better off we all will be. But to counter the rather obscure but intendedtobenasty note in my speech, may I conclude on a light note by reading a poem written by a friend of mine who refers in these terms to the Premier of Queensland:
Our Leader who art at Kingaroy
Hollow be thy name.
Thy Government come thy Government go
For sure at the next election.
Give us each day more silence please
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who libel against you.
And lead us not into partition
But deliver us to Whitlam for his is the
Kingdom the power and the glory for ever and
With that light note I make this final appeal: It is the responsibility of the Australian Government to ensure that Aborigines and Islanders in this country are given the dignity that is their right. It is the responsibility of all State governments to co-operate with the Australian Government. I deplore the utterances of the State Minister today in which he sets out to denigrate me. On other occasions he has denigrated other members of the Labor Party because of their devotion to the Aboriginal cause. I hope that this is the last salvo that will be fired in the State House and that in future the bonds of friendship between this Government and the State Government will be strengthened in the interests of the Aboriginal and the white people.
– It is an odd circumstance that the adjournment of the Senate which was moved in such an impulsive fashion tonight by Senator Murphy without regard to the Leader of the House, Senator Cavanagh, should provide Senator Keeffe, in the first place, with an opportunity to make his submissions and now me to make a submission to the Senate on a serious matter. By way of preface, may I say that I would be recreant to that peace of mind that possesses me if I did not reflect in a philosophical way on just how the Senate can be pushed around and manoeuvred by the impulsive, irrational behaviour of Senator Murphy. Having been removed from the responsibility of leading and of managing the procedures of this House, and the Government in its wisdom having relegated those duties to Senator Cavanagh, Senator Murphy at 10 minutes past 10 tonight impulsively intervened- I think it was the first time since the dinner suspension of the sitting- and moved the motion for the adjournment of the Senate 50 minutes before the usual time for the conclusion of business. It was an arbitrary instrusion that people who had planned their evening in order to contribute to the Senate’s work ought to resent, and I resent it on many counts.
I protest against this impulsive instrusion, which is so characteristic of Senator Murphy and so subversive of the stable conduct of the business of the Senate. It is a disgrace to the Senate, and I think is a disruption not only of the procedures on his side of the chamber but certainly of the orderly flow of business of the Senate. I note that Senator Murphy has come into the chamber. It is just as well that he should know face to face that I think he brings indignity upon the Senate by this superior, impulsive, unjustifiable intervention and curtailing of the business of the Senate without rhyme or reason and without reference to the responsible Leader of the House who was appointed by the Government.
I now have an opportunity to put forward some views that perhaps would be compressed on another occasion on a matter that has been on my mind all day. It relates to an existing industry that has been a great pride of Tasmania now for 70 or 80 years. I refer to the apple industry. I think that it is much more real that we invite interest to it than appropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars to turtle farms whose chief benefits seem to be to provide an overhead for a few Europeans and $30 a week for a meagre number of” natives labouring in them.
There is a problem in the apple industry to which I invite the attention of the Ministers present. It is well known that the difficulties of the apple industry have been bearing down on the orchardists of Tasmania, forcing a reduction in the number of growers from 1,200 to 1,400 growers some five or six years ago to about 800 growers last year and, it is feared, to about 600 growers this year. The insurmountable problems are growing by reason of increased freight costs, wharfage charges and other stray costs, including labour. They are exaggerating the cost to product ratio to such a degree that for these growers to take advantage of the market in the northern hemisphere in the 3 months when fruit is not available there and to get the fruit there at a cost economical enough to return to the grower some degree of profit is gradually growing in difficulty.
It is in that context that this Government last year saw fit, having regard to the general economy, to revalue the Australian dollar. This action deprived the Tasmanian exporter of a considerable margin of the European price to which he was entitled on his market. The Government repeated the dose in May. After the revaluation of December occurred, the Government eager to court popularity, and with the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) resident in southern Tasmania, announced that it would pay revaluation compensation for this industry. It said that it would pay revaluation compensation at the rate of 30c per bushel, which is only a fraction of the degree to which revaluation reduced the price per bushel. But then in pathetic blindness, following a shibboleth of so-called need, the Government limited the amount payable to each grower to $1,500. That is to say, the uppermost limit for compensation in respect of export losses was set at 5,000 bushels. Of course, there are the productive growers, the growers who employ the greatest number of employees, who would export 30,000 bushels to 50,000 bushels.
It is idiocy to suggest that compensation for revaluation should be limited for individual growers to 5,000 bushels. That is to say, the Government would pay 30c per bushel up to 5,000 bushels, with an uppermost limit of $1,500. The man who has grown 40,000 bushels of apples, picked them, sprayed them and transported them to the wharf” has a terrific wage bill. If he is cut off from the proper expectancy of the English markets by the percentage of revaluation that the Government decided was required in the general interest, that arbitrary limitation of $1,500 is an act of gross ineptitude. So on it has gone. These orchardists have overdrafts and are now paying interest at the new fangled rate that has been manufactured by the Labor Government of 8.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent. Many of them are still unpaid even the revaluation compensation on up to 1,500 bushels. Today I have been provided with that degree of dispensation which almost looks to be prompted by an idea that someone in an office in Canberra -
-Senator Wright, is it $ 1 ,500 or 1,500 bushels?
-The upper limit is $ 1 ,500.
– You said ‘bushels’.
– It is made up by the assumed value of compensation of 30c a bushel on a maximum of 5,000 bushels.
– You said 1,500 bushels.
– Thank you. I am obliged to the honourable senator. I was proceeding to another point. In the long delay during which this payment has been withheld, orchardists are paying overdrafts at exorbitant rates of interest. But today it has been revealed to me that somebody in Canberra in an office, not in Parliament, not so far as I can learn even with ministerial approval and not so far as I can learn with Government confirmation, has devised a scheme whereby, if a partnership is exporting a crop, the view is taken in this edict from the office that the shares of the male partners who actively participate in the orcharding activities are to be proportionate to their shareholding. I do not know what that means. If a partnership of 3 male partners has an export crop of 15,000 bushels, does it mean that each male partner is entitled to $ 1 ,500? The next provision states: a wife of a partner is to be considered as one ‘grower’ unit with her husband
Those of my Tasmanian colleagues who are in the Senate chamber will know how some of the orchardists wives labour with equal efficacy with their menfolk. But we have this Government parading Bills of Rights which proclaim that there shall be no discrimination between sexes. But in the case of a husband and wife partnership the Government says that in no case shall the partnership recieve more than one unit maximised at $1,500. There is a further singular rule that is expressed to say that single womenfolk sharing in the partnership, or company in this case, are to qualify for assistance only if actively participating in orchard activities.
– Do those women pay their taxes the same as men, senator?
– Yes, I would think so. Whether they are employees or whether they are partners they work like men and they pay their taxes like men. But the idiocy of limiting this compensation to an arbitrary limit of $1,500, assuming a 5,000-bushel crop, is revealed by this attempt to spawn discrimination between people who are engaged in a joint association in producing and marketing a crop. That is the Government’s ideas of partnership. I wonder what the Government would say about a company which consists of a husband and wife and 2 grown-up sons who are all equal shareholders and all derive remuneration- four working partners in a company producing for export 40,000 bushels? There is nothing to suggest that a company is entitled to anything in excess of $1,500- a maximum of 5,000 bushels.
I rise to draw attention to this matter in the hope that the people who read what criticism I have had to make will bring some light of reason to the quantification of this compensation. It bears upon us heavily to realise the responsibility we have when rules by which the payment of compensation is made to industry come before us to ensure that regulations are promulgated and that we have the right to review and disallow them so as to ensure that equity both in regard to the maximum amount of compensation and its distribution should be maintained according to the collective viewpoint of this chamber.
– It is the length of the Chancellor’s foot at the moment.
-At the present time it is the length not of the Chancellor’s foot but of some foot down in the office of the Department of Primary Industry promulgated over the signature of the First Assistant Secretary by way of letter which, but for the vigilance of this chamber, would never come before it for review.
I rise tonight to indicate that when the appropriation for this matter comes before us for my part, come hell or high water, the equity of it must be justified. I will take this stand so long as I have time provided by an adventitious adjournment for resistance to the avalanche of a series of new Bills. I hope that we will proceed as a Parliament and provide this compensation according to rules for which Parliament has a responsibility and that we will assume that responsibility by which we insist that the rules be formulated in such a way that we have the authority immediately to disallow them before we are confronted with an omnibus Appropriation Bill.
-I rise to speak on the matter raised by Senator Keeffe as I was one of the senators who accompanied him to Lockhart River, Bamaga, Weipa, Iron Range which I understand is located near Lockhart River, and to Rockhampton. The Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment visited all these places in one week. The Committee consisted of Senator Keeffe, as Chairman, Senator Bonner and myself. We were accompanied by the secretary and the assistant-secretary of the Committee. According to my diary the Committee arrived as Lockhart River on Tuesday 30 October. If my memory serves me correctly when we arrived we were met by the then manager of the reservation who was seeing his wife and child off for Sydney. I had the impression that they were going to Sydney on leave although I understood that the manager was not going back to that area. Statements were made in the Queensland Parliament about the visit of the Committee to the Lockhart River area on 30 October. Nothing occurred on that day that could have in any way incited anybody to any acts of violence or anything else against the managers of the reserve. Nothing occurred that would have caused anybody to resign. Feelings were most friendly and co-operation was excellent as it was throughout the whole visit. As a matter of fact, the only people who were entitled to be short-tempered at all were members of the staff of the Committee, although they may have been responsible to some degree for this because the program they set us meant that we often started at 6 o’clock in the morning and finished up still interviewing Aborigines and talking to people sometimes as late as II o ‘clock at night. It was a week of intensive work for the Committee.
On all the occasions when I have accompanied Senator Keeffe anywhere among the Aboriginal people he has behaved himself with the utmost decorum and has very properly represented this Senate and the Committee. He and I may not agree completely on all attitudes and aspects of the problem as we see it. I do not associate myself with his opinions and the conclusions that he has arrived at on different issues. I feel that it is the duty of Senate committees to find out information and not to commit itself to drawing conclusions as it may appear that the Committee is presenting itself as being already prejudiced in particular areas. I denounce as completely untrue any suggestion that Senator Keeffe acted in any way without complete propriety and decorum when I was with him on Tuesday 30 October when we visited Lockhart River, on any occasion at any of the areas that we visited during that week or on any other occasion when the Senate Committee on Social Environment has conducted its investigations. In that regard I support what Senator Keeffe has said to the Senate tonight.
-The famous English statesman Gladstone referred to another statesman, Disraeli, as being intoxicated by the exuberance of his own verbosity. I think that the time that has been wasted in the Senate since the question was put that the Senate adjourn has been the result of exuberance of verbosity. Senator Wright seems to be obsessed by a pique and almost a jealousy of Senator Murphy. He showed this when he said that Senator Murphy had come into this place to adjourn the
Senate. But this was an agreement that had been made between the leaders in the Senate.
– What was the agreement?
– The agreement related to the adjournment of the Senate.
– I think that the honourable senator ought to be more careful about what he says.
– In another place tonight the honourable senator’s equivalent -
– Was thrown out of the place.
– Order! Senator O’Byrne, you cannot refer to what has happened in another place.
- Mr Speaker in trying to deal with the situation said: ‘I hope another Prime Minister does not come here as a visitor this year’.
– Order! You may not refer to a debate current in another place.
– I would like to draw attention to the situation. We are all under strain. Some of us, like Senator Wright, are getting old. Some like to keep themselves in the limelight like the old stag at bay. They like to make a point when they can, and the opportunity for them to make a point does not come very often. It is now exactly 11 o’clock, the time that the Senate would normally adjourn. Nothing has been gained because Senator Wright raised another matter- the apple industry in Tasmania. The apple industry would be indicative of the same decline that there has been in his lifetime. He lived in an earlier age of private enterprise and exploitation. He spoke of the decline in the number of orchardists from 1,400 to 800 and to 600. Some of his colleagues in the south of Tasmania, such as the Jones organisation, IXL, used the Tasmanian orchardists while it suited them to do so. They then transferred their capital to South Africa, used cheap labour and found all the ways to penetrate the European market. There are no other markets for Tasmanian applies in Europe now.
Senator Wright speaks of the awful shipping and transport situation. He has had a fixation about transport and wharfies over the last 20 years. He hates wharfies and unionists. I wonder what sustains him, he hates so many people. I thought Senator Wright would be a man who would love people, but he hates so many people that I wonder that it does not consume him. The marketing authorities in Tasmania have been very lax. They were agents. They were in-off merchants, 2.5 per centers, commission people. They have seen the industry go down and have done nothing to improve it. I was in the United States of America a couple of years ago and on the west coast they were saying: ‘If only we could get Tasmanian apples. We could absorb the lot here’. But when I returned and mentioned this I was told: ‘There is no direct shipping’. The Tasmanian marketing people were still trying to sell them on the Continent. All the movement was towards the European Common Market, but those countries were coming together in an economic bloc and did not want outsiders to come in because they could get things from South Africa and other countries cheaper than they could from the other side of the world. This is the world that Senator Wright is still living in- the past. We have to live in the present and we have to realise that there must be a new approach to the marketing of our apples in Tasmania. We have to find markets in our own country. Even in Tasmania one cannot get a decent apple. These parasites who have been living on the backs of the Tasmanian orchardists for generations would not even allow decent apples to go to the shops for tourists to buy. We get the specks, the seconds, the cast-offs in our own shops in Tasmania.
– The windfalls.
– That is right, the windfalls. We bought them in our own shops. This is the way in which the industry has been exploited. No wonder the number of orchardists has fallen from 1,400 to 800 and to 600. Senator Wright now is blaming us for not keeping them going. He and I for the last 25 years have been concerned about the same thing, the small fruit industry- the magnificent tasty black currants, the red currants, the raspberries, the strawberries, the gooseberries, magnificent Tasmanian fruit. There is none now because H. Jones and Company Pty Ltd monopolised them and when it suited the company all the trees were grubbed out. It did not suit the monopolists. It has been obvious that these people are going out of business, and what annoys me is that Senator Wright now comes along and wants to blame the Government for it. I do not think that the present situation is our fault. It is as much the fault of Senator Wright because his Party was in Government for 23 years and he was a Minister of the Crown for a period. He was a man of influence and a man of substance in the community -
– I achieved a stabilisation scheme for those growers, which your Minister for Primary Industry said was the most generous scheme for primary producers in the Commonwealth.
– I will give the honourable senator a good mark for that. First class. Very good. An honourable senator suggests Senator Wright deserves an O.B.E. I suggest he should be Sir Reginald Wright. I think it is really time the Senate adjourned.
– I rise only to associate myself with the sentiments that have been expounded by Senator Little on the conduct of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment and its investigation into the conditions of Aborigines. I was not present when the Committee visited the Lockhart River region, but I have been with Senator Keeffe and my other Committee colleagues on at least 3 other visits that that Committee has made to Queensland. Evidence taken by the Committee can be at times highly charged with emotion. Senator Keeffe has been scrupulously fair in insisting that people buttress assertions with facts. Also, I am not unaware of the quite unfortunate underground movement that has operated against Senator Keeffe. On one occasion, on another assignment, I visited Mt Isa. My visit had nothing to do with the work of that Committee. I met a couple of officers of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal Affairs. It was obvious to me that they had a completely false image of Senator Keeffe.
I go on record as saying that the Committee has not jumped to any false conclusions. On the contrary, Senator Keeffe has had to use a high degree of firmness when he felt a witness was going to extreme lengths when appearing before the Committee. The Committee has operated at a most objective level. None of the utterances in the Queensland Parliament do a service to the Aboriginal cause. I do not think that they have done a service to the standard that we would expect from any parliament, even the Queensland Parliament.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Order! The Minister does not need to seek leave.
– Yes, I do. I have spoken to the adjournment motion already.
– Very well. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Those honourable senators who were present earlier will recall that I spoke to the adjournment motion for the purpose of enabling Senator Keeffe to enter the chamber to ventilate a grievance which he told me this afternoon he wished to raise on the adjournment. The sudden proposal of the adjournment motion caught Senator Keeffe unawares. He did not know that the motion was to be proposed at that time. As he had informed me of the matter that he was to raise- it affects my portfolio- I suggested at the time of the adjournment motion being proposed that I might seek the opportunity to make a statement later as I had not moved the adjournment motion and would have no right to reply later; my short intervention to speak at that time denied me the right to speak on a second occasion.
Three questions have been raised tonight, not simply the matter foreshadowed by Senator Keeffe. I think that I am the Minister who should reply to them. One relates to Aboriginal affairs. Another deals with the action of an honourable senator in moving the adjournment motion. I will say no more about that matter. I was the one humiliated by that action. It may well be that it would have been preferable for me not to prolong the sitting of the Senate when that motion was moved. I think I had enough support to defeat the adjournment motion at that time. However, it is too late now to change what happened. I do not wish to go further into that matter.
I turn to the question of Lockhart River. When I was informed today that Senator Keeffe intended to speak on this subject, I contacted my Department which communicated with the Queensland authorities to try to obtain some information on the subject. One should be careful what one says about the question because the Commonwealth hopes to take over from the States the policy and planning of Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia. Many of the schemes which attempted to do this have fallen down. I have visited Western Australia and South Australia and seen the responsible Ministers. As a result, in the very near future, that planning and policy will be passed over to the Australian Government. I have had discussions with Mr Dickie from Victoria. Despite the fact that it was thought that there would be no cooperation, I do not think it is impossible to get complete co-operation with Victoria. I think that Victoria will be handing over those powers to the Commonwealth. In the brief time that I was in New South Wales I spoke to Mr Maddison, the
Minister for Justice. I think that as a result of my visit we can expect greatly improved relationships between the New South Wales police and the Aboriginal community.
– It seems that some people are more persuasive than others.
-Mr Maddison was very anxious to try to do something about a better system of co-operation between the two. I do not know whether it was my persuasion or his reasonableness.
– I think it was your persuasion.
-Do not flatter me too much because you do not know to what extent I might go. One has to be careful, not having gone to Queensland at this stage, to say nothing that would possibly act to the detriment of future negotiation in Queensland.
Let me say that the publication in the Queensland Press of the parliamentary discussion would suggest that there were no facts on which to base any allegations, but that there was a deliberate plan of question and answer to denigrate Senator Keeffe. I do not know the motive behind it. The report of the parliamentary discussion states that Minister Hewitt stated that department officers had gone to Lockhart Mission for Aborigines on Cape York after the bashing of a mission manager who is resigning. There is no suggestion that Senator Keeffe was ever there. The report continues:
Hewitt said bashing was the most recent of a long line of disturbances caused by radicals and trouble makers visiting settlements.
There was no suggestion of who the radicals and trouble makers were. There is no suggestion that Senator Keeffe was one of them. Because they had no knowledge that Senator Keeffe was at Lockhart River they had to concoct something else. They said that it may have happened after Senator Keeffe ‘s visit. The report also states:
Trouble makers were going from settlement to settlement stirring up problems. Row, Country Party member of Hinchinbrook, asked Hewitt if Senator Keeffe had visited Palm Island recently.
There is no mention about Lockhart River where there was a disturbance, and the manager resigned. The report continues:
Row asked Hewitt if Senator Keeffe had visited Palm Island recently about the time of the recent disturbances and whether he had worn the red head-band of the Black Power Movement.
Senator Keeffe has stated the significance of the red head-band. The report continues:
Hewitt said he did not know if Keeffe had visited the Island.
That is the end of it. He did not know. He could not link up any disturbance on the Island with Keeffe. Because it was an attempt to attack Senator Keeffe, he went on. The report continues:
Hewitt said that he did not know if Keeffe had visited the Island recently, but if Row said Keeffe was a member of Black Power he had no reason to doubt him.
So Senator Keeffe is supposed to be a member of the black power movement. He is said to be somewhat responsible for an assault that occurred at the Lockhart River Mission at a time when there is no proof that he was there. It is only because Mr Row, a Country Party member, asked whether Senator Keeffe had visited Torrens Island that we can see the purpose of the attack. Despite what relations it may strain, the whole purpose of this report has to be shown.
On the facts as I can find them, with reference to Mr Max Hawkins’s inquiry, we have obtained the following information from National Aboriginal Consultative Committee sources at Cairns -and I take it that Max Hawkins was an NACC officer in Cairns- based on an account by 2 Aborigines from Lockhart River: On the evening of 13 November, a resident Aboriginal who had been drinking wine went to the canteen and asked for and received a drink of beer. The manager entered, told the barman not to serve the Aboriginal any more beer and pushed him outside. The manager followed the Aboriginal outside and was hit two or three times. A brawl developed on the ground. The manager retired to the mission office with bruising, but there was no evidence of facial cuts. Two policemen arrived on 14 November and escorted the manager to Cairns. It is reported that he has resigned.
Under Queensland legislation control of canteens is by the Director of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. The manager was therefore probably within his legal rights in directing the barman to refuse service. The Aborigines might dispute this. I would believe that he was not within his rights in manhandling a person, if indeed he did so. The circumstances of this case might be the reverse of what has been alleged. But this incident has no connection with the activities of Senator Keeffe, who we have been told by those who accompanied him on the delegation behaved respectfully, courteously and in an orderly way. I do not know how Senator Keeffe has offended the Country Party of Queensland, but there was a deliberate attempt in the Queensland Parliament to discredit Senator Keeffe, to blame him for incidents that occured when he was not present. It is quite unfair for Mr Row to blame the troubles on Senator Keeffe. His visit occurred on 26-29 September, whereas the trouble occurred in November. Senator Keeffe ‘s visit was at the request of Mr Bryant, and he and his team drew up a series of proposals which are being examined by officers of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I think that shows to what depths some politicians will sink for reasons which are unknown to me at this stage.
The other question with which I wish to deal- I gave Senator Wright an answer on it this morning as Acting Minister for Primary Industryconcerns the payment made to those who suffered loss as a result of revaluation of the Australian currency. It was known at the time the currency was revalued that there would be some who would suffer loss, and provision was made at the time that when loss was suffered and hardship could be shown those concerned would receive compensation from the Government. In reply to Senator Wright this morning I disclosed that of the claims that have been made in the apple industry 90 per cent have been paid.
– They have been authorised to be paid. I think that is what the Minister said this morning and that is probably more accurate.
-They have been authorised to be paid. It is therefore a question of how much we subsidise an unprofitable industry, or a question of whether the money paid in subsidy would be better employed in redeveloping a primary industry in which men could make a living. Our desire is that they be able to make a living. People in primary industry do not want to be subject to the charity of other taxpayers. The money that the Commonwealth has been giving them in the form of subsidies should be given to them for the purpose of redevelopment so that they can have viable land holdings. That is Government policy. Where hardship can be shown on the part of any Tasmanian growers or people in any other primary industry as a result of revaluation, payment will be made by the Australian Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
When a tourist in Australia wants to remain as an immigrant, is it mandatoryfor that person to return to his home country before he can be granted an immigrant visa?
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
On 1 September 1973, a new simplified system was introduced for the issue of tourist visas. On 3 1 July 1973, when officially announcing the new scheme and on 21 August 1973, in answer to a Question Without Notice (House of Representatives Hansard, page15), I clearly stated that applications to remain in Australia would not be accepted from persons who enter on tourist visas.
Consideration will be given to applications to remain from persons who came to Australia as tourists under the criteria existent before 1 September 1973. Each application will be looked at individually.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Environment and Conservation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
At present the dedicated reserves of Gidgealpa are doubtful and it is considered that they will not cover for more than 12 to 14 years the present commitment to supply the City of Sydney.
The facts of the matter are simple and do not suppon criticism of that answer.
The agreement between A.G.L. and the Cooper Basin producers under which gas will be supplied to the Sydney region covers supplies over a period of 30 years.
However, the gas that is to be provided under the agreement from the reserves that have so far been dedicated will be insufficient to meet the total estimated annual requirements in the years beyond 12 to 14. That is to say, on present estimates, it will then be necessary to supplement Gidgealpa gas in order to meet the needs of the Sydney region.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Can the Minister state if the proposed petro-chemical industry in South Australia will be permitted to export any of its production.
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes, such export will be permitted.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– I am advised by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that the answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
5 ) Final clearance is the responsibility of:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Following on the reply of the Attorney-General in an answer to Senate Question No. 258 on 19 September 1973, what convictions were recorded in Australian courts against (a) the Andric brothers, (b) Jure Marie, and (c) Srecko Blaz Rover.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Senate Question No. 258 on 19 September 1973 asked whether the Andric brothers, Jure Marie and Srecko Rover had been ever charged or convicted of any offence in Australia.
I am informed by the Commonwealth Police that the offences for which these persons have been convicted are as follows:
On 1 June 1965 Ambrose Andric was convicted at Geelong Court of Petty Sessions on charges of causing an explosion likely to endanger life and being in possession of explosives without lawful excuse. Ambrose Andric was reported to be a leader with his brother Adolf of the terrorist incursion into Yugoslavia in June 1972.
On 25 May 1970 Jure Marie was convicted at Wollongong Court of Petty Sessions on a charge of operating an unregistered printing press. Jure Marie was the leader in Australia of the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood and had illegally operated a printing press in relation to his activities for the Brotherhood.
On 6 June 1969 Srecko Blaz Rover was convicted at Lancefield Court of Petty Sessions on a charge of maintaining a fire during a relevant summer period. He had also been convicted on 5 April 1966 at the Prahran Court of Petty Sessions on a charge of carrying on the business of a second-hand dealer without being licensed. The conviction relating to the maintenance of a fire was in respect of a fire in a country district of Victoria during a period of total fire ban.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The basis of the honourable senator’s question is incorrect.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Honourable Fred Russel Beauchamp Martin, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria;
The Honourable Sir Edward James Ranembe Morgan, a former Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court
Mr Francis Theodore Page Burt, Q.C., (now a Judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia);
The Honourable Justice Charles Augustine Sweeney, a Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court; and
The Honourable Sir John Armstrong Spicer, Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 November 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731114_senate_28_s58/>.